Friday, December 21, 2012

Game Review: Acquire

Well I finally gave Acquire a whirl.  I didn't really like it.  I don't really think I understood it while playing and after some thought I still don't. 

Basically the game is about investing in hotel chains and working at ways for them to merge.  The method of tracking hotel size is a scrabble like board. Connected chits create the hotel size.   But much of the play come from merging hotels in which special rules com into play.

While playing I made the comment that there is no end game.  I am wrong in saying that there is an endgame but it is very similar to the main game.  Basically while playing and buying up the stock for a chain you don't want to be adding to the chain size as it increases the cost.  You may want to increase the size just a bit before merging but most often others will do this for you.  At the end of the game this changes as you are trying to increase the size of the mega hotels you control to get a higher pay out in the end. 

One of my problems with the game is hotels themselves function like closed systems once they reach a size that they can not be over taken.  Basically they are money black holes until the end of the game.  I guess this is meant to simulate fluidity.  I was not a fan of this aspect, I sort of wish I could sell off my shares mid game sort of having a trade and hold aspect to the game.

My second problem with the game is the tiles themselves.  It seems like you don't have a high degree of control of what happens with the board.  We were playing 6 players so it may be stretching the game; but the board would change dramatically between rounds.

Finally the financial theme of the game was lost on me.  The end of the game payout seemed almost random I had split control of one company and second in another.  I was given money for it but I really don't understand.  I know I was not playing well and had little idea what I was doing.  I came out sort of in the middle of the pack moneywise.  I don't think I should have, I should have sucked, why didn't I suck.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sci Fi story part 3

Naeliim's first indication of the settlement were the subtle markings of his people in the corridors and halls.  Well hidden and encoded the spoke volumes to those who knew how to read them.  Here Naeliim grew to better understand his hosts; and began to regret the carter even more.  The "r" was a welcome site but the block "T" for work was not.  The dotted box for brutality and worst of all poverty.  "Whoever said this was the place was a fool..."

The shot whistled past his head and directed his attention back to its source."Hold Friend!" came the greetings.  Naeliim didn't offer a reply to his new "friend", but held still and silent.  This waiting was a custom of the navigators, no gesture to raise alarm and no word until told to speak. " Ah no, this is the one are waiting on I think." came a second voice rigid and almost stiltedly directing the first."He's worn around the edges." "Yes all of them are, but this one is expected; let him in!" directed the second. 

Naeliim heard the tension on the cord release, then the man reveled himself from behind a barricade.  He was really a boy to Naeliim's eyes.  He had the first kiss of a beard about his chin and certainly wasn't full grown.  The traveler eyed the boys slingshot and laughed a bit.  If pushed the weapon would prove little use against determined arm's. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

One Lame thing about Vampire the Eternal Struggle

Ok there are cards like this.  For me half naked dude isn't the most appealing artwork.  But the real problem is that little 3 above the text section of the card.  I guess that is supposed to mean card group.  The card group being some sort of artificial method of White Wolf getting players to purchase more cards.  I guess you can only use cards of two consecutive numbers in your crypt.

This is lame and obvious not something that should really be taken into account if you are playing the game now.  They are not making new cards to buy more of and buying stuff from only a couple of  sets limits a game that already only has a fixed set of cards.  Limiting the combinations really makes a past end of life game, less exciting than it already is.

The other point I don't like about the is you have the vampires showing up once and then again several sets later.  That really doesn't seem to work well if you are trying to do one of the smaller groups of vampires.  Say like the Samedi who have several sets between them.  Are you really going to not use cards if you are trying to play a particular clan.  Even when the game was going strong that sounds stupid.  I have seen cards as high as 5 there could be higher sort of an annoying little aspect of the game I have decided to ignore.  Especially considering how hard it is to get a hold of this stuff for a cheap price.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Movie Review: The hobbit an unexpected journey

So being a nerd I saw the midnight screening of The Hobbit last night.  I wanted to give a review since it was nice and early.  I loved the movie!  I thought it was great and a real tribute to the fans.  Two thumbs up for me. 

I have heard it has not got the best reviews from folks though.  Tim Seca on Screen Scene was not very kind to the picture for example. I don't want to sound like a fan boy or an apologist but I don't get it.  The action is what we have come to expect from the Lord of the Rings series.  The story is a bit lighter in tone, but this seems right as The Hobbit was a kids book and LOTR an adult series or novels.  Yes the movie has been stretched but this in general has been to include some sections of LOTR that clarified what was happening in the hobbit.  The idea that Gandalf is motivated to remove the threat of Smaug aligning with Sauron in the future make his actions more understandable.

Some of the things I really enjoyed were the references to the book material and even outside material.  The wizards are mentioned in passing as Ishtari and you hear a reference to spawn of ungoliant.  It felt like there were really nods to the Silmarillion.  Oddly enough there were actually a couple of nods to War Hammer as well.  One of the Dwarves in a battle flash back sports a Mohawk which can only be a reference to the Dwarves of Games Workshop.  Also one of the trolls seems inspired by the troll kingdoms butcher.  Even the dish washing song seems to use the melody of the old Rakin Bass cartoon.  They appear to have gone out of their way make fans happy.

Some of the weird was the stuff with Azog.  This is a spoiler so stop if you care.  Azog is from an appendix of an appendix of the lord of the ring.   He was killed by Dain in the book.  He has been reworked to be hunting the Dwarves.  It sort of works to give a dramatic arch and provides some logic to the events of the story. I don't know if I am fond of this change it works and doesn't.  This leads a bit to what I think is going to be most peoples problem with the movie.  In the lord of the rings things are happening and the characters more or less decide to get involved.  There is a pretty logical flow for everything.  The company could have been on their way to Gondor from Rohan.  They really didn't have to say for that fight but in doing so they assured their support in the war.  Here events often happen, this is the nature of The Hobbit being a kids book.  There is a suspension of belief that is granted in the story.  I don't know if the movie benefits from this, I would have worked to explain things more.   The goblins in the mountains could have been said to specifically been trying to trap the Dwarves because of Azogs price.  Also the mountain giants bit didn't work for me.

What do you get in the movie?  Well it starts just before the Lord of the Rings actually.  Most is taken to be a retelling of the events.  It starts where the book starts and goes until the eagles have saved the company.  This sort of worked for me.  It's not the dramatic ending of The Fellowship but it gives a since of much more to go and relative completion of what has happened.  Alas I screwed up my tickets and saw it in 25 frames per sec without 3d.  I need to see it in 48 frames.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Toy Review: Playmobil Advent Calendar

This was not a toy I had but rather a new toy my daughter is receiving for this year.  I say receiving because she is getting a little bit with each day.  This has been a real source of excitement for her.  Every day she asks to open a new box and gets a little more of the play set.  She loves it when its a figure. This is a really great way to get her excited about the holiday and she get something each day, so she isn't going crazy about presents. 

I really wish I had this as a child as its cool.  I would probably have liked vikings or knight but this is great for any kid as its Santa's office at the north pole.  There is hold office shipping room you can set up with a cool cardboard back structure.  She has added a few ornaments to the set and plays with it each morning.  I am really happy to watch her.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sci Fi story part 2

Naeliim had travelled nearly two days in detour of the yawning cargo hold after discovering the stairway had fallen.  It was not constructed stair as is widely know, but a ziggurat of sorts, climbing from the hold to the elevated platform of the crane works several decks higher.  This served as highway for the many wanders and guilds of whom made up Naeliim's clan.  It would be perhaps half a generation to rebuild the mighty thoroughfare.  But Naeliim was not only worried with navigating the many decks to his destination. 

Small kingdoms arrose everywhere in these stern ward expanses of the ship.  The well established were known to the wanderer, but small villages and barony's often came or fell.  These could be blundered upon by the unwary, and would often demand some sort of toll.  The worst of these communities were xenophobic and hostile, fearing disease or under insular control.  Naeliim had crossed several communal living villages that demanded he provide work to earn passage.  He did his best to avoid contact unless the community was one he knew well.

The navigator would reach the encampment some days later to bind himself to a charter of passage.  The village offered life long passage and quartering. For his part Naeliim would guide two journeymen to the high guild for entry in the roosters.  It was a common  charter for the guides though seldom was the journey so far reaching.  Full passage and quarter was a more than fair bargain, only Naeliim's seniority allowed him to secure the charter.  Other wanderers would gladly have accepted.  But as the many troubles mounted Naeliim began to wonder if he was being short changed. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Getting back into Jyhand / Vampire the Eternal Struggle

I have been trying to get back into Jyhad / Vampire the Eternal struggle.  I figured it would work for my gaming group while we do games other than RPG's.  Its a very strong multi player card game and I think will work out well for us. 

There problem is man these cards are hard to get.  I was thinking Ok, the game is discontinued I can get the cards for super cheap and people will practically want me to take them off their hands.  This is not really the case.  It seems there are lots of folks still looking for the cards and they are often selling for near retail value online.  This has been a bit of a shock for me.  I certainly am not going to invest huge sums of money in this project and I figure you may feel the same way.  So I am going to try to help you do things econo.

There are some things to know when you start out.  First off Vampire the Eternal Struggle and Jyhad are the same game.  They have just been rebranded which means the card backs look different.  At first I was upset by this, thinking I would only want Vampire VTES cards.  Your best deals are going to be on Jyhad cards so turning your nose up at cards is not the thing to do if you are on a budget.  You can always get backed sleeves and everything is fine.  One thing to note is the cards often have a different look in VTES as their were many updates.  You will notice many early Vtes cards look like the Jyhad versions and the later ones look very different.  They play the same.

Keeping all that in mind the first place I think you should look is ebay.  There are many auctions often for starters priced more than their retail price.  I am going to urge you to look at pkp310 who sells his own pre constructed beginners decks.  He will sent you a deck for each of the basic clans all are ready to play.  This gives you a nice leg up as the decks can get you started right away.  They play in the general them of each of the clans so will give you an idea of what you like.

Next I would say you have two options.  You can pick a clan you like and ebay a few starter decks and look for constructed starters online.  The other option is to start hunting through your local game, comic and video game shops.  For eBay you are going to find there are usually a couple of constructed decks for every clan.  There was a release of the clan decks around third edition.  You can also go with the Antribu versions of your caln as well. The vampires included will be sabbat but the disciplines will be mostly the same.  So they will function similar with a few flavor differences for Sabbat vs Camarilla.

If you are picking through you local game and comic books shops, good luck.  I have been able to score one great deal and nothing else.  It was a box of bloodlines for 9 dollars.   Other than that the shops have been barren.  I would suggest you call around and may be prepared to travel a bit.  I live in the silicon valley and checked with our three main game stores and have been checking comic book shops when i can find them.  I am also planning to check out a couple of game stops that I remember selling cards but those are far down the list.  I will only hit them when i am in the area.

The last idea is hitting up friends who once played Jyhad or Vtes and the game cons I am thinking that is a bit of a hail mary as the cons will probably have people who value the cards and will try to sell them for their highest value. Still you can do ok on ebay if you looking for straight Jyhad cards so you may need go that direction if you are planning on constructing lots of decks.

If you are planning on going for some of the odd clans you should keep in mind their seem to have been two sets that focus each of the groups.  So you have these odd pairs like Final Nights and Ancient hears both giving focus to Assamites and Followers of Set.  The Sabbat and Black hand sets give support to Antribu versions of the standard clans.  The bloodlines vampires get support in Kindred's most wanted and Heirs to the blood.  Lords of Night gives you more of the Giovanni and Ravnos from Final nights.  Legacy of blood and Ebony kingdom pair to flesh out the Liabon.   Finally there is Blood Shadowed Court which is a reprint product that gives you a bunch of vampires.  As I understand it you only need one starters box to have the full set of 100 reprinted vampires.  If you are new, like me, this sounds good as it gives you a nice boost on your options.

Well that's it for now hopefully playing will go well and hopefully I can track down a couple of deals.  Good luck on your hunting.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Toy Review: Sears Giant Crane

This was a great toy my parent got me at Christmas time.  This is a bit of an updated version of the toy that I had.  My version had a hock not the claw.  Also it had levers to control it not the weird turn knob thing that this version has going on.  You we would assemble the toy just the same.  You were to use a bunch of batteries in the back end of the top of the crane to counter balance which made this move slower than it needed too.  But you also needed it or it could knock itself over when trying to pick up heavier items. I sort of remember a little basket on mine, I don't see that here.  I will have to actually take some pictures of the one at my parents house.   I can tell this "newer" version makes some improvements to the crane drive mechanism that is housed in the tower piece.  A really great toy for play with hot wheels i think it's a good addition to any boys room

Friday, December 07, 2012


bury me until light passes
and I'll be grateful. 
Not to feel any but cold
nothing to warm the morning. 

Moon your hung too low
small on the horizon.
Where are the fallen wings
drowned out to sea.

Gutter my treasured
ancestral things washed away.
leaving a scintillating ache
of grief chemical and sticky

Darken environs close fast
this missing straw token

Toy Review: Generic Action Man

Action Man
This was another of the pic n save purchases we. This figure looks far cooler than the one i had though the equipment was the same.  The figure didn't have the fuzzy hair or articulation and seemed to be knock offs.  They were packaged in square see through boxes with black stoppered ends.  There was no documentation I called the German G.I. Joe for most of my life after finding a couple of other products in the same section that had German writing.   But they appear through research to have been cheap versions of the Action Man line.

The equipment was the same thought, especially on this guy.  Some of my other figures were a bit odd.  The American Vietnam era soldier seems to been a combination of action figure parts.  I see several bits that look familiar from the aussie jungle fighter that were pulled for the American.  My brit WWII radio man seems to have been actually several bits from the French Freedom fighter on a basic crap figure.  I think my marine was the only figure that doesn't seem to be made up of components stolen from the Action Man line.  I have no idea if this was something the actual company did on the cheap in America or full on counterfeits sold through my local close out store. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Sci fi story part 1

There was no grand hall only a simple work room. There were no flowing robed masters welcoming the many apprentices to the full membership of the guild.  This was but a couple of mentors, their handful of students and a smattering of proud relations. The hardships the settlement made these graduation celebrations ever fewer, and today was unusual. As with much taught in the craft school the words were informal but important. "You are now Journeymen, not students but colleagues." Expressed simply, "You are on your own.  Make yourselves useful."

Here the two turned to themselves with poorly contained joy and laughed.  Years of work finished and here marked as journeymen.  It was something none could take away a final seal of purity of knowledge that would serve to mark them as craftsmen in all the far flung settlements.  There was but on last rite, the entry of their names into the roll of the great guild hall. 

A journey across many miles and several decks of vertical space not without difficulty.  Routes were always shifting, some kingdoms were unwelcoming others unsettled. As craftsmen the many faulty systems of the ship would not be a hindrance but still a walker would be needed.  Perhaps sworn swords or other retainers would also be required.  The two would worry about these concerns in some hours. Now was time for congratulations and celebration.  "To Park and Klein!" was the first of many toast proposed.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

De Profundis: A pawn against the board

My Fellow Gentlemen

Mathers again came calling upon me.  This conference an inquiry of the eve detailed in my last missive.  The man hung on fine details of the night that seemed minute and of little import to my memory.  Often requiring I speak again and again the phrases and pronunciation Crowley invoked through the dinners many toasts.  It was all esoteric and banal to an untrained minds such as my own; but to Mathers it was of fixing interest.

This magus as he called himself spoke little of the meanings he took, but did reveal some of Crowleys intention.  The feeling of profane interest welling in Crowley was of a craftsman finding a rare and prized material.  Myself being that material as the chaste seldom are attracted to his theosophy.  Mathers revealed something dark was intend for me though what he was unclear.

It was of further distress that I would play into these schemes, or was Mathers Intention.  I was a pawn to be played and could only hope to drive across the board.  It was unsettling to know nothing of the board nor the moves of the other pieces.  Made all the further unnerving to feeling my player didn't have interests in mind.  A pawn against the board.

Yours Very Truly
J.L. Reichl

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

End damned and next be better

There is something of the grave
all about these nights. 
Something that creeps in with
the long moments of afternoon. 

Its as if it fills the air
where the sun stretches across the land. 
Something rimed in the cold
that drives everything in the direction of despair. 

As if clinging even in joy
is a gnawing nagging worry.
Silver linings palled
By darkening clouds.

that this will be the last 
Or won't capture all it needs

Monday, December 03, 2012

Strange Milestones

Some strange milestones were crossed recently and I am a bit freaked out.  I have been with my wife for twenty years now. Which is more time than with her than I have not, that seems strange.  It doesn't seem that long ago that we were dating and having a carefree life, where has the time gone?  I feel mostly the same.  Sure I am morbidly obese now and am on replacement parts but it just doesn't seem so long ago when everything was very new.  What sparked this was seeing an ornament that was part of our first real date, where we went to a Christmas party.

The other milestone was my tour of my daughters future Kindergarten class and school.  Its a real school not like the daycare pre K school she is at now.  It looks pretty much like my old elementary school, Laneview. It has a multipurpose room with kitchen, its just like I remember.  I guess the action day people purchases a school from the school board or something because its a legit school in a residential area. 

This is unnerving for someone who feels younger than the face in the mirror tells him he is.  I just don't feel like I got this old but I guess I have.