Calendar Man – Week of 4/15

calendar man 4-15 injustice shot 2

Hey, you know what’s not much fun? Running cable, that’s what. Thankfully my basement is still unfinished so that I could run network and phone cables to various rooms on the first floor. Plus, I got to learn how to terminate cat-5 cable which will help me out, well, never but I saved about five hundred bucks by doing this myself rather than hiring an electrician, so there’s that.

Oh, right, games. Another superhero fighting game comes out as does a “new” Shin Megami Tensei game for the 3DS. Seeing how I’m about a battle or two away from completing Fire Emblem, I may have to play that one. Then again, Etrian Odyssey IV is first in line, so it may get the nod. As for couch time, I’m in the middle of Gears of War: Judgement. People Can Fly have made some interesting choices with this game, including a nice selection of new weaponry and a scoring system that allows you to take on mission modifiers that makes things more difficult so that you can obtain stars more quickly. Stars unlock things I don’t normally care about, except for an additional campaign mission, but the modifiers are usually interesting enough to be worth it. Plus, People Can Fly know that colors other than brown and grey exist, so they use a more vibrant color palette. Still, in the end, it’s a Gears of War game, with all of the baggage that comes with it. I’m enjoying it, but I’ve certainly played this game before. It’s not a total waste though, as it makes me want to keep seeing work from People May Fly and I’m always down for having developers to keep an eye on.

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Dungeon Command: Blood of Gruumsh & Series Overview

dungeon command blood of gruumsh figures

Inconveniently Wizards of the Coast decided to release five sets for their modular miniatures game Dungeon Command, and I covered the first four in batches of two. So now we’re left with an odd one. However, the good people at WotC informed me this is the last release currently planned, so it seemed a good idea to cap the whole thing off with a series overview.

But first, the new set. It’s called Blood of Gruumsh which, for anyone passingly familiar with the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse in which the games belong, will signal orcs. For some reason the orcs in this box are a peculiar shade of blue-gray rather than the green which is universally assumed in other fantasy settings. But aside from that oddity they’re the best figures in any of the Dungeon Command sets: solid, detailed sculpts with pretty reasonable paint jobs.

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Cracked LCD- Clash of Cultures in Review

Clash-of-Cultures-game-in-playBack in 2010, Christian Marcussen essentially issued a stop work order to anybody developing a pirate-themed board game. Merchants and Marauders was and still is the best pirate game ever published, a stunningly complete expression of the concept that was dynamically open-world, filled with narrative adventure, and rich with both traditional economic game elements and exciting naval conflict. Late last year, Mr. Marcussen showed up on the “Civilization lite” scene and again pretty showed anyone working on such a game the door. Z-Man Games’ Clash of Cultures is a masterpiece of judicious design, careful abstraction, and economy- it is the new standard by which all games descended from the works of Frances Tresham and Sid Meier should be judged. There’s never been such a fighting fit, slim and ready-to-rock game of civ-building. Continue Reading…

Always On, Except for When It Ain’t

always on map

As you all here know, I recently moved. I used to live not very close to Atlanta, now I live even less close. There’s Inside-the-Perimeter, there’s Outside-the-Perimeter and then there’s me. The county I live in isn’t totally rural but at the same time, the guy who trained my dog used to work for the sheriff’s department in this county and the most excitement he ever had while on duty was lassoing a bull with an extension cord. If I want to get to Atlanta, I can be there in about 40 minutes, provided it’s not rush hour or a day with a Brave’s game, a Falcon’s game, a Tech game or a day with any of the various festivals and summer going-ons that happen in the city. I know it sounds like I’m out in the boonies, but trust me, it ain’t all like that. My buddy Hodge lives even further out than I do, like cow-country far out.

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Tuesday Mourning – The Downer Edition

calendar man 4-2 kinect star wars 2

Michigan lost. I’m in mourning. Except not really, because it was an amazing, wonderful season and that team did the school and its fans proud. Also, subs. Craziness. You know the drill. Mostly I’m just hungover. Off of three beers. I’m not sure how that happens. I’m a lightweight. Anyway. This week’s ramblings consist of a large bag of half empty as Disney realizes what we all already knew, EA demonstrates itself to be as tone deaf as ever, and an MS employee gets in trouble for being honest about the wrong things. But first, something wholly awesome.

X-COM versus XCOM. Adam Sessler of Rev3Games did a sit down with the co-creator of the original X-COM, Julian Gollop, and XCOM lead designer Jake Solomon. As a fan of both games, it’s just neat to see two of the principles behind them congratulate each other on being so awesome. And I’m not even being sarcastic. They are awesome for doing this:

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #168

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise /

Jumping the Shark meandered into the darkness last week, but we’re back today with the long awaited, ever-anticipated, supper jolly fun-time episode #168. Or something like that. Brandon was still lost in a broadbandless-vacuum of Internet poverty this week, but Bill and I were able to jump on Skype to talk up some Bioshock: Infinite. And we do. At great length. Whether you want us to or not.


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Calendar Man – Week of 4/8

We Had Subs It Was Crazy

The Gods of Retail have seen fit to welcome me back with a slate of pretty much nothing. Oh, ShootMania Storm comes out, as does Age of Empires II HD Edition and a new Halo 4 map pack, but those offerings make for a light week in my book.

I am pretty much completely moved in at this point, although my Xbox still is not hooked up to the internet yet. Oh well. Soon the world will see my progress in BioShock: Infinite and all will marvel at my many accomplishments. Why Irrational didn’t add a manual save is a mystery for the ages as well as incredibly annoying.  It’s an incredibly annoying mystery! As for the game, yeah, it’s a BioShock game, which is cool, I guess, if that’s what you wanted. I’m down with the story, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve seen enough weird scripting things and unfortunate tonal shifts to make me wish it wasn’t a shooter. Hey, nothing against the fine folks at Irrational but when your game reminds me of the horrific tonal shifts in Gears of War 2, y’all got some problems.

Fire Emblem continues to be awesome. I married Anna. C. R. E. A. M.

I also had subs this week. It was crazy.

X-Wing Wave 2 Review

X-Wing big ships - firespray and falcon

If an evil genius were to invent a machine to suck money directly from the bank accounts of gamers, it’d look a lot like the X-Wing miniatures game. If he were to go back and tinker with it, seeking to make to terrifyingly irresistible, and add the power to suck in non-gaming Star Wars fans too, it’d look a lot like the wave 2 miniature releases.

There are four new ships to add to your collections. The Empire gets Boba Fett’s Slave-1 and the four-cannon TIE interceptor while the Rebels resist them with the A-Wing fighter and, of course, the one we’ve all been waiting for: the Millenium Falcon.

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Cracked LCD- Gunship: First Strike in Review


What I like best about Gunship: First Strike, a new crowdfunded spaceship combat title from Escape Pod Games, is how defiantly old school it is. I don’t mean “modern hybrid design with some old school trappings”. I mean that this is a game that you could send back in time and publish in a late era Avalon Hill game box circa 1990 or so and nobody would notice anything amiss. Back then , Gunship would have fit right in with games like  Gammarauders, Attack Sub, Naval Battles, or Road Kill. In 2013, it’s anomaly in a sea of circuitous, repetitive, cannibalistic, or syncretic design. That means it’s really not quite like anything else on the market today, for better or worse.  It is a singular game designed with a great deal of passion and commitment on the part of designer Steve Wood, and its homespun charm and out-of-time idiosyncracy count for a lot- if you’re receptive to those qualities. Continue Reading…

Gimme Danger

tomb raider combat

The recent Tomb Raider reboot, mistakenly cited by Tom Chick as one of the best games of this generation, is bullshit AAA games-making at its worst for a number of reasons. But the moment where I decided to check out  of it was when I was tasked with guiding Lara Croft across a girder spanning a chasm. The camera tilted forward to show me the danger of the fall. Lara’s arms went out to balance, and I assumed that I would need to carefully nudge the stick, moving her slowly so as to maintain footing and overcome the perilous obstacle. I stopped halfway and I watched her, fidgeting and nervous, feeling that strange fear of ersatz death that video games can sometimes create for us. And then I just started jamming on the stick to see what would happen. Continue Reading…