Fake New Year’s Eve

Every year my D&D group has a tradition of gathering together for New Year’s Eve and playing games all night long until we fall asleep when the sun comes up on the New Year.

As we got older it became a little inconvenient to hold this event on New Year’s Eve itself as many of us had other parties that we wanted to go to on the coveted night of December 31st.

So we changed when we held our party to whatever was most convenient for us! This year it was on December 27th to 28th. We were unfortunately forced to choose between one of our friends from San Diego and one from San Jose in who could attend as they had opposite schedules of availability. We ended up choosing the San Diego friend as we see him less often with an additional gathering at the San Jose friend’s house on January 3rd.

After greeting each other with hugs we started the night off with a game of Pirateer where we collect treasure and booty. We moved on to a game of Brittania that lasted… 6 hours. Quite long for a game that is supposed to last 2 hours. Brittania is a Risk-like game that simulates all the invasions of Britain from the Romans to the Normans. It’s a lot of fun, but sometimes it takes FOREVER.

After that we got some pasta for dinner (at 11:30PM) and played a few fast games of Tsuro. This was a new one for me. It’s kind of like the old video game Snake where you don’t want you guy to go off the edge. You have tiles that you lay down in front of your token as you move around a 6-6 map. The tiles decide where you go and also where any of the other players go once they touch that tile. You try to get your opponents to crash off the edge of the map while keeping room for you to continue playing tiles until the board is full.

Next up was a drinking version of Liar’s Dice. That’s the game they play in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie where they bet on how many dice are underneath each person’s cup. In the movie they only play one round, but in our version we play several rounds. If you lose one round, you take a die out from your cup and roll with one less die. You lose the game if you lose all your dice. You can probably guess how we added in a drinking game aspect to Liar’s Dice. Whenever you lose a round, take a drink. When you lose all your dice, finish your drink.

We played Resistance which is a Mafia-like game. The game’s complexity isn’t in the roles like in Town of Salem, but more in how information is gathered. We had five people playing and with five people there are three Resistance members and two Spies. The Resistance wants to complete three out of five missions. I was one of the two Spies and our goal was to sabotage three out of five missions.

If a Spy goes on a mission they can choose to sabotage it or not. Everyone votes on proposed teams for each mission and the Resistance attempts to figure out who the Spies are by seeing which missions failed and who was on the missions that failed. Meanwhile, the Spies sow strife and discord amongst the Resistance by spreading misinformation and lies. I’m quite good at that so my Spy partner and I won.

At some point we played a little bit of Hearthstone and unlocked the Fireside Gathering card back. It’s awesome and I love it, even though I lost all three matches I played to get it.

We went to sleep around 4:30. I woke up at 8:30 and everyone else was up again around 10. We ate some hot breakfast and moved on to the last game of Fake New Year’s, Zombies.

Zombies attempts to simulate most zombie movies. The hordes are coming and you and your friends either have to eliminate the zombie threat or make it to a helicopter and get out of town. We play with a lot of house rules that usually result in everyone dying to the zombie hordes. This time only I died early on in the game. Four other people would have made it to the helicopter, but my Spy partner from before tripped someone to stall the zombies. The tripped person valiantly fought off the horde against his will and bought time for the other three to escape.

We ended the game extravaganza and headed back home. A great night of fun for everyone (except the San Jose friend who couldn’t make it)!

-Mister Ed

Advertisements

Orthodontist Visit

The office of the third orthodontist I've visited.
The office of the third orthodontist I’ve visited.

I went to the orthodontist today for a third opinion on a procedure I’m considering.

I have a crossbite where my lower jaw doesn’t line up correctly with my upper jaw.

It’s not visible to other people unless I point it out and it doesn’t affect my eating.

The issue is that the problem only developed recently and it irritates me.

I feel like my mouth just doesn’t close right and I hate it.

My mother had the same problem and it eventually became painful and she had to have surgery to get it fixed.

I’ve gotten conflicting opinions on whether the jaw pain my mother experienced was related to her crossbite or to grinding her teeth, but I feel those two could be connected. I’m certainly grinding my teeth more now that they don’t fit together correctly.

Fixing my crossbite would require surgery. I’ve been to three orthodontists and they all agree that I’ll need to see an oral surgeon in addition to getting braces to fix the problem.

My family is worried about the surgery for practical reasons. The health benefit isn’t clear, its expensive, and no one will notice but me.

Surgery also has possible risks of excessive bleeding when they take out a piece of my jaw so that the upper and lower halves match.

That risk is controlled by doing the surgery in a hospital, but its still on my mind a little bit.

I’m also concerned about whether I will enjoy the surgery once it is finished.

My crossbite developed when I was about eighteen years old. The reason it bothers me is because I remember when it wasn’t like this.

But if my teeth were always like this would I care? Probably not.

And what if after the surgery my teeth don’t fit exactly like the way they used to?

Then I would still feel like my mouth wasn’t closing right and I’d have spent thousands of dollars for nothing.

I’ll keep doing the consultations and planning steps for the procedure for now, but I haven’t made a definite decision on if I’m going through with it or not yet.

Bleh! Why can’t my dental problems just be candy related?

-Mister Ed

Warlight

My friends and I have been playing this online game called Warlight a lot lately.

Warlight is a lot like Risk, but it allows for almost every custom rule that Risk has ever had and more. The basic rules of the game are the same as Risk though, so if you’ve played Risk you will understand how Warlight works.

Warlight is played through your web browser at this site, on a tablet or smart phone with an app, or through Google Hangouts with an app.

You can play Warlight with your friends, with other random users on the internet, or with computer opponents.

The coolest thing about Warlight is all the different maps on the site. The traditional Risk Earth map exists among many others. There are larger maps of Earth, smaller ones of specific countries and regions, maps of established fantasy worlds (Westeros is a favorite of mine), and tons of other fantasy maps.

Warlight has so many awesome maps because it allows anyone to submit a map to play on the website. There’s tutorials on how to do it along with a free software program to design the maps in.

My friends and I latched onto the idea and I created a Warlight map version of one of our D&D campaign worlds. We’ve enjoyed playtesting it a lot and will release it soon. The map is called Gurutama. If any of you readers end up trying Warlight, maybe you’ll end up playing on my map once its released!

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

I played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with my friends last night. We’ve been playing for over ten years together. We started when we were all homeschooled by our parents during what would’ve been elementary school. After we all split apart for college we ended up playing through Skype for a little bit and later through a cool web application called Roll20. I love playing D&D with my friends because the game is capable of almost anything in the fantasy genre. We can slay dragons, run away from orcs, obtain powerful magic weapons, destroy those weapons if they turn out to be evil, sail the sea as pirates, etc. It’s a whole lot of fun.

Although D&D is great for me, it has a history of being misunderstood. I’d like to clear up a few of those misconceptions with this blog post. I’ll talk more about my own experiences with D&D in forthcoming posts.

D&D started off as a spinoff from board game simulations of wars or war games. Risk is the most popular one that many people have heard of, but there are hundreds of others. A few of the other big ones include Axis and Allies, Diplomacy, and Small World. War games are pretty simple at their heart. You get a set of pieces and you use them to simulate a battle. The rules might tell you how to simulate the D-Day Battle for Omaha Beach, but nothing’s stopping you from using those same pieces to simulate the Battle of the Bulge. My friends and I did the same thing with green army men when we were kids. We’d separate them out into teams and have little skirmishes on the living room floor. Occasionally an air strike would be called in and we’d drop a red foam ball on the troops. Whichever army men got knocked over were casualties.

At some point two war gamers, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, decided they were tired of only doing simulations of real battles. They wanted to simulate the same battles that happened in the high fantasy books they read. Battles with swords, dragons, and magic instead of guns, artillery, and aerial bombardments. Gygax and Arneson worked on a set of rules for several years until D&D was released on January 26th 1974 (I know the exact date because I’m on an email list that informed me of the 40th anniversary a couple weeks ago). The game featured heavy influences from the Lord of the Rings books which were popular at the time. My dad was one of the first people to start playing D&D. There were 1,000 games made in the first printing run in 1974 and my dad snagged one of them. He played throughout college and passed the habit on to me and my friends.

D&D gained a poor reputation in the 70’s and early 80’s. This was largely due to Christian groups viewing it as a form of devil worship just as similar groups burn Harry Potter books today. D&D reached its peek negative reputation with the suicide attempts of James Egbert in 1979 and 1980. Egbert played D&D and newspapers all over the nation sensationalized his death. The media claimed that he had killed himself because his character had died in the game. Everyone overlooked that Egbert was severely depressed. His story was “adapted” into a book and later a movie staring Tom Hanks called Mazes and Monsters. These negative stories of devil worship and suicide piled on with more accurate stereotypes of pimply nerds without social skills playing the game in basements. D&D was, and still is to some extent, something that people are embarrassed to admit they play. I didn’t tell my wife until a month or two after we’d started dating because I was afraid she’d judge me for it. As an inside observer, I’m unsure how much of this reputation has gone away or not.

So that’s the history of D&D, but what exactly is it? Well, it’s a roleplaying game similar to video games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Fable.

D&D has many key differences from video games though. In video games the player is often restricted to only one character and may never change who that character is (there are exceptions in video games, but as a general rule this stands). In D&D the player can be whoever they want.

Video games decide actions based on programmed random number generators. D&D uses dice, a low-tech version of the same thing.

Video games have amazing graphics. D&D relies heavily on imagination to visualize the events taking place. If you’re lucky, you get fancy miniatures to play with like this one that I painted.

A metal mini glued to a plastic base that I painted myself.
A metal mini glued to a plastic base that I painted myself.

Video games have one plot. If you play the video game again you will be taking essentially the same actions once again. D&D has as many plots as you can imagine. And if you use the same plot, you don’t have to resolve it the same way. If the plot was a bank robbery you could do it with a shotgun the first time or with a hacking program the second time.

Video games have restrictions that seem illogical. The ones that annoy me the most are when my character can’t jump or walk up small slopes. The game does this to keep you on the set path/plot that the designers created. In D&D you can go anywhere. A gorge isn’t necessarily an impassable obstacle to your character in D&D if s/he can jump really or fly over it.

And most importantly, D&D is always played with your friends. You and your friends can go on great adventures and explore new lands just like Bilbo, Conan, Harry Potter, or any other fantasy character you can name. It’s a great way for adults to use their imagination just like when they were kids pretending to be heroes.

More D&D posts to come in the future!

-Mister Ed