Showing posts with label Venture Bros. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Venture Bros. Show all posts

Upcoming Awesomeness in 2016!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2016 is already treating you well and that the year is off to a great start. Composing this post has become a fun tradition in itself both because it elicits a little nostalgia when I look over similar posts from previous years (speaking of, here are the entries for 2015, 2014, and 2013) and looking ahead to all the forthcoming awesome is always fun. So let's get to it, shall we?

New Site Stuff in 2016

It's no secret that the pacing of new posts has slowed in the past few months and that's something I think we can all agree isn't the best. The goal is to change that, but, not gonna lie guys, that's going to be tough to do in 2016. A good chunk of this upcoming year is going to be devoted to studying for (and taking) a handful of professional certification exams. If all goes well and I pass all the exams on the first try then this will be the only year that gets consumed in this not-so-fun way. Fingers crossed!
That's not to say that the Care and Feeding of Nerds is going on ice. Not at all! There will definitely be plenty of novel content and, hopefully, a few contests coming your way. It's just that there will likely be a bit less of both in 2016 when compared to previous years.

But there will be goodness! We'll be bringing you coverage from at least two conventions: PAX East 2016 and the Boston Festival of Indie Games. There's a very good chance that we may add a few conventions that have never been covered on the site before, which we're really excited about.


The past two years have seen some pretty massive upheavals in the comics world, but 2016 is shaping up to be a bit more tranquil as most major publishers appear to want to enjoy their new status quo. Here are 5 upcoming titles that we can look forward to in the very near future and a whole heap more spanning the comic, manga, and graphic novel realms.


January/February are often rife with mid-season premieres and introductions of fun new programs. Here's what we can add to our viewing queues in the next few weeks (premiere dates and times may vary based on your location and cable provider). Ahhhh...X-Files....Venture Bros!!

The Shannara Chronicles: (MTV) January 5th 
Colony: (USA) January 14th
The Flash: (The CW) January 19th
Agent Carter: (ABC) January 19th
Arrow: (The CW) January 20th
Supernatural: (The CW) January 20th
DC's Legends of Tomorrow: (The CW) January 21st
The X-Files: (FOX) January 24th
The Venture Bros: (Cartoon Network) February 7th
The Walking Dead: (AMC) February 14th


As with most recent years, the trend in 2016 will be lots of reboots and sequels, with a bit of novel content tossed in here and there.

The 5th Wave - The Earth is devastated by successive waves of alien attacks. One girl asserts herself and bands with fellow survivors to reclaim the planet.
Ip Man 3 - Donnie Yen returns to the title role and takes a stand against a band of crooked property managers and cruel gangsters.
Synchronicity - A physicist invents a time machine only to have his work fall into the hands of a femme fatale.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - The film treatment of the wildly popular adaptation of the Jane Austen classic.
Deadpool -  The Merc with a Mouth gets to incite havoc on the big screen.
Allegiant - The cinematic version of the Divergent young adult novel series continues with this third installment. The content of the book bearing the name of the movie will be divided into two films, akin to what we saw with the Hunger Games.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice - The Man of Steel and Gotham's Knight square off first against one another, then against a novel Earth-threatening foe.
Gods of Egypt - An ordinary thief finds himself drawn into a divine conflict.
The Jungle Book - The classic Rudyard Kipling tale will be the latest of Disney's animated films to get the live-action treatment.
The Huntsman Winter's War - Chris Hemsworth returns to the role of the Huntsman and faces the wrath of not one, but two evil sorceress queens.
Ratchet and Clank - The beloved title characters leap from the console to the big screen as they race to save the galaxy.  
Captain America: Civil War - The tension wrought from the developments seen in Age of Ultron boils over into open conflict and threatens to tear the Avengers apart.
X-Men: Apocalypse - The world's first mutant, Apocalypse, intends to obliterate all life on Earth; the X-Men band together an an attempt to stop him.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - The heroes on a half shell are back to defend New York City from a new threat.
Warcraft - The monolithic video game franchise expands to a new medium.
Independence Day: Resurgence - The extraterrestrials that first threatened humanity 20 years ago have spent the past two decades preparing for and plotting for their shot at vengeance.
The BFG - Roald Dahl's beloved tale is brought once more to the big screen.
Ghostbusters - This revisiting of the 80s franchise features a mostly female cast.
Star Trek Beyond -  The next installment of the rebooted movie series has JJ Abrams' thumbprint all over it.
Suicide Squad - Some of Gotham's most notorious criminals are recruited to undertake black ops-esque missions in exchange for clemency.
Pete's Dragon - A remake of the 1977 original in which an orphan flees from his abusive adoptive parents to the company of his pet dragon.
Spectral - Supernatural beings have taken over New York City and a very special team of operatives are brought in to restore order.
Patient Zero - After humanity is decimated by a horrific pandemic that renders most of humanity into violent rage monsters, a lone survivor finds he's able to communicate with them.
Gambit -  Not to be outdone by Deadpool, the Ragin' Cajun will get his own movie.
Doctor Strange - Benedict Cumberbatch assumes the title role as a ruined surgeon whose life is forever changed after encountering a sorcerer.
Moana -  The only daughter of a chief of a South Seas tribe sets off to explore the wilds of the Pacific.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - The first of the Star Wars spinoff films focuses on a group of Rebels seeking to steal the structural plans of the Death Star.
Passengers - A spacecraft careens through the depths of space on a journey to distant planet when one of its stasis chambers malfunctions, causing a passenger to wake 60 years too early.
Assassin's Creed - Michael Fassbender stars in this movie adaptation of the wildly popular video game series.

Board Games/RPGs

As mentioned in a couple of our round-up posts, most board game developers, even the largest ones, operate on a quarterly schedule for their forecasts and releases with the latter generally coinciding with major conventions. However, if all goes well we should see several of the games we got a chance to try during Gen Con 2015. Also, the always-excellent folks at BoardGameGeek have put together this compendium of what's slated to hit our tables in 2016.

Video Games

Video game releases tend to be a bit more precise than their tabletop brethren in terms of their release scheduling, but the volume of titles that will be available for PCs and consoles is gargantuan. Game Informer did a commendable job of gathering up all those dates into this comprehensive list.

It's already shaping up to be an excellent year! Here's to a very happy and healthy 2016!
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This Week in Geekdom

Why hello there Halloween. I didn't expect to see you quite so...soon? If faster-than-light travel were possible, I'd be inclined to say we've superseded Lorenz Transformations territory and gone straight to warp speed at the rate the second half of 2015 has gone. Just crazy. Anyhow, enough of my time-travelling ramblings and on to the Week in Geekdom!


We're only a few weeks away from the release of Fallout 4. If you aren't psyched yet, perhaps this trailer will get you in the post-apocalyptic mood.

Want a challenge? Try to name all 52 of these classic video games from individual screenshots.


Venturoos, we have a date for the premiere of Season 6! We'll finally be able to lay our eyes on fresh Venture Bros goodness on January 24, 2016! Can't wait that long? Perhaps the latest trailer will help tide us over.

Speaking of long-awaited trailers, we finally have a look at the upcoming season of Jessica Jones.


Who's ready for this week's awesome images from around the galaxy? Check out the most complete photograph of the Milky Way that we, as a species, have been able to take to date.

And take comfort in the fact that we have images like that one, as it turns out that some of the largest structures in the universe don' exist?

While we're on the subject of existence, a cadre of researchers believe they've come up with a viable response to Fermi's Paradox: up to 92% of all planets (and, by extension, the life on said structures) haven't actually been formed yet.

Are you a Windows user who has been patiently (or not-so-patiently) waiting for Firefox to release a 64-bit version of the browser? Well that long sojourn will come to an end on November 3rd.

The most recent printing of Physical Review Letters includes these details as to how a group of physicists were able to experimentally realize something that had only existed in the theoretical realm: a quantum Hilbert hotel.

Image source
When vocaloids and dancing around in the privacy of your living room just aren't scratching your idol itch anymore, Japanese robot-maker DMM will allow you to program your very own partner-in-fanaticism. 

File this under: What Can't 3D Printing Do? Researchers at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) have created a printable human tooth that destroys bacteria on contact with its surface, eliminating the accumulation of plaque and preventing the formation of cavities. 

Are you planning on paying a visit to a coral reef in the near future? The latest edition of Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology details why you should skip the sunscreen.

The just-discovered-three-weeks-ago Asteroid 2015 TB145 will be scoping out Earth this Halloween (presumably to observe the practice of trick-or-treating in action).

Is it possible to create your own time zone? Sort of. Read here for the story of two friends who set out to do exactly that.

General Awesomeness

The newly elected Prime Minister of Canada also happens to be a member of the Rebel Alliance.

Harry Potter will be getting the Broadway treatment next year when it becomes a two-part play debuting in London's West End.

Have an extra 60,000 GBP lying around? Perhaps you'd be interested in purchasing this newly-discovered map of Middle Earth fully annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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GiR by GIR: Grey Goo

I’ve long bemoaned the lack of classic real time strategy (RTS) offerings in recent years. The fact that Starcraft 2 is one of the only contenders in the field says a lot about the state of the genre; I’m not even talking Heart of the Swarm but, rather, Wings of Liberty. Yes, there have been some attempts with titles like Company of Heroes 2 or Planetary Annihilation, but the former focuses on strategic point control (and frankly isn’t very good) and the latter was a botched Kickstarter that enraged its backers. Sure Planetary Annihilation released eventually, but when you offer early/beta access for as high as $99 USD then discount the title as low as $5 after launch you tend to piss some folks off. With competition like that it's really no surprise I guess that Starcraft 2 remains the dominant RTS title.
Petroglyph Games takes aim to end the long RTS drought with their latest game Grey Goo, presumably named after the hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving self-replicating nano-machines. In true RTS fashion you must gather a resource (catalyst), build bases, and construct and manage armies while staying under a supply cap to complete objectives in the single player campaign or crush opposing players in online (or LAN) multiplayer. There are 3 factions:  Beta, Human, and the eponymous Grey Goo. Each of these possesses their own Epic Unit and, while there is some overlap between the Beta and Human, each is more varied and unique than you might suspect, with the Goo being wholly unique.   

The Beta are space faring aliens stranded far from home and looking to return. They use modular hubs of varying sizes to build and power their structures as well as any subsequent add-ons (tank/artillery/air). Each add-on only confers its benefits to structures attached to the same hub. These hubs have no real restrictions on where they can be placed other than you need to have vision of an area large enough for placement. The Beta’s primary unit production structures are factories, with small ones producing single units and large ones producing three units at a time; these units can all be the same or all different and these options are based on what add-ons are attached to the hub the factory is. The Beta employ everything from foot soldiers to big stompy mechs in their fighting forces. For static base defense the Beta use a combination of walls and posts which can be mounted by some units.
As you might guess, this faction's strength is derived directly from its adaptability and flexibility in positioning. For example, say you need to protect your base from an early rush, but all you have is infantry. You can mount them on the wall/posts and they can soak up a bunch more damage. When the enemy pulls back you're free to dismount and give chase. You can also swap what units are mounted as you please at no cost versus being stuck with, say, the wrong type of static defense.  There are also three air combat units: scout, fighter, and bomber, all which require the construction of a hanger. Each hanger can support four aircraft in a way that might remind you of  the Command & Conquer (C&C) series, rather than the Star/Warcraft series in which the number of aerial units is independent of the number of structures produced. The Betas' Epic Unit is the monstrous Hand of Ruk, a giant floating mobile weapons platform surrounded by a ring of posts, similar to those found on Beta’s walls, which can be mounted in the same manner to bolster the Hand’s already considerable firepower.    
The Humans appear less Human than one might expect, as their units consist primarily of drones and fully automated defenses. Their build structure is more limited than that of the Beta in that every structure must be powered and connected to your Central HQ via conduits which act as roads/power couplings of sorts. This makes rapid expansion far more difficult than with the Beta who can build wherever they see fit. Human structures can, however, teleport to any available space as long as it’s still connected to the conduits you’ve laid down. The Humans use assembly bays, which function similarly to the Betas' factories, the key difference being that if you are careful you can have a Human add-on apply to multiple unit-producing structures where this functionality is impossible for Beta due to the shape of their hubs.

While the Beta had versatility in their base defenses the Humans arguably claim defensive superiority by virtue of their superiority. Unlike their Beta counterparts, the Humans have more traditional “turret emplacements” that come in 4 flavors:  Anti-Heavy, Anti-Air, Artillery, and Detector. The ability to safely build these defensive structures in the heart of your base and then teleport them to anywhere along your conduits can be an amazing asset and the ability to create dense clusters, as opposed to the long thin walls of Beta, make them incredibly deadly and effective. While it is true enemies can try to cut power to such an arrangement by destroying key links in the conduit network you’ve laid out, Sentinels can always just teleport to another powered section, or eventually be upgraded to function even if disconnected from the conduit network entirely. Human air units, while differing in stats and appearance, work much the same as Betas' in role (scout/fighter/bomber) and hanger dependence. Finally, the Human’s Epic unit is the Alpha: a massive construct that can absorb and redirect damage back at foes.
A pack of Goo units falls to the mighty Human Alpha
The titular Grey Goo - Stands? Sits?  Rests? What does a giant blob do exactly? alone. It is truly unique, not only to this game but to any other RTS I’ve played. The goo player starts with a single Mother Goo which can not only absorb catalyst like the other factions to grow, but can also absorb enemy units and structures, or even other bits of Goo as well. When the Mother Goo reaches a certain size it can break off a chunk of itself and, depending on the size of the piece you break off, you can make anything from clusters of small units to singular hulks or even more Mother Goos to explore the map and seek out more food (food being anything that isn’t already Goo). While the Goo has a tech tree and various upgrades, it does not have the same requirements and restrictions on things like the Add-ons of the other factions. All the Goo needs is sufficient material and mass to spawn whatever it is you are trying to make. There is no base-building to speak of. Rather, the Goo is always on the move, hunting for more matter and catalyst to incorporate into itself. To facilitate its endless quest of hunger, the Goo is not bound by normal movement restrictions and can cross any terrain, even that which normally would not be accessible to the other factions. With unparalleled mobility and the ability to spawn infinite copies of itself (given enough resources) the Goo is a survivor and a powerful foe that is extremely difficult to eradicate fully. Some larger Goo units can even be upgraded to create lower tier units when destroyed. The Goo’s Epic unit is the truly monstrous Purger. Made by combining multiple Mother Goos, the Purger can, of course, ignore terrain restrictions but also dish out massive area-of-effect damage at extreme ranges; its only weakness is a lack of anti-air capabilities. 
A Mother Goo spawns a copy of itself while I examine some Tech upgrades.
The UI feels a little large at times but you get used to it.
But enough about the technical aspects on each faction, “How does the game play?”  The answer to that is this: similar to how you think a game would if you put C&C in a blender with Starcraft and pushed the difficulty all the way up. While the single player campaign does a good job of introducing you to the nuances of each faction as you play through each race in turn (Beta/Human/Goo), I felt the difficulty curve was a little odd. I routinely had to downgrade myself from Normal to Easy during the Beta campaign but often found I could edge up from Normal to Difficult on the Humans. Overall though the game feels challenging in a good way, as I personally feel too many games these days do too much in the way of hand-holding. One of the more interesting aspects Grey Goo has added into the equation is along with normal Fog of War and cloaked units, there are terrain features like jungle and dense brush that block line of sight and elevation effects, which allow some interesting ambush and tactical possibilities.
Petroglyph didn’t skimp on the frills either. Every unit for all factions has fully voiced and unique barks and, while hearing that, “Your refinery is under attack!” for the 10,000th time might get obnoxious I found it no worse than other AAA RTS titles. The levels themselves are designed fairly well and the soundtrack is pretty good. The video cut scenes, along with the fully animated and voiced mission briefings, are easily on par with anything ATVI/Blizzard can put out. The story itself isn’t the most original, but it’s enjoyable enough for a fan of science fiction and personally I enjoy the involvement of von Neumann Probes. 

The campaign is not quite as long as I would have liked (5 Missions per faction from a $50 larger studio title), but the difficulty ensures it’ll take you a few days to get through it and, without getting into spoilers, it does end on a cliffhanger that implies there’s more to come. Currently people seem to still be in the learning stages and I’ve had multiplayer matches range in experience from a bumbling tug of war for control of the map to brutal routs where it’s over before one player can even find their footing. That is, when, I'm able to stay connected to all members of a match. Frustratingly, the online multiplayer is not where it should be considering this is not an Indie title/release. I'm not the only one as the Steam forums seem to have a decent number of  others complaining about similar situations or random drops and disconnects. Paradox claims they are working on a fix, but I have yet to see one implemented.  

The bottom line though is that Grey Goo is a breath of fresh air for anyone who felt the RTS genre that had gotten stale on shoddy AI, lackluster single player modes, and price gouging microtransactions or DLC. Even if the story can’t hold up to the sweeping epic of Warcraft 3, the gameplay itself certainly can and does. I strongly recommend anyone who is a fan of the RTS genre to pick up Grey Goo as soon as they get the chance.  
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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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Round Up: Gen Con 2014

And we’re back! By all accounts Gen Con was a solid all-around experience. Demos were played, tournament spoils were won, friends were made, dungeons were conquered, and costumes were on display at just about every turn. There were a few bumps, which we’ll get to in a bit, but by and large it was a wonderful con. In keeping with all the other convention round-ups featured on the blog, I’ll tackle the goings-on at Gen Con by publisher, then give overarching feedback on the con as a whole. So, without further ado…
Fantasy Flight Games (FFG)

Powerhouse publisher Fantasy Flight adopted what I’ll term the PAX East methodology and released a series of major announcements in the days immediately preceding Gen Con. Arguably the most sensational of these press snippets was news that FFG would have a playable demo of XCOM: the Board Game in Indy. Unsurprisingly, the wait times to get in on such a demo stretched over multiple hours, but I was finally able to snag a seat on Sunday. So, does it live up to the hype?

Never in my life has a board game elicited such an intense, visceral reaction just from what are ostensibly its standard mechanics. While the iconography used on the board and the various components are directly ported from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the actual gameplay and resulting player engagement feels like it was wrought from X-COM: UFO Defense. Players assume one of four available roles to govern a specific aspect of either base management or XCOM relations with external factions. The order and degree to which these roles influence play is guided and dictated by the free downloadable companion app which provides both structure and anxiety. Only the base commander has access to the app and must relay the information it provides to his or her fellow players. This most commonly takes the form of a countdown. It’ll be, “Chief Scientist, you have 15 seconds to act…10…5…0. Squad Leader, you have 60 seconds to assign soldiers to missions and base defense.” 

It will get your heart pounding while simultaneously breaking it in a way that’s all too familiar to players of the source games. XCOM: the Board Game accommodates 1-4 players and is scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

- The other merited-hours-of-wait-time-for-the-demo title was Star Wars: Imperial Assault. Think the best parts of Star Wars: Epic Duels made both broader and deeper. 2-5 players find themselves in the midst of a series of skirmishes directly tied to the events immediately following the Battle of Yavin. Each player takes on a specific role either as part of the Rebel Alliance or the Imperial forces threatening to annihilate them. The game can also be played Epic Duels style with two players going head-to-head. The game itself is entirely self-contained, with both the campaign and duel modes included in the base set, and is slated to arrive in your local game store in early 2015.

- The addictive spacefaring adventure Star Wars: X-Wing Minis is getting even more robust with the addition of a new faction: bounty hunters. Five new ships (in addition to the capital-class Slave I) make up the Scum and Villainy set of expansions. The Most Wanted expansion includes three new ships (one is a basic Y-Wing with a custom paint job) while the remaining entrants in the Scum and Villainy lineup are one-off, self-contained sets. All of the ships will be available for purchase in the fourth quarter of this year. As a related aside on capital-class ships, I got a chance to play with a full contingent of them during one of my X-Wing tournaments and can confidently say that they add a whole new dimension to the base game.
- While we're on the subject of capital-class ships, get ready for many more of those as they are the focal point for Star Wars: Armada. It's effectively the next evolutionary step for X-Wing, adding a number of enhancements to a now-familiar set of base mechanics. While the two games are not inherently compatible, it's fairly easy for an X-Wing player to pick up the jist of Armada. Additionally, you can add individual capital-class ships to your X-Wing game using the latter's Epic Rules. This two-player tactical title is scheduled for a release date in early 2015.

- The beta for the third and final installment of FFG’s gargantuan Star Wars RPG system, Force and Destiny, will be open in the very near future. Click here to check out the rulebook for the beta and sign up to submit your feedback. The other two thirds of the system (Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion) will be getting new fully scoped campaign sets.

- Eldrich Horror, Netrunner, Warhammer 40K: Conquest, and Cosmic Encounter will be getting expansion sets between the last quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015. 

- FFG's Warhammer RPG system now has a full FAQ and a compilation of all errata from the first edition of the GM's manual. 

- FFG is beginning its foray into digital gaming with BattleLore: Command. The tactical combat game is designed primarily for mobile use (on both Android and iOS), but can be played on a PC as well. It will be available for download in the fourth quarter of this year.


The maker of Pathfinder seemed keen to participate in what was definitely the overarching trend of the con: melding digital and tabletop gaming. Just hours before doors opened, Paizo announced that it would be partnering with Obsidian Entertainment (the guys behind Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity) and that the latter party would be producing several all-electronic versions of Paizo’s titles. First on the docket will be a mobile-based version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. While there was an early prototype of the game on hand at the extremely crowded Paizo booth, no release date has been assigned to the project.

In what was certainly no surprise to those familiar with Pathfinder, Paizo took home a sizable number of Ennie Awards during the con including Best Interior Art, Best Cover Art, Best Cartography, Best Free Product, Best Minis, Best Monster/Adversary, Best RPG, and Best Supplement.

Wizards of the Coast (WotC)

For Wizards, the con was pretty much all 5th Edition all the time. That’s not to say that the proverbial staples of Neverwinter and Magic: the Gathering were absent, far from it, just that 5th Edition predictably took center stage. Fans of Neverwinter were rewarded with the news of a new expansion, Tyranny of Dragons

In addition to what seemed like dozens of panels expounding upon the new, highly streamlined (to use their words) rule set, WotC displayed examples from their new line of minis and touched upon the Player’s Handbook for 5th Edition, which just came out today. The guys over at i09 have already put together this helpful breakdown of the Handbook.

Additionally, as part of the celebrations surrounding the 40th birthday of Dungeons & Dragons, WotC released details concerning the D&D anniversary tribute audiobook. Said book, The Legend of Drizzt, is a compilation of 12 stories about, you guessed it, the life and times of everyone’s favorite drow. Longtime Forgotten Realms author R.A. Salvatore provides the text while a cadre of celebrities lend their voices to the project. The book is available for free download here on Audible until September 20th.

Mayfair Games

As the leading sponsor of the con, Mayfair was just about everywhere you turned. Its logo was draped over doorways, its sheep loomed large over the demo hall, and its van was a fixture amongst the food trucks parked just outside. While it certainly commanded attention simply by virtue of those things, Mayfair went the extra mile and hosted what was arguably the most talked about event of the convention by taking the once entirely fictional euro-parody Cones of Dunshire from the NBC show Parks and Recreation (which is set in Indiana) and making it real. The event allegedly sold out in mere seconds and garnered over $20,000 USD, which Mayfair then donated to Gleaner’s Food Bank, the official charity partner of Gen Con.

Asmadi Games

Asmadi had a considerable presence at Gen Con derived more than a little bit from their very own room located directly across from the dealer hall. Said room was the site of many a demo, but also an equal number of absurd and hilarious events including We Didn't Playtest This Resistance Movement At All and the Ridiculympics. The Playtest mashup actually came in several different flavors and met with rave reviews. We also got to see the newest incarnation of Consequential, which has been a long time in the making and looks better than ever! 

Flying Frog Productions

Flying Frog made sure to put one of the most highly anticipated Kickstarters of 2013 front and center in their booth. Shadows of Brimstone seemed to live up to every ounce of the hype surrounding it, successfully combining the feel of Eldrich Horror with a distinctly western air. 

Indie Pubishers

We talked earlier about the meshing of digital and physical components to create new gaming experiences, but World of Yo-Ho by Volumique sought to take that combination in the most literal way possible. In this fantasy turn-based pirate-themed game your phone is both a source of information and your pawn. The fast-paced play can be modified into either a one-shot experience or an ongoing campaign. Keep an eye out for their Kickstarter, which is set to open in October. 

Gen Con 2014 saw the fruition of several Kickstarter projects we've featured on the blog over the past few years. Thrash-Car made its official debut just a few weeks after going through the final stages of production and Call of Catthulhu was one of the more talked about titles out of the indie publishers.
One of the runaway hits of Gen Con was a nondescript little table off to the side of the Mayfair portion of the demo hall. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes was an ingenious use of the geeky love of solving puzzles, teamwork, and an Oculus Rift. One or more team members sat across from their compatriot wearing a set of Oculus goggles. The be-goggled individual then had a number of minutes (usually 5-6) to describe the components of a bomb depicted by the Rift. Those teammates outside the Rift were left to frantically page through a binder of decryptions and walk their colleague through the process of defusing the bomb.

We also did two separate True Dungeon runs (surviving one and literally crashing and burning in the other). While the monsters were no more or less impressive than in previous years, the props and effects used in some of the puzzles were jaw-dropping. One puzzle involved motion projection onto a table filled with kinetic sand while the intricacies of a steampunk 'fueling tower' had us shaking our heads as we guessed how long it must have taken to build.

While the overall experience was wonderful, the huge draw of Gen Con was palpable. The official attendance number was listed at 56,614, which is an increase of 15.4% year-over-year. There was talk that the convention could expand into the adjoining Lucas Oil Stadium to accommodate future conventions, but what will need to take precedence is the provision of more housing. Though it was often extremely crowded, it appeared as though local businesses were prepared for the nerdy onslaught. So there were lines aplenty, but little danger of not finding something great at the other end.

Finally, all the costumes turned out as well as I could have hoped they would. The last few days leading up to the con were far more stressful than they should have been after the artist I'd commissioned my trident from overreached on the scope of our project and almost didn't finish it. After a flurry of very late night emails and a lot of crossed fingers, the trident arrived with only hours to spare. While it turned out beautifully, I can't say that I'd use that artist again.

The costumes themselves were very well received. There was some minor difficulty getting the GIR's wings to behave and stiletto heels are always a challenge to walk in, but the experience was very positive. All three outfits even made it onto io9! For more pictures, check out our social media pages. Until next time Indy!

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Cosplay: I'm Not That Kind of Doctor

We’re only a few days out from the trek to Indianapolis and the preparations are in full swing. Bags are being packed, wings are being shipped, and dice are itching to be rolled. It’s a whole lot of hurry up and wait in conjunction with periodically reassuring myself that no, there isn’t more work to be done on a costume. It somehow manages to be both anxiety and relief simultaneously. This feeling is also probably due to the fact that, as we've mentioned before, Murphy's Law tends to be on in full force when it comes to cosplay.

The very minute that the GIR and I decided to do a Venture Bros. tribute cosplay there was no doubt in my mind as to which character I’d be dressing as. I’ve always found villainesses to be more interesting and engaging than their female protagonist counterparts. They always seemed to have the best set of powers, were usually smart/ambitious, and exuded confidence. Plus they tended to have minions! Who wouldn’t want minions? Needless to say, more than one adult found my childhood adoration for Maleficent to be a bit off putting. Given that, and my obsession affection for the Venture Bros., Sheila was a shoe-in. Her Dr. Mrs. the Monarch outfit is my personal favorite of the various iterations of Sheila and the thought was that costume would coordinate well with the GIR’s.  
The Dr. Mrs. the Monarch outfit was fun to make but, though it’s pretty straightforward from a construction standpoint, I’ll admit that it was the first costume I underestimated. A large chunk of the difficulties I experienced stemmed directly from my inability to draw. Seriously, I have absolutely zero abilities when it comes to drawing and any related field. The rest of my troubles were derived from certain fabrics and certain paints not wanting to play nicely together, which I didn’t realize until it came time to introduce them to one another. We’ll get to all this in a minute though (so hopefully you can avoid these issues). Despite this, my difficulties were ultimately minor and they definitely shouldn’t scare you off of this project, which is very approachable even for neophyte cosplayers.

Dr. Mrs. the Monarch wears a black leotard with a very distinctive neckline, long yellow gloves, thigh-high yellow boots, a geometric choker style necklace, and a little 4-pronged crown (sometimes 5-pronged depending on the episode). Each of the elements in that list is pretty simple in terms of the execution, minus the painting part (if you’re artistically illiterate like me). Let’s look at each of these components.


We can’t be 100% sure that the foundation for Dr. Mrs.’ costume is a leotard versus a bodysuit, so you’re probably still within canon if you choose either one of those, as long as you select a garment that is jet black. Black leotards are generally pretty inexpensive and can be found in both sporting goods stores as well as major online retailers like Amazon. Alternatively, you could make a custom leotard/bodysuit using a pattern like this or this (4-way stretch fabric is highly recommended!).

I was operating under the idea that the leotard should have a bit of sheen to it and not just be a standard matte fabric. This isn’t required by any means though, so don’t feel as if you need to limit yourself to PVC or a ‘wet look’ vinyl. After a bit of research, I patterned a bodysuit on this. I really liked the functionality that a bodysuit offered and recommend going that route if you’re planning on being in costume for more than 4-5 hours at a time.

As mentioned above, the neckline on the bodysuit is…unorthodox. It plunges into a deep V in the front (ending a few finger widths above the bellybutton) and dips into a softer, but still substantial scoop in the back (ending just below the bottom of where the band of your bra usually falls). Since you’re almost certainly working with stretchy fabric, you need to work on the bodysuit using the dimensions that it will be when it’s on your body, which are usually quite different than those when it’s lying about. To ensure accurate cuts, I put on the bodysuit and drew the desired termination points in chalk. Chalk shows up beautifully on black fabric, but is easily washed or dabbed away when you don't need it anymore. After that, it was a matter of sketching out the cuts using my t-square and more chalk, then cutting along the lines.
Once the neckline had been shaped, I put the bodysuit on my dress form and applied a stencil I’d made using an exacto knife and a blown up printout of this image of the Monarch logo. Hopefully helpful hint: before the bodysuit, I put a bra on my dress form and padded the bra out so it’d hold the shape of what my curves would look like as I intended them to appear in costume (since the dress form doesn’t have much in that department). Again, this is about making sure that what you cut and paint will look exactly as you intend it to when you’re wearing it.

Here’s where things ended up taking more time than I’d planned; the fabric I used for the bodysuit didn’t take paint very well. The component of the cloth that gave it such a nice, subtle sheen also formed a barrier against paint, so I ended up having to go over the logo several times in order to obtain solid, even color throughout.  I repeated the same basic process with a different fabric for the design on the back. Despite this, I do recommend using fabric paint for the emblems rather than colored tape or fabric. Paint gives you quite a bit more leeway (when compared to tape or fabric) in terms of how it can be shaped on a stretchy surface. Just give yourself a few days of buffer when you start the painting process in case you run into similar difficulties.
The stencil
First pass with the fabric paint (you can see how unevenly it took)
Six coats of paint later and the logo looked solid.
After the designs had been painted, I edged the entire neckline with thin strips of this yellow PVC fabric. The PVC is great in that it tends to stretch well, but can be tricky to work with as it’s prone to curling in on itself. Some patience and a good rotary blade go a long way in taming the PVC.

The only thing remaining at this point were the ‘wings’. Dr. Mrs. the Monarch sports a pair of flowy, transparent orange wings on the back of her bodysuit that drape down her back and trail behind her like a train. To achieve the same look, I folded this chiffon (in ‘flame’) in half and carefully cut long strips that expanded out to an oblong-ish shape at the ends. Since chiffon made from synthetic fabric has a bad habit of fraying, I coated the edges of the wings with clear nail polish. While a French seam would have been a better solution, I found that a second layer of the chiffon added too much weight and opacity, so I kept the wings to a single layer and used the polish.

The wings hang almost on the vertical part of the back portion of the neckline right at the shoulders. First I tacked them to both the bodysuit and the PVC lining with fabric glue, then added a few reinforcing stiches at the corners and the center. Whether the wings actually reach the floor behind you is a personal choice. Canonically, they act like a train so I had them trail a few inches behind me. Of course, there are a number of problems associated with having what is functionally a train at a convention, so you may decide it’s just not worth the potential headache to make the wings quite so long.

Both the crown and the choker necklace can be made very easily. I ended up making both from bits of craft foam that had originally been sold as other items: the necklace began its life as a visor and the crown was, at one point, a little pail. While you can definitely use standard sheets of craft foam to make these, I found it to be easier and actually cheaper to re-shape the two items. I removed the head strap from the visor, then trimmed the foam down until it took on that pointy triangular shape that’s depicted in the show. The pail got squished in half, then I traced half-circles at intervals on the foam using the bottom of a coffee mug as a stencil. A few cuts along the traced lines and viola, perfectly symmetrical crown-like tines. I affixed a single 3/8” (0.95cm) round wooden bead to the peaks of each of the tines with some hot glue, then reinforced the tines with some mid-gauge floral wire.
After all that shaping, it was time for some paint. Some standard yellow spray paint left the two accessories a uniform color and a coat of spray varnish lent everything a bit of polish. Finally, I cut out a portion of the bottom of the once-pail-now-crown and added a small lattice made from pieces of floral wire embedded in the foam and reinforced with hot glue (which you can see in the third picture down in the above sequence). The idea behind the lattice was to give bobby pins and other wig/hair clips somewhere to grip on to.

As for the earrings, Dr. Mrs. wears simple round yellow studs in each ear, so I picked up a cheap pair in a hue similar to the spray paint from a local Claire’s.


If I hadn’t come across an amazing sale on these, I would have made both the gloves and the boots (or at least covers approximating the look of boots) from a 4-way stretch fabric. But was offering their own version of yellow PVC boots for an absurdly low price, so I snapped up a pair of those and a set of matching shoulder-length PVC gloves which the site no longer carries.

If you decide to make your own (which honestly tends to look better since they’ll fit closer to your skin), this is a phenomenal guide for making ‘boots’ and this is a great tutorial for making gloves. Also, Amazon offers these, which work very well for this costume.

Post Construction update: Remember my earlier mention of Murphy's Law? Well, Murphy took the form of some very hot summer days and acted out against my poor PVC gloves. I'd stored them next to the wet look fabric that I'd used for the bodysuit and apparently the heat was enough to fuse the two together, leaving black streaks all over the gloves that not even a Magic Eraser could tackle. I ended up ordering the shiny satin opera gloves from Amazon and painted the PVC boots a lighter shade of yellow to match. In case you go a similar route for whatever reason, PVC takes acrylic paint extremely well!


Unless you happen to have short black hair, you’re probably going to need a wig to emulate Sheila’s curled bob. I went with this, then shaped it using a comb, this hair wax, and this hair gel. Since the wig was designed to curl at the ends, it was pretty easy to coax it into the canonical hairdo.

Since the length of the wig is quite short, a wig cap is a necessity (check out this post on wigs for more information on caps and why they’re good to use).

Defying Gravity (all the underthings)

Ok, so it’s no secret that one of the most eye-catching features of Dr. Mrs. the Monarch is her prominent, seemingly physics-defying décolletage. For a non-animated human subjected to things like gravity, it can be very tricky to attain the same look. The angle and extent of the V-shaped neckline precludes the wearing of most standard undergarments (since they’d be readily visible). There are a couple of ways to negotiate this somewhat awkward situation.

Option 1 is to go the route pioneered by professional cosplayer and Heroes of Cosplay alumnus Riki LeCotey and make a custom bodice from plastic or a similarly rigid material. Unless you’re proficient at plastic or resin casting, the easiest way to make this is to purchase a torso mannequin like this one and, using a plastics saw or very sharp utility knife, carefully cut out the desired shape.

If you’d rather not cast a piece or re-shape a mannequin, there’s always Option 2. Option 2 involves stick on lingerie like this. I was going to attempt Option 1, but came across a set of adhesive silicone cups while at a craft store and, with the help of some double-sided fashion tape, found that they performed surprisingly well. As with anything else that goes on your skin, it’s always a good idea to test the adhesives on the cups/tape about two weeks or more before the convention.
And that completes the costume trousseau for Gen Con 2014. Adieu for now guys; see you in a week or so when I’m back from Indy!

Post-Con Breakdown: I'll probably wear this costume again, but will start over with a new leotard as the fabric not only didn't play nicely with the fabric paint, but also didn't like to stay put against my skin. The wings, boots, and props held up extremely well and can be re-used with minimal touch ups.
The finished products for both the GIR and I
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