Monday, January 18, 2010

What I want to do this Year

I am not really one to make personal goals. I am not an anal-retentive, Type A type of person. I do not set my eye on the prize, or any of those other cliches that go with making goals. The problem with making goals, especially out of the things that I am going to write about is it takes something that is suppose to be fun and turns it into an obligation. So these are not goals. These are not things that are part of some check list. They are however things I would like to do this year, and these are things that will not "just happen" they will take a purposeful effort. However, these are all things I genuinely want to do this year. If I accomplish any of them, then that is great. If not, then I suppose there is always next year. . .

1. Get Published Again
In 2006, when it rained it poured. I had always wanted to be professionally published, and it happened. A game of mine made it into a youth ministry magazine, and I was paid by a website for several video game reviews. In 2008, there was a small blip, when an article I submitted to a website made their top ten list of best resources, but that only sort of counts. For the most part, since 2006 I have not even tried to get published again. In part this is because seminary occupied a lot of time and mind share. However, if I am being honest I also did not try again because I did not want to fail. I had made it once, and I knew that odds were that I would not follow up with another success immediately. The youth group magazine still has an open submission policy, and there are some devotional resources that I can attempt to submit to. I want to do it, and the worst they can do is say no. . .repeatedly.

2. Make my own boardgame
Back in May of 2009, I wrote that I wanted to do this last year. To be fair, I kind of did. I made up a Zombie card game, that had customizable elements. I created prototype cards, play tested it, tweaked, and discovered the game wasn't very much fun. While the balance was not quite right, the last time I played it the game pretty much worked like I originally envisioned it. Unfortunately, when put in practice the idea did not work to well. Mechanics that were suppose to create a feeling of tension, created more annoyance. The game was suppose to be about surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, but the mechanics of the game felt more like sliding counters on an abacus. I have a lot of other ideas, and I want to bring one to fruition. Even better, there is a website called The Game Crafter. This works like book self publishing, only it is for board games. Which means after I create my game, I can pay to have it actually created professionally.

3. Read a History Book
I really do like history. However, with the exception of the books for my church history class, I have not read one because I chose to for a while. Reading for Seminary can be blamed for this, but half way through this year, I will have been out for a year. So it is high time I read a history book. I have one about the history of war in Scotland, that I think will be a perfect selection.

4. Get Good at Frisbee Golf
I live right next to a frisbee golf course. Last Summer/Fall I got to play a decent amount and my throw was really starting to improve. I hope to play A LOT of Frisbee golf this year. Since we live so close, and Abigail wants to walk with Connor in the park I do not see why I shouldn't play at least once a week.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Top Ten Memories of 2009

It is a week late ( I think I have a good excuse!), but here are my top ten memories from the year. I know that this is Abigail's favorite thing I post, and after something memorable has happened she has asked me "will this make the top ten list?"

2009 is without a doubt my single most memorable year ever. I experienced more things this year, and had major stuff happen this year than any other. I think I could have easily expanded this into a top 20 list, and still not list everything that in other years would make the list. As always, the list is descending order for dramatic effect.

10. Jr. High Retreat
Over Halloween, was my first major event with the youth group at Avon UMC. We took the Jr. High to Camp Mone'to for a retreat. We used Harry Potter as the theme, and everything went very well and was well received. During the day, the youth loved to run around in the woods, even if we did get dangerously close for being lost (technically we were lost for about 2 minutes, but then I found the trail head I was looking for). Along with everything going really well, I was also happy that they all agreed to play an eight player game of A Touch of Evil, which is one of my favorites.

9. Aunt's Funeral

This would be the only sad memory on the list, but it is a memory worth remembering so it is here. After several months of struggling with numerous health issues, my aunt (mom's sister) passed away. I am fortunate that at 28, this is only the fourth funeral that I have attended.

8. Commissioning

As mentioned, this was a big year for me. One of the events that made it a big deal is this one. At the first Annual Conference of the Indiana Conference, I was commissioned as a provisional deacon. This is what I went to seminary for, and it was a pretty cool day.

7. Moving
I have moved a lot in my life, and this was my third time to do it as an "adult". This was the smallest move we have made, and I also think it was the easiest. It was probably easier because we had so much help. Friends from Epworth helped load the truck and unload the truck. Plus we were blown away by how many people from Avon came to help us unload everything.

6. Games in the Park
So with how eventful this year was, Abigail and I did not take a proper vacation over the summer. We did try doing some fun things here and there. One of those fun things is that one afternoon we went to the board game store, picked out a random game that we did not know anything about, and then spent the entire afternoon sitting at picnic table in the park playing it (and other games). This was a great moment, that we both loved spending together.

5. Gen-Con
In 2008, I just sort of dabbled with Gen Con, and over emphasized playing in ticketed events. This year I got the full Gen Con experience, and I got a little to sucked into the show room floor (there were just to many new bright and shiny things to try). This really is the best three days in gaming, and I think that this year when I go back I am going to make a point at getting in as much gaming as possible in the board game room and the publisher rooms.

4. Graduation Party
The actual graduation itself, was not overly memorable. Graduation ceremonies, even one's own are a little boring. This one was even worse because the commencement speaker was a black racist who was tragically stuck in 1968. However, the party after the graduation was awesome. It was a celebration that included my favorite things. There were video games being played, board games, family, friends, and food from Qdoba. It was pretty much awesome.

3. Epworth Mission Trip
I am really glad that for all intents and purposes, the last thing I did with the youth group at Epworth was this mission trip. It was a roller coaster getting there. We were originally scheduled to go to Mexico, but H1N1 got to the height of the panic the day the plane ticket money was due. We had to cancel and in the course of six hours, an alternate plan to go to Kentucky was made. It turned out to be a really good trip. Even though I did not interact with the youth at all during the day, the evenings were fun together. Plus, I got to go white water rafting on real rapids and that was a good time.

2. Niagara Falls
On the vacation request form, I listed my reason for this trip in September as "last fling as a childless couple", and that is exactly what it was. This trip was absolutly perfect, and I loved the time that Abigail and I got to spend together on it. Plus, the view from our room was AMAZING

1. Birth of Connor
Well of course, this had to be #1. The whole event from Abigail's water breaking, to the hours by her side while she was in labor, to watching the doctor pull Connor out of her is so surreal. The whole event is etched into my memory, but the enormity of it all leaves me almost saying "Did that really just happen?" Of course the fact that Connor is here verifies that it did. I am looking forward to making the list of 2010, and including all of the cute things that he does in this new year. He's already off to a great start!



Monday, January 04, 2010

Top 10 Board/Card Games of 2009

Like movies most of the new games I played in 2009 were not published in 2009. However, I did play more 2009 games than I watched 2009 movies. This list also includes board game expansions as the good expansions add a lot to gameplay. I know that for most people these games do not mean much to people, so I included pictures. You probably will not be able to figure out what is going on in the pictures, but at least they add context.

10. Race for the Galaxy:Rebel vs. Imperium

Race for the Galaxy is the favorite for Abigail and I to play together. We played the game together well over 100 times in 2009. This expansion came out this year, and we got it immediately. We did not care for some of the new rules that were added, but the new cards to add to the deck were well received.

9. Castle Panic
Abigail and I like to play co-op games together because we get to be on a team together. My personal favorite co-op game is Ghost Stories, but for some reason we do not play that one as much. We do play Castle Panic a good amount though because it plays fairly quickly. Plus, the rules of Castle Panic are fairly simple, and I have a feeling that one day it will make an outstanding family game.

8. Arcana
I got this game at Gen Con in August after playing it. Arcana has some deck building in it, some bluffing, and deck building. Most of the games I have played with this have been two players. I think that three players would be the ideal number for this game but I have not played it that way yet.

7. Memoir 44: Campaign book vol 1

Memoir '44 is one of my favorite games. I really like how it combines luck, strategy, and versatility in a WWII combat game. A while ago I thought one of the coolest way to play this game would be to have scenarios that affect each other and lead into each other, creating a campaign. That is exactly what this expansion provides.

6. A Touch of Evil: Something Wicked

A Touch of Evil is a really fun "adventure game", where players control heroes trying to save a Colonial village from horror movie monsters. The base game is fun, but this expansions really, really adds a lot to the game. It doubles the size of the board, adds new heroes, new monsters, and much more variety. One of the reasons I really like this game is that it playing it naturally creates a narrative, as the session report I wrote about the game shows.

5. Endeavor
This is the only game on the list, that we do not have. We have both played and liked this game, but we do not have it because can only be played with three or more players. This game's theme is European Colonization, but it is slightly abstracted. One of the things I like about it is that there are multiple paths to victory.

This is a game that I got for Christmas, and along with being a pretty game it is fun. This is a treasure hunting game, where players play cards that narrow down where the treasure is hidden. Players race for the treasure and after it is dug up, they push their luck to get the most treasure. We have only played the game with two players, and I really want to play with more people.

3. Dominion: Seaside

Dominion is a really fun game, that is all about building a deck while the game is being played. Seaside is an expansion for this game, that really adds a lot to the game. Plus with Seaside the possible combination of cards to play with each time is in the billions.

2. Warhammer Invasion
Warhammer Invasion is a Living Card game, which means there are regular optional expansions for it. This is different than a collectible card game, because there are no blind purchases. This game allows me to get the fun of building and crafting decks like I use to do with the Star Wars card game, but it is not a massive money sink. I also really like that while this is a card game, the resource management makes it feel a lot like a board game.

1. Small World
Small World is without a doubt my favorite game of the year, and one of my favorite games ever. In small world players control a fantasy civilization and use the special abilities of that civilization to conquer the world. the problem is that there is not enough space for everyone, hence the name of the game. There is a lot of conflict, but no player elimination. Plus the races and special abilities change every game, so each game is different and exciting.

So who wants to play a game?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Top 5 Movies of 2009

I only saw between 10 or 15 movies that came out this year, so that is why this list is a top five and not top 10. over the next several months I am sure I will watch several other movies from 2009, but a best of the year list six months into the next year is not to exciting. Compared to the past several years though, Abigail and I did watch more movies in a theater than we have for a couple of years. So here are my top five movies from this year:

5. Avatar
Right now I still like Avatar, but the more I have thought about it the more I am cooled down on it. The movie is a visual treat, but the simplistic plot does not hold up to well. The movie essentially as a linear plot with no wrinkles. The "noble savages" are perfect, while the "white men" are evil, and a small number of the bad people go native. It has been done before with more subtly, but it has never looked so pretty. I don't think this is a movie I am going to want to go back to over and over again, but I enjoyed watching it.

4. Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day
Boondock Saints is one of my favorite movies. This movie is definitely one of for the fans, as it is very referential to the first movie. The movie attempts nothing new. It just tries to do things bigger and better than the first one. When the first one featured wise cracking Irish guys and great gun fights, then more of the same is a good deal.

3. Up
This is a great buddy movie. I have not watched a Pixar movie since The Incredibles, so I am glad that I watched this one. The loss that the old man feels is genuine, but the joy he finds in an unlikely friend is truly touching.

2.Star Trek
I have never been the biggest Star Trek fan. The Next Generation was good at the time, but going back it doesn't hold up to well (the bridge looks more like a living room than a military vessel). However, this movie is a stroke of brilliance. It both revitalizes the concept AND honors everything that came before it. Plus they made Star Trek better by using the plot of Star Wars:

I wrote a review of this movie back when I watched it. It may be the perfect Zombie movie. It is 100% fun to watch and without a doubt the best movie I watched this year.