Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My thoughts as I finish the Wheel of Time

So, after so many years of reading, I am finally finishing the Wheel of Time started by Robert Jordan and finished by Brandon Sanderson. As I sit here right now, I have just started reading A Memory of Light. The 14th and final book in the series. Other series have ended like this…series that I love.

Harry Potter and the Dark Tower…to name a couple

Now, not everyone loves this series as much as I do. I get that. I even get why. Hell, there are more than a few things I don’t love about the series as well. But overall?

I started reading this series about twenty years ago when I stumbled across the Eye of the World in Barnes and Noble. As someone that lives for epic fantasy, I immediately was drawn into the world and the characters. Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Morraine, Lan, and even Nynaeve (sometimes). From the beginning I loved their journey.

The good points
The world itself is handled very well. The different countries and cultures that are displayed were always done very well. From Tar Valon, the waste, to the small village of the Two Rivers.

I also loved the Aes Sedai. Morraine started it with how great she was. But once the Black Ajah became more apparent. Once the fight with them started, it was always one of the more interesting aspects of the books. Sprinkle in some forsaken and it was usually golden. Egwene become much more interesting and Nynaeve eventually got to the point where I stopped hating her as a character.

The threads in the pattern. Mat, Perrin, and Rand. They were Ta’veren. Able to have influence the weave of the pattern. I always loved these three and they got better later in the books. Love how different they were. Mat had his luck and his mouth. Perrin had the wolves and his determination. Rand was the Dragon Reborn and had the fate of the world on his shoulders. Especially loved the moment where things changed for him. They are tied together and since I have not finished the book, I am wondering which of them will live?

Brandon Sanderson. Yes, I appreciate what Jordan started with this, but Sanderson has done an amazing job in the two books that I have read that he wrote. Yes, he had all of Jordan’s notes and such, but I like how he condensed the chapters and got more people involved. Jordan did not do this often and some of his chapters for each character were HUGE. But it felt like the world that Jordan started and that is all you can ask for someone to come finish someone else’s epic story.

The Forsaken. Thirteen of the most powerful in the world. They bicker, they fight, the try to kill all of my favorite characters. But they were a lot of fun and each had its own way of trying to gain power.

Emotion. There were a few moments in the last few books that made me cry. I have been with these characters for years and there were just moments of pure joy. Now I am on the last book and I am both excited and sad that is ending.

The bad points
Women.  It drove me nuts how he wrote women in this series.  On one hand, women were powerful rulers and mighty masters of the one source…on the other hand they were scatterbrained and almost always ridiculously irritable. Just so damn inconsistent and it drove me insane.

If I read Nynaeve pulling her damn braid one more time due to her being stubborn, I was gonna stab someone. Yes, she was stubborn and was the wisdom, but god she argued with EVERYONE, and always thought she was right. Her character has annoyed me more than any other character in a series I have loved this much. UGH. Now, she got better toward the end, to only be replaced in annoyance by Elaine.

Elaine. How many times does one character have to blindly go into a situation a situation and get themselves in trouble? Jesus. Also, we get it; you are the daughter-heir of Andor. You don’t have to say it every 13 seconds. It was just annoying sometimes. Did love Birgette though.

Why did every woman in this world think men were useless? Was an odd bit of sexism, especially since it was written by a man.  Also, I found the Aes Sedai method of switching as penance to be really creepy.

Avienda was just boring. I hate the dragon reborn. I love the dragon reborn. Ugh.

Luckily, Sanderson did not do nearly as much with these characters this way.

Despite the way women are written for a good portion of the book, I still loved this series. Luckily, the women were strong enough and did amazing things to counter some of the confusing ways they were written. The story is what I love. A story about how you have to stand against the darkness. I feel like enough people don’t do this in real life. Is why I love fantasy so much. Yes, it can be dark, but it also is about hope and overcoming.

I cannot wait to get back to reading. Which I will do now. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I want to make a rpg damn it

I have so many people in my google+ circles that are creative. Men and women that writes stories, or create awesome games. People I respect the hell out of because this is something I still want to do in my life. People that can actually get past the distractions that life throws at them and still create amazing games I want to play, and stories I want to read.

What makes this even more impressive is that these people have full lives. Some of them have spouses and children. Some of them even have forms of ailment and it doesn’t stop them from doing what they love. I find this both inspiring and intimidating. Welcome to the inner workings of my mind. I have none of these distractions and yet I still struggle with creating something. I could give a litany of excuses here, but the bottom line is that if it was as important to me as I say it is, I would overcome those things and just do it.  

I have wanted to make a game ever since I started gaming over 20 years ago. But around 2005, my friends and I were going to a ren faire, and it got rained out. On the way back an idea came up about a screen play that involved people getting killed inside of the tabletop role playing game they were playing. Nothing ever really came of that idea, but the idea that we could make the game itself started and never really let go of me. It did not hurt that this was when I was starting to get burned out of Dungeons and Dragons, and just wanted something different. I was also just about to discover this wacky game called Spirit of the Century that would change how I looked at games in general.

So we started making the game and after a while it dawned on me that we were just making a D&D clone. It felt exactly like it. To be fair we had been playing 2nd ed for a while and I guess this was an example of transference. So, the game kind of got scrapped and we started over.

I had spent a few years trying to come up with unique mechanics for the game and every time I felt like I had something, I found out someone had already used that particular mechanic. This drove me crazy as there are so many people out there making games that coming up with something they have no already done can be something that crush you.

Then I started playing Fate more, and man do I love that system. So I decided I wanted to make a Fate game. At this time there was not really that many Fate games out there, and it felt right. I had a few close friends that were helping me and it was awesome.

But like most things in my life, I struggle with consistency and focus. I always felt like making the game was more important to me than it was for them. That isn’t a shot at them as much as making a game has always been a dream of mine and although they wanted too as well, they had other things going on in their lives. So, the longer it went, the less we worked on it. The last time I worked on this with help was when I first moved to Pittsburgh in December of 2011. That fell apart too as making something just isn’t easy…as anyone that has ever made anything will agree.

So, here I sit in 2014. Feeling like for the first time in a LONG time that I am ready to get back at it. I don’t know what I want to do though. Do I still want to make a Fate game with all of them that are out there now? Or do I ditch that idea and try to come up something new? Do I think I can do this by myself, even though I have never shown the discipline required to do so? Is making a novel based on my world too much? Am I over thinking this?  

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But I am just thankful to be asking them again as I am trying to find the will and determination to actually see this through. Find a way to have motivation but sustainable thing instead of something last for four months or so.

I want to do this, and I guess the bottom line is it is up to me.

Monday, October 6, 2014

My review of Star Wars: Rebels

I saw A New Hope when I was six years old and became a lifelong fan of Star Wars at that moment. That did not change even if the prequel went a long way to test my loyalties. I have also read many, many of the books and love them as well.

Now, I only watched a few episodes of the Clone Wars and could not get into it. It reminded me too much of how much I hated the prequels. Yes, hate is an apt word for how I felt about them.

So, when talk of Rebels came about, I was not sure how I felt about it. I still had thoughts of the Clone Wars in my mind, but I still was excited as new Star Wars!

So, as the episode started I was immediately happy with the direction it went. It was, dare I say? Fun?

Yes, fun.

Isn’t that what Star Wars should be? I mean, yes dark and brooding can work as well as the world is a dangerous place. Blah, blah, blah. But what I remember about the original trilogy was how much fun it was and this show really displays that.

Ezra. Yes, he does kind of look like Aladdin. But I really enjoyed the beginning as he found out that the stolen cargo was in fact food for those less fortunate. The look on his face and the next scene where he sat there overlooking the village was nicely done.

The animation was really good with the exceptions of the Wookies. They looked rather odd for some reason. The rest thought looked great

I liked how Ezra may have been a young kid, but it he wasn’t bratty, or annoying. Yes, risking his life to help others is not really something he understands at this point, but he was likable. As was the rest of the cast of rebels. Hera who is kind of motherly, or at least older sister like. Zeb talking about killing or leaving him, to his crush on Sabine (the spray paint explosive thing  as the symbol of the alliance was AWESOME. Of course Ezra has the Force, you have to have that master

Kanan’s moment of showing he was a jedi, was also very cool. Very Star Wars. Like how at the end showed the presence of the "Inquisitor". Good times ahead for the crew! 

There is a lot of love in this so far and I am really damn excited by the show. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

All of this Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition talk

This will be my one most likely only opinion about Dungeons and Dragons, and yet another version that has come out.

I don’t want it to seem like I am bashing the game, cuz I am not. I don’t want to have anything to do with it, as I lost interest after 2nd Ed. But I also know there are so many people out there that still truly love the game. I can appreciate that as I truly believe everyone should play the games they love.

No, what this is about is people’s initial reactions to a new version of the game.  For the people that don’t play the game, a lot of them just try to ignore all of the new edition talk. It is almost impossible to do, but you do try.

Here is what I find interesting about this. There are types of reactions to this that I find interesting. Oh, there are more than this, but these are the ones that I am talking about today. A lot of people h

The gamers that love it no matter what
It doesn’t matter what changes are made to the game. They just love a new version of it. I never understand this group, since it seems like a blind kind of loyalty. Like that person that loves their favorite band even though they are on their 9th album. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but it comes off at least initially as disingenuous sometimes. But enthusiasm can also be a wonderful thing as well.

The gamers that hate it no matter what
The other end of the spectrum for people that just don’t love change. No matter the change, it is never as good as the previous version. I have a close friend that falls into this and man did they hate 4th Ed soooooo much. These are the ones that are still playing 2nd or 3rd Editions, cuz they like that particular edition and have no need for later ones. I was in this group for a while. But saying that, people should be allowed to not love every new version of something.

The let's wait and see
Yes, there are actually people out there that want to try the new version and see what has happened. An open mind is required for this group, which is why you don’t always see a lot of them. These are the gamers that just want to play a good game and the one’s I respect the most over all, regardless of what game they are playing. They will dissect the hell out of the game, and usually give people a good understanding of the differences between this and previous versions.

The gamers that just don't give a damn
For the most part I am in this group. Now for years I did have a bit of hate for D&D, but eventually realized that it just wasn’t the game or me anymore and that other people could still enjoy it. Now, I am an indie gamer and a new version does not really do much for me either way. Other than seeing my feed get overwhelmed with people’s reactions to it. So, I just sit back and watch and go on playing the games I want to play.

The other interesting part of this is social networking. Now more than ever, you get to see people’s opinions on things. Especially on something like Google+, which I have over 1600 people in my rpg circle. That is A LOT of people, with A LOT of opinions. So, when something huge like a new version of arguably the most popular rpg of all time comes out, people (like me, here) want to say what they think.

The downside is the edition wars. You see people getting really pissed off cuz they added this or left out that from a previous version. Or just those people that will only play 3rd edition (cuz it is their favorite) and anyone playing any other version must be an idiot. Now, this is the downside to social networking as it allows people to troll others without much or any repercussions. This is not just limited to this discussion as people can be assholes on whatever topic they choose.

To be fair, I have seen less of that this time. Oh, it is still there, but less. Most of the people that I have read that are playing 5th Edition, are coming away enjoying it. To me, that is the most important part of this. If you want to make a new version of something, awesome. But I hope you can make something that people enjoy and not just complain about. So, I am glad people seem to be enjoying the new edition and that there has been much less of the version bashing (at least in my threads).

There is enough drama as it is without this nonsense.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dungeon World is what I wanted D&D to be

Wow, do I love Dungeon World. The game is just so damn fun, and it reminds me of what i wish Dungeons and Dragons could have been.

Now, a lot of people know how I feel about dungeons and dragons. It was the first game that I ever played and it was may gateway into a hobby that I have loved for almost 25 years. Yet, like most things, time passed and my love the game started to wain. I cannot really blame the game itself as I just got burned out of it and was introduced to new and different Spirit of the Century.

So, D&D is kind of like your first relationship, you are glad it happened but you moved on to better things as you got older. I also did not like the newer versions of the game, and that is fine. The rules and the fact that is just a game where you go around and kill things, just got boring to me. I know it can be more than that, but the rules themselves are more about combat than anything else. If that is what you like, then that is fine.  There are plenty of people out there that love D&D to this day and that is what it is about. Find the games YOU love and play the hell out of them. Lord knows so many people are playing 5th Ed now, and I hope they are having fun.

Not long ago, a few people made Dungeon World. I was excited immediately as they were taking the engine from Apocalypse world (which I love) and using it to make it into a fantasy setting. I signed up for the KS and even got a cool t-shirt. But back to the game. It was never the setting that I did not like about D&D. I love the fantasy setting. Good versus evil. I live for that shit. I always have since I read the Lord of the Rings when I was 8.

I was loving this game from the beginning. It took everything i loved about D&D and just made it easier to play. Not to mention, it does such a great job of letting you be as awesome as you want to be, but also punishing you severely when you fail. That in itself is something that I love. Yes, being amazing is great, but sometimes it is just as fun when things go really bad.

I mean REALLY bad. Like your mage failing his magic missle roll and killing party members bad. That just happened recently in a game.

But mostly it is just the feel of the game. It is easy to set up. Easy to play. I have yet to run it yet, but it looks easy to run. I love how you make a map with the people and the map is always growing and a part of the game. I love how the ownership of what happens is on the players. Yes, you can plan and all of that, but you never really know what a player is going to do and this kind of game just rewards that.

There are supplements for the game as well and to be honest, the guys that made the game are amazing. They have even answered questions about the game via G+. I cannot even say in enough words how awesome that is.

So, in the end it is a great game. One I really want to play much more of. The simplicity of the system and focus on roleplaying is something that I love quite a bit. Yes, D&D was my first game, and I will always have love for it, but the indie games out there are just something I WANT to play.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review of Gotham

A few thoughts on the Gotham pilot.

I am not a DC person. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the movies per say, but I have never read the comics. Now, like everyone else, I have seen the DC movies, even the really bad ones (I am looking at your Superman Returns). So, I don’t know all of the backstories involved with some of the characters in the show.

First of all. It took them like 1.8 milliseconds to kill Bruce’s parents. I mean yeah, you knew it was coming. But damn, I had just sat down and bam they are dead. This isn’t a complaint, since I mostly found that amusing. Oh and before the show came on they did the parental discretion is advise in what sounded like a fake christain bale batman voice. Really odd.

I really liked the feel of the city. It was dark and gritty. Gotham is a very dangerous place and you could feel it from the get go. I also just liked the way it looked and the way it was filmed.

The acting was ok, even though there were some pretty bad lines from time to time. Especially when Gordon was telling young master Wayne there will be light! Yikes. But overall, the acting wasn’t too bad and that is all you can ask for in a pilot. It is also pretty well cast.

They did cram quite a bit of villains in the first episode. It never felt like TOO much, but still there were quite a few. I can see how that could be a problem sometimes if they aren’t careful.

The plot was ok. You didn’t really expect a lot of twists and turn since you know so many of these characters. The framing of Pepper was kind of obvious as you couldn’t have them figure out the murder in the first episode. I do like how corrupt the cops are and how that is going to be a real problem for Gordon. It just adds a bit more to it.

Overall, it was fun. Not perfect, but most pilots aren’t. It did enough to make me want to watch more, and that is what matters I suppose.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gaming at Nunchcon 4.0 a review

So, I gamed yesterday at Nunchcon 4.0 for the first time in 10 months. Here is how the games went.A quick preview? It was awesome.

Game 1. Dungeon World
Wow do I love this game. It is everything I wish Dugeons and Dragons was at this point. Easy to learn. Easy to play, and just fun. The best part is what happens when either you fail an roll, or succeed, but with a cost. This is golden. 

Our party consisted of a fighter (me), a druid, a mage, a ranger, and a cleric. We were asked by a lord in the area to find out why homesteads were being murdered by someone (or something!). The plot isn’t really important.

What is important is that it reinforced my annoyances with mages that I talked about earlier this week. Mages suck So, this is what the wizard did in his first three attacks rolls in combat.

1.       Tried to cast invisibility on himself. Failed. Cast it on the person attacking him.
2.       Cast magic missile on enemy. Failed. Cast it on himself for damage.
3.       Cast magic missile on enemy. Failed. Spell hit everyone else, which killed two party members (including the mage) and two enemies.

As someone that loves this game and how badly things can go, that is awesome. As someone that has issue mages, it was another example of why they always suck.

In the end, we won. Defeated a troll and a member of the Fae.

Game 2. Mythender
The idea of being sort of godly and taking on and killing gods isn’t a bad idea at all.

The god in this instance was Thor. We all had our reasons for killing him. Mine was cuz he murdered my wife and child, so revenge was possibly a factor. The game had a lot of narrative, so you have to describe how you were going to attack, as it was very important.

Now if I had one complaint about the game, it was that it was a bit confusing. Part of that is that isn’t the games fault as we were trying to learn a very rules intensive game in a con setting. So trying to process character creation, while learning how to play the game was not any easy thing to do.

Saying that, the game was fun. Beating the crap out of Thor’s minions (and then Thor) in a very narrative way became a lot of fun. Becoming god-like throughout the game was a lot of fun. Although, one of the characters  made their form a baby, which was very odd.

But in the end, we killed Thor and that is all that mattered.

Game 3. Dread.
I love games of horror and I have wanted to play this game for years.  The mechanics are genius as it is uses Jenga to determine the outcome of what you are trying to do. There is only one problem.

I suck at Jenga.

Mostly due to the fact that I get impatient and just eventually pull out a block and it comes a tumbling down.

So the story was a bunch of people are at a haunted house, trying to determine if it is in fact haunted. There was a scientist, his wife, an assistant, a psychic, an inheritance, and a skeptic (me).

Sadly, and not to my surprise, I was the first to die as my Jenga skills are not great. Now we did not start playing this game until midnight and  what made it awesome was how it ended.

By the end there was death, hauntings, evil spirits, etc. But the two last people left were the scientist and the psychic. What made it great as they were trying to kill each other and just kept pulling block after block after block, trying to force the other to make the mistake that would end the game. This went on for a good 25 minutes or so and the stress of it was awesome. Epic even.

Eventually, the psychic finally made that mistake and the game ended. I can see why people love the game, but I would rather watch than play, as I just don’t  do Jenga well.

But it was an amazing thing  to see how it ended.

I had a great time. It was the first time I gamed since last December. Three great games and got to hang out with some cool people. Including a friend I have not seen in quite some times. A great, but exhausting day,. 

It has got my blood pumping to do much more gaming in the future. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why mages are the worst a dungeons and dragons story

So, as I sat here today, I started to play Dragon Age for like the billionth time. I decided this time that I wanted to play as a mage. This is relative, cuz anyone that knows me knows that I NEVER play a mage in anything. Not video games. Not tabletop rpg’s. Nothing.

There is a reason why.

It all goes back to the very first time I played a tabletop role playing game. Way back in 1990. Ya see I worked at a grocery store and some people introduced me to this rpg called Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition.

You may have heard of it.

Now, I knew almost nothing about the game. I had read a bit of fantasy as a kid, but never played any kind of games where I grew up. So, when I started reading the book, I was mesmerized and excited to play.

So, we got together and I decided I would make a mage. Cuz you know, Gandalf. But if you have never played older version of D&D, you may not know it takes FOREVER to make a character. Especially when you have someone that has not played any role playing game at all. I don’t remember how long it took to make my elvish mage Kalvin (yes, I still remember his name), but it was at least 3 hours.

So, here I was with my mage, ready to kick some ass. Galvin had 2 hp to start and what happens? The GM kills me in the very first fight by sending four kobolds after me. He was even smiling why he did it.

Now come to find out, he thought I was sleeping with his girlfriend, which I wasn’t.  He then decided he would kill my character, just to be spiteful. He even admitted all of this when it happened. So, three hours to make a character, less than five minutes to kill him. I walked out of there and the others had to talk me into even coming back and playing (they even switched gm’s). I wonder how different my life would be if I had just walked out? Never playing another rpg again. Instead I came back and we made my thief Gareth, and I have played thieves ever since. 

First of all. The don’t be a dick rule really comes into play here. I have run enough games to know that you tend to want people to play more than once, so killing them off is something I have always avoided. Beat them just to the point of death? Maybe, but not kill.

But even more important to this story, I have hated mages ever since. 2 freaking hp? And no armor? Whatever. Death by kobold should never happen. Since then, I don’t play them, and I usually just don’t care for them in general. No matter what rpg system/video game I have ever played, I usually play a thief and NEVER play a mage. It never is even an option.

Well, until the Dresden Files Rpg came out, but that is all due to Harry Dresden.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I am finally getting excited about gaming again

It has been a while. I have gamed only one time in the last 16 months and I left that day due to a mile panic attack. But once in almost a year and a half???

I know, right?

There was a time when I gamed all the time. I was a consistent member of the G+ community, and even co-hosted a hangout discussing Fate with some of its amazing authors. Man, that was such a great time and I miss it.

Then the depression hit.

I am not going to go into that, since that is what this is about. This is about me being excited about gaming for the first time in…a long time. It has been a slow process

But lately I have been feeling it come back. Not really sure what it was that started it, but I am not going to complain. There are so many games that I own, that I still want to play. Nothing is worse than looking over and seeing gaming books that although you have read, are just collecting dust…along with all your dice.

But now? I am almost ready to get back into it. What games do I want to play? Well, sadly, they are the same games I have said I wanted to play for some time. They are:

Dragon Age
I love the video game so much. I am even reading some of the books (which are not bad). It is a world that I like and lord knows I love a good versus evil scenario more than just about anything. I have always appreciated the simplicity of the system, but have yet to play it. This is one that I really want to sink my teeth into and get a campaign going.

The Dresden Files
This is one of my favorite games of all time. I remember the joy of getting to play test it back in the day and have always wanted to get a campaign going. It doesn’t hurt that it is based on my favorite books of all time, but even more than that it uses Fate, which have always loved.

Dungeon World
I love a game that took everything I liked about D&D back in the day and turned it into a game I actually wanted to play. Again, the rules are simple and easy for people to pick up on. But the beauty in the game is the simplicity and the stories you can tell. That is where this game shines…you get to tell your story, and who doesn’t want that?

Fate Core
Oddly as much of a fan as I am of Fate, I have not played it since it was actually released. That in itself is pretty much sacrilege as I have always been a HUGE supporter of the system. It also is a game where you can tell YOUR story and it is not bogged down by the rules. Not to mention, you can play any kind of game you want. From a fantasy setting, to fighting nazi werewolves in ww2, to an old west setting where you hunt down rogue robots bent on controlling the west. Seriously, it can be whatever you want it to be. Awesome.

This is the one I don’t own, but may be most excited about. I am still mad at how bad Serenity was and have always thought this could be a better game. So, when they talked about making this I was really excited. I was more excited by the people involved in the game, as they are stellar. But mostly I am just excited at the thought of having my own ship and sticking it to the Alliance!

Mouse Guard
I had so much fun playing this game a few years ago. It is based on very good graphic novels of the same name. Yet, there was something joyful about playing guard mice and dealing with the dangers that entailed. Snakes, treachery, hard decisions. It is all great. The system is pretty simple as well and it is something I would really love to get back into.

The One Ring
Am still waiting to play my first game of this. Also my first game that takes place in Middle Earth that is really good. There have been a few that were ok, but overall pretty damn bad. I have heard great things about it and reading through it has been a joy. Now, I just want to pick up my sword and go fight some god damn orcs.

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire
I have fond memories of playing the old D6 version of SW. Sadly, the one that Wizards did that was d20 did nothing for me, so I was excited to see someone decided to take a chance on this amazing setting. Hell, who doesn’t want to be a jedi? Or an x-wing pilot? This is a setting that means a lot to me and I want to play this pretty badly.

There are others, but these are the ones I want to play before the year is up. Yep, that gives me just over 3 months to try to get some quality gaming in.

I am finally ready.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My review of Godzilla

So, I have been a Godzilla fan since I was about 7 years old.

Hell, as a child, the first story I ever wrote was a story how Godzilla came to America and kicked some monster ass. Well, I didn’t think ass at the time, hell I was like seven. But after the debacle of the Godzilla made in the 90’s, I never really thought there may be another one.  But then I saw the trailers, excitement grew.

So, after watching it. I am torn.

First, the not so good. I did not care even a LITTLE about the relationship between Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Owen. Part of it is that it is hard to not see the nerdy kid in Kickass when I see him. But either way, their relationship just seemed kind of cliché and uninteresting. Hell, even the kid did nothing to help sell them as a family. Snooze.

Does a human part of the story, help? Yes, but there were times where the story seemed more about ATJ’s character, than the creature the movie was named after. He is just not a good enough actor to have that much weight in this kind of story.

 I want to see a movie that has huge monsters destroying cities and beating the crap out of each other.  For too long, they just would show a little of that. Only showing bits and pieces of the monsters.  But until the end, you did not even get to see Godzilla and the two monsters really go it. It felt like they waited a bit too long to do this.

What in the hell is that?

Now the good. You have to love Brian Cranston. He made you feel for him from the very beginning. In a scene that could have been just so so. It is never easy to do an emotional scene at the beginning of a movie as you have not invested in characters yet. But he is a damn good actor, and was good throughout. Ken Wanatabe was as good as well.

I remember reading that some Japanese thought that Godzilla was too fat. Now, to be fair, this is their baby and I can see how they would be a bit touchy about how it looked. But overall, I really liked how the creature looked. Yes, it was HUGE. But I felt it kept the overall look and that is what I wanted out of it.

The fight at the end made up for the lack of the creatures fighting earlier. Well, mostly. It was a free for all at the end it was nice to see the see the creatures do a great job of outmaneuvering Godzilla for a bit. But you do know what the name of the movie is, right? Eventually, our hero? took it to them. I especially love the moment where Godzilla unleashed its breath weapon. That was kick ass. I mean seriously kick ass.

Overall. If you are a fan of Godzilla, you will probably enjoy this. I do feel like they tried too hard to make AJT’s character relevant, but once you got to the end, the pay of was worth it. Godzilla was huge, but still felt like the creature I grew up. I think they are making a second one as our favorite anti-hero surely has more monsters to smash.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ranking the Dresden Files novels part 2

Ranking the Dresden Files from least to most favorite. This was not easy as I love this series more than any other. Yet, something has to be the best/worst right?

So, I decided to break it up into two posts. First ranking them from #15 to #6, and then from #5 to #1. That way the post isn't just HUGE.

You can check the first post out here. Part 1

Don’t hate on me for this. :)

5 Cold Days Book #14 of the series So, Harry is the Winter Knight. D’oh! So, what does Mab have Harry have do first? Kill Maeve, which is sort of impossible. A lot is explained about actions of the Fae in previous books and how they were affected by something called Nemesis. But Harry coming back from the dead is not easy for his friends to deal with. That and a huge ass battle with the outsiders….you know to save the world. Oh and now Molly’s life has changed yet again. That girl could use a bit of therapy.

4 Skin Game Book #15 of the series This was a heist book, which was handled pretty well with a few twists and turns. You also had to love the cat and mouse between Harry and Nicodemus. But what made this book great was different interactions between the players. Harry with Murphy. Murphy and Butters. Harry and Michael about hubris and arrogance was maybe my favorite scene in the entire series. It was handled so perfectly and Michael may be the only person that could say what he said. Harry and his daughter Maggie. I love emotion and this book was the most emotional in the series. Oh, and Michael took up the sword again! Butters + Star Wars=Epic.      

3 Turn Coat Book #11 of the series It is so easy to hate Morgan as a character. But him asking Harry of all people to help him was in a word, awesome. The two at least grew to respect each other over the years, yes they still hated each other, but that is life. The traitor in the Council sets things in motion which lead to a free for all battle on the “Island. Harry has to fight something horrible…a skinwalker and it was truly evil. But you go Injun Joe! SO much going on here as you find out who the traitor is (a bit obvious to me) and poor Anastasia. It was sad to see how Morgan died at the end, but it was really fitting.

2 Changes Book #12 of the series Holy shit. So much “changed” in this book as the Red Court kind of declared war on Harry. They took his daughter (the one he did not know he had), destroyed his car, burned his home, and crippled him. Wow. Add that with Susan coming back, and there was a lot of drama going on here. Yet, Harry would do ANYTHING to save his daughter. He made a deal with Mab, and with what has to be the craziest moment in the entire series…he helped Susan “sacrifice” herself and wiped out the entire Red Court. Oh and cliffhanger galore as someone shot Harry at the end.

So much happened in this book that just took my breath away. A killer pace and a crazy ass ending. The entire direction of the series changed in this book.

1 Proven Guilty Book #8 of the series
This may be the book that made this my favorite series. Love, love, love, Molly. The idea of the horror creatures being used to terrorize the Splattercon!!! Convention was nice. But this was about Molly and the similarities of her situation with what happened to Harry with Justin DuMorne. He was almost executed, she could have been executed. The arrogance of the White Council. I also loved how Charity became a character in this book. More than just Michael’s wife. She had her own story and her own fears.

But the reason why this one wins, is even though I have read this series many times, I always get the feels when I read it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ranking the Dresden Files novels part 1

Ranking the Dresden Files from least to most favorite. This was not easy as I love this series more than any other. Yet, something has to be the best/worst right?

So, I decided to break it up into two posts. First ranking them from #15 to #6, and then from #5 to #1. That way the post isn't just HUGE.

Don’t hate on me for this. :)

15 Fool Moon Book #2 of series I have always liked this one the least. The characters were not really well developed yet in the series, and the FBI agents who were the “villains” were not that interesting. Also, too much werewolf for me. You were kind of beaten over the head with them. The Loup Garou was awesome though.

14 Storm Front Book #1 of series The First book in the series and a nice introduction to the series. Not the best written, but it got things going. Always enjoyed Victor Shadowman and the idea of third eye was cool. A drug that lets you have the sight? Also, Morgan was a dick and you got a glimpse of how the White Council worked. Death by lightning storm? Yes, please.

13 Blood Rites Book #6 of series I also struggled with this one a bit. Part of it is that I have never been THAT into the White Court stuff. I felt like both book 4 and 5 were much better and this one stepped back a bit. Now saying that, finding out that Thomas was Harry’s brother was a game changer in both of their character’s development.

12 Grave Peril Book #3 of series Ah, Susan. This is where the series started to take off for me. The Nightmare was a cool thing as it could take power from Harry. But the best part was Harry’s unwillingness to give in to the Red Court. It brought about the war and it was such a great moment. Is still maybe my favorite quote came from this moment. Also, the introduction of Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross.

11 Summer Knight Book #4 of series Elaine is alive? What the What? The Introduction of the Summer and Winter Fae. Also, Harry’s chance to get rid of his debt to his Fairy Grandmother. This was also significant because he finally brought Murphy in and let her know what was going on. She had been following him blindly before and this needed to happen. Oh, and Harry killed the Summer Queen, Aurora. No way that will come back as a problem later, right?

10 Dead Masks Book #5 of series Nicodemus and the Denarians vs the Knights of the Sword. My love of Michael as a character really took off here. Nicodemus may be the most evil character in this series and the sacrifice of Shiro was a lot more impactful then you would have thought for a character you did not know for long. Harry picking up the coin so Michael’s son didn’t brought us future drama with Lasciel.

9 Small Favor Book #10 of series Gruffs! They were kind of bad ass. It also brought the return of Nicodemus and his attempt to use Ivy in his plans. Kincaid is still lethal and Luccio had a huge part in this story. Yet the biggest moment was the shooting and almost demise of Michael Carpenter. That scene kills me every time.

8 Ghost Story Book #13 of series Wow, so Harry died…and now is a ghost. Weird, huh? Having to solve your own murder can never be a good thing I would think. Things have changed since the Red Court is gone. Who would have thought that things could get worse with them gone? Poor Molly and Karen, as they both struggle with Harry’s death.

7 White Night  Book #9 of the series I love Elaine. The scenes with she and Harry are really good. Someone is killing lower level practitioners and it was obvious that it was the White Court. Still, Thomas was strong in this one and I liked in spite of the White Court Stuff. Lash, sacrificing herself for Harry was a cool thing to witness. Their interactions have always been interesting as they were both influencing each other.

6 Dead Beat Book #7 of the series Harry rides a T-Rex. Harry rides a T-rex!!! I feel like you could just stop there, but alas there was quite a bit more going on with other scions of Kemmler in town. Wow, Cowl is really kind of bad ass and I wonder if he ends up being a major player toward the end of the series. Add the wardens coming to help and the emergence of Butters as a character. Harry officially became a Warden…with a paycheck and everything.  Only down side? No Murphy.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My review of The Last of Us

It is never easy to get do a video game rveiew and keep it non-spoiliery. Especially when the game is such a story based game like The Last of Us. There will be a few, but mostly minor ones.

Here I go.

First of all, the game was gorgeous. I mean it really looked great on the ps3. I can only imagine how good it will look on the ps4, but there was so much detail put into it and it just paid off.

The Story I was hooked from the get go. The “prologue” really sent the tone of the game and hit you in the mouth from the get go. It is rare to have a game really surprise me that early on. The writers deserve a lot of credit for how they handled it.

Still the game is about Joel and Ellie. It is a simple as that.

An older Joel is rugged, paranoid, and more than a little jaded. He spent twenty years finding a way to survive in a world that that became increasingly hard to endure. Yet, he made due by being smart and understanding the way the world was. You had to look out for you.

And then he met Ellie.

At first glance she was just a kid that annoyed him. A complication in his life that he did not really ask for, or wanted. But the interaction they had throughout the game was amazing. Little snippets of conversation they had where they go to know each other.

Then much larger things that drew them together. There were so many little moments in this. Just bit of conversation they started to have with each other. You could see them slowly growing into a dynamic and I kept wondering if one or both would die.

It was an amazingly well written story, and one that I kept wanting them to push more and more and more. There is emotion, and shock, and characters die. There is fear and sadness and a lot of other things. It may be one of best written games I have ever seen.

I am not even touching on the ending here. No way.

The gameplay prior to playing this, I beat Uncharted and Uncharted 2, along with Tomb Raider. With those games you are swashbuckling heroes and you spend a majority of the games just killing anyone that gets in your way. There is nothing wrong with this, but this is NOT that kind of game. Even if it took me a moment to realize it.

Don’t get me wrong, you can play this game like that. Guns blazing and all that. But you will die. A LOT. Hell at the beginning if the clicker’s grab you…you are just dead. No fighting, just game over. Joel is NOT Nathan Drake or Lara Croft.  It isn’t that he isn’t capable, but he is more of a survivor, than a fighter. Although he can fight.

So, you sneak, and avoid if possible. And lord do you spend time looking around everywhere for items that you can get to upgrade your character, equipment, and ammo. There is something awesome about wandering around with nothing but a flashlight and trying to sneak past/kill creatures that just want you dead.

I died so many times, but it rarely felt frustrating. I do wish the bow mechanic was better as I did not like the aiming component of it. I spent so much time trying to sneak up on the creatures/soldiers and trying to kill them quietly. This did not always work and I spent a lot of other time running for my life.
So, this happened.

You even played as Ellie for a bit and that part of the game was much different as she is a 14 year old girl versus previously playing as a 40 year old man. It was a nice contrast as she could not do some of the same things physically that Joel could do. But it was damn cool.

Overall. Where does this rate in my favorite games of all time? Damn high. May have even been higher if someone had not ruined the ending for me. I still loved the ending, but it took a bit of the emotional aspect of it as I knew what would happen. Still, it was a beautiful game with fun gameplay and a damn good story with two characters you grow to care about.  A few twists, and a few deaths, make it an emotional journey as well. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My favorite Dresden Files quote from each book

This is a list of my favorite quote from each book.

Storm Front
Best quote. “Where instinct fails, intellect must venture.” 

Fool Moon
It isn't enough to stand up and fight darkness. You've got to stand apart from it, too. You've got to be different from it. 

Grave Peril
Bianca's eyes widened. "You are mad," she said. "You would flirt with chaos, destruction--with war, for the sake of this one wounded soul?"
I smote my staff on the floor, reaching down for power. Deeper than I have ever reached before. Outside, in the gathering morning, the air crackled with thunder.
Bianca, even Ortega, looked abruptly uncertain, looking up and around, before focusing on me again.
"For the sake of one soul. For one loved one. For one life." I called power into my blasting rod, and its tip glowed incandescent white. "The way I see it, there's nothing else worth fighting for."

Summer Knight
“Wait. You don't understand. I just wanted it to stop. Wanted the hurting to stop."
I smoothed a bloodied lock of hair from her eyes and felt very tired as I said, "The only people who never hurt are dead."
The light died out of her eyes, her breath slowing. She whispered, barely audible, "I don't understand."
I answered, "I don't either."
A tear slid from her eye and mixed with the blood.
Then she died.” 

Dead Masks
“I am blind and limited. I would be a fool think myself wise. And so, not knowing what the universe means, I can only try to be responsible with the knowledge, the strength, and the time given to me. I must be true to my heart.” 

Blood Rites
“Love is another kind of power, which shouldn't surprise you. Magic comes from emotions, among other things. And when two people are together, in that intimacy, when they really, selflessly love each other it changes them both. It lingers on in the energy of their lives, even when they are apart.” 

Dead Beat
“Fear is a part of life. It's a warning mechanism. That's all. It tells you when there's danger around. Its job is to help you survive. Not cripple you into being unable to do it.” 

Proven Guilty
“A bolt of warmth, fierce with joy and pride and gratitude, flashed through me like sudden lightning. I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family. And they were my heroes.” 

White Night
“Being a wizard gives you more power than most, but it doesn't change your heart. We're all human. We're all of us equally naked before the jaws of pain.” 

Small Favor
“Body or mind, heart or soul, we're all human, and we're supposed to feel pain. You cut yourself off from it at your own risk.” 

Turn Coat
There's power in the night. There's terror in the darkness. Despite all our accumulated history, learning, and experience, we remember. We remember times when we were too small to reach the light switch on the wall, and when darkness itself was enough to make us cry out in fear....” 

“But there were some things I believed in. Some things I had faith in. And faith isn't about perfect attendance to services, or how much money you put on the little plate. It isn't about going skyclad to the Holy Rites, or meditating each day upon the divine.
Faith is about what you do. It's about aspiring to be better and nobler and kinder than you are. It's about making sacrifices for the good of others - even when there's not going to be anyone telling you what a hero you are.”

Ghost Story
“Courage is about learning how to function despite the fear, to put aside your instincts to run or give in completely to the anger born from fear. Courage is about using your brain and your heart when every cell of your body is screaming at your to fight or flee - and then following through on what you believe is the right thing to do.” 

Cold Days
“No one just starts giggling and wearing black and signs up to become a villainous monster. How the hell do you think it happens? It happens to people. Just people. They make questionable choices, for what might be very good reasons. They make choice after choice, and none of them is slaughtering roomfuls of saints, or murdering hundreds of baby seals, or rubber-room irrational. But it adds up. And then one day they look around and realized that they're so far over the line that they can't remember where it was.” 

Skin Game
I want to read this a second time to figure this out.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Three games that could get me back into tabletop gaming

The three games that could possibly get me back into tabletop gaming.

So, I have gamed twice in the last year. There are so many reasons as I went through some crap, some anxiety and depression, and even a bit of burnout with gaming in general. It has been a long time since I have felt no desire to game. I cannot even say it is completely back yet, but I am at least thinking about it at this point.

So, here are three games that I think could pull me back into gaming.

#1. Dragon Age
I have wanted to play this for a while now. I have the initial box set and have read through it a few times. But even more than that, I am a HUGE fan of the video game. I am a sucker for a great fantasy setting and this one has always pulled at me. Being a Grey Warden is something I would love to do and the setting is rich.

The world of Ferdelden is a huge place. With so much drama going on with the threat of the Blight. This is what made the video game so great. 

A pretty straight forward and simple dice mechanic with a few twists. At this point in my life, I am not really into game mechanics that are overly complicated. I remember having so many problems with Shadowrun 4th ed, and it made my brain hurt. I don’t mean simple to the point where it is ridiculous, but the days of needing multiple cheat sheets to play something is far in the past for me.

#2. Firefly
I remember how excited I was to play Serenity.

I also remember how disappointed I was in the game. The book itself was convoluted and not structured in a way that made it easy to read, much less run. When I played it a few years later, I never really got into it. It was a sad time.

So, when I heard they were making a Firefly game, I became excited. Even more so when Mark Diaz Truman became involved in the game. I respect the hell out of him and his vision.

Then consider how much I loved the television show and movie, and my excitement for this is really high. I have wanted to play a great Firefly type game for years, and I am hoping this will finally happen. I have heard great things about the Cortex plus system, so there is optimism…if it ever gets released.

Really excited about this one.

#3. The One Ring
Even longer than me wanting to play a great Firefly game, is my need to play a truly great Lord of the Rings game. Years ago, I played Merp’s, and it did an ok job with it, but I did not like the system all that much. But a later LotR game was even worse, so for a while all hope seemed lost.

Then Cubicle 7 came into play. They have been releasing different books for this, the first taking place after the events of the Hobbit. I have read them and they seem like they would be fun. But the biggest pull is being able to be a part of Middle Earth. Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of getting to play one of the Dunedain, a hobbit, elf, or a dwarf. But the setting is what makes the books so great. Middle Earth is a vast and awesome setting, and one I want to sink my teeth into.

It is not a shock that the three games I want to play are from games/movie/tv that I love. All three are worlds I love very much and want to explore pretty badly.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My review of Tomb Raider

So, I recently finished Tomb Raider.

Now, I remember trying to play the older versions of the game and at that time I did not really play that kind of action game. I was way into Rpg’s, and really not much else. Not to mention, the games seem more about the way she looked, rather than the game itself. I had a friend years ago that referred her as boobs croft. Yes, he was an idiot. 

Personally I have never gotten how guys get turned on by video game characters, but whatever.

So, back to now. Tomb Raider, the reboot.

I really, really, loved it.

What worked. First of all, I played it on my ps3 and it was gorgeous. Yes, it looks better on the ps4 and pc, but that doesn't take away from how great it looks. An island setting is a great way to show off graphics as you get to show off beaches, oceans, jungles, etc. It all looked amazing. I can only imagine how great it does look on pc. Yet, it is amazing how great games look now.

Lara herself was a strong, confident, character. It took place before the previous games as is supposed to show just how she became the world class adventurer people know and love. Her determination and strength was on display with all of the cut scenes that deal with her crewmates as she tried to find them and eventually get off the island.

I still don’t get the argument about how games with a female protagonist are hard to create. This game kind of disproves that, but that is a topic for another day.  

Lara did however get her ass handed to her. I mean, wow. Stabbed, shot, crushed, etc. It became hard to see at times, but never went TOO far. She was tough and persevered through it all.  There were so many scenes where she took a beating. Hell, one part of the game you were actually wounded while bandits kept coming and coming. I died SO many times.

Each level got harder and harder, but you kept getting better weapons/tools to help you. You could also upgrade weapons and get skills. It was a nice balance to be able to have some kind of system in place to help you through the game.

What did not work. The tombs were not that challenging. It wasn't a huge thing, but hopefully in the next one there is more exploration, and less fighting.

Also, the ending was too easy. I found this to be the case in the Uncharted games as well. It is an interesting thought as these kind of games are so hard to begin with. It makes me wonder if this is intentional. It did not really take away from it, but the last fight was basically hitting a few buttons and it was over.

Overall. Tomb Raider did a great job of rebooting a series that I never really cared for in the first place. Lara is a great character that really shines and the fun action and great story made for a great experience. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My review of Skin Game

So, the latest Dresden Files novel came out Tuesday, and here is what I thought about it.

In a word, amazing.

I was blown away. I know there have been people that have not loved the most recent books, especially since Changes at the entire series got turned upside down with the death of the Red Court and even Harry as well. But Changes was one of my favorite books and I really have enjoyed each book since. People are just picky.

But back to this book. Here is why it was awesome.

Michael Carpenter. He has always been one of my favorite characters in the series. But after he was seriously hurt in Small Favor, he has not been around much at all. So, getting him to take up the sword again and fight Nicodemus? Wow. Yes, it was only going to be temporary as Uriel only gave his grace for a period of time (even though that made the angel pretty much mortal).

Between that the conversation he had with Harry about his arrogance. That was one of the best conversations in a long time in the series. Yes, Harry is awesome, but he can be a bit of an idiot when it comes to how people view him. Harry wondered why no one ever came to the island, and when Michael said that the island is what gave him nightmares, that said a lot about what it must be like for anyone to be there. Molly, Murphy, and Thomas came anyways. Michael is maybe the only person (other than man maybe Murphy) that can talk to him that way. It was a really nice moment.

Murphy. She fought Nicodemus! Yes, he eventually hurt her pretty badly, but it was just damn cool to see her fight him that way. She managed to hold her own for a bit and he is one of the more dangerous characters in the entire series. She has really matured as a character and is more of a partner to him, rather than backup like it used to be. It was also nice to see them finally be on the same page about how much they care for each other. Life is too damn short.

Also loved the conversation between Murphy and Butters as well. A valid point can be made that people become monsters faster because people start seeing them that way. Their dynamic has always been interesting, but especially since Ghost Story. 

Butters. He is a knight of the sword! What? When you think of who he was way back in Dead Beat. Hell, Thomas was worried that since he was such a coward that he would end up getting Harry killed. He has really stepped up (especially in Ghost Story). I like how he really is kind of afraid of Harry. Harry can be a very scary person and everyone wonders if he will turn into something horrible. I dig this.

The Jedi thing was a bit cheesy, but I can live with that. 

The Heist. It was such a different approach to how the stories are usually told. Having to work with Nicodemus and Deidre was really interesting. Throw in the rest of the crew, and you knew there was going to be high drama and more than a few double crosses.

So, I did enjoy that quite a bit. I did NOT see the Goodman Gray thing coming. Doublecross! I did see him being betrayed Ascher, but not that she took up Lasciel’s coin.

I also like how he went back and explained how it happened. These are all so much different from what was before. The conversation with Hades made me laugh a few times as well. Getting past the trials was handled well too. I can see why everyone may not have loved that part, but I did.

Maggie. If that did not touch you, maybe you should stop reading this series. It was very touching to see him interact with his daughter and he needs that to survive what he is going through. Yes, that may put her in danger, but he needs to be reminded of what he is fighting for sometimes. I am really wondering what will happen next here.

Emotion. This book made me cry so damn many times. So much with characters I love, and that is something I LOVE about the series. Things we care for should be out emotion, and this series does this like nothing else ever has (except maybe Harry Potter).

What was missing. Would have liked a bit more of Molly, but with there being so much Michael, I can live with it. I still wonder if he will end up with her at some point as his relationship with Murphy may be epic, but she is human after all. But in the mean time I love Harry and Murphy together. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

My thoughts on Arrow

It is amazing to me that I actually like Arrow.

First of all, I am not a comic book person at all. What comic books I know, most of them are Marvel. So, once you get past Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, my knowledge of the DC universe is somewhat limited.  

Second, I am not a fan of the CW. Most of the nonsense that is on that channel just makes my brain hurt. I understand I am not really the demographic they are going for, but even as much as I love all things geek, I just roll my eyes at some of the crap that is on that channel.

So, from the get go, I did not have many expectations when I started watching this show. Here are my thoughts on the first season.

It started kind of campy. I don’t know what kind of expectations they had at the beginning and it felt like a show that did not have much of a budget.

The writing was very inconsistent, especially in the first 2/3 of the season. I mean, some of the dialogue was about as bad as I have ever seen in a show. There were so many face palm moments in the first half of the show, that at times I considered stopping.

The villains were also kind of weak on a consistent basis. I mean damn, Count Vertigo was horrible. Over acted and he looked like a twilight reject. There others that were bad as well, but CV was one of the worst characters I have ever seen on a show like this. I also struggled with the person that played the Huntress. I think she could have been cool, but each episode she was in was just not that interesting.

The first thing that worked from the beginning was the flashbacks of Oliver’s time on the island. This was an interesting way to tell a story, and they did a really good job of making what happened in the past, relevant to what was going on in the present.  

What made the show start to work for me was the other characters, and what you eventually found out about them. I always liked Oliver’s and Tommy’s relationship. Was not shocked that it became strained as he dated Laurel, and they handled his death very well.

As the show went a long, Diggle and Felicity became more important in supporting Oliver’s taking down people on the list.  Oliver having to learn to depend on other people was something that happened throughout the season. I have always liked Paul Blackthorne (mostly from the Dresden tv show) and him playing a detective (and Laurel’s father) was a nice addition. Gotta love John Barrowman as Merlyn.  

The writing eventually started to get better and they did a great job of hitting the emotional moments toward the end.

Having Oliver choose between having to shoot Shado or Sara was both brutal and amazing.

Season 2. Kind of picked up where the first one ended. The writing throughout the second seasons was SO much better and you could tell they had a bit more money that they previously did. There were still hiccups from time to time (Ugh, the Huntress and yes, more of the Count), but overall there was an improvement in most places on the show.

One thing they did not do as well in season 2 was the flashbacks. They were still there, but there was not as many of them and they were not always as interesting. Overall, still enjoyable, but it was something they did better in season 1.

Deathstroke. Wow, that guy can hold a grudge, right? Oliver was put in an impossible situation in having to choose between two people he cares about. One lives, one die. There is no way to do that. So, Deathstroke’s promise to take away everything Oliver cared about before killing him was done very well.  Especially when he did the same thing to Oliver and made him choose between his mother and sister. That was heartbreaking.

The characters also improved for the most part. Felicity became more prominent and less one sided, as her character was allowed to grow. I do wish Diggle could do more than just back up the Arrow, but he has always been a strong character as well. Sara was also a nice addition to the show as she could kick ass as well, and gave another opportunity to have well choreographed fights from someone that fights differently than the Arrow did. The choreography really improved in the second season.

The ones that were hit and miss were Laurel and Thea. Laurel was dealing with Tommy’s death and she blame just about everyone. She began to drink, take pills, and was an overall mess. I have always liked her character in the show, but it was hard too as she was written very oddly at times. Much better toward the end. Thea is another that I did not always love. Never really cared about her and Roy all that much and her transformation from party girl to owning a club seemed kind of forced. I always liked her scenes with Oliver. So much angst as she finds out that pretty much everyone is keeping things from her. Finding out that her father was Merlyn, should have been more interesting than it was. But as she left with him at the end of show may add something to that.

So, overall I really enjoyed the show as it gained momentum and the writing became much better in the second season. I am really excited about what the future holds for Oliver and his allies.