Games We Play: Life Interrupts

I was planning on writing about Rise of the Runelords GOBLINS, Tanks, and our first foray into Warhammer 40k in two years, unfortunately life interrupts.

We did play another Rise of the Goblins scenario, Black Fang…and it went as well as most goblin oriented things tend to do which is funny and not as expected. We lost the scenario, we ran out of time. Why did we run out of time, because we kept playing Blessing of the Gobs and taking a blessing off the blessing deck, shortening our game by 4 turns.

Combine our short (ha) sighted planning with a run of bad luck and universal deck stalling, except for the goblins getting the tar beat out of them and you have how we lost. We came close to winning when Black Fang was revealed, defeated, revealed the next player’s turn, and then he ate a goblin…so close to winning in goblin terms.

This morning was supposed to be Tanks-our girl’s Tiger Force vs in her words “whateveryouthrowonthetable ” (said as one word) and a clash between a squad of space marines and genestealers in a return to Warhammer 40k.

Alas, our girl is sick. No Tanks and instead of playing Warhammer 40k our boy worked on building more of his Tyranid army while I finished painting a few more space marines.

Two or three years ago, being overindulgent parents and having a surplus of cash, we purchased a starter set of Warhammer 40k for our boy who expressed a HUGE interest in the game. Unfortunately, he was not interested in learning the following:

  • The rules
  • How to assemble his miniatures
  • How to paint his miniatures
  • How to play with his miniatures

Cue sad parents and 40k going on the shelf. At the time we lived on campus and I had no real way to set up for painting, which may have interested him.

Fast Forward two to three years, once again he expressed interest, once again I said yes, EXCEPT he had to read the rulebook AND his tyranid book cover to cover. He did or is in the process. Suffice to say he has done enough on his own that game on. 🙂

In addition to reading the rules he has been learning how to paint his miniatures. Anyone who has painted an army knows that initially looking at all of the unpainted miniatures is intimidating. When painting for the first time, overwhelming. To ease his concerns, one squad at a time with plenty of assistance from me. He currently has three figures painted and is working on three more.

paintingWhile he read and learned to paint I started painting again (see photo). I have not painted (in this quantity or detail) in over five years. And like him I was not looking forward to painting all of the miniatures, however as I wrote before painting and writing are similar skill sets to me. Within a week I was painting and writing; write until I stop, then paint for a few, then back to writing. The combination is very good for the creative process and has gotten me closer to center than I have been in a long time.

Hopefully illness passes by without much more note and gaming resumes. 🙂

If A Rat Can Cook, Can I?

2964_render_RatatoulleOur boy routinely indicates he wants to learn how to cook. I, happy to teach him how to cook, get him in the kitchen where he mopes, plays, and complains. What does he complain about? To hot, to heavy, to much work, not enough work, and so on. I don’t mind the complaining as much as I mind the screwing around (playing) in the kitchen. Kitchens are no place to play. Way too many ways to hurt himself or other people, read me.

Lately, he has been demonstrating he is more responsible or maybe not so much responsible, but less likely to play in the kitchen. For the record, his sister is responsible in the kitchen, routinely walking by and correcting some point of her brother’s behavior, technique, or to offer up a pointer. Her last pointer, to practice using chopsticks “the way dad is showing you” in an empty pot because “practice makes perfect.”

With his new found less play in the kitchen has come renewed pleas to teach him how to cook. I do not know why ramen, spaghetti, taco meat, and making sandwiches is not enough for him. Curious, I asked what he wanted to cook. Expecting hamburgers or something easy, and not expecting anything Asian, I was floored when he said ratatouille.

“Like the movie?”


“You sure?”

“If a rat can make it, I can.”

Good logic. Except…there was a time when he saw another cartoon animal eating something and wanted that with the same logic; if an animal can make it I could make it. Don’t believe me, see here and here.

So yes, if a cartoon rat can cook it, I should be able to, but my ability to cook is not the point. My ability to teach the kids how to cook is and if he wants to cook rat-food (ha), I should encourage that. Shouldn’t I?

Off the shelves came the cookbooks. His only goal, to find a recipe for ratatoullie. Book one, Bourdain’s Le Halle, nope. Book two, Better Homes and Garden (I knew a no, but I wanted him to do the work), nope. Book three, Jacques Pepin, Fast Food or something along that lines (it was cheap and I wanted a non-Asian cookbook), yes. Hooray…not the same?

Jacques did have a recipe for ratatouille, but it did not look like the movie. Not good. Next step, teach the boy how to search the interwebs for a recipe. Nothing better than watching him with a copy of the movie in one hand and typing with the other. Thank you interwebs, less than a few seconds later he found this…

Next up, after having him read the recipe was to make a shopping list. A few moments later he wrapped up his list, which was everything, including water. I forgot to teach him to check for what we have first. Oops. While he waited for me to go through the list of what is needed verse what we have on hand, I asked him to come up with some side dishes. I am still waiting.

Kitchen Skills Essential


I believe that and I am teaching my children that. I am not some new age hippie all anti-microwave and prepackaged crap and down with fast food…oh wait I am…just not the new age hippie thing. The art and skill of cooking at home seems to have disappeared. During my five years in college I taught as many people how to cook as I taught how to use WordPress. That is a lot of people who were not taught now to cook for themselves or their families BEFORE they left home. That is sad and shocking.

I learned how to cook tacos, spaghetti, and shrimp before I left the house. None of these dishes are difficult; brown meat, add seasoning; boil water, add noodles; peel, devine, and cook in butter for a few minutes. I learned additional skills and dishes as I moved around. I admit there was a time when fast food and prepacked shit was my go to. I have no defense for those food choices I do have a large waistline and some bad health to show for it. Then I got back into cooking.

To prevent my children from the crap that is prepackaged food I have been teaching them how to cook and how to behave in the kitchen. This is some of my favorite time with them. Watching them turn something into something else is magical. Raw meat into…well just about anything is awesome. Today our boy watched ground pork go from raw pink to that light grey color of cooked pork and then a darker brown as some of the pork sat too long in the pan. He learned how cornstarch and water will thicken sauces. Even watched the thin sauce turn thick.

Beyond teaching them how to feed themselves and others (a valued skill when attempting to impress others), they have been learning without knowing, the skills of organization, time management, how to deal with emergencies, and following instructions. These are essential skills for life. I do not know why other than “budget” issue that cooking is not taught in schools as a mandatory series of classes. Imagine how much better off kids would be coming out of high school knowing how to cook a few meals, how to shop smart, how to organize more than just the ingredients, how to see the world in a different way because they worked with food.

Maybe fast food would not be the go to for so many people. Maybe people would be healthier. Maybe because of all of the home cooked meals families would be closer and happier.

Kitchen skills are essential. 🙂


Krosmaster Quest, Second Adventure

Quest 1Even with the hiccups everyone wanted to play Quest today. While they slept I set up the board and table. The rules have everyone setting up the game, but honestly, it was easier and faster for me to setup the entire game. The only thing they had to do was pick their characters, color token, and play.

Learning a game is one of my favorite pastimes, after the fact. During the process I can’t stand learning and teaching a game to others. Rules get missed. A rule that is a confusing read will clear up during play or make even less sense. Players expect that I know all of the rules and I don’t. I often have to go back after a game and re-read the rules to clear up any in game issues or worse look up rules during the game.

Quest is designed for 2 to 5 players to play at the same time. Each player gets a turn to play the bad guys. No need for a single player to control all of the bad guys, unless you play with that specific mode. Control of the bad guy or Demon is passed at the end the player who was the demon turn. This makes for a very cooperative and interactive game.

Quest 3We did not do that. I wanted to make sure that the players and I knew the rules, thus I was the Demon player for the game. This gave them a sense of them versus me, which was not the intent and not the goal. The goal, other than learning the rules, was for them to complete the various quests, collect GeeGee and win. Things did not go that way…

Krosmaster characters begin the game with no spells other than punch. They collect resources, sell them, or kill off monsters to get kama (gold) to be able to purchase equipment, buy resources they don’t have or and this is important unlock spells. Until a spell is unlocked the only attack a Krosmaster has is punch, which is not a good attack. Players spent a lot of time punching.

This resulted in a few KO’s, a lot of running and hiding, and some chin scratching as they pondered how to eliminate my ever growing army of tofus. They tried equipment, which helped prolong their time on the field by increasing their lives. Eventually they started unlocking spells which had an immediate effect on the game, it got easier. Unlocking spells or at least one spell should be a priority because spells cost less and do more than any punch will ever do.

Quest 5A missed rule or a misplaced rule lead to a period where the players stayed in the City free from harm, but able to inflict damage on my tofus. To be clear, the City is a safe zone where the characters cannot be harmed and can do no harm. Combat has to happen outside of the city. Unfortunately, that rule was missed and a lot of tofus died needlessly and players advanced without merit. These things happen the first few times playing any game.

Few games from now everything will flow smoothly. Until then some bumps in the road, but Krosmaster Quest is a lot of fun to play, even with the bumps.



Krosmaster Junior, It’s For Kids

Arena Jr2Like Krosmaster Arena?

Have children?

Want the children to play with you, but they are having a difficult time with Krosmaster Arena?

If the answer to the above question was yes, then I have a suggestion, pick up a copy of Krosmaster Arena Jr. You may want to pick up a copy if you do not have kids, I will get into that in a bit.

Arena Jr. has about half of the content of Arena: 4 figures, 2 multi-piece boards about half the size of a full board, pieces, four character booklets, one abridged rulebook, and a score pad. The scenery pieces consist of new bushes and totems instead of trees.

The abridged rulebook is more of a reminder of things than an actual rulebook. Teaching the game happens in the character booklets. The booklets have identical content, the only difference being the name and image of the character on the cover and inside. Similar to Arena, where seven scenarios teach the rules, Arena Jr. uses seven adventures to teach the rules.

Arena Jr1The big difference between Arena and Arena Jr. is that Arena Jr. sticks to one or two rules at a time in build up method that makes sense: Movement first, then Movement and Movement Restriction, then Movement, Movement Restriction, and Basic Combat. That was the first three adventures. Further, pets are used for several of the adventures. If you are familiar with Tofus or other Mobs, then pets make sense. Each character has a signature pet that is used for a capture the flag variant, a hide-and-seek variant, and in the final full rule adventure. The pets are cute and keep children invested in a game.

Another thing that keeps children invested is the speed of each adventure, an average of 10 minutes from set-up to tear down. Yes, very quick and that is the point: one or two rules handled in a quick and easy to digest fashion. Each adventure specifies which of the four maps to build; a map consists of four double-sided puzzle pieces to create a small square. Very nice to get four maps, that while not good for four-on-four games would be good for quick two-on-two matches or a special format.

Arena Jr. does not have every rule from Arena, but does cover all of the basics very well and something that I feel is under represented in the rules of Arena, using Demon Squares. It took all us a few Arena games before we understood the value of collecting gold to get powerups; it seems counter to winning to take turns to use Demon Squares. Arena Jr. ensures that the importance and use of Demon Squares is shown, by making them and the pets as part of the final adventure. Characters collect gold in previous adventures as a victory condition, thus getting them used to collecting gold. In the final adventure, characters use gold collected during the adventure to purchase their pets to assist them, which reinforces gold collection, and teaches Demon Squares and how to use Mobs.

Arena Jr3Finally, if you already own Arena and do not have children to use as your excuse to purchase Arena Jr. I can say that Arena Jr, on Amazon is cheap enough to justify getting four figures and new scenery to use in your Arena games. Speaking of which, once the children have learned the rules using Arena Jr. they can use the Arena character cards included to take the four figures into an Arena game. Awesome. 🙂

500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Fin

The last day of a class can be bittersweet. This was more a thank deity someone finally pulled the trigger kind of feel. Tomorrow they present their portfolios. On one hand, I am looking forward to seeing what they do. On the other hand, I know what they have done. There really is nothing more for me to say about that. I was there if and when they needed questions answered or advice. Only a couple of people took advantage of that from myself or PK, when he joined later in the semester.

That being said, this was an experience that I would not change. Had this been the perfect semester I do not think I would have been motivated to apply to graduate school. With the job I hoped I might get out of reach, I applied to get the necessary certification to get the job I want next time.

Working and dealing with the students got me to think about how I teach, what I get out of teaching, and why I like teaching. How I teach is how I like to learn which is a bit of show me what I want to know, learning what I want to learn on my own, and applying both to see what I can get. This method works with some people. At least this time, most of the students wanted to be shown how to do, but did not want to learn why anything was done. Just do for me. Application was in a similar range of doing what was asked, but not to much else. There were exceptions, but the exceptions only proved the rule.

I got more satisfaction from teaching. Even if the student gave me the metaphorical finger (and one did twice), I still got some satisfaction from being able to provide the advice, suggestion, or lesson. The couple of students who worked and wanted to do more were really satisfying. They sought out answers and suggestions; using what was given to them did their own thing. This was very satisfying watching them grow and show-off.

I finally figured out why I like teaching. I have been teaching our kids for approximately 11 years now. Teaching people how to play games for longer than that and over the last couple of years teaching people about one subject or another in a more structured and formalized manner. In all of these instances, the satisfaction and pride watching a students eyes light up with that “AH HA” moment when they go from not knowing or understanding to understanding that is what I like. Even the students who gave me the metaphorical finger had those “AH HA” moments and I enjoyed them just as much. Those moments made many of the struggles worth while and make sense. I will not lie and say I enjoyed every moment, but when that moment happened it put everything into perspective.

While the title of this is post is As A Teacher, Fin, suggesting this is the end. I do not think it is. This is the end of my time teaching as an undergraduate, but I have two children who can learn from me for many more years, lots more games and recipes to teach, and most interesting of all, to me, is that I took the next step of applying to for a graduate program so that should I be accepted and pass I can continue to teach as a professional.

500 Words At A Time: Just When You Think You Are Out…

Let me reassure everyone who has been following along for the past five years, despite the title, I am graduating with the degree. What was next has been up in the air. The primary reason the future was in doubt was due to Barb; would she graduate, now that she is graduating, would she find a job quickly? The answer is yes she did.

After that, finding a place to live. We have done this yet, but given the stresses here looking for a place to live has steadily dropped from number one RIGHT NOW to as soon as graduation is over, back to number one. We asked for some additional time before we had to move and got it, thus we do not have to immediately worry about a roof over our heads.

With finding a home on the back burner my thoughts turned to “what next” and I thought…no, it was indicated that plans were in motion to get me a gig teaching a blogging class here at Ferris. It would’ve only been a 1-credit course. Given, how much I have been pushing for a blogging and social media course as part of the degree I am/was geeked that I was even considered. Let alone people making the effort to get me to be the teacher.

As excited and honored as I was about the potential, I was pessimistic that I would be allowed to teach. Hopeful…very hopeful, but pessimistic. Today, I received the news I was expecting. Nope. The class will go on, but not with me as a teacher. It was not for a lack of trying, but due to credentials. Turns out that despite having the experience, taught the class 1 1/2 times to a world wide audience, that I lack credentials of the paper variety.

Well I’m done. Aren’t I?

I did my college experience. The family survived and has the potential to thrive. I sacrificed more than five years to ensure that this happened. Don’t I deserve a break?

Thankfully, I do not think like that. If I want to teach I need to go back to school or would this be a continuation of college? I need a Master Degree in English or some related topic, such as biology…its a joke, there is a biology teacher with a philosophy degree on display, no biology degree. But do I want to go back?

Yes and no. I do enjoy teaching. Seems I have a knack for it and the more I teach the more I learn how to teach better and the more I enjoy teaching. From that standpoint, yes I want to get whatever certifications are necessary. However, I just finished five years of education and want to get on with my life or at least try to pick up where I left off or some other clichĂ© that indicates do my own thing. Except I was really, and I do mean, really bummed when I found out I would not be teaching…so much so I sat on the couch for an hour just brooding.

I could list all of the pros and cons, but the essential decision is, “Do I want to teach or not?”