Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Reflection

I am writing this on my phone while in line at Target on black Friday.  Technically, it is Thursday, Thanksgiving, and that makes this even more relevant

I saw a woman dying tonight.  When I went through the line the ambulances were already there.  When I walked by the scene the paramedics were doing chest compressions.  The tone of the paramedics were sounding fairly desperate, and one of them had just grabbed the defibrillator.  It did not look good.  

Her family was nearby the grief was obvious and the anguish audible.   Hundreds of people walked by, me included.  Some stood at a distance watching the scene unfold.  Others rushed by clearly annoyed by the unconvinced.  No one, me included, did anything.  What could I do? What do you say to a stranger who's mom hovers between life and death?  I prayed.  I prayed for the woman, for the family, and for the paramedics.  I did nothing else.

I left the scene behind, and entered the typical black Friday madness.  It was full of thick crowds, pushing in tight spaces, and feeding frenzies around the good deals.  It was what we have come to expect.  It was rampant, self centered materialism in its greatest expression.  How many deal hunters were oblivious that just yards away hearts were breaking and people were crying from the bottom of their souls.  

I am writing this because the image haunts me and I can not let it go.  I know it is cliche to say it at this point, but it puts things in perspective.  It is funny how easily we loose perspective.  The family of this woman did not expect her to collapse tonight.  I am guessing that if she did not survive her family would not have chosen standing in line at Target as the way they spend their last moments together.  

Life may be to short to spend it in lines that wrap around the store.  There is a lot more to life than getting stuff, and really material possessions are some of the least important things in life.  

What makes tonight really be put into perspective is that today is still Thanksgiving.  Today should be about giving thanks for the blessings we already have, and treasuring the  important people in our lives.  This day should not be a pre-shopping meal but a full day of gratitude.  It may be a small change, but tonight is the last day that I do this on Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks and spending time with family is more important than getting a good deal, no matter how good it is. 

I pray the woman is ok, and I hope my memories of tonight will help keep my own acquisition order in check.  Hopefully my perspective stays rightly focused.  For tonight, I know once I finally leave this store I will be going home, kissing my wife, and hugging my son.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why it's my Favorite: Small World


Game Overview
In Small World players will use a combination of races to take over territory, and get points for each territory they control.  On the first turn, each player will choose a race.  Each race has a special power, and then a modifier power.  The modifier power is randomly assigned each game.  So one game, I might have Dragon Riding Elves and the next game I might have Swamp Elves.  When choosing a race each player will always have five races to choose form.  The first race is free to take, but if they want to skip past that they must put one point on each race they want to skip until they get to the race they want.  Later on, if someone takes a skipped race they get all of the points on it.  Each race and modifier will list a number and when those numbers are added together one will know how many units they get.  Often the total is between 9 and 11.  This is all of the units a player will have to use while this race is active.

Once a player has a race they can begin taking of territory.  Each territory takes two units as a base cost.  If there is another piece of cardboard in the territory (mountain, enemy unit, etc) then it takes one additional unit to take the territory.  It is possible that a player will end up with some extra units they can not use to conquer any available territory.  The last territory a player tries to take, the can roll a die.  Three sides are blank and the other three sides have 1,2, and 3 on them.  It is possible for a player to roll the difference needed to take this final territory, and if they are successful they get the territory.

One a player is done taking territory for a turn they can redeploy their forces to protect certain areas, and then they collect one point for each territory they control.  On subsequent turns, the player can take the excess units they have (the units they have with still leaving one unit behind in each territory) and then continue to conquer on the future turns.  Since the number of units is limited, a player will eventually get to spread out to continue conquering.  Eventually a player will have to go in decline.  This takes an entire turn, all excess units are lost, as are most special abilities.  Players still collect points for in decline races.  On their next turn, a player can pick a new race and begin conquering again with their new active race.  At the end of this turn a player will collect points for their active race and their declined race.

Games last 8-10 turns depending on the number of players.  There is a different board for the number of players, and with the amount of active and declined races that end up on the board it does feel like a small world.  Whoever scores the most points by the end of the game is the winner.

This is a basic overview of the rules, but it is worth noting that there is at least one special power either native to a race or one of the modifier powers that completely breaks just about all of the rules.

Why I Love This Game
I got this game game in 2009, very quickly after playing it.  This game is so much fun to play.  What makes this game so much fun is how much variety there this game provides.  Every time I play the game it is completely different.  I love that every time the game is played the races available are radically different.  The way these races combine and interact with each other is what makes the game so fun.
  The stories that emerge from this game are very engaging.  For example, one game might see the Were-Leprechauns fight with the dragon fighting humans, and the next game will have Swamp Ratmen fight Flying Trolls.  The games can be kind of deterministic, but there is an expansion that adds random events to each turn, and that really mixes it up.  This is a game that I can play again and again without ever getting tired of it, and that is why it is one of my favorite games.