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12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Massive Darkness

Back to my 12 Days of Holiday Game Recommendations! One of my favorite types of board games are ones that fully and competently embrace the visual aesthetics of the medium. (Mind you, there are phenomenal games that take a minimalist approach in their presentation. Don’t take this as a sly condemnation of that approach.) I also really like games that give you components that can be easily repurposed. So for Day 7 I’m enthusiastically propping up Massive Darkness, by CMON.

Massive Darkness is a fantasy board game by several of the creators of Zombicide. At the start of each play session players will pick a scenario that will tell them how to build the map, what their objectives are, and any additional rules they should keep in mind. Then players will choose their character, and their class. The characters get a few abilities unique to them, while their class determines how they can progress over the course of play. Mixing and matching the character and classes is one of the fun parts of multiple playthroughs!

Enemies and treasure in Massive Darkness are determined by card draw. As players progress through a scenario, they’ll reach more difficult parts of the dungeon that will spawn stronger enemies and better loot. Enemies are represented by miniatures (more on those below), and will either come as a horde, a mini-boss, or a boss monster. No matter the type, they will also spawn with a random magic item that the player who strikes the final blow gets to keep.

Combat in Massive Darkness is very basic at its core. The game comes with unique six-sided dice that are either for attacks or defense. Fights are simple matter of gathering the dice pools for the attacker and defender, and having a roll-off. Outcomes can be modified by a creature’s special abilities, a character’s traits, or an item’s powers. But combat is still meant to be a faced-paced affair.

The gameplay experience of Massive Darkness reminds me of the old Gauntlet video games, but with more customization. Players are going face swarms of baddies, trade loot with amongst the team, and have to choose on the fly which ability to unlock. It’s a casual “beer-and-pretzels” experience for as many as six, or for solo play. It’s easy to teach, and has great replay value out of the box that can be tweaked with expansions and crossover packs that integrate Zombicide.

Now enough about the gameplay, let’s talk about the visuals! The artwork embraces that sweet spot between “simple” and “unique”. The wizard has a staff and pointy hat. The thief has a cowl and two daggers. The barbarian’s muscles are as comically oversized as his ax. Meanwhile it’s easy to tell which monsters are the orcs, goblins, or dwarves with a simple glace. But everything is depicted in such a unique style that they couldn’t come from anywhere but the world of Massive Darkness (or Zombicide). Just as it’s easy to tell a Warhammer Ork from any other orc, the various pieces from Massive Darkness couldn’t be from anywhere else.

This absolutely translates to the miniatures, of which there are over seventy! Massive Darkness is a fantastic purchase just for the miniatures alone. It’s a great supply of monsters for any game of D&D/Pathfinder/13 Age/etc. And at less than $2 a mini, they’re cheaper the various Bones or WizKids options. (And of much higher quality, in my opinion.) It’s a great gift for the GM or painter on your list, and they get a cool game in addition to all of the plastic toys.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.


12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Deadpool vs the World

We’re halfway through my 12 Days of Holiday Gaming Suggestions for 2018, and I realized I haven’t done anything for the Naughty List. Put the kids to bed, because for Day 6 I’ll be working blue. And by “blue,” I mean “red”. And by “red,” I mean “dead.” As in “Deadpool”. We’re talking about Deadpool vs the World by USAopoly, okay?

Deadpool vs the World is a “mature” party game for three or more “adults”. Players will take turns being the Judge. The Judge draws a card from the WTF card pile, and places it face-up in view of all the players. Each WTF card depicts Deadpool in some situation typical only for the Merch with a Mouth. (Such as walking on crutches while carrying his own leg, trying to drink while being riddled with bullet-holes, getting chopped in half in mid-stride, or having his own mini-me burst through his chest Alien-style.)

After seeing the WTF card, each non-Judge player picks a Caption card from their hand of five. Each Caption card features an incomplete phrase that’s a potential bit of Deadpool dialogue. (“So this is what being [blank] is like”, “Say hello to my little [blank]”, and “Is [blank] a pre-existing condition” are all possible Captions.) Each player will use a wet erase marker to complete one Caption card, then place it face down by the WTF card. The Judge will read all of the Caption cards, and decide which one best compliments the WTF card. The player who submitted the Judge’s favorite Caption cards claims the WTF card as a point.

If the above sounds familiar, then congratulationson playing some of the most popular party games since Apples to Apples! But unlike other games derivative of Apples to Apples, Deadpool vs the World tweeks the formula beyond the novelty of playing the “largest, darkest phallus” card. The pairing of a randomly-chosen visual with the Mad Libs fill-in-blank mechanics means players must try to merge their creativity with their lack of shame. Adding in Deadpool to that formula instantly sets the tone, and provides the game with a perfect mascot.

Deadpool vs the World comes with six wet erase markers, 100 WTF cards, and 300 Caption cards. Dirty mind, twisted humor, and Brad Pitt cameo not included. If you like those other party games with “shock value”, but wish they didn’t wear out their welcome a few hours after the latest expansion gets cracked open, then get Deadpool vs the World.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.


12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Werewords

Welcome to day 5 of my 12 Days of Holiday Gaming Suggestions. Let’s briefly talk about a game I don’t like. I’m not a fan of Are You a Werewolf aka Mafia aka Ultimate Werewolf (among many, many other names),which some people might find unusual of me. After all, I really enjoy hidden traitor games, and games with asymmetrical player roles. The above games are best known for those features. A feature nearly unique to those games that I really like is how the traitors aren’t able to directly communicate with each other even though they know each other’s identities. But there’s one deal breaker for me: I don’t like games where players are eliminated without getting to do anything, and quick elimination of clueless players is critical for the Werewolf/Mafia/etc experience.

So imagine my surprise when I played a game that manages to capture a good chunk of the Werewolf experience without the player elimination. And I should mention that it’s a party game that’s easy to breakout at those family gatherings that include non-gamers. And it integrates an app for an experience that can’t be replicated without the physical components.Today’s game is Werewords, by Bezier Games, Inc.

Werewords is a party game for 4 to 10 players (or more with the Deluxe edition). I’m going to talk about the basic game, which breaks the players down into four roles:

1: The Mayor. The person playing the Mayor gets to choose a Magic Word from the game’s app, and has to get the Villagers to guess it before the time runs out. But there’s one complication; the Mayor can’t speak!

2: The Seer. The person playing the Seer gets to see the Magic Word, and can help the Villagers guess it before the time runs out. But the Seer must be careful to not be too obvious who they are, because if the Werewolves find them out the Villagers lose.

3: The Werewolf. The person (or people in larger games)playing the Werewolf gets to see the Magic Word. They can then try to sabotage the Villager’s attempts to guess it. But if the Werewolf is too direct in their deductive vandalization, the Villagers can suss them out at the end of the game for victory.

4: The Villagers. Everyone not assigned to the above three roles is a Villager. Villagers can either win by guessing the Magic Word, or the identity of one Werewolf.

The game begins by randomly assigning roles to all of the players. Once everyone knows what they are playing the Mayor (and only the Mayor) reveals their role, and starts the app. Everyone else puts their heads down while the Mayor selects a Magic World. Then the Mayor puts their head down,and the Seer gets to see the word. Then the Seer puts their head down, and the Werewolf gets to see the world. (In games with multiple werewolves, this is where they get to see who their teammates are.)

Now the guessing game begins. Players ask the Mayor yes-or-no questions in an attempt to figure out what the Magic Word is. Because the Mayor can’t speak, they give Yes or No tokens as answers. (They can also give a Maybe or So Close token when needed.) Villagers (and the Seer) are trying to guess the Magic Word before the game’s timer runs out, and the Werewolf is trying to stop them.

If the Villagers guess the Magic Word, the Werewolf must show themselves. They now have 15 seconds and one guess to figure out who the  Seer is. If the Werewolf identifies the Seer, the Villagers lose. Otherwise,there Werewolf has lost.

If either the game’s timer, or the Yes and No tokens run out, the players get one minute to try to figure out who the Werewolf is. (The Mayor is now allowed to speak.) After one minute, everyone points to who they think the Werewolf is. The person with the majority of the vote reveals their role. If they are a Werewolf, the Villagers win. If that person is anyone else,the Villagers have lost.

There’s one more complication that I didn’t mention above:The Mayor themselves could be the Werewolf! To find out how that works, as well as reading about all of the other optional roles, check the link to the game’s full rules below. (I’ll link to the deluxe version, because that’s what I’ve played.)

Werewords is an excellent game that does a great job bringing together people with different tastes in gaming. It’s a great compromise between the full Werewolf/et al experience without the player elimination. It’s easy to teach to fans of casual party games, and could be used to bring them into more complicated games. And the app integration makes it a truly unique experience, and makes it a potential combo gift for anyone getting a smart device over the holidays. If you’ve been at all intrigued by my suggestion, give the full rules a look over.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Squirrel or Die

There’s always a demand for games that are good for stocking-stuffers, White Elephant exchanges, or office parties. I’ve been making an effort to put at least one on my list each year, so for Day 4 of my 12 Days of Holiday Gift Exchange I present Squirrel or Die.

Squirrel or Die is a memory/press-your-luck game for two to four players. Players take the roll of Squirrels preparing for Winter. There are two distinct phases in each game, which I’ll discuss below. Hope you like your games with a touch of black humor, because the goal of the game is to seed the Yard with Food for you, and Death to your fellow fuzzy animals!

Cards in Squirrel or Die are either Food, Death, or Special. In the Autumn phase, players start each game with three secret cards in hand. The grid (aka the Yard) starts with one card face down, and three cards face up. On a player’s turn they take a card from the draw pile, and add it face up to the Yard. Then the same player swaps any face up card from the Yard with a card from their hand, which will go face down. Eventually all cards will be face down in the Yard, which signals the start of Winter.

When Winter comes (shush, I don’t watch the show) players will take turns drawing a card from the yard, publicly showing off their choice. Each Food card drawn contribute to that player’s victory while making the Yard more dangerous for everyone else. If a player collects three Death cards, they’ve been eliminated from the game. The winner is either the last player standing (most likely outcome), or the player who finds the most food once the last card is drawn from the Yard. Special cards have a variety of effects; such as forcing you to take another turn, or sending Death to another player.

Squirrel or Die is a great small-box game. It’s easy to teach, plays in about 10 minutes, and has a good replay value. Just be aware that the semi-bleak humor won’t be for everyone, though the theme could definitely be used in a classroom to teach students about winter survival in the animal world.

Squirrel or Die is by Fight in a Box, and distributed by Atlas Games.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse

Welcome to Day 3 of my 12 Days of Holiday Gaming Suggestions, and hopefully the start of me writing at a faster pace now! Night of the Living Dead turned 50 this year, so we’re gonna talk about zombies.Today’s game is Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse by Osprey Games.

Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse is a miniature game that manages to stand out in a gaming market over saturated by the undead by doing a few key things. Firstly, all of its rules are in a single book. It’s a slim book (by the standard of other minis games); barely passing a hundred pages.Nearly all of that space is devoted to the rules of the game. There’s no need write a bunch of fluff about a world overrun by the undead when so many movies,books, shows, and comics have already done that!

This isn’t to imply that there aren’t story elements to the game despite its relatively small book. On the contrary, Last Days knows that the most interesting zombie stories are about the human conflicts that the undead just make worse. Therefore, it’s completely designed continuous,campaign-style play. Zombies are governed like nearly-mindless obstacles rather than controlled by a single player. The human narrative, meanwhile, starts right when a player designs their group of survivors. Will their leader be selfless, or selfish? The choice affects what kind of followers can be recruited. Where does the group take refuge? The abandoned prison presents a strong start with fences and an infirmary, but it can’t be customized much in long-term play like the more initially-vulnerable farmhouse or mall can.

(And yes, leaders, followers, and bases all improve over the course of play. And zombies are always the same.)

Last Days actually uses the overwhelming number of other zombie games to its advantage by being completely miniature agnostic. In other words; “USE WHAT YOU WANT” is part of the rules. (This is a great feature of nearly all of Osprey’s miniature games.) If you know someone who already owns games like Zombicide, Last Night on Earth, or Zombies!!!!!, then Last Days will work with what they already own! (And if that person is you, mention the book to someone who needs a gift idea for you.)

Check back soon (hopefully tomorrow) for a non-miniatures gaming suggestion.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Fallout Wasteland Warfare

Day 2 of the 12 Days of Holiday Game Recommendations, and only [*checks notes*] four days after the first. Oof. (Don’t worry, I’ll be done well before Christmas.) Today I’m going to get an obvious game out of the way with Fallout Wasteland Warfare by MODIPHIUS.

(But first, let’s be obvious about my biases. Yes, I’m a big Fallout mark. Yes, I’ve been hyping this game most of the year. Yes, I clearly want the community around the game to keep growing. Proceed with all of that in mind, because I still think this is a great game!)

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare is a miniature game based around the Fallout video game series. But you will not need to be a Fallout fan to enjoy the game, nor do you need to be an experienced miniature gamer. I’ll be talking almost exclusively about the game’s starter box, which was designed to be as accessible as possible for the beginning miniature player (while still providing enough content for people ready for a more complicated experience).

Given that I’m talking about a miniature game, let’s start with the minis themselves. Everything in the starter box is fully assembled, and manufactured out of colored PVC plastic. (Humans and their dog in grey plastic; mutants and monsters in green.) Each of the 12 miniatures are also on their own decorative base, giving the each model a nice visual pop.

Having fully-assembled miniatures is a nice step for the beginning player, but the Fallout Starter Box doesn’t stop there. It also has an 8 page “Getting Acclimated” guide written specifically for someone who’s never played a miniature game before. The guide walks new players through the basic ideas of playing, and includes simple scenarios after each concept to help reinforce them.

The Rules of Play guide continues the teaching trend. Here rules and concept are introduced in greater detail with plenty of examples and more involved tutorial scenarios. Fallout is a game with a lot variables, and they are introduced a bit at a time to avoid overwhelming players.

“Enough of why it’s a great product for the beginning gamer, how does it play?” you may be wondering. At its core, Fallout Wasteland Warfare is “skirmish” miniature game rather than an “army” miniature game. Players typically will use 6 to 10 models per team, rather than dozens upon dozens of miniatures. Additionally, most games will be based on a scenario with a goal other than “beat up the other team”. A victory condition could be to hack terminals (or lock people out of them), search for the best loot, or keep invaders out of your settlement. The game also features a detailed “A.I.” system which can put any number of models under the control of dice. This allows for cooperative player, or scenarios where two opposing players have to avoid monsters while battling each other.

There’s lots more that I could get into (like the myriad of free content online, the resin minis, or the campaign play), but I won’t yet. Suffice to say that Fallout Wasteland Warfare Starter Box is a great miniature game for the absolute beginner, especially if they’re a fan of the Fallout video games. And if you’re not yet convinced, head over to Modiphius’ webstore and download the rules for free!

And for those miniature gamers who aren’t beginners, come back after my 12th entry for a detailed breakdown as to why Fallout Wasteland Warfare is a great choice for more experienced players, too!

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

A Klingon Christmas Carol Delivers Geeky Fun!

A Klingon Christmas Carol takes a holiday classic into decidedly geeky territory. Not withstanding some shortcomings in terms of costuming, EDGE of Orion Productions and director John Gleason Teske have delivered an interesting and entertaining view of the holiday season’s good spirits.

Predating the Dickens version of the tale by several hundred years, as we are told by a Vulcan Narrator (Elise Soeder), the play follows SQuja (Scrooge, played by Tony Bunnel) through the events of the annual, Klingon winter solstice celebration, tlhIngan ram nI’ bom (Klingon Long Night’s Song). A cowardly money lender, the ghost of his old partner, marlI’ (Marley, played by Kent Joseph) and three Spirits of Kahless lead SQuja through an exploration of his life and the discovery of his courage, passion, and honor.

Tony Bunnel as SQuja,

Tony Bunnel as SQuja,

Returning for his second year at the titular character, SQuja, Tony Bunnel delivers a transformation the role deserves. The character seems small at the beginning of the play, shoulders hunched, gestures small. A money lender who cheated during his ascension ceremony, SQuja stands empty of honor and all too full of spite, apathy, and jealousy. Bunnel, under the direction of Gleason Teske, slowly grows the character as the Ghosts of Kahless guide him through his life. By the last moments, SQuja stands larger, full of Klingon passion, without the cowardice the character displays at the beginning of the production. He has not yet claimed the full honor due to him, but ritual fights with his nephew, vreD (Justin Blankenship) and his guests, and a commitment to train along with tImHom (Liam Walsh) leaves the audience with a sense that SQuja will make a warrior, yet.

Justin Blankenship’s portrayal of vreD (Scrooge’s nephew Fred in the Dickens’ version),  delivered with exuberance and enthusiasm, provides a solid yardstick against which to measure SQuja’s progress. The effervescent vreD dominates the stage with his boisterous laughter and swagger, and never-ending confidence in his uncle.

The entire company of performers, each cast for “heart,” deliver solid performances, deftly negotiating around the Klingon language. Coach Dr. Jeremy Cowan spent extra time with the actors to ensure their understanding of this fictional language; pronunciation and syntax. It was not enough to merely recount the words phonetically. The cast honed their Klingon to speak with knowledge of words and often deliver meaning through gestures and reaction. For those who don’t speak conversational Klingon, the production also projects super-titles in English.

In this third year with EDGE of Orion, the costuming and makeup efforts disappoint. Compared to the Commedia Beauregard production from 2010 to 2014, outfits look amateurish, not quite the level of common con cosplay. I heard another member of the audience refer to the Klingon ridges worn by the actors as “Looking like a flesh toupee.”

It provides a stark contrast with the well designed, minimalist set. The sparsely appointed stage, and excellent if unobtrusive light design, draws the audience’s attention to the characters and the action.

Director John Gleason Teske stressed the cross-cultural appeal to the work when I had a chance to talk with him at the press preview. “Star Trek fans should come. Christmas Carol fans should come. People who want to see something different should come. Fans of staged combat should come. It’s an old story told in a new way.”

Language coach Dr. Cowan added, “It’s a show for the people that always get dragged to the nerdy stuff. Even they will have a good time.”

Having seen a preview of the show, I’m inclined to agree. By the end of the show, I was ready for some blood wine! (But I will pass on the gagh!)


A Klingon Christmas Carol runs November 29th-December 16th at the Edge Theater. Purchase tickets at edgeoforion.com/purchase-tickets/ for $22.

On December 15, Star Trek fan band Five Year Mission will visit The EDGEfor a pre-show concert. Learn more about the group at  http://fiveyearmission.net/.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Photography and Photography with Heart.

A Klingon Christmas Carol Opens Tonight!

A Klingon Christmas Carol opens tonight at EDGE Theater in Edgewater. Produced by EDGE of Orion and directed by John Gleason Teske, A Klingon Christmas Carol returns to the Edge Theater for its third year, continuing what’s become a Chicago tradition.

A Klingon Christmas Carol is the first play to be performed entirely in Klingon, a constructed language first appearing in Star Trek. It is the Charles Dickens classic tale of ghosts and redemption, adapted to reflect the Klingon values of courage and honor, and then translated into Klingon (performed with English supertitles).

Director John Gleason Teske talks with local bloggers.

Director John Gleason Teske stressed the cross-cultural appeal to the work when I had a chance to talk with him at the press preview, last night. “Star Trek fans should come. Christmas Carol fans should come. People who want to see something different should come. Fans of staged combat should come. It’s an old story told in a new way.”

Language coach Dr. Jeremy Cowan added, “It’s a show for the people that always get dragged to the nerdy stuff. Even they will have a good time.”

Having seen a preview of the show, I’m inclined to agree.

To celebrate opening week, EDGE Theater is offering a host of entertainment and informative sessions:

Thursday Night Nov 29th

Join the Klingon Pop Warrior for a special mini-concert before the show begins! Meet board and troupe members as we mingle over drinks in the beautiful EDGE Theater Lobby before the show! 7:15 doors open! Learn more about The Klingon Pop Warrior here: https://www.klingonpopwarrior.com/

Orion Couling will lead a class on Klingon Martial Arts.

Friday, November 30th

Watch the nationally renown Raks Geek take the stage in our pre-show entertainment. Raks Geek is legendary in blending nerd with belly dance and burlesque. You’ve seen them with their belly dancing Wookie, now catch an all-new Star Trek Inspired dance! 7:30 doors open! More about Raks Geek here: http://raksgeek.com/

Saturday, December 1st

Klingon Curse Warfare with Dr. Jeremy Cowan! To Klingons, cursing is an art form. To truly understand the Klingon culture, you must understand Klingon curses. Our Klingon Language Coach will teach you a few prime curses! Doors open at 7:15 pm

Sunday, December 2nd

The Bat’leth and Martial Arts. Join EDGE of Orion’s Executive Director and international stunt coordinator, Orion Couling, as we explore the martial components of the sacred Klingon Weapon. Learn its deadly secrets and revel in a live demonstration! Doors open at 2:15 pm

On December 15, Star Trek fan band Five Year Mission will visit The EDGEfor a pre-show concert. Learn more about the group at  http://fiveyearmission.net/.

A Klingon Christmas Carol runs November 29th-December 16th at the Edge Theater. Purchase tickets at edgeoforion.com/purchase-tickets/ for $22.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Nut So Fast

Welcome to Day 1 of the 12 Days of Holiday Game Recommendations, now think fast! My first suggestion this year is Nut So Fast, by Smirk&Dagger. (Published under their Smirk & Laughter product line.)

Nut So Fast is a reflex card game for 3-6 players. Each player begins the game with roughly the same amount of cards in a facedown pile. At the center of the table is a collection of cartoony nut tokens. On a player’s turn they draw the top two cards from their pile. If a total of four of the same nut is shown between that player’s two cards, everyone races to grab the corresponding token. The walnut and cashew tokens are distributed like musical chairs; a token for every player but one. Whoever fails to grab one of those tokens has to collect the cards from the player who revealed the set of four. (Points are bad in this game!) Meanwhile, there’s a single pistachio token, and the quick player who grabs that gets to choose the poor soul who gets stuck with the points.

(There’s also a single almond, but I won’t tell you how that works. You’ll need to play to find out for yourself.)

Complicating matters are the three “Nutty Pose” cards. At the start of each game, three poses are randomly assigned to 1, 2, or 3. (Poses vary from finger guns, self bunny ears, peace signs, and other silliness.) If a number card is relieved, forget the nuts and strike the correct pose! Whomever was slowest gets the points.

The goal of Nuts So Fast is to have the least points after three rounds of play. In between rounds, a new trio of Nutty Poses gets dealt out. Careful about those reflexes you just developed over the last round, because suddenly they’re wrong!

Nuts So Fast is a great combination of mental and physical reflexes, making it a game for groups who enjoy the likes of Pit, Slap Jack, Jungle Speed, or Set. You can download the rules at the Smirk & Laughter website, and get it from most Friendly Local Game Stores.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

Titans Forever! (Well, for at Least Two Seasons)

I was recently gifted a subscription to the new streaming service DC Universe. Like Marvel Unlimited, DC Universe offers access to digital content such as movies, TV shows, and comics. While the comic library is not quite as extensive as Marvel’s library, DC’s service includes their massive collection of animated shorts, older films, and complete series of Wonder Woman, Constantine, Lois & Clark, and Young Justice.

Nigthwing Tail

Some fashion questions are better unanswered.

Overall, I’m enjoying the service. I’ve been able to catch up on some series I’ve always wanted to read and have been reminded that the 90’s were just not a good time for comics. (I had completely blocked Nightwing’s ponytail from my mind. Now, I can never un-see.) Unlike Marvel Unlimited, DC Universe offers exclusive access to new television series. Promised shows include Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing. They released the pilot episode of their first effort, Titans, last week.

It’s easy to forget just how much Teen Titans pushed the limits of comics.

Titans jumps off the pages of the comic book of the same name. Former members of the Teen Titans, Robin, Wonder Girl, and Beast Boy, as well as some newcomers like Raven and Cyborg, team up to fight super baddies, all while navigating the angst of their early 20’s. Not only do they have to deal with the evil forces of Brother Blood, but they also must keep their day jobs.

Yes. DC Comics went there.

It’s easy to forget just how much Teen Titans pushed the limits of comics. The book depicted the clearly middle aged Deathstroke in a sexual relationship with a fifteen-year-old Terra. An image of Starfire and Nightwing naked and in bed together raised eyebrows. Think about it. The 80’s didn’t take kindly to un-married, extraterrestrial couplings. 

Titans uses titular characters from the comic series, Robin, Starfire, Raven, and Changeling (aka Beast Boy), and places them in Detroit, Michigan. Like the comic, it looks like it’s going to push some boundaries. I’m can’t say I was a big fan of hearing Robin utter, “fuck Batman,” in the trailer. Gritty for the sake of gritty doesn’t really excite me. Still, I was looking forward to watching the series pilot.

It didn’t suck, but….

The character’s oft stripperific costume works in context.

It’s an adjustment. Given how far the CW’s Arrow wandered from the original source material, you’d think I’d be over “interesting” takes on some of my favorite characters from comics. I survived and am enjoying the re-imaging of Black Canary, for example. Still, certain characterizations of Titans will take getting used to.

This is not the Starfire I’m used to, yet.

Visually, I think Anna Diop, the costuming and special effects crews nail the physical appearance of Starfire. She appears unworldly and they even made the character’s oft stripperific costume works in context. I also know that passions drive the warrior trained Koriand’r and New Teen Titans #1 shows her blasting away enemies. However, watching the rather bloodthirsty Titan’s version of the character snap someone’s neck then incinerate a baddie jarred me. My last exposure to Starfire came courtesy of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. The cute yet capable “fish out of water” from that story looks nothing like what I saw on the screen.

Teagan Croft portrays a character barely able to function, paralyzed with fear and trauma.

Teagan Croft as Raven

Teagan Croft as Raven.

Likewise, Titan’s vision of a young, frighten Raven shook me. In the comic, the semi-demonic Raven must control her emotions to suppress the evil within. Teagan Croft portrays a character barely able to function, paralyzed with fear and trauma. Here, the special effects crew won another victory. The evidence of Raven’s empathic powers emerging in reflections and dreams feels spot on. As in the New Teen Titans #1, it’s Raven who reaches out to Robin in his dreams with the goal to unite the team. Titans makes that all too common trope work and the character believable.

Brenton Thwaites as Robin.

Titans adds nuance to the character of Robin. Like Starfire’s costume, his “fuck Batman” line makes sense in context. Brenton Thwaites offers us a character in conflict. Dick Grayson struggles against becoming another Batman yet feels hinders by the relative ineffectiveness of his role as a city detective. He can arrest the bad guys as a police officer. He can’t always make sure they get put away. As Robin, he can at least ensure they face some kind of justice. Overall, I get the feeling this is a character due for some serious development. I would love to see a Nightwing emerge from this Robin.

I can’t speak much for Changeling. He only showed up for a moment at the end of the episode. I can’t say I’m a fan of his breaking and entering a big box store to steal a video game, but, once again, the special effect crew did a great job with a CGI, green tiger. I’m willing to watch what happens next.

It’s certainly more like Arrow then Supergirl.

It’s certainly more like Arrow then Supergirl. So far, Titans looks willing to show us a fresh collection of brooding, young superheroes on the small screen, characters we might not always recognize from their recent comic book depictions. The show also offers up some decent production values and top-notch special effects, and a talented cast. It’s already been renewed for a second season. I’ve got to give it at least one more episode, if only to see what they do with two of my favorite characters, Hawk and Dove.

You can find Titans at DC Universe.

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