San Diego Comic Con 2017: The Story So Far


Wednesday (Preview Night) and Thursday at SDCC ’17 were fantastic. I’ve met some people on my Must Meet List and I was fortunate to connect with friends from back home and an old friend from across the country.

(Pictured above: the cutest FULLY WORKING mini land speeder outside the convention center. Seriously, just stop the con now. That was the best thing ever.)

Crowds tire me a lot more now than when I was a younger man,  but like so many of my fellow attendees I feed off the energy of the crowd. It’s fun being among so many fans of so many different geekdoms. Admittedly I’m not up to date on all of the latest trends (still haven’t seen Rick & Morty, despite hearing how great it is from everyone I know), but I dig seeing everyone’s respective obsessions.


While the first day and a half were spent exploring all the different nooks and crannies of the main exhibit hall, I also managed to briefly check out the Conival put on by Nerdist and Geek & Sundry. I’ll be revisiting it later today and will post another report soon.

I also checked out the board games area on the mezzanine, where my buddy Oscar and I got to play the new Potion Explosion expansion, The Fifth Ingredient. CMON demo-er Kimberly explained the changes and we got into a game, which was a blast (fans of the game will get that pun, ha!).

To be continued. If you’re here and want to meet up to play a game, tweet me!


Every Night Is Game Night: Octo Dice


I’m playing a board game every day this month and blogging about it (I did a similar challenge last year)Feel free to join me during my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge. And tweet me with what you’re playing these days!

I had a great day today: my wife’s hula performance was excellent, as always, and our daughter was back from college and was able to catch the show. Then I spent a few hours at the inaugural Comic Con Revolution in Ontario, California, and had a blast amongst all of the cosplayers and comic book fans. I even managed to find an independent game publisher hawking his wares.

Finally, after catching the main event of UFC 211, I played a solo game of Octo Dice, which I wrote about for Geek & Sundry. It’s an underrated roll-and-write game from AEG, set in the Aquasphere world of Stefan Feld’s game. While it plays nothing like the original, it offers some fun changes on the Yahtzee formula. Here’s how I summed up the game on G&S:

Like the classic Yahtzee, players roll and write on their score sheets as they collect sets of particular items. However, after each roll, a player must “lock” two dice, meaning they can no longer re-roll them and must mark them on their score sheet.

Each die has a few icons and number and color combinations. These match up with the sets that players attempt to score such as crystals, research, labs, bots, and submarines. Players must also roll at least two octopods per turn or else lose two points.

It can be played solo, even though you lose the fun follow action from the multiplayer game. Still, it’s a quick roll-and-write and offers plenty of interesting decisions, due to the push-your-luck factor. Which dice do you keep after every roll and re-roll? It seems like every time I try to focus on a particular action, the dice rolls force me to re-think my strategy. I like that.

One thing I forgot to mention in my original article was the poor production of the dice. They’re light wooden dice and the painted icons rub off easily. It’s such a bummer because the score sheets were full-colored and double-sided; outstanding in every way that the dice were not. Perhaps that’s why Octo Dice has been overlooked. Replace the dice with big, chunky, King of Tokyo-style dice and I’m sure the game would receive the attention it deserves.

Sun Tzu


What a wonderful surprise Sun Tzu was!

Sun Tzu is a two-player war game of area control, hand management, and bluffing. It’s psychological warfare in ancient China, with thematic The Art of War text on the cards.

I scored my copy last year in a math trade and I liked the theme and premise, but it collected dust before I finally got it off my Shelf of Shame, thanks to another meetup with my buddy Daryl.

In Sun Tzu each player attempts to control regions in ancient China by using cards numbered 1-6. These cards are part of players’ hands throughout the game, but they also receive special one-time use cards after each turn: the numbers 7-10 and modifier cards like +1, +2, and +3.

For each round cards are played face down for each region, then they’re revealed one at a time to resolve battles. For example, in the Qin region Player A plays a “3” and Player B plays a “5,” then Player B places the difference (2 armies) on the region and they now have control of Qin.

Each round is made up of playing cards and resolving battles. There are nine possible rounds to a game, with scoring after rounds 3, 6, and 9; however, if a player ever reaches the maximum 9 points after rounds 3 or 6, then the game immediately ends. This is the basic gist of Sun Tzu.

But there’s so much more.

The special one-time-use cards are fantastic elements added to gameplay. For example, if I was trying to gain control of a region that contained a lot of my opponent’s armies, then I could play my “10” and hope that my opponent played a low card. This would allow me to take some of their armies from the board and replace them with mine. However, if my opponent had played their “+1” card, then my “10” was all for naught. Their “+1” card basically negates my 10, since it’s used as a +1 to anything I played. Thus, my 10 is trumped by their 11 and they get to add 1 army to the region.

Another cool one-time-use card is the Plague card, which, when played, cancels the battle in the selected region. It also calls for half of the armies in the region to be taken off the board. Since armies are limited (each player begins with 18 in their reserve, with a few more available via certain card effects or actions), this is a good way to gather your forces for future turns.

There are also one-time-per-game Warlord cards that can be used at any time. During our last game Daryl busted out a Warlord card to tip the final region to his favor, which led to his single-point victory.

Finally, there are event cards that can trigger other changes to the game if their conditions are met at any time.

I’m ecstatic that I was able to get this off my Shelf of Shame; Sun Tzu is a tense battle of wits between two tabletop generals. It’s become one of my favorite two-player games and one that I highly recommend (for a more in-depth review, check out the review).

I’ve now played 6 of the 49 games on my Shelf of Shame!

Shelf of Shame 2017

  1. Agricola
  2. Amerigo
  3. Cheaty Mages!
  4. Chrononauts
  5. Cypher
  6. Dice City: By Royal Decree
  7. Dice City: Crossroads
  8. Doomtown: Reloaded
  9. Dungeon Fighter
  10. Eminent Domain: Microcosm
  11. Epic Card Game
  12. Formula D
  13. Get Bit! Sharkspansion
  14. Guildhall
  15. Guildhall: Job Faire
  16. Hanafuda
  17. Harbour
  18. Imperial Settlers
  19. Lost Legacy: Flying Garden
  20. Machi Koro: Harbor
  21. Marvel Dice Masters: Age of Ultron
  22. Mottainai
  23. Munchkin Legends: Guest Artist Edition
  24. Munchkin Zombies Deluxe
  25. NBA Interactive Card Game
  26. Ophidian 2350
  27. Pack of Heroes
  28. Pandemic: On The Brink
  29. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set + Expansions
  30. Pingo Pingo
  31. Portobello Market
  32. Quiddler Mini Round
  33. Rampage
  34. Sail to India
  35. Sans Allies
  36. Santorini: Golden Fleece
  37. Seventh Hero (Doomtown edition)
  38. Space Base Mutiny
  39. Steam Torpedo: First Contact
  40. Suburbia
  41. Sun Tzu
  42. Tiny Epic Kingdoms
  43. Travel Blog
  44. Valley of the Kings: Last Rites
  45. Viceroy
  46. Vikings on Board
  47. Viticulture Essential Edition
  48. Wok Star
  49. Yahtzee: The Walking Dead Collector’s Edition


Long Beach Comic Expo 2016

I wrote a board-game-centric review of the Long Beach Comic Expo here and I said it was a throwback to my youth. The LBCE reminded me of my time spent at the San Diego Comic Con, back before it took over the entire convention center when it was all about the comics, with cosplay, gaming, and all other pop culture phenomena took a backseat to the printed page and those responsible for them.

Here are a few more thoughts and photos about the glorious day I spent in the LBC.

First, I’d like to give myself a pat on the back for being able to wander around the aisles and NOT dump my wallet’s contents onto each table. It was insanely difficult not emptying my bank account on so many cool things. Thankfully, you didn’t need to be well-funded to enjoy the con. One of my first stops was at the Long Beach Public Library table, where I chatted with one of the representatives about their services. I’m a huge fan of libraries, so I made a mental note to visit the one in Long Beach the next time I’m in town. The young lady working the booth told me about some of the library’s features, then showed me how to make my own button. I chose Darth Vader, of course, so my backpack was bedazzled for the rest of the day.

Free make-your-own Darth Vader button.

Free make-your-own button at the Long Beach Public Library table. Kylo Ren would’ve loved my backpack.

It was great seeing the locals representing at the con. In addition to the public library, the Columbia Memorial Space Center had a big presence in the hall. Kids and adults alike were amazed by the science demonstrations, the space suit displays, the build-your-own-rocket table, and more.

Ground Control to Major Tom.

Ground Control to Major Tom.

This was something I really appreciated: the amount of families I saw hanging out together. Not everybody was dressed up, but there was definitely a family-friendly vibe all around. I was glad I ran into these light-saber-wielding folk.

The Force runs strong in this family.

The Force runs strong in this family.

This young lady had the best ride of them all.

Perfect ride for an afternoon on Endor.

Perfect ride for an afternoon on Endor.

One thing I’ll always love about these types of conventions: you never know who you’ll run into.

Thanks for the selfie, Artoo!

Thanks for the selfie, Artoo!

This was terrific marketing: a $35 box of goodies worth $50. I’m not sure what was inside, but those boxes were definitely an excellent way to sell stuff. I saw a lot of people carrying these things around.

No, you don't grow after punching one of these.

No, you don’t grow after punching one of these.

I love the fact that a KISS tribute band had their own booth. Looking forward to seeing these guys someday.

You wanted cosplay, you got cosplay. The hottest (tribute) band in the land ... KISS!

You wanted cosplay, you got cosplay. The hottest (tribute) band in the land … KISS!

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Ran into a walking carpet and a scoundrel.

Ran into a walking carpet and a scoundrel.

Lots of Star Wars cosplayers here.

IMG_20160220_150148 (1)

The 501st Legion FTW.

The Force Awakened.

The Force Awakened.

I swear I’m not just a Star Wars fan. Here are a bunch of photos of various cosplayers. Enjoy!

The Mask.






IMG_20160220_151113 (1)






From beginning to end, I couldn’t be happier with the LBCE. Yes, it was a throwback to my younger SDCC-going days, but it also proved that today’s geekdom is in excellent hands. Kudos to all involved for making the event such a blast. I can’t wait to do it again.

Final note: I couldn’t resist one more Star Wars costume. This hip hop stormtrooper had his boombox blasting hip hop classics and got more than a few people dancing. It was the perfect way to end a day spent geeking out.



Day 303: Supergirl



What a great time to be a comic-book fan. It feels like there’s a constant supply of movies and TV shows featuring superheroes. Whether it’s Daredevil on Netflix or Arrow on the CW, the Avengers or Batman on the big screen, this has to be the Golden Age of comic book superheroes on the screen.

We had a minor comic book character like Ant-Man headlining a big-budget summer blockbuster and it was terrific. And as long as there’s money to be made, the studios will continue making this type of entertainment.

My question is, when does the bubble burst?

There have been some flops (John Carter, anyone?), but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from bankrolling comic book superheroes. This is a good thing because Supergirl made it to the small screen this week.

I never read the Supergirl comic book. Or saw the 80s adaptation. But the pilot for the show was terrific: fast-paced, comic-booky, family-friendly, action-packed, and with enough plot to make me want to continue watching. And I loved the cameos from Superman-related actors as well as the reimagined Jimmy “James” Olson.

My wife’s not a big comic book fan or sci-fi fan, but she enjoyed Supergirl as much as I did. I know it’s only the first episode, so we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but so far I’m impressed.

Day 293: Full Geek Mode

Full Geek Mode

Full Geek Mode

I’m in full geek mode right now. After the Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer debuted last night, I read a handful of Star Wars articles and watched youtube videos (and, yes, I watched the trailer dozens of times).

One thing that I stumbled upon that I absolutely loved was this quote from Felicia Day: “Geekdom is the joy of connecting about things you love without fear of judgment.”

I’ve been connecting with Star Wars for the last 24 hours, but I’m not forgetting about my other geekdom joys. I’m finishing (finally!) A Clash of Kings, I’m all caught up with The Walking Dead, and I just started James Doohan’s memoir, Beam Me Up Scotty.

The only thing I didn’t geek out on tonight was Fresh Off the Boat, since it was off the air this week. This is probably a good thing or else I might start getting my geekdom worlds mixed up.

Day 291: The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Wasn’t I just talking about Star Wars?

As much as I’ve tried to contain my excitement about The Force Awakens, I find myself not doing a good job of it. I watched and live tweeted the original film for the umpteenth time. I finished reading the famous Thrawn trilogy.  I started playing the tabletop miniatures game.

And thanks to my local comic book store, I bought my tickets to an early screening of Episode VII.

Two months ago.

I’ve stopped trying to play it cool, so I was fired up to see the new poster for The Force Awakens today, even if I was disappointed in two things:

  1. No Luke. Is he doing an Obi-Wan-like sacrifice? Or is he already gone and only appearing in flashbacks?
  2. A new Death Star. Or what looks like one.

I don’t mind No. 1 at all. The nostalgia of the original cast is great, as is all of the practical and non-CGI effects, but the story needs to move forward as it pays tribute to its past.

It’s the new-ish Death Star that bothers me. Perhaps it’s a small part of a larger weapon or ship or I don’t know what. I know J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, et al, were smart enough not to rehash a tired gimmick, right? I guess it’s a minor quibble. Give me Death Star 3.0 over Jar Jar Binks 2.0 (or 1.0) any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

On a positive note, Kylo Ren continues to look cool and menacing and … well, I’ll quit while I’m ahead.  I said the same things about Darth Maul and we all know how that turned out.

Day 269: Batman Day

Batman Day

Batman Day

I didn’t plan on watching my first episode of Gotham last night, the eve of Batman Day. It was one of those funny coincidences; after I finished watching, I checked social media and the first thing I read was about Batman Day. So, of course, I had to find a way to celebrate and luckily I was able to drag my wife to the local comic book store, where we did some window shopping and took a photo with a Joker cosplayer.

When I was a kid devouring comic books, I was all about Marvel. My closest friends who liked comic books were also Marvel geeks, so it was easier to relate to everybody since we all operated in the same comic book universe. We weren’t into the cheesy Superman and Justice League; they just weren’t as cool as Spiderman or the Avengers.

But I always loved Batman. I’ll never forget the oversized Batman annual that my dad bought for me. I read that thing until cover fell off. I don’t recall the particular details of the stories, but I do remember how frightening the Scarecrow and Two-Face seemed. Batman was scary, too; he did not resemble the Adam West version that I’d watched on TV every week.

Of course, I was fortunate that I was a teenager during the release of the Big Three: Maus, Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns. While I wouldn’t read Maus or Watchmen until a few years later, The Dark Knight changed the way we would see Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego.

And that’s what I love about all of the comic book universes: they’re constantly up for re-examination and re-interpretation by each generation. I’ve seen several versions of the Batman and enjoy each one (for the record, Frank Miller’s Year One is probably my favorite).

So, even though Gotham is not focused on Batman, it is set in his world, with Bruce Wayne at the pivotal moment of the first episode. It’s another re-imagining of the myth; one that continues to entertain and enlighten.

Day 262: Clearance Sale

Munchkin Zombies Deluxe

Munchkin Zombies Deluxe

I occasionally stop by Barnes & Noble to see what they have in their clearance section and today I dug through a pile of Game of Thrones action figures, Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles, and assorted bookstore knickknacks before I found something to my liking: Munchkin Zombies Deluxe. It’s a zombie-themed version of the popular Munchkin game by Steve Jackson that retails for $29.99. The clearance price was 50-percent off and I had a 15-percent-off coupon, so after tax I ended up paying just under $14. Score!

There’s a terrific thread on with information about the B&N clearance sale. I never knew there was a method to the clearance-sale madness and it was nice to learn about it so I could plan my next day of bargains.