Barnestorming #000013- Re-Reading Knizia's LOTR, GOME, Santa Claus

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Barnestorming #000013- Re-Reading Knizia's LOTR, GOME, Santa Claus
There Will Be Games

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 Better than War of the Ring? Yep.


OK, everybody EXCEPT EUROPE-ONLY PEOPLE should have a target. Like most Americans, I forgot about Europe. I’ll get those lined up today or tomorrow, time permitting. Check your F:AT inboxes.

On the Table

Other than X-Wing, the only game I really want to play right now is Lord of the Rings, the Knizia one. The one that some of you folks can’t discuss without references to aberrant sex practices, the Friendship cards, or both. I think it’s a masterpiece, and after playing it off and on for over a decade I think it’s one of the master designs in the medium. So with the current uptick in Tolkien activity- The Hobbit, Guardians of Middle-Earth (see below), and the Tolkien family suing a bunch of license holders, the time seemed right to re-read the game.

Not really playing a whole lot over the past couple of weeks. Still waiting for a Mice & Mystics review copy, haven’t heard back from a couple of requests. So phhhht. I ain’t buying games anymore unless it’s a sure thing. No more buying games because I feel like I somehow need to review them.

On the Consoles

Ten hours or so into the celebrated Xenoblade Chronicles and I’m tired of it. I really don’t get what the fuss was about. It’s a competent JRPG with a couple of more Western ideas thrown in…Western ideas that I don’t really like, such as endless sidequests and convoluted “crafting. I dunno. Maybe it gets better.

What I am really into right now is Guardians of Middle-Earth, a console MOBA that came out this week. I’ve stayed away from MOBAs for a variety of reasons, but I did like Awesomenauts. This one got good reviews so I tried the demo, and was immediately hooked. There’s tons of depth, lots to explore, and the gameplay is more or less direct control RTS with all of the stupid, repetitive parts taken out. The game cranks out cannon fodder, you bunch up with them or other players and take down defenses. Tons of abilities, skills, items, and so forth…I think there’s 20 characters. It’s weird fighting as Haldir alongside Sauron, but there it is. The only downside right now is that it’s taking too long to get into laggy matches, hopefully that will clear up.

Got a hankering to play Lego Batman 2 the other day. Thank you Gamefly for selling it to me for $4.87 after a $5 coupon.



Anybody try Kingdom Builder?


On the Comics Rack

The new Hickman Avengers book looks pretty promising, as far as the mainest of the mainstream superhero books go. It’s written for folks just getting into the book from the movies, and that sort of pays off in its favor even though it ends with pretty much 85% of the Marvel Universe slated as possible Avengers. Cool story beginning and impeccable artwork from Opena. Feels very Morrison JLA, but clearer and without effing Howard Porter.

The new IDW Judge Dredd book is pretty good- they captured that cool thing from the original stories where it’s very much about the goofy culture and lifestyle of Mega City. Good art, too. Not Ezquerra or Bolland good, but good nonetheless.

Finally finished Planet Hulk. Just a good, fun sword and planet story. Pretty solid throughout, although it feels like it wraps up a little too quickly.

Started reading X-Force/X-Statix. Dunno about this one. It’s a little too cute for its own good. The faux-Lichtenstein Allred art is cool, but after five issues I’m tired of heroes bickering.

Marshal Law, which was awesome. Savage, brutal satire. The O’Neil artwork is brilliant

Top 10, terrible. Second and last chance on that one.

Fall of Cthulhu was also ass, not sure why I thought it wouldn’t be.

Picked up Revival, an Image horror book…it has big potential. It’s about a small town where people can’t stay dead. Not as zombies. What happens is actually kind of more horrifying at least in the first book. Very compelling, looking forward to more.

Read the second Uncanny X-Force (Remender) trade. It was OK, not as good as the first one. Man, I don’t like Deadpool.

Two issues of Stray Bullets…seems fairly interesting.

On deck this week- Born Again, since I haven’t read it in years…Colder, another interesting-looking horror title…thinking about getting back into Animal Man and Mieville’s Dial H. Maybe Hellboy in Hell and/or Prison Pit.

On the Screen

River is watching the hell out of Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, which is fine by me. Best Christmas TV special EVER.

On Netflix, I watched the most upsetting Christmas movie ever made. Rene Cardona’s Santa Claus. This picture is an absolute nightmare. It starts off with like this 20 minute long…thing…where representatives of all of the world’s children appear in native dress while Santa plays this organ. Then there’s the devil, who shows up to menace children and make them do bad things. You really should watch it. I keep watching it. I don’t know why, it has this weird, seedy, and kind of otherworldly atmosphere that’s quite unique. I think MST3K did some thing on it, if you need someone else to make the jokes for you.

On Spotify

Pretty much just Christmas stuff and The Ronettes…it’s really interesting, when you listen to The Ronettes, you’re hearing music that everybody from The Velvet Underground to the Ramones to The Jesus and Mary Chain were sometimes very specifically referencing.

There Will Be Games

Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes


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

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