Piratey games night

What did I do today?

I went to the supermarket to pick up my big weekly grocery shop, that I’d ordered online for fast pickup. This time I said I was “in my way” a good ten minutes before I left home, and when I arrived it was ready for me to grab and go, which was better than the waiting around I had to do last week.

I did discover a slightly annoying thing. The minimum order of green beans from the fresh vege section was 0.25 kg, so that’s what I ordered. It turned out to be about 5 times as many beans as I normally buy! We’ll be eating beans with a lot of meals over the next week. And… the same thing with mushrooms.

From 11 am I had a photography standards meeting. This is the Standards Australia meeting to follow-up from the international ISO meeting I attended last month. As the chair of the Australian committee, I presented a report on the international meeting for the benefit of the Australian experts. Our committee is doing really well, having grown in membership recently, so this is really satisfying work.

Then at 4 pm I had another ethics class, with the prejudice topic.

And now in the evening it’s virtual board games night with my friends. We started with a game of Nidavellir, which is one of our current favourites. And I actually won the game, although I’m not sure I have a good grip on the strategy yet. We’re now into our ongoing game of Forgotten Waters, that we started a few weeks ago.

In COVID news, NSW recorded 136 new cases, which sets another new record for the year. Case numbers have gone up alarmingly in the past two days, and the number of people infectious without being in isolation is going up too. It feels like the outbreak is slipping out of control, despite the current lockdown regulations. The lockdown was scheduled to end on 30 June, but I can’t see any way that it won’t be extended, and in fact tightened even further. I feel like the only thing we can do now is hunker down, avoid people, and wait for our second vaccinations.

New content today:

COVID-Virtual games night Friday

Tonight would have been face-to-face games night with the guys, but under the current COVID lockdown we’ve converted it to virtual once again. The COVID numbers rose again today, with 97 new cases in NSW. Nothing particularly new in terms of lockdown restrictions, just more urging people to do the right thing and stay home.

I did mostly. It was time for the weekly grocery shopping, but rather than go through the supermarket myself, I signed up for online shopping. Unfortunately the delivery fee scale is such that for people like me who do small weekly shops, the fee is high, whereas it gets lower if you buy more, until if you buy over $300 of groceries delivery is free. I kind of get it, but as someone who usually spends $80-$120 a week, I don’t want to have to add another $15 on top for delivery.

So instead I chose the free “pick up from store” option. At least it saves me from walking around the aisles, and I could spend only a couple of minutes in the supermarket picking up my stuff instead of half an hour. As it turned out, when I got there they didn’t have my order quite ready, so I had to wait a little while they ran around grabbing bags from storage lockers and fridges and stuff. But it was quicker than doing the shopping myself, so that was worthwhile.

The other reason to go out today was that Scully was booked in for her grooming day. She was getting very shaggy, but now after picking her up she’s velvety smooth.

For games night, the first game we played was Nidavellir, which is a game I enjoy, but I haven’t really got to grips with the strategy yet. Yet, somehow, I managed to win! By a single point. But a win is a win! Now we’re playing some games of 7 Wonders, which is a virtual games night staple. I came second in the first game, and… just won my second game! With an unconventional science + military strategy.

New content today:

Double plus lockdown Friday

Today’s COVID news in Sydney was even worse than yesterday. 44 new cases in the 24-hour reporting period (6 more than yesterday), and more of those cases than yesterday were circulating in the community rather than being isolated as known contacts of infected people. So basically we have more people spreading the virus further. The NSW Government announced further lockdown restrictions, as well as indicating stricter enforcement.

We are now prohibited from leaving the house for any reason except (1) medical reasons, (2) to get food or other necessary supplies, (3) for work or education if those cannot be done at home, or (4) for exercise. Additionally, we are prohibited from travelling more than 10 km from home, and are strongly advised not to leave home for any shopping if we can arrange home delivery. If you do go shopping, it must be directly to buy specific needed items – browsing in shops is prohibited. If you leave home to exercise you may only meet one person who does not live in your household. You may not visit anyone else’s home, and you may not have any visitors in your home. Facemasks must be worn in every indoor location except your own home, plus on public transport, and also outdoor locations where people gather.

This lockdown is supposed to end Friday next week, but given the trajectory of cases at the moment I expect it will be extended further.

So, I spent the day at home. Which I probably would have done anyway given that it started raining today and it was extremely cold and miserable. The maximum temperature in Sydney was a bone-chilling 12.1°C, which made it the second coldest day of the year so far.

Fortunately I went out and did my weekly grocery shopping first thing in the morning, before the new restrictions were announced. Although that would have been allowed under them, since it’s food we’re going to eat. And toothpaste.

This evening we did a virtual board games night. Played a few games on Board Game Arena: 7 Wonders, 6 Nimmt, Coloretto, and also Sketchful, and an implementation of Codenames on the game’s own website.

Oh, and I forgot to mention yesterday that I got up to 365 consecutive days of Italian language practice on Duolingo. A full year since I started this daily streak. So that feels like an achievement!

New content today:

Tonsil recovery day 8

My throat is improving again. Today I was able to swallow almost freely, although it’s still a bit painful to chew food. I did sleep without needing any painkillers, so that was good. Basically, things are looking up and hopefully will be back to normal soon.

I spent some time today doing boring stuff like going through spreadsheets of financial stuff for tax, and filling out a job application form for a position as a casual tutor at the University of Technology, Sydney, for the job that my contact offered me a while ago.

Normally we go out for dinner on a Friday evening, and also tonight was supposed to be fortnightly board games night, but with the COVID lockdown in Sydney restaurants are all closed and our games night has been converted to virtual. So we ordered Indian food to take-away from a favourite local restaurant. I went to pick it up, and although they couldn’t have seated customers, they were doing great business with take-away orders. When I arrived there, they had about a dozen bags waiting to be collected.

The first game we played tonight was Forgotten Waters, using an implementation on Tabletop Simulator. This is a pirate themed mostly cooperative board game with some light roleplaying components. Then we played some rounds of 7 Wonders, and ended up with some Sketchful.

New content today:

Games night roundup

I’m posting late again due to the fortnightly board games night happening last night. Yesterday was very busy.

I started with the weekly grocery shop, then launched straight into taking photos for a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I finished that just before lunch, had lunch, and then went on to writing my lesson plan for the afternoon’s online ethics class. In between I had to pick up Scully from my wife’s work, and then after I’d finished writing the lesson I took Scully out for a bit of exercise to get her tired so she’d rest through the lesson and I wouldn’t need to interrupt it to take her out again.

After last week’s class had 5 students in it, this time there were only two, and one had connection problems, so popped in and out a bit before giving up. So for most of the lesson I only had one kid. We discusses natural resources, and the questions of whether it’s okay or not for people to use resources that are just lying around in nature – such as forests, water, minerals, etc. I raised many questions over whether various resources were needed by people, or whether using them deprived other people, or caused harm in various ways. With just the one student it was interesting to explore exactly what she thought on these issues and dig deeply into her reasoning. Several times when I asked her to explain why she thought a certain way, it took a lot of thinking for her to articulate her reasons. She said she really enjoyed the lesson, when it was done.

When that was done it was time to head off for games night! Usually we order pizza, but tonight we decided to get Thai food from the place near where we all used to work. They make excellent dishes there, and we used to be spoiled having them for lunch, but we’ve all missed out since losing our jobs there and going our separate ways. One guy picked up a bunch of dishes on the way and we all shared them – it was great.

For games, we started off with A Fake Artist Goes to New York. This is a party-style game where everyone has to collaboratively draw a picture. The catch is that all the drawers except one know what they’re drawing. At the start of each round, one person (who will not be drawing) selects a thing to draw and writes it on slips of paper, and gives those to the artists – except that one of the artists just gets an X and has no idea what the other artists will be drawing. The artists then take it in turns to draw a piece of the artwork, by placing their pen, drawing a contiguous line, and lifting just once. Each artist who knows what they’re drawing tries to draw something so that others will know that they know; while the artists who doesn’t know just has to bluff as best they can. But the catch is that the artists can’t make it too obvious, because then the artist who doesn’t know will figure it out. Once everyone has drawn twice, the artists all simultaneously vote/accuse someone of being the imposter. If a majority get it right, the real artists get a point – unless the imposter can successfully name what they were trying to draw, in which case the imposter gets a point. If the artists don’t identify the imposter, the imposter gets a point. And you play several rounds.

A Fake Artist Goes to New York

Here’s what we came up with (with the correct word added after the round so you can see). Because the artists are trying to reveal they know the word but without giving it away to the imposter, the drawing become rather abstracted. Of course this runs the risk of other artists not being able to successfully infer that you know what you’re doing. For example, for the “Church” drawing, two real artists drew two parts of a cross, separately, and they knew what each other was doing, but the other true artists had no idea what they were drawing and thought maybe one of them was the imposter.

Next we played Fantasy Realms. This is a card game where you have to collect a hand of seven cards, drawing and discarding rummy style, except the discard pile is laid out in full and you can draw any discard you want.

Fantasy Realms

Once the draw pile is exhausted, each player totals up the points in their hand. Simple! Except each card is worth a certain number of points, which usually varies depending on other cards in their hand. So the goal is to collect the various combos that enhance one another and minimise the combos that subtract points. I won this game with a combo hand of wizards and beasts! I actually grabbed the Warlock Lord (shown in the discard pile in the photo) despite having 5 wizards and thus it having a -40 point penalty, because another card gave me +100 points for having five cards of the same suit (wizards in this case).

After this we moved on to King of Tokyo.

King of Tokyo

A simple dice rolling, beat-em-up game where each player is a giant monster attempting to rampage through Tokyo and defeat all the other monsters. I didn’t do so well in this one!

After that we split into two groups and I tried a new game for me: Nova Luna.

Nova Luna

This is an abstract game in which you need to collect tiles and lay them out in front of you, forming various combinations that allow you to place discs on some of the tiles. The goal is simply to be first to have used up all your discs. The intricacy comes about from the method of claiming tiles using a “moon phase” board – if you select low numbered tiles they are less useful, but you get to move again before other players, whereas if you select high numbered tiles they are often more useful, but you will need to wait longer before you get another turn. So there’s an interesting mix of strategies to consider. It was a very close game. I thought I was going strong and set myself up to win on my next turn with a high numbered tile, but the other players then each got multiple turns before I could go again, and two of them managed to finish before me!

To finish, we played Tussie Mussie. This is a very innocent looking card game in which you have to collect a set of four flowers, and then everyone scores points for their set. Each flower is worth 0, 1, or 2 points, but many also have abilities that give them bonus points when combined with other flowers, or restrictions that attract penalties if certain conditions are met.

The evil comes in the way the you collect flowers. Each person in turn draws two flowers, looks at them, then places one face up and one face down, and offers them to the player on the left. That player must choose one – either the one they can see, or the face down one. So the idea is to make the one you want to keep for yourself seem less tempting, without giving away that you want it for yourself. There’s a lot of psychological warfare and guessing going on, and it becomes very difficult to figure out the best move.

Another fine entry in the category of games that look sweet and innocent but are evil psychological minefields. We love them!

New content today:

Variant cauliflower bomb

This morning was another online ethics class, doing the “getting even” topic I mentioned on Friday. A new student signed up for the class about 15 minutes before it started, and was my first student from the USA. I’ve got students from at least 6 different countries now.

I had some things to do in the city today, so caught a train in. We no longer need to wear masks on public transport here, since there’s no COVID circulating, but it still feels a bit weird being in close quarters with so many people.

I spent a couple of hours in the city, and before coming home I visited one of my favourite bookshops. Browsing the gaming section, I found and decided to buy The Ultimate Micro-RPG Book, which looks like some good fun.

For dinner tonight I tried a variant on the cauliflower bomb which I’ve made a few times. I had half a tin of chick peas leftover from Sunday’s dinner, and decided to make hummus with them, and then realised baked cauliflower would go well with that. So I basically did the recipe replacing the honey cashew cream sauce with hummus, and it worked beautifully. Really delicious. I neglected to take any photos though, so I can’t share with you, alas.

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Tech panic!

I woke up this morning, got out of bed, grabbed my bowl of muesli and yoghurt, and sat down to check my emails and stuff from overnight.

When the computer screen came on, there was a system dialogue. It said the most recent backup attempt had failed. And…

… that the most recent available backup was from some date in 2018.

Now, I’m no expert in how Apple’s Time Machine backups work, but that seemed somewhat sub-optimal. I didn’t have time to do much about it, as I had to get ready and head to school to teach my weekly Ethics class. So I set it to try and do another backup while I was out, and headed off.

I taught my class, and popped into the supermarket to buy a few things we’d run out of, and came home, to find the new backup had also failed. A quick discussion with some of my more tech-savvy friends confirmed what I suspected – it was time to get a new backup drive. I ordered one online, for pickup, not delivery, so I could get it today. It was ready to pick up pretty quickly, and I caught a train a few suburbs over to get it.

While I was out, I decided to grab some lunch, and had some tonkotsu ramen at a place in the shopping centre. It was okay, but I’ve had better. I picked up my new hard drive, and then since there’s a game shop there I popped into have a quick look at the games. They had copies of the new D&D book: Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. I had a quick flip through and it looked like the sort of thing I’d like to read through fully and mine for ideas, so I bought a copy, with the limited edition alternative art cover. When 5th Edition first came out, I bought every book as it was released, but now I’m being more selective, as I don’t really have much use for some of the books they’ve been releasing lately (e.g. Candlekeep Mysteries, Eberron).

When I got home I plugged in the new drive, formatted it, set it as the new Time Machine backup drive, and started a full backup. Now, seven hours later, it’s still going, although it should finish in less than another hour. And then I can breathe easy again…

New content today:

The day passed too quickly…

Somehow today just got away from me. I woke up early, before my wife had to get up to get ready for work, and was up earlier than usual. But I think I didn’t sleep well because I felt a bit lethargic. I did the grocery shopping a bit later than usual, after realising I was wasting time doing nothing.

And then I’m not really sure what happened. The day just went and next thing I knew I was picking up Scully from my wife’s work. When I got home, I had my online ethics class.

As mentioned yesterday it was about “Trusting experts”. I started with a story about three kids discussing a movie with aliens in it. One wondered if aliens had actually visited Earth, one was sure they had because thousands of people say they’ve seen them, while the third said that scientists say there’s no evidence of aliens visiting Earth. Then we had a discussion over who people should believe – and why. We had a few other stories of people having to decide whether to trust experts or not, and raised more questions about the topic. It was a good discussion with the students, and they both said they enjoyed it at the end of the lesson.

This evening I went out for Thai food with my wife and Scully. I had some chilli basil crispy fried barramundi, which was very nice.

And tonight is virtual board games night. We’re playing online right now as I type. We just finished a couple of games of 7 Wonders, and are now starting Welcome To….

New content today:

Hosting board games night

Late update for Friday, as I was hosting our fortnightly board games night last night, and didn’t have time to write up this entry.

I spent most of the day running chores. I did the weekly grocery shop, and then I had to go out again twice more, once to get some yummy Italian baked goods for dessert, and once to pick up Scully from doggie day care and also buy some beers to share with the guys. In between I did a thorough vacuum cleaning and dusting of the house and then tidying up various clutter to make space for us to sit around and play games. And then just before everyone arrived I had a shower and cleaned the bathroom.

There were seven of us for games. Four of us started a game of Azul before the others arrived, and once they had arrived they played Abandon All Artichokes until we’d finished. After those, we all played another section of our ongoing game of Legacy of Dragonholt. And finally, we resplit into two groups, three people playing Lost Ruins of Arnak, and the other four playing Parks.

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Quick Friday fill-in

I didn’t have time to post on Friday evening as I went through a string of other stuff to do. I had my online ethics class at 4pm, after which I made sourdough and spent time kneading and getting it ready for baking (which I’ll be doing in the morning after letting it rise overnight). Straight after that I went out with my wife and Scully to our favourite local pizza place for dinner.

When we got home, virtual games night was well underway, and the guys had just finished playing a game, so I leapt straight in to a new game of Nidavellir. It’s an interesting bidding game with some cool mechanics – you’re bidding coins to recruit dwarves to your army, and score points for various combinations of dwarves. You can also increase the values of your coins through various means to improve your bidding in later rounds.

After that we played Gartic Phone, which is a web implementation of Telestrations, essentially a cross between Telephone and Pictionary.

Then we played a couple of games of good old 7 Wonders. And ended with a couple of rounds of a Discord implementation of Scattergories.

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