Category Archives: Impressions and Observations

First Impressions: Wayward Sisters

Guys, I just watched Supernatural 13×10, “Wayward Sisters,” which is also the backdoor pilot for a spinoff series by the same title. And WOW, I was blown away.  I was crying before the intro finished! The basic premise is a story focusing on Jody Mills and the girls she’s taken into her home–as well as Sheriff Donna Hanscum. You’ve got the classic Supernatural monster-fighting thing, but you’ve also got the whole family dynamic. In other words, it’s a story that stays true to its roots, to the things that make Supernatural so special to fans. But it also provides a shift in focus, centering on some powerhouse fan-favorite female characters like Claire Novak as well as some fabulous recent additions to the cast like Patience and Kaia. It also deals with a very different family dynamic, with the whole foster-family sisterhood thing, even including characters who aren’t hunters as main characters. Plus, it seems to have a greater focus on diversity, which is really cool. Seriously, Wayward Sisters is something that a lot of fans have been wanting for a long time, and if it makes it past the pilot into a complete show, it will be an incredible thing. Go check it out, and give this amazing show the support it deserves!

The CW/Written by Robert Berens & Andrew Dabb/Directed by Phil Sgriccia/Starring  Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Kathryn Newton, Katherine Ramdeen, Clark Backo, & Yadira Guevara-Prip

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Sushi Go Party! (Card Game)

By Gamewright

Ok, so this is totally not story related in the slightest, but my brother just recently introduced me to this absolutely adorable and slightly geeky card game that I’m just dying to share, so. . . . I should also note that this is not a full review; more like a first impressions post, since I’ve only played this a few times with the same group of people. But I think I’ve got the gist of the gameplay, and I can say with complete honesty that this game is a lot of fun.

Sushi Go Party! is a card game in which you are trying to assemble a group of cards (posing as adorable sushi and other edibles with super-cute faces) to get the highest number of points. Different combinations of cards yield different point values, and everyone’s competing against each other for the limited high-point combinations. The catch? You only get to play one card from your hand, then you pass your hand on and get the next person’s hand to play from instead! Sounds confusing, but it’s surprisingly easy to catch onto the rules once you get going. Much more difficult is actually amassing reasonable points, which involves a good bit of strategizing and adaptability. This is a game that would be great for teaching kids about statistics, probability, and strategy, but it’s also challenging enough to make adults have to think. There are a lot of choices as to which combinations you’re trying for, allowing for different difficulty levels as needed. Gameplay is pretty quick as well, making this a great party game. Theoretically, this is valid for 2-8 players, but I personally think it would work best with 5-6 (we played with 6, which was perfect). Oh, and have I mentioned that this is adorable?! The art style and the way the whole concept is framed as though you’re crafting a lunch with sushi, appetizers, desserts, etc. is just too utterly cute–and the style is very Japanese. Definitely recommended for those of you who like card/party games.

 

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Pathfinder (Tabletop RPG)

Released by: Paizo

In light of my D&D group’s being on hold for the indefinite future due to schedule complications, I’ve started playing another tabletop RPG called Pathfinder with another group of friends. This game is very similar to Dungeons & Dragons, being based on edition 3.5 of that very game. However, unlike D&D, Pathfinder is released under an Open Game License–so all the rules and stuff are available for free (see the Pathfinder SRD website for details). This makes it a very appealing option for those who are interested in trying this type of game but who don’t want to spend all the money on books that is a necessary startup cost for most of these sorts of games. (Although, if you are interested, Paizo does also have physical books available–see their website for more details.) As far as gameplay goes, it’s mostly very similar to D&D, although I’ve never played 3.5, so I can’t compare precisely; however, there are tweaks that were made both to differentiate the two and to cater to player preferences. Most noticeable differences: Pathfinder has lots more skills and a different system for leveling up on skills, numbers in Pathfinder get a lot bigger a lot faster than in D&D, there’s a lot more focus on strength-scaled fighting, and you just generally get more feats and extra stuff. It can actually be a bit overwhelming to someone accustomed to 5th edition D&D, but it’s growing on me.

While playing with a different group, I noticed some interesting aspects of different parties’ playing styles–and this has nothing to do with Pathfinder specifically, just my personal rambling observations. Sorry. But I found it interesting. For one, I’ve never played with modules (pre-defined adventures) before; it does help to keep things moving and keep the party on track, but I kind of miss the freedom to do super-random stuff and just see what happens . . . and I feel like it’s harder to roleplay when we’re trying to stick to a pre-defined plot. The other interesting observation is the differing focus groups have on either roleplaying or on battles and the adventure itself. Previously, I’ve played with groups that found the battles and monsters as a means to the roleplay and with groups that balanced and mixed the two in absurd combinations. With this particular group, there’s a greater focus on getting to the next fight or challenge and less of a focus on the roleplay aspect. Both are good; I just find the contrast intriguing.

In any case, if you’re interested in trying a tabletop RPG, but you’re not really invested yet, Pathfinder is a great way to try the whole concept out. Likewise, if you’ve previously played other tabletop RPGs, it might be an interesting way to add variety. Enjoy!

 

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Dread (Tabletop RPG)

Publisher: The Impossible Dreamdread game

Designers: Epidiah Ravachol & Nathaniel Barmore

Just recently, I was introduced to a rather unique tabletop RPG called Dread. I found this game to be most interesting to play. It involves many of the elements typical to other tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, but rather than using, say, dice for ability checks, players have to pull from a Jenga tower to see if they can successfully complete a task. This makes the game particularly well suited for horror and suspense style stories, since (as you can imagine) the tension builds more and more the longer the game goes on. Also, since a large number of players will likely be removed from the game at some time during play (since your character is removed if you knock down the tower), this is great for one-shots. I think that, while I still prefer a more fantasy-themed longer-duration game, Dread is pretty interesting for something different on occasion. If you like tabletop RPGs at all, I think it would be worth trying at least.


For more information, you can check out The Impossible Dream’s Dread page here or their WordPress blog here. Enjoy!

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Dungeons & Dragons

So, my family just started playing D&D together. It’s a first for several of us, and it’s been an intriguing experience so far. I’ve enjoyed the way it pushes the imagination and stretches our story- and character-building skills. Plus, it provides some interesting insights into the people you’re playing with . . . as well as some amusement when they play characters that are distinctly different from their own personalities. Fun! I’m not saying roleplaying games are for everyone, but I do think this is a fun way to actively create a story with other people as you go along. And I’m all about experiencing story in all sorts of forms. It’s been a fun experience so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing where our game will go from here.

(I may also be writing this to excuse my lack of a decent book review so far this week . . . I’ve been occupied!)

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Bookbuying Tips

I’ve been asked more than once how I get so many books. The short answer is that people will find ways to afford the things that they are truly passionate about. But beyond that essential concept, there are some practical steps you can take to make growing your library less painful for your wallet.

  1. Establish a good relationship with your local library. Checking out books at the library first is a great way to screen books so that you only spend money on the books you really want in your personal library. Most libraries also sell books they are done with for very reasonable rates–I’ve seen library sales where you can buy a brown paper bag full of books for $2.
  2. Make a point to discover your local used book store(s). Large national bookstores are making it less common to frequent local stores, but if you’re looking for bargains, a local used bookshop is really the way to go. Their stock might be a bit unpredictable, but it’s possible to find some unexpected treasures if you’re willing to dig a bit. (Note: don’t forget to check the bookshelf at places like Goodwill, too.)
  3. Get a membership with a national bookseller, and get on their e-mail list. For books you can’t find at a used bookshop, a major bookstore is a good way to go. If you have one in town, get a membership–it will make impulse buys less expensive. (This is assuming that you will buy enough from them either at the local store or at their online store for the savings to cover the cost of membership–do the math before you buy the membership.) Even if you don’t get a membership, most major book retailers have an e-mail list and will send out coupons fairly regularly. If in doubt, ask a cashier–a lot of them don’t offer because they’re tired of being turned down.
  4. Take the time to shop around online. Please support your local bookstores. Having said that, sometimes it is possible to find much better bargains online. However, don’t just assume that a book is cheaper because it’s online; take the time to compare prices. Also, don’t just check out the major retailers’ sites–there are several excellent sites dedicated to selling used books at very reasonable prices.

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Authors and Their Influence

In the course of many years of reading, I have frequently been impressed by the amount of influence writers have on those who follow them–or conversely, the extent to which authors are influenced by the books they have read. Although a writer’s style is completely his own, there will always be a certain spice, if you will, of the authors he has read that seeps in and pervades his works. I find it particularly enjoyable when authors openly acknowledge the writers who have had the greatest influence on them. For one, seeing the principle of influence at work is fascinating; it is often possible to see clearly the colors of the one author in the other’s writing. In addition, I have discovered numerous excellent writers in this way. I find that I frequently will like the books that are liked by the people whose books I like. I would encourage readers to pay attention to this influence as they are reading and to investigate the books that have influenced their favorite authors. It’s an exciting way to expand your library.

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