Friday, August 31, 2007

Why Must You Mock Me Ubaldo Jimenez?

Patience is a virtue. My brother used to say that to me all the time. You may have even heard that tiny tidbit of wisdom yourself a few times. Oh, how I've always believed it and tried to live my life according to the sage who espoused this great knowledge.

But you know sometimes..... Well sometimes you just say screw conventional wisdom. Fantasy Baseball is not only a great game, it's a great teacher. Among the many things the game teaches us is that conventional wisdom is often utter poppycock.

We know that the odds of a rookie making the jump from A-ball to the big leagues and having any success is about as likely as Donald Trump hiring Rosie O'Donnell as the next Apprentice. But then, Albert Pujols shows us that it can happen. We know that once a player gets on the wrong side of age 35, that his career isn't going to last very much longer as his skills begin to quickly erode. And at 40 years old, well you might as well bury those guys because they've got nothing left. Say hello to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds. They're all 40 and doing just fine thank you. So conventional wisdom certainly isn't foolproof.

Enter Mr. Ubaldo Jimenez, rookie pitcher for the Colorado Rockies and ex-Sevy Rhinos hurler. He looks young and happy doesn't he? Well, on July 30th, this fresh-faced kid made his way onto the roster of the Sevy Rhinos fantasy baseball team. His salary, all of 30 cents, was barely going to make a dent in my team's $18 salary cap and he could be a nice addition down the stretch. After all, finding decent starting pitching is like finding hen's teeth, and you can never have enough arms to go around. Plus, Ubaldo was sporting a solid 3.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a terrific .191 Batting Average Against in his first 3 starts. Plus, he's been a highly touted prospect for the past year so he has a pedigree. Me likey!

But jeez, he's just a 23 year-old rookie and he pitches half his games in HELL (aka: Coors Field). So why take the chance when conventional wisdom says this is a super risky pick? Screw Conventional Wisdom, I said defiantly before I made my weekly Free Agent bids and snapped up Ubaldo.

On August 8, when I finally had enough of the constant shellackings that are better known as "games in which Adam Eaton starts", I waived Eaton and called up UJ to the Rhinos starting rotation. He would reward my maverick tendencies with quality innings and life would be grand. Except one little thing happened. On August 9th, one day after Ubaldo put on his red & white uniform with the rhinoceros on the cap, he gave up 10 hits and 9 runs (5 earned) in a mere 2 innings of work. One word summed up my feelings when I saw his line in the boxscore: Sonofabitch.

So on August 13, one week after he was called up to my roster, Ubaldo Jimenez was coldly waived by a GM with no time for self-imploding rookie hurlers. I grabbed someone with a track record, albeit a shaky one at best. Hello Joel Pineiro, goodbye UJ.

As fate would have it, my most bitter and feared opponent, the Lucky 7 Reno Gamblers (my brother's team) snatched Ubaldo Jimenez off the waiver wire and called him up to their roster on August 20th. Then Ubaldo proceeded to pitch two excellent games in a row, throwing a combined 14 innings and giving up a scant 2 earned runs and only 10 baserunners. He also picked up a Win as well.

Seeing my fiercest rival scarf up my droppings and turn them into gold dust made me want to hurl. But in all honesty, the fault lies entirely with me. I went against conventional wisdom again and didn't have the patience to weather one bad outing by a kid who 2 weeks earlier looked so promising. I should have known better.

As it turns out, more often than not, conventional wisdom is right.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Zen Again: Dragonblood Lizardmen

Ooh... Ahhh... Nicey Nice Nice Nice!

All of you fantasy wargamers who love to parade marauding bands of lizardmen across the tabletop, now is the time to sit up and take notice! Dragonblood Miniatures ( has created a new line of 30mm Lizardmen warriors which are available for pre-order from their web site. The minis officially become available in September.

Just take a look at these sweet little nuggets of tin:

Now, I know that the average wargamer is not going to be able to paint these puppies anywhere near as beautifully as the folks at Dragonblood did. These figures are absolutely gorgeous!

If my Spidey Senses serve me correctly, the owner & brains behind Dragonblood Minis, Eric Louchard, used to paint and sell professionally painted miniatures on eBay under the name of the "Lone Brushman".

I always admired Eric's work, but since his stuff was showcase quality and usually sold in the $100 per figure range (or more), I never bought any of them since that was out of my price range. But I must say now that Dragonblood is selling their own line of metal minis, I am very tempted to purchase some of these. Yes, I already have more minis than I'll ever paint in my lifetime, but jeez, these are so damn cool!

Dragonblood is selling a set of 15 lizzies for $50. That would be 3 units of Warband for the Sword of Severnia (TM) fantasy wargame that I'm currently developing. That's good value for such excellent sculpts.

You can find out more about these lizardmen by going here:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Launching the Game Club

Wow. I mean Yowza Wowza Wow. Almost 4 weeks ago I sent out an initial email to a bunch of friends giving the heads-up on the little friendly local Game Club that I'm in the process of forming. I spent about 7-10 days doing some minor recruiting and gathering up email responses of interested people. I then planned to get in touch with a few key members, work up a schedule of gaming sessions, publish it for all to see, and get on with the fun stuff. But man, did life get in the way or what?

August is usually a slow month. But between my work, various weekend excursions, getting rid of our old living room furniture to make room for the new stuff, the ultra busy schedules of some of the "core members" of the group, and helping Anna photograph stuff for her blossoming eBay fetish, my best laid plans have been slightly delayed.

But have no fear, I got this web site launched last week. And I began roughing out the gaming session schedule this past weekend, and I'll be releasing the official September Schedule shortly (unless I'm kidnapped by pygmy zombies).

I was also fortunate enough to pickup 3 new games this month:

I realized that my collection was lacking a bit in lighter, fast-playing card games and games for large groups with an emphasis on fun/humor rather than deep strategy. These 3 games fit the bill pretty well in that regard and should be a nice complement to those meatier strategy games in my collection.

My basic goal for the Game Club from a scheduling perspective is to setup 6 sessions per month. Four of these sessions will fall on weekends (usually Sunday Nights at 7 PM, with the occasional Saturday Night or Sunday Afternoon mixed in where appropriate). The majority of respondents to my earlier email felt that SAT/SUN nights worked the best for them. The other two sessions will be slated for Wednesday Nights. Since mid-week sessions are likely to be less well attended than the weekend ones, I'll probably reserve them for 2-player games and small groups (3-4 players max). Things could change based on my experiences with this, but that's what I'm shooting for at the moment.

Another important thing is choosing the NAME of our little games club. I'll do some brainstorming, but any suggestions you guys have are certainly welcomed.

I hope to be back with a little more information about the Game Club later on in the week. Until then, if you want to start immersing yourself in game geekdom, why not check out the selection of links that I've provided in the right-hand column of this blog. The News & Review and Podcasts sections are especially great places to start.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tumbling Through the Blogosphere

Every once in awhile, the cosmic forces within my cranium kick back, slowly sip their rum swizzles, and converse with one another about the state of things in Brain Wave Land. Sometimes these booze-fueled chit-chats amount to nothing more than a call for Extra Strength Tylenol. But occasionally, these gibbering brainiacs latch on to an idea that ignites a spark of excitement within my overcrowded mind. So what did these synaptic super men come up with this time? Say hello to my ivory horned friend, the Six Sided Rhinoceros blog.

So what's this blog all about? Well, it's a melange of topics that are near and dear to my heart: boardgames, card games, miniatures & toy soldiers, wargames, fantasy baseball, video games, and software design & development. I've been writing about several of these subjects in various formats for quite some time. Many of them have crossed over from the "pure fun" side of the fence to strut their stuff in my workplace arena as well.

For those of you who don't know me, perhaps a little background material will help explain why I feel the urge to write about this eclectic collection of topics.

In my day-job I'm a software developer who designs and builds database-centric desktop applications, with PowerBuilder being my preferred 4GL programming tool. I've got a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Penn State University, and have been working in the software design & analysis field since 1987.

As a small business owner, I write and maintain a company web site. Most of the material on the site is product related news and information. Two years ago, I started a little blog who's aim was to provide commentary and insight into the software business. But as most small business owners can probably relate to, the constant demands of running the day-to-day business got in the way and the well-intentioned blog faded into obscurity. C'est la vie.

But blogging isn't entirely new to me. For the past year I've been writing a blog called And On the 7th Day They Created Severnia. That private blog is associated with a computer-moderated tabletop wargame that I'm developing. I've got a couple of a chaps helping me with the game, chipping in with suggestions and offering feedback on rule mechanics and other snazzy ideas that I post. They're also my core group of playtesters. That blog, in addition to the non-stop stream of email messages that I send, has been a very useful tool for sharing ideas and archiving the ongoing think-work that happens during the course of any long & involved development project.

During 2006, I also shared my love of miniature wargaming with my fellow game consultants by sending out regular emails containing game news, my eBay and game store shopping exploits, pictures of painted toy soldiers, and links to other gaming websites, blogs, forums, and e-zines. These emails were known as Today's Moment of Wargaming Zen, and I had as much fun writing them as the guys did reading them.

Since 1987, I've been the commissioner and statistician for the HARL rotisserie baseball league based in Central Pennsylvania. I also own and manage a team in the league (the Sevy Rhinos). During the 20+ years that I've been running and playing in HARL, I've written more league newsletters than I care to count. They've ranged from funny to factual to enlightening; at least that's the way I see it. Imagine all the paper I would have saved had Blogger been around when Reagan, the elder George Bush, and Bill Clinton were in office! I could have "gone green" before it was hip.

I'm also the creator of Rhino Baseball (, fantasy baseball league management, player forecasting, draft prep & tracking, and stats analysis software. I've been selling this program since 1998 and have many satisfied customers who I've enjoyed helping and talking to over the years. I suppose this makes me a bit of a guru in the field of fantasy baseball, although if anyone truly thinks that they can predict the exact statistics of any major league ballplayer then I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

At this point, you're thinking, "okay, so he develops software, designs sports games and wargames, runs a fantasy baseball league, and periodically writes about all of this stuff. So where do the friggin' board games and card games come into play?" Well, funny you should ask, because I was just getting to that very point Mr. Impatient.

The raison d'etre that this blog came about was because I started a local tabletop games club this summer which is in its infancy. The club is a private group comprised of friends & family, who get together once a week to play board games, card games, and wargames. I wanted to create some type of online gathering spot where I could share information with the game group members. I tossed around a few ideas and then, in a moment of intense clarity, it hit me like a George Foreman uppercut. Okay, well maybe an uppercut to the jaw wouldn't promote clear thinking, but you get the point. What if there was one central place where I could write about all the things that I love, and share them with friends, family, league-mates, customers, and other like-minded folks?

And thus, out of the digital womb of Mistress Google, this little blog was born. Not surprisingly, he has my eyes and brown hair.

Why Six Sided Rhinoceros? The word "rhino" ties into my childhood nickname, my company name, and my rotisserie team name. It's part of my very being. Except that I don't have a big horn on my head. Or 4 legs. Or a tough hide. Nor do I live in Africa. Oh hell, I just like the damn name okay! The six-sided is an obvious reference to dice. And really, what gamer worth his or her salt doesn't like the tactile deliciousness of chucking a handful of shiny dice across the table and seeing what fate has in store for you. The secondary meaning behind six sided involves the subject matter of this blog. There are six key topics that I plan to discuss when the urge strikes me: (1) Board Games, (2) Card Games, (3) Miniatures & Tabletop Wargames, (4) Video Games, (5) Fantasy Baseball, and (6) Software Development.

So in summation, remember this:
  • For those of you in my local gaming group, you'll want to stop here on a regular basis for tabletop game chatter. This blog's for you.
  • For the miniature gamers who liked my old Moment of Wargaming Zen posts, they'll be making a comeback here.
  • I'll share the occasional fantasy baseball pearl of wisdom or funny tidbit for you roto nuts out there. I may even drop some Rhino Baseball tips & tricks in here if the teacher lurking within me pops out. Once the 2008 season rolls around and the new HARL website takes shape (God willing), I will link from that site to here for some offbeat league commentary.
  • I'm sure that some software development posts will squirm their way into this blog. I'll try to make them fun and light. Unfortunately I was bitten by the software bug as a teenager, and once that happens it's a hard thing to shake.
  • Up to this point I haven't mentioned video games in any detail. They'll make the odd appearance here, but I must admit that I don't play X-Box games or computer games all that much anymore. I'm more of a dabbler in that world. That's probably because as I get older, I enjoy the social interaction of tabletop games more than the isolated play that video games provide. That said, you can't beat a good, old heart-pounding session of Halo.

Welcome to the blog!