Sunday, October 31, 2010

Domination of the World: Twilight Struggle Deluxe

After a long absence from gaming I got together online with Jose for a game of the new Twilight Struggle Deluxe edition. We used the standard rules with the new expansion cards. I love TS because its unpredicable and this game was no exception. Jose played the USA and I took the USSR. The USA dominated in the late game but a last minute goof on their part led to thermonuclear war and a soviet victory.

After many games of TS I have come to the conclusion that the original game is fairly evenly balance with the soviets have a slight advantage in the early war. The expansion gives the US a few more cards to help them stick around past the early war. The other option is the Chinese Civil War variant which does the same. I probably would not play with both the expansion cards and the CCW variant since that would give the US too big of an advantage.

One more thing, the combination of Vassal and Skype makes for a great online gaming experience. I highly recommend. The new Twilight Struggle module is great as it handles all of the recordkeeping and scoring for the players.

Looking forward to seeing more session reports.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting the band back together

... this needs to happen. While the Pro Guitars aren't here yet, I've got a keytar, Rob has drums, we have about a zillionty-eight other instruments, and Michael has every song ever put in the Rock Band Store (that he likes). A veritable plethora.

So ... band. Back together. ASAP. Some thoughts

Expert Drums -- Aidan wants to get this. I suspect that's enough of a reason to get it. I don't think I'm ever going to spend much time on the drums, but they aren't expensive.

Songs -- Low Rider ... classic song. Boring as hell (guitar). Ditto Werewolves of London (keyboards). I suspect I've never heard of (or actively dislike) about 1/3rd of the songs, which is pretty typical, but the high points. Roundabout on piano? Oh hells yes. I've got to see what it's like on expert (no fail, obviously) but it kicked me off on medium without much thought. Be sure to connect to the RB store to get the free Doors pack (which may be a limited time, I've no idea).

Keytar -- It's hard to read the notes at speed, and I wish they'd give some basic information (like, say, the key the song is in, so I have a good idea how to position my hand before the expected major 5th interval comes flying in. Once I can read individual keys at speed I'll try to level up....) Anyway, I played the Keytar for about an hour or two (including some tutorials) then switched to guitar to let the kids play a few songs (and rest). The octave shifting isn't horrible, but until I mentally can associate the color band with a note it will be tough. It's also surprisingly difficult for me to see the difference between the black keys (sharps/flats) and white, but I'm getting better.

Some nice things -- nice to see that people can jump in and out during a set, and that the campaign mode won't force you to play the opening songs every time. Haven't really tried it out much though. I wish you could import your avatars/bands from RB2. (I need to pony up and export my RB2 songs, as well).


Essen 2010 Post Mortem

So... I'm back. What can be said that hasn't been said by others already? Probably not much. Here are some random observations:
  • At least for me, one full day at Essen is more than enough. Towards mid-afternoon I had the distinct feeling my brain was melting down, and I was causing a permanent lifespan reduction.
  • Essen has the best Con food ever. The Germans know how to do junk food. Nothing like a fully loaded (sauerkraut, etc.) 12-inch bratwurst to get your HP back where they need to be. Of course the 3 Euro cokes kind of sucked... but, you have to expect to get screwed when you're trapped in a massive convention center.
  • The high end luxury hotel adjacent to the convention center entrance has the swankiest, cleanest, most full featured restrooms I've encountered outside of the United States (including Tokyo). After a seven hour train ride to get to Essen, this was much appreciated.
  • By planning out my booth targets in advance I was able to get everything I wanted to buy or pick up in less than one hour, which loaded full a backpack plus another large carrying bag. Overall the Con seemed to have a much smaller crowd this year than when I was last there. I'm sure having a mental map from my previous visit helped a lot as well.
  • Next time I go, I'm going to somehow get a press pass and get in on Wednesday. Waiting in line is for suckers.
  • Germany in October is COLD. I have new sympathy for the participants in the Battle of the Bulge.
  • At least a quarter of the floor space at Essen is devoted to children's games, which is a huge area. There was also a big inflatable bouncy castle zone, making this a potential family destination... assuming your spouse will hold down the fort while you go do the other 75% of the Con.
  • The night before the Con I had dinner with three native Germans I work with, all architects and engineers. They asked me what I was going to do the next day. I thought to myself, "Hey, I'm in Germany where everyone is a hardcore board gamer. Its the national pastime, right? Surely they'll all be pumped about Essen as well!" I told them, "I'm going to the go to Essen to the Spiel board game convention! Isn't that awesome!" ...Crickets... crickets... "Ugh... you're going to do what? Where? Ummm... why? Have you ever been to Essen? Its probably one of the least interesting cities in Germany. Why not go someplace nice or fun like Heidelberg? Board gaming?" So... pretty much the same reaction you'd get from a random group of Americans. Myth dispelled.
  • Sean: I have your Power Grid promo cards.
Anyway... now to play some of these new games!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010


So I got RB3 last night in the mail. I can't speak for the other instruments, but the PRO Drums are awesome. I played for almost 2 hrs straight last night (both baby and mom where long alseep when I was done).

Now that I recently got a real drum set, this will turn into a handy tool to actually get better at the real drums. Maybe the PRO guitar will do the same.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hellenic Heffalumps

Rob and I got up a game of Hannibal:Rome v Carthage. You can read the full report over at BGG, since I'm lazy and I've already typed it up once. In other news ... ok, no other news really. I just pre-ordered Rock Band 3 (along with Pro Guitar and Keytar). That's my big purchase for the rest of the year, although I'll probably get a few more board games, too.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Back to Essen

Well... it now appears about 95% likely I'll be there again this year, though unlike the photo above the Essen I remember was dark gray and full of rain. I managed to hornswoggle a business trip to Europe during exactly the right time to enable me a day at the Con. Still, getting there will involve 3.5 hours each way on a train and a very long day.

Worth it? We'll see. Last time I finessed my way into the Con during dealer-only set up day (Wednesday) and snarfed up all the good stuff before it was tainted by the masses. This year I'll be there on Friday, which I remember as being akin to Mortal Kombat (with wall-to-wall German chain smokers in your face)!

If I see any good free stuff I can get extra copies of, I'll definitely do so.

In other related news, Master Persuader Michael seems to have sucked me back into something I swore I had forever forsaken: WoW.

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