October, bust out the horror films. There’s so much good stuff out there, from Hammer horror to Roger Corman films and a ton of totally crappy horror films that are just awesome to watch.
Some films I’ve enjoyed for various reasons this season.
This is a film about divorce and it’s effect on a family and children masked as a horror film. It’s completely nuts, but there’s so much going on–spies, outerworld entities (or maybe not), the Berlin wall. It’s difficult to imagine this being pulled off successfully without absolutely superb acting, and there it is. If you’re prepared for something really fucked up, but not stupidly so, this is a great choice. Note, get the FULL 2 hour film, not the butchered American release.
Drag Me To Hell
This is a masterpiece and one of my favorite horror films. It’s got jump scares, creeping dread, gross out stuff, and Evil Dead style Three Stooges style fighting as well as excellent character development throughout. It’s a pretty good one for kids too (no nudity, no sex, not a lot of swearing).
Before the LotR (and Hobbit disaster), this was the work of Peter Jackson, and it’s an absolutely excellent undead goregasm. Totally gross, super cheesy, fucking hilarious and a big step up from Bad Taste. The “Annual Meeting” scene is unbelievably awesome.
If you’ve been to an arcade in the last couple years, you may have noticed the GIANT arcade machines in the back with everyone yelling all the time while playing. That’s Killer Queen, the 10-player version.
Now the Switch and PC get their versions so you can play at home. Looks like it’s only 4 player vs, but that’s still pretty great.
This is a post for MOUTH because I think I found a tableau other than the most expense card game out there (Glory to Rome) that Matt actually likes to fulfill your Race for the Galaxy needs on the ski trip. I know he’d like you to leave that one at home, and here’s a very viable replacement: a strategic tableau builder, highly thematic, not overly complex with an all-vs-one win requirement at the end (like Shadowfist).
One checks Boardgamegeek a lot and one plays a bunch of games and one thinks one is on top of it and know what’s good and what one’s group should play because one knows what’s in the top 100 games and what’s out there but let me tell you– you don’t know SHIT. A lot of the hot games that run up the BGG ladder are flashes in the pan– fun for the euro crowd but ultimately shallow patchworks of regurgitated mechanics loosely tied to a theme which eventually become boring as there’s no interaction with meaning, and it’s a hollow experience (Scythe, Coimbra, on and on). The experience in most is akin to everyone playing solitaire.
I like games where the problem in the game is the other players. All CCG’s are like this, Gangland, Rising Sun, Root (oh especially Root…), Blood Rage, on and on. In many tableau games, you’re really just still playing solitaire, Race for the Galaxy, which is a great game and spawned an entire sub-genre, isn’t about crushing or even really interacting with your opponents, it’s all about engine building faster and better than the other players. Then the game ends and it’s a point salad. Pax Pofiriana is a tableau and you try to build an engine (multiple actually), but there isn’t a point salad at the end unless all players fail to win via the normal means, which is to become the leader of Mexico after Pofirio Diaz is toppled from power (or abdicates).
In the game you play as a hacendado near the turn of the century (1880’s -1920 is the period) and are trying to build out your businesses, banks, ranches, mines, transportation systems and personal military in anticipation of either a coup, revolution or abdication of the long-time president of Mexico- Pofirio Diaz. If it was a straight copy of RftG, you’d just win at some appointed time with the most money– but the victory conditions are extremely different.
Basically, there are four separate”I’m going for the win” cards in the game and each allows for a different victory condition: Military, Loyalty to the current government, US Annexation and leading a successful revolution. Each of these cards are tied to a type of victory points in the game that you try to collect. They come up semi-randomly during the game into an area where they can be ‘purchased’ by a player and played for the win. When someone goes for the win, all the other players try to stop them by increasing the current government’s strength or their own. The whole thing is a sub-layer over the top of a solid engine builder.
So the game is a good replacement for Race for the Galaxy AND it’s a non-CCG game that gives some of the same feels as Shadowfist.
It’s also very, very nasty with extortion, assassination, bribes, enslaving the indians, but with the caveat that an enemy one turn may be the only thing preventing another player from winning in another. So if you wanted an update of a game like GANGLAND (from 1996) this is what you’ve been waiting for, though without Lump Loafman and Clubber Clovis and those guys.
Lastly, the history you learn from this game is amazing. I had a class on Latin American history in college and the end of it was all about the Mexican Revolution, so I had to read 3-4 books on the subject and write a paper on it. I remembered just enough so when I saw this, I knew just enough to be able to grok what it was about. This game is PACKED with insane historical detail about the period in question and it’s really fun to read the flavor text on the cards while waiting for someone to finish their turn. The game just begs you to study the period further and even lists resources to do so at the back of the rulebook.
So do check out the game, MOUTH, since this whole post is for you and also Matt.
I found the video below and wanted to post it for those of you that may have an interest. Even though I was a little kid, I was definitely OFF normal superhero comics by the mid-80’s, especially the DC ones who seemed super cheesy next to the Xmen– that is until Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was amazing beyond compare. Note: generally people think Marvel got WORSE after Secret Wars, and DC got BETTER after Crisis and set shit straight that DC was and is better than Marvel. Out of that came a new Justice League comic that was pretty much one of the best –and certainly my favorite— comic runs in the history of (standard) superhero comics.
This series takes a bunch of second run heroes, many of which were acquired from other comic companies over the years, and mixes them up in some high-stakes trouble while following many of their domestic lives. The core series with the writers lasted for 60 issues and is collected in trades. Like Swamp Thing, Groo, the Claiborne Xmen and Byrne Fantastic Four, JLI is a must read series even today and has had a huge influence on the direction of DC. The also excellent and much more recent Mr. Miracle series is almost a sequel to this work.
All iphone games suck. This is a rule, it’s nearly 100% true with the amount of iphone games that are worth playing probably far less than .1%. Even ones that are great can get ruined by UI updates (Ascension) or simply aren’t updated and disappear from the phone due to Apple’s incessant software and hardware updates in order to plan obsolescence for all devices.
Every once in awhile there’s a great game and it’s nearly always pay once and play all you want with possibly some minor purchases for aesthetics, free to play games ALWAYS suck.
And yet, BULLET HELL MONDAY breaks BOTH rules listed above and is a game in a genre that I never thought possible to satisfactorily implement on a touch screen: SHMUP/bullet hell!
I got this on a whim a week before Gencon and I was instantly fucking addicted. The controls are awesome, the music is top notch and the visuals are just perfect. It seems easy, you play, then there’s a difficulty spike and you have to get gud, rinse, repeat.
While the game has level ups for your ships, and I thought this was pretty lame at first, you get quickly to the point where everything is leveled up and you don’t need to mess around with that mechanic unless you buy a new ship, which costs actual cash money. I’ve purchased one (the missile ship as it reminded me most of Crimzon Clover: World Ignition) and it was well worth the $ price tag.
Here’s a couple vids. If you like this genre you will likely fall in love with this game immediately (and there’s a sequel pending soon too). If you just want a pick up and play shooter, this is also a must buy.
This con went FAST, which usually means we were having fun or we were drunk or a mix of both.
We got in our Shadowfist draft after many years, which I will detail in another post on it’s own, Matt and I played in the Keyforge sealed tournament, we played a lot of ROOT, some Runequest and Mutant Crawl Classics.
This was damn fun and the people were great. It’s hard to be a complete pysse-ant when your decks are randomized and no one knows what they are going to get. My deck was absolute shit, and since I’m a n00b player, I didn’t do well. Really, I can blame the deck on this one for sure which is how the cookie crumbles. Fun game, cool expansion and really cheap buy in with the core set and two random decks. And they had a fuckn vending machine for decks.
One thing to remember is that you can MULLIGAN if you don’t like your first draw.
Mutant Crawl Classics
MCC/DCC: you can be nearly certain that you’re going to get a good GM, a good CON adventure and a romping good time when you sign up for one of these games, and we did. The scenario took place on the Metamorphosis Alpha mothership and involved our (funnel) characters being ejected from our home area to the “death zone.” A bunch of us got robot parts (my pure strain human got a robot head!), we defeated some mutant cyborg hippo and then had all but two of the 18 characters wiped out by someone failing to learn to use a grenade properly while we stood on a ledge with no railing (I had gone off to piss when this happened, so I can’t be blamed!!). Only my manimal Squirrel with her bubble helmet survived. Looking forward to more of this one once Matt fires it the fuck up!
This is the Chaosium RQ and not RQ6, so heavy Glorantha throughout. It was the second time I’ve played and it was OK, the combat system is not on the same level for easy of play and intensity as Mythras (RQ6) at all, but Glorantha can be interesting. I’ve had RQ GM’s that have shown up with just a piece of scratch paper, some pregens and dice and it was fantastic, but this wasn’t one of those, it was just OK and for four hours of your con, that’s tough.
We played two games, one 4 player and one massive 7-player game at the Hyatt. Both Patrick Leder and his ops manager came by to say hi during the (5 hour?) game which was awesome. The 7-player game is absolutely insane and some factions just don’t stand much of a chance (i.e.: the area control ones). While the vagabond didn’t win, it was the Lizards at 29, Vagabond (Ranger) at 26 and the Otters at 30 in the end FTW, which should tell you a bit about how the game went. The Cats and the Birds had to simultaneously chase the vagabonds around, destroy sympathy as well as trading posts while at the same time trying to score a few points here at there. While certainly a bit unbalanced for the area control factions, 10/10, would play 7 player yet again.
Other stuff I saw
Other than gaming, I did a share of wandering around the dealer hall and the various areas.
DUNE is really coming out, and soon! GF9 really got on the horse and produced the game quickly–I figured based on the past that they would take long into 2020 to get the game out but, nope, it’s out next month. The new set looks good and I am very interested in the rules changes. I do think the leader pieces are too small, but the art is good and the map and box both look beautiful. We will be able to play this again rather than our 1980 copies sitting in the safest shelf possible in our houses only to be brought out every few years!
Having the board game ‘check out’ be a ticketed event SUCKS, it’s much better at Gary and Gamehole con where you just walk up, give your drivers license and play whatever.
Pathfinder 2nd edition was a big release during the con and again, like 2008 or so, they had MASSIVE stacks of books. It’s got to be tough when you build a direct clone of an older game and then do a second edition of that clone.
Harassment signs. I’ve been going to GENCON every year since 1993 or so and I think it is the most accepting convention for ALL types of people, freaks, deviants, nerds, etc. one can imagine. It just goes without saying that it’s completely unacceptable for people to be mean to the weird or normal alike, so I’m not sure why these signs are necessary to put up on every single door in the entire convention center. Do they really mean ONLINE harassment?
The Gencon App was really helpful– and saved a lot of paper with those big con books with their (outdated) event lists. Get it for sure if you go.
BIRDS and LIMES. This was a fantastic addition to the Con. We had one incident where Matt parked the car and JP forgot his badge, and instead of having to walk 45 minutes to the car and back, we tossed a few bucks at the BIRDS and it was really and excuse to ride a motor scooter for 15 minutes total! In Milwaukee, everyone had to have helmets and ride on the road and stuff, which is fine. However, in Indy you can ride all over the place, no helmets no nothing. I would only say people SHOULD have to ride with a helmet, but then be able to go all over, on sidewalks, whatever. Sure there will be drunken accidents and all that, but no different than people riding a bike around.
Gencon Auction! I hadn’t been in this thing for years and it was great. I may spend most of a day in there one of these cons. So much shit for cheap and the consignment store had some ridiculous deals.
Triumphant Entrance Man. We saw him again at an MTG booth looking and triumphant as ever (and lost some weight as well) and took some pics.
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.
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.
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.
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.