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Saturday
Apr102010

Finally, some casting news for AMC's The Walking Dead

I'm as excited as I can be for the adaptation of Kirkman's brilliant (at least for the first 60 issues) The Walking Dead.  It really is zombie literature at its best, and it reminds me much more of a Richard Laymon work where we get to see just how depraved (and heroic) normal people will behave when faced with horrible situations than it does the works of Romero or Keene.

The big announcement this week is that we have our protagonist:  Andrew Lincoln has been cast as ex-cop Rick, who is destined to become the most tragic character in the history of cable television.  Lincoln has been in lots and lots of television shows, mostly short-lived, and a handful of big screen motion pictures, but, unless I'm forgetting something, have never actually seen him act.  Here's hoping he is up to the challenge.  

In lieu of having anything constructive to say about this casting, here are some links you might find interesting.  

Reuters News Service announces the casting of lead for The Walking Dead

Andrew Lincoln's IMDB page

AMC's latest The Walking Dead news

Saturday
Apr102010

A tidbit of Game of Thrones info

While doing my normal surfing for news stories related to the HBO series Game of Thrones based on George R.R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire, I came across this tidbit from the This Is Local London website:

"Aspiring young dancer Kelechi Nwanokwu has hit the big time after being picked for the latest big-budget drama to come out of the US.  The 26-year-old is set to appear with Sean Bean in fantasy epic A Game of Thrones"

No details about what role she was cast in, but I'll guess she is one of Daenerys's handmaidens (Irri, Jhiqui, or Doreah) that were Daenerys's gift from her brother at the wedding feast.  Or maybe she is just an unnamed in the employ of Illyrio.  A little searching reveals that, likely because she is a dancer and is pictured with other dancers at an GoT after party, that westeros.org is guessing she is a dancer at Daenerys's wedding feast.  I guess will see when the time comes.  I'm still going to guess she is Jhiqui just for the heck of it.  If she had already filmed the only scene she was ever going to be in before this article even ran, would she really be proclaiming she hit the big time?  (Well, probably, but I'll go with the long odds here).

 

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/7989839.Talented_dancer_hits_the_big_time/

 

Saturday
Apr102010

British sci-fi author Richard Morgan to pen Crysis 2

EA announced this week that it had enlisted British Science Fiction writer Richard Morgan to pen the story for Crysis 2, the sequel to its "successful" and beautiful PC first-person shooter.  Successful is in quotation marks there because Crysis didn't actually sell that many copies and a lot of those sold were never played because of the extreme hardware requirements needed to get even decent frame rates on the game.  That won't be a problem with Crysis 2 as it will be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 and be optimized to run on  less than stellar PCs.  Despite needing to run on consoles, the new engine is looking great (as these screenshots--courtesy of EA---show).

Click to view full-size image

 

 

The move to an urban setting really makes this look like a whole new property, and EA likely saw te need for stronger writing given the more recognizable setting.  Richard Morgan stormed onto the sci-fi scene in 2002 with the publication of his well-received Altered Carbon, a cyberpunkish thriller with a voice lifted from noir detective fiction.  He has continued to publish regularly and seems to have continued with the idea of blending different genres.  His latest, The Steel Remains is basically a sword-and-sorcery novel that feels like it takes place on a different planet and with sorcery that really seems more science-based than supernatural.

Crysis 2 is Morgan's first foray into the video game world, but his first novel has been optioned by Hollywood, so his work will soon be exposed to two, much larger than the sci-fi base, audiences.  

The history of genre authors teaming up with video game developers isn't exactly great, but Morgan can certainly do nothing to lessen the quality of first-person shooter writing.   

Thursday
Apr082010

Review of Timestreams from Bucephalus Games

 

Designed by Jeremy Holcomb and K. Joseph Huber

 

The Spin:  Manipulate Time for fun and glory

The Story:  Players play time travelers working their way through multiple eras seeding each with technology designed to shape the world in their image.  Two two-player sets (Medieval vs. Modern Day and Stone Age vs. Future Tech) are currently available and at least one more two-player set and some smaller expansions are advertised as on the way.  The two-player sets can be combined to expand the game to up to six players.

The Play:  Each player is given a deck of cards themed to a particular era.  These cards are divided between Inventions and Actions.  The Invention cards are worth points at the end of the game while the action cards, mostly, are discarded after their effect takes place. 

Before play begins, the players form a tableau consisting of timeline cards representing six eras (Stone Age through Future Tech). Players will begin playing cards one at a time below the Stone Age card.  When both players have no more plays they want to make, they move on to the next period.  This process continues until the last play in the Future Tech era, at which time scoring it resolved.

When and where Invention cards are played is very important.  Inventions have one of two types of effects: Play or Score.  Play effects resolve when the card is put into the tableau.  Score effects do not occur until the end of the game.  Both the Play and the Score effects can destroy inventions, move inventions, alter the values of inventions, and manipulate the players’ hands, decks and discard piles.

 

When the Future Tech era is complete, players move to the end of game scoring phase.  One at a time each era is scored from top to bottom (first six slots only, by default).  Again, here cards can be destroyed and values altered.  Each era is scored in turn and scores are totaled.  Highest score wins.  Like many collectable card games, the complexity of Timestreams is in the card interactions not in the game rules.

My Take:  I played a lot of CCGs when they first hit the gaming scene in the mid 90s.  Magic:TG, Wyvern, On the Edge, Middle Earth, Mythos, INWO—really most of the games released in the first half-decade of the genre.  Eventually, I tired of the constant flood of new sets, wonky rule interpretations, and a gaming scene full of over-competitive players.  The whole scene was both costly and annoying and I quit pretty much cold turkey (if you will allow me to exclude my brief flirtation with Collectable Miniatures Games).  Timestreams fulfills what is left of my CCG craving without the collectible element or the driving force of a tournament scene.  Like a CCG, the cards represent tiny alterations to the game’s simple rules and the interaction between the cards and the rules provides plenty of opportunity for tactical play.   Though the game is not collectible or (currently) customizable, it does a good job of scratching the CCG itch without giving me a gaming rash.  I’d happily lump it in with Blue Moon and Dominion as games that ignore certain CCG elements while playing up others.

Components:  Well, it is a card game folks.  No wooden bits, no plastic soldiers, no resin tanks.  Unfortunately, the card quality is a bit below-average.  The cards are too glossy and become hard to read under direct light (hard to photograph also, but that isn’t a problem for you guys).  The cards are thick and the glossy coating seems to protect them well from the wear of handling, but the cards do not stand up to a bend test.  The card art is solid, but often obscured by the text boxes.  I also despised the fonts.  The difference between the game text font and the flavor text font is very unattractive. 

I also would like to have a board for the timeline instead of using cards.  Using cards makes it more portable and likely less expensive, but something like the board for Kosmos/Rio Grande’s Lost Cities would have gone a long way toward making the game more attractive on the table and made the game state easier  to see at a glance. 

A side note:  the flavor text is consistently funny and interesting.  Easily the best I’ve seen in a while. 

The Verdict.  The quibbles with card quality aside (and ultimately they are pretty minor), Timestreams is an enjoyable, highly interactive card game with a fun sci-fi theme and solid mechanics.  I recommend it without reservation and could easily raise this score half a point when the final set is released.

7.5/10

Wednesday
Apr072010

New Contest--Win a Copy of Vegas Showdown, baby!

 

Nerdbloggers is giving away a new-in-shrinkwrap copy of Vegas Showdown for this month's contest. The contest will run through the end of the month with the winner being chosen at-random from a list of all entries. To enter, do the following:

1. Follow us on twitter ( http://twitter.com/nerdbloggers) to get one entry in the contest.
2. Get one additional entry every time you retweet one of our tweets.
3. Get one additional entry every time you tweet about on of our stories (board game related or otherwise)

That's all it takes. Enter now and tweet often. 

Goodluck from the Nerdbloggers crew!