Friday, November 23, 2007

Scattered Brain Cells

How many of you have ever read Larry King's column in the newspaper? The famed talk-show host writes in a unique style consisting of short little snippets of opinion. Many people hate that style of writing, but many others find it refreshing. In the fast-paced world that we live in, sometimes you just want a few quick bites to satisfy your mental cravings. So in the spirit of Larry King, perhaps modified a smidge, I bring to you a little segment called Scattered Brain Cells.

Black Friday... I didn't go out and do any shopping on Black Friday. I know many people practically pee their pants with excitement over the chance to snag a sweet deal on electronics, jewelry, clothing, video game systems, home furnishings, and so forth. They get up at 4:00 AM so they can be at the store when the doors open. Not me. I'm in the middle of rapid eye movement. I hate parking in Bumblebutt, Idaho and fighting through crowds of rabid shoppers. There's really nothing that I need THAT BAD. And if there was, I'd probably shop online for it.

Amazon Specials... Many online retailers are having their own Black Friday sales. has a really interesting 6-day sale going on where visitors choose various deals, and the product that gets the most votes each day is then offered at the pre-set deal price. I think during Day-1, they were offering Nintendo Wii systems to lucky visitors for $79 bucks. Damn sweet! Even if you didn't really want one, you could probably re-sell it on eBay for a tidy profit.

Mystery Shopping... There are two cool things about deals like those is offering:

(1) You can shop while sitting there in your pajamas -- no stinking crowds to fight through.

(2) There's a little bit of mystery about what products are actually going to be the ones that are offered for the sweet pre-set deal price. That element of surprise is something that really makes shopping fun. In fact, that's one of the things that I believe is so enticing about eBay. You just never know exactly what's going to be available for sale and at what price. There's a distinct Thrill of the Hunt going on which is so often missing from most shopping experiences.

Which brings me to my next thing... For board gamers and tech weenies, you've gotta check out This online shopping site is all about the Thrill of the Hunt. Each day, the website offers a single new product for sale at a steeply discounted price. You have no idea what product they're going to offer next, so you need to visit the site frequently and see what's for sale. And if you want to buy that item, you need to act fast. The phrase "you snooze, you lose" was never more appropriate for a shopping web site. Hot items sell out quickly.

TANGATHON... Periodically, TANGA does something really cool, holding a TANGATHON. For a period of several days, they sell through multiple items. Some of these products are only available for 1 or 2 hours and then boom, they're gone and another product takes their place. TANGA makes shopping for games and gadgets exciting. Bargain hunters love it. Stop by this weekend and check it out. You'll never know what you might find there.

You'll Drool for these Ghouls... Miniature figure maker Crocodile Games has just released a new range of ghouls to support their excellent WarGods of Aegyptus game. These figures are absolutely stunning. The poses are dynamic, the creatures look fierce and wild, and they've got a uniquely different style compared to other ghouls I've seen. I will definitely be buying some of these in the future to use in my own fantasy tabletop battle game. The guys at Crocodile Games make some of the best and most truly original fantasy figures on the market. You can see a full-sized photo of the ghoul unit by going here.

Top 200 Board Games... Turning our attention to board games, esteemed game reviewer extraordinaire Tom Vasel (of Dice Tower podcast fame) recently released his list of the Top 200 Games (board games and card games) for 2007. Those folks yearning to learn about high-caliber games or wanting a useful guide to help with Christmas shopping, should check out Tom's list. It's a truly excellent list, with brief comments on most games and links to full reviews of many more. Since one gamer's definition of "fun" varies widely from another's, you'll find that very few game geeks will agree with all of Tom's top 200 picks. If everyone liked exactly the same things, life would be boring! But I've found that Tom's tastes generally match up with my own fairly well across several key areas. He generally loves heavily thematic games, especially with a fantasy/sci-fi twist. He also seems to like adventure and battle games a lot. And you can tell from his list that Tom values strategy & replayability a heck of a lot. Those are all things that are extremely high on my list as well. Anyway, check out Tom's list and be sure to listen to his and Sam Healey's engaging Dice Tower podcasts.

Podcast Mania... Speaking of gaming podcasts, they're popping up everywhere! My wife got me a 40 GB video iPod for our anniversary back in May. As fate would have it, I ended up getting her an 80 GB video iPod as my gift to her. Great minds think alike! Anyway, aside from watching some occasional videos (such as Boardgames With Scott episodes), I've mostly been listening to scores of gaming related podcasts over the past 6 months.

If you look in the righthand margin of this blog and scroll down a bit, you'll see a list of gaming podcasts. There are lots of very good ones. If I had to pick my Top 6 favorite podcasts based on overall quality and interest to me (after all, this is SIX sided Rhinoceros), I would choose in no particular order:

That said, I recommend giving all of the podcasts on my big list a listen and choosing your own favorites.

New Miniatures Games Magazine!... Polymancer Studios has announced that they'll soon be publishing a new magazine focused on miniatures wargames called Bayonets, Spears, and Blasters. What's got me so excited about this printed magazine is two major things:

(1) At least half the magazine (or more) appears to be devoted to Fantasy and Sci-Fi miniatures gaming. Those are my favorite genres. Since the majority of wargame rags focus on historical gaming and give short shrift to fantasy/sci-fi gaming, I welcome a magazine like this. Battlegames is my favorite wargaming magazine currently in print, but if Polymancer can come anywhere close to that AND include a heavy dose of fantasy stuff, it will likely become my favorite rag in short time. My expectations are high!

(2) This is a "general purpose" magazine which takes a broad view of the wargaming hobby as a whole rather than being focused on a single company's products. As eye catching as White Dwarf is, the house magazine for Games Workshop, or the magazines devoted to Rackham and Privateer Press products, I much prefer a magazine devoted to the WHOLE HOBBY and not just a specific game or segment of it. BSB looks like it will fit the bill perfectly.

Christmas List... With Turkey Day here and gone, it's time for everyone to start handing over their Christmas Lists to those significant others, parents, or Elves at the North Pole, who will be helping to fulfill your little list of wishes this holiday season. Screw the practical stuff, we geeks want GAMES for Christmas! So what's on my games wishlist this year? Well, I'll probably write more about that in a separate post, but here's a quick rundown of the games and toys that this 40-something will dish off to Anna Claus (a.k.a. my wife):


  • HeroScape Wave #7 = Yeah, I've got the Scape bug bad. Those knights look sweet!
  • Wizard Kings = I just picked up Hammer of the Scots at Fall In. But fantasy is my first love and this block wargame is just too damn tempting to pass up.
  • Prophecy = I loved Talisman as a youngster and I hear this new Talisman-like adventure game by Z-Man is even better. My game group should love this one.
  • Wings of War Miniatures = I've got the base game, but I really don't feel like playing it until I get some cool looking bi-planes to use. Hey now, I'm a minis gamer!
  • Attack! Expansion = I picked up Attack! on eBay a few months back and haven't played it yet. Those in the know say it's much better with the expansion. This one's a must.


  • Colossal Arena = Monsters and Bidding. Nuff said.
  • Hive = An attractive little abstract 2-player game that Anna might like to play.
  • Manhattan = A euro with lots of eye candy and a Godzilla variant. Kewl!
  • Mr. Jack = Interesting, fast playing deduction game with strong theme. Another game that I could see Anna liking to play.
  • Condottiere = Got good vibes from the reviews I've read. And hey, I'm Italian too!
  • Lord of the Rings Confrontation (Deluxe) = Frodo lives! I can see this one getting to the table a lot, especially with my wargamer buddies who need a light diversion from those much deeper and longer playing miniatures games.
  • Through the Desert = Like the pastel camels, the strategy, and appeal to the non-wargaming crowd.
  • Fairy Tale = light card games with good theme & art make great games for those casual players we all play with.
  • Battlelore Goblin Marauders and Call to Arms = 2 expansions that will go nicely with the ones I just picked up at Fall In.
  • Ticket to Ride 1910 Expansion = Going on Tom Vasel's recommendation here.
If I ended up with 3 or 4 of these games I would be ecstatic. Christmas presents should be all about fun, not practicality. There are 364 other days of the year for that!

And that's it for now... This ended up being a little heavier than a Larry King column. I'll do better next time!

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