Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Hello. Remember me? Yeah I know, it has been awhile. Sorry for not posting anything in almost 2 weeks, but life gets in the way sometimes. Anyway, here's what has been going on in my life.

Middle Age Madness

My birthday has come and gone. I'm now 44 years old; officially middle-aged and damn proud of it. Okay, well I'm not really damn proud, but since I can't change the creeping advance of Father Time I might as well make light of it. My mind still feels young. My body... well not so much.

Dice and Games

I did get one really fun thing for my birthday -- a 2nd dice tower from VixenTor Games. I already had the Dungeon themed tower. The new one was the Phoenix model, very colorful and vibrant. My friend Wally and I used it while playing two games of Battle Cry last week. Unfortunately, I got spanked twice. Ouch! I'm not blaming the tower though. I just had crap luck all night. During the first game, Wally wiped out a completely fresh Confederate infantry unit (4 soldiers) by rolling 4 (yes 4!) kill symbols on his throw of 4 dice. That's a 6.25% chance of success. But wait, not only did he do it once, but he did it twice! Jeezus, Mary, and Joseph! We could probably play 20 more games of Battle Cry and that would never happen twice in the same game. I hung in there, but that enormously good luck swung the tide for him. During the second game, I did even worse. It was the card draws that hampered me that game -- the majority of my troops were stuck on the left flank all battle while I kept picking up Center and Right Flank cards! Oh well, it happens. I still like Battle Cry. Sometimes war is just a cruel and unfair mistress.

Feeling Bookish

I also finished reading the Hobby Games: The 100 Best book. Man, what an excellent book and a truly fun read. I plan to do some separate blog posts in the future about stuff I discovered in this book. All I can say right now is this: if you like board games, go buy this book! It will open your eyes to many games you've never heard about, and is a celebration of the wide variety of games just itching to be played. I sincerely hope that editor James Lowder and the folks at Green Ronin are able to release a second volume sometime down the road. There are easily another 100 great games worth delving into. I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

February Already?

It's hard to believe, but February starts tomorrow! Where did the first month of 2008 go? Zoom zoom, it's gone.

February brings a good bit of sadness with it for me and my family. I lost my Dad to cancer last Valentine's Day. The two of us were very close, and it's a pain that hasn't gone away. I'm sure that it never will. But he's no longer suffering and my faith assures me that he's in a much better place, so at least that's something.

I learned many things from my father's passing. One thing is that a little part of you dies as well. Some things that you previously found enormous joy in pursuing suddenly become a little less exciting. Not everything; just certain things -- especially those that you shared with the person who has passed on.

Another thing that I learned is that your faith will be tested. You begin to wonder if what you have believed in all of these years is still true to you. You wonder if this life is all there is. You talk to God a lot and become introspective. Eventually, you either reinforce what you previously believed or form new beliefs.

Thirdly, you gain a greater appreciation for the time you spent with that person. Your fondness for them does not diminish, it grows. You begin to fully realize that what's truly important in life is NOT your job, how much money you make, how big your house is or how luxurious your car is, how many gadgets you own, how sexy you look, whether your favorite team won or lost, or how deranged Britney Spears is. All that really matters is that you and those you most care about are healthy, happy and self-fulfilled, and doing their best to make society a better place for everyone (even if it's only in some very small way). It's quite amazing to me that even though my Dad is gone, he still hasn't stopped teaching me valuable lessons.

Anyway, I didn't mean to be Debbie Downer. Sorry for my diversion into my inner-self.

Cold Wars is Coming!

The first big game convention of the year, at least in my neck of the woods, is slowly sneaking up on us. Cold Wars 2008 is a miniatures wargaming convention held in Lancaster, PA every winter. I even recall driving to Cold Wars in the snow last year! This year's 3-day convention is being held on March 7 thru March 9. The theme of this year's convention is "the golden age of piracy". Gotta pre-reg soon and get me a T-shirt swabbies -- it looks devilishly cool! Arrrrrr!

HeroScape Still Alive & Kicking

A combination of hard-to-find sets of the Wave-7 expansion, extended delays in releasing Wave-8, and steep holiday discounting of the Swarm of the Marro master set had driven many doom & gloomers to predict the demise of HeroScape. Well, it just ain't so folks. One of my favorite tabletop games is here to stay, and it will be under the guidance of a new company, Wizards of the Coast (a subdivision of Hasbro). You can read all about it on the fan site.

It looks like a fresh batch of Wave 7 (including those elusive and much-wanted Templar Knights on horseback) will be released sometime in April. We can also expect to see the Wave 8 expansion in midsummer, probably in conjunction with either the Origins or GenCon game conventions.

I love HeroScape and am glad it's sticking around. It has always seemed to be more popular with adult hobby gamers rather than young kids, so I think the move to Wizards makes sense from that perspective. Plus, Wizards really needed a non-collectible game to factor into their current product mix, and I think they'll push this game hard into hobby game stores, somewhere it has never been available before. That will only help more people gain exposure to the game. On the downside, I think the price for the game and its expansions will increase. Wizards has a more limited budget than mega-corp Hasbro, so that means you'll get less product at higher cost. I think the days of that Rise of the Valkyrie master set that was jam-packed with cool plastic goodness are now over. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. But I'm a minis whore, so I'll pay whatever they want to charge us (within reason of course!).

That's it for now. I'll promise to write more often. Cheers!

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