Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #16

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Daddy-Daughter Tuesdays (Mice and Mystics)

If you're a frequent reader of my blog, you've probably heard me talk about Mice & Mystics and how we're playing it with our daughter. Well, this week it wasn't just a daddy-daughter game... it was a mommy-daddy-daughter game. I'm always excited to be a part of things when I can be. With summer vacation quickly approaching, I'm hoping to be able to be party of these games.

Mice and Mystics (2012)


Mice & Mystics is a wonderful dungeon crawl adventure. It features a comparatively light ruleset compared to other games of that sort and that combined with the amazing theme and adorable story makes it a great family game.  On the other hand, it requires much more patience and ability to focus than the average 7 year old has and we tend to need to redirect our daughter to settle down and pay attention during the course of a game. Her excitement is palpable, but it can also hamper a game session.  The game can also be frustrating due to the random nature of some of its elements.  Sometimes an adventure just won't go your way at all.

Still, I've played solo through the entire base game campaign and the Heart of Glorm expansion and I enjoyed it very much, but it wasn't until I started playing it with the family that I felt it really shined.


What do you like about the game?
I like that I get to be Collin and Lily and we all get to work together. I like how it tells a story. I make Lily make cheesecakes, because Lily gets alot of cake. It could be cheese pizza and then if you keep getting cheese, you can stack them and make it bigger and bigger and blahbluhblah. 

I like Lily, because she's the Archer and I like Collin because he's a close fighter and he's a prince. I like Collin with First Aid and Lily with aimed and power shot. 

Is it hard or easy to play?
Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard. When we work together, it's easier to fight guys, but when we're outnumbered it's harder and when we split up it's hard, too. 

Do you need help from daddy to play the game?

I might still need a little help, but I'm really into it. When I'm playing Collin and Lilly, it's like when I roll for Collin, I'm rolling for Lilly and when I'm rolling for Lily, I'm rolling for Collin. So yeah. Well, and the dice are a problem I have, um, cause I'm rolling the wrong people. I needed more help when I started playing, but not so much now, but if I'm playing with other kids there are things I'd probably forget.

I needed help rolling, one time, because I was just dropping the dice instead of rolling them. I sometimes need help choosing my skills and having them explained to me. Like, this'll be good and that'll be good. 

Is there anything about the game that you don't like?

Sometimes it takes us a really long time and sometimes we get outnumbered, which I get angry about. I don't like being outnumbered. 

Do you think other kids would like the game? Why?

Of course, cause teamwork is always good and its nice to spend time with others in games. There's little figures and we get our own little characters and on the cards it tells their stories. Mommy gives us cheese when we play it. (I don't think I'll be giving all kids cheese when they play it.)

If someone asked you if they should buy this game what would you say? Why?

Of course, again, cause it's suuuuppppeeer fuuuuun. (Gives me a duh look!) The same reasons for everything I already said!

Will you play it again?

YES! And that's cool... you're keyboard glows. I like your keyboard, it can glow.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Happy Geek Pride Day 2018

I love celebrating Geek Pride Day and since things are really looking up for me, I was able to find joy in this celebration.

For my Geek Pride Day today, I posted this picture on my SmartBoard:

I made sure I wore my new TeePublic Tabletop shirt!

I brought my Avengers Towel (double getting all in one) I took my obligatory selfie (see towel in the background).

I wrote an e-mail to my coworkers about Geek Pride Day (and included Wil Wheaton's video). It was only responded to by the hardcore geeks.

Then, of course, I had to talk about the towel to my kids. Goodness knows I needed it today. We don't have AC at our school and being in the 100-year-old part of the school, on the third floor, and the unblocked windows of the rising sun, will make you sweat so bad.

I, of course, did all my geeky little things that I would normally do and I ended my evening with a Geek Pride meal of a Bob's Burger's recipe for "One Horse Open Slaw Burger." We couldn't do the bun, though, because of our whole Keto thing. But boy was it yummy.

We wanted to do so many more geeky things, but the heat from being up at school really did me in. But I did get to do something geeky with my Literacy classes. Our tabletop game unit in Literacy has wrapped up, so we decided to geek it up with playing some games. We book the Maker's Space (which has AC) and shared in everyone's games! While not perfect, we were still able to have fun.

If you're like to know more about these games, please check out my students' BoardGameGeek list and give them some thumbs up and/or feedback!

No games at home, though, due to severe exhaustion from the day.  Nevertheless.... Happy Geek Pride Day!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #15

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Daddy-Daughter Tuesdays (Rattlebones)

Every Tuesday my husband and daughter play a game together. Sometimes it's the same game, but more often than not it's a new game. I love that they have this special tradition together, so I wanted to be able to share it. I've started asking my husband to take a picture of my daughter with the game and then I'm hoping to have them share something about the game after they play.

My daughter is 7-years-old and has been raised in a gaming home. My husband and her have been doing this for quite a few years now and my daughter even loves teaching these games to other people.

So here is entry #1: Rattlebones!  We'll see how it goes!

Rattlebones (2014)


Rattlebones is an incredibly luck-filled game. However, it creates the illusion of being more than that by offering the players interesting choices (which dice to roll, which pawn to move) on their turn.  Combined with the silly theme, easy rules, short playtime and the novelty of the dice-building mechanic I think it's a great game to play with kids and as a family.

After the first couple turns, where I told Isabelle the importance of getting some "re-roll" actions or gold on her main die, I was mostly able to let her play the game on her own and make her own choices. I had to remind her that whichever die she used to move had to be the die that got the new face, but other than that she grasped the rules very easily. Even the iconography created little difficulty in her comprehension of the game. She won fair and square thanks to some frequent rolling of Stars!


What did you like about the game?
Rattlebones is a fun game, because you're playing against each other and there's all types of, like, little things to put in dice. I liked that I was the first one to win. Different tokens did different things and they were really cool.

Was it hard or easy to play?
It was kinda hard, kinda easy. Easy cause I got a bunch of tokens on my dice and I got a ton of stars and as I sold them I moved up a bunch for points. It was hard, because daddy was catching up to you. He was almost on my tail! But I kept moving Rattlebones, Rattlebones made it to me!

Did you need help from daddy to play the game?
Just for turn. He helped me choose my token.

Was there anything about the game that you didn't like?
I don't think I didn't like anything. I pretty much liked the game.

Do you think other kids would like the game? Why?
Yes, because they'd probably like how you get to change the tokens in the dice and, um, the little bunnies that show you your points. You know, little bunnies... hop, hop, hop, hop.

If someone asked you if they should buy this game what would you say? Why?
Of course! It's super fun!

Would you play it again?
Yes I would play it again! I also love the choochoo train. TOOT TOOT!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Our Last Tween Lock-In

Well... it's not the absolute last. It's just the last of this school year, but I figured the title might have become a bit obnoxious in length if I put in all the additional information.

The best laid plans of teachers and students often go astray. I sent home the letter of intent in January with all the dates we booked the library at our school for. I said I can change any of the dates if I have advanced notice, especially if many of the students could not attend. I put the date on the board in my room under club announcements poster. I remind the kids weekly about the dates.

What happens is... you have 6 kids out of 13 attend. My heart broke, especially since the previous lock-in was canceled since I doubled over in pain. I hemmed and hawed over canceling and rescheduling, but even looking ahead to various weekends, it was very clear to me that there weren't other weekends to make this happen. So I did not cancel it.

I never made a better decision. I also managed my exhaustion with much coffee and Rock Star. We also made sure our drinks were in red Solo cups, because the Solo movie is promoting Solo cups. Then we all labeled them with Star Wars names, except for one, because he apparently wasn't listening.

We always start our evening with our dinner, which gives the kids time to settle in and get comfortable. Then it was time to get serious and get going. Well... after we made some pickle jokes and it lasted all evening.

Jonathan Mariucci donated a copy of Hexplore It to our club, so a group of four boys immediately broke off from the group, which left me with the two eigth graders who showed up. I was totally fine with this and the results was that I played more games that I ever had before and the laughter and jokes were so much fun!

At around 7PM, one of my student's aunts brought us custard from a popular place in Oshkosh and the kids dug in! I stored the rest.

Someone put a pickle in their custard.
We essentially stayed in our groups for the whole night. At 9:30 I got a text from one of our volunteer-approved friends and he popped in with some extra games and stayed until around 1AM.  It was the best way to end the year of lock-ins for me, but I also cried, because... it was the last one and, especially, the last one with my 8th graders. I reflected on how far they'd come as gamers and their growth made me proud.

So here was our line-up for the evening, not including the break-off group that played Hexplore It and one or two silly party games... oh... and Sheriff of Nottingham... so...

Guillotine (I won)

Legends of Andor (We completed the note mission!)

Star Trek: Five-Year Mission (Won by the skin of our teeth)

Marvel Legendary (Lost, but my 8th grade girl student won in points)

Azul (My husband won and the game freaked out my 8th grade boy)

Custom Heroes (I finally avenge my loss from the previous play, which ended up being due to a misunderstanding of the win condition. MWAHAHAHA!)

Article 27 (The kids still love this game, but I, sadly, became the bitter player because no one was doing what I asked and kept rejecting my requests. So I kept being the veto jerk.)

After I went to sleep, the horror of the caffeine overload finally taking me out.


Super Motherload

When I awoke, the boys had already cleaned up the media center. I was shocked! We finished cleaning up and there was so much time before pick-up that my husband actually broke out one more game! Oh... my... goodness... A morning game! This has never happened!

Why First?

This really was the way to go and it was a good final sendoff for the year.

Friday, May 18, 2018

From a Certain Point of View #5: "Reirin"

"Reirin" by Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir is best known for her fantasy work An Ember in the Ashes series. This short story is narrated by Carol Monda who is an award-winning voice actor.

Reirin is a Tusken Raider who needs to complete a mission by sneaking onto a sandcrawler and retrieve something from the Jawas' staff of junk. Reirin is written in the style of an internal monologue where she runs through her own battle of her position as a Tusken. She even gets to a point where she connects more with the item that she finds than she does with her own bantha. Reirin keeps pushing forward, though, continuing on her mission.

I really enjoyed this particular story, because it put me in the mind of a Tusken Raider. I loved the additive and the understanding. I also liked her chastisement of the farmer buying the droids. There are races in Star Wars that I don't know a whole lot about, so this particular story had the flavor and the personality that kept me interested.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

From a Certain Point of View #4: "Stories in the Sand"

"Stories in the Sand" by Griffin McElroy

"Stories in the Sand" is written by Griffin McElroy who runs a weekly comedy advice podcast called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. It appears the show was picked up to be turned into an actual television show and has had some pretty renowned guests on it.  Jonathan Davis, our narrator, is a frequent narrator for many, many, many Star Wars books. As I looked for more on him, frontman for Korn kept showing up. Do not be mislead. Jonathan Davis is an award winning narrator without dreads. Check out his body of work on Audible.

Now... on to the story that I absolutely fell in love with. A little Jawa named Jot finds a droid from a downed bounty hunter ship and on it are videos on it's memory core from the hunter's travels. Jot becomes obsessed with the data videos he deals sees from the droid and watches them relentlessly, memorizing the beautiful world beyond Tatooine. Sadly, he has to erase the videos after watching, because it's part of his job repurposing junk for sale. His obsession, though, falls on every memory core he can find and he would sit for hours on end watching the beautiful images caught on the cores.

What I loved the most was the very WALL-E-esque nature of it - this type of fantasy world of escape that you can never have. Sadly, once you realize he is on the sandcrawler that also finds R2-D2, it leaves you just a little more heartbroken for poor Jot.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

From a Certain Point of View #3: "The Sith of Datawork"

"The Sith of Datawork" by Ken Liu

"The Sith of Datawork" is by Ken Liu who is most notable for Science Fiction novel The Three-Body Problem. A compelling work that I highly recommend picking up. His style is predominately found in short story form, but as far as the Star Wars Universe goes, he is working on one of the junior series. His is The Legends of Luke Skywalker. As our narrator, we have another Star Wars Audiobook Narrator veteran, January LaVoy. I really enjoyed the cocky-attitude she brought to the main character. It probably emphasized and jazzes up the absurdities of the Imperial Navy.

This was the first story that I struggled putting into place in the greater canon of the universe. The point it serves, though, is that even the Empire has people that are just people. It gives them a face to understand and relate to. It is essentially a political vehicle full of forms and filings and massively absurd chains of command. "The Sith of Datawork" takes an expect dataworker and shows just how adept at her job she really is. Why wasn't the escape pod shot at? Well, here is the long list of reasons why it wasn't.

"The Sith of Datawork" is a cute addition and offers a bit more comedy to break up the darkness of the first two stories.

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #14

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

From a Certain Point of View #2: "The Bucket"

"The Bucket" by Christie Golden

"The Bucket" is written by Christie Golden. She is a Science Fiction author and wrote the Fate of the Jedi series. Marc Thompson is the narrator and while he has done numerous book narrations for Star Wars and others, he was also the narrator for the Fate of the Jedi series.

At first glance you might think the story is going to be about a droid, like R2D2 or something like that. It isn't. It is about a StormTrooper fresh out of the Academy who is part of the group invading the Tantive IV, or, more specifically, part of Vader's Fist.

TK-4601 (also known as Tarvyn Lareka) takes us through his youthful admiration of being part of the Empire and, specifically, Vader himself. He is essentially a kid who is beyond starstruck with his own luck being assigned for such a prestigious position: boarding a Rebel ship with Vader himself. Right away the story shows his own shock of being in battle when TK-4601 describes the death of Captain Antilles. It makes you cringe, but feels reminiscent of stories you hear from WWI or WWII when young soldiers first enter battle and little events introduce you to the gruesomeness of war.

As the story goes on, TK-4601 is the one who finds Leia and having engaged with her in a personal way, he realizes that he only feels comfortable fighting the "faceless" enemy. He requests a transfer from escorting her to Vader. The raw reflection of this trooper continues to initiate a meaningful perspective, adding to this memorable scene that, so early, captures all of our attention in the first film.

"The Bucket" is another story that I enjoyed and, as I read, I continued to expect the level of stories that "Raymus" and "The Bucket" had to offer. Like at this point in the movie itself... I was hooked!

Monday, May 14, 2018

From a Certain Point of View #1: "Raymus"

"Raymus" by Gary Whitta

"Raymus" is written by Gary Whitta. Whitta wrote the first draft of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He is also responsible for several Star Wars Rebels episodes.

"Raymus" is read by Jonathan Davis. Davis is a popular audiobook narrator. He has narrated over twenty-five audio recordings for Lucas Film Ltd. and Random House Audio, including Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. My husband knows him best from Max Payne.

"Raymus" is the story of Captain Raymus Antilles aboard the Tantive IV right after they have received the transmission of the Battle Star plans from Scarif. It follows the timeline from the escape to the boarding of the ship to the clasping of Vader's hands around his neck.

What I loved about the story was seeing Antilles story and learning about details that hadn't been there before. The story itself is heart-wrenching and shows his true dedication to Alderaan, the Rebellion, and, most of all, Princess Leia. The letters he writes to his family makes his final moments even sadder, especially wondering if his family will ever see them. The best part about all of this, though, is really filling in gaps to scenes that are so ingrained in our memory that it breathes new life into the past.

"Raymus" is a great start and a story that truly captures a "certain point of view."

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View - Reflections Introduction

I immediately bought Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View and I was so excited to read it! I opened it and started glancing at and skimming a few of the stories, but as life always has it, I put it down and took up other things.

Despite being a Literacy teacher, I've haven't been picking up books a great deal for about the last 2 years. I've been going through a great deal of personal stuff and I found I was being more drawn to my writing than picking up 2-3 books at a time to consume. That doesn't mean I wasn't reading at all. I mean, HELLO, Lit teacher. Read alouds and reading student work and reading academic texts and all sorts of things. Finally, though, I decided it was time to stop listening to the emo music and put on my audiobooks.

I love full immersion reading: seeing and hearing the book. I almost always buy the audiobook as well as either a physical copy or an ebook copy. I always have a book for the car that I put on everyday and at this particular point, I chose to finally start From a Certain Point of View.

The audiobook is read by a full cast with sound effects and background music. Honestly, it makes the book that much more amazing. I am so glad I chose to read it as an audiobook.

After each story I would tell my husband what I liked or didn't like about it and it dawned on me that I could do little mini reviews of each of the stories after I read them. So I'll be doing From a Certain Point of View Short Story Reflections for all 40 stories.

I'm really looking forward to this and I hope it is at least somewhat entertaining.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

It's Hard Out There for a Club

I've written extensively about my Tabletop Game Club. I have had my ups and down with the club. I started out passionate about it, lost some desire based on problems that were arising with students, and then was able to finally find my way again. Through all of this, we are still here and growing. And my proudest moment is announcing... this was our 5th year of running the club.

The work that has gone into creating what it is now is beyond what I can even explain. But after looking over our finances and how much I spend between club and my own classroom and, well, the volunteer hours, I decided it is time to finally beg the world to help me continue to run a club that isn't JUST a place for kids to sit and play games - it is a place that creates a family, contributing members of a larger community, and a safe space to you-do-you.

Minimum we spend about $300 on our club a year. We buy games for the kids, treats, snacks, host events and other things. We try to have perks for the club that make the kids feel special, like earning a membership pin each year that they're a member. We don't only participate in local conventions volunteering to run the family and kid areas, but we also have lock-ins and have hosted International Tabletop Day at our school. Our fundraising options are limited, so I'm swallowing my pride and reaching out to the greater geekisphere of gamers and asking for help.

Here is a link to my GoFundMe page. Please consider donating. Every little bit helps. All the information about our club, what we do, and what the funds will go to is already listed on the page. Please consider helping and spread the word. These kids truly do deserve a place that can call their own.