It's 3rd down and Barnestorming #26.
On the Table
That eternal, burning hatred I have for Fantasy Flight Games expresses itself again this week in my review for Blood Bowl: Team Manager, a high-level card game abstraction of Blood Bowl season play that I think is one of the best games of the Fall. It’s a fun, fast-paced, and hugely competitive design that really captures the spirit of Blood Bowl if not the turn-by-turn, player-by-player tactical miniatures gaming aspect of it. I’ve pretty much given up on ever getting to seriously play Blood Bowl proper again, so this game is a Khornesend for me. I’m also really impressed that it’s a complete design with no hooks or call-outs for expansion material. Hell, they give you two more teams than the four player cap, which is pretty impressive coming from the House that Expansions Built. The rulebook is even decent! Maybe Petersen and the gang are getting their act together- I'm glad to see that they've listened to criticism on some things.
Other than BB:TM, it’s been a slow boardgaming week. I’m about to set to learning Cave Evil, which I’m very excited about. It seems something like a cross between Titan, Heroes of Might and Magic, and Dig Dug. The rules are pretty complex, but last night I had that “aha” moment where they systematically clicked.
Another game of Fleet Captains, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. I think our very own Scissors put it best when he called the game “soupy” last week.
On the Consoles
Of course I’m playing Arkham City like everyone else. It is as good as you’ve heard, and it will likely be my GotY pick unless it just crashes and burns. It’s everything a AAA-class action adventure game should be…and it is TOTALLY Batman, floor to ceiling.
I’m also playing this game called Payday: The Heist on PSN for a review…it should be incredible because it’s a four player co-op based loosely around scenes like the bank robbery in Heat. But it’s very crude, unpolished, and the gameplay kind of sucks. But man, the concept is a million dollars. In the first mission, you and the three other guys put on latex gloves and clown masks and invade the bank. You can motion to civilians to get down and then ziptie their hands behind their backs so they don’t get up and run out. You’ve got to get in, wipe out any security guards, and get to the copy machine in which an industrial drill is hidden. Then you’ve got to mount this on the vault door and somebody else goes to put thermite on the floor above to burn through the ceiling to actually get inside. Then you’ve got to get out of the bank, with the cops throwing smoke grenades and just wailing on you.
But it just isn’t a very good game. So frustrating.
On the Phone
Rocketcat developed what are still my favorite IOS platformers- the Hook Champ/Super Quick Hook/Hook Worlds trilogy. All three are great. They’ve just come out with a new one, but this time it’s an SNES-style action RPG called Mage Gauntlet. It’s pretty great. The story is that your character is a girl that has this sort of anti-magic curse which baffles this wizard named Whitebeard. So he sends you out to see these other mages, and there’s a big bad guy on the way. Dumb stuff, but it plays extremely well and it looks awesome in a modern, retro style. I can’t put it down, and in fact I really want to explore this next area I’m in.
Miner 2049er has hit the app store. But don’t bother. It sucks and the control is terrible.
And then there’s King Cashing. It’s an RPG slot machine. The first reel is party members, the second is weapons, and the third is monsters. Match up the right class to the right weapon and hit the monster for the best payout of damage. Weapons vary in frequency on the reels. You make bets in cherries, and if you run out during a battle, you lose. This stupid game ate up almost all of my Friday. It’s very dumb, but hugely addictive and really pretty novel.
On the Screen
Gameshark editor and good pal Bill Abner sent me the Breaking Bad DVDs for my birthday- by the way, thanks for all of the presents, F:AT. Anyway, I’ve started watching it and it’s a great show- sort of like a less intellectual Coen Brothers thing with some really nice acting, solid writing, and some pretty dark humour. I didn’t realize that making crystal meth was so complicated, I don’t know how these hillbillies that do it have it figured out. Anyway, after the first season, I think I’m in for the long haul on it.
What the hell was it about 1981 and werewolf movies, anyway? American Werewolf in London, The Howling, and Wolfen all back to back to back. I hadn’t seen Wolfen since the mid-1980s- what an interesting, unusual film. It’s really kind of a police procedural set in modern NYC, but it folds in all of this Native American mysticism and a scientific angle. I don’t think it’s a very great movie, but I love that it has a unique atmosphere and a fresh take on the “wolfman” tropes. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to see Bill Adama naked…here’s your shot.
Still carrying on with the Doctor, but I’ve sort of exhausted myself for right now. I’m going to double up next week and head straight into the Matt Smith shows. “Fires of Pompeii” was a really dumb episode.
M83 has a new one out, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” and much like the previous “Saturdays=Youth”, I find it incredibly frustrating. I love his big, brash 1987-styled synthpop stuff. He’s got a keen ear for those tremendous, all-or-nothing melodramatic teenage hooks- think the Psychedelic Furs’ “Heartbreak Beat” mixed with Kate Bush’s “Running Up that Hill”- but half or more of the record is tepid, soft synthpad ambient junk. It’s fluffy marshmallow music. I want him to just cut loose and indulge in this kind of exaggerated nostalgia, not lull me to sleep with this pastoral crap. There are at least five great cuts on the record though, including the single “Midnight City” that is just spectacular. Goth sensation Zola Jesus does some vocals on it.
I’ve also been listening to a more recent post-hardcore outfit called Trash Talk, they have a new mini-LP out called “Awake”. It’s a scorcher. It’s closer to traditional, mid-1980s American hardcore though than something like Fucked Up. It really reminds me of “My War”-era Black Flag, it’s got that aggressive sludginess and some very Greg Ginn-styled guitar figures. Vocals are more modern hardcore/screamo-ish, but they work and the lyrics are good. Spotify also lists another record, “Eyes and Nines” but “Awake sounds like a big leap forward for the band. Good stuff that I’d recommend to new and old punkers.
UPS just dropped off Legends of Drizzt, time to go play with toys.