Gaming Unplugged: Steam Park

So it turns out the robots love amusement parks. In the board game Steam Park, it’s your job to provide fun rides and handy stands to give these robots the best time of their lives. Steam Park is a fun and innovative game from Iello games, the publisher of the very popular Kings of Tokyo.

Steam Park is a management game where each player decides how to build, expand and maintain their theme park to attract robot patrons. I realize it sounds a little odd but trust me Steam Park is a great little strategy party game. The game mechanics use strategic planning and speed to move the game along really make it interesting.

One of Steam Park’s high points is the art direction of the game. There is a very whimsical and fantastic feel to all of the rides and stands that the players use to build up their parks. The illustrations are fun and very appealing to the eye. The art direction is very creative and I feel has hints of a Miyazaki movie built into it, especially the rides.

steam park

The game play is a good mixture of speed, planning and sacrifice. The object of the game is to collect money and improve your park while trying to keep on park maintenance. This is all done with rolls of the dice. Each player will try to build the biggest and best theme park to attract the most attendees. Players can build rides that come in different sizes or stands that have strategic use. Each stand has its own special ability. Instead of taking individual turns like in other management games, like Stone Age, Steam Park adds a twist of simultaneous play with benefits for being faster than the other players.  Steam Park also is a game designed to be played quickly.  After six rounds the game is over and the player with the most money wins.

Each round starts with all of the players rolling six dice simultaneously. This adds a layer of excitement not normally seen in a management style game. The players are rolling dice looking for specific results. Each side of the dice represents a different aspect of managing the parks. If a player wants to build rides they’ll be trying to get a different dice face to show up as compared to if they wanted to build stands or attract customers.  With everyone rolling at once the board can get a little hectic, but fun.

The rolling phase does come with extra attributes. This phase is all about speed. Players can re roll any number of their dice. But if a player is too slow getting the dice roll that they like it could affect their park in a negative way. There are bonuses for getting the dice roll you need first also. Players must also lock their dice once they’ve decided what actions they are looking to complete. If one of your dice flips over after it’s been locked, that’s really unfortunate for you. You suck it up and deal with it. I did when it happened to me.

Next, depending on how fast you were at rolling your dice players take turns spending their dice to either, build rides, build stands, clean dirt, draw robots or expand their park. Different dice faces allow the players to do these different actions. Rides entice robots to visit your park and stands give you special abilities. All the things you want for your park come at a price. Most of them will also make you take on more dirt in your park. The more dirt you have the more dice you have to sacrifice in later rounds to remove it.  You’re dice choices are the largest part of the strategy to the game.

Building rides is where the money is. Without rides you can’t get robots, without robots you can’t gain money, and without money why are you playing this game? All of the rides are these fantastic Studio Ghibli looking wonder buildings. There are six different rides with three different sizes. The larger the ride the more dice you must spend to build them. You’re welcome to build multiple rides per turn but never the same sized ones. So if you roll four ride dice you can build a size three and size one but not two size two rides. Also when placing your rides in your park there are different placement rules everyone must follow. With the limited amount of space that the players start with you need to realize what you’re building and where you’re putting it during while you’re rolling. You can expand your park also, but again that will cost you dice.

rides

Stands are your other building choice. There are different types of stands that allow you to improve your dice rolls and assist in your robot picks. I think the most helpful stands to have in your park are the Direction stands, covered in arrows, and the Toilets. Direction stands allow you to temporarily use robots of the wrong color for your rides and the toilets double the amount of dirt that can be removed per die. There are also Security, Promotional and Casino stands, all with their own bonuses. Build them and use them wisely.

I know you’ve seen me mention “dirt” a lot through this article. Dirt is bad. The more dirt your park has at the end of the game the more money you lose at the end of the game. You can actually have so much dirt that you automatically lose.  Dirt piles up with everything you build and every robot you have in your park. Robots are the key to winning but they do come with that one drawback. The more robots you have making you money, the more dirt they leave behind every turn. You can roll shovels with our die and each shovel roll allows you to remove one dirt and if you’re fast in your rolling you can remove extra dirt. If you’re too slow in your rolls though you will gain extra dirt. So again….dirt bad.

steam park 2

There is one last element to Steam Park that could change your strategy. Everyone always has at least three bonus cards. You can choose to ignore these cards altogether or you can use them to gain extra money. All of the cards have different ways to earn money. Some will give you money for stands, some will give you money for even the dice you roll. There are many different ways to use these. But again if you want to use a bonus card you have to roll a die for it, so they take away from your ability to perform other tasks.

I realize that this must be the longest board game review I’ve written and if you’re still with me, bully for you! Steam Park may seem like an overly complicated nonsense game, but it’s not, I promise. The game is simple, fun and fast paced. It’s also short. There are only six rounds per game. It’s an excellent strategy party game. I would like it better if it supported more than four players but you can’t have everything. I like Steam Park because it’s really different than other management style games and a lot easier to jump into. It’s definitely one of my new favorites.

Diggin’ Through the Crates: RZA “We Pop”

Song: “We Pop”

Artist: RZA Ft. Division & Ol’ Dirty Bastard

AlbumBirth of a Prince (2003)

Lyric: “I cock arm, pass the bomb, like Troy Aikman/Play the basement like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.”

 

Character Reference/Meaning:

Welcome back DTCers! Hope you all had a fantastic 4th of July. Over at Hush headquarters, we celebrated the great Red, White, and Nerd! Let’s keep it going, shall we? This week’s DTC features a repeat rapper, the one, the only, the RZA. This track comes off of his 3rd solo studio album and brings with it not only a powerful message, but some supreme nerdiness as well. Like all rap artists, RZA strives for success (he already found it if y’all didn’t know), and in order to be successful you have to make it happen. If you are to become one of the greats and have little boys and girls listening to your hits when you are long past, you have to do one thing. Work. If you don’t put in the work, and have no dedication to your craft, then no one will respect it. That is exactly what RZA expressed in this so skillfully executed nerdy comic reference.

Since 1989, or even before, RZA has been dedicated to his craft. He has put in the work from day one and look at all it has gotten him: multiple albums, countless soundtrack features, tons of features on albums and has been named one of the top music producers according to Vibe, NME, and The Source. RZA has also showed us his acting and directing chops in various films. If you people out there don’t think RZA is neither a star nor a nerd, just Google “RZA” and “Afro Samurai” together, and let all your doubts fade way with your embarrassment for being so foolish. It’s easy to see that RZA is a nerd simply based on this lyric. He doesn’t say “Batman and Robin;” he uses their secret identities. If you know secret identities, then you may be a nerd – congratulations.

RZA understands the importance of having a solid work ethic. Regardless of what you do, if you don’t do it with conviction and dedication, someone who is putting in the work will pass you any day now. Regardless if you are writing the next big comic book, or starting to write your first rhyme, you should strive to be hall of fame quality. You need to be Troy Aikman in a sense, and put everything you have into that one pass. Give your heart and soul into your work, and the work will speak for itself. As you all know RZA goes hard in the paint and truly shows off his craft by using a skillful comic book reference. Most rappers starting out, or even today find their basement to be the base of operations. With eggshell cartons lining the wall, and pantyhose over the microphone, the basement becomes a true recording studio. For aspiring artists on the come up, that basement is the Batcave. In Gotham, if there was no Batcave, would there be a Batman and Robin? If the answer is yes, would they be as effective as they are? Every person, despite the craft, needs a place to make the greatness happen. Batman and Robin have the Batcave, Superman has the Fortress of Solitude, Iron Man has the Stark Tower, and RZA has the recording studio. Similar to the Batcave, the infamous basement recording studio is both out of sight, and underground… I see what you did there RZA, I see it. If you aren’t working hard when you are out of sight and out of mind, then dedication isn’t part of your skill set. Because if you do work hard, who knows, you could be the next RZA, you could be the next Bruce Wayne, you could be the next Dick Grayson. Work hard, do what you do, and make the basement proud!

“Respect My Craft” – Nicholas Brendon

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

dcc font
Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

NOTE: Nicholas Brendon can’t make Denver Comic Con.  So sad!  We will see you next year!

Name: Nicholas Brendon

Profession: Actor

Notable Work: Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“I want people to say, ‘Nicholas Brendon, he’s supposedly the nicest guy in the world.’ I want to do good work, but more than that, I want to stay a good human being. That’s more important than any character I play.” -Nicholas Brendon

Nicholas Brendon has been in my life for 17 years.  Typing that seems so surreal, and it makes me seem much older than I really am.  When I was 9 years old, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on TV, and I was hooked from the start.  I instantly knew I was Buffy, and subsequently, Nicholas Brendon’s Xander Harris became my best friend.  When I was in 5th grade, I was the new girl in school.  I made fast friends with a boy and a girl and I often roped them into playing “Buffy” with me on the playground.  It worked out well that the boy was named Alex, and he was the best Xander any 10 year old could ask for.  15 years later, when I was lucky enough to attend San Diego Comic Con in 2012, I had the opportunity to meet the real life Xander Harris, Nicholas Brendon.  I remember being very scared, even at 25, to meet one of the people who influenced my thought process and language.  He even gave me the oft said line, “It’s funny if you’re me.”  I nervously approached his table and as sweet as pie, he asked if I wanted a hug.  Who would say no?

Adrian and Nicholas Brendon 2012 SDCC
Nicholas Brendon and I San Diego Comic Con 2012.

Nicholas Brendon was born in 1971 in Los Angeles.  And yes, he does have a twin brother named Kelly. And yes, it is mind boggling how similar they look.  Brendon was a huge baseball fan growing up.  As a child, he dreamed of being a Dodger.  Brendon loved baseball so much that at his own prom, he decided to watch a Dodger game instead.  “We had better music at Sunnydale’s prom than at my real-life prom. And at my prom, I didn’t really have a date, which is sort of what happens to Xander. At my real prom, I kind of ducked out the hotel ballroom and watched a Dodger game until 3 a.m. because it went about 22 innings. And my friends were saying, ‘Oh no! Where’d Nick go?’ I think I was trying to get people to worry about me. That whole teenage angst thing.”  When he was a teen, he injured his arm, making his professional chances slim.  After dabbling in many different careers, Brendon decided at age 25 to try to become an actor.

Brendon’s career really began with Buffy.  He had been in showbiz for about 3 months before he got the job of a lifetime, playing Buffy’s quirky, yet lovable best friend, Xander.  Before Buffy, Brendon had played background roles in Married with Children and Children of the Corn III.  It has been highly publicized that Brendon has a stutter.  He has talked very positively about how he has dealt with it, becoming a role model for people who also stutter.  When it comes to his decision to act, he has said, “I always wanted to be an actor, but with a speech impediment it’s kind of tough. I decided to roll the dice and take an acting class, which was very, very nerve-wracking… my stomach would just be in knots.”  His roll of the dice led to his most notable role.  For 7 years, Brendon was a lead role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing in 143 episodes.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris in BtVS.

Brendon’s Xander started out as a goofy, not so popular skater, and best friend to other not so popular Sunnydale High sophomore, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan).  Over the shows 7 seasons, Xander became more than just comic relief, although he was always good at that.  In his relationship with Buffy and Willow, he was the heart of the group.  Along the way, he ended up becoming the secret boyfriend to the most popular girl in school, the go-to guy about weapons due to his knowledge of the Army, and the only guy on the show without some sort of “label” who also saved the world.  Xander may have been “The Zeppo”, but Brendon’s portrayal of the character allowed everyone to love him.  And led everyone to cringe, wail, and yell violently when he got his eye poked out.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).

Since Buffy ended in 2003, Brendon has been in roles intermittently, though he admitted in his panel at Comicpalooza 2014 that he believes he has been typecast.  Despite that, he is a recurring character on Criminal Minds as Kevin Lynch, a technical analyst and love interest to the character Penelope Garcia.   He also played Lee McHenry, a rapist, who had a 4 episode arc in Private Practice.  He has spoken on how emotionally difficult that was to play.  Aside from acting, in 2010, Brendon and artist Steve Loter started an online comic, Very Bad Koalas.  Currently, Brendon helps write the comic adaptation of Buffy, contributing largely to his own character, Xander.  In two weeks, Brendon’s new movie Coherence will come out in theaters,  Coherence is a science fiction drama about a group of friends who are together when a comet passes over Earth.  It is being highly touted, and you can read a spoiler-free review here.

Hush Comics is very excited for Nicholas Brendon to come to Denver Comic Con.  Buffy may have ended 10 years ago, but Xander will always be “the heart.”

Most of the media in this article belong to Hush Comics; it  belongs to their respective properties (Mutant Enemy). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with chameleon Karl Urban.

written by Adrian Puryear

We Can Do It! Mystique

“We Can Do It!: Women in Comics, Television and Beyond” is Hush Comics’ answer to what women in comics mean to the world and to us  Visit our page every Monday to learn about a new super lady!

Who:

Mystique

Nicknames/Aliases:

Raven Darkhölme, Foxx, Raven Wagner, and everyone she has shapeshifted into.

Skills:

Shapeshifting, Super Healing, Agelessness, speaks over fourteen languages, and can fight, like, really well.

Origin Story:

This is probably the trickiest “Origin Story” section I have had to write.  The thing about Mystique, one of the most infamous mutants in Marvel’s X-Men history, she is Mystique.  That wasn’t a typo, either.  The Oxford English Dictionary (yeah, I went there) defines “mystique” as, “A fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and power surrounding someone or something.”  So that being said, her origins are a little… mysterious.  It is unknown exactly when she was born, but we do know she is well over 100 years old.  Mystique, or Raven Darkhölme, ran around with (ok, they had a full blown lesbian relationship) fellow mutant Destiny aka Irene Adler, a precognitive from Austria.  Destiny sought out Mystique’s help around 1900 after witnessing many horrific events yet to pass and going blind in the process.  Their goal was to change the future together.  However, both women found that trying to change events was near impossible, and instead decided to achieve individual success.  Together, they formed the second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  It is Mystique’s Brotherhood that Kitty Pryde stops in the comic version of “Days of Future Past.”   Contrary to popular belief (which is no doubt because of all the other media versions of Mystique), she is not a disciple of Magneto.  Mystique is a super villain in and of herself.  Notably, Mystique is the mother of many pivotal characters in X-Men.  With Sabretooth, while posing as German spy Leni Zauber, she birthed a boy named Graydon Creed.  When she found out he was not a mutant, she abondoned him. He grew up to be a politician, one who ran on an anti-mutant campaign.  Before his election, Mystique killed him.  Mystique also gave birth to Nightcrawler with Azazel.  Nightcrawler is an important member of the X-Men.  After giving birth to him, Mystique and Nightcrawler were ran out of town because of his demon-like appearance.  She abandoned him, too.  Later, Mystique and Destiny found a young girl who was scared and alone in the woods.  This girl was a mutant named Rogue.  Mystique and Destiny raised her for years.  Rogue was a member of the Brotherhood before switching allegiances to Professor X.  Eventually, Mystique joined the Freedom Force and worked with the government to detain mutants.  She then became an X-Man, promising to help Charles Xavier in exchange for protection.  However, she reneged on the deal, posing as Foxx to seduce Gambit, her daughter Rogue’s boyfriend.  It all goes to prove that no matter what group Mystique is with, she will always be on her own, working on her next conniving plot.

Why is she important?:

Mystique is pretty much THE female villain in the X-Men universe and beyond.  Mystique is the reason the newest X-Men: Days of Future Past plot even happened.  While often using her powers for evil rather than good, she has always believed in her fellow mutants.  She has taken many in and showed them how to deal with their abilities, particularly her lover, Destiny, and her adopted daughter, Rogue.  Her mission to assassinate Senator Robert Kelly, a popular anti-mutant politician, proves her loyalty to those who share her likeness.  While Mystique acts on her own safety much of the time, she is still one of the fore figures fighting for the rights of all mutant-kind.

all photos belong to Marvel.

written by Adrian Puryear

StarFest 2014

StarFest is an annual convention in Denver dedicated to celebrating all things “Star”, from Star Trek, to Star Wars, to StarGate.  The great thing about this con is that you don’t have to be boxed into any of these Nerd worlds, because all nerds are welcome!  This year, Hush Comics had the luxury of running a panel.  We had a blast!  Here are some of our pictures to share with you… we think they are better than vacation photos!

 

 

Weekend Wrap-Up…March 30, 2014

With Adrian and Sherif in the wonderland that is Emerald City Comic-Con, I will be taking over the weekly news updates, and since we weren’t able to publish on Wednesday, this edition is PACKED with nerdcore details.

Think there is such a thing as too much Spiderman?  Marvel, Spidey writer Dan Slott and Hush all disagree!  Get ready for the Spider-verse!!

Speaking of ol’ web-head, I knew it wouldn’t take long before Disney got on their corporate high horse and decided to be a dick to Stan Lee, telling him that he doesn’t own Spider-Man. It’s the equivalent of telling your grandpa that his service in Vietnam didn’t mean shit for your freedom. Shame on you Disney. Respect your elders; I mean, the guy is twenty years younger than Walt Disney himself and has arguably brought just as much joy to the world.

This might be old news to some of you, but this is Batman’s 75th Anniversary (Detective Comics #27 debuted in May 1939). DC has announced their plans for the year to celebrate the Dark Knight.

On a somber note, original Batman TV series creator, Lorenzo Sempler Jr. passed away earlier this week.  Our cowls go off to Sempler who was truly a trailblazing force for one of the most iconic and popular heroes of all time.

EA says that upcoming Star Wars games will try to follow the Batman: Arkham model. Good news is that Arkham games are awesome. Bad news is that the last time EA tried to model something after another publisher, we got NBA Live 14. Why not emulate Mass Effect? We hear that was pretty good.

Looks like we’ll all be able to start liking our friend’s status in a whole new virtual world we wear on our face!!  Facebook purchased Oculus in a move that’s sure to make techies all over the world giddy.  What’s an Oculus you ask?  Think of ski-goggles that put you right in the middle of your favorite video game/virtual world.  Finally – something to take my Farmville experience to another level.

Been practicing your bending skills?  Compare how much progress you’ve made when Book 2 of the Legend of Korra hits DVD and Blu-Ray shelves – officially announced to be released on July 1st.

We all knew whoever was lucky enough to date S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Coulson would have to be  able to hang with the likes of the Avengers.  Amy Acker (AngelDollhouse) is no stranger to action and adventure, so we think she’ll fit right in.  It’s also got us wondering – does Acker really know how to play the Cello?

AMC’s Comic Book Men got renewed for another season. They must really be hurting for new shows. I’m still wondering how they will cope with the end of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Two options: ride The Walking Dead til the wheels fall off or put out a new version of Low Winter Sun every year.

Arnold is back at it again.  Schwarzenegger will play an aged cyborg in Terminator: Genesis, the next installment in the popular sci-fi series.  He did say he’d be back…

This next one left me shell shocked.  I’ve already donned my masked and strapped on my sais.  The first TMNT teaser is out.  Watch it as many times as you can while you wait for that pizza you just ordered.

Also teasing us this week is the first trailer for Hercules: The Thracian Wars.  This one is bound to be better than the other Hercules that dropped earlier this year.  I mean, it stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson pretty much as himself.  Can you smell what the demigod is cooking?

This kid is out of control and Hush is eating it up.

And it case you hadn’t heard – The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale premiers in a few hours!  Catch up on where our wayward survivors by reading our reviews!

So Far this Week… March 19, 2014

With the expansion of Hush Comics, we have decided to give bi-weekly news updates.  Anything we find news-worthy will be posted here bi-weekly.  Have anything to add?  Post it in the comments!

Green Hornet, Red SonjaThe Shadow and Black Bat may be joining the DC Universe as DC Comics is set to buy Dynamite Entertainment.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is finally here! We can’t wait to sit down and play. We should be getting a review out to you all soon!

Studies are showing that fewer people are finishing video-games and developers are saying that plots are overrated. Which side of the fence do you find yourself on? Do you like big plot games like MGS or just find yourself leaning towards more casual games?

How do you feel about Pixar classics being re-released in 3D? Well, 3D versions of The Incredibles and Ratatouille are in the works.

J. August Richards’ (Angel) Deathlok suit has been revealed for Agents of Shield. He looks like one bad mamma-jamma! It will be interesting to see him play the villain, after such a brilliant performance in Arrow.

Street Fighter fans gear up; the final new character for Ultra Street Fighter 4 has been announced as Decapre, a clone of Cammy

Star Wars: Episode VII will be set 30 years after the original trilogy. What a coincidence, since Return of the Jedi was originally released just over thirty years ago.

With Amazing Spider-Man 2 coming out in a month and a half, the last trailer has been released. Drool.

Word has it that Pikachu will be the official mascot of Japan at the World Cup.  Pika-Pika!

Aaron McGruder is producing a new show on Adult Swim, “Black Jesus”.

Tom Hardy will be starring in a Splinter Cell movie.  Women might finally find out what Splinter Cell is.

The second issue of Ms. Marvel dropped today. Learn more about how writer G. Willow Wilson blends humor, Islam and super-powers in one fell swoop.

The Suicide Squad made its debut on Arrow tonight!  Find out how it came to be here.

PS4 debuted a Virtual Reality Headset.  When you wear it, you look super cool.

The Giver officially has a trailer.  Every kid should have read this book.  If you haven’t, go do that right now.  Eek!

Street Fighter is getting its own TV Series called Assassin’s Fist.  Hope you get the channel it airs on.

Assassin’s Creed Unity this fall.  Oui Oui!

written by Sherif Elkhatib and Adrian Puryear