International TableTop Day 2018

This was my third year going to an International TableTop Day event sponsored by my local comics shop, Vault of Midnight. I always enjoy the event very much, but with Free Comic Book Day following the weekend after, and working full time, I often don’t get a chance to blog about the event. But regardless, I always have a very good time and this year was no exception.

I go into International TableTop Day, hoping to play some old favorites, as well as wanting to learn new games – and for three years, this event has not disappointed in satisfying both those goals. Also, I tend to be a bit shy in new situations, but the staff is welcoming and inviting, helping to get new games started and always welcoming one into a new game. I really, really appreciate the staff and both how hard they work and their helpful, welcoming attitude. It’s a great relief and makes the event tremendously fun.

This year I played four games, which is a good amount for a 5-hour event. Those games were: Bunny Kingdom, Settlers of Catan (classic), Ex Libris, and Hive. Bunny Kingdom was a great game. Each player is dealt ten cards to start, and plays two – but then hands his or her cards first to the left, and after the next round to the right. Play alters in direction until all ten cards are played. There are four rounds then the game is scored. Players earn points for controlling territory and completing quests. It is far better to complete quests than hold territory, though holding territory is often needed to complete the quests. And the scoring is incredibly complicated, especially for a family game. But it is fun. The image header for this entry is our completed game board. Now that I understand the mechanics, I’d play the game again.

Settlers of Catan is the classic game, one I’ve played since the 90s, and that I really adore. I usually play one of the expansions, such as Seafarers of Catan or Traders and Barbarians of Catan, so it was nice to play the classic edition. One builds settlements, roads, and cities, in an attempt to be the first to achieve the required number of Victory Points. My two co-players were new to the game, and we did have a good time.

Ex Libris was a game set in a library, and the point is to put your books on shelves in order. I didn’t like the mechanic of there being no deals of new cards after the first one. I also found my special ability utterly useless and actually a negative for gameplay. But, on the positive side, the cards look beautiful, and if I played the game again I might enjoy it more. It’s also a very, very, long game – the longest by far that I played.

Finally, with only a half-hour or so left, I played Hive, a two-player game. It’s sort of like a basic form of Chess, with bees and insects. Your object is to surround your opponent’s Queen – and each of your insects moves in a different way. I played two games and I won once and my opponent won once. It’s a fun game, but one that might become boring after a while. On the other hand, it doesn’t have a board and can be played on any flat surface.

Overall, I enjoyed International TableTop Day very much, but then I always do. It’s a great event. I highly recommend finding a local event in your area and going.

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Book Review – Bombshells vol. 1: Enlisted

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 1: Enlisted
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Marguerite Sauvage (Art and Colors), Laura Braga, Stephen Mooney, Ted Naifeh, Garry Brown, Bilquis Evely, Mirka Andolfo, Ming Doyle, Sandy Jarrell, ML Sanapo, Marc Derring, Wendy Broome (colors), Doug Garbark (colors), Kelly Fitzpatrick (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Mera (Aqua Woman), Zatanna, John Constantine, Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Stargirl, Supergirl (Kara Starikov)
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/08/2018

“I would do the right thing. I cannot sit idle, awaiting the next blow… I would not be indifferent to the suffering of strangers.” – Wonder Woman

DC Comics’ Bombshells is awesome. This is the first volume of the series, and I certainly hope there is more because I absolutely loved it! The simplest way to describe Bombshells is that it’s like an alternate reality Birds of Prey set in World War II, but with Amanda Waller in charge (as in Suicide Squad; rather than Oracle/Barbara Gordon being in charge as in Birds of Prey). This particular volume is all about set-up, showing our women as heroes in their own right before being recruited by Amanda, or finding their way to Amanda’s “Bombshells” group. Kate Kane is the Batwoman, interpreted a bit too literally as she is on the Gotham Knights Women’s Baseball team, and in her off time she beats-up criminals in Gotham with her baseball bat. Interestingly enough, she also saved the Waynes, preventing Mr. Wayne from being killed by a street thug. Kane is, also, as in the current DC continuity, a lesbian. Kate also inspires a very young Barbara Gordon to become a heroine, since she witnesses her actions.

Wonder Woman’s origin is the traditional one, Steve Trevor, an American spy, crashes on Paradise Island, and despite the warnings of her mother, Diana decides she must join him and fight great evil in the war against Hitler’s intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and racism. It’s Diana who recruits Mera, the “Aqua Woman”. Steve informs Amanda, and she asks the two to join her Bombshells group.

Meanwhile, Amanda has already sent Kate into the lion’s den in Europe to find out more about La Contessa Selina Digatti – The Catwoman. It’s Alexander Luthor who picks up Kate and takes her to the Contessa’s party, all the time trying to convince Kate how war is good for business but that America shouldn’t challenge Hitler. Luthor basically is just as xenophobic and racist as ever.

In Russia, two very special women are joining the “Night Witches” – female Russian pilots who specialize in night raids. These two women, Star Girl (Kortni Duginovna) and Super Girl (Kara Starikov), have special powers – Star Girl with her staff of power and Supergirl basically like the Supergirl we know: super strength, immune to bullets, the ability to fly. The two, however, discover that the “enemy camp” they were sent to destroy is actually a Russian Prison Camp for political prisoners staged to look like a Nazi forward camp. They realize this and stop the attack, then discover their own parents in the camp. The women’s father had been a scientist and cosmonaut and now was speaking out against a particular general who was too zealous in his persecution of anyone who disagreed with what the Russian government was doing. Unfortunately, they are attacked during their escape attempt and the women’s father is recaptured. Supergirl, Stargirl, and their mother escape and find the English ship where Mera is meeting with Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller. Diana, Wonder Woman, is also nearby, but in custody, because she insisted on a group of captured Nazi soldiers stand trial rather than be executed by Steve’s men immediately. Amanda has her doubts about recruiting two Russians, and the Russians do not want to wear a uniform of American iconography, but one gets the feeling all that will be worked out and the two recruited as Bombshells.

Zatanna is trapped in Germany, working at a Cabaret, run by the Joker’s daughter. John Constantine is in the audience, though he is turned into a rabbit (who talks, smokes, and whose yellow fur resembles his trench coat). The Germans have raised a demon, who asks for the dead in return. The demon can make zombies. John both warns Zatanna of the dangerous supernatural “stuff” going on, and encourages her to escape Germany. Zatanna has no love for the Germans – but she’s trapped, in no small part because with a Jewish mother and Romani father – she’s dead without the Joker’s daughter’s protection.

Speaking of the Joker, Harley Quinn is working as a psychiatrist, when she learns “Mr J” may be alive. She meets up with Poison Ivy and the two set off to find him.

I loved this book! The art is truly beautiful. The writing is strong and meaningful. The story is very much an introduction to all the characters and their own environments and theaters in what will no doubt be a very far-reaching story. I just simply loved it and I want more. I hope future bound volumes are forthcoming.

Comics these days are very much a cross-medium media, with ideas from films and animated media crossing over into on-going books, and ideas from books becoming animated and live-action movie, and Bombshells is no different, as the origin of this series was actually a series of collectible statues of well-known DC female heroes done in the style of World War II pin-up girls. And while some of the art has that style – this is not an exploitative series at all! It’s brilliant – these are all strong women in extraordinary circumstances who will no doubt be fighting the war just as men would. I think it helps considerably that not only is the first volume written by Marguerite Bennett, one of comics’ most talented female writers, but the art and colors are also, for the most part, by women. This no doubt put a check on any possible exploitative aspects of the story, given the inspiration, and gave power to these extraordinary female characters.

Highly Recommended, and I simply cannot wait to get more!