Monthly Archives: June 2014

How little i know

All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer is a book i first read a few years ago and again re-read last year. It’s the only book i read on the events that led to the overthrow of Mohammad Mossaddegh in 1953 and the establishment of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as the absolute ruler of Iran until the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

If you had asked me what happened it would have been very clear in my head. The American and British were instrumental in the 1953 events and Obama’s recent acknowledgment of the part played by the USA in the coup re-affirmed my belief. I should say, re-affirmed my belief in my own knowledge.

Yet it only took an article in the last Foreign Affairs issue, with the title What Really Happened in Iran, to cast doubt on the things i know. The author claims that the CIA and MI6 did play a part but that it was the Iranians and disaffection with Mossaddegh’s reign that led to his overthrow.

While reading the article i kept thinking “no, no that’s not how it happened.” But how i do know?

I’m basing all my arguments on a single book written by a journalist. Should i be comforted that it is critically acclaimed book? My absolute certainty about what happened is now simply “probably”. How do i fix that? Doing my own research is not a realistic option. By reading more books? How do i decide which books to read?

It made me realise how little i know about so many things i’m so sure about and it comes after reading this post I’m Just Realising How Stupid We Are.

I’ve learned that there’s a strong correlation between knowledge and humility.
People who spend 10 minutes on Google studying monetary policy think they have it all figured out, while people with Ph.D.s and decades of experience throw up their hands in frustration. The more you study economics, the more you realize how little we know about it.

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Antidote, Books


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Board games in 2014 (half year update)

The World Cup has taken over most of my free time. Watching it and also discussing it. I’m running a World Cup tournament and with (almost) daily updates it’s been a good change. Not complaining. Especially when the football is good.

The Great

What this means is that board games have taken a back seat for the time being. But the first half of 2014 has been a great year. My weekly core group has been meeting regularly and we have added another enthousiastic gamer to our group.

The Cyprus Board Gamers have also been doing fantastic. The meetings are now a weekly thing and they’ve been regular for the most part. We also organised a Table Top Day event to celebrate the hobby of board games which turned out to be a great success. One of my highlights of the year. Brilliant!

Last but definitely not least i’ve started playing with my family. Specifically, my sister and her daughters (6+ and 3+) and it’s been great. We’ve played Flash Point, Zooloretto and Forbidden Desert. To actively do something together where we are all participating. Doing stuff with my family has been a challenge for me and i hope board games will help. Maybe future posts will cover this.

What’s been bad in 2014?

From December 2013 and until May of this year i went on a buying frenzy. Board game after board game. Unfortunately i have a consumption addiction. I had it with books, video games, comics and now board games. It’s not about the game, it’s about the excitement of the buy. Something i’ve been trying to work on with mixed results. For example i’m very good with my books now as i’m almost at the point where i only buy a book at the time i’m going to read it. My collection of unread books has fallen dramatically.

Board games have been a disaster. Especially since there is only so much time available to play them. My time and other people’s time is limited and it does not always coincide. I expect that at least around 20 or so games i currently own will be traded or sold away. And i’m not just talking of the games i have already played….. Like i said it was not about the games but about the buying.

But enough of this.

What about the games? I’m only going to mention the games that are at the top of my list.

Games with > 10 plays

1. Archipelago – definitely the highlight of the year and a strong candidate for my favourite game of all time. It has everything i love in board games. Theme. Player interaction. Manageable uncertainty. An uncertainty which keeps everyone engaged until the end because you don’t know for sure who is winning. It tells a story. A story which the players create and not scenario based.

2. Robinson Crusoe – I hate the rulebook. I hate the FAQs. I hate the vagueness of the cards. But i love this game. Oh, I love it. By far and away the best solitaire game i’ve played so far. Chopping wood, making a pot or building a roof in order to protect yourself from the weather. These are menial tasks that have me at the edge of my seat. A game that leaves me (together with Archipelago but for different reasons) emotionally exhausted. I never thought feeling so alone and helpless while playing a board game would be so good.

3. Suburbia – Possibly my favourite engine building game. In general i dislike engine building games but this has proved to be the exception. Easy to teach. Accessible and clear rules. Plays fast and enjoyable to the end.

Games with < 10 plays

I’m finding it difficult to come up with a game i loved and have played < 10 times this year. This is something i noticed when i was doing my ratings adjustments on BGG (another post to cover this). Sure, there are games that i’ve quite enjoyed playing such as Firenze and Spyrium but they are not at that level for me yet. Maybe with more plays this can change.

I think if i had to choose one it would have to be Libertalia, a game i only managed to play once during the Table Top Day event. It’s a game that has stayed with me ever since that one time. Ironically, it was a game which i thought i would dislike after reading and watching reviews. It was a reminder to me that i should be more open minded and give games a chance or two before making my mind up.

2014 has been great. My plans for the remaining of the year? Play more and have more fun with fewer purchases.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Board games