Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Whew, I found an old college buddy's old posts on an ancient message board and there's a good hundred pages worth. I miss him.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wowio.com - a pleasant diversion, executed badly

Wowio.com is an interesting attempt at providing free e-books.

It has two cool features:
  • content providers get paid (reportedly around $.50 per download)
  • high-quality PDFs of books and comics are available for free
This is more than balanced by the downsides:
  • the selection of materials is laughably small, making the "users who downloaded this also downloaded" feature nigh-worthless
  • the selection of materials is limited to textbooks, a few classics, horrible independent comics, and webcomics
  • the download feature is throttled to three downloads per day.
  • main site background is black.
  • Limited to US, non-free email addresses.
  • There is no content-uploader, so I can't join in the fun.
  • There is no user-interactivity. I can't write reviews, can't link to other things, there are no forums, there's no wiki. In short, I am a passive consumer of their site, and must leave. Where's the stickiness? How are they going to create passionate users?
I've been downloading for 4 days now, and am reasonably satisfied that I will have seen everything interesting available in their collection in about another week.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Alex's first photos

Not bad composition for being 3 1/2.

Talented (kid pics)

Nagging question from Easter egg hunt:
  • How did Cori get cupcake frosting in her armpit?

Rachel leaves town, Sean enters town

My sister Rachel flew out of town today. We got in games of Wyatt Earp, Tsuro, and Blue Moon City before she left.

College buddy Sean, his wife Marina, and their son Liam came into town today, and Sean and I stayed up late playing Magic, Wyatt Earp, and Blue Moon City. We took all the kids to the playground and they had a blast. Tomorrow (okay, in 8 hours) is the Easter egg hunt at the playground.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Post 500

Whew, this will be my 500th post. What's to come:

  • More 18IA playtesting and designing, on my own personal 18XX variant
  • Hopefully more Monday night games as we get back on schedule.
  • The usual mix of family and geek posts.

This is brilliant marketing - gateway bundles

This is neat - Gateplay.com has two bundles of introductory games:

Bundle One:

Ticket To Ride, Bohnanza, Carcassonne, Lost Cities, and Settlers of Catan, for a mere $109.99 plus free shipping. Lost Cities, Ticket To Ride, and Carcassonne all are great for two players (Lost Cities is a 2-only), and there's a nice mix of mechanics (set collection, tile laying, trading, hand management, and trading/building).

Bundle Two:

Alhambra, Ra, Thurn & Taxis, Notre Dame, and El Grande. Alhambra, Ra, and El Grande are favorites around our house. I haven't played Thurn & Taxis or Notre Dame... in the case of Notre Dame, because I've built enough cathedrals for now, thanks. Nevertheless, it's an excellent mix of mechanics and themes to build up a library quickly.

Third list of Gateway games:

Puerto Rico, Power Grid, Princes of Florence, Tigris & Euphrates, and Caylus. All great games, although I have decided not to acquire Princes of Florence or Caylus (Larry has a copy of Caylus, and for me, Medici scratches the same itch as Princes).

I'm always impressed when game stores take the time to figure out bundles like this, and even more impressed when they make good choices like the ones above.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The story of the Ghost

I made a Ghost image of Lee's hard drive on Tuesday. Ghost is a powerful software package that lets you clone entire hard drives, or make backup images of hard drives. Her computer's been acting a little flaky, so in addition to doing a little bit of touch-up work, I used Ghost to make a copy of her whole system drive onto another hard drive I had lying around.

Realistically, I probably should do the same thing to my own computer, but, um, I don't have any hard drives big enough to make the copy in full.

Seriously, though, Lee's whole setup copied in 17 minutes, and the spare hard drive's now disconnected. If her motherboard fries like in her last cheap computer (last time the hard drive was the only gear that survived), we've got a backup no matter what.

Pulled the trigger

I've purchased 1861: Railways of the Russian Empire... for 46 pounds, including shipping from England. No idea how long it'll take to arrive.

Other than that, Alex has gotten quite adept with the safety scissors and is cutting out her own railroad tiles. Fun stuff.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Doin' it myself - making 18AL and 18GA part 2

I used a permanent marker to label the backs of the 3 tilesets for 18AL, 18GA, and the common pool they share. Might as well do it now, before I play a game of them and have to sort them the hard way. All told, I've got 155 good hexes, and 3 that I re-glued today.

A short play

Me: Alex, dude, don't do that.
Cori: Alex isn't a dude.
Me: Cori, what's a dude?
Cori: A dude is a turtle.


(spoiler: she's talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who talk like surfers.)

Doin' it myself - making 18AL and 18GA part 1

I downloaded the tiles and rules for two excellent introductory 18xx games: 18AL and 18GA. Both deal with the development of railroads in a single state (Alabama and Georgia, respectively), and are both rated highly on BoardGameGeek. The designer sells the game, but also makes the files available for everyone to print and play.

I started with my old 2007 laminated wipe & erase calendar from work, and I used Krylon spray adhesive to mount the 8 letter-size PDF tilesheets to that on Thursday, and spent a couple hours on Friday afternoon after work, cutting out each tile. They turned out great, with a nice heft to them. Two of the tilesheets are shared between the two games, so I still need to either A. color the backs with a Sharpie so I know which ones are which, or B. bite the bullet and make two more tilesheets. I also forgot to make a grey tile for the final Birmingham upgrade, which I can do easily enough.

The Krylon spray adhesive did great. I only had 4 tiles peel off where I hadn't gotten enough glue sprayed onto that particular part. I also got too much glue on a couple - which wasn't bad as long as I let the glue harden for a minute before putting the tilesheet on the page. On the ones where I got impatient and slapped the tiles on immediately, the glue soaked through the back of the paper a little bit, causing minor discoloration.

I didn't do the tokens, because I think I'm going to get furniture plugs from a hardware store or hobby store to use for them. From what I hear on the internet, I can get bags of those really cheap.

The two maps were printed on 2 legal-size sheets of paper, with just enough overlap to combine easily. I got some small wrinkles in one of the two maps because I didn't have it level enough (I was doing all this in our small shed under the carport to keep the wind off) and the other one I managed to, again, mess up and get some soak-through of the glue.

I'll still need to make the tokens, stock certificates, trains, and possibly the money, although technically the money's not necessary.

For the benefit of my regular game-group readers, both games run in the 2.5-3 hour range with moderately-experienced players. I think a 3 or 4 player game for us would probably run about 4 hours, which is long for a weeknight but might be a good special-occasion one-off game.

Monday night gaming

Michael, Tim, and I broke out Wyatt Earp, an excellent rummy-style game, and played a hand of that before Chris B. arrived. We then launched into Reiner Knizia's Ingenious, a tile-laying game about building up color combinations on a shared board to score points. There are two twists: when you score a certain number of points in a specific color, you get to play again, and when the game ends, you score the points in your lowest color. As it happened, Michael and I tied on our first color, and I won on the tiebreaker, having finished out all my other colors.

Chris and Tim had to bail, but Laura joined Michael and I in a game of Fluxx. She wasn't impressed.

No games tomorrow night, unfortunately.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sunday gaming, sort of

Yesterday I went to Larry's and we geeked out big time. He got out his laptop and I sat at his desktop, and I walked him through how to create an account on BSW, the BoardGameWorld interface. We played a game of San Juan and a game of Power Grid, all in about an hour.