May the 4th Be With You – 2022 Plan

May the 4th be with you! May the 4th has a special place in my heart because I’m a big Star Wars fan and I look forward to this month every year. Every May, I dedicate the whole month to Star Wars. I wanted to share my official plan for this year as far as the books I want to read, the shows I want to watch, and the video games I want to play.

Books and Comics

I have three books on my list to read for the month of May. The first book is Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray. This book highlights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan before the events of The Phantom Menace. I have a soft spot for the prequels, so I like that more of the Canon Star Wars books are taking place during this era. The second book on my list is Leia, Princess of Alderaan (Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi) by Claudia Gray. This book focuses on Leia as a sixteen-year-old girl who starts to begin her dive into the fight against the Empire. The final book on my list is Resistance Reborn: Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rebecca Roanhorse. This book focuses on Rey, Finn, and Poe before the events of the final movie in the trilogy. This book has mixed reviews, so I’m going into reading this book with a mindset of wanting a fun adventure between the trio versus this being the best book I have ever read.

As far as comics, I have three graphic novels on my list: Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol #1, Star Wars: The High Republic Volume #1, and Princess Leia Volume #1. I have a few comic book store trips planned this month, so I may pick up Star Wars comics as I see fit.

Movies & TV

My number one priority is to finish Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I typically only watch the show during May, but we shall see if this is the year where I finally finish it! Besides The Clone Wars, I do want to do a re-watch of The Mandalorian. There’s also The Book of Boba Fett and Bad Batch. My focus this month will be on the Star Wars TV side of things, however, I would consider doing a re-watch of Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. I did a move re-watch a few years ago, and I don’t think I made it through those three. I know for a fact that I haven’t watched The Rise of Skywalker since I saw it in theaters, so I may add that to my list. There’s so much content and such limited time to watch it all.

Gaming

This should come as no surprise since I wrote about this recently, but I’m still going through LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. I’m at the end of episode III right now. My goal would be to complete all episodes by the end of the month, but that seems like a huge task. I do have Jedi Fallen Order on my list to play as well, however, I don’t think I will have time to complete both games.

May the 4th be with you and don’t forget that May 5th is “Revenge of the Fifth”!

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – First Thoughts

I had my eye on LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga since the game was announced. I’m a fan of LEGO games as I think they are a relaxing game to play in between something more intense. I wish I would have pre-ordered this game. As it turns out, it was difficult to find a copy. I lucked out because I was able to find a last-minute copy at Best Buy on the PS4. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is an extravagant rendition of a nostalgic game.

The first thing that jumped out at me was how open-world this game is! I’m on episode #2, Attack of the Clones, and I like that I can explore Coruscant in great detail. There are bricks to collect, side missions, and characters to unlock. It seems every Star Wars planet will get this same overhaul. This goes beyond being a LEGO game. My husband walked in while I was playing through this game and laughed when he realized I was simply walking around collecting bricks and not advancing through the story. I love that there is so much to do.

Speaking of collectibles, there are at least 1,000+ blue bricks to collect throughout the game. I’m a completionist which means I like collecting everything and unlocking every single trophy. It’s going to take me forever to unlock everything, but it’s a challenge that I have accepted.

I wanted to keep this post short and sweet. Once I complete the game, I will write a more in-depth review. My first impression of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is that it’s a game well worth the money and perfect for any Star Wars fan of any age.

Donuts and Sinkholes – Donut Country

Xbox Game Pass is so worth the money. I mentioned Xbox Game Pass before and I will keep reiterating how much I love it. There are so many games to choose from and I like being able to try a game to see if I like it. During the week, I like playing relaxing games such as Animal Crossing or visual novel games like Coffee Talk. I don’t want to have to concentrate on something as work at times leaves me feeling drained. One game I decided to try was Donut Country.

Donut Country is a puzzle physics game in which players play as a sinkhole that will suck up various buildings, animals, and people in this town. The story follows Mira who along with her raccoon friend, BK, works at the local donut shop. BK started doing donut deliveries in order to save for a remote-controlled helicopter. Mira learns that instead of donut deliveries, sinkholes have been dispatched and sinking various residents. BK realizes that something is amiss as he doesn’t want to sink the town, he only wants his helicopter. How will Mira and BK revert the town to the way it was before the sinkholes?

The gameplay in Donut Country is where the game thrives. I had a lot of fun maneuvering this sinkhole around. Since some of the objects are larger in size, the sinkhole has to be appropriately placed to complete a level and capture the objects. Some levels have a puzzle component where certain levers have to be pulled and objects are catapulted out of the sinkhole to complete the level. I liked the puzzle aspect of the game as I think it added a layer of complexity to the levels. Besides the puzzle aspect, I liked the graphics. They were cute, colorful, and had their own memorable art style. It’s clear the town takes inspiration from LA. The boss level is similar to the Griffith observatory which I have been to before! I thought it was a nice touch to see where the game draws its inspiration from.

The only downside I can think of to the game is the story. The story at times felt a bit convoluted. I’m still not sure where the sinkholes came from. It’s revealed who summons the sinkholes, but I’m not following how they randomly popped up. I think that the point of the game is to be unrealistic, so I think it’s worth suspending some disbelief while playing Donut Country.

Donut Country was an entertaining and relaxing game to play. I probably wouldn’t have played this game had it not been on Xbox Game Pass. Donut Country is available on Xbox Game Pass.

Doctor Who Fluxx

I haven’t played board games in such a long time! I used to play board games regularly whether it be with friends or with family. Thankfully, I was able to join a family board game night last weekend. As we discussed what we should play, it was decided to give Doctor Who Fluxx a shot. I have never played a Fluxx game before trying out Doctor Who Fluxx. Doctor Who Fluxx was so easy to learn and was incredibly quick to play.

The basis of Fluxx is the rules and the objective to win are included within the cards. To win a game, a player must meet the goal. There are different goal cards included in the deck that can be drawn and played. Besides goal cards, there are rule cards that will change the rules of that particular round. This can include increasing or decreasing maximum hand size, altering the number of cards drawn per turn, and changing the number of cards that can be played on one turn. There are keeper cards that are played in front of the table along with action cards which allow for shenanigans to occur.

Since this was Doctor Who Fluxx, the cards are emphasized with characters, themes, and language from Doctor Who. The keeper cards could be the various doctors or companions. My personal favorite was the Ponds as I ended up winning one round by having a Tardis and the Ponds as keepers on my board. There were creeper cards that were memorable Doctor Who antagonists such as Daleks, Cybermen, and the Weeping Angels. As I was playing through Doctor Who Fluxx, it reminded me that I’m due for a Doctor Who re-watch soon.

Doctor Who Fluxx is the perfect brewery, or picnic table game. It’s easy to teach someone else how to play, it’s quick, and it doesn’t take up a lot of room on a table. I’m tempted to order my copy to have on hand. Doctor Who Fluxx can be purchased at your local game store or anywhere where games are sold.

Inspiration & Hellish Rebuke – Adventurer’s League Recap

The last time I played in Adventurer’s League was before the holidays. Zehiri, my Tiefling Paladin, almost died because I kept rolling so poorly. I played Adventurer’s League at Red 6 Games in St. Paul. I like the DM who leads the sessions, and I don’t get to go to St. Paul that often, so I find playing at Red 6 is a treat. I’m happy to say that Zehiri did so much better in this session and I didn’t die.

Our session took place in the village of Parnast. Our contact, Regnar said there were thefts and other petty crimes occurring in the town. Regnar accused a local carpenter, Gundolin Cartwright, as the suspected culprit as he has refused to build a watchtower to protect the town. Regnar offered our group 50 gold if we could apprehend the person who was responsible. As our group conversed with Gundolin, we interpreted that he was innocent and another individual named Tove was responsible. As our group followed Tove into the forest, a battle ensued with numerous orcs and an ogre coming to greet us.

In this session, I earned my first inspiration from the DM. Inspiration is when the DM feels there’s roleplaying or character development that’s worth a reward. Inspiration can allow for any character to re-roll a die. I received inspiration because Zehiri helped get the group together. Our group was a bit all over the place and I cast a cantrip called Thaumaturgy which allows for my voice to become a megaphone of sorts. I told the group to calm down and think for a second. The DM liked that I did that hence I got the point of inspiration.

Another cool moment for Zehiri was in the big battle. There was a female orc champion by the name of Korgath who was targeting me. I had Zehiri taunt her a bit into attacking me. She dealt 13 damage to Zehiri, but I was ready. As a reaction, I have Hellish Rebuke. Hellish Rebuke is a reaction spell meaning I can cast it even if it’s not on my turn if my character is targeted. As I cast Hellish Rebuke, I rolled 3 D10s of damage which was enough to kill her. Korgath attacked me, I taunted her and I used Hellish Rebuke to turn her to ash. How cool is that?

Along with the roleplaying session, one of the players brought his son. His son was between the ages of 6 – 8 as he was still learning math. He was playing a Rogue, so he would do sneak attack damage. As he rolled the dice, his dad was helping him add up all of his damage. It was the cutest thing. We all knew the answer, but we didn’t tell him until he could add it all up for himself. It goes to show that D&D can be educational as there’s a lot of math involved whether it be in combat situations or skill checks.

From this session, Zehiri is now level #4. I’m on the cusp of leaving the beginner’s session and moving into the more advanced session for levels #5 – #9. I’m thrilled that Zehiri was able to live throughout the whole session and I’m excited to fit another Adventurer’s League session into my schedule.

Controllers & Coffee BizarreBrunette Gaming Update #4

It’s March! This means spring is right around the corner. I tend to do most of my gaming in winter as there’s not a whole lot going on otherwise. I’m looking forward to writing these gaming updates to keep me on track for gaming throughout spring. I wanted to spring into my latest gaming update.

Consoles

I’m currently playing through Far Cry 5 on my PS4. Far Cry 5 takes place in the Montana plains and focuses on the main character taking on a cult. This cult is bonkers and I have no shame overtaking an outpost to help the resistance. Far Cry 5 makes me want to visit Montana as the world is so pretty.

In my last update, I mention playing Animal Crossing. I’m in another lull, I don’t think I played at all through the month of February. I have so much to do with my island, so I do want to get back into playing on a regular basis.

PC

I had some issues with loading Steam. Thanks to a quick Google search, I was able to fix the issue I was having. I started playing Coffee Talk. Coffee Talk is a visual novel about a coffee shop owner who sees a variety of supernatural customers coming to order coffee. This feels like if D&D took place in a coffee shop, that’s what Coffee Talk reminds me of. I’m liking it so far! During the week, I tend to not want to play a video game that requires too much effort, so Coffee Talk and Animal Crossing are a perfect fit to play after work.

I still have Nancy Drew Warnings at Waverly Academy to complete. I haven’t had any desire to play the Nancy Drew PC games. If I’m feeling it, I might return to the game this month.

Board Games

For my mom’s birthday, we played a few games at my apartment. Me and my brother taught my mom Exploding Kittens and she loved it! She wanted my brother to buy a copy of the game. My mom has been getting into board games more which is fun to see. She likes simple games, nothing too complicated. Exploding Kittens is a great game for those who like simplicity, but also games that don’t take hours to play.

Roleplaying

Curse of Strahd is still ongoing and fun. In one of our latest sessions, our barbarian got bit by a vampire and fortunately, I rolled high on a blood hunter check, so we were able to prevent him from being turned. Our group still has no process if we get bit by vampires, so that’s something we have to figure out or we won’t last through this campaign. I’m playing at Bad Wolf Adventure Studios and once Curse of Strahd is complete, I do plan on hopping into another campaign as I think Bad Wolf does a great job at professional DMing.

Tomorrow I’m playing in Adventurer’s League with Zehiri, my Tiefling Paladin. She’s the character I reserve for Adventurer’s League sessions. I haven’t played Adventurer’s League since December, so I’m excited to play.

Miscellaneous

For gaming news, the new Pokemon starters have been released. I’m partial to Sprigatito because it’s a grass cat! As a cat person, I’m happy. However, Fuecoco is growing on me. He’s a cute fire gator. While I think Quaxly is adorable, I think Sprigatito and Fuecoco have grown on me. Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet are set to release late this year on the Switch.

My goal for March is to get farther into Far Cry 5, complete Coffee Talk, and level up Zehiri in Adventurer’s League. Let me know in the comments what you’re playing through.

Curse of Strahd – Defeating Our First Vampire

I’m currently in a Curse of Strahd campaign that meets every other Thursday. For those unfamiliar, Curse of Strahd is a Dungeons & Dragons adventure where players come to Barovia to attempt to save a prince from a curse. It’s hinted that the prince is a vampire. When I first started the campaign, I debated writing weekly posts about our sessions but decided against it. Instead, I wanted to write an occasional post where something big happens in our campaign. In this post, I wanted to recap how our group killed our first vampire.

Our group finished defeating a few black tentacle creatures before reaching this church. As a side note, my character, Lavenia, nearly got mauled to death, so I was not looking too well. Our group arrived at this church to lay to rest an NPC’s father. As we arrive, the priest is acting like a creep and we hear screaming from the floorboards. Our group determines that there is someone underneath and through investigation checks, this screaming is from the priest’s son who was turned into a vampire.

Our group debated for a long time as to what we wanted to do. There were two options that we went back and forth on:

  1. Do nothing. Let the vampire trapped underground stay there and hope he doesn’t escape.
  2. Kill the vampire and put it out of its misery.

After a long conversation, it was decided to kill the vampire. One member of the party stayed above the floor, while the rest of us went downstairs to confront the vampire with our stakes. The vampire, instead of attacking us, attacked the member of our party upstairs. She was pulled underneath and bitten by the vampire which was really bad. If our group didn’t do something, she would have become a vampire that we would have had to kill. Our clerics fortunately were able to save her by doing some spell that I can’t remember off the top of my head. It took five of us to hold on to the stake and I used a cantrip called Eldritch Blast to magically shove the stake further into the vampire which dealt the killing blow. Lavenia got the killing blow on the vampire which is easily one of the coolest moments I have ever had playing D&D.

This was easily one of my favorite roleplaying sessions I have ever been a part of. The stakes were high and my character got to do some badass stuff. I’m enjoying Curse of Strahd so far, and I wish that my character gets to live through the adventure although it’s all up to the role of the die.

SQUARE ENIX Redeems Themselves in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

SQUARE ENIX had a rough start with their superhero games. I reviewed Marvel’s Avengers at the end of 2020 and it was such a letdown. I was adamant that I didn’t want anything to do with SQUARE ENIX and superhero video games. Last year, SQUARE ENIX released Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and I was astonished to hear the game was getting rave reviews with Google stating 95% liked the game. While I was apprehensive, I figured if other gamers liked the game, it can’t be that bad. It certainly couldn’t be worse than Marvel’s Avengers. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was an entertaining space saga that I would absolutely re-play.

The game opens with Star-Lord aka. Peter Quill leading the Guardians to collect items to hopefully sell and gain credits. As the Guardians explore, Peter stumbles upon a yellow stone and much to Peter’s immature personality, he uses the stone to accidentally release an alien into space. As the Guardians flee, they are captured by Nova Corp and forced to pay a fine for illegal contraband. Once the Guardians have the credits to pay their fine, they head back to Nova Corp and clearly, something is wrong. Nova Corp seems corrupted and they viciously attack the Guardians. It’s clear that whatever Peter released is setting off a chain of events that could lead to the entire galaxy being mind-controlled. The Guardians of the Galaxy are ready to take on this all-encompassing alien being.

To start off, I like the look of the Guardians. Peter is sporting a buzz mohawk of sorts which I think fits in with his persona. Do I dare say that I prefer Star-Lord in the game to Chris Pratt’s film version? Star-Lord is the only playable character, yet since he’s the leader, I can use him to direct the other Guardians to attack. Another fun way this game uses the Guardians is through a huddle. A pink meter is filled as the Guardians unleash their attacks and once the meter is filled, Star-Lord can call for a huddle. As the Guardians express their thoughts, Star-Lord can give an enticing speech. If done correctly, the Guardians are given temporary health protection. In addition, 80s music is played once a huddle is completed. Nothing creates more energy during a tough combat sequence than 80s music playing throughout. This was a great way to incorporate the energy of the Guardians in their own video game.

Another intriguing aspect of the game was allowing for choices. For example, in one chapter, the Guardians come up with a plan to scam Lady Hellbender by pretending to sell one of their own. The player can choose whether to pretend to sell Groot or Rocket. I chose Rocket. Since I made this choice, the plan ended up failing and I ended up having to fight my way out. However, if I would have chosen Groot, the plan would have worked, therefore it would have eliminated the need for combat. While most of the choices are harmless, the choices the player makes can allow for galactic assistance throughout the tougher chapters. I thought it was a neat idea to include something like this in a superhero game.

Throughout the chapters, there are various collectibles, gear, and character outfits to collect. As a completionist, I do plan on going through the game again and collecting everything I missed. My personal favorite is the outfits because as they are unlocked, it’s shown which comics displayed that particular character’s outfit. As someone who hasn’t read many Guardians of the Galaxy comics, I liked learning more about each outfit and storyline the outfit corresponds with.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a surprisingly well-made game. I was not expecting SQUARE ENIX to do a great job as their track record isn’t great. I’m happy to say that this game is so worth playing. I’d rate Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 9/10.

Professional D&D – Bad Wolf Adventure Studios

The toughest part of playing Dungeons & Dragons is finding the time. I have joined several D&D campaigns that fizzled out. I joined some campaigns where I didn’t connect with the players and another campaign that fell apart because we couldn’t find a time that worked for everyone. Professional D&D is on the rise where you can pay a DM to coordinate your gaming group. In Minneapolis, Bad Wolf Adventure Studios is a professional D&D studio that will run games for you.

I found out about Bad Wolf through a Facebook ad. I figured I’d contact the studio and find out what this all involves. I was contacted right away and put into a group that met every other Thursday. This was perfect for me because it didn’t feel like a full-time commitment. There was a session zero where I worked with someone to develop my character. I didn’t feel uncomfortable for asking questions and was made to feel at home. While I have been roleplaying for a while, 5e D&D rules still confuse me, so I wanted to be in an environment for beginners. Bad Wolf is a great place to learn how to play whether you’re a beginner or have been roleplaying for years.

Since this is professional DMing, there is a cost. Each session costs $25. For some, this may seem expensive, however, I find that it’s worth it. When players are investing in their session, everyone is more than likely to show up. The most frustrating part of D&D is when players don’t show up for their sessions. Since everyone is committing financially, this has removed this frustration from gameplay.

In my limited experience with Bad Wolf, I can’t recommend them enough. Everyone was kind and friendly to beginners. It’s clear our DM knows a lot about the game and doesn’t have to constantly look up the rules. Once my group is finished playing through Curse of Strahd, I immediately want to dive into another session. If your area doesn’t have professional DMing, it might be worthwhile to talk to a friend and pay them for their time. Professional D&D is a game-changer for roleplaying and I’m happy to have found a long-term D&D campaign.

Controllers & Coffee BizarreBrunette Gaming Update #3

2022 so far has been a strong gaming year. I have set gaming goals for myself to achieve this year as I want to tackle my video game backlog. Additionally, there are a few games I’d like to see myself re-play such as Life is Strange as there have been two new games released in the franchise I haven’t played yet. I wanted to share my latest gaming update starting off 2022.

Consoles

I have been mainly playing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on my PS4. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this game has been such a blast to play. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is made by SQUARE ENIX who produced Marvel’s Avengers which was such a mediocre game to play. I only bought Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy because the game was highly rated. This would be the perfect game to play next year before the next Guardians of the Galaxy film is released.

I have also gotten back into Animal Crossing New Horizons. I played for two months straight last year and then I took a hiatus. Animal Crossing can get extremely repetitive especially because I still owe 400,000 bells on my house. I ended up missing the game, so I have been playing regularly throughout the month of January. I named my island MaplePeaks as I love fall. I want to make a spooky/autumn-themed island. I still have a lot of work to do to make my island what I want.

PC

I have been currently playing through Nancy Drew Warnings at Waverly Academy. Whenever I play a Nancy Drew PC game, I like to play it in one sitting. I haven’t had a chance to finish the game, but I hope to in the next week. Besides Nancy Drew, I did try playing Parkasaurus which is a simulation game in which the player builds a zoo with Dinosaurs. Unfortunately, the game lagged quite a bit on my PC, so I ended up uninstalling this from my laptop. If I upgrade to a gaming computer, I may give this game another shot.

Board Games

With the current spikes of Covid-19, I haven’t been out with friends playing board games. I hope to have a board game night soon. This is the one section of my gaming updates that I haven’t been able to share anything new which makes me sad. I love board games as it’s a huge part of my gaming identity.

Roleplaying

I shared briefly in my last gaming update, but I’m in an ongoing D&D campaign. My group is playing through Curse of Strahd which is a campaign centering on a cursed prince who is revealed to be a vampire. My character is named Levenia Monterfo and she’s a half-elf blood hunter. She is a blood mage meaning she uses her own blood to cast spells. I love playing her character. I selected Eldritch Blast as a cantrip and I have been wreaking havoc in battle. I haven’t been in an ongoing D&D campaign since 2019.

I do want to get back into Adventurer’s League as well with my other character, Zehiri, a level #3 Tiefling paladin.

Miscellaneous

My husband for Christmas bought me a handheld Dig Dug electronic game. Dig Dug is my favorite arcade game and I played it a lot when I was a kid. I tend to play Dig Dug a few nights a week before I go to bed.

I love sharing these gaming updates. Gaming has been one hobby that I have found decreased over the past few years, and I feel that sharing these updates has helped get me back into gaming regularly.