Barnestorming #22229- Lyssan in Review, Borderlands 2, Black Hole, Pirates!

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lyssan Hey you, Lyssan up!

On the Table

Finally, my review of Lyssan. It’s another Kickstarter game, and it shows once again that the overarching problem with Kickstarter games is that they simply don’t have the kind of professional, focused, and mature development that something from FFG or Z-Man would have. It’s a good game- really good even- but there’s a little roughness to it ranging from some presentation issues to some gameplay quirks that a couple more rounds of development would have ironed out.

That said, the game is definitely worth the attention of anyone who likes Game of Thrones, Warrior Knights, or Diplomacy. I think I actually like it better than Warrior Knights, and it captures most of what I like about that game but in a more streamlined package. The Shame mechanic is just fantastic.

It’s funny, because they actually did put a real porn star on the rulebook cover dressed up in fantasy duds.

Speaking of Kickstarter, my Glory to Rome finally showed up after a year, a month or two after I could have just bought the damn thing at CSI. It was originally slated for November of last year. I won’t be buying or reviewing any further Cambridge Game Factory products. Shame, because the graphic redesign is outstanding and the game remains really good.

Playing X-Wing an awful, awful lot. I’m completely smitten with it. It is EXACTLY the Star Wars dogfight game I want. It innovates more than it borrows from Wings of War, and the gameplay is just shit hot. It’s also hugely accessible, I roped a completely non-gamer buddy of mine that loves Star Wars into a couple of games and he went out and ordered his own stuff. It takes about five minutes to get going- minimum setup- and you can play a big dogfight in 30 minutes. The dice system is fun, the miniatures rule, and it has that CLASSIC Star Wars feel that I don’t think I’ve seen any SW product have since the 1990s. All aces. Yeah, the cost is high, but this is a Cadillac game. And I ain’t painting miniatures or trying to convince my friends to play a 30 year old alternative.

On the Consoles

Like everyone in the world, I picked up Borderlands 2 yesterday. I’ve only gotten about three hours of solo play in, but so far so good. It feels like a much more confident, refined game than Borderlands did but it still has that scrappy, raucous edge that made the brand a success. I’m playing a Gunzerker so I can do this crazy dual wield thing with a rocket-firing shotgun in one hand and a inflammatory machine gun in the other. The writing so far is actually really funny, and it looks even better than the first one.

I reviewed Mark of the Ninja over at No High Scores- it’s a great one if you’ve got $15 and like stealth games.

I’m ditching the Vita if anyone wants to buy it. It’s a great system, but there’s only so many hours in the day to play with toys and it’s not being played with much.



Just Super Hexagon. I think I got up to 40 seconds on the easiest level.


On the Comics Rack

This section has just spilled out of Comixology, so there’s no point in calling it that anymore. Hell, this whole column is in danger of becoming  Barnes on Comics.

So yeah, into the “space war” story in Doom Patrol. I dunno, I don’t think it sucks but it definitely suffers following the god damned Danny the Street/Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. story which was just ridiculously amazing. There is some interesting stuff going on, but it feels strained and almost boring compared to…Danny the fucking Street.

I’ve read six issues of Black Hole, which got a lot of notice here in our forums last week. If I made pictures, I would buy the rights to this in a heartbeat because there is an AMAZING movie in there. It’s a deeply upsetting body horror story set in the 1970s in a town where teenagers are affected by this mysterious STD that mutates them in various ways. Not as in superpowers. As in tails, vestigial mouths, face-covering boils, skin that peels away, and so forth. It’s definitely an early David Cronenberg thing. It’s extremely well-written, capturing this particular world that is almost exclusively occurring at a teenage level, which is interesting. It’s very frank and understanding, and the horror elements are definitely metaphorical and meaningful- it’s not just gross-out stuff. Very sophisticated horror comic. I love it, and will probably read the rest this week.

I’ve also been reading the Kurt Busiek/Cary Nord Conan series from 2004, and I’m liking that a lot too. I’m surprised we’ve not talked about it much. It’s as Conan as I want it to be…the art is nice, the stories are pure Howard, and Conan is handled well.

I didn’t really care for Fear Agent at all. You Firefly fans might like that more than I do. I appreciate that it’s getting back to a Wally Wood/EC Comics style of science fiction, but I really do not like 1950s era sci fi at all.


On the Screen

I had no idea that Aardmaan Animation made a pirate movie, or that it came out this year in the US to almost zero notice. In the UK, it was called Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists, but here for reasons unknown it was subtitled Band of Misfits.  OK…philospher’s stone, sorcerer’s stone. Go America.

Anyway, I got it for River and he freaking loves it and is now demanding  a pirate costume. I watched it with him and I really liked it too. I can get behind a kid flick that features music from The Clash and The Pogues instead of Smashmouth and KC and the Sunshine Band. It’s funny (and I mean ENGLISH funny, not American funny), the stop-motion animation rules, and David Tennant voices Charles Darwin.

On Spotify

Bowiefest 2012 rages on. This week it was Low, another record that often dashes into the “best Bowie record” slot. My god, the first half of that record. Every song is a freaking masterpiece. “Breaking Glass” is the one where I’ve been reaching for the volume dial to turn it up the most lately, though. Hard-edged funk but with that artful, almost teutonic edge that Eno records all have. “Sound and Vision”, “Always Crashing in the Same Car”…damn.

The instrumental stuff on the back stretch is just stunning too. It still sounds like the future.

There Will Be Games

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.

Articles by Michael

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