Wednesday Digest, 4/16

There’s no narrow focus for today’s update.  Instead I have a bevy of options available for you; more thoughts on Dominions 3, a brief glance at Knights of Pen and Paper +1, a few words on Shirley Jackson, and just a tidbit on The World’s End.

The World’s End is the third in a series of parody movies starring Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, and it delivers more or less exactly what I had expected.  It was not as uproariously funny to me as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but it was certainly enjoyable.  Maybe I just wasn’t familiar enough with the genre that it was sending up to really notice all the especially good bits, but I actually think that The World’s End was intentionally less funny than its predecessors.  Its central characters are certainly sad enough for that to be the case, seeing as how the film revolves around a man whose last best memory is of getting shit-faced drunk 20 years prior.

On to the next piece!  I’ve been working my way through Shirley Jackson‘s The Haunting of Hill House.  It started off feeling rather inaccessible to me (apart from the first paragraph, which was great), but now that the main character has finally arrived at Hill House and started meeting and talking to other people I think I rather like it.  I haven’t been reading it at speed, but that will almost certainly change over the weekend.  It seems promising, and I’ll have more for you once I’ve finished it.

As for Knights of Pen and Paper +1… I picked it up for a pittance through a Humble Bundle, and thought I’d give it a look.  It offers a fairly standard faux-RPG experience, and then takes it a few steps towards the meta by including the players and storyteller in the game itself.  While I’ve found it entertaining, it’s not exactly challenging.  It seems to favor grinding and power-leveling, and rather than offering much of a story it has its (admittedly amusing) meta-based gimmick.  Once the novelty of having your characters sitting around a table and fighting things obviously conjured from thin air by the storyteller wears off, I’m not sure how much is left, though I should note that I haven’t yet gotten very far.  Regardless, it certainly does hit those much loved compulsive-reward circuits every time you level or buy sweet new loot.  I expect your mileage may vary.

And now for another brief moment with Dominions 3, making it the game that I have most often posted about.  Be careful who you play with and what rules you set up beforehand for how players will interact with each other.  Different people have different expectations about the veneer of civility covering players’ interactions, and Dominions 3 is designed in such a way that hurt feelings are likely to follow from “strategically optimal” play.  I put that in quotes because, well, it hardly seems strategically optimal for a game to result in hurt feelings, now does it?  My experience of playing thus far has taught me that I prefer people to be very upfront in their dealings with me, and it’s taught me that one of my housemates will take whatever he can get when he feels threatened and sees an opportunity.  I really should have seen that one coming.

Oh, and last but not least, I should have a short story for you soon!  I’ve finally managed to pull apart a piece that I’d been working on and outline something that seems acceptable, so I expect you’ll see that here some time in the next week or two.  We’ll see how editing goes.

Dominions 3’s Manual Seduces, Conquers All

I sure did say a lot of mean things about Dominions 3 when I wrote about it last time.  I finished on a positive note, to be sure, but if you didn’t read that last bit it might have looked like very mild hate mail rather than an admission of my affections.  I won’t take those comments back (I still think they’re true, confirmed through further play), but I do have a few other thoughts to add.  First of all, giving me a copy of this game for Christmas is both wonderful and somewhat mean.  Secondly, I’m (not so) secretly in love with the game’s manual.  Third… well, my third thought is that the game is far more captivating than I had realized that it would be from my time as a spectator.

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Dominions 3, God of Time-Consumption, Awaits You

Remember how I mentioned that I would tell you about Dominions 3?  Today is your lucky day.  First off, here is what I said last time:

Dominions 3 looks like someone fell in love with Master of Magic and then decided that it wasn’t nearly complex enough.  And that it needed more gods, wars, and magic.  At a glance, it looks like something that will most appeal to a certain core of strategy lovers, but the concept is absolutely wonderful regardless of your interest in the genre.  You play a god rushing to fill the gap left by the disappearance / death of The Old God, and you must expand to outdo all the other pretenders and secure your own position.  It has territory based command and control, resource management, spell research, a military focus, and more numbers than you can shake a stick at.  Several of my friends are very excited about it, and I’ll let you know more when I’ve played it for a bit.  If it is more accessible than I anticipate, I will do my best to proselytize and spread the good word of the new god, Dominions 3.

That sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it.

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