Reflecting On The Year In Games

Last night I ran into a creative writing bump, not block, just bump-I have been writing in a technical style for the past week working on Building Block mechanics, I went to start adding the creative touches to make the mechanics less like reading an instruction manual and more interesting, only to discover my mind was still in technical mode.  Thus when working on the equipment instead of a fun, more advertisement style description, I wrote out the technical details.  Boring.  So I am taking a break.

Which is how I got here, reflecting on the past year.  Over on Scrawling I wrote out an overview of the year from my point of view.  Here I plan on doing at least two reflections-today’s on gaming and one on food.  I may do others.  This year was a huge gaming year here.  We played and tried playing more games this year than I have ever done before in my life.  There was a motivating factor, the kids.  I want the children to play games other than video games.  I am not anti-video game, we are playing Diablo III now, routinely play Mario Kart 8 (they lose a lot to me :)), Infinity and Infinity 2.0, and the kids love Minecraft.  I enjoy Minecraft, but the music is a bit of a bummer to me thus keeping my play time down.  Video games have always been a part of my life and will continue to be so, but I was fortunate to be there when video games were born, thus I had already learned that there were other things to do with my free time other than play video games.  Now video games are everywhere and I watched as my kids turned to video games with increasing frequency when bored or when they couldn’t think of anything else to do.

I wanted to change that.  Thus the search or continuing search for games that caught the children’s attention, were fun to play, educational in some fashion (math, planning, reading, etc), and involved playing with others in a direct fashion.  Sitting across from other people changes how people behave and teaching sportsmanship important to me as much as teaching them how to be good winners and losers.

Regular readers have followed along as we played various games this year, here are the standouts:

Pathfinder RPG: I have many role-playing games here as part of a long history of gaming and none of them other than Pathfinder caught the kids attention.  They were more than willing to give role-playing a try, even playing through a couple of adventures, but in the end their attention span due to age was the nail in the coffin for playing.  But that was not the end as I thought it would be, no, the kids put the books to use.  First, flipping through the books to look at the images, but then the boy started reading them, and reading them to our girl. Now she is reading them or at least any page with cats on them. Note to Paizo, to increase sales to our daughter I suggest more cats. 🙂

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: This game was the family favorite last year and this year as well. Pirates as the theme for the year could not have been better tailored to our family.  While we have not had as much time to play this year as we would have liked, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game gets played at least once a month.  An excellent game to teach reading, some math, planning, and teamwork.

Star Trek Attack Wing: This was a pleasant surprise. We got Star Trek Attack Wing because at the time we were marathoning Star Trek on Netflix.  The kids were interested in the ships, but due to our experience with Star Wars Attack Wing Barb and I were skeptical that the kids would play.  Play they did and still do.  Most this year was spent watching the boy find a faction that suited him, first the Federation, then Klingons, then Borg, and finally the Dominion. Our girl only wanted a female captain, Janeway and Voyager have seen her to many victories.

D&D Attack Wing: This was no surprise and a recent game. Who doesn’t like dragons? Everyone in this family loves dragons thus dragons fighting was a natural.  With enough differences to make D&D Attack Wing its own game we play regularly, although I am the only one trying to play with anything other than dragons.

War Gaming: Wargames came upon us in an end of the year rush.  Robotech RPG Tactics showed up with many hopes and went into the closet after a dozen one-sided games.  That did not diminish the children’s desire to play wargames with lots of miniatures, which lead Warhammer 40k. Barb was skeptical that the kids would like the game, but Warhammer 40k has surprised her.  The boy is reading the rulebook, practicing, playing, planning, and is waiting for the time when he will learn how to paint the miniatures.  Our girl enjoys watching the game, helps out, but is not interested in the armies we have, but should the Sisters of Battle show up she has promised to kick our armies in the nards.

Card Games and Wrap Up: Last year we were playing a lot of deck building games. Those seem to have fallen by the wayside to the games above.  I believe the reason why is because deck building games are quick, almost instant gratification games, and our children are starting to look for deeper gaming experiences.  The progress from Attack Wing style games into Warhammer 40k miniature games seems to be following that same evolution.

Games of all varieties are an important part of our family dynamic.  They bring us together and teach many lessons that I feel are important for everyone to learn, especially the social aspects.  I am looking forward to the end of the year when the kids are home and we have the time to play games uninterrupted, that is a good holiday to me.



One Against Five Seems Like Good Odds

calltoarms_500My boy had a plan.  That plan was to use all five of his Dominion ships to beat me in a game of Star Trek Attack Wing.  At his disposal (keep that word in mind) were:

  1. 2nd Division Cruiser
  2. 1st Wave Attack Fighter
  3. 4th Division Battleship
  4. Gor Portas
  5. Kraxon

All of these ships are hard-hitting slugs-I say slugs because they maneuver  poorly compared to the ships I like to use.  He had one restriction for me, I only got one ship.  He was telling me to use the Scimitar, but I was really excited to use Bioship Alpha.  He was worried about that.

tumblr_lypeg3JQkR1roy49eo1_400Here is where his age is a factor. He watched the Voyager episodes with species 8472, saw them routinely blow up Borg ships and a planet.  Thus for him my one ship would, not could, but would do that as well. He doesn’t understand how wargames are designed or should be designed for balance. Which meant that he was worried that with one Death Star like attack, blow up all of his ships. No matter what I said, he didn’t believe me.

The game starts with a Dominion controlled planet and starbase on his side of play.  On my side was a transwarp conduit that my ship had accidentally come out of.  His first moves saw his entire fleet lurch forward and then right into the planet, like lawn darts.  He has my lack of spatial relations, meaning he cannot judge distances very well.  No surprise there.  I set off straight with plans to turn into the side of his ships and wreck some havoc.

Eaglemoss Star Trek The Official Starships Collection _43 Species 8472 bioship renderI came in behind his fleet, none of his ships could return fire, and I was within range one-the Kraxon went up quickly.  My boy scattered his fleet, which unfortunately put the 2nd Division Cruiser in base to base contact with me, where a biological attack neutered the ship long enough for my main gun to split the 2nd Division Cruiser in half.  He got his 1st Wave Attack Fighters in front of my ship, not facing me, but flying away from me.  I had been joking about crushing them like hobgoblins and elves (a D&D Attack Wing family joke) when the damn things shot me.  The only ship he has with a rear firing arc are fighters, and they pack quite the punch too.

I went from shark among the fish to looking for a way out.  Thankfully the Quantum Singularity allowed me to exit the middle of his kill zone and start the fight from a new angle.  I popped out on the far side of the board and made my way in while he tried to get his ships back into formation.  The Gor Portas and I exchanged fire, which bloodied my nose and put a huge hole in the Gor Portas.  The 1st Wing popped, but in popping them I set myself up for defeat.  The battered Gor Portas made a U-turn which I thought would put it out of range, but was just at maximum range.  One bad roll on my part and my ship was dead.

I cannot wait to use Species 8472 some more. A solid ship with good maneuverability and finally, for me, a ship with action abilities that not only make sense, but when put to use were as awesome as they read.  This was the first game where I discarded cards and disabled cards willingly and got results that made me very happy.  The look on his face when I played Quantum Singularity was worth the price of admission alone.

Pardon the Interruption

In Gaming Coverage…the plan today was to game.

Game some more.

Eat tacos.

Game some more.


I made the tacos or should I say, I cooked the taco meat and prepped the usual assortment of accessories to make tacos.  I spent some time assembling my Species 8472 ship.  I think I have found my favorite Star Trek Attack Wing ship. Normally I prefer the Romulans or Klingons, but for this game both species fall short for me.  Species 8472 has a combination of attack, defense, and special abilities that I like, fine the ship cannot cloak, but the ship can disappear to reappear in a different location like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat.

I organized my two units of hobgoblins to take on whatever dragon centric attack Barb and my girl would throw my way for D&D Attack Wing.  Despite hobgoblins, and elves for that matter, seeming to be squishable, I have hope. Plus instead of using them as accessories after the fact, the hobgoblins were my army.

The playmat for Pathfinder Adventure Card Game was ready to be laid out once the dragons were picked up.  Characters were shuffled and the Skulls and Shackles adventure had been divided up into the requisite piles.

And then…

mxc_guyAmbushed by Guy LeDouche.  I am still kicking myself for a side comment about MXC made while we were playing Diablo III last night.  I have no idea how a side comment about Captain Tenneal and MXC lead to this morning. Our boy running upstairs with all of our MXC DVD’s shouting, “We are going to have an MXC marathon!”

Fine, maybe I do know. MXC was his favorite show (don’t judge I bet you have shows you don’t want people to know you watch too).  MXC was our favorite show too.  He would build MXC style courses out of his Legos and for the longest time one of his favorite conversation starts was, “What is your favorite MXC competition?” And then he would regale anyone with the exploits of the latest episode.

Thus, when he learned that his sister had not watched as much MXC as he had and knowing her love for funny violent displays of humanity made up his mind to share his love with her.  Which is why instead of gaming our brains out they are MXCing their brains out.  MXC is foreign, isn’t it? That makes this interruption a cultural experience.  That is what I am telling myself.

This is Usually a Quite Useful Chemistry Website

Today is my first day off without any work of any kind that I have to do.  Normally I make time for myself and the family.  I do this through working hard during the week, getting assignments done early, and so on.  I like my free time.  I need my free time.  I think that everyone needs more free time.

So what will I be doing with my free time?

At the moment I am editing another 10 pages of my role-playing game, Building Blocks.  I am finding I enjoy editing more than I used too, thank you education for that, because if you search editing on this blog you will find a post or two where I express my distaste for this process of writing.

Allow me to share with you some spam, I love spam. Spam brings a smile to my face.  Not the pink gelatinous cube, that raised my blood pressure.  The title of this post is from spam I found today.

shoes editors are now being buzzed

  • I imagine if my job was to edit shoes that I too would need to be buzzed.

In addition, many lottery systems have backed up my research as well.
But you’re hovering over hazardous ice if you give anything that hints of the need for hair removal.
All your beliefs, values and rules must be aligned and there.

  • I love the rapid change in topics in that one piece of spam; lottery, hovering ice, hair removal, and beliefs.

Then I may play some Diablo III.  We have been playing Diablo III again, with the new content (newish by this point) and because my character is lite on bonus xp gear has fallen behind the rest of the family in levels, so I may solo for a bit to catch up.

Later, if the artistic bug strikes begin the process to create some terrain for D&D Attack Wing  and Star Trek Attack Wing. At a minimum draw a blue circle on some cardstock and call that a lake or blue nebula. 🙂

Mostly though, I am going to enjoy the feeling of not being busy or feeling like I “have” something to do.

Attack Wing Friday

Thanksgiving was interesting here, the easiest way to explain the situation was a clogged sink and cooking times were off by hours.  Just odd.  Great food once the sink was cleared and the food cooked.

Our Black Friday tradition goes like this, we go out to busy shopping locations where we have zero intention of getting any “bargains.” Instead we are there to look around and get our annual Black Friday middle finger. We do not go out of our way to get this middle finger, we look around and are just part of the overall consumerism nightmare, we just aren’t in any hurry to get anything thus we are not frustrated and irritated.  Unfortunately for our tradition since moving here there has been no middle finger, the students leave, and the only two places to shop are Meijers and Walmart hardly Black Friday meccas around here.  Most people leave town to do their shopping.

With no old tradition, we started a new one, gaming Black Friday. Our 1st annual (see already making this a thing) Black Friday gaming was Attack Wing.  Star Wars, Star Trek, and D&D Attack Wing.  All three games are fun to look at, fun to play, and do not take up a lot of time.  These were things we were looking for today.  Why?  Well there is the issue of the kitchen to clean up, still doing dishes as I type (try to picture that), Barb and I both have college work to wrap up, and after yesterday short and sweet was the mood we are in.

First up, was Star Wars which has not seen the light of day since the last game where Tie Fighters flew off the edges of the tables never to be seen again.  Since that time we have played a lot more Attack Wing games meaning that everyone understands how to plan out moves better.  I will sum up the game as follows:

“NO! Not Luke Skywalker,” as he was blown out of the stars on turn 2.

“Die! Empire Die!” Followed by, “Did you see that Tie Fighter crash into the other one?”

tumblr_mr1jc2hq2T1rzu2xzo9_r1_400Next up, was Star Trek (might as well keep the Star theme).  The Dominion versus The Federation: a Dominion Battleship and Battle Cruiser facing off against the Enterprise E. This was not a close game at all.  The Enterprise E is a fast moving weapon of destruction.  The Dominion large ships are slow, plodding, and have forward firing arcs only.  By turn three I was behind the Battleship.  By turn 4 the Battleship was gone.  The Battle Cruiser was gone two turns after that.  The Enterprise E was never shot at.

Finally, D&D Attack Wing.  I was not in the mood to fly a dragon I wanted to stomp around as a Frost Giant. Yes, I was feeling fine, just not in the mood to be a dragon.  Here is what I can say about being a Frost Giant, lots of fun until the blue dragon nails you with a lightning bolt keeping you from performing any actions for two turns and all of your cool actions were needed over those two turns.  If not for the lightning bolt I would have done much better.  On a related note, we have yet to have anything resembling success with the hobgoblins or elves.  They look cool marching around the board, but are so squishy.  Time and practice will tell.

Later tonight, who knows…right now dishes are calling. 🙂

This Weekend in Gaming

Even though there are three class days remaining and a small pile of final projects to do we still made time for gaming this weekend.  Our boy tired of losing at Robotech RPG Tactics asked that the game be put up until the Zentraedi are fixed.  Still no luck finding that balance and I have to admit that I would be tired of knowing that I was going to lose each time I played even when I had twice as many figures at my disposal.

He wanted to play Star Trek Attack Wing and everyone wanted to play D&D Attack Wing. The aforementioned end of the semester has kept us from playing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, although the third Skulls and Shackles Adventure Path did arrive, with great white sharks. 🙂

Star Trek was a bust.  Not for any other reason than our boy cannot have a television on and play a game at the same time.  Well I should correct, he cannot have the television turned to Gravity Falls (a new favorite of mine) and pilot two Dominion ships at the same time.  Two Dominion Battleships versus one Reman Scimitar in an asteroid field. Sounds cool right?  Me too. I thought the boy was playing smart when he split his ships up in what looked to be an attempt to flank me.  Then one ship flew way off course, I am talking close to a foot away from the action.  Then the other ship crashed into two asteroids.  That was when the game was called on account of Gravity Falls.

Dragons 2D&D was exhilarating.  This game went to the final roll.  We have not had a game this on your seat since the Pathfinder Scenario with the sea monster that eats people and we had to rescue more people than the sea monster ate. Hated that sea monster.  On one side was our girl with her beloved blue dragon and her mother with a copper dragon and sun elf mage.  On the other side was our boy with green dragon and me with red dragon and six hobgoblins. Here are some notes:

  • A mage without an offensive spell is lunch for a red dragon.
  • Hobgoblins with no upgrades are squishy, very squishy.
  • Despite being a dragon, the green dragon is closer to playing Romulan ships in Star Trek-move and shoot; straight up fighting results in a dead dragon.
  • Never discount the rear attack arc of dragons as a tail attack is how my red dragon took out the copper dragon.

Here we are me with my undamaged generic red dragon and our girl with her one damage, beloved, unique blue dragon.  She was eager for a win and she, even at 6, is smart enough to win games.  We flew at each other which hurt her more than me.  Then several turns flying in circles like fighter planes in a dog-fight. At one point I took a chance and cut inside to attack her, did some damage, but her return attack caused me to be unable to take any actions.  Not being able to take actions didn’t seem like much, but lead to the end of the game.

I was attempting to cut inside her circle around me for what I hoped would be the final attack as we were both down to one health.  She had fallen for this same maneuver twice before. Except this time she didn’t and I overshot her.  She was behind and to the side of my dragon so that she could attack with any of her attacks and I was limited to a tail attack.  She made her roll convinced that she had won, starting her “I won dance,” before the dice stopped rolling, two hits both deflected by my armor. I’m still alive.  My turn. Two hits and a critical that punches through her armor.  I won.  She was pissed and vowed revenge.

Soup, Snow, and Dragons Oh My

SnowThis is what I woke up to that is right, snow.  I have been writing over here and here, about how I think retail early Christmas push has caused Mother Nature to also forget what time of the year it is and now I have proof.  I am positive that this early snow and POLAR VORTEX is Mother Nature telling us, in her own subtle way, to stop rushing towards Christmas, to enjoy all of the fall days and holidays before Christmas, or ELSE!  When will we listen? Probably never.  Soon enough this early winter will get the global warming treatment, shoved aside for something else, and Christmas will be promoted even earlier next year.  I say a retail revolution is necessary! I am going to listen to Mother Nature and enjoy Thanksgiving first.

SoupYesterday, feeling that the cold was cold enough for soup I made a large batch of Bacon and Potato Soup in the slow cooker. I modified the Bacon and Potato Soup recipe in the following ways:

  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 cups of cream and 3 cups of milk
  • 1 stick of butter

The garlic was a nice note, but next time I will up the garlic to three or four cloves for 7 quarts. The cream and butter made the soup creamier and richer tasting.  Barb inspired by my efforts made our first bread bowls.  I would share that recipe with you, but we think we can do better.  These bread bowls were tasty, but more oval than bowl shaped.

Last, while riding out the cold weather (boy was I wrong about that one), working on soup, and bread we played D&D Attack Wing or fought with dragons. A red, blue, green, and copper dragon met in a 3 x 3 foot area and fought to the death.  If you have played Star Trek Attack Wing, you will find D&D Attack Wing quick and easy to learn.  We being very familiar with Star Trek Attack Wing set our D&D Attack Wing game up in fifteen minutes.  The biggest changes are no pre-measuring and dragon armor does not go away like the shields on a starship.

DragonsThe game was fast, fun, and engaging.  Being able to use one attack to hit multiple dragons was a fun, not that my red dragon’s fire breath did as much our girl’s blue dragon’s lightning bolt that took out our boy’s green dragon and damaged Barb’s copper dragon in one hit.  Having a variety of abilities and choices, such as will I be flying, swooping to attack stuff on the ground, or landing was nice.  Being able to land and pivot in place, kept our girl from flying off of the board, something that she would not have been able to do playing her beloved Voyager.

Overall D&D Attack Wing was better received than Star Trek Attack Wing was at first.  The dragons as the subject helped, but the interactions and possibilities each turn helped more.  There will be more dragons fighting in our future.