Symphonic Rock, a sampling

by FHL

(Bear with me, first post. I will grudgingly accept post criticisms.)

This is a musical genre I’ve really enjoyed for the last 5 years or so. Wikipedia describes it as heavy metal with symphonic elements. I prefer the ones with female vocalists with a classical sound, near operatic sometimes.

It started with a haunting ballad from the soundtrack of Daredevil (of all places) and I just fell in love with Amy Lee’s voice. Then a driving duet on the same album, a combination of heaven and hell, with pounding guitars,  angry rap-like lyrics, and Amy’s angelic sound wrapping it up. I was hooked. Since then, I’ve sought out more like it. I find that I’m drawn to the sheer energy of the music as well as the smooth vocals. I tend to steer clear of the growly, “Cookie Monster” vocals, although I’ll make exceptions. Here are some of the bands that have captured my fancy. Continue reading

Spiel des Jahres: aka (Board) Game of the Year Award

by Bret

It’s summertime!! This means a lot of things. For one, it means school is out and I can write more articles here BUT it also means it’s time for the most prestigious annual Board and Card Game Award! Hooray!

I’m not a Board Game Geek like you, why should I care? Good question! It’s obviously not even an American award, how could it possibly even matter, right? Continue reading

Games in the Classroom

by Bret

Some of you may know that while I may blog at night, by day I am a teacher. Not that great of one but I try every once in a while. Being an avid board gamer, I naturally am always looking for ways to incorporate game play into the educating of my students. Lately, I have had some success.

No, it’s not Plinko. I’m not nearly that cool! Last week I wrote up my first session report for Boardgamegeek as a means to share my experience with other gamers, specifically other gamer teachers, who may want to use and hopefully improve on my use of games as a teaching tool. (we have a guild on the site specifically designed to share ideas as well). This one is using a game called Twilight Struggle (which happens to be the #1 Wargame and #3 boardgame overall right now) for my Current Events class for my Cold War Unit.

There I delineate my strategy, how it went and my thoughts and reactions. I’d really love to hear from anyone over here your ideas/thoughts on the subject (over here, you need an account to comment there, though that’s free:), especially regarding games as a teaching tool in general. What games have you used and how? How should games be used in the classroom or should they be used at all? What methods of using them are better than others?

Kulturblog Thrifting: What’s your greatest find?

by Bret

Ok, so this is mostly so I can brag, but also because I thought it would make an interesting conversation.

Last Friday I did my weekly run to the local Thrift Store and found the greatest treasure trove I have ever seen and perhaps ever will see. I walked down the aisle full of puzzles and boardgames (What did you expect? I’m the board game geek around here!) and found a neatly stacked row of old Avalon Hill games in pristine condition, just sitting there, all by themselves with no one to care for them. (Avalon Hill was the premiere game publisher for decades before the current renaissance instigated by the advent of the all powerful Internets) Being the cautious cheapskate that I am I quickly snapped a photo and sent it off to two of my gaming buddies. One of them promptly called me back and told me to grab them all quickly and without hesitation. I obeyed. Two games are missing some key components but otherwise they’re complete and in excellent shape.

Total price for 10 games–$30.

Total approximate value–$200-$250

Needless to say, I’ve been ecstatic even if a little unnerved that I have turned into my mother in a way I most hated as a child. However, what I want to know is what all of YOU think or have experienced with thrift shopping.

What’s your greatest find?

Is thrifting part of your lifestyle? Why or why not?

What’s the deal with our cultural obsession with finding a great deal?

Other thoughts?

Report from SaltCon

by Bret

A board game convention is a little different than most geek events. Usually there is a great focus on a lot of celebrity and spectacle. Although the larger venues have plenty of this (such as GenCon, Origins or the mother of them all in Essen, Germany) we at SaltCon are mostly just here to play games all day with old friends and total strangers who then become old friends.

Steve Poelzing, one of the main organizers (and a totally awesome guy) told me the goals they have for this event: Continue reading

Going to a Boardgame Con. What do you want a report on?

by Bret

This weekend is SaltCon and I’m gaming all day Saturday. There is an exclusive designers competition Friday that I can try to get some info on and tournaments Sunday, but the bulk of the convention is in the open gaming.

Door prizes will be handed out periodically throughout the day (I won one last year, hoping for more this year!),

Designers and publishers will be there demoing their latest games.

Local game stores will be there promoting and selling their wares.

A gaming library will be available full of games to check out for anyone to use.

Oh, and a LOT of impromptu gaming and friendship making will occur!

Last year at A Gathering of Strangers (the Con in the Summer) I had a fabulous time and even helped out at the registrar’s desk. But mostly I would walk up to old friends and total strangers alike and play a game with them. It’s a very friendly place. Everyone and anyone is invited to sit down and play whatever anybody brings as long as there is a space available. I encourage anyone in the Salt Lake area to attend if they can and see for themselves!

I’ll try to write a report sometime next week, but what I want to know here is what do YOU want to know about?

Say Anything: Or what you will

by Bret

Party games are an interesting breed. Their primary goal is not necessarily to make for a good competition, have an immersive thematic experience or even to provide an interesting game play. No, party games really just want you to have fun!

The problem is if these other elements are too scarce most people find the experience stale and lack motivation to make it enjoyable for themselves or anyone else. A good party game maintains balance, keeping frivolity as its primary goal while still providing an enjoyable competitive experience. Say Anything is just such a game. Continue reading