I've only played this a handful of times, but it's a pretty fantastic expansion to the original Settlers due to creating multiple avenues to earn big points, thus reducing to some degree the random dice roll variance along with creating the ability for someone who in regular Settlers would have no chance to catch up from an early poor start to become competitive late in the game.
In the game that i played yesterday (with three other people), there was a point when Danny had 11 points to my 6, Caylie's 5, and Josh's 4. From a Settler's perspective, i was in pretty dire straits because my attempts to connect two of my segmented roads into a single road got blocked on both sides by Caylie and Danny. In regular Settlers, this would have pretty much sealed the deal - Danny probably needed two turns at most to get to his 13 point win, and there would be no way for me to build settlements and cities and/or development cards for the Largest Army card fast enough for me to catch up.
But with Cities and Knights, i had done a decent early job of building my City Upgrade Calendar to the point where i had one metropolis and was poised to steal the metropolis that Danny had - doing that would have been a four point shift (since Metropolises are worth 2 points). Josh, who had early in the game lost his city to a barbarian attack and was thus struggling to build anything in the early and mid-stages of the game found a way to build a settlement and then a city on a resource with an 8 dice roll, and from that he suddenly surged the ability to do a City Upgrade that gave him the third metropolis and the ability to take a resource of his choice from the bank if nothing rolled his way. In the span of a single round, then, Josh was able to build multiple roads to take away Danny's longest road, and in the next turn i was able to use my permanent 2:1 trade in from my first City Upgrade to do the Upgrade that would steal Danny's metropolis.
It was around this point when we had to cut the game off early because we had already been playing for about three hours and Caylie and Danny had an appointment, which was a shame because the dynamics had shifted so much that the game was starting to get really interesting. Because of all of the shifts, I ended the game with 9 points (two cities, two metropolises, one settlement) and was working towards the two simultaneous goals of beefing up my knights to earn victory points from barbarian attack and seeing if i could get to the point where i could steal the third metropolis. Danny ended the game with 8 points, which i think was 3 cities and two victory points he earned through barbarian attack. Josh, who had spent most of the game at 3 points, ended the game with 6 points, and i think Caylie also ended the game with 6 points.
And with my nine points, i had built only four roads total.
Having multiple avenues of early development with great returns in the late game and having to monitor all of those things creates a pretty fascinating depth to the game and its strategy. The barbarian adds a great sense of urgency to the whole thing too, something else that you have to make sure you allot resources for to successfully defend so that you don't lose a city and to try to gain easy-ish and permanent victory points.
One thing that we all felt was that four people makes the regular board feel very crowded. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it did force early strategy to be less about building on the board vs trying to get lucky with my city upgrades and deploying and activating a lot of knights.
The other thing that i feel is that the game needs a method of victory point tracking. With the many different ways to point earn and with how critical that is for certain progress cards which affect, for example, "anyone who has the same or more victory points than you", i want to look at some sort of scoreboard as opposed to having to recount cities, metropolises, random victory points, etc. every time. I may try to come up with something like that, along with doing something more sensible with the knight representations for easy knight strength/activation tracking and barbarian strength tracking. I kind of want to replace all of the knight pieces with a single six sided die (inactive basic, strong, and mighty, and active basic, strong, and mighty). I'm not sure about the point and strength tracking. We'll see what i come up with.
Rather oddly, May felt like a long month. Typically that happens because there's a lot going on, but in this case it was sort of the opposite. Not that i wasn't busy in May between spending way too much money setting up and buying things for the apartment as well as writing music for Tulane's first halftime show and my percussion quartet, but it has the comparison of March and April to go against when things were So Fucking Crazy. i felt like i was constantly running 100mph leading up to my trip to Hawaii. once i came back, i had times when i felt like i could actually spend time relaxing in my new place either reading or playing a casual video game not as a mental break but because there was nothing Terribly Urgent happening.
A lot of my spare energy went into the apartment - more energy than i've ever put into a living space in my entire life. I've written briefly about why, but one aspect i didn't discuss is how my current job has steered me towards this more too in the fact that i have a lot more top-level responsibility for the visual design and branding of the TUMB - we're in final discussions about how to do our new uniform design. I'm the one that's pushed for a rebrand of our main TUMB logo as well as the look of our newsletter. When Mark and I are discussing show design, the visual integration with the aural which involves movement, color, props, all of that is stuff that i've developed at least a pseudo understanding of.
But more than the direct correlation, it's an attempt to have a more meticulous attention to detail about even the smallest and seemingly insignificant aspects. Things that are aesthetically pleasing visually combined with a sense of practicality as well as a feel that is truly my own - a more professional display of my personality, if you will, applied to the home.
An easy example: i bought an storage ottoman to go in my living room. Put it underneath my mounted telly set up. I bought it not only for storage, but also so that it could hide the outlet where all of my telly components that are on the wall right above it are plugged in. Problem was, the ottoman's feet were only about an inch high and the outlet was higher, so you could still see it visibly standing up or sitting on my futon. I thought about trying to buying some sort of single-shelf something to rest the ottoman on, but then i got to thinking that maybe the legs could be replaceable, so i went online to find replacement legs. Found 4-inch legs that matched the style of my ottoman's current legs. $40.
I spent $40 on furniture legs to visibly hide an electrical outlet.
The living room is close to finished in terms of how i want it to look and what i have to buy, which is good because i need to stop spending money on it. There's a loveseat i want to buy, but i may hold off on that one because the apartment is okay without it right now. I do want to buy a new coffee table, and probably a rug to go underneath it. I haven't been happy with the choices i've seen online - at least not exactly. i'm not sure if i'll be able to find something i want from a store around town, but i may.
In any case, it's at least good to be done enough with the domestic life so that i can put the energy that i need to back into the other independent projects i have going on. The percussion quartet is slow-going, but i'm making progress. I need to do some minor updates to the website. I need to put energy into the PNW trip i'm taking and the organization of all of that. And I need to start thinking of the new commission i got for Liminal Space and plan the spring 2014 concert.
Full speed ahead. Just not in a way that will get me a ticket.
there are still things that are backburner-y that i need to accomplish, but i'm taking steps to accomplish them by finally putting serious work into my home workspace. installing the SSD that i bought to replace my desktop hard drive, going to put some RAM once the hard drive is transferred over, as well as grab the old hard drive out of my broken desktop.
this week the evenings will be productive in music ways. i need to get that revision of Timpani Forces to Jim, i want to put out the contract stuff to other Jim for Evans, i'm going to revise the contract for the portland percussion group, and i'm going to put serious work into composing for that.
i still need to do apartment stuff too. This week i want to buy a bed, or at least do the serious shopping for one that i've been meaning to do for the past couple of weeks - it's been tough because of everything else going on, but now i'm just getting lazy. Well, not lazy exactly, but i've needed a bit of an unwind, some time to do Nothing except watch episodes of Doctor Who over and over again. i'm getting back into the surge of "get more done get more done get more done", and this week will be the first step in that.
it's odd to say, but i need to put some energy back into social media. i've gotten fairly lazy about all of it - lj, fb, g+ - and given how important some of that stuff is to me because of how important the people are to me, that's not good. I keep on forgetting about the friends page and thus get backlogged and then skim everyone. I glance at fb fleetingly, which is fine with me because i don't like it that much, but that's starting to happen with g+ too, a product of me not putting energy into organizing my stream since g+ has changed to its multi-column format, and i don't want to neglect that space since i like it so much.
In general, i need to be more disciplined with my time. I still get stuff done, but i still manage to waste a lot of time. It might be time to create an actual Plan so that i can redevelop less lazy habits. I was in that space when deadlines were pressuring me and i did great. Now that deadlines aren't looming quite as heavily, i'm falling back into a lax. I need to find better balance on that, like where i was a year or so ago before everything went all panicky with one of the busier and more stressful (but ultimately successful) years of my life - i think that that took a long term toll out of me that i need to get over and push forward on. I still have way too much ambition to let my natural slacker be off-balance.
which i guess isn't as bad as it could be, but i'm picky. i could be doing a lot more, and i should be.
this entry meandered a bunch didn't it? i suppose i should go back and edit and make it all pretty and stuff, but i think instead i'm just going to hit "post". it's that sort of day.
I didn't see Bruce Timm's name on the credits and it was because of this i discovered that after the cancellation of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice that Timm basically quit. Wiki has some basic hints that Timm is in negotiations to come back in some capacity which i hope is true - it will make me incredibly sad if he never has anything to do with the the DC universe anymore.
I have to say that i therefore watched Superman Unbound with a small degree of prejudice. The new head producer has been partnered with Timm for a while, but i still wanted to snark at the fact that the animation style was so different and there were some flow issues with some of the dialogue and fight sequences, but the truth of the matter is that this wasn't a bad film, particularly given my more recent appreciation for Superman as a character after the excellent Superman vs. the Elite. It had some pretty fantastic character moments, the resolution to the primary conflict between Superman and Brainiac felt like a sensible bit of story-telling, and the violence was just graphic enough to make the threat feel horrifying without crossing the line into gore and blood for gore and blood's sake.
And the moment in the film is when Lois Lane double-deuces Brainiac might be one of my favorite moments in any of the DCAU movies to date.
Ultimately the film doesn't come off as strongly as most of Timm's Batman efforts nor Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, but at least i didn't come away from it with a weird taste in my mouth like i did with Superman/Batman: Public Enemies or Apocalypse. We'll see what the new exec producer does with The Flashpoint Paradox when that comes out in July. I"m pretty hyped for that one.
what makes the film such a success for me is how deeply emotionally impacting it is in a way that came from within, an effect of the movie's brilliance in orchestration. The film has an early established sense of surreality, has very little dialogue or exposition, and lacks straightforward continuity, yet the film is still incredibly accessible and easy to follow, the main character has such a gripping story, and because there's so much silence in the film, the moments when music happens feel monumentous and added so much to how i felt.
it's hard to describe without giving it away. i don't want to talk about the plot, i don't even want to talk about the emotional journey too concretely because that will lessen the impact upon someone else's first viewing. But i do need to give it justice where justice is due, so i'll relay it thusly:
There's a common character development trope in movies and telly that deals with how a character either starts from nothing or is taken to nothing and has to struggle and endure to find hope and success. Part of the success of, say, Iron Man or the Nolan Batman films has to do with that character development. The success of The Shawshank Redemption comes from the main protag overcoming such extreme long odds with perseverance and determination to come out as a success.
it's such a common trope, something that's meant to spark that inspiration of overcoming our own personal struggles, big and small. There are a lot of films that do that poorly, there are a lot of films that do that well.
And i'm pretty certain that i think that Upstream Color blows all of them away. All of them.
i'm not really sure what to say other than that. it may be worth writing another spoiler-filled review after i watch it again, but i guess this will suffice at the moment. Suffice it to say that if you haven't seen it, you're missing out on something, and even if you don't end up liking it, i tend to think you'll still be glad you went and saw it.
so i ran pretty bad in april - partially unlucky, but also because for a few weeks i played cards in a different environment and a different game that was too tough for me, and it resultantly put me in the red in 2013, one of the few times i've ever been in the red long term.
i played cash games twice this past week - once on wednesday night/thursday morning after i busted out of the HORSE tournament, and once last night/this morning. The session last night/this morning in particular was insanity not just from being one of my biggest profit sessions ever, but because of how quickly my profit surged in my last 45 minutes of play, going from $650ish to $1600.
this happened from two things: first, i had a hand where in the BB i had 8h9s, and the flop came out 5c6d7c. I led out, and an old asian guy who is a big deep stack player min-raised me to $20. I've seen him do things like that with strong hands as well as flush draws - i've seen him push aggressively all in with flush draws, although someone told me after this hand was done that he wasn't playing so hyperaggresive on draws and bluffs in this particular session. Anyway, i reraised him to $50, and he then pushed all-in for my entire remaining $660 stack.
the situation actually didn't make me very happy - again, there were many things he could have been betting on, and one of the ones i was really worried about was a freeroll if he had 8c9c. but his range was way too big for me to feel like i didn't have the best of it, so i called. the turn came 8s and the river came 10c. He turned over 3c4d - he flopped the lower straight. it would have been sick if it had come runner runner clubs.
the second thing that happened was that when i made the decision to leave, i was on the button, so as i stacked my chips i decided i was going to play about eight more hands - until the big blind came around to me. In those 8 hands, i ended up winning a $400 pot where i flopped the Jack high flush, then got AA and then KK. And actually, the hand i had AA i folded - i raised pf, and a solid and relatively tight player to my right called me. The flop came 10x4x5x rainbow, he bet $15, i raised to $45, he flat-called. The turn came another 10, and he immediately leads out for $70. He had about $300 behind. I thought about how the rest of the hand was going to play out, thought about the play i had seen from him on the other table we had played together for a while and this table, and decided that i was behind. He has to put me on an overpair if i'm going to raise him on such an innocent looking board on the flop, so leading out on the turn, particularly with a paired top card on the board is a super strength move. He wasn't the sort to bet on draws or play his own overpairs particularly aggressively. it's possible i was even behind on the flop because he flopped a set, or he didn't believe me initially and had A10 or 10J or something silly. The whole situation was very fishy and wasn't worth getting entangled with, so i open-folded his turn bet. he didn't tell me what he had, but i feel pretty confident that i wasn't ahead.
profit from my last two sessions has put me back in the black - not by a huge amount or anything, but it's better than nothing, and i'm still feeling better and better about how i play. I'd like to get back into the omaha thing, but i don't think i can afford to do that at the stakes they offer here until i get more practice and/or more bankroll, so i'm probably going to focus the remainder of the year on hold 'em.
IFTTT recently sent me an email update that said it created a channel for the philips hue. i was like, "what's that?" and after going to the website to check it out, i was sold on it, so earlier today while i was out doing various shopping and errands, i bought a starter pack which includes 3 bulbs and the "hub" device that connects to the bulbs.
i had an opportunity to play with it a little in the evening, mainly testing the iPhone app for basic light and color changing and some of the advanced functionality. I also created a test IFTTT recipe of "send a text and light 3 will go through a slowly changing rainbow pattern" to test that out.
I have a few ideas of how i want to use this both practically and as it relates to a potential internet installation. It involves buying a dedicated bulb and lamp to put on my kitchen counter or something and maybe have a webcam trained on it 24/7. That light will function as a subtle alert system for lots of things. A few examples:
- install a WeMo motion by the litter box, when Mallory goes to the litter box, change the light to some unique color.
- in the morning if the forecast calls for rain, change the light to some unique color.
- if i get an email from someone in my "inner" g+ circles or contact list, change the light to some unique color.
- if someone uploads a photo, grab that photo into hue, pick a chosen or random color from that photo, and change the light to that defined color.
- for urgent calendar events, cycle through the rainbow pattern
and so on. When i buy the fourth bulb and figure out how i'm going to use it, i'll probably post a YouTube video of my entire hue setup just for fun.
for some reason during the weekdays, i've had my alarm set for a consistent tie despite going to bed at drastically different hours and despite the fact that i don't necessarily need to get up at the same time every day. i think it's mainly a lazy thing, as in i'm too lazy to change my alarm for every given variable situation unless it's absolutely necessary.
i know i still have to write about hawaii, i still have to do some picture dumping. this has taken a bit of a backburner to a lot of energy i've been putting into the apartment and doing a bunch of music writing in which i've been behind on. at some point i'll chip away at it again, maybe a piece of it later today.
i think it's time to buy Cities and Knights too. i should have thought about that when i did my last amazon order or something. i may try to just find a local store that has it. not sure where in new orleans i could find it. i also don't know whether i need to buy Settlers too or if Cities and Knights can function on its own. guess i'll find out.
i think it's time to prioritize blogging again. both of my blogs in general. we'll see how that goes.
my apartment is slowly starting to look like an actual living space as opposed to a strewn about mess of boxes. slowly.
World Market quest for a bed wasn't that successful. They had about four different choices and i didn't really like the headboard of any of them. I'm not sure if i really want a headboard exactly in the first place. Well, i suppose i might, but i picture it being something different than what i saw there. I also found a really nice couch that i considered buying despite it being fairly expensive, but it wasn't a color i wanted.
That's okay though - part of the point of going out was to look at things, figure out what it is that appealed to me vs the things that i could easily reject. And even though i didn't find what i wanted in a bed and a couch, i did find a piece of furniture that i really liked, a long swivel mirror/cabinet combination thingy - full length mirror on one side, drawers on the other side. It's pretty good for storing things in an invisible way while the front of it is still functional in a different way. I have a pretty good idea of where i want it to go in my bedroom, but it depends a little on how i decide to set up the bed and any other potential accent furniture in there.
In addition to doing more furniture research, i'm considering trying to find a centralized way of dealing with audio - anything that i need from an audio perspective comes from a wifi enabled device for the most part - my Mac Mini TV server, my mobile devices, my laptop, my desktop - and i want to see if there's a way to have all of that route wirelessly through a single wifi audio system with speakers in both my main room and bedroom. That might be too expensive to be practical given how much i want to actually spend on furniture, but it might not be too unreasonable if i can find something that works for me, and that's a secondary priority in any case.
Then there's a storage issue to deal with because i have a bunch of crap that was in closet space before that i don't have in the new place. I have some ideas for that too, but the idea involves one of those separation curtain thingys and that feels like a compromise - i don't like the idea of a separation curtain at all. I may be able to come up with an alternative, i just need to work it out.
in any case, i'll keep on putting energy into the whole thing as i see fit, but i also need to start some serious music writing to hit my deadline for Cascadia. I'll probably be doing both things - apartment stuff and composing - every day for the next few weeks. And it feels nice - it's not overwhelming because it's occupying a lot of my headspace in a good way, something that i'm enthusiastic about. This may be a crazy period for me like april is, but in a different way, a somewhat more relaxed way, and something i'm managing in nice chunks.
I'm sitting in Kate's office right now waiting for her to get done teaching a seminar class, so i thought while i had the opportunity i'd try to do a quick recap of everything that happened during the Crazy April period that was the past couple of weeks.( Timpani Forces...Collapse )
--( ...moving...Collapse )
--( ...and my nienteForte concert.Collapse )
And for all of this, i ultimately feel incredibly grateful. I feel like i worked really hard to get to this point in my life, where things are incredibly busy and sometimes stressful but in ways that i choose to be and want to be. But at the same time, i have a hard time believing my recent success and fortune - to have my timpani piece published, to find a great relationship and friendship with my new landlords, to have such a receptive audience that i hopefully inspired with the music that inspired me - to be in the center of all of that (as well as my guest lecture at Hawaii) doesn't feel real all of the time, and I am trying very consciously to approach it in a way that is more thankful and humbled rather than self-congratulatory, and in a way that uses this positivity to keep pushing forward - not just because i still have a lot to try to accomplish between now and June, but because there's no reason for me to feel satisfied - the more i up my own game, the more important it is for me to push harder and make myself better both personally and professionally, and hopefully in the next year i can accomplish that in new ways.
We shall see.
Post about hawaii forthcoming. Pictures will go on my g+ account.