Mandy

Mandy, Mandy, Mandy.  There is one film each year that becomes your gang of freaks’ movie of the year.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a quality film, doesn’t matter the genre, the actors or the amount of swords and TITS involved.  It just has to have an effect on your group in a meaningful way, even if it’s arguing.  Examples of this are  Fury Road for 2015, the VVitch in 2016, Get Out for 2017, etc.  It’s only September, but I’m feeling like Mandy is already a strong, strong contender for 2018.

This film came to my attention on account of strong rotten tomatoes score after Cannes and when the trailer hit, I watched it like 4-5 times the first day, then again the second a bunch more times while whoring around the trailer to others whenever possible.  This film pretty much aims straight at Appendix N people and it hits like a Sniper Elite NUTSHOT.   If you like weird ass horror, HK cinema crime/revenge films and dig a bunch of stuff from Appendix N, you will cream your jeans on this film.  If you grew up in the 80’s as well, this will be an  enlightening experience as the film is like an extended music video from 1983 or so.

So go see it. The film will likely be out of theaters by next week (until award season at least as it’s likely going to be up for something and then get another stint in the theaters again).  Stop here if you don’t want spoilers.

The Film and stuff I liked

  • Mandy and Red’s bed in the porch room with the greasy windows surrounded by woods.
  • The part where they were in the boat and then Red is looking across the fire at Mandy.  A lot of people have said that these characters are ‘really in love’ but Red has a level of obsessed awe and confusion when he really looks at Mandy that Cage is able to pull off that is different from some Love Actually shit.
  • The scene with Mandy being killed is very disturbing and they linger on it a long time.  This is extremely effective BUT I feel like they did not linger on the deaths of the cult enough when their time came.
  • The bathroom scene with Red in his tighty whities was amazing.  There’s a lot to love about Nicolas Cage’s performance overall, but that scene takes the cake.
  • I really enjoyed the fight in the shitty drug house with a coked up demon biker who was watching a porno on a small TV.
  • You can’t argue with practical effects face melting.  As a kid I accidentally watched this one movie where a woman gets too close to a volcano and her face melted.. then the next summer it was on again and I walked into the room just as that scene was playing so I saw it a second time!!
  • Acid. Every single character is on LSD or something like it at some point in the film.
  • The music

Stuff I didn’t like

  • I couldn’t understand what Red was saying at the end of the movie! Too garbled up.
  • I think the film should have given more of a feeling of time-span between Red escapes and starts killing people, or spans in between.
  • Some of the killing/fighting was a bit boring, granted most of the cultists were petrified non-combatants, but the demon bikers could have been a bit more interesting in the fight choreography /setting (think Freddy Vs Jason or Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness witch fights type of shit).  Red gets all fucked up, but you don’t FEEL it like you do when Ash does in Evil Dead.
  • The film is slow in the beginning and then there is payoff. I was expecting some 2001 style psychedelic trip-out at the very end of the film (there’s a small one, but not a huge freak out that I expected) to tonally shift it back to the first scenes of the film.  It shows a surreal flashback of Mandy and Red at a party where Red is staring at Mandy with that obsessed confused look and she is smiling and crying and I would have cut the movie right there and not shown Red again driving in his car through the woods.  His gift for going to hell for revenge is to be able to experience her memory uncluttered with all the ‘crazy evil’ and they should have left him with that.

Questions!

Why didn’t Red kill the young whore-cultist girl?  She was party to everything and didn’t help Red for shit at any point.

What was the double moons and alien landscape at the end of the film supposed to indicate?

Why didn’t they kill Red when they had the chance (twice!)

Where did they get that VAN? Where did they find that HOUSE?

Gaslands!

 

Osprey Publishing put out a post-apocalyptic car (and truck and helicopter) combat miniatures game awhile back and it’s good! Despite the look of these strange blue gaming books, rules-wise I can say that Gaslands has clearly written, easy to understand and very intriguing rules. I played Car Wars as a little kid and then ‘graduated’ to DARK FUTURE (I got a primo set of the game plus expansion off ebay for a mere 60$ in 2001 or so) which I couldn’t even get to the table as the rules were so… inscrutable.. and I’ve played ASL for fucksakes!

Car Wars can be excused as it was little chits and came out in the early 80’s, I’m not sure what happened with Dark Future, as GW at the time had some solid rules, but not that time. I have not busted the game out to play but here’s some reasons to get it, as well as some reasons you may not like it.

Custom hotdogcar by BLATZ

Good

  • Uses Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars– and you need about 6-10 of them for a total cost of about 14$.
  • You can MOD the shit out of the cars and it’s supported in the game, or not and just have a Speed Racer style race (or crash up derby).
  • Uses a lot of templates (like Xwing) for movement, so things move fast compared to the tape measure.
  • Has excellent and playable driving/control/wipeout and sliding around rules
  • Has easy combat and damage rules
  • Terrain is cheap, or you could go to town and build some crazy stuff
  • People are putting a shitload of customized cars on EBAY, so if you have 50$ to spend, you could get cars Gaslands ready pretty easily

Bad

  • Uses a lot of templates! You have to print them out and cut them or buy a set of plastic ones.
  • Uses additional counters (ammo, hazard/control markers) that you would need to create or buy
  • Isn’t incredibly super crazy detailed– the game has some abstractions that may make some people cringe. For example, if you hit a wall, you can move right off of it the next turn.
  • There isn’t a line of miniatures for the game– you have to custom your own minis
  • You have to superglue your hotwheels wheels so they don’t move (hint: if you really like a specific hotwheel, get an extra $1.49 from somewhere and buy a second copy!)

Galeforce 9 gets the Dune license

Remember back when Fantasy Flight was an independent company and tried to go for the Dune license to make games and could not do it– instead making REX?   While the engine to REX is the old DUNE board game one, the space kittys and frogs and stuff are a far, far cry from the Sardakar and Fremen of DUNE.

Out of print for close to 40 years now, Avalon Hill’s Dune is one of the best asymmetrical board game experiences you can have and holds up fantastically even today.  We played it so many times that we ran through the entire set of player aid pads that came in the box and had to start recycling!

This week it was announced that Galeforce 9 got the license to Dune and will be making board games with it.  Great news as they have done some excellent work recently with Sons of Anarchy (still real cheap on Amazon!) and succeeded there DESPITE the game being a licensed property.

Yet the biggest question is there: will Galeforce 9 be able to or choose to resurrect one of the best board games ever created?  Will they be working with the original designers (the Cosmic Encounter guys)?  Or will they try to make a totally different (and likely inferior) game to the original AH Dune?

Dungeon Degenerates new expansion

While I haven’t played enough games of it to write a review (I never review a game I haven’t played at least 10 times unless it’s like Terrible Swift Sword or Here I Stand which usually can only be played a few times in a lifetime due to length), I’ve enjoyed the sessions of Dungeon Degenerates quite a bit and they are out with their first expansion on Kickstarter.    35$ and look at the cover art…

Gencon 2018!

I headed down to Gencon on nearly a whim and it was pretty good. This means that I haven’t missed a Gencon since 1992.  That’s a LOT of Gencons.   This year I was trying to take a break after the insanity of the 50th anniversary last summer and all that, but broke down with both desire and some peer pressure from Matt.

Matt said it was his favorite Gencon ever as he got to game a lot and didn’t have to waste time on taking FAR too much time going out to eat, which is a massive timesink when you add it up.  Going to the RAM for lunch will take at least 2-3 hours minimum and then you are spun back into the Con drunk.

I only went on Saturday for reals and after wandering the hall a bit (trying not to buy anything this year), I got over to the CUBICLE 7 booth and had a chat with none other than Graeme Davis of WFRP fame who was showing off a binder with pages from 4th edition.  Mr. Davis, along with others, wrote the Enemy Within, Shadows over Boganhoffen, Rough Night at Three Feathers and many other great modules for one of the most important RPG’s ever.  WFRP 4 is going to be a merger of 1st and 2nd edition WFRP with nothing from Fantasy Flight’s 3rd edition (no funky dice or chits all over the place or cards for actions).  In addition, he has been tasked with writing the 4th edition Enemy Within in which, he said, would be surprises that help if players have played the 1st edition campaign as well as doing it closer to the original 1E edition.  Davis also co-wrote the 3rd edition version of the Enemy Within for Fantasy Flight.  Talking to Mr. Davis about this subject made the failed BIRD ride from downtown Milwaukee and drive down to Indy the night before totally worth it– the rest of the con was GRAVY.

After that WFRP fangasm, we got in another game of Rising Sun and I pulled out a win, which was the third in the row with different clans (the Fox, Butterfly and Turtle clans respectively).  I don’t usually win Blood Rage, though I love it, so I’m not sure how it’s happening with Rising Sun except via simple experience.  It’s becoming a favorite of the group.

I got in a game of Runequest (the new version from Chaosium) that was OK, the pre-gen character sheets were in the same format as the Free RPG day ones and they really sucked.  Please just list the fucking spells instead of saying “all common rune spells” so that the players, some who are totally new to RQ, have to go look them up in the book that they don’t have.  Another issue with RQ as a CON game is that it expects and demands vast knowledge of the Glorantha background, which, IMO is something to be slowly revealed over the course of a long campaign.  People aren’t going to know all the gods of the Glorantha pantheon– so don’t do CON scenarios that expect players to have that knowledge at all.   The scenario was a typical Glorantha one, with some Broo and some chaos getting all over the place and having to be cleaned up, but had a lot of stuff about the Lightbringers and Orlanthi stuff which all had to be explained in detail.  It was pretty good, but I just do not think Glorantha-based Runequest is much of a CON game.  System wise I miss the Mythras special effects in combat–they copied RQ6’s excellent Passions system: why didn’t they copy it’s superlative combat system as well?  The new RQ Glorantha book looks beautiful though, so should be picked up at some point.  They only had 200 at the CON for sale and I think they sold out pretty quick.

After RQ, I ran DCC for the gang in a very large hall of people and had to talk really loudly. I had to run down to the business center in the hotel in order to print off random characters for the game at the cost of 8$.  I need to remember to bring a huge stack of characters EVERYWHERE I go.   The session was pretty much proof that you can run DCC anywhere under very severe conditions.  I did Frozen in Time which is take on Expedition to the Barrier Peaks except all DCC.  We got fairly far into the module until people started to fall asleep on account of the hour and the drink.  That may be one to finish off.

Other than wandering the dealer hall a bit on Sunday and pestering Tom Babbey at his art booth, buying the obligatory DCC modules, that was pretty much my GENCON.

Some pictures.

I don’t know what these guys are supposed to be but Matt does.
Matt got this lady to do this for reasons I don’t know. He said it was some sort of explosion woman?
The guys playing the almost the best RPG.
The gaming halls were totally packed most of the time.
Rising Sun, pointing.

Rim the World

RimWorld is one nasty time sucker!  I’ve had a week off here and have played about 20 hours or so — all good times and solid frustrations.

The game is an ARPG/ survival game like we’ve seen so many times with many, many bad games in the genre–  but this one channels the most Dwarf Fortress stuff without the horrifying graphics and insurmountable commands, while being no where near as complex on the back end.  For example, when you do stuff in a space in Dwarf Fortress, that stuff stays there FOREVER until changed by some other agent in the game.  In Rim World, if you leave your colony for some reason, it disappears and re-randomizes the hex you used to be in.  So you can’t watch the deterioration of your bases after you leave them.

You start the game with either three or one colonists with various skills and abilities and you need to grow food, hunt, protect yourselves, tame animals and find some way to survive the winter, fallout, massive raids of mechanoids and natives. Typically, like Dwarf Fortress, this is a cascade of failure after about 4-5 hours of play in each game.  The way to play the game properly is to have a single save file so that you can’t go back to earlier games and try to avoid the RNG or bad decisions– but the game allows you to wuss out and have tons of saves.

How I start the game is this: land on the planet, pick up weapons and medicine, make a couple sleeping spots, then find a room that’s already built on the map and inhabit it.  Next I find where the “ancient evil” room is on the map and immediately open it up and see what’s in there.  Most of the time this leads to quick destruction, but sometimes it not only gives the colonists a solid flame proof building, but cyrocaskets and some tech weapons to boot.   This way you can either start off strong, or get wiped out and start a new game, which you will probably be doing eventually anyways.

Combat is a frantic, pausable affair where you try to position your colonists in the best possible places to take on attackers in real time.  I haven’t gotten very high tech weapons yet, but that’s because I play hardcore for the most part, and haven’t survived!  There are quite a few different guns and weapons in the game, and it escalates into quite an arms race with your neighbors and raiders as the game goes on.

All in all, highly recommended.  The heart of the RNG in this one is in the right place for sure.