Category Archives: Crossposted

Ogre: Objective 218

Ogre218I picked up Ogre: Objective 218 at GenCon Indy without having played it, or having seen it played. All I got was the sales pitch from a friend of mine who worked at their booth, and his pitch amounted to “fast-playing card game for two players. Build a supply line to the enemy base and capture it.”

Today I sat down with my 13yo son and played it. He had already consumed the instruction manual, and he taught me to play it in a single round, which lasted about ten minutes.  Over the next half hour we played two more rounds, and at the end of the game session he’d beaten me two to one. It would have been two to zero, but I insisted upon a final game, which I think he may have thrown, because he got both his Ogres out early (read: “as close to simultaneously as the rules allow”) but didn’t press his advantage with cruise missiles.

If you want a tutorial, Steve Jackson and friends have provided one!

I didn’t think Steve Jackson Games could deliver something satisfying that played faster than Zombie Dice¹, but with the help of It’s Your Move Games² they totally did. Ogre: Objective 218 is fun for casual players, and is also good for folks who count cards and adapt their tactics in accordance with shifting statistical models.

It lists at $14.95, and is probably available at any store that carries Munchkin. It’s also available at Amazon, for folks like me who will probably stop leaving their homes once drone delivery of everything is a reality³.


¹rp_greendieMy Zombie Dice review is up at Steve Jackson’s site. It glows like the eyes of an irradiated feral ghoul. 


²Ogre: Objective 218‘s game mechanics are based on the game Battle for Hill 218, copyright © 2007 by It’s Your Move Games, Inc. Used under license.

³It’s already begun. I move around so little that my FitBit stopped telling me about goals, and simply withered and died, like an unwatered philodendron.

Suicide Squad

SuicideSquadI kind of really liked Suicide Squad. I’ve seen many of the negative reviews, and I can see what people are complaining about, but their reasons for disliking the film weren’t reasons for me to complain. For me, the film’s weaknesses were kind of ordinary, like a grass allergy, rather than epic, like Zod’s allergy to kryptonite¹.

It’s a dark film, which seems pretty appropriate given the tragic (and trigger-level disturbing) origin stories of characters like Harley Quinn and Diablo. While the audience is left with little room to question whether or not the mission is a righteous one, we’re given plenty of space to wind up as we cast aspersions at the folks making the decisions.
EnchantressAnd I’m fine with that. The real world is full of damaged people, the walking wounded outnumbering the blissfully unscathed by a large margin. In Suicide Squad we are given archetypes who show us our damaged selves, and who reach past at least some of their pain to do what little good remains within their reach. And in case that’s a little too deep an analysis, the film is also pretty cool to watch.

My biggest complaint is that the trailers for Suicide Squad pitched me a cross between Leverage and Guardians of the Galaxy. The film falls short of that by quite a bit. I liked the film, but it’s not really the one they advertised.  

There’s a nice teaser halfway through the credits. And when I say “nice,” it has some of the most memorable dialog of the entire film.

¹I tweeted most of that paragraph before putting it in the blog.


Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition

I watched Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ultimate Edition two weeks ago, and must now make a confession: I rather liked it.

batman-v-superman-ultimate-edition-blu-ray-coverFor those keeping score at home, this runs counter to my reaction to the theatrical release. The Blu-Ray felt like a completely different movie. Instead of being a gritty eyesore smeared brownly by disappointing portrayals of beloved characters, it was a compelling vision inviting me to distrust the shining, iconic gods of the DC Comics mythos, and then to hold out hope that these paragons of power might earn my trust again in future films.

Not everyone will have the reaction I did, and the stronger people feel about their Bats and Supes, the less likely it will be for them to join me over here. I tried to explain my thoughts to Jim Zub at GenCon, but the conversation did not go well. He punished me by forcing me to riff on “Deadpool” rhymes¹ all weekend.

I believe that the biggest reason the Ultimate Edition works is that key scenes are just a few seconds longer, allowing them to play all the way to their emotional payoff. Consider: the plot of a film can be communicated, start to finish, with trailer-sized snippets. The result will have zero heart because none of the characters will be on-screen long enough to earn the right to resonate with the viewer. As the snippets are lengthened enough to become scenes, and as the scenes are further fleshed out and allowed to become complete, the skeletal plot of the film becomes a story, and the story grows in power until it crosses some threshold and actually works.

In the theatrical release there is a scene where Clark steps, fully-dressed, into the bathtub with Lois. In the Ultimate edition he undresses, and Lois responds to this, to him, with passion. It’s not a full-on “naked-time” scene, but it succeeds where the theatrical release failed: it convinces me not just that they are in love, but that their love is deep, abiding, and above all important.

The Ultimate Edition also adds lots of completely new scenes, and I think the folks laying it out may have punched the colors up just a bit from the sepia-shifted pallor I suffered through in the theater. For all their work on the principal film, my favorite part of the Blu-Ray was the featurette on the history of Wonder Woman. I watched that and for the first time felt just how important a character she is, and how critical it is to our culture that her next big-screen portrayal be done well.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ultimate Edition accomplished what I did not think was possible: it got me excited about what’s coming from the DC Comics movies in the next couple of years.

¹ JIM: “He’s an assassin, and he loves his oatmeal”
ME: “Wait, what?”
JIM: “Deadgruel.”


GenCon Indy, Booth #1343

Sandra and I will join Jim Zub and the Hypernode Corps of Conventioneers at GenCon Indy this week. You can find all of us at Booth #1343, an endcap installation featuring two hundred square feet of pure¹ magic.

¹Note: Due to the relative scarcity of magic, current FTC regulations state that any product or service comprised of at least 15% magic may be advertised as “pure.”

Magic², you say? Absolutely! I have so much work on my plate that I’ll be spending much of my booth time penciling and inking comics. I’ll happily set that aside to do sketches in your books, so if you’re attending GenCon this year, please stop by!

Here’s my schedule:


  • 10:00am, Causus: Writing What you Don’t Know
  • 11:30am-6:00pm*: Booth 1343


  • 10:00am-5:00pm*: Booth 1343
  • 6:00pm, Chamber: Writing Excuses Podcast Recording


  • 10:00am-3:30pm*: Booth 1343
  • 4:00pm, Capitol 1: Writers and Mental Health
  • 6:00pm, Chamber: Comedy Gold (my solo presentation)


  • 10:00am-4:00pm*: Booth 1343

If you’re trying to decide which of my panels to attend, I suggest “Comedy Gold.” That’s my solo presentation for writers who want to learn to be funnier. It’s all about refining the joke, and the presentation itself will probably be pretty entertaining whether or not you write.

The Writing Excuses³ session is also going to be quite cool. Dan Wells and I (the only two WX cast members at GenCon this year) will have several different guests on during the two-hour block, and our interviews with them will range across several topics. What will it be about? We don’t actually know yet.


²Not “Magic: The Gathering.” I don’t play. Sorry.
*I do take breaks from time to time. Stop by during that block, and if I’ve gone for a walk, the folks there will let you know when I’ll be back.
³If you’re not yet familiar with Writing Excuses, it’s a podcast for Writers which we’ve been doing for just over eight years now.