Since this is my first article (both ever and for Nerds on Earth) I figured I would start with that most popular of internet articles: the numbered list! The amount of nerdy toys and games are to the point where no one nerd could possibly experience everything that catches their attention. So rather than focus on what’s new and cutting edge in nerddom, I chose to focus on some of my favorite out-of-print or otherwise venerable RPG institutions, with the exception of #1. Let’s begin!
7 Nerdy Things You Need in Your Life
1 Ex Libris
What it is. A board game where you play as a gnomish book collector competing against each other to be named the Grand Librarian. You’ll send your assistants to collect various rare tomes from across the village or sabotage your competition in your quest to build the best alphabetized, stable library without stocking too many books from the banned category.
Why you might like it. It’s the perfect game for a family of bibliophiles. The game has both a basic and advanced rule set that, along with the lack of violence or scary imagery, make it a great game to play with young bookworms.
Where you can get your hands on it. Direct from the publisher, Renegade Game Studios, from Amazon, or better yet, from your FLGS like Games Unlimited if you happen to be in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh.
2 Dark Heresy (1st edition)
What it is. In the grimdark future of the 41st millenium, there is only war. Such is the state of our far future, humanity is beset on all sides by foes from without, like the berserker Orks, endlessly devouring Tyranid or the seeming good guys of the Tau supposedly working for the so-called greater good, and foes from within, Chaos tainted cults and their daemonic allies, greedy nobles, and seditious planets straying from the God-Emperor’s light.
You play as an acolyte cell of one of the Imperium of Man’s Inquisitors; largely disposable, deniable assets working to protect humanity from the aforementioned threats.
Why you might like it. It was the first RPG set in Games Workshop’s sci-fi Warhammer 40k universe, allowing you to explore the nasty, brutish and short lives of humanity outside of the battlefields found in the miniature wargame. Or you might want to play a game where you play as the slightly less evil of two options.
Where you can get your hands on it. Unfortunately the first edition (and second edition of Dark Heresy) of Warhammer 40k RPGs are out of print after Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop ended their partnership after 8 years. The games can be found in pdf form on Drive Thru RPG thanks to Ulisses Spiele, the makers of Wrath and Glory, a brand new RPG set in the 40k universe.
3 Punisher MAX
What it is. Garth Ennis’ definitive take on Marvel Comics’ most popular violent vigilante (unmasked division). This series use every bit of edginess that the MAX imprint allows between language, situation, and consistently over-the-top violence.
Ennis’ run is a semi-continuation of the Marvel Knights series from the early/mid-00s and sees Punisher’s list of foes expand beyond the mafia and street gangs to corporate boards, foreign armies, and the dreaded Barracuda.
Why you might like it. Mainly because you’re of an age where edginess is a big selling point, or want to return to that point in your youth. Or because the Punisher is your favorite comic book character despite his many, many, many flaws.
4 Marvel Legendary
What it is. A deck-building game where you face off against one of Marvel Comics’ greatest villains using a team of 5 heroes from an ever-expanding pool of options. The game presents a nice mix of multiple versions of tent pole characters (Spider-Man, Captain America, etc) and deeper cuts (or characters new and frightening to those of us who don’t keep up with the comics).
Why you might like it. You need a good entry point into the world of gaming to entice your significant other who likes the Marvel movies but doesn’t play many games. Or you’re a really big fan of sorting and organizing (seriously, my collection spawns about three of the boxes with all of the expansions I’ve picked up). You might also like it if you’re looking for a game with near infinite replayability with the combinations of heroes and villians. (Our review of Marvel Legendary.)
Where you can get your hands on them. Amazon or, again, from you FLGS
What it is. The peanut butter and chocolate combination of a William Gibson style dystopian cyberfuture mixed with magic and fantasy races in a fairly complex RPG. Around since the late 1980s, Shadowrun paints a world run by corporations, new political entities created by the events of the alternate timeline (biggest example, the USA is split into multiple countries; much of the Pacific Northwest is now an Elven nation.), and nearly everyone is sporting some form of cybernetic enhancement. Well, those that aren’t focused on casting spells are using cyberware. You play as a shadowrunner, a deniable asset for the corps or anyone else with the funds to hire you and your team.
Why you might like it. You want to clear out a room full of corporate security as a massive cybered-out troll or explore the depths of magical planes to uncover new mystical secrets. (Our primer on Shadowrun.)
6 Deadlands (1st edition)
What it is. An alternate history weird west RPG set in the the American Southwest. Magic returned to the world first at the Battle of Gettysburg causing the dead on both sides to rise from the dead. The Civil War has become a stalemate, leaving the country split in two more permanently.
At the same time, a new mineral is discovered in the earthquake-shattered remnants of California. Called Ghost Rock, this more powerful version of coal has lead to the creation of wild, steampunk inventions as well as a resource rush. Adventurers take a variety of roles both like the ones found in Western movies and more magical ones, like the huckster who plays poker against demons in order to cast his spells.
Why you might like them. You can recreate your favorite spaghetti westerns adding in magic and ghost rock driven inventions!
What it is. You know them, you love them, you step on the pointiest bits barefoot in the middle of the night no matter how careful you are. (Here our some of our reviews of some Marvel and Star Wars Lego sets.)
Why you might like it. You have flat surfaces and a pile of bricks. In a few hours (or days, the sandcrawler is huge) you have a spaceship to display. Turn on cartoons on Netflix or Hulu and you have the making of an alright Saturday afternoon.
Where you can get your hands on them. Any department stores and (last time everyone) Amazon.
There you go. If you want to be a nerd in my mold, then these are a few of my favorite things. Nerds on Earth is a website for nerds who love stuff, so I hope you enjoyed looking in on a few of the things I love. Share your loves over on our Facebook page.