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Turning up the Steam

Image by Dominik Bartsch

Different folks have different definitions of "steampunk." Some call it a literary genre, and will slap the top hat from your head if you suggest it can be set anywhere but Victorian England. Others swear by their goggles that it is an aesthetic movement, and has more to do with corsets and gears than any specific time and place. But one thing every fan can agree on is that if you're calling your world "steampunk," you should make sure that steam plays a role in the setting.

In Steel Dragons, steam definitely plays a role.

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Featured Game—Dawn: Rise of the Occulites

It's time again for us to direct your eyeballs towards a cool new game worthy of your attention. Actually "direct your eyeballs" is pretty fitting... considering that the game is subtitles "Rise of the Occulites" and the titular Occulites have some serious eyeballs going on.

Dawn: Rise of the Occulites is a tactical tabletop miniatures board game. In the game, players control tribes of Occulites (hideous-yet-cute alien cyclops creatures) and try to achieve victory over their rival tribes. Players drive the game with cards which determine how many figures they can activate each turn, how many dice they use to attack or defend, and any special game effects.

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Everybody All at Once

Photo by Trupastilla

As a game designer, I am totally digging Steel Dragons' linked-screen technology. By using a central tablet as the board, and letting the players use their own phones (or tablets, or laptops, or whatever) as their own personal play-spaces, you can do things that don't always work so well with physical board games -- like simultaneous turns.

The idea of simultaneous turns is fantastic: Players don't take their turns in order, but all go at the same time! In other words, they don't take turns when taking their turns.

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Putting the Steel in Steel Dragons

By The Puzzler

Several elements set the steampunk world of Steel Dragons apart from both historical feudal Japan and other steampunk settings. One of the most important of these elements is the inclusion of the substance known as "smart steel."

Smart steel is a metal that can be "programmed" to take on any shape. In its natural form, it's a liquid metal that looks and acts similar to mercury. Specially-trained masters of smart steel, commonly referred to as "steel-shapers," use their minds to connect to the liquid metal and mold it into any form or pattern they know.

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It's All in the Name of the Game

By T.Kiya

William Shakespeare had a famous quote about roses and names: "Would you stick your nose in a rose if they called it 'stabby-thorn bee-attractor?' I don't think so."

I'm pretty sure Shakespeare said that. The guy was a marketing genius, and he had a point: no matter how cool you game is -- or sweet your flower smells -- it has to have a killer name, or no one's going to check it out. So how did Steel Dragons get its killer name?

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One Download to Rule Them All

One of the biggest problems with playing multiplayer digital games with your friends is that everyone else typically has to own their own copies of the game in order to play. So not only do you have to purchase and download the game yourself, you have to convince your friends to do so too. It's hard enough to get a group of players together for a board game; if you have to talk them into downloading another app just to play it, the whole thing starts to seem like work.

But with Steel Dragons, there's only one thing to download—the game itself—and you only need one copy of it for any number of players to play. With our screen-linking technology, you need merely to download the game onto the device that will serve as the game board and central processor.

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Featured Game—Domain: Lords of Ether

We love games. We love making them, yes, but we also love playing them and sharing them with our friends. From time to time, we'll be featuring games we've discovered that deserve to be shared.

Domain: Lords of Ether is a tabletop strategy card game in which players take on the roles of Ether Lords competing to conquer a dark fantasy world. The dynamic game board is made up of illustrated cards that allow the board to change with every game. The players fight to control the land and its powerful "soul wells" using armies and magical hexes represented by cards in their decks.

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Steel Dragons: Japanese, not Japan

It's no secret that one of the original inspirations for Steel Dragons was Magic Realm, one of the first examples of a deep, complex fantasy adventure board game. When we started kicking around ideas for our own game, there was never any question that its theme would likewise be some flavor of fantasy. But the more we thought about it, the more we realized that worlds "sort of like Europe but with magic" have been done to death, dug up, reanimated, and done to death again.

Yes, Tolkien did it. So have hundreds of other writers. And yes, D&D has certainly done well with it. But we wanted to find another, less well-trodden path.

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