- It's a a sophisticated push-your-luck game with a plethora of scoring options.
- The design of the game is splendid - from the variable board to the tile holder complete with cover.
- The phrase I used on my BGG comment was "It's light without being lightweight."
- Played at a nice clip, it's delightful. (However, I can imagine the torture of playing this game with someone slow & ponderous - sigh.)
Monday, July 31, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
- Gulf Games started early for Joe Huber & I as we winged our way across the U.S. playing 2 player games
- some less-than-stellar behavior by ground personnel at Chicago O'Hare added substantially to our travel time
- Ted doesn't snore nearly as bad as he thinks he does (thanks again to Ted for allowing me to be his roomie)
- I got to play a lot of new (or, at least, new to me) games (sample: Thurn & Taxis, the SdJ winner for 2006)
- I got to play a lot of games I really like (sample: Around the World In 80 Days)
- I got to play games with a lot of people (78 - enough for me to win the Mr. Friendly contest again)
- then there were the "special" events, like the Allied revenge for last year's drubbing by the Axis in Memoir '44: Overlord... or the great game of Descent: Journeys in the Dark we played on Friday morning with Lug (Kevin R), The Old Man (Greg S), The Human Bomb (Kyle B) and "You Go First!" (Alan Moon)
- and the nightly sports gaming, courtesy of The Weather Channel's Warren Madden: two games of Pizza Box Football (I lost both of those) and two games of Dynasty League Baseball (1-1)
- I made the finals of the Liar's Dice tourney... again. (Have I won? Did I win this time? Read the blog, people!)
- I enjoyed officiating my Dice Box of Mystery competition... congrats to David Vander Ark, who walked away with the win over the two other finalists, Craig Berg & Ed "I Can Do Hand Motions But I Can't Remember the Game" Rozmiarek
- speaking of the Rozmiarek clan, enjoying them (and John Palaygi) after everyone else had departed
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
- I "talked" (thanks to G-chat) to Joe Huber yesterday... and it turns out that he & I are on the same flights from San Francisco - O'Hare - Louisville tomorrow. Which means that Gulf Games will start earlier than planned - and my whole "I'll sleep on the plane" plan is pretty much toasted. (I'm looking forward to time with Joe - he's not only a savvy game designer, what with Scream Machine & Ice Cream published - but he's also a good friend.)
- "[Pastors must be careful to] run as fast as our character is deepening and not as fast as our talent is expanding... Run as fast as your character goes deep and not as a fast as your talent goes wide." (Erwin McManus on the Catalyst podcast)
- Just finished reading the Astro City: Local Heroes trade paperback... once again, if you have any background in reading super-hero comics, you should not miss out on the incredible world Kurt Busiek has created - these stories are possibly the best comics has to offer right now.
- "The cavalry is here. Of course the cavalry is a scared guy with a rock." (Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
- Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to start a new series of posts here on the blog - I want to write about the music that's been the "soundtrack of my life."
- Had a great time playing games yesterday with Braeden & his best buddy, Canaan. They managed to knock me around at Mouse Trap, Jurassic Park: Lost World, Hisss & Toy Story: Toys Away! Yes, I understand it's not Caylus, Goa or Die Macher - but you really can't beat having a good time with your son... even with a "meaty" game.
- "I wanted to play 'Mousetrap.' You roll your dice, you move your mice. Nobody gets hurt." (Bob the Tomato from The Toy That Saved Christmas)
Monday, July 17, 2006
- sleep a lot on the three different flights I'll "enjoy" on Wednesday (Fresno - San Francisco - Chicago O'Hare - Louisville)
- go to bed by 2 am on Wednesday night
- pace myself so that I'm not a complete wreck by Saturday afternoon ("Pace? What is this pace you speak of? I am not familiar with the concept of, how you say, pace?")
- sleep a lot on the three different flights I'll "enjoy" on Monday (Louisville - Chicago O'Hare - Los Angeles - Fresno)
Sunday, July 16, 2006
B. with a 15 month old, rules are kind of a foreign concept (as is "don't put that in your mouth" and "please stop throwing your food to indicate that you have finished eating.")
Still, it was really fun to set out a game and have both of my boys join me at the table. I'm looking forward to this being a regular thing for the three of us.
Later in the morning, Braeden & I ended up playing my newest trade acquisition (thanks to the Bazaar at BGG), Jurassic Park: The Lost World Game. (More on that in another post!) While we played, Collin sat in his high chair & played with "his" dice. Yes, my Secret Plan For Creating A Third Gamer In My Family is working out just fine.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
- Carabande was insanely popular... I set up a track with 2 basic sets & 1 action set. (Aaron then spent a half hour "tuning" it... using slips of paper as shims to smooth out the surface.) There was never more than a 5 minute lull at the Carabande table... it was played the entire two days.
- Diamant was also a hit... invariably, we would teach/play a game with a group of kids, who would promptly ask if they could play it again. We left Diamant out on the table both days and it saw regular play. (I also participated in my first game of Diamant in which we RAN OUT of diamonds... talk about your big money games!) [Note: Diamant, which has been overpriced in the original German edition, will be released here in America as Inca Gold later this year. The $15.00 MSRP is much more reasonable!]
- The third game that saw nearly constant play was Blokus... a bit of a surprise, considering that it's best with 4 players and a bit slower in speed. Of course, the primary Blokus players were adults.
- Jungle Speed also went over well. It wasn't played constantly, but it was easy to get a game started. (I also witnessed the most physical game of Arriba/Jungle Speed I've ever seen... they played that the stick was "live" even when it went off the table. So when it bounced under the table, there went three football player-looking guys after it. Yikes!)
- We had good success with Igloo Pop, though the level of noise in the convention area made hearing the rattle a bit difficult.
- Circus Flohcati was another game that I enjoyed teaching to several groups - and one junior high kid fell in love with it and taught all of his friends.
- There was one youth leader that somehow sat through the rules explanation to Saboteur - then gathered his youth group & taught it to them. Success... though a surprise to me. (It's a very "gamer-y" filler game.)
- I tried to avoid OOP games (OK, I did bring Carabande), but I knew from long experience that Tohu Wabohu works like a charm with students. It didn't fail me this time - the group I taught it to played 3 times in a row.
- I also brought two of my Christmas gift games from my wife, Ice Cream & Fjords. Both went over well with the groups we taught them to. (Fjords was actually taught to a pair of guys during a very slow period on the 2nd evening.)
- Take 6 (well, Category 5) didn't work well at all - which surprised me to no end. I've always found this game easy to grasp & teach. But I think the combination of inexperienced non-gamers & convention hall background distractions kept this one from clicking.
- Villa Paletti was also a bust - I just didn't take into account how long it takes to grok the rules to this one. Yes, it looks cool, but it's too easy to treat it like Jenga, when it's actually a very different kind of game. (The cool look did come in handy when I was setting up my session room.)
As well, I used Halli Galli, Tohu Wabohu & Bongo during my "hot topic" sessions - I got to speak about using board games to further youth ministry 3 different times. Thanks to Knucklebones for the giveaway magazines... and to GameSurplus for arranging a special discount for folks who came to my classes.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
- Many of the same guys in my D&D group also played Traveller, with much less frustration, stupidity & rudeness. Was it the system... or was it the way I ran the two games differently?
- OTOH, when I ran a boardgaming club in Nashville, we shared our in-store night with two RPG groups... one who played D&D with the store owner DMing (which was as "normal" as those kind of things go) and one that played a variety of RPG systems - and managed to get in rules fights & personality clashes on a regular basis. It didn't matter what system these guys played... there was a better than even chance of these guys getting ticked off at each other, spewing venom & anger on themselves and everyone around them.
- wake up
- play Everquest while eating breakfast
- go to work
- think about Everquest while working
- come home
- play Everquest while eating dinner... and then well into the night
- fall asleep and dream about Everquest
- lather... rinse... repeat... (of course, by using this metaphor for doing the same thing over & over, I am not implying that those who were addicted to EverCrack remembered to shower...)
Look, I know that any game system can be involving - even in the Euro gaming community:
- those groups that refuse to play anything but Settlers of Catan
- the Puerto Rico snobs who openly ridicule "substandard" opening moves
- the Heroscape addicts who pester store managers on a near-daily basis to see if the latest expansion has arrived (admission: I've never actually pestered a store manager, but I've sure thought about it)
But there is a special quality to games that create an ongoing "virtual" world that is seductive & interesting... and can lead to some seriously obsessive behaviors. Like refusing to have a real life because your "virtual" life is so much better.
So, combine intense identification (sometimes to the point of transference) with obsessive/addictive behavior... and you've got DW's "corrosive influence." D&D has the potential for bringing out great creativity in those who play it - while at the same time talking some folks "over the edge" into a "virtual world" where they attempt to hid from their real world issues behind stacks of manuals, graph paper & polyhedral dice.
I am not saying that "D&D turns everything it touches to crap." Many folks involved in roleplaying live normal adult lives. They are able to have a conversation without bringing up their character and his latest adventures. They have relationships that center around feelings & responsibilities, instead of trying to get their girlfriend to wear a chainmail bikini and planning their employment around their gaming sessions.
I'm just saying that it has the potential for harm... handle with care.
You'll notice that I didn't list "Christianity vs the occult" as my reason for agreeing with DW. (Man, I can tell I have two young children... every time I type DW, I think about Arthur & Buster.) If I'd chosen to do that, we would have had to title this post DW, Black Oak Arkansas & World of Warcraft. I'm not saying that this isn't a questionable area. I've had friends who found D&D to be a stepping stone into so-called "white magic" and a passle of other activities which are clearly forbidden in the Bible. It just wasn't the primary reason I found compelling in my own life. For some of you, that's bothering you... a lot. In my role as a pastor, I should be thundering down the Mountain of Truth, riding my noble steed, Zeal, (armed with a double-edged "sword") as I tear into these godless pagans who would actually be involved in "fantasy." Sorry - that's not gonna happen. (I'll talk about the positive use of fantasy in another post.) OTOH, some of you need to stop snickering behind your hands at Christians who take a strong & consistent stance on cultural issues. You may or may not agree that avoiding the works of J.K. Rowling & J.R.R. Tolkien is an intelligent decision, but you need to acknowledge their right in a free society to do such a thing - and their courage to forego "fitting in" to stand by their convictions. Note to both sides: that's what tolerance REALLY is: letting people believe other things without verbally and/or physically attacking them for doing so. You don't have to agree with them... goodness knows I think Al Franken's a funny man who should stop trying to be political and that Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer who was the first to figure out that nobody was catering to the political views of 50% of Americans. Either way, they both have the right to speak - and toleration means I don't try to shut them up via legal or illegal means. (I just turn the dial back to Jack 105.9 and/or slip in some David Crowder Band.) And, in a final parting shot, what tolerance is NOT: making sure everyone expresses thoughts that everyone can agree with, or at least pretend to agree with.)
Also good on this subject:
- All God's Children & Blue Suede Shoes: Christians & Popular Culture (Kenneth A. Myers)
- Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Neil Postman)
- Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts On Christian Spirituality (Donald Miller)
- How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films (Gareth Higgins)
- Imagine: a vision for christians in the arts (Steve Turner)
- What's So Amazing About Grace? (Phillip Yancey)
There. That ought to keep your book bag full on your vacation to the beach.
This article originally appeared in the 7/12/06 issue of the Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
- I fully realize that Niebuhr had five "points" - but for my purposes, I'm only treating four of them. Look, this isn't a graduate seminar - if you want the details, go buy the book! :-)
- When I enthusiastically call for the transformation of culture ('cuz I think that's in the Bible), I'm not saying that I think mankind can create some kind of heaven on earth. Take a look at the history of utopian societies for a quick lesson in how lousy we are at the whole "perfect life" business. But, as followers of the One who created this earth & these people, I don't think we're supposed to sit around and fiddle while Rome burns, either.
This article originally appeared in the 7/10/06 issue of the Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Well, I played 559 games (42 of them for the first time) in the first six months of 2006. (Yes, that is a lot of boardgaming... I'd like to thank the Fresno Gamers, my Wed. nite Under 30's group, and my eldest son, Braeden, for making my obsession possible.)
This is my five & dime list for the first six months of 2006... I'll comment on it after you get through looking at it.
- Scene-It (both Disney & "vanilla")
- Chicken Cha Cha Cha
- Funny Bunny
- Hallo Dachs
- Kangi Cup
- Loopin' Louie
- Max MauseSchreck
- Monkey Mission
- Oh, What A Mountain
- Prizzincn Pimpernel
- Return of the Heroes (w/expansion)
- Tanz der Hornochsen
- Treasure Falls
- My First Uno
First, why Scene It? Braeden has fallen in love with Disney Scene It... and is actually quite good at it when he doesn't get questions about movies like Old Yeller and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
Second, notice that there are only four "adult" games on the list... and three of them are "lightweight." Sigh - lots of gaming time with my son & with a Bible study group who likes Papua very much, but not so much with heavy-duty gamer-y types.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
No, Shari & I are not having marriage problems. (Of course, when I forget to take out the trash, that's another thing entirely, but we won't go there.)It's just that I counsel engaged & married couples to be honest & open about their expectations. (A good bit of marital unhappiness is due to desiring a particular behavior in our spouses... and yet expecting them to be mindreaders and figure out exactly what they're supposed to do without any help from us.) * So, I'm gonna do the same as I get to have my first "full-length" Gulf Games experience since Birmingham (spring 2003)! Here's what I hope to have happen in less than three weeks:
- I want my flights to go smoothly. (My last trip to Gulf Games included an interesting landing 10 minutes after takeoff, complete with emergency vehicles beside the runway. Let's not do that again, OK?)
- I want to play a lot of games. I sorta don't even care if they're good games, though I really don't want 5 days of bad games. (See, the company is good enough to offset bad games - but no matter how much I love Greg Schloesser, I can't do 5 days straight of Wortelboer & Vox Populi.)
- I want to play some new games... here in the backwater of Fresno, CA, I don't get to see/play much of the bleeding edge stuff. So, I haven't yet played Caylus (Mike Siggins: "Shun him!" **), Thurn & Taxis, Ticket to Ride: Marklin or even most of the new stuff from Haba. Sigh. (Oddly enough, those games aren't as high on my "must try" list as Big Kini, Deluxe Camping, Tempus, Hart an der Grenze, Rum & Pirates and The Great Space Race.
- I want to spend at least one afternoon playing games with the kids... this is a great group of young people who - when they are not humiliating me at various board games - are a lot of fun to hang around.
- I want to play Descent: Journeys in the Dark again... since I'm going to have Wednesday night - Sunday afternoon to play games (with time off for sleeping & eating), this is the perfect time to dig into a long game.
- I want to avoid sunlight as much as possible. (For the record, I am not a vampire. It's just that sunlight implies that I'm not inside playing games, and if I'm gonna take vacation days & travel across the country, I want to pack as much gaming time as possible into my Gulf Games experience.)
- I want to listen to Craig Berg tell stories until I laugh so hard that I shoot lemonade out my nose.
- I want to be in competition for Mr. Friendly - I have a reputation to uphold.
- I want Ted Cheatham to teach me at least one game... preferably with an accent.
- I want to lead the prayer service on Sunday morning - always a highlight of my Gulf Games experience. (I still remember us meeting in the hotel bar with me sitting on the bar teaching - that was Birmingham. Very cool.)
- I want to play odd stuff with Frank Branham... we are on odd couple (extra tall long-haired guy who decorates his home with skulls; shorter short-haired SBC pastor) but we have a blast playing games together. What will be this year's Konig der Maulwurfel, Frank?!
- I want my family to have a great time even without me there... it's always a little tough to leave Shari & the boys behind.
* In suggesting that husbands & wives ought to share their expectations with one another, I don't want to imply that sharing an expectation requires the other party to fulfill the expectation. This open communication simply allows you to discuss the issues and work things out like adults... rather than cross your fingers and hope that your spouse should be working for Dionne Warwick's Psychic Hotline.
** If you aren't already, you need to be listening to Mark Johnson's Boardgames To Go podcast - this saracastic Mike Siggins quote comes from a very interesting show the two of them did on Essen a few months ago. (Mark Johnson admitted he had not played Caylus, causing Mike to gasp for air... priceless.)