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 Hide of stones...

Alexandre Correia
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RPG Designer
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Day 2262. March 12, 2023. Lagos...

In a day that started well, shaping up to be one of the best Sundays in recent memory - work, family, and life, in general, all in sync with smiles and positive energy - it took an unexpected derail at the end. More like a crash and burn, setting the stage for a high chance of a miserable week ahead. What can one do if not roll with the punches, learn from the experience, and secure the memory for future self-ridicule in a year? And besides, it wasn't all that bad. It was still a good weekend, even if it ended in a screeching tone loud enough to smother other thoughts. We played board games - Wingspan yesterday with Joel in his new house. Dream Home with my daughter today, followed by another interesting session with Go.

Surely this is just another case of me needing to fix perspectives.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Write your worries on a paper plane and watch them fly away.

Dream Home is markedly better with 156 Sunny Street and the Pets expansions, at least after grasping the base game with a few dozen plays. The blueprints provide direction, friends, and families call out for players to race for them, and the curious animals add another extra layer of decision on top of the main drafting cake. Unless I'm introducing Dream Home to someone who hasn't played it before, we'll never play it without the extras.

But the setup is starting to feel like the family version of the Agricola+Moor chore. Fumbling with a rulebook for setup details, sorting cards in and out, and consulting the fine details of the two-player variant is something we don't want as an entree before a glorious gaming experience. A necessary fee? But if this is the case, I'll try to avoid it by leaving a post-it note inside the box with quickly accessible instructions for the setup; decks minimally arranged to shorten setup time.

Also, the insert is an obstacle when it's time to play, but I just can't get myself to throw it away.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Insignificant blues in the children's tent.

Alice didn't complain about any of this, of course. She had a merry time looking at the cards while her daddy prepared everything for a house-building session. The suggested two-player variant in the 156 rulebook did tighten the game as it was meant to. Fewer roof cards made tough calls when it was time to draft. But Alice's real joy with this game is building the home she likes. Not the house worth more points.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Cost-effective vs beautiful.

With Go, however, her initial interest is twofold. She likes the tactile feel of hundreds of stones sliding through her fingers while playing with the drawer that houses them underneath the board. Distractive measures, you might say, against the OCD nature of her dad, who was more worried about the chance of an accidental bump on the board than playing the game with the attention it deserved. Progressing from four to three handicap stones since the last time, Alice firmly won our first match this afternoon. But lost horribly the second when she started with two handicap stones. I think we'll stay in two handicap stones land on a 9x9 board for a while before she can win.

But I did notice some improvements. Instead of compulsive moves, she would often pause to check if any of her pieces were about to be captured or to try and figure out what I was trying to do by placing a stone behind enemy lines.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Four to go.

To end things on a positive note, I fired up the BadukPop app on the phone, so she could test herself against Kevin, a Level 2 A.I. Here, the rewarding tactile experience continues in the form of interacting with the game by touching a screen. She trounced Kevin on her first attempt, but Victor, a Level 3 A.I., proved to be a worthy opponent against her skills, and she lost after a good fight. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her play against both A.I.s and, again, watching her improve her game as she played in real-time.

Quite something, but then again, that's kids for you. They're always quite something to watch, aren't they?

One year ago: ...timeless...
One year later: N/A

Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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