Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Few Reasons I like Board Games

My wife and I now own over 125 board games plus expansions, so needless to say I enjoy board games. Here are a few quick reasons why I enjoy them.

  • Competition - I've always enjoyed competing at whatever I can. Sports of all kinds or fishing or work. Doesn't really matter, I just like competing against someone. Even though when it came to basketball winning really mattered, in board gaming it doesn't seem to matter as much. It's the competition that matters. One of the more prolific board game designers once said, "The goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning". 
  • Friends and Family - Board gaming allows me to spend time with friends and family, but not in front of a screen. I like watching movies and TV, but at he same time sitting across the table from someone and discussing the game or what happened during the day is just better.
  • Physical Components - I like all the card board, cards, wood, plastic, dice, and all the other items that come with board games.It's fun to see the map expand, build your city, or march your armies across the board and destroy your enemies before you!
  • Thinking - That's right. I enjoy thinking. I like trying to figure out the best strategy to use and watching as it either comes to fruition or is burns out in in a great ball of flames. It is good exercising my brain and seeing how the game mechanics come together and make a whole.
So there are just a few reasons I enjoy playing board games. So today on Thanksgiving, grab a game, a family member or friend, some left over turkey and have fun!

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Deer Season

    November 13, 2010 was opening day of gun season for deer here in Indiana. For the second year in a row I was able to kill a deer on opening morning. I thought I’d write a quick rundown how things went as the hunting trip progressed.

    On Friday morning Dad and I got the camper and boat ready, loaded them up with our hunting gear and tree stands, and then took off to Mounds State Park. The park is around Brookville Lake about an hour and a half away from Shelbyville. Once we got down there we set the camper up, made sure everything was level and secure, and then took the boat down to the launching ramp to go set our tree stands up. You may be asking, why do you use a boat to go deer hunting? Well, to put it simply, to get to areas that many other hunters can’t make it to by car. That way when the hunters come in off the roads, they push all the deer our way near the lake.

    I set my stand up in the same tree that I was in last year. I really nice straight Poplar tree in the middle of a bunch of thorns and undergrowth on a flat peninsula slowly jutting out into the lake. After getting the stand connected to my tree, we took the boat over to Dad’s hunting area a few hundred yards away by land, but around a couple points by lake. By the time 3:00 had rolled around, we were all set up and went to town to try out the local Mexican cuisine.

    At 4:00 AM the alarm goes off and we get out of bed. We microwave the sausage egg biscuits that we have in the freezer, Dad gets his coffee, and we go back through our stuff to be sure we have everything. Then it is off to the boat to get to our tree stands. The temperature was 42 degrees and there wasn’t any wind that morning.

    After getting all the way up in my tree, I dropped my backpack and had to climb back down to get it and then go back up the 20-25 that I’m in the tree. I was sweating by the time I was done, but I was finally able to settle down and wait for light. It was 5:59 when I settled in and very quiet in the woods, except for another hunting group going up in the woods a couple hundred yards off with the occasional stick breaking and their flashlights moving.

    It got light about 7am and soon after I heard the first shot of the new deer season. Opening morning is often like a small battle going on with shots being heard all around the woods. Even more so at Brookville, since we’re on the lake and sound carries very easily. The birds had begun to sing and squawk and after about 45 minutes of standing I decided to sit down.
    A few minutes later I hear something coming through the woods, I look up and see a doe moving broadside to me about 80 paces away. I quickly see that she will be going into the heavy brush South of me, so I make the quick decision to shoot immediately. I quickly raise my gun, flicking the safety off as I do so, put the cross hairs on her heart and fire right before she goes into the brush. I don’t see her anymore, but I hear her run a few yards and then a crash, so I’m thinking I got her. But since I didn’t see her go down, I’m just not sure.
    I decide to wait awhile though before going down to find out, since it is opening morning and perhaps I can get my buck for the season as well and be done. About 10 o’clock I look to the brush in front of me and see movement, eventually counting 3 doe, though I could only see their head and occasionally some feet.  When they went further away I stood up to try to see them and as soon as I did 2 other doe bolted on my right that I hadn’t even seen. So all in all through the day, I’d seen 6 different deer. Dad had see 9 deer, no bucks though, at his stand.

    Finally about 11 o’clock I climbed out of the tree, went up and found the doe I had shot, and field dressed her. Just estimating that she weighed about 125-130 lbs, which is probably a good 30 pounds heavier than the button buck I killed last year on opening morning.  I then had to drag her a couple hundred yards down to the shore so that when Dad came about with the boat we could throw her in and take her up to the gas station to check in and get the tag. I’m looking forward to having some nice deer steak soon!

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Customer Service

    I have been thinking about customer service a lot lately and how often we expect one thing when we are the customer, but when we are the one serving a lot of times we'll give another. I know that I've been guilty of this. However, I wonder if we should change are expectations sometimes of what to expect as a customer also we might change our expectations as the server as well.

    Most of what I'm talking about as a customer and as a server isn't going to take place on the every day level that you are probably thinking about. I'm not talking about being able to find a Wal-Mart associate when you are searching for that pillowcase that that you can't find. If we're honest with ourselves, that will never happen and that should be an expectation. I'm not even talking about wanting your sweet tea filled up at your favorite restaurant, but your waiter decided to go help someone else. What I am talking about is getting customer service from an expert. This can be an electrician, a plumber, or most often for what I'm thinking about a business to business situation.

    Sometimes giving customer service means telling your customer how it is. That old saying that goes "the customer is always right" isn't always true. For example, if I go into my mechanic and tell him I need to you fix my transmission and he doesn't tell me that it isn't my transmission that is the problem, but rather my shocks, I'd be pretty upset with him. Not only would I waste money getting a transmission fixed, but I'd also still have to have my shocks fixed. Same thing goes in business.

    Many times it is best to find out what the customer wants and give it to them, but not ask their opinion on how you get there. Even Wal-Mart does this. What do Wal-Mart customers want? They want cheap prices. Plain and simple. Wal-Mart gives them cheap prices, but skimps on other areas in order to do so. Even though I complain about Wal-Mart all the time, I still go back to them. On a business to business scale it works the same way. For instance if a customer asks for a widget, give them a widget. But sometimes they'll want to get more involved and try to explain how to make the widget to you. This is when, like the mechanic, I think it is best to remind them that you are the expert widget maker and you know how to do that. What they need to be worried about is what to do with the widget once it gets to them.

    So what is customer service? I would define it as giving the customer what they want, but only if what they want is actually what they need. In other words, don't give them a new transmission when they need new shocks.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    7 Wonders Review

    Since I’ve been logging games here on BGG, I’ve decided to write a review for every hundredth game played. I’ve begun calling it the Every 100 Games Series and enjoy the mystery of what game I will review next. My 2,100th game played was 7 Wonders.

    I think I first heard about 7 Wonders on one of the many Gathering of Friends reports that came out. I put it on my wish list as one to think about for the future. Then on Saturday of GenCon 2010 my wife and I heard a very excited voice yelling out with a French accent, “7 Wonders demo starting now”! I immediately pushed Krista over to the table and we joined the 7 player game. It was great! Three months later, a buddy brought his copy over and we played 3 games in a row. Here is what I like about the game and some potential complaints I could see people having about the game.

    First, I love the quick play time. Whether playing with that game at GenCon with 7 people or the games we played yesterday with 4 and 5 people the game took right around 30 minutes. This is a rare thing in board games. Often it seems, the more players you add, the more time you are adding to your game. 7 Wonders does an excellent job of not doing it.

    Second, the simplicity of the game is its biggest plus side. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that I can teach this game to non-gamers and gamers alike. One of the ladies we played with last night has just been getting into games and had absolutely no problem picking up the mechanics and playing competitively. You don’t have to have a huge big plan and over analyze each turn, you just keep one card and move on. This decision gets even easier as the rounds go on, because you have less and less cards to choose from.

    Third, the game is just fun. It’s really fun to see your wonder going up, getting that 3rd matching science symbol, or hoping that temple comes back around to you. The military mechanic also makes for some good fun as you keep trying to out build your neighbor. Then there is the hope that your neighbor on your left plays the clay pit, because along with the stone your other neighbor has you can put that important card into play.

    Potential Dislikes
    First, the price could be a downer for people. Essentially, 7 Wonders is a card game. There are 7 player boards that come with it and some wood coins and a few cardboard military victory points, but it is a card game through and through. $50 MSRP for a card game, especially one that has not an absolute boatload of them is tough to swallow.  I say all this though, but I do have it on pre-order, because I think it is that good of a game.

    Second, I think people will complain about player interaction in this game, especially when playing with 4+ players. There aren’t any attack cards where you can directly mess with your opponent. Unlike Fairy Tale, where you only play 3 of the 5 cards you draft, in 7 Wonders you play all the cards you keep. This means it is a bigger pill to swallow to just keep a card to stop your opponent from getting it. Also, when playing with 4 or more players, especially 7 players you can’t do much to effect the others. I think the sweet spot for this game might be 3 players, so everyone’s military affects everyone else’s.

    As I’ve already said, I have 7 Wonders on pre-order for when the English edition makes it over here to the United States. So, I obviously think it is that good. My suggestion for you though is this. If you enjoy games that are quick, simple, and don’t have player conflict you should pick this game up. If you absolutely have to have that conflict and want to be able to directly attack someone in your card games, then I’d try it before you buy. However, I am someone that likes a bit of meanness in my games, but despite no real meanness in 7 Wonders I love it! It started out as a solid 9 out of 10 for me and I can see it moving up to a 10. I foresee several dozens of plays in my future.

    Entertainment Binge

    What is it called when you do something and do only that thing for a few days, weeks, or months and then do something else non-stop and then after that something else? That tends to be me, which is good and bad. Right now I’m watching BattleStar Galactica non-stop.  Though I like doing this, sometimes things that are more important tend to get shoved to the side. Since usually these things have to do with entertainment and not productive things.

    Just this year here are some things I’ve done non-stop this year excessively perhaps. Early in the year I read all of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series non-stop. After that I decided to read through the Harry Potter series again. Then came the summer time and softball was always on my brain with games each week and a several throwing/practice sessions in there. Then comes August and Madden 11 for Xbox 360 comes out and I’ve played dozens of games of that. Now that fall has hit, since I read all the Harry Potter books, I decided to watch all the movies for the first time so for 3 weeks it was a couple of HP movies a week. Then I decided to build the Indy Boardgamers Website and the Indy Con website, so I’ve been spending my evenings doing that. Of course, throughout the year, I consistently play board games, but there are usually a few games I play a ton of and then don’t touch for months. Some of those games this year have included Macao, Founding Fathers, and Fairy Tale.

    So I guess I like to binge on entertainment. The more I’ve thought about it while writing this blog, the more I think that isn’t good. Everything should be in moderation. Going on an entertainment binge, not only makes me less productive (which I really like to be), but it gets in the way of my relationships with my family, friends, and God. So perhaps this year, I’ll try to keep things consistent and not go overboard on things. We’ll see how that goes.

    Epilogue: So I wrote this several days ago, but never actually got it posted. Why, you ask? Well, I borrowed a new Xbox game from a friend, then proceeded to play it for about 5 straight hours to 12:30am on a work night. So the sad part is that one part of my entertainment got in the way of another part of my entertainment in posting this blog.