Kingdom Hearts 3

Last Friday, I spent four hours and drank four hard seltzers to beat Kingdom Hearts 3. Kingdom Hearts is known for having brutal boss battles and Kingdom Hearts 3 is no different. I almost quit, but I persisted and I finally defeated Master Xehanort. Since completing Kingdom Hearts 3, I wanted to reflect on my favorite levels and general thoughts about the game.

Kingdom Hearts 3 shows our memorable key wielder Sora as his strength is at an all-time low. He travels with his companions, Donald and Goofy to regain his strength and learn the “power of waking” the ability to restore lost hearts. It’s revealed how Sora has Roxas’s heart along with two other hearts bound to his. This power will be useful to prevent Xehanort from opening Kingdom Hearts casing the world in darkness.

Look how cute Sora is!? He looks like a toy. Image belongs to Square Enix.

Kingdom Hearts 3 has levels in many of the newest worlds from recent movies. Olympus and Port Royal make a reappearance, along with new levels from Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, Tangled, and Big Hero 6. The best level was the Toy Story level. Starting in Andy’s house, the toys make their way to a major toy store. Sora can enter these gigantic toy robots to fight heartless while wandering the toy store. As a 90’s baby who grew up with older Pixar movies, Kingdom Hearts 3 appeals to my nostalgia for these movies.

The last level is where all the boss battles begin. Sora has to fight his way through all the major characters in Organization XIII. When I reached the final battle, I had leveled up Sora to level #43. In the future, I would have stayed on the Big Hero 6 level for longer to level up Sora to be more prepared for taking on Organization XIII. Before taking on Xehanort, I would recommend having at least 4+ hours of free time. There’s one final save point before entering the town and entering into Xehanort’s territory. Kingdom Hearts 3 has designated save points and you don’t want to lose progress in the fight and have to redo it.

Ultimately, Kingdom Hearts 3 is filled with nostalgia. The story isn’t the main reason why I play this series. I play for the characters including Sora with Aqua being my favorite key wielder. Besides the Toy Story level, I liked the Monster’s Inc level too. I’m impressed with the voice acting in this game. Without having the original voice actors, the characters do sound like the original characters from the movies. Kingdom Hearts 3 was worth the wait.

Game Knights, University Sims & Fortnite.

Gaming has been the perfect distraction from the current environment. Video games, board games, card games, it doesn’t matter. All forms of gaming have provided me a way to distance myself from all things Covid-19. Therefore, I wanted to share a couple of updates as to how gaming is providing me happiness throughout this time.

Winning the Game Knights Contest

Screenshot of the tweet saying I had won. I’m @bizzarebrunette

Shortly before entering Quarantine, I found out through Twitter I had won the Game Knights contest in February 2020. It was exciting! I received a signed Forest playmat, bright yellow sleeves, a green deck box, and a couple of booster packs. I used the green deck box to put my new deck in, but the sleeves and playmat have remained untouched. I have touched on recently how I’m back into playing Magic, and this added to my excitement. A special thanks to the Command Zone cast who sent me these items.

Partying in Sims #3 University Life

Jessica Day. The screenshot was taken by me.
Schmidt is in the fancy purple blazer. The screenshot taken by me.
Nick Miller. The screenshot taken by me.

Sims 3 is iconic. During a blizzard or in quarantine, Sims #3 passes the time. I purchased the University expansion pack from Steam. I’m in awe at how improved the University expansion is versus the Sims #2 version. It’s more realistic and my sims get invited to social outings. I created the cast of New Girl which includes Nick Miller, Jessica Day, Schmidt, and Winston. It’s been a blast.

Playing Fortnite Online

I never thought I would be saying this, but I have been playing Fortnite. Fortnite is a game I had written off as a game I would never play. A couple of friends from work invited me to play Fortnite and it was actually fun. To be clear, I wouldn’t play this game alone. Fortnite is meant to be played with friends and it’s one of the few games that’s cross-platform.

Next, I hope to complete KH3 (Kingdom Hearts III) along with getting further along in Jedi Fallen Order. I’m playing Monster Prom on Steam and I want to unlock all the bonus endings. Finally, I’m trying out Xbox game pass and I downloaded a couple of games on Xbox. I’m trying to make mini gaming goals, so I can be more productive as a gamer, wish me luck!

MtG Ikoria Preview

Quarantine has had an impact on my social events this year. The biggest was the cancellation of Emerald City Comic-Con. I say canceled even though it was postponed. However, I don’t think I will be able to go in August, therefore, to me it’s been canceled. Another smaller event that’s been postponed is the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths pre-release which was supposed to happen this month. Instead of playing in the pre-release, I wanted to preview the latest set because there’s a lot to say.

One of the main reasons I play Magic is for the story. Each set has a story with the characters on the cards being a main focus to the set. In this set, it features mythical creatures such as dinosaur cats, Godzilla and nightmare squirrels. The story is told through various “field notes” written by the characters. All of these notes can be found through the MtG website Additionally, Magic has been releasing books coordinating with the launch of the set. The latest book titled Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths – Sundered Bond has been released on Amazon. Although, I read a review down below warning of animal cruelty, so I will be passing on this book myself.

Now let’s move on to the cards! When I look at new cards for a set, I browse based on color. I typically play black/green when I make a deck. Besides the color, I look at the artwork and what each card does. This card below is an example of one of the dinosaur cats in the set. In this set, there’s an ability called Mutate. This card can be combined with a human, so imagine a human riding this cat. Their abilities are combined including power and toughness. I don’t typically play with white, but I like that this card has a cheap cost with one red and one white mana.

Another mechanic with this set is companion. Companion sets rules on what kind of cards can exist in your deck. With our menacing dinosaur hippo, you can only have cards with a casting cost of three or more. Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, you may draw cards for each other card you control. Card draw in Magic is important. I have had it before where I was about to lose a game, and then I drew the card that saved me and I ended up winning. Any card that allows you to draw cards is necessary.

Here is the Nightmare Squirrel I mentioned before. This squirrel looks evil. If I had this in my deck, I would probably give him a flying counter because I would want to launch my flying squirrel at my opponent.

This post has already gotten way too long. All the cards can be found by this link from the MtG website. I already messaged my local game store to see if they’re doing pre-orders for this new set. If I have to play with friends through Zoom, so be it. If you do play Magic, I highly recommend pre-ordering from your local game store. This quarantine is hurting local businesses and I know I want my local businesses to re-open after this quarantine has been lifted. Let me know in the comments what cards you’re looking forward to playing with Ikoria.

Spyfox: In Dry Cereal

Spyfox in “Dry Cereal”.

Last week, I was browsing the games on Steam. I usually don’t like playing my console games during the week because I have terrible time management. I will start playing Kingdom Hearts III and three hours will go by. Therefore, I play my PS4 on weekends. Steam has a wide variety of shorter games to play. I stumbled upon Spyfox: In Dry Cereal and all of my childhood memories flooded back to me. It was a major deja vu moment. The game was only $7, so why not buy it? This game was so much fun playing as an adult even though it was aimed for kids.

Spyfox stars our favorite international spy who happens to be a walking and talking fox. He is sent on a mission to stop William the Kid from destroying the world and stealing all the milk. Who wants to eat dry cereal??? Each game has gadgets Spyfox has to utilize in his missions. As you progress through the story, you start to utilize the gadgets and solve puzzles. I will be completely transparent, some of the puzzles took me a little bit of time to solve. There was one puzzle with lasers and it took me at least twenty minutes to figure out. For a computer game that’s catered to kids, I still found this to be engaging.

Spyfox has many spy puns from pop culture. Spyfox’s boss is “Monkey Penny” aka. Moneypenny from the James Bond franchise. Professor Quack is the “gadget” duck which references “Q” from the James Bond franchise. Some of the quips from the game include making fun of people who don’t drink dairy milk. For a game that was released in the late ’90s, the quips were actually pretty good.

Spyfox: In Dry Cereal took me two hours to complete. I purchased the game on Steam and there’s an incentive to keep playing the game by unlocking trading cards of the characters. I still have one more to unlock. Spyfox is suave, funny and the ultimate fox.

The Command Zone

Usually, I don’t watch gaming streamers. If I want to play video games or board games, I want to do it myself versus watching others play. However, The Command Zone Youtube channel is one of my exceptions. The Command Zone is a Magic the Gathering channel where they almost always play Commander. Commander is a format where one card is your “Commander” and your deck compliments this one creature. This is the form of Magic I play mostly because I can utilize every single card since the game’s existence in the early ’90’s. If you play Magic the Gathering, I cannot recommend this Youtube channel enough.

One of the best episodes of Game Knights. Found on the Game Knights Youtube Channel.

Hosted by Josh Lee Kwai and Jimmy Wong, they bring two other players onto their show to play a round of Commander. These players vary, but I like how they bring a variety of players with different play styles to their videos. I’m currently watching the episode where they bring a fan onto their show to play. This episode has been my favorite as the fan they chose is super good at the game and giving both Josh and Jimmy a run for their money.

Each episode of “Game Knights” where they play against each other can range from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. I don’t have the attention span to watch an episode in one sitting, so I watch 10 – 15 minutes of each episode whenever I have free time. I have the Game Knights playlist in one of my internet tabs, so I can return to it at any time.

Discovering The Command Zone / Game Knights has inspired me to start deck-building again. I’m building a red/green big creatures deck with the new cards from the Theros Beyond Death set. I haven’t built a deck in at least 3-4 years, so it’s exciting to be inspired to return to crafting my deck. This inspiration has come from the Command Zone and I’m thankful for discovering their gaming space.

I have had a love/hate relationship with Magic the Gathering for a while and watching The Command Zone has invigorated my love for the game. It’s not often where I become this invested in gathering cards from my collection. If you’re a Magic the Gathering player, this is a Youtube channel you need to subscribe to. They do have a Command Zone podcast if you prefer podcasts over Youtube channels. The Command Zone can be found on Youtube or through their podcast available on Stitcher or Apple Podcasts.

Pilot like Scoundrels in Star Wars: Outer Rim

Once a month, I get together with my brother, uncle and our family friend to play games. It’s either a whole day spent playing Magic the Gathering or it’s a day entirely devoted to board games. Towards the beginning of January, my uncle brought out Star Wars: Outer Rim for us all to try. This is going to be repetitive, but my favorite way to enjoy Star Wars is through gaming. I mentioned this in my Star Wars Destiny article I typed out recently. Star Wars: Outer Rim is no exception as it’s a strategic game meant to be played with a decent sized gaming group.

Star Wars: Outer Rim focuses on the planets within Star Wars that are filled with villainy and chaos. Each player picks a pilot, a ship and a scorecard to track progress. Picking a pilot was easy when I saw Jyn Erso was included in this game. Jyn is easily my favorite female Star Wars protagonist to date. Seeing Rogue One representation in Star Wars: Outer Rim gives me a great first impression of the game.

Star Wars: Outer Rim Game Board. Photo taken by me.

The board is designed in a half crescent shape designed with planets and travel routes for suggested movement. The goal of the game is to be the most famous flyer in the whole galaxy. This can be done by completing jobs, defeating various patrols or adventuring with more complex quests. Sometimes skill checks are required to complete a job which makes the game more complex. For example, Jyn starts with skills, but none of those skills include piloting. I had a mission where I had to use the piloting skill to complete the mission. I spent multiple turns rolling and failing my roles because I was at a disadvantage of not having the piloting skill. This is a huge reason as to why I lost the game we played.

Star Wars: Outer Rim isn’t an easy game, but not too difficult either. As I mentioned with my failed skill check, it can be difficult to complete missions without having the proper skill. Although, you can pick up crew members who have varying skills to help you succeed in missions. One of my fellow players stole K-2SO from me and I’m still salty about it.

Jyn Erso’s character board. Photo taken by me.

One benefit of this game is having the freedom to do what you want with your character. With Jyn Erso, I ended up taking down a couple of tie fighters which lowered my reputation with the Imperial fleet. However, I could have taken out rebel fleets and lowered my alliance with the resistance. It doesn’t matter who you partner with, but having alliances or enemies will impact how you fly throughout the Rim.

The only minor complaint I had turns can go on forever. We had four people in our group and I found myself feeling bored when it wasn’t my turn. I don’t think this is something that can be fixed with Star Wars: Outer Rim. The game is strategic, so game turns will take a little longer.

Star Wars: Outer Rim works best with more players. I would say three players would be ideal, recognizing that with four players, turns take a long time to be completed. Star Wars: Outer Rim is made by Fantasy Flight Games and can be purchased through FFG’s website or your local game store.

The Discontinuation of Star Wars Destiny

One of my favorite ways to enjoy Star Wars is through gaming. The Star Wars movie fandom can be too toxic at times whereas the gaming community is more about bonding over the fandom and playing board games. A card game I used to play, Star Wars Destiny, is officially being discontinued by Fantasy Flight Games. It’s a shame because this game was incredibly fun, but I’m not surprised to hear it’s being discontinued.

Darth Vader ruled. Picture taken by me.

I was introduced to Star Wars Destiny in 2016. My friend worked at a game shop while we were in college. She called me and told me to come try out Star Wars: Destiny as the pre-release was happening that day. I was completely broke thanks to getting my degree, but I borrowed cards from other players to create a deck. I was enthralled with the game mechanics.

However, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) didn’t do the best at judging how popular this game would be. Our game store ran out of stock immediately. This puts a damper on playing a deck building game if you can’t buy the cards. It took FFG a long time before stock became available.

In summer of 2017, I started working at a game shop as a side gig. My store had trouble selling Destiny because of lack of interest and the decreased ability to be able to purchase product. By the time FFG got around to getting stock in stores, interest had declined to the point where my store stopped selling Destiny because it wasn’t profitable.

The fact that Destiny has lasted this long in production completely shocks me. If only FFG could have predicted how popular this game would be, I don’t think they would be stopping production of the game.

Recently, I gave away all my Destiny cards to my brother as he still actively plays with friends. I have great memories playing Destiny and being introduced to the Star Wars gaming fandom. The Covert Missions boosters haven’t been released yet, but they will be the last boosters for the game. The Star Wars: Destiny championships will occur on May 1st thru May 3rd at Fantasy Flight Game Center in Roseville, MN.

Learn how to play Star Wars: Destiny!

Lastly, if you would like to learn how to play, I have posted a video from FFG’s youtube channel describing the game play. With the discontinuation of the game, I would purchase product before it becomes unavailable.

Games By Bicycle Haul

I promise this is my last board game haul. Games By Bicycle is mostly known for their 52 card decks used in bridge or solitare. This company was founded in 1867 and prides themselves for being around for 130 years. Besides standard playing cards, they have been creating interesting board games. I was able to demo two of these at Gen Con although Games by Bicycle sent me a third game I haven’t played yet. Let’s look at the games Games By Bicycle graciously sent to me:

Tattoo Stories

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Tattoo Stories!

Tattoo Stories is a party game where one player plays the customer and the other players are the tattoo artists. The customer describes a tattoo they want, whereas the artists have to draw this tattoo. The artists have to “sell” the art to the customer. Whoever gets their art picked the most by the customer wins. This is the game I haven’t had a chance to play, but it reminds me if Pictionary and Tattoo art were combined into a board game concept, it would be Tattoo Stories. This game is recommended for anyone aged 12+. This is available for purchase on the Games by Bicycle website for $19.99.

It’s Blunderful

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It’s Blunderful. This is a very flattering look for Athena. 

This was the first game I tested at Gen Con. It’s Blunderful is a game where players have to guess how the other players would react in awkward situations. Each card has a potentially awkward situation with three responses listed as A, B, or C. For example, let’s say all the players have to judge how I would respond to an awkward situation. I secretly pick which response (whether it be the response associated with A, B or C) I feel I’m associated with. The players have to guess which response this would be. Everyone (including myself) reveals the card they believe is the one I picked. If I picked “B”, this would be the correct answer. If the players also picked “B” they would win points. The  first player to reach 100 points wins the game. This is a great “ice breaker” game to get to know your coworkers or fun to play with friends you have known for a while. This game says it’s for 4-8 players, but that’s because there are these score cards to track your points with. If you played with 8+ players, you could use a sheet of paper to track your points. This game has a recommended 17+ age as some of the situations can be a little naughty. It’s Blunderful is available for purchase on the Games by Bicycle website for $24.99

Shuffle Grand Prix

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Shuffle Grand Prix 

When I played this at Gen Con, I did win against three other players, so I felt extra special. The best way I can describe my experience playing Shuffle Grand Prix is it’s the card game version of Mario Kart or Crash Bandicoot. There are a variety of different teams to pick from as they have their own special capabilities. Cards can be played to speed up your own racing team along with slowing down other players. Imagine these cards as “bananas” from Mario Kart. The player who travels the furthest by the time the distance card pile is all drawn will win the game. This is a great family friendly game with the cutest cartoon characters drawn on each of the cards. This game has a recommended age of 13+ with 2-4 players. Shuffle Grand Prix is available for purchase on the Games by Bicycle website for $24.99.

This is my last board game haul for a while. I have a HUGE board game backlog now. In fact towards the end of December, me and my family are having a board game night and I’m going to bring all of these games to play. I hope to have board game reviews starting in January. Thank you to everyone who read my haul posts and happy gaming!

 

Goliath Games Unboxing

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My Goliath Games Box. Photo taken by me. 

This is my second board game unboxing, but this time it’s from Goliath GamesWhen I secured my Gen Con press badge, I scheduled a time with Goliath Games to test out some of their newest party games. I was super impressed with the selection Goliath Games had to offer and they were kind enough to send me two of the games I played at Gen Con with an additional game in the box. My plan for these games is to take them to a brewery and play them with my friends. Here are the games Goliath Games sent me.

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Virus, Side Effects and the Misery Index. Photo taken by me. 

 

Virus: The Contagiously Fun Card Game

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Virus the card game. Photo taken by me. 

This is the game I have never played before. An experimental virus has escaped from the lab and players need to stop this contagious virus. However, a fun twist to the game is being able to infect the organs of other players with this virus. The first player with four healthy organs wins the game. I’m all about the dark humor within this game of infecting other healthy players to stop the virus. This game can be played with 2-6 players ages 8+. Virus can be purchased through the Goliath Games website or contact your local game store to see if they can order the game for you.

Side Effects: The Guessing Game With an Extra Dose of Absurdity

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Side Effects. Photo taken by me. 

I first played this game at Gen Con and it was hilarious. Imagine combing charades with drug side effects and that’s what this game is. All players are participating in a clinical drug study for a new drug set to be released. Of course there will be side effects. This game is played in two player teams. The first player is the test subject while the second player is the lab assistant. The first player has to get the second player to guess a word while performing two drug side effects simultaneously. When I played this game, I had to get my partner to guess the word “Tuesday” while making kissy faces and making goat sounds. For the record, my goat impression was second to none. I did pretty good as my partner was able to guess four words in a minute and thirty seconds. This is the perfect game to bring to a housewarming party because it’s going to get everyone laughing hysterically. This game requires 4+ players ages 13+. Side Effects can be purchased on Amazon for 24.95.

The Misery Index: Life Events on a Scale from Zero to Miserable.

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The Misery Index. Photo taken by me. 

This game is based off the wildly successful The Misery Index show on TBS. Hosted by Jameela Jamil from the Good Place, this game show forces players to rank events based on how awful the situations are. This is the card game version of this TV show. Each card has a scenario on it with a number from 1-100. One being pretty tame to one hundred being absolutely horrendous. Players have to rank the cards based on how awful the scenario would be. When I was at Gen Con, I had to rank these three events: getting caught masterbating by your mom, drinking a vomit milkshake or eating worm spagetti. Players get points by correctly sorting the events in correct order of being the most miserable. A couple of the other misery cards include: flat tire, pepper spray in the eyes and smelling like a fart for the rest of your life. Misery Index is for 2+ players ages 14+. The Misery Index can be purchased at Target for $17.99.

I’m thrilled to introduce these games to my friends. Goliath Games is a great game company and many of these games would be great for friends who aren’t hugely into board games in general. Once I rip open the wrapping on these games, I will be posting my in depth review of each game. Goliath Games can be found on their website and social media including: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Kosmos Game Haul

Since attending Gen Con in August, I have been receiving emails from various game publishers. One email I received was from Kosmos about their new board game releases. After emailing with Kosmos, they have nicely agreed to send me a couple of the games peaking my interest. The games I was most looking forward to playing include: Adventure Games: Monochrome Inc, Roll for Adventure and Exit: the Catacombs of Horror.

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Athena loves board game hauls especially if she can play with the dice. Photo taken by Me. 

Before I unveil the games, I wanted to give background information about Kosmos. Technically titled Thames & Kosmos, this company was originally founded in 2001 specializing in improving science education for all ages. In college, I taught science to elementary school kids as volunteer work and to see kids excited about science made me happy. Thames & Kosmos has moved into board games to teach kids social skills and stimulates logical and strategic thinking. Despite their intentions, these games are for adults as well, but can be introduced to kids with parental approval.

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My game haul cortesy of Kosmos. Photo taken by Me. 

The first game I asked for was Adventure Games: Monochrome Inc. This game puts players in the headquarters of Monochrome Inc., a biotech company with hidden secrets to be uncovered. Players have to escape Monochrome by working together and searching for clues. The appeal of the game is the rules are simple to learn. This would be the perfect game to bring to a brewery with friends. There’s also three endings to discover, which increases the likelihood I would replay this game. Market value of Adventure Games: Monochrome Inc. is $20 and can be purchased from the Kosmos website.

The second game is Roll for Adventure. This game is a dice-rolling, cooperative game. Players have to stop the Dark Lord from spreading darkness across the land. Players can either save the empire or allow the empire to succumb to the Dark Lord. This game reminds me of a DnD inspired adventure. This would be perfect for a tired DM who needs a break from writing a session for players. Market value of Roll for Adventure is $35 and can be purchased from the Kosmos website. 

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“Mom, what’s this????” Athena says as she examines the games. Photo taken by Me. 

The final game I picked was Exit: The Catacombs of Horror. Kosmos has a new line of board games titled “Exit Games” which are inspired by escape rooms. Each “Exit” game has a different story which allow for players to experience a different adventure. This game takes place in Paris in the catacombs underneath the city. After the disappearance of a friend, players make their way down into the underground labyrinth. This game is rated as a difficulty of 3.5 / 5. I haven’t had a chance to play this game yet, but I’m intrigued as to how challenging I will find it to be. Market value of Exit: The Catacombs of Horror is $25 and can be purchased from the Kosmos website. 

That’s the end of my Kosmos game haul! I want to thank Kosmos for sending me these games in the first place. Every game they had sounded fascinating, but these three stuck out to me. I would highly recommend pursuing Kosmos website. Kosmos can be found through their website and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.