Saturday, 17 November 2018

BattleTech: Kick Starter

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

In between hunting pirates, Gabriel recruits a shady character called El Duce who literally pays 100,000 credit to join the team / escape from his planet. He is a better pilot than usual because apparently he's a Kickstarter backer!? He also has interesting information in that Kid working as a spy for the enemy. A quiet investigation supports this but instead of firing her, Gabriel keeps her on to feed her misinformation. El Duce also takes her spot on in the Catapult on the grounds that he has "more experience" (though Gabriel knew Kid was better than him by now).

I wish you were allowed to field more than 4 units.
The enemy has no such restriction.

Not long after Lady Kamea requests the Marauders aid once more, this time for some base defense against a large Directorate force. Fortunately it is mostly composed of light to medium mechs supported by a fleet of APCs. With good positioning, multiple base turrets, and misinformation fed to the enemy, they are easily wiped out. Kid, realizing she's been made, attempts a last ditch attack on the Argo using a virus vial. Rattlesnake and Silverlight manage to tackle her into a sealed room when the vial breaks though, exposing only the three of them to the sickness.

They are immediately taken to the now high tech medical facilities of the ship, and while treatment would take awhile - all of them would live. In tears, Kid explains she was forced to do this to try save her family who had been enslaved to Kamea's evil uncle. Despite the damage she caused, the team promise that they'll do their best to help her.

Friday, 16 November 2018

BattleTech: The Front Lines

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Gabriel, Viking, Rattlesnake and Silverlight (now in a Catapult mech) arrived at the spaceport just in time to help defend it against waves of Taurian lances. Even with the allied turrets and ground forces assisting, it was a close fight but ultimately all the Taurian mechs fell and all the evacuation ships took off with full loads of refugees. Almost immediately afterwards they went to intercept an elite Directorate recon team composed of very skilled pilots - not as skilled as the Marauders though, and as they walked away from that victory with a Battlemaster.

Using a dense sand storm as cover from radar detection, the squad then advanced to capture Directorate silos in a nearby canyon - a very easy stealth mission for the crew.  The Directorate then sent out their big guns, a lance composed of mechs they retrieved from Castle Nautilus composed of a Black Knight, Grasshopper, King Crab and a Highlander - much like the one Gabriel was piloting!

Strong armor and deadly weapons at close range.

It's a tough fight, and despite their superior tactics the King Crab manages to get in range of its devastating weapons and shreds Viking and his Thunderbolt into pieces. The Kid, who had just mostly been honing her skills in the training module until now takes his place as the Marauders withdraw to do side missions to recoup the losses. She pilots the Catapult while Silverlight upgrades to the Battlemaster.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

BattleTech: Federated Suns

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Before Ostergaard's Fortress dropship could lift off again, Lady Kamea ordered her fleet to scatter to make pursuit more difficult. The Argo went its own way, laying low in House Davion's territory (also known as the Federated Suns) and hunting pirates for them. Gabriel was most pleased with Lady Kamea's latest gift, a thank you from Castle Nautilus, in the form of a Starleague Highlander mech - a good blend of speed, power and armor.

"So, when do we get to try out the Highlander?" Rattlesnake would ask. "Over my dead body," would be Gabriel's semi-serious reply.

It's a very good robot.

The pirates had begun fielding some serious numbers now, but through careful tactics, Gabriel led his squad to victory after victory, assembling more fearsome war machines, and celebrating with a party in the new garden aboard the Argo.

After a few weeks Lady Kamea finally called, and she had an urgent task for them. Instead of pursuing the fleet, Ostergaard went to the prison Lady Victoria was being held at and freed her. For good measure, he also started killing everyone on the planet who "support Lady Kamea". The citizens fleeing to the star ports needed protection and since this was obviously a trap to lure Kamea out, the Marauders would be sent instead.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

BattleTech: Ostergaard's Rage

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

"Kamea, you're about to have company," warned Gabriel over the comms as he watched the large red blip on the radar get closer. While his own people had already pulled out from Castle Nautilus, Kamea's support crafts were still loading the precious cargo that they found. "Let them come," replied Kamea defiantly. "My uncle doesn't have the resources to match these war machines."

"I don't think that's from Directorate ... it... it's a Taurian Fortress Class dropship! Get out of there!"

"Lady Kamea," boomed a new voice through the speakers as the ground began to quake with the . "I am Samuel Ostergaard, a new ally to the Directorate and I have come for your head!"

Knowing there was no time to waste, Kamea ordered a full evacuation and boarded the nearest Atlas mech while her body guards Charybdis, Reynard and Kanalon boarded other types of Starleague design as the rear guard. By the time the elevator returned them to the surface, light lances of Taurian mechs were already charging the castle but were easily wiped out by Starleague weaponry.

One of the smallest mechs punching the largest.

This didn't deter Samuel though, who simply sent waves of his own assault mechs in coordination with artillery strikes. It was a tough fight, with Kanalon being shredded limb from limb much like his Black Knight. Kamea's Atlas was also in bad shape towards the end, but her martial arts skills ended Ostergaard's final pursuer who blocked the way to the extraction point.

"I will find you Kamea," he promised on an open channel as she escaped. "I will avenge my son!"

Only when she was back in the safety of space did they realize Ostergaard's son was the pilot of the Newgrange, and because of that one death the Restoration had an entirely new and more powerful enemy house to deal with.

BattleTech: Castle Nautilus

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With Lady Victoria behind bars, Gabriel decided to spend the big payday earned from the last mission on more ship upgrades and recruitment gaining "Kid" the young gun, and a tough looking brute called Viking. They were immediately deployed with Silverlight and Rattlesnake and proved themselves by recovering Restoration operatives while destroying many Directorate light lances, as well as one pirate scouting party. Gabriel, on the Argo, took care of the pirate space vessels at the same time - saving some civilian transports in the process.

Not long afterwards, Lady Kamea came aboard the Argo for a special treasure hunting mission. She had acquired a map to an old Starleague base called Castle Nautilus long thought lost. The Marauders headed to the isolated little planet and landed, with Lady Kamea leading the way in her own Kintaro with Silverlight, Rattlesnake and Viking providing support against the surprisingly dangerous endless waves of automated drones that activated on their approach.

This was particularly scary for Rattlesnake in the unarmored Kintaro, as he had to sprint forward to the castle gates with the rest of his team mates. Silverlight provided good cover though, and Viking acted as rear guard in a Thunderbolt. Once they could access the gate control panel, Lady Kamea could finally shut off the defenses and the team gained access to the castle proper. Turns out the castle is a warehouse of pristine Starleague Assault mechs!

Odd thing to forget about.

Monday, 12 November 2018

BattleTech: Surprise Encounter

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

The next task from Lady Kamea is to take down a refueling drop ship called the Newgrange which is supposedly smuggling supplies for the Directorate. While the turret generators were sniped with ease by Silverlight, the medium mech lance defending the platform was crushed by Rattlesnakes bombardment. The drop ship pilot pleaded on the comms saying they were only transporting civilians but letting them go wasn't what Lady Kamea was paying them for. Gabriel didn't hesitate to shoot the fuel lines sending a chain reaction of explosions into the solid hull of the ship, destroying it and whatever cargo it held.

Enemy destroyed.

At that moment, a new enemy lance landed - surprisingly led by Kamea's evil cousin: Lady Victoria! These mechs were fully armored, heavier than usual and had trained pilots to boot. Discord and Gabriel acted as the tanks, drawing fire away from the long range missile pair who were doing the majority of the damage. Victoria was a good shot though, and lazered right into the cockpit of Discord's Thunderbolt, frying him into crispy pata.

Gabriel then used his Dragon's speed and piloting skills to get up and destroy Victoria's mech in close quarters only to have her eject at the last minute. When her team then focused fire on him, he had to do the same as the Dragon is utterly destroyed. Fortunately the rest of Victoria's squad was badly damaged at that point, and were finished off from the ridge line by Rattlesnake and Silverlight.

Now on foot, Gabriel rushed over to Victoria's escape pod and found her unconscious. He was tempted to kill her right there, but being royalty and all he decided to instead capture her for questioning.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

BattleTech: High Morale

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With the squad now composed of Silverlight in the Griffin (scout), Discord in the Vindicator (skirmisher), Rattlesnake in the Trebuchet (support), and Gabriel in the Dragon (close quarters heavy) they begin thrashing the opposition, defeating competing merc companies, rescuing scientists, capturing pirate bases and defending Restoration strongholds. They even successfully hunt an outlaw in a Thunderbolt mech with little problem.

Shooting people in the back is the way to victory!

Indeed the most major loss for awhile is when Rattlesnake tried to upgrade an Autocannon 5 and ended up wrecking it. Apparently Silverlight had tried to teaching him some tech work. It's a good time on board the Argo, and watching the Solaris Championship (Mech gladiator TV) in the new entertainment area only strengthened the teams morale.

Their next job came from the government of Lyreton who claimed to have sighted an enemy heavy mech, but this turned out to only be a ruse to get the Marauders to help them defend against the invading Capellan Confederation. Unhappy at being lied to, Gabriel then sided with the Capellan's to assassinate the government official who lied to them, before switching sides once more to protect a city from Capellan attack. While the Marauder's didn't really make any friends there, they came out richer and with a brand new Thunderbolt mech which would replace Discord's Vindicator and a Kintaro, which would replace Rattlesnake's Trebuchet.

Following the specs originally suggested by Jim, Gabriel had the Kintaro stripped of all armor, jump jets, heat sinks and weapons other than long range missiles. Rattlesnake now had three times the number of missiles to fire before running out.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

BattleTech: Perfect Practice makes Perfect

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

From the scraps of the last battle the Marauders manage to assemble a Trebuchet, which Gabriel uses as a long range missile platform (another suggestion from Jim). He also trades in his lighter mechs to purchase a Griffin. He then takes his squad to the outer periphery to fight lesser pirates and build up their skills, with Discord in the Vindicator, Gabriel in the Griffin and Rattlesnake far away in the Trebuchet.

Their performance improves drastically and so does the Marauders income with the excess going to making the Argo even more habitable and hiring Sarah Excel Silverlight to pilot a salvaged Blackjack. Silverlight seems to also have some tech skills, managing to upgrade a medium laser within her first week on board. It's not long before Lady Kamea gives them another mission: to take an ammo dump from Directorate forces. The yard is defended by turrets and two lances of mechs, the second one sporting a heavier set including a Dragon.

Tons of missiles yet still, melee is more fun.

Master flanks the facility from the ridge line and explodes some of the ammo dumps, taking care of the turrets and damaging the heavies while Discord and Silverlight flank the lights, landing numerous back shots. Rattlesnake eventually runs out of missiles, but at that point the remaining mechs are so damaged that he can melee them to death. The mission is a success, and from it Gabriel can rebuild the enemy Dragon though it requires selling the Blackjack for funding and components. Silverlight is assigned the Griffin instead.

Friday, 9 November 2018

BattleTech: The Wise Man

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Downtrodden with the company's losses, Gabriel finds himself at an Orbit Bar while the other team members get some needed shore leave. There he meets another mercenary leader called Wild Jim who offers him some advice on battle tactics. He takes the lessons onboard and regroups at the Agro where Medusa has returned with a new hire, Michael Gray, who strikes Gabriel as an unhinged serial killer type - perhaps his claim of being stuck in some bunker with an annoying woman for years (whom he presumably murdered) is actually true.

The next job is to assassinate a Directorate leader, one of the House Arano rebels. Gabriel deploys the last three mechs they have, all lights. Discord manning the Locust, Rattlesnake in a Spider, and Medusa in the trusty Vindicator. They come up against five mechs led by a Cicada, and while Discord is wounded  (and his mech damaged) in the clash they find victory through hit and run tactics ("always be on the move" as suggested by Jim) and salvage a Jaguar and a Jenner in the process.

Lady Arano then asks for their assistance in taking over a spaceport on a nearby planet, specifically to destroy their command center within to slow an advancing Directorate fleet. Gray, Rattlesnake, Medusa and Master deploy, and are assisted by Restoration engineers who manage to turn the local turrets into allies midway through the mission. Gabriel manages to sneak around the defending mechs in his Jenner to destroy the command post while the other three keep them busy using Jim's advice of targeting specific sections to go for ammo storage or sever weaponry from opponents. Gray in the Spider is melted early on though, and Medusa is really banged up in the Vindicator but manages to reach the extraction point just in time.

Despite that, Medusa never wakes from his wounds and dies on the operating table of the Argo. 

People die off the battlefield too.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

BattleTech: Run Faster

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Gabriel awakes just in time to see the Argo on fire. Luckily, Judge and Medusa react quickly to put it out. Apparently the new cabling for the training pod was somewhat faulty. "Don't worry Master, you just continue to rest up. I got this," assured Medusa before departing for another deployment. This time it was an escort mission to get four APCs filled with weaponry to an extraction point. The pirates are interested in said weaponry too and field two lances of mechs to stop them.

It is a mad dash to the waypoint, and when Judge is tripped up by heavy autocannon fire her sister Tranquility turns around to martial arts the pursuers. This buys Judge sometime to recover and limp onward but is knocked down again. Before she can stand a second time a rain of missiles falls upon her, one breaching the cockpit glass and penetrating through her right shoulder before exploding.

Tranquility yells in despair as her sister dies, leaving her open for an enemy Shadowhawk to punch through her rear armor. She is completely surprised to find herself right in the palm of the enemy mech, who then promptly crushes her in a shower of blood. During this time one of the APCs is also disabled, but the rest of the team extract successfully. The 1 million+ credits Medusa negotiated for payment barely covers their losses.

Get us out of here!

BattleTech: Rookie Trials

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With Gabriel unconscious in the medbay and a few pilots down, Medusa and Glitch decide to hire more help - specifically a team of rookies each for trials.

There's no shortage of them apparently!

Medusa recruits the Blaugustian Discord, sly guy Rattlesnake and prim and proper gal Broadway whom he takes to ambush a convoy. Broadway, riding a Jenner, doesn't even survive the first exchange of bullets leaving the others a harder time to complete the mission. They still do, but right afterwards Rattlesnake makes the mistake of dismounting from his mech to claim some "personal" salvage and is ambushed by humanoid insect like natives. He fights them off but is wounded in the exchange.

Meanwhile Glitch assembles a team composed of the sisters Judge and Tranquility as well as a man with piercing eyes with the callsign Shiver. They deploy on a what's meant to be an easy mission of destroying a pirate lance acting as forward observers, but everything goes to hell when a second lance arrives in a flanking position. Glitch manages to get her team up to a lake in the mountains which helps the mechs keep cool while firing but it isn't enough for Shiver who overheats his mech, making him an easy target for an enemy Blackjack. Shiver dies burning in agony.

Glitch manages to keep the others at bay for the most part, with Judge showing off her evasive piloting skills while Tranquility messes up some of the enemies with her robot jujitsu. Unfortunately an enemy manages to flank Glitch and kill her from the back, moments before Tranquility destroys it with a fist through the chest and earning a mission victory. Seeing something must be done with all the novices, Medusa orders the tech team to start building training pods so they can practice and gain skills before hitting the battlefield for real.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

BattleTech: Broken

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With the bank debts cleared thanks to Lady Arano's funding, the Marauders manage to get in some little jobs of cleaning up brigands and damaged straggler lances before being summoned once more by Lady Kamea to aid in a prison break. The plan is for her forces to engage the majority of the defenses, leaving the back door open for Master's Marauders to breach the prison. Gabriel, Behemoth, Glitch and Dekker (now in a Panther mech) deploy once more and have an easy time taking out the few tanks and defense turrets left to defend the prison exterior wall.

They are in for a nasty surprise when they jump over it though, finding a heavy lance had been left as rear guard. The fighting is furious, and Behemoth gets "cored" by the enemy Jagermech, killing her through internal explosions. Soon after, Dekker is tripped up and screams like a bitch as a Centurion frame stops down hard on the cockpit crushing him like a bug. It's at this time Lady Kamea arrives in her own Kintaro robot, busting through another wall to offer support.

Size advantage is a thing.

Gabriel and Glitch jump up to the high walls where they have an easier time scoring critical hits against the enemies, but it is truly Lady Kamea that saves the day with her rockets and martial arts. While Glitch manages to make it through with minor injury, Gabriel is severely wounded and near comatose as his mech had already lost a leg and both arms by the end of combat. As compensation, Lady Kamea gives the Marauders the now semi-repaired ancient spaceship that the team secured from the pirate moon. It is named "the Argo".

Monday, 5 November 2018

BattleTech: Master's Marauders

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Gabriel somehow escaped capture that day, and found himself joining a rag tag mercenary group called the Marauders. It didn't take long for them to realize he was the best of them and after sometime they decided to make him their leader, earning him the moniker of "Master".  It was after getting double crossed by some contractors (again) that he really sat down to look at the company finances. With the debts to the bank on top of all the other repairs, roster salaries and space ship expenses, things did not look good for Master's Marauders.

He decided to start negotiating contracts with better salvage rights, since selling recovered gear seemed to be more lucrative than getting a flat fee. Not that the tactic worked very well since it was mech parts that sold well, and his lance was mostly going up against various vehicles of pirate factions. Fortunately a mysterious contract came out of the blue, requesting his team to retrieve an old, crashed spaceship from a pirate moon base. The pay was huge, so regardless of the risks his second in command - a smelly guy named Medusa convinced Gabriel to deploy the squad.

With covering fire from Glitch's vindicator, Dekker in his agile spider mech was quick to reach and disable the turret generators protecting the pirate base. Once there it became more a brawl against the numerous but poorly maintained enemy forces. This is where Behemoth showed off her martial arts skills in the Shadowhawk, engaging in robot-fu against the pirate queen and her cohorts.

Melee is a great attack alternative for overheating mechs!

With the day won and the pirates cleared out the mysterious contact reveals herself to be none other than Lady Kamea herself, and expresses her desire for Gabriel's team to aid in her restoration movement.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

BattleTech: Rebellion

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

"We're on," barked Raju's grumpy voice over the comms. "On my way," replied Gabriel as he throttled his Blackjack mech into a jog. He had worked for Raju ever since arriving from the Deep Periphery, and was now escorting the future queen - Lady Kamea Arano to her coronation. As was tradition, Lady Kamea piloted her own mech as the trio advanced through the woods to the ceremony grounds.

It wasn't a long hike before they were meant to be joined by the rest of the royal guard, but instead of finding a parade of vehicles waiting to join the entourage they instead found ... gunfire! The rebels, piloting light mechs and tanks sure picked a good day for it but were totally out gunned by their targets. "What's going on?" demanded Kamea over the radio as she noticed her own house insignia on the vehicles of her fallen foes.

"Mi'lady!" came back a distressed voice, one of her closest friends. "You need to get out of here, your uncle's troops have taken control of..." A loud explosion followed by static ended the transmission. "We're not far from the Beta Dropship," grumbled Raju. "We can make our escape from there." Kamea thought twice about arguing with the man her recently deceased father appointed as Captain of the Guard. "Very well," was all she could muster.

The squad made good time to the spaceport, and slaughtered the enemy mechs stationed there who attempted to block their passage. Just as Kamea made it on board, Lady Victoria, Kamea's cousin, arrived in with her own kill squad to stop the escape. While Gabriel and Raju turned to face the pursuers, Gabriel's Blackjack suddenly ejected him without warning. "You taught me well Raju," came Victoria's snide voice. "I had some alterations done to your friends mech there. You know how I hate fighting fair."

Those are terrible odds.

"You traitor!" bellowed Raju as he charged headlong into the enemy squad. Gabriel could only watch Raju's bot was beaten down into a trash heap while Kamea's escape ship lifted off behind him.

BattleTech

Part of the Mech Warrior universe, BattleTech is currently the latest in the long line of games featuring greatly customizable giant robots blasting the heck out of other giant robots. This particular game is of a tactical, turn based variety and makes a good base for the next story set!

Chapter 01 - Rebellion
Chapter 02 - Master's Marauders
Chapter 03 - Broken
Chapter 04 - Rookie Trials
Chapter 05 - Run Faster
Chapter 06 - The Wise Man
Chapter 07 - Perfect Practice makes Perfect
Chapter 08 - High Morale
Chapter 09 - Surprise Encounter
Chapter 10 - Castle Nautilus
Chapter 11 - Ostergaard's Rage
Chapter 12 - Federated Suns
Chapter 13 - The Front Lines 
Chapter 14 - Kick Starter

Saturday, 3 November 2018

The Princess Bride

Review this movie? As you wish!

The majority of this movie is a tale told by a grandfather to his grandson, which is a nice blend of fantasy romance comedy. It tells a tale of true love and more importantly, is highly entertaining to watch!

Especially this fantastic duel!

This is in the era before computer generated effects, so it resorts to the more relatable stunt and prop methods which really work for it. A good story, good acting, good comedy bits, good cinematography... this film a complete package. Yes, there are some parts that make no sense but just enjoy the ride. The low body count makes it suitable for kids too!

Highly recommended and one I'd definitely watch again. I give the Princess Bride 4.5 fencing duels out of 5.

Friday, 2 November 2018

November 2018 Status

So much for being productive! Instead, I've been hammering Neverwinter Online as of late, trying to get as much out of the salvage system before the next module: Heart of Fire, removes it - something I'm not very happy with. I am quite digging the broom rewards from the current Masquerade event though. :P

    End the year with less weight (0 kg from last month, running total still: -3.9 kg)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (11/12)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (no progress)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Sims 3

Board games:
Witcher board game redemption trial (done)
Mice and Mystics Campaign (6/11)
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (3/10)
Play Zombie in my Pocket (done)
London Dread Campaign (0/4)
Play Adamastor (0/2 modes)

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Zombie in my Pocket (Single Player Version)

Small enough to travel with you!

This is my first foray into Print and Play games, which I imagine is as close as you can get to Free to Play in the board game variety. It's free to download, you just have to do some scissoring prep work afterwards before you can play. :)

Note: As alluded to in the title, this review is for the 1 player free version. Apparently there's a paid 1-8 player version available.

Designed to literally fit in your pocket, this is clever little solitaire type card game where in you must explore a house and its grounds to stop a zombie uprising. Exploration is done by flipping over little tiles and a cycling event deck that tells you what you encounter.

Obviously I only printed in black and white.

Combat is a simple math equation, and if you run out of health or run out of time (via the event deck running out 3 times), you lose. If you find the doohickey in the secret temple and manage to bury it in the graveyard you win!

While there's a tiny modicum of choice here (mainly in resting gives you HP but kills time), most of your games will boil down to luck. Just like Solitaire, but more fun. Pretty cool if you are into that sort of thing, but obviously no match for a game with multiplayer. I give it 2 femurs out of 5.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Bright

Modern day fantasy.

This movie is a strange blend of police procedural and action in a modern world inhabited by fantasy races (and filled with fantastic racism). The main protagonists are a cop duo of Nick (Joel Edgerton), the first orc cop, and Daryl (Will Smith) who seems to be the only black cop.

He makes the show.

Everyone hates everyone for various reasons, and the appearance of a magic wand which is equal parts illegal, dangerous, and valuable acts as a catalyst for some/a lot of violence.

There are huge holes in this story, some from the main antagonist and the elf female lead (if you can call her that?), but mostly from not defining what magic can do and what the cost of using it is. 

Despite that, I really ended up enjoying this movie especially orc cop Nick who is the clear MVP here. Probably not for everyone, but I certainly liked it and would watch it again. I give it 3 fairy pests out of 5.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Neverwinter Online: Green Dragon Cultist Recruitment

[Part of the Gallery]

While the Black Dragon Cultists are numerous in Neverwinter Online, the Green Dragon Cultists are quite few in number. I thought it would be due to being more selective...

Turns out they are just dragon worshiping Nazis.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Black Panther

Expect to say "Blek Penther" alot after watching it.

After winning the cosmic lottery via a useful space rock, Wakanda advances rapidly in technology and decides to hide from the rest of the world. The story picks up as a new king, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is crowned and must deal with Wakanda's state of secrecy and consequences of tradition.

As a Marvel superhero movie, the visuals here are really neat and the actors all get a thumbs up. Alas those are the only things it has going for it as the story is quite silly, the main bad is confusing (or just stupid), and the climactic fight is a PG CGI brawlfest.

Only the King gets the cool armor.

The Wakandan warriors (who seem to also be trained in song and dance while standing near dangerously high drops) also suffer from "spin the weapon while waiting to attack" syndrome which is unfortunate.

It's mindless entertainment, but this is one hero who either doesn't really need a 2nd movie or alternatively, needs a fantastic 2nd movie. I give this 2.5 drug using monarchs out of 5 and have no desire to watch it again.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Neverwinter Online: Black Dragon Cultist Recruitment

[Part of the Gallery]

Due to the endless swarms of dragon cultists in Neverwinter Online, I started thinking "how do they recruit all these people?"

Works for Viagra I guess? :P

Friday, 26 October 2018

Memento

"Now, where was I?"

After suffering an injury during a home invasion, Leonard (Guy Pearce) can no longer make new memories but that doesn't stop him in seeking revenge in this well written and well acted thriller.

Now there are few movies that I've seen which require your full attention at all times, but this is clearly one of them as half of the story is presented in reverse chronological order.

But is this a lie?

While it makes it harder to follow, it also makes it far more engaging. Guy Pearce does a fantastic job as Leonard, but so are the rest of the cast. As I don't want to spoil it, I'll just say if you haven't seen it yet please do so, as it is a very good film. Just be warned, it's not one you can switch your brain off while watching. I give it out 4 insulin shots of 5 and would certainly watch it again.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Freebie! SCP: Secret Laboratory

Horror and Comedy rolled into one.

The SCP Foundation holds some of the strangest monsters known (or should I say unknown) to man. Based on the single player game SCP: Containment Breach (which is also free), this game plays out a scenario where everything gets loose. The only difference is this is multiplayer!

So yes, while everything has the horror vibe you still get kids on the mic, people with harmonicas, and other randoms to listen to. Fortunately you will only hear those close to you or of your team which does add some funny entertainment and/or annoyance.

Don't blink or it will kill you.

Along with a randomly generated map each game, you will also be randomly spawned as one of the various faction classes: Class-D prisoner, Scientist, Nine-Tail Fox soldier, Chaos Insurgent, or one of the unique SCPs. Your goal will vary as appropriate to either be escape, contain, or kill.

I've been playing on a server with 40 players so things tend to get crazy, however the respawn delay is pretty long which means there's a fair bit of down time upon death. Sometimes, you also don't respawn so try not to die! Not the best in terms of graphics or control but it potentially can be a fun diversion. Best of all is that it's currently free on Steam! I give it 2 neck snaps out of 5 and recommend it to SCP or horror fans.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Mummy (2017)

One very confused movie.

Nick (Tom Cruise) is a greedy soldier who values wealth over all things and when he uncovers a sarcophagus of a cursed ancient Egyptian things get very bad, and very strange.

This is one reboot that definitely doesn't work for me with characters being stupid, scary things being funny, plot points not making sense, and surprisingly a lack of acting skill for some people. Tom Cruise is good, but his character is basically unlikable.

Just kill me know sand storm. Kill me now.

Adding Russel Crowe's character and organization is also just ... wrong. I suspect even he knew how absurd it was based on some of his scenes. Despite some comedy bits working well and decent enough effects this isn't one I'd watch again, and only give it out 1.5 camel spiders of 5.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Neverwinter Online: Faster Weeklies in Barovia

Repetitive tasks get old quick, and while Barovia is quite a nice place here are some pointers to get you through some of the weeklies quicker.

1) Do the Yesterhill BHE earlier during the week cycle. More people trying to do it means more chances for you to get it done.

2) After doing the Pack of Lies instance, you get a weekly that covers the same ground. If you aren't hunting cards then you can skip most of the early combat in the repeating weekly thusly:

-After examining first body, mount up and ride on before spawning wolves catch you.

-After examining 2nd body ride on all the way to the mouth of the cave. If your mount is fast enough, you can avoid all exterior combat. Jump up and Spam F to enter the cave and bypass the wolf man right outside.

-Inside the cave, you must kill the group in the tunnel, then you can run past everything else without aggroing them by running through the lake. Fight the Alpha and run out the same way you came in.

-Once you get out, mount up and circle to your right to flank the pack leaders. Range attack them to lure them to you and then just focus on hurting one till they flee. Note: you will need to pull back after your first attack or your companion will charge and aggro everything. After this point, you'll need to kill everything else.

3) Bypassing enemies in the Old Bonegrinder instance is easier:

- Run past most of the spiders, kill the set at the dead end and kill the witch.

- While mounted, stick to the right side of the forest (hug the mist) when triggering the next cut scene then escape (ESC) out of it as soon as you can and run past the initial scarecrows. If you then hug the left side while crossing the farm you can avoid all those scarecrows too.

- Lure the second witch a little bit and kill her and her summon. If you go too far away she'll call you a coward and reset position/HP. Note: Let the summon aggro you from line of sight. If you range attack, all the field scarecrows will wake up.

- Afterwards, if you are fast enough you might be able to rush and spam F to get into the basement but that only has worked for me when wolves guard the door and not shadow demons. After this point, you'll need to kill everything else.

That's it from me, hope it's been of some help to you!

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Shadowrun: Whole

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

The headcases become significantly less organized after dealing with Jane, giving some breathing room at Smedley's Square. Despite the continued lock down spirits are high, for Carol particularly as she has earned enough money to get out of Smedley's debt.

For an exorbitant fee, she undergoes surgery again - removing her robotic limbs to be replaced by a vat grown variety. As a bonus, the donor was even of the same skin color so only the keenest of eyes could tell they weren't originally her own.

Almost good as new.
Also, less cybernetics means better magic abilities!

During recovery Carol is visited by her few friends and allies, including Smedley who congratulates her and lets her recover in peace.

"When you're ready to work again, you know where to find me."

Carol hoped that would be awhile yet, as she still had funds left over to enjoy some simple luxuries.

A victory requires a celebration after all!

Shadowrun: Left for Dead

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

When they find her, Jane is in the center of a large circular room connected to all sorts of wires and is now totally possessed by the virus. The squad makes quick work of her generators, taking cover from her radial fire virus wall attacks as they advance.

This only makes Jane angry, as she summons large waves of hounds, headcases and turrets  to protect her. Barbel is eventually brought down by a pack of dogs, Maxine severely wounded by gunfire and Batshit takes a full hit of the virus wall attack when he is caught in the open, effectively disintegrating him.

Jane is being worn down though, and at an opportune moment - Carol pulls out Smedley's Vindicator chain gun and empties it at her frenemy. Jane is torn from the wires and collapses in a heap. There are too many headcases still around so Carol grabs Maxine and the two get out of there, leaving Jane for dead.

Defeated, but possibly still alive.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Shadowrun: What Doesn't Kill You

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

With the virus release imminent Sarah is quick to pull the plug on the mainframe. Jane responds by making it explode somehow, killing the police officer and most of Carol's team. She herself is knocked her out and awakens to find herself about to be experimented on by Aztech scientists at a strange lab.

Another common occurrence it seems.

Carol manages to free herself and kill the lab rats, but then finds herself in a large room surrounded by powerful headcases while Jane mocks her over the speaker system. Fortunately a team composed of Lanfey, Bardo and Payday arrive just in time to rescue her. Smedley clearly cares about his investment!

As thanks, Carol volunteers to lead the attack against Jane who is easily tracked as she is creating a massive power spike for some nefarious purpose. She loads up on weaponry and assembles the kill squad of Barbel, Maxine and Batshit - the only other survivor from the control room explosion who is equally keen for some pay back.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Shadowrun: New Age Spam

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

There's no time to worry about Jane's new behavior as the team finds Smedley's Square under direct assault by Aztech forces, now desperate since their bombing attempt failed. Carol joins up with Batshit, Blood Countess and Darwin, a dwarf hammerite, to stop them.

Manastorm is very effective!

Between Blood Countess' turrets and Batshit's new AoE spell they aren't much of a challenge. As soon as they are defeated Smedley sends them on the offensive, along with Sarah and four militia guys to attack the main Aztech broadcasting tower (the only one left working) and broadcast Allison's recorded report which contains the truth about Aztechnology and the virus beyond the quarantine zone.

The militia guys don't make it past the parking lot, getting slain by eagle shamans, blood spirits, and one to a guard dog but the rest penetrate the facility just fine - with Darwin actually surviving toe to toe against blood spirits with his hammer. Upon reaching the control room, Jane radios in to reveal she has other ideas.

They are going to broadcast the virus instead.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Shadowrun: Weaponized Malware

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

Nicki Law must have spilled the beans because not long after the last outing, Aztechnology sends in sappers to Smedley's Square. Without time to get her usual squad she joins Ratdoktor and male counterparts Bardo, an orc chain gunner, and Batshit, a tattooed mage to cleanse the tunnels of Aztech fanatics who are *guarding timed explosives*.

One of the zealot sun priests manages to kill Ratdoktor with an eviscerating spell, but the team manages to defuse all the bombs in time. Jane then has a breakthrough in regards to the virus: it's part dragon blood/part nano tech - one heck of a way to weaponize a dragon.

Apparently that's a common thing.

The best place to find more info is at the research lab tied to the data Jane found, so she takes Carol, Bardo, Blood Countess and Maxine (another autogunner) to the location and the team gets past the heavy security, including more mechs, to let Jane hook up directly to their mainframe. While all of Aztechs dirty secrets are now revealed, Jane seems to start acting funny...

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Shadowrun: Carol's Company

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

Aztechnology Corp really has roots in this mysterious plague, trying to erase data, bribe Knight Errants to cover up a crime scene, and subsequently try to just wipe out all the Knight Errant cops. All of this fails thanks to Carol and company. Smedley is most impressed.

After escorting the reporter to take pictures of the stadium and office tower (sites the dragon attacked from way back when), and keeping her safe from the influx of new headcases, Carol's team is sent to an Aztech serverfarm to hack up more data.

At least Allison isn't totally useless.

This one is guarded by NeoNet drones and battlemechs! While they complete the objective, Nicki Law is tazered down during the escape run to the elevator and is captured by the enemy.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Shadowrun: Special Delivery

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

After the losses from last time, Carol is tasked with assembling a new team to do some recovery an air dropped package for Smedley. This includes Nicki Law, an Asian autorifler, elf mage Lanfey, and Barbel a troll hammerite.

A quick detour through headcase tunnels where hive controller heavies are attempting to overload valves of a nearby power plant serves as a good warm up before the squad heads topside to battle Aztech forces who are also interested in said package.

The eagle shamans have a suicide ability to turn themselves into blood spirits which is quite terrifying. Fortunately the roof top area is spacious and open enough to weaken the monsters at a distance.

And finish them off point blank

Upon reaching the package they find it contains a person: en elf reporter named Allison Sanborn. They steal another ambulance and take her back to Smedley's Square.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Shadowrun: No Appointment

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

With the square secure, Sarah reveals Luna spilled the beans about the Dragonslayer gang working as muscle for the Aztechnology corporation. Carol, Halon, Zue Zue, Thunderb0lz and Ratdoktor are sent to pay her company contact a visit at their office which is heavily guarded by sun mages and tough jaguar adepts who can survive point blank shotgun blasts to the face.

As they fight their way up, Zue Zue is gunned down for being too forward and getting flanked. Similarly, Thunderb0lz is "jaguared" when she is too far back and is caught by an elevator lobby ambush.

Jaguar Adept table top version.

When the team arrives at the target's office, they are too late as he is executed just as they enter. The assassin jumps out the window and leaves a powerful blood spirit to cover his escape. The monster evades the initial salvo then forces itself into Halon's mouth, effectively drowning her.

While it is doing this, Ratdoktor unloads her shotgun into Halon, killing both her teammate and the spirit. She and Carol then grab what data files they can and flee the scene.

Shadowrun: Property Defense

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

Carol awakens back at Smedley's Square, having been saved by her team. Mostly. Her arms and legs have now been replaced by robotic ones as apparently her original limbs were too damaged to save so Smedley had them hacked off.

Graphite was the only color available.

She is understandably upset, but now most of her is technically Smedley's property (which he can turn off remotely), she has no choice but to comply with any and all of his tasks. He wanted to get money back on his investment after all.

Eventually cleared to return to the field, her first task is to help defend the tunnels beneath the square against a massive invasion of headcases. Her old team mates Sarah, Halon, Ratdoktor, and Thunderb0lz are among the other defenders against the tide.

Among the headcases are suicide bombers which become key in stopping their allies. Victorious underground they head up to the street level to assist in covering Blood Countess in setting up defense turrets and Zue Zue in establishing a magic barrier but these are easy compared to the initial assault. The headcases eventually fall back.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Shadowrun: No Escape

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

Sarah learns a few things from Luna, the first in regards to a bunch of live captives the Dragonslayers have been collecting for experimentation. Carol, now trained in automatic weaponry thanks to Halon, is tasked in rescuing them.

She brings Hakon, Thunderb0lz and elf mage Zue Zue in their stolen ambulance to the secret location and finds a very tough fight awaiting them with mostly heavy weapon Dragonslayers on patrol. Even the new rocket shooting drone of Thunderb0lz has trouble taking them down.

They only manage to rescue one test subject who hadn't yet been turned into a headcase. On the way out the squad runs into infected Dragonslayers who obviously are more hard core than the regular variety. The team almost makes it back to the ambulance when Carol suddenly finds herself mere feet away from a brute wielding a heavy machine gun.

Blinding pain accompanied by the deafening roar of gun fire fills her before everything goes black.

If the main character goes down, a time limit to win appears.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Shadowrun: Ninja Magic

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

During Carol's recovery back at base, Sarah's investigation led to her arrest by the forces of Knight Errant (police) and is now in need of rescue. After getting fake ID's from Jane, Carol assembled her team of Halon, Thunderb0lz and Hangover the dwarf ninja who is really good with her katana.

Using some tunnels to get to the precinct leads into a small skirmish against headcases but nothing the team can't handle. Breaking Sarah out of the prison is even easier, though the Knight Errant forces up their game during the pursuit through the warehouse district.

You can tell they're up to no good.

After a trying combat, the team is able to escape and a battered Sarah is able to give them the current location of Luna the dragonslayer boss. Carol leads her team to the rooftops where they clash against Luna and her gang in earnest. Hangover manages to win her duel against a chainsaw brute only to have the teleporting Luna blast her off to her death.

This puts the fat magician in a bad position though, and the remaining squaddies incapacitate her for questioning.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Shadowrun: Blood Harvest

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

After upgrading her pistol, Carol is tasked next for a major offensive against the Dragonslayers and is teamed up with her old allies Al'sia the elf mage, Thunderb0lz and her new drones, and trusty shotgunner Ratdoktor. Bloodcountess the elf hacker as well as autogunners Maevas Bahome and Halon the orc also go with them.

With the enemy are now sporting heavy machineguns, chainsaws, flamethrowers, grenades and heavy armor the numbers are warranted. The fighting begins at a warehouse district, where Al'sia is caught by surprise and chainsawed in half. Advancing to the docks, Maevas is cut down by flanking machine gun fire.

Cover: It's very important.

They finally reach the morgue where they find the Dragonslayers harvesting organs from slain headcases. Their toughest guys are in there, and everyone left save Thunderb0lz is near death by the time they clean the place out to let Sarah McCarthy investigate.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Shadowrun: Boston Lockdown

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

The interior of the stadium is a wreck, with some parts still aflame from the dragon attack. Worse, there are crazies in there who seem to be zombified into a kind of hive mind. They are initially poorly armed and pose little threat but the ones further in have firearms and one puts a slug right between Anjelica's eyes, killing her instantly.

One member down, the team still manages to steal the items Smedley is after and reach top side - only to find the whole area now swarming with these zombie headcases. Police officer Sarah McCarthy joins the party for their escape, and her stun grenades are pretty handy.

AoE attacks are great!

Carol leads the team back to the ambulance and on the way Thunderb0lz's drone gets smashed and Ahnah is dragged away by a pack of bharghests (wolf like critters) to be eaten. The rest manage to make a quick getaway and return to Smedley's Square, and learn that due to the headcase outbreak all of Boston is now under quarantine lockdown.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Shadowrun: Redirection

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

After learning some hacking skills from Jane, Carol is next sent with the troll shaman Anjelica to plant some evidence at a corporate office. The robot guards prove resilient to Anjelica's magic, but less so to her summoned spirit bears.

The task really goes sideways when a random dragon decides to attack the city, causing the building alarms to go off and forcing the pair into an early escape. Smedley redirects them to a garage where they meet team mates Thunderb0lz, a silver haired drone operator, and Ahnah TwoCrows, an elf with an uzi, to steal an ambulance.

Getting the gang together.

With four people this easy job turns out to be just a warm up for the true heist. Disguised as EMTs , the squad heads through the panicked city to a stadium the dragon had attacked. Casualties and police are abundant, but apart from a cursory "don't go in there, it's still dangerous" no one stops them from entering the taped off building.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Shadowrun: The One that got Away

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

Accepting Carol's request, Smedley teams her up with the hacker, Jane and Al'sia, an elfin mage, to raid Dragonslayer controlled docks to find their leader, Luna. While Al'sia's magic is devastating to the guards, it has little effect on the automated turrets. Fortunately Jane takes care of all of those and hacks a computer that indicates Luna's location nearby.

Carol and Al'sia hoof it to the designated apartment building and after Al'sia bribes the janitor with some beer, the pair gain access to the power system - shutting off the lights and the automated defenses.

Jane is quick to comment.

They find Luna, a fat lady dressed as a clown, in conversation with her mage underling. Luna quickly teleports away while the underling uses mirror images to battle the pair of intruders. His tricks don't fool Carol though, and she carves him up with a machete. A minor victory but the big fish got away.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Shadowrun: Gainful Employment

[Part of the Shadowrun Chronicles.]

After the massacre at Glenchester, Carol Black had enough fuel and supplies from the marauders to leave the wasteland and reach Boston - a still standing hub of civilization and technology. It took some getting used to, especially with all the "new breeds" of people after the fallout.

Eventually requiring currency, she decided to try out for mercenary work for a demon looking fellow named Smedley. The trial of pushing back a rival gang called the "Dragonslayers" was an easy one, especially as she was teamed up with a shotgun wielding chick named Ratdoktor and Smedley's lieutenant, an ugly brute named Payday. He reminded her of all those marauder scum she killed to get here.

He's also the poster boy of the game.

With her performance approved by Payday, Smedley added Carol to his employee roster taking note of her one request to only be teamed up with females from now on.

Shadowrun Chronicles

Shadowrun Chronicles is an upgrade from Shadowrun Online plays much like XCOM, only set in the futuristic fantasy setting of Shadowrun where creatures like elves and dragons exist along side technology such as cars, machine guns and robots. It's also prime ground for story material so without further ado...

Chapter 01 - Gainful Employment
Chapter 02 - The One that got Away 
Chapter 03 - Redirection
Chapter 04 - Boston Lockdown
Chapter 05 - Blood Harvest
Chapter 06 - Ninja Magic
Chapter 07 - No Escape
Chapter 08 - Property Defense
Chapter 09 - No Appointment
Chapter 10 - Special Delivery
Chapter 11 - Carol's Company
Chapter 12 - Weaponized Malware
Chapter 13 - New Age Spam
Chapter 14 - What Doesn't Kill You
Chapter 15 - Left for Dead
Chapter 16 - Whole

This story has concluded for now! Thanks for reading!

Friday, 5 October 2018

Megalo Box

Punching for greatness!

Even when boxing incorporates mechanized exoskeletal arms on its participants, match fixing is still rife and protagonist Junk Dog finds himself stuck in a loop of taking dives to live from paycheck to paycheck.

Every episode title has something to do with death.

This changes when he happens to run into the Megalo Boxing champion, igniting not just a rivalry but a burning desire in Junk Dog to defeat this opponent on the championship stage.

It's a good underdog series with decent characters, character growth (except for the main guy ironically), story line and boxing action with high quality art in a style reminiscent of Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop. I quite enjoyed this one, but somehow feel "more" could have been done. If you are looking for an action anime with less sword and sorcery put this one on your list.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Split (2016)

People with problems are better than those without.

In this M. Night Shyamalan thriller, a group of girls are abducted by a kidnapper with a multiple personality disorder. This serves as a fantastic vehicle for James McAvoy to show off his range of acting talent. Everyone else was good too, it's just he literally had ... 9(?) roles to fill.

It also helps that the script and cinematography are spot on, though I did find it funny how there always seemed to be an excuse to keep making the girls slowly undress as the film went along (but hey, it turned out to be important)!

Many personalities, many faces.

Not something I thought I'd enjoy, but it's now something I'd probably watch again and can recommend it to people who like thrillers, or movies like Unbreakable. I give it 3 windows out of 5.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Sniper Elite 4

Italy is a beautiful place... to kill Nazis.

I haven't played much of the Sniper Elite series, but this one is definitely the best that I have. The graphics and locales are fantastic, and making each mission a huge open map where you can go do your objectives in any order you want and get by (or annihilate) all the soldiers and vehicles is inspired.

Of course, if you play on the easiest mode and only go for the main tasks you'll probably breeze through this in an afternoon. Play how I did on "Authentic" where you need to take into account wind and bullet drop and you'll probably take a (slightly) more stealthy approach.

There are many places that deserve sight seeing.

While predictable, the enemy AI is decent and good at flanking, and almost all locales have more than one flanking position. This is where all those wonderful traps come in. Rig it just right so that people sneaking up on you take themselves out. Explosive kill cams are just as good as the bullet variety.

That's the main meat of the game, and it is delicious. The sides are less so however with some average voice acting and an almost ridiculous plot. Still a very fun experience and one I recommend for stealth shooter fans. I give it 4 testicle shots out of 5.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

October 2018 Status

I was strangely productive last month. Hopefully that's continues through October! Started my daily walking again, with the vague intention of piling on more exercise at some point. Yeah, "some point". Outside of that I'm trying not to add anything else to these at least until the end of the year. Hopefully that gives me a fighting chance of clearing the lot!

    End the year with less weight (-2 kg from last month, running total: -3.9 kg)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (8/12)
    Make board game prototype (G19 planning - back to Fantasy)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (storyboarding)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Sims 3
Hand of Fate 2 (done)
Sniper Elite 4 (done)
Battletech (done)

Board games:
Witcher board game redemption trial
Finish Tomb of Annihilation (done)
Finish Mice and Mystics
Play more Pandemic Iberia (done)
Play more Zombicide: Black Plague
+Play Zombie in my Pocket
+Play London Dread
+Play Adamastor

Monday, 1 October 2018

Hand of Fate 2

It differentiates between completion and mastery.

The Dealer is back in this amazingly crafted sequel from the first game. While most of the mechanics regarding the cards remain the same, there are more variations of mini games this time around - all of which are both fun and frustrating.

You also get more hero customization options and companions now among a whole slew of new cards to unlock and discover. The strongest point for me is still the Dealer and his amazing lines. A close second is the story and the way it unfolds, though you might not get to appreciate that if you don't finish it.

Repetitiveness and the feeling that you aren't progressing is a major one in the mid-late game, especially with challenges that seem insurmountable. A curse filled quest and one where you must outwit a devil come to mind. At that stage you cannot rely on the auto-fill deck, and must be willing to go and select the cards that will best aid you in that challenge.

Companion allies add extra fun!

I also note that there is a difference between completion and mastery. I "completed" the game, but not "mastered" all the challenges. An early example is a quest to visit a high priestess. Reaching her and surviving completes the quest. Reaching her with 12 blessing and surviving earns you mastery, which unlocks even more cards.

Apart from that valley of depression before I realized I had to build my own decks to progress, I found this game very entertaining! Definitely a step up from the original, but also a step up in difficulty. Highly recommended, I give it 4.8 thieving goblins out of 5.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Versailles

Magnificent debauchery.

Centered on the rise of King Louis XIV (played by George Bladgen) this series had some spectacular settings and production values, provided you make it through the very strange opening episode. The locations, outfits, and props are all fantastic. The acting is good, and the plot is decent though occasionally contrived.

Intrigue, opulence and a lot of nudity and sex are the main stay of the show - though there are a fair number of short action bits throughout. There are characters to cheer for, to hate, and in Louis' case both.

Nice hair, fantastic costumes and settings.

The show made me laugh and it made me cry, and while it is definitely not for everyone it was pretty good for me. That ending though, blargh! Give it a try if you want something a little different.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Unbreakable (2000)

One heck of a low key superhero movie.

After miraculously surviving a terrible accident, David (Bruce Willis) is contacted art gallery owner and comic book enthusiast Price (Samuel Jackson) who believes that David might actually have super human qualities.

Doesn't actually qualify as an action movie!

The entire movie is just character building for these two. There's very little action, very little in terms of special effects, but very good cinematography, acting and script. Definitely one of M. Night Shyamalan's better works and one I would watch again.

I give it 3 glass canes out of 5, and recommend it to everyone who doesn't mind very little action. It's a different genre but if you liked the Sixth Sense, you'll probably like this. If not, stay away.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Kindness Matters

Never throw away a dog.

This low budget movie is about a dog and two homes. In the first, a single father struggling to take care of his semi-special needs kid, and in the second a middle aged loner (Bill Wetheril) with no friends. All this changes when the loner takes in and looks after a discarded puppy.

Hmm that's not entirely true, the single father does solve his own situation separately but hey - why not put them in the same movie and plot device them together? Also, the audience gets to hear what the dog is thinking. Yep, it's that kind of movie.

It would help if the dog was smarter than the average dog.
But nope, it's just a dog.

While the plot and acting could be better (that's an understatement), I do have to note how nice the people are in this movie. Except one person who wins the "worst person" award, and that's amazing to achieve in a non violent drama. Still, not really worth going out of your way to see and one I'm not going to watch again - I rate it 1.5 cacti out of 5.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Now You See Me 2

Even more unbelievable than last time.

The dormant group of magician vigilantes from the last movie re-emerge with seemingly infinite resources, even more bogus magic powers, and have somehow retained their world wide fan base. The tables are turned when the bad guys have tricks of their own.

While it has decent acting, effects and comedy the plot feels quite lacking and required "filler"? One particular example is a complicated card passing sequence that could have been 90% shorter.

Cool, but not necessary.

Entertaining: yes. Better than original: no. I'm not sure who to recommend this to other than magic fans (I guess?) and it's not one I'd watch again. 2 throwing cards out of 5.