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Monthly Archives: January 2015

TV show of the week – The Legend of Korra

Korra

But after you first watch,

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Board games in 2015

It’s good to have a sense of direction if not purpose with a hobby and that’s why I’m setting myself some board game goals for 2015. This hobby has given me a lot so far. It has made me more social and as a result I met some wonderful people along the way. It has also forced me to deal with my anger and bitterness issues and although i still have some way to go in order to be at a point I’m happy to be, the difference I’ve seen is a powerful motivator.

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Ok, ok, this is my list of goals!

10 x 10 Challenge
As i mentioned in my Board Games in 2014 post the most enjoyable games proved to be the ones i replayed the most. So even though i failed in last year’s challenge to play 10 games 10 times the challenge gave me a sense of direction. This is my 2015 list for now. I’ve already played 8 of these games while 2 are completely new to me. Solo plays don’t count.

Events
Last year we had 3 major events with the Cyprus Board Gamers group. The 1st Cyprus International Tabletop Day, Cyprus Comic Con and the Saturday of Board Games. All three were fantastic events for us and i’d like us to build on them. Unfortunately this year, International Tabletop Day is on 11 April which is the Saturday before Easter so we will have to do it on a different date.  What we will also do is spread out more events over the year. Organising events that include a younger crowd is also on the to-do list.

Purchases
There’s only 1 game i know i’m definitely purchasing as soon as it’s released and that is Nemo’s War. I’m also expecting two kickstarter games (Two Rooms and a Boom and Omen: A Reign of War and Hemloch both of which i backed in 2014) to finally ship this year. Aside from that, my target is to buy just 2 games in 2015. The priority is to play the games i already own and also slim down my collection.

Community
Finally, if i’m to invest as much time in this hobby in 2015 as i did in 2014 then i might as well do some good with it. I think that the Cyprus Board Gamers Group has grown and matured enough so that it can run itself, at least more than in previous years. That will free up some time for other board game related ideas. I’m not sure how this will work but it can be sessions at care homes or at community centres for young people. It can also involve fundraising through playing. This is my most challenging goal but also the most rewarding.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Board games

 

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Movie of the week – Fucking Åmål

Fucking excellent

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30 Books to read in 2015

Capital_in_the_Twenty-First_Century_(front_cover)This post and exercise was inspired by James’ post Picking 52 Books to Read in 2015.

My main goal is to improve on 2014 (i.e. > 21) and reverse the downward trend of the last 3 years. A secondary goal is to read more non-fiction books. For this purpose I’ve compiled a list of 30 books, 18 of which are non-fiction while the remaining 12 are fiction.

A byproduct of this exercise is that it has forced me to think more about what i’m reading instead of taking the mostly impulsive decision after finishing a book. Also, while doing the exercise i had a look at my shelves and Kindle Cloud and added many books which i already own but have not yet read. I have highlighted these in brown.

I’m happy with what I’ve chosen for fiction. After the disappointing 2014 experience, this year I’ve shown preference towards the more established books instead of new publications.

My to-read list is on Goodreads and when i went through the non-fiction books in order to make a selection i realised that i didn’t have that many to choose from and so i decided to start looking for more options outside my to-read list.

Now i think it’s a better list with my natural preference towards historical books but i have also thrown in some which are a bit different such as Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing., Drugs Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs and A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul. Many of these books are on the long side so i’m aware that the aim of reading 18 might be optimistic.

Regardless of how it goes i have to admit that i enjoyed doing this!

Something i would like to do next in 2015 is to start a small book club with 1-2 friends but that’s another post!

NON-FICTION BOOK  Author
1 Drugs Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs David Nutt
2 Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing. Robert P. Smith
3 Puskas on Puskas Ferenc Puskas
4 Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty
5 The Gate Francois Bizot
6 War from the Ground Up Emile Simpson
7 Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power Steve Coll
8 King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa Adam Hochschild
9 A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul Fyodor Dostoyevski
10 The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger Marc Levinson
11 Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II John W. Dower
12 Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, The Damascus Incident and the Illusion of Safety Eric Schlosser
13 Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation Blake J. Harris
14 Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam Frances Fitzgerald
15 Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective Karen Barkey
16 Lawrence in Arabia: Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East Scott Anderson
17 Not Even My Name: A True Story Thea Halo
18 Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire David Remnick
FICTION BOOK  Author
1 Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides
2 Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro
3 Small Island Andrea Levy
4 Johnny Got His Gun Dalton Trumbo
5 All the King’s Men Robert P. Warren
6 The Ace of Skulls Chris Wooding
7 The Orphan Master’s Son Adam Johnson
8 The Catcher in the Rye J.D Salinger
9 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
10 The Fall Albert Camus
11 Sophie’s World Jostein Gaarder
12 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevski
 
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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Books

 

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Movie of the week – Still Mine

Not as good as Amour but good enough

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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Movies

 

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Board games in 2014

2014 was a great year. In terms of how many board games i managed to play, the growth of the Cyprus Board Gamers Group and its activities. Most importantly however, in terms of the new people i got to know and the relationships that developed through the hobby. It’s not just about the games but it’s about the people you play with.

On the negative side the hobby took up a lot of my time. Maybe too much time. Also, i bought way too many games and i now have a big stack of games i have either not played yet or want to trade/sell. These are both mistakes i made in my video game days and i’d like to avoid repeating.

Looking forward, I have some ideas i want to explore in 2015 of how can i better use the hobby but for now this post is only a retrospective for 2014.

GAMING IN 2014

RCTSArchipelagoSentinels of the Multiverse

There is a very high correlation between how many times i played a game and how much i enjoyed it overall. Most of the best experiences i had were with games i played 5 or more times. This proves what i already knew to be true. Buy fewer games and enjoy the games i already have. For example, Sentinels of the Multiverse only really came into light once i started learning the decks.

I logged a total of 393 plays in 2014 compared to 293 in 2013 and 182 in 2012. Partly it’s because in 2014 Game Night! became a weekly thing but it’s also because solo play took off.

Robinson Crusoe is now my favourite game to play solo and it’s probably the only one which i prefer to play solo rather than cooperatively. But it wasn’t just RC. I also loved my solo plays with Eldritch Horror, Sentinels of the Multiverse and Freedom: The Underground Railroad.

Finally i have to give special praise to Archipelago and Twilight Struggle. The former has become one of my all time favourite multiplayer games, giving Dominant Species a run for its money. But it was also a good year for Twilight Struggle which i managed to play 5 times. What a fantastic game this is when you have the time for it.

I played 41 games just 1 time while 28 games were played 5 or more times.

FAVOURITE GAMES IN 2014 (owned)

EH Freedom SuburbiaKemet

Robinson Crusoe
Archipelago
Eldritch Horror
Suburbia
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Twilight Struggle
Kemet

FAVOURITE GAMES IN 2014 (not owned)

Ghost Stories Level 7 Libertalia

Libertalia
Ghost Stories
Level 7: Omega Protocol

BIGGEST SURPRISE IN 2014

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Palastgefluster

BOARD GAMES PLAYED IN 2014

10 or more plays
Game Qty
Sentinels of the Multiverse 20
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island 19
Hanabi 16
Eldritch Horror 15
Cube Quest 14
Suburbia 14
Archipelago 13
Freedom: The Underground Railroad 12
5 or more plays
Game Qty
Eldritch Horror: Forsaken Lore 9
No Thanks! 9
Palastgeflüster 9
Linko! 8
Coup 7
Diamonds 7
Splendor 7
Blueprints 6
Forbidden Desert 6
Ghost Stories 6
Hapsburg Eclipse 6
Parade 6
Pick-a-Seal 6
Animal Upon Animal 5
Archaeology: The Card Game 5
CO₂ 5
Jaipur 5
Kemet 5
Space Alert 5
Spyrium 5
Twilight Struggle 5
Zulus on the Ramparts! 5
Cosmic Encounter 4
Dominion 4
Firenze 4
Munchkin 4
One Night Ultimate Werewolf 4
Qwixx 4
Terra Mystica 4
Battle Line 3
Click Clack Lumberjack 3
Eight-Minute Empire: Legends 3
K2 3
Letters from Whitechapel 3
Libertalia 3
Love Letter 3
Mission: Red Planet 3
Tales & Games: The Hare and the Tortoise 3
Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar 3
Brass 2
The Castles of Burgundy 2
Circus Train (Second edition) 2
City of Iron 2
Earth Reborn 2
Glory to Rome 2
Greenland 2
Hey Waiter! 2
Machi Koro 2
Mundus Novus 2
Onirim 2
Ottoman Sunset 2
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set 2
Quartermaster General 2
Revolution! 2
Summoner Wars 2
Zooloretto 2
1960: The Making of the President 1
After Pablo 1
Android: Netrunner 1
Archipelago: War & Peace 1
Camel Up 1
Caylus Magna Carta 1
Chinatown 1
D-Day Dice 1
Dicke Dämonen 1
Five Points: Gangs of New York 1
For Sale 1
Forceball 1
High Society 1
Infiltration 1
Ingenious 1
Isla Dorada 1
Jamaica 1
King of Tokyo 1
Kingdom Builder 1
Kingsburg 1
Level 7 [Omega Protocol] 1
Lifeboat 1
Lords of Vegas 1
Metropolys 1
Meuterer 1
Monopoly Junior: Party 1
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper 1
River Dragons 1
Samurai Sword 1
San Juan 1
Santiago de Cuba 1
The Settlers of Catan 1
Shadows over Camelot 1
Shipyard 1
Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game 1
Takenoko 1
Tales & Games: The Three Little Pigs 1
Tales of the Arabian Nights 1
Tichu 1
UNO 1
Zombie Dice 1
 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Board games

 

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Books in 2014

26 in 2012

23 in 2013

21 in 2014

Is this a trend?

I hope it’s not but it’s clear that other activities are taking up more of my time. I’m not sure how i feel about that. Books are the only thing that have always been a part of me. In bad times and in good times.

What is also clear is that i need to be more careful when choosing what to read, particularly when it comes to fiction. Far too many of the books I read this year proved to be disappointing. Only one fiction book, The Secret Garden, is on my Must Read list. I will need to do better “research” when making a decision of what to read. Also, it’s probably best to avoid recent publications and focus more on older publications. A question that i will be making myself whenever i decide on a book to read is why? Why this book?

For example.

I’m currently re-reading The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. Why? Because i loved it the first time and it’s even better the second time. Even though the events described take place in the 19th century they still apply today.

I’ve also started reading Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, by Francis Fukuyama. Why? Because i think the world is going through a lot of changes, especially Europe. Democracy as we know it is proving to be unable to provide the answers to the problems we are facing. Sometimes it’s even part of the problem.

I realise my answers are a bit lame. But they will do for now.

Only 6 out of the 21 books were non-fiction which is surprising to see as i seem to be getting more out of them. Granted, two of them were epic but i still could have read more.

It’s a shame that i only thought about my reading at the end of the year instead of during. That can change.

STATS

  • 6 out of 21 books are non-fiction
  • 1 out of 21 was an audio book
  • 1 out of 21 was written by a female author
  • 1 out of 21 was a re-read

MUST READ

SecretGarden82011_12_12_2_38169354Sleepwalkers

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hogson Burnett

This is the only fiction book to make it to the top. I read this twice, once with my niece in Greek and then the original English version on my own. Even in the poorly translated Greek version the message of this book comes through. The joy for life. A must read for children and adults alike.

A Life too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke, by Ronald Reng

A heart wrenching book about the life of the German goalkeeper, Robert Enke. He struggled with depression and in spite of the help from his family and friends he committed suicide at the prime of his life. If i was doing a Book of the Year award this would probably have been it. This is a very personal choice for me. Tremendous.

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, by Daniel Yergin

Now with the tumbling of oil prices in 2014 the timing of this epic book was perfect. What we are seeing now has happened many, many times before. It helps putting events into perspective.

Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, by Christopher Munro Clark

This book does exactly what it says on the tin. It does not cover the war but what led to it and whether it could have been prevented. A war i knew, and still do, very little about.

I also re-read The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes (Audio Book). Still a brilliant book.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

JackalanofficerandaspyrobertharrisGorky-Parkthe-quiet-american-penguin-classicsAll QuietGardenInto the Wild

  • The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay *3), by Chris WoodingReminds me of Firefly the TV show. I love this book series. Makes me feel i’m a teenager when i’m reading it. 
  • An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris
  • Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith – Re-read after around 20 years. A superb thriller.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
  • The Quiet American, by Graham Greene
  • The Garden of Evening Mists, by Twan Eng Tan – Close to being a Must Read
  • Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer (non-fiction)

RECOMMENDED

  • A Bracelet of Willow and Copper, by Garrett Alley
  • Thousand Cranes, by Yasunari Kawabata

INDIFFERENT/AVOID

  • Russian Folk Tales, by Ivan Iakovlevich Bilibin
  • Far North, by Marcel Theroux
  • Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore
  • Beauty and Sadness, by Yasunari Kawabata
  • The Sound of Things Falling, by Juan Gabriel Vascuez
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg (non-fiction)
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (non-fiction)
 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Books

 

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