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Chef de cuisine
Short order cooks
ad79 (Stig) alex352 (Alex) cmontgo2 (Chris) Cole Wehrle (Cole) cscottk (skippen) eapeas (Edward & Amanda) Farsol (Patrick) leroy43 Jacovis (Jacob) *** Start getting read for next week*** jtakagi (Jonathan) Lil Red Head (Nikki) Neil Thomson (Neil) oeolycus (Dan) PzVIE (Ron) tommynomad (T. Nomad) wifwendell (Wendell)
This past week, these interesting things happened in my games and my life:
1 --->Solitaire Gaming / Miniatures Painting. I just have to write the unit designations on the Germans and clear coat them. I am happy with how they turned out . . . but I went for a more "diorama" approach to the bases than perhaps I should have. I'll put up images this week if I get around to finishing them (only two months late!).
With my Star Wars: Armada Squadrons, I decided to use an idea used by another Geek to spruce them up: he used Ultra-Fine Sharpies. I started messing around with the TIE fighters last night and seeing how they will turn out if I do them that way. There are quite a few . . . two core sets (32), plus two fighter packs (48) for a grand total of 90 Empire miniatures which will make 30 different squadron bases. And no, I'll never use all of them in the same game.
2 --->Family. My birthday was this week. I turned 39 this Friday past. I always wane rather morose on birthdays, not because I'm upset at getting older, but because my time on this earth is getting shorter
On a sad note, we had to put one of our kittens down - Fred - who had been with my wife since she lived in California oh so many years ago. After spending a rather exorbitant amount of money trying to fix his kidney/bladder issues (he couldn't pee), the next procedure was yet additional hundreds of dollars and wasn't guaranteed to fix the problem. So we made a financial and emotional decision to end his suffering and not take the risk of spending additional money that might not make him healthy again.
3 --->On-Going PBEM Game Notes.1830: The Coalfields continues with the Stock Round finally about to end (I think). Lots of jockeying for position as the permanent trains come out. Space Empires 4X continues with Stig about to unleash holy-hell on Alex. A bit of a slow period, here, as Stig takes care of a sick child and Alex is busy.
4 --->Atlanta is Ours! My games this past week have been on hold due to the Memorial Day BBQ, birthday, and et c. Everyone in my games should expect a file no later than Tuesday as things return to "normal" after the party.
5 --->BGG Con 2015. I bought my tickets with Southwest yesterday. $192 round trip via Southwest. That's cheaper than I was paying in 2001 to fly to Arizona and back. I don't know how or why airfare is this cheap, but I'll take it. Plus, Dallas supposedly finally finished commuter rail lines between the airports, so I should be able to ride to DFW Airport from Love Field for about $4 instead of waiting for my friend to pick me up and/or taking a $50 cab ride.
6 --->Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. For my birthday evening, I got together with some old RPG buddies. We are all in our late-30s and early-40s these days, and try to get together once every 2 or 3 months to do something (not always boardgaming). Most of the guys prefer RPGs, but we get together so rarely, we don't play them. One of the two games we played was this game, which is owned by a non-gamer buddy who likes campy, quick-playing games that don't have too much thinkiness. It's a fun game in which you play the role of a silly-named wizard (I was "Fey Ticklebottom the Enchanter" who's card shows a leprechaun riding a rainbow, for instance). You put together multi-part spells from your hand of cards. When you cast your spell it does various things to your opponents - usually trying to harm them - or it can result in you or your opponents healing up some health, or getting a treasure. You play until all wizards are dead - and the last wizard standing wins that round. You play a specific number of rounds depending on the number of players, which is cut short if any player gains an undefeatable advantage. For instance, in our 3-player game, we had to play four rounds, but the first player to win two of them won. Anyway - the game *is* entertaining. Especially since the rules require you to read the title of your spell "in character" - spells such as "Dr. Rooty-Bark's Brain-Exploding Death Wish". Fun little game.
7 --->Star Wars: Armada. Got to play this game with the guys. I taught the game - only teaching enough to get the game started. We were hamstrung at the start because we didn't have a large enough playing area - which is definitely going to be a drawback for this game. I had pre-designed two lists to play, but the small game area all-but-guaranteed that the Empire would win, since the Rebels were designed around maneuver, which a board 50% of the size would not allow. So, going into it pretty much knowing that the Rebels didn't have a prayer, I explained the rules and we played anyway. The Empire won, but we got to really get into the mechanics and the small area of space really allowed us to pummel each other.
But by the end of the game (Round 4!) the Rebels has lost all their capital ships and the Empire had lost none. I really enjoyed the game a lot. The set-up and tear-down was a problem and I have to think about how I organize this game. For multi-player games, the game should be set-up before you have people over, I think. And my organization could do with some improvement.
I am still waiting to see if the game suffers from the X-Wing problem of what I saw as simply too many card combos that completely imbalance the game. When I play a game, I want the game to be won by the better player, not the guy who built the best list - that is, hopefully points-values are priced correctly. But since this has *never* been the case with any non-historical miniatures game I have *ever* played, I doubt it's the case. At that point, the question becomes whether or not there are other in-game mechanics that can mitigate that. One big one in SW:A is the scenario/objective card mechanic in which each game operates under one of twelve special cards that change the rules for that play of the game - and they run the gamut from "fly around the board and collect these obejctives" to "kill a specific enemy ship" to "get extra dice for your first shot" to "lay a minefield" - choosing the scenario might be help to minimize it.
I'm just concerned that a guy like me who wants to go play a "casual tournament" for fun doesn't have time to memorize a hundred different cards. I'd rather not have to memorize them, and instead know that they are all "pretty balanced". Warmachine was the worst game for this - just *hundreds* of special card effects that let pretty much every unit break the core rules in some way. So far, SW:A has some of that, but most of the special effects cards supplement the rules rather than outright change or ignore them: get additional engineering points, reroll an attack die, deactivate a squadron (so it can move twice), and so on.
Suffice to say that I enjoyed the game immensely, but I want to play it as it is meant to be played on a proper sized board.
My wife's favourite Carcassonne variant is The Castle, so last Sunday we had the means, motive, and opportunity to play, and we split a pair of games.
On Tuesday, we didn't have quorum for our RPG night so we played a pair of games of Around the World in 80 Days. This is a really really great little racing game. I'll be writing a review in the next couple weeks when time allows.
On Thursday, I hosted the weekly gaming night, and we played... Around the World in 80 Days. We managed to get three plays in from 7:30-10:30 with five of us.
I will confess that I made a mistake in teaching the game though - I taught that the game ends when the second last player gets to London. The actual rule says that the games ends at the end of the round in which the second last player gets to London.
I'm not sure the actual rule is better.
Nevertheless, this game was one I acquired a long time ago when my daughter was still too small to play board games because it came with French cards, and if I'd known how simply brilliant it is, I'd have been playing it, and a lot, a lot sooner.
This past week (through date of posting), these games continued: Thunder Alley, Pax Porfiriana, Cuba Libre, 1989
This past week, these games concluded: None
This past week, these games/accessories were acquired: None.
Combat Commander: Europe because I haven't played it nearly enough this year and I really need to do something about that. I may have to give live Vassal a shot.
This past week, these interesting things happened in my games and my life: 1. After a lengthy delay, partly due to a new enterprise HR management system being rolled out, my permanent appointment has finally been put into the system. Now, in practical terms is that I've been given a notification of consideration, but I won't be officially given my notice of appointment until I start the actual job, which will mostly likely be in the spring of 2016 once I complete my one year term in my current acting role. Isn't government fun?
2. Work related, I'm thinking about taking a three month leave of absence from my second job. It's only one day a month on a Saturday, but that means a quarter of my Saturdays are being eaten up and summer is coming and a lot of the weekends are already getting filled up. I'm still hemming and hawing about it. It's a retail job in a private wine boutique, and I do it for fun and not the money, and there are a few other perks too.
3. The Kelda is participating in a triathlon today, her second this year, and her first actual swim-bike-run one. The first one she missed the age cut off and so only did a swim-run.
4. The home made Nutella experiment didn't happen this past week, but I have all the ingredients for it. If there's time this afternoon, it will happen! If not, then this week for sure! The Kelda says she doesn't want to eat the real thing anymore because it contains palm oil, and the harvest of palm trees is killing habitat for orangutans (and other critters).
My copy of Tigris is in Canada. My BIL's copy is in my hands. On Friday night four Gents gathered to play it, the first game for all but me. I grow more enamoured of it every time I play, despite a pretty awful win/loss record. One of T&E's best aspects is its balance. On Friday, my dominance of the board was unmatched. The other three players discussed how to take me on in concert, the benefits of experience, etc. I was by all accounts the runaway winner. Final score: 8-7-6-6. Spectacular.
One of our party was on the cusp of a cold and called it a night after Tigris. We started a game of San Juan, but another player got called away for a sick kid. With 2P left at the table, we played HTmF, which he grokked immediately and in fact borrowed to show his wife on the weekend. We shall see...
Kidlet and I played a variant of TtD on Sunday morning, with hidden water holes and a special rule with which you could place 3 camels instead of two IF you were holding the magic blue pyramid. He held it a lot and won 151-126. A note about scoring: Kidlet and I have started using Keep Score (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nolanlawso...) in many of our games. Before we play we program the keys, but he likes to tinker with that in-game, choosing "+1+2+2" instead of simply "+5" as often as not. It's his most-requested app even when not gaming.
PBEM Still chugging along in Eastern Europe with Roger and Wendell, looking forward to some action in Cuba as well.
Acquisitions I'm still committed to buying nothing in 2015 until Secret Santa season. But the Canada math trade last week offered up too much goodness. I missed out on Finca , but managed to trade:
Biblios for 3 sets of Timeline cards: Discoveries, Inventions, and Historical Events. I already own Scripts and Scribes, so going out was a duplicate. I already own Discoveries, so I'm gifting that to the fine friends who had borrowed Biblios and are shipping it out for me.
I also traded Iron Dragon for The Road to Canterbury. I had wanted to get another Crayon Rails game for it, but 2 years of looking had yielded no results. Alf Seegert's a designer whose work I want to try, and TRtC is right up my literary alley.
8WeyKick 8Geistertreppe - Played a full 6 player of this using the expansion, Flaschengeist. I'm not a fan of the bottle, but I do like the confusion that results from having so many players. I almost instantly gave up on remembering who I was. 7SET - An impressive game of Set - it was hard to keep cards on the table, set was being called so often (and so quickly) 8Schildi Schildkröte 7Schildkrötenrennen 9The Resistance 10Nertz x2 7Midnight Party - I love the illustration on the board. If the ghost was not named Hugo, I would have to adjust my rating downward, since yelling out "Hugoooo!" is half of what makes the game so fun. 8Loopin' Louie 10Liar's Dice x2 7Indigo x2 - I really enjoy the pseudo-team aspect of the game. Creating conflict between players is fun, and a team mechanism is a great way to do it. 8Hide & Seek Safari 6Hare & Tortoise - I enjoyed this much more than the last time I played. Still not something I would choose to play all the time, but when played lightheartedly it's much better. Otherwise it's like solving equations. 7Guess Who? x3 7Big Boggle 9Anomia: Party Edition - Who knew that Seinfeld qualifies as a 80's TV show? The highlight of the game for me was answering "Bono" as an answer against a friend that idolizes U2. He declared that I deserved to win the game due to my use of the B-word. 8River Dragons - The newer version looks better, but I'm not sure the components are better than the original, as each time it's really hard to keep everything balanced. I would love to have one of the mega versions that Matagot created, with the huge metal dragon start player marker. 7Machi Koro x2 - The way the game starts so slowly is beginning to annoy me. The second half is fun, but the first half is very boring. 9Loony Quest x2 - I have concluded that Doodle Quest is a better game for kids, but as long as all players have moderate dexterity, this version is better. 8Kakerlakenpoker Royal - even better than the original, though I'm not sure it's worth owning both. 8Coup 7Gulo Gulo N/APokémon Trading Card Game
Just as Cannes finished up last week, one of the other big events I follow each year, Google I/O, took place this week. I watched the whole 2.5 hour keynote address with fervent interest. I wasn't necessarily wowed by anything they talked about, but I am definitely interested in the topics they discussed. Having already handed over my identity to Google, I would definitely admit that those that have stronger privacy concerns than me will most likely have issues with where Google is heading.
Every once in a while I like to review music to see what I've been missing. I've tuned out of the techno world for probably around a decade, but record shopping was always one of the best parts. Dance music record stores are great. There is real scarcity, stores will have different attitudes. DJs in the store will play certain records and people will get excited. Equal access to music isn't something you always find, sometimes certain things are only available to certain people. Arriving on shipment day is more exciting since you can check out the new stuff. Listening to new records is a tactile, participatory affair. The internet has really been an equalizing factor. I checked out the website Beatport this last week and was amazed at the depth of their selection and realized that there are huge chunks of music I have missed from artists I used to follow. I'm going to need to exercise some restraint as I try to catch up.
Not much gaming this weekend. We had another playtest session with Leonhard "Lonny" Orgler's new 18CZ on Friday. He totally revised the train mix, but after two hours, we aborted because it didn't work. Luckily, Lonny had set of alternative rules with him and we tried a second game with these. It worked fine. Probably this will be the final train mix and pricing. The map seems to be the final version now. The next thing to tinker with is the stock market. I guess Lonny still needs much more playtesting, also with his other groups! Here's an image of the final board of our second game:
We then tried another new game of Lonny (a card game, the topic is - you probably guess it - trains! This one is in its early development stages and still needs a lot of work!
We wanted to end the evening with something that doesn't include trains and we agreed on Love Letter. Oh boy, did I lose! I wasn't able to win a single heart, while the others scored round after round on the princess
Two new games entered my Gaming Dungeon. The first one is Too Many Cinderellas - a failed Kickstarter. It has been nevertheless produced and all Kickstarter backers were invited to order it at a discounted price. Seems to be a nice little card game in the Love-Letter-league.
I also found a fine offer from a German gamer on which I couldn't pass: a complete Hansa Teutonica set (with both expansions). I had to buy it! Although after reading the rules I suddenly remembered when it came out in 2009, I passed on it because the rules didn't convince me ... talk about déjá vu ... they don't convince me now either ...
The carpenter came by and filled up my living room with lots of stuff! We will get a new cupboard and shelves where the fish tank was and we also will get a new CD shelf with moving elements! I'm totally enthusiastic about this and will surely post some pictures here when it is finished! The work will start Monday morning (which is exactly now!) and will last until Wednesday. Our Sunday afternoon activity was to move 2,500 CDs, dismantle the old shelves and move them to the basement (where they will be used as game shelves ... YEAH!!! MOAR SPACE FOR MOAR GAMES!!!). Sorting the CDs back onto the new shelf will be our activity for the next weekend.
Nevertheless I managed to grill a little on Saturday (as the weather was fine), and I did a stuffed pork fillet (with onions, bacon, mustard and a ton of herbs), potatoe wedges and fresh salad (Lollo Rosso) from the garden as side dishes ... I tried this for the first time and I was totally pleased with the outcome! yummy, yummy, yummy!
Thunder Alley: Crew Chief Expansion - Coming soon to Kickstarter!
Evil lurks here!
10Claustrophobia x2 First two scenarios from Furor Sanguinis. Won both as Demon. This expansion brings a lot of fun to Claustrophobia as the Kartikaya adds variety in how it works. Not complicated to play, but very different from the demons and humans. N/AClick Clack Lumberjack x2 Two games with a friend. Excellent game with adults too. Last game I tried to go for the last two bark pieces to tie the score up, but ended up toppling almost the whole three. -27 points for me. N/APitchCar x2 Two races with a friend. N/ADeus A three-player game with Ingmar and Erik. Erik was new to the game and as such was never in contention. I lost to Ingmar by two points. A good eurogame. 8Flash Point: Fire Rescue Submarine with Ingmar and Erik. We lost to a collapse. This map is harder than many of the others. N/AMemoir '44 Cut of the Cotentin frm CB#2. A cool Breakthrough scenario where I as the Allies took the win 10-5. My opponent failed to consentrate his defence, so I was able to pick of the Germans one by one and work my way to the top of the map and hold a town hex which I had to to be able to win. N/ASubdivisionNEW! Similar to Suburbia and Mad King. Three player game with Ingmar and Erik and I took the win 125, 120,118. I liked this one better than Suburbia, but still think Mad King is the best of the three.
Tuesday to Thursday at the hospital for checkups. Looks to have ruled out all the serious things, which is good. Now the next thing is to find out where we go from here to find out why she is tired and not ok.
Writing this from the hospital while daughter attende school here. Part of the checkups is observation.
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation"
I'm still alive!...though very tired.
Cati and I landed last night and I spent most of today cleaning the house and getting my course materials prepped. Classes start tomorrow so its not a moment to soon. The trip was characteristically zany, filled with enough logistical puzzles to darken the brow of a seasoned Roads and Boats player. We spent a lot of time in the midwest, got to visit friends in 7 cities, and even managed to relax just a little. That said, traveling with a toddler is tough. We're thinking of taking Owen to London because he'll still fly for free when the fall rolls around, but the thought is not a little intimating (granted, we'll likely have a grandmother or two to help with the baby).
Okay, 'nuff of that, let's talk about the games. As with most trips home, I managed a lot of game-playing. Here are the totals:
x18 The Witness x12 Race for the Galaxy x8 Pairs x5 Printing Press Prototype x5 Pax Pamir x3 Time Agent x2 So Long Sucker x1 Die Macher x1 1889
As you can see, The Witness was a huge hit. It made friends with just about every game group we played with. It's all a lot of silly nonsense, but the game is wonderful. Tommy, I may be sending you my copy before too long at the rate we're tearing through the scenarios.
The second place goes to Race for the Galaxy. My feelings on the game continue to be lukewarm, but I packed it along to study it and it saw lots of play. I continue to learn from it even if I find myself sometimes zoning-out while I play.
A couple of the groups we played with were fond of Pairs. It's short and sweet and neat. I curious about what the game would be like if played slowly.
I was asked to bring along Pax Pamir. It had been a month or two since my last games and I was excited to play it again. I'm happy to report that it played well . I was still filled with the desire to tinker but that window has very much passed. I'm very happy with how it played, especially at the larger player counts.
Probably the highlight of the trip was the game Time Agent. I played it a few times with the same group and boooyyy howdy what a riot it is! I could see it really being a nightmare if played with a slow group but, if played briskly and with the scoring app, it moves along like a dream. I can't imagine it will get much play in Austin, but I don't think I'd ever turn it down. The universe is quirky and perfectly realized, and, with all of your charts laid out before you, the game is remarkably immersive.
Lastly we played a few rounds of So Long Sucker in honor of John Nash. It's a odd game, very mean and very interesting.
Other Notes: PBF. I suspect its my impulse in Cuba Libre. I'll get to that as soon as I finish classes tomorrow. For here on out I should be able to be quite regular in my play.
Weird Acquisitions and Collection Shuffling. I'm in the process of trimming down my collection by quite a chunk. Part of this process involves me making trades that usually offer quantity for quality. In these I've managed to snag a copy of Symbioz, Die Macher (Mosquito), Grant Takes Command, and Prete-a-Porte. I don't think I've ever had so many enticing unplayed games! Still, everything looks to be on schedule for 40% reduction.
GCACW Chris's and Patrick's enthusiasm has convinced me to give the series a go. I'm got a local player interested in learning with me. It's been awhile since I got into a serious wargame and I'm feeling good about taking the plunge.
Sherlock Holmes I've got a tad bit of store credit left locally and I'm thinking about picking up Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. I've watched part of a game and I've long thought it'd be a good fit for Cati and I and maybe a couple of our graduate student friends. We'll see.
Summer Fitness Cati and I are ready to loose some weight and get ourselves back in shape. Starting now we're cutting out most sugar and I'm pledging to swim or bike every day. With a bike commute that won't be to hard to manage, but it'll get hard once summer temperatures get into the 100s. We'll also try to walk to get groceries etc.
The Great Flood You may have heard that there was extreme flooding in Texas. Cati and I more-or-less missed it, but the damage is visible. Our local pool, Barton Springs is normally a calm and cool oasis. Here's what it was like after the rain:
Despite the damage, the flood was well-received. For the first time since I moved to Austin, nearly five years ago, Travis County is no longer in a drought.