mylescorcoran: (Default)
2010-12-14 01:36 pm
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Powerful game design

Brenda Brathwaite makes thought-provoking games.

(Thanks to Two Scooters Press for reminding me of this and pointing to this new article.)
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2010-12-06 09:31 am
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Wonderfully rude phrases from around the world

Prompted by a Boing Boing post, I spent a few minutes (okay, nearly 20 minutes) reading a thread on Reddit of "culturally untranslateable phrases". My favourite so far: "Jou mammie naai vir bakstene om jou sissie se hoerhuis te bou," translated beautifully as "your mother engages in prostitution in order to raise funds for the building materials necessary to construct a brothel from which your sister will operate."
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2010-11-11 03:12 pm
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11th November Remembered

"Dulce et Decorum Est"

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
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2010-11-10 02:21 pm
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[boardgames] Glory to Rome 3 hander

We played Glory to Rome on Sunday after a longish boardgaming drought. This time we bit the bullet and played the full game with the building powers in effect. Perhaps it should have come with a warning. "Certain card combos may be very powerful or lead to degenerate play."

Sam managed to get a sweet synergy working between her Atrium, Circus Maximus and the Merchant action that meant she salted away a tidy 15 VPs in the vault, while achieving equal first place in buildings on 14 VPs from Influence. Neither Alai nor I could even approach her score.

Final scores were Sam 37, Alai 16, and Myles 14. Ouch!
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2010-11-01 01:34 pm

Mapcrunch

I'm sure you'll have seen this elsewhere, but Mapcrunch's webpage let's you teleport around the world. It's fascinating.
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2010-11-01 11:52 am

Halloween at the new house

Yesterday was our first Halloween in the new neighbourhood. We took the kids out trick-or-treating last night after much heroic preparation by [personal profile] sammywol getting costumes and treats together.

She also managed to get a pumpkin carved. )

Thanks Sam, for your Trojan efforts. You did a marvellous job.
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2010-09-30 10:10 am
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[boardgames] Glory to Rome and Ticket to Ride: Europe

A couple of recent games I forgot to post about. The first was Glory to Rome, the building Rome from hands of Whist game, which I won nicely with Myles 10, IK 7, Sam 6 and Alai 3. Not a lot in the vaults in this game, probably because a couple of stone buildings went up in the first turn and absorbed the blue cards for the first half of the game.

The other game was that old reliable Ticket to Ride: Europe. Sam had the hardest time in this, with a combination of short, cramped routes that meant a lot of low scoring lines. Alai did nicely with the longer lines and lucked out on his tickets, keeping and making all three from his only extra tickets draw. I didn't do so well, drawing three useless tickets, keeping one and failing to make even that. Final scores were Alai 66 + 59 = 125, Myles 54+10+40 = 104, and Sam 53 + 50 = 103.
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2010-09-15 10:01 pm
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[roleplaying] Fascinating interview with the 'grandfather' of roleplaying

I listened lately to a podcast at Clyde Rhoer's Theory from the Closet, which was an interview with David Wesley, retired US Army Major and the man Dave Arneson said originated the idea of roleplaying. Wesley was an active wargamer, both board and miniatures, who ran a formative game called Braunstein, a creative mixture of Diplomacy-like negotiation, LARP and seat of the pants free-forming.

The interview is long, over 1 hr 20 mins, but fascinating, as it ranges from the wargaming scene in 60's Minnesota, the creation of roleplaying in its nascent form, and the pitfalls of self-publishing back in the mimeograph era. A wonderful document from the days before D&D.
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2010-09-10 09:28 am
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[meme/biography] 15 albums indelibly engraved

THE RULES: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. [Silly Facebook tagging stuff deleted. Recycle as desired.] No particular order...

Stan Getz - Captain Marvel
Queen - Jazz
The Police - Synchronicity
Tom Lehrer - That Was the Year That Was
The Consort of St. Sepulchre - The Consort of St. Sepulchre
Rush - Moving Pictures
Kate Bush - The Dreaming
Eurythmics - Be Yourself Tonight
The Sundays - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Cocteau Twins - Blue Bell Knoll
Dead Can Dance - Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
Morrissey - Viva Hate
The Cure - Disintegration
Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
Apparat - Walls

Well, mine are in a roughly chronological order as best my memory supplies. Heavily weighted towards formative years it seems.

(as inspired by http://www.facebook.com/ecryder)
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2010-08-31 02:21 pm
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[boardgames] Way-late Battle Line post

Played Battle Line with Alai nearly a week ago now, while Sam was hard at work on the EBS newsletter.

After some (re-)familiarizing ourselves with the rules we got stuck in, and soon had most of the flags under contention. I forgot the rule about playing no more than one Tactics card more than your opponent, but despite that, and drawing some very nice Tactics cards to boot, I got my ass handed to me in the end. The final score was 5-2 in Alai's favour.

Nice game though, with hard decisions in the classic Knizia style, and lovely components from GMT. Unfortunately the lovely components include cards printed on such heavy stock that riffle shuffling is almost impossible. It will have to be the smush 'em about in a heap method next time.
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2010-07-26 10:30 am
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[boardgames] Revolution 3-hander

Late with the report from Sunday two weekends ago, but three of the usual suspects got together and played the new boardgame Revolution from Steve Jackson Games. It's an area majority and blind bidding game where you dole out your bids (force, blackmail and gold) secretly to up to six of the 12 upstanding or not so upstanding individuals in the town and secure their support in the coming revolution. Force beats any amount of blackmail, and blackmail trumps gold in the same fashion. Your starting tokens (one force, one blackmail and three gold) aren't guaranteed in the second and subsequent rounds. The people you strongarm, blackmail or bribe provide tokens for the next round as well as influence in one of the board's seven areas, and a certain amount of 'support', the game's actual victory points.

So we got stuck in without too much difficulty and cursed our groupthink when we bid on the same roles (ties are discarded), and giggled happily when we outbid the others or snapped up a good role for a song. The endgame did seem to be a bit prone to kingmaking and sudden reversals of position, but I enjoyed it. Of course that may have been because I won. Final scores: Myles 182, Sam 162 and Alai 121.
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2010-07-04 10:24 pm
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Dara O'Briain at the Marquee

I went to Dara O'Brian's 95th gig of his current tour on Friday night. His second night in Cork, and apparently his biggest crowd of the tour. Go Cork!

Sam and Irishkate and I arrived together and were surprised to find our seats didn't exist. It seems that the row we'd bought had got lost in one shuffle or other. The confusion was sorted out easily enough, and with an upside. We got much better seats.

My workmate Anthony arrived a little later, warned in advance of the cock-up, and we settled into the painfully small seats.

The seats didn't matter; Dara rocked the tent.

It was an excellent gig, with a good mix of Dara working from the audience call outs in the first half and longer, prepared stuff in the second half. I'm damned if I can remember many of the jokes, and a lot of it really was 'you had to be there' stuff, but I'm pleased to say that I did get to contribute my Heimlich manoeuvre story to the tapestry of Dara's show.

Great stuff, in short. If you ever have a chance to see O'Briain live grab it. He's ace.

Also: a night out! When was the last time I had one of those?
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2010-07-04 03:02 pm

Watched in silence

I watched Isao Hashimoto's video piece "1945-1998" in silence. It's that sort of piece.
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2010-06-30 04:10 pm
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[boardgames] Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers 3-hander

We played a game of Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers with Alai on Sunday evening. It was about the most patchy board I've seen, with many more voids than normal and long tendrils of wood and meadow spreading out in all directions.

Sam was rather screwed by a meadow passing to Alai when he pulled the shrine tile, and new meadow opportunities didn't really ever approach that meadow she lost. Lots of rivers scored and some respectable fishing huts for once.

Final scores: Alai 136, Myles 127, Sam 93.
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2010-06-25 12:03 pm
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[boardgames] Bohnanza 4 hander

Had the gang round on Wednesday night for boardgames, and after much faffing about on my part we settled on Bohnanza. Played quite quickly, lots of good trades, and those bloody garden beans moved around a lot. Final scores were Alai 15, Kate 15, Myles 16 and Sam the victor with 18.
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2010-06-17 10:12 am

[boardgames] Atlantic Star

We played Dirk Henn's Atlantic Star last night with Kate and Alai. It's a set collection game with a ocean cruise theme. Each round you decide to take a card or play a set. The card choice of one of four face-up cards, with rising prices the further 'up the chain' they are. You can also pay to sweep all the cards. There's a conversion of the values of the cards into victory points depending on where you place your completed set on a grid and the score of that particular set (a cruise).

I found the game extremely frustrating, with each round's play essentially unimportant to me until it became my turn, as the other players' actions (choosing cards and sweeping the cards) meant that I couldn't really plan on having any given card available to me. The additional restriction of a varying hand-size limit depending on which cruise you were attempting combined with sometimes painful randomness of the cards coming up just left me cold.

As you can see from the scores, I did abysmally and that certainly coloured my feelings about the game. It's hard to be objective as I didn't ever feel I had a chance to win. The game play seemed to be continuous rounds of disappointment as needed cards disappeared and draws failed to provide the needed replacements.

Final scores: Alai 54, Sam 46, Kate 35 and Myles 18, and that with Alai managing to confuse one cruise for another and being forced into a cost-ineffective incomplete set for one of the cruises.
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2010-06-14 12:16 pm
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[boardgames] Attika 4-hander

We had Alai and Kate round on Sunday night and pulled out Attika to give it a go with four players. Sam got off to a poor start but caught up nicely. We had lots of blocking and all the land tiles were out, and it went down to the wire in the last round.

I won by building out, but Sam closely behind with three streets ready to finish on the turn. Kate was a turn behind due to a shortage of cards.

Good game, especially for me obviously.
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2010-06-07 12:57 pm
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[boardgames] Incan Gold

We had a real gang of friends round to play boardgames last night. Ivan, Suzanna, Irene and Ian were down from Dublin, and we met them in Fota for picnic during the day. A good time was had by all I think.

In the evening after the kids were off to bed Ivan, Irene and Ian dropped round to join Alai and Kate to make a total of seven for games. I scratched my head and poked around until I found Incan Gold, which plays up to 8.

After explaining the rules and making our tents we got down to play. Quickly Sam established a pattern of cautious play, making for the exit once a reasonable number of points were available. This was only partly because of her dramatic reaction to the revelation of the Snake cards. The first game ended Myles 24, Kate 22, Ian 21, Sam 18 and Alai, Irene and Ivan all on 14.

The second game was initially lower scoring, with piles of hazard cards coming out early, but the artifacts were more plentiful later on and the final scores were Alex 31, Sam 25, Ivan 21, Ian 17, Irene 17, Kate 15 and Myles a pitiful 13.

Good fast games, made better by lively table talk and poor Pedro the bearer, who in our stories ended up set on fire, turned into zombie, trapped in a landslide and eaten by spiders.
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2010-05-19 03:15 pm

[roleplaying] Silly randomly generated super heroes

I'm reading a new roleplaying game called ICONS. It uses random generation of superpowers (if so desired) and I got the urge to roll for powers. I don't have my dice at work and...
Well to cut it short I found this QuickKwiz link and generated super powers for my game group. It was a slow lunchtime.

Powers beyond mortal ken lie within... )