Archive for John Owen

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Cloak, wallet, staff

Cloak, wallet, staff was the ancient Cynic equivalent of phone, wallet, keys...

From gallery of trawlerman
I'm very much a 21st century American, soft and too comfortable. I'll never make it to cloak, wallet, staff level, but maybe I can move away from cloak, wallet, staff, giant cabinet full of games with extra games all over the place level.

I'm using the tag "Staff & Wallet" for these "Crates Challenge" posts, which will maybe become weekly updates (which sounds ridiculous even to myself as I consider an extended log-off once again). These posts will each have two components: Staff & Wallet. Bet you didn't guess that. The "staff" section will be updates on actions: games received, games played, games purged, etc. The "wallet" section will be updates on how I'm doing in terms of spending money on games, hopefully more often than not being a simple report that I have spent no money on games.

Alright. Let's try this out....

As reported last week, I took part in another large trade. 9 games out of the collection, discussed last week. 18 new games into the collection. 18! Yikes. This made me realize that I need to clarify part of the Crates Challenge. I had written that I would play every new game within two weeks of receiving it. I need to make an exception for large trades like this. There is no way that I can play all 18 of these games within 2 weeks unless I take two weeks off from work to do nothing but play new games, which sounds great, but is not going to happen. So, newly clarified rule: Any games that I purchase will be played within two weeks. Any large trades will give me two weeks per game received, which means that I have 36 weeks, more than half a year, to play all of these games before I have to toss them. Overall, though, I'm hoping to keep up a pace of at least 2 new-to-me unplayed games per week, so this should not even be an issue. There are about ten more weeks left in the year. That should be at least twenty more unplayed games getting played (or maybe, if they've been around a while, tossed without being played). Eh, all of this sounds like too much already. I think I may just need to institute a no more trades rule. Right now, there are games in the house. I need to either play them or get rid of them. At least 2 unplayed get played and/or tossed every week. That's the goal right now, I guess.

Edit: The challenge says two weeks. It'll be two weeks.
Original Crates Challenge Rules: 5. If I do buy a new game, I will play it immediately upon receiving it, within two weeks (and I'm only giving myself two weeks as a generous allowance for the fact that sometimes life is so busy that to do anything immediately is difficult). If I don't play it within two weeks of receiving it, I give it away unplayed immediately, driving to the thrift store that day if I have to.
6. Trades are still allowed, following the same guidelines as purchases outlined above.

To the left is a photo of what 18 new games stacked on top of each other looks like. I admit that it did feel great to get a bunch of new games. The consumerist high is real. I'm happy with almost all of these games coming in, excited to try them out with the family. Surprisingly, it's just two of the Knizias that I'm lukewarm about. Ilium just looks like a blah Euro. Tower of Babel is one I tried in 2006 and was underwhelmed by, but felt like I needed to give it another chance after seeing others give it some love. But just looking at it, I'm not excited. Eh, we'll see.

Part of me feels like the entire big trade was a way for me to feel good about trading away multiple big games for copies of Elk Fest and Times Square, two games that I've played before that felt right to own. And I read the rules to RR last night. That one will see a little bit of play by me, then probably a lot of play by my children, so the whole trade was a good thing even if only for that one game. Even if the rest go, oh well.

Since last week, I played two previously unplayed games.

1. My City
This was recently purchased, purchased with a good reason and a plan to play it. This has already and will continue to get played once a week with Abigail. Good game. Good times. I already regret where I placed my first stone sticker. I wish I had had a tiny bit more experience before making unalterable game-changing decisions!
2. Fliptricks
This one is making me reconsider my intention to cancel my Button Shy subscription in December. This is probably the stupidest little game I've played all year, and I mean that in the best possible way. I played 14 times in an evening, which is really easy to do if you keep breaking your skateboard by failing to land properly. John Shepherd wrote a great review. Go read it, then try to find a copy of this or make your own copy. Edit: pnp found here.

I spent $43 and change on shipping for the trade. Shipping costs just keep increasing. Anyhow, I'm okay with it. $43 helped me get rid of nine games that I was struggling to get rid of. That's probably the most important part of this. It also got me 18 new games that I think are a better fit for me and my family. I'm a bit conflicted about it because the goal is to get games out of the house, not into the house, but overall I'm feeling more positive about this one than negative, since I don't plan to just let these new games sit on a shelf in the basement for a few years. I don't. Seriously. Stop looking at me like that.
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Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:46 pm
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I just opted in for the new home page beta. I have been around for a lot of changes and this is the worst incarnation of BGG that I have been around to see. Welcome to the future. Enough said.
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Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:33 pm
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One week later...

A week ago, I talked big about getting rid of stuff and playing unplayed games.

A week later, here's a report.

On 10/8, I purchased a copy of My City for full retail price. I intend to play it for the first time today.

On Saturday, I received the three copies of Boon that I had ordered on the 2nd.

So far, that doesn't look promising. It looks more like I've continued to fish for more games instead of throwing my games into the sea.

True enough. I am weak. But both My City and Boon should see plenty of play. I hope so.

In better news, I have a stack of 20 games on a bench that are ready to leave the house. I'm unsure right now whether I'll go through the trouble of giving them away here or just do the crazy thing of throwing them into the wild by donating them to a local thrift store.

In addition to those 20 games, I have just this morning approved a trade (my 3rd big trade with Alex this year) that will get 9 more unloved games out of the house. Let's examine this one further.

The 9 games that are leaving fall into three different categories.
War Games
Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil, 235-284 AD
Twilight Struggle
War Chest
Wilderness War
Family Games
Kingdom Builder
Cube Rails
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio
Ride the Rails

Quick rundown:
I bought Time of Crisis because of Martin's review. It was peer pressure. Once I received it, I read the rules. It looked good. I tried to get it played, but there were always other games. I think the truth is that I did not believe in my ability to get the game played repeatedly with my group. And if it wasn't going to be played repeatedly, what was the point of even playing it once? I could have played it at home. My kids always surprise me with how much they like multiplayer warrish titles. They all liked Conquest of Paradise more than I did. But I wasn't feeling it. I never made the effort.
Twilight Struggle was a favorite for a while, but I've only played it 9 times and the last time was already 5 years ago.
War Chest looked good. I got it on 50% discount at my flgs. I liked my one play of Undaunted: Normandy. This looked similar, though a bit abstract. Again, I read the rules and then could never be bothered to play the game.
Wilderness War represents all of my intentions to play more war games. When I was living in Buffalo and gaming heavily with the Buffalo gamers, Wilderness War was always on the table every Saturday that BACSIM met. I would go on to play many CDGs (Washington's War, Unhappy King Charles, others), but I never did play my copy of Wilderness War. I got rid of my first edition for a second edition in 2010. I've owned the second edition unplayed for ten year. It's time for it to go. I'm sorry, Wilderness War.
Kingdom Builder doesn't do anything for me. After playing it, I read lots of reviews and comments. I listened to the podcast that Martin was on. I'm not convinced. 1 play and I'm kicking this game out. Entirely unfair, I guess. It's a pleasant enough game, but I just would never pick it to play over so many others.
Morels is a game that I've owned for a few years thinking that it could be a good 2p game with Abigail. Nah. It's another case of having read the rules and deciding that it wasn't worth the bother. Maybe I should start reading rules more often before I acquire games?
Zooloretto saw a decent amount of family play in the past, but I've never loved it. I'd rather play Coloretto every time. I had the children do the goofy Kondo goodbye ceremony. "Goodbye, Zooloretto. Thank you for the good times." I think it's healthy to really like something, acknowledge that it has brought you pleasure in the past, and also completely let it go.
Finally, Gulf, Mobile & Ohio and Ride the Rails. These were both acquired earlier this year! I really felt like I needed these games mere months ago. Well, I don't need them. Jake has a copy of Ride the Rails that I'll play eventually. If I do, great. If I don't, that's okay as well. Gulf looks interesting, but it also looks just a tad too fiddly. I may be starting to sound like another raving lunatic on this site, but if I'd always rather be playing Babylonia, why do I need these other games around?

So, yeah, 9 games out of the house. Sounds great, right? Except that I traded those 9 for 18(!) incoming games. Sigh.

Several Knizias
Abandon Ship
Carcassonne: The Castle
Crafty Badger
Leapin' Lily Pads
Modern Art Card Game
Royal Visit
Tower of Babel
Wildlife Safari
Other Designers
Eight Epics
Elk Fest
Familiar's Trouble
Hare & Tortoise
Medina (Second Edition)

Edit: I meant to also note that I canceled my p500 pre-order for Rebel Fury, which still looks great, but I haven't even played Gettysburg in more than a year.

2nd Edit: I also played 3 previously unplayed games in the past week.
Ugly Christmas Sweaters
Quarto was nothing special. LYNGK became an instant favorite of my 10yo. It is an interesting amalgamation of the rest of the GIPF series. I'm happy to keep it, but I've already thrown away the box and consolidated the GIPF games that I own (DVONN, LYNGK, YINSH, ZERTZ) into just the DVONN and YINSH boxes, and I might even just move them to some of those empty white GMT boxes that I have. I would have thrown them all into the new large LYNGK box, but the DVONN board would not fit.
I played UCS with the three oldest. We all agreed that we'll play it weekly in December.
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Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:18 pm
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The danger of first impressions

I'm really digging now for old drafts. I don't think I'm going to make it to 10 posts today, bootleby.

This one was going to be a short essay on when and why it is okay to judge a game based on first impressions while also being charitable and admitting personal limitations/biases, also recognizing that evaluation over multiple plays is the ideal.

All I did towards that essay was upload two photos, probably recycled from other posts.


From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman
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Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:39 pm
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Here's another draft that was abandoned. This was a response to the 2019 review podcast with Mark and Martin. These were my picks for the categories listed.


Favorite Boardgame you played in 2019
Pax Pamir 2e
Favorite ‘complex’ card game (special powers)
Favorite ‘traditional’ card game (colours and numbers)
Favorite party game
Throw Throw Burrito
Favorite solo game
Favorite wargame
Favorite digital game
Favorite “oldie”
Favorite 2-player
Favorite 6+ player
In Vino Morte
Favorite artwork
Mutant Crawl Classics
Favorite component
Throw Throw Burrito
Favorite production (anything from minis to box inserts!
Irish Gauge
Favorite theming (implies it was successful? Or including noble failures?)
Bull Moose
Favorite game that you absolutely loved but no one else you know did so you will keep it for years knowing you loved it so so much but will probably never ever play it again because no one else likes it that much and will probably not want to play it with you? (Aka The David)
Favorite experience
Push It. Mancation
Favourite expansion
Hole in the Sky
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Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:31 pm
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"It doesn't have to make sense if it's awesome."

I wrote this a couple of months ago. For some reason, I never posted it. Here it is today. Enjoy, and please give Legendary Guys a try sometime.


The title to this post is a quote from the rules to a game that I included on my Top 100 list, a game that you've unfortunately probably never heard of.

It is quite possible that I am this game's biggest (only?) fan. I am not a Level 99 fanboy. I mostly find myself unimpressed while understanding what others see in their games. But, surely, we can all agree that Brad Talton's greatest game is The Legendary Guys? WHY ISN'T THIS GAME WIDELY KNOWN AND CELEBRATED????

I backed the Level 99 Minigames Library back in 2012 (recently passing it along unplayed to a better home). It is possible that my copy of this set was the only one that came with a copy of The Legendary Guys. It's possible, but I doubt it. Looking at that old kickstarter campaign, it looks like there were 873 of us. More likely is that this game has been unjustly ignored. Where are the other 872 of you that should be raving about this game? I added Legendary Guys to the rpggeek database. I'm the only one to have logged plays of it. I can't find any other mentions anywhere on the Internet. What's going on here? It's a great game that has just disappeared.

I'm tagging D. Brad Talton, Jr. in this post. I hope that he sees that this game has been loved and passed on to others by me (at least one of my friends has gone on to teach it to his friends). I am posting these poor photos of the rules here in the hopes that a few of you will go on to play and enjoy the game and keep on passing it along, keeping the game alive.

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman
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Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:21 pm
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I'm sorry for all of the times I ignored you, T&E.

A recent gem from one of the few YouTube board game channels that I subscribe to:
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Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:40 pm
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10 on 10/10

If I could only keep 10 games (October 10th, 2020 edition)

In alphabetical order:

I have recently admitted that Babylonia has "replaced" my two favorite German games in my current affections. Tigris & Euphrates and Tikal are still all-time great games for me. They have not left my collection (yet?), but the truth is that Babylonia gives me the same great feeling that those games do, and it does so in a fraction of the time. I can play Babylonia at least twice in the same amount of time that it would take me to play either one of those favorites once. And it is somehow still just as satisfying, if not more so!

If I discovered Bladder today, would I love it as much as I do? I don't know. I discovered it in 2000 during a dry gaming period, post-CCG and pre-German game. I was raised on chess. Bladder came along as a simple chess pawn variant that I could teach anyone. It was the only game I played for a couple of years. I would eventually discover Settlers and Carc and the rest and I would fall deep down the hobby hole, but Bladder always remained near the top of my affections. As gaming options exploded and gaming partners changed, a slow abstract game of attrition became a harder sell.

Carcassonne is one of the few modern hobby games I picked up prior to joining BGG. It was great then, and so many years and games later, it is great now. It still just scratches a different itch than other games. Carc is my "chill game." I know that it can be cutthroat with farmers and with placing pieces to screw with other players, and I like it that way. But I mostly play it with young children without farmers and with genuinely helpful suggestions. We played with the Princess & Dragon expansion for the first time recently. It adds a heaping dose of luck and 'take that,' both of which I found absolutely charming.

I played a lot of chess in elementary and high school. Even after many of us were playing Magic, it was always chess that came out more often than not. My chess play has weakened over the years as I just have not played as often or as seriously as I had in the past. I used to love doing daily "mate in x" puzzles. Maybe that's a habit I should pick up again. One thing about this list is that almost every game on the list is some else's "lifestyle" game. It's obvious to me that I'm trying to hold onto these deeper games while not forsaking all other games. That's a tough balance, especially when the chess players I know aren't interested in euro games and the euro players I know aren't interested in chess, etc.

This entry could be D&D or any OSR stripped-down rules-lite RPG. I love the goofiness of making stuff up together within the structured confines of the dungeon/fantasy tropes we all already know and love. What I particularly love about DCC is how it actively resists any kind of min/maxing. You are not the super-powered invincible hero in this game. You are a wannabe adventurer in over your head. Sometimes, through skill and luck, this ends in gold and glory. Just as often, it results in a gruesome, horrible death. The funnel that I just ran last month resulted in an unloved, unlucky, mocked loser from a nowhere town being named the Lost King and given a magical spear, which gave him the confidence to become that leader he never was; after that moment he always stood out ahead of the rest of the group, confident and brave, which led to him destroying an extraterrestrial demon out to destroy the world. Another character in the party got mauled to death by a mutated deer. So it goes.

Go is the game I wish I played more often. I didn't even know it existed as a kid. I only first played it a few years ago and was immediately humbled by how bad I was at it. I'm still very bad at it. I've only played face-to-face a handful of times, supplemented by some app and online play a few years ago. If I could find a local culture dedicated to playing Go, I think I would join that group. Earlier this year, I had considered starting my own local chapter of the AGA. Maybe that will happen in the future. I'm definitely still very much a beginner.

Magic: The Gathering
I still love Magic. I gave away all my cards to a friend in '97. I dabbled a little bit after that, but mostly stayed out of the Magic world until about 2005. I did a little bit in the public scene at that time before deciding that I was happy just playing casually at home. It has been over a decade since I've done any sort of constructed play. My preferred way to play is drafting. As it was usually just my brother-in-law and I, we did a ton of Winston Drafts. It has been a few years since I last played, but the last time we did play, we did a Live Booster Draft, which is I think now my favorite 2p draft method. Part of this pick may be nostalgia, but the truth is that I love the way that Magic makes me feel, somehow capturing that feeling of being a dueling wizard, struggling for power, managing finite energy resources while trying to command a small army and/or directly affect oneself or one's opponent with powerful spells. The planning is great, but then the overall lack of total control over the way the deck shakes out is a feature, not a bug. You're a powerful wizard messing with powerful forces; of course that's not always going to go as you planned!

Shogi is chess made new and strange to me. My mind was blown the first time I saw a piece drop from off the board. The promotion and drop rules make Shogi a wilder and woolier game, with plenty of strategy, but more tactical in having to respond to potential threats anywhere. If you have played chess, but have not played Shogi, imagine a game of chess in which each piece you capture is now your piece that you may (with a few exceptions) now place anywhere on the board on your turn. That's Shogi. You now have to track not only every piece on the board, but the potential threats that can appear from off the board. I love it.

Traditional Card Games
I have only recently submitted myself to the joys of the traditional playing card deck. My wife is not interested in any of the abstracts above, but she has happily joined in on some trick-taking fun this year. I respect serious card players who get into heavier games, but I think there are certain levels of play that are beyond me. I'm not the greatest at the memory aspect (card counting) that is a large part of playing these games well (not to mention the work of getting through some unusual ranking rules). But that's okay. I'm happy to discover many of these games as family/social games. Some of my best gaming memories of the year have been Scopa with my wife, Hearts with family, and Oh Hell with friends.

Unpublished Prototype
And here is the cheat, standing in for whatever the next new thing is. As much as I am sometimes disgusted by it, I am as much of a "cult of the new" member as anyone else on BGG. I love trying new games. I love seeing brand new ideas and slight variations on old ideas. I enjoy being a part of the conversation about trends and developments in games. Sometimes I just like to have my own opinion on something that everyone else seems to have an opinion about. I like being the "games expert" that others turn to for advice. So this entry is me acknowledging this aspect of myself. There can be negative parts of this, especially when the new overwhelms and replaces the established great games I already love. It's probably not a good thing that I spend more time on BGG than I do playing games. But in its proper place, I do think that this attention to the new itself is something that really does "spark joy," to use a phrase that might be used against the chasing after the new. It has helped that in the past decade, and especially in the past few years, I really have refined and better understood what games work for me and for my situation. I'm still struggling with this balance, still buying too many games, but I'm in a much better place mentally regarding this than I have been in a long while.
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Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:36 pm
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Family Tens

Yesterday, I started going through games. I brought up games from the basement, rearranged games on our primary gaming shelves, moved some games that had been in my bedroom, etc. Lots of game movement. I'm trying to prioritize which unplayed games to play. I'm also trying to prepare for a purge.

I asked my children to list their Ultimate Top Ten Games of All Time. I gave them half an hour. Entirely spur of the moment and entirely unfair. I did not require ranking so consider each of these lists unranked.

Here are the lists:

Pax Pamir 2e
My Word
No Thanks
Gulo Gulo

I'm pretty sure that Gulo Gulo was a pure nostalgia pick. I was surprised that there weren't any social deduction picks on this list. Also, my oldest is the best at complex euros (she did better than me at T'Zolkin the day we learned it together at a public game day), but there aren't any on here since there aren't any in my house! Scythe is the closest, but she had a question mark next to it on her list. I don't know what that means (I never did do any follow-up questioning about any of these lists). Her and I played Scythe a few times 2p, but I guess it has been at least a couple years now. Two word games on the list means that I should teach her Movable Type and really should just overall have a few more word games in the house.

Pax Pamir 2e
Tigris & Euphrates

Siam was a surprise on this list as I barely remember playing it with her. With Shogi and DVONN also on the list, you can tell who likes the abstracts.

Pax Pamir 2e
Irish Gauge
St Petersburg
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Summoner Wars at Tadsch Mahal

I let her get away with that last cheat combo because it made me laugh out loud. Also, for the record, she actually wrote Tadsch Mahal and not Taj Mahal, which makes it even funnier. We own the original German edition.

The three oldest agree on Azul and Pax Pamir 2e! Azul is a game that they have played a lot, both at public game days with our friend Becca, and at home with each other and with cousins and friends. If I don't really love Azul, it doesn't matter. PP2e saw play at home, but it also saw play at public game days/evenings, so they've played it with others who have played more often. The fact that three teenaged girls list PP2e as one of their favorite games surely says something about what is or isn't appropriate as a family game. I've been saying for a while that the reason I love recent new-to-me games like PP2e, Irish Gauge, Bus, and Babylonia is precisely because they are great family games, deeply interactive with simple, intuitive rules. I have not played Wingspan, but I have read the rules. I honestly believe that the rules to PP2e are simpler (more elegant) than the Wingspan rules. Not only are they simpler, but the emergent gameplay allows for players playing against each other instead of playing against a puzzle. (Dang it, I feel like I'm trying to talk myself into breaking my no new Cole Wehrle game rule. We'll see what happens when the John Company reprint is announced. I may break down.)

Saint Petersburg
My Word
Dutch Blitz
Traditional Playing Cards
Through the Desert

My 12yo loves card games and regrets that she had to leave off many small card games.

Bug Bluff
Zero Down
Hero Realms
Greedy Kingdoms
Northern Pacific

All of these lists have some recency bias, but this one is probably the most guilty as she only played LYNGK for the first time the day before she made this list. She beat me three games out of five. For that matter, her first Babylonia play was the same day. But who doesn't instantly love Babylonia, right?

My 10yo is probably the most avid gamer in the house right now. There are many days in which the first thing she does in the morning is get one of her siblings to play a game with her and the last thing she does before bed is the same.

The observant reader will have already noticed what ALL FIVE of these lists have in common. Babylonia!

When I had them do this, I really wasn't planning on this being another Babylonia commercial. The purpose of these lists was to identify which games I definitely should not purge. Well, guess what? Babylonia is nowhere near the list of games to purge. I'm actually still semi-seriously considering buying a second copy. The 12yo and 10yo asked me if they could play it 2p on their own last night. I said no because it was 10 minutes to supper time, but I also gave them an unasked-for lecture about caring for games and not leaving them out after playing where their little siblings can play with them in their own ways. Last week, I found Potato Man cards floating all around the house. Sigh. This is what happens with games and kids. It's mostly okay, because I'm happy they're enjoying the games in the house. It just takes that repeated training to take care of items (and vigilance against the younger agents of chaos).

Also of note is seeing Keyforge on a few lists even though I haven't played it with any of the kids in over a year. Seeing it listed so many times really makes me wonder why I have not pulled it out more often. Of course I know why. Always new games. I need to stop the new games. Play more Keyforge instead. Well, as we all know now, I have one solid year of burning through my own Great Unplayed, then I hope to have a real focus on the games we all already love.

Hero Realms
Love Letter
King of Tokyo

No Babylonia because I haven't taught him yet. I don't know that he would play well, but I have no doubt that he could easily learn how to play (and learn to play well after a few sessions). The box age of 14+ is a terrible lie. If I had been in charge, I would have put the box age at 10+ (with most parents understanding that of course 8-year-olds can usually play games listed as 10+). I could even see kids younger than 8 playing if they have patient teachers. My own patience stretches at this point and I'd rather just play other, simpler games with younger children.

Also, what's funny about this list is that he's never played Keyforge. I bought him his own deck, but I told him that he can't play until he can read well enough to do so. I guess that hasn't stopped him from considering the game a favorite! He can't read the cards in Hero Realms or Love Letter or King of Tokyo either, but his 10yo sister has a lot of patience with him and will read out all of the cards for him. He has a lot of them memorized.

I did not ask my 6yo, 4yo, or 3yo to make lists.

I should see if I could get Abigail to even make a Top 3.
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Wed Oct 7, 2020 7:10 pm
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Now try the Crates Challenge, laugh out life jocosely, and the like which he had heard from the lips of Diogenes, desiring nought but how to kill desire.

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
-T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Hence it was that Crates the famous Theban, after throwing into the sea a considerable weight of gold, exclaimed, “Go to the bottom, you evil lusts: I will drown you that you may not drown me.” But if anyone thinks to enjoy keenly meat and drink in excess, and at the same time to devote himself to philosophy, that is to say, to live in luxury and yet not to be hampered by the vices attendant on luxury, he deceives himself.
-Jerome, Against Jovinianus

Diocles relates how Diogenes persuaded Crates to give up his fields to sheep pasture, and throw into the sea any money he had.
-Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers

Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
-Proverbs 23:5, KJV

To reach satisfaction in all
Desire its possession in nothing,
To come to the knowledge of all
Desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to possess all
Desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all
Desire to be nothing.
To come to the pleasure you have not
You must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not
You must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not
You must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not
You must go by a way in which you are not.
When you turn toward something
You cease to cast yourself upon the all,
For to go from the all to the all
You must possess it without wanting anything.
In this nakedness the spirit finds its rest,
for when it covets nothing
nothing raises it up and nothing weighs it down,
because it stands in the centre of its humility.
-John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel

The same may be said of the poetry of Crates; and it would be well if you were to read the ‘Praise of the Lentil’ in a party of free-livers. The Cynic humour is, for the most part, of this character. Such jests, in fact, play the part of maxims and admonitions.
-Demetrius of Phalerum, On Style

Thou blind man's mark, thou fool's self-chosen snare,
Fond fancy's scum, and dregs of scattered thought;
Band of all evils, cradle of causeless care;
Thou web of will, whose end is never wrought;
Desire, desire! I have too dearly bought,
With price of mangled mind, thy worthless ware;
Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought,
Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought;
In vain thou madest me to vain things aspire;
In vain thou kindlest all thy smoky fire;
For virtue hath this better lesson taught,—
Within myself to seek my only hire,
Desiring nought but how to kill desire.
-Sir Philip Sidney

But Crates with only his wallet and tattered cloak laughed out his life jocosely, as if he had been always at a festival.
-Plutarch, Moralia, On the Tranquility of Mind

There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
-attributed to G.K. Chesterton (but I've never seen a source)

Hail! divine lady Simplicity, child of glorious Temperance, beloved by good men. All who practice righteousness venerate thy virtue.
-Crates the Philosopher

These arguments and the like which he had heard from the lips of Diogenes, together with others which suggested themselves to him on other occasions, had such influence with Crates, that at last he rushed out into the market-place and there renounced all his fortune as being a mere filthy encumbrance, a burden rather than a benefit. His action having caused a crowd to collect, he cried in a loud voice, saying, 'Crates, even Crates sets thee free.' Thenceforth he lived not only in solitude, but naked and in perfect freedom and, so long as he lived, his life was happy.
-Apuleius, Florida

John here. Are you still with me?

Probably everyone reading my blog is also reading Demetri's blog. If you're not, you should be. I've been inspired by a lot of people, ideas, things, over the past few years. One of those people has been Demetri as he has embraced and explored the Cardboard Diogenes Club, pursuing less things instead of more things. If you read that post, you'll see that Demetri was inspired by others (and you should follow the link and read Michael Heron's post, then after reading that, follow the link to the post that inspired Michael; keep in mind that none of this is new, but an impulse for depth that is deeply human, seen throughout the centuries). A positive chain of inspiration. I have also been inspired and challenged by the BGG Minimalism Guild. I've been a member since the beginning, over two years now, yet my K-Index is still 0 (or really double digit negatives). How can this be? Am I so slow to learn?

Like a lot of people, I'm overwhelmed by stuff, metaphorically (and often literally) fat and lethargic with over-consumption. I need to make changes. Even this year, when I've been "mindful" of my spending on games, what it has taught me is that I'm still buying too many games, mostly games that I do not need, that are not bringing me any greater happiness than the games I already own. I know this, and yet I still want more games.

Making the mental shift towards enjoying a standard deck of cards has been beneficial (though it has also led towards increasing desires for the newer games that build off of traditional games). The same is true of playing more abstracts with a printed and laminated hexhex board.

Discovering Babylonia has given me the multi-player "Euro" (does this word have any meaning any longer?) that I want to explore far into the future. I might go so far as the gonzos who are saying right now that it replaces T&E for them. Because maybe it does? So much is dependent on game groups and circumstances. I've played T&E 19 times in about 14 years. I've already played Babylonia 14 times in about 6 months. T&E was for me the perfect Euro/German game for a long time, tied in my affections only by K/K's Tikal, which is another game that I love that I also kinda see being replaced by Babylonia. Is this merely infatuation? Madness? Some sort of infectious disease that I've caught from lionel_ritche? Then why was I already feeling symptoms before he began the outbreak?

In 2018 and 2019, I had already begun the process of giving away games locally. I gave away a lot of games. I have tried to continue that process. I've sent out games to fellow users in the last year when I've thought that it would be a good thing. I have been giving away games here on the blog. I'm going to continue to do this. As a pathetic modern day Crates, this is my attempt at "throwing into the sea [of BGG] a considerable weight [of games]."

This "Crates Challenge" that I'm making up right now is to simply continue doing the same. Throwing games into the sea. Today is October 5th, 2020. I am announcing my intentions to purge my collection of all unloved and unplayed games. I intend to do this by October 5th, 2021. I need to do another in-home games count, but I'm fairly confident right now saying that my number of unplayed games in the house is 60+. "A considerable weight of gold" indeed. The priority is the unplayed (reminding me that I should also give a shout out to Sam's Great Unplayed, which you should not take as a model in how to get rid of games). I'm making the crazy promise right now that the number of unplayed games in my collection on this day next year will be ZERO.

Here are the rules of the challenge.

I. In order to get rid of 60 games in a year, I'll need to get rid of 5 games a month. I will do this.

II. I need to be more restrictive regarding new games coming in. I am not prohibiting all new purchases. I'm not even going to follow Diogenes in limiting purchases to a maximum of 1 per month. What I will do is:
a) I will not purchase any of the following: wargames, Cole Wehrle games, cube rails games, 18xx, Magic and/or Keyforge, DCC modules, Hollandspiele games (with the exception of the Xmas sale and specifically a purchase of TFotCoG; and maybe Russel's new train game? kinda breaking the no cube rails above). These are the games that I really do enjoy, but that I just don't have the groups to play regularly. If public gaming opens up again, I'll be able to play 1846 a few times a year, and Pax Pamir 2e a bit more regularly, and Soo Line and Irish Gauge, etc. I still won't have a group to play Age of Steam because for whatever reason, no one here in my local area has ever been half as enamored by it as I am. The point is that I do not need to buy more iterations of games that I like but that I already have limited chances to play. Why buy new games that are competing with the old games that don't get played enough? Even when I'm back out at public gaming, I'll just be happy to try others' new games instead of pushing my own newly purchased games.
b) I will cancel my Button Shy subscription in December. That will have been a full year of supporting Button Shy (and getting great stuff in the mail for doing so). I still think that Button Shy is one of, if not the most, exciting publishers working today. If less is more, Jason Tagmire and his small crew are currently the reigning champions of design in the industry, which I believe they are. I will definitely miss this subscription because some of the best Button Shy games have not been their big hits, but the little "throwaway" micro-games that have come in the packages, stuff like Adder and Earthshine, that I would have never played otherwise.
c) Here's where I get wishy-washy. I'm leaving myself broad discretion in purchasing whatever I want to purchase in the next year, but all purchases must be according to these guidelines:
1. The game must be good first and foremost for family play. This can mean abstracts or card games, but there is no universe in which I live in which this ever means war games or heavy economic games.
2. I'm always allowed to purchase family-friendification versions of traditional games, like Boon or Doublehead Kids, or Anglicized/Internationalized versions of Shogi/Xianqi/etc.
3. Following #1 (family friendly), I'm allowing myself a free pass in obtaining any new Knizias, but also games by other classic German designers (such as favorites Kramer/Kiesling), even classic American designers (it's rare that I can resist trying a new Garfield), and even new games that look like they are designed in the same spirit. I will still attempt to be pretty strict with this, spending a lot of time researching a game, reluctant to make any purchase. For example, I have not pre-ordered K/K's Renature, even though it looks pretty good. I'm not convinced that I need it. But if it continues to get a good reception from others whose opinions that I trust, then I may end up picking it up. So, to be clear, this point does not mean that I necessarily will buy every Knizia game or game by other designers that I love. It only means that I may.
4. I will always keep in mind that the ideal month means giving away games and playing the games that I love. It is not ideal at all to bring in new games. Strive for the ideal. I am allowing for my weaknesses and my confirmed designer loves above, but this buying of no new games is still the ideal.
5. If I do buy a new game, I will play it immediately upon receiving it, within two weeks (and I'm only giving myself two weeks as a generous allowance for the fact that sometimes life is so busy that to do anything immediately is difficult). If I don't play it within two weeks of receiving it, I give it away unplayed immediately, driving to the thrift store that day if I have to.
6. Trades are still allowed, following the same guidelines as purchases outlined above.

III. I will keep a sense of humor throughout all of this. I picked Crates as a role model, not because of the reports of his unashamed copulating in the streets (my wife would disapprove), but because all of those who commented on him, positively or negatively, commented on his good sense of humor. When the giving away of games becomes a drag (throwing games into the sea would be so much easier than dealing with modern shipping), I will remember to be of good cheer. I will remember to be satisfied with lentils. The other obvious reason that I picked Crates was that he was a student of Diogenes, which I thought was appropriate. Also fitting is that his name is Crates, fitting right into the "Milk Crate" challenge that was all about identifying the "essentials" (esslentils?) that would be great at any time, covering any gaming occasion.

IV. I have already commited to the Babylonia Century. Part of this next year will be an intensive effort to play through the unplayed games in the house, but I will also strive to do much more playing of the games I already know I love. This will be obviously be easier once I'm no longer weighed down by new games I "must" try, but I want to do as much of it as I can right now. At the very least, it would be nice to finish all 100 plays of Babylonia by next year. That's something that I wouldn't have even considered as possible a few years ago. The fact that I can now think of it as a very real possibility means that I've made some progress along this path.

V. I'll figure out a way to not be on BGG so much. It's undeniable that time spent on this site inevitably leads to time spent thinking about new games. Earlier this year, I did a full month logged out. I may return to that idea. Right now, the fall, is my favorite time to be on BGG, so I won't be leaving any time soon. I'll probably continue to be on more frequently. But maybe I'll figure something out for the winter solstice. Maybe an entire winter break (Dec 21 to Mar 20) logged out from BGG? Could I do that?

Unrelated to gaming, but related to self-discipline and eliminating excess, I'm also going to eat better and exercise more. As a matter of fact, instead of refreshing this page ten times in the next hour, eagerly looking for your thumbs and comments, I'm going to go out for a long walk right now. See you later.

Unbound, unbent by
Pleasure's servitude,
Their queen's immortal
Freedom whom they love.
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Mon Oct 5, 2020 4:37 pm
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