I’m Cuckoo for Co-ops!

8 03 2012

Hey there, you groovy gamers!

Well, last night’s Game Night was another hit, with Fix, Fitz, Stu, Dav, and myself indulging in two games each of the cooperative games Pandemic: On the Brink and Space Alert: Keep the Roommate Awake. The gang all trickled in around six o’clock and we started out with some frosty beverages, idle chatter, and exchanging of library material. Making the rounds this month are: Scott Chantler’s beautiful WWII graphic novel, Two Generals; last year’s best new comic series relaunch, Daredevil #1-9, by Waid, Martin, & Rivera; Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft, & Attila Futaki’s terrifying comic miniseries, Severed #1-7; and two Terry Pratchett Discworld novels: Guards! Guards!, the introduction to his beloved City Watch characters, and his most recent and perhaps last Sam Vimes story, Snuff. After that bit of housekeeping, we got down to business.

The Pale Blue Dot.

First we had another go at Pandemic, with the On the Brink expansion set. After getting trounced twice last time we tried hard to do better this go. The first match we got stomped by 8 disease outbreaks before we even discovered 2 cures. The second round we let Fix play the BioTerrorist, (since Laura wasn’t there,) and that was really fun. We were doing pretty well, and it got right down to the wire. We were accountably just 3 turns from losing by running out of Event Cards when Dav, Fitz, & Stu hit upon an incredibly complex series of moves and card combos which looked like it could win it for us. I could explain it to you but I was apparently distracted by a dog outside the window. He was really cute. The other guys will tell you that this took me out of the game, but we did win after all, for which I’m sure I deserve a fair share of the credit; we were a team after all! It was nice to finally, after all these years, beat Pandemic.

Wait, the game gets HARDER?!?

Can I get visual confirmation on that dog, Lieutenant?

Next we sat down to Space Alert, the game whose object is apparently to explore hostile deep space by yelling at everyone enough to forget what it was you were supposed to be doing in the first place. It was around this time that our roommate, Liz, came home, preparing to study and then go to bed. She graciously assured us she could deal with our raucous ruckus, and even complimented us on our running playback of the Star Trek: The Next Generation’s ambient engine noise. I wonder if she still feels the same way. Last time we played I acted simply as the instructor, but this time around I got to play along with everyone else. I’m still thrilled at how fun this short game is to simply watch, but playing is even more enjoyable. If you’ve ever wanted a realistic game crewing an intergalactic starship- well, you just might be fooled into thinking this game is for you. But if you can occasionally enjoy Galaxy Quest over Star Trek, Starship Troopers over Ender’s Game, or Munchkin over Dungeons & Dragons, then this game is right up your alley. We first played a Simulation round, which we did reasonably well on and didn’t even die. Too bad you’re not supposed to keep score on Simulation Runs. I even managed to get us a couple extra points for visual confirmation! (Otherwise known as looking out the window, which is apparently a running theme tonight. But you do get points for it! Serious!) With our confidence buoyed by the successful Simulation Run, we attempted a real mission. Suffice it to say that it didn’t go as well. For one thing, our ship was overrun by internal threats alone. For another, BOTH our security robot teams LEFT the rooms the evil seeker droid was in in order to defend an empty room. As for myself, I stick with what I know, and so I looked out the window again. There was a dog there! Sirius!… … huh? huh? See what I did there? (Did I say “running theme?” Perhaps I meant running gag.) Anyway, the seeker droid evaded capture, blowing a gaping hole in the side of the ship so big I figured the kamikaze fighter would sail on through it. We had no such luck. Soooo, after that ignominious defeat, we decided to call it a night.

It was a great time had by all, as always, and I can’t wait to do it again. I did just pick up some additional zombie and skeleton miniatures, so maybe another round of Super Epic Zombies Plus is in the cards?

Braaaaains!
Kris

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$H!#!, @$%*, & Other Such Exclamations

6 01 2009

If I say “Oh $H!#!” out loud while reading a comic, generally that is a good sign that this is a good comic. Almost certainly good writing is going on, and very likely good art as well. I was lucky enough to do this twice today.

The first was while reading Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s fine Daredevil comic, issue #114. I’ll try not to give away the spoiler, but halfway through the book, in a scene with nothing but a bunch of lawyers sitting around a table together, one lawyer, (not Nelson or Murdock!) pulls out a bunch of photos and I, exclaiming loudly to the cats who only stared at me, about dropped my comic in my lap. Very nice job, Mr. Brubaker. You got off to a fine start picking up the reins from Bendis, and have really made the book your own. In fact, as much as I loved Bendis, I’d gotten so used to him on Daredevil and the many other books I read of his, that he was ceasing to surprise me very much any more, though I do still find his work immensely entertaining and of high quality. Do I worry that Brubaker may become similarly stale over time? Well, perhaps, but I’d say that the issue with Bendis was not so much about stale toast, as a very familiar friend. So even if Brubaker goes down that same road, it’s not a bad place to be. I should probably point out that through the rest of the book I found myself also yelling “No, Carlos! It’s a trap!” and “Matt, you idiot! Don’t go IN!!” High praise, indeed.

The second comic of the day to evoke a hungry gaze from the cats was also Mr. Brubaker’s, (along with Sean Phillips,): Incognito #1. Now, to be honest, it wasn’t the Incognito story itself which made me yelp, though it was very fine. I’ve been hesitant to explore more of Brubaker’s work like Criminal, maybe nervous of one-trick-ponitis, or more likely of my above-mentioned worry that I’d start to feel oversaturated with Brubakerly goodness. But when I saw a new issue one with his name on the cover and some classy interior and cover art by Phillips, I decided to give it a shot. As much as I liked Incognito, I have a feeling I’ll be picking up the first Criminal trade soon. Quickly, Incognito is the story of an ex-super-powered criminal who lets the reader into an exploration of the allure and adrenalin-rush of wearing a mask and acting outside of oneself. Well-crafted and paced by Brubaker, with a nice, modern take on traditional panel art by Phillips, the first single issue feels like five issues worth of story and I can’t wait for the next. But the moment in the book that made me stop in my tracks was after the post-story article and advertisement when I turned the page to a STUNNING double-page painted spread of The Shadow! Unfortunately, I can’t find a clear artist credit for the image, but I assume it is Phillips, and it really is spectacular. Guns blazing, eyes slit like daggers, red cloak bleeding all over the place and GOSH! Just staring at it now is intensely awesome. It’s a lead-in for Jess Nevins’ encyclopedic article on the pulp hero, which is a tie-in to Nevins’ forthcoming Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes (MonkeyBrain Books, 2009.) Really, truly, a wonderful moment in the world of comic art. Thanks guys.

Both Daredevil and Incognito are published by Marvel Comics.

What I’m loving this week:
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #3
Daredevil, vol.2 #114
Echo #8
Thor, one-shots, by Fraction: Man of War
What I’m reading this week:
Amazing Spider-Man #581
Incognito #1
Invincible Iron Man #7&8
Proof #15
Rasl #3
Samurai #3&4
Ultimate Spider-Man #129
Universal War One #3
The Walking Dead #56
Wolverine #70 “Old Man Logan”
X-Men: Magneto: Testament #4
What I’m thinking of dropping next week:
Invincible #57
What I’m dropping this week:
Ultimatum #1&2