Two New Trailers

Both Marvel!

First, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2”:

Next, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”:

My thoughts…

GotG 2 looks absolutely fantastic. The second best trailers Marvel has ever done (next to the amazing stuff they put out for “Civil War”). Almost everything about that trailer works. I suppose the action seems pretty pedestrian, but when was that ever the point in the GotG films?

“Spider-Man”…hmmm (I almost wrote SMH until I realized that was the acronym for “Shaking my head”. Pluses: Tom Holland, avoiding the origin story completely (since we don’t need it), being the first movie to actually have street level superheroics (which I’ve always been fond of), and an EXTREMELY retro costume that hearkens allllll the way back to Spidey’s very first appearance (WEB WINGS!!!!).

Here’s the thing, though: None of that has to do with the trailer (except that it makes it clear we’ll be seeing some street level superheroics, which is nice).

What the trailer DID show:

– As mentioned, the heroics appear to be relatively low scale in comparison to the other Marvel movies – the only other Marvel film that didn’t involve huge world-wide or worse catastrophes was “Ant-Man”* (I suppose “Captain America” too, but that was barely even a superhero film – aside from some fancy jumping and Hugo Weaving’s face it was basically just a PG war movie after you get past the super-serum at the beginning). I can’t confirm that this will be the case for sure, of course, but it SEEMS that way. Either way, the focus on street level heroics is something the films have never done and is much appreciated.

– “Homecoming” seems to be trying to get a balance in its humor level between the more serious Marvel films and the outright comedies of “Ant-Man” and “GotG”. This is a good sign, since that’s exactly the tone “Spider-Man” should shoot for.

– The “John Hughes movie meets superhero movie” vibe is very strong, which is great. I approve.

– I really like the plot arc they’re going for. It’s something really different from Marvel’s other films, and I appreciate that.

The downsides…

There seems to be a LOT of diversity casting going on, from Peter’s best friend to his romantic interests. In theory, this makes sense. Peter goes to High School in NYC, right? Of course it would skew very multiracial. It’s something they hardly would have considered back when Spider-Man began.

But – and maybe it’s just me – this sort of thing makes me jumpy. The truth is that decisions like this are never made in a vacuum; we live in a society that is pushing diversity on us from every angle…and the people pushing diversity are almost always the SJW’s. See the comments from the creators of “Rogue One” and “The Force Awakens”. See “Hamilton”. See Kevin Feige fumbling around while trying to justify casting a Scottish woman to play the oriental mystic in “Doctor Strange” (As good as Tilda Swinton was I mourn the missed opportunity to cast Jackie Chan). In Hollywood, everything is calculated: It’s never just about story. There’s always an underlying narrative being pushed.

That said…the truth is, this is right in line with the Marvel formula. Marvel plays a very careful balancing act when it comes to race. Their theory – at least in their films – seems to be this:

– Cast a lead who seems like he’d be a good fit for the character, regardless of what race the character might be. So far it’s been white male heroes, but with Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies coming out, they seem to have no issue casting for other races and sexes. It’s just that their most popular heroes are white males, so when they wanted sure bets that’s who they went with. Now that they can take more risks, they’re branching out.

– Try to stunt cast/diversity cast the minor roles. That’s why we see the Falcon, Black Widow, a race-bent Baron Mordo (and the Ancient One, of course), Rhodey, and even the small detail of adding an oriental to Captain America’s Howling Commandos. The point here is to blunt criticisms of racism and sexism without alienating the fans of the original comics.

This is a very clever plan, and one Marvel has instituted successfully in every single one of their films (backlash around “Doctor Strange” seemed to pose a brief threat and provoked a silly response from Feige and the director before being shut up by the quality of Swinton’s performance and the presence of the always welcome Chiwetel Eijofor). It essentially satisfies everybody, from the die-hard fans to all but the real die-hard SJWs, who can’t be satisfied in any case.

“Homecoming” would worry me more if it didn’t fall right in line with that. Neither of the love interests appears to be Mary Jane (reports Zendaya would be playing the role appear to be exaggerated – if she’s supposed to be MJ she’s at least MJ in name only), who is one of the more recognizable female characters in comics, so that’s good (the only one I recognize is Liz Allen, who I believe was on a Spider-Man cartoon from a few years back). Otherwise, we’re seeing basically what we always see: White male lead (as befits the character), mixed race background players.

It just worries me that his best friend AND his love interests seem to be mixed race. Is this fair? Maybe not. Marvel doesn’t have a history of messing up its movies with shoehorned politics, and the movie itself appears to be utterly unconcerned with racial issues. But I noted it and am at least not going to be surprised if “Homecoming” skews more SJW than the average Marvel film.

Otherwise, the trailer strikes me as unremarkable. It hits every checkmark of what I want to see in a Spider-Man film, which means it’s certainly successful on the metric of “Am I still going to go see it after watching this trailer?”, but…I don’t know. I forgot what happened in it almost immediately after I watched it, but I can pretty much quote the GotG trailer verbatim. It has a fun vibe to it and gets across what it has to, and I look forward to seeing it, but it does it in a very by the numbers way.

…Also, if Spidey is holding that ship together, they made him VERY overpowered (though I suppose Tobey Maguire singlehandedly stopped a train in its tracks, so I guess it’s not exactly unprecedented).

In summary, after a lot of rambling:

“Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” trailer grade: A, marked down from an A+ for generic action scenes

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” trailer grade: B+. For all my griping I have to admit that I’m very happy with where they’re taking this and it made me really look forward to this film.

Looking forward to the summer!

*Having Hydra spread secret agents around the world and having a war start vetween Asgard and the Frost Giants do indeed count as

SUPERVERSIVE: So you made it into Hufflepuff

Reposted from the Castalia House blog:

Hello again, and Happy Superversive Tuesday! To continue my theme from last post, I’m going to talk about something completely different. Something personal. Namely…

J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore site has sorted me into Hufflepuff.

Hufflepuff is noteworthy in the Harry Potter series for being supremely un-noteworthy (“A Very Potter Musical” famously lampshades this after the end of its opening number “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts” with the immortal line “What the hell is a Hufflepuff?”). The Hufflepuff we know the best is Cedric Diggory. Diggory is a fine character, but he probably doesn’t even rank in the series’ top twenty most interesting. Even in “Goblet of Fire” we just don’t learn that much about him, except that he’s apparently an honorable man, a hard worker, and a capable wizard. Besides that – nothing.

But I’ve always had a soft spot for Hufflepuff, and always thought of myself as one. Besides the fact that yellow is my favorite color, its description in “Philosopher’s Stone” always appealed to me: Hufflepuffs are just. Hufflepuffs are loyal. Hufflepuffs are patient. Hufflepuffs are honest. Hufflepuffs are hard workers. The “Goblet of Fire” Sorting Hat song brings up hard workers again but also makes a point of saying that Helga Hufflepuff is “sweet” – so we can probably safely add kindness to the list of Hufflepuff traits.

So far, this all sounds reasonable, and fits into Rowling’s world well. Patient, kind, honest, hard-working, and just are all the sorts of non-flashy qualities that could theoretically give Hufflepuff the reputation as the “loser” house, but unfairly. They’re not flashy, but they’re good qualities to have. The world is a better place for them. They’re the types of qualities I tend to admire even if I don’t have all of them myself (all of my friends who see the word “kind” on this list are laughing right about now).

Don’t get me wrong – I value bravery, intelligence, and…okay, I don’t value Slytherin. Ambition, I guess? I’m not ambitious. But those other two! I just think that the sorts of qualities Hufflepuff House supposedly represents don’t get the respect they really deserve. Kindness is underrated.

So, I’d be quite pleased with my pick as a Hufflepuff House member….If not for this, from the book five Sorting Hat song:

For instance, Slytherin

Took only pure-blood wizards

Of great cunning, just like him,

And those of sharpest mind

Were taught by Ravenclaw

While the bravest and the boldest

Went to daring Gryffindor.

Good Hufflepuff, she took the rest,

And taught them all she knew,

Thus the Houses and their founders

Retained friendships firm and true.

“She took the rest”

“She took the rest”

Okay. So maybe Hufflepuff doesn’t pick students with dependable, useful, non-flashy but underrated qualities. Apparently, Hufflepuff just takes the rejects.

Yeah.

We’ve hit, by the way, on the biggest flaw of Rowling’s House system. She pays lip service to people overcoming the expectations set by the house they’re sorted in, but in reality characters who are part of Slytherin are evil, characters who are in Gryffindor are good, and the middle two houses don’t matter. Rowling at least has the decency to add in Luna Lovegood, a Ravenclaw and one of the series’ most interesting and beloved characters, but in Hufflepuff…well, there’s Tonks. Except that we’re never actually told Tonks is a Hufflepuff until after the series is over. And let’s not even get into all of the problems with Rowling’s portrayal of Slytherin House.

Perhaps the worst line in the entire series comes from one of the best chapters in the series, “The Prince’s Tale” from Deathly Hallows. Dumbledore is talking to Snape about Voldemort’s impending return:

[Snape said] “Karkaroff’s Mark is becoming darker too. He is panicking, he fears retribution; you know how much help he gave the Ministry after the Dark Lord fell.” Snape looked sideways at Dumbeldore’s crooked-nosed profile. “Karkaroff intends to flee if the Mark burns.”

“Does he?” said Dumbledore softly, as Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies came giggling in from the grounds. “And are you tempted to join him?”

“No,” said Snape, his black eyes upon Fleur’s and Roger’s retreating figures. “I am not such a coward.”

“No,” agreed Dumbledore. “You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, I think sometimes we Sort too soon….”

There you have it. One of our three semi-sort-of-kind-of heroic Slytherins in the series (along with Narcissa and Draco Malfoy – four if you count Regulus Black) is told that he is too heroic to be a Slytherin. Rowling’s utter contempt for Slytherin House couldn’t be any clearer.

Rowling also has an unfortunate tendency to shoehorn characters in where they don’t belong to fit her pre-ordained roles for each House. Take Remus Lupin. Lupin is a Gryffindor, but…come on. Remus is clearly a Hufflepuff. He is kind, he is a diligent worker, patient with students (and Snape), and unflinchingly loyal, literally to a fault. Sure, he does lie to Dumbledore a couple of times, but ultimately his guilt lead him to confessing both times, and in any case I don’t think this really does any more to disqualify him from Hufflepuff House than being too afraid to call out his friends’ bullying behavior or tell Dumbledore his suspicions about Sirius Black disqualify him from being a Gryffindor.

Remus is certainly brave. But when you think of the qualities that most define Remus Lupin, you think of his kindness towards Harry and his steadfast loyalty to his friends, his two most admirable traits. You don’t think of his bravery. Remus Lupin very obviously should have been a Hufflepuff. He even marries a Hufflepuff. The problem is that this wouldn’t work in Rowling’s world, because Remus is friends with James. In the Potterverse somebody who became James Potter’s best friend had to be a Gryffindor.

From another perspective, Luna Lovegood can be a Ravenclaw, but Hermione Granger cannot be, because it destroys Rowling’s concept of Gryffindor as the house with all of the most important positive characters.

Book five is where Rowling finally admits all of this. She doesn’t even attempt to give the Slytherins positive traits (pure-blooded and cunning?), and by the time she reaches Hufflepuff she admits what has always been the implication and flat-out states that it’s the reject house, for the people too unexceptional to go anywhere else. It’s gym class all over again: These are the students who weren’t picked for dodgeball.

What’s disappointing is that there’s no real reason Rowling had to go in this direction. Remus could have been a Hufflepuff. Warrington, the Slytherin, instead of Cedric could have been the Triwizard Champion, giving Slytherin House much more nuance if Rowling decided to portray him as something other than a pure villain. Slytherin as the house for the ambitious and crafty (people who are creative problem solvers and who always manage to land in advantageous positions) and Hufflepuff as the house for dependable people who don’t have easily noticed good qualities are good ideas as-is, but Rowling unfortunately never follows through.

And so, we come around back to me: A Hufflepuff. What should I think about this?

The Honey Badger is not impressed

On reflection, I’m still pretty happy about it. Maybe Rowling eventually came to see it as the reject house, but you know what? Badgers are badass. Don’t underestimate us. And those qualities that Hufflepuff originally stood for, kindness, loyalty, patience, truth, and diligence, are still qualities that I admire. Rowling might think we’re losers, but I don’t think we have to be. I think that potential is still there. And that’s the type of Hufflepuff I want to be.

There’s another dimension to Hufflepuff’s decision to take in the rejected students. In one sense, it makes Hufflepuff the loser house – but there’s more to it than that. It also makes Hufflepuff the wisest house.

Hear me out here. Is it really a good idea to be telling children exactly what their strongest and most important qualities are at the age of eleven? Is this healthy? Think of all of the trouble this causes at Hogwarts. In book five, the Sorting Hat warns the student body to come together in the face of the impending threat, and even questions the wisdom of sorting itself. Slytherin has the reputation as the house of dark wizards, so why would you wants children to grow up with that type of stigma?

The issues surrounding sorting didn’t even seem to occur to the most intelligent of the founders, Rowena Ravenclaw…but they did occur to one founder: Helga Hufflepuff.

Hufflepuff didn’t see students as a sort of symbol of her favored characteristics. She saw them as people – as individuals. Hufflepuff wasn’t interested in sorting them – in dividing them based on things they couldn’t choose rather than things they could. Because, again, while Rowling pays lip service to choice – after all, one of the most famous lines in the series (and rightly so) is “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” – the entire concept of the Sorting Hat is inherently anti-choice, if not at that moment, then in the long term. What characteristics are supposed to define you are to be discerned at the age of eleven and are to follow you for, at least, the rest of your time at Hogwarts. Your choices after the Hat sorts you don’t matter.

Hufflepuff didn’t put that sort of pressure on her students – and in that very real sense Hufflepuffs have the most potential of any of the Hogwarts Houses. To misquote Dumbledore, in Hufflepuff it is our choices that make us who we really are, far more than our abilities.

You can actually “logic out” Hufflepuff’s traits from there. What sorts of students would the other three houses reject? Why, the ones who aren’t obviously extraordinary, who aren’t necessarily world shakers, but whose best qualities are quiet strengths like hard work and kindness. So of course that’s what Hufflepuff house came to represent.

I’m digging the common room too.

And you know what? The world needs more Hufflepuffs. There’s more to us badgers than meets the eye.

(Would you believe that there’s remarkably little Hufflepuff merchandise out there? Shocking, I know. All I wanted to do was get a lousy backpack, and the only one I could find was 60 dollars! Yikes. Maybe I’ll spring for a snow cap one day.)

Free Short Story: “Closure”, by MJ Marzo

Less than a week away from Valentine’s Day, here is my gift to you: The short story “Closure”, by MJ Marzo.

MJ is a young, up and coming author who will be making her professional debut in the anthology/collaborative novel “God, Robot”, with two short stories to her name. “Closure” is what can be called a “paranormal romance”…but with a twist. I think you’ll all really like it.

And without further ado…:

The woman’s house lacked the crystal ball and dim lighting of every other place Robert had visited, which he took to be a good sign. There were no tarot cards, or bowls of powder. The very fact that they were meeting in a living room and not some seedy, back alley parlor was a novelty.

Robert squeezed the hand of the woman next to him lightly, both of them pacing the room while they waited for their hostess to return. The hand was clammy and had a slight tremor. The short blond woman smiled uneasily.

“Bobby, are you sure about this?” she whispered to him.

“What makes you so unsure?” he asked, smiling as he took in his surroundings.

“Well, this isn’t exactly what I pictured when I think of a medium. It’s certainly not like any of the places we’ve been to so far.”

He took both of her hands, looking into her concerned eyes. “That is precisely why I’m so excited Christy! No smoke and mirrors. This is going to be the one. I can feel it.”

His optimism was infectious; Christy couldn’t help but give her fiance a brief kiss, her own confidence rising to match his.

The woman they had come to see–a tall, thin woman in her forties, with streaks of grey running through her hair–walked in rubbing her hands on an apron tied around her waist.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized, “I had to get the cookies in the oven for my  son’s soccer team. Please, sit down, sit down. We’ll get started.”

The woman’s nervousness only added to the authenticity of this experience. Finally, he was going to get answers.

“So…I’m afraid I’ve never done this for, uh…payment before,” She started. “Or for something like this. Usually it’s little things. Favors for the neighbors.”

“That’s perfectly okay, Mrs. Keller,” Robert answered, “We haven’t had any luck with people who call themselves professionals.”

This seemed to calm her down a bit. “Please, call me Edith” she said, smiling. She wiped her hands on her apron once again, finally folding them in her lap.

“Well, why don’t we start with why you’re here?” she asked tentatively. “The advertisement mentioned something about your wife?”

“You see,” Robert explained, “Christy will actually be my second wife. My first wife Sandra, she…” He seemed to have trouble continuing. Christy took out a tissue she kept in her pocket–it was obvious that she had done this before. Robert waved her hand away and ran his hand through his beard.

“She died of breast cancer,” He continued. “Such a wonderful woman, full of life even until the end. I don’t know how I survived without her–until I met Christy of course.” He grabbed her hand, lightly tracing circles on the back with his thumb.

“We met a year later when I decided to go back to school to get my degree and got engaged six months later.” Christy finished.

The back and forth between the couple felt almost rehearsed. Edith could tell that they must have told this story many times before. Robert took a photo out of his pocket and began to tear up.

“And you want me to see if I can help you contact your dead wife?” Edith asked gently. Robert nodded, wiping tears with the back of his free hand.

“I just can’t get married without knowing Sandra is okay with it. That she approves. We’ve been to so many other places that have told us what we wanted to hear, but I just never felt like they were really her–when it is, I’ll know. We’ve postponed the wedding for five years while we’ve searched for someone who could help us. I’ve put my entire life savings into offering a reward–at this point we can’t even afford a wedding. If things go well today Christy and I will just go to the courthouse.”

Edith couldn’t help but be impressed at the patience of his fiance, who looked to be trying very hard not to let her disappointment show.

“Well, I’ll see what I can do. May I see the picture?” Robert placed it gently into her hand. The picture was of a rather plump woman with a short bob of red hair. Despite her size, her dress suggested that she was very confident in her body. Edith held it in her hand and began to concentrate.

The couple sat on the couch, hand in hand, waiting anxiously for only a few minutes, but what seemed more like hours. Robert felt a twinge of guilt shoot up his spine as he watched Edith close her eyes and furrow her brow with effort. Was it really fair to put so much pressure on her?

But all of a sudden it changed. Edith relaxed, her eyes opening slowly. She placed the picture, very carefully, on the glass coffee table in front of her.

“Robert?” She said, her voice different. It became deep, with the slight rasp of a habitual smoker.

Robert’s mouth dropped open. It amazed Christy that after all this time, he still had that initial reaction. “Sandra?”

Robert. Oh my god, I didn’t think I would ever see–”

She stopped, her eyes flitting to his and Christy’s hands clasped together. “Who is this?” she asked, her smile now forced.

Unlike Christy, Robert was oblivious to the poison dripping from that seemingly innocuous sentence.“She’s why I wanted to talk to you. This is Christy. She’s my fiance–”

“YOUR WHAT?!” She got up from her seat, throwing her hands in the air. Robert put his arm around Christy protectively and pulled her closer to him. Christy thought that leaving might have been the better option.

“You’re engaged?” Sandra screeched. “Why the hell did you think I wanted to be dragged here for that?”

“I–I–I just thought–” the man stammered.

“What, that I wanted to be her bridesmaid? When did you decide this was a good idea?”

“We met a year after you were gone,” He muttered, but unfortunately his words did not escape the scorned woman’s tongue.

“You mean I was barely cold in the ground,” She snarled, “And you’re already with this…this…skinny bitch!”

Excuse me?”

“Christy, please don’t–”

“YOU STAY OUT OF THIS!” The two women screamed.

Robert shrank as far into the couch cushions as he could, praying no one in Edith’s family was returning soon.

“I would rather be skinny than some fat-assed cow, I saw your picture, how Bobby ever found you attractive I have no idea–”

“At least I have a chest, people are going to look at you and think my husband is gay!”

“You mean my fiance!”

“No. MY husband!”

At this point the two women were leaning into each other, their hands resting on the glass coffee table.

“Girls, maybe we should calm down.” Robert suggested weakly.

With an unholy screech of anger, Sandra flipped the coffee table to the side. It flipped over their heads, hitting the wall and shattering. Reflexively Robert tackled Christy to the ground, guarding her from any shrapnel; it was a miracle none of them were hit.

When Robert looked up, Sandra was only glaring at them. “You protected her and not me?” she huffed.

Robert couldn’t even find words. He only opened and closed his mouth like a fish.

“I know when I’m not wanted.” Sandra answered simply, and with that she had disappeared. Edith stumbled backwards and fell back into the chair she had started out sitting on.

“Did it work…?” she asked weakly, her voice back to normal. “Did you get to speak to your wife–oh my God, what happened in here?” she gasped. seeing the remnants of the coffee table scattered throughout the room and Robert and Christy huddled together on the floor.

“That was absolutely ridiculous!” Christy shouted, getting up from under Robert and smoothing out the wrinkles in her skirt. Robert got up as well and stayed silent.

“Robert and I have been to dozens of these people–five years–the most humiliating scam we’ve ever been subjected to–flipping a coffee table? We could have been killed!”

Edith looked absolutely confused. Christy put a hand on Robert’s arm. “Bobby, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. Get your coat and we’ll get out of here.”

But Robert was not leaving; in fact, he had moved away from Christy and sat down. Taking a pen and his checkbook, he began filling out a check.

“I’m very sorry about the table,” He said evenly. “But you’ll have plenty left over to buy yourself a new one.”

“You’re giving her the money?” Christy exclaimed. “I mean, I want to marry you Robert…But what about finding someone who could actually talk to Sandra?”

Robert ripped the check out of the book and gave it to Edith, who took it with trembling, disbelieving hands.

“Yes,” He said, the tension gone from him body, looking more tired than ever before, “I had forgotten. But that’s Sandra all right.”

He took Christy’s hand and left without saying another word.

“Robert, I’m so sorry–” Christy began, but was stopped when Robert grabbed her around the waist, spinning her around and laughing.

“We’re finally getting married!” he exclaimed.

“But–But Robert–You’re not upset?”

Upset? Why would I be upset?”

“What about everything you said? About wanting her approval?” She held her head lightly, growing dizzy. Robert had, at this point, spun her three times.

“From her? Christy, I got something better! I’ve realized how lucky I was to get out of a marriage with that bitch!”

With that, he finally stopped spinning her around. Taking her hand again, the happy couple set off towards the courthouse.

Battlefleet Gothic comes to PC

I want this game! Battle Fleet Gothic is an up and coming RTS set in the War hammer 40K universe and is based on an older Games Workshop table top game of the same name. I loved the original table top version and spent may hours playing it and I immensely looking forward to this. A chance to play the Imperial Navy and purge space of heretics and xenos filth! FOR THE EMPEROR!

New Kickstarter Card Game: Hero’s Journey!

Nathan McClellan, a delightful fellow and Superversive Fan, is involved in a Kickstarter for a really cool card game called Hero’s Journey. I showed the Kickstarter video to my youngest and he cried out in awe, “How can I get that!” So, I asked Nathan and his partner-in-crime, James Wright (no relation), if they would concent to be interviewed.

VS Pic

Can Odysseus survive the Flying Monkeys? 

Willl the the starving Greeks be forced to eat Toto?

1) What led you to embark on the Hero’s Journey, so to speak?

Well, there was an old game both of us loved to play a lot during our college years which has since gone the way of the dinosaur.  Several other games from that period were starting to make a comeback so we asked ourselves, “Why not this one?

Then we asked, “If we did bring it back, what would we want most?

And almost simultaneously said, “More crossovers.

So we set about expanding the game’s original engine to accommodate beyond its original, narrow focus.

2) Tell us about yourselves. Who are the folks who are making the Hero’s Journey happen?

Just a couple of nerds that like games and books.

We had an older friend, Brad, who died in his thirties who also loved this game.  We like to imagine he would have been on board for this and enjoyed it too so the whole thing is dedicated to him and giving his boys one more legacy to remember their dad by.

VS Pic 2

Who will kill you first, Paris or the Wicked Witch?

3) There are many types of games out there. We might play Life if we want an group game, or Uno if we want something fast and easy or Chinese Checkers, if we are looking for a bit of strategy. What kind of experience might a person be looking for that would prompt them to reach for Hero’s Journey.

This is more for the harder gaming crowd as the game has at least 2 layers of strategy to it.  First is the planning where you take the cards we’ve given you and build a deck with.  Second is when you play that deck against an opponent who has constructed their own deck.  But we’ve included at least 2 simple deck lists to help beginners get started and are planning to posts decklists as players invent them or if you want to do quick start plays or themed style evenings.  We’ve tried to keep the game pretty flexible.

4) How did you come to pick Oz and the Iliad?

Since we’re just getting started we decided the best bet was to start with public domain books.  That way we could take a property and develop parts of the game to simulate moments and characters from that property without having to worry about licensing fees or having the game tied up in legal battles.

Then since the game naturally simulates trying to get from point A to B with constant challenges along the way, we thought “What’s something in the public domain that everyone recognizes which has a hero & their companions get from a start to a finish?”  Oz (get home) and the Iliad (get to Troy) seemed the most obvious choices.

5) The art looks really good. Who is/are the artist and how did you get them involved.

A mix of asking for artists on the web and asking people we know for recommendations.  Since we’re just getting started with the game (and know how frustrating it can be to look for that “big break”) we especially looked for artists that are building their resumes.  If this launch is successful, I hope to keep it going by always looking for new talent whenever we start a new set of cards relating to a book.  As for who they are, we’ve done a week long focus on our artists along with examples here: https://epicusliterati.wordpress.com/category/artist-focus/

6) Is this a game about storytelling? Or is storytelling actually required to play the game?

No, it’s a game first.  Though we won’t complain if players want to combine it with a trivia night (i.e. “Name the pair of animals that attacked Dorothy & co while crossing a log.”).  We also like to invent our own stories of how things might happen in a game (like the time Dorothy got to beat up on an old Trojan priest).

7) Do you have plans for additional expansions? Might there be other stories joining the Hero’s Journey, should things go well? If so, do you have any in mind that you’d like to see?

Yes, we’ve got at least 2 more small sets rough-drafted and currently testing off and on.  And definitely yes as to more books.  If this game proves successful enough and we can move out of the public domain, we have a wishlist of stuff we’d love to license. (Though we’ve found more in the public domain than initially thought, we might do a whole series on “forgotten classics.”)  We also aim to allow the players to help us pick and choose which books are adapted next.

8) How does this game differ from something like Smash-Up?

Well, Smash-Up (a game I usually enjoy – if you ban spies & geeks) is a much faster, pick-up & play, while our game will require a bit of prep before anybody comes to the table.  Smash-Up also has a very loose rules system to try and make it as flexible as possible, but that gets messy when players interact.

Our rules are a bit more complex and structured to allow things like ranged & melee combat as well as multiple players to gang up on one (as that’s what’s happening to you every turn).  This also means that while Smash-Up isn’t too bad for new players to grab & play, Heroes’ Journey may take 1 play through before players really “get” it.

 

9) What age range to you foresee enjoying the Hero’s Journey? Can ten year olds set out on this journey, as they might on a Pokemon journey, or does this require more

On average I’d say maybe 13 and up.

Some cards and their resulting decks are much simpler then others, so might be a better fit for some players.  For example, “Wild Monkey Beatdown” (as we nickname it) is pretty easy and basic, while “Monkey Swarm” is much trickier to pull off.

Though if a person can play, we say: Let them play.