Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nerd Storm

I'll start off by saying today's post is going to be purposefully rambling. I've had an entire weekend of nerdery, and the only thing that one can do after such a weekend is bask in the afterglow.

 Went shopping yesterday for alleged Christmas gifts. I say alleged because when you hand select your gift -- no, let's go further than that -- when you stand next to the person buying the gift for you and obsess at great length about the storage capacity, color scheme, and screen protector options for said purchase, you are no longer going to be the recipient of a 'gift.' You are taking part in a transaction for a good to be received at some future specified date. Not that I'm complaining. The gift is pretty awesome.

From there, I went to hang out with friends and played "Brass," a European style board game our little group has been trying to play for about a year and a half. Check out the game for your self on this link if you're curious but I'll give you the thumbnail. Why has it taken us a year and a half to play this game? Let's just say it's unusually complicated even for our board game nights.



Brass is a resource management game simulating the growth of industrialization in Northern England around Manchester in the 19th century. It comes with a board showing the canal and rail links between the towns of north central England, a staggering pile of multi-colored tiles and an equally impressive bag of colorful wooden cubes. So far pretty standard stuff for your typical Euro-game: more or less on par for Power Grid, Puerto Rico, or Settlers of Catan. What really pushes Brass to the front though are the rules. Even allowing for the triplication of pages for to the three language in the directions, the booklet has about the same number of pages as this week's Time's magazine. As the video I've linked to states, the rules seem almost eager to flaunt their complexity, written in vague machine language: this block will be given to that player on the basis of which industry is closest unless that route should pass through Lancester.

Amusing: the number of 'quick start' rules available that do little to cut down this complexity. Eventually we resorted to YouTube just to see what the board was supposed to look like if we actually played a turn.

Unfortunately no one can be told what Brass is, you have to see it.

But eventually we figured it out and played through an entire game. It was only in the closing round that we realized everything was proceeding much too quickly and realized we should have been using all of our cards at the ends of the periods. Oh yeah, there are cards as well. But even radically truncated the game isn't too bad once you cleared away all of the clutter. Fun was had. We just wished Will Wheaton would get around to the reviewing the game on Geek & Sundry.

Today, the Hobbit. I've already put down a few thoughts about the length of this movie, but in terms of actual word of mouth from actual people who've seen it: it's supposed to be pretty good. I'm seeing it at the Natick Imax, full 3-D, 48 frames per second, enormous screen, so I imagine my next post will be a page or so of gibbering while I process the spectacle of the thing.


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