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Gaslands Refuelled: Vintage Disney

Sara Bear
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I've been looking at trying Gaslands: Refuelled for 4 or 5 years. Well, Refuelled is an update from last fall, but looking at Gaslands in general.

With the changes in my gaming this year, how often I game, how much new vs/old/tried and true I'm doing, the therapeutic value of games with some kind of toy-like experience to them, like Funkoverse Strategy Game, I checked on this game again, and the Kindle version of the rules was on sale for $1.99, being usually between $11 and 20 somewhere.

I am going through figuring out and processing some repressed childhood trauma, and play is a language that really works well for me, and I've been discovering through some play therapy just how useful and therapeutic it can be. I am playing much more new to me than usual; I generally play variety anyway, but learning something new is, or feels, more distracting to me from intense stuff, than when I think about an old favorite. I have been challenging that thought/perception, though, by pulling out a few favorites lately.

Still, I am trying not to judge my pull to new new new, because I'm trying to go with how I feel a lot lately, in helping myself through this difficult, intense stuff.

Gaslands Refuelled is quite fun, at least as far as I got, anyway (more on that near the end). I didn't play with the several Wonder Woman cars I've picked up in the last couple years with Gaslands in mind; I went with a couple of Disney cars I picked up, because I felt so connected to younger me when I picked up and drove them; healing experiences for young me are quite important, so again, I went with what I felt, which doesn't come naturally to me as an overthinker.

I also chose a pair of VW-ish Beetle cars, because the learning scenario has two teams, each with one car and one buggy. Though these Punchbuggies were larger than the Disney cars, I used them as the more lightweight Buggy for each team, because it would have been a clash in my mind to counteract that and go opposite of the natural fit for those. My daughter game me these Punchbuggies out of herr small collection of special ones she'd saved from her childhood; she seems more connected to the ones she kept, so I dont feel badly.

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I printed and cut out the templates, and a couple of dashboards for each team. I printed out the quick reference, but I'm going to have to make my own (see near the end for more discussion).

I thought about what to use from around the house to represent the start, finish, and obstacles on the track, and I decided my beading supplies, which I've stored away as I need to sort through and move on 2/3 of it, would have things to use. I've made a selection of things, some not used in this game, to keep in a drawer with the cars, for buildding hedges, fences, rocks, and things in future.

====================
Here's the starting lineup of Team Jumbo/Dumbo against Team Gepetto/Pinocchio (Punchbuggies are playing the parent in this scenario).

From gallery of sarebear62


The starting line is a netting seed bead bracelet I made when I was new to beading. I chose silver lined seed beads for the picots on the outside edges of the netting; the silver lining inside tarnishes; eventually I'll remake the bracelet, as it feels and looks awesome on, but I'll need a magnifier first as my eyes aren't what they used to be . . .

From gallery of sarebear62


An almost racer's eye view of the course. Oh, I need to say that each vehicle is armed with a forward mounted machine gun (which no one was ever in range of, I don't think) and two handguns, as each vehicle had two crew, a handgun for each. The handguns have a 360 degree firing arc; the FMMG has only forward. You get 2d6 per machine gun.

From gallery of sarebear62


This is a destructible obstacle as far as the game goes; it's a flower hedge that I was going to have each half need to be destroyed to remove it entirely; if one half got pasted, I'd just fold the thing in half. The bracelet I used has been in a bag to be repaired as the beading thread broke after some wear; you might see the thread poking up.

From gallery of sarebear62


Another destructible object; there's a rosebush on the course! What's a Disney race without flowers and birds?

From gallery of sarebear62


A sterling silver finish line! Handmade for me by my husband of tiny sterling silver jump rings, in the euro 4-in-1 chainmail pattern. A few years later, I developed a nickel allergy, and this bracelet is not nickel free. It serves as a fancy finish line, though!

The other obstacles are trees, a cow statue, and a big purple crystal rock. These are represented by jars of colored beading thread, a black and white stone pendant, and a small container of primitive amethyst sticks, which not long into the game I started using to count who had gone, and for which gear phase. One stick meant they'd gone for gear one, two meant they'd gone for gear two, etc. I will likely use these or an equivalent in future games.

==============
Raring to go, Team Elephant won the roll for Pole Position, and started first.
From gallery of sarebear62


Dumbo goes a straight medium length, choosing to use the shift for being a trivial maneuver to shift upwards (I forgot to add a hazard token to each car's dashboard when doing that, but catch it soon enough in the game I can figure out who has what (partly from looking at the photos of the moves they made/templates used)).

This is important because the last thing on a turn is checking to see if you wiped out, which you do if you have 6 or more hazard tokens; ANY vehicle with 6 or more wipes out, if they meet that condition, during the wipeout phase of any vehicle's turn. (Collisions and things can have you gaining hazard tokens even when you aren't taking your turn in the race.)

From gallery of sarebear62


Gepetto takes a curve to Dumbo's left, and . . .

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shoots at Dumbo! Walt is turning over in his grave. However, Karma can be quite fitting . . . stay tuned!

Gepetto shoots both handguns; the template is shown to check range with. You get 1d6 for each handgun, and Dumbo gets to try to evade with one die per gear level, and is currently in second gear. A 4 or higher hits, a 6 critical hits for 2 damage. You need a 6 to evade a hit. Gepetto here makes a total of 3 hits, with one normal and 2 for the critical hit; Dumbo evades none of them.

Damage is marked on the dashboard.

Jumbo goes; I didn't take pictures of everything, even though it feels like it! Everyone ends in 2nd gear after their 1st move off the starting line, and the resulting hazard token for each shift up will be corrected later.

From gallery of sarebear62


Pinocchio did a low speed hairpin turn to the right, and then fires both handguns at jumbo, making one normal hit. Jumbo fails to evade.

====================================
Dumbo, then Gepetto, then Jumbo go, each shifting gear up to 3 (hazard token for each them corrected later), from using a trivial maneuver off their template for the move they made. You get a free shift icon, as if you'd rolled the shift dice (which rolling gives you shifts at the equivalent of 4-6 on a d6, slide, spin (one of those is at 3, on at 2, I forget), and 1 is take a hazard token. You also take a hazard token if you can't eliminate doing a slide or spin. Sometimes it may be advantageous to slide or spin, though! Shift lets you shift up or down and take a hazard, get rid of one hazard token, or eliminate a spin or slide result you rolled.)

From gallery of sarebear62


Pinoccho made a hairpin turn; he was not able to get a trivial maneuver shift.

One question I have is, can you use trivial maneuver shift icons to, instead of shifting, get rid of a hazard token? Because the times I did roll the shift/hazard dice, I never got enough to deal with the hazard results, let alone remove hazard tokens I already had.

======================================

From gallery of sarebear62
Dumbo's third move was a nice curve to round the end of the flower hedge; I rolled shift dice and ended up spinning. You have choice in how much you spin it in this case; I spun to face the finish line, rather than go the direction the end of the curve had me facing without a spin. Sometimes spinning or sliding can be advantageous! Though you do gain a hazard token for it. More than 1, if you get multiple spin hazards (not sure if the same is true for slides).

From gallery of sarebear62
Gepetto saw the downside of sliding . . . waay way down to the bottom of the Cliffs of Sanity.

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Gepetto's feeling a little down . . . .

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Here we have another slide that is a close shave for Dumbo's mother! She almost slid into a tree!

From gallery of sarebear62


Pinocchio comus up on the right rear-ish of Dumbo, and fires off a pair of handguns. He doesn't hit, but perhaps he was distracted by the fantastical aerobatic maneuvers he must've made to get three 6's to unquestionably evade every possible combo of hit except for two crits.

=========================

From gallery of sarebear62


Dumbo attempts a move, rolling some shift dice, and ends up backwards and with 6 or more hazards, and so wipes out, moving forward into the flower hedge obstacle (which would have that half destroyed, now) . . . Between the move, figuring out how I wanted to use the dice results I got, and so doing the move & roll, spin, wipeout, and collision (which at this point I was looking up a ton about wiping out and collisions and destructible objects and the damage you do to it and it does to you), I felt my brain just going . . .. I'm done, had enough, it's a therapy day and you've gone as far as your brain had legs for.


From gallery of sarebear62


I fought the feeling for a minute or two but, in the same vein of trying to recognize what I'm feeling more, and go with it when appropriate, I did just that soon enough.

Plus, printing and cutting the stuff took time/energy, as did finding, sorting through, and selecting materials for use in the course. I had several hours of fun, though! (I'm not the speediest person).

==============================

There were a couople times during the game that i looked at the Quick reference sheet I'd downloaded and printed, and thought (after checking the kindle version manual) that with just a couple more words and a number, they could have improved the usefulness of the reference.

I don't remember what these were but I'll be making an improved reference for myself, possibly a double-sided sheet with collision, weapons, attack and smash attack stuff, on the back.

There are also other advanced rules, but I'm not ready for those yet. I do appreciate that the collision and final position/final interrupted position sections, and things like that, have multiple examples and explanation, as with the numbers of situations you could potentially get into, that could be really helpful.

The moment when I felt this game had me, as I was reading the rules, was The Carnage Rule, which is something like, if there's an unclear situation, make the choice that causes the most carnage. That suits me to a T.

I feel like ethe rules were laid out decently to fairly good, for much of the basic game stuff. I do feel like there's a couple things that you will ending going back and forth a lot; flipping back and forth, in physical copy parlance. I used the search function to help with finding some things, but I think the player aid I'm going to make, will help me more. I also might make an index for the book (note to self, go into the kindle book and see if it has one), because of the, for one or two things, you have to look in multiple places..

I feel like they did a decent job of putting much of what should go together, togetther, in a fairly logical order of learning. I've seen much worse! I just need to improve things a little bit, for my needs.

Probably way more than anyone wanted to know about my playthrough, except that it does hit or touch on many of the gameplay basics with this partial game, gives a sense of it.

Some things show better visually, in some ways, like the movement templates. I probably ought to mention the things here that you need to know. There's trivial maneuvers that give you a shift, and hazardous ones that give you a hazard token. It depends which move template you are doing, in which gear. At some gears, some moves aren't available, Of the ones that are for a particular gear, some will be safe than others in that gear. Some will give you the shift opportunity.

I also really like, but was occasionally chagrined by, the Use the first move template you touch. It helps prevent AP, and trying things out, but then you try to visualize it without touching them, so I tried to keep that to a minute or less before just picking one, to keep in the spirit. Playing solo, though, you can take as long as you like, if you want.

I love the toy aspect, I love the DIY use what you've got aspect to making a course. I don't have intentions of ever modding or painting cars and stuff, but I could use variouos crafty skills I have in various media, like beads, weaving, knitting, etc, to make stuff. I'll probably mostly keep it to what I have in the drawer of beading stuff I put together, like some wooden barrel beads my dad made me that I still have some of, some cheap (way too cheap for me to want to wear it, not sure why I bought it) chains that might make good fencing/course guides/barbed wire stand ins, and other things.

Anyway, I intend on playing more, though I am not sure if I'll get to making an improved player aid soon or not.
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Sat May 9, 2020 4:59 am
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Attempting to play a physical game of Ticket to Ride (USA) with Alexa

Sara Bear
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I'll update this blog post throughout the evening, assuming I get farther.

She asked how many players, and I said one. She then said Woohoo! and looks like it's just me and her, or something like that.

She asked at some point, Do I know how to play, and I responded yes. Oh, first thing she asked was if I was playing USA or Europe, and informed about the two different versions.

She asked if I wanted setup instructions (I think), and I said yes, so off we went. But short as the first instruction was, I think it was tickets and train cars, or tickets and train cards . . . I am realizing that hearing brief instructions, is falling into the same I forget it almost immediately zone of my fibro brain fog, as taking a pill does (I usually forget within 10 seconds if I've just taken one).

I asked her to repeat that last, and she just repeated her last sentence, which was something like, tell her Alexa, next, when I'd done what she'd said. So then I asked her to repeat the last instructions, and I still got the same response. I tried repeat the first instructions, start over with setup instructions, and got nothing different, although eventually she was saying when you are done with setup, say next.

I don't know if there's any setup different for playing just one person vs. her, so I then tried to start the whole skill over, didn't work. Tried to exit the skill in a variety of ways; Exit skill, use a (different skill, any one would do, but she wouldn't), Stop, End, whatever the most obvious things were, she just kept saying say next when done with setup. We were about to unplug and reboot her, when I said, Alexa, Shut Up! And that had her exiting the skill, so them's the magic words, I guess.

They really need to have in there commands for repeating the last step, the first step, or the step about "insert a couple words here that'll be just specific enough for her to know which step you are talking about". This is the kind of functionality I am used to. Starting over the instructions at minimum, I can see my third, "step about x" one might be too much programming, who knows, but repeat last instruction, etc, is stupid they don't have that in there.

So, about to go try this again. With the magic words, ALEXA, SHUT UP! ready at hand. I hope she doesn't put me where I last was, with no option to start the instructions over (though putting you back where you were WITH an option to repeat instruction, if you haven't started the game yet, would be cool.)

Will report back in later with how it's going. Or not.

________________________

I'm back. This thing has multiple issues. Most of the game was played from 8pm to 8:30pm my time, with several questions, probably 4 or 5 in that time, practically all of them needing reworded for her to answer at all, and there was one she wouldn't answer at all no matter how I asked it, and another that need 5 attempts or so before hitting on the "right" way.

I had to look up myself, whether or not locomotives drawn in your first draw, off the top of the deck, let you draw another card or not. They do, but that was one of those details I couldn't remember as it's been a while since last I played. I asked it so many different ways my husband in the room was getting annoyed with it and her. I was probably around 8-10 different asks, so I just looked in the physical rules at that point. I tried to word it the most obvious way possible, and asked from different directions of looking at it.

Next time, maybe I'll keep notes on specifics, but after the locomotive top deck draw question, the game felt like it was flowing fairly smoothly for being figuring out the Alexa thing, for figuring out how to ask certain questions.

Oh, another thing, is before gameplay even started, she got stuck in a loop, twice, that went on for 3-5 iterations before we managed to say something that had her move forward; I don't know if this is because we'd been trying to play the game three times and had shut up'd out of it three times, or what. So there's a problem. It's not always clear she's waiting for info from you during the pre-gameplay stuff, but it's hard to say for sure as she was looping and so it's hard to pin that issue down.

Several times during this experience, she exited the skill without us requesting and no notice. There wasn't any train music anymore. There was one time she thought I wanted to end the game, and asked about jumping to the end of the game and warning me that meant I couldn't take turns anymore or something. I said no to that and we continued. But the skill just turning off, so I had to restart . . .she did remember where we were, and usually or always mentioned what the last move she'd made was.

OH. That brings to mind, after asking her a number of questions, or usually one question but multiple attempts (occasionally her reply clued me in to how I could better ask it, but mostly I had to figure it out myself) I would forget who had gone last. I asked her, and she'd mention the last move she'd made, but would not say whether she or I had had the last turn. I tried asking multiple ways and it was clear this isn't programmed in. It needs to be. The one time my husband couldn't remember either, I just took a turn, because I was annoyed the function wasn't in there, so I wasn't going to give the turn to Alexa if I didn't know.

Still, I was having pretty good fun for the last half hour of the game, despite some of the issues that cropped up. I learned to tell her Alexa, Go (I don't remember her saying that was how to tell her to take a turn until a little bit into the game, so I'd been saying, Alexa, Your Turn; my fibro brain fog could be an issue here, or it could have been in the loops where she was talking over herself some or so close to it it seemed like it). I learned to get her to go much faster, as she'll do some effects after you claim a route, and such. I do wish after I claimed a route, she'd take her turn ten to 15 seconds later without having to tell her, or that there was an option in the program to have her auto take turns after claiming a route. But then I suppose that might have you forget to trigger her turn other times . . . OH.

You know what I wish, there's these buttons you can buy to tap and play games with alexa. It'd be SO handy if I had one of those, and could just hit it for her to go. Not that saying Alexa, go, is hard.

I tried tracking score myself early game to compare to how she was scoring it but I got off with her 1/4 of the way through, so I just let her do it.

Trying to ask her how drawing tickets works, took a number of times to hit on the right way.

I did my first turn of the game wrong (I'd like to say it was on purpose, but I'd just been looking at locomotives, and my foggy brain had it, hey, use the color you need plus something else, which is what I did.) She checked the first three to four routes claimed of the game or so by me, if I had the color needed (she didn't mention wild locomotives, though, and didn't mention them in a relevant question I was asking something, but did mention it later in something else.) to claim the route , on non-grey routes, to reinforce that.

I did tell her early on I knew the game (it's apparently been longer than I thought, though, but that was good for testing it I suppose.)

I had fun, despite the frustrations, but she left the skill slightly more than halfway through scoring, which was frustrating, but as she scores herself first, and we'd gotten a couple tickets into me, I had her score all done and just needed to do mine. It was annoying scoring when I had thought I wouldn't have to, and the third ticket I was scoring of mine with her, she kept not understanding what the names were so then she asked how many points I think, and she dropped out of the skill right after that.

She scored 117, and never asked to draw any more routes even though it looked like she was just going for the longest routes she could do at some point after she'd done as much on her routes as she could. I scored 112, and lost because I took two routes late game, and didn't finish one of them, though I did get longest route, partly because of a block I did on her mid-game.

I did find I drew off the top of the deck most of the time, whereas in multiplayer I probably only do that a third of the time for at least one of the cards (if I didn't pick a faceup locomotive.). She's using her own virtual train deck, so the card display only refreshes when you pull from it.

I quite enjoyed the play, despite the technical issues. Also, I need to note that being on the autism/asperger's spectrum, one of my things is my language processes brain differently (okay, as soon as I saw that's how it was coming out of my brain fogged brain, I finished it that way because it's funny, but you know what I meant to say). So it may be that perhaps I wasn't asking the ways others would, but I've had Alexa on a Kindle fire tablet (before the port broke earlier this year) and used to that, and then we've had a DOT for maybe a year now or a bit more, and a Fire TV Stick for several months. (Though the stick . . . either it's faulty, or I don't know what . . . but that's another story.)

So I'm pretty used to what to say, but I've never used a skill nearly as extensively as this one, a skill nearly as complex as this one. Usually I have her play music of some time, set reminders, remember appointments, tell me jokes, rarely look on Amazon for a product, play relaxing sounds from nature, stuff like that. Because a lot of skills I've tried are just shallow pieces of barely programmed, and not worth the time or effort.

This one, I am impressed with the amount of work that must have gone into it, but I am less than impressed that repeating instructions isn't in there. I also wonder how poorly or well the game will go for people learning it. I found when asking the questions I did, that some of the time, you had to have a degree of knowing something about what you'd forgotten, that was higher than I thought you should have to know about what you'd forgotten. Like it felt like you had to know close to the answer to your question, in order to ask the right way/thing. I do get that in a game, you kind of have to have an idea of what part of the rules to go to find what you are looking for, and you have to kind of know hey I've forgotten something about the way drawing locomotives works, or drawing new tickets, or whatever.

I'm just saying there were a couple instances where it felt like I almost had to know the answer, in order to get the information out of her.

Still, after the first big hiccups, that took me probably half an hour to get through, I played the rest of the game in half an hour, and then scoring took ten minutes because I did half of it myself. With only one live player, it might take 5 minutes if you have a lot of tickets. I had 7 or 8 I think, and you have to report each.

I'd give them a c+ to hard b-. I do expect that ones I know better what to expect from her on it, that I won't be bumping up against issues as much, and I did like that in help mode (you have to say Alexa, help, if you want to ask a question) you could get out of it by saying Alexa, nevermind. Or, if she answers your question (she always asks if what she answered was helpful) and you answer yes to her was it helpful query, she goes back to game mode on her own. There was one instance where I said yes she was helpful, where she wasn't, because it was clear by that point I wasn't going to get what I was looking for and that was easier than saying no, and then saying Alexa, nevermind.

Other people might not be as generous with how they'd rate the skill or her performance doing the skill as high as a hard B-, but I've had enough experience with Alexa to know there were a lot of things going right.

Before I played, I wondered if she would have levels of difficulty that she could play on, easy, medium, hard but now I can see they have way too much work to do before they could even do that, even if they were inclined.

I had a good time though, despite the hiccups and bigger issues, so take that as you will. On a BGG scale of 1-10 of the experience, I'd probably give it a 6. Needs some work, but there's some good stuff there too.

I'd like to thank the people who worked on it because it was a really neat experience (despite the glitches) in my opinion.

It's funny, because just last week I was reading a short story anthology called Robot Uprisings (I highly recommend it, but the Velveteen story, and the last story, are quite grim.)

[Hey, Alexa, did I successfully fool the human populace into thinking you aren't . . AGGAEEGAJGOAG!]

- no humans were harmed in the production of this blog post.

Edit: Sara answers more questions here: Comment
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:12 am
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Board/Card Games and/in Therapy

Sara Bear
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Utah
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Yesterday, I played NMBR 9 in therapy with my therapist 1.5 times (we did a small puzzle between the two plays, so we ran out of time on the second play).

Let me back up and say, my therapist is a registered play therapist (and a registered play therapist supervisor), and that is one of the things she brings to the table as a therapist. Sand tray therapy is something we've done once, a directed one, and it was a really useful and interesting session. That's one kind of play therapy.

My daughter has been doing some play therapy with her therapist (my 20 year old daughter), and while I don't feel it's my place to say some of the things they've done, it sounds like there's a variety of things you can do, and it's sometimes up to the patient what you do.

You might wonder, how good of a use of time, was that playing a game and doing a puzzle, with my therapist? Especially since it did reduce the talking a bit, because of thinking about how I want to build in NMBR 9, though it's a pretty light game and I would say a pretty good fit for this kind of use in therapy . . . as well as slowing down the flow of my rambling, can also have a point, sometimes.

It was an interesting mix of being in the moment, present with what we were doing, enjoying playing (and yeah, I know it's a multiplayer solitaire game, but we were still doing it together), as well as thinking a bit about what I wanted to talk about, and saying it. The thing is, even though I got less talked about, that doesn't mean that therapy was less bang for the buck, as it were. There are aspects to the therapeutic relationship that encompass a variety of things, and types of interactions, and how you relate to the therapist, the person you are transferring a bunch of emotions, roles, and other things onto based on previous experiences in your life.

I found it very healing, and it makes me feel really happy to think about therapy today. That might sound silly to some, but I'm not going to go into some of the specific to me reasons why I feel this was a particularly beneficial thing to do in therapy right now; I know she knows, and that's enough for me. There's power in different ways of relating and interacting, and I'm tickled to have been able to bring one of my favorite things to do, into therapy.

We've also done some art therapy, and today as we were packing up the two players' worth of NMBR 9 pieces I'd brought, into the 4x6 Iris photo case I had it in in my purse, she noticed Silk Road Maker, the arcade version you can find in the files section there, she noticed the board and the magnetic pieces I'd made, and asked about them, specifically if I'd made this, and where one finds things like these.

I told her about it, and as I'm typing up this post, I'm thinking that a future art therapy session, a different kind than creating how I'm feeling onto a canvas, could be cutting out, etc. a simple pnp game. I wouldn't want it to be anything that talking about therapeutic stuff could make me mess up on; nothing complicated. Something like Orchard: A 9 card solitaire game, Ambagibus, Blorg in the Midwest, and similar. I could print Ambagibus on label paper, adhere to chipboard, then cut out.

Even if I don't do that, though, I can see bringing the simplest games, like Orchard and Ambagibus, to therapy. Timeline Inventions, not a pnp, might also be a good choice. What else do you guys think might be a good choice?

I first brought a couple games in my purse, to play while waiting through my daughter's appointment, since sometimes she has me in there for some of it, and sometimes not. This came in handy two weeks ago, when my daughter's therapist told me after their session was done (why couldn't she have told me at the beginning, and given me more time to adjust) that my therapist wasn't coming in, as several of her kids had just woken up with the flu that morning. My therapist had tried to call me, but her phone was having issues and mostly people she called couldn't hear her. She did try to call me herself, and that was the problem.

It was jarring to hear this just a minute or two before I expected my session to start, and while I wasn't mad at her, knowing stuff happens in life, I was still annoyed, because you get yourself all into what you are about to talk about, the emotions, the help processing or releasing or whatever, that you are going to get that day, and then bam. It's like a pressure cooker taken off the heat with no sink to cool it down in.

After a few minutes, I settled myself down, in part by pulling out Sprawlopolis and playing it on the couch next to me. There was plenty of seating for other patients, and just enough space for me to take my city in a a couple different directions. I posted about this play here: Item for Geeklist "Solitaire Games On Your Table - August 2019 "

The next week in therapy after that, which was a week ago, I showed her a couple of games I had in my purse, and talked a little about how I used it to reset my emotions and change my focus/perspective/feelings, after that abrupt news.

Today, well, yesterday, she referred to my new purse, with all the stuff I have in it in just the right way and place and type of thing for me for a variety of situations, she referred to it as a coping kit, or something like that. I like to see it as a support, to help me deal with a variety of situations. It won't be coming along on a quick trip to the store, but to doctor's visits, which are super frequent for me sometimes, it's a boon (and I even have some food in a stack of screw on mini tritan plastic jars, for taking with medications; stuff like granola, roasted chickpeas, and stuff, mostly fiber/protein stuff.), and to other things where I know I'm going to be there a good while. A memory foam pad on the shoulder really makes it feel much lighter than it is. It's a Lug brand purse, Jamboree, and I am loving the hidden insulated compartment on the side for a water bottle (or I can put the food thing in there if needed, and water bottle in a gusseted pocket made for that size and shape of thing, like an umbrella, on the inside, where I currently keep the stack of food.)

Well, my ramble is increasing, and I've covered most everything, though I expect I may have more feelings over time about this stuff, as is usual as I process things in the days post-therapy session.

I was delighted by today's session, and am enjoying the surprising strength of the feelings and healing and positive stuff created or supported by today's session.

Gaming in therapy, who'd have thunk?

Edit: Her reaction to the game, is something I meant to talk about! She requested we play again after we finished the small puzzle! She thought it was really cool, and as we played, she noted that it felt a bit like Tetris, which is one of her most favorite games of all time, and so before we were even done with our first play, she said she was going to get the game for herself! She liked the spatial aspect of play, really enjoying the game herself, mentioning an almost meditative, relaxing feel to it. (I might have to introduce her to Kodama: The Tree Spirits, in that case, though there's a bit more to it than NMBR 9). I also mentioned how great NMBR 9 is solo, and that the 1 Player Guild is the biggest guild on BGG (most people look at me weird when I mention solo play, so saying something to give them some context or scope for something that's a new, often weird idea to them, is something I've found useful).

She also said that this sort of game/activity/puzzly type thing, is a great thing for brain fog. It helps use the brain in ways that, apparently, if you don't, they lose . . . something, over time. I have heard contradictory stuff about this in the past, and the info that physical exercise is great for the brain, but she responded with that what she was telling me was a true thing too.

Although if I was having heavy brain fog, I might turn more to noodling around with Knot Dice, than really playing anything. On a previous occasion, I'd taken my double set of Knot Dice to show her, as she'd given me a Celtic knot illustration to trace as a soothing activity, and color if I wanted (I do adult coloring as stress relief/enjoyment.). She was interested in the Dice, but the fact I'd never sent the couple of defective ones off for the replacements Matthew, the designer, had offered me, was I think a turn off for her. I did emphasize not getting those replaced was on me. She still may get some of them for her play therapy rooms, I don't know! I think they'd be awesome there.
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Thu Sep 5, 2019 8:54 am
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Boardgames as Thermometers

Sara Bear
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Not literally, unless there's a boardgame with an app and sensor that'll do an infrared temperature reading or something, which there isn't, as far as I know.

Let me also say that these are just my own experiences, reactions, things I feel are useful for me in my specific, multiple chronic condition situation, and NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.

I would also like to say, and will be adding this to an updated profile, that, though I talk about my conditions a lot, mostly in reference to gaming, around the 'geek, I am not obsessed with my health issues and things, or even halfway as concerned about them near as much as the frequency I bring them up, may sound. I bring them up so often, because given the time, effort, creativity, money, sometimes hopes/dreams, and other things that go into creating, producing/publishing, marketing, customer service, designer or publisher presence on BGG and elsewhere, with games, that I need to make it VERY clear what frame of reference for my experience with games is, things that affect in varying (but often large, and sometimes HUGE) degree, my interaction with these games. I have some anxiety about my talking about it so often, but putting something like this paragraph in my profile might help that.

Despite my variety of conditions, disabilities, whatever, I feel there may be some use for others in what I report about my experiences. I'm not the only one who has rules issues, though some are exacerbated or caused by some of my issues. I'm not the only one who needs to weight setup//teardown balanced against the gameplay, and other things. I'm not the only one who would like games to be relatively easy to pick back up and easily refresh on, after various periods not playing it/playing other things. There are other people out there with conditions that fog up the brain, or make you really tired, or chronic pain, or whatnot. These are some of the main things I think people might have use for when I talk about games, what works in some of those ways in some of those situations? As unfortunately, I have rather a gamut of different and varying in degree, health conditions. That's life.

Okay, back to the games as thermometers. I am finding this a useful analogy, especially after my recent play of Card City XL. I suspected that sometimes, some levels and variants of playing this game, might be more than a certain level of fibromyalgia brain fog could handle. This recent play was the first time I experienced that.

From gallery of sarebear62


I set up the game to play solo, using Uberstax to hold all the cards needed, except the draw deck. I was going to try the Commercial victory for the first time, with the expectation that it wouldn't be that hard to get my mind around the strategies to do it, because you have to grow Commercial to a degree in every game, for money. I was also refreshing/relearning the Normal mode rules, the pollution and parks that Easy Mode doesn't have, that I'd only played twice this last spring.

From gallery of sarebear62


I think the reverse to a different number scheme on the income indicating chits, has a certain method to applying it as the income escalates, but it's a measure of my brain fog that I wasn't quite getting it, and applied it in two ways that I did get, this game. I didn't have (much) trouble understanding that income on Commercial is one for the first, two for the second and you add to the previous square's income, three for the third and add to the previous two, four four the fourth and add to the previous three, etc. But, I was finding that I was counting that through each time, and it felt slightly thinkier than it should. I threw the chits on, but (and I'm realizing now that you probably just need one chit of the proper total for the whole Commercial Zone, but I was stuck in wanting an indicator for each square, as well as the total; this is definitely a sign of mental slowing, mental molasses, that can occur with this brain fog. You have to methodically (to varying degrees) figure things out step by step. I wanted the chits to aid with that, though I didn't realize until after the game, a bit, that brain fog was a factor; because it interferes with your thinking, understanding, and cognitive functions, again, to varying degrees.) they didn't seem to give me the whole picture, so I also added a chit or two for the total for the zone.

Sorry for that huge parenthetical . . . still trying to figure out how to describe this, and my memory of the game is . . . memory while underneath the brain fog. I think that shows in the description of it.

From gallery of sarebear62


In playing the game, and considering the pollution mechanic (if you place any industry in the same row or column as another industry, you gain a pollution; there were only two in solo to gain, but I'm not entirely sure if that's correct), I felt I did okay with it at first but then it became clear I should have planned ahead better.

Overall, my ability to do big picture planning, was handicapped in this game. I realized that a bit after, and it mainly came out in trying to grow Commercial.

From gallery of sarebear62


I kept trying to grow it, and I kept having problems putting together, mentally, what I needed to do (early on, I mistook having multiple residences next to Commercial, for the actual rule of, you need multiple DIFFERENT Residential ZONES. I knew that, I have known that and cemented that in 10-12 previous games. It felt like . . . my ability to grow Commercial, and do the thinking required, was like a fritzy electrical connection. Sometimes there was a little juice, and sometimes there wasn't.

This feels really frustrating, especially when you don't realize you are having brain fog. When that's the case, you feel like maybe it was rather harder than you expected, and you feel a bit confused because you've had previous experience, not with the Commercial victory, not with your main focus on it, but you have grown Commerical before, sometimes to a pretty good (for a beginner) size.

So when the game was over, I felt frustrated, annoyed, and not happy, that trying this Commercial Victory hadn't felt anything close to what I'd thought. I felt decently about learning the normal mode stuff.

From gallery of sarebear62


However, within about ten minutes of finishing the game, it became more and more clear to me that I'd been experiencing a degree of fibro brain fog. The first thought that came to me then was, "I feel stupid!" (like, not being able to process stuff mentally that great, it's natural that that easily reads as feeling stupid). I quickly without much conscious direction, countered that with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) stuff that I've learned over the years, "No, you're not stupid, you have a medical condition that does this. It's not you, it's the fibro." I felt it was pretty clear (though I'm not saying I'm a genius or anything without it.

I then was still feeling the annoyance and frustration with the game, and had to think through for a few seconds what to say to that, but it came quickly, "It's not the game, it's the fibromyalgia. You suspected this would probably happen, especially with this game at some times, because spatial thinking is one of the first and easiest areas for me to notice the brain fog messing with, because I'm already aware of a little miswiring there." Further, as I realized the implications of, it's not the game, it's the illness, I thought, "The game is just helping you measure and map out, WHAT the fibro fog does to you. It helps you feel out the vague mental molasses, that can feel overwhelming and fearful, when it's a vaguely defined something, that's messing with your brain. That naturally sounds scary, put that way, but it's rather vague, and leaves a lot in the dark. You have a big fear of the unknown. This game today, and others at various times, are the instrument by which you are peering into the way fibro brain fog works, and affects you. Funnily enough, that doesn't scare you, it relieves anxiety, helps you see into what felt like a big scary thing, helps you measure it, SEE IT FOR WHAT IT IS, a medical condition, instead of some vague feeling."

That's key! I don't have to define every nook and cranny of it, but it's like the visible cold breath on a winter's day, or checking an unconscious person's breath with a mirror; seeing the breath is reassuring, it helps you gain information about their condition. It helps me feel like I can be more informed. It helps me feel I can do something, even if taking a measurement of my mental functioning, with a game, isn't SOLVING the brain fog, it's helping make me more aware of what it does, and relieve the anxiety that grows exponentially, when considering things in vague, less bounded terms. It helps me understand myself better, like now I understand why loading the dishwasher is often annoying, and sometimes frustrating. The brain fog messes with my spatial stuff, and there's waaay too many variables in the loading of the dishwasher when I'm in the midst of this brain fog. I can quit beating up on myself for that .. . ."

Well, that was a lot, but playing a GAME helped me have an insight about how this fibromyalgia affects me in everyday life, and my husband and daughter have more understanding there now, as do I. I suspect I'll figure more stuff out about myself that doesn't have to do with gaming, and it will help figure out how to deal with this, as games help me measure how it works and what it does in throwing a spanner or three into the engine of my brain.

That's probably WAY more than you ever wanted to know, and I don't know that I will always type up to this detail when having this kind of issue, but I may, sometimes.

The key CBT thing to counter the annoyance and frustration I'm getting rid of about playing this game that day, is that "being annoyed or frustrated with a thermometer, because you have a fever, is silly and illogical. It's like being annoyed with a stethoscope for hearing your heartbeat." Although some things, like a thermometer under the tongue, are uncomfortable. Or checking blood pressure on my batwing arms, that is painful. Seeing and feeling what the brain fog does is uncomfortable, but it quickly feels useful, helpful, decreases anxiety and blowing things out of proportion, it feels like it reinforces to me the come and go nature of it, so I can tell myself "you know you've handled this before, so this is just temporary, that's just the way this is; you are currently measure it when it's come rather than gone."

If it happens when learning a new game, then I will tell myself, "Put it down and either try something really light, like a game of Dream Home with my family, Herbaceous, or whatever, or switch to something else, like a book, movie, music, resting, folding laundry (which I often do to most of the above, audio books are great.)"

The annoyance with this game is being a little more persistant than with games I feel like I have gotten to know, because despite 12 or 13 games, I feel like I'm still exploring what it has to offer, like I need to try a couple more victory conditions combined with one or two different variants, to finish my first impressions of the game. However, I counter this, increasingly successfully with, "You already know you love the Happiness mode on easy level, it just fits you really well. It might not be the best after a certain level of brain fog, but you know the game is a keeper just from that way to play right there, and I'll probably love it on Normal mode too."

I'm surprised the cognitive messups, slowdowns, don't affect my gaming more than they do. I'm grateful, though (and aware, that they might affect it sometimes and I'm just not processing well enough to realize it, but usually, afterwards, something will FEEL off when recalling the game after the fog lifts, and then I'll realize it.), especially that this usually ebbs within 5 or ten minutes, though sometimes, as with this game, it'll stick around a bit longer. Less common, it'll stick around for significant chunks of the day, or longer, if i've pushed myself too hard, usually. I'm still figuring all that out.


So, Boardgames as thermometers, stethoscopes, and the like. It works for me. The CBT I do to counter the negative aspects, comes pretty readily, without much effort, which ease is a factor in how well this is working for me. I don't spend as much time thinking about it as this post sounds like, but I wanted to show you a bit of how this works, and it may give those regular readers (the few I MIGHT have!) a frame of reference for when I have issues in future. I'll link to this post in my profile, when I mention what I said near the beginning about why I think it's important to have a frame of reference when talking about the games people make.

I am going to try to get back on the CARD CITY XL horse within a couple weeks of the play in question; I think that will be a general rule with me when this stuff happens, but it depends on how I feel and other stuff.

I am grateful there are so many great games to play of so many different types, and really grateful this game has had the different modules tested on EASY, as well as the other levels, when it probably created a lot of work to do so, as this makes the game so accessible, I know I can play it in some way or another, below a certain threshold of brain fog. So many games, if they include multiple difficulties, the bulk of any additive content, is only for normal and up. At least, that's been my experience. So thank you very much!

I feel less like I'm in the unknown, and more like I can start navigating it a bit, after figuring out, sometimes with a game, how I'm doing. Then, if it sticks around, I can know better how to adapt what else I'm doing.
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Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:31 am
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Lap and Bed gaming with a science project board; and Knot Dice with a Themysciran twist

Sara Bear
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From gallery of sarebear62


Here's how I frequently game.

3'x2' before cutout. The far side science board flap can be flipped out to extend, the one without a hole in it. Arms up to show the board.

Snugged up to me with the cutout. Next one I make, I might try an inch, inch and a half shallower on the cutout. Because this one has a crease it's developed over almost 24 months of use, on the wrong flaps side up, a valley fold. So it works that it's a mountain crease on the right, big flat side up, it sits nice and sound and stuff, still, across the recliner arms. I am plus size, but it's still the recliner arms supporting it, unless I have a puffy blanket throw on my lap.

From gallery of sarebear62


It's a science project board. Being the parent of a single, special needs child, where these were some of the biggest challenges in school, I'd held onto a couple of them, thinking the big boards looked useful for something.

From gallery of sarebear62


Here it's not snugged up to me so I could get the cutout in the picture, but it's close to my view during play, you have seen plenty of those views in Sgoyt maybe not plenty, but some. Sometimes on the bed, an upcoming report will show my smaller board with no cutout, how it fits on a queen bed.

I've been thinking of applying felt or something else, in a way I can transfer to the next board. There's a little stain under Friday. Some games slip around more than others, and occasionally I need to shim under the front and left sides with a handtowel or something. I thought of adding a loose elastic belt going behind my back, but I haven't decided.

Edit: I should probably say the games I have fit on here. Imperial Settlers, it's a stretch. See I think I have Sgoyt entries. They were on my bed, I believe. Pandemic The Cure. Knot Dice, Timeline, Going Going Gone (not solo, three players), Oh my Goods, with Uberstax, Micropul, Friday later tonight, Lost Expotition. Maybe NOT Jellybeanstalk . . ., Dungeon Solitaire, Klondike/Patience, Lord of the Rings: Adventure Deck Game, The Architect (a pnp I like but would like some help resizing it slightly so it fits closer in penny sleeves; the type of game it is, this was something I figured it's a pnp, it can probably be tweaked to how I would prefer) . . . .I may have forgotten some.

Edit: Laser Maze (technically not a game, but close), Das Labyrinth des Pharo, Rolling America


The above was posted in a thread in the 1 player guild and I realized it would be great for blogging about gaming with disabilities, or pain or other issues.
---------

I game this way, because I have issues with leg pain and discomfort, since my knee replacements a decade ago (at 37). Arthritis, and now a nagging leg injury/weak leg, not sure what to call that one, for over a year now, has me often doing things for that, to. Or NOT doing things, depending on the aggravation. It's been a vicious cycle . . .

Anyway, I can game more comfortably and flexibly. It's probably time for me to play with some enhancements, like surface material, and maybe I could Velcro a shim pad onto the underside of the outer corners. Or if I made a sleeve to elastic on to the board, for a playing surface, pads could be added with snaps.

I hope this post is useful, and others with issues might get some ideas.

-------

My gallery shows a number of games on the board,

The solo aggregator shows many of them, starting in April 2016.

http://sgoyt.onesuponagame.com/detail/user/sarebear62

From gallery of sarebear62
From gallery of sarebear62


Imperial Settlers and Pandemic: The Cure, solo


----------

Below is one of my Sgoyt reports, using the board. Many of my reports use the tablet camera, though that's changing now that I found an easy bridge between the two. Occasionally a shot is more suited to the wider shots my tablet can take, though.

The following report doesn't test the size of the board, but rolling all those chunky dice and doing a photo shoot in your lap, manipulating things the way you want,the space came in handy for that. It's not my most recent report on the game, but it's the nicest photos. And St. Patrick's Day is coming up.


These dice are gorgeous! I got them approximately a year ago, but didn't play with them until Thanksgiving, because I couldn't bring myself to because several of them are flawed, two of them I feel definitely replaceable, at least if I'd dealt with it in a timely manner. Gouged, and stuff on the two, noticeably. The others are more middling light to light stuff on several more, and since I am ocd, I don't know if it's things most people would tolerate or not.

The guy was willing, he requested pictures when I emailed him a year ago, but as gorgeous as these dice are, I just couldn't bring myself to look at them again. I believe now that I have finally played with them, my OCD was getting in the way, for a YEAR, of these fun, beautiful dice. Yes, several still have issues, though I've sold someone else on them despite that. The gouges didn't roll up in our game, and I also explained how smaller indie game people, trying a new process as developing these dice seemed to be, there might be a few kinks to work out, but he was responsive to the issues, I just took too long on my end to deal with it.

You guys don't need to hear all that.

I've just played Kells. Inspired by Jessica's Calico Critters, I have my Wonder Women helping out.

From gallery of sarebear62



Perhaps too much, but these are really really hefty dice, strong enough my nephews were building little castles and things out of them on Thanksgiving, as I delightfully watched, as they've been shy to warm up to me. My niece who I've been slowly getting to open up, came over, too.

From gallery of sarebear62


Things didn't get off to a very good start, with four open ends left, oops.

I had a series of incomplete games, and then . . .

From gallery of sarebear62


One piece unused, even two, is okay, as long as it's closed.

Everyone celebrate!

From gallery of sarebear62


Even the mysterious, and not in focus, Wonder Pig! If you squint, you can see her bracelets. There's a story there, and if you know it without googling, raise your hand.

From gallery of sarebear62


More wins, especially plenty more losses. Way more losses, really. I need to learn not to leave too many open ends.

But I mostly took pictures of the couple of wins, which scored decently.

From gallery of sarebear62


My first win was thirteen, and the others were twelve. You take the longest side of your construct and subtract it from the number of dice, 18, or 36 is doubled, though you could probably do amounts in between. So a length of 6, subtracted from eighteen, is twelve. That's next to the highest level of score in the book. It's good, the next level up is excellent.

I really like this game for Kells because it's so simple, even if it seems to be really eato lose.

The dice are stunning, though I find you have to be energetically in rolling them if you want them to roll well on average, as they are big and square edges. This is so the pathy, knotwork designs will form a nice, visually pleasing path when laid out together, and I absolutely adore that, and all the effort it must have taken to tweak the designs to get them to align up so nicely at the edges, just know it's a what you get. The trade-off, because I feel they work well enough, is very minor. I am ocd, remember.

The sensory practicality, and visual nature of these, is very very satisfying, especially in the way those paths from. I have only played the Kells game as of yet, but will try other things.

The versatility, because there are other games and puzzles, with others potentially being developed, is neat. Especially for a double set, like I have.

There's no wasted space in the box, which I wish there was a touch more sometimes, as fitting them in, in the bag, takes a minute or two to get them lined up in the bag. The bag was a limited edition, very soft lovely thing, name embroidered ish on it.

From gallery of sarebear62


These dice draw oohs and ahhs from whoever see them, and kids, or any, will be your friend. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your personality. It's not guaranteed, but it will be a pretty big draw for many, based on my experience.

If you have a non gamer friend who likes Celtic stuff, even if they don't play it, they will fiddle with it making patterns or use as a desk toy. Maybe they will play the game. I had a stranger, a neighbor of my in laws, sit down and play it with me, and want to buy it for a friend of hers who loves Celtic stuff. I don't think this lady was a gamer, but because of her friend's interest, she sat down and played.

So it has had kind of a magical quality for me, for someone with anxiety disorders and stuff, I've pulled in people, and, because it's a game, it helps me be less self conscious.

Sorry for no thumbs up down, I'm really tired and need to post before this deletes . . .

+++++++++++

Current favorite holiday treat is a local Ice Cream brand, Red Button Creamery, they have Orange Stick Ice Cream. We always have Orange and raspberry chocolate covered sticks at Christmas, and this ice cream is so good.

External image


I really like the color the Wonder Women added, especially when all the green. Thanks for the inspiration, Jessica! I like to imagine they helped move the blocks around. They'd be blocks, to them. And light as a feather, with their strength, too.

Edit: My playing surface/situation, is sitting in a recliner, feet up, with one of my daughter's old science projects folded display boards, folded for stability, that we cut a encircle that is kind of flat in the middle, out of the long edge, on one of the folded edges, so it can really snug up against me in the recliner and rest on the arms of the chair, and even come slightly around my sides. This gives me a great amount of playing area, and I have played Imperial Settlers, though slightly cramped, Pandemic The Cure, and some other things on it. It's larger than the other one of these we still have around, which I also use sometimes, on the bed, when I want something without the cutout.

(The previous edit was part of the Sgoyt entry. Obviously I just explained the whole setup earlier in this post. -ed)
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Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:02 am
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