surrealcouchuniverse

"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." – Dean Martin


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Origin Teams Announced

So the new State of Origin teams have been announced. Both sides have seen a changing of the guard, although for different reasons.

Queensland have changed a few due to retirements. There is also a bit of a flow on from injuries sustained last year, with some veterans unable to keep their spots over their replacements. To be fair, there was very little surprises. I am glad they didn’t go for Daly Chery Evans, as he has had multiple chances and never stood up in the origin arena.

New South Wales is a bit more interesting. They have faced the reality that they are 12/13, and have finally left some losing campaigners out. Say what you will about their form, but the stench on defeat definitely followed a Gallen-led Blues outfit. With some new debutants, maybe they can excise the past nightmare.

So a couple of weeks until game one. I have little doubt it will be here in no time. The excitement, however, isn’t quite there yet for me.

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Why It’s on My Shelf: Cthulhu Wars

So to continue the why I love series about board games that are on my shelf, I will delve into Cthulhu Wars and why I always enjoy bringing it out.

The best and biggest thing is definitely the aesthetic and table presence. Although it doesn’t help the price tag or shelf space requirements, this game definitely pops on the table. Big models are stomping around the world and laying into each other.

And laying into each other is what they do. This is a dudes on a map game where it can escalate quickly. No-one is ever too far away as they hope to sneak in some hurt to you while they earn some points and abilities. You have to try to protect everything while also being aggressive and building your economy.

It isn’t perfect. It is a Dice based combat system where, although combat isn’t very deadly (forcing retreats more than deaths), if you get a bad roll or given your opponent the opportunity to cripple you with a good roll, it can be difficult to recover. In fact, with some faction goals, you may even become a target. The game is relatively quick so your recovery chances may be slim.

Also the Onslaught 1 stuff is probably best. There is allot of variety with neutral monsters and maps you can use to vary the gameplay. However, some of the later expansions introduce some pretty bad balancing issues that are slowly being worked on (Tcho Tcho comes to mind).

So although not a horror game, Cthulhu Wars plays quickly and has a good theme. I really love the feel of the game and the assymetry. It does have its flaws, but it is far more fun than it has any right to be. And that is why I love Cthulhu Wars.


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Hitting The Table: 19/5

So what board games am I hoping hit the table from my collection this weekend. In no particular order, they are:

City of Kings- This is like Legends of Andor but more open-world. I find myself enjoying it, and it has some neat systems. As I work out the system more and more I am also getting more accomplished. Still, I wish there was a little less randomness in it.

Barbarians The Invasion: A cool rondel-like mechanic giving card play mixed with track progression and some area control, I am hoping to get a first play in this weekend to see if it hold up to the promise.

Outlive: I just want to play this worker displacement game. Who would have thought the best Fallout game wouldn’t be Fallout, but a game about keeping your shelter alive.

Mythos Tales: I want to play a scenario in this system to see how it goes. I keep zoning on the rulebook for some reason, though.

Seasons: I want to make a new engine. It will be even more broken and wild than my last engine. Then I will be making it rain points.


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The Dark Knight: Getting Batman Right

Batman has become a bit of a joke recently. Just look at Justice League or BvS, where Batman can apparently stand toe-to-toe with people because of preparation. For me, the best Batman movie has been The Dark Knight. The following is some quick thoughts on why that is (outside of the great performances, action scenes, etc.).

Bruce Wayne the Detective: Batman Begins or Dark Knight Rises never bothered to show Bruce Wayne doing detective stuff. Batman is the world’s greatest detective. So showing him come up with ways to extract a Chinese citizen or getting fingerprints from a shell casing is great. We got to see him doing detective stuff and having ideas about how to get things done instead of a stupid placing a spear in a random building.

Batman the Human: On the other side, we have Batman. He isn’t a perfect person and makes mistakes. He gets beaten up and wounded but still gets the job done. And this isn’t where he is seconds away from death. For example, he gets bitten by dogs. This isn’t a life-threatening thing, but makes him not an all invincible machine.

Joker the Underestimated: Falling into the top two, The Joker is constantly under-estimated. Everyone’s focus is on the mob, including believing The Joker is a dog of the mob. By the time people realise he is doing his own thing, he has caused so much damage.

Everyone is Human: Everyone is human and makes mistakes. This is something the Joker constantly takes advantage off. However, you never feel like these are just for the plot (mostly). You can feel where they are coming from, how they have been manipulated, and why their decisions are justified.

Cliffhanger Ending With Closure: I know they made Dark Knight Rises, an overblown snore-fest. But this had an ending setting up consequences but still closing off the main story. You didn’t feel cheated but started theorising about what happens next.


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NRL Ladder Predictor: Theory

So my theory on the ladder is that the for-against is a better predictor than the ladder position currently. There is currently 10 rounds that have gone by. It is very easy to move up and down the ladder currently with a few wins in a row.

Up until this round, there was actually a pretty big difference. Now, with the results of this round, the ladder and for-against seem to have aligned a bit more with who is in the eight and who isn’t. It also has made the order feels a bit more wrong.-

The current ladder on games won is:

Dragons, Panthers, Warriors, Storm, Rabbitohs, Roosters, West Tigers, Sharks in the 8, then Broncos, Knights, Raiders, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Titans, and Eels.

However, if going by for-against, it rearranges to:

Dragons, Storm, Rabbitohs, Roosters, West Tigers, Warriors, Raiders in the 8, then Sharks, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Broncos, Cowboys, Eels, Knights, Titans.

For comparisons, after round 7, the ladder was:

Dragons, Warriors, Panthers, West Tigers, Storm, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Knights, in the 8, then Sharks, Broncos, Titans, Raiders, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Cowboys and Eels.

And the for-against ladder was:

Dragons, Storm, Warriors, Panthers, Rabbitohs, West Tigers, Roosters, and Raiders in the 8, then Sharks, Sea Eagles, Broncos, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Knights, Titans then Eels.

Oh well, we will see how it all goes.


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WWE: Where Has The Storytelling Gone

The WWE main roster (Raw, Smackdown, etc.) have come off something that has been lauded as a pretty poor pay-per-view in Backlash. This has continued off the back of the Greatest Royal Rumble, a pretty underwhelming Wrestlemania and, in general, a very mediocre recent year in WWE.

Most the time, the problem is seen as people need heel turns. Or face turns to refresh their characters. The most popular of these is Roman Reigns, the forever rejected face of the company. Or John Cena before him.

For me, the problem isn’t about heel/face turns. It doesn’t matter how many turns people do. For example, Sami Zayn had a great heel turn, and then proceeded to get jobbed out. The problem is that no-one has any compelling storylines. I feel like the people behind the scenes should be replaced with people that actually know something about long-form story telling.

As an example, lets look at Roman Reigns. Up to Wrestlemania, the story was that Brock Lesnar had preferential treatment. However, after losing at Wrestlemania clean, he was given an unearned rematch. Here, the story is now he won clean but the referees got it wrong. Then, he steamrolls Samoa Joe, despite Joe doing a prematch assault, and despite there being no reason for the match. There is no story here. There is no progression or sense of being on a journey. In fact, the unearned rematch goes against the actual storyline WWE was telling. Roman didn’t have to earn anything or connect with anyone. A heel turn isn’t going to do anything about that.

WWE need to re-evaluate how they are writing stuff to actually have long term plans. NXT seems to be able to do this (most the time), but the main roster seems to have no sort of plan for what is happening. They treat the audience like idiots and then expect us to just cheer blindly. If you don’t tell a good story, you aren’t going to get the audience invested. The story doesn’t have to be complicated (as the Attitude Era showed), but at least give us coherent reasons for things.


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Some Quick Thoughts on Some Recent Board Games

So just thought I would share some quick thoughts on some recent games I have played.

Great Western Trail was an interesting game. A mixture of route building, deck building and engine building, I thought it was okay. It is really held back in how they balanced the hand mechanic and opponents buildings, which may be one of the worst mechanics I have come across in an otherwise good game.

Master of Orion The Board Game is also a really good game. You are balancing the resources, card plays and actions. I really enjoyed it, although attacking mechanic feels a bit too constricting in direct interaction. A system like Vikings Gone Wild May have worked better. A really good game.

Kemet is a game like Scythe. But where Scythe reward VP for economy, this is pure control and fighting. Everything is so close it is a knife fight in a phone booth. And tough choices with future battles vs current make it stand out.

So there are some recent games and my quick thoughts on them.