March 30, 2005

Games: Cranium

The other game we played last night was Cranium, the very popular modern party game sold at Starbucks and other mass-market chains. I had never played and was interested to give it a shot. The game is a team-based party game where clues are divided into four categories and each team sometimes has a choice of category and sometimes is forced into a particular one. The categories are 1) Trivia/General Knowledge 2) Word knowledge/Word Puzzles 3) Performance (charades/singing/humming) and 4) Creativity (drawing, clay sculpting). One thing that is different than most party games is that someone on a team that is bad at a particular thing like drawing never has to do it as, while the category is often forced upon the team, the person on the team doing the action is always a choice of the team. I could therefore avoid ever having to do the Performance clues which I am terrible at and focus on the Word clues. I actually thought the game was quite fun and a really nice mix of different types of questions/activities so you would never get bored of doing a particular activity as can happen in most party games. The only real negative I found was the randomness of the die-rolling movement system where in theory one team could have to answer something like 9 times as many questions as the other team. Realistically, this level of discrepancy would never happen but I don't think it that unlikely that a team, at least till they got into the final phase of the game, could have to answer twice as many questions as another team. The final phase, which I liked much better, is more like Trivial Pursuit where you have to answer one question in each of the four categories and then a final question in the category the other teams think will be hardest for you.

Recommended and because of the ability to choose which teammate performs which action, I think this game will go over well with a wider variety of people than pretty much any other party game I can think of, particularly if each team has 3 or more people. This allows one person to give and one to guess in a category where the third person on the team doesn't know a single thing about it (and of course that person will still be a guesser in case he surprises himself with an answer).

Posted by aarondf at 05:07 PM | Games | Comments (1)

Games: Return of the Heroes

This is a pretty interesting game where players take the role of Fantasy characters wandering around a board fighting monsters, completing quests, and gaining experience and treasure until one is strong enough to defeat the 'big bad' and, if able to do so, win the game. I thought the game was pretty fun and actually had some real decisions to be made and I would definitely play it again. However, it has a couple of major negatives. First, the characters seem very unbalanced. The Wizard has so little health as to be almost unplayable (and Magic combat isn't a very good specialty). The Dwarf is so slow that his health/money advantage just really can't compensate unless a market comes out early and he can significantly up his speed. Of the other three characters, I have the feeling that the Fighter has a significant advantage. Melee combat seemed to me to be applicable to far more enemies than was Magic or Ranged combat and so he had a big edge. The second problem is that the game has a very large 'rich get richer' issue with basically nothing at all to penalize the leader. I am often opposed to leader-penalization rules but this game I think needs at least a mild one.

In our game, the Fighter was way ahead almost throughout but he decided to make himself basically invincible before going for the win rather than going for it a bit sooner with a 95%+ chance to win. This unwisely gave me a shot to go after the win at a much lower strength level but still with a real chance (probably like 25% overall but it got to the point where I had about an 80% chance to win but blew the rolls). When I failed, he waltzed in the next turn and made mincemeat of the boss for the win. Fun game and very strong theme but with issues.

Posted by aarondf at 04:58 PM | Games | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

TV on DVD: Freaks and Geeks Final Episode

I've been slowly going through this series on DVD from Netflix and finally got the last disc of the first (and only) season. I have only been moderately enjoying it so was slow to watch this disc but the final episode, "Discos and Dragons", was really amazingly good on many levels. The Disco segment didn't interest me that much but the AV/D&D/Daniel segment and the wonderful Lindsay/Grateful Dead segment were great. I actually got up to dance to "Box of Rain" with Lindsay and the "Ripple" ending was beautiful. For this episode: ***** and probably ***1/2 for the series as a whole.

Posted by aarondf at 01:31 PM | Television | Comments (1)

Movies: Troy

Haven't posted in a while for some reason and this isn't the thing that
got me to do so - will post that in a moment. Ok movie. Its been a very
long time since I read the Iliad but they of course changed a bunch of things,
the Briseias romance being one of the more major ones. Still, I liked it as an action pic better than I had expected to ***.

Posted by aarondf at 01:28 PM | Movies | Comments (0)

March 09, 2005

Interesting Article

I for some reason found this article quite interesting, entitled "10 Things I Have Learned" by designer Milton Glaser. The joke about the rabbit and final reference to it in particular are somehow powerful.

Posted by aarondf at 04:40 PM | Links | Comments (0)

Poker - Too much luck?

The luck factor in poker, particularly small No-Limit Hold' Em tournaments, has really gotten to me of late. I am not by any means a great player but the last two little (like $1-5 entry) tournaments I've played in, I've made great reads and put in my money in both cases with a significant advantage only to have the cards kill me. Last night, the big bet was on the turn with only 1 card to come and I was a bit more than a 2-1 favorite and would have knocked out two people and had a massive chip lead, and instead was running on fumes when the odds went wrong. Given that this is one's whole tournament, it just seems so harsh. I play a lot of games and they all have luck, but in most it either isn't nearly as strong, much more spread out, or it at least is at better odds. In Poker, 2-1 is _excellent_ odds while in Titan you can often manage to get 9-1 or even better odds.

Posted by aarondf at 11:28 AM | Games | Comments (0)

March 04, 2005

Cat Survives 10-Mile Trip on Top of Car

Cute Story.

Posted by aarondf at 11:32 AM | Links | Comments (0)