只能玩一次的桌游

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几周前去BGG看了眼排行榜突然看到了一个叫Pandemic Legacy的新游戏直接排到了第一名。立刻调查了一下,发现这是个“一次性桌游”,设计来就是只玩一次的,地图上城市沦陷是往上贴纸,各种秘密卡片和文件是在游戏中随着剧情发展才能打开,而人物死掉的话直接把人物卡撕掉。虽然调查了半天我都没搞清楚这个游戏到底能玩多久,但还是果断入手了毕竟也就50$而已。然后我和xw花了两个周末通关,总共大约玩了20多小时吧。第一天上手连续玩了10小时,确实很好玩。

这游戏第一盘很像经典合作游戏Pandemic(瘟疫危机),但随着剧情发展很快就会变得不一样。整个游戏玩下来要玩12~24盘,每盘视熟练程度和讨论的热烈程度耗时应该在40分钟到2小时不等。对于这游戏的机制和设计什么的也没法太多评论,因为会剧透。。个人感觉做得很不错。中间开各种隐藏要素的感觉非常紧张刺激。

建议不要考虑重复利用一套游戏的可能性。一方面游戏设计的玩法就很难让你重复利用那些配件;另一方面这游戏的一大吸引在于那些隐藏要素,被剧透了就没悬念了,同理玩过了一遍之后短期内也不太会有动力回去重玩。

这游戏支持2~4人,找人开局的话建议找到比较稳定的一组人。每盘游戏增减玩家是可以的,但代入感会少一些。一直固定的同伴玩下来的感觉真有点像美剧。另外,两个人操作三个角色这种玩法不推荐。。会很乱。而且加一个角色个人感觉会让游戏更难而不是更容易。

最后,这游戏的规则还是相当复杂的。。有些地方很tricky,偶尔也有看起来设计得不那么合理的地方。我们中间有一些盘玩错了两个挺重要的规则。但这游戏也没有回头路,错了也就错了。。强烈建议参考BGG上这篇分段防剧透的FAQ

 

Caverna: The Cave Farmers

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Just realized I haven’t blogged about “Caverna: The Cave Farmers” yet, the  heaviest board game I’ve bought so far, literally. By Amazon it weights 7.8 pounds. It took me more than 20 minutes just to punch out all the tokens.

Caverna is basically an “Agricola 2.0”. If you’ve played Agricola before, you can easily find lots of similarities in Caverna. Fixed number of rounds, sowing vegetables and harvesting crops, feeding animals and turning your farm to a zoo, and of course, feeding your family and struggling on the line of starving. Hence, it’s pretty easy for Agricola players to learn Caverna despite the length of the rule book.

But after a few plays I noticed there were some obvious differences between Caverna and Agricola, which actually made a veteran Agricola player like me feel weird. It was not until almost 10 games that I started getting the hang of it.

The first impression of Caverna was everything goes faster, twice faster. In Agricola the game gets more and more going on later in the game, the Caverna the “game accelerating trajectory” is even more dramatic. For example, Slash and Burn (build a field and sow) is an end-game “power move” in Agricola, but in Caverna it’s available from the beginning. In Caverna, a high-level dwarf doing a 4-loot expedition feels like he can single-handedly turn the farm over in one day, which gives you an exciting feeling that is rarely found in Agricola. On this point, I like Caverna better.

Another great part of Caverna is it increased the strategy diversity. In Agricola almost every game and everyone aims for the same main route: building rooms and adding family members. The strategy variety in Agricola greatly depends on the career/development cards. In Caverna because of the introduction of Expedition and the general increase of action capabilities, the value of an action can be much more dramatically different, so a smaller family size is not necessarily a huge disadvantage, in some cases it could even be an advantage (your higher-level dwarf can act earlier). Scoring changes for family members also reduced the importance of having more family members. Considering a few other scoring and rule changes, I feel Caverna really enables more feasible strategies in the base framework of the game, instead of relying on a huge set of random cards.

Using a fixed set of Furnishing Tiles to replace career/development cards is a bold design. Agricola’s great replayability mainly comes from the random cards, which is a double-edge sword. A strong hand or just one or two combos can sometimes give a player unfair advantages in a game; and new players usually cannot figure out their cards well that either slow down the game or make their winning chance very dim. Therefore I definitely welcome a try for a more transparent and balanced mechanism to provide similar replayability. So far I have mixed feelings about Caverna’s Furnishing Tiles. They’re public information so when a new player is confused you can easily explain. However they don’t seem to be very well balanced as far as I can see. There are obviously strong tiles and almost useless ones. Maybe I haven’t experimented enough strategies to see more usefulness from some cards. Anyway it’s still better to have all Furnishing Tiles in a public market so any player can buy, so the imbalance introduced by drawing is eliminated.

Overall I recommend this game to people who like Agricola and would like to experience something similar and new. Have the expectation that you might be confused for a few games and won’t immediately enjoy it even if you know Agricola well. It’s a real v2.0, not a v1.1.

试用Blue Apron

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xw和我已经大约有半年或者更久没在家做过什么比煮方便面和烤玉米更复杂的饭了,常态是在外面吃或者叫外卖。在纽约从不做饭是满平常的情况,外卖的数量和质量都很不错。但偶尔也会觉得放着厨房不用有点浪费,以及会想做点饭来娱乐一下。于是今年的New Year Resolution之一是在家做些饭。为了避免采买原料的麻烦,我们开始用Blue Apron。

Blue Apron是一个“菜谱加食材”的订阅服务。每周送一个箱子来,里面是三顿饭的菜谱和所需的所有食材,有二人份和四人份可选。二人份的话一周是60$,也就相当于每人每餐是10$。送来的菜谱不是自己可选的,大部分是比较西式的菜。每餐都有主菜副食的搭配,热量在500~700卡,比较健康。

实际用了三周以后感觉很赞。首先几乎所有的菜都很好吃,远好吃于10$在餐馆能买到的水平。菜系很广泛,有鸡肉乌冬汤面,炒年糕这样的亚洲菜,也有汉堡,炸鸡三明治这样的准快餐,不过更多的还是常见的一个沙拉加一个主食的标准西餐,意式法式都有。这样的好处就是大大拓宽了我们做饭的领域。像从鸡肉泥开始做肉丸放在Polenta里面这种意大利菜我们自己做饭的话想都不会去想,第一会觉得不见得好吃,第二采买不熟悉的原料会很麻烦,第三对于做陌生菜系也会比较没信心。但用Blue Apron到现在,这是我们觉得最好吃的一道菜之一。

每顿饭的实际操作时间以我们的熟练程度一般要30~40分钟。送来的原料配得很齐,质量上乘,基本上自己除了油盐胡椒之外就不用备别的了。每次打开那些包得很整齐,分量刚刚好的食材的时候都觉得很爽,比如一小瓶醋,一小块黄油,一小块萝卜之类。包装都可以用后即弃,很利落。菜谱描述详尽,即使是我这样的厨房生手也可以按部就班搞定绝大部分的步骤。

每周送来的都是一个固定大小的纸箱,下面有一大块保持低温的冷袋,就算放在门口几个小时再拿进屋里也没什么问题。收到之后一股脑儿放进冰箱就可以了。当然现在天气比较冷,我是有点好奇夏天那个冷袋够不够用。

总的来说我是强烈推荐这个服务的,但也并不是对所有人都适用:

  • 比如一个人住我觉得就算了。。。外面吃就好。
  • 这篇评论大多还是站在基本不做饭的人的视角来看的。对我来说去买菜是很麻烦也没什么乐趣的事情。平时就经常做饭的大厨请自行考虑。
  • 口味需要很开阔,送什么来吃什么。只吃得惯亚洲菜肯定不行。
  • 对厨具还是有一定要求的,各种基本的锅铲和烤箱器具得齐备。

Games I Played in 2015

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  • [Xbox One] Rise of Tomb Raider. Surprisingly good. Finished in a week. I never played through any previous Tomb Raider games and had pretty negative impressions on this series. But this one is done well: nice graphics, friendly to players, fighting is good enough. Lots of exploration makes this game fun.
  • [Xbox One] Fallout 4. Probably my choice of game of the year.  Played it through in about a month. Awesome graphic details and super flexible game system. Probably the only game I’d like to replay but may wait for a DLC upgrade.
  • [iOS] Blek. Light puzzle game. Stuck at level ~50.
  • [3DS] Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. Traditional JRPG. It was fun and nostalgic at the beginning but after 15~20 hours I gave up on it. The graphics on 3DS are just not good enough for me to enjoy it with a slow mood. Still bought Xenoblade Chronicles X Wii U version though. Hopefully will pick it up soon.
  • [iOS] Prune. Another light puzzle game featuring beautiful artwork. Finished in ~2 hours.
  • [iOS] Lifeline. Text adventure game. Basically a novel with a bit real life time flavor. Worth a try.
  • [Xbox One] Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Well it’s a great game but it’s not as good as Fallout 4 or even Tomb Raider. For those 2 games I couldn’t stop playing it. MGSV made me feel stressful and want to take a rest after playing for a while. It’s more for serious gamers or people who have plenty of time for gaming I guess. I’m still at ~30% progress and hesitating whether to pick it back up.
  • [Wii U] Splatoon. Nice shooting game on Wii with lots of innovations. I highly appreciate this game and enjoyed it for a few weeks. But multi-player shooting game just doesn’t engage me for long so now it’s on shelf.
  • [Wii U] Mario Maker. I simply don’t dig this game at all… Played maybe 2 hours top.
  • [3DS] Monster Hunter 4U. My family main game from Mar to May.
  • [iOS] Terra Battle. A mobile puzzle RPG? I’m not sure how to describe its type. Spent quite a lot of time on it in Jan/Feb. It had an interesting battle system and nailed the “growth” feeling in RPG well.

As expected there are more mobile game appearances in the list compared to previous years. However if we compare playtime, mobile games are still trivial for me and console games dominate living room time. This probably won’t change in the next few years. 

It’s worth-noting to me that there was a blank period between May and Sep/Oct. Possible reasons: 1. TV show season; 2. I was very busy…

Austin一行

IMG_1060今年的新年假期由于xw的事情比较多于是只安排了一趟去Austin的短途旅行,在那里玩了四天。

Austin作为一个南部小城并不是什么太有名的旅游目的地,每年SXSW(西南偏南)的时候会火一下,其他的时候主要的卖点似乎就是Live Music了。我们去的主要目的可能就是出于对Portland的爱决定去看一下Keep Portland Weird的精神来源,另外就是冬天挑个南边的城市避寒,顺便也算去过了Texas。

吃的方面主要的特产是BBQ,各种brisket和ribs,就是纸牌屋里面Frank经常在Freddy’s那儿吃的那个。在Austin吃了几家BBQ,的确每家都很好吃。不过要说跟NYC有名的那几家比,也没有特别大的差距,只是觉得德州这儿BBQ的水平普遍很不错而且好吃的地方很多就是了。相对于名气超大的Salt Lick,我倒是觉得在城里吃的Lambert’s更好吃些。但是城里最有名的Franklin由于圣诞节歇业加上排队过于疯狂我没吃上……算是有点遗憾。但机场居然有一家Salt Lick!实在是我吃过的最好吃的机场食物。。

除了BBQ之外的其他吃的就有点乏善可陈。各种菜系都有,也有小地方价廉物美的特征,但没有吃到特别impressive的。主要是吃了那儿最有名的日料Uchi和评价最好的一家西班牙菜Barlata之后,都有一种这水准放在NYC也就是中上水平的感觉。倒是美国菜Salty Sow还是不错的。

城里我们去了LBJ总统博物馆,在South Congress和Downtown分别游荡了一下。去Texas State Capital赶上那里有个小型的圣诞音乐会还挺不错,但State Capital什么的看起来都一个样。著名的Lady Bird Trail很赞,有点像纽约的中央公园但更自然不少,是沿着河修的一大片开放公园,里面有十几英里的trail可以走路也可以骑车,离城区开车只要五分钟。在河里看到很多水鸟和乌龟,还进了一个Nature Center差不多是个迷你动物园的样子。另外还去了一下Hope Outdoor Gallery,是一片涂满了涂鸦的废弃建筑,大概是这次来Austin看到的最“weird”的地方。

当然作为日常生活在城市里的人,在Austin有车开的日子里我还是抓住机会在周边玩了玩。一天去了Cave Without A Name(很诡异的名字),简单的说就是个溶洞了,并不太大不过里面保护得很好。导游带着转了一圈大约一小时,看各种钟乳石石笋什么的,还有一种长得像薄片有点透光的石头被导游称作培根。Texas有好几个可以参观的溶洞,这个比较偏僻,但评价貌似是最好的。还有一天去了LBJ State Park,其实是想去LBJ当年的牧场,但去了发现圣诞节前一天于是提前关门了。。还好旁边还有个别的牧场可以玩玩,抓抓鸡摸摸牛什么的,对于city dwellers还是挺不错的。

但总的来说我觉得Austin虽然城市里挺漂亮,但附近的自然景观并没有太多可玩的,跟Portland既有海又有雪山没法比。城里够weird,但并不是很丰富,玩个两三天差不多。

照片见Google Photos