Thursday, July 28, 2016

Prince Valiant RPG is back!

Yes, you read correctly: the Prince Valiant RPG is returning. Why do I care? Prince Valiant is an AMAZING work of art, first realized by Hal Foster. The artwork is likely some of the best in a newspaper strip, and that even continues today, with Mark Schultz writing and Thomas Yeates drawing. I am a Prince Valiant fanboy, make no mistake. The game is currently undergoing a Kickstarter campaign through August 26, 5pm Central.

So, what's the deal with this RPG? It's made to be played with younger players, or as an introductory RPG. Instead of our beloved polyhedral dice, resolutions are through a series of coin tosses. Less to teach also means you can focus more on the story. And the game is going to come with over 20 "episodes", which I take to mean modules. I don't know if they are set to be single session adventures or multiple sessions, but 20 sessions is a pretty good value right there.

My only qualm is that Monica Valentinelli is listed as one of the designers for a stretch goal episode. But, it's only one, so feel free to back the game and see if hers is any good. If not, you'll have plenty of others. There is also a printing of an update of King Arthur Pendragon available through this if Val is not your cup of tea, but you still want good knights and chivalry.

Take a look, and see if you want to join the wonder and adventure.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Killing Joke Movie

I went to see the movie adaptation of Alan Moore's The Killing Joke last night. I had seen the article on io9 of feminists attacking the film, complete with some of the dumbest comments I've ever seen; this gave me hope.

The biggest offender to the SocJustice crowd is the first 30 minutes, which are new to the film version. Batgirl started fighting crime to attract Batman, according to this. No big deal, she has to have  a reason; they seem to be fixated on the age difference and the "fact" that she's of an age with Dick Grayson.  My response to this is that ages in comics are malleable, and characters have their ages changed almost every major event, and not necessarily with relation to each other. Also, women frequently prefer older men, so what?

What about the relationship with Dick Grayson? They don't get together until well after these events, as she was definitely wheelchair bound at the time. Anyway, it's a Batman story that also happens to be a Joker story, a Jim Gordon story, and a Barbara Gordon story. Honestly, I have more issue with the fact of Batgirl sleeping around; I'd rather question the sex than the romance.  In other words, I have bigger issue with the lack of morals they've shown for years.

Also causing big problems for feminists would be the Batman line: "We're partners, but we are not equals." Oh, so Batman is faster, stronger, smarter, and better trained than she is, with better equipment, and they're supposed to be equal? No., She can't help the equipment part, but she can't keep up with him on anything else, either. Really, that's not a big deal. Nightwing is a touch shy on all of it, and he's currently the best successor. Tim Drake will pass him soon, and Damien Wayne might surpass his father IF he gets a moral compass in line. Point is, NONE of the Bat family is equal to Batman.

There's also the interaction after the one night. Batman wanted her off the case, she wouldn't listen, threw herself on him. He doesn't call, she wants to go back to being partners, etc. She gets really emotional and lashes out at men around her; in short, she acts like a woman. That triggered a few, I'm sure.

I really enjoyed the film. I thought the opening 30 minutes gave a good, emotional setup for the known part of the story. The known part was properly faithful, and had an afterword showing Oracle.  Conroy, Hamill, and Strong give great performances in their old roles and the music is decent. The musical number was just right.

One of the idiotic comments on io9 was "Why can't we have a feminist origin for Oracle?" Because, you stupid git, Bat-family is forged in tragedy, not entitlement. Heroes come out of that fire. Even Jason Todd has had his with the :Lazarus Pit; until then, he was despicable. Dick, Tim, Cassandra, Barbara, Stephanie, Helena(yes, that's murky but I'll count her as Bat-fam) all suffered and it forged their motivation for fighting.

If you found the original to be worth reading, you should consider this to be worth watching. Yes, it's a dark story. Light shines through, in Jim Gordon, Barbara Gordon, and the Bat. My takeaway was that it is our response to darkness that matters.  Now as to Alan Moore's writing, well, Razorfist has a strong opinion, and I'm slowly seeing it; that doesn't change what I think of this story. 

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

SFF and gaming and SDCC

So, firstly: the Dragon Award nominations end tomorrow. Please nominate if you haven't already. My last recommendations list is here.

Second: the voting period for the Hugo Awards ends on July 31. While I differ most notably on semipro zine and graphic story categories, Vox Day has his recommendations here. My dissent: SciPhi Journal for semipro zine, and for graphic story Invisible Republic, then Sandman: Overture.  I do take consolation in the fact that a pandering tights book won't get the Hugo this year, but in fact it likely will go to an actual piece of sff that doesn't hate its readers.

Third: GenCon is in two weeks. My list of games to check out is here. Game releases and news tend to slow a bit before the big conventions.

Four: SDCC(otherwise known as Comi-Con) was this weekend. DC showed off trailers for Wonder Woman and Justice League. Both looked good. WW didn't look like a SJW movie, but a proper Nazi fighting movie. JL looks like it might get right what BvS got wrong, and at least more fun. Flash season 3 looks like it might be a good time. Legends of Tomorrow season 2 will see the Legion of Doom. DC has 3 animated film announcements: Justice League Dark, Teen Titans: the Judas Contract, and Batman and Harley Quinn.

 Dr. Strange debuted a new trailer, and now looks interesting to me. American Gods, I don't know; it's got good actors, but I've moved on from Mr. Gaiman's work for the most part. Legion gets a meh from me; I don't care for mutants(I'd much rather see Sanderson's Legion). King Arthur looks to be divested of its source material entirely, but Guy Ritchie might have a decent movie despite that. Black Panther-I don't care. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 supposedly will have Kurt Russell. Captain Marvel- I again don't care.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Current thoughts on Scythe

I've gotten in three games now, and think I might be getting a handle on this game. Yes, I know that somebody that hates Euros got six plays in five days. I'm dealing with time constraints at my local game store, as I currently don't have a group that meets privately(there's both good and bad to this).
But, I thought that I might at least get some thoughts out on this game.

For the uninitiated, here's a synopsis from the game page:
      It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow.      The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.
Scythe (1-5 players, 115 minutes) is a board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor.

Now, let me tell you one thing Stonemaier Games doesn't do: they don't bring out revolutionary mechanics. No, they take established mechanics and tie them to the theme of the game from the start. Viticulture drips with theme(especially with Tuscany), Euphoria has distopian control of placement possibilities, and Between Two Cities give a great combination of drafting and cooperation/competition.

What does Scythe do? There's a world to explore through encounter cards; buildings, recruits,  and upgrades to make your actions more efficient; and mechs to wage war and control the world. Resources stay on hexes(can be moved by mechs), so area control is important.What's actually new here? Nothing.

But everything ties together, and the game is always moving toward an endpoint. The play is about 2 hours, and scales up to five players currently. There will be an expansion with pieces for two more players by the end of the year.

Factions and player action boards are both dealt randomly, so you might end up with a combination that seemingly doesn't work together. As there's an achievement sheet, you might try to win the game with no mech, or no additional workers.

Is the game perfect? No game is, we're all flawed. But so far, I have to say wow.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Injustice Quick Reviews 2

Cower not, fierce reader! We have a fine selection of tomes for your perusal. I've either past my finish date by a while on these, or don't feel that it would be fair to review the book by itself, if you're wondering why there's no full review. I've decided to save Cicero for a separate review.

Souldancer by Brian Neiemier- If you read Nethereal, and haven't read this, honestly, get help. By help, I mean read this. Major crime: being smarter than the SJW readers  8/10 Fell deeds.

Honor at Stake by Declan Finn- This book is why I read the Pius trilogy. There's vampires, Vatican ninjas, and violence. Oh, and the characters have a bit of a complex about their dark sides. Major crime: Catholicism is good. 9/10  Fell deeds.

City of Salt by Robert Kroese- I've seen the "SF noir writer du jour" hype, entered one of his contests, and ended up with this. This feels like A Scanner Darkly, as far as the mindscrew goes. Major crime: distrust of government and corporation. 7/10 Fell deeds.

Beyond the Mist by Ben Zwycky- I actually read this before Nobility Among Us, and it was great. An adventure story about restoration and redemption. Major crime: mercy, and forgiveness 8/10 Fell deeds.

The End of the World as we Knew It by Nick Cole- Nick writes zombie books I want to read. I don't care for zombie stories, as a rule. But the characters are excellent, their journeys great, and there's a good measure of poignancy here.  Major crime- That one needs redemption for the past. 8/10 Fell deeds.

Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright- Far from my first read of him. He's honestly moved into the spot of being my favorite living author. This book has faerie tales, lost love, deception, Arthurian knights, and more. Major crime: So many. It doesn't fit into any of the left's hate boxes. 10/10 Fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Reading slog and the wait to GenCon

I'm sure some folks are wondering why I haven't posted in a few days, and when the next book review will be(I've read they're entertaining.). So, here's my set of excuses and reasons for not being more productive.

1. Cicero's On Duty- I'm working my way through the new translation by Quintus Curtius, and it's very good. However, being a philosophy book, it's also a bit of a slog. I am working on it, and after that, I want to read a few more things, and then we'll likely see another quick review set.

2. Gameplay- Specifically, I've been playing Scythe from Stonemaier Games. It's a lot of fun, and really pretty, but I want enough plays to give a proper perspective. Also, I want to make sure I've gotten all the rules correct first.

3. Journeyman League- I also play Warmachine/Hordes, and my local area is in our first league since the new edition(which makes lots of stuff simpler). I need to do some more painting.

4. Vega Conflict- It's one of those fremium semi-casual games. There was an event this weekend, and I did better than I had in previous events. I like exploding spaceships.

5. Tossing ideas around in my head- I have an idea I need to write Diogenes Games about.  I need to develop it a bit beforehand, though. Also, I need to start looking into some fiction publishing ideas I've been thinking about(not necessarily my own).

Anyway, I've got a bit going on in my head, and haven't done enough on most of these fronts recently. These things are in addition to other life factors I'm not going to mention here, as they aren't related to anything on the blog. Just getting these written hopefully will help me get more moving.

Many thanks for all the support.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Gamer SJWs: idiocy incarnate

Thanks the the news page on BGG, I've become more aware of Formal Ferret Games and it's resident designer, Gil Hova. Well, I might have to rethink The Networks being on my GenCon list. So now, I'm going to fisk his blog entry, Women in Gaming vs.invisible ropes(This is from 2014, I apologize for my extreme lateness to the party). My comments will be in bold, his original in italics.

I’m almost done with my year-long project to record the genders of all the people I have played with.
Good for you. When did you last do something useful or edifying?
It’s an interesting project, and it gains a new and interesting context with all the awful news going on around the video game world. I guess it’s a good thing that we’re finally talking about women in gaming, although I wish it didn’t have to take death threats against some of our bravest designers in order to start the discussion.
You realize Zoe Quinn's only death threats came from herself at that time? The real ones came from another SJW, and are more recent.

 We’re lucky that there isn’t usually such overt sexism on such public display in the board game world.
So now you're going to start importing misandry, because men white men are evil.

Nevertheless, I think we can do better. My gender project has taught me to pay more attention to women in board gaming. There’s more than meets the eye.
Dude, women aren't Transformers. I'm guessing you only pay attention to someone else when it's their turn.

During this time, I’ve been able to see board gaming through my girlfriend’s eyes 
 You took them out? Or is there an app for that?

She’s a newcomer to gaming, and while my friends try to welcome her into gaming, she doesn’t feel welcome. 
That's because she DOESN'T LIKE YOUR FRIENDS. Muh feels! Ditch the controlling bitch.

Through her, I’ve noticed that boardgaming, while not overtly hostile to women, still has a bunch of invisible ropes that keep many women from enjoying the hobby.
What, like rules, turn order, and table etiquette?

Before I go any further, let me be clear: I am a straight white guy, and I’ve led quite a privileged life
Good for you. Some of us have been passed over for jobs and promotions for being white males.

I can’t claim to speak for women. No one can, because there is no monolithic generalization one can make about half of the human population.
 Finally, a pair of sentences that make sense!

So please don’t think I’m attempting to speak on behalf of all women everywhere. I’m writing this because I think my perspective can be helpful when we try to figure out why there are so many more men playing board games than women.
What a nice white knight you are. You realize feminists hate you as much as real men, right? They just tolerate you while you might be useful.

Another thing I must make clear: a lot of people usually take this kind of thing to mean offensiveness.
We wouldn't want anyone to be offended, now, would we?

They think there’s a line between “offensive” and “inoffensive”. If you’re on the “inoffensive” side, everything’s fine and peachy, but if you’re on the “offensive” side, then you’ve just insulted every single woman (or whatever non-straight-white-male demographic you’d like), without exception. 
 I take it back. Your stupidity is offensive. Too bad it hasn't hurt you yet.

 But I’m not talking about that line. We in the board game world don’t really have to deal with overtly offensive stuff, thankfully. Instead, I’m going to talk about  invisible ropes.
Is your girlfriend more into bondage than game mechanics? Get some cuffs.

 An invisible rope is something that most people in gaming don’t notice, but that can turn off someone just entering the hobby. 
Rules and mechanics. Gotcha.

They start walking to us, but then they get stopped by one of these invisible ropes. They turn away, and try to approach from another direction, and hit another invisible rope. Then they try another approach, and hit another invisible rope.
Are you sure you aren't talking about a LARP with a maze?

And that’s it; they turn away. All these ropes add together to tell them: Gaming is not for them. They can’t tell us why, because they can’t easily see the ropes that kept them away.
She can't read or comprehend a rulebook. Got it already. Try a Watch it Played video. Or learn to teach games better. It's a skill.

Again, this isn’t about one huge wall keeping people away from gaming. This is death by a thousand tiny cuts. It’s a bunch of tiny actions we perform.

She's supposed to read it, not try cutting herself with the rulebook. I suggest abandoning games and trying S+M. It seems like that's her thing.

And we can have the best of intentions. We can be thinking that we’re all for women in gaming and inclusivity, and still be responsible for keeping these invisible ropes up
 Well, the scene has to have boundaries. Try reading some John Ringo.

That’s why I don’t think this is a matter of simple offensiveness; that always winds up with apologies and accusations, sometimes sincere, sometimes insincere, none of which really get to the bottom of what’s going on.
Never apologize in scene. Be aware of her safe words, though.

Here are some examples of invisible ropes in gaming. For these examples, don’t consider a woman already in gaming; she’s already gotten past the ropes. Instead, consider a woman new to gaming
Yeah, you don't jump straight to TI3, moron. Doesn't matter if it's a dude or a chic. Try TTR, instead.

 Think of a woman who is going to a game convention for the first time. Maybe she’s never played a modern game before; maybe she’s only got a couple of games of Settlers or Munchkin under her belt. What invisible ropes will she run into?
 She's going to have to play something else. The horror. Maybe she'll understand a rule or two by the end of it.

More men than women. Anyone familiar with the craft of game design will recognize a positive feedback mechanism, and we have one here. It’s unfair, but there we are. A woman will notice when she’s the only woman in the environment. And it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.
Some react by disregarding it; others can’t help but notice it. The latter is not a fault of character, of course. And I’m sure it’s an irritating feeling to feel so singled out.
  Yeah. Men don't like being nagged.  Space apart is good. Women generally don't enjoy direct conflict; real men revel in it.

RepresentationPerhaps our hypothetical subject has found a group where she’s not the only woman. Perhaps she’s decided to ignore it. So she goes ahead and plays one of the top 25 games on BoardGameGeek. And it has a guy on the cover.
  So? It's a cover. It may or may not be related. Usually not.

I went ahead and checked. The top 25 games on BGG have a total of 58 featured characters. Of those characters, only 10 are clearly women. That’s 17.2%.
Some more stats…
  • Of the top 25 games, 22 have featured human characters on their covers. (If you’re curious, Dominant Species, X-Wing Fighter Miniatures, and Race for the Galaxy have no featured human characters.)
  • Of these remaining 22 games, only two have women exclusively featured on their covers: Android: Netrunner and Caverna. And only two others have at least as many women featured as men: Agricola and Battlestar: Galactica.
So representation on covers remains quite male-dominated. And I haven’t even gotten to the question of realistic versus sexualized portrayals of women yet.
 Most of the top 25 aren't gateway games either, but for people that get and like complex mechanics and rules.

 Inadvertently condescending strategy help. Let’s chart this one out mathematically: if x is the number of seconds it takes for a man to think about his turn before the other players start pointing out his possible moves, and y a similar number for a woman, then y < x, especially when the woman is new to the group. Sometimes y < x/2. Regardless of how many games the woman owns or plays. I’d need a bunch of gamers and a stopwatch to confirm this mathematically, but look out for it at a game table next time you see a man play a woman he’s never met before. You will notice it.
Have you been timing this? Also, try gateway games with a noob. It takes time to git gud.

The language factor. 20 years ago, I used to think that I could say things like “guys” as a non-gendered word. “Hey guys, what’s going on?” And if we made any significant progress in gender equity in the past two decades, I wouldn’t feel bad using it. 
 Twenty years ago, I might have thought you had a brain and knew how to use it.

But if Gamergate has taught us anything, it’s that women still aren’t treated as equals. It’s made me re-think how I use language when I communicate.
Gameregate is to blame for your girlfriend hating your friends and hobby? Yep, the Networks is coming off the list.

“Guys” is exclusionary. I can think in my head that it’s not exclusionary when I say it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not exclusionary for the people who are listening. It’s an invisible rope. When I say it, I’m asking women who are listening to re-map the words in their heads from being gendered to being non-gendered. That’s asking a lot, and I don’t think it’s changed in the past 20 years. 
Well, it hasn't changed in the last 20 years, and you're wrong. It's a fine collective noun. Alternatively, you can go with Doomtown's use of dude.

Listen, I don’t want to tell you how to speak or write. I hate to sound like the PC police.
 You are observably a liar. You're loving this rant, possibly more than I'm enjoying telling you you're crap, and your girlfriend is a controlling bitch that hates your hobby and friends.

 I will tell you this: I’ve stopped addressing people as “guys” in writing unless I’m sure the people I’m writing to are all men. The rulebooks I wrote 10 years ago all use “he” as a singular pronoun. I now alternate between “he” and “she”, and I’m trying to get my brain to accept “they” as singular (it’s going to take a while). 
 Unless your reader is known to be a woman, calling your reader "he" is correct. They is a cop-out. Alternating is a cop-out. Nouns in other languages are gendered. We'd be better if ours were, too.

Also, you’ll notice how I’m writing “women” in this post? Not “females”? I notice a lot of gamers use “female” as a noun
Are you trying to avoid accusations of pedophilia? Way to draw attention to your love of little girls.

This is a really cold and dehumanizing way to write about half of the population
 Not really. Females means I could actually be playing a children's game with children.

If you’re writing a scientific study, it might be all right. But in any other setting, use “women”. It comes off much more warmly. (Of course, “female” as an adjective is usually okay: “That female ninja, etc. etc.” Or how I use “female” in the very next sentence.)
Virtue signal. Got it. You want people to like your unlikable self.

And I will urge everyone in earshot to only use “girl” when referring to someone female under the age of 18. 
Yep. The feminists will eat you alive for that. 

For how I talk? It’s going to take a little longer. I say “guys” all the time. It’s going to be tough to change that behavior. But that seed is in my head. I’m only now understanding how much language matters, and how poorly the status quo is functioning.
Water that seed. Maybe the tree will be useful.

 Boys’ locker room mentalityDoes your game group meet at a game store? What’s its clientele like? What’s its ambiance like? If it’s anything like the game stores I’ve played at in the past, there are a ton of pubescent boys at the store, shouting taunts like “fag” and “pussy” at each other.
Acting like pubescent boys. That's fine. Avoid FNM like the plague, tool.

Now, if you’re a person who’s obsessed with board games past a certain point, you can let this bounce off you. But not everyone is blessed with thick skin.
 You're right. Some of you are whiny over indulged daddy's girls and mommy's boys. Go to your safe space. 

 And a local gaming environment that’s heavily biased towards teenaged boys is going to alienate a lot of women. No wonder I’ve noticed that I tend to play more women in private rather than in public – 21% of my opponents are women when playing in public, 30% are women when playing in private, at the time of this writing.
More people play at home than in public anyway. They're obsessed with public image, or want to play past closing time.

But if a woman is playing games in private, that means she’s either found a “safe” area to play games, or she’s built one up herself. Not all women get to that point. I’m sure a ton have hit this particular invisible rope and concluded that gaming is not for them.
You sound like the ones that gave up playing a musical instrument after grade or high school. "I used to play X."  Didn't care enough to continue? I don't care.

Societal expectations. We live in a society where, by and large, women are expected to tend to home and family while men are allowed to follow their interests. 
Women are being pushed to do everything men do by feminism and finding they don't like it. The wife of a friend of mine enjoys games, but not as complex or deeply as he does. By the way, she homeschools their six children, who are happy and intelligent.

 This is something I don’t agree with and that I would love to see change significantly in my lifetime, but I think it’s important that we mention it.
Let me tell you something I've observed. Women talk about men. Mothers also talk about their children. These conversations matter to them. Why do you want to ignore their real interests?

I’ve mentioned Dr. Erin C. Davis’ preliminary report on women in boardgaming in some of my other posts. Here are some relevant quotes from women gamers she interviewed…
I can’t play a four hour game. Because I start thinking of everything I should be doing. I should be doing the laundry. I should be taking care of the dishes. I can’t play them. I don’t enjoy them because all I do is sit there and think I’m wasting my time. So any game that’s gonna take more than about two hours I really can’t stand…. (30 year old woman gaming for 1 year).
I think that the problem is for me is, when we are playing a game at home, and much to [my husband’s] annoyance sometimes, I am still doing five other things while we’re playing the game. I am making dinner. I’ve got other things I’m finishing up. I think it is just harder for women to detach from all of the other things that they have in their life to take the time out to play a boardgame. Where as men seem to have a much easier time making the time for themselves to go ahead and do that. (42 year old woman with 1 child who has been gaming for over 16 years)
In our group it seems like the women have other responsibilities that the men don’t do. It seems like the guys go to work and they come to the gaming things where women are like, ‘oh I’m off work I have to go home and make dinner or I have to go home and take care of the kids’ (44 year old woman gaming for 3 years)i
It's not the husbands' fault if their wives won't shut off for a bit and focus on one thing. How much do these husbands make compared to their wives? What's their work stress and fatality level for comparison? 

Other men staying silent. This, out of all of them, is the hardest one.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat at a game table and seen an invisible rope get strung up. And I’ve almost always kept my mouth shut. It’s not the right time, I’d tell myself. Don’t make a pest of myself.
 Oh, it's not LARPing you're into is miming. Mimes are pests. 

If I see someone being unintentionally sexist, I would like to be more vocal. I don’t want to be rude or alienating about it. But I’ve heard from other women that the best thing they can hear is a man tell his friend, “Too much. Back off.” 
 Yes. You've written way too much. Back off, you virtue signalling cur. 

 These invisible ropes doesn’t keep all women out of gaming. You might know plenty of women in your gaming groups. But that doesn’t mean that these invisible ropes don’t exist. Some women have thicker skin than others, and they love gaming so much that they’re willing to put up with all the invisible ropes they encounter. Which is awesome for them, but we can’t expect every woman to have that sort of thick skin. It’s just unfair.
 You never heard? Life is unfair. Get over it and move on.

I think this is reflected in my gender project numbers, especially the split between public and private gaming. There are fewer invisible ropes when playing in private, hence the 10% swing for women I play with in a private setting.
More women drink in private, too. Your point?

By the way, the correct term for this kind of unconscious, exclusionary activity is “microaggression,” but I’ve found that term turns people off: “What? No! I’m not being aggressive. I’m didn’t mean anything by it! I’m only trying to help!” I think one of the obstacles to this sort of discussion is that people don’t like being called aggressive, or sexist, or privileged. They feel insulted by it and get defensive. I don’t mean to authoritatively set the tone of the discussion here; I just think people are less likely to get defensive when hearing “invisible rope” than if they hear “microaggression.”
Your girlfriend is a triggered special snowflake? Tell her to get over it. We used to have sanitariums for those that couldn't handle life.

 So the next time you wonder why there so many more men than women in board gaming, look at these invisible ropes. Even better, try to see if you’re inadvertently setting up an invisible rope yourself.
Maybe men like conflict and women like talking. Get over it.



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How badly did Marvel step in it?

Yeah, I'm a bit late to this party, but I don't read Marvel and don't play 40k. For the uninitiated, in Venom Space Kinght 6 is the controversy. GW is investigating this situation.

Stealing graphic elements from 40k is a big deal. Stealing logos of theirs, and a specific weapon, is likely going to be hard for Marvel to argue. Yes, Disney might have better lawyers, and certainly bigger pockets. GW has a big case as far as I can tell, and they have a history of fighting any copyright infringement they perceive. (I am not a lawyer.) So, why are they taking their time on this one?

Here's some options. 1.Marvel may have reached out to them for a settlement. Size: really big, as anything in the comics is ripe for adaptation, and there is a Venom film apparently in development again. 2. Trade: perhaps Disney is looking at GW as a potential division(I would doubt it.).

As far as a lawsuit, if it goes against Disney this could be HUGE. As I mentioned, anything in the comics is a potential movie piece, so the damages would go well beyond their normal amounts. First, there's all the court costs they'd have to pay out. Then, there's the damages, which I shudder to think of. GW has already closed at least one company after a settlement was reached. Disney's best bet in the courts might be to drag it out until GW would go broke. Bad news for them: GW is pushing their own games again, and Fantasy Flight Games makes them tons off licensed games.

So, what might this mean for Marvel, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe? That depends on the damages.  I can guarantee it means Disney's legal is going to start going over every book to avoid more potential. Artists might have to sign responsibility for imagery agreements, or Marvel will setup an approved graphics section, which would be smart. Get everyone on the same page to avoid future damages.

What am I saying? These artists and writers generally don't read. Not stories, anyway. Propaganda, absolutely. That goes for DC as well, but they don't look to be as wholly converged. GW, have some fun with these suckers.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Injustice Anthology Review: Between the Wall and the Fire

Cower not, fierce reader! We have before us today not a novel, but a collection of short stories, edited by Mr. Russell Newquist. Each story in here has it's own crime against Social Justice, if not multiple. The stories are solid, and I'll attempt to keep from too much spoiling the stories. These will be done along the mini review format I tried earlier.

To the stories:

Edge- Russell Newquist opens with a story of his own. I was fairly impressed, as it showed his familiarity with Cyberpunk, especially the Shadowrun niche within the niche. Major crime: putting family before work.

Soul Food- K. Bethany Sayer gives us a snippet, that begins with familial devotion, and ends with preserving something good. Major crime: Distrust of government.

A Ruby for Dyree- S. D. McPhail writes a story that feels like a cautionary D+D story. Always check on the other party members. Major crime- justice may be patient, but swift. Be careful of your desires.

On the Bayou's Edge- Morgon Newquist tells us of an old presumed widow who fight demons that come out of the bayou. One day, she fights a demon stronger than  her knowledge. Help arrives in time. Major crime: Christianity is right, demons are real.

Second Home, Second Chance- Ray Blank's story of a man now alone in a world stuck mostly in VR.  Major crime: putting away the distractions

Kingdoms of Magic- Mr. Newquist has for us a fantastic tale of a prince and princess, and one last happy day.  Major crime: hope until the end, love always.

Brotherly Envy- S. D. McPhail writes of a boy whose brother has a gift. An encounter with a scholar reveals his own gift, and how to care for his brother. Major crime: helping others

Henbit and Clovers- Morgon Newquist returns, following a boy helping his people survive a zombie apocalypse. Major crime: charity.

Negev- This tale by Joshua M. Young features a rabbi in an isolated space colony on a desert world. Posthumans come, offering their knowledge  His son chooses to join them, to redeem their world and help others. Major crime: self sacrifice

Knight of the Changeling- One last turn for Mr. Newquist, bringing us a tragedy, a hero, and an adventure. Major crime: justice, and redemption

Life Began at Thirty-Three- Closing out is a story of life from Verne Luvall. The events here are quite ordinary, but the people and writing are extraordinary. Major crime: love and devotion

This is a very solid anthology. Read and enjoy, fierce reader, for these tales have fires to warm the heart. Vascular muscle is tough, but full of iron. Seven of ten fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Friday, July 8, 2016

GenCon: the Games worth seeing/buying

GenCon is the largest tabletop game convention in the United States, and as such, sees a lot of launches and previews. The exhibit hall is huge, and effectively will be 25% bigger this year, as the section previously holding game tournaments and demos has been moved.

What to look for if you're looking for new games? There's a huge amount of exhibitors, and a sizable geeklist on BGG. So, here's the stuff I'm looking forward to seeing, and maybe I'll get some of it. Some of these games I've backed on Kickstarter, but don't let that stop you. It's just under a month away, and you may need to plan to get to some games.

Valley of the Kings: Last Rites- This is the third VotK game, each a standalone that can be added together. It's an interesting game, as only the entombed cards score. It's a maybe, but no rush for me.

Innovation: Artifacts of History and Innovation: Cities of Destiny- These expansions were part of a Kickstarter campaign, as Asmadi is a very small company.  I really dig on Innovation, multi-use cards and shared actions are great concepts.

Coldwater Crown- Yes, a game about fishing. Set Collection for scoring, and worker placement for determining what fish you get. I'm intrigued.

Moonquake Escape- It's got a rotating and revolving 3d moon. I at least wanna see this.

Arkwright- It's a new edition with a new publisher. Games with stocks and trading make endgame potentials hard to calculate. I'm intrigued.

The Networks- A game about getting ratings, with Shows, Stars, and Ads being your avenues. Card Drafting, and a theme that hasn't been really used for decades. Designer's an SJW that loves to pander to feminists.

Star Trek: Ascendancy- This looks amazing. A 4x style Star Trek game, with more factions/players available later. The player boards are customized graphically, even the sliders have different arrangements.  Honestly, my biggest hope for GenCon.

Lunarchitects- Inspired by Glen More, sure it's a derivative game. The original has been OOP for ages.

Seafall- This year's big Legacy game. Plaid Hat and Rob Daviau know what they're doing. I'm in for a look; Legacy games have some downfalls.

Flick 'Em Up!: Red Rock Tomahawk- The base game was last year's big surprise. Dexterity and strategy for up to 10 players, with great components. Let's add more to the mix!

Junk Art- This year's bit from Pretzel Games. It's going to look great, and might be a good game to boot.

Islebound- Red Raven makes some gorgeous games with interesting ideas. So far my only complaint is I want a game with more than a 4 player max. from them.

Covert- Run a spy network, roll dice to program actions, and accomplish missions? I didn't hear anything, how can I tell you about it?

Scythe- If you missed the Kickstarter campaign, take the time to check this beauty out. Jamey Stegmaier gets to be a better designer with each game/expansion, and I think he may have knocked this one out of the park. Not to mention Jakob's art...

Terraforming Mars- Drafting, tile laying, variable player powers, and all in a SF vibe? I at least need to look at it.

Championship Formula Racing- Claims to be a redesign of Speed Circuit. That makes me want to take a look. 3M had some interesting things back then.

I know most of you reading this will think, "What about game X?". There are going to be TONS of games to look at, and these are what I consider the highlights.  If Fantasy Flight ever announced their launch for the year officially, I might have an official opinion.(It's likely an Arkham Horror LCG; next year is Lo5R).

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Injustice Book Review: The Missionairies

Cower not, fierce reader!  We have before us another tale to cause the leftist to cower and quake.  If you haven't figured it out, yes, I'm a fan of Castalia House.  No, I don't work for them.  No, I don't volunteer for them.  They happen to publish a lot of books I like.

Now, for the crimes against Social Justice:

First, we have in place a government at the start that is concerned with trying to maintain a relative peace, rather than advancing the people into the modern world. This comes from the experience that tells them the locals don't think logically, and likely can't entirely.  These practical men are not acceptable to the UN envoy taking over.

Second, air conditioning is apparently racist according to the UN. This is among many bad assumptions made by UN officials, who have a lot of politically correct learning, but no experience. A refusal to believe other than primitive peoples are peaceful if left to their own devices, and without superstition. By the way, there's no effort to understand to locals on the UN's behalf, just make them do things that are incomprehensible by their view.

Thirdly, we have a portrayal of a primitive, magic-based worldview that is trying to incorporate the things brought by the UN.   Outhouses are accepted as a transformative object, that is, they turn excrement into wealth.  It is seen as selfish to deny wealth to the village.  Toy cars get planted, so that they can grow into full size treasures.

Now, most of the book is variations on the ignorance and incompetence of the UN, the superstitions and views of the  tribes, and the practical actions the previous government that's been kept on take.. It makes for a highly entertaining story, honestly, and even the practical men are shown as highly flawed. Faith is portrayed in one spot, and at least the missionaries shown are clearly not normal for Christians.  The UN's ignorance as to the transformative nature of faith is a good point, obliquely made. Overall, 7 of 10 fell deeds.

I am oversimplifying some things, but I am likely in the minority of reviewers this book has had.  I like CH's other fiction better.  Not that this wasn't good and entertaining, but Hyperspace Demons left me wanting more.  I felt that John C. Wright's last two novels were better, and many of his shorter works as well.  To each his own, especially when we aren't against each other.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan: the Good, the Bad, the SJW

I went with a friend to watch Legend of Tarzan yesterday, with hopes that it would get more right than other recent films(John Carter) adapting great pulp adventure stories. Well, here's how it went. There will be some spoilers, so you may wish to skip towards the end.

The Good
 Tarzan is definitely well portrayed, showing his civilized part and his wild part equally well. Jane, while a "damsel in distress", is not weak, and has great faith in her husband. "An ordinary man will do the impossible for the woman he loves. My husband is no ordinary man."   All the while, she is trying to escape, and gets thwarted by her captor twice, even escaping for awhile once. The action throughout was solid, and the Belgians were pretty terrible colonialists.  CGI animals actually looked rather good, and the "mating  call" bit was funny.   The love scene was one of the most tasteful I've seen, with a cut before things really start happening, and coming back after, when they're in the sheets.

The Bad
I don't recall Tarzan's mother being killed. Maybe I'm wrong. Nor do I recall Tarzan having a brother ape; all the other apes hated him.  The Claytons' jungle home was not in the trees from my recollection; perhaps a bit off the ground, but not a treehouse.  Jane did NOT grow up in Africa; her father was an American scientist well in over his head.

There are three religions presented in Legend of Tarzan: earth-worship, scientism, and Catholicism. Of course, Hollywood being what it is, Catholicism is ONLY presented as being practiced by the bad guy. The story of said villain being gifted his rosary by his priest being followed immediately by an unsubtle pedophilia joke, which the Catholic Church did not have in prevalence at that time.  While Catholicism was indeed the dominant church in Belgium, not one of the Englishmen, nor the American, is presented as having faith of any sort.  Mr. Burroughs, while not believing, would not be insulting to people of faith, and would include them in his stories as sidekicks/aides. Scientism is only briefly presented, with the line, "My father is a scientist, he taught me not to be afraid of superstition." Or something like that.

The Kuba tribe would possibly have banded together against an invading army, but the film makes no mention of their spirit worship, ancestor worship, or witchcraft in their culture. Anthropologically, this is a bit of a sham, not presenting them with a real worldview. ERB did batter, once again; even if he got it wrong, he made a worldview for his characters.

Aside from the characterization of Christianity, I found the movie mostly palatable. This is likely due to the fact that Dark Horse Entertainment had a hand in it.  Thus far, DH has stayed mostly out of the Social Justice in comics movement, and kept producing pretty good stuff.  Is this a perfect Tarzan movie? No, but Tarzan is definitely Tarzan, and not some incompetent.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Viticulture, with Tuscany

My reading's been a touch slower the last few days, but I did get in a play of Viticulture from Stonemaier Games with parts of the Tuscany expansion. We had four players, all had played vanilla Viticulture before. We added the expansion board(without construction), Mamas and Papas, all the extra visitors(including the Moor Visitors), and two of the specialty workers, the Chef and the Soldat.

Now, if you've played just the base game but that's it, I'm gonna say it... you're missing out. If you haven't played the base game... you're missing out.

For the uninitiated: Viticulture is a worker placement game about wine making. It was the first game from Stonemaier Games, and timing is important, so choose your turn order carefully. Each worker can only be used once in a year. You have fields to plant grape vines in, buildings to buy, grapes to harvest, wine to make, and specific wine orders to fill. It's a good time, but not excellent. Tuscany takes it to excellent.

As to the changes:

Mamas and Papas: Setup for each player is now randomized, but still a bit balanced, and players even have a choice to make on the Papa card.
Now, the large board changes things a lot. There's bonuses for turn order in three of the four seasons. The area control endgame keeps things a little in the air until the end. I think we screwed up the choosing of turn order in one way, but otherwise got it right. Seasons go up to four seasons of placement, and each one has times and reasons they're important. No more automatic visitor cards mean that building the cottage isn't necessary, but can incentivize later turn order choices.

The extra visitor cards change things up a lot. My last game, we had gone through both visitor decks multiple times, and some are just more useful than others,  and some only at certain times. No more repetition of the deck now, that number more than tripled, and more visitors are useful throughout the game, including some that have one use early, and another late. Some even can be played in summer and winter, but have different uses based on season.

The specialty workers: Each time you play with them, you shuffle the deck of choices and choose two. Your worker maximum is still six, so a regular worker is replaced when you train them, and they cost an additional coin to train. I won't review them all here, but the Soldat can prevent the use of some spaces by your opponents, and the Chef displaces a non-Chef, and lets you take an action that is full.

Next time, I hope to add the constructs, and maybe the Fromaggio expansions. I'm really happy I finally got to play this one, and have no regrets about it sitting in my library unexpanded for many months. I dig it.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.