Barnestorming #20- Quarriors! in Review, Dragon*Con, Dugga Dugga Dugga

Barnestorming #20- Quarriors! in Review, Dragon*Con, Dugga Dugga Dugga Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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quarriorsQuarriiiiiiiiiors! Come out and Barnestorming #20!

At Dragon* Con

River and I actually made it out to Dragon*Con ’11, we totally didn’t expect to what with a wife recovering and a new baby at home. Read all about it in my annual Dragon*Con Postmortem, this time at NoHS since I wasn’t there on official Gameshark business this time. In other words, I didn’t have a free press badge. But never fear, I go after fat people and bottom-of-the-barrel celebs just the same.

 

On the Table

Weirdly, I didn’t see a single copy of Quarriors! anywhere at the con. Not for sale, not being played, not sitting in pile of somebody’s games, not in the games library. It’s as if the game didn’t exist. Weird after its big splash at Gen Con.

I like Quarriors!, I really do…I even was trying to come up with a gambling variant, until I realized I was just making Colossal Arena: The Dice Game. It’s a smart little design, but it’s almost too ephemeral for its own good. For an ultra-casual game to enjoy with anyone, it totally gets the job done. But it does feel like there could be a little more to it including some kind of way to raise the stakes and increase drama. But still, positive review on Quarriors! at Gameshark.com as usual.

But then, there’s King of Tokyo, which more or less flattened Quarriors! for me. More on that later.

I’m really digging Dragon Rage. It’s one of those good old school games, the kind they don’t make any more. It’s got that simulation-y edge…back in those days, designers had to actually make rules and gameplay concepts reflective of theme. Now, they just slap flavor text and a picture on a numbered card and it’s somehow “thematic”.

Hoping that a friend of mine can stop over this week sometime and play Josh Look’s copy of Awful Green Things that he foolishly sold me. Haven’t played it in a long time.

 

On the Consoles

Space Marine is awesome- if you like 40K. If you don’t, then it’s still a highly polished, well-made third person shooter that suffers from linearity and asingle-minded focus on tons of shooting and brawling. Relic once again shows that they know how to do 40K right, and if you aren’t thrilled to pieces with the prospect of laying into a horde of onrushing Orks with a Heavy Bolter…I don’t know what to tell you other than you’ve got your priorities all screwed up. I’m reviewing it for NoHS next week. Stay tuned…there might be a giveaway over there…

 

I reviewed the XBLA co-op dungeoncrawler Crimson Alliance on Gameshark this week as well. It’s pretty good, but there are some strange design choices centering around incentives (i.e. looting, grinding, and XP) and I do not like coming across a chest that offers to sell me more in-game gold than I’ve made playing through the entire game for a couple of Microsoft Fantasy Dollars (alias Real Money).

 

On the Phone

The old Glorantha PC game King of Dragon Pass hit the app store last night, even though it was $10 I downloaded it. I’m glad I did. This is such a unique, interesting game. It’s unlike any other civ or RPG out there. Almost all of the usual “game” parts aren’t there, and it’s all frontended with a very detailed, very specific narrative with many, many decision points that may come back to haunt you later. You might choose to wipe out the duck-people, but who knows what that may precipitate. It’s a dense, complex game but it totally works on IOS since it’s all menu driven. Tons of hand-drawn art, lots of decent writing…could be one of the best IOS titles of the year.

 

On the Screen

Being in charge of Scarlett’s late (late) night feedings, I’m doing what I did with River and finding a show to watch while doing. I considered a couple of things, but I wound up finally watching a couple of modern Doctor Who episodes. I went with two that I saw are widely regarded as the best- “The Girl in the Fireplace” and “Blink”.

 

Both were outstanding pieces of genre television- smart, witty, very well written in terms of character and situation, and in the case of “Blink” actually pretty damn scary. “Blink was a very nice piece of British Horror with a creepy premise- ancient entities that take on the shape of statues that move when you’re not looking. Some very, very nice pieces of horror in there. Better than most recent horror films.

The other show was great too- good, high-minded science fiction with a great concept. The clockwork drones were weird and had a great motivation, and the Doctor’s relationship with Madame Pompadour was surprisingly well-nourished given the 45 minute length of the show. Bittersweet, sad, and full of wonder.

The problem is that I’ve come in on the top, if the other shows are all downhill from here I’ll be disappointed. I’m halfway through “The Waters of Mars” now, it’s pretty good but not as good as the others. I also watched the “Rise of the Cybermen” two parter, it was sort of pedestrian, more typical Doctor Who stuff. Not bad, but I thought it was pretty unremarkable other than the coolness of the Cybermen.

I’m really interested in seeing Drive. Nicholas Winding Refn is a director to watch. Bronson and Valhalla Rising were both fantastic.

 

On Spotify

Completed my tour of the Wire catalog this week. It was interesting working backwards. It’s really stunning how well their 2002-2011 work holds up even to “Pink Flag” and “154”. The “Object 47” LP was great, I had not heard it…it has one of Colin Newman’s best choruses ever- “One of us will live to rue the day we met each other”. Very catchy.

As a result of my Wire exploration, I’ve had “The Drill” stuck in my head for days. “Drill drill drill, dugga dugga dugga”.

It looks like I’m hitting Can next. They’re another ridiculously important, daring band with a triumvirate of smashing masterpieces (“Tago Mago”, “Ege Bamyasi”, and “Future Days”), but I’ve not ventured too far outside of those records aside from “Monster Movie” and “Delay 1968”. On that last one, if you’re a Radiohead fan, listen to the track “Thief”. That song is 90% of what Radiohead has ever done. I’m really looking forward to hearing “Soon Over Babaluma” and their unexpected reunion with original vocalist Malcom Mooney in the ‘80s.

I’ll likely stop off to take a listen to The Fall’s classic track “I Am Damo Suzuki” before I head out to Can-land. Which is, like, now.

Barnestorming #20- Quarriors! in Review, Dragon*Con, Dugga Dugga Dugga There Will Be Games
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