Hack the planet!

Oh yes using the call to arms from the movie Hackers. Somehow I thought it would be an apt post title for today.

Today saw a visit to the FLGS The Rift to purchase the living card game Android:Netrunner with a data pack or two.

I ended up leaving The Rift with a base set and the following data packs. A second core set is also winging its way to me so that I can build decks that can use three of the core set cards instead of being limited to two.
The data pack 'What Lies Ahead' is on its way from elsewhere. When that arrives it will mean I will have all the data packs that make up the first cycle for Android:Netrunner the Genesis Cycle. While 'Up and Over' and 'All that remains' are from the third cycle Lunar.

So now I have some cards to organise, learn about building decks for Android:Netrunner, build some decks and test them out in games. I'm really looking forward to this.

Adding to my unintended collection of dice games (well who doesn't enjoy rolling dice?) Age of War arrived.

It's a game by the prolific game designer Reiner Knizia. I love his two player card game Lost Cities, which I play regularly using the iPhone app (which is a rather good implementation of the game, I think I have a 56% win rate, which I'm happy with). I also have his book of dice games. Oh oh just remembered that he did the micro game Shoot Out, that was included with the film Going Cardboard. Which is a fun little two player game that for me amazingly manages to capture the atmosphere of an old west gunfight. So I'm looking forward to playing this dice game.

 

Creation of the Hipster Part 3

So the three hats that I got in to put the finishing touch to the hipster minifig I'm creating have all arrived. The final one was today (see previous post).

So here is how the hipster figure looks with each of the hats on.

For me the brown cap is too large, doesn't work as well as I had thought it would. The beret as a cap works really well, but still on the fence over the trillbe. Which is your favourite?

 

Trapped in an invisible box

Another day another minifig! Today the new arrival was the mime character from season 2 of the minifig collections that Lego push out. I really do like the look of this minifig, especially the multiple heads with their expressions. Plus I bought the beret separately to use in the hipster project (my next post).

Today started off with an amazing start and a very generous gift of a Lego minfig of the Vitruvius character from The Lego Movie from a friend at work. This was given away with the movie on Bluray and dvd.

 

The Corporate Minifig Post

New minifig arrivals! Today a couple of astronauts from a space shuttle set arrived. While a minifig business man complete with accessories has also dropped through the letter box. The final figure should need no introduction if you have seen The Lego Movie that came out last year and got Oscar snubbed. For those that haven't seen the movie it's the big bad guy from the movie Lord Business.

I got Lord Business because I thought if you had to have one Lego minifig to symbolise “the man” or in the world of Android:Netrunner the corporations then it just had to be Lord Business. The other business minifigs naturally are there to represent his corporate minions.

Finally here is a picture of the vintage astronaut with his new space shuttle astronaut buddies.

 

Hey hey have you heard the news?

Thunderbirds are go!!!

Yes you have guessed it the Kickstarter for the cooperative board game designed by Matt Leacock based on the beloved children's TV classic (despite Holywoods attempt to ruin the memory with that aweful live action movie) Thunderbirds, has gone live today.

Be quick as the top tier will be locked once the game has reached £70,000. The top tier is awesome as it gets you the game, expansions and stretch goals PLUS your name in the credits!!! OH YES! I think it will hit this target easily, although I guess it won't raise as much as the Ghostbusters boardgame. It will be interesting to see what both of these franchises manage to raise via Kickstarter when they reach the end of their funding periods. And I'm sure when both have closed on Kickstarter I'll write some fluff piece comparing how the campaigns went and commenting on the totals raised. I may even try to make myself sound intellectual and know what I'm talking about (I know that will be amazingly hard).

click here to go back the game

Lego Minifig Stuff

Had some new arrivals today. First up straight from the U.S. some cowboy hats, a couple of flat caps, a couple of trilbes, and some six shooters.

The flat caps and the trilbe are for the hipster figure I'm creating. I have one more cap coming before I decide which is the one I like best for completing the figure. Once that arrives I'll write a third and final post on the hipster figure.
Next up I was able to source off eBay the parts I wanted from a particular Indiana Jones lego set that I need for another project which you will see the fruits of in May.

Remember my post about Android:Netrunner from the weekend? I used my Hacktivist figure for that post. Well I want to be able to depict the conflict between runner and corporation, so I've sourced some business minifigs to represent the corporation side of the Android:Netrunner. Can you guess which minifig is on its way that is the ultimate representation of a corporation?

Finally today also from eBay came a vintage Lego minifig astronaut. I think this was one of the first minifigs I played with as a kid/teenager.
Mum got me a series 13 minifig today, but I'd already got the Egyptian guard/warrior so it was kept for the parts. I don't mind doubles when it comes to minifigs as I do as I have here and use them to build up my spare parts to make other figures with.
I also got the latest copy of Blocks, a magazine about Lego. I particularly want to read the building a Star Wars arm article.

 

A Couple of Recorded Star Realms Games

I don't have Lego minfig pic yet for when playing Star Realms YET! Anyway I think by now it's clear on this blog exactly how I feel about this game. However if there is any doubt I LOVE IT.

And confession time I'm not exactly subtle about pushing the game at friends. I'm a total fanboy for this game. I'll bore you another day with a post about what it is exactly about the game I like. I'd imagine the post will be along the lines of yesterday's that I wrote on Android:Netrunner.

So I managed to wear down a good friend of mine in the US of A, Freddy. Freddy since buying the app has been playing Star Realms with me, and doing rather well at it. Anyway Freddy recorded a couple of our games from today and put the video up on YouTube.

I've embedded the video below, give it a watch Freddy does a really great job on the commentary.

It's funny really because last night I was looking at using twitch on my Mac to record a game or two of Star Realms. The great thing is buy the game once (and it's not that expensive) and you get it across all platforms. So PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

It's great to see a friend love a game so much, and I can't wait to see what Freddy thinks of the promo cards and the expansions. I think they will blow him away with how awesome one or two of them are.

 

Early Netrunner Thoughts

As I mentioned in an earlier post in the week I tried Android:Netrunner and I liked it! (Where is the song about that Katy Perry?) For those that can remember back to the start of the year you will remember one of my gaming aims for 2015 was to try and learn Android:Netrunner. This week means I've met this one, and so early in the year. I'm glad it has ended up this way because it means I have the rest of the year to look forward to playing it. I think if this had been left to the end of the year I'd of regretted leaving it so late.

I think I've played four games now, mostly as a runner and one as a corporation. My Amazon basket is all lined up ready for payday but I will come back to that later in the post. In the meantime I've been doing a little “light” reading. My friends daughters fianc√© Todd plays Android:Netrunner a lot, and pointed me in the direction of an article on Reddit that covers what to buy expansion wise after getting the base starter set. I've found a couple of articles on deck building. So I've printed these off to read along with the official rule book and FAQ.
Now I've played both runner and corporation I have to say that I do enjoy playing the runner. I didn't get on with the corporation however that is mainly I think I didn't really understand how to play it properly. But I will and I'm sure my enjoyment of playing corporation will improve.
But what is it about playing the runner that I enjoy?
I've been a fan of cyberpunk for decades now, I came across it while at polytechnic. Like many my first introduction to cyberpunk was through the writings of William Gibson. I burned through his books like Burning Chrome, Neuromancer etc. I came across the Shadowrun series of books, that combined cyberpunk with fantasy. I loved those books. Of course in these books the hacker, the anti corporate types are the heroes or anti-heroes of the story. They were cool and I loved it. Deep down wanting to be like them. I had fallen for the romantic idea of the hacker against the big corporate entity.
But even earlier than that during the home computing boom in the 80s Hollywood released the film War Games. A teenage hacker manages to hack the pentagon, come close to starting world war three, save the day and get the girl! A teenage geeks dream. In the nineties hacking got the Hollywood treatment again in the movie Hackers. Once again made to look sexy and cool, and the hacker and his friends save the day, and he gets the girl (a teenage Angelina Jolie who played an independent elite hacker in the movie).
But Hollywood was not only depicting hackers on TV they were also depicting a cyber world inside of the computer, whether it was with people being physical drawn into a virtual world in Tron or once the term had been defined virtual reality with The Lawnmower Man (this was long before I had heard of or read Flowers for Algernon). This virtual world was another element of the cyberpunk equation.
In the real world during this time viruses where becoming big news and despite the antiquated methods compared to today's everything connected to the net world, were spreading like wildfire. During the late eighties a book caused an uproar when it was printed called The Little Blackbook of Viruses. It wasn't available in the UK, but this book was a how to write viruses book. Which I managed to get a copy of, and is a highlight of my library of computing books. I wanted the book a) because of its exclusivity b) I wanted to understand what I was up against in these new programs that were out to attack my computer and wipe my data.
Hollywood was either on TV or in the movies still depicting hackers as the anti social loner. That image suited me. It was me! In the noughties the film Swordfish came out with Hugh Jackman playing a hacker. Thenfilm is only memorial because of two things, the rather interesting interview technique Hugh's character had to go through and Halle Berry topless in one scene. Otherwise it was a watchable pass the time movie. But it showed a more mature hacker, more in line with my age at the time. Hollywood hackers were growing up with me. However in Swordfish this wasn't the hacker against the big corporate entity this was hacking for criminal ends.
From there Hollywood progressed to depicting hackers as criminals or cyber terrorists in films such as Die Hard 4. With the odd “good” hacker that the action hero could call on to help defeat the evil criminal hacker.
This isn't meant to be an authoritive history of hacking and cyber punk in Hollywood. I've just picked the odd highlight that I remember.
In recent years we have seen the emergence of Anonymous and their attacks on the corporate world. The face of Anonymous is usually represented by the mask of V from the graphic novel/movie V for Vendetta, which is a mask of Guy Fawkes. Their attacks seemed to show some sort of social justice for the downtrodden, victims of corporations and a corrupt political system. This appealed to me and the cyberpunk world I had grown up enjoying. Of course the reality of the group after watching documentaries and reading a book on them showed a darker side that I find repulsive.
However the distopian corporate run world depicted by cyberpunk authors somehow feels like it is is nearly here. Corporations lobby and buy politicians to get laws passed to protect their interests, and to make them unaccountable (look into the TTIP if you don't believe me, or the copyright laws that get passed, how many bankers have been prosecuted for the 2008 collapses, or the other banking scandals that have happened since?), politicians pass laws to allow greater survalience, while not prosecuting those that are entrusted with protecting us when they break the law.
Into this bleak world view and and romantic view of hackers of mine the world of corporations combating against runners in the cyberpunk world of Android:Netrunner really does appeal to me. It's this romanticism that draws me to the runners. I am that hacker fighting against the evil corporations, standing up for the little guy with no voice, bringing down the corrupt system.
I will need to learn to play as the evil corrupt corporation so that I can better learn their tactics. But when I do my heart will be with the runner, secretly cheering them on to win.
Earlier in this post I said my Amazon basket is prepped for payday with Android:Netrunner stuff to get me started on the road to playing and deck building. So what is sitting in the basket?
There are two copies of the base starter set. This will give me the ability to have three copies of the cards. Having one copy does not do this!
The starter set is accompanied with the following expansions:
  • Future Proof
  • True Colours (I refuse to use the American spelling – which is WRONG)
  • What Lies AHead
  • Cyber Exodus

The above is the recommendation the Reddit beginners buyer guide. But we all know over the coming months I will be adding further expansions to the game and building up my card pool. It's just in my DNA that I've got to do it! Sometimes hate this character flaw of mine.

Well I hope you've enjoyed this post. It's not a great example of it, but it's along the lines of writing about games I like to read. I will improve (hopefully) as I write more along these lines. And hopefully you will stay for the journey and find it interesting. Until the next post happy gaming.
 

 

Neeeew Arrivals End of Feb

Wish Amazon had got this in stock in time for the Pandemic Party, but hey a month late is better than never. I'm looking forward to playing Pandemic with this expansion, which for the friends I play with is essential as it adds a fifth player to the game, so all five of us can play it.

The holy grail arrives

Finally! Finally! The Crisis expansion is in my hands!!!! After what seems like an age since the Crisis expansion for Star Realms was released (apparently it was released or due to have been released just before Christmas). I'm looking forward to adding the cards from these four expansion packs that make up the Crisis expansion to the Star Realms deck. I warned the student I played against this week that next time we play the game will have new elements. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Heroes and Events cards effect the game.
In the meantime in the app version of the game my friend in the US of A Freddy is kicking my butt in the game. I can try and convince myself that the cards were against me. But the truth is Freddy is a more skilful player than me. In one game I know the exact point I lost, and it's was me not having faith in my cards. I could of taken Freddy down to one authority by scrapping a couple of cards but didn't, thinking I could finish Freddy off next go. But that wasn't the case, Freddy rallied and defeated me two rounds later.
The screenshot below shows me drawing even with another friend in games with my biggest winning margin. Now why can't I play like this against Freddy? Although what helped me was a tactical error by my opponent that left The Hive base in play allowing me to get faction combos working with all my blob faction cards. In fact the exact same tactical error the student I played did earlier in the week.
I love playing Star Realms either using the app or the cards. But for me the cards still feel different when playing. It will feel even more different with the expansions in until the expansions get added to the app. Which they will be at some point this year.
Finally as the photo shows the green ten sided dice also arrived. These as stated in a previous post this week will be used to track authority within the card version of the game.

 

Creation of the hipster part 2

As expected the minifigs.me bits arrived today. Which means the alternate head arrived. This one has more “hipster” like glasses on it, they are meant to be wire frames! But also a couple of beanies were also in the order, along with a tile made to look like an iPad (this will be added to my minifig of me as a lecturer). There is also a cowboy/trilby hat and two more tiles to add to the hipster in the form of a record sleeve and a smartphone.

For me a lot of the time the accessories can make or break a minifig like this.

Now I know these two accessories along with the star bricks coffee really do add to this minifig being a hipster.

When designing a minifig I really should sketch out, however badly a plan for the figure. At the moment the design lives in my head. I then spend ages trawling the sites looking for the bits that look right for what I'm trying to create. Luckily so far I have found the bits I want on the sites. Which means for the moment I haven't had to create my own custom parts, nor have I had to create custom decals. At some point down the road I can see myself getting a 3D printer!

So while this model is getting close to being finished, I'm just awaiting the flat cap from the U.S. now as the finishing touch for this figure. I do prefer the new head for this figure, but what do you think? Which head do you prefer?