Tag Archives: Comics

Comics Wrap Up: DC

(Editor’s Note: A�I know that I have the good, bad, and ugly format for review articles. A�However, these comics articles are often going to cover several titles and that format might cause the articles to become so long as to be cumbersome to read. A�I’ll work the good, the bad, and the ugly into the articles somehow, but they won’t be the focal point.)

The title of this article is a bit misleading. A�Unlike Marvel, which has hooked me into buying multiple new books with their Secret Empire event, I’ve only read Batman and Wonder Woman from the DC Rebirth universe. A�That may change with the “Metal” event or as I become more adventurous and branch out into other titles. A�For now, though, enjoy my first edition of comic Wrap Up for Wonder Woman and Batman. A�Only two titles lets me test out some things and figure out what works and doesn’t.

Wonder Woman

Part of the reason that I haven’t gotten into more DC books is that I have been having trouble figuring out starting points for the books that are unfamiliar. A�Due to having grown up an unabashed Marvel zombie, most of the DC books are unfamiliar. A�I’ve always liked Batman, used that to get into Batman/Superman title of the early or mid 2000s, branched out from that into Superman for a very brief time, and not much else.

From the looks of things, Aquaman 25 appears to be a good starting point, so that might be the next DC title that I start collecting.

The new Wonder Woman movie led me to check out the comic book. A�Luckily, the 2nd volume of the trade came out during one of my visits to the store, so I picked it up. A�I found it strange that Volume 2 was titled “Year One” because I then had no idea what the story of the first book might be. A�Having never read any Wonder Woman before, though, I was thankful for the origin story.

After getting the first volume second, which actually made sense in the context of the two books, I did some research. A�I discovered that the writer was intertwining two stories concurrently during a particular story arc. A�As an example, the first 12 issues alternate between the year one origin story and another story where Diana is trying to find her way back to Themyscira. A�The odd issues tell one story and switched to the other for the even issues.

Because I bought the trades, I haven’t been able to experience how they worked together and if it enhanced the narrative at all. A�However, I’m a huge fan of alternative story telling methods. A�I recently watched Shimmer Lake and it was told in reverse. A�Hopefully, he keeps it up and I will be able to see if and how it affects the flow of the stories.

“The Lies” are leading the “The Truth”, which looks similar to a Buffy the Vampire Slayer storyline, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

As far as the stories, they are of high quality. A�Having never read Wonder Woman, I only had the movie to give me any expectations. A�But the origin story moved quickly, set the scene and established characters. A�The other did the exact opposite and is serving to undermine the entire mythology. A�While they are antithetical and you might wonder why he’d immediately work so hard to destroy his creating, the stories oddly fit together. A�I see now how weaving them together A�heightens the drama and keeps the reader on edge. A�It is actually a brilliant strategy.

The Good: A�The stories are fantastic. A�They are well paced and complement one another and bring together what is an unorthodox story telling style that could have gone very badly.

The Bad: A�At least the first 2 arcs that I’ve read will be familiar to Wonder Woman fans. A�They might have switched some things up to modernize it a bit, but it is an origin story.

The Ugly: A�Infinite Crisis, The New 52, now Rebirth? A�Jesus, how many reboots do we need? A�At least they seem committed to this one for the long haul. A�Here’s hoping.

Batman

Unlike Wonder Woman, Batman has been a part of my life since I watched the old TV series with my father. A�I saw several Robins killed. A�Witnessed the Batman broken by Bane. A�Lived through watching the Tim Burton franchise lose all credibility when it grew “bat nipples”. A�Threw out an unenthusiastic “Meh” followed by a slightly less enthusiastic “this is fine” over the announcement and current reign of “Batfleck”. A�So, there’s little that they can do with the character that would surprise me.

So, even though I joined Batman around issue 23, I don’t have an incentive to fill in the first two dozen or so issues via trades. A�I will continue forward. A�If I have some left over some week in my comic budget (not likely), I will grab the trades and see if there’s anything new in the Bat’s history since Rebirth.

Remember when I said that not much could surprise me. Well, more on that in a bit.

As far as the story that I’ve read, I was wrong about there being no surprises. A�The first issue that I read involved a team up with Swamp Thing. A�While only a one off, it was so well written that it hooked me. A�Then, Batman (spoiler alert) proposed to Catwoman. A�Yeah, it’s a gimmick. A�But, holy crap, what a gimmick! A�Plus, the book is so well written with good pacing and dialogue that it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. A�Currently, they’re setting the stage for a huge arc with Joker and The Riddler. A�Chris has said a couple of times that this is his favorite book right now. A�I don’t know if I can say that unequivocally, but there aren’t many, if any books right now that I would put above it on my most anticipated every month.

The Good: A�Again, just good writing. A�Great story, characters are familiar.

The Bad: A�The pacing of the story is a bit odd. A�It’s a good story, but sometimes there’s a little bit too much talk and not enough action.

The Ugly: A�Oh man, that Catwoman thing has worked so far, but it could have been a book killer if they didn’t do it right.

Batman is great. A�Wonder Woman is great. A�For some reason, none of that has led me to explore other books. A�I grew up as a Marvel zombie, a Marvel zombie I remain, and some day I will die and rise from the grave as a true Marvel zombie. A�Secret Empire and the tie in issues have swallowed much of my comic budget. A�However, I’ve mentioned to Chris that the Trinity series looks intriguing and I might have to read some Justice League before the movie comes out in November.

Follow Up: World’s Finest Dicemasters Second Impression

(Editor’s Note: A�Apparently, this is our 200th article on the page. A�If you had told me when we started that we’d make it through these years and 200 articles, I might not have believed it. A�But, it’s proven to be a fun diversion and here’s to another 200 at least! A�Huzzah!)

I already wrote an article about the Dicemasters rainbow draft that the boys and I did for the World’s Finest set. A�I stated at the end of the article that I would not allow anything, not even the new Magic set, to distract me from my regained interest in the game. A�I was right about Magic. A�Hour of Devastation has barely even registered on my radar. A�However, I did not anticipate comic books becoming such an integral part of my life again.

It started off innocently enough. A�Similar to my last extended trips into the Marvel and DC universes, I got sucked in by a gimmick. A�Two gimmicks, in fact, this time. A�DC hooked me with a Wonder Woman movie that looked like it might actually give them more than just Batman. A�(Spoiler Alert: A�It does.) A�Marvel’s mega event, which I have recently learned will only serve to lead into their super ultra mega event, has me buying multiple books per week.

Wait, DC rebooted their reboot of a reboot? We gotta get us some of that!

One last story before I continue with my overall impression of the set. A�Chris went to catch up on recent comics and found several of them sold out. A�Since hearing that, I”ve been trying to figure out a way to get the books that I missed by taking a week off. A�Going forward, I’ll be okay because I just need to set up a pull list. A�But, among those I missed was Secret Empire #5. A�No!

But, this article isn’t about comics. A�I actually have two comic wrap up articles and a solo podcast to discuss comics coming this month. A�It just goes to show how much comics have been consuming my life in the last two months. A�Therefore, I need to shift my focus away from the books and to the dice long enough to write this article. A�Let’s do this.

Dammit, Leeroy.

The last A�time I did a Dicemasters set review as way back during the Age of Ultron days. A�I wrote up a top 10 in the style of an interview with Ultron. A�I am not going to do anything of the sort this time. A�There are several reasons why.

First, I only have limited (zing!) experience with the set. A�I’m not going to do extensive research on an old set just for a gag. A�Second, it is an old set. A�When I reviewed Age of Ultron, it might have even been a preview. A�Hey, we are sometimes on the ball here at 2 Generations Gaming. A�Third, and finally, I’ve resurrected a perfectly fine format to do reviews and previews.

The Good

As a noob who gets most of my enjoyment from how much fun I can have with a set, this seems like a very good set overall. A�In my previous article, I mentioned that I was able to find a couple of different synergies for my time. A�After a failed attempt at building a “Super” team, I settled on a hybrid Super/Bat Family team that worked very well together. A�The boys were able to hold their own, too.

Aiden went with the classic Villain archetype. A�Liam mostly put together a “good stuff” team, and our game was very close and back and forth the whole time. A�He may have even been able to beat me if we played according to the actual rules. A�Even Quinn, the youngest at 6, picked Krypto as one of his cards and then proceeded to try to build a “Super” team of his own. A�I think that he might have been the one who was cutting me. A�As Chris would say, “freaking ungrateful kids.”

I give you life and this is how you repay me? Pray that I am feeling merciful.

All four of us were able to build a suitably strong deck. A�That didn’t happen when we did the Pokemon event. A�That might have had something to do with the quality of the set. A�It might just be that Pokemon is not as good of a game for limited as Magic or Dicemasters. A�Who knows? A�What I do know for sure is that I’d like to test the theory with both games more.

The Bad

There wasn’t much bad that I can attribute to the set. A�Not only were we able to put together good teams for the event, but we also had fun discovering each card and some of the dice in the set are very cool. A�Harley Quinn’s die, for instance, is one that I remember being remarkable for the design. A�However, as Chris said, they’re only dice. A�While they can play around with both color scheme and hero icon design, it is still limited and the ultimate design is just a 6 sided die.

While that, by itself, isn’t bad, it’s not the greatest when you compare it to other games. A�Miniature games, most notably the other super hero game of Heroclix, naturally offer a much wider variety of design. A�The miniatures can take the art from the cards (another aspect of Dicemasters that showcases creativity) and give them life as 3D models. A�I understand that this is nit picking and somewhat comparing apples to oranges. A�However, I’d be lying if I said that Dicemasters is in any way comparable to the other games that I like playing.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fun game. It’s just fun for entirely different reasons and would be a better game if the dice were just miniatures. True, it would be a completely different game. Oh heck, I admit it. This whole section was simply a straw man and I’m terrible at building up terrible arguments.

The Ugly

So, I couldn’t even really make an argument for the bad of this game, so I’m certainly not going to have much to say on the subject of “ugly”. A�All I will say is that Aiden had almost no mercy for his younger brother. A�He was a stone cold killer even though it was Quinn’s first time playing Dicemasters. A�Still, it didn’t sour him on the game because he said that he wants to play again and can’t wait to open the rest of the box.

Mine and Liam’s game was ugly because we didn’t follow the rules completely. A�Instead of recycling our KO’d dice back into our next roll, we put them back into the pool to be drawn who the heck knows when. A�Again, I have no idea how it might have affected the game other than he had something that did one damage to each fielded character, so we could have recycled dudes as new dice much quicker than expected. A�I must have a guilty conscience about that because I keep bringing it up. A�We are going to have to replay that game soon to clear my guilt.

a�?Yes! Yes, I killed him. Pull up the boards and you shall see! I killed him. But why does his heart not stop beating?! Why does it not stop!?a�?

Marvel’s Secret

(Editor’s Note: A�This secret is nothing like Victoria’s. A�Although, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point if Marvel did a series where it was revealed that a major male character wore ladies underwear.)

I’m not a huge presence on social media. A�Imagine my surprise then, when my feeds blew up a few months ago with the news that Captain America was a Nazi. A�First, if that seems incongruous, you are not alone. A�Along with many others, I took to Twitter (something I almost never do), to express my dismay at this development.

I also texted Chris about the news. A�We had our usual “old man” conversation about the state of comics. A�The stories aren’t as good! A�It’s a dying medium! A�They’ve run out of ideas and are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks! A�This is a dumb idea to sell more comics and it will probably backfire!

And, yes, you damn kids better stay off my lawn!

Our old man sensibilities might have been right on for some of that, but we were dead wrong on the point that it might backfire. A�After reading the main comics, I went to the store to pick up some of the tie in issues. A�Well, during that trip, I discovered that a few of them were sold out. A�So, yeah, Marvel’s money making scheme has worked on more than just me. A�Know that I’m not the only sucker still out there made me feel a bit better.

Obligatory spoiler warning: A�Look, I don’t give 2 craps about spoilers, so this article will probably contain a buttload (an actual measurement by the way) of then. A�Let this be your lone warning.

I’m pretty sure that issue #0 is a reprint of a previous comic. A�Even if it is not, as a guy jumping in after almost 2 decades away, I was glad for the recap. A�Plus, it is well written and the art is by Steve McNiven, so it is top notch. A�It absolutely added to my enjoyment of the book. A�Some artists distract from the story by going over the top and others are just bad, but not him. A�I’ve always liked his work and I’m glad they put him on another major even book. A�I’m a bit bummed that they don’t have him working with Millar to recreate the Civil War magic, but Nick Spencer is doing well so far as writer.

No snarky comment. Just admiration of his talent.

So, what is this great story that made even you jump on board with the Captain America, Hydra Supreme angle? A�First, let’s all admit that we know that this isn’t going to last. A�There will be some conclusion to bring Cap back to his Nazi hating self. A�Sure, the even might finish with him in custody after Hydra surrenders or is otherwise defeated. A�However, it’s only a matter of time before ol’ Steve Rogers returns. A�In fact, it may have already happened.

Until they, they’ve given an outlandish, though not entirely implausible explanation for the transformation. A�Bear in mind that when I say “implausible”, we are talking about a universe in which Hulk ripped Wolverine into two pieces and the top half had to crawl to the top of a mountain to retrieve the bottom half. A�So, with that in mind, Red Skull apparently altered or recreated reality so that Captain America was raised from a young age as a Hydra agent. A�He was destined t become the Hydra Supreme and did so through a takeover of SHIELD and eventually the entire country.

His plan included isolating a group of heroes in space against a neverending attack from Chitauri drones. A�Another phase trapped a portion of Manhattan in a dark dimension. A�By the end of issue #1, he had moved into DC to capture the White House. A�I will say this about Hydra. A�They probably keep the trains running on time.

Okay, I admit. That was in poor taste. I’m sorry.

Issue #1 explored the resistance a bit by introducing a character that gets “saved” by them. A�There is also some development of the Cap character in that he is shown as little more than a figurehead as leader of Hydra. A�I will keep this part in suspense because it involves a death, but Steve isn’t able to “pull the trigger” so to speak.

While the resistance story is expected and predictable, I’m intrigued by the Captain America angle. A�In the past, Steve Rogers has been nothing if not committed to his values. A�Even during Civil War, he was willing to play the villain and split the super hero community over his opposition of the Registration Act. A�To see him conflicted to such a degree is both surprising and encouraging that some of the old Cap might be shining through the darkness.

This thread is tugged a bit harder in Issue #2. A�We see that, in fact, Captain America ultimately did not make the fateful decisions in issue #1. A�That fact weighs heavily on him and he feels a bit out of his element. A�Black Widow does what she does and attempts to set off on her own, but she is quickly joined by others and they set up a new team to fight against Hydra and take down Cap.

Surely, you know me well enough to know that was all just an excuse to show Scarlett Johansson.

The issue ends with a moment that literally had me say, “Oh ****” out loud and cement my interest in the story. A�I went from openly antagonistic to mildly interested in the main title to needing to buy all of the tie ins and read them, too. A�They aren’t crucal to your understanding, but they do fill in nicely. A�Plus, there aren’t a ton of them and the event is fairly short, so I don’t mind keeping up with them.

Look, I admit that I’m an easy mark. A�I can usually find some redeeming quality about most creative projects. A�But, this one is genuinely good. A�I can’t nor won’t necessarily recommend the tie ins unless you have the extra money. A�However, if you’re looking for a new series, getting back in after an extended break like me, or any other reason you might have, I say absolutely get the main series. A�You won’t be disappointed.

The Itch

Ah, comics…just the word brings back happy memories of sifting through bargain bins at a nearby sports card shop and of trudging every week to an office supply store in the center of town A�that inexplicably carried Marvel Comics. A�Ah, early 90’s, how I miss your $1.00 cover prices.

As I mentioned way back, maybe a couple of years ago, I had grown tired of my comic collection and decided to part ways with it via Craigslist. It seemed like digital comics were taking over and my comics were just sitting in boxes with just a few key Silver age issues on display in my man cave. To this day, it was one of the dumbest things I’ve done. A�It’s one thing to sell a collection of Modern age books, but it’s another thing to sell a collection of Silver age. Those, well..you don’t sell those. A�A few months ago, seemingly out of nowhere I got the itch. A�You know what I’m talking about; that itch so deeply rooted in your brain that the only way to scratch it is by running out of your house screaming like a lunatic and buying that game, comic, miniature, ..etc that you just have to have. A�For me, that itch was Tales of Suspense #81. It was my favorite cover from my old collection and I just had to own it again.

I figured that if I immersed myself in MTG and built some new decks, the comic bug would fade away. A�It did not however, instead it intensified becoming a nerdy tornado of materialism..I couldn’t stop thinking about comics. A�When I was at work, I was reading CBR.com and Newsarama.com articles. At night I would spend hours traveling through page after page at collectors-society.com, (You want to get hooked on comics? Go there. You’ve been warned.). Finally, in an effort to regain my sanity I logged onto eBay and found a copy of TOS #81 for $12 and bought it. No auction or “make an offer” bullcrap for me, I just bought that sucker. A�It was mine again.. that’s all I needed just that one issue…wait, what’s that? Tales to Astonish #91 with only a few seconds left?! Mine! House of Mystery #219?! For $6.00?! Mine! Oh man! I loved the McFarlane run on Amazing Spider-Man! Issue #318! Mine! It was a long night that night. I was exhausted the next morning at work but not as exhausted as my bank account.

A couple of days later, I found myself standing in Newbury comics with my better half, Caitlyn, eyeballing the newest issues on the shelf. I wasn’t sure I wanted to jump back into collecting new books just yet, but she convinced me to do so. She said that it makes me happy so it’s worth the inflated cover prices. A�She also made me proud by buying herself a Thor infinity scarf. A�It didn’t take much convincing for me to jump back in head first. After only a few minutes I had accrued about $40 worth of comics. A�Thankfully, it was a Monday evening and they have a BOGO sale on Mondays (you’re welcome, corporate guy at Newbury..could we get some swag?), so my wallet didn’t take a beating. A�Honestly, it was fun to buy comics again, I had never stopped reading them, but there is something about the hunt for that one issue, the interactions you have with fellow collectors, and of course the feeling of holding that book in your hand and not just viewing it on an iPad (iPad plug, Apple, send a couple our way). I also noticed that there is more of a diverse audience for them. Just by being in Newbury for 30 minutes, I saw men, women, kids, all flipping through comics. This is probably due to the emergence of comics in mainstream media via movies and tv shows. I think it’s fantastic that people are finally understanding that comics are not just for kids. A�Now if the publishers could just stop the reboot nonsense, we would be golden. As for me, I’m proud to say that I’m a collector again. A�My goal is to regain most of the Silver age issues I sold and build from there, maybe it’ll happen and maybe it won’t but regardless it’ll be fun to try.

 

 

Geeks Unite!

(Editor’s Note: A�Are you or do you know someone who identifies as a nerd, gamer, geek, dork, dweeb, or freak? A�If so, this is the place for you. A�Come on in and make yourself comfortable)

Non-tenured adjunct professor? Sounds like you're almost as important as the assistant to the regional manager.
Non-tenured adjunct professor? Sounds like you’re almost as important as the assistant to the regional manager.

As I’ve mentioned more than once, I’m a teacher. A�Technically, right now, I am a non-tenured adjunct professor at two community colleges. A�Who cares about titles, though, right? A�If this article is your introduction to the page, welcome! A�I hope you enjoy your stay. A�Either way, the point is that underneath the sometimes gamer rage filled geek persona is a possibly respectable adult with a respectable job, a loving family, and all of the sitcom style hilarity that ensues.

You hear that Hollywood? My life is a movie or TV show waiting to happen.
You hear that Hollywood? My life is a movie or TV show waiting to happen.

Two weeks ago we were supposed to take a field trip with our classes. A�Never mind the comments that I got from friends and family about how weird field trips in college sound and what a waste of time the class was. A�Maybe I will talk more about those on my soon to be web page, “1 Middle Aged Guy Seeks Therapy”. A�The trip and the class aren’t ultimately important to the story. A�I am using a writing technique known as “setting the stage”.

Well, the field trip never happened to due a miscommunication. A�Due to no adequate back up plan on my part, we ended up wasting our time watching Gravity. A�Decent movie, by the way, if you’re perpetually behind the times in pop culture, like I am.

A movie based entirely on the premise of "what else can go wrong?"
A movie based entirely on the premise of “what else can go wrong?”

Waiting an hour and a half for a bus that ultimately will never show gives you ample time for idle conversation. A�Bus and train stops (and the vehicles themselves), airports, and even elevators (if you’re brave enough to say “Hi” instead of staring straight ahead trying to pretend that there isn’t other people in there until it arrives at your stop) are all weirdly intimate. A�People will not only talk. A�They will often share surprisingly intimate details of their lives with you. A�The internet has had a similar effect on many people.

Hell, this guy told anyone who would listen about his dead friend in the war, his mom sleeping with strangers to pay the mortgage, his dead girlfriend and wife, and every other damn thing.
Hell, this guy told anyone who would listen about his dead friend in the war, his mom sleeping with strangers to pay the mortgage, his dead girlfriend and wife, and every other damn thing.

As we waited, I learned quite a bit about both my students and the students in the class being run concurrent to ours. A�They also learned some things about me. A�The conversation that led to much of this discovery started with an innocent observation and question. A�I noticed that one of the students from the other class was wearing a shirt with the design below.

&

 

If you are like me and you spend your formative teenage years in basements rolling dice instead of joints, you recognize that ampersand immediately. A�It took some courage to ask the obvious question. A�While wearing a D&D T-shirt is more an admission of your status, some people want to keep such topics secret in mixed company. A�I ultimately decided to just put it out there and deal with the consequences.

“Do you play?” A�I pointed at the shirt.

“I do.” A�The student responded.

We then went on to discuss Roll 20 because that was her preferred method to play the game. A�I replied that a friend and I tried to get a game going through the site, but it fell apart. A�She plays Roll 20 mostly because the local play groups (that I’ve considered joining) are not very open to new members. A�What did I say? A�Some geeks are just very protective of their culture. A�We may have ultimately won the war, but those battle wounds from wedgies and swirlies run deep.

We discussed World of Warcraft briefly. A�We both came to the conclusion that 5 million others have. A�Fifteen dollars a month isn’t much, but it is more than we are willing to pay grinding the same content with different skins over and over again. A�During this part of the conversation, one of my own students interjected with, “You game? A�I never expected that.”

That, folks, as I often feel the need to explain, is the point of the article. A�People who play games are all around us. A�Geek culture has infiltrated pop culture to such a degree that the two are virtually indistinguishable. A�However, the willingness to admit that you play games or read comics in mixed company is still low. A�As I said, the scars of the past run deep.

I'm not sure why we're so skittish about our passions.  Hell, we even got this guy on our side now.
I’m not sure why we’re so skittish about our passions. Hell, we even got this guy on our side now.

Nevertheless, as we talked about on the most recent podcast, we are the first generation to grow up with video game and, to an extent, games like D&D. A�Previous generations mostly only had comic books as their escape (and later D&D) if they didn’t quite fit the mold. A�Some parents and teachersA�did a good job of branding both comic books and RPGs as only for kids or otherwise unsuitable for polite society. A�The same was almost done for video games. A�Thankfully, video games came of age at a time when the internet was gaining popularity. A�Geeks that once suffered in silence alone or in their small circle of friends could now congregate and battle as a team. A�It may have been this development that also saved comics and led to the explosion of comic themed pop culture we see today.

Don't you see now, Dave?  We make the perfect team.
Don’t you see now, Dave? We make the perfect team. A�We are meant for each other. A�I dare say, “I love you.” A�

Why, then, do we find ourselves still unwilling to admit our enjoyment of these things? A�Sure, some people look down on them as diversions or a complete waste of time. A�Nerds and geeks are shunned from some groups and jokes of social awkwardness are widely accepted. A�I actually don’t mind the jokes much. Some of them are even funny and are the basis of a once upon a time very funny TV show. A�I haven’t checked in lately, but I hear that its not the same, which is to be expected after so many years.

What I’m trying to say is that we’re everywhere. A�You never know when or where you will meet another comic fan, Magic player, Twitch chat user (actually, they are easy to spot, especially Hearthstone viewers, by their casual use of words like “Kappa” in every day conversation), XBox or Playstation owner, WoW addict, or other kindred spirit. A�We are Legion. A�We are many.

Then again, perhaps that's not the best quote to represent us.
Then again, perhaps that’s not the best quote to identify us.

Fly your geek flag high and proud.

Yeah, that's better.
Yeah, that’s better.

Dice, Dice Baby

(Editor’s Note: A�Depending on the demographics of our audience, that might be a severely bad reference. A�Either way, it’s a bit of a stretch, I admit.)

I went to Wal*Mart a couple of days ago. A�By itself, that isn’t newsworthy. A�I go to Wal*Mart several times a week. A�Sometimes I go there twice or three times in the same day. A�In fact, I think that I’ve been to “Big Blue” at least once a day for the past week. A�The trips aren’t usually worth mentioning. A�During this trip, I checked their game aisle. A�Again, not really out of the ordinary. A�I check the aisle almost every time I’m there, even though it rarely changes in any significant way. A�However, I went there for Aiden and Quinn, who had $10 each of birthday money burning a hole in their pockets. A�Aiden wanted Pokemon cards and Quinn wanted a Pokeball with a miniature Pokemon. A�I found both things, but initially nothing for me. A�I had just bought 15 packs of Magic a couple of days earlier, so you can argue that I didn’t need anything. A�Then again, does anyone ever “need” more collectibles?

The previous paragraph brought to you by Wal*Mart.  I wish.  I hate the place, but I'm not above taking their money.  *hint, hint*
The previous paragraph brought to you by Wal*Mart. I wish. I hate the place, but I’m not above taking their money. *hint, hint*

So, why am I wasting your time with this story about my trip to Wal*Mart? A�You must be new here. A�In that case, welcome! A�(If not, skip to the next paragraph.) I hope you enjoy the page and podcast. A�I do things a bit less conventionally than other gaming sites. A�I wander off on tangents. A�I abuse parenthetical phrases. A�Luckily, I often warn you when I lose focus and I (almost) always wind up back on topic eventually.

Oh, what’s this? A�I notice that Wal*Mart now carries Dice Masters. A�I’ve heard of the game through my research into Heroclix. A�Also, for some reason, I am in a Dice Masters community on Google+. A�Yeah, I know, but I don’t have a phone and it lets me text using my tablet. A�I never considered the game–not seriously, at least–until Free Comic Book Day.

The actual day turned out to be less about free comics and more about riding bikes, but that’s okay. A�The best days are often those that do go according to plan. A�We eventually made it to the store for the books, but it was too late and there wasn’t much of a selection. A�As he often does, since he is under the impression that money is limitless, Aiden asked me to buy him everything from new Pokemon cards to a keychain for keys that he doesn’t own. A�While dodging his persistent demands, I saw that the store offered Dice Masters.

“That’s a fun game”. A�The store owner offered. A�Unsure whether he meant it or was just trying to make a sale, I forced a nod, pretended to admire the packaging a little longer, and escaped with my uninspiring free comics and unmolested wallet. A�That’s how I learned about Dice Masters.

You never know when or how an addiction will start.
You never know when or how an addiction will start.

The story does not end there, loyal readers! A�Oh, no! A�As I have said, our main mission at 2 Guys Gaming is to make games fun. A�Part of that fun is discovering new games. A�Another part of that fun, for me, is playing those new games with my sons. A�You can, of course, see where this incredibly obvious plot twist is taking us. A�Please, though, no spoilers. A�Allow this frustrated story teller a moment of intrigue and surprise.

The shop owner’s comment stayed with me. A�I mentioned it to Chris, who showed some interest in playing. A�I put the game on our tentative schedule for discussion on the podcast later in the year. A�I let the comment “That’s a fun game” marinate in my brain stew until it reached the proper level of roasted succulence. A�Well, now, that was a weird metaphor. A�I must be hungry.

No matter how I ended up in the gaming aisle at the local Wal*Mart looking at the Dice Masters and thinking back on my brief history with the game, there I was. A�It didn’t take long to make the decision to get the Avengers v. X-Men Starter Pack. A�They also had the DC Justice League Starter, but I am an unabashed Marvel zombie.

Avengers vs. X-Men Starter Pack contents.
Avengers vs. X-Men Starter Pack contents.

I brought the boys home their spoils. A�Aiden immediately broke open his packs and they have gotten him back into the Pokemon mood. A�We played two games this afternoon and he kicked my butt severely. A�I got away from my comfort zone of darkness and psychic type and tried to build a fighting and water deck. A�Unfortunately, Quinn got a hold of my deck and the Blastoise EX never made it back. A�The replacement EX got buried in my prize cards and he handled my Pokemon pretty well with one of his. A�After I KO’d his first Pokemon, he used a great strategy to get a strong one off of his bench to destroy me.

Quinn, since he is 4, absolutely loved his Pokeball and Pokemon. A�I found the other figures that they previously owned and he played with them for a day or two. A�It now sits forgotten somewhere in the house. A�Sad and lonely, it waits to be played again. A�Hopefully, Quinn finds it before something drastic happens. A�I will spare you the dark depths of my mind and tales of toy suicide. A�Just pray with me for the poor Dusk Ball. A�It has a family (possibly) and friends (presumably) that love and care about it.

It *is* a Dusk Ball, so it is pretty emo to begin with.
It *is* a Dusk Ball, so it is pretty emo to begin with.

Well, despite my better intentions, that got dark. A�Let’s get back to having fun. A�After giving them their stuff, I sat at the dining room table to learn the game. A�Christine made fun of me for playing with myself. A�That one is for you, perverts. A�I wanted to make sure that I understood the game before trying to teach the boys.

The starter set rule book illustrated a very helpful tutorial game. A�I played through that solo and got a much better grasp of the game than I have even for Heroclix after playing a full game. A�That might have more to do with Heroclix being a more complex game, but it was nice to have the tutorial as an introduction. A�They also wrote a more complication explanation of a turn, but I didn’t read that. A�I don’t have infinite time. A�The tutorial is more than enough to learn the basics of the game and it is not nearly as complex as Magic or Heroclix. A�There is still strategy and decision making, but it is an easy game to pick up and play right away. A�I taught both of the boys how to play in less than a half an hour total.

They both took to the game like a fish in water. A�Is that even a saying? A�Probably not, but they did love the game. A�We had plans for Memorial Day weekend with the in-laws and they asked to bring the game to the cookout. A�We played many more games over the next few days. A�It has gotten busy with school, Tae Kwon Do, field trips, and soccer, so we haven’t played much recently.

...and the Justice League contents.  Batman is off fighting crime somewhere in Gotham.
…and the Justice League contents. Batman is off fighting crime somewhere in Gotham.

Even so, I ended up buying the Justice League starter set, too. A�While the one starter offers a wide variety of teams and games possible, I also wanted to play as Batman and maybe Superman. A�Little did I know that Aiden would discover Deathstroke as one of the most OP characters we’ve played. A�I want to keep expanding into other sets and buy more dice for the sets that we have. A�While each game has been different due to the variety, you can never have too many cards or dice. A�My wife, of course, would disagree, but I don’t take her advice in these matters.

The game is fun to play. A�It is easy to pick up and learn strategy as you play. A�My kids, especially Aiden, love it. A�Even with a limited collection (one starter set for around 15 dollars) the games are virtually limitless in their possibilities. A�Booster packs are cheaper than Magic or Heroclix. A�The game isn’t as collectible as those other games, but that’s a minor consideration. A�I would definitely recommend this game to any gamer who is looking to expand into something new, fun, and quick.

Small Superhero Slugfest

(Editor’s Note: A�Sorry for being AWOL lately. A�End of the semester is always a busy time. A�You think that I’d learn from previous semesters and adjust. A�You’d be wrong.)

In my last article, I went through my, admittedly flawed and possibly crooked, thought process behind the team that I drafted in our first Heroclix game. A�Chris answered with one of his own, but he one upped me by giving a play by play of the actual game, too. A�I mentioned at the end of my last article that I might do the same. A�However, I am notorious for neglecting and ignoring deadlines. A�It is good, then, that Chris tossed the ball back to me. A�Otherwise, you might have been denied this highly entertaining and insightful commentary. A�No, really, I mean it this time.

When we last left our intrepid heroes, I picked Captain Marvel (100 points…really 150, but I either can’t read, can’t do math, or intentionally cheated. A�It isn’t entirely clear which of the three is true), Swamp Thing (200, 150, 100…that last one is perfect for a 100 point Captain Marvel), Recorder (35 points), Manphibian (60 points), and Dire Wraith (55 points). A�I knew nothing about Dire Wraith. A�I still don’t. A�I pretended that my decision was difficult. A�It wasn’t. A�Under the mistaken impression of a 100 point Captain Marvel, my team basically built itself. A�Spoiler Alert: A�Who the hell is Dire Wraith and why does he look so weird? A�Draft drafted, team chosen. A�Time for the action!

As I said, Chris included his version of what happened in the game. A�I’m glad for that because I only have a vague recollection of the events on the night in question. A�I’ve often heard about how unreliable eye witness testimony is, but never experienced it to such a degree. A�As soon as I got home, I thought about writing this article. A�I texted Chris the day after to tell him that I wished that I’d written down the important pieces from the draft and the game because I didn’t remember any of it. A�He saved my butt by giving me his draft order. A�That, along with his article, might just be enough so that I sound like I know what I’m talking about. A�No promises, though.

We had two maps as choices. A�I got one that came with my Avengers starter pack. A�Chris got two of the same map from one of his orders. A�I checked both maps to see if either had any water in the starting areas so that Manphibian could get a movement bonus. A�I know what you’re thinking. A�It’s not bad enough that I cheated when I put together the team. A�Now, I need to get even more of an advantage through terrain manipulation. A�Well Mr. (or Mrs., Miss., Ms, whatever) Judgmental, I will have you know that once I saw that there was no advantage, I graciously deferred to allow Chris to pick the map.

heroclix map
Similar map to the one that I brought.

He chose his map after we both agreed that the map that I brought would be awkward for our purposes. A�My map, as would be expected, centered on the Avengers. A�One side was Stark Tower and the other side was the Helicarrier similar to the one shown above. A�Neither of us wanted to consider what might happen if one of our characters got knocked off the side. A�Therefore, we found ourselves battling it out for superhero supremacy in Dr. Strange’s mansion. A�I’m glad that it wasn’t just some random mansion. A�I feel better about our heroes destroying the place.

heroclix map 2
The map that we used.

Heroes drafted? A�Check. A�Teams chosen? A�Check. A�Map selected? A�Check. A�Starting area and characters set up? A�Check. A�Now what? A�Time to figure out how the hell to play this game. A�Check the powers and abilities cards for each character and the reference sheet. A�Wow, some of these characters have a ton of abilities. A�This is how far they can move. A�That is their hit modifier. A�This is their range. A�Okay, got it. A�Go.

Chris wins the die roll. A�I think that he jokes that it will be “the last thing I win” or “I’ve got to win something in this game”. A�If only he knew how accurate that statement would turn out to be. A�He started by moving his characters to the entrance of the mansion. A�I saw this as an opportunity to get my tanky character in the middle to muck things up. A�I also took Chris a bit by surprise by applying actual strategy. A�While Man Thing kept a couple of his characters busy on the stairs, I sent the others to flank him on either side.

Wait, what did Chris just say? A�He asked about some color. A�I check the dial for one of my characters. A�Each number is a color. A�Oh, that’s why there are so many powers listed. A�Each power corresponds to a color and a symbol. A�Now I got it? A�Not completely, but enough to get through this game and familiarize myself more later.

His first character died very quickly. A�After that, it became a war of attrition with our guys trading hits back and forth while my guy (Manphibian) kept missing Spider-Girl. A�I finally got smart and broke off one prong of my attack by moving Recorder into a support role first in the middle. A�He did nothing to break that stalemate, so I sent him to help Manphibian, who continued to suffer from my terrible luck and couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel. A�Dr. Druid actually got stronger as he clicked down, so he broke through and KO’d Captain Marvel.

sand
Manphibian missed every single one of the millions of grains and broke his leg falling off.

That actually allowed me to stop messing around. A�I moved Man Thing into melee range and just started pounding face. A�He also has some kind of poison aura that caused extra damage. A�After finishing off Dr. Druid, he joined the fracas with Recorder and Manphibian. A�Overwhelmed, the rest of his team (it might have just been Spider-GIrl at this point) eventually got KO’d.

I enjoyed the game. A�I always like the draft strategy in games even though I don’t get to implement it very often against other people. A�I do a draft a week in Magic Online, but that’s about it. A�I have been thinking about going to one of the local stores for their FNM draft, too. A�Sorry about that. A�This article isn’t about Magic. A�It’s just that Magic is the only reference that i have right now to compare table top games. A�Back to the topic. A�I like that you have to make up the strategy for your deck or team based on the characters or cards available from the packs rather than getting to choose from everything in your collection. A�It forces you to focus.

As for the game itself, I enjoyed playing it. A�Even though neither Chris nor I implemented much of a strategy in our game, Heroclix obviously offers a much different set than Magic. A�The map, movement of characters, powers that may change as the dial is clicked, and the randomness of the dice all lead to an ever evolving strategy during the game. A�Look, I’m an a noob and all, but I know that each game of Magic offers multiple lines of play and that you have to adjust based on changing conditions. A�In the end, though, it is still just cards fighting cards. A�Don’t get me wrong. A�I still love Magic and will continue to play it, but I’m also enjoying the variety of the new games. A�(Side note: A�My sons and I have been playing a ridiculous amount of Dice Masters lately. A�More on that next week.) A�We started the web page and podcast to bring fun back to games. A�We’ve been successful with that. A�As sometimes happens with these ventures, there are unintended consequences. A�One of those is the introduction of these new games. A�The other is that I have gotten to share all of these games with my kids. A�So far, they’ve liked Marvel vs. Capcom and Dice Masters the best. A�We tried Heroclix when they were younger, but the game was too fragile and complex for them at that age. A�Maybe its time to try again.

Mini Marvel Maulers

(Editor’s Note: A�Join the NoobA�as he defiles yet another strategic game with his own special brand of ignorance.)

We recorded Episode 6 of the podcast this past weekend. A�We also tried to record some videos of Heroclix openings. A�I got a new computer, so the videos aren’t of the best quality and we will try again next month. A�It also took us a few tries to figure out how the microphone interacted with the new PC and I’m not sure we completely did. A�If the audio is bad this month, I apologize. A�Bear with us as we iron out all of these wrinkles. A�I can’t keep using that excuse indefinitely, but I’ll take any slack you offer. A�We’re not professionals, after all, just 2 guys gaming.

Speaking of gaming (how about that segue), we took a break from Magic to play some Heroclix. A�One of us suggested the game as both a topic for the show and to offer some variety during our monthly game nights. A�It served both purposes well. A�Due to time restrictions, we only got to play one game. A�Still, I can say with confidence that it was the first game of many. A�Personally, I can’t wait to play again.

gotgspidey

We decided to initiate ourselves into the world of Heroclix with a booster draft. A�I brought my Guardians of the Galaxy pack that my four year old pried open, already putting Chris in a suspicious mood. A�This mood will pay off with actual shenanigans on my part, so stay tuned. A�Chris provided one from the Amazing Spider-Man series. A�On first glance, none of the characters in my pack looked terribly impressive. A�I should probably mention that I have been very busy with finals at school lately and have not been able to research the game at all. A�Even so, the characters in the other box looked way cooler. A�I think that it was mostly just Man Thing that had me all hot and bothered…no comments, perverts. A�As I found out, he is a bad ass, but I had no way of knowing that. A�Hell, while we played, I checked all of their abilities on the chart every single turn. A�The model just looked amazing and boy, was that Man Thing big….okay, I’m done.

Now, on to the draft. A�I will give the picks that Chris made each round after my picks and admittedly ignorant analysis. A�Maybe Chris can give his thought process in another article. A�*hint, hint* A�A final warning: A�Seeing as how neither of us ever played the game before, we probably did not adhere to time limits during the draft process. A�No one pick ever took longer than a few minutes. A�Still, we gave one another ample time to consider each choice. A�As with most of our gaming, we just took a more casual approach.

cmPack 1, Pick 1: A�My pack consisted of Captain Marvel (the Carol Danvers version), Crystal, Recorder, Deathurge, and Dire Wraith. A�This pick was easy. A�I took the most expensive–and strongest, I hoped–character. A�She took up so many points, but I figured she’d be worth it. A�Chris took Dr. Druid, a solid first pick.

Pack 2, Pick 1: A�Chris passed me Man-Thing, Werewolf, Spider-Girl, and Manphibian. A�mtI briefly considered Werewolf and Manphibian, but ultimately picked Man-Thing. A�He is just too strong. A�Plus, he has the flexibility of multiple point values. A�(I need to mention now that, at the time, I mistakenly read Captain Marvel as 100, not 150 points. A�Yes, a math teacher who can’t do math. A�’Merica! A�My team was illegal for a 300 point game. A�Dang. A�I tried so hard to put together the best team given the quota. A�All for naught.) A�Chris, not a cheater, picked Crystal.

recorderPack 1, Pick 2: A�After picking what I considered to be the core of my team, I started looking for support. A�Of the three remaining, Recorder had the strongest ability in that capacity, as far as I can tell. A�Chris takes Werewolf. A�Had I not been a cheater, I’d probably have taken him instead of Man-Thing, but who knows.

manphPack 2, Pick 2: A�Left with Manphibian and Spider-Girl, I take the chance that we might play an outside map with water so that he will have a movement bonus. A�I consider Spider-Girl for her support power, but I take the chance. A�Chris takes Deathurge, who I now notice has a point value of 140. A�He might be actually be strong. A�I will have to look at him again.

dwLeftover: A�I pass Chris Spider-Girl and receive Dire Wraith. A�Before this game, I had no idea that it was even a thing. A�If I read Captain Marvel’s point value right, he’d have become an integral part of my team. A�You can all see and understand why I cheated now, right?

I will write another article for post on Friday that discusses my strategy in putting together my team. A�I will also talk about the game that we played in that article. A�Tonight and tomorrow are reserved for editing the podcast. A�Until then, Excelsior and best of luck in your Mini Marvel adventures!

Episode 5 – Marvelous!

On the Tabletop – We’re taking a break on the tabletop from Magic for a month to talk about our first impressions of Heroclix.  More on the game in a couple of months!

The Digital Playground – We might only be kids at heart, but we shower the Lego video games with plenty of love!

Stay after the credits and closing theme to listen to two old guys complain about how terrible comics are these days.  Get off our lawn!