Weekly Recap

My week was more than just the weekend. Lots of cool stuff.

Work – my boss got back from holiday and my stress went way down. Last week was smooth. And we finished a major milestone. One we’ve been working on since October.

Treek visited. He was just passing through. So busy he missed the weekend with the rest of us. He was on his bike. A Yamaha vstar – not that that means anything to me. We had dinner at the Keg. It was delicious. I’m a man of simple bacon wrapped,blue cheese coated tastes. He seems to be doing well.

I had shoe issues. Earlier this year I bought shoes. Very nice new shoes. But I was worried about standing and walking in them so I hadn’t tried them out. With the Treekster around it seemed like a good opportunity. The good news was I walk much easier in them. The bad is that I couldn’t stand up from my scooter or my desk. So useless. I’m a bit worried. They have a slightly  thicker sole. That makes it harder but it isn’t a big difference.The heel also isn’t unevenly worn. I can get a shoe with a thinner sole. But not with a weirdly worn heel. Heck, fixing that was what I was looking forward to most.

They’ll go back and I’ll try again.

Finally my aunt Fran visited. She looks really good. I thought we had a nice visit while Mom fussed around in the background. It was the highlight of a pretty darn nifty week!

 

 

GGW Recap

The highlight game was a round of Fury of Dracula.  It spread over Saturday night, Sunday morning and early Sunday afternoon.  I was Dracula.  I had both astounding luck and poor luck.  The poor luck was in completing the game goals of spawning vampires.  The good luck was in evading the hunters for a long, long time.

I played an aggressive game.  When given the opportunity to run, I instead moved to where I could confound my foes.  The result was I caused the hunters a lot of damage, but didn’t manage to finish any of them.  I changed strategies in the morning and ran again, but in the afternoon changed back.  That was when my good luck ended.  They final cornered me and staked me.  I lived four whole days game time which should be enough to win, but I didn’t mature a spawn in all that time.

Not all the games were so gory.  I brought two new games that i wanted to try.  The first was The Resistance.  It went over like a lead balloon.  We only gave it a single round because it just didn’t work for the group.  we played with 8 players.  I think I read somewhere that 8 is the weakest number for the game, but even I didn’t want to try with a different number.  It is short so I will do some research and confirm my suspicion.  If 5 works better, for instance, I might pull it out for another go some Friday.

The second game was Eclipse.  It qualifies as a BIG game.  With explanation it took four hours or so.  It went very well.  I really enjoyed myself and want to play again.  The play time can be drastically reduced I think.  I lost.

The only game I did win all weekend was a game of Galaxy Trucker.  That game was pulled out twice.  Once I played and once I didn’t.  The time I played I kicked butt in the third round when Dave made a crucial mistake.  My ship was a mess crossing the finish line, but it was worth a pile of points.

We played two more cooperatives: Space Alert and Pandemic.  Pandemic remains one of my favourite games, but this time it kicked out butts.  So did Space Alert.  Three rounds of each were fairly demoralizing.  But still fun.

We rounded off the event with Munchkin on the first night.  Surprisingly I had a lot of fun considering that normally I quite dislike the game.  I think the alcohol helps.

There were several other games I didn’t play – Runebound was played.  We played only a single BIG game.  That might be my only regret, but each one of those takes a lot out of you.  The drawback of those games is that the Guys Weekend is the only time playing them is a realistic option since they take so long to complete.  Other than that small regret and wishing I had won at least one other game are my only gaming regrets of the weekend.

Our found was uninspired this weekend.  The big meals being donairs and burgers.  My favourite meal was the last – Dave made some awesome scrambled eggs.  My second favourite meal was the restaurant – I had a waffle hollandaise.  Poached eggs and crumbled bacon on top of a waffle drizzled in hollandaise sauce.  It was delicious, but didn’t come from our hands.  Not that I’m complaining.  The fancy meals take a long time and a lot of effort goes into them by the chefs.  I don’t help at all.  So having folks around is cool.

Not helping is getting a bit old.  I was more dependant than ever on help.  Last year was the first year I needed help for all the standing.  This year i also needed some help dressing and my initial positioning in bed.  Grr.  I don’t mind having to ask for help.  At least not much.  But being a burden and having no independence is a drag.  The guys also helped with the hill which I really appreciated.  I love that weekend, but getting home and being able to take care of myself – at least to the extent I still can – was pretty awesome.

Everyone there helped.  There isn’t a way to say how much I appreciate that.  Thank you.

The real low point for me was the mass though.  It seems the parishes around Boyle are in trouble financially.  Knowing that was a bummer.  The mass itself was pretty nifty.

There was also alcohol – to get back in the good column.  We got the amount pretty much right.  Tim’s grog was great.  Tasted good – really good.  There were beergaritas.  And there was normal beer.  We also had enough water around that I woke up relatively hangoverless each night.

There isn’t a big story from this weekend though.  since the biggest story last year was a barely averted tragedy that is good, but no one did anything truly ridiculous either.  I’ll miss having a tale to tell at work tomorrow though.

None of the above really mentions the people though.  They were all uniformly awesome and a pleasure to hang out with for a few days.  Now that I’ve had a day to recover, I’m looking forward to next year already.

 

Musical Interlude

Her greatest song…

Hey, Daddy, there’s a dragon in the driveway.
Momma, there’s a grizzly on the lawn.
You better come quick-there’s a hippo in the bathtub,
And it’s going down the drain. Oh, no! it’s gone.

Well, the minds of little children,
They go round and round and round,
Hearing giant’s footsteps,
When I never hear a sound.

I just hear:
Hey, Daddy, there’s a dragon in the driveway.
Momma, there’s a grizzly on the lawn.
You better come quick-there’s a hippo in the bathtub,
And it’s going down the drain. Oh, no! it’s gone.

Well, you never know if they really saw
All the things they have you believe.
But if there’s dragons in this neighborhood
Then we’re going to leave.

Hey, Daddy, there’s a dragon in the driveway.
Momma, there’s a grizzly on the lawn.
You better come quick-there’s a hippo in the bathtub,
And it’s going down the drain. Oh, no! it’s gone.

And it’s going down the drain. Oh, no! it’s gone.

Performed by Anne Murray

“Hey Daddy”

Lyrics by Bob Ruzicka

Weekly Recap

I’m sorry blog.  I’ve been neglecting you.  Last Thursday I did the movie thing.  Yesterday I did the dinner at Mom’s thing.  Saturday and Sunday I did the as little as possible thing.

However if we aren’t considering my blog’s feelings, those three events were all pretty good.

I had Friday off.  That was good.

I read two books.  At Home – by Bill Bryson.  The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby.  I quite recommend the second.  I hesitantly recommend the first.  At Home is non-fiction with the premise that in moving through the rooms of his Victorian era house, he can trace the modern history of the world.  Building materials, the evolution of rooms in the home, the nature of service, and other facts.  The Woefield Poultry Collection is a humour fiction book about a New Yorker that moves to Vancouver island to start an organic vegetable farm. She is only slightly less clueless than the farm hands she hires.

That is the week.

The Dark Knight Rises – A review

It is weird to consider talking just about the movie considering the tragedy that occurred during a screening last night in Colorado.  I’m going to do just that, but specifying that in praising the film I in noway indemnify the actions of the gunman and I feel sympathy for the victims of the crime.

The movie is too long.  It has some stupendously silly moments.  The climactic battle between Bane and Batman doesn’t work – (although that isn’t the end of the long movie climax).  Bruce Wayne’s journey (character arc) is not great (although it has moments).

These are the flaws of the movie that I saw.  They are big flaws.  Some of the silly moments launched me right out of the movie and I have a high ability to suspend my disbelief.

But I really enjoyed this movie.  Enjoyed is a good word.  It is a dark show, but the lightest of the Batmans in the trilogy.  Oddly many of the scenes occur during the daylight.

Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were the highlights of the movie.  Hathaway played Selina Kyle and captivated during her time onscreen.  Her early scenes are the best during which she is able to verbally fence with Wayne.  The later scenes don’t allow for as much leeway since the demands of the action had to be met, but the reward was the vision of Hathaway in the Catwoman costume.  Some guys behind me made some admiring comments when it first appeared.  Comments I thought were crass, but still very true.

Gordon-Levitt is the centre of the movie.  While not a critical standout role, he touches on every character and scene.  He likely also has the most satisfying character arc in the piece.

It is almost impossible to talk about the plot without spoilers.  Here is the setup.  It is 8 years since the end of the Dark Knight.  Gotham is peaceful.  Bruce Wayne is a recluse – tormented by the deaths of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes.  Batman has retired.  But under the peaceful city, Bane is acting and assembling an army with a new nefarious plan to plague Gotham.

Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman get good bits in their roles of Alfred and Fox.  Thomas Hardy as Bane has a menacing physicality that works, but the voice acting must almost be called bizarre.  It isn’t ineffective, but it is a jarring non-sequitur.  Gary Oldman has a lot to do as Commissioner Gordon, but you’ve seen him do these things in the previous movies.  Marion Cotillard is the final main cast member .  Her role as Miranda Tate is largely underwritten.

But it is a superhero movie.  A Batman movie.  The action is stupendous.  The Batman gadgets are just nifty.  And the suspense continues through the whole picture.  The movie certainly lags a bit during moments of its 2 hour 44 minute running time, but I always felt on the edge of my seat.

There are fights, explosions, chases, heroics and villainy.  The plot behind the show is mostly solid.  The silly moments undercut it unfortunately and sometimes you think you spot plot holes.  But most of those are on purpose.  The is no performance to equal Heath Ledger’s Joker, but the movie doesn’t need it.

The final act of the trilogy is builds on the previous movies.  Going back and rewatching Batman Begins in particular will prove rewarding.

I really liked this movie.

Eclipse – My new board game

This could be long.

Intro

Eclipse is a new board game I have. It is for 2-6 players and the running time is about 30 minutes/player. It is a sci-fi 4x (def’n to follow) game that ostensibly mixes traditional Euro gameplay with an American board game style theme.

The big American style elements are the sci-fi 4x theme, direct player-to-player combat, variable player roles and movement. The Euro style elements are an underlying economic engine, an action economy, and the victory conditions. The analogy breaks down since there really isn’t a clean divide between game styles.

4x – Exploration, Expansion, Exploitation and Extermination. This was a popular theme in many video games from Civilization to MOO. In board games the best example is Twilight Imperium, but that is a game firmly in the American style camp. (In talking about Eclipse I’m going to refer back to the 4x’s a lot. I’ll also add advancement and trade to the mix.)

You play a race that was once part of a giant peaceful galactic federation. Now that has broken down. It is every race for themselves and elements of the federation and even more ancient prizes lie out to be discovered.

Winning

You play 9 rounds. At the end of the 9th round, the player with the most victory points wins. Very Euro.

You earn victory points by working towards the 4x goals:

Exploration: No direct VPs, but essential to many other tracks.
Expand: VPs per space you control, VPs per Discovery made and kept
Exploit: VPs for specially built structures
Extermination: VPs for being in combat, more for winning. Negative VPs for breaking trade relations.
Trade: VPs for setting up trade.
Advancement: VPs for excelling at technology acquisition

Trade and Extermination are mutually limiting. Your total VPs earned in this set must be no more than a set amount. (e.g. 5 combat elements or 5 trade elements or 3 combat and 2 trade, etc).

Game Board

Discovered space is hexes. Undiscovered space is empty table. Each hex contains a spot to mark who controls it (Expansion), its VP value for control, resources within that can be Exploited, additional one time bonuses for first expansion into the space, and potentially enemy ships.

The hexes also contain controls to show adjacency to other hexes. (wormholes). Simply being beside another hex isn’t enough to allow them to be adjacent, the wormholes must also line up.

At the start of the game there is only one discovered hex per player plus one central hex around which they are deployed.

Actions

The Eclipse turn happens in four phases. The last two are upkeep and cleanup. I’ll get to those later. The 2nd is combat. I’ll get to that later. The first is actions.

There are 6 actions in Eclipse and 2 pseudo-actions. Each time is is a players action (I’ll do action economy later) they do one action and may optionally to one of both pseudo-actions.

Explore: Reveal an unexplored area of space. Put all the neat stuff on it. (Correlates to the 4x Explore idea). If the area is open, you may immediately Expand into it as well.
Influence: Manage the action economy. Also plays into the Expansion idea.
Research: Learn a new technology. Basically this supports Advancement, but also plays a role in Extermination since it contains many combat improvements.
Upgrade: Improve your ships. Extermination or Resisting Extermination. Moving faster can also aid Exploration.
Build: Build Ships (Extermination), Orbital stations (Exploitation) or Monoliths (Exploitation)
Move: Move your ships. Required for Exploration, Expansion and Extermination.

Pseudo Actions:
Colonize: Move population to controlled areas. (Exploitation)
Diplomatic Relations: Establish Trade.

The Player Board and the Action Economy

Lots of the game is played in front of each player on their player board. There is a section to track your trade relations and VPs won through combat. There is a section to track your tech acquisitions. There is a section to build your spaceships on.

Then there is the storage track, the three population tracks and the influence track. These interrelate with the game board to form the action economy.

There are three population tracks. Initially they are filled with cubes. As you colonize (Exploit) the board, you move cubes onto the game board. The more cubes you move from a track the more you earn of the related resource. Getting each track as empty as possible is good, but that would be tough, so you will focus on emptying the tracks that fit your strategy.

The tracks are materials (used to build spaceships, monoliths and orbitals), science (used to acquire technology), and money (used to pay upkeep in the upkeep phase). In the upkeep phase you earn an amount according to how empty the track is and show that on your storage bank. When you build, research or pay upkeep you empty your storage bank by the appropriate amount. (I’m fudging the details here so this isn’t quite correct.)

The more resources in your storage bank the better. So neither the population tracks or the storage bank are really managed, but the influence track is.

The influence track also starts full. Every disk you remove increases the amount of upkeep you need to pay based on money earned on your money population track. So removing disks means that first you need to build up the appropriate infrastructure.

Disks are removed for two reasons. Each hex you control (Expand) takes a disk. Plus every action you take in a turn uses up a disk that turn. So you can always take as many actions as you like, but you need to be able to support the total used disks through both Expansion and actions in a turn.

Combat

OK. So when ships belonging to two people are in the same hex they fight. It is too complicated to explain here. But you roll dice and it generates hits and enough hits blows up a ship.

Ships come in four sizes – small and fast, medium, big and slow, and starbase (big and immobile). You build ships with the build action. You move them with the move action. You earn improvements to your ships with the research action. You put those improvements into effect with the upgrade action. A large number of the six actions can be used to support combat.

But combat isn’t strictly necessary. You could play defensively or with a lot of trade. But you’ll still need ships to not make yourself a target.

At the end of combat you get random tokens for being in the battle and destroying other ships (whether you win or lose). Each token as a VP value on it. You get to keep only one of the token you earn.

(I realized that I really short changed this area. Combat in Eclipse looks cool. Ship building looks tres cool. I’m eager to try that out.)

End

And that is that.

Meeting Minutes

As the only attendee at the management IT meeting tomorrow I promised to attend and take detailed notes.  I’ve composed them ahead of time:

Management IT Meeting

July 18th, 2012
Present: Todd
Absent: Everyone else

Trivia: What is the origin of the word trivia?

– The common usage only originated in the 20th century.  Its origin is from the Latin trivium meaning meeting of three ways/roads.  It referred to the basic knowledge taught to romans; being the disciplines of rhetoric, grammar and logic.  Three subjects that are not commonly taught today at all and are solely lacking by being replaced with an ever increasing fount of trivia.  (See I tricked you and used the common usage at the end of that sentence.)

Director’s Report

In the absence of any director’s I’ll give the director’s report.

Action: Please note in the minutes the awesomeness of Todd.

Report on Project X: I haven’t actually seen Project X yet.  It looks a bit silly to me.  I did see The Artist the other day though.  Pretty good movie.  Deserving of acclaim.  But I didn’t think it was all that.  I would have given the acclaim, but held off on some of the accolades.  It had a chauffeur and a dog though.  How can you go really wrong if you include a chauffeur and a dog?

Manager’s Report

In the absence of any managers, I’ll give the manager’s report

Action: In light of Todd’s aforementioned awesomeness, I’d like to recommend Todd for some accolades.  And a cash bonus.  And a Porsche.

Recent News: Actually, I’ll just talk about the Newsroom here.  The show is surprising me about being far less about the news and more about the relationships between the cast members.  I may need to revise some of my earlier comments made in regards to what I thought it was in light of what it is turning out to be.  The latest episode was incredible.  It was taut, funny, and emotionally evocative.  This show makes you want to yell at the screen, “Why are you doing that?!”  But the characters are mostly self-aware enough to realize their own foibles.  It is dynamite.

Team Lead report

This week we’ve been solidifying our environment, dealing with crisis, learning of the impending departure of one of our founding fathers and generally being busy as snot.  I am exhausted.

That is not aided by my fire alarm going off at 4:09 am this morning.  My top speed, even when under impending threat of death, is snail like.  I put on a shirt.  Grabbed my walker (with a pile of comics), my phone, and went and put shoes and socks on my waker as well.  In the urgency, I made the decision that I would go without pants as my bed clothes were quite modest.

It doesn’t seem quite as modest when you are standing in your hall at 4:20 am reading a comic while wearing no pants.  The fire fighters came and turned off the alarm.  But it wouldn’t clear properly so they had to disable it.  It seems to be fixed again tonight, but probably just with duct tape and bailing twine.

Getting back into my suite shortly before 4:45 am, I made the decision not to return to bed for the next 30 minutes.  As a result I am tired.

Round Table

Any additional comments?  None?

Next meeting, July 25th.  Meeting adjourned.