Doctor Who

Costume Couture: Her Universe

Costume Couture is back with a Planet Comic Con wrap-up! Then, it’s a discussion on Her Universe, a nerd\geek-centric clothing line for people of all shapes, sizes, and genders. Her Universe was started by Ashley Eckstein and includes licenses for Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Doctor Who, and more!

You can find Her Universe here: http://www.heruniverse.com/

Don’t miss our Planet Comic Con Cosplay Interviews with Jennifer Van Damsel, On My Sophii, Droid Girl Cosplay, and more! You can find Part 1 of 4 below. We interview DoodleSpork Cosplay, Droid Girl Cosplay, On My Sophii, Jennifer Van Damsel, Pros and Cons Cosplay, Another Castle Creations, Starburst Cosplay, and more!

Hosted by
Rae of Super Sirens Cosplay
Ian of Haus of Turner Cosplay

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Costume Couture: Her Universe

John Barrowman: Showman of Planet Comicon

Celebrities have been an undeniable draw for conventions for years, but none compare to John Barrowman. The Arrow star has a penchant for hosting his own panels (usually the convention will provide a moderator of some kind), his autograph lines overflow with eager fans, and the man actually participates in the convention (instead of sitting behind his table the entire time.) He’s a man that knows his fans hold more of his career in their hands than he does. And he loves every damn minute of it.

He didn’t just walk out onto the stage, the man entered with a fire under him. He jumped and danced and twirled and ran, careful to show that every single fan in the audience could see what he was wearing: a TARDIS skater dress and TARDIS tights. He assured us his TARDIS was bigger on the inside…then showed one lucky lady.  While most celebrities just ignore the sign language interpreter, John Barrowman celebrates him, intentionally making fart noises and repeating the phrase “hung like a donkey” just so he can watch the man sign it. That’s something the cameras should have panned to, because I wanted to see it too.

John Barrowman - Intro

His anecdotes didn’t fall under the celebrity panel norms, he had some brutal truths to lay down on the fans. He explained that in between shooting he lets his natural hair grow back in and the dye fade out, daring asshole fans to tell him he looks old.  He never tells fans his favorite anything because he has learned the hard way that his fans never let him forget it. So does he prefer his Captain Jack Harkness or his Malcolm Merlyn? We’ll never know.

While the entire panel was entertaining, the absolute best parts was hearing him discuss his acting methods.  There was an obvious difference between Captain Jack on Doctor Who and Captain Jack on Torchwood to the fans, so what was the motivation behind that choice? Barrowman knew that Captain Jack was the team leader in Torchwood, so while he was appearing on Doctor Who, he could forget about the world being on his shoulders and play up the character’s cheekiness instead.  He also expressed just how ridiculous he thought actors sound when they discuss their own acting methods, letting us know that he reacts as naturally as possible, which is why all of his characters have just a little bit of himself in them.

Fans were also surprisingly with it, asking him questions about his Scottish background, Strictly Come Dancing, and his recent work in British pantos.  He got to reveal a few juicy tidbits like his sister, Carole, and his own shared book series releasing a continuation soon of the Hollow Earth series and his confirmed death in the musical episode of The Flash meaning he’s no longer involved with The CW shows beginning next season, much to the audience’s dislike. Those questions did exist though; you know the ones I’m talking about.  The “do you think you’ll ever do this again?” kind of question.  And Barrowman laid it out there as brutally honest as he could: If fans want to see a character again, THEY HAVE TO TELL THE SHOWRUNNERS. He encouraged fans to tweet that they want Captain Jack and 12 to interact and that killing off Merlyn in an episode of The Flash when he wasn’t even playing Merlyn was a load of crap.  He loves doing the work, but he can’t also do the campaigning.

About halfway through the panel, and right in the middle of a fascinating story about a fan giving John Barrowman a dildo, the pipes and draping came tumbling down like dominoes in slow motion. What could have been a disaster for many other panels was nothing for John. He’s a seasoned actor who has come across so many disasters in his career, he knew exactly how to handle this. First he insisted that every Planet Comicon volunteer get out of the way and stay out of the way, assuring them it was above all their pay grades. The truth is, it had nothing to do with the convention itself, but the contractors that the location, Kansas City’s Bartle Hall, had used.  One man, the original sign language interpreter, was confirmed to had injured his hand (of all things he could injure) and while Barrowman seemed to have narrowly escaping injury himself, rumor among con attendees on Sunday was that he was in some pain (no confirmation whether or not it was from the accident or another cause is unknown at this time).  Without hesitation, Barrowman hopped off stage and continued the panel, and the dildo story.  This did, however, cause the postponing of Summer Glau’s panel.

John Barrowman - Stage Down

John Barrowman was an absolute joy to have at the convention and I, personally, encourage his return to Kansas City in the future. We’ll lure him here with devoted fans and barbecue.

John Barrowman: Showman of Planet Comicon

SH S3E13: Planet Comicon Who

We’ve got a special preview of Planet Comicon 2017, the largest comic convention in Kansas City! Thanks to special guest, Kirk Chritton, we discuss upcoming plans for this year’s big PCC event including some of the amazing creator guests who are attending like TMNT’s Kevin Eastman and Harley Quinn’s Amanda Conner. Then we talk about the big celebrity guests including the return of Stephen Amell, a hopeful second chance at John Barrowman, Felica Day, Wil Wheaton returns, and Ron Pearlman will be in the house! But that’s not all, Kirk tells us about this year’s new setup that uses even more space at Bartle Hall, plus new features like the Entertainment Space and cosplay group photo stages.

You can check out all the details plus get tickets to Planet Comicon on their website here.

Head over to our Facebook page to keep up with our latest and stay tuned for our Planet Comicon photo cosplay album, articles, and interviews as we will be part of the press at the main event.

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Screen Heroes Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rachel Stewart
Ryan Couture

Special Guest
Kirk Chritton

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

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Flying Killer Robots

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SH S3E13: Planet Comicon Who

Why Your Fandom Isn’t Better Than Mine (and Admittedly Vice-Versa)

Welcome to 2016. A year that feels as if it has been written by some of the greatest and most disliked fiction writers of our time.

If you haven’t been paying attention, 2016 has taken some of our most beloved media treasures from us. It has given us countless important news stories and opportunities that have been ignored by the media while they further drive their agendas on top of a division between classes and race. The year is actually giving us an election that features a billionaire evil villain against an emotionless un-convicted criminal that everybody seems to be settling with. We even have killer (maybe) clowns roaming the streets all across the country. And of course, an unlikely hero in a gorilla named Harambe who, well, really did nothing but die to earn this awkward heroic status.

When Nick Diener tweeted this is the year we desperately need Batman, he wasn’t lying:

nick-diener-canickdiener-clowns-terrorizing-the-streets-a-real-life-4297470

So, as like in every election year, 2016 presents us everything as either Side-A or Side-B, black or white, 0 or 1, gorilla or no gorilla. And if you’re getting ahead of me and starting to guess where I’m going with this article, I’m going to have to ask you to take a step back and not assume my gender… I mean direction.

My point? With all of this pick-a-side controversy, why is a community that once stood so firm together now arguing over whose fandom is better?

For me, I’ve made no secrets in my fandom choices. Although I’ll take an independent or small press comic over the big  guys any day, Batman has always been my hero of choice. Alan Moore could not, and probably still cannot, write no wrong, DC or Marvel, the book over the movie when it came to A History of Violence, and the movie over the book when it comes to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and so forth and so forth.

But before I carry on sharing my opinion, I am certain many of you reading this are ready to tell me that you disagree and more importantly the very reasons why.

But what makes my fandoms superior in my mind are the very same things that make your fandoms superior in yours. Mostly, it’s what we were raised on or maybe it was how we experienced it for the first or best time. Having a friend pop your Doctor Who cherry is amazing, no matter if it was decades ago or more recently when the ever-popular David Tennant was caught up in that wibbily-wobbly timey-wimey ball of a series.

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Most of all, our fandoms are our favorites because they are what helps us escape some realities and have allowed us to unite with others that have a deep love for something. Why do we turn to science fiction? Because even the grimmest of tales is less scary then what is really happening to the planet. Why do we continue to watch that same series over and over again? Most likely because you’re introducing it to a new friend the same way you were, or you’re sharing it over and over again with somebody important in your life.

But escaping in fandom doesn’t mean we’re running away from our problems. It doesn’t mean we’ve buried our head in the sand and pretended nothing is happening. In fact, the nerds and geeks of the world are the ones that have been saving it for generations, the ones that have given us not only all these fandoms, but all these technological channels to enjoy them. But as we try to share our enjoyment, or even sometimes our dislike, as geekdom grows so does the chance for an argument. The arguments grow louder and louder and a once united front of individuals that so often stood on the outside looking in now stand divided even though we hold the key to the entertainment universe. We quit introducing our friends to a fandom in such an intimate way and now just enjoy these things alone and share our strong willed opinions over the internet.

Let’s stop arguing about David Tennant or Matt Smith. Let’s stop arguing about DC Expanded Universe vs the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rather, let’s rejoice in the fact that Doctor Who came back and has given us four amazing and different actors to portray the lovable Time Lord. Let’s be pleased in the fact we have comic book movies coming out every quarter, if not more frequently. Let’s not complain about race when watching an amazing series Netflix recently released.

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Who cares if you know Jessica Jones and Luke Cage eventually get to the baby making stage of the relationship or not. Let’s welcome our different opinions and new members of the nerd alliance with open arms.

More importantly, let’s enjoy those now argument free times with loved ones, whether new or old. Let’s introduce a new generation to Wolverine, even if only through Hugh Jackman’s portrayal. Let’s walk away from something and appreciate the fact it was there giving us time away from this crazy world and a short window of time shared with somebody we care about.

In fact, next time somebody speaks positively about a fandom you dislike, why don’t you enjoy the fact that there are so many geeky things out there for people to enjoy that there’s no way every individual will like every single one.

Let’s stop fighting over trivial geeky things. Besides, we have more important things to argue about…. You know, like what’s for dinner?

Why Your Fandom Isn’t Better Than Mine (and Admittedly Vice-Versa)

Top 12 Most Anticipated Board Games of 2016

As an avid board game enthusiast, part of the fun of this hobby is looking forward to the new and exciting games coming out soon. 2015 was a strong year for board games, and so far what little news we have from 2016 appears to be shaping up to be another exciting year. Already there are more than 150 board games that have been announced for release during 2016 with varying degrees of information available about those games at this point. Most of the board games announced look mediocre or don’t appeal to my taste, but some have me just waiting to pre-order as soon as it becomes available.

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Before I begin my list, I should say that this list doesn’t represent the games I think will be the best this year. Some of the best board games that will come out this year won’t be announced until much later in the year. The games in this list merely represent the games I’m the most excited about. Some, I’m sure, will turn out great, others have the promise of being great, and it’s almost certain at least one of these will flop, but I’m dying to learn more about them anyway. Since this is going to be a long article, I’m going to list out my board games first, and if you’d like to see what they’re about, keep reading or just skip to the one’s you’re interested in.

Here’s the TL;DR Board Game list:

12) Apex Theropod Deck Building Game by Die-Hard Games
11) (Tied) Back to the Future: An Adventure Through Time and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past by IDW Games
10) (Tied) Legendary Encounters: Firefly and Legendary Encounters: Big Trouble in Little China by Upper Deck Entertainment
9) Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks by Gale Force Nine
8) The Networks by Formal Ferret Games
7) Campaign Trail by Cosmic Wombat Games
6) Victorian Masterminds by Space Cowboys
5) Star Wars: Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games
4) Chronicles: Origins by Artana
3) Scythe by Stonemaier Games
2) SeaFall by Plaid Hat Games
1) Untitled Star Trek Game by Gale Force Nine

Intrigued? Keep reading, and I’ll give you my take on the most exciting games set to be released in 2016.

12)  Apex Theropod Deck Building Game by Die-Hard Games

Apex Board Game Image

The Apex Theropod Deck Building Game is a deck-building game where each player takes on the role of a dinosaur species brood mother.  As the game progresses, you use dinosaurs from your clan to hunt for food along a rotating game trail, which you use to feed new dinosaurs that can be added to your brood, or to unlock new evolutions that give your species certain powers.  Each species of dinosaur includes a custom deck of cards with very distinct playing styles that fit the type of species you are playing.  For example, Raptors need to focus on ambushing and attacking in packs, whereas Tyrannosaurus can scavenge dinosaurs that were killed by other predators in the game trail.  Occasionally, a more powerful dinosaur shows up in the game trail to challenge your brood for dominance.  The game ends when the world is destroyed by a massive meteor strike, and the player who managed to hunt the most game, including bosses, wins.

This pick is a little bit of a cheat.  The first Kickstarter edition of this game was released early in 2015, and while I played it a lot, there were some flaws.  Some dinosaur species were unbalanced, and it was a little too easy to end up in a ‘death spiral’ where your deck becomes so clogged by wounds that you can never recover.  That said, the play was really thematic, and the card artwork was amazing.  Last summer, Herschel Hoffmeyer, the game designer and artist, announced that he was releasing what amounts to a second edition of the game, even though it’s not called such.  He took a lot of the feedback, fixed some of the balance issues, and the new version of the game is set to be released in late January or February.  The game looks even better, and if you like deck-building games, this one is worth your time.

11)  Back to the Future: An Adventure Through Time and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past by IDW Games

idw

This will be the first of two ‘ties’, but it’ll make sense why I’m ranking them this way.  Last year, board games saw a glut of campaign style games, some of which were great, many of which were not.  Very few had licenses on par with Back to the Future and TMNT.  IDW is a company mostly known for their comic book lines, but in the last few years has ventured into board games.  They’ve put out a few decent games, including Machi Koro and Yedo, but they’ve been focusing recently on licensed properties, including The Godfather, X-Files, and Orphan Black.  All of those games have been largely disappointing.

Last year, Cryptozoic Entertainment released the Ghostbusters game, which primarily used artwork from the IDW Publishing Ghostbusters comics.  Ghostbusters is a game that hits the nostalgia factor hard, and has great miniatures, but the story and gameplay falls flat and feels very repetitive.  Ghostbusters was one of several games to try and add a campaign element to it that just feels underwhelming.  Now IDW is venturing on their own with TMNT and Back to the Future, and while once again the nostalgia factor is high, I’m REALLY nervous.

IDW Publishing has been putting out TMNT comics for a number of years now, which I’ve quite enjoyed.  The new TMNT game appears to let players play as one of the half-shell heroes or as Shredder (which I assume means it’s a 1-vs-All style game as opposed to purely cooperative), and will recreate stories from the comic book arcs of the last four years.  The artwork promises to be great with Kevin Eastman on the project, and the game is being designed by Kevin Wilson, who has done some great games (Descent 2nd Edition, Arkham Horror, and Fury of Dracula), but has also had some misses.  With a summer release, we should get more information soon.

Back to the Future is a more nebulous game right now.  From what we know so far, it’s a card game for 2-4 players that involves traveling back and forth between 1955, 1985, and 2015 to ensure that key events from the movies happen as they are supposed to that plays in about 30 minutes.  Each turn, players take on the role of one of the iconic characters and will be trying to maneuver other characters from the movies to their play areas to trigger key events from the movies.  It adds an interesting ‘ripple’ mechanic, where you bank cards in between the three time periods that represent positive changes that occurred because of how events in the past were changed.  While I’ll have to wait and see as more information comes out, I’m not sure I’m sold on a filler-type version of a Back to the Future game yet, but the idea is interesting.  We’ve yet to see a great game with this license, so maybe this one will be it.

10)  Legendary Encounters: Firefly and Legendary Encounters: Big Trouble in Little China by Upper Deck Entertainment

legendary

The Legendary system is one I have raved about before.  Towards the end of last year, Upper Deck announced there were two different new Legendary Encounters games being planned that would be standalone titles, but both of them had me very intrigued:  Firefly and Big Trouble in Little China.  For those unfamiliar, the Legendary System involved a Deck-Building engine with a story-driven event track of villains/challenges that the players must overcome all while trying to accomplish a set of objectives to complete the story/defeat the villain.  The Alien and Predator versions of the game are among some of my favorite games of all time, so it’s a system I like a lot.

My concern is how these two IPs will fit into that system.  Every variant of the Legendary engine so far has been focused on combat.  This gives me some concerns when it comes to the Firefly license.  The idea of a Firefly game being a cooperative effort I like a lot, but it never felt like combat lay at the heart of the show, so I’m curious/nervous to see what direction they take it in.  Big Trouble in Little China is a fantastic cult classic film (set to be remade soon as well), but my only concern here is the depth of the story.  Marvel Legendary has a billion villains available to play now, Aliens has 4 movies to recreate, Predator only has two, but you can play as either Humans or Predators, which gives effectively 4 scenarios to play (plus the Alien crossover pack which allows you to combine the two games).  Even Firefly could probably pick a couple of episodes to recreate, but there’s just the single story from Big Trouble in Little China, which is my only concern there.  I think the theming would work well in this engine since there is a lot of combat, and bosses along the way to define the story.

So, long story short, I’m excited to see what they do with both games, since both have the potential to be interesting iterations of the Legendary system, but both could just as easily turn out to not work at all.  Both look to be released by GenCon 2016, which will be in early August.

9)  Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks by Gale Force Nine

doctorwho

This has every appearance of being the game that Whovians have been waiting for, though there’s not much more than an initial press release known about the game right now.  The press blurb indicates that the Daleks appear to be waging an all out war across time and space to eliminate the Doctor, and players will step into the role of one of the various incarnations of the Doctor to try and stop their plan to erase the Doctor from history.  Promising miniatures (Dalek miniatures make me want to do a little happy dance by themselves) and interesting game play, I’m actually really excited to see where this game ends up.  Gale Force Nine, unlike IDW or Cryptozoic, has an almost flawless record for licensed IP adaptations.  Their versions of Firefly, Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, and Spartacus are all incredibly thematic, well-designed games that have received a lot of critical praise.  A great property in the hands of a solid company makes me really excited to see where this one goes.

8)  The Networks by Formal Ferret Games

TheNetworks

The Networks is a game released on Kickstarter this past Fall and set to release in June 2016 about running the best TV Network.  Players compete to have the best prime-time lineup and draw the most viewers to their network.  Players must manage their lineup of shows, which may gain or lose viewers as the shows age, and fill those shows with acting talent and advertisements to keep their network in the black.  Many of the cards are very tongue-in-cheek references to existing shows (my favorite being NCISICMBOMGOMG: Scranton), actors or ads, and the humor is one of the elements that really drew me to this game and I think will help it be a hit with a lot of people.

I’ve had a chance to print out a print-and-play copy of this game to try out, and I was surprised to see how strategic the gameplay is.  The humor across all the cards really belies that fact that there’s a lot of competition to get the shows you need.  Money always feels tight, so there’s always a balance to make sure you’re able to take the right actions when you need them.  With a catchup mechanism that feels very fair, special abilities that can be gained through the game, and ways to specialize your network to your advantage, I’ve been very impressed with how solid this game is, and can’t wait to get the real thing in my hands this summer.

7)  Campaign Trail by Cosmic Wombat Games

campaignTrail

Another Kickstarter project, this one is more forward looking.  Campaign Trail ran a campaign this past fall that didn’t fund, and will be relaunching again next month.  Don’t be afraid when I say this is a game about politics, specifically running for President.  There’s actually a lot of game to like here, and while politics is the setting, this game is at its core a fairly competitive area control game, with players vying for influence in key states to make sure they maintain their edge in electoral college votes.  When my Republican candidate runs ads on, say, Gun Control, I don’t have to say what position he takes, just that he’s out campaigning on that issue, which helps avoid the ideological problems many other political games have in forcing players to argue or defend positions that they don’t agree with or (more commonly) that start out of game conflicts at the table.

Each player represents either a Republican, Democratic, or Independent candidate (and when you play with more than three, players form teams of President and Vice President candidates), and while candidates will be running ads and holding debates on a number of pressing topics, players aren’t required to actually espouse or argue a given opinion.    Using one of my favorite mechanics, players have a hand of cards with each card capable of performing most of the 6 actions available each turn.  Some cards are stronger in certain actions such a fundraising or travel, but this gives you a lot of tactical options to respond to what other players are doing.  There’s a really cool scoring track that shows who leads in each state that represents the role that polling plays in an election and gives all players at the table a real-time view of who is in the lead at any given time.  This looks to be a really strong game that fills a theme I think is really underrepresented, and one I can’t wait to back once it becomes available.

6)  Victorian Masterminds by Space Cowboys

While the game title (which is not finalized yet, apparently) doesn’t give you any real idea what the game is about, the setting from the game descriptions is as follows:

“Sherlock Holmes is dead! And with London’s greatest detective out of the way, those with villainous minds decide to wreak as much terror as possible on the populace — and you are one of those dastardly no-goodniks!  In Victorian Masterminds, you use five agents to destroy buildings, kidnap scientists, complete missions, and collect resources in order to assemble your custom death-dealing device. Don’t forget to increase your firepower, too, so that you can then put that device to good use.”

Add to that description that the game is being designed by Eric Lang (Blood Rage, XCOM: The Board Game, and Arcadia Quest among others) and Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders, Ghost Stories, Takenoko, and Tokaido), and you have my attention.  It’s supposed to feature worker placement with different kinds of workers, and will likely be released towards the end of 2016.

If you’re curious to know more, here’s an interview with Eric Lang discussing the prototype at BGG.CON 2015:

5)  Star Wars: Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games

rebellion1

Reminiscent of the PC Game of the same name released in 1998, Star Wars: Rebellion is a game of galactic conquest for 2-4 players developed by Fantasy Flight Games.  They’ve done pretty amazing work with the Star Wars license, though almost all of that work has been either in card or miniature games.  This appears to be their first ‘pure’ board game effort with the license, and I couldn’t be more excited.  This game appears to be the first to try and take the full galactic view of the conflict, and players will have to manage system morale, ground and space combat, and either find or protect the Rebel Alliance Headquarters to win.

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With 170 miniatures, custom dice, cards, and a massive board, it promises to be an engaging experience, though the retail MSRP appears to be set at $100, which is a little steep for my liking.  What remains to be seen is whether the game will be a great game for Star Wars fans, or just a great game period.  With an estimated release in Spring of 2016, Fantasy Flight Games should soon start releasing teaser content to give us a better taste of what this game will involve, so keep an eye out for that in the next few months if this sounds interesting to you.

4)  Chronicles: Origins by Artana

This game is one of the hardest to get my head around, but could end up as one of the most unique gaming experiences of the year, assuming it gets released during 2016.  Set to launch on Kickstarter next month, Chronicles: Origins is the first in a planned series of Chronicle games that attempts to take the Legacy game concept to places it’s never been before.  It seems like the goal of this game is to take the legacy experience you get from playing through a single arc, then apply the concept used in some video game franchises of taking your saved data to inform the next game, except in this case, you’re filling out the breadth of civilization.

Hard to get your head around?  Sure.  This video may help.

I’m really, REALLY excited by the idea of a series of Legacy games all linked together, with the big advantage being that you can change up the game style between Ages.  Really interesting idea, and one I’ve definitely got my eye on.

3)  Scythe by Stonemaier Games

scythe

This is another game that’s a little hard to summarize, so I’ll simply fall back to the Kickstarter video to explain:

Did I mention this game raised $1.8 million on Kickstarter?  It’s fair to say a lot of people are looking forward to this one.  A 4X, alternate history, area control and resource management game with Mechs with beautiful artwork and custom miniature Mechs?  Yeah, I’m pretty excited.  Did I mention Mechs?

2)  SeaFall by Plaid Hat Games

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SeaFall has been seemingly stuck in development hell for a long time now, which proves just how hard it is to actually balance a Legacy style game.  SeaFall is a 4X game (I guess I just really like that genre) set in the age of exploration, where each player plays a world power beginning to establish their naval supremacy.  From the brief game description:

“In SeaFall, the world is starting to claw its way out of a dark age and has begun to rediscover seafaring technology. Players take on the role of a mainland empire that consults with a consortium of advisors to discover new islands, explore those islands, develop trade, send out raiding parties, take part in ship-to-ship combat, and more. As in Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy, co-designed by Rob Daviau, SeaFall evolves as the game is played, setting their grudges into the history of the game and building a different narrative at every table as players open up the world.”

This game has been kept under rather tight wraps as development has progressed.  Unlike Pandemic: Legacy, it would seem that individual games will tend towards 120 minutes instead of 45 – 60 minutes, which I’m totally fine with.  What I’ve been able to see of the game reminds me of the Uncharted Waters video game series for the SNES/Genesis that I spent hours playing when I was younger.  I think a lot of people are eagerly waiting for a release date to be put out there for this one, but all indications are that it will come out this year.

1)  Untitled Star Trek Game by Gale Force Nine

While there’s been a glut of good Star Wars board and video games, there hasn’t been a great Star Trek game in quite a while.  Mayfair’s most recent attempt (Star Trek:  Five Year Mission) was just not good.  I happen to enjoy Star Trek: Fleet Captains a fair amount, though the rules are so dense and the setup time pretty intimidating to the point it almost never hits the table anymore.  The X-Wing Miniatures game is superior in all aspects to WizKids Attack Wing.  That’s why when I heard last month that a new game was being developed, and by Gale Force Nine (see my earlier gushing over them about Doctor Who), my ears perked up.  There are actually two new Trek-themed games coming out: one a reskinning of an existing game called Mage Knight by WizKids, who doesn’t have the best track record in my book, and this game.

What we know right now is pretty slim.  Planned to be released in time for the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek during the summer (read GenCon 2016 I would think), this currently untitled game is meant to be a giant 4X style game in the Star Trek Universe.  (I just realized my top 3 games are all 4X style games.  Hmm…)  Rather than play characters, you play as an empire (in what I REALLY hope feels closer to the old Birth of the Federation PC game released nearly 20 years ago) starting at the discovery of warp travel.  The game is currently in alpha testing, and has been kept largely under wraps, so we don’t know a lot yet, but the promise of a good, big, meaty Star Trek game has me the most excited of any game that’s been announced to this point.  Here’s a video from BGG.CON with about as much information as is available yet.

If it’s at GenCon this year, it’ll be my number one acquisition.  I want this to be good so badly, yet I fear for my wallet if it is.

So, that’s my list for the most anticipated board games of 2016.  If something caught your eye here, or there’s something you’re excited for this year, let me know down in the comments below.

Top 12 Most Anticipated Board Games of 2016

Doctor Who: Underwater Ghost arc review

Overview:

In this arc of season 9 of Doctor Who (“Under the Lake” and “Before the Flood), the Doctor and Clara find themselves in an underwater base built amid a flooded town. Oh, and the base happens to be inhabited by ghosts who are doing more than just haunting the base’s occupants. It’s up to the duo to solve the mystery of the ghosts and try to stop them.

The Good:

Before he was a ghost…

Toby Whithouse usually writes one or two episodes of Doctor Who per season. His episodes (which include “School Reunion,” “Vampires of Venice,” and “A Town Called Mercy”) always tend to be fun and interesting. I suppose you can count me as a bit biased since he also ran the BBC version Being Human. While this episode isn’t my favorite penned by Whithouse, it definitely lives up to the title of fun and interesting.

The idea of exploring ghosts was not as trite as one might think. Season 7 also had a ghost episode (written by the ever wonderful Neil Cross) but dealt with the more mysterious and unseen ghost. These ghosts were very much visible and creepy. Just look at the eyes. Do you see any? That’s because there aren’t any!

The Doctor plays the Doctor Who theme song.

The Doctor plays the Doctor Who theme song.

Also, this particular episode of Doctor Who did something rare for the series, they crossed timelines within the episode. In other words, the Doctor actually went back in time and saw his past, a past we had already seen in the episode. It was very much Back to the Future Part II-esque and was a lot of fun to see him bumbling around like Marty and Doc Brown.

Lastly, the second episode dealt with a paradox that is quite common in time travel, who came up with the idea first? The Doctor opens up “Before the Flood” with a hypothetical story of a time traveler who goes to the past to meet Beethoven. However, Beethoven doesn’t exist. Fortunately, the time traveler brought along copies of all of Beethoven’s works and transcribed them down, thus making himself Beethoven. So the question remains, who truly wrote Beethoven’s works? It was a mysterious opening that immediately followed with the Doctor taking his now trademark electric guitar and riffing along to the theme song.

So many people to be haunted by ghosts.

The Bad:

I didn’t care for most of the minor characters like I did for the Doctor and Clara. That’s probably why the deaths had no meaning for me. They were just killing off the least important/least likable characters. If death is just going to be meaningless, then there is no point in having it be apart of the story. And on that note, there is no point in trying to convince us that you are going to kill off the Doctor or Clara. We know they have already filmed the entire season and that it’s highly unlikely either one will be killed off this early in the season.

Ghost town?

Conclusion:

This was not a bad arc of Doctor Who but it was also not a strong arc like the previous Dalek story. The story itself became much more interesting in the second episode when we are given a glimpse into the town before it met its watery grave, not to mention the discussion of time travel paradoxes. However, something was lacking here. And it probably had something to do with the fact that I was not invested enough in the minor characters to actually care what happened to them.

Doctor Who: Underwater Ghost arc review