Barnestorming #00001- LOTR LCG Retroview, HOMM3, Year Walk

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Barnestorming #00001- LOTR LCG Retroview, HOMM3, Year Walk
There Will Be Games

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 One does not play LOTR LCG with just the Core Set.

This week, I’m launching my Cracked LCD Retroview series with my long-gestating LOTR LCG report. The concept of this ongoing feature will be to go back and revisit games that got bad to middling reviews and see where they are now- particularly if there have been content additions, expansions, or other revisions. I think it’ll be interesting to go back and re-evaluate games, if only to confirm that something sucked.

With LOTR, it’s interesting because the game is completely different than it was when it released in Spring 2010. It’s MUCH more complete, developed, and matured. But it’s such a weird, awkward game that just does not make any sense. It’s really a solitaire CCG that almost requires one player to play two hands, which by its very nature shouldn’t work. Yeah, you can play multiplayer, but it requires each player to make their own deck that works with other decks and with the scenario. At least if you want a shot at winning anything but the easiest scenarios. But then there are some adventures that are practically impossible for one or two hands.

And there’s the whole cost thing. It ain’t cheap if you want to really dig in and get to what this game has to offer. It’s probably more expensive than Magic, all considered. But if you commit, it’s an amazing but sometimes frustrating solo game. Article is up at No High Scores.

Played a little Blood Bowl TM recently…I can’t wait for the expansion. Such a fun game.

There’s been some new Worthpoint stuff if somebody wants to go dig it up since I’m lazy. A Valentine’s thing, something about games where you can be the Pope…


On the Consoles

I can’t beat the last part of the massive boss fight in Revengeance…I had to put it down. Maybe I need more training, I dunno. GOTY 2013, reviewed.

Since I have laptop that can actually play games again, I got a hankering to fire up HOMM3 for the first time in maybe a decade. My god, that is still one of the best games of all time. As soon as I saw the first screen with my hero waiting at the castle, it was like coming home. Three hours later…

I got back to HOMM3 because I had a hankering to play a fantasy TBS…I tried Warlock, Conquest of Elysium, Fallen Enchantress, and a couple of other ones but the only one that I felt was worth pursuing was Eador, a kind of obscure Russian indie. It feels like an aggregate of ideas from HOMM, Age of Wonders, Disciples, and Master of Magic. But it just made me want to play HOMM again.

I’ve got a review coming up for a cool SF roguelike called The Pit, set in the Sword of the Stars world.

I think I may dig up my old Undying disc…and Sacrifice…and Homeworld…



Seriously, y’all. Year Walk. You should play this game. It’s one of the best horror games I’ve ever played, and in some ways it may be the best. It’s sophisticated, mature horror rife with suspense and subtlety. I threw my phone at this one part- it wasn’t a shock horror thing, it was actually a very beautiful, eerie moment that was the culmination of several minutes of wandering around in the snow. There’s a review at NHS, and I don’t spoil _anything_ because you really need to experience it on your own with as little preamble as possible. There’s some great meta stuff that brackets it too- you really need to download the free “companion” app and read it first. What it does is amazing…when you see something from a spooky, medieval woodcut suddenly “real” in the context of the game, it’s incredibly effective.

It’s only about two hours long, including some reading and necessary aimless wandering. But I would say that it’s two hours of the finest, most mature gaming you can get right now. In some ways, it’s as profound as Journey was, if you know where to look. Full review.

I got Lords of Midnight since it was on sale, but I can’t figure out what the hell to do. Such an unusual game. Probably 20 years ahead of its time.


On the Comics Rack

Resident F:AT Comics oldtimer Shellhead has been talking up Marvel’s relatively obscure character Killraven in the forums, so I rounded up scans of the Amazing Adventures books from the early 70s featuring him. It’s kind of a follow-up to War of the Worlds, if the Martians won. So it’s set in post-apocalypse NYC, and Killraven is a Spartacus-like escaped gladiator in a costume oddly reminiscent of Connery’s sexmaster getup from Zardoz. It’s a very interesting book, very well-written and some very nice 1970s Marvel art. I’ve found them more modern and readable than some other books from the period- kind of a fun mix-up of 1950s pulp, Kirby, and 1970s science fiction.

I’ve also been reading Grant Morrison’s The Filth. I’m 9 books in, and I’m not sure if it’s completely brilliant and a masterpiece of absurdity or if it’s just Morrison trolling an outrageously offensive and willfully disgusting book. But it says so on the tin- The Filth. As usual, Morrison throws a zillion ideas at the reader, some more fully realized than others.

And then I’ve gotten back into the Simonson Thor books, thanks in no small part to our very own Zev Shlasinger, who sent me the Thor Visionaries trades in the math trade. They’re far more readable than the omnibus. I just finished up the Surtur storyline, and holy freaking crap it was amazing- Asgard versus Muspelheim over and on the streets of New York.  Between the surprise return of Beta Ray Bill to Asgard’s cavalry leading the host of demons into an ambush between the towers of the World Trade Center, there was just too much awesomeness and on a huge scope. It’s funny, so much of the finale of The Avengers movie was really kind of ripped off from this whole scene- especially the part with the dimensional portal generator on the Empire State Building

I finally started on The Incal, the Moebius/Jodorowsky book. The art almost makes me cry. It is one of the best-drawn books I’ve ever seen in my life. The writing is often inscrutable and directionless, but every panel is exquisite.


On the Screen

Watched Zack Snyder’s owl cartoon, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so bored in my life. I thought it might be cool- I love owls, and I was hoping it would be a Mouse Guard/Secret of NIMH sort of thing. It was like 90 minutes of CGI owls flying and talking and then some boring action scenes. I hate Zack Snyder.


On Spotify

Holy crap, so last week I was singing the praises of iceage, a Danish punk band that’s gotten a lot of attention at Pitchfork, Vice, and other nominally “hip” music sites. Come to find out, these kids (They’re like 18-20 years old) are messing around with some pretty un-PC stuff. As in, Nazi stuff. From listing a record from notorious Nazi black metal band Absurd as one of their favorites (along with a Bruce Springsteen record) to some very questionable doodles in a zine to appearing in videos in some very questionable red pointy hoods, there’s apparently a big backlash against them even though they play coy and deny being in any way affiliated or supportive of any kind of extreme right wing groups or ideologies.

From my perspective, the first thing that’s an issue here is taking the politics of teenagers seriously. The second thing is that the band is very influenced by Joy Division, who also played around with fascist imagery (see: the band name, and also New Order) and everybody from the Dead Boys to Siouxsie wore outright swastikas in the 1970s. Third, is that that kind of stuff is far more shocking and offensive than devil stuff, and I’m of the opinion that these are kids messing around and trying to be mysterious, transgressive, and daring. Fourth, is that whole thing where if we hold artists we like to have the same political beliefs as we do then we are inevitably going to be disappointed or outraged. The whole Richard Wagner thing.

But there again, promoting or forwarding fascist or Nazi imagery needs to be ended with fire. So I’m torn on it. They’re hardly an RAC band, but they don’t seem to be in line with left-wing peace punkers either.

So it’s a hard call. The lyrics and music don’t speak to any of this, it’s all in their extracurricular activity, if all of that even means anything. Are they playing a dangerous game and trying to be outrageous, or are they really dirtbag Nazis? Or are they willfully courting this kind of mystique? Who knows. They aren’t telling.

They also sell knives at their shows, which seems like a terrible, terrible idea.

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.

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