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Keeping Kosher In Monster Hunter World

David

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Monster Hunter World is the best selling game in its series, with over 7.5 million units shipped. There are many reasons for this: The game is more accessible for new players, it’s not just on a handheld console anymore, there was actually some marketing push for this game…the list goes on.

However, I personally think one of the reasons the game is so popular is its food eating cutscenes. Before you go on a hunt, you can eat a meal at a canteen that gives you buffs. You’re also treated to an adorable and very tasty looking cutscene of the Palicoes (a cat like race that helps you hunt monsters) making your meal. The details are so lavish and the end product looks so good I couldn’t help thinking about it off and on for weeks. And one question that kept recurring was, “Would any of this food be Kosher?”

Kosher foods, for those of you who may not know, are foods that conform to the Jewish kashrut (dietary law). The word treif describes any food that does not abide by this law. Determining what foods are Kosher or not can get complicated since different groups of animals have different rules. At its most basic though, there are three groups of animals: land, flying, and fish (invertebrates as a rule are treif). Conveniently enough, most monsters in Monster Hunter World could fit under the same categories. We’ll go through each category and examine a few monsters from the game to decide if any (or all) of them can be Kosher.

Before we begin though, I’d like to give major props to one of our editors, Gretchen. Before I wrote this article, I knew next to nothing about what makes a food Kosher or not. Gretchen not only educated me, but did a lot of the heavy lifting, and for that I am grateful.

By Land

The first monster up for discussion is called Uragaan. Uragaan lives mostly in volcanic regions and is identifiable its large chin, its shiny, lustrous golden hide, and the spikes along its back. It consumes mostly bedrock and those large spikes on its back are actually crystals. It produces a sticky, tar like substance on its stomach, which it uses to attach explosive rocks to itself as a means of defense. If someone were to knock down or kill Uragaan, they’d be able to mine the vast mineral wealth on it’s back…but they wouldn’t be able to eat it, as Uragaan isn’t Kosher.

Not Kosher

In order for a land animal to be Kosher, it has to meet three basic requirements. First, it can not be a carnivore or a scavenger. It can not eat meat. Second, it must have a split hoof. Horses aren’t Kosher, but animals like cattle and sheep are. Finally, the animal must chew its cud. Pigs have split hooves, but they don’t chew their cud and thus are not Kosher. Uragaan meets the first rule, but fails with the second and third. As such, Uragaan can never be Kosher.

The next monster up is Kirin. Kirin resembles a unicorn or (more accurately) a Chinese Qilin. It has a single large horn growing out of its head, with a white mane and tail that seem to stand on end from static electricity. It’s body appears to have fur, but those actually are scales. Kirin also seems to crackle with electricity as it walks. Looking at the picture we can see clearly that it has a split hoof. The game doesn’t tell us what it eats or if it chews its cud, but if we extrapolate what it looks like and compare to say, an antelope or a deer (both of which are Kosher) we can safely assume that Kirin is Kosher as well, right? Wrong.

Also Not Kosher

Kirin fails to be Kosher not by the quality of the animal, but by the quality of its behavior. You see, Kirin belongs to a group of monsters called Elder Dragons and these monsters, in addition to being tougher the ordinary monsters, are immune to traps and tranqs unlike other monsters. This presents a problem, as in order for meat be Kosher, the butchering must happen in one swift action using a sharp knife. Shooting the creature with an automatic repeating crossbow is not the way to do it. Kirin, unfortunately, is not Kosher for this reason.

We come now to the last land based monster in this article: The Kelbi. Kelbi, unlike the monsters mentioned thus far, are not aggressive. They are small, and the males are usually green in color while the females and juveniles are blue. Males also have large, prominent horns while female horns are smaller. In-game, Kelbi horns are medicinal, and players make potions out of them. I’m also happy to report that Kelbi might be our first (possibly) Kosher monster.

Kosher! (maybe)

Like Kirin, Kelbi has a split hoof. We also know that Kelbi are herbivores, but it is unknown whether or not Kelbi chew their cud. Extrapolating and comparing them to real world deer and goats though, we can have more confidence that Kelbi are, in fact, Kosher.

By Air

Now we will discuss birds. According to Jewish tradition, animals that fly and are not insects are birds. Thus animals such as bats are ‘birds’ in regards to Kosher rules. The rules for birds themselves are fairly simple. They can’t be predatory or scavengers. This rule immediately rules out the next monster on the list: Rathalos.

Not Kosher

Rathalos is known as the “King of the Sky” and is the male counterpart to Rathian, another flying monster.  Rathalos are bipedal wyverns, primarily red in color, with sharp, poisonous claws that they use to hunt with. In addition to that, they have a flame sac that they use to produce flaming projectiles from, and their long thick tail has a club at the end of it. But as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, no birds of prey can be Kosher.

The next monster on the list is one of the oddest in the game. Pukei-Pukei resembles at first glance a giant chameleon with frog like eyes, wings, and green scales covering its body everywhere except around its wings and neck, where it has feathers. The Pukei-Pukei is an herbivore and it will eat poisonous plants so it can produce a poison to defend itself. Despite all of these peculiar traits, Pukei-Pukei appears to be Kosher.

Kosher! (Surprisingly!)

I was surprised to hear Gretchen tell me this, as I thought there would be no way a monster as weird as Pukei-Pukei could be considered Kosher. But as she laid the case out it began to make more sense. Despite some reptilian traits, Pukei-Pukei has more avian traits, and that classifies it as a creature of the air under the kashrut. As a creature of the air, it has to meat a few specifications. It does not scavenge like a vulture, nor does it hunt like a bird of prey. Thus, Pukei-Pukei meets the requirements.

And By Sea

There aren’t very many sea monsters in Monster Hunter World sadly. Only one of them really seems like it would count. And this one is Jyuratodus. Jyuratodus resembles nothing more than a bipedal coelacanth fish. It has two dorsal fins, two pectoral fins, two pelvic fins, and a long, thick tail that it can use to defend itself. It also covers itself in mud and other ooze, to act as another layer of defense and to possibly keep its gills and scales damp. Fortunately for us, practically the only water based monster in this game is also Kosher.

Kosher, and think of all the sushi.

For a sea animal to be considered Kosher, it must have fins and scales that can be removed. This generally means that the stereotypical fish is allowed, but not animals such as eel, lobster, squid or crab. Jyuratodus, despite its size and aggression does have fins and scales and would be Kosher.

The Hunt Goes On…

So what are we left with from this list? Two monsters that could be considered Kosher, three that are not, and one that might be, if it chews cud. And this is only a small sample of the monsters in the game. Not only that, but Capcom has plans to release more monsters as free DLC over the upcoming months. When the PC version of the game is out, I might revisit this article and expand on it. Until then though, happy hunting and bon appétit!


Images Courtesy of Capcom

David is a dental hygienist by day, gamer by night. He enjoys making character sheets when bored, and re-reading the same book for the twentieth time.

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Gaming

Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth Will Let You Craft Your Own Adventures

Dan Arndt

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In the past, Fantasy Flight Games has let you recreate the excitement of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in several ways, from normal board games to fast-paced dice tossing action, to a digital CCG.  They’ve even let you play as Sauron himself! But, for the first time, Fantasy Flight has announced that players can experience never before seen adventures in the world of J.R.R Tolkien with their new co-op strategy game: The Lord of the Ring: Journeys in Middle-Earth

Journeys takes place roughly the same time as the books, and features iconic heroes like Legolas or Bilbo Baggins alongside FFG’s original heroes like Beravor and Elena. Taking on one of these heroes, players take part in unique adventures spanning the breadth of Middle Earth as they work to defeat the dark forces of the world. Much like other epic co-op strategy games such as Folklore: The Affliction, players retain their characters from session to session, leveling them up and gaining new skills, items, and abilities as they travel. The lands of Middle Earth will open up as you adventure and reveals itself procedurally, meaning the path you take will change from game to game.

The characters can change the way the stories go, with plenty of side quests and personal stories to be fleshed out even as you work towards defeating evil in what Fantasy Flight calls a “climactic finale.” The game will heavily feature a companion app that does everything from track character scores to even laying out the tactical battles that occur between the two sides. The ongoing battles and ease of support, as well as FFG’s usual polish and presentation, mean that they clearly intend for players to get plenty of bang for their buck.

The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth will be a 1-5 player game for ages 14+, and is set for release in Q2 of 2019, where it will retail for $99.95. Be sure to keep an eye on the Fandomentals for all the latest in news and more on this and other Fantasy Flight games!


What do you think of the new game? Going to pass or are you already making space on your shelf? Sound off in the comments!

All images via Fantasy Flight Games

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Star Trek: Galactic Enterprises Can Bring Out The Ferengi In Anyone

Dan Arndt

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Reviewers log, stardate 58489. Wizkids has send us a board game, Star Trek Deep Space 9 license. I wasn’t sure when I got it if  anything short of adorable raccoons could get me to like an economy game. It can be difficult, sometimes, to find the fun in money and math. But after playing, and I think my mind may have changed, and I think I’m beginning to even think like a Ferengi. 

What’s In The Box

Rule of Acquisition #194: It’s always good business to know about new customers before they walk in your door.

I won’t go super in depth for this, as you can get a full skinny on the contents in my unboxing video on the Fanfinity channel. However, I want to emphasize two of the standout elements in Star Trek: Galactic EnterprisesThe first is the art, specifically the colors and designs on the cards, Padds, and “Technical Manual.” There’s an amazing  fidelity to the world of Star Trek, one that helps the game feel more than just a game with a license slapped on it. The well placed quotes from the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, font choices, and even those retro-futuristic curves all the shapes have; they all make this feel like a real game a group of Ferengi are playing around a table at Quark’s. The “padds” used to record business even feel Trekkie despite being florified pads of paper.

Adding to that is the second highlight and the “star” of the show (especially for any self-respecting Ferengi merchant): that beautiful gold-pressed latinum you’re fighting over. Made of thick cardboard and well-detailed, there is a deep satisfaction to stacking, sorting, and running ones finger through piles of the gold pressed latinum pieces you’ve earned. It seems minor because it’s just themed monopoly money but, damn it, it does make you feel like what Kira once called a “greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little troll.

How’s It Play

Rule of Acquisition #17: A contract is a contract is a contract… but only between Ferengi.

Once you get past the intergalactic trappings, Star Trek: Galactic Enterprises is a very straightforward game of commodity trading and bartering. The goal of the game is to become the First Clerk, the right-hand Ferengi to the Grand Nagus. During the game, the title moves from player to player, conferring on them the almighty control of the latinum (they’re the banker) as well as the role of auction master and adjudicator of business disputes.

The players bid on the semi-legal commodities of Star Trek, the things Quark is smuggling onto Deep Space 9 amidst the chaos of the wormhole, everything from basic Padds to illegal phasers and even the dilithium crystals that power the starships of the Federation. Each round, the merchants add these items to their stock before the feeding frenzy begins. All bets are off as the merchants can trade, make deals, and decide on price fixing. When its time to deal out latinum, Ferengi are given the value of their goods. If the merchants share a commodity, they must have the same price to earn that much latinum.  The Ferengi-ness comes in when the undercutting bonus kicks in: if a merchant prices his (Rule of Acquisition #94: Females and finances don’t mix) commodity below another, he gets the value as well a bonus. All negotiations, lies, and trickery are both allowed and encouraged as a part of business.

The big complication are the action cards, which are bought like commodities and represent the aforementioned chaos of DS9, as well as the institutional limitations (Odo) of the station. These cards can do things like steal or remove market cards, mess with the order of play, or even skip entire phases of play. Just like the trade goods, these can be swapped or bought or used as bargaining chips for deals with other merchants. They add a good amount of in-universe flavor as well as more unpredictability to the rampant capitalism going on.

The Verdict

Rule of Acquisition #59: Free advice is seldom cheap

This game is an extremely solid economy game, with lots of opportunity for the kind of crafty wheeling and dealing you expect from the genre. Sometimes it feels like Catan, other times like Pit, but anyone who likes to yell and make deals are going to have fun with this. The rules are deliberately streamlined, allowing for an immense amount of creativity when it comes to what you can get away with. The action cards are a fantastic change of pace as well, and help diversify beyond simple commodity training. It’s simple, streamlined, and fun enough to be whipped out at parties or as a quick and casual game, and it’s over in a rapid fire whirlwind (my test games ran less than half an hour).

The one thing holding the game back is that it doesn’t quite do much that isn’t done by other games, even if it does those things EXTREMELY well. The design, the action cards, the very feel of the game is entirely based on one’s experience with Star Trek and especially Deep Space 9. If you don’t appreciate the weird satire of the Ferengi, get the show lore referenced in the action cards, or even remember the episodes all of the game’s art comes from, you’re not going to really appreciate this game like you should.

That said, it’s an amazing game for Trekkies and particularly us Niners, who have basically been stuck seeing TNG, TOS, and the movies get all the license love these days. For us, this is for sure an essential game to seek out, and definitely worth a look from Trekkies of all stripes. For anyone else, I’d definitely give it a shot if you have the chance, but don’t expect anything truly mind blowing.

 

 

Immersion notes:

  • Don’t be afraid to read the rules of acquisition on each card. Not only do they help you get into the Ferengi mindset, they’re invaluable business tips to boot.
  • Treat your latinum like the valuable thing it is. Don’t forget to handle it, play with it, and feel your wealth as you play. After all, you did earn it.
  • Approximations of Romulan ale, jellied gree-worm, or Slug-O-Cola can help mimic the seedy vibe this game demands.
  • Please assume that this takes place post-reform so that you don’t have to make any female players disrobe before the game starts.

Star Trek: Galactic Enterprises is currently available from the WizKids site, online retailers, and your local games shop, where it retails for about $25.00. And be sure to keep an eye on the Fandomentals and Fanfinity for everything in the worlds of gaming, fandom, and Star Trek!


Big thanks to WizKids for providing the material for this review as well as some images, with the rest via Paramount. Have you gotten a chance to play Galactic Enterprises and disagree with our assessment? Is there a feature that intrigues you? Sound off in the comments!

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One Card Game to Rise Above

Cat

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Digital card games are on the rise. The success of Hearthstone has seen a larger movement toward this platform, with common comparison Magic: The Gathering following suit with its new Arena online game. The popular Elder Scrolls franchise recently launched its own digital card game as well. Now, Lord of the Rings has joined the digital card game ring. The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game is part classic card battle, part story progression. Fantasy Flight Interactive and Asmodee Digital have created an immersive and challenging solo strategy game.

The game proceeds through a series of levels, each part of an overarching story. Levels have objectives that can be completed to move on, or all enemies can be defeated. Certain objectives also offer rewards, so they are worth trying to complete if your playstyle supports it. Once you complete one of these objectives, you have the option to travel, which allows you to move on to the next stage. Beware when traveling, though, as enemies will attack you as you flee from them. These stages help tell the story of your adventure, and each level has story before the game begins. These bits of story are accompanied by art and voice acting. In fact, there is voice acting throughout, so keep your sound up.

Your health and characters carry over from level to level, so keeping your heroes alive and healed is important. Once a hero card is destroyed, I have not seen them again that game. Heroes always begin the game on your side of the field. You can summon other characters to aid your heroes using the cards in your deck. You will also be able to use equipment, maneuvers, and special abilities to help you defeat the forces of evil. Your hand and resources also stay the same, so be sure to think ahead a few turns. Gameplay is challenging and dynamic. It can be difficult to predict what the enemies will do, and Sauron is always growing in power. Keep an eye on his threat meter; you don’t want to be caught too off guard by his special abilities. Or more spiders. Really, there are a lot of spiders.

There are four types of cards, known as spheres, each supporting a different style of play: Leadership, Lore, Tactics, and Spirit. Most decks will choose a combination of three. These types are determined by the heroes you choose to play with. You start with a few free ones and then you can choose supplemental heroes to get with packs. Leadership, the sphere of Aragorn, is all about keeping your characters alive through the use of blocking and strategic maneuvers. Lore, the sphere of Arwen, also keeps your characters alive, but through the use of healing and evasive maneuvers. Tactics, the sphere of Gimli, wants to see your enemies suffer damage that your own characters avoid. These three spheres and heroes are all in your starting deck. The last sphere, Spirit, is available through purchase of Eowyn, and its main focus is helping to complete quests.

Honestly, I haven’t even been able to complete the first section of story. Even having run through it multiple times, the game goes differently each time, and it hasn’t gotten boring yet. A little frustrating—did I mention the spiders?—but still fun. I look forward to seeing the story progress and all the cards that will be added with future expansions. There are so many strategies still to try, and one of these days I will know the sweet taste of victory.

Looking for a way to dive back in to Middle Earth? Join your own story in this game when it releases, or join me in early access now.


Images Courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games and Asmodee Digital

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