Reunited & It Feels So Good

Reunited & It Feels So Good

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Give, expecting nothing thereof!

Is there such a thing as gaming karma? I would like to believe so. However, I am a firm believer in giving to others without expecting in return. It is a nice meld between my personal view of the world and my professional social worker view. In addition, it ties in nicely to my practice of the “golden rule.” For seven years I donated an hour each week to run a support group at Truman High school in Independence, Missouri for students whose family was facing a divorcee. It was not uncommon to meet a student who had never heard of the “golden rule.” My wife has insisted that our sons practice the “golden rule plus.”

This has been a wonderful week in gaming. I finished painting my Malifaux figures I purchased at GenCon. For the first time, I’m sad that I finished painting rather than just be glad it was finally over. During a recent episode on the D6 Generation podcast, one of the hosts suggested to his co-host that if you just get started painting something you like, the painting mojo will build, and you will get into a rhythm. I might describe it has the high runners can get. Before they realize it, they have just ran their miles, and have lost track of the time. I feel so energized that I began to paint several models this afternoon that I don’t have a game for, but bought because they looked neat. I can hear my dad saying, “practice makes perfect.”

At my wife’s request, we played 10 Days in Asia this afternoon, and I got in two new games tonight at Pulp Fiction’s open gaming night. We played Samarkand: Routes to Riches twice, and Hornet once. Hornet is a an area control game / sting your neighbor in the back game. The production value is very good. It includes Hornet meeples, and the board art displays Hornets wearing Luchador masks. However, I could not let go of the fact that Hornets don’t make honey??? Dawson shared he thought it was a translation error. Throughout most of the game, I felt powerless. It is published by Z-Man games, and designed by brothers Jani & Tero Moliis.

However, Samarkand: Routes to Riches was a very fun game where I controled 90% + of my game play. The rules were very easy to learn, and the game play can be very quick. We played the second game is just over a half hour. The game consists of marrying into a trading family, developing camel caravans, and merging trade agreements. In the end of the game, your goods, your routes, your relationships, and all of your money equate to victory points. It is a very solid game. It was published this year by Queen games, and designed by David Peters and Harry Wu.

Project X had a good week as well. On a scale of 1-10 (best,) this week was a 9.5 !!!!!!

"Give, expecting nothing thereof." (St. Thomas Aquinas, based on Luke 6:35: "do good and lend expecting nothing in return, for your reward will be great")

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Project X

Just before going to GenCon, I began putting together a business plan for project X, and it has kicked off into full speed this week. As it builds momentum, I will post updates. My goal is to work on project X at least one hour a day, Monday – Friday. Right now, all I can say is that I am very excited!!

The week in games was wonderful. I began to paint my Malifaux models that I purchased at GenCon. So far, my paint jobs have been some of my best attempts at painting a miniature thus far. I shared with Pat and Paul that it has been very relaxing. In the past, it was more of an exercise in frustration. I have stumbled on several color combinations that have given my models a blended effect that I have never achieved before. In addition, Ian began to learn how to assemble and paint miniatures this week. It has been fun sharing this part of the hobby with him.

I introduced my family to a new travel game this weekend called 10 Days in Asia. The goal of the game is to link a 10 day trip through Asia while walking, flying, boating, or using a train. Ian won the third game! Tonight we played Nile, Zombie Dice, and Innovations. Innovation’s was a hit for me. The card mechanics and combos are limitlessness. The theme is civilization building using innovations and technology. Paul won the first play of this game. While early, the first play earned it a solid 9 on a scale of 1-10.

Aside from model building, project X, playing games, I listened to several GenCon podcasts including the D6Generation, the Dice Tower, The Spiel, and Game On. It has been a very fun, rewarding week for me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Post GenCon Blues

It hard to believe GenCon has come and gone. We played three new Gencon snags this past Sunday including Nile, Settlers Across America, and Hunger Games. While unpacking my swag, and finding room to store all of my new purchases, I began to get the itch to paint miniatures. So, I assembled my new Malifauix faction, and began to put on a base coat. The figs in the catalog, are standing on bamboo. However, Wyrd has not released a bamboo base so I had to make them. I used tooth pics, cut to fit on the 30 mm bases. I sprayed them black, and painted layers of brown, & yellow to give the bamboo appearance. So far, they are beginning to look good.

I wish I was a better painter. I have borrowed an painting DVD from Pat, and will burn it to my laptop.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sunday August 8,Day Four, The Last Day

On a whim, I decided to play in the Highlander Call of Cthulhu tournament. The Highlander format is that there can only be one; one copy of any card in your deck. I placed fourth. Tom Capor, the 2009 & 2010 World Champion took first. Jim Black, 2007 Champ made sure to give me a special domain card set. Both guys were very nice to Pat and myself. It was real treat to be able to play with such gentlemen.

I had put off my yearly quest to seek autographs until Sunday, so the next hour or so, was the pursuit of several game designers. I met Martin Wallace who signed several game boards for me, James Ernest who signed my copy of Enemy Chocolatier, and Mike Selinker who developed Betrayal at House on the Hill. My last meeting was with James Lowder who has written many books and articles including the Hobby Games and Family Games 100 Best. We visited about an idea that I have, and he was very encouraging.

As GenCon 2010 was closing, I snagged the demo copy of Guardians of Graxia from Petroglyph games. Overall, GenCon 2010 was a perfect 10 including seeing my friends, making new friends, playing games, and collecting the SWAG.

Saturday August 7,Day Three, The Third Day

The day began with a killer breakfast. For the second year, I attended Tracy & Laura Hickman’s killer breakfast. It is a live event, where the New York Times bestselling author tells a story that includes audience participation. This year’s story was about a group of adventurers that were having breakfast in a local dinner when a ghost ship crashes into the establishment, and ghosts of former Chicago Cubs begin to haunt the surviving adventurers. (FYI) There were no survivors with the exception of Santa Claus who pops in to tell Tracy Hickman that he has made the “naughty” list. The event includes videos, songs, and games. It was great fun. Later in the day I met with Tracy, and had him sign a couple of his books for me.

I spent several hours in the auction room on Saturday. While purchasing a game from my want list, “Clue: The Great Museum Caper” (1991,) I considered bidding on one of two copies of “Conquest of the Empire” (1984) but sat idle as they both went for $40-60 each. While I was beating myself up for not bidding, I reminded myself that I would really have preferred a copy of “Shogun” (1986.) Both games are part of Milton Bradley's Gamemaster series. The game was later changed to “Samurai Swords” due to a name conflict with James Clavell's Shogun. While eating my lunch, a plastic tub that contained three complete copies of “Shogun” came up for bid. I eagerly raised my bid card, and won the auction. The final price was $30. While the boxes were missing, the tub contained an additional 5 sets of complete miniatures. Overall, I felt that I got a good deal. While it is not a collectors copy, it is a very playable copy. It is interesting to note as I write this blog, there are multiple used copies for sale on Ebay $150 plus.

Saturday concluded with a game of Shifting Sands. It is a card driven WWII board game focused on the conflict in North Africa. A card driven can be described as a game where the cards may have multiple actions including operations, events, and outcomes. In shifting sands, the cards can be used for re-enforcements, the stated events based on a real WWII event in North Africa, or operations. An operation is the numbers choices you can make on your turn such as attacking, or moving divisions. The game is difficult to set up, but once game play begins, it can be an intense tug of war. Kudos to Bob for inviting me to the game.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday August 6,Day Two, The Second Day

GenCon was busy today, and it was not unusual to get bumped while standing in a booth. There is only so much room for 30,000 gamers in the convention center. I got in several gaming demonstrations including Guardians of Graxia, and Panzer General Russian Assault at the Petroglyph booth. I met briefly with the author Jeff Tidball this morning.

I visited with the general manager of Soda Pop miniatures. He was excited to announce a new game for their Soda Pop miniatures called Relic Knights; Darkspace Calamity. The game is planned for a 2011 release. It will feature skirmish level battles and a card driven battle mechanic.

I purchased two prints, and art book, and an original piece of art from Lydia Burris. A piece of hers is unveiling tonight in downtown Indianapolis. It is 29 feet long and is on the side of a light box. Her work is amazing, and this year’s pieces feature bright colors.

I attended two podcasts today including “This Just in from Gencon,” and the “D 6 Generation.” During the D 6 G podcast, they ran a game by mob. I ended up getting a Warhammer Black library book, and visited with Nicole Wakelan.

After dinner, I taught Pit Fighter to Kathleen and Mark from Minnesota. Jennifer of Cheese Weasel showed me a prototype of a game called “Red Shirts.” The is centered around the red shirts that were commonly killed in Star Trek episodes. Jennifer shared with me that it is a parody that is intended to play as a spoof. The final game of the day was a demonstration of Dust Tactics. It is a squad based combat game with Mechanized troops.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday August 5 GenCon Day One, The First Day

Well day one is coming to a close. It was a wonderful day. As we attended the trade day on Wednesday, we were able to enter the dealer hall an hour early today. I used that extra hour to purchase City of Thieves from Fantasy Flight games. It is a new board game that debuted today.

My main goal today was to learn to play Malifaux. It is a squad level miniatures games that uses cards rather than dice. I enjoyed the push your luck factor that uses a deck of cards called the fate deck.

Afterwards, Pat and I registered for the Call of Cthulhu league play. After a refresher game, I played last year’s world champion, Tom Capor. I managed a win as I “decked” Tom (he ran out of cards.) Cthulhu is a game theme based on the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft.

While browsing through the exhibit hall, I met Tom Vasel who is a game review and podcast host of the Dice Tower.

Later in the day I came across Settlers of Catan being played on a new touch screen game table. The interaction and game play was amazing. The evening ended with two games of Are You a Werewolf? It is a deduction game that is based on social interaction. During the second game, I was eaten by the werewolf.

On a family note, I am so very proud of my oldest son, Ryan. He found out today that he passed the exam to quiz out of Spanish 3. Ryan taught himself Spanish 3 this past month. Congratulations!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Top Ten Most Memorable Gaming Experiences

As I prepare for GenCon, I thought I would share some meaningful gaming experiences. These are in no particular order, just the top ten I can remember. As I post this list, I am attending a lecture on using Pop Culture in the Classroom.

GenCon 2010 has truly started.

1. As my gaming interests grew, I was introduced to Risk while visiting a new boy who had moved into my school in 8th grade, Jim. I remember during a snow day, my mother drove me over to Jim’s house, where we played Risk for hours. He had a wonderful game collection that included Axis & Allies, and Broadsides. Eventually, I got my own copy of Risk, and I spent even more hours adding additional territories and expansion.

2. While playing cards and dominoes was a regular part of the Endres family tradition, each summer I would spent several weeks with my grandmother Endres in Wichita. During that visit, I would beg and plead to spend the night with my great uncle Walter. After dinner, he would set up the dominoes on his kitchen table. While playing, he would tune in a radio station on his world band radio. While I don’t remember many of the games outcomes, it was always a wonderful time.

3. My dad was the original card shark. He loved all types of card games. He kept a deck of cards on the first floor, his bedroom, and in all of his suit cases. During quiet times, I can still hear him shuffling the cards and dealing a hand of solitaire. Eventually, he taught me how to play Kings on the Corner. He was notorious for hold cards that he could play, or that would benefit me in any way.

4. My dad was a very hard worker, and my mother and I spent many evening waiting for him to come home. When my mother’s chores/tasks were finished, she loved to play Scrabble. My mother was a very smart individual. Before marrying, she was an artist with Hallmark Cards. She insisted that we play without using the dictionary. It was her opinion that if you could not spell or think of a word, using a dictionary was cheating. I still have our scoring sheets in my childhood copy of Scrabble. A great treasure indeed!

5. I have taken all three of my sons to GenCon. Granted, when they go, it is a very different experience than when I go with just my buddies. I purposely pick games that I think they will enjoy. The requirements are that they must be easy to learn and teach. During Ryan (10) and Hunter’s (8) first GenCon, I convinced my wife to let me take Ryan to a late night game of Zombies by Twilight Creations. Ryan is so bright, that within a few turns, it was clear that he just might beat a table full of adult men. Subsequently, a few opponents also realized this, and began to plot against Ryan. As they cornered him (cutting off his path to win the game) I drew a card which allowed me to switch player token positions. I switched my token with Ryan’s, thus allowing him a clear path to victory. Several of the other players were annoyed with me as I “kingmade” Ryan. Ryan had no idea as he was proudly sporting a new Zombie t-shirt.

6. Usually my personal gaming rule is to not play in any competitive tournament (after all its just a game; isn’t it?) During GenCon 2007, I played in a Warmachine/Hordes combination tournament. I ended up placing first in my faction, the Cryx. Despite feeling an incredible level of satisfaction, I recommitted myself to my personal gaming rule; avoid mindless events that attract poor sports.

7. A truly break through game appeared in 1993 at the Origins Fair called Magic the Gathering. I was captivated (my wife would say addicted.) Eventually I stopped buying and playing the cards as it became overwhelming to keep up with the onslaught of new cards, game mechanics, and evolving rules. While I no longer follow Magic, I kept a dozen or so very playable decks. My very dear friend, Rob was introduced to Magic much later, and it became a bond between us. Several times a year, we have gotten together and found time to play game after game. We have played in restaurants, on-line, in an airport, and at our homes. His rats have attacked my slivers who attacked his goblins who were being attacked by my elves. While I am not nor plan to renew my addiction to MtG, I hope to play endless games in the future with Rob. I hate rats.

8. While preparing to attend GenCon in 2004, a truly imaginative game was hitting the shelves; Pirates of the Spanish Main (POSM.) GenCon hosted a unique tournament that required you to buy in using POSM coins. I was crazy out of my mind trying to find POSM so I could attain the coins that would allow me to buy into the event. The tournament was great fun, and I returned from GenCon eager to find someone to play POSM with. While reading the gaming forums, I found a post by Kansas Bob whose email was linked to a social service agency. My first thought was he is a gamer who worked in social services, which lived in Kansas who liked POSM. Eventually, I met Kansas Bob, and he lived in Missouri. We met at a new gaming store called Pulp Fiction. We were both hesitant as some gamers can give gaming a bad name. Subsequently, we have become great friends which evolved into a weekly Sunday evening gaming group. Because of POSM and Kansas Bob, I game with a great group including Andy, Paul, Dawson, Dustin, Brady, Amy, Jason, Kevin, Mike, and Brian.

9. My first Euro game was Wallenstein. Gaming on a week night is difficult for me as my son’s schedule, and my work keep me very busy. However, I did manage to attend a Thursday game night at Table Top where I was introduced to Wallenstein and Big City. As I was leaving, a fellow gamer suggested I check out a web site called Board Game Geek. It opened the world of gaming to, and introducd me to the Euro gaming movement. The typical euro game is a game that minimizes random play, and gives the player an equal chance to win up until the end game mechanism. Rather than who has the most money as in Monopoly, the euro game often rewards bold play with victory points. While both games were amazing to me that night, I do not own Wallenstein, and eventually purchased Big City on Ebay.

10. While coming home from GenCon in 2005, Paul, Andy, Ryan and myself decided to host a winter gaming party (that celebrates mine and Pat’s birthdays.) Thus White Dragon Con was born. While not a huge event, we have had 20 or so gamers attend the past several years. The gaming swag is a pair of specially designed dice. During White Dragon in 2007, my father joined us and was enthralled with a dexterity game call Crokinole. It was my father’s last White Dragon Con.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Calm Before the Storm

This past week in gaming was very quiet. Instead of playing games tonight, myself and several others volunteered to assist Pulp Fiction Comic and Games install shelves.

Most of my gaming focus this week has been in getting ready for GenCon. We leave Tuesday afternoon for 5 days of gaming goodness. I am looking forward several new games that will ship this fall including the Malifaux expansion, Alhambra card game, Innovations, Railways of the World card game, Age of Industry, Tomb of Iuchiban, the Invasion from Outer Space; The Martian Game, City of Thieves, and Heroes of Graxia.

If I play all of these games, I will be exhausted!! The real fun, is seeing old friends and making new ones. I will be blogging Wednesday through and Saturday. Stay tuned..............