Dec. 11th, 2016

pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Joking Hazard is a card game along the lines of Cards Against Humanity, where the aim is to supply the missing part of a joke, but instead of one-liners it's three panel comic strips. That makes it a bit more involved than CAH, and will possibly mean that it takes longer for the novelty to wear off, but I suspect when it does I'll be as over it as I am over CAH, particularly since it has the same kind of sense of arguably-humor. (The game I played produced one or two actual jokes and a lot of strips where the punchline was "And then one of the stick figures does something rude and inappropriate".) It is only fair for me to admit, however, that the novelty did last all the way through the game I played, and I did kind of enjoy it.

2. I've played a few different variants of the card game Love Letter since I joined the gaming group; the most recent is Love Letter: Premium Edition, which uses the intial theme (the one with an actual love letter, as opposed to supervillains or hobbits) but includes extra cards that can be added to the deck if more people want to play. This is really useful at our gaming group, because the standard game is restricted to four players and usually there are more people than that who want to play; with the extra cards, a game can have up to eight players. Most of the extra cards have new abilities, some of which are intended to keep the game from dragging; for instance, in the standard game you can only get a victory point by winning a round, but the expanded game includes several other ways to gain victory points, such as a card that invites you to predict who will win the current round and awards you a victory point if you're right. Or a very interesting card which -- okay, the most reliable way to make sure a person doesn't win a round is to eliminate them from play, but one of the new cards awards the person who has it a victory point if they're eliminated. And of course they get a victory point if they win the round, so once someone plays that card everybody else has to try to steer the game so that they make it to the end of the round without a winning hand. What tends to happen a lot in practice is that someone will have a lapse of concentration and eliminate that player anyway, having forgotten why it's a bad idea. I've actually won a whole game that way.

3. Survive: Escape from Atlantis is a board game where the players are trying to evacuate the population of an island that's gradually sinking into a sea infested with carnivorous sea monsters, whirlpools and other hazards. It's not a co-operative game: each player has a particular group they're responsible for, there are a limited number of boats, and part of the gameplay is making the sea monsters go and bother somebody else. I enjoyed it a lot.

4. I got my old Magic: The Gathering cards out of storage recently, because I've noticed there's pretty much always Magic players at the gaming group even when nothing much else is happening. I haven't actually got to use them at a meet yet, but mentioning that I had them led to me getting invited to join a game of Magic: The Gathering: Commander, which is a variant of the game where several people fight each other simultaneously instead of one-on-one. This involves a different kind of deck from the usual one-on-one game; the player who was organizing the match kindly lent me one of his spares. I ended up being one of the last two players standing, I suspect largely because the more experienced players didn't see me as a threat and concentrated on knocking each other out. I very nearly won the match, too, but although I had all the cards I needed I didn't use them as well as I needed to, saving one up when I should have played it and playing others when I should have saved them. Well, I'll know better next time, if there's a next time.

The lost opportunity I regret most, although I don't think it would actually have changed the outcome, involved a card that lets the player swap the hitpoints of two opponents. At the point I drew it, one of the other players was nearly out of hitpoints, largely due to the efforts of another player who was not only in full health but had acquired extra hitpoints and had had to break out an extra hitpoint counter. Swapping their hitpoints would have been really entertaining. Alas, by the time I had the mana to use the spell, the weakest player had been eliminated, and the strongest had suffered a major reversal of fortune, with the result that the strongest player had only a three-point lead over the weakest remaining player. Much less entertaining.

5. I had played Tsuro before, and didn't think I liked it; it tends to be over very quickly and often ends in the last two players dying simultaneously, but it turns out to be a good game for filling in time while waiting for something else to happen. (The fact that I actually won a game probably also helped lift my opinion.)
pedanther: (cheerful)

1. I have been to the cinema to see a movie for the first time since, according to my notes, July. The movie was Arrival, and it was worth going to see. I will probably go and see some more movies this month, because we have Rogue One arriving this week and then Moana in the post-Christmas summer season.

2. I finally got around to reading The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards, which has been lurking in my to-read pile for years. The author is the wife of the film director Blake Edwards, aka the actor and singer Julie Andrews, and I'm pleased to be able to say I enjoyed it, although probably not as much as I would have when I was the target age and less capable of spotting the bits that are designed to impart important life lessons. Other things that stuck out to now-me that wouldn't have to child-me were the puns (especially having recently read the bit in Summer in Orcus where the child protagonist is scornful of the kind of puns adult fantasy writers put in children's fantasy), and the wise token adult's attitude to the designated adversary's concerns, which I felt should have had a hashtag on them saying "#notallhumans". I was very pleased that the designated adversary turned out to be not evil, just doing his best in very trying circumstances, and that the token wise adult was shown to be a human being with his own flaws and blind spots (and that he started listening to his former adversary more by the end), but I felt it could have done with an explicit call out that even though the designated adversary turned out to be wrong about this specific group of humans he had perfectly valid reasons to be distrustful of humans in general.

(PS. I probably would have identified with one of the children when I was a child, but as an adult the designated antagonist is definitely my favourite character.)

3. Another thing that's been sitting on the shelf that I finally got around to is the Big Finish audio drama Storm Warning, the first of their series featuring Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor. It was okay, I guess? I mean, I enjoyed it, but I'm not in a big hurry to find out what happens next. (Although part of that's obviously because I'm starting the series fifteen years late, so I already know from fandom osmosis quite a bit about what happens next.) And, to be fair, I've never been all that good at audio dramas; I don't tend to find them engaging enough to sit still through.

4. The Rep Club Christmas Show has been and gone. I was involved only as an audience member, which I think may have been the right call. On top of the reasons for making that decision in the first place, I'm now in a position to tell that I enjoyed watching it once but it would probably have worn a bit thin through a month of rehearsals and performances. (It would also have been a crimp on my social life that I'd have regretted, in terms of things I've been able to go to on what would have been show nights.)

The next Rep Club production is, as I've mentioned, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I've been cast as the socially awkward science nerd, which as you can imagine is going to be a stretch.

5. Fanfic rec: Third Wheel, in which Bruce Wayne makes his first official visit to Metropolis, and Lois Lane is assigned a celebrity profile that turns out to be more interesting than she expected, while Clark Kent investigates sightings of a mysterious bat-man.

"I've always wanted to learn how to fly," Clark said, sounding impressed.

"You should," Bruce said. "It's fun."

"It always seemed like it would be."

pedanther: (cheerful)
1. This week I have five Christmas/end-of-year social events in six days; in no particular order: work, the Rep Club, the other theatre group that isn't the Rep Club, Toastmasters, and the brass band. Three of those have already happened, and all of them were on evenings when I would have had to give them a miss or leave early if I'd been in the Christmas Show, as I was saying last entry, which would have been regrettable.

Also on the list of things I'd have had to miss out on: going to see the WA Symphony Orchestra's annual public concert with the family. (Does that count as an end-of-year social event? I'm inclined to say not, because nobody fed me.)

2. The choral group I mentioned joining has finished up for the year. I've been enjoying it and will definitely be back next year.

3. I have been to two charity book sales recently. I donated a box of books to the first one, so I came out with a net decrease in the number of books taking up space in my house. Win!

A significant amount of the box I donated consisted of duplicate copies, many of them a result of seeing a book at a sale and going "I've always wanted a copy of that" and then finding when I got home that I already had one in the to-read pile. I managed to do it again at both of these sales, so I've already made a start on the next box...

4. So far since the new $5 note was released, I've only had one pass into my hands. It was weird and disconcerting and I spent it in the very next shop I went into so that I wouldn't have to keep looking at it.

5. At work, my computer finally got old and unreliable enough that the boss felt obliged to find room in the budget for a new one. This meant leapfrogging from Windows XP (yes, it was that old) to Windows 10, which despite my reservations has been relatively un-horrible. The worst of it were some initial issues with the wireless keyboard, which seem to have sorted themselves out, and a weird tendency to reboot itself without notice, which I think has been fixed now that I've tracked down the option switch that was set to "Reboot immediately after installing a system update" (the documentation says that that option will still wait until the computer is standing idle, but such was not my experience).

There's also the unanticipated side-effect that my computer at home, which had always felt speedy and powerful compared to the one at work, is now by comparison showing its age and small memory.


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