Saturday, March 31, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Iron Man: Extremis

Iron Man: Extremis is a "motion comic" based on Warren Ellis's Iron Man comic #1-6. A motion comic is like a hybrid between a cartoon and a comic book. The original pictures from the comic book are used and they are, for the most part, static except for small digital movements that are added. The camera is frequently in motion to enhance the feeling of movement. Voice acting and a soundtrack are also added so the viewer doesn't have to read sound effects or speech bubbles.
The art of Adi Granov is very capable, almost photo-realistic. The end result is a cartoon that in some aspects looks much richer than your average Saturday morning cartoon. But in some regards, motion comics are still in their infancy. Movements sometimes feel very two-dimensional, like an arm swinging where only the forearm pivots on one point. Talking is the worst, however, because the mouths never seem to move correctly.

The plot to this motion comic follows the comic book series almost identically. Essentially, it is a new origin story for Iron Man, reinventing him for the new millennium. The story isn't your typical superhero smash up. It focused a great amount of time on the philosophical underpinnings of Iron Man. Tony is confronted with the fact that his weapons have killed innocent children and asked to rectify that with his Iron Man heroics. Tony sets off on a personal quest to prove that he's more than just an arms dealer. He tries to do so by creating a faster and more advanced Iron Man. This makes me says, "huh?" Ultimately, I think the story fails to deliver on the high-minded tenets it establishes itself on. In the end, Stark is still a man in a suit of technological armor fighting bad guys.

These motion comics are definitely not for kids! The action sequences are graphic and full of blood. I did take issue with the revisionist history, claiming that Iron Man had to have killed at least 50 guys during his initial Iron Man outing. It used to be, "Avengers don't kill," but now every hero has to as bloodthirst as Wolverine, I suppose.

Overall, the motion comic is enjoyable. For what it is, it is well done.

1LR Review - 14 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

Friday, March 30, 2012

"Mr. Men and Little Miss" Books Return

I LOVED Mr. Men and Little Miss books when I was a kid. I mean LOVE. And when I say kid, I mean "up to about 13 years old." Yes, these books were written for your average six year old. To me, it was a challenge to try to collect them all like comic books! I was fascinated by the character's distinct personalities interacted with one another. I loved how the characters all existed in their own universe and appeared in one another's books. I dissected the storylines for inconsistencies. So, yes, it's fair to say I loved them. I STILL love them. I even have the Mr. Men and Little Miss Dictionary! I'm not ashamed!
So I was greatly delighted to see that Vizkids is utting out two 80 page books - Little Miss Sunshine: Here Comes the Sun and Mr. Bump: Lights, Camera, Bump!.
Thank you, Viz Media! Can a major motion picture be far behind?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gaming Notes: Three Dragon Ante

Three Dragon Ante is a Dungeons and Dragons related card game that you can play either as characters or as real people. Recently, my wife and I played as real people.
The game is well designed (surprisingly) and features a very balanced gameplay. I particularly like that there is an advantage to playing high and an advantage to playing low. It really makes you consider your resource allocation as you play.

Well, my wife was soundly trouncing me. She was keeping her hand size large and using colored flights to really pound me with gold piece deductions. In fact, I almost gave up until I had an absolutely massive round in which I won a pot of 24 gp and tagged her for a 10 gp penalty as well! In a game with only 100 gp that's a hefty sum!

From there, I managed to put together some colored and strength flights myself (it's surprisingly difficult to do but it really makes a huge difference!). I slowly wore her down until she had only one gp left... a gp that I took with a large red dragon and won the game. Victory is sweet but a come from behind victory is sweeter!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 is the 2010 sequel to the amazing 2008 original. The storyline presented in this film leads directly into the 2012 Avengers movie.
Tony Stark is pictured center wearing a smart suit, against a black background, behind him are is the Iron Man red and gold armor, and the Iron Man silver armor. His friends, Rhodes, Pepper, are beside him and below against a fireball appears Ivan Vanko armed with his energy whip weapons.
This film picks up directly where the last one left off - with Tony Stark announcing, "I AM Iron Man!" Anton Vanko and his son, Ivan, watch the event on TV. This sends Ivan into a revenge-fueled rage as he creates a arc reactor like Iron Man's to run his electric whips. The scene in which he does this closely parallel's Stark's creation of the Iron Man armor from the first movie.

This film introduces the idea of blood toxicity. All of a sudden, Iron Man's artificial heart is killing him. It's a neat metaphor for Tony's own self-destructive behavior but it seems to come out of the blue since it wasn't mentioned at all in the first film. Also, as a viewer I wasn't really that worried about it. What are they going to do... have Iron Man die from blood poisoning? Ultimately, this leads to Iron Man creating a "new element" to replace the Pallatium that was poisoning him (don't even get me started on the messed up science in that sequence!).

While the first film presented Stark as a deeply flawed individual he still remained quite likable.  This film almost crosses the line and presents Stark in a very dark line. It squanders much of the good will the first film created. Seeing a drunk Stark stumbling around in the Iron Man armor and mocking the person he cares most for in the world, Pepper Potts, is tough to take.

I liked how the film turned the spotlight back toward Tony's father, Howard. Seeing Tony explore his father issues was a nice paralled for Vanko's own father issues.

Of course, every fan loves seeing the clever little tie-ins between the movies. Seeing Thor's hammer at the end is a big one. But it's also cool that Nick Fury and Agent Coulson actually travel from one film to the the next (Thor, Iron Man 2, and the Incredible Hulk have sequences that overlap chronologically). This type of tight continuity really helps tie together the "Marvel Cinematic Universe."

I was REALLY bummed that the sequence from the trailer with Potts kissing the Iron man helmet and then tossing it from the plane was cut from the film... was a great sequence ("You complete me!")! It was nice to see them finally get together at the end anyway.

The inclusion of War Machine and Black Widow both seem a little forced and both characters suffer from being a little too two-dimensional.

Whiplash (although I don't believe they actually call his character that the entire movie) is an okay villain. Mickey Rourke is BRILLIANT in this roll. Man, can that dude act! Justin Hammer is a great sleezeball businessman but he comes off as a little bit of a putz which diminishes his presence on screen. Plus, Hammer sees WAY too much screen time and he gets to be a bit annoying.

All in all, this film takes a big step down from the first installment... but how couldn't it? It still stands on its own as a very entertaining film.

1LR Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gaming Notes: AD&D 1e (OSRIC) #5

Having entered the Caves of Chaos and met with some initial success, we returned to town to deliver the prisoners we had freed. We rested, healed, restocked, and returned to the caves.

We wanted to retrace our steps to make sure monsters hadn't reentered the portions we had previously cleared out. Along the way, we noticed that although the bodies of our fallen foes weren't removed, they were covered. Obviously, the enemy is aware of our presence.
Taking a new route, we discovered a goblin dining area. There were dozens of women, children, and men in this area. The party was split on tactics so we decided to go in without a plan. The ranger just ran into the room, trying to block the exit of our foes. He was quickly charged by multiple combatants, thus forcing the rest of the party to enter the room to bail him out. After a sleep spell, most of the goblins had fled the room. We pursued down the hall where we found a locked door. Forcing it open, we discovered the goblins that had fled and dealt with them to the last.

The next encounter would be nothing but routine, however. Deciding to go up some stairs, we encountered two guards standing in front of some doors. We engaged them and were in the middle of fighting them with six more guards came out from behind the door along with a big, bad orc general in full plate. The battle dragged on and on. The druid was the first to go down (not dead, just unconscious). Next, the cleric bit the big one. The barbarian was down to one hit point when he retreated. Then the thief/mage was knocked down to -5 hp. My brave hireling, Pillman, stepped into combat valiantly when called upon. This left the ranger and I as the only two active combatants. We couldn't hit the orc general to save our lives! Luckily, he couldn't hit me either (thank you -1 AC!).
Eventually, we wore him down and he was cut down. Whew. Still, the party has suffered its first death and was decimated in the combat. We beat feet and got back to town as soon as possible.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gaming Notes: AD&D 1e (OSRIC) #4

The party is on it's way to the Keep of Guard. The keep overlooks the much feared Caves of Chaos where enemies of law and goodness are aligning to open a portal into a realm of chaos using the Staff of La.
On the road to the keep, we encountered some humongous black widow spiders! We harmed them enough that they retreated back into the safety of the trees. We did manage to free a corpse from their webs. It was a dead elf. In with its decaying body was a magical shield. The thief/magic user elf Valin granted my paladin the use of the shield until it could be returned to the elf's family. We gave the elf a proper funeral and moved on.
We arrived at the Keep and presented our pass shield that Harold the hedge mage had given us. We were directly ushered to the man in charge who was quite helpful. We were given 1000 gp voucher with which to purchase supplies and given the services of a cleric that would go along on our adventure with us. The party graciously allowed me to purchase Full Plate with the money. The rest we spent on healing potions.

We then descended into the caves of chaos. We met some pretty tough resistance - mostly goblins and orcs, but in large numbers. Eventually we came upon an area that prisoners were being tortured in. We killed their jailers and freed them. It seems that they had been captured from caravans traveling in the area. I healed the man that looked most grievously wounded. In thanks, his wife gave me a gem encrusted dagger.

We returned to the keep with the people we rescued.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Where's My Legend of Zelda RPG?

The Legend of Zelda is simply one of the greatest video games ever created. Since its debut in 1986 is has inspired many video game sequels, books, comic books, cartoons and merchandise (it even had a cereal!). There is a vast and dedicated fan base for all things Zelda. So where's my Zelda RPG?

This game could write itself! Hyrule (The Zelda world) is very unique and has been explored in detail through the various Zelda video games. Races, locations, magical object, world mechanics, even historical timelines are well established and ready to go for an RPG.

The demand for a Zelda RPG is so great there are multiple fan sites that have created independent versions of a Zelda RPG such as

So if the world has been given a Zelda cereal why are we still waiting for the RPG?


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a cartoon that started its run in 2009 on the Nicktoons Network and is still running today in its second season.
Iron Man: Armored Adventures Complete Season 1 Movie Poster
This series reimagines the Tony Stark/Iron Man character. Gone is the origin based in an Asian or Middle Eastern war injuries which happen when Tony's an adult. Instead, Tony gets his chest injury from a plane crash that kills his father when he's still a teen. Even Iron Man's look is different - the suit is lean and sleek, not the beefed up armor we're used to.

Simply put, this series is fantastic. Almost everything about the show just works. The characters are well-defined and interesting. Pepper Potts is a fast talking junior sleuth. Rhodey is Tony's remote backup and covers for Tony's frequent absences. Character designs are great. The series creators obviously took inspiration from the comics but aren't afraid to completely redesign a character when necessary. The series uses some villains that are perennial jokes in the comics series but because they're reimaged they work both visually and dramatically.

While each show tells its own story the overall plotline progresses from episode to episode. Pepper finds out Tony's secret. Gene Khan (a teen Mandarin, one of the series main bad guys) discovers that Tony is after the power rings he also seeks and starts attending Tony's school to get close to him. This gives the series a sense of continuity and purpose. So when Tony runs into the Unicorn and Killer Shrike in an early episode he's still wondering where they got their power armor several episodes later which sets up an ongoing storyline of "Mr. Fix" (The Fixer to longtime Marvel fans).

The action sequences are interesting. The series does a nice job of setting up the action with story so that watching the action actually means something. So, when Iron Man meets the Blizzard who is trying to take down the series main villain, Obadiah Stane, he initially works with the Blizzard before discovering that the Blizzard isn't actually such a good guy either.

The animation is all CGI and it's done very well. It reminds a lot of MTV's Spider-Man: The New Animated Series but with much improved visuals. The only problem I have with how the series looks is the mouths of characters. The lips don't quite synch up to dialogue and you can see way too many teeth. The "suiting up" and launch sequences are reminiscent of the transformation sequences of Thundercats or He-Man which is great. They also borrowed the "digital space" view of Tony inside the armor from the comics which allows us to see Tony's facial reactions as well as things like warning messages that Tony is seeing inside his armor.

Even the theme song is fantastic. It's truly "earworm" worthy.

1LR Review - 19 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gaming Notes: AD&D 1e (OSRIC) #3

Our heroes set off to investigate the news that Harold the Hedge Mage's house had been ransacked and he's gone missing. When we arrived, we found the place in shambled but not deserted. There were four orcs and a hobgoblin still sniffing around.

We quickly charged in and defeated the orcs, causing the hobgoblin, Garfang, to surrender. We interrogated him and got what information we could. My paladin felt honor bound to let the unarmed foe flee with his life.
Using the information we got, we found the mines were the orc general, Barlog, was holding Harold. We entered the mines, encountering four firebeetles and killing them quickly. We also defeated eight orc guards with little difficulty.

Along the way, we encountered a Thief/Magic User named Valin. We agreed to let him join our adventuring party and we continued on. Valin's presence quickly placed our group in a moral quandary, however, when we ran into a room full of orcs. Valin cast sleep, effectively ending the combat. My paladin was conflicted - should we kill sleeping foes? Earlier we had left an unarmed opponent escape unmolested. We all agreed that the orcs should be restrained, knocked unconscious once they awake, and disarmed. We then left.

We defeated the orc general, Barlog, and rescued Harold. He was most grateful but implored us to make haste. It seems that there is great trouble brewing at the Caves of Chaos. A new breed of goblins called Shadow Goblins have been seen in that area. Their leader is intent on opening a portal to a realm of chaos found in the caves by using an artifact called the Staff of La.
Harold teleported us onto the road heading to the caves and gave us a small shield to present to the garrison stationed at an outpost near the caves. He bid us to stop the insidious threat to peace and order.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Geek Gear: Soylent Green Crackers

Soylent Green Crackers are... cool! As you may know, I'm a huge fan of movie props and concepts bleeding into real life. So how could I resist Soylent Green crackers? I'll just avoid reading the ingredients list. "High Energy Plankton" - sure, sure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Iron Man (2007)

Iron Man is a live-action movie, released into theaters in 2007, starring the brilliantly cast Robert Downing, Jr.
If you haven't seen Iron Man yet, what are you waiting for? DO IT NOW. This movie, simply put, is nearly flawless. It is the pinnacle of not only superhero movies but all comic book movies.

What this movie does is it causes you to like Tony Stark (both before and after he "reforms") just as much as Iron Man, the suit. That's quite a feat since there is very little to like about the selfish, womanizing Stark. Stark comes across as intelligent, witty, funny, handsome, and carefree. As the saying goes, men want to be like him and women want him. I think part of the attraction to Stark's character is wish fulfilment- we all want to be billioinaires who can do whatever we want. We don't even seen any version of the Iron Man armor for about half the film. And who cares when you're having so much fun watching Stark?

This movie brings the superhero down to a gritty reality. This movie updates Iron Man's origin from Asia to Afghanistan, bringing with it the violent reality of today's war. When Iron Man is created it isn't "flash, bang, boom! We have our armor now off to the action!" It's a long, detailed process. Seeing Stark hammer out that first suit in the caves is inspirational like the Rocky theme song. Watching Stark perfect the Mark II and Mark III versions of the armor is just plain fun and amusing at times (his banter with his robotic aides is hilarious).

The armors themeselves are extremely well designed from a visual and practial standpoint. It brings the fantasy of the Iron Man armor and makes it believeable. The visual is certainly inspired by the comics but not beholden to any one specific version. I like the "inside the helmet" view which allows the audience to see Tony's expressions and gives information in the digital readouts (which is borrowed from the comics).

All in all, I can't say enough good things about this film. EVERYTHING works in it from the special effects, Iron Man gadgets, emotional character moments, character development, plot twists, and supporting cast.

This is 1LR's first perfect review!

1LR Review - 20 out of 20! It's a Critical Hit!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gaming Notes: AD&D 1e (OSRIC) #2

I apologize - it's been a LONG time since I've posted an update from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (First Edition - we're playing under the OSRIC rules).

When last we left our adventuring party, they were deep underground having climbed down a well to discover the cause of mysterious disappearances in town.

We continued on and encountered a weird little creature called an osquip. How odd. And dead. We continued on.
O is for Osquip
At the end of the passageway we discovered the partially eaten remains of a few townsfolk. Before we could thoroughly investigate, two red glowing eyes greeted us in the darkness. What can only be described as an "Evil Weasel" can charging out at us. We defeated it and took it's carcass as well as the remains of the deceased back up to the town with us.

We were rewarded by the town and the sheriff and greeted as heroes by all. 

Using this upswing in reputation with the town, I took to looking for a hireling to act as a torch bearer and pack mule. I ended up finding a kid by the name of Pillman. He seemed stout (he's a first level fighter) and of good nature. I paid him 24 silver a month plus expenses. 
Our celebrations were cut short because the news had reached us that Harold the Hedge Mage had gone missing and his place was ransacked. We set off at once to investigate since the evidence didn't fit the other disappearances and we hadn't found Harold's remains.

What will our intrepid adventurers find? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Angry Peeps

My family recently entered a newspaper contest to design a diorama using the marshmallow Peeps. Our concept? Angry Peeps based on the Angry Birds video game. Check it out! You can view the other entries and vote for our Angry Peeps diorama here.

Marvel Media Mania: Invincible Iron Man

The Invincible Iron Man is a 2007 animated direct-to-DVD film released prior to the Iron Man live action theatrical release.
It's hard to say where this film goes wrong. It has all of the right elements in it. The animation is somewhat capable. Stylistically, the film has aspirations. But... it's... just... so... boring...

I seriously have a hard time staying awake in this film. Somehow, the creative team sought to make an exciting Iron Man film that revolved around... boardroom politics. Some of the scenes seem to be intentionally made boring such as watching businessmen wait silently in a room with a ticking clock. The film seems to take forever to get off the ground and even after it does it doesn't seem to have a firm direction.

The plot is a little thin. For some reason, Tony is interested in raising an ancient Chinese city. Somehow, that will bring back the Mandarin. Some elementals show up and there's a dragon and a group of rebels. And the board members. Don't forget about the board members. It's all a little confusing and plot developments seem all too convenient. For example, after Tony hammers out the "first" Iron Man armor in captivity, he returns home where an entire army of Iron Man armors awaits him. Seems kinda convenient that he has an armor for all of the different environments he needs to go into, doesn't it? Oh, and why didn't he use that armor to rescue Jim Rhodes in the beginning of the film?

One of the main characters, Li Mei, changes directions without a whim or a cause. At one point, she doesn't want to harm others. At another, she's framing Tony for crimes. In another, she's in love with Tony (even though she barely knows him). At another point, she is trying to stop the Mandarin. Then she's helping him. It's all too confusing. Ultimately, you end up not really caring about any of the characters or the thin plot.

The film vacillates between showing respect to the comics and turning its back on them. In the hall of armors, plenty of armors are shown that were first presented in the comics such as the Ultimate Iron Man armor. But somehow, the Mandarin only has five rings in the film when he should have ten. And one of those rings turns out to be a bracelet, not a ring? Huh? Tony's password to his secret lab is his mother's name, Maria. But in the film he designed all of the Iron Man armors without a heroic motive.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about the film is that Tony doesn't go through a personal journey. His damaged heart isn't an issue. He doesn't learn a lesson like, don't be selfish. The film tries to call upon the theme of fatherly expectations but it only faintly noticeable. Why is Tony a hero? What's his motivation?

In conclusion, it's like this film has all the right elements, they just seem forced and don't work together. Kinda like diving into a swimming pool full of Oxygen and Hydrogen - you're going to fall flat on your face if they aren't joined together as water.

1LR Review - 6 out of 20 - It's a failure!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Darth Burger

We had Dark Side M&Ms... but what about the main meal? Well, the fast-food chain Quick is selling a Darth Vader burger on a black bun as well as a Jedi burger.

As you can see, there's also a Darth Maul burger! 

So let's go drive to our nearest Quick and get one!

Wait... Quick is in EUROPE? Why in the world are these burgers only available in EUROPE? Hardee's or Burger King could have made a mint off of these things! 

Ah, who cares. I think they really blew it anyway. The Jedi burger should have a green bun if they're going to use Yoda. And how about those little sword picks that are used for holding burgers together? They should have made a bunch of those as lightsabers. And Darth Vader doesn't even APPEAR in Episode I! There should be a JarJar burger that you hate, an Anakin burger that is so small it's gone really fast (get it?), or a Queen Padme Amidala burger that can be disguised and simply called by its first name, Padme (which, of course, makes the disguise a good one if you don't change your name).

Oh well. Let the Europeans have them. After all, the "Food Police" here in America would never let it be any good anyway. They'd want to take all the fat, sodium, carbs, and calories out of it, label it as dangerous, and then tax it. Imperial Food Police... Heh...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Iron Man (1994)

Iron Man is a 1994 animated television show that was part of The Marvel Action Hour along with the 1990's Fantastic Four cartoon. Both shows were a part of Marvel's "Animated Universe" which also included Hulk, X-Men, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, and Avengers shows.

The appearance of Iron Man for this show is taken directly from the comics of the day. The show also features Force Works - a short lived comic book team that featured a slightly altered lineup of Spider-Woman, The Scarlet Witch, Warmachine, The Century, and Hawkeye. Beyond that, this show has little relation to the comic book series. In fact, I think in one episode they call Warmachine "James Avery" when his actual name is "James Rhodes."

Frankly, there's little redeeming quality about this show. The animation is below even 1994 standards. The show tries to shoehorn in some CGI sequences when Tony Stark transformer into Iron Man but watching hand-drawn animation morph into CGI and back again is paintful. The series is riddled with coloring problems and reused clips that have the wrong backgrounds.

Sound effects and music are likewise abysmal. At times you will wonder why they were reduced to ripping off old Nintendo games for their sound effects and repetitive background music. The opening credits are horrible and the theme song is likewise completely forgettable.

But the writing may be the worst. The internal logic of the episodes defies explanation. Things just happen without cause or apparent logical effects. The techno-babble is truly amazing as character string together any three or four words with more than five syllables to explain any event or "scientific fact." Characters are two-dimensional and are reshaped to meet the needs of each episode. We see Tony Stark in physical therapy and walking with a cane but in other scenes he's running and jumping freely. Mandarin berates the Blizzard for freezing his begonias. Seriously. The "big bad villain" is upset his flowers died. Modok, the super-genius, thinks being pushing a baby stroller is a good disguise for him. In another scene, Modok is able to produce a baby-Modok with his hand that he calls his "ELF" - External Life Form. In one episode, Iron Man develops a "solar weakness," and he recharges by listening to classical music. Bill Clinton, Luciano Pavarotti, and Van Cliburn are all given cameos.

The series opener features the following villains (all in one episode!): Whiplash, Mandarin, Aquatic Zombies, Modook, Blizzard, Fin Fang Foom, Hypnotia, Dread Knight, Whirlwind, Grey Gargoyle, and Justin Hammer. The series never really goes beyond these villains. They appear again and again, episode after episode.

The series does get better as it goes on but not by much. It is noteworthy that the production value of this show was improved in the second season with better animation, writing, music, and sound effects.

One very odd note - One episode shows a plane flying into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center hit by missiles from the same plane. I'd call that strangely prophetic...

Final analysis: The second season lifts this show slightly but not nearly enough to overcome the horrific first season.

1LR Rating - 6 out of 20 - It's a Failure!

You Can Demo the New Marvel RPG!

Are you interested in the new Marvel Heroic RPG by Margaret Weis? Well, this upcoming Saturday, March 24, you can! Just contact Comic Store West in York, PA to reserve a time. I'll tell you now, it's filling up fast!

Sessions are from 11-3 and 4-8. Each session has six slots - when I checked earlier today, the morning session only had one open slot and the afternoon had four.
I'm running the game... We'll be playing the start-up adventure based on the New Avengers "Breakout" storyline. It should be a lot of fun! Hope to see you there!

Gaming Notes: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

I got to play the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game for the first time recently. I feel special since it hasn't been released yet!
I was the "Watcher" and we played the first act of the introductory story in the basic book. I had players play Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Man, and Captain America. None of my players had ever read the Breakout storyline from New Avengers #1-6 upon which the story is based.

The adventure gives the option of starting the players in different locations but I thought that would really slow things down so I had Daredevil (as Matt Murdock) show up to speak to his client, the Sentry, with Luke Cage as a body guard. Captain America was there on a tip that something was going to go down and Iron Man was installing a new cell for a super criminal he had just captured.

When the heroes were assembled... boom! An explosion rocks the facility and the power goes down! The heroes are stuck in the lower levels in the dark with dozens of escaping criminals! Count Nefaria is the first to encounter the heroes and they put him down quickly! Murdock decides to go see his client, the Sentry! Seeing Nefaria go down, the Living Laser, Armadillo, and Tiger Shark all jump on the heroes. In a prolonged battle the heroes stood victorious!

The heroes follow the sound of the gathering mob! When they round a corner they see dozens of escaped supervillains all trying to make their exits! Captain America tells the mob to stand down and return to their cells. The answer is laughter... followed by "Get them!" The mob quickly swarms the heroes. Cage is picking up people and slamming them down, Cap is flinging his  shield all over, and Iron Man is releasing his Uni-Beam! Finally, the mob is subdued!

It's then that the heroes here BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM - eight booms seemingly starting on this level but heading away. When they get to the source of the sound, they see a hole opened in the ceiling of the Sentry's cell which goes all the way to the outside. It seems that Murdock was successful in persuading him to rejoin society... The heroes have Iron Man give them a lift up through the hole. When they get to the surface they see scores of SHIELD agents swarming the prison from boat and helicopter.

Iron Man gets the backup generators online. Cage interrogates the Grey Gargoyle to find out that Electro was behind the attack to free Sauron and that they're on their way to the Savage Land. The heroes, of course, pursue...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Did JarJar Kill Pinball?

Pinball is, for all intents and purposes, a dead industry. Why? The movie Tilt has the answers.
Williams was the world's leading pinball manufacturer with a 80% market share. They bet the house on a last ditch effort to make pinball profitable - Pinball 2000. I remember those machines. The first was Attack From Mars. It was a financial success although I myself didn't enjoy playing it very much.

Then Williams bet the house on a Pinball 2000 for Star Wars Episode I. There were several problems with the launch including a late release after the film left theaters. But in the movie Tilt, developers pointed to one factor that annoyed players - too much JarJar.
Ultimately, Williams had to shut down their pinball division, thus essentially killing pinball. So the message I'm walking away with is that JarJar is so bad that he singlehandedly destroyed a classic arcade staple. Thanks, JarJar.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Catan Pizza

Settlers of Catan continues to take over the minds of everyone on the entire planet. Take this example. I give you the SETTLERS OF CATAN EDIBLE BOARD AND PLAYING PIECES!
What - they couldn't bake edible cards? I loved the fact that they started eating it while they were playing!

Thanks to John for sending this one in!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Planet Hulk

Planet Hulk is the 2010 direct-to-DVD animated feature inspired by the comic book storyline of the same name.
Let's cut to the chase: This is the best Hulk EVER. You heard right. This is the Hulk done properly! This film had to walk a very fine line between staying faithful to the Planet Hulk storyline and becoming too confusing for new fans. It did so brilliantly and in the process set a new high bar for the Hulk.

The Hulk presented in this film may be a bit different than what you're used to - this Hulk has a brutish intelligence, can speak, plan strategy, and uses a sword. This Hulk is also brutally savage, reflecting the alien world he finds himself on. The Hulk's journey is one of going from being a loner to finding a place where he belongs, even if it's with a band of misfits.

You can really tell that the creators cared for the characters, the original story, and the comics in general. The storyline very closely follows the Planet Hulk comics with only a few minor tweaks to streamline and simplify the story. One such tweak was replacing the Silver Surfer with Beta Ray Bill, a much more obscure character. But it turns out to be a great choice because it ties the Thor flashback into the storyline nicely. There are also tons of cameo appearances that longtime fans are sure to notice by characters like Adam Warlock, Pip, Gamora, and Starlord.

The action sequences are fantastic. The animation is incredibly well done. You can tell that each fight was carefully choreographed. With so many characters, it would be easy for the fights to drag on or to lose characters but each one is unique and moves the story forward. Major characters die and you feel shocked and sorry for their loss.

The last thing you'd expect from Planet Hulk is emotional impact but this film has two, both concerning Caiera. The first is when she cuts down her Spike-infected parents to protect her younger sister only to discover her younger sister was also infected and would have to be killed as well. That was really shocking for me to see! The second was when Caiera tries to redeem her earlier failure by saving another young child. She succeeds only to have a Nuke dropped on the city which she is able to survive but the child in her arms is turned to ash and blows away. Wow! That sequence left my jaw on the ground!

The writing is simply top notch. There are a lot of major character in this film and each is given his own unique motivations, personality, and storyarc. Caiera tries to rectify the good thinks the king has done to the bad she sees him do. The Hulk struggles with being accepted. Korg is tortured after having to kill his brothers. Miek transformers from a "runner" to a fighter. Laven struggles with religious faith. Elloe has to learn to trust her new friends. These characters are woven together in a beautiful narrative.

I can't think of one negative thing to say about this film. It's a must see and comes with my highest recommendation even if you're not a Hulk fan.

1LR Review - 20 out of 20! It's a Critical Hit!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gaming Notes: Monopoly Deal

I've played Monopoly dozens of times. But Elliott recently introduced me to the game Monopoly Deal. First, I liked the double use of "DEAL" in the name. You DEAL cards but you're also trying to make a DEAL. Neat. It's a card game directly based on the board game -  you're still trying to match property sets and get the greatest total value. It's turn based but fast moving.
It was Elliott, my wife, and I playing. Let's just say that Elliott wiped the floor with us. Elliott completely sunk me pretty quickly and then picked my wife apart until he stole the properties he needed to win.

It's a good game that I'd like to play again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Hulk VS Wolverine

Wolverin VS Hulk is one disc from the 2009 direct-to-dvd animated movie "Hulk VS" pack, the other being Hulk VS Thor.
Hulk VS Wolverine is a treat for both Wolverine fans and Hulk fans alike. Heck, it's even a treat for Deadpool fans. In this film you see a truly unleashed Wolverine and Hulk in no-holds barred combat with one another and with others as well. The Hulk brutally smashes Wolverine into the ground, pounding him even after he's down. Wolverine sinks his claws into the Hulk's back and chest to very bloody effect (red blood!). This isn't a "saturday morning" cartoon! I'd say it's more graphic than any cartoon or movie representation of Wolverine or the Hulk to date! At one point Deadpool's arm is sliced into chunks by Wolverine's claws and he (hysterically) tries to reassemble it correctly while squirting out blood.

Beyond simply being brutal and bloody, the action sequences are incredibly well produced. The animation is great. The camera movements and framing are done brilliantly to make the viewer feel involved in the action. The action is fast paced and visually interesting to watch. This movie earns tons of style points as well. I particularly liked the combat Wolverine has with the hired goons in the dark. Very well done!

Any fan of the original comics will love this movie. Some of the sequences are ripped straight from the comics in action and design. At one point a wolf drinks from the stream next to Wolverine, recreating a classic comic book cover. At another time we see the Hulk reflected in Wolvie's claws, paying homage to another famous comic book cover. The "Weapon X" segment of Wolverine's past is straight from the comics. They even sneak a cameo in by a baby X-23.

While all of the characters including Omega Red, Sabertooth, and Lady Deathstrike are represented perfectly it is perhaps Deadpool that is the most well done. Truly, he steals the show. Quite a few of his lines are inappropriate in a very funny way. He tells Wolverine that Omega Red is a bed wetter and ashamed of it. He greets Wolverine by saying, "Logan! Buddy! I shot you!"

Even though this DVD is called, "Hulk VS" this is really Wolverine's story. He's the main character and the story is told from his point of view. Still, there's plenty of Hulk action to satisfy any fans. As for who wins... it's never really resolved in a meaningful way. The movie ends with the two still locked in mortal combat (and loving it!).

1LR Rating - 20 out of 20! It's a Critical Hit!

First Impression: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying by Margaret Weis

I got my hands on a copy of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game by Margaret Weis Productions. It's impressive looking. Of course the art is beautiful because it is taken directly from the comics.
The Basic Game comes with a Marvel Civil War "starter adventure" based on Avengers #1-6 from Bendis's run with the Breakout storyline. I, myself, always thought that storyline was a bit of a mess but... whatever. Reading over the adventure based on this comic book storyline I would say it is definitely for experienced "Watchers" (that's what the Game Master is called in this game). There are lots of options layed out without much firm direction. Basically, "Here's a bunch of toys.... go, play, and have fun!"

I've got to say that I've played dozens of roleplaying games but this game comes across as being very jargon-y... maybe it's because I've never played in the Cortex Plus system before. Players and the Watcher have to have LOTS of dice on hand and it seems like rolling isn't a quick process. We'll see.

I'm slated to run the game tomorrow so we'll see how it goes. I'm pretty pumped but a bit nervous as well.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Rainbow of Fruit Flavored Lightsabers

Alright, I was one of those Star Wars fans. I hated Mace Windu's violet lightsaber. I've since made peace with the *shudder* purple lightsaber, but I couldn't help but notice two lightsabers from the Clone Wars CGI television show.

The first was a WHITE or SILVER lightsaber. Tera Sinube is the Jedi that carries this lightsaber. He actually has the handle of it concealed inside his walking cane. Very awesome lightsaber.

The second was a BLACK lightsaber. Pre Vizsla wields the black lightsaber. Apparently, this lightsaber is a Jedi/Sith artifact that was stolen from the Jedi Temple. Pre Vizsla isn't a Jedi or Sith - he's the head of the Mandalorian "Death Watch" terrorist group. This lightsaber is actually not round - it has an edge like a blade. Very cool looking lightsaber.

So, see - once you accept purple and yellow lightsabers, the sky is the limit. In fact, I check it out on ( and there are literally DOZENS of lightsaber colors from bronze to pink (yes, pink) to rainbow to brown. I'm fairly certain that you could collect enough different colored lightsabers to match every crayon in a 64 count Crayola crayon box.

Is this sacrilegious? Ridiculous? Silly? Unnecessary? Perhaps. But I have to tell myself it is not worth getting upset over it. A cool character is going to be cool no matter what color lightsaber you put in his hand. Except pink.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Hulk VS Thor

Hulk Vs Thor is one of two animated films released directly to DVD at the same time in 2009. The other was Hulk Vs Wolverine.
This film doesn't waste any time getting straight to the action. The plot is presented simply: Loki and the Enchantress (Amora) have brought the Hulk to Asgard. They strip Bruce Banner from him and take over his mind so he can kill Thor. Of course, their plans go awry when they fail to calculate how powerful the Hulk is and he escapes their control.

The action is swift and brutal. You really get the sense of how powerful the Hulk is when he's smashing Thor through walls and continues to beat Thor into a crater in the ground until he's bloody. As in the comics, Thor gets the stuffing beat out of him but keeps coming back for more.

I could tell that this film was really meant to be a Thor primer leading into the 2011 film. It does a great job of introducing core Thor concepts without beating the viewer over the head with it. We see Ulik the troll, the Executioner, Frost Giants, Malik the dark Elf, Surtur's fire demons, Hela, Valkaries, Sif, Balder, Odin, the Warriors 3, and Balder among many, many other concepts presented such as Ragnarok.

The nobility of Asgard and Thor shine through in this film. The character designs are simple and directly inspired by the source material in the comics. The Hulk presented in a long haired, savage version of the character. Through the dialogue in the film it implies previous adventures and encounters these characters have had with one another but doesn't get bogged down in continuity.

The art is capable. The art is bright and clear - no dark shadows. The action is dynamic but always easy to follow. Taking everything into account, this is one of the best Marvel animated features ever.

1LR Review - 16 out of 20 - It's a Critical Hit!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gaming Notes: Primordial Soup

Primordial Soup is a great game that I got to play recently with the gentlemen from Keystone Gaming Society.

We played a four player game so the competition for resources was fierce.

My strategy was first to become mobile then to turn aggressive. I first purchased the ability for my amoebas to move, then upgraded so I didn't have to pay for movement and then allowed myself to move twice. This pretty much ensured I would avoid starvation.

Meanwhile, my competitors were thriving through various other means. I was particularly impressed with Bryan's use of tendril to help himself and do damage to his opponents. I decided to up my game and get Struggle for Survival.

After a few quick kills, I realized that I was my own worst enemy in the game - by killing off the competition, I was creating lots and lots of food stuffs, thus making it harder for me to meet the "starvation" requirement before attacking an opponent. I decided to upgrade to Movement II but it didn't help as much as I needed.

Ultimately, a few low radiation counts caused me to have to ditch some of my gene cards and this cost me the game. Dave came through in the end, primarily because his defensive cards caused the aggressive players to seek easier prey.

Marvel Super Hero Squad MMO

When I was volunteering at a local library, I saw some boys playing a Marvel Super Hero Squad MMO. I was intrigued so I asked them about it. It turns out, it's free! I quickly signed up for my own account... um, I mean I signed my four year old up for HIS own account... I must say I'm impressed with this game!

First, the gameplay is just fun. Different characters are given different abilities and attacks. For example, Ms. Marvel can fly, Cyclops can attack from a range, and Daredevil can double jump. The character's catch phrases wear a little thin but they're unique to their own personalities and character histories such as the Thing mentioning growing up on Yancy Street.

Another reason this game is great is the character selection. Some of the characters are pretty obscure, such as the Falcon or the Valkyrie. Some, like Spider-Girl, are actually not even from the main Marvel comics continuity. Some characters are given different versions such as the Hulk, Red Hulk, and Gladiator Hulk. They even pull some things out of the Marvel continuity vault like Spider-Man's clone, the Scarlet Spider. 

The game also has surprising depth. The game features lots of side missions and mini-games. You could see how different players would be attracted to the game for one feature or another.

Although there's a pay feature it isn't necessary to access any game feature which is nice.

So I'm impressed with this game - it's my new addiction! Way to go Marvel!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Star Wars Clone Wars - Review

If you're a fan of Star Wars, you probably had flashbacks to the *shudder* Christmas Special when you watched the CGI Star Wars "Episode 2.5": The Clone Wars. That thing is nearly unwatchable and added NOTHING at all to continuity. Wait, we're saving Jabba the Hutt's SON? And he's sick? And Anakin has a padawan now in some crazy padawan mix-up? UGH.

Still, being a completionist I had to have the recently released Star Wars: Clone Wars - The Complete Season One, Two, and Three DVDs. After all, the 2003 Cartoon Network animated Star Wars show of the the same name was VERY cool. It showed quite a few pivotal moments (Anakin becoming a Jedi Master, Anakin using a red lightsaber for the first time, Yoda kicking tail during a full scale invasion of Corrusant) and it had great style (The dialogueless episodes are awesome). So I was willing to give the newest Clone Wars show a try.

From the opening credits which feature an up-tempo, pulsing variant on the Star Wars theme I was (and am!) blown away. It's absolutely SPECTACULAR. First, each episode opens with a Jedi fortune cookie quote and a 1950's newsreel style plot summary. The show is rendered in beautiful CGI with fully constructed worlds. Every episode has a completely different focus and tone. One episode is full-scale war. Another is a mystery. Yet another is a horror story. You see characters interact in ways we haven't seen before and light is shed into unexplored corners of the Star Wars universe (such as biological warfare). There are stand-alone episodes and other episodes that are part of a larger story arc. Lesser known characters such as jedi Plo Koon and Ki-Adi-Mundi are more fully developed and you realize that these characters can do more than silently sit on their rumps on the Jedi Counsel. They're cool! This series truly gives you the feeling that the Clone Wars is a WAR that, like a real war, is costly and harsh. You don't get that full feeling from the movies because they simply don't have the time to dedicate to it like a television show does.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (by the way, why aren't they called the "Droid Wars?" and isn't using "Wars" twice in one title redundant?) is a must-have for any Star Wars fan. I would say that collectively they're better than the movies SW: Episode 1, 2, and 2.5 put together. Over time, you'll almost come to like Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka Tano. And that's really saying something.

1LR Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Critical Hit!

Gaming Notes: Dominion #3

Once again, I was playing Dominion, this time in a three player game with Elliott and my wife.
The Village is one of those utility cards that just works so well in a lot of action card heavy strategies. I created a combo with the Village and Militia. This was a great combo because I was drawing some additional cards with the Village and causing my opponents to discard with the Militia. Along the way, I was raking in the extra coins!

Needless to say, I ended up winning.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 live-action theatrical release starring Ed Norton and Liv Tyler.
This is a very uneven film. The introduction during the opening credits brilliantly retells the origin story of the Hulk, relying very heavily on the familiar visuals from the television show (even the red "DANGER" button). The film is full of little nods to the old TV show, including "David B." written on an envelope Banner picks up (David was his name in the TV show but not the movie) and Banner's eyes turning green to signal an upcoming Hulk out. Both Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno make cameo appearances. Lou is a security guard and some old footage of Bixby from the show The Courtship of Eddie's Father gets shown as well.
Quite a few of the best features of the film were gleaned directly from actual storylines in the comics. The fact that Banner is training in Yoga and meditating to control the Hulk is one such example. I liked the "Days without incident" counter and the beeping heart rate watch was a nice tension building device. The visuals for cave sequence was almost directly taken from Hulk: Grey. And who could forgot Stan Lee's own one-word cameo death scene?

The entire opening sequence in Brazil is brilliant as far as I'm concerned. "You wouldn't like me when I'm... hungry," is a clever, funny twist on the familiar.

They really built up the big reveal of the Hulk, shrouding him in mist and darkness during the whole first battle sequence. I'd say he looks okay but not great. I didn't get why the Hulk sometimes used wreckage to fight with... it seemed oddly out of character. He certainly didn't say much - most of his lines are three words or less, building up to the classic, "Hulk smash!"

I liked the updated origin on The Abomination. Emil Blonsky's slow metamorphosis at the hands of General Ross is more believable than a sudden transformation because of a gamma bomb. The fully transformed Abomination wasn't really a great design but I did like the elbow spikes. I hope that there's eventually some future payoff on the tease with Sterns and The Leader (Avengers movie maybe?).

Ultimately, the second half of the movie disappointed me as it simply got reduced to a Godzilla monster-on-monster fight. For what it was, I didn't think it was bad but it just seemed to be a blunt end on a razor sharp sword.

All in all, this was a strong entry into the Hulk catalogue that showed it really respected the source material.

1LR Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ticket to Ride Rules Summary

I love Ticket to Ride. I own every edition and every expansion. It's one of the best gaming series ever created and never seems to get old. But in speaking with Brett the other day at Comic Store West I expressed my frustration at the rules variations of each version of TTR. In one version you draw three destination tickets, in the other four. In one version you can only draw a single locomotive, in another you can draw the locomotive and another card. All in all there are about a dozen or so of these core rules that vary slightly from version to version. The rules differences are so slight that I have a hard time keeping track of which rules go with which version of the game. Even though I've played literally hundreds of games of TTR I find myself looking in the rules every time I start a new game so I can make sure I have have the rules completely right. No more, thanks to this handy rules cheat sheet.

It's not for newbies but for old pros like me that just want a quick reference on the rules of a particular version it is perfect. I'm printing off, like, eight of these bad boys and sticking one into every edition of TTR I own! SWEET! I hope they update it for the new map packs soon!

Dominion Card Sleeves

So you know I've been playing a LOT of Dominion lately. I just got the game for Christmas and I've played it over 50 times! One of the game functions is to purchase cards that you're adding to your deck. This causes you to shuffle your deck many times in a single game, resulting in quick card wear.

My solution was to purchase some card sleeves. I got 500 Max Protection clear board game sleeves (size 93mm x 62mm) from Comic Store West.
These puppies fit like a glove! I've dealt with a lot of card sleeves that split down the seam or have irregular cuts (sometimes cut larger or smaller than the specs) but every one of these was high quality. I was also worried that they'd be too thick or too slippery but they weren't either of those things! I was really impressed, especially for the price! I got all 500 for less than $10! To me, that's a no-brainer investment to protect my precious Dominion! 

Thanks for the hook-up, Comic Store West!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Hulk

The Hulk is the first theatrical release for the character from 2003. It was (infamously) directed by Ang Lee and starred Eric Bana as Bruce Banner.
How do you mess up a movie about a eight foot green giant who goes around destroying everything? By turning into a psychological dream sequence. That's what Ang Lee did to the Hulk.

First, the "reimaginging" of the origin somehow turned Bruce into a mutant! And, wait... nanomeds are inside the Hulk? Huh? The characters' backstories were far too complex and way too much time passed before you actually see the Hulk. When he does show up, it's mostly in extreme close-ups and shadow. 

Frankly, this film is BORING. In trying to be subtle, mysterious, and nuanced, it instead falls into a muddled mess. The movie never escapes the trap of dreams, symbolism, and flashbacks. At one point, the Hulk just sits and looks at mold on a rock. I don't get it. The music acts as a lullaby and I actually have a hard time staying awake during this film.

Ang Lee tried to do some interesting visual things with split screens but it seems wasted when all you're showing on the different screens are different angles of the same thing. Transitions were designed to increase the dream motif but they become a distraction instead.

The film's main villains, Glenn Talbot, General Ross, and Bruce Banner's father all fall short of stellar. Each has the piece of a great villain but they don't work together. Ross has the brains and the heart to take down the Hulk but lacks the muscle to do it since the Hulk shreds the army in an instant. Talbot has the singular focus but he walks around most of the film in a leg cast, neck brace, and with his arm in a sling. Some threat to the Hulk! Finally, David Banner and his gamma dogs (really) are laughable. David only becomes the Absorbing Man late into the film and he never really poses a threat to the Hulk. The only question is how the Hulk will defeat someone who can turn himself into water.

It's a bad sign when you sit there wondering, "When will this film be over?" right? I'll give Ang Lee an "A" for being bold enough to try something different but it just simply fails to deliver on every level.

1LR Review - 7 out of 20 - It's a Failure!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I Saw the Saw Movies

Horror movies. The phrase brings to mind bad make-up and effects, ridiculous plots, and shock-factor that falls short. Sure, they may have made you jump once in awhile, but it used to be that "horror" was just a code word for "comedy with blood." Not anymore. Movies such as The Ring and Saw have redefined the genre.

I recently finished watching all seven (yes, seven) of these movies. There are a few misses in there (like #2 and, unfortunately, the final chapter), but overall the filmmakers have done an excellent job. The Saw franchise does two things well: Tell a story from movie to movie with extremely tight continuity and give you the creeps.

The surprising thing about the Saw movies is how well written the storyline is. What starts as a very simple concept really is revealed to be a multi-layered storyline with many twists and turns. Just when you think you have everything figured out, they do something like, oh, kill off the major antagonist, Jigsaw, AND his apprentice in the third film. How do you carry on a franchise once you've killed the villain? I won't spoil it for you but it's the gift that keeps on giving. One movie takes place simultaneously with an earlier movie but you aren't aware of it until the end when there's this amazing, "Wait? What's happening?" moment. Every character has a motivation and backstory that is explored with flashbacks in each film. Simply fantastic.

The second thing the Saw movie does well is make you feel empathy for the people in the traps. It's not just some high school kids being murdered. It is good (or bad) people having to do things WAY out of their comfort zone. This causes you as the viewer to empathize and feel what the characters are feeling. How would you feel if you had to cut off your own foot with a hacksaw? Or how about rip a key and a fishhook out of somebody's stomach that's tied to the end of a string hanging out of their mouth? As I watched the series I found myself cringing with uneasiness and I would look away from the screen multiple times during each movie.

These movies might not be for everyone, but I would tell fans of the horror genre to check them out and to stick with the series through the lackluster chapters. But peeling this onion really may make you cry.

Gaming Notes: Dominion #2

Dominion or DOMINATION? Both, in this case. My poor wife who I was playing against 1-on-1. For you folks who know a thing or two about Dominion, the card setup included the Witch and Throne Room. I saw the potentially lethal combo and went after it with a few villages thrown in for good measure. What resulted was total annihilation.

At the end, my wife had FOUR points to my thirty-five. Why? Because she had 26 curse cards for a total of NEGATIVE twenty six points! There were quite a few hands where she drew only curses and victory point cards so she just tossed her whole hand away and said, "pass." She did manage to get rid of some of the curses by the end of the game by using the Chapel... at one point, she had ALL of the curses in her deck at the same time!

Here's my wife's negative points:

Why does she play games with me?