The Geek Guru known only as “Tenbones” has joined with Costume Contumely to share his vast wisdom with the world. It’s the only advice column dedicated to issues of geekdom (that we know of!). If you’re in need of wisdom, insight, or direction, you can email Tenbones at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week: Star Wars indoctrination and type A HeroClix, after the jump.
“My son is going to be two years old soon and I want to introduce him to Star Wars. What I don’t know is where to begin. Should we watch them in sequence starting with episode I, or in order of release date, starting with episode IV? My instinct is to begin with A New Hope because I’m not a huge fan of the prequels, but my friends say that Phantom Menace is more accessible for a two year old, and so I should start with that.
Where should my little padawan’s journey begin?
-Star Wars mom”
Ahh the perennial question for parents with the geek-streak. As a Star Wars purist (and by that I mean I think George Lucas needs a good editor) I have three things:
1) Your son is two years old. You’re really asking, “What do I want to imprint upon the young Padawan as being representative of the glory that is Star Wars?”
2) You obviously take Star Wars seriously (as much as I do anyhow).
3) He’s TWO.
So given that – hands down: Start with Episode IV, and do the Original Trilogy.
“WHY?” I’m glad I asked that…
Simple answer: Because you want your kid to be a Jedi.
Slightly less simple: Because you want imprint on your child a story that has some meaning to it that is universal. The original trilogy, while at two, your son won’t understand any of the nuances – he will understand there are good guys and bad guys, and he’ll learn after watching it several hundred times all those little details that bind all these characters and events together.
He’ll grow up understanding what these elements mean in the big picture – the OT offers a LOT to kids beyond the eye-candy. A LOT. Think about it: good vs. bad, sacrifice, friendship, love, altruism! The folly of anger and fear. Sure he’s not going to get all that now – but he will eventually. It will imprint on him.
Do. Or Do not! There is no Try! All that Jedi wisdom! Think about it. Empire Strikes Back teaches more about self-confidence and the will to do the right thing than 99% of most movies today (beware: bullshit statistic pulled freshly out of nowhere). They don’t beat you over the head with it either. They let the characters speak for themselves.
Later – after your son “gets it” – you can show him the story of how Darth Vader was a whiny brat that grew up to be whiny and cardboard-stiff young adult and turn into Darth Vader. Ironically you’ll have to explain afterwards how such a dumb kid could learn to be cool like he is in the the Original Trilogy.
May the Force be with you, always!
“I am addicted to Heroclix. I’ve been playing for a long time, and recently I got some of my friends into it. They love it too, and we spend way too much time playing. We almost always play Marvel Heroclix, and here’s the issue- they want to start using DC characters mixed in. I’m not cool with that. If they want to play DC Heroclix, that’s fine with me (we actually have played DC on occasion) but I don’t want to mix the two. They say I’m crazy and ocd and that it would be fun to be able to have Thor in the Justice League or have Batman take on the Hellfire Club. My view is this: a big part of Heroclix for me is the role playing fantasy. I play because I want to enter the world of the characters I love. The fantasy is to be inside the Marvel Universe itself. If there are suddenly DC characters running around, it ruins the fantasy. It’s not the Marvel Universe anymore and it just becomes a bunch of friends goofing around. Am I being too anal about it?
Get your peanut-butter out of my chocolate!
First off – CONGRATULATIONS, Kyle, on being a Gaming-Enabler. HeroClix, while not my cup o’ tea is a fun skirmish game, and I know quite a few people that do play it. Either way – hats off to getting some new people into gaming.
Okay you touched upon an important topic – one that is personal to me as well. YOU ask if you’re being too nitpicky – I would ask you this: Do you LIKE those Marvel/DC crossover books? Do you ever notice when you read the Avengers fighting the Squadron Supreme, that the Squadron is really the JLA? Are things like that fun to you? If yes – then YES you’re being nitpicky. But if these crossover events irk you – then no, you simply like your flavors to remain in their respective receptacles, no harm no foul.
But let me make a case for you to take another shot at liking it. YOU said you like the view of HeroClix being a role-playing fantasy. So here’s where I say to you – WHY limit yourself to the fantasy prescribed to you by Marvel OR DC? You do realize it’s just grown men making things up as they go, right?
It’s already well established in both Marvel and DC that they have Elseworlds, and What If’s etc. Both companies DO crossover events – and in some cases it’s canon – Batman vs. the Darkness had some elements that made it into canon. Grendel vs. Batman also affected canon (the HUGE mystery of Grendel’s hole in his forehead coming from Robin shooting Hunter Rose’s skull with an arrow in a crossover event is amazing!) – so from a fantasy role-playing perspective – WHY is it an issue? WHY can’t your game be set and you come up with a reason that the DC characters have shown up?
Now let me ENABLE YOU – Don’t know if you’re aware, but the Marvel Super-Hero RPG is now FREE with all of it’s material, including a TON of fan-material so you can role-play (and you can use your HeroClix for counters!) I’ve run a Marvel game for my group for about 5 years, and I placed it on an alternate Marvel Earth. I re-worked a several DC themes into the Marvel back-story – including a young Superman not quite in his prime, and Batman – but one of my players is a billionaire competitor with Bruce Wayne, but a team-mate of Batman. And five years of playing one game weekly – has led to a LOT of interesting stories in ways one could never have thought of.
Over the years in this game my players, all DIE hard Marvel fans, have created the Justice League (ironically with only Superman the only DC character in there), foiled the Cadmus ‘Operation: Sentinel’ project. They helped Kree Empire stave off an attack from Apokolips. Fought the forces of Set and Serpent Crown – with the help of Thanagarians and Hawkman. Killed Dark Phoenix with help of Super Skrull and the X-men (super-because he’s got Kryptonian DNA). The list goes on. They are all sacred cows from both continuities that like all good story ideas, if treated with respect, go well together.
In other words – don’t let continuity of Marvel or DC get in the way you and your friends having a good time! Marvel and DC don’t even stick to their continuity. So consider the possibility that a Motherbox accidentally(?) booms in Darkseid and his minions against your friends playing the Avengers. Or Kang the Conqueror has opened a rift to the DCU and bamboozle some DCU characters into working for him in the MU? Why not?
If you’re interested in taking a step from skirmish games to full-blown RPG – check out ClassicMarvelForever.com Go to their Downloads section and it’s all right there. I highly recommend this system as the best fast-paced rule’s light superhero game you can get. Best yet: IT’S FREE – and yes, they include TONS of DC characters as well. Lastly, HeroClix are PERFECT for using with their battlemaps!
Got Game? Of course you do.
If you have a question for the Geek Guru, send it along to email@example.com !