Cheap gaming headset just as nice as my expensive one

This $33 Bengoo stereo gaming headset is every bit as nice as my $100+ one.

Gaming and marijuana do not mix. I break headsets and controllers pretty regularly, every few months something gets dropped hard, or yanked off my head by a dog running past and catching the cable (OUCH!!!) I get tired of replacing them.

This Bengoo headset feels every bit as nice as the expensive SkullCandy set it is replacing. The plastic is just as plastic. The ear cups and padding are plenty comfortable. The sound and volume control seems very much the same.

The headset has a very nice cable that annoyingly has permanently affixed stereo and USB jacks. I have used the velcro cable tender that came with to hold the un-used cable end (USB for me) out of the way. The volume and mute controls are super functional and in a good place on the cable.

The mic works well. Adjust the sensitivity if it is not picking up your clear and cogent call-outs.

There is minor price variation based on the color you pick. The unit is labeled "Kotion" who appears to be the manufacturer. I am not sure what a Bengoo is, a Benji is my brother.

I can direction-ally identify footsteps in Fortnite again.

BENGOO G9000 Stereo Gaming Headset for PS4, PC, Xbox One via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

All six Myst games will soon be available on Windows 10 for the first time

If you had a Windows PC with a CD drive in the mid-1990s, the percentages are pretty good that you lost countless hours of sleep to playing Myst. Full of difficult but rewarding puzzles and featuring a captivating story with an ending that was dictated by your in-game actions, the game was cutting-edge stuff, back in the day. Myst's popularity led to five sequels to the game. Now, a Kickstarter campaign is making it possible for Windows 10 users to replay or discover all six games in the series for the first time.

According to Tech Crunch, Myst's original development house, Cyan Inc., has bought the rights back to all six of the games in the series and will be re-releasing them to run on Windows 10, to celebrate Myst's 25th anniversary. The games will be released as a set, which can be had as a digital download or as a boxed set of DVDs. The Kickstarter campaign for the games, which has already far surpassed what Cyan needed in order to churn the updated version of the games out, also offers investors the option to own replicas of items used in the original games and hand-drawn pieces of concept art.

While I was more of a Warcraft: Orcs & Humans guy, most of my friends back in the day were nuts for Myst. While a couple of the sequels to the original game have been available to play on Windows 10 for some time now, I can only imagine that the ability to play all six games in the series on a modern PC will be attractive to a ton of gamers, both new and old. Read the rest

Good deal on Nintendo Switch carrying case: $4 including shipping

AmazonBasics makes a good Nintendo Switch carrying case, with a pocket to store cables and a place to hold up to 10 game cartridges. I bought one a couple of months ago for $12, but right now Amazon is selling it for just $4 with free same day shipping for Prime customers. Read the rest

Watch the world's oldest board game, The Royal Game of Ur, being played

Last year, in celebration of International Tabletop Day, the British Museum did several videos of Merlin the Magician, er... Irving Finkel, the Assistant Curator of Ancient Mesopotamian script, talking about and playing The Royal Game of Ur, an over 4-millennium-old game from Mesopotamia.

Finkel has spent the lion's share of his life trying to decipher the history and rules of this ancient, 2-person racing game. The museum had a copy of the board (which Finkel made a replica of as a child), but had no idea which rules set went with it. Fortuitously, among the museum's 3500 clay tablets, Finkel eventually managed to uncover an analysis of the game, written by a Mesopotamian astronomer, and from there was able to reverse engineer the rules (and matched the rules to the mysterious gameboard artifact in the museum's collection).

There are some interesting mechanics here, including using 4-sided dice that have two white tips. An upright white tip counts as a 1. The Royal Game of Ur looks really fun, and surprisingly exciting to play. Finkel points out that it's the kind of game that, when one player falls behind the other, it actually gives them a momentary advantage and that creates a kind of back and forth, quickly changing fortunes dynamic that makes for a tense game. Finkel also points out that the original board had a built-in drawer to house the dice and playing pieces, a design that's still used in chess and other boards over 4,000 years later. Read the rest

Confession: You can't trust a junkie with a new laptop

There's still plenty of life left in my 2015 MacBook Pro. But sooner or later, I'll ditch my computer in favor something new.

The nerd in me is wicked excited with the notion of using an ultra light laptop with an external graphics processor, for several reasons. I've always wanted to own a gaming laptop, but I could never justify the price, or the weight of one in my bag. Going with a computer that can connect to an external GPU means that I could invest in the laptop first, and then the GPU when I could afford it. And since the GPU for the rig is external, I wouldn't be forced to carry around a heavy bastard of a computer with me every time I needed to take off on assignment. That said, I was hesitant to buy one without seeing how it'd perform, first and foremost, as a work machine. I really like the look of the Razer Blade Stealth: the laptop's industrial design is what Apple might have come up with if their design department had a shred of edge or attitude. So, relying on the privilege of my position as a tech journalist, I asked Razer if I could borrow one.

They said yes.

I spent the past month working on Razer's insanely well-built ultrabook. It was pimped out with 16GB of dual channel RAM, and an Intel Core i7 2.70Ghz processor. It's zippy! But then, that's in comparison to my daily driver: a three year old Core i5 with 8GB of RAM. Read the rest

Meet vintage videogaming's archivist extraordinaire

Back in 2012, we published a feature about Frank Cifaldi, one of the world's leading collectors of rare vintage videogames and related ephemera. Since then, Cifaldi founded the Video Game History Foundation, dedicated to preserving this vibrant art form's history and culture for the ages.

(Vice) Read the rest

'Sneakers' was an extremely popular Apple ][ game

I remember Sneakers as being far, far more exciting than it apparently was.

So much for memory. Read the rest

In search of an awesome general interest gaming magazine

Last year, I went on a bit of a quest. For years, as a tabletop gamer who played Warhammer 40K almost exclusively, I subscribed to White Dwarf (or "White Dork" as my late wife used to call it). This is the slick and expensive Games Workshop publication that exclusively covers WH40K and other GW games. But as my ravenous game appetite expanded to wanting to pig out on all manner of miniature, board, RPG, and card games, I began to look for magazines that covered all of these. To my surprise, I discovered that there weren't any. Or, at least, I couldn't find one.

There are a number of excellent and beautifully-produced tabletop wargame magazines, such as Wargames Illustrated and Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy. And there are mags that cover board and family games, such as Casual Game Insider. And then there is GTM, Game Trade Magazine, a magazine targeted at your FLGS ("friendly local game store). But where was the magazine that covers all forms of analog gaming? There's a tabletop gaming revolution going on. So where is the house organ?

Here it is. Tabletop Gaming magazine. This very handsome UK-based monthly covers all manner of board games, RPGs, card games, historical wargames, miniature games, dice games, party games, you name it. I didn't even have high expectations for the contents of such a magazine, but Tabletop Gaming delivers a very well-designed and well-written publication that examines every aspect of the gaming hobby. Feature articles cover new games being developed, aspects of game history, culture, art, design, the gaming industry, even the psychology and science of gaming. Read the rest

Nintendo's new cardboard extensions for Switch are blowing users away

Everyone is raving about Nintendo Labo, simple contraptions made with cardboard and circuits that turn a Switch into a whole new experience. Read the rest

Gorgeous, free, and downloadable DnD Character Sheets

Someone on the D&D 5th Edition Facebook group posted a link to these really lovely and very playable-looking 5e character sheets. The designer of the sheets, William Lu, posted them on ArtStation and writes:

Custom, combat-oriented character sheets for the Dungeons and Dragons 5th ed. tabletop game. Designed to be a familiar sheet for veteran players, while retaining its unique look and strengths.

Features a design inspired by Celtic interlace art. Incorporates the feedback from many hours of playtesting to make sure the sheet's utility matches its beauty.

You can download the 7 pages of the character sheets here. Read the rest

Gamers petition IKEA to produce an affordable gaming table

A petition has been posted on Change.org by a Maryland gamer, Brad Smoley, to try and convince Scandinavian stick furniture powerhouse IKEA that there's a significant-enough market for a dining room table that converts into a gaming table.

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Getting better at painting gaming miniatures

Many of us who play fantasy and sci-fi roleplaying and tabletop miniature games struggle with our ability to paint minis so that they look halfway decent on the table. Getting me to paint my minis is like getting 8-year-old me to eat his broccoli. I'm something of a perfectionist and I look at a lot of pro painted miniatures, in gaming magazines and online. My miniatures never look as good as what I see, so it's an effort for me to even bother. But also being a perfectionist, I wouldn't think of "gaming in the nude" (playing with unpainted miniatures). And so I press ahead, and try to do at least a little painting every night.

My pal, James Floyd Kelly, who I wrote about previously when he launched his new dungeon crafting channel, Game Terrain Engineering, was in a similar boat of not being happy with his painting chops. So, he decided to buy the Reaper Miniatures Learn To Paint Bones Kit and record a series of videos of him painting the three minis that come in the kit. It's really encouraging to watch the series and to see how much his painting improves over the three videos and three miniatures. Bolstered by that improvement, Jim plans on now getting the next kit in the series, the Layer Up Bones Miniatures Learn to Paint Kit and to paint (and hopefully document) those three miniatures.

Also: Here's a list of beginner painting tips that I ran into recently. These are all of the same tips that I share with people. Read the rest

You can build this world’s tiniest Game Boy Color clone

A fellow who goes by the name [c.invent] designed and built this open-source keychain-sized multi-platform emulation console, called the Keymu. It uses an Intel Edison (a computer-on-module). a 1.5-inch OLED display, and 11.7mm speaker, and a 220 mAh lithium battery, all inside a 3D printed clamshell case. You can learn how to make your own at Hackaday.

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Nintendo Switch review roundup

The highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch hits stores on Friday. According to today's reviews, it's got a lot of potential, some of which has yet to be realized even days before launch. From DIGG's Review Roundup:

If there's one area where the Switch excels largely (though not entirely), it's as a portable gaming tablet:

Though Nintendo marketing seems intent on describing the Switch as a home console that it just so happens you can take with you, I've found myself using the system as a portable much more often than on the TV... The system goes from its power-sipping "standby" to "actively playing a game right where I left off" in about three seconds, making it incredibly easy to pick up and put down as needed. I've highlighted the quality of the Switch's 6.2-inch, 720p screen for portable gaming in previous pieces, and the quality display still stands out after just over a week with the system. (Ars Technica)

The controllers are dogged by connectivity issues when not connected to the portable console:

The Joy-Con are a nifty idea, though they don’t always work as well as I would’ve hoped. For starters, I simply haven’t found them very comfortable. I find that the buttons are oddly placed and the thumbsticks feel small and overly flippy... I’ve also run into a frustrating issue where the left Joy-Con momentarily loses tracking and stops responding to my inputs... It appears to be an issue with a body part or other object blocking the Joy-Con’s view of the docked console...

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Frostgrave, the popular fantasy skirmish game, gets a devilishly-good supplement

Last year, I had the pleasure of exploring “the Frozen City” of Felstad, aka Frostgrave, the ridiculously fun, retro-reminiscent fantasy miniatures game from Osprey. Designer Joseph McCullogh and Osprey have followed up the highly-successful Frostgrave book with a series of excellent supplements. The latest of these is Forgotten Pacts.

Frostgrave is a very psycho-geographical game, where the ancient, ruined, and magic-saturated city of Felstad is really a central character in the game. One of the things each follow-up book does is shine a light into some new corner of that dark and ruined world. And with that light is also illuminated new stories of the city’s past, new wizard and warband types, new magic, treasures to unearth, and new monstrous adversaries.

Forgotten Pacts accomplishes two goals in advancing the game and the setting of Frostgrave. It introduces a new region, the northern reaches of Felstad, and the barbarian tribesmen who have come down from the hills to plunder and explore there. The book also introduces a new magical discipline for courageous wizards to attempt: demonic summoning using pacts. Demon summoning was de rigor in this region of the city during its heyday and the barbarians have re-rediscovered the lost art of it among the temple ruins and incorporated the practice into their way of life. Venturing into this region, players’ wizards get the opportunity to find a demon’s True Name (basically an unpronounceable name rendered as a sigil) among the ruins, and with that name, attempt to conjure and forge a pact with a demon. Read the rest

Gamer gifts ultimate homemade Dungeon Master screen

I posted this on Make: yesterday, but thought it was too good not to share here. A gamer named David Henning is in a gaming group and they exchanged gifts this past Christmas. Dave wanted to do something really special for his recipient, their new Dungeon Master, so he made him this amazing castle-themed DM screen. Not only does it act as a screen to hide the DM's dice rolls and campaign info, but it also includes a built-in dice tower, a lit dice display area, a place to mount quick reference material, a place to store non-playing characters (NPCs), and holders for pencils, erasers, and sharpeners.

The screen was made almost entirely of foamboard (three 2' x 2' pieces) with all of the stonework made by drawing on the bricks and then using a foam cutter to burn in the mortar lines. The bricks were distressed with a ball of aluminum foil and a hobby knife. Popsicle sticks were used to create the wooden doors and hatches. The whole thing was primed black and then painted and drybrushed with lighter hues of gray up to white (with some green wash thrown in to add a hint of organic funk).

More pics and information about the build can be found on Make:. I found out about Dave's project on the highly-recommend Facebook group, DM Scotty's Crafts N' Games (closed group, ask to join), a great place to find D&D-related terrain and accessory builds, miniature painting show n' tell, and gaming-related craft projects. Read the rest

Frostgrave – An approachable miniatures game in the spirit of old school dungeon delvers

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City by Joseph A. McCullough (author) and Dmitry Burmak (illustrator) Osprey Publishing 2015, 136 pages, 7.7 x 9.9 x 0.6 inches (hardback) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon

With the great success of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, the popularity of shows like Stranger Things riding a growing 80s nostalgia wave, and the success of game-based YouTube channels like Tabletop and Critical Role, there’s no doubt that we are in a tabletop/RPG gaming renaissance.

Two of the hallmarks of modern fantasy, sci-fi, and horror games are faster game play and more streamlined rules. The skirmish game, played with small numbers of miniatures, and the hybrid board game, combining miniatures and a game board, are all the rage these days. Into this moment of 80s D&D nostalgia and newfound enthusiasm for tabletop gaming comes a game that seems designed to hit all of the sweet spots: Osprey Publishing’s Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City.

Everything about Frostgrave is about economy. The book itself, gorgeously and profusely illustrated by Russian artist Dmitry Burmak, is compact, under 8 x 10, and only 136 pages. The backstory is simple, but highly evocative, the rules are basic and concise, trading off realism for fun. To play, you need only this inexpensive rulebook, around ten miniatures for your warband (taken from any 28mm fantasy range), and whatever terrain and random monsters you might encounter during the game. And some 20-sided dice and a tape measure. Read the rest

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