Barnestorming #9823- Omen/Hemloch in Review, Dragon's Dogma, Seaguy

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hemlochSmall Box Games strikes again.

On the Table

Over at No High Scores, the NEW home of Cracked LCD, I’ve just briefly reviewed the new edition of Omen: A Reign of War and Hemloch, both from Small Box Games. Clowdus strikes again- This man really is like The Fall. You know what you’re going to get from him, but you’re kind of OK with that because he does what he does so well and so uniquely. Hemloch isn’t as good as Omen, but it’s got a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve and it’s got a fun, spooky atmosphere.

The new version of Omen was a Kickstarter thing…it’s funny because John actually said to me “thanks for not raking me over the coals for going to Kickstarter”. The thing is, this was a good one to Kickstarter since it was a new edition of pre-existing game (not vaporware) from an established publisher with a reputation for quality. It’s also hard to argue with $34k.

That said, I caved in and “backed” Road to Enlightenment. I’ve seen a couple of early drafts of the rules thanks to Bill Abner (a good friend of Dirk Knemeyer) and after looking at the final version, I think this is going to be a really, really cool game with a great theme. Plus, I know it’s one that the Hellfire Club will love because they’re so into that whole European history thing. So that makes two things that I’ve actually “backed”. And I bet I’ll have Road to Enlightenment before Glory to Rome, which they claim is now at least in America. What a clusterfuck.

On the Consoles

My review of Dragon’s Dogma is up at No High Scores. I absolutely love it. And I completely hate it. It’s a great Japanese-style action RPG poisoned by the influence of MMORPGs and fucking Skyrim. Bad ass combat (some of the Devil May Cry folks made this game) is backed with flower picking and “kill X rabbits” quests. Parts of the game are inscrutable, sloppy, or tedious. But then it does this amazing stuff like get you into a fight with ten Direwolves that some Harpies see and decide to join in. Then the Chimera comes barreling into the fray.

It’s all I’ve been playing…I’m weirdly obsessed with it. It feels more like a Sega game than a Capcom one.

Oddly, it made me think of Nier. I think I’m going to try that one again, I remember almost nothing about it from when I played through about five hours of it last year. All I recall is that it was really awkward, weird, and strange.


Matt Loter sucks at Ascension. Did I already tell you that?

I bought Defender Chronicles II but I’ve barely played it since my iPad is now a magic comic book that takes my money and gives me comics. This week Comixology had a STUPID sale on Monday, a ton of Grant Morrison books and some good Marvel stuff. I think I blew through like $50 in 99 cent books.

Part of that was 16 issues of Morrison’s Doom Patrol run, which I’ve never actually read. Holy crap, was I missing out. What a brilliant, bizarre book. Love the Scissormen, the surrealism, and the absurdity.

I also read through his Seaguy and Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye books. On one hand, I can tell that these are “I’m a cranky comics writer that’s resentful of writing big, corporate books with overdone superheroes” exercises. But on the other, it’s actually really subversive, bizarre, and laugh-out-loud funny. I don’t want to spoil what I _think_ they’re actually about because it would ruin the plot, but suffice to say that his goal of undermining some big comic book concepts pays off. Seaguy (Aquaman?) is this really lame, Peter O’Toole (The Ruling Class?) looking superhero with no apparent abilities and a floating, cigar-smoking tuna for a partner. They live in this Prisoner-like world where all of the superheroes from the Dad Age defeated the Anti-Dad and are no longer needed. So now, they wander around and do really strange things to bide their time.

I guess. Then there’s corporate mascot/cartoon character Mickey Eye (The Residents?), the revelation that the polar ice caps were coated in Europe’s surplus dark chocolate to keep them from melting, and a mummy that lives on the moon.

Strange books, definitely not something for everybody. Apparently he planned a three-part series of three books each, but the first was in 2004, the second in 2009, and there’s no sign of another. I think I know where the story was heading though.

Also grabbed We3, all of 1602, and some other random issues. Ugh. Broke.

On the Screen

I’ve been watching some of the mid-1990s X-Men cartoon. It’s an odd thing. On one hand, it’s a really well-written pastiche of actual storylines from the comics with attention to continuity, Gambit being around for the Dark Phoenix saga notwithstanding (“Inner Circle”? Really?). But on the other, it looks, sounds, and feels like any other mid-1990s kiddie trash show. The animation and art direction is actually painful to watch. I swear everything in the show is either hot pink or yellow, and every female from Storm to Rogue looks like a member of Cinderella circa 1986.

River has really gotten into the Spectacular Spider-Man series that made it through two seasons a couple of years ago. It’s really good, one of the better recent superhero cartoons. He’s also been watching the old ’67-68 series on Netflix. The other day he came busting into the living room out of nowhere singing “Spider-man! Spider-Man!” from the theme song.

On Spotify

I managed to break the plug-in on my cassette adapter, so this week we’ve listened to naught but road noise in the car. Paging Monoprice…

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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.

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