Civ Lite, defined.
On the Table
Had I reviewed Clash of Cultures in 2012, it would have had a very clear shot at the GOTY prize. It’s every bit as good as my final five, and it may have even gunned down X-Wing. It’s a brilliant piece of design that is remarkably brave in how it trims down the civilization game to very core, very elemental units- but then it manages to sneak in at least a couple of completely innovative ideas of its own. Christian Marcussen has gone from a guy that did a great pirate game to a designer whose name you should look for. Review at NHS.
Kemet finally showed up. What a crazy game. It’s VERY French. It’s almost a kind of avant garde DoaM, particularly in terms of how it handles geography. I think I love it. At least everything except for the language independence, which is total crap in this game. Tons of tiles and cards with esoteric rebuses on them instead of text. But hey, men riding a scorpion, human sacrifice, and an awesome Egyptian myth setting.
I broke down and ordered Relic, it should be here today. I’ll probably mostly solo it, even the Hellfire Club balks at 4+ hour Talisman-style games.
On the Consoles Laptop
The console drought might end here this week- I’m getting a review copy of Injustice. DC characters, Mortal Kombat designers (Netherrealm). It could be good, if contrived.
Still practically zero interest in Bioshock Infinite.
Still completely interested in Torchlight II and Starcraft II. Totally loving my werwolfy/berserkery build in the former and really digging into the campaign in the latter.
I picked up Unity of Command, but I’ve barely looked at it yet. I’m thinking about Sang-Froid, it looks good and Chick gave it five stars
“Beat” Ridiculous Fishing, I hope to god I never see anything about that game again.
Tried a couple of other new games like the highly regarded Slayin, which was awful, and Nimble Quest, which is kind of like combining the overworld walking parts of Final Fantasy games (where your characters are a conga line) with Snake. It’s kind of good, at least as a timewaster.
The big winner is Mighty Dungeon. It’s not altogether where it needs to be, but the guy that made it was clearly trying to ape Heroquest and Warhammer Quest. It’s a turn-based board game with a kind of weird real-time version of Dungeon Master-style combat. It’s fun, simple, and there appears to be tons of content. Hopefully my dollar will go toward a couple of updates to get this thing where it should be going.
On the Comics Rack
You guessed it- still on the Kirby Kick. I moved over to his bonkers bicentennial Captain America run (thanks Andy), and it’s just terrific. It’s weird, silly, strange, and totally patriotic. I like Cap and Falcon teamed up, and this definitely delivers as they go after something called The Madbomb (“It can destroy the world!”), apparently a plot by the 1% ahead of their time.
Also took on the original Demon series, which I love because I just love Etrigan.
I did dip into Steve Gerber’s Defenders run, and I actually really liked it. The team is goof ass- Dr. Strange, Hulk, Nighthawk, Valkyrie and for a while Daredevil, Luke Cage, and the original Guardians of the Galaxy- but it’s fun 1970s comics with a big ol’ social message. “Racism- it’s bad”. The baddies are a bunch of white supremacists.
The only thing new I read this week was the finale of Godzilla: Half Century War. The ending was simple but effective. Not very surprising, nor was the 11th hour reveal of a couple of Godzilla’s best foes. Stokoe’s artwork is just astonishingly good in it and a tease that there may be more is actually quite welcome. One of my favorite books of last year, can’t wait for the trade.
On the Screen
Finally finished The Hobbit. I’m thinking about mailing the blu-ray to a random F:Attie just that I’ll stop watching it. As much as I didn’t like a lot of it, I’m still watching it constantly. Even though some of it completely sucks, it’s still a far sight better than most fantasy films. I guess I do “sort of” like it as a whole…I just wish it had been better.
I watched The Hunger Games and…I didn’t hate it! Actually, I thought it was pretty good for a teen-skewed science fiction picture. The social commentary and satire is really, really basic and pretty blunt- at 37, you’re already past the “man, the government and media, they’re really bad, man” stage. But a 14 or 15 year old watching this film might be encountering those ideas for the first time. I think that’s important, and I’m glad that the film is smart, tough, and fun enough to carry those message to those who arguably need them the most. Even when some of the more hokey teenage material intrudes.
I like Katniss, I like that she’s a survivor and a hunter. I love the bow. I really liked the ridiculous, post-Gaga costumes, I liked that it was a vision of the future that was clothed in absurdity, tackiness, excess, and shallow imagery with no meaning. I liked that the film was very indebted to Rollerball, The Running Man, 1970s dystopian SF, and of course Battle Royale. It’s easy to dismiss the film as derivative of those things and it definitely is, but there again kids that haven’t encountered that stuff have a decent lead-in to the source material.
I’ll watch the second one, at least when it hits Netflix.
The Knife’s Silent Shout is one of the best records of the past decade or so, and the follow up “Shaking the Habitual” is out this week, some seven years after their masterpiece. And what a follow-up it is. Although there isn’t anything as immediately arresting or accessible as “We Share Our Mother’s Health”, there are at least 150 bits of nimble but equally devastating synth riffs and plenty of incredible, clattering beats. There are also gamelans. A 20 minute ambient noise track right in the midle of the record. A female voice that modulates and turns male. Traces of Kate Bush, Krautrock, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and either Test Dept or 23 Skidoo. The songs are long, immersive, and demanding. Layers reveal themselves and the music just swallows you whole. It’s a thrilling- but sometimes difficult record.