Monday, January 01, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review - The Pictures

In part one of my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi I will use the following pictures to describe my thoughts:

In part two I will put down some words.  Until then; happy new year (apparently my new trend will be to post Star Wars reviews as the first post of the year).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

How I would change The Last Jedi (Spoiler Alert)

Warning; rambling and poorly organized thoughts below.  Lots of spoilers (duh!).

Top changes I would make to The Last Jedi (and that I honestly think could have been made keeping most of the key plot points and footage).  End result would have been a passable movie.

Lightsaber toss is changed into Luke handing it back to Rey and walking away.  Luke is really just testing Rey's patience as Yoda originally did to Luke.

Leia dies in space sparking Luke to cut the Yoda-crazy-act and train Rey.  Bonus points if Luke is lead to believe Kylo Ren pulled the trigger (even though he didn't).

Rose never happens.
Canto Bight never happens.
Dreadnought and bombers in space never happens.
Hacker guy never happens.
Slowest space chase in history never happens.
Super-super Snoke star destroyer never happens.  How about the First Order shows a bit of set back from having lost a planet-sized base!
Yoda never happens.
Frog people never happens.
Universe spanning mind link never happens.
Luke flashbacks to trying-to-kill Kylo never happens.

Resistance escapes directly to the salt planet and activate the defenses.

Rey/Luke sensing the impending doom of The First Order having the remnants of the Resistance trapped on the salt planet fly off to save the day.  However, due to being cut short on time to train together they have a disagreement on how to proceed.

As they arrive at the planet Rey jettisons herself from the Millennium Falcon.

Snoke sensing Rey's arrival tells Kylo Ren to bring her to him.

Luke and Chewie are forced to escape to the planet and meet up with the resistance.

Snoke pits Kylo and Rey against each other.  First, he trigger's Kylo's teeny-angst by planting false lies about Rey's parentage and how Rey is his better.  Second, he trigger's Rey's emotion by telling her that her parent's were nobodies and that she is just a pawn to the force filling a vacuum.

Rey and Kylo have an epic fight before realizing that Snoke is playing them.  They turn on Snoke to kill him but have to go through the red dudes to get it done.  Snoke is greatly amused by the fight assuming he can kill the weaker of the two and keep the other.

After Rey and Kylo finish the red dudes Snoke utters a bad ass one liner like "good, use your anger".  Then Kylo realizing he is forever limited by Snoke (the same as he was limited by the weakness that was his father, Han) turns and kills Snoke.  Before Snoke goes down he utters "if you strike me down I will become stronger than you ever could know" setting him up to return in the next movie.  Kylo slices Snoke's head off.

Rey can't convince Kylo of her viewpoint and vice versa Kylo can't convince Rey of his.  Kylo traps Rey and finds out Luke is on the planet.  In a rage he takes an invasion force to get Luke.

Rey escapes and heads to the planet.

Luke fearing that Rey has been turned to the dark side fights to the death on the planet surface. Kylo and Luke have the most amazing lightsaber duel all the while Kylo is taunting him about Rey.  Kylo takes a wicked face hit forcing him to forever keep his mask on in future movies.

The Resistance hope-o-meter goes bankrupt as Luke falls on the battlefield and they escape into the tunnels.

Surprise, Rey is OK and saves the day.  The Resistance's hope-o-meter is full again.
Ending scene is Kylo donning his mask and going "Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!!" as the Millennium Falcon zips into hyperspace.
End credits.

Where are Finn and Poe during this movie?  Keeping the bromance going and working to keep the remnants of the Resistance from imploding under the doom and gloom.

Phasma?  I actually sort-of-like Phasma being a running meme in each new Star Wars movie.  A slow roll of her trying to squash out the "bug" that is Finn would be epic.



Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Rolling Dice in Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Looking for my insight on The Last Jedi?  Sorry, haven't seen it yet.  In the interim my Star Wars time has been spent playing the tabletop role-playing game (RPG), Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG), with my 8-year old son.  I made the purchase to bring in a change of pace for a father/son Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) group we participate in.  I have not yet brought it  to the table with that group, but after a few hours of game master (GM) practice with my son running multiple characters I am excited to give this a go.

The first thing to note is that this tabletop RPG is not a D20 (20 sided dice) based system like D&D.  The dice are custom dice specific to this system and function in a different manner than a D20 based system (or a D6 system for that matter).

The unique dice

In the D20 system the narrative culminates with a single dice roll deciding the fate of an action.  Then, more dice are chucked to derive a number for things like damage or how much gold was found. 

For example; "Reed decides to attack the goblin."  The player playing as Reed rolls a D20 to determine if they hit/miss.  "Reed hits." The player now rolls more dice to determine damage.  Any number of interesting things may have happened leading up to this point but ultimately it all came down to that attack roll hitting.

In the FFG custom-dice system the roll (of multiple dice) is ahead of the narrative and decides the choices that the players and GM get to make.  Each roll results in multiple outputs; first the number of success symbols compared to the number of failures.  If there are more success then the action is a success; more failures then it fails. 

Success/failure is not the end of the roll as there are also symbols for threat and advantage.  As with success/failure both threat and advantage cancel each other out.  If there are more advantage than threat then something good can happen for the player or GM rolling; alternately more threat means something bad may happens.  This allows for the possibility that someone could be successful at a task but have something bad still happen because of it.  Or alternately they could fail at a task but have a positive side effect. 

This opens a huge opportunity for narrative choice for both the players and GM.  For example; "Reed decides to aim and attack the stormtrooper."  The player playing Reed rolls a dice pool and fails (more failures than success) with three advantage (three more advantage than threat).  The roll has now opened a door; the attack misses but Reed has a choice (or the GM has the choice) to decide how that advantage impacts the narrative.  It could be a "game" element such as recovering a point of strain.  Or it could be a "story" element such as "Reed is surprised when the blaster bolt ricochets off the wall and still hits his target." because it was important to the narrative for Reed to hit in this situation.  (+3 advantage is like rolling a natural 20 on a D20... and anyways Han didn't shoot first... he rolled a failure with advantage!).  Like the D20 example any number of interesting things could have happened before this roll and those interesting things could influence choices for either success/failures or threat/advantage.

The D20 aligns more with a "game" while the FFG system aligns more with a "story" and for a gamer that leans more towards the role playing side of tabletop RPGs I find the FFG system a better option.  It does put the onus on the GM being good at thinking on their feet and not defaulting to the same result for rolls (i.e. every failure with advantage can't be a ricocheting blaster shot).  The system also moves the narrative forward in new and interesting ways instead of the static this/that way of the D20 system.

In the next post I will cover my thoughts on how the unique dice mechanic translate to the rest of the game and compare combat, movement, and abstract vs exact representation of the game world.


Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 Black Friday Gaming Deals 2017

It is Black Friday once again and that means we all go about spending money we've saved up all year on the games we love to add to our queue and never get around to playing.

A few gems from the Steam sale (which technically has been going on all week):

Stardew Valley $10.04
Firewatch $7.99
Just Cause 3 $7.49
Tabletop Simulator $9.99

Board Game Deals
Note: friendly reminder to keep tabs on BGG's Hot Deals forum.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers $57.90  -- This is an exceptional price for a game that is not regularly discounted.  There is easily $90 worth of components in this game alone!  With the savings here I'd get the box organizer for this game from Broken Token.

Planes $19.99 -- Another exceptional steal and appears to be going fast.

What do you meme? $20.99 -- If you have a Internet-geeky circle of friends then this is a great party game.  This is on the daily deal via Amazon so limited time offer.

Barnes and Noble is holding a buy one/get one 50% off sale on board games and puzzles.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why I'll probably buy Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire

Arena Net is counting down towards Sept 22nd and the launch of Guild Wars 2's (GW2) second expansion; Path of Fire.  The game continues to be the last-game-standing of the post-World of Warcraft AAA MMOs (and deservedly so).

While I have not played GW2 in a while (PLUNKBAT having stolen much of my time recently) I am still likely to buy this expansion.

Why you might wonder?

The answer is simple; there is no subscription or "pay 2 win".  I can come back to GW2 whenever I want and pick up where I left off.  Sure I may have to invest some time in reading up on the most recent meta builds or grind out some mastery skill, but for the most part GW2 is pick up and go-go-go for any returning player.

This is the number one redeeming quality about GW2 and reminds me of days gone by when games were games and not just a series of money-sucking crates, DLCs, keys, etc.  So I will likely buy Path of Fire and jump back in for a few dozen hours and then I'll shelf GW2 as I always do.  Then I'll wait for the next expansion.

I would encourage anyone else pining for the days of MMOs gone by to do the same.  Companies like Arena Net deserve our support for making quality games with upfront costs in a world of get-your-first-hit-free-but-pay-up-in-the-end.
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