Friday, October 29, 2010

New Website

This week has been a stressful one at work. All day every day it feels like someone has been at my desk, on my phone, or in my inbox with stuff to fix. I enjoy being busy and I enjoy the rushed nature of it, but at the same time it makes me want to relax in the evening.

Now normally I'd relax to a good board game or some Madden or maybe a good action movie. This week though I've been relaxing differently. I'm involved in putting on a local board game convention each year towards the end of February or beginning of March. This coming year with be the 4th year for this convention, the 3rd year that I've been actively involved in organizing it. One thing that we've been seriously lacking is a website for not only the convention, but our local game group. So I decided to build one.

I did this once before in high school when I had a board game group called the Cornstalk Board Gamers. That website was pretty horrible compared to the one I've got going now for the Indy Board Gamers. The tool on is a pretty good tool and I feel like I've got at least a good start on the site. It'll be better when I can add more information and improve it a little bit. This week I did spend several hours in the evening "relaxing" building the website. I like creating things sometimes I've noticed. Pine boxes, storage shelves, websites, and Excel spread sheets. Even at work I enjoy creating an assessment now and then.

Here is the site:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Alien Frontiers

Do you try before you buy? My board gaming history began in junior high and high school when I’d have friends over to play Settlers of Catan, Samurai Swords, Risk, Tikal, or a game of my own creation. It was good fun and I got lucky, because all of the games I bought were completely blind purchases for me which even included Acquire and Tikal (two excellent games).

Then I moved to Iowa and started the 13th Tribe out there. Again, since I was the main board game provider, games were coming from me and so I purchased several games without playing them. However, this time I had at least read some reviews on them and so was generally successful with my purchases which included things like Puerto Rico, Bang!, and Carcassonne.

In 2007 we moved to Indianapolis and joined the Indy Boardgamers. Now I was no longer the main provider of games, not only was I not the main provider of games, I was way down on the totem pole with several of the gamers have 200+ games in their collection. Also, the main organizer of our group is a part of the “cult of the new” as we call it in the gaming world and was constantly getting the newest and shiniest game on the market. So now I can try before I buy pretty much anytime.

The latest example of this for me was Alien Frontiers, the first game from Mojo Games, and one with an interesting story. The guys behind the game went to, got enough money to start their game company, and produced the game. It has excellent quality, especially for a first time publisher, and I was really pumped to buy it. However, by the time I was ready to pull the trigger, the whole first print run of 1,000 games was sold out. So walking into gaming on Sunday I saw one of those 1,000 copies in Mike’s hands. I immediately claimed a seat at the table and we began.

I won’t go into the specifics of game play, but here is a real quick overview of the game.  Players are colonizing a planet with several different regions on it that give bonuses to the player that controls them. There are different areas around the board that players place their ships (3 to 6 six-sided dice) to get things such as fuel, ore, build new ships, place colonies, steal from your opponents, and trade fuel for ore. On your turn you roll your dice, place them on the board following the appropriate combinations that are required for the different type of spaces, and then they stay there until your next turn. The game ends once one player has placed six colonies. You score points for each colony, for each region you control, and then there are a couple cards that give you 1 point each.

My feelings on the game were very neutral. In the four player game we played there was a lot of downtime between turns, the spaces where you placed your ships (dice) depended more on what numbers you rolled than what players already placed there (It only seemed to matter who had placed there in the ore area, since higher numbers prevented you from placing there), and since you roll dice on your turn there isn’t any planning ahead. I’ve heard some say that this game will replace Kingsburg in their collection. I don’t own Kingsburg, but do enjoy it when played with the expansion, but if I did own it this wouldn’t replace it for me. This is one of those cases where I’m really grateful that I tried before I purchased the game. If you like dice-rolling and worker placement games such as Kingsburg, Stone Age, Yspahan, and others you should try this game. However, I would suggest making sure you do try it before you buy it. Since the first print run has sold out, you will have to wait before you buy anyways, so find one of those 1,000 owners and don’t spend your hard earned money without experiencing the game first.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Between the Ant and the Barns

Recently I've been considering money. If you know me well, you know I tend to be a tight-wad when it comes to most things. There are a few things *cough* board games *cough* that I'm willing to spend some solid cash on, but for the most part I don't like spending money. Sometimes though I realize that I can focus on the cost of things too much. There are a couple verses I'm thinking about that relates to it.

Proverbes 6:6-8:
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

Luke 12:13-21:
13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
 14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
 16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
 18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
 20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
 21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Proverbs talks tells me to go to the ant, the planner and "stingy" creature of nature, and consider how she works hard and saves money for winter. Then Luke tells me to remember that though I plan all I want and save all I want and prepare all I want, but my soul can be required of me at anytime. Both truths are in scripture, I need to find the balance of being a penny-pincher saving for retirement and the now-moment person who spends his money without consideration for the winter.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lots of Games

The 13th Tribe Extravaganza was a success! At least I think so. We'll have to wait until next year to see if there will be a second annual Extravaganza next year.Here are a few things that I really enjoyed about the weekend.

I really liked all the games of course! I got to play a total of 16 games over the weekend. Which is great! Some of them were better than others, but for the most part, they were all pretty good. I especially enjoyed playing a game that I've been on the fence about buying called Dungeon Lords. The game leaves me with a feeling that I could have just done a little better. I enjoy games that make me feel that way such as Agricola, In the Year of the Dragon, Galaxy Trucker, and others.

The food was great as well. There were plenty of snacks to go around such as crackers and cheese, cookies, chip, twizzlers, and even some cornbread and brownies. Then on Saturday we had some great chili prepared by Krista. Even with two large crock pots full of it, all but one bowl was eaten.

Then, of course, the people were fun as well. It was good meet some new people and play games with some old friends. It was awesome to have the Sheltons stay the weekend with us. I look forward to when Nathan and Landon are old enough to join us for some gaming, which isn't too long away.

It's interesting how everyone has their hobbies, whether it is snowboarding, quilting, going to the movies, or board games. It's nice to be able to do my hobby for 3 straight days and to have a great wife that lets me do that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Girl

I like opening my blog with a question I've decided, so here is the question for this blog: You know those times you feel really "grown up"? Today was one of those days for me. Krista and I went to the doctor's office to find out what gender our child that is growing belly is and without a doubt it's a girl!

This was the latest time that feeling "grown up" really hit me. For some reason, I didn't feel that way this time around when Krista told me she was pregnant, but now that I know it is a girl I do. The first time, with Kaylee, when Krista told me she was pregnant, that made me feel all grown up though, but now when we found out Kaylee was a girl. Sorta weird I know.

Other times I've felt grown up. When we were looking to purchase our first house. Not so much the actual purchasing of it, but the quest in finding just the right one, in the right price range, in the right part of town, with the right look to it. Then there was that day dad left me at college. We were in the Vennard gym, he shook my hand, and said "I love you son. Don't let anyone borrow your car." Then there was the year, I think I was 15, that I was working 50 hours a week mowing grass for the family business. It was just be and my buddy and we got stuff done. We'd work 10 hours every weekday and sometimes on Saturdays and then golfing or fishing on our day off. I felt grown up then. Perhaps my earliest memory of feeling grown up is when I was in Sparkies in Awana's at church. I was in 2nd grade, had a cool red vest, with a ton of pins on it. Man, was I the man!

So now, my latest experience of being grown up is realizing that I'm the Daddy to not one, but two beautiful little girls who depend on me to show them how a man should be. I'm guessing I'll mess up plenty (already have), but I'm looking forward to life with them. Perhaps they won't be hunters or fishermen (maybe you never know), but I'm sure we'll share a good board game here or there, have a fun time watching The Princess Bride, and spend a few good nights playing in a tent that is their castle while the princesses look out for the big dragon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Planning for my first "House-Con"

I really enjoying going to board game conventions throughout the year. This year I've made it to 3 different ones: the IBC (Indy Boardgamers Convention) in February, the Geekway to the West in St. Louis, and GenCon (not really a board game convention, but that is what I do a lot of while I'm there). It is just great to have nothing to do but game for 3 or 4 straight days! There are several other conventions I'd like to make it too eventually, but just don't have the time or money to do so. These include KublaCon on the West Coast, BGG.Con in Dallas, and the grand daddy of them all - The Spiel in Essen, Germany.However, as of right now, it doesn't look like I'm going to make any of these cons anytime soon.

Earlier this summer I was listening to the On Board Games podcast and they began talking about conventions and more specifically - house conventions. The more they talked about it, the more I wanted to do something like that. Each month we host a 10 hour session of gaming, but I wanted to try a little more. We've also had another couple over for a weekend of gaming, which is great, but the more people you have the more options you have, so this weekend is our first house convention, which I'm calling "13th Tribe Extravaganza".

Here is a list of what decisions I made coming into the weekend to make sure that everyone had a good experience:
  1. Kids are awesome, but they can be very distracting and detract from the fun of a board game, so I made sure to implement a kids are welcome rule. However, the adults must switch off watching me so that the other parent can play a game undistracted.
  2. I specific starting and end time each day, so that I know I'll get at least 7 hours sleep each night.
  3. Kept the cost as low as possible per person, but realized needed to charge to cover costs of toilet paper, cups, paper towels, etc. We're also having chili one day, which we are making, so needed money to pay for that too.
  4. While discussing keeping the cost down, it stopped me from getting a customized dice for everyone. I really wanted to do this, but just couldn't justify the extra $1 or $2 per person it would be and didn't want to spend the money myself.
  5. We have an annual Puerto Rico tourney, as I stated in my last blog, so I built a trophy to give away to add some excitement.
  6. Table space. I don't have the biggest house in the world, but with the basement it isn't that smallest either. For normal game days we have 2 or 3 tables going at once, so I'm planning on more. We'll have 3 tables upstairs and at least 3 tables downstairs for the weekend. The bigger issue will be getting enough chairs to fill those tables. Right now I have access to 27 chairs, so I'm hoping that is enough to handle the peak time I expect on Saturday.
So those are the 6 main things I thought about for this weekend. I'll let you know how it went next Monday. I'm excited!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gunsmoke and Trophy Making

Yesterday I got my black powder .50 caliber rifle out and shot it a few times. It was shooting high last year, so I lowered it a couple clicks, where I feel it is a bit more on. I even took a shot at 90 paces, which is give or take 100 yards or so. Can't say my aim was that great, but I feel confident I can hit what I need to hit.

After that I went to change the oil on my truck, since it has been about 3,000 miles since it has been changed. However, after lifting it up, I realized another reason I can't stand Wal-Mart. They changed my oil for me last time, because I just couldn't get down to Shelbyville to do it myself. They cranked the plug on extremely tight and also rounded the nut, so I couldn't get it off. I'm going to have make a visit to Wal-Mart tomorrow to get it taken care of.

Since this upcoming weekend is our 5th annual Puerto Rico tournament, I figured it was about time we had a trophy for the winner. So I took a pine board and using a jigsaw cut a circle from it and spray painted it gold, which I then mounted on another mahogany stained board. Now each year the winner of the tourney has a something to hang on their wall to brag about. Later this week I'll post more about the 13th Extravaganza, which is what the PR tournament is a part of and then afterwards I'll write about how it went.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One of Those Days

You ever had one of those days where everything just isn’t going right? Today was one of those days for me. First, I woke up this morning at 6:02 and needed to leave for work by 6:15. I quickly got out of bed and turned on the light. I picked out the shirt I was going to wear and was looking for a white t-shirt to wear under it. I couldn’t find anything, all the whites where in the laundry, after waking my wife up I finally found an old McGregor’s Furniture t-shirt with paint on it to wear. I threw it on along with my dress pants and dress shirt and went to make my lunch quickly.

Getting out the kitchen I am rushing all over to get my peanut butter and apple butter sandwich made, along with throwing few chips and an apple in my lunch box. I then remember, right before I head out the door, that I was supposed to advance the week in the Madden 11 Online League where I’m the commissioner.  So I run downstairs, turn on the Xbox, run upstairs and head out the door. Of course my garage door clicker isn’t working properly, so I have to get out of the truck and hit the button and jump the laser while sliding under the door to shut the garage door.

Finally in the truck, I remember to turn off the radio, because I’m dedicated to spending some time in silence throughout the day this week. I begin to relax a little, thinking I won’t be so awful late, and that work today should be pretty easy. I pull in the parking lot and get my usual spot close to the light pole and close to the front entrance of the building. It’s a beautiful morning and though things were rushed, I enjoy my walk into to the building and through security.

I get inside and go upstairs to my cube. Turn my light on and reach to turn my computer on and then realize that my laptop is at home! Every Wednesday night I bring my laptop home, because I’m part of a pandemic response team, but I forgot to bring it back to work with me this morning! I’ve made this mistake in the past, but have realized it before I made it all the way to my desk.
Not happy about this, I set my lunch box down and grab my cell phone from it, since I just put it in there each morning so I don’t beep when going through security.  Then I quickly try shoving it into my pocket so I can go home to get my laptop. However, my left pants pocket won’t open.  Why not you ask? I’ll tell you why not, because I’ve washed a piece of gum inside it and now it has melted all along the inside of the pocket and is fastening the fabric together! Oh the morning is sucky.

So to end my story, I finally get home, fumble with my keys in the front door (remember my garage door clicker isn’t working), and grab my laptop and race back to work. You got to understand, where I work there are 4,000 other employees that work there also, so parking is a premium. I’m much further away now, because it is nearly an hour later that I arrive. I go through security, get my computer running, and make some Chai tea and try to relax again as I’ve got a full day of work ahead of me and no time to worry about what just happened. Except to write this little adventure down.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mancala & Less Noise

This past weekend was our youth group's fall retreat. To be honest with you I wasn't all that excited about going once the weekend actually got here. I'd had a long week at work, hadn't really done anything all that exciting all week in the evenings, and so I would have rather pursued some of my hobbies rather than go on the retreat. Turns out though, God knew what I needed, and I enjoyed myself and perhaps focused a bit.

The week was all about taking time to stop throughout your day and turn off the noise of life to listen and commune with God. There were many different suggestions, but the one that I took to heart was leaving the radio off in the car and using that time to focus on God. So that is what I did today and it was a lot harder than I thought! We'll see how the rest of the week goes.

As for Mancala, it is a 1500 year old abstract game where you try to collect the most beads by moving them around 12 circles on a wooden board. Doesn't really have to be wooden, doesn't have to be beads, doesn't have to be circles. This game could be played with some rocks and lines drawn in the sand. I convinced Josh to play 3 games with me Saturday afternoon, while we were waiting for an activity to begin. I had a good time! I'm not sure if Josh did as much, but it was nice getting to know him a bit more and interesting to discover that though it isn't the greatest game in the world, Mancala has stood the test of time for a reason.

So go out and play a game of Mancala and before you do pause to think about how time-tested the Word of God is.