A Gnome's Ponderings

I'm a gamer. I love me some games and I like to ramble about games and gaming. So, more than anything else, this blog is a place for me to keep track of my ramblings. If anyone finds this helpful or even (good heavens) insightful, so much the better.

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [160]

Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My November PnP

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
November was a busy month for me, which included starting a new job. However, crafting games proved to be a good form of decompression so I did get some PnP crafting.

Here’s what I made:

Gelatinous Cube Dice
Button Men
All is Bomb
FlipWord
13 Sheep
Flipuzzles and the original Thin Cube
Squarcles
Sunday Match (2021 Contest)

My ‘big’ project was Gelatinous Cube Dice. I honestly don’t have high expectations for it but I couldn’t pass up a dungeon crawl a Gelatinous Cube, which has to take the prize as Gary Gygax’s laziest monster design.

Quite a few of the games are tiny ones that I used to fill in empty spots on laminating sheets. I am looking forward to trying All is Bomb.

But the oddest PnP experience I had in November was that Flipuzzles was picked up by Button Shy in between me making a copy and playing it.

It’s been a time of changes but PnP is one of the ways I’ve been keeping the ship steady.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Wed Dec 1, 2021 2:21 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Looking at the 18-Card I Am Lynx

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I Am Lynx is a fairly significant game for me. It wasn’t the first in-hand game I saw or played. However, it was the game that got me really interested in the genre and the game that made me hunt down Palm Island.

The game itself has you create a landscape out of four cards with the draw deck held sideways. One of the cards will always be your lynx, who moves through the wilderness. Cycle through the four seasons without being killed by hunters and that’s the game.

There’s honestly not much to the nine card version of the game. After a couple games to get to know the rules and the way the game works, it’s really just a walk in the woods. But I have gotten a surprising amount of play out of it over the last few years. It’s more of an exercise in relaxation than a game but sometimes that’s what I want.

I have now finally tried the 18-card version. I had been initially thrown by a card that had arrows on it. That turned out to be for saving your place if you needed to stop playing and didn’t have anything to do with actually playing. (Okay, as a beta, there is some fuzziness in the rules in general)

While I Am Lynx is still no Palm Island and 18 cards (really 17 cards since one of them is a bookmark in case you want to stop for a while) is still a micro game, the longer version stretches the game to the point where it feels more like a game rather than a meditation. (Not that there is anything wrong with a meditation in nine cards)

There are more hunters. Hunting for food is _slightly_ more complicated. There are rules about shelters I _think_ I understand.

But what really makes the longer version of the game better is just that it is longer. In the nine card game, you cycle through the seven cards that form the draw pile so fast that you can makes threats (ie hunters) go away easily. A fifteen card draw pile is big enough that you actually have to deal with stuff.

I Am Lynx’s greatest strength is that it gives you an environment to play with. Seriously, there are other in-hand games that give you more choices to make. But the walk in the woods is enough for me to enjoy it.

I Am Lynx’s real importance to me is it got to me to go find honestly better games. But I still like it enough to occasionally play it. And the bigger version is definitely better.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1965957/wip-i-am-lynx-18-ca...

(I couldn’t find a place to comment on this where it felt like it fit but both versions were designed for contests but never actually entered. I believe that means they are effectively unfinished betas. They are pretty fun for games in that state)
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Mon Nov 29, 2021 4:44 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving surprised me with its heart

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
Our son surprised us by asking to watch the Peanuts Thanksgiving special on Thanksgiving.

Earlier this year, he’d wanted to see It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and we were surprised at how bleak it was. So we weren’t sure what A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving would be like.

While it’s probably the most prominent animated Thanksgiving special (there aren’t a lot), it’s no A Charlie Brown Christmas so let’s get a summary going.

Spoilers

Spoilers

Spoilers

In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, the conflict comes from Peppermint Patty inviting herself, as well as Maurcie and Franklin to the Browns for Thanksgiving dinner. However, Charlie Brown will be celebrating Thanksgiving with his grandmother. His hastily thrown togoether meal disappoints Peppermint Party but Marcie points out hypocrisy. In the end, Grandma Brown invites everyone to her condominium for a traditional meal.

While there is a scene where a chair comes to life and fights an epic battle with Snoopy, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is surprisingly grounded. Really, if a group of elementary school kids were to try to throw together a feast, popcorn, toast, pretzel sticks and jellybeans seems pretty believable. The special feels even more slice of life than usual for a Peanuts special.

As a grownup, the conflict in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving takes on a different tone. Peppermint Party invites herself into the Browns’ Thanksgiving because her dad has been called out of town and she’s all alone.

While it is barely touched on, Peppermint Patty has a single parent home. (I remember Marcie’s mom made her a skating dress because Peppermint Patty didn’t have a mom) Unlike Charlie Brown being in the unrealistic position of getting a Christmas tree (something a grown up would be expected to do), Peppermint Patty’s situation is very believable.

And when Marcie calls her out on she imposed on Charlie Brown and then blamed him for not living up to her expectations, Peppermint Patty feels bad and apologizes. I can’t see Lucy doing that.

While the situation isn’t as ‘big’ as the Christmas or Halloween specials, the stakes in the Thanksgiving special are more grounded and thus hit home on a different level. I found it surprisingly effective.

A Charlie Brown Christmas was a medium-changing work that has informed animated specials in general ever since it’s creation. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving can’t touch that but it surprised me with its sweetness.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Fri Nov 26, 2021 9:17 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Games for Thanksgiving?

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
While I often wonder what games are appropriately thematic for October and Halloween, I never do that for November and Thanksgiving. Which just goes to show you that ghosts and witches and Cthulhu are more fun than pilgrims.

And to be fair, most of the things that you can theme Thanksgiving around are general enough that there are plenty of games that already cover that ground. History, agriculture, cuisine, American football? Yeah, we’re good.

Honestly, the first game that comes to mind for me is Agricola. Which is set in Europe around 1670 so clearly historical accuracy is the most important part of Thanksgiving for me

Seriously, though, if Agricola ended with a communal feast, it’d be perfect.

[Wait! It does end with a harvest feast?! It is PERFECT! Oh, Agricola,how could I doubt you?]

But there are plenty of communal feast themed games out there. The game I’d choose out of that lot is Burgoo, in part because it’s actually in my collection Seriously, though, it’s more likely to hit the table this holiday, thanks to playing time and table space.

The other game that screams to me Thanksgiving is Settlers of the Dead, which is a PnP R&W solitaire about being a colonist trying to feed their family while fighting off the zombie apocalypse. And it’s only because the artwork includes ‘pilgrim’ hats. (Yes, I know they are actually puritan hats)

Maybe I’ll actually try it in celebration of Thanksgiving I’m pretty sure the game is weighted against combat being a viable option but it’d still be fun for one or two spins.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll put this much effort into Christmas gaming.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:11 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Dicember? What’s that?

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
December 2021 is the seventh annual Dicember!

Never heard of it before now though.

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/291599/item/8612155#item8...

Anyway, the idea is to challenge yourself to play dice games in the month of December. The normal challenge is to play fifteen different dice games during December. The harder challenge to 31 dice games. The really hard challenge is 31 dice games and play them on different days. You know, a different game every day of the month.

Okay, I decide to go in on the normal challenge. Over the last couple years, I’ve really gotten into dice games, particularly solitaire Roll and Write.

The rules allow for solitaire play, as well as IOS and online play, as long as they actually, you know, follow the rules. If a game plays the same digitally as it does analog, it’s good.

So I sat down and made a list of the dice games that I play, one way or another, on a regular basis. And, yeah, I hit fifteen different dice games without a problem. For me, Dicember is any given month at the moment.

For a moment, I flirted with the idea of learning fifteen NEW TO ME dice games in December. But, since starting a new job, my time to game has shrunk and so has my drive to binge solitaire games. And I want to enjoy learning games, not blitz through them so fast that I don’t remember anything about them.

Still, there are R&W games on the stack of games I want to learn. And there are plenty of R&W games I’ve already learned I could try again. I know that I don’t have the time to do the really hard challenge but I will _try_ the medium challenge.

Maybe every month can be Dicember but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth celebrating.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Mon Nov 22, 2021 6:40 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Squarcles- where minimalism makes it work

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I’ve been poking at a tiny game called Squarcles. It’s another game from this year’s One-Card Contest. You need four dice (ideally two white and two black but any two colors can work) and some way of keeping score so it’s pretty minimal.

It’s a speed puzzle game. The one-card part is a double sided card with a grid of interlocking black and white circles and squares.

Each turn, roll the dice and set aside the one that is the farthest from you. The three remaining dice define the elements you’ll be looking for. Odd numbers represent circles and even numbers represent squares. Black and white are black and white.

Flip the card over and everyone races to find a symbol on that side that has all the elements of the dice. First person to put their finger on a working symbol gets a points. Eight turns is a game and most points wins.

At first, since there are shapes inside shapes, I thought the actual values of the dice were an element. Nope, just even/odd and black/white. Which, to be honest, that makes the game workable.

The word that really comes to mind with Squarcles is functional. All of the parts work. The second word is portable. This isn’t a game I’d schedule. It’s for waiting for people to arrive or the food to get to the table. It’s probably he hilarious at a bar with drink players.

If I’d have had it way back when my collection fit in a backpack and was built around playing at coffee shops, Squarcles would have done well. It’s a pleasant little mental exercise.

But what Squarcles really does is make me think of Ricochet Robots and Riciichet. Those were two of the first timed puzzle games I intentionally tried. (Boggle is something that just happens to people. Good game but there is a cultural osmosis thing going on)

I still think of Ricochet Robots as one of the best examples of a timed puzzle game. But just about everyone I played it with didn’t like it. I couldn’t justify its space on the shelf. I do sometimes play it online or play Ricochet Pyramids, a Looney Pyramid tribute.

Ricochet (also published as Leonardo and Picus) was a deck of cards. The puzzles were finding the path created by five random cards. It’s honestly so-so but just being a deck of cards has kept in the collection.

So… times puzzles are very casual in my gaming life and smaller size work better. So Squarcles should do okay.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Fri Nov 19, 2021 8:28 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Alcatraz versus the Unreliable Narrator

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I have finished the fifth book in Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz books. And ooooh boy, do I want to write about them.

But the books are too much fun for me to spoil So I don’t want to go into any of the twisty plot elements. But the format gives me plenty to discuss.

Alcatraz is an orphan who discovers that he actually nobility of a fantastical hidden world, has vast magical powers and is at the forefront of the battle between good and evil. Which makes the series sound like a clone of Harry Potter. Instead, it relentlessly subverts those expectations.

Alcatraz is the narrator of his own adventures. And he is not just an unreliable narrator. He brags about being an unreliable narrator. On top of that, he discusses literary tropes and literary history, getting side tracked from the actual narrative constantly.

Interestingly enough, it isn’t quite as meta as it sounds. Alcatraz doesn’t know that he’s in a book. He knows that he’s writing a book. (Well, within the context of the books. I’m pretty sure Brandon Sanderson is real author)

This has the interesting effect of letting Sanderson actively discuss the nuts and bolts of literature and writing while still making it make sense and be accessible within the context of the story.

And Alcatraz is a _fun_ narrator. Snarky, actually pretty funny and self-depreciating to the point of being legitimately damaged, Alcatraz is engaging and sympathetic. He’s very much of a guile hero but one whose desperate, cunning plans tend to have unfortunate and unforeseen consequences. He frequently points out that, since he is writing his autobiography, that he clearly lives through the books but there are still stakes.

The Alcatraz books pulls off being an interesting experiment/exploration in writing and being a decent story as well. Since it is theoretically aimed at younger readers, it needs to have the second part. Still, the former is really the selling point of the books.

So. Good books. Glad I read them. Go read them.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Wed Nov 17, 2021 7:58 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Some closing thoughts on Cozy Grove… for now

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
Well, I finished the story portion of Cozy Grove. At least until they release more content.

Cozy Grove, as I’ve written about before, is a video game that is best describe as Animal Crossing with ghosts for villagers. Not a 100% accurate but that’s good enough for you to know if you’d want to play it or not.

Before the social and pandemic strife that has been the last couple years, I’d never heard of Iyashikei as a genre at all, let alone one for video games. And now that’s just about all I play

Iyashikei is a Japanese term for healing and is used to refer to works that are decompressing and soothing. Man, it’s a handy concept to have found out about.

Okay. Spoilers

Spoilers

You have been warned

Spoilers

Okay, the story part of the game (as opposed the decorating and landscaping part of the game) has you interact and council seventeen different ghosts. Getting through them all will take between three and four months since Cozy Grove has slow paced, daily gameplay.

The first fourteen ghosts are relatively recent passings and their stories are interconnected. However, the last three are ghosts from ancient times.

And, while their stories were interesting enough, I did not find the ancient ghosts as evocative or as engaging as the other ghosts. It was like the last chapter of a book was actually from another book.

That said, I got literally months of relaxation out of Cozy Grove. It was well worth the playing for me. And if they add more ghosts, I’d play some more. But, for the moment, I’m back to being focused on Animal Crossing

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Nov 15, 2021 11:55 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

So I guess I got a sneak peek at Flipuzzles

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I had been planning on writing about my PnP experiences with Thin Cube and the rest of the Flipuzzle collection that has currently been developed. However, the files are no longer public because Buttonshy is planning on publishing them.

Still, even if they aren’t currently available, the system/family is an interesting one.

Flipuzzles aren’t actually games, at least as I define a game. They are puzzles with set solutions. With that out of the way, they are decidedly interesting puzzles.

Okay. Let me see if I can explain how they work. Each puzzle is a two-sided card. While the exact details and particular rules vary depending on the puzzle type, they all have this basic formula. They all involve moving on a grid. When you move on the grid, you flip the card and you will be in your new position on the grid on the other side. Same coordinates. Different side.

And here’s the part that can be the best and worst part of Flipuzzles. The card is the only component. You have to mentally keep track of where you are on the grid. That makes the puzzles incredibly portable and convenient. But that makes it easy to lose your place. Well, at least if you’re me.

This actually pushes the games out of the fidget department and into the cerebral territory. I actually have to really concentrate to work on the puzzles. Which isn’t a flaw. They are just a different kind of mental exercise than I went in expecting to see.

I do want to highlight the Thin Cube puzzles. Thin Cube won best overall game in this year’s One Card PnP Contest. It actually translates the idea of a Rubik’s Cube into a single card. There is a lot of puzzle packed into the medium. Unfortunately, between having a black-and-white printer and being so color blind that even the colorblind friendly palate is hard for me anyway, it’s extremely hard for me to parse.

As I understand it, the Flipuzzles will serve as Buttonshy’s game of the month. I think they will be perfect for the format. Each puzzle is self-contained as a singly card, make them easy as both a mailing and a PnP.

Between this ans FlipWord, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen from D. Teuber. I’m going to have to look at Word Trax.


Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Fri Nov 12, 2021 3:25 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

You know Falling Angel is a tragedy going in

Lowell Kempf
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
Probably the worst thing I can say about Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg is that I figured out the twist by the second chapter. And, no, I didn’t even know it inspired the movie Angel Heart, let alone seen that movie.

That actually didn’t spoil the book for me. I knew where the story was heading and what the ending would be (and I was right, by the way) However, the actual journey to get there was the real reason to read the book. I’m pretty sure everyone who goes to see Antigone knows how it ends but buys the ticket anyway.

Falling Angels is a hybrid of horror, classic tragedy and hard boiled detective. And while the hard boiled detective genre frames the story, all three elements are essential to the story and are woven together surprisingly well.

Since the story is basically nothing but a whole bunch of twists, I am going to skip it to avoid spoilers. And, yes, it’s obvious but that doesn’t mean I feel like spoilers. A private detective named Harry Angel is hired by a Louis Cyphre. And bad things happen. There. That’s enough.

I’ll give this fair warning. There is some graphic violence in this book. It actually succeeds in being disturbing.

Falling Angel isn’t a perfect book but it does the things it needs to do to work well.

Originally found at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Wed Nov 10, 2021 6:54 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [160]