He Said, She Said

Back when we discovered BGG in 2004, my wife Robin (helenoftroy), and I, started recording plays and posting session reports under "The Honeymooners" moniker. It's hard to imagine eight years have passed since! Therefore, feeling nostalgic, I'm bringing "The Honeymooners" back and adding our two precocious boys, Bailey and Jakob, to the roster. This blog will record sessions and comments regarding our current game play and how we're introducing gaming concepts to our children. Enjoy!

Archive for Hilary Hartman

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In a Star Wars State of Mind

Hilary Hartman
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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With all of the hoopla surrounding Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, my own fascination with the Saga has come full circle. Where once I had been awed by the adventures of Luke Skywalker and company, I was thoroughly and utterly done with the series at the end of the new trilogy. For all I cared, Star Wars had been a great--nay, monumental!--series better left to a long time ago in a decade far, far away.

And then the Mouse House acquired the rights and started hiring folks like J.J. Abrams to move the series in a new direction, relegating Jedi Master George to the role of Creative Consultant where he could do the least amount of harm to the series he had created. That's right, I said it: George Lucas derailed the series from what it could have been with the disastrous prequel series featuring Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, and a horrid love story which had hoped to illustrate the epic beginnings of the Skywalker clan.

All of that being said, I am really, really stoked for seeing how the series turns out. It could get worse, but somehow I doubt such is possible unless Disney really sets about milking the franchise any further. Disney would never do that, right?

So, this weekend, I found myself surrounded in Star Wars gaming goodness. First, I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. I've been playing MMOs off and on since 1998, and was even part of the beta for Star Wars Galaxies. I've played UO, EQ, AO, WoW, E&B, and so on, and I personally think that SWTOR is the best. Not only does it have all the trappings of traditional MMOs but an individualized story for the player, too. At least in the game I feel like my character's journey is special, something I haven't felt in any of the other MMOs I've played. As of now, I have a 15th level smuggler, and a 6th level Sith, and both of them are a hoot to play.

Yesterday, Robin and I played the quick start rules to Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. I thought we might want to give it a go, especially seeing how I'd ordered the Millenium Falcon and Slave I expansion packs. Yeah, it's a very simplified version of the rules. So simple that it's boring. Even with the John Williams' A New Hope score blaring in the background, the game moved at the speed of a Hutt. Later, Robin and I both admitted we'd hoped that the other would blast us out of the sky. Instead, like Wings of War: Famous Aces, we ended up maneuvering back and forth while not hitting each other as the fun ebbed slowly away. Finally, I pulled out the victory, and while I jumped for joy at having won, I also leapt around trying to get feeling back in my butt from having sat so long at the table.



We also own Star Wars: The Card Game, but I'm a little worried that bringing it to the table today would make Robin seize me in some pseudo Force Choke as she Force flings me across the room. Surely, it has to be better than Star Wars Customizable Card Game, right?

Finally, I can't possibly imagine the reaction she would have to Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, seeing as tabletop RPGs are not her favorite games to play. Robin's a good sport and really tries to enjoy the RPGs I do bring home, especially if I drag out miniatures for them. But a Star Wars RPG? I think it would go over like Bantha Poo-Doo.

Regardless, I've had a good weekend and have gotten to play one of the games I'd bought within the last year. I admit: I bought it because the 10 year-old in me wanted the tiny starfighters that I'd grown up with since sitting in that darkened theater in 1977. For a few brief moments, with the soundtrack playing in the background, I was in the cockpit of the X-Wing and fighting the good fight for the Rebellion. That, friend, is what gaming is all about.
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Sun Mar 3, 2013 11:22 pm
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Solo Sunday

Hilary Hartman
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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While my wife took a power nap and, afterwards, started grading papers, I played a solo game of Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game and my first play of A.D. 30. The former was over fairly quickly, the latter taking a bit more time due to my unfamiliarity with the rules.

In the Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game session, I played the Dragonborn wizard in the first adventure. Confounded at the outset by debilitating traps, poison darts and whirling blades, I had used my first surge by the end of the fourth placed tile. The arc lightning power worked well against a gibbering mouther and orc bowman, but a few rooms later it was all but over. I faced a grell, and the infernal blades had been following me all the way, and with the last surge used the poor wizard was strangled by the grell's tentacles. All in all, about 40 minutes had elapsed.

As I mentioned, this was my first play of A.D. 30, a solo game which allows the player to re-enact the ministry of Jesus. Gearhead's review does a wonderful job of describing the game and all of its nuances, so I won't go into such details herein. Nor am I wanting to entertain theological debates on the merits of such a game. I did enjoy the game very much. In my session, Jesus' ministry did not expand beyond the Middle East, Paul's conversion never happened, but Christianity managed to flourish nonetheless--if not globally. If anything, I want another chance to try my hand at the decisions that came with Jesus' ministry to see if I fare better.

The family played PitchCar Mini last night, while Robin and I got through a rough session of Dungeon Run. Everyone here loves PitchCar, and I'm starting to really enjoy the "flick" games we have in our collection. I'm on the fence with the dungeon-crawl made by Plaid Hat Games; I enjoyed the first game we played, but this second one left a sour taste in my mouth. I'm not sure it's a very good two player at all.
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Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:32 pm
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It's on the Shelf! (New Game Shelves)

Hilary Hartman
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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Yeah, but which one?

That used to be the problem here at our home. Our games were spread out across various closets, boxes,and book shelves. It was hard to keep track of them all, and the idea that I'd have to find any one of them before playing it was sometimes a bigger hassle.

We had been meaning to hit up Ikea for a set of nice shelves which would fit perfectly in an alcove that is part of our living room. The shelves run close to $300; shipping them would have been another $250+ and they'd arrive in over 30 separate boxes. My luck would likely run where the box with all of the hardware is the one which would be lost during shipping. So, we'd decided we'd head north of Cincinnati to the closest Ikea...five months ago. We never made it.

So, yesterday I took some measurements and headed to Lowe's. For around $50, I was able to get: two 2x12x12 boards, ten gray cinder blocks, and two sets of wall fasteners. Two hours after returning home, the alcove looked like this:



Now that the shelves have been completed, all of the games from two closets, one bookcase, and one large box sit proudly displayed in our living room. We still have one bookcase, also in the living room, filled with games, but at least every game is now out in the open.

That being so, I now see some of the games I really want to get to the table in the next few months. A short list would include Mage Knight Board Game, Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath Board Game, and Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. These are just a few of the 30 games in our collection which we haven't gotten around to reading the rules on, much less get them to the table. Soon!

We did play our first game of Castle Panic yesterday, the whole family victorious in holding off the invading monsters. It was close! Between a few errant monsters that managed to break through the castle walls, and several large boulders which demolished wall segments or towers, we clung to victory by managing to keep two towers intact. Everyone in the family enjoyed the game! It was interesting to note that our oldest boy, who has been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, really enjoyed the cooperative nature of the game. We will get some of our other games out that have the same feature and see how he fares with them.

Good gaming!
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Sun Nov 4, 2012 7:19 pm
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Father's Day Weekend

Hilary Hartman
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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What a fun-filled weekend of gaming! Who would've thought such was possible, especially after my comments in my All Work and No Play discussion in the Wargames forum? Maybe every game wasn't a hex-and-counters experience, but it was pretty close.

Yesterday morning, my wife,
Robin
United States
glennallen
Alaska
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sat across the table from me and played the Long Island scenario of Hold the Line. A while back I foolishly traded away one of her all-time favorite games Clash for a Continent: Battles of the American Revolution and French & Indian War, so I'd made amends by picking up the Worthington Games re-release. Sure, I'll have to get the Hold the Line: French and Indian War Expansion Set set one day, but for now the base set will do just fine.

Anyhow, after set-up and a brief rules re-acclamation, we got down to business. The variable Action Point system each turn makes for a tense situation because, while you know how many base points you'll start with each turn, the idea that you may have 1-3 more to work with allows for all sorts of planning. Regardless, while her British forces made several attempts to encircle the American forces, I narrowly won the day by claiming six of her units (to the five of mine she'd gotten, two shy of her victory conditions) within turn fifteen.

Then, last night, I let my oldest son, Bailey, pick out a game to play. He looked in his closet and chose Monopoly: Spongebob Squarepants. We sat on the floor in the room he shares with his younger brother, Jakob, and played a shortened game of 90 minutes. The game seriously drips with theme, and the boys love the pewter figures, the references to the TV show, and trying to outdo each other by having the most money and property.

As they are both young, Bailey, 7, and Jakob, 6, the game really makes them utilize their math/counting skills. Plus, they have to wait their turn, and read any cards they pick-up. I was surprised the game went the whole 90 minutes, frankly, as usually one or both of them get bored. No, this time Jakob had to be asked to leave the room when he kept playfully kicking his brother in the side of his head. Keep in mind, we were sitting on the floor, and he is only 6...

In the end, Bailey handed me a defeat; he had $50 more dollars in property value, and over $200 more in cash. Jakob, and his money/properties, had been disqualified for his Kung-Fu fighting.

(And yes, it was a little bit frightening.)

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This morning, the boys wanted to continue the on-going RPGing we'd been doing since the spring with Melee and Wizard. They each have a character; Bailey has "Superboy 4" which is a fighter/wizard hybrid, and Jakob has "Spiderman 5" an outright tank. The adventure they are playing is titled "The Hole in the Side of the Hill" which sprang from a bedtime story I'd been telling them since last year.

To catch you up-to-speed, all you need to know is this: An earthquake caused a hole to appear in the side of a hill on their family farm. Their father, known simply as "Dad," a former soldier in the king's army, went to investigate the hole and disappeared. In an earlier adventure, the two boys rescued their father from the hole in the hill, which was really a collapsed section of wall in a long-buried and forgotten complex.

Needless to say, the complex is home to snakes, giant spiders, skeletons, and a mysterious old man. Fighting their way to their father, the boys find him conversing with the older man, the latter giving the boys gifts for clearing the building of the monsters and coming to the rescue of their father. They returned to the family homestead to discover that their younger sister had been taken captive by marauding skeletons...this all happened over the course of several play sessions.

And this was where the story started today with Superboy 4 and Spiderman 5 searching for their sister. Besting a dire wolf, a skeleton and zombie, two goblins, and a troll, the brothers rescued the sister with much heroics! The session lasted almost two hours, our longest to date, and at the end they asked for a continuation...of course, about that time, several of the king's men appeared and said the boys had been called to the castle, the king having heard of their brave exploits...

Afterwards, a grand, real-life celebration ensued, with my own dad and mom coming over for a Father's Day lunch (lasagna, salad, bread, cake and coffee). Even now, my lovely wife is sleeping it off, while the kids watch the second Harry Potter movie in the living room.

Still, I was able to get one more game in today: Outlaws: Adventures in the Old West. I received a handmade copy from the designer himself in the mail earlier this week, and it sure is beautiful, and quick to learn. I've played more than a few games set in the American West of the 19th century (shoot, I even wrote and published a novel set in that time period...), and so far this game has been my favorite of the genre.

Sure, I liked Gunslinger, and I thought Cowboys: The Way of the Gun was okay, and I even dabbled in Legends of the Old West, not to mention giving BANG! a shot, but I really liked the weaving of dice and chit-draw mechanics combined with Action Points. Yeah, it was a solo game (my wife was starting to nod off into the magical world of Naptime when I walked into the room to see if she wanted to play), but once I set-up the map tiles and the character cards, the whole experience took less than 90 minutes as I read the rules and fought a quick, bloody shoot-out between Bill and Luke.

(For those keeping score, Luke took Bill down with one shot to the chest, one to the leg, and another to an arm, while Luke suffered only a grazing chest wound himself.)

So, now here I am, basking in the warm glow of a great gaming weekend with my family. I still have an urge to play something else, but time is beginning to ebb away and the night is drawing near. Perhaps, after the movie in the next room ends and the boys drift off to their own beds, I'll settle in with a good book.

Or maybe I'll fire up the laptop and play another scenario of Frozen Synapse, the tactical, turn-based PC game I found after it was suggested by our glorious leader,
Scott Alden
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Dallas
Texas
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Regardless, I hope you all have had a great weekend!

Take care,
Hil
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Sun Jun 19, 2011 11:46 pm
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