I’ve been milling over the idea of getting my GI Joe figures back in shape. The rubber o-rings that hold them together have decayed/snapped on many of them, so they are either way too loose to display, or they are in three pieces hanging out at the bottom of the storage tub I keep them in. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them after I get them back together, of course, but at least they will be fresh and ready or action.
New Comic Book Day pickups for September 04, 2019:
I haven’t read Spawn since the 90s, and I think I only have the first few issues at that. Three hundred issues is a monumental achievement for a title however, so I wanted to show some sort of appreciation for the milestone. I went with the 90s cover.
Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium 1:
I know next to nothing about the old Legion of Super-Heroes, but I know it’s set in the future and somehow has Superman/Superboy in it, so that’s good enough for me. This may have been a “Hype Train” purchase.
I spent most of the spring and summer collecting back issues from the 90s. I got hooked on the Death of Superman story, which Supergirl was a part. Now that I’m starting to read current monthlies again, I’ve added Supergirl to my pile. I still need to catch up on the last couple of issues, but I’m liking what I’ve read so far.
I’ve been reacquainting myself with the world of comics over the last few months. I got heavily into Kirby’s New Gods and Mister Miracle first. Then I discovered the current Hawkman title. Then I discovered the older Hawkman/Hawkworld titles. Then, well, you get the idea.
I’ve also discovered I have way more shop options than I thought. I’ve been going to the Fantasy Shop and places like Half Price Books and Slackers to find comics in my area. Turns out, I have two hardcore comic shops within five minutes of my house. Add to that another shop near the community center I work out at (when I get around to it), and I’m pretty flush with options. It’s been fun visiting each while I’ve been hunting down specific issues.
One thing I never took much interest in until now are comic shop dollar bins. When I started getting back into comics several years ago, my opinion on back issues was one of quality. If I were paying roughly $3 each for back issues, then I wanted the best version possible. Dollar bins were where you found the beat up, yellowed books no one wanted. It was a crap shoot if books were bagged and in any kind of order.
Back in March, one of the local stores held a fifty cent back issue tent sale. I debated going because of this prejudice toward the dollar bins. I was looking for a specific New Gods issue though, so at the last minute I veered off in the direction with the mindset of spending twenty minutes max there.
Well, I found the issue I was looking for. I also found another thirty or so books, including almost the entire run of Mister Miracle from the late 80s. For fifty cents each, I didn’t care what condition they were in.
After that day, the floodgates opened. I started hitting every shop to dig through their dollar bins. That’s where I found a lot of old Hawkman books, old Thor books, old books I knew about but had never read. It was a gold mine and I was surprised these books were just sitting here…for a dollar each.
It’s a lot of drudgery looking through the disorganized mess that comes with the dollar bins, but it’s been a hell of a good time finding diamonds in the rough. I’m even looking forward to upcoming conventions specifically for their dollar bins.
It hit me early on in this new appreciation for the dollar bins: this is originally how I began collecting comics, specifically back issues. I had an allowance of six dollars. If my local shop (RIP Comics, Card and More) had two of the same back issue, one at forty cents and one at a dollar (prices were different back then), I’d almost always choose the forty cent option so I could stretch my allowance. Quality didn’t matter, the story did.
So that’s what I’m doing now and why I think I love it so much. Not only am I getting decent quality books for the most part, but most importantly I’m getting more for my money. It’s to the point now where I’m going back and catching up on a lot of 90s titles I missed and have cancelled most of my current titles. Comic books are $3-$4 an issue now. That’s three or four dollar books (more if I catch a fifty cent sale). Why wouldn’t I be stoked for that kind of return?
I finished Gris this past weekend. It’s a beautiful game to look at and the soundtrack is one of the best I’ve heard in recent memory. The game itself was a little lacking, but with a playtime of maybe six hours, it never wore out its welcome.
What’s important here is that I finished Gris. I can’t say I’ve finished much of anything these days. I have stacks of books with bookmarks in them, piles of video games I’m dozens of hours into, and various canvases that are in different stages of progress. They all sit there, day after day, waiting to be completed. Meanwhile, I sit and watch YouTube or Twitch, which is really rich, given I’m watching people play and do the things I want to be doing.
This is all on me. When faced with infinite possibility of a free night where M goes to work and I can do what I want, I shrink back in my chair and do nothing more often than not. Or, when I do get motivated, I spend that time cleaning up around the house (which is ultimately time well spent).
So I finished Gris and now I want to keep finishing things. I want to get through the backlog of books and video games, or just get rid of them entirely. I want to start painting smaller canvases, one a week, and see it to completion. Hopefully by doing this I can feel like things are getting done, like I’m finally starting to finish things.
At the Gates of Loyang is one of my favorite games with a solo component. I’ve never actually played it at any other player count, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Uwe Rosenberg does a fantastic job of integrating solo mechanics in a lot of his games, and I’ve found At the Gates of Loyang’s solo game to be extremely satisfying.
At the Gates of Loyang is a trading game in which you are able to produce goods by planting them and later selling them to customers. You can use the abilities of some helpers to increase your income or production.
Fields, customers, helpers, and miscellaneous objects are represented by cards. Each player receives two of these cards per round distributed by a bidding/drawing mechanism in which you end up with one of the cards you draw and one of the cards of a public offer filled by all players. Additionally, to these cards you always receive one field for free each round.
Placing one good on a field fills the complete field with goods of this type. Each round, one unit per field is harvested. After planting, harvesting, and distributing cards, each player can use as many actions as he wants, only limited by the number of his cards or the number of goods he owns. At the end of his turn, he can invest the earned money on a scoring track, where early money is worth more than late money. The game ends after a certain number of rounds, and the player who is first on the scoring track wins.
Everything is tight in At the Gates of Loyang. Money is used not only to purchase resources, but also to ultimately move up the scoring track. Planting the correct resources and having enough of them to complete customer needs is crucial to getting more money. It’s one of the few games where I feel every decision counts and one wrong move means not being able to move up on the scoring track.
As with a lot of solo modes, the ultimate victory is beating your previous score. I find I can get to 15 pretty often, but 16 and higher is a real challenge. I find I’m just short of being able to move just one notch further.
I took a look back at my last play of At the Gates of Loyang and was surprised to find I hadn’t touched it since 2014. I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t have broken it out for roughly five years, but now that it’s hit the table again, I’d like to make it a point to play it at least once a month. I also want to finally try it with more players to see how that stacks up to the solo experience.