Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mice and Mystics

I’m still obsessing over board games.  It’s pretty bad, in a distracted, non-productive way.  And by bad, I mean I even enjoy reading board game reviews, rules discussions, people’s top ten lists, that sort of thing.  I don’t get much chance to play, partly because I just have too many hobbies and interests.  When I have time to play, it’s mostly with close family (wife and daughters), who aren’t generally “into” the sorts of long-playing strategy games that I am most interested in, though I appreciate and enjoy lots of other types of games, too.

On the Fourth of July we met up with some friends and played some games; the most involving was simply blackjack, played with poker chips, which was a nice hanging-around-and-chatting game.  We also went through some trivia cards.  Although they are not my favorite genre of games, this sort of thing makes me want some more party games to play with family and friends at get-togethers.  I recently read about a “werewolf” style game called “Resistance” that sounds great; I’d also love to try “Cash ‘n Guns,” although the cost for that game is very high, perhaps because it no longer in production. (Another problem with that game is that it centers around everyone pointing foam guns at one another, which might be excessively violent for certain people’s tastes within certain contexts, but among my adult friends I think it would be great.)

Over the past few days I finally managed to get my board game fix by playing Mice and Mystics with Erin.  I bought a copy a couple of months ago and had not had a chance to play it, but when I asked last week she jumped in.

The game is fairly simple as far as its basic rules, but is given a pleasant complexity by the players’ ability to make a wide range of decisions, the variability of the game board, and the long-term nature of the game’s story line.  If players choose, it is a heavily story-based game, proceeding through “chapters” that tell a story in which the players are humans who have been turned into mice and must accomplish missions to thwart the plans of an evil sorceress.  Gameplay involves moving one’s mouse figures across castle room tiles and defeating enemy rats, roaches, and other critters in combat.

After some though, I picked up the game based on: 1) Many reviewers said their children really enjoyed it; 2) Lots of adults really enjoyed it; 3) it has simple elements of strategy and combat tactics, appealing to the miniatures gamer in me; 4) the game components and artwork look appealing and well-designed.

I was a little worried that my immediate family would be turned off by a game in which the heroes ran around killing rats with swords, since we are such a pet-rat-heavy family, but thankfully the game rules and story line are not explicit when it comes to the bloodshed.  You can interpret “defeating” your enemies however you want.  If a mouse-player is defeated, he or she is captured, not killed.

Erin and I finished the first chapter last night, and she seemed to really enjoy it. Jill jumped in a played a little, too, and was interested on-and-off in the proceedings.  It went well, we won the chapter, and Erin said she wanted to keep playing to see what happens next, so I am very happy!

I’d love to pick up another game sometime soon, but it’s hard to decide what.  I think Ticket to Ride will probably be next, since it’s high on so many people’s top ten lists of family games AND games every gamer should own AND “gateway” games that would be enjoyed by non-gamers.  I even just heard one game reviewer call it one of the very few games that he would call “flawless.”

Sometimes terrible photos have a charm all their own. In my opinion, anyway.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Independence Day

 July 4: Rained all day. Went to parents' house with lots of family; great homemade ice cream and birthday cake; great brats, hot dogs, and vegetables; fun drawing contest; fun visit; went to friends in the evening, played games and talked; did sparklers after dark when rain let up.
July 5: Attended Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration at Peterson-Dumesnil House in Crescent Hill. Rain threatened the whole time; ate ice cream; listened to live music; looked at art & craft booths; accidentally met up with some friends; our girls and their girls danced and played; watched fireworks while it sprinkled; heavier rain didn't start until drive home, late.
All-around success.

Painting gladioluses

I’m working on a commission that I’ve decided to do primarily with acrylics.  I’ve used acrylics for many purposes, and use them frequently, but I actually haven’t attempted many complete “works of art” with acrylics alone.

This is not a photo of the commission work, but rather a smaller painting that I’m working on alongside of it, only in acrylic.  A couple of years ago I did an acrylic landscape that I was not satisfied with; this will be only my second full acrylic painting (not counting murals) since, oh, probably 1987.

This is also my first flower painting since 1987. Ironically, the last floral I painted was also the first full painting I had ever done with oil paints.  I don’t normally go in much for flower paintings, but I love the glads that bloom in our yard each year and have sort of wanted to paint them.  Also, I hear they are popular, and I’d like to have another painting to display at the art fair later this month. (That’s another reason I chose acrylic: oils would never dry in time for the art fair.)

Friday, July 05, 2013

Seven-year-old's art

...She had this listed under "Invention's," but I think would file it under "What the hell?"

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Feeding alpacas

 Thanks to my sister-in-law, Pam, we got to visit an alpaca farm for an alpaca party.  Don't you want a dozen for your back yard?

Monday, July 01, 2013


I decided to go for a walk in the woods at lunch, and then encountered wildlife before I even left the building.