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...circus for two...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1556. April 5, 2021. Lagos...

Two weeks have passed since the country started its slow journey of deconfinement, one fortnight at a time.

Today, more shops were allowed to open. Perhaps more important for the people's social well-being, the cafe's outdoor service can now function with groups of four or fewer people around the same table. Land border patrol remains tight, if not closed. Still, airplanes continue to land and disembark tourists eager to leave their own lockdown countries in the hopes of a more sunny and less restrictive place.

But when most Central Europe is about to enter its third wave and respective lockdown measures, I wonder if deconfinement is the right word for us. Maybe we're lucky and, being a small country and all, can have most of the general populous vaccinated before the third wave hits us.


It was also Alice's last day of Easter vacation. An oddity in itself after... what? A month and a half of Carnival lockdown holidays? Anyway, a game was due with her, and she asked for a visit to the circus.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Triple barrel, one elephant... even a tiger! Ans still, she won.

In our meeple version of the greatest show on earth, we all acted like pros despite the long absence with the game. Alice kept piling on the same trick, a green balloon over a flimsy stick, sometimes doubling the performance, to stay on my heels. While I did likewise, with an inverted acrobat balancing a heavy barrel with his feet.

Come the final act, though, I played my third act tile so perfectly that not a single acrobat screamed "Ouch!" for having an animal piled on top of him! So perfect in fact, that Alice was quick to point out that I shouldn't win the tile's five points since I'd "Ouched!" not once during the act.

I considered this for a while and then conceded her point.

She won by exactly five points.

...I wonder how the circus of the real world managed this last year?


One year ago: ...MacEssentials with worms...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:00 pm
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...return to Roswell's maze...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1555. April 4, 2021. Lagos...

The last time I faced the dice-driven alien invasion, I had a blast having my but kicked at Roswell. A vanilla game set at Threat level 1, with the upper sky tile, flipped to its hard side.

This morning I had my radar on high alert, looking for potential breaks in newborn wails followed by a tired sleep soon after. Sometimes we get a five-minute rest. Sometimes he's blessed with a sixty-minute nap.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Return of the silent invaders.

This time, he gave me about thirty minutes to play. The eyes opened only as the mother ship was a notch or two from crushing the Roswell base.

I don't know what happened. I noticed a wasted die or two during the game that could have been placed in some other location had I had my full attention on the game rather than on the room's noise levels as not to wake the baby. And I know I waited too long to start funding the research track, which should be going up as early as turn one if possible!

But at least I squeaked out a solo play - a play of a very good one-player cardboard xenomorph - with a sleeping newborn at my side.

I call that a victory.


But if that's a victory, how about a three-player game of Labyrinth: Card Game during the umpteenth nap?

From gallery of ZombieBoard

A maze made for three.

A milestone, I would say, since we rarely find the stars aligned for the whole family to take part in the same game.

Alice took the lead, winning two treasures (twice!), and my wife caught up with her soon after. It's crucial to win at least one treasure every time you place a card, lest you fall too far behind in the race, in a game where winning two at once can easily spell victory once the cards run out.

It was more fun than it had any right to be for a card version of a classic.


One year ago: ...the dead...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Sun Apr 11, 2021 10:00 pm
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...limping and learning...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1554. April 3, 2021. Lagos...

Besides the random game with my daughter in the last two weeks, there was one other game I did manage to "play".

Go.

Playing always asynchronously, during the two or three minutes I could sneak during the day, the 19x19 match with a blog reader continued. We haven't made much progress since the last time I wrote about it, as we've both been busy. Or maybe I should say I haven't made much progress. My teacher's white stones are whooping my naivete into submission, the same way a 3rd-grade teacher would use the wooden ruler for an educational slap on the hand.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Before...

The Battle for the SW corner of the board raged on from humble beginnings, spreading almost as far as the northern borders. And every time I tried to plan ahead in the capturing business, I found out the hard way that planning two or three moves ahead is nowhere near enough in this game!

What would you do to escape white's domination?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
From gallery of ZombieBoard

...the Battle for the SW.

I needed to up my game somehow.


So I picked up the book Learn to Play Go by authors Janice Kim and Jeon Soo-hyun, whose names are always followed by their respective strengths in the game. 1 Dan for Janice and 9 Dan for Jeon.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Learning about life and death.

I'm still in the basic capturing and connecting techniques part of the book after reading the game's fundamentals. Which for a game this simple, there's still a lot of "fundamentals" to grasp.

The book is filled with illustrations depicting everything that's written. And at the end of every chapter, there's a series of Try it Yourself problems (with answers), so you can test yourself on the lesson learned. I have no idea about other Go books, but for me at least, that British Brain-Trust Awards splattered in the cover for Game Book of the Year 1996 seems to be spot on. Even the whimsical illustrations spread out along the book feel totally thematic with the game's abstract nature.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The many names of Go(d).

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Illustrative abstraction.

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Whimsies.

The other way I'd planned to speed up the learning curve was by following through with the Youtube suggestion that Marshall mentioned last time. I browsed the content on In Sente's channel, but before I reached the tutorial playlists, I stumbled on a review of The Conquest of Go, Steam's offer on the classical game.

The review was positive, but what struck my curiosity was the mention that The Conquest of Go was connected to the Online-Go servers. And judging by the reviewer's excitement, it looked like Online-Go was a significant hub for go in the digital land. I promptly left Youtube, headed to The Conquest of Go, created an account in the Online-Go servers, bypassed the AI campaign, and started looking for open 9x9 tables. As soon as the first table popped up, I grabbed a seat and placed my first stone.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Ladder of Humbleness.

Five games later, I had achieved the impressive result of two resignations and one loss by timeout. Two of my opponents didn't even bother starting a game with me once they realized who they were up against! A newb!

But at least I had found what I was looking for. More tables to play. No matter how many books you read about a subject, there's no better teacher than a hands-on approach. So I signed up for a tournament on the 9x9 ladder, where I could play at my own pace.

Currently in the 1349 position. I'll report back when, and if, I limp my way up a tenth of the ladder.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The long road ahead with Go.


One year ago: ...tough apples...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:00 pm
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...awakening...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1553. April 2, 2021. Lagos...

It was a mistake to stop writing daily in the last few weeks and forgo the thirty minutes or so spent putting (gaming) thoughts into paper.

It not only feels great to share game wanderings with you, but the writing in itself is a chance to zone out of the real world for a while. I shouldn't have let babies run the blog so long, no matter how beautiful they are. Pre-toddlers preventing me from a much-needed pause. A pause from the sleepless nights when two hours of closed eyes taste like heaven. A pause in the house chores that double in volume when your better half needs to be wholly devoted to the new guest. A pause in the father madman's circus juggle of work, exercise, domestic and social life.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Aim for the stars little one.

On the other hand, I don't know if I would have been able to sit down and actually write anything. Or play any game and share impressions with you. As a father of one, free time is nuked at the moment the children match the number of adults. I bow in respect for the gaming parents outnumbered by their offspring.

But I know (or think I know) that in time, as long as kids grow and parents learn about life along with them, that the pockets of free time and energy that I'll have to carve out for myself will also grow.


The other day, my wife told me she missed playing games. Terraforming Mars, of course, but also new games. I struggled not to laugh out loud as not to wake the baby when she mentioned Agra! But Jamaica, her next suggestion, might not be so absurd after all. It is, after all, a racing game where speed is paramount.

Even gaming with Alice suffered a huge blow in the last two weeks. The only three games she managed to pull out of her tired daddy were a speedy Avalanche At Yeti Mountain. A Washing Lines while I struggled to stay awake and focus on the colors to set collect. And Claim 2, sneaked by when I sat to drink the dark beverage of wakefulness. Her exuberant Giants trampled all over my sleepy Gnomes.


Only today, on her last day of Easter Vacations, did we managed to visit our secret island of lockdown after a long hiatus.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Small pleasures.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Treasured.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Royal.

She was delighted to have her daddy all to herself for once, as we sat in the wooden bridge for another match of The Fox in The Forest. We played three hands, as usual. But while she managed to win two out of three, I still squeaked by a win on the back of treasures won during all three hands.


As for future brain-challenging games, I don't know...

Sprawlopolis and Agropolis should get here in about a month or so, and I'm sure they will feel like life savors. I might try to focus on games that fall below the absolute thirty-minute threshold, including setup. Dice games and Roll & Writes (again!) come off the top of my mind. What do you think?

Solo RPGs, particularly those that don't suffer from episodic sessions throughout the week, also tempt me. Stuff like 4AD (obviously) and that Solo Journaling Zine niche that sprouted in the last year. A few should also arrive in the coming weeks or months.

I'll just have to wait and see what new routines come up as we continue to adapt to the new guest in the house.


One year ago: ...the wonderfull maze of words...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Fri Apr 9, 2021 10:00 pm
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...The 4th 000's Awards...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1552. April 1, 2021. Lagos...

Let's end Browsing Games Season 4 with the overdue highlights, shall we?



See you at the geeklist.


One year ago: ...camping games...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Thu Apr 8, 2021 10:00 pm
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...catnap...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1551. March 31, 2021. Lagos...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Born lucky.


One year ago: ...the sorrow chambers...


Photos & Images: photographybysarahlynn.com

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Wed Apr 7, 2021 10:00 pm
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...zizz...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1550. March 30, 2021. Lagos...



One year ago: ...race to the city summit...


Photos & Images: gennylynnphotography.com

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Tue Apr 6, 2021 10:00 pm
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...slump...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1549. March 29, 2021. Lagos...



One year ago: ...return to the city...


Photos & Images: stephaniedupuisphotography.com

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...laze...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1548. March 28, 2021. Lagos...



One year ago: ...love, dead, dice and other games...


Photos & Images: newbornsbylidi.com

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Sun Apr 4, 2021 10:00 pm
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...snooze...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1547. March 27, 2021. Lagos...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Odin always sleeps before the feast.


One year ago: ...below the red sands, await birthday claims...


Photos & Images: fotografie-muehlau.de

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