Monthly Archives November 2011

Game Review: Ascension Rat King Promo Pack

If you’re a child of the mid-80s, the odds are good that when you hear Rat King, you immediately think of the Ninja Turtle anti-hero/villain. If you’re a history buff, you might think of the legendary rat king which is disgusting. But from now on, Rat King has taken a whole new meaning for me in the game Ascension.

Ever felt like the Cultist needed some help taking care of those bullies who keep picking on him? Now he has it! The Rat King adds a whole new dimension to Monsters in Ascension! While up until now Monsters have only impacted the game by providing a reward to the player who defeats them, the Rat King leads his hordes of Giant Rat minions to swarm all over the center row and wreak havoc on the best laid plans. Unlike the rest of the Monsters in Ascension, the Rat King’s Giant Rat minions aren’t shuffled into the center deck, but are rather set aside to lay in wait until their master shows up.

Suggested Ages: 13+
Suggested Players: 1 to 6 players (Requires at least Chronicle of the Godslayer or Return of the Fallen)
Playing time: 30 minutes
Contents: 2 Rat King cards, 10 Giant Rat cards
Retail price: $5.00 on eBay from Board Game Geek

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Felicia Day is playing with herself (in Dragon Age: Origins)

Have fun watching Felicia Day play with herself. Literally. In Dragon Age: Mark of the Assassin as Tallis.

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Ascension Storm of Souls hitting shelves December 16th

From the official Ascension site:

Ascension: Storm of Souls hits stores the week of December 16! Samael is defeated, but the world of Vigil has been left in turmoil in his wake. In Storm of Souls, players will see different factions rise to prominence with the new Event cards, and have powerful new Trophy Monsters to hunt! In addition to the brand-new mechanics, players will also see powerful new takes on popular mechanics from past Ascension releases.


  • A complete 1-4 player game playable on its own or with other Ascension™ games!
  • Combine with other Ascension™ games to play with up to 6 players!
  • All the fun of an open-ended card game without buying limitless cards–everything’s contained in one box!
  • Setup in minutes with no unique pregame preparation
  • Play in less than 30 minutes


  • 200 cards:
    • 101 New Center Deck Cards
    • 59 Always Avalable cards, including 6 of the new Fanatic card!
    • 4 Starting Decks featuring all new art!
  • 50 deluxe honor tokens
  • Full -Color rulebook
  • Game Board
  • Storage tray

MSRP: $39.99

In addition, there is a brand new promotional card available for those who preorder through the website. Behold the glory of Soul Collector!

I honestly think I love the promotional cards more than the regular game. Each promo card seems to add a whole new element of the game that not only shows how much design space is still available, but where future expansions can go!

Will Soul Counters become the norm on Void constructs? I certainly hope so! It’s a simple way to scale power – but be warned: you don’t get a counter for defeating the Cultist (or Fanatic) over and over again! Only real monsters from the center row count! As a single unique card in the portal deck, Soul Collector will gladly become a permanent addition to my set. Now I just need to find some new tokens to use… or dice.

Ascension Storm of Souls can be preordered directly from Gary Games for $39.99.

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Checking in with Chef Mike Isabella

With a new season of Top Chef well underway it is easy to lose yourself in a roster of new cheftestants. With so many former winners and finalists opening restaurants, we decided to check in on one of the most memorable contestants the show has ever seen, Chef Mike Isabella. Isabella is remembered not just for his big smile and personality, but because he had one of the best runs in show history when he emerged as a dark horse during the All-Stars season and narrowly lost to favorite Richard Blaze in the finals.

CnC: What was the most difficult challenge during your time on Top Chef? Recently, we talked to Isabella about his new restaurant venture, the hardest part about being on Top Chef and his guilty pleasure foods.

Chef Isabella: The challenge at Target on the Top Chef All-Stars season because we had to run around and buy equipment and then assemble it before we even start cooking.

CnC: Where did the decision to call the restaurant Graffiato, which means scratchy or ragged in Italian, come from?

Chef Isabella: Graffiato means scratched or etched and it came from Roman soldiers using their swords to carve into stone. It was an original form of art, and expression. Graffiato is my expression of childhood flavors.

CnC: Do you have a favorite dish or something on the menu you would call Graffiato’s signature?

Chef Isabella: Hand cut spaghetti with olive oil poached cherry tomatoes and basil

CnC: What are your guilty pleasure foods? What sort of dishes do you like to make for yourself when you are alone?

Chef Isabella: I eat a lot of pasta and my favorite junk food is Reese’s peanut butter cups.

CnC: Is there anything that you love to eat, but don’t know how to make or refuse to make and prefer to get elsewhere?

Chef Isabella: Graffiato is located in Chinatown so I go to New Big Wong for Salt & Pepper Shrimp.

Back when Top Chef 8 began, we wrote that Isabella didn’t have “it” and would merely be one of the chefs that would hang around for a while before being dispatched in favor of the more accomplished and better chefs. That sentiment was probably written more than once about Isabella, and boy were we all very wrong. You won’t catch us underestimating Chef Isabella or his restaurant Graffiato anytime soon, and neither should anyone else.

(photo from

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Portals of the Week

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Nerd Girl Problems: Thanksgiving

I wrote Nerd Girl Problems: Halloween because I thought this holiday was especially problematic for nerd girls.  But then I realized our unique, nerdy set of first-world problems are more prevalent than I thought.  So this Thanksgiving enjoy some turkey, a scoop of stuffing, and a heaping serving of nerd girl problems!




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Magic Planechase 2012 Announced!

Wizards seems to have finally realized that Planechase was a hit – so they are bringing it back for an encore! But with two much needed twists.

First, there aren’t just planes anymore – there are also phenomena! These are one shot effects that seem to mess with everyone. For example, check out Time Distortion!

Taking a page out of the hugely successful Commander line, these decks will also include ALL NEW CARDS! Looking for an obscene red-blue-green Commander? Check out Maelstorm Wanderer (currently in the running for the best reminder text of all time):

There are a total of 21 new Magic cards in the set, spread across the four decks. Each deck has six of the cards (counting by name), although some appear in multiples.

Planechase (2012 Edition) comes out on June 1, 2012. Each of the four decks contains a sixty-cardMagic deck, a ten-card planar deck, and a planar die. The MSRP for each deck is $19.99. This release will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Initial Concept and Game Design: Mark Globus (lead), Kelly Digges, Dave Guskin, and Ryan Miller

Final Game Design and Deck Development: Mark L. Gottlieb (lead), Ryan Miller, Lee Sharpe, and Ken Troop, with contributions from Matt Tabak

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Baker’s Recipe: Chocolate Silk Pie

“This feels like cheating.”

“You’ll be fine, just wing it – it’s what I always do!”

“But I’m not you!”

“Thank the gods for that, could you imagine how awful two of me would be?”

“One is bad enough,” the mage replied as he presented his gift to the elven king. It looked like a pie, smelled like pudding and tasted like heaven.

It feels weird categorizing this as a baker’s recipe, since there is very little actual cooking. But a dessert is a dessert and I feel like those usually fall into the domain of the Baker.

In high school, a friend’s father would make these pies around Christmas and would often sell them at silent auctions for fund raising. I became notorious for viciously bidding against people for these pies – had I know how easy they are to make, I would have just made them myself! But after I spent far too much on a single pie, he finally gave me the recipe but I’ve since taken the recipe and reworked it slightly – like the addition of a cookie crust.

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Nerdy Wizard Rock Music Video: Walk of Shame by Not Literally

In their continued attempt at winning the internet, the lovely ladies Ginny and Dana of Not Literally have sent us their latest music video – the sex-regret filled parody of Sound of Silence. Now, I may be slightly biased and wonder why any pureblood Slytherin would subject herself to spending any time with a Hufflepuff (unless of course she lost something), but this stunningly shot video sheds light on what is really going on at Hogwarts: lots and lots of hooking up.

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Cook’s Recipe: Apple & Brie Puff Pastries

The dwarf suspiciously picked up the small square of pastry, which immediately crumbled between his large, cumbersome fingers.  “What is this devilry?” roared the hungry dwarf.  “Have you shrunken our feast with your elven magicks?”

The elf server sneered at the the dwarf.  “This, master dwarf, is but a preamble for the feast ahead.”

The dwarf grumbled.  “There’s no point in baiting a dwarf’s appetite.”

My office holds charity potlucks every few months, and for our fall potluck we decided to incorporate a contest into the feast, so I knew I had to step up my game.  Unfortunately, this dish didn’t win (the prize went to caprese salad skewers, gotta hand it to this simple but delicious dish), but I still got a lot of compliments!

The problems with cooking for a potluck is 1) the dish needs to be prepped the night before (For some reason clients don’t take “Hold on, I need to peel and cut these apples” as an excuse for a late report.) and 2) there is limited fridge/freezer space and only one tiny toaster oven available in the office kitchen.  Therefore, your dish needs to come in a crock pot, be reheat-able in a microwave, or served cold.

My original idea was to make one of my favorite appetizers: baked brie, but I knew it would be impossible to achieve that melty deliciousness sans oven.  So I made up this fun, alternative appetizer.

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