Grace on December 18th, 2014

8/23/14 – 11:05pm Greenwich Mean Time

I like my bed at this Keswick YHA because it’s a single twin by the window with a tiny shelf and a bed light. There is a set of bunk beds in here as well, but their occupants are elsewhere. And there’s a sink in the room! And the window overlooks a river! So it’s quite cozy.

The Lake District is incredible. Of course it is.  The bus ride from Penrith rail station was flooring. The mountains remind me of the Scottish highlands, but since this is further south everything is more developed. The slopes are embroidered with hedges and knotted with sheep. So it doesn’t have the same raw vastness of Scotland, but oh, is it spectacular. The sun lavishes some serious affection on these hills. On the way here, I had to just put down my camera, lean my head back against the seat, and stare. There’s too much to take in! In places like this, it’s best to lie like a stone in a river, letting the beauty flow over you. And, like a stone, let the moss of a place grow into your pores so that wherever you go, you will always wear the stains of that life.

8/24/14 – 8:17am Greenwich Mean Time

If Scotland was glory, this place is glory covered in a quilt and made comfortable.

lake district


WilliamU on December 18th, 2014

One of the games I have been working on is called Dragon and Rider. It is a 2 or 4 player game where you take on the role of either a Dragon or a Dragon Rider working with a partner (or yourself in the 2 player game) to bring down your opponents in aerial combat. The gameplay was really fun but the cards were ugly.

-Fire- Dragon and Rider Card Template 4 player

Ugly Card

This card was so ugly and complicated it made the game feel like a mental exercise instead of a fun card game. It was even more ugly before the picture. So how did I fix it? I removed all information from the card except the information that was needed to make good decisions.

New Simple Card

New Simple Card

This card only tells you what kinds of things the Fire Attack will do. Depending on how well you work with your partner (without talking) this attack will be more or less effective. All the details for the effectiveness of the card are listed on a separate card. Only one player needs to understand this card.

4 Player Die Chart

Complicated Card

 

This card gives you all the information that was left off of the new cards. This chart also helps keep the rule book small and easy to understand. My goal was to convey the rules of the game in a simple and easy to use way. Are these new cards better then the old ones? Post in the comments with your opinions.

Disclaimer: The artwork is not the final artwork. It is used for prototyping purposes only. All of these cards are subject to change.

Grace on December 7th, 2014

I’m always the one who puts the lights on the tree.  The task used to fall to my mom, but once I got old enough to have an eye for that sort of thing, I took over.  I wanted it to be me hanging the light.

I play Christmas music and I start with garden shears.  Giving myself a hand cramp, I squeeze the shears and bite off the branches that are going limp or yellow.  Then I sit back on my heels and size up the crowded mess of fir, deciding where to make holes.

Needles fall thick.  Sections of the trunk appear.  It seems wrong to trim perfectly good branches but the tree is so stuffed with green that there’s no room for light.  I can’t hang the lights until there’s enough emptiness for them to fill.

The tree looks hurt when I finish.  The holes I’ve made stare at me accusingly.  I start unwinding the strand of yellow lights and twisting them around branches.  I cluster light in the holes I made, all the way up the tree.  My hands get splotchy with sap.  When I’m finished, I step back.

The once-bare places shine.

“and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?” -Herman Melville

Light cannot enter us until there’s enough emptiness for it to fill; until we are scraped empty and trimmed bare.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9

bokeh christmas


WilliamU on December 1st, 2014

Sentinals of the multiverse

Lots of people have been asking me what games I would recommend to people looking to start getting into board games so I made this list. I would not say everyone should get all of these (except maybe Sentinels of the Multiverse) but they are a good place to start. Before buy any game you should do a google search to find out more about it. Most games you can find video reviews and rule books so you can see if it is the game for you. There are a lot of good board games but not everyone will like everything. This list covers a wide variety of different types of games so you can find one you and your game group will like. If one or more of these games looks interesting just like on the name and it will bring you to the BoardGameGeek page on it. BoardGameGeek.com is like the Wikipedia of board games.


  1. Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor. Each player plays as one of ten heroes, against one of four villains, and the battle takes place in one of four different dynamic environments. If you want to be a Super Hero this is the game for you.


  2. Cash and Guns In an abandoned warehouse a gangster band is splitting its loot, but they can’t agree on the split! It’s time to let the guns talk and soon everyone is aiming at everyone. The richest surviving gangster wins the game!

  3. Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette’s hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!


  4. Resistance is a party game of social deduction. It’s inspired by Mafia/Werewolf. Players are either Resistance Operatives or Imperial Spies. They must depend on each other to carry out missions against the Empire. At the same time, they must try to deduce the other players’ identities and gain their trust.


  5. In King of Tokyo you play mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and strange aliens – all of whom are destroying Tokyo and whacking each other in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo. Need I say more?


  6. Flash Point Fire Rescue The call comes in… “911, what is your emergency?” On the other end is a panicked response of “FIRE!” Moments later you don the protective suits that will keep you alive, gather your equipment and rush to the scene of a blazing inferno. The team has only seconds to assess the situation and devise a plan of attack – then you spring into action like the trained professionals that you are. You must face your fears, never give up, and above all else work as a team because the fire is raging, the building is threatening to collapse, and lives are in danger. You must succeed. You are the brave men and women of fire rescue; people are depending on you. This is what you do every day


  7. In Pandemic, several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world! The players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand.

  8. Bang “The Outlaws hunt the Sheriff. The Sheriff hunts the Outlaws. The Renegade plots secretly, ready to take one side or the other. Bullets fly. Who among the gunmen is a Deputy, ready to sacrifice himself for the Sheriff? And who is a merciless Outlaw, willing to kill him? If you want to find out, just draw (your cards)!”

  9. Forbidden Island is a visually stunning ‘cooperative’ board game. Instead of winning by competing with other players like most games, everyone must work together to win the game. Players take turns moving their pawns around the ‘island’, which is built by arranging the many beautifully screen-printed tiles before play begins. As the game progresses, more and more island tiles sink, becoming unavailable, and the pace increases. Players use strategies to keep the island from sinking, while trying to collect treasures and items. As the water level rises, it gets more difficult- sacrifices must be made.


  10. Ticket to Ride With elegantly simple gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in under 15 minutes, while providing players with intense strategic and tactical decisions every turn. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.


  11. Volt Robot Battle Arena is a tactical game of robotic combat. Be the first player to score five victory points. Players earn victory points by having their robot on the active control point at the end of the round or by destroying opposing robots. You must use your wits to out-think and out-maneuver your opponents to win!


  12. In Tokenoko, the players will cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow one of the three species of bamboo (Green, Yellow, and Pink) with the help of the Imperial gardener to maintain this bamboo garden. They will have to bear with the immoderate hunger of this sacred animal for the juicy and tender bamboo. The player who manages his land plots best, growing the most bamboo while feeding the delicate appetite of the panda, will win the game.


  13. Star Realms is a fast paced deck-building card game of outer space combat. It combines the fun of a deck-building game with the interactivity of Trading Card Game style combat. As you play, you make use of Trade to acquire new Ships and Bases from the cards being turned face up in the Trade Row from the Trade Deck. You use the Ships and Bases you acquire to either generate more Trade or to generate Combat to attack your opponent and their bases. When you reduce your opponent’s score (called Authority) to zero, you win!

  14. In Settlers of Catan, players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect these resources (cards) – wood, grain, brick, sheep, or stone – to build up their civilizations to get to 10 victory points and win the game. This was the game that got me into board games.

  15. In Dead Panic, each player takes on the role of one of eight unique characters, which have special abilities. Players work together to survive in a remote cabin, at the center of the board, against waves of the undead that close in from the edges of the board. If the players can hold out, survivors bring pieces of the radio needed to call for rescue. Once rescue arrives, it’s up to each player to leave the safety of the cabin and make it out alive! I know the couple who made this game personally any they are really cool. I don’t always like Zombie games but when I do this is one of them.

  16. In Small world, players vie for conquest and control of a world that is simply too small to accommodate them all. Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs, and even humans, who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth.

  17. Munchkin Go down in the dungeon. Kill everything you meet. Backstab your friends and steal their stuff. Grab the treasure and run. The essence of the dungeon experience… with none of that stupid roleplaying stuff. You and your friends compete to kill monsters and grab magic items. And what magic items! Don the Horny Helmet and the Boots of Butt-Kicking. Wield the Staff of Napalm… or maybe the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment. Start by slaughtering the Potted Plant and the Drooling Slime, and work your way up to the Plutonium Dragon… Fast-playing and silly, Munchkin can reduce any roleplaying group to hysteria. And, while they’re laughing, you can steal their stuff.

  18. In Citadels, players take on new roles each round to represent characters they hire in order to help them acquire gold and erect buildings. The game ends at the close of a round in which a player erects his/her eighth building. Players then tally their points, and the player with the highest score wins.

 

Hope that gives you a starting place as you explore the exiting worlds in board games. To pick what game to play from this list just decide which story looks like it would be the most fun to spend an hour or two in. Your local board game stores should have many of these games in their demo library so you can try them out before you buy them. Enjoy!

BethM on November 8th, 2014

A few days ago marked six months since I arrived in Uganda this year. In some ways, that number feels accurate—small-town Texas life and plentiful Starbucks and “fitting in” to a sea of faces seems very removed. In other ways, it doesn’t seem like half a year at all. Wasn’t it just recently that I was a weepy mess with a 50-pound carry on in line for the security checkpoint? Time…what a strange phenomenon.

Only two and a half weeks from now, I will be making a return trip to the States for a six-week home assignment over Thanksgiving and Christmas. I feel very ready (and increasingly excited) for that visit. In light of the upcoming departure, I think I’m also feeling tired—as if I’m preparing to let down and have some serious spiritual, physical, and emotional rest. In the meantime, I’m striving to continue to be engaged with my students as we finish this term. Now more than ever, my two lives seem to be competing for my attention. Pray that the Ugandan one wins out for the next two weeks!

While Thursday marked my 6 months, it was also another day at school. In the morning, I headed over to the “baby” class—our four-year-olds! These kids might have me wrapped around their collective fingers. I love the enthusiasm of these little ones, their pure wonder at the ability to create, and their ecstatic hugs and shouts of “Auntie Beth! Auntie Beth!” as I arrive. I had recently been given some art and craft supplies from a visiting team, including a large bag of multicolor beads. So I pulled out some string, set bowls of beads on each desk, and told the kids (via translation) that today we would be making necklaces.

The response was extreme excitement, and there was loud chattering in Luganda as I distributed the materials. When the kids had gotten started, I retreated to the class teacher and asked what they had been saying.

She smiled. “They have said, ‘Auntie has made a miracle!'”

While there’s probably a bit (lots?) of theological error in that, I so enjoy seeing the joyfulness of their response to a seemingly simple activity. Every time I am with those kids, I catch another glimpse of Jesus’ heart in calling us to become “like little children.” How simple, and yet beautifully profound.

This week, I am thankful for miracle beads. Miracle beads, and eighteen kids in bright-colored necklaces.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 18:2-4