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  1. In one of the developer diaries, Zach Gage, the system designer at Choice Provisions, talks about the decision to make die rolls the foremost mechanic in Tharsis. In that particular video, Gage states that he wanted to make a game where, “the dice are the arbiter of [the player’s] life.” To Choice Provisions’ credit, Tharsis accomplishes exactly that. Tharsis puts players in control of the first manned mission to Mars. The astronauts under the player’s command were sent to investigate a mysterious signal coming from the Tharsis region of the red planet. However, mere weeks from their destination, the crew of the Iktomi meet disaster. Their vessel rockets through a field of micro-meteoroids, destroying their food supply and killing two crew members. The game tasks players to lead the surviving astronauts to Mars while facing down the dangers posed by the damage done to the ship and the dwindling scraps of food that remain on board. On top of that, every playthrough is randomized, leading to completely different experiences with every attempt to reach Tharsis. It’s a catchy premise and one which certainly caught my initial interest. However, the way in which Choice Provisions executed on that premise leaves something to be desired. Imagine you are playing slots at a casino. You are pulling the lever, watching the results mix around on the machine, sometimes winning, more often losing. Along comes the owner of the casino with an offer: You can participate in the grand slot game of the night! In order to win, you have to successfully combine the right slot results over the course of ten rounds. Each round, the required slot results change at random while the casino reduces the number of slot machines you can use. I have basically just described Tharsis. You see, Tharsis revolves entirely on digital dice rolls. Every round represents another week in space and each astronaut can move to one module of the spacecraft and make rolls to perform tasks, fix broken systems, or use special abilities. However, each week new problems arise that will cause more damage to the ship, the health of the astronauts, or the number of dice available to the crew. These disasters can be fixed with dice rolls added together to hit a target number. If the ship runs out of health, it explodes. If a crew member loses their last remaining point of health, they croak. On top of that, the crew loses one die for every action taken. Juggling health, dice, and the structural integrity of the ship is a delicate act of probability weighing. One false move could mean almost instant death for the entire mission. Tharsis shines best during that balancing act. Unfortunately, much like in the earlier comparison to a casino game, Tharsis is heavily weighted against the player. Two to three new events happen each round and all of them are bad. Any attempt to repair the resulting malfunctions carries with it the risk of to freezing certain dice results so they can’t be rerolled, completely taking certain rolls out of play, or damaging the crew member working on the fix. Combine these stresses with an ever decreasing dice pool for each astronaut (barring some exceptionally lucky rolls in the right areas) and the frustrations become clearer. Choice Provisions attempts to alleviate those frustrations via a mechanic with which players can save and spend die rolls for certain boosts like additional die or ship repairs. These boosts revolve in groups of three and are generated at random. Sometimes they can be immensely helpful and other times they merely represent the hollow hope of survival. If the dice situation becomes extremely bad, players can resort to cannibalism to keep surviving crew members alive and rolling large dice pools. I dearly wish Tharsis had any amount of character development. Who are these astronauts? Why should I care about them? It sucks when a crewman dies, but it sucks because I don’t get their dice anymore, not because I care about them in any other respect. Cannibalizing these people should be horrible, but it instead feels like a very mechanical decision done for dice with little to no thought about the digital humans stuck in that situation. Having characters we can care about would only serve to deepen our investment in the game and the sense of importance each dice roll possesses. On the aesthetic front, Tharsis consists mainly of the Iktomi, close ups of the crew in their helpfully colored space suits, and some animatics. While the animatics are visually engaging, the ship and crew appear bland in comparison. The audio in Tharsis is slim, but serviceable. When it plays, the music draws you into the desperate atmosphere of the doomed ship. Meanwhile the voice acting effectively conveys emotion and mounting intensity as the crew approaches their destination. The small budget shows, but it does what it needs to regarding the visuals and audio. Conclusion: I can’t shake the feeling that there is something really great in Tharsis despite the amount of frustration it gave me. Perhaps with additional ways for players to save their good fortune for the harsh events and poor rolls that inevitably occur along with general rebalancing could save this game. The potential exists for Tharsis to create a more engaging, exciting experience with an expanded array of random events and character development. The core concept of the dice being the arbiters of life and death is a good one, but maybe one or two bad rolls shouldn’t be a death sentence. Tharsis would be a great hit as a co-op tabletop experience in the same vein as Pandemic. I can see a group of friends really enjoying themselves while taking a morbid trip to Mars, casting lots to see who should be cannibalized to give the others a shot at successfully completing the doomed journey. However, as a video game it feels almost hopelessly stacked against the player, leading to a frustrating time with none of the distractions or house rules that a group of friends can provide. I can’t in good conscience recommend it at the price of $15. Tharsis is available now on PC and PlayStation 4 View full article
  2. until
    Hey Folks We got a presence at Game Over Monday evening at 7 PM. This event is open to the public and there is a lot of gaming to do. Event Page Event Starts at 7 PM but gets busy around 8 PM. Come hang out play some games and get sign ups for Extra Life
  3. <-- Pretty [sic] Yo..?!? ;0 ;~) o/
  4. <-- That looks kinda neat! Normally I'd put this in but this seems a lil more appropriate. o/
  5. Hey guys! I'm playing in my first ever pathfinder game and I have a hard time just jumping into a Convo to do perception checks etc and more of a wait my turn person which Is no help to my character lol. Any tips/pointers???
  6. until
    The biggest 24-hour Austin tabletop event for Extra Life Game Day! Wonko's Toys and Games will be uniting HavenCon, Steve Jackson Games, Legacy Revelations, Aes: Brass Revolution, the Communi-cast and more into a single event! For more info, see Haven Con's Facebook event.
  7. until
    24 hours of tabletop! HELL YEAH! Comic and Tabletop legends Dragon's Lair are holding a 24 hour game-a-thon LOCK-IN at their Austin location! For more details, check out their Facebook page!
  8. Last minute signal boost for our Pathfinder RPG charity convention! Please see below if you are interested in tabletop gaming, specifically Roleplaying! Would have posted sooner, but just found out about these forums. ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************* Announcing the Second Annual Extra Life Charity Convention @ Event Horizon Games, Extra Life 2: Electric Boogaloo, benefiting the Duke Children's Hospital! The Con will take place October 16-18, at Event Horizon Games (1496 Garner Station Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27603) featuring Pathfinder Society games from seasons 6 and 7, including this year's Gencon specials, True Dragons of Absalom, Serpent's Rise, The Sky Key Solution and Seige of Serpents! Tables will be $5 each or $15 for the weekend, and all proceeds for Convention play will go towards supporting the kids at Duke Children's Hospital as part of the Extra Life donation drive. Donations above and beyond the registration cost are always appreciated! GMs, of course, will not need to pay for any slots that they GM. If you GM 2 or more slots, registration to play is "donate-what-you-want" and the minimum suggested donation is $5. Signups can be found here: Make sure to donate here as soon as possible after signup to ensure your spot: Please ensure that you add your name to your donation, so that we can record that you have paid. Registration and Donations will also be accepted the day of the Con, but it is preferred that you register by sending your donation via the Fundraising Page. Those that register in advance will receive a free reroll token as a thank you! Thank you, and we hope to see you there! Brandon Smith
  9. Members, on the weekend of October 2-4, Extra Life will be celebrating Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. Here is the link to the official announcement. I would like to gauge interest in holding a guild event on this day. I am going to inquire with the eSports Arena to see if we could have some space to do a guild event at their facility, but given their weekend schedule, there are no guarantees they won't already have an event planned. If you would like to take the reigns and plan or host a tabletop event, please let me know! I would love to see something planned for this weekend if possible.
  10. Sgoast

    Gamehole Con

    From Gamehole Con is the largest tabletop gaming convention in the upper Midwest. Tabletop gamers from around the country gather each November in Madison, WI for this carnival of gaming. Gamehole Con is all about tabletop gaming and all the fun that goes with it. The convention features role-playing games, board games, fantasy and historical miniature gaming, and collectible card games. Gamehole Con is for the fantasy and adventure tabletop gaming enthusiast. Gamehole Con features the best guests in the industry, an unbelievable Dealer Hall and of course, lots and lots of gaming! If you are a tabletop gaming fan, do not miss Gamehole Con! Visit the Milwaukee-Madison Extra Life guild at their booth in the vendor area! (Volunteer opportunities are still available!)
  11. There's an awesome tabletop game night at Video Game Rescue this evening. Join Steven as he shares some of fun games by Steve Jackson!Munchkin, Chez Geek and more! Event details are on Facebook here: how to play or pick up a different game! Hosted by Steven and Joseph C. Tremain Jr.Game demo will start at 6:45pm and will have limited slots available so show up early! Address: Hide Map Video Game Rescue2415 Blanding Blvd Suite 7, Jacksonville, Florida 32210
  12. Hi everyone and welcome to the page for Winnipeg's Extra Life Guild! We are the Winnipeg Extra Life guild, working hard to increase registration and year over year support for Extra Life across Manitoba. We support Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, which in turn uses the proceeds we raise to help kids from across Manitoba, Eastern Saskatchewan, and Western Ontario get well. We have members from across the province, with our primary event being hosted in Winnipeg! There is something for every one in every community - so feel free to take a look around and see what's up! Your Leadership Team: @hoodedarche0 - Graeme Fortlage - President @kaptainkirk - Kirk Fierback - Vice President @Sturbinator - Scott Sturby - Secretary Feel free to message any of them for information, help, or anything you require assistance with! Come out and Join us for our Next Monthly Guild Meeting! --->
  13. Sgoast


    From Geek.Kon is Madison Wisconsin's very own anime convention, sci-fi convention, and gaming convention all rolled into one! As the name implies, Geek.Kon is a place to celebrate all that is geeky from strong foundations in anime, science fiction, video gaming, tabletop gaming, and costuming to up and coming fandoms like steampunk and gothic lolita. From Lord of the Rings to Doctor Who, Mario to Solid Snake, Geek.Kon covers it all. Visit the Milwaukee-Madison Extra Life guild at their booth in the vendor area! (Volunteer opportunities are still available!)
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