8-Year-Old Defeats Elder God – Betrayal at House on the Hill

Halloween is over and done with. There’s so much build-up into Halloween that once it’s over, I feel a little sad afterward. While I didn’t have the biggest of Halloween plans, I still felt I had a decent spooky season. Two weeks ago, I went to visit my family for a family board game day. This was the same weekend where I played Hunt A Killer which I wrote about a few posts ago. One other game I brought to play was Betrayal at House on the Hill. Betrayal is one of my favorite board games because it’s supposed to be a scary game, it has elements of Dungeons & Dragons in it, and every time you play, there’s always a new scenario to experience. Speaking of which, I wanted to recap our game of Betrayal because it was unexpected, to say the least.

For those unfamiliar with Betrayal’s mechanics, Betrayal is a game where players start cooperative as they explore this house. Tiles are laid down as players explore new rooms. Throughout the game, players gather items and omens. For every omen gathered, there’s a “haunt” roll. If players roll less than the number of omen cards out in play, the haunt begins. This is where the name Betrayal comes into play. Eventually, once the haunt happens, one or two players end up betraying everyone else quickly turning it into a player-versus-player game.

In this game, my uncle was the betrayer, so it became three versus one. My uncle’s goal was to summon an Elder God and our goal was to either kill my uncle’s character or take his summoning book to the chasm or fireplace to burn it. If our characters died, or the ritual was completed, we lost the game. I thought we were going to lose for sure. My uncle’s stats were all increased and when the haunt started, I didn’t have any items which are valuable during the haunt. As we played through the game, it was clear that the Elder God was going to get summoned. At that point, my uncle’s character died and he got to control the Elder God.

As we were moving through the house, my brother ended up going in front of the Elder God to give me space to carry the book to the furnace. After the Elder God killed my brother’s character, this is when I knew there was one shot at winning. In Betrayal, there’s a mystic elevator that will take you to the upper floor, the ground floor, or the basement. A dice is rolled and depending on what I would roll, it would depend on where I got to go in the house. I needed to roll to allow my character to go to the basement because that’s where the chasm was. Thankfully, I rolled successfully, so the mystic elevator took me to the basement and I tossed the book down the chasm to win the game. If I didn’t roll for the basement, I easily would have been killed by the Elder God. I should add that my character was an 8-year-old girl and the imagery of an 8-year-old defeating an Elder God is awesome.

My uncle clearly had a blast playing Betrayal as it was his first time playing. For reference, the base game of Betrayal has 50 possible haunts. I think I have played Betrayal three or four times, so I know that I have so many haunts to experience. If I play Betrayal again in the future, I may write about the other haunt that I revealed. I might start making tabs of which haunts I haven’t played through so eventually, I can reveal them all.

Hunt a Killer – Murder at the Motel Review

When me and my husband moved into our house, our friends gifted us board games as a housewarming present. I always like to add to my board game collection and have new games to play. One of the games that were gifted to us was a Hunt A Killer box. I had never heard of Hunt A Killer prior to receiving this as a present. Hunt A Killer are mystery games that have a case that needs to be solved. Hunt A Killer can be purchased individually or there’s a subscription box where a game is sent on a regular basis. Our friend gave us the “Murder at the Motel” game. Hunt A Killer is an interesting premise that I would try to play again.

“Murder at the Motel” takes place unsurprisingly at a motel undergoing renovations. Julian Foard is found dead in one of the motel rooms in the mid-afternoon. Julian’s close confident, Veronica Rodriguez, calls into a detective agency asking for assistance. The police think she had something to do with his death, but Veronica claims she’s innocent. There are several guests staying in the motel at the time of Julian’s death including a family of three, a real estate agent, the motel owner, and a man who was seen frequently at the pool slightly intoxicated. The goal is to figure out three things: the means (how was Julian killed), the motive (who would have a reason for wanting Julian dead), and the timeline to figure out where everyone was when Julian was killed.

As we opened the box, there were several pieces of evidence along with a locked box with a four-digit combination. My group loves to chit-chat, so I think one of the challenging things right away was getting us all to focus on one thing at the same time versus reviewing all the pieces of evidence separately. I do like that Hunt A Killer can be played solo as I could see buying this and spending a Friday night playing through this. I love the attention to detail within the box. There’s a detailed police report, crime scene photo, several receipts, and other pieces of evidence along with Julian’s journal. It felt immersive even though it was only a game.

While the game said it would take an hour, it took us at least three hours. The biggest challenge was figuring out who was lying about their alibi along with figuring out the combination to the locked box. At first, we were sure we wouldn’t need to use a hint, but eventually, it came to a point where we were sinking several hours into this and not getting anywhere. To be fair, “Murder at the Motel” is listed at medium difficulty, but I’m not exactly sure how that’s scaled. We ended up using a small hint and to our amusement, the answer to the combination was right in front of us.

The biggest gripe I have with “Murder at the Motel” was the solution. My group thought we had it all figured out. However, when we opened the envelope containing the solution, we were wrong about everything. I still find myself thinking through all the pieces of evidence and I’m not finding a direct link between who the killer was and what we reviewed. Clearly, something was missed, but at the same time, if I’m still stuck putting the pieces together, I’m not sure how clearly outlined the evidence was. Instead of feeling satisfied at the reveal, I was left feeling annoyed. I think this is more specific to the “Murder at the Motel” story, so that’s why I would be open to trying another Hunt A Killer box.

Hunt A Killer is a perfect game for anyone who’s a big True Crime aficionado or someone who likes puzzles or escape rooms. As mentioned, I wasn’t a big fan of the reveal of “Murder at the Motel”, but I do think the concept of this is fun. I don’t think I would sign up for a subscription, but I would consider ordering another story. If you played Hunt A Killer, let me know in the comments which one you tried!

Overwatch 2 – First Thoughts

Overwatch 2 is finally out! It seems like there were several delays which surprises me since I felt the first Overwatch game was immensely popular. As soon as the game was released, I downloaded it on my husband’s Xbox Series X. After playing a few games, I wanted to share what I think of the game as it seems like fans of the series have some strong opinions.

To start off, I started playing Overwatch back in 2016 when my husband bought the game for me while we were in college. I played on and off throughout the years picking up Overwatch again during the pandemic. I have always been drawn to D.Va although I switched to Zarya in recent months and now Zarya is my go-to character whenever I play. I have been looking forward to playing Overwatch 2 as I had high hopes for the game along with seeing new maps and new characters being added.

Playing Overwatch 2 doesn’t feel like that different of a game. I was surprised because when I logged into play, I noticed that there were several characters locked. I had to play a few rounds to unlock some of my favorite characters and I’m not sure why that was needed? After some searching online, Blizzard locked some of the characters to help ease players into the game and without feeling overwhelmed. I was told by a friend of mine that this may be because my Blizzard account didn’t sync properly, so it’s having me start over by unlocking the characters. I’ll have to look into why that was the case to hopefully save me time. It’s interesting that Overwatch 2 decided to lock some of the characters. Overwatch does have a lot of characters to pick from, but I don’t see that as being an intimidating feature. I think it’s exposing players to various options and finding the character that best suits their playstyle.

As far as new characters, there were 3 new characters included upon release. I have only played Junker Queen so far and I could see myself playing as Junker Queen in future games. I guess I was picturing more new characters than just 3 on release.

In a general search of Overwatch 2, I’m seeing the common phrase “laziest sequel” being applied. I completely agree. For the length of time in releasing Overwatch 2, I’m surprised that it doesn’t feel any different from the first game. There was a lot of hype regarding Overwatch 2 and I can’t help but find myself a little let down considering what my expectations were and the reality of what the game actually is. I will still play it because Overwatch is a comforting game for me, but I wish I had more.

Animal Crossing meets Disney in Disney Dreamlight Valley

Back in 2005-2006, I used to play an online game called VMK. VMK, also known as Virtual Magic Kingdom, was an online multiplayer game that I used to play all the time growing up. I loved being able to explore Disney park, customize my character and go on quests in various areas of the game. When I heard about Disney’s Dreamlight Valley, it reminded me of VMK. I decided to try it out because it’s available on Xbox Game Pass.

Dreamlight Valley opens with the player being dropped into Dreamlight Valley. Dreamlight Valley looks a bit creepy with these magical thorns overgrowing everywhere. As explained by Merlin, an event called the Forgetting had Disney and Pixar characters forgetting who they were. They retreated into the castle leaving the rest of the land to be desolate and lonely. Merlin tasks the player to help save the land and clean it up a bit.

Dreamlight Valley relies a lot on quests. There are several quests that are tasked by several of the big players. As you complete tasks, you can level up. I love games where I can level up my character, it feels so rewarding for all the time devoted to playing. As a big Animal Crossing fan, I like being able to customize my character and my house. One of the first tasks I completed was helping Scrooge McDuck open his shop. From there, I purchased a rainbow gaming PC and a dress for my character to wear because why not.

I didn’t realize the game isn’t out yet. This is apparently the early access version which you can play if you have access to Xbox Game Pass or if you buy a Founder’s Pack edition of the game. I would love to see more mini-games that could be played to earn coins, gems, or other things to craft with.

Disney Dreamlight Valley has a lot of potential and I’m curious if any changes will be made to the game by the time it releases in 2023.

Controllers & Coffee: DC Villains and Puzzle Games

I’m notorious for starting video games and then starting another new game and not finishing the first one I originally set out to finish. I bought three new video games even though I have a short pile of games I still need to play. I wanted to share what I have been playing and what’s next on my gaming backlog.

Consoles

One of the new games I bought was Lego DC Super-Villains on my Nintendo Switch. I love playing this game during the week. I try to play one level or so right before I go to bed. I have always been a fan of LEGO games as I don’t have to focus all my effort on playing the game. I tend to save some of my more intensive games on weekends.

The other two games I bought were Vampyr and Resident Evil 2. Vampyr is about a doctor who was turned into a vampire and now has to balance saving and taking lives. Resident Evil 2 was remastered. I missed out on playing through the Resident Evil franchise, so I’m happy to see the games revitalized.

I also purchased The Quarry a month ago. It’s good so far, but I felt it was more fitting to play during October since it’s a horror survival game.

PC

Hidden Through Time released three DLC that I have been playing through. The three DLC are Road to Rome, Aztec Rituals, and Pirate Treasures. My favorite so far is Pirate Treasures. Hidden Through Time is one of my all-time favorite hidden puzzle games. I adore the music, and I like the hint system. The hints don’t give it away, so it’s more rewarding if I find the object I’m looking for. Rogueside, the makers of Hidden Through Time, do have a few other games up on Steam that I might check out.

There are two other games on my list that would be fitting to play in Fall. The first is Pumpkin Jack where you play as Jack, the mythical Pumpkin lord. The other game is Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York. This is a visual novel game based on the Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying game. I have a good selection of games to pick from and play through in the next month or two.

Board Games

The only new game I played recently was Doomlings which I wrote a review about a few weeks ago. I recently cleaned out and organized my own board game collection. I had a few games collecting dust and I figured if I wasn’t going to play them, I’d at least donate them to someone who might. I have now opened a free shelf that’s sitting empty since I did some reorganizing.

Roleplaying

I’m still playing through Curse of Strahd every other Thursday. Our characters recently leveled up, so Levenia (half-elf Blood Hunter) is a level #7. Our group is slowly getting stronger and progressing through the city of Barovia. We still have a few side quests to complete before we even think about going after Strahd directly.

Miscellaneous

For a Critical Role update, I’m on episode 91 of Campaign #1. My goal is to finish Vox Machina / Campaign #1 by the end of the year, so I can start listening to Mighty Nein / Campaign #2. I have 22 episodes left and with each episode averaging 4 hours, I still have quite a bit of content to get through.

In other gaming news, Overwatch 2 has a release date of October 4th. If I were to play, I think I would play on my husband’s Xbox since I play for Xbox Live already and I don’t have a PS5 yet.

I think I’m going to start writing these posts towards the end of the month since I tend to change my gaming interests throughout the month. I’m looking forward to getting back into gaming and playing more horror leading into Fall.

Favorite Geek Spots Throughout the US

Every time I travel, I like to check out any local comic book stores, game stores, or other local geek spots. I like supporting local businesses and it gives me some familiarity in case I ever go back to visit in the future. I wanted to save this post until after I came back from Austin, so I could have my most up-to-date list. These are all of my favorite Geek spots throughout the US.

Austin Book & Comics – Austin, Texas

Austin Books & Comics is one of the best comic book stores I have ever visited. This is a big statement to make since I have been to a lot of different shops. Austin Books & Comics was extremely organized. There were signs over each section which helped make the store easier to navigate. There was also a big manga section which was impressive. I ended up purchasing two different manga that I’m looking forward to reading.

I have a few friends who want to visit Austin and if I were to come with them, I would make it a point to visit Austin Books & Comics.

Comicopia – Boston, Massachusetts

Comicopia is a comic book shop right near Fenway Park. It’s located in a beautiful New England style building. Additionally, they had a local comics section from illustrators and writers from the area. I love when local stores feature local artists. I also purchased my Agents of Shield Phil Coulson shirt from this shop that I still wear all the time. This was such a neat store.

Gods & Monsters – Orlando, Florida

Gods & Monsters is a comic book store located near Universal Studios in Orlando. Besides being a comic book store, there’s a bar located in the back called Vault 5421. The above Beholder picture was taken at Vault 5421. I could see Gods & Monsters being a fun place to visit after playing a DnD session with friends. I will say that Vault 5421 isn’t very big, so I could easily see this place getting crowded rather quickly. When me and my brother visited, we visited a bit earlier, so we had plenty of room to have a drink before it became busy.

Nerdheim – Savannah, Georgia

Nerdheim is a comic book and game store located in the historical shopping district in Savannah, Georgia. Nerdheim has one of my favorite logos that I have seen from a comic book store. Nerdheim similar to Austin Books & Comics is a pretty big retail store. There were several large shelves filled with graphic novels. There was also a pretty significant DnD miniature display along with a t-shirt portion towards the back of the store. Both me and my husband loved visiting Savannah, so we may be back in the future.

Owlbear Cafe – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

OwlBear Cafe is a board game cafe located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina which was east of Charleston. I found this place on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. It’s located in this cute shopping area. We stopped here for breakfast before we began our day. I had a breakfast sandwich while my husband had a waffle. In the back is where they had their board game selection. I found Arkham Horror sitting on the shelf which is one of my all-time favorite board games. I normally don’t buy hoodies from stores, but I couldn’t resist buying a hoodie with the logo on it.

The more I travel, the more likely I would write a part #2 to this post. If you’re looking for local recommendations, I recommend using Atlas Obscura or typing into Google Maps “comic book store” or “game store” which is how I found these shops.

Making Apocalypses Fun – Doomlings

Doomlings Box Cover

My friend sent me a message a few months ago about a game she backed on Kickstarter. Based on what she told me, I thought the game seemed interesting but wasn’t wanting to back the campaign until I played it. After driving to visit her a few weeks ago, she finally broke out her copy of Doomlings, so I could try it out. I was a big fan. Doomlings is a simple card game about outlasting the end of the world.

Doomlings has a fairly simple concept. The goal of the game is to earn the most points at the end of the world. There are certain cards that have a number on them indicating how many points the card is worth. Some cards are ability cards with no points or if there is a really good ability card, it might provide minus points because the ability is that good. There are several rounds that are broken up by catastrophe cards. Catastrophe cards have outcomes on them, so they provide unpredictability to the game. Some catastrophes can help players while that same catastrophe could harm another player’s board. Each game takes about 20-45 minutes which is perfect for a quick game.

Doomlings has some of the cutest art. This reminds me of Unstable Unicorns, the normal edition (not the NSFW edition). The art features these cute creature cards. I found myself taking a picture of a few of my favorites that came up during gameplay.

I had such a time playing Doomlings. I’m sort of regretting not backing it, to begin with. However, Doomlings does have its full selection on the website to order. I’m tempted to order my own copy because I can see my brother really enjoying this game. Doomlings is perfect for anyone who wants a short game that’s extremely easy to learn and teach.

My Favorite Roleplaying Memories

Zehiri & Hellish Rebuke

Last weekend I was playing Adventurer’s League with my Tiefling Paladin, Zehiri. This was the first game where Zehiri was a level #5 meaning she could attack twice. I had a blast being able to not only attack twice but incorporate a smite into one of my melee attacks for extra damage. As I reflected on the session, I realized I have had quite a few memorable roleplaying moments from various sessions I have played in. I wanted to share a few of my favorite roleplaying moments from various types of roleplaying games.

Using a Saxophone as a Weapon – Call of Cthulhu

I played in a one-shot Call of Cthulhu game where our characters were trapped in an “abandoned” asylum. Our characters had nothing as far as weapons, money, or accessories. Our group was investigating the music room before being attacked by supernatural beings. I asked our keeper (Call of Cthulhu terminology for a Dungeon Master) if there was a saxophone in the room. He agreed that there would be. I picked up the saxophone, slung it on my back, and prepared to use it as a club against these beings. It led to a fun conversation about how much damage could a saxophone carry and it led to our group escaping with our lives. It shows how roleplaying can bring out creativity between both the keeper and the players.

Hellish Rebuke – Takedown of an Ogre – Adventurer’s League

During one of our Adventurer’s League sessions, we were going to rescue hostages from some ogres. As I ran into battle, I was face to face with an ogre champion. She swung her club at me and dealt close to 20 damage. I was ready. I had Hellish Rebuke lined up. Hellish Rebuke is a reaction spell that forces the enemy to hit you to make a saving throw. No matter what, the opponent will take damage. The ogre failed her saving throw and I ended up rolling extremely well. This dealt the last remaining damage needed. One of the items the ogre had were the “Gauntlets of Ogre Power” which gives the wearer a strength score of 19. The group agreed that I could have the Gauntlets which have proven useful in future sessions.

Successfully Punching a Nazi – Call of Cthulhu

In this one-shot, our setting was in the 1940s when our characters were on a ship. As our group was investigating disappearances in the crew, I noticed a group of Nazis at the bar. I immediately beelined to them and told our keeper that I wanted to slap one of them. Everyone in our group didn’t think this would go well and was preparing to defend me if needed. I ended up rolling a critical success much to the keeper’s delight. I was able to slap a Nazi and get away with it.

As I was writing this post, I was flooded with memories of memorable sessions. I’m going to save a few of them for a potential part #2 post. I would love to know some of your most memorable roleplaying memories in the comments below.

Animal Crossing One Year Anniversary – Photos

I felt myself missing playing Animal Crossing New Horizons. I go through a spurt where I play daily and then I don’t play for a month or two. I decided to return to MaplePeaks and continue my work in beautifying my island. As I logged in, I was reminded that it was my one-year anniversary of starting Animal Crossing and I wanted to celebrate by posting photos I have taken in-game.

The first photo I ever took!

Before building a full house, there’s a starter tent. I took this photo on one of the first or second days I started playing Animal Crossing. I didn’t have any cute clothes and my island is filled with weeds. My island has come so far!

One of the biggest parts of Animal Crossing is catching insects, diving for undersea treasures, and fishing. There’s an encyclopedia that can be filled in and badges are earned for catching everything. I still have a long way to go to complete the encyclopedia, but I’m for sure halfway through.

In Animal Crossing, there are several buildings you can build. One of those is Nooks Cranny, a general store of sorts. Right next to Nooks Cranny is the Museum run by Blathers an owl wearing a brown sweater. The buildings provide heart to the island and help generate bells and donate all the items that can be collected.

Animal Crossing has an Easter event where you can run around the island and collect eggs. The eggs can be used to craft Easter-themed furniture and outfits. I was wearing a green egg dress and shoes while I collected eggs. I hope Animal Crossing does a Halloween-type event because I missed it last year.

To help navigate my island, I can build bridges or inclines to make it easier to hike. This is a photo I took pretty recently. There are several options, but since I’m wanting a Fall themed island, the red brick fits my island’s aesthetic. I created a brick pathway to help match the brick stairs to the brick path.

One of the most memorable parts of Animal Crossing is the animal villagers. Genji is featured in this screenshot I took today. Genji is one of my favorites. Genji was one of my first villagers and for whatever reason is the villager who most often visits my home.

The last photo is the one that makes me laugh. I love how in Animal Crossing you can carry whatever you catch in your pocket. I caught a Great White Shark and I’m just holding it, absolutely no big deal. This was short when I stuff my Great White Shark into my pocket to carry. Every time I look at this photo, it makes me laugh.

Animal Crossing never fails to make me happy. It’s such a light-hearted game to get completely lost in.

Raccoon PI – Backbone

I have been playing a lot of animal-themed games lately. Earlier this year, I played Donut Country and now I have finished Backbone. Playing as a Raccoon is entertaining, to say the least. Backbone is a neo-noir game focused on a Raccoon PI uncovering corruption at every turn.

Backbone begins with Private Investigator Howard Lotor as he’s preparing to see his first client. He’s greeted by Odette, a well-dressed mouse who’s missing her husband. The case seems pretty standard to Howard. Through Howard’s investigation, he discovered Odette’s husband died under suspicious circumstances. Howard flees in terror and realizes this case may be much more dangerous than he previously thought.

One of the first things I noticed about Backbone was the music. I don’t normally pay attention to music in video games, but the music in Backbone was unsettling. For a game starring animals, I found myself on edge as Howard slinks through the town. There’s a part of the game where Howard is captured and the music becomes more intense where I found myself sitting on edge throughout that moment. The music helped capture the neo-noir experience Backbone was going for.

Besides the music, I liked the options throughout the game. For example, Howard is tasked with breaking into a nightclub. He can either go through the backdoor or go onto the roof. I liked being able to pick and choose how I wanted to proceed through the game. I chose the roof and that seemed to work out splendidly. Additionally, there are different dialogue options with different characters. Depending on the dialogue options chosen, this can lead to secret achievements being earned. I liked that about Backbone because it leaves some replay value to the game.

Backbone was a fun surprise as I wasn’t expecting to like the game as much as I did. Backbone can be downloaded on Xbox Game Pass or purchased through Steam.