Family Gaming – January 8

Board games have been coming out a lot at home so far this year. Last weekend,
we brought out Age of Mythology
again. One of my goals in playing the bigger wargame-like board games with the
boys is to get them to start comprehending strategy. Not specific strategies,
but rather just the notion of having some long-term goals, and devising some
short-term plans to achieve those goals. All too often in these games they
just start attacking without thinking about the consequences. In three player
games this can be a major weakness, because often the player who avoids
conflict will come out on top.

Matthew snaps a photo mid-game during Age of Mythology. Matthew played the
Egyptians, Jacob the Greeks, and I was the Norse.

Jacob, at least, is starting to grasp the concept. There was much less
fighting in this game, and he set out to try and build the wonder by the end
of the game. I opted for my usual strategy of building the most buildings and
largest army (mostly by not fighting very much). This was the closest game to
date – Jacob finished with the largest army and came close to building the
wonder at the end. If I hadn’t converted favor into victory points late in the
game, forcing it to end a bit earlier, Jacob would have caught me and won the

We were given Metro by some friends
for Christmas and it quickly became a favorite of Julie and Jacob. This is the
sort of game they will bring out after school when I’m not even around –
that’s how I know it’s a favorite!

This is a fun, quick, light game that I simply have not figured out. I’ve come
in last or second to last every time I’ve played, and have never been in
contention. Maybe I just think too much. Jacob’s strategy of ignoring all but
1 or 2 of his lines, and striving to maximize those seems to work pretty well.

Photos from the Chess Tournament

If all goes well today, there will be a barrage of postings as I clear out the
backlog. It was a busy week and I just didn’t have time to touch up and post
some photos from various events:

  • The chess tournament last weekend
  • Some informal game playing with the family
  • A game night we held last Wednesday
  • A wrestling tournament yesterday
  • Some more game playing this weekend

Let’s get things started with the chess tournament.

Here I am giving a pep talk to the team before our first round of matches.
Julie and Laurie Hill are the other two coaches. The kids were all very

Nick Rowlands (right) stares down his opponent. Nick, one of Jacob’s best
friends, is a tough competitor and a very strong chess player. He and Jacob
were on the team that one the bronze medal.

The unspoken truth about scholastic chess tournaments is that most of the time
is spent waiting. And waiting. What was especially frustrating about this
match was that the unrated division had to wait until the top division
finished their matches, often creating a 1.5 – 2 hour gap between games.

Chess Odyssey Winter Olympics

I took three Archer Glen chess teams to the Chess Odyssey Winter Olympics on
Saturday. This was a big deal for everyone involved – all but one of us (coach
included) had absolutely zero competitive chess experience! The three teams
played in the Warrior division, which consists of unrated players. This
doesn’t mean the competition wasn’t tough though.

There were three other teams playing in this division – two from Cooper
Mountain, and one from the Portland Chess club. Our strongest team did very
well, finishing third overall and winning the bronze medal. The player on the
first board on our best team won a trophy for best player on his board!
Overall I’m very proud of all of these kids for showing up and competing
against other kids that clearly spend a lot more time practicing than we do.
It was a long day (8am – 5pm) but they hung in there till the end.

My Detailed, Categorized Bookmarks

I’m experimenting with a tool called Womcat,
referred to me by my friend Greg. This is a
decent way to organize bookmarks, and I have
provided some brief notes on each. There are a few cool features about this
tool, which is why I am trying it instead of just making my own HTML page of

  • It automatically provides an RSS feed to my bookmarks. You can subscribe to this if you like and receive updates as I edit the list. If you are bold enough to run Womcat yourself, you can aggregate my bookmarks into your own.
  • It has the ability to maintain what are called “weak subscriptions” – pages I don’t necessarily read, but are likely to contain links to interesting spots. Womcat will check these weak subscriptions for me and tell me what outbound links they have in common. Good way to find new content.

Anyway, I’ve added it to my nav links on the right.