All posts by punmanbowler

43 year old actuary living in Central Illinois. Have loved the Twins since I was a kid. My other hobbies include board games, moderate video games, reading, and remaining hopeful that someday the Twins will win another playoff game.

Tabletop Times: The latest hotness for Christmas

So, this title just sort of came to me.  I'm gonna roll with it.

Someone asked earlier for Christmas gift ideas for their board gaming friends.  So, here's a more comprehensive list featuring some of the most talked about games on, or as it's referred to on the site: The Hotness!

Fair warning, I have not played all of these, but I've heard many good things.

Codenames: Pictures - One of the biggest games from last year has a new trick to it. Instead of trying to get your team to guess code words, now they need to select the correct pictures that your clue directs them to.

Terraforming Mars - While I have not played this, I have heard many good things.  Develop the right atmosphere, water, and living conditions to terraform Mars to just the right condition and earn the most points while doing so.

Mansions of Madness (2nd edition) - A wonderful mansion exploration game in the vein of Betrayal at House On The Hill, but with the Cthulhu mythos instead.  Very fun and adeptly controlled by the app that you'll download when you get the game.

Love Letter Premium Edition - An expanded game of Love Letter (now up to 8 players) with nicer cards and heart tokens.  I'm planning to pick this one up for the kiddos.

Scythe - A personal fave, if you can find it.  Set in an alternate universe 1920's Europa, this area control game has a touch of combat and lots of strategy to keep you busy.  Expansion Invaders From Afar is due out any day now.


Old Favorites - Games that are not new this year, but still really fun and highly recommended:

Castles of Burgundy - This is often called a "couples" game.  Great for 2-4 players, and my personal all time favorite.

Viticulture Essential Edition - Great game about making wine in Italy.  Essential Edition gives a little bit of the Tuscany expansion (the best parts).  Pour a glass of your favorite wine and enjoy!

Lords of Waterdeep - Fun worker placement game set in D&D town of Waterdeep.  Send warriors and mages on quests and develop your underground empire to take over the city!  (and earn victory points)

Terra Mystica - Deep and immersive area control game.  Take control of 1 of 14 races (6 more in the expansion) and expand across the land.  Earn Victory Points!

Splendor - Quick and easy game about growing you gem empire and earning prestige from the nobles.  Plays in about 30 minutes with 2-4 players

Forbidden Island / Forbidden Desert - These are pretty similar games.  By the same designer as Pandemic.  Find the treasures before the island sinks, or find the parts to you airship before the sandstorm takes over.

Pandemic - The ultimate classic co-op game.  Race across the globe to fight diseases, build research stations and find the cures.  If looking for a longer more immersive experience, check out Pandemic Legacy Season 1 (Season 2 out next year)

This is just the start.  The wide world of table top games is ever growing.  Check out your friendly local gaming store to see all the wonderful options they have in store!

The Games We Play: PunMan Goes to Geekway

Geekway to the West is a 4-day Board Game Convention held in St. Louis around the middle of May.   This year I got to go for my second time in three years.  I logged in playing 16 amazing games over a three day span (I didn't stay Sunday).  I wanted to give a quick rundown on the games, along with a few good stories.


Forbidden Stars -  Shouldn't have started with this one.  Very complicated.  Ended up stopping early.

XCOM: The Board Game - Neat cooperative game controlled by an app.  Dug this one, would like to play it again.

Medieval Academy - Dull card drafting game where you are trying to be ahead of everyone else on a number of tracks.

Boomtown Bandits - My biggest surprise.  Western Themed game where you are trying to rob different locations.  You roll dice in place of gunfights.

Good Cop, Bad Cop - Fun, quick little hidden role deduction game.

Viticulture - Incredible worker placement game about building a winery.  Love this game.

Commissioned - Cooperative game where you play one of the apostles spreading the gospel throughout the Mediterranean.  Much better than you'd imagine a Bible game to be.


Twilight Imperium - Supersized complex 4x game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate).  We played 6 hours and didn't finish.

Mysterium - Dixit meets Clue.  One player is the ghost trying to give the other players clues as to whodunit.

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia - A touch of dark humor surrounds this worker placement game.

Codenames - Party style game where two teams compete to see who can find their agents (with clues given by the spymaster) first.

Spyfall - Party style game where most of the players are trying to find the spy, and the spy's trying to figure out just where he is.

Scythe - Favorite game of the con.  Not yet released.  Another 4x ish game set in alternate universe 1920's Europe.  Incredibly intricate with neat components and interesting mechanics.

Tsuro - Simple game about staying on a path longer than your opponents.


La Granja - A mix of Agricola and Stefen Feld.  You're a farmer looking to create the best farm.  Neatest part is the cards which each have four possible purposes.

Blood Rage - War, confrontational game set in the last days of humanity in Norse Mythology.  Fun albeit imbalanced.


Scythe was the most sought after game of Geekway.  The kickstarter was last fall and it's due to be out this summer.  They were giving away one copy in the Play and Win contest.  However, EVERYONE wanted to play this game.  There was a sign up sheet, and it's only by the grace of my friend getting there early on Thursday that we got on the list high enough to get a chance to play.  The bummer is that the friend who got us on the list, didn't get to actually play the game.  Highlight of the game was the main creator of the game (Jamey Stegmaier) coming by to ask how we liked the game and if we had any questions.

The game plays on a set map, there's five factions that all have a specific starting space.  The map is a hex grid and the hexes have different resources like wood, metal, oil and food.  There's also villages that help you produce more workers.  You have a character piece that can engage in battle, visit the factory (which gives you some extra abilities) and have encounters (which give you a choice between three different benefits.)  There are also mechs that you can deploy that also help in battle and carry workers to different locations.  The action is dictated by the player boards, all of which are different for each player.  (All players have the same actions though, it's just different how they work together).  The board is split into 4 sections, each section with a top action and a bottom action.  The top typically give some benefit, whereas the bottom allows to you to a special action using one of the four resources.  The goal is to end the game with the most money.  The game ends when someone has played 6 stars on the accomplishment board.  There are several different ways to get a star, including winning combat, completing an objective, achieving maximum popularity or power, and deploying all your mechs, among others.

Now, it could be all the hype.  This game has been pretty hyped up for a while, ever since the box art was released.  So there are some pretty high expectations.  However, I loved playing this game and have not been able to stop thinking about it since.  The world created here is really cool, and the mechanics of the game all work together in such an intricate way.  I want to play all the different factions and I even want to try the solo player automa version.  I'm kicking myself for not backing the Kickstarter campaign, as all of the Collector's Editions are sold out.  I'll take the base version at this point.  I'm even considering doing the print and play to get to play it sooner (yes, there is a free print and play version linked on the Stonemaier website).  I predict that this game will be on many "Best of 2016" board gaming lists.

One other quick funny story happened when we were playiing Spyfall.  In the game, there is one spy, and the rest of the players have a card with the name of a location.  The spy is trying to figure out the location, the others are trying to find the spy.  This is done by asking questions.  My friend asked me the first question in one game, "How did you get here?"  I answered "I drove." He immediately called me out as the spy because the location was the Holy Crusades.

The con was a great time of board games, friends, and fun.  The Play and Win gave us motivation to try lots of new games, and everyone was super friendly, especially the people who came and taught us Twilight Imperium and Scythe.

If you haven't been to a gaming con, I highly recommend them.  If you're in ST. Louis (Rhu) I definitely recommend Geekway, and get your tickets early.  There's also the ever popular Gen Con in Indy, Origins in Ohio, BGG.Con in Dallas, and many many others.

What have YOU been playing lately?

My GeekwayTop 10:

  1. Scythe
  2. Viticulture
  3. La Granja
  4. Boomtown Bandits
  5. Mysterium
  6. Blood Rage
  7. Euphoria
  8. XCOM
  9. Commissioned
  10. Good Cop Bad Cop

The Games We Play: Christmas Gift Ideas!

Ah, it's that magical time of year when we rush to the mall to get our favorite gamer friend/spouse/child/grandma a new game to unwrap on Christmas morning.  Philo asked me to put together a list of some good game ideas.  I haven't played all of these, but I've heard good things.  Anything with a * is one I have not played.

Party Games:

Codenames* - One of the hottest items discussed on Dice Tower and BoardGameGeek is this great new party game.  Played in teams, one person on each team is trying to get his teammates to pick the right cards, which lay in a grid of 5X5.  It's Password, but better.

Spyfall - Played with a group of people, everyone draws a card.  All the cards except one have the name of a location on them (same location), one cardholder is the spy.  The people with the location card have to root out the spy by asking questions to the other players to make sure they know where they are.  They spy is trying to figure out where they are, without looking too out of place.

Say Anything - Similar to Balderdash, the reader asks a question, everyone else writes down their answers, then everyone tries to reason out what everyone put.

Telestrations - Think telephone meets Pictionary.  First person gets a phrase, they have to write down a picture of what that phrase is, next person looks at the picture, and comes up with a phrase.  The weirder the phrase, the funner this gets.

Wits and Wagers - Trivia games are fun, but it's much more fun when people don't know the precise answer, but try to get close.  Ask a question, everyone writes down their answers, then make bets as to which one is the closest to the right one.

Modern Day Classics 

Ticket To Ride - One of the first modern board games I played.  Still great fun, especially with kids.  Start the game by selecting tickets with route between two cities.  Next, collect cards to be able to place trains on the various train paths to complete your route.

Settlers of Catan - Build your settlements and cities and roads in between.  Gather wood, ore, grain, brick and sheep (baaa) to build more and more and get to 10 points first!

Carcassonne - Classic tile laying game.  Draw a tile, place it on the board, place your meeple to get points for your roads, castles, cloisters, and farms.

Dominion - The game that started the term "Deckbuilding."  Build up your deck with money cards, kingdom cards, and victory point cards.  Also has about 10 expansions you can add to it.


Shadows Over Camelot - Co-op game in the setting of King Arthur.  Search for the holy grail, Excalibur, and Lancelot's Armor.  Fight the black knight and the deadly dragon.  Fend off the Picts and the Saxons.  And most of all, watch out for the traitor in your midst.

Pandemic - The world is a sick place, and it's your job to find the cure.  Race across the world searching for the cure, while treating the deadly diseases.  Also, for a longer, deeper adventure, try the new Pandemic Legacy*

Forbidden Island / Forbidden Desert - Putting these together since they're similar, but still very different.  You're working together to find four items and get away before the island sinks, or the desert overtakes you.  GREAT with kids


Dead of Winter* - I've been pining to play this for over a year now.  I don't know much about it other than it's cold outside, and zombies are lurking around every corner.  Everyone also has their own agenda, but still trying to work together

Mice and Mystics - Wonderful adventure game that is kid friendly.  Your kingdom has been taken over, and to escape, you and your friends have been turned into mice.  Escape through sewers and basements and kitchens.  Has a campaign mode that takes you through an entire story.  Also has many expansions.

Descent: Journeys In The Dark* - I've heard a lot about this one.  Plays similar to M&M, I think.

Personal Favorites - These are games that are my personal favorites, but sometimes tastes can differ, so just warnin' ya.

Castles of Burgundy - The first time I played this, I knew I had to have it.  You're placing tiles (buildings, mines, animals, castles, etc) on your board (estate).  You get points, bonuses, goods to ship, etc.  Great for couples (so I've heard)

Trajan - Same designer as Castles.  A Mancala-esque mechanic drives this game.  You're trying to ship goods, influence the Senate, gain territory, all in the name of getting victory points.

Terra Mystica - Area control game that doesn't involve fighting.  Take control of one of 14 races (20 with the expansion) and stake your claim.  Build dwellings, trading posts, temples, strongholds and sanctuaries.  Send your priests to the cult track, and build your engine to build the most magnificent empire ever.  (Judged on victory points)

Lords of Waterdeep Worker Placement game in a Dungeons and Dragons setting.  You play a Lord of the city of waterdeep, recruiting warriors, rogues, wizards and clerics to do your bidding, to gain favor and.... wait for it.... victory points.

Splendor - You are a gem collector trying to be the best and most prestigious in the land.  Buy mines to help you get more gems which help you get more gems and points.  Incredibly quick to learn and teach.

These are some of my favorite and most talked about games right now.  Let me know if you have questions about any other types of games.


Also, what have you been playing lately?

The Games We Play – PunMan goes to Gen Con


So, After I missed Geekway to the West earlier in May due to the challenges of fostering a 2 year old, my lovely, beautiful, generous wife brought up the possibility of me going to Gen Con.  I, of course, jumped at the opportunity and got to finally partake in the mega event.

I had a blast. I got to try out 18 never-before-played-by-me games, and got a good luck and countless others.  I also got to meet one of my favorite podcasters, Tom Vasel (who heads up the Dice Tower network).  Overall, it was a very fun  event, and I'd like to talk a little bit about it.

Thursday: I arrived on Thursday a little after noon.  Since hotels were pretty rare, my family and I took our pop-up camper to a Yogi Bear Campground east of Indy.  I stuck around in the morning to help set up, so I was a little late getting to the Con.  Once I got there, I had the pleasure of waiting in Will Call for my tickets.  It wasn't nearly as bad a line as people made it out to be.

Next, I checked out the main Exhibit Hall.  This area is MASSIVE.  Hundreds of game publishers, artists, gamers and cosplayers filled this hall.  Really, I could spend all 4 days just in this main exhibit hall.  The first thing I wanted to do was meet Tom Vasel, so I hauled buns to the other side of the Hall and said hello.  Once that was done, I could properly play games.

Note: I'll go over many of these games very quickly.  I plan on going into more detail about them every Monday in my CoC segment: Punman's Board Game of the Week.

The first game I tried out was Bottom of the Ninth.  A fun dice based baseball sim that I'll be checking out more once it's out for purchase (you could only pre-order it at the Con).  Next, I tried Lords of Vegas, which I liked enough.  Then on to Kingdom Builder (by the same guy that made Dominion). I ended my day's journey in the Exhibit Hall with Queen's Architect (which I shared about on Monday).  This was my favorite game, and I wish I could've played it more.

After the Exhibit Hall closed, I strolled over to the Event Hall and tried out a new game called Phoenix Covenant,which was billed as a combo of Final Fantasy Tactics and Magic the Gathering.  This was probably my least favorite game of the Con.  I was taught by the designers and I still felt like I was missing information about how to play the game.  I think it's still in beta stage, so hopefully the end product will be better.

Friday: I started in the Event Hall again and began with a full game of Five Tribes.  I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about this game ever since last  year's Con.  Lemme tell ya, it's earned it.  If you have a chance to play this, I recommend checking it out.

Next, I wandered the Main Exhibit Hall again, and tried out a game called Noir.  It was an interesting detective themed card game.  Next, I tried Mice and Mystics, which had been on my list for a while.  I have a feeling the theme of this game would be very fun for my kids, though I did not get into it as much as I thought I would.  Next I tried a game called Shear Panic about moving sheep around a pasture and getting points.  I thought the kids would end up liking it (and I was right), so I ended up buying it.  To close out my adventures in the Exhibit Hall, I tried Kennerspiel Des Jahres 2014 winner Istanbul.  Another top-notch game that's near the top of my wish list.

To end the day, I got in line for a live taping of the Dice Tower podcast.  500 event tickets were sold for an event held in a 400 chair room.  And I only had a generic ticket, which meant I was lower priority.  I made friends in the generic ticket line, and met this lovely couple who was celebrating their 10th Anniversary.   They talked about how they got a bunch of games really cheap by playing up their special day.  Anyway, I got to play a few rounds of a new game called Spyfall.  The Dice Tower folks have been raving about this one, but it didn't click with me very well.  After our game, the event line picked up, but even after everyone from that line was in, our line did not move.  We were concerned.  The husband of the Anniversary couple went up to talk to a guy to see what was going on.  A moment later he was waving toward us, but he stopped me and said only his wife could come with him, and we realized he had used the "It's our Anniversary" ploy on the ticket taker (son of a...).  Anyway, I did finally get in, and I had a blast watching the podcast live (they sang again!)

Saturday:  I arrived Saturday morning in the same parking lot I had been going to all week.  As I got out of my car, who should parked next to me but a colleague from work, who incidentally told me about the lot.  So we walked in and checked out Star Trek: Five-Year Mission together.  To my surprise, I really enjoyed the game.  Next, I played a game of Catan: Junior, mainly to get a Mayfair ribbon (demo 5 Mayfair games, get a coupon for 50% off), but also to see if it was something my kids would like.  Then I hopped into a five-player game of Steam.  Fun, deep, heavy game about building rails and shipping goods in Germany.  Good stuff.

After that I headed to one of the surrounding hotels to check out the Stonemaier Games room.  Stonemaier is based in St. Louis, and one of the designers (Jamey Stegmaier) is a friend of a friend.  They are also known for their kick-ass Kickstarter projects.  I played Viticulture, which, like Five Tribes, had been at the top of my want-to-play list.  After that, I stuck around and got to play a game that has yet to be released, Between Two Cities.  I also got a look at a big buzz game called Scythe, that has many gamers drooling already.  (The artwork has workers in a field while mechs are battling in the background.)

Finally, I wandered the Event Hall and found a pickup game of Village (2012 Kennerspiel Des Jahres winner).

Sunday: Sunday was Family Fun Day, so after packing up the camper, we got there (kinda late) around 2 pm.  We only had a couple hours to check out the Exhibit Hall.  I showed the kids Shear Panic, and we ended up buying it with our 50% off coupon.  To finish it off, my son and I played Krosmaster Arena, which was fun, but a little steep in price.

Verdict:  I knew going in that Gen Con was big and boisterous and even expensive.  However, knowing these things helped me temper my expectations.  The spectacle of all the new games, the costumes (many of which were awesome), and the crowds were awesome to behold.  This was a bucket list thing for me, and I'm so glad I got to experience it.  I got to play a boatload of games, some brand new and not even available yet.  I got to meet designers for many of the games (one from Finland), and I got to do it on my schedule since I was by myself.  However, next time I go, I'll be bringing a friend or two.

If you love board games, role-playing games, cosplaying, miniatures games, magic the gathering, people watching, etc, check out Gen Con.

So, that's been what I've been up to, what have y'all been playing?!

The Games We Play – Summer Rollin’

So, after going for a couple months with barely playing any games, I've been rollin' in games the last couple weeks.

No Thanks - This is a pretty simple card game. There are numbered cards ranging from 3 to 35.  Nine are randomly taken out of the deck.  The rest are placed face down.  Everyone gets 11 tokens.  From the face down deck, one card is laid face up.  The starting player decides whether they want to take the card, or say "no thanks" and put a token into the pot.  The goal is to end up with the least points. Tokens work as negative points.  Eventually, there are enough tokens in the center to make it worth taking the card, or someone runs out of tokens and HAS to take the card.  It's a fun, simple quick game.

Dread Pirate - Now, I know the name sounds great for this game, but it's painfully dull.  It's a roll-n-move game, where the goal is to get the most loot from four different ports and a center island called Dread Island.  There's not a whole lot of depth to this, but the components were awesome.  It had a cloth map as the player board, and heavy pewter ships to sail around on it.

Love Letter - quick short game that sounds girlier than it is.  Goal is to end up with the highest numbered card.  Each card has some text to determine what you do.  Pretty quick and fun.  Excited to try out the Batman version someday.

Trajan - This has been by far the heaviest game I've played lately.  By designer Stefan Feld (his games have somewhat of a cult following).  This game uses a mancala mechanism to determine what action you take on your turn.  There are six different action types, and the way you weave them all together can get you points in a variety of ways.  This has really climbed up my favorites list.  I bought it used on BoardGameGeek, but I also play it on

Agricola - I recently got this game used, and I've gotten it to the table 4 times in the last month.  I've heard that you either love this game or hate this game.  It's a worker placement game where the goal is to build the best farm.  You can build up your home, build pastures, plow and sow fields and grow crops.  There are also occupation cards and minor improvement cards, but I haven't gotten around to introducing those to the kids yet.  I also play this occasionally on

La Isla - I got this game for Christmas.  On Father's Day, I finally got enough pull to get this to the table.  It's another Feld (like Trajan), but the theme and mechanics are a mismatch.  The theme is very light - it's all about capturing long extinct animals on a mysterious island - appeals very well to kids.  The mechanics are complicated enough that kids either don't get it, or it just isn't fun.


I'm starting to get into a groove.  It feels good.  I just found another game group that meets on Fridays.  They do mostly D&D type stuff, but the last Friday is always board games.  I'm anxious to try it out next week.  I've also been hitting a Wed lunchtime group at work that plays mainly 7 Wonders, but is open to other games as well.

In the meantime, when I can't get to the table I also tend to play a lot of games online. - Quite a variety of games.  The ones I play most often are Castles of Burgundy, Trajan, Alhambra, and Agricola.  It has a ton of other games too. - Similar to boite, this one has quite a few games, some of them simple abstract type games, but there are a couple bigger, weighier games on it.  My favorites are Russian Railroads, Castles of Burgundy (I play on both sites), Can't Stop, Way of the Dragon, Stone Age, and Just For Fun

My username on both sites is "joepunman" in case anyone is interested in starting a game with me.  Both sites are primarily correspondence type sites, where you make a couple moves a day, and just take your turn when you get a chance.  You can play live, but I rarely do.

So, if you get bored watching the Twins or got voted out of Survivor, come try  your hand at an online board game.  Or let me know what else you've been playing lately!

Game 64 Recap – Cardinals 3, Twins 2

A friend and I decided to head on down from the Twin Cities of Illinois (Bloomington Normal) and catch my favorite team visiting his favorite team.

The game started out like a lot of Twins games have this year with the Twins getting a quick run in the first inning.  Then there was a rain delay, followed by a lot of non-Twin scoring, followed by another rain delay, followed by a quick run that I didn't even realize scored (I forgot there was a runner on when the second rain delay hit).

The biggest mistake Gibson made was an 0-1 pitch to Mark Reynolds in the third, causing two runs to score.  The Twins never could really figure Wacha out.  The rain was enough to take Wacha out, but the Twins wasted opportunities in the last innings.  First there was the Buxton caught stealing.  You apparently do not run on Yadier Molina.  It wasn't even close.  Hunter got a single on the next pitch.  So instead of 2 on with 1 out, it was 1 on with 2 outs, and Mauer popped up to end it.

In the ninth, the twins had two on with Escobar batting.  I thought we possibly had a chance, and was really hoping for Buxton to have another shot at the plate.  Instead, Escobar hit a long fly ball to deep right field, but it wasn't deep enough.

Overall, I had a great time at the game.  I got to visit Ballpark Village, which is a pretty cool area to hang out before the game.  We were walking through the Fox Sports Midwest Live bar area, when a guy stopped me and asked me to play this (rigged) trivia game with a Cards fan.  It was broadcast on the big screen in the bar.  He asked me questions about the Cardinals (How many titles, when Busch opened), while he asked the other guy what state the Minnesota Twins played in.   I was a good sport and let the other guy win, and I got a free beer out of it (Me of all people).  I don't drink beer very much, but they had an apple ale and I was happy to partake.

Our seats were on the third base side, where the wall tilts toward the outfield.  We were in the second row.  (that is to say there was a row of seats in front of us, and in front of those seats was the field)  It was awesome.  We had a couple balls come relatively close, but none close enough.

It's the second game in a row that I've had to endure a rain delay.  (My previous game was my encounter with Denard Span at a Cubs/Nats game in 2013).  At least we had ponchos and stayed relatively dry.

During the second rain delay, my friend and I walked over to the Twins dugout to see if we could see any of the guys.  The only guys still there at this point were Mauer and Buxton, sitting together, talking about God only knows.  Maybe it was a passing of the torch.  Maybe they were discussing Clash of Clans, who knows.  It was a cool thing to see, and it's the closest I've ever been to those guys.

All in all, it was disappointing to see them lose, but it was fun to have great seats and to see our guys up close.  Here's hoping that they can get some revenge on the Cards and start up their year ending 98 game winning streak.  We'll just have to settle for 132-30.

Father Knows Best – overwhelmed

Sometimes I wonder if we made the right decision

Two weeks ago, we accepted a foster placement of an almost 2-year old girl I'll call Dakota.  We thought it would be a good fit.  She was just a year older than our youngest.  Our other kids have demonstrated friendliness and acceptance to a couple of other foster children we've accepted in our home.  I would say that we've had good experiences with previous foster children in our home (granted, they were for very short amounts of time)

Just before Dakota came to live with us, we worried about whether or not this placement would actually happen.  A part of us was worried that something would prevent us from having an opportunity to care for this girl.  We were very excited at the possibility though.

A lot has changed in just a month.

Dakota is a very high energy child.  This means that she's constantly on the go, and eats and poops A LOT.  Her curiosity gets her many places that she shouldn't be, and I feel like we're constantly correcting and redirecting her.  All the while trying to remember her past and why she came to be placed into care in the first place, realizing that you need to have a different approach to children from foster care than you do your own children.

It has been incredibly difficult, and it's taking a toll on my wife and I.  My wife has been bearing the brunt of the work, spending most of the day with her, trying to homeschool our other children in the meantime.  Luckily the older children are somewhat independent and able to do much of their work on their own.  By the time evening comes along, I try to be intentional about helping out by taking more direct responsibility for Dakota and let my wife have some time to herself.

Dakota does not like bedtime, and would much rather play and run around in her room.  Once she finally does go down, we try to get as much sleep as we can, taking the same approach that many take to caring for newborns - sleep while she sleeps.

I believe it has less to do with her being a foster child, and more to do with the fact that she's nearly 2.  I'm hopeful that we can move past this and come to a new normal with her in our home.  However, our sanity seems to be taking a hit.

We're going to a family camp this weekend that we scheduled months ago.  I'm not sure how it's going to go, as both my wife and I are very concerned how Dakota's presence is going to affect the family dynamic.  If you pray, please pray for our family and for Dakota.  If you don't, well, keep us in your thoughts anyway.

How have you been feeling overwhelmed lately?


The Games We Play

To be honest, I didn't like the name "Getting Dicey."  Going with this much simpler, to-the-point title this time.

So, I have not played many games this last month.  Weird.  It's like I had something else occupying all my time.  Not sure what that was, but it may be the subject of my Father Knows Best coming next month.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little bit about Gaming Conventions.  Last year I went to my first gaming convention: Geekway To The West in St. Louis, MO.  IT. WAS. AWESOME!!!

I've been getting heavy into board gaming over the last 2-3 years, ever since my friends introduced me to games like Ticket To Ride, Shadows Over Camelot and Talisman.  When they told me about Geekway last year, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.  It was.  I played so many new games like Euphoria (Build a Better Dystopia), Coal Baron (great worker placement game), Firefly (based on the TV show - shiny!), and also got to play a 60 player game of Werewolf.

This year, I'm going again, but I it's different for a number of reasons.  First, I know what to expect.  Last year, I really didn't know how to get into games when I didn't know anyone around.  This year, I not only know how to use the Meeple "Players Wanted" signs, but I also know a bunch more people going.  Also, after listening to several episodes of The Dice Tower over the last year, I'm aware of many of the latest games to get a lot of buzz.  Games like Mysterium, Dead of Winter, and XCOM the Board Game.

My favorite part of the convention is the Play and Win.  There are about 50 games (3 copies of each) that you can play throughout the weekend, when you do, you put your name into a drawing to win a copy of that game.  Last year I won a copy of Tzolkin: The Mayan Calendar and its expansion.  I already had the base game, so I sold the base for cash and bought Terra Mystica instead.  Oh... and you get a free game just for registering.  Last year I got a roll-and-move game called Bakong that I thought was mediocre, but my son sure liked it.  They did have some gems last year, and this year I'm hoping to get King of Tokyo of Sons of Anarchy.

If you love Board Games, Conventions are a great way to try a bunch of new stuff out, or get to those long drawn out games that you have a hard time getting to the table.  Conventions are becoming more and more popular.  To find one near you, I suggest looking here, or try Board Game Geek.

What have you been playing lately?

Getting Dicey

This post is taking the place of Pixel Perfect Memories.  Because I want to incorporate board games into this feature, I want to come up with a better name.  So far, "Getting Dicey" is all I got.  If anyone has a suggestion, please share.

I plan on using this feature to share about new board games I've played and heard of, and to speak about the board game hobby in general.  Video games are still welcome, though I will probably not share much in that department

There's a gaming group that gets together here in Bloomington Normal every Wednesday.  I'm lucky to get there about once a month (because I'm busy with kid's activities).  This Wednesday, kids' activities were cancelled, so I took advantage.

First game was played was Russian Railroads.  Despite the name, this is nothing like Ticket to Ride or Railways of the World or other such train type games.  It's a medium-heavy Euro worker-placement game.  You start with 5-6 workers and place them on areas of the main board in order to advance your own board, which represents your personal railways.  You have three rails you are trying to develop, along with an industry track.  Each one can produce points in different ways, and it's up to you to maximize the value among the tracks.  It's somewhat difficult to explain, and the themeing is not intuitive, but I love this game.  I've been playing this for a while online, and I really want to get the home version, but unfortunately I don't see myself getting this to the table very often.

Second game we played was Betrayal at House on the Hill.  In this game, you're a character in a B-type horror movie, checking out an old abandoned house... on a hill.  The twist is that halfway through the game, the "haunt" is revealed, and one of your characters turns into the villain.  From then on, it's the traitor vs. the rest of the players in a battle of good vs. supernatural evil.  The game has several different scenarios, which gives it great replayability.

Finally, we played Formula De which has since been redone as Formula D.  In this game, you play a race car driver, pretty simple.  It's a fairly straight forward roll-and-move game, but each turn, you have the choice to shift up or down, which changes what die you roll, and with it, how far you can go.  There are turns which you'll have to stop with one of your die rolls, or suffer consequences.  We played a much simpler rule set, and I would like to play it again with the real rules.

Next time, I'm going to preview my trip to Geekway to the West in St. Louis May 14-17.

What have you been playing?

Skillet – Hero


Back to live videos.  It loses something in video form, but I was actually at a concert to see this performance, and it blew me away.  The rising platforms were just awesome.  That and I like the dual male and female vocals.

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