Summer Vacation Nearing The End

School for the children is soon and I am looking forward to them going back to school. I say that now and I know that a few months after Christmas I will once again complain that the children are not getting enough time to be children and play games with the family. However, that being said, right now I am close to being very over summer vacation.

I figured once I graduated I would have all the time in the world to write and in a way I do. Unless you count the children who have a very nasty and irritating habit of interrupting my writing time, unless I am working on a blog such as this one. Seems they no problem letting me write about them, parenting, games, and life. But the second I even think about writing Puddles and Whiskers or anything that requires thought and potential they have something that needs my attention or a distraction or…fuck all just being kids.

Any guess what time of day or night I write Puddles and Whiskers? Your guess and the actual time may explain a few things about Puddles and Whiskers drafts that appear here. I’ll wait while you guess…

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Who said 1am?

Anyone?

If you guessed 1am you are correct and you have an idea why sometimes Puddles and Whiskers was written by a very tired individual. Unfortunately that is my time to write anything serious while they are on summer vacation and I have had about enough.

Other than the writing, fighting, work ethic (currently our boy only, hopefully not infectious), and general inability to entertain themselves as much as I would like I love having the kids home. The amount of fun we have had between the above list 🙂 is staggering. Summer vacation, at least this one, has been busy doing stuff we as a family have not been able to do for over a decade and watching them grow is amazing.

When we first moved in, late last August, we got to see a hint of what they would do with almost 2 acres. This summer more bike riding, more running around, toss in a sprinkler-the fun they have had with spraying water was worth the price of the sprinkler-attempting to fly kites, attempting to fly a drone, driving a remote controlled truck, disc golf, frisbee (NOT disc golf as our girl routinely “yells” at me), discovering what is at the center of a golf ball, the various bugs, bird feeder, chipmunks, and everything else not on the list.

They took to outside and have not looked back, for the most part. Until last year they never had a yard to do anything in and right after we moved in they went to school, thus play time outside very limited. Which why other than my very small list of complaints and who doesn’t like to read the adventures of two cats written by someone at 1 am this summer vacation has been one of the best times of this parent’s life.

Blame the Slimes

Well look at the time…

I got distracted ranching slimes.

Take a moment.

Yes, you read that right.

Normally video games are a play for a bit then move onto something else kind of affair for me. Typically an hour or less of play then I get bored. Once bored I move onto writing or painting.

I didn’t get bored. Slime Rancher is a bright, engaging farming game where you use your space vacuum to capture different colored and types of slimes. Put them into pens, feed them, and collect their plort (poop) for money. Different types of plort equals different amounts of money based on the universal plort (poop) stock market.

Even better there are upgrades for your character, your space vacuum, pens, and land. Most of the slimes have a favorite type of food; food that you can grow from fruit to chickens. Did you know that if a slime eats the plort from a different type of slime that slime gains the characteristics of the other slime: Example: a pink slime eats the plort of a rock slime becoming a pink rock slime with the characteristics of both.

Are there bad slimes? Yes, if a slime eats plort from too many different slimes, I think three, the slime turns into a tar slime that eats other slimes and you. If a tar slime forms at your ranch, it will eat the slimes in your pens. Speaking of pens, the various slimes need to be fed regularly, have their pen cleaned of plort, and some music helps. Slimes express their mood with big smiles, small smiles, and the cute but warning sign of unhappy slimes that may do something…no clue what yet, I fed my unhappy slimes as soon as our girl pointed out they were not happy.

All in all a very enjoyable few hours. With my limited play time I have seen far from everything, but I saw enough to keep me playing long enough that this blog is late. And if this blog is late (noon remember) I am behind on a few other things, but since the people around me say I don’t know how to relax I’ll take a few hours of slime ranching as a sign that I do. 🙂

A Tidal Wave Of Green Plastic

Finally, our game table is seeing Warhammer 40k as we had intended since day one. The purchase of the Open War deck changed play as we hoped for the better. Typically someone divides the table in two, terrain is set up, and what follows is the classic fight until one side is destroyed. We were tired of this and set up using the scenarios in the rulebook border on the annoying.

With the Open War deck we pulled some cards and immediately began playing. First card determined deployment zones, in our case the table was split in half. Two cards for objectives, one for each of us. I drew victory through defeating his leaders and vehicles. Our boy drew victory thought capturing objectives. He did not tell me that both us could earn points towards victory with those objectives. Oh well. Finally each of us drew a Twist card. Mine allowed my units to move 2″ extra and 1″ extra when charging or advancing. Normally a great thing, extra mobility. He drew, all of his units gained 1 extra attack. Meaning his normally meat grinder of units became super meat grinders. Moving faster towards them not what I wanted to do.

Then we pulled out the models and set up. A solid wall of green miniatures. That was his army. A truck, a tank, a plane, and a dreadnaught breaking up the wall. Not much of a break up as the truck and tank were carrying more models. Ugh. Remember I did not know what his objective was and he did not know mine.

First turn, I moved into a defensive position occupying the center of the table. The extra move from the Twist card came in handy. Only odd move of mine, moving my dreadnaught and two commanders to take out his dreadnaught and big mek (ork scientist) with huge scary looking gun on my flank.

His plane flew over the battlefield. His truck and tank charged forward leaving every other ork in the dust. His wall of green…try to imagine 100 people trying to fit through one door…that is what happened. He set up his figures with little room for movement and then failed to move his forward units faster than the rear units. Funny and scary because they would become unstuck if I didn’t do something.

Second turn, I disembarked my five-man squads from the razorbacks, moved my assault squad over to his side of the board, and dropped a terminator squad onto the middle of the table. His truck died, his burna squad (orks with flamethrowers) died, and his stormboys died on my turn.

His turn saw…well it’s hard to describe, the entire wall of green shifted to the right for no reason I could discern. This left his dreadnaught and tank isolated without support. He did kill off my assault squad, kill a terminator, and have me scratching my head.

Third turn, his dreadnaught, tank, and most of the nobz inside died. His warboss went down under the combined firepower of my remaining terminators, and his screen of grots died. This left him with a huge number of orks, but nothing else.

He conceded to me at the start of his turn. He figured he would finish off my last five man squad and some of the terminators, but lose many of his orks in return leaving the rest to get mopped up by my two tanks, dreadnaught, and characters.

After the match we talked, he acknowledged his setup was bad which hampered his ability to get his whole army into the fight. What parts he did were devastating to my army. As for the shift to the right, he was attempting to cover an objective for the victory points.

Next up our girl and her pink army.

Pandemic Legacy

We are late to Pandemic Legacy, hell legacy games as a whole. Given that the first legacy game we saw was Risk, what was all the fuss was our thought. Pandemic…oh wait a sec, what is a legacy game you might be asking yourself. A legacy game is a game that “remembers” what happened the last time you played. A legacy game keeps track of whether you won or lost and win or lose something is different for the next game.

For example: win a game, the next game get X bonus whatever or lose a game, the next game start with fewer whatevers.

Pandemic the non-legacy version is a game that we played a lot. Eventually fading to the rear as we figured out how to win. Pandemic Legacy didn’t sound that different so why bother? We should have bothered.

Pandemic Legacy plays like Pandemic, as part of a research team you and the other players race around the globe attempting to cure four diseases before one or more of them wipe out humanity. The Legacy aspect doesn’t take effect until the early middle of the first game.

There are a lot of blank spaces on the board and in the rule book. You will fill in some of them with stickers. Stickers such as the changing status of a city, a new rule in the rule book, an up or downgrade to a character, or something else we haven’t seen yet. Each of these stickers alters how the game plays and how future games will play.

For example: while we lost our first game we did manage to eradicate the blue disease, this allowed us to modify how easy it was to cure the blue disease in future games.

So far in our games, we have played three-January twice (lost both times), February once (we won)-our board is festooned with stickers, our rule book has a sticker, and we have much to our initial shock torn up cards. Yes, torn up cards. Modification is something new to get used too.

I take very good care of our games. They are packed away carefully, parts counted, and I do my best to ensure the games last a long time. I do not tear up cards or put stickers on games. Or I didn’t. Pandemic Legacy demands you tear up a card rather early and I admit to seriously questioning the merit and value of doing so. We did and the game has been great ever since.

So you might be wondering, what is the replay value of a game that is modified during and after and sometime before each game. Replay value is high. Normally a game that kicked our collective butts as hard as Pandemic Legacy did the first two games would be in the “Maybe later pile,” however even after a loss we got stuff. More resources for the next game, new cards, new victory conditions. After our win, more stuff.

While the board is forever modified, there is the next game to look forward too. What I haven’t mentioned is that the victory conditions also change as you win and lose. The game is played out in months, each month one game, for our three games we knew we had to cure the diseases. Now we know there is an additional condition, but we won’t know what it is until we set up our next game. Talk about getting you to want to play.

One Pink Tank = Kick Ass!

The second game of Warhammer 40k went great. Our girl has wanted to play since we started playing with the older rules. She patiently waited for the new rules while painting her first tank and some Imperial Guardsmen. Our boy wanted to play a second game and I thought I would stay on the sidelines and teach. They didn’t have any of that, thus for our second game I joined our girl’s side because she had less units than our boy.

Less is a measurement made solely on the visual observation that she had 2 tanks and 15 guardsmen to his truk, dreadnaught, helicopter, and 30 orks. Less, for 40k, has a new measurement, which goes like this one pink tank = kick ass!

As I said above, our girl was learning the rules, which if you read yesterday’s post, you know I think are really easy to teach and learn. This game proved that. By the end of turn 2 she didn’t need reminders. The only help she needed from me was flipping through the index book for stats on her units and finding stats for the rocket launcher. My only nitpick to date, is that some weapons are not listed on data sheets, and are located in an appendix.

Back to the game, having learned from the last game, our boy clustered his orks together on one side of the table with the exception of his truk full of large orks. Our girl deployed her guard in a tall building with a clear line of sight. Her infantry transport parked near her main battle tank, all covering the center of the table. My five-man squad of assault marines covered the side of the table with the truk.

With little preamble, her infantry transport shot down his helicopter. His dreadnaught crushed her infantry transport, the troops inside bailed out, only to get slaughtered by a mob of orks. His truk died to my assault squad. The truk blew up, our boy rolled really well for the damage, killing all of his orks inside, except his warboss, and all of my marines.

I haven’t mentioned the tank in a main roll, because the tank didn’t kill any one thing. The tank was the frosting to her destruction cake. The tank got the killing shot on the squad of the grots, dreadnaught, and took the squad of orks down to 2 in one turn, and brought the warboss down to one health before the game ended. Our boy, once his dreadnaught and helicopter bit the dust could do little against the tank.

So what have we learned from our first two games with the new rules:

A unit can advance, which means they move farther, but cannot shot or charge. Not being able to charge does not mean that unit cannot engage in the fight phase. As long as the advancing unit is within 1″ of another unit fighting can happen.

Mortal wounds means no save. We gave everyone saves, they still died.

Morale failure can be brutal.

Re-rolls are very valuable.

Transports are good, but not great.

And finally, multiple ways to crack armor is a necessity, especially for orks. 🙂

The New Warhammer 40k

Ten minutes into our first game and I knew something different was in front of us and it was a good different. The new Warhammer 40k rules are in a single word, friendly. If the scanner had cooperated our first game would have gone smoothly and quickly. Our scanner did not, more on why that is relevant in a minute.

GONE is the bulky, overburdened, confusing, and disorganized rulebook. In is a four panel set of rules that covers almost everything necessary (the only thing NOT covered was what happened when a fully loaded transport blows up) to play a game of Warhammer 40k. Even better the rules are free to download.

You might be wondering how all of the rules of old were condensed into something four panels long…easy, all of the fiddly and nitpicky rules have either been moved to a new location or removed. It used to be that you had to read the rulebook and memorize all sorts of rules to play. Now you have to remember the following:

  • Move
  • Psychic Powers
  • Shoot
  • Charge
  • Fight
  • Morale

That’s it. That’s it as far as the phases of the games go. The rest of the information is contained on each unit’s data sheet and this, for us at least, is where the revolution in game design comes in. All of the information for a unit is contained on one data sheet. No more flipping through the rule and faction books to find a rule or weapon. Everything is right there in front of you.

The most flipping we had to do was due to the scanner not working. Had our scanner worked we would have had sheets printed out for each unit, removing the need for books at the table altogether. As it was, a quick flip to a page to get information and done.

No sheet with charts to hit and wound. No faction books nearby to consult. No notecards with unit information. No templates cluttering up the table. Dice and rulers. A clean playing area. I liked that.

What happened with our first game? A lot of interesting things. Prior to this game we had not seen a plane in play, that happened. Our boy demonstrated that he is way into the story of his orks than he is into the tactics of his orks. And a tiny force of Deathwatch triumphed only because the orks were in story mode.

His ork bomber which honestly had me scared, flew here and there, but never flew over anything important enough to drop a bomb on. That alone would have been bad enough, but our table which we previously thought was huge may be bordering on just large enough for planes, his bomber almost flew off the table more than he would have liked.

I’m all for having a story behind your army. I have a story. My story influences why I made the choices I made in units. My story does not dictate how I play. Our boy has a very elaborate story behind each of his units and those stories far too often dictate how he plays and why he continues to lose, despite having a much larger and well equipped army. Why his best troops needed to climb to the top of a building is something only he can tell you. Why his runtherd shepparded the cannon fodder to safety instead of cannon foddering them is something only he can tell you.

We had a lot more fun with the new rules. So much clutter and crap removed made a smooth and streamlined game. Already looking forward to more.

Final Thoughts

No the blog is not coming to an end. This is about our thoughts about our back-to-back comic book convention experiences. Over all a great time.

All of us found unique items that appealed to them and most of us. The shopping while entertaining and took up most of our time was not where the great time came from though.

For Barb, meeting Wil Wheaton and spending quality time with all of us was here great time.

For the kids, again Wil Wheaton, missing a day of school, being away from home, and last but not least the stuff they bought with their own money. 

For me, family time, family time, and more family time. I got to watch the kids grow. Each of them was faced with one or more delimas, all money related, where they had to make a choice. Our boy spent 45 minutes weighing the pros and cons, eventually settling on the realization that “want” is not a good reason. As a result of his decision he got a great deal the next day.

Our girl, she went with “want,” but she’s younger. Watching her deal with spending money was insightful, as there is a process. Like I said, growth.

I met several new artists who I hope to talk to again. Met a famous artist whoover omelets. Saw Wil Wheaton’s head. And had a lot of fun.

As always there are the things we learned, such as hotel choice really matters, All Seaons in Kalkaska,great. While Comfort Inn in Wixom with the stains on the ceiling, bed, bathroom, and no forks, bad.

Sleep is mandatory.

Children need their own room, a thought for later.

Pace events better.

Know where local food nearby is located

Pack more snacks and food from home to reduce cost

Rest more

Talk to more people

VIP passes are a thing and may be worth the cost

Go with things in mind, cuts down on impulse purchases

Did I mention sleep?

Puddles and Whiskers will return tomorrow.