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F:AT Thursday: Crokinole, Where there is Discord, Lord of the Rings

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There Will Be Games

One lone F:ATie I be,

All by myself without nobody,

The sun is beatin' down on my baseball hat,

The air is gettin' hot, the beer is gettin' flat!

 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my homage to the classic tune Paul Revere by the Beastie Boys.  Could you feel the rhythm and style across the intra-web? Of course you could.

F:AT Thursday was somewhat curtailed this week. Josh was unable to attend. He was busy hanging curtains and picking out china patterns for his new home which has been dubbed "Look Manor". I asked if there was a Bat Cave underneath but his only answer was an archly raised eyebrow. 

Uba, Al, and I decided, then, to head over to the Home of Earth's Coldest Beer and play some rounds of Crokinole. Well, lets be honest. I wouldn't really call what happened "playing". More like me spasmodically hucking discs around while Al methodically hit the bulls eye with robotic like precision. It was a humiliation only sufferable because of the very large and astoundingly cold beers I was consuming.

Then Al broke out the newly revamped prototype for his  game "Game X". Oh, I guess he has a name for it but I'm not sure what it is. It revolves around two giant robots shooting the fuck out of each other across a city. It has elements of tile laying, deck building. And yes, for  you faint of heart, it has dice and lots of em! Of course. Good lord, do you think we call Al a True Believer for nothing?

I really think Al has something cool here. It needs work and refining yet but even in it's larval stage it is quite fun.

In this battle to the death, Uba made mince meat out of me. She smashed me. She bashed me. In the end she blew my robot's right arm completely off and, as we all know, a giant robot without a right arm is a robot without his Death Ray. And a giant robot without a Death Ray is hardly a giant robot at all! She moved in and finished the job by cramming a couple plasma grenades down my mechanical throat and giving me a case of terminal indigestion.

................................................

I've been playing some solo games of late. It helps me to keep from going completely crazy in between tow jobs during my 100 hour weekend shift.

Where There is Discord was the first one I attempted. I only played a few turns so I don't really feel myself to be in a position to give an opinion on the overall worth of the game.

My first impression is that it is as quality a production as anything I've ever seen and probably the best in the realm of war games, the cards are top notch without having the ultra stiff quality of a GMT game, the board is HUGE, (A bit too huge really. ) and the counters are about a half inch thick.

The rule book is large and intimidating but it is one of the best I've encountered and many a developer could take a lesson in rules writing from it. After one read through, I was able to play my first game by following the sequence of play. Each step has the appropriate rule section printed next to it for reference. It was pretty effortless other than flipping pages to get to the right section.

I have no clue on the "right" way, tactically,  to play. In the game I played, I had an Argentine Submarine slip into my main battle group and sink a troop transport on turn three. The game was over at that point and I put it away to restart later.

Lord of the Rings LCG kept me company this weekend as well. Wow, this game is pretty damn good.

It does have the same feel as Pathfinder Adventure Card Game even if the mechanisms of play and the procedures are different. However, Lord of the Rings is much more grim and desperate. It has a darker tone. Also, it requires a bit more cerebral activity on the players part and is less forgiving of poor play.

I'm not saying that makes it better than Pathfinder just different. Like the difference between the adventures of Fafherd and the Gray Mouser compared to the adventures of Frodo and Co. One is a bit more serious than the other.

I attempted the intro scenario, Traveling through Mirkwood four times and got crushed each time. On the fifth time I tried a different combo of characters. This time I used Eowyn and her faction which allowed for more control over the "staging area" and walked to victory. It was stunning the difference in difficulty when using a better combo of decks. 

I should note that I was using the pre-made decks that came in the starter set and have yet to try any deck building on my own. I suspect, as it is in most LCG's like Android, that will be a subgame all to itself.

...................................................

Talk of important matters was more of monologue this week.

I've been on a Star Trek kick lately fueled by the availability of every Star Trek series and every episode of that series being available on Netflix. I have been re-watching the original series in all of it's remastered high-def glory.

I have remarked elsewhere and perhaps here in the blog that watching this show through the eyes of a grown man as opposed to a child or teenager gives a whole new perspective on the show that I never had before. I really recommend you watch them, really watch them, again and see what I mean.

I do have to take issue with a comment made by our beloved M. Barnes  who recently described the original series as "Pop" by which I assume that he means "Pop Culture". I couldn't disagree more.

Star Trek is not "Pop". Star Trek is timeless. The fact that we still know and talk about it runs counter to the "pop culture" assertion. Laugh In was pop. When was the last time you thought about or discussed Laugh In? Been a while I suspect unless you have a Goldie Hawn fetish.

Star Trek has lasting appeal for a number of reasons. It grabs most of it's fans while they are young. The adventure elements are the stuff little boy's dreams are made of. The space ships, the phasers, the pretty girls, even the heroic drifter aspect. All these keep us enrapt while we are young and make the foundation of our love. But it's not enough. There has to be more.

The most fundamental reason that Star Trek has a lasting place in our cultural consciousness is the messages that runs throughout the entire series.

"Humanity is improving and the future is bright!" and also "Compassion and Love will win the day."

Such positive and reassuring messages. People not only need to hear these messages but will seek them out. So free of self loathing. So counter to the nihilistic and grim themes that permeate  much of modern entertainment. It's what sets it apart from Alien, or Battlestar Gallactica, or Elysium ( a film so forgettable that I had to look up it's title on IMDB).

Another reason for Star Trek's enduring popularity are the characters. The perfection of the trio. McCoy as heady emotion, Spock as cold reason, and Kirk as the fusion of the two. A reflection of the human psyche. But more than that, the characterizations are such that we love these guys. We care what happens to them.

I was watching the episode "Bread and Circuses" the other day and there is a scene where McCoy gets real close to Spock and almost whispers "You know why you aren't afraid to die, Spock?  You're more afraid of living. Each day you stay alive is just one more day you might slip and let your human half peek out."

God damn it, it gave me goose bumps.

 

 

 

There Will Be Games
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