the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘gaming

this weekend was the game convention Marmalade Dog over at the local university.  Run by the university gaming guild, a few hundred geeks take over the top floor of the student union and game till the cows come home (or till they kick us out on Sunday evening).

There was a TON of tabletop RPGs, a little bit of LARPing, a lot of Warhammer stuff (which I don’t understand, but it sure looks cool), a few gamer rig PCs set up, and plenty of good ‘ole boardgaming.

I ran Ticket to Ride, and thanks to a friend who also brought his set, we were able to run 2 games at a time, Europe and India proving most popular. I bought the new Africa map from one of the vendors, so I’m looking forward to playing that one, and seeing what its special twist is.

Ticket to Ride India

Ticket to Ride India

Ticket to Ride Europe

Ticket to Ride Europe

I suppose I should do a Ticket to Ride post some time?  anyone interested in something like that?

There were plenty more games being played, here’s a few photos:

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A number of years ago my husband dragged me kicking and screaming to a “game night”.   This was not your mamma’s scrabble night. On the table were Mystery of the Abbey, St. Petersburg, Ticket to Ride, and probably some others. That first night I wasn’t so sure about this whole Euro-gaming thing. Victory points? Nobility track? Resource tokens and Trade Goods? how in the world was I supposed to keep track of all of it??

It did take a while for me to get the hang of it.  At least a year, probably two.  (You know how some people aren’t math whizzes? I’m not a “resource token” whiz.  I just want one of those red cubes, I don’t care if it’s supposed to be rum or tobacco or gold pressed latinum, I just know  I need a red one!)

But boy am I happy I did!  I dont’ think I’ll ever be that gamer girl who games 5 night a week or more, but a few times a month with my friends makes me a very happy camper. err, umm, gamer.

I live in a college town, and every year in early spring the local university hosts a gamers convention.  Organized by students and held on campus, if you’re brave enough to search for a parking spot you can enjoy 48 hours of gaming and geekery. Euro-games, roleplaying games, a LAN party, collectible card games. . . . .  and of course games and cards for sale and overpriced food in the basement. I’ve never been into roleplaying games, but there was a Vlad Taltos system that tempted me!

This years university gamer convention was last weekend, and I ran Ticket to Ride: Europe, which is my favorite kind of Euro-game: the kind where you can learn the rules in 60 seconds, the game takes less than 2 hours to play, and it isn’t going to fry your brain.  Even better, I got to introduce a buddy of mine to gaming. I pretty much dragged him kicking and screaming to my table and said “you’re going to play this!!  okay?”

and he had a good time, see?

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I haven’t done a Friday Fun post in what feels  like ages, so I know, let’s do one!

I’ve got a “to be read” pile that’s nearly reaching the ceiling, I finished Lavie Tidhar’s Osama last night and haven’t even started a review yet, am torn between three books I want to start and I’ve got two other books on hold at the library.  Yup, definitely time for a Friday Fun / random stuff / link soup post.

speaking of reading piles, what are you reading right now, and what have you got on deck?

Are you looking forward to the Prometheus Alien movie? Think it will rock? Worried you’ll be walking out of the theatre saying “Way to wreck the franchise, Bakula”?  see the trailer here.

Wanna win some sweet military history stuff from Osprey Publishing? Military history caption contests are the best!!

If you ask me, this is what heaven looks like. (yes, yes, I know, I stole this link from Dark Cargo, but she always posts all the cool stuff first)

Seems like everyone who is anyone is reading Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon. I’m getting my copy tomorrow. I’m usually turned off by anything that gets hyped or over-hyped, but not this time. Maybe it’s because I’ve met Ahmed and he’s one of the nicest, most modest guys around (not to mention insanely well read, intelligent and a fellow Michigander). But anyways, what are your thoughts on titles that are hyped / overhyped? First titles that come to my mind are Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Are books that are superhyped bound to be disappointing to us book snobs? or am I just an epic book snob?

I’m a cavewoman and just discovered pod casting.  what reasonably priced ipod/mp3 player should I buy for use on long work commutes? I’m also thinking 40 minute yoga sessions will be much less boring if I’m listening to some sweet audio.

and randomly speaking of fun Michigan stuff, I’ll be at the Marmalade Dog gaming con next weekend.  Hoping to run at least one game of Ticket to Ride:Europe on Saturday morning, possibly Game of Thrones as well, while secretly hoping to get in on a game or two of Small World or Railways.  are you a board gamer geek? what are your faves?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Published August 2011

Where I got it: Library

Why I read it: Heard it was nerd heaven!






In the future, everything is online, in the OASIS. What exactly is the OASIS? Think Second Life meets World of Warcraft meets Star Wars Force Unleashed meets The Sims, meets any other online sim or MMORPG you can possibly think of. OASIS isn’t just a game, and it isn’t just a sim. It’s an online space where everything happens: schooling, gaming, business transactions, and of course all the fun stuff that gaming is all about: PvP, leveling up, space travel, planet creation, armor, character design, and awesome weaponry. In OASIS, your avatar can fly the Serenity, land on Gallifrey, and listen to Klingon Opera all afternoon, or do any one of a billion other activities.

In the year 2044, humanity is happy to live their lives online, as the Earth is pretty much a mined-out shithole anyways.  Wade Watts lives online just like everyone else. He’s orphaned, desperately trying to finish high school, and hasn’t a penny to his name. But he has got a free internet connection thanks to his online OASIS based high school.

James Halliday, the creator of OASIS left nothing to chance.  He may have had the social skills of an unplugged toaster oven, but he was a brilliant programmer, and designed his online world to be free, accessible, and open source. An online playground where everyone was welcome and everything was possible. He wanted to make sure people like Wade had hope that life could be better than living with an abusive Aunt in the world’s worst trailer park.

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The Restoration Game, by Ken MacLeod

Published Sept 2011

Where I got it:  rec’d review copy from the friendly folks at PYR







This is one of those books that spoils the ending right away.  But as new blogger friend Alison said,when you know the ending, the author has to work that much harder to surprise you along the way.  And there were some great surprises here.

Gamer geek girl Lucy was born in Krassnia, raised in America, and now resides in the UK. The homeland of her mother and grandmother, a disputed area of southern Russia, is Krassnia part of Russia? part of Georgia?  Doesn’t really matter, since Krassnia and it’s sacred mountain aren’t on any map, and the Krassnians would prefer to keep it that way.  But gamer geek Lucy is too busy worrying about her company’s newest MMORPG release, Dark Brittania, to care about Georgian / Russian border towns.

That is, until she gets a call from her mother, who practically begs her to make a video game about Krassnia, based on The Krassniad, a collection of Krassnian folklore.  A few tweaks to Dark Brittania, some changes to the script, a new voice-over, and poof, the Krassnian version is complete and ready to go. Doesn’t matter that it’s a complete rip-off of Dark Brittania, as only a few hundred people in Krassnia are going to have access to it.

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Last night was an evening of the most wonderful trifecta currently known to mankind: dinner with friends, booze, and gaming.

we played a newish game called Alien frontiers.  The game was easy enough to learn, and in my case, easy enough to win.  It didn’t require insane amounts of strategy or card playing, it was mostly a dice rolling, steal from your neighbor, resource spending kind of thing. Actually, a really good gateway game for non-gamers.

don’t let the complicated looking board fool you, it’s a very simple game:

You gain points by landing colonies on the planet in the center of the board. Whoever controls the colony gets the bonus, and the card for the colony. Now, take a close look at the names of these colonies:

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Dear Cory Doctorow,

I’ve learned the hard way, again, that I have to read your books at home.

I downloaded Little Brother from your website when it came out, and made the mistake of reading it piece by piece at work. And cried at the end. at my desk. it was a little embarrassing.

Read the second half of Makers at a coffeehouse someplace. and cried at the end. not as embarrassing, but still.

30 minutes ago I finished For the Win, and this time I was smart, and made sure to read the ending at home. Because I’m still kinda teared up.

After I finished reading Makers, I sent you a caffiene laden e-mail accusing you of inspiring me to take apart everything in my apartment and having my Mom ship me the crate of legos that’s probably still in her attic. I also accused you of being a new Ayn Rand. Luckily you weren’t too offended by my comparison.

Having finished For the Win, I’m tempted to contact every single school district in America, and tell them that For The Win should be required reading for every single 9th grader. Because had I read this when I was that age, I would have had a much better grasp on the world I was about to enter.

If there is a revolution, it will be all your fault, you know that right? Yeah, I thought so. Bet it was your plan all along. 😉

Best Regards,

p.s., anyone reading this who isn’t named Cory Doctorow – I suggest reading his stuff, RIGHT NOW. You can download For The Win from Cory’s website here, and you can order his other books here. I suggest them all.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.