Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Top 10 Board Games from 2012

Every year I keep track of all the new to me games I've played for the year, you can read my blog posts about 2010 and 2011. This year has included over 60 new to me games, so it has actually been a little less than the average over the past several years, but still that is over 1 new game a week. So even to be in the Top 10 isn't too bad for these games. I do want to give some honorable mentions, as picking 5-10 was really difficult for me this year. Some others that almost made the list were: Legacy: Gears of Time, Divided Republic, and Eminent Domain. Finally, I have purposely left out Guild of Thieves, because though I know it isn't the greatest game in 2012, because I published it myself it is something I'm proud of and think is good.

10. Smash Up. It was real tough trying to decide what game to fit into this 10th slot. I decided to go with Smash Up though, because I do enjoy the game a lot, though to get that enjoyment there is a learning curve. It probably took me 3-5 games before I understood the different races, what to expect from them, and how to make them work together to make the game fun. Until that time, it can seem very boring and mathy of just play a card and go on with your life. However, I feel it deserves a spot on this list, because it is unique compared to a few other games that may have made the list. Status: Owned and looking forward to the expansion.

9. Dune. This game has so much theme, that it got me to read the book after playing it. Another game were all the players have special abilities and even different win conditions. You negotiate and form alliances, but only at specific times, and try to control the planet Dune. This is a game you'll need a bunch of time and a bunch of dedicated people to play, but you won't regret doing it. I was lucky enough to play with a really cool home made set, which made the experience even better. This is an absolute epic game though, both in time and story, so it will be an once every couple years experience. Status: Won't be purchasing, because it wouldn't get play time in my group.

8. Android: Netrunner. This is another living card game, similar to Warhammer: Invasion, where players build decks to compete against each other. The cool thing about this one is that one player plays as the Corporation and the other players is the Runner who is trying to hack into the Corp's servers. Both players go about game completely differently, which makes your deck building and play style completely different as well. I've played about 15 games of it this year and would like to play more. Status: Not getting, just because I only have the time and money for one LCG, but I would get if I didn't already have Invasion.

7. A Fistful of Penguins. The first dice game on this list. Players roll penguins, kangaroos, squirrels, and other animals trying to get sets, while spending the penguins to be allowed to roll again. I've played the game about 20 times face to face and well over 70 times on my iPhone with their app. It is a cute game, yet a game that has enough depth to keep me interested. If not for #2 on this list, it would be my favorite dice game of all time I think. Status: Own both the digital and physical versions.

6. Last Will. This game takes a bit to wrap your mind around, since you aren't trying to get all the money in the world, rather you are trying to spend it all as fast as you can! You start with $X and try to be the first to get rid of it all by taking expensive carriage rides, going to special dinners, and buying mansions to let them run down and selling them at a huge loss. This is a game, that uses all the Euro mechanics we know, and turns them upside down into a fun and engaging game. Status: I'd like to add to my collection.

5. Trajan. This is a themeless Euro game, but it is a great Euro game, possibly Stefan Feld's best. Though both Macao and The Castles of Burgundy might fit that bill as well. The coolest part about Trajan is that it uses the hundreds of years old Mancala mechanism of moving pieces from one cup to other cups and getting them around the board. This is how you select your actions in the game though and the more pieces you move at once, the faster the game proceeds. Status: I'd trade for it for sure, and consider purchasing it.

4. Chaos in the Old World. I'll be up front with this one. The theme isn't for families. It is quite mature and one that I wouldn't suggest to anyone under 15 years old. Players play as various gods in the Warhammer universe, trying to control the world. I think if this game was themed as a pre-WWI game, it would be in my collection in a second and be very popular with my group. As it is, I'm on the fence about owning it. However, as far as game play goes, this game is absolutely great. Players all have asymmetrical powers and win the game in a variety of ways. The game play is intriguing and deep and the area control makes for a huge plus for me. Status: With the theme it stays as only a possible trade.

3. The Resistance: Avalon. If I have 10 or less players, I'm going to choose this game over Mafia/Werewolf everytime. In it players are either Loyal Servants of King Arthur or Minions of Mordred. However, this information is all hidden and players attempt to figure out who is who while trying to complete 3 of 5 quests for the victory. There are a few special roles you can add in, but I've got to say, you hardly need them. This has been a hit with my family and with my game group and I'm glad I helped Kickstart this one. Status: Kickstarted and still owned.

2. King of Tokyo. This game much like Tichu and Dominion is a game I've sold several copies of just this year, because it is just FUN to play. The best part though is that it is fun to play, not just for me as a gamer, but for my non-gaming friend, or even the 6 year old who loves rolling dice. The amount of cards that come with the game, the fun monsters, and the quick play time make it perfect for any person who wants to play any game. I honestly believe that. Basically, you roll dice 3 times, get points, heal your monster, and kill other monsters while the cards adds special abilities for everyone. That's it! The only reason it gets beat out by the next game, is because generally I prefer to play somewhat deeper games than King of Tokyo provides. Status: Bought soon as I could after playing.

1. Age of Empires III or as it is currently called: Glenn Drover's Empires: Age of Discovery. Why haven't I been playing this game for the past 5 years?! It isn't a new game, but for some reason I hadn't played it until this year and I'm really glad I did. It immediately went on my must own list and for the reason it has most of my favorite things in gaming. It has lots of cool plastic bits, especially the very nice merchant ships. It has worker placement. It has direct conflict, but only up to 4 times a turn for the whole table, which makes it the perfect amount for players to mess with each other, while keeping it minimal enough not to make the whole game about it. Finally, it has varying player abilities with the buildings that can be purchased, and so each player's strengths differ as the game progresses. This is a game, that there is little doubt in my mind, will one day be in my Top 25 games of all time. Status: Received for Christmas!

Also, every year, I give out the Dust award to that game that I absolutely abhorred the most that year. This year it goes to a party game: Would You Rather? This game is broken. You roll a dice, move your piece, and hope to land on a spot that will let you do a challenge to move up to the inner circle, to roll your dice, to hopefully hit a spot that will let you move up to the next inner circle, where you will roll your get the idea. It is possible to keep rolling, over and over, and over and over, and over, and never hit that spot to even get the challenge. This game is horrible.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Expected Journey (some spoilers)

I didn't mess the title up. Nine years ago, after coming out of the midnight showing of The Return of the King, I expected I'd eventually be making the journey to see Bilbo's journey through Middle-earth happening on the big screen. Friday morning at 12:01 am, I did and so here are my thoughts on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

First, going into this movie, I was expecting to watch a hobbit themed fantasy adventure film and honestly this was much more than just it felt very Hobbit! This surprised me and maybe Jackson will wander more from the book in the next two installments (he did in LotR), but for this first one I thought he stayed pretty close to the book and had several direct quotes from it, including the cleaning up song by the dwarves and my favorite direct quote about how the game of golf was invented by Bullroarer!

Second, I was really worried that they were going to make a Gandalf/Galadriel love connection. Thankfully they didn't. They just showed how much Galadriel cared for and comforted Gandalf which is true to form, since she really wanted him to be the leader of the White Council. Either way, though I don't think the hand patting and hair brushing had to be in the movie, I do think it wasn't done romantically, so I'm just fine with that.

Third, the music is awesome! I absolutely love the dwarven theme music. The Misty Mountain song is great, they continue having different sounding music for the different locations that the scene is in, and Howard Shore has once again invoked an epic sound to the world of Middle-earth.

Fourth, I like the dwarves. I like them a lot. The dwarven culture is my favorite from Middle-earth (I know everyone likes elves and hobbits, but I like me some dwarves) and I think Jackson did a very good job with them. There are a 13 of them, so I understand making them a have a different beard and profile, even an old orc axe in the head of Bifur. I'm not extremely impressed with their beards though. Fili's beard is pretty much non-existant. I understand getting rid of their colorful hoods, but dwarves need beards! Out of all the beards to mess with, the biggest and most important one not to "fix" is Thorin's, and as I said a year ago when they released the first trailer, he looks like a salsa dancer. At least his beard does. He is going to be King Under the Mountain. He needs a king's beard. Okay, rant over.

Fifth, the Riddles in the Dark scene is absolutely awesome. It is funny, it is scary, it is disturbing, it is exactly what it should be. Gollum is excited to have someone to talk to and remembers games he played with his grandmother, yet at the same time he is evil. I thought it was great.

Finally, go see this movie! If you are a LotR fan, go see it. If you have yet to get into the great Tolkien universe, go see it. It is a fun, entertaining movie, that sticks relatively close to the story from the book (I'm sure this will change in the next two movies) that shows how Bilbo earns his place as the 14th member on the Quest to Erebor!

P.S. I'm going again, who wants to go?!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Best Christmas Movies

Just a quick thought on great Christmas movies and maybe a few on some not-so great Christmas movies. Let's try for the top 5 Christmas movies. I think I can do 5.

1. The Muppet's Christmas Carol. I remember first watching this at the Strand Theater in Shelbyville with my dad. We watched it on their smallest screen, which was about the size of many TVs today. I don't remember liking as much then as I do now. I guess it has grown on me. The sly comments, the fun Muppets, and Michael Cain as Scrooge is just great. My personal favorite scene is when the Book Rats are asking for more coal. Scrooge gets angry and they quickly say, "It was the frog's idea!"

2. It's a Wonderful Life. I just really like the movie. It is good clean entertainment with a deep message of how a single individual's life can change the lives of many people around them. Jimmy Stewart is one of the greatest actors of all time and he shines in this. My favorite scene from the movie is right after George is back on the bridge from his adventurers and Burt the cop comes up to him and George realizes that Burt knows who he is and starts screaming, "My mouth's bleeding!" That's good stuff.

3. White Christmas. Well, it's in TechniColor! Why else would I love it? I think because White Christmas is my favorite Christmas song, so that has to do with me liking this movie so much. Perhaps also watching it a lot as a kid. I think though it is honestly Danny Kaye. He makes the movie with his humor, dancing, and singing. My favorite scene, probably is actually the very first one, when they are all celebrating Christmas at war in Europe.

4. Home Alone. I laugh a lot every time I see this movie. The bandits just make it hilarious too me. Sure, it's Three Stooges humor, but it is still extremely funny. The story about Christmas with family is good and all, but I watch this to laugh when the bandits step barefoot on ornaments, burn their hands, get hit by paint cans, and everything else that happens to them. My favorite scene...I don't know. Any of them that makes me laugh, so a lot of them.

5. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The one with Jim Carey. I like the song Where Are You Christmas. I like the humor for the most part. I like the Whoville crazy looks and I like they made a whole movie out of a poem. My favorite scene is when the Grinch is going through the phone book declaring his hate for all the residents of Whoville.

There is the list. What'd I miss? I'm sure there has to be something I didn't think about that would've made it. Now for the bad Christmas movies:

1. The Santa Claus 2 & 3 - Horrible.
2. Anything on the Hallmark Channel about some lady that who lost her boyfriend/husband to an accident or some other misfortune and then finds true love on Christmas.
3. Elf. I don't get the love for this movie. It probably shouldn't be on the bad list, but I'm putting it there out of spite to even out all the great lists it'll be on.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Opening Weekend

I guess I like doing things on an annual basis. Let's go down through the list in chronological order starting in January. Okay, never mind, we'll start in March I don't have anything for January or February. There is IndyCon, Softball (sorta), Geekway to the West, vacation with the Schwirtz's, GenCon, Labor Day Badminton, 13th Tribe Extravaganza, Opening Day Deer Season Camping Trip, Christmas Eve Shopping, and finally New Year's Eve Gaming with the Sheltons. That's a lot of annual events, this time around let's talk about opening day of deer season.

For the past 5 years, Dad and I have been going camping and hunting on opening day of deer season, and it has become something I look forward to more and more. It is a time that I know I'll look back on when I'm old (that'll be in about 5 months when I turn 30) and think of with a smile. Most years we've gotten something, at least a doe, but this year was the best time we've ever had.

A family friend who hasn't hunted very much, Greg, went with us this year. After setting out tree stands up, we went back to the camp site, cooked a potato and steak for each us, slathered them in butter (that's right both the steak and the potato), and ate out side like men. Later of course I had my chai tea and Nutella like an European or Indian man, the steak and potato was Mid-west man. During this time we saw, what we'd call redneck humor. A camper pulled up, some fellas got out and set their beer and other important things on the picnic table. They then opened the camper door, brought out a bunch of firewood (we though this odd as the back of the truck was empty) and then next started to roll a tire out. It went down one step, then the second step, and then hit the ground. You see where this is going, the tire just kept rolling, down the hill from the camper and the slightly over weight, cut off flannel shirt guy, trying to keep his pants up while chasing the tire yelling "Oh S&#!" and hoping to stop it before it went pummeling another campers site. It was a good laugh for us.

We then played  a couple games, which I've brought on this very trip before, in which Greg used his cunning to defeat us at Small World. Then he took a real liking to the bottle in Bottle Imp and was disposed of. It was getting late about this time, say 8:30 at least, so we turned in for the night. We woke up the next morning at 4:45AM and took off to kill some deer.

I was in my tree and ready to go at 6:46. About 7 o'clock I saw a silhouette on the top of the hill, heard the deer walking around a bit, but never saw him. I continued to wait patiently and about 8 o'clock, among the war sounds that is opening day on public ground, I once again saw a silhouette going the opposite direction at the top of the hill. I thought he had gone on by, but as luck would have it, he did an about face, stepped into my line of sight for a brief moment, and without hesitation I shot a 6-point buck at about 65-70 yards. I was excited! I waited 45 minutes or so, continuing to hear coming from the direction of Dad and Greg, and then texted them (yeah, we're high tech deer hunters) about 9 saying, I was going to get down and clean my buck. I looked up from texting and now see a doe, padding her way towards me, looking over her shoulder (on opening day the deer are a bit skittish and I don't blame them). She heard a shot, paused for about ten minutes behind some brush, I couldn't get a shot on her. Finally, she moved and I was able to take her as well at about 25 yards. Two deer in one day! Never thought I'd do that.

To make a long story shorter, Dad also got one that day, so we had 3 deer to check in and drop off at the meat locker. We were all so tired and worn out from dragging and driving, we decided to call it a successful weekend and packed up to hit the road home. So after 5 years, I'd say camping and hunting has become a great tradition with my Dad and I. Maybe it'll continue with myself and Kaylee or maybe the tradition then will be going to some American Girl doll convention. Whatever it is, family traditions whether during the holidays or just the regular days are good things.

The spoils. That's three deer you see there or as I like to think of it, that's some good eatin'.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Every 100 Games Series - Star Wars: The Card Game

My 3,600th game played (okay, it was more like 3,603rd game, because Invasion was played a lot in there) was Star Wars: The Card Game. Being a huge Warhammer: Invasion fan, which is how I got the Star Wars game by attending the World Championships for Invasion, I'm glad this was the next game destined to be reviewed by me.

Like all FFG games, the components of the game are top notch. There are focused counters, shield counters, damage counters, and the cards themselves of course. Personally, at least compared to Netrunner and Invasion, I think the card design is sorta lack-luster and boring. The art is okay, but nothing amazing and the cards functionally do the job. I do wish they'd included some kind of force marker, rather than just have Vader and Luke cards for this, to indicate when a unit has the force. Nothing really to complain about here and with the FFG Star Wars sleeves, they'll look really cool.

Game Play
This is a Living Card Game, so each player will eventually have customized decks of cards that they use to compete against each other. The cards are made up of objectives, which have some text on them, a damage amount, and resources players can spend each turn to play cards from their hand. Cards also include the usual types of cards in these games of units (the fighters), support cards (I think you know what they do), and action cards (one time play cards).

On a players turn, they focus a resource such as on an objective, support card, maybe on a unit and use that resource to pay for a card to play from their hand. The focused card gets a token on it to show it can't be used again until that token is removed. Once all the cards are played that they want to play, the player can choose to attack one of their opponent's objectives, the opponent chooses who'd they like to defend with, then the edge battle happens. In this players play cards face down, add up their edge value, and see who wins the edge. According to who wins the edge, different card abilities trigger. Finally, one at a time, players focus their units, do some battling and try to destroy the objective they are attacking.

The Light side wins the game if they can destroy 3 objectives. The Dark side wins by getting their Death Star counter to 12, which is done by destroying objectives (the more you destroy the faster it moves to 12) and by having the game last longer since it advances by 1 every turn no matter what. I've of course, left quite a bit out, but that should give you a good overview of the game.

There is plenty of strategy in this. First, of course, from the deck building portion before you ever play. With the Core Set, you don't really have a lot of options but there will be plenty of expansions on the way. The neat part about the deck building rules is that you don't choose individual cards. Rather you choose an objective and 5 cards come with that objective. You are allowed to have 2 of the same objective in your deck and at least 10 total objectives.

Then in the game play itself there is plenty of strategy on when to defend, when not to, who to focus, how much of your resources to spend this turn, and general good decision making. That being said, if you get a good big card out early, it can be devastating to your opponent such as Yoda or a Destroyer. There is also quite a bit of strategy and bluffing when it comes to the edge battles, because those can really devastate your hand and make it difficult to defend if you lose.

My Thoughts
Okay, this is where I may get in a little trouble. I wasn't happy with the game. That being said, I don't think it is a bad game, it just isn't want I wanted out of a Star Wars LCG. Star Wars is a great theme and with card games like this, though theme isn't everything, I think it is more important than say in a Euro game. They really mess the theme up in my mind in two ways.

First, characters such as a rancor, or Ewok, or Luke can fight against ships. So I have a ship, flying around in space, and your rancor is going to destroy it? Umm....okay. In that case, I better watch out for those Ewoks, because we all know how good they are at throwing rocks into space! Second, the Force is given to up to three units that you control. I'm okay with that. The problem is, that you can give the Force to Luke (that makes sense), but you can also give it to an X-Wing (now that doesn't make sense). If X-Wings have the force, why didn't Luke's just pull itself out of that swamp anyways? Both of these things really disappointed me this game.

Also, I'm not so sure what I feel about the 3 different factions on each side. I think it would've been better served by just having the Empire and Alliance or just the Dark/Light side and leaving it at that. In the end, Star Wars feels shoved on to this card game, rather than a card game designed around Star Wars.

A say all that though, obviously not extremely keen on the game, knowing full well that this game will do really well because of the Star Wars license. That is and has been the biggest temptation for me to get into the game, because when it comes down to it, what makes these LCGs fun for me is the competition and Star Wars is going to draw way more players than Invasion, Netrunner, Cthulhu, and probably A Game of Thrones.

My Recommendations
Potential Living Card Game Player - I'd recommend any LCG before a CCG, so there is that. This is coming from a Warhammer: Invasion fan, so I'm of course going to recommend it first, because I think it's mechanics are the easiest to pick up. After that, I'd probably recommend Netrunner, because of the way the theme integrates with the game play and also because of the uniqueness of it. Finally, I'd recommend Star Wars. If you are a huge Star Wars fan, then perhaps it'd be above Netrunner. I'm not even considering Lord of the Rings Card game here, because it is co-op and it has been so long since I've played my 1 game of A Game of Thrones that I can't say where it would be.

Star Wars Fans - It doesn't matter what I recommend here, because lets be honest, you are Star Wars fans and will buy it anyways. I hope when you do, you aren't disappointed and enjoy it, perhaps just having a Star Wars card game that is absolutely trash will be good enough for you all. I'm wondering though, if the above theme disconnect bothered me, who isn't a very huge Star Wars fan (it's LotR for me all the way!), then will it bother those uber-fans of the movies?

Dads with Boys 12+ Years Old - You might want to look into at least the base set for them. The game itself is more difficult than say Dominion, but it isn't completely out of this world difficult either. So if you boys (or girls) are all about the Star Wars legos, movies, and books, this might be a good option for you to connect with them in a way that you get some gaming and they get some of that Star Wars fix.

Myself: Keep this on your radar, because you know Invasion will likely not last forever, but be glad you sold your copy on eBay for now. If Invasion ever goes away, then consider this and the probable player base before getting into another LCG. These aren't the cards you are looking for...(I'm sorry, I couldn't resist).

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

FFG World Championship

Last weekend, I drove a total of 1500 miles to go to the Fantasy Flight Games World Championships. I got a free pass for the weekend, since I won the North American Championship for Warhammer: Invasion. That combined with them interviewing me and even inducting me into their Hall of Heroes (Yeah, a boxing pose, they edited down the picture I sent). This of course stroked my ego enough to drive all that way to attempt to become world champion.

Part of the deal for driving that far, was to drop Krista and the girls off in Wisconsin to see her parents, which added an hour or two each way, but was well worth it for the girls to see Nana and Papa. Once I dropped them off and caught some sleep, Friday morning I drove the rest of the way and got to Roseville, MN in the afternoon. I grabbed a sandwich at Quizno's (shout out to Tom who was awesome there) and then went over to FFG's Event Center to learn Netrunner, another card game I wanted to play in the Worlds, since I'd drove all that way. Problem is I barely knew the game and had to borrow decks from a friend. After a quick refresher the tourney started and they stuck me at the feature table with Nick. Nick was a great guy, we had a good time, and the *TV crowd (that's right, I was on TV!) even caught us making a mistake in the game play. Nick got the victory that round, but as the day progressed I got a little better and ended up finishing 15th overall, which wasn't bad for my 12 games of Netrunner.
The Feature Table
Saturday morning, after some eggs at the Remigers, I drove and met Sarah and Ryan for some Starbucks. It'd been at least a couple years since we've seen each other and it was great to catch up and meet their awesome boy Zeke. Now with my chai tea drank, my friends hugged, it was time to get down to business for the feature of the weekend - Invasion!

Zeke and I
I played several warm up games with Brian (a guy who I met online before the weekend) as he tried to get caught up on Invasion, similar to how he caught me up on Netrunner the day before. It was great fun meeting him and playing cards over the weekend. Of course, I also played some against Steve from Louisville and his crew, while Leon and I discussed the merits of Blue and Pink Horrors (that's geekspeak for...well...nevermind). Then around 4pm the tourney began for real.

One side of the Event Center
The other side of the Event Center
I got a bye, along with all the other regional and national champions, played Brian some more since he was using my High Elf deck, and then finally got to play my first round. I played Rick, who was from right there in MN and sneaked a victory against him, making me 2-0. Next up was Christian, a German card player, who from talking to him has been to the US several times thanks to various card games and tournaments he as one. He played excellent, defeated me soundly, and moved into the Top 4. Next up was Brian, a guy I'd met at GenCon and who'd been really welcoming me to in Minnesota as he is a native Roseville player. We were both playing similar decks and this was by far the most fun round for me, as it was played as Invasion should be played, smash mouth and lots of attacking. I was able to get the win against him, which propelled me in the Top 4! I'd lose in the semi-finals to the eventual tournament champion and called it a night.

For making the top 4, I got an uncut sheet of cards (cheap guy that I am, I cut it up to use the cards), and some cool plastic capital boards. The next morning, I had some great breakfast with my cousin, met his girlfriend, and said goodbye to them and my aunt and uncle and hit the road for Wisconsin and then Indiana. It was quite a trip, had a really fun time seeing family and friends, and making some new friends while competing in a game I've really come to enjoy!
Capital Boards for Invasion
*By TV, I mean which apparently has a bunch of stuff that nobody watches on it, but it is TV, it is live, and I was on it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Every 100 Games Series - Quo Vadis?

My 3,500th game played was Quo Vadis? and here are my thoughts on this game. First off though, let's get the obvious question out of the way, what exactly does Quo Vadis mean? It is a Latin phrase that means, where are you going? A very apt title and question for this game, because the game is all about trying to get into the Senate of Rome.

This is a pretty old game and so the components aren't from this era of awesome quality. The box itself looks more boring than a 2-hour meeting at work discussing required training. The board itself is also very drab. The representative pieces however, are very unique and interesting. They are really tall plastic pieces, with wide bases, which makes for some easy moving and seeing who is where. Too bad they don't have green or I'd be even more excited about them.

Game Play
On your turn, you can do one of three things. Place a representative in the bottom row of the board, move a representative to the next level of the board if you can get enough votes, or move Caesar who goes between two levels. Caesar allows you, if he is still there next time around, to move a representative without enough votes (though you don't score points when you do this). When you move up a level, you get the points in-between those levels.

The whole game is about negotiation and working with the other players. Trying to get as many points as you can, while not giving away all the points when you "buy" other players votes. I've found that just being willing to vote for someone is important, as you get a VP for that every time regardless, if you don't trade it away of course. At the same time, it is always good when you are able to position yourself so that you don't need the votes from others and can just move your representative up a level based on your own votes.

Yeah, I added the tie. Thought he should have to wear one, since he is going to the Senate.
My Thoughts
This 20 year old game surprised me. I first played it at Geekway to the West in 2012 and immediately looked to trade for it. Now that I own it, I'm really glad I do. I enjoy negotiation games, even though because I'm loud and in your face about them, I tend to lose them a lot. This game plays very quickly, it has the nice twist that many Knizia games do by eliminating anyone that doesn't get into the Senate, and yet it still gives you quite a bit of control if you position yourself accordingly. This is one that'll be staying in my collection. The only real downside to this one, in my opinion, is that it doesn't play 6 players.

My Recommendations
Deep Strategy Gamers - You are probably going want to look elsewhere. I consider myself a strategy gamer, but that is just part of the games I play, so I'm okay with this one. But if you want a deep game about getting into the Roman Senate and making this big huge plan and seeing it come to fruition, this isn't for you. You have to depend on others so much in this one, that one person getting upset with you or making sure you don't win can destroy all those beautiful plans.

Lifeboats Fans - Lifeboats is a negotiation game where players vote each other off the boat and into the sea. It is a game that you have to warn the players that everyone will still be friends afterwords. Quo Vadis? doesn't make you warn others to still be friends. Both games give a lot of similar negotiation, but for some reason not voting someone into the Senate seems less mean than voting to send someone to swim with the sharks. I say this to say, I like both games about equally, but if you hate Lifeboats like games, you should still try this one, because it isn't as mean.

Quiet and Shy Player - This isn't the game for you. You have to talk, you have to try and convince your buddy to give you the lift you need, and you have to be willing to trade something for that. Just sitting there quietly and not doing anything but trying to move your pieces will not get you any enjoyment out of this one.

Non-Trading Monopoly Player - You know who I'm talking about. That person who won't accept Baltic Ave for Park Place, because they hate trading or negotiating at all. Not that they don't act like they enjoy negotiating, they do, but they never actually will come to any type of an agreement. Nothing is a good enough deal for them. The point of this game is to make deals and so don't play this game with those that won't make deals. This is what makes the game fast and fun.

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here:

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's Been Awhile

It's been awhile. I don't really have something specific to write about, so let's just do some bullet points.

  • Since winning the North America Championship for Warhammer: Invasion (a card game I play), I've been waffling on whether to attend the World Championship, but I'm thinking now that it is an opportunity I should take. Won't be a yearly thing, but I'm sure it'll be fun to do. We even had 8 people at our last Invasion Night here in Indy. Thanks to If you've never been to that website you should check it out.
  • We're back on Wednesday nights with Youth Group while Kaylee and Ella are attending Cubbies & The Kids Room. It's been nice to get back in the groove for that. I taught the other night, didn't do too well, but still enjoyed it and hope God used it somehow. The small group of guys that I'm leading are real fun too, with Freshmen through Seniors in it. I'm excited to see how they grow and change over the year.
  • Kaylee and Ella are playing more with each other. Kaylee especially tries to include Ella in a lot of things such as taking a "nap" on the welcome mat on the front door or playing Barbies. Speaking of playing Barbies. I did that.
  • It's cold enough now that I think I'm done fishing. Didn't get to go as much as I would've liked to this year, but what year do I? The times I did get to go were fun and I did catch a couple nice small mouth, which just makes me happy. Next year, I'm for sure going to go more on the White River in Noblesville. I want to at least try it.
  • I was going to cut my hair, Krista said I shouldn't. Usually I do what I like with my hair (read buzz it), but since she asked me not to I think I'll relent this time. It's getting a bit longer. We'll see how long this lasts. Maybe long enough for dreads? 
  • I've made an Essen Resolution. That's something I just came up with. I'm only going to purchase 2 board games and 1 expansion for a year. That's right, until next October not many new games. If I can trade for games, that is fine. If I can sell games, then use that money to purchase new games, that is fine. I just don't want to grow my collection much more. Running out of room and not getting to play everything as much as I'd like. This of course doesn't include Invasion expansions, which is starting to become a separate hobby of its own. I make the rules for Essen Resolutions, so don't judge me.
  • I listen to Talk Sports Radio more now than I listen to Country Music Radio
  • I'm reading in Acts right now, read about Ananias and Saphira, the people who held back money from the church. Then read Acts 5:13 which says, "Yet none of the rest dared join them (the church), but the people esteemed them highly." My thought on this is how serious this was taken. Joining up meant a lot and people respected those that did join, even if they themselves weren't willing to commit. Just interesting.
Okay, that is all the random catch up stuff. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog reading.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family Strategy

Strategy is a word I like. Maybe it is because I've studied business much of my life. Perhaps though, and this is why I think I like it so much, is because I'm a board gamer and you often need to have a good strategy to win. I think strategy can be used in more than business and games though, I think it can be used in family rearing and growth as well. As matter of fact, I think it is something that is required if you want to succeed in leading your family.

The other day I was talking with a buddy about what we want our kids to eat. I said, "red meat off the bone!" of course. No seriously.

The point is that we were talking strategy in how to raise our kids healthy. Krista and I try to discuss family goals at least once a year such as what improvements we want to do with the house, what things we'd like to buy, what activities we want the girls to get into, where we'd like to go, and then most important how we are going to make those goals happen. That is where the strategy comes in. We'd like Kaylee & Ella to grow up learning the Bible and participating in activities with others their age in order to make sure they are ready to join teams later in life. So we've enrolled Kaylee in "cubbies" at church. Ella...well she still slobbers and snots a lot, so we've got a strategy of having a snot rag around.

Do you have a family strategy? I think similar to the 5-year plan you hear about in interviews or the business plan you need to write in order to get a loan, family strategies should be an important part of our lives each year. They not only help you define what you are doing as parents or spouses, but they also help define what you need to do as an individual to contribute to that family strategy. I'm guessing, and hoping, that as the girls get bigger they'll want to have input in these family strategy discussions. No, they won't be making the decisions, but the more we get them involved in the strategy the more they will likely embrace it and run with it (see what I did there, a strategerized even that).

For now though, it's Cubbies, snot rags, and surviving the bed time break downs.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Assumption of Mary

A while back, because I like to try and stretch myself and I enjoy theology, I borrowed the book A Year with John Paul II: Daily Meditations from His Writings and Prayers from the library. Figuring I'd read a bit about this Pope, who I of course new a little about, but has always represented the Catholic church in my mind.

There were some really good things in there, such as the ultimate goal of a Christian is holy living, because Christ is holy. I agreed completely with that. Then there were some things I disagreed with, such as during the Eucharist, the bread and wine actually being the flesh and blood of Jesus and not just a symbol of it. Then there was something new I learned about, which is the Assumption of Mary.

You can get a quick overview of this event here: Yeah, I know Professor Van Kuiken, it's Wikipedia, but I'm not writing a paper for you - which means it'll have to do! Basically, if you like me are too lazy to click links, the Assumption of Mary is the Catholic claim that the Body of Mary (Jesus' mom) was taken up into heaven. This was a completely new claim to me upon learning about Assumption Day, which is in August, and learning what it was all about. There are different schools of thought, one that says she was taken up pre-death, while others saying it was post-death.

Now at first, I thought this claim was ludicrous, but now that I've had a month or so of thinking about it and talking to a devout Catholic friend about it, I'm not so sure. Miracles have happened in the past and continue to happen today, so why not this miracle? The first and foremost thing, whenever I'm discussing theology, is to be sure I attempt to check it in scripture. The Assumption of Mary, simply put is not in scripture. So that immediately takes away the factness (my spellchecker is saying this is not a word, but I disagree) of it. However, something I've really thought about this past month, is that just because something isn't fact doesn't mean it didn't happen. What I'm saying is that, just because I didn't tell you in my blog that my favorite color has changed to green, doesn't mean that my favorite color isn't green.

So this is where I fall on the Assumption of Mary, it could've happened. We know of 3 times in the Bible where someone was assumed into heaven: Enoch, Elijah, and of course the person the whole point of the Bible is about Jesus. So, from that, I know that this is something that does have precedent. There are many miracles that aren't recorded in the Bible, at least from Jesus' works (John 21:25). So I'm thinking it isn't much of a stretch to imagine others weren't recorded, even though they easily could've since the Assumption of Mary would have happened even before 90 AD (estimate) when the last book of the Bible was written.

Whats the important take-away from this? Well, for me there are two. First, don't just write something off because you've never heard of it or doubt it happened. Second, don't glorify something so much that isn't in the Bible and part of God's Word. Even though I think it is possible the Assumption of Mary could have happened, that doesn't mean I worship Mary. I don't put Enoch anywhere near the level of Christ. I don't put Elijah anywhere near the level of Christ. Both of these assumptions are in scripture. Mary, even though she was obviously a follower of God, may have been assumed to heaven. However, if it did happen, the whole reason it happened would've been for the same reason Enoch & Elijah's fancy trips to heaven happened, to bring Glory to God. Not to bring glory to Mary. That would miss the point.

As always, when I write these theological posts, I'm writing them from the layman's perspective of one that doesn't have their profession as a professor of theology or pastor or priest. So, go do some research yourself, but being the do-it-yourself type person I am, I'd say that even if I was able to devote my full time to theology.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Every 100 Games Series - Andriod: Netrunner

My 3,400 game played was Andriod: Netrunner, which is the latest Fantasy Flight Games Living Card Game, in the vein of Warhammer: Invasion, this game isn't a gambling game similar to Magic or my favorite Lord of the Rings: Trading Card Game. However, it used to be in 1996, when it first came out. FFG now has the license and has changed it into, the much better format, of the Living Card Game. So here is what I think:

I can't say I've ever said anything bad about an FFG game's components, they are just absolutely great! the cards are very sturdy, the artwork is excellent and thematic, the various tokens are extremely thick and well done. I think everything makes sense with how they've laid out the cards, which is important in these types of games where everything is on the cards and needs to be quickly assessed.

Game Play
Netrunner is a card game, where two players each have a deck of cards that they play against each other. One player plays as the Corporation and the other player plays as the Runner or Hacker. So I imagine something like a big heist movie, where the little smart guy is trying to get into the big bad corporation's computer system in order to shut down the security or change traffic lights for a clean get away. The goal of the game is to get 7 points, or if you are the Corporation empty the hand of the Runner, or if you are the Runner empty the deck of the Corporation. The Corporation essentially builds different servers and protects those servers with defense cards. The Runner then attacks those servers, trying to defeat the defense cards that are there, and then claiming the reward that the server has at the end to score points or in some cases be surprised and punished. Because these cards are originally played face down, the Runner really doesn't know what to expect until they go into the server for the first time.

What is very interesting and unique about this game is the complete difference between Runner and Corporation goals and game play. As a Runner you get 4 action, the Corporation only gets 3. As the Corporation you get to draw a card every turn, the Runner doesn't. The game just plays very differently for the different players, which I think makes the strategy of this game have a much higher threshold to obtain. By its nature, an LCG will have plenty of strategy, at least in the deck building portion of a game. Having two different decks, both a Corporation deck and a Runner deck, I think will compound this deck building strategy. In the game itself, the strategy is much more on how well you bluff as a Corporation and choosing the right servers to deal with as a Runner. This of course, will be set up from how you've built your deck.

My Thoughts
As a big Warhammer: Invasion fan (as of this writing I've played over 250 games of it), Andriod: Netrunner seems more complicated and more intimidating than Invasion. The two deck system turns me off, at least as a competitive player. The reason being is the time I'd have to invest to build two good decks. A lot of times, the drain that people talk about in these games is the money drain, but for me there is also the time drain. I'm a board gamer first and foremost, so I can only invest so much time in learning about the different cards and the different types of decks and would have to do this both for a Corporation deck and a Runner deck. One thing I did find interesting, is that according to what Corporation you chose, the number of cards and the number of cards from different factions that were in your deck changed. I thought that a very nice touch on the deck building portion of the game.

Now, as to what I think of the game itself, right out of the box and not from a competitive standpoint, I liked it. I enjoyed the two games that I played of it and how thematic it really felt. The sneakiness of the bluffing really makes the game feel like a Corporation trying to hide those important assets. The games I played lasted around 45 minutes, but just like any game with lots of text, the more you play the less you have to read and know what things do. We had a few rule questions, but not too many.

My Recommendations
The CCG Player - I'd say this is a must buy. As I said before, I'm primarily a board gamer, but if I was a CCG player I think this is right up their ally. A lot of deck building strategy, a very thematic feel, and a less expensive option than Magic or WoW: TCG.

The Dominion Player - Not so much for this person. Even with the pre-constructed decks, this is feels like it is a few steps up Dominion lovers, who only love Dominion. There are other card games out there that would help them work there way up to enjoying this, but this isn't the starting step.

Ameritrash Players - I think these people will love this. I do feel that this is the most thematic card game I've ever played and theme is what the Ameritrasher is looking to see. Some of the really powerful cards are great smack down fun. I almost won my second game on turn 2, with a hidden card that the Runner thought was important to get and yet turned out to almost destroy him.

Myself - Yes, I'm making a recommendation to myself. As an Invasion player, do not purchase this game. The game is a good game, you like it, but you only have so much time and money to invest in LCGs, since you are a board gamer at heart. You've already heavily invested in Invasion, so that is where you should stay. However, if you could time travel and have the choice to choose between the two without pre-investment in one or the other, then it might be a tough choice.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dreaming About Turtles and Laptops

So I was 35 minutes late to work today, because for some reason I shut off my alarm. I'm glad I did though, because in that time I had a dream. Now this isn't an MLK dream, but an actual dream while sleeping a la Jacob from the Bible or somebody from Inception. More likely Inception.

I was at a river, a rushing river, and I feel like there were other people there. For some reason there was a huge log that this river was rushing into. It was a big, black, gnarly (I like spelling that word) log, that was as big as a house with a large black hole. Occasionally, birds that were in the duck/goose family would fly into this hole and come back out with a turtle in their beak and fly away. Not sure why they were doing this, but they were.

After awhile, one of these birds came out with a pretty large turtle in it's beak, which must've meant the bird had to be large. I don't remember, so quit asking me how large! This turtle was about the size of a turkey carving plate during Thanksgiving. I decided to catch it. Don't know how I did, whether I caught the bird first or just sweet talked the bird into dropping the turtle, but eventually I did catch it. Even avoiding getting bit in the process.

Once I had that turtle out of the bird's beak, I realized there was a laptop strapped to its back! That's right a regular old laptop, not an iPad or whatever you Android users say is equal to an iPad, but just a regular old flip up the screen and start typing laptop. Somehow I found videos on this laptop of people dancing and singing. I don't know what they were dancing too, probably something by the Black Eyed Peas, but it was there. Don't ask me how the laptop survived in the log, on a turtle, then being carried by a bird in it's beak, but it did!

I then was magically transported, you know how this works in dreams, to a log cabin where I tried to get the turtle to be still so I could get my friends to record a video with me on the laptop. First, I don't know who my "friends" were, but since it involves turtles and laptops I'll assume Sean Chambers was one of them. Also, I hear you asking now, why did you leave the laptop strapped to the turtle? Again, I don't know. Perhaps it was important to the turtle to remain with the laptop. Perhaps, and I'm stretching a bit now, the laptop was his shell. Either way, at some point my dream ended with my futile attempt to get my friends to record on the laptop that was strapped to a turtle.

So I was 35 minutes late to work today...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Every 100 Games - King of Tokyo

My 3,300 logged game played, was King of Tokyo, a game designed by Richard Garfield the designer of Magic: The Gathering. Below you'll find my thoughts on the game and the recommendations I have for who might enjoy or not enjoy this dice game of monsters destroying one another.

I have the second version of the game, which comes with great big chunky engraved dice. Eight of them to be exact. These dice aren't your monopoly sized polyhedrals (I always wanted to use that word), instead they are the kind of dice that shake the table when you roll them across its surface. Okay, well maybe they don't shake the table, but they are big enough and loud enough when rolled that I actually built a dice tray to roll them in. The game also comes with dozens of cards that make your monsters vary from game to game. The cards are of very good quality. There are also 6 monster cut-outs, including The King and The Kraken (my personal favorite). Finally each player gets their own monster card with score dials and there is a center board that is Tokyo. The art, is absolutely great, with a cartoon style that is very enjoyable.

Game Play
Imagine Yahtzee...but with monsters! That's exactly how I explain this game. Just like in Yahtzee you roll up to three times and try to get the best combo of dice for your purposes. The dice have scoring sides (1s, 2s, & 3s), claws for damaging other monsters, lightning bolts for getting energy (the currency in the game), and hearts to heal your monster. Your goal is to score 20 points before everyone else or damage everyone else so their monsters die! Each time you move into Tokyo you get a point and every turn you start in Tokyo you get 2 points, but there is a downside, which is no healing while in Tokyo! So go in at your own risk. The game usually takes between 15-45 minutes, according to how many players you have in the game.

My Thoughts
King of Tokyo is just an absolute blast! It will without a doubt be in my Top 10 New To Me games from 2012 and I can even see it breaking into my Top 25 Games of All Time. I think the best part of it, I know this sounds weird, is that it is just fun! I know its difficult to say what fun is, but this game is it for me. It plays very quick, has a ton of cards that make each game especially different, since different combos bring different possibilities. There are enough cards that I'm still surprised when a new comes up, even after 20+ plays. Though people keep saying there isn't strategy in the game, I'm not completely sure about that. I do feel better players will win more often than not, I was even able to win something like 6 games in a row there, which I think it came from knowing the game better than my opponents. This isn't extremely deep though like Macao or The Castles of Burgundy or even Kingsburg. It is though more thoughtful than the classic dice game Yahtzee.

This is where I try to recommend or not recommend this game to different type of players, so here we go.
The CCG Player - I've taught this to several friends, who enjoy CCGs, and they've all really enjoyed it. I think there is something about the quick play, the variety the cards provide, and their quick grasp of what the cards do and understanding how to use them.
The Pure Eurogamer - Look elsewhere. King of Tokyo, though it has been popular with much of my group, the few that seem cool on it are the ones that love number crunching and spreadsheet punching with no luck. You'll not find that in King of Tokyo.
The Non-Gamer - I've had great success with this with my family and friends who are not deep into games. I think it has to do with the very familiar Yahtzee feel of the game, which most people know already before you sit down. I also think it has to do with a theme they understand and find intriguing, since many people have watched or are at least aware of the genre of movies this game is based on.
My Wife - For some reason, my wife isn't an absolute huge fan of this game. So if you are her, I'd suggest you not buy it. Instead try before you buy.

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Every 100 Games Series - Lost Cities

I've gotten a bit behind on my Every 100 Games Review, but my 3,200th game played was Lost Cities. I first played Lost Cities several years ago, I'm thinking around 2007, when Krista and I were waiting for another game to end so we could get in. Now I own it, so here is the breakdown of the game.

The Stuff
Lost Cities comes with a board, which for game play purposes isn't really required, but it is nice to have. On the board you'll be placing discarded cards of five different colors, numbered 1-10. Each color also has 3 Hand Shake cards which are multipliers for scoring. These cards are nice big tarot sized cards, the art it nice, and everything is of good quality and fits in a small square box. You really can't go to wrong with the stuff.

Game Play
On your turn you play a card and draw a card. That's it. So the game itself if very simple to actually play. When you play a card, you must either play a card to one of the five expeditions (colors) in front of you and the card numbers must always increase, so multipliers must be first, then the 1, 2, 3, 4...okay you get the idea. You can skip numbers, but you can't ever go back below the last one that was played on your expedition. You then draw a card, either from the draw pile or one of the face up discard piles on the board. The round ends when the draw pile is empty. Each player then adds up their points on each expedition, minus the -20 that if started expeditions have, and the player with the most points after 3 rounds wins.

My Thoughts
Well, to say I love Lost Cities wouldn't be truthful, but I can say that I like it. There is plenty of luck in the game, but plenty of strategy as well. A big part of the game, at least in my mind, is playing chicken with your opponent. You try to hold out as long as you can with discarding a card they want, since once they've played a blue 4 you know they cannot play a blue 3. You can also, if you're willing to take a hit yourself, try and get that high valued card in order to stop them from getting it and thus getting negative points for that color expedition.

When I first played this game, I thought it was all right, but my wife really enjoyed the game. A few years went by and when I won a gift certificate to Thoughthammer, I asked her what game she'd like to buy and this was her choice. So she liked it enough to purchase it. Now that we've owned it and played it more, I've found I have gotten better at the game, so it does reward extended play and understanding the game more.

My Recommendations
I'm going to try a new section on these Every 100 Games reviews, the recommendation section. Where I make recommendations on specific types of people to buy and not buy this game.

The Gamer -  I'd say this is a play before you buy title. It's a two player game, it's fast, it doesn't see hardly any play at game days.
The Couple - This is a buy for the couple who wants to play games together. It isn't too mean, it plays quick, and if one of the spouses isn't much of a gamer, it is simple enough. Though the math can get a bit daunting for some people.
The Rummy Player - This is the guy that enjoys 500 rummy and collecting sets. This is the one that will enjoy this game. Numbers don't bother this player and theme doesn't either, so I'd suggest if your mom or dad or cousin enjoys playing rummy with you that they'd also like this game.
The Attacker - If you are looking for confrontation, dice rolling, screams and yells of your vanquished opponent, then this isn't the game for you. Just move along.
The Donkey - Are you kidding me? Donkey's don't play games. This one or another.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Job - Tough to Relate

Yes, this is another post about Job. Not my job, but Job, the guy from the Bible? Lost a bunch of stuff? Kids all died? Yeah, that guy. We've been studying him still at church and so I've been trying to read Job for my personal devotions. I had a huge revelation the other day about him, so I thought I'd write it down.

I can't relate to Job for 37 chapters. I mean, first we see how wealthy the guy is and how "awesome" he is doing. I'm really blessed, don't get me wrong, but in today's terms Job is a Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or some Oil Baron Sheikh who is absolutely filthy rich. I can't relate to that. I mean, I like my job and I take care of my family, but my backyard only has some rabbits (I consider them mine, but that is just because they live under my shed rent free).

Something else I can't relate to, how much of a good man he was. God says, "Yo Sat'n, looksy here at Job and how great 'e is." Apparently, God has a similar accent to Rocky Balboa today. Job is blameless and God uses him as an example to Satan of an upright man, the most upright man at that time. Yeah, not sure I can relate with that either.

Then, probably the biggest thing I can't relate with is all the loss that occurs in Job's life. He loses all his crazy wealth, his health, all his kids, his wife is a complete nag. I can't relate on any of this either. I've never even lost my job (its job this time, not Job), my health has always been good, my wife doesn't nag me on much more than putting the dishes in the dishwasher wrong, and I've never been so despondent that I wished I wasn't born.

Finally, the friends that he had. I can't really relate to them either. When I have had rough times, for instance death of my uncle or my grandpa or little sister, which compared to Job's problems were small instances of pain and not the overwhelming pain he must've been feeling from losing a WHOLE family at one time, my friends have been great. They haven't been coming to me saying, "Adam what'd you do to make your uncle die?!" or "Well, I guess your grandpa got what he deserved, he must've sinned." They were comforting and just supporting. So can't really relate to Job's relationship with his friends.

However, then comes chapter 38, and the relating begins. God begins questioning Job. He asks a lot of tough questions, that make Job feel pretty small. God reminds Job exactly how big Job is in the scheme of things in the universe and he also reminds him that God remembers Job. You see, this is where I relate to Job and likely most of you do too. We're not rich in camels or have had our whole family die, but we are are minuscule compared to God. I've heard it this way, when compared to God's holiness and his power we're similar to worms or ants. To us, there really isn't much of a difference between two worms or ants. The most powerful ant is completely helpless against us. The most well-behaving worm still is a worm to us.

The cool part though is that Job doesn't end after God putting him in his correct place. Even though Job is so insignificant, God still doesn't forget him. This is where I can also relate to Job, because I know God doesn't forget me either. Well, that is my thoughts on jobs, I mean Job's book in the Bible.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guild of Thieves is Published!

It's true! Yesterday we received the first two copies of the game. The art looked very good, I just noticed a couple rule tweaks that needed to be made to make it clearer and also had to fix the text on the Sword card that had got cut off. I did these things, took a few pictures and posted it on the Game Crafter Website.

If you want to purchase it, you can do so here: Guild of Thieves. The cost is $14.99 plus shipping. Just so you know, this isn't about making money for me, I'll earn a whoppin' 20 cents of store credit per copy purchased. It's been more about the joy of creating something.

If you do purchase it or even just play a copy of it, please rate and review it both on The Game Crafter & (I'm hoping it'll have an entry in their database soon). Please give it an honest rating on how you like the game. Won't hurt my feelings one way or the other.

Here is a quick How to Play video on the game I did last night:

Finally, I'd like to thank all the people who helped with this game. Here is the list of play testers, it's in the rules, but I really appreciate it so I thought I'd list them again:
Ally Becker, Angie Becker, Andrew Brooks, Nick Carter, Kendra Carter, Katie Daulton, Krista Daulton, Brendan Flood, Abby Funk, Chris Funk, Abigail Johnson, Sean Johnson, Jonathan Kafoure, Annie Montz, Jeremy Montz, David Remiger, Michael Tooley, Rachel Tooley, Randy Tooley, Clint Weis, Meggan Schwirtz & Trevor Schwirtz.

Okay, now I'll get back to blogging about other things than Guild of Thieves.

P.S. There is now a page for Guild of Thieves on BGG:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guild of Thieves Update #5

It’s finished. Well, it probably won’t ever be completely finished. I’m sure I’ll have rule tweaks and maybe even expansions, but in my mind Guild of Thieves is finally finished. I feel like I’m a board game designer now. Sure, it is just a web-based published game, but I still feel like I’ve accomplished something; similar to how I’d feel if I build a kitchen table or wrote a book. I’ve created something that I hope others can enjoy and the first to copies on in an USPS truck coming this way. I’ve still got some pictures to take and upload in order to officially make it available to the public, so expect a sales pitch soon.

If you haven’t followed my Guild of Thieves (GoT) updates religiously, you can go back and read them. What are you still reading this for?!....... I imagine though, that you didn’t follow them and that you aren’t going to go back and read them, so instead I’ll go ahead and just give you a brief history. I got the idea for the game in August 2011, so it has been nearly a year now to see it come to fruition. My idea essentially came from two great games I enjoyed playing, so it isn’t ground breaking, but it is different. First is Dominion, a game where you purchase cards that are in stacks on the table in front of you to add them to your deck. Second was Hey! That’s My Fish! a game about penguins moving on hexagon pieces picking the pieces up to score points. I wanted to combine the two, the deck-building of Dominion and the using a pawn to move to a specific space of Hey! That’s My Fish!.

So I came home and put together a prototype out of index cards with just letters on them and zero theme. I then began thinking this might be something, so I decided to look for self-publishing options and found which was awesome! I could publish my game, for pretty cheap, if I switched to regular cards instead of hexes (at that time it would’ve cost around $163 per copy of the game for hexes). So I did and around the same time I switched the theme of the game from the Fruit theme (I know, fruit, seriously Adam)  I was working with after my lettered index cards, to the Magical Arabian theme it currently has. I asked Jeremy Montz if he would be interested in doing the art, which he agreed to do, and we were off! It took longer than expected for me to narrow down what cards to put in the base game (I have 3 others that have been play tested and I kept out of the game for one reason or another) and it also took Jeremy a bit longer to come up with the original art and graphic design. Then, to top it off, I switched a card out the last moment and went to text based instead of icon based game play.

So now I’m down to the final steps before it is available for purchase. I’m selling it at cost, because this isn’t a money making venture as much as it is just trying to accomplish something. I’ve got to determine if I want to make a website for Ekka Games, the name of the company I’ve decided to publish GoT through, once the first copies arrive I need to make a YouTube “How to Play” video, and then I’ll be sure to post here on the blog, on Facebook, and Twitter that the Guild of Thieves is available! Then I’m already in the process of working on my next design, which needs a way better name than the current name of City Planner.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Week of Summer

It felt a bit like I was high school this last week. Krista and the girls went up to Wisconsin to see the family on a last minute trip and I stayed back to work. So I worked hard and played hard. I had a good week, though I missed my girls. Here is a rundown of what I did this week, which reminded me of highschool, since during the summer in high school my weeks looked similar.

Worked late and then decided to go and watch the Amazing Spider-man with one of the senior guys from the youth group. I stopped by the new game store called Game Time in Castleton, then went over and watched the movie with Chris. Throughout the week, when I had a few minutes, I'd proceed to watch the previous 3 Spider-man movies as well. Which made for some late nights! Here are my quick thoughts in the order of how I liked the movies: Spider-man 2, Spider-man, The Amazing Spider-man, Spider-man 3 (Topher Grace as Venom is just ridiculous).

Worked late again and then went over to grill out with our community group. It's was some good conversation the Hobbit, Dune, and I even was able to eat without feeding the kids. The burgers were absolutely great by being mixed with apple sauce, crackers, and some other things I'm not remembering now. After that I went over to my buddy Dave's house to play some Command and Colors: Ancients. His wife was out of town too and so we took the chance to play games, which we both get to do, but not very often together. I played the Romans and he played the Carthaginians in a battle I cannot remember. I got out to a 5-0 lead, but only ended up winning 7 - 5.

My brother and his fiance took me fishing out near Illinois in a nice little farm pond. After dinner at a Steak place that I guess is somewhat famous for hosting IU, Illinois, and Purdue basketball teams, we got out on the pond. It was some of the best fishing I've had in a while. Both Lindsey and Caleb caught huge bass, while I missed mine. Though I did catch a lot of very nice, maybe even 1lb Crappie. I didn't get home and in bed until 12:45am, which meant 5:45am came early, but it was really worth it! I love fishing and was glad to get to go. Hope I get to go back. Here is a picture:


Worked last again Thursday, came home and got some business out of the way on the computer and then went to the first game of the softball tourney. We got beat. We got beat 10-7. We hit horrible, with 3 of the innings being a 1-2-3, two of those innings with our top 3 lead off hitters. It didn't make me happy.

After staying busy all week, I was originally planning on just relaxing by myself Friday night, but instead sent out a text to some buddies for some ad hoc gaming. Both Brendan and Clint responded and so we enjoyed a few games together. First Clint and I played Battle Cry, with the Union getting a victory at Gettysburg - Pickett's Charge. Then Brendan joined us for Ninjato (designed by Indianapolis's very own A.B. West), Hansa Tuetonica (I mopped the floor with them, but they'd never played before and I've played quite a bit), and the King of Tokyo (my current HOT game). They took off around 11:15. I got in bed around midnight.

Got up at 6:30 to go and play in our 2nd tourney game of softball. We played on a field we'd never played on before and it is by far the nicest field in the league. This didn't help our hitting though, I went 1 for 3, my only hit coming because nobody covered first when I dribbled the ball down the right field line. Hurt my shoulder, my groin, and got beat 9-3. I've decided I can't manage a team in the playoffs, because thus far my softball teams are 0-4 in play off games and they haven't even been close. With that done at 9:15 or so, I came home and showered, cleaned the dishes for the girls arrival, and then went to play games at the Indy Boardgamers Meet-up. Where I played Trajan (if I owned it this might be my HOT game right now), Eclipse where I scored the highest I've ever scored with the Hydran, and then finished up the day with Train of Thought (a party game I didn't enjoy). I got home about 6:10 and the girls arived about 6:20. We unpacked the stuff from the van and went to get some Yats, which is the perfect way to end the week!

I missed my girls after this week though and I'm really glad they are back! Seriously though, if you knew me at all in high school, you'd know this is what I did during my summers. Though you could substitute golf or basketball in for the softball, and I'd be mowing grass instead of being a desk jockey.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Best Movie Villians

The other day I got into a conversation about Commodus, the Emperor from Gladiator and how much I hated him. Now Joaquin Phoenix, the actor that played Commodus, is hated by me in every movie because of the great job he did as an actor in Gladiator. This got me thinking about the best villains ever in movies. Remember as you are reading this, I’m not a huge horror fan, so none of those bad guys will be on here. I’ll try give you why I think they are a great villain and also perhaps a scene that makes it them the best to hate. In no particular order, here they are:

Magneto from X-Men (2000), X-2 (2003), X-Men: Last Stand (2006). The Ian McKellan version. This guy is a villain, that in a way you feel sorry for and understand why he feels the way he feels. He is right, in a way, with his mission for equality of the mutants, but then he takes it too far. He ends up becoming exactly what he originally starts out fighting and thus becomes the perfect villain to combat Professor X and X-Men.  My favorite scene of his is in X-2 where the guard, who’d been injected with iron, comes into the all glass holding cell and Magneto senses the extra iron and extracts from the guard’s blood to escape.
The Joker from Dark Knight Rises (2008). Heath Ledger made this part. The reason he is the villain is because he just doesn’t care about anyone or anything. He doesn’t even really care about himself. He just wants chaos. It is tough to decide my favorite scene with him, there are the times he is discussing how he got his scars or when he burns his pile of money in front of the crooks. Both are really good. However, his “magic trick” scene when he first introduces himself to the criminal underworld is so unexpected and so mean that it has to be his villain moment.
Commodus from Gladiator (2000). I’ve already mentioned it, but he is a villain that I just hate. He just seems so slimy. Kills his own father, wants to have relations with his own sister, and doesn’t even give Maximus a chance in the arena. The ultimate scene though is when he does kill Marcus Aralias while crying that he never loved him. One of the best acting jobs ever I think.
Gollum from the Lord of the Rings (2001,2002,2003). We all knew that LotR would make the list somehow. Sauron is the main villain in these movies, but one of his puppets is Gollum. The reason I put Gollum on the list, is like Magneto I feel sorry for him. I see that he was unsuspectingly caught in a web he couldn’t get out of and that despite his decline being his fault, I still want to see the good in him like Frodo. What makes him such a good villain though is that despite all Frodo does for him, he still backstabs him and ignores his “hobbit” side in favor the of the desire for the One Ring! Without a doubt, the best scene of Gollum is in the Two Towers when Smeagol convinces Gollum to go away – though we know he won’t be gone for long.
Dr. Octavius in Spiderman 2 (2004). Doc Ock almost didn’t make my list, because I’m not a big fan of the baddies turning good right at the last instant. However, in this case I make an exception, because I think he is just a great bad guy. A good man, who combined with the death of his wife and his extra four arms, goes a bit crazy. My favorite scene is when he robs the bank and takes Aunt Em with him up the side of the building.
Scar from The Lion King (1994). Scar is such a good bad guy…er, I mean, bad lion. He kills his own brother, attempts to kill his nephew, and lets the bad hyenas into the Pride! What I like best about him, is how they made him seem so extremely snooty and above everyone else. Just like you’d imagine a rich prince to be. The best scene with Scar is when Simba comes to see him for the first time in the movie and he tells him about the Elephant Graveyard.
Lex Luthor from Superman (1978). Gene Hackman plays the perfect Lex Luthor, he is crazy full of himself, a genius with absolutely huge plans, and has complete disdain for the people that work around him. I think it is great how he lays out his plans to the dummies with him, they don’t get it, and it makes him furious. Then he even is willing to kill his girlfriends mom with the nuke. My favorite scene with him has to be where he and Superman have their discussion of what is going to happen with the nukes.
Harry & Marv from Home Alone (1990). Okay, these guys aren’t exactly what you’d call the most evil villains ever, but I like them! They make being bad funny. They are about as horrible as can be when it comes to thieves, but they really want to beat the kid. My favorite scene is when Marv tries to go in through the basement and steps on the nails. Just laugh out loud funny!
Owen Davian from Mission: Impossible III (2006). This may be the most controversial addition to this list, but I think he is an excellent bad guy. Being a bad guy is his business. It isn’t about chaos like the Joker or being a genius criminal like Luthor. He just wants to make money and be the best business bad guy ever. My favorite scene is when he first meets Ethan Hunt and says, “You have a wife...girlfriend? Because if you do, I'm gonna find her, whoever she is. I'm gonna hurt her. I'm gonna make her bleed, and cry, and call out your name. And then I'm gonna find you,and kill you right in front of her.” That is a real bad guy and someone you like to hate.

So that is my list, off the top of my head, who'd I miss?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: "How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?  When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin. Job 8:1-4

Sorta some tough words for Job from his good friend Bildad, huh? Hey Job, yeah I know I'm supposed to be your buddy and I'm really here to comfort you, I even have sat with you for 7 days, but let's just be honest here. Your kids, they got their come uppins. What do you expect out of a God of Justice? Death for their sin. If you read further, he not only has dissed Job's dead kids, but he goes on to say that it has to be Job's fault that he is suffering. Ouch.

I had the opportunity to teach from this passage this last week at church to the high school class. I've been pondering it all week even more. Bildad, like so many of us, was simply stereo-typing and not thinking outside his human mind about what happens in Job 1 & 2. He was, as many people did then and even still do so today, basically saying it's karma. Though he was saying from a Jehovah God sense. What goes around comes around. They got what they deserved and Job should just admit it and move on with his life. Jesus refutes this very thing in John 9, when he is asked by his disciples who sinned that caused the blindness of man. The disciples thought it had to be the guy himself or at the very least his parents, but Jesus said neither did. He was blind for the glory of God.

We (I include myself in this completely) must remember that there are consequences for individual sin. You sleep around, well you're more likely to get an STD, have a broken heart, have stress and relationship issues in the future, all kinds of potential fall outs from being promiscuous. If you are greedy, you might step over the people you care about, trying to earn that dollar, and thus damage those relationships or get burned in a raw business deal or even do something illegal and be put in prison for your greed. There are consequences for individual sin - the high schoolers pointed out David's first born dying because of what he and Bathsheba did to Uriah.

But the story of Job illustrates and the story of Jesus illustrates, this is a fallen world. Not only have I sinned, but everyone has sinned, and the original Adam brought that sin into this world. This world is a fallen and broken world even without your individual sin it still would be. It's amazing to me that God, the same just God that Bildad refers to in Job 8, hasn't destroyed it already. He hasn't though. He sent Christ to take on that sin Himself. All that individual sin that Bildad likes to point out to Job as the reason for suffering, Christ takes it on Himself.

So what does Bildad teach me. First, don't be so quick to judge because there could be stuff going on you don't know about. Second, sometimes even when things seem so correct, I should have more tact in comforting my friend and not being so quick to point out it has to be their personal sins that brought a tragedy around them. Finally, he reminds me that God is just. Not only is God just when it comes to my individual sins though, but He is just when it comes to our corporate sin as mankind. That's and that is why Christ died.

Never thought I'd learn so much from a Shuhite did you? I'm finding there is more to the Book of Job than the first couple chapters and the last four.