Review of Some Super Hero Fiction

Super Hero Fiction
With the rise of super heroes in pop culture, movies doing billions of dollars and the like, it is no surprise that super hero fiction has also been taking off. Its still a small nitch field of fiction, but growing every day it seems.

 

I have been reading a lot of this sort of fiction over the last year, almost all of it being self-published work for sale on Amazon in e-book format, but some are also in full print. The majority of it is geared toward young readers, for obvious reasons, but even so they take on some adult themes at times and are filled with action.

 

Here is a short list of what I have read so far and my thoughts on each series. I will not get into too much detail as I don’t want to give any plots away and create spoilers, but I will try to give an honest assessment of the stories and the writing.

 

Wearing the Cape by Marion C. Harmon

 

This series is composed of seven books so far, one of which are a sort of side story featuring one of the characters from the main series. The main character is a young female hero named Hope, while her super hero name is Astra. She gains super powers in the first book and is invited to join the super hero team of the Sentinels, which are based in Chicago. She has several adventures throughout the series, grows in power and experience and even falls in love (I sort of hate the insta-love part of the first book, but its YA so you almost have to expect it.)

 

There is heartbreak, danger and some fun as we watch the young heroine grow into her place in the super group.

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As the series grows Astra travels about the world, does some amazing things and battles super villains, giant lizard monsters and Japanese gods.

 

Over all this was a great series and I have enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of it as the author produces them. Currently he is working on an RPG based on the super hero world he has created, so that’s kind of cool.

 

Things I did not like about this series. Well this seems to be a problem with almost all of these types of books, the problem with a climax. We are taken on a journey thought the book, building to the big boss fight at the end and then when it’s over, that’s sort of it, all done. The ending is often abrupt and too soon after the big brawl.

 

While other characters are present in the book, most are sort of shallow and not well developed beyond supporting Astra, all save her best super hero friend, a vampire named Artimis. (Who has a solo book of her own that deals with the supernatural elements of the work. I did not like this one as much; it just didn’t fell like the other books in the series, although it was well writing.) This does change a bit with later books in the series, as we get to know a few of the support characters, but even then they are shallow at best.

 

All in all I would recommend this series for anyone looking to jump into the genre, they all are well written, and easy to ready.

 

Just Cause by Ian Thomas Healy

This is a large series, having 13 books. The series follows a young super heroine named Mustang Sally. She is real fast, the fastest person alive it seems. Sally is a third generation super hero, her grandmother and mother both having super speed as well, but neither as fast as Sally has become.

 

We watch as Sally graduates from the super hero academy, and joins a super hero group called Just Cause, the premier super group in the world. There she learns the ropes of being a professional superhero, finds romance and encounters her ultimate foe, the man that killed her father and who will try to kill her several times.

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The series continues with Sally gaining more experience and becoming a leader in the super hero community. She is a great character to read, the books are fun and the action is well writing and easy to follow. Unlike most of the other books, the secondary characters take up a lot of the action as well, and are developed over time.

 

The series takes a few right turns here and there, focusing on other places and characters in the world, where Sally takes a back seat. One focuses on some comedy. (The only one on the series I did not like, as I generally don’t like comedy fiction) One takes place in the super prison and a jailbreak, and the last one showcases some young heroes still in middle school. (I did not think I would like that one but it turned out to be fun)

 

Three of the books are short stories that fill in the backstory of the world, which while not needed, are a good read anyways.

 

Healy seems to put out two of these every year so you can keep the action going with little delay between books.

 

Of all the series, I like these the best.

 

Velveteen by Seaman McGuire

This is a large series and comedy based, so I did not get too far into the first book before I stopped. Just not my bag of tea. It is well written and has an odd ball since of fun. If you are into weird stuff then this is a good choice for you.

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Good Intensions by Michael Cider

This is a single book, which focuses on a super villain that does not want to be a super villain. He sort of gets extorted into the job. I liked the book over all with the action being fun and seeing a large villain organization for the inside was cool, but the main character’s reason for becoming a super villain sort of falls short. I just did not buy it and thought it was forced and not believable. His motivation is just off. Once he does the deed though, he finds he is roped into more and more bad things which he is forced to do, and while he tires hard to avoid killing anyone, it becomes more difficult all the time.

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All in all I like the book, it is well written and fun, if a little off on the character’s main reason for starting up as a super villain.

 

Strikeforce by Colleen Vanderlinder

Ok so not all super hero series are as good as other. This one left me cold and by the end of the third and final book I was done with it and the main character.

 

I did not have a problem with the writing over all, it is well done and the action was well developed. What I ended up not liking about the series is the main character is the best at everything. She is the strongest person, the fastest, and it seems the smartest as all the main problems solved are her ideas. It’s just like all the other heroes in the book are there to seem dumb so she can come up with all the good solutions to the problem. They even wait around for her to do it, when a bad villain shows up, they all hang back and wait until she shows up to capture them. It almost gets to be a comedy at times as she does everything and all the other super heroes just sort of watch.

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While well written I would not recommend this series, not unless you have read all the good ones first and just need a super hero fix to get by.

 

Vandguard by Percival Constantine

This is a six book series that will continue I am sure. The series deals with a group of young heroes led by an unpowered soldier that wears a super exo-suit. The series watches as they grow into a super team, deal with bad super terrorists, mad scientists, aliens invasions and time travel. All in all it’s a good series, the characters are well developed over time and the action is fun.

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There are a lot of super people in the book, but it seems only the heroes in the super group are the heroes in the whole world, no one else seems to be around. That and a few other miss steps drop the over all effect of the series, but over all it was a good read.

 

I did not find myself as invested in this series and these characters as much as I was with Just Cause or Wearing the Cape, but overall the Vandguard series is a good read.

 

The Indestrutbles by Mathew Phillion

A series of five books and two short stories, this is a great series about young heroes. We watch as an older hero takes in several young super people and trains them to be a force of good. Over the course of the series we get to know all of the characters well, watch as they grow in power, experience and depth.

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The series takes us through battles with super organizations of terrorists, alien invasions, time travel, magical adventures and all sorts of fun thing. All of the characters are well writing and the action fun and fast as the stories seem to just cook along at the right pace.

 

I liked this series a lot, and am looking forward to a lot more in the future.

 

In conclusion, all of these series can be found on Amazon and available on Kindle. As they are cheep, you can get into a series for only a few bucks.

 

I am looking forward to more books in several of these series and even new series to pop up. If you like super heroes and comic books, then these are some great additional to your fandom.

 

Zombicide

 

So everyone already should know that I love zombies.  Zombie comics, zombie movies, zombie games—all zombies, all the time.  One of the first games I ever created was a zombie game.  So, I love zombies.

 

Thus, when Zombicide came along, I was hooked.  Yep, a toy box game, with zombies—you have me already.  Forking out the cash, I brought the game home, read the fairly easy-to-learn rules, and set it up for a game with me, the wife, and my daughter (a young zombie fan herself).  An hour later, we all groaned as the zombies crushed us.

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Zombicide is a cooperative game where players try to survive the zombie doomsday and live another day.  The game is scenario-based, with each scenario offering different layouts of the game boards and different victory conditions. The main goal of each game, though, is to survive, collect needed supplies or objectives, and then (usually) flee the game board.  All the while, the zombies just keep coming, appearing in newly opened buildings and walking onto the game board through entry points set all over the place.  As the game progresses, more zombies arrive until the whole place is a giant zombie convention and the players are hard-pressed to do much other than be zombie snacks.

 

Game play is easy to learn, fast, and full of choices.  Players need to cooperate together if they want to beat the game, and some may have to die to allow the group to win.

 

And there we have the first problem with the game.  If you are playing a game with a lot of players (and you will need a lot of players if you want any chance of winning) and someone has to have their character killed off to allow other players to survive, the sacrificed player is out of the game.  That’s no fun. The game is designed for this choice to be made far too often. So what if the group wins the game if to do so some players have to bail out after a few turns in so the rest of the people around the table can continue to have fun? In a cooperative game, everyone needs to have fun and have things to do; but one or more players sometimes ends up camping out in one location to ensure that a set action is completed or, in the case of Zombicide, has to sacrifice themselves to allow others to continue to play.  Either way the fun is limited for a select few while others get to play and enjoy the game.  Too often have I seen this in cooperative games and it’s a failure of good game design in my view.

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There are a few other issues I have with the game: mainly logic problems.  The game allows for the characters to progress to higher skill levels, and thus become more adept at dealing with the environment and zombies, but as they grow more powerful, the system is set up that this means more zombies arrive.  In other words, as you get better at beating the zombies, more show up, making it more difficult to win the game. Not just a few more zombies—a ton more zombies start arriving, making the game very difficult to deal with.  In addition, as the characters become ever more skilled, the zombies now begin to take more actions, allowing some zombies to fly across the game board and over running player characters before they can even react.

 

So, the logic of the game is that to beat it you have to keep your players as low a level as possible for as long as you can; otherwise, you will lose the game real fast.  Now that would be fine, but in a game that is designed to let you kill zombies, that makes no sense.   To smash zombies and have fun doing it, but by doing that you prevent yourself and the group of players from winning the game… well, that’s a logic problem.

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Another problem is the use of guns.  If a zombie is in the same space as another player character, you have to shoot the player character first; then, after that character is dead, you can shoot the zombies. What? This just makes guns useless. A better solution to guns being “too powerful” would have been to either have them less available or their use more difficult.  As a designer, if you don’t want guns to be so effective, then design the system so they are not as useful or more difficult to acquire, but don’t make their use a liability—that’s just bad game design.

 

As a toy box game, Zombicide comes with a lot of stuff and this may well be its saving grace. The game comes with a lot of city tiles big enough to make a great tabletop environment, and with lots of buildings and rooms within the buildings to be useful in other games as a setting for an RPG or tabletop miniature game.  The box also offers a ton of plastic figures, all well designed and of variety, all of which can be used in other ways, again in a zombie-based RPG or miniature system.

 

Cost? A hefty $90, and with tax you are looking at a cool $100 bucks to get into this game.  There are all sorts of add-ons as well with new characters and new expansions with new figures and tiles.

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Final results on a scale of one to five stars?  I give the game a good 3 Stars.  Not a home run by any stretch, but overall a playable game if you ignore some of the logic issues.  It’s a high buy-in, and the game play can be exciting, but also limited for some players if they sacrifice themselves for the group.

 

So game play 3 Stars, but it drops to a 2 overall with the flaws in design, but a great 5 Stars for components and their re-use, and so a final score of 3.5, which I dropped to 3.

 

You can find this game and all its expansions at Guilotine Games’ web site.

 

https://zombicide.com/en/

Review of Quantum Vibe

I love comics—have since I was a small kid and used to go to the Easy Market down the street to buy horror comics for a dime. From there I moved into Conan comics by Marvel and was hooked for life with the big barbarian. This was what got me into drawing and eventually into a full career as an artist.

 

Comics today are expensive, though; so much so that I cannot in good faith buy them any more. I sort of stopped in the 90s and have not looked back. I still love comics, however, so where to get my fix?

 

Well, web comics have come into their own over the last few years. Many of the earlier editions were weak, with terrible art or worse stories. That has changed and now you can find some really great comics, free, online.

 

Quantum Vibe is such a treat.

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I fell over this online comic about a year ago, and have had a blast with it. It’s a sci-fi romp through the solar system, with a crazy, rich scientist, his assistant, and their android bodyguard. The stories are fun, the art well done, and there is a ton of it. It will take some time to work your way through the whole thing.

 

The site releases a new page every day, something most web comics can only dream about, and they are in full color. Earlier issues were gray-scale only, but that changes about a third of the way through the series.
I’m not going to tell you much about the stories themselves, as that would wreck the fun of reading them yourself, but trust me—they are fun and a good read. I feel I should point out the stories and the writer have a strong libertarian bent to them, so don’t get put off by that; he keeps the preaching to a minimum (Unlike his other web comic, which is very much a libertarian rant).

 

Over all, the Quantum Vibe web comic is a great fun time, and has turned into one of my daily rituals: wake up, eat breakfast, read Quantum Vibe, take a shower, go to work.

 

You can find this great web comic at…

 

http://www.quantumvibe.com/strip?page=1

Review of Wizard’s Academy

Wizard’s Academy

 

Just got my Kickstarter version of Wizard’s Academy by (3DTotalGames). I backed this boardgame about a year ago, so to have it arrive so soon is a real treat. Most Kickstarter boardgames take a good long time to get completed; I have backed some that have been on hold for up to three years now and still are nowhere to be seen, while the average seems to be about 18 months or so. Having one roll in at about 12 months is a nice surprise, but then this is not the first time that (3DTotalGames ) has put out a Kickstarter game, so they have experience with getting things done.

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Wizard’s Academy is a cooperative game where players take on the role of student wizards at a special school of magic. The goal of the game is to save the academy from disaster by learning spells through collecting glyphs. Along the way, the academy becomes more and more dangerous as fires break out, the place starts to flood with water, and imps, trolls, and demons invade. As this is a cooperative game, the players all work together to beat the game itself, which can be fun, but requires a group not interested in beating each other up and who can work together.

 

I opened the package to find all kinds of goodies. As this came from England, the package consisted of a heavy, dusty shipping bag, then a box wrapped in plastic, then packing peanuts and more plastic wrap, and then the game itself, also wrapped in plastic. It is always a good sign to me if the producer of the game takes time and effort to protect the product from damage in shipping. The game comes with two boards—one for the spells and one to set up the Academy tiles. There is also a collection of counters and cards for spells and events as well as locations within the academy. Best of all, though, as this is a toy box-style game, there are lots of great miniatures.

 

The figures that come with the game are really nice. Each wizard student is represented, as well as figures for imps, trolls, stone guardians, and demons. Each is well-fashioned and made of injected soft plastic. They are a bit small, so will not really be usable for other games, other than the trolls and guardians, as they are a bit larger and might be usable in an RPG session.

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The game itself is based upon scenarios, so there are a lot of different missions to accomplish and thus allows a lot of replay for the game. As the game is designed to be random in the available spells and disasters, there is a limitless number of replays per scenario. This allows for a lot of playing, and the game should never become stale.

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Game play generally begins with players trying to gather up the needed glyphs, which are used to cast spells, then find out what spells are available and bind them. Once you have the spells you need, the game moves toward solving whatever difficulty the scenario has set up. While this is all going on, you have a set time limit with which to work in, so it becomes a race against time to get the spells needed and solve the scenario’s preset victory condition. This can be really tough and requires a group of players to really work together. One player may well have to spend the whole game just camped out in the Library binding spells that other players have cast so that the spell becomes permanently placed and usable by everyone. (This is a necessary action, as spells that have not been bound can be shifted around and thus “lost” until rediscovered by collecting and casting the correct glyphs again, which takes time and slows down the players in their quest to win the game.) Because the game requires some players to camp out to see that things get done, it can create game play for some players that is not all that fun. This is a common feature of cooperative games, though, so players should know ahead of time that some of them might not get to do a lot during the game itself.

 

As the game progresses, the difficulty increases, as it should if it is a well-designed game, with fires growing, floods expanding, monsters popping up more and more often, and the layout of the academy itself changing, opening up rooms and new paths while closing off others. Thus the game shifts all the time, and the players have to react to these changes and find ways to over come these difficulties and still win the game.

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So, what do I think? Wizard’s Academy is a fun time. As with all such games, it certainly takes a select type of player to really enjoy it, so a group preferring competitive games will not do well here. On the other hand, it will also not suit a group of players that want a light, easy-to-enjoy, beer-and-chips type game, as they will have to work hard and think things out to to beat this system.

 

I liked it, as both a player and as a game designer. There are a lot of interesting systems in place that makes for an ever-changing, thought-provoking situation and game play. It does take some time to learn and play, so be ready for a long night of a few hours playing, setting up, and putting it away once you have played.

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Price? Like all toy-box games, it’s has a hefty price tag: almost $100 bucks. Is it worth the price? For me, yea, I liked what I got, but one thing I always look for in a toy box game is whether I can use the components in other games, either ones I make up myself, or as add-ons to an RPG or tabletop miniature game. In the case of Wizard’s Academy, the answer is no—the figures are too small for any other use and the titles for the rooms have no real use in other games.

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My final score? On one- to five-star scale, I give it a solid Four. For game play and design, it’s a Five-star, but price and no reuse ability, it’s a Two, averaging out to a 3.5. The final score reflects my overall enjoyment of the game itself and quality of components., so a solid Four Stars.

 

Check out the game on the website, and if you want more information, drop me an email or go check out some video of game play online.

 

Wizard’s Academy

Review of Easy Roller Dice Company

Easy Roller Dice Company

Review Part 1

So a few weeks ago I was asked by the folks at Easy Roller if I would like to write a review on some of their products. I’m always happy to help out, so I told them to send me a few of their products and I would take them to my next gaming season at the local game store (GMI in Riverside Cal, the best gaming spot in Southern California, by the way).

 

A few days later, a large box arrived on my doorstep. I thought it was one of the many Kickstarter games I had backed; the size of the box was rather large. To my surprise, it was loaded with dice and dice-gaming aids from Easy Roller.

 

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WOW!

 

Okay, so before we get into the nuts and bolts of the review of all these goodies, I should state that I HATE DICE! Everyone that has played with me knows this. If I need to make a saving throw, for sure I will roll a “1” on a D20. Need to make a break test in a Warhammer game? Nope, no way in hell I will do it. It is still spoken of in hushed voices at GMI of the time I had to make a break during a Warhammer tournament and needed to roll anything but a “12” to not only win the game but the tournament. Of course I rolled a “12”. The bad words at the volume I issued them that day still echo off the walls.

 

I hate dice so much I designed several games that don’t even use dice. I dislike dice and they dislike me.

 

So there before me is a whole box of dice. Chewing my lip, I opened the first package, a nice little, black-cloth dice bag, and out fell a set of blue marble dice, a single of each: D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20, and a percentile for rolling D100. Hum, not bad, I think. The cloth bag is thick, so no rips are going to end its days of use, something I have experienced too often with dice bags. The cord is also thick—heavy-duty black cord—which is also long, so you can get a good pull on the cord and close the bag tight; another failing I have seen too often in dice bags. After 40 years of gaming, I have had all sorts of dice bags, none of which lasted long or wore well with time. I think this little bag might just end that trend.

 

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What about the dice themselves? No bad, they are of good quality, much like you can find at any game store or online. They roll well and, unlike cheap dice, will not fade, chip, or turn into little round balls after a few rolls. I can still remember the first dice I ever got back in the 70s when I bought my first copy of the boxed set of basic D&D. Those dice were cheap. After a while, the edges chipped and rounded off so that eventually the dice just rolled around and around like marbles.

 

I should mention that the whole set-up came in a sealed plastic bag, and the dice themselves were also sealed in a small resealable bag. Good shipping materials are always a sign of care and quality, if you ask me.

 

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Other dice of this type included a set of green-and-black marble, red-and-black marble, and brown-and-black marble. Each set came with the same packaging, a great dice bag, and number and type of dice.

 

I looked online at the prices for these dice sets on Easy Roller’s website, and found a set will run you about $11.95 with shipping, although if you order more than $50.00 you get shipping free in the U.S. They also have a good return policy for damaged dice or products and a great 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied. They offer a wide selection of colors and styles, so you are certain to find any color scheme you want.

 

Can you get these dice cheaper? Sure, the local game store will sell you the same basic dice at around $9.00 or so, and you can get them even cheaper from Chessex, but you won’t get the great dice bag and I think that is what is setting these dice apart. If bought from someone else or at the local game store, you are going to get them in either a resealable bag or in a clear plastic dice box with a slap-on cap. Easy Roller’s little cloth dice bag is the bonus that makes this worth the time and money.

 

So what is the final evaluation? I still hate dice; Easy Roller did nothing to help me with that lifelong disappointment. I used their dice Saturday in an RPG and failed the first saving throw, as I always do. The D20 did, however, survive my throwing it across the table where it bounced off the wall and fell to the floor.

 

On a scale of one to five stars, I would give these little dice sets a sound 5 stars, even if I had to throw them in a dice-hating rage.

 

(By the way, my wife says I live a blessed life, and that the karma of bad dice rolls is how the universe has balanced it. I guess in the long run a great family, a good job, and sound health make up for crappy dice, but just barely.)

 

Easy Roller Review

Part 2

So, taking a deeper look into the big box of fun that Easy Roller sent me, I found a great dice bag, officially known as the Wyvern Reversible Microfiber Self-Standing Large Dice Bag (yea, it’s a mouthful to say). I like dice bags, more than I like the dice that go into them. I can put other stuff in dice bags—my gaming tools, a pencil, some gun maybe, the figure for my character, stuff to throw at Josh when he is trying to kill my character (so what if my thief tried to sell him to slavers while his barbarian was passed out drunk…guy’s got to make a living, after all).

 

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I already spoke about the small dice bag that their set of gaming dice comes in, a nice heavy duty cloth bag with a strong cord pull, knotted on both ends for easy use. Well, this dice bag from Easy Roller makes that smaller cousin look weak and sniveling.

 

The bag I pulled out of the box was beautiful: a black felt-like bag with a flat bottom so it could stand on its own, open and full of those terrible dice that I am forced to roll. The bag had a red, dragon-like wyvern in-flight set high on the bag and a strong pull cord, once more knotted on both sides and easy to draw close. If this was not enough, it was reversible, so you could pull the bag inside out to reveal a red felt-like side with a black draconic wyvern symbol. You can choose either a black or red bag as your gaming fashion sense dictates.

 

It’s damn big too. You can really stuff a lot of dice in this bag or, if you want, a full group of plastic figures for your game, or a phone, wallet, or anything else you want out of the way while you are gaming. Because it is flat-bottomed, you can stand it up and reach in anytime you want to get what you need without having to pull it first and struggle with the stuff inside.

 

The cloth is heavy and solid, and will not rip or tear anytime soon, and the felt-like finish is not going to rub off or shed. I have had a ton of dice bags over the years—fake leather, real leather, felt, cloth, silk, you name it I had one. None lasted very long; either they ripped, or the pull cord bailed on me, or it just did not close well and the dice fell out all the time. I even gave up on dice bags completely for a while and carried my dice in a nice wooden box… well, until I placed it on the top of my car while I loaded everything else up and forgot it was up there when I drove off.

 

Dice bags are the way to go, but they just don’t seem to last long. I think, though, that the time has finally come as I finally have found the right bag. The Wyvern bag is the answer for me. It’s large enough to meet my needs, sturdy enough to have me toss it around, and just cool, which makes me even cooler than I already am (the wife says to keep the ego in check or karma will be a bitch, so I keep the “cool” remarks to a minimum).

 

Price? Easy Roller has this bag on sale right now for $11.95, so a great deal, if you ask me. I looked around; the local game store had nothing close to it (Sorry, GMI, I know you can’t carry everything), and online there are some large stand-up bags, but they are a bit more expensive and will run you close to $20.00. Some online versions had weird dice pockets inside (looked like something that grew out of the sea, in my opinion) and others had designs on the side, but none looked as good as the Wyvern does.

 

In the end, dice bags are a personal choice, sort of like the brand of beer you drink or the type of fast food you like best. For me, the choice has been made: the Wyvern met the challenge. On a scale of one to five stars I would give this a 6 if I could, but I can only go as high as a 5, so 5 with a smile.

 

Easy Roller Review

Part 3

So, looking in the Easy Roller box, I find another large dice bag. This one is full of dice, a lot of dice—105 dice! The bag was of the same quality as the smaller dice bag: heavy cloth, strong pull cord, but this one was, of course, larger and had a blue silk lining. Huh, another great dice bag… these seem to be a theme with Easy Roller.

 

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The dice were all of good quality, each set having the typical D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20, and D100. The sets, however, were all different colors—solid green, white, orange, yellow, black, purple and brown, as well as transparent green, purple, red, and yellow. I also found sets in blue marble, green glitter, gunmetal, and white pearl.

 

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The dice roll like dice should (for me, crappy) and can take some abuse (I threw several during the course of my RPG night on Saturday). Overall, they were good dice and everyone at the gaming table took turns with different sets; of course, everyone else rolled great all night long….

 

I checked the website for Easy Roller and the set is on sale for $27.95; so, not a bad price for a ton of dice. I checked around and the only thing close to the same deal was a set of 126 in 18 colors for over 30 bucks. All in all, this is a great deal: a ton of dice, a great bag (well worth the cost right there, if you ask me), and some fun times with your gaming group.

 

On a scale of one to five stars, we clock in at a high 4 or low 5. I would give it a four overall, as I hate dice, but the dice bag put me over the top and so I give it a solid five. If you are a dice collector, and I know a lot of them, then this is great deal, well worth jumping on, a sure-fire 5 star.

 

 

Easy Roller Review

Part 4

What else did the fairies of dice send me? Well, how about a dice cup? Yea, a dice cup. In all my years of gaming I have never used a dice cup. Why, I don’t know; because I don’t play Yahtzee, I guess. It just never seemed to be a part of my gaming toolbox.

 

Well, I think that changed once I pulled the cup out of the box. The dice cup is a P/U leather (yea, I had to look up what that was; it’s basically cloth covered in a plastic coating to look like leather, but if you had not told me I would have thought it was real leather), with a strong stitching around the lip and base, which itself is thick and sturdy, capping the bottom of the cup so it sits flat and will not roll or turn over. The interior is a rich, blue felt that reduced the noise of the dice rolling around inside. The whole thing comes with five white D6 dice, sealed in a small resealable baggie.

 

Well… I never use a dice cup before, so I took it to the game on Saturday along with all the other stuff Easy Roller sent me.

 

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The cup was a hit and everyone wanted to use it. We started to call it the “cup of doom” because when the GM used it we all got screwed. The cup brought an extra fun bit of levity to the game that night and was well received by all.

 

I checked on the cost and Easy Roller has it listed on sale for $12.95, so not too bad over all. Other such cups are going for a lot more, or are of less quality, so all in all Easy Roller is giving you a good deal.

 

On the one to five stars scale I would give this a solid 5 stars just for the fun it brought to the game that night. If you are into bar dice games, this is a great addition to your drinking fun, or if you are into serious dice rolling then give it a shot.

 

Easy Roller Review

Part 5

Dice trays—I’ve seen them come and go. For the most part, they suck; one time, I bought one at a con, brought it to the table and sat it down, rolled one set of dice in the sucker, and watched the seam blow out. I took it back to the dealer and asked for my money back and he said no. So I badmouthed him the rest of the con and he did not sell any more trays. For a time at the local game shop (GMI rocks, by the way, so if you are in Southern CA, stop on by), there was a trend where everyone was buying dice trays but it did not last long. Why? Because they do not last; the construction just could not take the abuse gamers put on their gaming goodies.

 

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So, then, why is Easy Roller’s dice tray different? Simple, it’s well-made. The tray is large enough to roll your dice: it’s octagonal made of a wood frame covered in leatherette (I had to look that one up, too; seems to be a fake leather product used in upholstery). The bottom of the tray is also covered in the leatherette, so it will not slip around and stays put. The floor of the tray is lined with red felt with a gold Easy Roller logo. The sides of the tray are also cover in the leatherette, so the dice rolls are constant and the noise of the rolling dice is reduced.

 

The construction was good; the leatherette covers the whole tray so the seams will not bust, and if they do the covering will hold tight. All in all, it’s a nice tray for dice rolling. It would make a nice addition to a bar set with the dice cup that Easy Roller offers or at any gaming table.

 

This is the one product I could not find a price on, so it may be a product they just started carrying and have not updated their website as of yet. I did find it on Amazon for $16.95, so, overall, a good deal.

 

Easy Roller Review

Part 6

Looking in the box Easy Roller sent me one last time, it seems I left the best for last.

 

Inside, I found two small boxes, each a leatherette-covered box with a tight-fitting lid. Upon opening, I found a foam interior with holes for dice and in those holes, one set had a series of copper metal dice and the other, metal dice in gunmetal.

 

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WOW! Those are some dice. Heavy in your hand, they rolled well, with a delightful thud as they hit the dice tray and even more of a thunderous clash when they hit the table. Josh flipped his lid and told me not to throw those at him—they would hurt.

 

What can I say; the box itself is a great way to carry a set of dice around and makes you look cooler than you are (just ask my wife about that). The dice themselves are heavy—solid metal and a good rolling experience (I still rolled crappy with them, but that’s my curse to bare).

 

I checked out Easy Roller’s site for more details and the dice come in different colors—blue, red, orange, yellow-green, white, or pink—at $44.00 per set. You can get the copper dice for a bit cheaper at $39.99. You can also buy the box by itself for $17.95, which will hold up to 21 polyhedron dice or a lot more D6 for tabletop games.

 

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I checked online for similar dice sets and, while you could get the dice cheaper, you get no box at all or just a metal tin. So, with the leatherette-covered box as an added bonus, these sets are a great deal.

 

Would I spend $40 or more for a set of dice? No, my wife would kill me. If I were a dice junkie, though, this would be hard to pass up. All in all, everyone at the Saturday night game loved them and had a blast rolling them around. Add this to the dice cup and leatherette dice tray and you have one hell of a bar set or a great gaming collection for yourself or for a gamer friend as a present.

 

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On a scale of one to five this is 5 stars if you want to spend the cash. You will get a better deal than other metal dice sets and be much happier with your purchase.

 

As always, Easy Rider has a great return policy and a money-back guarantee.

 

Finals Thoughts on Easy Roller Dice Company

What else can I say? I was impressed by their products and the service they offer. If you are a dice-mad fool, then they are your new best friend. If you want some great dice or dice-rolling gear, then you should check them out.

 

Check out their site and roll some dice.

Easy Roller Dice Company Web Site.

https://easyrollerdice.com

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Disclaimer

I was contacted by Easy Roller Dice Company without any prior interaction between them and myself, and I did not receive anything for this review other than free samples of their products. I have no prior or current relationships with Easy Roller Dice Company and this review is only based upon my own opinions and is not in any way a reflection of Avalon Game’s past, current, or future relationships with Easy Roller Dice Company.

 

Robert Hemminger is a long time game geek, who teaches art and holds a masters degree in art. He started playing games back in the 70’s with Avalon Hill board games and moved to RPG with the release of D&D. he is a prolific game designer with hundreds of games titles to his name. Currently he is the chief creative officer and director at Avalon Games.

 

 

Some Great Games

Some great games I have played of late So my group has more or less taken a break from RPGs and we have delved into other games for a little while. Here are some of my favorites.

Gloom. A great time was had with this card game. Normally I don’t like cards games too much, but this one was a real blast.

Kaosmasters. A fun battle game. Light, fun and full of interesting way to win the game. Good looking mini’s as well.

Star Wars X-Wing. Me and my daughter play this off and on. She always beats me….

 

Rob

From our good friends at Dark Water

Hello,
Favor to ask…would you possibly have a moment to help me boost the signal on the below? I’d really appreciate it. The promo is only through the end of next week so I’m really trying to get it out there.
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D-
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Danielle Ackley-McPhail
www.sidhenadaire.com
www.badassfaeries.com

NEW RELEASE – 
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Author of Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s MemoriesToday’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court
Editor of the Bad-A** Faeries Anthology Series

Some fun stuff for your fans

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Love…Life…Liberty…

Never before had Kara O’Keefe had cause to doubt in any of these, and yet she was now called to defend all three or lose them for all time.

Though the Battle of the Knock was counted a victory, the war—as they say—was not won. Carman’s Children have resurface after millennia and have reunited against their common foe once more. These adversaries from the ancient history of the Tuatha de Danaan have one goal: dominate all.

Kara and the Sidhe Fianna must find a way to end this threat forever or find themselves and all humanity shackled to the will of evil demigods.

As this journey of self discovery comes to an end, will Kara find herself and retain her freedom, or will all be lost for eternity?

Nice Review of Nova Blast by Megan Robertson

Indeed there is, as the Introduction says, nothing new under the sun. People have been mixing wargames/miniature skirmish with traditional character-based role-playing from the very beginning of the hobby, whether it is deliberate (such as role-playing extensions to BattleTech) or coincidental (like D&D 4e combat being far easier to run as a miniature skirmish), or as an adjunct to bring the wider sweep of battlefield events to bear on your role-playing (as has been attempted in Exalted 2e). Even the concept of a shared setting for tabletop combat and role-playing has been done before, for example in Iron Kingdoms from Privateer Press.

In your download, you get three books (well, 6 if you count the printer-friendly versions): Core Rules, The Fringe and Game Components. The Core Rules contains the basis for a solid miniatures skirmish game set in a science-fiction universe (the Fringe, of which more later). It is based around Units, which can be anything from a squad of, well, squaddies to a main battle tank or something more exotic (mecha, monsters or ???). Once you have sorted out scenario, terrain and starting positions, gameplay proceeds with turn-based combat. You begin each turn by placing Order Markers by each unit you intend to do something. These are placed face-down, simulating the real-world situation of having to issue orders without knowing what the enemy is up to, and it means that all players can get on with issuing orders without having to wait for each other. Then you roll initiative, and whoever wins decides which of his units will act first. Thereafter, in each phase of the turn, it is one of his units that will act first. As well as move and fire orders, there is a neat Reaction Order mechanism, which allows a unit a pre-emptive ranged attack if a certain event occurs. Throughout there are loads of examples of play and good diagrams to illustrate each rule as it is introduced. There are conversion notes for Infinite Futures RPG characters, so that if the occasion arises they can mix it in your skirmishes. The book ends with rather an excessive amount of advertising for other Avalon Game Company product – 11 pages in a 41-page PDF.

Next is The Fringe. This book introduces a far future star-faring setting, which is due to be to be released later this year (at the time of writing this review) for the Infinite Futures RPG and which provides a solid context for skirmish games. The Fringe is a wild border or frontier area where there is a wealth of scope for exploration, colonisation, trade, conquest or pretty much whatever you want to get up to, with a range of different factions and races all set to squabble over resources and anything else. It’s a kind of meeting place of spheres of influence, several alien races as well as human beings are adjacent. You have Terran Marines, Star Marshals, pirates and all manner of mercenary and ‘security company’ forces scampering around… and that’s just the humans. Chuck the aliens in and there is ample scope for all the conflict you can handle. This rounds out with detailed discussion of the Terran Marines and an alien race called the Too-Nia (but not exhaustive, further source books are planned), because…

… these are featured in the third book, Game Components. This contains all you need to actually play Nova Blast. A selection of basic scenarios, paper miniatures, terrain pieces, unit information cards (complete with fancy backs if you like that standard of presentation and are good at the fiddly bits of printing, cutting out and pasting onto card to make it work) and the all important Order Markers that are core to the system.

Overall it’s a neat skirmish system firmly rooted in its setting, with the scope for future expansion to link it more firmly with the role-playing aspects. Get it if you think your Infinite Futures RPG characters are likely to get down and dirty with military-style skirmishes or if you wonder what Terran Marines do in their downtime and fancy role-playing it!