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Archive for April, 2017

GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet – The Tactical Application of Turtles

April 27th saw the second GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet, our very own slice of the joyous Bristol Meet.

I think it’s safe to say that the Shrewsbury Meet has a future, as another month goes by with familiar friends and new faces. It’s satisfying to know that both of our GeekOut Meets in Shrewsbury we have brought together new nerds who may never have met otherwise, getting people into games they may never have played otherwise, discovering some new aspect of geek culture, and in our own strange way creating our own.

How exactly would one weaponize turtles? Best we can manage is mechanisation but we’re fairly sure that mechanised war-turtles exist in some capacity. (more…)


Top 10 Collectables

GeekOut Top 10s

This time, we’re gathering up every thought we could think of, to create a collection of… Well, collectables. Because of just how broad the collectables collective truly is, we decided to limit these collectables, based on two major criteria. A collectable to be considered for this list needs to either be:

  • A vast range of different things to get.
  • Something you get lots of to get something special in return.

As such, we’re not going to accept really vague collectables, or objects that are put in game with no big reward. We considered just about everything we could think of, from video games, physical mediums, literature, tv series, films – You named it, we’ve thought about it. These are the Top 10 Collectables within geekdom, but this is such a broad subject, get your typing fingers ready, as you’ll likely know of one we totally forgot!


Top 10

10) Rings – Sonic the Hedgehog

Were you expecting to see the Chaos Emeralds here? Hah, you would have been sort of right anyway. You see, rings act as a sort of life indicator for Sonic. As long as he has one ring in his possession, he doesn’t need to worry about being hit so much. He can be hit with freaking missiles and those rings will protect him. In the Casino Nights Zone, you can spend these in the slot machines. Furthermore, collect one hundred of these shiny objects and Sonic gets an extra life (as well as quickly needing another ring!)

However, whilst they give score, health and even extra lives, it’s when you collect ALL of the Chaos Emeralds that things get truly interesting. The power of the Chaos Emeralds send Sonic into a Super Sonic state, but at the cost of rings. Starting from 50 rings, Sonic gets faster, becomes invincible and gets to be a bright yellow colour, just like the Saiyans of DragonBall. Just like them indeed…

9) Cards – Trading Card Games

Less a collection, more an addiction. Whatever your chosen game there’s always a new set, a new pack, a new deck to build, some new mechanic to exploit. And it’s amazing how quickly the odd booster becomes a quick box every now and again, and a bedroom becomes a shrine to cardboard.

Be it Magic: the Gathering, Pokémon, Weiss and Schwartz, YuGiOh, or any of the other thousands of CCGs there’s a collection for everyone, ready and waiting to capitalise on your capital. Mercifully they’re moving into an increasingly digital format, with Mojang’s Scrolls, Blizzard’s Hearthstone, CD Projekt’s Gwent. It may surprise you how much space little slivers of cardboard can occupy, but the digital copies are no cheaper.

8) Djinn – Golden Sun Franchise

It’s weird to think of collecting spirits of the planets as a collectable, but clearly they are collectables. There’s so many of these blighters, that getting all of them is pretty impressive. Through three main series games, Isaac’s team, Felix’s team or Matthew’s team will collect Djinn, learn the power of the elements and become powerful adepts.

The Djinn do powerful as all hell attacks, but usually at the cost of your stats and class. Sometimes you have to battle one to get it to join you, other times you have to do a relatively complex puzzle. Sometimes still, you have to beat optional bosses including a Superboss that many consider to be one of the hardest in any RPG. They are there for you to collect, they make bigger and more powerful summons as the game goes on and they look awesome when you summon them.

7) Comic Books

Here’s the geeky classic. Shops in forgotten alleys filled with boxes upon boxes of back issues, diehards trawling through each and every one looking for that missing copy to complete the story, pick out some unique cover by a particular artist, or the occasional rare comic worth a small fortune to the right man, to be squirrelled away and treated with the same reverence as one might treat the original Magna Carta.

The world of comics is enormous, stories written and rewritten, major universe events, characters coming and going, and all the big companies produce limited runs and collector’s editions for special moments, with alternative cover art. The value of a rare items is incredible, magnified tremendously by an autograph, so it’s little wonder that people are so keen to hunt down anything they can find, just in case.

6) Minifigures – Lego

Though it’s an awesome toy – without question the best construction toy on the market as testified by its use in industry – you’d never really consider Lego a collectable item. There are sets that can be completed; film, television, and video game based sets; but nothing that one might obsessively gather in a feverish need to complete the collection as a whole. But the minifigures bear all the hallmarks of a classic collection.

Starting in 2010, series one of the minifigures feature such simple but fun characters as cavemen, zombies, and crash-test dummies. Series seventeen will star dwarf berserker, 80’s yuppie and man-on-the-cob. They’re certainly not running out of ideas any time soon, and even better this Lego collectible can be mixed and matched better than any other on this list.

5) Pogs

C’mon 90s boys and girls, you know it and I know it. These things drove parents mad, made collectors even more mad and people didn’t know what to do about them. Everything you loved from the 90s became a Pog! From Pokémon, through to famous bands, there was a Pog for everyone of every interest. There were whole board games which took the Pog craze and made them even bigger.

Naturally, that left Pogs as a sort of a strange collectable from the 90s. It wasn’t because the official Pog game was any good, that was just using a slammer to slam into Pogs and then playing pick up afterwards. Instead, Pogs mainly became collectable, an intrigue for many, a fascination for a few. Seriously, we miss these circular cardboard pieces with pictures on them.

4) Riddler Trophies – Arkham series

One of the most iconic depictions of the caped crusader, the Arkham series is renowned for its character work, detailed world, flowing combat style and mixture of gameplay that offers something for everyone; even the obsessive collectors. Dotted around Gotham’s darkest corners, the Riddler has left neon-lit trophies for Batman to gather, often concealed, or warded by some complex lock or trap.

Some of them include some pretty cool unlockable content, lore, character skins or models, challenge maps, a secret boss (depending on the game) but mostly they just add a new challenge, something else to work towards for that 100% completion. It’s also a lot of fun shaking down Nigma’s henchmen and spies for info, changing the dynamic of combat, saving the key-goon for last.

3) Dragon Balls

One by itself makes for a great hat bobble, apparently, but other than that, they are just rare orange orbs with stars in them. These titular collectable balls are oft-forgotten in the realm of the DragonBall fandom. They are bright, they are powerful and they always serve as a major function in the series, so they’re obviously very valuable to collect.

They contain the mighty Shenron, a dragon of immense power. Shenron can grant nearly any wish the summoner wants, but there are certain limitations, such as if the wish relates to another person, they must want the wishes to occur too. He cannot do things for those who are unwilling.

2) Pop Vinyl – Funko

Though it may not be to everyone’s tastes, the oddly distorted and slightly chibi-fied renditions of pop/geek-culture characters are unquestionably loved by enough people that any comic-book shop you wander into has been partially absorbed by shelf upon shelf of Funko’s immense collection of figurines.

Is it because there’s something for every fandom in their catalogue? Could it be the incredibly esoteric figures that delve deeply into the obscure corners of comic-book, movie, and anime fandom with lesser known characters and costumes? Could it be that they’re cheap and easy gifts and featured heavily in lootcrate and its’ imitators? It’s probably all of those rhetorical questions and more!

1) Pokemon

Not even the most up to date list!

“Gotta catch ‘em all”

Thinking back across the years, very few collections stay in one big pile. You have comic books, but they’re all different collections. You have trading card games, but time goes on and sure, older cards in mint condition are worth quite a bit, but nothing is quite as priceless as catching them all, no matter what Gen you’re in. Whether it’s Kanto, Johto or even Alola.

So why not grab your gameboy, gather your decks, both virtual and physical, get your mangas, Pokémon have to be caught in different ways, for different media formats. After all you won’t catch them all on the handheld titles by trying to buy them. Unless you buy a cartridge with them all already pre-loaded, but where’s the fun in that? It’s the ultimate franchise of catching them all, 90s-present.


Honourable Mentions

Some collectables are just there, as if you really don’t think much about it. One day, you’re roaming through the lush hillsides, then you have to get yourself home. As a dragon falls from the skies, you happen to see that as it lands, something really important to pick up is right there. You rush up to the dragon and you can’t help yourself. You look around, feeling dirty, but you’ve gotta get it. You reach towards the dragons skull and you pick up…

Books – The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls franchise has many, many pages of books for everyone to read through. From the informative books to introduce you to the lore of a town, to spell books, to books about Lusty Argonian Maids, The Elder Scrolls games know how to really add flavour to their worlds, but many people don’t even bother with these books unless they get something in return for having them.

If you’re looking for a collection to try in Skyrim, why not start a book collection? Go on out to the wilds, find as many books to take to your quaint Breezehome, put them in your shelves and watch angrily as they all lamely fall over. Even worse, when you let Lydia anywhere near your books. Worse still, when you FUS RO DA!

Video Games

Look on your Steam account by going to your library. Or if you’re a console gamer, check out the number of downloads, discs and cartridges you have. It’s quite the number I bet, as you are never quite settled on just one game. No, you want one of many games, but even with your extensive collection, you still have no idea what game to play. It is the curse of being a video gamer.

My Steam collection has over 200 games, which back in the 90s would have been a hugely laughable idea. Why would you have so many games, you silly individual; and yet the idea wasn’t that farfetched even then. So I implore you to explore your collection of titles, pick out something different and give it a go! You’re gonna enjoy it… and then you can get another game to replace it.


We’ve gone far and wide to bring you the most collectable collections a geek could have. Sure, we could have gone a step further and figured out the most collectable of all the Trading Card Games (but technically, that’d go to Pokemon). We could have figured out the most collectable of all plush toys (but technically, that’d go to the Pokemon Center). Hmm, I’m seeing a pattern – Our most collectable anything within all of geekdom is of course Pokemon, but now it’s up to you. We want to collect all of your clicks on our poll to help us decide what our votes are for next weeks’ Top 10 list.

When all is said and done, we like to wrap up everything that we’ve got in lots of bubble wrap and keep it all safely tucked away, ready to be brought out to show during dinner conversations. Just casually show off the fact you have so many of these collectables in your life, be proud of the oddities and trinkets you pick up. Whatever your collectable of choice is, geekdom is absolutely chock-a-block full of them… So let us know: What’s your personal favourite collectable item, be it physical, digital, fictional or real. As always, let us know how we did in our Top 10 this week and tell us: Do you agree Pokemon deserved the top slot? Comments go below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.


Heroes of the Storm Patch 2.0 – Huge Update

For the MOBA players among us, it appears that Heroes of the Storm recently received a major overhaul. Deciding that I couldn’t just let it slide, I went to have a peek at what the huge update would have in store for us. New characters, new skins, new ways to unlock skins and characters… And a sense of revitalisation to a game that was fun, but admittedly getting a little bit on the stale side. If you’ve not seen this yet, come have a look and see what’s new.

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Gamely Giving 2017: Great Gamer Charity Cause

Fans of video games rejoice, as Gamely Giving will be returning for yet another year of raising cash for charity. Gamers are a very charitable bunch, so Gamely Giving is an extension of that. If you’re interested in what made these gamers get together, we look at Gamely Giving, what they’re trying to do and what they’re going to give back to all of you who watch their marathon stream. If you like video games and you like continuous live streams, check this out.

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Playing Lawful Evil

We sink ever deeper through morality and into cruelty, malice, desire placed above need, ambition put before consideration, ends always justifying the means.. It’s important to recognise here that the most evil amongst us are the ones who don’t consider themselves evil, perhaps they are just motivated enough pursuing their goals to overlook the damage they might be doing, or perhaps they feel as if they are doing the right thing, and those who try and stop them are being unjust. Or perhaps their malevolence is born of some great injustice done to them, real or perceived.

Oh how I love a good villain.

So while I quietly persuade myself not to get too political, let’s take a look into what can earn someone the label of Lawful Evil. (more…)


Video Game History of Casinos

Video games have been known to divulge into the sometimes dangerous world of gambling, that much is fact. Whether or not you’d like to admit it, gamers are targeted with gambling and other vices. Whether you’re playing a game of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the Casino Night Zone, playing some of the classic Leisure Suit Larry’s Casino, or you prefer to actually play some online roulette or play and win real money, gambling is a very serious discussion in the real world.

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Wizardly Customer Service: Wizards of the Coast Care

Let me tell you a story.

I bought the Dungeons & Dragons core books pretty much as soon as they came out (barring a major delay on the Dungeon Master’s Guide) so it’s been nearly three years since I bought the Players Handbook, and in that time it has been read, re-read, passed around the room, dropped, dragged across the country and otherwise more heavily abused than any other reference book in my collection. So it’s little wonder that it ended up like this:

Now that’s fine, it may be a £40+ book but that’s a hefty tome of full colour pages and for the amount of usage it sees I would quite happily have bought a replacement, but a friend of mine stopped me. Apparently first printing copies had issues with the binding so Wizards of the Coast are willing to replace it for free! I was sceptical but there’s no harm in asking the question, so I put it to the D&D Facebook page in a private message, who quite promptly redirected me to their product replacement form with requests for specific pictures.

Alright, brilliant, amazing! Nice bland form, a sign-in demanding my info and a generic box to fill in the problem and attach pictures. Nothing out of the ordinary, the only thing going above and beyond the call of duty here is that they’re replacing a book for free after nearly three years. There was a follow-up email shortly afterwards to ask for a few more details so that my book could be delivered.

And then the e-mail arrived:

Hello Joel,

Thank you for contacting Wizards of the Coast Customer Service, sworn loyalists to the Holy Order of Tyr.
I am sorry to hear that the hated Blackguards have sabotaged your Handbook with their black magicks! Does their cruelty and hatred for Players know no bounds?? Of course, we will be happy to assist you with a replacement, free of charge. We must have our noble allies fighting against the forces of darkness with all haste!
The benevolent clerics of Product Replacement are crafting your new book as we speak. Though we shall face many dangers in doing so, we shall arrange for your new Player’s Handbook to arrive to you in the coming days. The agents of Bane shall not stop our efforts to serve you!
Please feel free to reply to this “electronic mail” our house mages have supplied us with if you have any further questions, concerns, or Beholder sightings. We will be happy to assist you!

Adam E. at Wizards of the Coast customer services, I salute you. You just role-played your job! Sadly I did not get a reply to my equally inflammatory response, something about “lumbering me in with the heroic types” your typical villainous monologue. Anyway, all that was left for me to do was sit and wait, and as the book was coming in from the U.S I wasn’t exactly expecting it to fall into my lap within the week, it took about three weeks.

And so I am now the proud owner of a shiny new Players Handbook courtesy of Wizards of the Coast, and this isn’t the only instance of such an awesome response I’ve encountered either. In a similar instance in which the book actually arrived in poor condition WotC not only replaced the book but also threw in a copy of the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide to account for delivery costs. Add on to that all of the free stuff they’re putting out through Dragon+ magazine?

I would like to say that it is not my fault that I followed this exchange up by buying a copy of Tales from the Yawning Portal, compendium of classic dungeons updated for 5th edition that I simply wouldn’t have bothered with in other circumstances. It’s testament to how good customer service breeds good customer relations, and after the mess of 4th edition and the online “tools” they needed to buy some good grace.

So this is a bravo and a thank you to Wizards of the Coast. I’m going to get to re-making some character sheets for my learner-group with my nice shiny new PHB, and design some cruel dungeon ideas by ripping off the classics.


My early gamer years (Part 1)

If you turn back the clock about 30 years, you would find a younger version of me, happily tucked away trying to learn the art of BASIC and Machine code in order to find out more about the computer that I was sitting at. I actually started my life with computers with the Spectrum ZX80 but progressed within a year or so onto the Commodore 64 that my older brother and I shared. Games back then were seriously hard, I remember only ever completing a few of them but most took a great deal of skill and practice to learn the mechanics. There were no such things as tutorials; no YouTube that you could go to and find out how someone else got past a certain section. You had to buy games magazine to learn about cheat codes that were put into games on purpose to help play-testers.

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GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet 2 – The Second One

I am overly excited to bring you the second GeekOut Meet for Shrewsbury! We got off to a great start in March, and April is already shaping up to be even better, we already have a few new faces signing up on our Facebook and MeetUp pages, and I have a few extra plans to make the day just that little bit more interesting.

From 12:00 onwards we’ll be back in the basement of the Shrewsbury Coffee House, a few warm up games, cake and drinks (personally I recommend the brownies) while those willing and able to join us for the afternoon have chance to join us for a meet and greet, and those of us who are in it for the long haul can get settled in for the big games of the evening. We also have a heads-up from management, due to a staff holiday we may have to leave a little early, but this is Shrewsbury, we are not short of places to go.

We have the VIP section at Monty’s Tower from 18:00, and a spare table or two to catch any over-spill. This month’s feature game – at least from my library – Lego: Minotauros, a cat and mouse game of luck and cunning. Lego make some of the best everything so it would seem, toys, films and one of the most fun and simple board games I’ve ever had the privilege of building myself. It does not take very long however, so be sure to bring along anything you like.


Games available to play this month:

– Boss Monster
– Bucket of Doom
– Eight Minute Empires
– Fluxx (assorted)
– Lego: Minotaurus
– Love Letter
– Magic: the Gathering
– Munchkin
– Tsuro
– Zombie Dice


And of course by “anything you like” it needn’t be a board game, for a start we have loads, and we’re not just in it for the board gamers. Manga, TV, film, comics, anything and everything geeky is welcome to the table. I just finished binge-watching Legion, the FX television portal for the X-Men following the story of an incredibly powerful telepath with incredibly powerful mental health problems and I need someone to talk to for hours about that show.

Remember, as the GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet is still in its early stages you have a chance to shape its future. Come on down and let us know what you want to see from GeekOut in the future, we have our ideas and our themes, but ultimately it’s all about you.

As a final note, for April’s Shrewsbury Meet we have a calling card, something of a running joke carried over from Bristol, look for this at each venue:

Gordon the GeekOut Goat


Top 10 – Super Tiny Characters

GeekOut Top 10s

It doesn’t matter if you’re ten sizes too small, when your heart is ten sizes too big. Good lord, that’ll give you chest problems. Yes, heroes come in all shapes and sizes and we’re here to celebrate those who reached optimal size. Some of you may call them small, others may call them super tiny, whatever you call them, we’re here to look past all the boring small characters and find the Top 10 Super Tiny Characters. Please, watch where you’re stepping for this one… (more…)