Thursday, November 30, 2006

Child's Play

Christmas is coming round the corner, and amidst the commercialism, there is genuine goodwill in the air. It's the time to give.

The Child's Play Charity is a drive to provide gifts to children who have to spend their christmas in hospitals.

Child's Play is set up by a bunch of avid video gamers who run a webcomic called Penny Arcade. They have strong support from the gaming community, and this charity is aimed at giving gamers a chance to give back to the community. Child's Play have been running for 3 years now, but I believe that this is the first time that it has such wide international reach.

I will be donating to this charity, as I see that the Mater Children's Hospital, which is located in Brisbane, is on the list of recipients. And also, the Seattle Children's Hospital is also on this list. So friends, if you wish to give a game to children so that they can play, do go and check it out.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Another Geek Weekend...

Ah... possibly my 2nd most favourite kind of weekend there is, besides spending time with my girl, and possibly being on vacation. Which, I guess, makes geek weekends my third favourite.

I spend most of last night playing Xbox 360 with a couple friends. We tried out Gears of War, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. And I had a blast, because it's been a long while since I've played video games with friends. We'll probably get a chance to do it again, and I'm looking forward to it.

I spent most of today playing a whole bunch of games at the Mega Meetup, a day long gaming session organised by Andy. It was a much quieter event that I had anticipated, because I thought more people would have been there. It seemed like such a swell idea, to game for 9 hours with other like-minded people. But I guess many others had alternate plans because I didn't see some gaming regulars there.

But I still had a good time because I met a few new people, met some old friends and tried a couple new games. And anytime I can do those things, in that particular order, I think is a good day. I managed to table Pitchcar and everyone who played had a really good time. I also played Ave Caesar and Iliad, the latter being something that I wanted to try with more players. I also played Arkham Horror, a game that I've owned for the longest time, but never tried til today. I think I'm ready to bring that particular game to the table, now that I am familiar with how it's played.

All in all... a good weekend. But then again, when have I ever NOT had a good weekend?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Go on... Treat yourself...

I strongly, fervertly and rabidly belive that one should also treat oneself whenever possible. And I mean that in every sense of the word. Go on, treat yourself. Whether it's to a new toy, new clothes, new sensations or experiences.

Isn't that why we've got jobs in the first place? So that we can use the money we've earned to BUY STUFF!! We work to live... not the other way round. We don't get jobs just so that we can pay bills. It's so that we would be able to live better, or at the very least, maintain an acceptable living standard. And one works hard to increase that standard of living... by getting more stuff.

When's the last time I treated myself? I think it was about 2 days ago... I bought a new boardgame... and I'm going to do it later again by buying another game for my Xbox 360... and maybe another one next week.

Mmm... stuff...

I love consumerism...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back home...

It's good to be back home, especially to see my girl. I've missed her terribly in the 10 days I was gone, and despite me wanting not to leave Seattle, I desperately wanted to return.

I had a very good vacation in the US. My time in Dallas was an absolute blast, and I really enjoyed visiting with Shyam and Div in Seattle. It was good to see them again after almost 6 years, and I'm really happy that they have found a life together.

I visited a couple of game stores whilst I was in Seattle. I find that to be a good way to travel around a city, to look for some game stores and then just walk around the surrounding area. But I got rained on pretty badly that day, and it was cold, windy, wet and miserable.

But I had 2 gorgeous days of sun during my time there. And I took a short ferry trip to Bainbridge Island just to walk around and take in the sights. It was a really nice little place, and I enjoyed my time there very much. It has a small town feel, but everyone was quite cosmopolitan.

I wish I didn't have to leave Seattle. It's quite a beautiful city, and the people are very nice. It's not a touristy place, which I like. And I had some very good friends there. But I longed to come back home, cos there's always someone waiting for me here. And I couldn't bear to be away too long.

Monday, November 13, 2006

At BGG.Con... Day 4

This was the most relaxed day at the con for me... playing only a total of 2 games but I still had a great time browsing through the vendors, and also chatting with friends that I've made over the course of the last 3 days.

Twilight Games was having a bit of a clearout sale at their con store, and there were quite a number of tempting items there... Die Macher being one of them, and Viktory II being another. But in the end, I got a copy of the Age of Steam expansion designed by Ted Alspach. I also chatted briefly with Chad Ellis of Your Move Games.

Whilst in the general gaming area, I managed to locate Ted and I asked him to sign the AOS expansion for me because I wanted to make a gift of it. Mark! This one is for you...!

I also bought another 2 BGG t-shirts... one for myself, and one as a gift. Really tempted to also get some poker chips but I think I can survive without them.

I played a game of Bolide and that was quite interesting. I also played a game of Metro, which I liked very much.

I played 18 games over the whole con, but I made more friends than that. And this being my first time here in the States have more than exceeded my expectations. I've often heard unsavoury things about Americans. But having gamed with this bunch of people, I haven't met one bad one yet. Maybe it's just cos boardgamers are just generally really nice people. I could jump into any game, everyone was warm and welcoming. I guess that the way things are... boardgamers are just really cool people.

BGG.Con has been a really fun experience for me, and I don't regret coming at all. I had a blast and I wish it didn't have to end. Some people thought I was crazy to travel to the States to play boardgames, and sometimes I did wonder if it was worth the time and the cost. And it most definitely was. It was a crazy journey just getting here, and now I don't want to leave.

At BGG.Con... Day 3

I got to the con pretty early yesterday as they had a flea market in the morning and I wanted to see what games I could pick up for cheap. And boy, there were ALOT of games there for sale. I didn't see much of what I wanted, but I did pick up a DVD from Scott Nicholson and a game, Goal a Minute Soccer, for US$3. So that was alright.

I went over to the gaming room and started with Canal Mania, which I think is a very nice game. I think it sits a nice inbetween Age of Steam and Railroad Tycooon, with bits of Ticket to Ride thrown in.

I played Mission Red Planet next at the Asmodee table, which was being demoed there. I have to say, I was expecting much more from that particular game. It wasn't quite my game, and the theme, I felt, was quite thin.

I went for lunch after that and came back in the afternoon to play a game of Antike, which I taught to a couple friends. I think they liked it, though again, they tended toward building armies and taking territory. I'm of the opinion that taking territory is not the most efficient way to get a victory, and it leads to the common end game problem experienced by many people.

I had a short dinner after that, and I didn't play any other game til much later because I wanted to be in the Game Show. And I'm glad that I did take part, cos it was an awesome event! I really enjoyed that particular event, and I think it was well worth taking 2 hours away from my gaming time. I didn't stop laughing for almost the entire duration of the game. The very last question on the quiz show was "Which person, past or present, would you like to speak to the most?". Several answers included "my grandparents", "my parents" and "Reiner Kniza". But several teams knew what the final answer was (including mine), and we were all chanting "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" at the very end.

The game show was a complete blast, and the rest of the evening was topped off with pizza AND a game of Shogun.

Yes... Shogun... the new re-themed, reworked Wallenstein... And it was great! It was an absolute blast to play, and the rest of the table were really awesome people. We only played one year in the game, but by the end, we had starved the peasants badly, multiple provinces were revolting and we had to individually subdue the rioting mobs.

I also managed to play 2 games of Diamant after that before calling it a night at 3am.

I plan to get there as soon as I can this morning to get more gaming in before the official end of the con.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

At BGG.Con... Day 2

Day 1 ended really late so I decided to sleep in yesterday and have a slow start. I didn't get to the con til about 2.30pm. As always, the place was packed and there were alot of people playing. First thing I did was to approach the registration table to see if anyone turned my free game in (the one I left behind yesterday). The nice people there weren't able to give me an answer, but was referred to the game library. And I was able to find my game!! That's totally awesome!!

I stopped by the vendor area early to check out what was available. Decision Games brought a whole bunch of Lighting games, which I might pick up. And I went over to the Asmodee table, which was being hosted by Ad Astra Games. I picked up Illiad and Ave Caesar there. I also managed to get a quick demo of Honor Harrington: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator, which I remember John was interested in. And there was quite a pile of that new Star Trek fleet game... Can't quite remember the name now.

I joined in a game of The Sceptre of Zavandor because someone was willing to work through the rules AND there was an english version of the game that I must have missed yesterday. And Derk was teaching the game so I guess that was some form of endorsement. But I'm none too keen on the game, and I feel it's a little long for what it is. I'd probably give it another shot (doubtful) but I probably wouldn't buy it myself.

The game lasted a lot longer than I thought it would and it was dinner time when I was finished. So I went to dinner to the Trinity Hall, an Irish pub 2 train stops away. The food was really quite decent, and I'm glad I took the time to get out of the convention centre for a little while.

I returned late in the evening, and started a game of Ave Caesar. And I really enjoyed it. It seemed like a really simple game (and it is!) but there's quite alot of interaction between players as each action impacts on others'. Plus we had a really fun group to play with, which was another plus.

I also tried another new game... To Court The King, and I must say that I like this game very much. It's quite a dice fest, but there are multiple mechanics that allow you to manage the luck factor. And for such a simple game, there's quite alot of thinking in it.

I also bought a set of Shocking Roulette.

And for the absolute highlight of the evening... Thoughthammer sponsored 2 midnight lucky draws on Thursday and Friday night. I was out of luck on Thursday, when the number 401 was called, and my number being 402. That was just the guy in front of me in the queue for registration!! And last night, 400 was called... and I was feeling lame. C'mon!!

And then... after multiple numbers were called... 402 was called out!! Yes!! I scored a free copy of Pitchcar + Expansion!! Woooot!! Awesome!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

At BGG.Con... Day 1

The con started early yesterday morning, with the rooms being opened at 9am. I didn't get there til about 10.30am because I was still suffering a little from jetlag, and wanted to lay down a little longer. And the con didn't officially start til noon, and we didn't get registered til then.

I first played Imperial, a new Essen release, with my room mate, and a couple others. Ted Alspach taught and played in the game in us. And we got a chance to use his "Starting Player" deck of cards to determine the first player. I'm gonna get me a copy of that.

I next managed to sit down to a game of Leonardo Da Vinci, and Scott Nicholson was there too. So that was a great way to start the day, playing games with 2 boardgame notables. An interesting game, Leonardo Da Vinci has a unique resource gathering mechanic which affects the flow of the game.

I walked around the room a little while after that, and was invited to play a game of Pizza Box Football with another person. Though I didn't know much about football (American, not soccer), I wanted to give it a shot, and it's a really fun game. If anyone is interested in football, you really should try it out.

This took up more than half the day, and by the time I was done, it was dinner time. I grabbed a quick bite at the food court downstairs which served servicable food.

I tried to start a game of The Sceptor of Zavandor, but the game was in German and no one I asked seemed to know it. I put it back into the library and met a couple other players keen on starting a multiplayer game. So we brought out Formula De and had a 6 player game which was really fun... I came in at 3rd place.

Last game of the night was Railroad Tycoon, which was a fun game but it was a little difficult to wrap my head around. Plus it was late, and I really couldn't think much anymore. It was around 2am when we stopped.

A couple highlights and one lowlight of the day... At registration, everyone got 2 free games and I picked up Alhambra and Pieces of Eight. Aldie was there to meet and greet everyone and I chatted with him briefly. And thus lies the lowlight... I forgot to take my free games with me back to my hotel room so right now, it's either sitting there at the con or someone has picked up another free game. Sigh...

The other highlight was chatting with Derk at the end of the night. He recognised my name, as I had asked questions about the con earlier in the year. After finding out that I had travelled to the States just to be at the con, he gave me a free BGG t-shirt! Totally awesome!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Arrived in Dallas

Well, to ease your minds, I'm safe in Dallas at the moment. It's 9 Nov, 0040hrs here, and we're about 14hrs behind Singapore time.

I'll be going to bed soon, but just wanted to leave a note here.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's (well, it's really just later today...) event. There should be alot of games to play, and that's just a good thing.

I'll have more for you tomorrow. I need to go back to my room to pee.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

At the airport...

Well, I'm about to set off on my great adventure. I'm currently at Changi Airport, waiting to board my plane in about 10mins. I'll be taking EVA Air to Taipei, then I'll transit there to Seattle later tonight. I've got a 5 hour wait in Taipei, but it'll be alright, I think.

I've fully stocked up on geek stuff so I think I'll be able to survive the flight to Seattle. I've got 2 comics, a DS Lite, a game rule book, a fantasy novel and my MP3 player. I'm set!

Geek ho!!

A Quiz from over at Mark's Blog... Where does he find stuff like this?

10 Hard Questions from the Sorting Hat (Harry Potter)

Congratulations Ravenclaw! Yours is the house of thoughtful contemplation and strong individualism. Oh, yes, and cleverness, but not necessarily as an end in itself. You believe the unexamined life isn't worth living, and you won't simply accept something someone else tells you without due consideration. You have a horror of being herded, and you prize your powers of discernment. People who act thoughtlessly annoy you But sometimes you go too far the other way and may prize being different just to be different. Far be it from you to like what everyone else does! You can also become amputated at the neck, resisting your feelings and gut-level responses -- distrusting them or not being sure what to do with them. You may think you don't need friends. Beware of becoming the (cool-headed) rebel without a cause! Historical analogy: Emmanuel Kant
Take this quiz!

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

I'm out of shape...

Audrea and I went to East Coast Park yesterday afternoon to go blading, and now my legs are hurting. Both because I'm out of shape, and because those roller-blades are really painful to wear.

I've always had a bit of a flat-foot problem... Not severe enough to actually warrant getting special shoes, but it still causes me some discomfort. For example, I can't wear Nike shoes because of the way they are cut. And because of the way blades are made, it makes my feet, and shins hurt just by wearing them.

It doesn't help that I'm totally out of shape too, and that 30mins in, I'm totally beat and exhausted. Man, I'm weak.

But it was really fun though, just being at the beach with my girl. I really had a blast, and I'd like to do it again, and maybe the next time we can rope in more friends. Of course, the next time I'm gonna make it a point to rent a bicycle instead... which would mean my ass would hurt rather than my legs.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

SIF Award

I just finished my event yesterday, and it went very smoothly. 2 months of work, all condensed to a 2 hour event at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Thank goodness it's over. It's been a crazy time trying to organise it, and I'm just glad it went off without a hiccup. Of course, I had a lot of willing and helpful people there to lend me a hand, and I couldn't have pulled it off without them. Plus I had a good team who was with me all the way.

And the event got reported in the news today! It was in this morning's Straits Times, and it was on the Channel NewsAsia website. Here's the link: SIF Award on Channel News Asia