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...alien energy tea...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1559. April 8, 2021. Lagos...

I don't know where the extra energy came from last night, once the house settled, but it was there all right.

With podcasts and dishes out of the way, the markets closed and the teapot bubbling for a soothing infusion, I wondered for a while what I should do with the extra energy. Watch half an episode of Invincible or revisit Roswell. I had about thirty minutes of wakefulness before having to face the puzzle of trying to sleep next to a wailing baby, so I closed the laptop for good, carried the herbal mug to the floral table, and set things up to stop another alien invasion in Under Falling Skies.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Unlikely allies.

I was more relaxed this time, and it wasn't just on the back of the tea.

I stopped worrying about ships flying towards the base too fast. Early in the game, there is time to let them glide. Instead, I used the fives and sixes rolled to advance on the research track and speed up the construction of the underground base.

When the ships came too close, I stopped this process to shot down as many as I could with the fighter jets. And the only time I APed on those kamikaze saucers was when the mothership was about to trigger a research or underground base backtrack! No can do! The timely maneuver of the small ships is key to minimize the dangers of the enormous mothership.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Accurate dice placement and steadfast principles.

After a few minutes of this back and forth, and with two mothership turns left to spare, I hit the research goal and won the game. My first victory at the standard difficulty level.

Am I ready for the campaign? I don't know, but I'm going in anyway.


One year ago: ...temple of good cheer...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Thu Apr 15, 2021 10:00 pm
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...dusk of the thoarr mine...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
Algarve
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Day 1558. April 7, 2021. Lagos...

From the diary of Whurgar "Iron Lurker" of the Clan Keenhood.

Year 4 in Thoarr Mine

Our numbers are falling too fast to creatures of the underworld. Goblins, Cave Bears, Dire Wolves, and this year, Root Walkers! We built a third hovel in the hopes of attracting more dwarfs from nearby mines and strongholds, but I don't know if it will be enough. The fight with the Root Walkers was a hard one before the fire burned the last of the bulbous creatures. Axe covered in brown ooze, I stood by the fire looking deep into it, letting the flames burn an image in the eyes. A fiery vision of a great forge to be. A construct to bring prestige and fame to Clan Keenhood for eons! A mithril forge!

Year 5 in Thoarr Mine

We started to prepare the foundations for the mithril forge. Such a magnificent building will take many months, if not years, of the clan's resources. So, we dug ever deeper. Deeper than ever before until the miners found the perfect place for the building. Unfortunately, it was occupied by beasts that should have been friends of ours, on the back of our mutual appreciation for the rock. But the Stone Folk are too primitive for such unions. We've invaded their homes, and they fought back with force. As we would if they did the same to us.

The mithril forge is happening... at the sounds of battle and screams of the dying from both war parties!


Year 6 in Thoarr Mine

The mithril forge is built! Aaaah! Glory and doom for Clan Keenhood!

The Stone Folk were relentless and didn't stop attacking since we found them! Immediately the forge was put to work, our sole block of the precious material melted to craft shiny mithril armor for our soldiers! But for all their shininess and strength, they are no match for creatures defending their homes and their lives!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Remnants of a small band of dwarfs.

The Battle of the Rocks we named our final battle. The Stone Folk were exterminated. But so did us!

...well, that was fast. Faster than I had expected. Only six years of existence and a paltry three points of prestige, from the glorified graveyard built in the second year. I figured offense to be the best strategy to a long life for the Thoarr Mine and Clan Keenhood. With that in mind, I built four barracks early in the game, unlocking the killer(?) d12 Attack die. Unfortunately, since most of the creatures we found didn't have much more than 4 or 5 points of health, a d12 = overkill. Next time I'm stopping at the d10 and invest in early hovels rather than barracks.

And there will be a next time. Now that I've played the first game and figured out the rules (but not the strategy), expect a few more dwarven mines around these parts.


One year ago: ...illiterate troll of all trades...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:00 pm
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...dawn of the thoarr mine...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1557. April 6, 2021. Lagos...

While I wait for the physical copy of Delve to make its way to this corner of Southern Europe, I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast it with another lesser known game about managing a dwarven stronghold. James Hron's Dwarf Mine, a solo mapmaking/journalling game. For now, only available through his itch.io page.

The rules are straightforward with three phases per year, but mostly you'll only go through the first two. The last phase is for more persistent and devious creatures that I'm not sure I want to encounter.

There's your turn, where you spend resources and dig (draw) new buildings beneath the mountains. And then there's the mine's turn, where you gain resources through mining and deal with whatever creatures the sound of the dwarven pickaxes have draw attention.

Simple fare. Like many of these games, you're rolling dice and checking the results with tables, concocting a story to unite everything. With the mapmaking element, however, there's a bit more decision space for the players. The deeper you go, the more resources you'll excavate to support the Dwarven expansion. But as you dig deeper into Level 2, 3, and ultimately 4, the more dangerous the encounters and events.

And if this wasn't enough, the longer your stronghold lasts, the higher the chances of the dwarfs disturbing truly nefarious underworld dwellers! Dragons!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

It's time to dig out my solo RPG notebook.

There's also a lesser RPGesque element in Dwarf Mine. At the end of the game, you'll tally up the prestige and age of the mine, so you can try and beat it the next time you play.

A couple of expansions included in the main rules finish the package. However, for tonight, all I could muster was rules reading and three years' worth of dwarven expansion...


From the diary of Whurgar "Iron Lurker," of the Clan Keenhood.

Year 1 in the Thoarr Mine.

Our scouts returned from The Overhanging mountain range with good news. They found signs of mithril and an entry into a large cavern that was perfect for our first camp. A few weeks after everyone had settled inside, with the entrance to the cavern secured, we built two barracks to train our folk and construct a simple hovel to make this place more welcoming to baby dwarfs.

A few months into the construction, our diggers came across a natural cave, and the small goblin group the lived there. The goblins killed the unwary dwarf that found them. Our newly trained soldiers wiped them all out in exchange!

Year 2 in the Thoarr Mine.

At last, the first signs of mithril! And we've barely started to dig deep! One can only hope and dream about rich veins of ore that we'll find as we expand the mine! Unfortunately, there's no reward without sacrifice. A cave bear found a way into a less secured part of the mine and slaughtered six of our bearded brothers before we could kill the angry creature. Our newly built tomb received its first eternal dwellers.

Year 3 in Thoarr Mine.

Fearing ever-dangerous creatures as we continued to move inward, we spent another year building more barracks and training more soldiers. This project almost depleted our gold reserves and cost us the lives of another handful of dwarfs! The soldiers succeeded in containing the dire wolf's wrath, but we'll soon need to transform the mithril into something of use. Armour!


One year ago: ...three day land of coins and robes...


Photos & Images: James Hron, ZombieBoard
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Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:00 pm
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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.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

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
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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
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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

Pause if you're wondering why is there a baby in your favorite board gaming website.
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Wed Apr 7, 2021 10:00 pm
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...zizz...

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



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


Photos & Images: gennylynnphotography.com

Pause if you're wondering why is there a baby in your favorite board gaming website.
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Tue Apr 6, 2021 10:00 pm
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