Baltimore IT director who went on leave after ransomware attack is no longer employed with the city   


Baltimore IT director Frank Johnson, who went on leave in September amid criticisms over his handling of the recovery from a crippling ransomware attack, no longer works for the city.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, confirmed Monday that Oct. 1 was Johnson’s...


Six-way fight ends with no clear winner in leaders’ debate   


OTTAWA— A two-hour election debate Monday saw federal party leaders clash over ethics, climate change and the economy but saw no one immediately emerge as the clear winner, although they slung one-liners, insults and criticisms across the stage as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s rivals sought to stake a claim to his job as prime minister.

The English debate got off to a hot and bitter start between front-runners Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer after a question from the audience about how each leader would represent Canada’s values and interests on the international stage.

Scheer immediately attacked Trudeau as a “phoney and a fraud” as he challenged the Liberal leader’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair, energy projects, and his economic record. “Justin Trudeau pretends to stand up for Canada,” Scheer said. “He cannot even remember how many times he put blackface on.”

“He’s always wearing a mask,” Scheer continued, pointing to Trudeau’s claims to be an advocate of Indigenous reconciliation, feminism and the middle class.

“You’re a phoney and you’re a fraud and you do not deserve an opportunity to govern this country,” he charged.

The leaders of the progressive parties fought to stake out turf on environmental and everyday concerns of Canadians, while the conservative leaders fought over immigration, pipelines and deficits.

In a second direct challenge between the two main contenders, Scheer turned to attack Trudeau over his failure to present a platform that had been completely costed by the parliamentary budget officer, and over the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Trudeau countered that his platform was costed, and that the Conservatives haven’t presented their entire policy book. On SNC-Lavalin, he said Scheer did not realize the job of a prime minister is to fight for Canadians jobs.

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh jumped in: “What we have here is Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Scheer arguing for who’s worse for Canada,” he said.

The debate marked the first time all six leaders shared a stage. It devolved into a confusing free-for-all at times, but also had moments of collegiality.

Scheer and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May praised Singh for handling incidents of racism in the campaign with grace and class. Singh was accosted by a man in Montreal last week who told him to cut off his turban so he would “look like a Canadian.”

Trudeau agreed Singh had handled racism with “eloquence ... but I’m the only one on the stage that said yes, the federal government may have to intervene” in a court challenge of a Quebec law that prohibits some public servants from wearing visible symbols of their religious faiths.

“Every single day of my life is challenging people who think that you can’t do things because of the way you look,” Singh shot back. “Every single day of my life I channel people who feel that as well.”

Singh said the fact he’s in the race is a challenge to Quebecers to see past his religious garb. “I am running to be prime minister of this country,” he said. “I am going to Quebec and telling people that I want to be your prime minister.”

But later, Singh told reporters that, as prime minister, he might intervene if the case went to the Supreme Court.

There were moments of levity too. In fending off criticisms on the right and left, Trudeau twice called the NDP leader “Mr. Scheer,” prompting laughter. “I’m very, very different from Mr. Scheer,” Singh replied.

When a moderator later also called him “Mr. Scheer,” Singh cracked that “a lot of people are getting me mixed up,” to laughter from the audience. “I wore a bright orange turban on purpose today.”

Singh was the easily the most personable and relaxed leader onstage, and his supporters claimed he’d “won” the night.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was challenged on his social media posts, which described diversity as a cult and called environmental leader Greta Thunberg “mentally unstable.”

“We don’t want our country to be like other countries in Europe where they have a huge difficulty to integrate their immigrants,” Bernier said, prompting Trudeau to claim that Bernier says publicly what Scheer thinks privately.

Singh called Bernier out, saying, “You could have just said, ‘Hey man, I messed up’ because those are pretty horrible tweets.”

Scheer said that Bernier, a former Conservative cabinet minister, was someone who used to believe in an immigration policy that was “fair, orderly and compassionate.

“Now you are making your policy based on trying to get likes and retweets from the darkest parts of Twitter,” Scheer said.

Trudeau was the target in the English debate more than he had been in last week’s French debate. He was taken to task by Bernier, Scheer and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet for fighting with provinces.

Scheer portrayed Trudeau’s carbon-pricing plan as a tax that would raise the price of cost of living, which Trudeau disputed.

He said he’d reversed the pattern of the previous Conservative government under Stephen Harper, whom he accused of refusing to work with the provinces.

But he acknowledged “fighting the defining issue of our time” with some provinces because Alberta Premier “Jason Kenney and (Ontario Premier) Doug Ford, and other Conservative premiers don’t want to do anything on climate change and we need a government in Ottawa that is going to fight them and fight for Canadians.”

May said the Liberal goal for cutting emissions is a “target for losing the fight against climate change,” and she repeatedly challenged Scheer for having no climate action targets.

Singh got off one of the best lines of the night as Trudeau and Scheer bickered over climate change: “Ladies and gentlemen, you do not have to choose between Mr. Delay and Mr. Deny.”

At times, the format choked discussions among the two leading contenders as a cacophony of voices drowned out the debate.

With polls showing a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, Scheer and Trudeau took direct aim at each other when they could, with Trudeau grilling Scheer in the last half-hour over his position on abortion. Trudeau had tried to stay above the fray, adopting a measured and at times oddly low-key stance, but late in the evening exhibited more fire.

He took Scheer to task over backing Conservative candidates who have pledged to take away a woman’s right to choose. Scheer said while he was personally against abortion, the “laws of access” to abortion services have not changed in Canada in 30 years under Liberal or Conservative governments, and would not change under a government led by him.

Singh jumped in, saying, “A man has no position in a discussion on a woman’s right to choose, let me clear on that.”

Singh and Blanchet targeted May for failing to rule out working with Scheer’s Conservatives.

On Indigenous issues, Scheer was challenged for resisting the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights and its requirement that development projects have the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people. May told Scheer the Canadian constitution requires it, and it doesn’t mean you say “we’ll consult you until you agree with us.”

The debate, organized by a group of media organizations that included the Toronto Star, CBC and CTV, is the first of two this week. A French debate is scheduled for Thursday night.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier


GOP Strategist Blasts Trump Over Withdrawal of US Forces from Northern Syria: ‘Toddler-Level Geopolitical Mistake’   

Source: - Monday, October 07, 2019
Republican strategist Mike Murphy slammed as a “toddler-level geopolitical mistake” President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw US military forces from northern Syria, potentially exposing Kurdish allies to an invasion from neighboring Turkey. Speaking with Steve Kornacki on MSNBC’s Hardball , Murphy, a longtime Trump critic, echoed many of the criticisms made by fellow Republicans, who railed against the president’s move , which reportedly caught even Pentagon officials by surprise. Murphy condemned the move as part of a larger discussion about Senate Republicans and their willingness to defend Trump in a possible upcoming impeachment trial. “It’s all about the primary politics. You know, the new logo of the RNC isn’t just an elephant, it’s an elephant running for the tall grass to hide,” Murphy said. “A lot of these politicians, in their heart, they know that Trump is unfit and privately they’ll talk about it, but they’re very afraid of their primary voters.” “A ‘defend Trump’ vote by the time [impeachment] hits the Senate, if it does, which I think is more likely than not, could be real political poison,” Murphy added. “I think the one new factor, today , is the case that Trump should not be there. Not the impeachment case, but the private opinion of Republican Senators’ case, exploded today, because of what Trump did abandoning the Kurds and making a toddler-level geopolitical mistake in northern Syria, which is why
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Today in History: James Wilson’s State House Yard Speech   

Today in 1787, James Wilson made his famous “State House Yard Speech” in support of the Constitution in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania was the first true test for the ratification struggle, and Wilson was asked to explain what the Constitution did and respond to some of the criticisms raised against it. There was open hostility toward the […]

Birthplace of Cuban Painter Wilfredo Lam Collapses in Sagua la Grande   

14ymedio, Havana, 5 October 2019 —  The birthplace of renowned Cuban painter Wifredo Lam collapsed last Sunday in Sagua la Grande, Villa Clara, after heavy rains hit the central region of Cuba. The collapse of the home has generated many criticisms on social networks but no official statement. The property, located on Carmen Ribalta Street between Heredia … Continue reading "Birthplace of Cuban Painter Wilfredo Lam Collapses in Sagua la Grande"

Trump Wants Mitt Romney Impeached For Criticizing Him   


Over the weekend, Donald Trump called for Republican Senator Mitt Romney to be impeached after Romney offered one of the most timid criticisms of the President ever. Trump doesn’t seem to understand how impeachment works, as he also called for Pelosi to be impeached for treason. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains what’s happening. Transcript: […]

The post Trump Wants Mitt Romney Impeached For Criticizing Him appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.


IRS Admits They Target Poor People Because It’s Cheaper   


The IRS came under fire recently after it was revealed that they are auditing poor people at the same rate that they audit the top 1% of income earners. The agency finally responded to these criticisms and they admitted that its just a lot cheaper to go after poor people than it is to go […]

The post IRS Admits They Target Poor People Because It’s Cheaper appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.


Review: Kingdom Death: Monster – Echoes of Death 2:: Marshlight Reviews: Echoes of Death II – Limited Content, Huge Power   


by fenpaints

Official Artwork of the four Echoes characters

Kingdom Death: Monster (Monster) expansions come in a wide range of different sizes, you have the large box expansions that come in two different scales ($60 and $100+) and then you have the smaller mini and micro expansions (which retail for under $100 and around $25). The way I classifiy these is; micro-expansions tend to have a single miniature and 1-3 card content that changes just one single element of the game, while mini-expansions have several miniatures and touch on providing a larger amount of content with multiple aspects.

Echoes of Death II (Echoes II) is the follow up to 2018's micro-expansion Echoes of Death I. The Echoes range provides a set of survivors and unlockable fighting arts that represent reflections of the alternate universe line Kingdom Death: Generic Heroes (hence the echoes title and the flavor text for the store). Echoes I gave us Monster universe versions of the Fighter, Thief, Mage and Necromancer; Echoes II brings us the Cleric, Ranger, Bard and Gladiator.

However this range is not just Monster universe miniatures of the Generic Hero lines clad in their versions of the outfits, it also comes with game content via unlockable “Strain” Fighting Arts and we'll discuss this system a bit further on.

Official Photo of contents of the mini-expansion

I'm going to look at this mini-expansion through four different aspects which are:

1. The Miniature's Sculpts – For Hobbyists
2. The Miniature's Loadouts – For accurate in game useage
3. The Strain System Unlocks – The Strain System as a whole and then the methods to unlock each Fighting Art (along with the one time bonuses gained)
4. The Individual Fighting Arts – How good each one is once gained

This is because the Kingdom Death range represents a hobby experience like the Games Workshop ones, with a combination of board game play and high detail miniatures in the preferred materials for hobbyists (High Impact Polystyrene Sheet aka HIPS and resins of various types). As such this purchase isn't just for miniature painters or board gamers, it's for both categories.

After those four areas we'll wrap it all up with a spoiler free summary of how much value this purchase represents for the various potential purchaser types, so if you want to know 'should I get this' without having a deep dive into spoilers, then skip the strain unlock and fighting art sections.

The Sculpts

This is honestly kind of a conflicted subject for me, while the four miniatures in Echoes II represent an improvement over many of the older miniatures. They are also (mostly) not perfect, with three of them having issues that I find ranging from irritating to poor choices.

The scale on the models is larger than the previous range, there has been a continuous push towards scale creep in Monster models for a long time now and I do welcome this new size, but these models do look obviously oversized when sat next to the Gen I miniatures, often standing a whole head higher than the original starting survivors/armor kits and making the monsters all look a lot less imposing at the same time. It's an odd criticism, because in essence it means 'all of the older models should have been at this scale from the start' which isn't a direct issue when you're talking about this particular expansion – it's more of a problem with the game as a whole. Choose your style and scale from the start and stick with it, these are not Primaris Survivors here.

Assembly of these models is another negative, while there is nothing as awful in design as the ribbon from Echoes I's fighter model (one of the worst miniature components ever tooled in the history of mankind) there are several problematic elements that are hard to fit or easy to break either during assembly or in play. This really isn't a selection of models for the typical board gamer. I'm an experienced hobbyist and I still had several problems with removing the miniatures from the sprues, cleaning them up and assembling them.

We'll look at each individual model now in reverse order of my preference.


The Bard Generic Hero is one of the single most stunning and beautiful miniatures that has been released by APG LLC, so the Echoes version of the Bard has very large shoes to fill. Short version? She doesn't really hold up in comparison.

She suffered breakages of the Whisker Harp when removing her from the sprue due to the connections and thin nature of the plastic and the entire piece is a tricky one to put together. If you are painting her, it is best to leave her separate from her 'chair' by attaching her with a temporary solution until it is time to give her life. This is because painting her once fully assembled is going to result in a lot of difficult angles on the chair, base and her legs/waist.

The model's pose is one that would be better suited to a diorama, though it is amusing to watch her 'recline' her way around the showdown board in a languid fashion if you don't mind your immersion being broken (we've played with Halloween Sexy Cat Suit Zachary, so no problems here). But outside of the oddity of this pose, the sculpt is on the whole good and has few points that will break with ease. I like the 'chair' and face parts of the sculpted base, but the vines are weird and look off. She also looks a little 'squashed' from some angles.

I think overall this one is OK, but nothing special.


This time the Ranger model is an improvement over the original resin version, the model has a dynamic pose and a great expression. However, every time I look at this model I am annoyed by the poor anatomical pose on the right arm and shoulder. It would be natural for someone without a shoulder blade, but as it stands, nope, it's weird and should have been sent back to the digital sculptor for a little repositioning.

The other problem issues are arrows on the base, which are potential break points that have a very awkward piece of plastic to remove and we also have the perplexing situation of the lack of a full sculpt on the base. I love the face and mist we have on there so much, but there was no real benefit to this partially sculpted base insert and it just feels a bit lazy.


The Cleric has very few elements in common with her original resin version, she has a similar hair and bun on her head, a skin-tight suit and that's about it. As you can see from the picture above, I did not like the original chest on this model, rather than looking like armor it looked like some kind of latex rubber suit with bizarre separate “pockets” for each breast. A little work turned it into a cute Gorment halter top and it has helped fix the unnatural way she looked before.

Chest issues aside, this model is very cute, standing on a base filled with debris and body parts she evokes the scene of someone exploring a Gorm Den with extreme caution. Her shield is nicely detailed and there's a lot of scope to paint her either fully covered up or with some exposed skin (as I did because I enjoy painting skin tones).

Breakage points on this model are the lantern and the mace. While the arms are durable to an extreme level, the mace has a very thin rod and the lantern almost broke multiple times while cleaning it from the sprue connections because of how thin and intricate the design on the handle is. She should hold up fine if she doesn't break when cutting and building.

Cute model, great atmosphere and story telling, but has issues in the design and tooling.


This one is head and shoulders the strongest sculpt in Echoes II, the Gladiator has few structural weak points, is a straightforward assemble and looks just powerful as heck. I adore her pose and the flair her gear has, everything about her just looks good.

About the only complaint I have here is the same as the Ranger, she comes with a partial base sculpt for no real benefit. A full insert would have been appreciated here and it's odd that two survivors get a full base insert and the other two just get some small pieces of terrain. It would be easier for non-hobbyists if they had full inserts.


As mentioned above, for those people who want their models to closely mimic the gear they have in game, I am going to examine the fixed narrative nature of these sculpts and discuss how useful what they have is in game. It is worth acknowledging in brief that the game's mechanics favour female hunters over male ones and that the 'optimal' hunt party is 3-4 women, so having these miniatures all be female is not a negative. (That written, thank goodness that we will get male options in this new scale going ahead, Gadrock from the Gigalion is so much smexy in one model).

The Bard has sort of White Lion Armor, with a dagger of some kind, an odd hat and a whisker harp. Her loadout is pretty close to useless in game. Whisker Harps are rarely used outside of Nemesis showdowns, White Lion Armor has a huge pile of problems and daggers are one of the weakest weapon types currently available. It's rare that this model will fit with anything you're doing.

The Ranger's loadout is probably the strongest one available. It's almost full Rawhide Armor with a Catgut bow and Cat's Eye Circlet. The only weak point here is the inclusion of White Lion Gloves on the arms instead of a full rawhide set, those arm pieces do absolutely nothing at all for an archer (they're also useless for anyone who doesn't also have the body piece that combos with it), so it would be a very untypical, 'make do' build that uses them.

The Cleric's loadout is another very solid one, it's full Gorment with a Knuckle/Leather Shield and what appears to be a Riot Mace. Gorment Armor is not a great armor set in the big scheme of things; but if you are going to use it then this is one of the more useful loadouts (I prefer grand weapons, spears or bows, but a club and shield is absolutely fine).

Last of all; as much as I adore the Gladiator's miniature, her loadout is easily the worst of the bunch. It's Phoenix Gauntlets + Helm, Leather or Lantern Cuirass on the body (I painted it as lantern due to the mantle, but it could easily be leather), White Lion Skirt/Boots, a Leather Shield and a Lantern Glaive.

This is essentially a pile of nonsense gear that has close to no synergies and just looks good. You're probably best off pretending it's full Phoenix armor as Phoenix works quite well with spears.

Strain Unlocks

Strains are a mechanic that was introduced in Echoes I and has since been present in multiple different expansions. This is a simple form of a legacy unlock which is enjoying a retroactive insertion into Monster. In the case of the Strain fighting arts, there is a finite limit to how many of them you can have in the deck per campaign. Once you are at this limit new ones replace old ones in the deck and when you start a new campaign 5 unlocked Strain Fighting Arts are mixed into the deck at the beginning.

The first time you unlock a strain, the survivor who reached the milestone card gets a small bonus and the fighting art. This is a one time thing unless you choose to completely reset your game back to the start.

Overall the strain system is an interesting one, but its something for the hardcore player because you need to play many, many sessions in order to unlock everything. That's not a bad thing, but if you are a casual player who can't get more than 1-2 sessions a month, you might want to think hard before getting this for the game content.

Now lets look at each strain unlock!

Memetic Symphony → Infernal Rhythm

Unlocks during the Weird Dream settlement event as long as the storyteller mentions a dreaming survivor hearing the Devil's Symphony and everyone decides the story was “Well Told”. Gives the Infernal Rhythm Fighting Art to the survivor and adds it to the deck.

This is a super easy unlock as long as you're not playing solo, the Devil's Symphony isn't a listed element of the weird dream options, so you just need to jam it in via your story and have it judged as 'well told'. Weird Dream is one of those odd roleplaying moments stuck into the game that doesn't gel well with every single person who plays this game, so it can feel very forced to get this.

Solo players cannot unlock this at all because Weird Dream has a fixed result for solo players.

To be practical, what this strain unlock reads is 'unlocked when you draw Weird Dream'. So that makes it an easy unlock.

Hyper Cerebellum → Shielderang

Unlocks when two survivors with the Prey disorder have a newborn. Gives the newborn survivor 3 levels of Shield Proficiency, weak spot – body, the Shielderang fighting art and adds the card to the deck.

The hardest part of this is getting two survivors with Prey. The more expansions you own, the more disorders you have in the disorder deck and means the odds of getting 2x Prey randomly is not high. There are a few ways you can 'force' a survivor to gain Prey and the most direct way of doing this is to choose 'Treasure the Mystery' during the Principle: Conviction timeline event. You'll get 4x departing survivors with +1 luck and Prey 50% of the time during that event (at the cost of all your resources). This means it's the kind of thing you should unlock within 2-4 runs that reach Principle: Conviction stage (Romantic Principle > Barbaric Principle anyway).

The survivor specific bonuses on this one are amazing, a newborn with 3 ranks of weapon proficiency in shield plus a relevant fighting art is perfection.

Marrow Transformation → Rolling Gait

Unlocks when The Hand removes a broken leg from a survivor with Bow Specialization. They gain the Rolling Gait fighting art and it is added to the deck.

This one is a hard one to put together, you've got to get a broken leg on a survivor (8 result on the leg severe injury), train them in bow use and have them be present in the Hand fight with the Applause (stalling) ending. This is easiest to achieve in People of the Stars where you can pick to fight the Hand multiple times and Dung Beetle Knights are very good at damaging survivor legs if you are trying to force this.

We are fortunate that you don't need to beat the Hand via 'Respect' to get this one, but it seems that APG LLC wants to continue the meta of kowtowing to the Hand more.

Surgical Sight → Convalescer

The easiest of all these unlocks, Ocular Parasites happen when a certain number of settlements encounter the Game Over condition. Check out that part of your rulebook, it's on page 123. You need a total of 15 lost settlements to have the parasites around and then all you need to do is draw the Extra Sense fighting art. The survivor who drew it gains the blind severe head injury.

This one just takes time, it's possible to game this by killing off your settlements deliberately, but I don't know who would actually do that. Regardless, regular players with settlements that die fast will hit this condition faster than those who have successful settlement runs.

Considering how low the skill bar is for unlocking this particular fighting art is; one would assume that Convalescer is going to be a weak fighting art....

The Fighting Arts

It's time to take a look at each fighting art and assess how strong they are! Strain fighting arts trend towards being stronger and more complex than your normal fighting arts and it has been alleged that the harder to unlock strains are the more powerful ones (spoiler, that's not the case). We'll move through them in the same order we put the unlocks.

Infernal Rhythm
This fighting art turns any instrument you use into a turbo version of the Cat's Eye Circlet. Hit Location manipulation is one of the stronger mechanics in Monster (AI manipulation is stronger), and having an option to get access to solid HL Manipulation without needing to wear the Circlet is an interesting addition.

In addition to this bonus ability, you have whatever benefits of the original instrument and also a 'rebate' ability where every 5 activations of the instrument gives you a way to give other survivors a bonus dash and activation. That's a heck of a refund on your already powerful instrument/fighting art.

The drawback of this however is that instruments are notorious for being problematic on hunts because of how the unavoidable 'kill you for having noisy gear' event the Harvester works. As a consequence, the only “silent” instrument aka Gorn is the main instrument used on hunts and it is a expensive expansion only Gorm item. The main game options are the Whisker Harp, which “optimal play” uses it only during nemesis fights and the rawhide drum which might as well never have been printed because it still stinks after a revision in 1.5.

Infernal Rhythm is great, and if we get hunt environments without the Harvester (or you house rule that event to not exist) then it is a fun and powerful support fighting art for players who prefer not to attack (like me!) In the 100% official game it's not that great without the Gorm expansion available.

However, considering how simple this one is to unlock, it is very strong.

As long as you have a shield in your gear grid you get to ignore the first severe injury you suffer each showdown and when you have Shield Specialization you can 'throw' your shield with reach 3 and bonus strength.

This one is an absolute doozy. Shields are a very powerful weapon, but they have a terrible offensive strength. This fighting art means that once you are past rank 3 on your proficiency, you start to gain more strength to attack with it. In addition it turns shields into a reach 3 melee weapon, which has massive power when used with Monster Movement Armor sets – the most powerful of these is Dragon Armor, but Phoenix Armor is a close second (and works well with the Gladiator miniature).

I love this fighting art and I feel that it is about the right level of strength for its unlock difficulty.

Rolling Gait
The first of the two Rolling Gait abilities is a decent quality of life feature for an archer, if you're unable to fire from your current position you can 'store' your activation to allow you to move and fire the following turn. Not super strong, but sometimes useful.

The second ability however, that one is incredible. If you hit a monster while you are outside of its facing, you place a 'Flinch token' on the monster. Each Flinch Token cancels the next reaction the monster would have. Reactions are a huge part of how a monster stops you from beating it down without consequences and anything that cancels these is powerful. It's one of the reasons why Grand and Katars are so popular in the early game, they have ways of cancelling reactions on their specialization. With enough Flinch spamming monsters can effectively have all of their reactions cancelled (with the exception of traps and things like the Dung Beetle Knight's Century Carapace).

There are some positive reactions that this also cancels and because it's not optional, this doesn't mean that the fighting art is without weakness, but it is still an extreme power level fighting art that is difficult to unlock, but once you have it for your archer(s) everyone is going to benefit.

The final strain fighting art in Echoes II represents an absolute design mistake. This fighting art is at least one of the top five fighting arts in the game and you could call it the strongest one without being wrong.

Convalescer give all your weapons the club keyword when attacking (wording is a little poor on this part), you remove an extra bleeding token when removing any, you gain +1 extra survival when doing so and whenever you add armor points you increase that amount by one.

The club keyword being given to weapons is pretty strong, and the survival + bleeding improvements are great as well, but the armor points one is the single strongest ability we've seen printed on a fighting art since the game was released. This one is nutty when you start to look into it.

The reason for this is, this ability works anytime, so it triggers during the showdown when you activate Bird Bread, on the hunt when you find something that adds armor to you and most important of all, it triggers when departing. This last one is where all the problems kick in. When departing you have multiple different things that each separately add armor points. Armor sets, shields, shrine, lights in the sky, shield specialization, Gorn etc etc.

A Convalescer survivor with full rawhide armor, a leather shield and shrine alone departs with 7 armor points on all locations. Seven! That's on par with the amount that most mid or late game tanks muster and it's using starter armor, a basic shield and an easy to gain/activate innovation. You can hit a lot higher numbers than that.

If Convalescer only worked during showdowns then these problems could have been avoided and the fighting art would have become more of a support one, but as it stands right now this is your premium tank fighting art. They get club (great tank fighting art), plus survival/bleeding protection and masses of armor points. It doesn't feel like this one was thoroughly tested and it's one of several places where the wording and mechanics feel fuzzy in this expansion.

And as mentioned before, this one doesn't require rare circumstances or clever strategy to unlock, everyone gets this one eventually.


There is a lot of value in this expansion for dedicated players who are hobbyists; the miniatures (criticisms aside) are better than anything that comes in the Gen I stuff and have a lot of character baked into them. While there are some areas that can prove challenging for beginner to intermediate modellers and present issues for even the experienced hobbyist, they have character that's not been since in any of the armor kit models and you can see why APG LLC is moving towards narrative sculpts over modular ones.

The game content varies in how difficult it is to unlock, casual players should be able to get their hands on Infernal Rhythm and Shielderang without too much time investment, but Rolling Gait represents a challenge and Convalescer is a huge time investment. For those of you who already have Echoes I, the addition of the two dividers – one for strains and the other for the strain fighting arts represents some additional value, the updated rules are less important, they exist only to cover the situation that there are now 8 strains fighting arts and the implication we'll be getting another 4 next Gencon.

The four fighting arts are all at a minimum, very strong and will increase the power of any settlement that has access to them, so they are an assistance for players who are having difficulty with success in the game. But to be honest every single one of them represents a severe power creep over previous content and one of them makes the game almost trivial.

As such, I feel that this mini-expansion is best left for the dedicated player (at least once a week sessions), collectors who can afford to pay commission painters to really bring these models to life or hobbyists who enjoy the challenge of painting these complex character filled sculpts. $60 for 4 quality miniatures and some game content is not the best deal for pure board gamers however and there are better expansion options already available for the same price. So don't let the Fear Of Missing Out fool you, this is a dedicated player and hobbyist purchase at heart.


SUSPIRIA Day 6: ruth bré   


The other day, I talked about one of the film's perfect moments, a reaction shot of Susie that happens during a post-audition conversation with Miss Tanner. Tanner explains that the Company cannot pay the dancers much, so they also offer free accommodations. She prefaces this by saying "We operate as a sort of Ruth Bré collective."

The first couple thousand times I saw Suspiria, Angela Winkler's heavy accent kept me from hearing "Ruth Bré" clearly. On a recent re-watch (for Gaylords of Darkness, natch) I finally parsed it out and made a note of it, because I had no idea what that meant or who Ruth Bré is or was or what. Now I do! And she's worth talking about, particularly in the context of this film.

"Ruth Bré" is the pseudonym of Elisabeth Bonnes, a German feminist poet and author working in the late 19th-early 20th century. She was an eccentric, operating on the fringes, unloved by the establishment, and largely unsuccessful as a poet.

In 1904, she founded the Bund für Mutterschutz, or The Society for the Protection of Mothers. (Sometimes it's credited Liga für Mutterschutz, or The League for the Protection of Mothers.) Essentially, she sought to "end the capitalist rule of man" and make society matriarchal again. Bonnes felt like a second class citizen, at a severe disadvantage not only because of her gender but because she was born out of wedlock. She wanted to change the concept that people could be "illegitimate" due to circumstances of birth. She revered mothers and motherhood, and the "mother-colonies" she founded were meant to be a safe place in the countryside where single mothers could flourish alongside their children.

Eventually in-fighting over the direction of the group led to Bonnes's ouster at the hands of another German feminist/activist, Helene Stöcker. Stöcker expanded the scope of the BFM's advocacy to include varied sexual politics, such as abortion rights and sex education.

It is such a small line of dialogue. Even missing it entirely certainly didn't damper my obsession with Suspiria (obviously). But knowing what and who it means and the weight of it has only made my respect for this film and David Kajganich's incredible, incredibly layered script even more.

Making a seldom-known, all-but-forgotten early 20th century German feminist artist central to the Tanzgruppe's model and philosophy is a masterstroke. Of course the Markos Company is "a sort of Ruth Bré collective"–she was an outcast, operating outside of (and unappreciated by) the patriarchy. She certainly understood the importance of a woman's financial autonomy. She venerated mothers. Even the fact that her visions of a matriarchal utopia fell to infighting amongst the women, speaks to the Tanzgruppe.

This deliberate inclusion, this example of the research and care behind Suspiria is, in part, why I'm always taken aback when I see criticisms of the film's politics. I've read claims that none of it means anything, that it has little to say and it's all on the surface. That there's no weight to it. I wonder if those people saw the same film I did? Maybe they, too, should have taken some notes.
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