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  • Barnestorming- Dragon Con 2013 Post Mortem, Crimson Shroud, ST: Into Darkness, Reflektor

Barnestorming- Dragon Con 2013 Post Mortem, Crimson Shroud, ST: Into Darkness, Reflektor

MB Updated
Barnestorming- Dragon Con 2013 Post Mortem, Crimson Shroud, ST: Into Darkness, Reflektor
There Will Be Games

This week, Friday Freakout comes a day early!


 On the Table

It’s time for my annual Dragon Con post mortem. And it might just be the last.

I hereby declare that I’m over any and all kinds of “fandom”- including the whole gamer subset. I want nothing to do with people defined by the media they consume. I don’t want to be associated with “geeks” or “nerds” anymore because those terms just indicate people that watch a lot of TV or play a lot of games. Not smart, creative people. I’ve had it with the lack of taste, class dignity that most- but not all- gamers and fans of all descriptions display. Something about this subculture of consumption draws the literally unwashed masses like flies to shit. Stay away.

This doesn’t mean I suddenly don’t love games, that I’m going to stop reading comics or watching Doctor Who. I love all that stuff dearly, always have and always will. But my concept of being of fan of these things, enjoying these things, does not include using the creativity of others as a crutch with which to generate my identity. Maybe I’ve done a little growing up, maybe I’m just more of an asshole this year than last year. Maybe I’m just no longer tolerating the crap that you have to put up with when you’re around thousands of “pop culture” addicts. You pick.

If I weren’t already booted off the Dragon Con press list for writing negative things about it back in 2009, I would be now thanks to this piece at NHS. I’ll sit back and wait for somebody to call me a “hipster” or to say that I’m generalizing/stereotyping. Should take about five minutes.

Anyway, games, I love ‘em. Very excited to be getting a DOAII review copy, MikeCL and I have been patting each other’s bottoms (with no cupping or pausing, mind you) about games lately, let’s see if we’re in tune on that one too. I’m about ready to issue forth on Bioshock Infinite, but I may as well just repost San’s article with my name on it- he hit pretty much everything I wanted to address. There’s a slight disagreement, we’ll see next week maybe.

Loving Scoundrels of Skullport. Three or four players with both expansions is awfully good. Five or six with both does run long. Maybe it’s just familiarity, but the game doesn’t feel as abstract as it did. I’m seeing more story material…the last game I was the Ilithid, I only completed a couple of Commerce quests but I was racking up points with buildings and other means, abusing the crap out of the corruption and cycling it back whenever possible. “I’m a legitimate businessman”.

More Pathfinder…my love for this game knows no bounds. I wish the next chapter would come out today, I want to see what rewards there are for moving on. I’ve got two parties ready to roll, and will probably have a third caught up by October.


On the Screen

Kind of in a JRPG mood so I downloaded Crimson Shroud on the 3DS…it’s almost great. The idea was to make it closer to a tabletop RPG, so all of the characters are represented by stationary, based, and presumably painted miniatures. When they die, they tip over. The playfields look like miniatures terrain. You actually roll dice for resolutions. There are some cool systems, like an elemental chaining mechanic that gives you bonus dice. There’s an area movement system that is definitely more board gamey than tactical. Overall, it’s neat but it is very slowly paced. Battles against a couple of goblins take a while. And some of it is oddly opaque, I’m still not quite sure how some of the effects work.

I really want Diablo III for one of the HD consoles, the demo was good. Just can’t bring myself to buy a $60 game anymore, and Gamefly hasn’t sent it yet.

I’m going to check out Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 or whatever…never played any of them.



I’ll probably play Infinity Blade III next week. Or I may just wait until I get a 5S. I dunno.


On the Comics Rack

For some idiotic reason, I listened to a friend of mine that I talked comics with at Dragon Con and read through hundreds of pages of the manga series Attack on Titan. He said it was awesome, different, weird, etc. Apparently it’s a big deal among manga fans and there’s a show.

Well, the premise is really interesting. Vague postapocalyptic setting. Mankind reduced to living in these concentric walls. Walls that are made to keep GIANTS out.  These giants are creepy, deformed humans with no sex organs, sometimes skinless, sometimes eerily grinning, sometimes emitting some kind of steam or vapor because they’re really hot to touch. There’s not an explanation for them, at least as far as I read. All they want to do is to converge on humans and eat them. It’s actually pretty freaky- kind of a Cronus devouring his young/fairy tale kind of freaky. Since it’s Japanese, there is of course a duty-bound bunch of teenagers organized by authorities to fight them. This is where it starts to get stupid. They use these crazy grapple weapons  to grapple around and slice the back of their necks. That’s neat and all, but the teenage stuff with servile, militant teens making speeches and hollering a lot gets old REALLY fast. Note that I said I read hundreds of pages of this- that accounts for maybe 2000 words.

Started reading “Demon in a Bottle” because I never have. So far, it’s pretty silly what with a hillbilly living on an island made of Vibranium or whatever. Tony’s not drunk yet, hopefully it picks up.


On the Screen

OMFG, I loved Star Trek: Into Darkness. I thought it was the perfect follow-up to the first film (which I also loved), it hit all the right notes and brought forward the best of its predecessors. Character work across the board was spot-on again thanks to great casting and a well-defined and unironic fondness for the source material evidenced by the writers. I did feel that Sulu got a little short-changed this time out, even when he takes the captain’s chair in a bit of subtle foreshadowing. I loved the in media res intro, which really sells the idea that this is just one adventure of many that the crew have had since the last film, and I loved the excitement and energy.

It’s funny that Cumberbatch’s character was under such secrecy but then there on the back of the DVD, it says flat out who he is. It’s probably not a spoiler or surprise to anyone at this point anyway. I thought he was simply awesome, a total intellectual and physical bad ass. I think he really captured *****’s savagery and sophistication as well as his coolly seductive type of evil.

The playful remixing of some iconic Trek moments was perfect. I would have loved to have seen it in a theater when Spock delivers THAT LINE…I was hollering down in the living room.

Great action across the board- cool space battles, some really well done gunfights, lots of drama and all-or-nothing tension. Terrific comedy work, particularly by Pegg and his alien buddy.  In all, I’d say it’s probably the second best Trek movie ever made, I did like it better than the first and I liked it better than all of the original films except for Wrath of Khan, of course.

And I LOVE that it calmly sets up the threequel for introducing a full-on war with the Klingon empire. We finally got to see ‘em, and they were awesome. Can not wait for the next one- or Abrams’ take on Star Wars for that matter.


On Spotify

Arcade Fire’s new single “Reflektor” is stunning- a 7+ minute disco epic with all of the sweep and drama you should by now expect from this bunch. It’s produced by James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) and you can totally hear him on the deck- killer four-on-the-floor beat, pinging synths, jagged guitar lines, and a mirrorball-friendly atmosphere. Very excited about the record, which comes in October. The Anton Corbjin video is really good too.

But listening to that, I wandered back over to “The Suburbs” and listened to it some more. Well, let me reframe that. I liked to “Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains)” about 500 times this week. That song completely blows me away and I think it may be their best to date. The lyrics in particular capture a certain sense of 21st century dissatisfaction-

“Living in the sprawl, dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains, and there’s no end in sight, I need the darkness someone please cut the lights”.

There Will Be Games
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

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.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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