matt | June 10, 2014
So, it seems that the last book stack post of any substance was way back in 2010. I’m trying to remember all that I’ve read since then.
- Liz and I both read The Hunger Games.
- I finally read all of the Harry Potter books. I resolved to do that before the last movie came out and accomplished that.
- Monster Hunter International, which I blogged about before, and enjoyed very much – so much, in fact, that I was taking notes for ideas for roleplaying game plots and miniature wargaming scenarios.
- Pebble in the Sky (and I’ve started The Stars, Like Dust, which is the second one in that trilogy (though apparently takes place before..)). As is typical of Asimov, it is very classic, literate, highbrow science fiction, heavily influenced by the idea that everyone is well spoken and and gentlemanly and, if you are not, you are a rogue or ruffian of some stripe.
- The Falcon Banner and Sigil of the Wolf, and I’m partway though The Lion’s Pride.
- I’ve read all the Laundry Files books that are out so far. If you like James Bond + hackers + Lovecraftian horror, this is a series for you.
- The Dystopian Wars Rules. So, I loathe age of sail games, and can generally take or leave later “battleship” games, but this Victorian SF naval (and, technically, land, because there are land ships) game appeals to me. I picked up 4 boxed sets, 2 each Prussian and French, 2 each land and sea, so we could try them all. I’m currently painting the ships. There are also “tiny flyers” – very effective fighters and bombers. The ships get AA to try and shoot them down as they come in, etc.
- The Savage Worlds Showdown Rules. This is likely going to be my go-to generic miniatures rules set – provided Liz likes it. I need to run a demo and introduce her to the system. It has the potential to let me play with all the different minis I’ve accumulated over the years, even pitting them against each other.
- The Athena project. This was a decent thriller with the interesting hook that it’s an all-female delta force team. Pretty girls make men do stupid things, etc., then they get shot.
- Saturn’s Children. This was underwhelming. It claimed to be classic-style SF, but the plot was predictable and not very exciting. It wasn’t horrible, just underwhelming.
- Kitchen Confidential. I like Bourdain’s snarky sense of humor in general, and this was an interesting look in to how a kitchen works. I’ve always respected cooks. Not just chefs, but the guys working the line. It’s a really tough job, one that I likely could not do. This book gives some insight into that world.
- Jarhead. A gripping account of the first gulf war. Better than the movie.
- Ghost in the Wires. If you ever wanted to know all about Kevin Mitnick, this is an interesting read. I knew, at the time, that the charges were trumped up, but I didn’t realize just how trumped up the charges were.
I’ve read parts of the following (mainly because I pick them up and then get distracted by the next shiny thing):
- Fate Core. This is my go-to “story” system. It’s totally solid and flexible. (Of note: Savage Worlds is my go-to generic “classic” system, and I’ve stolen some bits from Fate as house rules. Both of them are quick to get going, though Fate wins as far as a “pick up” game, especially with Fate Accelerated Edition, a stripped to the bare metal build of Fate. I think I’ll likely have to write up a comparison of these.
- Deadlands: Hell on Earth: Reloaded. So, back in the day, Hell on Earth was one of my favorite games that I only ran once (I think there’s a story there too..), and this is the reloaded version of that, so it’s totally revised with the updated Savage Wolds rules. Awesomeness.
- Deadlands Noir. This is new – it’s Deadlands, in the 30’s, classical 30’s places like LA and New Orleans. (For those not in the know, Deadlands is an alternate history where there are more powerful sources of energy than there were a the time, magic has come to the front of the world, and all the badness that one can contemplate can come along with those two things has.)
- Shadowrun 5th Edition. I love Shadowrun. Rather than the radical rewrite that 4th edition was, this polishes off the edges and makes it much smoother and easier to run. That said, I likely will never play this, and will likely stop buying the books. In reality, Savage Worlds settings which scratch that cyberpunk itch are really where its at, because, on the off chance I actually have time to play, the rules get out of the way of the story, combat flows more quickly, and it’s just all around an easier system to run. On the one hand, it makes me sad, because I have a nostalgia for Shadowrun. But, like your first car as a teenager, if you were to go back and drive that car now, and compare it to a modern car, you realize it’s underpowered, can’t corner for crap, and gets rotten fuel economy (and, if it was anything like mine, all the plastic bits feel off, the trunk leaked, and the headliner had fallen down on your head so it tickled your hair (back when I had hair)).
- Numenera. This one is interesting. I’m not familiar with the “Science Fantasy” genre, but the basic idea is that it’s a billion years in the future and while there is no magic, but there’s so much fantastic leftover tech that there might as well be – but civilization has regressed back to a roughly medieval standard. Suggested reading were Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun which I picked up from Amazon and to which I plan to give a read.
- Traveller 5. I actually bought this a long while ago (before Kickstarter really hit) to get access to the beta, and then I got a final PDF copy of the game. Traveller has been such an institution for so long, I figured I’d give it a read. I’m not sure that I would ever play it, for the same reason that Shadowrun doesn’t generally get played, but a lot of the techniques (world building, etc) are generally applicable. Plus, it still pings that nostalgia button of mine.
- Firestorm Armada. This is a space miniatures game from the same guys who do Dystopian wars. The rules seem solid, I just haven’t painted up ships. My one criticism is that it’s not really generic (the way, say Full Thrust is) so I can’t use my existing ships unless I try to make up points values for them (and, lacking unit creation rules, you can imagine that this is a problem). Of course, one could as “why not just use Full Thrust” and the answer is “because Liz doesn’t like it very much”, though that’s mainly because of the vector movement system, and if I instead used the cinematic movement system (which is similar to the Firestorm Armada movement) that would likely make her happy. Still, even if the game stinks, the ships are awesome, so I could use them with Full Thrust rules..
- Battletech Alpha Strike. So, I love Battletech, and have a ton of mechs, but, similarly to why Traveller 5 won’t get played, I doubt I’ll play much Battletech anymore – it just drags. This ruleset scales Battletech out so that instead of, say, 4 minis per side, you can run more and still have it be manageable. However, it also means that if you just use 4 minis per side, it will be quick. Of note: a game of this is still set up on the gaming table because Liz and I were going to play it one Thursday before Christmas. However, the boys decided to come that Monday. So, no game.
- Pulp City. This is a supers game that Liz and I played a demo of at TempleCon. The dice pool mechanic was interesting, and there was a lot of fun and flexibility. I picked up some heroes and villans starter boxed sets and rules, but never got a chance to paint the minis. But, I did read the rules, and they seem decent.. I just need to paint up some minis and make up a cardstock downtown, and I can play!