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Card Hunter First Impressions

card hunter

I don’t like grinding. Okay, so when it’s combined with epic detail and rich narrative, like in Skyrim, or with ball-breaking skill, like in Dark Souls, it can add a fantastically fun and addictive element to a game. What I hate are games based around grinding for it’s own sake, the endless repetition of kill monster, upgrade gear, kill tougher monster in the service of nothing more than pressing psychological buttons. The Diablo series is probably the worst offender, but so are endless cheap and free-to-play role playing games.

Card Hunter falls into that category. A free-to-play browser based flash game, with inevitable in-app purchases, it challenges you to assemble a team of three characters from the classic warrior, wizard, cleric archetype and send them into various brief encounters with enemies in search of loot. So I should hate it. I want to hate it. But I can’t. In fact it’s one of the most horribly addictive games I’ve played in ages.

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Calendar Man – Week of 9/9

puppetteer shot 1

A few interesting releases this week before the GTA V juggernaut comes crashing on gaming’s shores, invalidating any need for a shiny, new console. First up is Puppeteer on the PS3. I’m looking forward to playing this one, if only for the visual style. Platformers aren’t my thing, but if something looks interesting enough, I’ll try it. Also coming out on Sony hardware this week is Killzone Mercenary. I have a theory that the Killzone games are not meant to be the action heavy shooters they are, but a grand farce centering on the most incompetent military squad in the galaxy. I don’t see Mercenary topping the genocidal incompetence of Killzone 3, but I’m all in regardless. Rounding out the console releases are Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix for the PS3 and NHL ’14 (360, PS3).

On the PC side, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs releases this week. Our own Matt Thrower reviewed it, so by all means, read his scintillating words. For eighty bucks you can get every Elder Scrolls game ever made in the The Elder Scrolls Anthology. If military sandboxes are your thing, ARMA 3 has got you covered. Cyanide drops Aarklash Legacy, and Robot Loves Kitty releases Legend of Dungeon. Looks like that last one is already out, so have at it.

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Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Review


The first Amnesia title, The Dark Descent, was acclaimed by many as the scariest game ever made, an assessment with which I concur. Its success was down to getting simple things right: atmosphere, cunning set-pieces and depriving the player of the ability to fight back, making every monster encounter a wellspring of terror.

That immediately creates two problems for this sequel. First, the bar is already set incredibly high: to outdo the most horrifying game ever created. Second, to make it interesting and new without adding too much and spoiling the stripped down formula responsible for the original’s success.

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Calendar Man – Week of 9/2

diablo 3 ps3 shot one

It’s a short work week here in the states, something I used to my advantage to sit on my butt and play Saints Row IV and Diablo III. Not a bad way to spend Labor Day.

Speaking of Diablo III (PS3, 360), it’s out on consoles this week. Tom and I are playing it over at Quarter To Three so take a gander to find out what happens when a grizzled PC veteran and a plucky, young console upstart fight the demons of Hell together. If demons aren’t your thing, Total War: Rome 2 brings all of the fun that only men in skirts and sandals can bring. If platforming is your thing, Rayman Legends (Wii U, Vita, PS3, 360) drops today. I liked Origins enough, but the platforming got too complicated for me so I ended up not finishing it, as is my way with all platformers. If being scared is your thing, Outlast may have you covered. I say may because horror is like comedy. What scares one person does nothing for another. Finally, A Tale of Two Brothers hits PC and PS3, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate hits PS3 and 360 and Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse hits PC, PS3 and 360.

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Calendar Man – Week of 8/26

lost planet 3 shot 1

If it’s the last week of August, it must be time for Madden (360, PS3). Actually, I have no idea when Madden usually releases, I just needed something to open this week’s new releases. Having gave up on Madden years ago, this is a non-event for me but it means that football season is soon upon us so that makes me happy. In other “sequels I don’t have an interest in” news, Final Fantasy XIV Online (PC, PS3) releases as does Lost Planet 3 (360, PS3). Rounding out the releases we have SUDA51′s latest in Killer is Dead (PS3, 360), a new TMNT game for the 360 and Painkiller: Hell and Damnation for the 360. There’s also Shelter, for those looking to spend less time killing and more time saving badgers. Yeah, badgers.

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Gencon ’13: I Am Tired


This year was my first year attending Gencon. Last year I was there for a day, wandered around the Convention Center, realized it was way too crowded, bought a few games and then went to Todd’s place to actually enjoy myself.

The homeless guy you see in the above image is me on day four of the show. I arrived at Gencon cleanly shaven and ready to sell some games. By Sunday I was ragged, unkempt, tired and nearly voiceless. I also resorted to sitting down while I demoed games. The pic makes me look like Tyrion Lannister’s cousin, but I am in fact not three feet tall.

Tomorrow demoed extremely well at the show and had I been able to sell it to the masses rather than be available to specific Kickstarter backers, it would have sold a slew of copies. As is, we took a lot of pre-orders as the game nears its late September release date. I’m excited about its launch.

The New Science was also a hit at the show as I nearly sold out of my stock. We shared space with Academy Games and APE Games and I honestly felt like we had one of the more interesting booths at . With Academy’s lineup of 1812, 1775 and the new Freedom: The Underground Railroad, APE selling Order of the Stick merchandise like it was free (it was not) and our booth selling a game about 17th century scientists and a game about massive global depopulation — we had a lot of angles covered that other booths didn’t. So I was really happy with how it went.

I was running the booth solo most of the time, although my buddy Dave Fitzgerald was there to help a little on a couple of days which was a huge relief. Still, running four tables at Gencon by yourself – I do not advise that.

Here are some show high and lowlights:

*Fantasy Flight Games’ Damon Stone telling me how slick Tomorrow looked when displayed and offering to trade me a copy of it for the Cthulhu card game with one of the expansions after it ships. “Done.”
*Demoing The New Science to a half naked woman in a Cleopatra costume and getting into a discussion about the life and times of Marie Curie.
*Demoing Tomorrow to a grown man in a Riddler costume (complete with question mark cane) and carrying on an adult conversation about population growth. Surreal, indeed.
*Meeting Richard Borg at a bar and telling him how much I loved the Commands & Colors: Ancients series.
*Inadvertently getting in the way of people getting their picture taken with a dude dressed up in a Jawa costume. People seemed miffed at me as I was walking to my booth. I did not care.

Overall, a good time. A busy, busy show and I played absolutely zero games in my four days.

Oh, and I had sushi with Todd and his fiancé. That was ok, too.

Calendar Man – Week of 8/19

saints row iv shot 1

Lots of games come out this week, but only one of them is Saints Row IV (360, PS3, PC), so I only care about one of them.

That’s not entirely true as I also care about Splinter Cell: Blacklist (360, PS3, Wii U, PC). Todd thinks it’s torture porn but Todd has never waited in the shadows for 15 minutes, patiently learning guard patterns so that you can make it through the next area without leaving a trace. I have done that. I have also spent not nearly enough time learning patterns and instead shot up the place. I have not forgotten the airfield. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (360, PS3, PC) also comes out this week but honestly, I don’t know enough about this game to know if I’ll play it. Does anyone?

One game I know I won’t be picking up is Disney Infinity (360, PS3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS). There’s only room for one game/toy franchise in this house and Skylanders safely occupies that spot. Plus, I just don’t care about Disney that much. In other release news, Sir, You Are Being Hunted brings robotic hunters and bleak countrysides to your PC. Dive Kick brings both Dive and Kick to your PC, PS3 and Vita and Telltale brings their excellent take on The Walking Dead to the Vita.

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Augustus Review


You might pick up a game clearly emblazoned with the legend “Rise of Augustus” expecting a wargame about the final wars of the Roman Republic. But you’ll have been cruelly fooled: the game is actually just called Augustus and is a light family Eurogame that casts you as assistants to the first emperor, controlling provinces and senators through the distribution of resources. Quite how the “Rise of” got tacked on to the English edition is beyond me.

You might also expect a game that comes in a box the size of the original Arkham Horror to be packed with a similar amount of heady cardboard goodness. And in a sense, there is, in the form of a truly colossal box insert to stop the few components rattling around. That’s a little unfair since the game is hardly expensive, but it’s annoying to have something taking up so much shelf space unnecessarily, just to store two sheets of tokens, a deck of cards, a few wooden meeples and a score pad. And it has to be said that the stylised art is wonderful.

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Calendar Man – Week of 8/12

planet hulk

There is an unnaturally high number of releases this week for the middle of August. Granted, it’s not like next week when Saints Row IV and Games I Don’t Care About Because They Aren’t Saints Row IV come out, but still. Mario and Luigi team up yet again to do whatever it is they do in Mario and Luigi: Dream Team. I played Superstar Saga and liked it well enough but not enough to play another one unless it was amazing, something this game isn’t if reviews are to be believed.  In other sequel news, Payday 2 (360, PC, PS3) releases this week. I’d love to play this, but matching up my schedule and the schedule of three other people I can trust to not go crazy and kill all the hostages would be difficult to say the least.

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Calendar Man – Week of 8/5

Dragon's Crown shot 1

Unlike the movie industry, which is ramping down their releases and dumping cast-off products into the month of August, Elysium being a notable exception, gaming is taking the opposite route as we march steadily towards the bountiful harvest of late-August/fall games. This week gives hack and slashers something to do in Dragon’s Crown (PS3 / Vita), provided you can get past character designs that make Rob Liefeld look like Leonardo Da Vinci. Pikmin 3 drops this week, an oasis of gaming in a desert of non-releases for the Wii U while the JRPG train continues on the PS3 with Tales of Xillia.

On the PC side, Divinity: Dragon Commander has dragons and jetpacks, a combination which should be airbrushed on vans the world over. Speaking of dragons, The Sims gets the Dragon Valley expansion, allowing you to release your inner Khaleesi. Guacamelee! also hits the PC if you’re into that sort of thing. Finally, Starbreeze, they of Payday, Escape from Butcher Bay and the original Darkness game release their new game, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. You may remember this game from Microsoft’s E3 presentation in which they said they still totally care about the 360. Like, totally.

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