Here’s Where the Fun Begins

This year is the 40th Anniversary of the Star Wars franchise first launching back in 1977. I feel it’s only appropriate that I make a million Star Wars posts this year.

Or at least one. Let’s talk about my love affair with the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG. Continue reading

Roll Call: Skills to Pay Bills

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I have been playing tabletop RPGs for a while now. I have read through many different systems and have tried even more. Over the years, I have gotten many of my friends involved in this hobby, one which I personally feel is immensely valuable and enriching. Because of my experience, my friends who are joining or even building new campaigns will often ask me for advice on starting up. Of all the advice I can give, there is always one that I consistently make sure to give: Use skill checks whenever possible. Continue reading

Roll Call: Avoiding the Dreaded Tavern

Whether you play RPGs or not, you have more than likely heard the standard cliche of how an RPG commences: All the players just happen to be in a Tavern, either at their own accord when something eventful goes down, or summoned there by some benefactor with a very special quest. The heroes then bound together to accomplish goals, slay monsters and loot the bejesus out of any poor sap that gets in their line of sight.

For real, though…. That scenario sucks ass. Continue reading

The Loser’s Dogma

I don’t understand people that act out when they lose.

I get competitiveness and the urge to win. It’s more the people that play a harmless game with friends and get moody when they lose or even think they’re losing.

I say this knowing full well I have been that person numerous times, but that’s mainly because my wife is supposed to love me and not SCREW ME OVER WHY ARE YOU PLAYING THAT CARD I WAS ABOUT TO WIN I CANT BELIEVE YOU WOULD DO THIS TO ME YOU BI-

ahem

sorry.

Seriously, though. Some of the most fun I’ve had playing games, board or video variety, have been when I no longer have to worry about winning.

Let me tell you about the first time I played the game Talisman.

Continue reading

Holy Lack of Strong Female Characters, Batman!

So, I told myself I would never do video game reviews beyond the goofy lists of retro games I plan to do from time to time.

However, this fundamentally bothered me.
(Warning: Long Post)

Now, two early warnings here:
First, SPOILERS, obviously. I will be discussing fairly big plot points in the game Batman: Arkham Knight. If you don’t want the fates of certain characters ruined, don’t read until you’ve played.
Second, elements of this review will dip into an argument of feminism. I know the stigma this type of critical view has taken on the internet. Know this is less of a all-encompassing philosophical dogma for me and more just a critical scope with which to present this argument and observe media. Not that I don’t support feminism, but I feel it, as with any and all “isms,” has its merits, its uses, and its validity based on context.

Anywho, let’s dive in head first.

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My Top Spider-Man Video Games: Part 1

Spider-Man is in many ways one of the most recognizable superheroes ever produced. This is interesting when you consider that most of us find little enjoyment in watching/reading about a pasty nerd from Queens as he deals with life, girls and bullies. Even more repulsive is the thought of this whiny dork confronting life’s woes through a thin veil of bright red spandex. However, mix in some tasty spidery powers and a healthy dose of wise-cracking/face-punting and we will gladly overlook all levels of bitchery and bulging nerd crotch.

We love Spider-Man. If you claim to not love Spider-Man, you are probably doing so just for attention. If you are friends with someone who claims to not love Spider-Man, take it as a cry for help and set up a time to hold an intervention to discover the root of their issues and what is causing them to act-out lately. Because ultimately any argument about this character comes down to one main conclusion: EVERYONE LOVES SPIDER-MAN. There are simply varying degrees of love, but there is no hate or “do not love.” This is mainly because, like Batman (who is also immune to your hatorade), Spider-Man is one of the easiest superheroes in town for us to relate to. When we watch or read about Pete flying around, kicking reptiles in the teeth or porking red-heads, we see ourselves. Spider-Man represents basic social and coming-of-age issues that we have all experienced. Even all his baddies (which are all so freaking insane) can all be seen as metaphors for common life concerns, such as duality or paranoia. It’s what would happen if Neil Gaiman just got crazy high one day and started rewriting excerpts of a middle-schooler’s MySpace page. We love Spider-Man because he is still primarily founded in the real world. The real world plays a indispensable role in almost all of his plots and is even, one could say, his arch-nemesis. He isn’t like Superman or Captain America, who have mixed the real world with their criminal-dick-punching lifestyle. He works to find balance and stresses over scheduling issues. He misses classes and fails tests. He has to set up dates around his busy work schedule, all while finding the time to judo flip some fat dimwit who’s running around in rhino pajamas.

This love of Spidey has led to endless stories and reincarnations in comics, toys, movies, cartoons and, of course, video games. Over the years, Spidey’s appearance in video games has achieved a bit of infamy, due to the sheer amount of all the games. Many of these games can come out feeling cheesy or rushed. Many take on a zany feel, looking like someone took a completely unrelated game and slapped Spider-Man on it straight Doki Doki Panic style in order to cash in on the Spider-Market. However, the Web Head has been the focal point of many a good game, and I intend on bringing what I feel are the best to light.

Now, I honestly cannot find a way to rank these, as they are all so different. Thus, I am going to list them in chronological order instead. Just keep that in mind.

Spider-Man: The Video Game

Starting this bitch out old-school. For the kiddies in the room, video games once came in giant boxes found in places known as “arcades.” This wonderful arena for the virginal were where we would have to go in order to get some of the more intense gameplay and better graphics in video games at the time. When I myself was a wee lad, I enjoyed the crap out of this particular game when I would visit my local arcade. Granted, the machine I played it on was already probably about 2 years old, being that I didn’t evolve into my gaming motor skills until around 1993. This console premiered in 1991 and was produced by an obscure company named SEGA. It was also fantastically well received and is often mentioned as one of the better arcade adventure games of all time.

The game was a side-scrolling beat-em-up with all the finesse of a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. The point was simple: walk to the right, occasionally jumping on or over stuff in order to reach the end of the level and uppercut the boss square in his nefarious nuts. As you progressed, you would be barraged by a plethora of multi-colored thugs, each color signifying that the baddy will have a different ability/pain tolerance. Occasionally, the screen pulls out and you are left jumping on tiny platforms and avoiding falling debris before you land safely on a larger platform surrounded by colorful whooping ninjas.

Similar to Streets of Rage or, my personal favorite, The Simpsons Arcade game, you have the choice of selecting one of four separate characters. One of my favorite aspects of this game is the character choice. Obviously, you can choose Spider-Man, as well as his feline-themed lust-mongering friend, Black Cat. I always thought the other two choices were interesting. Instead of throwing down the boring card and utilizing one or two X-Men or even Captain America, this game adds Hawkeye and Submariner into the roster. True, Submariner was much more popular back in the 90’s than he is today and both characters had a tendency to work with Spidey now and then, as did quite a few characters in the Marvel Universe. I just think it’s interesting that they selected either of these characters to introduce here during a time when Spider-Man and the X-Men were the big ticket items. Seems like putting them together could make for a game that is both absurd and obviously trying to suckle at the “Kids will buy what looks cool” teat…*

*Foreshadowing

Continue reading

More Like BORED Games…

Let’s face facts, the classics never die, but they also never really improve to awesome. There’s only so many times you play 6 hours of Monopoly only to land on someone’s Boardwalk with like fifty hotels as they smirk and go “uh oh, I don’t think you’ll have enough” and all you want to do is punch them in their stupid face but you can’t because it’s your nephew and he’s like 5, which stings even more.

Well, as my continuing attempt to improve the world, I have come up with a few variations on classic games to make them, I don’t know… more… creative, I suppose. (Note: These are probably more enjoyable with booze)

Here it is. My List of Variations on Classic Boardgames (that there’s a Google line, yessir):

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Co-opoly:

  • Need: One copy of Monopoly (any variation), 4 or 6 players, two unclaimed game pieces (two different coins would also work)
  • Summary: Players will form businesses and acquire property from a collective pool of money. A randomly controlled piece will represent the fluctuating nature of the economy, and ultimately screw some people over.
  • Rules:
  • Split into two/three teams of two.
  • Divvy out the money as per the core Monopoly rules, giving each player the designated amount of bills, however each teammate’s money will ultimately be combined to form that team’s money pool.
  • Come up with goofy team names, preferably representing your business name.
  • Each player needs their own game piece despite being on a team. They will move across the board individually and be able to buy property and whatnot on their own. However, their money for these activities will come from their team money, meaning it would be important for them to discuss any acquisitions with their business partner.
  • NOTE: This is why it is important for team money to be combined, despite players still moving and acting individually.
  • Team order should progress so that one member of each team goes before the member of the other team. Thus, with two teams, the order would be ABAB, and with three it would be ABCABC
  • The game proceeds like normal, going until only one business is not bankrupt or until players are bored and it’s 5 in the morning.
  • There are three main rule changes:
  • Jail- If one player ends up in jail, they are in there for some sort of corporate fraud or insider trading. As such, their teammate is an accomplice. The player in jail has three rounds to roll doubles with no option to pay a $50 fine to get out of jail. After those three rounds, their partner joins them in jail as an accomplice. Both players now have three rounds to get out of jail or can pay a joint ($50 x 2 = $100) fine. One player may not leave jail without the other, so if one player decides to skip the rolling, he must also post bail for his partner. If they fail to roll doubles after three rounds, they have to play the $100 fine.
  • Swedish Bank Account- If a player lands on any space that provides them with money (I.E. Chance Cards, Passing “GO,” Free Parking, Etc.) They have the option to set aside any portion of this money as their “luxury fund.” Essentially, this money can come in and out of play at that players leisure and represents their personal bank account. All payments for property tax and whatnot will come directly from the company’s funds, but the players with private accounts can supplement their company’s account as they see fit. At the end of the game, if a player’s company goes belly up and she has more personal funds than her teammate, then she gets the pleasure of having lost less than her partner and can rub it in his face that he’s in the poor house and she is sipping pina coladas in Maui. There is little benefit to the private accounts except to help regulate funds, keep money from an over-eager partner, and to have some sweet bragging points to ruin a friendship. However, if a player’s partner feels that person is setting aside too much and not investing back into their company, they can have that person arrested for laundering. The whole thing goes to court, which is represented by both players rolling a D6. If the defendant rolls higher, they have to pay a $200 payment for lawyer fees, but ultimately get off scot-free. However, if the accuser rolls higher, then the defendant goes to jail for D6 turns and all their private account is dispersed, with half going into the bank and half going to charity funds (Free Parking). The company has to pay $100 to the bank for lawyer fees.
  • Boom and Recession- These economic cycles are represented by the two unclaimed game pieces on the board. The Boom piece moves anytime doubles are rolled (even if rolled by a player in jail). It moves the amount rolled. If Boom lands on a space owned by a player it provides that player with 2D6 x 10 dollars (for example, if it rolls a 5, the company gets $50). On a roll of doubles, that player can chose to either A) take $$$, B) place a house on that space for half price or C) take a chance card. If Boom lands on a space with a player, that player receives $200, like passing GO. The Recession piece moves every time a 6 is rolled. Unlike the Boom, the Recession rolls a separate movement die, which is one D6. If the Recession lands on a place owned by a player company, that company loses 2D6 x 10 dollars (for example, if it rolls a 5, the company loses $50). On a roll of doubles, disaster has occurred and the space loses one house in addition to the amount displayed on the dice (if a space has a hotel, it is reverted down to four houses). If the Recession lands on the same space as a player, that player loses 1D6 x 100 (so, on a roll of 5, that player loses $500). On a roll of 6, the company is being audited and players can either A) pay the $600 or B) go to jail.

Jules Winnfield the Game:

  • Needs: A Copy of Guess Who, 2/4 players, booze
  • Summary: Players compete in a charades style game of Guess Who, where the only thing they can ask is “Does he look like a bitch?” with different body language and inflection to accompany.
  • Rules:
  • Game plays exactly like a game of guess who, where opposing players take turns trying to guess the character that the other player selected by asking relevant questions.
  • However, these players are all taking the role of Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction and can thus only ask the all important question “Does he look like a bitch?”
  • It’s up to them to use proper inflection and body language to relay what their actual questions is, and it’s up to the person across from them to understand it.
  • Play continues until one player reduces their board to all but one character. They then shout “DOES Character Name LOOK LIKE A BITCH!” If they are correct, they win. If they are wrong, they lose.
  • A 3rd and 4th player may be added as teammates who work as spotters to streamline the game a bit. These spotters will sit with the opponent of their team and watch. If at any point the opponent drops the tile for the character your team has selected, the spotter will call it out and the opponent automatically loses. The addition of the spotter is simply to end the game early if there is any miscommnication.
  • This game will most DEFINITELY result in a lot of people not guessing correctly. It’s more fun for the rare chance that someone actually succeeds.
  • With the above note, this would probably be more fun with alcohol involved.

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Anti-Trust-Opoly:

  • Needs: Two copies of Monopoly, 4-6 players
  • Summary: Players compete with one person (representing the Big Corporation) has considerably more funds and resources than the others
  • Rules:
  • Decide who will be playing the Big Corporation; all other players will be the Small Businesses
  • Divvy out the money to all the Small Businesses as per the Monopoly rules. The Big Corporation player will get X times the starting amount, where X equals the amount of Small Businesses (Thus, if there are 4 Small Business players, the Big Corporation starts with 4 times the starting amount). This is why you need two copies of monopoly, because you will probably need to let the Big Corporation player have his own set money.
  • Remove all “get out of jail free” cards from the decks
  • Each Small Business starts with one randomly selected property in their control. The Big Corporation player should be the one to shuffle and distribute these properties.
  • The Big Corporation will always go first and the play order proceeds clockwise from that player
  • Jail- if the Big Corporation goes to jail, they follow the same rules as found in classic Monopoly. If the Small Businesses go to jail, they have three turns to roll doubles. If they fail, they must give a property (randomly selected) to the Big Corporation. If they do not have any property, they are considered bankrupt and are out of the game.
  • The Big Corporation wins if they own X complete sets of properties, where X equals the original number of Small Businesses. A complete set is when a player owns every card in a particular color, railroad or utility.
  • If a player is knocked out of the game, the Big Corporation DOES NOT now have to collect one less complete set. The number is based on how many Small Businesses were present AT START OF GAME
  • The Big Corporation CANNOT include the two utilities as their complete sets. They may still buy these, but they cannot win with them.
  • The Big Corporation also wins if all Small Businesses are bankrupted.
  • The Small Businesses win if they bankrupt the Big Corporation or if each Small Business owns a complete set and can hold on to them for three rounds. In other words, once the last Small Business to acquire a complete set purchases their last needed card, it must make it fully around the turn order to that person three times without a) a Small Business losing a property b) the Big Corporation gaining the required amount of complete sets. The person who was last to complete a set will be the last player to go.
  • If one person is knocked out of the game, and the remaining businesses all have complete sets, this begins the win scenario. The three turns will begin with the next Small Business player to go after the player is eliminated.
  • The Small Businesses CAN include the Utilities as their complete sets.
  • If at any point a Small Business manages to meet the win condition for the Big Corporation, their business has become a Big Corporation and immediately defeats all other players (i.e. if a Small Business collects X complete sets, they have ousted the original Corporation as dominant and instantly win the game, screwing over the smaller, weaker businesses that once were their compatriots).
  • NOTE: Though small businesses are technically on a team, they are still REQUIRED to pay when landing on another player’s property. They may be friends, but this is business, people…

Reflecting on Life:

  • Needs: One copy of The Game of Life
  • Summary: Now aged and resting, players reminisce on their lives leading up to their current situation.
  • Rules:
  • The focus of this game is more to be narrative and silly than have a defined winner and loser
  • Players take on the roles of elderly people sitting around a table reminiscing about their lives.
  • At the start of the game, each player selects a piece, randomly chooses an occupation, and selects how many kids they want or if they have a spouse, and randomly selects a house.
  • Play proceeds as is usual in this game, except players will be moving backwards across the board, starting at what is typically the finish.
  • Players need to be in character and narrate as things happen in their lives. All cards involving career or housing change happen in reverse (i.e. changing jobs, you will explain why you went from being a doctor [your new card] to being a plumber [your starter card])
  • Any acquisition of large sums of money must also come with a story of how you lost that money in the past.
  • Landing on marriage or child related spaces result in a loss of that family piece.
  • The fun of this game comes from the stories you make up and the fact that INEVITABLY something won’t match up. Say, for instance, someone starts with only two kids, but then draws lands on ANOTHER kid space, having no kids to remove. This should be narrated with some sort of funny anecdote like “A yes, my eldest child, Bernie. I try to forget about Bernie. On account of his tastes in men. Or something to that effect.
  • This is more a narrative, role playing type game akin to Fiasco and other freeform RPG’s. Players should feel free to go crazy and have fun with their characters.

I might have more at some point, but this is all for now. Get out there and play!

~C

My Favorite Games Right Now

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Not a creative title, I know. Look, sometimes you have to sacrifice wit for SEO.

Well, fine, I didn’t know you felt that way. Then go! No one’s stopping you!

Sorry you had to see that, guys. They’ll be back. They always come back.

Anywho, imaginary conversations with invisible people aside, I wanted to today share  some of my favorite tabletop board/card games that I have played so far. I’ve been addicted to games lately and working in a gaming/comic shop hasn’t helped. I have collected a bunch of games over the past… year… wow, it’s really only been about a year or so that I’ve been buying up games… I have a problem…

I don’t necessarily own all these games and some I’ve only played once but had a great time doing so. I’ll list pros and cons of each and give a brief review of my experience.

Here goes. My Top 6 Games I’ve Played (in no particular order):


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