Category Archives: Fun

Phun – physics playground

I just watched this video, which I found on WIRED’s GeekDad Blog.

This reminds me a lot of game that was like The Purple Crayon, but I can’t recall the name. NatureBoy was playing it just the other, though; I’ll ask him after his sleep-over is, well, over. [edit: the game is “Crayon Physics“; NB remembered instantly]

I mentioned to NB earlier this week that it might be fun to have a sleep-over some time during February vacation. He took that to mean last night, and invited three friends over. They have had a good time, and I think they’re awake now. They were chatting, giggling and game-boying until pretty late. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes.

CraftyMomma headed down to school early. I’m hoping the roads aren’t too bad.

Gaming goodness: BattleLore

It’s been a busy week, and now that we’re having an ice storm, I’m holed-up at home and have a chance to write a couple of posts. Last weekend, Beloved Wife was a whirlwind of productivity as she prepared for her week of academics.

NatureBoy and I stayed out of her way by playing two games of BattleLore, by Days of Wonder.
BattleLore campaign underway

Beloved Wife got this game for me last Solstice (2006), but I haven’t played it very often because it takes a long time to set up, and then quite a while to play. We had plenty of time, though, and we played through the third and fourth scenarios from the adventure book.

NatureBoy’s record of victory is still unbroken [sigh]. We decided that it’s a fun game and we should play it more often. Maybe with a little practice, I’ll be able to win one every now and then. Also, we haven’t had a chance to play with the Lore component, yet. So there’s more to explore in this cool game.

Sky pirates

I was working at home in the afternoon, yesterday, and NatureBoy was keeping himself busy in the living room. After a while he made his way to the dining room where I was, making buzzy machine sound effects and moving this contraption through the imaginary sky:

His Flying Pirate Ship looks really incredible. NatureBoy said it was sort of like the Tiger Moth from Castle in the Sky, but different. I have a knack for taking crappy pictures, so let me start by saying that my attempts at a backdrop and back lighting just don’t do his creation justice.

He has built a lot of things with Klutz Building Cards. This flying pirate ship was built with the Pirate Ship set, and the jolly roger flapping proudly in the wind.

The other day, he made a U.S.S. Enterprise after we watched some Star Trek TOS episodes.

Way to go, NB.

Carnage 10 report

A good time was had by all. In fact, Beloved Wife decided that we should make our reservations for Carnage 2008 before we left on Sunday.

NatureBoy and I got into all the games we pre-registered for (pre-reg early!), so we were very happy. I tried to follow the advice to try things you don’t normally play. Mixing that with NatureBoy’s interests, here’s what our schedule was like:


Friday, 1-5 pm Into the mouth of Milu; a d20 modern game about ancient powers on an erupting Hawaiian island.
Saturday, 8 am-12 pm Avatar: the Last Airbender; a fudge-based game set in the world of Avatar.
Saturday, 1-5 pm Giant Monster Smash; miniatures combat where Godzilla and his gang fight to save/smash a city
Sunday, 1-3 pm P.R.A.W.N.; a LARP in a pool.

So we arrived and found the Lake Morey Resort with no trouble.

NatureBoy and I look for our badges

We registered, got our schedules, t-shirts and Leis, and then checked into our hotel room. We left Beloved Wife to settle in and get some studying done while NatureBoy and I played our first game.

Mouth of Milu was held in a dark room with some sheet-good panels over a billiard table. In the center of the table was a large color map of Hawai’i. NB and I had never played a d20 modern game before, but most of it was familiar. The story involved some business people, some scientists, and a couple local helicopter pilots. I played the young female administrative assistant to a rich business tycoon. NatureBoy’s character was a physicist and astronomer, and a bit of an eccentric.

The story was pretty interesting and well-paced. It really focused on one character, which was a little disappointing. NB felt kind of frustrated at not having a significant role, but he played it well. Days later, one of the other players mentioned to me that they had been impressed by NB’s maturity and his good role playing and understanding of the rules. Well done, NatureBoy! Also, I was glad to have played in one of the theme games, this convention’s theme being "Hang 10." And Dr. Nik was a great GM.

We went out for Chinese food after the game. With directions from the front desk, we found a place north on route 5, in downtown Bradford [edit – House of Chan’s, 184 Main St.]. The was hot, flavorful food, generous servings, and lots of local color. We had enough leftovers to reheat for dinner on Saturday. We went back to the hotel and watched a few episodes from the first disk of Avatar: the Last Airbender – Book 3. It was good to get into the mood for the first game on Saturday.

BW had class, and was glad to have a shorter commute from Fairlee to Claremont, N.H., while NB and I headed off to our morning game.

The Avatar game was run by Bradford Younie, using his Fudge variant system Now Playing. NatureBoy played Toph, I played Aang, and the other player took Katara. The story was ok, with the crew seeking out a rumored surviving airbender and then escaping from Azula, Mei, and Ty Lee. NB enjoyed describing Toph’s earth-bending. I didn’t find the story engaging though. But it was our first Fudge game, and Brad let us all keep the fudge dice we used.

We went back to our room and grabbed a quick cold lunch, watched a couple more episodes of Avatar, and then set off to Giant Monster Smash.

Giant Monster Smash city

This was the game the NB seemed to be most excited about. And what’s not to like! Giant Monster Smash uses Godzilla and other monster and robot dolls as miniatures in trying to control a city and destroy enemy monsters. The rules are based on WarMachine rules.

NB's and my monsters

The GMs were super-prepared, with character sheets and rules/scoring sheets, color-coded dice in plastic dice cups, dry-erase markers, everything ran very smoothly and was lots of fun.

NB planning his next move

For dinner, we ate our left-over Chinese food, which had been reheated by Beloved Wife using a hot pot and clever application of hot water, foil and zipper-close bags. We took a trip to the dealer room to browse, where BW found a t-shirt she liked that said "you’re not the DM of me!" and NB found a set of dice for his collection. We also took NB to the rather small pool for an evening swim.

We didn’t have a game scheduled for Sunday morning, so we took a trip to the Borders in West Lebanon, because NB was interested in a book on drawing anime (in the style of Avatar). We surveyed the available books, and one about drawing robots caught his fancy instead.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the King Arthur Flour store in Norwich. I then suggested we take the ‘scenic route’ back by following route 5 instead of taking I-91. However, I (we) missed the turn Route 5 takes out of Norwich village, and we went straight. This took us to South Strafford, and signs pointing to Sharon. Luckily, we had enough time to get back to Norwich, where we promptly got on the interstate.

After a quick lunch, NatureBoy and I got our stuff and headed to the swimming pool for our first official LARP, P.R.A.W.N. In this game, the players all are fish in a tank. There are two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, hands that come from the outside sometimes feed us and sometimes take a fish away.

There weren’t many players, so the storylines were somewhat limited. But we had fun swimming after food (plastic hearts safety-pinned to styrofoam balls) and attacking other fish. Hey, it’s a fish-eat-fish world. Even BW got recruited to play the role of a cat, going around the edge of the pool, trying to catch a curious tank resident.

NB was a little disappointed when the game ended early, but they had run through the plot elements that were viable with the players we had.

One of the things that made this game convention so nice was that Beloved Wife came with us. Having meals together and having family time was a great balance to the intensity of the gaming sessions. Thanks for coming, CraftyMomma!

Golden Compass fun

We watched the trailer for the Golden Compass movie yesterday, and we’re talking about seeing it in the theater (which is unusual for us). And just for fun, we each took the Daemon Test. Here’s my result.

Beloved Wife also was paired with a Tiger Daemon, while NatureBoy was matched with a Crow Daemon named Artemis.

Looks like I’ll need to pick the book up and finish it. I like to read the book before I see the movie.

Weekend update: healing, friends, and play

So it turned out that BW had an infection. After a day of antibiotics, she was almost back to her self, again. Thank goodness. We were really missing our chipper, wise-crackin’ CraftyMomma.

On Saturday evening, we hosted our friends, LadyHeron and TheaterGeek. We had a little cookout, and then attempted to play a 5-player game of Settlers of Catan. Now, I really like Settlers, but with the expansion, it moves kind of slowly. LadyHeron and BW bailed after giving it a good effort, and even NatureBoy dropped out after a couple more turns.

Then we guys chatted and the women-folk chatted, and NB bounced between us. I then offered to show TG an episode of Avatar: the Last Airbender, which he hadn’t seen. We ended-up seeing two episodes, with the whole party watching most of the second. What can I say? It’s a great show.

On Sunday, bright and early, NB and I played a game of Stratego, which BW had snagged at a yard sale recently. It came right down to the last handful of pieces on either side, but I managed to prevail even with just one cup of tea. (I said it was early. I’m lucky I got to pee, first!)

BW and I ran a couple quick errands, then NB and I played a game of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.

Now I picked up this book on sale at the friendly local gaming store a couple years ago because it has some decent instructions for painting miniatures and creating terrain. NatureBoy decided he wanted to try the game itself, though.

Since we didn’t have any of the minis, we made do with some quick paper tokens. Here you can see my Men of Gondor hopelessly outnumbered.

And here’s a Giant Eagle’s eye view of the Battlefield. That’s a folded green wool blanket with some encyclopedias tucked underneath, and some nicely weatheres pop tart box ruins.

It was nice to play a miniatures game without a grid. Most of my miniatures gaming has been with D&D minis. And the system was pretty straight-forward; we skipped the advanced rules for this first skirmish. We’ll have to see if the interest continues.

While we played, BW was busy assembling piles of provisions. She and NB are in Maine visiting her sister for the week. So I have the place all to my self. Well, except for the three cats. …and four guinea pigs. …and fish.

Vacation – Last Day

I go back to work tomorrow. I’ve really enjoyed this time off. We’ve done a bunch of stuff as a family, and I’ve had one-on-one time with both BW and NatureBoy. We’ve spent time outdoors, enjoying the fleetingly short but beautiful Vermont summer. I’ve gotten in a respectable amount of gaming. And I’ve spent time with friends. Can’t ask for much more than that. 🙂

Yesterday morning, NB and I played another round of Settlers of Catan. We learned a few more things and had a good time (NB won). In the evening, we had a barbecue with a gaming friend and his wife. When he was visiting a couple weeks ago, he had expressed appreciation for the boffer swords that NB and I had made. I offered for him to come over and participate in a little swordtag sparring and for us to get a chance to meet his spouse.

We had a great time! My friend, whom I now dub TheaterGeek (TG) sparred with me and NatureBoy. We adults had a nice post-dinner chat while NB spent some quality time with his GameCube. Then TG and I did a little grup boffer sword sparring. It was great fun — and a good work-out. The GeekWive’s were making noises about kitting together; this can only be good. We’ll have to have have them over again, soon.

Today, we played a game of Settlers of Catan as a family. I finally won a game 😎 and, more importantly, BW said she really enjoyed the game. We ran a couple errands after lunch, and BW and I watched a few more Battlestar Galactica episodes — the Pegasus episodes were very harsh.

Now, as we prep for the week, I realize that I’m looking forward to going back to work. But I’m really greatful for the wonderful time off I’ve had with family and friends. Now, we are going to go roast some marshmallows on the night of the Full Moon.

Blessed Be.

Vacation – Paddling, BG, and Settlers of Catan

Yesterday, we packed-up the kayaks and headed to Waterbury Center State Park. It’s a bit of a chore, packing three kayaks on our Focus sedan, but we’re getting it down to a system. The three of us paddled out onto the very smooth water and it was gorgeous!

In fact, almost immediately we saw a Blue Heron in the brush along shore. Then we watched a loon as it dove under the surfaceand wated for it to reappear. They stay under for a long time. On the way back, we saw a dear in the distance come down to the water’s edge to drink and then scamper back to the forest.

We swam for a bit, then had a nice picnic lunch. Then BW and NatureBoy went to swim more, and I took a kayak out to explore a bit further. It was really beautiful.

During the hot weather we’ve been having, BW and I have been slipping in episodes of Battlestar Galactica Season 2. It was her birthday present to me, but she really loves the show, too. 😀 NatureBoy has been occupied with Mario Sunshine on the GameCube — in the air conditioned upstairs — during our viewings. It takes us a while to get through “grown-up shows,” though so we’ll be enjoying this for weeks. She got me (us) series 2.5, too!

Today, we were planning to have our usual Friday night beach cookout, but the thunderstorm warning and radar images changed our minds. Instead, I took NatureBoy to a local coffee shop where a friend and parent of GeekKids had offered to facilitate some games of Settlers of Cattan. We and one other boy showed up. We had never played before, and my friend and the other boy helped us get going. I found it quite enjoyable and full of possibilities. In the end, my friend offered to lend her game (and a copy of Start of Darkness!) to us. Thanks so much, C!