Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Phantom of the Opera

On Tuesday evening my wife and I went out to a restaurant and then on to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Lyric Theatre here in Brisbane. I could count on one hand the number of times we've had the opportunity to enjoy a night by ourselves since we've had children so this was a real treat.

We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it was such a pleasure to see (and hear!) the great Anthony Warlow in the title role (we'd previously seen him several years ago in the role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady). He received a standing ovation from the audience at the end. What a great show! Highly recommended!

From the Lyric Theatre site:

Celebrated as the world’s most popular musical of all time, The Phantom of the Opera is returning to QPAC with a spectacular production featuring the country’s original phantom and a local leading lady. In a rare treat for Queensland audiences, Australia’s first Phantom, the extraordinary Anthony Warlow, will perform the lead role for the first time in Brisbane.

The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius known only as ‘The Phantom’ who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House. Mesmerised by the talents and beauty of a young soprano - Christine, the Phantom lures her as his protégé and falls fiercely in love with her. Unaware of Christine’s love for Raoul, The Phantom’s obsession sets the scene for a dramatic turn of events where jealously, madness and passions collide.

With spectacular sets and more than 230 costumes by international designer, the late Maria Björnson, The Phantom of the Opera contains some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most famous music, including The Phantom of the Opera and Music of the Night.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is based upon the novel Le Fantome De L’Opera by Gaston Leroux.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 52

Another Saturday morning visit from my mother (AKA Grandma to our kids). They had predicted it was going to be a hot* day today so I'd reminded her to bring her togs. On a side note, togs are what we colloquially refer to swimwear or swimming costumes here in the state of Queensland. Interestingly enough, swimwear is called by different names in the other states of Australia. I did a quick search on the Internet for the word 'togs' and it appears to come from an 18th century English term for a coat and especially in reference to clothing as in "a set of clothes and accessories for a specified use" (i.e. riding togs). So it's not hard to imagine someone in the early days saying 'swimming togs' to refer to swimwear.

Anyway, my wife was working this morning so it was just Grandma, Maddie (6), Georgia (2) and myself. As it was already heating up we decided to all go for a swim in the pool at 9.30. This is only Georgia's second season of being in the pool and it's great to see her confidence growing. Maddie has now mastered opening her eyes underwater and can swim to the bottom of the pool with ease. After splashing about for about an hour or so we decided to head back upstairs before the sun became too hot.

After a short morning tea, Maddie and Grandma played Guess Who while I tried to put Georgia down for a nap. When Georgia finally fell asleep I went in search of a game to play. I'd been wanting to get Loopin' Louie on the table for a long time. In Loopin' Louie
a battery-powered motor is placed in the centre of the table and this rotates a boom with a little plastic plane (Loopin' Louie). Four radial arms lead out to the players' barns on top of which are the chicken tokens they're trying to protect. Each player's barn has a little lever, which is used to knock the rotating plane away from your chicken tokens and hopefully into someone else's. When only one player has chicken tokens remaining on their barn they win the game.

Over the last couple of years I've been able to pick up two copies of the 1992 version fairly cheap at garage sales. One of them had had a battery left in it and the unit was all corroded. There were missing parts in both copies but between the two of them I was able to cobble together a complete game. Unfortunately, I'm still missing 1 chicken token which makes 4 player games difficult.

The original version of Loopin' Louie

Last year I noticed on the shelves of local stores that Hasbro had re-released the game. This was the 2005 edition which was slightly smaller in size than the original edition. I decided to buy it because at only $17 I thought it would be worth it. So today I finally got it to the table.

Three players doesn't do this game justice. I believe that this game shines when all four players are playing. There is certainly an art to this dexterity game. Knowing when to hit your lever as Louie flies around is vitally important. The other thing is getting a feel for how much force to apply to the lever. Hit too hard and you may dislodge one of your own chickens, hit too soft and you may not push Louie high enough to clear your chickens.

We played a couple of games of the new version and it was OK. However I seemed to remember having more fun with the original version when I'd demoed it to my wife a few years back. So I broke out the original version and we played another eight games of that. I felt the larger size, with the larger levers and the increased counterweight on the Loopin' Louie stand, as well as the increased speed with the larger battery, made the game much more fun. Grandma and Maddie also agreed that the older version was more fun.

* Oh, by the way, it did turn out to be a hot day. Brisbane reached 40 degrees Celsius (that's 104 degrees Farenheit), which was 10 above average, our hottest day in 4 years and our 15th hottest day in 105 years of records.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's Alive! Contest Result

The It's Alive! competition to win a free copy of the game has closed. I didn't win but congratulations to the winner, BGG User Boneroller (Ken F), who submitted the following joke to the geeklist.

After paying an arm and a leg for the last body part needed for his ungodly creation, the alchemist uttered the necessary incantation binding flesh and bone together with the fusing power of gold particulates. When he was finished his assistant asked what the alchemist would name his creation.

The alchemist thought a moment and finally said, "When I need his attention, I'll just say, AU."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's Alive!

It's Alive! is a boardgame designed by Yehuda Berlinger and published in 2007 by Jackson (Jack) Pope of Reiver Games. It's Alive! is actually a re-themed version of Yehuda's previously designed The Menorah Game (2005).

The front of the box (image from BoardGameGeek)

Here is a description of It's Alive! from BoardGameGeek:

It is the turn of the nineteenth century, and mad scientists throughout Europe are competing for the infamy of being the first to create life through the power of alchemy. Using only the raw materials provided by some dubious 'Suppliers to the Anatomical Trade', harnessed lightning and the services of a motley crew of unattractive servants you race to collect the eight body parts needed to create your monster and bring it to life. Unfortunately the local peasants are particularly clumsy and tend to die in freak farming accidents so the dubious gentlemen rarely find a whole cadaver in sufficiently good condition. Instead they offer the parts they have managed to salvage. Each turn you may buy the offered part, sell it to an anatomist for a meagre profit, or auction it trying to get a better deal or rip off your opponents. You might be lucky and get a coffin with a weakling clerk's cadaver in it, which can be used in lieu of any strapping villager's body part, or your involvement in the macabre trade might invoke the villagers' wrath.

For over a year now I've been subscribed to both Yehuda's gaming blog and the Board Games - Creation And Play blog of which Jack is one of the main contributors. It's been fascinating reading about Jack's virtually one-man publishing company and his labour of love in creating and publishing games (which I'm sure is something most gamers (including myself) would love to do!).

The back of the box (image from BoardGameGeek)

To date Reiver Games has published Border Reivers (2006) and It's Alive! (2007) and Jack is currently working on another game called Jorvik which will be a 2-player card game about the building of York in North-East England during Roman and Viking times.

It's Alive! cards - Mmm...deliciously gruesome! (image from BoardGameGeek)

I recently noticed a blog entry on the Board Games - Creation And Play blog that Jack at Reiver Games was offering a free copy of It's Alive! in a competition he was running on a geeklist at BoardGameGeek. The game will go to the person who adds the best It's Alive!-themed joke to the Geeklist.

I've always been interested in this game so I decided to enter the competition. Instead of searching Google for other people's jokes about mad scientists, Frankenstein or grave robbers, I made the decision to make up my own original It's Alive!-themed joke.

Here is my competition entry:

Devastated (and somewhat mentally unhinged) from failing to win a free copy of ‘It’s Alive!’, BGG User Ozvortex decides to make his own copy of the game…

"A shovel is the only tool I'll need to collect the components (i.e. body parts) for my home-made version of It's Alive!" [cue evil mad scientist laugh] - Ozvortex

It would be really cool to win a copy of this limited-edition game to play with my family. I also know some local BGG members, game groups and clubs here in Brisbane Australia who would be dying [haha!] to play this game.

Just on the topic of mad scientists making dead bodies come to life, watch this clip from YouTube of the 1931 movie Frankenstein where Dr Frankenstein (Colin Clive) exclaims the famous line "It's alive!" when he successfully brings his monster (Boris Karloff) to life. A classic piece of cinema which after watching really whets my appetite to play It's Alive! So fingers crossed! I'll update my blog with the results of the competition when it ends.

Gaming With Grandma - 51

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my daughter (AKA Maddie) and my mother (AKA Grandma). Today we played RoboRally which is probably one of the first boardgames I'd ever purchased. I have the first edition Wizards of the Coast version which was published in 1994.

RoboRally is a game in which players control robots attempting to negotiate a factory floor maze of walls, conveyor belts, laser beams and pits to try to be the first to tag all of the checkpoint flags. The thing is that you must tag the flags in order which may mean you have to cross back and forth across one or more boards.

We played with the one board (the 'Cross'), with 4 flags and with each player having 5 lives.

The deadly 'Cross' board on around turn 9

Turn 1: Maddie falls into a pit. Grandma gets taken off the board by a conveyor belt. They both lose one life. I get within one space of Flag 1.

Turn 2: Maddie and Grandma both decide to come back 'powered down' on the starting space which means they miss the turn but don't play with two damage points. I touch Flag 1 and get within three spaces of Flag 2.

Turn 3: Maddie moves off the edge of the board and loses another life. Grandma moves along conveyor belts towards Flag 1. I touch Flag 2 and proceed towards Flag 3.

Turn 4: Maddie starts again on the starting space. She decides to return to the game immediately with her robot carrying two points worth of damage. Grandma falls into a pit and loses another life. I move into the part of the board which holds Flag 4. I must cross this area to get to Flag 3.

Turn 5: Maddie again moves off the edge of the board and loses another life. Grandma comes back at the starting space and rather than missing a turn 'powered down' moves towards Flag 1 with two damage points. I make my way towards Flag 3.

Turn 6: Maddie comes back again on the starting space. She decides to play immediately with the 2 damage points. Grandma gets closer to Flag 1. I get closer to Flag 3. Maddie's robot shoots Grandma's robot for one point of damage which Grandma immediately heals due to being on a 1-spanner square.

Turn 7: Maddie spins in place. Grandma is now only one space from Flag 1. I am only two spaces from Flag 3 but due to a poor selection of movement cards I end up headbutting a wall for all 5 register phases.

Turn 8: Maddie keep spinning. I can tell she isn't really enjoying this game. Grandma is very close to Flag 1 but just can't quite get there. I touch Flag 3 and make my way towards Flag 4 via the potentially dangerous conveyor belts in the centre of the board.

Turn 9: Maddie bangs back and forth between two walls. Grandma makes a mistake and moves off the edge of the board losing another life. I move onto the conveyor belt and am taken around the edge of the centre pit.

Turn 10: Maddie moves off the edge of the board losing another life. Grandma comes back onto the starting space with the two damage points. Due to a poor hand of movement cards she bangs into a wall for the entire turn. I end up only 1 space from Flag 4.

Turn 11: Maddie comes back on to the starting space and plays immediately with the two damage points. At the end of her moves she has moved further away from Flag 1. Grandma somehow manages to move off the edge of the board again losing another life. I touch Flag 4 and my robot spends four register phases spinning in place doing a victory dance.

Final scores were me 1st with 5 lives left and no damage, Grandma 2nd with 2 lives left and 2 damage, and Maddie 3rd with 2 lives left and 4 damage. I was the only one to tag all four flags. Neither Grandma or Maddie were able to even tag the first flag.

I've only played this game once in the last 10 years or so and it was so much fun playing it again today. Grandma said she enjoyed it and that it 'really made her brain think'. Maddie said it was 'boring'.

I would say that Maddie at only 6.5 years old is probably a little too young for this game. One must have a good ability to visualise in your mind objects moving and turning in all directions. I know that this game can sometimes be difficult for new players to get their heads around. I hope we can play it again soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

First off, I must say I hate the commercialised nature of Valentine's Day. Having said that, I did buy my wife a bunch of red roses. However, I bought them for her two days ago on February 12th just to surprise her!

I thought I'd share something interesting. mX is a free newspaper that I pick up every afternoon to read on the train on my way home from work.

Today, something odd struck me about this issue. It smelled - of roses!

This is what it says in the circle on the front of the paper:

'STOP TO PICK ME UP AND SMELL THE ROSES. It's the day that sets hearts fluttering and wallets spluttering. So mX has a free romantic gift for you. No, it's not your imagination, today's newspaper DOES smell like a bunch of roses. mX is the first newspaper in Australia to use scented ink for a special edition, and what better day, or way, than filling the air with the scent of love. So guys (or gals) if you haven't had time, or have blown the budget, take this newspaper to your beloved - it's as close to the real thing you can get. Happy Valentine's Day.'

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Redback Spider

The redback spider is a potentially dangerous spider native to Australia. Here are a couple of photos I took of one which we found underneath our letterbox. It is an adult female with a body roughly the size of a pea. As you can see it is protecting three large egg sacs.

The redback spider is a member of the widow family of spiders. It is one of the most dangerous spiders in Australia having a neurotoxic venom which is toxic to humans with bites causing severe pain. There is an antivenom for redback bites commercially available and it is interesting to note that there have been no deaths reported since the antivenom was introduced in 1956.

Redback spiders are found all around Australia. They are often found close to human residences. Every summer we find them in our garage and near fences.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 50

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma), my six year old daughter Maddie, and myself. Today we played Dungeonquest.

Dare you face the Dragon's challenge?

From the blurb on the back of the box:

The eerie ruins of Dragonfire Castle, atop the sinister peak of Wyrm's Crag were abandoned long ago. Memories of the vile deeds of the Wizard T'Siramen have faded like a half-remembered nightmare. But far beneath the Castle's shattered stones, nameless horrors still prowl the gloomy dungeons, while a terrifying shadow stirs in sleep...

Riches, fame and glory await the hero who overcomes the dungeon's monstrous inhabitants and finds the Dragon's fabled hoard. But beware the setting of the sun! If nightfall finds you still within the dungeon's maze, there is no escape - save death!

Maddie chose Sir Rohan, I chose Ulv Grimhand and Grandma chose Volrik The Brave. Maddie took the Ring of Blinding, I took the Ring of Warning and Grandma took the Ring of Opening.

The three adventurers who entered the dungeon. Did any escape with treasure, let alone their lives?

Turn 1:

Each of us entered the dungeon alone via one of the corner towers. Coincidentally, as each of us entered our first room a heavy iron portcullis slammed down behind us, barring our exit. This was an ominous sign. Luckily, each of us found our rooms were empty.

Turn 2:

Sir Rohan - Maddie entered her next room to find a beautiful necklace worth 30 gold pieces (GP). She quickly placed the jewellery in her leather pouch and continued on.

Ulv Grimhand - The room I entered had a foul stench. I soon discovered the corpse of some poor soul who had come before me but had died after only reaching the second room. I had heard tales of the dangers of Dragonfire Castle and this dead adventurer was evidence those tales were true. I searched his body but found nothing.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma entered her next room to find it empty.

Turn 3:

Sir Rohan - Maddie 's next room was a crypt. [After we explained to her what a crypt was she said "I hope I don't get attacked by a zombie!". Ahh, only 6.5 years old and she already has a healthy fear of zombies - how sweet.] Greed, however, overcame fear. After searching through the dried bones within the stone sarcophagus Maddie came away with a pile of golden guineas worth 50GP.

Ulv Grimhand - The room I entered had a deep chasm running across the floor which cut access to the passage on the other side. As I was trying to figure out how to get across a Death Warrior jumped out of the shadows. A sneak attack! [Damage = 1d12 - Luck. I rolled a 5 and subtracted my Luck score of 5.] Luckily, I was able to dodge at the last second and his blade glanced off my armour. Even though he appeared formidable [5 Life Points (LP)] I chose to attack him. It was a hard-fought battle. I did finally overcome him but not before suffering some wounds [4LP] myself.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma entered her next room to find a Mountain Troll [3LP] guarding the exits. She decided to wait and see what the Troll would do. Doing what Trolls do it rushed towards her swinging it's club. The battle was fierce. At the end Grandma was the last one standing although she was sorely [6LP] wounded.

Turn 4:

Sir Rohan - As Maddie entered her next room another heavy iron portcullis slammed down behind her. The crash must have loosened the ceiling because before she knew it there was a cave-in! [1 in 6 chance of instant death. Maddie managed to evade this but then had to roll 1d6 damage. She rolled a 3] She barely made it across the room to the next passage.

Ulv Grimhand - I had to backtrack away from the chasm room to a previous room. The room I entered from there was a dead end and appeared empty. Empty until I felt a blade cut across my back. A sneak attack from an Orc! [Damage = 1d12 - Luck. I rolled an 8 and subtracted my Luck score of 5 which meant I took 3LP of damage] I decided to try to escape but as I turned to run he slashed at me [1d6 - 2 damage. I rolled a 2 which meant I took no damage] Realising I had nowhere to go I turned around to face the Orc and attacked him. Although he appeared weak [2LP] he fought like a demon and I was sorely wounded [3LP] before my axe found his throat.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma entered her next room to find another heavy iron portcullis slam down behind her. As she made her way across the room a trapdoor suddenly opened at her feet. [To escape roll Agility or less on 1d12. Her Agility was 7 and she rolled a 3] With the nimbleness of a cat she evaded the trapdoor.

Turn 5:

Sir Rohan - As Maddie entered her next room she set off a trap which filled the room with poisonous gas! [Damage = 1d6 - 3. She rolled a 4 and took 1 LP of damage. Also miss 1d6 - 3 turns. She again rolled a 4 which meant she would miss the next turn]

Ulv Grimhand - As my room had no apparent exits, and as I did not wish to have to backtrack again, I decided to search the room in the hope that I would find a secret door. My search was successful and I found a hidden door leading in the direction of the heart of the dungeon. It is rumoured that the Dragon has a hoard of wondrous treasure in the centre of the dungeon. The secret door led to another empty room with no exits. [D'oh!]

Volrik The Brave - Grandma entered her next room to find the ceiling about to collapse. In the middle of the room stood a Champion of Chaos. Grandma decided to escape back to the room she'd just come from. The Champion of Chaos let her flee.

Turn 6:

Sir Rohan - Maddie spent this turn coughing, choking and floundering around the room as the poisonous gas dissipated.

Ulv Grimhand - As I had entered another dead end room I once again decided to try and find a way out. My skills of detection did not fail me and I soon revealed another secret door. The room it led to contained an Orc which soon fell to the blows of my axe. I did not leave the fight unwounded though [2 LP damage].

Volrik The Brave - After fleeing back to the previous room Grandma decided to return back to the room that the Champion of Chaos had been guarding. Luckily for her he was nowhere to be seen. The room itself appeared unstable and on the verge of cave-in so she carefully made her way to the other side. [Next turn must roll 1d12 and roll Agility or less otherwise become trapped]

Turn 7:

Sir Rohan - As Maddie entered her next room, still recovering from the poisonous gas of the previous room, she set off another trap! This time poisonous snakes came out of holes in the walls and struck at her. [1d6 damage. She rolled a 6]. She was bitten a number of times before making her way to the next room.

Ulv Grimhand - The room I entered was also trapped. Luckily I was wearing the magic Ring of Warning and was able to bypass it. I was sad to then see the magic light drain away from my ring [they are all one-shot magic items]. I was now vulnerable to further traps.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma was carefully making her way across the room when the ceiling collapsed [she failed her Agility roll by rolling a 12 on 1d12]. She was trapped!

Turn 8:

Sir Rohan - Maddie then entered a long corridor which led to a what appeared to be an empty room. As she entered she was attacked by a swarm of vampire bats. [Damage = 1d6 - 2. She rolled a 4 which meant she took 2 damage]

Ulv Grimhand - The room I entered was a crypt. A careful search revealed a magic potion!

Volrik The Brave - Grandma was trapped in her room after the ceiling had collapsed. [She had to roll her Agility roll or less on 1d12 to escape. She rolled a 1!] After some struggling she was free! The room she entered next was empty. However, it was at this point that her torch went out. She spent the rest of the turn trying to find her spare torch and tinderbox.

Turn 9:

Sir Rohan - Maddie decided to search her room for secret doors. [She was near to the Treasure Chamber but the room she was in led in a different direction] Unfortunately she found nothing. [At this point Maddie only had 5LP remaining]

Ulv Grimhand - The room I next entered contained another dead adventurer. A quick search of his corpse turned up nothing. [At this point I only had 4LP remaining]

Volrik The Brave - Grandma was in darkness. But not for long. She found her spare torch and was able to light it. [She had to choose 3 numbers between 1 and 6 and then roll one of those numbers on 1d6. She chose 1, 3 and 5 and was lucky enough to roll a 1] As she entered the next room she found a dead adventurer. She searched the corpse but as she was doing so a scorpion bit her. [Damage = 1d6 - 2. She rolled a 6 which meant she took 4LP worth of damage. At this point Grandma only had 5LP remaining]

Turn 10:

Sir Rohan - Maddie again searched the room she was in for a secret door. [Once you have searched a room twice you must move on] Unfortunately, she again found nothing.

Ulv Grimhand - The room I next entered adjoined the Treasure Chamber! Through the open door on the far wall of the room I could see a huge pile of riches atop which lay the sleeping Dragon. But before I could enter the Treasure Chamber I first had to deal with the large Orc [4LP] who was guarding this room. I felled him with several blows from my mighty axe but not before he had struck me with a blow from his foul sword [I took 2LP worth of damage]. My way to the Treasure Chamber was now clear.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma entered her next room to be attacked by a weak Goblin. [1 LP] She soon killed him but took some damage herself [1LP] in doing so.

Ulv Grimhand is only one room away from the Treasure Chamber!

Turn 11:

Sir Rohan - Unable to find a secret door leading in the direction of the Treasure Chamber Maddie decided to keep going. The next room she entered contained a crossfire trap. [Damage = 1d12 - Armour. She rolled an 11 minus her Armour of 9 which meant she took 2LP of damage]

Ulv Grimhand - I entered the Treasure Chamber and searched the pile of riches. I took a sack containing gold coins worth 120GP and a bag of jewels worth 3,200GP! I looked up at the Dragon to see if it was stirring. [You must choose 1 of the 8 Dragon tiles. One tile shows the Dragon awake and the rest show the Dragon asleep. I thankfully chose a sleeping Dragon tile. These tiles are not returned to the cup. This means that each time you choose another Dragon tile the odds increase that you will wake the Dragon].

Volrik The Brave - Grandma searched her room to see if it contained a secret door that led closer to the Treasure Chamber. She was lucky and found one. It led to a room which contained a crypt. She searched the crypt but found nothing. Beyond, through the door at the end of the room, she could see the Treasure Chamber!

Ulv Grimhand about to enter the Treasure Chamber!

Turn 12:

Sir Rohan - The next room Maddie entered was adjacent to the Treasure Chamber but unfortunately for her there were no exits leading in that direction. However she did find a dead adventurer with an amount of golden guineas worth 20GP.

Ulv Grimhand - I decided to stay in the Treasure Chamber and continue to search. This time I found a sack containing gold coins worth 220GP and a magical crystal ball worth 2,200GP! I looked up again at the Dragon fearing that my rummaging about had awoken it. [This time I had a 1 in 7 chance of waking the Dragon]. Luckily it was still asleep.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma entered the Treasure Chamber and searched for goodies. She took a sack containing gold coins to the value of 110GP and another larger sack which held gold coins worth 170GP. [She then had a 1 in 6 chance of waking the Dragon. I was sweating on her pick because if the Dragon awoke the consequences would affect both of us] Luckily the Dragon continued its slumber.

Turn 13:

Sir Rohan - Maddie tried to search for a secret door to allow her entry to the Treasure Chamber. She found no secret door but did find jewellery worth 200GP.

Ulv Grimhand - As there were now two of us in the Treasure Chamber I decided to take what I'd already found and try to escape from the dungeon. [We were now at the half-way point of the game. I only had another 13 turns to escape before nightfall and certain death]. I headed back the way I had come.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma decided to stay in the Treasure Chamber and see what else she could find. She ended up grabbing another two sacks filled with gold coins valued at 300GP and 250GP respectively. [She now had a 1 in 5 chance of waking the Dragon] Luckily she did not disturb the Dragon.

Turn 14:

Sir Rohan - Maddie searched her room for the second time and found a potion bottle [As she had searched twice she must now move from the room].

Ulv Grimhand - I head back the way I had come.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma headed back the way she had come.

Turn 15:

Sir Rohan - Maddie decided that she wouldn't be able to get to the Treasure Room before nightfall so she headed back the way she had come.

Ulv Grimhand - I head back the way I had come.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma headed back the way she had come.

Turn 16:

Sir Rohan - Maddie headed back the way she has come.

Ulv Grimhand - I head back the way I had come but the next room I must enter is the trapped room I had previously evaded thanks to my Ring of Warning [on turn 7]. I felt weak at this point [I only had 2LP remaining] so I decided to drink the potion that I'd found earlier [on turn 8]. Drinking a potion is always a gamble. [Roll 1d12 - 1 - regain 4LP, 2 - regain 3 LP, 3 - regain 2LP, 4 - regain 1LP, 5-9 No effect, 10 - Lose 2LP, 11 - Lose half your LPs, rounding down, 12 - Instant death!] It was gamble but it paid off. I drank the potion and felt my wounds healing. [Would you believe it! I rolled a 1! Woohoo!!! I got 4LP back! I was now back to 6LP]

I entered the trapped room and suddenly the floor below me opened! A trapdoor! [To evade roll 1d12 - Agility. I rolled an 11 which meant I fell through the trapdoor] The fall nearly killed me. [Damage = 1d6. I rolled a 5 which meant I only had 1LP left. Had I not rolled a 1 when I'd drunk the potion I would now be dead]

Volrik The Brave - Grandma headed back the way she had come.

Turn 17:

Sir Rohan - Maddie was back at the trapped room which had contained the poisonous snakes. The room was still trapped, and she was barely alive [3LP remaining] so she tried to search for a secret door which would take her around the trapped room. Her search was successful and the room she entered through the secret door was empty with exits leading in the direction of the corner tower and freedom.

Ulv Grimhand - I was at the bottom of a pit and almost dead. I tried to climb out [roll Agility or less. I rolled an 8] but failed.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma headed back the way she had come.

Turn 18:

Sir Rohan - The next room Maddie entered was empty but unfortunately did not contain any exits in the direction she wanted to go.

Ulv Grimhand - I was still at the bottom of the pit and realised that nightfall was now not far away. I once again tried to climb out [roll Agility or less. I rolled an 7] but again failed.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma headed back the way she had come. She entered the cave-in room where she'd previously been trapped. She tried to make her way across the room without setting off another ceiling collapse.

Turn 19:

Sir Rohan - Maddie searched for a secret door and found one leading in the direction of freedom! Unfortunately, the room contained a Mountain Troll who did not want to let her pass. [As she only had 3LP left I fully expected her to die. However, she surprised me when she exclaimed "I use my magic ring to blind him!" She had remembered the Ring of Blinding she had chosen at the beginning of the game.] Maddie used the Ring of Blinding to blind the Mountain Troll [I was so proud!].

Ulv Grimhand - I was still at the bottom of the pit and realised that I must escape or I would surely die. I summoned my remaining reserves and with a mighty jump I caught the edge of the pit and pulled myself out. [Roll Agility or less. I rolled a 3!] Although I was out of the pit I still had to escape the dungeon.

Volrik The Brave - The room Grandma was in collapsed, sending debris everywhere. Unfortunately, she fell beneath the rubble and could not move [roll Agility or less on 1d12. She rolled an 8].

Turn 20:

Sir Rohan - Maddie kept going back towards the tower and freedom. The next room she entered was empty.

Ulv Grimhand - I head back the way I had come.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma tried to escape the rubble of the collapsed room. [Roll Agility or less on 1d12. She rolled a 2] Grandma escaped! She moved to the next room which was one of the rooms that had been blocked off by a falling portcullis.

Turn 21:

Sir Rohan - The next room Maddie entered had no exits. She is only 2 squares from escaping the dungeon.

Ulv Grimhand - I head back the way I had come.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma is faced with a heavy iron portcullis blocking her way. She then used her Ring of Opening to raise it! She continued back the way she had come.

Turn 22:

Sir Rohan - So close to freedom, Maddie searched the room in the hope she'd find a secret door. Unfortunately, all she found were poisonous snakes which attacked her. [Damage = 1d6. Maddie only has 3LP remaining. She rolled a 1 leaving her with 2LP remaining]

Ulv Grimhand - I head back along the corridor to the room only 2 squares from freedom.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma headed back the way she had come.

Ulv Grimhand (bottom left) is almost to the tower - and freedom!

Turn 23:

Sir Rohan - Maddie searched the room for the second time. If she does not find a secret door now she is doomed. She fails to find a secret room. Her way is blocked. There is now not enough time remaining to backtrack to find another way out of the dungeon.

Ulv Grimhand - I enter the last room before freedom. It is the room I first entered when I came into the dungeon. There is a heavy iron portcullis barring my way. I can see outside that it is very close to nightfall.

Volrik The Brave - Grandma also arrived back to the room into which she'd first entered the dungeon. The exit to freedom is also blocked by a portcullis.

Turn 24: (3 turns until nightfall)

Sir Rohan - Maddie moved back to the room she'd previously been in. She now knows she will perish within the dungeon.

Ulv Grimhand - I try to lift the portcullis. [Roll Strength or lower on 1d12. I roll a 5!] The bars raise and I make my escape from Dragonfire Castle! [Woohoo!!!] I have treasure to the value of 5740GP to show for my efforts but only 1LP remaining. There will be feasting and drinking tonight for Ulv Grimhand!

Volrik The Brave - Grandma also tries to raise the portcullis but she isn't that strong [Strength of 4]. She gives a heave. [Roll Strength or lower on 1d12. She rolls a 10] The portcullis remains where it is.

Turn 25: (2 turns until nightfall)

Sir Rohan - Maddie searches the room. She finds a Giant Centipede. It bites her. [Damage = 1d12. She rolls a 12] The poison takes effect immediately and her character, the brave Sir Rohan, dies. Maddie takes it well.

Volrik The Brave- Grandma again tries to raise the portcullis. She gives another heave. [Roll Strength or lower on 1d12. She rolled a 10] The portcullis remains where it is. She only has one more try before it is nightfall.

Turn 26: (the final turn before nightfall)

Volrik The Brave- Grandma summons every ounce of strength. [She realises that if she does not roll a 4 or less on 1d12 her character will die] She gives a final mighty heave. [She rolled a 4!] The portcullis raises! She makes her escape from Dragonfire Castle with treasure worth 830GP and 4LP remaining. [We all cheer!]

We all had a great time playing Dungeonquest. Sure, there is a fair amount of luck involved, but when the luck goes your way, well, that's when songs are sung throughout the lands of your mighty deeds.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Blue-faced Honeyeater

The Blue-faced Honeyeater is a large (growing to approximately 30 cm or 1 foot) black, white and golden olive-green honeyeater with striking blue skin around the yellow to white eye. I spotted this one on our next-door neighbour's banana tree. Not surprisingly, Blue-faced Honeyeaters are also colloquially known as Banana-birds.

Finished with that flower it spots another...

Hmm... how to get at the nectar within?

Sharp claws latch onto the outside of the flower...


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 49

My mother (Grandma to our kids) dropped by for another Saturday morning of gaming. Our games this morning were chosen by my 6-year-old daughter Maddie. First up was Elefant Hunt which was designed by Tom Wham. He also did the artwork in the game and I really enjoy his cartoony style of drawing the characters and animals. Elefant Hunt is basically a roll-and-move game where the object is to gather hunters and supplies and then set off on safari to capture animals. Each animal is worth a certain number of points and the first person to reach 100 points is the winner.

An oldie but a goodie

This game came as an insert in a Dungeons & Dragons (then AD&D) monthly magazine called Dragon magazine. The issue was number 88 which was published by TSR in August 1984. I was into roleplaying back in the 80's and had a subscription for many years to Dragon. Grandma went on to win our game with 100 points, I came 2nd on 72 and Maddie came 3rd with 0 points.

It was at this point that 2-year-old Georgia needed to have a nap. While I was trying to get her to sleep Maddie and Grandma played Old Maid and Go Fish. Maddie won both games.

Our next game chosen by Maddie was my homemade version of Diamant (AKA Incan Gold). This is a fun push-your-luck style of game where each player is an adventurer seeking rubies and diamonds within a network of caves.

Maddie (purple) and I (black) chicken out and head back to camp while Grandma continues on...

Maddie made some great decisions in the game and went on to win with 36 points, Grandma coming 2nd on 26 and myself 3rd on 16.

Our final game of the morning was Blokus Duo (AKA Travel Blokus). This is the 2-player version of the 4-player Blokus and a great little game. Each player is trying to fit all of their pieces on the board while attempting to deny spaces to their opponent. Although it is a 2-player game we decided that Grandma and Maddie would team up and play against me.

A very pretty game

We played two games. I won the first 73 to 68. I also won the second game 68 to 64. The rules state that you can get bonus points if you place all your pieces on the board. You know, I've played 44 games of Blokus Duo as of today and I've never been able to place all my pieces on the board. I should ask this question on BoardGameGeek to see if anyone has been able to achieve this feat.