Iphone Puzzler of note: SPL-T

Puzzle games are mostly boring shite.  Suduko, Candy Crush, crossword puzzles, all that crap bores the piss out of me to even think about (though I do like Bubble Bobble and Super Puzzle Fighter).  There are a mess of puzzle games on the iphone, since it’s a device that has such a small screen it’s a good form factor for that type of entertainment.

One that’s come out recently that is of note is SPL-T.  It’s a game that involves splitting your iphone screen in half vertically and horizontally until you no longer can. You score points in ways I still don’t fully grasp, but seem to get more and more the more splits you make.  Until yesterday, the high score (just over 7K) I had was from the first time I played the game– playing completely randomly with no idea what was going on!  This was only beaten when my wife tried the game and played randomly and beat my score.  At that point I had to figure out what the hell was going on and I finally got an over 11K score shortly after. That said, it’s quite a good little game you can pick up and play fast, or think about it a lot and play slow.


The return of a VERY badass military

After getting nuked twice and having the USA act as the external military for over 50 years, Japan has voted to begin re-militarization in the face of looming external threats.  This means a couple things to me.  1) Japan’s near threats, like North Korea and China, have been pressuring them and they need to react.  2) The United States is no longer in a position to guarantee the safety of Japan in the face of their mounting external threats.  While the second one seems scarier, likely it is a combination of both.   Since the US fights in the Middle East (an area that should have been put under complete Allied control and colonization after WW2 and remained that way forever–instead they just have Israel), it’s unlikely they could fire up another major theater of war in the East and do much with Japan only fielding 75,000 in their local defense force.

Needless to say, this is the end of an era and an historic shift in power balance in the East.


My Kickstarter failures – 2015 Fuckstarters

There are many, many flagrant kickstarter horror stories and scams (look up “Ken Whitman” and you’ll get a fuckin face full with just one guy), but there are many that are much, much more subtle in their failure that people don’t really bitch about, because they only sort of suck, or only sort of failed to deliver the goods.  Here is a list of failed kickstarters for me and some of these are real questionable —but not overtly failures. Have they failed so far to deliver on time? Fuck yes.  Are they scams? Possibly.  This does not include a list of kickstarters I backed and then never even used the games or stuff yet (like Bulldogs!, Wasteland 2, Planetary Annihilation (the pre-titan version) as those are MY fault and not the fault of the creators.

Double Six dice roller, estimated delivery: August 2014

This kickstarter was 10$ for a set of D12’s that have D6 dots on them, or have the FATE +/- on them.  This kickstarter still has not delivered and has been so long in coming that, since I don’t even play FATE and likely never will again, I don’t even want the dice I ordered.  FATE does not suck for some people, so I have friends I can give them away to at least.  Using them for other games is a possibility.  Apparently this will ship at some point?  Fucked.

Journey Wrath of Demons, estimated delivery: July 2014

All I wanted was to follow this because the mini’s looked cool and get a T-shirt.  It never came.  What’s more, when I tried to set my order for one as a backer, they only had SMALL sizes left.  Since this kickstarter looks like it failed for all of it’s backers, why would they care about a little thing like a tshirt…

Exalted 3rd Edition:  Estimated delivery: December 2013

This is incredibly late and so far a failure, but apparently this too will get delivered some day in the far future because otherwise it looks like a huge fucking scam to me.  They had a debacle early on with one of the developers having health problems, but as a the producers of the product, you give that guy a rest and move to another developer who can deliver, which even after months and months stretched into years, doesn’t look like it happened.  It’s so incredibly late that the market for this type of game is gone.  I got a beta version of the rules on the internet (not even sent to backers!!!!) and I can say for sure I will never, ever play this except goofing around (and who has time for that when there are so many other good RPG’s to play?).  2nd edition Exalted captured the imagination certainly, but the rules were just a horrible, horrible mess.  3rd Edition looks like a slight step up, but why would anyone want to bother with something this grossly complex in 2015?  After reading the rules, I commented that stunt descriptions BEFORE the die roll is a horrible design decision that has since been changed in other stunting games, but was shouted down by the fan boys.  You can imagine what sort of lickspittles are surrounding the designers when you get this sort of jagoffery from just internet fansies.

Martin Wallace’s Moongha Invaders, estimated delivery July, 2013.

This was a game that had 500 copies made a mess of years ago and the kickstarter was going to bring it back to the masses.  As a Wallace game, it had high marks all around, but so far, it has never come and now it’s ridiculously late.

Tabletop Forge

This tanked and the guys said so.  However, we got FREE memberships and assets to Roll20, so they hooked up backers solid.  Can’t complain about this one really.

Star Citizen, Estimated delivery: Nov 2014.

This is the big one– so far this is the big scam that has THOUSANDS of people on the hook for what looks like vaporware.   There is tons of ‘content’ for this game: ship designs, 3d models, a semi-playable combat engine (didn’t work when I installed it), info on planets and trading but this game is nearing a full year late–and I really don’t think it’s ever going to actually come out.  Every time I see a youtube video or read a kickstarter backer post I think more and more that while this turned out to be a scam, they didn’t mean it to be in the beginning.  Something is very, very wrong with whatever this team is doing.  It’s constant press about nothing–in a way much like Master of Orion 3 was.  Maybe someday this will deliver, but it’s not looking good.  When you back a game that hasn’t started development, be VERY wary.  For example while Banner Saga shipped and looked great, but is one of the worst games I’ve ever played, with some of the worst sound design imaginable–that was 50$ blown.  I think Star Citizen will be case in point why you do not just give people a bunch of money to do whatever they want with it before there’s anything. Since they already have your money, they will do as they will and won’t focus on shipping a product to compete in the marketplace.  While I think this group is working on something, it’s obvious more and more from every single update or youtube video that it’s far off the rails and a fuckstarter.

Haunchieville Heroes!

I played in a modified Pathfinder game this past weekend and while it was fun despite the clunky rules, it reaffirmed my hatred of the overuse of demi-human and non-human characters, especially flipping to this from running Runequest Vikings and Lamentations of the Flame Princess more recently. The entire group, with the exception of my character, were short people– one dwarf, one halfling and shockingly one of the players actually agreed to play a gnome(!?) which I still find unbelievable. The issue with this type of party is that the stories your are going to be telling, regardless of the module or adventure, are going to be akin to cartoon D&D stories with nearly all the characters being comic relief, which is exactly what it turned out to be. What’s more, with this many shorties, the adventure should be an entirely short-person story, like the fight of the haunchy’s vs their larger oppressors; sort of like playing as Ewoks in a Star Wars campaign vs the evil storm troopers rather than anything bog standard– because the party is magical short people and not made up of regular murder hobos.

The reason for playing Demi-humans in some modern versions of D20 (3.5 and 4th for example) is primarily one of optimization. Examples (which may not be accurate): Dark Elves have X trait that combos with Y class to make an uber-powered character once they hit 5th level, Halflings are ALWAYS the best thieves so why would you ever take any other race with that class, and due to their racial abilities, why would you ever play a non-High Elf magic user? D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder are solely about character progression and optimization: this is their core appeal. Since XP in those versions comes from fighting, most of the optimizations are for combat only and you get into the trap of: ‘I need XP from fighting, and I have to get that XP as rapidly as I can so I need to optimize and if I don’t optimize, other optimization-freaks in the party will castigate me.’

Now, I’m not ripping on gonzo or heroic fantasy per se, non-humans have their place (except for gnomes of course who need to stay in the fucking garden), but look at our party in 13th Age: one Human Paladin, one Wood Elf ranger, one High Elf Sorceress, one Halfling bard and a Human Barbarian. The original group had a Dark Elf cleric as well. When you are a GM and you create stories for this type of group, they are demi-human stories. The first adventure was a mission that the elves were on for the Elf Queen, and the humans were ancillary characters (at first). Since 13th Age is like the Feng Shui of D20 games, that is: mega gonzo, with cities on the backs of behemoths and armies of demons invading everywhere, this is not out of sorts. At the lowest levels you are thrown into fights with Dragons and hordes of trolls, etc. so it feels more natural to have ‘magical’ beings around from the outset, but even then you are in danger of your party becoming a ‘comic relief’ party instead of something people take seriously. The difference in 13th Age for the XP optimization trap is that the GM determines when the level up happens– there is no XP. While this seems subtle, this is a huge motivation for characters to do things outside of combat to advance their campaign goals and nothing, NOTHING is on an on-rails adventure path where fights must happen to garner the characters enough XP to advance the story.

I guess in my experience with the comedy races/classes: Halflings are always hammed up, barbarians and the oft-maligned Bards (of any race) are also usually played a bit hammy. Elves are for the most part very serious and humans can run the gamut from serious to HAM. Teiflings, really just a different type of Dark Elf but they seem less serious. Gnomes– just should never be played or included in any fantasy setting with the exception of this. Unless you are looking to play cartoon D&D.

If you have too much Ham in your races and classes (note the Bard and Barbarian are both dangerous in this regard because you could double up with a barbarian halfling or a Dragonborn Bard…), your game is going to descend into HAM regardless of the seriousness of the material you bring to the table as a GM.  While it’s certainly personal taste, I just want my games more like this:


Rather than this:


“It’s a time in this country to never vote or think about voting for a republican”

This is probably the first ever political post on this blog.  The header for this post was from Matt and the rest is a guest post by Burger who scored the Republican debate, which means he sat through ALL OF THE TALK FROM THESE FUCKING KOOKS!!!!!  Take it away:

I got through it….I don’t know why.
After watching, I have rated the candidates on several categories, those being:

    1. Foreign Policy

2. Immigration

3. Taxes/domestic policies (includes education, taxes, marijuana, transportation, etc…)

4. religion/separation of church/state (gay marriage, abortion, religious freedom to not follow the constitution, etc…)

The candidates earned a 1-10 in each category, for a max possible 40 points:

11. Ted Cruz 0/40 (horrible in every possible category, believer in no amnesty whatsoever for illegal immigrants, horrible religious nut, believes we should attack every country ’cause some radicals said they’d kill people in America for shitting on the Koran, etc….Says on day one he would do alot of impossible things, like rip up the Iran agreement, cancel ObamaCare, get rid of the supreme court justices that ruled in favor of allowing gay marriage, and pre-emptively attack Iran, Syria, and Russia….a busy first day to say the least.)

10. Mike Huckabee 2/40 (worse than Ted Cruz in every category and by far the craziest, except showed some compassion for poor immigrants and would not immediately kick them all out. Unbelievable nutcase on foreign policy, believes in no taxes on income whatsoever, positions on religion, gay marriage, abortion are the worst in US history–he’s ok with federal employees not following the law because of their own religious ideology….again, believes in selectively abiding by the constitution. Can I do that?)

9. Scott Walker 5/40 (he seems reasonable compared to the first two bozos…..yet you can’t find any possible thing about him that is not terrible except his packer fandom….and I even question that! His goal for this debate was to be less silent than the first debate, and perhaps he accomplished that. I guess I give him credit for calling Trump out a few times.)

8. Ben Carson 9/40 (I think I gave him points for being a brain surgeon somehow. He seemed willing to at least consult with people on immigration, he was in favor of raising the minimum wage, although he said he would only do it once forever? His foreign policy is nuts, he defers answers to god for a disurbingly high percentage of his answers, he believes in a flat 10% tax…The fact that no one knows what he could or would do is probably bad rather than good.)

6. (tie) Jeb Bush 11/40 (his answers are terrible on everything, he refuses to acknowledge that the second Iraq war was a mistake. His immigration policy is not the worst and he’d be somewhat practical maybe, he is more well spoken than the rest of the field, and earns points in that we would ultimately be better off with him than some of the crazy people. I don’t think he would do as terrible of damage as many of the other candidates, and, although terrible, was definitely not the worst on religion. I give him some credit for being able to speak Spanish.)

6. (tie) Carly Fiorina 11/40 (a smooth talker, she was battling Trump most of the time. She talked like a hard-liner, basically saying she’d build a huge fleet and air force, quoting a bunch of phantom statistics, to make the world safe through force somehow….wait, how did I give her this high of a rating? Se falls into the category of, “I’m a former CEO, therefore I must be real smart and accomplished and can solve any problem in government.” I guess her lack of much record in politics can be appealing to some people, but I’m not sure that highly questionable tenures at Lucent and Hewlet Packard qualify her for anything.)

5. Marco Rubio 13/40 (he’s terrible, but would probably just extend the status quo and not make things radically worse. Basically, his comments were not the worst on immigration and his comments were slightly less crazy and terrible than the candidates above. i.e., he was not quite as distinguished in his terribleness, but maybe he just wasn’t well spoken enough in his canned U-rah speeches to reach the absolute bottom….he was reading off a script all night, and it was dreadfully apparent.)

4. Chris Christie 14/40 (he’s corrupt, he vows to prosecute all marijuana users in Colorado in one breath and preaches states rights in the other, yet he has some practical experience and has survived in a very blue state, meaning he has some ability to compromise. I think some of his comments were banter and conservative platitudes so as not to make himself unpalatable to the tea party base. He’s probably the first or second best choice among this field to actually be president in this country)

3. Donald Trump 16/40 (he says many things that lots of Americans will like, although it was mostly bullshit. His tax policy and domestic policies as he states them now with no detail whatsoever don’t sound too bad. His immigration policy is beyond lunacy-cancel birthright citizenship, round up all immigrants in the first week and send them to mexico, build an enormous wall between mexico and the US, then go to mexico and bring back the good immigrants….hmmmm. Trump also said no one would talk about immigration if he hadn’t brought it up. He effectively pounded his own drum all night and drowned out the other candidates. He said he’d be friends with Putin cause everyone likes him, and he’d get Putin to do what he wants. I still can’t consider him a real candidate, but his campiness and free-flowing snappy comebacks are something that Palin lovers will like, and he is much more well spoken than her…..however, the connection between “successful” business person and leader of the country is questionable at best….billionaires with a singular angle have the assets and maneuverability to exploit laws for their own benefit, like declaring bankruptcy, etc….would any of that work for a country?)

2. John Kasik 18/40 (he seems like a consensus maker to some degree. Other candidates seem to respect him, his record in Ohio has some good points, although he’s a union breaker as well. His immigration policy is on the higher side for this bunch, domestic policies seemed at least somewhat reasonable, he’s too religious for my liking but it doesn’t interfere nearly as bad with his ideology as the ones a the top. He wouldn’t be the most ruinous president)

1. Rand Paul (21/40) (his ideology is by far the most palatable to me of any of these candidates. He believes in consensus building with our allies, staying out of unwinnable conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afganistan, etc….He backed Trump on a weird interpretation of the 14th amendment applying to whether birthright citizenship is valid, and overall, his immigration policy is one of his weakest points. Also his flat tax structure of 14.4% to everyone….? Other than that, he was reasonable on domestic things, he’s anti-religion, he’s in favor of no marijuana prosecution in states that have legalized….I think libertarian viewpoints are defensible as ideologies because they are based in logic. All this being said, he’d be a disaster if he became president, as 90% of all Americans would HATE him, and he’d be politically crucified from day one by both parties)

In general, the infusion of Trump and Fiorina and their success in the polls to this point may be forcing the more core republican candidates to be more vocal than they’d like to be at this point. Notice how little Mitt Romney spoke last time with those wackaloons in 2012 on stage stealing the show(Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry)! The difference is that none of those candidates made any dent as far as ratings.

Saints Row how I missed you

SR4 last year suddenly stopped working on PC (my PC anyway) after a patch and after looking up stuff on the interweb tubes, there was no fix forthcoming so I uninstalled WITHOUT finishing the game.  This is sacrilege of the highest order.  After uninstalling both Total War Attila and Planetary Annihilation (review forthcumming), I have space on my SSD for SR4 again, and am back on that motherfucker for real this time.  The number of costume packs for about 2$ has exploded and the full-size expansion GAT OUT OF HELL which likely reveals the return of Johnny Gat who died in SR2, is waiting pedestrian abuse.

If you have this and want to go MULTI, let me know you mraakers.



TALISMAN – How much is too much?

This past weekend we played a long 4 player game of talisman in real life. One of the players, let’s call him Matt to protect the guilty, was new, and being a 4 person game, it took a long time. During and after the game, there was remarking about how much of a monster Talisman 4th edition has become and while 2nd edition became ‘fixed’ in about 1993 with the final Dragons Expansion, the Fantasy Flight version keeps going and going and going. This is a good thing but the question out of last night’s game was how many Talisman expansions are too much, not to own or to exist, but in actual PLAY during a single session?  There’s nothing wrong with having and Fantasy Flight creating tons of expansions, but like Cosmic Encounter, we don’t play with all of them all the time and over time, with about 75 games of Cosmic under my belt, I can tailor the playset to what group of players I have*.

First, let’s talk about the boards. The boards are big and beautiful and take up ALL your table space. You cannot physically reach across the boards to move your character without being Kareem Abdul Jabar, and most tables can’t even fit the entire five-part board upon them. In terms of gameplay, the worry that I had with the release of the Highlands expansion; that players would be all over the place and not interact or attack each other, has come to pass in spades with both the City and the Woods boards added to the Dungeon and Highlands. The main board simply does not get much attention except in the beginning of the game or when someone is going for the win the standard way. What’s more, since the means of getting to the middle can be so crippling the normal way with the Vampire on one side and Dice with Death on the other, players nearly always opt to go through the dungeon board which means you can get to the middle WITHOUT a Talisman!

Due to the size of the world, spell casters (Wizard for example), with their ability to reach out and touch someone, have really gotten a boost because it’s easier for them to hit and not get hit back since the strength characters have to give chase all over the regions. One of the main strategies to win is to try to kill off players that may be a threat (like the Wizard, Prophetess, Alchemist as some examples) as an early high-strength character (like the Warrior or the Troll), but when players can run to all sorts of different boards from the outset, some of which are more balanced to the character’s power levels than the main board is, it’s tough to bring a character to ground without the correct items in hand.

Comparing this to 2nd Edition where there is a main board, a dungeon board, a city board and the Timescape board all off to the side and not connected to the main board (physically at least) a lot of the action still occurred on the main board. The city had brutal cards in it so was a get in and get out sort of place, and the Dungeon was so stringent with what you can take in there (no horses, horse and cart, horse FOLLOWERS and the like) that it was usually only used for escape. Timescape is very difficult to get into early game since there is only one way in via the enchantress in the city. Once the adventure cards start dropping, there are typically gates all over the place.

What I want to do is look at the most basic Talisman needed for fun play and see what can reasonably be added to that to make a fun game and not a huge chore to play.  The only required sets are the base set and the Reaper expansion (whether or not you actually use the reaper in play is irrelevant, the cards that come with this expansion are essential), everything else I consider non-essential, not that I would ever play with just the reaper expansion and the base set!  I’ll do a series of posts in the next month or so on what expansions add and which detract and dilute.

*(with some n00bs at the table, I use 4 planets per player, all the aliens and Hazard cards and that’s it, with experienced players we go 5 planets, throw in tech, satellites and everything else).