Wednesday, 21 August 2019

NYTC: E-lapse

This post is about today's New York Times Crossword. It contains spoilers for the puzzle. 

This time around on the crossword corner, I tackled today's Wednesday puzzle from the New York Times. Wednesdays tend to be theme puzzles that are a little trickier and have slightly more obscure clues than Tuesdays but don't try to mess with you with tricky double meanings like Thursdays do.

Perhaps I'm just a little out of practice with crosswords, but I struggled to get this one to work for me, which combined with the app refusing the behave for me resulted in an unusually slow time compared to my average: but as is usual for Wednesdays I could at least be pretty sure that when I put in an answer it was more or less right.

The theme itself was pretty easy to pick, but due to the loose category nature, actually getting the theme answers was a pretty tough asks, especially since some of them -I'm looking at you, TERM SHEET- were pretty rubbish. That's forgivable if some of the answers are real groaners, but honestly they mostly just...were. The clues themselves were neat, but unfortunately the payoff just wasn't there for the answers.

Time: 29:40 (about 5 minutes slow)
Best Clue: Bounces of the wall, say (ECHOES)
What we learned: OCHS feels like the sort of crosswordese I should probably just devote to memory.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

This Week in Gaming

Note: As you may have guessed by the fact it was published at 2am, this post has been in the pipeline for a while. For 'this week' please read 'last week'.

It's been a quiet week for gaming here at Leaflocker HQ, with other important things in life like house moving and weddings taking the front seat, but there's always time for a game or two here and there.

Over the Board

My only chance to play anything face-to-face was at our regular college Monday night board games night. We started off slow with just James and I, so we returned to last week's quest for the perfect game of Hanabi, this time in its two-player incarnation. Two-player Hanabi is an interesting beast. I miss the extra level of *wink wink* information you can pass to other players when you tell someone something that is techincally true but misleading, but in exchange the 2P game gets this interesting back and forth rhythm that adds an extra sense of importance to each and every move. It can also royally just mess you up if you both end up discarding cards that just a moment ago looked innocuous, but thankfully we managed to avoid that pitfall. Instead, we failed by each forgetting pieces of information at the critical time, so it felt a lot like we were defeated by our own mistakes rather than by the game, leaving us frustrated by our own hubris and wanting more, which is always a good feeling.
By the time the fireworks had ended, there was a good gathering of people, and as they kept streaming in the door we began a game of Monday night favourite, 7 Wonders. As always with Monday nights, there were a couple of brand new players, so I again didn't spring the Leaders expansion on them right out of the gate, but we had a good tight-fought base game, with one big science player, a big military build-up -thankfully on the other side of the board from me-, and a good smattering of big resource owners. I drew Halicarnassus, which I generally find to be a generally useless wonder unless you're going big in science or need to fight, so I abandoned building the wonder entirely and just focused on building a lot of yellow and blue cards, ended up becoming fabulously rich and carrying the day.

By this point in the night numbers were still going up, so we split into two groups, with eight people indulging in a couple of games of Captain Sonar while I led a five-player game of Paperback, which I always sell to people as a mixture between Scrabble and Dominion. As usual for a five-player game, this one took a while, but it rolled along at a pretty good rate with a whole host of good words being created, and when we finished I was a couple of points short of winning, with Luisa's high-value letters outweighing my solid card-drawing deck.

We finished the evening with a couple of silly party games of A Fake Artist Goes to New York and Elon Musk's iPod Submarine, which are both essentially the same game as Spyfall, where the players try to secretly communicate information to each other without tipping off the secret plant among them. Not normally my cup of tea, as they require too much creativity, but good fun games with the right crowd.

On the Screen

It's quite literally been a quiet week on the videogames front, as I've been more-or-less restricted to games that can be played without audio and can be easily paused or looked away from so that I can use my sight and hearing organs for important cricket watching activities. I've already talked about my forays into Opus Magnum, but I also played a little bit of Mini Metro and N++, games which I talked about last week.
I've also played and abandoned two different expert-level campaigns of Klei Entertainment's excellent turn-based stealth game Invisible Inc. I've been enjoying this one on and off for a while now, I've finished the campaign on the lower difficulties a few times and I think I've more or less reached my skill plateau, as I don't have the patience to wait for guard patrols that could potentially burst into any room each turn, so I tend to get my agents into sticky situations that I can't extricate them from. I still keep hitting that new game button, though, so even though I've stopped making progress it still has a hold on me, particularly late at night when my body has gone to sleep but my mind wants more.

Not a great week for the online mahjong either, with my Tenhou scores being 2-4-1-4. Though I had slihtly more positive results that negative ones, each 2nd place is only worth a quarter as many points as a 1st placing, so on average over the week I was down one game on aggregate. If it hadn't been for a bit of a resurgence over the weekenf it could have been a lot worse, though, so all hope is not lost yet.

I hope you found a little time to enjoy your hobbies this week.

Monday, 19 August 2019

The tyranny of the backlog

As has become a familiar Blaugust story, I have once again let the backlog get ahead of me. In the first week, I managed eight posts, in the second, I only managed five. In this third week, which at this point is more than half-way done already, I've only squeaked out two posts. Last years effort looks remarkably similar, with seven, followed by five, followed by two, and only one post in the final week. 2017 was even worse, with seven, then four, then nothing else for a year. I guess I am nothing if not consistent in my inconsistency. Honestly the remarkable thing is that there were ever years like my golden age of blogging from 2014 to 2016 in which I managed to keep the pump primed all month.

While I hadn't intended to keep up daily posting when planning for this blogging festival, there's a reason that I start out each Blaugust that way, as I do tend to find that it makes writing a much easier hobby.  Keeping up the daily routine keeps me honest, and for the most part once I've actually brought myself to start a post they've been coming out relatively easily, even though if I was being paid by the word I'd probably go hungry. Once I've had a day without posting at all then finding the time and motivation to write quickly becomes extremely haphazard and I'm much more likely to just let it slide again once there's no chance of winning Belghast's shiny trophy for that Blaugustines that manage 31 posts for the month.

Blogging in the comfort of the common room, with a cup of coffee close to hand.

So for the rest of the month I'm going to try writing first thing in the morning -when I wake up, anyways, sometimes that's still morning- instead of leaving it until later on as has been by habit so far. I'll have to put a time limit on my writing time so that it doesn't take up the whole day, which will hopefully enforce a little more structure on what has otherwise been a pretty free-form activity. Hopefully that will leave me time each afternoon to do the actually important stuff like packing up our house while I'm properly awake, as well as leaving more time in the evenings for catching up with all of the Oxfordians that we need to say goodbye to before we clear out of here. If I have free evenings, I am going to try to catch up a little bit of this backlog by posting a second time here and there, but looking at the schedule I'm thinking those days are going to be few and far between. 

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Action Replay, Replay

I talked last week about the joy that I derive from action replays in games, and the ability that more and more puzzle games are giving you these days to produce .gifs of your solutions.

This week I had my first encounter with a satisfying little puzzle game that goes this really well, Opus Magnum, made by Zachtronics in 2017 -and therefore one of the more modern games that I've actually played, given that I have a big Steam backlog and a potato for a computer-. I'd seen mentions of Zachtronics games before, mostly in the context of them being a very small company that makes games for people that are smarter than I am. They made games like Space Chem and Infinifactory and Shenzhen I/O, games that are mostly about making complicated machines do complicated things.

Apparently not so daunted by this as to run off screaming, I loaded up Opus Magnum, and by two or three puzzles in I had three realisations:

One. I am terrible at this sort of game.
Two. I love this sort of game.
Three. It has .gif output.

Thus, to demonstrate why I am bad at this sort of puzzle, let me present some gifs.
The first is the final solution that I managed to come up for for one of the puzzles in Chapter III, where I was tasked to make a rope. My solution has three very basic moving parts. One rotor produces the ingredients and delivers them to a second arm which creates the basic structure, and a third arm on a track delivers the new segment to the rope. I think it's a simple, elegant solution, but as you'll note, this machine has a cost of 115, uses 264 cycles to run, and takes up an area of 54.
When you finish a machine, you're given some handy histograms to see how your machine compares to everybody else's. You'll see while my area is about as small as the most common solutions, there are people out there that have managed cheaper and much faster machines. I know that there are people all over the internet that can do all sorts of incredible things in video games, and I'm quite okay with never being one of them, but getting the histogram to the face each time I finish a level that I feel like I've done well in is quite a hit to the ego.

I haven't worried about optimising my machines very much. I'd love to say that this it just because it's my first play-through and that I'll probably go back and improve them later on. But the truth is that I probably won't. Because when I try to complicate things with clever mechanisms, things like this happen:

You'll notice that this gif isn't as nice and shiny as the last one, because I had to make it manually myself, as Opus Magnum doesn't give you outputs for machines that don't solve the problem. You'll also notice that in my attempt to make a machine with a smaller footprint but a slightly more complicated mechanism I have made too many many bonds. I have managed to -as they say in the business- goof it up. Even better, it almost looks right, so it wasn't immediately apparent to me that I hadn't solved the problem.

Basically, my issue is that I can more or less program one tool to do one series of complicated tasks, or many tools to do one simple thing each, as long as all those things either happen in sequence or happen all at once. But if multiple tools need to do complicated things at once, or to stagger their effect somehow, I just can't get the steps right in my head, and it doesn't seem to matter what I try, that sort of information just won't stay there. I can struggle through on trial and error, but not in a way that means I learn anything.

This isn't just limited to games, the same goes for real life, most notably sports. I can more or less run because it has a simple repeating cycle. I can play snooker or badminton because you basically just have to use the one arm at a time. I cannot play netball because I have to pay attention to not falling over, where I am on the court, where the other players are, and where my hands need to be so that I don't get hit in the face.I can't dance for the life of me, because you're supposed to move both arms and legs -and even, God forbid, hips- independently but at the same time.

I've come to terms with this. I play the sports I can and make attempts at games, even if I know that I probably won't be great at them and that I'll probably never be able to see the later levels unless I'm prepared to swallow my pride and resort to walkthroughs on GameFaqs or wherever it is the kids get hooked up with the pro gamer moves these days. That's fine with me. Except I'd really like to know how this one ends...
Just to add salt to the wound, it turns out that the puzzle I chose to demonstrate to you happens to appear in the Opus Magnum trailer. At 0:50 in this video, there's an example of a solution to the rope problem that I just can't begin to comprehend creating. It has five arms of three different types. Three tracks. It pumps out atoms so fast, and it does the final three steps simultaneously.

Some people's Brains are incredible and can do incredible things.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Souls Which Are Pregnant

As the eagle-eyed may have noticed by the suspicious lack of blog posts a couple of times this week, it's been a busy week here at Leaflocker HQ, and a busy week means a lack of the dedicated focused reading time needed to get really dug into the weekly readings. I was left with almost half of the planned pages still to read yesterday morning in order to get this post to you on time, and I didn't quite get there. To be honest, if it hadn't been for the rain interruptions with the cricket you'd have been unlikely to reading this at all.
After bemoaning having to read all the books off of a screen after the loss of my tablet last week, I did the sensible thing and just went the 50 metres across the quad to the college library to read my Plato and Herodotus this time around. Since even the masters students have flown the nest by this point in the year, I had the whole thing completely to myself, apart from the one fellow reader pictured above. He seemed very well-read, but wasn't very forthcoming with him opinions on Plato, so I left him in silence and went about my reading.

The Week That Was:

The History of Herodotus

Book VI

I still can't keep all my various Greek islands straight, but I guess that it's not really important in the long run. Things are heating up between the Greeks and Darius, and after the early sorties this week I think we can be looking forward to some serious fireworks next time around. I still don't know why the Spartans keep listening to the oracle, it's pretty clear to me that the Pythoness just doesn't have their best interests in mind.

The Symposium by Plato

Hey! This is where Aristophanes and his excellent story about how people used to have four feet and are now searching the world for their other halves comes from! I was not expecting that to pop up in the midst of these series of speeches in praise of love.

When we got to the main event of Socrates speech I was feeling pretty uninspired, since to my mind he started off with a pretty poor argument and it felt like he was going to stay on that track the whole time, but thankfully he moved on, and the argument about love as a creative force is an interesting idea indeed. Overall, I think this was the best of the Plato that we've read so far, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he has for us next time we revisit him.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Chapters XVI

Defoe is actually pretty good at action scenes, which came as a bit of surprise to me after so much of the action up to this point happening inside Crusoe's head. The attack on the cannibals that Crusoe has been fantasising about on and off for seemingly half the book so far finally happens, and with three to twenty-one numbers, the element of surprise carries the day. Reading the book digitally means I'm not completely sure, but we must be heading towards the end now, and while it's been a good time, I think we've probably experienced everything that Crusoe has to offer.

Of Discourse by Francis Bacon

Another good one from Bacon. He seems to have his priorities in the right place, in this case his point is mostly that it's better to make conversation than to hold court and impress everyone with how eloquent you are. Normally I commend Bacon for his brevity, and while his packed a lot into one page, on this occasion I think he could probably just put the whole thing in a tweet.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Volume III - Book I

After spending a couple of weeks complaining about the detailed descriptions of a throw-away house during the last volume, we open this one by returning to the house after all. Maybe I need to give Hugo more credit. That said, it still seems unlikely that we really need to know the detailed history and layout of the house, no matter who lives there, but let's wait and see.

The title 'Paris studied in its atom' didn't exactly fill me with confidence for there being a lot of plot development in today's reading, and indeed there wasn't any, but it was an enjoyable read. Hugo's detailed, passionate descriptions of the city are really something. Everything that exists elsewhere exists at Paris indeed.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

Chapters XII-XIII

So we come to the employment of Mr. Weller. It's got to be a change for the Weller, too, as it's just not Dicken's unless one of the characters in each scene talks with a weird accent #punachieved. I can't say that I got a whole lot out of Pickwick this time around, it mostly just washed past me, but hey, there's a lot of chapters and they can't all be winners.

Some Numbers: 

This week we passed the 1000 pages of the Great Books of the Western World series read. We also passed 100 pages of philosophy and theology dialogues spread over six different titles, 5 of which are the various Platonic works that we've finished. But never fear, there's plenty more where that came from, as we still have eight Platonic dialogues to get through, not counting the twelve that we discarded during the great notoriety cull at the beginning of the project.

Pages last week: 114
Pages so far: 2803

Readings for Week XXV: 

Thanks to an absolutely gargantuan reading from the Histories, we're left with just enough room for three other titles to keep it company. Alongside excerpts from Defoe and Hugo we're going to take a risk and have a shot at George Santayana's Lucretius, because at some point we have to tackle Lucretius anyways, and also because Santayana famously said that thing about the past and being condemned to relive it. You'd have thought after the Emerson debacle I'd have learnt about picking books just on a pithy quote or two from the author, but I guess I have always been slow to learn, and I'm not going to change the habit of a lifetime after just one somewhat perplexing dive into modernism.

Dr. J, whose reading plan I am using as my starting line, also read D.H. Lawrence's The Rocking-Horse Winner, but he didn't have Sons and Lovers on his list like we do on ours, so I figure we can skip this one and hold out for the main event. It's a busy enough week as it is.

The History of Herodotus

Book VII (56 pages)

#gbbw #manandsociety #history #greek

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Chapter XVII (10 pages)

#ggb #imaginativeliterature #novel #english

Lucretius by George Santayana

(18 pages)

#ggb #manandsociety #essay #english #oneshot

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 

Volume III - Books II-III (28 pages)

#non_gbww #imaginativeliterature #novel #french

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Through History with the Monday Quiz in Exile: The 1510's

It's Wednesday, so that means it's time for the Monday quiz. Congratulations are due to John, Bhagpuss and Ale for braving last week's quiz and for your scores of 7,5 and 5 respectively in what I'd thought was an extremely challenging week. For those of you who missed out, feel free to pop back to last week's quiz and try your luck before coming back and checking your answers below.

With that excellent showing I'm expecting some very impressive results in your comments this week as we dive in the 1510's, but as usual we appreciate the effort of giving in the good old college try rather than actually happening to arrive at the correct answers.

The Quiz

1) Who is pictured here, possibly apocryphally, in 1517, casually starting the Reformation?

2) From where were sunflowers, which have been domesticated since at least 2500BC, first brought to Europe in 1510?

3) Which astronomer, who wouldn't widely publish his theories until 30 years later, contradicted Ptomely's model of the universe in his Commentariolus in the early part of the 1510's?

4) In 1517, the Mamluk Sultanate was defeated by the Ottoman Empire, leading to 350 years of Ottoman rule of which modern-day country?
5) Which artist, who had never seen a rhinoceros, produced this woodcut in 1515 from a written description and a sketch from another artist?

6) Which modern capital city was founded by conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in August 1515?

7) Which Archbishop of York was appointed both Cardinal by the Pope and Lord Chancellor by King Henry VIII of England in 1515?

8) Which political treatise, not publically available until the 1530's, was written following the author's arrest and banishment from Florence by the Medici family in 1513?
9) The Portuguese conquered Goa in 1510. We all know and appreciate the tight Euro strategy game with the same name, which country is Goa, actually?

10) Considered one of the most important works of the Northern Renaissance, In Praise of Folly, published in 1511, was the work of which humanist?

Monday, 12 August 2019

7 Little Questions

If, like me, you've been trying to keep up with the Blaugust posts this week, then you'll have noticed a few iterations of this little 'seven questions' LiveJournal-style meme floating about. I never had a LiveJournal, but I absorbed the content of quite a few of them back in the day, and when I gt around to making a blog I tried to keep a lot of the personal day-to-day nature that seemed to ooze out of them, as I remember how much I enjoyed seeing those little glimpses into people's day-to-days, and the ups and downs of real life. 

Remember when we called these viral things that travelled from blog to blog memes? I must have sent the answers to hundreds of these questions to various friends over the years. I hate to think what dirt sort of them must have on me, should I ever lose my marbles enough to attempt to run for public office.

These questions appeared on Naithin's Time to Loot blog earlier in the week, and I thought it would be a good topic, both for my weekly response to Blaugust post and also for 'Getting to Know You' week. I hope that you get a little peek into my life through it and that you find a little enjoyment in getting to know me a little better. Feel free to ask more questions if you feel it drags any up, too, there's few things I enjoy more than talking about myself, after all.

What hobbies or interests do you have that you might not regularly include on your blog?

The part of my life that takes up the most time but goes mostly under the radar here on the Leaflocker is probably my faith. From the blog I imagine that people would get an idea that I spend all of my time playing games and generally lounging about, and while that's not a completely inaccurate assessment, I also spend a significant amount -though never as much as I'd like- of my time reading and praying, and for most of the life of the blog I've been working in churches too.
The beautiful College Chapel has been an important place of meditations and reflection for me in recent years.

I've tried to share some Christian stuff on the blog here and there -last Blaugust one of my weekly topics was going to be the homilies that I've planned or preached for our college chapel- I've generally found that I have to work very hard to make it work. Somehow the tone and flow that I have here doesn't work for it. Maybe it's just that I do take my faith seriously and the blog is a casual pursuit with a pretty high level of irreverence that doesn't suit it. The same can be said for my daily life, though, I'm not a very committed evangelist because I struggle to make room for my faith in my daily conversations unless I'm really working at it, so it's not just a blog thing!

Are you learning any skills at the moment? If not, what would you like to learn?

I've done a little bit of self-taught book-binding here and there, and that's something that I'd really like to spend a bit more effort committing to on a larger scale. It's a relatively easy way to make something beautiful and personal, and as someone who is terrible at giving gifts but likes to keep busy it seems like a perfect hobby to get me out of the constant bind of wondering what to get people for birthdays and weddings.

Ultimately by the end of the Great Conversation Project I'd like to be able to make my own hard-bound versions of the books that make my own personal canon and have a whole shelf of matching books that I've printed and bound myself, but that's a pretty long-term goal, and not just because the Great Conversation is currently looking like running for about 70 years.

If you were invited on a one-way trip to Mars to establish a new colony, would you go?

I think so. Living away from home for a while has shown me that while I do suffer from homesickness, often pretty severely, it's a feeling that can be mostly mitigated by the occasional long-distance call passes and that doesn't get in the way of getting on with life. I'd be more likely to go if I could take, oh...a couple of hundred of my favourite people with me, but I suppose if you're selected for a one-way Mars mission bringing that sort of luggage isn't really an option.

You also have to wonder what kind of Mars mission would consider me as a candidate. Presumably you need people with specialised skills, a high level of fitness and a single-minded passion to see things through, and I am not remotely qualified in any of those areas. If their screening process lets me in, I'm not entirely confident that I'd feel comfortable trusting that the mission leadership are qualified for the position and I wouldn't expect our new colony to last very long.

That said, I'm generally alright at giving unfamiliar things a good solid try, I don't mind a bit of hard work and have a can-do attitude and a sense of prioritising the communal good that could be useful on a Mars mission. I also don't really own very many things and aren't that attached to the things that I do, and don't really need creature comforts that aren't caffeine-based, so there's no worry about that. I try to be generally likable and am pretty confident that I am at least a lot less annoying than I was in my youth. So they could do worse. Pick me, pick me!

What is the one thing that you most want readers to come away from your blog with? 

I'd like folks to go away glad they'd visited and a desire to learn more. Whether it's a book post or a game post or a bit of nonsense, I want people to have wanted to keep reading when I reach the conclusion, to have found a line here or there to have brought a smile to their face, and to have an overwhelming desire to open a wikipedia tab and look into something fun that I mentioned in passing. Basically, I try to convey the idea of a comfortable friendly late-night conversation with a dear friend, with laughter, a little bit of off-topic rambling, and the sort of atmosphere where you could bring up something important to you if you needed to, knowing that I'd listen and care. I'm not sure the blog goes there most of time, but that's the sort of vibe that I shoot for.

What excites you most about having a blog?

The most exciting part is when you've run with an idea and managed to turn a blank page into something that someone might actually want to read. There's a moment when you're about half-way through when it suddenly just clicks, you can envision a potential reader being carried along with what you're writing and just nodding as they scroll. That's a good feeling. It's usually followed by the recognition that actually, on second though, this is utter nonsense, but every now and then it's not, and even when it is the original feeling is intoxicating enough to keep me coming back for more.

If you could make one thing from a book, TV show or movie real, and in your possession, what would it be?

If I owned a sonic screwdriver, I wouldn't need to remember my house keys, and I'd be employable in any number of services, identifying and fixing mechanical problems. I think it'd be a pretty good excuse to get to look around interesting places and a fun toy to just play with when I have a quiet moment. Also, I could make that really annoying woowoowoo noise and drive any dogs in the area completely nuts, so that'd be a big win, I reckon.

They say everyone has at least one book in them — if you were to write a book, what would it be about?

I still want to write that comic-book about time travelling popes. I still can't draw, or write, and don't have any really solid ideas for it, but I am still 150% committed to the idea of being a person that is one day going to write a time travelling pope book.

Usually one ends this sort of post by tagging other people that should answer some questions, but I've always found that sort of thing the least attractive part of the whole process. I like talking about myself, but I also like throwing these words out into the ether to the nameless internet rather than to any particular individual. If you've read this and you feel the need to respond, that makes my day. Take that energy and turn into a blog post that leaves people with an insatiable urge to open a wikipedia tab.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

This Week in Gaming

It's time for a new feature here at the Leaflocker, a rundown of games that I've been playing lately. I've been racking my brain trying to think of a more interesting format, maybe with some kind of running theme or tracking numbers or something, but I haven't come up with one, so if you have any ideas, do drop me a comment.

Over the Board

The week's boardgaming started with a tonpu of Sanma Mahjong with Ariane and Eric. The three player variant is dearly loved by certain members of our college mahjong club, but has a tendency to get a little bit ridiculous, since the reduced number of tiles often results in very fast, very high scoring hands. I tend to use sanma as a chance to practice playing defensively, but to be honest, the proportions are so out of whack that playing any amount of it must surely have a negative effect on your four-player style. It turns out it was my week to be lucky, so I went on a bit of a tear during my dealership and our quick game ended up stretching a little longer than any of us had planned. Still, good company is always a lovely way to start the week, so I'm not complaining, and I hope that those with a longer walk home that I had afterwards aren't either.

Monday night college games night started small, with just myself, James and Callum, a big pile of hummus and snacks and a game of Hanabi. This little co-op information management game, which used to be a mainstay of our little group, has fallen a little out of favour of late, but James is keen to relive the glory days and attain a perfect score one day, so we gave it a try. It didn't end well, but in our defence, it was a pretty awful start. I think we're going to have to spend more time playing this one together if we're going to get there.

Once the crowd trickled in, we stayed with the cooperative vibe and went with Mysterium, which is a blast, especially at the full player count, but is definitely an emotionally intense experience if you're playing as the ghost, since the whole thing leans on your ability to try and convey information to the media through a limited hand of inevitably unuseful abstract dream cards. Despite my efforts to give someone else that job, I ended up as the ghost again, and while as always I had a good time doing the job, I ended up utterly exhausted at the end of it, especially when I had five of my six media still searching for their murder weapons during the last hour of the night.

We finished up with a something a little more relaxed, a game of Codenames, whose flexibility with player count and consistently different experience makes it an enduring Monday Night favourite. When I leave the common room, at least I know that people will still be playing Codenames there. At least until someone nicks our copy, anyways.

On Friday I made a pilgrimage to my friendly local board game store, Thirsty Meeples, and played a game of Terra Mystica with Paddy and Daniel. We didn't quite get the whole learning from scratch and then playing thing done in our three hour slot, but we did get pretty close, which I thought was a pretty good effort for a game whose rulebook has six appendices.

I'd steered clear of this one in the past because it looked like it just had too many moving parts, but was pleasantly surprised by how intuitively the whole thing flowed once we got the basics down. Of course, I could have just liked it because I happened to have won -a pretty rare experience against these two opponents-, but under the intimidating skin and the piles and piles of bits, this felt like a pleasantly Thomish game. It had the opportunity to play your own game but necessitated an awareness of your opponents without giving you chance to directly outright mess with them. Very Euro but with a flexibility that reduces the famine feeling one often gets when playing this sort of game. I've provisionally given it an 8/10, and hope to get a chance to play it again sometime. I'm tempted to try and give it a longer-form review, which is something I've never tried my hand at, is that the sort of thing that people around here would be interested in?

On the Screen

It's been a relatively quiet week for computer games, which is a little unusual for Blaugust, as normally other people's gaming blogs are infectious and I end up either purchasing something new or loading up an old favourite. So far this week the only things that have really grabbed me were EVE Online posts, though, and I know better than to get sucked into that wormhole.

I've only played a couple of games of Counter Strike this week. CS has functioned as my go-to winding-down game for years now, and I can't see that changing any time soon. This week I ended up in servers which some Germans who gave good information, as well as a game on a North American server, which always have excellent comms, probably because they always have a good chance of having a shared language, and both games reminded me of why I like the game and how it's supposed to be played.

Surviving Mars - This one is froom their Press Kit, I haven't gotten this far yet
I also took a few tentative forays into Paradox Interactive's Surviving Mars, which arrived in my humble bundle this month. I keep telling myself that I won't get sucked into another Paradox game, as they always feel incomplete without piles and piles of expensive DLC, but I downloaded this one before I saw the word Paradox on the cover to warn me off, and do far it seems pretty solid. We'll see if it turns into a real grind in the midgame, as I generally find their sim games do unless you play them exactly as intended, but so far I'm tentatively impressed. I'll let you know if I'm still happy with it after the first time I get all my settlers killed by doing something inane like forgetting to give them oxygen or something.

I also managed 13 games of online Mahjong, with a 4-3-4-2 record, which is a slightly better than average week for me, but I'm still lurking around the middle of 2 Dan ranking on Tenhou. More importantly, though, three of those games were played with friends from home, complete with trashtalking, and streamed by Ale, which was a weird and wonderful experience. There's still a lot of kinks to work out with the stream arrangements, but I think banter mahjong is both a good chance to catch up with friends and actually not the worst viewer experience, so I hope we can pursue that possibility a little further in future.

I hope your pursuits, gaming and otherwise, bring you joy and companionship this week.

NYTC: Friday on my mind

Through a combination of poor memory and poor planning, I left myself without a whole lot of time or inclination to blog tonight. The schedule over on my trello has this little queue of titles for the next few days, but somehow none of them were ever going to work out this time around.

 I have the 'Week in Gaming' post that I was planning to do on Tuesday, but after a big board gaming afternoon following by an intense badminton evening I'm finding myself too gamed out to think about games in any meaningful way, and I'd really like to get that series rolling on a positive note.

I have a somewhat nostalgic and emotional post about saying goodbye to Oxford in the works, but it's not finished, and besides, while trying to write it keeps making me cry, the post itself just doesn't have a lot of soul. I'll take another swing at it soon, but for now I think it might be condemned to sit in the unfinished drafts box until I can make it pack a little bit more of a punch. No point making a post about emotional goodbye's if it's not emotion-inducing, after all.

There's the World Diplomacy Championships after-action report that I meant to do last Blaugust but never quite got around to. I hope that can still be salvaged, but if it's going to be any good it's going to be the sort of post that takes all day to put together, so it's no good for tonight either. The fact that it's a big post is one of the reasons that I keep putting it off, but I really would like to get around to it, which is why it's sat in the ideas pile for so long.

Then there's the black and pick tags that are helpfully marked 'Blaugust' and '?'. When I was putting together my schedule, the Blaugust posts were supposed to be riffing off of someone else's post from the last week and the ? ones were inserted into the schedule to give me a little bit of creative freedom to just do something a little bit out of left-field. Sadly, these are the sorts of posts that need a serious dose of inspiration just to get started on, and after a bit of mindless scrolling through the social media and the blogroll I realised that I just don't feel like I've got anything to add tonight.

I guess the moral of the story is that having a schedule is all well and good, it can be a great prompt to get you rolling with the whole blogging thing and a little structure can go a long way, but sometimes the best laid plans just don't survive contact with the enemy that is your own lack of focus and motivation.

I was going to just leave the Leaflocker fallow and turn in early, but I have a bit of a bad habit of biting off more than I can't chew to start off with and then giving up on Blaugusts just after the first week is done that I'm determined to break. Which is why I pointed a webcam at my face and sat down to relax by doing the crossword. Grab a cup of tea and join me if that seems like your sort of thing.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Such, O Lacedaemonians, is tyranny!

It's been a tough week in the reading department here at Leaflocker HQ. It doesn't make a lot of sense given that I've had the most relaxed week that I've had in years that I've somehow had no time to read, but sometimes that's just how it goes. There was cricket to watch, and games to play, and far too many blog posts to write, and there wasn't my regular travel to and from work to get reading done in either, which all combined in a mad rush today to finish off the assigned weekly reading in time to get this post up before the clock strikes twelve and I turn back into a pumpkin.

The Week That Was:

The History of Herodotus

Book V

We turn at last to the Greeks, and Herodotus seems to enjoy being on firmer ground instead of trying to sort fact from fiction from the stories some bloke told him in a bar, but for the casual reader this one was quite the slog. There are just so many names to try an keep straight, I can't even manage all the different nations, let alone the leaders thereof. It strikes me as peculiar, once the Athenians worked out that they could just bribe the oracle, why anyone would ever listen to her again, but I guess the Greeks were Sparta men than I. #punachieved I also like the repeated reminders from Herodotus, the historian, that the Ionians really should have listened to Hecataeus, the historian. Very subtle. I also hope we get more Gorgo in the near future, as the mention of her here felt like a serious namedrop, and she must do something to have ended up as a leader in Civilization VI.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Chapters XV

Phew. After last week I was worried that I would never be able to enjoy Crusoe again, but all in all this was a fine chapter. I enjoyed how quickly Crusoe came to value and trust Friday's judgement, how interested he is in Friday's culture, and how clearly he is enjoying his company. 

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 

Volume II - Books VI-VIII

For two-thirds of this reading I was extremely worried by the idea that I might be reading 51 pages of Hugo this week and not get even a whiff of plot. Book VI was a detailed depiction of a monastery, which given last week's detailed history of a house wasn't a great start, and Book VII was an interesting and eminently quotable but out of place essay about how monasteries should all be torn down since they have no place in a modern society. Thankfully though, Book VIII not only mentioned the characters in passing, but had some actual significant plot, with our heroes finding a place a refuge for a while after a classic live burial cliffhanger. It ends with a promising time-skip, so I think we might be finally heading to the romantic bit!

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens 

Chapters VIII-XI

I really need to stop leaving Dickens to last. Pickwick has been fun when I've left myself the time to enjoy it at leisure, as it's supposed to be read with a nice stiff drink in the warm sunshine, and has been a bit of a labour when I've left it to a last-minute rush just to get the blog post up in time. We're going to read a lot of Dickens in the next few years, so we should really get in the habit of treating him well if we expect him to return the favour.

Thankfully, these were some rollicking chapters, with a cart chase and an unlucky bride jilted at the altar, so we didn't have the usual problem. I leave you with this little excerpt which made me smile:
The lady turned aside her head. ‘Men are such deceivers,’ she softly whispered.
‘They are, they are,’ ejaculated Mr. Tupman; ‘but not all men. 
I can't help but feel like Tracey Tupman would adore Twitter. 

Some Numbers: 

This week we reached a milestone 1200 pages read of titles that many people consider canon but which weren't included in the Great Books of the Western World series, with Dickens and Hugo carrying a little over half of that burden. Herodotus (215 pages) also overtook Huxley (194) as the author that I've read sixth-most of during the project, and I'd expect him to pass Nabokov (222), Euclid (237) and Homer (257) in the next couple of weeks to put himself into third place behind the two luminaries mentioned above. 

Pages last week: 112
Pages so far: 2689

Week XXIV: 

Only having four books to read was also I factor in my slow consumption rate this week, I think, as reading them in these big doses inevitably seems to take longer than just dropping by for a short visit; I guess I'm just the kind of reader who likes to know that the end of the chapter is just around the corner. Thankfully, we have smaller doses of Dickens and Defoe this week to make room for return visits from our friends Bacon and Plato, so if you've been waiting to jump into to something philosophical with me now could be the time: the Bacon reading is just about one page and the Plato isn't completely outrageous in length either, and so far we've found both authors to be pretty accessible, for philosophers.

Last time I read Plato, I greatly enjoyed reading him in the outdoors on my kindle, but recently my faithful ereader suffered a bit of a mishap in my backpack and is no longer in a fit state for the reading of Philosophy, or anything else, for that matter. It's served me well over many years, and I definitely need to find some time in the next little while to find a suitable replacement. A physical book is a wonderful thing and I can never get enough of them, but it's hard to beat the convenience of always having an e-reader in your bag.

The History of Herodotus

Book VI (33 pages)

#gbbw #manandsociety #history #greek

The Symposium by Plato

(27 pages)

#gbbw #philosophyandtheology #dialogue #greek #oneshot

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Chapters XVI (11 pages)

#ggb #imaginativeliterature #novel #english

Of Discourse by Sir Francis Bacon

(1 page)

#ggb #philosophyandtheology #essay #english #oneshot #short

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 

Volume III - Book I (29 pages)

#non_gbww #imaginativeliterature #novel #french

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens 

Chapters XII-XIII (13 pages)

#non_gbww #imaginativeliterature #novel #english 

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Through History with the Monday Quiz in Exile: The 1500's!

We have reached day 7 of Blaugust, which means that it's time to return to the last of our long-standing projects, the history quiz, which began right back in the year 1000 on the site of my spiritual Blogmother, Michael5000, and has been in exile since the 1440's, but looking forward to a triumphant return to it's original home now that the Infinite Art Tournament has reached it's final conclusion. In the meantime, though, the Leaflocker is Proud to present Through History With the Monday Quiz (in Exile): The 1500's!

Looking back, I'd thought last decade had been a particularly difficult one, but as ever, John was on the money, with a staggering 8 points. Honestly, writing a quiz hard enough to challenge that fellow and still be approachable to the rest of us mere mortals is now easy matter.

The Quiz:

Still from 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' - Educational use
1) The New Fire Ceremony, which ushered in a new cycle of the calendar every 52 years (and perhaps acted as the inspiration for the grisly scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom pictured above) was last held in 1507 by members of which civilisation?

2) Probably the most famous and most valuable painting in the world, which oil-on-board portrait, now the property of the French government, was likely painted between 1503 and 1506?

3) Probably the most famous and most valuable sculpture in the world, which six ton piece of marble, now the property of either the Italian government or the city of Florence, was erected in 1504?

Public Domain artwork by By Camille Flammarion - Astronomie Populaire 1879
4) In the inspiration for Allan Quartermain and Tintin, amongst others, Christopher Columbus is pictured above using his advance knowledge to predict a lunar eclipse in order to intimidate the locals in which modern island nation?

5) There were Austronesian, Bantu, Arab, Persian, Malay and Javanese settlers already there, but it wasn't until August 1500 that Dias, captain of a Portugese vessel that had been blown off course, was the first European to 'discover' which landmass?

Photo By Paul Ronga - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
6) Pictured above in their extremely functional and not at all silly uniforms, which still-extant military force was founded in 1506?

7) The early 16th century saw Nanak Dev Gi embark on a series of missionary journeys. In 1497, he had founded which religion with the words "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim"?

8) Estimated to have a value between 50 and 80 million US dollars, the worlds first example of which type of device was developed by Nuremberg locksmith Peter Henlein in 1505?

Public Domain: Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights
9) Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, which he probably painted in this decade, is an example of what type of artwork, commonly used as alterpieces?

10) 1502 is usually cited as the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade, which would continue until the last ship set sail in which decade?

The rules remain the same as ever. Please refrain from searching for the answers anywhere except the inside of your head, and post your best attempts in the comments. Points are given for correct answers, but kudos is given for showing your thought processes, and is much more important in the long run.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

NYTC: Carlton Football Club Tribute Edition

I've already made a Blaugust post today, but it can't hurt to have a spare in the bank, and I realised that I hadn't left enough room in the schedule for the surprise hit from last year's Blaugust: filming myself flailing about trying to do the New York Times Crossword for your entertainment. So I'm bringing it back due to popular demand, so pour yourself a cuppa and sit down and enjoy half an hour of me in all my pixellated glory.

In praise of the Action Replay

One of my very favourite features in videogaming is the after-action movie, a quick-fire replay of your successes and your mistakes laid bare for you (and these days often the world by virtue of a share button or two) on completion of a level.

When first sitting down to write this, I was confident that I first came across the idea playing N: Way of the ninja, a web-based flash platformer that I played an absolute shedload of back around highschool days. In my memory, on completion of a level N would gleefully show you a replay of each and every one of your attempts and each of your ninja' gory deaths (and there were a lot!); but a bit of a trawl of people's videos online don't seem to show this feature. The newest incarnation of the game N++ does record your successful plays for you so that you can go back and analyse your efforts, but the satisfaction of the feature for me was always watching dozens of little pixelated ninjas plunge to their deaths and one heroically pull through, so just watching the runs that worked out loses some of the appeal.

It's possible I was just conflating N in my memory with Super Meat Boy, which I also played an absolute shedload of, just somewhat later, and which definitely had the same feature, complete with lots of squishy meaty blood, which congeals around all over the level as you played it and stuck around between attempts, but arrived in an absolute torrent during the replay which would fire immediately after a successful attempt, providing a much-needed breather in what was otherwise a lightning fast, precision-controlled experience. It's also possible that one of the many versions of had the feature before Meat Boy came along and I'm not crazy after all, but I'm putting my money on the first option.

It's not just platformers that benefit from this killer feature, though. Another game that I first encountered as a browser game before it made the jump over to Steam, the king of casual games Mini Metro, will also automatically record a .gif of your ever exanding and adapting public transport network for you. I thought I had a bunch of old .gifs sitting around from past plays, but I couldn't find them (probably because the game seems to dump your newly created gifs straight onto the desktop and that's a recipe for deletion each time I start feeling cramped by the mess on my start-up screen. What a pity, then, I guess I'll just have to play a round of this old favourite peaceful-until-it's-not-anymore resource management game just for the gif.

This one was an abortive attempt to transport passengers around Montreal using just four lines that combusted when I took too many trains off the green line to service the struggling yellow line. But enough about the game, this post is about the after-action video. Isn't it neat? Isn't it fab? I could watch those things over and over again. So mesmerising.

But the king of these videos for me lately has to be the after-action replay in Wilmot's Warehouse, a simple but satisfying little warehouse management game in which you have to keep a handle of an every increasing number of different products represented by little brightly coloured squares, and then deliver them to clients when they ask for them. This addictive little beastie arrived in the Humble Trove earlier in the year and consumed my every waking moment for a couple of days after I stumbled over it. Best of all, the replay is built-in, as it acts as an unlockable 'CCTV' reward in the game, so you can walk your little Wilmot character up to the CCTV display monitor at any point during your shift and watch how the warehouse has played out so far. Sadly, there's no automatic extract button on this one, so I had to point OBS inexpertly at my screen to capture this one set just before this warehouse reached capacity, but ooh... it's so nice!

Thanks for indulging me celebrating this small but oh-so-precious feature, that I wish was more widespread but that I fear has fallen by the wayside in the world of streaming and live content. Do you share my attraction to the action replay? Do you have games that have replay features that you love? Do you have any favourite .gifs to share? Or would you rather just hurry up and play without stopping to look back?

H-Index: 20

There is a concept in the world of academia called an H-index, which is used to measure the productivity and impact of publishing authors. Your H-index is simply the number H of papers that you have published that have been cited at least H times. Mrs. Owl proudly sports an H-index of 5.

It is common in the world of board games to use an H-index as a way of measuring one's productivity as a gamer, where H is the number of games that one has played H times. I am fond of reminding Mrs. Owl that I have a much higher H-index than she does, whereupon the conversation usually devolves in tone, for some reason.

Last time I gave an H-index update here on the Leaflocker, it was in the early days of my abortive attempt at Blaugust 2017, and I was keen for it to become a regular feature article here. Since then, I've upped by H-index seven times and completely failed to update you all about it, so here's a bit of a catch-up.

H=14. 17/07/2017 - Riichi Mahjong (14)Micropul (17), Codenames (73), Hanabi (72), Red7 (33), 7 Wonders (25), Paperback (19), Between Two Cities (19), Istanbul (17), Resistance (17), San Juan (16), Hey! That's My Fish! (15), Ticket to Ride: Märklin (15), Tsuro (14), Codenames: Pictures (13)

 I talked about Micropul a little last H-index post, but it's a neat little print and play game and I happen to have a particularly neat copy thanks to the laser cutting efforts of my friend and fellow Blaugustine Alecat. It looks great on the table and often attracts interested parties if I get it out and just play around with a tiles a little bit, so it's really just the fact that it's only a two-player game that holds it back from being a regular part of my gaming diet. My buddy Andy and I play the occasional game together over a lunch now and then -perfect for a snack of a day that evokes though but doesn't make you work too hard- and he accounts for more than half of my plays of this one.

Believe it or not, there was a time when I struggled to get a game of Mahjong happening in Oxford. I'd brought my set from home, but just when I taught a couple of people, they upped and left me and I despaired of ever finding a decent hanchan in the UK. Now, four national tournaments, many bottles of fine sweet wine and a seemingly infinite number of riichi pinfu hands into the future, sometimes it feels like I have to try hard to end up NOT playing mahjong in the common room at the end of the day.

Codenames: Pictures dropped off this list after it went missing from the common room. I'd have something to say about people that take nice things from communal spaces, but it's late and I've been told never to go to bed angry, so we'll leave that topic alone for now. Except to say that I miss playing Codenames: Pictures, I don't think it's as good a game as its older brother, but it makes for a nice twist on a old favourite.

H=15. 16/10/2017 - Diamant (15), Hanabi (83), Codenames (81), Riichi Mahjong (37), Red7 (33), 7 Wonders (26), Istanbul (23), Paperback (21), Between Two Cities (20), The Resistance (19), Tsuro (18), Hey! That's my Fish (17), Micropul (17), Ticket to Ride: Märklin (17), San Juan (16)

The first time that I ever played Incan Gold I knew that I had to get myself a copy, but it wasn't until the reprint came out a couple of years later that I finally added this push-your-luck game to my collection and it became a staple of college game night. Games that work at high player counts are much sought over around the coffee table on Monday nights and this one does a lot of heavy lifting for us as an icebreaker. Many a shout of 'Snakes!' followed by hysterical laughter has been heard around Brasenose after quiet hours in the last few years, and I'm sure it's been a contributing factor to many a noise complaint.
Honestly considering buying the college a copy of this so that they can have it when I leave, as along with Carcassonne and 7 Wonders my copies have taken a beating over the years at student hands and I'm sure they're going to miss them.

H=16. 12/11/2017 -  Chess (16), Hanabi (88), Codenames (84), Riichi Mahjong (50), Red7 (33), 7 Wonders (27), Istanbul (25), Paperback (21), Between Two Cities (20), The Resistance (19), Tsuro (19), Hey! That's my Fish (17), Micropul (17), Ticket to Ride: Märklin (17), San Juan (16), Diamant (16)

I don't think that it will surprise any of you to know that I've been playing chess pretty much as long as I remember. Like mahjong, I fell in love with the beautiful pieces before I understood how to play the game, but unlike mahjong it has a sheer universality that is just impossible to beat. I've played chess with peers in primary school, in the chess club at high school, with small groups of enthusiastic children just learning the game, with refugees that I didn't share a language with, and most recently with a small group of chess tragics in the stately surrounds of an Oxford common room. A significant number of my over-the-board games as recorded here come from my series of tightly-fought head-to-head battles with Matt S, but I've recently gotten back into playing a bit online again on, so feel free to challenge me there if you're up for a game. Don't worry, I'm still really not very good.

H=17. 19/12/2017 - Carcassonne (17), Hanabi (93), Codenames (88), Riichi Mahjong (56), Red7 (33), 7 Wonders (29), Istanbul (26), Tsuro (23), Paperback (22), Between Two Cities (20), The Resistance (19), Chess (18), Hey! That's my Fish (18), San Juan (18), Micropul (17), Ticket to Ride: Märklin (17),  Diamant (17)

This tile playing jigsaw strategy game has been staple of my my gaming diet since I first discovered the modern hobby around the time that I started hanging around with Mrs. Owl: her family copy was already worn by then and my own copy is showing the telltale signs of being handled with varying degrees of care over the years.

It seems a bit strange that Carcassonne took so long to make it onto this list, -I must have played an awful lot of it prior to starting to record game plays back at the start of 2016-, but somehow while it's undoubtedly an old favourite and a timeless classic it's not the type of game that you play multiple times in a row or pull out week after week, it's more the sort of old friend you drop in on now and then, always pleasantly surprised that you like each other just as much now as you always have.

H=18. 28/05/2018 - Ticket to Ride: Europe (19), The Grizzled (18), Riichi Mahjong (109), Hanabi (104), Codenames (97), Red7 (33), 7 Wonders (31), Istanbul (27), Tsuro (25), Chess (25), Paperback (23), Diamant (23), Between Two Cities (22), Carcassonne (21), The Resistance (19), Hey! That's my Fish (19), San Juan (19), Micropul (19), Ticket to Ride: Märklin (17)

The second Ticket to Ride game to crack this list -even if it's temporarily pushed it's brother out-, Europe and I have a fraught relationship. Mechanically I should hate it, with must-have routes, ferries that slow down the games and those bloody awful tunnels that can cause you to lose whole turns, but somehow when I sit down to play TTR: Europe I always have a tight, enjoyable game.

Also, look at those numbers! By May last year, Riichi had already overtaken Hanabi and Codenames to be my most-played game since 2016. A year prior I'd played it just six games of it. That's averaging two games every single week over the year, and that's nuts for a game that usually takes upwards of an hour and often a lot longer, especially at the pace we tend to play.

H=19. 6/06/2018 -  Ticket to Ride: Märklin (19), Riichi Mahjong (109), Hanabi (104), Codenames (99), Red7 (33), 7 Wonders (31), Istanbul (27), Tsuro (25), Chess (25), Paperback (24), Diamant (24), Between Two Cities (22), Carcassonne (22), The Resistance (20), The Grizzled (20), Ticket to Ride: Europe (20), Hey! That's my Fish (19), San Juan (19), Micropul (19)

H=19 came hot on the heels of H=18, with just only a week separating them, though they were a busy few weeks of gaming over the 2018 summer holidays. TTR: Märklin pushed it's way back into the list again for what I think is the fourth time. Not much to say about it that I haven't said in previous posts, except to reaffirm my faithful devotion to it as the finest of the train games, perhaps the very finest game of all, and to mention that the remake Ticket to Ride: Germany is but a pale imitation.

H=20. 28/05/2019 -  500 (20), Riichi Mahjong (173), Hanabi (118), Codenames (116), Red7 (39), 7 Wonders (39), Chess (39), Istanbul (32), Tsuro (32), Diamant (32), Paperback (29), Between Two Cities (29), Ticket to Ride: Märklin (26), Carcassonne (24), The Grizzled (23), The Resistance (22), San Juan (22),  Ticket to Ride: Europe (20), Hey! That's my Fish (20), Micropul (20)

It was a long time between drinks, with just a week less than an entire year since the last entry on this list, but when my family came to visit this summer we played a lot of this old favourite trick-taking card game, a reliable fall-back when my parents refused to play any of my new-fangled complicated European fancy-box games with me any more.

Despite a long history together, this game is forever inextricably linked in my mind with endless nights and endless pots of tea with dear friends over at Nerdhaus, and I'll never be able to bid no trumps with a straight face ever again.


Hopefully the leap from H=20 to H=21 is not as large as the one from H=19 to H=20 was, so you won't need to wait a couple of years for the next H-index update, but it would have to be a very productive month on the gaming front indeed for it to happen this Blaugust. In fact, I expect Mrs. Owl's number to go up before mine does. In the mean time, here's a graph to look at.