Letter to Celestia – a MLP game based on Love Letter

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Munchkin Loot Letter

The Premise (or, “why bother?”)

I bought Love Letter for my kids under the assumption it was a classic game with lots of opportunity for repeat game play. And for the most part, that proved true. However, the basic premise of the game (the suitor wooing the girl) and the artwork (a bit – ahem – Medieval misogyny) didn’t appeal much to my daughters. So we moved on Loot Letter, a game I found out later was based on the popular role-playing game Muchkin (sidenote: after I bought Munchkin for my daughters, they played it every day at least twice…going on a month now. Great. Game.). This was much more fun, and yet…something was missing.

As HUGE fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (and Equestria Girls, of course), we decided to create our own MLP version. Naturally, we started with a Google search to see if other fans had come up with the same idea. We found this one (bold, but didn’t have enough instructional detail for new game players), this one (nice! but didn’t have the look we were after),  and this one (cool, but based on EG, not MLP:FIM).

So we decided to make our own!

The Cards

2016-02-10 19.57.16We ignored the sets we found and listed out the eight cards. Then we mapped a pony to each role. This was an iterative and collaborative process (with a 12, 10, 8, and 6-year-old…super fun!) that resulted in a surprising amount of agreement.

We Googled for the best images to use (we considered – but ultimately didn’t worry about – copyright issues). I came up with a few card designs and modified them based on the girls’ feedback.

I then printed out the prototypes, cut and laminated them, and tested them with the girls. While the girls were satisfied with my rough deck, I wasn’t. Comparing a few card deck-producing services, I chose makeplayingcards.com, which offered bridge-sized cards in a finish and a price point that was very attractive. With a hinged plastic case and only 18 cards (16 game cards and 2 instructions/card lists), this provided plenty of space for the scoring tokens. I was insanely pleased with the results and we’ve been playing with these almost every day since they arrived. 

The Tokens

At first, I opted for Swarovski crystal beads for the token, but though they were SPARKLY!! they were hard to handle and keep from getting lost. We then tried plastic pony beads (pony…get it?!?!) and, while easier to handle (and cheaper), they had the tendency to roll away. I finally found small plastic cubes that work perfectly!

The Full Deck

If you’re interested in printing your own version, either:

I hope you have as much fun with this game as we do!

 

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Avengers Assembled Collector’s Set: this is the future of physical media

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After almost a year of waiting, I received my Avengers Assembled 10-Disc Blu-ray set and, to my surprise, It was worth the wait. And while the DVDs are obviously the centerpiece of the set, the extras are why fans like me shelled out a few extra bucks. But are the extras worth it?

Between the HD-quality streaming and digital download options, any movie that I actually want to watch more than once I’m likely to stream or buy a digital version. Amazon, Netflix streaming, and a few other services amply feed my media consumption, so I rarely feel the need to purchase a physical DVD anymore.

The Avengers collector’s set was obviously meant for fans who want some exclusive goodies, but without a cosplay price tag. Unboxing the set, you’re eyes feast on a chromed SHIELD briefcase. The cheap plastic of the case, non-functional clasps, and a handle that is too short to fit any but a child’s fingers all somewhat take away from the overall experience. But at the price point, it’s still nice packaging. And a button under the handle lights up the center circle of the case which is a nice touch.

Opening the case reveals a light-up Tesseract cube set within a plastic tray. Again, it’s the details that take away from the experience: The plastic Tesseract cube’s batteries were dead and the flimsy tray popped out when I removed the DVDs. I replaced the tray easily enough, however, and I was able to replace the button batteries in the cube (though it proved to be rather temperamental to get to flash, requiring several violent smacks to activate).

The set is definitely not designed to be treated roughly like, say, by kids. Thankfully, mine have had lots of practice and know to stay away from other attractive toys like Daddy’s Lego sets, Daddy’s RC cars, and Daddy’s Transformers.

Fortunately, the four dossiers on Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor make up for the shortcomings of the rest of the set. Included within each are memorabilia and trinkets fans will instantly recognize from each of the movies. The plentiful contents of each folder will provide plenty of enjoyable perusing.

The fifth folder is a SHIELD file with information about the Tesseract itself. It also includes personnel files on Black Widow and Hawkeye. A sealed envelope contains an access card and decoder lens that, once I found the report that matched it, revealed a message pointing me to a website. Thinking it was going to provide exclusive downloads or perhaps an augmented reality game (similar to what the show Lost did a few years back), I immediately logged on (using the access code on the card). The site currently only contains a video preview of Phase 2 of the Avengers franchise, which looks to be every bit as good (if not better) than Phase 1. I hope Marvel has plans to build out the site further, since it has the potential to rally fans before each of the new movies is released.

Avengers - Phase Two

So does exclusive collectible memorabilia make buying physical media more attractive? Or is DVD publishing doomed to the history books along with 8-tracks and Laserdisc?