Kingbeast's Lair

Growling about the RPG industry and my gaming life. RPG and anime reviews from a passionate fan. (Formerly John's Hero HQ.)

Archive for the ‘Games’

B.O.T.Y. Call!

March 14, 2021 By: John Taber Category: Product Reviews

During the Pandemic I have been ordering craft beers from various establishments. In fact I ordered from 8 different craft breweries. I not only want to support local small businesses but I want to find some awesome beer as well. This blog post is the summary of my beer adventure over the last year. I am calling it…


I will pick some arbitrary categories. In each category I will pick one beer that blew me away and one runner-up. Finally I will pick a BEER OF THE YEAR and BREWERY OF THE YEAR.

Ales And Pilsners

I added 3 beers to my favorites list in this category this year. The winner is a surprise. I pick Side Of Rice from Moonlight Brewery. Side Of Rice is a wonderfully light and crisp beer from the folks who make Death & Taxes. (Death & Taxes is a well known stout beer of theirs.) Sermin really liked this one as well. (FYI. Sermin likes, “Beers that taste like beer.” )


Side Of Rice from Moonlight Brewing


Pool Haus from Bare Bottle Brewing


Unlike ales and pilsners I added a lot of IPA to my favorites list this year (eg 8). The competition is fierce in this category. The winner here was amazing. You can read more about it later. Hint hint. Final Fantasea from Humble Sea Brewing. The runner up was tough but edging out Pliny The Elder from Russian River is Giants Grove from Bare Bottle Brewing. Bare Bottle took home a lot of runner-up trophies. Hint hint.


Final Fantasea From Humble Sea Brewing


Giants Grove from Bare Bottle Brewing


The stout category was another hot contested category. I added 9 beers to my favorites list this year! The winner is CBS (aka Canadian Barrel Stout) from Founders. CBS is dark, rich, and smooth. This one knocked me out of my chair. Not a tiny brewery, Founders has a lot of great stuff. This one might be the easiest to find on the list. The runner up was Maple Coco Gnar Gnar from Humble Sea Brewing.


CBS from Founders


Maple Coco Gnar Gnar from Humble Sea


I added 3 to the list but all were pretty great. The winner is Chronicale from Pizza Port Brewing. This is one that Steve recommended to me and it did not disappoint. Nice texture, rich flavor, and tastes like an amber. This was Sermin’s favorite beer of the year. She wants me to buy more of it. The runner-up was also a recommendation from Steve!


Chronicale from Pizza Port Brewing


Colossus Of Clout from Strike Brewing

Belgium Beers

I tried 5 or 6 during the year but only one made the favorites. Again a recommendation from Steve. Steve knows his beer. Brother Thelonius from North Coast Brewing. This one has a wonderful finish, a nutty flavor, and is a joy to drink. I also got one of their cool t-shirts. Of the 5 or 6 I tried most were Belgium beers from Belgium. North Coast blew them all away. No runner-up here at all.


Brother Thelonius from North Coast


My BOTY is Final Fantasea from Humble Sea. I was able to get 4 packs during the release. I poured it into my glass and smelled it. Tart and fruity. I took a sit then stood there…stunned. I took another sip. The flavor, the complexity, the hops. This is one of the best beers I have ever tasted. It is off the charts amazing.


Final Fantasea from Humble Seas


The BOTY runner-up is actually another IPA. Giants Grove from Bare Bottle was another winner IPA that I tried this year. Giants Grove has a spruce sort of flavor and just the right amount of hops. This one is wonderful.


The BREWERY OF THE YEAR was super easy to pick…Humble Sea. I tried 4 different beers from them and I everything was very good. Also they produce new beers WEEKLY and ship for FREE to Santa Clara. Win. Win. Win.

Humble Sea


The runner-up here was tough but I am going with Bare Bottle. Two of the runner-up entries are from them. I ended up ordering from them twice as they are a Santa Clara brewery and I wanted to support local guys. 🙂

Aeropress vs Pure Over

March 03, 2021 By: John Taber Category: Product Reviews

A friend on Facebook asked me to compare the Pure Over and Aeropress. For those not up coffee brewers this is comparing the old standby (aka the Aeropress) to the upcoming challenger (aka the Pure Over).

What are these?

The Aeropress is comprised of 2 plastic pipes and a plastic filter cover that when combined act as sort of a “coffee plunger”. You put in a circular paper filter, coffee, and hot water then plunge directly into a cup. In some ways this is closer to an old school coffee press just much better designed. I own two Aeropress. I have one of the older models and a new model. I love them both but I like the newer model a bit better. You can get them in a complete kit for $35 at Amazon.


  • Brews a cup in 20 seconds following the instructions. Maybe 60 seconds including the cleanup time! Fast.
  • The coffee is hot.
  • Super easy cleanup. Pop the coffee puck into the trash then under the faucet.
  • No grounds in the cup at all. The filter works great.
  • Indestructible. Can be safely put in a backpack, suitcase, etc.


  • Uses paper filters. They are cheap but it still uses them.
  • If you want to wash all of the plastic components I have always done so by hand.
  • The resulting coffee is a bit on the mellow side when compared to the Pure Over.

The Pure Over is a glass decanter with an associated glass filter diffuser top. You put the coffee in the decanter, put on the glass diffuser top then pour in the hot water. The Pure over is really a straight pour over device just with no paper filter at all. It is glass, coffee, and hot water.


  • No filters. Glass + coffee + hot water.
  • Easy cleanup. Wipe out the coffee grounds into the roses then run under the faucet. Potentially clean out the ceramic base a bit too.
  • Rich and bright cup of coffee.
  • Dishwasher safe.


  • Coffee takes at least 2 minutes to brew and at the end I need to stir it softly as the instructions suggest.
  • Coffee takes time to brew and it not as hot when you are done.
  • You need to use a bit more coffee than the Aeropress to get good results.
  • Grounds do make it into the cup. I use a conical burr grinder set on course and still get a wash of coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup.
  • I am not coordinated. I feels like I am walking around eggshells when the Pure Over is on my coffee cup. It seems really fragile.
  • Costs more than the Aeropress.

My Take

Before I jump into my choice and why I want to point out that both of these devices are freakin’ amazing. They both work great and get you a super cup of coffee.

If you want to impress your friends with an amazing cup of coffee pull out the Pure Over. If you want a great day-to-day brewer get the Aeropress.

And the winner is…the Aeropress. I adore the speed, cleanup, and durability.

Big Bad Con 2019 Recap

October 14, 2019 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings

One of my Sipping Primordial Soupers asked me to review the games that I played at Big Bad Con 2019. I thought I would take that a step farther and post a recap of my Big Bad Con 2019 experience. This post rambles around quite a lot so be warned. 🙂

The Games

Here are the games that I played in order that I played them. This year every RPG I played was new to me. Even though games at Big Bad Con focus on small-press offerings often I have the game at home or have even played it at one time or another. This year that was not the case.

On Friday afternoon I played the DIE RPG with Carl Rigney. DIE is a roleplaying game from Kieron Gillen who wrote a graphic novel of the same name. The RPG is in the beta stage and is free to download ). The settings is very meta. The characters are troubled adults who are meeting back up with their old gaming group for one last session. During this session they are thrown into a fantasy world where they become their character. The great twist is that they can only return to the real world if everyone in the group agrees to return. That means these messed up people need to decide if they should stay in this fantasy world where they might have powers or return to their messed up lives. The session was amazing. I played a man from a broken home who wants to be accepted and trusted by his friends. He is currently a PI and has “helped” his friends catch a cheating spouse and is actually seeing one of the ex’s. His sister was actually played by the GM Carl who is also one of the characters…but still the GM. Meta. The game was amazing! DIE would likely be best to complete in maybe two or three s sessions was expertly handled in one. Carl Rigney is really amazing…this was my first choice game during registration and my favorite game at Big Bad Con 2019.

Friday night I fortuitously got into a game of Into the Dark with Stras Acimovic. My Friday night game got cancelled so I signed up for a different game. Then the week before the con when I was reviewing who would be at the con I noticed that Stras would be there so I packed my Scum & Villainy and saw that they would be selling a new ashcan of a game called Project: Perseus. So I looked up what games there would be running so I could get an autograph. I found that Stras was running a new game in playtesting called Into The Dark and signed up. The game and Stras did not disappoint. Into the Dark is a horror fantasy setting where you play a group of delvers who brave a supernatural darkness called the Murk to seal off these wells where monsters spawn. We played a mission where a crazy spider queen monster called a Weaver was taking people and creatures from the Murk and stitching them into crazed beasts. I played a warrior called a Murk Hunter. The system is a stream-lined hack of Blades In The Dark. You could tell this genre is directly in Stras’ wheelhouse. It was twisted, dark, and thrilling at the same time. I will DEFINITELY pick up this one to run with Sipping Primordial Soup as it is perfect for one-shots.

Saturday morning I took part in the playtest of a co-op card game called TREADS where you play members of a Sherman tank crew during WW2. Only one other player showed up so Mark Richardson (Headspace), the person creating the game, ran several of the tank positions. I played the Commander position of the tank which was really fun. The look of the game…even with makeshift components…was amazing. It plays kind of like a tower defense game with threats emerging from the sides of the board. It was deadly. We might have been close to winning but likely we would have died before depleting the threat deck which is the objective of the game. I think Josh would adore this game so if TREADS does get released it will be on my buy list.

Saturday afternoon I played my second favorite game of the con. Brian Isikoff…who is another amazing local GM and a gaming buddy…ran a game of The Expanse from Green Ronin. The Expanse uses a variant of the AGE system that is found in several other Green Ronin products. I had no experience with AGE or The Expanse properties. All of the other players had experience with The Expanse either through the books or TV show. The game revolved around a group of luxury cargo haulers who get sucked into several crazy schemes. The games was a fun romp through the setting with a great set of players. My highlight was a smaller side mission with a unusual passenger. This is another one that I plan to pickup and consider running for Sipping Primordial Soup. If you get a chance to game with Brian do it. 😀

Saturday night I played a round of Spirit Island. I had played Spirit Island once at Big Bad Con last year and decided to try it again. The game is a co-op worker placement area control game. The conceit is that the players are island gods trying to scare settlers off their island. The game is complex even with the base rules and luckily we had an amazing person to help us learn how to play. Even though I have a copy I had not had the chance to play it as I think it is a bit too complex for most of the board gamers at my disposal. Had a fun time playing a lightning spirit.

Sunday morning I played my last game of the con which was an amazing session of Blade & Crown with Brian again. Blade & Crown is an OSR feeling game set in a middle-age feeling fantasy setting. In this session the players were the stars. To me all of the lady players is what made this session fun. There was a sexy crafty thief, an amazing water wizard, a priest who wanted to be a pope, and a merchant played by the ladies. It was a blast going through the adventure called The Bandit Map. The adventure itself was so nice that I may purchase it just to lovingly borrow the material for another system. The system was OSR and a bit crunchy but seemed to flow to pretty well. It was pretty gruesome if you got hit. Another home run session from Brian.


One of the things that I personally love about Big Bad Con is the amount of amazing game designers that show up from all around the country. I bring books with me to get signed and every time I get to speak with the authors they are so friendly. This time I got signatures from Avery Adler (Monsterhearts, Dreams Askew, Quiet Year), Brie Beau Sheldon (Turn, Script Change), James D’Amato (Two great RPG books and the One Shot Podcast), Stras Acimovic (Blades In The Dark designer credits, Scum & Villainy), Karen Twelves (Improv For Gamers), and Strix (Bluebeard’s Bride). Also at the con I chatted with Jason Morningstar (Fiasco, Night Witches), Hannah Shaffer (Noirlandia, Damn The Man), Sanguan (Moonflower), and I heard the Storybrewers Team was at the con but I did not get to meet them. I was bummed that I did not hear they would be attending before I arrived. 🙁

Jason Walters And Oh Yeah IPR

Big Bad Con is also a chance I get to see old friends. Jason was the top of my list when I heard IPR would be providing the games for the dealers room. Jason is such a dear friend. We were able to catch up on our families and gaming lives on several occasions. Gosh love Jason to bits. Also IPR provided some killer stuff. I picked up Royal Blood which Jason put aside for me, several expansions for The Spire, The Quiet Year, and Flotsam. Looks to be some killer stuff.

Wrap Up

Big Bad Con 2019 is in the top 3 gaming conventions I have ever attended and I have been to a ton of them. This convention is run so amazing well. Some things that really stand out to me about Big Bad Con are the openness to people of color, acceptance of people with different identities, friendliness and helpfulness of the staff, and the desire to make sure everyone is happy. Sean Nitner who runs Big Bad Con is amazing. Some of the changes for this year were great so I want to point them out. At every table were standees where people could put their names and character names. Nice touch. They also had small-press designer showcases where people could talk about their games and sell them. This was neat but I would have loved to have had more information in the program about when each was scheduled and maybe a paragraph about what they would be showing. That would help so that I could plan a visit. A was bummed that I left with none of these products. Scheduling these during the breaks between sessions would also have been nice. Big Bad Con is one of the best gaming conventions in the country especially if you like small-press RPGs. This is THE place to let your gaming geek flag fly high! 🙂