Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Game Review: Jump Drive

So I picked up Jump Drive about a week ago. For those that aren't aware of the title, it's a standalone and faster game set in the Race for the Galaxy universe. This is more about the artwork, iconography, and gameplay than things like storyline. There is far more story to the other games(especially with expansions) than this, as this is a really fast game.

Here's an endgame tableau:

Now some that know the game are thinking Race is already fast. The more you expand it, the less that's true. This also has the advantage of having less actions to choose from. Yes, that's an advantage here.Because about halfway through, your choices kind of explode.

We still have simultaneous action selection. Each turn, the players have a few options: explore, build an improvement, settle/conquer a planet, or build and settle/conquer. In place of an improvement, there are also some cards(1/player) available for cheap every game(limit 1/player).

Ok, the explore action. You draw based on your explore icons(plus 2), and then discard equal to your explore icons. This is from your whole hand, not just what you drew, so everything can get swapped, and you get 2 more cards. And, the number of explore actions available is a shared pool, so in a full game, it COULD run out(I doubt it).

The solo build/planet actions have their own advantages. For building an improvement, you pay one less card. After you conquer/settle a planet, you draw a card. If you do both, you pay full cost(though the improvement can affect the planet), and don't draw.

How fast does the game move? Everything is scored each turn, so stuff continually scores for you. Games will last from likely 5-9 turns, depending on card draw and player choices, from what I've seen so far. There's a number of different engine options to build, and I know I haven't seen them all yet. Part of me wants one expansion, just to take it to a possible 6 players from the four max currently.

If you dig Race, but it's too long for some in your group, I'd suggest this as a fast option. It will take no more than a half hour, and that's with analysis paralysis.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Injustice Book Review: At the Highways of Madness by David J. West

Cower not, fierce reader! This day, we have a collection of madness from Mr. West. First, we have the titular novella, followed by a selection of short stories in other weird settings, including one in his Porter Rockwell series. Let's lose our minds and see what Injustice Mr. West has committed!

Our novella was originally published in the anthology Redneck Eldritch. Which I have in my reader somewhere, I just haven't made it to reading the thing yet. Anyway, our main characters are a pair of truckers and a woman of certain, unusual qualities, shall we say. The truckers are portrayed well, if somewhat comically. They are oft misquoting or misattributing quotes, are blunt if well meaning, and don't care for the government and it's secrets. Yes, these are our protagonists.

And, if you like monstergirls(jimfear138), well, this story has a little more for you. We've also got some interesting interactions with the Dreamlands, and the forces of one of the Old Ones involved. There's a nice bit of playing around with space and time when dealing with Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, and a bit of fun with truckers trying stupid stuff that might just work.
Major crime: Do I really need to point out that we've redneck truckers as two of the main characters?

Onto the short stories.

Baptism by Fire- This is a story of a recruit's first day at a top secret facility. And, I'm not going to give away more than that, because you should have fun seeing what's at the edge of his sight yourself. Major crime: That would give it away. I'm a jerk

Garden of Legion- This is our Porter Rockwell story. It's got two parts to it, the first being a setup for the Porters involvement. let me say, you might  never look at tumbleweeds in the same manner again. Major crime: Redemption, and battling demons.

One Thousand One Nights Unseen- We have another somewhat military tale, this one actually fitting a operational style story. Yes, weird things happen in the Saudi desert. Let's just say the Bedouin have good reason to keep on the move. Major crime: Some of the forces out there aren't aligned against us.

The Cry of the Carrion Birds- Ok, this story is a bit creepy. There's a backstory that we can only guess at, but has caused trauma and social difficulty. Their new isolation creates madness, and one must accept madness or be devoured by it. Caw, caw. Major crime: A husband's devotion.

Gods in Darkness- We've a story in an odd alt history setting. The Cold War became a bit of a Space War, and we are treated to a beyond clandestine operation. The ultimate question remains: Who does one serve? Major crime: Patriotism.

All in all, this is a lot of fun, and there are great moments here to laugh and shiver at. When you feel like you're losing your mind, I commend you try this selection of vaccination. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

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.