Barnestorming #128- Branham on Descent 2, Rules Writing,

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Barnestorming #128- Branham on Descent 2, Rules Writing,
There Will Be Games

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On the Table

Frank did a bang-up job of reviewing Descent part II: Descent Harder that he foolishly posted on a Thursday, which is also known as International Michael Barnes Day every week. But you should read it. I won’t be reviewing it, I’m glad he did such a fine job that’s probably better than I would have spit up anyway. So I’m making it an honorary part of today’s Barnestorming.

My article is about rules writing, specifically the rules writing in Conquistador Games’ new Road to Enlightenment. I like the game- possibly a lot- but the rulebook is one of the worst I’ve read in a long time. When it’s not really clear how to play your cards in a game driven by cards, there’s trouble afoot. They’re a total mess, poorly organized, incomplete, and vague. The good news is that CG is supporting the game with FAQs and I think a video tutorial with none other than Bill Abner in it. My argument is that good rules writing means you don’t have to do all of that. Anyway, go read it.

Smash Up from AEG arrived today, now that has an amazing rulebook.  It’s like three pages and it has virtually no guff whatsoever apart from some silly internet memes. But I flipped through it and knew pretty much everything I needed to know right away. Looks like it might be silly fun.

Still trying to resist X-Wing…man, I’m failing my marketing saving throws.

On the Consoles

I got the new Persona fighting game and it’s pretty great, even though I don’t know most of the characters since I haven’t played Persona 4. It’s a joint production between Atlus and Arc System Works (the folks that made Guilty Gear and BlazBlue), so it’s more or less the manic, 2D fighter you’d expect. But it’s slightly more accessible, and really kind of closer to Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in terms of complexity. Which is to say, it’s hardly as complicated as BlazBlue. It’s bright, colorful, and has great graphic design and insane action.

I may play Darksiders II next week, I dunno. The first one was pretty good. Just don’t know if I really care enough for another yet.


Back to Summoner Wars. Got bored with 10000000, mainly due to the completely crap controls. Time pressure+inaccurate controls=frustration.

On Comixology

Abnett and Lansing’s Nova went on sale so I picked up a bunch of those. It’s a fun book, like most of their stuff is, but it’s not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy. Pretty crazy seeing Warlock from the New Mutants again. I don’t think I’ve seen him in a book since the 80s.

More of Mark Waid’s Daredevil.  There was a slight dip in quality with this irritating crossover with a Spider-Man book that brought in Black Cat (whom I just do not like), but overall it’s just a fantastic book. Check out this bad ass woodcut cover. The Christmas issue was surprisingly good. I think it won the Eisner for best issue last year. Matt Murdock walks out into a Christmas party with a sweatshirt that says “I’m not Daredevil”.

Heard good stuff about Secret Six, featuring a couple of DC z-list bad guys partnering up, but I didn’t like it at all. I don’t think anything will ever get me to care about Catman.


On the Screen

I didn’t really watch much of anything this week. My wife, who normally hates comedy more than me, got me to watch some Portlandia with her and I thought it was funny for about  ten minutes until it dawned on me how gratingly repetitive every skit was. Same characters, different wigs.

However, there is a Battlestar Galactica skit that’s awesome. I think you can watch it on YouTube, it’s well worth seeking out.

And I can’t say that I ever expected references to Neu! in a sketch comedy show.


On Spotify

I’ve always meant to get back to listening to A Place to Bury Strangers, so this week I did. These guys must have listened to Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Psychocandy” on repeat for about a year and then started their band. Other bands have tried to key into that particular sound but have failed. APtBS nails it.

But they’re not plagiarists. It isn’t hard to hear how they’ve mixed it up a little with some Chrome, some Big Black, and probably more than a little Hawkwind. And some of their stuff has a whiff of that Suicide throb, but with more hooks and noisy pop.

I like this band, when I’m listening to them I’m thinking about how they would have been ENORMOUS in the late 1980s on college radio.


There Will Be Games

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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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