Twitter nonsense

Almost a year ago, I posted a tweet in response to a question from a game designer I follow who asked about why a good percentage of doctors didn’t get vaccinated. Fair question and I answered in conjecture: 1) because they’ve already had covid and 2) since the emergency status of the vaccine removes all liability from the administrator/manufacturer, there’s no legal recourse if you are injured, which my friend found out about when he got severe bursitis in his shoulder after the technician fucked up his shot. My account was locked within an hour and to unlock it I had to give my cell phone number to get it back, for reasons you can imagine. I just ignored the platform and moved on.

About a month ago, I could not find where I bought a TITAN t-shirt from and remembered I followed an account that sold them on Twitter, tried to log in, still couldn’t: even to see a list of who I followed! Since it took a couple clicks, I put in an appeal and got a response to remove the offensive tweet. What is it? Give phone number? Remove the tweet? I just ignored it until I got this today:

It’s possible this is just standard procedure for naughty “people” like me that talk about the vaccines in any way but rah rah yay and get caught by an algorithm: ban them until they give a phone number/appeal. Or it could be that they are changing because Musk may buy the company (it’s not final and may not even go through). Both scenarios are possible, but I would like to think that it’s this lawsuit from an ex NYT reporter that was banned from the platform for stating what is now completely obvious— the mRNA vaccines have a very short lifespan of efficacy compared to what we have come to expect from say, the measles, mumps, etc. and should be considered a therapeutic. I think this lawsuit is going to pop open exactly what the algorithms are doing and what the staff have been up to this whole time but most importantly, who is funding it.

From the very beginning, Twitter struggled with finding a solid revenue stream. I remember when the founders basically said ‘we have all these people, but haven’t found a way to make revenue yet.” Fair enough, but what that does is open one up for taking money in bad faith from very bad people just to keep the lights on and stockholders (Blackrock and Vanguard mostly) happy. When the financial opportunities to get big checks from Pfizer (like the rest of the media did) came to Twitter, I think they took it hook line and sinker and were obliged to modify their algorithms to fit what that funding source wanted most: no negative talk about the vax no matter what it did to the integrity of the platform or the reputation of it’s degenerate staff. This isn’t a right or left wing thing, this is a corporate shell game where a company pays to have platforms help them pass the dirty information down the road, they can rape mass profits NOW and worry about the heat later. Seeing as it’s come out now via Pfizer’s forced data dump that massive amounts of the vaccine trial data collection methods and participants were not just botched, but actively fraudulent.

When those two vaccine approval guys quit the FDA in disgust, that was the alarm bell that shit was totally fucked and it should have been all over the place, but did you see it? How is that possible if you didn’t?

I loath to post stuff like this, but it illustrates one thing about the advantage of the blogisphere compared to any corporatized social media (including Substack): bloggers can post anything we want about any topic we want.

Velocicoaster FTW

Silly name, and I had to wait for over an hour to get on (including 15 minutes of technical difficulties) once but holy shit, this was the craziest fucking rollercoaster I have ever been even near, let alone on. Afterward, I was still in a daze for 10 or so minutes. I followed the directions and pressed my head against the headrest during turns so didn’t have a sore neck.

While the first part of the ride is incredible, the money shot is near the end where you slow down to about 40 MPH and hit a tunnel that accelerates you in about 2 seconds to 70 MPH while on the flat then it shoots you up into a loop that inverts at the top (so you go up it upside-down and go down the outside right-side up), then flips you over for an extended hang and after a couple of turns, fires you into a spiral over water. Highly recommended.

Ancient DOTA 2 Highlight Reels

Back in 2012 and 2013 I played a lot of DOTA with the gang. Great game, but man the last hit farming click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click before you get to the good stuff was just super annoying. Eventually the clicking started to bother my shoulder area something fierce and I threw in the towel on the game. No doubt, this is almost a better game than the game that spawned it (Warcraft 3), note I said ALMOST.

Anyway, if you have the patience, you might see yourself in the following. I was not a good video creator at this time with sound levels, etc, but stuff for the archives. Though I uploaded all of these to youtube, I was too embarrassed to actually share them.

Taking on the HEAVY Eklund

My tastes have changed in boardgames since I started playing Root and exploring it’s influences (Pax and COIN among others). The games of a certain cloud of designers that have, for me at least, put the last nail in the coffin for the tired, samey design by the numbers point salad games or games pretending to be one thing, but are actually another because of big Ameritrash pieces (i.e.:Scythe). When you head down the Root rabbit hole and try to piece that game together from it’s origins, there’s a list designers that are huge parts of the puzzle along with Cole Wherle: Volko Ruhnke, the Hollanspeil guys, and of course, Matt and Phil Ecklund (and their team).

On that line, I’ve been doing some board game trading and selling, trying to both ditch some of the dreck and pair down the PHYSICAL size of games I have. I picked up Bios Megafauna, Bios Origins, Bios Genesis, Greenland, High Frontier and Neanderthal recently, which all have a fairly high complexity level, but tiny little boxes. I can fit nearly ALL of those games in the same space as Rising Sun or any CMON game, let alone the giant coffin box of Starcraft or Twilight Imperium.

While I’ve bought into these games heavily, they are challenging to learn and as should be required of anything that isn’t just for show (and I definitely have games that are just for show), they need to hit the table.

The key to Matt and Phil Eklund’s success as designers is taking highly complex ideas and chaotic events and putting them into a extremely playable games for their subject matter where, (amazingly) all of these pieces and parts of mechanics interact with each other in crazy ways. Think Pax Porfiriana is just a tiny engine builder with a bunch of fuck you cards? Play it again and you notice that you are working to control 4 different factions that are struggling against each other during the game as an undercurrent to the conflict between the players. It’s a wow moment. It’s also a wow moment how EASY the game is to play once you know how. Pax Renaissance is a real beast to learn, but essentially the same thing: small box, HUGE game, easy to play once you know how (except for remembering how each of the wars/revolts work which is hard).

Let’s talk about these Pax badboys a bit. The core thing with a ‘hard to learn’ game is that you need to know before you go into it that you will like it and the effort will be worth it. Not only that, you have to expect that your friends will like it also, at least to give it a shot. People actually play Advanced Squad Leader a lot. It’s ridiculously complex, but there’s a reason for it’s continued existence in published form: it’s very good. When you are dealing with an Eklund game, especially a 2nd edition version, you can be sure it’s going to have extreme value as a game and that the complexity level and steep learning curves leads to rewards in play. If you can explain it well, your friends with a little patience will like these games. Here’s a run down of those that I’ve played, a few that I’ve learned and have yet to play and a couple that I haven’t cracked yet.

While these are all complex, there are some mechanic similarities that make it easier to learn the others when you’ve learned one. The most important is the way they handle card draws. It’s a bit between random draws (like a Tom Wham game) and totally non random (any euro) in that you can see cards coming down a conveyor before they fall off and out of the game, or in the case of events, take place. Almost all of these games have some sort of market, whether it’s for parts of a space ship, mutations or stone age tools.

Greenland

We’ve only played this 4-5 times now, and it took me quite awhile to learn in order to teach it in a reasonable amount of time; that is, to not annoy players with too much explanation before we started playing.

You play as one of the tribes in competition during the beginning of a big chill on Greenland that left only the invading Thule alive historically– the original Greenland natives (the Norse) fled or died out. You hunt for trophies, food, energy and have to manage your tribe elders that give you special powers. It all seems very complex at first, but once you get over the hump, like all the Eklund’s I’ve experienced, it’s surprisingly playable. Elder actions are the most complex part of the game, so if you are going to study the rulebook, that’s the section to get to. Players are only managing four resources (people, ivory, iron and energy) and you don’t build much of an engine, hence management of these is not complex. If you are going to teach the game, you can start with that as the base.

This game so obviously inspired Sons of Anarchy that SoA is almost a retheme, but unlike Sons of Anarchy, where the opportunities for crime and control increase as the game goes on as you draw tiles, Greenland can get colder and much more difficult to succeed in hunting, building things and surviving as you go, even though you may have tech-ed up a bit or sabine-raided (exogamy) to gain the cultural powers of another tribe.

This is one that I highly recommend pushing through and learning as your first Ecklund game. It is actually quite easy to play and obvious to players what you are trying to do and how to win. It is only a bit more complex than Sons of Anarchy. It is one of Ecklund’s games without a map, and I find those to be a bit better than those with a map to deal with so far. Like Porfiriana, the set up time is very quick and you can get right to the action. This is also a dice-chucker which I really love.

Bios Megafauna

Holy shit. This is an unbelievably ambitions game with a relatively tiny box for what’s in there. You play as a species that has just crawled out of the ocean onto land and start to mutate, speciate and populate (like it says on the box). What it doesn’t tell you is that this is also a planetary weather, tectonic and exogenesis simulator at the same time. I noticed this from the side of the box: “Fight the Medean entropy.” The game also includes an NPC ‘villain’ which represents single celled organisms that wish the earth to return to the paradise before multicellular life (which is one of the theories around the Permian-Triassic extinction event).

What does this all mean? Not only do you deal with your species vs others, but systems in the game change game state constantly as well, with continents smashing into each other, asteroids hitting, winds shifting and oceans filling with plankton– oh tasty plankton.

Compared to Greenland, this is a challenging game to learn. I think I understand most of it, but 1/3rd of the rulebook is explaining the crazy special events that happen and I don’t fully get the mutation and speciation rules, especially emotions (which I think are just Up the Creek / Chaos Marauder type card sets that link to each other).

I think with some work, even kids could play it as long as someone really knew the rules. Even if this comes out once a year only, it will be worth having (like Republic of Rome) and does not take up a lot of space.

As an aside, Megafauna has the ‘controversial’ essay on global warming from Ecklund. As someone who despises the overuse of plastics, that we still have gas-fueled cars and that we do not have a far more robust nuclear power program to solve ALL energy needs in the first world, I was wary at first, but the essay is thought provoking and not what you think it is. Since ‘settled science’ is not actually science, almost all of the heat this essay gets by keyboard warriors can be completely ignored, since most are of the propagandized ‘if you don’t agree fully that global warming is caused entirely by humans carbon emissions, there’s something wrong with you’ knuckle draggers. While Eklund takes some serious jabs at the media and government (anyone remember the War on Drugs? How about the War on Terror? War on Covid? Are there some similarities here? oh yes) on their stance on global warming, the core of the essay is his belief that it is not only carbon that causes global warming– there are other factors in play, such as sun spot activity, passing through various parts of the Milky way galaxy and the not-so-subtle fact that the planet had a jungle climate from pole to pole for millions of years at one point. Like any good teacher or essay, Eklund’s presentation prompts one to think and study on their own, especially if they disagree with it. What’s more, in Bios Megafauna, one of the end states of the game is greenhouse overrun, so Ecklund is not saying that it isn’t a danger! Anyway, ignore all the idiots that haven’t read the essay that criticize it in general to virtue signal or white knight on BGG, rather than attacking the details, they are drones or followers. You will read people attacking the details of the essay here and there, but they refrain from the ad hominem nonsense. Also of note is that these BGG minnows got Ecklund banned from the site.

Neanderthal

This game looks a lot like Greenland and shares some of it’s dice/hunting mechanics. Why have or play both? Neanderthal’s scale is likely the answer. In the game you play as one of three predatory ‘apes’ that have just acquired basic language. You have to grow the species until the have enough language skills to become a tribal culture. Each turn represents 40 generations of your species. Like Greenland, the focus is on hunting and acquiring ‘daughters’ that linguistically advance your species.

I haven’t gotten this one to the table, and frankly it will be a long time I think due to already getting players comfortable with Greenland. However, I think this one will be the game I bust out with my kids to help them understand the concepts around the origin of species. I love the fact that if you hunt a biome and there are predators adjacent they will move to that biome and fuck your hunters up!

Bios: Genesis

Bios Genesis is one I still have to learn and it’s been quite a challenge so far. I cannot imagine anyone taking on a topic like this, and frankly I have no idea how a game like this got made and that the designer was able to focus on just this topic enough to build all these engines that work together. The attention to detail and graphic design is impressive. Fundamentally you are a set of protein chains that are seeking out refugia (places that are amiable to the creation of life) and trying to survive and become multicellular, and then get BIG. This is complicated by other players, naturally, but mostly from an absolutely brutal event deck with heating and cooling, radiation surges, cancer, volcanic eruptions, on and on. If you can get through the rules, this is supposed to be a fantastic game.

Bios: Origins

This is Ecklund’s answer to the Civ game genre. The twist here is that you lead a species of predatory apes advancing through very early technology and migration as the species and not as some divine leader or autocrat. I’ve learned this one but haven’t played it yet. This seems like a beast but there are some recognizable parts from other games that are buoys in the storm, like an easily understood market, a set of slots for potential cities that doubles as a score track and of course, a crazy map where both the edges of the hexes and the insides of the hexes are important all at once. I need to get this to the table.

Pax Transhumanity

We have now played this enough for me to be able to write a review of it. This is a near-future business simulation game where you play as entrepreneurs and try to make the most out of rapidly advancing technology to solve core issues that humans in general deal with (like hunger, which if you are reading this, you probably have never experienced, but right now, many people are), and pollution.

This is challenging to learn and not something that will hit the table a ton, but it’s a solid game and very interesting to play once you get the hang of it.

High Frontier

This is the holy grail of Ecklund’s designs and what appears to be his most complicated game. You are a corporation trying to get into space and exploit resources in the solar system– and you do this by building your rockets in order to make the trips you want to make and carry the things you need to carry. Think Merchant of Venus but you have to get your ship outfitted first with technology your species doesn’t possess yet.

All bow to the map for this one:

If you are looking for help learning any of these games, look no further than this fine Wisconsin lad (here explaining Matt Ecklund’s Pax Transhumanity).

Gencon 2022 – Covid Shitshow: Year 2

In order to attend Gencon both vaccinations (a ‘full course’ whatever that means, especially if people got the J&J or Astrazeneca (Europe’s vax)) and masks are required for attendance, making Gencon the least appealing convention to go to. In contrast, most Conventions require a negative PCR test for either unvaxxed, or the smart ones, for ALL attendees 72 hours before the convention. This is the Way.

Let’s break it down

“They can either be manufactured or homemade and should consist of a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.”

Scott Gottleib just dropped what people have known and stated since the beginning of the pandemic (especially in the beginning) that cloth masks do not work at all vs Covid or any airborne virus. So, the masks that are required are? Surgical with the open sides since they are made to stop stuff from dropping into a patient during surgery? N-19? Good luck getting enough for even 1/3rd of the convention staff let alone guests. Respirators? You going to spend 50$ or more on one of these? The last one may be the only one that actually works. None of what they listed above does anything at all for viruses.

Since most people touch, move and never change their mask during the day what you have in reality is a bacteria filled sack hanging off your face all day, breathing that at other people that are breathing in and out the same thing, all the while pulling them down to eat candy bars and drink mountain dew which completely negates the point of someone wearing a mask vs an aerosolized virus in the first place! In 2020 I can see people still thinking these had some effect, but with multiple studies and massive (and I mean massive) real life examples of masks doing absolutely nothing, this is the height of stupidity to require. Shit show.

Vax
These mRNA therapeutics they are calling vaccines have saved many lives in high risk groups, but swing into the negative risk profile under 40 quickly where the vax is more dangerous than covid, especially the milder Omicron. Gencon has many, many people in high risk groups attending, elderly, morbidly obese, people with heart and lung issues, diabetes, on and on. It’s important that these people get the vaccines or better yet, stay home until they have had Covid, but for everyone else, especially people that have had the disease? It’s preposterous.

These vaccines do not and were not designed to prevent spread like our government falsely advertised last Spring with Biden, lying to the entire population of our country, stating “If you get the vaccine, you can’t get Covid” bullshit. So why would they be mandated for anyone for attendance to anything? Zero logical reasons. What’s more, any immunity that might prevent spread (not just protection for yourself) comes only from prior infection since those folks have mucosal, t-cell and if they got it bad enough to have symptoms, antibody levels of their immune system. mRNA Vax people are walking around with only a spike protein part of the virus in comparison and that has proven to not stop infection or spread in the least. Shit Show.

Seasonality
Summer is not the time of Covid and the case counts and illness nearly disappears from late April to early October in our hemisphere. This is known. Why it happens this way is likely a ton of factors, but Gencon being in July or August is during the most safe Covid months of the year. There won’t be any Covid around to get, even for those who have never had it, which by Summer will be a very small number.

Gencon is not doing it’s staff, it’s visitors or it’s future prospects making it’s convention an uncomfortable event with precautions that have been proven to not be effective in the least. It’s not more safe in any way.

What is the answer? As opposed as I am to the plague of testing that is taking place for people that are not sick, the answer to Gencon’s Covid problem is simply the requirement of a negative Covid test 72 hours before the convention for EVERYONE regardless of ‘vaccination status’ whatever that now means to people and there’s no need for the pretend masks unless people choose to wear them, which people will do if they want anyway.

It pains me to see how idiotic this all is in the face of what we know now about this virus, the very short term efficacy of the mRNA vaccines, it’s age stratification and method of spread and the fact that with their current requirements, it is putting their guests at more risk pretending these things work. Sad and, a shit show.

2021 -EoY Favorite Comic: SPACE BASTARDS

After about 9 months of slowly collecting and reading the Invincible series, I was looking around for something GOOD in the comic store. There are tons of excellent comics tucked away between all the endless trash that comes out every month, but you have to search for them. While amazing art abounds, good or even passable writing is VERY hard to find in comics these days. I was looking for issues of the GODDAMNED (a story about Cain pre-flood that was pretty solid in the beginning) and came upon SPACE BASTARDS.

Space Bastards is a multi-writer, multi-artist affair and usually I hate those types of titles, the lack of a consistent artist to me is usually super annoying (BPRD and SUPREME by Image comics are good examples of this). However, Space Bastards has good artists, not all of them I like or I think are fit for the material, but there are a few that just NAIL it, like the esteemed Simon Bisley. I gave it a shot and the first issue I read was #6 and it had a part that I laughed out loud at– read again and laughed again. That has happened so rarely in most comics (with the exception of Groo!) that I can count the incidents on one hand. The story is a biopic about Chuck “Magic” Wagon and how his alcohol fueled rampages lead him to join the Intergalactic Postal Service; which is what the overall story is about. This particular comic goes completely off the rails as Chuck Wagon spirals into drug induced madness from which he never recovers. If you only read one issue, this is it.

Later issues concern the meta-plots more and having jumped in mid-series, I’m not super sure what’s going on, but that’s half the fun. Number 8 starts with an incredibly long rant/speech by one of the characters which is normally something comic readers can rarely abide, but this shit is psychotic and sociopathic GOLD. Not only are the characters violently insane for the most part, they are manipulative, capricious and none of them trust each other. While this is no League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with it’s both subtle and overt betrayals, it’s extremely compelling to just not know what the hell some of the characters are going to do and say at any given moment as they are prone to bouts of complete madness and mental breakdown. Recommended.

Chooo CHOOO MFKRS!

Great minds think alike right? My brother and I both (separately) got one of Tom Russel’s choo choo games– Iberian and Irish Gauge respectively. We got to play one of them this weekend and it was GOOOD.

The design goal of these games was to boil down the essence of the huge 18XX genre into a playable, short game that is just a bit more complex that Ticket to Ride, but VASTLY more fun and engaging for the more serious gamer. These games have a synthesis of very basic mechanics that are greater than the sum of their parts strategically. The essence of 18XX is buying stock in train companies, influencing where they place their rails to deliver goods and bring you (the owner of stocks across multiple train companies) the most MONEY.

Irish (2014) and especially Iberian Gauge (2017) are so stripped down they reminded me of two of my favorite abstracts: Sid Sackson’s Acquire and Knizia’s Tigris and Euphrates– both NASTY games that both hide a crazy amount of chaos with their venires of abstraction.

In both games, you start by buying into companies and then proceed to lay track and attempt to connect up cities and towns. In Iberian, the connection is enough to pay out dividends, but in Irish, players have to deliver goods (abstractly) to various cities and towns in order to get a payout. The trick comes due to the fact that companies will be owned by multiple or even ALL the players in the game and it’s all about trying to out score your opponents by trashing some companies and pumping others.

If you are interested in the most recent ‘engines’ to these games, I would check out Iberian for a more streamlined experience, or Irish for a bit of a meatier run at it. Also definitely look at Hollandspiele’s Dual Gauge system— also by Tom Russel. They also publish a lot of other cool stuff.

New Marvel RPG in the Works

This is a bit OFN, but the original teaser was so sparse I was waiting for more information before posting anything, but it looks like it’s all still under the covers except for the press release. First off, this looks like it will be heavily influenced by FASERIP, using it’s own acronym for stats (M.A.R.V.E.L. – Might, Agility, Resilience, Vigilance, Ego, and Logic) which is good because FASERIP has influenced nearly all Supers RPG’s since it’s release. The system it’s using is new, called D616?

When we pulled the first Marvel RPG out of the shrinkwrap and realized you couldn’t create characters, it was a bummer, especially after having played Champions for quite some time where frankly creating characters is the best part of the game. They ain’t messing around with this new one, you will be able to create characters right away, they’ve made that abundantly clear (see the image below). After reading Invincible, there’s no reason NOT to start from scratch completely rather than be bound tight in the hidebound MCU.

Lastly, you can buy the “Playtest Packet” for 10$ off Amazon here (not out until March 2022 though).