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Barnestorming Episode IV- X-Wing in Review, Avengers, Battle Born

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xwing2Star Wars is cool again.

On the Table

X-wing it is. Full review.  It’s definitely in the competition for best of 2012. I’m glad I took a chance on it and listened to instinct rather than that dastardly Pete Ruth, who poo-pooed it and tried to get me to buy a bunch of Silent Death. This game is the Star Wars game that you’ve always wanted, and yes that means it blows The Queen’s Gambit out of the water if only because there’s no Jar-Jar Binks and you never once think about midchlorians at any point while you’re playing it. It is almost exactly what I had hoped for- a simple, no-fuss miniatures game about moving and shooting with a huge scoop of Star Wars on top.

Yeah, it’s expensive and that sucks. I wish FFG would not price their products so, um, optimistically under the assumption that most sales will go be through online deep discounters. The core set should either retail for $25 to get new players on board or come with at least a playmat and some more scenario materials. It is what it is, and it’s still less than getting full-bore into 40k or something like that.

I haven’t really played much else. Should see Mage Wars in the next week though, it might be good.


On the Consoles

I actually think Borderlands 2 is a really crap design. But I do like the game.  I wrote about it at NHS. Pop over there to see who is first to call me a troll or otherwise denigrate me for having an unpopular opinion.

Resident Evil 6 next week. I dunno. Oddly nonplussed by its release.

Vita sold for $200 on eBay- that worked out just fine for me, now the big Fall games are bankrolled. Bring on XCOM and Dishonored.



Super Hexagon or bust. Haven’t seen anything interesting lately. At all. Haven’t even been moved to pick up Summoner Wars again after burning out on it.


On the Comics Rack

Finished Black Hole and was left completely  devastated by it. There’s a couple of different outcomes for the characters, and one of them is so painfully honest, romantic, and tragic that I don’t know anyone that it wouldn’t touch in some way. There’s a passage where a character is reassuring another about the future of their relationship. It’s so starkly mundane and ordinary but anyone that’s ever gone from being a teenager to a young adult knows is just not realistic or maybe even possible. Another character pretty much completes a transition from promise and potential to nothingness, which again is a frank and honest illustration of how some people just drop the fuck off. Such a profound and thoughtful book.

Beyond that, it’s been lighter reading for the most part. Checking out some of Carl Barks’ must-read Donald Duck books. I had a couple of collections when I was really little, like maybe six or seven, and I haven’t read these since even though they’re so highly regarded and venerated. It’s amazing how much I remember from them after 30 years. They are, of course, absolutely wonderful all-ages fare that anyone can enjoy- even if you don’t like Disney or Donald Duck.

I’ve also been reading Dungeon (or Donjon, if you’re French). It’s a fun, easy book that feels something like a French sword & sorcery story influenced by Barks. It’s an animal book, so the main character is a chicken and the main antagonist is a cat. There’s some fun stuff in the and the cartooning is nice.

Got back into Planet Hulk too. It really is like the creators wanted to do a John Carter story but with Hulk as the lead.


On the Screen

Finally saw The Avengers, and it was great. Just a big, fun mainstream picture with a huge amount of heart and affection for Marvel Comics. I don’t think there’s anyone that grew up with these characters that won’t be moved by seeing this team in action. I just about cried the first time Cap and Iron Man were on the screen together. The climactic battle in Manhattan was just astonishingly well photographed…sweeping long takes really sold the team dynamic and captured the huge scope. The folks handling the JLA film better have taken some notes.

Whedon actually did a spectacular job with the film- I think working on such a huge, populist tableaux toned down his worst instincts to pander to the geek set. The writing was quite good, especially for this kind of film, with some awesome character bits. Loved Cap getting the Wizard of Oz reference, for example. He also had the best line- “There’s only one god ma’am, and I don’t think he dresses like that.”

The biggest surprise was Hulk.  They totally nailed the threat of the Hulk as well as Banner’s character. Watching him in action was one of the biggest thrills of the picture.

The biggest letdown was the Chitauri. Come on. You’re going to show Thanos but throw us a bunch of generic FPS villains on rocket sleds?  The eels were amazing, at least. Loki was great- better than he was in Thor- but the whole alien invasion storyline was really kind of a dud. Particularly after all of the great hero-versus-hero matchups throughout the film.

I also picked up the Dark Knight Returns (part one) DVD. Welp, there it is, an animated version of DKR. It’s pretty much word for word, which is kind of weird in a way. More importantly, it’s presented as something that could have been made in 1986. It has a faux-Vangelis score, Carrie Kelly’s parents are still ex-hippies, and all of the dated references and dialogue are still there. It ends after Batman kicks the mutant leader’s ass in the mudpit with the second part coming in early 2013. It’s definitely worth taking a look at, one of the better DC animated films. Buckaroo Banzai voices Batman.


On Spotify

Took a break from the annual Bowie retrospective to listen to the new Killers record “Battle Born”. They’re definitely continuing on with that new wave meets heartland rock sound they started  fooling with on Sam’s  Town. The cover shows a wild stallion on a desert road racing head on to collide with a neon-streaming muscle car and that about sums up the intent. It’s a strong record, probably better overall than Day & Age but it’s still a singles record and that’s definitely the best material. The lead single, “Runaways” is spectacular. It could be a “Born to Run” outtake, maybe even more so than “When You Were Young”. Huge, arena-rocking working class anthem with a little storytelling. And then those synthpop influences. These guys are one of the best and most entertaining mainstream rock outfits in the business today.

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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