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Monthly Archives: January 2013

If I could actually be a colonist! OMG, nothing I'd rather do!

If I could be a Martian colonist! Honestly there is nothing I would rather do than help make this kind of book a reality!

So Mars One looks to be one (if not the) first opportunity to get humans on another planet in permanent habitation. They’ve asked for volunteers to go, and while I doubt I’ll actually make the cut (do they really need a web-developer/librarian?) I can think of little I would rather do. I just got an email asking why, and I’m going to go ahead and answer that here (in addition to responding).

I would love to go to Mars. Since I was a teenager I’ve been reading Science Fiction about amazing adventures in space. I know reality will likely be far more tame then most of those old Analog magazines, but I can still think of almost nothing I would rather do.

There’s probably no sentient life on Mars, but it is super important for humanity to spread out to other planets before something terrible happens on this one. It really is only a matter of time before either something beyond our control like a rogue asteroid wipes us out. And failing that there’s more and more ways  we could destroy ourselves whether it’s a WWIII or a Zombie Apocalypse or more likely something else totally unexpected. The sooner we have a viable colony on Mars, the safer the human race’s survival will be.

Then of course there’s the science! We stand to learn so much by living in a different environment, even if the one we would be living in would be mostly artificial, Mars’ environs would be accessible. So many fields could benefit too, whether it’s comparative Geology, to collaborating on Astronomy projects, and a multitude of other possibilities ripe for discovery.

Personally the chance to walk on another planet, and see the Sun set (and rise) on a Mars would be totally worth all the isolation and hardship that would be entailed with this kind of project.

red lights cover

Let me get it out of the way, if you don’t like spoilers don’t read this review. Just be prepared to rage-quit in the last 5 minutes of the movie. However this is a movie about psychic powers so you should already know how the movie ends right?

Well, the ending really really bothers me. Not because I don’t believe in that kind of thing. While I don’t, I do love a good fantasy. So here’s how the movie runs down: Sigourney Weaver is a professional skeptic. Her son is on life support, and has been for a decade or more. She won’t let him die because she doesn’t believe in the afterlife. Cillian Murphy is her plucky side-kick. Together they solve crimes, and defeat evil psychics and charlatans. Robert De Niro is the biggest baddest psychic, who retired years ago. Turns out De Niro is a fraud, and rather than being a physicist Murphy really is a psychic and uses his psychic powers to make De Niro look like the fraud he is. He then claims that he did it for her (Weaver) but regrets that it’s too late for her to know, and intimates she should have pulled the plug on her son.

Do you see the logical disconnect here? All I ask from my fantasy, and I don’t think it’s much, is a little internal consistency. This makes me rage.   So we find out in the end that Paranormal stuff IS real after all… there’s an afterlife, ghosts and all that junk… but because Weaver died before it was discovered she won’t be able to go to heaven and be reunited with her son… because why? Murphy should have been happy. Weaver’s going to find out she was wrong and get reunited with her kid in the afterlife. Doesn’t get much better than that!

So here’s the thing about the afterlife, there are really only a couple of options.

1) When you die, you’re dead, that’s it there’s nothing else.

2) When you die you go on existing.

Now if reality is 1, it doesn’t matter what you believe … you won’t get any sort of gratification for being right, or punishment for being wrong… you won’t be.

However if option 2 is reality, then if you’re an atheist (read skeptic) you’re probably pleasantly surprised to find there is an afterlife after all.

Unless we’re talking Job: A Comedy of Justice, what happens to you when you die isn’t actually based on what you believe though…



Dixit is a great game for all ages. It is a game about balance. It’s a game about telling stories. Here’s how it works. Each player takes a turn being the storyteller. You have a handful of cards with various pictures on them. The storyteller will pick one card and try and tell a story about it that is obvious enough so that at least one person is able to guess it, but not so obvious that everyone does. So Balance. Once the storyteller has put a card face down on the table, everyone else looks through their hands and tries to find the card that would most easily be mistaken for the correct choice. You get a point for everyone who guesses your card instead of the correct card. If no one guesses the right card the storyteller also loses 2 points. If everyone guesses it, the same thing happens. Then it’s time for the next person to tell a story.


If you’ve played Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity then the basic principle will be familiar to you, but the added interaction of trying to come up with stories that only one person will get is a refreshing change. Plus you don’t have to worry about someone always picking certain cards as right just because they think it’s funny which can be a problem in both A2A and CAH. Games are fairly quick once everyone understands what’s going on, and participation is pretty constant. The cards are beautifully illustrated, and there are 2 “expansion packs” that each have another 80 or so cards to either make the base game longer, or give a  new twist to it. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you have a chance. The only downside is this game really requires 4 or 5 players to shine, and supports 6 at most. I’m kind of tempted to make a 8 player expansion, I don’t think it would slow down the game much, and with 2 packs of cards it should still be sufficiently long.

Mission DebriefApril 6th

Unrest is high in Mexico, Russia, India and Australia. We have Satellites over Japan and Germany, and should have processing power to put two more up by the 15th.

April 8th

Multiple Abduction sites have been reported. France and Argentina will have to make due w/ their own national defenses, we’re prioritizing Egypt. If we have time we’ll send the sky ranger out again. For now we’ll be sending out 3 Experienced soldiers, Joanna ‘Prototype’, Heavy; Wendy ‘Stacks’, Support; and Will ‘Hex’, Sniper. Two Rookies will also be joining them, James T and Kevin H.

The Alien Incursion zone is a rail station. The squad moves carefully forwards as usual, and after a few minutes of infiltration a pair of Thin Men are spotted by Joanna inside one of the trains.  Joanna and Wendy both takes shots on one of them as it fires on James. Sadly only the x-ray connects, though James is merely wounded. As Joanna moves to a better position, the other member of the pair fires on her but misses.

James moves up behind a Line Map Kiosk and takes a shot, while he misses the distraction allows Wendy to move up to his position and patch him up. Kevin meanwhile has moved up and taken a position in the train from which he and Joanna can concentrate fire on the x-ray that wounded James. They take it down, but Joanna claims she got the killing blow. Will moves up to try and pin down the other, but it fires off some sort of toxic grenade that poisons him. He returns fire, putting a single round into the alien’s head and putting it out of commission.

Meanwhile as Kevin moves down the train to check that it is clear he spots another pair of Thin Men on the tracks. Joanna moves up and takes one of them down, the other has moved to cover though. James and Wendy move to catch up with the rest of the squad. As Wendy moves down the train car the second one springs from ambush, wounding her with plasma fire. Joanna takes a moment to put in a fresh clip. Wendy returns fire, but her wounds are too severe and her shots go wide. Kevin move up behind her and uses his medkit to fix her up as best he can, and a good thing too, as the alien moves closer and hits Wendy again seconds after her first wounds are bandaged. Meanwhile James has run even further down the train and is able to flank the last alien taking it out before anymore damage can be done.

Hopefully the doctors back at base will be able to cure Will’s poisoning. Though three of our soldiers were wounded, none is severe, and the docs assure us Will will be back on his feet shortly. Joanna still leads the kill count, with 10 x-rays to her name.



Previous Page (T1167). This is page T11673 of the Choose Your Own Damn Blog Post Adventure Story Thing, if you’re confused start at the first page of the Troll story.

You dash over to the door and standing on your tip-toes peak through the key-hole. On the bright side you can actually see the inside of the room pretty well. It appears to be a study of some kind. There is a desk and couple of chairs. A single window through which sunlight streams. A large, but mostly empty bookshelf and some interesting but complicated looking furniture. Thankfully the room looks to be deserted.

You turn the knob to no avail. A glance over your shoulder shows that the coast is still clear for the moment, and you give a final desperate turn of the knob and this time there is a click and the door opens. You push it open just enough to slip through, and then with effort turn the knob on the inside until the latch retracts and gently push the door shut behind you.

You lean against the door and your heart finally starts beating again and you close your eyes while you try to quiet your breathing. You nearly pee yourself when a voice to your left says with a dubious tone, “Are you here to save me?”

CHOICE (T11673)5 Crap, the room wasn’t empty after-all, quickly, get back out and look for a better hiding place.

CHOICE (T11673)6 Nod and Shush them. Maybe they’ll buy it long enough for whomever is outside to go away.

CHOICE (T11673)7 Examine them, and the room more carefully now that you are in it. Maybe there’s another exit.

I’ve got big plans for Friday, and I’ll be frank, I can’t wait. I’ve had a game for almost fifteen years, and never actually managed to play it. That will change at the end of this week. The game? The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen: A Role-playing Game in a New Style. I’ve put a little preparation in and I am going to detail that below, so if you are attending and want to keep it a surprise, stop reading nor or when I mention “additional spoilers”.

So this may be the first published story-telling style Role Playing game. I certainly can’t think of anything else that fits the bill and is older. The game mechanics, such as they are are fairly simple. Each person dons the persona of a Noble personage and will tell a story. Wagers will be made, duels may be fought, drinks will be drank, and assuming everyone survives the best story will be decided at the end of the night. Someone starts recounting the most entertaining story that ever happened to them. The more unbelievable and fantastic the better. Actual veracity is not a virtue here. At some point during the story, if say it gets boring, or someone is just feeling persnickety, they can interrupt with a wager. To make this more awesome I’ve acquired a large supply of gold dollars. Now the wager could also be called a complication. The storyteller can either take the wager, and incorporate the suggested facts into their story, or they can refuse, and put up a dollar of their own. This continues until someone relents or a duel breaks out. I’ll come back to duels.

Eventually everyone will have told a story. Some people will be a little richer, some a little poorer. Probably no one will be broke or dead. Here’s the beautiful thing about this game. All the money you’ve earned telling stories, and messing with other people… you don’t get to keep it. Instead, at the end of the game it’s voting power. Each person in turn will take their entire coin person and give the contents to the person who they thought told the best story. You are of course not allowed to vote for yourself. Whom ever has the most money after votes are “tallied” wins, and be they an honorable person will use the money to procure drinks.

I said there would be additional spoilers, and here they are. Remember when I mentioned duels? Well I’ve acquired a brace of Nerf dueling flintlock pistols (on loan from the inestimable Grey). Further I have emptied one of my miniatures cases, might just originally have been a repurposed gun case and arrayed the weapons within. In the game it mentions that swords or pistols are the preferred means of resolving disputes, but that failing to have those handy, Rock Paper Scissors is an acceptable substitute. But yeah, while a Nerf Duel may take a lot longer, it’ll be hella cooler.



So here’s the sad truth, if you’ve watched Castle this movie is going to be sadly disappointing for you. I’ll be honest, it’s made me really eager to see the next season of the show. So here’s the premise of the pilot episode of Castle… Mystery writer Richard Castle is a suspect in a case where a serial killer is imitating the grisly murders he’d previously written in his book. He then helps solve the crime, everyone wins … well except for the people who were murdered of course…

In The Raven it’s the same thing, except instead of Nathan Fillion we’ve got John Cusack doing his best Nicholas Cage impression, and instead of Stana Katic we’ve got Luke Evans… the two don’t have quite the same chemistry, but that’s okay, this isn’t a love story. Oh wait, it kind of is… SPOILERS: Poe’s love interest plays a huge role in the story, even if she has almost no role in the film… Alice Eve does do a pretty decent job the few minutes she’s given screen time.

I did quite enjoy reading Poe back in the day, so I guess part of the reason I’m so harsh on it is that I wanted to like it more than it ended up deserving. Or maybe I’ve just been spoiled by how quality Castle is. Still watching it isn’t a total waste of time; just push your expectations down a notch or two before you start and you might end up being pleasantly surprised.

village board big So the biggest problem with worker placement games is the huge front end of explaining how the game works. They can be a ton of fun, and they’re great for building tension as you try and figure out how you can manage to accomplish all of the things you need with limited resources. The newest Worker Placement game in my library is Village.

Now, one of the coolest things about this game is that people are going to die, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. In fact, when people die, they go to the village chronicle (the book in the lower right of the board) … well, as long as there is space. If there isn’t space they go to one of the unmarked graves in the lower left of the board. The game ends when the book is full, or all of the unmarked graves are. There are a lot of ways to get victory points, and if you have 3+ people in the chronicle you’ll get victory points. Depending on the number of players there are more or less spots, and there are limited spaces depending on your peoples’ jobs at the time of their demise. In a 4 player game 2 council members will be recorded, and 5 farmers. And it’s first come first serve, so sometimes you do want to die first.

However there’s more to this game than just dying. There are a mess of resource cubes. Each time you do something you earn one of them. And in general you can’t do a thing unless there are still cubes available for that are. So for instance, the council generally starts with 2 cubes. If they’re gone when your turn comes up you’re basically out of luck. Some tasks can be accomplished w/ the appropriate cubes but more often you’ll use time to get things done. Say you want to create a wagon so you can send one of your family off traveling to distant lands. It’ll take 2 time to for your dude to learn how to make a wagon and 2 more to actually make it. On a future turn it’ll only take 2 time to make a wagon… unless of course your dude dies in the meantime. Every 10 time, one of your dudes dies. And it has to be from your oldest generation. You start with four 1st generation people. The family action will get you three generation 2 people, then 3 and then 4.

There’s a market, which may well be the key to high scores, I haven’t yet seen anyone broach 60 points, though the board goes to 80. The game is a little long at 60-90 minutes, and probably will be longer the first few times you play, but it is quite fun once you get the hang of it, and trying to get your people killed off at just the right time can be kind of hilarious, as can be realizing you let one of your mans live too long. I’m certainly looking forwards to playing a game of this where everyone knows how to play.

april world

March Summery:

Civilian panic is reaching worrying levels in Australia, India, Mexico and Russia. We have had only one casualty so far, Dave F. Base expansion is coming along well. Things could be better, but the outlook is good. Plans are in place for increased satellite coverage. Our scientists are clamoring for capture of a live alien and Engineering claims they’ll have a solution Real Soon™. Officer training has been expanded.

April 6, a UFO landing zone has been spotted. With our expanded Officer training, 5 soldiers have been authorized for this mission. Joanna ‘Prototype’ will be leading the mission. Caitlin is running second in command. Laura H. and Wendy both have some experience, and Laura B. is on her first mission.

As usual, the squad advances with caution. Laura H. is the first to spot enemies, two of whom manage to gain cover before she can bring her weapon to bear. She manages to obliterate the tree trunk it was hiding behind, but there was some rock there as well and it appears to be unscathed. Caitlin moves up and takes a shot with her shotgun, but the range is too far, and her shot does no damage. Two of the three aliens return fire, and she is severely wounded by their fire.

Laura H. unloads the rest of her clip, managing to take out the x-ray by dint of the massive hail of fire she pours in it’s direction. Laura B. moves up and manages to clip one of the two remaining sectoids, but it doesn’t go down. Caitlin falls back and Wendy fixes her up as best she can. Joanna tries to put down the wounded x-ray to no avail, and decides to keep firing, laying down a spray of suppression fire that should at least make the alien think twice about poking it’s head out.

Another 3 sectoids move out of the alien ship to support the first squad. Laura B fires and misses, as does Wendy. Laura H. and Joanna reload. Caitlin moves up to take a shot and slides down an embankment, coming under fire from four aliens, and taking hits from two. Some how she miraculously manages to keep her footing, and, severely wounded, flees back. Laura B. moves closer to the second squad and tosses a grenade which manages to take out all three. This is excellent, as a squad of rocket pack aliens we have not seen before have just shown up.  Wendy drops one of them and Joanna takes down a second. Caitlin after getting patched up a second time, this time b y Laura H. plugs the third and final member of the new squad of unknown aliens.

It looks like there may only be one x-ray left, and the squad moves in to try and take it out. Joanna takes a couple of shots, but it keeps falling back, and she doesn’t want to get too far ahead of the rest of the squad. Wendy moves up and takes it out, but Laura B. who is on the other side of the wreckage alerts the squad that she still hears movement.

Another Energy Alien is spotted inside the landed ship. The squad moves up and tries to cover all of the entrances, but was kind of spread out. As the squad moves in, Wendy spots the alien from the other side of the ship and takes a shot, but misses. However she is able to call out the alien’s location and as it moves from cover a minute later Laura B. is able to connect and put it down.

Another mission with no casualties. Caitlin is hospitalized, but the wounds are surprisingly light consider the number of shots she took. Wendy and Laura B. have both been promoted. Joanna maintains the record for most kills at 8.



Previous Page (T116). This is page T1167 of the Choose Your Own Damn Blog Post Adventure Story Thing, if you’re confused start at the first page of the Troll story.

What’s the expression… Not in Kansas any moar?! … As you take further stock of the situation and look for a good hiding place, several things are apparent. First off this place is big, and it’s not just that the balcony you’re sitting on is long. There is a railing to your left which comes up to almost your shoulders when you’re standing. There are four doors, one just a few yards away, all of which are tall enough that you could probably look through the keyhole without even crouching. The door itself is very fancy, as is the lock panel and door-knob. There are several tapestries that look like they should be in a museum which hang practically all the way to the floor.

Halfway down, between the second and third doors the balcony curves out and there are three huge chairs, an ornate table, and a pair of large fern-like plants. Opposite this sitting area is either an alcove or hallway that leads further back in, but you can’t see into it from where you are at. There is a similar balcony arrangement about 60 feet away, though you do not see an equivalent sitting area on the other side. It looks like both balconies may be serviced by the same Y shaped staircase, on which you are pretty certain you hear steps.

Choice (T1167)1 None of the tapestries lie flat against the wall, and the tassels hit the floor. I dart behind one and then hold still until the coast is clear.

Choice (T1167)2 Those bushes in the sitting area are pretty big, I could hide in there pretty easily, as long as I can get over there before they get upstairs.

Choice (T1167)3 I’ll take a peak through the lock of this door, if it is occupied I can still probably make it to the second room.