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May 2022 - "A fool must now and then be right by chance." -WC

Board Game: Dickory
Board Game: Tak
Board Game: Unpublished Prototype
Board Game: Amazons
Board Game: The Rose King
Board Game: Qin

 10   Dickory (22 all-time)
 8   Tak x2 (33 all-time)
 8   Bacon
 6   Amazons NEW!
 6   The Rose King (10 all-time)
 5   Qin x4 (5 all-time)

Springtime arriving meant more time outdoors and less time at the table. It was a busy month. I'm hoping for more regular gaming in June.

I added another Parlett game to the database - Arm's Length
I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I'm eager to do so.
Parlett wrote about it: "Much to my surprise, I've invented another card game. Whether or not it works remains to be seen, as I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find a fourth player, not to mention a third and a second. Let me know if you get a chance to try it out."
I love this. I love that he is carelessly (in the best way) making this available "whether it works or not". I love traditional card games and I love David Parlett.

This comment that I wrote regarding Strategies for Staying Sane on BGG is good enough that I'll share it more broadly here.

It's not too late to sign up for NaNoNeGaMo.

For those following my drama over the last few weeks, an update. I stayed strong in my rasolve to not pra-order any new games. I rasisted the strang temptation for NewRa.


Other Stuff

I don't think I finished a single book in May. I dipped into several, scattershot, nothing sustained. Mostly non-fiction and a few short stories. I haven't had any desire to read any novels. I need to either find something that's great, pulpy plot-driven fun or find something with lovely language to savor slowly. Maybe I need to re-read something. Anyhow, no significant book reading to share here.

If you want, you can stop reading now and read another John's great old blog post: "Doing" Vs. "Having Done"

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From gallery of trawlerman

Sentient was mostly good, though its ending is rushed, consequently unsatisfying.

I still have a lot of Pluto left to read, but I'm enjoying it. I'll keep reading.

I've also read the typical amount of random new-ish Marvel comics. Meh. Mehrvel.

I was recently reminded of The Holy Consumption. I thought I'd have to access it through the Wayback Machine. But, nope, the site is still there. And it's still worth checking out. I'm still fans of all of those guys. I'm trying really hard to not spend any money on anything right now, but I'm tempted to catch up with Nilsen's Tongues, both the five issues that have already been printed, and the subscription for the next five.

Scorsese wrote:
I mean, On the Waterfront [1954] was different, because that became, in terms of behaviour, the way I understood people around me. My world. But noir, the tone of it, and the locations, not simply The Naked City [Jules Dassin, 1948]. You go to Night and the City [Dassin, 1950], for example, it takes place in London, but that is the story: a man running in the middle of the night, in a double-breasted suit, owing money, to somebody. A loser. No happy ending in that one. This guy is doomed. And I saw it, I saw it happen. It’s all gone now, they’re all dead now, but it just was…When people say, ‘Oh, melodrama’ – well, yeah, but it was happening. It was the reality around us.
Chesterton wrote:
Some innocent educationalists and philanthropists (for even philanthropists can be innocent) have expressed a grave astonishment that the masses prefer shilling shockers to scientific treatises and melodramas to problem plays. The reason is very simple. The realistic story is certainly more artistic than the melodramatic story. If what you desire is deft handling, delicate proportions, a unit of artistic atmosphere, the realistic story has a full advantage over the melodrama. In everything that is light and bright and ornamental the realistic story has a full advantage over the melodrama. But, at least, the melodrama has one indisputable advantage over the realistic story. The melodrama is much more like life. It is much more like man, and especially the poor man.
I chose not to write anything last month about moving images. I'm overcompensating here this month by writing a little something about everything I watched. For whatever reason, it was this art form that got me the most excited in May.

The Pirate was the best new-to-me movie that I watched all month, maybe all year. Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. The writing is great. The direction is great. The acting is great. Judy Garland is better in this than anything else I've ever seen her in (and yes, she's consistently great). Read Josh Larsen's excellent review if you're at all interested.

I also recommend the new Potrykus short film that premiered on the Criterion Channel: Thing from the Factory by the Field. If you've got a Criterion subscription, go ahead and watch it without even reading the description if you can. I won't write anything about it except to say that it was a pleasant surprise and it's currently my favorite film of 2022. Potrykus is one of the few American film directors (the list is probably less than 20) that I'll watch every new film eagerly without any hesitation.

The next best thing I watched, also on Criterion (if you don't have a Criterion subscription, why not?) was Railway Station.

I didn't recall ever even hearing of Stick It, so when someone told me that it was the film they've re-watched the most in their life, I felt compelled to check it out. And it's a lot of fun. I don't know if I would have appreciated it in '06. I appreciate it now. It was written to be quoted. There are so many perfectly stupid lines, knowingly delivered. The message at the end of the film, basically that joy in play together (there is an argument for worker solidarity embedded here) is superior than biting and devouring one another, was a surprise and a delight as it played out. Surprisingly, I recommend this one.

I finished Outer Range, which disappointed me in all the ways I thought it would. It gestures at big mysteries, but fails in both directions. The attempts at answers are unsatisfying. This being so, the show fails to ever go full bonkers into the unknown.

Better Call Saul season 6 initially started slow (and maybe the distance between this season and last season had muted my interest), but it ramped up fast, with the midseason finale ending on a brutal and shocking scene that encapsulates everything I love about "the Breaking Bad universe," in which all actions have consequences, intended or unintended.

I've had superhero burnout and it seems that that's all that has been playing at the local cinema. I haven't even wanted to see Eggers' viking movie. But the Saver had Father Stu, which seemed like it might be a pleasant enough drama. It didn't quite work for me because Wahlberg always plays Stu as charming, when he is a washed-up boxer and when he becomes obese and disabled, all the time, charming. This was the fault of script and direction as much as Wahlberg being unable to dial back the charm. I think the film fails because Stu is never pathetic and disgusting, like all of us are so often, and I'm sure the real Stu was.

Another "religious" movie that didn't work for me was Resurrection from 1980, a film that has largely been forgotten, still remembered mostly for Ellen Burstyn's performance, which is fine. It's just barely competently made. It has weird tonal shifts and a central idea that is undercooked and underexplored. Because of a lack of serious following through on ideas (Sturgeon's "ask the next question"), its basic idea becomes implausible and absurd, making the whole thing implausible and absurd. I'm willing to "suspend disbelief" for all kinds of ridiculous reasons, but only if there is some sort of internal coherence in what is being presented.

I re-watched When Harry Met Sally and feel the way I've always felt about it. There are some good to great individual moments, but I don't have the patience for the basic romantic comedy structure in which two characters are presented as obviously meant for each other, then are presented for two hours as repeatedly making decisions, that sometimes seem artificially bad decisions, that delay their coming together until the end when the obvious is accepted and made manifest. I can only guess that many people love this structure, as it is an enduringly popular one, but it usually frustrates me more than it delights me.

And I watched some cartoons and pre-1900 Muybridge stuff that I hadn't seen in a long time.

I wrote above that I had superhero burnout. That's true. I also found myself at the end of the month sucked into a matinee of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, drawn in by Sam Raimi's involvement. After every superhero movie, I shake my head promising that it will be my last. It was no different here.
Scorsese wrote:
Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.
Overall, I hated DSitMoM. What's not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. But. There are a few moments in which Raimi did seem to exert control over the franchise committee, in which visually interesting scenes were allowed to play out, which is maybe the best I can hope for in a Marvel movie. Two notable sections were the music duel, with its lovely (and deeply silly) evocation of Fantasia, and the dead-soul-powered-zombie-Strange, with its mix of practical and digital effects that hearkened back to Drag Me to Hell Raimi, if not further back to Evil Dead glee in gore.

This is all you need.


You still want more?
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Tue May 31, 2022 8:40 pm
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April '22 - "in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain"

 10   Babylonia x4 (34 all-time)
 10   Dickory (21 all-time)
 10   Magic: The Gathering x8 (291 all-time)
 10   Scopa x2 (8 all-time)
 8   Awimbawé (2 all-time)
 8   Bridge City Poker (2 all-time)
 8   Chonkers x2 (16 all-time)

Lots of non-gaming "real-life" stuff going on in the month meant fewer gaming opportunities, but all of the games I did play were games I really enjoy, and it was a refreshing month of no new-to-me games. That's one of the goals, right? Stop exploring so much and just play the good games that are already known and loved.

The highlight of the month was getting back together with Ben for some in-person gaming. If you like Magic, and specifically if you enjoy drafting, I can't recommend enough the joys of live booster drafting.


I quit a couple more new 2021 books.

Loon sent me a copy of Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth, which I promptly read and meant to write something about, then never did. Sorry, Loon.

Otherwise, my reading has been pretty scattershot. Bits and pieces of books, essays and articles, returning to some short stories.

I can't find "Interurban Queen" anywhere online to share. :-(


Last Days of Disco
1883 (all of it)
Outer Range (first 4 eps)
Euphoria (first 4 eps)
Better Call Saul Season 6


Meh. I fail to be impressed.

I don't usually write detailed film (or novel/story) reviews/responses here because of BGG's RSP policy. That applies here, except that I guess I don't even want to write one or two short sentences about any of the above. Morality is a matter of tracking shots. Tracking shots are a matter of morality. Sometimes, often, discussing structure means discussing values. There are interesting conversations to be had. I don't want to have them on BGG.

I have definite strong opinions about all of the above. The bottom line is that I don't recommend any of it.


I'm even disappointed by new Better Call Saul episodes (I've only watched the first 2). I'm sad to write that.

I need to re-watch some old favorite sometime soon. I'm feeling the need for something perfect. Maybe a Roman Holiday re-watch is due.


Lots of great new "country" music. I only put country in quotes because the albums that I enjoyed wouldn't get played on country stations and they'd probably appeal most to individuals who say they "don't like country", which seems to me a crazy thing to say, most often due to an ignorance of the breadth of the tradition.

The new Orville Peck, Bronco, is among the best albums I've heard all year. Also very good are Paul Cauthen's Country Coming Down, Molly Tuttle's Crooked Tree, and The Waymore's Stone Sessions. More indie folk-rock, the new River Whyless album, Monoflora, was also enjoyable.


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Mon May 2, 2022 5:27 pm
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Jan '22 Review - "Somewhere between 40 and death." -BH

Knowing that I won't be playing any games this evening, I wrote this month-in-review post for the monthly Deep Cuts thread, but since that hasn't been posted yet, I figured maybe I'd get back in the habit of monthly review blog posts. Here goes...

 10   Chess x2 (69 all-time)
 10   Dickory x3 (14 all-time)
 10   Go x2 (14 all-time)
 10   Scopa x4 (6 all-time)
 8   Chonkers (12 all-time)
 8   Crescendo NEW!
 8   Poker (2 all-time)
 8   Push It x3 (24 all-time)
 8   Tak x3 (31 all-time)
 8   Tuhao x3 NEW!
 7   Copyright x2 NEW!
 7   Jumping Jacks NEW!
 7   Memoir '44 x2 (6 all-time)
 7   Perudo (15 all-time)
 7   Qwixx (6 all-time)
 7   Würfel Poker x3 (5 all-time)
 7   Xiangqi x2 (4 all-time)
 7   ヒーフー!! (Hii Fuu!!) NEW!
 6   Backgammon NEW!
 6   Pig NEW!
 6   Seven Spades NEW!
 5   Can't Stop (8 all-time)
 5   Patience (6 all-time)
 5   Ricochet x3 NEW!
 5   Same Difference NEW!
 5   TOPPEN x3 NEW!
 5   War NEW!
 N/A   Nein Nimmt! x4 (8 all-time)

Gaming was good this month. I probably still played too many new-to-me games, but at least there was a balance of old favorites played. The best new-to-me games were Texas Hold'Em, Crescendo, and Tuhao (all of which I've written about on my 2022 new-to-me list). Everyone has heard of the first. The latter two are fairly deep cuts, with me being the only person (who didn't design the game) to log plays of either one. Crescendo was very good at 4 and might be even better at 3. Tuhao is a brisk little 2-player climbing game which gives a nice climbing fix in a super-short playtime.

I've already given up on my plans to read ALL OF THE 2021 BOOKS. I don't know what I was thinking. I enjoyed Harlem Shuffle, then I enjoyed Crossroads, and I thought everything was going to be great, then I started Far From the Light of Heaven and gave up on it (I couldn't handle the present tense narration), followed by Razorblade Tears, which I gave up on (such ugly prose, preachy, and cliched), followed by The Lincoln Highway, which I gave up on (I couldn't tolerate the switches between third person and first person narration). Maybe I'll try a few more, but... I don't know. It's starting to seem like a waste of time.

One joy of the past month has been following along (and reading ahead) with RavingLoon's "100 greatest comic storylines of all time" Challenge, which has spurred me on to re-reading a few old favorites and trying to read bad superhero arcs that somehow made it on this popular "best" list.

I wasn't watching much this past month, but there were a few gems. Probably the best film I saw all month was a '43 screwball comedy, The More the Merrier, starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, and (the real star) Charles Coburn. "Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!" Highly recommended. An episode of The Muppet Show starring Milton Berle was also a delight, which led to me watching Berle clips on YouTube, including a clip of Bob Hope as a guest on the Berle Show, which then led my 7yo son to say to his mother, "I know how old you are: between 40 and dead!", which I thought was done with great delivery, truly funny, but his mother didn't appreciate the "joke".
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Mon Jan 31, 2022 3:10 pm
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August '21 - "Will ye submit your necks, and chuse to bend / The supple knee? ye will not, if I trust / To know ye right, or if ye know your selves / Natives and Sons of Heav'n possest before / By none, and if not equal all, yet free, / Equally free;" -JM

Board Game: Botticelli and Beyond: Over 100 of the World's Best Word Games
Board Game: Chess
Board Game: Haggis
Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons
Board Game: Nakanuki Paradise
Board Game: Penguin Pile-Up
Board Game: Reign of Witches
Board Game: Rook
Board Game: Schotten Totten
Board Game: What the Heck?
Board Game: Carla Cat
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Dominoes
Board Game: Regicide
Board Game: The Toledo War
Board Game: A Fake Artist Goes to New York
Board Game: Boxes
Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure
Board Game: Earthshine
Board Game: Jenga
Board Game: Office Boy
Board Game: Round the World with Nellie Bly
Board Game: The Game of District Messenger Boy
Board Game: The Game of the North Pole
Board Game: Tic-Tac-Toe

 10   What Sort of a Game am I? NEW!
 10   Chess x6 (64 all-time)
 9   Haggis (5 all-time)
 7   KeyForge: Call of the Archons (19 all-time)
 7   Nakanuki Paradise x3 NEW!
 7   Penguin Pile-Up x3 (5 all-time)
 7   Reign of Witches x3 (4 all-time)
 7   Rook x3 NEW!
 7   Schotten Totten x2 (15 all-time)
 7   What the Heck? x3 NEW!
 6   Carla Cat x2 (5 all-time)
 6   Clear the Dungeon x5 NEW!
 6   Dominoes x2 NEW!
 6   Regicide x2 NEW!
 6   The Toledo War x2 NEW!
 5   A Fake Artist Goes to New York x5 NEW!
 5   Boxes
 5   Deep Sea Adventure (2 all-time)
 5   Earthshine (5 all-time)
 5   Jenga (2 all-time)
 5   Office Boy NEW!
 5   Round the World with Nellie Bly NEW!
 5   The Game of District Messenger Boy NEW!
 5   The Game of the North Pole x2 NEW!
 5   Tic-Tac-Toe x11 (18 all-time)

I'm posting this before August is even over. What is happening? I've been in a reflective mood and it's highly unlikely that I'll play anything else this evening. So let's be done with August already.

Gaming was split up between family gaming, "last days of Jake" gaming, and rare solo gaming.

Family Gaming

I won't spend too much time defending Tic-Tac-Toe or moralistic 19th Century board gaming. They're both pretty bad.

But the 19th c. games, with their dice-driven determinism get pretty silly (and therefore fun for my purposes). It is strange to think that the entire 19th century "board game industrial complex" was attempting to program children to think that their decisions did not matter, to accept their lot in life, and maybe one of them will see some blind luck to get them to the top of the office.

And Tic-Tac-Toe? It's a kids' game. As a paper-and-pencil kids' game, teaching really basic decisions, positioning, blocking, it is absolutely fine at what it is.

Rook was probably the new-to-me game of the month. I spent a pleasant afternoon with three of the girls playing the 2v2 team game. We played three times in a row, switching partners each time.

The boys (9yo and 7yo) have been playing a lot of Chess lately. In order to encourage them to keep playing and keep getting better, I've told them both that I'll pay them $100 whenever they beat me for the first time. I felt pretty confident that this would be years away. There was one night this month that came close. It was late in the evening, I had had a few beers, and I was in my bedroom getting changed for bed when my older son came in and asked if I wanted to play Chess with him. I made the mistake of saying "sure". He played White. I played Black. I forget how he opened, but he basically goaded me into bringing my Queen out early, which is rarely a good idea unless you know all the tricks, and which I shouldn't have done. I put pressure on his castled king and thought I'd get an early checkmate. At some point, I seriously blundered, losing a rook, then immediately losing another piece, all for no good reason (well, see my excuse above). I just wasn't paying attention to the game like $100 was on the line while my son was making no mistakes at all, playing a great game of which I was proud of. I started sweating, thinking that I was going to lose this game, happy to be beat by my son, but not thinking it would come this soon. Long story short, he was in a winning situation when he forget about that pressure I had on his king and moved the one piece he shouldn't have moved. I checkmated his king, breathed a long sigh of relief, then said "goodnight".

What the Heck? (or, as my 17yo calls it, WHAT THE HECK ABOUT YOU!?!) and Nakanuki Paradise (played to the rhythm of Hey Nakanuki) instantly became favorites. Everyone else enjoyed A Fake Artist Goes to New York more than I did (I had fun, but meh, I'm a party pooper). Trying to give Citadels another chance only confirmed for me that I don't quite like it (I will try a few more times now that I've purchased it), with my chief complaint just being that it seems to play longer than it should.

I had great fun playing What Sort of a Game am I? while hiking in the woods with my family. It's the sort of thing that BGG has no place for and it's almost ridiculous (it is ridiculous) to log a session of it, which is why I went ahead and did so.

Last Days of Jake Gaming

As regular readers know, I had begun in-person local gaming with Ben at Ben's lovely new house near my office. We had great sessions of Tak and 2p Babylonia. I remembered that Ben had met and liked Jake at a Saturday game day, so (almost-)weekly 2p gaming became (almost-)weekly 3p gaming, knowing that Jake would inevitably leave us at some point. That time has finally come.

Ben's schedule changed during the month so Jake and I had one 1v1 session and the only night the three of us got together involved two push-your-luck games and more pleasant chatting than pleasant gaming.

My ratings are always volatile. It's probably generally true that my ratings best reflect whoever I last played a game with. These sessions with Jake had my ratings dropping and raising like a Reiner Knizia game about money.

Haggis 9 -> 9
Stable. If anything, I think that I continue to like Haggis more and more. It's almost a 10 for me (and probably is even if I won't admit it yet). Jake liked the game but was turned off by the wagering, which I may have been house ruling anyway? I was playing that bets paid double if won or paid out the bet value to opponent if lost. The standard Haggis rules are that bets pay out their value either way. I think that the doubling comes from Sean's newer 3/4/5/6 player Haggis rules. I like the dramatic swinginess that comes from the doubling so I always play with it now. I think Jake likes the game but has decided to go in the other direction when he plays in the future, not having any bets at all!

Keyforge 8 -> 7
Keyforge may have even briefly been a 9 at some point. I still think it's a fun game, but it can feel like you're just riding out what your deck is doing to you instead of making more meaningful choices. Not that there aren't more meaningful choices. I still think that you can make better or worse choices depending on which deck you're using and how the cards are distributed and drawn each game, but it is a light game. And for a light game, it can sometimes go on a bit longer than it should. It's also annoying to look up and remember all of the keywords after not having played for a year.

Reign of Witches 7 -> 7
The Toledo War New = 6

RoW is still marvelous in how much game it packs into so few cards.

Schotten Totten 9 -> 7
We played Schotten Totten twice. After the first play, Jake was grumbling (in a cheerful way) about the game mostly being luck. Having felt that I had genuinely outplayed him that match, I insisted on a 2nd play to demonstrate that skill is more important than luck in the game. That second game, I was able to draw into straight flushes repeatedly, drawing exactly the perfect card each turn. This incredible run of luck was both amusing and utterly destroyed my confidence that skill mattered more than luck in this game. So it goes.

Deep Sea Adventure 4 -> 5
Earthshine 7 -> 5
My rating of DSA was entirely unfair. I know now after another play that the game is not a 4. It's definitely a 5.
After we played DSA, I busted out Earthshine to prove that it was the superior push-your-luck game. It was fine. The entire gaming session really just cemented for me the understanding that push-your-luck in most of its formats is something that I'll tolerate and sometimes enjoy (we laughed plenty), but it's just not for me.

Bonus: Solo Gaming!
proving that it is lawful, and hath been held so through the ages, for any, who has the Power, to call to account a Tyrant, or wicked King, and after due conviction, to depose, and put him to death;

I was tempted to write up a full review of Regicide. The problem is that I can't work myself up to giving it more than a shrug. I'm kinda baffled as to why this game right now is getting all the attention that it is getting (except that it's fun to be part of the conversation, which is inevitably why I've now played it and am writing anything at all about it).

If you want good reviews with fine rules overviews, check out Demetri's take or Sam's take on the game. See also Toucana's review.

I've only played twice. Both solo games. The first time I made it to the first king. The second game I made it to the last queen. The game is hard. I think stupidly hard, in that a player can make the best decisions and still lose because of the way that the cards flip. This is fine, acceptable, for a solitaire game to pass the time, but that's all this game is, a solitaire game to pass the time. As such, I don't think it rivals the best solitaire games. Honestly, I'd rather play Klondike.

I don't even think that Regicide is the best solitaire game with a theme of killing bad court cards. I'd rather play Clear the Dungeon, which I did, several times this month. Clear the Dungeon is the better solitaire game (to my tastes) because it actually feels like a classic solitaire game. And to be totally fair to Regicide, this is probably because it was designed as a co-op game and not as a solitaire game. Maybe it's better in that multiplayer co-op mode. I'll never know. From what I've read, it's probably actually a 2p game, with the designers admitting that good play will result in something like a 50% win ratio with 2 players and much less than that in a 4p game. I haven't seen any stats on the solo game. I can only say anecdotally that reading through the forums and comments seems to show a 0% win ratio.

Enough about Regicide. Here's more about Clear the Dungeon.
A-10=1-10, J=11, Q=12, K=13, Jokers=wild
Separate out the court cards. Shuffle them and deal them out into four piles of three cards each, top card face-up.
Draw three number cards at a time. Play number cards to the court cards. The first two cards on a stack must total higher than the court card value. The third card can be any value, but must match the suit of the court card being attacked. Once these criteria are satisfied, clear that court card and flip up the next one. If you ever have a card in hand that you can't use or don't want to use, discard it. After you've played/discarded all three cards, draw three more cards.

Clear the Dungeon is simpler and has that "classic solitaire" feel. It's also pretty tough. Out of 5 plays, I won once. That's a 20% success ratio.

Eh, whatever. The two are doing different things in a similar space. I'm being that grumpy guy shouting, "Why is everyone playing THAT game when I think that they should be playing THIS game." This shouting, this grumpiness, is probably not going to win anyone over. And the observant reader has already noticed that I rate both games a '6', indicating that I think they're both good games that I'd be happy to play when I'm in the mood, if and when the mood ever strikes.

I know that there's no real competition between these games. There isn't and there doesn't need to be. I just happened to stumble onto both of them in the same month so can't help but compare them.

It's striking to me that one is blowing up and hitting the big time while the other game with a nearly identical theme has been ignored. It's hard not to notice that there's some serious Influencers Influencing going on here. There is a weird wind of hypegeist happening. (Note: I am NOT saying that opinions/reactions have been dishonest or disingenuous).

There's also the Industrial Effect. Regicide has a commercial version, which is driving interest, which is driving sales, as evidenced by the "where can I buy a copy?" threads popping up now, despite that the game plays just the same with that deck of cards you already have in your closet. I played with a cheap bridge deck and had fun. But Regicide has official artwork and an official production. It's a Real Game.




Other Stuff

-I've been reading Orwell's 1984 for the first time. Yes, the first time.
-I finally read Jacques Ellul's Prayer and Modern Man. Highly recommended, but really only if that title calls out to you. If not, it's not for you. I'm planning on digging into some of Ellul's tech (technique) criticism in the next few months.
-David Parlett's Botticelli and Beyond is excellent. The first "game" in the book is "Knock Knock Jokes". Maybe our view of games here on BGG is weak and anemic? Maybe we need more robust playfulness? The answer is a resounding yes and yes. Of course then I start thinking that I need to get off of BGG. Do I need to be on BGG reading threads arguing about what exactly a "classic euro" is when I could just tell jokes with my loved ones? Sigh. I'm still here, not going anywhere, but it's always something I think about.
-All this Regicide talk has had me pulling Milton off the shelf; I had the great pleasure of taking a Milton course (and an English Lit I course) with Milton scholar James H. Sims way back in '97. It remains one of the most satisfying courses I've ever taken. I've been a Milton fan (nothing close to a scholar) ever since.

-I discovered and have been enjoying the Folk on Foot podcast.
-Donda finally dropped so that's probably all I'll listen to for the next month.

-It was fun to watch Destry Rides Again with the kids.
-His Kind of Woman is an example of the type of smart script that is the template for ever meandering crime movie that is more about atmosphere and character than plot. I could watch Mitchum and Wyman (and Price!) all day.
-re-watching Johnny Guitar was a joy, and chatting about it with Ben and Jake was fun.
-I finally watched Herzog eat his shoe.
-I'm glad that Steve Gutenberg isn't in any movies any longer.
-I really, really enjoyed Machine Gun McCain. It's hard to go wrong with Cassavetes, Falk, Rowlands, but Falk and Cassavetes are never in the same frame, which would be a misstep except that they're supposed to be ex-friends in this one and maybe that wouldn't be believable; and the few minutes of Cassavetes-Rowlands interaction is pure gold. And even if it didn't have three of my favorite American actors of last century, I think I'm predisposed to enjoy any film that begins or ends with a song that explicitly names and narrates the life of the film's protagonist.

How's that for a wall of text? No images besides those squares at the top. I think I'm trying to be aggressively unwelcoming right now. Who bothers to read long rambles/rants?

Here's an image:
External image

Werner Herzog wrote:
Give us adequate images. We, we lack adequate images, our civilization doesn't have adequate images. And I think our civilization is doomed, is gonna die out like dinosaurs if it does not develop an adequate language or adequate images.
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Tue Aug 31, 2021 12:52 pm
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July '21 - "And probed till he has felt the core, where, packed / In pulpy folds, resides the ironic ill." -TEB

Board Game: Cupid: Tricks & Tactics
Board Game: Maskmen
Board Game: Memoir '44
Board Game: Northern Pacific
Board Game: Penguin Pile-Up
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
Board Game: Hula Hippos
Board Game: Money!
Board Game: Mr. Face
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Spot it!
Board Game: Bouncers

 8   CUPID: Tricks & Tactics x2 NEW!
 7   Maskmen (3 all-time)
 7   Memoir '44 (4 all-time)
 7   Northern Pacific (10 all-time)
 7   Penguin Pile-Up (2 all-time)
 7   Stephenson's Rocket (2 all-time)
 6   Bonanza NEW!
 6   Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar NEW!
 6   Hula Hippos (17 all-time)
 6   Money! (2 all-time)
 6   Mr. Face NEW!
 6   Nugget x2 NEW!
 6   Portland x2 NEW!
 6   Sacramento x2 NEW!
 5   Spot it! (2 all-time)
 4   Bouncers NEW!

I've continued to regularly update my 2021 new-to-me geeklist so it seems silly to repeat all of that here. If you're interested, go check out that list. I praise CUPID, rant about BGG database issues, and reluctantly admit that I dislike a Parlett game.

The best "old-to-me" gaming was probably the session of Memoir '44 with my son. Right now, his only strategy is to throw everything he can at me regardless of terrain or odds, hoping that the dice will bless his recklessness. It hasn't worked out for him so far.


Other Stuff

I'm done with Wheel of Time. Whew. There are genuinely good moments in the series, but the entire final book and the concluding moments were less than satisfying.

I listened/re-listned to a lot of stuff from the 20s/30s/40s. It's more than a little bit sad to me that so much good music is hidden away or forgotten, often on purpose, because there is no longer any money in it (if there ever was). Re-listened to some 2018 stuff for the guild. The usual rotation of Fahey, Molina, post-punk, and ambient/drone.

No stand-up this month. Huh. I did revisit early 00s Fensler videos. Porkchop sandwiches.

I watched an episode of The Twilight Zone with the kids. "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" is probably my favorite thing that Dan Duryea ever did, and he had a lot of good roles, for both film and television.

It is maybe true that I spent too much money at this year's B&N Criterion 50% off sale. I haven't binge-spent like this on discs in quite a while. Still, I'm pleased with what I purchased.

The best new-to-me film of the month was The Bride Came C.O.D., a screwball comedy from '41 starring James Cagney and Bette Davis. There's nothing new here (it's basically a not-quite-as-good remake of It Happened One Night), but the chemistry is strong and most of the jokes/gags land.

I was frustrated by The Green Knight, which is sometimes lovely and sometimes fascinating, but always wrong in its choices. It is an adaptation of Gawain, but it is not a faithful one. It's a subtle deconstruction of the story, which is fine, but also not at all fine, sitting poorly with me.

Here's what I quickly wrote after getting home:
(warning: minor spoilers for a new film and a nearly 700-year-old story)

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Last Temptation of Gawain? Lowery channeling Kazantzakis/Schrader/Scorsese more than the Pearl poet?

This was the first new film I've seen in a theater since March 2020. I was expecting to love it. I hated it.

I've read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight at least a half dozen times throughout my life. This isn't it.

Of note:
In the source material, Gawain is good but ultimately fails and is shown mercy.
In this adaptation, Gawain is bad (at least a bit of a scoundrel) but ultimately succeeds (after his dream temptation) and needs no mercy.

It's possible that I would have been kinder to this if I hadn't been as familiar with the source material. The message of the film, in the end, is to accept painful truth and honor over survival. I'm down with that.


Gaming Stuff Outside of the Scope of BGG
I used to do this bit where I recommended game-related stuff that I had found. I should go through my old posts and see what I called it.

-I've been subscribed to Mark Ball's Riffle Shuffle & Roll channel for over a year and have enjoyed it, but not watched every episode. For learning game rules, I have preferred Gather Together Games' no-nonsense no-fluff videos. Anyhow, I've become a big fan of Mark after learning and enjoying CUPID, so I've gone back and watched more of his videos. This one in particular is so much fun to watch. His wife has such an infectious smile as she is somehow both incredibly supportive and just barely shy of full-on mocking any seriousness devoted to a channel about playing games. Abigail often suffers through me watching game rules videos. This one made her laugh out loud several times. I think she enjoyed it more than I did, which has never happened before.

-I subscribe to Five Games for Doomsday, but I rarely listen to it unless something about the guest intrigues me or the games tagged resonate with me. In the most recent episode, both grabbed my attention. Bruno Cathala is maybe my most respected living game designer that I never quite click with. This interview is fantastic, and not only because he praises Knizia and recommends that all designers pay more attention to abstract games.
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Sun Aug 1, 2021 12:48 pm
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May '21 - "By blood we live, the hot, the cold / To ravage and redeem the world:" GH

Board Game: Babylonia
Board Game: Tak
Board Game: Kluster
Board Game: Mini Kubb
Board Game: Cavum
Board Game: Lucky Little Luxembourg
Board Game: Memoir '44
Board Game: Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition
Board Game: Würfel Poker
Board Game: Yellow & Yangtze

 10   Babylonia x3 (24 all-time)
 8   Tak x6 (28 all-time)
 7   Kluster x2 NEW!
 7   Mini Kubb NEW!
 6   Cavum NEW!
 6   Lucky Little Luxembourg NEW!
 6   Memoir '44 (3 all-time)
 6   Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition NEW!
 6   Würfel Poker x2 NEW!
 6   Yellow & Yangtze NEW!

I'm still in something of a gaming slump.

But I'm now at 24 Babylonia plays, which is almost 1/4 of the way to 100. It'll take a long while because I'm not focusing on it, but 100+ plays honestly feels like an effortless thing to achieve..

My plays of Tak with my friend Ben were the highlight of my month (my rating should go up), reminding me again that I enjoy simplicity. The other highlights were playing Memoir '44 with my son and Railroad Ink with Abigail, even though I could take or leave either one of those games.

I didn't actually play Mini Kubb. I decided to start tracking lawn game plays this year because I'm disappointed that there is no LawnGameGeek. Kubb is always great fun.

Kluster was my best impulse buy in a long while. I only played it twice, but then it saw a ton of play in the house by the kids, especially when one of their uncles was in town.

I think that part of my 'slump' is feeling again the weight of the Unplayed and Unread, and the Already-Played&Read-Unwanted. I made a lot of progress in May, giving away something like 80 books and moving dozens more games to the Departing Bench (the place things go before they leave the house), but that progress is hard to process and feel great about when there are still stacks and boxes of books (and games) in the basement. I wish I had the strength to just drop them all off at the thrift store. The hardest part of getting rid of games (books, anything) is the desire to know that they've gone to a good home. But getting good games to good homes requires time and effort. Giving away games requires time and effort. Selling games requires time and effort. The trap that I've built for myself is that I'm too often 'managing' the stuff I own instead of 'enjoying' the stuff I own. I'm feeling alright, though, because I've been taking serious, tangible steps every month now. Less shuffling around of stuff, more serious purging.

My June gaming goals are: getting in some gaming with Jake before he leaves the area, playing more Tak, and re-establishing weekly gaming with the family, which somehow just stopped earlier this year amidst busyness and then never resumed. I'll also add the easily accomplished goal of buying no new games during the month. Nope. Not even one. Not gonna do it.


Other Stuff
Outside of gaming, I've been pretty satisfied.

I finished Wheel of Time book 11, Knife of Dreams, which was Robert Jordan's last book before he died. 10 was the lowest point of the series, so it was satisfying to see Jordan pull off a tidy finish to many of the sprawling threads that he had let loose, setting everything up for The End (which of course is still three fat books away). I'm glad that my final taste of Jordan was a positive one, because when Book 12 starts, it's immediately clear how much of a better writer Sanderson is than Jordan. But instead of despising Jordan, I loved him more because it was obvious that Sanderson loved him, taking the best parts of Jordan's writing (worldbuilding, the repeated minutiae of character tics and interpersonal relationships, sometimes flat, sometimes real) and celebrating Jordan's style, taking it up and breathing new life into it. I'm about 1/4 through Book 12. I hope that this freshness continues unabated through the rest of the series.

Even though I've been reading bloated fantasy novels, I still care about great literature. LaffCon5 is happening online this year if any of you want to join in on an event celebrating my favorite author of the 20th Century:

I was listening to a large variety of music, but got to 2010 in the music guild at the same time that I discovered an old CD copy of Glen Galaxy's 2011 album Thankyou in my car trunk, which I've been listening to on repeat in the car ever since. Also re-listening to a lot of Fahey (mostly The Voice of the Turtle), new Oldham stuff, old Molina stuff, and the entirety of 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' for the first time ever. And I just last week discovered Martha Redbone's 2012 William Blake album, Garden of Love, which is great. And I've been falling asleep to ambient music from a Spotify playlist titled Floating Through Space, which I've found wreaks havoc on the AI's 'Release Radar' and 'Discover Weekly' recommendation formulas. The SpotBot thinks I'm a genuine spacebient connoisseur.

I didn't watch any new comedy specials, but I re-listened to Paul F. Tompkins' Freak Wharf, Neil Hamburger's Hot February Night, and Richard Pryor's 'Craps' (After Hours).

I watched a new episode of The Simpsons for the first time in a couple of years. It was the recent Morrissey episode, which started pleasant and playful and ended a bit too snarky and cruel for my tastes (yes, I'm aware that many think that contemporary Morrissey is too snarky and cruel himself. I get it, but I don't think that meanness begetting meanness does anyone any good).

I watched about half a dozen feature films during the month. Godard's Sauve qui peut (la vie) and Wender's Paris, Texas were the best new-to-me, both exploring the terror of communicating with loved ones or, really, anyone at all.

I've been disgusted by the state (non-state) of current 'cinema' (where streaming services give you the option to watch at 2x speed because they know their product is garbage, not worth your time). It was absolutely refreshing to watch personal, meaningful films by master filmmakers, who understand the language of motion pictures and manifest their ideas so skillfully in that language.

External image

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'On Another's Sorrow'
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Tue Jun 1, 2021 11:32 pm
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April '20 - "and the youths marvelled to behold the mighty fleece, which gleamed like the lightning of Zeus."

Board Game: Air, Land, & Sea
Board Game: Hierarchy
Board Game: Yōkaï no Mori
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Chartae
Board Game: Condottiere
Board Game: Elements
Board Game: Greedy Kingdoms
Board Game: Heul doch! Mau Mau
Board Game: Push It
Board Game: Schotten Totten
Board Game: Scopa
Board Game: Chain Mail: Adventures of Earthshine
Board Game: The Mind
Board Game: UNO
Board Game: Unpublished Prototype
Board Game: Onitama
Board Game: Lockpicks
Board Game: Rummy

 8   Air, Land & Sea (3 all-time)
 8   Hierarchy x10 NEW!
 8   Yōkaï no Mori x2 (21 all-time)
 7   Adder x3 NEW!
 7   Chartae x3 (13 all-time)
 7   Condottiere x2 (3 all-time)
 7   Elements x4 (6 all-time)
 7   Greedy Kingdoms x2 NEW!
 7   Heul doch! Mau Mau x5 NEW!
 7   Push It x3 (20 all-time)
 7   Schotten Totten x4 (6 all-time)
 7   Scopa x2 NEW!
 6   Chain Mail NEW!
 6   The Mind (13 all-time)
 6   UNO x3 (9 all-time)
 6   Unpublished Prototype x11 (18 all-time)
(This is for 3 different Button Shy games that don't have BGG entries yet: Cityline x2, EarthShine x4, Royale x5)
 5   Onitama (8 all-time)
 4   Lockpicks NEW!
 4   Rummy x2 NEW!

61 plays. Almost entirely lighter family stuff.


Hierarchy is my new-to-me Game of the Month. I played it ten times in one day. That was only yesterday. I expect it to get more plays immediately, then it will probably become a game that gets sporadic plays, but when it does, it will always be 'best of 5' or 'best of 7' matches. The heart of the game is 14 double-sided cards, 7 dealt to each player. You take turns playing a card to the center in ascending numerical order, subject to changes in rules modified by text on the cards played. Each hand dealt feels like a fresh new puzzle. And what's significant is that when dealt what feels like a bad hand, the game is still fun because then it becomes a struggle to make that hand work. Whether it does or not, the game is over in a flash, so instead of getting worked up about a bum hand, it's fun to just deal out another immediately. I didn't time how long our games were lasting, but I'd guess that each play was less than 10 minutes, most less than 5 minutes. The game is definitely an odd duck, a perfect information "abstract" "micro" card game. It's not for everyone, for sure, but it's definitely for me.

I wrote about Adder: Realtime Chase System in my recent Button Shy post. I was planning on writing up a new post about the January and February packages that have since arrived (including Hierarchy praised above). Maybe I still will. I haven't played Adder since that initial day of play, but I have great, fond memories of it and would be happy to pull it out again right now. One common refrain in my praise for Button Shy is that they make games that make me smile, make me laugh, make memories.

Greedy Kingdoms and Heul doch! Mau Mau were both acquired in trades, influenced by comments that hanibalicious and others have made 'round the 'geek. I don't know that I really care about Greedy Kingdoms, though I did have fun teaching it to two of my kids. It's pretty much a basic "resource conversion engine building" game with a neat bluffing attack mechanism that brings it into a sort of 2-player duel feel without quite as much direct nastiness (though there is still some of that). I liked it, but didn't love it. Heul doch, on the other hand, was an instant hit, and will probably remain in the family collection until it's worn to bits (and it's already getting pretty ragged after less than a month). It is casual, but fun, inevitably leading to silly outrage, which inevitably leads to charitable offers of a napkin to cry into.

Scopa is the last new-to-me card game on the list (I've played Rummy before; it's just my first time logging a play on BGG). It was relaxing and fun to play, and I'd happily play it again on any lazy afternoon. Any game that has survived as long as it has is worthy of anyone's attention. It's a simple "fishing" game in which each player is making simple decisions each turn, but it all adds up to something satisfying, with luck being present, plenty of it, but not necessarily decisive. I'm pretty sure that there are levels of play here beyond my rudimentary beginner play. Anyhow, I enjoyed it.

I already wrote about Chainmail. Fun enough solo game, which I'll be happy to play again on those rare days when my family leaves me all alone at home. I also already wrote about Lockpicks. It passed the time when I played it, but it didn't leave me ever wanting to play it again.

Finally, the three currently logged as "unpublished prototype."

Cityline was a much more enjoyable Roll & Write for me than Lockpicks. There's still a puzzle element to it, but the joy of the game is in building your own skyline with your own little doodle icons in the buildings. It's like any game you've played in which you've lost, but you're still satisfied because you've built up something nice in front of you. I played it twice and almost played it again this morning (but played a different new BS solitaire game instead).

EarthShine is a stripped down Push Your Luck Joy Machine. It's probably best with 2 or 3, but it was also good with 4. I wouldn't play it with any more than that. The game involves rolling the D20 polyhedral 'dice chain' (to steal a descriptor from DCC). Start with the d20 attempting for a roll of 12 or less, then d12 rolling for the d10, d8 for d6, d6 for d4, d4 for d2 (coin), d2 flip for beautiful shiny Moon. At any time you can stop rolling for new dice and instead use the dice you have to attempt to meet a set number to win gems. Gain 4 gems and you win. Or. Gain the Moon and you win. It was a delight.

We played the rules wrong to Royale. They're not that difficult. I just accidentally added my own rule that made the game worse. We still had a ton of fun. I'm on the fence as far as how much I like this one, but I'll report back once I've played it a few more times with the correct rules. I think that a lot of people would like this one if it got a wider audience. It's essentially a *fun* version of Sheriff of Nottingham (a game that I've always liked the idea of more than the actual play).

I didn't log a play of it, but I also putzed around with my copy of A Bridge Too Far: Arnhem for a couple of hours. I set it up and read through the rules, then played through the first turn solo. It was... fine? I appreciate the system. It's clean and simple, though it has some chrome (mostly the barrage and bridge destruction rules). I definitely enjoyed the low counter density and zero stacking. It's the type of wargame that appeals to me. And yet this time, this one didn't. I didn't feel the need to keep playing it. I didn't think that I'd have any more fun than I'd already had setting it up and learning it (and I did have a good time doing such). I didn't think that I'd learn anything new about this historical situation through any further play. So that was that. I cleaned it up and put it away. If anyone wants a copy, let me know and I'll send it in the mail to you for free. (Claimed!)

That was a lot of rambling text block. Next month, I need to remember to take more photos.


Air, Land, and Sea continues to get more love from me. Yokai no Mori as well. Chartae is becoming a staple as well and might get a bump up to an '8' next time because it deserves it. Condottiere is a game that I once owned and sold. I got a new (old Eurogames) copy in a trade. I like it better this time. :-) Schotten Totten got dusted off and given some love. It fell flat last time I tried to play it, but this time we saw it shine. I'm glad to give it some more plays and expect that its rating may also rise. I think that it is at least as good as Lost Cities, playing in a very similar tension space, but playing out so differently.

Other Stuff
I bought a new simple boombox with a cassette tape deck, which made me happy.
I made my first 90 minute cassette tape mix for the first time in a long time. That was nice. The real benefit of cassette (and vinyl, of course) is that there is no possibility of a "shuffle" mode. Order and sequence become important again. Even if it's the whim of a certain moment on a certain day, there was this specific connection between these two songs in this order and now, through the mix, they become more permanently bonded together, a synthesis of connections between seemingly distinct things.

Is there any interest in a BGG Snail Mail Cassette Mix Club? If even one person responds yes, then I'm creating a new guild. I'd also be interested in swapping out mix cds (obviously easier and more affordable than cassettes right now) or just swapping playlist mixes regularly. Some sort of music club sounds fun right now. We can call it the BGG Snail Mail Cassette Mix Club even if no cassettes ever get made or shared.

I love Jason and the Argonauts. I hadn't seen it in many years. It was a joy to share it with my kids. If you can believe it, Apollonius of Rhodes' original work is even better than the (very loose) film adaptation, but I won't recommend that right now because it's been a while since I've read it. I do recommend this film. Make some popcorn. Grab some good beer (stout for yourself, root for the young'uns). Have a good time.
From gallery of trawlerman

I read a lot.

Highly recommended if you're aching for a savage alternative to LotR that rivals it in sad beauty (which things like AGoT just don't achieve, but this book does):
The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Highly recommended if you're looking for great new fiction that puts the speculative back in SF (what if our Artificial Intelligence machines are more interested in their creators' stories than their logic puzzles? where is meaning and self-understanding found?):
Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Highly recommended if you want to read (or re-read) one of the all-time greats of AmLit, a canonical book that you can cross off your to-read list (in order to put it on your evergreen re-read list) and it only takes a couple of hours to read instead of a couple of weeks:
"Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" by Herman Melville
You should pick up the lovely print edition from MHP: (go ahead and buy a dozen copies and just start throwing them at people from six feet away)

One More Thing
Crazy times, huh?
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Fri May 1, 2020 7:52 pm
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March '20 - “You wake up and dive immediately into the flow of images, numbers, and rhetoric. 'Social distancing' means being online."

Board Game: Babylonia
Board Game: Duck Soup
Board Game: Hearts
Board Game: Lord of the Rings
Board Game: Lost Cities
Board Game: Senators
Board Game: Air, Land, & Sea
Board Game: Chartae
RPG Item: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set
Board Game: Hex
Board Game: High Society
Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Board Game: Spades
Board Game: The Bottle Imp
Board Game: Whist
Board Game: Aristocracy
Board Game: Cheeky Monkey
Board Game: Hero Realms
Board Game: Ingenious: Travel Edition
Board Game: L.L.A.M.A.
Board Game: Potato Man
Board Game: Splendor
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
Board Game: Ziegen Kriegen
Board Game: Brainwaves: The Astute Goose
Board Game: Penny Rails
RPG Item: Dungeon Crawl Classics Quick Start Rules & Intro Adventure (Free RPG Day 2017)

 9   Babylonia x4 NEW!
 8   Duck Soup x5 (6 all-time)
 8   Hearts x2 NEW!
 8   Lord of the Rings (9 all-time)
 8   Lost Cities x3 (16 all-time)
 8   Senators NEW!
 7   Air, Land & Sea (2 all-time)
 7   Chartae x4 (10 all-time)
 7   Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (3 all-time)
 7   Hex x3 NEW!
 7   High Society x2 (4 all-time)
 7   Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation x3 (12 all-time)
 7   Spades NEW!
 7   The Bottle Imp NEW!
 7   Whist NEW!
 6   Aristocracy NEW!
 6   Cheeky Monkey (11 all-time)
 6   Hero Realms x2 (27 all-time)
 6   Ingenious: Travel Edition (9 all-time)
 6   L.L.A.M.A. (3 all-time)
 6   Potato Man (2 all-time)
 6   Splendor (12 all-time)
 6   The Fox in the Forest x2 (3 all-time)
 6   Ziegen Kriegen (13 all-time)
 5   Brainwaves: The Astute Goose x2 NEW!
 5   Penny Rails NEW!
 N/A   Portal Under the Stars NEW!


“More and more often over the last few years I find myself sitting in front of my computer, having brought up a blank browser tab, trying to do something between remembering and anticipating. Was there a piece of information that some other piece of information had reminded me I wanted to check on? Or is there some new thing to find, some new chain whose links might lead to something unexpected? I sit there with my fingers hovering over the keyboard, Ouija-like, waiting to be moved by an impulse, or an algorithm. Now entire days seem to vanish into that waiting room. People compare the internet to a drug, but this is worse, or weirder: it’s like spending all day preparing your kit in case the desire for a fix were to hit you. It’s like wanting to kill time and being unable to find it.”
-from “Killing Time“ by James Duesterberg

I guess I've just embraced the irony (hypocrisy?) of active and regular posting while sporting a snazzy "Offline from the Geek for a while" microbadge.

I'm tired of being logged in, tuned in, socially distant. And of course I'm talking about the state of affairs before our current state of affairs.

"It was the last step between us and happiness anyway, were people." -Norm Macdonald

(I've watched this several times over the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, live standup was still happening.)

Something between remembering and anticipating.

I'm posting today because it's become a habit, reporting here about a previous month at the start of a new one. I couldn't leave it alone. I didn't want to not do it even as I considered that I couldn't muster up the caring to do it properly.

Yesterday, I posted about Button Shy, and that wasn't so hard because I had something to say. I was also in a great mood after an afternoon of peaceful, relaxing, and fulfilling gaming. I had waffled between annoyance (maybe even mild anger) at the Board Game of the Month delays and some sort of attempt at loyalty to a brand that I was pretty sure of, but not entirely sure of. My patience, my loyalty, was rewarded, and I was happy, wanting to share that feeling with others.

What do I want to share with others today? The feeling of not wanting to share feelings with Internet friendlies and Internet strangers? The feeling of being exhausted by infinite content? Wallace's Everything And More? I don't even really like Arcade Fire, right?, so why is "Everything Now" the album that I return to repeatedly, over and over again since its release?

Do I have anything to say about the games that I played last month?

No, not really.

I've written about many of them already, either in earlier posts here or in scattered places across the 'geek.

Looking at the list of games played, I'm happy that much of my gaming was with my family. I've tried to make that a priority this year. So far, so good.

I guess what I'd like to focus on in future lists is generating less of the shiny red "new", instead effortlessly achieving more double digits in the all-time play numbers in the parentheses.

New-to-me games have been nearly half the games I've played so far this year. And while maybe I can pat myself on the back for getting my "Great Unplayed" tally down, it also still feels like I'm chasing that fleeting feeling of everything now, all at once.

What with there being no public gaming, maybe I should do something crazy and just pick one or two (or realistically three to deal with age ranges) games and only play those few games for the next month. Maybe.

I guess I won't finish with an "Other Stuff" section as this has all pretty much been "Other Stuff". Do my work for me and pretend that all of the following is somehow about board games.

I'm bummed that my favorite local family-owned second-run cinema is closed down. I made it out to see The Gentlemen on the 12th before the shutdown order. The film was better than I had expected (I'm not a Ritchie fan), but really it was the experience that I loved. It's one of the things that I miss most right now. I don't care if every airport in the country shuts down permanently. I will grieve deeply if my favorite cinema is unable to survive this.

At home, I'm up-to-date with Better Call Saul, which is better than ever, outrageously good.

I've been reading a lot, most notably probably a re-read of Beowulf, which felt relevant. Also a lot of comics, a trashy Western, and Cal Newport's book on Digital Minimalism, which is relevant to all of my mad ranting, but which I found shallow and ultimately disappointing.

I don't know about music. I'm stupidly infatuated with this song, and am still surprised that it hasn't gone "viral" yet:

Otherwise, it's mostly been listening to newer country. The Western AF Cabin Sessions have been a stable joy:

And here's a final song to say goodbye:
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Thu Apr 2, 2020 2:34 pm
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Feb '20 - "Let me live in greatness / And courage, or here in this hall welcome / My death!"

Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Board Game: Pax Pamir: Second Edition
Board Game: Bus
Board Game: In Vino Morte
Board Game: Irish Gauge
Board Game: Air, Land, & Sea
Board Game: Chartae
Board Game: High Society
Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Board Game: Potato Man
Board Game: Aargh!
Board Game: Bible Trivia
Board Game: BraveRats
Board Game: Kalah
Board Game: L.L.A.M.A.
Board Game: Meow
Board Game: Qwixx
Board Game: Rhino Hero: Super Battle
Board Game: Sprawlopolis
Board Game: Wig Out!
Board Game: Brains Family: Burgen & Drachen
Board Game: Fiery Dragons
Board Game: Lost Cities: To Go

 10   Tigris & Euphrates (19 all-time)
 9   Pax Pamir (Second Edition) (10 all-time)
 8   Bus (4 all-time)
 8   In Vino Morte x2 (7 all-time)
 8   Irish Gauge (4 all-time)
 7   Air, Land & Sea NEW!
 7   Chartae x3 (6 all-time)
 7   High Society x2 NEW!
 7   Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation x9 NEW!
 7   Potato Man NEW!
 6   Aargh! (3 all-time)
 6   Bible Trivia (3 all-time)
 6   BraveRats x4 (13 all-time)
 6   Kalah x2
 6   L.L.A.M.A. (2 all-time)
 6   Meow x10 (31 all-time)
 6   Qwixx NEW!
 6   Rhino Hero: Super Battle x4 NEW!
 6   Sprawlopolis x3 (8 all-time)
 6   Wig Out! NEW!
 5   Brains Family: Burgen & Drachen NEW!
 5   Fiery Dragons (6 all-time)
 4   Lost Cities: To Go NEW!

Four new Knizias, ranging from the Very Good to Oh So Disappointing.
First, the Very Good.
I greatly enjoyed both Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation and High Society. Stratego was one of the formative games of my childhood, so it's probably no surprise that I like Knizia's confrontational take on the genre. It captures the best of that "poking around looking for a decisive win moment" feel while also delivering a fairly well-developed LotR theme. I also love how quick it is, which is praise that I'll also give to High Society. In "classic Knizia" fashion, HS is intensely player-driven, with an almost "chicken" vibe to it, due to the balancing of care for VPs and care for not going broke. Sure, it's probably not "as good" as Modern Art, but MA is a main course that I like but I'm not fond enough of to have often, while HS is an appetizer or dessert that I think I could enjoy often with most anything else. Last week's game night was two plays of HS followed by a play of Bus. That's pretty perfect for weeknight gaming as far as I'm concerned.
Then, the Not So Good
Burgen & Drachen is a decent game. I didn't hate it. It's really just a shared puzzle race with a neat handicapping mechanism that keeps one player from running away with the win. It's a good family game. I guess I'm just not into speed puzzling.
Lost Cities To Go was my biggest disappointment of the month. The game itself is pretty good, an interesting push-your-luck take on the original Lost Cities, with some interesting decisions related to when to take tiles and when to leave them available to your opponent. But I didn't think that it was interesting enough, and I'd just always rather play Lost Cities. I also absolutely HATED the mini tiles, and not just because the color shading on them was awful. We pulled them from a bag instead of sorting and shuffling them down on the table, but I still just had a visceral distaste for the handling of these mini tiles, which is the real reason why I dislike this game. Weird, I guess, but it is what it is. I even recognize that the game would not work as well with cards because of the way that all of the untaken drawn cards would need to be face-up on the table, hogging space. I get it. I just don't like it.

Air, Land, and Sea and Potato Man were the best new non-Knizias of the month. Both need more plays. I want to play both more, which is a good sign.

Any month that sees plays of T&E, PP2e, Bus, In Vino Morte, and Irish Gauge is a very good month of gaming. That list is almost a perfect description of the regular contents of my game night carry bag right now. Throw in Chartae, LotR:Confrontation, and AL&S for some quick 2 player match-ups, and Potato Man and High Society for some 4 player card fun. That's a great little portable collection right there.

Other Stuff
I've been surfing the Acclaimed Music website and listening to "Acclaimed" playlists on Spotify. But none of it has been as satisfying as just re-listening to this Six Organs of Admittance track.

I watched a couple of things for my ongoing project of watching everything on the TSPDT 1000. I watched a few new things. I watched a few random things. I watched too many stupid Youtube videos. Of all of that, my favorite new-to-me "movie" of the month was easily Goldman v Silverman. I think it's worth your time. Check it out.

Probably the only book worth mentioning here is Ann Leckie's The Raven Tower. I read it based on Mark's recommendation from last month. I agree that it is unique and intriguing. I'm not sorry that I read it. But, I didn't quite like it. :-(
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I didn't mind the "second person" narration directed at one of the book's characters. I was surprised by how well Leckie pulled it off, though I'm not sure why we're supposed to believe that an ancient god would be performing some sort of attempted thought-broadcast of its selected "greatest hits" biography at this one human character. I did think that the book dragged a bit in the middle. The villains (a set of twins and an uncle) are kinda boring and one-dimensional. For that matter, there's not much personality to any of the heroes either. All that said, my biggest complaint is that the end is a giant cheat. Why would Mawat sacrifice to "the god of Vastai" instead of to the Raven? We've been told that words and names are important. All along, the "god of Vastai" is specifically named and invoked as the Raven. Very specifically and not in generalities. The only reason for the switch to generalities at the end is to make the big reveal work, allowing our Patient narrator a big surprise win.

One More Thing
How does one spend less time on BGG? I'm not sure. I logged out and spent this past Friday and Saturday without checking BGG even once on those days. It was... fine. I didn't miss anything, though I did occasionally feel that restless itch, that dull feeling that there was something really important that I usually do that I wasn't doing. Yet I was able to log in on Sunday morning for half an hour and catch up without feeling like I had been left out of something grandly important. I doubt anyone knew I was gone. Right now, I think I'm going to see if I can develop a weekly habit of checking BGG Sundays through Tuesdays, in some controlled limited use, then logging off and staying logged off the rest of the week. I love the community. I love chatting about games and other things. I'm just not so sure that I love that dopamine hit of checking and re-checking the site, always engaged, which keeps me from using that same time to do something like, you know, read a book. I'm not on the Big Two social media sites, so BGG really is my online "social" fix. It's a bit funny, too, because lately my favorite "content" on BGG is all about culling collections and playing loved games more, which is really all about choosing to spend your time more wisely. I'd definitely like to spend my time more wisely, which ironically means doing less reading of posts about spending my time more wisely. Also, posts like that (like this one) start to get preachy and boring. As a reader of them, you realize while you're reading them that you've failed again because you're spending your time reading a post about doing great things instead of doing great things yourself. It could be worse. You could be spending your free time writing your own post about how you've failed to do great things while reading about efforts to do great things.

So it goes.
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Mon Mar 2, 2020 4:43 pm
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January '20 - "All our disease / Of longing, all hopes we fabled of, / Fortunate islands or Hesperian seas / Or woods beyond the West, were but the breeze / That blew from off those shores"

Board Game: Shogi
Board Game: Tikal
Board Game: Pax Pamir: Second Edition
Board Game: DVONN
Board Game: 1846: The Race for the Midwest
Board Game: Bitskrieg
Board Game: Duck Soup
Board Game: Giro Galoppo
Board Game: Knaves
Board Game: YINSH
Board Game: 5211
Board Game: Bucket Brigade
Board Game: Color Wheel
Board Game: Hero Realms
Board Game: Kleiner Spatz
Board Game: Meow
Board Game: Monster Chase
Board Game: Sprawlopolis
Board Game: Axio Rota
Board Game: Pink Hijinks

 10   Shogi (8 all-time)
 10   Tikal (14 all-time)
 9   Pax Pamir (Second Edition) (9 all-time)
 8   DVONN x3 (45 all-time)
 7   1846: The Race for the Midwest (2 all-time)
 7   Bitskrieg x2 (3 all-time)
 7   Duck Soup NEW!
 7   Giro Galoppo x3 (8 all-time)
 7   Knaves NEW!
 7   YINSH x2 (29 all-time)
 6   5211 x2 NEW!
 6   Bucket Brigade x3 NEW!
 6   Color Wheel x2 NEW!
 6   Hero Realms (25 all-time)
 6   Kleiner Spatz (13 all-time)
 6   Meow x4 (21 all-time)
 6   Monster Chase (6 all-time)
 6   Sprawlopolis (5 all-time)
 5   Axio Rota x2 NEW!
 5   Pink Hijinks NEW!

Duck Soup
The best thing that I did all month on BGG was ask for help in finding trick taking games in the Deep Cuts guild. So many great responses. These two were the two that I chose to start off the year. I wanted to get in more plays, but the Plague running through my house cut down on gaming at home this month (though I still got a decent amount of home gaming in). I'd recommend both Duck Soup and Knaves to anyone looking to try out trick taking games. Both only need a traditional card deck, and both were more fun than some other commercial trick taking games that I've played. I thought that Knaves ran a little long for what it was, but I did have fun playing it and will play again.
Bucket Brigade
I don't know about BB. I played three times. I think it's just okay. I was going to get rid of it, but my kids convinced me to hold on to it a little bit longer.
I liked BB more than I liked 5211, but my kids adored 5211. I always know a game is a hit when my kids go on to play it with each other repeatedly without me. 5211 is a keeper because the kids have adopted it. It's the first card game they've really loved since LLAMA, which I also didn't really care about. So what do I know about fun card games?
Color Wheel
This was a decently fun solo puzzle exercise. I don't know if it's a game. What's a game?
Axio Rota
Definitely my biggest disappointment of the month. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was something a little bit more substantial than this slight little thing. But, once again, my kids, especially a few of the younger ones, 7yo, 9yo, 11yo, insisted on keeping it. I think that this is maybe the target audience for this game.
Pink Hijinks

I don't have much to say here except that it's very nice to play a game and not learn any new rules. I also love that there are enough people in my local group who are willing to play PP2e that it's going to keep seeing regular play. It only keeps getting better.

The one play of 1846 was nice, a long Saturday hosted at Madden's house. Even though we had played before, it had been several months, so Jake (with assist from Kevin) re-taught the game. But it didn't feel like learning something new, only a refresher and a reminder. We should play again sooner rather than later so that the rules cement themselves in my head. After set-up and the rules refresher, it took us about 5.5hrs, which is maybe too long for 1846 according to some, but it's what it took us. Before the game was even halfway over, we pretty much knew that Kevin was going to win, but we played it out. The end scores were closer than we had anticipated. I was only about a thousand behind and Jake had managed to scramble to within a few hundred of Kevin. If I had made a few different decisions (mostly I would have bought another share of NY earlier and dumped the B&O instead of stubbornly believing that Madden was going to turn that failing company around).

I'm still enjoying the game. I rarely felt the time drag. Things mostly moved right along, always engaging. But... I'm still not sure about it long term. I'm a Humanities guy down to the bones. Number crunching does not come easy to me. Madden finally broke down and started using the calculator on his phone. I might have to do that next time.

And even though the time flew right by, I just don't see my life having room for any game that's even longer than this. The 8+ hour 18xx games just aren't for me right now. 1846 is almost too long, but I think that we could probably get it to the sub-5hr sweet spot to get it played on a Tuesday night.

Finally, playing Giro Galoppo again for the first time in years reminded me of what a great game it is. I'm going to play it a lot more this year.

Here's a photo of my oldest daughter (now 17) playing GG with me almost 12 years ago!

Board Game: Giro Galoppo

Other Stuff
I'm not feeling it this month, but here are some quick takes...

I went down a few YouTube rabbit holes. Apparently "reaction videos" of people watching old music videos is a thing. After a few of those, I just started watching the original videos instead. I listened to a lot of British folk this month, some 60s/70s stuff, and some recent stuff (mostly following things that Alasdair Roberts has been involved in). Listened to a few albums on the Punching Cardboard Best of Year lists that I hadn't heard yet. Listened to new Will Oldham. Listened to old Dirty Three favorites. Had an evening of nostalgic Primus listening. Sailing the Seas of Cheese was one of the first cassette albums that I bought with my own money. 91? 92?

I didn't watch many movies. What I did watch was mostly garbage. I liked The Best Years of Our Lives, and I liked A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I keep thinking about taking my wife to A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood/Uncut Gems double feature while they're both still playing locally.

Franny and Zooey re-read confirmed its greatness. It's not for everyone, but if you've avoided further Salinger because you were underwhelmed by Catcher, then you should give F&Z a try.
Also confirmed: I am not at all an Ian M. Banks fan. This was my second Culture novel (though the one I read is first in the series) and maybe I'm done with Banks.
And I read other stuff. It was a good month of reading.

One More Thing
I don't really have one more thing. I'm done.
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Sat Feb 1, 2020 2:50 pm
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