Games seem to be the thing on my mind, these days. I suppose the cold weather is a strong influence on my staying indoors, where it's warm and I can keep my coziest garments on. I did get up to playing some board games with people though:
Thursday night MJ and I discovered the joy of Lost Cities, a simple two-player game that is deep enough to keep one always thinking, but quick enough to not get bogged down with lengthy turns. Perfect for filling up half an hour.
Friday night I went to a CFI board game night, where I got to try and enjoy Shadow Hunters, which I liken as a version of The Resistance but with hit points. It doesn't have the same social directness as there's no need for accusations or protestations. Much more tactical, and at the same time more tame. I didn't much care for the artwork, or the visual design choices -- that card font is just awful.
Saturday Jenning's wife had a birthday party where a group of us played The Resistance, which is always good for a few big laughs. It's amusing to see people's personality get played out when they are forced to act, to lie, and to plead innocence. Why should a witch-hunt be so enjoyable?
The rest of the weekend I stayed in, playing games of the video variety. I also saw two movies -- Battle Royale (2000) and Punch Drunk Love (2002), both of which I've been meaning to see for a long time. Battle Royale delivered on its promises, and though I had steeled myself against the violence before it came, I found it not so bad, not as gruesome as I'd imagined to experience. Perhaps it was seeing it on a sunny Sunday afternoon with cats at my feet but I wasn't shocked at all. Well, certainly 14 years of violent films, many of them owing homage to BR, has inured me to the graphic horror. I liked the ending, the very ending, leaving one with the idea that life is a game, a game in which you must fight to survive, and that trust, true trust, is a valuable thing to be cherished and held.
I didn't know much about Punch Drunk Love, other than hearing that Adam Sandler was excellent, which he was. I have to admit, I though the film would be about an alcoholic. But it's actually much more nuanced, more human, more insightful than the title implies. Like any great film, each scene is precise, each look meaningful. The only question, in my mind, is why Lena, Emily Watson's character, would be so attracted to Barry (Sandler) -- her explanation was weak, and indeed, I feel like we needed to learn a bit more about her. Overall, however, I enjoyed the film -- it kept me gripped and interested throughout, until suddenly, abruptly, they were saying goodbye, a window briefly opened now closed. And seeing the late Philip Seymour Hoffman was an unexpected bonus, bless his soul, his goodbye far, far too early.
I almost forgot to mention Risk of Rain! I've put in about 10 hours over the weekend, since purchasing it on a suggestion from a friend at work. I'm generally not a big fan of side-scrolling jumpers, but there's enough of a Rogue-like quality to the game to keep me going -- you build your character from found items, you grow in strength with experience, and the maps are partially randomized. The 8-bit aesthetic is also a big draw for me. Apparently the co-op multiplayer is a blast, but I've yet to try. I've so far unlocked two more characters, but the Commando's roll ability is just too useful for me to switch. We'll see. I'm not a fan of the increased-difficulty-over-time mechanic, especially since much of the game is exploration and your little man moves soooo slowly.
And I still hate jumping puzzles. Hates them.
Finally, yes, I'm still playing the Hearthstone! I got to 10 wins with a Paladin in the Arena today. It's remains my favorite class: Argent Protector, Aldor Peacekeeper, Truesilver Champion -- such good cards! Ugh what a nerd.
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