Becaus Your Dad Was A Necromancer Before You

28 02 2011

Source: forum.rpg.net

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Fridays@Hobbymania February 25

27 02 2011

Image courtesy of Boardgamegeek

We only managed to play two games this Friday – but they were pretty good.

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Friday’s @ Hobbymania Feb 18. Edition

20 02 2011

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Last Friday was another great night of fun at Hobbymania. I managed to play the Castle Ravenloft boardgame from Hasbro, the classic Samurai Swords, and another round of I’m The Boss.

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Catching Up With Fridays@Hobbymania

17 02 2011

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Well, I was writing up a massive, massive review of every Friday Night@Hobbymania for the past few months – but, alas, my memory and the forgetting to save thing got in the way.  In lieu of a detailed accounting, delight in the slideshow above and the descriptions below:

– I kicked the God of Death and Rebirth’s ass as a furry in Runebound using the Mists of Zinaga expansion. Contrary to being an aimless dicefest it now became an Arkham Horror-type game – though this time a single man – or mancat as the case maybe – could take down a god.

– Was Sister Teresa in Nun On The Run. She was sneaking around after curfew for a slice of cake. Almost reached my rooms, but alas, Sister Celestine managed to get back first with her bottle of opium. Yes, it was that sort of game.

– Was a captain of Industry. I’m either horrible or great at economic games on the first round – I was horrible this time.

– Went on to lead an Automobile company. Was not so horrible at it – if not for an unfortunate loan, I’d have won.

– Put Intrigo on the table – a delightful little filler that had a last round with almost all of us having a chance at winning. Turn order and smart plays decided the winner of this Venetian intrigue game.

– Played 7 Wonders – a nice little civilization building game that lasts only 30 minutes. Definitely deserves being one of the games of the year. Won one game out of three that had over seven players in each.

– Tried to conquer the rum-running industry during Prohibition in Bootleggers – essentially another economic game –  which means I lost. Alas, my kingdom for another rum truck!

Incan Gold, the world’s most elaborate game of multi-player Chicken, in which you are explorers delving a heavily-trap-laden Incan temple, also happens to be very fast. Got in several games with a one win. Alas my poor native workers died via fire, snakes, demon children and rocks falling on their heads.

– Sirlin,  the Streetfighter gaming genius, released Yomi, essentially a non-collectible one-on-one card game with ten decks in the original set and it is rocking. Was Jaina and Hitsuki and kicked ass. Simple and intuitive, plus a 54-card deck for every chara is great. 100 dollars a box for the complete game and a two very beautiful playmats is a great deal.

– Finally, played Sid Sackson’s classic investing game I’m The Boss. Miscalculated in the math and ended up handing someone else the win. Still, them’s the breaks.

Really, that much fun for 30 pesos a night can’t be beat. Friday Nights@ Hobbymania is open to anyone willing to come – plus, Hobbymania is always open Monday to Saturday for those wanting to play; my friend, Jay Mata, the proprietor knows all the games by heart and is willing to teach.





Raining Cats And Dogs

13 02 2011

While I try to finish my mammoth catching up to the past two months of Fridays@Hobbymania, enjoy some kitties and doggies!

Source: OnlineSchools

 





A Double Dose Of Redemption: Shaolin And The Warrior’s Way

9 02 2011

Redemption’s one of those universal themes. Everyone likes the idea of becoming better – of being cleansed of the past. It resonates well with any audience. That’s why we’ve got tons of movies about that hitman trying to make good – all the way from John Woo’s The Killer to the Pang brother’s Bangkok Dangerous (both Nic Cage and non-Nic Cage version). Ironically enough, the road to redemption seems to be as bloody as the road from it.

Aaaanyway, that’s enough of that – we’re here to talk about two movies I watched recently: Benny Chan’s Andy Lau-helmed Shaolin and the international Korean production The Warrior’s Way. These two are so damn different that you’ll have a mood whiplash if you watch them back-to-back – they both have two takes on the redemption theme. But what they do they have in common is this: a horrible, horrible local marketing campaign, and buckets of blood. Not just buckets – drums and gallons of the red stuff is thrown around on the screen as if it were an Jackson Pollock canvas.

The marketing was the usual for obscure films – namely those that don’t come from big studios – in the Philippines: low-key and sometimes blatant misinformation. That’s the reason why I used the foreign posters. I mean, really, if the guys who made the flick had a great set of promo pics – use them. Thankfully, I knew of two these from foreign film sites, namely the guys at Twitch.

To make a long story short, I scoured the local listings for where and when and went to Megamall to savor some chop-socky action. I wasn’t disappointed and I was even pleasantly surprised.

Shaolin is a great ensemble movie – but what really brings it to life is Andy Lau. Andy’s been a mainstay of HK films since I was a toddler – his enduring popularity a proof of the man’s charisma. The great thing is that he can also act – as proven in his star turns in Infernal Affairs and House of Flying Daggers. Wu Jing, Fan Bingbing, Nicholas Tse, and an extended cameo by Jacky Chan round out the star-studded cast – and all of them are pretty much put to good use. Andy Lau’s the warlord Hou Chieh in early 20th century China and he’s on top of the world – married to Fan Bingbing, ruling his own little corner of China, a pretty daughter, and Nicholas Tse as his lapdog/toady. Of course, he’s had to kill a lot of people to get there – but hey, everything’s fine as long as he’s on top. Of course, we all know where this is going…

So as to avoid the spoilers – he ends up in the Shaolin temple and ends up becoming a monk. And, yes, as everyone knows, his past catches up with him. The way I describe it may seem like it’s rather paint-by-numbers – but when you watch a movie, you watch it for visuals; at least, that’s what I do. If you’re familiar with kamishibai or shadow puppets, you know that it’s how the story that is presented that sometimes matters. However, don’t worry – no plot holes in this here film. It’s actually a pretty trimmed down piece, honed and sharpened to deliver the climax – and trust me it is climactic both emotionally and plot-wise. The word to best describe it is “cathartic”.

Of course, in a movie that boasts over fifty real Shaolin monks as participating – along with Jacky Chan – you will expect fights galore. It doesn’t disappoint – acrobatic and well-choreographed by Corey Yuen, it also manages to infuse its kung fu battles with a spirituality that is near zen-like.

At its heart though, Shaolin is more like those old-time swords-and-sandals epics like Quo Vadis or Ben-Hur than Snake Over Eagle’s Shadow. You know, the ones with the Christian ending. Because, baby, this is a Buddhist movie and that ending shot of Andy Lau – pure spiritual poetry. Amituofu is a constant refrain in the film – mistakenly but also appropriately translated as “Buddha be praised”. I enjoyed it and it made me think – something which I try to avoid to do when watching movies.

Also, it has Fan Bingbing:

Yeah, reason enough to watch it and good enough to pay for a ticket – even if it was another extended cameo.

From a movie that required my conscious mind to work, we go to pure hind-brain cheesiness. The Warrior’s Way stars Korean heartthrob Jan Dong Gum – who was cruelly photoshopped out of local posters and replaced by the Ninja Gaiden guy- as an assassin who has a change of heart when he’s ordered to kill a baby, the last of his clan’s enemies. The Sad Flutes, his aforementioned employers, are not exactly pleased. It all ends in a town in the Old West, more sand than dirt, and the ending only needed some kid to cry  “Shane” to make it perfect.

The guys over at Twitch call it a Guksu Western – a play on the Italian spaghetti westerns of the 70s, Korean noodles substituting for the red-drenched pasta. It’s a pretty honest description – the script is not deep, the plot points can be predicted beforehand, and a lot of people die – either by getting shot or sliced. However, this is pure fairy tale or more properly tall tale as the opening narration by Geoffrey Rush hints at us. Sometimes you don’t get deep storytelling from fairy tales – what you do sometimes get is pure spectacle: the final setpiece battle for the town is pure eye candy and an adrenaline rush. Two words can be used to describe it: Ninjas versus cowboys. Yeah, the movie stumbles a bit, at times, but I can honestly say I got my money’s worth.

Plus Kate Bosworth is the hottest she’s been since Blue Crush:

Both films are still on at SM Megamall for those interested. Check with ClickTheCity for local times.





Going, Going, Gone: The 2nd National Philippine Go Association Tournament

7 02 2011

A blog post over a half-a-month late – definitely a sign I’ve been to busy.

Well, last January 15, the Philippine Go Association had its second national tournament – I’d pretty much say it was a pretty successful one, considering that we had a larger turnout than last year. Admittedly, a 27-player turnout in another country would be accounted as dismal, but we’re in the Philippines, where Go/Wei Qi/Ba Duk hasn’t had much penetration into the mainstream. You’ll see guys in street corners playing chess or checkers, but you’ll never see Go in the streets – unlike in many East Asian countries where the game is an obsession, with national institutes dedicated to playing the game.

A local game in progress

An ancient game of strategy played on a 19×19 board, Go is played with black and white stones being placed on an empty board until all territory has been claimed by either players. A gross simplification of the rules – but the rules themselves are pretty simple. It’s the infinite permutations of the board that make it worth playing – it’s like watching Conway’s Game of Life being animated not by algorithms but two players.

 

The venue at the UP Diliman Science Atrium

The tournament had over four rounds – I participated in three and had to bail out for the fourth. The prizes for the top players were pretty great. They were as follows:

 1st place:
 - 2011 National Go Champion title and trophy
 - cash prize: P5000
 - book: Essential Life and Death vol 4
 - Korean-style Insei League on KGS 1 month membership (95 USD)
 - +12pts in PhGo International Tournament Qualification
 2nd place:
 - cash prize: P3000
 - book: Essential Life and Death vol 4
 - Korean-style Insei League on KGS 1 month room access
 - +8pts in PhGo International Tournament Qualification
 3rd place:
 - cash prize: P2000
 - Korean-style Insei League on KGS 1 month room access
 - +5pts in PhGo International Tournament Qualification

 Self-paired side event:
 - 1 Go set from KABA

That’s a pretty impressive haul.

Anyway, we had participants from all over: Cebu, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, and Cavite. We even had foreign participants from Korea and England. The top spot was claimed by Kim Sunyong of Korea, a dan level player. In addition to the players, we had the PGA’s Japanese patron, Mr. Izeki, and Seol Ki Hong and Seunghyun Lee showed up to show support and play a few teaching games.

For those interested in learning this deep and interesting sport, or want to find other players, and you live in the Philippines, contact the PGA at the website linked above or join the Google groups.