July 9 – Cleaning, cooking, and RPGs

I did get up and do yoga again this morning, but it’s not one of my three things today. Here’s what I did:

  1. I finished cleaning the bathroom. Yay!
  2. I cooked one of my favorite grain salads for dinner – a sort of Tex-Mex quinoa with black beans. The recipe’s at the end of the post for anyone who’s interested.
  3. I found myself a new game to play – and I’m super excited about it. It’s called Avadon, and it’s a single-player RPG that’s very story-focused – it’s almost like a choose your own adventure book, where your decisions as a player shape the way the game unfolds. I played through the free demo today, and I’m about to buy it so that I can play the rest of the game.

Here’s my black bean quinoa salad recipe – it’s super flexible, so you can mix and match whatever veggies, beans, and cheese sound good to you:

  • 1.5 c quinoa
  • 2.25 c water
  • 1-2 cans black beans (or chickpeas, or pinto beans)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (or whatever color you want)
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered (or a chopped tomato, or whatever)
  • 1 c frozen corn (thawed, obviously)
  • 2-3 jalapeños, diced (or use chili powder, or chipotle powder, or chipotles in adobo)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • juice from 1-2 limes
  • 8 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled (or feta, or shredded pepper jack, or whatever)
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa and water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, chop veggies and combine everything else. Stir in quinoa, and let sit for 1-2 hours so flavors can combine. (Or don’t – it’s almost as good freshly made).

I like to eat this straight up as a room-temperature salad, but J prefers it as a burrito filling in flour tortillas.

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July 1 – 3: King of Tokyo

In addition to spending some time at the beach, we also spent a fair bit of time playing games this weekend. And mostly, we played King of Tokyo, which may be my new favorite game. Certainly it’s up there with Ticket to Ride, Wizard, and Puerto Rico (which I’m sure I’ll post about in detail someday).

I’m usually not a huge fan of games that involve a lot of chance – I much prefer games where you win or lose based on your strategy, not based on getting lucky draws or rolls. But this dice game is a lot of fun – it’s got a good balance of chance and strategy. It’s great because in order to win, you do have to be doing a decent job with your strategy, but if you’re not a strategy buff, you can still have fun kicking some monster butt and seeing what the dice give you. Plus it doesn’t take super long, it’s light enough that you can also have a conversation at the same time you’re playing it, and its off-brand killer monsters are pretty sweet, too. Definitely a perfect game to pull out when you’ve got a mixed group of hard-core strategy gamers and non-gamers.

Will Wheaton also featured it on TableTop – to see him in action playing the game, check out his show:

June 16 – 3: Wizard!

So while my cousin was here visiting, we had a chance to play one of my favorite games – Wizard. Wizard is a German trick-taking card game that has some similarities to Bridge. You get points based on whether or not you make your bid for the number of tricks you take, with the highest card played taking the trick. It’s better than Bridge, though, because you don’t have the complication of working with a partner. (Or at least I find it better, anyway – intellectually, I understand that people like the partner aspect of Bridge, but it’s not my thing at all).

Like Ticket to Ride, it’s a great game to play with non-gamers. It’s a card game, so right away that makes it a little more accessible than many of my favorite board games. And play is similar enough to more common card games like Bridge or Hearts, so the rules feel familiar, which makes it easier to explain. But the strategy is still interesting enough for more seasoned gamers to enjoy it, too. It’s definitely worth tracking down a copy if you’re a game nerd.

June 10 – 3: Nerd humor

This xkcd comic today reflected my feelings about the recent revelations about NSA surveillance pretty accurately. No, I’m not happy that the government is monitoring our Internet usage. Yes, I think it’s a violation of our civil liberties to have the government intruding into our communications. But even more than that, I think that for the most part, it’s a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money, because they’re going to get so much useless data back, and sifting through it to find the relevant data seems like it probably takes more time and energy than it’s worth.

At least it gives us something to laugh/cry about, though. (And don’t worry – a post on Dwarf Fortress is coming at some point – it’s another of my favorite super nerdy computer games)

June 5 – 3: Ancient Domains Of Mystery (ADOM)

In case you hadn’t already noticed, I am a giant nerd. And one of my nerdy passions is playing intensely strategic and challenging computer games. Lately, I’ve been really enjoying ADOM, which is a dungeon crawling game with a lot of variety in the character class combinations you can choose, which suit themselves to vastly different strategies and classes. It’s a roguelike game, which makes it particularly challenging because when you die, that’s it for that character – so there’s no room for mistakes. And ADOM is extremely challenging on the early levels, so you die a lot. Which is actually kind of perfect for me, because I tend to like the challenge of early games anyway when it comes to computer games – I like figuring out how the strategy of making a character or plan work for me, and once I’ve leveled enough or gotten the right items or built the right things or whatever to have a strong character who kicks ass, I kind of get bored. But so far, I haven’t managed to make it to that point in ADOM. I always die first, and have to go back and try to figure out how to adjust my strategy to avoid that the next time. And from what I’ve read on the ADOM forums, it doesn’t seem like it gets any easier as the game goes on. Which I think is awesome.

June 2 – 1: Ticket to Ride

I love games. All kinds, really – board games, card games, silly internet games, intense (usually nerdy) computer games, video games. One of my favorites, though, is Ticket to Ride. It’s available both as a board game and as an app, and both versions are a lot of fun. There are two things that push Ticket to Ride up to the top of my games list. One is that the board game is easy to set up and explain – it takes just a couple of minutes to set up and about 5 minutes to explain, which is way less than most of my favorite board games. The other is that it’s complex enough for serious gamers to enjoy, but also simple enough to play with your non-gaming friends too.

To see how it’s played, watch Will Wheaton and friends play it on his show Table Top: