Monday, May 8, 2017

Ranking the Marvel movies

Vox has ranked all the Marvel movies, and since I don't agree, I want to do my own ranking. This will be a quick one.

1. The Avengers
About as close to perfection as you can come with an ensemble action movie.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I just love this movie and I think it's crisp and brillant in what it does.
3. Captain America: Civil War
That one was a blast, too. Really, the top three spots could be arranged in any order and I'll sign on.
4. Iron Man
Really good first and second acts, but the third act struggles because the villain doesn't connect at all and the final fight is...meh.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Ok, now I'm cheating, haven't seen this one yet, so I'll take Vox at their word.
6. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
Better than its reputation, this movie really wins out because of the relentless focus on the human cost and ethical issues.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie was a fun-fest from start to finish.
8. Iron Man 3
I like the Manadrin-reveal more than many people, and the middle part of the movie is exceptionally strong. The finale suffers, once again.
9. Captain America: First Avenger
Once again, strong first and second act, but villain and third act are real doozies and the supporting cast is dropped like a hot potato.
10. Thor
The scenes in Asgard are great, but the stuff in the little town in the desert is too corny for my tastes and and the giant robot thing is just yawn-inducing.

11. The Incredible Hulk
This movie also suffers from a bland end-game baddie. As long as the guy is a soldier, he's interesting enough, but the monster fight doesn't catch on at all, and the casting is off as well, with little chemistry between the main leads.
12. Iron Man 2
Yeah, well, that's one a structural mess. Marvel's first baby-steps at building the MCU, and it shows.
13. Thor 2
This is also all over the place, and they didn't seem to have known what to do with the characters other than "we need a second Thor with Loki in it".
14. Ant-Man
The first Marvel movie to really leave me cold. Not a bad movie, but I was bored.
15. Doctor Strange
The first Marvel movie I actually disliked. I found the writing atrocious, the story forced, and the tricks didn't sell me enough on the small screen to overlook all these issues.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rebels Season 3 finale review

I suck at my job.
So, a few thoughts on the Star Wars Rebels Season 3 finale (spoilers, duh). In my mind, it was very splashy, but also a bit of a mess. The two biggest problems were Sabine and Thrawn. Both don't really work in this episode. Sabine first. Her arc, while consistent, saw her totally sidelined in the latter part of the season, which makes bringing her back a bit difficult, especially without any foreshadowing of this move. Thus, when with great sacrifices the Ghost made contact, I wasn't engaged.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Boiled Leather Audio Hour #61

The Boiled Leather Children’s Hour

BLAH is for the children! In this episode, Sean and Stefan take a look at two issues uniquely relevant to the younger characters of A Song of Ice and Fire: bullying and education. Inspired by our recent re-reads of A Game of Thrones, our conversation touches on the pervasiveness of verbal and physical bullying, the degree to which it is or isn’t encouraged by adults, and how the ideas passed on to children by their parents and teachers through the official education system (for nobles, anyway) impact those receiving them. It’s a topic close to our hearts, and to our understanding of what the whole series is really about. Enjoy!


And remember, if you like what you hear, subscribe to our Patreon to hear more of it via our subscriber-exclusive Boiled Leather Audio Moment mini-podcast!
Additional links:

BLAH 09: Our episode on violence against children.
BLAH 11: Our episode on sexualized violence and violence against women (with Alyssa Rosenberg).
The latest BLAM mini-episode (click to subscribe).
Our Patreon page at
Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via
The Kickstarter for Sean’s new book, MIRROR MIRROR II.
Our iTunes page.
Previous episodes.
Podcast RSS feed.
Sean’s blog.
Stefan’s blog.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: The Geeknson Henry table

The table in all its glory in my room
You can buy things that are necessities. You can buy things that make your live comfortable. And you can buy absolute luxury items. This review is about the latter category. As you may know, I'm an avid boardgamer and also a sucker for cool consumer articles, so when I heard that there were tables made specifically for boardgaming, my interest was peaded. These things have a vault in which you play that you can over up with boards, so you can cover the game to eat, for example, or simply for storage until nex gaming season. They also have a ton of other extras. 

Table with the boards removed. You can see the rim.
They're also pretty expensive, so I started saving up, you know, just in case. Last year I started shopping around in earnest to find a manufacturer I wanted to trust with the job. While I first heard about these monsters from Geekchic, their location in the US basically ruled them out, so I was settled with the two European manufacturers (there are also some others producing simpler and cheaper versions, but only two getting you want I will talk about): Geeknson (UK) and Rathskellers (Greece). I finally settled for Geeknson, mainly for reasons of price and because I didn't get a good argument on why to spend 1000€ more on Rathskellers. So, on to it: what does this thing do? And does it work? 

The case against killing player characters

It's kind of a truism that practically every gamesession of roleplaying involves combat at one point or another. That combat has, via reduction of health points and the suffering of wounds, the general possibility of death for everyone involved. Usually, a lot of NPC are getting killed, but the rules do allow for the same fate to befall the player characters as well. 93,6% of roleplayers think this is a good idea, according to a study I totally didn't make up right now. 
And it makes kind of intuitive sense. The threat of dying infuses suspense into the combat, it sharpens the senses, it gives the exhilarating feeling of having escaped death in the last possible moment. For gamemasters as well as players, it also offers a kind of insurance against dumb player actions. You insist on summersaulting that Goblin? Congratulations. He stabs you. Critical Hit. And you had a botch trying to acrobatically land, suffering damage, ooooh, crit. You're dead. Drama! After all, doesn't combat derive its suspense from the danger of stuff like this happening? 

Not at all.