Friday, May 12, 2023

Weekly Geekly Rundown for May 12, 2023: Tunnels, Trolls, Movies, HeroQuest, and Martial Arts Mayhem


The roleplaying game market doesn’t often get “big news” and when it does it is usually about Dungeon & Dragons, but this week fans of Old School Roleplaying games were given a really big story. Rebellion, the company that owns 2000 AD and which created the Sniper Elite video game, are now the proud owners and publishers of the Tunnels & Trolls roleplaying game.

Rebellion Developments Limited started in the early 1990s as a video game design company and produced what is in my opinion the best game on the Atari Jaguar system (Aliens vs. Predator). The company grew over time and expanded into publishing with the acquisition of 2000 AD from Fleetway Publications in the early 2000s. They’ve recently expanded their product line to include a number of table top games, including board games and roleplaying games. Prior to their purchase of Tunnels & Trolls, they had the following games in publication.

  • Judge Dredd — A board game Originally Published by Games Workshop during their Board Game era in the 80s.

  • Block Mania and Mega-Mania — Two more former Games Workshop games featuring Judge Dredd. Like the Dredd game above both are fun and original copies are relatively rare and sought after.

  • Dread: Dredd — An Adaptation of the ENNIE Award winning horror roleplaying game Dread to the Judge Dread setting. The game uses a Jenga Tower, or off brand equivalent, for task resolution in a way that builds suspense wonderfully.

  • Tartarus Gate — A pick up and play role playing game of interstellar horror designed by Grant Howitt & Chris Taylor.

  • Tiny in the Tower — A pick up and play role playing game where a group of courageous adventurers have been called upon to investigate the disappearance of a local wizard, the great and powerful Zura Zathra. There’s a twist to the game that should appeal to fans of Mice & Mystics and the cozy fantasy genre.

  • Sniper Elite: The Board Game — Designed by David Thompson and Roger Tankersley, Sniper Elite: The Board Game is a 1-4 player stealth action board game adaptation of the video game where players push their luck and try to predict their enemy.

It’s an interesting mix of products and I’ll be reviewing the two pick up and play role playing games in the relatively near future. Regardless, it’s big news that a major publisher with significant resources has picked up Tunnels & Trolls for publication. The last time Tunnels & Trolls got anything remotely like this kind of potential financial influx was when David Arneson, co-creator of D&D, took some of his settlement money and invested in Flying Buffalo. The result of that was the Catalyst series of products and a number of beautiful published books. Rebellion has the opportunity to set that bar even higher and according to Steve Crompton who works with T&T creator Ken St. Andre on the Monsters! Monsters! line of games (and who was a major contributor to T&T back in the day) Rebellion will be honoring royalty agreements with him and Ken St. Andre. If that’s true, it’s great news indeed.

Tunnels & Trolls was one of the first role playing games I ever played and I’ll make sure to do a couple of reviews in the upcoming months.

What’s the Best Thing About HeroQuest? More HeroQuest.

Since they launched their Crowdfunding campaign for HeroQuest a few years back, Hasbro has been on a tear releasing product after product in support of the line. These releases have included reprints of hard to find and expensive expansions like The Frozen Horror (aka The Barbarian Expansion Pack) as well as new releases like the now near impossible to find Guardian Knight character pack. Their next release, Rise of the Dread Moon, does two things. It provide an entirely new set of adventures (at least for those who don’t didn’t back the HasLab campaign) and it returns the Guardian Knight character to broader circulation in a way that let’s new people buy the character while retaining the collector status of the original.


It’s a great looking set and I can’t wait to get my hands on it because my family and I have been playing weekly sessions of HeroQuest for some time now and are on the lookout for new adventures.

Reviews from my Friend Luke Y. Thompson

My friend Luke Y. Thompson has been a writer/editor for a wide variety of pop culture websites and he has a broad array of interests. Later this week, I’ll be posting the video of a recent chat he and I had regarding Superhero films/shows and wish fulfillment. It’s not an “interview,” but a conversation and I think we go in some pretty interesting directions in it. Needless to say, featuring Luke’s reviews is a regular feature of this column and here are some things he’s reviewed lately.

What if “What if Wes Anderson Directed” Videos Weren’t Generated by AI

I’m a little tired of seeing all the AI generated “What if Wes Anderson Directed” videos that are going around for a couple of reasons. I don’t think the moral/copyright issues surrounding AI have been worked out sufficiently and I think they are standing on the shoulders of much funnier earlier work.

My two favorite “What if Wes Anderson Directed” pieces, at the moment, are the Uncanny X-men one and the Slasher film one by SNL. I think they both manage to capture both the Wes Anderson feel with it’s palette, musical choices, and most importantly the way that Anderson frames a shot. Many of Anderson’s iconic film sequences are filmed/shot in a way that represents exactly what you SHOULD NOT do when framing an image. The spaces are flat and the contrasts are muted. But Anderson knows why those types of shots are bad in general and manages to use them for effect. He breaks the rules because he knows the rules, you know like Picasso did.

The X-men “What if…” captures that Anderson aesthetic perfectly.

The Slasher film short by SNL doesn’t capture the visual and audio aesthetics of an Anderson film as well as Patrick Willhelms’ X-Men film, but the jokes are funny and the acting is strong. My favorite moment is when law enforcement arrives. It’s a great gag that manages to take moments from The StrangersYou’re Next, and a host of other films in the “family under siege” horror genre. I’m a HUGE fan of You’re Next, so I’ve got a soft spot for things that give it a nod.

Classic Film Recommendation

While my next two YouTube video reviews will be for the Anthony Mann directed James Stewart Westerns Winchester ‘73 and Bend of the River, this week’s recommendation leaves the West entirely.

Yes, Madam! is Michelle Yeoh’s feature film debut and it is one of the films that help to cement the “Girls with Guns” genre within the Hong Kong market. The film stars Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock as detectives from different law enforcement agencies as they attempt to acquire a microfilm with information about underworld activities from a group of low level thieves. Yeoh is fantastic in it and you can see the star she would become. The film is directed by Corey Yuen, who is one of my favorite Hong Kong directors.

While Yeoh is the real star of the film, Cynthia Rothrock is also fun here. Rothrock is often fun to watch and I am kind of sad that she never really caught on as an action star in the States. There were a couple of attempts, but she never really got traction. Rothrock isn’t the greatest actor, but neither are many martial artists who got far more success, but she is a worker who put in the time in the Hong Kong circuit and that means she did her own stunts (or at least a lot of them). One of the few good things to come out of the COVID lockdown was that Cynthia Rothrock did a number of Q&As regarding her career and this film was one she discussed.

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