Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Did CWs Flash jump the KING Shark?

I've already said before that when it comes to superheroes, I'm rather bias. So when my buddy Loose asked me about this week's episode of the Flash on CW, I was ready to talk it up. The meta of the week was King Shark and the Jaws references were awesome!

SPOILER ALERT! if you haven't seen the episode, you are about to enter spoiler land...

Ok. So if you saw the episode, then you saw Zoom's face. While I kind of figured that was coming, having my chat with Loose got me to thinking. He said that he was disappointed in the reveal of Zoom and that Flash had "jumped the shark!" If you don't know the expression, GOOGLE it. While I appreciated his pun (King Shark/jumped the shark...try to keep up), I asked what he meant. I liked the episode. The Jaws references like "I think we need a bigger Flash..." were cool, the guest appearance of Diggle and Lyla, while we watched Barry, Cisco, Wells, Wells' daughter, and Catlin deal with the consequences of their Earth 2 visit, Jay's death, and the fact that all the breaches were closed. I even enjoyed how the CW had Wally West continue to be a cocky jerk when dealing with Barry. So I liked the episode and I didn't know what he was talking about... then he said Zoom... And then it made sense. Zoom's reveal was almost a parallel to the Reverse Flash's reveal. Wells/Thawne was a mentor to Barry, kept secrets and manipulated others, and as the Reverse Flash he overpowered and outclassed Flash. So Jay Garrick/Zoom is the basically the same. He's someone that the team trusted and he's been manipulating things.

Still though, I think a better Zoom reveal would've been Barry's dad or Wally West maybe. For Zoom to be Jay at best seems like lazy writing and at worse is bad writing. Eventhough I concede that Jay Garrick being Zoom wasn't the best writing choice, I'm still going to watch the Flash. And while I think there were better choices, its not a game changer for me at this point. I still love Cisco enough to watch the show for just his nerd commentary.

What do you think? Did the Flash jump the shark or did he just kick King Shark's butt? Leave a comment about your opinion.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Late to the party - Firefly board game

 You can't take the sky from me...

Any nerd worth his weight in comics and pewter models recognizes that line from the short lived cult classic show Firefly. I am a big fan of the show and I wasn't only "late to the party" on the show but also on the board game.

Over 6 years ago I had the flu and was stuck in bed. A friend of mine suggested watching Firefly and loaned me the movie Serenity.Well after the first episode, I binge-watched the entire season and the Serenity movie that day (that was before Netflix and binging was a thing). So I was an instant fan and enjoyed rewatching the episodes over and over ever since. That brings me to a sad fact. For quite some time I had seen the Firefly board game and I avoided it. I couldn't believe that the game was fun, plus, (at least at the time) I thought it was a little on the expensive side (about $50 bucks for the core game).

Fast forward to last week at FLINTCON, an annual local miniature gaming event. This was my first time attending and while I was there to demo a few games...I ended up having a little time to play in some games myself. The real fun began as I noticed the Firefly board game under a table behind me. I immediately asked the person, Mike, about the Firefly game. I told him I never played it and he asked if I wanted to try it. Oh I'm soooo glad he did. I ended up playing the game with Mike and his friend Nic. They broke down the basic rules of the game, made a few references to the show and then we started playing. After about 40 minutes into the game, Mike had to leave.  I was having so much fun, Nic offered to just finish it out with me. I ended up winning the game, but that wasn't the best part; I actually enjoyed the game. The mechanics, the rules, the setup all put me in the mind of the show. It seemed like the next best thing to actually being on the ship with Mal and Zoe. Okay, maybe not the next best...but it was totally nerdgasmic. I have to admit that some of the characters and show references were lost on me. That was cool though, it just gave me a reason to watch the series again on Netflix (like I actually needed a reason..?).

Here's how the game works. Setup involves several decks of cards, a board/map of the 'verse, and a pile of various tokens. This wasn't that big of a deal; it took all of 5 or so minutes. I've played games less fun with way more setup time (koff...Legendary...koff). To start we pick our story card. This is a scenario which outlines the goals of the game and how you win. There are several including a mission that is for a single player. Next it was time to pick my captain. Of those available, I picked Corbin. I honestly had no idea who Corbin was in the show. Nic was able to pick first and he picked Naomi as his captain. Now Naomi I remembered. lady trained as a companion who ran a brothel. I can't remember exactly who Mike picked, I believe it was Monty. Anyway, next we picked our ships. We got $3000 bucks to start and then it was time to fly through the "black", hire a crew, and start doing jobs.  Nic ended up recruiting Zoe while Mike recruited Simon and Bridget. Late in the game I got to hire Wash.

Game play works like this. On your turn, you have two actions. You can either fly, buy, deal, or work. There are several decks of cards that represent the places you buy supplies from, the jobs you work (legal or otherwise), and the encounters you have as you travel the "black" There is an Alliance ship and a Reaver ship that are the big bads. You don't want to have to deal with either. These ships move around the board. As you move around the board you flip a "NAV" card for each space you travel. Hopefully you reveal a keep flying card and you can proceed. There are cards that can stop your move, offer you challenges, or serve you up to the Alliance or Reaver ship. If you don't manage to slip away, you can have to pay fines, lose gear, or kill off crew. Challenges involve dice roles that you add modifiers to based on your crew, their keywords/class/skills, and any gear they have. The SUPPLY decks allow you to recruit crew or buy gear. I  missed buying a fake ID and "fancy dudes" that I couldn't used for several of my challenges. The misbehave deck is for when you are doing illegal jobs and each card from this deck has challenges you must complete to proceed. The tokens come into play with your ship. Fuel tokens are required to move. Your crew can get unhappy and get a disgruntled token (two of these tokens and your crew member quits). Job cards may have prerequisites that are satisfied by crew skills, keywords, or gear.

The gameplay really gave me a feel for the show. Having to balance keeping my ship fueled, doing jobs to get money, keeping my crew happy, dealing with the Alliance, and Reavers, while interacting with specific characters from the show all do the show justice. I give the game an A! I also suggest any fan, even a moderate one, of the show play this game. In fact I almost say its necessary.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

DC Legends of Tomorrow in 4 words

Four words...
Strong characters...weak story

SPOILERS WARNING!!!  If you haven't seen the DC Legends of Tomorrow pilot parts 1 and 2, you might want to stop reading.

Ok. Thanks to the CW shows The Flash and Arrow we have a cast of interesting character interpretation for this time traveling super team show. I say interpretations because all of the heroes in the Legends show aren't original, but versions of comic book characters. Unfortunately for the show, it suffers from having so many cool characters that it can't seem to get out of its own way.

The show's premise, time traveling to stop the evil Vandal Savage. Ever since the tv show The Voyagers or the Back to the Future movies, I didn't mind time travel as a backdrop/plot device for a story. Its been done before and it will be done again. Unfortunately the CW has done time travel with The Flash so much that its getting a little old. In fact several members of the team faced Vandal Savage in the series prequel episodes of The Flash and Arrow and were saved due to The Flash traveling back in time. DC Legends of Tomorrow time "expert", Rip Hunter, talks about the ramifications and problems with corrupting the time in point As our team of heroes travels back to the 1970s, Professor Stein almost misses meeting his wife for the first time and thus erasing their marriage. Also a piece of the Atom's suit falls into the hands of Vandal Savage which could've provided him with 2016 tech if he managed to reverse engineer it. Then Rip Hunter proceeds to help his heroes kill Vandal Savage's troopers in an all out but utterly pointless battle at the episode's climax. While admittedly fun to watch, I wonder what effect on the time line their deaths will have...oh its okay though I guess because they're evil.  Is the team going to have to have Atom sit out on missions due to how easily his technology fell into the wrong hands and nearly corrupted time? Still, for as easily as they got it back, maybe that's something that will happen every episode.

They figure out a way to kill Vandal Savage, but they don't succeed because Hawkman isn't the one who has to deal the final blow, its Hawkgirl who must do it. Information that while the Hawks didn't know seemed to be clear to Rip Hunter who chose not to tell them until after Hawkman was killed.

Vandal Savage is immortal, but when did he develop the super powers that all the campy slasher film villains have? The disappear without a trace power.

The battle at the climax wasn't the only seemingly pointless battle for our team within both parts of the pilot.

What's even more interesting is that our team fails at every turn. Vandal Savage is one step ahead of them and if that's not enough, our heroes just can't stop messing up. These are the folks who are going to save the world?

Still the show is visually stunning and stimulating to every superhero loving bone I have. I'm really surprised that I found so much fault in the show actually. If I found merit in the Fox Fantastic Four remake it says a lot about DC's Legend of Tomorrow that I had any issues with it.

What did you think of DC Legends of Tomorrow?