Barnestorming #5872- Fun-First Design,

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Barnestorming #5872- Fun-First Design,
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On the Table



This one goes out to Dragonstout, who “misses” my old rambling “brainy britches” articles. This week, over at Cracked LCD’s NEW home at, I’m on about “fun-first” design and how that concept impacts games criticism and how we receive and experience designs. Blah blah blah, pretentious academe. I really haven’t written anything like it in a while.


Infiltration is holding up pretty well. It’s definitely a better four player game than a six player one, no doubt. It is one of those games though where just a couple of changes would have shifted it from very good to great.. I actually kind of wish that it were just a real-world heist game without the stupid, derivative SF stuff. But hey, Cyberpunk is back in vogue along with mechs this year, so who am I to complain.


Uncharted is actually pretty interesting. It’s like an odd cross between a light area control game, a CCG, and…Ascension. But it’s not deckbuilding. It’s more like tableaux building. It’s not really a board game as billed, it’s very much a card game. It seems like the “deathmatch” mode is the way to go, you fight other players rather than bad guy cards. More later, but it’s not terrible and may actually be pretty decent.


On the Consoles



Got the new Avengers Chronicles tables for FX2. The Avengers one and the FREAKING INFINITY GAUNTLET one are great. World War Hulk and Fear Itself…not so much.


I reviewed Inversion over at NHS, don’t bother reading it. It’s terrible. Don’t buy it. The fact that it’s been out for two weeks and there’s already price drops as low as $20 should tell you something.


I’ve actually been playing a lot of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown…I’ve never gotten into the VF games, but I’m digging this one.





Magic. Duh. Wanna play?


The funny thing is that I’m like totally burned out on all other IOS games…so this game is like a savior or something. Summoner Wars will probably feel like that too.


On Comixology



Screw it, this really should be its own section.


I splurged on the first volume of Walt Simonson’s Thor run, it was $20 for 300 pages of sheer awesome. I had never read them back in the ‘80s and always heard they were great. Boy howdy, did I miss out. They really are that good, some of the best superhero writing of that era. The Beta Ray Bill story was just fantastic. And I am completely head over heels in love with Simonson’s art. It’s _exquisitely_ great. It’s definitely Kirby-inspired, but it has a very specific early 1980s look to it that still feels really quite modern. I’m only halfway through it and my finger occasionally hovers over the buy button on volume 2.


Iron Man: Extremis sucked. I’m not a huge Warren Ellis fan, and I thought this book showed him at his self-indulgent worst. Look no further than the loony hippie that prattles on to Stark about those evil corporations and all of the soft-headed, new age drug talk. And that’s after the silly, trite and too long interview with a left-wing documentarian trying to call Stark out about the effects of his designs. It’s all very childish, facile “corporations and the government are real bad, man” talk. I didn’t like the story, and the whole Extremis thing took away from the coolness of Iron Man being a rich dude in a super suit. I didn’t like the art either. How did this book get good reviews?

Also terrible was Batman Incorporated…I read ten freaking books of that garbage. I really don’t even know what I read. It’s Morrison at his worst- uninspired and trying way to hard to be edgy with established characters. I can’t believe I even finished the almost incoherent issue that takes place almost completely in the “Internet 3.0”. A terrible book, don’t buy it..


And MORE sorry Batman! Legends of the Dark Knight 1&2…yeesh. You forget how terrible Bats can be in the wrong hands. In the first one- I’m going to spoil it here- a drunk Bruce Wayne bets Alfred a dollar that he doesn’t have any invulnerabilities. On patrol, he sees a scene just like when Joe Chill killed his folks. Surprise, he flips out. It turns out that it’s these three thugs that Alfred hired that kick his ass. Alfred appears from the darkness, pays the guys, and then takes a dollar out of Batman’s utility belt.


So to sum it up…Alfred must have told these thugs that Bruce Wayne was Batman and exposed his vulnerability to them. Then, for some reason, Batman was carrying a dollar in his belt. Why? So he could buy a soda? Tip a doorman? Or was that my dollar that this stupid fucking book stole from me?


On the Screen



So yeah, I figured out why John Carter failed other than that it didn’t include any indication that it’s a SF film in the title. It’s because the movie was terrible. A talentless, completely unlikeable lead, a long-winded and dull costume drama story, a confused tone, and ugly design work. It felt like watching a very rich person literally burning money in a barrel. This is exactly the opposite of what I meant when I talked about Avatar needing to be very accessible, familiar and simple. You don’t make a $250 milllion picture based on an esoteric, not very well known character with little or no current cultural relevance beyond influencing a bunch of people that made other movies and books. Sorry, but John Carter is hardly a hot commodity and this picture does absolutely nothing to convince an audience that they should care.


It was very clearly a vanity project that Andrew Stanton, who has absolutely zero ability to direct live actors or action it seems, was allowed to make based on the successes of Finding Nemo and Wall-E. He got away with it, and someone really should have put the brakes on the entire project because it shows the signs of a troubled, disjointed production, a lack of direction, and careless bloating. I really think that the only reason anyone likes this is because it's a competent, mostly faithful John Carter movie- not because it's a good movie. There's a "want" for this movie to be great. It simply isn't. It's typical big-budget Hollywood trash, just with a "cool" and unusual nerd property attached to it. Yeah, so what if they got Tars Tarkas and Woola "right". They got them right in a terrible movie filled with bad acting, bad writing,and bad filmmaking.


The script was unbelievably banal and uninteresting. The action felt just as lifeless and without impact as anything in the Star Wars prequels. The whole thing looked fake, overlit, and silly. The only memorable scene was when Carter was wiping out the Thark army single handedly- that _looked_ like the John Carter of my imagination. For a few seconds, it looked like Frazetta.


I really wish that this film had been made either in the 1930s or by Harryhausen in the 1950s (he had the rights at one point, I believe). At least there definitely won’t be a sequel.


On Spotify


Still no tape thing...haven't really wanted to listen to anything this week anyway.

There Will Be Games
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of and as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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