Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HR Indiana Conference

Just got back from my first ever HR Indiana Conference in downtown Indianapolis. I appreciated that my work allowed me to have a few days to go and learn what is going on in the human resources world currently and get some hours for my continuing education requirements for the PHR. Thought I'd write 5 quick things I learned or observed.

1. Social Media is THE biggest buzz phrase out there right now. It seemed like every presenter said something about Facebook, Twitter, You Tube or LinkedIn. As I'm writing this now and you are reading it later, we'll both be participating in this social media phenom that has taken the business world and our personal lives by storm the  past decade. I found it very interesting not only the suggestions of how businesses can use social media, but how they need to have a plan should it go badly, and to be sure to be ready before going on social media. Not just using Facebook, because everyone else is.

2. Probably my least favorite part of the conference was Monday afternoon's 4 hour session of "Everything Legal" that was lead by a lot of different lawyers. Now I know that human resources isn't the most exciting job out there, but I've got to say that when I feel like a text book became animated and started talking to me, that as a speaker the job hasn't been done well.

3. There was a discussion of mega-trends in business on Tuesday that interested me. In particular how important it is for companies to allow their employees telework options. I understand why this is a mega-trend and I understand that it can be used as a very useful recruitment tool. However, I find it interesting that as of now, I'm less interested in teleworking than the average 28 year old. I enjoy going into the office, seeing my co-workers, and getting the job done that way. (This of course could be because I have a 10 minute or less commute)

4. The amount of people there was interesting as well. There were over 1200 attendees this year, which from my understanding has gone up, and so it seems that human resources professionals care about continuing to educate themselves. Now the cynical side of me thinks they probably just showed up to get their hours so they can keep that PHR certification, but maybe that is not completely true. Now that I've got a year under my belt, I think if I could go back I would, because overall the conference was good. There were some sessions, see above "Everything Legal", that I could've done without or in a different format. There were also several very good sessions including 6 Mega Trends, Social Media, and the Indiana Business Panel.

5. I realized more than ever that human resources is a female dominated industry. I counted in one session out of the 78 people in the session, only 11 were men. What does this mean for me and my career? When I go to human resources conferences, I can snicker as I walk by the huge line outside the ladies' restroom and glide right into to a nearly empty mens' restroom.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fruit Finders or Den of Thieves?

I've got the game designing bug again. This time though it isn't just the designing bug, this time it is the designing and starting a game production company bug. I'm trying to resist the urge to start a game company, mostly because of the money and time that would go into it, and the money I wouldn't get back out of it. More on this in a later blog though. This blog is about the game I'm designing.

I've basically come up with, what so far has received good feedback from all three people I've taught it to, a  tile game that takes 20-30 minutes. I love theme in games, but to be honest, this game is all about the mechanics and I can put whatever theme I want on it. As matter of fact, right now all the tiles have letters on them from A to J to represent what they are. To give you a brief overview, without giving too much away, basically you are using these tiles to move around on a modular board and pick up other tiles. The person with the most points at the end wins.

So what should I call it and what theme should I have? This isn't going to be a serious game that is going to take forever to play, but at the same time it isn't exactly a kid's game. Its more along the lines of a family game where a family with kids 7 or 8 years old and older can play. Originally, I thought a game themed somewhat "Oliver Twist" style called Den of Thieves would be good. Everyone is playing pick pockets going around snagging things like pocket watches and snuff boxes. Then the more I thought about it, with it being a family level game, perhaps stealing stuff like the much hated character Fagin in Oliver Twist wasn't the best. So the second theme I'm considering is everyone is playing as a bunch of cute little animals sneaking around Farmer Brown's fruit farm and eating all the cherries, apples, bananas, and pears they can find. So what do you think? From what I've told you about the game, what would you like it to be?

Also, if anyone is interested in play testing it, please let me know and I'll try to work out getting a copy of some sort to you eventually. I still want to do a lot more play testing myself, before I make a "nice" version of the game with real graphics and tiles.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Syrup on Toast

A somewhat traditional weekend meal in my family has been Syrup on Toast. My dad would make it quite often on a Saturday morning for himself and sometimes for us kids. My mom would also make it for us, but I think she felt it wasn't that healthy, so wasn't as excited about it. She was never excited about us eating sugar. We had a rule that you had to have a fruit or vegetable before you were allowed to have a cookie and the earliest you could have a cookie was 10am. Maybe that is why I've been relatively skinny until I got on my own and could eat cookies at 9am.

Well, back to the syrup on toast. I've taken over the semi-weekendly tradition and make it most Saturdays for myself. I've also taken over the "don't give a bunch of sugar" to my kid thing too, so Kaylee doesn't get it all the time. Though she has had it a couple times. It's a good Saturday morning thing, even though right now by the time we're done getting Kaylee's milk, cleaning up a spill, and trying to convince her to eat yogurt, my toast is usually cold.

Here is the recipe so you can make your Saturdays better: Put 4 pieces of bread in the toaster and toast them to a light brown. Then take them out, and cover them all in peanut butter. After this, use a fork and knife to cut them into small squares. Finally, slather them with syrup and enjoy!

Oh yeah, get a big glass of milk too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gheos - Every 100 Games Series

My 2,600th game played since March of 2006 was Gheos and so it gets the honor, or maybe just the bad luck, of being a review of mine. I first played Gheos several years ago, enjoyed it, but never played it again. Then at GenCon 2010 I was able to trade an unplayed copy of Hunting Party for it and since then I’ve played it about a dozen times. I really like it!

Game Summary
The easiest way for me to describe Gheos to a gamer would be if took Acquire and Carcassonne, squished them together, threw in just a pinch of meanness, then you’d have Gheos. In it you are playing the roles of gods creating land masses, starting civilizations, getting followers in those civilizations and then using war and immigration to destroy and move those civilizations. You have 3 scoring chips that you can use throughout the game to score points, there are epoch tiles that get pulled from the bag which also score points, and you can also score points by placing certain tiles. The game then ends when either all players have used all their scoring chips or the last epoch tile has been drawn. There is one final scoring after that and the person with the most points takes the victory.

The Three Things I Like Most About This Game
First, it is really mean. You can cause a war or immigration and completely wipe out your opponents followers. People tend to get attached for some reason to the civilizations they start and then when you come in and destroy their puny followers, sometimes even from two different civilizations, it causes them to weep in anguish. Okay, maybe it isn’t all that bad, but it makes for some great fun when you place the tile that causes the red civilization to get destroyed and pay to do it with a red follower.

Second, the stock aspect of the game gives me enjoyment. The very limited amount of 5 followers per civilization makes each follower extremely important. Put that along with only being able to get one follower a turn, unless you are able to start a great civilization with lots of wheat symbols and it makes them even more important. Trying to diversify yourself, so that you won’t lose everything should a war or immigration not go your way, but also trying to be hand in hand with your opponents so that they won’t hurt you provides some great tension.

Third, the push your luck aspect of the epoch tiles adds tension to the game. You never know when they will come out and all 8 in a four player game could potentially come out in a row, so trying to balance using your 3 scoring chips for the most points possible becomes very important. It is horrible to use them too early and only score 5 or 6 points per chip, but it is even worse not to get the chance to use them at all, because the last epoch tile comes out. This is even more magnified since you can only use 1 scoring chip per turn.

Final Thoughts
Gheos has a permanent place in my game collection. Partially because it fits that niche between Acquire and Carcassonne as a tile laying and stock game that no other game I own does and partially because of the absolute meanness of the game. That meanness though is something you should be careful about if you are trying to pick this up on the secondary market (I don’t think it is in print right now) for a friendly game. So for that reason this might be a better game for your game group than it will be for your family gathering. Gheos is one of my top 25 favorite games of all time, which at the writing of this review, is saying something since I’ve played over 475 games. So, if you haven’t yet, be sure to go out and give this game a try if you can find it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

GenCon 2011

Well my 7th GenCon is over and I had a blast! Lots of games, friends, and fun. I was so excited I even took Wednesday off leading up to the con. I should've taken today off, because I'm tired. Instead of writing a big huge blog about it here, I did a geeklist over at You can check it out here: GenCon 2011 Experiences - With Pictures! For those of you interested, you can read about it there and see a few pictures or check out my facebook page for all the pictures and some videos eventually. I'm looking forward to GenCon 2012!