GCL Gelato 307 - But, is it art . . .
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What is a Game Chat League?

A Game Chat League is a weekly discussion-group format for people who love gaming and enjoy talking about games. It is intended to foster depth and familiarity, producing engaging content and worthwhile interaction. Members get to know one another, establish shared interests, and generally develop a friendly and productive environment.

Of necessity, each division of GCL is kept relatively small (typically between 12-16 members, though individual divisions may incline one way or the other). A tight-knit discussion group tends to function more smoothly than a free-for-all. It allows individuals to be heard and understood, and for each participant to keep up and enjoy multiple topics as the week progresses. The format is geeklist-based, and lists are not published to the BGG front page.

Policy: If you're a lurker or have otherwise discovered GCL Gelato, feel free to read along with us and see what the members have to say on everything under the sun. If you have a constructive comment or something else you think would add to the discussion, consider posting it — if it's helpful, respectful, and polite to the discussion group as a whole, as well as to its individual members.

On His Own


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At The Water Cooler

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Parody Polka as a genre - is it art?

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1. Board Game: Bug [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
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What is art? Do you consider game design as art?

I love to read rulebooks. I honestly think it is a big cause of the number of games filling up my apartment. Often just reading the rules of a game, seeing how the moving parts interact, is worth the price of entry for me.

But this is only the first step. The game must also survive contact with the players, and player interactions are in many cases even more important than mechanical interactions. The art of design is in the complex interplay of mechanical and player interaction.

Similar to accepted art forms (think painting) I can at times acknowledge the worth of a design without personally loving a game. For example, I think the outbreak / epidemic interplay in Pandemic is genius, but I don't especially enjoy playing the game . . .

The genre of games that I most enjoy playing is also the genre where I am most involved in analyzing the designs - Combinatorial Abstract Strategy Games. In exploring the nominations for Best 2017 Combinatorial Game I have taken a closer look at Bug, and have been admiring the design. I find the interplay on the board, the growing and eating and growing again, beautiful and am happy to define the design as art.

As such I am more than happy to define a designer an artist. (Yes, even Knizia . . .)

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2. Board Game: Games of Art [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
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Which games create art on the table?

My wife loves games where something is created on the table by the end of play, starting way back when with Carcassonne. Many of the "multi-player solitaire" games - NMBR 9, Cities, Take it Easy!, etc. - also create interesting contrasts from a single path.

Again, for me, Abstract Strategy games often leave the most beautiful patterns on the board, although it tends to be more "placing" games rather than my preferred "facing" games which leave such a mark.

While I can think of examples of Euros which leave a pretty after image, I'm having a harder time with Ameritrash - anyone have any suggestions? How about Wargames - does the afterimage tell a story, or does the explicit narrative in these types of game overwhelm the pretty by game end?
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3. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:288]
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There are many games about art. Which is your favorite?

Is a game about illustrating illuminated manuscripts a game about art? If so, Biblios / Scripts and Scribes / Scriptorium is top of my heap. If not, it's Modern Art.

In either case my favorite art game is at heart an auction game. Does the theme in this case lend itself to the mechanic?
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4. Board Game: Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination – Death by Genre [Average Rating:5.86 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.86 Unranked]
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What is you favorite art genre?

I love the artistry of musicians. I love the artistry of authors. Rock, musical theater, literature are all high on my list of "favorite arts."

I enjoy fine art - painting, sculpture and the like - but my explorations are limited. I like what I like, but couldn't necessarily tell you why (or even what).

But my favorite art genre is one it turns out I have been unknowingly studying since I was a child devouring weekly issues of The Beano, daily strips of Peanuts.

My favorite genre is Comic Book Art.

I love that I can see the process, from pencils to inks, colors and letters. I love that it is a market that I can be a part of, that I can own original pages without having to pay ludicrous amounts of money. And I love that in this social media age, the creators are so accessible and responsive to their fans.

Despite the mess made when the company folding, despite the stories of creators going unpaid, I will be forever grateful to CrossGen Comics for making me aware that original comic art pages were things that could be owned and setting me on the path of one more hobby . . .
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5. Board Game: Koi Pond: Four Walls [Average Rating:6.89 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.89 Unranked]
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Do you surround yourself with art? What's on your walls?

Ignore my wall of DVDs. The cubby of vinyl records. The shelves (and shelves) of books. The framed photos of our wedding. Even the piles of games. Let's look at the *art* . . .

There are showcards, posters of the plays Johanna produced or directed or starred in as Artistic Director of Ergo Theatre Company. Prints depicting the regions of Sonoma wine country, showcasing all of the Peanuts kids signed by Jeannie Schulz, New Yorker cover postcards featuring the Guggenheim Museum, Broadway showcards for Lilly Tomlin's Search For Intelligent Life . . ., Stoppard's Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern . . ., Sondheim's Follies, as well as You're A Good Man Charlie Brown.

There's also my Hilinski Crokinole board, and a handful of paintings by my old drinking buddy, Billy The Artist.

The first two pairs of comic book pages are in the bedroom - two George Perez CrossGen Chronicles, and two uninked David Finch Wonder Woman pages.



The living room has three Terry Moore pages, one from Rachel Rising, one from Echo, one from Strangers In Paradise.



Dining room has a Jamal Igle Firestorm page, a Jimmy Cheung Young Avengers page, and one of my favorite moments in Books of Magic by Peter Gross. (There is also a fully painted Molly O'Reilly in Boo's room, also by Peter.)



Many of the comic pages are in top loading frames, so they can be switched out easily. I have a bunch of other pages that sometimes hit the walls, like a Duncan Fegredo Enigma spread, or the Scion page from Jimmy Cheung which started the whole thing.

I'll likely rearrange the whole thing again after the next ComicCon in October . . .
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6. Board Game: Table Battles [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:5052]
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This is the week that was:


 7   Titan x3 (29 all-time) iOS
I've been playing a lot of Titan online. It might become my most played game this year at the rate I'm going.

 9   Terraforming Mars (48 all-time) w TNC
One of the TNC had never played so we taught him in a classic 5p corporate game. He won of course. I never could get anything going and came in dreadfully last.

 7   Downforce (11 all-time) w TNC
We cleaned up the night with a single race. It's a great game.

 7   ブレンドコーヒーラボ (Blend Coffee Lab.) NEW! ww
On Friday, my wife and I cracked this open at the pub and played it. It's a neat little combo trick-taker + set-collector - you need to play coffee cards in one of four suits (colours) from 1-10, that in turn need to be put into one of three possible sets (light, medium, or dark roast), and there's a twist that depending which colour is key this round you want to play high cards or low cards, but you also get bonus points in your coffee when you play same values. A nice little brain burner and I liked it a lot. I think it would be even better at a full four players, but still...

 6   Catan Dice Game (16 all-time) ww
We then had a game of this, which hadn't seen the table in quite some time. It's a fun little pastime.

 10   Twilight Struggle (378 all-time) Playdek

 7   Table Battles x4 NEW! w Allan
My friend Allan (who's one of the founders of North Quarter Games) came over while our daughters were at DIY camp with my wife and we cracked open this game that I've been desperate to get to the table!

What an awesome little charmer. Any given battle will take 10-20 minutes. We played 3 different scenarios, including playing the War of the Roses one twice because we overlooked a rule about reserves coming into play once a unit routs. It's light, yes, but really refreshing, and a really nice design. It's one of those games that you think "Oh, this is really simple, I could have designed it", and then of course immediately realizing that "no, no I could not have."

 9   Manoeuvre (42 all-time) w Allan
After our table battle bouts, I taught Allan this one, which remains one of my favourite games that I can't get people to play with me. We played with two of the expansion factions - India and China. I liked what they brought to the game.

Manoeuvre is one of those funny games that sits in between genres. It's not abstract, although you can arguably point to its chess style elements of having an 8x8 set of squares with orthogonal only movement. It's not a wargame, although it does have military factions of the Napoleonic era with differentiated capabilities. It has dice (luck! luck! luck!) and cards.

But for me it's a very comfortable game that nicely scratches the itch I get to play something like chess without the need to find an evenly matched opponent - by which I mean, I'm a complete patzer at chess, and unless I find someone equally inept it won't be fun for either of us.

 6   The Rose King (18 all-time) w Tommy
I was close to breaking Tommy's winning streak... so close...

 7   Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers (32 all-time) wf
The Kelda, my wife, and I played this last night. The Kelda has clearly been watching my strategy because she absolutely waxed both of us with a clever quick points on forests, completing our nugget forests to grab special tiles, and a solid fishing/hunting strategy to balance it out.

I'm so proud!

What's going on:
Gloomhaven: We're going to play later today once the homework has been caught up on. The Kelda has had an awfully heavy homework load as the term comes to a close and GH has simply not been in the cards. We would have played yesterday, but by the time we got through dinner etc. it was 9pm and too late.

Port tasting: One of the reasons dinner was so late was that I went to one of the Vancouver International Wine Festival events - a port tasting put on by Dow, one of the world's largest port producers.

Left to right:
bottom row - 2011 late bottle vintage, 2015 Quinta de Senhora da Ribeira, 2006 Quinta do Bomfim.
top row - vintage ports from 2011, 2003, 2000, 1985, 1970


I love port, and the effects of my bronchitis cum cold had sufficiently gone away that I could go enjoy this event. Robert Symington, one of the five family members that owns/runs Dow was there to talk about the history of port and of course their take on port, and to sign bottles. My favourites were the 2003 and the 2015 Quinta. Of the latter they only made 700 cases (contrast with 5000 cases of the 2011. The shop where the tasting was held had the 2006 Quinta, 2000, and 1985 available. I bought some of the first two. The 1985 was distinguished by being the first port where North America bought more than the UK did.

BGG Con: I'm thinking of coming this year. We'll see what the budget says. Still coming in 2019.
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7. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:56]
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My gaming this past week was very limited. All 2-player games.

Patchwork (x1): Taught a friend how to play and it was looking good for me until I was one button short for the perfectly shaped piece for my quilt.
It then got passed over, and nothing else would fit onto my board. I lost by 5 points.

Tally Ho! (x1): Sometimes you need a little luck to go your way, and I was able to overcome a subpar opening round with a strong final round. Victory was mine!

Backgammon (x3): After winning the first game (doubled), my buddy clawed it back by gammoning me on the next game. So we needed a rubber match, and I prevailed. Yeah me!
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8. Board Game: The Third Man [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
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Hello, it is I again. Back for my third Gelato entry!






Boardgame week:

Last week was once again free of board games. Friday evening though I finally managed to pick up my game of Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain that has been sitting on the dinner table for nearly a week. I picked up playing where the tutorial ended and played for another Epoch. (My understanding is that this is what constitutes the short scenario.) The Britons (blue) managed to hold on to (barely) enough population under their control to let them win. I was happy that I managed to finish the game and was considering to start a new game right away, but opted to play Cuba Libre instead to see how it compares. Turns out I had only played it once before shelving it which made Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain not only my second COIN game, but also my second play of a COIN game. shake
I was astonished at how different the games feel even though they share the same core mechanics. Let's hope I'll be able to finish Cuba Libre before the next weekend.

Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain
solo, I won


finally finished
the short scenario
Cuba Libre
solo, incomplete

Game of the Week
I tend to play all factions,
running bots seems less fun to me


















Song playing right now:








Yesterday, 6 years ago (But, is it art...):







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9. Board Game: Tokyo Highway [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:2952]
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I haven't posted in a couple weeks. Two weeks ago we went on the JoCo Cruise out of San Diego. I had heard of it before, but didn't know anything about Jonathan Coulton. There was a host of minor celebrities that I hadn't heard of before, except for Wil Wheaton and Maria Bamford. A friend loaned a ton of games to their game library. It was a very friendly group of people with varied interests, games being only one of them. I greatly enjoyed the stops in La Paz and Loreto, the scenery and beaches were spectacular. My wife went swimming with whale sharks. We saw quite a few dolphins and whales. On the boat I heartily enjoyed the food, which was uniformly excellent, and unending. The biggest adjustment afterward was not eating every 90 minutes. I was impressed at how much there was to do on the ship, and how much of the fun was user-generated. One guy created a sort of Pokemon Go type experience, distributing little 3d-printed Pokemon all over the ship. Someone put up nonsensical signs everywhere that looked almost official enough to be real (such as "Caution: Do not fall down elevator shaft". While I didn't go to any of the shows, they were supposed to be good.

I had the idea of taking a couple hours and playing through some of the garbage that the cruise has in its collection, mainly just American kickstarter style party games that have come in the wake of Cards Against Humanity. I'm glad I got to try these, though they were all pretty terrible as games.



 N/A   Jump Drive x9 - My kids really took to Jump Drive and we played it quite a bit on the cruise. My plan is to eventually shift to playing Race for the Galaxy. But for right now I definitely enjoy this one.

 8   Splendor x6 - They also loved Splendor. There was a ton of Splendor being played on the boat, with quite a few people using the expansions. While I haven't yet played any of the expansions, I look forward to giving them a try.

 10   One Night Ultimate Werewolf x5 - This was another hit with the family, even if they don't totally grasp the strategies just yet.

 N/A   Spaceteam x3 NEW!
 N/A   Spaceteam: NSFS Expansion x3 NEW! - Spaceteam is a really fun social game to play on your phone. I can see why someone thought it would be a fun idea to try to make a physical version, but it just isn't all that fun. I would never choose to play this over the mobile game, which I highly recommend to all.

 9   Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition x3 - These plays were all at school. The students really enjoy this. I've toyed with trying to start a competitive league among different high schools. I'm not sure how that would work, but it would definitely be fun to try.

 8   Crappy Birthday x2 - Another one I haven't played for a while, but dug out on the ship. The kids really enjoyed it. One thing that was notable was that I don't think I got a single point in either of these games.

 10   Dominion x2 - We had to play my friend's deluxe wooden box with all the expansions packed in there. One of these was a Grand Market-based blowout, but the other one was a real slog. Both fun!

 N/A   Onitama x2 - I noticed that there is a new mobile app implementation of this, which seems like a great idea. This is a fun little 2-player game.

 N/A   Secret Hitler x2 - There was a ton of Secret Hitler being played on the boat. I played a few games with strangers, which was interesting, if a little frustrating.

 N/A   Tokyo Highway x2 NEW! - Pro Tip: Do not try to play Tokyo Highway on a table with a table cloth, especially if the crease goes right down the middle of the table. Pro Tip 2: Do not try to play Tokyo Highway on a ship that is rocking back and forth.

 N/A   Action Cats! NEW! - This game is a complete rip-off of the whole Apples to Apples type thing, but if you are a cat person, it might not be all that bad. Imagining each cat say some silly phrase is somewhat enjoyable.

 N/A   Axio NEW! - It is surprising how much the change from hexagons to octagons affects the game. I look forward to trying this more. This is not the first time Knizia has changed an already established game by introducing octagons instead of hexagons.

 N/A   Bears vs Babies NEW! - It both surprises and disappoints me that a game like this was so successful on Kickstarter. My friend that taught the game pointed out that a lot of people are fans of the art, which I can understand. But as a game this is really terrible.

 7   Ciao, Ciao... - We were all a little too tired to make this work well, but my youngest won, which was fun.

 8   Dr. Eureka - Out of all of the "Dr" games that Fraga has made, this one is still probably the best.

 N/A   Gämsh Alpin NEW! - I was happy to finally get this to the table, although it seems like the game You've Got Crabs completely ripped this one off - they are nearly identical.

 8   HeartSwitch - I don't like the Witches artwork, but I don't like the HeartSwitch cardstock. A mixture of the two would be best. HeartSwitch also wins the award for most ridiculous scorepad I've ever seen.

 N/A   Joking Hazard NEW! - I've never played Cards Against Humanity, but I imagine that it's something like this. Just stupid, I can't believe that people enjoy playing this.

 N/A   Kill the Overlord NEW! - Awful game that had the added downside of being too long. Just terrible.

 8   Kingdom Builder - Every time I play Kingdom Builder I think to myself, "I should play this more!"

 N/A   Kingdomino - Fun to see the different strategies my kids employed.

 7   Machi Koro - It was amazing how lopsided my son's victory was on this game, it wasn't even close.

 N/A   Majesty: For the Realm - I still enjoy this one, but additional play is confusing me. What is the right way to play this? I'm just not sure at all.

 N/A   Monikers NEW! - I always wanted to try this, but am glad I didn't buy it. This is a complete rip-off of Time's Up, with the added downside of having cards that are obviously made to engender risque gestures and innuendo. Dumb.

 N/A   Movie Buff NEW! - A good idea, but still a terrible game. Especially if not everyone has seen the same movies.

 N/A   Noisy Person Cards NEW! - Stupid game, waste of time

 N/A   Roll For It! NEW! - Is that really all there is to this game? It's kind of fun, but I'm not sure if this even qualifies as a game.

 N/A   Sagrada - This was played a little too late for everyone. I saw quite a few people playing it on the cruise. I kind of like it, but would agree that it's a little bit boring.

 7   Skull - Played during dinner.

 8   Speed Cups
 7   Sushi Go!

 8   Unusual Suspects - Taught this to a group of people, seemed to go over pretty well.

 8   Wits & Wagers Family

 N/A   You've Got Crabs NEW! - Stupid game, a complete ripoff of Gaemsh Alpin. I assume they're both ripping off some public domain parlor game, but like many of these American games, I suspect that half of the "fun" is yelling, "You've got crabs!" if you think that is funny.

On the movie front, I watched Black Panther and Peter Rabbit. I thought both of them were boring.
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10. RPG Item: Pathfinder #006: Spires of Xin-Shalast [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:3008]
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GAME WEEK

 10   Elder Sign x2
 6   Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
 6   This War of Mine: The Board Game NEW!
 7   Bloodborne: The Card Game NEW!
 7   One Deck Dungeon x2 NEW!

Two more games of Elder Sign. This is still one of our favorites.

Friday night RPG saw the death of another Halfling Sorcerer … *sigh* … and it wasn’t even a heroic death. I was alone in a room and used my knife to poke in a pile of bones looking for something useful, when suddenly they animated and ten skeleton Dwarf warriors jumped me. “Ugh”.

Saturday was a different experience: This War of Mine: The Board Game (although death was also involved). If you ever want to play a real hard coop, then I’d suggest this one. We were beaten up, sick to the bones and the mood of our characters was below the basement. And we froze to death. Wow. What a game. However, this one really lacks a good developer. Great ideas, great theme, but way too fiddly components and gameplay. Also, I played the German version and the translation is a joke. Outright bad. Sounds like a German dubbed movie. “Ugh” again. Nevertheless, the game had some great ideas, and I would absolutely play it again!

After that, we played a lighter card game (but also a video game adaption): Bloodborne: The Card Game. This was really fun (although the graphics are very dark in this game too), but we all enjoyed beating up monsters (and doing collateral damage to our fellow players).

On Sunday Andrea and I tried out One Deck Dungeon, a smallish card game about dungeon exploring and finally facing a boss monster. We had some troubles with the rulebook, but I guess we played it right in the end. Maybe I’ll check some videos here on the Geek to confirm a few things. This is a light dungeon crawler and it’s a lot of fun, but it also seems to be very hard to win. We tried it two times, and died horribly. But we will try again.



NEW GAMES

Shiny, shiny, shiny! Some new games entered my collection!

At first, there’s Elder Sign: Omens of the Pharaoh, the latest expansion. And then, finally, Eldritch Horror: Masks of Nyarlathotep. We immediately cracked the box open, but after reading through the rules, a little disappointment set in. Yes, we got more content: more monsters, more investigators, more Ancient Ones, and more cards. But the promised campaign game is … erm … nice at best. In fact, a disappointment. Come on, FFG, you surely can do better than that! Also, the personal stories for the investigators don’t add anything significant to the game, except fiddliness. However, the Resources mechanic is a nice addition, but in the end, I got a small box expansion for the price of a big box expansion …

I already wrote about One Deck Dungeon. Fluxx Promo Cards was a free promo I added to the base game.

I also couldn’t resist ordering the Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Reprint Edition), even if it won’t ever hit the table. I know Wendell likes this one a lot, so it surely is a great game!

Space Empires: Replicators just for completeness. And then there is Meeple Circus … that sounds like a lot of fun! I watched Efka’s video about the game, and I immediately wanted it. Let’s see how my group responds to such a game …


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11. Board Game: Void 1.1 [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:9547]
EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
United States
Folsom
CA
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Nothing this week, but have moved into our new little house. Am simultaneously excited and a bit peeved as little Anina's teeth broke through and she managed to slice my finger. They're tiny little razor blades!!!!!

But yes, SOON. Am particularly craving some card gaming.
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12. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:48] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Avri
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Brooklyn
New York
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Last week's gaming:



 8   Button Men x5
 8   Bug x2 NEW!
 7   Nertz x2
 8   Azul x2

Yup. I am back in audit hell. Hope to be back amongst those with a life by the end of May . . .
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13. Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 [Average Rating:8.66 Overall Rank:2]
Nikki Ebright
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Centennial
Colorado (CO)
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 7   Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (8 all-time)

GAMES
At some point in the recent past, we had our original 4 players - and no more - in the house and played another month of Pandemic Legacy. I think we're in July. Two and a half years of sporadic playing and we've made it 7 months, lol.

CON
WhimsyCon was this past weekend. Billy is still doing the numbers but it looks like we'll be close to in the black, which is generally considered a financial success for a first year event. We were at a hotel we hadn't used before, a Hyatt Regency, and it was quite nice. The food is very good, and very expensive (like twice what we pay at the Ramada), so we've got thousands of $$s of charges for that, sigh. Next year we'll probably do less food.

Good news is that there's been a lot of positive buzz, so next year we should have no trouble meeting and exceeding our hotel block. Hurray for that! And I spent a lot of the weekend training up Julie who will be the con chair for next year. Oh! And I may have a con chair for MALCon 2019, which is super awesome, and that would leave me with only HexaCon to chair, and I'm really ok with this.

NONPROFIT
Our chair of the board stepped down this week, and off the board too. He's been feeling tension and like he's not with everyone else, and stuff and things (not elaborating at the moment), but he wrote a nice email and I think it's a good and healthy choice for everyone. He's currently working on focusing on his writing, and I think this will give him more free mental space to focus on that.

MOVING
Three conventions down, one to go, so now it's time to focus on that one and the move to Europe. We're planning on following Tommy's recommendation of finding an agent to help us find a rental place - so Tommy, if you have any suggestions of who or how to find a reputable person for Arnhem, let me know!

We leave the US August 10th, arriving on August 11th, and plan to get started with DAFT paperwork as quickly as we can. It has to begin with having residence documents, so that's step one. Then we can get a national ID number, then this, then that, yadda yadda.

We checked with the Immigration folks (IND) and they said, yes, I can start my website before arriving, so it's up! I've posted my first blog post and I'm starting to actually tell people about it.

www.NikkiAbridged.com

My plan is to post once per week, so I'll try to let y'all know when I get something up.

Ok, I think that's the biggest news over the last 2 weeks. Hope everyone has been good, and wow, crazy about the break-in, Tommy! Glad to hear you all are alright.
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