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Star Wars - Imperial Assault
Star Wars - Imperial Assault
Offered by Toy Fuzz
Price: $74.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it a board game or a miniature combat game? Apparently, both, December 21, 2014
This review is from: Star Wars - Imperial Assault (Toy)
Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a tabletop game for 2 to 5 players set in the sci-fi/space fantasy Star Wars universe. The contents of this box are based on the time period just after Episode 4 (A New Hope), and include all of the dice, map pieces, cards, tokens, and miniatures needed to play the game. There will be additional expansion packs that will include new miniatures (some replacements for the tokens), cards, and map pieces, but they are not necessary to play. The miniatures themselves are unpainted plastic; all but the AT-ST come pre-assembled (that one requiring a relatively simple procedure to put together, though some people have been having problems when they put the AT-ST's lower front turret on upside down). Imperial Assault was designed with adults in mind, and will be too difficult for young children to play unassisted (hint: the game comes with three manuals to read prior to play, with an additional manual needing to be red by the person playing the Imperials in campaign mode).

Miniatures in the box include: the 6 rebel heroes, 3 probe droids, 2 nexu cats, 4 imperial guards, 9 stormtroopers, 2 e-webs, 4 trandoshans, 3 imperial officers, and 1 AT-ST. Miniatures for Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader were also included in the original run, but may not be included in future releases.

But is it a board game or a miniature combat game? The answer is both. When played in Campaign mode, players move through a specific mission with one person playing the Empire and the others playing Rebel heroes. This is, in essence, a board game (similar to Descent). The Rebels winning or losing determines what mission is played next (there's a flow chart, but side missions can change this). Gains such as experience (XP) carry over to different missions, allowing heroes to be customized. When played in Skirmish mode, however, players build an army and directly fight each-other in one-off battles. This game mode is a miniature tactical combat game, with elements such as point-buys for armies and command cards entering into the equation.

Overall, the game is relatively easy to learn. Most of the rules are standard for miniature games, and may even seem too simple when compared to those used in Warhammer and other highly technical tactical games. I still found Imperial Assault a lot of fun to play, though, and recommend it for those looking for an exciting Star Wars experience!

Imperial Assault is currently receiving similar tournament support as Fantasy Flight's X-Wing game. This includes events being held at your Friendly Local Gaming Store (mine is Art of War in the suburbs of Cincinnati). So don't be afraid to head out to your own FLGS, play a few rounds, and possibly make some new friends.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Whether you play it as a board game or a miniature combat game, Star Wars fans will find themselves enjoying the experience.

Note: it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you purchase protective sleeves for the cards in the set - they'll help your purchase last longer by protecting the cards from pizza sauce-coated fingers and people that shuffle too hard. You'll need about 88 sleeves of the Standard American Board Game size and 201 of the Mini American Board Game size. These sleeves are sold on Amazon, and can be found by searching for "Standard American Board Game Sleeves" or by using similar terms. The 6 hero cards are larger and of a non-standard size (the same as Descent hero cards at roughly 4"x5 1/16", and meaning they are harder to find sleeves for).
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 25, 2014 3:05 PM PST

Star Wars Age of Rebellion Rpg - Stay on Target
Star Wars Age of Rebellion Rpg - Stay on Target
Offered by Art's Game Store
Price: $29.90
6 used & new from $23.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown Away, December 19, 2014
_Stay on Target_ is the first expansion sourcebook for the Star Wars Age of Rebellion roleplaying game. It focuses on the Ace career path - those legendary heroes that pilot x-wings, drive speeders, and fire turbolasers to change the course of a battle. The book contains rules for three new player races/species (Chadra-fan, Dressellian, and Xexto), three new career specializations (Beast Rider, Hotshot, and Rigger), two new signature abilities (new powers for extremely experienced Aces), rules for riding beasts (using them as vehicles), a small bestiary with stats, rules/clarifications for using astromechs (both PC and NPC), new vehicles, new equipment, and more. It totals 96 full color pages in all, and is completely compatible with the Edge of the Empire roleplaying game.

_Stay on Target_ is EXACTLY what I look for in an expansion sourcebook - it adds dimension to the game that is useable by old and new characters alike, but also doesn't overwhelm the system with new material. What that means is that the Hotshot specialization isn't so overpowered that no one will want to play the Pilot anymore, and every Ace will find the new equipment and vehicles of interest (the armored flight suit can be pretty useful both in and out of a ship, and the E-, H-, T-, and V- wings add more interesting ship options). New rules sections also describe areas that were lacking in the core rulebook, so now you can actually do something in a space battle with your astromech droid or ride beasts like tauntauns and dewbacks (just like in the movies).

If there was anything I would change about this sourcebook, it would probably be to balance the new career specializations a little better. Though I haven't played the specialization thoroughly yet, the high level Hotshot ability Showboat seems a bit too powerful (once per encounter seems more balanced than the once per round it is listed as). Conversely, the Beast Rider seems slightly (but not terribly) underpowered. These are minor complaints, though, and are easily fixed by a home rule or two.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. An excellent sourcebook for both the Age of Rebellion (and Edge of the Empire as well).
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 20, 2014 1:45 PM PST

Shadowrun Crossfire Character
Shadowrun Crossfire Character
Offered by Art's Game Store
Price: $18.32
6 used & new from $13.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The answer for one of the game's biggest perceived weaknesses, December 18, 2014
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Shadowrun Crossfire Character Expansion Pack 1 is a small bundle containing cards and stickers for the Shadowrun: Crossfire (SR:C) card game. The pack includes 20 runner cards, 100 upgrade stickers, and 4 additional basic cards (one for each role). It had a suggested retailer price of $14.99 printed on it when it became available in December of 2014, and requires the core/base Shadowrun: Crossfire game set to play.

So, why should you consider buying this product if you already own the Shadowrun: Crossfire base set? One of the biggest complaints about the SR:C game concerns using the stickers and runner cards included in the base set to keep track of character advancement (instead of, say, downloading and printing a sheet from and just writing in the karma advancement). If you DID use the stickers and runner cards, many people viewed the act as permanently damaging the product. With Expansion Pack 1 (XP1), you are basically purchasing additional stickers and runner cards that can be used instead of/in addition to those in the box. The 20 runner cards are actually 2 male and 2 female cards for each metatype in the game (Dwarf, Elf, Human, Ork, and Troll). The 100 karma stickers are the same as those in the base set; they break down into 3 for each of the early karma awards, 2 for the later, and 1 each for the highest level. Finally, the 4 basic cards (one for each role) are included for when someone needs more starting cards after boosting certain aspects of their character with karma.

There really isn't a lot to complain about with XP1 - it fixes an issue many people had with SR:C. I personally would have liked for the pack to have contained more than that, though - maybe a copy of the Oni Promo runner card or some new evolutions along those lines. Maybe we'll see some of those things in the next character expansion pack, though.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars. Shadowrun: Crossfire players will find this a necessary expansion if they've been using the game stickers to keep track of their characters.

Shadowrun Crossfire Base Game
Shadowrun Crossfire Base Game
Price: $41.36
19 used & new from $39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing cooperative deckbuilding game, December 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Shadowrun Crossfire is a cooperative deckbuilding game for 1-4 players based in the hybrid cyberpunk/fantasy world of Shadowrun. If none of that description makes sense to you, don't worry - what it translates to is that SR:C is a fun card game you play with your friends that has a unique high-tech-meets-magic theme. Everything you need to play the game is included in the box, though there are expansions you can purchase to enhance gameplay (new characters, stickers, etc..).

I was going to pepper this review with a lot of slang from the Shadowrun roleplaying game ("Slot this, chummer!"), but what I've found is that many of the people I've played with have NO IDEA what the Shadowrun RPG is - they're playing SR:C based on the strength of the card game itself, and how much fun it can be. And it is a lot of fun, especially when you have a complete four player game. Each player chooses a "metatype" (a race like human, elf, dwarf, troll, or ork that determines health, starting money, and hand size), then picks one of the four roles (a class like decker, mage, street samurai, or face that determines what you are good at doing). If you don't have four players, someone will need to take on an additional role (hence the reason this game becomes less fun with fewer than four, and is unplayable in most scenarios with just one player). You then take turns battling monsters and trying to complete the mission's objectives, making sure to help your team members while still looking out for your own interests (the person that completes a challenge gets the most money, but if one member of the group becomes critically injured, the mission is aborted). If you're successful, you'll receive "karma" that you can use to upgrade your character for the next time you play; if you're not.. well, you'll need to regroup, rethink your strategy, and try again (maybe with a different mission this time).

The biggest complaint I've heard about the game so far comes from the leveling/karma aspect. The game comes with stickers you can apply to your character sheet representing what karma you've spent - doing that, however, means you've permanently altered the contents of the game. There are two ways around this. First, just use a sheet of paper or download a character sheet to record you karma upgrades INSTEAD of using the stickers. Second, you can now purchase expansion packs that contain more stickers and new characters - just purchase one of those if you must use the stickers. Either of these ways works just fine.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. An exciting, fun cooperative deckbuilding game that works best with 4 players. No previous experience required to enjoy this game.

Canon DR-M160II Document Scanner
Canon DR-M160II Document Scanner
Price: $796.00
22 used & new from $647.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Great scanner; poor documentation, setup, and software, December 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Canon DR-M160II is a document scanner suitable for both work and home. It easily connects to your computer or network via a USB cable, and has a very compact design. It has "single pass duplex scanning," which means it scans both sides of a document without having to reload it. It also comes with two disks (one a CD-ROM and the other a DVD-ROM) containing drivers and software to operate the device.

I can honestly say that the document scanner itself is one of the nicest I have ever used, and really impressed me. Not only does it scan quickly, it also works quietly (compared to other scanners). The loading tray adjusts nicely to different-sized documents, and everything folds up relatively compactly when not in us. To put it simply: the hardware does its job well without being obnoxious. To me, that is definitely a selling point.

The problem I have is with the documentation, software, and setup (done on a PC running Windows 7). It is PAINFUL. It comes with three printed setup documents, but none of them contain much significant information (the full manual is actually on one of the disks). Follow the wrong set of instructions, and you'll do things in the wrong order and may have issues (DON'T PLUG THE SCANNER INTO THE COMPUTER PRIOR TO INSTALLING THE SOFTWARE. That one got me and I had software issues resulting in a re-install). Assuming you can get everything installed properly, you are then directed to go online and download another program so that the KOFAX software runs/installs completely. Once that's done, I recommend bringing up MSCONFIG and digging out some of the commands that are pre-loading programs onto your computer at startup and slowing down your machine. Do all that, and things work pretty well.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. This is a five star piece of hardware being dragged down by 2 star software and a lack of decent documentation.

V8 Protein Shakes, Chocolate Raspberry, 10 Fl Oz (Pack of 24)
V8 Protein Shakes, Chocolate Raspberry, 10 Fl Oz (Pack of 24)
Price: $49.59
2 used & new from $49.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent flavor and valuable nutrition, December 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The V8 Chocolate Raspberry protein shake is Campbell's entry into what I call the "less artificial" market - basically, products made primarily with ingredients a layperson would recognize, rather than ingredients a reader might need a chemistry background to understand. So things like high fructose corn syrup are out, and seemingly more acceptable ingredients like sugar and honey are in. The drink contains a high amount of protein (12g/24% daily recommended value [DRV]) as well as many vitamins and minerals (40% DRV calcium, 20% DRV iron, etc..) and other elements (3g/12% DRV dietary fiber). It has 210 calories per serving, 30 of which are from fat. Complete nutritional values can be found on the packaging.

To put it bluntly: it isn't bad. The flavor was a lot better than I expected it to be given the ingredients, and it wasn't particularly chalky or thick (common side-effects of high fiber shakes). For me, it works as a nice pickup during the day, especially when I don't have time to eat a decent lunch (or am skipping breakfast). It certainly works better than a candy bar or two.

When it comes to the "Ingredients You Know" tagline (the less-artificial title the shake literally has printed on its cardboard packaging), I don't think the product does quite as well as it could have. It still contains ingredients like carrageenan (a common food stabilizer extracted from seaweed) and dipotassium phosphate, but I personally don't have a problem with these chemicals, so it is not an issue. You, as a consumer, may want to avoid it if you're trying to cut all artificial ingredients from your diet.

Rating: 3 Stars. Decent flavor and a respectable amount of protein and fiber make it a viable product.

Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician
Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician
by Richard Cadena
Edition: Paperback
Price: $42.73
42 used & new from $38.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Informative book on the subject of electrical engineering, December 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician 2nd Edition (EEET2E) is 322 page full color book by Richard Cadena. Its focus is electrical engineering technology - basically, the science and knowledge behind what you might see or hear at a concert or other live event.

Having taken a (general) electrical engineering technology course in college, I can honestly say that a lot of the information in this book is IDENTICAL to what one would learn in such a class. That isn't necessarily a bad thing - people working (or playing) with electricity SHOULD know about volts, and the basics of magnetism, and how to read a schematic. The problem is, it doesn't contain a lot of practical information in regards to the entertainment industry. Does it contain information on how to fix an LED stage light that has some of its diodes broken? No. How to replace individual pieces of a sound board? Nope. Steps when assessing a malfunctioning speaker (how to identify the problem and what to fix)? No. Possible issues with microphones and how to repair them? No. The basic knowledge it provides would be helpful in completing those tasks, but it doesn't actually touch on practical knowledge in most instances. There are some nice pictures of terminals and heads (especially those relating to non-USA styles), but there isn't enough to justify purchasing the book for ONLY that reason.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. If you're looking for an electrical engineering technology book, this one is a decent purchase; if you're looking for specific information for the setups and repairs an electrician might need to make regarding equipment used in the entertainment industry, you'll need a different book.

Bostitch Dynamo Compact Stapler, Blue (B105R-BLUE)
Bostitch Dynamo Compact Stapler, Blue (B105R-BLUE)
Price: $8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I use it as a stapler and it works, December 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Stanley Bostitch Compact-Size Dynamo Stapler is a device used (most likely) for binding papers together. It uses standard staples, has a listed 20 sheet capacity (meaning the most sheets of paper you can staple with it at once), and can be opened 180 degrees for doing things like stapling notices onto boards (for when you don't have tacks or the job is something more permanent). It also lists a number of features on its package card including a built in staple storage compartment (in the lower handle under the rubber grip), a pencil sharpener, staple remover, the ability to stand vertically on your desk so as to take up less space, and a limited lifetime warranty (which is not explained on the packaging, but I assume is detailed on the listed webpage).

But all I want it for is stapling, so the rest of these features (except the storage compartment) really don't apply. And it does staple pretty well! It went through the cardboard and multiple sheets of paper I tested it on without failing, so it will work on the usual short reports and printouts I need it for as well. Plus, it is a nice color (mine is the B105R-BLUE, but your color may vary).

The only thing I DID NOT like about the stapler was the piece of metal sticking out the back that they term a staple remover. If you have little kids or are accident prone, it just sends a big red flag up when you see it. Have no fear, though - mine was easily removed by pulling back the rubber grip, pushing the metal piece towards the pencil sharpener, and then jiggling (technical term) it out. The grip went right back on without a problem, and and the little piece of metal is removed! If you like the staple remover, just leave it on - you've probably had fewer accidents that have dented wooden furniture or torn fabric than I have.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Very affordable compact stapler for home, work, or school!

Quest Training - AllStrike
Quest Training - AllStrike
Price: $103.42
2 used & new from $103.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely useful for developing pinpoint accuracy, November 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For years, many masters of the "striking arts" (boxing, Taekwondo, Kempo, etc..) have proclaimed that blows to key areas of the head are far more efficient at knocking an opponent out than others. From boxers talking about the knockout button below the ear and behind the mandible to MMA fighters speaking of the efficiency of flying knees to the temple, such techniques abound. The problem has always been practicing these strikes properly so that they can be used with success - allowing someone to be repeatedly struck in the head so another can learn the correct location and technique simply isn't practical to the partner. Using the lifelike "BOB"-style foam body opponent bags works to an extent, but those are often too bulky and heavy to practice anything other than the basic strikes against a stationary opponent.

The Quest Training Allstrike training head is an attempt to fix that problem. It is basically a striking pad shaped like a human head that the trainer sticks his hand inside of (there's a handle inside to help him/her hold it). The student can then practice striking a lifelike head that is moving in a similar way as a normal human head (depending on the skills of the trainer). Believe it or not, this is A LOT different than just striking traditional pads or the stationary BOB, and those using it should see improvement in the pinpoint accuracy of their head strikes relatively quickly with regular (and proper) use.

Be warned, though, that the Quest Training Allstrike isn't the answer to all of your training woes with such strikes, and does take some getting used to. Initially, we were holding the head too close to our own bodies during practice - and getting hit by it when the striker popped it too hard or at an unexpected angle. The trainer still has to hold the head out and away from his/her body like a normal striking pad (meaning it is harder to simulate an actual fighter throwing counterstrikes), but can simulate it moving like a real head would in a fight. But it really does help those training with it to improve their head strike accuracy, and should be considered for any gym, dojo, or martial academy that uses such strikes.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Definitely a worthwhile investment for those training others to use head strikes.

OXO Good Grips Healthy Portions Analog Scale, 16-Ounce
OXO Good Grips Healthy Portions Analog Scale, 16-Ounce
Price: $12.99
8 used & new from $12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Keep the packaging, November 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The OXO Good Grips 16-Ounce Healthy Portions Analog Scale is a portable cooking/meal measuring tool used to weigh out meals and ingredients. Probably most associated with those on very strict portion control diets, these types of scales are also useful for those that tend to be out-and-about when cooking/brewing or that are just looking for a decent kitchen scale that is easily stored. The OXO has a really nice design that screws together for easy transport or unscrews and flips to form a bowl-top for easier measuring.

Overall, I am very pleased with my OXO scale, and especially like the compact design. If you are carrying the scale around with you (say, in a bag), though, it tends to be a little noisy - unless you keep the original packing materials. The little cardboard disk that slips into it will stop almost all noise when walking around, and should not be thrown away. In fact, keeping the entire box works well, as there is not a lot of excess space in the original packaging.

Keep in mind that this is not an analytical balance, nor is it a digital device - it is a very simple item that works extremely well for what it is. No batteries required, and easily zeroed with a simple turn.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars. A very nice portable scale!

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