The Road goes ever on and on

Last night I had the pleasure of playing The Lord of the Rings board game for the very first time and I had a really fun time with it. The game mechanics were really engaging since they involved just the right amount of tactical skill necessary to make it feel like the players were in control throughout the course of the game, but also mixed it with enough blind luck to keep things suspenseful. The cooperative nature of the game was also radically different from any other board game that I had ever played before which also made for a very distinct playing experience.

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Well, I will say that my experience playing this game was fun, however, I did find myself perpetually confused for the majority of it.  At first I was very excited to play this game with goofy cards and characters that I assumed would be much more simple than the Lord of the Rings game. Then, I opened the rule booklet and was substantially less excited to read through all those pages, until I realized that they were hilarious…

Munchkin is interesting for not only its concept but also for the obviously light-hearted nature of the creators.  This game has a mixture of humor for all age ranges and a seemingly very high re-playability rate. I found myself feeling very competitive while playing which is usually a sign to me that it is a good game because I do not have a naturally competitive nature.

I would say the thing I enjoy most about this game is the humor behind it.  However, I feel that having the opportunity to play again, now that I pretty much understand the rules, would allow me to appreciate this game even more!

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A-Mei: Chinese Pop Culture Icon

Pop culture around the world is influenced by fashion, trends, and music. In the world of music, lyrics and images are composed by artists to become the soundtrack of their generation. A well-known figure who started to blossom in the 90s era is A-Mei, a Taiwanese pop singer/songwriter. She made her big break in 1996 when she released her first debut album, “Sisters,” which was done through her contract with Forest Music. This album skyrocketed to the top of the charts, selling 1.08 million copies around Taiwan. In an attempt to translate the song titles from the “Sisters” album into English from Google Translate, here is the translation.

1 So you do not want anything
2 sisters
3 free
4 impulse
5 水蓝色眼泪
6 Jianai
7 betrayal
8 love to not receive
9 seriously
10 sky dreamer
For some reason, song number five would not translate. Way to go, google.

After recording a number of additional soundtracks, A-Mei’s popularity became so widespread that she began her concert tour around Asia in 1998. That same year, she was awarded as the most popular singer in Asia by Billboard Magazine. During an interview with Billboard, she explained how her interests in music started with her family. “My mother sings, my sisters sings, my father used to sing. It’s a family thing. It’s really something that we do together with our tribe, something important in our culture.”

A-Mei’s career seemed flawless and of impeccable reputation until 2000, when she was asked to sing the National Anthem of the Republic of China at the inauguration of Taiwanese President Chen-Shui bian. Since A-Mei was not of Chinese origin, Chinese leaders were angered and banned her from visiting mainland China, and Taiwanese citizens questioned her patriotism. Because of this, A-Mei’s contracts with Chinese companies were cut, as well as the silencing of her music on Chinese radio stations. In response to this controversy, A-Mei stated, “I had to suffer the consequences of a decision that was not made by me. I should have been more discreet in my behavior, which impacts so many people.”

But that disappointment did not stop A-Mei from pursuing her goal of being a successful entertainer. A couple years later, in 2002, she was given the award of “Favorite Artist – Taiwan,” which she won again in 2004. Along with many other awards and recognitions that A-Mei continued to receive throughout the years, it did not stop her from sweeping the Golden Melody Awards in 2010. Despite her long-time presence in the Asian music industry, A-Mei’s domination is outstanding and incredible. She won Best Female Mandarin Singer, Song of the Year, and Best Mandarin Album. It was then that she was considered “The Pride of Taiwan” once again, despite her controversial political past.

A-Mei’s influence in Chinese pop culture has been tremendous and monumental. Her successes despite her hardships have continued to break through due to her dedication and love for music. A-Mei shows that she can not only conform to the times and remain at the top of the charts, but that she can do it excellently, without letting set backs and failures put her career on the backburner. This is a prime example of an iconic Chinese pop culture leader who affects her fans and the world to this day.

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Munchkins. Oder mehr wie die meisten verwirrend Scheiße je.

Oh man, what an odd and confusing game. It’s fun after you figure what you’re doing, which won’t happen for a while if it’s your first time around. The good thing is I won. Munchkin is like an RPG based card game after several massive doses of DMT. Okay, okay, I may be exaggerating. I’m not sure if we started playing correctly, because the rules in the rule book are confusing and do anything but help you get started.

A frustrating thing about the game (or the somewhat made version we played) is that until you a draw a race or class card, you cannot do anything but accumulate “treasure” cards, which are basically buffs to enhance your character. I would love to go more into detail about the game, but I cannot even…find…the…right…ahh *head explodes*. Here is an official description of the game:

Munchkin is the mega-hit card game about dungeon adventure . . . with none of that stupid roleplaying stuff. You and your friends compete to kill monsters and grab magic items. And what magic items! Don the Horny Helmet and the Boots of Butt-Kicking. Wield the Staff of Napalm . . . or maybe the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment. Start by slaughtering the Potted Plant and the Drooling Slime, and work your way up to the Plutonium Dragon…

Yeah, I’ll let you figure it out. But really, after you get the hang of things, its quite fun. You even have a chance of getting crabs. You think I’m kidding? Do I look like a clown to you? Hmm? Am I here to make you laugh? Sorry, I just recently watched Goodfellas. If anything, a comparison that may make sense to some, is that Munchkin is like the Eve or FFXIV of board games. I think something that may make the game more interesting is if  a player who gets cursed were to take a shot of (insert liquor of choice). Anyway, my eyelids are getting heavy and my brain is shutting down, I’m out.

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Merrily Playing Lord of the Rings

Contents of the Lord of the Rings Board Game

As we began to choose which board game to play, I sat down at the table with the Lord of the Rings board, mostly because I was intrigued by the multiple, intricate boards.  When more students came into the room, it seemed as if most students stayed as far away as Lord of the Rings as possible.  The board game does look a bit overwhelming and exhausting, but I decided to go ahead and try it out.

Evan started off by explaining the goals of the game and the meanings of the different boards as well as the multiple types of cards.  I then chose my character card: Merry.  Immediately, I became confused about the significance of all the tiles drawn from the black bag.  I also did not understand the use of a gollum card.  However, after asking many questions, I actually began to understand the game.

Once I understood the game mechanics, I started to enjoy the collaborative nature of the game.  A player cannot win the game by being selfish; selfishness would entail keeping cards to themselves or not offering to use shields for a certain card. Although some people may dislike that the game does not center around each individual player, I really like this.  In general, I am not that competitive when it comes to board games.  Yes, I like winning… but I also love helping others to defeat a common goal.  Overall,  I am glad I choose to play Lord of the Rings even though it seemed like the unpopular choice.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Adventures of Fatty the Hobbit

So tonight, I got a chance to play the Lord of the Rings board game. I was apprehensive about playing this game, partially because the game did not seem all that exciting, but mostly because Munchkin sounded like a much more interesting game. Nonetheless, I ended up in the Lord of the Rings group, and while it was a little more engaging than I had feared, it’s probably not a game I’ll be wanting to play again in the near future.

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Catan, Revisited

Nobody ever stopped scheming

At tonight’s gaming session, Nick, Rachel, Kevin, and myself decided to try playing Catan again, and we were not disappointed.  In part because we fully understood the rules this time around, strategy seemed to take center stage.  People built colonies specifically to block others, players joined two separate roads in the center to steal back the longest road card unexpectedly, people were more guarded in trading resources that weren’t assigned high-value numbers on the board.  I even tried to win the game as a specialist, focusing the bulk of my empire around a brick tile, and expanding out to the 2:1 brick trading sea tile.  The strategy seemed to work well when the robber wasn’t standing on my brick factory, which seemed to happen far too often.

I know that tonight was supposed to be about collaboration, but Catan ended up being nothing but cutthroat competition.  I thought my time playing the iPad version would give me the strategic advantage to finish on top (and in fact when Rachel finally won I was standing at 9 points), but I was the hapless victim of the only pseudo-collaboration to be found: a conspiracy to keep the robber on my brick tile at all costs.  All in all it was a much more strategic game than the first time we played,  but not at the expense of fun.

My only regret is that I am the only one who can see through Rachel’s strategy of deflecting all suspicion onto myself while she quietly plans a massive road-building effort to win the game.  Despite my sincerest efforts to warn my fellow players, she pulled off the maneuver yet again, and the game ended exactly as it did last time we all played.

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