Tag Archives: Celebrate Indie Gaming in July 2023

2 Guys Game LotR Commander


I mentioned once or twice over this most recent iteration of the page that I more or less made it into an online journal for myself with some ambition of still trying to find like minded gamers. It humbles me to say that even with my new focus on maintaining a presence through the book club and YouTube series that second goal still eludes me. But, as it is a minor secondary goal, I don’t feel too bad about it. In the interest of the first goal, I present 2 Guys Game LotR commander.

Before that, though, I need to remark that Chris and I talked a couple of times about bringing back the main podcast. He mentioned it again at the end of our gaming session the other day. Our other companion, Jason, said, “You have a podcast?” I remarked, somewhat tongue in cheek, “Well, I have a podcast.” Then, Chris explained that we recorded a few episodes many years ago. I replied that I thought about abandoning the page until I saw that next year is our 10th anniversary. Something to be said for keeping it alive that long.

The Set Up

Chris and I planned to get together before our Germany trip. Something came up and we cancelled again, but promised one another that as soon as we got back, we’d make plans again. Actually true to our word this time, we made plans to play some video games and Magic the Gathering last Friday.

First, some more background. During the time that Quinn and Liam practiced for Willy Wonka, I threw a bit of a fit in the group chat with Chris and Jason. Things got awkward and the chat went silent for a bit. I saw a card in spoilers and wanted to share. Braving the land that I razed, I shared the card in the group chat. Jason and Chris both responded. He accepted my apology and Chris invited him to our game night. He accepted. So, while not inaccurate, the title doesn’t tell the whole story.

The card that repair burned bridges.

The First Match (2 Guys Game LotR commander)

So, how did I, your intrepid author, end up playing cards I talked a bit of smack about only mere months ago? Well, (a) I never claim to be above hypocrisy especially of the gaming variety and (b) Chris and Jason bought the cards and wanted to play. So, when Chris suggested that we try the LotR precon commander decks, I figured, “Why the heck not?”

He gave me the choice of decks. I picked Galadriel because she matched my color scheme that I always get when I play, “What MTG colors are you?” He and Jason flipped for the other deck. Dang. I thought I might want to write an article, but never took notes, so I can’t remember which deck Jason played. I know Chris played Sauron, but swapped out Saruman because of possible mana restrictions. Oh, I just looked them up on Amazon. Jason played Eowyn.

As I looked through the deck and then played, I saw that (probably predictably) the Galadriel deck did elf things. It makes 1/1s, buffs them, and eventually attacks for the win. However, as Chris discovered, the blue mana serves a purpose, too. “It doesn’t matter what deck you get,” he complained when he tried to cast into open blue, “you always get those control cards.”

Nevertheless, in a tale as old as time, I misplayed several turns and ended up with a wiped board and only 6 health. While nobody actually swung against me for lethal, I saw the writing on the wall and scooped. Jason beat Chris, or he scooped, too. In any case, Jason took the win. As Chris later said, “I’m sick of losing to that guy.”

The Intermission

Jason ordered and went to get food for dinner. I ate before leaving and Chris had pizza. So, when he left, Chris fired up one of the EA Sports NHL games. I don’t know the actual number. He and I played one period of hockey (I won 8-4 or something along those lines) while Jason ate. After the game, we contemplated what to do next. More commander, of course? But, LotR again? Or, one of our other decks?

The Second Match

I picked my landfall deck. It’s the most well tuned and the one I play the most, so I stood the best chance at possibly winning. Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor commands that deck. Chris went with Prossh, Skyraider of Kher. Jason picked his dragons over zombies. So, he chose Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients as his commander.

As usual, I raced out to a pretty good head start. I triggered landfall a few times, drew Wrenn and Six, and a sac land. However, again, I realized too late that I misplayed against Chris’s strategy and ran out of gas pretty early. Then again, a Felidar retreat at any point or Emeria Angel earlier in the game put me in a better position to win. That’s just sour grapes, though, because I drew cards to wait out the sacrifice combo that Chris put together for a few turns. So, Jason overran Chris with Dragon Spirits and I died with a possible winning combo in hand.

The Verdict

Jason mentioned during clean up that he had no idea how his deck might fare against “real people”. Chris bristled at the comment, so he clarified it as “competitive” people. Chris again protested, but I owned it. When it comes to Magic, I just want to play and have fun. Win or lose, that almost always happens. So, while Chris and Jason get into a potential arms race, I’m content to just cast my silly elves and plant tokens.

Oh, I want a Craterhoof for my Galadriel deck, though. I hope you enjoyed what might become a series, 2 Guys Game LotR commander.

Undertale – What’s Next?


When I planned this article at the beginning of the week, I hoped that I beat the game at least through one of the endings. Alas, best laid plans and all that. Instead, I played through the first level and part of the second level on Wednesday and wrote about my thoughts then. So the obvous answer to the question Undertale – What’s Next?

Beat the game through at least one of the levels.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but that needs to happen before I can even consider any other possibilities in the game and beyond. Those who follow the page know that I am, by no sense of the word, a completist when it comes to games. I think I have exactly two 100%s on my resume. Super Mario 64 and Ratchet and Clank. That’s it. A couple of years ago, I tried to follow Quinn on his mission to get all achievements in Minecraft. I also worked to finish MK11 last year. Both ended in utter failure.

*something something* *motivational quote about rising from the fires of failure as a phoenix of success.

Okay, But After That

Okay, after I follow a walkthrough to the “Pacifist” ending, how many of the 93 possible endings do I then chase? Death and Taxes has about a dozen endings and I stopped playing after achieving the Usurper simply because it connects with my world view. So, after defeating Undertale as a Pacifist, what’s the incentive to keep playing? Honestly, at this point, nothing.

I bought so many games through Steam, Humble, and Fanatical now that I need to start playing them. One thing that “Celebrating Indie Games in July 2023” taught me is that there are a ton of great games out there and that’s not even counting the fact that Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 release this year. Also, I want the PS5 because we want to play the Spider-Man games on it. Long story short (I know, too late) is that I don’t see myself playing this game much after achieving the ending.

But, You Know There’s a “Sequel” Right?

I learned about Deltarune (an anagram of Undertale, clever!) from a student while teaching at Conant. They asked if I ever played Undertale. Obviously, I responded in the negative. “But,” I said, “I bought the game for my youngest to play, so maybe I’ll check it out.” Well, I can finally say I checked it out.

So, after beating Undertale, I suppose there’s always Deltarune. Doing a bit of research, I found that only 2 of the planned 7 chapters released so far. That means that not much more of a time commitment required to play through those parts of the game. Maybe I will try to play through that one without a guide.

The Verdict

The most likely path forward is that I play through the first two chapters of Deltarune. I like Undertale but not enough to try for the multiple endings right now. But, maybe after playing the game more, I might. Stay tuned to see my actual answer to Undertale – what’s next?

Undertale – A Bit Further In


As promised in my earlier article, I played more Undertale. Though I used a walkthrough, I failed to finish the game as expected (hoped). Yes, some of us oldbies still click the first link when searching for a walkthrough. We are the ones keeping IGN alive after all these years. Therefore, I can only give my impressions of Undertale – a bit further in.

I finished the first part of the game where you leave the ruins in spite of Toriel’s request. Then, I played through part of the next dungeon where you meet two of the characters that I recognize from Liam and Quinn talking about the game. Sans and Papyrus. I enjoyed the introduction to them and look forward to following their stories through the rest of the game. Speaking of stories…

The Story

Surprisingly, Undertale’s story is much deeper than I expected. I don’t know why I expected any less. Generally speaking, both Quinn and Liam follow my lead when it comes to expecting good stories out of their games. Even so, while the premise is basic (person dies and ends up somewhere — limbo, hell, Cleveland?), the characters all make it seem fresher. They all have their own personalities and motivation. It makes it easy to get lost in the fiction of the game and makes the story more enjoyable overall.

The Puzzles

I (and Liam and Quinn) also like a game with puzzles. So far, the puzzles in this game lack depth and challenge. Push a switch to lower the gates. Sometimes we hide that switch behind a pillar in a rotated or mirrored room. Memorize the pattern on the floor in this room and use it to navigate the traps in the next room. That kind of stuff. Certainly nothing on the level of Resident Evil or Zelda


Battles take on a different style from any other game I played. First, since they built in a “Pacifist” ending, you can go through the whole game without actually battling anything. The menu gives you a choice to “Act” which can mean anything from petting a dog to ignoring a character’s hat. Eventually, the name turnes a different color and you can “Spare” them without raising a finger.

As you see from the video, though, even if you spare them, you still need to engage in some form of combat. That combat, seen in the video as moving the heart (your soul) to avoid the attack by the dog varies with each character. It always involves dodging or avoiding something.


Overall, playing Undertale a bit further in makes me want to play the game more. I wish I played it all the way through to have more of an opinion of everything, but life happens as they say. Even so, what might be an uninspired and repetitive mess avoids all of that with just the right amount of variation and humor. Stay tuned for an update when I actually finish the game, maybe as early as next month.

Undertale Very First Impressions


I first learned about Undertale from Quinn. He found the game somehow. I think he watched one of his streamers play it in YouTube (yes, I know that’s our YouTube link, no shame here). I never played it then because it looked just like a silly point and click type adventure game. So, instead, I probably just played through Portal 2 again. More recently, I heard Liam watching a YouTube video about the game. Something stuck this time and I decided to load up the game and give it a try. And, so, I come to you today with my Undertale very first impressions.

I only played through a short amount of the game. Steam tells me that I played 5.4 hours. For the record, that’s only enough for me to finish the tutorial and explore some of the first dungeon. I’m at the second save point. I plan to play the game all the way through and update on Wednesday. Then, on Friday, I want to talk about what comes next for me and Undertale.

Undertale Very First Impressions

I do what I want.

So far, my initial thoughts after playing very little of the actual game mirror my initial thoughts when I first learned about the game. It looks like a typical point and click game with some innovative game play. Combat, for example. looks unlike anything I’ve ever seen in another game.

It starts as you’d expect. The screen changes from the map to the combat screen. A combat menu offers choices like battle, spare, and talk. Accoding to the advice from your mentor, you avoid combat and talk with the enemy until they arrive to settle the difference.

I know enough about the game to know that it offers several different endings. One of those rewards you for being a pacifist through the game. I don’t know enough about the game to know what that all entails, but I assume avoiding battle as much as possible fits the standard for pacifist.

In spite of that, I engaged in some combat to be able to intelligently discuss the unique nature of that combat. You take control of your “soul” (a heart on the screen) and use the arrow keys to move it and avoid little stars that might harm you. Again, as this is very early impressions, that’s all I know about combat.

The Verdict

Over the next few days, I promise to play the game more (hopefully to completion of one of the endings) and give a better idea of how I feel about the game. One thing I can say is that I choose to play the game more, so it intrigues me on some level. Come back in a couple of days for the update.

I Love Enter the Gungeon From the Vault

Editor’s Note

To keep the page going while we are in Germany, I got the idea to rerun articles from the past year. I further got the idea for celebrating indie games in July (because Independence Day, get it?). From the Vault Series 3 brings us back to my first experience with Enter the Gungeon.


Ever since discovering Unix based operating systems and then eventually Linux, I set up all of my computers as dual boot machines now. Honestly, I can’t think of a reason that I still have Windows on this laptop. In the past, I kept a version of Windows for gaming. However, most of my games that I play now are on mobile. What does any of this have to do with Enter the Gungeon?

Patience, my friend. I intend to answer that question. Since I never boot Windows on this machine, I downloaded and loaded Steam in Linux. It helpfully includes a list of Linux compatible games. Unfortunately, for some reason, you can only play 1 Screen Platformer on Windows. But, even though I miss one of my favorite games, Steam still offers quite a few others.

Bullet Hell? That Sounds Interesting

Because I purchased this computer mainly for updating this web page and the minor audio/video editing necessary to that end, I only trust it to run less powerful games. Sure, when I open it, Steam tempts me with games like Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead. But, I know my limitations. So, intrigued by the visuals, I loaded up Enter the Gungeon.

Even having lived through the various eras of gaming, I still can’t reliably explain what bit a game might be or why. I know the general go-to is 8-bit, which means the games run on hardware comparable to the NES. Even the font that I use for the page advertises as an “8-bit font”. But, I don’t remember any of the letters looking that detailed back in the old NES days. Heck, I worked the last couple of years to pick up some computer programming experience and I still can’t make heads or tails of it. But, I digress.

Retro. Enter the Gungeon is a retro style “bullet hell” game. What, exactly, is bullet hell? Well, after some research, I can finally tell you what “rogue like” and “rogue light” games are. So far, nothing inspired me to research “bullet hell”, but let me try to explain. Bullet hell games revolve around a randomly generated dungeon crawl with multiple enemies per level that you shoot using a variety of moves and targeting techniques. Man, that sounds good. Maybe I missed my calling as a marketing executive for small game designers.

Seriously, Though, What Does That Mean?

When you start the game, you get a choice of four characters. Having only played a couple of times and I chose the same character each time, I can only assume that the characters have different abilities. I can confirm in a future article about the game. After choosing your character, you get to play through a tutorial set of levels that gives you helpful hint of how to play the game.

If you are like me, you promptly forgot most of those hints. Either that, or you don’t possess the skill necessary to utilize them efficiently and effectively. I’m sure that with time my skill level will improve and I might even last until one of the boss fights to use the hints they gave me. Aside from all of that, you move your character and shoot your gun. I believe the bullet hell comes from the fact that you can constantly shoot and move yourself in full 360 with little to no penalty.

Enemies of various style and difficulty greet you with every new level. Again, if you pride yourself in being a noob like me, then it takes more than a couple of plays to figure out the best way to approach every type of enemy and style of room.

The Verdict

Even given my limitations, I enjoyed the game. I want to lead it up and play more. Who knows, with more free time next week, maybe I even get good, as the kids say. We all know stranger things happened. See you tomorrow for the next installment of Noob’s Book Club. Or, will I? That’s what we call a teaser in the biz.

Hades is a Gift: From the Vault

Editors Note

In an effort to keep the page going while we are in Germany, I got the idea to rerun articles from the past. From the Vault Series 2 brings an article from last Christmas about the independent game, Hades.


Merry Christmas!

Welcome and Merry Christmas! Last year, my son bought me Hades for the Nintendo Switch on the recommendation of Chris. Therefore, truly Hades is a gift. I played the game some during the week of break. After that, I needed to concentrate on not losing my job, so I had little time for such frivolity. Then, I misplaced the game. Finally, I completely forgot about it until I realized break neared again.

I bought the game digitally in anticipation. Then, while putting my clothes away, I found the cartridge. So, if anyone wants a digital copy of Hades, I might be able to gift it to you. Send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

What is Hades?

I never reviewed the game last year. I thought I did, but maybe I just included it in one of my Game of the Year articles at the end of the year. Hades follows your character, the son of Hades, through the land of the gods as he hacks and slashes his way to more power.

It resembles Diablo in game play. That alone gave me reason to try. I enjoyed all of the Diablo clones I played. Torchlight II became my favorite game for several months about 5 or 6 years ago. It was the subject of the lost episode 2 of the original run of the podcast.

Why is Hades a Gift?

Hades sweetens the deal with unique gameplay that follows the lore of the pantheon. One of the ways that you advance in the game is by dying. You come back and increase your abilities before plunging again into the dungeon of the Underworld. I like that wrinkle to the game. It takes a frustrating part of other games (dying and having to start over) and removes that frustration. Further, it almost makes dying an incentive. You die to take a breather from the dungeon crawling.

The game also has a unique, cartoon graphics engine that works seamlessly with the cut scenes to build a living, breathing world. The characters add to that with their own personalities based also on the lore of the gods if available. Some characters are specific to the game, but they still made me laugh more than once with their antics.

The Verdict

I played Hades again some last week. I managed to pull the Switch away from Quinn and Liam (they’ve been playing the new Pokemon game) to get a couple of games in. I still enjoyed playing even though it took me some time to get used to the controls again. In between games of Mario Party, Mario Kart, and them playing Pokemon, I hope to play more during this break. I also bought new controllers for the XBox, so I’m sure Quinn, Aiden, and I will get some Minecraft in, too. Be prepared for reports on all of it.

1 Screen Platformer From the Vault Series

Editors Note

In an effort to keep the page active while in Germany, I came up with this series of reruns from the past. And, so I present to you from the vault series 1. In this one, I talk about how thankful I am for 1 Screen Platformer, an independent game that I played obsessively for about a month last year.


For the last few weeks, I dedicated Thursday to my Dungeons and Dragons club play through of Curse of Strahd. As you can read if you follow the link, one of the reasons I am not doing so is because my group is slowly falling apart. Last week, I stopped the game early and this week I threw out two of my group from the club before we got a chance to play. Also, Spooktober is over, so time to focus on other games I enjoy. Today, I write about how I’m thankful for 1 Screen Platformer.

I wish I remembered how I became aware of the game. Being that it is on Steam, I either purchased it during a Steam sale or it came as part of a Humble Bundle. A quick search of my Humble Bundle history shows no evidence of the game, so apparently, I bought it as part of a Steam sale.

Why I am Thankful for 1 Screen Platformer

In any case, I played the game obsessively for a month or so last year. Every now and then (like earlier this week), when I load up my Windows partition I give the game another shot. I never regret the decision. The game’s title tells you all you need to know. Instead of moving from one screen to another to advance in the level, the camera follows your character as it pans left/right/up/down to capture the game play. But the catch is that the game fits on one screen. I’ll let the trailer give a better explanation than I ever can.

The Verdict

See what I mean? Tight controls, challenging levels, varied characters and achievements for each of them come together to make (possibly surprising) for hours of entertainment. Even if you get bored after a few plays, I guarantee that you’ll be back for more. What do you have to lose? The game only costs 2.99 and there’s a “prologue” level for free to give you a better idea of the game play and if it’s something you’d enjoy.

Death and Taxes: Great, Good, Decent


I write often of my exploits with Humble Bundle. Many are the games that I discovered through their generous bundles. Also, many are the programming books that I used to expand my repetoire and learn more about coding, just in case. Honestly, though, so many are the games I never played and the books I forgot I ordered. That never stopped me from learning about and ordering from another bundle page. And, so I found Death and Taxes.

You may think that because we went to Germany that I won’t update the page regularly. Especially since nothing posted since my review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. I set up the page to auto post first this article and then three more over the next couple of weeks to keep the page active and in your brain space, if you’re a fan. Let’s kick of celebrating indie gaming in July with this article.

The Decent

Limited Gameplay: I give them credit for putting as much into the game as they did. However, even with the added elements, it ultimately boils down simply to sitting in your office, receiving a dossier of people to live and die, and then choosing who actually lives or dies. If that sounds boring, well, that’s the whole point. THe game takes the job of grim reaper and makes it mid-level management hell.

What? re: Controls: I watched through the introduction comic (more onthat in a minute). Even though I don’t usually, I even paid attention during the introduction during the tutorial levels. Even so, it took me some trial and error to figure out how to move the elevator from level to level. Believe it or not, that’s a crucial skill in the game.

The Good

Introduction Comic: As one of the last few people who enjoy comics. I saw an article again the other day saying something along the lines of comics dying. Now, Chris and I pronounced them dead more than once. But, like the titular Marvel Zombies of lore past, they keep coming back. Well, Death and Taxes gives you the skinny on how to play the game and the back story through an engaging interactive comic.

Humor: In spite of the serious nature of deciding if people live or die, the game provides a light hearted approach to delivering that fate. More than once, I found myself laughing out loud at the dialogue or description of a person’s life.

The Great

Voice Acting: I never expected thegame to contain any voice acting. That it did and the acting was some of the best I’ve heard in a game impressed me. All characters have their own unique voice that gives the game a life that it wouldn’t otherwise have. I commend the designers for this choice and am glad they pulled it off.

Moral Dilemma: I might be taking this game too seriously, but I find myself faced with a genuine moral dilemma every time I get the dossiers and start reading their stories. Sometimes the requirements tip their hands when it comes to who dies. Other times, it leaves it up to you to wrestle with your own beliefs and what you think the game wants you to do in order to make a decision. Again, masterfully done.

The Verdict

I came into the game expecting a certain game based on reviews that I read. However, Death and Taxes exceeded those expectations, whatever they were. Having only played through the tutorial, I want to finish it first and then discover if there are alternate endings. I assure you that they exist. Can’t wait to see them.

Lair of the Clockwork God Early Impressions


I mentioned in my Death and Taxes article (not scheduled to post until next week) about my experiencs with Humble Bundle. Then, I went on to talk about Fanatical, a new bundle service I tinkered with a couple of months ago. In one of those bundles, I received this game for Steam. I really like it, so I wanted to write one last article about Lair of the Clockwork God early impressions before the Germany trip.

I never heard of the game or the studio. That’s not unusual. While I want to be an indie gaming darling, the truth is that I simply don’t have the time to comb web pages searching for the latest and greatest indie gaming treasures. And, so, I generally play them far after they lose their relevance in the community. But, to paraphrase Jack Sparrow, “I have heard of them.”

Quick Note: I barely played through the first part of the tutorial level to get a feel for the game since I’m on a bit of a time crunch here. After playing the game more, I promise to update my thoughts.

The Decent

The Humor: While funny, some of the humor is a bit too on the nose for me. I like that they took both genres and turned them a bit on their head, but the continued tongue in cheek dialogue between the characters got to be a bit too much for me and I’m only a half hour into game play time. I trust that it might, but I definitely hope that as the plot becomes more complex, the humor will follow.

Couldn’t find any of the actual humorous dialogue, but this is the type of homage or dig you get from these guys throughout.

The Good

Challenge: The game offers just the right amount of challenge, in my opinion. I wrote in my Portal 2 article that I enjoy puzzles in my game. They use the innovative (more on that in a minute) game play to build new and challenging puzzles into the game. Granted, I only made it through part of the tutorial. However, the puzzles made me think but never caused me much frustration. I expect that to challenges to change as the game progresses, but I hope the frustration remains at a minimum.

The Great

Innovative Gameplay: For the amount of times that you hear this from a game, you’d think we’d have more than the half a dozen basic gaming genres that we have. Every once in a while, a game delivers on that promise. I already talked about the different puzzles that this game offers due to the style of the game. Granted, they arrived at this style by mashing together two styles that they enjoy. Even so, the result becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. I know I use the analogy often, but think Reese’s peanut butter cups. Two great games that play great together.

The Verdict

Having only played through part of the tutorial level, I can’t make a judgement. Wait, what? Someone with a reasonable and measured response? I know, I know. Supposed to have a hot take on things as soon as we consume them these days. But, my Lair of the Clockwork God early impressions are I enjoy the game very much. I want to play more. Hell, my wife even noticed me playing and asked what the game was. That’s high praise indeed.