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Games and Puzzles


An 11-year-old girl asked me to bring supplies and wanted to design games. Okay. Fine by me.

I'm an abstract strategy guy. She tried to make an abstract strategy game (she talks here and there about making a border guard game too). Things were back to front because I felt an urge to have her make a themed game like everyone else.

When making the border game earlier she jumped to making the parts, rather than sorting out the rules first. Creating a game begins with just quietly thinking, working things out in your head and eventually testing it with improved items. But I can think of reasons to let her do what she does.

I invented, produced and documented the Gamaroo game for last Christmas. It started as a roll and move on a piece of paper with some challenges on it, but it ballooned into a bunch of stuff. That was a lot of work preparing for Christmas. I took a photo, but never posted it. Coming soon. I gave it to a family, during a pandemic when the news said over and over you weren't supposed to visit anyone. The family ignored it, or at least didn't play it, from then until now.

I got them to play it, three players. It really was a fun, varied, neat experience for different ages, lasting just the right amount of time. As predicted, it was a close ending, no loser way in behind.

A couple of things didn't work out the way I expected. The game is a traffic jam, where you move forward and sit there to reduce the movement options for opposing pieces behind you. If players don't do this, there won't be such a traffic jam. Related to this is the fact that players mostly avoided the whole Fear branch of the game. The dramatic Death Dice and Dice Duel challenges were not done. The light little paper circles in their specific layout were constantly being moved out of place by careless people.

The game has enough juice left in it, including some questions that were not successfully or completely answered, that the game can be played again, perhaps with a new player added. Setting up positions randomly within a branch will make setup easier.

Sweets were always a fragile part of the game, from the construction phase to Christmas to when it was played. You need to have the game together with some desired sweets at the same time, kept away from an avaricious herd of cats, at the same time you manage to corral people to play. Ideally you convince people not to consume sweets before the game. The sweets business is tricky.

I recommend you make Gamaroo for a family for Christmas.

Three guests check into a hotel room. The manager says the bill is $30, so each guest pays $10. Later the manager realizes the bill should only have been $25. To rectify this, he gives the bellhop $5 as five one-dollar bills to return to the guests.

On the way to the guests' room to refund the money, the bellhop realizes that he cannot equally divide the five one-dollar bills among the three guests. As the guests are not aware of the total of the revised bill, the bellhop decides to just give each guest $1 back and keep $2 as a tip for himself, and proceeds to do so.

As each guest got $1 back, each guest only paid $9, bringing the total paid to $27. The bellhop kept $2, which when added to the $27, comes to $29. So if the guests originally handed over $30, what happened to the remaining $1?

Language and Culture


How do you say "six"?

Nicole Wallace at MSNBC pronounces it like this. Compare that to the way she says sex.


Does no mean agreement? Does no mean yes, or does no mean the opposite of yes?

CTV had an announcer who said blah de blah blurb, for the guest to respond. The guest said, "No. I agree with that completely".


Hello Harry. How are you today?

Have you had any herbs?

For me at least, herb has always been pronounced with an aspirated h. Unless you're Jamaican. Ya bumboclat.


The conclusion is the last sentence in your paragraph. Here are a few DO's and DON'T's of conclusion sentences.

The sentence above comes from a Southern Illinois University Edwardsville website educating people about the proper way to write a paragraph (here if you're curious).


Music, film, television


Ritchie Valens - La Bamba

Lyrics only. For the countless number of times I've heard the song in my life I always thought he said Balaba laba la bamba. He actually says Para bailar la bamba. wikipedia says it is a Mexican folk song, originally from Veracruz.

Crosby, Stills and Nash - Suite Judy Blue Eyes

Lyrics only. This is a classic tune, called a suite for a reason (I long thought it was Sweet Judy Blue Eyes). It reaches a peak toward the end, with weird lyrics. It turns out it is Spanish, sung by Steven Stills. The various lyrics sites all have different lyrics written for this bit. What a mess. Y que triste. Sangre alli.

Food and Drink (mostly drink)



Difference between dark, milk and white chocolate

Brazil Loves White Chocolate, Canada Not So Much


What would it be like if Trips and Treats went to Chile?


I used to do customer service for an alcohol company. I suspect the universe is saving me for its blooper reel. I'm not a fan of alcohol, and certainly don't like wine. But as wine goes, Chilean red wine stands out for me.

If you really need a link, here is one.

What would it be like if Trips and Treats went to China?




There is a movie or book that is begging to be made.

You've got health professionals suffering through a pandemic, an infectious virus. People in ICU, people dying, staffing problems caused by burnout and frustration, health risks to the health workers, patients separated from family, disruption in society at large, and the relentlessness of work with patients who keep needing help in big waves.

Mentally misaligned people in the commnunity don't help. There is a pandemic of misinformation. People disagree about wearing masks and social distancing, and above all a critical mass of people refuse to get vaccinated. Opinion makers and politicians do what they do. Far from cooperating, people in the public are actually hostile toward health workers ("We know where you live").

Moving into the realm of fiction there is some sort of horrible stalking monster creature wreaking havoc and killing people. For inspiration you could look at The Thing, and perhaps Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Some people can see it, sometimes because it is right there, and some people can not see it, or at least refuse to acknowledge it, which has the effect of aiding the monster. What is the monster? What does it represent?

Speaking of seeing and believing, there is the option of making things surreal. Did the monster thing actually happen, or was it a nightmare vision?



How You can Fight Back against the Communist Party of China

A video from serpentza (the za must refer to his South African background). Can the boardgame industry find a way to divorce from China? Can you find a way to avoid Chinese commerce and influence?

I've become very tempted to make a YouTube channel. I'd give it about a 75% chance it will happen.

1. The vast majority of videos would show one person playing an abstract strategy game. This would only show (expressive) hands. This is the standard model, but other things would happen too.
2. This would be relaxing in various ways. It's a game, the year is whatever, and you could fall asleep listening to this.
3. Talking could go in different fun directions, like this page. Something for the commenters to talk about.

A deaf person would come to the conclusion that this is a very niche channel showing this type of game being played. By the way, I find the abstracts easier to follow than other types of board games.
A blind person would hear brief explanations of games, a lot of discussion of movement options, and other game-related material. In addition a blind person would hear fairly brief discussion of diverse things, like "movie blips", or "What would it be like if you took all the people who hate you and put them together in one room?".

What I find interesting is what the channel is not. All the various stressors and time drains of having a YouTube channel would be gone. Stage fright (for lack of a better word) is minimized, money is who cares. Dis/likes, views, subscribers and in theory comments would be ignored. Schedules, sponsors, guests, marketing, and the relentless YouTube algorithm robot do not concern me. The demand for content would be ignored in favour of good content if and when and how I feel like it, and fancy production and editing - the real time vampire of a YouTube channel - would be minmized.

We made around five test videos: an outdoor channel introduction, a nominal game explanation, a magic card trick and a tik tok-friendly funny bit. There was also the intended first video "This is a penny", an odd bit of performance art which begs to be made into a meme.


hmm ..


Do phasers faze?


Here are some Scottish highland cats at zooborns. There the Dice Tower talk about Iro, a new abstract strategy game on kickstarter. This is how asapscience says "out".


The decision on whether to make a YouTube channel might come down to what can be presented. Some things work on a blog but I would not want to put in a video. There was a comedy show on Canadian television called The King of Kensington, which was an all right show, during the late 1970s. This would be too random to bring up during a game of fanorona, although I would have no problem putting it on a blog (short for web log).

On the other hand, this would be a nice way to show games being played, like that Vietnamese game, and some original games that have never been shown on Oak Games. They might look ratty, pieces of paper. Some adjacent things could be shown, like a magic trick, various puzzles. Drinks could be shown, a ritual. Humour has a weird way of getting into board game content - more on that later. Trivia and other questions could be asked, the best comedy movies could be discussed, and inventive ways of making a jigsaw puzzle could be revealed.

The YouTube channel will probably be done. It will have different content than the Treehouse here (and raises a naming issue with two things called Oak Games Treehouse). Actually the YouTube channel will go back to a focus on the traditional and other abstract games. It will be an odd, perhaps unique beast, where an abstract strategy game is played, and the conversation will go in unexpected directions. I feel confident, in control. Videos would not occur often, and it would detract from other things. It would not start soon.