Heavy Rain Is Heavily Underwhelming

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My blogging schedule has been irregular lately due to attending Gen Con in Indianapolis last weekend. Gen Con was one of the best conventions I have ever attended and I do plan to write about my experience soon. Hopefully, my blog posts will be on a more regular schedule since I don’t have any more out of town vacations or conventions to go to. I took this Monday off from work because I figured I would need a day to recover from the convention. Besides catching up on house work, I decided to finish playing Heavy Rain which is a game I started almost two months ago, but I couldn’t find the time to finish. Heavy Rain had a mysterious story, but terrible controls.

Heavy Rain is a psychological thriller launched by game developer Quantic Dream. The game centralizes on four playable characters: Ethan, a father suffering from mental illness, Scott Shelby a PI, Norman Jayden, a FBI agent and Madison, a photojournalist. All of these characters are wrapped up in solving the mystery of the “Origami Killer”. The Origami Killer kidnaps boys and forces the parents to perform trials to see how much they love their kids. If the parents fail their trials, they won’t be able to save their son from drowning in a sewer grate. Various chapters are told from the character’s as they uncover little by little the secret to the Origami Killer’s identity.

The story itself is rather creepy. There were a couple chapters with jump scares, but it was far and few in between. I hate playing video games with jump scares because then I can’t focus on the game. I wasn’t expecting how the story was going to play out which allowed me to feel surprised by the reveal of the killer’s identity. As the chapters continue, the chance of killing one of the playable characters becomes higher. On my first play through, one of my characters died in a silly way which left me feeling annoyed by their death.

The number one deterrent for me wanting to replay this game is the controls. The controls feel unnatural. For moving each of the characters, you have to hold down the right trigger for the entire movement. I would rather use a joystick to move my character because it’s more seamless with the controller. Another slightly annoying factor with the controls is all the QTE. QTE or Quick Time Events is when a series of buttons comes up in rapid succession which means the player has to hit the buttons on the controller in response. I don’t mind QTE sequences, but the buttons during some of the chapters felt really weird. There were times where the QTE were trying to direct me to move my controller in a certain way and I wasn’t comprehending what I was supposed to do. As a result, there were certain QTE I had to replay more than others and that became obnoxious.

It’s a shame because Heavy Rain had potential, but because of the controls set in the game, it made me dislike the game. I purchased Heavy Rain in a two pack with Beyond Two Souls. I’m planning to play Beyond Two Souls despite Heavy Rain’s terrible control settings. It’s worth it to play Heavy Rain at least once, but make sure to buy it used.

 

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80’s Sci Fi meets DnD in Star Frontiers

One of the ways I’m able to play more DnD is to be a part of the “Dungeons & Dragons Minnesota” Facebook group. This allows me to connect with fellow Minnesota RPG players in my area. Last month I drove to the Source Comics & Games to partake in a small campaign utilizing the Star Frontiers rule book. Having never played Star Frontiers before, I would recommend it for any one shot campaign as I had a blast.

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Star Frontiers Character Sheet. My Dralasite is carrying a huge assault rifle. My character is named Sloogatha Muda. This is my own personal image. 

Combine 80’s sci-fi action films with DnD and that’s how I would describe Star Frontiers. The rule book was originally published in 1982 which was in the height of film releases such as Flash Gordon or Robo Cop. Star Frontiers is set in the center of a spiral galaxy very much like our own Milky Way. In this setting, ships can jump to the “Void” which allows ships to travel to various planets. The basic game takes place in the “Frontier Sector” where four races have come together to form the United Plantary Federation which is very similar to Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets. After acknowledging the background of the Star Frontier, this is where the role playing session begins.

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Dralasites. Don’t they look like adipose… kinda? Image from the Star Frontiers Wiki. 

The four races to pick from were Humans, Dralasites, Vrusk and Yazirian. I picked a Dralasite which reminds me of the adipose in David Tennant’s run of Doctor Who. The Dralasites have a voice box, so in the actual DnD session, I used my “alien” voice. It helped to make the character sound more real. The Dralasites can have as many limbs equal to it’s dexterity divided by 10, rounded up. I didn’t roll high on my dexterity, so I only had four limbs, but it would have been cool if I had so many limbs that I looked like a squishy octopus.

Our campaign started in a bar where we saved a fellow Yazarian from some bounty hunters. Our team decided to help this Yazarian locate treasure in this pyramid statue. One of my favorite parts of our session was when we were fighting these poisonous spiders. Once we defeated them, I decided to touch the poison on the wall. The DM was advising me not to do that, but I did anyway. I rolled a critical success and became “immune” to the poison and I created a vaccine I could use for the other players. The DM was shocked.

Our one shot session lasted about four hours. The time completely flew by as I became immersed in the 80’s space nostalgia of Star Frontiers. If you’re looking for a completely new system to DM, I personally would recommend this one because who doesn’t love 80’s sci fi films?

 

Summoning Elder Gods in Cultists & Cthulhu

It’s been a rough start for me this week trying to get back to reality after attending Twin Cities Pride all last weekend. I had a blast walking around, taking pictures and seeing everyone being authentic in who they are. I decided to spend my Sunday after Pride writing about this new card game I tried out with friends titled Cultists & Cthulhu. If you read any of my board game reviews, you shouldn’t be surprised as to how much I enjoy any game based off H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. I found this game at Con of the North, a gaming convention I attended back in February. This would be a perfect game to pack for a convention, or to a brewery.

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The purple deck is the draw deck, the green deck is the ritual deck. 

Cultists & Cthulhu is a card game where players are trying to roll dice to complete rituals. On a single turn players will draw cards from the purple deck. These types of cards will either be cultists or minus cards which impact another player’s dice roll. Cultists are the most important card in the game because to complete a ritual, you need to have a cultist in play to do so. This is where the game becomes tricky because you can steal cultists from other players. This is how I lost the game because my friend stole my cultist, so I couldn’t complete rituals.

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Cultist cards are represented by the leaf symbol above the number. 

Once a cultist is in play, the player has to roll 4’s, 5’s or 6’s to receive ritual tokens to be placed on a ritual card. The twist on this is if you roll at least three 1’s and 2’s in one roll, the cultist goes “crazy” and has to be discarded. Fortunately, I rolled extremely well in the game I played, so this never happened to me. My friend however, had to discard two of her cultists in one game. I like the dice roll aspect of the game because it makes every game different.

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The book symbol is the one that says how many ritual tokens needed to complete the ritual. The Cthulhu is how many points that are received once the ritual is completed. 

Winning the game includes completing a ritual which earns points. Each ritual card has a book icon on the bottom left of the card. This is the amount of ritual tokens needed to complete a ritual. The Cthulhu symbol on the right of the card is the amount of points received once the ritual has been completed. The first player to have twenty one points worth of completed rituals wins the game.

Cultists & Cthulhu is a sinister card game that’s perfect for any Lovecraftian fan. Prolific Games, the publisher behind Cultists & Cthulhu, is a local MN based board game company. It gives me a sense of pride to share my love for a board game that was crafted in my state. To purchase Cultists & Cthulhu, head over to Prolific Games online store where you can find the many fabulous card games to add to your game collection.

 

 

Modern Horizons Pre-Release MTG + Tips for Drafting.

On Sunday, I drove to Rochester, MN to participate in the Magic the Gathering: Modern Horizons Pre-Release. This will be my third pre-release I have attended since rejuvenating my interest in Magic the Gathering. I’m still an amateur player, however playing in these events has given me confidence to keep playing the game. I had a blast playing with the new cards, but I also wanted to share some general tips for drafting in Magic that one of my friends sent me.

Modern is a format in Magic where decks are built with at least sixty cards versus standard Magic where decks have forty cards. Me and two other friends participated in this pre-release except it wasn’t like a typical pre-release I attended, it was a draft. Drafting in Magic can be extremely difficult. Drafting is where everyone opens a booster pack and picks only one card from that pack. Then the pack gets passed to the next player and they pick one card from the pack. This means I need to pick cards from what’s passed to me without knowing what cards were picked by other players. I chose to make a blue / white deck with a bunch of flying creatures.

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This is one flying creature I used. 

My deck wasn’t that great. I found the other players in our group had more “aggressive” decks meaning their decks worked faster than mine. I only won one game out of twelve games (as I said, I’m still an amateur). After this experience, my friend sent me an article about what to look for when drafting. It’s titled BREAD which stands for:

B – Bombs. This is the super powerful cards. This could mean creatures that can’t be removed from the game easily or instants which can remove many creatures at once. It’s a card that you can’t pass up, so pick this card first in a draft.

R – Removal. These are cards that remove creatures or artifacts. If a deck doesn’t have removal, it’s useless. Creatures make up a deck, but the deck needs to be defensive as well. 

E – Evasion! Choosing creatures that are difficult to block. This includes finding abilities such as flying, deathtouch, unblockable or I find menace to be an ability that’s kind of obnoxious. My deck was based around flying creatures, but the deck failed. That’s because of . .  . 

A – Aggro. This is why my deck failed. Aggro refers to filling up a mana curve. Meaning you want to cast a creature card every turn if able. This means choosing creatures that are cheap to cast. My flyers were great creatures, but often they required at least 3 sometimes even 5 mana to cast. This means by the time I was able to cast a creature, my opponent had at least three or four creatures out at once time. This cost me almost all of my games. 

D- Duds! These are the cards no one wants. I was playing a blue / white flying deck, but I still found cards that were green or black which didn’t work with my color scheme. This happens to everyone at a draft where you’re forced to take cards no one wants. These cards can be sorted out when the deck building begins. 

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The Oneirophage – every time I draw a card, I put a counter on it. 

Even though my deck sucked, I liked the cards I drafted. I pulled a couple “Phantom Ninja’s” which cost three mana. Their special ability is they can’t be blocked. This is useful because anytime I attack with them, my opponent can’t do anything about them. I also liked my “Wall of One Thousand Cuts.” It’s a wall which provides a blocking creature for my deck. I also like the art work on “Oneirophage.” This is a squid illusion which every time I draw a card, I put a +1 / +1 counter on Oneirophage. This squid could become powerful as my turns progressed.

As I reflect on the pre-release, I learned valuable deck building skillsDeck building is the hardest thing for me to grasp in Magic the Gathering. Once I have a successful deck, I’m good to go. I’m trying to play more Magic because in August I’m going to Gen Con. If I can win at least one game in Gen Con, I would be thrilled.

 

 

2019 Video Game Releases I’m Excited For

Playing video games will always be a hobby of mine, but the time I have to play them has drastically decreased. At my full time job, I often have to stay late past the hours I’m supposed to. I drive home from work where I cook dinner, potentially go work out and then once I get an ounce of free time, I want to go to bed to get the sleep my body needs. Weekends have become busier with me and my fiance attempting to plan a wedding. I won’t ever abandon gaming as a hobby, but I have accepted that I don’t have as much time for it as I used to. I still keep up with latest releases and I wanted to share with you about which 2019 video game releases I’m highly anticipating: 

Jedi Fallen Order – November 15th 2019

The trailer dropped at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. I remember playing Star Wars Battlefront in 2003 with one of my childhood friends. I have avoided the new Star Wars Battlefront games thanks to EA’s policies of having to pay to unlock items. Since Jedi: Fallen Order is a single player based game, I’m thinking I will enjoy this a lot more.

Jedi: Fallen Order is set after Episode III when Order 66 was initiated. Not all the Jedi’s were ruthlessly murdered, but many of them were forced to go into hiding. Cal was in Jedi training, but now works as a scrapper on the planet, Bracca. After an unfortunate incident where one of his fellow workers falls off a ledge, Cal uses some of “the force” to save him. This exposes Cal further and he’s forced to flee from the army of Stormtroopers sent to finish him.

This game has a lot of potential because of it’s departure from Star Wars Battlefront which ultimately pissed off a lot of gaming fans. Jedi: Fallen Order is released on November 15th on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. It’s also being released three days after the Mandalorian premieres on Disney+

Man of Medan – August 30th 2019

During the Polar Vortex in February [where the temperatures dropped to -30], I was playing Until Dawn. Until Dawn was an addicting horror game which is hilarious to me since I’m not a huge fan of horror games to begin with. This had the perfect level of jump scares combined with a great setting and fun characters to play as. Immediately after completing Until Dawn, I went to follow their developer, Supermassive Games, on Twitter. This is where I discovered Man of Medan, the latest game Supermassive Games had been working on.

Man of Medan is based partially on true events. The Ourange Medan was a ship in the 1940’s where the entire crew perished under suspicious circumstances. The main story is centered on five characters who are investigating an old 1940’s ship wreck. The characters are: Julie, Conrad, Alex, Brad and Fliss. Man of Medan will be similar to Until Dawn as certain decisions made within the game will impact the final ending. After making a crucial decision in the game, you can’t reload saves. Meaning you are stuck with the decision you made.

Man of Medan releases on August 30th 2019. I highly recommend playing Until Dawn before the release of Man of Medan 

Harry Potter Wizard’s Unite – Sometime in 2019

I was probably the only person who wasn’t invested in Pokemon Go. I thought it was a cute concept, but I got bored after a while. Now take the concept of Pokemon Go and combine it with Harry Potter and now I’m intrigued. Harry Potter Wizards Unite is an augmented reality based game where fans can play as certain characters and capture creatures or find artifacts in the real world. The goal is to keep the Wizarding World safe and secretive against muggles. When Pokemon Go first released, the game was really buggy. I’m hoping this doesn’t happen with Harry Potter Wizards Unite. 

So far, that’s all the games I’m anticipating. It helps when my fiance is subscribed to Game Informer because then I can keep up to date with video games every month. I’m trying to use my off days from work to catch up on my video game back log, so that when these games release, I’m ready to devote all my time to them.

 

 

I’m a Doctor, Not a Board Gamer: Star Trek Ascendancy Review

I’m the first one to admit: I’m not a Star Trek fan. That’s not to say I don’t like Star Trek, I just have never sat down and watched an episode. I do have access to Hulu now thanks to my subscription with Spotify, and I have considered watching the original series or Star Trek: Next Generation. When my uncle bought Star Trek Ascendancy, I wasn’t sure if this game would be for me because of my limited Star Trek knowledge. I’m EXTREMELY surprised because I thought this game was massively addicting.

Star Trek Ascendancy was published by GaleForce Nine which is a company also producing the Doctor Who board game which is another game I deeply enjoyed. Star Trek Ascendancy allows the player to choose out of four factions to travel deep space with. These include: the Federation, Romulans, Klingons and the Cardassians (which I believe is pronounced similarly to the Kardashians?). I picked the Romulans as everyone in my gaming group had desperately wanted to play the other factions. The goal of the game is to build up your fleet and either take over another faction or acquire five Ascendancy tokens which can be earned by dominating other civilizations.

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This is what our game board looked like with all of the factions exploring deep space. It’s madness! Photo taken by me. 

From the above picture, this is towards the middle of the game. Since one of the main components of winning the game is by dominance, it’s crucial to explore different planets. They can net resources for the faction which can be utilized to build or upgrade ships. This allows for better success in intergalactic space battles.

Each faction starts out with a card that givens them an added benefit to the game. I had “the Romulan cloaking device” which allowed me first strike in space battles. I never used the device because my main premise was to dominate other planets. Another aspect of the game is offering “trade agreements”. These agreements are established between planets to avoid conflict and gather resources. Trade agreements are violated when you betray the faction and attack them instead. In our game, I had a trade agreement with my brother. I wholeheartedly believe that if we had time to finish our game, he would have stabbed me in the back and full on attacked me.

I will admit, turn orders are extremely time consuming. As a player, I found my attention wavered because I was waiting for my turn. Turns are split into a “build” and a “command” phase. Building ships and formulating upgrades always happens first. Once you spend your resources, you flip the turn card over and command your ships across the galaxy. As my gaming group started to learn the rules, turns weren’t as lengthy, but in the beginning it felt like a round took forever.

Ultimately, I did highly enjoy this game and I’m not a “trekkie”. I’m actually inspired to watch more Star Trek so I can understand where all the references come from. I have heard nothing but good things about Star Trek Next Generation. I think that might be my new TV watching project after finishing up How To Get Away With Murder. Until then, I’ll keep up my galactic conquest with the Romulans.

 

*If you’re interested in reading the rule book: GaleForce Nine does have the rule book to download free of charge. You can find that here: Star Trek Ascendancy Rulebook*

 

War of the Spark Pre-Release Summary

This weekend was the War of the Spark pre-release for Magic the Gathering. As each set releases, there’s always a “pre-release” where players can play the set before the release date. I previously attended one pre-release where I didn’t win a single game. However, I was pleasantly surprised to say I won 3 games. YAY I’M STILL SO EXCITED AND PROUD OF MYSELF 😀 😀 😀 I wanted to summarize the deck I built and my general experience of the pre-release.

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This was my pre-release kit. This contains all the cards I need to build a 40 card deck. Photo taken by me. 

In a pre-release, there are “promo” cards. The cards are randomized with each promo being foiled and listing the date of the pre-release on the card. As I opened my kit, I’m looking at what my “pulls” are. The pulls are the unwrapped cards from the booster packs. From there, I’m expected to put the cards together in a 40 card minimum deck. This is my favorite part of a pre-release. Every player is on an even playing field. A skilled player could put together a mediocre deck or a novice player like myself could make a powerful deck. I “pulled” some bad-ass black creatures, so I created a black / green deck with emphasis on graveyard retrieval along with powerful planeswalkers.

Let’s discuss planeswalkers. Planeswalkers aren’t creatures, but they serve a purpose. They grant abilities to creatures, allow for card draw and more. This is one of the few Magic the Gathering sets which prominently feature Planeswalkers.

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I’m on cloud nine 🙂 🙂 

As I mentioned, I won three games. I accomplished this by playing more aggressively than I had played in the past. I used several planeswalker cards to trigger abilities which included destroying my opponent’s creatures and dealing damage to my opponent directly. My favorite cards I used were Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted and Massacre Girl. I also liked the Price of Betrayal and Ob Nixilis Cruelty.

Ultimately, I felt a boost of confidence in my ability to play Magic the Gathering. I had been feeling insecure for a long time about my skill in the game, but this assured me that I have potential to improve as a player. My next goal in a pre-release is to win a match which is the best two out of three against an opponent. Hopefully this post wasn’t too detailed, but I felt it was necessary to sum up my pre-release weekend. If you play Magic the Gathering, let me know what you pulled in this pre-release.