Catching Up

It’s been a bit of a frosty one here today, hence the header photo up there. I’m currently slap-bang in the middle of a week off work, though so far little of this time off has gone to plan! I was intending to go to London yesterday, for a little pre-Christmas shopping, but was laid low with illness, tragically, so, uh, haven’t gone. While sad for me, at least you get to enjoy my blog a little more – yes, you’re very lucky like that…

DC Deck Building Game Rivals Batman vs Joker

Something that’s caught my attention is the news on the next addition to the DC Deck Building Game, Rivals. Cryptozoic seem to be billing it almost an an intro-game, as if the main game is too difficult or something, not sure about that. DC is, of course, a game I’ve talked about plenty of times since I started doing this blog, but haven’t taken a look at yet in one of my game-day blogs – rest assured, it’s on the to-do list! The idea behind this one seems nice enough, and it looks like it should be a good addition to the line, anyway.

DC Deck Building Game Rivals Batman vs Joker

On the subject of deck-builder expansions, Flying Frog have now got the Forbidden Island supplement to Dark Gothic available on their webstore. Mentioned way back when, it seems that this is indeed based off the location from the Something Wicked expansion, with a little sub-theme of collecting Journal Pages for bonus victory points at the end. Nice enough, anyway! (They also have another mini expansion for Conquest of Planet Earth…)

Dark Gothic Forgotten Island

Speaking of Flying Frog Games, on Monday, I managed to get in my first game with Shadows of Brimstone, which was something of the event, I have to say! In the end, it was a really interesting experience – slightly overwhelming, I will freely admit, due to the various elements that make up the hero turn this time. Definitely more involved than previous FFP games, I must say!

Shadows of Brimstone

I played the Lawman, who I decided to call Owen Barnabas for absolutely no reason. At first, I’d thought I’d set off on an adventure, but I probably got far too many rules wrong for this to sit right, so I think instead I’ll have a load of solitary games as I get the feel for it, before launching into a campaign!

I had quite a lot of bad luck early on in the game, unfortunately – such as when this happened:

Shadows of Brimstone

Apparently, the rushing sound of an underground waterfall masked the sound of this little lot creeping up on me! Crikey! I managed to escape with a broken collar bone, anyway, so not the most auspicious of starts. Ahem!

First impressions, though, are largely favourable. If you’ve played Fortune & Glory (one of my favourites), you’ll have a good general idea of what this game is all about, as that is probably the closest to how this one works. There is a lot more going on, however, such as every enemy having its own stat sheet rather than the minions with their basic combat rating and hit points. That side of it does feel a bit like the RPG thing. But yeah, I was a bit overwhelmed by it all, but think it could be a really, really fun game – once I get my head around it!

I’ve only built up the miniatures from Swamps of Death at the moment, and have now moved back to building up Necron vehicles! I find it quite relaxing to do this, so was glad of the distraction from feeling like death! I’ve currently got two primed and ready to receive paint: the Catacomb Command Barge, and the Triarch Stalker!

Triarch Stalker

Catacomb Command Barge

I particularly like the Command Barge, and have had it on the shelf for what feels like ages waiting for this moment! Together, these are the biggest “miniatures” I’ve yet built, but have enjoyed doing so, all the same! For a more work-in-progress report, check out my tumblr posts! Not really sure when I’m going to get round to painting the little blighters up, but at least they’re done and ready for me, I suppose!

Catacomb Command Barge

Returning to the theme of the Old West, another Carcassonne variant is poised for release later this month, Gold Rush. I’ve had a soft spot for this era since junior school, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Klaus has implemented the theme for the game!

To end, it looks like there’ll be a small avalanche of games coming at us from Fantasy Flight soon, as not only Imperial Assault, but also expansions big and small, for Eldritch Horror, Android Netrunner, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars LCGs among others, are all on the boat – hopefully ready for Christmas… Looks like I won’t have much money this month, either, then…

Dawn of the Jedi (3)

Hey everyone!
Well, after my look through the first two story arcs of the Dawn of the Jedi series from Dark Horse, I suppose it’s only right that I take a look at the final part of the trilogy…

Dawn of the Jedi

As you may recall, I have some fairly mixed views on both the previous issues – which you can read about here:

Force Storm                                          Prisoner of Bogan

The third story picks up where the last left off, though a year has lapsed since that last book. Now this, I like: there appears to be no such thing as hyperspace travel in this period (“Good!” I hear you cry!), so everybody moves around at sublight speeds. It therefore takes the Rakatan force a year to penetrate the system – a really nice point, though one at odds with the fact that they appear to have crossed the galaxy, from Tatooine to the Deep Core, over the course of the three books. Hm. Anyway!

here be spoilers!

Daegen Lok is now leading the Je’daii, and in an alarming number of panels he looks very similar to Quinlan Vos during some of the latter’s Clone Wars escapades… That aside, the book deals with the invasion in a really great manner. It’s action for almost the entire book, and I for one was really actually very impressed! We also get to spend a little more time with the Rakata, and get to understand a little more of their motives and so forth.

Something that really bugged me, however, was the love story between Shae Koda and Xesh. I hadn’t mentioned it in the second blog as I’d been hoping I’d been reading too much into things, and it wouldn’t happen, but alas, it does. I can’t decide whether this was a good move or not – that it felt inevitable might be good, because Star Wars is almost meant to be one long trope after another, but there’s that nagging sense that nobody is doing anything differently anymore, and it’s almost like the love story was put in “because there needs to be a love story”. It felt like it should have been a big moment, but I found myself bored by it, sadly. (Also, as a side note, Xesh reveals his “real name” as Tau – that just made me think of the Warhammer 40,000 race…)

Once the love story is out in the open, we see Xesh’s big betrayal of the Je’daii, which I supposed served to heighten my distaste for the romance. To me, the betrayal didn’t need any more layering, but again, it felt like the whole love story was added in to add to the sense of personal betrayal. But anyway. I admit to being a bit confused by the proceedings here, as at one point it felt a bit like we were leading up to a “it was all a dream” scenario – was it really Xesh on the planet, or merely his shadow?

The denouement comes when everybody meets down at the bottom of the Chasm, which has been with us since the first issue of course, and turns out to be the Infinity Gate to end all Infinity Gates, which the Rataka want to control. After a crazy duel between Daegen and the chief Rakata, Skal’nas, and one between Xesh and Shae, the Rakata are defeated with the death of their leader. Felt a bit too easy, that – the Rakata apparently felt Skal’nas’ death through the Force, and headed off to vie with each other for supremacy. However, with the Infinity Gate destroyed, there was no longer a point to fighting for control of Tython anyway. While the rest of the Je’daii lick their wounds, Xesh and Shae head off into the Tython wilderness to start a life together.

Ah, schmaltz!

I said above that I liked this one, and I did, but there were a few things I wish we had more of, and a few that I wish had been left out. I said we saw more of the Rakata, but we’ve really only scratched the surface here, so it’s a sad thing that we won’t be getting any further issues in the series.

Something else that I thought really salient, but have kept it until now to discuss, is the whole issue of how the Je’daii became the Jedi and Sith Lords of later eras. In this harmonious pre-Republic age, we have the light and dark sides, but we have pureblood Sith as Je’daii warriors, and it all seems a little screwy. There is a Council, though we don’t really get much info on that. It’s quite difficult to reconcile what we’re reading about here with what we know comes later, so in a sense it would be very useful to see where we’re headed, somehow. All that said, however, there is still the issue of it being bad for Je’daii to be forming attachments, while at the same time we see Je’daii who have married and had kids, etc. There’s a lot to wrap your head around, and I for one am really sad that we haven’t had the opportunity to see more around the Je’daii tenets in this era, to compare and contrast with those of the later Jedi. It’s something that I suppose you’d take for granted in a novel, say, but a comic has other priorities. (There is, of course, the novel Into the Void, set before the comic series, which I plan to move onto next). Anyway, it would have been nice to have seen more of the principles of the order, aside from that very brief scene with the rancor dragon.

Oh yeah, there’s a rancor dragon. She’s called “Butch”.

Dawn of the Jedi

The rancor dragon actually brings up another point. We see a lot of facets of both the later Jedi and Sith cultures, here for instance we’re almost telegraphing the Sith Alchemy of Ludo Kressh and his ilk, for instance. It’s an interesting blend of the two, but an odd mix all the same. I suppose this oddity fails to convince me that this really is how the Jedi Order began, which sounds pretty damning really, but there you have it. There are some very potent whiffs of a suitably epic origin, but when it’s all over, I just didn’t feel like this did the idea justice.

So in short, it’s an interesting little series, though one that I feel could have been so much better than it was. That’s not to say it’s awful, it just could have been better, principally in its distance from the core timeline.