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?



Right.

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.


Injustice Book Review: The Hymn of the Pearl by Brian Niemeier

Cower not, fierce reader! This fine day we are looking at Mr. Niemeier's latest work. And while I'm far from the first to review this work, I've got to throw my two cents in. This will have some spoilers, as I'm going a little more critical than normal.

First,  there's the magic system(s). There are two schools here, both of which manipulate various aspects of fate. This manipulation incurs "nemein", a cosmic force which attracts misfortune. The proximity to the author's name leads me to wonder what he may have attempted to bring the life of an author upon himself.

Now, the older group, the Advocates, had a covenant with the gods that would absolve the nemein incurred from their manipulation of the fates. The Arbiters, on the other hand, do not believe in the gods, but instead transfer the nemein into animals called telesma, usually a livestock animal.  The Advocates undertake causes for their worthiness, while Arbiters generally do so for monetary reward.

Magic aside, this is an interesting reflection of the two sides of the Biblical role and life of priests. One side, the Advocate, intervenes because it is his duty, and stands between men and the gods for the evil they have caused. The other, the Arbiter, performed sacrifices and other acts on behalf of the people, transferring the punishment for their sin into a sacrifice, usually for some value exchange.

Second, there's a double impetus for this tale. The first is an ancient wrong and revenge, all setup within the Prologue. The other is a pair (one Arbiter, one Advocate) setting out to stop a war which would threaten to reshape the world.

The interesting play is that to some extent, these are bound tightly together. That is, that the first ultimately sets up the more contemporary adventure. I've seen a couple of good authors pull this off in fantasy stories. I don't think I've seen them tied together so well as Brian does here.

There are other socio-political aspects that might interest others more. There's a great amount of politics that one could explore, as well as the sociological implications of the religion fallen out of favor. Essays could be written just off of the richness of these issues, even from the limited view we get of these cases.

I don't know I want Brian to write more in this world, but I want to see him do more fantasy novellas.

9 of 10 fell deeds

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Injustice Anthology Review: A Fistful of Credits

Cower not, fierce reader! I am safely returned from LibertyCon and have already begun my readings from the weekend. This is one regret of my con: I neglected to grab a copy and get the authors there to sign it. But, there's plenty here to digest, so let's get to the feast!

The book opens with a well written Preface by Chris Kennedy, and a Foreword by Chuck Gannon. Both are engaging and fun, but Gannon knows we aren't there for him, so get on to the stories.

The Last Alpha by Mark Wandrey- This is an interesting tale of a long delayed return home. There's gangs, corruption, and urban renewal at its finest. Complete with a family reunion of sorts.

Breach of Contract by Terry Mixon- A little story of revenge, espionage, and sibling rivalry. This is the first story we see the Peacemakers appear.

Paint the Sky by Jason Cordova- Mr. Cordova knocks it out of the park with a story of a desperate merc company with few resources and fewer men, just starting out. It turns to a more personal story as the mercs learn the true extent of the protection mission, becoming a matter of honor.

Surf and Turf by Jon R. Osborne- Here we meet Bjorn and his Berserkers, filling a garrison contract on a pleasant ocean world that has a lot of species on it, including a sizable human community. It opens with a glimpse of daily life, that is, boredom.Then we get a lovely invasion attempt by giant crabs. There's some cool backstory as well.

Stand on It by Kevin Ikenberry- We've got a story of a failing company, the Marauders, getting in over their heads. The company's fate is delivered by the past, and the future of the company is sealed. Looking forward to Peacemaker, his first novel in the horsemen universe.

Lost and Found by Jon Del Arroz- We've got a company without a CASPer on an unexplored planet. They run into some undocumented settlers, and end up in a race to save both their own and the settlers from the fury of a mini monstrosity.

Gilded Cage by Kacy Ezell- We've an assassin, a druggie xenobiologist, and the depths one will go through in curiosity and recovery.

Legends by Christopher Woods- It's a series of scenes from the career of a merc leaving the life. A series of highlights of a combat legend, leaving a wake of corpses behind. Looks like it links to the future of another, bigger company, as well.

With the Eagles by Doug Dandridge- A pair of missions by a small company hired to rescue hostages from an alien group.

Dead or Alive by PP Corcoran- We've another Peacemaker story, this one being more of a bounty hunter nature.

Hide and Seek by Chris Nuttall- We've one of the more standout stories here, with a spy evading pursuit shipboard to arrive on planet. The ship's captain has to stand in her way, as well as the way of the alien ambassador demanding her arrest.

Information Overload by Charity Ayres- A story of a small ship encountering mishaps on a data delivery run. Expectations and prejudices are met, and the challenge of whom to trust is put in the path of the commander.

Enough by Chris Kennedy- A tale of a contract gone bad, implacable enemies, honor, and facing bad situations.

CASPer's Ghost by Brad Torgersen- Another mystery planet, this one the target of a hunt for fuel sources. We've got an experimental AI that's more than it seems, and  a lot of unanswered questions.

A few closing words about this anthology: It's VERY mil sf. Many of these authors have served, and bring that aspect to their writings. As a result, it's more difficult for some of these to standout among the crowd, and easier for the less military pieces, by contrast. My personal favorites were Paint the Sky, Lost and Found, Surf and Turf, Legends and Hide and Seek. I did enjoy all of the stories, but these had a more personal feel to them.

8 of 10 fell deeds

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.9

Cower not, fierce reader! We have a great collection of offenders today, including two brand new ones. Yes, I mean new TODAY. Let us look at our tomes and see their charges!

Galaxy's Edge: Legionnaire by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach- Yeah it's #StarWarsNotStarWars. Honestly, I don't care for the "real thing" these days. This was cool, it felt right. No crappy bad metaphysics, lots of cool fights, interesting aliens, and ultimately, betrayal. Major crime: Who pokes the Mouse? 8 of 10 fell deeds.

A Greater Duty by Yakov Merkin- I REALLY did not like the first quarter of the book. Then, the characters started changing, more and more. I hope his next book has folk I can like at the start, though. Politics, conquest, black ops, secret politics, and more herein. Major crime: Characters striving for redemption. 6 of 10 fell deeds

City of Corpses by John C. Wright- Moth and Cobweb. I really shouldn't have to say more but here: AWWWWWEEEEESSSSOOOOMMMME! Ok, not as good as book one, but still. Gil and Ruff have a great scene, our heroine learns more about herself, and our villains become more apparent and transparent. Major crime: Mr. Wright 9 of 10 fell deeds.

 The Recognition Run by Henry Vogel- Bits of this will have a similar feeling to those that read Sudden Rescue by Jon Mollison. There's a very different history here, and the impetus behind the story does change the nature as well as the feel of the narrative. Major crime- Rebelling against nobility, real or implied 7 of 10 fell deeds.

A Rambling Wreck by Hans Schantz-  This is a continuation from The Hidden Truth. I think enough background is there so you don't need book 1, but I'd still suggest it. Hans' writing is smoother overall, and his characters a touch more grounded. He still does retain his high levels of conceptual science(all well written), which do make some sections harder to get through. Major crime: Realistic reflection of SocJus attitudes and tactics. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.