Archive for Personal

The Birth Of My Daughter

Hi, blog.

It’s been a while. I missed you. My absence is mainly due to the tiny human whose first day on the planet I intend to write about here. The tiny human who has led me to make Facebook posts such as this:

Well, the kid’s new word is “Why?” Which is cool, it opens us up to deeper conversations.

“Why?”

“There is no why. Your search for meaning in a random, uncaring universe will prove absurd and unsatisfying.”

“…cracker?”

“You learn quickly. Sure.”

And this:

Noises from behind me:

*CRASH*

Lindsay: “Why would you do that?!”

Baby: *crying*

…I’m not turning around.

And who, in the past year, has changed quite a bit:

Baby!

We took Bradley Method classes leading up to the big day and we were very hopeful of having a natural childbirth. I highly recommend the classes, should you ever find yourself in a situation where the appearance of a tiny human is eminent. Even if you don’t care about natural childbirth (though I think you should) they’re still a good place to meet other parents and they’re full of helpful tips and, more importantly, terminology. So if the doctors all of a sudden start talking about Cephalopelvic Disproportion, you know what the hell is going on.

My wife was diagnosed with Gestation Diabetes (though she hasn’t had diabetes before or since pregnancy) so there were concerns about the size of the baby and about stillbirth. Our due date was December 27th 2013 and it was stressed to us that, due to the Gestational Diabetes, that we induce labor on the due date if the baby hadn’t come yet. Unfortunately, the holidays are a very difficult time to schedule having a baby. Because many of the doctors had the week off, and a number of people had already scheduled c-sections/induction in order to make the cutoff to get a tax break for having a child during 2013, we were unable to get in until the following week (and since we actually had a medical reason and our due date was that week, I was… not pleased).

We went in to the birthing center to start the process on the morning of December 31st, 2013. My wife’s aunt, who is a midwife, had flown out for the event and having her there was amazing. They started the Pitocin drip early that morning and the labor started. I don’t remember much of that day. There was a lot of waiting with the baby… not coming, as the contractions became more and more painful with the increased dosage (apparently contractions caused by induction are more sudden and therefor more painful than natural labor). I remember counting in between pushes and going too fast and getting reprimanded by the nurse and my wife’s aunt. I did what I could, but I think I was mostly in the way during this part of the process. But I was there, even if I was feeling rather helpless.

That night she finally got an epidural for the pain. She had wanted to avoid that because they make pushing more difficult and increase the likelihood of a c-section, but after fifteen plus hours of labor she couldn’t take the pain anymore. I remember her crying and telling me she felt like she had failed. But I know I couldn’t have taken it for that long, and she went through all of that without pain relief for all those hours for the health and safety of our baby. I’d have probably given up after about ten minutes, so I can’t imagine her being any stronger or having any more love for our child. That’s not a failure.

Around 1pm the next day, the baby was finally starting to crown, but her vital signs were starting to fall. Our doctor finally recommended a c-section. Up until this point, she had been incredibly supportive of having a natural birth and when we had outlined our birthplan the nurse had even said to her, “These are your kind of people!” This was really important to us, because we had heard a lot of stories about doctors pressuring patients to have c-sections or be induced because it fit their timetable or other, personal reasons that weren’t about the safety of the child. Even though we didn’t end up having the birth we had planned, I feel having a doctor who supported and respected our decisions had a hugely positive impact on the situation because, if nothing else, we took her at face value when she said we would need a c-section. Natural childbirth isn’t for everyone, but being able to make an informed decision is.

They wheeled my wife into surgery and I followed. She squeezed my hand and told me she was scared. The sheet went up, and a few minutes later they were holding up our baby. My wife couldn’t see what was going on, so I told her how beautiful our baby was and how she was waving her arms and I could see her breathing. I was lying. They were desperately trying to resuscitate her. It must have been less than a minute, but it felt like an eternity. Finally she started crying. I would find out later that the meconium (that’s not a pleasant link) had been released during labor and it had filled up her lungs.

I stuck with Isabel (the baby) as my wife remained to get stitched up. Isabel had a fever, which is a pretty scary thing in newborns since they basically don’t have an immune system yet. She had to go on intravenous antibiotics immediately so my first few minutes with her were spent holding her down and helping nurses get the needle in. After a few busted veins it finally took hold in her right leg. A few different people (nurses, doctors? I wasn’t really keeping track of who was around me) commented that this must not be my first. I guess most new parents freak out a bit more instead of helping to stick their new baby with needles. It was sort of an odd moment. I remember wondering if I was really just cold and dispassionate, which is very possible. But I think I mostly just considered everything a bonus after she had started breathing.

After they got the IV in and everything calmed down there was this really clear moment when she was lying there looking up at me and we made eye contact. I didn’t say anything, I just smiled and I remember thinking, “So, this is who was in there.” It was strange, I already felt like I knew her. We had named her almost immediately after finding out she was a girl. I remember the other couple in our birthing class asking us what names we were thinking about and we replied, “Isabel.” And they were like, “That’s… it?” She had always been Isabel. I used to poke her mother’s belly until she kicked so she could give me a “prenatal high five.” (Her mother loved this). And now, looking back, all I can think is, “I didn’t even know her yet.”

Eventually they brought my wife in and I gave her the baby so she could hold her and try to feed her. Other than nurses lifting her to move her, I made sure my wife was the first person to hold Isabel. It seemed like the right thing to do after what she had been through.

They had to take her out before long for more post surgery stuff so I stayed in the nursery with the baby and let her fall asleep on my chest. I’m not sure how long we stayed there, but it was amazing. This tiny human sleeping on me after such a rough day for her. Eventually I had to get up and put her first diaper on her so I could take her in to see my wife again when she was ready.

We ended up staying in the hospital a week. I hardly slept. I went with the tiny human for every procedure, every diaper change, every… everything. I *think* my wife let one of the nurses take her for something during one of my brief naps, but I’m still not sure. The whole week was a blur, living in a hospital out of a duffle bag, eating nothing but turkey sandwiches and drinking this strange concoction of sprite and cranberry juice they kept on hand for women in labor. I remember the nursing staff, they were amazing. They reminded me of what it was like to work in a good school, where your coworkers are like family, every day is full of surprises, and everyone is putting the needs of the kids (or, in this case patients) first. Not all schools are like that. Most aren’t anywhere near it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this birthing center was an exception as well, but we were lucky to have it and its staff.

Oh! We also got in the local paper, since Isabel was the first baby of 2014. Our very own new year’s baby.

I’m not entirely certain why I’m sharing all of this. Maybe somebody will find something here helpful. Maybe I can look back on it later. But I said a long time ago I would write a post about this and, since I’m going to try to get this blog going again, it seemed a good place to start.

The Importance of the Local Game Store

LGS

These days, brick and mortar is a tricky business. A store doesn’t just have to compete with the guy down the street, but also with a sea of online retailers who have less overhead and can cut their costs. We have already seen the effects of this on the book trade with Borders closing its doors and Barnes and Noble hurting, but what about the game trade? Is this a good thing, giving players access to our games with a click of a mouse at a reduced cost? Is brick and mortar going the way of the dinosaur?

These are complicated questions, but I would argue that the friendly local game store is essential to the gaming industry and is here to stay. And this is particularly true for miniature games. Games have something to offer that books never will: community. While the individual games can be sold in bulk and discounted by online retailers, online retailers will never provide you and your friends with a table filled with terrain. They will not provide a place for you to find new opponents. They will not stay open late for your tournament. (Now, this isn’t to say there is anything wrong with online retailers. They provide an important service to the industry which I may point out in another post someday, but this post is about brick and mortar, and online retailers will not REPLACE brick and mortar.)

By definition, games require other people (well, my definition), so a place for people to gather and play them is essential. The game store isn’t just the middle man who hands you our products, it’s also the center of the gaming community.

In no other gaming genre is this more important than in miniature games (it has even been argued that a misunderstanding of this concept could shed some light on Games Workshop, but that’s another story). Miniature games are competitive, requiring a steady stream of new opponents to remain interesting. Unlike, for example, roleplaying games which can be played with the same group every week into eternity. This makes the space that game stores provide all the more essential. Additionally players need a decent amount of terrain which they may not otherwise be able to store at home or transport easily. Finally, a large appeal of miniature games is the aesthetic, making a gaming table in the middle of a store the perfect way to sell to new players. For all of these reasons, game stores are absolutely essential to the miniatures trade and to Wyrd.

So, to all the game stores out there, we know and appreciate the important job you do, thank you. And to all the players out there, always remember that the best way to thank your game store is to shop there.

Habit

I think forming good habits is important. It’s why I write a blog every Monday and Wednesday (so far) without fail. It’s why I’m sitting here writing this one in spite of the fact that I really, really don’t want to.

It’s a busy week. Holidays are coming up, update tomorrow, and my wife is due anytime now and getting any help from medical professionals is virtually impossible over the holidays, which is frustrating. But here I sit, blogging away.

Letting good habits slide is easy. Often you have good reasons to do so…like the ones listed above. But once you have given yourself that permission, it becomes easier and easier. “Oh, I missed last week, what’s one more? The world didn’t end.” I’m not usually a fan of the slippery slope argument, but this is a time it really applies; at least to me.

And this can be true for anything: diet, exercise, painting, working, just being nice to people. Keeping up good habits when it’s fun and you want to do it is easy. It’s the rough patches which are really going to determine how you do things. And I want to keep this blog going, so here I am.

The Project For Awesome

Project-for-Awesome

The Project For Awesome (P4A) starts tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to make a little post here letting you guys know about it.

The Project For Awesome is a charity drive organized every year by the Vlogbrothers (our partners on the Evil Baby Orphanage game). The Project For Awesome lasts two days (December 17-18th) and, during this time, people upload Youtube videos talking about their favorite charities. Over the course of the project, the Vlogbrothers host a livestream with various Youtube celebrities and they have an Indiegogo page (it’s already up, link) where you can donate to the project.

At the end of the project, the community votes for their favorite charities and the money raised by the Indiegogo page goes to them.

It’s an incredibly fun time. I love watching the videos and listening to the livestream (last year I remember Wil Wheaton was on it for a bit). I also love tuning in late at night when the hosts are exhausted, sometimes that’s the most entertaining time. Plus there are lots of cool prizes on the Indiegogo campaign.

It’s amazing to me what people can do when they work together, and the Project For Awesome really demonstrates this. What started as a small fundraiser now takes over the front page of Youtube every year and, last year alone, raised $450,000. In addition to the money raised, the charities that don’t win still get a lot of exposure.

If you’ve never heard of it, I highly suggest checking it out.

Community Part One

What is a community?

Is it just a group of people who are similar in some way?

zombie02

To a certain extent, I suppose. But there’s more to it than that.

What is it that brings them together? Shared activities?

zombies-eating-people

Shared values?

cborg

Any of those things could bring people together. But, at the end of the day, I’m not certain that the reason matters much. At least not all the time. Whether it’s a church, a club, a school, or a group of people who hang out and paint tiny plastic soldiers all day; what really matters is that people are drawn together. Whatever excuses we use or hobbies we choose, it’s the people that matter.

That’s an easy rule to forget when we have our heads in stats and rules debates all day. But I think that the beauty of this hobby is in the people we meet and friendships we make. Pushing people away and being rude and nasty over a rule, or edition change or whatever else is just plain dumb. Don’t get so caught up in the excuse we use to get together that you start to lose sight of why the hobby has any value at all.

Anyway, that was my brief thought for the day. And you probably noticed that this is part one. Part two will be about running a community, but that’s for a day when I have more time.

Common Themes In Young Adult Fiction

I was responding to a comment on my post about the Hunger Games and I realized that I could probably expand it out into its own post.

I think there are a few elements which some of the really popular works of young adult fiction have in common. Of course, I have to point out, this is just my opinion and this isn’t my area of expertise. But I noticed some similarities and thought it would be worth sharing them.

1) People Are Sorted Into Groups With Distinct Traits

Sorting_Hat

This is very clear in Harry Potter where the children are literally sorted. Gryffindor if they’re courageous, Ravenclaw if they’re intellectual, etc, etc. Each house comes with a set of distinct traits which help to define the people in it.

The Hunger Games also has an element of this, although it’s a bit less pronounced. Each district provides something else to the Capital, and people from those districts tend to have specific talents; District 3 runs the power plant so Wiress and Beetee are good with technology, District 4 does the fishing so Finnick is good with a trident, etc, etc. Although this is significantly less important in the Hunger Games than in Harry Potter, it is definitely present and Katniss mentions the skills the children from each district might bring to the games.

I think that this is a theme in very popular young adult fiction because it brings out a number of elements which teenagers can relate to. After all, fitting in is sort of the defining challenge for most people in high school. Without distinct groups, there is nothing to fit in to. Being a part of something is important to most people, and the easiest way to define yourself as “in” is to define someone else as “out.”

Additionally, it helps to define the characters by giving them something to rally against. Katniss mentions that kids from her district were always at a disadvantage because they had no useful combat skills, but she breaks the mold with her ability to hunt. Harry Potter was sorted into Gryffindor, but he can talk to snakes and there is always the question of whether he should have been in Slytherin. Having characters which break the mold and express their individuality is a lot easier when there is a mold to break.

Defining yourself and your own abilities is a large part of growing up, and I think that reading about the characters as they literally try to figure out where they belong is something which can make these books even more relatable to their audience.

And let’s be honest, Harry Potter personality quizzes are fun. (Ravenclaw, bitches! …I feel the strange urge to throw a gang sign now.)

2) The Adults Know What Is Going On But Don’t Help

Young adult fiction should be about the trials and tribulations of…young adults. No argument here, but it seems the adults do always know (generally) what is going on, but they never step in or help. Like they’re just watching from a pedestal.

Snow

In Harry Potter, the adults know about the danger Harry is in, but you never see them running around getting chased by a Basilisk (well, not much). In the Hunger Games this is even more pronounced, with the adults literally watching the action on TV.

I think that this is a very important aspect because the lack of adult intervention allows the characters to fight their own battles. But, I think it also mirrors the experience of many teenagers. When you’re in high school and you’re being bullied and you’re drowning in homework and you’re trying to figure out your place in the world, the adults in your life aren’t going to step in and handle those problems for you. Teachers may see kids being bullied but be unable/unwilling to stop it. Both the ever-presence and general impotence/apathy of most adults is something most teenagers can probably relate to very well, and fiction which contains that element may be more appealing.

3) A Contained Environment

Hogwarts

In Harry Potter, most of the action takes place in the school, Hogwarts. Hogwarts is an environment with very well defined rules and locations which the characters explore. The Hunger Games takes place in an arena which the characters can’t leave, with adults outside controlling every aspect of it.

I think that this mimics the experience of most teenagers, going to school in the day and coming home at night. Every aspect of the lives is controlled and regulated by adults (well, at least the adults try, anyway). Sure, most high schools don’t release genetically engineered attack dogs on their students, but their rules and regulations can be (or seem) draconian. Having a well defined, well regulated environment which is controlled (at least partially) by those ever-present adult overseers who never seem to help much makes these stories all the more relatable.

Of course, I could be completely off. And I’m talking about the more mainstream fiction which kids choose to read (yeah, Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies contain none of these, but I’m not sure if it counts when kids have to read them to write an essay), and which become wildly popular. There are always exceptions (both in teenagers with varying tastes, and young adult fiction which takes off without this) but these are just a few things I noticed. Also, I want to note that this isn’t a criticism of young adult fiction. I like it very much. I can’t wait to pick up Divergent and see if any of these hold true (and, you know, enjoy reading it).

 

Burnout

Burnout

Over the weekend I was asked on a podcast if I ever get sick of dealing with Malifaux all of the time. My response was that I don’t get sick of it, because it’s my job. I go in to work, read feedback, playtest, and tweak models for eight hours and, at the end of the week, I get paid. Which, honestly, I think is the only way to stay sane. If Malifaux continued to be a hobby for me, I’m not sure how much fun I could have with it.

Also, at the end of the day, it gets better results. I’m not emotionally attached to one particular crew. I’m a lot less likely to write some horribly complicated ability and shoehorn it into the game because I think it’s cool. I’m not going to make my favorite master the best (or worst) due to my own bias.

In fact, on that same day (different podcast I think) I was asked if I had a favorite avatar, and my answer was no. I don’t have a favorite avatar, because right now, to me, the avatars are still just projects to be completed. I’m more concerned with making them work, and making sure other people enjoy them, than enjoying them myself. However, I do have some favorite models from wave 1 that I’m really itching to try out. But I didn’t feel that way about them while we were still designing them; I guess once a model is out it’s not a project anymore and I can enjoy it.

Even so, it’s hard to stay totally detached. After staying up all night reading battle reports, running quick scenarios, and calculating odds it’s tough to come in again and do the exact same thing the next day. And after releasing a beta update and reading that *everyone* hates *everything* it can be difficult to keep from slamming my head into my desk. I could make a model better in ten different ways, but if I take one thing away, that’s what I’ll hear about. The masters need to work like they did in last edition and use the same crews while being updated to M2E and getting rid of auto includes. Every model needs to be fast, defensive, great at dealing damage, cheap, and balanced.

After reading the forums for an hour after an update I usually come to the conclusion that I’m horrible at my job and I need to gouge my eyes out with a paper clip. Or, at least, that’s how I would feel if I took everything at face value.

At the end of the day, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Every week we’re chipping away at the marble and I need to take a step back and look at the whole sculpture. We’ve made some great improvements in the month and a half that we’ve had, and we’re on track to finish with honors. And I have a community of dedicated people helping to shape the game they love into something they will want to play for years. The feedback isn’t about me. None of this is about me. And any game designer who doesn’t understand that fact will not survive a public beta. It’s about the game. It’s about the community. It’s about coming together and slowly shaping a project into something we are all proud of. Sure, people may want completely contradictory things, but that’s because there are lots of different voices with lots of different opinions. And that’s a great thing. Of course people notice the negative more quickly than the positive, but that’s human nature. And, ultimately, ironing out the negative is what I’m here to do, so it makes my job easier.

The Hunger Games (Spoilers)

Over the weekend I saw Catching Fire. I love the Hunger Games book series and, so far, I think both movies have gone above and beyond in living up to the books. This post contains spoilers, if you haven’t seen both movies yet, do not proceed past the Mockingjay.

Hunger Games

*SPOILERS*

You were warned.

I am a huge fan of both the Hunger Games books and the movies. The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen who, in a dystopian future, is selected to participate in the Hunger Games; a brutal reality TV show where children fight to the death. In a nutshell, the basic premise isn’t entirely new, but the story is told in such a way that there are many metaphors which reflect on our own society.

It’s easy to read The Hunger Games and experience nothing except an entertaining story with plenty of action and violence with a teenage love triangle thrown in; and that’s fine. But I think there is a lot more to it than that. Everything which Katniss does has to be seen in the light that she knows she is being watched. Sure, she has a touching moment with Peeta in the first book when she nurses him back to health, but everything she does, she does with the knowledge that she is putting on a show. This is an obvious metaphor for today’s media which displays and judges every little detail of the lives of celebrities (it’s also a great metaphor for having to adhere to the ideals of others in general. It works just as well for the societal pressure for a teenage girl to have a boyfriend as it does from the perspective of media; being open to multiple interpretations is an earmark of great metaphor, but I’m getting sidetracked). Sure, we don’t force celebrities to fight to the death (yet), but we do sacrifice their privacy, comfort, and sometimes sanity on the altar of entertainment. In a lot of ways The Hunger Games reminds me of the Britney Spears Southpark episode. In the episode, Britney Spears is tormented by the media until the residents of Southpark sacrifice her to ensure a good harvest. Granted, at least today’s celebrities choose to be in the spotlight, but plenty of the Tributes volunteered to be in The Hunger Games as well.

I mention this because I think that shining light on this aspect is something which the first Hunger Games movie did right in a lot of ways through the character of Cato. Cato comes from one of the more privileged districts and he volunteers to be in the Hunger Games. In the book he is nothing but a mindless, violent brute who stands between Katniss and her survival. But, in the movie, he delivers some of my favorite lines. “I’m dead anyway. I always was, right? I couldn’t tell that until now. How’s that, is that what they want? I can still do this… I can still do this. One more kill. It’s the only thing I know how to do, bringing pride to my district. Not that it matters.” The movie shows Cato for what he really is, a victim; a victim of the society as a whole not just because of the situation he was in, but because of what he was led to believe. In the book Katniss touches on this with her internal monologue because it is told through a first person perspective, but I think the movie accomplished the same point just as effectively. This is something that few book to movie transitions accomplish; it wasn’t just a straight copy, nor was it a total rewrite, the same point was made effectively through its own unique medium.

Ultimately, Cato wasn’t the bad guy. He wasn’t the final obstacle. The enemy was always the Capital, and Katniss could never defeat them by playing their own game. Her ultimate victory is not achieved through violence, but through self sacrifice. Allowing Cato to appear more human only adds to this message.

berries

Even the cliche teenage love triangle is a great metaphor with Peeta representing non-violence, opposing the Capital by living his own way; and Gale representing violent opposition, beating the Capital at their own game. More than choosing between two guys, Katniss is choosing between two ideas.

Anyway, the Catching Fire movie continued to enhance the messages of the book in its own way. The scene which struck me the most in this respect was when Johanna Mason is being interviewed about having to participate in the Hunger Games again and she screams, “Fuck that! And fuck everyone that had anything to do with it!”

Johanna Mason

The really brilliant part about that line is that both F-bombs are bleeped, because the audience is viewing the footage as if they were Capital citizens watching the interview. The gut reaction this has is immediate, “You’re going to put her in an arena and watch as she is forced to commit murder, but you can’t handle the word fuck?” The great part about this reaction is that is exactly what is happening to the real life audience. Catching Fire has a PG 13 rating, which would be immediately kicked up to R if it included two F-bombs. This movie, which features teenagers stabbing each other, skin being melted off by poison gas, and the very same character which delivers those lines stripping in an elevator, can’t handle strong language. It’s an immediate and poignant reminder about the oddities of our own society and our own values. And it’s something which literally couldn’t have been accomplished by the book.

Of course, reading the books is still more than worth it. The internal dialogue with Katniss is fantastic and can’t be replicated in the film. However, rather than being handicapped by the medium, the movies have taken the same messages and presented them in their own way. Very few book to movie transitions are able to do this, and I thoroughly look forward to what Mockingjay brings to the table.

Five of My Favorite Games

I thought I would use this post to list a few of my favorite games. These are definitely not all of my favorite games, and they’re listed in no particular order, but they’re the ones I felt like talking about today. I like them all for very different reasons.

Hive

hive

In Hive, the goal is to surround the other player’s queen with pieces. Each piece has a different insect on it, and every insect has a different way of moving. As players put pieces down, the pieces connect and form the “hive.” In this way, players actually build the board as they play.

This game has a high level of strategy and revolves around positioning. The sides are totally symmetric and there is no randomization. In this way it reminds me a lot of chess and would definitely appeal to anyone who enjoys chess without being being another variant of it. For some reason I also love that you don’t need a board to play. I would highly recommend Hive to anyone who enjoys strategy games.

Neuroshima Hex

Neuroshima Hex

Neuroshima Hex is a strategy based tile laying game. Players take turns placing hexagonal pieces on the board. Each piece has attacks from specific sides. When the board fills up, or a player plays a “battle” tile, a battle takes place and each piece performs its attacks from highest initiative to lowest initiative.

This is a fantastic asymmetric strategy game with very little randomization. Each player has their own unique army with its own abilities and attacks. Players take turns randomly drawing tiles for their own army and then placing them on the board. Most of the strategy lies in making sure that your pieces will take out your opponent’s pieces before their initiative during the battle. There is also a lot of positioning, and the more pieces on the board, the further you need to plan ahead. If you can take out the opposing HQ, you win the game. Resolving battles themselves can be a little tedious, and for this reason the game is a very popular App, because the App takes care of that for you.

Warlord

Warlord

Warlord is a dead collectible card game, but I thought it was worth mentioning because I used to play it a lot. The object of the game was to kill the opposing player’s Warlord and, unlike most card games, this one used a D20 to resolve what happened during the game.

Each player started with an army which was formed into ranks (the first rank in front, the second rank behind it, etc). As characters from the first rank were killed, the characters behind them would need to “fall” forward. Better characters would need to enter play in higher ranks, and take longer to get into combat. Powerful actions and items required higher levels of characters to use them. In this way players “paid” for more powerful cards without any sort of mana system. I think this is very important, because players often complain about the randomness of the dice, but because resources were not randomly drawn from the deck, the card portion of the game was a lot less random. The use of dice coupled with strategic positioning gave this game a feel totally unique from other CCGs. Plus the world was fun; who doesn’t love a race of undead elves?

Ascension

Ascension

Ascension is one of the many deckbuilding games which has become popular recently. Players take turns purchasing cards from a queue and the player with the most points worth of cards in their deck at the end of the game wins.

The game uses two different resources: power and runes. Power is used to defeat monsters and gain victory points immediately while runes are used to purchase more cards. This way there are a couple of different builds to try to go for. Ascension has almost no interaction with the other players. This would usually be a negative for me, but if I’m sitting down to play a deckbuilding game, I prefer the more relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere that Ascension provides. I also thoroughly enjoy the world and the art.

Connect Four

Connect Four

Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Connect Four. I know I may have lost all credibility here, but I did say I included each game for a different reason. Connect Four is one of the few mainstream children’s games which actually encourages strategic thinking in younger children without drowning them with rules. Games like Clue and Stratego are great, but they can be overwhelming to five and six year-olds.

Connect Four requires strategic play and can be mastered by kids without constant adult intervention. And this is a huge plus to anyone who has ever run social skills groups for children with autism. When the kids asked for Monopoly, I wanted to gouge my own eyes out.

Those are a few of my favorites. Let me know if you enjoyed this and I may do an article like this again with more games. What are some of your favorite games? Leave a comment and let me know, I’m always looking for more.

Pregnancy Advice

I have posted some of these on twitter, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to compile them here. My wife and I are expecting, and along the way I have learned a few things which I will share with you.

Don’t claim that you do not need to go to birthing class because you, “have already seen all the Alien movies.” Even if this claim is true, it’s best not to make it. Even if you saw all the stupid Predator cross-overs too.

Don’t respond with, “you’re welcome” if your wife says, “you did this to me.” This is not a good idea.

Don’t poke your wife in the belly until the baby kicks and then claim that it is a prenatal high-five. In fact, you should probably avoid using the term prenatal unless it is in relation to something medical. “Prenatal thumb war,” is not a thing, do not attempt.

Don’t practice swaddling on the cat. Don’t put the cat in baby clothes. If in doubt, do not involve the cat in the pregnancy at all. I honestly can’t stress this point enough.

BabyCat

She looks innocent, but underneath she is seething with murder. The baby clothes only help her hide her true intentions; to rip, kill, and maim anyone who would dare force their fashion sense upon her.

I wish I could share the “do’s” with you, but I’m still working on those. In the mean time, beware of fluffy animals in cute outfits.