So Spirit Island was definitely the new-to-me board game highlight of this year's Trogland meetup. Let's talk about it a little.
First off, Spririt Island is a cooperative game, which is always a big plus for me. There are a number of competitive games I enjoy of course, but all else being equal, coop is always more fun. I'm always glad to find a new, solid, coop game.
In this game, each player plays as one of several primal "spirits" inhabiting an island and taking care of the natives. Unfortunately, some punk colonists from who-knows-where have arrived and are messing up the place - like they do. Your objective as a group is to stop their spread, repair their damage, and ultimately eliminate them from the island - hopefully keeping the natives safe(ish) in the process.
Each spirit starts off in their own little corner of the island. As the game progresses, they will spread their influence, gain powers, and increase in colonist-stomping strength. On each turn, you'll "grow" a bit, and then try to find the best way to apply your current powers to the situation at hand. The growth and power mechanics have a satisfying feel to them.
Each spirit also plays quite bit differently from the next. Not quite Vast-level "different", but enough that it meaningfully effects the play and feel of the game. Also enough that, with all you have to keep track of just for yourself, it would be hard to concern yourself with what anyone else is doing. This goes quite a ways in preventing the "alpha gamer" problem where you have one person that wants to tell everyone else how to play.
Since only some of the Spirits will be at the table in any given game, the particular mix present also affects the overall strategy and the general progression of the game. Really interesting dynamics there, too.
The pacing of the game has an interesting reversal of many games. Many games start out slow and easy and ramp up to a certain franticness. Spirit Island is almost the opposite - you start off feeling pretty overwhelmed by the colonial presence, but as you play through turns and gain power, you quickly begin to out-pace them and, by the end of the game (if you're winning), you're pretty handily wiping them out. At first glance you might think this would be anti-climactic (and, I suppose it could be in some senses or situations), but it actually plays really, really well.
So yeah, really enjoyed this one. Like I said before, my favorite find of the weekend.
So last weekend we had our mostly-annual Trogland meetup. I say "mostly" annual because we missed last year for the first time since we started doing this thing back in '07. Things just kinda fell apart in 2018. At this point, it's mostly just me planning the thing with some input from some of the others. Not that I mind, really, but it's a significant task.
This year, though, I think went pretty well. We had a different venue which was a little smaller, but our old location inflated the price on us about 700% which was undoable. Sunday we actually spent in the game room of a local game shop, which was actually kind of cool.
We operated at a bit of a deficit this year. I was glad we had some cash left over from previous Troglands to break even. May need to tweak some things for the future, but overall not a big deal.
I think this year's Trogland went quite well. One of the cool things this year was that several of the kids were actually old enough to participate. I guess we're getting to be that age. I mean, we have been doing this for 12 years.
Games at the Trog.
So we played games, of course. I mean, that's what we do. Didn't get to run the Fate game I'd pitched, but after the massive Battletech encounter, several of the participants weren't up for a longer time commitment.
I got to play Stuffed Fables again - still only made it to the junk-pile page, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Played through Mysterium as a player, which was fun even if I was terrible (I'd been the ghost the previous 2 times).
The Mind is a very interesting game in its staggering simplicity.
Sheri played a game called Comanauts, which I understand to be similar to Stuffed Fables but with a darker, more serious sci-fi theme.
I got to play Pandemic again for the first time in years - and, for the first time ever, we won.
Unearth was enjoyable, though we didn't get to play a whole game.
I think the board game highlight of the weekend for me was Spirit Island - will be making a post dedicated to that one.
And, of course, I got to run the Battletech scenario, which always takes a long time but I always enjoy. Ran this one as a double-blind where both sides felt like they were the underdog and a countdown timer brought other conditions into play. It went just about exactly like I'd hoped.
That's just what I made it to the table for (or observed). LOTS of other games were played. Lots more fun was had.
It was a good time, as always.
Oh, and on Sunday at the game store we picked up Folklore, which we heard great things about from some other attenders and we're planning to try out tonight.
Over the weekend, Sheri & I played Between Two Cities with our daughter. We'd bought the game for her for Christmas - our friend Tony had recommended it as a good age-accessible game - but with everything else going on, we hadn't managed to bring it to the table before now. Actually, Hannah had even forgotten about it entirely.
Since Sheri & I are both into various tabletop games, we like to encourage that with our kids - especially with Hannah, now that she's getting old enough to really play some of the more interesting games. I mean, Candyland has its limits.
Between Two Cities is a great quick-play game for 3-7 people. The fact that it supports more than 4 players is an automatic bonus for us, since we frequently play games with larger groups of friends. It actually has a solo variant as well, if that's your thing. We played the game through twice in about half an hour or so. We were only playing with three, but because of the way the game works, I don't imagine that increasing the number of players will greatly affect the play time (I'll let you know if I find out differently). The game has a competitive goal, but it is actually played cooperatively - which is a very interesting dichotomy.
During the three "rounds" of the game, you will be building two different cities: one with the player to your left, and the other with the player to your right. On each turn, you'll choose a couple of tiles from your hand, and you will to place one in each - then, you and your partners will decide where to place the tiles in your city for best effect. There are several different types of tiles, and each scores points in a different way; the goal is to create the best cities you can with what you have. Note that you have to focus on both cities, because your personal score will be equal to whichever of your cities scores the lowest.
Hannah loved the game. At 7, she can't quite keep all of the considerations in her head while placing tiles - but then, neither can I. She said she really wants to play it again, though she's also really excited to play Stuffed Fables and to do more No Thank You Evil. She went to bed that night having encountered, for the first time, the "Gamer's Dilemma": So Many Games, So Little Time.
Last night was supposed to be our third D&D session of 2019, but alas, it was cancelled due to a player or two being sick. So instead, the healthy among us busted out a couple of small box board games.
The first one we pulled out was called "Play Me". It's an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed dice-rolling game that starts competitive and then (probably) becomes cooperative.
The basic mechanic is that you're trying to be the first to roll a 1-6 straight on six dice, only keeping one die per roll. You can "block" the other players to slow them down, and each of the characters you're playing (Alice, the Cheshire Cat, The Mad Hatter, etc) starts out with a unique ability that aids them in this endeavor. However, once you've won a round, your card flips to the "Madness" side: you lose your special ability and gain a pretty serious detriment. The design consideration seems to be that it should be possible for someone to win with their detriment in play, but it should be unlikely.
If you do pull off a Madness win, you win and the game is over - but if no one manages this before all players have flipped to the Madness side, then the game changes: the last person to win loses their character - and becomes the Jabberwocky. Everyone else flips their cards back over to the advantageous (aka "Wonder") side, and they, collectively, must now win multiple rounds before the Jabberwocky can drive them all Mad.
Overall this was a simple but fun game. Not one I could play for hours, but it has an interesting flavor and is definitely fast-paced. The competitive/cooperative dynamic is also interesting. I think our game took about 20 minutes, and that seemed like the "right" amount of time to spend on it. The artwork is really cool, and the dice are pretty. Also, I love Alice in Wonderland, so that's a plus for me. (Sidenote: In case you're wondering, this is the best movie version.)
Tiny Epic Quest
We started to play Tiny Epic Quest some weeks ago, but really only managed to get it set up, sort of figure out the rules, and stumble through a couple of turns. (Note: learning the game takes some effort.) I was just starting to really get into it when we had to quit for the night. Last night, we cracked it open again.
For being so Tiny, this game is pretty complex - or, at least it has a lot of components and aspects. And a lot of fiddly bits.
Basically, the game works like this:
The game is played over 5 rounds, each of which has a Day phase and a Night phase. During the Day phase, you move your three heroes to different locations on the island kingdom - usually to complete "movement quests", to get boosts from "Mushroom Grottos", and/or to set yourself up for the Night phase. During the Night phase you "Adventure". Here players take turns rolling the Adventuring Dice, which will damage them, give them Power to help aid their efforts, increase the world's magic level (so they can learn Spells), and allow them to progress through temples and attack goblins. Some symbols rolled will benefit everyone, others only affect some players based on who rolled them, the relative seating positions of those at the table, and the number of symbols rolled. Adventuring continues until all players have said they've had enough and declared that they're going to "Rest" - at which point the Night Phase resolves and the game progresses to the next Day.
Objectives for earning victory points in Tiny Epic Quest include learning Spells, completing Quests/Temples, and fighting Goblins. Learning Spells increases your magic power, defeating Goblins increases your health/toughness, and completing Quests gives you some boon to aid in your adventures.
Scoring at the end of the 5th round works something like games such as Agricola: you get points for Quests, for defeating Goblins, and for learning Spells. The more of one thing you do, the more points you get - but ignoring one of those aspects actually costs you points as well, so you'll want to keep that in mind. You also get bonus points for each Legendary Item you recover (which you do by completing certain Temples according to your hero card). In only 5 rounds, you probably won't get "everything", so you'll want to plan where you're going to focus without getting too specialized.
We played this one for an hour and a half or so before we had to call it. I think we made it into round 4, so we didn't have a lot more to go. I found this one to be a lot of fun, and I look forward to playing it again. While it is complex, once you get your head around the different aspects, it's actually pretty straight-forward - and since everyone's movement choices and die rolls offer opportunities to all of the players, you don't get too bored during other players' turns.
Production value on the game is pretty high - which is what we tend to expect these days. All of the components are well designed and produced, and the implementation of meeples that can actually hold items is highly amusing as well.
When not playing our tabletop rpg campaigns (see also: most of the rest of this blog currently), we've enjoy busting out some board games. Every so often, we pick up a new one that we really like. Here's what we've got into over the last year or so:
My wife loves the Ticket To Ride games. A lot. We own most of the iterations and have played them more times over the years than I could possibly count. We've occasionally tried other train-themed games, but TTR had always remained king.
Then about a year ago, I got her Iron Dragon for Christmas. Since then I think we've played TTR maybe twice. I mean, I can remember playing it once for sure. There might have been another time. I dunno.
This is actually an old game from the 90s, but it was reprinted in late 2017. The game involves connecting cities like TTR, but you also have to deliver goods from city to city based on demands, and manage your cash to build new rails. It's everything we liked about TTR, and then some.
Iron Dragon is a train-based, empire-building game with a sort of fantasy-industrial flavor. Each city on the board produces one or two resources, and you have cards that indicate which cities want which goods. You build track to deliver the wanted item to the city, and you get paid - the harder it was to get the item there, the bigger the payout. Then you draw another demand card and expand your rail lines into new territory. You can hire different foremen to help you build in different regions, and upgrade your train to go faster and carry more.
If there's one negative to ID, it's that it's a long game. Playing with one other player when both of you know the rules well, a game takes about 2 hours. If you add more people or you're playing with new players, add an hour or two.
It turns out that the Decemberists got into playing board games. Back in 2016, they hired the designers at Twogether Studios to create rules for a game based on the arcane, antiquated aesthetics of a photo shoot they'd done some years earlier, and launched a Kickstarter to fund it. When one of my favorite bands wanted to do a project with one of my favorite hobbies, I was all in.
Since I got my copy back in late 2017, I've played it quite a bit, and it's one of the games I love introducing to people.
Illimat plays like a classic card game with some modern, mechanical twists. It has enough recognizeable elements to be extremely accessible, but enough novelty to make it interesting. The game is played in hands, where player attempt to "harvest" cards from different areas of the playing field. The changing "seasons" of each area affect which actions you can and cannot do, and the "luminary" cards add additional, transient rules.
My friend Rucht and I actually got to talk with designers of the game on our Table Dragon podcast a while back. We had some issues with the audio quality, but the conversation was a blast.
I do tend to get my wife a new game for Christmas each year. For two reasons, really. One, she likes board games, and two, she is really difficult to shop for.
We also have this tradition of playing boardgames around the Christmas tree during the holiday season. In fact, it's probably the season where we play the most games.
This year, I wanted to do something different. I'd heard about "legacy" board games, but had never played one - so I did a little googling for one that was well-reviewed and looked like the kind of thing my wife would be into. I settled on Charterstone.
Let me say that this game is awesome. It's a fairly standard (if complex) worker-placement game, but the legacy elements are amazing. The introduction of mechanics a little at a time is a great way to build a complex game, and the unfolding story is interesting and surprisingly....odd. We're six games in to the 12-game campaign, and it continues to surprise us with new aspects.
If you pick up this game - which I do recommend - make sure you only read what you're supposed to, and make sure you read that very, very carefully: if you don't do something just right, you can screw stuff up. Probably not irreparably, but enough that it will affect future games. Also, don't overthink it: just do what it tells you to do, make sure you've got it all, and then just play with what you know. The game will build itself from there. Really cool.
This was one of the many games introduced to me by one or more of my many gamer/board-gamer friends. This one I've only played once so far, but I've got to mention it, because it's so cool.
First, the premise of Stuffed Fables is awesome: all of the players are the stuffed animals belonging to a little girl. They protect her at night, of course.
Second, the game progression is interesting. It plays a little like a board game, a little like an rpg, and a little like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Basically, each page of the game book contains a bit of story and a game board with a given objective. The players move around the board and perform actions based on their character abilities and the objective on that "page" of the story. After completing the actions on that page/board, you flip to another one based on what happened.
The game has an interesting dice-drawing mechanic; most of the other mechanics of Stuffed Fables seem fairly standard, but well implemented. It's a cooperative game as well, which I always enjoy. Also, the miniatures look awesome, and I can't wait to paint them.
I heard cool things about this game online and encountered it in passing at our (mostly) yearly Trogland Meetup, but I didn't get to play it until more recently. It did not disappoint.
Vast is a pretty unique game in my experience. The premise is a group of conflicting parties all wanting something from a given situation - specifically, a situation involving a cave, a dragon, a knight, a theif, a tribe of goblins, and, of course, treasure.
Some of the goals are mutually exclusive, but others are not. I may not get the specifics quite right, but it's something like this: The Knight wants to kill the dragon. The Dragon wants to wake up and leave the cave (presumably to sow chaos elsewhere), the Theif wants to steal the treasure. The Goblins want to kill the Knight. The Cave wants to collapse on all of these noisy intruders so that it can rest.
Each player plays one of the above roles (including the Cave!), and has their own set of actions and abilities to perform on their turn. The first to accomplish their objective wins the game.
Now, when I say that each player has their own set of actions and abilities, I mean they each have their own unique set of mechanics. This makes the game very interesting, but also very difficult to learn. In most games, if you're new, after a brief overview you have someone else go first and you just kind of watch what they do to get the gist of how the thing works. That method is utterly useless with Vast, because what the other players do has literally nothing in common with what you'll be doing. And, unfortunately, the rulebook could be several orders of magnitude more clear on a lot of things. I recommend google and youtube if you don't have someone handy who knows how to run your particular entity to get you going.
It definitely has a learning curve, but it's definitely worth it.
There are several other games we've played a little and enjoyed as well. Boss Monster, Smash Up, Clank, Kodama, and Rise of Tribes come to mind. There are probably others. That last one I only got to play a partial game of, but it seemed really neat.
Our daughter has also started getting into games a bit. Her current favorites are Sleeping Queens, Set, and Decadolo. We got her Between Two Cities for Christmas, and I'm looking forward to trying that one - as soon as she cleans her room.
There are, of course, always a number of other games I've heard good things about that I'd love to pick up at some point. Right now that list contains KeyForge, Terrra Mystica, Gaia Project, Scythe, Swords and Strongholds, Also love to play Roll for the Galaxy again.
I'm sure there's something cool I've left out. I think in the future I'll try to post these one at a time as we pick them up.
We (Tony, Sheri and I) played two new board games over the weekend.
The first game we played was Thunderstone. This is a game that I heard about at GenCon in 2010. It's a lot like Dominion in terms of game play. It's a deck-building game where the goal is to accumulate cards that give you points at the end of the game. The primary difference is in thematics. Instead of accumulating coins to buy Provinces and other victory cards, in Thunderstone, you fill your deck with hero and weaponry cards that will help you defeat monsters, which are worth points at the end of the game. We had a good time with it, though we didn't actually figure out how it worked until about halfway through.
The other game we played was Steam. This was a game that I got Sheri for christmas, and we've only just now gotten around to playing. This game is somewhat involved - we only played the "base" game - and we only mostly figured it out. It is something like a cross between Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne. Essentially, you lay track tiles to connect cities in order to move trade goods to and from cities to gain money and points. We didn't get all the way through the game we started, but what we played was a lot of fun.
So, Sheri and I were trying to save a little money this year with respect to Christmas gifts, etc. Also, I like to think I'm a pretty creative guy.
My parents (particularly my mom) really like golf stuff. They know me and Sheri like all kinds of games, so I decided that making a golf game for them.
The mechanics of the game went through several incarnations over the months leading up to the holidays, but there were a few things I knew I wanted from the beginning:
1) I wanted a modular course. Something like tiles that could be combined in a large number of combinations to make different holes.
2) I wanted a dice mechanic for determining the distance/accuracy of shots.
3) I wanted a choice mechanic for choosing clubs
4) I wanted a fair degree of simulation - including mechanics for wind, hazards, fairway/rough lies etc
5) I wanted some fun chance effects and one-time-use cards that could modify shots with theme-based effects.
What I ultimately came up with did a fairly good job of capturing these things, though I'm still not 100% happy with it.
A given hole is composed of 6-inch hex tiles hex-gridded with 1/2 inch hexes. Each tile has coterminous fairways such that the tiles can be layed out to form a hole.
Each player will have 4 clubs (a Driver, an Iron, a Wedge and a Putter) as well as a Ball. Each of these items can indicate certain traits - a club might have a tendency to hook or slice and a ball might have a tendency to bounce and roll. Using a given club is determined by how far away you want to aim.
Shots are taken by aiming for a given hex and rolling four dice - two pairs which represent the two axes - left/right and forward/backward.
Each player also gets a number of cards that can be played on him/herself or on other players that have a variety of effects: making lies better or worse, gusts of wind, mulligans, etc. These cards are played once and then discarded and players can gain more cards as the game progresses.
There are, of course, a great number of nuances to the particulars of these basic mechanics - and I think there are still some things that could be streamlined - but that is the gist of it.
I playtested this game with Sheri a bit before we gave it to them, and the four of us played a game when they were here. I think they liked it and, overall, I think the project went very well.
|Thursday December 23, 2010 at 5:57pm||job search, holidays, board games, gaming, photography, birthdays, friends, family||Comments (3) »|
Well, the Blog has been neglected of late. I guess that happens.
My job search has continued with rather sparse results. Still looking.
Sheri & I have been trying to finish up Christmas stuff, which I think we've managed to do. We're trying not to spend lots of money this year, but we really like giving things to our friends and family. This has presented some challenges - some of which have been met wonderfully, some of which have been significantly more frustrating. All in all, though, I think it's going to work out.
Apart from the more mundane aspects of my life, there have been one or two things of interest.
I've been working a bit on board game design for a couple of projects about which I may go into more detail at a later time. Llama and I spent quite a bit of time last saturday night discussing one of these in particular and I think it has quite a bit of potential.
The two rp games I've been running have been going well. The plot in my London 1802 game is coming to a head and I'm interested to see how it will turn out in the end. The Sandstorm game left off for the holidays with a bit of a cliffhanger as the party exited the local wise-woman's cave to the sound of surrounding war-horns. On a related note, I'm woefully behind in my session write-ups. The last two sessions for each game have yet to be elaborated upon. The synopses are really only for my benefit anyway, but I do need to take (what will now be a few hours worth of) time to flesh those out before I can no longer remember them. I'll probably have to reference Sheri's notes as it is.
My birthday weekend was relaxing and cool. On saturday night Tony & Adam came over and we played Dominion and watched a couple of the old Pink Panther movies (Peter Sellers ftw). On sunday we had our last Rogue Trader session (Rucht's game) for the year and Stacie made me peanut butter birthday brownies which were *awesome*. They even stopped the session and sang to me. My friends are cool. :-D
I spent this last monday afternoon shooting portraits for the Hippies. This was a new and interesting experience for me, and I learned quite a bit from it. I've been told the pictures turned out pretty well - they look good on my computer screen anyway. One or two will get put into my Portfolio for this year at some point. Also, I've discovered a poor-man's lighting solution: If you can't afford studio lights but you have a decent flash (with a pivot/swivel head), a 2'x3' sheet of white foam board positioned a few feet away makes a pretty good bouncing surface for indirect lighting when you don't want to bounce from the ceiling or there is no usable ceiling.
At the moment, I'm taking a break. Today we've been finishing up our christmas stuff and cleaning the house in preparation for Sheri's mom, dad & aunt who are coming to stay for the holidays. They're supposed to get in sometime late tonight and I think our current plan is to stay up playing board games while we wait for them - probably some Dominion and Touch of Evil, which were two of Sheri's birthday presents this year.
Wow, s'been almost a month since i've keyed something into the ol' blog.
Probably not much to talk about has happened in that interim. Let's see...
I previously mentioned a podcast called Fear the Boot, but at the time it was only with respect to their interview with Matt Vancil. I'm going to bring them up again because since that mentioning, I've really become a fan of the show as a whole. I should mention again that Rucht actually told me about this podcast a while back and correctly guessed I'd enjoy it, but to this point I hadn't given it much of a try. As someone who likes to listen to amusing group commentaries on independent projects (often listening to the commentaries on the first Gamers movie as well as those for Red vs Blue) and someone who loves talking about gaming in general, this thing was indeed "right up my alley", so to speak.
Now, when I get hooked on something, I tend to go all the way - so a few weeks ago I manually downloaded all of their stuff (at the time, 8.2 days worth). Generally, when I'm doing whatever (work, mowing, driving, working on my own projects or just playing on my computer) I tend to listen to music, movies and/or (especially) commentaries as a fairly constant backdrop... ...so for the last few weeks, I've been listening to the guys at Fear the Boot. It has been quite enjoyable to my taste - and I've made it through almost 3/4 of the show's history.
Anyway, looking back...
On Monday I started my World of Darkness game, and I thought the first session went very well (as always, there's a synopsis on the gaming page). We had 4 players and a 5th is planning to come next time, so we've got a pretty full table. I'm pretty excited about this game (and the current WoD system in general). I have some interesting ideas for where this campaign might go so I hope it sticks together.
This game was started in the interest of doing something a bit more regularly than our Mouse Guard game, which has some pretty severe scheduling limitations. Still, I in no way want to abandon Mouse Guard since that game is pretty awesome too...just...sparse.
Our friend Nick is finally back from Saudi and he introduced us to a new game called Citadels last weekend. It's a pretty cool, simple & relatively quick little card game. He also has Dominion, which I've been wanting to try, but we didn't get to it last weekend.
Edit: Played Dominion tonight (May 1st). *Great* game. We'll probably pick it up at some point.
Way back on the 10th I got to playtest an RPG I previously mentioned having thought up and written in about a week. This game is called Bot. There's a (very) brief mechanics-less description of the concept and a synopsis of the session on the Gaming page. I thought it went very well, everyone seemed to catch on quickly and have fun and I was very happy with it.
Way, way back on the 7th our GitP friends Stacy & Tracy stopped in on us JC folk, wherein we played some games and ambushed Llama with nerf guns (this is becoming something of a tradition). It's been a while, so I don't remember what all we did, but we I know had a good time.
In terms of the less interesting, we've come upon the lawn mowing time of year again, and I've been doing a bit of that. I actually enjoy the exercise, but it just takes so long to do. We've been talking about getting a rider for some time...maybe sometime this year.
I'm not sure if I'm back in the swing of things or not. I was actually kinda looking forward to work after being gone last week, but so far I don't have any fun projects. :\
Sheri's mom's surgery went as well as could be expected, I think. It wasn't nearly as bad as last time. When we left AR, she was still in some pain, but seemed to be recovering pretty well.
The week was largely uneventful. I spent a lot of time writing gaming notes for World of Darkness and playing on the lappy while they watched TV. I posted some more detailed info on my plans for this game on the gaming page.
We did play some games we brought (Settlers, Pillars of the Earth, Ticket to Ride), particularly with Ben & Brie when they were there on saturday, and we did enjoy simply spending time with her family.
I also took about 300 pictures of random stuff outside around their property, which was fun - it had been quite a while since i'd had the opportunity to got shooting. A couple are pretty good. I may post 'em somewhere.
Not much on the calendar for the next couple weeks as of now. Ginger, William and Liam are planning to come and visit on the 27th and are going to hang out with us for about a week. That will be lots of fun. Apart from that, there's the thursday evening gaming group I'm playing in... ...and that's pretty much it.
|Sunday June 7, 2009 at 4:14pm||festivals, music, gaming, gitp meetup, board games, video games||Comments (0) »|
This weekend was Johnson City's annual Blue Plum Festival. Basically, it's a weekend event that takes over downtown JC the first weekend in June. I did, in fact, see some people selling(?) plums, but they were pretty sparse. Mostly it's a bunch of crafts/vendor booths, tons of festival food, and three stages spaced just far enough apart that they don't overlap acoustically (too much).
This was the first year that I would say we've "gone" to the festival. We went and walked around a little a couple years ago, but didn't do or see much - but that was largely ok since it was about 97 degrees. This year, we met up with some friends and enjoyed an afternoon of meandering around together - and I was having a good time taking some pictures. We also met up with some other friends of Robb & Edie's and also with Mahto and some of his buddies so that by the time we had dinner at Mid City, we were a rather sizable group (aside: we still have to get together with Steven for a game of Munchkin).
After our tasty dinner, we went back to a particular stage to see a band called Cutthroat Shamrock. They had been compared by some friends of mine to groups like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys. They are basically an Irish-flavored punk group. I wouldn't say they were amazing, but it was a good show: they all played their instruments well and had good stage presence and personality. About the only "critique" i would give is that most of their songs had the same kind of sound. It was a *good* sound, there just wasn't much variety. Still, i think a couple of friends picked up a couple of their records, and i liked them enough to be interested in hearing some more.
Some pictures of the Blue Plum are up in the Gallery.
(kinda) Speaking of, i'm looking into possibly picking up my music hobby again sometime soon for some song writing (maybe for next year's rpm).
In gaming news: I finally got to continue my Little Fears game from RuchtCon! I love this game, and i've greatly enjoyed coming up with spooky stuff to put in it...though after i've been working on it, I find i'm a little edgy at night. I think I empathize a little too much with the children in the story. Anyway, If you've taken a look at the Gaming page recently, you've seen the novel of a session summary i've written up for it.
Still looking to start up Mouse Guard, but it probably won't happen until next month, due to scheduling.
Also, i'm working on finalizing (finally) the simple mechanics for the homebrew roleplaying system (which still needs a name) that i've been working on for the past...too long.
The 3rd Annual GitP Southeast Trogland meetup is fast approaching. We've had several people cancel on us unfortunately, but we're still expecting a decent crowd and fun times. That'll be 26th-28th of this month.
Played the zombie-killing board game Last Night On Earth for the first time on friday. Despite dying in the first 5 minutes, it was pretty fun. It seems pretty much straight-up die rolling players-vs-zombies though, as, apart from trying to get some 'hero cards' (w/ items or special actions) to play, there really isn't much else you can do - and strategy seems to generally boil down to "do we want to be together, or separate?" Answer: together.
Anyway, post-game thoughts: 1) The Sheriff sucks. Yes, i know he's the only character that gets to start with a gun. You know what? He sucks with that gun. He forgets to load it and, even if he has some, he can't hit the broad side of a zombie. 2) If you are the priest, do whatever you can to get the pitchfork. Yes, I know that doesn't make sense, but the priest can't use guns. I (somehow) killed like 8 zombies with the pitchfork. It felt ridiculous, though awesome. 3) In theory (statistically), it's much easier to kill a zombie with a gun than with something like the pitchfork. In practice: yeah right.
As for the Wii, i'm currently addicted to Excite Truck - a stunt-racing game Rucht gave us for christmas. It has a bunch of unlockable stuff, and it's capable of some pretty impressive crashes. Sheri's kind of good at this game, but mostly she just sucks really, really well.
Wanting to go ride our bikes, but we're waiting for Sheri's ankle (which she hurt a while back) to be (more) fully recovered.
A brief mention of some recent board games:
A group of us played Talisman again last night. It was much faster and smoother the second time through and we opted to play with some of the 'alternate rules' for faster play. Even so, it took nearly 3 hours, but that could largely be due to the fact that we had 6 players. It was an amusing and enjoyable game. However, i've decided the game is a good 50% luck - as poor Robb and Llama couldn't get a break, yet i somehow managed to defeat ogres and dragons as a lowly thief (I think i used up all my board game luck for the next 3 years in that game. Seriously.). Oh yeah - it should also be noted that we've played this game twice, and Robb has been turned into a frog 3 times. Hehe.
Sheri and I spent some time this afternoon learning to play Pillars of the Earth - a game that my sister got us a *long* time ago and we'd yet to pull out. In this game, you play master builders each trying to contribute most to the grand cathedral being built. To do this, you send workers to gather wood, sand and stone and hire skilled craftsmen to make the most of your resources. Some other elements in the game (some predictable, some not) make these tasks easier or harder. We've only played it half a time (we only made it to round 3/6), but it was cool and i look forward to playing it again.
In other news, I saw a game called Agricola at Hobbytown a while back. I've not played it yet, but as i understand it, you basically start out with a family of two on a small homestead, and as you produce resources, you're able to expand your population, capacity, etc. I'd not heard of it, but i thought it looked really cool. I've since heard from some others that it's been very highly rated and some people i know who have played it say it is indeed most enjoyable. This is on my list of games to play.
Last night's christmas party was fun. Ginger, Tony, Rucht, McKenna and Finn came over for spaghetti, presents and hanging out. McKenna had to leave early, but Rucht stayed around until Finn got too cranky to be up.
After he left, Tony, Ginger, Sheri and I played a game of uber Carcassonne - as of last night, we have all but one tiny expansion. The game is now massive and barely fits in its box.
I played with my new toy (camera) a bit. I'm still learning it, but it's very nice. Took some pictures of Finn and some of our game-playing. At Tony's request, I got one of Optimash Prime joining our Carcassonne game. I'll start posting these at some point.
Rucht & McKenna gave us Settlers of Catan - a game that I've heard lots of good things about, but never got to play. In addition to that and the Carcassonne expansions, I got my own memory card for Ginger's game cube (hehe) and Sheri got a pair of yoshi slippers(!).