Gencon bound tomorrow!

Here we go for another fucking Gencon. When oh when will I learn? The overpriced everything, the MASSIVE crowds (and I mean that on every level) and the constant hunt for the awesome thing– when really this year I would be fine staying at home with a bunch of friends and playing a whole lotta ROOT instead.

That said, I’ll be able to see some homies from across the lands (not as many this year are going), and play some stuff that I wouldn’t ever have a chance to, so that’s good. I think until our kids are old enough, gone are the days where a whole shitload of us would ditch the kids for the weekend and go down for all four days. It may be better to go back to what I used to do: drive down Friday, stay saturday and leave Sunday. Ahhhh well, in a moment of weakness and Maat’s prompting, I’m in it for all four days.

Events! I’m in what should be a very cool FASERIP miniatures Free For All battle. I’ll post impressions and the rules and all that shit when I get back from the con. Second I got into the Keyforge tournament, which should be ridiculous. RPG-wise we are in a Mutant Crawl Classics game and a game of Mythras on Saturday morning at 8 AM (let’s see if we make this one).

Most importantly though is the self run SHADOWFIST DRAFT! I got together all my remaining boxes of Shadowfist and we have a few people ready to draft and play. It’s going to be a real shit swarm of decks as we are starting with:

Standard Starter – Absolute DRECK of cards, the lowest of the low. When I look at this stuff, I’m shocked that Shadowfist survived after it’s first Limited run…so much garbage.

Boosters of the following:

  • Standard Booster – More of the same crap and still no hitters to find…
  • Empire of Evil – everyone will be hoping for the best with their booster here
  • Netherworld 2 – good stuff, just need to get lucky
  • Throne War – great set, but pretty big… so chances are slim
  • Boom Shaka Laka – in for the LOL’S. Maybe someone will get a good dragon card or…?

This should be enough to get a semi functional deck out of and we have pods of feng shui and foundations. Should be a great time, if we can only get a couple 3-man tables anyway.

So see you after with pics and other nonsense. Luckily I can’t spend much money on anything, so there won’t be the horde of crap I come back with this year. Hoping to find a decently priced John Company, Conquest of Paradise or Fire in the Lake, but that’s it.

Feng Shui 2 and stuff not to do while camping

We have our summer outing out in the woods and there’s a lake and we drink some and swim and go out on various watercraft. At night, we try to do some RPG action but this year it was tough, because the weather was just about perfect. 60’s at night, 80’s during the day. No fucking rain of any significance and not a lot of bugs.

A lady in the town nearby made the mistake of asking Maat: “You goin’ fishin’?” to which he replied, “No, drinking and then probably fighting after.”

Stuff not to do:

  • Fight in a bramble or briar patch
  • Try to learn paddleboarding 4-8 beers in. Continue to try to learn under similar conditions later
  • Say “JESUS CHRIST!” in front of a church group that just sold you a brat.
  • Drink 4-6 beers while treading water in the middle of a lake that has walleye in it.
  • Stay sober enough so you’re the one that has to drive to town whenever someone has to take a shit.

Most notable was that people saw an eagle take a duck out of the water right in front of them. One feels bad for the duck, but then you think about that the ecological damage being done by mankind on a yearly basis being beyond human comprehension and it’s great to see a large raptor make such a rebound after almost going extinct a few years back. I saw one driving home as far south as Cascade, which is awesome.

Anyway, the Feng Shui. I’ve run the new version now maybe 4-5 times and I think the main thing to watch for is the # of players. I’ve run games with larger groups and it’s just not as fun, I believe because it takes too long to get back around and momentum for your specific character (who are all total badasses) gets lost a bit. I would say 3 is great and 4 should be the max number of players.

We had a lot of gun characters this time with a Maverick Cop and Full Metal Nutball, both of which are great archtypes, but gunplay can get a bit boring without shotguns, so try to have protagonists close the range down as the fight goes on so those go into action, and watch the Killer or Hard Boiled before EVERY session with many guns for ideas and stunts. There are enough of what I would describe as fluff or boring archtypes out of the 36 available, so be careful. One thing of note is when you’re picking characters, if there aren’t a lot of blocks of text in the abilities section, it’s probably fairly boring to play (looking at you Spy and Private Eye…).

I’ve been in three sessions with the scrappy kid, and that archtype has got to be the bane of every Feng Shui GM. Super high defense with very little offense (without doing crazy shit like dropping a cargo container on someone or running people down with a bus) makes for a difficult character to deal with, but hey, it’s fun. While the Everyday Hero can max out offense vs bosses, he can still take a fucking beating.

I’m not going to go through the session because I will end up saying spoilers for what’s next, but stuff I used that helped a lot GM’ing:

  • Read-reading the driving chapter in the main book. It’s great fun, but a bit tricky to learn at first. Think of how many chase scenes both on foot and in any types of vehicles happen in action films and you will realize how important this section is to GMs.
  • Pre-rolled mook numbers. I thought I would hate this, but it was excellent. You just pick a direction on the sheet and go across, looking for a hit, Easy and focuses on the narration rather than rolling tons of dice for mooks. I would consider this for 13th Age as well.
  • Dry Erase Character Sheets. These are fucking great and stood up to gaming while camping very well. Yes, a few of them got big dents and shit, and one was totally rubbed off with info, but overall, good investment for the money. Watch it though, there are TYPOS.
  • More schicks from the conversion codex. ALL of the stats and powers and stuff from every single supplement for the original Feng Shui has been published for Feng Shui 2. Want to know how badass Ting Ting is in the new version? You can look it up. Golden Gunman? HOMO OMEGA? Yep. The conversion codex de facto has tons of new villain schticks compared to the core book, so it’s a great resource beyond that for creating enemies and allies.
  • This guy’s cheat sheets. These were great to use during the game, and more helpful than the published GM screen.

While it looks like the Feng Shui 2 line has stopped publishing stuff (the last adventure was a free RPG day one, and not too bad), there’s a ton of grist for the mill from first edition that you can cobble together. One thing of note though, most published Feng Shui adventures are not that great, either too shadowfisty (where your characters really know a lot about the secret war) or too off the range (like an African Safari style adventure) to be easily usable. You just have to dig a bit to find the good ones, and I also just recommend watching a bunch of wuxia, gun-fu and Chinese period films and coming up with your own stuff instead.

Kickstarter: Acid Vomit! The Art of Sean Aaberg

Aaberg is the man responsible for the art for the excellent and whimsical Dungeon Degenerates board game. I think 35$ for a 200 page book of his art is a pretty good deal. It’s a bit like Russ Nickolson, Rockin’ Jellybean and Big Daddy Roth had a baby and then forced them to read 80’s White Dwarf magazines and GROO! all day long. Here is the link.

Here’s some of his stuff including my favorite: the cover of the DD expansion, which is just amazing.

Superhero BEATINGS

We had a tournament with all 22 characters from My Hero One’s Justice last weekend. We only had three players, so we had to switch off and play different characters and even sometimes play each other’s mains when two of a player’s characters got into the same bracket.

We seeded them based on this tier ranking, which I now feel is pretty out of date and maybe is only for what my kids would call ‘try hard’ players and not for dirty, dirty casuls like us, actually, reading other stuff online, it’s just out of date, by a LOT.

A S S

A brief description of the game: MHOJ is an arena fighter like Naruto Ultimate Storm, and some of the DBZ games but with strange hyper-Japanese superheroes rather than ninja or… uhhh whatever the DBZ guys are. Basically, you can run all over the fighting area, which is usually inside a big cube or rectangle that looks like a city street or a park or a classroom (!). There are standard attacks, counter attacks and unblockables (most are grabs, but many are something else). Counter attacks give you super armor (like Hulk in MVC2) so you cannot be hit out of your attack animation, but you still take damage. All characters have two ‘quirk’ attacks that are specials unique to just them and are part of the normal move set (as in, you can constantly do them). All characters also have a meter that increases during the matches like most other fighters of any type. When full the characters can pull off Ultra attacks which go into a cinematic if it connects. Usually I hate these cinematic moves due to one of Budokan 3 on the PS2, which constantly had these super looonnnggg cinematic attacks where you could get up and take a piss during. Luckily, the MHOJ’s Ultras are short (for the most part) and rarely occur as meter takes a long time to build up.

You also get to pick two team mates from the roster that you can call to help you either break or extend combos a bit like KOF 2013 and again like MVC2. I thought it was a 3v3 fighter at first, and was like huh.. I can’t play as all these guys? But with play, I really enjoy the team assists.

There is normal movement on the map which seems to make the game slow as shit, but the game has dashing which makes you pretty vulnerable but speeds the game up crazy. Basic cancelling is typically done with the dash button mid combo, leading obviously to some crazy combos like every other game with a specific move for a cancel rather than cancelling normals into supers and stuff like that (which you can also do).

Because it’s a superhero game, you can knock people across the maps, and even knock them into the walls so they get stuck and you get a free attack (which usually leads into the truly huge combos). The game is remorseless about characters with ranged attacks–firing off constant fireballs is not a punishable offense and can be done with the press of a single button. The first time you play against one of the ranged characters (like Todoroki or Dabi), you will be like WTF sort of game is this?! as they seem uber over-powered. Most of the ranged/zone characters are weak close in, so there is some balance. However, a few are good at range and close up, which makes it very difficult to win against them at any time.

Even as n00bs with very few matches under our belts, the tournament was quite a bit of fun and there were some intense match ups, and some matches that people just sloughed off in apathy around the characters. Since he’s brutal at range and close up, everyone expected Shoto Todoroki to dominate, and he was logically placed at the highest seed. Yet, in a chilling upset in the semi finals, he was taken down –not by my well-practiced Momo (practiced for a couple hours that is) –but by a button mashing MUSCULAR who went on to win the final vs All Might.

Here are the winners and the runners up:

  1. Muscular
  2. All Might
  3. Todoroki
  4. Jiro

Semi finals (in no particular order)

  • Momo
  • Deku Shoot Style
  • Shigenaki
  • Kaminari Deki

In the final 8, we have three hardcore zone characters (read as ‘fucking annoying’) with Todoroki, Jiro and Deki and all the rest are either close-in combo characters or weird AoE types (Momo and Shigenaki). It was very annoying to go up against Dabi, Endevour and Ihasa the wind dude, but in the end, all the zone characters had their tickets punched by the large fists of Muscular and All Might.

All that said, I really, really like the fighting engine in this game and I’m very surprised by this. My first ‘arena’ fighter was Ehrgiez and the last one I really liked was Urban Reign by Namco. I played a couple of the Dragonballs games but the characters are just not my cup of tea at all. What I like most is that the dash cancels (and therefore combos) are easy to figure out and timing is relatively easy (we play on Manual mode). With the support characters, there’s just a ton of shit going on in the game yet it’s all very tactical, despite the fact that a few of the characters can beat you down with the press of a couple buttons if you don’t know what you are doing. All of the 22 characters feel very different from each other and some have radically different quirks including one that can become the other character they are fighting during the match, and one that can use his powers so much that he stuns himself and leaves himself open for a massive beating.

MHOJ is also surprisingly good since Superhero fighting games usually suck. You have Marvel vs Capcom 2, which is incredible, but since then: what is there? Many tries, but not much that’s good. The new Marvel vs Capcom games are lackluster at best, especially without the Xmen: I mean, why bother? Injustice is a SNOOZE fest, especially for a superhero game. MVC2 pulled it off because it was completely insane and the Marvel universe does not have a Superman/Supreme/Saitama/Marvelman (Miracleman) to defy the canon by placing them in a fighter where they would normally destroy all foes easily. When I see Superman standing there punching batman in a 2-d fighter, it just seems very stupid. Granted, these types of games are very difficult to make in the first place. You have crazy ass powers, some of which only tangentially work in a fight, and certainly any characters that can fly or really jump high are ridiculous to try to model. MVC2 pulled it off, and MHOJ has also.

While we wait for the Kill la Kill game, and the One-Punch Man game has just been announced, there are more ‘super’ arena fighters right around the corner. Meanwhile, My Hero One’s Justice is excellent fun, even for plebian filth casuls. With it’s stupid name and severely unbalanced roster, so far, MHOJ seems like the best super hero fighting game that I’ve played outside of MVC2.

Gearbox’s 1v1 is back!

We got to play this a while back and have been wondering where it was at, because it was a super fun arena shooter with TONS of potential. It’s now in another closed beta but you can go to the FAQ and follow instructions.

We can’t post any videos or screenshots from the last time we got to play, but trust that as hardcore Quake 3, UT2K4 and Quake players— we’re sayin’ IT’S GOOD.

Mark’s daily apple guides to Sprinting

I would not normally put any health or exercise shit on this blog, as this is about fucking GAMES and sitting in chairs and pushing wood on cardboard or LANing out in a haze of smoke and ass-gasps right?

However, years ago I came across an article by Mark Sisson on sprinting and it’s been really helpful. I’m a sad sack of shit fitness wise and I eat like a 12 year old childe, but I try to sprint at least once a week during the temperate months (late march – november) with the 18 sprint workout (6 warm up, 6 real hard, 6 cool down). Before that I was running 2-3 times a week for about 2.5 miles (with a big 6-7 block hill at the end) with a 5-7 mile run peppered in here and there for lols. Sprinting made everything feel better and the core thing for me: sprinting is FUN where as running distance fucking SUCKS ASS and feels like shit the whole time.

Anyway, you sit on your fucking ass all day like I do, but read this and do sprints.

Anything fitness posted here will come with a hottie just so I’m kept honest about what it’s all really about.

Rage 2 – solid shooter, missing car combat and really ugly women

I just finished Rage 2 this weekend and overall, I think the game is solid. I have yet to finish Far Cry 4, and yet Rage 2 kept my interest enough to plow through the game over a couple weeks, which is saying something, especially when I was playing Bloodborne on the PS4 at the same time, which is a holyfucking masterpiece.

Basically the story is fairly generic, the intro to the game could have been Serious Sam style funcheese, but it really felt like it took the middle ground of taking itself too seriously, sort of. The character you play (Walker… Ranger.. .get it?), while voiced well, is supergeneric action hero man with very little to cling to character-wise. The main guy from Bulletstorm or the a’fore mentioned Serious Sam are done quite a bit better. I was waiting for some more Chuck Norris jokes, but I didn’t notice any.

It’s got to be rough for a Bethesda studio to take on post-apocalyptic without it being Fallout, but for me, I was glad that it’s totally separate as Rage 2 has a different focus; one that I felt they hit right on the nose: the firefights and gunplay. This is where id software absolutely shines and damn the firefights are fun, especially the set pieces at various bases. Everything else in the game is just a distraction from the firefights really.

The guns are good, but I found myself using the shotgun for just about everything and then the assault rifle for the rest with occasional use of the rocket launcher. You can pretty much get through the game with those three weapons no problem. The ‘nailgun’ type weapon that does more damage the more it fires is useful for boss fights, but that’s about it. The ‘set people on fire’ pistol is solid fun, but I found myself just always wanting the shotgun instead. Overall, nothing really crazy here in terms of weapons except some are full on useless compared to others (the settler pistol for instance). I loved the fact that there was no sniper rifle! None of that wussy shit!

What I didn’t like is when you get in firefights, your enemies don’t drop ammo so you tend to avoid any fights while you are on your way to a mission zone, there isn’t any reason other than feltrite to kill stuff. They also don’t drop guns– you have special Ranger-only guns throughout the game so their guns are shytte anyway. However, I’ve found myself out of ammo and it would have been nice to pick up a crap submachine gun to finish off the last few guys without having to wait for my Ranger Power timers to cooldown.

Which brings us to the powers. The MEAT of Rage 2 is the creative and combination-al use of the environment, weapons and powers in the game. When you start to get access to powers, you start to be able to do all sorts of funky stuff and interact with the physics of the game. Some of the stuff I used a lot (the big ‘stomp’ power just like Saints Row 4) and some not at all (the hold-jump while aiming thing or any of the grenade knock back powers). My favorite thing was probably setting up an electrified shield and then throwing out the mini-black hole thing which would suck everyone into the shield to get electrified. There’s a lot of fun play here due to the chaos of the physics and what the powers do. If I play it again with the next expansion, it will be for this stuff alone.

I found the actual upgrade system really frustrating, with levels purchased with feltrite and perks and nanotrites and what the hell is all this shit? This is a game where I may have just wanted straight unlocks without any choice on my part, just to remove the hassle. Plus on PC, the UI for upgrading levels was so weird I had to look up on the interweb tubes how to do it.

If you get this game and want to get to the fun real fast to see if you like it, start the game, sit through the intro then press the FOCUS key when you get out of the first town. On the horizon you will see these rainbow colored beams shooting up into the air. Go to all of them as quickly as you can and get the stuff inside the arcs. Do this before anything else!

Cars and stuff

I liked this better than Rage 1, but … it was lackluster. What I wanted out of the game was TWISTED METAL and they just did not deliver. They had all these different cars, monster trucks, tanks, funny wheeled tanks, some advanced vehicles– but there simply wasn’t any meaningful car combat AT ALL. Yes you can go after the big rigs and their escorts, but the escorts don’t break off and engage, they simply stay in formation and let you shoot the fuck out of them. You do not get vehicularily attacked on the roads either except by a couple punks on bikes which do nothing. They have a big race track, but NO arena style combat. This was a fucking HUGE opportunity missed in my opinion and I’m not sure how this could have happened, it almost feels like they were going for it but had to cut it out.

Overall, there are two vehicles you need. The first one you get (that… talks….) and the flying Icarus bike. The first one is good for combat and is fairly fast on the road and the Icarus flies so you can avoid all the nonsense twisting around of roads to get to where you gots to go much faster. The racing cars were fun to drive too, but no weapons. All the rest of the cars and especially the motorcycles were not that fun to drive, and not fast enough (with enough control) to warrant using.

Encounters and set pieces are a mixed bag, with some being incredible and some being pretty boring. A lot of the random road encounters are of two types. First are just people standing in the road waiting. Not going anywhere, just standing around. That’s pretty odd. Secondly there are two groups fighting at very close range, also sometimes in the middle of the road. Every once in a while you will see a group carting something somewhere or carrying boxes or sitting around a fire, but it’s fairly rare. There are very few ambushes on the roads, I think I saw only two.

whachu waitn’ fo?

The set pieces, like bases and road blockers are all pretty solid, with some very interesting environments mixed in. Fights in big towers, cliff faces, all seem to be goon squad base which are the best. The Mutants have caves, which give interesting (but eventually repetitive) indoor environments. The River Hogs and the Shrouded have pretty boring bases compared to the other two, but the fights are more difficult as their weapons and armor are better. Many of the set pieces are similar in pattern, so when you’ve destroyed 2-3 bases, you sort of know what all there rest will be like, with the exception of the Goon Squad (punk looking dudes) which seem to have the most interesting and varied bases.

The boss fights are not too bad, but nothing awe inspiring. The boss designs are cool, but not really all that varied. Only fighting one type of boss during the game would have been better (like in the Souls series– you never fight the same boss twice unless it’s an early game one that shows up as a normal enemy late game. Early in the game, I got in a situation with one boss where I skilled through the fight before the boss and then with my load out at that time of powers it was impossible (I tried like 20 times) to defeat the boss and his respawning minions. At this same time I took down the Blood Starved Beast and Vicar Amelia in Bloodborne…so this was very frustrating.

Lastly the environments, characters and visuals. Graphically this game is fanfucking tastic. The places you can go are trashy and beautiful at the same time. There is amazing amounts of detail in the buildings and environments and, like ALL id games, it pays to look around at everything and how lovingly crafted it is. I loved loved loved the look of the explosions, GREASY explosions all over the place and could probably watch that shit all day.

Character wise, I was impressed at the visuals, but man the people in this game have all been beaten with the ugly stick, and I mean BAD. Especially the women. All of the women in the game with the exception of two that I remember seeing were made to be as physically repulsive as possible. Terrible haircuts, awful facial features, dirt and grime, puking on themselves, and generally women, even in the civilized settlements, that have zero concern for their attire or appearance at all. These are not irradiated desert dwellers, but people that live in rooms and apartments. I get that video game women are typically either supermodels or elderly with nothing in between (Kingdom Come does a good job of mitigating this a bit, since none of the women are supermodelesque, but they aren’t ugly either), but Rage has swung so far to the ugly that I can’t help but mention it over and over. Here are some examples.

And a shot from RAGE 1 of the hottie just for memories.

her sole purpose in the game is to teach you the wing stick…

And didn’t Moonbeam McSwine teach us that you can still be hot and live in FILTH?

My overall take on Rage 2 is that it has some bugs, it’s got GREAT shooting and powers combat, but is lacking in the Twisted Metal vehicle combat department, which I was really expecting. The bosses are underwhelming, which may be a product of it being very hard to make large bosses for a first person shooter. The story… doesn’t matter. While it has some flaws, Rage 2 finds it’s redemption in it’s core gameplay as a crazy shooter.

Rephlex Records 10th Anniversary vid

This is a very interesting (and sometimes tedious) interview with Rephlex records from many years ago. I’d never seen it as it was on German televisions. It’s amazing that Wagonchrist, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, and Mu-Siq were all on this label when they just were starting out. The video many of good tracks that may take you down memory lane and lots of crazy-ass videos.

Go Go Godzilla!

I took the kids to see the new Godzilla movie (and matt and scooter went to) Thursday and it was quite the show. I knew it was going to be a big throw down from the trailer that depicted King Ghidorah and it did not disappoint in that regard. However I can see the complaint raised against the film that it was far too crammed with plot and scenes for a single one-sitting movie. In addition to Ghidorah and Godzilla, it’s got Mothra and Rhodan in major parts of the film.

I really liked the 2014 Godzilla movie– it had just the right amount of seriousness and fun mixed together, doing an excellent job of portraying the ‘holy shit’ factor when the humans see/experience Godzilla for the first time in modern CGI. Yet it wasn’t like Cloverfield or the Host, Godzilla was only partly this horror/menace, it also fights another giant monster in the film, something I did not expect at all walking in.

The 2019 film has similar themes and must have the largest casualty count in any Godzilla film I’ve ever seen. Yet it retains the fun of a Kaiju movie with an additional twist on what fans of the series think is going to happen (Alien invasion).

From the various Godzilla film series, we see a pattern of films that complete a story arc for that series.

First there’s a stand alone godzilla movie

Next is a godzilla vs some other monster, usually 2-3 of these films. One of these is Godzilla vs some aliens that use the other monsters to take over the earth

Next is Godzilla vs Mecha-godzilla that usually involves aliens

Finally there is the large alien invasion plot that inevitably involves King Ghidorah and all the other monsters (the original King of the Monsters, 2004’s Godzilla Final Wars).

When I walked into the film, I expected aliens to use Ghidorah to try to take over the earth in this one, but it wasn’t that, yet it didn’t recon the earlier set up that Ghidorah was an alien monster–which was quite clever. This is definitely an homage film, even throwing in the air-eater bomb that was used in the very first Godzilla film.

How does this compare to SHIN Godzilla (which won best picture in Japan). SHIN is a political film more like the very first Godzilla where Godzilla is a representation of nuclear/environmental disaster in monster form. While godzilla is in the film, and his scenes are horrifying and awesome, the real story is in the board and meeting rooms with the human characters rather than it being any sort of normal kaiju movie. Godzilla King of the Monsters tries to give us both the character development and politics as well as being a massive kaiju battle movie. While crammed to the brim, I feel it succeeds in both.