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20 March 2009 @ 07:12 am
My current campaign (Immortals in Chicago By Night) has passed the half-way point, and although it has its fun points, it isn't the best game I've ever run. Therefore, I'm looking ahead to the *next* game. A little back-and-forth with the players, and the decision is Shadowrun.

But which system? We all agree that after playing three previous editions, none of us is really interested in a fourth. The organization of the previous editions is a nigh-deal killer for Moe, and no one really liked it, so we eliminate those. (Plus there would be the frustration of trying to re-learn the systems . . . ugh.)

As the GM, I voted for either PDQ# (engine from our fabulously successful Swashbucklers of the 7 Seas playtest sessions) or Starblazer Adventures. I'm looking to spend less time in prep -- both mechanically and plot-wise. I saw both systems as helpers in those areas.

In the end, the group decided on GURPS 4e. We all know the rules -- we've been playing it since my Stargate-23 playtest sessions -- and it's certainly flexible enough to handle both magic and cyber without stretching.

Fast-forward to the start of my mini-vacation, when I realize that months ago, I swore that if I ever ran SR again, I'd use the Feng Shui mechanics. It's fast paced, handles the cinematic action aspects of SR that I love, and mixes high-tech with sorcery. It certainly seems like the perfect fit.

So, rather than waiting to bring it up to the gaming group like a sane person, I commence building the Drone Rigger and Gunslinger Adept archtypes (which I know will most likely be the general character types Moe and Chris respectively will play) in GURPS, Feng Shui, *and* Starblazer.

(I'm torn about doing the archtypes in PDQ as well. Upon reflection, while the system runs light and quick as a dream, it lacks some of the robustness -- and crunch -- the players expect from an SR game. An Ares Predator needs to be differenciated from a Panther, after all, and I'm not sure PDQ could do that without the stretch marks showing.)
01 March 2009 @ 06:54 pm
As many of my business associates know, I've once again played the "wear a new hat" game at work. I got roped into covering a couple of vacancies in the warehouse, which put me into the familiar position of "firefighter." It's on fire; I put it out.

First order of business was doing a major clean-up of the physical plant. The bad news: it was a couple weeks of throwing boxes around, being nitpicky, and getting covered in dirty sweat. The good news: I lost a couple inches around my waist.

That's all done, but the renovation project snuck up on us, keeping me busy for the past week with the planning and coordinating. So next week W23 is closed, and I get to dive into all those processes that let things run normally.

And after the construction is all done, we get another couple of days of  sweat -- both physical and skull -- to put everything back together.

Then? Getting ready for the GAMA Trade Show, I guess. The fun never stops.
01 February 2009 @ 09:31 am
Austin Books yesterday was excellent. I really prefer their layout to the other comic shops in town -- very open, well-lit, and the issues are grouped in logical patterns. There's one shelf to find all Warren Ellis' releases, a "movie tie-in" section, even a westerns shelf. It's a great help if you know what genres you like, but aren't keeping up with every single release.

I picked up the latest Gravel, and #4 of Anna Mercury (which I somehow missed last time, picking up #5). Oh, and the latest trade from Fables.

Fables. princeofcairo  feels the idea of turning iconic characters into mundane individuals going about their lives to be a violation of the innately bigger than life nature of the legends, but Bill Willingham tells a good tale, IMO. I almost regret the frantic pace of the "War and Pieces" collection, which covers the Fables' military campaign against the Adversary. The horrors of war are touched, but not in enough detail to really hit home. The Cinderella story was awesome.

The game group last night was really in the mood for Arkham Horror, but after C fell asleep, we didn't have the energy to spend an hour setting up the game for a three hour game. So we played Betrayal in the House on the Hill.

Betrayal we've played a bunch of times, so the poorly written rules didn't slow us down. Oddly, the game seemed short. Very short. Maybe it was the huge pile of tokens we didn't use. In fact, even after several plays, we still haven't punched out a sheet and a half of tokens.

So, our gaming tank not yet topped off, we broke out Euchre. Moe and I learned to play during the long drunken winter nights in Michigan, and taught S and K over the last couple of months. K, like me, is very analytical, and, like me, struggled with the rules. But last night she hit the tipping point, and we kicked Moe and S's butts.

Oh, sure, they got lousy hands all night. But there's no glory in highlighting the random elements!

Today is chores day -- finish off laundry, cook lunches for the week, and catch up with some work stuff. Oh, hey! A Phineas and Ferb marathon! Much better than pseudo-warriors knocking helmets.

31 January 2009 @ 08:48 am
Up earlier than normal for a Saturday. Since the "personnel issues" at work, I've been hefting more boxes than normal. Lots more, and trying to keep somewhat up with the normal stuff in the evenings.

(Not particularly successfully over the past week, but there's just one more week of one-time emergencies to get through, then an attempt at normalcy.)

So last night, instead of a normal night of socializing and game playing, Moe and I crashed in the living room -- Phineas and Ferb, a couple of Colbert reruns, and channel surfing. Exciting stuff.

Tonight, we'll hookup with the game group (gaming is never canceled, only postponed!), but a bit earlier than normal so we can set up Arkham Horror.

But first, some chores and a stop by Austin Books.
24 January 2009 @ 09:30 pm
Let's start an internet rumor.

The Avengers (as seen on Jetix) were originally created as a merchandising program for Lego. The plan was dropped when the animation grew too far from the capibilities of Lego humanoid figures, but the tag line -- "Avengers Assemble!" -- was retained.

In the original version, the tag line would have been followed by a montage of the heroes assembling whatever superdevice they needed to defeat this week's villain, from "power bricks."

The storyboards can still be found on the internet. Someone used their friends to record voices over the images, but the results were unintentionally hilarious. Usually, when the files are found, whatever discussion board they're posted on gets cries of "we should do it seriously" but they never come to fruition.
07 January 2009 @ 10:14 pm
Comedian Doug Benson looks like a guy who used to be in my gaming group, until he lost his mind. Literally.

Liam Neilson's new movie, Taken, looks good. LN, unlike some actors who headline action movies, actually looks like he could hurt someone.

Sean in Canada reports that snow storms are so common in his area they no longer qualify as topics of discussion.

Moe makes great peanut butter cookies.

If Soul Reapers are werewolves, hallows are Ridden, and vizards are Awakened, what are vampires?

I'd feel a lot less apprehensive about the GenCon situation if GAG would "take off the mask."

Coverage of the President-elect? Good. Coverage of the President-elect's children's school menu? Insanity.
04 January 2009 @ 07:23 pm
I reject your calendar, and substitute my own.

Tomorrow is the first work day of the new year. I'd fully intended to do some work over the break, and in all fairness I did. However, I spent a very necessary block of time doing nothing. Long hours of nothing. Lying on the couch, catching up on mind-numbing TV, or finally clearing out those empty boxes.

I wasn't totally lazy, of course. I got a game of AT-43 in, after spending a couple hours tweaking army lists. I cooked, one of my great pleasures. I played a support role in both major holiday meals this year, but snuck in a nifty pair of cornish hens after Christmas. Moe contributed her chestnut stuffing, this time with sausage.

I did get some work done -- a pile of random papers got sorted into to do lists. The DI queue stayed stocked. And I kept my ear to the ground of geekdom.

Speaking of geekery, there's a new Who. Thanks to angusabranson for spilling the beans. Like most Americans, I have no idea who Matt Smith, but I love Tennant's rock-n-roll Who, and Catherine Tate was a wonderful surprise. So I'm happy to trust the Who staffers.

Weather-wise, yesterday was fantastic. It broke 80F, with mild winds. We had the windows open, getting all the good air in, and all the bad air out. Today was gray, and 30 degrees cooler, with a strong wind from the north. Ugh.

Tomorrow I'll be back at the office. Letting my brain idle for the past two weeks didn't get anything accomplished, but I feel like tomorrow I'll be more focused. A lot more focused than I've been for months.

2008 hit me hard, frequently, and some of those punches were below the belt. 2009 has no guarentees to be better, but at least I've recharged my batteries a bit.

01 December 2008 @ 09:07 pm
I finally got a chance to play the much-praised Battlestar Galactica the Board Game during BoardGameGeekCon. Yeah, not pleased with the result.

I played with two experienced players, and four newbies (me being one). The two experienced players were current co-workers, and I knew I couldn't trust them on general principle. One was a former co-worker, who I knew I could trust to be awesomely logical.

The game started late, by my standards. Midnight. But I figured, what the hell, I'm at a convention. Mistake number 1.

I played Boomer. I didn't get a Cylon card in the first pass.

During the first stage, there were virtually no threats. A few crisises, but we voted them away quickly. I took out one of the big Cylon ships in one turn, with a couple of quad blasts. In fact, things were so calm, the Cylons who were active had no opportunity to do anything. At the end of the first half of the game, we were mostly convinced that there were no Cylons. However, thanks to the guidance of one of the experienced players, we'd manipulated the "levels" so the Cylon Sympathizer would be a human. The President had several cards to restore the levels, so it wasn't really much of a risk.

Then came the second round of "are you a Cylon?" Boomer drew two cards and went to the brig immediately. Neither were Cylon cards, of course, so my first order of business was to figure out how to convince the other players that I was human and get me out of the brig so I could participate.

Mistake #2.

One of the experienced players had drawn the Cylon Sympathizer card. He was obviously clean -- he'd made no Cylon-type actions in the first half, and what's the odds of the Cylon getting the Sympathizer card anyway? Then the President used a card to look at the other experienced player's cards -- and promptly announced that he was human. However, she failed to recognize that her declaration only proved that they were both one *or* the other. The logic monster agreed, and further suggested that her inabiliity to restore the levels we'd sacrificed was more evidence that she was a Cylon.

This was around 3am.

Given that I already had 3 potential Cylon cards, and was the loudest voice accusing the President and the experienced player, I wasn't getting out anytime soon. In fact, this was Mistake #3 -- waiting. I should have just left. I had no chance of fighting the voting block, and as I was in the brig, I couldn't throw around enough cards to prove I was human. So I sat and rotted.

For two hours.

My only hope was a Cylon attack that required my character's piloting skills. But the one attack that came was destroyed by the President's political manuevers.

Finally, at 5am, I left. The experienced player who had gotten the Sympathizer card revealed himself as a Cylon. So I'd sat, for a total of 5 hours, and never had a clue what was really going on. I was unable to "do" anything for the last several hours, and didn't know how I could have played it differently.

Talking to those who had previously recommended the game, they were also at a loss on how I could have salvaged the game. My takeaway: the rules are so complex that these weird edge cases are possible, that leave players screwed for multiple hours. In my opinion, that's not a good design. I don't know if I'd call it "bad design," but it isn't good.

I was tempted to try a second game, but why? There are many other games out there that won't suck 5 hours of my life, even if they're crap. BGS got it's shot, and failed.
19 November 2008 @ 11:54 pm
BoardGameGeekCon doesn't start until tomorrow, but early setup was today. So I got the Magic Bus, loaded the crew, and off we went.

Picking up the van wasn't too bad, except for the normal "what did I forget?" jitters, and trying to drive with the parking brake on. Loading and getting on the road -- easy. Fuel and bio-break -- smooth. Even the one wrong turn in Dallas was quickly corrected.

Headed over about a half hour before listed "vendor setup" start time. Tables weren't ready, so we played a couple of games. Checked in at about an hour later -- still not ready. Tables were closer to being in the right spots, but no tablecloths. Finally, around 10 (three hours after the listed setup time), the tables had covers, and we were able to begin setup.

If this sounds like I'm peturbed, I'm not. I've never been to a convention where everything went smoothly, 100% of the time. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor glitch. The only hardship was for the crewfolk who had been up since the wee hours. Post-10pm tends to look a lot like nighty-night for some.

But other than just plain tireness, the setup went clean and easy.

We handed over some donations to the prize tables, and now we've crashed for the night.

Other highlights, in bullet-point form:

* The "wind down" time between checking into the hotel and setup was a good idea, but in reality was too short and too early in the afternoon to really give anyone any real refreshment.
* Saw two rabbits around the hotel.
14 November 2008 @ 12:18 pm
Because it had to be said.