Urbaer.com Temporary Insanity since 1998


New to Me: Feb 2014

Super Dungeon Explore

Hmmm... it's an interesting one.It's simple and complicated at the same time.Certainly not the sort of game that you'd want to play every week, but it pretty cute  and I can see that you'd be able to bang out games a lot quicker than we managed to when we played if you played it on a semi-regular basis. I don't think I'd buy it... the minis look like they're a pain to put together for someone as unskilled at that sort of stuff (as I am).

Munchkin Cthulu

My issue with Munchkin is that in almost every game every player will get to Level 9 and then suddenly someone will get to Level 10 just because no one can stop them. While this didn't happen in our game (I went from Level 6 to 10 in one turn)... I'd think this is more of a fluke than something unique to the Cthulu version of Munchkin. Game went for about 45 minutes which is the longest I'd want it to go for.

Gah... I don't know. It's not really funny and I don't like the gameplay. It's a game I really shouldn't play.

Android: Netrunner

This is last year's hotness. Is it worth the hype? It's certainly got a lot of depth and I can see that the more you play the better you would get at it (which is what you want from this sort of game I guess). Netrunner is a two player game where one player plays as an Evil Corporation and the other player plays as an Evil Netrunner (a hacker). A lot of the terminology is very different for each player (the Corportation's Deck is called R&D and the Netrunner's Deck is called a Stack).

The Corporation is trying to fulfil thier agendas, while the runner is trying to steal them from under thier noses by hacking into the Corporation's servers. The Corp tries to protect it's servers with pieces of ICE that tend to harm the runner if they run into it. Or perhaps it's just a bluff. Perhaps the Corp doesn't have enough money to activate it. Or maybe that's what the Corp wants the runner to believe... it's a double bluff!

Our game was quite slow as I was learning to play (and I was playing as the runner, so my timidness probably made the game run long) but am eager to play again when I can.

Oh so is it worth the hype? It's a good game. I'd think there's a fair bit of replaybility just based on the base set. Want to give the runners a few more tries before seeing if I like playing as Corps more.

My Little Pony: TCG

Bit hard to tell how well this one plays. Shar had a bad deck where she couldn't get her off suit ponies up and running. We also played the double face off rule wrong, so I was revving ahead with points.  But still... it's interesting. There's a bit of head to head interaction and a bit of take that... but not overly so. It's an interesting TCG that doesn't ask you to beat your opponent to death. We'll have to crack it back open and give the cards a better shuffle at a later stage (and possibly try different Mane characters).

Each player takes a Mane pony and a deck. The 2 player starter decks have a deck for Pinkie Pie and a different deck for Fluttershy, while the theme Decks have 2 Mane ponies but only one deck. Each player then takes their problems and chooses a starting problem, shuffling the rest. Each player draws five cards into their hand. The cards in the deck are ponies, events (one shots), Resource cards (which can be attached to ponies to help them) and Troublemakers (which stop your opponent from completing problems).

To play ponies from your hand you need to be able to pay the action points required (varies from pony to pony) and have the required power of a certain colour. You can play the ponies to a problem and once you have enough to confront the problem you get points for them. You'll continue to score the problem until your opponent also confronts the problem or you confront both problems. Once that happens you have a face off (where you flip the top card of both decks and combine with the power of the ponies at the problem/s to see who gets the bonus for the face off). Once that happens the problem goes to the bottom of the deck, flip a new problem and the ponies go home. But the Mane pony can only have so many ponies at home, so if you exceed this number you have to discard some to get to that limit.

There's an interesting ebb and flow as you complete problems and face off.

The Power colours are pretty interesting. From what I can tell Pink (Pinkie Pie) is random, Blue (Rainbow Dash) is all about speed and ease of movement, Yellow (Fluttershy)  is about cheap support creatures that have more power when they act together, White (Rarity) is about deck manipulation.  I'm resisting the temptation to buy boosters... but it's not all that available at the moment... if it suddenly turns up everywhere it might be hard to ignore.

I'm hoping that I'll still want to play it in 5 years time... will be nice to play with Harley.

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Unplayed update January 2014

Unplayed as at Jan 1, 2014: 40 games

Played in January:

  • Megastar (w Sharon and Buttons)
  • Prolix (w Sharon and Katie)
  • Shadow Rift (w/Ash)
  • Coloretto (Jan 19 NSEG Meeting)
  • Eight Minute Empire Legends  (played at January 5 NSEG meeting)
  • Futterneid (played with Sharon, Ash and June)
  • Hanabi (played at January 5 NSEG meeting)
  • Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island (w/Ash and Ben and @ Jan 19 NSEG Meeting)
  • Kids of Carcassonne (w Sharon and Katie)


  • Kids of Carcassonne
  • Ascension Apprentice Deck

So I start at 0 points, and according to the Aluminium Gamer thread on BGG points are gained as follows:

Play an unplayed item: +1
Trade or sell an item (unplayed or not): +1
Give away an item (unplayed or not): +3
Add an item to your collection: -1

So on this basis I get +9 for playing unplayed items and -2 for adding 2 items to my collection (though one of those is a net zero... so not too bad).

So for January I've gained 7 out of a possible 40 points. Of course I'm also hitting the games in my collection that are either easiest to get to the table or the ones I want to get to the table first and I think it's going to be harder to whittle these down further.

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New to Me: January 2014

Some very quick recaps (impressions I suppose, rather than reviews) on the games I played in January that were new to me.

Eight Minute Empires: Legends 

With the right group a good game. With the wrong group drags far too much. After a game that took far too long, played it with a timer. Ups the stress and forces you to quickly decide on strategy while the other player has a turn. Want to see how it plays with a variety of groups and with the full range of in game expansions.


I can see why it won the SdJ. It's a game that families could play for years. It's hard to get used to though. A good quick game that seems to have plenty of replayability.


Oh! An interesting game from 2F. It's deck building... sort of. But I like it and want to play more of it. It's got a lovely supply/demand market and you need to work out when you can shift out of focussing on producing goods and replace them with your victory cards.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

Played the intro scenario 3 times now... it does seem to play longer than I want it to. I wonder how the other scenarios play. Presumably they all take about the same amount of time, but I presume there's enough variety to make each scenario feel different.


Was fun. Sharon protested that she's not good at word games, yet won. The interrupts are an interesting mechanic.


A half decent game from 2F. It's made better by using actual Candy. I'd imagine that for many groups it would require varieties of  chocolate though. Should be able to get it back to the table :)


This was a purchase for NSEG. It's a tile purchasing and laying game with a shared board. It kept reminding me of Alhambra for some reason. It's got area control and money management. Easy to teach and learn and hopefully has some lasting power.

The Kids of Carcassonne

This one was bought more for Harley than for us. It's Carcassonne where every tile can be joined to any other tile and the aim of the game is to get rid of all of your meeple (or  have the least when the tiles run out). You place your meeple on the kids of your colour when a road is finished. Harley was very interested in the game and kept putting the meeples on the tiles. It didn't really matter whose meeple or which tiles, she just enjoyed placing them. It's rated ages 4 and up, so she's got about 2 more years before she hits the age when she should be able to play it.

Ascenion: Chronicle of the Godslayer

This has been doing great guns at NSEG. I was turned off by the artwork in the past. I backed the Kickstarter for the Steam/Android port and I've been playing the Steam version. And it's quite good. Got a chance to play the physical edition and it was good enough that I picked up the Apprentice Edition (because I still like the new artwork better).

Gameplay wise, it's a deck builder with a market of 6 cards at any one time and two currencies (runes which are used to buy cards and might which is used to fight monsters). There's a certain amount of VP available (which you mostly get for defeating monsters) and once that's gone you tally up how much of the VP you got and add that to your cards VP.

Quite a varied game and could end up taking the place of Dominion


Just played a 2 player game of it, would be interesting to see how it plays with more. I suspect it would play better. But still an interesting quick card game.

Stone Age

Interesting.... it's a worker placement where the amount you get is based on die rolls and you use more workers to increase your chances. I went in with no strategy whatsoever (although I did think "oh, I should try and see how many buildings I can get), but can see that it has depth.


Surprisingly good. We played without any variants... I'd like to try the variant listed in the rules where it reverses the way that you determine the list though.


We tried out this one with the original and updated rules. Went long (with just two players). I think for a co-op I'd lean more towards Sentinels and for a deck builder probably more likely to turn to Ascension or Dominion. I'm willing to give it another try though... maybe it'd play faster when we know what we're doing.

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The unplayed

My unplayed list is getting rather excessive for the number of games I own. So I've decided to make a concerted effort to get it down by either getting rid of the games or by y'know... playing them.

So here's my list ordered into three categories...

  • 'designer' pre essen (games I got before we went to Essen last year that are vaguely considered 'designer' games)
  • Since Essen are ones that I got after Essen (either through purchase or gift)
  • 'non-designer' are basically those ones that would garner weird looks if I took them to NSEG

The third set has a lot of LEGO and DVD games... these may be harder to get to the table. The Heroica stuff I'm tempted to put together for one massive game just to epicly play it. We'll see how we go...

I knocked 3 of the games off yesterday (if you count Robinson Crusoe which we got halfway through before we had to go... I'm calling it a borderline case).

'designer' pre Essen (9)

  • Agricola All creatures Great and Small  (got a game in just before New Year's)
  • Blurble
  • Ex-Libris
  • Famiglia
  • Felix The Cat in the Sack
  • Kill Dr Lucky
  • Megastar
  • Pala
  • Prolix
  • Shadow Rift

Since/at Essen (10)

  • Bremerhaven
  • Card City
  • Coloretto
  • Eight Minute Empire Legends  (played at January 5 NSEG meeting)
  • Fische Fluppen Frikadellen
  • Furstenfeld (got a game in just before New Year's)
  • Futterneid
  • Hanabi (played at January 5 NSEG meeting)
  • Klunker
  • Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island  (played at January 5 NSEG meeting... well we got half way through it... that counts right?)
  • Steam Noir

'non-designer' (21)

  • Cranium Wow
  • Creationary
  • Desperate Housewives Dirty Laundry Game
  • Friends Trivia Game
  • Heroica: Fortaan
  • Heroica: Nathuz
  • Heroica: Waldurk
  • LEGO Lava Dragon
  • LEGO Ramses Pyramid (yes, yes... has a designer name on it... but..)
  • Mini-Tarus
  • Monster 4
  • Picture This
  • Scene It? Friends
  • Scene It? Harry Potter
  • Scrabble
  • Scrabble Dash
  • Smart Ass
  • Splice
  • Thud
  • Tribbles
  • Triple Yahtzee
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The New to Me in 2013 list

So... in no real order, these are the games that were new to me in 2013. There are quite a few and I've tried to give a quick summary of what I thought of them. But my word, there seem to be a lot of them. It's also gotten me thinking about a couple of other topics that I really should blog about at some point.

Let's dive in!

Bling Bling Gemstone Sharon and I had a quick go of this at Essen... but there were no rules and we spent more time rebuilding it (as it was on a tiny table and the peices went everywhere). I have no idea how it's different to Click Clack/Toc Toc.... apart from the fact that it sports an interesting colour scheme.

Click Clack Lumberjack It's a dexterity game where someone wins instead of someone loses. It plays quickly and has enough ooohs and ahhs in it to keep everyone involved.

Tokaido I had fun playing it at the time, but I'm not sure how subsequent plays would go. Probably need to play it with more than 2 players. It's very pretty :)

Fürstenfeld An economic Friedmann Friesse game that Sharon will play! Hurrah! Gets points purely for that. Will have to play semi-expert game with Sharon (still random start but with the 2 extra cards). But also want to try the expert mode and with more players.

Friday Played a bunch of times in a short period and then it ended on the shelf. Played it at the end of the year and I sucked at it. Will have to schedule time with myself to play it... if only to beat it on easy.

Council of Verona It's cute, fast. Have played with 2 and 3 players. Poison and Cure aren't too complicated and probably need to be in every play. Not sure how many replays this will get though.

Sushi Go! Love it. It's nearly just pure drafting. Quick, light and fun... nice introduction to drafting. Cute artwork too.

Power Grid: Australia & Indian Subcontinent Have only played the Australian side, but so much fun. Love the new mechanics and it's a lot easier to carve off sections based on player count.

Fearsome Floors A fun game for up to 7 players, but plays better at lower player counts. I enjoy it, it has a nice mix of randomness and some strategy.

Steam Park Such a great game. It looks wonderful, is easy to explain and new players enjoy it. My new gateway game.

The Witches: A Discworld Game Played twice and erm... I'm not entirely sure what to think. It's good and certainly you feel like a young witch in Lancre. Pacing feels wrong though... I'm not sure that you can tackle the hard problems fast enough.

Elevenses Played late at night with a player who really didn't want to play it, but it still seemed really good (and I've backed it on Kickstarter)

Founders of the Empire It's a pretty light game with pretty simple mechanics... really bought as something to ease people in at NSEG.

Friese's Landlord Pretty good card game, has some take that, but not so much that it's painful. Fun.

Langfinger A very simple and quick worker placement/set collection. Like it.

Glass Road It's an interesting one. Simple and complicated at the same time. I think it's the best game I played in 2013.

Carcassonne: South Seas It's better than Carcassonne! Scoring is much simpler and it's so colorful!

Gear & Piston A fairly simple worker placement where you're really trying to figure out how shoddy you can make your car (like it)

Hello Sunshine! Played with Harley, she might have been too young. Have to try again when she's in the right mood.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 4 - Nederland I don't know... is it mean? Seems like you always have a very clear winner. I'd still prefer to play Europe over this one.

Keyflower Everything in this game is interesting but for some reason it didn't grab me by the throat. I'm not sure why.

Fünf Gurken We played with too many players and my group hated it.

Innovation I like it. It's swingy but fun. Tempted to get it, but unsure of which version is better.

Corto I played very poorly... got obsessed by the train. Few things I missed in the bi-lingual rules translation, but even so don't think I really need to run out and get it.

Assault on Doomrock (incomplete) Seems fun. Played until after a battle. Not sure how replaybility will be or if an entire game will stay interesting, but will definetly check it out when it comes out.

Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas Monks trying to get books by rotating and shifting platforms. Disliked it, too much downtime and no real ability to plan during the downtime...

Continental Express An OK set collection game with nice artwork. Quite fillery.

Mount Everest K2 does it better.

Trains and Stations I went into this expecting it to be good, was disappointed. Time seemed to drag during the game.... can't work out why I didn't like it though.

Clacks: A Discworld Game Reallllly like this one. Can't wait for it to come out. Play cards to flip discs in order to make the letters of your message. Sure that sounds boring but between your turns other players are doing the same thing on the same board. It's fun!

Eminent Domain I like it, will need to get it to the table again. An interesting deck builder/role selection game.

Tsuro For a filler, it does what it does well. It's quick and no one really cares about winning too much.

Le Havre: The Inland Port Certainly an interesting 2 player game. Doesn't overstay it's welcome, but probably not something I could get Sharon to play.

Power Grid: The First Sparks Something different. It's good and probably should get it back to the table. Borrows some mechanics from Power Grid, but very much it's own game.

The Great Heartland Hauling Co. Fun quick light pick up and deliver. Good filler.

Saint Petersburg Mixed feelings on this one. It feels crushing, but I feel like I could play it better and so I want to play it again. But then I play it again and again feel like it's crushing me, but still I want to play it again. Ergh.

Love Letter Quick light deduction game. Love it.

Fish Cook It's got dice, it's got weird fish dishes, you can steal recipes off each other... It's just great. And it's cheap!

Biblios Thought I'd like it more than I actually did. It's an OK game.

Sentinels of the Multiverse I like the characters and I like the gameplay, but feels like sometimes it's more complicated than it needs to be. But it's still fun and something that I should try and get to the table more often.

Seasons An interesting in concept game (though there are some cards I wish weren't in the game). Feels very much like you just play out the cards that you draft at the start. Game can bog down when it's somewhat important which dice are used (in a 2 or 3 player game) or when someone has the ability to reroll a dice. Still an enjoyable game.

Escape: The Curse of the Temple This was the most played of 2013... with good reason. It's quick, fun and that good kind of tense. Kind of hard without the soundtrack (which limits it's plays at NSEG) but still doable.

Carcassonne: The Discovery The colour pallette and art style make this game difficult to play and to quote someone else "it doesn't feel like Carcassonne". Isn't as good as standard Carcassonne.

Lords of Waterdeep I'm aware that many many people love this game... but it's just OK for me. It just doesn't tickle me in any way. Maybe if I was more invested in the theme? Not sure...

Tahiti Another small pick up and deliver. Feels like it's over too fast?

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar Melted my brain. Did pretty well though. Interesting concept, wonder if I'll improve with multiple plays.

Fluxx: The Board Game Better than Fluxx. Stupid pegs kept popping out though. Quick. Wonder how it plays with more than 2.

Star Munchkin It's Munchkin with a sci-fi theme. I like sci-fi. I don't seem to like Munchkin. Star Munchkin changes neither of these preferences.

Caylus Interesting. Theme is pasted on (oh... I'm building a castle... sure...), but I like the concept of the action track and the Provost. Would be interested in playing again.

Portobello Market Felt quick, seemed like the game ended just as it was getting interesting.

Sutter's Mill I like the concept of choosing when to teardown, but the game didn't really do it for me. Don't get me wrong, there are other decisions to make in the game but that changing into teardown is so important that it almost feels like it's the decision which will win or lose you  the game.... Not rushing to play it again.

Shadows over Camelot For some reason people think I don't like this game... I like it more than I like Resistance because you have more reasons to accuse people of being a traitor. And I like the theme. But it's not something that I want to play on a regular basis. But this has more to do with the fact that any traitor/bluffing game is somewhat out of my comfort zone and so it to some degree feels really hard for me to do (I probably should think about this some more and discuss in a separate post). Ah... and the turns feel long and there's a fair bit of stress. But of it's type, it's the best I've played.

Rumble in the Dungeon Quick, stupid fun with a bit of strategy thrown in. You probably won't care who wins, but it's fun while it lasts.

Get Bit! Lovely game... just wish that they had have got a licence from LEGO so that the robots were figs too.

Onirim An odd one. It's an enjoyable solo game, a little too easy perhaps? Will have to play with the variants.

Cosmic Encounter A take that game where you can't really be blamed for smacking someone... Suffers a bit from the Munchkin syndrome where all the players catch up to the winner at the end. Not my style of game but really enjoyable.

Pandemic It'd be nice to win this one. Not as accessible as Flash Point Fire Rescue, probably more of a gamers game. Seems to turn on a dime though, feels like you can be going well and then within a turn you've just lost. But perhaps this is more to do with me not being as aware of the game's structure than a fault of the game itself.

Node Area control in 10-15 minutes. Nice.

Morels A good game that is hampered by having to constantly slide the cards down the table. Perhaps sleeving would help.

Copycat What happens when you combine Dominion, Through the Ages and Agricola? Copycat! It shouldn't work but it does. Makes for an interesting change... just feel that the game is a bit too short for the deck building to do what deck building should. We messed up with some of the iconography... Still it's a good game, well worth your attention.

TransAmerica Have only played the once and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Feels less complicated than Ticket To Ride and plays a lot faster. Not sure how samey it would get after multiple play throughs.

Ghost Stories Played through and beat it on easy (the second time we played). It's fun, but you expect to lose and it's interesting to see how long you can hold out. An enjoyable co-op with fun stress.

Antike More enjoyable than Navegador for some reason. I like the concept of the Rondel and the idea that you have to do different things to get enough  of the cultural personalities to win... but the fact that you basically almost have to do all the different things in order to win lets it down somewhat.

Rattus It's an enjoyable play, but I never find myself wondering what I should have done or what I would do next time.... strange...

Ker Plunk A very tense game where you need to figure out which straw to pull in order to avoid having marble(s) fall out. Edge of your seat action.

Unexpected Treasures Another unexpected treasure from 2F. A nice filler that is quick to teach and fun to play.

Power Grid: Factory Manager Nice and streamlined, plays relatively quickly. Provides enough strategy but doesn't become overly mathy (until maybe the last turn where you want to optimise the double revenue)

Small World I appear not to be in love with this game. There's too much downtime and while there's some player interaction, it just didn't hit me in the right spot. Just doesn't feel like there's enough choice... game could almost play itself.

Funny Friends (Incomplete) Seems like an interesting game, but the phone mechanics are just so damn difficult to nut out. Sharon was a bit perplexed as to why you'd want to achieve the life goals (more from a moral perspective than a rules perspective).  Game ended midway through as we just couldn't figure it out. This one is going to be hard to get to the table again.

Zombie Dice It's a push your luck. Quick, but I don't feel overly invested during other people's turns. Prefer King of Tokyo.

LEGO Champion A race game that contains bunch of minigames that are randomly determined. The minigames vary in quality, but it's a LEGO game, so after one game you work out which ones aren't to your taste and replace them with something that you come up with yourself. It's like Cranium: Legacy.

Bananagrams An enjoyable and quick word game where you compete for letters from the center (Galaxy Trucker style).

Forbidden Island played co-op with a 10 year old (I think). He was very firm that what he said were the rules, were the rules and that the rulebook was wrong. We won. Would be interesting to play with the actual rules....

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small Without the stress of feeding your people this becomes a quite relaxing game and quite a pleasent way to spend half an hour. Seems to make sleeping babies restless though (2 different plays, 2 different babies).

Agricola Just played this one twice, going to take a lot more plays to figure out how to get the cards working in tandem with everything else. But... Caverna seems to take out everything I don't like about Agricola.... but I just bought Agricola in 2013...

Citadels Like the idea of the game, but it just runs so much longer than I want it too.

Last Will Love the theme (Brewster's millions) and the artwork. Flipping the standard so that you're trying to use all of your money is delightful. Great game.

The Cave Again an interesting idea for a game, love the theme, but it lacks any real tension. Nowhere near the heights of K2.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! The only Ameritrash game in my collection... I like it but it's hard to contend with the need for conflict and the niceties of gaming (this is vague I agree... but I'll probably post something on the subject of Ameritrash and I).

Heroica: Draida A cute little LEGO dungeon crawl. Base rules don't provide much depth, but could be house ruled to something interesting (maybe trying out the Battle variant on BGG?) Has some nice microfigs though, so always good.

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Northern Suburbs Eurogamers 5 Aug 2013

It was a pretty weird day on Sunday... the day was pretty sunny in the morning followed by a blustery blow with some patches of rain. Mulled wine can really help with that though... Rather than have NSEG upstairs at Bar Nancy we had it in Bar Nancy's Salon. The Salon has two fireplaces and due to the renovations, there's a lot more floor space.

We kicked off the day with a short game (Escape: The Curse of the Temple... which clocks in at 10 minutes, real time) on one table while another table had a long game (Suburbia... which clocks in at 90 minutes). Both are great games from 2012.

Escape plays in real time and is quite stressful. It's really about madly rolling 5 die as fast as you can to achieve the result you need. Once you get it, you keep rolling for the next thing you need. Thematically you're all trying to escape from a temple while avoiding curses. It's a co-op so if someone gets stuck in the temple at the end of the ten minutes everyone looses. We just managed to get everyone out in both games we played.


Suburbia on the other hand is a lot more of a thinky game. In it each player is building a suburb in a city. Each player's suburb is affected and affects each other player's city. Each turn you buy a building from the market and place it in your city. You then adjust your income and reputation based on what it's ability is and if it triggers any of your other buildings abilities (for instance a industrial building placed next to a residential building will decrease your reputation). Then you adjust based on if the building impacts any one else's buildings (and vice versa). You then collect cash based on your income level and move up in population based on your reputation.

The most populous city at the end of the game is the winner (though cash adds to this slightly), but as you cross certain points on the population track your income and reputation will drop... it's an interesting tightrope to walk. A certain amount of tiles are removed from the game, so it can take a few games to see every tile... so it can take a while to get a good engine running.

Saint Petersburg
A new game for me was a much older one... Saint Petersburg (2004). Effectively it's a market game that has 4 phases per round. In the first phase Craftsmen are  placed in the market (who give you income), the second phase Buildings are placed in the market (which provides victory points and/or special abilities). In the third phase Aristocrats (who give you income and/or victory points) and finally the last phase provides upgrades which replace your buildings/aristocrats or Craftsmen.

One of the tricks of the game is that any unbought cards at the end of the phase move down into the second part of the market and cost a rubel less. Add to this the fact that you get a discount for each of the same card you already have. So if you are buying a gold miner (which costs 4) and already have 3, it would only cost 1. But if it's in the second part of the market it would cost you nothing.

The rules are simple, but I think the strategy is not as simple as it first appears. Often you'll end up with no money left and be run over by someone else who has used their money more wisely.

Le Havre: The Inland Port

Another new game was Le Havre: The Inland Port. It's a two player game by Uwe Rosenburg that combines Ora et Labora's rondel and introduces an interesting method to track and alter resources. Each round you can buy buildings which (generally) will alter your amount of resources. The trick in this is that the longer you wait to use the building, the more benifit you get from the building... but wait too long and you might loose the building altogether.

You can also use your opponents buildings, which also deny them the use of the building for that round... to do so will cost you a franc, but sometimes it can be worth it.

Some of the other games played were Alhambra, Cthulu Fluxx, Carcassone: The Discovery and Love Letter.

The next meeting will be on August 18 at Bar Nancy at 61 High St  Northcote VIC 3070 from 3pm.

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Turn Off OUYA!

Turns out that the OUYA is the most energy efficent console according to enervee (via Polygon). It's hardly surprising given that that it's so similar to a mobile phone.

But for no apparent reason, it has been switching itself back on after a certain period of time. The thing is so quiet though that I couldn't hear that it was on. I assumed that it must have something to do with the LAN waking it up, but no... seems that it's the HDMI waking it up.

Here's how to fix it (thanks to a forum post in the OUYAboards)

Scroll down and select "Developer options". When you enter developer options, at the very top right across from "developer options." Make sure "ON" is selected and not "OFF," so you can change settings in this menu.
Now go down to the third option. It should be "STAY AWAKE." Now uncheck this box.

And it works! Now my OUYA will be more energy efficient. If only there were some more great games to play on it!

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My new Chromebook…

So I got an Acer C7 Chromebook the other day. Sure it's not going to do very much... but y'know it's not a bad little laptop.

Initially I thought I was going to just install linux and never use ChromeOS, but it really does have some charm. It boots amazingly quickly and for just goofing off on the web it just works. There's been one time in the last few days when it decided it would  just shut down, but apart from that it has performed without fault.

To be fair though, it doesn't do very much. But this does give it a real focus. Typing on it is fairly simple. The keys react well and there's a nice clickity clack as you type. I find silent keyboards to be rather annoying. I've only really found two beefs with the keyboard. First the Right Control key feels like it's in the wrong place. I keep hitting the fn key instead which causes some odd situations when I'm trying to Copy/Paste. I suspect that the distance between the f key and the Ctrl key is slightly different from my other laptops keyboard. This may be something which I get used to.

The other issue relates to the direction keys and the page up/down keys. They're tiny (half the size of the other keys) and the page up is above the left arrow and the page down is above the right arrow. When I'm not looking, instead of moving one space to the left I'll fly up the page. Often I don't realise and just end up typing where I'm not expecting to.

I'm actually surprised that I deal with the trackpad so well. Being used to the Thinkpad's nipple (er... Trackpoint) I didn't think I'd take to the weird buttonless trackpad.

But in reality it is quite easy to use. To right click you just press two fingers at once and to scroll up/down you swipe two fingers up/down. I'm still having some trouble using click and drag (selecting text I  tend to drop the first or last letter).

The screen is quite vivid and just the right size and I like having the ability to store files locally (and on SD). It doesn't weigh too much and for what it cost and what it does, it's a good little machine.

My new favourite toy in Chrome (well I guess site) is Python Fiddle. It allows you to run Python code and see the output. As I'm trying to learn Python (using the Python tutorial) it's handy to have.

Yeah, I probably would like a Chromebook Pixel and yeah I probably will install Linux on it eventually. But for now it's good to goof off on the internet, tap out blog posts, share my photos on Google Plus and write insane little stories. And in the end isn't that what life is really all about?




Some background...

When I was younger I read webcomics. Because y'know... they were cool. I admit that I never really got into Penny Arcade. But being a fan of MegaTokyo I understand the connection that occurs between the creator(s) of a webcomic and their readers. I've read Penny Arcade every so often, but never have considered myself a reader.

And in the last year and a half, my digital gaming has dropped away. It's hard to make time for long stretches of game when you've got a young bub. I remember one night where I attempted to get through some more Mass Effect. Every time I picked up the controller the baby would start screaming (I believe she was around 7 months old at that stage). If I play a game it's usaully something that is quick or doesn't require much continuing focus.

I'm aware of Magic the Gathering (digitally it's quite good... it's quick and throwaway) and wargaming, but again it's not something I'm really involved in.

So with that said... what did I think of PAX Australia?

The Tabletop library was quite good. There was enough of a range of games to provide all tastes. On the first day Sharon and I were looking through the games trying to find a game to play. She was randomly reading out titles and said "Fluxx the Boardgame".
"That's not out yet." I said.

Apparently it was a demo copy. We played it out of curiosity and it's not that bad. It's a whole bunch better than Fluxx the card game. Has  a definite end and has some strategy that you can employ. The rules are still fairly simple to explain and turns play very quickly.

The new Lords of Waterdeep expansion was available as well, but having never played the base game, didn't get to play it. The base game is OK, but I think you really need to get into the theme.

Oh yeah, right... so the tabletop library. The actual logistics of how it worked was fine. You pick your game, check it out by having your pass scanned and provide your licence or ID. Shame the passes didn't have barcodes on them in the first place. But once you got your barcode you could also use it for the console library.

The main trick though was finding a table to play on. Once you did that though you were fine. There were even little signs you could pick up if you wanted extra players or needed someone to teach you to play a game. Very clever (believe these came from Canberra). If you were playing a known difficult or rules heavy game, enforcers would ask if you need help (we were playing T'zolkin and got asked if we needed help with it about three times).

The tournaments and structured play were dependent on how invested the staff were in the game. I played Power Grid (which wasn't tournament, just a scheduled play) and we ripped through it. Was interesting to see the difference between the original version and the modern version. Due to a lack of tables, we signed up for an Agricola tournament which was about to run. It was my first time playing but was enjoyable. Obviously near the end of the game I worked out all the things I should have done... but eh.

Pretty much everything that had been on Wil Wheaton's Tabletop was very popular. Small World, Munchkin, Ticket to Ride. Powergrid and Lords of Waterdeep always seemed to be on a table somewhere all the time as well. It'd be interesting to see an official listing of what got played.

Magic the Gathering seemed very popular. The free showbags had a starter deck in each one (though by the end of the day, the enforcers begged people to take more copies). Their display was very prominent and when the power went out (about an hour before Power Grid) it was the only thing lit up. I didn't think Magic was still so popular.

Other interesting stalls included Game Salute, who sadly/happily didn't have any of the games I was interested... apparently they had some issues getting a lot of thier games down to Melbourne. I was quite eager to get a look at Impact City.. but not to be.

Greater than Games were showing of Sentinels of the Multiverse and giving away promos with purchase. They had an auction at the end of the last day and sold everything they had left including the price list. The box of every card went for $180... far too rich for my blood.

Was interesting that the food vans were in the big top with the console and tabletop... seemed a little odd. Fair range of different cuisines... though very much in the pricing that you'd expect at showgrounds. The takeaway joints in the shopping center did a bit of a roaring trade I think.

The console area was pretty good. Unlike the tabltop, because they had a certain number of consoles, they could keep track of wether the console you needed would be available. We played the Rabbids game for Wii U... it's not very good.

The Retro area seemed good, but didn't get a chance to take advantage. The beanbag... I mean handheld area was comfy and a good place to crash out. Still not sure why the PAX merch was in the big top... I guess they didn't know tabletop would be so popular.

Only went to a few panels. Managed to get in for the opening with Ron Gilbert. Was very enjoyable, the theme was the creative process... he essentially talked through his career from his start to where he's at now.

The second day managed to get into a Geek Parenting panel even though it was full thanks to my Sharon's sad face. It raised many troubling questions, but obviously there are no hard answers with parenting... less so it seems with geek parenting. I'm worried about how much of a collector Harley will be given how Sharon and I have such a pronounced case of acquisition disorder.

Also managed to check the second last and last rounds of the Omegathon. The second last involved a tower defence game on gauntlet mode. 20 waves, last person standing would move on and then the highest scorer. Suprisingly all four of the players made it through (for one of them it was quite dicey). The winner and second place winner were well ahead of the other players in score... so it was really a fair cop.

The final omegathon was Giant Jenga. This wasn't all that suprising as there had been a cardboard giant Jenga near the tabletop area. It's incredible how intense Jenga can be though. This was a best of three and the first two seemed to go very long and had some incredible moves.

There probably would have been more panels that I would have gone to had I been able to just walk in... given the option of playing more games or queueing for a panel I was vaguely interested in... queueing never really seemed like the better option.

The main expo hall seemed.... I dunno. Nintendo and Ubisoft had very big presences as did League of Legends and World of Tanks (both of which were new to me). There were a lot of interesting Indie games and some locals like Half Brick. Nintendo was running Pokemon tournaments as well as demoing Pikmin 3, the Zelda Windwaker and  Link between Worlds.

Down the back was Laser tag and my most favourite Johann Sebastian Joust. Played two games of this, the first I ended up with one guy in front of me who cried "Behind you!". I'm no fool though, I didn't turn around... oh there was a kid there who pushed me... doh... Second time I went out almost immediately. We've backed Joust but are waiting for it to be on Windows (and for the price of Move controllers to drop). If you've not seen it before highly recommend checking out the video on thier website.

There iddn't really seem to be that many retailers though. There were a couple of comic stores, costume sellers and general geekery. But after a walk through we were pretty much done with it.

I though it being at the showgrounds was quite good. It's a shame they won't be there next year... thought they would have been able to expand to the other buildings. The Gun Show being on the weekend didn't really help though.

If you love Penny Arcade you really should be at PAX. But for us? Will we be back to PAX next year? Not sure... It'd be nice to see what panels are on before the tickets sell out. I guess we'll have to look at it next year and decide.

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Humphrey says goodnight

In the Night Garden is the worst kind of TV show for children. It's one of those that children are bewitched by and it drives parents crazy. We've been lucky enough to shield our little bub from it so far. I admit though, it's been somewhat sad that we've had to change the channel before the end of Giggle and Hoot's Goodnight Hour as she really does love Giggle and Hoot. Her bedtime is an hour later as well which doesn't help.

And it's a little sad that she doesn't have a goodnight ritual involving some beloved piece of mainstream culture... in a sense. I mean, yes it's hardly important for her to revolve her bed time with technology, but in another sense children's TV, especially when combined with a ritual (either going to bed, having dinner, having breakfast, getting home from school) becomes much more nostalgic than other forms of TV.

The Advertiser reported


After a four-year absence - and time spent in the offices of an insolvency administrator - "good old Humphrey" is returning to his former glory days to light up the small screen on community station Channel 44.

Seven nights a week, Humphrey will be beamed into living rooms to say goodnight to the children of Australia.

In the segment, which will air at 7.30pm, his mum, Mumphrey, will read him a goodnight story before Humphrey blows a kiss and waves goodnight to his friends at home.

And that's not the only time he'll be gracing our screens. He will also appear, alongside fellow South Australian children's entertainers The Fairies, as part of a daily morning block of children's TV programming branded C'Mon Kids, running from 7am to 8.30am on Channel 44.


via TV Tonight

C31 has Humphrey on in the morning, but it's competing with Seasame Street... which is quite a challenge for good old Humphrey.

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