Friday, November 23, 2012


Oh, I should also mention, especially for new readers:
While my printfection store is still online, I also discovered redbubble.
If you look at the links in the sidebar, you can buy Ossian-related merchandise from both.
Redbubble lets you get stickers (really the primary reason I chose them), but also if you really love Ossian, you can get him on an ipad case or something.

I have set commission on these items to 0%. I can't justify adding to the price when I won't possibly meet the minimums to collect.

So, have fun with that!
I'll post pictures of the stickers when my first order arrives...

Thanksgiving PGWJ

Twas the night before Thanksgiving,
And at Josh's house,
Six gamers were gathered
(And somewhere, a mouse :/ )

The Wonders were 7,
The players were 6.
And Josh didn't win,
Despite knowing the tricks.

Why am I rhyming?
I'm really not sure.
But now that I've started,
It's too hard to stop.

Oh *ahem* yeah that's a lot better.

So, yeah here's a PGWJ session report of sorts.

As usual, Kevin brought some friends over, and we played some games.
We played a few rounds of 7 Wonders, and since this is coming back into rotation I am really feeling compelled to buy Cities, and the ipad app (which gives you an extra "digital" wonder). Maybe that is where some of my birthday money will go.

After playing 7 Wonders, we switched gears to play the Back to the Future cardgame, which is a variant on Chrononauts.
First, I must direct you to this thread. Note my post at the end, I won't spoil it:

Short version of that story is, the character "ID cards" have a barcode on the back, so what every good smartphone-owning nerd is going to do right away is to scan that barcode and see what it says. In my case, that kind of backfired but I still thought it was funny.

I was a little bit disappointed with the BttF game, because even though the "timeline" had some fun thematic elements, there was absolutely no story to go along with the characters, all of whom are "descendents" of the characters from the movies but not actually in the movies.
It would have been nice to know a little bit more about what makes Marty McFly III tick, rather than just seeing a list of events in the movies that made him be born.  Chrononauts definitely wins on flavor, and BttF has a rich universe (and is one of my favorite movie franchises of all time), so this made me sad.
They could have also spiced it up with more pictures, but that probably delves more into the "expensive licensing fees" arena which is an unfortunate reality of game design.
I did end up winning (on behalf of Marty III), but partially due to the fact that one of Kevin's friends was making silly decisions just to make the game end without regard for his win condition.
That's a sort of gamer I am not fond of playing with (although in other games, he was just fine, and some games actually cater to that sort of behavior).  Hopefully if I ever play Galactica with him, he won't aim for a human loss when human "just because it's funny".

Anyway, it was great to have 6, and I hope we get another good run of sessions going.
During December I'll be able to participate in some gaming outside of my house, and PGWJ might also switch nights in the future due to scheduling conflicts.
If you're interested, please get on my list!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Red Dwarf X: "The Beginning", and the series as One Glorious Whole

So that's that. "The Beginning". The last episode of Red Dwarf X, which certainly leaves it open-ended for future seasons, episodes, and/or specials.

Setting aside the major plothole of RDX, which I'll get to in a moment, I liked this episode. The jokes were good, the story was good.
I liked the idea that they are constantly getting threatened by Rogue Simulants, to the point where it bores them -- whether it's Lister's meta-confidence that he's going to live to 171 or not.
I really appreciated the scene of Cat being Cat, playing with a string, calling back to the yo-yo scene of the olden days. Maybe the first scene of Cat acting "like a cat" rather than "a 3-year-old with sharp teeth and unique fashion sense" since Series 3.
I thought the jokes were very classic Dwarf interactions.  Thumbs up on this episode, and a good way to go out.  And even a post-credits scene to end on a funny note.

Minor episode-specific continuity things:

I'm not sure I believe Rimmer's Dad's Message.  I think he recorded it expecting for weasely Arnie to watch it in advance; it's surprising that it took this long (I'd think Rimmer would have watched it even before the radiation leak happened, when he thought his dad was still alive [but was dead, as we saw in "Better than Life"]).  I think he was simply disowning his embarrassment of a son -- although, as it turns out (from "Trojan", SXE1), brother Howard may have just been a better liar about his accomplishments after leaving home.

Rimmer's last words: "Mummy mummy mummy!" (or "Mu-"). Offensively forgetting that his last words -- caught on tape and seen by Lister (albeit a few hundred years ago, so we can forgive him for forgetting) -- were, of course, "Gazpacho Soup".

But this point leads into something I said in an earlier post regarding...

Real Series Continuity

This Rimmer is a hologram of the Arnold J. Rimmer from the original series.  The one who was responsible for the deaths of 1167 (give or take 1000) crew members by failing to seal the drive plate properly.
The last time we saw this version of Rimmer (aside from "Back to Earth", which arguably takes place after Series X or not-at-all) was in "Stoke Me A Clipper" (S7E2), when "our" Arnie left to don the mullet wig and become the next Ace, and the Cat and Kryten were led to believe that he was no more.
But, if he is "back" from taking his turn as Ace, then he certainly hasn't learned any lessons.

And we know that at least "Ouroboros" (S7E3) has to have happened in Series X continuity, because there's a whole episode devoted to it, as mentioned in this blog entry where I stitched together Lister's personal geneological history.

So here is the theory (which I did mention a few posts down, but here it is a little more fleshed out):

At the end of S7E8, "Nanarchy", the crew (Lister, Cat, Kryten, and Kochanski) find themselves in a "dust storm" which turns out to be the disintegrated bits of Red Dwarf, after they discover a watch containing their old pal Holly.
But this is where Series 8 and Series X's universes diverge.
Mercifully, Series X can be seen to erase Series 8 from its miserable existence.

In this universe, instead of finding Holly, they find a hologram disk.  By the typical luck of the Red Dwarf crew, this hologram disk is the backup copy of Arnold Rimmer, last seen in Me2 (S1E6)!
They have to piece together exactly what happened themselves, since Rimmer obviously knows nothing, but they manage to convince the nanos to reconstruct the Holly-less (and crew-less!) Red Dwarf, with some serious upgrades (more computer screens, better vending machines, but still no weapons).
Somewhere along the way, Kochanski gets lost, or maybe finds another way to return to her home universe -- but not explicitly killed, since there are a few references to looking for her throughout Series X. Other than this minor question, this is a rather smooth ("with a capital SMOO") explanation of how we got here, to a Holly-less, Kochanski-less, but old-school-Rimmer, modernized ship.

(one more note: They also must have retained Legion's (S6E2) knowledge of how to convert Rimmer to Hard Light, and taken some time out to get that squared away -- or maybe the nanos did them that favor. I'm sure Arnie was pleased)

My overall impressions of Series X

So, I went into Series X with low expectations.  After being "not very fond" of Series 8 and Back to Earth, I thought this was going to be more of the same horribleness.
But I must say, this far exceeded those expectations. As far as writing, pacing, and jokes, at least 4 of the 6 episodes were up to old Series 5 and 6 standards. Continuity could use a little work, and I do miss the Rob Grant touches of the early seasons, but a lot of these cynical reactions are just a result of living on the internet for so long.  
This definitely isn't the best of all the series, but it ranks high enough to watch it again. 
And I'm certainly looking forward to the BluRay extras (already on my wishlist, although it's coming out in R1 a little late for the holiday season...)

On the arbitrary Ossian Scale of Rating Things, I'd rate Series X as a solid GRRRR

I might come around to some more Red Dwarf Overanalysis posts on the blog; stay tuned.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Red Dwarf X: Dear Dave

So here's another episode that, despite some minor continuity and setting nits, was pretty decent.

It definitely adds a few more sentences to my "Fathers and Suns" post.  Lister's excited about being a dad, and yet again ignoring the other children he's fathered -- even himself, which he just made a big deal out of a few episodes ago. I'll go back and add that epilogue later.

Other than that, there isn't really much else to say. One of the better episodes of the season so far.
Let's see what the final Series X episode throws at us.

I've been thinking some more about where Series X can possibly exist in continuity, and I've got a new theory:
At the very end of Series 7, they find the "dust storm" that is actually particles of Red Dwarf.  But in a slightly parallel universe, instead of finding the "Holly Watch", what if they found a reconstructed Arnold Rimmer Personality Disk?  And instead of resurrecting the ship with crew on it, we get an empty but souped-up ship?
That might just work.
Series 8 can diverge from canon in its own universe, and Back to Earth can be... whatever it is.
If you pass some time, and have something mysteriously weird happen to Kochanski (which keeps being alluded to so far in Series X anyway), you get a fairly consistent explanation.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

XCOM: Earth 10

The XCOM project on Earth 10 has learned a lot from its predecessors.

Earth 5 and 9 were false starts. And a few parallel Earths gave up before the bitter end.
Earth 8 showed some promise, finally finding a soldier with potential for psychic abilities, mere days before the XCOM project folded, never even getting a chance to learn how to use these abilities.

Earth 10, not wanting to repeat history, has started out cautiously.  Several months in, we have only seen two deaths: One by a surprise attack from a fast Chryssalid who took a fully healthy soldier and dropped her to the ground. The second death was that very soldier rising as a zombie and taking out her visceral hate on a fellow slightly-weakened soldier.
Research is going well. We have learned much about Overwatch, Smoke Grenades, and the finer points of using pistols, as well as favoring Panic Management over short-term Rewards when choosing which front to fight on.
Earth 10's XCOM program will continue its policy of caution and patience for as long as we can manage.

Of course, now that we have written up this status log, we are doomed.
Let's hope for the best.