current song: Akame ga Kill opening theme
Due to work, I got on the road later than I would have liked and didn't get to Williamsburg until four-ish. The first game I got started was the A Touch of Evil deck builder spin-off Dark Gothic. The object is to defeat three increasingly tough Villain monsters before the Shadow track fills up, with the winner being the one with the highest scoring deck (each card being worth 0-3 points). Initially I did fairly well and scored the first two Villains. After gaining the second Villain, we called a break as a Settlers of Catan tournament we both signed up for was about to start. The format was that each participant would play two games, with the four highest total scores playing in a final game. Needless to say, I did not fare well. The first game I only scored six points, though at least I did score the Largest Army card. The second game proved to be more frustrating. I was the first to score the Longest Road. However, I got complacent and didn't bother to lengthen it much. As a result, someone else exceeded my road length and at the same time boxed me in so that I couldn't regain it. After that, it was back to Dark Gothic, where my opponent was able to score the final Villain on the first hand he drew. Unfortunately, I still had a couple of Dark secret cards in my deck which dragged down my score. What's more, my opponent had earlier obtained the Armory card, which gave him bonus points for each Gear card in his deck. Add in the fact that his special ability allowed him to purchase Gear cards more cheaply and I got thumped pretty badly.
Saturday I opened up with the Firefly Board Game. Though I had purchased the Pirates & Bounty Hunters expansion at the Dealer's Room the previous evening, I ultimately didn't use it. I wrangled two players, for whom I ran the Harken's Folly Story card. Accomplishing the first Goal of completing a job for each of the Contacts proved troublesome for myself and one other player, while the other player made it through easily. For my next game I ran Miskatonic School for Girls, where I just barely scraped in my only victory of the weekend. Meanwhile, I swung by the Dealer's Room and got myself a copy of Blood Bowl: Team Manager. The initial reading of the rulebook was a touch intimidating. However, the guy I played Dark Gothic had his own copy and offered to show me how it was played. After a round, I managed to pick up how it worked. I still got trounced, though. While the raffle was going on (none of the prizes particularly interested me), I set up to run my newly acquired Kickstarter-funded game Machina Arcana. However, I was unable to get any players and never got to try it out. Later in the evening, I took part in a game called Alibi. It could be best described as Clue without a board, where you select cards from your hand to pass along to the player next to you.
Sunday opened with the GoA Flea Market. Perhaps it because I'm not simply a buyer anymore, but ever since I've started selling as well, the buyer participation at these things isn't as strong as it used to be. Once I cleared out, I went back to the board game room, where a game of Robo Rally was in progress. The way it works is that each player is dealt nine cards (or fewer if damage has been taken) and use five of them to plot out movement across a factory floor litered with conveyor belts and pits. If you take too much damage, a movement card can get locked so that you're forced to use it every time at that particular point in the turn. I really wish I had gotten there sooner, as it looked like a fun game, but had to be content with observing.
Details on Monday-ish.
I've recently gone over the MST3K Bechdel Test by Decade and found that I had misidentified which years certain films came from. The entry has now been cleaned up and updated.
Recently I've been viewing two very similar shows that I haven't seen in a while. They are Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star. Among the similarities, they are both ostentably space Westerns produced by Sunrise and first aired in 1998. The crews of both titular ships are in a state of perpetual poverty, with their attempts to earn money meeting with mixed success.
As for the differences, it's pretty clear Sunrise put their money in Cowboy Bebop. The visuals for Outlaw Star have not aged well. As well characters tending to go off-model, the space scenes have a very slapdash look that is positively crude. Mind you, the production values of Cowboy Bebop had a few missteps (the integration of the CG church and the cel-animated characters in episode 5 is horrible). But overall it still looks good and could probably manage to pass for an upper-tier show today. In the realm of story though, I have to give Outlaw Star a slight edge. Cowboy Bebop doesn't really have an ongoing story, consisting mostly of stand alones. These are mostly quite good, though the occasional clunker does manage to slip in. The closest it gets to a continuing storyline is with the Spike/Vicious/Julia angle, and that one lands with a thud. The main storyline for Outlaw Star is fast-paced and intense, with the action hardly letting up during the first third of the series. The bulk of the stand alones occur during the middle third and are a mixed bag, though there are a few winners (The Strongest Woman in the Universe for example is gut-bustingly hilarious). Finally, of the two, Outlaw Star easily has the more satifactory ending (though it would have been closer if Cowboy Bebop had stopped at twenty-four episodes).
Over at the MST3K Info Club, the latest episode discussion is about the KTMA offering Phase IV. In a nutshell, it's about how an astronomical event endows an ant colony in the Arizona desert with sentience. During the back and forth, regular commenter Cornjob made this observation:
The heart of the confusion in this movie stems from looking at an insect colony/hive and musing about how wonderful a human society could be if it was modeled on an insect one. The mistake here is that an insect colony is not analogous to a human society, but a human body, with individual ants/bees/termites being analogous to individual cells.
The vast majority of ants are workers who lack reproductive organs and spend their entire lives doing simple repetitive tasks. Furthermore individual ants are even more expendable than individual skin or blood cells. An ant colony can survive the destruction of the majority of its workers much better than a human can withstand the loss of the majority of its tissue. Ants mourning the loss of their individual dead would be like every living cell in a human body pausing for a moment of silence whenever a skin cell died.
And individuals are free to pursue their own interests. Individual ants deciding they didn't want to spend their short existence reinforcing tunnel walls and becoming performance artists would undo the colony. Just as individual biological cells deciding they wanted to do their own thing would reduce a human being to a puddle of uncooperative one celled organisms.
And any human society based on an insect model would largely consist of expendable workers born to do one simple repetitive task and who lacked genitalia. The only community members with reproductive organs would be one gigantic immobile woman that excretes offspring all day long and her intimidated attendants. If this is utopia I'm going back to Thunderdome. So if anyone reading this is considering creating a human society modeled on an insect colony, don't.