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Month

November 2013

The Daily D4

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Today’s installment of The Daily D4 brings a few more Heroclix as items, as well as one that is only related to superheroes. I think I might be a bit obsessed at the moment.

The Bioshock Infinite Heroclix Starter Set

Based on the extremely popular Bioshock Infinite game this starter set includes six fully painted figures from the actual game, a set of dice, maps, and an explanation of all the Heroclix rules. I’ve actually played Bioshock Infinite and if you haven’t tried it out yet it’s definitely worth giving it a look. The reason I wound up purchasing this set was to give it to my friend Sebastian as an early Christmas present in the hopes of getting him to enjoy the game as much as I do. He opened it up this evening and played his first ever game of Heroclix, which I did record and it will be one of our next podcasts in the near future.

The figures play really well and they have a wide range of abilities. They all have a wide variety of useful abilities that work with a variety of styles of play, but I have to say one of the most impressive ones is the handyman. I was a bit disappointed to see that the dice for the set are just plain black d6s rather than something like the ones included the Avengers vs. the X-Men starter sets. If you’ve got friends who aren’t that into superheroes but they’re video game lovers I recommend getting them this set.

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Teen Titans Ravagers Heroclix Set

Beast Boy is one of my favorite comic book characters, so when I saw this set at my friendly local gaming store I felt the need to scoop it up. Like most sets it comes with several painted figures, but don’t confuse them with the classic Teen Titans.

Fairchild starts out as a clever and stealthy fighter then transforms into a powerhouse halfway through her dial, Thunder and Lightning are and effective duo of powerful ranged combatants, Beast Boy is able to switch between a wide variety of powers making him a highly adaptable melee fighter, Ridge is your big tough melee fighter and he looks like a dinosaur which makes him even cooler, and Terra’s ability to use quake at a range makes her a really useful piece for breaking up mobs.

Now, I probably wouldn’t recommend this for a first set if you’re trying to start out with Heroclix for a couple of reasons. The set doesn’t come with any dice or action tokens so you’ll have to make do with materials you have on hand. However this collection is less expensive than most of the other sets I’ve seen so if you’re looking for a great team on a budget this is worth considering.

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Mutants and Mastermind’s 3rd Edition Gamemaster’s Guide

I participated in the secret Santa over at Critical Failures this year and I just got my gift, my very own copy of the Mutants and Mastermind’s 3rd Edition Gamemaster’s Guide. I’ve been without one despite the fact that I’ve run campaigns using this system for years. Unlike the player’s handbook the guide focuses on building campaigns, worlds, allies, and adversaries for your heroes to face. With hundreds of pages of material I can’t give a detailed description without taking up too much time, but I will mention a few of my favorite features.

The villainous archetypes section is an interesting read and it’s also pretty inspiring. Covering everything from gun-totting assassins and mind controlling warlords robotic renegades and evil elementals there are all sorts of bad guys you can alter to fit into your campaign. This section also includes a detailed description of what their motivations might be, their potential tactics in combat, and the sort of crimes they might carry out.

Villainous lairs a big part of most heroic adventures. Whether you’re storming Doctor Doom’s castle in Latveria or tracking the Joker through a maze of mirrors in the abandoned circus he’s been using as a hideout they’re a great setting for a climactic battle with a major villain. There’s a detailed section towards the end of the book that gives descriptions and maps for several different sorts of headquarters where you’re villains can go to hand up their death rays after a long day of pillaging the earth.

Lastly the NPC section is something that I think players can get a lot out of as well as gamemaster’s. It includes an extensive list of creatures such as skeletons, giant insects, soldiers, civilians, criminals, and ordinary animals that can be ready to step into a campaign at a moment’s notice. The creatures all include their minion level so if you want to whip up a new creature to summon all you have to do is find one that fits you level and theme.

It’s an entertaining and insightful piece of work that I find myself reading for the sheer joy of it. I’ve already been inspired to create a few new villains for my current M&M campaign. If you’re thinking about running one of you’re own you should definitely pick this book up.

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The Daily D4

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Today I have three great things to talk about in the Daily D4, and yes I am still crazy about Heroclix so they’ll be getting some more attention this time around.

The Avengers vs. The X-Men Heroclix, The Avengers Starter Set

Last week I took part in my first organized Heroclix tournament, and it was so much fun I’m planning to take part in another event this Tuesday. This time the event focuses on the Avengers vs. The X-Men comic series produced by Marvel comics a while ago. Players will join forces and team up to see who will emerge victorious. Both of the new starter sets being released in anticipation of the event are fantastic and I couldn’t pick just one to write about. So I’m going to write about both of them instead.

I chose the Avengers because I prefer the characters that are included in it. The set comes with six Heroclix; Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and the Scarlet Witch. It also includes a set of the rules for the game, a quick reference guide for all of the powers, a double sided map featuring Stark Tower as well as Utopia, custom dice bearing the Avenger’s logo, action tokes with various Avenger’s portraits on them, and of course an assortment of objects. The set was a bit of an investment but it seems like a great way to get back into the game, and it comes with everything you need to play.

Thor is probably the most powerful figure in the set, dealing five damage on his first click he has all of the powers you expect the god of thunder to command. The rest of the set is just as good though. The Scarlet Witch has probability control and the ability to force opponents to re-roll an attack any time she’s struck, making her very hard to bring down. Captain America is an unstoppable combatant with incredible durability, powerful attacks, and fantastic abilities. Iron Man can fly, shoot, and outwit anything that crosses his path. Spider-Man is a great melee fighter with plenty of powers to weaken his opponents, and the fact that he gains willpower late in his dial means he’ll fight to the bitter end. Wolverine is, of course, a ferocious figure who can tear through just about anything you put in front of him if he isn’t dealt with carefully.

I picked mine up at a friendly local gaming store called the Geekadrome, which is the same place that I just played Heroclix. I can’t wait to put it to use next week and I’ll be sure to let you guys know how my Avenger’s fare.

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The Avengers vs. The X-Men Heroclix, The X-Men Starter Set

The X-Men starter set includes everything that the Avengers set does, but it’s all geared towards a team of mutants struggling to survive on a tabletop world that hates and fears them. The roster for this kit is comprised of Cyclops, Colossus, Magik, Namor, Emma Frost, and Magneto. It also includes action tokens marked with X-Men characters, a set of custom dice emblazoned with their trademark X, object tokens, and a double sided map.

I haven’t seen these figures in action yet, but I will say their powers scare me. Especially Colossus. His ability to rip a Sentinel in half and cast it aside like an old soda can might not be flashy but they certainly get the job done. I think that the major advantage this set has over the Avenger’s is each of its characters abilities differ pretty radically from the rest without too much crossover. It’s difficult to adapt to your opponent’s strategy when they can alter it at the drop of a hat.

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The Play’s The Thing

I stopped by Phantom Games today as well,yes I went to two game stores in one day please don’t judge me, and I picked up a copy of The Play’s The Thing a product of Magpie Games. This is a storytelling game where players transform the immortal works of Shakespeare into something strange and new. Imagine of if Macbeth had murdered his wife Desdemona, or if Romeo had fallen in love with Juliet’s mother. The Playwright must incorporate these elements into the play and you all work together to help it develop over a two to three hour period. It seems like a really interesting game, and it reminds me of Fiasco only a bit more fun since it has the Shakespearean twist to it.

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The Out of Character Podcast

So some of you might have noticed there hasn’t been a new podcast for a few weeks, the reason behind that is that Jade lost her job a while ago and I just haven’t had the time to produce anything new for it since then. Things are calming down a bit now and I’m planning to get back to making episodes in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled because with any luck I’ll be able to have an new episode up in the next week or so, then weekly episodes will resume.

The Daily D4

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After a prolonged absence the Daily D4 is making its triumphant return. Lats night I took part in my first ever sealed Heroclix tournament at the friendly local gaming store. It was really fun and I enjoyed participating in it quite a bit, I’m even thinking about going back to take part in the team finale next week. Since I’m in a bit of Heroclix mood at the moment I thought I’d devote this installment of the Daily D4 to Heroclix that I encountered last night.

 

Rictor

One of the first choices I made for my 300 point team was Rictor, based on the X-Force member with seismic powers. He’s a solid ranged attacker capable of unleashing a powerful quake when the need arises. His defensive abilities also make it difficult to hit from any kind of distance so if you pair him up with a melee fighter you can protect him for the entire match. Another benefit to Rictor is that he is a lot sturdier than some of the other ranged specialists out there and as he takes damage he gains willpower. That means that he can take an extra action without taking pushing damage. We were playing on a map of the Canadian wilderness so I always said that when Rictor used his ranged attack his trying to bring the mountain down on the heads of the enemy.

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Flatman

The two-dimensional member of The Great Lakes Avengers is a fantastic choice for a very small point investment. He has the ability to use outwit on any character whose point total is 100 or less, meaning that you can negate one of the powers of an opposing figure at the right moment. Since there are plenty of figures whose totals are within that range it’s also something that you can find yourself using a lot. His plasticity makes it difficult for other characters caught in melee with him to escape, and he has the ability to ignore walls while making his movements.

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Legion

Legion was the highest costing figure on my four man team, and he was worth every single point. He has a ton of abilities including outwit, probably control, toughness, and many more making him a potent figure in any match. Since he can fly he can carry other figures around the board depositing them where they’re abilities can be best employed. My favorite thing about him is the mechanic that they came up with the handle his multiple personalities. Legion has many personalities and each of them have a different superpower, to pull that off you roll a d6 at the start of each turn and gain a different ability based on that roll. Some are really good and increase your abilities, others can make the figure less effective so it keeps things interesting.

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M

M was actually in the team I faced in my first match, she was also one of the toughest characters I encountered that night. Aside from her enormous defensive abilities, which make her extremely difficult to injure, she also has the ability to outwit other characters abilities and deals huge amount of damage. Best of all she heals herself for one click of damage at the start of each turn so even if someone manage to knock her down a peg she has the potential to come right back.

 

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The Daily D4

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Sorry that this installment of the Daily D4 was delayed, going to the circus left me pretty tired and I didn’t want
post something that I had to rush through.

Invisible Castle

There are quite a few websites, apps, and programs that people to roll dice online but I’ve always preferred Invisible Castle. The website allows users to assign rolls to individual characters, make multiple rolls at the same time, and the layout of the site itself is very clean and simple. It’s a great tool for people who are involved in play-by-post games because it allows users to post their rolls and look them up later if they need to.

Website: http://invisiblecastle.com/

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Myth-Weavers

Myth-Weavers is a great website that hosts a online character sheets for more than thirty popular role playing game systems. It’s a great tool for players and game masters who are looking for a way to preserve copies of their character sheets for their campaigns. It also features a dungeon generator, an NPC generator, and a town generator. That great tools for game masters who find themselves without a lot of time on their hands. Why not make your game master’s life a bit easier and create a Myth-Weavers character sheet so that they can keep track of things a bit more easily?

Website: http://www.myth-weavers.com/forumhome.php

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Tsuro

A tile laying game where plays take turn setting down tiles marked with twisting paths on the board the follow those paths with their dragons. The goal of the game is to keep your dragon from flying off of the edge of the board, or crashing into one of the other player’s dragons for as long as possible. The player whose dragon is the last one remaining on the board wins. The game is easy to play, it has an extremely high replay value, and it can be played in about ten or fifteen minutes making it an excellent choice for a game night. It’s also one of the most attractive games that I’ve ever seen.

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The Daily D4

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I rolled a three today, which works because there are three things I’d really like to talk about.

Band of Zombies

Pittsburgh is a big zombie town. You can easily trip over a couple of zombies when you step out to put some gas in your car, which isn’t all that surprising considering that George Romero filmed Night of the Living Dead a short distance away from the city. All Flesh Must Be Eaten is an award winning survival/horror role playing game that focuses on zombies. There are lots of games that dwell on terrifying their plays and making them think that death is lurking just around the corner, but All Flesh Must Be Eaten is one of the only ones that allow the zombies to take center stage.

Band of Zombies is a source book for All Flesh Must Be Eaten that was written by Jason Vey, a resident of Pittsburgh and a regular at Phantom Games. The book focuses the World War II era and includes a ton of great material for anyone looking to run a campaign during that period of time. A few of the things you’ll find inside are rules for mass combat, naval combat, optional tactical miniatures rules, and advice for running a WWII campaign. It also features the first complete highly detailed setting for the game.

I haven’t played All Flesh Must Be Eaten yet, but I’ll certainly be picking up Band of Zombies to give it a try. I’d also like to congratulate everyone who worked on the book and wish them luck in the coming zombie apocalypse.

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Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Dragons

Jade bought us tickets to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Dragons for my birthday a few months ago and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since. I drive past two billboards featuring an enormous dragon’s eye with the dates of the shows in Pittsburgh each and every day so my anticipation has been growing as they’ve crept closer and closer. The show is a lot like any other circus complete with acrobats, animal acts, clowns, and death defying stunts. However this circus has dragons, and as we all know everything is better with dragons. We’re going to see it tomorrow night so I’ll have more to share then but I think it’s going to be a great night.

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Dread Pirate

Dread Pirate pits up to four players against one another in a contest to see who has the nerve to become the most infamous pirate to ever sail the seven seas. I love this game. First, it comes in an attractive wooden case containing four metal pirate ships, an expansive map, four cloth bags to store loot, and a collection of treasure. The goal of the game is to sail between colonies collecting colored gems, and once your pirate has gathered one of each gem they can set sail for Dread Island to collect buried treasure. Players can choose to barter or battle with colonies so if you’d rather be a silver tongued sea dog than a bloody buccaneer that’s an option. Attacking the other player’s ships is also an option but it can be risky, making the rewards even better if your attack succeeds. At the end of the game the pirate with the most treasure wins and claims the title of Dread Pirate.

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Dresden Files City Creation: Places, Part One

Once you’ve come up with the basic themes and threats for your city the next phase of city creation is choosing locations to suite your campaign. If you actually live in, or have visited, the city where your campaign is taking place this can be a very entertaining experience. These are a few of the ideas that we came up with.

    Name:

Saint Antony’s Chapel

Description: A breathtaking chapel in Troy Hill with a collection of 4,000 to 5,000 holy relics.

Theme

The Idea: The relics housed by Saint Anthony’s provide a powerful arsenal to be used against certain supernatural predators.

The Aspect: Holy Relic Treasure Trove

Faces
Father Mallory Keeper of the Relics
Sister Rita Twice Burned Nun

    Name: Frick Park

Description: Pittsburgh’s largest regional park.

Theme

The Idea: Two major leylines intersect in Frick Park. The powerful magic draws many of Pittsburgh’s local practitioners to the area.

The Aspect: Enchanted Forest

The Face
Lawrence Simmons Half-Satyr Park Ranger

    Name: The Bluffs

Description: The neighborhood is mostly made up of law offices, a few restaurants, vacant storefronts, rundown bars, and parking lots.

Theme

The Idea: A once prosperous neighborhood that went to the dogs when much of the industry in Pittsburgh collapsed. Many residents are trying to restore the neighborhood to it’s former glory while others sit back watching it rot.

The Aspect: Urban Decay

Faces
Bobby Black Down on His Luck Wizard
Samantha Elan Civic Minded Public Defender

    Name: Mercy Hospital

Description: The oldest hospital in the entire city, Mercy is a Catholic care facility in the Uptown area. It offers a wide range of services and boasts an extensive facility.

Theme

The Idea: The doctors at Mercy Hospital are the first stop for anyone needing treatment who wants to avoid being asked too many questions. Criminals, junkies looking to score, and the victims of monstrous attacks all make frequent visits.

The Aspect: Revolving Door Policy

Faces
Brian Rey Disillusioned Surgeon
Jason Redhand Vampire Hunting EMT

    Name: Pitt University

Description: One hundred and thirty two acres of campus nestled in the Oakland neighborhood.

Threat

The Idea: Pitt students have a reputation for wild behavior and this attitude acts like a magnet to supernatural predators.

The Aspect: Institute of Lower Learning

Faces
Chad Burke Half-Troll Quarterback
Rachel Lance Campus Security Officer in the Know

    Name: The Renaissance Hotel

Description: A beautiful hotel in the downtown area.

Idea: The hotel is recognized as neutral territory by the supernatural powers of Pittsburgh.

Theme

Aspect Classic Architecture, Modern Amenities

Faces:
Oliver Dall No Nonsense Doorman
Sarah Raith White Court Chamber Maid

The Dresden Files City Creation: Creatures, Trolls

Since Pittsburgh has hundreds of bridges of varying sizes I thought that it would be a naturally place for trolls to congregate inf far greater numbers than almost anywhere else in the world. So here we have a description of trolls in the Dresden Files universe and a brief piece of fiction based on the work of Jim Butcher.

I opened one of the plastic bins I use to store most of the spell ingredients I keep downstairs out of sight. A lot of this stuff isn’t dangerous, but there are a few items I’d rather not have to have to explain if the police come to pay a surprise visit. The instant I opened the drawer the smell of the dried ginger root cleared my sinuses and fought off the faint mildew smell of the lab.

“That’s ginger root. You need thyme for the potion.” The glowing eyes occupying the otherwise vacant eye sockets of the skull resting on a shelf across the room were glowing brightly.

“Says you.”

“Yes, says me. Unless you want to mix up some hair growing tonic instead of an invisibility potion you should listen.”

I took the ginger root out of it’s drawer dangling it out in front of the skull giving me a sour look from across the room before I dropped it into the gym bag on the floor. I also took some thyme out of the next drawer and threw it in while Bob was busy muttering in Latin. I zipped up the bag and dropped onto the chair in front of my worktable.

“Where were we?” I picked up the legal pad and pencil that I’d discarded and looked up at Bob’s shelf.

“Trolls.”

I rolled my eyes and tapped my pencil on the table doing my best imitation of a disinterested teenager. “I know all about trolls Bob. They’re big, they’re strong, and they’re dumb. As long as I don’t cross too many bridges I don’t think they’ll be a problem.”

“Harry there are almost five hundred bridges in Pittsburgh.”

The pencil rolled across the floor of the laboratory and it sounded much louder than it should have thanks to the echo. “Damn. Any advice on how I can deal with them?”

“Don’t.”

I reached up to the shelf in front of me and pulled down one of the less ragged looking paperbacks in sight. The skull rolled to the left and tried to pin the book in place but he was a second to slow. I set the romance novel down on my worktable and the writhing red head in a green dress on the cover smiled up at me. I leaned down and waited a few extra seconds before picking my pencil up and looking up at the shelf. Bob’s glowing eyes flickered as he looked down at the book and he managed to produce a long suffering sigh.

“Trolls have acute senses, much more so than most people realize. Their hearing is so highly tuned that loud noises can drive them off some times.”

I slid the paperback into place on the shelf and I started jotting down notes while Bob ran through a few formulas for spells that would help me avoid having my head torn off by a troll.

Trolls are the biggest and most physically powerful creatures that habitat Pittsburgh and they have used the city as a breeding ground for hundreds of years. They are incredibly strong and resilient but their lack of intelligence often puts them at a serious disadvantage when they are confronted by quick witted prey. Even though they aren’t rocket scientists trolls should not be confused with comical morons.

Under the Unseelie Accords trolls are no longer allowed to claim any mortal who enters their territory as their next meal. They do still have claim over naughty children and many innocent youngsters have fallen prey to these enormous predators. Hungry trolls often bend the laws to suit their appetite and claim more than their fair share.

The trolls of Pittsburgh are unusual in that some of them choose to live in clans, usually they are highly territorial and will not tolerate any other trolls within their realm. This may be due to the sheer size of many of the bridges in Pittsburgh which allow for much more space than one troll would traditionally claim. Even so the largest of these clans number between five and seven family members at the most and fights are common. Adolescent males are driven off to find their own territory by the dominant male or they rise to claim their patron’s territory from him in some cases.

All of the clans and individual trolls yield to the authority of the troll king of Pittsburgh. This station is passed from one troll to the next by right of combat. The reign of a troll king is usually short lived as the greedy nature of their species drives them to fight one another very often.

The Daily D4

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The bothans were harmed in the making of this entry.

 

Star Wars Saga Edition

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a roleplaying game that allowed players to experience their own adventures in the Star Wars universe. Although there have been a couple of Star Wars roleplaying games, but the Saga Edition remains my favorite. I started playing it as a play-by-post game named the Dark Times back in 2010, that game lasted for a couple of years and thanks to some fantastic players it became something really special.

All of your favorite races are laid out in loving detail including: Wookies, Duros, Kel Dor, Ithorians, Zabrak, Humans, Ewoks, Gungans, Trandoshans, Sullustans, Rodians, Twi’Lek, Mon Calamari, Quarrens, Bothans, droids, and Cereans are all in the core book with many, many more added to each of the source books. One of the things I always liked about Star Wars was the unique races that made their homes in that faraway galaxy, getting to play a few of them is just fun.

There are five character classes in the system, all of which are described in the core rules and expanded upon throughout the rest of the source books. Jedi are armed with deadly lightsabers and force powers making them one of the most effective character classes in combat, but for those of you looking to do something besides weld through blast doors with your lightsaber the Jedi can do so much more. Nobles are usually senators, scientists, or other even military officers who use their intellect and charisma to effect change in the galaxy. The noble class has one of the longest skill lists in the game allowing for a wide variety of expertise and they’re one of the only classes to have any sort of healing ability. Scoundrels are clever space dwellers who prowl the galaxy surviving by their wits and a fast trigger finger. The scoundrel is effectively the darker take on the noble class, many of their abilities focus on turning events in your favor through whatever means possible. Scouts are wilderness experts, explorers, and sometimes bounty hunters. Playing a scout allows you to be a master of stealth and surviving on whatever deadly planet your adventures lead yo to. Soldiers are of course the most combat focused class in the game and they often prove the front-line offense and defense for group’s lacking a Jedi, however that doesn’t mean they’re brutes. Playing a soldier who relies on tactics rather than raw force is a great way to provide yourself and your party with better chances to survive.

Combat in this system is fast paced, deadly, and fraught with peril. When a group of stormtroopers armed with blaster rifles open fire on your characters death is a very real possibility. Wading into combat without sparing a thought is usually a bad idea.

When the licensing rights for Star Wars passed on from Wizards of the Coast the game went out of print making the books something of a rarity. Friendly local gaming stores are the best place to find copies of the books for this system, but they can still be rather difficult to lay hands on. All of the books have great resources for players and game masters, but I recommend getting the core rules first and checking that out before buying any of the others.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

With just a few weeks to go until the newest film of the second Hobbit trilogy I’m getting more and more excited for the next installment. This movie has everything a fantasy nerd could want as far as I’m concerned, and if it’s as good as the first one was than I will have no complaints. Giant spiders, elves, Lake Town, the first appearance of Smaug, and seeing the many escapes orchestrated by Bilbo Baggins are all sure to make it an entertaining film.

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