Game Review – Bring Out Yer Dead by Upper Deck Games

pic2265983_mdI had a wonderful time at the Origins Game Fair (we’ve been going for over a decade!) and found some faboo games – some of which I’ll be reviewing here over the next few weeks and months when I’m not prattling on about writing and my own books.

Hey, you can’t say that my blog is boring!

Anyway – let’s start off with a brand new game out of the blocks – Bring Out Yer Dead by Upper Deck.

First a lovely disclaimer – I was lucky enough to play this at Origins and not only got to see how it worked but won a copy! Yes, if you went to the Upper Deck area and got in a game with four other players the winner not only won the game but also won the game!

So my thanks to Upper Deck for allowing me to take a copy home with me… and I can tell you this is a fun game you’ll want to add to your shelves as soon as possible!

pic2245393_mdThe concept is pretty simple – you’re the head of the family and responsible for laying your relatives to rest – except the graveyard is getting pretty full, prime real estate isn’t to be had unless you’re fast and sneaky and if you don’t watch out you’re going to have coffins floating down the river!

Yep. That.

Each turn you and your opponents will get to place coffins in the graveyard, taking up spaces that generate points. There’s the obvious strategy of snagging the most expensive spaces first out of the gate but there’s other things to watch – for example, every turn you get a new “cart” into which you must place your coffins. But when it’s full, it’s FULL and you may end up dumping the rest of your coffins into the river. So when you choose your three cards to play each turn you’ll be keeping that in mind.

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Gameplay is fast and fun – one player turns over the card depicting the size of the cart and which side of the graveyard is going to be used that turn and then everyone chooses three cards from their hand to play. It goes from highest number down to the lowest with the high numbers getting to place their coffins into the cart first. If you play low numbers you might not get your coffins in at all… But you can also get Fate and Treasure cards that will affect where you place your coffins – you might end up switching coffins with another player, placing your dear dead relatives in a better spot while tossing his coffin to a lower point site. Or you could end up with treasure from plundering the graves!

Point scoring is through a variety of ways from grabbing simple straight high-point coffin spots to ruling the majority of a lot to graverobbing – leaving plenty of ways to win or lose!

This game is great for everyone in the family with fast, entertaining turns and a whole lot of fun – while strategy is obviously a big part of the game there’s no guaranteed way to win. In my own game I went from having zero points to winning at the end when we counted up the points because I not only had my coffins in good grave sites worth ten points but I also had the majority of coffins in certain areas and despite losing points for having some in the river managed to win.

I highly recommend Bring Out Yer Dead if you’re looking for a good fun game with plenty of morbid, macabre humor. It scales down to two players and up to five without any issues and I daresay will be snatching awards in the next year – be sure to get your copy now!

.@TheMarySue Casually Smears Romance: Twitter and I Respond

sherylnantus:

‘Nuff said.

Originally posted on The Amazon Iowan:

Today we’ll unpack an article from The Mary Sue. “Tropes of Love: Gender Roles in Romance.” Sounds like a wonderful topic. We need more discussion of romance, and gender roles, and tropes are the best! Let’s go.

“I’ve always felt a strange fascination with romance novels. There’s no genre that the general public will associate with bad books faster than romance, with their bawdy covers and superficial plotlines. Of course, that’s an enormous generalization.”

Yes. That’s quite a generalization. It’s also disrespectful, it’s perpetuating an insulting stereotype, and it’s demeaning. Wow. Awkward start. But do go on.

In truth, romance has its good and bad books just like any other genre. Some are brilliant and some will make you feel ill. But there is something special to be said about bad romance novels: they illustrate gender roles better than any other form of media. It’s the books where the…

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Designing Worlds explores the Literary World of New Babbage

Originally posted on Designing Worlds:

Join us at 2pm today, Monday 8th June for what might be an unexpected episode of Designing Worlds atour studio in Garden of Dreams, when we’ll be learning about the surprising very real world literary output of the steampunk city of New Babbage – a city based in Second Life.

This is a rather different show for us as usually we get caught up in dangerous adventures when we visit the city. But this time we are able to three of the people closely involved with the development of New Babbage’s Literary output. We learn about the inspiration for this – the determination that what had been created in New Babbage would live beyond Second Life through publications in the real world. And we hear about some of the writers who have been involved not only in the creation of the three Tales from New Babbage books, but…

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Cover reveal! Strictly Business – Book one of Hooded Pleasures!

I’m thrilled to announce the first cover in my new erotic romance series with Samhain Publishing – I give you Strictly Business, Book One of Hooded Pleasures!

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You can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.

Coming October 20th from Samhain Publishing!

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And there’s two more books on the way!

Strictly Pleasure and Strictly Yours – due to be published in March and May of 2016!

So set aside a little reading time to meet Kate and Alex – you won’t regret it!

But wait… let’s take a look at what Kate Dubois is all about–

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Strictly Business

Kate Dubois was bored.

She looked down at the man nuzzling her bare ankle. She’d let him strip off the leather boot after he’d pleaded for the privilege, begged for ten minutes.

His lips ran over her ankle, soft kisses caressing her skin. He sighed as he worshipped her body.

A memory resurfaced of Carl, kneeling at her feet and doing the same. It’d been different, felt different—his body tensed up like a watch wound one twist too tight.

He looked up, and she knew it was over.

Kate gulped.

“Mistress?” Dan looked up at her with wide eyes. “Am I doing something wrong?”

Damn.

“No, pet. You’re perfect.” She reached down and patted his head before tangling her fingers in his long black locks. A gentle tug brought a moan from the kneeling man. “But I don’t recall giving permission for you to speak.” Kate ran her fingers along the leather collar. “Do you?”

The momentary flash of panic in his eyes warmed her heart.

She tapped the leather paddle she held in her left hand against her leg. “I thought not. I think a few strokes should remind you of your manners. Continue your venerations while I make my decision about how many you’ve earned with your disobedience.”

He shook with a mixture of need and fear before bending down.

Kate switched the paddle to her right hand and eyed the already-pink skin on Dan’s exposed behind. She’d worked him over for a good half hour, bending him over his couch like an errant schoolboy.

He could take ten more strokes.

Maybe twenty.

Dan gasped as the black leather snapped against his sensitive skin, but said nothing, continuing to lick and kiss her bare foot.

Nineteen to go.

The soft chime from her phone reminded her she had fifteen minutes left. Kate smiled and continued the count.

Never leave a good job unfinished.

Never leave them fully satisfied.

She’d pulled on her track pants and sweatshirt while Dan was in the washroom, trading her boots for a pair of comfortable sneakers. Most times she could slip her trench coat on over her attire and leave, but it was a bright and sunny day outside and the coat would only raise more questions than it’d quell.

Dan met her at the door, wearing a pair of shorts and with a damp towel around his neck. The leather collar was gone, safely tucked away. He was still munching on the chocolate bar she’d given him during their post-session hugging. His pupils were focused and clear, showing her he’d come back to himself after the intense emotional trip.

“Thank you.” He held out his debit card. “Really needed this today.”

She smiled. “Glad I could help you.”

In another life, Dan was a high-priced lawyer, one of the best in the city. He ran his law firm with an iron grip and was famous for his vicious verbal attacks in court that eviscerated lesser lawyers and their clients.

Here, he was a bad boy needing to be punished and put in his place for imagined slights.

Dan couldn’t go to a regular BDSM club—the danger was too high he’d be recognized. Thus he’d become a client of Hooded Pleasures, the company Kate worked for.

In retrospect, she wondered why no one had thought of doing something like this before. Safe, sane, consensual and all within the privacy of your own home. There were plenty of men and women who wanted the experience but couldn’t or wouldn’t go to a club. Or who wanted the thrill without the relationship.

This was perfect.

She ran his debit card through the slot on her cell phone and handed it back to him. “Two weeks from now, then?”

He nodded, his steely blue eyes a thousand miles away from the meek sub she’d had at her feet earlier. “I have a big murder case coming up. Definitely need the time.”

“I understand.” Kate hefted the duffle bag onto her shoulder, the leather paddle safely tucked away with her other toys. “Please call the switchboard if there’s any change. I’ll see you then.”

He opened the door to let her out. “Nice sweats.”

Kate smiled, going with the joke. “Feel the burn.”

“Next time, then.” Dan raised his voice as Kate walked out into the hall. “Need to work on my cardio.”

It wasn’t for her benefit.

Kate nodded at the nosy little old lady neighbor who peeked out from two doors down.

Mrs. Henderson never missed a chance to eavesdrop on what happened on her floor.

Good thing Dan enjoyed the ball gag.

Game Review – Survive: Escape from Atlantis! by Stronghold Games

Last year I received an email from Amazon for Cyber Monday, the next “holiday” after Black Friday. It listed a number of board games and one of them was Survive: Escape from Atlantis!  with a note on the cover saying it was the 30th Anniversary Edition.

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This intrigued me because I’d never heard of the game before. So I snagged it on sale along with others and waited to see what the game was all about. If it’s been around for thirty years, I figured, it had to have some staying power.

Good news: It does. And you definitely want this game for your collection along with all the expansions you can gather!

Let’s start with the premise. You, an intrepid explorer, has found the fabled Atlantis and have been merrily exploring the island! However the island has started to sink and you need to evacuate yourself and your team before you perish – don’t worry, there’s small islands off to the sides you can escape to and survive… if you can get past the sharks and sea serpents, the whales and your competitor who wants to be the only one alive to report the find!

That’s the story. Now let’s set up the board! You start with a lovely board with the aforementioned islands in each corner. The base game goes from two – four players so there’s plenty of room to stake out your home base. Next you build the island.

Yes – I said build the island. That’s one of the big draws of this game – every time you play it’ll be different. Each player now takes a turn to place one hexagon tile on the board within the defined lines. There’s three types of terrain – beach, forest and mountain. And the tiles vary in thickness from the thin beaches to the thicker forest to the Very Tall mountains. So after you run out of tiles you’ve built a three-dimensional board to play on.

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After this you choose a color and collect your meeples/valiant explorers. Players rotate placing one meeple on any tile until you’ve placed them all – and each player gets two boats that they can put next to any tile (not only the beaches) to collect and sail your meeples to safety. Each boat holds three meeples… but anyone can use any boat!

Each turn you must play a tile (more on that in a second) take a tile off the map and move some meeples – or the boat they’re in. When you remove a tile you check the information on the back and see if it can help you or hinder your opponents because there’s more danger here than just the island sinking! Sharks roam the waters eager to snap up meeples swimming to safety, whales can destroy boats trying to make it to shore and sea serpents not only wipe out boats but also eat the swimming meeples. The tiles allow you to place these creatures and move them around the board to attack your opponent. The opposite is also true however and you can find yourself quickly trying to get your people to shore while chased by a series of sharks.

Some tiles do help out however – some allow you to move sharks away from your position, for example, or bring in dolphins to help your meeples to make to shore. Meanwhile the island is being chipped away and in danger of being destroyed by a volcanic explosion!

There’s another level of strategy being added here – obviously if you have X number of meeples and your opponent have the same number it’s not hard to figure out when you’re falling behind in the count and can’t possibly win the game. A few well-placed sharks or whales and you can lose meeples faster than you can munch potato chips… but there’s a trick here!

It’s not the number of meeples you save that determine the winner – each figure has a small number written on the underside showing how many points that meeple is worth – from one to five points. So you could in theory save only two or three of them and score higher than your opponent who brings home a lot of low-pointed meeples. This final bit makes this a much more fun game and adds more strategy to you and your opponent’s gameplay as you try to put on your poker face and not show where your high-point meeples are while trying to get them to land.

After playing this a few times it’s easy to see why it’s been around for thirty years and why it’s not only spawned expansions but also another upcoming version taking place in Space – it’s a fun game that changes every time you play it and has a level of strategy that makes it great for family play. Add in the three-dimensional game surface and I’m wondering why I didn’t find this game before!

If you’re looking for a fast fun game for your family shelf I highly recommend Survive – it can be played with just two players but runs best with four – and the expansions allow you to go up to six players, making this a great game for your buddies!

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Arrow: 10 Things You Must Know About Tonight’s Wedded Nightmare

sherylnantus:

*Kermit-flail* Can’t. Wait. Until. Tonight!

Originally posted on TVLine:

Wednesday’s Arrow (The CW, 8/7c) brings with it the nuptials of Oliver — excuse us, Al Sah-him — and Nyssa, but the specter of that dreaded union will be the least of everyone’s worries by the time the crazy cliffhanger rolls around. Let’s just say the seven-day wait until next week’s season finale will be torturous.

[pmc-related-link href=”http://tvline.com/2015/04/20/may-season-finale-spoilers-2015-sweeps-photos/” type=”RELATED” target=”_self”]May Sweeps/Finale Preview! Get 100+ Spoilers, Exclusive Photos From Your Fave Shows’ Season-Ending Episodes[/pmc-related-link]

Having screened the penultimate episode, “This Is Your Sword,” we’re divulging seven teasers that should ensure you get to the proverbial church on time:

* Holy, epic fight sequence! When Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, Malcolm and Tatsu land in Nanda Parbat with the hopes of saving their city from the Alpha Omega virus, a battle breaks out against The League (with a last-minute assist from Atom) that might be the show’s lengthiest and most impressive to date.

Arrow Season 3 Oliver Nyssa Wedding* Diggle’s…

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Will Forever‘s Jo Learn Henry’s Secret? The Series’ Stars Have a Theory

sherylnantus:

Love this show – great writing, excellent characters… hope it makes it to a second season!

Originally posted on TVLine:

Let’s get one thing out of the way straight off: Forever‘s Ioan Gruffudd isn’t in love with the idea of Alana de la Garza‘s Jo figuring out what’s really going downstairs at the antiques shop.

“I shudder to think of it at the moment,” Gruffudd said, laughing as he considered the notion of his character’s immortality becoming public. “The beauty of it is, the audience knows the secret and nobody else does, apart from Abe.” (And, of course, Adam.) “I love the dynamic and the tension that’s always in the air.”

PHOTOSMay Sweeps/Finale Preview: 100+ Spoilers and Exclusive Pics From Your Favorite Shows, Including Forever

So he must adore Tuesday’s season finale (ABC, 10/9c), which finds Jo growing ever more suspicious of the eccentric Dr. Henry Morgan — and increasingly frustrated with his flimsy explanations and disappearing acts. We won’t tell you whether or not the good detective gets close to Henry’s truth during the…

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I’d Rather Like Men Than To Be a Sad Puppy

sherylnantus:

And yet another display of why the Sad Puppies are nothing but a bunch of grumpy old men… and idiots, IMO.

Originally posted on Whatever:

And to be clear, it wouldn’t be anything close to a difficult choice.

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And another one bites the dust… again…

Recently another small publisher announced they’d be closing – Breathless Press. The news came to me via two routes – the first being via a fellow author on Facebook who discovered that instead of spending today preparing for the new release of her latest book she’ll be worrying about getting her titles back from BP and what to do with them. The second came via a thread in the Bewares forum at the Absolute Write website where the various problems of this particular publisher had been discussed for months.

It’s a strange time to be an author. While there’s more ways to be published than ever before thanks to the rise of small publishers and the ability to self-publish there’s also many, many more ways to have your heart broken when the celestial wheel spins over and crushes you at the bottom.

Not all small presses are bad. Not all big publishers are bad. Not all self-publishers are bad. But there’s enough of a flux in the industry right now that I don’t think there’s any absolutes anyone can lean on. That small press you’re looking at might fold in a year – your large publisher might be bought out by a competitor in a few months and your literary line discontinued; your self-publishing debut could be lost in the flood of new releases coming out from good and not-so-good authors as we all rush to the public screaming for readers.

As an author it’s hard to know what to do. But the best we can do for ourselves and for our friends and family who have to deal with us when we’re running around the house screaming and ranting is to do our research. Be diligent no matter what path you take; research who’s offering that helping hand and don’t be afraid to back off if your inner gut is telling you to beware.

Check out that small press looking for submissions. That agent who approached you on Twitter thanks to a pitch you made one day. That big publisher offering you a contract because you got yanked out of the slush pile. That editing service looking to help you get that new novel out via self-publishing.

Sure – research can be messy and take time. A good place to start is the Absolute Write forum and Writer Beware – don’t be afraid to ask around and see what experiences others have had with your possible partners. Do the Google, do the asking. Yes it’s still possible that you’ll end up running into the field to scream at the stars but if you’ve done your research at least you’ll have the consolation of knowing you did the best you could with the information you had.

And in the end that’s maybe the best we can all do for ourselves and others as authors – speak up if you see small publishers doing wrong, sing out if you see author services abusing those who they claim to want to help. Send your thoughts to Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware if you don’t want to speak up publically.

But let’s be careful out there. Right now I sense the whole publishing world is in a wee bit of a flux and no one really has all the answers. And anyone who tells you otherwise is probably looking to dip into your pockets somehow…

Keeping Up With the Hugos, 4/20/15

sherylnantus:

For those of you keeping track of the Hugos debacle… the voice of sanity and reason!

Originally posted on Whatever:

Hey, look, I’m home! Finally I’ll have a Hugo post whose comment thread I’ll be around to moderate. So let me present some not-terribly-organized thoughts on the current state of things (if you missed my previous Hugo-related posts on Whatever, they are here, here and here; also, File770 is doing a fine job keeping up with all the latest on the Hugos):

* I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m having a schadenfreudilicious time watching Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen now desperately try to put sunlight between themselves and that toxic bigot Vox Day, but I’m not going to lie: I am, and also, it’s not working for them at all, as there is a fairly obvious evidence trail to suggest there was hardly any sunlight between them until Day suddenly became inconvenient. Correia and Torgersen are two guys who brought an arsonist to a party, and when the arsonist…

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