pgmshow

Cthulhu Fluxx Takes You To The Brink Of Your Insanity

Cthulhu Fluxx combines the frenetic gameplay of Fluxx with the beloved characters of H.P. Lovecraft. If you’re unfamiliar with Fluxx, it’s a card game that starts simple: each player has three cards, and you draw one card, play one card. From there, you can change the rules of the game, depending on what’s in your hand. Suddenly, a few rounds later, you’re drawing three cards and playing two, or drawing four, playing one, and you’ve got a hand limit of one card.

Sound confusing? It’s not. It’s a simple game where you make the rules as you go. The way to win is by fulfilling whatever the present goal is. For Cthulhu Fluxx, that goal is related to the Lovecraftian universe. And, since it’s such a dark place, there are also some Ungoals, too – meaning there are ways you can lose to darkness. Certain characters can be drawn and placed in front of you with an action. If you draw Keepers, those are good characters – the Socialite, the Poet, and the Reanimator are just a few. The Creepers are the bad guys who prevent you from winning – this includes the Body, Shoggoth, and, of course, Cthulhu. Creepers have Doom counters too, which adds to the chances of everyone losing. Put Creepers in front of you automatically; Keepers you play within your regular actions.

Goals and Ungoals have various criteria, each one tickling the Lovecraft geek’s horror bone. “The Whisperer in the Darkness” goal says that the player with the Professor and the Fungi on the table wins. The Dunwich Horror Ungoal says that if the table’s Doom count is six or more, and Yog-Sothoth is on the table, the game ends with no winner. Well, actually, the winner is Yog-Sothoth!

For me, Fluxx is a really fun game that can be played quickly and without that much competition. There’s not much to dislike about it: it’s super portable, easy to learn, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space to play, so you can really bring it anywhere. My friends and I played it in a diner booth the other day, and even when the food was on the table, we had enough room to keep going. But some people don’t like the frenetic energy of it, and avoid it at all costs. I played it with both kinds of people (as well as some newcomers!) and found that, no matter what, I enjoyed it. And being a Lovecraft nerd only helps with Cthulhu Fluxx.

tl;dr – Cthulhu Fluxx is a super entertaining game for anyone into Fluxx, Cthulhu, or any kind of fast social game. It’s quick, easy, portable, and most of all, fun!

Original Article

Plunder for gold in Scallywags! ARRRRRRRR!

Who doesn’t like talking like a pirate, and everyone should love it on September 19th, but it’s more fun when it’s done with a purpose. Enter Scallywags, a quick game appropriate for youngsters and adults alike. If you’ve ever wanted to plundering without the risk of walking the plank, here is your chance. And on this raid you can bring the kids along!

Let’s dive into Scallywags, and afterwards listen to game designer Chevee Dodd talk about his game on our podcast!

The point of the game is to acquire more pirate booty, gold pieces, than anyone else. Do they do this with cards that have a picture of gold coins like other card games would? Nope! The game comes with pieces of gold! Alright, they are really plastic coins, but it is a sturdy and unique game component. On the face of the coins are values ranging from zero to eight. Pieces of eight anyone? Way to keep with a theme! And they don’t take the easy way out and print a 0 on the zero coin, they take the theme all the way home an put a Jolly Roger on those. The only thing I wish were different about the game is a better contrast on the number side of the coins. They do have raised embossing of the numbers, but the coin is a little difficult to read at times.

There is a different mechanic for taking face up and face down coins, so you are encouraged to dump them out onto the table so there are a random number of face up and face down coins. And besides, the chaos of cascading coins onto a table top is just plain old fun. Once the coins are sufficiently randomized in the center of the table, everyone gets dealt 3 cards and the rest of the cards are placed next to the coins. At this point you can either play a card from your hand or take a face down coin from the pile. If you play a card you get to draw another one to replace it.

Use of the cards are the only way to get the face up coins. There are cards that let you give a face up coin to an opponent or take one for yourself. Other cards let you do things like look at some of the face down coins and take one of them, steal a coin from an opponent or merely swap a coin with them, and put another pirate’s coin back. All of them are titled things that keep with the theme. My favorite card is the one that stops someone from taking one of your coins which is aptly titled, “Hands Off Me Booty!” I tend to shout that one a little too loud when we play.

The game ends when every player has 6 coins in front of them. No player may ever have more than 6 coins in front of them. This becomes paramount near the end of the game since you want to try and get high number face up coins away from other players and maybe get low point face down coins out from your pile of treasure. For your last couple turns it is possible you do not have a legal play with this 6 coin limit, so you’ll have to discard a card and draw another.

The game is easy to learn and plays quickly. This definitely isn’t a game where players get distracted since it’s so short between turns, so I think it would work out well with kids. It does have a little strategy involved if you play it with adults. Pirates are forced to keep their booty in order in front of them, so you can remember that sinister player across the table stole your eight for his second coin and you can try and swipe it back later.

You can plunder a copy of it for yourself here or at your FLGS.

tl;dr - Aimed at kids, but still fun for adults. No one’s going to choose walking the plank over playing it.

Original Article

Podcast Ep #00106 - Vita on your TV & Beer in the Keg

Another Friday, another Perpetual Geek Machine podcast! I’m just back from vacation, and I wasn’t on this show, so I get to enjoy it fresh right along with you guys! Here’s what I’ve been told they discuss.

Here is a direct podcast link for people who don’t fuck around.

Here’s the breakdown on where to find/follow us online!

iTunes | email | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | YouTube | 856-282-0042

What we’ve been doing- 2:33 - 39:08)

  • Nintendo 2DS
  • Vita TV (with a slight diversion into Ouya chatter)
  • Diablo III on PS3
  • Ryan’s internet went down
  • Kevin’s now kegging beer

Break- (39:09 - 42:35)

EyeFone Five Talk- (42:36 - 56:20)

5 Hit Combo - (56:21 - End)

  • Top 5 Reasons Kevin Should Switch From Android to iOS.
  • Daniel Vs. Ryan
Ep #00056: Perpetual Geek Machine Podcast

We’ve got a smaller Machine for you this week. You’re going to basically be a “fly on the wall” for a conversation between Ryan and Kevin. Don’t worry though, nothing gets that weird. Just a little weird. And uncomfortable. Yeah.

Here’s the link to give Perpetual Geek Machine: Show #00056 a listen!

Here’s the breakdown on where to find/follow us online!

Show Notes to show your battery-powered bipedal:

What’cha Been Doing? (3:02 - 35:00)
  • They ramble on about:
    • Kevin has some sort of strained muscle in his neck and a fine cocktail of drugs to soothe the pain.
    • He’s also been rewatching Louie now that his wife is into it.
    • We played Scallywags and Tsuro recently.
    • Ryan been enjoying the “outside”, whatever that is and playing a bunch of Wipeout on his “Vita”, whatever that is.
    • He also increased the bicycle count at his house to 5 between two people.

Break (35:01 - 37:46)

Let’s Talk About… (38:23 - End)

Total Run Time - 1:02:18

Original Article

Ep #00063 - Perpetual Geek Machine Podcast

Our first “OG” show in quite a while felt great, as it always does when it’s been a while since Dan, Ryan and I spend some time chatting about all the shit that makes us happy (or is supposed to). It’s not always easy for us to get together, especially when one of us is buying and renovating a house, so it’s awesome when it happens.

Here’s the link to give Perpetual Geek Machine: Show #00063 a listen!

Here’s the breakdown on where to find/follow us online!

Show Notes that are easy to share, even when you don’t want to:

What’cha Been Doing? (5:13 - 46:32)
  • Ryan laments to closing of Liverpool Studio (AKA Psygnosis), the developer behind his beloved WipeOut series.
  • Dan has been super busy with “real life” stuff but he’s still found time to play some Sound Shapes and the first few minutes of Papo & Yo. Beyond that he picked up a Nintendo 3DS XL and is thus far impressed with the system.
  • Kevin recaps his impressions of the popular board game Puerto Rico. Tells us about the martial arts action film The Raid, his excitement over seeing the Google Streetview Car. His time spent with the NHL 13 demo cements that some of the major sports games have become pretty incredible. Lastly he’s jonesing to play some of the new Team Fortress 2 Horde-like mode Mann vs. Machine with some friends.
  • Lastly Dan puts in a pitch for the glorious weirdness of Adventure Time.

Break (46:33 - 50:14)

  • The Music I Laid In There This Week:
    • Friday" by Rebecca Black (of course)
5 Hit Combo (55:27 – End)
  • Topic: Top 5 Movie Theater Candies
    • Dan vs. Ryan, Kevin judging.
    • Next topic: Top 5 TV Shows To Watch In ReRuns
Total Run Time - 1:13:06

Original Article

Hombrew Adventures - Building A Wort Chiller

My buddy Phil and I have been messing around with the Mr. Beer kits for a couple of years now with mixed results. Those classic “Christmas Gift For The Beer Lover” sets end up serving as a great introduction into homebrewing and most of us will tell you that’s where we started. Now that we’ve got a bunch of batches under our belts it’s time to step up our game to 5 gallon brews. We’re starting with extract brewing but I imagine we’ll be on to all grain brews in less than a year. Either way, we needed a wort chiller. Phil had a decent size loop of 3/8” copper tubing that was left behind in the basement of his recently-purchased home so instead of shelling out somewhere around $70 for a pre-made chiller we decided we’d just build our own. Really, how hard could it be? Turns out it’s not hard at all. I snapped some pictures as I went through the process so let’s take a look.

First, I laid out all the pieces I had gathered:

From left to right we have:

Here’s a couple of close-ups of the parts:

My first step was to find something to use as a form to wrap the copper around that would allow me to keep a nice, uniformed shape to the coil. Luckily I had this old tin sitting in my workshop that fit very nicely into the brew kettle:

Next I wanted to put a 90 degree bend and straighten out about 20” of the copper from the end of the coil. I’ll end up bending another 6” at the end of this straight piece where I’ll attach one of the utility hoses.


Next it’s time form the main coil of copper around the tin. I basically placed the tin in the center of the coil and carefully pulled the copper tight around the tin. Once I got the feel for this it came together pretty easily and kept its form nicely.

After I found my rhythm, completed the coil and removed the tin I thought that it was a little tight, so I tried to put some separation as best I could. Next I need to add the second bend for the other utility hose so I bent up another piece:

With the copper formed to meet my satisfaction it was time to attach the utility hoses, which is about as simple as it gets. Placing the clamps on the tube first I then slid the end of the utility hose over the copper and tightened down the clamps.

Once everything was assembled and shaped it was time to do a quick dry fit, just to make sure that it was going to fit nicely in the kettle. Not that I expected there to be a problem, but everything fit great:

Lastly I wanted to make sure that the clamps were tight enough to prevent leaks so I hooked up one of the hose ends to the tub faucet and turned the water on. After a few seconds water was flowing through it, leak-free, like a champ!

It’s a very satisfying feeling to create something out of a few parts. I was very happy with the final results and all-told it was only about 30 minutes worth of work. Being that Phil found the copper left behind in the basement of his new house it only cost about $12 in parts. Even if we had to buy the copper a 20’ coil of 3/8” will only set you back about $20. If you’re looking to save some money on your homebrew equipment building a wort chiller yourself is one of the easiest ways to do it.

Original Article

Ep #00062 - Perpetual Geek Machine Podcast

It seems that every time we get Nicole on the show it winds up being her, Rich and myself. That’s alright though, we have fun together, especially this week. Rich and I work out the physical crap that was keeping us from being able to see each other comfortably the last time he was on, so there’s that. You guys probably don’t really care about that though. I’m tired.

Here’s the link to give Perpetual Geek Machine: Show #00062 a listen!

Here’s the breakdown on where to find/follow us online!

Show Notes to take you on a tour of Philly:

What’cha Been Doing? (5:20 - 46:36)
  • We all chime in on a bunch of movies that we’ve been watching including: Immortals, Conan, The Campaign, Waiting For “Superman”, The Bourne Legacy and one or two others.
  • Rich tells us about attending the recent Legend Of Zelda concert that came through town.
  • There’s a couple of other things but we went off our itinerary and I can’t remember what they were.

Break (46:37 - 49:05)

Eastern State Penitentiary / Favorite Spots In Philly (51:05 - 1:05:07)
  • I recently went to tour my favorite spot in Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary, for the third or forth time. Every time I go the place gets more fascinating and I highly suggest that you make it a definite stop if you ever come to town. That gets us talking about some of our other favorite places in the city.
5 Hit Combo (1:05:08 – End)
  • Topic: Top 5 Nerd Olympic Events
    • Rich vs. Nicole, Kevin judging.
    • Next topic: Top 5 Movie Theater Candies!
Total Run Time - 1:18:27

Original Article

The Ask And No Answer: Prometheus Review

One of the aspects of science fiction I love is that it almost effortlessly makes you forget that you need to suspend your disbelief to consume what you’re about to experience. The name of the genre itself implies what could be, and any doubts about how plausible a movie’s premise might be simply vanish. This genre invites you to wonder and escape like no other genre can ever achieve.

Ridley Scott has made some of the most influential science fiction movies ever, and he tries once more with Prometheus. Though this movie takes place in the same universe as Scott’s franchise, Alien, it is only loosely related to the series and should be considered more of a stand alone film. This movie follows Prometheus, a ship launched from Earth near the end of the 21st century to a distant planet that scientists believe holds the key to discovering the origins of mankind.

Though Scott asks some very big questions like, “Where did we come from?” and “Is there a God?” I ultimately left the theater disappointed, not because I wasn’t happy with his answer, but because he didn’t really give one. Obviously questions like these don’t really have answers, and even if Scott had given them to us, the information probably wouldn’t sit well with some people. Maybe any answers given to some of the most pondered questions in history would be unfulfilling, but I would have preferred an attempt rather than sidestepping the truth for what I can only imagine will be the inevitable sequel. Then again, one of the writers of Prometheus was Damon Lindelof who was also a writer for Lost. If you’re familiar with the show, you know he is the king of spinning a yarn that hooks you, and leaves you and without much of a resolution.

Story isn’t always everything for a movie so long as it has compelling characters. Sadly, Prometheus falls short here too, but not entirely. The main character, Elizabeth Shaw, is played by Noomi Rapace and I really could have cared less about what happened to her and her team of “scientists.” They all make questionable scientific decisions as they explore this alien world with very little regard for themselves, or the scientific method if I may be so bold. Trouncing about as they did, they were just asking to be killed, and many of them were. For the most important scientific discovery ever, the Weyland Corporation sure hired a bunch of imbeciles. They poke, prod, and examine their surroundings with the grace of a bull in a china shop. The whole company was not all bad though. I did like the captain of Prometheus played by Idris Elba. He was likable, grew as a character, and best of all, he was not a moron! The other character I really liked was played by Michael Fassbender. He clearly stole the show with his cold, sometimes humorous, and always calculating performance of David, the synthetic human.

When you strip away the crappy characters, the numerous idiotic decisions they made, and the unsatisfying resolution to the movie, Prometheus is actually a somewhat entertaining movie. I chuckled a number of times thanks to Michael Fassbender’s icy, but darkly humorous David. Though there is not much of a plot, it does move along at a fairly nice clip. Once Prometheus turned into a monster movie, the special effects were on full display and they looked good.

Though I left the theater entertained and certain I did not waste my time and money, I can’t help but feel disappointed knowing what Prometheus could have been. The trailers promoted a movie that looked like it would be elevated to the level of science fiction greatness with Ridley Scott at the helm once more. Instead we are treated to a monster movie that most anyone could have made that asks some brave questions, but ends up being too afraid, or incapable of answering. I might have forgiven dodging the big truths this movie boasted if it had had more of an atmosphere. These characters were on an alien world running through unfamiliar caves and corridors, and there is zero sense of tension or fear. I did get a slight feeling of wonder and exploration, but I know Scott is capable of more.

Prometheus is an entertaining monster movie, but it favors special effects over creating a compelling atmosphere and narrative. Though I disliked many of the characters, there were a couple that stood out to me. There’s enough good about this movie for you to see it if you’re a science fiction fan, but lower your expectations before you go. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.

L’artiste est Morte

for what gave me the most enjoyment as a result of this movie.

 tl;dr - Ridley Scott has done much better in the past, but Prometheus is not the worst thing you can see in theaters this summer. No, that award will probably go to That’s My Boy.

Original Article

Wabe the gimbles to score vorpals in "Borogove" the card game!


Borogove is a colorful card game based around the characters and creatures found in Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem. The gameplay is similar to Uno, in that you discard based on the number or suit of the card discarded before you. It’s a quick, fun, easy game to play anywhere and anytime, but the real draw is the gorgeous fantasy artwork.

Each player is dealt seven cards. Once everyone has their hand, the rest of the deck is placed in the center and one card is flipped over. The first player must then put down a card in their hand that matches either the number or the suit on the card that is face up. Suits are indicated by dots underneath the numbers on the cards – one dot is the Manxome suit, two is Twonsie, three is Thricewise, and four is Snicker-Snack. If a player doesn’t have a card that matches the number or suit, they have to draw a card.

Oh, and there’s a special vocabulary, too – wabe is deal, gimbles are cards, gyre is play, and hedger is when you are forced to take a card. And whoever runs out of cards first shouts “Callooh Callay!” and wins the game.

Borogove is entertaining and fast, and encourages creativity. We ended up putting the two jokers into the game by accident, and decided those were wild cards – you had to say the number and suit when you put it down, though. Bogorove is also portable and doesn’t take up much room at all, making it ideal for hardcore gamers and non-gamers alike. We played several games while sitting around at a restaurant after our board game night, and it was a nice way to wind down after a lot of more intense games.

Once a player shouts “Callooh Callay!” everyone adds up their points, or vorpals. They take the last card they played, multiply the number by the suit (so a Snicker-Snack Bandersnatch is four times one, which equals four). Everyone else takes their highest cards and subtracts the values of the other cards. You can end up with negative points, as we (hilariously) found out after our first game.

By far the best thing about Borogove is the artwork. Each number represents a different character, and as the suit numbers go up, so do the number of characters on the card (so that there’s one Bandersnatch on Manxome one, two on Twonsie one, and so on). The solo Bandersnatch also happens to be my favorite card in the whole deck.

To sum it up, Borogove is an excellent game that is easily portable and playable by gamers of any experience level. It’s a bit steep in price at $25, but it is an indie game that was funded through Kickstarter, so it’s to be expected. Fans of Lewis Carroll will be delighted, regardless of the price.

tl;dr – Fun and portable with a high price tag, Borogove is for supporters of indie games who dig art and stuff that’s just left of center.

Original Article

Adieu Eureka


Last week another science fiction show was cancelled while it still had stories to tell. The latest victim was Eureka, a SyFy channel original show. Unlike some of the recently popular dramatic shows in this genre, Eureka didn’t worry about taking itself too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, the science is A+ technobabble that helped generate award winning special effects. But, something downright ridiculous and funny happened every week.

For background, the show hinged on a town (Eureka) and corporation (Global Dynamics) deep in the woods of Oregon that was funded by the US government which reaped the benefits of the fantastic inventions created there. The people that lived and worked there aren’t just scientists; they were arguably some of the most intelligent people on the planet. That fact is what makes if funnier when one of their experiments eventually runs amok each week. For people who are so book smart, they could never manage to see the implications their creations could have on the world if every little thing didn’t react exactly as it should. Without fail each week one of the scientists uttered the words, “Well that can’t happen.” Try not to smile when they do.

Just about everyone in town missed out on the proper dose of common sense, except for the main character of the series, Sheriff Jack Carter. Seeing the world these scientists live in through the eyes of a witty everyman made the show a fantastic ‘fish out of water’ story.

It could have been easy for a character so out of place to get lost in the show, overwhelmed by the geeky and super intelligent characters that are so much more relatable to much of the audience. The writers did a great job preventing that. It was easy to love his character. He was warm, funny and a genuine good guy. This was his show despite the huge cast.

In the last few years the cast  was so huge it became mildly unwieldy. This was only in the respect that you wanted to see each character every week, but there was only an hour in the show. At the start of the series the main supporting characters for Sheriff Carter were a militaristic deputy, a problematic daughter, a love interest and an equally witty but smugly scientific foil to interact with. Slowly over the years the cast grew dramatically as peripheral characters grew in importance to the storytelling and new cast joined the show. I think many of the newcomers were supposed to only be guests for a few episodes, but they fit in so well they kept coming back and eventually found a permanent role.

My second favorite moment of each show was near the end of each episode, when there would be a pow wow of scientists that rattled off a full minute of technobabble describing how the ‘item/experiment of the week’ broke and Sheriff Carter would find an analogy to the problem in real world terms. “Oh, so it’s kinda like when your garage door opener can accidentally open someone else’s garage door.” His insight always helped give one of the scientists that (I apologize in advance) eureka moment for a fix to the problem. For the record, my favorite part of the show each week was trying to beat my wife in figuring out which innocuous thing going on at GD was going to throw a monkey wrench into the big experiment of the week.

Although I started this article off saying the show didn’t take itself too seriously, that’s not to say it was all guffaws and special effects. You felt for these characters, especially with the crazy hoops they were commonly forced to jump through. The writers had a propensity for seasonal story arcs that culminated in dramatic changes for much of the cast. These were emotional changes that helped the characters grow and seem even more like real people. By the end of the series I got the warning from my wife, “I’m probably going to cry when this is over.” For a change I didn’t rag on her for being too girly.

The show kept itself fresh from season to season utilizing these seasonal arcs. Some shows have an arc that doesn’t have much in the way of real implications for the series or the characters. Most often it’s used to write one of the major characters off the show. Several times Eureka used these arcs to turn the entire show on its side. The core of the show always stayed the same, but big things about the show its characters would change. While canceling this show wasn’t a travesty since it was given five seasons, I wish SyFy had given Eureka more time. The way the writers kept the show fresh with these resets demonstrated the show could go on for several more seasons.

That last paragraph probably sounded a little vague. That’s because I purposefully tried to stay away from any spoilers about the series in hopes that you check it out on DVD or Amazon or Netflix instant streaming.

tl;dr - If you are in the mood for an escape from dramatic science fiction, Eureka should have no problems giving you a laugh.

Were you already a fan of the show? Share your favorite moments in the comments below.

Original Article

Ep #00055: Perpetual Geek Machine Podcast

The Machine keeps getting bigger! You heard his voice on our show before but he’s now going to be a regular contributor to our podcast bringing his expansive knowledge of movies, comics and (evidently) old-timey radio shows to the mix. Who, you ask? Why Bryan Wall, of course. He also makes a killer 5 Hit Combo debut on this show.

Here’s the link to give Perpetual Geek Machine: Show #00055 a listen!

Here’s the breakdown on where to find/follow us online!

Show Notes to show your Leftennant:

What’cha Been Doing? (3:21 - 43:36)
  • This week we break down Bryan’s wall talking about:

Break (43:37 - 45:44)

  • The music I laid in there this week: Schfifty Five by Group X

Let’s Talk About… (46:27 - 56:30)

  • Dan saw Pixar’s Brave this weekend and we all saw that Monsters University teaser, which gets us chatting about whether or not Pixar is “losing it” and what that means.

5 Hit Combo Classic (56:31 - End)

  • This week’s topic: Top 5 Movie Monologues
    • Dan vs. Bryan with Kevin judging.
    • Next Topic: Top 5 Movie One-Liners

Total Run Time - 1:26:45

Original Article

Are you new to Doctor Who too? #NewToWho

A note from future Adam… I started writing this article several weeks ago before the onslaught of “Doctor Who’s new season is almost here!” articles started hitting the web. Sometimes timing works out since this article folds in nicely to BBC’s #newtowho campaign on twitter, even if it’s a bit more long form than they intended. Now, back to my original timeline…

Lately I’ve been trying to fill a gaping hole in my geek/nerd background. I have never really watched Doctor Who. I didn’t have a reason for it… it just kinda happened. A while ago I do remember seeing the “Eric Roberts as The Master” made for TV movie. Maybe that kinda tainted the whole universe for me.

Anywho, I digress… I fired up the Netflix app on my Tivo and jumped in. I had been blissfully ignorant about specifics of the Doctor Who universe so I got to start out on the ground floor. All I knew was he is something called a Time Lord and he travels in time having adventures. That, and there is something that shouts EXTERMINATE in a robotic sounding voice. I’m sure that won’t end up being important, right?

Without getting spoilery about important content, here is what this not-yet-Whovian has discovered. The show lets you learn about who The Doctor is without an abundance of exposition. I’m always against blatant exposition, except for Saturday night SyFy movies. For some reason, I let them get away with anything they want.

The Doctor travels with a companion and you learn most of what is happening from their interaction, with just enough extra non-companion knowledge thrown in to let you know when she is about to get into trouble. I say she because thus far the companions are always female. No one ever said The Doctor was a dummy.

By now the astute reader has noticed that I keep calling the main character The Doctor. “Yeah, but doctor who?”, you ask. I say, “Exactly, Doctor Who.” And I cut off the conversation there so neither of us get a cease and desist order from the Abbot and Costello estates. You kind of get the idea though, we aren’t really supposed to know his name other than, The Doctor. We’ll see what happens with that in later seasons.

The show is a lot of fun, but the nitpicker in me pulled back. I’m like many Star Trek fans who like to complain when a TV show breaks its own laws of physics. Doctor Who does not give you that chance, not by a long shot. So, you want to go to another planet do ya? Well, just dance around this console, give this hand crank a couple twists and push this big lit up button, and off you go. Need to go back in time do the same thing but maybe add in a couple lever pulls like you are Doctor Frankenstein in a thunderstorm and you’re all set. Did I mention not a single of these controls is labeled. And they are inside a British police box from the 1900’s. A police box that is waaayyyyyy larger on the inside.

Alright, it’s not really a police box, it’s a TARDIS,  “Time And Relative Dimension In Space”. Ooh, acronyms are good, maybe they are getting me back in. Sometimes The Doctor does give an explanation of how things are working, but it sounds more like “If I put tab A in Slot B the TARDIS ends up in Ancient Rome.” and less like, “Dilithium crystals regulate a matter/anti-matter reaction in a warp core allowing a warp field to be generated allowing the ship to travel faster than the speed of light.” Sure they are both fiction, but I like more sciency sounding fiction.

I thought this lack of technical sounding technobabble would have me out of the show by the fifth episode but I plunged along and started to notice something. The Doctor is a fun character. He is the quintessential explorer who, luckily, is always put in a situation where he needs to quickly find out some important mysterious information to save the day. Sometimes he needs to figure this out to save a couple peoples lives, other times it would be the end of time and space as we know it. You know what, he goes about both of those ‘missions’ with the same amount of enthusiasm. Every little life is sacred to this man, and every mystery is a glorious thing to unravel and put right.

This would be an easy thing to take too far and become overly cheesy, but they pull it off. It’s the sense of wonder that The Doctor has for every situation and everyone he meets that is, in the ninth (first after the reboot) doctor’s words, fantastic.

Follow up, by present day Adam: Like I mentioned at the top of the article, I started this weeks ago. I intended to only cover an introduction to the restart of the show and watch maybe the first season. Like many geeks, I dove in whole hog and caught up on almost all episodes. Thank you Netflix. Now I’m trying to best judge when to watch the final few episodes left before the premier of series seven which was just announced to happen September first. (Side note to the follow up, if you pull a full geek like I did and watch all the episodes straight through via Netflix there are quite a few episodes that do not have a corresponding season but are available on Netflix if you search around. If you look here, all the episodes from 2009 and 2010 fall between seasons 4 and 5. Watch them all, specifically the one pictured below, otherwise you you’ll be confused as hell.)

I found it necessary to get caught up as quickly as possible both because it is an entertaining show, and now that  I had any Doctor Who knowledge I noticed how many references to it infected the intertubes. Pinterest is the worst for spoilers! I only complain because it is so entertaining I wanted to discover the show for myself.

Later seasons took a decidedly more intense and dramatic turn. They slowly transitioned that way, so it wasn’t jarring, but the difference is obvious. It was probably for the best since the show had to develop and grow to keep from getting boring. Every so often there is still a maguffin style fix to their problem, but if you have stuck with the show you come to accept it and it’s just fine.

This will be my first season watching along with the show in real time. I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle not having that next show ready to go in my queue.

Original Article

New Podcast Schedule

@perpetualgeek I’m not blind and missing a hidden podcast somewhere am I?

— Jay (@Agreschn) August 22, 2012

No, Agreschn, you’re not missing something. Not exactly.

You might have noticed that we’ve been releasing a show weekly for a couple of months now. We didn’t want to officially announce that we were switching to this schedule in case it didn’t work out. Luckily, it has. Officially folding the excellent voices of Bryan and Nicole (and Adam soon!) into the rotating cast has definitely helped to keep us on schedule.

The second thing you might have noticed is that there’s no new podcast to download today. This is the other thing that is changing: We’re gonna start releasing our shows on Fridays now. This gives you something to look forward to on the weekends and us some leeway in gathering a full show together.

Hopefully these changes are pleasing to everyone. It’s still gonna be the same show we’ve been doing. So look out for Show #00063 this Friday and until then, let us know what you think in the comments or drop us an email: podcast (at) perpetualgeekmachine (dot) net.

Original Article

Book Review: Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons

At first glance, Shelley Mazzanoble really doesn’t seem like the kind of person I would be friends with or even remotely tolerate. I don’t even know what she looks like, but her writing reads like a prissy girl who would rather paint her nails than talk to a person who plays Dungeons & Dragons, let alone actually roll any dice. But it only took a few pages to realize that I was totally wrong: Mazzanoble is a “girl’s girl,” all right, but she’s also open minded, clever, and incredibly creative. Midway through the book, I found myself wishing I’d found a girl like her to play D&D with back when I was the only female in my second edition campaign. Her hilarious commentary and witty, slightly insane remarks had me laughing through most of the book. 

But it was so much more than that. In between jokes about her slightly oppressive mother, the details of her relationship, catching up on her horrible DVR choices, and her budding relationship with Dungeons and Dragons, there was also the story of a normal human being: a person who was afraid she would never get married, never find someone who understood her, never be able to break out of her routine and let someone else in. She bares her soul, creating a self-help book instead of indulging in all the self-help books her mother mails to her – daily.

The full title of this book is “Everything I Need to Know I learned from Dungeons & Dragons: One Woman’s Quest to Turn Self-Help into Elf-Help.” I was turned off, at first, as so many geek girls are when they face one of their own. We end up putting up our defenses, fearing the other female geek, worried that they will somehow end up being geekier than us. Ironically, somewhere along the line, being “geekier” became synonymous with being “cooler.” And some – not all, certainly! – of us female geeks have a natural competition against one another.

This isn’t a theme in the book, but it’s true nonetheless, and becomes apparent with each turn of the page. It’s time to stop looking at one another as the enemy. Mazzanoble has the right idea in her book – the importance of embracing gamer culture can heal so many of us, socially, emotionally, and mentally. I appreciate Dungeons & Dragons – and all of the social gaming I’m involved in – more and more as the book went on.

This is a great book for anyone who is a geek – not just lady gamers. It’s a book about our culture, and the connections we have with one another, in and out of games. It’s about love and life and family relationships. It’s about guilty pleasures on our DVRs, breaking out of old routines, and, most importantly, choosing who our character is going to worship in our campaign. It’s all the most crucial decisions we make on a daily basis.

tl;dr – If you like this site, you’ll love this book. Female gamers may “get it” more, but there’s nothing gender-specific about the complexities of the geek’s life.

Original Article

Quarriors: Quarmageddon removes the cards and adds in dice to the deckbuilding genre


We’ve reviewed quite a few deck building games here on PGM but just in case you’ve never read any of those reviews (FOR SHAME) here’s the basic gist. Each player starts with the same basic, small, weak deck of cards. They then use those cards to purchase additional cards from a pool of potentials available to all players and add them to their deck. As time goes on the decks get stronger and stronger. They then use that deck to defeat their opponents. That’s super high level since every game is a bit different, but you get the idea. Quarriors has the same basic buy/add gameplay but chucks out the cards and replaces them with dice. Lots and lots of glorious dice.

So each player is out to fight and vie for glory (here glory essentially meaning points). You’ll gain that glory by mustering creatures to your side (represented by the afore-mentioned dice) which you’ll use to attack your opponents. If your attacks get through their defenses that gets you glory.

Turns are comprised of pulling 6 random dice out of your bag and rolling them. You’ll then use some to buy more dice (optional) and if you can muster some to fight beside you. Play continues around like this as players summon, buy, attack, cull and spend resources to try and out-glory their opponents. Naturally there’s more to the rules than that (but not much) but that’s the basic rundown.

The beauty of these types of games is how different they tend to play out from game to game. Each person start with the same pile of dice, compromised mostly of basic Quiddity (currency essentially) that you’ll use to buy creatures and their applicable die from the center of the table, known as the “Wilds.” The interesting part is that the creatures and spells available in the Wilds are drawn at random to start each game, so you never really know what’s going to be available to you in any particular play-through. So your strategy is always going to be a bit different.

So what exactly is Quarmageddon? Well, it offers a pretty sizable expansion to the base Quarriors game in terms of additional dice, creatures and spells… but that’s not all. It also includes a very welcome re-done rulebook with some clarifications and adjustments.

But perhaps coolest is the fact that the box will hold this expansion, the base game, and other expansions moving forward in a gorgeous holder than keeps everything organized and tidy. The original game came in a cool looking tin, but when you were picking out the dice for each game it came down to pushing around a pile of 130 dice looking for the 5 you needed. With Quarmageddon one quick glance and you can see everything in one shot. That alone is worth the price of the upgrade.

The new optional rules there are, to me, the real meat here with this expansion. In our time with the original Quarriors we tended to just find that the game were too rote. If there were dragons available to buy, just race to buy them and boom, you’d likely win. Each game never strayed to far from that, and with such limited choices in what you can do (not to mention that all coming down to the randomness of the dice roll) there really wasn’t any other way we could see it playing out. Not any more.

Quarriors: Quarmageddon introduces 2 new optional (or advanced) rules which really change up the game, to the point where it kind of saved it for me and made it a game I immensely enjoyed. First rules is easy, you can now buy more than one die during your capture phase. One powerful die, or multiple weaker die? It allows for varying strategy.

The second rules is a bit more on the advanced side, but it still an benefit to the game. During your culling phase (where you return dice to the wilds and remove them from your collection) you can only cull the die you score and if you score them you have to cull them! Plainly, if you use the die to get points, you’ve gotta remove it from your hand and back to the table. It’s a brilliant addition and inserts a deep level of strategy to the game. Maybe you collect weak (and easy to buy/replace) dice and score a few points at a time…. or maybe you buy and score huge numbers a little more sporadically. I found it was nice to have a balance and use powerful dice to act as blockers and not score them, letting the weaker guys play offense so to speak. Still, the point is NOW YOU HAVE OPTIONS.

Some of my complaints about the original game still stand, though nothing is ever going to change about them. While I understand it from a price standpoint I do wish the dice were a big larger. The numbers are the sides of the dice (since alot of times the numbers are buried up in the corners) are sometimes hard to read without picking them up for a closer look. The new dice are improved, but I do still wish. My other complaint is really more a pet-peeve. You can probably tell from reading this that they went all out on the “Q” words and puns in this game… and boy did they ever. Quiddity, Quarriors, Quarmadeggon, Quaxos, Quiana etc etc. It makes explaining the game a bit of a pain and I typically just drop the “Q” stuff and just say it plainly.

So, to summerize… incredible upgrade in the box/storage situation, 40 new dice with new characters and spells, a new rulebook and new optional rules that enhance the game in every way with no drawbacks. That there ladies and gentlemen is a good deal. If you played Quarriors but were left underwhelmed then you should really give the game another look with this expansion. If you’ve never played and the idea of deck building with dice seems appealing to you I’d definitely recommend trying out Quarriors… again… with the Quarmageddon expansion. It enhances the game is nearly every way and elevates the game play experience.

tl;dr - If you dig Quarriors, then Quarmageddon is a must. If you were so-so on the game, this expansion makes it worth a second look.

Original Article

Roller Coaster Rampage Video Preview

This is a weird game.

In Roller Coaster Rampage you don’t build roller coasters by laying pieces of track end-to-end but you directly control the train itself with plane-style controls. There are prefixed sections of track that you must connect to and jewels to collect that build up your meter allowing you to accelerate or brake to meet speed requirements. Build in loops, barrel rolls or corkscrews to increase your score as you go along. It’s janky, some parts are broken and yet I keep booting it up. I can’t explain why. Check out some video below where I show off some failed attempts and successful runs of two different tracks:

Original Article

Build giant goblin machines in the Infernal Contraption the card game

Infernal Contraption is a fast, fun, competitive game that pits your giant machine – you being a goblin bodger – against those of your opponents. You draw cards from your parts pile, put them into play, and then turn your machine on, and each card does damage to the other players. This second edition of the game includes the cards from the Sabotage! expansion, adding in cards that let you – you guessed it – sabotage your opponents’ machines. Like certain other card games (*cough* Munchkin *cough*), it can also do damage to friendships and relationships if you’re not careful.

Each player starts out with a pile of cards, distributed evenly depending on the number of players. That deck is called your parts pile. Each player begins the game with seven cards pulled from their own parts pile, as well as one Power Core in the center. From there, you build up your machine. The cards are divided into four types – blue are contraption cards, that let you do things like take cards from your opponents’ parts piles, or put a card from the top of the scrap pile (where cards are discarded) onto the bottom of your parts pile. Green cards are upgrades, which do things like double the effects of any contraption they’re attached to. Brown cards are consumables, which can be used once and then are removed from the game, and red cards are sabotages, which are attached to an opponent’s machine and then removed as well. There are also power sources, which work like power cores – all contraptions must be attached to a power core or a power source in order to work.

Each player can put down one card per turn for free. The beginning power core has four connectors on it that are universal, meaning they connect to any other connector on any card. The rest of the cards have one of five different kinds of sockets (a rare few have universal ones), and you can only connect them to the same kind, meaning you must use some strategy when building up your machine. You must build horizontally, and can only put one card vertically on the top and/or bottom of any card that allows it (power cores, power sources, and contraptions are the only cards with four sockets).

Once you’ve put down your first card, you can put down additional cards – but you must discard a card for every one you put down after the first one. This can get tricky, because the first person to run out of cards in their parts pile loses. So building up your machine early on can be a winning strategy or a losing one – you can burn through cards early to try to take out your enemies, but you can also run out of cards faster. Alternatively, not building up your machine can be just as dangerous, leaving you without a means of tearing down the other players.

After you’ve played your cards, you pull your lever – ka-junk! – and your machine starts up. It runs from left to right, top to bottom, going through each action against one chosen opponent (or more, if you get a consumable that allows you to attack more than one person in a turn). The most dangerous cards are the ones that let you shuffle together all parts piles and redistribute them evenly, and the ones that make you discard your whole hand and draw up again from your parts pile. Ouch!

Infernal Contraption is a fun game that can go quickly, but don’t get too attached to the cards in your hand – depending on those and planning ahead can sometimes blow up in your face when you have to discard everything. And don’t play this with that annoying person you hate playing Munchkin with, because your murderous rage will come to the table. It’s fast enough – even with two players – that humiliating losses won’t take forever.

tl;dr - Fast and entertaining, but can bring out the confrontational competitiveness in some gamers.

Original Article

Ep #00057 - Perpetual Geek Machine Podcast

There’s something you need to know about me (Kevin). We could be very casually chatting and then a disagreement comes up where I believe that whatever fact I am stating is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. I will argue this to the death despite if I realize I’m wrong half way through. I’m not actually angry with you or anything, I’m just adamant…and committed. So that’s what happens in 5 Hit Combo this week.

Here’s the link to give Perpetual Geek Machine: Show #00057 a listen!

Here’s the breakdown on where to find/follow us online!

Show Notes to find Lincoln’s hat:

What’cha Been Doing? (5:11 - 36:20)
  • Some things we don’t argue about:
    • Dan’s back and has checked out the second episode of TellTale’s The Walking Dead game.
    • Spleunky has left him sorta conflicted.
    • He also reveals a deep, dark, filthy secret and rights a wrong. It’s seriously unbelievable.
    • Kevin’s underwhelmed by The Artist but falls in love with Parks & Recreation.
    • He also finished reading the Chaos Walking Trilogy and highly suggests it.
    • Also, don’t stand in front of him when he’s armed with a small hand gun.

Break (36:21 - 39:30)

  • The music I laid in there this week: "Bowie" by Flight Of the Conchords

What’cha Been Doing? Cont’d (39:54 - 53:39)

  • Ryan got his new E-Bike but found some time to watch Senna and play some Endless Space.
Pixel Lincoln Interview (53:40 - 1:26:05)
  • Dan sat down with game designer Jason Tagmire to discuss the upcoming card game Pixel Lincoln.
5 Hit Combo (1:26:06 - End)
  • This week’s topic: Top 5 Movie One-Liners
    • Ryan vs. Kevin with Dan judging.
    • Next Topic: Top 5 Vanity License Plates

Total Run Time - 1:48:56

Original Article

Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game Preview


I can’t figure out who managed to dig into my brain to piece together such seemingly disparate likes of mine, but somehow someone did it. Deck building card game, retro video games and Abraham Lincoln have been combined into some strange real world manifestation of the pleasure centers of my brain. I should probably be upset by the mental invasion, but I get to kill John Booth with a chicken cannon… so I’m not complaining.

Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding game is the card game version of playing an old school side-scrolling NES era video game. You will move your character from left to right across a “screen” of cards, dealing with each one as you go. If it’s an enemy you can defeat it for points or if it’s an item you can buy it with money and add it to your deck. If you can’t then you can always use a card to jump over it and move on.


Of course killing, buying or jumping doesn’t just happen, and that’s where your deck of cards come in. You can only kill an enemy if you can produce the right attack cards in your hand for example. Likewise buying a card requires cards that have spending power. So it matters what cards you add to your deck as the game goes on to better prepare you for the eventual mini-boss and boss fights. When it’s all over whoever accrues the most points (and survives) wins.

The callbacks and references to the old-school videogames are all over Pixel Lincoln, and serve to not only imbue the game with good character and retro vibe, but those thematic elements help define the gameplay as well. For instance when working your way through the level, you always move left to right, dealing with each card in front of you. Once you pass the card you can’t go back and take advantage of it later. And once you trigger more cards from the level deck, those cards behind you “scroll offscreen” so to speak and are gone forever. Just like the old NES games of our youth, once it’s offscreen it may as well have never existed.


You operate with a few lives at your disposal, and there’s even a mechanic to “continue.” There’s some cheat codes, NPC’s handing out quests and more. The card art is likewise dripping with the trappings of a retro game. Pixelated character art, seriously goofy enemies and weird (mostly meat related) weapons are all over the place.

What I found so interesting about Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game is just how different it felt from the other deck building games I’ve played before. I truly love the genre, but after playing so many permutations of it I was starting to feel it getting a bit stale. However Pixel Lincoln managed to find a way to not only make it feel fresh again, but to entice you to dream up new and interesting ways to combine the cards into the different levels.

Since you build the levels out ahead of time, there’s not a huge amount of surprise to what cards you’ll have access to, it’s just the when that you can’t control. In that sense when you’re building out the two levels it’s important that you find a good mix of cards. In our first game we just went random (3 enemies, 3 items, etc) and shuffled them together and off we went. We were able to make it through the levels and to the end boss, but there we just completely got our butts kicked. Second game we picked and chose items and enemies to make sure we had a broader mix, which helped the game immensely.

The final boxed copy of the game is going to include easy/medium/hard level setups to give you some guiding on this, as a bad deck combo could lead to an un-enjoyable game I think. In addition we felt some of the cards were over and underpowered but those are still being fine tuned, which should fix the problems we were running into.

The game isn’t going to turn the world on it’s ear, it’s not revolutionary. That being said, I enjoyed my time with it and am looking forward to playing my prototype copy again soon. But even more than that I’m looking forward to the full retail release, as the complete package just looks fantastic. At which point we’ll do a full review.

As of this posting the Kickstarter for the game has only a few days remaining, so now’s the time to get in. $25 gets you the game, which is quite honestly a great deal.

You should also take a few moments and listen to our interview with Jason Tagmire, where we discuss inspiration and design choices for the game, and what the future holds for Pixel Lincoln.

Original Article

Review: Dyad

Before I talk about Dyad, I want to talk about Kaboom! for the Atari 2600.

In Kaboom!, you were tasked with blocking various bombs being thrown from the top of the screen, from hitting the bottom. It was one of the paddle control games, so no typical 2600 joystick – you used this palm-sized wheel-and-button thing to crank the Breakout-style blocker-sprite back and forth across the screen. (An analog controller at the time was pretty neat, although we didn’t call it that.)

Anyways, I really loved Kaboom!, because for some reason I played it a lot and became  pretty good at it. It was like a rodeo ride. Hang on as long as you can, before the sheer speed of the game overwhelmed you. What I noticed way back then playing Kaboom! was that I seemed to get much better with practice, but none of it was based on any sort of conscious decision-making. You didn’t play Kaboom! and think “ok left, right, left, ooo more left” etc. It was way too fast for that. You had to just let go, not tense up but in fact relax, and let your brain do it’s thing. Near the end, I would play Kaboom! at berserk speeds and almost marvel at what I was doing – it looked like a goddamn computer playing itself, probably, to anyone in the room not bothering to notice that I was still attached to the Atari.

Dyad is one of the only games I’ve played since Kaboom! that gives me that same feeling.

The feeling, the only feeling, in a way. Flow state, whatever you want to call it. Very consciously reaching for the subconscious. Because Dyad is too fucking bonkers, too preposterously over the top in it’s presentation, to be taken seriously by the parts of your brain that, say, decide what to say next in Mass Effect, or what half-wall to duck behind in Uncharted.

It relies on the plasticity of your mind to do it’s thing.

Much talk has been made of the synaesthetic nature of the approach, a word poorly-misused in recent years, sitting on the special hipster wordbench with skeumorphism and biomimicry. I don’t know if Dyad is properly synaesthetic or not as this is a condition of humans. I do know that it uses a lot of colours and pattern-recognition, and shapes that are tuned to sounds. It’s noisy as fuck; not incoherent, but just very very …. splashy. Bloomy. Like driving fast at night in the rain. There’s extra processing you need to do, but the sensation of immediacy adds to the enjoyment.

My first review of this game was pretty short. I sent it to Dan:

"Quite good. You’ll like it a lot. Tempest + Gyrus + Rez".

This is a shitty way to describe a game, as the sum of various other game parts, but I do not mean it in a shitty way. It’s just my natural nerdbrain instinct to try and quantify the various moving parts in a condensed fashion, for the sake of brevity. (As you can tell that part has been wrestled into submission for the purposes of this review.)

From this we can gather: you fly down a tube into the z-axis; it’s very colourful; it’s very abstract; it’s very arcade-like; the music is more than set-dressing, but offers textures and cues, much in the same way the colours and shapes of the enemies and power-ups do. You are propelled forward by pressing the X button to “hook” a node, which yanks the (I guess we’ll call it) dyad forward. This central mechanic is built-out from the initial levels, adding wrinkles and twists across a great many stages to follow. Once hooking is introduced, you learn to hook in pairs of coloured nodes. Once pairs are introduced, you learn to graze the nodes while not hitting them, to gain energy. Once energy is introduced, you learn the lance power, which propels you forward very quickly. And so on.

One gets the impression that the final assembled Dyad experience would be nigh-unexplainable without this type of progression. It becomes a cacophony of input. A huge chunk of the game is iterative tutorial, in order to get to the point where the player is comfortable with several different constructs and visuals, none of which are labelled. (And as a side note, I know this for a fact, as I was thoroughly baffled when I played it at PAX East earlier this year, starting on one of the later levels without the initial context.) New goals are set on each sub-stage to keep things fresh. Some encourage deliberate goals, some ask for breakneck speed. Each stage has a star-rating from 1 to 3, with extra Trophy Levels added upon gaining a 3-star completion of the regular level.

There’s no story here. Not that kind of game. I don’t know what a Dyad is, and it doesn’t matter. The various enemy labels (mines, blockers etc) are only there for convenience sake. Even the menus set the tone and challenge the player at the same time: beginning stage, 2.76 TeV. What is that? I don’t know. It goes up to 14.0 TeV. You now have all the information that I do. Teraelectronvolts. Ok. Doesn’t matter.

Dyad is a game to lose yourself in. The downsides are as follows: I can’t play it all the time, and I’m not as good as I want to be. It will rest easily amongst the handful of luminary downloadables this generation as a true classic.

 

 

Original Article