Steam Foil Cards Suck

You can’t eat Steam foil cards. They’re not even actually foil. Are they really just a crash grab on Valve’s part?

Steam Foil Cards Suck

PC games have borrowed a lot from tabletop gaming. Take most PC RPGs, which borrow heavily from conventions established by Dungeons & Dragons. Foil cards were made popular with games like Magic: the Gathering and Pokémon.

Sometimes the borrowing makes sense, sometimes it just doesn’t work. In Steam’s case, the “foil” cards are just rarer and have a boring grey border. Considering how easy it would be to add an animation to the art assets, this feels lazy. It also doesn’t add any real benefit to the collector.

DriveThruRPG.com

I have a bunch of great foil cards for Magic, which usually go straight into my favourite decks. They’re a status symbol, but also a nice way that WotC has rewarded me for all that money I’ve thrown their way. I feel no need to collect them, but I enjoy the ones I have for what they are. I have no such feelings for Steam’s foil cards.

MTG Arena has animated “foil” cards, by the way, some of which are very appealing.

foil MTG card

It’s not all that hard to add an animation to a card. You could make an animated shine layer that goes over the image, or add an animated sheen to the border. There are tons of great animation examples on the web that are only as complicated as a gif. Here are a few cheesy ones:

George Redhawk GIF - George Redhawk Surreal GIFs

Golden Rose GIF - Golden Rose GIFs

They’re pretty bad, but they’re not tough to make or run in Steam’s client, and would be a huge improvement on the static image their foil cards have now.

Another Solution

Calling them “foil” cards is really just based on a tabletop convention, so why doesn’t Valve create their own convention? As far as I can tell, Steam cards don’t have any level of rarity, so call them “gold” cards or rares. Call them “Steam-Os” for all we care.

Just don’t call them foil cards.

Guitar Wire for Mini Converting Victory! — MM 51

It’s Mini Monday, and this week I’m going to introduce you to my new favourite kitbashing and converting substance: guitar wire.

Mini Monday Logo

Metal guitar wire, as far as I understand, comes in six thicknesses: thin, thicker… well, you get the picture. What matters is that it has many great properties that make it perfect for miniature conversion and kitbashing work:

  1. It’s wire, so you can bend it and cut it like wire!
  2. It’s tightly wound and won’t uncoil like a spring might.
  3. It’s the perfect thickness for detail work and comes in a variety of thicknesses, so you can use whichever size works best for the job you’re doing.
  4. One string goes a very long way.
  5. Once bent, guitar wire maintains its shape fairly well.
  6. Musicians throw it away when they’re done with it. That’s right, it’s literally free if you know somebody who plays the guitar.

Guitar wire for mini converting

Ask Not What You Can Do For Guitar Wire…

DriveThruRPG.comGuitar wire gets used for pipes and cables mostly (first mini, above), but here are a few more ideas:

  1. Guts! Check out mini number 2, above!
  2. Arms! Mini number 3 had her arm rebuilt with thick guitar wire and modelling epoxy. The original arm was hopelessly too short, but the bendable wire made this an easy fix. I like the ribbed detailing it gives her arm where I left the wire exposed.
  3. Handles! He-Man (yes, he’s finally here!) has an all-new axe with a handle made from our wonder material. This detail alone brings the axe much closer to the toy axe I got with my action figure. Watch out, Beast Man!
  4. Coins! Because they’re so tightly wound, you could use guitar wire to make miniature-size stacks of coins.
  5. Armature Wire! Because it retains its shape after bending, I figure it’ll work well as armature wire — the wire used as a skeleton for modelling clay when making figures.
  6. Joints! Laid horizontally, you could fill gaps in knees or elbows to simulate more complex joints.
  7. Toast! I’ll bet guitar wire makes great toast. Ah, guitar wire…

That’s it. That’s all I have to say. Go get yourself some and give it a try if you’ve never played with it. I promise… this stuff rocks…

Captain Nemo’s Scimitar, a D&D 5e Artifact

Captain Nemo’s scimitar is a powerful artifact that you can add to your undersea Dungeons & Dragons 5e campaign.

Nemo’s Scimitar

Weapon (scimitar), artifact (requires attunement)

The legendary Captain Nemo was a consummate gentleman and an amicable diplomat who made many friends, both above and below the waves. It is said that he counted sphinxes and phoenixes among his closest advisors, and that it is they who helped him build the vessel his name is synonymous with: the Nautilus (see Undersea Sourcebook: Feats and Equipment).

Captain Nemo's Scimitar

While the Nautilus was being completed, a companion blade was forged, a scimitar linked to the vessel by powerful magic. The scimitar would serve as a mark of rank and ownership, while its arcane link to the great vessel would be able to bring the Nautilus back from disaster if their planned journey to the ocean depths ever became too perilous.

Although the scimitar is not required to command or pilot the Nautilus, it is a common misconception that the scimitar is its key, and that the Nautilus would be powerless without it. This misinformation has inspired many of Nemo’s rivals to steal the sword, though none have yet succeeded.



While attuned to the scimitar, you can breathe air or water, have a swimming speed of 30-feet if you don’t have a better swimming speed, and are immune to the effects of extreme cold.

Call the Nautilus. If you are holding the scimitar and are within 120 feet of a body of water big enough to hold it, you can, as an action, call the Nautilus (Underwater Sourcebook: Feats & Equipment). The vessel teleports to your location if it is on the same plane. If the Nautilus has been destroyed, it appears with 1 Hit Point remaining for each of its components. You can’t use this property again until 3 days have passed.

Captain’s Gate. If you are holding the scimitar, you can use your action to cast gate, linking a spot you can see to the captain’s quarters within the Nautilus. You can’t use this ability again until after a long rest.

Conjure Shield Guardian. If you are holding the scimitar, you can use your action to conjure a shield guardian. You can conjure it within 30 feet of you or within the Nautilus. In either case, it is bound to the scimitar, which acts as the shield guardian’s bound amulet. The shield guardian dissipates after 1 hour. You can’t use this ability again until dawn.

Destroying the Scimitar. The only way to destroy the scimitar is to melt it down within an underwater volcano, alongside a power crystal from the Nautilus.

Captain Nemo's Scimitar


Wanna be a Great GM? Get an Education!

So, you want to impress the boys at your local with your masterful storytelling? Figure you’ll show the ladies a good time with dice and an epic quest? Looking to put “Professional GM” on your CV? Well then, if you want to be a great GM (or DM, or Storyteller), then you need to get an education.

What kind of education? I’m not talking about school — stay in school kids — I’m talking about life experiences.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Why?

Rules are great. Acting skills are useful. Improv skills are even better. Knowing and understanding all the tools available to you, that’s the road to being really great.

But all of this isn’t very useful without some real experiences. Some fuel for the creative fire.

Go ride a horse. Practice martial arts. Write with a quill pen. Hike up a mountain. Go camping. Gut a fish. Travel.

Real experiences always beat book learning. What you’ve lived through becomes a part of you in a way clinical understanding never can.

Have you ever noticed that many writers, those brave souls who battle with pen and paper their whole lives, struggle to sell a good novel, while non-writers (usually sportspeople and explorers) seem to create best-selling books without much effort? There are exceptions, but I’ll bet that the key ingredient here is substance. Those with real experiences have something meaty to offer.

A poorly-researched example, as Exhibit A: Stephen King cited being hit by a car as inspiration for many of his books. I’m not sure which, but my Google-fu tells me it’s a bunch. Sorry, Stephen, you’re free to pipe up in the comments.

Your experiences are beautiful pigments for painting truly memorable images at the table. Your fantasy games will be so much more real when you embellish them with realistic details drawn from your experiences.

So look, listen, and learn. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Thanks to The Five Foot Square for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. Do go check them out and join in the fun.

While you’re here, please check out our store or our Drive-Thru RPG page. We have loads of publications for D&D 5e, Pathfinder, and unique systems we know you’ll love.

Paint Minis While the Sun Shines — MM 50

It’s funny how some things affect others. Take the weather, for instance. Here in South Africa, in the Highveld where Rising Phoenix Games is based, we have dry, hot summers and dry, cool winters. When it rains, painting is magic.

Mini Monday Logo

When it’s dry, which is most of the time, paint doesn’t last long unless you’re using a wet palette. Spray paint, on the other hand, flows well and drys quickly (which is great for second and third coats).

Paint Minis
Have you ever primed with gold? These minis, predominantly from Wrath of Ashardalon, are ready for my next painting session.

The point of this rambly post is simple: make the most of what you’ve got.

Is it raining and great for painting? Then paint. Is it hot and sunny? Maybe spray some minis or build terrain in the shade.

Think about your momentum. Don’t let the weather be an excuse. Don’t let anything be an excuse. Paint what you can, when you can. Adapt and prosper. When life gives you lemons…

You’re bright and intelligent, you don’t need me to mother you, so I’ll stop there and switch to anecdote mode. Draw up a chair, my dears, and listen…

A Tale of Trial and Tribulation

In the last few years, just before Covid, I was painting like a madman. I’d managed to get through loads of Orks and Gretchin, as well as many fantasy miniatures. I’d jumped into the hobby again and was loving it, learning, and gaining huge confidence.

Then Covid threw its proverbial in the proverbial and I had very little time for minis. Chalk this one up to life experiences and learning to appreciate the time you have! But you can’t sweat the small things. If anything, the pandemic took away but also gave. Mini painting became the way to enjoy the hobby, and there were fewer distractions (no kid’s parties, family engagements, or going to the mall to waste time).

So, we’re back here again, at the point. Do what you can with what you have. And that’s not just with painting minis.

Hawk and Dove: Countdown (#7, Dec ’89)

Hawk and Dove: Countdown (#7, Dec ’89) is written by Barbara and Karl Kesel, with Greg Guler penciling and Scott Hanna inking. This one is worth a look.

I think DC just made a new fan!

(Honestly, I never thought I’d say that. Make mine Marvel! Okay, okay, make mine Marvel and Dove. It’s just one exception. Oh, and Mouse Guard. Fine. Make mine Marvel, Mice, and Dove.)

Hawk and Dove #7

The Good

Hawk and Dove #7 was written by wife and husband team Barbara and Karl Kesel, and they represent the titular guy and gal duo perfectly. This issue opens with Dawn Granger (Dove) being chased through a spooky house by its occultish occupants and their pet tigers. Despite the danger, Dawn doesn’t swoon at the first sign of trouble or kick butt with abandon; she feels real enough, which helps the suspense build without the damsel-in-distress vibes we dudes are so fond of writing.

Dawn is the perfect partner for the brash Hank Hall (Hawk), who we meet next. He’s the muscle, she’s the brains. It might seem simple, but the tension in their relationship works and keeps the story flowing.

There’s no romantic twist to the story, at least not yet, which helps the team stand out from other comic teams. This isn’t Scott Summers and Jean Grey, or Peter Parker and Felicia Hardy, and I appreciate that. (I still love you guys!)

Overall, it’s a well-written comic.

Notable Points
Action on every page, drama, great art, monsters, mysterious villains, esoteric magic, this issue delivers all of that in spades.

Also, the fashion represented in this issue is far more tasteful, while still sexy, than anything I’ve seen in other DC comics from this era. No cringy 80’s music video vibes, and that’s worth a star all by itself!

Seek This Out
I’ll be looking for more Hawk and Dove for sure. They might not be as well known as Superman, Batman, or the Flash, but this team has something worthy of your attention.

4 out of 5 Cheeky Cthulhus!

4 out of 5 Cthulus

 


Flash: Red Trinity (#7, December ‘87)

Flash: Red Trinity (#7, December ‘87), by Baron, Guice, and Mahlstedt. This is gonna be fast, so try to keep up…

Flash: Red Trinity (Flash #7, Dec '87)

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and YES. Finally, some hot-blooded hero action, an engaging plot, and the character development we need.

The Good

Tina’s plight now has me hooked. Real consequences, that’s what we needed. This issue has action on most pages too, so the soap opera vibe of issues #2 and Flash #5 is gone. Joy!

I’m tempted to go back and fill out my collection, and if a comic can do that, it has won half the battle.

The Bad

McGee (Flash #5) was basically evil Flash. The new baddies, the Red Trinity team, adds three more Flash-wannabes. You can guess what Blue Trinity will give us. Is the concept of super speedy people that interesting that we need eight of them? I’ve also heard of this Reverse-Flash dude, and I know about Impulse. Impulse works because he has a strong character flaw: he’s impulsive. At this point, the villains seem like they were only written with super speed so they could keep up with the main character, and that’s boring.

What about a bad guy that could make Flash go even faster? Uncontrollably fast. Too-fast-Flash could be a real danger to himself and others. Doppelganger-Flash one through 7 is just repetitive and confusing. And I’ve lost track of who is who in Red Trinity already.

Synopsis

Flash’s powers make him the ultimate plot device; a master of the segue. Think about it. He’s able to reach the next scene before the reader. That must make him difficult to write. There’s no need for a shot of a jet flying off to the next mission, no pause before the next battle. Instant combat, just add water. As a writer, you probably need to spend a lot of time slowing the Flash down.

This ish gets a solid 3 out of 5 Cheeky Cthulhus from me. It’s worth reading if you can get your hands on it, but there really isn’t anything amazing going on here, so it’s not a must-have. If you’re a die-hard Flash fan, then maybe check out Flash: Red Trinity anyway.

3 out of 5 Cheeky Cthulhus


Why is the RPG Industry Growing?

Despite Covid-19’s reign of terror, the RPG industry looks healthier than ever. But why? In a time when we couldn’t get around the table with friends, this surely wasn’t what anyone predicted. So, why is the RPG industry growing?

Playtesting Horde
Our lone hero gets ready to repel the undead legion.

I recently read articles about the growth of the manga and comic book industries. Despite the global pandemic, piracy, any economic downturn, and other negative factors, these market segments proved robust enough to keep growing. The tabletop RPG industry is also reportedly growing, with ICv2 citing a 31% growth in the RPG market in 2020. This growth is great, but what’s actually driving this growth?

I’m asking. I don’t know.

Many of the people who read my blog are intelligent folks who know things though. Maybe their insights will help us figure out the answer.
That means you, so sound off in the comments.

I suspect that community content is certainly playing its part. Websites like the Dungeons Masters Guild and Storytellers Vault give GMs (and DMs, and Storytellers) a way to earn something from the content they’re creating for their games anyway. Now, Paizo is joining the community content market with their own Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite initiatives. It’s a solid route for a publisher with a strong IP to go.

Streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube probably brings in more players and more book sales, though I’m not too familiar with the streaming scene and its impact. I’m guessing. I do know that watching HarmonQuest always got me amped to play though. It’s the perfect kind of marketing that worked for TV: look at us, we’re happy (playing D&D), you should join us and also (play D&D).

Being at home more might have had an impact too, though I don’t know how many people are still spending most of their time at home. After a few months of lockdown I picked up skateboarding again, maybe many others have dived back into roleplaying? I’d love to find the numbers and know the actual trends.

Then there’s the virtual tabletop boom, and of particular interest to us, the growth of solo RPG gaming.

Most likely, all of these factors are because of the pandemic. If that’s the case, then should we expect the market to contract as the world recovers from Covid? Nothing is forever, as they say.

Above is a short poll I did at the start of the year. I didn’t get loads of responses, but if this is any indication of how people and the market reacted to the crisis, then it’s worth digging deeper and understanding exactly what’s going on. My feeling is that demand outpaced supply, leading to better sales. What do you think?

If you like knowing about the RPG industry, you should add your voice to Kim Frandsen’s RPG questionnaire, which is running until October 1st, 2021. He’ll send out the results via e-mail if you add yours to your response. He’ll also be publishing his findings on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, so connect with him now.

Flash #5: Speed McGee (October ‘87): #CritFail

Flash #5: Speed McGee (October ‘87), by Baron, Guice, and Torrance. Let’s take a peek.

You can find our look at Flash #2 here on the Rising Phoenix Games blog.

Flash #5: Speed McGee
Yes, yes you can judge this one by its cover.

Here we get to a well-known issue with older DC comics.

The Good

The comic opens on a scene of graphic domestic abuse, then goes on to blame the wife-beater’s violent streak on steroids. Well done to DC for tackling tough issues.

The Bad

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t make great use of the setup. Wally (Flash) meets Tina (whose husband is mainlining ‘roids into his increasingly angry brain) in a very public restaurant. You’d expect the big floppy hat, scarf in summer, and dark glasses, but still, would anybody really manage to meet in public? Especially when your appointment is with the Flash, the same guy who can be anywhere, instantly?

Wally and Tina are quick to hook up, even after she affirms her loyalty to her deranged husband, making the wife-beating feel like a thin excuse for Wally to get the girl. Was it necessary?

The Ugly

In 22 pages you get 13 boring shots of the Flash in his full kit, while you get 20 great shots of the villain being a bad Flash that takes only 4 pages. I thought I came here to see superheroes?

Still, I’d be fine with the villain flexing if the drama was good.

So, here’s the crunch.

In the Marvel vs DC showdown of the 80s, Marvel was known for writing identifiable characters we could sympathise with. Peter Parker having issues with his boss? We get that. Rogue trying to fit in? Been there. The Hulk struggling to manage his temper? Now you’re getting personal.

The Wally-Flash, on the other hand, has millionaire problems. He’s twenty, she’s 31. He’s single, she’s married. Should he? Shouldn’t he? Come on!

Overall, Issue #5’s tough-to-stomach premise made the millionaire-problems even more unpalatable.

Hard skip.


Dakka-Mart, our Gretchin Gun Shop — MM 49

It’s Mini Monday, with customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week we’re building Dakka-Mart, our Gretchin Gun Shop.

Mini Monday Logo

The trash speaks to me. It tells me to make things. Inconceivable things of waste and scrap.

It’s all very Orky.

The Gretchin Gun Shop uses a bit of hardboard for the base, some corrugated cardboard for the walls, bits of old pens and medicinal sprays for the turret, and spaghetti for the bullets.

That’s right, I chopped up dry spaghetti for the piles of bullet casings. Don’t worry if they’re not of equal length or if they break skew. This is terrain, so it’s not worth stressing over if it’s just going to sit on the tabletop. It’ll look fine when you paint it.

Gretchin Gun Shop - Dakka-Mart

In fact, you don’t want your terrain to outshine your models, so you have loads of leeway when crafting and painting something like this.

The guns and potato-mashers were made from bits of sprue and toy guns I had lying around. The knife was a bit of plastic card cut to shape, with cord glued to the handle. I twisted bits of thin wire around the weapons and then glued them to the walls.

Gretchin Gun Shop Side 2

Hold on though, I want to talk about effort more.

I knocked the main shape of this out in my lunch break, then spent another two hours or so on the details. Painting was quick too. I started this on Friday and was done by Sunday evening. It was a slap-dash paint job done in bad light, but I’m happy enough to have more Orky terrain. Which is the point: you don’t need to spend hours and hours on terrain pieces.

Heck, you don’t even need to spend loads of time on your miniatures.

A little effort is better than no effort. A little colour is better than grey plastic. The terrain you have is better than the terrain you don’t have.

So just go for it. Make stuff. Don’t let expectations of quality hold you back.

Gretchin Gun Shop Painted

Be the Hero