D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 7 Recap

We reach 3rd level and travel North to the haunted ruins of Thundertree.

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Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

My players were all very organized this week, and did the brunt of the level up work before we got together for our Sunday evening session. All we had to do was roll for Hit Points and go over any and all new abilities. Level three grants an advanced path for most Player Characters. It’s a cool difference in fifth edition that helps cut down on the insane amount of multi-classing that took place in previous editions. For example, a rogue can become an Arcane Trickster, letting them earn some magic spells without having to multiclass as a wizard or sorcerer.

Kalinaar became an Oath of Vengeance Paladin (continuing with the Judge Dredd concept), Miri learned the Path of the Elements to gain some powerful new attacks, and Kethra took the aforementioned Arcane Trickster specialty to gain some magic versatility. Oh and Talus got access to level two spells.

This was an interesting session. For the first time since the PCs were ambushed by goblins, they’re given a choice of where to go and what to do. Technically they could’ve done this upon reaching Phandalin (thus skipping the Redbrand Hideout), but they correctly decided to help the town out of its primary problem before tackling on the myriad of quests they received from the townsfolk. I’m glad they did, as the Redbrand Hideout is definitively designed to be a balanced level two dungeon, while these other areas are definitely made for level three PCs. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 7 Recap”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Gunpoint

Rewiring security in this 2D stealth-puzzler is a blast, but it’s too short to fully embrace more advanced levels.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

 

Developer: Suspicious Developments

Publisher: Suspicious Developments

Release Date: June 3, 2013

Gunpoint-title

There’s an old joke that all critics really want to be creators – game critics want to be designers, film critics want to be screen writers, music critics want to be rock stars, etc. Occasionally a critic does successfully make that leap. Even late film critic Roger Ebert wrote an odd X-rated pseudo-sequel to Valley of the Dolls in the 60s. Former PC Gamer editor Tom Francis may not be a Roger Ebert, but his one-man stealth-puzzle game Gunpoint is a triumph of simplistic but effective 2D puzzle design.

Gunpoint stars Richard Conway, a private investigator that lives in a pixelated world full of guards, security cameras, and breakable windows. During the opening sequence Conway witnesses the murder of a potential new client while trying out his new Bullfrog brand Hypertrousers. The pants allow you to charge up super jumps, breaking through windows and falling from any height. This allows you to concentrate on the puzzles in each level rather than any tedious platforming.

Conway is suspect #1 in the murder investigation, and the story follows a funny tale as he’s hired to first erase the data by one party, then try and recover it by another. The story unfolds through a simple text-based dialogue between a pair of pixelated faces. It’s a rudimentary as you can get. Thankfully the writing is particularly amazing. I laughed out loud throughout the unfolding noir drama that maintains its self-aware snarkiness. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Gunpoint”

Review – Mushroom 11 [Pixelkin]

A unique, fun, and very challenging puzzle-platformer in which you guide your amorphous blob through a gauntlet of hazards.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Walt Disney once said “Get a good idea and stay with it.” Many modern puzzle games have utilized a single brilliant concept to fuel the entire experience. Mushroom 11 is the latest of these innovative puzzlers with a unique and challenging growth mechanic.

In Mushroom 11 you play as a self-replicating amorphous green blob. A fungus, if you will. The blob constantly tries to stay the same size. It also needs to touch the ground or a suitable object in order to grow. Left click erases large chunks for rapid movement. Right click allows for smaller shape-building. Using these simple mechanics you guide your fungus through a gauntlet of platformer-style traps and hazards.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – The Invincible Iron Man: World’s Most Wanted (Vol. 2-3)

Matt Fraction weaves my new favorite Iron Man story as Stark is on the run from Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign.

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!

marvelWriter: Matt Fraction

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Issues: Invincible Iron Man (2008) #8-19

 

In 2008 Marvel had not yet realized the beginning of a whole new era of superhero film making was just beginning. They did put all their eggs into the Iron Man basket by starting up their own film studio instead of selling more of their rights off to others (which should be pointed out, is a big reason they survived the comic collapse of the 90s).

Thus it was obvious that a brand new Iron Man comic would launch in 2008 to draw in new fans from the movie, as well as furthering the expanded role that Tony Stark has enjoyed in the Marvel Universe for the last few years.

The first arc, “The Five Nightmares,” was a fun, self-contained story. Unfortunately due to the heavily event-driven modern era (which still kind of continues to this day), newcomers might be super confused in this next massive story arc. Stark resigns as Director of SHIELD, while Norman Osborn has become the most powerful man in the world. Welcome to Dark Reign! Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – The Invincible Iron Man: World’s Most Wanted (Vol. 2-3)”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 6 Recap

We finally clear out the rest of the Redbrand Hideout in one epic battle involving a very bloody hallway.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Three weeks. It took three weeks to get through our second ever dungeon, the Redbrand Hideout. Averaging about 2.5 hours per week means this campaign will end up taking several months to get through, which is far, far longer than the relatively bite-sized Shadowrun modules we were running previously.

It’s still a ton of fun, but I do find myself needing to gently remind my players of important events, characters, and information they they’d been given weeks ago. I created a pseudo-journal system and quest log within Roll20 to help alleviate this issue, and now how I just say “check your quests!” whenever my players wonder what just happened or what they need to be doing.

Anyway, on to the session! This week began right after the PCs dealt with the terrifying Nothic that had made its home in the middle of the dungeon. The PCs had several paths available and must’ve been feeling pretty confident after slaying the Nothic. They decided to split up and explore, which is always a terrible, terrible idea. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 6 Recap”

Review – Yoshi’s Woolly World [Pixelkin]

Charming, but also incredibly fun with brilliant level designs and a wealth of content, Yoshi’s Woolly World is my new favorite Wii U platformer.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

yoshi's woolly world

Yoshi has been destined for stardom since his first appearance in Super Mario World. He started his video game career as a power-up for Mario, but soon the lovable dinosaur starred in his own spinoff series of 2D platformers. These focused on his unique ability to eat foes and lay eggs, which can be used as weapons. Yoshi’s Woolly World combines this simple but effective mechanic with a beautifully realized art style and clever level design to create not only the best Yoshi game, but one of Nintendo’s best platformers in years.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Skaar: Son of Hulk

I enjoyed returning to Sakaar in this sequel to Planet Hulk, but Hulk’s savage son is a difficult protagonist to get behind.

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!

marvelWriter: Grek Pak

Artist: Ron Garney, Butch Guice

Issues: Skaar: Son of Hulk #1-12, Planet Skaar Prologue

 

Note: The Hulk volumes go through some annoying and confusing title changes throughout this era. In Marvel Unlimited these issues are titled “Son of Hulk.”

Movies aren’t the only medium with direct-to-video style sequels. Nearly any material that’s moderately successful can easily justify getting a sequel, even if everyone knows it’s not going to be as good. The name alone will often carry just enough weight to warrant the time and money put in to crank out another entry.

Son of Hulk is a bit better than most churned-out-sequels, and has the distinct advantage of using the same writer, Greg Pak, who handled both Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. Son of Hulk begins as a sequel to Planet Hulk, taking place back on the violent, war-torn planet Sakaar.  Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Skaar: Son of Hulk”