May 5, 2013

BGG Contests

Posted in Board Games, Games, Hobby at 8:17 pm by Transmuter

So on Board Game Geek, the wonderful website that is all about board games, there is at least one contest a week. These contests require contestants to fill out a multiple choice quiz about a new or upcoming board game; more correct answers means more contest entries. Winning usually means acquisition of a copy of the game in question. The primary purpose of the contest is for game publishers to raise awareness of one of their games in hopes of attracting more buyers. I have entered more than a hundred of these contests.

I originally started doing the contests for the unique microbadge that you get for entering each contest. Up to five microbadges can be displayed under your avatar when posting on the BGG forums. It’s a fun little game on the site to collect as many as possible and display the microbadges most relevant to your current interests. Despite not expecting to win any of the contests due to large volume of entrants, I still entered the contests for these little geeky badges.

I actually, finally won my 56th contest, sponsored by Polish publisher I got my choice of one of five of their upcoming games, and I decided on The Cave. The Cave is a game where players control a team of speleologists, scientists who study caves, and race to achieve the best and most discoveries in a large cave system. Points are awarded for being the first team to photograph underground rock and crystal formations, the first to dive in and explore underground lakes, the first to get through tight squeezes, and so on. Teams must return to the base camp to resupply their stocks of rope, oxygen tanks, and most importantly food. I found the game to be quite fun, and I have enjoyed my half-dozen or so plays.

49 contests later I won again! This time I won a copy of Torn Armor, a miniatures skirmish game that was funded via Kickstarter. The game is scheduled to be released around November 2013, but I’m looking forward to trying it out. Painting the miniatures should also be fun.

Speaking of Kickstarter and miniatures, last year I went in with a couple of my friends to back Reaper’s Bones kickstarter project. This project was not for a game, but simply a huge number of plastic miniatures for use in role playing games and the like. It appears that the minis should finally be arriving sometime this month. It’s going to require a lot of painting, but it should be enjoyable. I will make a more detailed post once they come in and I have had a chance to paint at least some of them.


April 11, 2013

So Many Games!

Posted in Board Games, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 9:18 pm by Transmuter

I have played a lot of games over the past four years, so I’ll just cover the highlights.

Role Playing Games

Right after we moved to St. George I tried to keep up with my California D&D group by playing over the internet, but it just didn’t work out for me. A year later, after we moved into our house we met some people in the area that were interested in RPGs and board games, so we formed a group. We played D&D 4th edition for several months, then I discovered Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, which really caught my imagination. After the D&D campaign died due to lack of interest I decided to run a short S7S campaign, and everyone involved in the 4-episode adventure really enjoyed it. Unfortunately shortly after that two of our group moved to Alaska, where they lived for a year before moving back.

Board Games

Since the RPG group broke up I started getting into board games more, facilitated by the fantastic BoardGameGeek website. I found a few other people in my neighborhood who enjoy board games and play with them whenever we can find the time. I learned how to play Battletech by playing it on the computer via MegaMek. I played board games online at Recently a primarily board game focused store opened up in town – Game Haven. I found out about and started attending the Saint George Area Board Game Group, which meets weekly at a local library.

PC Games

So shortly before the Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft came out I started getting pretty tired of the game. I got the expansion and played it for about a month before dropping WoW for good. I haven’t even touched the game since the Mists of Pandaria expansion came out.

So years ago I posted how I really disliked the Lord of the Rings Online, but every few months Turbine did a free weekend for returning players. After playing the game a few more times courtesy of these free weekends I really started warming up to the game, so much so that I ended up buying the first expansion, then the next, and then the game went Free-to-Play. I got my father-in-law and most of his sons into the game, and I bought the third expansion, but unfortunately started petering out on MMOs in general. At some point during this my wife and I got Star Wars: the Old Republic MMO, which was pretty awesome for a while, but rapidly lost interest and had zero interest in playing once it too went Free-to-Play. I played Age of Empires Online for a while – I was even in the beta – but haven’t played it much recently. My latest favorite is Mechwarrior Online, a team-based Free-to-Play online game based on the old Mechwarrior games, which themselves were based on the Battletech board game. MWO is really great, and I love the strategy of choosing your ‘mech and its weapon loadout and the tactics of helping your team achieve the battle’s objectives.

As far as single-player games go, here is a list of some of my favorites I’ve played in the last four years (in no particular order): Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed (I, II, Brotherhood, Revelations), Batman: Arkham Asylum / Arkham City, Sonic Generations, LEGO Lord of the Rings, FTL, Sins of a Solar Empire, Terraria, Mass Effect (1, 2, 3), Civilization V, Half Minute Hero, Cthulhu Saves the World, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Greed Corp, and Atom Zombie Smasher.

August 25, 2009

Blizzcon 2009

Posted in Food, Games, Video/Computer Games at 2:21 pm by Transmuter

I’ve been a slacker recently about updating my blog, I know. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to.

I have until the beginning of September to play WoW. Once again, in order to save some money, Chiemi and I have canceled our WoW accounts. On the bright side, I’ve managed to level Kinz, my rogue, to level 80! Yay! It’s about time the guild master reaches the level cap. I went through a real lull in my interest in playing a rogue from about level 73-76, but once I got past that block I started enjoying him again. He’s doing some pretty decent damage now (considering the crappy gear he has currently), and he feels like he serves a purpose again.

Ever since patch 3.2 came out I’ve been running heroic dungeons a lot with my paladin. Getting emblems of conquest is great for non-raiders like me, and the new Trial of the Crusader has a lot of great loot – of which I’ve acquired all of the tanking gear except the dang shoulders. I’ve been stuck with my Tempered Saronite Shoulders for forever! I’ve run Gundrak a ton, but never got the tanking shoulders there, and I’ve run ToC a bunch and no shoulders there either! What’s the deal Blizz? 😉

In other news, the upcoming MMO The Old Republic is looking awesome! It’s like Knights of the Old Republic, but multiplayer and much refined. I totally want to be a Jedi, but I’ve been really impressed on how Bioware is making the other classes just as cool as Jedi and Sith. For example, the smuggler is a ranged class that uses a cover system. Moreover, the smuggler is supposed to have a bunch of awesome one-liners, gets to flirt with/romance a bunch of NPCs, and is generally the rocking Han Solo type. Pretty neat! The game is also completely voiced! Crazy! I’m totally going to try this game when it comes out. I felt sure I’d end up switching to this game once I was done with WoW in a couple years, but then I went to…

BLIZZCON! Woo! It was just as awesome as when I went two years ago, only bigger and with more people! This time my sister Jennie bought 5 tickets, one of which she sold on eBay, so we each had a ticket with one to spare. My brother went for the first day, but somehow got bored and left early. Go figure. The biggest news for me was the expected announcement of the next WoW expansion – Cataclysm. The theme for this expansion is that this super-dragon named Deathwing escapes his prison in the elemental plane of earth and bursts out into Azeroth, causing worldwide catastrophe. As a result of this, Blizzard will be revamping all the zones in the original WoW, improving and streamlining the leveling experience, changing the terrain of many zones, and almost doing a reboot of the franchise. If you’re interested, check out the World of Warcraft website, or a news site like

Other interesting things we saw at Blizzcon were the vendors. There was a vendor called, where you can have custom posters, postcards, etc. featuring your character printed! It looked really cool, and I can’t wait until the website goes live in a couple of weeks. Another vendor, FigurePrints, has a similar idea except they make a 3D figurine out of your character. I’d never seen them in person before, and I have to say I was blown away. They look fantastic! The only issue I have is that the colors look a bit whitewashed. They could stand to be more vibrant. It’s still amazing!

nVidia had a booth where they were showing off their 3D technology. When paired with a compatible monitor and a recent nVidia graphics card, their 3D glasses create a pretty impressive experience. I was able to log on to my character and play around for a while. Flying on my netherdrake was really neat, and large mobs actually become rather imposing. The glasses themselves are a far cry from the 3D goggles of yesteryear. It’s still nothing you’d want to wear out of the house, but they’re basically just the size of bulky glasses, and quite light. If I had the cash to spare, I’d seriously consider getting these.

We all got to play the demo of Cataclysm while we were at Blizzcon. It was pretty cool. We got 20 minutes to play the starting zone of either the goblins or the worgen. I played the goblins this time. I really liked the look of the zone – very Gilligan’s Island in my opinion. Chiemi and I also got to play the Diablo III demo while we were waiting for my sister to get her face painted. It plays really nicely. I played the newly announced monk class, and Chiemi played a wizard. She said she liked it, but there was too much gore. I agree; if there’s a reduced/no gore setting in the final game, it’ll probably be a game we buy.

After the Diablo III demo, we met up with my sister again, shortly after which we were approached by a man from WoW Stories who asked us if we had an interesting story relating to WoW. After hearing our vague assertions to the positive he directed us to his booth. On the way there we were given winning tickets by an Intel booth guy because we were wearing the Intel buttons that we had been given the day before. We were excited to actually win something! We continued to the WoW stories booth, where we were recorded on video talking about how Chiemi and I got into WoW as the only game Chiemi was interested in that we could play together as a couple. After that we went to the Intel booth to claim our prizes. My sister and I both got a little Intel-branded bag and Chiemi got a cool little folding chair! (Our girls loved the chair when we brought it home.) Blizzcon was a blast, and I hope to be able to go back a third time!

Oh, one more thing. For lunch on Friday Chiemi and I decided to walk around the convention center neighborhood in search of a place to eat. After walking way too far we got to Mimi’s. We like Mimi’s, so we went there to eat. After much agonizing about what to get I ordered meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I almost felt bad about choosing such a boring dish at a nice restaurant, but I was really craving meatloaf for some reason. Well, I’m glad I chose the meatloaf because it turned out to be one of the best meals of my entire life. From the appetizer bread to the juicy meatloaf and slightly chunky mashed potatoes, the whole meal was phenomenal! I felt like I was in heaven every time I took a bite of that meatloaf, and I’m not one to get enthusiastic about food. To top it off, the service there was fantastic! The glasses were replaced right before we drained them, the waitress seemed almost psychic in her ability to offer exactly what we were wanting before we were even able to ask for them, and everyone was very friendly without being overbearing or annoying. It was great!

I’ve had a good month.

June 1, 2009

What I’m playing

Posted in Games, Video/Computer Games at 10:42 am by Transmuter

Well, since I haven’t posted in a while I’ll make a quick update on what I’m playing recently.

I haven’t been playing WoW much recently. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been a bit bored of the game. I feel like I should be running at least the Argent Tournament dailies to get the mounts and pets, but I can’t muster up the willpower. I’m almost completely geared out in heroic/BoE equipment (I really only need to upgrade my shoulders), and I’m not in a guild that raids. I like to run dungeons, but I don’t need to run them for myself, so I don’t bother joining PuGs. Fortunately, my sister is out of school and is playing again, so I’ll probably run some dungeons with her to help her gear up.

One of our guildies was recruited by a somewhat larger guild that is raiding, and he’s enjoying it. Another guild member is probably going to switch soon. If he likes the guild atmosphere too my sister and I might join, leaving the Homestarmy for those members not really interested in raiding. I was concerned my wife would be unhappy if I left, but she seems ok with the idea, so that’s good.

Also, my father-in-law has been playing Titan Quest with some of his kids, so I bought it. It’s actually quite a fun game. At home I’m playing a warden, wielding spear and shield, while my work character is a soothsayer who lets his liche king and pair of wolves tear through enemies for him. I like how the game is classless, and your abilities are determined purely through which skill trees you put points into. I haven’t played multiplayer yet, but I’ll try to get a game going soon.

I’ve also been playing Spelunky a lot, since it’s such a fun little game that I can play start to finish (usually a grisly pixellated death) in 10-20 minutes. In that way it’s kind of like N. If you like challenging, reflex-oriented games you should try them out! You fail over and over until it finally clicks and you beat that section (big feeling of accomplishment), then you practice the next part over and over until you beat it too. I like these games because you’re expected to lose a lot, but the sections are short so you don’t lose hours of progress when you die. They give a real measure of how your skills are improving, too;  easily beating earlier stages after progressing past later stages (when those earlier stages were so hard to beat at first) really shows you’ve gotten better at the game. Go try them!

April 16, 2009

WoW Patch 3.1

Posted in Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 2:13 pm by Transmuter

So patch 3.1 just dropped for World of Warcraft, and so far I like it. My favorite thing about the patch so far is that Divine Plea is refreshed on autoattack when talented into Guarded by the Light. The upshot is that my Protection Paladin almost never runs out of mana as long as I’m fighting something. It’s awesome! Also cool is the new Argent Tournament. I just achieved the rank of Valiant today, and I’m enjoying the new daily quests. They’re good money too, and it gives me incentive to do dailies again, since I’m already exalted with the Sons of Hodir, the Kalu’ak, and the Oracles. (I’m not really interested in the Knights of the Ebon Blade dailies.) Anyway, good times!

Play the Distraction Game! See how well you can focus on the game itself, and not the distracting borders.

March 24, 2009

Welcome (Back) to the World of Warcraft

Posted in Games, Latin Language, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 4:02 pm by Transmuter

Rumors of WoW’s death have been greatly exaggerated. I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this, but a few weeks ago Chiemi and I reactivated our World of Warcraft accounts with a little of our tax return money. We’re really happy to have it back, especially me. I was content without it, but we both enjoy it for the social aspect as well as for the gameplay aspect. Just in case we get tight on funds again in the near future we set our billing for the 6-month subscription. That way we don’t have to worry about another monthly payment to make, and it’s cheaper per month that way anyway.

So another thing I totally forgot about until recently is my blog at Path of a Hero. It’s a blog for your WoW character. You take a screenshot of your character and add it in when you make a blog entry. The website will then poll the Armory for your character’s equipped gear and list that along with the screenshot. You can see your character’s progression via means of a slider. Check it out and you’ll see what I mean.

In other news, I am continuing my Latin studies and am almost back to the point in the textbook where I was before I started over. I like learning Latin a lot, I just didn’t have the time or energy to do so back while I was in school. It was way too hard to do side studies while having to do lots of official studies at the same time.

Speaking of not going to school anymore, I really love working for the City of St. George. The people are great, the work is interesting, and we live in a beautiful house in a wonderful town. Chiemi’s blog has much more information (and pictures!), but I’ll just say that it’s small enough to be friendly and clean but large enough to have most amenities. And Las Vegas is only about 2 hours away, so Saturday trips aren’t infeasable.

Achievement Unlocked is a fun little game. The whole point of the game is to unlock all of the game’s 100 achievements. Many of the achievements are hilariously easy to accomplish, such as starting the game, dying, or jumping. The last few are a little tricky, but a hint is try pressing different buttons. I played through it times, just because it was entertaining and easy to play.

January 26, 2009

The End of WoW

Posted in Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 12:54 pm by Transmuter

The end of my subscription to World of Warcraft, that is. Chiemi and I have given up playing WoW for the time being to help our family save a little money. If all goes well we can renew our subscriptions in several months, maybe for summer or something.

It’s a pretty unfortunate circumstance, but I’ve been working hard the past couple weeks with the deadline (today) in mind, raising faction reputations that were close to leveling, clearing quests and accomplishing various achievements, and especially finishing all the Lunar Festival achievements in a matter of two days! If I’m lucky I’ll be able to resubscribe in time for the next holiday event. All in all, I got to do a lot of fun things and got a lot done before my subscription ran out, so I’m content with the way this ended.

On the bright side, now I have time for other things, like restarting my Latin studies and playing X3 with my X52. Lots of X there, probably some X-rays or something too.

Also, I haven’t been putting flash games at the end of my posts recently! What’s up with that? Anyway, today’s game is called Ice Breaker. You have to rescue vikings that are stranded in glaciers by cutting the ice around them and letting them roll/fall into their longboat, where a viking with a hammer will smash away the ice in which they are encased. It’s a fun little puzzle game, and I’ve never seen cuter vikings. Good cutting to you!

January 4, 2009


Posted in Family, Games, Video/Computer Games at 8:11 pm by Transmuter

Well, we went to our new ward for the second time, and it was a much better experience than the first time, when hardly anybody talked to us. I got to meet several people whose names I almost immediately forgot. I’m not good with names. I met the mayor, who is also in our ward, and he’s super friendly. I’ll probably end up working on his office computer at some point.

Get Smart is a hilarious movie. We rented it from Redbox for a date,  but I wasn’t expecting great things. I figured it’d be fairly amusing in places, but nothing to write home about. Well, I was wrong. It was funny from end to end; Chiemi and I were busting up the entire time! I know the movie got mixed reviews, but for whatever reason the movie really got to us. I highly recommend checking it out.

My 3-year-old Kyla is a really sweet girl at heart, even though she can be a pain to deal with sometimes. This evening, I read her a little book before bed, and after finishing I gave her the book to read on her own, as she usually likes to do. Well, tonight she gave me the book back and told me to give it to Arwen, her 14-month-old sister who had been staring longingly at us the whole time from her crib. Arwen had been VERY unhappy to be put to bed without a bottle, but she’s been overflowing her diaper almost every night recently, so no more water before bed. She does NOT like this idea at all. Well, Chiemi and I figured she was finally asleep before we put Kyla to bed, but she woke up as soon as Kyla and I entered the room. I suppose Kyla sensed Arwen was unhappy, so she generously offered her book to her. It was a very kind gesture, and Arwen happily grabbed the book from me and sat down. It kept her quiet for a bit before the screaming began again. Fortunately she fell asleep faster the second time.

Quick shout-out to my aunt Vicki, who bought me X3: Reunion for my birthday. Thanks, Vicki! I’ll be sure to blog about it sometime.

After my first week of work, I have to say I really enjoy it. I’m still learning the ins and outs of the place, but I work with a great team, and it’s all very interesting so far.

January 2, 2009

The Big Move

Posted in Family, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 8:51 am by Transmuter

Well, I have been terrible at updating this blog, as usual. However, I just made a Facebook account! It’s kind of fun, and I can see how some people could waste way too much time on it.

In family news, we just moved to St. George, UT because I got a job there! I’m happy to have finally found a job, and St. George is a beautiful place. I’m working in the City’s tech department with a bunch of really cool guys. We’re renting a really nice townhouse that is more like a real house since it doesn’t share walls with anything. Money’s going to be pretty tight for the foreseeable future, but that’s not much of a change. I may be looking for a little side work to supplement our income though.

In WoW news, I got Wrath of the Lich King and hit level 80 with my paladin. I have no drive to level my rogue right now because there’s so much to do still even at level 80! I’m slowly leveling my blacksmithing, clearing quests, and getting achievements. I now have the Hallow’s End title and the Winter Veil title, as well as the Explorer title. The achievements really add some fun things to do in WoW. Last night my sister and I, and my wife for a bit, ran a few old world dungeons to get the achievements for them. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, to save $30 a month my wife and I have canceled our accounts, and won’t be playing past January until we can afford it again.

In other gaming news, I’m hoping to be able to remotely play D&D with my group back in Cali. I found a program called MapTool, which is a mapping program that allows players to connect to the DM and do things like chat, move tokens around the map, and view/modify information. Brett’s going to use his laptop as the DM map, his desktop connected to his HDTV as the player map for the group, and I’ll connect with my computer as well. We’ll try webcams and microphones through Skype or Ventrilo and see how it works. Our next game is scheduled for next Thursday.

I got a Saitek X52 flight control system for Christmas. It was available refurbished for $25, which is an amazing deal considering it’s $100 new normally. I’ve already downloaded a half dozen games and demos of space flight sims to try it out with. I used to own Descent: Freespace and Freespace 2, but I fear the discs are long gone. I loved those games, and I was quite angry when my lovely Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro joystick was not compatible with any operating systems past Windows 98. It’s sad that this genre of games has diminished so much in recent years. However, one game called X3: Reunion looks promising. The graphics are quite good, and there’s a lot of interesting-looking stuff. It does seem to have a large learning curve though, so it’s going to take a long time to get the hang of it. I’ll be focusing on WoW until my remaining time expires anyway, so we’ll see in February.

October 13, 2008

WoW 3.0.2 Out Tomorrow

Posted in Family, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 11:00 pm by Transmuter

I’m very excited about the new 3.0.2 patch for World of Warcraft that is coming out tomorrow. I’ve been playing the beta almost exclusively, since it’s painful to go back to the way paladins are in live. There are so many improvements to paladins it’s amazing! I’m sure the other classes have been improved too, but I’ve been having such a good time with my paladin that I haven’t even bothered playing my rogue. Add the new achievement system, and I think it’ll be enough to pull me away from the beta. Besides, all the beta stuff will be wiped away when it ends anyway. I plan getting a bunch of achievements: exploring the whole world, soloing all the low-level dungeons, and buying a bunch of mounts and noncombat pets. I really want the “Argent Champion” title, so I might go farm Stratholme to get exalted with the Argent Dawn. The runecloth will be useful for getting my reputation with Darnassus and Gnomeregan Exiles up to exalted too.

I’m still playing D&D every week, and it’s a blast! I really enjoy the new 4th edition, and playing with my friends is tons of fun. We’re up to level 4 now and just started a new adventure. We’re up to 6 players, which is a bit much, but it’s still fun. If we add any more players we might have to split into two groups! That could be a problem – my brother’s apartment wouldn’t fit everyone!

My two little girls are generally adorable, except when they’re cranky. Arwen is almost 1, and she’s going through the phase where she knows how to scream at will, and does so frequently. She sends her mother and father into fits, making them think she’s in terrible pain or danger. Compounding this is the fact that her older sister Kyla likes to mimic her. Stereo screaming is not fun. Fortunately, most of the time they’re sweet and very cute.

As far as the job search goes, I didn’t get the job I applied for in Wyoming. I haven’t given up yet, and I’m still trying to apply for jobs every day. Today I applied for a job that looks really good working for Blizzard Entertainment, the very company that develops World of Warcraft! It would be totally rad to work at Blizzard. I’m trying not to set myself up for disappointment though; I’m sure they get hundreds of applications. Well, here’s hoping.

I recently found a really cool website that develops flash games! It’s called Nitrome, and today’s pick is called OneKey. It’s a cute little action-puzzle game where you help a little square-shaped native get through a dangerous Aztec temple using only one key – the mighty spacebar! The twist is that you don’t actually control the native; you control all the various deadly traps in the temple, alternately activating and disabling them as the native blindly saunters past. It’s quite creative and innovative. Check it out!

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