Pax Porfirana guey!

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.

actual quote from President Diaz

Great SHMUP for the Iphone!?

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.

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.

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.

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.