Gaming and comics

Friday was online games night with my friends, so I neglected to update here. I actually won two games of 7 Wonders, which is highly unusual, although I did exceptionally poorly at 6 Nimmt to make up for it. We had an absolutely hilarious game of Gartic Phone, with some truly ridiculous drawings and descriptions.

I’ve been spending time yesterday and today doing more prep work for my trip next week. Yesterday I got caught up on a lot of ISO standards material that had arrived in my mailbox over the past several weeks. I’ve also been making comics as fast as I can manage, to make sure I have enough buffer to cover the time away.

Yesterday I also received my Kickstarter reward for Filth & Grammar, a book about editing comics. I’ve only had time to have a quick flick through, but I’ve already learnt something about preparing comic dialogue layout that I’ve now been consciously applying to the Darths & Droids strips that I’m working on.

Today I used some more bunya nuts in dinner, making a mushroom, leek, and feta tart to add them into. It was pretty rich, but delicious.

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The Solar System

Today I had another science class with my online student from England, who I’ve been teaching intermittently for some months now. I decided we could move away from biology and start looking at some more astronomy. I prepared a lesson on the solar system this morning, pulling together lots of cool images form various space agencies and observatories. The great thing about these is that most are either in the public domain, or very liberally licensed, so fantastic images are easy to find and use, which is not the case for some other subjects.

And in between teaching that class and two more on the ethics of human rights, I got a message form a parent of a student who I had in ethics a few months ago saying that she was looking for a D&D group for her daughter and stumbled across my gaming group on Outschool. She signed her daughter up right away, and asked me if I had any plans to run actual game sessions in classes. That’s exactly what I plan to do some time in the near future! So I told her, and she said her daughter would be thrilled to be one of the first one to try my adventures online.

So that’s very cool – and it provides motivation for me to get this idea up and running as soon as I can. It will need to be after my trip to Germany in 2 weeks, but hopefully some time in July/August I can get it running.

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Another day of secret projecting

Not much to say about today, since I mostly worked on my current secret project. I picked up the grocery shopping in the morning, had a couple of ethics classes, and went for a run in the early evening.

Tonight is online board games night with my friends. We’re in the middle of a game of El Grande, and I seem to be in a good position to come second.

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Gaming and Voting

Friday was wet and cold and miserable, weather-wise. After enjoying a huge 4 days without rain, we’re now in for a solid week of forecast rain. I’m pretty sure we’ve now reached the point where there’s been more rainfall in 2022 (so far!) than in any (full) year since 1996. And we’re still less than 5 months into the year. I know I keep going on about it, but it’s truly a ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had in the past few months.

And it was also freezing cold all day. The temperature never reached as high as 15°C, making it the coldest day of the year so far. Definitely an early taste of winter.

Friday evening I went to a friend’s place for board games night. My wife took Scully and the car to go visit her mother for the evening, so I took a train over.

We played a case from MicroMacro: Crime City while waiting for the sixth person to arrive. This is a very cool game that plays like a Where’s Wally? crime investigation. There’s a huge poster with an isometric drawing of dozens of city blocks, populated with thousands of tiny people. You take a set of clue cards and have to spot various things in the drawing to advance the investigation, eventually building up a sequence of events that explains a crime, implicates a suspect, and provides motive and means. It took us about 20 minutes working together peering across the map, and was a lot of fun.

After this we played a six-player round of Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest. Then we split into two groups of three, to play Dune Imperium and Azul: Queen’s Garden (the one I played). This is somewhat like its three predecessor games in the Azul series, but more different than any of the previous iterations, and considerably more complex. It’s the game I tried to buy last week. Now I’ve played it, I definitely want to get a copy. Following this, our subgroup of three played a game of Draftosaurus while the others finished Dune. To finish up we played a six-player game of Skull.

One of the guys gave me a lift home, so that was good – I didn’t have to catch a train around 11pm.

Today was election day, with Australia voting for the next federal government. We got up early and went to the nearest polling station, arriving soon after it opened at 8am. There was hardly any queue, maybe ten people ahead of us when we arrived.

As we waited, a guy in the queue right in front of us was hassling the staff about masks. They were handing out masks and asking everyone to wear one, but not forcing them to. And this guy was putting on a rant about how if it wasn’t compulsory he wasn’t going to do it, how he was here to “exercise his democratic right” and if the democratically elected government didn’t have a law requiring him to wear a mask then he wouldn’t.

He asked the polling booth volunteer if he had to and she started saying, “I’ve been told…” and he interrupted her with, “So you just do whatever someone tells you? Is that what you think democracy is?” I got so annoyed that I actually told him to shut up and stop hassling the staff. There should have been a security bouncer there to back her up, but this poor woman was all alone. And it probably didn’t help that she looked Indian/Sri Lankan. I bet the guy wouldn’t have been so vocal if it was a white male.

Voting done, we returned home to huddle inside out of the cold and rain all day. We only ventured out again at dinner time to go get some French galettes and crepes for dinner from a French restaurant. It’s a good place to go in cold and rainy weather, because their “outdoor” tables where we can sit with Scully are actually inside an arcade, so very well sheltered.

And now it’s time to settle in for the vote counting and watch the unfolding of how we’ll be governed fr the next three years…

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Games and Indian dinner

Friday night was online board games night with the guys. I ate dinner at home so I could join in early this week. We played Dice Forge, Can’t Stop Express, 7 Wonders, Azul, Scattergories, Codenames, and Sketchful. And possibly something else that I’ve forgotten.

Most of the day yesterday and today I spent working on my current secret project. There’s a bit of a deadline on this, so it’s occupying a lot of my time at the moment, and there’s nothing I can really say about it.

Oh, Thursday night I had that ISO planning meeting. We were deciding if enough people were prepared to travel to Cologne to have a face-to-face meeting, or if we should convert it to a fully online meeting. I was hoping the agenda would be finalised as a three-day face-to-face meeting, so I could travel to Germany, attend the meeting, and then have several days free at the end to explore some of the Netherlands. On the other hand, if we cancelled the face-to-face and did a virtual meeting, I would reschedule our flights and we’d have a pure vacation trip a few weeks later.

Unfortunately we kind of ended up with the worst of both worlds. Enough people are planning to travel to make it worthwhile doing it face to face, but virtually all of the Japanese contingent are not travelling—probably restricted by their companies in ongoing COVID precautions. So to please them it was decided to have a hybrid meeting, and instead of 3 days of 9-5 meetings, it’s going to be spread out as 5 days of meetings from 12:00-17:00. This is bad for me, because now I have to spend 5 full days in Cologne, while my wife entertains herself while I’m in the meetings, and then we only have a few days left at the end for sightseeing before heading home. SO it’s less than ideal, but I guess we just have to make the most of it.

Tonight for dinner we decided to go to an Indian restaurant that is a bit over half an hour’s walk from our place. We took Scully there in her doggie backpack, and she walked all the way home. I tried a new dish that I’ve never seen before: pistachio chicken, which was very nice.

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Game night and comics day

Friday was board games night with friends, and we had a face-to-face meet-up for the first time in ages, although only four of us could make it. Not having met for ages, there were brand new recently acquired games to try.

We played Libertalia first, a pirate themed game in which each player has a deck of cards numbered 1-40, each one representing a different crew member. A set of 6 of these are randomly selected and each player draws the same 6 cards in to their hands. Then each player selects a crew member simultaneously and reveals them all at once. The crew are ordered by number, and there is a Reputation track that acts as a tiebreaker – higher Reputation players sort higher.

The cards are the processed in increasing order, and each may have an ability that does something – such as modify the players Reputation, or modify the loot that each player will receive in the next step. The cards are then processed in decreasing order, with each player selecting an item of loot from a predetermined selection. Some cards also have abilities that trigger in this step, such providing a bonus for selecting a particular type of loot. Each player’s card then goes on their Ship (just an area of the table).


There is an in-between phase (“night”) when some cards have other abilities that do stuff. Then you repeat choosing a new crew member from your hand. This is done 4 times, leaving 2 unused crew in your hand.

Then it’s the next round, where more 6 more cards are selected and added to each players’ hand. So at this point each player has 6 of the same cards, plus 2 leftovers from the previous round, which may differ depending what they played. You play this round of 4 cards, and then you play a third round of another 4 cards.

Over the course of the game you accumulate various loot tokens, which are worth different amounts of points, and the most loot points wins!

The second game we played was a longer one: Ark Nova. This was a more complex game, in which each player manages a modern zoo, developing conservation programmes, and links to other zoos and to universities for research and stuff like that. It’s quite involved, with a lot of interlocking actions, resources, and scoring tracks.

Ark Nova

It took us about 3.5 hours to play the game, though being the first game it was slowed down by learning to play. The turns go by pretty quickly and smoothly once you get into it, so there isn’t much down time, and there’s plenty to do and plan out. By the end we were being pretty efficient.

Today I spent most of the day making Darths & Droids comics, and working some on the secret project.

Oh, and it was really cold today. Winter has definitely blown in.

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Codenames night

It’s Friday games night and we’re playing Codenames tonight.

Earlier this evening I went out for dinner with my wife and Scully. We went to an Indian restaurant that we used to go to a lot years ago, but haven’t been there since we got Scully, because they don’t have any outdoor seating. It hasn’t been super urgent for us to try to go there, because there are other Indian places near us. But it was good to go back.

Mostly today I worked on the secret project a bit more, so I don’t have a while lot more to say about today.

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Friday/Saturday joint update

I was too busy last night to write an entry, so today will do for both Friday and Saturday. I’ve been busy working on a secret project, which I can’t say more about yet, so there’s actually not very much I can say.

I did my running, had two ethics classes yesterday, went grocery shopping. Last night was online games night with my friends, but I went out for pizza dinner with my wife and Scully first. While walking home, a storm rolled in from the south, and there was a lot of lightning and thunder, very loud. We rushed a little, and managed to get home just a minute or two before the clouds opened and the rain came pouring down, so we were very lucky. It was incredibly heavy for about 20 minutes.

Today I pretty much just worked on the secret project, with some short breaks to do a few chores and other things. Tomorrow we have our market day, the first one since before Christmas. Hopefully my wife and I will sell a good amount of stuff!

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Rain and floods update

The big news in Australia, which was even ahead of the war in Ukraine on the TV news bulletin tonight, is the absolutely massive amount of rainfall and subsequent flooding currently hitting the eastern coast. Six people are confirmed dead from floodwater incidents, and it’s feared another has died but no body has been found yet. Brisbane’s Wivenhoe Dam is now up to 180.6% capacity – from the 120% that I reported yesterday. They are doing controlled releases of water to avoid dam failure, which means it’s washing downstream towards Brisbane. There’s already flooding of central Brisbane streets from the elevated river level, and flood warnings have been issued fore many suburbs. Current estimates are that around 1500 homes will be flooded in the city tonight and tomorrow.

And that’s just the city. There are smaller towns around the region that are experiencing much worse. Some river levels are up to 22 metres above normal, and thousands of people are being evacuated.

The heavy persistent rain is set to continue for another day or so, and the weather system is moving south, into New South Wales, which is already experiencing flooding in many regions. It’s not anywhere near as bad all the way down here in Sydney, but we’ve received 250 mm of rain in the past four days, and the forecast is for another 150 mm or so in the next few days.

Besides watching the weather reports, I had the 4th class of 6 in my current run of the game design course. Today we worked on combining ideas into a playable set of game rules. The main concept the student came up with for the game is “disagreeing with everyone”. I proposed a few possibilities for how to theme it: (1) a simple party game where you propose business ideas and everyone criticises them, (2) a meeting of philosophers, who naturally can’t agree on anything, or (3) a family gathering, where everyone gets into arguments about various topics. The student chose theme 3 – so we’re now working on a game which is set at a family gathering, and the goal is to argue with all the family members.

I’ll make a first draft of the game rules and equipment—probably just a couple of decks of cards—this week and send it off to the student to playtest before our next lesson next Sunday.

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Collecting bunya nuts

This morning I did the usual grocery pick-up run, collecting my pre-ordered groceries form the supermarket. Then my run. And then right after that I took Scully for a short walk while my wife left for a day out in the city. She was taking a day off work and going to meet her mother for a morning tea in the city.

While she was there, I’d asked her to pick up a book for me at the gaming shop in town: Dungeons & Dragons: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos.

And speaking of gaming, tonight we’re playing Tapestry in our weekly online board game night. We’d decided we wanted to play a longer game and settled on this in advance, so we could all learn the rules before we start playing.

But an interesting thing I did today was collect some bunya nuts! Bunya pines are large native Australian trees that produce large seed cones every 3-4 years or so. There’s one not far from my place, which has been dropping cones for a couple of weeks. It’s the tall dark green tree in the centre of this photo:

Collecting bunya pine nuts

Here’s a piece of one of the cones. The cones are about the size of a soccer ball, but they slowly break open after falling, and all the ones I could find had broken up into segments.

Collecting bunya pine nuts

I spent time opening the segments and extracting the nuts, which are about the size of brazil nuts.

Collecting bunya pine nuts

I collected 3.2 kilograms of nuts!

Collecting bunya pine nuts

Banana for scale:

Collecting bunya pine nuts

To eat them, I’ll have to boil them for about 20 minutes and then peel off the shells, a bit like chestnuts. The flesh inside is also rather like chestnuts – at least that’s what the web says. I haven’t actually tried eating these before. I’ll try to report here when I try them.

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