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Star Trek: DS9

I finally finished watching Star Trek: DS9.

I always liked the show, but it was in a bad time slot for me and I never got around to watching the later seasons. Now, thanks to Netflix, that isn’t a problem. I can see why it’s such a popular show, with Trek fans of every flavor.

Even with Voyager fans! Which I’m told really exist!

I kid! I kid!

Mostly.

Anyhow, there are plenty of good episodes to rave about, one of my favorites being Sisko’s dream of being a pulp science fiction writer, but I also found tons of small moments that really hit home. These little things would let an episode punch above its weight class and caught me off guard. My favorite was when Sisko explains to Kasidy Yates why he doesn’t like going to the Las Vegas nightclub holosuite that everyone else loves so much. They have a brief but powerful conversation about race, history, and fiction, then went on with the rest of the plot.

That ability to tackle an important, timely social issue in a strong way, and not even make it the focus of the episode? That’s art.

Then came the finale. Quick warning, there will be some spoilers below.

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*Insert Rimshot*

The last several seasons revolve around the brutal war involving the Dominion and its allies against the Federation and its allies. The war drags on, lives are lost, ships destroyed, and ideals are compromised among the most noble members of the cast. Everything finally comes down to the Dominion’s last stand over Cardassia, which results in the slaughter of millions of Cardassian civilians in reprisal for the Cardassian military changing sides. It’s a long, emotionally tiring story and the audience can feel the toll it takes on the characters and when they finally do stand victorious, it’s a subdued celebration at best.

But there is a second story running underneath the main one, a war going on between the cosmic beings called the Prophets and the imprisoned Pah Wraiths, who are looked at as gods and demons by the Bajoran people. The chosen one of the Prophets is Captain Sisko, revealed to be the child of a Founder who had merged with a human host. The champion of the Pah Wraiths is Gul Dukat, a war criminal, megalomaniac, and one of the most wicked villains in sci-fi. Dukat further twists the already corrupt Kai Winn, high priestess of the Bajoran people, convincing her to help release the Pah Wraiths.

During the alliance’s final victory celebration Captain Sisko receives a vision and immediately runs to face Dukat and Winn, sacrificing his corporal body to defeat them and lock the Pah Wraiths away for all time.

At first, I was a little let down by this ending. It felt rushed because so much had happened behind the scenes or in short asides. But the more I think about it? The more I love it. The more I realize what a brilliant ending it is.

We have a grand clash of galactic empires, including the shape-shifting Founders who are looked upon as gods. We have drama writ large as planets burn and millions die. Lives are changed, societies are shattered, the history of two galactic quadrants will never be the same.

And yet, on the cosmic scale, it means very little. In the end, the war between the Prophets and the Pah Wraiths was a far more important conflict. Had the Pah Wraiths been victorious then the entire galaxy would have burned, regardless of which side had won the war on the prime material plane.

It was a war waged on another level of existence, fought by three individuals who could barely perceive the battlefield or comprehend the stakes. And in the end there is no one left alive who knows what happened. At least, not alive in the conventional sense.

Those are some serious Golden Age science fiction ideas. That ranks up there with the concepts in Doc Smith’s Lensman books.

Well done DS9. Well done indeed.

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The Fleet is In

My new space armada has arrived!

I picked up a set of plastic space ship miniatures on a recent Amazon order. I’ve been looking for a decent and cheap source for ships to use in various games and this pack looked like just the ticket. You can find them here.

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These plastic ships come in a pack of 144 for under $7.00 and use a variety of molds. Their quality is fine, they won’t blow you away but they are not bad at all, and the quantity you get for the price is impressive.

Some of the molds look familiar to me, while others I’ve never seen. And then there is this one, that hit my nostalgia buttons very hard:

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Way back in the early 80’s I was a brand new gamer. I had just gotten my first copy of TSR’s Star Frontiers and falling in love with sci-fi gaming. I was getting into miniatures and had a few boxes of fantasy figures, but was having trouble finding sci-fi sets.

Then one day I was in the toy section of a department store and there on the shelf was a set of Traveller 15mm lead figures. The set had various space adventurers and this air car, complete with a removable figure. I snatched it up. (Lead gaming figures in a department store toy aisle, rare in the 80’s but impossible to imagine today).

I never found any more figures for Traveller, nor for that matter did I find the game itself. The only store in town with gaming stuff didn’t carry it and I did not yet really get ordering by mail, but I played with those figures for years.

I’m pleased with my purchase and finding this blast from the past is icing on the cake. I don’t have any specific plans for them, but sooner or later I’ll unleash them on my tabletop.

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My New Favorite GIF

I spent so many quarters on this game.

I regret nothing!

Man, the best was when you’d find a full sit-down cabinet. That was the stuff.

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Save vs Deletion

*grumble grumble* WordPress *grumble grumble* 1000 word post *grumble grumble* Hit the ‘save as draft’ button *grumble grumble* Ate my post…

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in Blog News, Uncategorized

 

Avengers Confidential – A Review

Back in January I posted my high hopes for the Marvel animated movie Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher. I opted to wait for my library to get it and I have finally had the chance to watch it. The result?

It’s… not the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

But it’s far from the best.

Animation: The artwork runs between “meh” and lousy. The male characters are okay but I’m not sure the artists have ever seen a human female. Everyone is stretched out in proportions, but this is worse for the women. For example, Maria Hill’s neck is as long as her head is tall. There are also so many impossible spine poses and gratuitous boob shots that I was checking to see if Greg Land was in the credits.

Plot: Serviceable. Though not without big holes. Such as the minor villain being surprised to see the Punisher at the secret lab. The same secret lab the villain had just told the Punisher about two scenes earlier.

Characters: There are really only three characters in this movie; Black Widow, Punisher, and 2nd In Command Villain. He has a name. I’ve already forgotten it. There are tons of other characters, like the Avengers and the master villain. They show up. They do a few things. Some of them even get lines. Captain Marvel does not.

I actually forgot that War Machine was there.

There are a bunch of other villains who make brief appearances and are never named. Fans who have read the comics will know who they are. Anyone who has only seen the Marvel movies will have no clue. Worse yet, they won’t have any reason to care.

Action: The law of Conservation of Ninjistu is in full force. The fights are dull. The army of mind controlled super soldiers love to stand around allowing the heroes to pose and give dialog. Which brings me to the next point.

Dialog: 10% of the dialog is awkward cliches. 90% is exposition. I’m not kidding, they stop entire fights to explain things. They seem to have forgotten that movies are a visual medium and the principle of “show, don’t tell” is more alien than a Skrull armada. I get that two of the principle characters are Russian, but Dostoyevsky would tell them to speed things up.

I actually startled my wife when I exclaimed, “my god, just shut up,” at the screen. That and, “please just shoot him,” became my mantra for the rest of the film, which is something you shouldn’t have to say in a movie featuring the Punisher.

Remember Tuco’s Rule:

You’d think this would be standard S.H.I.E.L.D. training.

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher is disappointing, especially when you consider how much momentum they have coming off their live action movies. It’s a poor showing for a movie that headlines one of their most prominent female heroes, one in which she gets top billing, and any opportunities for other characters to shine are crushed under the volumes of unnecessary dialog. It’s far from the worst animated superhero movie I’ve seen, but do yourself a favor and watch a few episodes of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes instead. It will be a better use of your time.

 

 

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After Action Report

And lo, it was indeed a good weekend for gaming.

We ended up with around 30 people at the house on Saturday, some coming from a good distance and one in particular making an insanely long trek to surprise me. Many games were played and good times were had by all.

I finally got the chance to play King of Tokyo, which has been on my “to play” list for quite some time. The game is simple and elegant, relying on a dice rolling mechanic to get victory points, heal, do damage to other monsters, and collect energy cubes for buying special powers. My friend’s youngest daughter taught us how to play and it was a lot of fun. It plays fast, is good for all ages, and it’s about giant monsters stomping around Tokyo. What’s not to like?

I hear the expansion set adds more variety to the kaiju, so I’m putting both the base game and the expansion on my list to acquire.

I was also in on one of several games of Pandemic. This is the first time I’ve played with a full five players and we did quite well, getting within a single player’s action of winning the game. Unfortunately we ran out of cards immediately before the cures could be created, meaning the game ended and the world became a wasteland of plague and death.

Sentinels Tactics did not reach the table after all! So many other games were going that the heroes of the Multiverse will have to wait for another day. Though it won’t be too long, I’m sure.

Car Wars was a big hit. The city-scape and Matchbox cars made a big impression on the group and we ran two autoduels of five Division 10 cars. I used 5th Edition rules, which play fast and are easy to teach. Almost none of the drivers had played any edition of Car Wars before and it took little time to get them up to speed and smashing cars. I refereed the first game and played in the second, where I died quickly and in a blaze of glory immediately after obliterating another car. Photos are on the way.

I saw several other games hitting tables too and late in the evening a Euker game broke out. Then at 8:00 we took a Dr. Who break to watch the season premier. I think I’m going to like the new Doctor quite a bit.

Our game Grisleigh End was also played, to good reception. On Sunday we did a demo of the game for a local steampunk group, running two tables with five players each. The game was again well received and we had good feedback. We have some more rules that will need to be adjusted and hopefully we’ll have a revised edition hammered out soon.

It was an excellent weekend. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday (slightly late) than having a house full of friends throwing dice and having a good time.

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The weekend was a crit success!

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Gaming, Uncategorized

 

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More Dwimmermount

Speaking of Kickstarter,

Two years after the target date I now have the final .PDF files from Dwimmermount on my hard drive and I’ve seen pictures of the hard copy proof on the backers’ updates.

I talked a fair bit about this famous OSR megadungeon and the infamous Kickstarter project not too long ago. It became a major cautionary tale for Kickstarter projects in general and the OSR in specific. I’m glad that I may finally be holding this product in my hands soon, both because I love megadungeons and because of the impact Grognardia has had on my gaming. It’s also an amazing testimonial that Alexander Macris and the folks at Autarch have been able to keep this project alive and get it into the hands of the backers. That’s something that cannot be said for many other OSR Kickstarter fiascoes and for this they have my thanks.

I’m holding off on true glee until I have a physical book in my hands and there’s always the lingering concern that it won’t hold up to my hopes. I’m too jaded at this point for more than guarded optimism.

But guarded optimism is more than I had a few months ago.

And in the meantime I have my new Sentinels Tactics set to play with!

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized