Look! It's Barnestorming #21
On the Table
It’s time to take a look at King of Tokyo, Richard Garfield’s outstanding dice-rolling monster mash. I think it’s the best Kaiju game yet- better than Monsters Menace America and not nearly as hard to buy or get people to play with you as The Creature that Ate Sheboygan. And it’s not woefully obscure and expensive like Massive Vs. The Masses. It’s simple, ridiculously fun, and it tends to generate some rather colorful trash talk, at least with the people I’ve played the game with. I love it enough to give BGG five bucks for the 11 promo cards they’re selling, and that says a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it turn up in my Best of 2011 article come December.
At Worthpoint this week, I’m talking about Battleship. Maybe not playing it so much, but talking about it. And I even got to mention Galaxies.
I’ve been playing Gears of War, and I have to say that I think it’s the best game FFG has done since Chaos in the Old World. The reason is chiefly that it breaks somewhat out of the design rut they’ve been in lately, and it instead cribs things from designs outside of the FFG bubble. Naturally, you’re going to hear the title Ravenloft thrown around a lot in this regard and that’s fairly accurate. The more wasteful FFG-ish elements like the stupidity of putting scenarios on decks of cards is still there and the rulebook again manages to make a simple game seem like rocket science (read that section on wounding Locusts- it took me five times to get what they were saying), but by and large it’s a clean, streamlined design with some really good action gaming. It’s almost a little too streamlined, I don’t think the “cards as health” thing totally works, particularly since picking up items for example requires a discard. What, Cole Train can’t pick up a Torque Bow without stubbing his toe?
The biggest liability, actually, is the Gears setting. It’s already pretty drab in the video games, but on the table it’s even more dull. It doesn’t help that the figures all have a samey look and the map tiles are pretty boring. That said, it does capture some things about Gears I didn’t expect- like bleeding out and having your teammates pick you up…only to get shot down and start bleeding out themselves. It turns into these bloody clusterfucks with everybody struggling to stand up and stay in the fight. About like Gears, right?
I’ll review it next week to coincide with the release of Gears 3…so far, I definitely like it though.
On the Screen
Space Marine turned out to be a disappointment. Drawn out, one-dimensional, and repetitive. I did like it, but more because it’s 40K than because of the game itself. Review is up at NoHS.
I also reviewed a little XBLA game called Skydrift at Gameshark. It’s a shockingly good arcade-style racer (think Hydro Thunder or something like that) crossed with Crimson Skies and Mario Kart. I gave it an A-, I think it’s the best arcade style racer I’ve played in quite a while. Oh, and it’s planes. Not a whole lot of plane racing games out there.
Playing Gears 3 next week, duh.
On the Phone
Still playing nothing but King of Dragon Pass, which has become one of my all-time favorite IOS games. It’s perfect for the platform, and I love how freaking opaque it is…you find yourself wondering what all the game is taking into consideration at decision points. Did I sacrifice enough cows? Too many? Does what I did last season have any bearing on it? The game doesn’t tell you, and I find that really refreshing. It keeps all of the numbers, graphs, charts, and spreadsheets in the back room where they belong.
A couple of nights ago I pursued legal action against a ghost. Great times.
On the Screen
I’m still watching Doctor Who any time I’m in front of a TV that’s not displaying a video game. With two late night Scarlett feedings, I’ve managed to tear through a good number of the shows. Some of those suggested by you guys last week turned out to be great- Human Nature/Family of Blood in particular. Great stuff. I also _really_ liked the Satan Pit thing. I thought that was awesome, and I love the sci-fi/horror angle. You can’t tell me that the show writers weren’t influenced by Doom on that one. Love the Ood too, what a fun alien.
I have realized that Christopher Eccleston sucks. All of the shows of his run I’ve watched have felt markedly inferior to the David Tennant series not only in terms of writing, but also production. I don’t like his take on the Doctor at all, I kind of get a sense that the showrunners wanted to go darker with it, but there’s still a goofy, Doug Adams kind of humour that isn’t really congruous with that. Eccleston is too severe, when he switches to “goofy Brit” mode, it seems forced. Tennant can handle the darker stuff because he’s got a certain Mephistopolean streak, a mischievousness, that feels more authentic.
That said, the first Dalek episiode was kind of good, at least because it really upended the usual depiction of the Daleks. It gave them a kind of pathos that I thought was pretty cool.
I did go WAY back in time and watch a little Tom Baker action. My god, those shows were produced on the cheap. When I was a kid, he scared me. Those bug eyes, that big ol’ hat…but he was always the face Doctor Who to me. Now, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, Tennant is my Who. The guy is awesome.
Finished up my Tour de Can this week and came to the somewhat sad realization that I don’t much like Can after “Soon Over Babaluma”. Definitely aband that has a distinct “best work” period. I did get more into “Monster Movie” than I have before, and really liked the rawer, more primitive sound.
But the takeaway out of all of that is that you really, really, really should listen to “Tago Mago”. At least just “Mushroom Head” if nothing else.
Spotify (Crom bless it) gave me an opportunity to finally listen to “Cut the Crap”, universally regarded as the redheaded stepchild of The Clash discography. I’ve just never bothered to listen to it, knowing that it’s the product of the Strummer/Jones split and not really being down with a version of The Clash populated by a bunch of scrubs.
Well, what do you know, it completely sucks. I actually found it almost unlistenable. In some ways, it sounds like a return to the “Clash”/”Give ‘em Enough Rope” sound but after “London Calling”, “Sandinista”, and “Combat Rock”…who wants that? It sounds strangely inauthentic, and you can tell that Joe’s heart just wasn’t into it. And Clash without heart is…crap.