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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Family Game Night

When you hear the above words, it may send shivers down your spine.  Memories of long nights of Monopoly or even older emotional scars from Chutes and Ladders make you cringe at the thought of sitting around the table to play a game with your family.  It's time to cast your fears aside and give it a shot once again.  Here are some suggestions from Laughing Ogre on what to try:

Apples to Apples -
The self-described "party in a box" more than delivers on its promised level of entertainment.  Apples to Apples offers a hearty amount of laughter to any gathering and is easy to jump into.  This game is ideal for large gatherings and flows well even if the participants are somewhat transient.   Someone new wants to join the game?  No problem!  Give them a seat and deal them in.  The points don't matter and the game never ends until you stop it.  If you try to get in and someone tells you "no," or "after this game," they don't like you.  Find someone else to play Apples to Apples with in a game that embodies "the more, the merrier."
In terms of actual gameplay, this is about as simple as you can get.  Whoever's turn it is draws one card from the green pile.  This is the word the rest of the players must try to match one in their hand with.  Each of those players sets their card (face-down) on your playing surface and when all players are ready, the cards are turned over.  The player who played the green card then selects the winner for that round and the green card is awarded to them.  While winning a card does not actually matter, some say the green cards you acquire describe your personality.  This game can work at early reading levels (with some card editing), but really kicks in when your group is willing to create some awkward (and hilarious) moments.
Pirate Fluxx -
Fluxx is a fun, quick, addictive card game that never plays the same way twice. The rules change as the game progresses, offering uniquely high replay value. Now grab your cutlass, pirates have taken over Fluxx. There'll be times ye must Talk Like a Pirate, and rules about how ye can Plunder from yer mates - even cards that let you play out of turn to take your enemies by Surprise. Playing the Captain's Hat gives ye certain privileges but watch out for Mutiny amongst the crew.

Describing the rules in this game is kind of like trying to tell your friend about a funny movie.  You are going to get some of the flashy stuff, but there will still be plenty of surprises when they see it themselves.  This is one of those "trial by fire" experiences where it's better to just through yourself into it rather than try to figure it out ahead of time.  Just give it a shot.  Trust me, you will get as hooked as we have as Pirate Fluxx offers a unique mix of strategy, laughter, and chaos that is hard to find in any other game. 
Reading is a must! Recommended for ages 8 and older.
Blokus -
Blokus develops logic and spatial perception while kids learn to be tactical. Players take turns placing pieces on their board, each starting from their corner. Each new piece must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. The goal is to get rid of all your pieces. The game ends when all players are blocked from laying down any more of their pieces. Includes one game board with 400 squares, 84 game pieces in four bright translucent colors, and an instruction guide.
If you are a fan of puzzle games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, or any of their derivatives, Blokus is a game you can not afford to ignore. Likewise if you enjoy strategy games such as Othello, Go, Chess, and so on. Blokus combines key elements of puzzle and strategy, blending them in a board game that is sure to stoke the fires of competition with you and your family. Up to four players can play this game at a time, so while this is a little more limited than the aforementioned options, the technical aspects more than make up for this constraint. No reading is necessary and the complexity varies, so this game can be played at any age. 

Rack Pick: Finder

  Since 1996, Maryland native Carla Speed McNeil has been self-publishing her award-winning Finder comic- first as individual issues, then as trade paperbacks, and later as trades following online serialization.  Now, after 15 years, Dark Horse has picked up this richly detailed sci-fi series and will be reprinting the old collections as well as releasing all future material, starting with the ninth volume Voice.

  Rachel Grosvener is a young woman in the domed city of Anvard, struggling to find her own identity as she applies for membership into an exclusive clan to provide a better life for her family.   When she loses a requisite heirloom things start to get complicated, and a good deal of history and other characters from the previous books come into play.  It's not too hard to follow, though, and it's worth diving in regardless; much of the fun of Finder is in discovering this bizarre and yet strangely familiar new place for yourself.  McNeil also includes a wealth of information in the form of several pages of end notes.  DMZ writer Brian Wood says the series reads "like history from a world you want to live in" and Transmetropolitan's Warren Ellis calls it "completely fascinating".  It's a mix of incredible world-building and flawless characterization that's hard to find anywhere else.

Voice is on stands now; later this month comes a big "library edition" reprinting the first four collections.  There's never been a better time to discover this utterly engrossing saga, so give it a look!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Picks of the Week

Because you -- yes,you! -- demanded it: Marvel's all-star cosmic team - and cult faves Rocket Raccoon & Groot - in one massive mini! The Silver Surfer! Beta-Ray Bill! Gladiator! Quasar! Ronan! When the Dire Wraiths strike, Cosmic Masters DnA (THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, THOR/IRON MAN) and Tan Eng Huat (SILVER SURFER, THOR: FIRST THUNDER) assemble the heaviest hitters in all the universe to save the day! And there's more! Plus: the demented duo of Rocket Raccoon and Groot return for their own, new-reader-friendly adventure! What do you do after you've saved the galaxy? DnA and the fabulous Timothy Green II (STAR-LORD) answer that with madcap SF combat and swashbuckling, space-faring mayhem!

 5 RONIN #1 (OF 5)
5 Books, 5 Heroes-1 unforgettable story of heroes pushed to their limits. It is 17th century Japan, a time and place of violent upheaval, wandering Ronin, and mysterious Geisha. Into this strange and dangerous world come Wolverine, Pyslocke, Punisher, Hulk and Deadpool. Five of Marvel's greatest you've never seen them before. Each has been wronged by a powerful tyrant. Each has taken a solemn vow...of vengeance!
5 Books, 5 Heroes, 5 Weeks...1 spell-binding story.


IMAGE COMICS To a noble family twins are born; Mathilde and Giselle, the Sisters Grey. For generations the Sisters have protected and counseled the Kaiser, ruler of Mitteleuropa. But this is a different time. At the birth of the industrial age a great war is raging. When the Kaiser is assassinated Giselle is accused. Pursued by her sisters and hunted by the enemy Giselle must unravel the prophecy of the Carbon Grey before history itself is rewritten.

The Intrepids are a collection of runaway and homeless teenagers that have been taken in and cared for by an aging inventor, Dante. Applying his brilliance, he crafts marvelous technological contraptions. With his vision and help, the teenagers agree to don his technology for the betterment of mankind. Together, they combat tyranny and stop madmen from bringing harm to the world.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teach explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

- William Arthur Ward
22 year old teaching candidate Eikichi Onizuka has built quite a resume for himself; he can bench 150 kilos, spent four years with the karate club at Eurasia College, is a former member of a biker gang, has a porn collection, and is eager to teach your daughters. Wait.... what?! While this brash and short-tempered pervert may have become a teacher for the wrong reasons (to score with hot students), his unique perspective and outrageous teaching methods may be just what students need. Apart from everything mentioned above, one major difference between Onizuka and many other teachers in the story is the level of investment with which he approaches teaching. His passion for life extends to his passion for teaching, becoming elevated in the process. Onizuka's troubled past enable him to relate to students in a way which inspires them to be better. What he offers them goes beyond formulas and quotations. He sees real-life problems troubling his students and leaps in head-first. A suprising mix of comedy, drama, and grit, GTO is a must read series for all readers 16 or older.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lloyd's Pick of The Month


Jason Aaron, the hot new writer of the critically acclaimed series THE OTHER SIDE, teams with gritty artist R.M. Guéra for an intense crime drama that mixes organized crime with current Native American culture. This special low-priced volume collects the first five issues of the riveting Vertigo series SCALPED.
Fifteen years ago, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he's come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucs, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on "The Rez" - short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?

Noir feel to a crime drama mixed with tragic characters.  Never know what is going to happen next.  This story just kept me turning the page.  I loved the SOPRANOS and this is it in Indian country.  Brutal and excellent!