Dungeon Humor – Dungeonquest Revised Edition Review

Fantasy Flight’s third edition of the classic fantasy game Dungeonquest came out in 2010, and four years out it certainly feels like a turning point in the popular narrative of the company. The changes they made to a very simple game were indeed divisive, and almost all of the criticism centered around the revamped combat. Whatever damage you feel FFG did to Dungeonquest, it’s obvious now that the greatest damage was to Fantasy Flight’s brand. As a company they have always been willing to rework classic games to bear FFG’s distinctive mark, but up until Dungeonquest this was largely tolerated. Both Arkham Horror and Fury of Dracula were drastically changed from their original forms, but were warmly received regardless. But after Dungeonquest, every Fantasy Flight reprint is immediately met with suspicion from the game’s fans. It’s the exact opposite of how such announcements were received prior to Dungeonquest’s release. Continue reading

The high street never looked so low – Pop (1997)

No one seems to know what to do with Pop, least of all myself. It’s the sort of album I could spend all day discussing without ever really arriving at what does or doesn’t work. Certainly it comes with a lot of baggage, usually regarded as the album that broke U2 and forced them to go back into hiding before regrouping in the new millennium. It has a reputation for being highly experimental, but after the strange detours of Zooropa, Pop feels a lot less outer-spacey. It’s regarded as something of a flop, even though it made it number one in several countries and went platinum a few times over. It feels like every time one tries to nail Pop down, it wriggles away and forces a reassessment. Continue reading

Suns For The Sun God – Ra Retrospective

Although I spend a lot of time writing about old games, I’ve put off writing about Ra for a long time. This is because, unlike most of my favorite games, I struggled for a long time to put my finger exactly on what I love so much about Ra. Reiner Knizia’s classic was one of the first games I bought when I started collecting games, and over all those years I’ve always had a hard time defining why it works so well. Continue reading

Better by design – Zooropa (1993)

Zooropa is the sort of album that can only be made in a very specific time in a band’s life cycle. Its easily the most experimental U2 album, and part of its power comes from how sharply it contrasts with the rest of U2’s discography. As such it could only be recorded past a certain point in the band’s history, but then if a band gets old enough it hits a comfortable groove where the need to be experimental has largely passed by. U2 would get to that point soon enough, but after the transcendent Achtung Baby they felt like their newfound creative energy needed to be channeled to a new recording.
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The Rumpus Room Top Twelve – 2014 Edition

A pogo stick!

The holiday season is a time for tradition, and as we all know “tradition” is a Christmas-y word for obligation. I’ve been at my tradition for five years now, where I look at my twelve favorite games and see what has shifted over the last year. My approach has evolved some, but I do it again from scratch every year. Our tastes aren’t set in stone after all. You can see by reading my lists from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013Continue reading

Ready For The Laughing Gas – Achtung Baby (1991)

The opening bars of “Zoo Station” are among the most jarring in U2’s history. Even after the reinventions of Achtung Baby have been largely backpedaled, that ugly industrial grind still feels bizarre, discomforting, and just a little exhilarating. This was of course intentional. After the bloated Americana of Rattle And Hum, the band rightly sensed that a new approach was necessary. Achtung Baby represented a shift unlike anything else U2 had done to that point, or anything they would do again. In doing so they created a brilliant piece of rock music, proudly standing beside War and The Joshua Tree as masterpieces of not only their own discography but the genre. Continue reading

Holidays Away

This weekend my family traveled to visit my wife’s family in Southwestern Kansas for Thanksgiving. Since our families are so far spread around the country, we have made it our annual tradition to switch off spending Thanksgiving and Christmas between my family and hers. I’ve been looking forward to this holiday season in particular, since the move to Dallas has been as stressful and overwhelming as moving to a new state usually is. We spent the normal four days with my in-laws before heading back on the road. Continue reading