Thursday, March 29, 2007

Central Tuesday Session, 3/27/07

With several people heading for Gathering of Friends, and even more going to the local GameStorm convention in town, I was expecting fewer people tonight, and I was right - we only had nine. I really need a new house.

Patrick, Mike, Chuck, and Rita pulled out Aladdin's Dragons on the card table, while KC, Laurent, Alex, Liz, and I tried out the Battlefields expansion for Knizia's Lord of the Rings cooperative game. I really don't know why I keep buying these expansions, as we rarely play even the base game, and Friends and Sauron each got exactly one play each. Sadly, I think Battlefields will meet the same fate.

Battlefields will work with either Friends and Foes or with just the base game, and the latter is how we played to avoid extra complexity and my head exploding (I was coming down with a chest cold at the time). There are a few cards added to Rivendell and Lothlorien, most of which interact directly with the expansion. How it works is thus: every space on the main track of each scenario gets a special battlefield tile, as does every one of the events along the side of the scenario board. The last event now gets about six battlefield tiles, making it so that you *really* don't want to end the scenario in that fashion if you can avoid it.

When a player triggers an event, or moves along the main track, they collect these face down tiles, then reveal and execute them at the end of their turn. Each tile has one or more colored swords on it, along with a number from one to four. The swords correspond to one of five scenario-specific evil characters that are ostensibly linked with some sort of fight going on at the same time as the scenario. For example, the Moria scenario battlefield is that big fight that happens right after one of the hobbits knocks the goblin skeleton down the well in Dorin's tomb.

If a baddie gets activated, he gets placed on the matching battle board for that scenario on the number given on the tile. If there is a baddie on that number, then they cycle through until an open number is found. If the baddie is already on the board, they move along the red arrow leading from their space, unless blocked by one of the five heroes (the rest of the fellowship). Each hero has slightly different reactions to various baddies, but I'm not going to spend time on that here. Suffice it to say that if the path is blocked, the baddie then goes along the secondary white arrow path unless that is blocked as well. If, however, the baddie moves onto a space that isn't blocked, he is either defeated by the hero if one is there (not all heroes block all baddies, you see), or does whatever the space says to do otherwise. It is possible for the baddies to move several times during a turn, as some tiles have multiple swords of the same color, and in any event there can be several tiles drawn in a turn should many events occur or the main track be traversed.

The heroes are placed in a couple of ways - either they can be "bought" using fight or joker cards, or placed in lieu of playing cards/drawing cards/removing corruption. They go on specific spaces on the battlefield, so they can immediately be placed to block particularly offensive baddies such as the Balrog, who does whatever actions he lands on twice. The overall effect is that the fellowship feels like it's fighting even more losing battles. The fact that triggering the final event on the scenario also pulls six battlefield tiles means that it's even harsher than usual. As proof of this, we made it about half-way through Shelob in our game with five, which usually is a cakewalk even starting the Bad Kitty a few spaces down the corruption track. Not so with us, we managed to watch Fatty run hungrily to the Dark Lord as if he were waving Krispy Kremes around, dragging the ring with him as he went. Which, actually, was a bit of a relief as this expansion has Problems.

First Problem: The game should have been called LotR: Flowcharts. I'm not sure how we're supposed to buy into the expanded theme when there is zero text on the battlefield boards, just a bunch of diamonds, squares, circles, numbers, and icons. You have little idea what the various baddies are supposed to represent, with a few exceptions here and there (such as the Balrog). As such, there's no flavor added at all.

Second Problem: While each board is different, they didn't *feel* different, and a particularly bad set of tile draws during a player's turn early in a scenario (such as triggering several events ending with a main track type draw) and result in a lot of bad things happening before anyone can react. While there are a few cards added in, in a five player game that means exactly 1.165 cards more for each player. Whoohoo! That makes up for having to play extra cards and/or skip turns just to get heroes onto the battlefield board.

Third Problem, alluded to above: Ending a scenario because the last event happens was bad in the original game. Now, it will pretty much kill you unless you've arleady dispatched most of the baddies on the board or blocked them safely in. Sure, you can get all five heroes on the board, but considering that it doesn't take extra cycles to get the baddies on, this is a huge hindrance. There are tough decisions, and then there's deciding between eating the first mate or fighting off your shipmates with an oar. Battlefields turns this game into Shipwreck Survivor, as none of the choices feel like they're going to get you through the game.

I hear that Friends & Foes makes the game easier, perhaps that's worth trying. Still, the whole idea of having to use another expansion to make this one really work feels a bit like maybe this game was rushed through development. In fact, my understanding is that many many many shortcuts were made in order to get the expansion into print (such as one edition for the English, German, and French markets, with cards for all three in one box). There were also several situations that weren't really covered well in the rules. For example, in the original if you trigger the last event on a scenario the turn immediately ends. In the expansion, you are clearly supposed to execute all of the battle tiles, but that doesn't make sense if the turn ends immediately. So does that mean that the player can take an action to place a hero, draw cards, or de-corrupt? No clue. We assumed you did, as there was so little that really gave you anything for your trouble (other than defeating an enemy, but the worst ones gave little, so you had to choose between taking damage or boons).

Fourth Problem: Estimated play time is 2-4 hours. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! If F&F adds that much time to the game, it won't help. 2 hours is way too long for the base game, much less with all of the extra foofah. Run. Run now.

Maybe it was my impending chest cold, but I was relieved when this one went off the rails, and I apologize to those I inflicted this dog of an expansion on. I'd only recommend this if you like sleeping with nettles in your bed, it is not for the faint of heart.

KC to the rescue with a new game he's working on. This was a nice, clean game loosely based on Carcassone, but more elegant and with a very clever mechanism that flipped the triangular tiles once a region scored. The whole thing fit in a baggie and only needed a scoring track and a draw bag. Note to KC as to potential titles: What does the early bird get? This one was a winner, and not just because I squeaked by Laurent by a point for the win. KC, oddly, had a lot more trouble getting points early, although he made a pretty good run at the end. Laurent had an extremely clever move in midgame, but not clever enough. Take *that*, Monseiur!

Meanwhile, the other table played Hey, That's My Fish (which I have yet to play) as well as Ingenious. They apparently had fun, almost certainly more than we did, at least for the first two hours.

Thanks to all for coming and suffering through my latest purchase. I'm really very sorry.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Week In WoW (Step 1 of 12)

I've taken to WoW like a hooker to smack. It is a *really* good thing that I'm retired, because if I weren't I'd be in trouble, even just after a month of play. However, since I do appear to be able to break myself away long enough to spend time with my wife, take the dogs for walks, and keep the place clean enough for the department of health (were they at all interested), I'd say that I'm a functional addict.

No big surprise - when I made the leap into WoW, I knew it was addictive, and I'm clearly predisposed to addictive behavior. It is the primary reason I've stayed away from the game so far, and why I don't gamble and why I'm glad that alcohol and my body have a love/hate relationship. And, in true addict-speak, I will say that I think it tends to have quite a few good side-effects, the main one being that if I'm playing WoW I'm not bored and looking for ways to entertain myself by spending money on wargames I'll never play. So in one sense, and this is a sense that I'm aware applies almost solely to me, this is a "good" addiction similar to religion or work, which at least provide some positive aspects.

The way I've managed to keep things in some sense of control (and when I say control I mean playing less than 15 hours a day) is simple - I don't play that much when my wife is home. Since she works two and a half days a week, that means I've really only got one or two days when I can play for six or seven hours. And I do, with breaks for lunch, the bathroom, taking the dogs out, all the things that are critical. Since most people I know are working, my previous hobbies were knitting and soloing wargames, so I can't really say that WoW is a) any less productive, and b) as expensive. In fact, at $15/month, this is a pretty cheap addiction from a monetary sense, and I already get broadband.

Enough justification. This week was a pretty good week. At present I have two main characters, plus a "short timespan" low-level character that I use when the others need to go into an instance and I don't have the time to devote to such an endeavor. My oldest character is Leonadril, a 21st level Gnome rogue specializing in assassination skills. He's pretty much run out of quests in Loch Mordan and Westfall other than the big ones with the Ogre and the Deadmines, the quests in Duskwood and the Wetlands are a bit too much for him, and the Redridge area is right on the border. Being a rogue, I do really well attacking single critters, but not so well if there's more than one unless I can sap the first one and they're both a level or two lower than me. Three is a real bad idea. Anyway, at present I'm not doing a lot of work with him until I've got the time to devote to an instance, unless I'm improving my fishing skills or going mining for ore. I have a lot of neat engineering projects I'd like to do, such as the goggles, but I need leather and Tigerseye for those, so I guess I better get mining and find someone to trade with. Leonadril is playing on the Desdren server (or whatever it's called, I can never remember).

My second character, and in many ways my favorite, is the Orc shaman Chanya, specializing in Herb Gathering and Alchemy, which I like better than mining/engineering, at least in the Barrens where there are a lot of good herbs to pick up. She's at level 16, which is amazing since I've only been playing her for a couple of weeks. She dies a *whole* lot less than the gnome, mostly because of her ability to make potions and heal herself. She's gotten the Fire and Earth elemental thing going, and that's her specialization. So far, she's capable enough to take on anything at two levels above her so long as she gets a chance to prep and nothing else jumps in on her. Fortunately, with her healing skills and decent potions (which I use constantly in combat situations), she can usually handle a surprise if her first opponent is close to finished off. I've really enjoyed the Durotar and Barrens areas, definitely a different feel from Dun Mordan with the gnome. Chanya is on Farstriders.

One big difference I've noticed is that I seemed to have to have Leonadril travel to Elwynn Forest and environs in order to really get enough quests and points to level up. While I've enjoyed the discovery elements of the game (they are perhaps the most rewarding for me), I'm a bit disappointed that if I started a human I really wouldn't be gaining that much unless I picked a much different class. At this point, all of the Elwynn/Westfall quests will be pretty much known quantities other than the newbie ones, a bit of a disappointment. Of course, there are always the Dark Elves and the Draenei, but I haven't felt the need to get Chanya into the Tauren lands (other than one quest to Thunder Bluff), and so I'm hoping that I haven't ruined any of the surprises there. I suspect that much of the 10-20 level questing will happen in the Barrens, so a bit of a bummer there, but again I still have the Undead and the Blood Elves.

My third level character is a Dark Elf tank (fighter) on The Scryers. He's just out of the newb zone - It occurs to me that Leonadril was out of the newb zone at level 3, while Chanya and the Tank didn't leave until they hit level 6 (which took about three hours to reach for both of them). That may have driven the longer development time, complicated by my learning of the game and interface.

That's enough for now. Next I'll talk about what I've learned with the interface, podcasts I'm enjoying on WoW (or not), and my avoidance of add-ons.

SouTues Gaming Session, 3/21/07

Kind of a slow week for me, at least in terms of live board game play. Connor and Jesse were both busy, and I had a gig over the weekend that prevented me from attending Tim and Carrie's game day on Saturday, so I was really ready to have some fun on Tuesday night at Chris's out in the wilds of Sherwood.

Unfortunately, the night got off to a bad start when I foolishly thought I could get out there in 30 minutes. More like 50, and as such I was nearly 20 minutes late. I think people were waiting for me, and indeed Chris had set up Warrior Knights for six. Silly me, he had mentioned this in e-mail earlier in the week, and I had been busy enough that I didn't reply back saying that WK for six on a weeknight is a Really Bad Idea.

This is not to say that WK isn't a good game, although to be honest I haven't quite gotten to the point where I have played enough to know that for a fact. This was my second game, the first being a four player affair that we played to 10 points. In that game, we felt that the time was not a huge problem, and that the game had a lot of very interesting mechanisms. And when I say a lot, I mean "a lot". Making things only slightly more complicated was that the game really needs to go to 12 points (or 15, or whatever the extended Influence Points per player number is). I think there's a great game arc here, but you'd never know unless you played to a higher total because everything takes some time to develop.

With six new players, the scaling issues were insane. We finished "learning" the game (you really learn the game through playing, as I mentioned several times during the rules walkthrough) at about 8pm, and we stopped after three turns at 10:05pm. At that point, the leader had seven influence points, technically about a turn away from a 10 point victory. By game end, turns were taking about 30 minutes, but there wasn't a whole lot of conflict at that point. In fact, I don't think anyone had attacked anyone else.

To my mind, six is not a bad number, but you have to give it a good five to six hours to play to completion, and by completion I mean to a high influence point total. But here's the problem: I blew one early assault attempt by a noble (the one that gives you an extra victory), and the other one chickened out and did a siege. The guy who had two successful assaults had a two-point-per-turn influence advantage over me. Sure, I could go attack him, but unless he'd really knocked down the walls of the city he took, I had little chance of winning a combat, and would almost certainly be in a weakened position. To make matters worse, I was on the "wrong" side of the board from the cities I was sieging early, and thought that one was a port when it wasn't. It was on the coast, so I just assumed that all cities on the coast had ports, but this one didn't. As such, I again blew a cycle. There are a lot of games that are like this (and in fact I spent a little time defending World of Warcraft: the boardgame despite it having the same problem, although there are many differences that minimize the problem such as teamwork, a relatively large number of turns, and it being more story driven rather than a game per se), but in WK I think it may really be a problem.

Obviously, the thing to do at the point where we ended the game is to go after Jacob's cities, or anyone else who took an early lead. If everyone is doing that, there's some chance that the game will balance out and no one will run away with a win, but that requires the players to have enough experience in the game to recognize the threat. It was clear that as the only person at the table who had played a game to a (weak) conclusion, my motives were suspect - never mind that it had been long enough ago that I needed the full rules refresher.

Still, I've only seen a handful of inter-player combats in two short games so far, and it's clear that without the long version this one is a set of mechanisms in search of interesting gameplay. Now that we have so many people who have played, it may be worthwhile to pull this out at Sunriver and go for a full game and see if the endgame justifies the opening moves. Right now, with them being a bit of a crapshoot (assuming you want to go for it rather than just siege right away), I'm a bit concerned that how the cards play out early has too much of an effect on how the game resolves itself.

Not a huge surprise - I'm clearly moving toward games that have more story to them at present, but I am hopeful that this one will prove to be worth the effort. However, I don't know that I'll want to devote the time that six people require, which is a problem if bringing down the leader proves to be as important as I think it will.

Thanks to Chris for hosting. Sadly, no more gaming (other than WoW online) until next Tuesday at Matt's.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

CenTues Session, 3/13/07

Game night at my place again, and again we broke the ten person mark. Relatively rare appearances were made by Matt Riley and Laurent, and Peter showed up on time! Squeaky Wheel - it just works.

I'd brought up a wide variety of games, and El Grande got pulled out on the "main" table, with Peter, Alex, Liz, Tim, and Laurent competing for the king's favor. I think that Tim and Alex tied for the win, and from what I hear it was a close game. They played pretty much all night, as at least two people had not played before.

On the teeny tiny card table in the salon (the living area in the same space), we crammed six in to play our first game of Iliad. Thank God Mike had played before, as I missed several rules in my reading of the teeny tiny type. Iliad is a hand management game where you get 10-12 cards, then add in another three cards every round. If you find yourself playing a lot of cards to win a round, you will get nowhere fast in the next round. As such, it's a good idea to not win with a ton of cards, but instead with just a few. I did not learn this lesson early on, and Matt and I went down in flames, while Chuck and Dana were edged out by Ben and Mike thanks to the sequencing of victory points on the last hand. A very cool game, although a bit long with six people. I did like the partnership version, but it may be better with four. Some felt that the cards didn't cycle enough, or cycled too much, which I really didn't understand, but I didn't think that was as much of a problem as simply using too many cards.

The other folks were still playing, and it was already nine o'clock, so we got out Zircus Flohcahti, the brilliant card collecting/press your luck game where you try to build the best flea circus you can. I myself have never seen an actual flea circus, and wonder if they still exist (I think that it was a scam/joke because you'd have a circus set up, but you couldn't see anything happen because the performers were, you know, fleas). I have the German version, which is apparently quite different than the English version published by Rio Grande, and I would get the latter version were I playing with non-gamer friends. And make no mistake, this is a great game for non-gamers. Aside from the occasional "one-card-down, draw-one-of-the-same-color" that Ben seemed to run into a string of in the third hand, the game is a scream. My favorite part is the "isn't it about time we picked on Chuck?" part. We got in three hands, and I came very close to winning two, but had the part about playing down a Gala (where you have at least one card in each suit), thinking you had to do it at the *start* of your turn, and passed on a chance I had a couple of rounds before the game ended. I am fairly sure I'd have beat Dana's 53 points, as I had 43 of my own at the end after losing a 5 card and later replacing it with a 1 (and not getting the ten gala points). Regardless, it's a game of fun and luck as much as anything else, and the fact that we played three hands in a row speaks to what a great game it is.

Thanks to all for coming, and we'll see you next week at Matt's!

Breakin' Out, Normandy Style

One of the "downsides" to retiring early is that you don't have anyone to game with most days. At least, most people wouldn't, but I'm lucky enough to have a couple of good friends that I've tended to game with on a weekly or bi-weekly basis during the day for the last couple of months. Unfortunately, one had his work schedule change for March and the other one has his own business, and you know how that goes.

So it was with great joy that I learned that my good friend Mike was willing to actually take vacation days from work to play a wargame with me. Wow. As such, I let him pick the game and he chose the AH classic Breakout: Normandy. This title was the last AH game published using the "impulse" movement system, whereby you pick an area and then do things in that area, then your opponent does the same. As the fourth in the series (which includes Storm Over Arnhem, Thunder Over Cassino, and Turning Point: Stalingrad), it was perhaps the most refined of the series, and certainly has the reputation of being the best game. There have been other games published using the same basic system, including Royal Tank Corps and Monty's Gamble, but BK:N still is my favorite if I can find six hours or so to play.

Funny story: A few years ago, Mike expressed interest in playing this game at Sunriver, and we pulled it out in the evening. After I explained the basic rules to him (and this is a game where you really need to stick to the absolute basics at first), we started playing, but it was evident that Mike wasn't really all that into it. He said that he was tired of the complexity and fiddliness of wargames and ready to just play Euros for a while. Strangely, he's swung all the way back to wanting to play more wargames, which I welcome. Me, I'm finding myself enjoying the Euros for the company, the wargames for the game as I get older, although the company is always the most important thing.

Our game, which went pretty much the whole 7 turns (it was all over but the shouting after a few impulses into the 7th day) lasted around six and a half hours, which wasn't surprising as I needed to look up a *lot* of rules, mostly of a fiddly nature. The supply rules are very confusing, using the word "supply" to refer to where you can put a supply depot (at the end of a supply line connecting to a supply source), but not discussing whether you can "supply" a unit across an unbridged flooded border. Typical AH terminology used in multiple contexts without clarity, perhaps the biggest bugaboo of the hobby. Even the errata didn't address the problem, we assumed that since such a unit was isolated that it could also not draw supply from an adjacent depot. That was about 15 minutes.

Mike has documented the game rather thoroughly, very generous for a man who was really only able to grab two of the ten VP he needed to win. While his Brits made a nice show on their western beaches, Gold never got off the ground and the US landings were a disaster, with the fortifications still intact into the third day. Mike spent a lot of time on Utah, which gave him a lot of control, but that's also where the bulk of my units are and where he gets relatively little supply. As such, Omaha didn't get cleared until turn five, and the Brits never exploited the gift of Bretteville, the most critical space for that part of the map for the Allies. Had he spent as much time and effort on that part of the map rather than Utah, he'd have broken through for sure. What certainly killed him was that we were almost always ending the day fairly early, with only five or six impulses played each day (including his air strikes, which don't advance the impulse marker). We'd start around the 1 mark, then end on the 5. Except for day six, which went all the way to seven or eight, every day was like this. It is admittedly difficult to win this way, but I still say that had Mike put his efforts into Bretteville, the game would have been his.

Regardless, I think it was an excellent learning game for Mike, and an excellent refresher for me. I expect we'll do this every couple of months or so, which is nice for us seniors...

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Tale Of Two Scenarios

Two Wednesdays playing Combat Commander with my friend Connor.

Last week, we played a game where the Americans were counterattacking into a city right after D-Day (the map that has the road running down the middle of the long axis), and I lost. I'm coming to the conclusion that it's better to put the machine guns up front instead of in the back, or at least with all of my other units. Every time I do something like this, my units in the front get slaughtered and I lose by a margin roughly equal to their VP value. Hmm. There were some interesting things going on - the scenario starts with the Germans having only one order per turn, upped by one per Time trigger, stopping at three. The game was actually pretty close, with me losing when my strong 2 leader/team/squad stack advanced across the road with the help of smoke, moved adjacent to the US forces holding the objective that I knew was worth a few points, and only then noticed that they had boxed *range*, not *firepower*, necessary for Assault Fire. Connor advanced into the space, played two Ambush cards, and I went down in flames.

This week, we played a scenario where Connor got to be the defender, meaning he could play all of those great fortification cards. Whoops, it's the one that takes place in 1941 Russia in winter and the ground is frozen, so no foxholes, bunkers, etc. He did get trenches. Without really realizing it, he put a trench in the best possible spot, a road going through the thin part in a forest that gave him an excellent view of a good arc on both ends of the board, and the main points were gained by my Russkies exiting the opposite side of the board. I did manage to wipe half of his units out, and was on the verge of moving across the board to take the lead when he drew a time trigger and ended the game (the Sudden Death marker started on the 13 space, meaning that that's when the game ends). I would have needed to get at least three squads off the board, perhaps a team as well, but I was also one unit away from breaking his entire force so I'd probably have strongly considered advancing along his trench line to melee him. Sadly, we never got that far.

I'm hoping that I'll have more chances to win when I play Mike at Gamestorm later in the month. Speaking of which, both he and I have signed up to demo/play the game on Friday morning (Mike's session) and me on Saturday afternoon (12-3pm). If you're at the con in Portland, OR, stop by and say Hi and play a game. Chances are you'll win...

The Search Is Over

I've been on a Wii hunt for more than six weeks now, and today the search finally came to an end.

But not because I found a Wii. Because I've given up.

I've put something like 20 hours into finding a game console that has less than six really worthwhile games published for it. I've looked on the web for rumors, always finding them with either incorrect information, or after the fact. I've been given false information, repeatedly, by store employees who seemingly only have an interest in jerking customers around. The final straw was hearing that TRU would have Wiis in last Sunday, then doing a search on the web to learn that it was in fact going to be the 11th, looking through the paper early Sunday to see if there was an ad (there was not, I looked through the paper several times), and then finding out that the sale was, indeed, the 4th - on the 9th.

I'm done.

Quite honestly, I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I figured that the local Freddy's would get one in at some point since late January. They've seen nothing in eight weeks, and have no clue when the consoles will ever arrive. The GameStop at the mall told me they were informed that nothing was coming for the remainder of March.

I'm sure Nintendo will still make money without me, but until I can go buy the system any time of the week at any local store, I'm not playing anymore. With WoW taking so much of my gaming time (I've put three hours into the PS2 since I got it, more like 30 into WoW in that same stretch), there's really no reason for me to put in the effort into something that was just a lark.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

SouTu Session, 3/6/07

Mike was hosting, and we had a lot of people. How many? Including Chris, who ostensibly just dropped by to leave some games he was giving away, 12. We may need a public space before much longer.

While Mike and a bunch of folks played Canal Mania for the entire night, Laurent, Tim, Dave, Alex, and myself started off with Cleopatra and the Society of Russian Subcontractors. At least that's how it felt to me. The gist of the game is that you try to build various elements of a temple using various recipies of resource cards while trying to avoid too many corruption scandals. Some interesting elements: You get bonus points for constructing more than one element, although it's hard to get that many cards as you always have to discard down to ten (or take additional corruption). Also, the deck is shuffled with half of the cards face up, so you see about half of the cards available for drafting every turn.

Because so few of us had played the game, there was a bit of downtime due to people figuring out how the various element recipies worked, but I think that with a play or two under everyone's belt the game should move along more quickly. I started out strong, but failed to realize how important it was to bid high to avoid extra corruption if you didn't donate enough to the priests (everyone has their hand in the concrete, it seems), and took a huge amount of corruption early and from then on it just went downhill. On the plus side, I made a huge payout right near the end of the game that gave me 27 points in talents (or rubles, or whatever) that gave me a clear lead, but I also ended up with the most corruption by two points and was fed to the crocodiles by somebody, probably the planning commission. As it was, Laurent squeaked by for the win.

Of course, Peter had shown up a half hour late (the new joke in the group - if the bell rings at 7:30, it's Peter), so we added him to a game of Tongiaki. Dave suggested using the partnership rules, but wasn't able to find them on the 'Geek with a Google search, so we improvised and just added the two players' points together. Didn't help us, Dave and I came in dead last, with Tim and Laurent taking the honors. I like this game, but find the graphics confusing (sometimes it's a slip for a ship, sometimes it's a beach, and sometimes the slip is over the top of the pier). While it's not consistent, downtime can be a bear - Peter had four or five turns of just placing a single ship or two on an island, then watching everyone else move ships all over the place for a few minutes, then doing his quick placement again. Snore. We also played the partnership rules incorrectly, but I have no idea what we were supposed to do and can't be bothered to look it up (too much WoW on my mind).

Thanks to Mike for hosting, and we'll see everyone at my place next week.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Of Wii and WoW

The Wii hunt does not go well. A full month of Tuesdays and Fridays have led to exactly zero successes at Fred Meyer's, and I'm seriously rethinking that strategy. While I do have a trip to the mall today to pick up some glasses (and will time it to coincide with when I think the two console stores there might know if they have Wiis coming in), I may try calling the Beaverton Fred's rather than waiting at the Barbur Blvd Fred's (which is much smaller, but also much closer). The last gasp will be this coming Sunday, when Toys R Us will release the Wii's it's been collecting for the past three weeks. Despite picking up a few games at the local CompUSA clearance, if I don't have a Wii on Sunday I am going to wait for them to be easily available, which should be May at this rate.

On the WoW front, after last Tuesday's marathon session I have settled down to a saner pace. The peak number of hours in a single day since then is 2.5, with an average of 1.5 hours spent. Considering the amount of free time I have, that's a reasonable number. My gnome rogue is up to level 15, despite me misusing just about every power it has. Apparently the idea is to Sap any adjacent critters in the area, then backstab the one that's the target, then gouge to knock it out, then go around back and backstab again, then start thinking about sinister strikes and eviscerates to finish it off. I did manage to get the Skullthumpers and Seers quest done (along with collecting teeth), and found Tinkertown in Ironforge to improve my engineering abilities and pick up another quest or two. As a bonus, I discovered the tram to get to Stormwind and there I improved my mining skills as well to include smelting bronze, tin, and silver as well as completing a quest, so I'm going to spend the next session or two either sneaking around the Silver Stream mine or just mining/smelting and building stuff to exercise those professions. I also discovered fishing, so I'll do a bit of that as well. It will be a nice chance from trying to kill Stonesplitters.

I'm also considering starting another character, but I think I'm best served by settling into a 1-2 hour per day play frequency, and that requires me to be disciplined enough to keep only a single character active. Once I hit level 20, I'll consider play on another server with another character and see how that goes. Right now I'm fairly happy with my choice, as the engineering skill looks to be very entertaining as time goes on. I may even consider joining a group just to kill off the Ogre on the east side of Loch Mordan.

Now if I could just stop planning my next play session in advance...