Star Wars: Commander–How the Apple Company greatly increases the quality of life

I have predicted and discussed much of what is happening today in virtually every category over the last 4 years.  Some listened, most didn’t.  For those who didn’t—hopefully you learned your lesson and will in the future. However, for me, which has been the case all of my life, humanity has let me down.  People do not aspire to be what they should, and the times are often regulated and maintained by the laziest of our species.  This is why I often turn to mythology for inspiration, because the Wall Street Journal doesn’t offer much inspiration—just raw news.  Contemporary real-life characters fall short of my expectations—so I don’t even bother.  Thus, my love of Star Wars and the reason I discuss it so much—especially lately is because it provides such motivation.  It is the creation of minds in need of something bigger than the human race is currently offering.  So I often vacation there to recharge my own batteries.  As such, it should come as no surprise that I had a viewing party at my home for the new Disney television series Rebels, which premiered with an introductory movie on Friday, October 03, 2014.

To celebrate I spent the day in the world of Star Wars in one fashion or another.  My wife and I played the Old Republic’s Galactic Starfighter online—which is always fun.  I then spent the morning playing X-wing Miniatures which is of course my latest passion.  I rounded out the time between those events up until the airing of Rebels playing a new game downloaded for free onto my iPad called Star Wars: Commander.  My brother texted me excitedly about it recently and after a few weeks of prodding, I finally downloaded it.  I didn’t give the free app much though because I didn’t think it would be any good—that it would be a kid’s game.  Let me say that it is far from a kid’s game—it is a wonderful war simulation of resource management and I have been wonderfully consumed by its contents.

Years ago—way back in the 90s I once spent an entire week playing an old game similar called Armada 2000—or something to that effect.  One of my nephews introduced it to me and it required the building of fleets by mining raw materials and going to war to conquer planets.  The graphics were rough, but the game content was wonderful.  Around that same time I started enjoying the various Sim City games which developed into a game called Outpost, which required you to terraform an entire alien planet by using the resources there to build a civilization.  I have also been a fan of the various Civilization games over the years including the most recent introduction.  Those are endlessly fun games of strategy and construction that are designed for those with a keen eye for productivity.  Never before in the history of the human race were such tools of resource management available to so many people.  The new Star Wars: Commander is all of those games wrapped up into one.  It is incredible—especially for a free app. It’s a whole new age that we’re living in where such a thing is offered as a simple download.  I can’t recall a time when I enjoyed blowing stuff up so much.

Star Wars: Commander lets you as a player pick a faction—either Rebel player or the Empire and build a base that must maintain an economy through your credit vaults while continually mining alloy for the construction of everything from factories to starships.   You have to build and maintain troop strength, engage in research and development, and deploy defense strategies as your base will constantly be attacked by other player’s bases looking for credits and alloy, and shield generation.  It is fairly involved for a game designed to be played on the go—anywhere and everywhere.  I’m used to playing those types of things on a PC locked in my room and not dressing for days.  This ability to put such a thing on a computer device that I carry in my jacket pocket is unreal to my previous generation eyes.

On that note as I have been playing Star Wars: Commander all week diligently—everywhere that I can really, in restaurants, in shopping malls, in the fabric stores as my wife shops for supplies for the many blankets and craft items she makes, I have been fascinated by how portable this new age of ours really is.  Commander is really a game that must be played against other players so it requires interaction.  The brilliance of the game is that the designers created the basic template, but most of the way the content is used is created by other players—leaving players to essentially let the game evolve through competition.  But it is the portability that I find so strangely interesting.  While shopping at Kenwood Mall with my wife and daughter at the Eddie Bauer store, I stood outside across from the Apple Store and marveled at how busy it was at 7:30 PM on a weekday evening.  Business was thumping inside and a line requiring service was outside the door.  It was amazing.  People were very active in looking at the various Apple products—everything from iPads, iPhones, to new computers.

I’m a huge fan of the iPad as I use mine everywhere for everything.  I use it primarily for maps, and for processing data on spreadsheets.  It is a remarkable device—there is no question about it.  I’m not so keen on the iPhone as I like to separate those two functions.  But Apple and its innovations are game changing aspects to human civilization.  Most of the people shopping in the store were there to pick up devices to allow them to have more versatility in texting their friends or updating their facebook accounts.  They weren’t looking for performance as much as being fashionable.  But, their interest is driving the market in new directions regardless of the quality of their desires.  It is largely because of that swarm in the Apple Store that Disney put out the new game Commander.  It’s the perfect game for a touch screen device.

The new game only enhanced my Star Wars day experience leading me up to the Disney Channel airing of the new Rebels cartoon—which was fabulous I might add.   I’ve been talking about it for a year now—and it was worth the wait.  Cartoons like that and content on the Apple products like what Commander is certainly elevates the expectations of entertainment.  But what’s more important is the reason people like Star Wars so much—as I’m far from alone on the topic.  Star Wars offers hope and expectations on human potential that is higher than it otherwise would be.  And Apple is there to provide a format to further the mythology into ways that were unfathomable a decade ago.  Star Wars: Commander just seven years ago would have cost $50 dollars for a PC title sold in a store like Gamestop.  Now it’s a free app.  The game makes its money off the impatience and mismanagement of its players.  For those who don’t know how to manage resources, they will pay extra for crystals to build up their defenses or increase their offensive mobility.  Many of the upgrades take several hours to implement, especially shield generators and alloy depots—but they can be sped up through the consumption of crystals and Disney sells them by the bag which I’m sure is generating millions upon millions of dollars.  I typically launch an attack from my base every three and a half minutes—and I have yet to meet the same player twice—that’s how many people are on the game.  I would say that it’s a successful enterprise.

For those who want to play, you can look me up when you arrive by typing in the name of Cliffhanger—the character from my first novel The Symposium of Justice.  Of course you know—I’m playing for the Rebels.

Rich Hoffman


“Winds of Change”: Some of the best, most relevant television ever produced

As I spoke yesterday about the importance that Joseph Campbell played in my personal education, one of the people who most helped the JCF get off the ground and become that resolute organization was George Lucas.   Of course he is  known for the Star Wars films and was the creator of Indiana Jones—but I think George’s best  work as a filmmaker was a little known television project that was shown on ABC by Bob Igor, today’s CEO of Disney way back in 1992 to 1996.  That project was called The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and was considered “edutainment.”  Just prior to the release of the last Indiana Jones feature film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Lucasfilm released all of the Young Indy television shows on DVD, which of course I snagged up the moment they were released.  I literally pulled them off the delivery truck at Best Buy.  The DVD set was released in three gigantic collections and feature what I think is some of the best television ever done—not just because I enjoy the Indiana Jones character, but because the production quality, and content of each of the shows was impeccable.  Lucas used the character of Indiana Jones to essentially tell the history of the start of the 20th century and it was a remarkable undertaking.  For instance—one of my favorite episodes is the one shown below in several parts.  It is called “Winds of Change” and is about the Treaty of Versailles and covers nothing less than the modern troubles in the Middle East, the cause of the Vietnam War, and the reason for World War II all in a one hour episode.  It is really quite brilliant and if you want your child to know anything about history—or you want to fill the gaps of your own understanding, this is a great place to start.  Because of the modern pertinence to the trouble in the Middle East, watch the “Winds of Change” now through the clips below.  If you enjoy it, consider picking up the entire DVD set. They are tremendous treasures.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is an American television series that aired on ABC from March 4, 1992, to July 24, 1993. Filming took place in various locations around Wilmington, North Carolina and on the campus of UNCW. The series was an Amblin Entertainment/Lucasfilm production in association with Paramount Network Television.

The series explores the childhood and youth of the fictional character Indiana Jones and primarily stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Corey Carrier as the title character, with George Hall playing an elderly version of Jones for the bookends of most episodes, though Harrison Ford bookended one episode. The show was created and executively produced by George Lucas, who also created, co-wrote and executively produced the Indiana Jones feature films.

Most episodes of the series depicted famous and not-so-famous historical figures, for example T.E. LawrenceLeo TolstoyWinston ChurchillErnest HemingwayAl CaponePablo PicassoFrederick Selous and Mata Hari.

Notable guest stars (playing either fictional or historical characters) include: Catherine Zeta-JonesDaniel CraigChristopher LeePeter FirthVanessa Redgrave,Beata PozniakJennifer EhleElizabeth HurleyTimothy SpallAnne HecheJeffrey WrightJeroen KrabbéJason FlemyngMichael KitchenKevin McNallyFrancisco QuinnIan McDiarmidMax von SydowDouglas HenshallSean PertweeTerry JonesKeith DavidLukas HaasJay UnderwoodMichael GoughMaria Charles, and Haluk Bilginer.

Due to its enormous budget, the series was canceled in 1993. However, following the series’ cancellation, four made-for-television films were produced from 1994 to 1996 in an attempt to continue the series. In 1999, the series was re-edited into 22 television films under the title The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.

Between 1992 and 1997, the series was nominated for 27 Emmy Awards and won 12.[25] In 1993, Corey Carrier was nominated for the Young Artist Award in the category of “Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series”. In 1994, David Tattersall was nominated for the ASC Award in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series”. At the 1994 Golden Globes, the series was nominated for “Best TV-Series — Drama”.[26]

In 2002, series producer Rick McCallum confirmed in an interview with Variety that DVDs of the series were in development, but would not be released for “about three or four years”.[8] At the October 2005 press conference for the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith DVD, McCallum explained that he expected the release to consist of 22 DVDs, which would include around 100 documentaries which would explore the real-life historical aspects that are fictionalized in the show. For the DVDs, Lucasfilm upgraded the picture quality of the original 16 mm prints and remastered the soundtracks. This, along with efforts to get best quality masters and bonus materials on the sets, delayed the release.[9] It was ultimately decided that the release would tie into the release of the fourth Indiana Jones feature film.

Two variations of Volume 1 were released by CBS DVD, one simply as “Volume One”, and the other as “Volume One — The Early Years” in order to match the subtitle of Volume 2.

The History Channel acquired television rights to all 94 of the DVD historical documentaries.[10][11] The airing of the documentaries was meant to bring in ratings for the History Channel and serve as marketing for the DVD release and the theatrical release ofIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[12] The History Channel and History International began airing the series every Saturday morning at 7AM/6C on The History Channel, and every Sunday morning at 8AM ET/PT on History International. A new division of was created devoted to the show. As Paramount and Lucasfilm had already reserved solely for news and updates related to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, temporarily served as the official site for the DVDs—providing regular updates, insider looks and promotions related to them.[13] However, Lucasfilm and Paramount soon set up an official website proper for the series—[14] Paramount released a press kit for the media promoting the DVDs, which consists of a .pdf file[15] and several videos with interviews with Lucas and McCallum, and footage from the DVDs.[16] A trailer for the DVDs was also published on, with a shorter version being shown on The History Channel and History International.

Lucas and McCallum hoped that the DVDs would be helpful to schools, as they believed the series was a good way to aid in teaching history. Lucas explained that the series’ DVD release will be shopped as “films for a modern day high school history class.”[17] He believes the series is a good way to teach high school students 20th Century history.[18] The plan was always to tie the DVD release of the series to the theatrical release of the fourth Indiana Jones feature film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was released on May 22, 2008.[8][19][20][21]

After watching the Lawrence of Arabia recently I had to go back and watch the Young Indy episode “Winds of Change.”   It was after all through Young Indy that I was introduced to T.E. Lawrence who was a personal friend to Indiana Jones on the show.  Jones met T.E. Lawrence in Cairo at the pyramids when he was a very young child being homeschooled by a private tutor.  The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is an answer to the education void found today.  The work has been done by producers like Lucas and is available for a relatively cheap price.  The series is television at its absolute best—it was entertaining, fun, but best of all—educational.  After watching all those episodes so many years ago, then again with my family when the DVDs hit the market once again with their 90 one hour long documentaries produced exclusively by Lucasfilm what is found is a phenomenal effort not even surpassed by the National Geographic Society or the Smithsonian.

Often I would read more about the characters in the Young Indy episodes after seeing them for the first time during the broadcasts and would marvel at how accurate the writers for the show were at capturing their historical significance with precision.  In the cynical world that we see today in most entertainment formats, do yourself a favor that will help directly in understanding the modern world—watch the DVDs of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles with your family and learn together about history.  Because I can’t think of a better way to tell about the events that have shaped our lives better than through the character of Indiana Jones as he become the kind of action hero so well known to motion pictures presently.  The character became the kind of person he was due to his vast education with the most significant figures of the past who shaped the world for good and bad—but none-the-less—shaped it all the same.

If you care about the education of your family, click the link below to start an unforgettable journey.

Rich Hoffman


The Pirates of Mason, Ohio: Similarities between the MEA and Blackbeard


Parents and teachers in Warren County want more money and better benefits for the Mason City School District.

The Mason Education Association, which represents 650 educators, has been negotiating a new employment contract since April.  Mason teachers say they’re not only concerned about money and benefits but also concerned about cuts to academic programs and facilities.

The union also declared a “no confidence” position in superintendent Gail Kist-Kline.

The district meanwhile says it’s hopeful that negotiations will continue during the summer months, and a contract settlement will be reached before the beginning of the school year.

According to school board members, Dr. Kist-Kline was hired following a levy failure, and asked to lead during a time of economic challenge that required the district to improve efficiency and make difficult decisions.


The story continued with the MEA (Mason Education Association) threatening to go on strike and late in the afternoon on July 8th 2014, a contract agreement was reached which will then go to a vote by the union members. Teachers all across Ohio rejoiced as one of the wealthiest districts in that state had proven that it was once again ripe for pillaging. The entire story of how the teacher’s union in Mason threatened a hostile action—work stoppage—preventing parents who pay the taxes there from retaining their free baby sitting service at the end of summer, forced the payment of ransom which were pay increases. It was all too reminiscent of an old pirate story about Blackbeard’s blockade of the Charleston harbor in 1718. That old story about pirate action was essentially the same as the modern story of the MEA in Mason, Ohio 2014.

Edward Teach (also Edward Thatch, c.1680—22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. Although little is known about his early life, he was probably born in Bristol, England. He may have been a sailor on privateer ships during Queen Anne’s War before settling on the Bahamian island of New Providence, a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined sometime around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnet, but toward the end of 1717 Hornigold retired from piracy, taking two vessels with him.

Blockade of Charleston

By May 1718 Teach had awarded himself the rank of Commodore and was at the height of his power. Late that month his flotilla blockaded the port of Charleston (then known as Charles Town) in South Carolina. All vessels entering or leaving the port were stopped, and as the town had no guard ship,[40] its pilot boat was the first to be captured. Over the next five or six days about nine vessels were stopped and ransacked as they attempted to sail past Charleston Bar, where Teach’s fleet was anchored. One such ship, headed for London with a group of prominent Charleston citizens which included Samuel Wragg (a member of the Council of the Province of Carolina), was the Crowley. Her passengers were questioned about the vessels still in port and then locked below decks for about half a day. Teach informed the prisoners that his fleet required medical supplies from the colonial government of South Carolina, and that if none were forthcoming, all prisoners would be executed, their heads sent to the Governor and all captured ships burnt.[41]

Wragg agreed to Teach’s demands, and a Mr. Marks and two pirates were given two days to collect the drugs. Teach moved his fleet, and the captured ships, to within about five or six leagues from land. Three days later a messenger, sent by Marks, returned to the fleet; Marks’s boat had capsized and delayed their arrival in Charleston. Teach granted a reprieve of two days, but still the party did not return. He then called a meeting of his fellow sailors and moved eight ships into the harbor, causing panic within the town. When Marks finally returned to the fleet, he explained what had happened. On his arrival he had presented the pirates’ demands to the Governor and the drugs had been quickly gathered, but the two pirates sent to escort him had proved difficult to find; they had been busy drinking with friends and were finally discovered, drunk.[42]

Teach kept to his side of the bargain and released the captured ships and his prisoners—albeit relieved of their valuables, including the fine clothing some had worn.[43]

The behavior of the MEA was essentially of the same morality as Blackbeard’s seizer and extortion of Charleston. Blackbeard’s actions were designed to exploit the weaknesses of the governor; the MEA was designed to exploit the weaknesses of the superintendent of Mason schools. Both groups used force and fear to obtain wealth—the Blackbeard pirates used fear of physical violence, the Mason teachers’ used the fear of work stoppage by refusing to perform contracted obligations as employees of the state of Ohio. There is no real difference between the piratical acts of Blackbeard or the MEA.

So why weren’t the Mason teachers arrested for their piratical acts instead of rewarded with more money? Because the pirates run the government in 2014 unlike in 1718. The only difference between the MEA and Blackbeard is that they are now the lawyers, legislators, and union leaders who have infiltrated the law to have easy access to the plunder of the tax payers. Pirates have changed their tactics over the years—instead of violence and blockades, they just gained a government backed service—like education—and threatened to take that service away unless they obtained their desires. The ideal of the blockade of education services through a labor strike and Blackbeard’s extraction of medical supplies from the Governor of Charleston are the same because tax payers have no other option. There are no other schools for their children to attend just as there was no other way out of the harbor of Charleston for the citizens to embark on any kind of trade by sea. So Blackbeard had the city by the throat and used it to his advantage just as the MEA had Mason by the throat regarding education. The intentions were extortion to fulfill the desires of piracy. The only difference is that these modern pirates in the MEA were backed by the law which is an evolution from the days of Blackbeard. But the intentions were the same—fear, power, and plunder at the expense of others.

So if anyone dared wish to see examples of modern piracy, don’t look to the South China Sea or the dangerous waters off of Somalia—just look in Mason, Ohio at the members of the Mason Teacher’s Association and you will see pirates just as vicious and greedy as Blackbeard.

 Rich Hoffman



Fantasy Flight Games Does It Again: Wave 5 release to include a YT-2400!

In the context of my lifelong interest in global mythology and comparative religion, I see all the news coming out about Star Wars as infinitely good in so many ways.  When Harrison Ford was injured recently filming the new Star Wars Episode 7 movie, the world stopped as he was airlifted to the hospital in England.  With all the news going on globally, terrorists taking over Iraq, Obama’s parade of scandals, election impact of new blood in the Republican Party, it was Harrison Ford’s injury which captured the headlines of virtually every news source.  Some of that is deliberate misdirection, but a lot of it is genuine interest, and concern for a mythology which touches the heart of so many people. On the same day as this terrible news about Harrison Ford, who will bounce back from such things as he always does—came the latest news from Fantasy Flight Games popular X-Wing Miniatures game.  For Father’s Day my wife hosted a big party for our family, which was wonderful.  But much of the best parts of it were the weekend of playing X-Wing Miniatures with the people who came.

Every time I turn around starting about a year ago, Fantasy Flight Games has been improving their product line.  What they are doing with X-Wing Miniatures is cutting edge stuff that is launching tabletop gaming into a whole new dimension.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  There have been for years great games like Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons, and Magic the Gathering, but this effort with X-Wing Miniatures is game changing.  As the new films hit the marketplace and return to the mind of society in general as part of their daily dialogue—which is already happening, this Fantasy Flight Games production of X-Wing Miniatures is about to explode.  Mythologically speaking, I think FFG’s relatively new game is the best vehicle to express and maintain new mythological trends that exist.  It is more powerful than novels, more relevant than the films themselves, and more participatory than video games.  Playing the game does essentially what some of the highest minds in the world do at Esalan at the Mythological Roundtable sponsored by the Joseph Campbell Foundation.  X-Wing Miniatures recreates myth and allows players to directly participate actively, as opposed to passively.  They take control of their own mythology, which is what I think is the key to the success of the Fantasy Flight Games venture.

During Father’s Day my family played the game extensively, and as we played we talked heavily about the new ships coming out in Wave 4, in just a few weeks, and we discussed the very exciting news about Wave 5 set to hit the marketplace later this year—2014.  The most exciting news of that announcement is the YT-2400 from the old video game Shadows of the Empire from Nintendo 64.   That particular ship will go well with my Millennium Falcon to cause all kinds of trouble in a game that has become a mild obsession.  Here is the press release from Fantasy Flight Games published as news poured out to the world the Harrison Ford would quickly recover from his injury.

Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce the upcoming release of two new starships for X-Wing!

In this, the game’s fifth wave, two large starships arrive ready for the heat of battle: the Rebellion’s YT-2400 and the Imperial’s VT-49 Decimator.

In addition to their starships, each of which is sculpted faithfully at the game’s standard 1/270 scale, the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack and VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack introduce a host of new upgrades and terrain pieces that allow you to explore a wide range of new tactics in your space battles.

You’ll also find a large cast of characters drawn from the expanded Star Wars universe, the first Imperial turret weapon, and upgrade cards designed by the game’s first two World Champions.

YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack

A fast and resilient light freighter, the YT-2400 features no fewer than thirteen weapon emplacement points, making it an attractive vessel for smugglers, mercenaries, and other individuals looking for a heavily armed “transport.” Although a stock YT-2400 light freighter has plenty of space for cargo, much of that space is often annexed to support modified weapon systems and oversized engines.

The YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack brings this formidable light freighter to your table as a Rebel starship with two attack, two agility, five hull, and five shields.

The highlight of the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack is its detailed miniature starship, which is enhanced by one new mission, three debris cloud tokens, a maneuver dial, all requisite tokens, and four ship cards, including one for the famed smuggler Dash Rendar.

VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack

To be granted command of a VT-49 Decimator is seen as a significant promotion for a middling officer of the Imperial Navy. A heavily armed transport, the VT-49 Decimator is one of the Empire’s most feared warships, often used to provide long-range reconnaissance or to deploy raiding parties past enemy forces.

The VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack brings this intimidating Imperial gunboat to X-Wing as the game’s largest ship yet designed for Standard Play. Even at the game’s signature 1/270 scale, the expansion pack’s detailed miniature towers over its base and smaller starfighters.

In addition to its imposing, pre-painted miniature, the VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack introduces four ship cards, three debris cloud tokens, a new mission, a maneuver dial, and all the tokens you need to fly your Decimator into the thick of combat. Finally, you’ll find thirteen upgrade cards, which introduce a variety of crew members like Mara Jade and Fleet Officer designed to help you fill out the Decimator’s three crew member slots.

X-Wing Miniatures as it stands today is one of the coolest games on the market.  I have never seen something like it which has united my family the way it has—from young to old and all economic groups.  Everyone who plays the game loves the game—even if they aren’t very good at it.  I would say that is because of the strength of the mythological nature of it—it pulls players into a story which they control, and that is what separates it away from novels, movies, and video games.  In those forums, participants simply unlock what someone else created, but with X-Wing Miniatures, Fantasy Flight Games simply provides the tool box–the players use the tools for their own stories.

In my personal story arc, I’m a YT guy in every way possible—and to get my hands on a YT-2400 that barrel rolls and has a turret that can equip a secondary weapon is extremely powerful.  This will be the build that replaces the twin Falcons and with the meta game moving away from TIE swarms and toward the devastating aspects of Whisper who flies the upcoming Phantom Wave 4 ship shooting with 4 dice.  The game is getting faster and more maneuverable.  Rebel ships can’t just sit around with no agility waiting to get picked off.  They will also have to be able to shoot every turn just to survive the weapons the Imperial players are throwing at them—and that is where the fun begins.  Figuring out those types of problems and letting the mythology play out based on the thought of the players.

I think this game X-Wing Miniatures will replace Monopoly as the newest, hottest selling game that brings families to the kitchen table to play—because as the new films hit the market over the next 6 years, and the new Rebels television show on Disney XD gains in popularity, the innovation created by Fantasy Flight Games will have hit critical mass and the general population will find themselves every bit as addicted to the sheer joy that the game brings—only for them the learning curve will be steep.  What started as a simple game with just a few ships has turned into a very complex web of tactical entertainment with a seemingly infinite combination of strategic options which can keep a mind occupied for years.  But beyond that—there is a story to this game which has more power than Chess, all the ambition of a novel, and more edge of the seat excitement than a year’s worth of video games—and the new additions never stop coming—the most exciting for me yet is the YT-2400.

Rich Hoffman


The Death of Han Solo: A trilogy at risk as The Millennium Falcon rises once more

imageApparently word from inside the Episode VII Star Wars film has leaked that Han Solo will die in the upcoming trilogy, and while this doesn’t surprise me given that such a plot point gives weight to the plight of the next generation and their tasks during the mythic journey which they are a part of—I can’t say that I will enjoy the films because of it. If not for Han Solo, I would likely not enjoy Star Wars so much. From those films Solo’s prized pirate ship The Millennium Falcon is the symbol of those famous films which have changed pop culture. I have written about this before—actually extensively and I realized just how important The Millennium Falcon and Han Solo was to society when I saw a Falcon shirt at Target of all places the other day. Solo is the glue that holds Star Wars together and without him—and his common sense of “shooting first” the popular space opera is just another movie. So I can’t image Star Wars without Han Solo. I’ll give it a shot, but likely it will be earth shattering for millions of fans when he dies on-screen.

The Falcon is in the news this week because the Internet was on fire regarding news of the full-sized Falcon being built for Episode VII. I have thought for years of doing just what Chris Lee from Nashville is currently doing—and that is building a full-sized Millennium Falcon. I have priced the project at around $15 million dollars to do it the way I want to do it, and Chris is attempting to build one with volunteer help and donations, which can be seen at his website shown at the link below.   Chris just spoke at a TED Talks event and is preparing to show parts of his full-sized Falcon build—including the landing gear, the turret, dish, and cockpit at Star Wars Celebration in 2015 in Anaheim, California. Lee’s work is very impressive and is on track to build a full-sized Falcon within a decade at this pace. He still needs funding, but the resurgence of Star Wars should help keep things going—slowly. But no matter what level of love for The Millennium Falcon that there is, all fans loved the pictures seen of the full-sized set being built-in England which can be seen on Lee’s site:

Of late, my relationship to the Falcon has been that I fly one nearly exclusively in the Star Wars Miniatures Game: X-Wing. I flew in my first tournament over the previous weekend and had a tremendous amount of fun. I currently am running a build that allows Han Solo to be the pilot, and for the Falcon to perform barrel rolls, evasion, and engine upgrades based on my experience after the tournament. It is an expensive build for the tabletop role-playing game that is essentially a tactical exercise, but the goal is to make the Falcon as close to the speed and flexibility of a TIE Interceptor, which is actually more appropriate for its role in the movies. The reason it isn’t done more often is because it is hard to fly. One thing that I noticed during the tournament even though I lacked experience at playing at that level, I was able to fly much better than average—so it would be wise to play to that strength.

For that same game I created a build called the “Corellian Massacre” which consists of the speedy and agile YT-1300 along with two escort ships consisting of two HWK-290s, one flown by Kyle Katarn. The two HWK-290s are designed to slow down my opponent long enough for the Falcon to chip away at their ships from outside their firing arcs—with the extra speed and agility for such a large ship. The risk is bouncing off the board or into asteroids, but that is where the pilot skill comes into play. It’s not a build for everyone—but it is one that I love. I have even bigger plans for the Wave 4 ships again capitalizing off the Falcon which has me very excited.

That’s why it would surprise me if Disney allowed Han Solo or the Falcon to be killed off. I think Harrison Ford wants it. I think the writers feel they must do it so to give a proper story context to the crises of the children in the series—the whole mythic atonement with the father issue which drives most mythology. After all, a healthy happy family between Han, Leia and their children does not bring crises to the situation enough to merit a sense of peril. The Empire Strikes Back has long been considered not just the best Star Wars film, but one of the best films of all time—and in it Han Solo was tortured and frozen, so surely the Star Wars team thinks that the series can survive without the character—but I’m not so sure. At least then there was a hope of coming back, and The Millennium Falcon was still the vehicle for all the heroes. If one or both of those elements are missing in the upcoming trilogy it will be a massive loss to the gravitas of the overall fan experience.

There will be stand alone films, Boba Fett is set to get one probably directed by the current Godzilla director and Han Solo will get his own film around 2018 playing a much younger man—obviously not Harrison Ford. Disney is planning to still give fans their Han Solo fix, but it will come after the tragedy that will occur in the upcoming series. Disney is planning their amusement park centered around a Star Wars theme and there will likely be a full-sized Falcon there for fans to tour and walk around which will be fantastic. Hopefully by that time Chris will be nearly complete in his own version of the classic Corellian pirate vessel. There will be a lot of Falcons out there in the world in new spectacular ways that many never thought possible before. But Han Solo’s future adventures will be coming to an end and that is a possibility that will be difficult to overcome thematically. The Jedi are a neat concept, but Star Wars gets it’s teeth through pirates, scoundrels, and rebels, and Han Solo is a bit of all those characters rolled up into one. He is essentially an Ayn Rand character meant to achieve a character arc of sacrifice who took over the series in popularity against the wishes of creator George Lucas. Han Solo was an accident—a good accident because through him millions of people gravitated to Star Wars as a mythology exploring good against evil in the context of gigantic galaxy spanning politics.

For me the love of Star Wars will likely die when Han Solo does and I will still fly the Falcon in X-Wing Miniatures 30 years from now refusing to acknowledge the history of Star Wars after the death of Han Solo. And a certain amount of the magic for me will die with the character as I’m sure it will for millions of similar fans. The question will be–can Star Wars live on without Han Solo? Just look at the Prequels and the answer will tell the story and those results may not be what Disney is looking for.

Rich Hoffman


A Force For Change: The deep power of mythology to unleash human imagination and potential

My friends at Nostalgic Ink in Mason, Ohio promised that they would have a Tantive IV Blockade Runner for my upcoming game with X-Wing Miniatures—the popular new tabletop game featuring Star Wars dog fighting tactical strategy. I checked around lunch on Thursday the 22nd and the store sorrowfully told me that their truck had not yet arrived with their deliveries. But they informed me a few hours later that it had arrived, and I promptly drove my motorcycle back there to pick it up. They had it waiting for me behind the counter and for a $100 dollars, it might have been one of the most glorious things I can remember beholding my eyes upon. My next thought was how I was going to get that package home on my motorcycle—because it was so big. You can see it in the picture below.image

As much as I dislike progressive politics, a failed teaching system world-wide, socialism and all forms of statism my first love is not politics or even conservativism—but mythology. I am not a huge supporter of group behavior and love my independence, but there are a few groups I support, and one of the organizations I have the most reverence for is the Joseph Campbell Foundation. My love of mythology is my number one enjoyment without there being a close second. My love of the Star Wars Miniatures game, X-Wing has a deep history in the old X-Wing computer games I used to play with my nephews all hours of the day for entire weekends. Many times we had to run missions against those Corellian Corvettes and they were at times, very difficult—which is why I still remember them 15 years later. The wonderful people at Fantasy Flight Games have found a modern—low tech way of re-inventing the great mythological storytelling of that old video game with new gorgeously detailed models that really make modern mythology come alive in that game. That’s why I love Nostalgic Ink and many of the people who frequent those places. Likely they wouldn’t agree with me on my views on modern education, politics, drugs, and even traditional values—but they love the mythology evoked in many of the tabletop games sold in that palace of thought—giving us common ground.image

But Star Wars isn’t just about spaceships and fantasy as I have elaborated often. It is about modern mythology and the perpetuation of goodness and as I have stated—the filmmakers of the series and the people at Disney now behind it—wish very much to use mythology to be a force for good in the entire world. I have said it many times, there isn’t anything happening in the world right now that will eclipse the good work that will come from the Star Wars partnership with Disney. The first traces of this attempt at goodness through mythology can be seen in the J.J.Abrams message below while on the new Star Wars set for the seventh film. The video was posted on May 21st and by the time I picked up the Tantive IV at Nostalgic Ink it had seen nearly 2 million views within that 24 hour span on YouTube. There isn’t a government on earth or organization anywhere that has the kind of ability to reach so many people. Star Wars advocates itself to be a force for good by advocating a force for change. The change they are talking about in the video is not silly progressive politics for the sake of social alliances—but real, genuine change born from human innovation to benefit all of humanity with the gifts of creativity.


Star Wars: Force for Change wants to create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of kids and families around the world. With your help and creativity we can develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. By acting as a Force for Change, your contribution to support UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and other innovative work for children will fund dozens of life-changing projects like these in communities across the globe: • Portable, solar-powered learning kits being built-in China, Uganda, and Burundi to ensure underprivileged children in these countries have access to relevant, high-quality educational materials. • Mobile phone application developed in South Sudan and Uganda, and used in the Philippines, that helps reunite children with their families after an emergency. • A text messaging solution in Zambia that helps families receive infant medical test results from clinics, in half the time, through mobile phones. Join us! Help create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of kids and families. Be a force for change.

Immediately following that message Lucasfilm sent me this press release which did not surprise me at all. As much as I have raved about Gareth Edwards after his spectacular work directing the new Godzilla movie he was named as the new director of the first Star Wars standalone film—staring either Han Solo or Yoda—likely the later. This to me was tremendous news as I had been saying that Disney was positioning Star Wars to be more than just a huge money-maker for their company—but again, a force for good by using mythology to reach behind political ideologies to get the human race pointed in the right direction. The hiring of Edwards and his response to the alignment I think will have a major impact on the mythmaking experience and the results on a worldwide audience.

Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta Onboard for Star Wars Stand-Alone Film

May 22, 2014


In addition to the episodes of a new Star Wars trilogy, Lucasfilm and Disney have begun development on multiple stand-alone movies that will offer new stories beyond the core Saga. Gareth Edwards will direct the first stand-alone film, with a screenplay by Gary Whitta. The film is due out December 16, 2016.

Gareth Edwards blazed into the filmmaking forefront with his acclaimed work on Monsters, a film he wrote, directed and served on as cinematographer and visual effects artist. The skill and vision readily apparent in Monsters earned him the high-profile spot directing this year’s smash hit Godzilla.

“Ever since I saw Star Wars I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life — join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited and honored to go on this mission with Lucasfilm,” said Edwards.

Gary Whitta’s screenwriting credits include 2010’s The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington. He is also well-known as a journalist and editor in the video game industry, as well as part of the BAFTA award-winning team on Telltale Games adaptation of The Walking Dead.

Whitta states, “From the moment I first saw the original movie as a wide-eyed kid, Star Wars has been the single most profound inspiration to my imagination and to my career as a writer. It is deeply special to me, so to be given the opportunity to contribute to its ongoing legacy, especially in collaboration with a film-maker as talented as Gareth, is literally a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself.”


So there was a lot to be excited about this week, and especially over the last 24 hours. Through all the years that I have been a member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, George Lucas—the creator of Star Wars—has been on the advisory board so that he could help guide teaching mythology to a new generation. People like me and Edwards are the obvious benefactors. Edwards makes a living from his education in mythology, where I use mine in real world application—both I would consider equally important. If there was ever a man who deeply cared about the direction of society in a positive way—in a way that Walt Disney did—it is George Lucas. Through his deep commitment to mythology he not only produced films like Star Wars which take story telling to powerful new places—but inspired through the Joseph Campbell Foundation to teach a new generation of filmmakers like Gareth Edwards and J.J. Abrams to take movies to places that Lucas and Steven Spielberg could only dream of. Even small little companies like Fantasy Flight Games in Minnesota are helping advance a mythology that literally touches every corner of the world with messages advocating goodness through their table top game X-Wing Miniatures. As for the Force for Change campaign mentioned by Abrams, that is something I can certainly support. I could care less about being in the new movie, but I do care deeply about the advancement of goodness throughout the world, and there isn’t any vehicle anywhere but Star Wars with Disney at its back that has the power to pull it off. It is for those reasons that the new Tantive IV by Fantasy Flight Games is one of the neatest things I have ever seen for the price of $100.

The Tantive is just a model, but it’s what it represents that matters. It is a force for change that leads to good—and that makes it wonderful and worth pursuing on the cusp of a wave that is hitting the world in very positive ways.

Rich Hoffman


Help the Children of the World SEE GODZILLA: What box office totals really measure

For me, movies have always been a measurement about the temperament of a society in general. The kinds of films that make money, and those that don’t speak largely about the values of earthly civilizations. I enjoy most films, small art pictures like Atlas Shrugged sometimes because they don’t make much money and speak to a very focused and intelligent audience. I also like films like the new Godzilla movie which speaks directly to the masses with enthusiastic hope. What is different now as opposed to even a decade ago is that occasionally, huge blockbuster films like Godzilla are released simultaneously around the world and provide a very clear picture of what those worldly economic conditions are relative to the United States which can be directly measured by ticket sales.

Godzilla earned an estimated $103 million from 64 overseas markets this past weekend—during its opening. Warner Bros. reported that 51 percent of those sales were from 3D showings.

The movie’s biggest markets were the U.K. ($10.4 million) and Russia ($9.1 million), and it had the top opening of the year in Australia ($6.1 million). Other major territories included Mexico ($8.9 million), France ($6.5 million), Korea ($4.5 million), Brazil ($4.2 million), Italy ($3.6 million) and Spain ($1.6 million).

 opens in China in June, and then Japan in July. If it lives up to its potential in those two markets, it should wind up with over $400 million from overseas sales.

Produced by Legendary Pictures and released by Warner Bros., the monster movie reboot earned an impressive $93.2 million at the domestic box office.

‘s domestic debut ranks second in 2014: it wound up in between Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($91.6 million). It also opened significantly higher than last summer’s World War Z ($66.4 million), and more-than-doubled Pacific Rim‘s $37.3 million.

It’s also worth noting that Godzilla earned more in its first three days than Star Trek Into Darkness earned in its first four ($83.7 million) on the same weekend last year. It was also above 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($90.2 million).

To sum all this up properly just in the North American continent Godzilla made $93 million dollars. Over the entire rest of the world the film made $103 million without China and Japan being factored. Those countries will see the film over the next couple of months. With all politics removed from public relations jargon promoting all these other countries as equal to the United States, and the demand for Godzilla being universally equal all over the world—it could be observed that dollar for dollar—The United States—a capitalist country has the buying power of the rest of the world combined.

For instance, Brazil is a large country, but because they lean in the direction of socialism, they have a per capita income that is far below that of The United States. $4.2 million is about how much most states made in America displaying vividly that in Brazil there are not nearly enough movie theaters available to show the film. In America, I have around seven different theaters to choose from to see Godzilla while in Brazil, there may only be a few theater in each major city. The rural areas of Brazil are lucky to have power let alone have a theater down the road from their house making it impossible to even think of seeing Godzilla. So as a country, their demand to see the movie was high, but their people because they are poor did not have much opportunity to attend a theater. Even more pressing to the whole problem is that there is not enough per capita income to dictate that an investor could even open and operate a movie theater in the country. Italy and Spain are both socialist countries and put out a pathetic number in response to the Godzilla box office. Again, it is not that people did not want to see the movie. Those that could did. But in those countries, there just aren’t enough theater owners who want to embark on the entrepreneurial activity of theater ownership.

France put up a respectable number as they have several major cities that have movie theaters. In the future however because of the socialist policies of the current government penalizing the rich, there will likely be far less real-estate investment into movie theaters leading the country back into something like what Spain, Italy and Brazil are putting out as far as economic activity.

Economic activity is of course the access of investment into theater ownership and access to money to attend a movie by the general population through disposable income. If taxation consumes much of that income, then movie attendance will of course decrease. After China loosened up a bit toward western films and actually allowed their citizens to watch movies like Godzilla, they are usually good for around $40 million in opening weekend box office totals out of a population matrix of over a billion people. Much of this market base is around the capitalist region of Hong Kong, but the communist portions of the country are still deeply deprived of business investment and disposable income to even purchase a movie ticket. There are likely millions of children within China who would love to see Godzilla, but they can’t because no movie theater owners want to deal with the communist government to operate such things with all the restrictions involved. After all, China only allows ten films a year from America. The rest of the year there aren’t many opportunities to see movies that are good. China isn’t making many movies, and neither is the rest of the world. Only America makes movies like Godzilla and only a select few are allowed to be seen within a communist country. Godzilla will be one of them—thank goodness.

Here is a sad statistic; the entire country of Australia which is a large landmass, only produced $6.1 million in Godzilla sales—mostly on the east coast of the country.   Australia has also functioned under socialism for a number of years which has killed their economic growth and the results can easily be seen in the terribly deficient movie theaters available. Obviously people in Australia would love to see Godzilla, but they do not have enough movie theaters to allow such a thing. They have not been friendly enough toward entrepreneurial activity to allow their people such a positive leisure time activity like seeing Godzilla.

Is it fair to judge the world against such standards—well, yes it is. Godzilla is the kind of movie that boys, girls, young, old, virtually every market demographic in the world would like to at least see, but those opportunities do not exist in countries struggling with socialism, communism, and over restrictive governments. Countries like Russia have at least stepped up to the plate and allowed for western films to be shown in their city multiplexes and they produced a respectable $9.1 million, just shy of England which boosts a much smaller landmass and total population. Such comparisons speak very accurately about the economic strength of the cultures viewing the film Godzilla.

Godzilla is s global phenomena built with Japanese branding for many years, so it is a stable platform to make such comparisons. And the economic status of the world is easy to measure against such a globally unified reference point. If you want to measure the strength of a nation, just look at how many people attend movie blockbusters and determine if they have access to a movie theater, have expendable income, or live in a country that allows the kind of free speech needed to see such a thing. Then ask why they can’t, and you will have the answer as to which political systems work best for the people they are supposed to serve, and which ones simply use people as a platform for their own self-importance.

I bet dear reader—that you had no idea that the new Godzilla movie told so many stories on so many levels—but now you do.

Rich Hoffman