June 2012

This week guys from our board game group played Eclipse; it was the first time for the 5 of us who played. OK! I now have a new favorite game. I’ll review it more later, but suffice it to say that even though after 4 hours we called it (only ~halfway through; 4 of 9 rounds), it felt like less than an hour had gone by!

Initially the game looks forbidding, as it has something like 900 pieces. However the rules are straightforward and very easy to follow. The game pieces are designed so well that after awhile you can pick up a new one and the basics of what it does without reading. Some of the mechanics are like Through the Ages, which works for me. Combat rules are simple, but fun. Not a lot of downtime in the game. The review linked above has a lot more detail.

Now I wonder how I can get Dylan to play this with me on vacation next week? I think he will like it, as it has the territory building and dice/combat aspect he can relate to (ala Risk). No, this game is really nothing like Risk. But I can use it as a comparison for Dylan as Risk is one of his favs. :)

This past weekend Preston and I had a great time “primitive” camping in the Green Ridge State Forest, about 100 miles west of our house. “Primitive” means no facilities other than a fire ring and a picnic table are provided. WOW! This was idyllic. Most sites are 1/2 mile from nearest neighbor. ~44,000 acres and only 100 camping sites. This is definitely my idea of camping. We drove for about 2 miles on a dirt road to get to our site. You could drive for ~50 if you did a full loop of all the sites. You can see the dirt path (off the dirt road) that leads into our site in one of the pix below.

We stopped first at the Ranger HQ, and the ranger there (and staff) were very nice and helpful. I asked him to recommend good sites for a 5 year old. He crossed off the ones near the C&O canal with steep dropoffs. He asked me what kind of vehicle we were driving. He smiled when I said “minivan” (its NOT mine; and it does hold a lot more gear than my car), and crossed off some more sites. The site he suggested was secluded, and huge! Lots of space for Preston to run in, but also lots of shade to setup the tent. The site was about 0.7mi from a creek, and Preston had a great time catching tadpoles and throwing rocks into the water. Beautiful setting. And the best part? NO CROWDS! No screaming kids, barking dogs, loud music, or neighbors’ banging pots in the morning.

I got up early (before Preston!) and made a pot of coffee and the only sounds I heard were the birds. SO much nicer than the State Parks, which pack everyone in like sardines. They have an atmosphere akin to camping in the parking lot of a daycare center. My only regret is that I didn’t find this place sooner.

One of the last-minute, spur-of-the-moment things I picked up was a butterfly net and bubbles at Target. That was the best $6.00 ever spent! Preston wore himself out chasing bugs all over the site, and in the creek. Preston also decided at the last minute to take some of his blocks and a train set. I said, “Sure! we have room in this van! They also kept him occupied in camp while I did other things (like try to rest in the hammock – until he found me).

We are going back in ~ 3 weeks. So looking forward to that!

A few weeks ago our board game group played “Conquest of Empire“; a remake of a “classic” game from 1984. This definitely required a lot of space! Fun game, though after ~4 hours we called it without completing. I didn’t win. I had fun, though! :)