Sunday, March 30, 2008

Carriers at War


Early Morning, June 4th, 1942

Seaplanes fill the air.

8:40 A seaplane from Midway spots a Japanese carrier group, a heavy and light carrier escorted by an unknown number of cruisers and destroyers, but is this the main group that US codebreakers have been warned about?


Midway command thinks so, for the next 20 minutes the Japanese TF comes under air attack. Heavy fighter cover and AA claims a heavy toll, the CAP accounts for 14 kills and 7 damaged, the AA damages 4 before the US fighters disengage, without a single successful strike.


A Search plane from Zuiho has detected a large US carrier force, 4 carriers. A strike is debated, but there is no way that the planes would arrive before sundown, and the smaller northern force cannot risk its air assets in a dusk strike, and even more dangerous, a nighttime landing.

June 5th


Dawn brings a strike at the Jap seaplane force anchored at Neva shoal....but not before the US carriers are revealed. Nagumo makes a fateful decision, to launch his full strike from the southern carrier force, but at 420nm it would remove 70 dive bombers to wait for his planes to form up, it will not be a cohesive strike.


Just as planes are leaving the Jap main striking force to the south and east of midway, a searchplane is spotted overhead. But it is too late to recall the fighters for CAP duty, the entire strike has been sent to attack the US Carrier force.


The Jap bombardment force, has snuck past the patrols, Midway is under fire, and the carriers Saratoga and Wasp are under attack, with planes on deck! Nimitz is obviously preparing to strike Nagumo's main force.


Yorktown is also attacked, but its planes are up, taking a toll on the strike. At the worst possible time, Jap planes spot Hornet and Enterprise, bombs away! Wasp and Saratoga soon fall victim as well.

The toll, 21 planes downed, 29 damaged...but in return, 3 hits on Saratoga(presumed sunk), 1 on Hornet(burning), the CA Indianapolis also took a hit, but was still under control. Wasp and Enterprise both take 3 hits, and Yorktown takes 4, all three are presumed sunk by the Nagumo's pilots.

The Bombardment force however does not escape unscathed, by 14:45 the Mogami is sunk and all cruiser are damaged, with Suzuya on fire.

Near dusk a strike from the northern striking force reserve goes in. No American carriers are observed still afloat.

June 6

Dawn brings new sightings by the Northern force, now NNE of Midway, only 280nm from American battleships trying to flee.

Confident that the US carriers destroyed, Nagumo launches a full strike against midway from the SE, near Raita bank to relieve the pressure from the invasion force.


A full strike by the Northern force hits home, savaging the American cruisers and destroyers.

June 7

It's all over except the cleanup. The invasion force ships have taken a mauling, but Nagumo takes his carrier striking force in to support them with fighters from his carriers. And before the day is over, Midway is denuded of fighters, and Jap marines are supported by heavy air cover.

After The Battle

Intelligence for the IJN reports 20 US ships sunk.

9 CA – Pensacola, New Orleans, Vincennes, Minneapolis, Portland, San Fransisco, Salt Lake City, Chester, Augusta.

3 DD – Anderson, Clark, Plunkett

1 BB – South Dakota

2 AV – Thornton and Ballard

5 CV – Enterprise, Hornet, Yorktown, Saratoga, and Wasp

They also report 293 Naval Aircraft destroyed along with 111 land aircraft

The IJN has lost 11 ships

4 CA – Mogami, Mikuma, Cuzukya, Kumano

4 TR

1 DD – Hayashio

2 AV

Carrier casualties include 101 Naval Aircraft lost, most in that first disorganized strike that eliminated the US carriers.

For another 2 years, the IJN will reign supreme with air superiority over the Pacific until the Essex class carriers come on line. Nagumo, with Midway behind him, now sets his sights on Pearl, and nothing is going to stop him.

Or that's how it could have gone.

Carriers at War published by Matrix games, this naval simulation recreates the major naval battles of the Pacific theater of war, with plenty of variants and possibilities, it's enough to keep you well entertained. The above AAR was from a random Midway variant, giving the US a substantially larger carrier force than was historically present. Of course, it didn't do them that much good.

The look is very much old school, but pleasant, I'm reminded of a real time version of PTO, except on a more intimate scale. There's no production here, just your carriers and the enemy, and a whole lot of ships, bombs, and torpedoes with somebody's name on it.

The first principle of carrier warfare, is to get in the first strike, as hard as you can with as much as you can before they strike back. And that's apparent in this game, a lucky search plane can turn the tide of the battle, and don't think that all the battles come out as easy as this particular AAR. I actually played through twice, the first time forgetting to take screenshots(Doh!), the first time came out much closer, with an American carrier strike launched at my main carrier force at about the same time as I launched, leaving me with 4 of my 5 large carriers sunk, and further air operations reliant on my light carriers in the northern force.

This is a game where minutes count, and wisely they have a 5 minute count option, not to mention uninterrupted running for the long nights. So I have to say that the AI is adequate, make a mistake and let your carriers come too close without a CAP and expect to get slaughtered, because even a minor mistake that costs you a carrier can turn the battle. On the other hand, don't expect any dazzling tactics from the AI, it strikes hard, and strikes fast, but has a bit of tunnel vision, going after the enemy it can see instead of the enemy it knows should be out there.

Playability, well it's not a very steep learning curve in my opinion. The controls are very intuitive, left click to select, right to order a move, or else select an option from the dropdown menu. Your options are a bit limited by the scale, and that's good for the most part, since you don't have to worry about the minor details. In fact the best way to learn is to play through a game or two. Set your search rosettes, order about your task forces, and learn the value of cloud cover and a CAP(combat air patrol) the first time an enemy strike blasts your carriers out of the water. Or if you're lucky, you can deliberate over the difficult choice of striking as soon as you spot an enemy force, or waiting to get closer(at extended range your planes will have only a fraction of their maximum payload). To leave your planes below decks until the strike, or to arm them beforehand and leave thousands of tons of live ordnance up on your decks for an enemy strike to ignite. To send your fighters in armed with bombs or to have them fly escort. To take the time that you may not have and send them in as a cohesive strike, or let them fend for themselves, winging their way towards destruction as soon as they clear the decks? Once you send your strike off to that suspected enemy contact all you can do is hope and pray, as your brave little simulated pilots dive towards victory or death. Once there your pilots will select their own targets and report back(which can either be accurate or not depending on your options) on their suspected kills. But be warned, I've lost more than one game to an enemy carrier force that I thought sunk, so it's up to you to try and get your ships back under cover of a squall or storm while your planes rearm.

On the other hand, this abstraction and hands off approach does have a few downsides. Your surface fleet fights in much the same way, you tell your fleet elements to get closer or further away and select a main group of targets for their guns and that's it. You get a few seconds of explosions and that's it. This however, doesn't happen that often to begin with, so it might be forgiven, the only time I actually had a surface engagement was when my ships and the enemy's tried to use the same squall as cover during the night and more or less ran into each other. Other times one side or the other would usually see the odds and be able to retreat.

Also, your taskgroups are relatively fixed, you can dispatch a ship to retreat or scuttle it, but other than that you are unable to split or combine TG's. Something which is especially useful as Japan who tend to have all their carriers in a single large TG, making it very vulnerable, whereas until the late war the US nearly had a TG for every carrier, making it a bit slow to coordinate strikes. Of course, in my opinion this can be forgiven due to the creator's wish to avoid ahistorical hindsight tactics, but it still would have been a nice feature.

In addition, you'll eventually get tired of the same plane attacking random ship/plane shot down by CAP/AA, and ship showing damage(signified by a fire and estimation of its health) animations, and be ready to just see the results. So be warned that this isn't a showy game. Speaking of planes, I would have liked a little more detail on the search plane routes, the rosette is user friendly, but I wouldn't have minded being able to modify the standard search pattern or order additional planes out. And part of the abstraction is the need for your carriers to more or less stay in one place once planes are launched, I seem to recall the Japanese coordinating rendezvous points so that their carriers didn't have to remain stationary(correct me if I'm wrong however, since this is from half remembered history courses taken awhile back). So the ability to estimate and place a landing/retrieval point would have been nice.

Another thing that history doesn't exactly give us, is balance. There are playing one side or another will be decidedly easier depending on the scenario, shifting from Japan to the US respectively. Though the variants do a good job at providing alternate orders of battle(Playing as the US at Midway in the historical scenario for example or as Japan in the Philippine Sea scenarios, you realize how desperate the situation can be, outnumbered, outgunned and outpositioned, but not out of the fight). Fortunately, it ships with a very functional editor, and if you wish you could create scenarios to your heart's content.

The one thing I would have liked, is a way to tie the scenarios together in a campaign. Though I'm sure that'd be difficult given how ahistorical things can get if one side gets in a lucky strike. Imagine the US carriers wiped out at Pearl, the entire war would have changed, not just the order of battle for the next mission. So I can understand why it's presented the way it is, with the main battles(Though conspicuous in it's absence is Leyte Gulf, which is surprising, it would have been interesting to replay the harrowing trial of Taffy 3) and variant scenarios.

Now, the pricetag, at about $50 I found it a bit on the pricey side. For $50 you can get a new cutting edge, graphics out the wazoo, computer game, or an epic, down to the last faulty instrument panel on that plane sort of game, and this isn't an epic, battles usually take between half an hour to an hour if you play like I do, but it does what it needs to. Provide some real good edge of your seat tension, which is all too often missing from a strategic wargame. This feels like a beer and chips game, one that you don't have to devote a whole night playing, and it doesn't require a degree in logistics and a MENSA membership to enjoy the heck out of it.

The question however, is it worth the money when other independent games usually tend to run about twenty bucks less. Well, when I first started playing and realized the limits to my options I was almost ready to say no, but then I kept playing, and kept playing, and kept playing. I was hooked, an hour free here, an hour free there, in fact I was even dreaming about search rosettes and torpedo strikes for a few days! And now after a week or so of buying it, I'm convinced that I got my money's worth, because I know I'm going to keep on playing. I do feel that a more detail oriented grognard may be disappointed, but if you want a fun carrier game that doesn't take forever, then this is a good buy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Linkfest 4

This time the focus is on what we've been watching, our favorite time wasters of the hour/day/week that we've stumbled upon. Thank youtube for stealing away hours of potential work, of course, some of it really is pretty cool.

Lets start off with two from blinky500, I'm Powergirl Dammit! Now if that isn't the perfect Powergirl then I don't know what is. And I have to say, the music choice really ties the whole little skit together. Well, if you can tear your eyes away from the trademark cleavage hole....hmmmmm(by the way, check out the bloopers for Bizzaro tapdancing). Also, as you all know, I've a soft spot for minions and henchmen for their uncelebrated daily labors for evil overlords, masterminds, and villains of all sorts. I see Henchmen as a celebration of these symbols of the working man, or woman, or serpent person.

A classic but a goodie, from Songs of Couch and Consultation, The Will To Fail by Katie Lee. I'm sure we all have someone in our lives that this will relate to, on one level or another.

Speaking of such, The Guild is one web humor series that calls out to your inner gaming addict. Funny and intelligent, despite having to wade through all the usual gaming cliches, it just keeps on getting better. Take your stereotypical net group dynamic, add in a dash of neuroses and a sprinkling of miscommunication and you get one dysfunctional group of gamer geeks trying to get through the dangers of RL(not to mention the dangers of using a ;) instead of a :) when you make smiley faces. Otherwise you might just end up with a gnome on your doorstep that won't go away...gnomes....)

Of course, after all the failure from the above, you might be getting ready to make a noose out of that ethernet cord...fortunately according to one geeky gaming redhead at least, nerds are sexy. Though, we here at Maniacal Laughter object heartily to the claims of a hero complex....a villain complex on the other hand. When you can sling a hostage over your shoulder and scream out random obscenities, while laughing at the top of your lungs...that's when you know you've hit the big league. (Ever notice that even villains that aren't especially known for physical prowess are able to pull off a flawless over the shoulder hostage carry? Which is even more impressive when you realize that so few of them employ the fireman's carry, all that hostage meat is over one shoulder, it's amazing I tell you! Amazing! Or else I'm just analyzing this way too deeply)

I know it might be a bit behind the times, but if you haven't seen it already, let me tell you, Dinosaurs Rock! But if you don't have enough rock in your life even with that, then let me add this. Gun Music, I challenge you to listen to it, and not succumb to the temptation to headbang or do some airdrum motions(Air gun motions?)

Oh, and this is a little gem. Street Fighter: The Later Years. Whatever happened to the fighters after the tournament? Being a world fighter doesn't include many life skills.

That's all for now. Next linkfest theme will likely be either Pulp or Steampunk, anyone have a vote on what they want?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How To Host A Dungeon

Recently I stumbled upon this page on Making Dungeons. Which contains rules on How To Host A Dungeon, taking one from the Primordial soup to the Age of Villainy. Since this was such a neat premise I had to play a run through. Any confusion with the rules is probably my own fault, and I know that I made some errors that if I were to have another go at it I would be able to avoid, but it turned out pretty neat. Though one thing that bothered me was that, given how I rolled in the Primordial age, there were no pockets of gold or ore for the latter ages and that really made my dungeon rather wealth poor.

Anyways, here's my notes from the playthrough, along with pictures.

In the beginning were the Drow. The initial set-up had given the dungeon an underground river, a volcano to the left side, and a set of three monster ridden caverns in the center. The caverns contained a slime, a gelatinous cube, and a troll, eventually the troll would end up as the only one alive(the others killing each other off). The Drow expanded, but due to the lack of any real resources(no gold, gems, or mithril had been rolled) there was little actual activity. They reached the surface with little fanfare, only to be wiped out by the human kingdoms, and thus ended the age of Drow. (I wasn't sure if I needed to roll a disaster or not here)

The Age of Monsters

A castle is founded in the west and begin farming, in the east a set of human miners stumble upon the old drow shaft and begin to shore it up. In the old monster caverns an ant colony takes root and begins to breed. Finally, in a natural cavern formed by the underground river a ogre takes up residence, but soon must depart to search for food.

Year two is much the same. More farms for the castle, the miners dig deeper, the ants breed and send out a tunnel to the east. The Ogre eats whatever was left over in the Drow dungeons, and a Xorn arrives in a empty natural cave near the river.

Year three begins with Gnolls taking up residence near the old Drow Statuary hall. The castle inhabitants continue to breed and the miners continue along the old drow shaft. The ants breed, the ogre consumes its own loot, and the Xorn wanders. (It was rather far from any other caverns or rooms so I didn't know if the rules meant for it to be lost in the tunnels or establish another cavern where it ended up as it headed towards food. I assumed it just stayed in the tunnel).

Year four. Things get interesting. A group of 4 Lawful adventurers decide to brave the caverns, of course the only accessible area is the Mining camp.(The rules don't state whether the human miners are lawful or chaotic, but I assumed that they'd be lawful, also, the rules of the adventuring group don't specify how far they can move each turn. Do they go until they run out of people or finish their mission? That's what I assumed for this play. Again, no option for if the group hasn't encountered any others, they can't exactly send the adventurers off on a quest to fight nothing). The adventurers eliminate the fledgling gnoll colony, and fight the ogre to a standstill, unfortunately it seems that the xorn are too much of a challenge, their bones and treasure mark the spot(I created a cavern at the spot to mark their last hurrah, otherwise I don't really know where I would have put the treasure, my earlier decision to leave the xorn just sitting in the tunnel comes back to haunt me.) After the fall of the adventurers, the city builds some dungeons, the minders dig deeper, the ants end up at their maximum breeding capacity, the ogre finds treasure, and the xorn eats some treasure.

Year Five. Another adventure group arrives, this time 4 chaotic adventurers(my die seemed to like 6 this turn). The human miners are all eliminated with the loss of a single adventurer(again, both rolled 6's). But when the ogre is encountered, they're massacred. The castle is also able to send a group of adventurers down into the depths, hurrah! They find nothing and thus return to found a city instead. The Ant colony comes into conflict with the Xorn, since they can't bribe, instead they handily loot its treasure. The Xorn are then pushed back. The Ogre loots the last of the Drow treasures.

Year Six. Wandering monsters arrive! A Giant Spider, a Gelatinous Cube(affectionately labeled as Jelly Cube), and a Roper enter into the fray. The humans breed. The ants breed and steal the roper's loot. The Xorn then kills the Roper and takes over its lair. The ogre then eats the giant spider. Jelly survives deep in the underdark and does nothing.

Year Seven. Three lawful adventurers enter the dungeons. They kill the ogre handily and take its loot. They kill Jelly, it has no loot. They kill the Xorn, it has no loot. Amazingly successful adventuring party, they return to the surface with their loot! Two of the loot disappear into the heroes pockets, and two go to the improvement of the city and castle. The city sends a group to adventure as well....which returns empty handed after clearing the dungeons of rats. But they do found a wizard's tower(pyramid). The ants breed....everything else has been wiped out by adventurers.

Year 8. The Statuary hall and environs have a new special feature. They're now haunted by the ghost of the Ogre that was slain last year...or at least that's what I think. The Castlegoers again send down an expedition....which brings back nothing, but does found a new university, and ushers in the age of villainy.

Age of Villainy

Twisted by researches into things that MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO KNOW(pyramid power?). The occupant of the Wizard's Tower(pyramid) begins to cackle, the Dungeon Master has arrived. Expanding into the depths, he builds himself a nice hall, recruits minions and builds a barracks for them. The ants and humans breed. Adventurers arrive and due to the Dungeon Master's minions being inept and incompetent(rolling 1's does not help the cause, I can only imagine that the DM stepped into his own vat of shark filled acid), quickly dispatch the villain. And thus ends the age of villainy.

All in all, a really interesting and fun little tool. Obviously I made it in a paint program since I don't have any sketching paper, but I think it came out pretty well. It would probably be a lot easier if I did just sketch it out, since the I had to mentally grid it off to imagine where the die 'fell' by rolling to find the grid point. Also, there were some things that I felt were really neat, yet didn't get much of a chance to shine, I almost went through the whole game without a special feature showing up. Another thing was that only certain groups tunneled, others might get stuck in separate areas without access to their prey or loot source, related to this was a comment in the rules to build new rooms as necessary for the colonies, but I couldn't exactly find where it told us when it was necessary. The adventurers from the city had troubles as well since their basement never connected up to any of the main cave complexes, and conversely none of the monster groups were within their range. But as I said, it was quite interesting, just watching the evolution of my dungeon ecology was really neat, and it's definitely giving me ideas for the next cavern complex any stalwart(or stupid) band of adventurers might run through.

Anyways, head over there and check it out, for a fun little solo game or a useful DM's tool, whichever your pick.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Land of Mist and Snow

Take one part Frankenstein, one part Lovecraftian horror, a dollop of Moby Dick, and a dose of Horatio Hornblower, and set it all during the US Civil War, and you might get something like this. The premise is more exciting than the story itself, a demon raider prowls the shipping lanes as a US naval ship built to mystical specifications launches to sink her.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, it lacks in the execution. The plot and characters are predictable, and the diary format, while it allows for different points of view, just doesn't convey the emotions and urgency of the scenes. In fact there are several characters that blur together due to this, as the writing is similar enough that you have to look closely to see who is actually being represented. Though a I ended up using this little cheat, if they believed strongly in freedom, it was one of the main characters, if not, then they're likely going to die.

We start out with our eager Ishmael/Hornblower character in Nevis, and our Frankenstein/Herbert West/Ahab in Captain Sharp. Who harnesses a spirit to guide their ship in the search for their Confederate counterpart(which runs on blood sacrifice), all the while quelling dissent by slowly but steadily turning the crew into zombies. The romantic subplot with Miss Abrams and Lt. Nevis is, well, you can tell the due course of that from the moment they meet, the foreshadowing is beaten into your head with a stick. And the rest of the cast are more or less, forgettable. The climax is more anticlimactic, and we have a typical all lived happily ever after ending, which I found quite disappointing.

On the other hand, it does have some interesting naval action, though more or less lopsided due to the nature of the ship. And it moves at a pretty fast pace, due perhaps to the fact that they skip ahead with the diary entries quite a bit. But really, that isn't much to recommend it. Personally, I'd say to save yourself the cash and pass this one by, it looks a lot more exciting than it really is.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Shaintar: Immortal Legends

Shaintar was something I've had my eye on for some time, and when the GM's Day sale started up I had no excuses left not to buy it. Published by Talisman Studios and written by Sean Patrick Fannon, one of the first things you realize when you open it up, is that this is a project that they cared about.

The art is beautiful, and the writing is crisp and interesting. One thing I especially want to point out is the "GM to GM" sections, which is something that I'd love to see in every game book. Something that's very simple, and yet so useful in getting into the mind of what the writer was thinking or trying for. With over 250 pages, for a SETTING book, you know you're getting a lot for your value, and it doesn't disappoint. Setting specific flavorful gear and classes right along with the more traditional fantasy tropes, one almost feels as if those hundred of pages aren't enough for what they put in, not to mention the wonderful art that is sprinkled throughout the pages(it actually feels more professional than the core Savage Worlds book).

Of course, the majority is taken up by the latter sections, the plot point campaign and a list of sample encounters. I call it a list because that's what it is, it has something that I really feel that any GM would appreciate, samples of the characters/monsters presented at three levels, a regular version, an advanced version, and an elite version. A lack of interchangeability has always bothered me in the more traditional RPGs*coughdndcough* in that adventures are designed for a certain level of character and it's quite hard to adjust that, whereas an inability to judge what will be a challenge without a being an execution squad is an adjustment that Savage World GMs have to make. The little guide they present and levels of challenge provide a very useful tool for making your own adventures, or repopulating theirs as you see fit for a larger or smaller party.

The plot point campaign and assorted adventure hooks promise to quickly pull the adventurers into all sorts of world shattering events. Again, the GM to GM sections shine through here. With references to the Cajun flavor of a certain group of elves sticking out in my mind, and in another adventure you've got a familiar Hatfield and McCoy type feud. Also included is the MACs, which is a pretty comprehensive adventure generator, for when you need to toss something together without much prep.

If this was a regular book, the review would stop here, but it's not. Because it's an RPG and setting book it has to be functional. That's something I demand, and something that I'm sorry to say Shaintar has some problems with, because with quality like it has, I want to like it. First and foremost is the Table of Contents, sharing half a page with other information and easily overlooked, it's definitely lacking.If I wanted to find a specific adventure or encounter, I would need to possibly page through nearly a hundred pages of densely packed information. On a similar vein is that some sections are oddly organized, information on the Arcane powers for example, there's actually a section on arcane powers in Shaintar, which lists some of the background and trappings, yet says that I'd need to look under the professional edges, which has me flipping through pages to find them as well, and once I get there they mention needing skills associated with the magic, but each magic has a different skill and these are not mentioned in the "skills in Shaintar" section, which I would have found useful. Actually, come to think of it, an expanded Table of Contents would be good, but bookmarks would be ideal. (Edit: A little update, the new version of the download includes a well organized bookmarks page, and thus resolved the major issues with navigating the document.) Also, near the end of the book is the full color map, in print it might be perfect, but on my screen it's small and the detail could be improved. I was nose to the screen to read some of the city names there, and since much of the plot points and adventures are in a relatively smaller area, a regional map would have been nice, even if it was just a black and white sketch(if there was one somewhere, which is possible with 260 or so pages, then I couldn't find it). A final little quibble is the download, instead of having both the print friendly and full version in a little zip file, they're presented as separate downloads, it's something to look out for and make sure you have both versions when you get it.

Now on the gripping hand, Shaintar has something that you aren't going to get with every RPG you get, a very active and accessible creator. It's not hard at all to get in touch with questions, not to mention additional information supplements. It's a living creation, and the gaps at the edges of the map with "here be monsters" are being filled in. And with a very helpful community, I'm hopeful that someone or another is eventually going to at least come out with crib notes that will keep me from going crazy searching for things while trying to run a game.

Paying for a fantasy setting book when there are so many free conversions on the internet may be controversial, but if you get it, then you aren't going to be disappointed, and as mentioned before, it's a lot of book for the price. It isn't without its flaws, but I don't want to give the impression that they overshadow the meat of the product, and with the active community, many of those flaws are likely to be patched up. This isn't a must have, but if you are going to run Savage Worlds games in a fantasy setting this provides a vibrant, living world for your players to adventure in.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Top 5: Geeky celebrity crushes

Well, one looks around at the advice to get a few cheap pageviews. Either I need to learn how to draw, devote more hours of my day, or else post some pictures of pretty women. Being lazy as I am, not to mention artistically challenged, I chose the latter.

Of course this being a very geeky blog, sexy isn't enough to cut it. Quirky, funny, smart, or just plain icons all contributed to my decision. Note that it was entirely non-scientific, not to mention opinionated and not insured to be the same next year, or even next month, but, well, here it is, the top 5 actresses for the modern geek.

#5 Claudia Christian

Best known as Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5. For those that have been deprived of seeing Babylon 5, I think the video should be a good example of why she's included on this list. While we haven't seen her in much recently, she was once shot by a man in a tribble suit and lived to tell about it, that is all.

4. Jewel Staite

Kaylee Frye from Firefly and Serenity. How can you say no to that? Playing a shy, engineer more at home with a spaceship than a ball, yet still yearning to have that one big dream of love. How can you not love that? She's now also guest starring in Stargate Atlantis, which is pretty awesome to hear, we need to see more of her.

3. Ellen Muth

Played Georgia "George" Lass in Dead Like Me, a role filled with deadpan(pun intended) snark and comedy, my only question is why she isn't in more. You can also find her voicing the daughter in Tofu the Vegan Zombie. Also the first blond on the list, but you can almost tell just from seeing her pictures that she'd be a blast to hang out with. Not to mention that according to her wiki she's a member of Mensa, so that definitly fulfills the smart requirement.

2. Kate Micucci

First of all, she's wearing a wolf on her head, how cool is that! Secondly, she makes some really amazing Sandcastles. Third, she's rocking the ukelele, which I just have to say is really impressive. But with that big eyed, dark haired look, I couldn't help but thinking when I first saw her that she was Audrey Hepburn reborn, with the added bonus of being hilarious. So far she hasn't really had a starring role to herself, this I find simply....unacceptable. Hopefully her future will hold more than guest starring on canceled sitcoms, or at least that's what I'm crossing my fingers for.


1. Zooey Deschanel

DG in the Sci-Fi channel movie Tin Man, Trillian in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, how much more geek cred do you need? Another big eyed, dark haired beauty(if you haven't noticed the trend so far) full of nervous energy and exuberance. She's been cast in the quirky/crazy roles we love to see, and fills the part perfectly. Not to mention singing in a jazz cabaret act, which is just plain neat. Fortunately it seems that her career is going well and we will be seeing more of her in years to come.

But that's not all! In addition to these top 5, I thought it would be nice to have two honorable mentions from the amature section. People to keep an eye on, if only for the eye candy. ;) First off, Ysabellabrave deserves a mention. Listen to a few songs, a few skits, and you can see why. The other one that I'm going to point out is Shayna aka Zendulo whose videos are just, as they say, full of win.

So what do you all think? Agree, disagree, have your own top 5 choices? Feel free to go ahead and post a reply.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Linkfest 3

Tricksters, that's what todays linkfest will focus on.

To start off with we have the folks from a bunch of pranksters who show that mad science is fun. Not to mention obsessive compulsive disorders which force you to measure and document how much is inside things. If nothing else you might answer that burning question to how long a line of cheese wiz is inside that can.

Next up is Improv Everywhere a bunch of people who, well, cause scenes. But in a positive way, and I think one that they should be lauded for. Such pranks as bringing desktops to Starbucks, city tours in a fountain, and impersonating U2 to give a free concert, just to name a few examples. My favorite mission is the Moebius strip.

Thirdly, we have American Gods by Neil Gaiman which is now up online as a free e-book. Without giving too much away if you haven't read it(and if you haven't, what are you waiting for, go, read), tricksters, con men, and slight of hand galore fill this story. A full review is for another time, but suffice to say that it's one of the best world as myth yarns in our day.

Of course, once our tricks run out and we have to head for the road...why not do it in style? Check out this list of the Ten Best Post-Apocalyptic Survival Vehicles and start preparing for the zombocalypse today! It's got some good advice and solid points....Though I personally might not agree with all their choices. Dammit! To my undeath I'll fight for my right to keep and bear M1A2 Abrams for home defense against zombies. Well, I can't exactly bear it, operate it maybe, but it's better than nothing.

Finally, we get some good advice from Sam, the resident trickster of the webcomic Freefall. Big archive, but very funny, definitly worth checking out.

As an aside that doesn't fit the theme. This deserves a link through good comic, funny person, bad luck. Now I'm not trying to force anything, but the comics are worth a read, and probably a few bucks tossed into the donation jar.

Now, a little status report. March is looking to be a busy month, but significantly less so than the last one, hopefully the updates will stabilize and we can get rolling on some good stuff. As always, feel free to comment and I'll talk at y'all next time.