Thursday, December 31, 2009

Midwife update

We went to see the midwives yesterday for a regular checkup. (At this point, we're scheduled to check in every two weeks.) All is normal, Cat's feeling fine, Peanut is growing right on schedule. I've even felt him move once. The rest of the time, he quits playing the maracas or tap-dancing or whatever whenever I try and feel.

Sixty-three days left until the due date, which seems like forever and right around the corner.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unplayed games

I have too many games.

More accurately, I have too many unplayed games. I know this thanks to either Ian or Dan back in Austin, who convinced me to start logging my game plays on September 20th, 2006. I had scoffed at this notion for a while, thinking it too crazy anal about gaming, or the first step in the long road to obsessive stat-keeping about wins and losses. I don't want to become overly competitive and I don't want to juggle statistics over actual play.

After more than three years of logging plays, I've since changed my mind. I simply play too many games to remember them all, and sometimes I simply blonde out and forget. Most of the statistics stuff I look at has been calculated by someone else, so I don't need to do any heavy lifting. The actual work I do to keep track of this is pretty low- I used to keep a 99-cent notebook in my pocket and jot down the date and game title for later logging on BGG. Now that I have a magic Google phone (Android G1, for the record), I use the BGG App to simply log the play then and there. The time investment is much smaller- a few taps and it's done. I can get back to actual play and not mess with the grisly details.

On the other hand, the simple fact that I'm logging plays at all means that the grisly details exist for when I want to look at them. The incomparable Chris "Friendless" Farrell maintains a site of BGG Extended Stats, where he does all of the statistical heavy lifting. Some of these stats break down when considering game expansions and game books. I'm not log to log a "play" of a book, and I generally don't log plays of expansions.

The one critical stat that I want appears to be broken within BGG's SQL query, unless I just don't know how to do it. They have a search function for played games, and you can specify the maximum and minimum number of plays- but it appears to store zero plays as null instead of zero, so the query doesn't return what I expect.

Easy enough: download my collection data as CSV, sort by number of plays, pop the title column into Google Docs, add a bit of whiz-bang-fu, and lo and behold I have a working poor man's database to help me find what I need to play. (I had to remove expansions and books and the like by hand, but it's not so bad.) I also added columns to track games that I know I've played before the two major events before my logging epoch: Katrina and moving home. I know there are games I've played in the ancient dim misty past (say, high school) just as I know I played games in Austin before I started logging plays in BGG.

When I first started this project at the end of the November (after BGG.Con, I know that my game-buying will be severely curtailed in the next year or so), my collection was almost 45% unplayed, very uncomfortably close to half. Over the last thirty days, I've given away a small handful of games and played a baker's dozen of new-to-me and previously unplayed games. This is awesome and gets me to about 40% unplayed.

I don't have a numerical goal in mind, but if I can get at least one unplayed game to the table, or sold, or traded, or given away every week, I'll be happy.

Also, this is my 700th post. Huzzah!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy anniversary

Four years since Katrina.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Nickel Tour: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Here's the nickel tour:

Man is born baby-sized, but as an old man. (Looks creepy.) As he moves forward in time, he grows appropriately mentally and size-wise, gets physically younger. Nobody seems to think this is worth mentioning to science. Eventually, he meets a girl or two, falls in love once or twice. Fathers a child around the time he "meets in the middle" he childhood sweetheart- both the same physical age at their point in time. Eventually, he's getting younger physically and starts to get smaller size-wise, as well as seemingly mentally senile. Finally, he dies as a baby-sized baby.

I know that it's meant to be a love tale, but I took it as a flawed an internally inconsistent sci-fi tale. Not easy to suspend disbelief due to Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's well-known countenances. I found myself wondering what was makeup and was was CG.

For the record, I caught part of the filming of this movie a few times. Many of the New Orleans shots were comfortingly, albeit jarringly familiar. The accents weren't awful overall.

I give it a "Not worth the big screen."

Thursday, July 02, 2009

War never changes

I am glad I did not pick up Fallout 3 while trying to finish painting the house.

I beat the game in a little under sixty hours of gameplay, but I suspect I could spend another ten to twenty hours or more seeking out the rest of the quests and extras, and simply exploring the world.

I have a special (no pun intended) place in my heart for the Fallout series. Not only do I eat up the post-apocalyptic genre like candy, but I believe the story and choices offered to the player really add a level of verisimilitude often missing in most computer games. I think the current development studio did a fine job in keeping with the original two games, unlike the disowned, non-canon garbage that was FOBOS. I really am quite happy at a new generation of gamers experiencing the Fallout world, with promise of more games to come. As of this writing, there's a Fallout: Vegas game in the works for 2010 and at least three downloadable content packs for the console games.

Most people expect me to play a lot of video games, but Fallout is the first video game that I've played to completion in quite a long while. I'm quite satisfied and pleased.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

New-to-me games June 2009

Hello, world.

I had a light game month, relatively speaking- I played less than 30 games and less than a dozen titles. I directly attribute these numbers to my playing Fallout 3 on the PS3. But I managed to play five (really four) new games this month, three of which I own.

Alphabetically first and arguably the heaviest is Martin Wallace's new economic game Automobile (BGG, BUY ME!). Research car factories, build cars, sell cars, use different characters for a twist. Most money wins. I am terrible at this game, but I like it. There's a lot of tension in what you ca do versus what you want to do. One must do a bit of number-crunching and some cost-benefit analysis to inform your decisions. A solid design; if this sounds interesting to you, give it a shot, but it's a wee dry and mathy.

Neuroshima Hex! (BGG, BUY ME!) is like a knife fight in a phone booth. This skirmish game is totally up my alley. Each player has a different army "deck" of hex tiles, playing onto a Catan-shaped battlefield. You can force battles (where the whole board resolves and ther is much carnage), and you can generally not move your troops once deployed. The game has at least two expansions and the source RPG is Polish, if you need more. I hope there are army play aids on BGG to help, otherwise players don't know their units strengths and weaknesses. Worth playing.

The cooperative Red November (BGG, BUY ME!) fell a little flat for me. Russian Gnomes on a steampunk sub disaster movie? Bring it! But in play with five, it drug on past when I was ready for it to be over. I am glad I played it before buying it, otherwise I fear I would have traded it away after one play. I might give it one more shot, but you'd need to love it or convince me.

Space Alert (BGG, BUY ME!) is another cooperative game from the same madmen who brought you Galaxy Trucker. The gimmick here uses a CD with audio tracks that govern when and where threats (alien ships, space pirates, meteors, etc.) appear on the ship. Players must quickly negotiate and coordinate their actions, which are programmed similarly to RoboRally. The game is fast fast- ten minutes for the audio track and actual play, maybe another ten or fifteen minutes to resolve. There's definitely the feeling of setting up dominoes to watch them fall down. I can't say that this is for everyone, though. It took me three plays before the game clicked and I liked it; not shocking when you remember that the play is absolutely driven forward by the audio track.

My cheat is Taktika (BGG, BUY ME!), a game I haven't played since leaving Austin (or maybe at last year's BGG Con?) and had a hand in playtesting. The game bills itself as "strategy meets dexterity" and is a two-player wargame of flicking discs about a table, much like Crokinole. I have two sets so we can play partnership battles, which add a lot of set-up-and-protect your partner decisions. A solid game that a bigger publisher needs to pick up. It's been a hit with my group, who have repeatedly asked me why I haven't brought it out sooner.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Lifting the game-buying moratorium

Six months ago, I made a deal with myself to not purchase any board game for a while.

I did this because of space reasons (still living in 340 square feet at the time); time reasons (needed to work on house); and uncluttering reasons (I have a lot of games that I've never played). My first self-made deal was "no new games until we unpack." This didn't last minutes as I realized that we will keep unpacking in the house for months, at least. Next deal included the ability to buy games at BGG.Con last November- I have no realistic way to avoid buying games at a con. I further revised the deal that I could still trade games or go treasure-hunting in thrift stores. Now that I finally unpacked the game room, I let myself buy new things. I've had a gift certificate from my Secret Santa that's been burning a hole in my pocketses for five (!) months.

So what did I buy and why?

My man Judson has sung the praises of a rondel game for some time, advocating that I get one. Antike (BGG, BUY ME!) reminds me a bit of Vinci, rather popular with my game group and personal  favorite. Antike is the same way- it's hit the table twice in a week, with requests for it again tonight. A solid buy.

I had to get El Grande (Decennial edition) (BGG, BUY ME! ) because none of my local friends own it and I haven't played it since Austin. Amun-Re got the table recently, so I've had this classic area control on my next-buy short list. Also, it was on sale.

Hamburgum (BGG, BUY ME! ) is another rondel game. I figured if the theme of Antike failed, this one would fly. Haven't played it yet.

Indonesia (BGG, BUY ME! ) is one of those games I see people pining for in Math Trades. A bit of research shows this one to be a nice meaty economic game which ought to play well with my crew. (Also on sale.)

Kontor (BGG, BUY ME! ) is a two-player tile-laying game that's been in the back of my mind for a while. I liek two-player games, and I'm still seeking a good tile game. Played this twice so far- it is interesting and comes with a ton of variants.

I remember enjoying My Dwarves Fly (BGG, BUY ME! ). Curiously, I last played this with the same guy who taught El Grande back in Austin. It was a silly little backstabby game, and cheap. We shall see if I still like it.

I played one game with Simon Hunt at last year's BGG Con: Owner's Choice (BGG, BUY ME! ), a light, quick, manage-your-luck stock control game. I liked it enough to throw it in to get me free shipping.

I don't own Power Grid. But I continually buy expansions for the guy that does. This time, it's the Power Grid: China/North & South Korea (BGG, BUY ME! ) with the crazy markets. Looking forward to seeing the rules.

I have three separate people tell me that Shadow Hunters (BGG, BUY ME! ) is like Coachride to Devil's Castle only moreso. Three recommendations is enough for me to pick this up.

Here's a no-brainer: Small World (BGG, BUY ME! ). I like Vinci, this is the new hotness.

I saw the designer playtesting Supernova (BGG, BUY ME! ) a few cons ago, but never got a chance to play it. I played Owner's Choice with him (qv) and talked a bit about the game. Also, I'm a sucker for slick scifi design thanks to Mike Doyle.

I've had my eye on Suitors (BGG, BUY ME FROM IPR! ) for a while; it's a trick-taking game with a twist. I've got to pick it up to at least try it out with the crew.

I hear Techno Witches (BGG, BUY ME! ) described as a lighter, faster Robo Rally. I had reservations on buying this without playing it first. I don't want it to be a kid's game, but it was finally on sale enough to overcome doubts.

Other things I bought: Pink Icehouse pieces for my Zendo set when I unpack it, and three different sizes of four-way rubber bands.

That's a baker's dozen of new-ish games. Do I need to implement a one-in-one-out rule? There's a Math Trade going on right now...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why they do it

If you got a computer virus ten or fifteen years ago, you probably experienced the digital equivalent of a mean and nasty practical joke: ink poured on important papers, stink bombs, bags of dog poop on fire, insults spray-painted on your house, your car keyed. Generally, virus/worm authors wanted notoriety, a rush of power, or just to stick it to someone who wronged them.

Now, it's all about cash money.

The Conficker worm recently woke up, as you may have heard. No, it's not the end of the world, but we are starting to see some of what it's designed to do- make money fast. Infected Windows machines are starting to present notices along the lines of "Hello. Your computer is infected. For $49.95, you can be cleaned!"

Malware authors are not maladjusted teens living in their parents' basement; they are professional criminals trying to make money.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Still kicking

Hello, my hopefully loyal readers. Please bear with me while I get back into the habit of writing.

Let me start this off with some pictures of what's occupied my time. I unpacked all of these boxes (nearly thirty):

Onto these shelves:

This is still a great feeling, to see my entire game collection out and displayed. I have never really seen it spread out before, and I cannot swear that these pictures really do it justice. The number's about 430ish, but some of those are expansions. I did a quick count on actual-never-played games, and that came to a shade over 100. That means that I've played more than three-quarters of my games.

My wife keeps saying, "Oh, right! I forgot about that one" and "I've never even seen that one before!" My friends are a little stunned and partially overwhelmed with choices. I need to start some plan and effort to learn unplayed games before cracking them to the group.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let's talk Android Apps

What apps do I use on my Google Phone?

Generally, I install apps that are either useful or diverting. Often there's a bit of overlap, and some categories include show-offy or just-in-case-someday-maybe.

Toggle Settings: I use this one constantly to toggle wireless, Bluetooth, and GPS. I also use it to quick toggle brightness and ringer mode. It's pretty flexible. I used to use Any Cut to quick toggle Bluetooth, but Toggle Settings works better for me.

Twidroid: If you follow my twitter, you know I use this a fair amount. It's a little crashy, but the developers have a strong and active release cycle, which is nice.

AK Notepad: I carry around a 99-cent paper spiral notebook in my back pocket for most note-taking, but this is a handy digital alternative until Google Docs works on my phone. A lot of people seem surprised that I use paper.

Flashlight: When it says light, it means light. Max brightness, no sleep, all white. Very practical.

The Weather Channel: Boring but useful. Has some neat smarts about location if you travel.

Bubble and Compass are a bubble level and compass, respectively. Countdown Alarm++ and Stopwatch do what they say they do. Handy to have.

ParkMark and Location Log are "where's my car" sort of apps. I don't have a preference for one or the other yet. YMMV.

Wifiscan does the wardriving for you and outputs a Google Earth KML or CSV to your SD card. The developer is super friendly, too.

ConnectBot does ssh and does it well.

Magic 8-Ball is a fun show-off toy. Sky Map falls into the same category, but as a real star map that changes view as the phone moves and shows real-world views based on GPS and compass readings is much sexier to show off. Somewhat geekier is The Schwartz Unleashed, complete with motion-sensing lightsaber noises and custom colors.

Phonalyzr and Power Manager are usage tools. The former reads my call log and displays nifty usage data; I don't know how long it will stay around. The latter lets me tweak power preferences, but I don't use it fully.

Shazam really pushes the envelope for the cool factor. Play music, hold the phone to the speaker, wait, and it'll tell you what song you're hearing. Like having a portable music trivia geek in your pocket.

ShopSavvy scans UPS barcodes and returns real-world and web pricing. Very handy when comparison shopping.

I currently only have a few games on my phone, would you believe?

Tetroid: A tetris clone I haven't played yet. Gotta have tetris.

Scrambled Net: A nice port of the puzzle game knetwalk, but since lost its appeal for me. I'm good at these sorts of visual spatial puzzles.

Lexic: A Boggle clone. I like word games, but I have poor skill in Boggle.

Coloroid: Another puzzle game that's a bit maze-like, but not as addicting for me.

DroidDice and Chess Clock do not count as games; they are tools for real face-to-face gaming.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paint sitrep

Happy Lundi Gras! Here's a quick sitrep before we go paint some more.

Bathroom: One K&B purple window done. Need to obtain an L-shaped shower curtain rod. We will paint this room later, but it's a light blue right now.

Bedroom: Walls, ceiling and trim done. A nice rich darker than sky blue. Needs ten minutes to paint an accent stripe on two windows.

Dining room: Walls, ceiling, trim and the archway shelves done. Needs a third coat of edging around the crown molding. Chocolate and a rich soymilk color. Accent stripes done, need touch-up.

Front room: Same as dining room.

Game room: Walls, ceiling, trim, mostly done. A very light cream on two walls. and a red velvet cake red on the other two walls. Needs second coat edging basically everywhere.

Hallway: Walls and ceiling done; the four doorways need a second coat and touchup on the lintels. Bathroom door needs sanding, priming, and painting. Three out of four accent stripes needed.

Kitchen: Walls and ceiling done in a sagey light green. Baseboards in a nice dark cucumber. Two windows need outside trim done in white, doors need a touch-up/third coat. Accent stripes in Limealicious.

Laundry room: Feh. Most everything is the original peachish; most everything is behind appliances. A later project.

Office: Walls, ceiling, trim done. Needs second coat on ceiling edges. Same color from the front room/hallway/dining room plus a darker toasty caramel.

Unless otherwise noted, trim and ceiling are white in semigloss and flat ceiling paint, respectively.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lurching alongside a recap

Yes, I do in fact still blog occasionally. Thanks to my loyal readership and the power of RSS for those who still follow me. I have not posted an article here in about three weeks, so I don't know how many of you are still checking daily or weekly or what-have-you. But no matter; what are the real purposes of this blog? Let me talk about what has occupied my time.

I have discovered the time sink of both Facebook and Twitter. In some ways, as I've said elsewhere, Twitter is the opposite of blogging, but it does scratch a similar itch. The carefully-nurtured compulsion to write a considered op-ed piece is somewhat assuaged by intermittent 140-character blasts of information. I do not mind tweeting, I just need to balance out what I write and how frequently I do write. On some small level, Twitter forces better writing with its size constraints, something like 55 Fiction or the the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I have a history of working well with creative constraints. I like cultivating the habit of using fewer words to convey thought more succinctly or eloquently.

Facebook is a great black hole for attention. I don't mind saying hello to old friends and seeing what they're up to; but I draw a mental line against the constant tagging of memes or applications requesting my participation. I'm already not playing enough games I want to play, much less these virtual semi-Pokemon-collection activities. Go read this Time article on how Facebook is more popular than pr0n. What would Maslow say?

I Belong to a book club at work. So far, the roster has included:

  • The Road
  • Those Who Save Us
  • Loving Frank
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Broom of the System

I liked the first two, didn't finish the last three. I have always instinctively known that I didn't care for NYT bestsellers, but two out of five is not so bad. But I want to read so badly. I eagerly look forward to building shelves and opening boxes and finding treasure.

The house. O, the glory and agony and woes of owning a house. We've owned for three months and have yet to move in. Our target date is the long weekend of Mardi Gras. Those who follow me on Twitter know how much time we have spent painting; for the last week we've had floor guys finishing up doing what needs doing... which prevents painting. I stand by my decision that we needed to paint before moving in, but I still don't love the time it takes to actually prep and paint an entire house. I know that we're saving money by doing it ourselves. I told this to a buddy of mine: "You must learn what you can do, what you can't; what you can learn, what you don't want to do, and what to outsource." Like security decisions, house work (not housework) is a trade-off between time and money and skill and need.

Yes, I still do play games. I've kept my promise to not buy any new games until we live in the house/unpack the game room. On my radar to buy/play: Fallout 3 for Windows/Xbox; Left for Dead for Windows; Portal; Small World, a reimagining of the board game Vinci; Red November. I still have a gift certificate from my Secret Santa burning a hole in my pocket. Probably once a week I'll hit Jay Is Games for some casual Flash goodness.

I have not stretched my geek-fu lately; but I'm aware of colliding satellites IN SPACE, Open Source hardware hacking, forcing Ubuntu and OS X to play together, the future of mobile computing, and two kinds of wireless power.

We have too many things and too much stuff. I look forward to a purge and a cleansing and all sorts of other organization.

NOCCA is still awesome. It is a great environment to work in, and I love the constant exposure to art and creativity.

I don't like to talk about politics or religion, but there have been some nutty things going on in the last month.

It's Mardi Gras in two weeks! Happy Carnival! Eat you a king cake, see you some parades.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

2008 games in review

Seems like everyone else is doing it, so why can't I?

In 2008, I logged 565 plays of 182 different games.

By keeping track of what games I play when, I can A) remember what I've played and B) let someone else do a ton of number crunching to reveal some interesting trends. I know that it's a dark and slippery path down the road of over analysis and statistics, but it is damn handy to know that I haven't played game X in over a year, or that my plays of game Y indicate that I should check out game Z, and so on and so forth. For me, once I got into the habit of capturing the data I let someone else process it and don't think about to too much, so it's a very lean-back process for me. I got into the habit during the Austin years and have kept with it. Props to Ian of Sky Castle Games for the encouragement.

BGG has a tool that generates your "five and dime list," showing games that you've played at least five or ten times, respectively. Some people have quarters, half-dollars, or even dollars. Let's break down the Mischa Year in Gaming 2008. As always, you can read more about these games at BGG, or buy them at Funagain (use that link and I get a kickback).

I only have one for this year: Race for the Galaxy, squeaking in with 26 plays total. What can I say new about Race? It's a fun game with a lot of front-end upload before that first play and no direct player interaction (at least, not until the second expansion). I recently played the first expansion for the first time, which includes a drafting variant that looks beyond my ken right now, but it got me thinking about ways to make Duplicate Race akin to Duplicate Bridge (which may yet be part of the Olympics). The lack of direct interaction turns a lot of people off; but I still dig it. I wouldn't mind playing the two-player advanced version more frequently or giving the solitaire version a whirl to try out the robot player.

Quite a few dimes, not too many near misses.

Chase, 20 plays
Still a great abstract, and one of my few tens ("Always want to play and expect this will never change") that I play online at SDG. I don't log online play as a rule, with one or two exceptions, so this is twenty face-to-face games.

Agricola, 17 plays
One of the new hotness games, this is pretty popular with the crew. I suspect I'd play this more if we had the table space more frequently. I do enjoy it, but I feel my interest waning a tad for no particular reason apart from wanting to vary my gaming diet.

Ricochet Robots, 14 plays
This is an old standby that I've played many many times since at least 2001 or so. One day I'll have several old hands at the game at the same time and we can try some of the variants or even the reflecto-walls.

Sheepshead, 14 plays
Strange little midwestern card game; trick-taking, secret and uneven partnerships, plays with five and a regular (albeit abridged) deck of cards. Fun times.

Die Sieben Siegel, 14 plays
Another popular trick-taking game described as Spades plus Evil. I'd like to mix in some new blood with this soon. I know that I will return to this one in the future.

Battle for Hill 218, 13 plays
Even though this made my dime list, I don't play this enough. I also owe the designer a full review, but for now, let's say that this packs a lot of strategy into a little box.

Bridge, 12 plays
Yes, bridge. This is another life game that I don't dedicate time to study. It does scratch an excellent partnership itch that many other games don't touch.

Pandemic, 12 plays
Still losing! I think I generally lose two or three times out of four. I like this game and want to beat it, but I wonder if the decks of cards produce unwinnable states.

Abalone, 11 plays
Abstract strategy that has a few flaws; fixed with varying start positions. This would get played more frequently if I brought it out. I really look forward to having one shelf of two-player abstracts.

No Thanks!, 11 plays
Not much to say here; it's quick and plays five. One of the smallest rule sets I know, with wildly varying behavior based on play style.

Category 5, 10 plays
Another small rule set game. Plays with many, a good filler/intro game. We rarely play more than one round. Maybe I'll suggest we play with the variant to take points.

Jungle Speed, 10 plays
The sport of kings.

Set, 10 plays
I don't play this enough. Again, this is a game with a skill to develop.

Dominion, 9 plays
What addictive and popular crack this is. More later.

Blokus, 8 plays
Still a great abstract; one of my go-to games to introduce to new potential gamers. Summed up best as "Attack Tetris."

Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg, 8 plays
We've played this wrong a few times wrt declaration, but it's still a good fun game. I would love to playtest the expansion.

Bamboleo, 7 plays
Fun, but a little lacking in replay value somehow.

Word Blur, 7 plays
You need a nice big table for this one. I like that it's a word game about words.

Bohnanza, 6 plays
Absolutely the best game about bean trading that you will ever play.

Carrousel, 6 plays
Visual puzzle, skill-based, I'm good at it, there you go.

Liar's Dice, 6 plays
I think I'm done with this game, but I do know that there are different ways to play- I usually play the Perudo rules (lose one die), but others play the Bluff rules (lose as many dice as you miss by). I'll compare and contrast at some point.

Manhattan, 6 plays
A dozen plays later, and I worry that there's not a good way to catch up if you get stomped in the first round. Still want to play with the monster.

Oh Hell!, 6 plays
This one has fallen by the wayside in lieu of Die Steven Seagal. I'm also not playing a daily lunchtime game in Austin.

Army of Frogs, 5 plays
Fun abstract strategy that I don't yet own.

Briscola, 5 plays
So far, I exclusively play this two-player.

California, 5 plays
A lighter game about home decorating; I'm not sure how frequently I'll choose to play this.

Coloretto, 5 plays
A standard set-collecting type game, good to introduce to new players and a good design for the colorblind.

Colossal Arena, 5 plays
Did I tell you the story about not playing the correctly for a decade?

Felix: The Cat in the Sack, 5 plays
Bluff and mindreading; if that's up your alley, then play this. Gets better once it clicks.

Ingenious, 5 plays
One of the best games I've received as a gift. Lots of depth here.

Vitrail, 5 plays
Visual puzzle, skill-based, I'm good at it, there you go.

Pillars of the Earth, 5 plays
This hits a sweet spot for me: a bit of randomness, a grabby theme, building something together while competing. I recently played the expansion for the first time in 2009; it adds options and choices and players and length. Overall a good thing.

Ta Yu, 5 plays
My interest in this one is dropping, despite its popularity with the group. I think because there's a fair amount of downtime and partners are forbidden to discuss moves.

Time's Up!, 5 plays
I want more people. Need to have a card party to fill up the blanks.

Uptown, 5 plays
Sort of like reverse Acquire, I usually do badly at this but have a good time trying to plan out my disaster!

Wizard, 5 plays
This one has fallen by the wayside in lieu of Oh Hell.

Zertz, 5 plays
I need all of the Gipf games. I like how this one is about giving your opponent moves to force their move. maybe I will revisit checkers.

For kicks, here's the near misses at four plays per.
Arkham Horror
Dragon Delta
Hey! That's My Fish!
Traditional Card Games (This is a placeholder for games not in the BGG DB- I don't think this is actually four plays of the same card game.)

Moving on: I can dig a little deeper and pull out a list of new-to-me games in 2008 from the BGG extended stats cruncher. Insert the appropriate disclaimers about how I'm not a statistician, please. I played 87 new-to-me games in 2008; I played about a third of those titles more than once. At least six of these titles I actually have played before, but my data epoch starts at September 2006. A fair number of these are titles I do not own or do not wish to own.

Honestly, I think my game-playing slowed down in 2008. I look forward to having the game room in full swing. Also unpacking games I haven't seen in over a year. Also getting rid of games. My collection recently topped 400, and while a fair number of those are expansions or small games, a too large percentage of that number is either crap I thrifted or games that I've since lost interest in.

I promise not to wait months until my next game post.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Funniest. Star Wars. EVER.

Oh my god. I haven't laughed this hard since Noises Off. I managed to not fall out of my chair.

Behold, Star Wars [All three movies!] as retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi.

Direct link to video for my RSS friends.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NOCCA happenings

We're getting a new building and you are invited!

NOCCA Classroom Addition Groundbreaking Ceremony: Friday-January 16, 2:30-2:45 PM

NOCCA invites students, faculty, staff and friends to join us at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Classroom Additions on Friday-January 16, 2:30 PM in the Greenspace. We have also invited press and our supporting boards to join in the celebration. This addition will provide a new wing to include instructional space for Media Arts, Musical Theatre and Theatre Design.

Also, NOCCA has an "Open Studio" for potential students this Saturday the 17th; details in the newsletter.

Microsoft: scared or stupid?

With a reactionary title like that, you might imagine that I have a hard-hitting article full of insights and interviews and evidence.

Microsoft has released a beta version of their next OS, imaginatively dubbed "Windows 7." I actually don't mind the name that much; I think that XP and Vista are silly names for versioned software. "What version are your running?" "Butter Hammer Pecan Movement!" Naturally, everybody and their dog wants to see about the next version of Windows; chances are that they will have to, anyway, once Redmond stops supporting their OS of choice or their hardware fails or their machine gets too old and crusty.

For quite a few years now, people have used peer-to-peer programs, applications, and networks to transfer large amounts of data semi-anonymously. Remember Napster in the Bad Old Days? Nowadays, most people use BitTorrent to transfer large files, and rightfully so; the algorithm is pretty efficient and makes great use of limited network bandwidth by spreading around the traffic burden in a sensical manner. A lot of Linux distros have used BitTorrent, since they operate on a limited budget and bandwidth costs. I know that other projects use BT to spread around large media files.

Also there's something about piracy and porn. Whatever.

So either Microsoft doesn't want to use BitTorrent (if so, my guess is NIH syndrome- look at Silverlight, their response to Flash) or they don't know about it (seems amazingly unlikely, but possible; perhaps the decision-makers don't get good info). Folks are using BT to distribute the Windows 7 beta anyway. Be nice to legitimize it, right?

I'm at a loss.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Mischamas!

It's that time of year again- Happy birthday to me!

I got a call from my brother scant moments after midnight and got sung to, I opened a few presents and cards, and I stayed up late reading comics and looking at the internets.

I woke up a tad earlier than I expected (who cares? it's MAH BOITHDAY), and now my lovely wife is about to whisk me off to a delicious birthday breakfast and some hacking about town before who-knows-what happens this evening.

Remember, no matter how old you feel, having another birthday beats the alternative.

Whatever you do today, enjoy it.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


The famous Mills Didjeridu List brought me this video. Sound is a must, as is spending the 3.5 minutes to listen.

(direct link to YouTube video for my RSS friends)

I've got to play more.