The Dork Den Blog

17
Aug
Review: Settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights



Catan: Cities and Knights

Reviewed by: Andrew

3-4 players

75 minutes


Image courtesy of catan.com


Catan has been bringing joy to tables of gamers for decades.  This can cause an unfortunate side-effect where some players have had enough of Catan.  Either they’ve figured out what strategies to use, or just find the nature of the game repetitive.  The good news for gamers is there is a remedy for this, which comes in expansion pack format.  More specifically, it comes in the form of the Cities & Knights expansion.

For the handful of gamers who haven’t played Catan before, the goal of the game is to acquire resources to build roads and settlements to gain economic control over the board.  Resources are gained through settlements located at junctions between tiles, and by trading with your competitors.  Victory conditions are further supplemented through additional support cards, which add points to your score, or provides you with ways to use your resources with maximum efficiency.  Cities & Knights revamps this game by adding some new pieces and rules.  There are two major additions this expansion brings to Catan.  First, it adds commodities to the game.  Second, it adds the threat of barbarians.   Commodities are alternate resource cards that can be produced by hexes (pastures add cloth, quarries add coin, and forests add books).  These commodities can only be claimed if a player has a city next to the commodity producing hex.  Commodities act exactly the same as other resources as they can be traded between players.  Commodities are used to purchase upgrades for your cities, which add special abilities, and give you access to three new types of cards, which replace development cards from the base game.  The final upgrade for cities is called a metropolis, which adds a whopping four victory points to the controlling player’s total.  The other addition, barbarians, are represented by a ship token on a side track placed next to the board.  The ship token advances along the track through the use of a third die that is rolled along with the other two resource dice.  When the barbarian symbol is rolled, the barbarians advance a space.  Once the barbarians reach the end of the track, they attack!  When barbarians attack, they have strength equal to the number of cities on the board.  If barbarians have higher strength than the defenders, they pillage a city and it gets knocked down to a settlement.  If the defenders have a higher strength, the person who contributed the most defense scores a victory point.  To contribute defense, players can build knights.  Knights are used to defend against the barbarians, and to chase away the pesky robber.  Cities & Knights adds a lot of variety, and makes you think up new strategies to succeed.   It is an excellent purchase for anyone who is a fan of Catan.  

8/10



15
Aug
Review: Moonstruck #1



Moonstruck #1

Review by: Anthony


Image Comics has been on a role for a few years now, as most readers know. Month after month comic book stores fill with new Image #1’s across a wide variety of genres reaching out to a wide variety of readers and there’s seemingly always a high level of quality even with the high level of quantity. Moonstruck is a very different comic book from we usually see from Image however. Image usually uses adult-focused styles of writing, often dealing with violence, free usage of profanity, graphic themes, etc. While they’re not all like this, Image has a tendency to allow writers to write for a mature audience. Comic book companies like IDW and Boom on the other hand are most well known for their more innocent, young-adult and children friendly books like Lumberjanes or Jem and the Holograms. Moonstruck very much follows this Boom / IDW template brining in an often underutilized innocent, fun and very cute style of comic book writing that may be lacking in the Image Comics line up.




Moonstruck is a very slice of life story about two baristas that work in a coffee shop  (it’s pretty much Starbucks) located in a college town, set in a very fantastical world filled with magical powers, humanoids and all your average life problems. This free-for-all magical world allows for pretty much anything and everything to be considered normal - and immediately introduces to its readers a very carefree and fun world to follow our characters along in. There isn’t much to say about story here - our main character, Julie, has a massive crush on someone and her best barista friend Chet will do anything in his power to hook them up. I know, high-octane comic book reading here. But the infinite chemistry between the two characters and the unbeatable cuteness the comic book displays in its writing and art style makes every page worthwhile, even if you’re not really a slice of life kind of reader like me. Most importantly however, is that the mythological and fantastical setting allows for unlimited possibilities. Characters have magic powers, someone can turn into a bat, Julie’s friend has creepy psychic abilities and a regular at the cafe is a talking cow. All of this stuff is really funny and highly enjoyable as you eagerly wait to flip the page to see what other ridiculous people will show up next.

I don’t want to say there’s an award winning comic book here, because there isn’t. However, Moonstuck is a very enjoyable, simple, adorable slice of life comic book that serves as a great pickup for Image’s gallery of comic books. Readers of series like Lumberjanes, Rat Queens, Mega Princess, and other fun loving and funny stories will likely find this new comic good fun, and if this isn’t a genre you’ve explored before, give it a try, you’ll likely find something new to love.


7/10



10
Aug
Review: Food Chain Magnate



Food Chain Magnate

Reviewed by: Dave

2-5 players

2-4 hours


Can you out-Ronald McDonald’s? Can you turn Applebee’s into apple butter? Can you show TGIFriday’s that Saturday is actually the best? It’s time to become a…


FOOD! CHAIN! MAGNATE!




Food Chain Magnate is a board game with a game show name that would drag on longer than a spectating audience could handle by several orders of magnitude, but which you will probably love if there’s any part of you willing to sit down for a multiple-hour gaming experience. The goal of the game is simple: open a restaurant and make the most money. The tools at your disposal include the food and drink you’re trying to sell, various methods of advertising, even improving real estate to bring in wealthier residents who want more goods, but even these all come down to a single basic source of power: your employees.


As you begin your ascent to wealth and the destruction of your business enemies, there is only you, the lonely CEO with a dollar and a dream, except without the dollar. But you do get the ability to boss three people around! You have to hire them first, however, and your CEO can only hire one person per round, so the game starts out with quick, low-drama turns that are nevertheless important to how everything else plays out. You can hire a Recruiting Girl, who gives you the ability to hire an additional person each turn; this lets you fill out your corporate hierarchy more quickly. You can hire a Trainer, who lets you improve (some) employees to higher ranks, where they become capable of helping your company more but start to cost you money. These are usually the two best ways to start, but there are a total of eight baseline employees you can choose from, all with a different way to affect how your business will develop.


A careful reader may ask, why would you start with a Trainer if they create employees you have to pay for when you start with no money? This is where we can discuss milestones. Milestones are awarded to players who are the first to pull off certain achievements. For example, if you’re the first to train an employee, you get $15 off salaries every turn. Since all paid employees earn $5 per turn, this means you can have three paid employees working for you without a problem, even if you don’t have any money. In addition, milestone perks are given to anyone who manages the required achievement on the same turn, if it’s the first turn anyone does it, which means you can guarantee yourself certain milestones by taking certain cards through the first few turns. From there, earning later-game milestones works similarly to what you need to do for the game in general--watch what your opponents are doing and adjust your strategy so you can either beat them out or work around them and win with a different plan than they’re using.  Broadly speaking, you want as many milestones as you can get; they’re strong, but not necessarily overpowered, except in the sense that having substantially more than an opponent will almost always gain you a notable advantage.




Once your hierarchy starts growing, you can focus more on making money. For people to buy your product, you must create the demand through having your marketing employees create advertisements. If someone’s restaurant meets all of a house’s demands, that house buys those products from that restaurant. If no one’s restaurant meets the demands--and all demands must be met, or the house buys nothing--then the demands build up until the house is maxed out. A basic house can hold three demands; one with a garden can have up to five. More importantly, a house with a garden will pay double for what they consume. Added on to the bonus money you receive if you’re the first to market burgers, pizza, or any type of drink, simply selling your goods isn’t going to be enough to earn you game-winning amounts of cash. (Unless there’s a price war…)


Apart from the fact that this is a game without even the hint of training wheels and a poor start can leave you grasping at nothing but a dream of victory, there isn’t a great deal to criticize. If there’s a repeated complaint, it involves the CFO milestone. In brief, if you’re the first to reach $100, your CEO also doubles as a CFO, which allows you to earn 50% more money each turn. That can create an incredible amount of effectively free income. Any player can create their own CFO, but it requires leveling up a management trainee four times, which is substantial. In addition, because being the first to $100 means you’re in the lead, it requires other players to build a noticeably better business empire to overtake you, even though later turns (when other players might more reasonably have their own CFOs) are the time when huge chunks of income start rolling in. But if you find that to be a problem, you can do as others have and simply leave that milestone out. The game is not particularly affected by its removal.


Point blank, Food Chain Magnate is a very good game, and the worst part about it is how difficult it is to find a copy at the moment.  If you like big, heavy board games, or even think you’d like to try one, this is as good an option as any.


9/10



08
Aug
Review: Sisters of Sorrow #1



Sisters of Sorrow #1

Review by: Anthony




Boom Studios, like IDW, are primarily well known for their great works on licensed products like Power Rangers, Steven Universe and The Dark Crystal. Recently however, Boom has been delving deeper and deeper into new independant IP’s with brand new and interesting ideas that would otherwise likely be scooped up by Image, or another similar independent comic publisher. While Boom does have successful company-made IPs like Lumberjanes, they’re often associated as a more cute, innocent and laid back selection of comics targeted for youths, or young adults. On rare occasion, like this very occasion here, Boom decides to target a different audience, the adult audience. With comics like Sisters of Sorrow, a significantly more violent and graphic comic book focused on drawing in a reader base they’re perhaps less accustomed to, they’re taking a risk in exploring outside the regular bounds of Boom Studios. Luckily, a good new comic book will accomplish that very task.

Our story begins in a home for victims of severe domestic abuse, where all of our main characters are currently dealing with the struggles of separation, court, and loss. From severe beatings to the loss of their children, these main characters are full of not only sadness and regret, but also contempt for their abusers. When the ex-husband of one of the victims breaks into the home and attacks one of the sisters, things escalate quickly, resulting in the death of not only the attacker, but the victim as well. Certain that the police force and the government will side against them, regardless of the truth, the witnesses of the event call in a shady friend who will help them to not only cover up the deaths, but establish an elaborate explanation of the missing dead. Fed up with the system they’ve been forced into and their abusers, the ‘Sisters of Sorrow’ decide to train for vigilantism and destroy those that have wronged them one by one, “an-eye-for-an-eye” style.

There are a lot of cool things about this comic book. Primarily, the relationship between the sisters is top notch and the dynamic between them feels very real. As a reader, I’m totally on board with their adventures in brutal revenge, and obviously that’s pretty necessary. It’s a fairly graphic comic with some upfront violence in a very realistic setting so it’s important for the comic book to use the theme correctly, as I generally think realistic brutality isn’t necessary if it’s completely meaningless. Dialogue and art direction are both great here, so there’s really not much to complain about. Sisters of Sorrow is a strong beginning to a likable story with likable characters, and if you’re into realistic settings in comics, especially action oriented ones, Sisters of Sorrow is one to check out.


8/10



06
Aug
Destiny Store Championship Results



Saturday July 22nd we had our Star Wars Destiny Store Championship. 15 players came out to play for Fantasy Fight Swag and a bye to the regional tournament. Of the 15 decks only 3 were heroes. 2 of the hero decks were Rey/Qui-Gon Jinn with the other being Poe/Maz. So it seems the changes to fast hands and ammo belt has had an impact on the Meta. As villains were heavily favored it is no surprise they made up the full top 4. In 1st after 4 rounds of swiss was Garret L with Phasma/FO Trooper/Guavian Enforcer. In 2nd was Luke M with Jango Fett/FN-2199. In 3rd was Andrew K with Palpatine, and in 4th was Aaron L. with Palpatine. 


Below are the deck lists:


Garret L 1st


Characters:

Captain Phasma(E)

Guavian Enforcer

FO Trooper


Cards:

On the Hunt 2

Holdout Blaster 2

Flank 2

Imperial Discipline 2

Sabatage 2

Endless Ranks 1

The Best Defense 2

Hunker Down 2

F-11D Rifle 2

Z6 Riot Control Baton 2

Electroshock 2

He Doesn't Like You 2

Salvage Stand 2

Backup Muscle 2

DH-17 Blaster Pistol 2

Bait & Switch 1


Luke M 2nd


Characters:

Jango Fett(E)

FN-2199(D)


Cards:

Fair Trade 1

Salvage Stand 2

Logistics 2

Doubt 2

Electroshock 2

Bait & Switch 2

He Doesn't Like You 2

Armed to the teeth 1

Hunker Down 2

Vibroknife 2

F-11D Rifle 2

Z6 Riot Control Baton 1

Rocket Launcher 1

Flame Thrower 1

Holdout Blaster 2

Vibroknucklers 2

Gaffi Stick 1

IQA-11 Blaster Rifle


Andrew K 3rd


Characters:

Emperor Palpatine(E)


Cards: 

Mind Trick 2

Enrage 1

Isolation 2

Force Illusion 2

Deflect 2

Overconfidence 2

Force Throw 2

Sith Holocron 2

No Mercy 2

Force Push 2

Feel Your Anger 2

Force Speed 2

Immobilize 1

Rejuvenate 2

Rise Again 2

Doubt 1

Force Lightning 1


Aaron L 4th


Characters:

Emperor Palpatine(E)


Cards: 

Doubt 2

Enrage 2

Isolation 2

Lure of Power 2

Overconfidence 2

Force Choke 2

Force Illusion 2

Force Push 2

Force Lightning 2

No Mercy 2

Rise Again 2

Deflect 2

Now You Will Die 2

Feel Your Anger 2




03
Aug
Review: Great Western Trail



Great Western Trail

Reviewed by: Dave




As the famed cowboy Billy Crystal once sang:


Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

Keep them doggies rollin’

Man my ass is swollen

Rawhide


Great Western Trail is a game about moving your cattle across the Midwest to Kansas City, putting them on trains to be shipped west for money, and presumably snacking on a sack full of jerky along the way. Mechanically, it’s a deck-building, point-salad, sorta-Euro, which is… perhaps not a helpful description. Easier to discuss how it works.


At the start of the game, you have a board with a few buildings on it, a ton of empty spaces where more buildings can be placed, your own deck of cattle cards, and a train car and cowboy of your own as well. On your turn, you can move that cowboy up to four spaces. Importantly, only spaces with buildings or hazards on them count against your movement. This means that early on, if you want to race to Kansas City with your first batch of cattle before other players start sticking buildings in your way, you can. It’s a quick score and gets you some extra money to work with right out of the gate. Can’t hurt, right?


Well, first we need to discuss how you get that money. You begin with a hand of four cards from your deck. These cards are what get sold in KC. However, you only earn money for each different type of card in your hand. Thus dragging four $1 Jerseys into the station is only going to net you $1. If you draw a poor hand, there are buildings you can stop at along the way to trade in some of your cattle for other benefits in order to draw different cards and hopefully improve the situation.


Let’s say you start out with a perfect hand, though. Do you still race to KC? The answer is… maybe! During the game, you’ll want to hire workers--cowboys to give you access to better cattle and make it cheaper to buy them, engineers to help you construct stronger buildings, and conductors to give you a variety of bonuses. You’ll also want to get those buildings up and running in favorable positions before your opponents can take them. Maybe you’d rather do that on your first turn, or you might prefer to get that quick money and try to start a bit of a money snowball. Neither approach is wrong; the entire game is about having options and determining which is best under the circumstances of the moment.




What Great Western Trail does especially well is make myriad paths to victory available, and allow you to succeed at multiple scoring strategies without allowing you to be able to do everything. Want to hire cowboys for better, cheaper cattle? You’re probably not getting many engineers or conductors. The same applies if you focus on the other worker types, because even if you happen to have plenty of money, there is only one place on the board where you can hire workers, usually one per turn (two can be hired, but the overall expense is drastic). If you routinely save up to hire two workers per turn, you may not have the money to buy high-value cattle or all the buildings you want. You can only ship to each city once (except KC, which gives you bonus money but costs you a ton of victory points every time you stop there, and San Francisco, which is the hardest to reach), and you can only ship to a city if your cattle haul is valuable enough; if you keep racing into the station with more cattle, eventually you’ll run out of places to which you can ship, forcing you to take the KC penalty. If you focus on moving your train car forward to reduce shipping costs, you’re either doing fewer other things or taking longer to ship your cattle. You don’t have to focus on one specific thing, but you can’t juggle every possibility and do anything well enough to win.


And that’s because this game has eleven different scoring mechanisms. It can be a slog just picking apart your cattle deck and tracking all your bonuses to count them up at the end of the game, much less remaining aware of everything you have or could potentially get while pulling your strategy together as the game goes along. Your humble reviewer won his first game by just going along without much of a plan, then targeting things that synergized with what happened to end up on his side of the board (e.g. picking up several objective cards, buying what was needed to fulfill those objectives, and landing a station master bonus for having a bunch of objective cards). This worked because it was also everyone else’s first game. Someone who actually knew what they were doing would have blown this approach away, if only because they’d be more used to tracking all the possibilities. It’s the old story of a strength also being something of a weakness; whether it’s the depth you want or just too much to deal with depends on you.


As always, the main question is, does this game do what it’s trying to do? The answer seems to be yes. The game is quite tightly designed--yes, eleven methods of scoring is a lot, but the fact it’s still so playable despite that is impressive--and should have a high level of replayability. The need to adjust not just to your opponents and the board state, but the random contents of your hand, mean finding an objectively superior strategy becomes harder. Most impressively, no matter what kind of roadblocks your opponents throw up, you nearly always have the option to work around them if you decide to prioritize doing so. It’s a rare thing, but the kind of thing that keeps a game fresh.


9/10



01
Aug
Review: Astonishing X-Men #1



Astonishing X-Men #1

Review by: Anthony


With the recent success of both X-Men Gold and X-Men Blue along with other new X titles like Generation X, Jean Grey, Weapon X, and Iceman, the X-Men line is continuing with a more ‘main title’ feel with Astonishing X-Men. Since Marvel is heading back in the direction of classic Marvel storytelling with classic Marvel heroes, it’s important for the creative teams on these X-Men titles to balance the classic take of the X-Men family with the new, crazy Marvel continuity that has drastically changed who the X-Men are and which X-Men are still around. To say the least, the team isn’t the same as it used to be. Some characters are dead, some even from different timelines. The ages of our characters are different than most are used to and some are drastically different characters all together. With this in mind, these writers and artists have a massive undertaking they need to deliver on - as the X-Men reader base has been undoubtedly waiting for the return of a more familiar X-Men for some time now.




Much of what the X-Men entails is the struggle for Mutants to fit into the otherwise normal world around them. Despite their incredible power, X-Men only wish to live without having to hide from a regular life. However, despite their attempts - Mutants are always a potentially dangerous entity. Psychics are especially dangerous, as loss of control of their power can result in catastrophic consequences as we’ve seen in stories like the Dark Phoenix storyline. In Astonishing X-Men, a mysterious figure with a newfound ability to possess people from outside the very realm of reality understands this dangerous potential, and targets the world's strongest psychics beginning with Psylocke who, despite her best efforts to fight off her possessor, wreaks massive destruction upon an entire city. In a last ditch effort to save those she herself is attacking, she sends out a desperate message for help to a still fractured X-Men who are scattered across the globe, reaching the minds of Angel, Rogue, Logan, Beast, Gambit, and Bishop who all come rushing to her aid. With their combined efforts, they’re able to stop Psylocke’s rampage but hold out on celebration as Psylocke quickly explains in desperation that all psychics are in grave danger from this mysterious enemy, and that they must quickly find and defeat this would-be destroyer of the world.

What I have always found most fascinating about the X-Men is their struggle for acceptance in an unaccepting world. The X-Men is a more accurate, mainstream look at how the world would react to superheroes, sort of like Watchmen or what the DCEU was trying to do with their movie Batman v Superman. Astonishing X-Men #1 is a win for the naysayers of ‘mutantkind’ as it shows the absolute and uncontrollable destruction that these mutants can cause, and this is a huge blow to the already shattered X-Me, only furthering the mentality that mutants can never be trusted, and so continues the everlasting struggle for mutant acceptance. What better reason for a shaky mutant population to reband together once again and help to rekindle their relationships, something that X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold has also been trying to do. Additionally, this is just a really good comic book from both writing direction and artwork. It’s really well written so I’ll just leave it at that. This is such a good line of comics for the X-Men, and yet again, already quite a few titles down the line on their new runs, X-Men continues to exceed all my expectations.        10/10

27
Jul
Review: Shahrazad



Shahrazad

Reviewed by: Dave

1-2 players

15 minutes



 

In the time your humble reviewer has been a part of this space, only one game (Till Dawn) has, to paraphrase a sage dog puppet, deserved to be pooped on. That was over two years ago. In the interim, the games that have come to my attention have, even when flawed, possessed some sort of redeeming feature. Though there has not been the space to publish every review written, that’s a streak of over one hundred games which could be described as, at the very least, not awful.

 

Till Dawn now has a companion.

 

Shahrazad is a game loosely based on the myth of Scheherazade, the storyteller of 1,001 Arabian Nights fame. Why they decided to change her name to such a degree is a mystery; the actual character name has been used across numerous media and is in no way subject to copyright issues. Worse, even if they felt the need to separate themselves from the character for ephemeral reasons, they didn’t even come up with an original spelling; the exact same one was used for a Magic card from the old Arabian Nights set. The card can be forgiven, since it wasn’t even a creature, just a spell they decided to loosely base around the character concept. Shahrazad the new board game, on the other hand, is premised around storytelling, with the background being that you need to tell good stories or the king will become angry and kill you--the exact Scheherazade tale. So we have a game directly referencing Scheherazade without using her name, but instead using someone else’s variable spelling of it.

 

This is not a good start. If only the naming issue was the lone problem.

 

This is how Shahrazad works: there are twenty-two story tiles, split amongst four colors in variable quantities (four black, five yellow, six blue, seven red). Your goal is to play tiles one at a time, setting them up in such a way so as to have as many of each color connected, and more importantly, to make sure the tiles move left to right in ascending order. Once all the tiles are played, any that have lower-numbered tiles touching them on the right are flipped, which not only can make color groups smaller but also break the story as it moves forward, causing more tiles to flip and reducing the score of the player(s) further. Points are scored for the largest group of tiles in each color, and deducted for flipped tiles or any gaps in a column (which are sometimes left when trying to avoid getting tiles flipped). The final score is the cumulative total of two rounds. The maximum possible is 44; the top rank for two players is at 35+, for one player alone at 40+.



 

The real trouble here is not that the game is bad. It’s that this isn’t even a game. It’s a puzzle, and once it’s solved there’s little else to do. There aren’t many different ways to achieve the highest rank, especially since having the wrong set of tiles near the bottom can force a gap in a column and nudge your score down. This means you have to play to the optimal finish in order to ensure actually scoring high enough no matter what order the tiles are drawn. There may be different ways of doing this, especially in the solo game (solo allows four tiles per column, two-player only three per), but the end goal is always a variation on the same theme. Once you know approximately how the board needs to look at the end for a top score, your options become to play for that board every time, or purposely mangle your game just to see what happens. Neither of these are acceptable for anything that purports to be a game, as part of what makes something a game is replayability with at least some question as to how it will end every time.

 

To the slight credit of the designers, there is an option to replace one tile with another, which can’t be used twice in a row; if the result was based purely on playing and drawing and playing and drawing, this would be a nightmare. Whether or not you score well would be entirely dependent on the draw. But all this does is offer a tool so players can expect to win the great majority of the time. You save it until it’s the only reasonable play, then fix the problems on the board with it. It’s not much of a strategic tool.

 

I suppose the redeeming feature of this game is that it’s over quickly. That leaves space for other games to be worse (just as bad but longer), but it isn’t much to hang your hat on. Hard pass.

 

3/10



25
Jul
Review: A. D. #3



A.D. After Death #3

Review by: Anthony



 

The third and final installment of Scott Snyder’s and Jeff Lemire’s After Death novel-comic crossover has arrived, and as of Wednesday, all 3 are now collected in a super amazing looking hardcover graphic novel. I think I’ve done a review for both #1 and #2 of this series, because I think After Death is something truly special in the comic book world, and something that should be, and probably will be considered one of the most ambitious, memorable comic books ever created. Ambition is a little risky, and even more risky is writing a comic book that isn’t exactly immediately appealing to a typical comic book audience, and that’s exactly what After Death is - It’s long, filled with book like pages of text, and even somewhat slow in spots. However, every page of this masterpiece has been of the utmost important, and even with a risky comic like this one, with Scott Snyder, already a living legend within the comic book world doing the character driven, story heavy writing and Jeff Lemire, quickly gaining more fame over these past couple of years for his psychological writing styles, love for his characters, and a beautiful, watercolor art style, it’s difficult for this comic book to fail. However, as many good stories do, it hinged on its ending being good, satisfying, and mystifying all at once.

A.D. After Death follows the story of Jonah, a seemingly middle aged man living high in mountains with a community of elites, vips, and royalty. This community became secluded from the rest of the world, when science was able to discover a cure for aging, and only those with the prestige, or the connections were able to get their hands on it, and go to this mini utopia where the cure runs in the water. While the reader doesn’t exactly know what’s going on below, in the regular world, there are some assumptions made throughout the comic book that the world otherwise has ended, and the human race, save for those immortal in the mountains, are all but extinct. Those that have taken the cure have taken it for many years, decades and decades, which has allowed them to remain young and without sickness, however after so many years, many people have forgotten much of their past, being unable to contain all the knowledge and memory from so long ago. Jonah, our main character however, writes in journals that he often reads so he doesn’t forget his life so many years ago. A.D. After Death is essentially a reading of those journals, with a little bit of real time as well, following Jonah as he works in a large radio building searching for signals from the outside world. Through A.D. After Death, we learn of Jonah’s struggle with mortality, dealing with both of his parent’s deaths at a young age, and committing crime for a living in his early years. However, as we come to the cure for death, common themes of mortality are flipped on its head, and Jonah must now deal with the consequences and the difficulties of immortality, and both the psychological and mental repercussions that come with it. Late in his life, when Jonah finally, after so many years, discovered a distress signal from the world below, he chooses to leave his utopia, and set off into the unknown to find answers, and eventually die in peace. However, as we quickly learn in this final issue, there’s much more to Jonah’s life than meets the eye, and even his journals and mind may play tricks on him.

I can’t suggest A.D. After Death enough. With this rock star team, they’ve created one of the most memorable comic book experiences of my life, telling a wonderfully simple story in an epic way. Scott Snyder proves to the world here he can write so much more than a Batman story. His writing is beautifully crafted, and Lemire’s psychological art is ever complimentary. We’ll be keeping the graphic novel collection in the store as much as we possibly can, because we think this is an important read, so if anything, come check it out, you won’t regret it.

 

10/10



20
Jul
Review: Battle Star Galactica



Battlestar Galactica

Reviewed by: Dave

 

AHHHH CYLONS AHHHH

 

AHHHH I’M A CYLON AHHHH

 

Welcome to Battlestar Galactica.



 

Battlestar Galactica is a secret identity game based on the television show of the same name (newer version, with the awesome Starbuck). If you’re familiar with the show, you know the teams: human vs. Cylon. The goal of the humans is to make enough jumps through space to reach Earth before the Cylons destroy Galactica or deplete the survivors of a major resource (food, fuel, morale, or population) and make success impossible. The Cylons attempt, usually through subterfuge, to wreck the plans of Galactica and send the human race spiraling to a harrowing demise.

 

Wait, you might say. ‘Usually’ through subterfuge? Isn’t that the whole point of a secret identity game, for the bad guys to act entirely through subterfuge?

 

Once again, welcome to Battlestar Galactica.

 

No one can compel a Cylon to reveal their loyalty, though a Cylon may choose to reveal themselves; if a player dies (which can happen in expansions), their loyalty is shown. This is not simply deductive knowledge, however. The character that player chose is gone, but they pick a new one and continue as a revealed human or Cylon. While players can normally move around Galactica, the Colonial One, or the Pegasus (with the Pegasus expansion), revealed Cylons leave the fleet and avail themselves of Cylon-only locations and actions that more directly attempt to mess with the humans. Even in this situation, Cylons are still able to use influence cards when decisions need to be made (although they only draw one per turn rather than the normal five, so their use of that influence needs to be carefully judged). So having your secret figured out in no way ends your game or your ability to be effective, it just shifts how you engage with everyone else and everything that’s going on.

 

No matter how the game is set up, there are always more humans than Cylons. However, at the halfway point (once the fleet has made at least four of the eight required jumps), the loyalty cards that were not dealt at the start are dealt now. If any Cylon cards come out in this second batch, the people that receive them discover (assuming they’ve been playing as human) that they’re actually sleeper agents and work to help the Cylons win from that point forward. Additionally, in four- or six-player games, a sympathizer card is added in that can make someone work with the other side. Whoever receives the card flips it over immediately. If the fleet hasn’t fallen into the red in any of their resources, the player becomes a revealed Cylon and moves into the Cylon locations; if the fleet has gone into the red in something, the player is moved to the brig but has a revealed human loyalty for the rest of the game (in essence, they’re safe to release but a turn and some cards must be used to let them out of jail).



 

And none of this has even begun delving into the various things you can do on the fleet ships, how the Cylons chase you with their basestars and raiders, how there are a limited number of ships on each side and jumping leaves the Cylons in the dust (especially important in the Exodus expansion), or how characters can jump in a Viper and go fight the Cylons directly, rather than only do battle with NPC-manned ships defending the fleet. Nor does this do a sufficient job of explaining just how much the game can change with each expansion, especially since some parts of the expansions are optional.

 

The core BSG game is reasonably complex, requiring planning out how to best push the fleet towards Earth, or pretending that’s your goal, with numerous action options to choose from while also trying to figure out who the filthy traitor is. The expansions do nothing to reduce this, and with basically every change increase the complexity anywhere from a bit to substantially. You have to want to play a game like this to have a good time with it. And while the expansions offer a lot more ways to play, you then need to find the way you (and your gaming group) wants to play. Better that a game offers many decent-to-excellent options than too few; just know what you’re getting into jumping down this rabbit hole.

 

8/10




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