Saturday, August 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
- designer: Reiner Knizia
- publisher: Haba
- date: 2003
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.15
- age: 4+
- # of players: 2-4
- print status: OOP
- cost: $21.60 (FunAgain.com)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
- designer: Guido Hoffman
- publisher: Haba
- date: 2007
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/5.68
- age: 5+
- # of players: 2
- print status: in print
- cost: $19.79 (maukilo.com)
In a world where sequels are par for the course (did we really need 6 "Rocky" films?) and pirates are hip (did we really need 3 "Pirates of the Caribbean" films?), it wasn't a big surprise that Haba would crank out a sequel to the award-winning game, The Black Pirate. What is surprising is how much fun they managed to pack into the smaller/more portable game... and how it doesn't feel like a cheap knock-off of the original.This time around, there's only two islands... that come equipped with two small wooden cannons that fire (wait for it!) wooden cubes. (Somewhere in there is a really great joke about Ameritrash violence & Eurogame wooden cubes, but I just haven't been able to tease it out.) There are also two pirate ships & 5 treasure tokens in each of two colors. In case you haven't been paying attention, this sequel is just for - wait for it - two players. The islands are set across the table from each other... and then one of the players rolls the die & "puffs" his boat forward that many squeezes of the puffing device. When he finishes that move, the other player gets to "fire" his cannon by shooting a cube out of it, again with the puffer. If he manages to hit the ship, it's his turn to move his ship. If he misses, the first player continues rolling the dice and "sailing."
When a ship reaches the opposite harbor, they pick up one of the treasure tokens - 3 of which have chests on them & 2 of which are simply sand. The first player to get 3 treasure chests wins the game.
There's some art/skill to using the puffers... while you'd think that the tiny cloth sail would be the best place to aim, it turns out that it's more effective to puff at the hull of the boat. Tipping over a ship ends your turn, so you want to keep the boat moving without blowing it willy-nilly all over the playing surface.
That skill level means that Haba's "age 5+" designation is right on. But please note the plus sign... I've played almost as many games of this with 40+ year old folks as I have 5 year olds.
This is an edited repost... because I've had the opportunity to play a couple of new(er) games that MUST be included in the list! The new games are in bold... and their appearance will cause Mausen to drop to unlucky #13.
There are a number of well-known/well-liked kid games that didn't find their way onto my Kid Games 100. Over a series of posts, I'll try to explain the logic of why I didn't include them - or, in some cases, actively excluded them. This fifth & final post are the games that might well have made their way into the Kid Games 100... IF I'd played them before I made the list in May of 2008. MIA Games: "Recent But Really Good" Over the next few weeks, I'll be giving these the same kind & loving treatment I gave the Kid Games 100: individual blog posts & their very own Geeklist. I'll even rank them, because that's the kind of guy I am.
- Auf die Schätze, fertig, los! (Treasure, Ready, Go!) - #5
- Der schwarze Pirat: Das Duell (The Black Pirate: The Duel) - #12
- Die Kullerbande (The Rolling Gang) - #3
- Die Siedler von Catan Junior - #6
- Flotte Flosse (Fleet Fins)- #11
- Fluch der Mumie (Curse of the Mummy) - #4
- Geisterjager (Ghost Hunters) - #8
- Kaseklau (Cheese Snatching) - #1
- Kofferdetektive (The Suitcase Detectives) - #7
- Kubus Fidibus (Butterfingers Cube) - #9
- Mausen - #13
- Panda, Gorilla & Co.: Das Spiel - #10
- Zoff Im Huhnerhoff (Trouble in the Henhouse) - #2
So, I guess this really isn't "the fifth & final post" like I said above. Oh, well.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
- Sports Night
- Veronica Mars
- The West Wing
- The Amazing Race
- Mission: Impossible (the first 2 incarnations)
- Pushing Daisies
- The Closer
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
- designer: Detlef Wendt
- publisher: Abacus
- date: 2004
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3513/5.98
- age: 8+
- # of players: 3-6
- print status: in print
- cost: approx. $8.41 (boardsandbits.com)
Friday, August 14, 2009
"If you are trying to communicate to people, it makes sense that you want to find a common currency, a bridge which you can communicate across." He glanced around. "Now, having said that, you can do it with style or you can do it tackily. But that's true of any endeavor, not just the Christian retailing world." I nodded. "That's true, but I have to say that from what I've seen, it kind of looks like tacky is winning." Butcher sighed ruefully. "When you are born again, God gives you a new heart & a new opportunity. He doesn't necessarily give you new taste."
Cameron Williams is one of "Left Behind"'s two main heroes. His friends call him Buck, "because they said he was always bucking tradition & authority." The other hero is Rayford Steele, an airline pilot. That's right, Buck Williams & Rayford Steele. There's also Steve Plank, Bruce Barnes & Dirk Burton. Apparently, having a porn star name is enough to keep you from getting raptured.
As I discovered when I asked Christians about it, the secular world's continued fascination with LEFT BEHIND is seen as a sign of how out of touch we are with evangelical culture. Imagine thinking that THE REAL WORLD still defined American TV.
R.T. asked if he could pray for me, which didn't surprise me. And then he prayed that my book would help Christians see some hard truths about themselves, even if it hurt. Which I hadn't expected at all.
Escape from the hard work of thinking about everything was, in fact, one of the main reasons I listened to music. Not only is it all right for Christian kids to want that same avenue of retreat, but more non-Christian kids would do well to develop the kind of critical listening skills that Christians bring to secular music. It is to the great credit of evangelical teens that they aren't as thoughtless as the rest of us about such things.
As Christians make their mark on the mainstream, the rest of us will feel their influence. If our response is hostile, it will only... feed the growth of the most mean-spirited strain of Christian pop culture, and mainstream culture will be warped accordingly. But if we are welcoming, we help nurture a form of Christian culture that can in turn enrich our own.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Small VillageAccording to Jay Tummelson (the owner of Rio Grande Games ), "The rules specifically say that if all players pass in turn (having nothing they can or want to do) the game ends. Of course, this is how all games of Big City (or "Small Village") will end. It is true that there is no mention of this as a special case, but since it follows the normal rules for game end, I see no need for a special rule." So, although we've never seen it happen here, it's possible. Public Information? Not to be mistaken for the ongoing debate about public vs. private information in Acquire... but still important. According to Jay Tummelson, you can count the number of cards left in a neighborhood draw pile. As well, you have to reveal the neighborhood cards you have in your hand if asked. How Many Players? Frank Branham (Moo of Gaming Dumpster fame), Doug Adams (Billabong Gamer extrodinaire) and Jay Tummelson (the Grand Poobah of Rio Grande Games) all feel strongly that Big City turns hopelessly chaotic with 5 players. Doug suggests using the trading variant to alleviate this... an alternative we've tried at Game Central Station with great success. Jay, who edited the English version, wishes he had limited it to 3-4 players. (We here at Game Central respectfully disagree, as we find it an enjoyable 2 player game as well.) You make your own decision. Variants Recommended Variants We here at Game Central Station have been using the "single streetcar line" variant listed in the rules. No branches are allowed. According to Jay Tummelson, that is the standard rule in the German version - one he changed for the English version. As well, we use the trading variant outlined in the rules. It's seldom used, but does give players another option if they're looking for particular parcels of land. Finally, we use the alternate start variant the Westbank Gamers created, giving the person who goes last an extra card and the opportunity to go first. An Interesting Two Player Variant Ronald Hoekstra had an odd first experience with Big City - he was taught the game wrong. "We played that you could build as much as you could in one turn (instead of just one build). It actually played very well (with two players)." Here at Game Central Station we haven't tried this yet, but it seems like it might work. Bigger City This variant is the brainchild of Richard Irving.
- Use two sets.
- Shuffle both card sets together (All 1 cards from both sets are shuffled together.) Each card can be used to build on either square of the matching number.
- On set up, I don't know if both sets of boards 1-5 should be used or just one. I am thinking a better game might be created by starting with just one set of boards and expanding from there under normal rules. (This might encourage more exchanging of card or an early placement of a city hall.)
- Use both city halls (think of the second one as a police precinct.) Maybe some rule to prevent them form being placed together might be useful.
- Streetcars either allow using all of the them. The other idea I had is allowing having two separate "lines" : A red line and silver line (use Siedler roads for the red line.) The first one of each line is placed according to regular rules. Both lines can be expanded on the same turn--one car each. The lines may cross or junction, but never are placed in parallel along the same street.
I think Bigger City would work better for 5 players and go up to 6 players tops. More players would still be too chaotic. But the game would be bit more strategic as each card may get more uses.Additional Buildings The ones listed here are the daydreams of the ever-creative Richard Irving. We'd love to make this a repository of variants here at Game Central Station, so if you have any other ideas, please send them on.
- Stadium: 2x2 lot square. Requires city hall. 20 pts. + 10 pts. if in city center. x2 if placed on streetcar line. (It certainly will be hard to play.)
- School: 2 lots. Requires city hall. 3 pts. per each (orthogonally) adjacent lot that contains residences (up to 6--maximum 18 pts.) Also adds +1 to each residence built later.
The Games Journal ran a wonderful variant article adding a number of new building ideas for Big City. Give it a whirl!Strategy Hints
- Don't run out of cards as you near the end-game. This is especially true in a 2 player. If you run out of cards early, your opponents can play their remaining cards as they wish, very often for double+ points. It's important to account for the possibility of decimating your hand early, which tends to require calculation whne placing larger buildings in the last stages. (Andy Danglish)
- You can protect your properties from the dreaded factories by looking at the board, figuring out the legal positions for factories, and placing buildings that make it impossible to legally place a factory over your properties. Drawing large numbers of plots on neighborhoods that have not yet been played is a real power-grab, and the factories are a counter to this. (Robert Rossney)
- Watch for the formation of a shopping center plot... when there are two spaces together with streetcar access and a special building (or the space available to build that building), do what it takes to break up those two spaces (extend the streetcar line between them, build a park over one or both of them, build a factory over them or over enough adjacent property to render the area unfit to meet the building conditions. )
- Be careful about laying down parks. Laying down a park early in the game for your benefit allows other players to circulate cards from their hands (due to discards). As well, parks next to large areas of property that you don't own simply gives free points to other players.
- It is possible to prevent the building of a church by passing if your only playable card would allow you to build on the last available square (except for the one with the double digit for the church). You have to watch for this - and occasionally sacrifice points not to give your opponent that 15 point "church" boost. (Ulrich Bauer)
And after I went to all the trouble of preparing that list, here comes RayT of the Silicon Valley Boardgamers with own (possibly better) list of strategy tips.
- Be sure to understand all the requirements and legal placements of buildings. This also means to understand all the illegal placements of buildings such as parks and factories, so that if one of your cards become illegal, you can exchange it for a new one.
- Recognize at any point in the game, what each of your cards potential is in scoring. Potential can include parks and doublers/triplers not yet there. This sounds obvious, but a lot of people don't even realize what they can put down or put down the wrong thing!
- Notice the stockpiles of buildings. A lot of them run out, especially streetcars. This can greatly affect what building you build, especially if 2 or more types have only one building left!
- Notice when the cards run out! I just recently figured this out. You may want to put down cards, just to grab the last couple and give you that slight edge in buildings.
- Parks and factories -- I don't quite understand yet the true nature of these cards. They aren't just simple "screw your opponent" cards that you can play at any time without thinking or when you're bored. First, you don't want to play them too early because you could possibly screw yourself if you draw that card. Second, you don't want to play them too late when they become illegal. Third, you want to target your greatest opponent, not just a big, open area. Finally, if you hold onto these cards, they clog up your hand and reduce your options on cards. I'm even thinking they may be good cards to exchange for new ones...
Parks, Factories & City HallThe Great Park & Factory Debate For those of you who've grown tired of the "Settlers is too random" debate, here's a new one. It seems there are some VERY split opinions on the power level of the park & factory cards. No less a gaming guru than the fabled Mike Siggins implied in his G3 review that they were too dominant... a feeling that is shared by a number of people. Both Mark Biggar & Chris Dorrell have ruminated about a possible fix for the supposed power imbalance that involves requiring the play of one of the deeds being covered in order to play the park or factory. Richard Heli wisely responds, "If that were the rule, I don't think I would ever use up an entire action and cards to play them. I would just stick the park or factor card back in the deck for someone else to waste time with." Steve Pedlow's solution is a bit more radical - remove the parks & factories altogether. (Granted, this may be a viable option with playing with folks who don't like any kind of 'hosage' in their gaming.) However, there are a bunch of us out here who think this part of the game works just fine as is. In the words of Ted Cheatham, "I think this is really part of the character of the game. To avoid problems with parks & factories, capture some yourself...you know what stack they are in." (For those of you who don't: Lincoln Park - 2 spaces - is in the #2 neighborhood, Central Park - 3 spaces - is in the #4 neighborhood, Stanford Corporation - 3 spaces in an L shape - is in the #6 neighborhood, and Rockwell Industries - 4 spaces in a square - is in the #8 neighborhood.) For my money, Lincoln Park & Stanford Corporation are the more valuable deeds, as they (a) smaller and easier to play, which makes them (b) more difficult to defend against. I often find myself stuck with Central Park or Rockwell Industries in my hand at the end of the game. A good last word on the whole subject comes from Robert Rossney: "I think these cards are very powerful, but their power and presence in the game is not, or should not be, a surprise to the player, and you can plan accordingly. The factories in particular cannot be played just anywhere: they're big, and they have to be placed adjacent to the outskirts of town. If you're grabbing cards for a neighborhood that has a big open space on the outskirts of town and the factories haven't been played yet, well, where the heck do you think they're going to get played?" Why Build And/Or Fight City Hall? It's worth zero (zilch, nada, nothing)... by itself. It drives some people crazy. (Really. Just read rec.games.board on dejanews.) But, once again, we here at Game Central Station don't buy the hype. Al Newman, a talented game designer in his own right, weighed in on the subject: "From a design viewpoint, there is a tremendous problem. You can't have City Hall placed too early, so you have to penalize the player who places it by not allowing him to use it until everyone else has had a go. Meanwhile, you cannot reward the player who places it, because it will then be placed too early. It is a mechanism (IMO) that is designed expressly to allow the game to develop to the right point before placement." Al's point taken, there is an underground movement (mainly consisting of Aaron Fuegi) that gives 3 points for building the City Hall, as they believe that any advantages gained by placing the City Hall are outweighed by the opportunities lost (the opportunity to place the first streetcar, for example.) Greg "Bayou Boy" Schloesser responds: "I can see the problem ... but let me tell you what I did in my game at the Gathering. I exclusively picked cards from the 3 stack for the first several turns and waited until everyone else had built their plots in that neighborhood. Then, I selected the right spot and built the City Hall without fear of another player being able to build next to it in such a way that would force me to be unable to build what I wanted on my plots. It worked ... and I won the game in a landslide. Timing is the key to City Hall placement." We here at Game Central agree with Greg... timing is everything. We leave the City Hall rules as is. Departures Hop the streetcar and head for these other stops in the Big City...
- BoardgameGeek entry for Big City
- Funagain Games with reviews from John McCallion (Games Magazine) and Alan How (Counter Magazine)
- You have to be cautious about slapping complete junk into your store window, especially if you pick up a late buying turn number. Your only option may be to stuff the junk in your own window into your safe.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Thursday, August 06, 2009
There are a number of well-known/well-liked kid games that didn't find their way onto my Kid Games 100. Over a series of posts, I'll try to explain the logic of why I didn't include them - or, in some cases, actively excluded them. I used the top 100 games categorized on the Geek as the jumping off point for the fourth post in this series: MIA Games: "Just Missed the Cut" These are all games that I enjoy... but with the arbitrary "top 100" designation ended up not quite making the list. In a couple of cases, I hadn't had the opportunity to play with children before the list was made.
- Animal Upon Animal - The combination of cute wooden animals & a very kid-friendly set of rules makes this stacking/dexterity game a real winner. Probably #101 on the Kid Games 100. (There are two new games in this series: The Duel for 2 players & a card game that involves stacking cards on a gator who looks like a refugee from the ballet in "Fantasia." I want to try both of them!)
- Bounce-It-In - Supplanted on the Kid Games 100 by Hop Hop Hurray, this is still a very good game. We've esp. taken a liking to the "Bounce 21" rules, which is a weird cross of dexterity game & Blackjack.
- Burg-Ritter (Castle Knights) - This is one of those wonderful games that you realize that could ONLY have come from Haba (or maybe Zoch) - it's a cooperative dexterity game involving big wooden pieces & a ponytail holder w/4 strings tied to it.
- Battleground: Crossbows & Catapults - I've played with these over the years... and we just got a bunch of them this Christmas, thanks to Toys'R'Us putting them on clearance. (We're still looking for a Tower set, btw.) It's a lot of plastic shooting fun... though I think I still like Attacktix better, probably because it doesn't require so much set-up/tear-down time. (Again, I think the better game ended up on the Kid Games 100.)
- Go Away Monster - This is BARELY a game... but for younger kids (3-5 years), it's one they will play over & over & over again. I wish it was more difficult to tell the good things & monsters apart in the bag - but the opportunity to throw a monster tile into the box & yell "Go away, Monster!" at the top of your lungs is an awfully strong selling point.
- Hisss - Thick cardboard cards w/colorful snake art... the chance to build & claim snakes... learning color matching for the young ones... it's over quickly enough not to irritate the heck out of parents & older siblings...
- Lord of the Rings (Kids) - My view of this one has softened over time... the first time I played it (with adults), I was underwhelmed. The theme is a bit off (why are the hobbits racing each other to Mt. Doom?) and it's basically a roll'n'move/spin'n'fight. But then I played it with kids and discovered that they have a great time facing off against the bad guys. And multiple plays helped me see the benefits of some careful odds calculations... not to mention the very nice bits. It's not going to set the world on fire, but it's still a popular game at my house.
- Magic Dance (Hexentanz) - I just haven't played this enough to include it... I think it's a wonderful design (like I said elsewhere, it's got an abundant level of chaos due to 24 identical pieces & memory). I think it might crash with the wrong crowd - esp. gamers (it's an AP death trap waiting to happen) but it's a lot of fun with kids.
- Monza - While I appreciate this fine little dice racing game for what it is (a great introduction to proper sequencing for young gamers), I don't think I like it as much as some other folks.
- Piraten-Pitt (Pete the Pirate) - The same goes for the Kinderspiel winner, a bit-o-licious memory game with a good bit of potential hosage. It works very well with the intended age group (4-7 years) but doesn't have much staying power beyond that.
- Pounce - I've been playing this game (or variations of it) since I was a kid. It's more of a pastime (though the Haba version adds some nice rules variations to turn it into a bit more of a game) and an excuse to slam stuff down really hard on the table. Warning: put a tablecloth on any table you don't want scratched; spectators should stand clear to avoid have a mouse imprint on their face.
- Schloss Schlotterstein (Shiverstone Castle) - Once again, Haba makes a game with components so gorgeous it'll almost blind you: the box turns into the game with the addition of two dividing thick cardboard dividers & four wooden feet and the magnetic arm slides beneath the box while the cloth ghost (and a variety of other wooden debris) float around in the box. The only reason it didn't make the Kid Games 100 is that the dexterity required to play well is beyond most kids under the age of 7. (It is, however, great fun for younger kids to use for imaginative play.)
- Zitternix - One more Haba entry... and this pick-up-sticks variant misses the Kid Games 100 because I haven't played it with kids. (With adults, it's LOTS of fun.)
Wrong Question: How do I get my Church to Grow?
The wrong question in breaking growth barriers is “How do I get my church to grow?” Starting with this question can lead you not only to wrong conclusions but also to dangerous conclusions. Its easy to reach wrong conclusions about church growth when you think that growth is completely dependent on what you do or don’t do. At the same time, asking this question can be dangerous if it leads to extreme examples of trying to grow at any cost. So what’s the right question to ask? Right Question: What is keeping my Church from Growing? The right question when it comes to breaking growth barriers is, “What is keeping my church from growing?” Healthy organisms grow. As pastors we must constantly be on the search for the real issue behind a lack of growth. In my study of growing churches, I have identified the nine most common growth barriers but there are indeed many more. Your job is to identify the barriers and work to remove them.Today is the last day to get the free deal, so head on over. Here's the link: The Great Growth Barriers Giveaway
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The natural flow of the church is to skew old. Left to itself, that is what it will do. It will age. You take your hand off of that wheel, and that is what will happen. This is not the only natural flow of the church. Left to itself, the church will also turn inward and become outdated.And he's right - as anyone in church life can tell you. Thankfully, he does more than just point out the problem:
So what did we do? There are three headlines that are disarmingly simple in maintaining influence and impact with the next generation:
- To attract young adults, you have to hire young adults.
- To attract young adults, you have to platform young adults.
- To attract young adults, you have to acknowledge young adults.
There's a lot more detail than this in the post... it's well worth your time to read it!
Bottom line? Sometimes bridging a cultural divide is as simple as who you hire, who you platform, and who you acknowledge. Yes, a person who is fifty should come and find points of connection and community at your church. But that’s not the problem. We’re reaching the fifty-somethings. It’s the twenty-somethings that we’re missing.In case you missed it at the top of my post, here's the link: "Forever Young."
Sunday, August 02, 2009
In New York City, there are eight million cats and eleven million dogs. New York City is basically just concrete and steel, so when you have a pet in New York City and it dies, you can't just go out in the back yard and bury it. The city authorities decided that for $50 they would dispose of your deceased pet for you.
One lady was enterprising. She thought, I can render a service to people in the city and save them money. She placed an ad in the newspaper that said, "When your pet dies, I will come and take care of the carcass for you for $25." This lady would go to the local Salvation Army and buy an old suitcase for two dollars. Then when someone would call about his or her pet, she would go to the home and put the deceased pet in the suitcase.
She would then take a ride on the subway, where there are thieves. She would set the suitcase down, and she would act like she wasn't watching. A thief would come by and steal her suitcase. She'd look up and say, "Wait. Stop. Thief." The people who stole those suitcases got a real surprise when they got home.
(urban legend told by Scott Wenig)
Here's the deal: too darn many of us are subway thieves. We are willing to do just about anything to grab happiness for ourselves - sleep around, drink or snort or pop something, lie, cheat, steal, gossip, hedge, fake it, shade the truth, fold, cave in, forget on purpose to do what's right - and not lose much sleep about it. Unfortunately, we're spending a chunk of time and moral energy on $2 suitcases filled with dead cats.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
- Cap'tn Clever - Despite the name, it isn't clever. It's broken. And I'm not using the gamer word "broken" in the sense of "I don't like the game & therefore I'll call it a 'dirty word.'" I'm using it in the sense of "This game can lock up where no one wants to make a move & really only works if one or more of the players is an idiot or underage."
- Ghost Chase - It's just a really "meh" kind of deduction game - yeah, it works, but I've never felt the need to play it again. Ever.
- Nimbali - I've complained about this one before... this was my "just because Knizia designed it doesn't mean it's better than Candyland" discovery. BTW, this is the only Haba game I actively dislike - and, showing what great taste they have, it's OOP and the pieces are being used for other BETTER games.
- Rat-A-Tat-Cat - I have Biberbande, which has cooler beaver-related art, but not any better game play.
- Switch - Because nothing is more than playing a completely abstract game of stacking cards. Oh, yes, I know - we'll make it "better" by making it real-time. Blech.
- A-Mazing Labyrinth - I'm fully aware that this was a SdJ nominee many moons ago. I know that it spawned a lot of follow-up games. But neither of those things mean that a really innovative game mechanic (the sliding tile pathways) makes up for a game that bogs down in analysis paralysis with adults & is random and irritating with children.
- Geistertreppe - Again, cool bits (the ghost that magnetically picks up the pieces) don't make up for a simply average memory game that's very similar to Hexentanz but without the delightful chaos.
- Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus - Reiner managed to sell this game twice: once in Europe as Feuerschlucker (the version I own without cute plastic animals) and once in America (with plastic animals). With or without, it's NOT a good game. It's luck of the draw dressed up in a pretty package... and the few moments of "I can count cards & figure out what's best" really don't counteract the vagaries of the draw pile. In fact, they just accentuate how little control you really have.
- Big Top/Barnyard Critters - I first played this as "Solche Strolche" (which is the German name for Barnyard Critters)... and I loved it. It was a quick recognition game that I basically described as "Set for kids." (I stand by that description, btw.) But it's been a complete bust with almost every group I've played it with... which makes no sense to me. I like to think of it as my "kid gaming radar blindspot."
- The Magnificent Race - One of my ongoing Don Quixote-ish quests is to "fix" this game - the marble spinner is a very cool component/mechanism set in the middle of a pretty mediocre game. (And the theme is great, too - it's just that the roll'n'move board game is yawn-worthy.)
For a long time, when hurting, at-risk kids and parents came to me for help, I wanted to know - the "judge" in me wanted to know - "Did she jump or was she pushed?" Things like that matter to the judge. But after awhile, broken and battered myself, compassion posed a new question. "Does it matter? She's broken. What now?" Jim Hancock, Raising Adults: Getting Kids Ready for the Real WorldThat's our question... not doing a postmortem on the lives of the broken people around us and among us... but asking "What now?" and knowing that the love & hope & grace of Jesus Christ is the answer. And, if it's really the answer, and we're *really* Christians (or, to sort of translate, "people who follow Jesus' example"), THEN we are the vehicles for the love & hope & grace that people so desperately need. Maybe you're one of them... maybe you have been longing for someone to realize how broken and screwed-up you are really are... someone who can offer hope. Well, we who follow Jesus Christ LONG to do that... but we're pretty screwed-up sometimes ourselves. Let us know your hurts and your needs... take a chance and see God work through the community He built, His church. Really. Cuz if you're "one of them" (the messed-up people)... you're one of us. All of us have "fallen short of the glory of God" (which is the Bible way of saying that the good & right life that we were created for remains far out of reach because of our abysmal way of living our lives.) So, you're in good company. We're not going to laugh at you, or call you names, or find ways to marginalize you at social gatherings. Jesus liked to hang out with messed-up people and show them truth and hope... so do we. When we don't, when we fall back into wearing masks of "everything is ok" and putting you off with less-than-authentic lines we're mouthing like a badly dubbed movie... call us on it. Tell us where we've gone wrong. Our dream and desire is to act as a channel for Christ's love... so if something is clogging up the delivery spout, show us and we'll clean it out together.