Expensive, imported, and limited. It's Barnestorming #30
Cracked LCD this week is my long delayed review of Dragon Rage. I had kind of a tough time getting enough plays in with it to feel like I had enough to go on, which is sort of the fate of two player games these days for me. But it is good, and I’d like to see Flatined Games get it into wider- and domestic- distribution. This is another F:ATtie product, our very own Eric Hanuise is the man responsible for publishing and redeveloping this neglected, unsung classic of 1980s-style fantasy gaming.
It is damn expensive though. And imported. And limited.
Oh, new Worthpoint article- it's about the big Sid Sackson auction many years ago.
I’ve played a bunch of stuff this week, mainly because I got back with the Hellfire Club for the first full meet-up in three months.
We had a hell of game of Imperial 2030, wherein I lead Russia to imperial glory before buying out China and pretty much letting Russia sink into dire economic straits. At one point I had almost the entirety of Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific locked up until a joint coalition of Brazil and the US (aided and abetted by a countryless Swiss banker) dismantled my holdings and bought the nation out from under me. Final scores in the top three were $73mil, $72mil, and $71mil. I was third.
The Resistance is pretty neat. It really is kind of like BSG in 20 minutes. I don’t really like the plot cards or whatever though, the game is at its best when it’s just raw suspicion and discussion. Sort of “pure” in the way that Intrige is.
Bill Abner sent me a spare copy of Troyes he had lying around…wow, that’s an overwrought, overdesigned game. I’m not sure it’s even _supposed_ to be fun.
Dungeon Run continues to be cute, but not necessarily great. Definitely a no-go for five or six players. We had a good one though, Pierre was playing the racist dwarf and I the billygoat man and he walked right into the first chamber and laid me flat without preamble. One party of two wandered off to go pat each other’s butts or something while another pair went the other way. I stumbled around alone, jacking a couple of treasures until the racist dwarf got to the boss lair. He wound up beating the shit out of everybody and slipping out the exit. Fun game. Wish it was just this much better though.
Super Dungeon Explore finally arrived and…I dunno. I am totally not feeling the miniatures. They look really cool, but there’s some pretty advanced modeling they require and if you’re looking for a complete board game, this isn’t really one. It’s very much a miniatures starter, and the models are probably more important than the game. But that said, there’s some awesome ideas in it. It really does feel like a video game, and there’s some VERY cool stuff with controlling the pace and developing the tempo based on the relative damage dealt over the course of the game. But I’m also wondering if the game is going to have staying power when there are other all-in-one solutions on the market that offer more. That said, if you’re into the modeling thing, the figures are great.
On the Consoles
I just finished Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and completely loved it, going so far as to write an article about Kojima at NoHS. I’m playing the second one now, which is obviously more dated. But so far, it’s great too. The Metal Gear Solid three-fer HD remaster is the best reissue of the year, hands down. It stinks that the first game isn't on there, but if you've got a PS3 you can download it from PSN, at least, to get the whole series. Peace Walker freaking rocks, but it's small-bite style gameplay is something I think I'll enjoy more on the Vita. It definitely takes some cues from both X-Com and Monster Hunter.
I started Dark Souls again since the dust has cleared from the Fall releases. I got to the first boss, the Taurus Demon. He jumps out in front of you on this long bridge braced by these towers. I thought I was going to be clever and get on top of one of the towers and just drop firebombs on his head. I went up the ladder, got into position and he just looked up at me. I bombed him a couple of times because I assumed he was helpless and stuck, and then the motherfucker jumped up on top of the tower and killed me. I about had a heart attack. Goodbye, souls.
On the Phone
Been playing a lot of this little freemium game called Cabals. It’s sort of in the vein of Neuroshima Hex or Summoner Wars. You’ve got a deck of cards and you summon stuff onto a grid to battle another occultist (such as Rasputin, Karl Maria Wiligut, or Morgana LeFay). Special powers, blah blah blah but it also has some terrain, including spots that generate VPs and others where you can spawn. It’s really well done, looks good, and you don’t necessarily need to buy anything else to enjoy it.
Oh, and War on Terror is out on IOS. Single player only, which sucks. But it’s funny, streamlined, and pretty well done. Jarvis Cocker has a song in it. Yeah, that one.
Infinity Blade II came out and I bought it. I loved the first one. I played a little of the second and it doesn’t seem that much different so far. There’s a crafting thing with cramming gems into slots of the weapons and armor, so maybe that will turn into a thing over the course of the game. It’s as good as the first, at least. This one seems to have a story though, not just a loop.
On the Screen
I had a Fangoria magazine when I was 12 or so that had all of these pictures from Prince of Darkness. It had the lady with the skinned face on the cover. I thought that was some wicked, evil shit back then and I remember my dad sort of looking at the issue with some concern when I asked for it at the B. Dalton. The movie sounded crazy, and I wound up going to see it in the theater. It kind of freaked me out, because I was sort of in that transitional phase where you start to go either one way or the other on religion…and here was a film that was dealing with loony theological issues mixed up with science.
I watched it the other night, I haven’t seen it in a while but it’s always been one of those “oh yeah, that movie’s awesome” things. Well, it’s not awesome. In fact, I think it’s one of Carpenter’s weakest films. Which is a shame, because there are some really, really awesome ideas in it. The dream transmission, the Brotherhood of Sleep, liquid Satan, the anti-God and the fake bible…the opposition of religion and science in dealing with a physical, tangible manifestation of evil. GREAT stuff. But the movie is just so _bad_. Too much of the horror is focused on people standing there staring, bugs, and hobos. Plus, that dude from Simon and Simon just irritates the shit out of me. It’s always a pleasure to see Victor Wong and Donald Pleasance in action, but the film’s boring settings and pedestrian style make it something of a drag to watch.
Believe it or not, this is a film that I think could stand to be remade. The ideas and concepts are there, it just needs a better script and a discernable style.
Pictured is Liturgy, out of Brooklyn, NY. You’d never guess it from looking at them, but they released one of the best black metal records of 2011, “Aesthethica”. It’s a blurry, propulsive record that sounds like it was made by smart, musically inclined folks that probably studied Steve Reich and Glen Branca as much as Burzum and Darkthrone. It’s incredibly smart, progressive black metal with some stunning passages that utilize repeated figures and almost locked-groove repetition to accomplish its goals. Which aren’t really anything to do with most black metal. It’s not grim, satanic, primitive, necro, or even really all that dark. It’s oddly joyful music, strangely uplifting and maybe even transcendent. But it still sounds like pure black metal- but produced well, and with a KILLER drummer.
But here’s the rub. These guys have royally pissed off the black metal world. Venom and hatred abound for them, and they’re routinely vilified by fans and press alike for being inauthentic, un-kvlt “hipsters” carpetbagging in what is becoming a rising scene of very forward-thinking black metal acts that are FINALLY leaving behind the baggage of nth-generation Mayhem worship, corpse paint, and all of that devil/Odin crap.
The thing about it, yes, these guys aren’t throwing out pig heads at their shows or wearing spiked gauntlets to bed. They’re normal, artistically inclined musicians that want to use black metal for something other than being obscure and evil. I like this, and I think what they’re doing is awesome because it’s moving black metal away from being “accidentally” avant garde into being something more willfully progressive and challenging. And frankly, for these guys to be wearing the clothes they wear and looking like they do (which is like 75% of the problem that the trad black metallers have with them) is more authentic than the corpse paint, Nazism, suicide/deathwish shit that their grimmer contemporaries often truck in.
It’s a great record. Jon Jacob, you should take a listen.