Catching Up

Hey, gang.  Sorry I haven’t been around for a while.  Been busy.  Still am.  Have a couple of projects demanding my full time attention, and they’re still ongoing.  But I wanted to drop by, check in, and just confirm that I am still alive.

I recently bought a new board game: Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight Games.  I plan on writing an in-depth review soon, but for now, I’ll just say I’ve really enjoyed it.  Based loosely on Lovecraftian themes, one player takes on the role of The Keeper, controlling the monsters and obstacles the characters must face while the other players are Investigators, exploring a map and trying not to get killed or driven mad while doing so.  It’s a fairly unique game with some resemblance to a few others, most notably Betrayal at House on the Hill and Descent.   So far, it’s getting thumbs up from me, but I want to give it another play or two before really making up my mind.  Stay tuned.

Another fun game that I can definitely recommend is Thunderstone by AEG.  It’s a deckbuilding game, which is a genre that has blossomed recently.  Each player starts with a small deck of cards, and they draft more cards as the game progresses, adding and removing cards from their deck.  The goal is to build a strong enough deck that it can reliably kill the monsters populating the dungeon.  While I haven’t played any other deckbuilding games, Thunderstone is quickly becoming a favorite.  It’s extremely easy to teach, and rarely boring because player turns are fast and furious.  The semi-random nature of the monsters, heroes, and village supplies means that every game can be unique.  And if you add in the expansions, you literally have dozens upon dozens of card types where only a handful will ever be used in any game.  I enjoy the theme as well, so this one is definitely recommended.

Saw Unknown.  Good movie.  Heck of a cool car chase, which I always enjoy.  It’s not a “twisty” movie in the sense that it isn’t trying to surprise and shock you.  It’s up front with its plot points and if you’re paying attention at all, you really shouldn’t be surprised by the story.  But that’s not a bad thing.  It’s not the duty of the writer to impress you with how complicated he can make the story.  It’s to tell a good story that you’re glad you saw, and I found Unknown to be an entertaining, well-crafted film from top-to-bottom.  It engaged me, didn’t try to outsmart me, and ended up being good fun with some solid characters, great acting, and did I mention a kick ass car chase?

While I’m here, I’d like to go ahead and recommend I Am Number Four.  I don’t know how well it did at the box office, but by now, I expect that anything unapologetically fantastic is always dismissed as childish and beneath us.  I know nothing about the books is based on, but I Am Number Four is that rare film with good, relatable characters AND giant alien monster fights.

Number Four reminded me why I was so disappointed in Iron Man 2 because when we get to the climax of Number Four, a showdown between our heroes and a group of alien bounty hunters, we are treated to a smorgasbord of awesome.   In so many films of this nature, the showdown at the end is almost treated as an inconvenience.  “Fine.  I guess we’ll throw in a final battle because we’re supposed to, but let’s keep it short and simple.”  And it’s difficult for me to criticize this attitude because you so rarely hear anyone criticize adventure flicks for not having enough adventure.

But in Number Four‘s climax, we have blasters, teleporting, huge beasts, telekinesis, and cool martial arts.  These things are cool, and the way the film handles them is cool, too.  It’s a film I really liked which means it’ll probably be mocked by most.

Have I mentioned lately how astounded I am that I have a career?  Maybe it’s just easier in novelology than film.  It’s true that if Iwere writing screenplays, I’d have to reconsider a lot of the elements I write into a story.  But I’m a novelologist, and happy to be one.

Speaking of which, I should probably get back to work.  Catch you later, gang.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Posted March 8, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Dominion is a fantastic deck building game. It got a lot of great reviews and press last year and deserves it. There are a ton of expansions but just playing the base game is very satisfying.

    • Posted March 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      I was going to recommend Dominion as well. It’s the only deck-building game I’ve ever played (where deck-building is part of the gameplay and not the metagame, that is), but it’s far and away the current favorite among my regular board/card game group. Like Thunderstone, there are a bunch of different cards you can play with, so it’s tough to get bored with the game as a whole.

      Thanks for the recommendations, though; I’ll definitely have to check Thunderstone out!

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