Ravingnerd Reviews: The Snyder Cut

Hello everyone. I am back with a topic that truly must be discussed, the Snyder Cut. I have not seen a Snyder movie since Man of Steel and everything I’ve seen and heard about the other films are not great. So the idea that we were getting a 4 hour mastercut of his creative vision was something I was not at all interested in. Yet my roommate convinced me that I should watch it, so that I would know once and for all what Snyder would have done. He had the advantage of seeing the original cut so we made a unique team of viewers. One a film buff who’s seen all the other films, me and absolute comic nut who has largely chastised and ignored the franchise. I remember being unimpressed with everything I saw in the trailer for the first cut, and ignored all trailers for this one as I simply didn’t care. So that said, I have decided to go over each character, and how I feel they were written and how they performed within the context of the plot. Then I’ll move on from there. Naturally, I am going to go full spoiler here so Black Alert is active!

Batman

This is my first look at Ben Affleck as Batman, the defacto leader of the team. While the opening scene showed him with a massive fire arm, I was told that was from BvS. He didn’t wield any weapons after that, except for a heavily armored mech spider thing that was armed to the teeth with guns and missiles. That said, I felt he really embodied the brute strength of Batman pretty well. On the other side, he’s supposed to be the worlds greatest Detective and yet Diana and Alfred are putting in all the heavy lifting on the thinking side. There’s a line where he says his super power is that “I’m rich”, and that’s not remotely close to Batman’s greatest strength, this character really lacked any intellectual prowess I expect of Batman. All in all Batman was just kinda there. He didn’t do enough to stand out, but I didn’t hate him. I’d give Affleck and Batman a “C” grade. Not special, but it passes.

Wonder Woman

Diana is, as I expected, the heart of this entire film. Gal Gadot is excellent in the role, and I love her in both Wonder Woman films. She is strong and powerful, but also very passionate. Some of the absolute best action scenes have her in it. I was told the big scene was not in the original, and that makes a level of sense because it adds nothing to the plot, but it is one of the better scenes in the movie. Having been in the previous film, she’s on board with the team concept from the start that the rest are not, and that helps make the early “I work alone” stuff from the other characters palatable as she is as scene stealing as ever. I am a bit surprised that Snyder was capable of presenting her as well as she is in the movies, but that could also be very easily attributed to her absolute mastery of the role. Gadot and Wonder Woman get an absolute “A” they are just about perfect, and enjoyable in every scene.

Flash

I remember seeing the first Justice League trailer and thinking ‘they just made Flash Spider-Man’ and that is absolutely true. Ezra Miller is probably a better Spider-Man than some who have played him, but given how well Grant Gustin performs in the Flash show, it’s noticeable that this Flash has none of the qualities of Barry Allen. That I said, I can’t stand Barry. He’s the most boring Flash, and the interpretation of this Flash could have more closer aligned with Wally West or even Bart Allen. But Barry Allen this is not. He’s not particularly smart, he’s there for the comedy and it reminded me more of Quicksilver from Days of Future past and that’s sad, as Quicksilver is the lesser of the characters. There was some to be had with the character, and he provided comic relief well, but overall pretty disappointing. Miller and Flash get a “D” grade.

Aquaman

I might as well get this out of the way now, I really enjoyed the Aquaman movie. I felt that Jason Momoa was overall excellent as Arthur Curry. That same charm did not come through in this movie. He was brooding and lost, and just lacked any of the things I enjoyed about him in his own movie. Which is strange because Mera was way more likeable in this version. Similar to Flash, I pretty much thought that they tried to portray him as a combo Thor/Wolverine in the movie, and that wasn’t entirely accurate. While he was certainly broody he was disconnected from his society to the point that I’m not sure what his motivations were. He wasn’t there to protect Atlantis, but he only showed up at this random village every so often. There wasn’t any grounding here. The initial confrontation with he and Bruce is flat and that about sums up Momoa and Aquaman this film. He didn’t get enough time to be anything but flat, and since I’ve seen him shine in his own film it was even more disappointing. Momoa and Aquaman get a “D”

Cyborg

Ray Fisher was billed by both he and Snyder as the “Heart and Soul” of the Snyder cut. Apparently most of his scenes were cut out of the original film, and that has led to some backlash. I am not going to mince words. Cyborg is the absolute worst part of this film. He is angsty beyond recognition and they set up his powers to the point where he has access the the worlds entire nuclear arsenal then told “the challenge will be not to use them” then why set him up that way at all? We began calling in the Chekhov’s Nuke worrying that it might actually come into play at the end. Fortunately it didn’t. The Cyborg design was clunky and he was just too damn mean and angry to be any form of enjoyable. All the things Cyborg did in this film could have been done with John Stewart in 20 minutes, plus you’d have the much flashier Green Lantern in the final battle than the ultimate computer or whatever Cyborg is in this. Ray Fisher and Cyborg get an unflinching “F”

Superman

The final member of the group as Snyder decided he needed to kill him off in the previous movie that saw a sequel to a Superman movie combine one of the most iconic (and in my opinion, awful, Batman books) with one of the most iconic (and also awful) Superman books. Because you needed to have Superman and Batman fight and have Doomsday in the same movie. Superman is Snyder’s greatest failure, he didn’t know how to use him. The entire movie everyone is like “Superman was my hero” since when? This man was deemed a terrorist and testified in front of congress. We never see him be Superman. It’s a shame because I have really grown to like Henry Cavill, but he just isn’t allowed to do any Superman things in this. Snyder simply doesn’t understand Superman, the appeal, and how he fits into his ultimate vision. Fun fact, Superman is absent for the first 3 hours of this movie. He comes back, fights the League, then leaves, then comes back ‘better’? I guess? Again Snyder has no handle on the character, and he’s brought in because it’s pretty clear they need him to stop Steppenwolfe and the invasion. He’s the Deus Ex Machina, and that’s it. For Cavill’s part I give him and Superman a “D”.

So that’s the core cast, they largely met my expectations and preconceptions of them, which were low. That said there was some success in the bigger team-up moments. Just, not a ton. Part of the problem, is knowing wat Snyder got to play with. Snyder introduced two of the heaviest DC hitters. They introduced J’onn J’onzz who’s just, around? He eventually meets up with Bruce at the post credit scene, but he’s irrelevant to the larger plot. On the other hand they introduce a Lantern in an earlier flashback scene. So we know that these two could have been involved and I’m disappointed they weren’t.

Speaking of Lantern, there is a singular scene that stands out as the best in the film. The previous fight between Darkseid and Earth. Atlantians, Humans, and Amazons teaming up to fight off Darkseid. The Amazons armed with several Gods in their Pantheon. It’s in this scene that an unnamed Lantern is fighting with the forces. He dies during the combat, and his ring zips off somewhere else. The entire scene is epic and awesome. Made more cool by the Lantern fan service.

The movie itself is four hours. It’s bloated, there are multiple useless scenes that don’t really do anything at all. Some in the original cut some not. There is a real sense that Snyder wanted to do this. I came to the realization that in a lot of instances, he really tried to do right by these characters. All the Easter eggs and other name drops are great. Snyder wanted to make the best Justice League movie. Aside from not understanding Superman from the word go, he seems to have tried with everyone else. He just doesn’t know what he’s doing. He was the wrong person to do any of this. He might be incredibly passionate about these characters, and this movie heavily seems to indicate that. He just doesn’t know how to put the pieces together. I have not seen the original version, so I don’t know how this compares, but I intend to check out which version.

This movie is a slog and basically took up one of my days off. I won’t watch it again, it didn’t make me regret not watching the previous movies. It doesn’t make me sad that he’s done. DC needs to move past Snyder, because he had no real idea what he was doing. Even his four hour mastercut stumbles and loses itself. Something I expect wouldn’t be there. There are still plot holes and inconsistencies and just downright baffling decisions. That said there were things I enjoyed about this movie. Which I genuinely did not expect. That said it’s not for me. The characters are misfires, and I really struggled to liken them to any semblance of the comic book characters I love. So I’ll give it a 4. There are some good parts, but it’s just too long, inconsistent, and ultimately disappointing. But hey, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

Ravingnerd Top 10: Star Trek DS9

The time has finally come. This list took a lot of time I tell you. I generally knew what was on the list, but legitimately trying to put them in an order that made sense to me was tough. Given the momentous news from MLB last night, I knew now was the time to go back to my favorite place in the galaxy and talk about my favorite show of all time. I have watched it in entirety at least 12 times. My favorite episodes I’ve seen 10 times that. This is my ultimate comfort show. Every single character, even Dukat, feels like a life long friend when I see them on screen. This show has saved me through the darkest of times, and has provided me with some of my life’s greatest joys. So at last here we are.

There will be spoilers ahead so if you have not seen DS9, then I suggest you look at the titles, not the summaries and watch them first. You won’t regret it. Hell, just watch the whole series.

Honorable Mention: His Way

This was honestly the toughest decision on the list. It was down to this and The Visitor. The Visitor is an outstanding episode and easily the best featuring Jake Sisko. But in my heart I knew I had to go with His Way. This episode might be may favorite featuring Odo, because we get to see his softer human side. All the things he does to try to impress Major Kira, and the series worth of emotions that happen when the two finally kiss. This is easily one of my favorite couples in any series, comic, movie, show, whatever. It’s a pleasure to watch the two stubborn and hard people soften up and come together in the way that they do. Plus bonus points if you knew this was the first appearance of Vic Fontaine!

10. Take Me Out to the Holosuite

You are telling me that I shouldn’t put the Baseball episode on my list. Do you even know me? This episode is on this list for two reasons. The first is that is a culmination of a series long theme of the Sisko’s enjoying Baseball. There are nods here and there, and references to players both real and fictional. In the Star Trek timeline Baseball is gone. It didn’t stand the test of time, but Sisko keeps a flame a light and I respect that so much. The second reason this episode is so good is the context it comes out in. This is the last moment of joy you really get in the series. We go straight into the 10 part conclusion after this, and there are some dark, dark moments after that. Some of your friends don’t make it out in the end. But to see everyone learning to play this goofy Earth game, even knowing that a Vulcan team that has dedicated themselves to the sport has no chance in losing. When Rom hits the lone run for the Niners, the score is only like 99-1 but the celebration is real and palpable. If anyone can find me a Niners hat, I’d love for someone to send me a link.

9. The Siege of AR-558

Joy is a word that you won’t find much in the latter half of Deep Space Nine. Especially the final season when it’s fully embraced being a war drama. This episode is one of those that embraces it in a unique way. I almost combined this with the episode from the 8th spot, but they need to be separate entries. This episode sees Benjamin, Jake, Quark, Nog, Ezri, and Bashir trapped on AR-558 a planet of strategic value for the Federation that has been under siege by the Dominion for months with no respite. Unfortunately for our heroes, the Defiant is forced to retreat air space due to superior Dominion presence. This leaves them stranded with the rag tag and run down force tasked with protecting the planet. Not only do they have to contend with the ferocious Jem-Hadar forces attacking them, but the Dominion has made state of the art phasing mines dubbed “Houdini’s”. One minute there will be a mine where there was none before. These have destroyed the forces and demolished the morale of the survivors. This episode takes a look at PTSD in a way that most things were not at the time this was coming out. It’s raw and it’s rough, and it hurts. Especially as fan favorite character Nog is struck by one of the Houdini’s and is forced to amputate his leg. His howl after being struck is heard across the battlefield and is singed into my mind. Bonus fact! See that guy right there? Yeah, that’s Will Robinson. And you bet your ass they killed Will Robinson.

8. It’s Only a Paper Moon

This isn’t the next episode from the Siege, but it is the follow up episode. This episode sees the normally positive and upbeat Nog, depressed and wallowing in Depression after his injury. He has a prosthetic leg because the injury was to grizzly and too remote to do anything else about it. He is limping and needs a cane to move about. All he does is listen to Sinatra’s “It’s Only a Paper Moon” which is sung by Vic Fontaine and was playing while he lied in his bed getting his leg amputated. He eventually visits the holosuite and becomes engrossed with the fantasy. Ezri is hesitant but Vic sees it as a way to get Nog out of his shell. It works, but goes a bit too far as Nog refuses to go back to reality. Living in the fantasy is easier than confronting his own trauma and PTSD. He eventually confronts his fears and tentatively moves forward. This episode is spectacular the late Aron Eisenberg is acting his heart out in this episode. It also addresses my problems with most Star Trek. A character has trauma and it is never mentioned again. That is not the case in this show, and they demonstrate it to great effect by making loveable Nog the focus of this trauma. It hurts, but life hurts. We have to embrace our trauma and work with it and move forward not from it, but with it.

7. Our Man Bashir

Alright, lets take a quick 180 and go back to what can only be described as my ideal fantasy. It’s Star Trek meets James Bond with my two favorite characters Bashir and Garak at the heart of it. These two are at the heart of a few more on this list, and that’s due to their great chemistry and character development. This episode is basically just pure fan service for me. There are so many Easter Eggs in this episode. Garak is in classic Man from UNCLE attire, the named woman that is also a sexual reference, the villains name is Dr. Noah, and is dressed exactly like Dr No. The play baccarat, there are Martini’s, all the while there is the greater conflict between Bashir and Garak as the latter, a real spy, is critical of this fantastic version that the former is playing. The episode has real stakes, as the rest of the crew replace the characters after their shuttle blows up while they were beaming out. If they die in the holonovel, they die. So they play through the plot. Garak increasingly suggesting that for some to live one might have to die, a fact that Bashir refuses to accept. Bashir plays the Bond esq spy excellently and the subtle scoring notes help to make this feel like a Bond film. The main goal of Dr. Noah is to invite the worlds leading intellectuals to his Himalayan fortress and blow up all the tectonic faults and flood the world. It’s perfect, and the only way Bashir is able to escape and save everyone, is to have the villain go through the motions and actually succeed. This ends just in time, and the our heroes are returned to their bodies with no knowledge they just played through a Bond novel. It’s James Bond meets Star Trek. There you go, lets move on. Also, last fun episode on this list. Sorry. Bonus: Eddington!

6. Homefront Pt 1 and 2

The only two parter on this list, this episode focuses on the Red Scare type threat the Founders represent. As a founder shapeshifts into a major Federation Embassy Meeting on Earth and bombs it. Sisko and resident good shapeshifter Odo are recalled to Earth to help make it Shapeshifter proof. They begin installing devices and working with Admiral Leyton to beef up security. This episode also has Ben reuniting with his dad in New Orleans. Things escalate from there as Nog currently a cadet at the Academy reveals from shady Federation dealings. Ben meets a Changeling that has disguised himself as Admiral Leyton and later Miles O’Brien. This further increases fears and they urge the Federation President to declare martial law. He refuses and while Sisko is in New Orleans with his dad, the planetary power grid goes down and they are able to use that to declare Martial Law. Sisko is then framed as a shapeshifter and thrown in jail while Odo figures out that the Changelings aren’t doing this Leyton is planning an elaborate coup. They are able to stop it and reveal the plot, but not without the damage. The Federation just proved that the Founders and the Dominion don’t have to hurt them. If they cause enough fear, the Federation will crumble due to their own thoughts, ambitions, and discriminations. It’s a powerful look at how quickly the utopic Federation can be undone. Bonus, Brock Peters who plays Sisko’s dad is the bad guy in Undiscovered Country! That also features a character named Odo, and a Shapeshifter, and Worf’s dad, and a bunch of other DS9 things.

5. The Wire

The earliest episode on this list, and another buddy episode with Bashir and Garak. This one is different though as Garak is getting severe headaches that eventually cause him to collapse. It turns out that when he was a spy on the station, he was given an implant that enhanced the pleasure sensors in his brain. Years later after being used non stop, it is breaking down and if not dealt with will kill Garak. He spends most of the episode in extreme pain and is very infrequently lucid. When he is, he tells Bashir of the thing that made him flip the switch permanently. It’s the same story, told three different times, with three different results. Bashir, perplexed finds one of the characters he mentioned, Enabren Tain, Garak’s former spymaster. He asks him about the fate of the other prominent member of Garak’s stories, a man named Elim. Tain reveals that Elim is Garak’s first name, that he’s talking about himself. He helps Bashir get Garak well, and at the end finally confronts him about his stories, and all the lies. Which leads to one of my favorite lines in the series. Bashir asks if he should believe in the truths that Garak revealed, and whether he should believe the lies to which Elim responds, “especially the lies”. It’s a great episode that really forges Garak’s character and is generally credited as to making him a reguarl recurring member with greater roles going forward. Bonus fact: I have that quote etched onto a bourbon bottle!

4. Waltz

This episode has been dissected by me and my best friend for years, as we are certain we can make this a fantastic One Act Play for UIL. It’s there somewhere. This episode sees Gul Dukat in captivity on his way to his hearing for war crimes. He’s been in a mental breakdown after his daughter was killed earlier this season when the Federation recaptures DS9 from the Dominion. As Sisko is talking to his archenemy, the ship is hit by an attack and Sisko is knocked unconscious. When he awakes, he is on a desolate planet, severely injured, and under the care of you guessed it Dukat. Initially Dukat seems amicable, taking care of Sisko and turning on a comm beacon to get them rescued. Through the episode, Dukat is plagued by hallucinations from several characters. His former right hand man and sub commander Damar, who killed Dukat’s daughter. Weyoun, he Vorta that he worked with during the war efforts against the Federation, and Kira. The Bajoran first officer of DS9 who has a complicated history as she is a resistance fighter on Bajor during the Cardassin occupation. Dukat degresses into madness, as he is convinced that he is a good guy and wants to be acknowledged by Sisko as a good guy and a friend. Sisko eventually catches on and gets Dukat to go full villain and say that he should have just killed all Bajorans, as then their wouldn’t be anyone to doubt him. Sisko is rescued, but Dukat escapes and vows to destroy Bajor. This episode is a major turning point because at points in the series Dukat acted heroically and was likeable. In this he is consumed by madness and becomes a full on villain that plagues Sisko the the bitter end. It also really drives home the horrors of the Bajoran occupation, which is Star Trek’s not so subtle nod the the Holocaust. The Occupation lasted decades, and Dukat was there for most of this. If you take away the Trek elements this script reeds as an SS officer gloating to an enemy on his superiority, only to revel in his madness and lose his humanity along the way. It’s brilliant, deep, and well worth the watch. And who wants to help us doctor the script? Bonus: Jeffrey Combs is in this, and that’s all that really matters right?

3. Far Beyond the Stars

This episode hurts to this day. It is a stunning commentary on racism and how far we have, and sadly have not progressed as a society. With the war raging on around him, Sisko starts seeing visions of strange people walking across the station. Eventually he is completely transported to another world. Our world to be exact. He’s not Sisko, he is Benny Russell a SciFi writer in the 1950’s New York. All of the main cast has been recast as people that Benny knows and interacts with. His dad is a street preacher. His crew are his co-workers. Worf is a baseball player. At a monthly pitch meeting, the staff artist (Martok) hands out his recent drawings. Benny sees a drawing of Deep Space Nine, and immediately takes it. He starts having visions of the life of Ben Sisko and feverishly writes about it. He submits his work to publisher and things seem good in his life. His girlfriend has a lead on a house and he’s got so many ideas about that space station. Then he sees a local grifter, (Jake) get killed by two racist cops that previously confronted Benny (Dukat and Weyoun). Sisko tries to intervene and is badly beaten by the pair. Later, after a little healing a still wounded Benny walks into work to discover that their would be no printed edition of their periodical this month. And that he was being fired. Benny quickly determines it’s because he refused to change the race of Ben Sisko to white, and the editor wouldn’t have it. He goes off into an epic speech about rights an equality, culminating with him falling to the floor in tears saying “I’m a human being”. Benny is then restrained and sent to an institution. The episode snaps back to reality and things go on as normal for our heroes, but sometimes Sisko sees Benny instead of himself in his reflections. This is a gut punch of an episode and it cuts deep. It’s worse because this episode is still accurate. We are still dealing with this shit. And that’s what this episode is reminding us of, racism is still real. It’s still here. Bonus, Avery Brooks (Sisko) directed this episode!

2. Inquisition

Bashir awakes early the morning he’s headed to a medical conference. Instead he is assembled with the rest of the bridge crew and told by Deputy Director Sloan from Starfleet Security that they are to be detained while they investigate acts of treason or subversion that they have gotten reports of. He’s called in to see Sloan and finds out things are alright Sloan is amicable and friendly. He asks a few questions and sends Bashir on his way after taking his Breakfast order. Bashir returns to his quarters to see things are a bit off, like it’s been searched. He gets his breakfast order, but unfortunately it’s Gagh (a Klingon dish of live worms). The order was ‘mixed up’ and Worf and he got their orders switched. Just then his rooms comm panel chimes and it’s Miles. He asks how Bashir is, to which he replies that Sloan was pretty nice. Miles than says he’s not and he was just grilled for an hour on Bashir. Julian is then called back into Sloan’s office and he is put through the ringer. Sloan is convinced he is the subversive. He is sentenced with sedition, and Sisko is asking if there could be truth in Sloan’s assessment. Bashir is eventually teleported to a Dominion ship where Weyoun awaits him. He says his cover has been blown, and that he has been an agent working for them for a while now. That he’s been a sleeper agent, and that he’s been a very good operative for them. Bashir refuses to acknowledge it, and is eventually rescued by his cohorts, only because he’s a criminal and they need to know the sense of his treachery. As he is further interrogated he finds out that a debilitating injury Miles suffered in a holodeck accident is not afflicting him. Bashir surmises that this isn’t reality. He then finds himself in a holodeck. Sloan orchestrated the entire thing. He’s from a secret group called Section 31. They are convinced he’s not a subversive, but he’s now wanting Bashir to join him. He refuses and Sloan says he will see him again. Later the crew find out that Section 31 is not confirmed nor denied by the Federation. The question is asked what steps would the Federation take to achieve their goals. Wonder how long it takes for us to find the answer to that? Bonus: Section 31 is a personal favorite.

  1. In the Pale Moonlight

We are here. My favorite episode in the franchise and the one I consider to be the series best. Fun fact, the previous episode is immediately followed by this episode. Making the perfect two episode block and the best in tv history. I’ll fight you on that. Now lets get too it! Sisko is upset after another casualty report. He surmises that if they convinced the Romulans to join the war on their side, they could turn the tides of war. He then goes to resident espionage expert and excellent tailor, Garak, and asks if they could make that happen. He says yes, with some work. Then begins an elaborate scheme. It starts with the release of a forgery expert in Klingon captivity, the sale of an extremely restricted medical substance that Bashir is firmly against. They then forge a plot for the Dominion to invade Romulus. They bring a high ranking Romulan senator to the station to give him the evidence. He reviews it, and discovers it’s a fake. Then he heads back to Romulus to expose Federation trickery. Sisko then hears that his shuttle has exploded, and that Romulans found evidence of Dominion treachery. They have joined the war on the side of the Federation. Sisko, in a fury confronts Garak with a few blows and asks if he planted the bombs. He says he did. Sisko asks what happened to the forger, Garak alludes that he is also dead. Sisko then claims this wasn’t the deal, to which Garak said it was the deal, and all it took was one Romulan senator, one criminal forger, and the self respect of one starfleet officer. All of this has been recanted by Sisko in a personal log he’s been recording in his room. He then comes to terms with his war crimes, and accepts what he did had to be done. He then deletes the log and the episode ends. The episode previous asked what the Federation wouldn’t do to achieve their goals, and if that made them any better than their enemies. This episode answered nothing, and no it didn’t. It’s a powerful subversion of what we are used to and it completes the journey of Sisko being a straight laced Officer to one willing to commit war crimes in order to help end a bloody war. It leaves you wondering if it was right, and answers it didn’t have to be right if it worked. Bonus: No bonus, this episode is amazing and thrilling and I love every second of it.

Ravingnerd Top 10: Star Trek TNG

Hey everyone! I’m back again! It’s been busy with the holidays at work, but I have finally sat down and compiled my thoughts on my opinion on the best TNG episodes. I have to admit it took me a while to do this, just because I know I’m going to get some flack. I have poured over lists of best episodes, and all of them ignore one that I think stands far above the rest. So with that chunk of a hook, I guess you have to stick around.

Honorable Mention:

The Pegasus: This episode is memorable mostly for the Picard Day plot at the beginning of the episode. But it ends up venturing into thrilling political territory. Admiral Pressman boards the Enterprise and he has some news for Riker. He and his former first officer get to go salvage something from the wreck of their old ship, the Pegasus. It is eventually revealed that the ship was destroyed trying out an experimental phasing cloaking device. But they have to get their before a rival Romulan ship does. For if the Romulans get there first, they will have discovered that Pressman attempted to break the Treaty of Algeron. Riker eventually chooses to disobey and expose his former Captain, who is later court martialed. Really thrilling stuff, just always feels out of place from the normal TNG buzz.

10. The Measure of a Man: The only episode from the first two seasons to be mentioned on this list, for good reason. This episode is not only a great morality tale, but becomes incredibly important considering the events of Star Trek : Picard. This episode finds Star Trek Scientist Bruce Maddox attempting to dismantle Data in hopes to discover how he works so that he can make more Soong type androids. The procedure is technically survivable, but it is presented as a high chance of wiping Data’s mind and individuality. Data declines, and resigns Star Fleet to stop this. Then Starfleet voids that by stating that Data is property of Starfleet and not an individual in it. The court appoints Riker to lead a trial to prove that Data is indeed not an individual. Picard leads the defense, in what is an increasingly lopsided trial. Picard eventually seeks guidance with Guinan who compares what Starfleet wants to do to slavery, which inspires him to lead the charge and save Data. It’s a great morality tale with dark implications. It also is a highlight that Starfleet isn’t always the beacon of hope and ethics that people site it to be.

9. Yesterday’s Enterprise: Another thrilling action episode, the Enterprise D encounters a spacial anomaly. Picard asks Worf to scan and then looks ahead, suddenly the bridge of the Enterprise changes into a darker setting, the uniforms are more militaristic and when Picard turns around Tasha Yar is behind him. Yet know one knows anything has changed. They have been fighting a decade long war with the Klingons, and are losing badly. They encounter a damaged Enterprise C, which was presumed destroyed 22 years ago. That apparently set off an event that changed the course of history. Only Guinan is aware of the changes. The Enterprise C is eventually sent back into their own time and change history for the better. The real reason this episode shines is that it give Denise Crosby’s Tasha Yar a chance to shine and get a real proper send off. She was killed off by Baby…. er I mean, Armus in Season One’s Skin of Evil. She gets real agency, and has a real sense of who Yar could have been if she had been given screen time and growth. Plus this episode allows for Crosby to play the sinister Sela her half Romulan daughter in future episodes. It’s complicated.

8. All Good Things… : So yeah, the series finale ends up here. Far from top 5. It’s not a slight on the episode. It’s just the quality of these episodes get significantly better. Some may want to swap it with the episode I slot in at 7 but here we are. Picard is told by Q that he is to be responsible for the annihilation of humanity. What follows is a fun trip through three time lines. The past, Picard’s first days as Captain of the Enterprise, the present, and the future where Picard is retired and working a vinyard, forced out of Starfleet with a degenerative brain disease. Picard is ripped forward and back between the three and we get some truly fun moments. We see where everyone is in the future. Riker is a Captain, Data works at Starfleet Academy. This episode is also the first appearance of the Troi/Worf relationship. I really liked the couple and they got a decent amount of screen time towards the end of the series. I don’t want to spoil the trip, but the episode ends with Picard asking to join the senior staff poker game. Admitting he should have done that along time ago. A poetic way to end the series.

7. The Lower Decks: This episode is especially relevant now that Star Trek: Lower Decks has come out. This episode placed the ground work for that very fun series. Further, I always make my characters make a second character in my Star Trek Adventures game so that we can play fun ‘Lower Deck’ adventures in between heavier campaigns. This episode is entirely from the perspective of several low ranking officers who are all close to promotion. Nurse Ogawa is among them, she’s a great character who got fewer screen time than I feel she should have. That said, the episode throws the entire Star Trek plot premise on its head and delivers a fun, emotional, and fantastic episode. By the end you are rooting for these new characters, and feel their losses as one of your own. Plus they have their own lower decks poker game that perfectly mimics the senior staff’s pastime.

6. Darmok: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Shaka when the walls fell. Temba, his arms wide. I love this episode. Picard is trapped on a planet with a Captain of an alien race that they are unable to understand and that the universe translator cannot translate. The planet’s atmosphere prevents beaming off the planet. This leaves Picard and the Captain to fend for themselves against a savage beast that is hunting them. They must work together despite their differences, and Picard eventually discovers that their entire way of communication is in metaphor. With this they are eventually able to understand each other, just as the Captain succumbs to injuries occurred saving Picard from the beast. Meanwhile Riker and the opposing Commander are dangerously close to firing on each other. When Picard is able to get on the ship, he is able to communicate with the aliens and ease tensions. His discovery will allow the Federation to learn to communicate with the species and increase relations. I have used the word ‘communication’ a ton here, but that’s because it is the theme of the episode. Anyone who knows me knows that communication is my passion and what I studied in school. I could go on and on about this episode.

5. Tapestry: With me so far? We made it to the top 5. In at five is an episode that I think is underrated. This episode sees Picard leading a different life, as Q grants him that chance while Picard lies in the hospital as his pacemaker has given out. Picard replays his life so that he is not stabbed through the heart by a Nausicaan in a bar fight. Fun aside, Nausicaan’s get their name from the Studio Ghibli film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Patrick Stewart did voice work on the English dub and got the naming rights to an alien species in TNG. Fun right? Anyway, Picard leads a far different life where he is in the Science track and fails to achieve the things that he thought he wanted. He eventually decides that he did things right the first time and accepts his fate. Q bids him adieu and Picard eventually recovers. It’s a great ‘Wonderful Life’ type episode and it fits really well with the pacing of the episode.

4. The Inner Light: Here’s the bombshell folks. The episode that is widely considered to be the best or second best misses the top 3. I don’t dislike this episode, I just don’t think it has the chops to stand toe to toe with the other entries on the bottom of this list. This episode sees Picard live out a life after being hit by a probe in space. He is confused at first, and does not accept that he is somehow far from his home and crew. Eventually he makes a life for himself and his memories of the Federation and his old life fade. He eventually lives out his life on the planet and as he dies he wakes up, safe and sound on the Enterprise. The probe made him experience life on the last days of a planets existence. Picard is now the only one who knows who they were, what they were like, and who can remember them. It’s powerful, melancholic, and it ends with Picard playing the flute that his other persona played. Bonus points if you recognized the melody as the inspiration for the theme of Star Trek Picard.

3. Best of Both Worlds: I did it again, didn’t I? Now I’m likely biased with the 2-3 spot, so I’ll get that out of the way here. I doubt this episode needs any explanation. The Borg make their attack, and capture Picard. He then becomes Locutus and leads the Borg to the battle of Wolf 359. There the Federation is eviscerated by the Borg. Of course they are eventually stopped, and Picard is eventually freed. This episode rings out wide across the canon. It is directly responsible for Benjamin Sisko’s origin story, the Borg are the main threat in Star Trek: First Contact, and show up as frequent antagonists in Voyager where we eventually free 7/9. This episode also plays into Star Trek Picard, because how could it not? Alright. Don’t be mad, lets get into the top 2!

2. Chain of Command: There are 4 lights! Picard is leaving the Enterprise and passing Command to Captain Jellico. Then Picard, Worf, and Dr. Crusher go off on a top secret mission on a planet under Cardassian control. This episode is not the first time we see the Cardassian’s, but it is a great testament to their villainous standard. While doing their secret operations, Picard is captured by the Cardassian’s and handed to Gul Madred to ‘talk’. Gul Madred strips him naked, installs a pain sensor across his body. He then tortures him for information, while shining 4 bright lights on him. He tells Picard that it will stop just as soon as Picard admits there are in fact 3 lights. Picard is defiant and takes the torture like a pro. Meanwhile Jellico is changing things up on the Enterprise. This rubs Riker the wrong way who disagrees with Jellico and he is eventually relieved of duty for insubordination. He then promotes Data to first officer and makes Troi put on a pair of pants. So villainous! He has to conduct talks with the Cardassians to convince them that they were not apart of any espionage. Things get tense as the Cardassian’s reveal that they have captured Picard and Jellico won’t budge. A trap is devised and Jellico has to work with Riker to plant Bombs on Cardassian ships. Picard meanwhile continues to be tortured. Eventually, Jellico’s ploy works and Picard is freed. It is later revealed that he was so tired and hungry that he almost believed there were 3 lights. Admitting that he was almost broken. Thrilling stuff. Anyone who knows me probably stopped listening at the mere mention of Cardassia, but it’s a great two parter that deserves its place on any top 10 list.

Now are you ready? The episode I considered to be the best TNG has to offer, that shows up on no list I looked up?

  1. Family: This is the direct follow up to Best of Both Worlds. There are three facets to this episode. The first is Wesley getting a message from his deceased father. The second is Worf’s family boarding the Enterprise as they are orbiting Earth on shore leave. The main crux of this episode is Picard going home to his estranged brother. His brother took over the family vinyard while Picard joined Starfleet. Their reunion is riddled with bitterness, anger, and disappointment. The episode comes to a head when Picard and his brother exchange blows in a patch of mud and get absolutely filthy. The dialogue that comes after is the best written in all of the series. It is this exact scene that so encapsulates who Picard is, what his goals are, and it’s perfection. Stewarts acting is top notch as he melts from anger to laughter to sobbing in the span of a few minutes. And it all lands so well. My favorite line is “So my brother is human after all”. Commenting on the way Picard carries himself and strives to be more than what he is, a man. I get chills everytime I see this, and anyone who watches this after my recommendation agrees how great this episode is. Countless times I’ve been binging this with a new viewer and the episode pops up “Family” and I get a line like ‘Oh great.’ An hour later they are eating their words.

Thanks for sticking with me, try to go easy on me in the comments. I’ll get around to DS9 eventually but that will be much harder because I have a ton of feelings and attachment to that show and it’s going to be hard for me to present grounded reasons why I rank episodes so highly. Can I really justify putting the Star Trek Bond episode in the Top 10? Probably.

Ravingnerd Top 10: Star Trek TOS

Hey everyone! It’s Ravingnerd here. I have not been active on here in forever, and that probably won’t change with this flurry of posts. I just had to get this idea out into the open, finally.

I have long been asked to list out my favorite episodes from each Star Trek series. I figured I would start at the beginning. Well not the beginning of the lore, but where it all began. I figure I’ll touch them all in release order. I will probably skip the Animated Series, unless people really want me to rank those episodes as well. Trust me, the series is too good to skip and it is the quickest watch.

Honorable Mentions:

This might be a bit of a copout, but I have two Honorable Mentions.

  1. The Cage

How could it not be the Cage? The original unaired pilot that first introduced Captain Pike to the franchise. This has to have an honorary position, as this was almost it. It almost died with this one episode, which is a shame. Because the episode is very, very solid. It’s clearly a pilot and rough around the edges. But I would considered it a much better episode than the Man Trap or Charlie X. The standout of the episode is definitely Jeffrey Hunter that has a standout performance as Captain Pike. It really is too bad he didn’t make it through, as he was not cast again during the Menagerie, and tragically died just a few years after that.

2. Space Seed

Yep. Probably the most controversial placing on the list. Space Seed is a solid episode, it introduces us to Khan Noonian Singh plaid by the incomparable Ricardo Montalban. It has some great action sequences, and actually beats out an episode I think is much better, Devil in the Dark. For all that strengths that episode has people tend not to see passed the bad special effects and some big over-acting. There is less of both in Space Seed and it’s a tale that stands up even now. The problem is, the episode is just okay at the end. People’s nostalgia for the masterpiece that is Wrath of Khan blinds people to the episode, and I think makes them see it through Rose colored glasses. Get at me in the comments I guess.

Now for the official Top Ten. These are in loose order, but the further the episode is down the list, the better I believe it to be. Again these are my opinions, and everyone will have their own preferences. And I hope that we can have a dialogue and discuss our opinions.

10. The Tholian Web

This episode is only here due to how iconic the episode has become. The Tholian’s continue to be mentioned across the lore in subsequent series, and the Tholian “web” has an iconic place in pop culture. Additionally, this episode features command being taken over by Spock and McCoy and their constant back and forth is an utter delight. It is another highlight in the Third Season, and it has had an indelible touch on the fabric of the franchise since it’s debut.

9. Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

This episode always makes me smile. Not only is it one of the absolute campiest episodes in the series, it is a highlight in the slog that is the Third Season. It features prominent guest actor Frank Gorshin (The Riddler, in Batman 66). The episode is so on the nose, it doesn’t try to hide it. A race hates each other because one of them is black on the left and white on the right, and vice versa. It’s campy, overacted, and yet surprisingly human. The final revelation that their home planet is in flames, and that they are the last two left is a genuine shock. When Kirk asks them to put their differences aside due to the obvious destruction it has caused and the futility of it, they simply ask to be beamed down to the smoldering ruins of their home to continue killing each other. It’s a gut wrenching ending, and sadly is as relevant now as it was when it aired.

8. The Doomsday Machine

This episode is a doozy. Commodore Decker is a hoot and a half, and he tension between the Captain and Commodore is very real and very tense. On top of that the Doomsday Machine (basically a giant space cigar) is genuinely terrifying. The multiple tensions keep building until it all hits a head at the end of the episode. When the crew relieves Decker and ignores his protocol it is a brilliant turn by the crew and cast. This episode is also a shining example of one of my favorite tropes in early (and indeed all Trek), that of the evil admiral. I could go on in depth about it, and maybe I will, but Trek has a long history with evil, corrupt, and dangerous authority figures. They have to be there so that we can have conflict with our Captains. Decker is not only corrupt but is deliciously mad. It’s a wonderful episode.

7. Mirror, Mirror

It may be tired at this point, but the episode that introduces the “Dark Timeline” cannot be ignored. The episode has been memed to death because of Mirror Spock’s beard. Which is fine, it has helped cement the episode, and Trek in the public eye. Seeing the wildly different persona’s of the Mirror cast is a delight, and I love watching he real crew quickly figure out that Mirror Kirk is not the one they know. The real legacy of this episode, I feel is, that the Mirror Universe has endured. Appearing in TOS, DS9, ENT, DSC, and in many other mediums. The dark side of the universe we love continues to amuse us, particularly, as it looks more and more like the universe we live in today. I feel in a way it serves as a become of what we could become if we listen to our base instincts. Sorry to get all political, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Trek went there.

6. The Trouble With Tribbles

I am going to be honest, I am placing this episode this low because I don’t know where my love for it, and the DS9 episode Trials and Tribblations end. Which enhances the lore of the episode. The lovable Tribbles make their franchise debut, and that’s really the rub of it. It does have a great fight between the Klingons and Scotty, especially as the fight only happens after the Klingons insult the Enterprise, not because they insulted Kirk. There is the rogue trader Cyrano Jones who is lovable and memorable in his own right, even if I sometimes get him mixed up with Harry Mudd. I’ve gotten flack for ranking this so highly, but I believe that it shows that Trek can be, and should be fun at times.

5. Journey to Babel

Many gloss over this episode, but as someone who is very interested in the operation and founding of the United Federation Planets. This episode is full of a bunch of firsts. The first appearances of Sarek and Amanda Greyson. The first appearances of Federation stalwart member races in the Andorians and Tellarites. If all of this history wasn’t enough to make this episode noteworthy, it’s a fun murder mystery in space. The clashes between the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites are iconic and led to some great moments in future series’. When you can point to an episodes definitive impact on the legacy of Trek, it deserves to be remembered.

4. The Enterprise Incident

Another strong episode in the Third Season that stands out. This is another fantastic appearance of the Romulans, and has a nice will they won’t they between Spock and the Romulan Commander. This episode really highlights the threat the Romulans pose, and by breaking with orders and going into the Neutral Zone the Enterprise is taking a huge risk. It’s a high stakes mission to steal a Romulan cloaking device, and it works in the end. For a time. The Romulan Commander mentions that it is a fleeting win. Which turns out to be true as apart of their conditions of neutrality the Federation must stop experimenting or using a Cloaking Device. It’s wonderfully thrilling, and leaves you wondering how the crew is going to make it out in one piece.

3. Arena

What isn’t to like about this episode? It is featured in the opening of the Coneheads movie! That aside, this episode is also incredibly iconic. The first appearance of the Gorn and the Godlike Metron’s. It also features Kirk using Kirk-Fu to his best abilities to fend off the powerful Gorn Captain. He eventually succeeds, despite the taunts of the Gorn crew to the Enterprise Crew. Kirk eventually uses knowledge from Space Boy Scouts to make a Diamond Cannon and slay the enemy Captain. It’s a short description, but that’s all I have to say. This episode is amazing.

2. The Balance of Terror

The first appearance of the Romulans doesn’t disappoint. As the Romulan Centurion and Kirk play cat and mouse in an intense battle that emulates submarine conflicts. There is a also the added wrinkle that the Romulans look a ton like Spock, and are all the more suspicious of their Vulcan first officer. This episode is thrilling. It still leaves me on the edge of my seat after every viewing.

  1. Spock’s Brain

Ha! Gotcha!

  1. City on the Edge of Forever

How could it be any other episode? Sure this is one of the most talked about and praised episodes in the entire Original Series, and it’s because it was well earned. I know legendary Harlan Ellison was credited as the writer, but the episode we got was very far removed from the material he originally wrote, and he ended up resenting this work. Despite that wrinkle, it is truly the best. McCoy accidently injects a substance that makes him go mad, and he runs through and Iconian Portal into the past. Kirk and Spock lose contact with the Enterprise, and they are told by the Guardian of the Portal that McCoy Changed history. Spock and Kirk are allowed to go fix the timeline. Kirk cozies up with Nurse Keeler and eventually falls in love. However Spock reveals, that she has to die in a hit and run, or else the timeline is doomed. Kirk eventually has to watch the woman he loves die and stop McCoy from saving her. It’s tragic, iconic, and utterly perfect.

The state of the Grid

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It’s Morphin Time! I can never heart that enough. The MMPR book from Kyle Higgins has consistantly been one of the best books on the shelf. It is a more grown up, and darker take on the classic series. As an adult now, I like that. To a point. I drifted away from full time readership of the book a year or so ago, preferring the more laid back Go Go Power Rangers. Plus the art on that book, by Dan Mora is incredible. Yet I am not here to talk about which book is better, I am here to go over the events of the last two issues of Shattered Grid. This event is sensational and way too good for a Power Ranger fan to miss. That said, the book is sold out all over the place, so there is a chance you have missed it.

The basic premise follows a story that Higgins has been building since the start of his series. It follows the evil Lord Drakkon. Drakkon is an evil Tommy Oliver from a universe where he never broke control from Rita. Together they destroyed the Rangers and conquered Earth. He then claimed it for himself. His power is the combination of the Green and White Ranger Powers. Shattered Grid follows Drakkon as he invades all the timelines, thanks to help from Ninjor (who he conned). That is where we begin my retelling. I will also be updating every week as new teams are introduced/defeated. So jump down to the bottom if you want to see how your favorite Rangers have fared against the universes greatest evil.

Drakkon Wins

As expected, full spoilers after this point. So Black Alert is active!

Shattered Grid opens with Wes and Jen of the Timefore Rangers talking about an unstable temporal opening. They expect it is quite dire and send Jen in just before it closes. They share a heart felt moment with each other, which should warm any fans heart. The issues ends with the unthinkable. Drakkon stabbing Tommy through the heart just after the conclusion of his and Kimberly’s first date. Jen attempts to stop Drakkon, but is hurt in the process. Fast Forward to the newest issue and we find out that Tommy has indeed died. WHAT?!? Clearly we know things will change for the better, but taking the greatest Ranger off the table has completely shattered the timeline. Go figure. The Rangers spend much of the issue grieving, which is something pretty foreign to Power Rangers. Including a crying Jason taking on the Dragon Crest. They have a chat with the now healed Jen, and we find out that the multiple timelines are indeed in trouble. Thanks to some quick engineering from Billy, they are able to tap into a temporal transporter. Just in time, as Drakkon invades the Samurai timeline.

Lauren is the Red Ranger of the team, so we don’t have to deal with Jayden, arguably the worst Red Ranger. The Samurai Ranges put up a good fight, but gain very little from it. In a heroic moment, Kevin throws up a shield protecting Lauren from a devastating blast. As a side note, it was a blast to see Higgins write Kevin so well. Kevin is then caught, but Lauren remains. The Rangers show up just as Drakkon and his forces are securing the Shiba home. They confront a troop of Black Ranger Sentries and rescue Lauren. The issue ends with Drakkon gaining Samurai powers, and a new costume to go with it. The Samurai Rangers are detained and their morphers confiscated.

Next week is the MMPR Annual, which looks set to feature the Rangers from RPM, Dino Thunder, Dino Charge, and the In Space Rangers. Check out next week for how everyone else fares. For now, here are the lists:

Killed in Action:
Tommy Oliver: MMPR Green Ranger

Apprehended:
Kevin: Samurai Blue Ranger
Mia Watanabe: Samurai Pink Ranger
Mike: Samurai Green Ranger
Emily: Samurai Yellow Ranger
Antonio Garcia: Samurai Gold Ranger

Active:
Jason Scott: MMPR Red Ranger
Kimberly Heart: MMPR Pink Ranger
Billy Cranston: MMPR Blue Ranger
Zach Taylor: MMPR Black Ranger
Trini Kwan: MMPR Yellow Ranger
Jen Scotts: Time Force Pink Ranger
Lauren Shiba: Samurai Red Ranger (second)

Status Unknown:
Wes Collins: Time Force Red Ranger
Lucas Kendall: Time Force Blue Ranger
Katie Walker: Time Force Yellow Ranger
Trip: Time Force Green Ranger
Eric Meyers: Time Force Quantum Ranger

Stay tuned next week, as I update on the new events and update the KIA, Apprehended, Active, and Unknown lists. Until the next time. May the Power Protect you.

 

 

End of an Era

allred

By the time this is posted, I will have read Action Comics 1000. However, by the time of writing this we are a day away. I have already voiced my opinions on Brian Michael Bendis and his unfortunate control over the entire Superman family. That said, as this new era for Superman begins I would like to look back at some of my favorite Superman stories of all time. I doubt that anything out of Bendis’ run comes close to challenging this list, but I might be surprised. I probably won’t. With that said, here we go.

allstar

All Star Superman

This book is quite literally the best Superman book ever published and can challenge for best comic of all time. The animated movie failed to hit the mark (mostly because they cut 6 chapters of the book out entirely. It also is incredibly hard to translate Frank Quietly’s art into film. That isn’t really any fault of the film. This book is a master piece, that can’t really get its message across outside of the comic. That makes this book all the better. Look I could spend all day writing about this book. I really could, but give it a read for yourself if you haven’t. If you have, maybe read it once more to remind yourself the standards Bendis has in front of him.

Action 775

Action Comics 775

The inspiration for Superman vs the Elite, a surprisingly good adaption of the story. This book answers the age old question, why shouldn’t Superman kill? While several decades old at this point, the book is still relevant today. Especially with the likes of Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice, and Justice League mucking up the collective conscious of the character. This book shows us what happens if Superman does cross that line. Needless to say, it isn’t a pretty picture. Unlike the films, this book does a 180 and shows that all of this was masterfully choreographed to show why Superman does what he does. Why he is what he is. This book brings about one of my favorite things about Superman. He is inspired by people. While the non powered society looks at him as the beacon of hope, he sees that beacon right back at us. That is why he protects us. And that is why he doesn’t cross that line. A truly beautiful story.

Lara

Superman Birthright

This book absolutely deserves to be in the running for best Superman story. It tops All Star as best on several of my friend’s list.  While this book is fantastic in its own right, it is what it does different that sets it apart from the rest. Much of the Superman mythos is defined by Jor El. It wasn’t until Birthright that Lara achieved the same level of reverence that Jor gets. Turning is mom from a spectator into a bad ass in her own right. Truly something that should have done decades ago.

Final

The Final Days of Superman

A new entry onto the list, and one that has now been written out with the Superman Reborn plotline. This book came out at the right time. Just before Rebirth, Superman was made the most relevant he ever was during the New 52. He was plagued by bad writing, and inconsistent approaches. Yet Peter Tomasi knew what he wanted to do, and made a modern day All Star. Any story that has Superman die apparently has to be made into film, and an animated adaptation of this is on its way already. This story is full of heart, character, and emotion. After years of languishing as a character, Tomasi finally gave him his own voice and readied readers for better times to come. I am still sad to see him go. He is almost single handedly responsible for the multiple years of success.

Superman wallpaper

Kingdom Come

This story is famous for a lot of reasons. It ended the 90’s hyper extremism. It is another fabulous book by Mark Waid. It is impeccably crafted by Alex Ross. It also asks the question of what happens in a world with Superman. What happens if he just gives up. That answer is nothing good. This book explores Clark as he attempts to come to sense with the changing world. It demonstrates just what Superman means to the world, and manages to do so without killing him. I always point this book out to people who like an ‘edgier Superman’. This is as close as you get, and he still never once crosses the line. This book is just a masterpiece from top to bottom. Especially good, as it showcases an insane amount of DC’s pantheon of heroes.

Civ 6 Rise and Fall: Scotland Pt 2

Robert_the_Bruce_promo_art_(Civ6)

Time to recap what ended up being a very busy Classical Era. For part 1 you can read here. Once again, this is on a Europe TSL Map. I am on Prince, as I attempt to navigate Robert the Bruce to victory. On my to do list for this era was to settle Ireland, make a Golden Age, and develop my cities. Some of those worked out.

I chose Monumentality as my age dedication, and it paid dividends. My Campus’ were immediately finished after the age started. I followed it up with a Harbor in London. I then finished building the Temple of Artemis in 1160. I set my tech track to make sure I got to embarking as fast as I could. I built a few of the early Galley’s and found Ireland. To my surprise, the island was littered with local tribes. I would have to fight them for control of it. It proved to be a daunting task. The army I used to conquer London, was no match for the Irish. I tucked my tail between my legs and retreated. I had to look elsewhere for my expansion. It was at this time that my navy found Poland and Norway. It was 500 BC. Not a turn later, they both launched a joint war with me. To no surprise, nothing happened, and I ended up peacing out with both of them to a benefit of some money in 75 BC. Also of note, was what I called the French/Spanish Cold War. The War started in 725 BC, and was still going at the conclusion of the age. I was the first to unlock new governments, and chose Classical Republic. The boost in Great Person points boosted me to the Great Prophet Siddhartha Guatama. I chose to found the custom Religion of Scotch. I chose Work Ethic (+1 Production per follower) and Meeting Houses (+3 Faith, +2 Production). This will bolster my production from my unique benefits, and will help me better secure my planned science victory.

Scotch

Stirling’s population was so excellent that I was able to put up a +3 Theatre Square which triggered an historic moment. To keep Food up, I assigned Magnus there to ensure I would have enough population to build an Industrial Zone. Fortunately for me, a few turns later I triggered another historic moment for having the worlds most populous city. The era score from this guaranteed I would end up in a Golden Age. Adding to my score was the help of Several Great People. I recruited the Great Scientists, Aryabhata, Hypatia, Euclid, and Omara Kayyam. Joining these great folks were The Great Admiral Gaiaus Dilius, and the Great Writer Byasan. The latter of which would be the cause of some problems in the future.

With the Golden Age secured, I set about expanding my borders. What better way to do that than by settling Ireland. I sent out the army that defeated Victoria to claim the land for myself. I was met with hostilities by the natives, and their overwhelming numbers destroyed most of my forces. It was clear that I would need better units, and more of them, if I was to conquer them. Instead, I turned towards Europe. Peter the Great was not in the game, and that left Russia wide open. I sent the Settlers who I thought would home on Ireland that way. The pilgrimage to a new land was on its way. As the Era winded to a close, I took care of a few more things. Haddington was able to build a fishery and get food back on track thanks to a promotion to Liang. I also finished up an Encampment District in London. However, I purchased a tile in France to do so. If we ever came to blows, I would have a small foothold to aide me.

Golden Age

I ended the Era with an Era Score of 47, surpassing the needed number 44 to secure my Golden Age. My Golden Age Dedication was Free Inquiry, turning my Eureka and Civic boosts by 10%. It also increased the Gold from Harbors and Commercial Hubs. This was not the focus, at the rate I was churning out Great Scientists, it seemed only fair to pair them with this ability. With that in mind I had a few goals for the next round. Expand the Empire, Defend against my enemies, and continue developing internally. If the chance arose, I would also like to build a new army so that I could bring Ireland to heel.

That was my age. I hope you are enjoying my coverage, and more importantly that you are enjoying Civ 6 Rise and Fall.

Star Trek Adventures: To Boldy Go

STA

Most readers of mine should know by now that I am a huge fan of Star Trek. As such, I have really enjoyed playing Modiphius’ Star Trek Adventures Role playing Game. It is a refreshingly different system from what I am used too. It is also about the only universe that I can creatively come up with new campaign ideas for. That or a DCU RPG. I recently started a new campaign with a new crew (mostly) and have made a new setting for it.

The setting. I have the game set in 2498. Roughly 20 years after the Dominion War. I am rejecting the Star Trek Online timeline, and am not treating the events of the Kelvin Universe movies (thus Romulus is fine). Additionally, I am skipping over most of Nemesis. I recognize the Reman’s as existing, but will not be using them in any of my currently planned sessions. The state of the Galaxy is still one of fragility. The Alpha Quadrant is in a state of rebuilding. The Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Star Empire are in a state of mutual cooperation for the first time in their history. The Klingon’s and Federation particularly enjoying prosperity. With Emperor Martok and Ambassador Worf, the two governments are close friends. After spending two decades teetering between pro and anti Federation leanings, the new Romulan Praetor N’ral is very much pro UFP. The Breen have taken advantage of much of this rebuilding phase, taking away much of what was formerly Cardassian space. The Cardassian’s are firmly under Federation protection, devastated by the Dominion. They are still a proud people, and vow to regain their territory in time. The Bajoran’s have joined the Federation officially. The Orion’s are up to their normal selves, while the Nausicaan’s have appeared more organized than in the past. The Ferengi remain themselves, selling to the highest bidder and engaging in small level piracy. The Gorn Hegemony have been moving away from isolationism to expansionism. Their ultimate goal is not yet known.

Akira Class

It is far from the bleak future that Star Trek Online presents. The main ship is the USS Challenger. An Akira class ship that is serving as the flagship of the Beta Quadrant. It will address concerns of both the Federation, Romulan’s, and Klingon’s. It is the first symbol of unified peace between the three powers. The Captain is a recently promoted Captain Jonah’Thann Athruin. An Andorian who was serving as the X-0 of the USS Phoenix and patrolling the borders of the Breen. He was instrumental in protecting N’Ral from an assassination plot and ensuring he was elected Praetor. He also heroically saved not only his ship on multiple occasions but the members of Space Station Delta 3. The commander of whom is Jonah’s older brother, Captain Rihan

His Executive Officer is Lily Zhang a veteran by the book human. She specifically chose this assignment to monitor and guide the new Captain. She has an interesting family life. Married to a Tellarite who is a member of the crew (and her subordinate). The Lieutenant Commander is Jianna Izo. A peaceful Betazoid. She is very protective of all life, and very quick to help out her allies and enemies. Her goal is the preservation of all life. At security is Lieutenant Soran. A Vulcan who is very concerned about the safety of the crew. Like most Vulcan’s he is methodical and strives to keep the Captain honest. Finally the helmsman is Ensign Lesley Nusher. A young human who is a particularly deft pilot. He is no slouch on the Comm’s either.

I have lots in store for this crew and am looking forward to seeing where they journey. We have several sessions already finished, and I can’t wait to share with you. Let me know if you have gotten your chance on Star Trek Adventures. If anyone would like me to provide them with more information about my campaign setting, I would be more than happy to do so for a small fee.

Civ 6 Rise and Fall: Scotland Playthrough Pt 1

Robert_the_Bruce_promo_art_(Civ6)

Hi there everyone. I will admit this is not the account of my first foray into Rise and Fall. I launched a game just after the expansion dropped. Unfortunately, I was unable to play for several months. Mostly due to work and trying to get the several Fantasy Baseball league’s I’m in up and running. Finally I was able to sit down and put some time into playing the game. I will be reporting on all upcoming Civ 6 games in terms of era’s. So this post will focus on the Ancient Era, and so on. So let’s get to it.

First, the set up. As the title suggests, I am playing Scotland which I previewed months ago. Finally, I decided to play on one of the new maps, TSL Europe. This not only makes Europe much larger, but gave me some extra land mass before bumping into England, which was vital. I am playing on Prince as I am still a novice to all the mechanics that this game has going on. Plus it has been so long since I have gotten a chance to play. TSLE comes set with a standard list of 8 civs, all of which based out of Europe. To add a little extra difficulty, I made sure that one of them was England.

So lets get to it. My first city of Stirling is towards the Northern end of the England land mass. As was expected. I churned out a slinger before moving on to a builder to start the game. I then met England, and was determined to take her out before the era was up. After that, I developed another Warrior and another Slinger. I then turned right around into a Settler. I then settled Haddington on the central coast of the landmass. This ensured that I choked England off from a meaningful settlement. I then locked into another Warrior in that city, while plotting another builder in Stirling. Finally after Archery was discovered. I upgraded the southern most slinger into an Archer, while saving my money and not developing the other one. It hung out up North and dealt with an English Scout and Slinger.

England fell fairly swiftly. I moved both warriors past the river to avoid a combat penalty. While my archer remained north of it to act as an extra defense. The archer took shots at the city while my warriors took turns attacking the city and healing. My goal was to pre-occupy Victoria while my other warrior finished. Once done, it moved south and finished the job. Not only was it fully healed, but it moved in and secured a siege. This prevented London from healing. The next turn the warrior was able to move in and secure the capture. Victoria was no ore. Score one for Scotland. The English continent was under Scottish control in 2500 BC. I then set developing my infrastructure.

Dead Victoria

Thanks to a recently captured London, I founded a Pantheon in the English Holy Site. I chose City Patron Goddess. This would increase production on my first Districts built in each city. I had this planned out to help me boost era score the next age. I recruited Liang the Surveyor as governor of Haddington. I had my eyes on getting a fishery, which would help with food production drastically. I also recruited Reyna the Financier to make London my financial hub. I also built the Hanging Gardens in 1700 BC

That was it. I failed to make a Golden Age, but I did manage 18 of of 22 towards a Golden Age. This put me firmly in a normal age and within striking distance of a Golden Age the next era. I chose Monumentality, to give me era score per District built. Now that London was mine, that would be my next focus. With a booming population in Stirling, it would be easy to do. The era ended at 1220 BC. And as planned, I had a Campus in Stirling and Haddngton close to finishing at the time the age passed. Just before the end of the era I met both Spain and France. Meaning half of the Civilizations had been discovered.

Pretty eventful as far as Ancient era’s go. I am normally a very passive player, but I refused to allow London to develop any more. And spawning on such a tiny landmass, it was vital that I take Victoria out. My basic plan was to move to Ireland next. Given the updated size for the map, I expect two cities can co-habitate there really well. Look for part two in the next few days.

Pokemon Omega Ruby Nuzlocke Part 1

Omega Ruby

Hey there! In my free time I recently decided to play the one Pokemon game I never put much time into. Omega Ruby. I restarted the campaign and full on embraced the Nuzlocke run. So I figured I would recap my experience. This would be my second time doing this type of run, and my first time through broke me emotionally. So I am doing things a little different this time around. Here is the rule set I am running with.

No items. I am only using berries as I can get them naturally. I do not use in Poke’mart items.
Only the first Pokemon in each area can be caught and used. Nothing else.
No Experience Share. It really is a huge handicap, and playing without it is nostalgic.
I am using Wonder Trades, which is generally a no go, but it adds an element of fun to the game. My rule set is a roulette one. I can trade a Pokemon I catch on Wonder Trade, and then trade the received Pokemon up until the 6th Pokemon. Then I am locked in to that Pokemon.
And, as standard, any Pokemon that faints for any reason is released. It’s where the true challenge comes in.

I started off transferring a couple Pokemon to start my team off with. A level 1 Eevee and a level 1 Ryhorn. I then selected Mudkip as my starter. The first catch of the game was a Poochyena with Fire Fang. Things were starting off well. I caught a Taillow and Seedot to round out my team. My first loss came on route 116. Lass April’s Marill felled my level 10 Poochyena (Nicknamed Shade). I replaced her on my party with Saizo the Nincada, and figured if I could get him up to level 20 I would end up with an additional Pokemon to use (or just Wonder Trade Shedinja). I breezed through the first two gyms.

Lass

Why April, why?!?

Saizo was felled on route 103 by Twins Liz and Amy. He was level 16. I wonder traded the Wingul I had caught and on try 4 I got a Charmander. Score! Yet after this loss, I spent several days just grinding experience. After my grind session I blew past the Western half of the Hoenn region and I suffered no setbacks. I realized I was in a whole new ballpark when I landed on the Eastern half of the region. This is where I traded in Talon the Swellow, for the free Latios that the game gives you. The psychic/dragon was too much for me to resist. With my Ryhorn I was easily able to defeat Wynona. I now walk the long walk to Lilycove.

My team so far is this
Mr Kitty. The Level 36 Leafion (he evolved at level 8 in Petalberg Woods).
Apollo the Level 36 Latios.
Flora the Level 36 Nuzlocke (it seems fitting).
Ishmael the Level 37 Swampert.
Rihan the Level 37 Ryhorn.
And my level 38 Charizard (came with no nickname).

I am hoping to make this a two part series, but if I suffer significant setbacks I may make a third part.

Let me know what you think, and any horror stories you might have from your own personal Nuzlocke runs.