Tag: Sci-Fi

GenCon Recap – The Con Games

GenCon Recap – The Con Games

Besides being a spot where a lot of new games are released, therea re also ticketed events that you can go to as well. In these, you can play board games, demo out new games, or play RPG’s. There’s never a shortage of things to […]

Themes in Board Games

Themes in Board Games

I’ve talked a lot about theme in board game before and how I like board games with a good theme on them. Instead of talking so much about why I like themes in board games, I think I’ve covered that decently well, I’m going to […]

TableTopTakes: Clank! In! Space!

TableTopTakes: Clank! In! Space!

Are you excited for this game review, because the game sure is. Yes, Clank! In! Space! has all those exclamation points in the title and it’s really excited to have a TableTopTake written about it! So let’s get jazzed, people, and jump into this game review.

Image Source: Renegade Games

Clank! In! Space! is a deck building game at it’s core, but beyond that, you’re doing something more with your cards to just purchase more cards. In the game, you are on Lord Eradikus’s ship as a bunch of different adventurers. You’re trying to break through his security, steal some artifacts that he’s stolen and get back out without bungling around too much and making too much noise. This is easier said than done, because some of the good cards that would allow you to fight more or move more are going to give you clank as you make noise. If you’re too noisy, there’s a better chance of Lord Eradikus’s henchmen finding you and punching in the face.

That seems like a bit more going on in Clank! In! Space! than in Dominion. The various resources on your cards all make sense as you are getting money/recruitment power, movement, and fighting abilities versus the more generic money, action, and buy. Your movement, the equivalent to Dominion’s actions, actually moves you around a board, and you have to plot out how you’re going to go and how you might be able to get through the space ship quickly and gain access to the treasure vault on one end of the ship. The buying of cards does still have the thematic disconnect, though, if the argument is that Lord Eradikus has a giant ship, and why wouldn’t he, these are people working or prisoners on his ship, or could even be people you’ve hired to show up to help you, some of them are just showing up later rather than at the beginning. Definitely not the strongest ties for the people you recruit, but the items make a lot of sense to be there, lying around the ship. And the bad guys are definitely out there patrolling the corridors.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

While the deck building part is the biggest part of the game, it isn’t the most fun. The most fun part of the game is the Clank! (Just feels like it should always have the exclamation point). The noise that you make is denoted by cubes, and when a card with Lord Eradikus shows up in the adventure area, all the cubes you’ve added to a pool get put into a bag, and depending on how mad Lord Eradikus, a number of cubes are drawn from the deck. If you’re color of cube is drawn, you take damage, and if your damage track ever fills up, you are knocked out. So you’re trying to make as little noise as possible, but it’s still possible, even if you are the noisiest one on the ship that your color won’t be drawn. And there are things that make Lord Eradikus madder and drawing more cubes. Once you’ve breached his security system, he gets madder, once you steal and artifact, he get’s madder, and if you find one of his personal diaries, he gets madder.

So, in case you haven’t picked up on it, another good part of Clank! In! Space! is how seriously it takes itself. There are nods on basically every card to some Sci-Fi TV Show, Movie, or Book, or if not that, some pun being made.  Star Wars, Star Trek, Tron, Chronicles of Riddick, Enders Game, The Fifth Element, and more show up and they are really well done. I didn’t get a chance to read all of the extra text on cards that I got in the game or that were out there, but each of them has a little line at the bottom so if it wasn’t already obvious what Sci-Fi thing it was spoofing, it would be clear. Even the adventurers you are playing, their meeples (wooden figures) are nods to sci-fi characters. That keeps this game from becoming too intense while playing it, but you still do feel the pressure of trying to gather points on the ship and trying to get off as quickly as possible so that you can score the most points and hopefully stop the other players from escaping the ship.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

 

This is a well designed game and has a few differences, so I’ve heard, from the original game of Clank! which was a dungeon delve where you were trying to avoid a black dragon who was after you. To me, the theme of space and sci-fi makes more sense than a dungeon delve would as there are more things to Clank! about with on a space ship. And once you’ve played a few hands of this game, you start to know what you are doing right away, the biggest question is always what you’re going to buy or recruit and if you can fight someone. But everything is limited by the cards so that makes it simple. Even the card combo powers, where having a tech guy might cause another tech character to be better, those are easy to spot. The fact that there are only three different factions of cards means that you don’t have to think about the combos as much.

Finally, one fun thing about the game is the board. The board is set-up so that it slightly looks like a spaceship, but that’s not really the fun part of the board. The fun part of the board is the fact that three parts of it are modular. That means you can adjust the configuration of the board, and not just that, t hose three parts are double sided, so you have six potential modules to throw in the board. That means that you can change up the board from game to game, even by just moving the same modules into different positions. We played with the recommended starting game, but by just moving things around slightly, the game could be quite different.

Clank! In! Space! is a very fun game. It does run a little bit longer than some games. With three players, I think it took us an hour and a half, however, that was with us learning the game as well. I think once everyone knows the game, it would probably take an hour or less because the hands play out quickly once you know what cards you have. I do wonder a little bit about the long term replayability of the game, but there’s an expansion out there that I’ve heard adds some more interesting parts to the game, and with the modular board and a large deck of cards to recruit and fighting bad guys from, I think it’ll stick around for a while. I also like it because it has more of a game to it than Dominion does so while the hands play themselves, it’s way less auto-pilot than Dominion is.

Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: B+


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Gaming Baby

Gaming Baby

Now, as I normally do, a disclaimer/clarifying my title since I just write catchy titles, or something like that. This isn’t only going to be about gaming with a baby around, it’s going to cover a number of nerdy things. So, for those of you […]

Have All Stories Been Told? – Article on a Concept

Have All Stories Been Told? – Article on a Concept

There’s an adage that all stories have been told. That everything written, every new story, is derived from something that has come before it. Your story is the heroes journey, it’s about death, love, taxes, or some other constant in the world, and all the […]

Revisit Rewatch Review: Cloverfield Paradox

Revisit Rewatch Review: Cloverfield Paradox

The final of the current Cloverfield movies. Like Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield LaneCloverfield Paradox goes in a completely different direction than the previous films.

Image Source: IMDb

This is, what I would call, the early 2000’s TV Sci-Fi version of Cloverfield. The plot tries to be pretty dramatic with the earth in a power crisis. They need to go into space to test out a machine that would be capable of solving earths power crisis. The best and the brightest are sent up and spend almost two years trying to get it to work while things get worse and worse on earth. Eventually, they get the machine up and running, but something is out of balance and things start to go hay-wire on the space station. Can they figure out what is happening and correct it in time to save earth, or will they all die?

Cloverfield Paradox is weird, and the style is just oddly done. Like I said, it is very reminiscent of an early 2000’s TV movie. The acting isn’t great, the style isn’t great, but it is still pretty enjoyable.There was something about the camera that reminded me of shows like Dark Matter and Helix on SyFy, and while it is kind of enjoyable to watch a movie with that look and feel, it was also kind of disappointing simply because the other Cloverfield movies have been such a high quality and well thought out. Because of that, it doesn’t feel like it quite matches with the rest of the series.

As for the writing, it also has that below par feel as compared to the other Cloverfield films. It is fairly hokey and while they try and keep a level of drama up, it doesn’t work. It also doesn’t help that the acting isn’t able to live up to the writing. Even though the writing isn’t great, there are two characters that are pretty solid, maybe three. Jensen and Monk, played by Elizabeth Debicki and John Ortiz respectively, are two characters that seem to have the most and best motivation and they actually live into that motivation more so than the other characters. Unfortunately, the main character, Hamilton, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is a stiff character that they try and give depth to but it doesn’t work with her acting. Roger Davies, playing Michael and Daniel Bruhl as Schmidt are the other two best acted characters. The one surprisingly poor performance was Chris O’Dowd, from The It Crowd, it wasn’t that it was bad, but this seemed to be more of paycheck role than anything else.

Overall, this is a pretty basic Sci-Fi popcorn flick which isn’t as good as the others. If I didn’t have expectations and hopes for it, and if the Super Bowl teasers hadn’t made it look better, I think I would have been more inclined to enjoy it. It’s too oddly goofy at times and too poorly acted to be anything more than a bridge to what should hopefully be a good fourth and final Cloverfield movie.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

Image Source: IMDb

Do not read below if you don’t want it spoiled.

I like a lot of the concepts for this movie. The idea of parallel dimensions and possibly even them not being from our Earth is interesting. However, that aspect is kind of glossed over as they look at it. It’s about getting home or then not getting home for the main character, and the motivations are a little bit weak. While it makes sense that they are capable of jumping back into action very quickly, it feels like it is rushed at times and compared to the first two Cloverfield films, in this one the characters aren’t allowed to breath and develop as much. I do think, as I talked about above, a fair amount of that can be attributed to acting as well. But the whole concept of parallel dimensions is something that’s interesting and it opens up a lot of questions for me as I think about it.

The biggest question about this movie, for me, is where does it fit into the Cloverfield universe and timeline. We don’t see monsters much like the first two, until late in the film when we see the typical shot of the giant Cloverfield monster. But that doesn’t help us place it in time. It seems probable that this is a while after the first two Cloverfield films, except for the monster shot. It opens up the possibility that the first two parallel universes they go to, the one where they start and the one which is where they transport to the first time, might be different Earths, because there is the power crisis, and in the first two Cloverfield movies, there isn’t a power crisis. I don’t remember it well enough to remember if it is possible that the last spot they go is truly Earth from the first two movies. It seems more likely that this is 10 to 15 years after the first two movies. But it is definitely open for some speculation as to when and where this one takes place.

Final, more spoilery focused thoughts. Would I watch this again, probably, because it’s part of the Cloverfield movies, but I wouldn’t randomly watch it again as I would with the other Cloverfield movies. I think that this movie gets the acting wrong and the style wrong as compared to the other movies. The slapstick nature at times, such as when Chris O’Dowd’s character loses an arm is just weird as compared to a lot of the rest of the story they are trying to tell. Should you watch it, only if you care to watch all the Cloverfield films.


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Kickstarter: Earth under Gold (Au/E)

Kickstarter: Earth under Gold (Au/E)

We had some people from Minneapolis, Minnesota reach out to us about their Sci-Fi story podcast. They heard about our podcast, Dungeons and Flagons, and asked if we’d be interested in sharing anything about theirs as they are currently doing a Kickstarter for additional money […]

Book ’em, Nerd-O: Ready Player One

Book ’em, Nerd-O: Ready Player One

During Peder’s and my trip to AcadeCon last month, we spent a lot of time in the car, driving through the largely uninspiring landscape that is the Midwest. And while we filled some of that time with talking, we filled a lot of it by […]

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 TV Series

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 TV Series

If you were around here last week, you know that Peder shared a great list of his top five TV shows. And now it’s my turn! I have to say, I didn’t find this any easier than picking my favorite books, which surprised me a bit — I love a good TV show as much as the next nerd, but it’s really only been in the last few years that I’ve had the opportunity to finally watch some of the really good stuff (chalk it up to intermittent cable access in my youth and nonexistent TV access during my college years, I guess).

And like Peder, I primarily watch TV when I want some escapist fun, and that comes in many different forms that are hard to even really compare. I mean, one day I might be in the mood for a fantastical show; another day I might want to watch sci-fi; and at another time, I might want to watch a few episodes of a drama. I enjoy all those (extremely different) things about equally; it just depends on what sort of mood I’m in.

All that is to say that the rankings in this list are somewhat arbitrary, and might change depending on the day you ask me. Regardless, these are the five TV series that rise to the top of my list:

5. Killjoys

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This space opera-style show came under my radar (ha, see what I did there?) not too long after it first aired in 2013 — it started out strong right from the first episode, and hasn’t stopped since. The show follows a trio of bounty hunters who conduct their badassery in a system of planets known as the Quad. The setting is part Firefly-style space-cowboy romp, part grungy dystopian, part action drama, and all fantastic. It’s honestly worth watching for the aesthetic alone, but it’s so much more than that, too — it’s well-developed characters who have increasingly complex relationships with each other, perfectly paced action, and tons of plot twists to keep you guessing. If you’ve ever loved a space story, you’re bound to love this show, too.

4. Chuck

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This show has had a special place in my heart from pretty much the first episode. I discovered Chuck when I was freshly graduated from college and unemployed, so I spent many delightful hours binge-watching it. As the show begins, the titular character, a tech nerd who works in a ho-hum job at a pseudo-Best Buy, is getting through the daily grind, wondering if anything interesting will ever happen to him. As it turns out, things are about to get a little too interesting — when Chuck opens a mysterious email from his estranged college friend, the contents of a supercomputer known as the Intersect are downloaded into his brain (stick with me here), making Chuck a living repository of tons of top-secret government information. When his friend’s organization tracks Chuck down and assigns a stone-cold (and gorgeous) spy to him as his handler/bodyguard, Chuck’s life goes from boring days in Burbank to exciting espionage missions all around the world. The show has that fish-out-of-water trope I can’t get enough of, an absolutely delightful protagonist, and a great cast of characters. It’s one I know I’ll rewatch again and again.

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3. Psych

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Like Peder, I have to rank this show among the best-of-the-best. This goofy show about a serial-job-hopper-turned-fake-psychic and his hilariously squeamish best friend is pretty much everything I want in a show. It has my absolute favorite type of humor, characters who don’t fit the usual mold, a healthy dose of absurdity, and a lot of heart. The protagonist, Shawn Spencer, should be kind of insufferable but is somehow lovable, and he and the other characters play off of each other perfectly. The lightning-quick humor and silliness had me hooked from the start, and the sheer variety and delightfulness of the episodes make it immensely rewatchable.

2. Doctor Who

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It kind of feels like blasphemy to have this show as only the second on my list, but you can at least rest assured that my top choice squeaked by this one by a VERY thin margin. I started watching Doctor Who right after I graduated from college, mainly because I had to know what all my nerdy friends were on about. I started by watching the first season of the New Who iteration that Peder mentioned, and as he notes, the first few episodes are preeeetty rough. Because of that, I didn’t get sucked in right away. Eventually, though, I powered through the cheesier stuff, and found I’d fallen in love with the show almost without realizing it. Doctor Who literally has something for everyone — adventure, conceptual sci-fi weirdness, romance, history, horror, heart-wrenching storylines, amazing characters, and pretty much everything else in between. If you can’t find at least a couple of episodes to love in this show, I’m convinced you’re just haven’t found the right one for you yet. While some episodes and seasons are inevitably better than others for such a long-running show, the hits far outweigh the misses, and this show will always have me coming back for more as long as it’s around.

1.  Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Out of the shows I love, this is the one that always rises to the top. I fell in love with A:TLA when it first came out during my high school years, and I know that no matter how much I re-watch it, it’s never going to get old. The show takes place in a fantastical universe where a large portion of the population can control the different elements — water, earth, fire, and air. As the story starts, we learn that the Avatar, who has lived for thousands of years by way of reincarnation and is the only person in the world who can control all four elements, has been missing for 100 years. When a sister and brother from the water tribe find a young boy named Aang frozen in an iceberg, they discover that he is the Avatar that everyone has been searching for. While the Avatar was lost, the Fire Nation took the opportunity to assert their control over the other nations, and the world Aang wakes up to is very different from the one he left. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, it’s up to Aang to restore balance between the nations and the elements, with help from the friends he meets along the way.

This show really speaks to the part of me that I don’t think will ever stop being a kid — it’s that combination of wonder, adventure, fun, and heart that just feels like home to me. The series is equally full of hilarious, quotable moments and serious themes that will linger with you for a long time. It’s impressively mature for a show that’s mainly geared toward the middle-grade set, and in my very not-humble opinion, it’s the best thing Nickelodeon has ever done, either before or since.

To finish things off, I have to include some honorable mentions that were *this* close to making it on the list: Pushing Daisies (an absolute delight that ended way too soon), Firefly (the best space cowboy show ever), Outlander (three words: ALL THE FEELS), Community (just stupid-hilarious), Silicon Valley (the most fun I’ve ever had being stressed out and having secondhand embarrassment), Bob’s Burgers (way better than it has any right to be), and Sherlock (smart, sexy, and absolutely legendary).

Do any of your favorites overlap with mine? What TV shows would make it into your top 5?

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Movie Review

Valerian and the Cit of a Thousand Planets – By Luc Besson Kristen and I got a chance to see this on Tuesday, and it’s officially releasing on July 21st, 2017. So as you’re making your plans for the weekend, I get to help you answer […]