Wednesday What’s Up

Let’s try something new.

What I’m Drinking

  • Tried the beer Kapuziner Hefe-Weißbier at Hand + Foot on June 01 2017. Gave it a rating of 4. Great lunchtime beer; refreshing and rich. Hand + Foot is a cool little bistro in the market district in Corning, NY. We were in the area to do some grocery shopping.
  • Julie and I purchased a “beer share” (!) at Steuben Brewing Company which is just up the hill from us here at Keuka Lake. For $36 we get 6 fills of a 750 ml wine bottle style growler, which is a good size for the two of us. Unfortunately the only way we get notified about new beers that are ready is on Facebook, which…
  • In honor of the passing of Roger Moore, I made a martini last weekend using his recipe. I used a different vermouth, but it didn’t matter – tasted awesome. Putting the drink back in the freezer is a good way to make sure it is ice cold. I’m going to test to see if keeping the gin in the freezer to start with is just as good.

What I’m Playing

  • I’m still mildly obsessed with Advanced Squad Leader and am looking to play at least once per week on VASL while I’m here at the lake. Played with a new online friend last week and got destroyed playing the Strayer’s Strays scenario. I have a lot to learn but it is very useful playing experienced players. Want a game? Just drop me a line.
  • Julie and I are getting in almost nightly two-player gaming. Lately it has been mostly 7 Wonders Duel which Julie dominates in. We also mix in Five Crowns.
  • We are off to Maine for five days, but on return we plan to play Tzolk’in.

What I’m Watching

Keuka Lake in May/June means lots of catching up on TV series that Julie and I watch together. So far this is Silicon Valley, House of Cards and Halt and Catch Fire. We just started watching The Leftovers. Four episodes in and we have no idea what is going on, but the journey is fun.

I also watched a few single shot Netflix exclusives:

  • War Machine (2017) – Not a great film as I couldn’t figure out whether to love Brad Pitt’s performance or laugh at it. Still, a worthwhile satire and statement on the USA approach to counter-insurgency over the past 50 years. Hint: it doesn’t seem to be working.
  • Sarah Silverman A Speck of Dust – Julie and I watched this last weekend and enjoyed it. Plenty of laugh-out-loud humor. Sarah is brilliant. She also looks the same today as she did when she was in School of Rock.

What I’m Reading

I read and recommend a ton of long- and short-form articles every week. Follow me on Pocket to track what I’m reading there. For those of you interested in leadership and tech industry articles, you might want to see my weekly Sunday links posting.

Five and Dime List for 2015


I first started doing “five and dime” reports 13 years ago. This is a summary of games I played at least 5 or 10 times in the prior year. For many years Mark Jackson was the keeper of the aggregated Five and Dime list, and it is a fun distraction to go travel through that wormhole and see what the hotness was five to ten years ago.


I played 212 times in 2015 with a noticeable break while Julie and I traveled in Ireland. I was surprised about a few games that didn’t show up on the list, but those had four plays: Jaipur, Churchill, and Viticulture.

Still, things are picking up and I’m playing more games. Julie and I are much more likely to pull out a quickie game at night now (hence our new fascination with Five Crowns, which actually doesn’t suck).

Here is the list:

  • Five Crowns – mainstream rummy like
  • Magic: The Gathering – Isn’t it amazing that 13 years ago I was mentioning that I still pull out decks made 8 years ago? Still playing with those decks today that are almost as old as my 21 year old son.
  • Advanced Squad Leader – My new obsession with gaming partner Doug.
  • Airborne Commander – I think I got in all five plays over a three day period. The game is tough, but fun, and I’ll be playing again soon.
  • Codenames – Favorite party game from 2015 and it was a hit over the holidays.
  • Forbidden Desert – We still haven’t figured out how to win this game yet, which is a good sign for a cooperative game (if you like dying of thirst in a sandstorm, that is). I want to keep trying to crack this one though some in my family are less enthused.
  • Hanabi – This was “new to me” in 2015 and is one of the more creative games I’ve played lately. This is a four player puzzle game (I guess you can play with two or three but I like four) where the group needs to come up with communication conventions to share hidden information. I suspect it becomes solvable for groups that play a lot, but I enjoy introducing this to new people.

The Dice Tower 2016 Kickstarter Is Live

Last year our focus was on making the show BETTER, and I think we succeeded. This year, we want to continue that trend. We’re asking for your help as we pursue our goal of covering the entire world of board games. We have a myriad of cool rewards, but we hope that your main goal in supporting this Kickstarter is to keep the Dice Tower going. We are dedicated to keeping our show free for download and viewing, and appreciate those who join us in that goal.

I’ve been a listener of The Dice Tower podcast since it started (I even reviewed podcasts way back when) and continue to support the network. You should too if you listen or watch!

Recap of Some Games I Played in December

I've had a very active month of gaming so far! Here's a recap of the highlights:

  • Nations – played this with Jacob and Matthew and got destroyed. Could never get my engine running and felt behind by the end of the first age. The boys played a tight game with Jacob edging Matthew by one point. Nations isn't holding up well for me, but maybe I'm soured from my poor showing.
  • Jaipur – Still one of the favorite two player card games for Julie and me. When we take some time away from the game, we always seem to play it wrong the first time through.
  • Warfighter: The Tactical Special Forces Card Game – Doug gifted a spare copy of this fun, light solo/cooperative modern tactical card game. Matthew and I played the easy intro scenario again and had fun, but it was too easy. I hope we can fit in a tougher scenario before he returns to West Point next weekend.
  • Advanced Squad Leader – I look forward to this every week with Doug. We are playing through some easier infantry only scenarios and keep stumbling on new rules and small mistakes. The consistent play helps; we even took an hour this week to play over VASL so that we wouldn't lose our momentum over the busy holidays.

Objective Kiev, playing with Evan S

  • Objective: Kiev – We had a friendly wargamer social down at the Lucky Lab in SE Portland last week, and I finally got to play this magazine game. Evan S and I played a game for the first time in person and enjoyed the game, which took about two hours. The turn sequence printed on the map is wrong, so I plan to paste up a corrected one.
  • Combat Commander: Europe – Matt R came over for a full day of campaign play. We each have a “personal leader” we are playing with starting fall 1944 and through the Bulge. Matt killed my personal leader early in the first scenario! We got through two scenarios and Matt won both, though the first was very tight. I had control of the board but lost due to the surrender limit.
  • Viticulture: Complete Collector's Edition – I'm loving this game, and slowly drawing Julie into it as a medium weight 2 player game. We are able to play through in about an hour and are starting to mix in expansions from Tuscany.
  • 1880: China – I joined Myk, Chuck, and Matt for this elegant 18xx game a few weekends ago. We didn't quite finish the game, but I was destined for a second or third place showing but not too far behind. I love meandering around 18xx games, focusing on local optimization while I learn the nuances of a given game. I hope to play with Jacob and one or two others on January 3.
  • Splendor – I finally played this much hoped game, two player with Doug. Fun game but it didn't blow me away enough to consider a purchase.
  • Treasure Hunter – Played this with four players and it has more depth than I initially thought. It is a card drafting game where you are building sets of different suits, sometimes going for high, sometimes low, sometimes trying to void a suit. I'd play it again.
  • Deep Sea Adventure – This is a fun little press your luck game, and would make a great filler or pub game. On my “might buy this” list.


  • CV – Played this the same night as Treasure Hunter and Deep Sea Adventure, and I think it compares to Splendor but with a bit more complexity.
  • Airborne Commander – Really enjoying this solitaire card game that I kickstarted a while back. It is a very difficult game and I'm struggling to just finish a scenario with positive points.
  • Orléans: Deluxe Edition – KC and I played this beautifully crafted game and he was very kind to steer me to victory. I enjoyed the game and love the production, though I wonder if the strategies are too obvious.
  • Five Crowns – Julie has been playing this weekly with a local friend and introduced me to it. It is a mass market game but pleasant fun and I'll always play it when Julie asks. Definitely has some strong luck aspects, but there's more depth to it than I initially though.

Recent Gaming: Churchill, Food Chain Magnate, ASL, and more

I go through odd but apparently predictable gaming cycles each year. Julie and I were on the road and in Ireland for about two months from late August to late October, and hardly a game was played during that period. Now that I’m back, I’m all in with a vengeance and playing multiple games each week, including some bigger and longer games.

I’ve been tracking the games I play for many years and this year really isn’t any different from past years. Last year I didn’t log a single game played from August through October. The reason of course is football coaching for the past 10 years. So the reasons this year might be different, but the result is the same. I dive back into gaming full force every November. Let’s talk about some games I’ve been playing lately.


GMT's Churchill with KC and Ken

Churchill is the long awaited (by me anyway) three player strategy game about the WWII conferences involving the three major allies. So Stalin, FDR, and Churchill. And maybe Truman and Clement Attlee. I’m three plays into it now, including a 9 hour campaign scenario, a 5 hour tournament scenario, and a 2 hour teaching game just yesterday. Churchill is wacky as a game, and I think it needs to be viewed as an experience as you learn it. Mark Herman took an interesting and I think innovative approach to victory points and winning conditions but for mortals like me they aren’t comprehensible the first few plays. That’s because the game is “co-opetive” and hence has the odd tension of struggling together to beat the axis while trying to maximize your personal position leading into the post-war world. For me, though, playing a game like this is an immersive experience where I care less about the outcome and more about the role playing and fun with my friends.


Advanced Squad Leader

Advanced Squad Leader - the Guards Counterattack with Doug

Doug and I continue our immersion into Advanced Squad Leader. We are in the midst of a transition from the starter kit rules to the “big boy” full rules, so we’ve gone back to simpler scenarios without vehicles or big weapons to ensure we have the core infantry rules right. It helps that we kept our momentum even while separated over the summer, playing on VASL and Skype while I was in NY. This is a total nerd out in terms of complexity and learning time, and while humbling at times we are enjoying the ride.

Reluctant Enemies – Operational Combat Series

OCS: Reluctant Enemies with Allen

Speaking of complexity, someone decided that just pushing around a bunch of cardboard counters to simulate conflicts at the operational level doesn’t quite cover the real issues that commanders would face. Those real issues are logistics, not strategy or tactics.


The tactics… no, amateurs discuss tactics. Professional soldiers study logistics. – Tom Clancy, Red Storm Rising


This is the origin of the Operational Combat Series (OCS) games, and I had my first taste this month playing the introductory level game Reluctant Enemies with new gaming buddy Allen. The game covers early WWII action between the UK (and UK Commonwealth forces) and new enemy the Vichy French in the middle east. We got about two turns into the game but I learned enough to understand the basics and have a reasonable understand of how to manage supply. We have a date for what we hope to be a full play this coming December.


Food Chain Magnate

Food Chain Magnate with Matt, Alex, and Greg

One awesome part about my regular gaming group is that there are always folks buying up the new games so I can sit back and try before buying. The latest Splotter game is Food Chain Magnate, a brilliant design both graphically and in game play. There’s a lot going on in this game: planning a few moves ahead, spatial tracking (how far is my restaurant from other houses and how do I set my prices), organizational design, just to name a few. I want to play this again.


Viticulture with KC and Ken

I picked up Viticulture and the Tuscany expansion about a year ago and really enjoy the game. In fact, I’m hoping this can become a two player game that Julie and I explore thoroughly. And when I say explore, I mean I want to play through every expansion of Tuscany!

Viticulture is a worker placement game where you send your worker dudes out each year to do wine-making activities, like planting grapes, harvesting them, turning them into wine, giving wine tours, selling wine, etc. It has a nice secret demand system over it that makes for a fun economic exercise, but it isn’t nearly as stressful as other worker placement games (I’m looking at you Agricola).


Moongha Invaders

Moongha Invaders with KC and Ken

My latest Martin Wallace / Treefrog game showed up recently, and I was a bit ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of it and didn’t expect it. Moongha Invaders is a monsters-conquer-earth game with a fun twist. Each player controls a set of monsters that they can spawn and send down to the planet, but each player also has three cities on earth that they want to preserve for their own nefarious reasons. So you are trouncing around the planet destroying cities, but also taking steps (as subtly as possible) to protect your own cities. Fun beer and pretzels game (or, in our case, whiskey).