XCOM Giveaway: The Results Are In!

And the winner is...
Image Source: Fantasy Flight Games
Evan Derrick!

Congratulations Evan! Please check your Twitter direct messages for all the details of your glorious victory!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our contest. We received a lot of awesome entries and we had a lot of fun running this for you.

Stay tuned! In the next few months we'll be running another giveaway, but the grand prize next time will be Armada!

Notes: the winner was chosen at random via random.org. The winner has 24 hours to claim their prize. If they do not do so by Monday, January 26th at 8pm EST then a new winner will be drawn from the existing pool of entrants. This process will be repeated as needed until we can get a winner!

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This Week in Geekdom

Hi everyone and best wishes for a happy remainder of a con to all those attending PAX South right now. The GIR and I are trying to distract ourselves as we prepare for housing registration for Gen Con 2015. Regardless of what happens today, the Care and Feeding of Nerds will definitely be at Gen Con, as we are an officially accredited media outlet for the convention! Still, it will be a huge load everyone's shoulders once this nervewracking piece of the process is over and done with. In the meantime, you can make your last-minute entries into our XCOM: the Board Game giveaway and get down to This Week in Geekdom!


For some entirely unfathomable reason, Marvel is taking a page from DC's book and will be rebooting its entire universe this summer during a campaign titled Secret Wars.
Image Credit: Alex Ross, Marvel Entertainment

It may not have Patrick Stewart or Sir Ian McKellan, but X-Men: Apocalypse will have Sophie Turner (a.k.a. Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones). Storm and Cyclops have also been cast.

It's a rumor that never seems to truly vanish but, rather, makes a fresh appearance every so often. Here's the latest incarnation of the 'we're going to make more X Files' saga. Stop teasing me Fox!


Gog.com has added six new classic Star Wars titles to its library. The site claims that even more such games will be made available on the site in the next few days.

If you are an owner of the Xbox One, you may want to read up on Windows 10, as the latter will become the OS for that console in the coming months.

Poor Nintendo continues its downward slide with this announcement that it will be ending its Club Nintendo rewards system on June 30th.

Beginning June 9th, you'll be able to play Elder Scrolls Online without paying a subscription fee. The change is designed to coincide with the release of Tamriel Unlimited, which will still include microtransactions.

League of Legends debuted a new drafting system, the Nemesis Draft, into their public beta this week. It has not garnered too many fans.

One of the biggest stories in the board gaming world this week was the phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign for Exploding Kittens, the card game formally known as Bomb Squad facelifted with artwork from the Oatmeal creator Matt Inman. Inman gave this interview about the campaign and his efforts with the game.

If you are one of the pioneering fans of World of Warcraft, then Blizzard may be sending you this commemorative statue to honor your decade of loyalty.

Firaxis announced that its post-Beyond Earth effort is called Starships and will be a turn-based tactical game set in the same universe as BE. Here's hoping we get to see more of this at PAX East.


Microsoft spent much of this week buffeting us with the details of what its latest OS, Windows 10, will be like. Well, now you can see for yourself with this free preview download.

We've talked more than once about the sometimes outlandish sounding projects that NASA's cooking up and we can now add one more to that astonishing/amusing list: a helicopter for exploring the surface of Mars. (bonus: includes fun concept video)

Antarctica is home to some of the most extreme and inhospitable conditions on Earth but, earlier this week, a team of scientists and ice drillers discovered several species of fish and other marine life that thrive in the total darkness below the colossal ice sheets.

It seems like a straightforward question: Is glass a solid or a liquid? But researchers at the University of Bristol and Kyoto University have found that the response isn't quite so simple.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

This enterprising eighth grader built a fully functional braille printer using a robotics kit and Legos.

This simple, but fascinating photo essay depicts a set of both simple and very complex objects that have been cut in half.

Wired put together this interesting peek into the sometimes odd and often highly competitive world of science fiction writing.

Crowdfundables for Your Consideration

It's already fully funded, but you have 4 days to get in on the Kickstarter for Deluxe Orleans (a.k.a. the winner of Best of Essen 2014).

Are you one of the Parks & Recreation fanatics that got in on the real-life Cones of Dunshire event at Gen Con 2014? Do you wish you were one of those lucky gamers? Well, Mayfair Games may have a crowdfunding campaign just for you: this Kickstarter to make Cones of Dunshire a real, mass-marketed game. Parks & Rec star Amy Poehler hates the game, but thinks you should back it anyway.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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Gias Games: Regeria Hope

Who doesn’t love how awesome it is to be an attorney? Reading agreements, researching case law, reviewing testimony, endless hours spent on Westlaw and LexisNexis, everything to get a law aficionado’s heart racing. If you are not a fan of that stuff then I am sure you just read that as sarcasm. If you are a fan, then you may be salivating at the prospect of doing some law-fu right now. If you are a gamer and enjoy the prospect of practicing law in a game, then you are most likely a Pheonix Wright (PW) fan. But how great would it be if you could play a PW style game on your PC rather than on solely on your Nintendo DS?

Regeria Hope is a PW style legal game with a female protagonist created by Golden Game Barn. The game is episodic and the first episode has been released. It is available for download here, and you can name your own price. Naturally, the questions of how this game holds up compared to PW and how it holds up in its own right are the most pressing. Hopefully, I will be able to satisfactorily address both questions.
Regeria is a plucky young defense attorney on her first murder case. Her mentor hand-holds her through her first trial and gives her guidance to teach her how to handle herself. This world is similar to that of PW in that, in the future, the court system has radically changed in ways that do away with what we'd consider typical practical justice. In the Regeria world, there is no longer “reasonable doubt”. In a murder trial, you have to prove that your client is innocent and/or prove that someone else committed the murder.

As with all games, there is a required suspension of disbelief. In PW, we accept that things have changed such that court trials are only permitted 3 days, at the end of which the judge must rule guilty unless the defendant is proven innocent. There is even a conversation about this change at the beginning of the first game, explaining why this change was made and establishing the disbelief that needs to be suspended. Unfortunately, Regeria does not clearly establish what disbelief needs to be suspended, aside from “reasonable doubt”. The prosecutor arbitrarily sets how much time the defense has to present its case and the judge agrees with it. There was no dialogue establishing that the prosecution has this power. In PW, the judge is bowled over by some of the prosecutors, but in these instances it seems more like the judge is being meek rather than the prosecutor having a right to make demands. In the Regeria world, it seems the prosecutor has the right to set arbitrary time limits since it does not surprise the judge, even though it does surprise the defense attorney.
Aesthetically, Regeria is enjoyable. The background music is classically styled, which I enjoyed, but that is certainly a personal preference. The art assets for the characters are well-drawn. Everyone is pleasant to look at, whether they are beautiful (which just about everyone is, as is typical of Japanimation-style features) or they are regular looking but are just nicely drawn (in the case of the judge). It is of small note, but the cross-fades between who is talking are done very well. However, the background is dull and uninspired. In sharp contrast to the crisp, clean art of characters, the background art is generic and crude. It conjures images of crowd scenes from racing games: the crowd is a generic blob with little detail.

The humor of the game is the most enjoyable part. It is not the over-the-top responses that I am referring to, but the more subtle dry humor. When Regeria says, “I’ll see you in court,” to another attorney while they are already in court, I chuckled to myself and thought about what a ditz she was. Then the other attorney made a remark with similar sentiment about how they already were in court; that made me chuckle as well. Later, the same interaction plays out again with a reversal of roles, but this time they are outside of court. Regeria is annoyed that she didn’t get to use the “I’ll see you in court” line properly. That is funny writing.
Additionally, there is some eye-rolling humor which is also enjoyable. The names of characters are puns, and the responses to some questions are done in a very witty and humorous way. The mannerisms of the characters that define how they act can be enjoyable and humorous, but can also be a bit annoying, based on personal preference. I have a big problem with character stupidity; it makes me annoyed much more than I find it humorous, while other people may find it funny. The judge is an massive fool, much like the judge in PW could be at times. However, in addition to being a fool, he acts like a petulant toddler. I understand that many people will find that funny, but characters like that annoy me. The only time I like them is when they get massive comeuppance, but since this is the judge, it is unlikely to happen.
Unfortunately, there are some weak points. The sound assets for voices are just terrible. They are grainy, the quality is much worse than the beautiful quality of the music. Additionally, the voice acting is uninspired and unenthusiastic. Everyone can tell the difference between real emotion and imitation forced emotion when you do not have a good voice actor, hence all the hate behind the Vader “NOOOO” scene in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
However, worse than poor voice acting are some missteps in the implementation of game mechanics. There were instances where seemingly irrelevant pieces of information were added to the Case File while other seemingly irrelevant pieces of information were omitted. This made it painfully obvious that the added information was important and needed to be used, however there was no way for Regeria to know that in-game. Similarly, some seemingly very necessary information that is stated did not get included in the case file. Both of these are annoying, but did not ultimately break game-play.

The most egregious issues did break enjoyment of the game however. Firstly, in a story-driven game like this, there should always be check-points. I found out the hard way that if you fail the chapter, you have to start over from either the very beginning or from a save point. I expected check-points which would allow me to return to an earlier point if things went bad, so I did not have any save points. Big mistake: I had to start the game all over. Check-points are so ubiquitous that I never considered that they might not be included. Going hand-in-hand with the poor planning from the lack of check-points, it turns out that you can fail the game in the same spot multiple times without having any idea why or what the right choice was. I have replayed the same section of game over and over more times than I can remember and always end up failing either due to a predetermined failure path or running out of time. From this, I surmise that at one point I made a decision that took me down a path from which there is no return. For a story-driven game, this is a big no-no. Either a path should be insta-fail, or else you should be able to recover from that path. In PW, you would at least game some small hints, and if you tried every action you could eventually find one that worked.

Lastly, there were instances where I tried to present evidence that proved that given testimony was a lie, but the game did not agree with me. PW had the same issue several times. It is rather difficult to keep track of all potential evidence and all potential testimony to make sure it all works together. However, the point of these types of lawyer games are to make the player feel smart. Players like feeling clever when they see a connection between evidence and testimony. However, when there is a clear connection that proves a lie but the game is not programmed to recognize that connection, it is just frustrating. For example, a witness testified that someone changed their name less than 5 years ago, but a will I had in evidence showed that the “new” name was in use more than five years ago. That is a clear lie or error, either way it is valid objection. Lack of recognition by the game means the developer did not spend enough time reviewing the evidence and testimony together.

Recommendation: Medium. Overall, if you enjoy PW games, then you are likely to enjoy Regeria Hope. One might say that Regeria is just a copy of PW with different characters. In some respects, this is a fair assessment. The type of humor, how evidence and testimony interaction is handled, the banter of the characters, all of this is just the same as PW. However, the general type of game, “court trial presenting evidence to contradict testimony” I feel is now a genre of game that started with PW. In that respect, Regeria is a new addition to that genre, not merely a PW clone. Additionally, I would like to reiterate that Regeria does a great job with the dry wit, which PW does not even attempt. My biggest complaints are still that it is easy to fail the trial without knowing why, there are no auto-saves, and poor evidence-testimony match up. If the author could fix these issues in later episodes, there is a real possibility that Regeria could be a great attorney game, good enough to consider it as part of the PW universe, even if it is just in the player’s headcanon.
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This Week in Geekdom

Happy weekend everyone! It's been a busy, but excellent couple of days here at the Care and Feeding of Nerds that have been chock-full of board games. All the board games! We're going to be bringing you tons of content on up-and-coming games in the very near future, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, you can enter our contest to win a copy of XCOM: the Board Game

Ok, are you back from entering the contest? Awesome. Now let's get down to the week in geekdom!


All of the Episode VII concept art that's been made available to the public collected in one article.

Neither Patrick Stewart nor Sir Ian McKellan will appear in X-Men: Apocalypse

Weird Al Yankovic will voice the Dollmaker in Batman vs Robin.


The evolution of the controller in one comprehensive photo essay.


Galaxy NGC 6861 was discovered 189 years ago, but this week the Hubble Space Telescope gave us our first up-close-and-personal view. Turns out that NGC 6861 is a galaxy unlike any other we've seen before.

Why are giant celestial entities like our Sun made of light elements like hydrogen and helium, but small entities like our Earth are made of much heavier atomic stuff? Here's the science (and the answer). 
Image Source PsyOrg

There are at least two more large planets lying beyond Pluto.

What exactly allows for one planet to be capable of supporting and producing life is one of the most vexing questions for theoretical physicists. The new edition of Science Bulletin contains this new theory that seeks to solve that conundrum. 

NASA, the ESA, and MIT teamed up with a Dutch artist to produce the first quantum art exhibit. Oh, and the exhibit took place in space.

Would-be real life Tony Stark/budding James Bond villain Elon Musk wants to extend the reach of the internet into space. Something that may prove useful in that endeavor is an improved interface for a quantum internet.

Speaking of Mr. Musk, here is a breakdown of the latest Falcon 9 rocket test, which Musk's SpaceX considered successful despite the fiery explosion.

When Einstein met H.G. Wells.

British neuropsychopharmacology professor David Nutt claims he has developed two new drugs that aim to change some of the most pernicious social impacts of drinking alcohol. One of these pills claims to eliminate hangovers.

On Friday President Obama declared that the makers of both smart devices and messaging apps should provide law enforcement agencies with a way to break the security encryptions on said platforms, marking his first public stance on matters of digital information privacy. This, of course, may not come as a surprise after the White House decreed that no legislation was necessary to ensure neutrality of the internet.

The latest edition of Analytical Chemistry contains this research concerning the development of temporary tattoos that would allow diabetes patients to monitor their blood glucose levels without the use of needles.

Google Glass is dead (sort of).

Meanwhile, Apple's quest to compete with GoPro cameras got a huge boost, in the form of a new patent, this week.

The phrase 'tempest in a teapot' is often considered a metaphor, but, for physicists, it describes a mysterious phenomenon that causes 'waves' to appear on the surface of hot liquids. A team of Japanese researchers may have gotten to the bottom of this proverbial storm.

According to a new study, published this week in the journal Science, the gap in gender participation in some academic fields may be attributed to a collective social bias.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

Dillon Markey, an animator whose credits include Robot Chicken, put together this brief but excellent documentary about the infamous Nintendo Power Glove.

Check out this heartwarming story about a boy receiving a 3D printed arm designed by savvy volunteers and presented to the boy the 501st Legion.

An interesting factoid for all you binary speakers out there: the year 2015 is a binary palindrome and will be the last of its kind until the year 2047.

What does it look like after an iceberg flips over? Well, like this.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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XCOM: The Board Game Giveaway!

This is a contest that has been literal months in the making and we're thrilled that we can finally bring it to you! One of the single biggest attention-grabbers (and, consequently, one of the most hotly contested demos) at Gen Con 2014 was XCOM: The Board Game by Fantasy Flight Games. In my humble opinion, the title definitely lived up to every bit of the hype that surrounded it, but mass production of the game was plagued with delays in the months following the con. Fortunately, those delays are a thing of the past and now we can get down to the fun times!

That's very nice, but you said something about a contest?

I sure did. We're giving away a copy of XCOM: The Board Game and everyone reading this can enter for a chance to win it! (unless you're the GIR or Elder Gias, sorry guys)
Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games

How to Enter the Contest

Step 1: Think of the name of your favorite soldier class, weapon, alien species, NPC or individual game title from any of the video games in the XCOM franchise. (see the Rules below for a note about expansion titles)

Step 2: Leave the name you thought of in Step 1 as a comment on either our Facebook or G+ pages, or tweet it at our Twitter account, tag us in a picture of it on Instagram, or leave it as a comment on this post. (Yes, you can enter multiple times; see the Rules below for an example of how this works) 

Step 3: Check back here on Sunday, January 25th at 8pm EST to see if you're the winner! The winner will be selected using random.org.

Contest Rules

- You are allowed one entry per social media site (plus this website) and your entries must be different responses to each of the items in Step 1. For example, I could say my favorite soldier class is the Sniper on the Facebook page, then say my favorite weapon is the Railgun on G+ and earn myself 2 entries into the contest. 

- Since there are five categories and five places for your potential responses, you can earn up to five entries for yourself by putting a different response on each of the sites. If you say 'thin man' 5 times in 5 places, only one of those will count.

- While you do not have to use your full, real name to enter the contest, we are going to require that you give us at least a valid handle or nickname so we can contact you if you're the winner. Contestants who are found to be using burner accounts to try and earn more entries will be disqualified. 

- For the purposes of this contest, all XCOM expansion titles can be treated as separate games. So, if you really loved XCOM: Enemy Within and want that as your entry, you're completely allowed to do so.

Good luck everyone!

Notes: The Care and Feeding of Nerds and this contest are not in any way affiliated with Fantasy Flight Games, Inc. XCOM: The Board Game, and all imagery used therein, is licensed to Fantasy Flight Games, Inc.
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GiR by GIR: Depth

Over the holiday break I found myself absolutely buried in games, no thanks to the Steam Winter Sale. As a friend of mine likes to say, "Praise Gaben!" Between gifts of games and titles I just wanted to spend more hours on, I was having trouble deciding what to review next. Part of the issue here is I just felt like spending more time with things I had already covered *cough* FarCry 4 *cough* Yet out of all the new titles I had at my disposal, I found I kept launching one game in particular time and time again. It was the least likely of suspects, but I often found that, while trying to make up my mind as to what to play, I had booted this one title up without even being consciously aware that I'd done so. I’ve decided to return to tell you about this strangely addictive and pleasantly surprising game today.
Depth, which is developed and published by DigitalConfectioners, was picked up on a whim while it was deeply discounted. The premise of hungry sharks versus treasure seeking divers seemed simple and amusing enough, but it ended up totally surpassing my modest expectations. Like the sharks in the game, Depth came out of nowhere, sunk its teeth in me, and proceeded to thrash and shake the hours out of me like so much treasure from a diver.
There are currently two modes of gameplay. The first, called Blood & Gold, pits a team of four Divers against a team of two Sharks. Divers have three different characters to choose from but these variations are entirely cosmetic. Sharks get three species to choose from and, unlike the divers, that choice matters as it's the primary determinant for your base stats. The Mako has lots of stamina and a sleek profile, but low health; the Tiger is your middle of the road option with both stamina and health attributes being equal and an average overall body size; the Great White is just what you'd expect, with lots of health and a huge profile, but low stamina.
The goal of the divers is to guard a robot, S.T.E.V.E., as it travels through one of six Maps unlocking safes and gathering treasure until it reaches its capacity and must return to the boat it was launched from. Players must see S.T.E.V.E. back to the boat or kill 30 sharks, whichever comes first. There is also gold littered about each level which divers can collect and return to S.T.E.V.E. in order to bank extra gold which is then used to equip weapons and items between lives similar to any other FPS/TDM game (Counter Strike/Team Fortress/Etc). What weapons are available to a given player is dependent on what their profile level is, which is improved simply through playing matches (even if you lose every round your profile will still gain some XP each time). Everyone starts with some basics unlocked, like spear guns and pistols but, given enough time, you can unlock everything from bang sticks to navy surplus mines. Team strength for the divers relies heavily on clever placement of sonar buoys to reveal sharks, and powerful automatic rifles and explosives in the form of spears or mines.
The sharks’ objective is fairly simple: eat greedy divers. To help level the playing field against  the heavily armed meat bags, sharks get evolution points per diver they kill. These points can be used in between lives to buy various upgrades. Despite the different base stats and variable attributes, all sharks have the same upgrade options which are also unlocked over time by leveling up your player profile. The sharks may be outnumbered by divers, but they have a couple things going in their favor: they can detect divers from further out than most divers can see through the murky waters and they swim MUCH faster in open water compared to the divers. Other than the Mako, sharks can take quite a beating; the divers, on the other hand, get shredded like tissue paper once a shark grabs hold.  Sharks can also restore small amounts of lost health by catching and eating seals which populate some maps. Lastly, if the sharks need to stall the progress of the game for any reason they can crash into and disable S.T.E.V.E. in order to slow the divers’ progression through the map.  Overall I found it much easier to be a diver than a shark, which I simply attribute to the experience being more familiar from my experience in other FPS games.
The second game mode, which was only recently added, is called Megalodon Hunt. For reference THIS is a Megalodon. In this mode five divers face off against the Megalodon with the player who lands the killing blow getting to become the Megalodon in the following round. Divers start with DPVs and scramble to collect gold. The gold automatically improves their weapons along a set progression while the Megalodon just tries to devour divers. Points are awarded individually for the quantity of gold pick-ups and kills; the first player to reach 15,000 points wins the match. I was not particularly impressed with this game mode but more options and variation is never a bad thing. 
Maps are well-crafted and provide an excellent sense of both tension and atmosphere. The quiet deep is disturbed only by the occasional burst of air bubbles released by a scuba tank, rapidly increasing heartbeats warning divers sharks are near, and the comforting pings of a sonar buoy. Overall I felt the game itself is well balanced in terms of items and abilities, but that team matchmaking was less so. While I would love to see an even more expansive map list, there already is a surprising amount of replay ability in Depth. Due to the unlockable weapons, evolution options, various achievements, and monthly as well as all-time leader boards, I can see myself diving beneath the waves for hours yet to come.
If you are looking for a fresh take on the old team-based shooter formula, and love tense moments punctuated by furious action, I strongly recommend you take the plunge for yourself and give it a shot. It is possible to play with AI Bots for practice, but the game works best against other Humans. I fell that the community itself also seemed more helpful and welcoming to new players and less toxic than your traditional Call of Duty or Counterstrike, though your personal experience may vary. Depth is out now and available for $24.99 on Steam for Windows PCs.            
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This Week in Geekdom

Hi everyone; hope you're all warm and cozy as you read this. We're back up to something near normalish temperatures for January (about 28F/-2C versus the -2F/-19C we had most of this past week) though, honestly, between our latest giveaway, the goings on in our Playtesting Lab, and a few more fun developments that will hopefully be headed your way soon we haven't had time to give much thought to how freezing it's been. It is, however, a little surreal to think that PAX is just over 50 days away. Gah! I promise, there will be all sorts of details about fun new things and what you can look for during PAX in the very near future. For now, let's get down to the Week in Geekdom.


It's no secret that 2014 was chock-full of comic book movies. Well, what if they were all one movie? This trailer gives us exactly that.

Rich Ross, the new president of the Discovery Channel, is planning to return to programming akin to what the channel was once known for. No more anaconda stunts or misleading 'documentaries'. 

Fans of the Belcher family rejoice! Bob's Burgers has been renewed for a sixth season!

The new season of Game of Thrones will premiere on April 12th. If that's just too long for you to wait, two episodes are being digitally remastered and will be shown on your local IMAX theater in the interim.

The ladies of Downton Abbey playing Cards Against Humanity. That is all.

This is a library of over 2200 MS-DOS games available to you for the low, low price of free.

When people think of virtual reality gaming, the Oculus Rift almost immediately springs to mind. The Sulon Cortex is in the process of trying to change all that.


The bitter cold of this past week was at the forefront of the minds of just about everyone in North America. If a team of Stanford researchers is successful in their venture to create hyper insulative cloth, cold may be merely a passing thought.

Biologists at the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences believe they may have unraveled the mystery behind what allows certain individuals to be able to practice the art of throat singing.

When two stars get a bit too close to one another the gravity between them can result in strange and astounding behaviors. Little things like, say, time and light being distorted. 

Speaking of the wonders that gravity is capable of, turns out that the force may just be the thing that allowed our universe to survive in the presence of the Higgs boson.

The Hubble telescope delivered some new images of the Eagle Nebula to us this week and they are positively astounding.

Did you miss any of CES 2015? Catch up with the best and the worst of what the show had to offer. Amongst the highlights of CES is this perpetual motion machine.

We've gotten a steady stream of buzz about self-driving cars, but Australian company Seeing Machines wants to add some automated safety features to existing vehicles. The firm has developed a series of sensors that alerts your car if you are fatigued or distracted, allowing the car to try and bring your attention back to the road.

Microsoft hasn't confirmed it yet, but this screenshot may depict the successor to Internet Explorer. This. Is. Spartan.

We've talked a bit about how 3D printing can revolutionize palliative care for those individuals who have lost limbs and the technology continues to expand in that arena by leaps and bounds. Check out the newest incarnation of 3D printed prosthetic limbs.

The discovery of antibiotics has had a massive impact on public health and even how we cultivate our food, but their overuse is resulting in resistant strains of bacteria among other unforeseen maladies. Researchers at Northeastern University may just have a response for this.

Does the temperature of your nose determine the probability that you'll get sick? Researchers at Yale believe that it may.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery
Image Credit

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (better known under the acronym JPL) has produced some incredible technologies during its history, but it's not always serious business for the organization. Check out these beautiful, fun, and informative posters that JPL put together advertising to would-be travelers to various exoplanets.

It took him two years to complete, but player Koala_Steamed was able to build a fully functional word processor in Minecraft.

How much snow does it take to cancel school in Canada? What is Point Nemo? What are the least populated areas of North America? These infographic maps will answer these and so much more.

The alphabet, as brought to you by Marvel. 

A team of Polish archaeologists have unearthed what may be the world's oldest palindrome. 

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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Nomnoms! Wild Rice Soup

If this post comes out with a misspelling or two, those can almost certainly be attributed to the fact that it was written from beneath a half dozen layers of sweaters/blankets and at least one pair of gloves. Ok, I’m not actually quite so bundled up, but it’s pretty darn brisk out there right now. January has announced itself with a mighty cold snap. Temperatures in the city have managed to creep up to 20 degrees (-6.67 degrees Celsius), but we’re preparing for them to drop down to -4 (-20 degrees Celsius) as the day goes on and this looks to be the base case until this upcoming weekend. Woo winter in New England! (cue our Canadian readers laughing at our version of ‘cold’)  

Aside from thermal armor formed from layers of sweaters, there are plenty of other solid defenses against the wiles of winter. Foremost amongst these is spellbook’s worth of solid recipes that will warm you from the inside out. We talked about one of these a little while back and today I’ll share another recipe that’s low on effort but huge on flavor (also, wrapping your hands around the sides of a full soup bowl is an excellent way to warm up).

This is a hearty, heavy soup that, when accompanied by your favorite crunchy bread, can easily stand as a meal. While you can certainly follow the steps below and get a tasty result, I’ve found that if you make the soup in the morning or even the night before and leave it in a crockpot on a low setting until it's time to serve (or, alternatively, have it sit over the lowest heat on your stove for a couple hours before serving) and you’ll get an even deeper and richer flavor.   

Difficulty: Easy
Availability of Ingredients: Somewhat Common
Gadgetry: Optional
Feeds: 6-10 nerds
Time Till Noms: 60-85 minutes, but the last 15-20 minutes of that are passive. (Note, as mentioned above, leaving the soup to sit for several hours is the real secret ingredient)
Required Equipment: A large pot, a smaller pot, a cutting board, a sharp knife, measuring cups, measuring spoons.
Optional Equipment: A slow cooker/crockpot

1 medium-sized onion
½ pound (0.23kg) mushrooms or broccoli
½ cup celery
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken or mild vegetable broth
2 cups wild rice
½ teaspoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
1 cup of half and half (milk or cream may be substituted)
¼ cup dry sherry wine
A few fingerfuls of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Cook the wild rice according to the instructions on the bag/box.

Step 2: While the rice is cooking, chop the onion and celery into small (0.25-0.50 inch; 0.64-1.27cm) pieces, then chop your mushrooms/broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Unlike the butternut squash soup we featured a while back, this soup does not get pureed at the end so you want your vegetables to start at a good bite size for easy spoonability.

Step 3: Add the butter to your large pot and bring the burner to a medium heat. Once the butter has completely melted, add the onion and celery. Saute these in the butter until they turn translucent. If you are using mushrooms, add them to the pot when there’s just a bit of color left in the celery.

Step 4: Once you get to the end of Step 2 slowly add in the flour, stirring constantly to ensure the vegetables get evenly coated and the flour doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. After all the flour has been added and incorporated, pour the broth in (also slowly while stirring constantly). This mixture will be very thick and somewhat difficult to stir at first, but it will get easier to work with as more liquid comes into play.

Step 4: After you’ve poured all the broth, add in both the wild rice and all of the seasonings (minus the parsley); stir until everything is well mixed. Toss in the broccoli if you're going the cruciferous route.

Step 5: Reduce the heat to slightly less than medium, then add both the half and half and sherry wine. Bring all the ingredients up to a uniform temperature and garnish with parsley and that’s it; you have yourself some yummy wild rice soup!


I’ve never cooked wild rice before. Where do I get it and how do I know what to do?

Wild rice is a dense, high-protein grass seed (it’s not really rice and it has more protein than quinoa[1]) that’s characterized by its long cylindrical shape and hard, dark outer shell. Despite it not actually being rice, it’s generally sold alongside other types of rice in your grocery store. If you’ve never cooked it before, here are four ways you can do so. Or you can do what I do and use a box of this stuff, which I find provides the perfect quantity of cooked grains and comes with a seasoning blend that enhances the soup. The Far East boxed stuff also has explicit and easy-to-follow instructions.

I’m lactose intolerant/vegan, so dairy products are a no-go. Can I substitute almond, soy, or coconut milk?

Soy milk would probably be your best bet, though I imagine any of those alternatives would be ok. The half and half simply acts as a thickening agent and provides the soup with a liquid base. So long as your substitute can do those two things without skewing the flavors, it can be a one-for-one switch.

Does it matter what type of onion I use?

Not particularly. I tend to use yellow or other medium-intensity onions for this soup, but feel free to experiment if you have a favorite variety.

Best of luck with your kitchen experiments!

[1] Lustgarden, Michael. (2013). “Wild Rice: The Protein-Rich Grain That Almost Nobody Knows About!” The Whole Grains Council.
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This Week in Geekdom

Hi everyone; hope you're all having a good weekend so far and that 2015 is off to a great start for you. We're inching back towards normalcy here after the holidays and my stubborn head cold so, barring unforeseen crazy, we'll be 100% back on our standard publication schedule starting today. Bonus: if you didn't see it go live on Friday, Elder Gias is running another giveaway! Ok, are you back from checking out the contest? Let's get down to the Week in Geekdom.

Marvel is wasting absolutely no time in 2015 and has started the year running on all cylinders. They began the build-up to their Ant-Man movie on Friday with this, ehm, appropriately-sized trailer. The full-sized version of the trailer can be seen this Tuesday during the debut of Agent Carter.


CES 2015 is set to begin in only two days. Here are some predictions about what may come out of the show.

It's no secret that the prevalence of smart devices is prompting our bodies to respond to these instruments in novel ways. The newest such change: superpowered thumbs.

The Large Hadron Collider is not only once again fully operational, but it is being readied to carry out experiments at double its running power.

File this one under Not Sure If This Is A Good Thing: researchers at the University of Maryland and NICTA (an Australian research center) are having robots learn to cook by having them watch YouTube videos.

It seems improbable, but it's a scenario that's allegedly played out a handful of times in our planet's history. What would happen if every volcano on Earth erupted at once?

Feats of Nerdery

It took him the better part of a work day, but Kenneth Brandon managed to solve the world's largest Rubik's Cube.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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F.E.A.R. on PC Giveaway!

Time for another giveaway! A couple of weeks ago I did a necro-review of F.E.A.R. for the PC. Now I am giving away a copy of the game for any interested readers out there.

The rules for this giveaway are as follows:

1)      Join our Steam group, if you are not already a member, you can join HERE.
2)      Go to THIS discussion thread in the Steam group.
3)      Post a reply in the thread containing both of the following:

a.       A quote from the F.E.A.R. review that makes you interested in playing the game (the quote must not be the same quote used by the response posted directly above yours in the thread, which does not apply to the first poster).
b.    In my review I stated that the music of the game sounded like it was inspired by the music from a movie. State the name of that movie.

Disclaimer: You cannot win if you are one of our recent winners. (specifically: “Cali Yo”, sorry, but you will have more opportunities in the future.)

You have until Friday January 9th at 8 pm EST to enter. At that time, I will make a list of the eligible entries and I will use Random.org to pick a winner.

Good Luck!
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Upcoming Awesomeness in 2015!

Happy 2015! Wow, it seems like we were just marveling in the new shininess of 2014 (or 2013 for that matter) and somehow we're already in Back to the Future territory. I don't know about you guys, but I get a kick out of comparing the cinematic predictions of the late 80s-early 90s once the dates featured in the films actually roll around. And hey, we may actually get hoverboards!
While we wait for this potentially excellent way to commute, we can distract ourselves with other goodness that's a bit more likely to make an appearance this year. As in previous years, all of the forecasted awesome presented below is divided by media type. Projects and titles are included in this post only if they have at least a specified month for their release. There's none of this vague "sometime in late 2015 business." So if you look below and don't see a certain game or movie, it may be because that project doesn't have a release date yet.

Before we tackle individual titles, there'll be some (hopefully) fun new goodness right here on the Care and Feeding of Nerds in 2015.

New Site Stuff in 2015 (and some old, but still exciting stuff)!

First up, there will be at least 2 contests between now and March. We won't disclose the details of the contests just yet, but the prizes for these will be a copy of XCOM: the Board Game and Star Wars: Armada respectively. Stay tuned for these!

Speaking of board games, we're very pleased to announce that we've become the official media partner of the Game Makers Guild. This should translate into more reviews and more Developer Dialogues among other things. All the board games! (Important Note: you definitely don't have to be a member of the Guild to take advantage of our Playtesting Lab!)

We're in the very early stages of this, but we're in the process of building what we hope will become a video channel on YouTube. We're hoping to feature gameplay of various board games, tutorials on costume components and recipes, and, just maybe, some fantastically snarky video game play from the GIR and Elder Gias. This whole process is very new to the three of us, so we'll see how this goes.

The Care and Feeding of Nerds will have a presence at at least three different conventions in 2015: PAX East, Gen Con, and Boston FIG. At the very least, we'll be giving you live coverage from the floor of each of these. More details for each convention will be forthcoming!

There'll also be plenty of new reviews, recipes, tutorials and general musing. As always, feel free to give us a shout if there's something you'd like to see or if you have any other feedback about what we're doing.

Image Credit: DC Entertainment

2014 was chock full of gargantuan changes for a number of major comic franchises and, if all goes accordingly, we should continue to see plenty of new comic material as a result of these changes.

Thor #4 is slated to hit shelves on January 28 and promises some serious Thor versus Thor action!

Marvel took over the licenses for all Star Wars related titles today and their first act of publishing business is to release the remastered graphic novel versions of the screenplays for the original trilogy. A New Hope is already at your local comic shop and Empire will be available in March.

DC, still trying to play catch-up, is banking heavily on the success of the all-digital Batman prequel series, Batman: Arkham Knight. The comic will be available for purchase in February and a companion video game by Rocksteady Studios and Interactive Entertainment will go on sale on June 2.  


Most regular series make their mid-season return in January after ceding their timeslots to various holiday specials. A handful of new shows are slated to premiere at the cusp of the new year as well. The release dates listed below are guaranteed only for U.S. audiences. Dates and times may vary based on your utility provider.

Agent Carter - Tuesday, January 6.
Archer - Thursday, January 8.
12 Monkeys - Friday, January 16.
The Musketeers - Saturday, January 17.
The Walking Dead - Sunday, February 8.
Better Call Saul - Sunday, February 8.
Vikings - Thursday, February 19.
Once Upon A Time - Sunday, March 1.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Tuesday, March 3.
Outlander- Saturday, April 4.

Season 6 of the Venture Bros. can't be included in the above because it still has no definite release date but, if last year's teaser trailer is to be believed, we should be getting this as well sometime this year. <>


2015 will follow in the footsteps of the past few years and have its fair share of sequels, prequels, and reboots, but those will take on a slightly different format this year. We're slated to get quite a few very-long-haul sequels (set in real-time decades after their predecessor films), as well as installations of established franchises that aim to present alternate vantages and timelines. Also, STAR WARS!

Spare Parts - A motley crew of high school tinkerers form a robotics club and attempt to compete against engineering powerhouse MIT.
Jupiter Ascending - After months of intense editing, we'll finally get a glimpse of this sci-fi epic  wherein a destitute human woman comes to grips with her unimaginable destiny as would-be Queen of the Universe.
Seventh Son - Game of Thrones' Kit Harrington attempts to assume the mantle of Protector Against the Supernatural and, specifically, evil in the form of Julianne Moore.
What We Do In The Shadows  - A macabre comedy about roommates who also happen to be immortal, bloodthirsty vampires. 
Chappie - Chappie is the first instance of the Singularity. The film, starring Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver, details humanity's response to the first fully sentient AI.
Insurgent - In the sequel to Divergent, Tris Prior must navigate the political and military tensions set in motion on her initiation day that now threaten to rent human society asunder.
Home - Dreamworks presents this unconventional road trip featuring a human girl and a member of the overconfident alien race that has taken over the Earth.
Selfless - A man of extraordinary wealth lies dying and chooses to undergo a radical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a young man. 
Avengers: Age of Ultron - Tony Stark attempts to bolster the ranks of those attempting to keep peace on the planet when his efforts go horribly awry.
Mad Max: Fury Road - The title says it all.
Tomorrowland - A precocious teenager and a former child prodigy inventor embark on a perilous journey to the titular locale.
B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations - Dreamworks' second entry on the year details the goings on at the paranormal agency dedicated to protecting humans from mischievous spirits.
Jurassic World - It has been 22 years since the events of Jurassic Park and the lush island is now a fully functional dinosaur-themed park. All seems well until someone gets the bright idea to start splicing dinosaur genes and creating new species. What could go wrong? 
Terminator Genisys - Following the events of the rest of the Terminator franchise, Kyle Reese finds himself in an alternate timeline. He teams up with Sarah Connor in an attempt to prevent Judgement Day.
Minions - Everyone's favorite yellow pill-shaped sidekicks are back and again working beside the would-be evil masters of the world.
Ant-Man - Dr. Hank Pym is brought into the Marvel cinematic fold (without his wife).
Pixels - 80s era video game characters have come to life and are now rampaging in New York City. A handful of classic arcade game champions may be humanity's only hope.
The Fantastic Four - Their comic may be getting shut down, but that doesn't mean The Fantastic Four won't get their cinematic reboot.
Hitman: Agent 47 - Based on the Hitman game franchise, a professional assassin joins forces with a woman seeking to shed light on the mysteries of her family's past.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials - The heroes of  last year's the Maze Runner believed that their strife was at an end. Little did they know it was only the beginning.
Victor Frankenstein - A recounting of the life of the infamous doctor from the perspective of Igor.
The Last Witch Hunter - Vin Diesel is the titular hunter of occult forces on the loose in the city of New York.
Gem and the Holograms - It's a veritable 80s bonanza as former Brat Packers take up the live-action mantle of the classic cartoon.
Peanuts - Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang make their big screen debut.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - The final installment of the Hunger Games quadrilogy will pit Katniss and her erstwhile allies in District 13 in the ultimate battle against President Snow and the status quo.
The Martian - The cinematic version of the excellent book will give us the account of Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded on Mars.
Midnight Special - A father journeys with his son upon learning that the child has unique powers.
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens - Trying to temper expectations since we're still the better part of a year away. But...NEW STAR WARS!!!

Board Games/RPGs

Most board games publish with quarterly guidance (i.e. 'sometime in 1Q15'), and releases usually coincide with the major board game conventions. However, we are slated to get a not-insignificant number of games that we first laid our eyes on during Gen Con 2014 in the next few months. Also, quite a few games do have finite release dates. A comprehensive list of the latter can be found here. 

PC/Video Games

Game Informer has put together this excellent listing of those video games with confirmed release dates that we'll be seeing in 2015.

Looks like we're in for all sorts of awesome! Here's to a happy and healthy 2015!

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