Virtual Gaming Hoopla

September 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm (Gaming & RPGs)

So this weekend was the 2011 Gaming Hoopla gathering of board gamers – play board games for hours, meet new people that are into the hobby, and all the proceeds go to a cancer charity, which is the #1 item on my charity list.

I’ve been excited for months. I pre-registered. I signed up for reserved seats for TWELVE HOURS of non-stop board gaming. I didn’t even remember to give myself time to eat, but I didn’t really care (much… OK I was hoping something would run short and I could sneak a burger here and there). Speaking of that the food being sold was being grilled by members, not some bulk frozen garbage.

And then…. early last week, I noticed a little bit of a cold coming on. And then as the week progressed, the cold got worse. And worse. And the nastiest cough I’ve had in as long as I can remember developed. As of about Wednesday, I started worrying I may not be able to go on my pre-registered day of Saturday, but I still kept hope that my body would fight it off in time – normally my immune system does a pretty good job.

And then on Thursday, it still hadn’t gotten any better. And Friday – the cough was worse, and a mild fever was added to the mix. Yeah, I wasn’t going 😦

So I called in to work Friday and spent most of the day in bed, then on Saturday instead of going to the Hoopla, went to the doctor. And then back to bed.

I was already thinking that maybe as a consolation I could spend a good chunk of the day playing games online, especially since my fiancee was going to be out of the house for a day of bachelorette activities, but since I was barely able to sleep the night before from the constant coughing (first night living here that I slept on the couch while she slept in the bed, I wasn’t going to put her through a whole night of listening to that), so as a result all day Saturday was pretty much spent in bed trying to catch up on sleep too.

SO.

Come Sunday. I still didn’t sleep great but at least got a total of a few hours or so, and was up at 5:30a, which those who know me know is just insane f-in early for me.
I had a cup of coffee. And a bagel. And watched my rented DVD of The Prophecy with Christopher Walken. And ate a lunch of leftover deep-dish pizza before 10am hit.

And then I decided dammit, I’m going to get some gaming in, even if I’m stuck in the house.

I decided to start with Tobago, a game that was just picked up by the Boardgame Arena gaming site in the last couple of weeks. Its I guess a “semi-light” game where players compete to figure out clues that  show where various treasures are hidden on an island, with a few magical totem statue powers tossed in for extra spice.

My game was a three player game, and the rules were pretty easy to pick up. There is a bit of strategy to it in that as the clues narrow down where the treasures are, you need to position yourself somewhere nearby so you can grab it before your opponents do.
As this was my first game, it was probably not surprising that I was very bad at this, and came in dead last.
Overall it was still fun though, and I plan to give it a few more plays.

Next up came Troyes, which I wrote a much more detailed entry about a little while back, here.
I really enjoy dice games that make creative and interesting use of the dice (so no, I usually don’t find much enjoyment in junk like Yahtzee), and this is one of the best examples I’ve found.
My first ever game with all four possible players at the helm.

I figure I must be slightly improving at this one because I wasn’t dead last – I was second to last! Woohoo!

Then next on the itinerary was… well, I was really at this point considering it should be a nap, considering how little sleep I got the night before. But, I was in the middle of printing out the manual for 7 Wonders, as it was another game I wanted to try, and the printer was taking an amazingly long time to do it.
So I figured heck, let’s squeeze in a round of GOSU while I wait.

GOSU is another one that I wrote much more extensively about here.


I actually did surprisingly well, even after my tired brain got a term confused and made a move that made no sense whatsoever. I ended up not only winning, but actually “shutting out” my opponent – go me!

OK… and here I paused my virtual gaming day to try and get more rest. The attempt didn’t last long… I found that lying down just caused my coughing to become more frequent, making it impossible to really sleep or anything.
So, I watched on-demand episodes of Doctor Who, Top Gear, and Pawn Stars for my “rest period.”

I then attempted to sign onto Brettspielwelt.de (a German gaming site) to try out 7 Wonders, which allegedly is a great game, only to get so confused by their mess of a gaming interface (similar to problems I’ve had with other games there) and the fact that all of the system prompts are in German, and apparently I did so poorly that all 3 other players abandoned me after only about 3 moves. So, so much for that.

Moving on from that, I switched gears a slight bit and put in a round of Thunderstone over at Yucata.de.
I’ve played this one a few times before and remain fairly iffy on if I actually like it or not, but figured I’d give it another shot today.
As with every other time I’ve played, I completely got my butt handed to me for reasons that I’m still not entirely sure of. There’s something about the strategy to this game that just absolutely eludes me – most games I at least have an idea what needs to be done to improve, but almost every time I play this I’m completely lost.
So yes, I lost, and I’m unsure I’ll care to play again.

Then the last game for the night was TransAmerica, what is essentially a fairly simplistic abstract game with a railroading theme pasted on top.
One of the games I was looking forward to at the Hoopla was Empire Builder, a railroading game that I’ve been wanting to try for years and has a strong following, and actually has game play that makes it feel like you’re in control of at least the basics of operating a railroad.
In TransAmerica, it’s just connecting lines across the board, that’s it. Now that I think of it, it reminds me a little bit of the Hex type games that I both hate and really suck at (and trust me, there are plenty of games that I suck at but still enjoy playing).
Anyway, it took less than 15 minutes for my butt to get handed to me in this one.

Ending Thought:

Lastly, as I mentioned, the Gaming Hoopla was a fund raiser for cancer research, and near the end of Saturday night’s activities they had scheduled a pause to go outside for a luminary ceremony, to remember those close to use who we’ve lost.

As I was sick and unable to attend, here’s how I shall end my day of “Virtual” Gaming Hoopla:

Love you, Mom, and miss you.

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Ground Zero: Church vs Mosque

September 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm (Political Ponderings)

This is one of those controversies that I keep hearing about off and on, probably having much to do with the fairly recent decision to allow a large mosque to be built near the site of the 9/11/01 World Trade Center attack site.

Broken down to the basic phrase most use to explain the situation, all you hear is “New York denied the request from a church that was destroyed on 9/11 to rebuild, but they approved a mosque to be build near the site!!”

That’d be enough to piss off just about any American recalling that the deaths of nearly 3,000 people people on that day were the result of Islamic terrorists.

Here are my thoughts on the subject, and they’ll likely annoy a couple  of friends of mine, but hey.

As far as the mosque goes, I can see why people don’t like it. There are people who may be reminded every time they see this building of the losses of that day and who caused it.
But this sort of falls into a category similar to those dickheads who keep protesting at military funerals, who have been shown to be protected under the First Amendment: they have the right. There is no legal basis on which to keep the building from being built. And, as conservatives frequently like to express to liberals, the fact that someone’s feelings may be hurt does not mean it can be banned.
This is, essentially, the same conclusion the court came to as described in the earlier linked article.

So what about the church then?
Well, according to the New York Port Authority (as quoted in this Fox article), they didn’t deny the church’s request to rebuild. Apparently they initially approved a deal including a pretty sizable amount of funding, but the church leaders decided to be a pain in the ass and keep pushing for more, until the Port Authority basically got to the point where they told the church to just go F off then. The church can still build, just not on the city’s dime.

It can be easy to get caught up on all the rhetoric regarding this type of controversy – it is, after all, a pretty emotional subject.
But perhaps it needs to be remembered that banning something like a mosque would essentially go directly against one of the primary freedoms our country is based on.

It’s also good to keep in mind that it wasn’t the entire religion of Islam that attacked our country.
This reminds me a bit of some paragraphs I wrote a little while back on a different web site in an area discussing religious tolerance, which I had titled “Blame the people, not the religion.”
Remember that Islam isn’t the only religion that has a history of violent members. Anybody remember The Crusades? I’m betting most Muslims do.
Yes, I know that something that happened 800 years ago may not feel as important as something that happened ten years ago. My point is that these major world religious are not inherently evil. But they do sometimes find themselves with evil people who somehow make it into a leadership role, who are then able to recruit the easily duped towards violent work because “God said so.”

Banning a religion, and the symbols thereof, because a tiny minority of their followers are a bunch of violent dumbasses is not the way our country works.

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So, H.G. Wells Was A Gamer

September 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm (Gaming & RPGs)

There’s actually a lot about HG Wells as a person to not like. He was a hardcore socialist. Based on his writing it seems he was racist and sexist. From what I’ve read it sounds like he was probably generally a jerk.

But he wrote some good stories, including some very well known ones such as War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man.

Anyway, I spend a gosh awful lot of time at work listening to podcasts and audio books. Probably at least 7 of the 8 hours I spend at work is spent with headphones on. And a lot of those audio books I get from sources like Librivox, where through the work of tons of volunteers, a huge selection of public domain books have been recorded.

Wells is one of the few science fiction writers whose work is old enough to now be public domain, and as a result I’ve listed to quite a few of his works, both the popular ones and the not-so-popular.

And how surprised I was to found two books about gaming in his list of works.

Floor Games and Little Wars are both somewhat similar books in that they tell stories in detail about games played with things like little toy soldiers and improvised structures and scenery; one focusing on the games his children liked to play, the other on war games devised by he and his friends.

Unfortunately another similarity between the two books is that they are both excruciatingly boring. Serious snooze-fests, both of them. ]

But still, I thought it was an interesting bit of trivia for game nuts like myself.

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