Tibs Manor

Monday, August 22, 2005

Weekend Recap

Had a pretty fun weekend. Friday night I drank too many margaritas and fell asleep watching Club Dread. I'd seen it once before, but I was able to use a Blockbuster free used DVD coupon to pick up a copy. Pretty limited choices, it was either that or Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Picking Dickie would have been nucking futs. The coupons you get for joining Blockbuster's online service are pretty good, guaranteed two free in-store rentals per month (which applies to games as well), plus some decent deals on used DVDs.

Saturday was some wedding planning, primarily music. We've made final choices for our first dance song, Lauren's dance with her dad, cake cutting music, and wedding party introduction music. It has taken us a long time but I'm really happy with all of them. There is some cool stuff, some funny stuff, and we've managed to avoid most wedding clichés I think. Reading the online lists of most popular wedding songs will make you retch. I predict Kimmel will LOVE the introduction music.

Tried a new recipe Saturday night at Lauren's brother's recommendation...London Broil marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, ketchup, oil, pepper, and oregano. Grilled it up on the Next Grilleration, 7 minutes per side for rare. This time I tried it with the grill open, and I think it worked better. Takes a little longer, but it avoided the steaming problem you get with the closed grill. The meat looked a LOT better this way I thought. Also doing it that way makes cleanup easier. I had some of the leftovers as a sandwich the next day, excellent.

Sunday we took the day off from wedding planning and went swimming for an hour or so. I really should make more use of the pool at my apartment, it is a very nice perk and I hope I can get one again when I move in November. Later that afternoon we drove over to Alhambra for Vietnamese food at Pho 79. I had charbroiled pork with shrimp paste and imperial roll on vermicelli, Lauren had the same dish but with beef and no shrimp paste. It was pretty good. The shrimp paste is like eating the dinner of tomorrow, today! Picture a future world where all food no longer resembles the animal or vegetable from whence it came, and instead is extruded from tubes. Seriously it sounds gross but it tasted pretty good.

After that we wandered over to Nucleus, which is this cool little store that sells a mixture of graphic novels, t-shirts, snacks, import toys, and art. Basically anything of Japanese origin or feel. It's just nice that it's not a dank nerdhole, it's got very friendly and helpful (yet neither overbearing nor cringe-inducing) staff, it's really well lit and cheerful, in general just a very fun atmosphere. We've been there twice now (first time we bought PJ a Don Hertzfeld t-shirt) and each time it is just fun to wander around and check stuff out. This time we checked out the gallery which is two floors and takes up about half the store. "Two floors" is being generous, the upstairs is really funny, the ceiling up there is about 6'5", you feel like a giant. There were original pieces for sale for between about $200 and $1000, and also lots of limited prints which were much more in my price range, more like $20 to $30. I bought a print of the piece you see here, Ninja in the Snow by Kazu Kibuishi (who hails from Pasadena). Lauren got a t-shirt and these great Tony Millionaire Maakies Drinky Crow coasters. All the prices are wrong by the way, everything is significantly cheaper in the actual store.

The other event of note was an epic playing of Hammer of the Scots, split into sessions on Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon, and Sunday evening. I played as the Scots. Lots of fun but terrible dice rolling luck from Lauren. As usual some memorable monents though:

  • Wallace invaded England and ran wild for a few turns before nearly being killed and escaping by sea.
  • managed to get King Balliol out of his French exile and into the game for the first time (we have played four times now). Adding a king (either repatriating Balliol, or crowning Bruce or Comyn) has associated penalties, but if you can get through them I think it's worth it, as the king is as strong as Wallace and if kept together they are a nearly unstoppable force.
  • The Norse block was incredibly effective. Vikings rule.
  • King Balliol was cut off from the main Scottish army and barely survived a hard fought battle, and then was nearly killed by a traitorous noble. Wallace was able to charge in the next turn and free the king and the two rarely parted for the rest of the game.
  • Hobelar Hobelar Hobelar!
I realized one of my favorite parts of the game is how each unit is an individual. I find it very fun to think of how well the Norse have fought over the course of the game, or how one particular English knight kept fighting one particular Scottish noble, and then ended up in the same army by the end. With the nameless hordes of Risk or Axis & Allies there's nothing like that, you can't get angry with a tank for rolling poorly. But you can get angry with blocks in Hammer of the Scots, I can tell you that!

Finally, how anyone gets through a game of this in 2 hours is beyond me, we don't play slow and still it takes over twice that long to finish. If it doesn't end early, the game has 9 years with 1-5 turns per year (the year can sometimes end early - having played several times now, on average I'd say a little over 4 turns). Our game for instance had 44 turns. A typical turn is choosing a card to play, moving between 0 and 3 armies (to multiple destinations), deciding order of battle, conducting the battle, retreats, and regroups. Plus some extra stuff at the end of the year. Finishing in two hours is about 3 minutes per turn, which is ridiculously fast, maybe you could really speed through everything without thinking but is that enjoyable? Anyway the way we play it, it's probably too much to take on in one day, but split into several days it is fun.


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