As the Xmas season gets ever near, I figured an offering of some of my favorite things that are easily obtained would be good filler for Thanksgiving week, from all across the board of esoterica covered on this page.
I love games. Some of my favorites are old, out-of-print, long play scenarios that limit regular sittings. That said, these are some of the best “beer and pretzel” games, those that are easily picked up, set up and played with no experience necessary:
- Family Business from Mayfair Games. Family Business is a simple card game of mob hits, influence and contracts. Up to six players take on specific real world mobster gangs with the winner being the last gang standing. Loads of fun and perfect for the lover of all things Roarin’ Twennies. Mayfair Games.
- Cards Against Humanity by Cards Against Humanity LLC. By now, everyone has at least heard of this game that’s not for the faint of heart. The base set is great, the expansions make it better and then there are ‘unofficial’ expansions from second-party publishers that make the game even more insane and mean. As many players as you want can sit at the table and play this adult variation of Apples to Apples for hours of >expletive deleted< amusement. Cards Against Humanity!
- Lunch Money from Atlas Games. Long before many of the card games that are known now came this repeat-play gem. Up to ten (or maybe more) players can sit down to play this simulation of schoolyard smackdown, essentially beating each other up for your lunch money. The set has one expansion to make things even crazier and there is a “grown up” version called Beer Money. To make things more interesting, the cards are weird, creepy and laugh-out-loud funny, with sayings and pictures that might disturb or intrigue. Atlas Games.
- Illuminati from Steve Jackson Games. With this card game, dive into a world of conspiracy, cheating and manipulation to become master of the world! This is another old favorite, and a little more advanced than the others listed. Money is used to manipulate or purchase organizations before your opponents, all of whom have specific goals to win. Many people can play this at once, especially if you’re using one or more of the expansion sets, but that might extend playtime from under an hour to over three. It is fun, though. Make sure you’re not picking up the collectible card game or the version called INWO, both of which are incompatible with the original, and the best. SJ Games.
Of course, don’t forget that our friends and supporters of the From the Hip Podcast, Geek Fever Games, are having a great Black Friday sale of all their tabletop games, which are wholeheartedly fun and enjoyable!
I also love comics, regardless of how I feel about most of the product from the biggest companies being published currently. That said, here are some great books still available from a variety of sources that should be read. Remember, support your Friendly Local Comic Store if you can, using THIS SITE to find one, if you can’t.
- Knights of the Dinner Table from KenzerCo. KoDT, as it is known, is the longest-running comic book or magazine on gaming currently being published. It’s a guffaw inducing farce of epic proportions, and a must-have by all gamers. The comic is reprinted in volumes called Bundles of Trouble while the ongoing comic magazine is released monthly. Find them all here! Kenzer & Co.
- Atomic Robo from Red 5 (now from IDW). Atomic Robo reminds me of what Hellboy might be if it were more science fiction than it is. Imagine Nikolai Tesla created a robot that gained sentience, went on adventures and eventually became the head of his own hi-tech science company and think tank. Well written, well drawn and amazingly plotted, it’s hard not to recommend this series that jumps all over Robo’s history of existence. All the series are available in trade paperback format and well worth the money spent. Current Robo series or older series.
- Infinite Kung-Fu from Top Shelf. When this book was originally published in standard comic format, it went unfinished as the creator found himself becoming more in demand as an artist for larger publications. A few years ago, it was completed and published by Top Shelf in a beautiful large trade paperback, pleasing this fan to no end. Infinite Kung-Fu is the weirdest mixtape of 70’s martial arts action movies, zombie tales, horror stories and post-apocalyptic road flicks done as a comic that you’ll ever find. The art is unique and wonderful to behold and you’ll want more when it’s all over and done. Get it. Top Shelf.
- Transformers from IDW. I had to add this. As a hardcore fan of the original Transformers cartoons, I read every single comic published I could get my hands on from the day they were released. The Transformers shifted from publisher to publisher while their popularity waxed and waned, finally landing at IDW over a decade ago. IDW slowly built up their own take on the Generation 1 Transformers tale, to where they have three concurrently running monthly series. All of the previous series have been collected in trade form, right up to the current titles, of which are the best of the bunch. Just know that by the time you get to All Hail Megatron, all bets are off. Who needs humans to make the characters any better than they are? Excellent sci-fi! IDW Publishing.
Of course, there are great books still being reprinted at Marvel and DC, as well as Archie, Image, Oni Press and Dark Horse, but recommending them all would take years. Shop smart, shop… well, you know where.