Tuesday 31 October 2017

Battle Brothers: Matters of Morale

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

With the company finding their footing once more, refilling the ranks became the first ambition the companions agreed on. To this end they sailed to the busy port of Holnisland to recruit: S***A, DogHow and Lapp the rat catchers, Paleshade of Londor and Arpalan the student and "Sid" Sidorivich the manic peddler - who quickly attempts to sell Lapp a rat!

Big Mike is careful to choose the easy pay contracts of courier work and on the one occasion they run into bandits, he times it that another merc group called the Cold Hands are there to assist.

He knew they couldn't evade the danger for too long though, and sure enough the next contract - to retrieve the Elderstone from a burial site in the mountains leads to problems when the skeletons there awake and chant "the false king must die".

Followed by "Trick or Treat"?

It is a scary battle, and Arpalan not yet finding his feet in combat is stabbed fatally by a spear wielding skellie. The rest of the company is injured but victorious. Big Mike decides to get their mind off their fallen comrade by immediately attacking a small bandit hideout and decimating it easily.

This trick works, which results in the original three Spears having a greater respect for the man.

Monday 30 October 2017

Battle Brothers: Hunting Hoggart

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

There aren't many promising recruits at Kielseng but nevertheless Big Mike recruits Donk79 the beggar, Gander the grave digger and Kamots the fisherman, outfitting them with some basic shields and spears to fit in with the Spears of the Church motif.

The original trio weren't particularly impressed, until they see Big Mike's tactics in action. It turns out Hoggart hadn't gone far, having returned with reinforcements at a local graveyard in preparation to raid Kielseng. The Spears raided them first, not losing a man this time. Kamots net throwing was of particular value as he disabled Hoggart for most of the combat.

Kamots doing his best Spiderman impression!

As dusk fell, four geists also manifested - screaming terrible wails that rattled the Spears morale. Fortunately they were rather weak, dissipating with one hit each for an easy victory.

Upon returning Hoggart's head to the town hall at Kielseng, the money earned lit a bright smile among the company, and a burning desire to do more. From there, it didn't take much more to convince Big Mike to hang around as the resident strategist.

Saturday 28 October 2017

Battle Brothers: Broken Spear

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Big Mike had long lost track of the number of days he had been held captive, suffering untold tortures to the hands of the pirates that had kidnapped him. Their leader, Hoggart the Weasel, had sold off his companions one by one on the long sail away from the radiated lands and now only he was left.

He was sure that death would find him soon. Indeed, it would be a mercy - but it would not be this day, for suddenly battle erupted at the pirates beach camp as a mercenary band came hunting for his head. Unfortunately they attacked with no strategy, and were cut down at the same measure as they did the pirates.

It's like they were just running into those arrows.

While Hoggart managed to escape to his vessel and flee, the three remaining mercenaries freed Big Mike, and returned to the nearby fishing village of Kielseng with an air of failure as their target had escaped, meaning they were not going to get paid for their losses.

"That's it then - we're the last of the Spears of the Church," moaned the Moaning Knight. "I say we call it quits." His companions Faltran and Bloodfire nodded in agreement. 

Big Mike, hobbling behind shook his head as ideas of revenge crept into his head. "No, not yet. You saved me from that bastard. Let me help you take him down."

Bloodfire laughed at him. "You? Just look at you - you can barely walk, and the three of us will be hard pressed to get anywhere against the rest of Hoggart's gang."

"I've commanded armies before," Big Mike said with a commanding tone. "I might not be able to join you on the field, but with my battlefield experience I can guide you to victory. As for our lack of numbers..."

Big Mike tossed a heavy purse at their feet. "I managed to swipe some of their cache during their battle. We can recruit more men with that. What say you? Will we help each other get revenge on that weasel?"

After a brief discussion, Faltran shook Big Mike's hand. "You have a deal."

Friday 27 October 2017

Doctor Strange

Magicians sure are weird, but that doesn't necessarily make them interesting.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an arrogant surgeon who gets his craft taken away from him due to an accident. Intent on regaining his lost skill he goes looking for a cure which leads him to a place of martial art magicians who, predictably, are suffering a crisis of their own.

This movie has crazy fantastic visuals, almost to the point of "whoa that's too much" since the mirror realms are a bit like Inception x 10 (careful all of you that suffer from motion sickness). That's perhaps the biggest strength this film has going for it, as all other areas for me seem weaker than the usual Marvel fare. The main actors are ok but some supporting roles are a bit off, with comedy bits seeming more forced.

Unintentionally using movie magic to create vertigo.

The plot suffers from some pacing issues as well with some slow bits that could have been removed, and some holes that are just not explained or simply ignored. Suspension of disbelief is quite challenging in more than a few segments (common when trying to explain mass oddities in the real world) and even the music seems weaker than the other superhero stuff I've seen... cartoon stuff included.

Still, I do quite like how he deals with the big bad - so bonus points for that. All up, I found Doctor Strange to be an entertaining action flick, but not one I'd want to watch again. I give it three library books out of five.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Thought of the Day: All things are Poison

"All things are poison, and nothing is without poison, the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison."  -Paracelsus 

I know that's a quote on toxicology, but I wonder if it is true for all consumable vices, video games included. My addiction is in full swing at the moment, evidenced by 7 days of no blog posts. Gotta get my schedule back on. Blergh!

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Wonder Woman

Finally, DC puts out another good superhero movie!

Growing up on the isle of Themyscira, home of warrior women Amazons, Dianna (Gal Gadot) had always wanted to join their ranks - eventually undergoing training despite her mother, the Queen's, protests.

Out of love, vital information is with held from her and when an opportunity to leave the sheltered isle comes calling, in the form of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), she goes to fulfill her mission of protecting the world from the God of War, in the middle of World War I. Those poor, poor Nazis.

I have to admit, this movie does have all the things I'm looking for in a superhero flick with good effects, nice camera work, explosions, nice eye candy (so much eye candy lol), a body count, good acting all around, a decent bad guy and most importantly a decent story!

There are nice funny bits, "war is hell" bits, and a good dose of "girl (em)power(ment)" all done without any viscera. I particularly like the artsy part near the beginning of the film. I can't really flaw this movie and while it doesn't beat my favorite (The Dark Knight, I'm a Batman fan), I also have no reason to not give it five god killers out of five. Highly recommend it and yes, I would definitely watch it again. :)

Saturday 14 October 2017

Boyka: Undisputed

Boyka's "gift" from God is beating the hell out of other people!

The Undisputed series is an interesting one as it gets better with each subsequent movie. While the first one is very ho hum, it picks up quickly in the 2nd which introduces Scott Adkins character of Yuri Boyka as an antagonist.

He's clearly the favored character since in movies 3 and 4 (this one), he has advanced to protagonist stature, and given his fighting ability it's easy to see why. As a fighting movie, a shallow plot is to be expected, but the fight scenes and tight camera work make everything a joy to watch.

It helps that all the fighters have great athleticism too!

I'm surprised I haven't done reviews for any of this series yet, but for fans of martial arts you will definitely enjoy this. If you haven't seen any of the Undisputed series, I'll score them below:

Undisputed I - Two fists out of five. (Note: No Boyka in this movie)
Undisputed II: Last Man Standing - Three knees out of five.
Undisputed III: Redemption - Four shins our of five.
Boyka: Undisputed (IV) - Four spines out of five.

The first movie can be skipped and the second is not bad, but the last two I highly recommend and would definitely watch again in a heart beat as they are among my favorite martial arts movies. :)

Monday 9 October 2017

Today I Sighed: Where to Find Time?

Seems that I'm back in a "so much to do and not enough time too lazy to do it" phase at the moment, with my gaming addiction strangling out most other things once more. Thanks Neverwinter Online. Lol. At least I've got Chult done now, along with the long outstanding Tyranny of Dragons (thanks to the Linu improvement).

This leaves the Storm King's Thunder, the Day of the Dungeon Master event (too many dice required), and the PvP campaigns (no interest in that, so no biggie) unfinished. All that is also eating into my blogging time, which is annoying since I want to continue the Fate of Heroes story at some point.

I did do something different last weekend by attending Comic Con where I was surprised at how many people purchase boxes of random gear. That is, you get a box but don't know what's inside it. Haven't these guys played MMOs? Lol.

I also learned that the world of war gaming is very varied if this list is anything to go by, and that for each kick ass "good guy", there are psychos to balance it out.

In honor of one of our guild mates who has left I'm putting her favorite bands up here as my closing musical numbers: If these Trees could Talk and Explosions in the Sky. If that's too heavy for you, perhaps you'd enjoy this piece from the Eurovision Choir contest instead.

And as a bonus for bird lovers: here's a live feed for some roosting Peregrine Falcons.

Friday 6 October 2017

Neverwinter Online: Tomb of Annihilation

Where dinosaurs are worse than dragons!

Now that I've finished the campaign, apart from the titular dungeon itself, I am fairly confident when saying that this is one of the better campaigns to date. Cryptic expanded on the good idea of letting people do "what" they want from the River District and included a "when" they want too. That is, players can pick a (small) variety of things to do during the span of a week to advance the campaign, instead of the stressful and rigid dailies from campaigns before.

That's perhaps the best feature for me, as it makes it easy to alt through it - and still have time to catch up on other campaigns! The new zones are also quite pretty and the monsters suitably dangerous. Though the dinosaurs do have a large detection range I've worked out paths that can get you into almost all the areas without drawing any aggro. It does involve jumping off cliffs and almost never following the road but it works.

It's a pretty place.

The new hunt mechanic is pretty fun too, especially when accompanied by some guildies. The only downside is the limitation of only being able to carry one lure type at a time, which makes "grinding" hunts a bit of a chore though I suppose that may have been intentional. Definitely a good module, and while not one new players can access right away due to a high iLevel suggestion (for good reason), it's certainly one worth working towards and looking forward to. :)

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Shadows Over Camelot

Join the Knights of the Round Table and save Camelot from doom!

With invaders all around and magic items slowly slipping from reach, Camelot is in need of 3 to 7 (8 with the Merlin's Company Expansion) brave knights of the round table to save it. The mechanics of this coop/semi-coop game are simple. On your turn you do something bad, then do something good - and complete quests by playing poker. Sounds odd but it's a pretty decent system.

The other fun thing is that the game encourages the lack of sharing information by hiding cards from your allies and speaking in character. So no "I am running out of cards to help here", instead its "My friends, I will soon need to travel elsewhere" or some other nonsense. It's silly, but one of the best things of the game is this silliness. The very first win my group had happened when on the brink of winning (or losing) a war, Guinevere tried to call all of us off the field so my brother controlling King Arthur killed her with Excalibur. "Silence thou unfaithful strumpet!"

Other than everything trying to kill us, it's a pretty place!

The artwork is pretty cool and the game can feel oppressive at times but it seems to me that if the knights are really working as a team, the game is comparatively easy when compared to Arkham/Eldrich Horror or Xenoshyft. I guess that's why it has the traitor "feature" where one knight actually works for the bad guys (in secret) which I've not yet tried since my regular players prefer full co-op.

Currently I give this game three siege engines out of five (full co-op only). It's a fun two hour(ish) romp once people know how to play with quick setup and quick cleanup after. However if you are really looking for a full cooperative game, I'd recommend going for any of the D&D board games instead.

Score after re-review: Two siege engines out of five (full co-op only).