Sunday, August 19, 2018

Board Game: Cat Lady

Today, we got a new puppy.

This puppy, to be exact.
She doesn't have a name yet. We're working on that.

But yesterday, we played a game about cats!

The Game: Cat Lady
The Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Time: 15 minutes or so
Players: Me, Cael, Kai, Sarah

Game Play: I played this game at GenCon and then bought it. Unlike a lot of cute games, it's got some depth of play and some replay value.

Feasts most fancy, vittles most tender.
Those cubes there are food. The goal is to get victory points, and you get those by feeding cats, collecting sets of cat toys, collecting cat costumes (the cats in the costumes look pretty unhappy, it's kind of adorable), and having enough catnip to go around.

Cards are laid out in a 9x9 grid, and on your turn you take a row or a column. There's a cat figurine that's next to one row or column, and you can't take that one (the cat is in the way, as cats often are), but if you have a spray bottle you can shoo the cat away. Once you take a set, you replace it from the deck and the cat moves there.

Mow.
You can also get dealt lost cat cards, and can trade them in for stray cats (that's them at the bottom of the picture; there's only ever three in a game) or victory points. Play continues until the deck of cards runs out.

This game was basically made for Sarah.
Opinions: Like I said, for a cute game it's got some replay value. The strategy comes in what cats you pick up versus what food you get (you don't get points for cats you don't feed), and what lines you pick up and thus prevent other players from grabbing. It's hard to plan too far ahead, especially in a four-player game, but you can generally at least note what the people going after you need and try to prevent it. That said, in a four-player game the turns move pretty fast, and you have to be careful you don't wind up with a bunch of cats that won't eat chicken and a bunch of red cubes (which are chicken). Leftover food costs you points.

Keep? Yes.

Movie #473: Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum is a comedy directed by Shawn Levy and starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, Owen Wilson, Carla Gugino, Rami Malek, Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs, Mickey Rooney, Steve Coogan, Jake Cherry and Mizuo Peck.

Larry Daley (Stiller) is an often-unemployed would-be entrepreneur who is on the verge of losing access to his son Nick (Cherry) because of his unstable living arrangements. He winds up finding a job at the museum of natural history as the new night guard, as the previous three guards Cecil (Van Dyke), Reginald (Cobbs), and Gus (Rooney) are being downsized. On the first night, though, he finds out that everything in the museum comes to life by the power of a magical tablet on display in the Egypt exhibit. The previous night guards leave Larry a list of how to deal with the exhibits, but he promptly loses it, and only restores order with the help of Teddy Roosevelt (Williams).

Ready to quit, Larry gives it another shot despite the misgivings of his irritable boss (Gervais), and tries to make the museum work, but winds up making an even bigger mess. While trying to reveal to his son the truth of the museum, he learns that the night guards intend to steal the tablet and frame him - the tablet has been prolonging their lives and keeping them strong. A rousing chase through New York ensues, Larry rallies the exhibits, Roosevelt hooks up with Sacajawea (Peck), the weirdness throughout the city gives people interest in visiting the museum, all is well.

It's a cute movie. I have questions about the rules of magic, here (does Teddy really know everything that the real Roosevelt would have? Because holy shit that's amazing). Exhibits appear capable of doing things like eating and drinking - Larry is explicitly told that the lions will eat him, but then, he's told that by the night guards who don't exactly have his best interests at heart. You forget that kind of nitpickery during the movie, though; it's quick and fun and we get to see an ordinary (if somewhat arrogant) guy like Larry find his place, and that's kind of nice.

Plus, I hadn't realized it until last night, but it's cool to see a divorced couple in a movie that doesn't hate each other. Larry's ex (Kim Raver) is perfectly fine with Larry and their relationship as it stands, but she's understandably concerned about him getting evicted repeatedly and what that kind of instability is doing to their son. She's not played as a shrew or nagging, and even Paul Rudd as her new fiancee comes off as a genuinely nice guy (look, kids, it's Ant-Man!).

Overall, it's sweet and it's watchable. I remember thinking the sequel wasn't as good, but I haven't seen it in a while I never saw the third one.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Night of the Creeps

Chill: This is Halloween, Halloween, etc.

Yesterday we started a new Chill case with some new envoys! (We changed the player lineup because some folks were having trouble making it to the game consistently, which is something that always sucks to do, but like, kinda needs to happen if you want to keep playing.)

Anyway, new envoys:

  • Beth Anne Stallard, played by Jenn. Beth Anne is an All-American farm girl, cheerleader, very "normal" through and through...except she used to go have adventures with the monster under the bed. She isn't actually sure what that means in Unknown terms, or indeed, if it even happened, but she's always been a bit attuned to the Unknown and joined SAVE after taking a sociology course with Dylan Reeves (one of the other players' envoys). Her Drive is to be free.
  • Mohammed Al-Zaid, played Jerry. Mohammed was born in the US to immigrant parents (we're still working out where his parents were from). He was recruited by the CIA to be an "interpreter," which he discovered really meant "interrogator." He saw some pretty awful things over in the Middle East, just in terms of what people will do to people, and while in Syria he met Hayat Nejem and her mentor Mafuz El-Hasham. When he went back to the States, he decided to join up with SAVE here, and found the Boise HQ (his parents live here in Boise).
So, in-game, today is October 27, 2017. Jordan Ramsey checks her Facebook and discovers a status from a friend and former coworker that concerns her:

Jordan messages Wendy and asks to meet her for coffee; Wendy says she has to pick Giles up from preschool, but then she's free. They meet up at Crepe Scott!, a local coffee and crepe joint. Jordan notes that Giles (4) is tired and fussy, but calms a bit after he eats. They don't want to talk about this in front of Giles, so they make small talk - Wendy and her wife Janet are doing fine, apart from this "haunted house" dealie. Giles is excited for Halloween, or he was, at least. They head to a playground so Giles can run around, and Wendy explains the last week.

Tuesday, the power went out - she calls it a "blackout," but as Jordan notes, it was just their house that went dark. That night, Giles and Wenday saw spiders crawl out from under the couch - hundreds of them. And then, before Janet saw them, they were gone. 

Wednesday night, the power went out again (just at their house), but nothing else weird happened. 

And then yesterday, all of the books in the house that mentioned Halloween wound up on the kitchen table opened to the page about trick-or-treating. Wendy though Giles had done it, but he was napping. That night, the power went out again, but the TV stayed on and switched over to a horror movie. 

Jordan suggests she could have a look around the house, and see if anything's obvious amiss - maybe they're being pranked. They head home (though Wendy has to talk Giles into coming out of the climber; he does not want to go home, and she reports he's been very difficult to pick up from preschool of late). When they get there, Giles immediately scampers around back to his sandbox. Jordan asks if they'd like to come out to the ranch and have dinner, get out of the house for a while, see the horses. Wendy agrees, texts Janet to make sure, and then goes inside to get some stuff for the trip. Jordan walks around back to keep an eye on Giles, and finds him building a castle in his sandbox.

Jordan shows him pictures on her phone of Sweet Baby Jesus in various sweaters and some of the other animals at the ranch to get him talking (Giles isn't talkative at the best of times, and he's pretty obviously spooked). He finally opens up enough to say that something inside is "trying to scare him", but he doesn't know what and, of course, he's four, so the kinds of questions he can answer are somewhat limited. Jordan offers him a hug and picks him up, and the wind picks up, blowing loud and chilly around the house. Jordan uses Disrupt on Giles, just in case there's something actively targeting him, but nothing happens. She Senses the Unknown, and gets a Colossal success. 

The temperature drops precipitously around her. She senses an entity in or near the house. It's very powerful, and it's very unhappy with Jordan. She takes Giles and gets back to the car. She's definitely unprepared for this.

On the way back to the ranch, she makes contact with Willa Lane, who has some expertise with ghosts. She tells her to round up some envoys, as this has the potential to be a nasty one. Maybe don't use the newbies? Willa contacts Dee, but all Dee has on offer are the newbies - Edward and BB are both in California at the moment, Dylan is teaching, and Jeanie is recovering from injuries sustained by a scarecrow (actually Willa is, too, but they're healing). That leaves Blake Wheeler, Beth Anne Stallard, and Mohammed Al-Zaid. 

They all meet up at the ranch and have a quick powwow while Dee takes Giles and Wendy out to look at horses. Willa, hearing Jordan's report, says that it definitely sounds like a ghost, and asks about Giles' situation. Jordan tells them that Janet and Wendy adopted Giles about a year ago, but doesn't know anything about his before that. 

The envoys decide that maybe they could go check out the house while the Bliss family is here; that would keep them out of harm's way and give them a chance to learn more. Dee can definitely entertain them (that's what she does). They wait until Janet gets there, and Jordan notes that Janet is walking with a limp - she twisted her ankle the other day (but doesn't say how). Jordan talks to Wendy and Janet and offers to check out their house and make sure that no one is messing with them; Mohammed notes that he has some investigative expertise. The women agree (Janet seems a little hesitant), and hand over a key.

The envoys take a couple of cars and gear up. Willa points out that going in blind, it's better to take too much than too little. They arrive at the house and slowly approach the door. Jordan opens it, but then it slams shut and words appear on the door in blood: WHERE JILES

Beth Anne decides to approach this differently and sits on the porch, breathes deep, and uses her Leave the Body discipline. Willa, using Eyes of the Dead, sees her do it and can communicate, but the rest of the envoys can't (Mohammed puts her body in the car so that she's out of harm's way if things go south). Beth Anne pulls herself up onto the roof and peers in the window to Giles' room, but can't really see much from here. And then, suddenly, a woman's face appears in the glass - she's chalk white and has burning blue eyes. Beth Anne stumbles back and reports this to the others. Definitely a ghost.

The envoys reopen the door and enter the house, Beth Anne with them (she comes down from the roof; do note that at Beginner level at this discipline, she can neither fly nor pass through solid objects). The door slams again, shutting them in, and Willa notes that this means the ghost is telekinetic. The envoys decide to take a risky move, but one that's worked before: They'll have Willa use Voice of the Dead to summon the ghost into herself, and Jordan will use Line of Defense to keep it trapped. 

Willa summons the ghost, and Beth Anne sees her float down through the ceiling and settle into Willa. Willa, a Master at this discipline, remains conscious throughout the experience and immediately feels drugged and euphoric, as though she's on powerful painkillers. Jordan completes the circle, and Mohammed steps up to interrogate. 

He notes that the ghost's body language is deferent, yet defiant - as though she's been in this kind of situation before. He asks who she is, and she asks if he is a cop. Rolling the dice, Mohammed says he is, and she promptly refuses to talk to him and calls him "pig." She asks where Giles is.

Jordan tries to change things up a little and appeal to her obvious interest in Giles. The ghost tells her that she's "just trying to make it fun" and "show Giles how much fun Halloween is". She demands to know where Giles is, but Jordan won't tell her, and the ghost immediately gets defensive and hurts Willa. Willa feels pain start in her head and work downward, she feels trigeminal pain as one of her teeth cracks, and the others see scars begin near her ear. Jordan breaks the seal to use Disrupt and the ghost leaves Willa, but Willa collapses, badly hurt. 

Meanwhile, Beth Anne has been watching this, and realizes that the ghost is most likely what SAVE calls a poltergeist - a ghost that has, for whatever reason, attached itself to a child. She isn't likely to hurt the child deliberately, but she's very likely to do it accidentally, and worse poltergeists are powerful and impulsive. Willa, before the injury, has come to a similar conclusion - this ghost is telekinetic, but it doesn't need to throw things. It can kill by sheer Evil Way power. 

The envoys decide it's time to fall back, and she gets Willa to the car to get some medical attention. Blake and Mohammed stand by their car and wait for Beth Anne to return to her body, but Beth Anne decides to run upstairs first. She looks through Giles room and finds residue on the walls from other blood-messages, stuff that wouldn't be visible to the naked eye but that she can see as a "ghost." It's pretty innocuous on its face: "BOO! TRICK R TREAT! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!" but she does note that "Giles" is always misspelled as "Jiles." She leaves the room, and finds the ghost blocking her way. The ghost takes a swing and Beth Anne manages to duck out of the way. Beth Anne says she wants to help with Halloween, and the ghost softens, but still just demands to know where Giles is. Beth Anne says that she'll bring him back (in an attempt to placate the ghost), and the ghost says that if she doesn't, she'll burn the place down. 

Beth Anne flees to the car, and everyone heads out. Willa needs an emergency dentist and some good drugs...and she notes, once those drugs kick in, that this feels familiar. 

The envoys talk through their data. Mohammed guesses that the ghost may have become addicted to opioids following a dental incident; that might even have been how she died. Maybe she was Giles' birth mother? Mohammed does a little digging, but Botches the roll, and learns a lot about opioid addiction in Idaho, but doesn't turn up any likely candidates. Based on the ghost's clothes, she's contemporary, though, so that helps a little. 

Blake asks Darnell if there's a way to track opioid prescriptions, but Darnell says not unless you know the doctor or pharmacist in question, and even then it's iffy. The envoys figure that the ghost is fixated on Giles, not the house, and maybe burning the place down is preferable to the ghost killing someone? Not ideal, but hardly worst-case. In any case, they figure they'd better talk to the Blisses and make sure they don't go home.

When they get to the ranch, though, they learn from Dee that the women left an hour ago. They had to head home. Giles was getting sleepy. 

The envoys get back in the car and head out. Willa insists on going, though she's injured and drugged. This ghost is dangerous, and they're going to need her.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Blades in the Dark: Sssssh, We Have a Boat

Last night was Blades! No actual blades were employed. Weird.

So, last time, the crew set up a score meant to give themselves a cover operation. This time, they carried that out.

The crew of the weird surveyor boat comes ashore to eat in Nightmarket, and the scoundrels are ready. Cage and One-Eye go aboard while Siren and Copper stand lookout. I got a critical on the engagement roll, lucky fuckers, so before anyone goes aboard, they note one crew member leave after the others and sneak into a bar for a drink.

One-Eye and Cage find a map nailed to the outside wall of the cabin. They study it briefly, and note a number of markings in the canals around Doskovol, as well as three out in the bay that seem familiar - they're roughly where the crew dropped those bells. One-Eye employs an alchemical method of duplication for the map (she spreads a thick, stretchy stuff over it that holds an image), and then they slip into the cabin to try and find the papers they need.

The cabin is something of a mess - desks and paperwork. One-Eye, though, as a creative herself, knows that you don't put papers you'll need at a moment's notice with your ongoing projects, and finds the ID papers in a box nailed to the wall. She tries to use the putty trick to duplicate them, but the papers have been treated with something that starts to react to the putty, so she pulls it off.

Cage, fortunately, has brought a different method - a lantern and flash-powder arrangement that can copy written stuff onto paper. They don't need an exact copy, after all, just something with enough detail that One-Eye can fake it.

Outside, Siren and Copper note the flashes from the cabin and figure it must be going well. They see the guy in the bar come out and make for the boat. Copper tries to intercept him and get him chatting, but he's not interested, so she coldcocks him to put him out. Problem is, Button then assumes it's time to fight, and jumps on the guy. Copper manages to pull him off before he kills the poor sucker, and Siren drags him to an alley out of sight.

Cage and One-Eye finish making the copies and are about to head out, Cage notes some drawings that catch his eye. They appear to be connections between some of the marked points in the city, drawn into Tycherosi runes. These are the kinds of the things you might use to summon something, perhaps. He makes some copies...

...which, of course, has given the rest of the crew enough time to come back from lunch. Thinking quickly, Siren gets in their way and tries to act sick, and when that doesn't work, she loses her lunch on their shoes. This gets their attention, and one of them tosses her a coin to make her go away.

Copper, meanwhile, helps the guy in the alley back to the boat, apologizes for her dog, and pays the guy a coin for his understanding. He probably wasn't supposed to be drinking on the job anyway, so he doesn't say anything.

Cage and One-Eye take the opportunity to hop off the boat, and the crew all walks away. They head back to the hideout, and One-Eye gets to work on her forgery. Cage, of course, starts doing some research, and recruits Siren and Copper to help out.

At the end of the day, though, he's not entirely sure what's happening here. It could be that this boat is looking into the desecrated hollows in the canals, the disturbance in the Void Sea, or both. He is able to determine, though, that the Church of Ecstasy seems to be behind it.

The scoundrels do some downtime stuff; training, vice indulging, and whatnot. Cage presents his theory to Lord Penderyn to try and get back into his good graces, while One-Eye anchors her new eye with bone screws. Copper trains Button to only attack on command, since this has been a problem before. The Fog Hounds push against the crew, trying to suck up some of their clients, but they push back, not wanting to cede ground.

And then the crew decides that they going to take the job they've been avoiding for months: Stealing deathseeker crow eggs from the Spirit Wardens. They contact Grull and find that the job is still open; a couple of other crews have tried and failed, though, so security might be tight. The scoundrels do some research and figure that the best way in is directly into the rookery via zipline. One-Eye mixes up some alchemical goo to hold the eggs safely (they're no good broken, and they have to be to Grull within an hour), and they figure they'll zip in from a taller building across the street, grab the eggs, anchor the line to a lower point, zip out, and meet Grull near Clerk Street.

This is the most complicated job they've taken in a while, and they're happy to be stealin' and smugglin' again. Next time, we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Character Creation: Unsung

GenCon ate the last of my summer and now I'm back at work, and I didn't get as far ahead as I'd like, but I'm caught up, so that's nice. My plan is to keep to one character a week and use holidays and days off to try and get ahead, and then maybe jump ahead during Xmas break in December.

But for now, here's a game that was in a bundle a long time ago. I've opened the PDF before but never quite managed to make the character.

The Game: Unsung
The Publisher: Ivanhoe Unbound
Degree of Familiarity: None.
Books Required: Just the one.

Unsung is an RPG about people who have to uphold moral codes but are put in tough moral predicaments. It references the Forge a lot and mentions other games that I enjoy, like Sorcerer, and reading it, it looks like there's some interesting stuff going on. The game doesn't have a default setting, and though it promises sample settings later in the book, those "sample settings" are more like "genres." The examples of play in the book (and thank you very much for those) focus on a SWAT team, and the game seems to have the most love for cops. One of the alternatives is criminals, though; you can play members of a crime family. I kinda like that, actually. I'm in the mood for something dark.

To wit, here's my theme song:


It's a song about loving someone even though the relationship is harsh and the world is dirty. I like that. Let's have a look at chargen!

We start with Concept. My character's name is Jimmy White. Jimmy grew up in the roughest part of the city and his older brother got wrapped up in drugs and the dealing of said drugs. Jimmy's parents tried to shield him, but he looked up to his brother and his brother didn't really do much to try and keep Jimmy from all the violence, and Jimmy's parents were killed in a home invasion from a rival gang.

That's all ancient history. Jimmy and his brother (Paul) took care of that. Paul is upstate doing 8 years for manslaughter, and Jimmy is part of the gang. They pull heists, run protection, run some drugs, stuff like that. Jimmy is making his bones and paying his dues.

Jimmy is also in love, and it's weird, because Jimmy's in love with a guy. I mean, it's not weird (Jimmy doesn't much care what kind of sex you're into), but it's weird for Jimmy because he's always thought of himself as straight. But this guy, Miles, he lives in the same neighborhood, and he's definitely at least familiar with the Life, and Jimmy knows he shoots up sometimes. Jimmy and Miles spend a lot of nights together, and they don't talk much, because Jimmy doesn't know how to be a boyfriend to a guy. He just knows that being with Miles feels right, and he's not sure what that means for him or how he's gonna tell Paul.

OK, good start. Now we do Traits & Descriptors. There are 5 traits (well, 6, but I don't have to buy the sixth one). I get 55 points to spend, but I think they start at 1. Higher is better and max is 19. Also, each one gets a descriptor (kinda like an Aspect).

Starting with Savvy, which represents education and knowledge. Jimmy hasn't been to school since 8th grade. I'll give him "Learned from his Brother" as the descriptor and put 10 points in.

Sense: Mental quickness and perception. I want this to be better. "Sharp as a Whip" is the descriptor, and I'll put 13 points in, which takes me to 14. I've spent 23.

Guts: Ability to deal with gross or stressful stuff. "In the Life Since Age 12", and I'll put 10 points in.

Meat: All the physical shit. I picture Jimmy as being quick, but not beefy. Hmm. I also have 18 points left. I think we'll put 10 here, and make the descriptor "Lean & Hungry."

Responsibility: Basically my ethical compass. I only have 8 points left, so that's where they go. "Family First" is my Descriptor.

And then there's Instinct. It starts equal to 20 - Responsibility, so since my Responsibility is 9, my Instinct is 11. Descriptors here are supposed to be what the character is like when out of control, so I'll say "Looks for a Leader." Jimmy isn't self-directed at the best of times, and if shit goes down he's a follower.

I'd start a session with one Gift Point and I don't start with any Retirement Points, so...I'm done, I guess. Wow. That was easy.


Board Game: Adorable Monsters

Hey, finally one of these.

The Game: Adorable Monsters
The Publisher: Zach Weisman, I guess? I don't see a website and there's another game with the same title taking up Google hits.
Time: 15 minutes or so
Players: Me, Michelle, Jenn, JR

Rar.
Game Play: Players get a monster (draw two, pick one), and then they spend some time placing adjectives on it. Adjectives can be scary ("big," "cumbersome," "eight-legged") or cute ("bumbling," "nice"), and obviously you just want to put scary adjectives on your monsters.

Players can then either dump their hand of cards and redraw, or challenge another player to a Scare-off. During a Scare-off, everyone can play cards on either monster, but no one draws more cards, and once everyone is done the winner is the one with more scary adjectives. The winner takes the loser's monster card as victory point, the loser draws a new monster and on we go.

JR builds a monster.
Monsters have different special powers; the merman wins ties, the dragon prevents uninvolved players from interfering in a Scare-off, and so on. In general, though, it's pretty straightforward.

My beastly, swift, stealthy, big yeti.

Opinions: The game is fun to play and the art is really nice. The monsters' powers are interesting enough to warrant some replay value. I've got three main issues.

First, some editing would be good. "Bumbuling", f'rex, is on an adjective card.

Second, some of the adjectives aren't so great. Like, "blind" is a cute adjective, which strays a little far from the mission as well as being ableist.

Finally, some of the rules aren't clear. The Teenager (yes, there's a monster called the Teenager, hee hee) can redirect "attacks" to other players, but the word "attack" is never used in the instructions. I had to look up the Kickstarter and fortunately someone else had asked (she can redirect Scare-offs to other players, which makes more sense).

Generally, though, it's a fun little game and has enough depth of gameplay to be worth keeping, which isn't true of a lot of "cute" games.

Michelle and Jenn, building monsters. 

Keep? Yes.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Movie #472: The Next Karate Kid

The Next Karate Kid is the fourth movie in the series, starring Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, Hillary Swank, Michael Ironside, Chris Conrad, and Michael Calivieri. It's pretty awful.

Daniel-san has departed for...well, we don't know (and I didn't see Part III so I don't know where they left it). Mr. Miyagi (Morita) travels to Boston to receive a medal for his WWII service, and winds up staying with the widow of an Army pal (Constance Towers, the widow, not the pay). He meets her orphaned teenage granddaughter Julie (Swank), who is way angry and lashing out because her parents died. Miyagi sends Louisa back to California while he stays and takes care of the house, to give them a little time apart.

Julie's high school is run by the evil Dugan (Ironside) and his evil band of evil "teens" (seriously, exactly no one in this movie passes for a high school student), and is on the verge of getting expelled because...Dugan runs this joint, I guess? She winds up getting involved with Eric (Conrad), but then gets suspended for two weeks and Miyagi takes her to a Buddhist monastery where she learns karate, and then comes home and goes to prom with Eric, but that winds up in a fight between her and Ned (Calivieri, the head evil teen, who just straight-up assaulted her earlier in the movie). She beats him handily, but then Dugan starts going nuts, so Miyagi steps in and whups his ass.

OK, where to start. First of all, Karate Kid at least established the characters and spent time on the relationship between Daniel and Miyagi, but also gave Daniel some agency and let him fuck up a bit. Here, Julie spends a lot of time getting blackmailed by everyone, and not just Ned ("come with me to the docks or I'll have you kicked out of school"), but also Eric ("say you'll miss me or I won't feed your pet hawk") and even Miyagi ("do your homework or I won't teach you karate"). Also, Julie shifts from angry and nigh-feral to calm and contemplative by spending time at the monastery and repeating Miyagi's fortune-cookie wisdom, and that's on-brand for the series, at least, but part of that shift involves wearing skirts and becoming more feminine, and that's kind of an issue?

But the thing I find strangest is Miyagi's "final battle" against Dugan. I think it's mostly because the writers figured the audience was a-hankerin' to see Miyagi kick ass, but like, not really? The series has always been about Miyagi teaching his student karate, and the application of those lessons not just in a fight, but in life. But there's none of that here, it's just Julie beating up one dude, and then Dugan refusing to let it drop, so Miyagi has to "save" her by finishing the fight.

Possible I'm giving this more analysis than it needs, but that's kind of what I do. Anyway, the script is weak, the humor is trite, the performances are kind of overwrought (even from Swank, who's actually a good actress), and the only one who seems like he's in the right place is Ironside, who's kind of made a career of playing "scenery-chewing asshole."

My Grade: D-
Rewatch Value: IINSIAIFWT

Next up: Night at the Museum

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Week Ago, We Played Blades

Dammit. I really meant to do this before we left for GenCon Ah, well.

So! Last time, the scoundrels did some stabbing with their blades in the dark. This time, they kinda took it easy; we didn't start a new score, just did a bunch of prep.

Part of the issue is that the heat is very much in Saigon Doskovol; the crew's wanted level is high and they're trying to avoid spending a year in prison. They decide to take a couple of months off, spending some coin to take some downtime action. Copper lowers the Heat level a bit, while One-Eye works on installing and calibrating her new eye. Cage works to get back in Lord Penderyn's good graces, and Siren does some training.

From there, the crew starts to look at how to expand their operation. They toy with the notion of finally dealing with Cricket and getting a luxury fence, with expanding the Ruby and getting a tavern, with expanding their turf, or with finding a cover operation. Given that their exploits of late have gotten loud, they decide to pursue the latter.

They talk about muscling in on a goat-carriage operation like the one that Copper's cousin runs. They ask Grull about it (Grull is a cabbie and he works for someone, but he's tight-lipped about whom), and he mentions that taking over such an operation isn't hard, if you're willing to be mean about it. They also hear about a strange new boat that's out on the canals, that no one is messing with.

The crew spends some time following and investigating this boat, and in their information gathering they learn that it seems to be surveying - it's taking samples and readings in places in the canals where the currents are strange. The crew discusses a few options; some of them don't want to mess with it (Cage's contact Flint says that it might be a conspiracy with powerful people above it, or it might just be basic government stuff that takes years to do its study and never pans out), while others figure that having a boat that no one messes with because it's beneath their notice might be useful.

At the end of the day, they decide it's worth a look, so they decide to forge (or steal) the papers that the boat is using. They discover that the staff disembarks to eat in Nightmarket, and choose that as their point of infiltration. Next time, we'll see how that plays out.