Holla for Cathala!
On the Table
Five Tribes is really fun. Period. Don’t care if it’s not “thematic” or whatever. Don’t care if it’s “point salad”, don’t care if it’s “prone to AP”. The mechanics are fun, the scoring is satisfying, and it has a great sense of atmosphere. Definitely DoW’s most significant game in years, and one that I think we’ll see on the SDJ list next year.
What I like most about the game is that it’s equally rewarding for hardcore or casual players, effectively offering two different “modes” of play without any kind of advanced game rules. Sure, any game can be played as serious as you’d like, but not many really support a very dense, layered set of objectives with a simple central mechanic that always seems to offer you “aha!” moments- something that’s important for more casual play, IMO.
That said, I definitely enjoy the game more as an hour family game than I do as a 90 minute gamer’s game. I’ve played it both ways, and my advice is “don’t over think it”.
Here’s the review. No, I do not mention the fact that there are slave cards because it isn't a big deal.
And there’s another Cathala game in the wings, Abyss…I’ve played it a couple of times and I’m really liking it too. It’s very easy to play, has an evocative atmosphere and it’s a solid 45 minutes. No, it is not a detailed narrative about undersea fantasy kingdoms. It’s not supposed to be. I think it’s way better than 7 Kingdoms, but it’s in that general vicinity in terms of weight/depth/length.
Travis Chance of Action Phase games traded it to me along with a review copy of Heroes Wanted. More on that one later, but after a couple of games I dig it. All of the usual Kickstarter disclaimers apply, but it’s a fun game with a lot of heart. And at least one pretty brilliant idea.
Asmodee is sending Hyperborea, which I think is going to be a wildly divisive game. I think it looks pretty neat.
I finally got in the last wave of X-Wing ships along with the Rebel Aces. I’m officially overwhelmed by X-Wing. I was sorting this stuff and I was just like “damn”. Cards everywhere, dials, bases, stands…they’re about to bust out of the storage case I have, I don’t know how the next two big ships are going to go in, let alone Scum and Villany. I think I may cut it off after S&V, I do want those and I’d get an Imperial ship on par with the giant Rebel ones but that is it for me, I think.
On the Consoles
Shadows of Mordor is here from Gamefly. Was going to play it last night, but fell asleep.
Lots of Destiny…but I sort of dropped off it a bit since there’s a new patch that changes the engrams in a favorable way. They did something really unusual with the loot, they really tried to make rare items REALLY rare and special and Legendary items something you actually have to work long and hard for…but that just didn’t sit well with folks who are used to be SHOWERED with random loot like in Borderlands.
The more I play it (22 hours), the more I really admire how hard Bungie tried to actually shape the way people play this game, and with it shape the future of FPS games. Mark my words, in five years developers will still be doing things that this game started. The problem is that there’s resistance to Bungie’s vision. Which ultimately will not matter. Like the whole story issue. They wanted to evoke a story rather than tell, which right there eliminates a HUGE handicap of FPS games (terrible, meaningless stories). I hope that developers learn something there, that strong visuals and implying events is much more powerful than trotting out a bunch of Z-grade cut scenes.
Still truckin’ in Diablo III too. May pick up Smash Friday, trying to avoid buying Hyrule Warriors until I can get it used from Gamefly.
Yes, Galaxy Trucker is really good as you might have already heard. CGE really went the extra mile with it- who would have expected a full single player campaign AND a new turn-based variant so you can do async? Weirdly, I’m not really all that into it, regardless of the quality. It’s cute and fun…but it’s just not making me pick up the iPad. I’m kind of wondering if I really like Galaxy Trucker at all…I had thought it was the hassle of F2F play that was putting me off of it, now I’m thinking I may not like the mechanics so much. At any rate, hopefully this team will do Mage Knight.
Card Dungeon is a new one that looks EXACTLY like Card Hunter but of course the developers are pulling the ol’ “well, we never saw that game while we were making it, it just kind of happened that they look ‘similar’” stunt. Bullshit. The game’s fonts, monsters, characters, cards, everything looks JUST LIKE Card Hunter. Plagarism aside, it’s a decent game that could be GREAT. Essentially, it’s a roguelike and you have three card slots. Cards are your attacks and skills. Use them, and the cards visibily wear out. It’s too easy so far and it’s missing critical features (no map, really?) but it’s worth a look. They need to just fess up that they liked the look of Card Hunter and borrowed everything from it down to the fonts, though.
Dipping back into Warhammer Quest…for the third time. I have all of the add-on material now. Still great, still perfect for mobile. Still random as fuck.
Went back to God of Blades of all things…such a cool freaking game, great Metal Hurlant-style vibe.
On the Comics Rack
Matt’s recent foray into comics inspired me to go re-read the Morrison Batman run to make sure I wasn’t just making it up how great it is. I wasn’t. I just finished the “Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul” part, which is definitely the low point of the run. It’s got other writers involved and it was a crossover, and you can tell that it was a mandated storyline that Morrison was assigned. There are some decent bits, but by and large it falls into silliness.
But The Black Glove was right before it, which is absolutely brilliant. It riffs on the old “Batmen of All Nations” concept from the 1950s.Back in the day, Batman and some other heroes are recruited by a rich benefactor to start the Club of Heroes. But Batman sort of blows them off since they’re all pretty small-time, and they resent him. So in the present day, the Club of Heroes is called to this island mansion for a kind of reunion and it turns into this Old Dark House type murder mystery. JH Williams III artwork, so it looks awesome. It sort of sets up Batman Incorporated too, which comes much later on.
On the Screen
My wife really likes Masters of Sex, so we’ve been watching it often…it’s pretty good, but I think I would like it better as a two hour feature rather than a serial. Like Mad Men, it starts getting into all of this soapy who’s-having-an-affair crap that I do not care anything about. But the story of Masters and Johnson and their relationship is fascinating and it’s a very well-written and acted show.
I saw another segment of Man of Steel. I think that may be one of the most unwatchable films I’ve ever seen. It is absolutely horrible on just about every level. Every single aspect of the film is UGLY. It has some of the worst production design I’ve ever seen. The photography is literally like having someone smash handfuls of feces into your eyes. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Even Amy Adams is ugly in it. It says a lot that as much as I love Batman, I won’t be any more bothered to watch Superman vs. Batman than I was Sucker Punch. Zack Snyder is the EPITOME of the clueless, talentless Hollywood hack that’s managed to schmooze himself into a position where people call him a “visionary” based on a couple of fluke hits. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I’d rather watch an Uwe Boll film over a Zack Snyder one. At least Boll isn’t convinced that what he is doing is anything other than garbage.
I’ve about caught up on the Matt Smith Doctor Who episodes. I do like him, but I don’t think most of the episodes have been as strong as those from the Tennant era. Note to Moffat, et. Al.- please stop bringing back the stone angels, enough is enough.
Nothing but French black metal. Which, invariably, means copious amounts of Deathspell Omega. Really into their record “Paracletus” right now, which is both exhausting and exhilarating. They’re an awesome band, but something about them keeps me from completely committing. I think it’s because their music is so dense, complicated and highly technical. Definitely one of the more accomplished and sophisticated BM acts.
Which is in complete contrast to Mutiiliation and Vlad Tepes. Sloppy, incredibly lo-fi BM that almost defies you to be entertained by it. Goofy/hilarious vampire themes. “The Eggs of Melancholy”. “Destroy Your Life for Satan”. Impossible to take seriously, but the music and atmosphere is so earnest and completely grim. I love it.