Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Running Year

Well, I finally went for a run this morning after a two-week hiatus. I didn't mean to take such a long break, but the cold as well as being a little under the weather myself kept me away. It felt really good to be back out there (even though it was cold), and I hope to increase my weekly frequency as well as my mileage. Anyway, it got me to thinking I should recap my running like I did some of my other hobbies.

Last year I didn't really set a hard and fast goal for myself. I don't think I'm cut out to run a marathon, but I may look at trying a half-marathon this year. The most intimidating thing to me is not the physical exertion of running (although I know I'm not in shape enough for it yet). What bothers me is the sheer boredom of running for four hours. I guess that's why so many people carry iPods.

I log my runs at the Runner's World website. They have a free log that suits my purposes just fine. I'm sure there are many others, probably some better, but I don't need much. Unfortunately, it's difficult to pull useful stats. I can't even say how many miles I ran last year.

My average pace seems to hover right around 8:45/mile. That's not bad, but I'm disappointed that it doesn't appear to have changed over the course of the year. So, this year I will make it an actual goal to get that time down. Let's say 8:00 a mile, by this time next year.

I ran in five different 5Ks last year, so that's pretty good. They're just for fun, not competition, but it is nice to get an official time on a measured course. I wouldn't mind doing a few more this year, but I think five is fine. However, I will set a goal for myself to run at least one 10K this year.

Looking at my stats, I'm surprised to see that June was the month I ran the most in, with about 55 miles. I would have thought the heat would keep me back. Next most were October, then December. The trick for the coming year will be to get back to a solid schedule and make sure I run at least four times a week. I should also make a bigger effort to get in a longer run each week.

Okay, that's it. Not a very exciting post, but it was more just for my own benefit. It's a good idea to have goals in writing, and even more intimidating to have them in public where people can check you on them. The Houston Marathon is coming up in the next week or so. I'm nowhere near that level today, but I'm curious to see how I'll feel about it in a year.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nickels and Dimes, 2010

A common annual tradition amongst us boardgame geeks is to count up the number of games we've played the most in the past year. Every game we've played at least five times is a nickel, and at least ten is a dime. I don't have any quarters this year, but that's okay. Let's get on with the list!


This year I had 12 (technically 11) different games I played at least five times. Here are the highlights.

Pandemic: On the Brink
On the Brink is an expansion to the game Pandemic. I played Pandemic eight times, but five of those included On the Brink, which is why I really only played 11 different games this year. Pandemic is a cooperative game in which the players work together to stop the spread of diseases across the globe. I really enjoy the game, and especially admire the design. The expansion that was released is just fantastic for a number of reasons. It truly *expands* the game without making it too cluttered or overbearing. You can also pick and choose which aspects you want to add to the base game, making it more like four or five different games. And lastly, they included both replacement pawns and cool Petri dishes to "upgrade" the base game. I'm really glad I have this, and I expect to play it for years to come.

I have several card games in my list this year. That happens every year, actually. Card games are portable and usually quick, so those factors often lend to them being played more.

This clever card game was just released in 2010, and it has been a big hit. Players draft and play cards in a rummy-like fashion to develop your civilization. As you become stronger in certain areas, you can use special abilities on some cards. The rules are simple and straight-forward, but it still allows for some complex interactions. I managed seven plays this year.

Space Hulk: Death Angel
This one is cooperative like Pandemic, but it can also be played solo, and that is how I managed all seven plays this year. You might not think playing a boardgame by yourself would have any appeal, but this one managed to be pretty interesting. It managed to bring the tension and feel of Space Hulk, and would probably work as a good introduction to that game.

Another great little card game that came out just this past year. I was especially fortunate in that I was selected to play-test this game. The designer contacted me through BoardGameGeek to see if I would be interested in trying a two- to three-player game similar to Tichu. Of course, I jumped at the chance! I really like it a lot, and I'm sorry that I haven't played it in quite a while. I'm very pleased, however, that I turned on several of my friends to it, which hopefully led to more sales. In fact, if you'd like a copy, you can pick it up straight from the publisher: Indie Boards & Cards. I highly recommend all three of their current titles, and I look forward to more from them in the future.

Other nickels:


The dimes are usually less interesting (to me) because they often consist of short or party games. But there are two in particular which deserve mention here.

The Resistance
This is a great variation on the game Werewolf, in that you have two teams pitted against each other, but one side has its members hidden among all the players. There's plenty of room for deception and subterfuge, but unlike Werewolf, all players stay in for the whole game. To me, that elevates it immensely. I kinda cheated to get 10 plays of this one, since I forced it on a rather inebriated crowd on New Year's Eve. I don't care, though, because I love promoting this game. This one is also produced by Indie Boards and Cards. Did I mention that you could pick up these games at their website? You might as well pick up all three, you know. To save on shipping.

Through the Ages
This is a fantastic game about developing your own civilization through the course of centuries. You must grow you population, keep them happy and fed, develop new buildings and technology, and never forget to defend them with a good military. There are always far too many things you want to do and never enough resources or time to do them. Speaking of not enough time, this game usually takes at least three hours. That is a long time for a boardgame, but you are always so engrossed that it passes reasonably quickly.

However, of my 11 plays of this, I don't think any of them finished in less than three days. How did I have time to play for that long? A friend introduced me to a website (Boardgaming Online) on which you can play by email. This was a godsend to me. As much as I like this game, it is very fiddly in the sense that it requires a lot of manipulation of components, keeping track of various resources, cards, points, etc. Having that taken care of by computer is absolutely ideal. Secondly, playing by email allows you to take as much time as you need on your turn. You can test out different ideas before finalizing your move, an option that just isn't practical (or polite) when playing in person. So, even though the game could take several days to play, it actually feels like it plays much faster. Never fast enough, really, because when all opponents are online at the same time, it can move like lightning. I'm very happy that such a lengthy and meaty game finally made it into my dimes.

Other dimes:

I still haven't found a quick and easy way to determine my total plays and total unique games for the year. I'll probably end up having to just count it like I did last year. When I do, I'll add it here.

Here's a link to last year's list. Thanks for reading!

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