Tag Archives: TSP

Game Stuff And KickStarter

We picked up a secondhand Blokus a while ago, turned out there were 3 yellow pieces missing.  A householder picked up another secondhand Blokus, only missing one piece (a blue one). Turns out the game was released in two different sizes… the blue piece from the first set is adequate in the second, not perfect. We played twice (me, Oldest, and my parents-in-law – I won twice, both times close. Oldest was sad at losing the first game, and not really much happier about coming second in the second game.

We’re aiming to have a game night soon, and I a game I Kickstarted showed up in the mail, a few days ago. I still have some Kickstarted games I’ve not tried yet.

I got into KickStarter because of a game I already play. I’ve mentioned the old Star Trek CCG that I’ve been into since 1995 at the latest (it started 1994). After a while, the game got rather complicated, and the company started with a Second Edition (with backwards-compatible cards that further complicated First Edition). One of the former 2e designers, Michael Keller, posted on the boards that he was trying to publish a board game he’d designed.

The game was City Hall. It failed when Keller tried to self-publish it through KickStarter. I actually missed it that first time round. The second time round, a game publishing company tried to Kickstart it, and I umped in on that, but it didn’t meet its funding goal either, but the publisher assumed some of the responsibility for that, and they promised to try one more time.

That one more time, City Hall was paired with another Keller game, Captains of Industry.

City Hall has a political theme, which has made it a bit difficult to get people interested in. What I liked about it (conceptually, I’m still trying to get someone to play it with me), is managing a bunch of different kinds of resources (money, influence, popularity and so on), and carefully using them: spending some of one to get some of another, strategically building to benefit yourself but to try not to benefit your opponents too much, and being in competition for particular roles, and trying hard to get one, or look like you’re trying hard to get one but really trying to get someone else to take it instead.

Captains Of Industry also has resource management and building, and looks a few shades more complicated. The theme is industrial rather than political. The difficulty with getting people to play this one, is that there is rather a lot that you need to take in all at once. I think once you’ve been through it a time or two, it’ll be as straightforward as something like Power Grid, it’s just a bit daunting.

The ones that just arrived are Bomb Squad and Bomb Squad Academy. Bomb Squad, you have a limited time to program a robot to go into a building, defuse bombs and rescue hostages (and sometimes unlock doors along the way). You can’t see the cards you have to program the robot with, and have to rely on hints from other players. Reports are that the game is very immersive and intense.

Bomb Squad Academy got thrown in on the same Kickstarter, a similarly-themed game, but with different gameplay. More a card game, you are trying to defuse bombs, but you can hinder other players, and cutting the wrong wire will bring you closer to a big bang.

We opened all these games this evening, and looked through the pieces and enough of the rules to get a feel of what the games were about. There were (positive) comments about the quality of the components.

We also opened one other game I Kickstarted, but this time one I’ve actually played (once). Doom And Bloom Survival! was developed by a husband-and-wife team Doc Bones and Nurse Amy, of the Doom And Bloom podcast (they guested on The Survival Podcast a few times, and Jack promoted their Kickstarter attempt for this game over there, which is how I heard about it).

In the center of the board is a city, and you have to escape, scout some settlements around, pick up a certain amount of food, weapons, fuel, medical supplies and survivors, and return to the city to pick up your family and take them to your final destination settlement. But you can be attacked by bandits or encounter random events, that can set you back. If I recall correctly, the latter could also help you. And you may need to expend food, fuel or weapons for various reasons, and some of it is balancing between getting all that you need, and getting ahead in the game.

My mother-in-law, who was looking through the games with me, thought she might like to try this one. Better brush up on the rules (for all of them really, just in case).

Than there’s always other options. Dominion is a good one…

Some Podcasts I Like

I first got into podcasts while I was working nights in a large warehouse, doing a job that left enough brain free to listen to talk while I was doing it.

I think the first one I listened to was The Signal podcast, about Firefly and Serenity, which lasted for a surprisingly long time for a show about a TV show that lasted a season, and a movie that didn’t get a sequel. the Signal got me into Podiobooks via 7th Son.

I moved on from there into The Survival Podcast while it was still in its first 50 episodes.

Feeling the need for Christian content, I found Godcast 1000, a directory of many Christian podcasts. I listened to a few, probably less than 10. I’ll talk about one in a minute, apart from that, there’s another that I particularly remember. It was a short-lived series called “Dark Sayings Of Old“. The episode that stood out most to me, was Episode 4, “Hugh Latimer, The Sixth Sermon preached before King Edward, April twelfth, 1549″, text available at ccel. Though what particularly stood out to me was the mention of Robin Hood.

The other one that I particularly want to mention, is the podcast “The Illumined Heart“. The blurb mentioned the Orthodox church, which I had encountered in a trip to Israel, but knew I didn’t understand at all. Kevin Allen hosted the show, which contained a long string of interviews. Half of them were interviews about the (or, more often, “an”) Orthodox opinion on some topic (animal welfare, the occult, the death penalty), and the other half were interviews with people talking about their conversion stories from different faith traditions to Orthodoxy – from Islam, from the Baptist church, from the Episcopalian church, from Hinduism and Buddhism, from The Byrds – quite a variety.

It was quite a soft introduction, not immediately hard-core theology, and early on there were some things where I had no idea what they were going on about, and kind of had to set it aside and say “I’ll come back to that later, when I know more”.

After moving to America, I decided to visit Ancient Faith Radio, which produced The Illumined Heart, and I started listening to their many other shows. Well, it was less many at the time, it’s kind of taken off since then. I thought I’d list some shows I particularly like.

An introduction to basic Orthodox beliefs and practices, aimed especially at people unfamiliar with it all, the archived radio show Our Life In Christ is a good start. They keep the tone jovial, don’t really get bogged down in The Seriousness Of It All. Even when they discuss one of the hosts’ brush with law enforcement.

I really enjoyed the content put out by the late Father Thomas Hopko, particularly his podcast Speaking The Truth In Love, and in his occasional lectures. He comes across as humble, saying when something is a dogma of the church, or his own opinion, or when he may be wrong about something or other. Some speakers come across more towards the hard line of dogma, or the church position on things, and some will spend more time on a pastoral approach, and I thought Fr Tom was very careful to be not strident, and to be pastoral.

Also taking more of a pastoral approach, Fr Evan Armatas fields questions from all comers in Orthodoxy Live, which is broadcast live on two Sundays a month, and available for download afterwards.

Sermons from various parishes are available to download, I’m quite font of Homilies From All Saints, with Fr Patrick Henry Reardon. He’s very well-read, and will include references, be it to Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars, or, much to my delight, to P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves novels. I was like Captain America, “I got that reference!”

Sometimes AFR has talks from various events. I mentioned the Doxacon Orthodox Science-Fiction and Fantasy Conference in some past post that I’m too lazy to look up, but I’d like to point out that there have been some moments that particularly stuck with me in these two events:
Eighth Day Symposium – Imagination and Soul: Harry Potter, Twilight, and Spiritual Formation (“Whence Potter-Mania?” is so funny)
The World Below (particularly Systemic Abandonment).

If you’re stuck for something to listen to, give something from here a try.

Geoff Lawton

Anybody who’s interested in growing plants of any kind should be interested in Geoff Lawton.

Modern agriculture has a lot of problems: monocropping which attracts lots of pests, various sprays which kill the bacterial and fungal life in the soil, pollinating insects and so on.

Weeds are often pioneering species to help rehabilitate the soil, and so we try to kill those, too, leaving commercial products which aren’t as nutritious as they used to be, and dusty soil, which blows away with the wind, with ploughing, and washes away with rain.

I came across Geoff Lawton through The Survival Podcast, which I started listening to before its 50th episode (I don’t remember how I came across it, though). Jack, TSP’s host, came across Lawton’s Greening The Desert video on YouTube, and has since developed a friendship.

Geoff’s site now has a stack of videos, which teach how to create abundant food systems, in your back yard, or on any other property you happen to have access to.

He’ll show you how to put different kinds of plants together for their mutual benefit, techniques to build soil, to keep water on your land longer or to get it to where you want it, so many techniques and concepts that will scale to different sizes, he’ll show you many places where it’s all been put into practice.

You have to enter your email to get a password to access all the content, but he doesn’t spam you (he’ll let you know when a new video’s up). The content’s worth that extra step.

Some of the videos are kind of marketed towards those who are worried about “the coming collapse” – whether that be the unsustainable nature of modern agriculture revealing itself to be a Big Problem, the ongoing financial turmoils in the world manifesting as a sudden collapse, that sort of thing. If you’re not in that target demographic, don’t let that put you off, it’s just a bit of polish on top of information you’ll find much more valuable.

do your bit to enrich the world. The more we do, the less we’ll need to pillage it.