Thursday, March 31, 2011


In Genesis God gives mankind dominion over the earth. A few years later the game called Dominion was made. Dominion is a game with 10 stacks of 10 cards and which means each game is customizable to what stacks you want in it. At the beginning of last week I played a game with Caleb and Jake on Sunday and then on Monday just set the game up and left it set up and played games for the next week with Randy, Caleb, Dad, Michael, Kenyon, Katie, and Krista. We just kept rotating out stacks of cards 2, 3, or 4 at a time, with the occasional complete reset. In this way we played a total of 20 games over 10 days going through all 103 stacks of cards we own, which does not include the expansion Alchemy or the promo card Stash. It was good fun!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Top 25 Games of All Time

I've now played over 400 different board games in my life time. Wow, I just realized that is like saying, I'm now a huge geek. Okay, I am. To make myself even geekier, I'm going to do a list of my top 25 Games of All Time, as of March 20, 2011. I'll try to put links of each game and perhaps a quick sentence or two about why I like them. For a game to get into my top 25 seems to me to be quite an accomplishment (if board games have accomplishments), since that is only about 1/16 of all the games I've ever played. So here they are:

25. Ra Starting the list off with Ra, an Egyptian auction game, that with 3 players especially is exactly right. It is also number one in the Alea Big Box series, which also gives me an extra reason to like it.

24. Tikal. I've owned this game since around 2000 and still enjoy it. With 4 players and using the auction variant in the game, there isn't a better area control game out there for that situation. The art is great as well.

23. San Marco. This game has a mechanic that is similar to what your mom would do to you and your brother when you were kids. He gets to cut the last piece of cake, but you get to choose which half you want. San Marco does this and added with area control (my favorite mechanic) makes for a very fun game.

22. R-Eco. The first of two Susuma Kawaski designs on this list. R-Eco plays very quick and very well for 2-5 players. I enjoy the tension of trying not to illegally dump (yeah, that is fun to say), while still trying to get all the cards you need.

21. Keythedral. I still remember the first time I played this "nice" Euro when a buddy of mine screwed me over by using one of the law cards. I have loved the game since. It has meanness in it that isn't in many Euros, since you can specifically target another player.

20. Traders of Carthage. Though this plays up to 4 players, two players is the way to go with this one. The cards are used for everything from money, to goods, to points, to barrels. Though the theme doesn't really have anything to it, the art of the cards and the board are beautiful.

19. Pillars of the Earth. This makes the list, but with one caveat, played with the expansion. Pillars is a great engine building game where each turn despite hiring a great Mason the previous turn, a even greater Mason comes up the next turn. The expansion adds not only more board, but the additional craftsmen make the game go from good to great.

18. Endeavor. The smoothest game ever. It just flows from one phase to the next seamlessly. The art is gives the feeling 17th or 18th century maps. The game itself has just enough screwage and player interaction. It is just a good game.

17. Gheos. The perfect mix of Carcassonne & Acquire, this game gives me the feeling of being a mean stock investor. It is one that will grow on you and with 3 players, is a very fine game.

16. Fairy Tale. Despite it's pink box and confusing icons, Fairy Tale makes for an awesome filler. Plays extremely quick, we're talking 10+ minutes, and for ages 8 and up. Put that with some fun decisions and you've got a real winner.

15. High Society. This game makes for some extremely tough decisions in a very short amount of time. Not only does it make you worry about not having the least amount of money, but since you can't make change on your bids, you have to be very careful with what denominations of money you use and when you use them.

14. Dungeon Lords. Sadly, this is a game I do not own, but I love it. You play an evil dungeon lord sending your minions out to gather gold and food and hire monsters to destroy the goody-two-shoes who come knocking on your dungeon door. Every time I play this game, I finish thinking, I could have done just a little bit better.

13. 7 Wonders. Just came out last fall, but quickly rising on my play and like list. This game uses drafting like Fairy Tale, but does it with up to 7 people and in 30 minutes. With great art and the quick play, 7 Wonders deserves a place in any collection.

12. Founding Fathers. Yes, it is a game about the Constitutional Convention, but it is great! Brings the card driven aspects that I enjoy so much to the multi-player format and does this in 75 minutes.

11. In the Year of the Dragon. A friend of mine once described this game as hitting your head with a hammer less than everyone else. I agree with him. This is basically a disaster management game, where you are doing everything you can to not lose people and buildings, but knowing that you will lose some people no matter how hard you try.

10. 1960: Making of the President. I love the ebb & flow of this game. Really makes me feel like I'm part of a presidential election. The very tough decisions of what cards to play and what cards to block your opponents from using is excellent.

9. Lord of the Rings: TCG. I used to play this game exclusively when it was still active. Now that people no longer play it though, I don't get the opportunity to play like I used to, but I still have 5 decks that I built and when the opportunity does come to play, I love it. I've played several TCG, CCG, LCG games and this one is without a doubt the best.

8. Small World. Everything is right up my ally about this game. Conflict? Check. Crazy Combinations? Check. Great bits? Check. I have a blast every time I play this one, whether it is a 2 player or 5 player gamer. Doesn't matter.

7. Shogun. It's good when you can be horrible at a game, which I am at Shogun, and still like it so much. The cube tower in this game, and all that it brings to the war element of the game, is what makes me come back for more.

6. El Grande. Sometimes in the gaming world, gamers use the word "elegant" to describe a game. El Grande is what I think of when I think of an elegant game. All the extra craziness has been sieved away, leaving pure simple goodness.

5. Dominion With out a doubt, my most played game of all time, probably even more than Risk from when I was a kid. This game is just addicting and is a game, which after introducing new players to it, I'm asked where they can buy it.

4. Agricola. Who would have thought farming would be so juicy? You have to plan several turns ahead in this game and understand what your opponents need, which for me makes this one a keeper. With the 300+ cards in the game, each game feels a bit different, with new and fun combos.

3. War of the Ring. This game is 3-4 hours of awesomeness for two players. It does an excellent job of making you feel like you are immersed in Tolkien's world, which for me is great.

2. Puerto Rico. The indirect conflict in this game makes me love it! You have to be sure to take the role each turn that will benefit you the most, while not helping your opponents. In other words, watch out for that Craftsman!

1. Railroad Tycoon. RRT is all about building your tracks and connecting cities to ship goods to cities before your opponents can do so. It has some great expansion maps as well and just never gets old for me.

If you've got this far, thanks for reading. If you haven't recently done so, grab a game, maybe one of these, and some friends and family and have a good time with each other!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Yesterday afternoon I went geocaching with my FIL (for those of you who don't have the speak, that is Father-In-Law) around the Lawrence area. I've been geocaching before, so this wasn't a first time experience, but it was more interesting than the previous times I've gone. Two things happened that were interesting.

First, there was a lady that ran out of gas right while trying to turn left off of 56th Street. She was just sitting there and then the next thing we know, a white car behind her, sorta pushes/rams her forward trying to get her moving. I'm thinking they had to be friends, because she didn't seem too distraught. The white car then backs up as if to make another ram at the van without gas, since the first one didn't work quite as good as they hoped. Randy and I quickly ran across the street and pushed the van so that they remained friends and the van wouldn't be crushed and without gas.

Second, we found a cache around Fall Creek. It was well hidden with camo tape (something those crazy geocachers do in order to keep the normals from finding their hoards), but Randy still spotted it. Inside was some stuff, but there was a huge pink die. I decided to keep it and give it to any of the guys whining about how bad their dice rolling is going in a game. It'll be the Big Pink Whiner Die.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kid Number Two

So we've had kid number 2. However, we aren't going to call her Number 2. Unless, I am perhaps I'm trying to tell her exactly where she falls in the family tree. This isn't going to be a birth story, I get tired of those and let's be honest, their pretty gross. So this is just to say how we came up with the name.

We were discussing names with some friends one night and I mentioned that I'd like to name the next girl Arwen, from the Lord of the Rings, but that of course was met with stiff resistance from my wonderful wife. Our new friend Joey piped up why not Elanor, who was Samwise Gamgee's daughter, from the Return of the King. So Krista and I eventually compromised, and went with Elanor, so that's that.

Elanor is a small yellow flower found in Lothlorien. Galadriel wears them in her hair when she sees the fellowship off on their journey towards Mordor. Elanor, Sam's daughter, was said to grow up with great Elvenish beauty that was not common among her people.

So yeah, number two, is Elanor and yes it is from Lord of the Rings. If you find that funny, just imagine it as Eleanor and that she was named after a US President's wife.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fishin' Itch

On days like today, that is sunny warmer days in March, I really get the fishin' itch. I start thinking about wading in the river or taking the canoe down it, getting up early to pull the boat down to Hardy Lake or Monroe Lake with Dad, or putting a small washer on the end of my line and going out casting in the front yard to stretch the line out. Yeah, fishing really gets in my blood during March, even though it'll probably be at least a month before I actually go.

I was thinking about all this when I was driving home from work today, with the window down in the truck and the radio playing some country music. Thinking about how exciting it is to have that big ol' ugly smallmouth bass tear into my Pop'r going bloop, bloop, under a shady sycamore tree. Thinking about all the blizzards I've won and lost over the years to my buddy Ryan or my brother or my dad when one of us caught the "big one" for the day. Yep, I've got the fishin' itch.

Then I get home, step out of my truck, knowing I won't go fishing for at least a month and what is hanging there mocking me? My 5' 6" medium flex fishing rod with a clown colored joined Rapala just begging to be tossed in a river somewhere and snag the Blizzard Fish.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Telescope vs Paint Brush

I recently read Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. A friend of mine suggested to me, since he is a big Piper fan, and so I took his word and read it. It was a very good book and one that pricked me in several areas by using scripture and Piper's own thoughts. One area that I've really been thinking about though is early in the book where Piper discusses magnifying God. He talks about how we're we're supposed to glorify God (which if you know about Piper's theology, he is all about this) not beautify God. He compares it to a telescope as magnifying and I immediately compared it to a painter or artist that is commissioned to paint a beautiful portrait of someone. Not the way they really are, but one for the wall.

So on to my point. We've been reading John for family devotions the past few weeks. Jesus lived his life to be a telescope to the Father. He magnified his Father as a telescope making him more real or up close to the people around him. Throughout John he is always saying things like "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." (John 5:17) Glorifying God by not only explaining that God the Father is always at work, but he was working too. Bringing God into real life.

At the same time, he wasn't skipping over some of the tough subjects about God. He glorified God by not trying to paint God in a light that his disciples, even his friends, wanted to hear. He showed God through his telescope the way God should be shown. He says, after telling his disciples about the bread of life, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." (John 6:61-64) No bars hold, Jesus chose to explain the reality of God up front to us.

So what does this all mean for me? Reading the book and also reading John, I'm realizing more and more that I should try to glorify and not beautify God. That's what Jesus was doing. As matter of fact, that is what Jesus' whole presence on Earth was, God becoming even more up close and personal. He wasn't trying to give give God's case against Caesar or Baal and doing an advertisement that would run in the Super Bowl to make following Jesus seem the best thing ever. When you think about it, it is ironic to think that I could "paint" God to be something better, bigger, more powerful, exciting, than He really is! However, I can be a telescope that looks out to God and magnifies his awesomeness in the same way that a real telescope shows us galaxies and planets and stars that we can only just see a speck of with the naked eye.

Monday, March 7, 2011

IndyCon 2011

So IndyCon 2011 is now done and over with. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about leading up to IndyCon and what that involved. This one will be more of the short term blog about the week preceding the convention and during the convention what went on. I already did a quick list of games I played while there, which you can see here: IndyCon Geeklist. So this blog will focus less on what I personally played and more on the experience itself.

All our sponsors were finalized as late as Tuesday leading up to the convention. Fred Distibution called me Tuesday afternoon out of the blue and said they were sending games right away over night and we’d get them on Thursday! I was disappointed though with one company, who will remain nameless, that had promised games 2.5 months ago and got free advertising at the convention and on our website, but never delivered their games or gave an explanation why not. Not good business on their side and I will personally be less likely to buy their products.
Thursday I left work early so Krista could go to her doctor appointment, which confirmed that she could have Elanor any day. Making me nervous that all the planning and work for IndyCon wouldn’t be enjoyed by my family this year, thankfully though Elanor decided to not come during the convention (even though we are and were still really excited for her to come during convention or not). As soon as Krista got home, I went over and borrowed a speaker and microphone for use during the convention. I lugged this and about 75 games over to the hotel and began helping set up.

The next 4 hours were spent shelving games, hanging posters, moving tables, going to Dave’s to move his collection, organizing the raffle giveaway, and packing bags. We finally got most everything done about 7:30PM when I went back home to eat some supper and get some sleep. That sleep didn’t quite happen as much as I’d like though when Kaylee woke up about midnight and wouldn’t go back to sleep. After a night of fitful sleep Kaylee and I got up about 6am and watched some Netflix downstairs so Krista could sleep a bit more. We all then headed down to Mom and Dad’s where Kaylee would be staying the weekend. My parents are awesome to watch her for 3 full days and I can’t say how much I appreciate it! I know Kaylee likes being with them too.

Finally we arrived at the convention at 9am and immediately got into a game after receiving our very sturdy Saltire Games/Mayfair Games tote bags. The day went smoothly with no baby and me even getting in the schedule game of Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game that’d I’d wanted to play. There were several people who I didn’t know that I tried to introduce myself to throughout the day which led to me meeting some cool people. Including Chris from Michigan, a couple podcasters I listen to, and several others. By Saturday though I gave up introducing myself to people I didn’t know, because there were just too many!

Friday night, after making a Rally’s run with Andrew, Jeremy, and Brendan, I organized the Tichu Tourney. Here I felt bad, because I had accidently left one of our pre-registers off of the list, but in the end it worked out that he was able to play. The Tichu Tourney is probably the highlight of my IndyCon. I have a great time playing with Logan and it helps we have done well each year. It was popular enough this year that I had to turn away 3 teams, so next year we may expand it out or do two tournaments or something to include more people. I ended up leaving the hotel with Ryan and Katherine, who were staying at our place on Friday night, around midnight. It was pouring down rain, but we stopped for some Wendy’s and grabbed some cinnamon rolls at Marsh for the morning.

Saturday was just a crazy day. Arrived around 9:00AM and started off with another game of 7 Wonders. Stayed until almost 2AM on Sunday morning and played a lot of games in-between. Some highlights of Saturday was Andrew winning the Crokinole tournament about midnight. We had 24 players and the tournament took about 28 hours to complete, but overall I felt that it went well. Got to play quite a few games with Jeremy & Annie who are just recently getting into gaming, but I think that had a good time and even won a game in the raffle! Then Saturday about 6pm went out for dinner with the Montzs & Sheltons at Golden Corral. Had two big steaks and a ton of stuffing and macaroni with cheese.

The plan was Sunday morning to play a game of Twilight Struggle with Brendan, but we deferred instead to play Dominant Species at noon. We’ve tentatively agreed to play on a future Wednesday night at my place since we both really want to give it a try. So turns out got a few more games played than expected on Sunday, with a few more people than expected. Krista left about 5 to go get Kaylee from Mom & Dad’s while I stayed and helped tear down and load games back into cars.
When I got home I unloaded all my games (including 3 new ones from trades and purchases at the convention) and put them back on the shelves. For some reason organizing my games is fun for me, Krista thinks I’m weird when I say this, but I had a good time doing this. Then about that time Krista and Kaylee got home. I really missed my kid over the weekend and she seemed excited to see me, which makes for a good time! She was immediately into everything including throwing away things like her sun glasses and ring and such (what can I say, she likes throwing stuff away).

So overall, I had a great weekend gaming with my wife, old and new friends, and even sponsors of the convention. I’m already thinking about next year and how we can improve IndyCon 2012.