Thursday, July 20, 2017

Signal Boost: Trumptopia

So, a European publisher that put out a collection of anti Trump stories was going to put out a collection of stories from the other side as well, calling it Trumptopia. Now, I would have been amused by this, even if there hadn't been any controversy involved. But, the publisher had other ideas about the cover:

Fast forward to a couple of months ago, Kathy Griffin’s severed head scandal happens just as the publisher releases the cover for this “positive” anthology. Want to guess what was on the cover? Yup, severed heads in jars.
That caused a bit of an uproar by several of the authors who thought it was a bad idea, myself included. We privately took our objections to the editor who took them to the publisher. I offered to both the authors and the editor to draft a new cover so that the project could move forward. In the mean time, the project was cancelled by the publisher.

Read the rest here.

 Long story short, Superversive Press(through an imprint) is going to publish it. And who can resist the Triggering that goes with that cover?

Well, maybe these creatures could.

Just a reminder.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.10

Cower not, fierce reader! Last week there was a flood of new works from authors previously featured here. I have now finished most of that deluge and am pleased to present to you a fine library to upset the fragile. There's a good bit of misf here, so watch your back!

Albion Lost: the Exiled Fleet by Richard  Fox- This one's got a rich backstory, and a lot of threads that tie together. In fact, my only real complaint was how long it to to get the storylines to meet at all. If you want worlds tied to old Earth nations, this is a good choice. Major crime: Royalty that is good, and trained to be so.7 of 10 fell deeds.

Winged Hussars by Mark Wandrey- The fourth entry in the 4 hoursemen universe, and the second by Wandrey, the Hussars are the most mixed company so far, and this gives us a chance to have some more personal glimpses of the races. I can get making the Flatar likeable, but Wandrey had me caring about the blasted Tortantula. Major crimes: conspiracies, heroism, and forgiveness. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

Brutal by James Alderdice(David J. West)- It's tagged as a grimdark fantasy book. I don't know that I would call it grimdark, but I would call it fun. I will admit I figured out major plot points 2 chapters in, but it was still a lot of fun to see unfold. Major crime: Heroism and goodness don't have to look like it at first. 8 of 10 fell deeds

Galaxy's Edge: Galactic Outlaws by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach- More realistic glimpses of #starwarsnotstarwars.Including sudden deaths, and a long link back to the first book. I'm curious, but not chomping at the bit to see the next installment. (I prefer Flash Gordon.) Major crime: Making money without the Mouse's approval. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

Out of the Soylent Planet by Robert Kroese- Rex Nihilo book three, which takes place when Sasha and Rex first met up. We've got comedy to a fine point, and more references than you can throw a boot at. Major crime: mistrust of corporations 8 of 10 fell deeds. 

In other news, I added another shirt to the shop:

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Adventure! boardgames to fill the gap.

Adventure boardgames have been around for a lonng time. And these days, it seems like every big game company has one, and some of the smaller ones do, as well. Why not capture the great stuff of an RPG at the table without having to get the same group every time?

Here's an informative video about one of Games Workshop's old adventure games that is currently not in print:

Thanks to jimfear138.

So let's get to a few of these:

Fantasy Flight Games has a LOT of these. Descent and Runebound for fantasy gamers, Imperial Assault for Star Wars fans, an entire Arkham Files line for Cthulu fans(who may or may not have read Lovecraft), and has til recently had the Games Workshop boardgame rights, producing the recent editions of Talisman, Warhammer Quest, and others.

Games Workshop has and has had a large number of these games over the years. Recently, they came back into the boardgame market with another Warhammer Quest game, and some standalone games that intro to their minis games.

Flying Frog has a Weird Western game called Shadows of Brimstone, which has two large base games, and a lot of expansions.

There's a series of D&D adventure games, I think they're up to four or five large boxes now, crammed with decent minis, and at least a couple had good adventures. These have largely preprogrammed movement and actions for the monsters.

Mage Knight from Wizkids games has a lot of people liking it, though there's a lot of moving parts in this Vlaada Chvatil game.

Gloomhaven and Kingdom Death both have a lot of Kickstarter buzz with them. Gloomhaven is by far the more general market game, while Kingdom Death is not for children. and possibly some adults.

Catacombs is an interesting take on the dm vs. all option, in that it's a dexterity game, somewhat in the same family as Flick 'Em Up! 

       Gelatinous Cube gets fed!

Mice and Mystics is the most family friendly entry here. You're playing as the king's heroes after they've been turned into mice by an evil wizard. Try to avoid the cats and bats, get the cheese, and save the king.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game- This deckbuilding series currently has four different base sets, each their own campaign. These games do require a regular group, and buying a lot of small expansions, for more adventures, and characters. I'd post a pic, but as it's all card piles, it won't pass much on to the reader.

There are others, of course, but this is a decent list to look at if you like the idea of RPGs, but nobody you play with wants to run a game, especially the fully coop games.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Friday, July 14, 2017

GenCon 2017 New Release Preview

While there's no way I'll get all the interesting games that will show up this year, I'm going through the preview list on BGG and picking out what I think are the standouts. I'm not sure the list is done yet, but it's a good start.

Custom Heroes from AEG- Takes the card modifying mechanic from Mystic Vale and ads it to a trick taking "climbing" game. I think I  might need to do some posts on mechanics, in part because of this game.

Lovecraft Letter from AEG- Yeah, it's two of the biggest bandwagons together. It has an interesting idea for madness, though.

Whistle Stop from Bezier Games- Looks like a lighter take on some of the ideas from Age of Steam. With modular tiles and the ability to delay goods delivery, it could have some interesting play.

Catacombs and Castles from Elzra Corp.- Catacombs is an interesting coop(vs. overlord) Dungeon diver dexterity game. This is a standalone game that has team play and coop (vs overlord), serving as a faster playing introduction to the game world and system.

Legend of the Five Rings the Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games- Because most FFG Living Card Games are worth a look, and this one has a really cool past.

Hotshots from Fireside Games- A firefighting coop with a press your luck mechanic. Sounds like a Forbidden Island/Pandemic meets Can't Stop. Intriguing.

Mint Works from Five24 Labs- I like worker placement games. I'm intrigued by one that fits in a mint tin. And costs only $12.

Lazer Ryderz from Greater Than Game- A game that has template movement, variable player powers, has part Tron, and comes in VHS cases? Looks like a winner.

The Terrifying Girl Disorder from Japanime Games- It's a set collection game, but you have scoring and variable player powers based on the set you played. A lot of their games have heavy fan service art, but this appears to be an exception.

Cowboy Bebop: the Boardgame from Jasco Games- Demos only, but it looks like it's a coop that focuses on characters, not a plot external to them. 3,2, 1 Let's jam!

Sail Away from Mattel- They've long been putting out real games in Europe, and are finally doing so here. Sure, it's lighter, but pick and deliver and set collection mechanics are solid. Plus, we've got pirates to get the theme/art focused folks more into it.

Mini Rails from Moaideaes Design- This little game is an attempt to get the regular train game experience to fit inside an hour.  I've heard a lot of good things about this, and one of my biggest complaints with train games is how long they can take for what they do.

Tulip Bubble from Moaideaes Design- A market speculation and set collection game with auctions based on the Dutch Tulip Bubble? I'm interested; I've read Dumas' The Black Tulip.

The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 from Project Raygun- Another demo only game, but large chunks of the boardgame world want to see if this was done right.

Zoo Ball from Osprey Games- It's a multiplayer sports dexterity game. Playable with families, apparently. I'd expect kids to start winning consistently once they figure it out.

Dinosaur Island from Pandasaurus Games- Yes, I mentioned this on a Kickstarter post. It's demos only from the looks of it, so you can see if the 80's tinted Jurassic Park riff is for you.

Red Scare from Pandasaurus Games- Hidden roles, decoder glasses, and commie hunting? Might be good times in a larger group game(4-10 players).

Perplext Games has another run of tiny Pack o Games. They're the size of gum packs, and some have been really cool, and the worse ones are at least interesting attempts.

Flick 'Em Up!: Dead of Winter- Two interesting game properties, this is an all plastic game. It is coop with a traitor(like Dead of Winter) and is supposed to be a bit more of the strategy game than the dexterity game.

Flip Ships from Renegade Game Studios- Yes, it's another Dex game. I'm a bit surprised by the number, and a lot of them look good. This is a sci fi coop to take down an alien mothership.

Pinball Showdown from Shoot Again Games- Auctions, set collection, and as players are pinballs, maximum speeds to score. I bizarrely want to try this.

The Climbers from Capstone Games- A game of climbing wooden blocks(as opposed to a trick taking game), with one use ladders for each player.

Between Two Cities: Capitals from Stonemaier Games- The base game plays like an inverse of 7 Wonders, and this adds a bunch of flavor and options.

Wartime: the Battle of Valyance Vale from Wizkids- First, I'm really surprised they're going back to GenCon. Second, a two player wargame with a sandtimer basis sounds really cool. Realtime wargaming comes to the tabletop. Huh.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 from Zman Games- Supposedly it's only for demos this GenCon, but it's also the kind of surprise they might like to spring on folks.

All in all, a promising list.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Injustice Book Review: No Gods, Only Daimons by Cheah Kai Wai

Cower not, fierce reader! This day, I am glad to say, my faith in Castalia House has been largely restored(see my review of Starship Liberator for details). I actually decided to try Mr. Cheah's novel based on the responses of a few friends. Anyway, let's take a look and see what darkness lies within!

In some ways quite possibly most offensive to the SocJus crowd might be the alternate religious background of this story. While very clearly fictional, it also is very much based on real world religions, with one being clearly based on Islam, and multiple being based on aspects of Christianity and also Judaic and even Pagan traditions. However, only Islam is clearly represented.

Why do I bring this up as an offense? Spoiler: the Islamic world is being run by bad guys, very similar to ISIS in fact. The spiritual beings in this world do not simply sit still, but instead are preparing for conflict, getting actors for themselves, for they would possibly break the world.

Another point of offense is the presentation of  his alternate Europe. Very much like modern Europe, parts of it are run by weak and useless capitulators, and parts by strong people that want to remain who they are. And who doesn't love Paris this time of year?


Anyway, there's also a solid and at least fairly consistent magic system, well written small combat using such, espionage, romance, and an airship. So yeah, there's not much not to like.

Oh, wait. We've got that representation of Islam bit. Yeah, we've got a bad guy with a harem, who beats his women, discards them when he's bored, and well, is a bit of a mastermind. Yeah, it's ok to not like him, he's the BAD GUY.  Ah, yes, an antagonist that is clearly evil. Hm. Nope, that doesn't work for the SocJus crowd, especially with his observance of what is clearly HIGHLY based on Islam.

My only negative criticism is that Mr. Cheah, being from Singapore, doesn't quite get all of his idioms right. That said, he does an excellent job; and there are SO many fully native speakers that don't do as well that I want to weep. While I wouldn't call it alt-history like Vox in his Dragon nominations post, I can see why it should be in the running. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Games for people that like words

That aren't Scrabble or Bananagrams. I'm not bashing these, but they're very much within the general awareness of the public. Here's some different takes for gamers and non gamers alike.

Rory's Story Cubes- These are very much not a gamer game. Rather, they are a creativity tool. There are three basic large sets(9 dice) and three small sets(3 dice), as well as a couple of themed sets. Each die has different symbols, grab a few and write a story or poem with them.

Bring your own book- Yep. It's a party game. AND a Cards against Humanity ripoff. I absolutely should HATE this game, but it's one twist not only makes it tolerable, but rather fun. Each player brings a book, the cards tell you what to look for; the books will also pass around, so everyone has a shot at the same quality of quotes.

Paperback- This is the first of the hobby games I'm going to talk about. This is a deckbuilder and a word game. If you've played Dominion, think of that, and add Scrabble on top. So, spelling is essential. Wild cards are also your VP cards, and while you want them, they also reduce what you can buy, so be careful not to buy too many low cost ones.

Word Domination- I haven't had a chance to play this one yet, but in some ways it's part territory claiming, part Boggle/Scrabble. Your letters don't need to be adjacent, but you will get more points for controlling contiguous space at the end. Special abilities incentivize making words with more difficult letters. And, your control pieces are zeppelins!

Anyway, that's a good selection for now.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Conventions: What Walker gets wrong

Bradford C. Wallker has, over the course of many posts, stated his belief that cons are useless and not worth attending. Here's his one on CONvergence.  It's worth a read, and definitely has a number of good points regarding the internet being a great replacement overall.

However, there is one part where I have to disagree, and that's the socialization aspect. If you're talking a con where it's all people within an hour, then yes, he's right, you don't care enough to see them. But, and this is a big one, it ignores the cross country(and more) spread that our communities have, including the pulprev and superverversive crowds.

Here's the thing. I was at LibertyCon(don't look for my name, it's not there), and I, from Illinois, got to meet the following: Declan Finn(NYC), Dawn Witzke(Souix City, IA), Russell and Morgon Newquist(Huntsville, AL), Hans Schantz (also Huntsville), Jon Del Arroz(Bay Area, CA), Dan Humphreys, Matthew Bowman, and more. I don't have anywhere near the income or vacation time from my job to do that kind of travel. This is a BIG factor for those of us in the lower classes.

Oh, yeah, we interact online, but the fact is, it's not the SAME. LC let us meet, chat, hang out, and just BE together. While you don't necessarily need a convention to do this kind of thing, it enables this more easily than trying to arrange things altogether. Here's why:

1. The Con has a location already picked out. There's no bickering over type of vacation, or what part of the country. There might be some over which con, but then, authors involved might have more influence than others.

2. Guess what? You've also got the the date picked out if you have a con. Just make sure you can get the vacation time.

Now, if you don't have that kind of cross section that's really hard to get to see, then yes, Bradford has a point. And yes, panels, readings etc. are getting to where they can be handled much better as podcast/streaming events.

So, if you want to go to a con, make sure that there's value for you.  If that's a limited release, or networking (authors/game designers), or a group of friends to meet, that may indeed be the value for you. But, make sure it's there before you commit.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.