Friday, January 31, 2014

Small World Review

   Small World "Its a world of slaughter, after all!" 

   This box is great at keeping everything you need separated and organized. That's one thing I think is very important in game. I like to be able to find what I need, when I need it, without digging through everything.

   In this game, you are trying to defend your areas on the map. It comes with different maps depending on if there is 2-5 people playing. This is the 3 player map. Notice that some of the spaces have a symbol on them. Some of the races have special abilities that can be used on spaces with certain symbols. It can be anything from being able to conquer for less race tiles to getting extra victory coins.

   You start by setting up the board. Each mountain area gets another mountain placed on top. 

   The areas with a square with a little target in the middle, gets a lost tribe tile. 

   This is the round tracker piece. There are only 8-10 rounds in the game depending on the number of players. You move it at the beginning of each round.

   When you are done, it looks like this.

   Each player gets a card that tells you what the different races and special powers do.

   Each player also starts with five of the 1 victory coins. You get coins during the game which we will talk about in a minute. These coins become your points at the end of the game, so keep them face down in front of you.

   There is a pile of special powers. These will be paired up with the different races.

   These are the different races. When they are paired with the special powers, it gives the races a special power plus the different abilities that come with the race. Each race has it's own ability.

   You lay out 5 combinations. These will be the ones you get to choose from. When one is chosen, they all move down and the new combination is now at the top of the piles. As you can see, there are more special powers than race cards. This makes it so that if you go through all of them, they will come back up as a different combo.

   When we play, we always have one person that is over handing out the race tiles. I personally like it this way. It makes it so they all stay together and organized. They also put the pieces back as they are taken off the board. With so many little pieces, it helps keep them on the table so you don't end up loosing them.

   Some of the races come with special tiles that make it harder for people to kill them off. These fortresses (fortified special power), encampments (bivouacking special power) and troll lairs (troll race) make it take one more race token to conquer. 

   Some of the power ups also have a token that come with them. The dragon master can automatically take over a space with only one race token. This can be done once per turn. The mask one comes with the Heroic power up. This makes two of your spaces immune to enemies and their special powers. The hole in the ground comes with the Halflings race. These do not move once they are placed but they make those two spaces immune to attacks.

   On your first turn, you start by picking which special power/race combination you want. The one on the bottom is free to take. If you decide you don't want that one, you can skip by placing a 1 token on each piece you want to skip. Remember, these victory coins become your points at the end. If the one you want has a token(s) on it, you get to keep them.

   If I took the Flying Amazons, this means that I get to conquer any space on the map (flying) and I get an extra 4 amazon tiles to use only when conquering. Usually when you come onto the board, you have to start on the outside edge and have to move to adjacent spaces. Some of the powers and abilities will let you skip to a certain type of space.

   When you take your combination, you also take your race tokens. You get the amount by adding together the numbers on the cards. For instance, the flying part has a 5 and the Amazons have a 6. You start with the 11 tokens. The four extra ones you get, you can use during your turn but you have to take them off at the end of your turn. This means you get 15 tiles to start, but only 11 stay on the board. Each space you occupy needs to have at least one race token left on it at the end of your turn. You will use this combo until you go into decline with it.

   Each race token is two sided. One side is bright and colorful, the other side is dark and dull. When your race is active, you have the bright side up. When you go into decline, you will flip the tokens over. This lets everyone know if they are active or not.

   When conquering spaces on the board, each space takes at least 2 race tiles unless you have a power or race that says otherwise, some say you can conquer with one less in some areas. If there are other tokens on the space you want, you have to add 1 more race tile per thing added. For instance, if you wanted a mountain space, it would be 2 for the base plus one for the mountain to overtake it. So that would take three race tiles. If there was a race tile as well, it would take four race tiles to conquer it. When a space is conquered, the race tiles that were on that space are taken off the board. One of the race tiles stays off the board. If there were more than one tile, the remaining ones are given back to the person playing that race and they can put them on a space with other tiles of the same race.

   If you want to try and conquer a space, but you are a race tile or two short, you can roll a die to see if you can overtake it. You say which space you are trying to conquer and then roll the die. Three of the sides are blank, the other three sides has 1-3 squares on it. If you get a blank side, you don't get the space. Each square on the die counts as one additional race tile. You don't get an extra race tile, it just means you need 1-3 less tokens to conquer that space. You always have to play at least one race card to conquer a space.

   At the end of your turn, you can fortify your troops. If you have a few tiles piled up because you needed to conquer an area, when you are done you can take the ones off the top and redistribute them to help strengthen other areas on the board. Once this is done, you count how many spaces you have control of on the board, including your in decline tiles, that's how many victory coins you receive.

   At the start of your next turn, you gather all of your race tiles, leaving one on each space you have conquered. These are the tiles you use to conquer more spaces. Eventually, you will run out of race tiles. When this happens, you go into decline. When you go into decline it takes your whole turn. You flip over your power/race combo and then flip over all of your tiles on the board only leaving one tile, unless you have a power or race that says otherwise. This is the end of your turn. You can only have one in decline race at a time, unless you have a special power or race that says otherwise. You still receive victory coins for these races until they are taken off the board. You don't have to wait to run out of tiles before you go into decline, you can decline at any time at the start of your turn, even if you only use them once and decide you don't want/need them anymore.

   At the end of the last round, you add up your victory coins. Whoever has the most, wins the game!

   I have a love/hate relationship with this game. I like the colors, the game play and how everyone's turns can have a direct impact on you. You have to pay attention to what is going on. I like that each game you play is different. I like that this game is easy enough to understand that my boys can play it with me. It has a lot of strategy with just a touch of luck. It's also just the right amount of time to play. It doesn't drag on for forever (unless you have people that don't pay attention and work on a strategy while they wait for their turn). The game lasts for about an hour.

   What I don't like is when you play with people that get upset when you attack their race like you personally attacked them. Part of the game is knocking people down while helping yourself. I don't like listening to people complain through the whole game. I have found that these people usually win because they don't get attacked as often so they don't complain. Depending on your friends, this may or may not be a problem. It's really not a huge deal, its just slightly annoying. I find I tend not to play games with people that act like this. It makes almost any game not enjoyable.

   Over all, its a good game and I enjoy playing it. I think if you have the right group of friends, this is a definite must have.

   Now, a word from my 9 year old:

   I like Smallworld because I enjoy conquering different lands. The Ratmen are my favorite, they have lots of guys. You can pick between many races that do many things. The special powers are fun because you never know combinations you will get to play with.

   It is a fun game to play with my dad and my friend's. 

   And here's the table top... because I can.
   It has been brought to my attention that the video doesn't show up on a mobile device, so here's the link.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Make It Sew

I’ve been on a mission for a new kind of hobby for a while.  When I discovered the strange, new book, Star Trek Cross Stitch by John Lohman, I knew my search was over.  This book combines two of my great loves, crafts and Star Trek; it was inevitable that I’d explore the new hobby of cross stitching.  (I know, I know, my inner geek is showing.) The book won’t really teach you how to cross stitch but has a plethora of awesome patterns with simple directions.
Why did I choose to do cross-stitch (besides the awesome Star Trek tie-in)? Cross stitch can be done in small bits whenever I find that precious, spare moment to relax.  The supplies needed can be taken out and put away easily so NO CLEAN UP!!  This is a major bonus.  Also the supplies are inexpensive.  Easy and cheap—it is only logical to start cross-stitching!
If you want to get started, your first step is to pick a design.  Pick a small, simple pattern with 5 or less colors.  Star Trek Cross Stitch organizes patterns by rank.  The Ensign patterns are for beginners.  I chose one that says, “Enterprise Sweet Enterprise.” Eventually, I will work up to the Lieutenant and Captain patterns which increase in difficulty (and Yes, I WILL be adding pips to my collar each time I move up in difficulty—my parents will be so proud!)
Second, gather supplies.  You will need the following:

·        A tapestry needle—they have a blunt end and come in different sizes. I used size 24. A package of several costs $1.00 to $2.00.

·        Embroidery thread—I used DMC brand. Each color is labeled with a number that you will find in your pattern.  These only cost 0.39 each!

·        Aida fabric—you can buy this in various sizes and colors. The threads are consistently spaced so your stitches will be too.  It is labeled with a number that represents stitches per inch.   If you buy fabric with a 12, it has 12 stitches per inch.  11 would have 11 stitches per inch and have larger stitches than 12.  14 would have smaller stitches and more stitches per inch.
·        An embroidery hoop or frame—these keep your fabric tight and are easy to hold.  I used a frame so I wouldn’t have to keep moving the hoop to different parts of fabric.  Hoops, depending on size, are only a few dollars apiece.

 ·      Masking Tape—if you line the edges of your fabric with masking tape, they will not come unraveled.

Third, MAKE IT SEW!  Get started!!!
The first thing you are going to do is cut your fabric if needed.  Make sure you leave plenty of room (at least two inches) around the edges.  Place masking tape around each edge.
Then find the center of your fabric by folding your fabric in half.
 Then in half again. 
Unfold and place a light dot with a pencil in the center where the two creases intersect. 
Place your fabric into your hoop or frame following the directions on the packaging.
Now, find the center of your pattern.  Your pattern is divided into small squares.  Count how tall your pattern is vertically in squares.  My pattern is 70 squares tall.  Divide that by two and I get 35.  Repeat horizontally.  My pattern is 140 squares wide.  Divide that by two and I get 70.  So, my center point is where row 35 and column 70 meet.  Once you find the center, make a small light mark on the pattern with a pencil. That's where you will make your first stitch.
Find the color thread that is at the center of the pattern.  The thread is bundled together in strands of 6.  Pull out about 1 and ½ feet of thread and cut all 6 strands together.   Don’t cut it too long or you may get knots in your thread while stitching.  You will only need two of the 6 threads.  Gently pull out one string at a time, separating it from the group.  Set the extra 4 aside for later.  Put your two strings together. 
Thread the needle, pulling the thread about 2 to 3 inches through the eye and folding it over.  Tie a knot in the bottom—that is the end away from the needle.  This will keep the thread from pulling all the way through the fabric. You are ready to make your first stitch!
Start in the center square, you have marked on the Aida fabric. Place the needle in the lower left hole coming from the back side.  Pull it through the front side. 

Make sure your thread has not knotted and that all the thread pulls through and stops at the end knot. Now staying on the same square, put the needle through the upper right hand hole of the square.  You should see a diagonal stitch. 

Now, from the back again, put the needle through the lower right hand square. 

From the front, put the needle through the upper left hand square and pull through to the back. 

X MARKS THE SPOT!  That's how you make your first stitch! As Spock says, “Fascinating.” (Star Trek fans—your right this would probably only garner an “interesting” from Spock but I digress.)
You will notice that you finished your x by going from lower right to upper left. Finish every x this direction so that your stitches look consistent.  The top stitch of your X should always be lower right to upper left throughout your whole piece since that is how you started. Be careful to put your needle through the holes in the fabric and not the fabric itself!
Now, I tried to always work from right to left.  The letter w was at the center so that is where I started.
Next, I stitched the  S.   Then, I counted squares on my pattern and figured out where to start the T and did the T, E, and then E.  This way I knew that my piece was centered correctly on my fabric.  After that, I counted squares again to figure out where to start the e in the top Enterprise.  I started with the last e, working from right to left until I finished the whole word.  I found it easier to do one letter at a time, instead of whole rows.  If I messed up a letter, I could see right away and undo the thread.  I counted wrong a few times but that was an easy fix.  I just pulled out my thread until I undid the mistake and started back up again.
When you use up all the thread on your needle, leave enough to tie two small knots at the end.  Trim the end of your threads off after you tie the knots.  (Some people don’t tie knots at all—I do because it is just easier for a beginner.)  Re-thread your needle and keep going where you stopped. 
Also, if you finish something like a letter or a figure, you don’t have to cut and tie your thread.  You can keep going by just starting to stitch the next part.  A good rule of thumb is never to stretch your thread more than 3 inches.  If your letters or figures are more than 3 inches apart, cut and tie your thread before you start the new part.
Here is my finished project.  It took me about a week and half to finish (part of which was a 3 day vacation.)  I watched X-files and Big Bang Theory while I stitched away….(and Yes, I did experience complete and absolute NERDVANA.)

 Your turn…Boldly go my crafting friends.




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hey, that's my fish! Review

   Hey That's My Fish is another fun little game. It's great for a time filler as it plays rather quickly. We have played this while waiting for everyone to show up for our game nights. The idea behind it is to get more fish than everyone else.

   It's a rather small sized box, so it doesn't take up much room. The tiles are small as well so you won't need a huge game playing surface for it.

   To set it up, you lay out the tiles. You alternate between rows of 7 and 8 so they make a square.

   Pick a color of penguin you would like to be. There are four colors. Each color has four poses. I think these little guys are awesome. They are wearing bibs and running off with fish.

   You start off by taking turns placing your penguins. For a two player game, you use all four of your penguins. For a three player, you use three penguins and for a four player you use two. This game has some strategy to it. You can move your penguin in a straight line until it hits another penguin or comes to a hole in the board, like if they were sliding across ice.

   When your penguin moves, you take the tile that was under it while singing "So long and thanks for all the fish!" (You don't really have to, it's just fun) Those fish are your points. There are 1-3 fish on each piece.

   You need to be careful, as your pieces can get stuck between two others, like the green one at the bottom. When this happens you end up with a penguin just sitting there unable to get you any more fish.

   When there is a tile that can no longer be reached, its removed off of the board and isn't scored at the end.

   When there's an island, the piece on it gets all of the pieces it can get to while going in straight lines so make sure you plan it out.

   Sometimes there is a tile or two that you can't get to on an island. The piece(s) left would be removed from play.

   After all the tiles are taken, you add up your fish. In this case, yellow got 51 fish, green got 48 fish and there was one we couldn't score. Yellow won! (because I was green)

   We were watching a review of this game on YouTube (sorry, I can't remember which one) when they were talking about how sometimes it's hard to get the tiles out because they are so small and all lined up. They had a suggestion about a way to get the tile out easier. It's a super special tool.

   You can use a Nerf dart with a suction cup on the end. It works pretty well at getting the pieces out without messing up the rest of the board.

   This is a fun game. I enjoy playing it and we have played it with our older boys. I say older but they are almost 9 and 7, so it's pretty easy to understand. I think this game is a great one to help children learn good sportsmanship while playing games. Things don't always go as planned and it can keep you on your toes a bit. You're trying to get the most fish while making sure you don't get blocked out and maybe trying to block out someone else while you do it. It makes kids plan a strategy that is going to be constantly messed up so they have to use problem solving skills as well. I like playing games with my kids that make them have to use their brains.