Dec 152014
 

DixitThe Holiday season is upon us!

This means that family gatherings and parties with friends abound. One of the hallmarks of these events is the breaking out of the board game. Thankfully, the time of Monopoly and Life are no longer the norm. Now, you can go to parties where Cards Against Humanity or Werewolf are the norm.

I would like to add another game to the list of party favorites, Dixit.

Dixit is a card game for three to six players. Players can be as young as eight years old and it takes about 30 minutes to play a full game. The game ends when a player reaches thirty points or the deck runs out of cards.. Game play is simple. Each player is dealt a hand of  cards. Each card has an evocative illustration. One player is the storyteller. They chose one card from their hand and craft a short story or phrase based on their card. Each of the other players then takes a card from their hand that they believe reflects the storytellers tale. All the cards are place in the center of the table and turned face up. All the players but the storyteller then vote for the card they believe is the one the story is based on. If no one guesses the storyteller’s card then all players except the storyteller receive two points. Otherwise, the storyteller and those who guessed her card receive three points and each other card that received a vote receives one point.

A simple system that makes it easy for the younger members of a family able to play. The cards are beautiful and make it easy to come up with words or phrases. The cards are unique so that no matter how often you see a card, you will easily come up with another story to fit the picture. Their are variants available that allow you to play with more than six people. I had the chance to play team Dixit with ten people and it was a blast. There were five teams made up of two people. One player would be the storyteller and the other player would take part in the guessing. This allowed us to accommodate a larger number of people and had a cool feel to it.

The game lists for $35 which is not a bad price for such a quick and easy game. I understand that it doesn’t have that bitter edge and sense of irreverence that you get from Cards Against Humanity but it is a better investment if you are looking fora fun party game that you can play anyplace. IF you are a fan of party games like Apples to Apples, I suggest you give Dixit a try. You will not regret it.

Dec 102014
 

 

NORMAN VOL. 1

WRITER: Stan Silas
ARTIST: Stan Silas
FORMAT: 64pp – HC – FC – 8” x 11.1”

VOLUMES IN SERIES: 1 (of 4)

PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
PRICE: $10.99/$12.99 CAN/£9.99 UK

ISBN: 9781782762393

RELEASE DATE: March 4, 2015

DIAMOND ORDER CODE: NOV141651

“I AM EIGHT YEARS OLD AND I KILL PEOPLE.” 

 

A Is For Arterial Spray! B Is For Blood-Soaked! C Is For Corpses!

 

Eight years old. Blonde-haired elementary school psychopath. Looks so cute while burying his eviscerated friends in the sandbox. With humor as black as dried blood, Norman looks set to join the padded-cell pantheon of murderous lunatics – and this time he’s bringing his lunch money!

Norman Vol. 1 hits comic stores on March 4, 2015

To pre-order via Amazon visit:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Norman-1-Stan-Silas/dp/1782762396/

Connect with Titan Comics:

https://twitter.com/ComicsTitan
https://facebook.com/ComicsTitan

Dec 092014
 
This week on Direct Damage Cast we Talk about the first year of podcasting a few of our favorite memories and people, We talk about the importance of confidence in MTG. We cover a tiny bit of information on World’s Week, which at the time of this recording was still going on. Go over a new top 5 list and thank everyone in the MTG universe.

Contact Us @DirectDamCast
Calvin is @Zero_Layfield
Kaesi is @GirlOnNerds

Email directdamagecast@gmail.com
Dec 082014
 

poster-mickIt is the holiday season once again!

This is a time marked by the family gathering around the television to watch holiday favorites such as; Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty, The Snowman, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and The Polar Express.

Allow me to suggest a movie to add to this list, I am Santa Clause. This is a documentary that follows the lives of four men who portray Santa Claus during the holiday season professionally. It not only follows them through the season itself but the for the whole year leading up to that most special time of the year. In addition, the film makers follow former wrestler, Mick Foley, as he strives to become Santa Clause for the holiday season as well.

If you have ever wondered about the people that portray Santa Clause at the Mall or public events, this is the movie for you. It takes the curtain that hangs about these men and pulls it back to reveal the humans that take up this mantle. These are four different men from four different walks of life that share one thing in common besides donning the crimson suit. They all believe in the joy that the job brings and want to maintain it’s dignity.

The four men that we are introduced to are Russell Spice, Jim Stevenson, Santa Claus, and Bob Gerardi. Yes, one of them changed his name to Santa Claus, I’ll get to that in a moment. Russell is a man down on his luck. He lives with his daughter as his life has fell apart. Jim lives in Texas, is an antiques dealer, and happens to be gay. Santa, is a big biker-looking gentleman that works in sprinkler installation and maintenance. The feeling that being Santa Claus brings him affected him so much that he chose to change his name. Our last Santa, Bob, lives in California, is a devout christian and sells real estate. Interspersed with these men’s tales, we are given glimpses into Mick Foley’s journey to become Santa Claus. The viewer is shown Foley’s love of the season as well as clips of him being Santa Claus on WWE.

The power of this movie is illustrating the humanity of these men. Each one comes from a very different place and yet shares both the suit and understanding of the joy that they bring to families. There is a point in the movie that brought tears to my eyes. Ok, I’ll be honest, there were lots of points that brought tears to my eyes. Jim is an older gentleman, in his early seventies, and he discusses why he enjoys being Santa. He gets chocked up as he tells the interviewer how he is in these pictures with these children and in 20 to 30 years they will look at these pictures with joy and fondness. He will be long gone but the joy he brought while living will long out last him. Damn it, It is making me misty-eyed just thinking about it as I write this. These types of scenes that tug at your heart-strings are found throughout the movie.

I mentioned that they all want to  protect the role of Santa Claus and there is a scene that shows this as well as illustrating the integrity of the man named Santa. Santa and Russell both attend a convention for those who take on the role of Santa Claus. While at the convention, there is a rumor that one of the men playing Santa uses his role inappropriately. Russell is staying with Santa and expresses his anger over this. Santa, being a stand-up guy, doesn’t buy the rumors. Instead, he goes to the gentleman at the center of the rumors. They have a conversation during which it comes out that this man and his wife are swingers who also operate a swingers club, none of which has anything to do with his being Santa Claus. Santa, happy that the name of Santa is not in jeopardy, moves on and tells Russell the rumors are untrue and that there is nothing to worry about.

This is a movie that will yank at those heart-strings, bring tears to your eyes, and leave a smile on your face. It provides a fascinating look at the men that play Santa Claus and shows us the humanity that some never even think about. If you have time, watch I am Santa Claus. you will not regret it.

Dec 022014
 

moonknight9The ninth issue of Moon Knight brings in a well used comic book trope, the powerless hero.

I am not a fan of this trope but find that Brian Wood handles it with a finesse that I find lacking in most other comics.

This issue opens with Marc Spector on the couch of his psychiatrist. This is the same doctor that took out a hit on a General that rules her homeland now and told the police that he was a dangerous crazy person. Spector has returned in order to discover the why of what has happened.

What follows is a hypnotic trip into the minds of Marc Spector and his doctor. We get to see the reason for her hatred of the general that for whom she hired a hit-man. We get to see the story as told to Moon Knight as if he was there for what was going on. The story of how her parents and siblings were killed by this very man that now purports to do what is best for his country. We see as Moon Knight tries to convince her that this is not the correct way of getting vengeance. Her retort is that this one person is not the only warlord out there who has killed those who travel at night. This is not the only person that should feel the wrath of Khonshu. Through out the process we are led to believe that she is working to convert Moon Knight to her cause. This is where Wood brings in the tilt. Yes, she is making an effort to convince someone to her cause. The recipient of this effort is not Marc Spector, but Khonshu. It turns out that she is very persuasive and Spector is left alone in her home, fleeing from a bomb.

The issue ends with the bomb going off.

Greg Smallwood’s art goes to great lengths to support this story. His art, as always, is excellent. He has a way of capturing the flow of the story well with how he handles his characters and backgrounds. They flow seamlessly despite his use of varied panel types.  This variety of panel types is on display prominently in this issue. One of my favorite ways he does this in this issue is when the doctor and Moon Knight are discussing her younger self. there are a series of horizontal panels that break up the page. One side just breaks the image of the doctor up while the other shows a different version of Moon Knight that we have seen so far. For me, it both illustrated the illusory nature of the setting as well as broken nature of our hero.

Here at Issue 9, I am still enraptured with the story of Moon Knight as I was at the beginning. The new creative team is spinning a longer arc that is entertaining to read without feeling tired or over done. I am looking forward to seeing how Wood and Smallwood handle the next increment of the de-powered hero and hope for new twists on a tired tale.

Nov 272014
 

1944normandyWhen it comes to iOs games, I tend more to the casual games with short play time and ease of entrance into play. The platform is more than capable of handling more long form games with high graphics intensity but this just isn’t how I use my phone or tablet.

One of the genres that this platform has opened up is the turned based tactical war game. It takes time consuming games like Axis & Allies and transforms them into something that is much easier to hope into without the large time requirements. The latest entrant into this field is Wars & Battles from Kermorio and Battle Factory.

Wars & Battles is a turn based war game simulating historical battles and campaigns across several centuries. The game has the mechanics that one expects from a board game of this genre with the ease of use of a table based game. The game launches with the battle of Normandy. The campaign mode runs from D-Day to the Falaise Pocket Combat. This initial campaign has scenarios that are playable within ten to twenty minutes to ones that takes up a few hours of your time. There are in-app purchases available as well to add other scenarios to the Normandy setting so that you can playout what-if scenarios and tinker with history at your leisure. In addition to Normandy, the designers will be releasing more campaigns for Wars & Battles in 2015. These will includes campaigns from Gettysburg to the October war of 1973. Each of these campaigns will be included with the initial purchase of the app and add to the menu as they are released. Each new time period will add to the in-app market as well as their will be new scenarios that spin off from each campaign.

The art and game play of Wars & Battles is gorgeous. The interface is done in a war room style with a journal that gives you objectives and victory conditions. Each journal provides little blurbs about the battle in which you are taking part. This is a little touch that I think is required of tablet based war games. It provides a deeper connection to the game for those casual gamers for whom this isn’t their niche. The interface for play is nice in that you can have a 3D playing environment which makes for a much more entertaining game or a 2D board to make for faster game play. There is also the ability to play against others which is always nice. I can not speak to the smoothness of this part of the games as I had no opponents when ever I attempted to use it.

My only problem with the game is that it was not an easy entry game if you are not familiar with this type of game. I am passingly familiar with the genre and grew frustrated with the tutorial as I lost repeatedly due to victory points. The tutorial never mentioned victory points directly. They are listed as a means of victory in the journal but they are never explored while the tutorial is running. I expect a tutorial to point something this important out as it goes along and illustrate the simple tactics that surround it in the game. I spoke with friends for whom these games are somewhat of an avocation and they were able to explain the nuances that I was missing.

Over all, Wars & Battles is a nice game that is well worth $6.99. This price gets you Normandy at the start and flows out into other eras with expansions to each era available through in-app purchases. It isn’t the friendliest game for those that are new to the genre but it is a wonderful addition for anyone that has an abiding love of war games.

Nov 262014
 

On this episode of Direct Damage Cast we go around the table with wrestling and new job hijinks. Then open a very special care package from the Amazing Les Kershaw. We talk a little bit about addiction and MTG. Discuss the Jeski Wins deck Calvin has been runing at FNM. We have a New Top 5 List and our community spotlight is on Robotlarge this week.

mantis
Calvin- @DirectDamCast
Kaesi- @GirlOnNerds
RobotLarge shout outs go to @robotlarge
Nov 172014
 

Thor2I am sure that by now you have heard that Marvel is doing a bit of a shake up on Thor. The new wielder of Mjolnir will be a woman. It was all the buzz and I will admit that I was happy to hear it. Any time one of the big two comic companies choose to add some diversity to their line up is fine by me.

I will also admit that I love Thor. Thunder gods are one of my favorites throughout mythology and I have read Thor off and on throughout my life. I had not picked up the title when I cam back as I was drawn back into the hobby by the New 52 and my sporadic forays into Marvel did not go well outside of a rare book here and there. Even this new iteration of Thor is not without it’s problems as you will note that I did not title this post after the first issue.

Why is that?

I expect certain things from a first issue. I want to meet the character that the book is about as well as get a certain feel for what kind of person they and what trials may be waiting in the wings. In the first issue of Thor, We do not meet the woman who takes up the Hammer until the very last page. We get to see her take up the hammer and nothing more. The rest of the book is about male Thor being all mopey that he is no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir. We get to learn that this is fall out from the Original Sin story line where he is told a secret that makes him unworthy. We get see Odin return and be nothing but a giant asshole to everyone. The main villain of the first story arc is introduced and mortals are put in peril. I was promised one thing and given another and this makes me angry. So, I will leave issue one to hang as it does nothing that I want other than being a giant tease.

Issue two makes up on the promise that was so badly dropped in issue one. Here, Jason Aaron introduces us to our new heroine. We are shown a goddess of thunder that speaks in the manner of an Asgardian but has a mind that is definitely from somewhere else. She points out that her helmet has a mask and that this is probably a good thing. We are only on the second panel of the book and we are given an intriguing question to which I want to know the answer. These little hints of a different path prior to taking up the hammer are nice. I especially enjoyed when she recognizes Dario Agger, Roxxon CEO, and has to cover for the slip.

Dauterman’s art on this issue is just gorgeous. There is one panel in particular that I just adored. The new goddess of thunder has just figured out how to fly. The panel shows her in flight with the moon in the background and a big grin plastered onto her face. The feeling of fun and adventure just sing from the page. Her trying to figure out how to steer only reinforced the feeling that Dauterman’s art created. I have one quibble on the art front though and that is with the hammer. There were points where she is using the hammer in combat and I would get lost. Did she throw the hammer or was it just magic radiating from the hammer? I could use a little more clarity in this department.

I loved this issue! The goddess of thunder has taken me by storm and I can not wait to see what she is up to in issue three. I would recommend picking up the book to see a new take on Thor. You won’t be disappointed.