Come on in for a Thanksgiving episode of Next of Ken, where I'll cluck and gobble over TV's Young Justice, give some thoughts on my first run-through of Fantasy Flight Games' Elder Sign, and go totally slacker with a review of Five-Fingered Severance. Join us, won't you?
Turn On The Boob Tube, I'm in the Mood to Obey
I've almost gotten caught up with Young Justice, the current DC Universe animated show airing its second season weekly on Cartoon Network. I've got to say--it's not quite at Justice League Unlimited levels just yet, but it is truly a quality show and is likely one good arc away from that same level of greatness.
The care and craft are evident, and the continuity is great. For example, in a recent episode the team faced some sort of water hazard for the third week in a row; Artemis mentions nearly drowning for the third time and pulls out some portable breathing gear for her and Kid Flash. Such things are small touches, but they're appreciated.
There's a decent overarching storyline involving a shadowy cabal of supervillains and a potential traitor in the midst of the Young Justice team. Yeah, it's kid's TV, but it's still TV that doesn't pander or just spit out crap from week to week.
I still say the name sounds like some sort of barely legal porno flick, though.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is one that I think I'm starting to feel fatigue settle in, personally. We're what, four or five seasons in, and what's been accomplished? Not a lot, really.
What's goofy is how the series has screwed with Revenge of the Sith, with this ever-widening gap between the second and third movies. In Episode III, Anakin and Greivous meet for what is supposed to be the first time, as each take jabs at the other's physical stature. However, in the show I think they've probably been face-to-face now a dozen times (remember, this show takes place before Episode III.)
And what would crack me up would be if they fixed the dialogue between Anakin and Dooku in ROTS as well.
ANAKIN: My powers have doubled since the last time we met, Count.
DOOKU: Really, Anakin? Since what, last week, when we fought? Get serious.
I'm trying to stay focused here but the episodes are piling up on the DVR and I'm struggling to stay motivated to catch up. They need to find a logical end point and start building to that, rather than the same few hints that get tossed in from time to time. Dear show; I'm aware that Anakin becomes Darth Vader and that Asokha likely doesn't have a bright, healthy future. So, can we get on with it? Thanks!
My Enemies are Yours, Twist Their Minds With Your Spells, Crush Their Souls
Finally had the chance to delve into some solo Elder Sign, a game I received in trade recently. Now, you guys know I'm not much of asolo gamer, but I wanted to go through the rules, it's a fast-playing dice game, and I wanted to see for myself about the difficulty.
I believe I saw Richard Launius mention on a thread somewhere that solo should be played with a minimum of three characters, so that's what I went with. I picked characters randomly and got Kate Winthrop, Joe Diamond, and the Sister Mary. The Great Old One was also random and turned out to be Yig.
Wow, did I win in a laugher. I think Yig had one Doom token when I hit my tenth Elder Sign, sealing the deal.
Now...after the fact I went and checked and sure enough, I made some of the typical mistakes that others have made. Namely:
1. I cast spells after the first roll. However, this happened like three times I think.
2. One turn, I did Assist and Focus after only one failed roll.
3. I misplayed Kate's ability.
You see, when I read "Monsters cannot appear during Kate's turn", I sort of assume that hey, monsters cannot actually appear on Kate's turn. After reading the forums though, it seems as though Kate's power doesn't work during the Mythos phase, nor if an adventure comes up requiring a monster draw. Which, of course, I drew during her turn, so I skipped putting two monsters on it, making that a pretty easy adventure. Because that's how her power reads. But, whatever.
Even so, despite these mistakes, a LOT of things would have had to otherwise go wrong for me to even remotely be in danger. None of my investigators had any significant damage, I completed most missions very easily, and even when I failed the penalties weren't particularly nasty.
I like the game, though. I like the flavor, I like the whole "Arkham in an Hour" vibe. There's a surprising amount of theme in there, even though some of it is what we bring with us from previously playing Arkham Horror.
Thankfully the game is ripe for house rules, and there are several posted all over the web.
I do wonder just how much disconnect occurred between Richard and FFG during the publishing of this game. Based on some of the posts on BGG, Richard seemed genuinely surprised at some things in the finished game, and Richard is the kind of guy who is constantly coming up with house rules and variants to make games more difficult, NOT easier.
I hope to squeeze in a game over the Thanksgiving break, and if so I'll update my thoughts. Especially if somehow we have a more difficult time of things.
We Lived Through Another Day, It's a Good Excuse to Celebrate
If you've ever worked in a public service job, you'll know one axiom for sure--the customer is always WRONG.
Ever wanted to play "Clerks: The Boardgame?" Basically, in the new game Five-Fingered Severance, you may not have Dante or Randall--or Jay and Silent Bob to sell you weed--but the spirit is still there.
Five-Fingered Severance (Minion Games, Patrick Leder and Topher McCulloch, 3-6 players, 1 hour) is a game where players are workers in a store that is closing the same day. Corporate is cruel, and everyone is getting the axe come quitting time. That means two things:
1. The boss is in a REALLY shitty mood.
2. Who gives a CRAP about this job?!
So meanwhile, it's meant to be business as usual, but the employees have other plans. Those customers? Now's your chance to tell them how you *really* feel. And all those tasks the boss wants done? Forget it, man--it's time to slack off, and slack off good.
Each player has a character with different powers. Some are better at slacking off, others better at dodging the boss, and others at grabbing loot. The board represents the store with several key locations, including the different aisles as well as the cooler and the stock room. Oh, and the bathroom, but the less said about that place, the better.
You've got different actions you can take on your turn. Most of them are goofing off, pocketing merchandise from the store ("Everything MUST go!") or insulting customers, and while those will score you points, they'll also generate "heat" with the boss. Get too much heat, and you'll have to punch out early with a pink slip...which sucks, because you could use the extra ten bucks to go to the movies tonight, you know? Worse yet, when someone slacks off, it puts the heat on everyone, as the boss gets more and more in a foul mood.
You can lower your heat by actually helping customers and doing tasks throughout the store. Yeah, it makes you a kiss-ass, buy hey,money's money. The boss has a marker on the board, and either other players or cards can send him to certain locations. While he's there, your kiss-assery will definitely come in handy.
An event deck of cards determines what happens each turn. Some of these move the boss around, while others pop out customers or tasks, and there's even a card where the boss eats bad nachos and is stuck in the shitter for a full turn. Ah, the pleasantries of grunt-level customer service work.
The deck acts as a timer, and when it's done, you score points based on what you've done during the game. And to prove that there might be a future in corporate, you can actually score bonus points for not having tons of heat, but understand that the other players will point and laugh at you, and most likely give you a wedgie.
The game has a pretty wicked sense of humor. There is a customer who is worth a lot of points if you insult him, but then you get "cockpunched" (yes, it's on his card) and you lose a turn while you writhe in the aisle nursing your jewels. The bathroom is a cornucopia of fecal spray. There are characters flipping birds, mooning each other...really high-brow humor. Still, I'm all for games that don't take themselves seriously, especially if there's a good game underneath.
And Five-Fingered Severance is a pretty good game. You run around the store, dodging the boss, filling your pockets with stuff, slacking off whenever you can, and calling customers "Jackassed Muff Mumblers!" (Note: the game is greatly enhanced if, when insulting a customer, players actually have to come up with their own wicked insults. Come up with something lame, and you fail. Just sayin') The stuff you do ends up getting you heat, so occasionally you'll have to lay low and actually do your job--but slacking off can be glorious as it can put the heat on everyone else, too.
I do have a few complaints, though. For one, the board areas aren't clearly delineated for where to put the stacks of cards that are going to pop up, so you end up with a big mess on the board as it fills up. This may have been by design to further portray the disarray of the store, but somehow I doubt it. The second complaint is that I wish that the points or tasks in the game could be tightened up somehow. What I mean by that is when I started playing the game, I envisioned there being a fierce competition for tasks, points, and merchandise. However, stuff comes out so rapidly that there is rarely a shortage of things to do. That means that you've got a bunch of things you can do, and it's a matter of optimizing and getting the most points for your buck. In a game with a cool theme like this, that can feel a bit too Eurogamey.
As far as components, I can't stress enough that Minion Games have cured their production woes that plagued their first few titles. The tiles are good and thick, the cards are of very nice quality, overall there are no components complaints, besides the need for clearer areas on the board.
All in all I had fun with Five-Fingered Severance. It's not a theme that's been done to death, you've got player interaction by using the boss against other players, and the artwork is colorful and humorous. I would like to have seen the points and tasks shored up so that there was more competition rather than optimization, but still it's a fun time and definitely a step in the right direction for Minion Games.
(Thanks go out to Gamesalute.com, who provided this review copy.)
And that's going to do it for yet another edition of Next of Ken. I know I have readers both American and non, but either way I truly hope you have something to be thankful for this week. Wish me luck trying to make it through Turkey day without gaining five pounds....until then, I'll see ya in seven. Thanks for reading!