Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Some Biblical Thoughts About the President's Twitter Feed

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Proverbs 14:29 (ESV)

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
James 1:19-20 (NIV)

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)


Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].
Ephesians 4:29 (AMP)


Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
Proverbs 16:32 (NLT)


Here are the things you must do: Speak truth to each other. Pursue justice in your courts. Render decisions that reflect truth and bring peace to the community.
Zechariah 8:16 (VOICE)

Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.
Matthew 12:36-37 (MSG)



Friday, May 22, 2020

My More Prayers

Let's start with some basics:

  • I'm a follower of Christ.
  • I attend a Southern Baptist church.
  • I love my church.
  • I was a lead pastor and youth pastor of SBC churches for nearly 28 years.
  • What I'm writing comes out of my experience and personal faith as an evangelical follower of Jesus.
OK, with that out of the way...

I agree with the President on the following points
  • Churches do provide many essential services to their communities.
  • Faith leaders love their congregations.
  • Faith leaders will (with a few exceptions) work very hard to make sure their congregations are safe.
  • Faith leaders don't want bad things to happen to people, whether they are are part of their congregation or not.
  • We need prayer.
However...
  • The work of the church did not shut down because churches were unable to meet corporately. 
  • The power of God did not disappear because buildings were empty on Sunday morning.
  • Churches have been involved in their communities throughout this time of quarantine providing essential services.
  • Church buildings themselves are not essential. They help make the work and life of a church easier, but the life of a church is not dependent on the building, it is dependent on the people who make up that church.
  • Not all followers of Christ are demanding to go to church (if by "church" he means in-person corporate worship).
  • You can embrace worship as an essential part of life without corporate worship. (Please see a post I wrote on this some years back - 11 am Sunday Morning (Prime Time).)
    • Note: I am not saying "stop going to corporate worship" - while I love the online services my church is doing, I miss being together. Scripture reminds us to gather together (Hebrews 10:25)... but checking off perfect attendance on your offering envelope is a man-made rule, not a Biblical mandate.
  • More prayer is not dependent on people gathering on Sunday mornings... it is (once again) dependent on the people who claim faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Forbidding larger gatherings was not an injustice - it was a manifestation of concern to life and health of the communities our churches reside in.
My prayer is for churches that continue to love Jesus and love people, regardless of the status of their Sunday morning worship gatherings.

My prayer is that our focus as Christ followers will be on speaking and posting with the fruit of the Spirit in mind rather than to grind a particular political ax.

My prayer is that we will allow God to remove our hearts of stone - hearts heavy with the claiming of rights and absorption on self - and give us hearts of flesh that filled with grace for those who disagree and concern for others despite the frustrations of this season.


---

The picture above is from the church my family & I attend here in Nashville... it was taken late last fall.

The transcript below is from the President's remarks earlier today. They are from uncorrected Closed Captioning from CSPAN. The transcript was all caps at the original source.

PRES. TRUMP: AT MY DIRECTION, THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION IS ISSUING GUIDANCE FOR COMMUNITIES OF FAITH. I WANT TO THANK DR. REDFIELD AND THE CDC FOR THEIR WORK ON THIS MATTER AND ALL THE OTHER WORK THEY HAVE BEEN DOING OVER THE PAST WHAT SEEMS LIKE A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. TODAY, I AM IDENTIFYING HOUSES OF WORSHIP, CHURCHES, SYNAGOGUES, AND MOSQUES, AS ESSENTIAL PLACES THAT PROVIDE ESSENTIAL SERVICES. SOME GOVERNORS HAVE DEEMED LIQUOR STORES AND ABORTION CLINICS IS ESSENTIAL, BUT HAVE LEFT OUT CHURCHES AND OTHER HOUSES OF WORSHIP, IT'S NOT RIGHT. SO I AM CORRECTING THIS INJUSTICE AM CALLING HOUSES OF WORSHIP ESSENTIAL. I CALL UPON GOVERNORS TO ALLOW CHURCHES AND PLACES OF WORSHIP TO OPEN RIGHT NOW. IF THERE IS ANY QUESTION, THEY WILL HAVE TO CALL ME, BUT THEY ARE NOT GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THAT CALL. THESE ARE PLACES THAT HOLD OUR SOCIETY TOGETHER AND KEEP OUR PEOPLE UNITED. THE PEOPLE ARE DEMANDING TO GO TO CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUES, FOR A MOSQUE. -- OR A MOSQUE. MANY EMBRACE WORSHIP AS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF LIFE. THE MINISTERS, PASTORS, RABBIS, AND OTHER FAITH LEADERS WILL MAKE SURE THAT THEIR CONGREGATIONS ARE SAFE AS THEY GATHER AND PRAY. I KNOW THEM WELL. THEY LOVE THEIR CONGREGATIONS. THEY LOVE THEIR PEOPLE. THEY DON'T WANT ANYTHING BAD TO HAPPEN TO THEM OR TO ANYBODY ELSE. THE GOVERNORS NEED TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND ALLOW THESE VERY IMPORTANT, ESSENTIAL PLACES OF FAITH TO OPEN RIGHT NOW. FOR THIS WEEKEND. IF THEY DO NOT DO IT, I WILL OVERRIDE THE GOVERNOR'S. -- THE GOVERNORS. IN AMERICA, WE NEED MORE PRAYER, NOT LESS. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. THANK YOU. >> [INDISCERNIBLE]

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Pixar Shorts: For Your Consideration

Last week, I posted my ranked list of Pixar films - and, no, I haven't watched Onward yet.

This week, I'm giving you my list of Pixar shorts... divided by loosely-defined categories/eras and without (in many cases) a lot of detail. I will note that many of these are available through Disney+, so I've noted the ones that are not available through that streaming service - and apologize, as the original version of this post listed a number of shorts as "not available" that actually are!


The Classics
  • The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.
  • Luxo Jr. 
  • Red’s Dream
  • Tin Toy
  • Knick Knack
These are the originals… the first CGI shorts that acted as proof of concept (computer animation can work) and proof that the folks at Pixar knew how to tell a story. Luxo Jr. would provide the Pixar logo (the bouncing desk lamp) and Tin Toy (even with the creepy/primitive baby animation) would be the jumping off point for the first full-length film we all know and love, Toy Story. (Tin Toy, by the way, was the first Oscar win for Pixar as Best Animated Short Film.)

My favorite of this group, though, is Knick Knack. The humor is sometimes sly, sometimes pure slapstick… and it works like a charm.

The Oscar Run
  • Geri’s Game 
  • For the Birds
  • Boundin’
  • One Man Band 
  • Lifted
  • Presto
  • Partly Cloudy
  • Day & Night
  • La Luna
With the exception of Partly Cloudy, all of these “independent” shorts were nominated for Oscars… and both Geri’s Game and For the Birds won. (The lead character in Geri’s Game became the Cleaner of Toy Story 2.)

My two favorites from this period are One Man Band and Presto… if you want to see comic timing in a cartoon at classic Warner Brothers perfection, Presto is amazing. (I would mention that both For the Birds and Day & Night are delightful and well worth your time.)

Huh…
  • The Blue Umbrella
  • Lava
Lava is, frankly, one of my least favorite Pixar shorts… and I’m including some of the Mater Tall Tales and Forky Asks a Question in my calculations. The Blue Umbrella is sweet… but the “nature & the city conspire for love” theme was much better done in Disney’s Paperman.

The Second Oscar Run
  • Sanjay’s Super Team
  • Piper
  • Lou
  • Bao
This was the “second wind” of the Pixar team… with the wild creativity of Sanjay’s Super Team, the stunning visuals of Piper, the physical comedy of Lou, and the weird but compelling metaphor of Bao. I think my favorite is Piper… but Lou appeals to the elementary school kid in me that was picked on. (All four of these shorts were nominated for Oscars – and Piper & Bao both won.)

And Now, The Rest of the Story…
  • Mike’s New Car (Monsters, Inc.)
  • Jack-Jack Attack (The Incredibles)
  • Your Friend the Rat (Ratatouille) 
  • BURN-E (WALL-E)
  • Dug’s Special Mission (Up)
  • George and A.J. (Up)
  • The Legend of Mor’du (Brave)
  • Party Central (Monsters University)
  • Riley’s First Date? (Inside Out)
  • Marine Life Interviews (Finding Dory) (not currently available on Disney+)
  • Auntie Edna (Incredibles 2)
This is a mixed bag of “extra” stories from beloved (and, in some cases, not so beloved) Pixar films. Jack-Jack Attack is my favorite of the group, with Your Friend the Rat a close second. None of them are essential viewing (with the possible exception of Jack-Jack)… and a couple (Riley’s First Date? and Auntie Edna) actually work against what is enjoyable about the movies they came from.

Too Much of a Good Thing
  • Mater and the Ghostlight
  • Mater’s Tall Tales
    • Rescue Squad Mater 
    • Mater the Greater
    • El Materdor 
    • Tokyo Mater
    • Unidentified Flying Mater 
    • Monster Truck Mater
    • Heavy Metal Mater
    • Moon Mater 
    • Mater Private Eye
    • Air Mater 
    • Time Travel Mater 
  • Tales from Radiator Springs
    • Hiccups
    • Bugged 
    • Spinning 
    • The Radiator Spring 500 ½
  • Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool (not currently available on Disney+)
As noted in my previous Pixar films post, I really love Cars… seriously, I teared up riding Radiator Springs Racers when the music swells and you come around the corner towards the waterfall. 

However, I cannot recommend the majority of the Cars shorts – at least for adults. The boys loved Mater’s Tall Tales when they were younger… but they are, much like Cars 2, too much Mater and not enough of anything else. 

Back to the Beginning
  • Hawaiian Vacation
  • Small Fry
  • Partysaurus Rex 
  • Toy Story of Terror! (not currently available on Disney+)
  • Toy Story That Time Forgot (not currently available on Disney+)
  • Lamp Life 
  • Forky Asks a Question
Toy Story was an amazing start for Pixar – and some of the best “derivative” shorts have come from the wonderful secret world of toys. Ignoring Forky Asks a Question (which I don’t enjoy), I think all of the listed Toy Story shorts are worth your time… with my favorite being Toy Story That Time Forgot.



Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Pixar: For Your Consideration

One of my (many) good friends from the world of board gaming, Eric Burgess, took it upon himself to rank all of the Pixar films. We agree in a number of places... but disagree in others... and so I found myself wanting to create my own rankings.

You'll notice a theme... I cry A LOT watching Pixar movies. Generally, it's not the old school Disney cry (the ending of Old Yeller or Bambi's mother, for example) - these are because the folks at Pixar know how to tap into real emotion. (In typing up these mini-reviews, I found myself tearing up just remembering the scenes from the films... good grief.)


  1. The Incredibles - Riffing on superhero tropes, James Bond films, comic books, and action movie conventions, the folks at Pixar managed to invest the characters at the center of the story with both superpowers and depth. Funny, moving, full of surprises and pitch-perfect voice acting. 
  2. Toy Story 2 - This gets to go ahead of the amazing Toy Story on the way it built on what came before without cheapening any of it... and being the first (of many) Pixar films to leave me in a puddle of tears during Jessie's flashback montage.
  3. Toy Story - I distinctly remember being in the theater watching Toy Story... and the fact that is was ground-breaking computer animation completely dropping away 10-15 minutes into the film as I fell completely in love with the story and the humor.
  4. Up - Another gaming friend (Jeff Myers) used to say that he couldn't love a movie that made him cry in the first 10 minutes... this is the movie he was talking about. However, without those brilliant and deeply bittersweet first ten minutes, Mr. Fredricksen is just a cranky old man. (And the movie ends with more tears from me when Russell gets the grape soda pin.)
  5. Inside Out - This wonderful film made me laugh out loud... and weep quietly. I don't know how those of you who are parents of pre-teen girls survived this in one piece. (I know that the trauma of our leaving ministry and uprooting the boys definitely played into my reaction to the film.)
  6. Ratatouille - That a movie about rats and gourmet food works at all is a miracle... let alone one that comments so eloquently on the nature of friendship, the role of a critic, and the process of creativity. Plus, it's funny in the right places and amounts.
  7. Wall-E - Both Wall-E and Cars run a little long and a little slow... but both of them use that time to develop a rhythm and build up the characters so that you care about what's happening. Wall-E gets extra points for the overwhelming opening section and the delightful use of numbers from my one of my favorite movie musicals, "Hello, Dolly".
  8. Toy Story 3 - The plot here is tremendous - The Great Escape as re-imagined by Pixar. And then the last 20 minutes tear me up every time - the incinerator followed by Andy & Bonnie. 
  9. Cars - I like this a lot better than some folks... I think a childhood filled with trips along Route 66 (or what's left of it) makes this film a nostalgic road trip for me. Plus, I think they nailed the ending. (Yes, it's a little too long - see my comments about Wall-E above.)
  10. Toy Story 4 - They went to the well one more time... and made it work - mostly. (There's one character transition/decision that bothers me.) Revitalized Bo Peep is wonderful... and who can't love Duke Kaboom and/or the Combat Carl team?
  11. Monsters, Inc. - The animation innovations were pretty impressive... but the characters and their relationships were even more so. Another excellent bit of voice casting with Billy Crystal and John Goodman.
  12. Coco - An almost perfect blend of the fantastical and the heartfelt... and the music works perfectly. I can find some things to nitpick, but they don't detract from how much I enjoyed this film... or cried near the end. 
  13. Finding Nemo - The boys were a little young for this one when it first came out... the opening scared them silly. It's a great film... but I don't connect with it as strongly as some of the other Pixar films. (Dory's parenting advice is golden, though.)
  14. Cars 3 - After the mess that was Cars 2, I had real questions about yet another sequel. But Cars 3 isn't a typical sequel - nor is the message at the heart of it a typical "cartoon" moral. This is a movie about aging, wisdom, mentoring, and lasting friendship. And demolition derby.
  15. A Bug’s Life - Pixar's riff on The Seven Samuari/The Magnificent Seven... so much better than Antz (which came out in the same year). Hopper is a particularly effective villain.
  16. Brave - this has some weak moments, but I love that Pixar attempted something this big and bold.
    Note: You have reached the "you no longer need to watch these movies" line. Everything above this point is worth your time. Movies below this point are, for the most part, better than the majority of major studio animated films released but are not up to the quality level of the films above the line.
  17. Finding Dory - Dory was one of the highlights of the original film... but she works better as seasoning rather than the main dish. The otters were funny, though.
  18. The Incredibles 2 - I love parts of this movie... the raccoon sequence is brilliant, as are a couple of the action sequences with Elasti-Girl - but the film overall doesn't quite hold together. I don't hate it - but I haven't gone out of my way to watch it again (except the raccoon).
  19. Monsters University - Some really nice action sequences late in the film aren't enough to carry the weight of what feels like a "direct to DVD" sequel. 
  20. Cars 2 - Sadly, the fantastic visuals are paired with a so-so story that requires the characters to act out of character and/or like idiots. This is not the first Hollywood film to do this... but it's sad to see Pixar go there. OTOH, it does have one of my favorite Cars visual jokes - the Pope car in a Popemobile. 

I have not (yet) seen Onward... I'm planning to do that this week since it is now available on Disney+.

I refuse, based on the overwhelming feedback of friends, reviewers, and my children, to watch The Good Dinosaur. I'm just going to pretend it doesn't exist.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Solo Gaming - Spring 2020

top left: NEOM top right: Friday
bottom left: Nemo's War bottom right: Desolate
I started doing a lot of solo gaming when my oldest son (and chief gamer buddy) left for college in August. Even with him home (his university closed their dorms in mid-March), I've still been playing solo games.

I know, I know - there are plenty of board game apps on iOS and Steam... and I own many of them. But there's something really satisfying about physically playing a game: shuffling cards, moving pieces, seeing it all spread out in front of you. 

So, what follows are my thoughts on a variety of solo games I've played this spring.

Cartographers 
An incredibly pleasant flip'n'write game that works like a charm as a solo game... and will also work well as a "over Facetime/Zoom" game if you use the solo rules for monster attacks. I'm glad it's in my collection.

Desolate
A print'n'play space survival game... the files are now free from PNP Arcade. It's a lot of inkjet ink for a pretty straightforward solo game. I like it best with the two expansions thrown in - I think there's more decision-making involved and it's easier to set the difficulty level using the characters.

Dice Settlers
I bought this from a friend (hi, Janna!) primarily for solo play - and while I'm still having to fiddle a bit with the scoring numbers to make the AI competitive, it actually flows really well as a "big" solo game. I was pleasantly surprised that it works well as a 2-3 player game too. I managed to find a copy of the Western Sea expansion - which really ups the variety and makes the solo game more compelling.

Friday
Friedemann's wacky deck-builder about keeping Robinson Crusoe alive is still one of the best 1 player games out there. I can't recommend it highly enough. (It was on my Top 50 games list earlier this year.)

Marvel Champions: The Card Game
While Fantasy Flight has struggled to get the hero and villain packs out in ways that people can find them (and the current situation isn't going to make that any easier), I love the really straightforward design of the game and the way it captures the theme. I tend to play 2 heroes when playing solo - though the game is designed to play with a single hero.

For those who've played other LCGs (Living Card Games), this is less complicated than any of the others... some would say "dumbed down". (Sigh.) I find it the easiest to play and teach, due to clear card wording, distinctive superhero graphics, and card design that is relatively easy to read across the table.


Nemo's War
The other solo game that was in my Top 50 games list)... it manages to blend Euro mechanics and old-school wargame elements along with a compelling theme. On top of that, the various objectives change the game and how you play by just changing the scoring to reflect Nemo's vision of a "better" world.

NEOM
I love this multi-player game that mixes city-building and 7 Wonders-ish drafting... and the solo game manages to capture most of that feeling through the clever use of "packets" of tiles. I played two games of this solo last weekend back to back.

Oh My Goods!
Solo play requires the Longsdale in Revolt expansion... but there are some clever things going on in this tricky little card game. I'm also looking forward to finding the second expansion (more scenarios for solo play) and Expedition to Newdale (the board game version of this same world which I really enjoyed playing last fall). Oh My Goods ranks up with Friday and Palm Island for the best games for solo play in small places (like hotel room desks).

Palm Island
This is a weird little deck-builder[?] that I'm not sure entirely works... you hold your entire deck in your hand (17 cards) and flip and turn cards based on resources on the cards. It's kind of fiddly and I'm not sure I know how to get a better score... yet I keep playing it.

Roll for Adventure
A recent co-op game from Kosmos with built-in expansions to increase the difficulty/change the puzzle. It's a dice-driven push-your-luck game with a fantasy theme draped over it. I typically play solo with two random characters. (BTW, solo or multi-player, I like this game much better with 2-3 players/characters than with 4... it feels like the game plays you with four players.)

Roll Player
One of two "RPG character creation" board games from last year... but with the expansion added in, Roll Player is the best choice for solo play. (In fact, I think this is one of the "required" expansions for multi-player play as well... it offers more variety and more options for players on their turn. Most importantly, it gives the game an ending via fighting the big boss that is much more satisfying than "hey, look - I built a character".)

Sauerbaum
This is THE original co-op game... it actually won a special Spiel des Jahres recognition as a cooperative game back in 1988. The problem is that I never feel like I have much control of the game.

Star Wars: Outer Rim
My oldest son and I both love playing this dive into the Star Wars universe - it's a pick up & deliver game with copious thematic elements. The game comes with a solo AI card deck that works... but it isn't a particularly compelling way to play. I'm not likely to solo this one again - but it will hit the table as a multi-player.

Super-Skill Pinball
I blogged about this last week at the Opinionated Gamers site... this is a really great roll'n'write design that was very enjoyable solo and multi-player. See my blog post for information on how to get the preview pinball table right now!

The Pursuit of Happiness
I continue to adore this gamer-friendly version of The Game of Life... and the newest expansion arriving required me to pull it out and play both multi-player and solo. The solo mode is well-thought-out.. players must beat a particular long-term happiness score as well as complete 3 life goals - which can be challenging. (The new expansion and the various Kickstarter extras just continue to add content and variety to this robust system... the delight of creating a life story is a lot of fun.) You can read my original review here.

Unbroken
Not related in any way to the excellent WWII biography... this fantasy survival game has nice production (for a solo game) and is in the same vein game-wise as the aforementioned Desolate: make decisions on what to face, press your luck, and try not to run out of supplies. It works... but I wonder if I'll be played out on it after 5+ plays.

Recommendations


Thinking about buying and/or trading for some new games based on my post (and how long you're likely to be practicing physical distancing)?

If you're new to solo gaming, I'd suggest Cartographers and Friday. For those with a more gaming under their belts, I'd go with Nemo's War, Expedition to Newdale (board game version of Oh My Goods), and NEOM.

And all of us will have to wait for fall 2020 for the full version of Super-Skill Pinball. (sad face)


On My List To Play Solo Soon
  • Dungeon Alliance with the second Adventure Pack
  • Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy
  • Agricola with Farmers of the Moor
  • Hotshots
  • Space Cadets: Away Missions
  • The Colonists

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Some Thoughts on Dragons

Brooks Hanes (and his family) were a part of tc@hh (the church @ hickory hollow)... and when he posted this over the weekend, I asked his permission to re-post it on my blog.

Nowadays, dragons are fun, cuddly beasts. I suppose they have been made nice by our culture. I sense we may be wrong.

Back in the days of Middle Earth there was a different and more natural kind of dragon.

There is a scene in Tolkien’s The Hobbit where the nefarious Smaug is living on, dwelling in, and successfully guarding, what would seem the entire wealth of gold stolen from all of Middle Earth.

Then it hit me like a gold brick in the forehead: I realized dragons have no use for gold. There is nothing to gain from it, nothing to trade, no market of other dragons who can even redeem it for dragon coffee beans.

But there is one thing a dragon can get from it: the foulest and most entertaining pleasure of knowing no one else can have it.

In so many ways, in family, money, power, control, in events, even church, I see that indeed I am like this dragon. I want just so others cannot have.

Praise to God that He saves even the worst of dragons.

First, wow. "I want just so other cannot have." While I have personally managed to hide that sentiment from others, it still can chew away the superstructure of my walk with God... even if nobody else sees it.

Second, I was reminded of another dragon... in another fantasy world - Narnia. 
Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C.S. Lewis)
And I found a wonderful meditation on that chapter from Voyage of the Dawn Treader - one of my favorite passages in the Chronicles - written by Jennifer Nyhart - The Undragoning of Eustace.

Picture is "Smaug's Treasure" by the Brothers Hildebrandt.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Return to Bloodsworn Arena




Nearly four years ago, my two sons & I created a variant for the cooperative superhero card game Sentinels of the Multiverse... which, frankly, is a family favorite. We own all of the physical expansions and we have the full digital version on our iPad. Son the Younger even has a plushy Mr. Chomps (see above).

Yes, it's a sickness. Let's not dwell on that.

When we (and when I say "we", I actually mean "I" - but it sounds better when I included my sons) pledged for the Season 2 Kickstarter of the digital version of Sentinels, one of the things we were most excited about was a Bloodsworn Arena mode. (What follows is the description from the Kickstarter page...)
How many villains can you defeat in a row with the ultimate hero team? Make your own storyline with this randomized campaign mode and last as long as you can. Fans of the game have made several versions of this idea on the tabletop.
If we can reach this goal, Handelabra Games will create an “Arena Mode” for the video game. The details and options of the new mode will be worked out when we get to the design and development stage, and we’ll be getting your input at that time. Some ideas and options include a single fixed hero team with no HP recovery; a drafting mechanic where fallen heroes are replaced; ramping up difficulty with advanced and challenge modes; and more! No matter what, this new mode will keep you on your toes.
Sadly, while the Season 2 Kickstarter was successful, it wasn't successful enough to reach this particular stretch goal.

So, after fruitlessly searching the InterWebs (Homer Simpson: "Oh, they have the internet on computers now!") for some home-brewed Arena rules, we made our own. We offer them here for you as an early Thanksgiving gift. (Homer Simpson: "And Lord, we are especially thankful for nuclear power, the cleanest, safest energy source there is—except for solar, which is just a pipe dream. Anyway, we’d like to thank you for the occasional moments of peace and love our family has experienced. Well, not today, but you saw what happened! Oh, Lord, be honest! Are we the most pathetic family in the universe or what?!")

Enjoy.

The Arena Rules
  • We selected a number of the weaker villains
  • After choosing our team and environment, we shuffled the villains and put the first one into play.
  • We played a normal game of SotM... and when we defeated the first villain, the following things happened:
    • The current hero finished their turn.
    • All defeated Villain cards were removed from the game.
    • All Hero and Environment ongoing cards stayed in place.
    • Heroes retained their current card hand & discard pile.
    • Heroes do not refresh hit points.
    • A new Villain was taken from the stack and set up as usual.
  • The new Villain went first... skipping any Hero turns and/or Environment turns.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat... until the team goes down in a blaze of glory.
How We Did
  • The first time we played, we managed to take out four villains while trapped in Madame Mittermeier’s Fantastical Festival of Conundrums & Curiosities. Things went MUCH better this time.
  • Our team (in player order):
    • Akash'thriya
    • The Hunted Naturalist
    • Unity
  • The environment:
    • the Maerynian Refuge
      • we were working to protect them from an onslaught of villains, right?
  • The villains we defeated (in order):
    • Ambuscade
    • Baron Blade
    • Chokepoint 
    • Deadline 
    • Gloomweaver
    • Kismet
    • Grand Warlord Voss
    • Spite
    • The Ennead
    • Omnitron
    • Iron Legacy
    • Omnitron II
    • Mad Bomber Baron Blade
    • Progeny
    • Skinwalker Gloomweaver
  • The villain who took us out:
    • none of them, though Spite got closer than anyone - we called it good when we defeated the mad god version of Skinwalker Gloomweaver at just over four (4!) hours of playing team
  • Most impressive attack:
    • Unity's team of robots managed to inflict over 100 points of damage in one turn - thanks to be the full mechanical golem team being in play
Yep... four hours. But the fun we had was epic.

Some thoughts:
  • The combination of the Refuge environment and the Naturalist was strong - but adding in Akash'thryia's primordial seeds meant it was never an issue.
  • We did choose villains in sets of four - then randomized them. Progeny & Skinwalker Gloomweaver were specific choices to see if we could survie.
  • Iron Legacy was a cakewalk when we were fully outfitted - he is normally a buzzsaw.
  • We laughed - three different villains "returned" in new forms... and we beat them again.
  • Here's the link to the original Bloodsworn Arena post from November 2016.