Friday, February 28, 2014

Was It Really That Bad? X3: The Last Stand. by Kyle Johannessen

Before I go on and talk about X-Men: The Last Stand, or X3, or the “Brett Ratner one”, whatever you’d like to call it, I feel as though I should clarify what my intentions are with these articles. My goal is not to necessarily defend the films that are the subject. My goal is to go back and watch the film in question with an open mind and see if it deserves all the hate we give it. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull gained the status of having ruined childhoods, and I mostly agreed with those opinions. I went back to see if it was that bad and determined that “No, it’s not that bad. But it’s still not good.” So now, I’ll attempt to go back and do the same thing with X3.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Twitch Plays Pokémon: An Overview

by Stephanie Cala, resident Pokémon Trainer for the Ace of Geeks

     Think back to a time in your childhood and imagine yourself playing your favorite handheld video game. Now, imagine that your best friend wants to play your game with you. It’s a one player game - what can you do? You can play through the story together and decide on what your next actions should be, or you can hand the game back and forth and allow each other one action each. What would you choose?

     Now imagine yourself, present day, playing that same childhood handheld video game with an average of 70,000 people around the world at any given time.

Welcome to Twitch Plays Pokémon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Make a Survival Roll - Nerdy Camping with Jarys


  The day before your leave for your multi-day hiking trip. You have to consider the weight and utility of everything you bring. Will you take matches, or a tiny stove? Will you sleep in a tent, or just use a compact tarp? Zombie Dice or Fluxx? How will you eat, where will you sleep, what will you do? For some, like my father, hiking is a plethora of outdoor activities such as fishing or or stargazing. Activities that cannot be as easily done in or around our homes. But for the more Geekily-inclined, all kinds of activities can be pursued which are neither indoor nor outdoor activities, existing mostly in our mind. Like a dream eating Psychophage or a Farie-

     I digress.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Prepared by Stephanie Cala
February 19th, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -  This year, the Ace of Geeks Podcast will be holding a panel at Wizard World: Sacramento Comic Con, located at the Sacramento Convention Center.  The panel will take place on Saturday, March 8th, 2014 and will be held in Room 103 from 5:00PM to 5:45PM.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Convention Game More Memorable by Justin Rhodes

If you want to run a convention game that will really dazzle your players and stick in their memory, you've come to the right place.  If you just want to run a game at a con for free admission, read on anyway.  You'll likely learn something you can use.  While I can't promise that your game will be the RPG equivalent of the Odyssey, I can tell you that if you put some focus on the following ideas the overall enjoyment of your game will be on the rise.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Episode 90: Girl Cop

Picture The Ace of Geeks Podcast comes to you live from Dundracon, with more guests than you've ever seen before! At least twenty people join the podcast to talk about their experiences from the con, witness the epic battle between Skeletor and Old Timey Radio Voice Guy, and pass around old war stories!

Episode 90!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nanomotors - the Medicine of the Future? by Lauren Harrington

Cancer is pretty serious, even if what you have is easily removed and not malignant. When I found out my mom had (a very easily treated type of) breast cancer, I knew she’d have to get surgery and go through chemotherapy. That’s what most people do, because when you are diagnosed, you usually just have three options: Surgery followed by chemotherapy, surgery without chemotherapy, or just let it grow. With a new development in science, we will have a fourth option: Nanomotors.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Not Be the 'Creepy Guy.' by Mike Fatum

(Required reading: "Changing the Creepy Guy Narrative" by Chris Brecheen.)

I just got back, this week, from a wonderful convention over Presidents' Day Weekend. For me, it was an absolute blast, with tons of times with friends I never get to see except that these cons. I had a ton of fun. Unfortunately, some folks I know and love didn't. I had at least three people comment on the amount of time they got hit on at the con, and how it was more than normal. Originally, I thought about writing an article once again damning the parts of geek culture that objectify both the women and men at these conventions, but then I had another thought.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bioshock Infinite: Your Argument is Invalid. (Part 3) by Chris Brecheen

Continued from: Part 1, Part 2

Two quick reminders:
1- This is part 3 of a multi-part article, and I’m jumping right in without recap.
2- While I’m not decoding the end or discussing the plot directly, there will be spoilers.

A brief caveat: a snippet of conversation I had with an art snob since beginning this article.

Art Snob: I don’t know that a game can ever be real art. You’re wasting your time with that article.
Me: How can you say that before I’m even done making my case?
Art Snob: The rules of games are too arbitrary. You have to have levels. You have to have a difficulty curve. You have to have random dudes with chocolate and ammo in their pockets. You have to have an epic end fight. It’s all these constraining artificial… “rules.” (“Art snob” is also kind of a geek, so he knows these things.)
Me: How is that any different from, say, an Elizabethan sonnet? 14 lines. Specific rhyme scheme. Iambic pentameter. Three quatrains. Shift in the 9th line. Ending couplet. How are those rules less constraining? You know as well as I do that when art colors inside the lines it becomes even more creative. Especially if it bends the rules of the convention in a way that works with the themes.
Art Snob: (after a very long pause in which he—I shit you not—kind of picked his teeth with his tongue) Okay, Chris. Finish your damned article.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Episode 89: Don't click the flashy ad!

Picture Beth Fatum returns to the podcast, this time with things to say! She and Jarys geek out over her Skyrim character, and Mike and Jarys take the time to teach her an important lesson about surfing the internet. Plus! We talk about the controversy over EA's mobile Dungeon Keeper remake, and debate whether Disney movies are really bad for you.
Episode 89!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Was it Really That Bad?: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. by Kyle Johannessen

Indiana Jones has always been my childhood hero.  I found everything about him appealing, from the whip and the adventures to the artifacts, the amazing ability to beat the crap out of Nazis and of course, the hat. So when they announced a new Indiana Jones movie after nearly 20 years, you better believe I was extremely excited. And there I was, during the midnight release wearing my Indy hat on the edge of my seat waiting for the movie to start. Needless to say that at the end of the movie, I was less than pleased.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Citadels - a Review by Sam Stafford

I'm gonna recommend you a good card game that fills a very particular and difficult niche by meeting the following criteria:
  1. It is playable with anywhere from 2 to 8 players.
  2. It is playable in under an hour (even with new players).
  3. It is playable while you are drunk.
  4. It is playable while you aren't drunk.
  5. Its playability does not depend on the novelty of funny stuff on the cards.
The game is Citadels. I picked it up this past Christmas on a "best games for your family" recommendation from SU&SD, and so far it's been a hit with every group I've played it with. I'll walk you through it.

To start off with, we each get two of these little gold coins, and four cards. The object of the game, see, is we're all building cities. Each of these cards is a district you can build in your city. On your turn, you get to take an action, which is either to take two gold or take one card (draw two, look at 'em, put one back on the bottom). Then you get to build one district by putting a card from your hand in front of you and paying the gold cost (see it there on the card?) back to the bank. Once one of us has eight districts, the game is over, we count up the value of our cities, and the best city wins.

So far so boring, right? Wait, I'm getting to the good part. Before we start taking turns, we gotta pick our characters. Each round we're each going to have a different character that gives us a special ability and decides which order we take our turns in. (Players of Twilight Imperium are saying "hey, that sounds familiar," and you're right; take a cookie from the jar on my desk over there.) The good part, though, is that we don't get to know which character everyone else is until they take their turn. Each of us picks a character in secret before passing the deck of character cards. You'll have some idea of what other people might have picked based on what cards are missing by the time you pick, but some of the cards are face down and unused, so there's always uncertainty. The game is ostensibly about building your city, but really it's about getting inside everyone else's head.

Okay, we've all picked, so let's see who's what. First up is the Assassin -- he gets to name a character (not a player, a character) and that character just doesn't get their turn this round. Ouch. Next is the Thief, who names a character, and if they take a turn, the Thief takes all their gold at the start of their turn. Next is the Magician, who gets to swap his crummy hand of cards with someone else or draw fresh from the deck. After that is the King, who gets extra gold from noble districts, and also gets first pick of character next round. Then we have the Bishop, who gets extra gold from religious districts, and is protected from the Warlord (we'll meet him in a bit). After him is the Merchant, who gets extra gold from trade districts and more extra gold just because. Then is the Architect, who gets extra cards and gets to build up to three of them if he's got the gold to do so. And last is the Warlord, who gets extra gold from military districts and can spend his gold on destroying districts in other people's cities. If we were playing with eight people, the ninth card would be the Queen, who gets a bunch of extra gold if she happens to be sitting next to the King.

Now that we've all had a turn and you've got an idea what each character does, we gather up the cards, and pick again, starting with last round's King. Now you've got a pile of gold in front of you, and here's the Architect card that'll let you spend all of it in one fell swoop, catapulting you closer to victory... but the Thief card is missing, and the other players are eyeing your pile of gold. They know you'll want the Architect, so if one of them has the Thief they'll target the Architect to take your gold before you can act, so clearly only a great fool would take the Architect card. Better to turn the tables on them by taking the Assassin and killing the Thief, repaying them for their treachery! And so you do that, and then it turns out that nobody was the Thief, and they were just psyching you out and somebody else got the Architect and now they're sitting on a big pile of built districts, and trying to figure out how they're going to deal with the inevitable Warlord problem. Now you see why this game is awesome. It's Vizzini's "only a great fool would drink the wine in front of me," played X different directions and Y levels deep.

I haven't even gotten to this part of it yet, so I can't include it in my review properly, but there are extra optional cards you can mix in when you want to spice it up (it's like having an expansion built into the basic game). Each of the basic characters can be replaced with a different character that does sort of the same thing but different -- for example, you can replace the Assassin with the Witch, who bewitches characters instead of killing them; they get to take the main part of their turn normally, but she gets control over their special ability. There are also extra districts that grant special bonuses when you build them in your city.
To sum up, Citadels doesn't require a lot of tricky math or logic, and it's quick enough to play in a lunch hour or over a drink or two, so it's a great game for when you can't set aside a big chunk of time and a group of hardcore gamers. I will say that by its nature there's a lot of backstabbing and double-crossing, so people who take that sort of thing personally might not be the best group to play this with, but that's the only caveat I can think of. This is an excellent game to have in your library for when the comical shock value of Cards Against Humanity has faded and Munchkin starts to feel like a slow death march.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Day We Fight Back. by Mike Fatum

If you're reading this right now, you're ignoring the giant floating banner at the bottom of this page. Don't.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Don't Complain About a Show Before You've Seen It. by John Garcia

I woke up Saturday morning, July 7, and logged onto Facebook as I wait for my morning coffee to brew.  I was prepared to see a lot of angry, screaming, disappointed statuses and rants about how “This year, Comic Con sucks at registration even more.”  I was surprised.  There was a ridiculous amount of calm in the SDCC side of things.  In a moment of self-aggrandizement, I thought to myself, “Wow, did people REALLY not worry and are calm and rational for a change?” Well....

Friday, February 7, 2014

Episode 88: Mike Wants to Talk About Nightvale

Picture Mike and Jarys watched I, Frankenstein this week, and surprisingly, they really liked it! Find out why it spoke to Jarys in particular. Plus! Mike has been reading I,Robot, and Jarys and Mike discuss how to survive in a dystopian future society. All this, while Mike tries and fails to bring the conversation over to Welcome to Nightvale.

Episode 88!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How I Met the King. by John Garcia


Twenty years ago, to this day, the world lost one of its greatest visionary artists, Jack “The King” Kirby.  The iconic images you know, recognize, (and complain if there is any deviation from) of the many of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer, the X-Men, and the New Gods, to name a few, were products of Kirby’s artwork and vision. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Traveling with Google Glass. By Carolyn Nave

A traveler boards an airplane to Paris - Charles de Gaulle for the weekend. His bags are packed, his mobile devices are charged and ready for use, and he knows that his train to Amsterdam is on time thanks to an app that sends him push notifications. Mobile technologies, particularly those with cellular data connectivity, have tremendous potential for all sorts of people, but travelers in particular know the importance of having vast stores of information at their fingertips at any given moment. Where would we be without Google, without turn-by-turn directions, multi-platform sync calendars, even mobile access to e-mail?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Comic Con: Worry Not, by John Garcia

 Hey folks, Editor Mike here. We asked John, who's been a longtime Comic-con goer, what his thoughts were on the changes to Comic-con 2014, and whether they'd spell out the doom many have predicted. He doesn't think so, and wrote us an article on each worry he sees running around the internet right now. What do you think?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bioshock Infinite: Your Argument is Invalid (Part 2) by Chris Brecheen

Just a reminder, while this isn’t a “what does it all mean?” post analyzing the plot of B.I., I cannot avoid some spoilers. I also have some mild Inception spoilers, so if you haven’t seen that yet, go find out why all the critics were wetting themselves in 2010. I’m going to hit the ground running from Part one without any recap, so please check that out before digging in here if you haven’t already. 

So what makes art “real art” anyway?

I mean besides the fact that these champions of bourgeoisie aesthetic say that it conforms to their ethnocentric and back-in-the-good-old-day, past-revering sense of artistic merit—mostly because that’s what their professors taught them? Is it simply a completely subjective matter of opinion? Or is there a reason that people the world over and from many different cultures seem to have a general level of agreement about a lot of good art. What is it that makes art connoisseurs mouths go dry—whether schooled in New England or Uganda or Tokyo—when they look upon the statue of David.