Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

International TableTop Day 2015: What We Played

Celebrated International TableTop Day with nine straight jam-packed hours of gaming, graciously hosted by my friend Tom. So much fun. Here’s what we played:

Started the day learning TakenokoI’d been hearing good things about this one for awhile, and it was pretty easy to pick up, and a lot of fun.


Followed up with two brief Mars Attacks: The Dice Game contests –


and head-to-head Star Wars Trivial Pursuit(Classic trilogy, of course.)


Then Munchkin Loot Letter.


And then our game crowd grew, so we played a tremendously fun game of Cockroach Poker (another first for me) –


– and an 8-person game of Tsuro that ended in a two-dragon tie. (I was the last dragon to actually lose.)


Even more folks showed up, so we split the party into three tables. I introduced a couple friends to Roll For It (which we played twice) –


– and then Zombie Dicewhich we played once with the standard rules, and once with the School Bus expansion.


I wrapped up my day with back-to-back games of Betrayal at House on the Hillwhich I’d never played before, and really enjoyed. The explorers triumphed over the betrayer both times, although my character died along the way in the second game.


So I learned three new games, played several that I don’t get to tackle very often, and spent a full day reveling with friends in dice, luck, strategy, and fun. It was almost like a mini-Gen Con – including the “Hey-it’s-almost-nine-o’clock-and-I-never-ate-dinner” thing. Not complaining in the least.

April 12, 2015 Posted by | Games, geek | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

International TableTop Day: What We Played

Spent about five hours gaming on Saturday, in celebration of International TableTop Day.

Started off with a three-person game of Love Letter –


– which we followed with Tsuro.


After that, another friend showed up, and the four of us took on Forbidden Island –


Alas, victory eluded us.

On to Pandemic – another first for me.


Another cooperative game – really enjoyed this. (And we were so freaking close to winning this one!)

Another gamer arrived, and we played a five-person game of Tsuro, and then something none of us had tried before: We Didn’t Playtest This at All.


I think we played three complete games in about 12 minutes. So bizarre and odd and chaotic and fun.


April 5, 2014 Posted by | Games, geek, Ohio | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gen Con 2013: Part Three – Friday, Aug. 16

Most days, my alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. “Sleeping in” is typically anything past 7 a.m.

So, exhausted as I’d been the night before, I wasn’t surprised to wake up just after seven Friday morning. Knowing that I had fallen behind on my running, and not wanting to lose too many miles, I went down to the hotel’s fitness center and did 3.5 miles on the treadmill. On the way back to the room, I ran into Jonathan as he was heading down for breakfast, showered, and headed down for my own meal.

I seem to think we met up with Dave at the convention center – he was staying closer than we were – and we dove into another day’s gaming.

We passed a good chunk of the morning having fun learning and playing complete games (not just demos) of Dread Curse and A Touch of Evil: Dark Gothic at their company booths.

And oh, hey: Giant Balloon Cthulhu.

Jonathan had an appointment to keep (I think), so Dave offered to teach me Dungeon Command, which he had brought with him. I had actually planned to attend a panel on game writing, but I was really caught up in playing and learning all these new games, so I ate the peanut butter sandwich I’d made – Yes, I did, in fact, bring a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter to keep in the hotel room so we could make sandwiches for during the day. Convention Survival Essential. – skipped the panel, and tried my best to rally an undead army to victory.

At some point, Dave and I also played a quick demo of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. Seemed neat and fun, but the demo was awfully short, and nobody got blasted into space dust.

I also thought I’d pop over to Jim Hines‘ mid-afternoon appearance in the authors’ alley so I could say hi and get my copy of Codex Born signed, but I got there about 15 minutes before his shift was due to end, and there was at least a half-hour line – Go Jim! (He also had one more signing scheduled, so I wasn’t stressed about it.)

Dave and I decided to take a break, then grab dinner nearby before our scheduled True Dungeon run at 7 p.m. I walked back to my hotel to pick up the bag of True Dungeon tokens that Jonathan had been given, and I snagged a 15-minute snooze while I was there.

After supper, we met up with Jonathan, Kato & Wendy outside the True Dungeon hall, and for the next couple hours, we fled and fought werewolves and worked our way through a wilderness of puzzling obstacles. I wrote a detailed piece on our True Dungeon experience for GeekDad, but the short version is that we had a lot of fun.

Stopped by the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons area for a few minutes afterward to say hello to Lolth –

– then walked solo over to check out the Munchkin Tavern and have a beer. Not long after I arrived, Kato and Wendy decided to come over, too. It was a nice night, and we sat out on the deck for awhile just enjoying the surroundings and the company. Picked up a set of pint glasses, which, naturally, come with in-game rules for use during Munchkin.

Before leaving, we met  John Kovalic, who was sitting at a table inside – bonus points to Wendy for checking Twitter and noticing that he mentioned being at the Tavern. He’s been a Friend of GeekDad for awhile, but this was the first time our paths crossed. Exceptionally nice guy.

We left after 11 p.m., and I headed back to my hotel, since Kato and Dave and I were planning to be in line early Saturday for one of the D&D Next playtest sessions. Jonathan was still in the hall gaming close to midnight.

This was one of the coolest things about Gen Con: The day ended (or didn’t) when you wanted it to. There were still hundreds of people in the convention center hallways and open gaming areas when I was walking past. I don’t know if the center itself stayed open 24 hours, but even if it didn’t, and you wanted to game all night long, there were possibilities everywhere  you looked: Late-night restaurants, hotel lobbies and bars and common areas.

Also making for an interesting downtown scene was that weekend’s motorcycle racing event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Lots of bikers – both of the chrome-and-custom crowd and the racing bike enthusiasts – cruising around and gathering on a few blocks closed off for the occasion. (One of which was right outside our hotel. From six stories up, though, the noise didn’t bother me.) Between the bikers and the game geeks and the costumers, there was some top-notch people-watching to be enjoyed.

Missed parts one and two of my Gen Con 2013 recollections? Here: Part One – Getting There; Part Two – Thursday, August 15.

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Current Affairs, Games, geek, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lazer Tag – pewpewpew!

My brothers and friends and I jumped fairly late onto the Lazer Tag bandwagon when my mom found stacks of the original Game Kit on sale at Kay -Bee Toys for $9.99 each. At that price, once we’d given our kits a test run, we went back and bought spares, and I think that may have been when my friend Adam picked up a set for himself, too.

Over at his blog, Adam recently posted some Lazer Tag comic book ads, mentioned the backyard battles we’d have with our friends, and naturally, brought up “the time John ran into a tree, full bore, at dusk.”

It wasn’t one of my finer Lazer Tag moments: We were playing at Adam’s house (Unfamiliar Territory: -1 to Perception checks), and it was getting dark. I was charging across his backyard, hunched over and bolting for the area beside the garage. Thanks to one of those big mercury lights, this meant barreling through a bright pool of light before disappearing into the cover of shadow.

Just inside the line of that shadow lurked a medium-sized tree. Fortunately, since I was rounding a corner, I was leaning into the turn, and I didn’t smash into the thing with my face – the trunk caught me right in the chest and stomach, knocking the wind out of me and sending me to the ground, flattened.

If I recall correctly, Adam saw me go running across the yard through the light, vanish into the shadows for half a second, and then bounce back into sight like a cartoon character punched by a boxing kangaroo.

Like I said – not one of my finer moments, but it reached “someday we’ll laugh about this” status about three nanoseconds after I was able to breathe again.

I’ll counter with one of my favorite memories from one of the two-on-three or two-on-four conflicts that my friend Aaron and I used to engage our younger brothers in.

Partly because we were James Bond fans at that age, Aaron and I loved to take our strategy and daring seriously, coming up with ways to distract and divert and bait the other team, since we were almost always outnumbered. We’d take turns climbing the shed, for example, or take up positions on opposite sides of the yard, each squeezed between the close-knit branches of the rows of pine trees there. (Pine needles are of no concern, you see, to a Lazer Tagger.)

So, one night, Aaron is over, and we’re playing Lazer Tag against my little brothers in the darkness of the yard and the shadow mazes of the house and trees. It’s probably June.

I have climbed the TV antenna next to the chimney and positioned myself atop the wood-slatted roof of our back patio, over on the southwest corner where I have partial cover thanks to the branches of a big birch tree.

Aaron is patrolling the yard, seeking to draw Nick and Adam from their hiding spots and bring them around the south side of the house, into my field of fire.

I rest on one knee and try to breathe without sound or motion.

I hear sudden calls in the night air, carrying from the front yard: Nick and Adam are chasing Aaron. Silently I count down: Three … two … one! And there’s Aaron now, his rifle in both hands, held low at his side as he rounds the house and looks up to my perch, even though he probably can’t actually see me. Nick comes charging behind, his red target light pulsing at his waist. I fire twice and hit him once.  At the sound of his sensor alarm, he turns his back to hide the target, looking for me over his shoulder.

Adam emerges from around the corner slowly, seeing Nick shaking his head in warning. I get one shot off at Adam before he, too shields his target.

My hiding spot is soon discovered: My brothers are getting better at this, and they’re not surprised as easily anymore.

Stay up here another second, I think, and there’s no way down that doesn’t involve Nick and Adam flanking me and peppering me with Lazer fire.

And then I’m all unfettered reaction, coiled and released, springing to my feet and racing across the porch roof to the north side of the house. My veins are afire, shot through with adrenaline, my brain iced and thinking only of escape.

I don’t stop at the edge of the roof.

My mind photographs, in that heartbeat, the hulking shadow of the neighbors’ house and the India-ink sketchings of tree branches against the sky. There is a tightening of my chest in the gasp of a moment when, without slowing, I set one foot high onto nothingness, and in the core of my mind a realization that there is no pulling myself back from the brink. The other foot follows with a leap toward Ursa Major, and I am in flight on the summer air.

The yard is dark and empty below, and I let my legs fold to cushion my landing, rolling in the dew-gathering grass, darting east toward the driveway with my pursuers in the darkness behind…

In the years since, I’ve gone back and estimated the height of the roof at maybe 11 or 12 feet, which isn’t high, really, but still – climbing up there again and standing at the edge, I know that if I had paused even for a blink that summer night, I wouldn’t have jumped. And I wouldn’t do it again today.

But for that one instant, the impossible was forgotten, the dangerous was unknown, and there was me and there was a leap.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | 1980s, Games, geek, Ohio | , , | Leave a comment

So, I’m testing the WordPress “reblog” feature. Also, Kato is an incredibly creative and fun DM, as evidenced by this post.

One Inch Square

Pillars are a common feature in many dungeons and ruins, and magical pillars can provide an interesting terrain feature for encounters.  I’ll show you how with a few supplies from your local craft store you can make great looking glowing pillars to enhance your next game.

To make four glowing blue pillars, you will need the following, all of which can be found at Michael’s craft stores:


  1. Fillable Pillar Set
    These are the core of the project.  The columns themselves are almost exactly 1″ by 1″, which is perfect for D&D, though the top and base are larger (around 2″).  Fortunately, they can be removed.  The pillars come in 4″ and 6″ tall (I chose the 4″ for my purposes).
  2. Ashland Blue Submersible LED Lights 4 pack
    To make the pillar glow, we need a light source, and these bright blue LEDs do the job nicely.  Of course, if you…

View original post 1,215 more words

January 31, 2012 Posted by | Games, geek, Weblogs | , , , | 2 Comments

Heading back home

San Diego and the gymnastics meet – which was only yesterday – already seem a long way behind me, and not just in that 400-road-miles way. It’s strange knowing that Jenn and Kelsey are already back home asleep in Ohio, but at the same time, I like that I’ve got this drive ahead and the time it will give me to mentally revisit and unpack my memories and thoughts from the trip.

So I left San Diego this morning around 8 a.m. after dropping mom & Jeff & Jenn & Kels at the airport, and over the next couple hours, I realized that I really love the Interstate 8 drive between San Diego and El Centro. I mean, there’s about 5 different kinds of mountains and vistas in there, and it would be awesome to spend a week just driving and shooting photos of the region at all different times of the day.

I mean, you go from scenes like that one up into these towering, rocky piles, and then there’s this absolutely breathtaking drop on the eastern edge, and you come twisting out of the hills to find the desert seemingly miles below (it’s less than 4,000 feet, though), and spreading to the horizon. This doesn’t do it justice, since I was almost all the way down when I took it:

I took a different route back after El Centro, though, and did most of today’s driving off the Interstates and on two-lanes that took me through some neat places like the Imperial Dunes recreation area –

– and a long stretch of single-intersection “towns” in southwest Arizona often consisting of sparsely-populated RV parks and maybe a restaurant and convenience store. Abandoned places, too: Clusters of homes and buildings just left vacant that made me wonder at what point someone last lived there or when it was that a person finally walked out those doors for the last time.

This afternoon, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting another fellow GeekDad writer, Jenny Williams, and her husband and family, who very generously and graciously arranged for tonight’s accommodations here near Prescott. Games – there was Super Circles, and Go Fish and TransAmerica and Chronology – and a marvelous dinner of lasagna and some brownies to die for, I tellya, and the whole evening flew by in a flash of nonstop talking and playing and fun, and once more I marvel that I have had the good fortune to come to know such excellent and kind and generous people who truly made me feel welcome.

We looked at the stars outside for a few minutes, and though they stretched from horizon to horizon, I could also imagine them over the smaller patch of sky in my backyard, bordered by familiar trees and rooftops. Home seems far away and still close in many ways.

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Games, geek, Ohio, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dice dice baby.

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

Even though I know I didn’t have to, I really wanted to buy my own dice for my upcoming return to Dungeons & Dragons. I had to run errands today after lunch, so I drove to the local comic shop where I picked up the d10s we use as Munchkin level counters, and yes, I will admit I was excited about buying my first set of polyhedrals in a couple decades.

So I get there, and the store’s closed. Because it’s Tuesday, that’s why. Well, I’m already out here, and even though I know full well that Jenn & I could come out tomorrow, I’ve had my mind set on new dice, and so I start trying to think of another nearby gaming or comic shop. (Yes, there’s a Toys R Us across the street, but I wanted to shop local, and I really wanted to build my set individually, mix-and-match style, and I figured a big store might only sell RPG dice by the matching set.)

The only comic shop I know by name is the excellent Bill’s Books & More in Canton. It’s well out of my way, and I’m not even sure they carry dice, so I call information and get their number, and here’s where I love the networking knowledge of geeks: Sure enough, Bill’s doesn’t carry dice, but they offer me the names of two shops that do – one of which, of course, was the Closed-for-Tuesday store in the plaza where I’m sitting in my car on the phone. But the staff at Bill’s also points me in the direction of Universal Comics, less than 10 minutes away and a local spot for Magic: The Gathering tournaments. Seemed just the kind of place that would have some dice on tap.

Aaaand, bingo: There they were, available in compartmented plastic bins and separately-packed monochromatic sets. The owner put the variety trays on the counter in front of me and I just started picking dice – one set for me, and one for Jenn, at her request. I tied hers together with a green scheme, choosing different patterns and shades and a transparent emerald d20 for good measure. My set was more scattershot – I just sort of went with what caught my eye – but I like ’em, and they’re my dice.

After totaling the purchase and doing some unneccessary but customer-friendly rounding down, the owner said, “I notice you like green,” and he tossed in a swirled green pip die with the store’s name in the ‘1’ spot. The guy knows how to earn a new customer.

At home, I spilled my new dice into my hand and rattled them on the desktop next to my also-relatively-new-but-bookmarked-with-sticky-notes Player’s Handbook.

I picked up the largest die – it’s deep purple-and-black speckled with bronze numbers – and what flashed through my head as I cast it onto the book cover was, “How cool would it be if -”

I didn’t even get to complete the thought:

All natural.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Games, geek | , , | 3 Comments


%d bloggers like this: