Cardboard LAN

LANs are great, be they video or board game.

The former is what took place on February 20-21 of last year (2015) and we had a fantastic time – games played:

  • Pandemic
  • On the Brink (Pandemic Expansion)
  • In the Lab (Pandemic Expansion) – first time played with either of these expansions, but I was glad I had someone else looking at the rule book. There was a lot more to keep track of
  • King of Tokyo
  • Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation – this game is always so good. Even when you lose, it’s always so close and goes back and forth so many times. Having said that I still wish I would have won!
  • Coup – we played eight games of this and I did really well, mostly because unlike The Resistance you can use the truth more to your advantage I think
  • Hanabi – first time playing this and really enjoyed it; the goal for us was to try to be perfect rather than just win
  • Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
  • Avalon

LAN Assault!

Assault and Glory Await!

Assault and Glory Await!

On one of the last Friday nights in 2014, a group of men met beneath the stars – and a roof – to rekindle the flame of the LAN.

Undimmed by time or online gaming, the LAN stubbornly refuses to go away completely as having everyone in the same place is something special, something that reminds us of the realness of the experience.

It’s to this experience that we raised our controllers and, bathed in the glow of big screens and comforted by the smell of finely crafted pizza, proceeded to play some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

We played a few warm-up games but the real meat of the evening was Assault on Boneyard via Halo: Reach.

The teams were pretty even and we traded the bomb back and forth, strategies planned (or yelled out on the fly) and verbal barbs traded – but our team emerged victorious for the most part and it was a blast.

I’m really glad the event game together and a big thank you to those who made it happen, and who made it enjoyable!

October Gaming Weekend ’14

The weekends come and go – we look forward to them all week, and they’re gone too soon.

Yet truly great weekends find a way to last longer, a way to stay with us more than the two and a half days they officially take up.

I point to Exhibit A – a recent weekend (10/10-11/14) – as my latest example of Continue reading →

Out of the Blue – Nameplates of Awesome

One of the hardest things to communicate to someone who doesn’t game (board, video or otherwise) is the friendships that seem to spring out of nowhere.

You can just meet someone on-line or in person, and if you have similar interests in gaming it’s easy to feel like you’ve known each other for years – such is the case with RM Bluethunder.

CurrerBell and I met him through Sal of HaloFanForLife back in the days of Reach and he’s been a regular presence in our games ever since – especially Snipers!

But he’s done more than just bring his ridiculously positive K/D ratio to our teams – he’s also given us what can only be described as the greatest use of Mega Bloks this side of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn:

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(Photography provided by CurrerBell)

Blue went to the New York Comic-Con back in 2012 and attended a Mega Bloks party where he scored some sweet sets, not to mention a few extra pieces.

It’s these pieces that he put to the good use of recreating our gamertags in tiny right-angled form.

These fantastic builds arrived (along with a few extra figures) and Currer and I were blown away – the time he put in building these, and the fact that he would ship them to us on his own dime … awesome, just awesome.

This post is woefully overdue, but CurrerBell and I are glad to finally give a big fat public

THANK YOU

to

Blue!

>>>>>>>>>[4712880.4320.312]

>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]

An Unexpected Journey

An Unexpected Journey

While I’m just getting to posting this now, I saw the first Hobbit film with friends and thought it was great.

It was my first 3-D experience as well and while that didn’t make the movie for me, it didn’t detract at all so I think that’s a plus.

While there are always nitpicks I have with how characters are different from the book, overall they did a fantastic job and I’m excited for the next one.

The city of Troy by another name

Ilium

Received this game last Christmas, and while I love history and games this one didn’t grab me like I thought it would.

I played through it with a friend twice to make sure we weren’t missing something, but the only thing missing was the fun we were supposed to be having.

As we played through several of the components you were supposed to keep track up didn’t end up helping you or having any effect on the outcome of the game.

It’s rare that I meet a game I don’t like, but unfortunately this one has to go on that list.

HBOhio – the write-up

I’ll start with thank yous, as is only right.

Rev and Jackie, for putting this on and making it incredible.

Everyone at HBOhio, Grim and Louis Wu for making it possible.

CurrerBell, for being okay with me being me … even encouraging it!

Our tale begins on a dark and stormy night, with a long kept secret that could tear a family apart …

HBOhio logo

Getting there

Actually our tale doesn’t begin there at all. It begins on a Friday afternoon (5/19/13) as myself, my better half, and our youngest all make the trip down to Columbus for HBOhio.

Considering I already live in the Buckeye State, my three-hour trip was relatively short compared to those who came from the far off lands of North Carolina and Michigan.

I had originally planned on this being a one-man trip, with Currer staying home while I was gallivanting off in our state’s capital. That changed when she expressed an interest in going, and when it was pointed out that the LAN was dangerously close to our wedding anniversary 🙂

So with both sets of parents watching the rest of our crew, the three of us headed down for good times.

They’re all going to laugh at you

After checking in at the hotel (and being told that several break-ins had occurred by guys using crowbars to steal TVs out of the rooms, followed with a “enjoy your stay!”) we drove over to HBOhio’s HQ, Rev’s place.

Driving over I was nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve met a completely new group of people, and a few of the old high school insecurities came back. For example – how do I act cool without desperately trying to act cool? do they know how cool I think they are? is saying “cool” even cool anymore? Questions like that.

Per usual, I was being an idiot – whatever they thought of me the group couldn’t have been nicer and I truly appreciated it. To be among a collection of colleagues who dropped more video game references than I get to hear in a year, love Halo across the board and actually knew who Trogdor is? Nice.

Hang on to you butts

We arrived around 5:00pm, about the middle of the pack with some of the group already there and more to come.

HBOhio - Jurrasic 1

After frightening away the other movie goers with deadly-accurate Raptor impressions, the entire theater was ours

Once assembled, we did what anyone in our position would do – go see a twenty-year-old movie in 3D! What film you ask? Super Mario Bros.Mrs. Doubtfire? Close but not quite – Jurassic Park, and it’s held up much better than many of the films that came out that year.

Pale Riders

Now comes the MAW run of the weekend – an entire Saturday (4/20/13) of Halo filled with prizes, food and gameplay that reached (dare I say, started at?) a level of epicness that only happens face-to-face.

Revenant brought something to the LAN that all great commanders must – a plan. There’s nothing worse than getting psyched out of your mind for an event and then it devolves into something like this:

“This is awesome!”

“I know!”

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.”

But this party faux pas was avoided by the man with the clipboard. Rev had it all worked out, from the order of gaming to the prizes to be won by stupendous deeds of daring do (or marks of shame, but more on that later).

Rev's clipboard

The clipboard of destiny!

Much honor to you my friend, for keeping the awesome on track!

I wanted to note that watching the Halo 2 menu loop over and over during setup would made HBOhio a success in my book, no matter what else we did – it’s been a while since I’ve played the game and it brought back great memories.

HBOhio - During the game 5

Blue Man Group

I was fortunate to have (what I thought) the best seat in the house, right next to Bluerunner in the garage with an entire half-sheet of game space all to myself. It could be argued that team “Danger Zone” in the rooms upstairs had the sweeter spot as everyone had their own screen, but the ability to stretch and the lack of heated man-smell gives our garage-group the advantage I think.

HBOhio - During the game 2

Most pose after, others during

(While the garage wins on comfort, Danger Zone emerged victorious on the win/lose ratio. Next time Gadget … )

HBOhio - During the game 4

The back …

So with projectors humming and heads held high we played through a plethora of Halo 2 and Halo 3 maps and modes. Containment, Bomb, Territories, Avalanche, Capture the Flag, Sand Trap, Lava Lake – the list goes on.

HBOhio - During the game 3

… and the front

Without a montage there’s no way to convey the good times so I’m not even going to try, but it was fantastic to have that Halo: Combat Evolved LAN feeling where the guy that just took you out (or vice versa) was right next to you.

Stories with a side of BBQ

After the morning carnage it was time to fuel up at City Barbeque for lunch. There was a lot of local color on the walls, with the barbeque sauce labeled “Blazing Rectums” as the standout. (Kids, I wouldn’t Google that one if I were you.)

HBOhio - BBQ 1

Burning orifices aside, the food was fantastic. In addition to stuffing our faces Rev had us go around the table and give a brief history of how everyone got there, history with Halo, etc. It was great to hear everyone’s story and be reminded that while many of us enjoy the franchise for different reasons, at the end of the day that translates into getting together with friends and having a blast.

Schwag Bag

Something important was just left out of the preceding paragraph; yes, our love of Halo translates into having a blast with friends – but at HBOhio it also translates into getting awesome stuff!

Shortly after lunch Revenant handed out the goodie bags and talk about a freakin’ amazing bonus – not only do we get to hang out and play Halo all day, but we get schwag?!? I feel bad for the holidays left in the year – they just became the wannabe highlights of 2013.

HBOhio - Prizes 2

Schwag included:

  • 6 Halo decals – not for the face!
  • 3 Xbox 360 codes provided by BS Angel (a Halo 4 Campaign background, Watcher avatar prop and Halo 4 picture pack) – you can haz!
  • HBO button – pin sharpened to a diamond’s edge!
  • ONI Patch – they don’t officially exist!
  • Blamite –just like Mom used to make!
  • Mystery Megablok Halo figure – tiny and mysterious!
  • German candy – Danke!
  • Personalized Legendary Patch – read those words again, and weep you don’t have one!

Clearly a lot of thought and effort went into this treasure chest of goodness – a HUGE thank you to all who made it possible!

But these items weren’t the only thing we could take home – there were prizes to be won throughout the LAN. The pictures below don’t do the amount of stuff there was justice (or the feeling I had of wanting to grab everything and make a run for it), but I can tell you there was a great haul to be had with bits and pieces sent from all over.

HBOhio Prizes 1

Warning: staring at the magical table of schwag may cause temporary blindness

I was fortunate to “win” the first prize – a set of CQC Kontrol Freaks (the mark of shame I mentioned earlier). I came in last place in a Halo 2 game of Swords ‘n’ Shotguns.

But the joke’s on you my friends – I was already using a pair when I tanked the match! Your effort to improve my game is futile! (maniacal laughter)

Covies won’t know what hit’em

Right … where was I? Maniacal laughter. No, after that. Yes! We rounded out Saturday (4/20/13) with some more unusual Halo 3 game types (Rocket Race, Dragon Slayer, etc.) and what for me was the highlight of the trip gameplay wise – an ODST Firefight throw down!

Three teams of four competed for pride, glory, and a set of MegaBlok ODST drop pods. I go into a more detail in this post, but this mini-tournament sums up all the best parts of what a LAN can be – intense team-based action where having the players in the same room really makes a difference.

Our team (SIX min WHISTLE, Kermit7, BlueRunner and myself) came in second place and the Covenant will think twice before attacking Crater again. Hoo-rah!

Walking Away

And that’s the high note HBOhio ended on for me – after wolfing down some excellent pizza and taking one last grab from the M&Ms bowl (which they kept filling from a feedbag somewhere – seriously, how can you keep it full with over fifteen people grabbing from it all day? It was nothing short of a miracle) Currer and I headed out.

HBOhio - Leaving group shots 1

Defiant to the end

I feel like this write-up didn’t capture half of the awesome that went on (not to mention Sunday and Monday), but I hope it conveys what an incredible time I had and how grateful I am to Rev and Jackie for hosting.

Until the next one!

>>>>>>>>>[4721640.720.504]

>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]

The guts of a Lizard King and other stories

Originally posted at GameSpot on October 22, 2010

I don’t remember where she got the idea, but after breezing through the latest Professor Layton and Puzzle Quest my wife mentioned she might like Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.

Come to think of it, maybe she got the idea from me – I had heard good things, great reviews, and I’m sure I would have mentioned it at least once. What ever the case, I bought it for her (and me, in the future) on March 26, 2010.

Since that time, she’s played the game it a bit – but it hasn’t grabbed her like the others I mentioned above. This is the next step – as I see it – for her in the world of RPGs, so we’ll see what happens. And hey, I’m planning on playing it as well!

This ended up being a bigger day for games then I would have thought – that night was at a friend’s house and several things of comment happened:

  • Finally saw Burnout Paradise in action. I’ve wanted this one for a while; Burnout 3 may have been my favorite racing/destruction/I-can’t-believe-the-sense-of-speed-I’m-feeling games of all time
  • Final Fantasy XIII – graphics were nice, but I’ve just never gotten into the series. That’s my excuse for not really being impressed. Still, I’m sure if I had played through the series – even a few of them – I would be more qualified to actually say how the game looked I think
  • My wife and I remembered the good times of Capture the Flag on Halo: Combat Evolved – she the sniper, I the rocket
  • My friend’s wife watched him play through Lost Odyssey – I thought this one looked good, and that’s solid proof in my book

Post tenebras lux

For the moment, it belongs to others – a look at WoW

Originally posted at GameSpot on October 9, 2010

In the earlier post I mentioned how I enjoy how games connect people.

Another example of getting connected – having a friend show me World of Warcraft on June 4, 2010.

We were over at his place with a group of friends, and with the kids everywhere things were getting a little hectic. He had a back den where some of the guys were hanging out, a little quieter where we could talk.

When I say “show me,” it’s not like I haven’t seen clips of the game or know what it is – but this was the first time I had seen someone play it in real-time right in front of me.

What did I think? I think I’m glad I don’t have the game – or I would lose too much time to it! Just the scope of the world is amazing to me; I know I would get lost in there.

Someday I may be able to play – but for now I’m happy others are.

Post tenebras lux