Category: Things to Know

Holiday Fun Facts

The winter holidays are here and it’s a great time to learn more about the traditions your familiar with and get to know the ones you aren’t. Here are some facts and stories you may not have known about just a few of the ways people celebrate during December.

Hanukkah: It’s Not All About the Oil

Menorah, a candle holder with nine Branches.

A Hanukkah, a type of menorah with nine branches. Source: Wikipedia

If you have only a passing familiarity with Hanukkah and its associated traditions, you may know it as a celebration of the lamp oil that lasted for eight nights when it only should have been enough for one. But this is only one part of the story, and one that doesn’t show up in the narrative until later versions. The main purpose of Hanukkah is to celebrate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, a major victory in the Maccabean Revolt. The temple had been repurposed as an altar to Zeus and needed to be cleansed and reclaimed, which included lighting the menorah. The rededication of the temple does include the story of how a single flask of the kosher oil needed to light the menorah miraculously lasted long enough for a new batch to be prepared, but not in the earliest accounts of the event. Continue reading

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Great Games for Gifting

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Happy Holidays!

     Happy Holidays! Are you stuck trying to figure out a good gift for a family member who has everything? Have you ever considered the gift of gaming? Games make amazing gifts and we are here to help you pick just the right one.  We have taken six styles of games and chosen two of each we think make great gifts.

Cooperative Games

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Cahoots

     This game is one that was introduced to those of us who were at the November game day. There are five piles of cards with numbers and colors. The players must work as a team to clear all the condition cards to win. The number of players determines the amount of conditions. These conditions could include “All piles are green” or “ The green cards add up to half the total of the orange cards”. However, the player’s can not tell each other the cards that they have or discuss a specific plan. All they can do is allude to the fact that they can complete a task. (i.e. “If you can leave the third pile alone I can complete the third condition card.”) This adds a level of complexity that makes the game a challenge. The win condition is to complete the stack of condition cards. It was complex and engaging and left us wanting to play again and we had played twice. This absolutely has replay-ability and is fun for ages 10 and up.

Pandemic

     There are now several Pandemic games out there from Cthulhu (where you are shutting down demonic portals) to Rising Tide (where you are trying to prevent flooding). The Legacy version is challenging, but a limited use game. However for games to give the casual or beginner board gamer the original is probably the best way to start. In the game, the players work as members of the CDC and they are working to stop world-wide epidemics by using their special talents. The game is won by curing all of the diseases before the entire world gets over run with plague. Unlike Cahoots, you can lay out and work on a plan in detail, but there is plenty of challenge in this game. This game is for players 8 and up.

Competitive Games

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Munchkin

     Munchkin is a really funny, tongue-in-cheek kind of game that can get really cutthroat. There are several different versions of it, but I’m just going to talk strictly about Vanilla Munchkin (the original game). In this game, you’re an adventuring party exploring a dungeon without all the hassles of role-playing and making friends. It’s every man (or woman) for himself! You have to kick down doors, defeat monsters, collect treasures, and be the first to get to level 10. You can help others, or help the monsters. As I said, there are several different versions, but that’s the basic gist of all of the games. Ages vary based on the version, but they’re typically around 10 and up. Some versions can get a little racy, so use your better judgement.

Splendor

    Splendor has been a favorite for a few years now. It is a great game help beat the blahs during the mid-winter months. You play merchants trying to court favor over nobles. To do this you must purchase a certain amount of gems in a certain amount of colors. Some of these gems have point values and the nobles are worth 3 each if you can sway them. The first to 15 points wins. The wonderful thing about this game is how easy it is to learn. It is also beautifully designed and the gems are actually chips that you can stack. The tactileness of it is what drew us to it in the first place. It plays in about 30 minutes; so it is a good palate cleanser in between larger games or it is a good game while you are waiting for your kids to fall asleep. This is for ages 8 and up, but Lady Diceacorn’s son was 6 when he started playing.  

Card Games

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If you are stuffing stockings, these make a great addition!

Sushi Go

     Sushi Go is an adorable game that is small enough to toss in a purse or bag to take on the go! You are trying to put together the most appetizing (and high scoring) meal you can over the course of three rounds. The tricky part is you hand the cards to your left or your right every round, so the cards and your strategy has to change quickly. This game has definite replayability factor. Its portability is definitely a bonus. If a challenge is what you seek, try Sushi Go Party. That has interchangeable menus from the “My First Sushi Go” for beginners to a really tough version for experts. This game is 8 and up, but you know any kids you are shopping for better than the box.  

Gloom

     Gloom is one of Meepline’s all time favorite games ever.  It’s a fun storytelling game in which you choose a family, make them as miserable as possible, then kill them off.  The more miserable they are, the more likely you are to win. Like in golf, negative points are the key. The really great thing about this game are the cards themselves.  They’re all transparent plastic, so you can stack them on top of each other and the point amount showing is the one you get. There are several versions of the game, and Meepline owns and enjoys them all!  This game is for 13 and up, due to the macabre nature of the game.

Party Games

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Codenames

     In Codenames, you split into 2 groups.  Each groups has a clue giver, or spymaster, and one or several teammates.  The two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their Codenames.  The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.  This is a game for 4+ players, but there is a version for 2 players called Codenames Duet. This game is ages 10 and up.

Funemployed

     Improvisers would love this game where each person has turns as an HR director (who has a card that tells them the job the players are going for) and the other players have three cards with items or phrases that they have to work into their interview. Then the HR director chooses who to hire. Then the HR director changes. The game goes for one or two rounds (dependent on the amount of people playing) and the player with the most cards wins. This game has some cards that are not for the really young. It is great for an adult crowd though and it is a hit at parties. This game is for ages 16 and up.  

Family Games

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Outfoxed!

     There is a fox and he or she has stolen the pie. But can you and your chicken detectives solve the case before the fox escapes? This excellent family game is a beginners cooperative game where on a player’s turn they choose whether they will look for clues or reveal suspects. Once they have decided, they roll the dice to determine that they can accomplish their turn goal. If the dice all reveal the symbol of their goal, they are allowed to move toward a clue and look at it if they make it or reveal two suspects. The suspects are eliminated if they are wearing or holding something that the actual criminal is. If they do not roll matching symbols then the fox moves closer to the escape manhole and if they reach it the detective team loses. It is a great way to work on a child’s deductive reasoning skills. This game is for kids 5 and up. (But truth be told, this can be played as young as 3 years old with parents help.)

King of Tokyo

     In this epic battle game players are kaiju who are battling for control of the city. You are trying to get to 20 victory points while attempting to hit the other kaiju and take them out. Three rolls of the dice tell the player what they can do on their turn. This game is fun and great for families who are a little competitive. This is for ages 8 and up.

Roleplaying Games

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No Thank You, Evil!

     Ever dream about the land under your bed, in your closet or out of your window while you sleep? Shanna Germain has, and created a great beginner game for Monte Cook Games. No Thank You Evil! Is a role-playing game for kids 4 and up that not only keeps their imaginations (each session runs about an hour and a half) and begins training them to be storytellers (this game’s version of the GM). Families who already have the base game should check out the supplements. There are story cards and even a book on how to be a storyteller aimed towards kids. This games special talent is it grows as the child does. There are basic rules for beginners, somewhat complicated rules for older kids and a fleshed out set of rules for adults. You can run a game for different skill sets and it still plays really smooth. They have stand up characters for all the pregens and a great character sheet and specialized dice in a box. If you want to see the future of the hobby; kids post pictures of their games on the Monte Cook Studios website.  This game is for ages 5 and up.

D&D 5 E

     Dungeons and Dragons is one of the oldest, and well-known, role-playing games.  Created in the 70s by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, it’s set in a world of high fantasy (wizards, elves, dwarves, you get the gist).  In 2014, Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition was released. It’s a similar, but different, set of rules. Some who have played the game for years say it’s simpler and cleaner, some say it’s dumber, but most agree it’s much better than the 4th edition.  You still get to create a fantastic character (in every definition of the word fantastic), sit around a table with friends (or strangers), and roll some dice. The past couple of years, Wizards of the Coast have been rolling out a bunch of well-made adventures, in case you’re too intimidated to create your own story.  Feeling a little more ambitious? The Dungeon Master’s Guide can give you some great information about world building, and there are a ton of resources available online, from DnD Beyond (the unofficially official D&D website), to the Wizards of the Coast website (where the creators sometimes roll out test materials under the heading Unearthed Arcana), to WotC workers being easily accessible on social media (Chris Perkins, one of the major editors of D&D, is extremely active on Twitter and Reddit).  This game is recommended for 12+, but if your kid is reading and doing math, you can easily start them with a simpler storyline (definitely NOT Curse of Strahd).

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Dice! 

     For role players, there is also always the gift of dice. There are some great sets out there and if you have a friend or family member who plays D&D or Pathfinder, you can buy them special dice. There are sets that are sold that match Paizo’s various Pathfinder campaigns. (The Curse of the Crimson Throne ones are gorgeous.) You can head to Comicazi or your friendly local gaming stores and see them before you purchase. (Comicazi also has great pop culture dice bags.)

     We hope we gave you ideas, and if you have any specific questions, please leave them in the comments and we are happy to answer them. Just call us your elven bards.

     We hope your holiday season is filled with all the warmth and light possible and your new year is filled with much happy gaming and lots of laughter at the table. We hope you game at our table at one of our various ELS Game Days and we will be announcing the dates shortly. We have so much in store for you next year!  

Until then, may all your hits be crits!

 

On The Move: Building Your Game Room

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Meepline shows off our booth at LadiesCon!

        Before we begin this month’s post, we want to thank all the people who worked hard to make LadiesCon a success. It was such a wonderful time and we were happy to see so many people visiting. For those who came to see us at our table or at our panel, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and learn about our game day. We hope you attend our October 28th game day from 12-6 at Comicazi. Everyone is encouraged to dress in costume, but not too scary please! (This is just in case children come to the game day. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.)

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The Before….

       The conclusion to our “On the Move” post from July is all about building your new game space. We have a brand new game room that is technically still in the works. It needs a few more shelves (more on that later) and frames for artwork. Lady Diceacorn is picking up with setting up your game room.

Step 1: Layout

     When you start with your game space the best way to begin is laying out the shelves and storage for your gaming supplies. This includes building new shelving or rebuilding any shelves that had to be disassembled in the move. This can take more time than you are thinking. Once you have the shelves assembled it is time for step 2.

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The Right Supervisor is Important!

Step 2: Figure Out Your Game Organization Plan

    If you are like us, you want a game room that has things easily accessible and organized. Sit down with everyone who will be using the game room and figure out what is important to have readily available and where other books should go. This can take about a half an hour to do, but saves time in the end and allows the game room to come together without much difficulty. If your children game, get them involved. Allowing them to figure out where their games go will help make the room theirs too.

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Lady Diceacorn’s son was very excited about his shelf in the RPG library!

Step 3: Unpacking Your Games

      Unpacking your game materials will take a lot of time. However, if you have made a plan, it can be easy to do.  As you unpack, use the game organization plan to create piles of games or game books that will be shelved together. This will create several piles and take up lots of floor space, but it is a really important time saver. Once all the boxes have been opened and sorted, all that is left is to place the games on their shelves.

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Broken Token’s Gloom Tomb

     As you unpack, take a look at all of your games and make sure they survived the move. This is also a great time to make reorganize any games that became unorganized in the move. If you have a little disposable income, maybe consider purchasing some great organizers from Broken Token. (Meepline swears by this company. They have a Gloom Tomb!)  

     We unpacked the board games first and once they were on the shelves we unpacked our RPG library. This cut back on the space needed for the piles and actually allowed the creation of more space because we were getting rid of boxes.

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Meepline has plenty of room for new games!

     We need more shelves in the Lady Diceacorn game room, but for now the remainder of the unshelved games and materials are confined to a fold out table and a corner of the game room. You think you may have enough shelves, but you don’t. When we get more shelving we will make sure to have extra room for new games and new game books.

      By the end of two days, our game room was functional and ready to welcome gamers. Sure, there is still work to do, but it has been wonderful gaming in our game room.

Featured Game: Mysterium

     The best way to explain Mysterium is that it is a cross between Clue and Dixit. You’re all mediums at a seance, trying to figure out who killed the ghost, where, and how (Clue). The ghost can only communicate through visions represented by beautifully artistic cards (Dixit). You only have a few hours to figure it out. Can you all do it in time? Or will the ghost be doomed to walk the earth forever tormented by their murderer’s escape?

Until next time, may all your hits be crits!

The Real Christopher Robin

This Friday (Aug 3, 2018) marks the release of Walt Disney Picture’s Christopher Robin – a fictional tale about the adult Christopher Robin rediscovering his imagination.

While the film looks pretty adorable (assuming you’re a fan of Pooh and the gang), it’s actually kinda strange when you take into account that Milne, the creator and author of the original Winnie-the-Pooh books, based the character of Christopher Robin on his own son. That’s right, Christopher Robin was indeed a real person.

In the interest of learning a bit more about the real story behind the more fantastical one, here are some interesting facts about the real Christopher Robin. Continue reading

On the Move: Tips for Taking Your Games on the Go

 

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Our New House!

Happy July! Summer is in full swing!  I want to thank Meepline for writing the last post solo last month. We have been in the process of packing, moving and unpacking at our new house!

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How Many Boxes? 47. The Answer was 47.

Back in May, I posted an Instagram photo of my packing and asked the question “how many boxes of games do we have?” The answer was/is 47. We have quite the collection, which includes role-playing books, board games, minis and GM supplies. That is where I got the idea for this post. How do you move things like game books and board games and hope they stay together? I hope to provide you some tips and tricks for packing your collection safely. Next month, Meepline and I will be back writing in tandem bringing you tips for convention going in honor of LadiesCon. Post LadiesCon, we will be writing about organizing your collection and setting up an effective (and fun) game space and I will (hopefully) have our new game room setup to show you pictures.

But for now, here are some tips about packing up your games. You can use some of these tips when you go on vacation as games are great entertainment for cabins or beach houses. Continue reading

Who Tells Your Story: What “Hamilton” Got Right, Got Wrong, and Completely Left Out

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I know I’m late in getting on the Hamilton bandwagon. While I’m not the musical theater aficionado that Smalerie is, I do like musicals. I just rarely go to see them. I had heard good things about Hamilton and its massive popularity, but I somehow never got around to actually listening to the soundtrack. Now I have. Several times in fact, which should tell you how I felt about it.

As I did with the film Saving Mr. Banks, I became curious about how much of the musical was factual and how much was fiction. I don’t expect either musicals or movies to be documentary accurate when covering real-life events, so this isn’t a criticism of the play. I just like to know what was changed to make a better narrative and what really happened. A Wikipedia binge ensued and I discovered a treasure trove of true facts, altered facts, disputed facts, and completely omitted facts, from which I will now share highlights with you. Continue reading

Comics Characters You Should Get To Know: Thanos

This post will feature spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War largely in the form of a character study, but also in the form of point of the Infinity Saga story in the comics.

Maybe you have seen Avengers: Infinity War by now, or maybe you haven’t. But surely you have at least heard of Thanos, the Mad Titan by now. When The Goog and I first started dating now 16 years ago, he asked me if I was familiar with the Infinity Saga the way one of those kids with the suits and backpacks (you know the ones) might ask if you have heard about the Good Word. We have been an Infinity Saga household ever since. A big part of what makes this massive event/cross-over story so compelling is not just the coming together of so many of the Marvel Universe’s heroes (and anti-heroes), but that Thanos, as the catalyst, is such a compelling and complicated villain. Continue reading

40 things I learned by 40

If you have been reading along you know that we have been focusing on love this month….not necessarily romantic love, but rather those things you might be a little embarrassed to love, and well, love filtered through the eyes of some dinosaurs. This month I am going to tackle what is probably the most difficult type of love. Loving yourself.

Two of the ladies hit big birthdays this year, and hitting a big birthday can trigger a desire for introspection. You’ve made it this far, so what did you learn? What would you tell 20-year-old you? This, plus, have any of you seen this Vogue list? Frankly, I barely got through the thing. It’s astounding in its lack of relevance and practicality. But it did inspire me to , as our Honorary Lady Gary says, turn inward, and take a look back at what I did right, what I did wrong, and what stuff makes me realize that yeah, maybe I’m doing all right.

Your mileage to this list will vary, you might think it’s terrible, or just as irrelevant, but I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own so you can take stock of what you learned, how you have grown, and what a long way you’ve come baby.

Tiny Doom’s 40 things I learned by 40

  1. Don’t listen to your High School Guidance Counselor
  2. It’s ok not to want kids
  3. You are just as valid if you are a mother of pets, plants, other humans, dragons, or nothing
  4. Be reliable
  5. Be capable
  6. Be open to compromise
  7. It’s never a good idea to idolize someone, everyone is human
  8. Know what colors look good on you and wear those
  9. If you want a tattoo, get a tattoo
  10. Do your research
  11. It’s ok to be a little weird at work so long as you can back it up with #’s 4 and 5
  12. Friendships drift and that’s ok
  13. Pay your bills on time
  14. You can adapt to almost anything so don’t be so afraid of change
  15. Put stuff in your Amazon shopping cart and then give it 24 hours before you hit buy
  16. Look forward, not back
  17. Avoid self-help books
  18. When it comes to skin care most expensive stuff isn’t always the best stuff
  19. It’s ok to drink most of your liquid in tea form
  20. Eat your vegetables
  21. Scarves really do keep you warm
  22. Take care of your feet! I cannot stress this enough
  23. You don’t have to smile when someone tells you to
  24. Always act like you are supposed to be there-it’s ok to fake it
  25. Watch all the crap movies and TV you want
  26. Say no
  27. Red lipstick
  28. It’s not bullshit that doing nice things for other people can make you feel better
  29. Bring your lunch to work as much as you can
  30. Make a family that’s not related to you by blood
  31. Mittens are better than gloves
  32. Just do the thing, you’ll feel better when it’s done
  33. Walk there when you can
  34. There is a certain joy in day drinking (as long as you don’t make it a habit)
  35. Don’t be afraid of new technology
  36. Always keep your own bank account no matter how in love you are
  37. Try to travel if you can
  38. Learn to make things-food, socks, plans
  39. If people make you feel bad about yourself, don’t hang out with them
  40. Never turn down a piece of pie

Ok, if anyone else feels like taking on a list, I would love to see it.

Geeky Self-Care: Holiday Edition

The winter holidays can be a wonderful time filled with fun and surprises and time spent with people you love.  However, it also has the potential to be a total turducken of stress: family tensions wrapped up in shopping insanity all stuffed inside of diminishing hours of sunlight. And you may well get the latest sickness that’s going around too.

It can be tough to focus on self care at a time of year that’s often geared towards thinking of others. But you do need to include yourself in the kindness you’re spreading as the year comes to an end. My fellow lady Smalerie has already shared some general winter self care tips. If you need some additional ideas, read on.

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Selections from the Geek Dictionary

There are all sorts of words and phrases from pop culture that have crossed over into the wider vernacular. Some are extremely well known. Others are less so, but still incredibly fun and useful once you know them. These are a few of my favorites.

Watsonian and Doylist

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“Elementary, my dear Watson…Doyle…whichever one you are.” (Source: Wikipedia)

(Adjectives)

Definition: From the perspective of a person in a fictional world (Watsonian) or from the perspective of an author or reader (Doylist). Useful in discussion of a fiction to clarify if you are talking about “in universe” explanations for something that happened or the “behind the scenes” version of events.

Etymology: The terms have their origins in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and refer to the two different people who could be said to have authored those works. Dr. John Watson is a fictional character in the same world as Holmes. To him, Holmes is a real person capable of acting and thinking on his own. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a real author who sees Holmes as a fictional character whose actions are dictated by a writer and the outside pressures that influence the writer.

Continue reading