News Digest Episode 132

This is a copy of the “script” we used to organise Brainwaves Episode 131. It is not a full transcript but should give you an overview of the news as we reported it. Quotes are in italics.

Brainwaves Episode 132

Wizards starting TV channel

  • Over the last few years we have seen the meteoric rise of actual play channels. These are groups of folk playing role-playing games on camera, some with incredibly high production values. You will likely be familiar with the biggest of these, Critical Role. 
  • With the amount of money the biggest of these channels is pulling in it was inevitable that large companies would start to turn their eye towards the format and see about getting a piece of the pie. 
  • In piece on site Polygon, writer Rowan Zeoli, looks at a new streaming show coming to the D&D adventures channel. This is an upcoming, free, ad-supported channel that is a collaboration between Wizards of the Coast and Entertainment One. Both of these companies are currently owned by Hasbro, though the sale of Entertainment One to Lionsgate will be completed by the end of 2023.
  • The channel was originally announced back in May of 2023 and was meant to be out over the Summer. The intention is to have several actual play shows on it as well as showing legacy content like the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon
  • In the piece Rowan discusses the upcoming show, called Encounter Party, with its producer Ned Donocan and Dungeon Master and co-producer Brian David Judkins.
  • Unlike most actual play shows, Encounter Party will be heavily edited to fit into a more TV friendly slot. Donvan said of this move
    • “Most of [what was cut] is us debating rules, moving minis. Things that are integral to the actual play experience, but not integral to the audience experience.” 
  • The first season of the show will have 22 episodes of 48 minutes each, not too dissimilar from a lot of American TV shows. 
  • The intention is to produce a show that wil be accessible to an audience that is unfamiliar with the the world of Tabletop RPGs. Donovan said of the pitch
    • “We made an actual play show that is entirely consumable by non-TTRPG [audiences], and that was on purpose. Critical Role has this massive, awesome fan base, but that fan base is like 0.5% of the television viewing audience of America. Our pitch was, can we get the other 99.5% to care?” 
  • Encounter Party is not encompassed by the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strikes as they are working under a non-dramatic Media Agreement. Judkins said of treating the show like TV rather than actual play
    • “We played a safe, union-regulated workday, I think Encounter Party is gonna open a lot of doors. I think we can show people with this type of entertainment, if we walk in from the television door, instead of walking in through the gaming door, you’re going to get something different.”
  • The full article is a great breakdown of the potential future of Actual Play. 

Habsro third quarter earnings 

  • The company that owns Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro had its third quarter earnings call recently. 
  • CEO Chris Cocks and Debbie Hancock, Senior Vice President were on the call
  • Some highlights from the call on the first page of their presentation
    • Wizards of the coast and digital gaming segment of the company up 40%, helped by the strong launch of Baldurs Gate III
    • Franchise brands grew 8% behind growth in Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, Hasbro Gaming & Transformers
    • Net Revenue was down 10% but operating profit was up 27%
  • On the call Chris Cocks outlined the efficiencies the company was trying to make in pursuing a strategy of ‘Fewer, Bigger, Better’ product lines across the company. This came under their Blueprint 2.0 that we have mentioned before when discussing Hasbro’s long term strategy. 
  • Cocks mentions that Magic: THe gathering grew strongly and that the recent Lord of the RIngs set is still showing good performance. There is no mention of specific Dungeons and Dragons products outside of Baldurs Gate III. 
  • Looking over the rest of the report it seems that Hasbro grew its share of the toy market but that revenues in that area of the company are down.

M:tG pack change after 29 years

  • Wizards of the Coast has just announced the biggest shake up to the way it sells Magic: The Gathering in the games 29 year history.
  • The current product line for Magic: The Gathering involves two core boosters: the set booster and the draft booster. Set boosters are less suitable for limited format play like Draft. Draft involves players opening boosters at an event and choosing cards from those boosters to craft their decks. 
  • Set boosters first appeared in 2020 and that was when the regular booster became known as the draft booster. All main products for Magic: The Gathering have had set and draft boosters since then. 
  • Now Wizards of the Coast are getting rid of both Set and Draft boosters to introduce the Play Booster.
  • Murders at Karlov Manor will be the first set to have these boosters coming out in February 2024
  • Mark Rosewater, current head designer of Magic: The Gathering, posted about the changes on the main site for the game. 
  • In that article he describes the introduction of Set boosters and how it meant that the product lines becoming confusing for stores and consumers. Stores ended up guessing how much draft product they needed, often ending up with dead stock as the cycle of products spun on. 
  • The intention of the Play boosters seems to be to make a single product that is at once exciting for collectors to open and is useable in the limited formats like draft. 
  • While it will make the product lines more understandable to retailers and customers, one of the upshots of these changes is that draft will become a bit more expensive to play. 


Paizo Price rises

  • Paizo, the publishers of the Pathfinder and Starfinder RPGs posted a pricing update to their blog on the 18th of October. The post is from the president of the company Jim Butler and starts like this
    • It’s that time of year where company presidents look into the future, comparing what it costs to produce and create game products today versus what it did last year–and how those costs will change in the year to come. No one likes to raise prices, but doing so is a necessity. Paizo is not immune to economic factors like inflation, nor industry-wide fluctuations in cost-of-goods, labor, or shipping and logistics, and we must periodically adjust our prices to reflect rising costs. Let’s break things down.
  • Jim goes onto highlight a number of price rises across their digital and physical offerings. These price changes will come into effect from April 2024 and will also apply to reprints of older products. 
  • Jim highlights that they will be keeping the price of the hardcover core books at $59.99. This price will apply to the Player, GM, and Monster Core books. They say they are doing this because
    • We feel these books are essential first purchases for Pathfinder players and want to hold the line on price increases as long as possible to reduce the barrier of entry for new players.
  • Jim rounds up the piece by talking about the steps they take to make their products more sustainable and some changes coming. He highlights that they have always used soy-based ink rather than petroleum or vegetable based inks. He then goes onto say they are changing to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. He says:
    • This means that the paper Paizo uses will come from ecologically sourced forests that prohibit deforestation (replacing the trees they harvest with new growth), require biodiversity and old forests to be protected, protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and ensure that Paizo has a sustainable source of paper for many years to come.
  • He says they won’t switch to recycled paper due to the different look and feel and that FSC paper is a mix of new and recycled. 
  • He finishes off by saying that they are switching to using Starch packing peanuts over polystyrene in store shipments. Starch packing peanuts are bio-degradable. 
  • They are also phasing out the use of foam packing corners, to protect the corners of boxes and books

Snowbright Announces New Award

  • In a post on Bluesky on 16th of October 2023, Snowbright Studio, publishers of the games Birds of a Feather and Harvest Hoppers, announced the launch of their first annual nonbinary tabletop awards.
  • The award was set up to highlight nonbinary gender representation and advocacy in tabletop games.
  • It is open to artists, writers, game designers, bloggers, podcasters, live streamers and video creators of work in the tabletop hobby. Nominated work needs to have been published between October 2022 and October 2023 and must fit into one of the following categories: Advocacy, Art, Content Creation, Game Design andWriting.You can nominate yourself or someone else.
  • Nominations are open now and will close on the 17th of November, which is the date by which all entries must have been posted to Snowbright. Judging begins on the 18th of November and closes on the 1st of January 2024.
  • Submissions will be evaluated based on their representation, support and/or impact on the nonbinary community. Organizations as well as individuals of any gender may be nominated as long as their work contributes to uplifting the nonbinary community in tabletop games.
  • Three exemplary submissions pulled from across all nomination categories will be selected for awards and winners will be announced in the February 2024 edition of Cozy Companion magazine.
  • You can enter the award using a form on the Snowbright website a link to which is in the show notes.

Kickstarter project steals art

  • Thanks to Sarah Reed from our Discord for bringing this to our attention
  • There is a game book currently funding on Kickstarter called Wolf Berries. It was cancelled and then resurrected shortly after. That isn’t what we want to draw your attention to. 
  • The game book uses the art of Julia Zhuravleva without their permission. A twitter conversation between the artist and a user called Judgement Dave confirms this.
  • That user also accuses the creators of being serial scammers, though at this time we cannot confirm that accusation. 

Roll20 VTT Humble Bundle for Extra Life

  • Roll20, a virtual tabletop platform that enables the online playing of roleplaying games, announced on 19th of October 2023 in a post on Twitter the launch of their first-ever VTT bundle in support of Extra Life.
  • Extra Life is is a fundraising program of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals which uses donations to benefit local member hospitals to fund what’s needed most to help improve children’s lives.
  • The bundle is available on Humble Bundle, a website which sells games, ebooks, software and other digital content to support charities.
  • Roll20’s bundle for the world’s most popular virtual RPG tabletop features compendiums to play Pathfinder 2E, Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, and more, containing rules, art, lore, adventures, and more resources for use in Roll20.
  • You also get additional Roll20 expansions and resources like Deep Magic, filled with new spells adaptable for multiple systems, maps and tokens, and more.
  • The bundle also contains a one month “Roll20 Plus” subscription, unlocking additional features such as more upload storage, upgraded Compendium sharing, and an all-access character vault.
  • Roll20’s bundle is worth £293.98, but like all products available on Humble Bundle, you choose how much you pay, as long as you pay a minimum of £4.10.

Bundle For Gaza

  • RPG bundle on itch in aid of organisation Medical Aid for Palestinians
  • From the organizations website
    • “MAP’s vision is a future where all Palestinians can access an effective, sustainable and locally-led system of healthcare, and the full realisation of their rights to health and dignity.
    • Through our programmes in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Lebanon, we work with trusted and experienced local partners to achieve this vision. Our programmes, designed and delivered by Palestinians, provide access to essential health services and build local knowledge and skills to address Palestinian health problems. In times of humanitarian emergency, we are ready to respond rapidly with aid and assistance.
    • MAP is also committed to bearing witness to the injustices caused by occupation, displacement and conflict. We speak out in the UK and internationally, and ensure Palestinian voices are heard at the highest levels, to press for the political and social barriers to Palestinian health and dignity to be addressed.”
  • The bundle is aiming for $150k and is currently sitting at just under $110k. #

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Jeff Goldblum

  • We’ve talked about Magic: The Gathering and Wizards of the Coast quite a bit on this cast and we aren’t quite done with them yet. 
  • As you may be aware Magic has been making crossover sets with popular franchises like Lord of the Rings, Warhammer 40k and Doctor Who. A recent reveal from Wizards showed off a forthcoming set would be a Jurassic Park crossover
  • This will of course feature everyone’s favourite chaostician Ian Malcom as played by Jeff Goldblum
  • Other cards in the series have dinosaurs, Hammond, and even Dino DNA.

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Thanks very much for listening to episode 132 of Brainwaves. If you like what you’ve listened to then the best way to help us out is to share the podcast and drop us a review and rating on itunes.  You can also follow us on







Email: [email protected]

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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1 Response

  1. 30 Oct 2023

    […] News Digest 132 […]

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