Black Friday, weather, games

Life goes. It’s been busy — hard to believe we’re already halfway through December.

I took advantage of the Black Friday sales surprisingly little this year. I picked up an iPod Touch to replace my Samsung digital camera, at almost $50 off, which was nice. The iPod actually takes better photos, and is generally useful as well in places that have WiFi. It’s been a nice replacement for taking daily photos.
I also picked up season 11 of Supernatural (usual $10), and a few booster boxes of .hack//ENEMY ($3/each) since they’ve been out of print for years and it seems prudent to stock up now while they’re still buyable.
I also bought myself the new computer (a desktop this time) I’ve been wanting for years. My old laptop seems to be having a lot of trouble now, and I wanted something that could actually run Photoshop Lightroom (bought as part of my camera bundle at last year’s Black Friday), so it’s nice. :) Although it’s a little confusing now to sit at my desk and have 4 different keyboards and 3 different mice in front of me… I’ve typed on the wrong keyboard so many times.

We decorated our house for Christmas. Yay for garland things and big red bows!

The weather has been bizarre here lately. Friday it was freezing. Saturday morning the world was ice, and I walked to Giant Eagle and slipped a lot. By Saturday evening, the world was water, and I was overheating in even just a plain t-shirt with a sweater on top (never mind my usual winter coat). Today it’s cold again. Yay weird Pittsburgh.




Owen’s been visiting and there’s been board games.

We had a fun game of Salem where we killed all of the accused people. Also two of my three witches survived. Yay Salem. Also, I feel like the game plays better with 7 people. Everyone starts with totally equal information, and you don’t have to play weird annotation games with the shared colors. Limiting round 2 to 10 minutes and round 3 to 25 minutes also seemed to work well to keep the game moving.

We had a close game of Settlers with our new dice deck. It was a little weird (and maybe more awesome?) because the 8s came out mostly together, the 6s came out mostly together, and the 7s waited almost all for the end. This led to some interesting situations (abundance of wood early, abundance of sheep in the middle game, and sad everyone late game). It actually ended up being really close — Greg was one sheep away from winning for a couple of rounds, and I would have won had I rolled anything other than a 7 (due to having 8 cards and needing 5 of them to build my last city). So yay games.

Volunteering, Arrival, games, cards

Life goes. I’ve been purposely avoiding news and related things because I would like to not know how much of a shitshow this administration is becoming. (Although, from what I’ve heard anyway, it’s already quite a disorganized mess. So we’ll see.)

To do a (very small) part to combat the havoc this administration will wreak on the environment, we switched our house over to 100% renewable energy. It turns out it’s super easy to do… just go to http://www.papowerswitch.com, enter your ZIP code, and choose an option that fits your needs. We’re paying a bit more than normal because we wanted 100% PA-generated renewable energy (as opposed to renewables sourced from arbitrary locations), but it looks like you could actually see a discount in your bill by switching to renewable. So win/win for everyone!

We also went and packaged meals for 2 hours last Saturday with Stop Hunger Now. I don’t know what I was expecting (maybe pulling turkeys and cans out of boxes and repackaging them), but it definitely wasn’t standing in front of a funnel with 5 other people, filling bags with vitamin packets while others poured scoops of rice, dehydrated veggies, and textured soy flour into the bag. Apparently a bag feeds 6 people and contains all the necessary nutrients (thanks partially to the vitamins), and it’s probably a heck of a lot more shelf-stable than more varied foods, so that’s good?

Also on Saturday, we saw Arrival after a failed attempt at short films for the Three Rivers Film Festival (which was sold out by the time we got there). I thought it was actually a really good film… was scientifically (and linguistically) accurate, and managed to not over-emphasize the military or conflict portions of the plot. Given it was a big film, I was expecting them to have escalated the conflict more, or otherwise focus less on the linguist… but they actually did everything really well, and never took away from her and her role in the film. So yeah… really good, and would see again.

We’ve been playing a lot of board games recently, between the usual Thursday board games, hosting board games over here, and having games at Pat’s for his birthday. The recent favorites are Above and Below, which is a really fun worker placement-ish game, and Codenames Pictures, which is like Codenames but with Dixit-crazy images (kangarooasaurus!) of awesomeness. Game photos for the month are up at photos.

I also splurged on some World of Warcraft cards. I’ve been looking for a new defunct TCG to get into, and WoW had base set starter boxes (6 decks, each containing a 30-card deck and 2 boosters) at $15 each, so I got a case of them (it was cheaper than even just buying booster packs), as well as a few boxes of Death Knight and a box of Drums of War.
I actually had some fun luck with decks… the first 8 base set starter decks I opened had different decks (8 of the 9 possible ones). Of course, then it took an entire box (6 decks) to get the last one I needed. After opening 4 boxes of starters, I have at least two copies of each deck. But I also have four copies of the Paladin and Druid decks, so decks (even within a single case) seem to not necessarily be distributed evenly. (One box of 6 decks had two Paladin decks in it.)
Slowly going through packs and decks (two more base set boxes to go), but I should have a good collection to build decks now, much like my .hack//ENEMY collection. Hopefully I’ll be able to find someone to play with me… Max is starting to get back into Magic, which is very similar, and we had a quick evening of card games, so hopefully this will continue.

Also continuing work on the next People Wars expansion. Still haven’t reworked the Facet icon, but cards are coming, slowly.

Hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving!

Doors Open and life

Life goes. Things happen. Climbing and game photos from the past two months have been posted. Machi Koro seems to be a winner, but Lupin III seems to be a dud. We also broke out Concept again for the first time in a while… had forgotten how much fun that was.

We recently went to an escape room, the Imaginarium, and it was pretty fun. We got out, with not much time to spare, but it seemed we actually left a ton of puzzles unsolved since there were several locks and a door that we never got open. Oh well.

ITG has also been happening again, which is nice.

This weekend was Doors Open in Pittsburgh, where various downtown buildings open up and let you explore them (with cameras!). We went on Saturday, and saw a variety of buildings… most of them were apartments and hotels, but we also stopped in the Dollar Bank and Engineers’ Society, the former of which was really pretty and the latter of which was rather uninteresting. We also stopped in the city council chamber and mayor’s office, which included a stop in their vault that held pretty much all historical paperwork for the city.

The hotels were also interesting. Two of the three were setting up for a wedding at the time (the third may have been, on some upper floor we didn’t have access to), and seeing the William Penn ballroom all dressed up for a wedding is rather special. Also we got to see a $3000/night suite at the top of the Fairmont, which was also spectacular.
















The PSO was also on strike due to salary and benefit negotiations falling through. That was sad.

Also I am strangely obsessed with Rebecca Black’s new single (apparently she’s gotten rather good at singing) and The Sound of Silence cover by Disturbed.
Relatedly, Rock Band released the latter as DLC this past week, and we tried it today… the game rates vocals as a 3 (while rating Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger as a red 5, and Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl as a 4), which we think is utter bullshit. Yay for bad video game ratings.

I finished FFX Remaster this past Thursday, and the ending never fails to make me cry. I started FFX-2, and I’m just not feeling it, for some reason. I’ve never been a big fan of the ATB battle system, and I think coming to it from FFX’s super strategic battle system, I’m not enjoying combat at all. The music is also rather lackluster compared to X, and so many concepts are thrown at you all at once in the beginning (like dressspheres, skill learning, monster capturing) that I’m feeling rather overwhelmed. I don’t know. I guess at some point I’ll return to it, but unlike FFX, which was occupying much of my free evening time, I haven’t felt the same pull to play X-2.

Here’s weird soda flavors (corn, buffalo wing, bacon, ranch dressing, dirt, and grass) at a soda and candy shop in the Waterfront.

New Mexico and cards

We successfully had a week-long vacation to New Mexico, which included a wedding at the end.
We started by flying into Albuquerque and immediately leaving it, for Santa Fe. We stayed in a small hotel (only about 12 total rooms?) that was really nice and central… around 10 minutes walking distance from the town’s plaza.

We did a lot of exploring around the city, and also did a day trip to Taos to see the pueblo and the Rio Grande gorge.




Then it was off to Albuquerque where we had museums, views and hiking at Sandia peak and more hiking.




Oh, and also a wedding.

The hotel there was the Marriott pyramid hotel, which was really only pyramidal from the front. But it had a awesome view inside, including through the glass backs of the elevators.

Photos of everything can be found at photos.
It was overall a nice trip, and it was good to relax and have time away from work, but I’m very glad to be done with travel for the foreseeable future.

In other, unrelated fun things… I made my largest (in terms of dollars) order of cards yet. A large amount of the cost came from a single item: a case of 10,000 card sleeves ($50)… but now I’m set for life, including all of the deckbuilder games I keep getting. (My only regret here is that I didn’t have the box of sleeves for the Apex deckbuilding game, for which I bought like 8 or 9 packs of sleeves alone.)

The order included a box of LoTR CCG Black Rider starter decks, a box of L5R Seeds of Decay starter decks, a box Megaman TCG Grand Prix starter decks, six boxes of Megaman TCG Grand Prix and Grave booster packs, a box of Star Wars TCG starter decks, a box of Young Jedi starter decks, a box of VS System Fantastic Four starter decks, a Tribbles CCG box, a WoW TCG Icecrown Citadel raid deck, and the box of sleeves. The raid deck I think will be a reasonable thing to take to games night as well, since it plays four (in a 3 vs 1 format).

The order also included two board games, one of which was Machi Koro, and was the entire impetus for the order in the first place. It was on sale for $25 (deluxe version), but the shipping for it by itself was already $14. Given the rarity of my orders from TCG specialty stores, I took advantage of the situation to get a bunch of other stuff I’d had my eye on. Overall shipping on the ~48 pound box was only $20, so it was definitely worthwhile in that respect.

Now to find people to play more defunct TCGs with me…

Life and People Wars cards

I updated my photojournal today, since we’re closing in on the end of July. It’s been a rather busy few months, between redoing the deck, frequent traveling, and general work things. And we’re just getting started on the traveling part. :(

I finished and released the Juxtapositions expansion for People Wars last Saturday. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone between expansions (a year and a month), and I attribute that largely to the busyness of life… between rock climbing twice a week, board games once or twice a week, frequent rock band evenings, house work, and travel, there hasn’t really been time to work on side projects.
I consider this largely a good thing — doing things with people is always better than sitting alone at home in front of a screen working on card games — but it’s just interesting how much my life has standardized around a few activities (and a few people I see for those activities).
But it’s also sad in some ways. I have a lot of card games that have stalled for years (such as Investigations, RPG Get!, and thoughts for a “quick” multiplayer version of People Wars for game nights), and I just never can find the motivation to work on them. Oh well.
(In entirely unrelated news, my D7100 had its 10,000th shutter release recently, at the William and Greg birthday party, so that’s pretty awesome.)

In any case, People Wars now has 1584 different cards, which is by far the largest card set for any card game I’ve created (Student Wars is next with a measly 963). It also spans over 7 years of people, events, locations, and trips, making it kind of a documentary of my life as it was around the time of each expansion release.
That aspect is probably a large part of why I always want to have *some* card game in progress based on people I know… it gives my photography some outlet that isn’t just batching them to post online, and it also provides me some sort of easy look back on my life.

I’ve started work on the next set, tentatively titled Keith because I can’t think of a good word starting with “K” that otherwise fits the expansion concept.
The set is themed around “Facet” cards that can be played onto characters to specialize them. I’ve been toying with the mechanics for a while, oscillating between attaching them directly to characters, playing them as “additional” characters while the base one is in play, or just having them be standard characters with fewer traits and better abilities. For now, I think I’m going with the “attach” mechanic, but we’ll see if I change my mind here.
Here’s a sample card… the “Facet” icon is totally not finished yet.

Expansion names, opinions on mechanic, or general thoughts are always accepted and appreciated. :)

Life goes…