Board Games Magic Number: May 2017

It is time for another update to my 2017 magic number.

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6/8 Bought Letters from Whitechapel
6/23 Bought Kamisado
6/23 Bought Martian Dice
Remove from List

n/a
Net Change: +3

Current Number: 21

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Review: Goblintown Justice

Goblintown Justice
Goblintown Justice by Matt Forbeck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this short story which I happened to discover as a free download somewhere. It felt like a police procedural (I think?) but in a fantasy setting. It was well enough written that I am interested in reading the first full novel in the Shotguns & Sorcery series Hard Times in Dragon City

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Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We recently started a small book club at work and this was our second monthly read. For the most part I only read YA when it is a group selection like this and it is definitely outside of my wheelhouse. I felt like I knew what was coming at a macro level but the details of how it unfolded were still interesting. The writing style was pretty good and I liked the integration of the illustrations.

There isn’t a lot of space for character development in such a short work but I felt that Conor was still interesting. The book was good but not great and was definitely worth my time to read (since it didn’t take all that long).

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Review: The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World

The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World
The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While there was a lot of monologue in this installment I didn’t feel that it was too much. Most good stories seem to have an ebb and flow between action and exposition and TWD is no exception. I was initially reading the comics a bit ahead if the TV show which was interesting but now that I have fallen really far behind it is still interesting to see how the two stories diverge.

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Review: The Eltingville Club

The Eltingville Club
The Eltingville Club by Evan Dorkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Outstanding work as always. All the great early stuff is still awesome. I really enjoyed the final chapter of the club even if I am embarrassed that it took me two years after publication to finally read it. I still consider myself very lucky to have gotten a signed Milk & Cheese piece of art from Evan himself at one of his last SDCC appearances.

If you like irreverent humor then you will love this book, it really spears the annoying side of geek culture right in the balls.

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Board Game Magic Number Update: April 2017

This is the second belated update about my Magic Number for board games.

Add to List

  • Bought Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
  • Traded for 7 Wonders: Duel
  • Traded for Lost Cities
  • Bought used copy of Zombicide Season Two: Prison Outbreak

Remove from list

  • Played The Oregon Trail Card Game
  • Played Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
  • Played The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus
  • Played Alien Frontiers

Net Change: zero
Current Magic Number: 19

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Board Game Magic Number Update: March 2017

As I recently posted I am trying to decrease my board game magic number this year. I started in February at 20 and since the initial post was over two months late this is the first of two belated monthly updates.

Remove from list

  • 3/9 Played Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

Net Result: -1
Current Magic Number: 19

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Board Gaming Magic Number 2017

I found Ryan Graham’s post on BGG about the Magic Number (a term coined on his Out of Game podcast) quite motivating personally as I have been buying new games faster than I can get them to the table for the past couple of years. In a nutshell your Magic Number (MN) is the number of games that you own and have yet to play.

There are a few exclusions however:

  • Games where you played someone else’s copy instead of your own
  • Expansions (only count base games); I suppose you could include expansions on the list or even have a separate magic number just for expansions
  • Games you picked up to trade away, sell or otherwise have no intention of playing (such as a special collector’s edition)

I like the idea of starting each year with a list of the games that comprise your magic number followed by monthly updates of games played (reducing the number) and games added (increasing the number). While I am a major stats geek I don’t think I will go to the extreme of creating a graph of monthly progress, mostly because I anticipate changes of less than 2-3 games per month.

Below is my personal MN list for 2017 as of March 1st at 20 entries, here is the Geeklist on BGG. I will post live updates in the comments there and add/remove games from the list; I will only be posting monthly updates here.

I am hoping that by quantifying my “excess inventory” if you will that I can at least keep the number stable without having to go on a game buying freeze for the rest of the year. (I had intended to post this here in March but blew it.)

Rick’s Magic Number List February 2017
The Adventurers: the Pyramid of Horus
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Alien Frontiers
Anachronism
Artifacts, Inc.
Bootleggers
Bring Out Yer Dead
Cthulhu Gloom
Dragon Master
Eaten By Zombies!: In Cahoots
Hawken: Real-Time Card Game – Sharpshooter vs. Bruiser
Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
MegaCorps
Redshirts
The Rivals for Catan
Rivet Wars: Eastern Front
Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
The Swarm
Wings of War: Famous Aces

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Review: Ravished By Reagansaurus

Ravished By Reagansaurus
Ravished By Reagansaurus by Mandy De Sandra
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was expecting more from this book based on the blurb and the cover art but it just didn’t live up to its potential. There were some silly plot choices that just didn’t make sense, even for a bizarro story. There were also too many typos and instances of bad grammar for me to turn a blind eye. I really like the far outside the mainstream story ideas but they don’t excuse poor writing and copy editing; I feel like the author either either decided to forgo the additional cost of a copy editor or she made a poor choice of editors since that many mistakes should not have made it into print.

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Review: Aliens are Real, and I am Pretty

Aliens are Real, and I am Pretty
Aliens are Real, and I am Pretty by Jeff O’Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy was this a fun read! I really like Jeff’s style and this bite-sized morsel delivers. The color covers at the end were a nice surprise too. My favorites were the haiku (or is the plural haikus?), goddamn hilarious.

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Review: Anathem

Anathem
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought the chunky paperback version of this book several years ago but then proceeded to get caught up in reading a high number of lower page count books so it started gathering dust on my (literal) TBR shelf. This year I decided it was high time to finally dive into this beast and it was the best reading decision I have made in a long time.

I think the author could easily have broken this up into two or three volumes which would have the dual benefits of not scaring away people with a nearly 1000 page count and also presumably increasing revenue. I admire Stephenson for not going that way, plus I enjoyed the heft of this sucker in my hands every time I picked it up.

Based on the blurb I wasn’t sure if this was actually a fantasy book or not and it actually took me a bit to figure out that it was not. The end of the blurb foreshadowed a bit plot point that came late in the book but I had forgotten about it by the time I got there so no harm, no foul (at least for someone forgetful like me). Between the blurb and the fact that I loved Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon (another giant tome) I was confident that I would like this book, in fact it turns out that I love it!

The book did start off a bit slow but that was due to the immense amount of world-building that is necessary to set up the long game here. It was a bit confusing at first also but it wasn’t very difficult to push through as the story plot picked up fairly quickly. I really enjoyed how many concepts had a different name but were very similar (identical in some cases) to Earth concepts.

The characterization was very well done in my opinion. I had trouble keeping some of the names straight at first but that eventually passed. By the end of the book I felt very invested in not only the main characters that had first appeared at the beginning of the book but also other characters who were introduced later.

I realize that this review has been quite vague but I don’t want to risk spoiling a single thing for anyone. While it can take quite a while to push through over 900 pages it will be well worth the time investment by the time you reach the end. Even the three essays at the end were very enjoyable for me (although people who aren’t so into math and such may not appreciate them as much as I did as they are a bit dry).

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Review: Waters of Death

Waters of Death
Waters of Death by Irving A. Greenfield
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My wife bought me this book while she was shopping for Make Room! Make Room! and the blurb was interesting enough that I started in on it right away (temporarily putting aside the 981 page monstrosity I was reading). I really like the dystopian setting where the only way to get enough food is to farm the sea and having a lower caste doing the farming puts an interesting sociological twist.

This was published in 1967 and it shows. What I noticed the most was the outdated way in which the female characters were portrayed, it kept reminding me the entire time that the book was as old as I am. At first I thought that the “romantic” sub-plot was irrelevant but I came around later when more of the story had unfolded. Even so I felt that this thread took an implausible turn which earned it ten demerits. (Are demerits even a thing in book reviews?)

The primary plot proceeded along nicely until we actually get out in the field. The scene where we finally get to see what is going on under the surface felt unsatisfying to me, it changed from a plausible set of circumstances where I was eager to find out what was causing the harvest problems to a really lame climactic scene that I felt didn’t tie up the storyline.

I didn’t care for the writing style very much either, the dialogue was often stilted. There was some world building that was delivered as dialog which felt out of place as the character listening to the exposition would have known that information in many cases.

I really wanted to like this since the seed for a great story is there but with the flaws pointed out above I can’t rate it any higher than three stars.

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Review: Neon Trash: Forgotten B-Movies of the ’80s

Neon Trash: Forgotten B-Movies of the '80s
Neon Trash: Forgotten B-Movies of the ’80s by M.P. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that the extent of my experience with B movies in the 80s was pretty much from Up All Night on USA (thanks Rhonda Shear). I think I only saw one Troma flick during that time, the first Toxie. Neon Trash made me feel like I missed out on some great stuff. We love to sit around watching really bad movies and most of the ones in this book would fit right in.

Even so many of the reviews were godamn hilarious and I don’t feel like I need to see them. This is a quick read, great for a lazy Sunday. The bonus bio story at the end was fun, too.

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Review: Bolt Action: World War II Wargames Rules: Second Edition

Bolt Action: World War II Wargames Rules: Second Edition
Bolt Action: World War II Wargames Rules: Second Edition by Warlord Games
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not sure whynitbtook me three months to finish this except that it was very slow goingbon the assembly of my Soviet infantry. It will be interesting to finally play Bolt Action as it will be my fist “buckets o’ dice” miniatures game. I am building a mid- to late war Soviet army but the fiddly plastic models have been a real challenge.

This core rule book provides some generic army composition rules for the major powers but you will definitely want at least your Armies Of book if not an additional source book to assemble an interesting histoeic force rather than just a generic force.

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Review: The Runner

The Runner
The Runner by W.J. Davies
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another good story set in the Wool universe. I am impressed at how Hugh Howey has allowed other authors to extend his setting with new stories and characters. I very quickly became invested in Mick and Ace in this story and find myself wanting to continue the series. I have yet to read a story based on Wool that I didn’t like, each one seems to take a slightly different angle and they have all been interesting.

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