Even though I made a couple of flyers and posted about this year's "Fright Night," I wasn't planning on attending. My girlfriend's mom passed away a couple of weeks ago and the funeral was last weekend. So we were planning on making Saturday (26 Oct) a Halloween date day.
That is, until her daughter called asking for a visit, because her son-in-law would be going to a bachelor party that evening. Needless to say, when my girlfriend suggested I attend the Fright Night game, she didn't have to twist my arm.
So I raced drove the posted speed limit to Fort Steilacoom to join my friends Adrian, Scott, Daryl and half-a-dozen other gamers at one of the historic buildings (the commander's office, I think). There were two game tables set up by the time I arrived. The first was a WWII skirmish game, where a squad of American soldiers had to escape from a horde of Zombie Nazis (see above photo).
Since that game was full, I ended up playing a non-horror Muskets Tomahawks game, hosted by Sven Lugar. This was a substitute game, because the original game master had a family emergency and couldn't attend, so Sven "stepped into the breach."
(Image: Sven at the head of the gaming table)
In this French and Indian War scenario, several squads of French soldiers and their indian allies, set out to burn a blockhouse and village, defended by the British and their Indian allies, somewhere on the vague border in the wilderness between New England and New France.
Here's a brief run-down of how things went:
As one of the French players, I got lucky on the very first turn. One of my French marine squads literally blasted the British regulars out of the blockhouse.
Surprised the stout logs provided no protection from the French fusillade, the few surviving British vacated the blockhouse and made their way to the village.
But here, they found themselves in desperate firefight between a squad of colonial militia and several war parties of French-allied indians.
Meanwhile, on the British right flank, a relief party consisting of irregulars, rangers and allied indians were making their way along a forest road.
Unfortunately for those holding the town, the relief column was held up by another squad of French marines and Coureur des bois.
Both sides ended up trading shots with each other, with the British getting the worst of it. The rangers managed to make it through the woods to engage the French-allied indians, but by this time one of the village buildings and the blockhouse were put to the torch.
By now, each British unit had suffered over 50% casualties and had to test their mettle. Most, if not all the officers fled, leaving their men to their fate.
Despite driving some of the French-allied indians back into the forest, the buildings continued to burn and the French marines marched into the village square to fire the last house.
The initial volley by the French marines devastated the blockhouse defenders, which made it difficult for the British players to recover from. I'd like to claim this was due to my tactical finesse but, this was not the case. I was luckier than normal in my dice rolling. Some of the players attributed this to the "magic dice horn," Sven crafted and I used throughout the game.
This was my first time playing Muskets and Tomahawks (M&T). I didn't read the rules, but the quick reference sheets Sven provided allowed me and some of the other players to pick up on the mechanics very quickly.
M&T is a card-driven action and something of a buckets-of-dice game, using 6-sided dice (D6s). However, the amount of dice one needs to roll is much more manageable, compared to other games I've seen. One die is rolled for each figure firing, with 4s (usually, with modifiers) needed to hit a target and 3s (usually, with modifiers) needed to inflict a casualty for each successful hit.
While I don't own any French and Indian War figures (yet), I enjoyed the game and am thinking of buying my own set of rules.
My friend Jesse has owned a Hobbytown USA store in Wilsonville, OR. However, it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago, that I finally managed to visit the place. My girlfriend had to go to Portland, OR for business, so while she was at work, I ventured off on my quest.
Jesse wasn't in that day, but I still spent a couple of hours wandering around the store and pondering what & how much to buy. The store is easy to get to from I-5 and like all Hobbytown stores, caters to a wide variety of hobbyists, from remote control vehicle enthusiasts and paint-ball warriors to model railroaders. The games and toys are largely family-orientated, but there is a sizable wargame and role-playing game section, for us more militant types.
Best of all was the discount rack. Other than the latest Strategy and Tactics issue (#277), everything else I bought came from the discounted area. It was here, that I picked up a copy of Middle Earth Quest for less than half the original retail price.
I also bought four boxes of AT-43 figures, but this will be the subject of another post.
Jesse's staff was very friendly and helpful. Another advantage of shopping in Oregon--no sales tax. (At least at the time of this post).
The following day, my girlfriend and I were in Spokane, WA visiting her family. At one point I managed to re-visit Merlyn's to see if there was anything new they didn't have the last time I was here.
The first thing I grabbed was the latest copy of Zombies!!!, #11 "Death Inc." I have nearly every set, except for #7, Send in the Clowns. This set doesn't really appeal to me. Maybe at a later date, I'll pick up a copy, so I can brag about having the entire Zombies!!! collection.
The background is black felt. For the moon, I Googled "images of orange moon" and selected this photo:
I printed and trimmed the picture, then stuck it on the black felt with scotch tape. The black tones didn't match exactly, so I used "cloning" feature in my Paint.Net program to mask as much of the imperfections as I could.
I must admit, my knowledge of Solomon Kane comes strictly through comic books I read so long ago, I don't remember the actual plots. I've never read any of the actual Kane short stories by Howard. Until I do though, I felt I got very acquainted with the dour Puritan and his quest to rid the world of evil.
This book is chock-full of material ranging from poems and artwork, to publishing history as well as the stories themselves. These are either based on Howard's original work, or inspired by it. There's even a "Kane Meets Conan" adventure, along with a couple of "Kane vs Count Dracula" tales.
Since I had no preconceived notions, I thoroughly enjoyed The Saga of Solomon Kane and give it a 5-star rating. Out of 8 reviews on Amazon.com, 6 other readers also awarded this book 5-star ratings. The other two readers gave it a 2 and 3-star rating. While both of them liked the artwork, which is all black-and-white, the 3-star rater thought the publishers included too many stories, which confused the timeline. (Authors writing a series often have trouble with continuity). Meanwhile, the 2-star rater felt the non-Howard-based tales included too many horror/pulp tropes which made for repetitive reading.
A few years back, Solomon Kane lept from the printed page and on to the big screen. I heard it got panned in Europe, but the movie still managed to open in the US a couple of weeks ago. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes are all over the map, which averages to "okay at best."
Since I missed the theater debut, I'll probably watch it on DVD--and post a review here.
Once again, Fort Steilacoom will be the liar for this year's Fright Night Game Night, sponsored by NHMGS.
Lawrence B., a member of the Ft. Steilacoom Historical Society, and Damond C. will host this year's event. A couple days ago, Damond placed the following invite on the NHMGS Yahoo Group Message Board:
Come join us at Historic Fort Steilacoom for a fun night of Halloween themed gaming by candle light.
Free Saturday, October 27th, 6PM 9601 Steilacoom Boulevard Lakewood, WA 98498
This is the second Fright Night event and we hope to make it an annual tradition. I'm not sure what Lawrence and Damond have cooked-up for games this time. But if last year is any indication, as reported by my friends, Dean on his WAB Corner and Adrian within Rassilon's Matrix, then "spooktacular" time will be had by all.
The book includes: Danger Girl Kamikaze,Danger Girl: Hawaiian Punch and the silly-but-fun spoof on 60's vintage TV shows, The Mod Bods, just to name a few. In Kamikaze, the girls run afoul of the Asian version of the Hammer Empire. I thought this story could have been more developed. However, the manner in which it ended, leaves me to believe--that maybe--we haven't seen the last of this menace.
Danger Girl: Revolver is a return to a single story-arc adventure with uniform artwork. Most exciting of all, the book introduces Sonya, as a new member to the Danger Girls.
Since Natalie Kassel betrayed the team to the Hammer Empire, the Danger Girls have been somewhat short handed. The new gal-pal is a modern-day Artemis and a bounty hunter to boot. In Revolver, hey attempt to thwart a cabal of art thieves and return an artifact to a poor South American village. It's a fun story, but what I liked most about this adventure (besides the artwork) are the glimpses of pre-Danger Girl backstory involving some of the characters and villains.
Both books are the graphic novel equivalents of action-adventure movies; complete with high-velocity chase scenes, outlandish stunts, hyper-sexual tension and comedy relief. Each Danger Girl is strong and talented in her own unique way. Together, they make an irresistable and formidable team.
So I can't resist giving both books 5-star ratings.
I bought the first season of Archer based on the advice from a couple of friends.
I'm very happy I listened to them.
The show, which first aired in 2010, is about super-spy and lout, Sterling Archer, along with the rest of the operatives of the dysfunctional ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service)--headed by Archer's domineering mom.
What did I think of the show?
To paraphrase my friend Joe, Archer is: "Blow-soda-out-your-nose-funny."
Seriously. If you are eating or drinking anything, pause the show, then resume it when you don't have any food or beverage in your mouth.
Out of 138 reviews, 112 are 5-stars. (Mine will be the 113th). The folks who gave it less than 5-stars were peeved at the bonus material. Since I don't get a chance to watch television shows while they're on the air, I didn't feel short-changed about the bonus stuff. The "Unaired Pilot," which drew the most "WTF?" criticism, featured a shrieking dinosaur in place of Sterling Archer. There's a reason why this episode was "unaired." So as long as you don't waste your time watching this pile of dino dung, you'll still enjoy the real episodes.
When I wasn't laughing, I often asked myself: At what point in time does Archer take place? The show's creator, Adam Reed has played fast and loose with history and current events. Archer's antics are set in a unique universe, where the 1960s blends in with 2010.
Unique universe, or otherwise, Archer is popular in the here and now, as these cosplayers at this year's Emerald City Comicon can attest to:
For everything you want to know about Archer, check out the Archer Wiki.
I'm a retired USAF TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) member, now working for Washington State Emergency Management. In addition to being an Emergency Operations Specialist at my day/night/weekend job, I'm a Foreign Affairs Specialist, gamer and writer.
I maintain three blogs as an on-line platform. "Stern Rake Studio," my central site, explores a variety of topics on gaming, pop-culture and writing. "Station WTFO" is where I post comments and discussions on the national and international issues that concern us. Finally, "The Redshift Chronicles," is a spin-off of "Stern Rake Studio." This site focuses on sci-fi gaming and is home to my long-form webcomic "Breakout from Bongolaan."