Starbreeze / Overkill Pre-E3 & The Walking Dead Game Launch Event

With E3 2015 wrapping up a couple days ago, we’ve been seeing some pretty cool announcements coming from the electronic world over the past week. Some fantastic-looking new games, new systems, new gadgets. Nerdy fun to be had by all.

Just before E3, however, I got to have a bit of that fun for myself. Recently, Overkill Software had an event they called the Hype Train for their game, PayDay 2. This happened back in February/March, but you can still see some of the info from it here. This event effectively solidified Overkill/Starbreeze as my favorite gaming company around today. While studios like Electronic Arts are nickel-and-diming us gamers with in-game purchases, and a studio like Gearbox is suspected of plagiarism, it’s getting hard to tell who the good guys are in gaming. Overkill made that a little easier with the Hype Train. Here are the basics: Overkill set a list of goals to reach with corresponding PayDay-themed prizes. These goals were met by fans purchasing the game, DLCs, characters packs, etc. Anything at all PayDay-related that was purchased from their official outlets in this time period went toward the Hype Train. As prizes were unlocked, anyone with the game got access to these prizes. So even if you just had the base game, but didn’t or couldn’t buy anything during that time, you still got the Car Shop Heist and the Hoxton Revenge Heist. The way they went about this event was very cool in that it was obviously for the fans. Instead of just being out to make a quick buck, they promoted the game and the additions in a way that engaged the community, and rewarded fans. I’ve seen a few cynical groups of fans criticize the gaming company for involving money in the event at all, but that criticism seems extremely short-sighted. Of course a business has to make money in order to continue releasing their brand of awesome. At least in Overkill’s case, they did it in a way that really gave back to their fans and their community – and not just the factions that could pay for it at that particular time.

One of the prizes released during the Hype Train affected me, directly. There was a possibility that a prize would be unlocked where Overkill would fly 10 heisters to L.A. for a Pre-E3 event. I’ll be honest – the details were incredibly vague at the time, and whether it would even happen or not had not even been announced yet by the time you had to enter to win this prize. However, to enter, all you had to do was send Overkill a tweet during a certain time frame. What does one tweet cost you?  Nothing. Nothing at all. I sent my tweet back in March, went about my life, and actually forgot about it.

That is until early June when I started getting messages from Overkill on twitter.  When they first started trying to get my attention, they hadn’t yet told me I won the trip. I was mid-sentence in a conversation with my husband, and checked a notification on my phone. I trailed off in conversation, and my eyes got very big. My husband asked what was going on, and I responded with “SOMETHING IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.” A few minutes later, Almir Listo, producer of the PayDay franchise, let me know I had won, and asked if I’d be available to fly to L.A. in exactly one week. Naturally, I freaked out, put everything in life on hold, and went. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I’ve been a big fan of the PayDay games for a while at this point, but even bigger, I have grown to respect and love Overkill as a gaming company. PC Gaming is one of my biggest hobbies in life these days, and these hotelguys were doing it right. I absolutely jumped at the chance to fly across the country and meet with them in person.

The following week was a blur of sustained excitement, and early on the Saturday morning following the announcement, I was on a plane. I arrived at the same time as several other heisters, and we instantly bonded. Everyone invited along, and everyone who met up with us from the studio were amazingly friendly and welcoming. We were all extremely excited.

We got to the hotel Overkill had us staying in – the Grafton on Sunset BLVD in West Hollywood.  A beautiful hotel that was rock-themed, newly renovated, and in a great location.  I walked with some of the other heisters to a nearby burger place, and had lunch. Afterwards, we were all in need of a nap – each of us had been traveling since early that morning, and were in for a long night ahead of us.

A few hours later, we were picked up in a limo, and given a tour of Hollywood before being dropped off at the event.

The party was at the Hollywood House of Blues. Technically, it was only half a block from our hotel, and we easily could have walked, but the limo ride was fun either way. There were 3 floors of drinks, food, music, fun people, games, and announcements. It was crazy. Immediately upon walking into the gate, I met Damion Poitier – the voice of Chains in the PayDay games. He was incredibly nice, and all for hanging with the fans. He also made the absolute best faces in all the pictures that were taken of him that night (see his twitter feed for more of these amazing faces).damion  We also chatted with Eric Etebari, the voice of Dallas, throughout the night as well. In fact, every time we turned around, there was either Damion or Eric. I’m pretty sure they wanted to be BFFs, but were too shy to say so (right? RIGHT??).

We were also greeted by shambling zombies everywhere. Since this event was the launch party for Overkill’s The Walking Dead, they made a point to really put you in the mindset of hanging with zombies. Now – I organized a large-scale Zombie Walk for years. We had some incredible zombies over the years, but none with the constitution of these Walkers. Never once did I see a single zombie break character, even for a second. One in particular made a point to sneak up behind various party people, waiting just inches from the back of their heads to notice him. The reactions were priceless.

zombie Next were the announcements.

Overkill’s The Walking Dead was obviously a huge one. There are a couple other TWD games out right now, but they’re both completely story-driven, not shooters. Since the Left 4 Dead franchise, I think we here in the gaming community have been itching for an awesome, new zombie-themed shooter. We saw a bit of the gameplay and graphics from the new TWD game, and it’s looking pretty badass. And it looks like there will also be a little crossover from the PayDay franchise. The game doesn’t come out until next year, but I’m already psyched for it. You can watch the trailer for it, and find out more details here.

Next was the announcement of PayDay 2 coming to consoles. In fact, they had several machines set up with PayDay 2 loaded up to try it out. I’m not a big console person, myself, so I asked some of the other folks in my group how it held up in terms of a console shooter. Since they were all fans of the PayDay franchise on PC previously, they were able to definitely say that the translation from PC to console was very well done. The controls are intuitive, and the game played just as well on console. So if you’ve been wanting to play PayDay 2, but just aren’t into keyboards and mice, look forward to that release.



Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we were surprised with the announcement of the StarVR system. This entire thing looks amazing. The StarVR system is Starbreeze’s answer to the recent Virtual Reality craze. It’s a headset that’s lighter than the Oculus, and instead of smaller circles to look through that are straight-ahead, the StarVR system has a wide screen that allows for peripheral vision. This may sound like a small difference in systems, but in reality, the way the StarVR is laid out allows you to really, and truly immerse yourself into the game much more than most other VR systems that are announced right now. Granted – the StarVR is still in process, as are many other virtual reality systems, and some changes and competitors may still arise. At the moment, though, it looks like Starbreeze is on the right path with this one. Here’s a Hands-on view from the E3 conference:

Overall, there were a ton of unexpected, and fantastic surprises at the Pre-E3 party. Friendships were forged, and a ridiculous amount of fun was had.

The next day, we had dinner plans with the Overkill gang, but were free until then. Some heisters explored Hollywood, some hung out at the hotel and gamed a bit. I had some friends in town, so I joined them for a killer waffle brunch. Then we were all given an address to meet up at.

The address led us to the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and the shopping center behind it. It was a little bit confusing to know where we were going at first, but once we saw that there was a Dave & Busters, we all thought ‘of course they’re going to take a bunch of video game nerds to the gaming place.’ We were right – and thrilled to be.

starbreezeWe were joined by Almir Listo, Simon Viklund (who composes all of the music in the PayDay games), and Karl Lakner (art director for Overkill). A relaxing dinner with great conversation was followed by a lot of selfies and group pics. We all got the chance to really talk with these accomplished fellows one-on-one, and ask any burning, heisting questions we may have had.

However, at the end of it, not all of us were ready to call it quits. Almir had to leave us, but Simon and Karl were dead-set on seeing a movie. We walked over the Chinese Theater, and all grabbed tickets for Jurassic World, but still had a couple hours to kill, so we went back to D&B’s to play some games. I got to shoot ridiculous amounts of aliens and terminator-bots with Karl, and then even more dinosaurs with Simon. A few of the other Overkill guys joined us for the movie – and were more than happy to talk about the weapons, explosions, and landscapes they designed for the PayDay games, and what went into them. The gentlemen we got to meet from Overkill were easily some of the nicest, friendliest, and most welcoming people I’ve met in a long time.

The next morning, I flew the 7 hours back to my usual side of the country.

It was a crazy, jam-packed, exciting, whirlwind of a weekend that I never expected to happen.


I cannot thank the guys at Overkill, and especially Almir and Karl (who were both incredibly friendly and accommodating) enough for the experience. You guys made 10 little heisters’ lives incredibly bright for that weekend.

Rock Band 4?? Yes, Please!

In case you haven’t heard the news, Harmonix announced today (at about 5:30 in the morning..) that they’re ready for their encore! The Rock Bands games 1-3 were once a staple in friendly-get-together fun for gamers for years. It seemed the project was all but abandoned after the market was a little too saturated with at-home music games a few years ago, but we’re very happy to hear it’s been revived!



The new game will be released for current gen consoles (PS4 and Xbox ONE), however the good news is that if you have an older gen console of the same type, your DLCs and previous game codes should work for the new game and new console. This will not work for changing platforms (ie: going from PS3 to the Xbox ONE), but that’s pretty understandable. Harmonix is also working with Mad Catz to get older instruments working with the new systems/game, but no promises have been made there yet.

They will be introducing new instruments for the new consoles. Details have not been formally announced yet, with the exception of a Penny Arcade-themed guitar. This special guitar will be available for pre-order if you visit the Harmonix booth at PAX East this weekend in person, and reserve it there. Info on the PAX East pre-order as well as general info on the RB4 announcement is available here:


If you’re not able to make it out to PAX East, but still want to be able to pre-order the game or get updates on release details, they have a handy sign up here (note: pricing has not been announced):


And lastly, they have released a FAQ on the new game here:


I don’t know about you guys, but I hope this means that Rock Band competitions will start popping up again. I will OWN that with Somebody to Love.  And I think this accurate describes our excitement over the announcement:

USS Loma Prieta and Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator: A Must for Star Trek Fans

A couple of weekends ago I had the great privilege of hanging out with the crew of the USS Loma Prieta (, a Star Trek-centered science fiction fan club based out of San Francisco. I attended their Battlestations event, which was a fundraiser for the club featuring game play of the Artemis star ship bridge simulator ( My donation to the club got me a crew assignment on an Artemis voyage and two drink tickets!

The event was held at WeWork Labs in SF, which was a nice space and perfectly suited to the event. The space allowed for two full Artemis crews to work together and co-op a mission. There was also a set up for a training bridge to help people new to the game get acquainted with the controls. The Artemis stations are very similar to the standard Star Trek bridge stations: Captain, helm, science, weapons, engineering, and communications. Each game takes 6 players on networked computers to work together with both their consoles and their physical communications to beat the game.

The simulation is awesome. That is actually the best word to describe it. Each console UI looks very different from the rest, and the game play itself is very realistic (based on my experiences as an actual starship captain). I suppose the next step in making it even more realistic would be to sync the Artemis game with a motion simulator under the bridge to simulate ship movement and enemy hits. Each crew member has a different, yet important job. Just like a real starship voyage, the crew is conducted by the captain.

IMAG1081-1One of the missions I played had my crew protecting our space stations from enemy attacks. I manned the communications station, and shouted incoming messages to the Captain through a microphone. I also participated in the Artemis version of Star Trek‘s “Kobayashi Maru” training exercise, which if you’re familiar with Star Trek, you will know is a no-win scenario. Needless to say, we didn’t win. My crew did last 7 minutes against the enemy ships, though!

The USS Loma Prieta puts on these events periodically for the public, but they also run Artemis sims as well as other Trek-related activities at their meetings. You can follow the USS Loma Prieta on Twitter at ( and on Facebook at ( for more information about the organization and how to participate.

If you’re interested in the game but want to play at home or aren’t located in the Bay Area, you can purchase Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator for yourself! There is a free demo available on the Artemis website as well ( There are a variety of ways to set up the game and play, including remote networking. Artemis is available for Windows PC and iOS. I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself if you are at all interested in any of the things I have described.

For the curious, here is a video from last year interviewing some of the USS Loma Prieta crew and showcasing some Artemis game play. (

Jenn Marshall

Friday Night Magic

About a month ago, my friend asked me if I would be interested in learning how to play Magic: The Gathering with her. I excitedly said “heck yes!” for a couple of reasons. First, my friend is new to the nerd world and I’m delighted to show her around. Second, because I have wanted to play Magic for a LONG time.

Flash back

Once upon a time when I was a little girl, I would hang out in my science teacher’s classroom during lunch. There was a group of boys who would play Magic in there. I would watch them sometimes. I liked the art on the cards and it looked like they were having fun. One time I suppressed my social anxiety enough to ask them if I could play. It was a big deal in that I was a seventh grade girl pioneering her way into this secret boys’ club. I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t think the answer would be anything other than, “sure, join us”. I was expecting the wedding scene from Fiddler on the Roof when the men and women started dancing together. What I got was, “No, that’s weird. This isn’t a girls’ game”. Yes, I’m serious. But, being 12 years old, I was only initially disappointed and then just took their word for it.

Fast forward to now, when basically all I do is sleep and play games of both the video and table top variety. Until a month ago, I still hadn’t played Magic. I had heard the unfortunate stereotypes of the players being angry rules-lawyers who spent way too much money and time on their hobby. I still kind of wanted to play, but I was worried that the rules might take a while to master (like Dungeons and Dragons) or that I would have to spend a lot of time studying strategy (like League of Legends). I didn’t have the time or inclination for any of that. My friend pointed me to the free Magic 2014 tablet game (also available on Steam), which actually taught me how to play really quickly. I like to describe the game play as “a more math-heavy version of chess with pretty pictures”. The full version of Magic 2014 is $10, but the free version is definitely enough to get you started. The tutorial was easy to get the hang of, and the game does a good job gradually increasing the difficulty as you play. After I’d become confident playing the tablet game, my friend and I went to our first Friday Night Magic draft.

There are a lot of comic book and game stores in the area who participate in Friday Night Magic. The reason we chose Space Cat ( was because they had a 50% discount incentive for new players. We got to the store and filled out our new DCI cards. Everyone was very welcoming and happy to see new players. There were a couple of other first timers besides my friend and I, including someone who had never played the game at all before. A few veteran players volunteered to help and answer any questions they could. The whole atmosphere was so friendly and welcoming that I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t expect it. We drafted, and I chose my cards from the new packs. I got some helpful tips on building a good deck from a couple different players. By the end of the night, I had a pretty brutal green and black deck populated by some hard-to-kill creatures and even a Planeswalker. I even won a couple games!

Magic 2014 was recently released in card-form, as opposed to the tablet game, and I was able to draft with the new set this past Friday. There are some new creatures, some game-changing artifact cards, and a new group of Planeswalkers to get a hold of. It’s a great way to spend a Friday night, and I’m now on a mission to spread the good word of Magic: The Gathering to the rest of my gaming friends.

Jenn Marshall

Valve are the Masters of Manipulation

imgresSteam’s Annual Summer Getaway Sale started on July 11th this year (great birthday present to me!) and already Mr. Doc and I have amassed 14 new PC games, the majority of which we haven’t even downloaded yet. And the sale doesn’t end until July 22nd. Both of us are trying our hardest to resist, but every day something goes on sale that we just can’t live without.

A recent article on called “,” details five key ways that Valve draws gamers to their sales: artificial scarcity, psychological reactance, a bias towards completion, commitment and consistency, and random rewards.

Artificial scarcity/psychological reactance: Valve knows that gamers love sales and by having different sales both everyday and flash sales that last only eight hours they instill a sense of fear that the games on sale might not be on sale again. For instance, July 17th’s sales featured Deus Ex: Human Revolution for $2.99. That is 85% of its usual price of $19.99. As Mr. Doc said, “Deals like that just don’t happen very often!” The radical price drops and time limits on sales cause many gamers to purchase more games than they usually would.

A bias towards completion: Gamers like to finish things. It’s the reason I have over 250 hours invested in Skyrim and Mr. Doc has over 1000 hours invested in Final Fantasy VII. Valve offers Steam Achievements for purchasing games during the Summer Sale and this year they have started offering trading cards. Each game awards cards which in turn fill up a progress bar. We gamers love to fill up progress bars only to have it start again each time it fills up.

Commitment and consistency: Gamers tend to be consistent. Most of us have a certain type of game that we enjoy more than others. Me, I like Role Playing Games or RPGs, preferably large ones like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. Mr. Doc, on the other hand, loves his First Person Shooters like Call of Duty, Halo, or Borderlands. Valve recognized this and every eight hours they have a community poll. Three games are offered for voting on and the one with the most votes will be featured in the next flash sale. Voting on a game that wins sends a sense of commitment to those gamers who voted for it and they are more likely to purchase it while it’s on sale.

Random rewards: The tie in to all these is that Valve knows gamers like to be rewarded. It’s like perks in Fallout New Vegas, you only get one every other level but they change with each level up and with your play style so you never really know what perks you’ll be able to choose. By picking the games on sale at random, Valve is ensuring that gamers check back every so often to see what’s on sale. Everyday at 1 PM EST Mr. Doc pulls up Steam’s website and we Oooo and Ahhh over what’s on sale that day. He votes in every community choice poll and has purchased at least two different games that he voted for that have won the poll.

Valve is a master of manipulation and the internet is rife with memes featuring the Steam Sale. I would like to offer this gem from the Attack of the Fanboy article in closing as I feel it sums up my feelings exactly.


Comikaze 2013? Yes, Please! (psst – there’s a sale on tickets!)

Planning on hitting up Stan Lee’s Comikaze this year? You should be. This year looks like it’s going to be spectacular. Just the comic, scifi, gaming, fantasy, anime, and horror expo you’d expect to see from Stan Lee. Take a look into what’s in store for this year:








I love that Dot Com will be there. I hope he gets plenty of “No one can hear you, Dot Com!” jokes.

All in all, it looks like a fantastic lineup, and tickets are now on sale. Beyond that, we have some insider info that they’re having a 72-hour sale on tickets right now. So if you’re planning on going, now’s the time to check out your options – weekend passes, in particular, are a great deal today.

The Future of Gaming?

How many games do you have sitting your shelf that you’ve already played through, and barely even look at anymore? And how many games are there that you’ve been wanting to play – maybe even for years, you wanted to try some gambling games? Why not do it today and get your first coupon from BonusCode for free discounts. – but you just can’t justify the purchase of them, perhaps even because of the collection you already have?  Of course you can trade in old games to corporate companies like GameStop or Best Buy, and even purchase used games. But let’s be honest.. that’s kind of a rip. They don’t give you much for your trade-in, and turn around and sell it as used for more than twice as much. If you are looking for the best gambling experience visit DominoQQ online poker tables. At, you can take your sbobet88 indonesia
gaming experience with you, anywhere.

99gamersThis is exactly the conundrum a group of gamers was discussing over at Reddit a while back, and developed it into a solution. In addition in case you want to play bingo today, just click the link and start playing, one of the best online bingos you can play. 
BK- 99Gamers is a video game trading community. Members use 99Gamers as a platform to trade directly with each other. Members add their unwanted video games and sell them to other members for a virtual currency called ‘coins’ which are valued at $1 per coin. Members can then spend their earned coins on other games, and there are games like World of Warcraft where you can invest in gold as well. If you’re looking to be a WoW TBC Era player but recently switches to Classic. It is obviously more difficult in Classic for farming, so to save some time I bought WoW Classic Era Gold.

NiB- What is your role on the site?

BK- I’m one of the founders of 99Gamers with the other being my brother Jon.

NiB- I hear you got your start from a post on Reddit. Can you elaborate on that?

BK- I originally got the idea for a video game trading site when I came across a post on Reddit about how someone would shoot darts at their game collection to choose which game they would play next. I realized that this random person had a bunch of games that I would love to play but just haven’t had the chance to. I turned to my game collection and thought that this person would probably feel the same way about my game collection. 

I was also tired of getting ripped off by GameStop, knowing they would turn around and sell the game for double the next day. I knew other video game trading sites existed, but none of them were what I wanted them to be. Well you know, I love playing games, especially online casino games and betting, so I have come for search for betting websites uk and found some legit and fun sites I can bet on. You might want to check them out too.

I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested in something like this so I decided to post it to Reddit and see what the response was like. I was thinking maybe a few hundred people would see it and I’d be able to get some feedback on the idea, but within a few hours the post was at the top of r/gaming and even hit the front page for a while, resulting in thousands of signups. I then knew enough people felt the same way I did so I went forward with the site.

NiB- How can it help the gaming community? 

BK- First, we save people a lot of money. Trading on the site is completely free so you’ll really start to see the savings add up quickly. 99Gamers is built by gamers for gamers with the sole intention of getting more value out of your game collection. We are a platform for gamers to trade directly with each other so the middle man can be cut out. Many people feel like they get ripped off when using trade-in services so 99Gamers can be used as that alternative.

I’ve also found that because you have access to such a large game library you are more inclined to try out games you may have not given a chance before. You are then more likely to purchase the sequel when it comes out. For example I hadn’t played the Dead Space series yet but after getting the games through 99Gamers I ended up buying Dead Space 3 new.

NiB- Have you gotten any backlash from corporate gaming companies?

BK- We haven’t received any backlash at all. We’re still fairly new and have been mostly underground so it’s doubtful they know about us yet.

NiB- From what I understand, you just came out of beta. How has membership grown since then?

BK- We came out of beta about two months ago and we’re starting to pick up momentum. Just last week, it was nine months since I originally posted about the idea on Reddit so I did a follow up post about our progress so far. We ended up hitting the front page again which resulted in us more than doubling our user base within 24 hours. We went from having 2,300 members to now almost 6,000. 

NiB- Has this project been received well by the gaming community?

BK- Yes, I believe it has been received quite well. Both Reddit posts reached the front page which shows many people share the same feelings of not wanting to get ripped off by trade-in offers. When members trade directly with one another games can be offered at a lower value and people tend to appreciate knowing that their games will be going to a good home.

NiB- Are there any particular games trending on the site right now? 

BK- Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 3 have been popular over the last few months. Now that the new Tomb Raider is out it usually gets picked up quite quickly. Pokémon games are of course always popular as everyone loves playing them. I’ve found people will often buy every game in a series together. The Mass Effect series has been very popular in the past. 

NiB- Are there any games you’re hoping get put up so you can nab them?

BK- I actually had a list of games I had wanted when I came up with the idea and wouldn’t allow myself to get them through anywhere but 99Gamers. A few I’ve gotten are Kingdom Hearts, Max Payne 3, Pokémon SoulSilver and Assassin’s Creed II.  One that I hadn’t yet received was Just Cause 2 but after the Reddit post last week I managed to grab it and it’s now on its way!

NiB- Any future project plans for the site?

BK- Up next we’ll be adding PC games and digital codes. The search, browse and profile pages are getting a much improved new look. These will help members discover new and interesting games faster.
Down the road we plan on adding consoles and gaming accessories into the mix as well as some more exciting features. Our main goal continues to make buying and selling games as easy as possible so our members can spend more time playing games.

You can visit 99Gamers here: – Hopefully you’ll find something you’ve been wanting. Let us know how it goes!

Comics Review: The Guild Vol. 2

Doncha just love The Guild? One of the best acted, funniest written, most colorful TV shows out there, and it isn’t even on TV!

The Guild‘s comic counterpart is also funny, poignant, and well written. As well as colorful. Of course, this is no doubt because the folks involved in the creation of the show are also involved in the creation of the comic. So all the back stories we get from our beloved characters is indeed canon, and I shall remember what Vork’s grandfather was like and chuckle at seeing the torrid story of Bladezz’ modeling career all over again when I watch my favorite episodes. Oh, and how Clara met her husband? Good times.
The art is as colorful, cheerful, and charming as the show, and captures the characters perfectly without needing to be photorealistic portraits of the actors. And it’s really fun to see the characters actually interacting as their avatars within game world environments. Makes me kinda wish we saw more of that in the show. I bet that’s a huge budget jump, though, huh. Well it’s great to see here.


This Guild collection is composed of several characters’, well, origin stories, framed of course with their interactions while playing The Game. It’s enriching for those who are already fans, and gives a solid foundation for anyone new to the series. This particular collection also leads right up to Episode 1. My favorite character story by far has to be Zaboo’s, because of the cute and hilarious little mini-games sprinkled throughout his journey. Wouldn’t it be cool if they could make those into actual interactive puzzles in the online version? Oo. You can steal that idea, Felicia Day.


Bottom line: I highly recommend The Guild in general, and this collection is an excellent way to start, or enrich, your Guild fandom.   ~Prof. Jenn

Updated Female Pandaren Models



This is a follow up to my last WoW post about the upcoming Female Panderan Models. A few weeks ago, Blizzard finally released the Female Panderan model and they look amazing! All the images are from World of Warcraft.













They aren’t just skinny pandas, they resemble the Male Panderan, but still retain that female quality. It isn’t quite a male with a bow on its head, but it isn’t that far off either. Some people might not like the models, but then they don’t have to play them. With the beta getting into full swing more people can play with both Panderan models and find any bugs that might occur. This way the designers can make the models even better. And in a complete turn around, the female models seem to have better animations than the male models, which get stuck in the frame pose from time to time. It is usually the female models that have the most issues, so it’s nice to see that Blizzard must have worked hard at making the female models even better this time around.


Dominion: A Card Game of Epic Sovereignty

One evening, a friend brought over a card game that I had never played before. I have had experience with many different card games but this brought me so much joy I wanted to share it all with you.

Dominion is a game of chance, strategy and conquer published by Rio Grande Games. Dominion is a deck building card game where you create your own deck as you play. In Magic the Gathering, you begin the game with a deck that you have already created, while in a game like Munchkin you create your spread from a deck that everyone chooses from. In Dominion, each person starts with ten cards, and purchases from the decks that are available to others.

Confused? Actually it’s quite simple once you understand the mechanics of the game.

In the magical box, there are five main classes of cards:

Victory Card

VICTORY cards – These are signified by green embellishment and generally have no value during the game, but the point of the game is to end up with the largest amount of land.

Treasure Card

TREASURE cards – These are signified by gold embellishment and are used during the buy phase of your turn. They typically generate coins to spend on other cards (and sometimes they have other effects).

Action Card

ACTION cards – These are often signified by parchment white embellishment. These generate effects during a player’s turn offering them bonuses. Some also issue negative effects for the other players.

Curse Card

CURSE cards – These are signified by purple embellishment. A curse card during play is much like a Victory card, but it has a negative point value that counts against your final tally.

Reaction Card

REACTION cards – These are often signified by blue embellishment and can be used outside of your turn in response to a certain event, like an attack.


So , Ali… How do you play the game?

Thank you for asking, internet stranger!

Before the game begins, there is a setup phase. In the base game, there are 25 of them. The card titles are Adventurer, Bureaucrat, Cellar, Chancellor, Chapel, Council Room, Feast, Festival, Gardens, Laboratory, Library, Market, Militia, Mine, Moat, Moneylender, Remodel, Smithy, Spy, Thief, Throne Room, Village, Witch, Woodcutter, and Workshop. You have ten of most cards and they are the cards you can purchase throughout the game to create your deck.

Only TEN of the Kingdom Cards are used during each game, so game can vary greatly on the cards chosen. Some people play where someone will select the cards, but we do it this way. There is a deck consisting of an extra “Kingdom Card”. We randomly select ten of those cards and they are placed on the table in addition to stacks of Victory cards and stacks of Treasure cards (of varying values/costs). These are the stacks that you will use to build your deck.

Each player starts with 3 Estates and 7 Copper. This is your starting “deck”. You shuffle the cards and draw five cards. The first player then gets to participate in the following steps for their turn:
1. ACTION: If you have an action card in your hand you choose to play it. It can give you a bonus or screw an opponent.
2. BUY: You start with one buy for your turn. If your ACTION gives you a bonus buy, you can buy two things. You use whatever Treasure cards you have in your hand (gold embellishments) to purchase a single card from any of the decks that you can afford. The purchase price of the card is located on the bottom left of each card. You don’t need to use all of your coins, nor do you need to use multiple buys if you are granted them.
3. CLEAN-UP: At the end of your turn, all cards in your hand (and purchased card) is placed into your face-up discard pile. You then draw five new cards from your deck.

The player on your left’s turn then begins. They have their action, buy, and clean-up rounds and then it continues to you.

When your deck is all facing upwards, you shuffle it and that becomes your deck. The first few turns consist of a lot of shuffling, but once you amass a sizeable deck each time you draw you get a hand that is customized to your own strategy.

The game is over two ways:
When the stack of the highest Victory card has been depleted (in the base game that is the Province card)
When a certain amount of stacks on the table have been depleted (it varies on the amount of players).

When gameplay ends, it is each players responsibility to separate the cards of their deck (to file away for another game) and count the Victory cards they have collected. The person with the highest score is the winner.

It comes organized and separated. It makes the OCD in me sooooooooo happy!

I understand that this seems like an extremely confusing game, but I have found it to be SO much easier to deal with than Munchkin. In Munchkin there is such a variety of cards it tends to be overwhelming. In Dominion it keeps the actual action cards to a minimum and allows you a better understanding/utilization of what is available.
The best part is that with 25 different cards available, there are so many permutations of what you could actually play. It keeps the game fresh and the cards work differently together so your strategy alters during the time you spend. Also, it’s easier to keep some of the more devious* players in check. When there are three hundred different cards, it’s hard to keep some people honest.


After you’ve gotten the hang of the base system of Dominion, you may even consider adding in the expansion sets.

Intrigue pulls in the seedier side of things with the addition of Baron, Bridge, Conspirator, Coppersmith, Courtyard, Duke, Great Hall, Harem, Ironworks, Masquerade, Mining Village, Minion, Nobles, Pawn, Saboteur, Scout, Secret Chamber, Shanty Town, Steward, Swindler, Torturer, Trading Post, Tribute, Upgrade, and Wishing Well.
Seaside lets you gets you waterlogged with the addition of Ambassador, Bazaar, Caravan, Cutpurse, Embargo, Explorer, Fishing Village, Ghost Ship, Haven, Island, Lighthouse, Lookout, Merchant Ship, Native Village, Navigator, Outpost, Pearl Diver, Pirate Ship, Salvager, Sea Hag, Smugglers, Tactician, Treasure Map, Treasury, Warehouse, and Wharf.
Alchemy lets you dabble in mixology with the addition of Alchemist, Apothecary, Apprentice, Familiar, Golem, Herbalist, Philosopher’s Stone, Possession, Scrying Pool, Transmute, University, and Vineyard.
Prosperity lets you get your greed on with the addition of Bank, Bishop, City, Contraband, Counting House, Expand, Forge, Goons, Grand Market, Hoard, King’s Court, Loan, Mint, Monument, Mountebank, Peddler, Quarry, Rabble, Royal Seal, Talisman, Trade Route, Vault, Venture, Watchtower, and Worker’s Village.
Cornucopia adds more variety with the addition of Fairgrounds, Farming Village, Fortune Teller, Hamlet, Harvest, Horn of Plenty, Horse Traders, Hunting Party, Jester, Menagerie, Remake, Tournament, and Young Witch
Hinterlands encourages your wanderlust with the addition of Border Village, Cache, Cartographer, Crossroads, Develop, Duchess, Embassy, Farmland, Fool’s Gold, Haggler, Highway, Ill-Gotten Gains, Inn, Jack of All Trades, Mandarin, Margrave, Noble Brigand, Nomad Camp, Oasis, Oracle, Scheme, Silk Road, Spice Merchant, Stables, Trader, and Tunnel.

Rio Grande Games will also be releasing a replacement pack (for when your regularly used cards get oogey) in March 2012, an expansion called Dark Ages in August 2012, and an expansion called The Guilds in Spring 2013. Visit their website here.




*Devious players aren’t bad people. Some people really take gaming seriously and always want to win so they operate differently.

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