Pleasant Dreams, a cardgame for 1-2 players,by Aerjen Games (2014)

Everyone has those times on a day where you just have a couple of minutes to spare,but don’t exactly know how to spent them. An episode of your favorite tv show is just too long, and you just don’t have the time to set up a very eleborate boardgame, no matter how much you love those. Luckily there are games out there that are a lot of fun, require almost no set up time, and take under 10 minutes to complete. Pleasant Dreams is a cardgame that falls into that last category.

Components

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The first thing that you will notice on this game is the beautifully designed box. It looks almost like a small book, with a gold lock design on the side. It is very small and will fit right into any travel back. Inside the box you will find two small blue glass beads, and a stack of over 40 tarotsize cards. The rules of the game are also printed on 5 of these cards, so everything just fits perfectly together. Another thing that is definitely worth mentioning is the way these cards look. The artwork is just phenomenal. Some of the cards have truly scary designs and are just gorgeous to look at. You can see that just a lot of time was put into the design, and that for me is a plus.

Game overview

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The object of the game is to stay asleep during the night, and to avoid waking up screaming aloud because of nightmares. At the beginning of the game every player receives a card to represent your character and for keeping score on your state of wakefulness. In addition two other cards are dealt to each player with special powers that will help you deal with the dreamdeck. Now the dreamdeck contains cards that either raise or lower your wakefulness score. When this score reaches 5 or more points, you wake up screaming your lungs out, and have lost the game. Don’t worry, it doesn’t happen for real ūüôā .

Difficulty

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This game can be learned in under 3 minutes. Yes it really is that simple. The rules are pretty clearly written, and not difficult at all. As for winning this game that truly depends on luck. In each turn players decide on how much cards they want to draw from the dreamdeck, ranging from 1-5 cards. Each card either raises or lowers your wakefulness score. Then there are some cards that players can decide to either discard or flip over. This last action lowers your wakefulness score by 1 point, but also has the potential to add a card to the dreamdeck which severely hampers your chance to stay asleep and win the game.

The Verdict

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I really enjoyed this small game. It is one of those games that you just play when you have a little time to kill, and with games lasting no more than 10 minutes, this is perfect for moments like that. Now some people may argue that this game just all depends on luck and that there is little strategy to the game. I guess that is mostly true, but for me a game can be enjoyable to play even if it greatly depends on luck. As i said the game is truly beautifull to look at, and for that it scores points as well. I love games that can be complex, but there are also times i just want to play something that is relatively simple, and this game does certainly fulfill that purpose.

I give this game a 9 out of 10 score.

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400 Days, American movie (2015)

Sometimes there are movies that are quite enjoyable to watch, but then get ruined by an ending that just doesn’t live up to what you were expecting. Unfortunately, 400 days is a movie that belongs into that category. Which is really a shame, since there are a lot of things to like in this one.

The movie tells the story of four people that are preparing to go into outer space. To properly prepare them, they are getting locked up under ground and will undergo a simulation of the mission ahead. In exactly 400 days they will have to survive on their own, in a very claustrophobic setting. As the days go by, things are beginning to happen that¬†makes them begin to question their sanity. The real question is…is this part of the simulation, or are there more horrifying things going on….

Now one thing this move has, is atmosphere. There are some truly tense and seriously creepy scenes that definitely will sent a chill or two down your spine. Even though the movie is definitely low budget, the camerawork is very decent and truly creates a sense of dread. Another thing that i liked about this movie were the two lead actors, Brandon Routh and Caity Lotz. Brandon, who most people will remember from his role as the former Superman, truly lifts the film up a notch or two. His chemistry with Caity, also works well on screen. Lotz also does a very decent job of almost carrying this movie on her own, and her role reminds me a bit of one of her other movies: the Machine. (If you have not yet had a chance to see that one, i highly recommend it.)

All in all i really liked this movie, right up until the ending. I am obviously not going to spoil it for you who still would like to see this movie, but trust me when i say you will feel letdown by it. I hope that one day someone will perhaps make a sequel to this one, but obviously that is probably wishfull thinking.

Still if you like tense, paranoia inducing thrillers, there are worse ways to spent your evening. As long as you are prepared for the ending which will most assuredly give you a big sense of disappointment, there is still almost enough to enjoy this one..emphasis on almost.

I give this movie a 6 out of 10 score.

Fantastic Four, American movie (2015)

Reboot, remake, and all other associated words… It is something Hollywood quite¬†enjoys doing these days. Almost everything seems to be getting a remake, from old obscure television series to movie franchises. Not all of these reboots, are necessarily bad. One only has to look at the Dark Knight trilogy to see how things can definitely work out for the better. (And honestly i liked the Robocop reboot as well, but i seem to be in the minority with that ūüėČ ).

The superhero group Fantastic Four got it’s reboot last year. The two movies¬†that came before it, were modest hits, and in my opinion were okayish. Not great, but as far as movies go not too bad. The reboot that was released last year got incredibly bad reviews. Now i for one am one of those people that reads reviews, but always forms his own opinion. A movie is a personal experience and what is a bad movie for one person, might be a good movie for the other.

Unfortunately though, with this movie, the reviews were right. This was not a very good movie, in fact it was pretty bad. The movie starts off all right, and at that point i was thinking the reviews might have been wrong after all. We see a young Reed Richards tinkering in his garage on a science project. He is soon joined by a young Ben Grimm, and together they begin work on their first school project: transporting matter to another dimension.

The movie then jumps ahead a few years, and we see the both of them working on a full scale project of their idea. Together with Sue and Johny Storm, and Victor von Doom they manage to get the project working and are then transported to an entirely different world. Things go wrong, and the five of them get transformed into beings with incredible powers. They manage to escape back to Earth, except for Victor. And this is where the movie starts doing things that deviate completely from the comic books. The origin story of the Fantastic Four is totally different. Now i respect that they try to do things their own way, but it just doesn’t seem to work for this movie. The pacing is just totally off. Almost nothing happens in this movie. When the four of them get their powers and are changed into the heroes we all know and love from the comic books, we see a bunch of training¬†sessions. Eventually Victor get’s back and you expect a big showdown between the group and doctor Doom. Well this “showdown” lasts a little over 5 minutes, and then almost right after that, the end credits roll.

Well…i love superhero movies, and this one was truly a letdown. The incredibly slow pacing, the bad script, and the rushed ending, it all contributed to a mediocre movie at best. The only thing that was all right was the acting, as Miles Teller and Michael B.Jordan did a pretty good job. Unfortunately with the reception this movie received, i am afraid that this is the end for the Fantastic Four. Well…at least until the next reboot.

I give this movie a 4 out of 10 score.

Shadowrun: Crossfire, a Boardgame for 1-4 players,by Catalyst Gamelabs (2014)

Shadowrun Crossfire is a cooperative deckbuilding game. That is quite a mouthfull ūüôā For those of you unfamiliair with the concept of deckbuilding games, i will give a small ¬†explanation. In a deckbuilding game you usually start out with a hand of basic cards. With these cards you will try and defeat bad guys and more importantly buy new and better cards. These cards will then be added to your deck, which will make your deck more powerfull. As the game progresses, you will continue to buy new and better cards to enhance your deck with, hence the name “deckbuilder “.

Components

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Inside the Shadowrun box you will find a lot of cool stuff. First of all there is the rulebook, which i found to be pretty well written and does a good job of teaching you the game. The second book you will discover is a background book about the Shadowrun world. The Shadowrun setting has been around for a very long time and is best known for it’s roleplaying game. The last book is a 37 preview of a Shadowrun novel called Fire and Frost.

Then of course there are over 200 cards included in the box of a very sturdy quality. The artwork on those cards does a great job of transporting you into the Shadowrun world. Also included are a bunch of health and damage tokens, a number of character sheets, stickers, and 3 mission sheets. All in all there is enough quality in the box to make every deckbuilding fan happy.

Game overview

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In Shadowrun Crossfire you first will select a mission to play, which can vary from extracting a certain person or escaping from a building. Three missions are included, in the box,but more can be found on the publishers website and in expansions. Then you select a character with which to play, which are called Runners, who will than attempt to complete the mission.

Every runner selects a role, for instance the Mage, which will become the characters specialty. There are four roles to choose from and when playing with fewer than four players, a character gets more than one role. After each player has selected their character and roles, the game can begin.

Shadowrun is played in a series of turns in which players can try and fight obstacles, and buy new cards from the Black Market. When defeating obstacles (enemies), players earn nuyen, which is the games currency. With these nuyen, you can buy new cards, but these aren’t cheap, and you have to make well thought out decisions about which cards to buy for your deck.

Difficulty

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Now i am not going to lie to you, the difficulty of this game can be brutal. Each game a number of cards will be drawn from the Crossfire Event the deck, and these cards can seriously put a rain on your parade. I have had sologames, playing with two Runners, in which i was defeated in just a few turns, simply because of a bad card draw. This is the one gripe i have with this game. You can plan things well in your mind, but then everything you planned can go down the drain, just because of bad luck.

The verdict

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I really love deckbuilding games, which is the reason i bought this game in the first place. I have so far only been playing this game solo, and to my shame i must admit i have not been able to win the game once. However even though i keep losing, i keep going back to it. The game just is that good. I love the way the cards look, the Shadowrun world is fantastic in itself, and the game just plays like a charm. The high Caliber Ops expansion adds even more goodness to an already great game.

The game loses a point because of it’s high difficulty level, but other than that i highly recommend this to any player who loves deckbuilding games.

I give it 8 out of 10 points.

 

Memories of the Sword, Korean movie (2015)

Memories of the Sword is best described as the Korean answer to Chrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The story of the movie focuses on the 18 year old Hong-ee. She is raised by the swordswoman Seol-rang, who trains her in the art of swordplay. And with good reason it seems. Years before, Hong-ee’s parents were killed, and she wants revenge on the person responsible for their deaths. When coming face to face with one of the most powerful men of the country, king Deok-gi, certain secrets are revealed that set her on the road to a tragic¬†fate…

Memories of the Sword is one of those movies that does nothing wrong, but fails to make a very lasting impression. There are a couple of things the movie has going for it though. The young actress, Kim Go Eun does a very impressive job in her role as Hong-ee. The way she turns the character from an innocent girl into a ruthless killer, is one of the things that i really liked in this movie. The other actor that just turns everything he does into gold is ofcourse Lee Byung Hun. His role as king Deok-gi is just nothing short of amazing, and truly that alone is making this movie worth watching.

From a cinematic view-point the camerawork is also¬†something that deserves to be mentioned. There are some truly memorable fight scenes shot against¬†very beautifull scenery in the background. ¬†Especially the last fight towards the end of the movie is shot in a truly breathtaking fashion. Unfortunately it is the story itself that fall short. It is nothing we haven’t seen before, and the “twist” towards the end, is something that you can see coming from a mile away. Also the swordfights, with the excessive use of wirework, though impressive to watch, reminded me too much of all those other movies that came before.

All in all though, Memories of the Sword is not a bad movie. As i said Lee Byung Hun’s performance alone is a reason to watch this one, and if you like swordfight epics you won’t be bored by this one. Just don’t expect to see something you haven’t seen before.

I give this movie a 7 out of 10 score.

D-day, Korean drama series (2015)

Korean drama series, or K-drama’s as they are more often called, are becoming more and more popular. One of the big advantages of these shows is the fact that they are series that usually run for just one season. As so many shows these days get cancelled on cliffhangers, you don’t run any risk of that happening with a K-drama.

The series i am about to review, D-Day, is one of those shows you just have to binge watch. Yes, it really is that good. In D-Day the capital city of Seoul gets hit by a violent earthquake. It then focuses on the brave men and women of the rescue-services and a hospital that are left behind to deal with the effects of the aftermath.

Let’s first talk about the special effects on this show. Usually effects on tv shows are mediocre at best, simply because of budget restraints. However that was definitely not noticeable on D-day, because when the earthquake strikes, it can stand up to the effects used in big Hollywood blockbuster movies. Even more striking are the effects that are used more subtly throughout the show, like small cracks on roads and buildings. All these help to make you believe that there really has been an earthquake that destroyed most of Seoul.

However it is not the effects that makes this show so great. No that right is reserved for the wonderfull cast of characters and the actors that portray them. Every single character, from the main characters to the lowest sub characters, has it’s role to play in the unfolding drama. The lead character is doctor Lee Hae-Sung, a doctor who is known to be reckless in his pursuit of saving human lives. The natural charisma of him (a credit to actor Young-wang Kim) makes you rooting for everything he does all throughout the show. He is soon joined in the series by the young female doctor Jung Ddol-mi, another character you will fall in love with as the series progresses. She provides most of the comic relief, a thing that is well needed in what would otherwise be a pretty¬†bleak and depressing show. The list of characters is very big and to name them all is just not something i am going to be doing here. However my review would not be complete to not at least mention the hospital director Park Gun. I don’t think i have ever seen a person that i hated more in a tv series than this loathsome man. Trust me when i say that you will come to hate him as well. But oh wow, is he played well by actor Kyeong-yeong Lee.

The series will take you on a rollercoaster trip throughout a total of 20 episodes. It will make you laugh, cry and sit on the edge of your seat, and once you start it will be hard to stop watching it. Is the show perfect? No ofcourse not. Yes there are some moments in the show that feel forced, or in which there are some overacted scenes of emotions. I also read some reviews that did not like the ending of the series. That ofcourse is, as it is with most things, a matter of opinion. I for one loved the ending, which i am not going to be spoiling here.

Overall though i loved this show and give it a 9 out of 10 score.

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