Tuesday, August 31

Summer Board Gaming: Maine

Earlier this summer Cait and I spent a week and a half in Maine with her family. We stayed in cottages instead of the usual camping (a concession to her pregnancy), so we were able to pack and play a wider variety of games than normal.

Ticket to Ride was the absolute breakout hit of the vacation, as befitting its “gateway” reputation. It was slightly surprising to me, since we were not a crowd that would shy away from direct confrontation in general, and none of the new players seemed to maliciously block (though there were instances of speculatively grabbing some valuable short routes, particularly the midwest north-south ones). The tension of getting everything built while not knowing how well your opponents are doing was enough to keep us engaged. It didn’t hurt that you can explain the rules in five minutes, either. We’re planning on picking up either Europe or Märklin for the holidays, though, as Cait and I are not sure how many more rounds of the USA map we’re interested in playing.

I was happy to try Nuns on the Run with more than two. That definitely improves it. We liked it well enough, though we had some trouble seeing how to win as the Abbess/Prioress. I worry that it’s a bit too fiddly given how much you actually do on each turn. The dice rolling, counting, and token placing dominates the play time.

We were subjected to an evening of Contract Rummy at one point, which I’ll admit was not the most exciting game experience ever. In later rounds it devolved into drawing cards one-at-a-time until you got all the cards you needed. My guess is that the game would be somewhat improved by jokers, since throwing wilds in there would reduce the number of times you’d need to draw to get what you needed, but I don’t see myself playing again to find out.

Friday, August 13

Wednesday, August 4

The Rise and Fall of My Chumby

I got a Chumby over a year or so ago. Internet-connected doohickey! Cute personality! Fun for everyone! I was excited.
  1. Chumby unwrapped, set up, and put on my nightstand/lamp. Numerous Chumby widgets installed.
  2. I find myself mostly just waiting for either Chuck Norris Facts or the current time, each of which comes around every five minutes.
  3. Chumby upgrade includes Pandora as an alarm! Excitement builds again.
  4. Pare down widgets to clock, weather, and news photos.
  5. Captions on news photos are so truncated that they just become pictures of random strangers I feel like I should recognize.
  6. Waking to Pandora becomes problematic, since if I don’t like the song I’ll turn it off and go back to sleep.
  7. Decide to switch alarm over to NPR! I like NPR. Choose local NPR station.
  8. Internet-connected doohickey reduced to functionality of a clock radio that I could poke for the weather / random strangers.
  9. iPad becomes source of weather information.
  10. Changing the time on the alarm is such a painful, multi-screen process that I leave it off and just use my iPhone.
  11. Internet-connected doohickey reduced to functionality of a clock.
  12. Chumby is crowding out nightstand / lamp room that I’d rather use for a tea mug. Chumby moved up one shelf level.
  13. Chumby’s limited viewing angle renders its “Night Mode” unreadable from eight inches below, such as where my head is when I’m in bed.
  14. Internet-connected doohickey reduced to functionality of a smooth piece of slate with a little rubber cloud hanging off of it.