Apr 8, 2021: Mapping Made Fun

Thursday night is games night. Unless it isn’t games night, in which case it’s entirely something else.

But this time it was games night. And the gang was assembled for a brand new game for Daniel to completely ruin. Which, of course, he did. But we don’t want to burn this one because it was really good fun and we declared it a learning game so Daniel’s win doesn’t count for shit.

It would have counted, I hasten to add, if anyone else had won.

And by anyone else I mean, it its entirety, just me.

So we played Cartographers which, in its physical form is a game in which you draw your moves onto a piece of paper handily provided along with the game. But in digital form it’s actually better – in a way – because it uses little tiles which you can place on the grid instead. Which is way better than drawing your moves. But also allows you to have second and third and fourth thoughts about what move you’re doing and shift them around. There’s a more final feeling to having put pencil to paper. You’re committed. You’ve made the move. Here, we were just sliding things about until we were happy with it. It lacked a sense of urgency that I think the physical version would have.

So maybe we’ll cut that out next week when we take it for a play again.

The game is a bit like Patchwork and the like. You’re placing – drawing – polymino shapes onto a map and trying to fit them into certain scoring parameters which change each round. You’re also hoping that a monster card doesn’t come out, because then your opponents get to place – draw – a set of tiles on your sheet which, unless you manage it well, will cost you all the points you’ve scored in the round.

Hypothetically, of course.

It’s bloody simple to learn and play. Which means there’s a lot going on under the surface which you have to manage.

I did not manage it well.

I think, in part, because I was watching Carole’s moves and pointing out when she did things that wouldn’t score her points rather than focusing on my own board. And that is my excuse. And I will stick to it. Until the end of time.

In the end I came last. Nik snuck third, Carole scraped second by one point and Daniel just had a score which was conveniently higher than the rest of us. He checked all our workings, we never checked his. Which says more about us than it does about him, or something. One of us is more trusting than the others I think. There’s nothing more annoying than someone marking your workings as correct, especially when you haven’t asked for anyone to check it, but for them to just casually bang some points in with gay abandon.

I can only assume that some next-level cheating has taken place on his watch and he won’t stand for it no more. Or something like that.

Anyway, I was last. Twenty points behind the top spot. And I really thought I had the game in the back at one point. But then we added up the first round score and I was the only one with a minus figure. But then later on I was once more buoyed and thinking I was doing alright.

But you know how my story ends, week in and week out.

Maybe next Thursday… who knows?

Me. I know. I will be last.

Apr 3, 2021: It’s Like Easter But Viewed From A Distance

I ordered a couple of Easter eggs with our shop this week. We did have some – Carole bought them earlier in the week, and we swore they would last until the weekend.

They did not last.

So I thought I’d order some new ones.

Which I did. And when I ordered them, I remembered Carole saying that when she bought the ones we were absolutely going to keep until the weekend but that we absolutely ate within minutes that there were not many to be had in the shop. So my hope was not held out.

And, lo, so it came to pass.

Our Easter eggs were downsized.

We ended up with a chocolate egg each that was best described as a mini egg trying hard to be something better. A Malteser egg, with a Malteaster bunny in it.

But even the bunny was minute.

Everything was tiny.

The delivery guy asked me if everything was okay with my shopping, as I unloaded it from their baskets into my (appropriated laundry) basket.

No! No it isn’t. How can it be acceptable to have smaller Easter eggs delivered. How is less chocolate a viable substitute for chocolate? This is like when I ordered a large jar of Nutella and got a very small one. And yet if I order something else and they don’t have it, I get as many substitutes as it takes to make up that amount of stuff. Who can forget the gazillion small blocks of cheese we got in place of two larger blocks.

And yet with chocolate that rule does not seem to apply.

With chocolate you can do without. Have a smaller amount and a really fucking disappointingly small chocolate rabbit making you question the amount of effort that even went in to making the mould for it being worth it in the first place.

The tiniest fricking eggs they could find.

No. Everything’s not bloody alright with the shop.

I just said, “Yes. It’s fine, thanks.”

Apr 2, 2021: The Missing Days

I should probably address the missing and/or late days in this blog.

When I started this blog it wasn’t meant to be a daily thing. It just became that. And it stayed like that for years and years and I wrote something daily for well over 1000 days and all was good. It’s not quite like that anymore, because things are very different at the moment.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but not a lot happens at the moment. Lockdown isn’t even as exciting as it once may have been. It’s just, now, the limbo before a return to work in six weeks. Assuming, of course, that all manner of new strains don’t pour in from Europe and the rest of the world like tea through a strainer in the next month or so.

Or that we don’t just all suffocate under the huge amounts of litter left behind by all the bellends who are – and who would have predicted this – behaving fucking ridiculously with various lifts in lockdown ruling.

But other than that, there’s not a lot to talk about or write about or whatever. Sometimes it’s good to write about my mental state or things that we have done, other times it’s just hard to get a word count of anything worthwhile to even post. So it’s definitely got harder over the past few months. And it’s probably not going to get much easier until the world reopens or, at least, I’m back at work and venturing into the established craziness of a post-lockdown world.

I’m really looking forward to writing my blog on the whatever it is of June when all the social distance restrictions are lifted. Because you know I’m going to have a late shift at work and town is going to be an absolute clusterfuck of people losing their shit. I can’t wait.

I mean, I can.

I can definitely wait. But I’m willing to bet that’s an exciting bus ride home. Or an exciting wait for the bus at the very least.

So I’m not going to write as much over the next few weeks. I will more do it as and when the mood strikes, rather than force myself to put finger to key when I have nothing to say. If I keep trying to coming up with things to ramble on about for a few hundred words, then there’s a danger these posts will become about my mental health and the damage I’m doing to it myself by trying to force myself to write things.

Basically, what I’m saying is that now is not the time – and it hasn’t been for a while, in all honesty – for daily internet based ramblings about my life and what’s happening in it. Because nothing’s happening in it of any great note.

Not to mention the fact that Peppa has, over the past year of lockdown, really taken a hatred to anyone typing anything at this table and quite a lot of the time it’s hard to write anything without the danger of losing a finger. We ended up with some Frubes on a weekly shop a while back because Peppa ordered them while trying to attack me.

These are interesting times.

If you’re not writing a daily blog, that is.

Apr 1, 2021: Give Peas A Chance

One of the Kickstarter things that I backed way before the pandemic has arrived recently. And it’s been sitting atop the fire, allowing us to bask in its joyful embossed artwork and silver lettering, the benefits of thinking “ah fuck it” and splurging for the collectors edition. Which also, excitingly, seems to be a numbered thing. But I don’t have a very exciting number, it has to be said. Not a first, and not a last. Somewhere dead centre. Nobody cares about dead centre.

Anyway, we have Genotype. Which is game based around Mendel’s experiments with sweet peas and the dominant and recessive genes therein. Which really appeals to my inner nerd for a variety of reasons. Partly because I can bandy around words like dominant and recessive, and partly because I bloody loved learning genetics at school and this has brought back happy memories of classroom shenanigans.

Because I’m a fucking nerd, apparently.

Anyway, Genotype is basically a game in which you roll some dice, and then get to pick the dice you want to match certain genetic traits on the pea plants you’re growing. The more complicated the genetics, the more points the pea plant and the harder, in some cases, they are to get.

It’s that simple.

And our first playthrough was simple.

And I won.

So simple is good.

But I can already see there’s some strategy at work, particularly if we play this in a setting with more people to go at. With the two of us, we had quite a nice choice of dice to pick at, but with more players taking more dice, choices will become limited and shafting other people (or pea-ple) for you own points gain will definitely be up for the taking. Not that you can just claim random genetic traits out of spite. If you can’t use it in a pea you’re growing, you can’t have it. That way you’re not just taking the more elusive dominant or recessive pair just to stop your opponent from nabbing it and scoring more points than you. Presumably because these pea experiments were done by monks, and monks aren’t known for the backstabbing tomfoolery in the face of potentially losing another game.

I really enjoyed the game. It seemed ridiculously complicated at first – there are loads of initial moves you can make before you get down to the genetics, and it seemed like it was going to be a nightmare to actually learn in.

And it’s not. It’s a fricking doddle.

And I won.

So that’s a bonus.

I don’t think I’d win again when we have a rematch. We’ve both got the measure of it now. And I have shuffed the cards a lot better so hopefully there’s a mix of low and high cards appearing in a random fashion rather than the low and high alternating pattern we played with which benefited and hindered us as we played.

We’ve already thought about playing it when Games Nights are back in their physical form, but we’ve equally said that it’s not one that the kids should be allowed their crisp-eating, pop drinking hands on. Mainly because it’s so bloody beautiful and exquisite that the thought of Addy screwing up one of the cards in her tiny hands makes me weep. We’ve even talked about playing it with Daniel when he’s back in the country. If he’s ever allowed out of Austria and Europe’s lockdown systems. And can make it through our heady covid barriers on this side.

Then he can play.

He cannot win, though. He simply cannot.

It is too beautiful a game to burn.

Mar 30, 2021: Full Batman

Suddenly, the silly old fucker who hit the car at the weekend wants to share his details with us.

It’s almost as if a call from the police, and a letter from his insurance company saying they think he might have been inolved in an accident is some sort of call to action.

Especially as, by all accounts, it was an ex-partner who arranged his insurance. And she’s not happy.

And neither is his son, who has been in touch because he just wants everything to be sorted out.

Meanwhile, Carole is still calling for blood.

And rightly so.

Because if this guy is incapable of getting a small car into such a large gap, then he probably shouldn’t be on the road at all. And we’ve since found out he’s been banned for drink-driving.

So that’s fricking super isn’t it?

Carole’s current sticking point – and everything to do with the car is now sorted pretty much, they’re coming to assess the damage later in the week – is that the police phoned her and left a message saying that he’s really upset and sorry for what he’s done and that’s all, thanks bye.

She’s not happy about that.

Honestly, if she had a more tragic backstory I think she’d be going full Batman on this guy. She’s got straight back onto the police – who have so far not managed to speak with her – because she wants everything thrown at this guy. He drove off form here without any intention of ever admitting this shit. He’s only coming clean now because he was caught by our neighbour out and about after the accident. If she hadn’t seen him do it, we’d be none the wiser other than the fact that someone scuffed the car. That’s all we’d have.

It couldn’t be any clearer that he’s not sorry about this in the slightest. He’s just going through all the motions because he’s been caught out and we had all his details to give to both the insurance people and the police and it’s all come down on him.

Carole is not willing to take just an apology. And certainly not just an apology that’s both forced and via a number of third-party sources.

She will not rest…

I, meanwhile, will be checking any of her Amazon deliveries over the next few days to make sure there’s no military-grade Kevlar body suits in there…