29 November: This Week In…

RPGs: more Phandelver, more 5e being mediocre and uninteresting. Meeeeeeh.

Board games: little happened other than a game of X Wing, which prompted me to buy the core set and probably to spend a loooot of money over the next few months/years on X-Wing.

TV: this season of Who finally managed to hit one out of the park, at long last; Heaven Sent was awesome, at least until the last 5 minutes.  Proper spooky Who in the vein of Blink.

Books: finished The Phoneix Code by Catherine Asaro, which was good.

Not much more to report.

14 November – This Week In…

RPGs: continued with Lost Mine of Phandelver.  5e continues to precisely meet my expectations, which are that it will be a mediocre system that doesn’t actually help to tell interesting stories, but that it will be enjoyable enough to finish the mod.  I won’t go back to it, though; I could stand to cut something out of my rather busy hobby life anyway.

Board games: tried out Fury of Dracula, as Dracula, which I enjoyed a lot, though I found it very difficult.  The starter game advises removing most of Dracula’s powers, but leaves the Hunters at more-or-less full strength, which made it really quite tough to play the game effectively.  Plus I didn’t really get a couple of the mechanics properly.  I’m looking forward to playing it again though.

TV: Doctor Who continues to be mostly meh as hell this season.  It’s just… not lived up to its potential at ALL with Peter Capaldi.  I’d’ve liked to see it go to much darker places, to really use his acting chops more, and it’s just not got there for me.

Books: finished Starfarers by Vonda N McIntyre.  Definitely an enjoyable book, a neat combination of tense politics and fun space travel, plus interesting characters and relationships.  Really nothing to fault it on, and I’ll be picking up the rest of the series if I can.

Making: the Ada Lovelace Hackathon took place at OxHack today.  I wasn’t up to much making, but I facilitated where I could, helped out with finishing the 3d printed difference engine carry, and mostly constructed a paper automaton, and a balsa wood ornithopter, though I actually completed neither project.  A number of others did, though, which was gratifying.  Plus, we got out second hand Roland CNC mill up and running, which I’m really looking forward to trying out.  A good day overall.

4 November 2015 – This week in…

OK, so it’s more like this fortnight in, so sue me.

RPGs: The Lost Mine of Phandelver 5e starter pack campaign.  So far, so mediocre.  The combat is quick, but very, very dull.  The intention of the mod seems to be that combat should be avoided, and out of combat stuff done instead, but thus far we have been ambushed no less than 4 times, including once when we successfully negotiated a settlement beforehand.  And even when we do try to do stuff out of combat, there’s no avoiding the fact that a: the majority of character resources are combat-based, and b: out of combat stuff is dull as piss, there’s nothing new or different to any prior edition here.  It’s still the same old high-variance d20 roll under.  I doubt I’ll carry on much longer, but I’ll give it at least one more week.  And the less said about the Moon Druid the better…

It’s not that I’m not enjoying it.  I am.  But the system isn’t helping in any particular way; there’s not enough optimisation and tactical nuance to the combat to satisfy my tactical brain, and there’s almost nothing to really help with the non-combat, so… what is there?

Before that, also played a round of Fiasco (White Hole) which was highly entertaining, and really shows up the flaws in D&D generally, especially with prewritten mods.  There was a lot more invention in that one evening than there has been in three sessions of Phandelver so far, and a lot more enjoyment as well.

I really need to learn some more systems.  And we as a group need to get used to more group-driven storymaking.

Board games: Codenames rocks, it was great fun, and crucially, my wife enjoyed it, which is a rare and precious thing!  We played with 3 and 4, and whilst it worked with 3, it was definitely better with 4, and I can see it improving still further with more.  Train of Thought was OK.  Between Two Cities also arrived, albeit in French, and we played a quick 3p game, but I suspect it’s at its worst with low player counts.  It was nonetheless interesting and tactical and quick.  And Jamey was outstandingly quick in resolving the accidental Frenchness.  Also played Pharoah’s Favour again.  Plus a few other games that have long since slipped my mind.

Finally, am growing rapidly more obsessed with X-Wing having finally been able to try it out once, and been list-building on my phone ever since.  I’ve really enjoyed it thus far, it’s good a good balance of skill and luck, although I have to say I’m really not much of a fan of dice-based combat resolution.  But it does have a decent amount of dice manipulation, and there’s a lot of strategy and tactics in both manoeuvring and list-building.  Good game, but very expensive in the long run.  Still not sure if I’m going to invest.

Making: I put together a quick drawstring bag for the Between Two Cities bits using my wife’s sewing machine which went very well and quickly.  Also did some chocolate covered shortbread for office cake rota which went OK but I suck at piping.  Need to do some more making, lots of backburnered projects that haven’t seen the light of day in months, and EMF 2016 is fast approaching…