Friday, December 30, 2016

Microreview [book]: In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

A modern day fairy tale...

Image result for in calabria peter s beagle

In Calabria is a romantic novella set in modern day Italy. It tells the story of Claudio Bianchi, a middle aged man who lives alone on his farm in pastoral Calabria, purposefully isolated from much of the modern world. The majority of his human interaction comes from the mail carrier, who braves Bianchi’s dirt road every day, and the mail carrier’s younger sister Giovanna who is learning the ropes. Bianchi finds friendship primarily with his animals, many of whom are as grizzled and curmudgeonly as he, until one day a magnificent unicorn appears on his property and changes his life forever.

Bianchi suffered a great loss many years ago and has since secluded himself on his farm, with no company except his dog, cats, goats, and cows. But it becomes clear to him that this unicorn did not choose his land at random, and that heavy with a colt she will need him as much as it turns out he needs her. Eventually, reality and the times come crashing down Bianchi’s door, but he handles it poised and stoically, waiting for it all to pass. Bianchi’s life becomes even more complicated, though, when an unlikely friendship develops into something more, spilling over all the emotions the unicorn has brought to his surface.

If this story sounds like a fairy tale, that because it is in a way. It is truly a romantic tale of love and loss and how hope never really abandons us. The animals as characters are phenomenal, especially given how Beagle builds their personalities solely through their actions and Bianchi’s reactions to them (no talking animals here). I feel obligated to comment on the stark age difference between two of the characters who become romantically involved, but honestly, it doesn’t bother me because both parties acknowledge it and choose to proceed anyway. Because really, age ain’t nothing but a number… it is situations where actresses are told they’re too old to play the love interest of someone in their own age bracket when there is a problem, for example.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 7/10

Bonuses: +1 for characterization of the animals, +1 for the use of Italian colloquialisms that squeezed my heartstrings
Penalties: -1 very picky here, but I found the novella a bit slow a times

Nerd Coefficient: 8/10 "well worth your time and attention"

POSTED BY: Tia    nerds of a feather contributor since 2014

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thursday Morning Superhero

The week after Christmas is historically a slow week for comics and this year was no exception.  Saga was wonderful per usual, but IDW and DC did something amazing this week that should be celebrated and is a nice gesture to cap off what has been a rough year.   The two comic book publishers teamed up with some amazing creators to raise money for the victims and the families of victims of the Orlando shootings.  The publishers donated the materials and the creators donated their talent and 100% of the proceeds is going to the cause.

Pick of the Week:
Love is Love - This oversize comic checks in at 144 pages of heartfelt creativity that celebrates the LBGTQ community and reminds us all that we are all beautiful people worthy of love.  This anthology was created as a response to the shooting and is a collection of short stories that are equally tragic and heartwarming. You won't finish this book with a dry eye and there are even short breaks that bring in some well known comic book characters.  Some of the stories are more powerful than others, but the collective effort of this group is to be celebrated.  This is a collection that should be on every shelf so we can collectively stand against the events that happened and with the victims and their families.

The Rest:
It doesn't matter what else came out.  Go buy this book!

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher passed away yesterday, December 27, drowned in moonlight and strangled by her own bra. At least, that's how she wanted it described. She was 60 years old.

For most people, portraying an iconic role like Leia would be enough. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who would group her in with "most people". She said that she didn't want life to imitate art, she wanted her life to be art. The tapestry she wove with her life is truly unparalleled.

Listing her accomplishments would be far too simplistic, but describing all she was is practically impossible. Beyond her achievements on screen and with a pen, she was forthright and outspoken, open and honest about her own addictions, about being bipolar. She gave many people courage to cope with, and speak out about, their own issues.

I can't speak to everything she did, or all the lives she touched, but for me, she was always s real. She never made any bones about her imperfections, obstacles or flaws. But she also never tolerated other people making anything into flaws, shutting down discussions about her weight, looks, and aging with mere sentences. Nor did she let a character, even one as outstanding as Leia, define her. We will remember often as that character, watch her over and over as that character, but it not define her, because her life did not imitate her art.

Her life was art. We were privileged to observe some of it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Microreview [video game]: Batman - The Telltale Series Season 1

Not Quite a Monster

Reviewer's note: Fall video game releases ran over my episode 4 review, so I've combined all episodes for a full season review here! No spoilers for this review, but I will include some of my thoughts on the season at the very bottom of the review, clearly marked as spoiler territory.

Telltale Games have a formula. You're going to have multiple choice dialog. You're going to do a little puzzle solving. You're going to have some quicktime action sequences. Knowing this, going into any particular Telltale game, the question becomes "can they use this formula to tell a compelling story?" For Batman - The Telltale Series (BTTS), that answer is yes.

BTTS discards and rearranges a lot of Batman mythology, and that's okay. It's difficult to tell a surprising or original story involving those characters that hasn't already been told in comics. Rather than retell one of those stories, they've given us something original but deeply in the vein of the character. Even better, the choices you make as Batman and Bruce Wayne allow you to play the character as you see him. Is Batman a shining light of justice or a terrifying monster of vengeance, or some balance between those two? Is Bruce Wayne a billionaire playboy caught in the political machine, or a cog driving that machine within Gotham? It's all up to you.

What I found interesting about this game is that it could be seen as an evolution of a previous Telltale game, A Wolf Among Us, based on the Fables comic book. Both games involve an outside-the-law enforcer trying to solve a mystery. The way they balance the dialog, investigation, and action is basically identical, and it could be assumed that A Wolf Among Us was a prototype for BTTS.

However, what BTTS is kind of missing is the tension of being a monster. Bigby Wolf was a literal monster among monsters. Sometimes, he had to be a bigger monster than the rest simply to get things done, but doing so would reduce his standing in his community. When Bigby killed someone, he was playing into a stereotype he was trying to fight against. On the other hand, Bruce Wayne can largely separate himself from Batman. Batman can be a monster, but Bruce Wayne won't suffer the consequences of his actions. When I played Batman as a good guy trying to get things done that a corrupt government would not, the people I wanted on my side were largely there for me. When I played Bigby the same way, I was still treated as dangerous and a liability. BTTS doesn't really capture that feeling as well as A Wolf Among Us did.

My other gripe with the game are the technical difficulties. These cause this game to lose points because they've been a part of Telltale games for far too long. For being a fairly uncomplicated adventure game with good-not-great look, it hitches on framerate far too often. Combined with a save game problem that caused me to have to replay episode 1 because it ate my save, these problems are difficult to overlook. They're not showstoppers, but they're frustrating to deal with.

For Telltale and Batman fans, it's easy to recommend BTTS. You'll know what you're getting into here, and you'll get a largely original Batman story with some creative twists on well known characters. However, if you're not familiar with Telltale games, or you don't care for Batman, A Wolf Among Us is essentially the same type of game with a better sense of character progression.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 an original Batman story that shows a lot more Bruce Wayne than video games get to see.

Penalties: -1 separates Batman from Bruce Wayne a little too well, -1 technical problems that have been a part of Telltale games for too long

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10 (an enjoyable experience, but not without its flaws)


POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014

Reference: Telltale Games. Batman - The Telltale Series [Telltale Games, 2016] 

SPOILERY DISCUSSION: What I found most difficult in this game was discarding what I "knew" about Batman. Stop here if you don't want character or plot spoilers.

When they drop the video of Bruce's father essentially imprisoning political enemies in Arkham, I wanted to believe it was doctored. This led me to denying it too long, until the evidence was very clear that he was a criminal. On the other hand, when Oswald Cobblepot was revealed as an old childhood friend, I treated him as such. Then it turned out he's still essentially The Penguin, so I felt like an idiot there too. I thought I could've saved Dent, but when I was given the choice of Catwoman or Dent, I chose Catwoman. This obviously resulted in Dent turning into Two-Face, but I'm certain that choosing Dent would still produce the same result because the rest of the story doesn't really work without Two-Face. 

Vale as Lady Arkham was the most surprising character change. It's not telegraphed at all, so I'm glad they spent so much time in Episodes 4 and 5 establishing why she is who she is. She works as a villain because she's got a good point, but her methods are entirely wrong. Bruce Wayne isn't in the right by supporting what his father did, but he has to be better than him to make Lady Arkham wrong. That's what I played into, but there could be an interesting story in playing Batman as the tool of vengeance and (more or less) supporting Lady Arkham's mission if not her methods.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Rogue One Review-O-Rama

Did you see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Probably! A lot of people did. A good chunk of the flock here did, and instead of fighting over who gets to review it, we all chipped in with short reviews. We start with Joe, showing incredible restraint in keeping it to four (and change) paragraphs:


If you wondered if there would be significant differences between the mainline numbered Star Wars movies and these off year side stories being told within the larger Star Wars Universe, Rogue One should answer that question with a definitive and resounding yes. Despite the near constant presence of war and conflict throughout the franchise (check the “Wars” in Star Wars), there has always been a general sense of grand adventure operating at the highest levels of the fight. Rogue One is a grim movie that is right down in the fight.

This is the first Star Wars movie with a raw sense of desperation. The Death Star is nearing completion and the Rebellion knows it and knows if they can’t find some way to stop it that all hope really is lost. We know from A New Hope that such a way is found, but that does little to lessen the tension of this intense chase where nearly every character is in mortal danger and the fate of the Rebel Alliance teeters on the narrowest of edges.

The biggest strength of Rogue One is midway through the movie when the two primary missions are set in motion and Rogue One becomes much more of a war movie. We may not know or remember the names of most of the characters beyond Jyn Erso, Cassian, and the snarkily depressed droid K2 voiced by Alan Tudyk, but the ensemble helps build an atmosphere that is much stronger than the individual characters and because this is a war movie that does not pull many punches, we feel the loss and the sacrifice each time it is made.

Rogue One is certainly not a perfect movie, and the first third or so seems to be set in a different story while we wait for Jyn to actually become part of the rebellion, but this is also the sort of Star Wars movie I’ve been hoping for. Some of my favorite Star Wars Expanded Universe books were Karin Traviss’ Republic Commando novels providing a grunt level look at the Clone Wars. Rogue One may be the closest we’ll come to that.

Side Note: Forest Whitaker is utterly wasted in this movie and I can’t quite tell if it is solely due to his performance or if it was how his character was presented.

Rating: 8/10


I had a lot to digest after walking out of Rogue One, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I liked it. It’s a qualified conclusion. I liked Rogue One despite the completely flat Jyn Erso. The other characters, particularly Chirrut Imwe (played by Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (played by Jiang Wen), completely outshine Felicity Jones’ Erso, so it’s good that it’s more or less an ensemble movie and not simply about Erso’s contribution to the rebellion. I liked Rogue One despite not fulfilling some of the promise of the first teaser trailer. I was expecting more skulduggery but I got a mostly competent war movie.

I liked Rogue One despite the first two-thirds of the film kind of being a mess. The tone isn’t always clear and it sometimes feels like I walked into a different movie halfway. I’m certain there’s more to it that I missing because I haven’t read every novel or watched every TV show, but the last third of the movie needs no more setup than the first two-thirds to succeed and it’s fantastic. The last third of the movie is some of my favorite Star Wars stuff. It’s the best paced, best executed part of the film. It’s a good thing they end the movie on such a high note, because this would’ve been an entirely different review if the last third was anything like the first two.

On a final (less serious) note, I liked Rogue One despite completely disregarding the already established canon that the Death Star plans were stolen by Kyle Katarn from the secret Imperial base on Danuta, playable in entirety in Dark Forces, my favorite Star Wars game of all time. At least Cassian has a passing resemblance to Katarn, even if they’re obviously not the same character.

Rating: 7/10


They really put the “war” in Star Wars this time around. Rogue One is an imperfect movie, and there are shortcomings that I could shine a light on here or there, but I want to echo Brian in that the final third of the movie — straightforward war movie filmmaking that's as wrenching as anything I've ever seen in Star Wars — is fantastic.

But I want to put the movie in a larger context and say that this is the Star Wars for our time. The grown-ups took away our vegetables, so we don't get many thoughtful, adult movies anymore meant for a wide audience, and now we have to get our social relevance in superhero movies or pew-pew laser movies. In 1977, the United States had been wallowing in the fallout of Watergate for a few years, and had gotten movies in the 70s paranoid style like Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View as a result. Star Wars came along and was the best of escapism, and gave huge audiences a whole other galaxy to dive into to get away from the mess we’d been so mired in.

Rogue One comes at a very different time. We are living in a moment where Watergate-style hijinks are de rigeur, and whatever lies on our immediate horizon is… best. So though it was shot some 18 months ago, Rogue One steps into our experience by giving us characters who are on a tightrope between what is right now and what may yet be; the worst of what may come to pass. They are asked, “How much are you willing to give?” So yeah, it's not a perfect movie, but in many ways it's the most honest Star Wars movie to date, and that it's the most grim is also saying something.

8/10. (It gets one more point than I would've given it otherwise just for the last scene with Vader.)


I give Joe a hard time, but really I want to talk about this movie forever. There is so much I loved about it, and so, so little I hated, it's hard to know where to begin.

I will say, expectations are hard to manage in this age of constant media. With Episode VII, I wanted to know ev-re-thing, but with Rogue One, I did everything I could to avoid spoilers, and most media of it. I was worried hearing about reshoots and them changing to tone to be more 'traditional Star Wars'. As has been mentioned, the tone had some odd changes, but for the most part, it was a grounded war movie. I loved some of the different settings, and the urban setting for the first battle brought Star Wars to the ground level.

Other than the occasional shifts in tone, I loved it all. The characters were amazing, and they did a good job of fleshing them out appropriately. The obvious challenge though, was all of us kind of/sort of knowing the ending. This was handled masterfully, with tons of suspense and the coolest battle Star Wars has ever seen.

Overall, a great addition to Star Wars, and gives us hope for the rest of the Star Wars stories to come. Simply put, if a scene where Darth Vader chokes someone is the worst part of your movie, you made a good movie.


The G

Okay, I'm late to this party, so I'll keep things succinct. First off, I enjoyed the film. It looked and sounded great and featured top-notch action scenes. And I appreciated the fact that it's a different kind of Star Wars story, with a narrower and less epic focus. 

On the other hand, what the fuck was up with that rebel council scene? I mean, it was basically like a town hall from the glory days of The Simpsons, only without a shred of irony. Cringeworthy. 

And speaking of faults,  I don't care for the way Rogue One recontextualizes A New Hope. In that film, it is strongly implied that the flaw in the Death Star is a function of the Empire's arrogance--the smug certainty that nothing could ever threaten their colossus, and especially not something as insignificant as a single-manned fighter. Now, well...I won't spoil it for you. But warning: it's corny-ass Hollywood bullshit. 

I guess, in the end, if I consider Rogue One on its own merits, I'd probably give it an 8/10. But as canon, I give it a 6/10. I'll split the difference. 



It’s funny you should say that, Vance, because I’m taking one point away for what I thought was the gratuitous “fan service” quality to Vader’s appearance. To be sure, he was impressive there, at the end, but--as many of us have already commented--the raw desperation and brutality of this movie’s narrative, especially in the final moments, created a strong mismatch with the tone of the beginning of the 1977 film, a retcon that fails philosophically even if it succeeds in bringing events into sequence with “A New Hope” (itself a retronym!).

Visually, Rogue One is remarkable, especially in its CG incarnations of Tarkin (despite Peter Cushing’s death!) and Leah (despite Carrie Fisher’s--ahem--somewhat changed appearance in 2016 versus 1977). The characters are interesting enough, as is the essential theme of questioning fanatical devotion to the cause (whether it be the empire OR the rebellion). But unfortunately, the film betrays that skeptical position by falling into what I like to call the sequential sacrifice trap: throwing main characters, one after the other, onto the altar of--you guessed it--the cause, the larger-than-life thing worth dying (and killing!) for, or so we are meant to believe. I thought/hoped the film would question the idea of giving everything in service to the cause; after all, isn’t that exactly what suicide bombers do? And here we have why this film, so much darker in tone than any of the others, resonates better with audiences today than those used to the campier vibe of the original trilogy.

And plus, the pandering to Hollywood’s second-most-lucrative market (China) is growing distressingly obvious, with not one but two ethnically Chinese (ish) characters/actors, and I can’t say I approve of this even if one of them is one of my favorite directors of all time (Jiang Wen).


English Scribbler

As a friend and I left the theatre, he said, ‘That was the Star Wars fix I've been waiting for since I was ten’. He meant RO finally took him back to eps IV-VI and I agreed completely. The camerawork and acting aside, this is the closest to Jedi and before than the slow soap opera madness of the prequels or the excellent but very modern epIV. The aged futurism, the dust, the real sets, the 70s Brit moustaches, the raw mechanical nature of the random coloured buttons that don't seem to do anything on people’s chests…

I have big issues with the plot. The sort of issues that would fill up five pages on Reddit and start yet another passionate debate. But that's true of every SW film ever, so let's set those aside. I have BIG issues with the distracting (spoilers for the rest of this paragraph) Cushing fx, making those scenes seem like something from a game not a work of film. Leah was brief enough to (just) work but Tarkin was so central to the plot we had to look at those weird BFG eyes for too long. He should have just appeared later and his overuse early on felt far too ‘Look fans! Look! Tee-hee’.

Vader was great (despite the daft Modor base- if you'd nearly died in lava would you live in a lava mill?!) and the way he was used to link to the next film was pretty good. Despite agreeing on the tone issues mentioned by Zhaoyun here, I must disagree with the idea that two Chinese actors is an issue. There are tonnes of random Brits (hello Daniel Mays!) because it was largely shot here; that's just practicality, and if the desire to connect to more regions through diverse cast is pure business, the result is a joyfully eclectic sea of faces (Riz Ahmed my personal favourite) that better represents a multi-cultural galaxy than the blandness of New Hope. Echoing Brian, Jones however doesn't get to shine here and I wonder what was lost in the reshoots…

The overall feeling I am left with the morning after is a film that worked hard to be reverential in a way that makes more sense than the dubious recalls of Awakens, and yet had a very keen sense of its moral purpose. The story of the rebellion is enjoyably muddied by the complexities shown here (Luna’s behaviour a standout) and the ongoing darkness of the Empire, summed up in Krennic’s poignant “well, you have to start somewhere”(kudos for the accent by the way Mendleson!). I agree entirely with others here that this is a fantasy for our corrupt, violent and rapidly globalising times.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: TV, Film & Movies

Welcome to our annual holiday gift guide, where the flock takes a break from talking about all the awesome and not so awesome things to... talk some of the awesome things you might want to consider for your Holiday shopping this year. And, unlike Joe's entry, this will be 100% Hamilton free.

Joe: For the Hamilton obsessed in your life (Editor's note: are you kidding me right now)

by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Others
(why are you doing this)

While less explicitly speculative fiction than everything on this list, one could certainly make an argument about the Hamilton musical itself being alternate history due to the race bending cast (and a number of people did last year in considering the soundtrack for the Best Related Work Hugo Award). In the case of the Hamilton Mixtape I'm more than willing to put forth the idea that Lin-Manuel Miranda and Nas wrapping on the sublime "Wrote My Way Out" is some sort of best and alternate dream of our world and even though it really happened, is still so perfect that it surely counts. Also, this is NERDS of a Feather, and if Hamilton love isn't the best example of Nerddom, I don't know what is. The Mixtape also features contributions from Dessa (don't miss "Congratulations"), Usher, The Roots, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Chance the Rapper and more!

Shana: For the horror obsessed in your life

2015, Dir Guillermo del Torro

Crimson Peak is a masterful and beautifully rendered gothic horror/romance movie. The plot centers around a young woman being swept off her feet by a hopeful businessman and inventor come to the city to meet with her father. They soon wed and he whisks her away to his family estate which sits atop a blood-red clay deposit. Unclear if the poor woman is haunted by her past or her new husband's, we watch as secrets slowly reveal themselves. The stunning visuals transport the viewer into Guillermo del Toro's world and serve to create a sensory experience unmatched by many. The bonus features allow for an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at how Guillermo del Toro created this lavish world. This movie will delight any gothic horror fan and provide endless enjoyment with multiple viewings just to catch all the delightful details.
Gustav: For the 80's obsessive in your life...

 by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein

Everyone's favorite summer show wouldn't have been the same without the killer score by Dixon and Stein, who are both in the incredible Austin-based synth band S U R V I V E. It's hard to remember the last time a TV show had original music this evocative--probably Seinfeld.

Brian: for the person in your life who has a strong tolerance for dumb humor

Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan (dirs.)

I know you're probably laughing already, which is good! Get warmed up, because you're going to laugh at Sausage Party. Sausage Party is stupid. It's really stupid. It might be the stupidest movie I've ever seen. It's 90 minutes of computer animated food talking and trying to have sex with each other. I've spent a lot of time wondering how Sausage Party got made; who thought of it, who wrote it, who listened to the pitch, who agreed to make it, who distributed it, and how did they sell it to theaters. But when I was watching this movie, I was laughing. It got the most laughs out of me I've had all year. It's so incredibly stupid, but it works.

Dean: For the person preparing for January 20th in your life

Mad Max: Fury Road: Black & Chrome
 Dir George Miller

Fury Road is in my top five favorite movies for a whole host of reasons. Its few detractors knock it for "not having a story", which is silly, because it has an amazing story. We are just used to being spoon-fed stories from movies, whereas this is a masterclass in not telling us anything, but rather presenting it organically and viscerally.

Speaking of.

Black & Chrome takes that to new levels- George Miller said he meant for it to be this way, and who are we to argue with ol' Happy Feet? In any case, this is an amazing take on an amazing feature, in a way that most films would suffer from, but for this base brutality of storytelling and spectacle, feels just right.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Toys and Novelties

Welcome to our annual Holiday Gift Guide where the flock takes a break from talking about all the awesome and not so awesome things to, well, talk about some more of the awesome things that you might want to consider for your Holiday shopping this year. Today we'll talk about toys and novelties, but throughout the week you will see other things to consider as well (games, apps, movies, and more).

And, as you can see from the first item on this list, everything is awesome and Legos are still the best!

Dean: for the gift to put under your tree
Lego: The Batman Movie set pictured, but any Lego set will do.

by The Lego Group

I say this every year, but you can't go wrong with Legos (shaddup about "the plural of Legos is Lego"). No, seriously, you can't. For anyone under 15, and a large number of people over, this is an easy gift. You can get some perfectly good kits for under $20, or if you want to put yourself in someone's good graces forever, anything from the Ultimate Collector Series is sure to impress, with myriad options in between.

Mike:  For the practical collector

by The Loyal Subjects

There are a wide range of vinyl collectibles on the market and they are great for the budget conscious collector who doesn't want to spend an arm and a leg.  What sets The Loyal Subjects apart against the competition is the "action" aspect of its vinyl figures.  Each blind box includes multiple accessories, and there are multiple points of articulation to boot.  Not only do you get the thrill of opening a blind box (who doesn't!), but you get a high quality figure that will really bring you back to your childhood.  They pull on all of your nostalgic heartstrings as any good collectible should, featuring Masters of the Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe and more.  In addition to looking great on the shelf, they are a blast to play with!  One thing my son enjoys on a daily basis is hanging out in my office and playing with my toys. He is particularly fond of my MOTU vinyls.

Dean: For the adult collector

Star Wars pictured, but lines include Marvel, DC, and many more!
by Sideshow Collectibles

Let's be honest- those of us on this site (Mike and I, anyway) have not abandoned our childhood love of toys. I have shelves in my office dedicated to them, and am in the middle of a Lego project that is no less than 36"x48". Not every gift has to be of the Lego UCS magnitude, but if someone who likes such things and you want to make their holiday, allow me to direct you to Sideshow Collectibles.  Detailed, high-end figures (read: dolls) for every geeky walk. It will set you back a couple hundred, but I guarantee you, it will be worth the smile on my face. I mean theirs. Whatever.

Mike:  For the gift that keeps on giving

Collector Corps Subscription
by Funko

My love of all things Funko is no secret and I was thrilled when they began to offer a subscription box.  There are other subscription boxes on the market, but only one that includes 100% Funko exclusive goodness.  While I am recommending the Marvel Collectors Corps subscription, they also offer DC and Star Wars boxes as well.  I personally love that these boxes only arrive every other month so you don't get too much stuff, and that if you are a Marvel fan you will enjoy every item.  Other subscription boxes include filler that needs to be tossed each month, but with the Funko boxes you get at least one exclusive Pop!, t-shirt, patch, pin, and more.

Dean:  For the toy to cram into a stocking

by Hasbro

Action figures! There is a certain subset of (sub-)humanity who is boycotting Star Wars because of its emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism. I assume you, gentle reader, celebrate this movement instead of oppose it (if not, you are probably on the wrong website). That said, when The Force Awakens came out, there was a problem in the representation among even the most basic of toys. Rogue One is making efforts to correct that, and for under $10, you can stuff a stocking with Jyn, Saw, Baze or any other of the brave Rebels struggling against Imperial tyranny. That sort of ideal might come in handy. You can up to the $20 range for the larger, more detailed "black" series.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Games (of all types!)

Winter is the perfect time for gaming. It's cold and wet outside. You've got time off for the holidays. Friends and family are around. So get together and enjoy some games of all types! We've got some of the very best here in our Games gift guide. Check them all out, and share the love!

Mike: for the battling wizard in your life

Harry Potter: Battle of Hogwarts

I had a chance to watch other people play this title at Gen Con this year and it immediately jumped to the top of my most wanted games.  One thing my family enjoys greatly is playing cooperative games.  It is easier for the kids to lose together and it is extremely satisfying to win a game together.  My kids (ages 9 and 6) just finished the fourth book so this game is timely for us. Having said that, I wanted to make sure that I didn't spoil anything for them playing this game.  One thing that is brilliant about this game, is that it is divided up into 7 games, with the cards from those games lining up with the corresponding book. This system also allows the players to decide on what difficulty level to choose.  Much like the books, the game starts off simple and then really ramps up after he who must not be named comes to power.  The game is a deck builder, and games 1-3 almost serve as a tutorial for those who may not be familiar with this style.  More experienced players will want to start at least in game 3, but the way the game is organized it is easy to revert to any previous game depending on who you are playing with.  The components for this game are phenomenal (my son mimics the motions on the spell casting cards) and this is a must buy game for the whole family.

brian: for the demon slayer in your life

Bethesda Softworks

Doom was my favorite game this year. There were plenty of opportunities for it to go wrong, but it succeeded magnificently in making a new game with respect for the original's legacy. This may be a new game with new mechanics but it's still fast paced action focused on movement and utter demon destruction. The gameplay loop of shooting and executing demons to get health promotes the kind of in-your-face action that was so prevalent in the first two games and has since been discarded by much of the FPS genre. There is no cover in Doom. You will not wait for your health to recharge. You will not pop and stop. You will kill demons. You will make them fear you. You're going to fight like hell.

Shana: for the nostalgic gamer in your life

The Oregon Trail Card Game
Pressman Toy

Okay, full disclosure, I don't actually own The Oregon Trail Card Game but a friend of mine received it for his secret santa and has been sharing how much he is loving it. Now I'm obsessed with getting it for myself and thought others might like to know about it as well. It is for 2-6 players and a full play through will take about 30-45 minutes, allowing for multiple attempts to blaze The Oregon Trail successfully in an evening. I adored this game in the computer lab of yesteryear, and I can't wait to enjoy it once again!

Joe: for the person in your life who wants to stab everything

Dishonored 2
Bethesda Softworks

I'll be upfront with this: I neither have played Dishonored 2 nor do I own a PS4. So, why recommend the game for this gift guide? Simply put, playing the original Dishonored earlier this year was one of the most sublime gaming experiences I have had in some time and finding out there was a sequel was almost enough to cause me to buy the next Playstation just to play Dishonored 2. The original is nearly perfect, offering multiple ways to achieve your objectives and I highly recommend you play that, too, but Dishonored offers so much promise and is so good that regardless of whether or not you choose to play the original, Dishonored 2 is an essential game. 

Mike: for the competitive stargazer in your life

IDW/Pandasaurus Games

This game had quite a bit of buzz leading up to its release and I am happy to report that the early praise was well deserved.  The mechanics of Starfall are very simple and easy to learn, but the decision making process each turn will hurt your brain in a good way.  Players assume to role of astronomers who are competing over who can identify the most elaborate formations in the night sky.  On your turn you have three options.  You can either add a new sky tile to the board (if there is room), bump the price of a sky tile down, or purchase a sky tile to add to your collection.  You earn various multipliers depending on what is on your sky tile, so it becomes a difficult choice in terms of when to buy.  Players have a fixed amount of money in which to spend and once it is gone it is gone. One of the players who I played with at a launch event described the game as "elegant" and I couldn't agree more.  Easily one of the more mechanically sound games I have ever played and one that is sure to spend a lot of time at the table at my house.

brian: for the adult you want to introduce to games in your life


If Doom is the game you get for adults who used to play action-y video games, INSIDE is the game you get for adults who've never played video games. INSIDE's simple controls allow the player to pay attention to the beautifully crafted game world. It's a grim game, but it's impossible to put down once you've started. INSIDE makes one of the best cases for games as art. It tells a story without uttering a single word, and does so in a way that wouldn't have worked as well as a simple movie. What makes it work is that you're a part of it. It's a short experience, but it's powerful and grim and should be played by everyone.


POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014