Category: Personal Post

Board Game Marathon, November 2-3, 2013

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November 11, 2013 at 8:22 amCategory:Personal Post

(First of all, my USB card reader decided to stop working, so I don’t have any photos to upload here from the event. I am working on fixing this.)

Pre-game Events

Bright and early Saturday morning (hey, 8:45 a.m. on a Saturday is bright and early), I got to the condo where we would be playing. I got buzzed in by the concierge. While I was fumbling around on my smartphone trying to load the Facebook entry with all the correct data, the concierge said, “You’re going to <number>, right?”

That was indeed a familiar sounding number, so I said yes. As I walked away, he asked, “What is going on up there?”

“Oh, we’re playing board games. For charity.”

I went up to the suite, knocked, and went in. There was a pile of food on the kitchen island, and some gamers. The organizer had some people help set up some tables and chairs, and then by 9 a.m. everyone was there.

Games were organised by having two or three people pick their name from a bag, and then those people would choose the game they wanted to play, and then other people would join in whatever game they wanted to play. As part of prepping for the event, the organisers wrote everyone’s name down on  a meeple and used those as tokens in the grab bag.

What is a meeple, if you don’t know? The little yellow guy a third of the way down here is a prime example.

The Games

So for the next 25 hours, I would be playing a bunch of games. I wrote down the start and finish times for each. When I was more awake, I added some notes.

Battlestar Galactica

Yes, based on the popular television series. Everyone is either a human or a cylon at the start, then things happen, then something called the sleeper phase happens and people who were human for the first bit of the game might find themselves becoming a cylon. The humans are trying to get Galactica to their destination, the cylons are trying to stop them from doing so.

As you might be able to tell from the above, I know next to nothing about the show. People were concerned that I might get some spoilers from playing the game and I was all like, “Nah, I’m good.” Spoilers about the TV show from playing a game. That’s right. That’s how detailed the character cards are.

Anyhow, I was some guy who I only remember now as “Hot Dog”, which involved me flying a Viper around and shooting at things. Every character has different skills, and abilities, and once a turn powers, and once a game powers. Challenges come up, and people throw in skill cards from their hands to try and beat the challenge toughness number.

The trick is, of course, that sneaky cylons can throw in negative or useless skill cards to try and sabotage the process. If the humans pass the challenge, good things (or nothing, which is good) happen, if they fail, some sort of minor to major catastrophe.

I was a human the whole game. The Admiral and one of the others turned out to be the cylons. We fought a mad battle with cylon raiders, a cylon dreadnought robot thing that I managed to shoot and destroy, and at the end it came down to two skill check cards. The first one wiped out all cylons around the Galactica, and the second one (which we failed)  meant that the cylon ships that had been brought back (the cylon ships never go away for good) managed to blow up some of the civilian ships around the main ship and reduced the human population to zero.

Time played: 9:28 a.m.-12:52 p.m.

Terra Mystica

From the dramatic previous game, with its cylon ships and little photos of humans running around the stations on the Galactica, I went to a mystic land where different fantasy type races were trying to colonize and expand their colonies to larger cities. This was my first time playing this, but I had heard a lot of good things about it, so I was eager to try it.

So were three other people, and with the game chooser, this made five. “I’ve never played a five player game of Terra Mystica before,” the chooser said. He did a great job of teaching the game to us, and off we went.

I was playing the Engineers, which basically meant I could build buildings and bridges for a lot cheaper. In balance, I had fewer workers.

I had no idea what I was doing, and the final score showed it. Still a great game, though, and I wound up buying a copy last Saturday.

Time played: 1:09 p.m. – 5;09 p.m.

Dinner Break

You know. Dinner.

City of Remnants

This was one of the games I had brought, and I chose it when my name was pulled from the meeple bag.

In City of Remnants, you have a gang of aliens which have been dumped on this crappy prison planet by the conquering aliens, the Yugai. Your alien gang wants to be the best gang, so you start building shady enterprises and fighting other gangs to try and get the most renown.

I got attacked hard by one of the other players early in the game and spent the rest of the game trying to rebuild my gang. The one who attacked me won, mostly because I didn’t attack him back and the other player attacked a couple of times. He did have a few problems, though, because once a turn the Yugai drop down, and if they land on you, you have to fight or bribe them. And they were mostly dropping down on him.

Fun game, though, and one of my favourites. (Obviously, or I wouldn’t have brought it.)

Time played: 6:15 p.m..-8:44 p.m.

 Omen

Game times don’t end conveniently sometimes, and two of us wound up playing this game until everyone else had finished their games.

This is a fun little game where you fight over Greek cities with your Greek heroes, beasts, and oracles, to try and perform heroic feats and finally beat your brother (yes, you are battling each other as brothers in this game) by getting that last feat.

I have a copy, but have not played a lot. So, the other guy steamrolled me.

Time played: 9:15 p.m.-9:44 p.m.

Thurn and Taxis

A game based upon building the first postal mail system in Germany.

It sounds dull, but it’s actually very interesting, as you try to build the longest routes, the route that passes through all the provinces in a region, and so on. Not too complex, so the three of us wound up playing two games.

Time played: 10:00 p.m..-11:19 p.m. Score: me 10, the others 19 and 9.

Time played: 11:25 p.m..-12:21 p.m. Score: me 13, the others 26 and 22.

You might note I haven’t won a game yet. Spoiler alert: I don’t ever.

Goa

My name is drawn again from the meeple bag, and I pick my second game I brought, Goa. This is probably my favourite game in my collection of its type (the Euro).

I get to teach two people who have never played, and refresh the memory of one who has played before.

Basically you are trying to build a colony on Goa to be the best colony there is. This is all highly abstract, but it does feel like you are doing it.

Final score, me 35, the others 42, 36, and 33.

Time played: 1:00 a.m..-3:30 a.m.

Seasons

My first time playing, but I’d heard good things, etc. etc.

You are some sort of wizard in a contest to determine who the best wizard is. Through careful use of cards you pick from a pregame draft and dice you pick from a common pool each turn, you try and maximize your energy. Which is to say, points.

I had no idea what the cards did, and people who did were able to build powerhouses that were getting them all kinds of points every turn. A fun game, but not one I’m ever likely to buy.

Final score, me 73, others 209, 184, 150.

Time played: 3:39 a.m..-5:54 a.m.

DC Comics Deck Building Game

That is the actual name of the game, by the way, not the result of me taking notes at 6 in the morning. The publisher didn’t work very hard at all on the title.

This wasn’t a very complex game, which is good at 6 in the morning. It also seems to suffer from a runaway leader problem, because once someone gets a really good card in their deck, there’s nothing you can do to get it out of their deck.

Final score, me 11, others lots more. (My notes are almost non-existent at this point.)

Time played: 6:25 a.m..-7:03 a.m.

Bamboleo Tournament

At this point, peoples’ brains were fried, so we had a Bamboleo tournament until the end. Bamboleo is a game where a huge wooden disk on a pillar has smaller wooden shapes on top of it, and players alternate taking pieces off until the huge wooden disk overbalances and everything falls over.

Chaotic fun. I lied when I said I didn’t win anything, because I did win two games of this before being defeated the third time.

Pass the Potato

You know Hot Potato. We passed around a wrapped prize. When the music stopped, we unwrapped a layer.

There were a lot of layers, but finally the last one was reached. And someone else got the prize. The prize being a game of mini Jenga.

Post Game

People hung around, chatted. One of the player’s wives brought their two children over when picking him up. I made the baby smile by waving at it as mom was heading out, so I actually won another game.

Then people were starting another game of Battlestar Galactica, at which point I decided it was a good time to get out. I said my goodbyes and headed home.

One of my favourite indie coffee places in town was just around the corner. I got a snack and a coffee, sat down, and suddenly the fatigue hit. I finished up and headed home for a few hours sleep.

Testing

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September 17, 2012 at 9:46 amCategory:Personal Post

Is this thing on?

Long Time No Write

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February 1, 2012 at 10:35 amCategory:Personal Post

September 2011? Really? That’s my last blog entry?

Well, I’ll have to pull my socks up in 2012.

Linked In Etiquette

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September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pmCategory:Personal Post | Social Media

It’s always interesting figuring out who to grant requests to connect from on Linked In. I don’t even know if it makes much of a difference, it doesn’t seem to be like Facebook or Google+ where there is at least the illusion of personal data segmentation. So does one just blindly accept every connect request?

Of course not. The skill here, like in real life, is learning the rules of the social game.

My Favourite Piece of Zen Humour

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July 4, 2011 at 11:02 amCategory:Personal Post

There was once a man who was crossing a field and met a tiger. Running away, he came to a great cliff and caught hold of a root and swung over the edge of the cliff. But at the bottom of the cliff was another tiger.
Soon two little mice came along and began to gnaw on the root. The man looked in terror at the tiger below. But then he saw the root was for a strawberry vine, and at the end was a ripe strawberry. He picked the strawberry and ate it. “Ah, how delicious it is,” he said to himself.

It’s a great reminder that you have to keep going and find what joy you can in the middle of any seemingly unforgiving crisis. I love this joke.

A Yo-Yo Career

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May 16, 2011 at 9:09 pmCategory:Personal Post

With all this multitasking at work, there are certain expectations made of you. The expectation that you can instantly and without hesitation shift gears and suddenly begin doing something totally different from what you’ve been doing for the past long time.

You’re a yo-yo doing “The Sleeper”? Well, now it’s “Around the World”! Back to the “The Sleeper”, but not for long, it’s now time to “Walk the Dog”!

(Sleep! Walk! Around! Hmm. That really was unplanned.)

I don’t think going from being a non-thinking paper pusher to a vibrantly creative problem solver in the blink of an eye is possible. They involve different approaches to life. One or the other will suffer as you transition back and forth between them.

This resource crunch isn’t good for employers or employees. A vibrant company is only achieved when both sides recognize that.

I Have a Vision

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April 13, 2011 at 6:15 pmCategory:Personal Post

It’s always interesting when someone in control of part of your life has a vision of a thing or things they can do to improve it, but for whatever reason they refuse to share it with you.

“I can’t talk about that now.”
“Other stuff needs to happen first.”
“Reply hazy, ask again later.”

(I would seriously respect a “leader” who gave me the last response.)

If it’s really my circumstances you want to improve, then you could at least paint me some broad categories until the approval you need comes rolling in. Otherwise, I’m just going to think the only visions you have are the ones involving you and an 80 foot yacht.

The TTC and Your Customer Service

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February 9, 2011 at 11:35 amCategory:Personal Post

So I’m standing here on a really cold winter day entering this blog entry in a really cold subway station.

To be fair, it’s Vic Park, and it’s under construction, and so that neccesitates open walls. Add to that the fact that the subway platform has, is, and always will be open to the elements, and let’s just say I’m typing this as fast as I can so I can put my gloves back on.

We as customers of the TTC really have no choice. If we want to use this subway station as part of our travels, we have to put up with whatever is going on with their construction. And the smells and sights. As long as what is happening doesn’t fall under the category of criminal negligence or endangerment to life, we have to put up with a lot.

But, if there was a competing transit service out there, one that didn’t make me wait around in a meat locker while I was waiting for my low frequency bus, then guess where I would be? Even if it cost me a dollar or so more.

So, are you really the only game in town? And if you are, is interacting with you pleasant for your clients, or are they looking out for someplace that understands them better?

All right. My forefingers are turning numb.

Merry Christmas!

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December 25, 2010 at 11:04 amCategory:Personal Post

Here’s to a bold new 2011 filled with great opportunities for all us tech types.