Gaming in Oregon

I’m gaming with good friend, Chris Brooks, on the Oregon coast this week. During the first half of the week, we are playing epic and war games. Later in the week, a few more folks show up and we move into shorter, euro-style games. It is also great to have gaming friends, KC Humphrey (Havoc: The Hundred Years War) and Jeff DeBoer (Funagain Games), involved since I don’t see them more than once every year or so.


Maginot Line in Supreme Commander

Chris, Ken C and I played Supreme Commander. Supreme Commander is a European Theater strategic war game by GMT. Chris wrote about preparing for our play in the weeks leading up to this event. For a grand strategy game, the rules complexity is relatively low. Still, it is a BIG game! We played all day and didn’t progress beyond the end of 1940. After a whiskey, bourbon, rye, scotch tasting20150222-Gaming-002.jpg, we pulled out a few decks of A Game of Thrones LCG and a multiplayer game ensued.


Chris and I started with Richard III: The War of the Roses. R3 is a block war game by Columbia Games in the same vein as Hammer of the Scots. The mechanics of R3 are very much like Hammer but Chris and I felt R3 is a more straightforward implementation of the system and like it better. In the middle of the day, Doug C, Chris, KC, Jeff and I played Manifest Destiny. This is a card driven civ type game with a fair bit of player interaction. I enjoyed Manifest Destiny but, overall, like Clash of Cultures better and we played that later in the evening!


Communist pressure felt in Europe during Twilight Struggle

KC and I played Twilight Struggle in the morning. TS is a favorite of mine and covers the Cold War using the card driven mechanic that originated with We the People. In the afternoon, KC, Jeff, Alex C and I played Eclipse, a space themed 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) game that plays so well, I sold my copy of Twilight Imperium a few years ago.


In Eclipse, no one can hear you scream!

Jeff and I played Legend of the 5 Rings in the morning. L5R is a oriental themed collectible card game. It’s one of the only CCGs continuously published since it first appeared about a year after Magic: The Gathering. The rest of the day was spent deck building with the A Game of Thrones boosters Chris distributed the evening before and playing against each other.

To Be Continued…

The week is half over and has been great fun to this point. Tomorrow, we’ll play a few more epic games before moving on to the euro-style portion of the week.

2014 Books: Macabre/Fantasy

Suspense • Science Fiction • Macabre/Fantasy

I strayed heavily (back) into the writings of King last year. Outside of The Regulators/Desperation in 2012, it’s been 20 years since I read a King novel. Needful Things (1991) is the last work I remember reading prior to the 2012 flirtation and last year’s obsession. I blame Chris Brooks. He recommended 11-22-63, claiming it was a great read. What did I do? I listened Thanks, mate! ;-P

The Crystal Shard (R. A. Salvatore)

This is only one of two traditional fantasy (and non-King) stories in this group! I read and enjoyed the Dark Elf trilogy (Homeland / Exile / Sojourn) a few years ago. I’ve had the Icewind Dale trilogy (The Crystal Shard / Streams of Silver / The Hafling’s Gem) queued up but never pulled the trigger on reading them. I jumped off the starting block with the first volume last year but still need to crack open the other two volumes. As with the Dark Elf books, I enjoyed reading The Crystal Shard. At the same time, there is nothing new here. It is traditional, straight forward fantasy fare. Fans of the character will enjoy and it fulfills that occasional guilty pleasure of reading a swashbuckling fantasy adventure. Jim’s score: B.

11-22-63 (Stephen King)

This is King’s take on time travel and it is not without merit! What would have happened if the JFK assassination was averted? Read this to find out! 😀 It doesn’t reach the heights of The ShiningThe Stand, or It, but it is a good read. Jim’s score: B+.

The Shining (Stephen King)

The Shining

Doctor Sleep

The Shining is King at his best. I re-read this as a precursor to reading, Doctor Sleep, the sequel. Both are great rides but The Shining is, without question, one of the top three books he has ever published.Yes, there is paranormal stuff going on here but watching Jack spiral out of control as his sanity unravels is an amazing piece of writing. In the followup, we learn how Danny’s life turns out and, while different, is a worthwhile read for fans of the original. Jim’s score: A+ (The Shining), B+ (Doctor Sleep).

The Eyes of the Dragon (Stephen King)

This is one of the first non-horror novels King wrote and received considerable criticism since it was outside what everyone (fans and critics) expected from him. It is a solid, young adult fantasy novel with a very clear good versus evil theme. I read it in my run-up to start reading The Dark Tower series since it features (Randall) Flagg as the antagonist who also turns up as the bad guy in The Stand and The Dark Tower novels. Jim’s score: B.

It (Stephen King)

It was another re-read. This, too, was another reading in preparation for starting down the road to The Dark Tower. Like The Shining, it’s been nearly 30 years since I read this and had forgotten how good his material from the ’70s and ’80s was. Beyond the scary monster, King incorporates a number of themes including the magic of imagination and the power of friendship. Jim’s score: A.

The Little Sisters of Eluria (Stephen King)

A short story about Roland sometime before the beginning of The Gunslinger. Jim’s score: B.

The Gunslinger (Stephen King)

The Gunslinger is the first of The Dark Tower novels and concerns Roland as he chases Walter (aka the man in black aka Randall Flagg) across the world. Just as important, though, is what we learn about Roland through flashbacks and reminiscences as the chase unfolds. Jim’s score: A-.

Thoughts on 2015

Without a doubt, more King. I’ve already finished the second book of The Dark Tower and am more than half done with the third. Based on my Dark Tower plan, I will meander through a considerable amount of related material before I am finished and not all of that will be this year. I may knock out the remaining two volumes of the Icewind Dale trilogy and will probably read The Slow Regard for Silent Things while I await the third entry in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss.

That’s all I have for 2014! Drop me a line with your recommendations. I’m always looking for great new reads in science fiction and fantasy!

Suspense • Science Fiction • Macabre/Fantasy