Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 "New to Me" Games of 2010

I played 71 "New to Me" games in 2010. Here are the top 10 and some reasons I liked them. Then I'll also tell you about my 2010 Dust Award, which goes to the worse game of the year.

10. Taktika -  Take some wooden discs and mark them cavalry, infantry, and archers. Then clear your table and start flicking the discs at each other. You've now got Taktika. This disc flicking game is just great. At first when you play it, you think not a problem, I'll easily just flick with dexterity and precision, but that isn't the case. The game is as much about setting up your shot as it is your ability to flick the discs. I liked it so much that, since it isn't made anymore, I made my own version with wooden discs, some wood glue, stain, and a wood burner.

9. Macao -  This one is part of a series of games that Krista and I collect, so I was going to buy it regardless. Good thing it turned out to be a winner! It uses dice in a very interesting way where it forces you to choose between getting something minimal now or waiting for a big pay off later. The problem is that if you don't take some minimal options you might never get the big pay off. A unique game.

8. Tammany Hall -  I like mean games and this one is exactly that! This game takes place in 19th Century New York on one of the most beautiful and cool looking boards of any game I've ever played, not just in 2010. Basically you are trying to stack the vote in your favor by "encouraging" the different nationalities such as the Irish or Italians to vote in your favor in each election. The best part about this game is that if you win the election you get a relatively large amount of points, but you then have to give everyone else some real cool special abilities that they use against you. This is a great game. Another neat note about this game is that I know and play games with the owner of the publishing company who put this game out - Stratamax games. Sorta neat seeing it go from prototype to the real thing.

7. Cyclades - There are several things I like about Cyclades. First, the production. Every person has uniquely molded armies and ship and it came with 5 large monster figurines. Second, I absolutely love the auction mechanic in this game. When you are out bid for the god ability you want, you can't immediately rebid on that god, you have to bid on something else. This makes your initial bid very important. Third, I like the fact that basically only one person can attack each turn by land and only one person can attack by sea. It makes for some important bids each round. A great game.

6. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer - This is a deck building game that just feels free. It lets you do as much as you can possibly do on your turn and has a very quick set up time. Has quick game play is just fun to play. This isn't for strategy gamers as much it is for those tactical gamers out there who like to asses their best move this turn, do that move, and then see what happens next.

5. Diamonds Club -  Sadly, this is the only game on the list that I or someone I play games with frequently doesn't own. I would own it, but it is like $60 here in the US, plus shipping, so I just can't bring myself to get it. This one's theme is about some high highfalutin' club and building parks and stuff like that. But the game play itself is great! It has a very interesting worker-placement mechanic that is in a way, almost an auction. IF you ever get a chance to play this one, make sure you do.

4. Hansa Tuetonica -  Yes, the name sounds like someone farting in a huge manner. Yes, the board is uglier than an Orangutan's backside. Yes, this game is great! This is about as pure Euro as you get when it comes to board games. Just push some cubes around on the board. I've played several times and I'm still not sure what those cubes are supposed to represent. The game play though is engrossing and there seems to be a lot of different ways to win. This isn't a family game, but this is a game that you and your gaming buddies can enjoy using your brains on.

3. Founding Fathers -  Creating the constitution of the US of A! Nothing could be more exciting. The way the cards work in this game is absolutely great and the tension you get by wanting a bill to pass, but at the same time wanting to be on the losing side in order to be sure that the bill taking place in the committee room passes in your favor makes the game. It plays in about 75 minutes and has been excellent with 3-5 players. This will remain in my collection for a long time.

2. Dungeon Lords - The theme ion this game is just great. You are a Dark Overlord defending your dungeon against adventurers. How do you do this? By hiring vampires & imps & trolls of course! Then sending them into the tunnels of the dungeon to fight those do-gooders. What I enjoy the most about this game, which is the mark of a great game, is that you feel behind the 8-ball the whole time. You always need more food to pay your monsters, more gold to buy traps, and more imps to mine your tunnels. It leaves you wanting to play again after each game.

1.  7 Wonders - This game crams what feels like a big time strategy game into 30-40 minutes of play time and it does it well! The two biggest things I enjoy about this game is the card drafting, which is just a fun mechanic and keeps everyone simultaneously involved in the game so there is little to no down time. Also, because of this you can play up to 7 players and the game still takes the same amount of time! With out a doubt a great buy for me this year!

Finally, the 2010 Dust Award. A few years ago I played a game called Dust and it was horrible. Since then each year, I call games that I don't like Dust games. For 2010 the Dust Award goes to...drum roll...Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs. York. This was 3 hours of my life wasted. Basically all you do is blind bid the whole game. This wouldn't be so bad, but nothing stays! So you do all this blind bidding to put soldiers out there on the field, but even if you win or lose they all go away. Just horrible.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Revolutions

Yeah, I messed up the title on purpose. Seemed fun.

You knew it would be here as it always happens this time of year throughout the world. People decide to do some New Year’s Resolutions! Then they break them by January 12th. Well, I’m not going to disappoint; here is my list of resolutions for the year. I’ll even include the odds that I’ll complete them.

1. Work out. What a surprise, you say! Yeah, well if everyone else can have this one, I will too. But, as I’ve had drilled into my brain for years in business school, a non-specific goal is worthless. So here are my specifics for this resolution. First, I was going to say do P90X like no other. This is still a possibility, but doubtful. My goal though is to lift weights, ride the bike, or play some sport that makes me run (we’re not talking softball here), at least 3 days a week. This will allow me to get back to 180 lbs (I’m barely above this) and more importantly feel better. I’ll also have such a ripped physique that the IMPD will make it illegal for me to mow the yard with my shirt off (Okay, this part isn’t really a goal, just something funny). Percentage of completing: 12.5%.

2. Relearn the guitar. I used to serenade the local old ladies with my guitar playing and crooning from the open window in my old apartment. Okay, all of that is a complete lie, but I did used to play the guitar a bit. I’ve now accomplished all the education that I feel I’m going to accomplish in my life, so this is the next step for becoming a well rounded person, while becoming less round around the middle by working out. So here is the specific goal: play well enough to bring the guitar to a campfire this summer and have some people sing along (By sing along, I mean they sing, while I play). Percentage of completing: 25%

3. Play all my board games at least 1 time. For some of you, this might not seem like a very big resolution. You might just say, not a problem, I’ll do that this weekend. For me though, this is a bit more of an endeavor. Currently, according to my reckoning, I have 131 board games, card games, and expansions for them. So I’m thinking, without counting right now, that I’ll have about 100 base games to play in the next year. In the past several years I’ve probably played about 300-500 individual sessions of games, so that means this year anywhere from 10-30% of the games I play in 2011 need to be a unique game I own. With a 2nd kid on the way, this might be difficult. However, I talked to Krista about it and she is on board (get it?). So my odds are better. I’ll probably have to have several guy nights to play one longer game to be sure this gets done. Percentage of completing: 83.333333% or the chances of rolling anything but a 6 on a regular 6-sided die.

4. Not right so many blogs with lists! I do this a lot. But I’m not going to be specific about this. Especially since my next blog is going to be “the Top 10 New to Me games of 2010”. Please don’t ruin your life while waiting in anticipation for this next blog. 

Thanks, your friendly neighborhood list blogger guy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

John Wayne Movies

I give credit to my Uncle Dave up in Minnesota for getting  me hooked on John Wayne movies and Louis L'Amour books. I remember going up to visit and seeing his awesome "western" room with a full cut-out of the Duke, movie shots on the wall, and his huge collection of movies.

It's been awhile since I've watched some John Wayne movies, but this weekend for Christmas I got my dad a book called 501 Movies You Must See and in that book I'll bet 50% of the westerns were starring Wayne. That reminded me of how much I'd enjoyed watching his movies in the past, so when I got home I looked up what was available on Netflix streaming of his. Here are my quick reviews on the three I've watched in the past 3 days.

  • Stagecoach - This is the only one that was in the 501 Movies book and it was a solid western, though being 71 years old, I think it loses a bit with the quality of the film and the sound. Where it does well, which is classic Ford (director), is the big sweeping shots of the stagecoach traveling through the country side. I'm not sure I'd qualify this one as a "must see", but it doesn't hurt to see it.
  • Trouble Along the Way - In this one Wayne plays a former college football coach who had been kicked out of coaching for rules violations. He is a single father fighting for the right to keep his daughter, so he takes a job at an old Catholic school to help them out. This is less about football and more about the daddy/daughter relationship. It was just ok. The ending is weird. It is my least favorite of the three I watched this weekend.
  • Flying Tigers - I'd seen parts of this one before, but finally watched it through. I liked it! Some good comedy, some good drama, and some good friendships on screen. Wayne, with his American way, is great and the supporting cast I think does a good job of showing the comradrie the Flying Tigers. I'd say this is closer to a "you should see" than a "must see", but if you like John Wayne - then see it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Miracle of Christmas

A couple Sundays ago, Tom Macy, one the pastors at my church preached a sermon about the miracle of Jesus’ birth. However, he came at it from a direction I haven’t often heard a preacher go with a Christmas sermon. The main text was from Revelation chapter 1 where Jesus is described as an awesome warrior-type person who is triumphal in all things. This huge, all-powerful being, that instantly strikes fear in the heart of John, enough to make him fall down and cower. The miracle that Tom spoke about wasn’t that the tiny baby in the manger became this all powerful God. No the miracle is that this all powerful God, became that tiny baby!

So what does that mean to you and me? Often when we think of Jesus’ love for us, we think of the cross and all the pain and suffering that is associated with that cross. The lashes, the beard being pulled out, the crown of thorns, the nails in his hands and his feet, and the absolute torture it must have been for him to draw each breath. We don’t think about this all-powerful being, this God of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, humbling himself to become the little baby in a manger. Not only would it have been a humbling experience for Christ to just become human in general, even as a great king or exalted prince, but He chose to become a dependent child!

I’ve held Kaylee in my arms when she was seconds old. There is nothing in this world that is so dependent on life, at least in my opinion, than a new born human child. Think about it. It takes us a year or two just to learn to walk. We can’t feed ourselves for longer than that even. Absolutely everything we need to survive and succeed we depend on others to give us. Now, think about how humble and how much you’d have to love someone, to become that dependent again. Now, think about it from Jesus’ perspective. He was the provider of EVERYTHING to everyone. He made the world and the people and now He was willing to depend on the very thing that He made and depended on Him. He became the small baby crying for his mother’s milk or soiling his clothes and needing them changed. The great loving huge God of the universe, he became the small completely vulnerable child for you and for me. Now that, my friends, is the true Christmas miracle.

Philippians 2:5-11
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

I think I'm starting to enjoy documentaries more than I should. I mean, documentaries are for old people right? You know the intrepid reporter looking into the history of neckties. That is about as exciting as all get out. In the past year though, I've watched 3 documentaries that I really liked.

First, Second Skin is a documentary about some people that are into World of Warcraft and other Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). It follows them and how dedicated and ruled they are by the games they play. How it effects their family and how it effects their friends and how it effects their life. It goes to show that too much of just about anything can be bad for you.

Second, National Geographic: The Fellowship of the Ring, is a good solid look into the LotR world, the movies, and just things Tolkien. Now, of course I'm predisposed to like this one, but nonetheless I think you should watch it.

Third, this is the one that causes this blog post, is The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It's essentially all about two people. One is a classic arcade gamer for the past 25 years, while the other is a down on his luck teacher who picks up playing a single classic arcade game. You see both of their quests and the rivalry that grows between them. I know this sounds about as nerdy as can be, but I tell you that I was entertained. Thanks to Sean for suggesting it to me. So go out and watch a documentary. You might learn something about this strange world we live in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

6 Years of the 13th Tribe

You know when there is something you do for a long time and it is just fun each and every time despite the work or the effort you have to put into it? That is hosting a game group for me. This past weekend was the last meeting of 2010 for the 13th Tribe (which is the name of the group). As I was playing games, I thought about all the fun we’d had as a group over the year, and let everyone know that I glad they’d been able to come.  I’m looking forward to next year!

However, I wanted to take a quick look back on the 6 years that I’ve hosted the group. I’ve wrote about this stuff before on, but since it has been a year since I’ve done that, I felt like writing about it again. The group really started in the fall of 2004 when I moved in to an apartment with a new roommate named Ed O’Connor. I had known Ed for a few years and we were excited about getting some gaming in while living together. By January 2005 we had begun meeting regularly in the apartment with just a few of us at the small homemade table that we had. This continued over once Krista and I were married, but by 2006 it was obvious we needed a new place to meet as we were too cramped with just one table in a small apartment.

So in 2006 I talked to the Smokey Row coffee shop in Oskaloosa, IA and got permission to use their conference room for free every other Thursday. This is when we saw quite a bit of growth and were getting 8-12 people out a night for gaming. Then in 2007 we moved to Indianapolis and immediately started a game group here, mostly of some gamers I’d met at GenCon and some family and friends. It has since continued to grow and now I’m actually have had to turn away people, since our basement can only handle so many people a day.

Why, do you ask, has running this game group been a good experience for me? I’ll tell you. It has allowed me to meet some great people, who I consider friends. The best part of it though is meeting these people who I wouldn’t normally meet. We’re from all different walks of life from teenagers still in high school to married men in their late 50s, from Democrats to Republicans, from Christians to Atheists, from have big families to single people, from hard-core Ameritrash gamers to elite Eurogamers (I threw that one in for the gamers reading this one, they’ll know what I mean), from retail sales associates to cartographers, from game designers to video reviewers, there have been all kinds of people that I’ve had the chance to meet and get to know a bit. That is what has made organizing this group a great experience for me! Oh yeah…the games themselves has also been fun too.

Here are a few quick stats about the group over the last 6 years:
·         163 different people have played at least 1 game with us.
·         600 sessions of games played (since 2007).
·         167 unique games played (since 2007).
·         28 people is the largest attendance to one event.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


On Monday I got my PHR. You might be thinking, "Wow! A PHR! What is that sometime of car, maybe a plumbing device, or perhaps a new iPad like device?" No, it isn't any of those things. It is the Professional of Human Resources certificate - which is similar to the CPA in the accounting field, but in the human resources side of the house.

Getting my PHR was surprise for me honestly. I mean I've always planned on getting it, since I decided HR was the place for me, but when I say a surprise I mean while actually taking the exam. I was thinking there was no way I'd be passing it. But I did, so what does that mean? It means more to me than I thought it would. I feel like I accomplished something, which surprises me. Since all it really is, when you knock it down to the essentials, is knowing enough at a specific point in time in your life to join some club of other people who have bought into the idea promoted by a company that their certification is the way to go.

Having my PHR doesn't make me a better person, or in better shape, or sweet-awesome smart. It doesn't even give me a pay raise... yet. What it does do though is show that I'm willing to jump through the hoops that education and certifications are and  I am dedicated to my chosen field of work. So, though I have planned on getting my PHR, I never thought I'd feel as accomplished as I do now that I have it. I don't feel better than anyone else, I'm not a better HR person because of getting it, but it is a personal accomplishment that is nice to have.

Now as soon as they make a professional certification in board gaming, that's one certification I'd be all about having! Perhaps I should make that company and give that certification out. The Board Gamer of Professional Level certificate. I can see my name now....Adam Daulton, BGPL. Let me know if you'd like this certificate and we can work something out.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Louis L'Amour Books

I first read a Louis L'Amour book when I was 12 or 13 while visiting my Uncle David in Minnesota for Thanksgiving. I'm pretty sure the first one that I read was either The Ferguson Rifle or The Iron Marshall. I've loved them ever since. He was collecting them, which I thought was cool, because I like collecting! So I decided to collect them as well. Several years beyond a decade later I have 110 of Louis L'Amour's books, though for the past 3 or 4 years I've sorta stopped actively searching for them.

That is going to change. I think a good early New Year's Resolution will be to finish the collection. There are a few left that I need to get (I'm not going to count all the Collected Short Stories they've come out with recently, because many of those are already in other books). Here are a few quick suggestions if you want to experience L'Amour at his best!

  • The Daybreakers
  • The Haunted Mesa
  • The Walking Drum
  • The Californios
  • Hondo
  • The Iron Marshall
  • Kilkenny
Also, I once passed through L'Amoure, ND which is named after him. That was cool.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Bathroom Experience

So today I'm at the far urinal in the bathroom at work. The one against the wall. I'm standing there doing my thing, when an old guy comes in. He walks over behind me (I mean right behind me) and starts messing around with the toilet seat covers that are mounted on the wall for people to grab. He keeps shuffling around back there and I'm thinking what the world? Is he afraid of germs or something and is just getting a ton of those covers? I'm getting more nervous now.

So as I wrap things up, I notice that he still hasn't gone into a stall (there are 3 open), but is sorta just standing outside the one occupied stall. Then all of a sudden he goes into a stall, leaves the door open and starts rolling all the toilet seat covers that he has taken into a ball, while still standing in the stall. He then drops the ball of toilet seat covers in the the toilet. This is when I walk out and wash my hands quickly. About 5 seconds later, he walks out and follows me out as I leave.

It was weird.