No, I haven't been kidnapped by Haitian terrorists.
This is just one of those times of year that can make finding time--any time--rather difficult.
It doesn't help when, on Christmas night, you're in the office/playroom and see water marks by the closet door. Oh, you know, the closet with the water heater in it. No big deal, right? Except for wet walls and carpet...ugh.
I was very fortunate in that there were no major casualties except one--one of my giant CCG boxes got soaked through. It was the bottom box and thus the least important, but it got it GOOD. What does this mean? I had to bid goodbye to the following CCGs:
-Jyhad (yes, all seven Jyhad decks were in this box)
-Rage (my three power Rage decks? Gone)
-Star Wars TCG (This was actually doing me a favor...)
And some other odds and ends.
This kind of ties in with my philosophy on Christmas this year. I just didn't want very much stuff at all this year. I'm so buried in shit to do as it is, it felt wrong asking for more to pile on. And these CCGs hadn't been played in YEARS. Even Jyhad--one of my all time favorites--had been gathering dust for quite some time. Honestly, none of my friends wanted to play Jyhad with me anymore because my decks were all "The Nasty." They had even dared me to make a Toreador deck that worked and I cooked up a nearly unbeatable Masika/Talbot's Chainsaw deck that would get in combat with vampires and TOAST them completely in one round.
But I digress. Tossing soaked cards out sucks, but it really made little difference in the final analysis. Thankfully the CCGs I still care about and have played within the past two years were OK--including Raw Deal, Star Wars CCG, and Lord of the Rings.
All I got for Christmas--all that I asked for--was Guitar Hero World Tour, The Dark Knight DVD, and Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game. My youngest brother also surprised me by giving me his copy of Guitar Hero III and wireless guitar for the Wii. Okay, so that's where I have to confess that while that's all *I* got, our sons got a Wii from Santa. Yes, I realize that this is somewhat like cheating. They also got a mess load of games, including one that has barely left the Wii since we got it--Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
They should just call it "Nintendo Fanservice: The Game." You want to talk packing a game full, I don't think I've seen one this full of stuff to do in quite some time. A story mode, event mode challenges, a billion ways to brawl, a stage editor to make your own level (to go with the 35+ levels already in the game) and all sorts of junk to collect...incredible.
Guitar Hero: World Tour is also pretty frickin' incredible. They've adopted a "gig" system sort of like Rock Bands where you can play through the game in a pseudo non-linear fashion. What's great about the game is that even the songs I wasn't really looking forward to playing are actually fun to play. I mean, I'd rather gouge my eyes out than entertain the prospect of a Blink-182 reunion tour, but their song is enjoyable to play. Who knew?
My brother got Rock Band 2 for his 360 and it's also fun, so either way you go you're going to have fun. And what I've found is that by playing the songs you actually get to know them better...hear little guitar and musical ticks you never noticed...it's pretty cool, actually.
Only squeezed in one game day this break, but it was a good one--two games of Battlestar Galactica with five. I'll talk more about BSG in my "2008 in review" column that will go up in early January, but man I gotta say that BSG is one of the few games this year that did not disappoint me. It's a game that has pretty much everything in gaming that I like--variable player powers, a hidden traitor mechanic, space combat, card play, backstabbing and paranoia, it's just a hodgepodge of everything that's good and (in)decent about gaming. It's definitely on my shortlist of "game of the year" candidates in a year that was unfortunately filled with mostly disappointment after disappointment....but again, more on that in my year in review column that's yet to come.
My brother and I also set up Hannibal: Rome versus Carthage after everyone had gone, and we played through a turn just to get a handle on the game. We were sort of staggering through getting the hang of it but it's easy to see the game is likely going to be a GOOD one. I got a unpunched copy of the AH version in trade this year and debated whether I should punch it or not...until the gamer in me pimp-slapped the collector side HARD and I dutifully sleeved and punched everything.
Speaking of gaming, my brother and I are a lock for Atlanta Gamefest on January 9th and 10th. We might make it too late to attend on the 9th but we'll definitely be there all day of the 10th. I think we've agreed to take Hannibal with us to play late Friday and wait until the next morning to go to Gamefest. Either Hannibal or Twilight Struggle. Everything I want to play these days seems to be card-driven, and that's okay with me.
Anyway, we're looking at the direction of F:AT over the next year. The first year was all about just getting the blog going, the second year was all about the website, and now we've got the website (with more bangs and whistles than I'd ever dreamed) and an established readership that we are always looking to grow. In that regard, we'll probably be fishing for feedback soon about some ideas we have, and even allow you to give us a report card grade for the past year--what's worked for you, what you've enjoyed, what you'd like to see more of, what things you could do without. I'd love nothing better for us to double our registered membership. As we've grown and continue to get more of a "professional website" feel, we'll need you guys (and gals) more than ever to keep us straight and continue to improve the site.
I think from a technical side we're pretty solid--user profiles, recommendation/ranking system, forums, member blogs, regular front page updates, a much-improved user submission system, and more. It's now more about solidifying the direction of the site in terms of content...how much boardgaming content, how much pop culture content, moving forward with cementing our regular features (news, photos, comics, reviews)...
2008 was all about "How." Hopefully, in 2009 we can focus more on "Why."
Anyway...that's where I've been, what's going on with my world, and a peek at some stuff that's to come. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and that everybody has a supremely awesome New Year. Thanks for 2008, and I'll see you guys again in 2009.