Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Photographic Toy

As I've mentioned a time or two before, I really only have two hobbies - gaming and photography.

And I'm blessed - they are two hobbies that work well together. Really well.  To the point that I can justify spending more money on camera gear because it makes this blog more entertaining. And my wife lets me get away with this justification.

A few days ago, I got a new photographic tool.

Okay.  I lied.

I got a new toy that happens to take photos.

It's called a Lytro.  Those of you who know photography and have been paying attention will know exactly what I'm on about, now.  Those of you who don't should check this out:

Click anywhere on the above image. I'm sorry if you're reading via Kindle or RSS - it won't process in either place (last I checked), but if you click through, I think you'll find that it's fascinating.

So expect to see a few of these images here and there.  I'll try not to make them the focus of the post, as I know a few of you are reading via Kindle or RSS.  And by "A few," I mean "Just over 100" which, by the way, is a little intimidating at times.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Perfect" Games

Over the weekend, some friends and I were talking about movies - we do this fairly often. Because we are social geeks who spend a great deal of time together.

The subject of "Perfect Films" came up.  A Perfect Film, by our definition, is a film which does exactly what it intended to do, without tripping over itself. A Perfect Film is not necessarily a good film, by the way.  There are plenty of terrible films which were perfect.

The Expendables, for example. It was not a good movie.  In fact, it was terrible.  The plot was thin, the characters had about as much depth as most D&D characters, and so on.  It was basically an excuse to get a bunch of over-the-hill action stars together to blow things up.

I saw it in theaters, and walked out with a big smile on my face. Because it was fun. It did exactly what it was intended to do. On my way in, I wasn't expecting Hamlet.

The discussion got me thinking - are there games out there which are perfect?  I'm sure there are.

For me, a Perfect Game is a game should be well-balanced and doesn't have That One Flaw That Brings It Crashing Down (okay, the link is, perhaps, not the best for this, but it's still worth reading).

I love Eclipse, for example. It's an excellent game. It's very good, and very well-balanced. But it breaks down, for me, when Plasma Missiles come into play.  They're not broken, but they definitely require more thought/discussion than any of the tech advances. For me, Eclipse is a Plasma Missile away from being a Perfect Game.

Chess is very nearly a perfect game. Were it not for the (admittedly slight) First Player Advantage issue, I'd probably include it.

Sorry Sliders is, for me, a perfect game.  Seriously. It's fun, there's no theme to get in the way, and the rules are clear and simple. Given that I'm not a fan of Dexterity Games, that's a huge admission.

Shitenno is a perfect game. Your decisions are meaningful, and every turn is a challenge. But it keeps moving - the game doesn't bog down very often.

Dungeon Twister is close.  Very very close.  The Goblin and Treasure lead to wild potential scoring swings, and, over the years, this has finally started to bother me a little bit.  Dungeon Twister: Prison, however, is a perfect game. Mark this date on your calendars, by the way: This is the first time I've said something even vaguely less-than-positive about DT.

Sabotage has been one of my favorites since I was in Junior High. It's an abstract strategy game in which the first player doesn't necessarily have an advantage.

We Didn't Playtest This At All is also brilliant and perfect.  It's the only filler game I have that takes longer to explain than to play.  There isn't One Broken Rule - every rule in the game is badly broken.  Deliberately. Asmadi also publishes Win, Lose, or Banana - the best $1 game you will ever play.

So what games do you find perfect and why?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spam Lottery + Housecleaning

In December of 2010, I wrote a year-end wrapup post that appears to have won the Spammer Buzzword Bingo Prize, because I am averaging three spam comments per day on it, lately.

Seriously.  It's kinda terrifying, actually.

I knew that eventually the spammers would notice my blog - it's why comment moderation is on (and has been since the beginning). It's just odd to me that I'm attracting so many comments on a two-year-old post.

I figured now would be a good time to do a bit of housecleaning and clarify a few things about this blog that most of you are probably already aware of, but it never hurts to be crystal-clear on.

If it's not a spam comment, I'll let it through.  Unless you are offensive.  I don't draw a lot of comments here, but I don't filter or censor for content provided you (in my judgement) are adding to the conversation. I think I've only ever had to delete one comment.

Link Exchanages
I don't do them.  There's just too much potential for spam - I don't want to unwittingly link any of you to spam, even if the site looks legitimate on the first glance.

Guest Posts
I'm open to hosting guest posts, provided you're not a blatant spammer.  I won't give you posting access, though.  Instead, I'll cut-and-paste your post and type a paragraph or two about you and thank you for your post.

Paid Reviews
I don't do 'em.  If you give me product, I'll review it. If you send me download links for product, I won't download products that I won't review. But my review will be honest - I don't like everything, you know. And I'll try to get the reviews up in a timely manner, but Real Life sometimes intervenes.

Linking Back To Me
I always laugh at sites which insist that you need permission to link to them.  Feel free to link to my site.  You can even quote me - just please don't cut-and-paste full posts for your blog or page. And credit is, of course, always appreciated.

Images and Videos
Most of the images I use on my blog are my images, but a few of them are provided by publishers. Before you re-use an image from this site, please check with me first. If it's my image, I'll usually grant permission (most of my Flickr photos are released under a Creative Commons license, anyhow).  If it's not my image, it should either be CC licensed or I have permission to use it - either way, do your homework and don't just link it.


And that about sums it up.

I'll be back next week with more game content.  Promise.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


A few days ago, I received a message from a friend asking what I thought of this year's Essen Crop of games.


Essen?  Did I somehow miss it this year?

Apparently, I was so wrapped up in last-minute Essen projects that I missed noticing the fair itself.  And apparently a few of the projects I worked on didn't make it for one reason or another - which is sad.

So what did I work on that was at Essen this year?

An ant-themed Ystari game.  I only learned today that Asmodee wasn't doing the North American distribution for this one - it's a Rio Grande game, with Ystari publishing. It has a lot of good early buzz, and I liked the game based on the rules.  This is the second Rio Grande project I've done - and the second time I didn't know it was a Rio Grande project.

I was really excited about this one. My wife loves Egyptian-themed anything, and this ... well, it fits the bill. It helps that the rules are pretty solid and the initial translation only had a few oddities.  I am really looking forward to my copy.  Matagot is publishing and Asmodee is distributing in North America.

The latest from Christophe Boelinger.  I don't know if he's done a game that I've disliked, yet. With the possible exception of Fantasy Business.  This was an interesting project to work on, because they e-mailed me a Word document to tweak - and it was too large for me to e-mail back. And it needed to be done in a hurry.  Ludically is publishing and Asmodee is distributing in North America.

Room 25
Of all of the Essen games, this is - honestly - the one I'm most excited about, after having read the rules.  It's simple (rules-wise), and has some interesting decisions to make. And the fact that there are so many different modes of play ... If you haven't seen or heard about this one, look into it.  The rules are already up in a couple of different places. Matagot is publishing and Asmodee will be distributing in North America.

City of Horror
I talked about this one a few weeks ago - and I'm going to echo myself, here, but Repos did an excellent job with this one. It fixed many of the issues I had with Mall of Horror at the cost of ... well, not much, really.  Cardboard standups instead of minis.  Repos Prod. is publishing and Asmodee is distributing in North America.

River Dragons
It's a new edition of Dragon Delta. I'm not sure why they changed the name. I enjoyed Dragon Delta the few times I had the opportunity to play it, and I'm really looking forward to owning a copy of this one in the near future.  Matagot is publishing and Asmodee is distributing in North America.

I know this had some availability prior to Essen, but it's really good. At first, I thought this one was a bit of a mess - dice and cards and counters and ... and ...  but it's good. Really really good.  Libellud is publishing and Asmodee is distributing this one.

Mythic Battles
I really like this two-player card/board battle game. It was mostly available before Essen, however, so I debated whether or not to include it on this list.  This one earned a spot in my car pretty quickly.  Iello is both publishing and distributing this one.

It's a really strong crop of games. It's also the most Essen-ish games I've worked on yet, and they all reached me at about the same time. As usual, I'll be watching the rules forums on these games pretty closely (once my copies arrive) so I can help fix any mistakes I made. But I'm oddly confident about this batch.

As usual, thank you to all of the various publishers and designers who trust me with your work. I appreciate the opportunities.