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Barnestorming #92- Thunderstone Advance in Review, Rune Raiders, Rango

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Barnestorming #92- Thunderstone Advance in Review, Rune Raiders, Rango
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On the Table

Damn, I have a lot of Thunderstone cards. I don’t think I’ve owned as many cards for a single game since Magic.

It’s funny that Thunderstone has come so far after being initially branded as a Dominion clone. The thing is, I think it’s a far better, more complete game. No, it’s not as oily smooth and slickly developed. But that’s kind of why I like it. It’s a little rough, wilder, and despite the light number-crunching typical of the genre, I totally buy the theme of recruiting heroes and tooling them up to go kill monsters in a dungeon.

Thunderstone Advance won’t change your mind if you didn’t like it before. But it is an overall improvement, not quite a 2nd edition revision but enough so that there are numerous improvements.

Review of the new set is at Gameshark.

Incoming this week, I’ve got VPG’s new 8-bit JRPG game Destined Hero, which looks fun, and Lords of Waterdeep. I’m oddly really interested in Waterdeep, a D&D Eurogame. Huh.  Whodathunk.

I’ve also got a copy of Epic Spell Wars on the way from Cryptozoic, looking forward to that one as well.

On the Consoles

Still truckin’ along in Mass Effect 3. Slow start, but it gets better. Instead of forming a band, you’re trying to organize a festival. So to speak. My favorite character from the second, who died in the suicide mission, came back. Sort of. Biggest shock of the game so far.

I’ve been playing Sine Mora like crazy. I can’t review it yet because of an embargo. But it is FUCKING AWESOME. As in, one of the best shmups I’ve ever played. In my life. The soundtrack is KILLER too, it’s Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill) emulating Jean-Michel Jarre and Giorgio Mordorer. One of the cool things is that it’s a split development between Grasshopper Manufacture and the Hungarian company Digital Reality, who did a great airplane racer called Skydrift last year. So it’s got some super Japanese-y stuff mixed with European stuff. The art style is like Blacksad mixed with Miyazaki. And a touch of Metal Slug.

Shoot Many Robots sucks.

Bill Abner handed me the review for Yakuza: Dead Souls. That should be interesting. Maybe not good, but interesting. I’m also on deck for Ninja Gaiden 3 next week, definitely in the mood for a great brawler.

I reviewed Journey- look for it at No High Scores tomorrow. It is absolutely incredible. The “can games be art?” question gets answered at last.



I let the Vita cool down this week. I actually downloaded a new game, Rune Raiders. It’s worth taking a look at. You hire heroes that have chess-like attack patterns and deploy them on a grid. You push an advance button and they walk forward. Any enemies- who also have attack patterns- do their thing.  It’s got a puzzle-y element and it’s all about positioning your party and anticipating enemy movement. It has that irritating IOS goofball artwork, but the writing is actually kind of funny. A minotaur killed my wizard and the elf said “holy cow!” I laughed. I felt kind of embarrassed.

I have a review code for the $20 iPad wargame Battle Academy, so look for that soon. Apparently it’s a full-featured PC wargame on IOS. Sounds good to me.

I wanted to upgrade to the new iPad, but I can’t seem to get a good trade or sale out of the iPad 2. So I may be stuck with low-res for 2012. I’ll get by. Somehow.

On the Screen

I picked up Rango out of the Red Box for River to watch, but I had no idea how FREAKING GREAT the movie would be.  Or that it would turn out to be one of the best comic westerns…ever. I really didn’t follow the film when it was in release and all I really knew was Depp, Verbinski, and Academy Award.

It’s stupendously smart, surreal, grotesque, and definitely not one of these post-Shrek soul-destroying things with disco dancing cartoon characters and non-stop pop culture references. This picture has references, but they’re Hunter S. Thompson, Sergio Leone, and Carlos Castaneda.

The animation is ridiculously great, the voice acting superb, and the design of the ugly animal characters are unique and have a dark edge that I love. The story is a weird mix of Western tropes and Chinatown.  Kid’s film? Really?

During one scene where a rattlesnake is firing away at a swarm of bats with a chain gun, I just said “this movie is fucking NUTS!”

It’s not really for kids…afterward, River was running around brandishing his play drill like a Colt. Mom didn’t like that so much. But I actually bought the movie, _I_ want to watch it again.

I did watch The Black Hole as promised. What a weird movie. The thing is, it’s REALLY dated. It was really dated for 1979, it feels like a 1950s or 1960s film. There’s some interesting stuff like this weird Hell thing going on, a robot funeral (band name!), some cool ship designs…but the whole thing is really awkward and clumsy. I _almost_ get a sense that it was originally written to be a more serious, adult SF story but it was toned down in spots for Disney.

I remember it SO well from when I was a kid…I had a bunch of toys and books from it, even a snap-tite model of the Vincent robot (I always wanted the broke down hobo robot, never got him though). I remember very distinctly seeing it an old fashioned, fancy theater with my parents and being pretty freaked out by the ending. A curiosity, but not a very good movie in the end.

On Spotify

Still on Prince. Mostly listening to “Controversy” and “1999”. Side order of Sheila E.’s Prince written and produced singles. “A Love Bizarre” might as well be a full-on Prince song. You know who’s solo records aren’t good though? Wendy and Lisa. Yikes. “Fruit on the Bottom”. No thanks.

I’m working up the courage to actually listen to the Batman album. I’ve not heard it since I dismissed it into the abyss of 1989. “Hey ducky…”

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 FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com 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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