I didn’t watch the Berg video.

I’d heard about it, was utterly horrified and sickened, so I knew what was coming. Knew I wouldn’t be able to take it. Knew it would be, like, nightmares for years if I did.

Hell, I get disturbed by the ending of Modest Mouse’s “Float On” video.

Pro-war or anti-war, war contractor or innocent, nobody deserves to die like that…

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Friday’s word of the day: “Fungible.”

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It looks like Saturday, June something, I’ll be in Chicago for this big book fair thingie.

I guess I could actually look up the details, but this is like Friday afternoon here. If it wasn’t raining, I’d be hammocking. Looking stuff up is WORK, dawg!

******************

Holy cow, I am SO geeking on “The Office.” The Lovely and Talented Judith picked me up Season 1 on DVD as an anniversary present. The awesomeness of this series is breathtaking. To me, this is as close as comedy gets to pure art. I am simply in awe of this work

******************

Nominees for the Origins Awards were announced earlier this week. Let me be the last gamer to post the nominations on their blog.

I can’t complain, overall. In fact, I’m in kinda a celebratory mood: nine products I either created or had a hand in (in some form or another) are up for awards. The biggest disappointment (to me, at any rate) is that “My Life With Master” didn’t receive a nod for Best RPG. A smaller personal disappointment was that Dork20 (from Atlas Games) didn’t make it into the Best Gaming Accessory category. Also, having three Dork Storm pieces up for the same award (Graphic Fiction”) looks neat on the ballots, but may only serve to split the vote.

Out of the Box didn’t garner a single nomination, but OTB really has its feet in a couple of industries, so I’m not sure if people even think about them when Origins nomination time comes around. It’s hard to complain about this, though, when just about every OTB release is chock-full of other awards, and sales of most of our games range from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands annually.

No Dork Storm products in Best Game-Related Publication? Well, the category description was changed, and our comic books just aren’t eligible any more. Even Dork Tower #25, which had two free board games in it, didn’t come close to having enough pure-gaming material to qualify. Such is life, and I’ve got ABSOLUTELY no beef with the Origins folks on that – it’s their awards, and they can make their requirements whatever they’d like them to be.

It would certainly seem churlish (to say the least) for me to appear upset with awards that have been so generous to me and my work over the years, and truthfully, I’m not. The Origins Awards are not perfect, but they’re the most prestigious that the industry has, thanks to the hard work of many volunteers.

I think the awards will keep growing in stature, though there will always be people pointing out, for example, that Game X was overlooked. That can’t really be helped. Even the Oscars have their fair share of controversy.

So anyhoo, here are my brief thoughts on the awards this year. Feel free to comment or add where you deem necessary.

BOARD GAMES

Best Abstract Board Game

Chief Herman’s Next big Thing from Cheapass Games
Creepy Freaks from WizKids LLC
Ideology, the War of Ideas from Z-Man Games
Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot Deluxe from Atomic Sock Monkey Press
Zendo, the Icehouse Game with the Buddha Nature from Looney Labs

Out of the Box’s Basari is one game I think that deserved mention. But essentially, my feeling is that this category will go to either Cheapass of WizKids. The negative buzz Creepy Freaks’ disappointing sales generated may hurt it in some people’s minds, which is a shame. But the fact that Liz Rathke and I created a bunch of the monsters for the game (among them: Frosty the Snotman; Monster Under the Bed; Bad Milk; Skelehomie; etc…) means we at least have a small stake in this.

Embarassingly, I haven’t played the other games here, but I’ve heard great things about “Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot Deluxe” (and I *must* give this a try! I’ve been meaning to for a while now, and just haven’t gotten around to it yet.)

Best Historical Board Game
Attack! from Eagle Games
Great Pacific War, from Avalanche Press
Senjutsu from Salvador Games
Settlers of the Stone Age, from Mayfair Games
Soldier Emperor, from Avalanche Press

“Settlers of the Stone Age” should probably be in the Abstract Board Game category. But if you do that, surely “Attack!” is more abstract than true historical simulation as well? Truly, a difficult category to get a grip on…

Best Traditional Board Game
A Game of Thrones Board Game, from Fantasy Flight Games
Age of Mythology: the Boardgame, from Eagle Games
Dork Tower, from Steve Jackson Games
Dwarven Dig!, from Kenzer & Company
Indy HeroClix, from WizKids LLC

There are a LOT of great games here. I’m particularly chuffed that the Dork Tower game got a nod. I really believe Phil Reed did an outstanding job designing this. If you’ve never played it, give it a try. There’s not really a weak game in this list, though damn, is it daunting going up against WizKids in ANY category…

Best Board Game Expansion
Attack! Expansion from Eagle Games
Distant Oceans from Avalanche Press
Marvel HeroClix: Critical Mass from WizKids LLC
Zombies 3.5: Not Dead Yet from Twilight Creations
Zombies 3: Mallwalkers from Twilight Creations

Love Zombies 3, though like most Zombies!!! games, the rules could have been clearer Don’t really know about the rest. Busy year last year, you grok?

Best Graphic Design of a Board Game or Expansion
A Game of Thrones Board Game, from Fantasy Flight Games
Dork Tower Board Game from Steve Jackson Games
Dwarven Dig from Kenzer & Company
Pirate’s Cove from Days of Wonder
Settlers of the Stone Age, from Mayfair Games

Again, good job, Phil! (I wonder if my cartoons get me at least a partial nod on the Graphic Design of this). Another strong category from top to bottom, though. It’s really awesome to be in such company.

CARD GAMES

Best Trading Card Game
.hack//ENEMY Trading Card Game, from Decipher, Inc.
Cyberpunk Collectible Card Game, from Social Games
Ophidian 2350, Fleer/Sky Box International
The Simpsons Trading Card Game, from Wizards of the Coast
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files, from Score Entertainment

I’ve absolutely no experience with any of these games. I’d wanted to try The Simpsons, but never got a chance. It’s reviews seemed mixed. Can anybody fill me in on this category?

Best Traditional Card Game
Bang! from Mayfair Games
Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island, from Z-Man Games
Munchkin Fu, from Steve Jackson Games
Nobody But Us Chickens, from Diet Evil Games
Torches & Pitchforks, from Green Ronin Publishing

Wow, again…STRONG category. I could see any entry here winning. “Munchkin Fu” is a favorite in the line (some believe it’s the strongest Munchkin release of all), while “Bang!” was one of the best games I’d played last year. And “Torches & Pitchforks” rocks! Chris Pramas told me he’d considered using me for the art on “Torches & Pitchforks.” I’m glad he didn’t, because this is a GORGEOUS game with its own feel!

Best Card Game Expansion
A Game of Thrones: Ice and Fire Edition from Fantasy Flight Games
Legend of the Five Rings: Diamond Edition from AEG
Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game: Return of the King, from Decipher, Inc
Munchkin 3: Clerical Errors from Steve Jackson Games
Shadowfist: Red Wedding from Z-Man Games

Try and guess my bias here. Go on…take a guess. Grin.

Seriously, I’m really happy with how “Munchkin 3″ turned out. I think it’s my favorite work to date. “Game of Thrones” is pretty fantastic, though, so I don’t think I’ll have a prepared acceptance speech. I just wish I could comment knowledgeably on the other entries

Best Graphic Design of a Card Game or Expansion
Bang! from Mayfair Games
Give Me the Brain, Special Edition from Cheapass Games
Magic: the Gathering Mirrodin Expansion, from Wizards of the Coast
Spooks from Steve Jackson Games
Torches & Pitchforks from Green Ronin Publishing

Hard category, but my personal favorite in another strong field IS…”Torches & Pitchforks,” by a nose…

MINIATURES

Best Fantasy Miniatures Rules
Celtos from I-Kore
Dwarf Wars from West Wind Productions
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop
Mage Knight 2.0 from WizKids, LLC
Warmachine from Privateer Press

OMG, how embarrassing! John, Minis Geek Extarordinare, has only played one game from this list. But even if the others were, like, the Second Coming, it would be hard seeing “Mage Knight 2.0″ lose this one. However, is it different enough from Mage Knight 1.0 to really warrant it’s own award? I really love the game, but still…it’s something to think about.

Best Fantasy Miniatures Series
Dork Tower Miniatures from Steve Jackson Games
Elmore Masterworks series from Dark Sword Miniatures
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King series from Games Workshop
Mage Knight 2.0 series from WizKids, LLC
Warmachine series from Privateer Press

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! I love how the Dork Towerminis turned out! I am so amazingly over the moon with them, I can’t begin to describe it, But, dawg, they;re like up against WizKids AND Games Workshop. We don’t have a chance. But I can’t say enough about how they totally rock!

Best Science Fiction Miniatures Rules
Diceland: Space, from Cheapass Games
Final Days, from Kenzer & Company
Prehistoric War PIGs, from Inner City Games Designs
Shadowrun Duels, from WizKids, LLC
Supersystem Showdown, from West Wind Productions

Rules-wise, I don’t think Shadowrun is WizKids at its best, but after last year I am NOT betting against them…

Best Science Fiction Miniatures Series
Mech Warrior: Liao Incursion, from WizKids LLC
Aerotech 2: Drop Ships, Jumpships & Warships, from Iron Wind Metals
Ogre Mk VI, from Steve Jackson Games
Street Violence, from Wargames Foundry
Silver Age Sentinels 30mm Superhero Miniatures, from Guardians of Order

Gut feeling is WizKids has this locked up. Mech Warrior has some of the coolest toys I’ve ever seen. I like the Silver Age Sentinals minis, but they didn’t really blow me away. And though I’m a huge Ogre fan, how does a single figure qualify for the “Science Fiction SERIES” category? Yes, I know it’s legal, but it’s the kinda thing that still works against the Origins Awards’ reputation. (Note: this is a MINOR quibble. But one that was the first thing I thought when I saw the list). Also: No Games Workshop?

Best Historical Miniatures Rules
Classical Hack, 2nd Edition, LMW Works
El Cid, Warhammer Historical Wargames, Ltd.
High Tide, Clash of Arms
Santa Anna Rules, 2nd Edition, Jodie Press
Shield Wall, Warhammer Historical Wargames, Ltd.

I like the idea behind Warhammer Historical Wargames, since anything to get the Kids into historical minis is way cool by me. But “Shield Wall” is a supplement, not a full set of rules. I found the original “Hack” OK, but haven’t had a chance to check out the second edition yet.

Best Historical Miniatures Series
25mm Dracula and the Turkish Frontier series, from Old Glory Miniatures UK
28mm Ancient Celts series, from Renegade Miniatures
28mm Back of Beyond series, from Copplestone Casting
28mm El Cid series, from Gripping Beast
28mm WWII Elite Forces, from Wargames Foundry

Old Glory and Gripping Beast are great, but Wargames Foundry is worth every penny you have to shell out for them. Wow, these are stunning figures. I’m addicted — officially

Best Miniatures Accessory or Terrain
Aurora-Class Drop Ship, from WizKids, LLC
Delux Skirmishpack, from Charon Productions
Euro Village Series II Corner Inn, from Miniatures Building Authority
Gael Longhouse, from I-Kore
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King-Ruins of Middle Earth, from Games Workshop

To me, it’s a toss-up between WizKids and GW. A real Apples-to-Oranges category, this one…

GAME ACCESSORIES

Best Game Aid or Accessory
Bag o’ Zombies from Twilight Creations
Dirt Cheep Cityscapes from Microtactix Games
Larry Elmore Clip Art & Color Customizing Studio, Elmore Productions
Mage Knight 3D Dungeon Tiles from WizKids, LLC
The Mongoose Pocket Player’s Handbook, from Mongoose Publishing

I use my Bag o’ zombies for tons of stuff – even keeping track of Slack points in Chez Geek. And I’d be a heppy, heppy ket indeed if Microtactix pulled off the upset here. The clip art is kewl, and I find the Mongoose Pocket Player’s Handbook incredibly useful, but I love the Mage Knight 3-D Dungeon Tiles, and would be shocked if that didn’t take this award.

FICTION

Best Game-Related Fiction, Long Form
By Temptations and By War (for MechWarrior: Dark Age) from WizKids, LLC
Forged (for Oathbound) from Bastion Press
Journey Into the Void (for Sovereign Stone) from HarperCollins
Sabbat Martyr for (Warhammer 40,000) from The Black Library
The Book of Final Flesh (for All Flesh Must Be Eaten) from Eden Studios

If anything’s suffered from my hectic schedule, it’s been my reading. I haven’t picked up a single one of these. What do people recommend?

Best Game-Related Fiction, Short Form
“Podo and the Magic Shield” (for Mage Knight) from WizKids, LLC
“Grass and Sea” (for Skull and Bones) from Green Ronin Publishing
“Igor’s Last Date (The Legend of Serape Bob)” (for Dork Tower) from Dork Storm Press
“The Night Chicago Died” (for All Flesh Must Be Eaten) from Eden Studios
“The Price of Freedom” (for Mage Knight) from WizKids, LLC

Oh, cripes, I am as giddy as a manga schoolgirl that Mike Stackpole’s “Igor’s Last Date” got nominated. I was so happy when Mike agreed to contribute something to Dork Tower 25, and people LOVED that story. I get so many requests to bring Kayleigh’s sister in as a regular character, it’s amazing. So my fingers are crossed on this one. I’m doing a big-time happy dance for Mike!

Best Game-Related Graphic Fiction
“Air Action” (for Crimson Skies) from WizKids, LLC
“Everybody Loves Gilly” from Snapdragons, Dork Storm Press
“Kayleigh’s Back” (for Dork Tower) from Dork Storm Press
“Lord of the Hirelings: Return of the Bling-Bling” (for Nodwick) from Dork Storm Press
“Tears for Everyman” (for Mutants & Masterminds) from Green Ronin Publishing

Aaaaaaah, three Dork Storm comics competing against each other. Personally, I’m very proud of the work Liz and I did on SnapDragons, while “Lord of the Hirelings” is certainly Aaron at his very, very best. “Kayleigh’s Back” was an important story for me, and it’s nice that it got a nod. I will now search out the other stories, but shudder once more to be up against WizKids.

PERIODICAL

Best Game-Related Periodical
Dragon Magazine, from Paizo Publishing
Dungeon Magazine from Paizo Publishing
InQuest Gamer from Wizard Entertainment
Knights of the Dinner Table, from Kenzer & Company
Pyramid Online from Steve Jackson Games

The Dork Tower comic strip runs in Dragon and Pyramid Online, so I’ve got a small but still vested interest in this category. Hard to say which I think is the “best,” since both are very different beasts indeed. The Dork Tower comic book is no longer eligible in this category, but at least I can say I won two in a row before being kicked out! Grin.

OK. Seriously, i see this as a complete toss-up. Nobody here is unworthy, and nobody would shock me if they won.

PLAY-BY-MAIL

Best Play-By-Mail Game
Button Men Web Game, from Cheapass Games
Immortal’s Realm, from Harlequin Games
Imperial Wars, from Intelligent Life Games
Middle Earth Play By Mail Game, from GSI, Inc.
Starweb, from Flying Buffalo, Inc.

I’ve played none of these, but my assumption is Button Men will win just by familiarity to most voters.

ROLEPLAYING

Best Roleplaying Game
Angel Roleplaying Game, from Eden Studios
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, Wizards of the Coast
Savage Worlds, from Pinnacle/Great White Games
High Adventure Role Playing, from Iron Crown Enterprises
Stargate SG1 Roleplaying Game, from AEG

OK. This is a great category, hampered only (to my way of thinking) by “My Life With Master”‘s absence. Should D&D 3.5 be in? I can see good arguments on both side. I guess, in the end, I’d rather have seen MLWM there than D&D 3.5, but here’s my Dark Horse pick that will most likely NOT win, but should get more attention: Shane Hensley’s Savage Worlds.

Best Roleplaying Adventure
Black Sails Over Freeport, from Green Ronin Publishing
Champions Battlegrounds, Hero Games
The Village of Omelet: A Space Odyssey, from Steve Jackson Games
Time of Crisis, from Green Ronin Publishing
Xcrawl: Three Rivers Crawl, from Pandahead Productions

I’ll sit on my hands, here. Never played them, never read them, never even got a copy of the Munchkin Master’s Screen which is where, I believe, “The Village of Omelet” first appeared…(hint, hint, hint, folks at SJG. Grin)

Best Roleplaying Supplement
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe, from Expeditious Retreat Press
Draconomicon: The Book of Dragons, from Wizards of the Coast
Redhurst: Academy of Magic, from Human Head Studios
Skull & Bones: Swashbuckling Horror in the Golden Age of Piracy from Green Ronin Publishing
Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era, from Green Ronin Publishing

Enjoyed most of the nominees here, but I was blown away by “Testament’s” treatment of its subject. Still, this is the category which (I think) has the greatest “But-They-Left-Out-(fill in the blank)” factor, as there were many solid releases last year.

Best Graphic Design in Book Format
Angel Roleplaying Game Core Book, from Eden Studios
BESM D20 Deluxe Limited Edition, from Guardians of Order
Crooks! from Green Ronin Publishing
Draconomicon: the Book of Dragons, from Wizards of the Coast
Redhurst: Academy of Magic, from Human Head Studios

Painful, painful choice to be made here. I’m glad I donlt have to make it yet. I can’t say there’s a weak link here.

Two questions:

1) What, in your mind, was the single greatest omission in the Origins Awards this year?

2) What is the one nominee that makes you the happiest?

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Spring arrived in Wisconsin like a cat: all of a sudden you look up, and it’s sitting right in your lap.

The Lovely and Talented Judith and I went bird watching at Crex Meadows for our anniversary last week, and saw dozens of cranes, swans, geese, an eagle and its young, coots, loons and the like. Even a biblical-level infestation if ticks couldn’t dampen the day.

Our backyard, too, has seen some peckish migrants belly up to the birdfeeder. No indigo buntings yet, but plenty of oriels, grossbeaks and such have stopped by in the last few days. I’m not really a “birder” per se, but it is amazing living out in the country. A few storms that blew in over the weekend seem to have robbed the trees of most of the blossoms, but the air is still heavy with the scent of flowers and promise.

Work’s going well on a variety of fronts that I’ll try and write about soon. I’ve been drawing three or four comic pages a day (hence no posts recently), finishing up various games, getting a little writing it, and even getting to some projects that I’ve left far too long. Like this one:

More on this later. Grin.

Anyhoo, if I had time, I’d try to get the RPG Database to update this. Really, it’s not hard to extrapolate that if I have credits on two comic books (Dork Tower #10 and #22, quizzically), I might have some more in between them.

I suspect, though, that “Other Game Credits: Every single damn piece Out of the Box has ever produced, along with half of Steve Jackson’s non-GURPS inventory” wouldn’t be that helpful to them anyway, if indeed I did find time to drop them a note.

I’m not really peeved at these guys: it’s a good idea, and I hope they do well with it. I’m more annoyed at myself – I fear I’ve never made a comprehensive list of every game or magazine I’ve ever had work in. One day I must, but lord knows, it’s hard enough even getting the INWO cards I’ve done sorted in any kind of order.

And anyway, Spring is here, and it’s magnificent.

If I’m not at my drawing table, I’ll to be outside.

I think I’ll leave correcting oversights until the winter…

John

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