Categories
Music

When online entertainment meets true rock legends

Rock music has been an inspiration for millions of people around the world. You can hear it being played is sporting events, in movies or even in protests. Through rock music, bands and solo artists have earned global recognition, created fashion trends and paid homage to those who have left their mark in history. Considering their popularity, it is no wonder that rock bands such as Guns N’ Roses have even become a theme for online casino slot games.

Categories
Board Games History

Senet: Ancient Egypt’s “Game of Death”

I read to my daughter about Ancient Egypt. She’s in love with the time period, people, gods, and especially the process of mummification. By happenstance, in the most recent book we’re going through, her interest in Egypt intersected with my fondness for board games.

SENET

Senet is reportedly one of the oldest board games, dating to around 3,100 B.C. It was a two-player-only game played on a board of 30 squares arranged in three rows of 10 squares. The board was typically made out of wood, faience, ivory, or a combination of those materials. It had such a significance to the pharaoh Tutankhamun that he had four Senet boards buried in his tomb, the most lavish being an ebony and ivory board that had a drawer to store the counters and sat on ornate legs carved in the shape of animal feet.

While a fixed set of rules has not been found, historians says that each player had five pawns and the object of the game was for the player to move their pawns, and eventually get them off the board. By all accounts, a seemingly abstract strategy game with no theme. However, with the afterlife being a significant facet of Egyptian life, their texts over time began to describe the religious importance of the game. The New York Post reports that a Senet board found in the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose, California continues that line of thinking.

Archaeologist Walter Crist writes an article about the new find in the The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, saying that the game is a reflection of the ba – the person’s life force that is separated from its physical body at death – as it passes through Duat, the realm of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology. The squares on the board are meant to represent the different stages along the journey. Crist also talks about the meaning of the word Senet and its connection to the afterlife.

The word senet in Egyptian means ‘passing,’ and may refer either to the game’s religious connotation of the ba passing through the duat or to the mechanics of gameplay, where playing pieces passed each other on the board.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0307513319896288

A fascinating breakdown of the board orientations and decoration, and an investigation of the Rosicrucian Museum’s Senet board is provided in Wrist’s article, which you can read further if you like: Passing from the Middle to the New Kingdom: A Senet Board in the Rosicrucian Museum.

Categories
Board Games

Board game pre-orders (week 7, 2020)

South African board gamers don’t often find the newest releases available locally. It can often be months after a game’s release in European and US markets before the games are up for pre-order here. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the pre-orders available from the local supplier of board games (Solarpop), and pick out some titles that may be of interest.


COOPER ISLAND

Cooper Island by is designed by Andreas “ode.” Odendahl and is a heavy worker (and tile) placement and resource management game that plays between 90 and 120 minutes if you know what’re you’re doing.

In the age of exploration the players arrive at a new home far away from their homeland. They try to settle the big island and each player tries to explore one part of it by placing landscape tiles. Landscape tiles grant resources and those are used to erect buildings with special abilities. Barriers on the island have to be removed in order to explore the island even further. Players build valuable statues and supply ships get them the supplies from the old world they need to be a successful settler on Cooper Island.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/269511/cooper-island

While the games sits at a modest 7.7 rating on BGG, the game has been hailed by some as one of the highlights of the year. Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules! summarizes the mechanics and gives his opinions:

The game does have a solo mode, but it is not included in the base box. Currently it can only be purchased on the Frosted Games’ website.


MARACAIBO

Alexander Pfister is a board game designer of some repute. While the likes of Isle of Skye, Mombasa, and OMG! are noteworthy, his 2016 opus, Great Western Trail is considered by some to be his best work. His newest title Maracaibo blends the mechanics seen in his previous games to produce a seafaring adventure that has the player circumnavigating the Caribbean during the 17th century.

The players sail on a round course through the Caribbean. E.g., you have city tiles where you are able to perform various actions or deliver goods to. One special feature is an implemented quest mode over more and various tiles, which tells the player, who chase after it, a little story.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/276025/maracaibo

Maracaibo has a rating of 8.3 on BGG and has been met with critical reception. Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules! once again provides a good summary and review of the game, its mechanics, and the rule book. It’s reportedly in his top games of 2019.

The does include a solo mode where the player goes up against an AI opponent. The game comes with a campaign mode, by accounts a basic story, which can work in both multiplayer and solo mode.


PIPELINE

Laying pipe has never looked so beautiful than in Ryan Courtney’s debut (hurrah!) game, Pipeline. The relatively complex economic strategy game includes elements of tile placement, network/route building, and resource conversion.

… in Pipeline you start a company in the oil business. You will focus on building a much more efficient pipeline network in your refinery, hiring experts that provide valuable benefits over your competitors, and managing the logistics of purchasing and selling your refined oil in the various markets. You will need more than strong economic skills – carefully crafting an interweaving network of pipelines just might ensure your victory!

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/256730/pipeline

With its limited turns and tight economy, a round of inefficiency against experienced players can be disastrous. Some people are turned away by this, while others relish it. The folks over at No Pun Included loved it so much, it was their game of the year for 2019.

There is no official solo mode for the game, but fan-made variants are available on BGG.


IN THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING

Burnt Island Games’ nautically themed Endeavor: Age of Sail is an acclaimed title from 2018, and it seems their 2019 effort may have similar appeal. In the Hall of the Mountain King has the player putting together a workforce to do hard labour in the bowels of a mountain.

Play as trolls rebuilding your abandoned kingdom under the mountain in In the Hall of the Mountain King. With muscle and magic, you’ll unearth riches, dig out collapsed tunnels, and carve out great halls as you raise the toppled statues of your ancestors to their places of honor at the heart of the mountain. Gameplay is driven by the innovative cascading production system. Timing and tactics are key as you work to restore your home to its former glory and win the crown!

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/265402/hall-mountain-king

Reviews for the game are thin at the moment but Dice Tower’s Tom Vasel bashes the gavel to give the game a silver seal of approval. Note that in the video he has the Kickstarter components, the retail version will come with cheaper tokens as was the case with Endeavor: Age of Sail.

Solo and coop modes aren’t in the base game and appear to be available in a separate expansion, Cursed Mountain.


SUCCULENT

Designer J. Alex Kevern has had more misses than hits with his two recent titles, ArtSee and Passing Through Petra. 2020 sees the release of Succulent, which certainly has one of the most beautiful box covers. If like me, your experience with the propagation and growing of succulents has been fraught with disaster, you may find more success in playing a game about it.

Your succulent garden is amazing! Through thoughtful selection, delicate pruning, and tireless care, you’ve earned a reputation as a master horticulturist. In Succulent, you compete against your peers for lucrative and prestigious projects that will cement your place as the community’s premier succulent gardener.

The game is played over a series of turns during which players collect succulent cuttings from their gardens along with water crystals and use them to complete projects which grant various benefits, including earning points. Most victory points at the end of the game wins!

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/299372/succulent

There are currently no reviews or even a rule book available. It seems the game may be slated for release in May of this year.


That’s it for this small, subjective list. It is subset of the pre-orders that are currently available from Solarpop. The full list is available here: http://www.solarpop.co.za/Pre-Order/

If you have any comments, drop them below. 

Categories
Awesomeness

Striking a balance between ingenuity and refinement

A lot of retro games are doing the rounds these days. The most celebrated video games are being re-launched to attract the 90s generation. These games are becoming successful because of the nostalgia surrounding them. Do you think the current generation finds these retro games interesting? I wonder.

Once a particular genre gets famous a lot of similar games flood the market because they sell easily. But what if someone wants to develop a simple and short game, play it safe, will it fail to compete with the graphic-intensive games from big studios?

No shortage of hit games

The last ten years proved to be instrumental in putting an end to the stronghold pop culture had on the game industry. Labels such as GTA, Uncharted, and Metal Gear Solid have compelled the industry to move towards creating cinematic experiences.

Game design took a more structured form in that different studios started associating themselves with a certain genre. This gave them the liberty to focus on any one aspect of game design. Creating a good plot became some developers’ priority while others focused more on gameplay.

These high end games in the triple A category gained instant success despite being super expensive. The market kept growing and games with fantastic visuals and heavy price kept coming in. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the perfect example of one such game.

This does not mean there is no space for the indie industry to grow. Not all the gamers look for graphics and a lengthy plot.

Can Indie titles survive against the triple A wave

Even if the triple A titles try to distinguish themselves from competitors either aesthetically or by changing gameplay there isn’t really much of a difference between the content of the game. There have been phases in the evolution of triple A games for example genres like mascot platformer, survival horrors, etc dominated for a specific period of time. So the games during a particular era end up being all similar.

So it falls to the indie titles to bring in new content. Now the focus of indie titles always has been ingenuity. They want to provide their customers a unique experience. The technological advancements have made it possible for the indie developers to rival the big studios in terms of production and create games of equal quality.

But what about the small indie titles that are falling too short of the quality triple A offers. In the same year as Super Mario Odyssey, a really good game Yooka-Laylee went unnoticed.

And that is the real challenge before the small indie titles. They must find a balance between the graphic quality and the story, which must not be too short.

Categories
Game Reviews

We Review: Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu for Nintendo 3DS piqued my interest when I first saw the trailer, mostly because it was unlike anything else in the Pokémon universe of games. A Pikachu with a grumpy, old-man personality? A Pikachu that’s a bit of a lech? It’s weird enough to prompt a closer look at the whodunit game from developer Creatures Inc. Will we solve the case? I grab my magnifying glass and don deerstalker hat to find out.

Categories
Site Announcements

Responsible borrowing with FNB

As much as I don’t like talking about it, the role of money in our society is monumentally important. It drives everything and as Liza Minnelli and Michael York famously sung in the (1972) film Cabaret, the clinking, clanking sound of money can make the world go round.

Life is hard. You know it, I know it. Sometimes we need a little help with our money, whether it be for a fanciful thing that we impulsively want or a long term family plan, or anything in between. If you want a thing but don’t necessarily have the money for that thing, you’re going to have to borrow that money.

There are multiple banks available to lend you money, and today I’d like to talk to you about one of those banks that I have a personal experience with — FNB. Full disclosure, this is a paid for promotion, however that doesn’t affect the opinions expressed here.

Before we delve into that, let me take a moment remind you that all of the features discussed below are available from FNB’s fantastic mobile App that is available on both iOS and Android. I use it for practically everything, and accessing the variety of features via the App is by far and away the most convenient approach.

One of FNB’s tenets is relevant and responsible borrowing solutions and their message of “The future of help is to help people, help themselves” can be seen in the different options available to their customers. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Categories
Awesomeness Science & Technology Video Clips

Don’t blink! Robot solves Rubik’s Cube in 0.38 seconds

This robot can solve a Rubik’s Cube in the blink of an eye.

Made by messieurs Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo, the robot uses several motors and two PlayStation Eye cameras. The researchers say with further debugging they hope to improve the time. See their development blog for info on the machine, including outtakes when things went awry.

[via Mashable]

Categories
Board Games

Roll, Player: Museum

Hello there. It’s dice to meet you.

If you’ve found this page, you likely have an interest in board games, puns, or museums. Luckily for you, I have two of the three things covered in this post. Be warned though, none of this commentary comes from an experienced board gamer; far from it. My history with modern board games started in August. This year.

As someone who has recently got into modern board games, the library of board games out there is staggeringly huge, in a multitude of types, categories, and involved mechanisms. I’m always on the look out for games that are easy to understand and will attract multiple plays. In our household, it’s either laying down trains across America in Ticket to Ride, scrambling to gold in The Quest for El Dorado, or building the best habits in Barenpark. From all that I’ve seen of this following game, I think it might check all the boxes of a fantastic gateway game.

Categories
Game Reviews

We Review: New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star

New Style Boutique 3 (known as Style Savvy in the US) is a game that sees you in the role of a fashion boutique owner trying to enfashion a lackluster town. It’s the fourth game in the New Style Boutique series (hence the 3, of course, because video game numbering sequence make perfect sense, don’t they, Street Fighter 2?). All of the games in the series had been very well received, so it was with some measure of curiosity that I approached this game to figure out what the attraction was.

Categories
Game Reviews

We Review: Super Mario Odyssey

The first true Mario game for the Nintendo Switch is finally here, and we get a chance to review Super Mario Odyssey in all its glory. After all, a Nintendo console would not be a Nintendo console without a Mario game to go with it. Got your overalls on? Then let’s jump straight into the review.