Monday, December 21, 2009

Shotguns vs Zombies

Yesterday, i learned to fully appreciate the effectiveness of shotguns against zombies!

You see, i grew up in a house without guns.  I never even had Nerf guns, because they were an ugly, unwholesome thing that my parents did not wish to encourage.  But recently, my dad has picked up target practice as a new hobby.  This is strange for me to see, but my dad is the type of guy that really goes all-out when he gains a new interest, so i had to see what all the fuss was about.

We went out back and he showed me his shotgun, assuring me that i couldn't possibly be as bad a shot as he was at first.  From what i've heard, he wasn't just trying to make me feel better about it.  I finally confided in him that i was mostly concerned that it would be loud and i would inadvertently shriek like a little girl and shatter all illusions of my macho-ness.  He laughed and said it was ok, he made a girly shriek of joy the first time he shot it.

After showing me about 400,000 times the proper technique, i asked him to shoot it himself once so i could hear it and see how much of a kickback it had, which was pretty much none, but i did not want to be like the chick on youtube that must have broken her nose with the Desert Eagle, mmkay? My dad is not above thinking something like that is funny.

So i finally tried it out and aimed too high. Let's just say i'm crap at aiming, which isn't shocking, recalling my short-lived interest in archery as a kid.  So being a good sport, i tried a second time, trying the very same technique, then bumping the whole thing up about 1/4" at the last second. Tah-dah! The big plastic bucket i was aiming at is riddled with some decent-sized holes. Yeah, that shit will hit anything you point it vaguely toward. Hippie likes.

So, the shotgun is definitely the friend of the untrained in the zombie apocalypse. They obviously take very little skill to use, and spray a wide area. However, they're really only good for slowing down a crowd; you'll want something more precise for making head shots off your back porch.  Also, remember the double-tap rule. If it stops moving, shoot it once more in the head just to be sure. The zombie apocalypse is not the time to conserve ammo.

I suggest using a shotgun to thin down the crowd, then once you've got some practice with it, pick off the stragglers with a rifle if they're still far off, and a pistol for the ones that get closer and for double-tap.  Of course, it's always good to keep a baseball bat or something handy for the ones that get within arms reach or grab a friend or family member--safety first! Shooting something that just grabbed your best friend is better left for the movies. Bash it in the face instead.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dragon Age RPG Player's Guide Review

I'm not a fan of video games, so i haven't played the console or PC version of Dragon Age, but with all the wonderful things i have heard about it by people who are and have, i thought the pen and paper version had to at least be worth reading.

The first thing that i found off-putting was that the books come in $30 boxed sets.  That might be ok in theory, except that the first set (Players Guide, Game Master's Guide, and a map of Ferelden) only gives you rules for character levels 1-5.  Apparently the next boxed set, due out in 6 months, will contain levels 6-10, the next will contain another 5 levels, etc.  It's going to get expensive to play a single character through much advancement.  Designer Chris Pramas claims it will be more digestible for new players, but personally, i would rather spend $50 for one 'intimidating' fat book that will allow me to play a basic character through max advancement, than $120 on "more digestible" chunks over time.  Though i do suppose there's no reason to buy future sets anyway for those of us that were underwhelmed by the first.

My next gripe is that the character choices are limited: elf, dwarf, human; warrior, mage, rogue.  That's it.  It could be that that's all the video game offers, but i require more diversity.  Basic character creation is thus: you get 8 abilities, determined by random rolls.  Skill checks are 3d6+ability (+/- bonuses/penalties).  You can customize your character with ability focuses, backgrounds (think 'city elf' or 'surface dwarf'), and talents (skills).  You gain class powers by level.

Combat: for some reason it took the writers five steps to tell us roll for initiative; winner goes first, etc. They hid the fact that you get both something called a 'major action' and something called a 'minor action' each turn in step 4.  By step 8 i realize the authors are still just telling us to take turns.  :|  Minor vs Major actions are what they sound like and make sense once listed (ie: aim and shoot).  Moving on.  What combat really involves is making an ability roll against your opponent's defense score.  Well that's disappointingly simple after more than a page on the process of determining an initiative order.  We add complication with something called stunt points.  There are also modifiers for riding a mount into combat.

There's a lot of fluff, which i promptly ignored.  It might be brilliant, but not what i'm looking for in a game, especially one that's heavily targeted at people who have played the video game and presumably know enough of the storyline to not really need extensive world info.  Keep in mind the book is only 66 pages long.  That space would be put to better use with more spells!
There's just not much to this pdf.  As awesome and action-packed as the video game allegedly is, i was expecting more fun stuff, maybe even enough to convince me to try the Xbox 360 version.  As it stands, my answer to that question is still "meh."

Good points: the art is pretty, and there are maps.

In conclusion, this game seems to be completely playable if you have no illusions of playing high or even mid-level characters.  It just doesn't do anything for me that other games don't already do better.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

An Open Letter to the Impending Zombie Apocalypse

Dear Zombie Apocalypse,

Please stop with the 6am nightmares. I really can't get back to sleep when you do that, and i need my sanity to fight off your undead minions when they arrive. 

I promise i won't leave the house until the rest of the living are finished with their riots. Yes, even if my mom insists that she needs celery and canned biscuits before the stores close. Was that little exchange an allegory for something? Either way, it was your idea, not mine. If it's all the same, i think i'll just stay home until the crowds die down, and then join my parents in their more defensible location. I don't even like leaving the house on Black Friday, so i assure you, i can easily hang tight for a few weeks while the zombies are distracted by all the panicked people.

Thank you for the prophetic glimpses, but i have already warned my loved ones the best i can of impending doom. Yes, they are already concerned about my mental health--i have you to thank for that.

So, until you gift us with Patient Zero, i would much appreciate being left to my pathetic mortal existence, minus the reminders that we're all living on borrowed time.

Regards and Good Luck in your upcoming venture,