Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of X

Starts out as yet another dystopian mutant world, but quickly evolves into an excellent mystery thriller about the truth of this world.

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With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

marvel comicWriters: Mike Carey

Artists: Clay Mann, Mirco Pierfederici, Steve Kurth

Issues: Age of X Alpha, X-Men Legacy #245-247, New Mutants (2009) #22-24, Age of X Universe #1-2

 

The mini X-Men event called “Age of X” has all the markings of yet another dystopian future-verse or alternate reality. This is a well-traveled road by our favorite mutants, whether in the massive 90s event “Age of Apocalypse” (which I’m currently re-rereading – final thoughts coming soon!) or “House of M.”

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s actually much more than that. “Age of X” focuses on a world that’s just not quite right as Magneto leads the last stronghold of mutant-kind against an overwhelming human coalition out to destroy them. I wish this weird world’s mystery had been a bit more expanded, but given the relatively quick pace the action and story lead to a satisfying and unique conclusion. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Age of X”

Stellaris Review [CGM]

Stellaris captures the craziness and fun of sci-fi in an engaging, infinitely replayable strategy game.

Read the full review at CG Magazine

Grand Strategy games have been around for awhile – a genre coined and perfected by Swedish developers Paradox Interactive. Previous Paradox titles dove headfirst into Medieval and World War history, and Stellaris finally takes us to the stars.

Managing European provinces is trite compared to large-scale galactic conquest, allied federations, and playing god to lesser beings. Stellaris isn’t just Paradox’s most accessible title; it’s also the best space empire management game I’ve ever played.

Read the full review at CG Magazine

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 15 Recap

Backtracking to Rivergard Keep we defeat the remaining forces. But returning to town comes with a surprise attack of hell hounds!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Recorded and uploaded a day later due to out-of-town player. Thank you for your patience!

We’ve definitely hit the record on consecutive battles and sessions without a rest. According to my calculations, the party last rested in shifts while traveling up the Dessarin River toward Rivergard Keep. That was Session 13!

Since then they’ve defeated the entirety of Rivergard Keep, as well as the guards posted inside the Temple of the Crushing Wave. After that battle they were feeling drained and exhausted. Not to mention they’d reached enough experience for level 6 after the first few battles in the Keep. My rules state that they can’t level up outside of a Long Rest.

So although they’d reached a new massive dungeon, they opted to pull back to heal up, level up, and rescue the hostages they had found in the Keep. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 15 Recap”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 14 Recap

The party defeats the wereboar leader of Rivergard. A hidden stream leads to a lake with a shark-riding knight!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

When we were running our Shadowrun campaign, I was able to do entire recap sessions to separate the individual missions or runs. This gave me a chance to elicit feedback from my players and breakdown what worked and what didn’t from both role-playing and technical points of view. Each run took 3-6 weeks, so we had these discussions at a nice pace.

While D&D Fifth Edition works much better for us overall, the campaigns are way longer. Our first, “The Lost Mine of Phandelver,” took four months. It’s looking like “Princes of the Apocalypse” will easily last us the rest of the year.

To compensate I’ve done little informal talks and breakdowns after our sessions and throughout the week. Since we’re all close friends I’m fortunate that I can pull back the curtain and discuss things a bit, while trying to avoid spoilers as best I can.

I’ve previously discussed my main problem with “Princes of the Apocalypse.” Its open world set-up and interconnected dungeons means player characters can (and likely will) stumble into higher level dungeons than they’re prepared for.

As my players pointed out after this session – continuing down that underground stream beneath Rivergard Keep seems like the bottom layer of that dungeon, and the natural next course of action. In reality it’s an entirely new dungeon – one that’s far bigger and several levels stronger than the Keep. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 14 Recap”

Battleborn Review [Pixelkin]

When everything in Battleborn clicks together it’s a beautiful mess, but too many frustrations drag the experience down.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Battleborn is a tale of two games. Borderlands developer Gearbox took the main elements of the MOBA genre – waves of NPCs, multiple hero classes with unique abilities, leveling, towers, etc, and injected them into a first person shooter.

The other half is a series of cooperative missions involving the unique story and characters of their insane universe. Both feel like they should’ve been expanded into their own games. When everything clicks together it’s a beautiful mess, but too many frustrations drag the experience down.

Gearbox has leveraged their funny comic art style into some truly awesome character designs. The 25 heroes are a motley crew divided into five different backgrounds, from the fantasy-inspired Eldrid to the space pirate Rogues.

There’s Oscar Mike, your typical Call of Duty/Halo soldier. But then there’s Miko the sentient mushroom healer and Toby the penguin in a giant mech suit. The Shayne and Aurox duo have a teenage girl possessed by a giant guardian demon thing. Battleborn has some of the most unique hero designs I’ve seen in a hero brawler.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

My Thoughts on Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War successfully combines all the winning elements and characters from the MCU into a satisfying sequel.

When I was growing up, Marvel was X-Men. The 80’s comic storylines like The Phoenix Saga, Dark Phoenix, and Days of Future Past defined Marvel for years. The amazing X-Men: The Animated series of the early 90s cemented my love of superheroes that continues today.

Meanwhile the Avengers were nothing to me. I had a bad NES game where you could play as the incredibly lame Captain America and Hawkeye. Iron Man was a D-list joke. I couldn’t tell you a single Avengers villain.

I am continually amazed by how things have changed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel successfully adapted to the loss of many of their key franchises to other studios (the 90s were a rough time for comics).

Suddenly the Avengers are the hottest shit around, and while Marvel Studios still has a bit of a villain problem, Captain America: Civil War represents exactly what the studio does best: big screen heroes. Continue reading “My Thoughts on Captain America: Civil War”

Skylanders 6 Predictions and Wishlist [Pixelkin]

My wishlist of features and full-on predictions for the 6th Skylanders game, due later this year.

Read the full article at Pixelkin

Whether you’re obsessed with collecting toys to life figures or you think it’s all a silly money trap aimed at kids, one fact is undeniable. The toys to life genre has exploded in the last few years, raking in billions of dollars for Activision’s Skylanders series alone. Now we have LEGO, Nintendo, and Disney all capitalizing on this unique toy-game craze.

But it all began with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure in 2011. Every year brings us a new Skylanders game with new gimmicks and toys. A hallmark of the series is that you can take your older figures into each new game, creating a fun bond between your beloved characters.

A new Skylanders game has become as common as Call of Duty. As a Skylanders veteran I’m here to provide my wishlist and predictions for the next Skylanders game, which is expected to be announced within the next few weeks.

Read the full article at Pixelkin