Quick Diversion – The Thorns

I just might be one of Matthew Sweet’s greatest
fans. Odds are, you haven’t heard of him, but from the moment I first heard
Girlfriend, I was hooked. His solo career, however, has tailed off over the
past 5 years. A low point for me was seeing him live for the third time,
opening for Guided By Voices. Matthew should
never be an opening act :-)!

Well, he has a new gig: The
, a sort of joint venture
with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullin. Check out their first single, I Can’t

Weekend in Newport, OR

We spent a great weekend in Newport, OR.  Our hotel was on the beach and the weather was perfect – 60s and sunny during the day.  Friday we took the behind the scenes tour at the Oregon Coast Aquarium – I highly recommend this, especially if you’ve been there before and want to try something new.  One highlight of the trip was sampling the various brews from Rogue brewery – I highly recommend the Yellow Snow Ale and the Buckwheat Ale.  The other big highlight was seeing migrating grey whales on our whale watching cruise with Marine Discovery Tours.  Jacob and Matthew each got turns at the helm of the ship.

A morning with Advanced Squad Leader – ouch!

Ken Rude and I spent a morning last Saturday with a local gaming group that regularly plays Advanced Squad Leader and is open to newbies interested in learning the game.

I played Squad Leader, along with the two expansions Cross of Iron and Crescendo of Doom, back in the late 70s / early 80s when I was very into the Avalon Hill war games. I loved the scale of the game – squad level tactics, with counters representing single leaders, tanks, or small squads of infantry. It was (is) a complex game, but it was clearly my favorite of the AH games.

The morning was a disappointment though. The hosts were very kind, and one of the group members walked Ken and me through a simple scenario (infrantry only, a few machine guns, basic rules). There is a price you pay for the realism of this game – rules complexity that almost demands you focus on this game in absence of any others. Ken crushed me (he was the Americans, I was German) but we both walked away wishing we had spent the morning playing lighter games.

I think in the future if I want that level of realism in squad level tactics, I’ll let the computer manage the rules and just play Laser Squad Nemesis.

Session Report – A night with the Portland Gamers

Ken Rude and I traveled to Kevin’s house for our first gaming session with the Portland Gamers. Kevin is the gracious host for this group, and Jeff had gamed a few times before with Kevin.  Doug, Mimi, Ken, and I were all newcomers to the group.  Thanks to Kevin for hosting – I think everyone had a great time.

Attendees: Chris Brooks, Ken Rude, Jeff Fisher, Doug Walker, Mimi Walker, Kevin Graham

Games Played: Zendo, Dragon Delta, Fist of Dragonstones, Condottiere, Bohnanza


Played By: Chris B. Ken R. Jeff F. Doug W. Mimi W. Kevin G.

Game Length: 45 min.

We played Zendo as an opener while we awaited possible late arrivals. Nobody turned up, but we had fun teaching Doug, Mimi, and Ken this Zen game with Icehouse pieces.


Finish: Chris B. Ken R. Jeff F. Doug W. Mimi W. Kevin G.

Dragon Delta

Played By: Chris B. Ken R. Jeff F. Doug W. Mimi W. Kevin G.

Game Length: 60 min.

Chris brought this game of Chinese youths competing to lay planks to cross the delta. Everyone enjoyed this game, though we realized part way that I’ve been playing wrong: all players turn over their cards for the current round before the first player takes their action. This could certainly affect choices made when placing planks, removing planks, etc.

Winner(s): Chris B.

Fist of Dragonstones

Played By: Chris B. Ken R. Jeff F. Doug W. Mimi W. Kevin G.

Game Length: 60 min.

This is a game worth playing once, but possibly not more frequently. It has a nice theme, and interesting bits, but the blind bidding frustrates people. Poor Doug was frequently just barely on the losing end, which is most annoying. We only played to 2 victory points to cut the game short.

Winner(s): Ken R.


Played By: Chris B. Ken R. Jeff F. Doug W. Mimi W. Kevin G.

Game Length: 60 min.

Kevin introduced this game – Doug and Mimi had played before, but the rest of us haven’t. This is a much more pleasant bidding and bluffing game than Fist of Dragonstones, and one I might consider adding to my collection. There does appear to be a strong luck element in the draw.

Winner(s): Ken R.


Played By: Chris B. Ken R. Jeff F. Doug W. Mimi W. Kevin G.

Game Length: 60 min.

I requested this for a closer since I’ve heard so much about it but have never played. Definitely a light game, but I think my kids might enjoy it. One thing I like is that there is very little downtime with all of the trading going on.

Winner(s): Mimi W.

Session Report generated by GameTracker (┬ęGoldraven 2002)