Thursday 30 November 2023

Pathfinder: Thistlebottom

[Part of the Party Time journal

Close to where the pantsless bugbear was slain we find the mercenary Orik barricaded in his room who convinces us he wants out of the bad guy's team. Kyra (Rose) convinces him to work for us instead and he takes point while slaying a giant octopus and on the next level down is the one who kicks in the door to his ex-boss' room after Merisiel (mom) disarms a hallway trap in the way.

His ex-boss is super angry at this and nearly kills him and King Fat Mouth while her pet dog, which flies and is as terrifying as the ones in the chapel, hops over the defensive line and mauls Ezren (Juris) almost to death! Lucky the mage can land some tazer prods (wand of shocking grasp) to weaken the creature before Valeros (me) slays it. A ridiculous critical from Shay (GM DL) unexpectedly slays the boss lady and the party rests before delving deeper to the section not even she and her minions reached.

Opening a massive evil door the party is greeted by... empty space? Merisiel precieves something huge cloaked in the air so Ezren sends a flaming sphere up there to explode it, and it hits - revealing a barghest that these Lamashtu cultists were trying to free! It mauls Shay and Orik severely but in turn gets caned by magics from Fat Mouth,  Kyra and Ezren (who blinds it), while Valeros, Shay and Merisiel (flanking back stab bonus) hack away at it (Orik's non-magic sword can only nick it).  Ultimately it is Kyra's summoned celestial eagle that slays the fiend with its beak and talons that can smite evil!

After defeating such a horrendous foe, clearing out the remaining rooms of a trio of shadows and a gigantic crab is something of an after thought with the party's soaring morale. With that, the dungeon is clear and the quest is complete! King Fat Mouth is allowed to take whatever he can carry and get out of there (no doubt to Shay's protests) while the rest of the party returns to Sandpoint victorious!

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Gloomhaven: Treasure and the Trials of the Terrible Turd Tunnels

[Part of the Party Time journal

With the path now clear to find the poison in the lower levels Juris makes the call to... sail away from Gloomhaven and search for treasure! Haha, well adventuring needs funds you know? As a bonus there are also no "road encounters" for ocean centered missions! Thus we take a ship to some nearby islands to the East, first landing on a small vermling infested one which immediately proves too scary as they have pet bears so we run and sail a little further south where a treasure map DL purchased leads us to a reefed vessel which is now home to ugly crab things and lumbering frost demons.

Said crabs and demons are actually easy foes to handle, to the point where I'm almost a room ahead of the others and opening doors to let more monsters get involved with the fray. Of course, I almost overextend TOO much and finish the adventure exactly just before I exhaust out but not before we enact Jim's plan of leaving the last enemy alive to loot as much as we could which lets us leave with a fair bit of coin. Yep, any gold or treasure you don't pick up mid-combat / before the mission is over is just abandoned! It's one of the odd systems in Gloomhaven I'm not too happy with since obviously you should be able to loot after clearing out a spot but whatever. We return to the city richer and wonder why everyone is getting even more sick. Oh right! The poison...

We paddle through the muck into the ancient cistern and find while Juris slays many night demons in the depths, DL has terrible luck with his attacks. The source of the poison, four contaminated water pipes, each spawn an extra imp per round and DL is the first to fall while I scurry and shut off the rear two valves before following suit. Juris shuts another down before he too drops leaving Jim to cleanse the final one - which he does! But then... all the imps get their turn and knock him back forcing us to retreat. Despite completing the objective, I guess the win condition is only checked at the end of a round. Mission fail!

Tuesday 28 November 2023

The Killer Security

Two movies with killing.

The Killer

Michael Fassbender stars as the titular character, a killer whose outward silence is compensated by almost continuous monologing to himself and/or the audience. You know how I like making fun of movies that waste lots of time showing people going from one place to another with Attack Force taking the cake? This movie does that in spades and is so freaking slow that I almost wish I was watching Attack Force instead! Whoever edited this is the real killer, as they kill the audience with boredom. Had they cut out most of the inane traveling scenes and skipped "chapter 1" altogether then they might have had an ok movie. As it is, this is garbage. Not recommended.


A down on his luck veteran (played by Antonio Banderas) manages to finally get a job as a shopping mall security guard and on his first night must defend the place against a siege from heavily armed gangsters. Does that sound implausible? It only gets wilder from here, and the plot really has this tonal clashing going on between being kid friendly and Die Hard violent. Lucky for me it scales more towards the later and violent deaths abound which is GREAT. While the story is only ankle deep the action certainly makes this one interesting for almost all of its running time. Does that make this a good movie? Nope - its just ok especially due to the shenanigans towards the end but it certainly is miles better than The Killer!

Monday 27 November 2023

Doom Patrol

Characters destined to lose?

Focusing on a DC superhero group that is anything but, this four season show starts of insanely strong with characters so deeply flawed its almost like everything they do is growth. Unfortunately everything goes wrong at season three mark where, despite still having a few moments of awesomeness, the  script really just circles that shitter with characters stringing out expletives just to be edgy, fill time, and/or try "cover" poor writing every few sentences to the point that my wife gave up on it. It also seems to suffer a similar problem which Titans did in that characters reverse their growth/progress each season which is annoying. Usually I'd say check out the first few seasons then drop out when it gets bad but in this case, maybe just avoid it altogether.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Golden Light and Turnip Boy commits Tax Evasion

Two crazy games.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

The title turns out to be the quest hook for Turnip Boy to go on a quest around Veggieville while dodging horrible vegetarians (horribly cute) snails, rabbits and the like. I ended up liking this one way more than I thought I would as the tone is so light and the required skill level is absolutely minimal while still having a pretty decent story. I only had to learn how to dodge towards the end! Anyway, there's also "after game" content in the form of a train "arena" if you really liked the combat offered here. I'm pleasantly surprised that I'm recommending this, as it is a fun and super light game.

Golden Light

The total opposite of the above, this first person game features possibly intentional bad graphics and the most mental setup I've played for awhile. I mean, its the only game I've played where there's a key bind to HIT YOURSELF, as well as one where you can eat your own weapons. Mmmm, that was a tasty axe!?! It feels like the objective is to SUFFER collect keys to get the elevators down down down and down while avoiding the monsters lurking around who have so far all been of the mimic variety. Levels are cluttered with garbage and some of that garbage will move around on its own - possibly transforming into something more hideous to try eat you. Definitely an unsettling game, and not one for me.

Friday 24 November 2023

ZOM 100: Bucket List of the Dead (Season 1 and Movie)

Somehow both got released close to each other!

Anime (Season 1)

A zombie apocalypse is exactly what Akira needs to break free from his exploitative corporate job and is inspired to list and do "100 Things before I become a zombie" which range from the mundane to the absurd, which fits perfectly into this comedy. Any horror here is dialed right down with the zombies being covered not in red blood but a rainbow array of yet unexplained goo. It's a funny and uplifting nine episode series with pretty good animation and voice acting (note: I listened to the English VA for both). Nine episodes as of now that is. If it was popular enough to get a live action movie straight away I'm certain there will be at least a season two as well. Recommended if you want something silly.

Live-Action Movie

While the setup is almost identical the movie condenses themes and beats from the nine anime episodes into a two hour flick, with more horror than the anime as they got some decent makeup (no longer in rainbow colors) and flexible actors to be the zombies who now have a slightly different trait. For the most part the story condensing is quite well done actually, though it does get a bit rough in the last section timing wise. Despite that I think it actually could have been condensed a bit more with some unnecessary long sequences and speeches. Worth noting the English VAs in the anime did a better job and the acting here is subpar at times. That said, if you haven't seen the anime then this will probably be fine so long as you're expecting a silly and just occasionally funny movie.

Thursday 23 November 2023

The Ice Road and All the Light We Cannot See

Two conditions you probably shouldn't be driving in? :P

The Ice Road

When an accident gets some people trapped in a mine, it is up to down to a few truckies including one played by Liam Neeson to sign up for a dangerous drive against time across a frozen lake while hauling a heavy load of equipment to save the trapped men before their air runs out. Since the writers figured that was too boring, they also decided to make it an action movie which results in some very poor brawling sequences, poor effects, and a questionable plot that is teeming with inconsistencies. It's not very good but it might still appeal for people that like watching big rigs doing things they shouldn't normally be doing.

All the Light We Cannot See

This four episode mini-series follows a blind French girl and a German soldier who have a shared passion for radios during World War II. While there are good sets, acting, effects and an interesting enough story, there's a heavy use of flashbacks (*bum-bummmm noise*) and in some parts you can actually feel the plot armor on some characters. Had this been told chronologically I think I would have liked it better. I mean, all the bits are filmed anyway for the audience but how they are revealed is mostly when someone asks a character about their past. Instead of having a plot that spans however many years, the entire story (the part that matters where all the "stakes" are) just takes place in a few days.

Only in occasions where someone is discovering the past through unrelated characters should flashbacks be considered, like in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Anyway, that's just my little nitpick. It's still enjoyable as it is.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Fox in the Forest Duet

Designed for klepto couples? :P

In this two person, cooperative trick taking game the goal is to collect all the gems in the forest in time. Both players lose if you run out of forest tokens and need to put one or end the last round with any gems still on the board. How does that actually work? Well, the trick taking part is exactly the same like in Hearts or the Crew. In this game there are three suites and when one player puts down a card (usually the one that "won" the previous trick) the second player must put down a card of the same suite if they have it, or any other card if not.

If it is the same suite then the player with the higher number "wins", and it its not then one of the two happen: the trump suite card wins (randomly chosen at the start of each of the three rounds) and if its not a trump suite then the original suite wins. The cards also have footprint movement values and you use these to determine your movement on the map which consists soley of a single path. If you win the tracker moves that many steps towards you, if you lose it moves that many steps away.

If at any point it falls "off" the map then add a forest token to one end of the path, making it shorter and continue (if you can't its game over). If it doesn't fall off then you can collect any gems attached to that space, then play the next round. The odd number cards also have special powers in addition to nice art which let you do something special like move less, trade a card, switch direction regardless of winner etc. Despite all of those it's still a pretty tough game and one we're still trying to get the hang of. :)

Tuesday 21 November 2023

The Days and Sly Dynasty Warriors

Disaster in Japan, Romance in China, and Rocky in the USA

The Days

This one season series is a dramatization of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident which could have laid waste to a third of Japan's land mass. When compared to the Chernobyl series this certainly feels like it had less budget and isn't as tight - especially with a few too many slow motion shots and an opening twenty(?) minutes that everyone can safely skip through (just watch the Earthquake then speed up till you get to the Tsunami). Outside of those two issues, this is actually quite decent and you really get a sense of dread with the hardships these people faced or are still facing.

The plot includes politicians and inept big wigs trying to save face while the poor workers at the site keep trying so hard to win each step forward only to get pushed down a flight of stairs as a reward. Only recommended if that is your sort of thing, want to know more about the Fukushima incident, or enjoyed the Chernobyl series (just lower expectations a bit).

Dynasty Warriors (2021)

Right in the opening text it says this movie is based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story AND video games which gives you fair warning about how its going to go - and the opening army battle scene sets the tone with "the three heroes" Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu saving the incredibly fat womanizer Dong Zhuo from the Yellow Turban rebellion and their Yellow Turban sorcerer / necromancer leader via wire-fu and ridiculous effects to Chinese Synth metal which are right at home in the Dynasty Warriors game series. This happens for every and any fight scene.

While that's enough for an interactive game a movie needs more plot and isn't it lucky the Romance of the Three Kingdoms is pretty popular? To that end, it is kinda confusing why they decided to go off and butcher it a bit by introducing the god-forged weapons which was either a way to excuse their insane powers (which they had prior to receiving the weapons) or to switch POV to Cao Cao who is equally important to the over all story. The biggest problem though? This whole movie only covers the setup for the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. All the interesting stuff is forming and starting to get interesting and then they end (at the battle of Hulao Pass for those wondering) which feels like this needs a sequel or a remake. Probably both.


There are a growing number documentaries on celebrities it seems and this is Sylvester Stallone's one. Unlike Beckham's series, this is a movie which primarily focuses on Stallone's script writing, acting, and clashes with his dad who really sounds like a piece of work. It's interesting to hear how he injected parts of his own life throughout the Rocky series and his rise to fame but ultimately its just ok. Not saying Beckham's a more interesting guy, but his media certainly makes for better viewing. Recommended only for Sylvester Stallone fans.

Monday 20 November 2023

Andor and The Foundation

More stories set in space!


This currently one season prequel Star Wars series decided to break the trend and totally ignore the whole Jedi vs Sith space wizard thing and instead focuses on the regular non-powered folk like the titular Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) and the events leading up to the formation of the rebellion in the first place (a second and final season is on its way). Like the Mandalorian there are fantastic visuals here and good costumes but unlike the Mandalorian it is almost devoid of action and instead is all talking in a plot that moves glacially. That will definitely turn some viewers away but I still like it, as the writing is better - which it has to be if that's the main draw. Definitely worth a try - but if you don't like the first episode then you can just tune out for the rest. :P

The Foundation

Humanity is doomed and the only thing they can do is prepare a repository of tools and knowledge to help the future generations rebuild. A sort of "Foundation". Such is the prediction of Hari Seldon (played by Jared Harris) formulated from his expertise in psycho history which is a mathematical way of predicting the future. Of course the ever-ruling and usually evil Emperor Day (Lee Pace is excellent) doesn't like the sound of this and moves to squash this heresy. Does that plot sound crazy to you? It is! And it is also absolutely fantastic!

Amazing visuals help the fantastic writing of this so far two season sci-fi series. While it is actually low on action for the most part, the script and acting are just mesmerizing. My only problem with it is that is spans SOOOO many centuries, so it takes a little while to get your head around who is who one episode to the next especially in season one. If you can survive that brain bending then I can highly recommend this awesome series and I can't wait for the next season. Five out of five!

Sunday 19 November 2023

The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett

Guys that wear light saber resistant armor!

The Mandalorian

This currently three season show is a space western in the universe of Star Wars, focusing on "Mando", a Mandalorian bounty hunter played by Pedro Pascal - though its hard to tell sometimes as part of their creed is to always keep their helmets on! It starts off a bit bumpy, with our hero almost getting killed by low level wild animals but it certainly picks up at the end of episode one when he finds the incredibly popular "baby Yoda". Even someone who has never seen any other Star Wars media can get into this as Mando either needs as much explaining to as the audience on what is going on / how things work or is explaining it to someone else (often baby yoda).

While there's good humor to be found here and the script is ok with moments of greatness, its the visuals that really win it with excellent CGI and really good costumes. It also helps that there's often a decent action beat per episode too and as the seasons go on it's actually been getting even better (Katee Sackhoff has an excellent character) even though Mando is constantly losing his spotlight as the primary protagonist. Not sure if they're doing a season four or where that will go but this is definitely recommended, and was good enough to spawn a few other Star Wars series like Ahsoka and the Book of Boba Fett.

The Book of Boba Fett

With its tie in to the Mandalorian and Temura Morrison playing the titular Boba Fett you'd think this had all the makings to be pretty good! Alas, the lack of baby yoda and a one season plot that mostly stayed on one planet with what basically was minor squabbles over territory didn't do it any favors. It even feels the creators had to pivot towards the end to re-inject the Mandalorian and his ward to make it an unofficial Mandalorian Season 2.5. Not really recommended, even though I like it's title song, but if you are watching the Mandalorian you should probably watch episodes 5, 6 and 7 of this one after Mandalorian season two anyway.

Decluttering Day 28: Obsolete Blizzard cards with codes to try World of Warcraft for free, up to level 20 only.

Saturday 18 November 2023

Pathfinder: Thistlemiddle

[Part of the Party Time journal]

Somehow the first thing Ezren (Juris) does after his rest is to find some treasure in the goblin shitter, before Valeros (me) once again bumbles into some sort of research room with a female mage and her cat. Initiative favors the heroes so said mage gets boxed in quickly and despite using mirror images, invisibility and enfeeblement on Valeros she still gets wrestled by the strong warrior (I wrestled the air with a natural 20) and then eliminated by (mom) Merisiel's rapier. We let the cat scoot off as more stairs down are discovered, but we opt to clear this floor first - quickly finding a chapel to Lamashtu guarded by two flying dogs?

Said dogs unleash unnerving howls which terrify everyone but Shay (NPC GM DL) who stays to fight while everyone else bolts back upstairs to the warhorse. The elf ranger almost dies to the beasts before Kyra (Rose) can get back to provide much needed healing which saves her as the others eventually make it back to help put down these horrible creatures that somehow also have damage reduction (all DMG done to them is at -5! Lucky we only ran for 2 rounds, that could have easily been 8). It's a bit unnerving that everything probably heard that fight but the party presses on into a nearby jail cell where they find a dying King Fat Mouth, their goblin buddy back from Black Fang's Lair!

Apparently when the goblin tribes were called together his was one that refused to attack Sandpoint and were instead offered in flames to Lamashtu at the adjacent chapel. Shay recommends putting him out of his misery but Valeros puts a stop to that quick, instead healing Fat Mouth with potions and gearing him up with the local goblin leaders gear as he is looking for some payback. They then move on and for a change it is Merisiel (mom) who blunders into the next room (rolled 1 on stealth check) where they catch the bugbear Bruthazmus (Shay's nemesis) with his pants down in a goblin harem. A couple of flaming hands and good strikes (we charged into the tiny space) ended this fight quick.

While we aren't done with this floor it was getting late so we ended the session there.

Decluttering Day 27: A Hershey's chocolate shoulder bag.

Friday 17 November 2023

Pathfinder: Thistletop

[Part of the Party Time journal

Having successfully snuck into the goblin's fortress Merisiel (mom) stealthily takes out the sleeping tower guards, who for some reason had a large bag of pickles, and the other pair of tower guards in a less stealthy fashion (we all help). Then, stealth really goes out the window when Valeros (me) blunders into the room of the goblin leader who quickly mounts his giant lizard and almost kills Ezren (Juris) in his first charge! Despite having four goblin allies in the room with him and six more that join from flanking positions they are absolutely smashed by Valeros' new cleave attack (if you hit first target, you can try hit second target) and Kyra's (Rose) flaming hands fire domain spell, as well as her summoned celestial eagle.

Ezren even manages to use his shock-prod (wand of shocking grasp) to wreck the goblin boss who flees out of the room once his allies are dead, but Stolas hoots a warning that he's just assembling more forces outside. The team rush to the door where four more goblins and their dogs/big rats are rallying and this hit them with another flaming hands plus an illusion (wand) from Ezren of a big dragon breathing said flame that sends only one of the goblins fleeing. In the melee that follows the goblin boss keeps trying to "drive by" slice at Valeros but keeps missing as his remaining allies quickly fall. He then decides to flee across the bridge but instead meets an arrow to his face which kills him (the big lizard mount escapes - hurray! The standee DL used for said lizard was too cute).

The kill-stealer is Sandpoint's scout and goblin hating ranger Shay (played by GM DL) who apparently also killed not only the fleeing goblin, but the tied up Yoda and a few others she found while tracking us here - offering her skills which we accept. After a quick room to room sweep we only find an angry warhorse "Shadowmist" who we calm down with the pickle bag and decide to rest up before taking stairs below. Good thing Valeros opted to keep watch as four more goblin dogs came during the nap but they weren't able to disturb Ezren's or Kyra's spell recovery. As we figure the poor horse has been through enough, we tell it to stay up in the yard while the party begins the descent.

Decluttering Day 26: A hideous mug.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Xenonauts: Dreadnought

[Part of the Xenonauts story]

The time has come to use the plan to end the aliens for good and the old Commander leads Parker Sanctuary, Stray Cat Brandon, Dr. Tygan, Captain Logan, Straggler Rachel, Straggler Rashida, Carol Hattier, Timeflies Stomachio and Billy Bob O'Reagan with hover tank support onto the alien dreadnought to immediately waste the initial lizardmen guards and charge forward to the upper temple.

En route, Billy Bob is flanked and killed by terminators while martian men with big guns and good aim destroy the hovertank from far away - the explosion catching and killing the commander, painting his pieces along the metal walls. Dr. Tygan is sniped by a jetpack guy as he locates the High Praetor whom Rashida snipes. Brandon also falls to plasma fire while the team uploads the virus and clear out the remaining enemy shooters.

Alas, the escape pods aren't working - they have to back track to activate them but to their horror discover a swarm of (never ending) reapers pouring in after them. Establishing a firing line they put down dozens of the reapers before finally a round of bad shooting and reloading lets one get the drop on Logan. They are overrun, impregnated into zombie bitches and then are autowarped by the virus to who knows where. The entire squad is lost but no one cares because it is VICTORY FOR THE PLANET! YEAAHHHHHHH! Once again the Earth is saved.

The Xenonauts last stand.

Decluttering Day 25: Xenonaut rough journal, since this story is done! :)

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Xenonauts: Based

[Part of the Xenonauts story]

As aliens also dislike being called stupid they send strike cruisers to attack both Hopecenter and Eagle bases but are severely crippled or outright destroyed in the latter case thanks to the defenses long established in them. Eventually the Xenonaut air force manages to down a battle ship UFO on land (as opposed to the ocean which makes it worthless), and a Praetor is found within - except it's dead so that's no good. Lucky there is data about another Praetor hiding in an alien fortress down in Australia.

A corner and some cattle prods are all we need!

Xenonauts fight through the terminators guarding him, losing the scimitar tank and time traveling Sir Igwane on the way to taze that bastard into captivity and clear out the remaining hostiles. Despite the victory, Australiasia also now pulls out of the funding committee after realizing the aliens were better leaders than their own government I guess but it doesn't matter. The Xenonaut scientists use torture science to extract information from the captive Praetor to formulate a plan to win the war.

In involves baiting their mothership dreadnaught, killing their god the High Praetor, and using a virus thingy to warp devices and make the entire alien fleet basically warp into each other / the sun / a black hole. It doesn't really matter. Basically it will fall upon a small team to get this uploaded within a time limit and escape annihilation. A super hovertank and brand new dropship that can carry even more soldiers are developed to aid in this final mission. All that's left is to assemble the best soldiers and do it!

Decluttering Day 24: Small whistle.

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Xenonauts: Dili

[Part of the Xenonauts story]

An aerial terror strike at Reykjavik proves to be a good time to unleash the newest marauder aircraft to butt kick the aliens back into space, but a terror mission in Dili introduces a new alien variant - the tough, large headed wraiths who have a knack for teleporting.  Dr. Monique is caught be surprise and wraithed while Megan Allen is mind controlled into a building that the scimitar tank drops down on top of her for an instakill. Worth it as it took three wraiths down too! The large drones that accompany them are also decently annoying and a good match against the scimitar.

Of course, the Xenonauts didn't know these were NOT the Praetors they needed to capture and lost a few soldiers trying to take some in with Straggler Rachel plasma-ed by a lizardman and Ursula getting lizardmelee'd to death, Sera getting sniped by a jetpack boss and Ghorlak Beholder eating a friendly grenade to ensure a clear path to capture a creature they didn't actually need to.

Since the aliens are clearly becoming stronger (like those lizardmen are now regenerating) MAG rail-gun type weapons are produced for all the soldiers as well as three power armors for the LMG carriers which makes it easier to win battles against the alien battleships landing to terrorize Nairobi and Cape Town. Despite this Dr. Isaac is still killed when taking the bridge of one of those multi storied UFOs. 

It's the only way to be sure.

Dili then is the target of another terror attack, and since their previous efforts did not make Indochina return to the council this time they just nuke the entire city, populace and all. If you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem! Then for whatever reason, Dili is terrorized and nuked AGAIN. Who were they terrorizing, I'm not sure... the aliens either really want something there or are just kinda stupid.

Decluttering Day 23: Broken Pig charm.

Monday 13 November 2023

Xenonauts: Eagle

[Part of the Xenonauts story]

Turns out lizardmen leaders are almost as dumb as their troops so the scientists ask for a higher ranked alien while a new base "Eagle" is established in North America - only to discover the aliens already have a base here! The Xenonauts, while freaked out at the teleporter technology withing, clear out the small facility with patience. The same technique also works on the alien base discovered in Indochina where they also nab an alien martian type leader.

The aliens angrily respond with another terror attack in Tiksi where the lizardmen finally destroy the hunter car and a massive aerial terror bombing on Lagos which costs the Xenonauts many aircraft and pilots to stop. Despite their efforts Indochina decides to drop from the funding council and kowtow to the aliens, which forces the Commander to fire half his science division. Lucky they finished building a scimitar tank which is the next step up from the hunter car, and is even MORE effective as almost soloing maps and helping save Mogadishu against a terror attack.

In the skies above, alien cruisers now start appearing but the Xenonaut air division easily takes these two story ships down while ground troops make use of new fangled stun batons to cheese the teleporters within to stun an alien leader into submission! How? By getting fast soldiers to teleport in and out AND stay on the pad! This prevents aliens from using the teleporter but also keeps them in striking range for the surprisingly strong melee of the shock prods.  This alien at least provides some information on their supreme leaders, the Praetors, and of course the science division wants to get their hands on a live one of these next.

Glass, it's one weakness...

Decluttering Day 22: Snoopy toy with a "Joe Cool" shirt.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Xenonauts: Tarantula

[Part of the Xenonauts story]

With the 60 scientists keen on getting their hands on live captives samples, the soldiers are equipped with gas grenades which they use to nab a lizardman grunt at the cost of Ray Santos and Lily Shen as you need to be kinda close to throw said grenades. Alas the grunt knows very little so a second base "Tarantula" is established South America just in time to shoot down an alien corvette!

This one is literally inhabited by bullet resistant terminator robots and odd floating disc drones that kill Commander's old buddy, Central as well as Sherrif Val and Brenda Catatonic. It's only at this point that I realize corpses can be looted for potentially superior firepower! Also, to combat this new metal threat the Xenonauts now deploy a hunter car during away missions. This machine gun mounted killing machine takes the slots of two soldiers but it is well worth it as now the squad just sits tight until the car clears the map while locating the UFO. Pity it can't capture it though.

It's worth the two soldier slots on the drop ship.

The aliens response is to conduct a terror raid at Paramaribo, led by lizardmen who are now joined by reapers (who are basically XCOM Chrysalids) who move quick, kill in melee and turn their kills into impregnated zombies. Once the zombie is killed a new reaper pops out of it. It's a vicious cycle! Thanks to the hunter car (which runs out of ammo) and a good firing line the Xenonauts triumph and even manage to capture a lizardman leader!

Decluttering Day 21: "Hitman" duck.

Saturday 11 November 2023

Xenonauts: Hopecenter

[Part of the Xenonauts story]

UFO's have once again been detected in the atmosphere and so the hero Commander from the previous invasion arrives at "Hopecenter" base in the Ukraine to lead the defense against these new invaders. Unfortunately the old facilities (like the flying fortress) are gone and most of his active soldiers are also doctors from the science division who can't hit a barn door from twenty feet but at least the few planes available to him have competent pilots who shoot down a few small scout craft.

Ridiculously poor shooting? Check!

Securing the first crashed vessel guarded by the typical looking Martian Men results in the deaths of Hurt Builder and Clutch Pinya as they stormed the ship! Greater care is taken to capture the second vessel piloted by lizardmen who still manage to flank and kill sniper Quincy and the third... is just airstriked safely. What!? Yes! There's an option to just obliterate downed alien craft. While it doesn't give you XP or components, it does give you lots of money. I think I'll be using that a lot!

Since there's loads of new things to study the Commander expands the base and goes on a recruiting spree, ending the first month with three condor planes, one MIG, 12 soldiers, 15 engineers and 60 scientists all paid with funding from the global council. Should five members of this council leave, the game (and the world) is lost. No way that's going to happen... right?

Decluttering Day 20: Remotes for a TV we no longer have.

Xenonauts: It's like XCOM with more letters

While not on par with the modern XCOM games in terms of graphics and music, Xenonauts delivers a very similar game play of racing your R&D to outpace the aliens and tactical, strategic squad based combat with a few nuances that I feel are an improvement over XCOM. Is it better than XCOM though? Mmm hard to say. Let's see how this play through goes first!

1 - Hopecenter
2 - Tarantula
3 - Eagle
4 - Dili
5 - Based
6 - Dreadnought

This story has finished, thanks for reading! And no, XCOM is still better. :P

Friday 10 November 2023

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Our Flag Means Death

Two excellent productions.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

This short 39 minute film is based on a short story (which I previously didn't know existed) of people being able to see without using their eyes, with protagonist Henry being played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It is a strange one as it is fully narrated by the characters on screen and makes use of very basic but effective stage props. As we went into this blind it was a bewildering start for us with the method used but as the tale continued on I definitely got mesmerized by it. Excellent that it can fit so much relevant content in such a short time span - recommended!

Our Flag Means Death

This so far two season comedy romance focuses on newbie pirate captain Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and his adventures on the sea during the golden age of piracy. While it is a slowish start by the end of episode two you'll either by fully into it or not, as its not just the comedy that may not be your cup of tea - it is also very LGBT catering while also being very PG. That's ok though, because the characters are great and the story primarily focuses on their growth rather than stuff that happens around them. Recommended!

Decluttering Day  19: Unused flower vase.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Blacklight and Atlantic Rim: Resurrection

Movies with silly plots.


This action thriller follows an aging and paranoid FBI "fixer" (played by Liam Neeson) who isn't technically FBI but somehow is more skilled than FBI agents when it comes to saving them or killing them as he stumbles into a plot which involves a secret FBI branch murdering innocent US citizens which isn't in his moral compass. It's an ok premise I guess but seriously everyone passes around the stupid ball throughout the film to make idiotic decisions. Even with your brain turned off you might not enjoy this one but it is still leagues better than...

Atlantic Rim: Resurrection

Giant monsters from the deep are terrorizing the world so mankind sends giant robots to stop them... again - because apparently this is a sequel movie but not to the ones you might be thinking of. No, this is a terrible copy-pasta (the signature trademark of The Asylum studio) which involves very short, poor quality bursts of CGI interspersed between ridiculously long and pointless conversation pieces in bland rooms with non-functional stage equipment. A prime example where at least a third of the cast could have been done away with and it would have resulted in a better movie.

On the flip side - we get the hilarious scenes where the military runs out of pilots (a grand total of three of them) to fly the mechs, and characters hiding behind a locked door, which is simply opened with no problem when they are rescued. Said characters have no bearing on the story. Not recommended unless you are in the mood for this sort of thing!

Decluttering Day 18: Old and shredded/disintegrating pillow case. Not sure how this got to the disintegration stage as it was just in its own plastic container but there you go.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Gemini Man and Heart of Stone

Two action movies with gun play.

Gemini Man

A retiring killer (played by Will Smith) is deemed a liability and is thus put as a target for the only person who can take him out: a younger clone of himself. There are some massive leaps over sharks in this story, starting from the opening scene and the plot is predictable enough but boy is it exciting. Plot dialogue is condensed into three or four sentences then its off to the next action sequence, many of which are quite decent. At least the ones at the start and the end, the middle ones suffer from comparative mundaneness due to lack of FX but despite all of that it had us glued to the screen. Thumbs up! Just remember to turn your brain off to fully enjoy the movie. :P

Heart of Stone

Gal Gadot stars in this very much girl power spy action thriller that involves a super clandestine group that polices the world using a highly advanced predictive AI to plot the best courses of action based on mathematical probability. I mean, if someone has a 78% chance to be a murderer why not kill them pre-emptively right? Alas that situation doesn't actually come up and while there are nice reveals in the story there are more than a few holes in the parachute of logic, albeit less than Gemini Man. Also, while the stunt segments are fast paced the fighting seems less so - especially hand to hand looking a bit... um, brawlish and slow. An alright movie, but one with many parts that you can look away and do something else.

Decluttering Day 17: Old credit card account statements (shredded first).

Tuesday 7 November 2023

The Walking Dead: Dead City and Daryl Dixon

While the main Walking Dead series is done and dusted, its off shoots are still shuffling around.

Dead City

Taking place years after the original series we find Maggie (Lauren Cohan) tracking down a most unusual ally, Negan, (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to save her son. For those who haven't seen the Walking Dead, rejoice - you don't really need to as the plot explores not just what's happening in zombie land but also the continuing tension between the two main characters. Alas, for those who have seen the original that part is a bit of a rehash at this point but it's the main draw for the show and works well. There's some new scenic locations for randomly spawning zombies to appear from and its genuinely entertaining enough to warrant a second season. Thumbs up! Hopefully they find a new song to play on their fiddle moving forward though.

Daryl Dixon

My favorite character gets title billing for his own spin-off!? Hell yeah! Through "a bunch of bad decisions" Daryl (Norman Reedus) finds himself in France because the only thing scarier than a zombie is a French zombie! Seriously though, this series introduces more variant deads and a lovely countryside to slay them in. That's cool and all but story wise Daryl survives many-a-time through epic luck and plot armor me thinks, while tasked with the worst possible plot combination: baby sitting and escorting a child somewhere far away. There are some nice call backs and interesting ideas being fostered here, and hopefully season two lets our main character have a bit more agency and more skill reliant than counting on miracles. Thumbs up again, but if I had to compare these two I'd say Dead City is currently the stronger show.

Decluttering Day 16: Unused bag hooks and an equally unused (possibly expired) foot care kit.

Monday 6 November 2023

Pathfinder: Goblin Interrupted

[Part of the Party Time journal

While the local clerics get busy cleansing the taint we found beneath Sandpoint last session and helping Ameiko with funeral arrangements, the town council looks over the intel gathered from the glassworks and sends us to next take down the "head of the snake", leading the goblins at Thistletop. Reinforcements led by the recently returned sheriff will do a diversionary attack on the main goblin force elsewhere which should give us an opening... in theory.

And so, after a quick ride we find ourselves facing a maze of thistlethorn which is uncomfortable to crawl through - especially when we come across some random deep hole that drops into the sea. Whatever swims below roars and terrifies Ezren (Juris), but Valeros (me) manages to pin and quiet him until he calms down. This is a stealth assassination mission after all!

Unfortunately we are noticed by a goblin jedi with a flaming sword who quickly calls forth some goblin dogs (really big rats) and a big cat that knocks Valeros down upon arrival! While Ezren and Kyra (Rose) try out their new abilites of prismatic spray and spiritual weapon which truly handles the dog pack, Merisiel (mom) has great difficulty against the cat and makes use of an expensive health potion to stay alive.

Meanwhile, instead of getting up (and letting the jedi and cat get attacks of opportunity) Valeros decides to wrestle the goblin jedi (who misses his attack of opportunity) - and succeeds!? So for the entire combat, these two are just writhing around on the floor together with Valeros getting free punches in and the goblin not being able to do much at all due to his small stature. Eventually the animals are slain and Yoda surrenders (that's not his name, but it might as well be). In exchange for some information, Valeros decides to just chain him up and knock him out instead of killing him - much to the chagrin of his companions who seemingly all wanted to throw him down the sea hole.  

Alas Valeros is Neutral Good (Ezren and Kyra too actually) so I don't think that's something he would do. Besides Yoda's intel about the rope bridge trap leading to the island fortress proves true so Ezren reminds Valeros to temporarily stow his heavy armor in his bag of holding before crossing after Stolas (Ezren's owl familiar / switched from the premade Staff familiar) finds that the watch posts are manned by non-observant goblins. At this point real life got in the way so we had to stop the session there.

Decluttering Day 15: An old tray and a sticky toaster.

Sunday 5 November 2023

Gloomhaven: The Deep Sh*t Ruins

[Part of the Party Time journal

Gloomhaven is pretty up there for the award of city with the most secure sewers, as while continuing to investigate for the source of the poison our team triggers some sort of alarm that not only awakens some nearby undead but also activates laser gun stone golems and... cannons!? Who the heck puts cannons in a sewer system!?

It takes us a total of three attempts to achieve the winning condition of occupying all pressure plates simultaneously to turn off the alarm - located in two separate chambers! On the first go, DL and I went left while Juris and Jim went right but Jim was too slow to reach his plate before people ran out of cards. Attempt two Juris and I went right instead but the cannons pushed Juris off his plate then immobilized him at the worst time - losing us the game.

Third go, we basically just killed everything in the most ridiculous manner possible. This included me (a small vermling) pushing a gigantic cannon into a bear trap to destroy it, and for Jim's battlebot spider to somehow make a stone golem bleed to death!? Egads! Now that this section is clear maybe we can actually get back to finding the source of the poison?

Decluttering Day 14Old metal gate pieces. Heavy.

Saturday 4 November 2023

Beckham and Black Mirror

Two interesting series!


As someone who doesn't particularly follow soccer (outside of the fictional Blue Lock lol) or sports in general, I rolled my eyes when my wife suggested we watch this four episode documentary on the life of David Beckham. "Sure, let's watch the first ten minutes and if it's no good we can always switch to something else," was my reply. Turns out no switching was required as we were quickly hooked with the snappy editing interwoven with the interesting interview segments. It also helps that video evidence of the excellent physical feats told in here are shown to the audience as well. Definitely recommended simply because it's an entertaining story told in an engrossing way. Give it a try!

Black Mirror

People have been suggesting this currently six season anthology series to me for years now, and while each episode is stand alone with maybe a few Easter eggs that reference other episodes, all of them deal with future tech used for the wrong or unexpected reasons with equally wrong or unexpected (and usually bad) results. As with any anthology series some episodes are better than the others, but even the "worst" of these is still an interesting watch. I feel kind of silly only watching this now! Recommended!

Decluttering Day 13: Foldable shopping trolley which for the last 10+ years has just been storage for even more junk.

Friday 3 November 2023

Exception and Sweet Home

Two first season horrors!


In this CGI animated series, the copies of five specialists are "printed" on an advance ship (which goes so fast that no life form can survive that journey) to begin terraforming a planet for a colony vessel that will arrive in a hundred years or so. Issues arise when crewman #5 is misprinted into a monster, and that the ship's printer won't let them print "weapons". While the horror here is less jump scares and more cranial, there are some really fantastic and philosophical ideas in this series too. The art is... a different style with very angular characters but it can be overlooked. Story wise it starts off very strong but it does feel that the season could have been shortened, or did something else towards the end where it wobbles a little. Recommended if you are in the mood for something different.

Sweet Home (Season 1)

This Korean horror focuses on an all-in-one apartment block that gets locked down when people inexplicably start turning into monsters world wide! It must also be one of the few times that I was actively rooting for the monsters to kill all the moronic, scummy and worthless humans for at least the first half of the season. That's actually my main problem with it, it takes that long to find someone to get behind as the main protagonist is one of the most unlikable wooden person (probably by design) through out all of it. The show does better when he isn't on screen! Isn't that a problem? Lucky the story is entertaining enough to stick with despite the plot going through phases of monsters showing up out of nowhere and difficult to follow action sequences - possibly to try hide their lack of monster budget. The monsters are ok though, really. The story is too. They just need to do something with the protagonist. Surprisingly, I'm still recommending this and am hoping season two can improve some things.

Decluttering Day 12: Old plug-in type vacuum. The stick vacuum replacement is really much better.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Ahsoka and The Continental

Two first season series set in popular universes.

Ahsoka (Season 1)

It seems there are actually a lot of Jedi that survived the purge, and this show follows one of them: Ahsoka Tano played by a very zen or very bored Rosario Dawson who is on a quest to prevent a long lost Imperial admiral from returning to restart the war. I'm guessing many of the cast here are from some of the many animated Star Wars shows but since I've not watched any of those, I can only go with what is portrayed here and the word I keep coming up with is... inept? Yeah.

Good guys and bad guys alike make crazy decisions and in "deadly" light saber fights usually manage to land hits with the less lethal pommel or with a spinning kick  rather than their main weapon. Also, I know nothing of light saber "weight" but for regular blades a dual wielding person would want to dodge or deflect (let the strike keep going but just push it a little so it doesn't hit you) and attack with the other hand as opposed to blocking which is what happens here regularly (the traditional light saber dead stop clash). It all just feels... odd? Things happen to further the plot, but the things that happen are often due to stupidity or luck.

Currently the Mandalorian is better. If you want one with even less fighting but stronger plot then try Andor instead.

The Continental: From the World of John Wick (Season 1)

This currently one season (three episode) show examines the characters around the titular hotel (for assassins) prior to it being visited by John Wick. Colin Woodell stars as a young Winston Scott who wants nothing to do with the Continental but is dragged back into its world thanks to the actions of his brother. Expect violence and some cool fight scenes, but also a lot of talking to fill the space in between. It's not bad per se, but I was a little let down that it didn't really focus on the "assassins world" which the movie franchise made pretty cool, and I was also not impressed by the end which smells like they want to have another season, forcing the plot to aim towards that. [Translated from Joe speak: "Too many people survived"].

Decluttering Day 11: Tattered Christmas table runners.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Honkai: Star Rail and Godlike Burger

Two games I got on Epic for free.

Godlike Burger

This is another cook to order game where you are running a space traveling burger joint and are under time pressure to make the correct orders for the various aliens that wander in. Luckily you don't need to deliver it to them as they come to the counter when its ready, however expect to kick your equipment often as they break down and if you REALLY are efficient you can even murder your customers to get some free meat, just be careful not to be caught and who you feed that to as it might attract the space cops!

An interesting twist for sure but one that I couldn't really utilize because I hated the burger assembly interface (there is none). You can't remove wrong ingredients once placed and by default you put anything you are holding (up to 2 things) into a burger automatically so you can't get lettuce for one and tomato for another because both will go to the first one you interact with. Maybe I'd enjoy it more if I ignore the cooking component and just treat it as a murder simulator, but there are so many other games that already do that. Not recommended.

Honkai: Star Rail

After the feeling of incompleteness from my run of Genshin Impact followed by enjoyable exploration in Tower of Fantasy comes Honkai: Star Rail, another gacha game of collecting characters to help you fight battles, often with some elemental alignment that is stronger against some enemies and weaker to others. This time around it is turn based combat and features a train that travels through space! But I've got to say, this must be the WORST of these three.

What? But the graphics and music are nice! The characters are also pretty good and the story is... short, but they're working on it! Sure. My biggest gripe is unlike those ones, the grind in this is put right in your face early on. The main story is level locked and you can't unlock future chapters just by playing through the main chapters. And there aren't even enough side quests (some of which have built in delays of "come back tomorrow to do the next part") to get you to the required ranking to advance. Instead it asks you go through the same few map zones via "Virtual Simulation" (at least two different forms of this too) to grind your level up.

That is ridiculously BORING! Especially when they start adding HP sponge bosses just to draw out combats. Lastly the clearest way to know if the designers are making a grindy turn based battler is if they include an AUTO COMBAT feature, aka "we know its boring so, press this button to make it go faster". This game introduces it to you IN THE TUTORIAL. Strongly not recommended. Stay away from this garbage.

Decluttering Day 10: An old small, and now unused bin. Why the heck were we still hanging on to that one?