Last Friday night I was privileged to finally meet a guitar hero of mine, Neil Zaza. Granted, I have interviewed him and spoken with him a number of times and obviously I have been listening to his music for years, but it’s completely another thing to hear the brilliance of a musician live. Neil has a reputation of being one of the world’s finest guitar players and not just because he is a technically proficient player, but because he is an amazing song writer on top of it. Neil has the very rare ability to make his guitar “sing” as if a vocalist was always there and you never miss the vocalist. He is truly one of the most melodic players on the planet, especially in his guitar instrumentalist genre.
Friday night only confirmed what I already knew. Not only did Neil player flawlessly and effortlessly this night, but his songs take you away as the melodies sweep out from his fingers and take flight through the room and astound you that anyone can be so good at playing an instrument and writing music or songs that are so strong that you are literally transported to a soundscape of rich, melodic musings from an un assuming genius that unfortunately, not enough people have heard of. Neil epitomizes what it is to be an instrumental songwriter. I dare you to find one song that isn’t absolutely gorgeous in its composition and melodic content. He is surely up there in the echelons of Vai, Satriana, Timmons and Johnson in his composition, technical and performance skills.
Granted, Douglas Corner isn’t the venue I would have preferred to see Neil in for my first time. The sound check was half a song, the sound system was adequate but not amazing but mostly, the mix was a bit on the poor side. The drums were over powering in the small venue and Neil was a bit lost in the mix sometimes, but that being said, it was still an amazing and brilliant performance that can’t be wiped away but minor issues. Neil captivated from the stage as I sat there and watched audience reaction. One person in particular was literally getting the chills Neil would rip through a fast solo and cap it of with some melodic ending that brought shivers to the fan. I was a bit shocked actually at how well Neil owned the stage and really brought a strong and mesmerizing performance to Douglas Corner considering the small stage, lack of a decent sound check and quite honestly, most guitar instrumentalists put me to sleep while they perform on stage as they stare at their feet and hand but put on no show at all. Neil did not disappoint here. It was a truly awesome performance that Neil should be proud of.
This performance was almost a homecoming in a way even though Neil had never played there before. The place was full of friends and family or “framily” as Neil calls them. They rated his performance with smart phone rating cards, many times garnering a “10” from the locals. Neil was busy before and after the show greeting, sitting and talking with each and every person who came to see him play. He gets it. There was no aura of ego. No “rockstar” persona that acted like an ass. He was gracious, very appreciate of every person who came out and acknowledged it from the stage and in person. Neil Zaza is the real deal.
The one sad thing was the lack of local musicians who always go around complaining about supporting live music. For some reason when a talent like Neil comes to town, which is not often in Nashville, the musicians don’t show up to support let alone, learn anything or be inspired by a brilliant musician. I guess it’s just much easier to sit and complain on Facebook than actually put your money where your mouth is. Luckily, the place was full of Zazaniacs (my made up word) where more than happy to soak it all in and shower Neil with love and praise for his music.
At the end of the show Matthew and Gunnar Nelson of “Nelson” fame came up to perform with Neil. First was Gunner performing “I’m Alright,” a Zaza show piece as well as the National Anthem. Then the brothers played “Love and Affection with Neil on guitar, Matthew on bass, Gunner on drums and country singer Theresa Rose on bgv’s. Unfortunately, the drum microphone was having major issues so some of the harmonies or other vocal parts could not be heard. But it was still very cool none the less.
All in all, I came away with more respect, admiration and inspired by Neil Zaza. He is a very rare, very brilliant and talented musician and songwriter. He is exactly what this genre needs more of and hopefully those reading this review, will take a moment to check him out both on his site and a venue near you.
The opening spot was filled by an Italian artist named Marco Pinna who performed acoustically with his a brand of latin/mediterranean/gypsy jazz that was fun, hip and lively. Marco was joined on stage by Sean O’Bryan Smith on bass, drummer Glenn Williams (both played for Zaza as well,) Lee Shines on percussion and Kyle Natchtigal on acoustic guitar. It was a nice refreshing change to the Nashville norm and this town sorely needs more of this kind of music to be performed live all over. Marco just release a brand new CD named “Amigus” which you can get on his site and I recommend you do.
Club Fantasci announces the release of a new awards program focusing on board and role-playing games.
David Lowry the board game column editor is announcing the release of their new Club Fantasci 2013 Board Game Awards Program to feature the very best in the board and role-playing games industry.
“The gaming industry has being growing at an amazing pace for over a decade but yet there are still so many people who are unfamiliar with all the new types of amazing games that are coming out. We want to introduce these games to the public at large and encourage more social activities between families and individuals” says Lowry.
Previously the Geek Eccentric Board Game Awards.
In the board gaming world there are many different types of games to choose from. You have strategy, family, children’s, deck building, thematic, abstract, co-operative, war and party games. So how do you determine what type of board game is right for you? I am going to break down the different types and through in a few examples to help you understand the difference so maybe when shopping for a new board game, you can more easily identify the type of games you like and make the decision easier.
Obviously with strategy games you are in for a brain burner usually. These games can be classics like “Go” or more current ones like “Twilight Imperium 3rd Ed.” Many of these games can be all day games. Now granted there aren’t a lot of people who are into spending all day playing one game. I am, but only if it is a game that is able to hold my attention not only with game play, but strategy and theme. You can have to player games like “Tide of Iron” which is also a war game or a eurogame like “Caylus” (one of my personal favorites.) Luck plays almost no role and these games and many board game purists love that. Many people don’t like a luck factor like say a dice mechanic in the game. They feel it takes away from the strategy. You won’t find those here.
Family games are just that, great for family and friends who come over and want a more social gaming experience. These are great also for introducing new people to gaming until you figure out what they really like and can pull out board games more to their style. “Settlers of Catan,” “Ticket To Ride” or “Lords of Waterdeep” are great games for this type of experience. Games like “Lords of Waterdeep” can fit into many different areas but fits just as easily here. Easy to learn, understand and have amazing replay potential. I have played two of these games hundreds of times each. They never get old.
Children’s games are self-explanatory. Finding games suitable for a child can be challenging but then also finding games for the right age as well. My daughters favorite is “Catan Jr.” based on the popular “Settlers of Catan” series, this game is very easy to understand but fun and teaches how board game mechanics work so learning harder games later becomes much easier. Other great games here are “Gulo Gulo” and “Zooloretto.”
Deck building games are all the rage now in board gaming. Some people consider “Magic: The Gathering” the Godfather of deck building games but it wasn’t until “Dominion” came out that these games took on a whole new audience. The object here are to develop a deck of cards that is efficient and allows you to win the game with as little clutter as possible in your hand. You will draw new cards every turn, typically 5 and try and strategize how best to use each hand each turn. Some deck building games have a board game component included as well. Publishers like Fantasy Flight Games have come up of a “Living Card Game (LCG)” system that allows you to purchase expansions separate packs but you always know what you are buying, unlike CCG’s in which you never new what you were getting. Some great games here are the new Marvel Superhero game “Legendary,” “Mage Wars,” “Android: Netrunner (LCG)” and “Sentinels of The Multiverse.” Realize there are many more great games, I am just throwing a few out there.
Thematic games are just that, thematic. They could be based on a show, book series, or a previous game. Some great thematic games are the Dungeons & Dragons “Castle Ravenloft based of their popular book series and RPG,” the popular TV sci-fi series “Star Trek: Fleet Captains,” the cyberpunk feeling “Android,” and the classic H.P. Lovecraft inspired “Arkham Horror.” Here the experience is in as much the theme itself as in the game play.
Co-operative games are basically a team of people working to achieve the same goals and not pitted against each other… usually. A few great games to play here and are also highly themed are the TV show themed”Battlestar Galactica,” a vampire deductive game “Fury of Dracula” hot on the heels of “The Walking Dead” “Zombicide” and the King Arthur inspired “Shadows of Camelot.” Three of these games have an antagonist in them, in both “Battlestar Galactica” and “Shadows of Camelot” there may or may not be one and you have to figure who they are. In “Fury of Dracula,” you know who it is but you have to find them on the board through revealing hidden location cards. All three are loads of fun and on my game table often.
Abstract games are low on luck and tend to be high on strategy. Games like “Chess,” Reversi,” or more recently “Tsuro.” Many of todays abstract games are classics that never grow old.
War games are always popular with a certain group and obviously usually very thematic. These can very on theme from the historical wars we have suffered as a world or through fictional wars from books or movies. Games like the World War II themed “Memorior ’44,” “A Game of Thrones” literal battle scene “Battle of Westeros” or again the classic World War II inspired “Axis and Allies” are popular war style games that done a great amount of family and friend bonding. The aforementioned “Tide of Iron” fits in here as a great one as well.
And finally we have party games. The always fun and easy to get a crowd of people into especially if they are non-gamers type of board games. Some fun games here are the vegas-style bidding game “Wits & Wagers,” the fantasy themed “Dungeon Fighter,” the spy and co-operative “The Resistance” where there are a couple traitors and of course the often funny”Apples to Apples.”
All of these games are fun, provide a great gaming experience and would be a great addition to your game shelf. So if you are looking for a new game, or new type of game then start here, click on the links and see what piques your interest!
This article was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/what-type-of-board-games-are-right-for-you/
“Winter is Coming” – House Stark
With the Game of Thrones TV show at an all time high, I thought this would be a great time to introduce the A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. to those fans who many not know about it or who or not savvy with the latest rage of board games. A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. is put out by the board game publishing juggernaut Fantasy Flight Games located in Roseville, MN and is based on George R.R. Martins bestselling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. is set up to play three to six players. With rules to adjust for the amount of players in the game. The game itself is not for the casual gamer per sey. It’s a long game of strategy that can easily go over four hours but oh what a four hours it is! All the theme and feel you could ever want in a strategy game is locked in this incarnation. All the houses: Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Tyrell, Greyjoy and Martell, are in this game as you battle for territory in Westeros with political intrigue, back stabbing and hard fought war campaigns.
First off let me tell you about the quality of the game itself. The components are outstanding. The board and artwork are top notch and to me really provide a rich, warm gaming experience which I love. I think it’s important to feel like you are a “part” of the game in the sense of actually being their and the new version does this a bit better than the original version released 10 years ago. The map is large and easy to grasp and gorgeous in imagery and laid out so no matter where you sit, everything is easy to reach and understand.
The rule book is pretty well laid out so that even though there is a lot in it, it is not real hard to understand. If you read it a couple times you should be able to get a good handle on the basic operation of the game and only need to refer for special situations hopefully. Also included in the game are two quick reference sheets help shorten the game by not needing to dig in the rule book. Each player gets a screen to hide their tokens with more quick reference tidbits which is another great help to keep gameplay time down.
You vie for control of the Iron Throne while trying to be the first to acquire a total of seven castles and strongholds before the 10th round ends. If no one has acquired seven castles by the end of the 10th round, then whomever has the most wins.
During the game you have phases that you go through that the player order is determined by who controls the Iron Throne and the order of players that follow down the influence track (which is bid upon during “The Clash of Kings”.) You have the Westeros Phase” (skipped in round one), the Planning Phase and the Action Phase.
The Westeros Phase concludes advancing the game round maker, drawing Westeros cards which may have to be resolved and advancing the Wildlings track. You may have to deal with the Wildlings in which the players secretly bid an amount of power tokens to stop them. There is a consequence to the players who bid the least if the threat is not beaten.
The Planning Phase is where you assign orders (in secret by placing them upside down on the board) such as raids, marches, defense, consolidate power or support tokens. Raid tokens allow you to possibly interrupt another players token, hence messing up their plans and causing a bit of frustration. Always a fun tactic in a game like this. March tokens allow to advance on another players position or empty position for combat and taking over that territory if successful. Defense tokens are self-explanatory and help bolster your defense from attack from opposing players. Consolidate Power tokens allow you to gain power tokens for bidding later in the game or to muster units (armies) into an assigned area.
The Action Phase begins with resolving raid orders based on the order of players on the Iron Throne Track. All moves in this phase are based on this order. Note this means that if you have a five player game, then the first player resolves one order, then the second player etc… in order and comes back around to the first player if any tokens are left to be resolved. March orders are next, again one battle at a time per player and finally Consolidate Power tokens. Then you clean up the board making sure armies and tokens are removed from the board.
Combat is resolved by first a call for support. Here you may ask for a players support and they may or may not help you. They may decide to help the other player instead. This gives said player a bonus based on the support played. You then calculate strength of both sides and include the “Valyrian Steel Blade” token (explained later). Then you choose a “House Card” from your hand to help you with a strength bonus and hopefully a text that will hurt the opponent. This is then calculated as the Final Combat Strength. Combat resolution is: Determine the victor, casualties, retreating and routing and clean up.
During the game you will have the opportunity to silent bid on the three tracks when the “Clash of Kings” card appears during the Westeros phase. The first track is the Iron Throne Track which determines the order players go in and allows who ever holds this token the ability to break ties outside of combat. The Fiefdoms Track allows whomever holds the “Valyrian Steel Blade” to win all combat times and add +1 to their combat strength. This may only be used once per turn. The King’s Court Track determines the amount of special order tokens available to each player. It also allows the holder of the “Messenger Raven” token to change on of his or her orders that was placed before the action phase begins and the order tokens are revealed.
You also have ports and ships in the game. This allow for unit movements over large areas and ship to ship battles as well. An extremely important part of the game and critical to winning in my opinion if done right. Obviously House Greyjoy starts off strong in this type of unit.
The units in this game are Footman (1 unit each), Knights (2 units each), Ships (1 unit each) and Seige Engines (2 points each.) Based on your Supply Track on the board determines how many units and the size of each army allowed per house. Taking over territories with barrels in them and holding them when a “Mustering” card comes up will allow you to increase your army of force you to decrease in the case of having more units than you can support with food.
Strongholds are the larger castles that allow of two points of mustering and castles allow for 1 point of mustering. Again this happens when the “Mustering” card appears during the Westeros Phase. If you control enough territories with barrels then new units will appear at these places.
The alliances you form in this game are a major part of the game play. You can try and align with a player but beware as there are no rules to the players actually doing what is agreed to. They may be secretly plotting with someone else at the same time. While you may align with someone, you are never allowed to show hidden order tokens or silent bids. You also may not bribe anyone with power tokens, dominance tokens, cards or any other type of piece of the game. This part is all about trust and not for the weak of heat.
“I did warn you not to trust me.” – Littlefinger
There are other parts of the game that come into play such as Neutral Force or Garrison tokens. This stops you from just walking in someplace to take it over. You have to actually commit units to a battle to grab that territory.
In my opinion this is my favorite game of all time. The amount of political backstabbing, tension from the placing of orders and whether or not you just made a mistake based on alliances with other players provides so much atmosphere and incredible game play that is hard not to love. You don’t find that a lot in games these days.
Although there is a lot to it, the game is pretty easy to grasp after a couple of rounds. Don’t let the length of time dissuade you from trying it. It is well worth the time and money it costs ($59.95 retail). The theme is excellent, the game itself is well done in terms of art, components and rules.
I give it a 10 out 10 stars and highly recommend it to any board game fan and especially to Game of Thrones fans.
This review was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/a-game-of-thrones-2nd-ed-board-game-review/
Geek Eccentric Announces New Board Game Review Column
John Hattaway one of the founders of GeekEccentric.com is announcing the release of their new board game column (www.geekeccentric.com/
“Geek Eccentric is thrilled to have David Lowry come aboard as our table top gaming editor and look forward to the success of this feature. David’s series of articles will be an amazing addition to our lineup of original and unique geek content” says Hattaway
The column will be written by entertainment industry veteran David Lowry who is an admitted board game geek. David also writes for Metalholic Magazine (www.metalholic.com)
“I am very excited to write for Geek Eccentric! Being a board game fanatic for well over a decade, I get to write about one of my main passions and help build an awareness for a great hobby that is really taking off and help designers get their amazing work out there” remarks David Lowry of The Lowry Agency.
For press questions, board game reviews or interviews regarding Geek Eccentric and the board game column, please contact David Lowry at the information posted below.
The Lowry Agency is a full service artist management/development and promotions agency. Primarily they work with musicians, actors, speakers, voice over artists, entertainment companies as well as music coordination/
More information about The Lowry Agency can be found at http://www.thelowryagency.com.
Media inquiries for David Lowry:
The Lowry Agency
Contact: David Lowry
Read the press release here: http://www.prlog.org/12118958-geek-eccentric-announces-new-board-game-review-column.html
The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair…and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.
Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.
Praise for “Kushiel’s Dart” – “This brilliant and daring debut… catapults Carey immediately into the top rank of fantasy novelists…. an assured and magnificent book that will appeal to both male and female readers.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
October Montly Hangout for the Book of the Month “The Anubis Gates” by Tim Powers
Hosted by David Lowry, Ciara Ballintyne and Dionne Lister
About the Author
This months Google+ hangout featuring Dionne Lister, Ciara Ballintyne and David Lowry.
Book of the Month: The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Wine of the Month: Million $ Eyeful Cabernet Sauvignon by www.sortthisoutcellars.com