Monday, April 23, 2007

Start the week @ RD/KA! : Brilliant Sunshine?

I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the cinema: I really like the sense of occasion of going out to see a movie, and I just love the big-screen experience when a film-maker really knows what they are doing- sometimes there's just no substitute for the power of being there (cue old fart's nostalgia about that first 'Star Destroyer moment'). On the other hand, much of what passes through our local multiplexes is too uninspiring to encourage me to venture out very often; and the proportion of formulaic shlock I end up sitting through when I do make the trip only confirms this prejudice.

So I must confess to being both surprised and pleased at dragging myself out last Thursday too see the big budget SF movie Sunshine. Two films in as many weeks? A real turn up for the books!

The spur for this moviegoing extravaganza was the name of Danny Boyle as the director- the same man responsible for Trainspotting and 28 Days Later.... The latter I really liked; the former was simply brilliant- the opening of Trainspotting is simply one of the most exhilerating 20 minutes of cinema I have ever watched. This full-throttle romp captured me in exactly the same way as did the similarly relentless opening to Alfred Bester's classic novel The Stars My Destination.

Intrigued then, but with expectations set to middling, I set out with Andy to give Sunshine a go.

The plot of Sunshine is uncomplicated: it is the middle of the 21st century and the sun is dying. So a spaceship is sent out with a gigantic nuclear bomb to restart the star's nuclear core. It goes missing, naturally enough, so a second ship is sent out in a last effort to save humanity. Hmm: a mission to save mankind setting out after the failure of a previous similar mission? Who'd've guessed that the unexpected discovery of the first ship would lead to a change of the mission parameters of the second, with equally unexpected consequences?

So far so familiar. And an awful lot of what we see as this unfolds is as familiar as the plot. Cultural cross-references have a way of passing me by (which can often make even the most cliched plot deliver a surprise or two- so that might be a good thing!), but even I was able to notice nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dark Star, Alien, and Event Horizon. Still, these are all very good films to 'take inspiration' from, and I guess it is arguable that Boyle might've been seeking to use that very familiarity to shortcut the exposition needed to get his setting and premise across so that he could concentrate on his characters and his story.

And, to be fair, Sunshine is more than just another SFX-driven Potemkin village of a blockbuster. Sure, as an SFX movie it was actually really quite good. The CGI spaceship looked very nice, and there were some other very nice FX sequences. More importantly perhaps, the sun was handled aptly. The film succeeded in taking the familiar distant orb and turning it into a majestic and malevolent presence. So while not necessarily an SFX blockbuster, Sunshine certainly delivered some impressive imagery.

Better still- the imagery didn't serve as a substitute for a story. There are characters driving the narrative as well as macguffins. Heck, there's even a dramatic theme underlying the story, a theme hinted at if not given away outright by the name of our heroes' ship: the Icarus II. This theme develops along 2 main lines in the film: the classic hubris of flying too close to the sun; and the more Nietzschean jeopardy of staring too deep into the sun so that it warps your soul. In fact, it might not even be too fanciful to suggest that Sunshine takes the Conradian inspiration of the classic Alien and turns it inside out, from 'the heart of darkness' to... well I think you should get my drift.

There are several elements of the movie which support this interpretation of the moviemakers' lofty thematic ambitions.

First off is the strong presence of eyes, both literal and metaphorical. Check out the intro clip on the movie's website to see just one example: the Icarus II looks very like an eye, with iris, cornea, retina and optic nerve (seriously- just take a look!). Second, the notion of the sun's light getting inside the characters' heads is made pretty explicit. And then there are those hardened EVA suits. These looked strangely piglike to my mind, often giving the impression that their wearers were snuffling in the ground, so as to contrast with the whole idea of man looking up at the sun. All a bit fanciful? Perhaps, but there was definitely something of this ilk going on in Sunshine in my opinion.

The main problem with all this was that it was presented in a film which was ultimately a bit confusing, and which relied, in the end, on a plot twist which was an absurdity too far. Added to this there was the inherent implausibility of the ship's crew as agents of their mission. I mean to say: the Icarus II was a ship which was carrying all that remained of Earth's fissile materials on one last mission to save the planet. Looking at the crew assigned to this mission, you just had to ask yourself: where the heck were the military? The rag-tag civilian crews in Alien and Event Horizon made sense in those movies (not to mention the fact that the crew in Event Horizon were simply the most competent I've ever seen crew a movie spaceship); their counterpart in Sunshine just seemed a bit out of place.

In a strange way then, you could say that Sunshine is a film which was hoist on its own petard; in trying to reach beyond staple blockbuster fare, it ended up reaching beyond its own resources. It was interesting despite its flaws, and is certainly worth the effort for the big screen experience if you like this kind of film. Not bad at all really.

Start the week @ RD/KA! : Got game!

Gosh, but it's been a bit quiet on the boardgaming front these recent weeks! All I'd managed since my last bountiful weekend has been a single game of my current hot favourite- Combat Commander: Europe. I finally managed to take the Germans in against Tony's Russian partisans, winning a close-fought victory in a game which displayed all of the strengths of this fine design.

However Donald was at a loose end yesterday, so he joined Tony and I in a mighty afternoon's boardgaming.

Settlers of Catan
"What are we going to play then?" Confronted with this question, it was the easiest thing in the world to turn to this old friend. We managed to get 2 games in. Each was notable in its own way.

The first game was played on a board which seemed absolutely covered in red numbers- this'll not take long we told ourselves. We were right. With so many rich regions it wasn't difficult for each of us to find good locations for our initial settlements. Donald had a position which showed a lot of potential, with 2 6-point ores near an ore port, among other goodies.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Start the week @ RD/KA! : Down to The Wire

A televisual feast to celebrate this week after last Monday's moan about the tedium that was the much-hyped 300. And no, I'm not talking about the new Doctor Who series, which continues to send me to a delightfully warm and fuzzy place with each new episode. In fact, I'm not talking about anything new as such at all. What I'm talking about is HBO's magnificent cop show The Wire.

I can remember seeing trailers for this show on the FX cable channel maybe a couple of years ago. For some reason the series passed right by this fan of crime fiction- maybe I was burned out from watching too many episodes of the Law and Order and CSI franchises. Whatever the reason, I assumed that The Wire would be just another formulaic US cop show, and ignored it.

It was late last year when I discovered just how wrong I'd been. Bill brought the Season 1 DVD set around one evening when we were supposed to be playing games, and suggested we watch a few episodes. We did. Bill went home, and I sat up all night and well into the next day until I'd watched all 13 episodes. Then last week he brought round the Season 2 DVD's. This time I had to get some sleep after episode 8, but again everything else stopped until I'd watched the whole series.

So, what's so good about The Wire? Absolutely everything, is the simple but not very informative answer. Watch this video:

and go off and read these reviews- the Guardian and the Telegraph- while I think of something more thoughtful to say (oh, and rest assured that none of the praise heaped on the show is at all exaggerated)...

Season 1 of The Wire has a commonplace enough story: a team of misfits who've pulled a shit detail surprise themselves and their superiors as they rise above themselves and actually start to do a good job. This unfolds in luxurious detail because the series doesn't follow the familiar formula of self-contained episodes in which each week's case has to be resolved in the space of 50 minutes of TV. Although unoriginal to the point of cliche, this familar human story works particularly well because it serves to open up the political dimensions of policing, while simultaneously providing a counterpoint to the unflinchingly bleak portrayal of urban decay, crime, and police cynicism.

All very well, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, because even though The Wire has a narrative pace unique in the history of TV cop shows, it is by no means a 'slow burn' series. No, it grabs you from the get go, and keeps you gripped right to the end. From minute one The Wire is marked out by its magnificent scripts, with dialogue which reveals character, drives plot, creates the texture of the setting, and entertains and amuses in a seamless web in which not a word is wasted. The politicking of senior officers is particularly well-handled, in scenes giving a real sense of men measuring each word they speak because they know that everything they say can and will be used against them by ruthlessly self-interested careerists just like themselves.

If the scripts of The Wire mark it out as superior fare almost as soon as the first character speaks, it is the series' treatment of the first season's theme- the war on drugs- which transports the viewer to somewhere completely new. The drug culture on the streets of Baltimore is depicted in grim detail, to be sure, but that's not what marks The Wire out from other shows. More important is the depiction of the drug dealers themselves. Gone are the one-dimensional stereotypes familiar from shows like NYPD Blue or Homicide: Life on the Street, the sneering sociopaths whose hatefulness invites us to sympathise with the interrogation-room brutality of the cops. What The Wire gives us instead are real people, criminals who are charming, who grapple with their own moral issues, and who- above all- are often astonishingly competent in their criminal endeavours.

The Wire's depiction of the good, the bad and the ugly on both sides of the law explodes the black-and-white morality which underpins most cop shows. The result is a portrayal of the business of crime and the politics of law-enforcement as a peculiar tragic duet, both exploiting an endemic urban blight for their own interests even as each has nothing more useful to offer as solutions than their own kinds of sticking plaster for gaping wounds.

These themes are expanded in the 2nd season, which moves from the housing projects to the waterfront in a story which begins with another staple of the genre- a nameless corpse. To the desperation of the black underclass which fuels the drugs trade is added the stevedores' struggle to survive in a declining industry. Naturally enough, this leads to union corruption, which comes under investigation because of the pettiest of personal vendettas, with the result that the old team is reassembled. Meanwhile the consequences of the 1st season's investigation into the drugs trade are being played out.

If the 1st season of The Wire was magnificent, the 2nd perhaps shows the true scope of the ambitious vision of the series. Carrying forward the old story with the new adds an epic sweep to the continuity of the familiar characters in The Wire's novelistic narrative. Beyond that, the series' themes are deepened in a profound way. In the simplest terms, the story of union corruption extends the series' horizons to municipal government and international crime. More than that: interweaving the drugs and union corruption stories renders the plight of the black underclass and of union labour as 2 sides of the same coin.

What more can I say about The Wire then? Not a lot really. This series really does live up to all the hype. Seasons 1 and 2 already qualify it as the sort of masterpiece long remembered as "they don't make TV like that anymore", after the fashion of, say, The World at War. If you're not already a fan, then look out for it, and watch it!

Interesting trivia point
Clarke Peters, who plays Detective Lester Freamon, appeared in a 1983 episode of the legendary TV series The Professionals.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Start the week @ RD/KA! : On the calendar

The Scottish Boardgames Association have confirmed the date of DiceConWest 2007- Sunday 17th June. As ever this year's event will feature the Official Scottish Settlers of Catan Championships and a Kniziathon.

What with the big turnout of C&C players at DiceConWest 2006, I'm thinking that it'd be nice to organise another C&C tournament. The main question would be: which of the 3 C&C systems to use? The availability of sets is a significant factor naturally enough.

Whatever, perhaps I'd better get my finger out and contact Ellis then, eh?

I first found out about this event last year @ DoW. I very much like the idea of an all-in games con, and it would be nice to see a decent one established here in Britain. The UK Games EXPO site has grown a lot in the months since I last looked at it, and there is a lot there to interest gamers (including a DoW-sponsored M44 tournament for yours truly!). I quite fancy attending this, although I would need to organise proper accomodation for a long weekend in Birmingham. These logistics aside, this is a tempting event. ;)

Start the week @ RD/KA! : Marks out of 300?

So I finally went to see this latest Hollywood cause celebre last Thursday. It had been a near thing, getting my bum on the seat in front of the big screen for this one. The advertising campaign having left me cold, 300 eventually came to my notice nearly 4 weeks ago, during a regular trawl of the left-wing web for my mandatory alternative take on world events. Reading 'Gorgeous slaughter' I was first surprised to discover that both a Frank Miller graphic novel and its movie adaption had passed me by so completely- I'm a bit of a Frank Miller fan after all.

Reading the post comments my surprise soon turned into ire. Delivering a thematic critique of the movie's ideological subtext was one thing, but prejudicial plain dumb ignorance was another. One remark in particular left me seething:
This sort of Der Stürmer crap has always been an element in Frank Miller's work, though, if not the major element - look at the number of gay villains in "The Dark Knight Returns", f'rexample. He's basically the house pornographer of the American far right; his approach is to manipulate the reader with steamhammer subtlety into cheering for the guy dangling the 'baddie' over the edge of a building...
The Dark Knight Returns, a fascist parable? Has this guy actually read the damn comic, I was asking? I mean to say: this is the comic in which the Batman (the justice-obsessed loner who refused to knuckle under when the US government decided to clamp down on superheroes) taught an important lesson in the meaning of humanity to the 'demigod' Superman (the all-too-willing servant of that same US government); and then went underground to start a movement dedicated to... to, well what, exactly? Blind subservience to higher powers, p'raps?

But I digress. The ironical upshot of my own irate response to this outburst of left-liberal ire was that I decided to make an effort to see a movie which otherwise might've completely passed me by.

Those 2 lost hours in the cinema under my belt, I can now sum up my opinion quite succintly: YAWN.

I'll set the ideological issues aside immediately.

Yes, this film is indeed laced with a subtext all too easily co-opted in favour of Anglo-American warmongering in the Middle East. And sometimes this is right in-your-face in a way that I found quite repulsive. It matters not a whit whether this was intended, or merely a by-product of the film-makers' native outlooks: the real world provides the context in which this film will be viewed, and so people will interpret this film with that real context- and their own biases- in mind.

And no, I don't think that this film is some kind of crypto-fascistic parable. The charge that art might celebrate fascistic impulses is both very serious, and beyond the scope of this article. So all I can do here is repeat my conviction that this film did not do that.

If the artless historical revisionism and oh-so-timely reactionary themes of 300 were staple Hollywood fare, the cinematic experience was similarly uninspiring. What you see in 300 has all been done before, and often better.

Well OK, except for one sequence- right at the start of the battle- when the shield walls clash for the first time. This really gave a taste of what the poor bastards on both sides might actually have endured in that primitive clash of arms. That moment of genuine tension was unfortunately not repeated, as the rest of the action scenes were witless gorefests whose essential stupidity is neatly skewered here.

In sum?-: 300 is a film too derivative to be interesting, and too obvious to be offensive. Wait for the TV release?- well, a bit late now given the film's box-office performance; but it is only really worth the effort if you particuarly like Hollywood blockbusters' take on the triumph of style over substance. ;)

PS. I have to note that, politically tendentious inanities notwithstanding, there are many very informative comments appended to the 'Gorgeous slaughter' post noted above.

Start the week @ RD/KA! : Got game!

So it's been another bumper long weekend of games for yours truly.

The fun began on Thursday with a visit from Badger.

We ended up playing 5 games of M44 to test the expanded nationality rules. We played #2: Sainte Mère-Eglise and #3: Sword Beach twice each, and #5: Omaha Beach once. The results (recorded here, here, and here) left me 4-1 up on the night.

More important even than that taste of victory were the playtest results: the new rules are standing up fairly well, and tweaks have been introduced where necessary. (More details can be found on my DoW:M44 thread on this subject.) More important perhaps even than that is the fact that trying out these new rules has revived mine and Badger's interest in playing this game which originally cemented us as gaming buddies.


Settlers of Catan
My dear friend Ros and I paid a visit to my old pal Bill and his family on Saturday night. Episode 2 of the new series of Doctor Who and a curry supper out of the way, we got down to a game of this modern classic.

As ever with games of Settlers amongst players who've previously encountered each other across the isle of Catan, there were scores to settle and reputations to be made, maintained, or enhanced. For my part I had (again!) to deal with Bill's launching of a personal vendatta- in which he did anything and everything he could to confound my plans. All this fiendishness notwithstanding, I still almost won through, being pipped at the post by Bill's wife, Radka, when she beat me 10-9. Much good fun was had by all, as ever with this game.


Doom: the Boardgame

Andy and Tony came round yesterday and we had another go at this new favourite. Tony and I played the marines against Andy's Invaders. We decided that it was time to start a campaign game- in which the marines count kills for experience points, but it didn't really matter in the end: the marines lose the campaign (and all accumulated experience benefits) as soon as they loose a single mission; and yes- Tony and I extended the marines' perfect losing record by yet another mission.

Still- as we discussed later- this is not a game where you lose and think, "Rubbish game." Rather, just like a video game, it's a game in which defeat as the marine player only encourages you to have another go. As I noted many moons ago, this 'arcade game effect' is something that we first noticed (even more moons ago) when playing Up Front. I find it delightful therefore to find this same effect generated by a game which puts a computer-game into a boardgame; especially one whose basic mechanics recreate so excellently the PoV of the 1st-person shooter, as I have noted elsewhere.

We'll be back!


Attack Sub
Tony left after the game of Doom (imagine: choosing to go to a party instead of staying to play boardgames...!). I worked through the 2-player options of my games collection. Andy decided that he liked the sound of Attack Sub.

I confess that I was a little leery of his choice: I haven't played Attack Sub in years, and was concerned at how easy this game would be to pick up for quick play. I needn't have worried: it turned out that this card-driven game of submarine warfare (designed by Courtney Allen, the designer of the epochal Up Front) was even easier than I remembered.

In the event Andy's only real mistake in our game was his choice of the Soviets (a choice driven, perhaps, by his hope of enjoying the 'Sean Connery effect'?), whose subs were markedly inferior to my US boats, despite my crews' best efforts to screw up their sensors through repeated malfunctions. Other than that, Andy suffered from some serious bad luck as his subs proved unable both to detect- and then to hit- my own; while my own boats' fish were better served by the whims of fortune on the day.

For my part I was pleased to be reminded of how accessible is this fine game of the cat-and-mouse of submarine warfare. And I'd like to think that Andy enjoyed it enough to give it another go.

(Note to self: give new players the US subs in scenario #1.)

Final score


Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Been busy lately down at the Geek

I've been a regular visitor to the BoardGameGeek for the sake of the C&C:A and CC:E forums for some time. Recently though I decided to fill out my BGG profiles. So I listed my collection, and have been keeping a full list of my games played.

Andy's reaction to this news was to proclaim the excess of my geek, but I was unabashed at this pot-blacking. I'm easily exactly geekish enough to get satisfaction from playing with an online database like this. I just wish I'd started sooner so that all the boardgames I played last year weren't missing from my records.

I've also put up my first Geeklist. Taking a tip from another list I read recently, I kept this one simple: it's just a list of the games we played over the weekend. Read it now while it's active!

Also, if you're interested in CC:E after yesterday's preview, you could do worse than pop along to the BGG: CC:E forum and ask around to find out more. ;)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Start the week @ RD/KA!

Battlelore blues?

I went down last December celebrating a fine session of the spectacular new Battlelore. And I'd celebrated BL again over more games with Badger on our Xmas-day games bash (the ideal way to geek out the horror!).

I mean, I was really liking the way the changes in the medieval command deck, and in the battle rules- no leaders or evading, limited battle back and so on- were working to change the relative strengths of the different unit types. The slower, more attritional pace of the battle contrasts neatly with the shock of impact and clearing of-the-dust of C&C:A. Tactically the rules favour the wedge at the expense of the line, and make cavalry the supreme shock troops. All the little rules add up nicely (even if at the expense of a rash of impromptu FAQ's). And the Lore game offers exactly what it says on the tin: mighty magics and heroic powers galore. All that and monsters too! I should've been in pig-heaven.

So I was a bit shocked to feel my heart sink at Uncle Martin's choice of BL to get our session off to a start, during his recent visit. At least it wasn't Roborally I figured: I couldn't stomach the prospect of another mammoth tussle like the last time. I had an assured ace up my sleeve though.

These Battlelore blues were short-lived enough in the end: I downloaded the free preview Epic BL rules on sight, and Badger and I had a go with the set he'd blagged for his birthday. What a stuffing I took. But what fun it was!

Badger and I soon agreed that Epic is the way to play Battlelore: the much larger armies- about as many units as in a large Ancients battle, but on a board twice the size; the vaster piles of lore- you use 2 sets of lore counters, so that you can accumulate twice as much for truly monsterous lore spending combos; and the Epic rack- a chance to play 2 Section cards in a single turn, so that you can really move some of those vast forces!

Naturally enough DoW have me hooked on the BL package for the forseeable future!

Start the week @ RD/KA!

Expanded nationality rules for Memoir'44
This is something which I've been thinking about for some time. I think the command and fire-and-movement mechanics of M44 are exactly as good as the similar rules in C&C:A or BL- very good indeed in other words. And the multiplicity of terrain types is part of what makes M44 the game it is. But the richer diversity of unit interactions in Ancients left me thinking that core M44- with its essentially identical Americans, British and Germans, was feeling a bit flat. So I decided to expand the nationality rules to make each army have its unique flavour.

Before the rules, thanks are called for to neil1967 and Randwulf at DoW: M44. The British 'big push' rule was Neil's idea first, and Randwulf helped fix the Kampfgruppe rule.

'Saddle Orders'
Instead of playing a command card and ordering units, a German player may choose to discard 1 command card and order no units. The player may then draw 2 cards, choose 1 to keep, and discard the other.

A German player may form a Kampgruppe- ie. combine 2 depleted units into 1 unit. The 2 depleted units must be of the same type: infantry, armour, or artillery. If a unit with a special ability combines with a unit without that special ability, that special ability is not retained by the Kampgruppe; ie. units must each have the same special ability for that ability to be retained by the Kampfgruppe.

Order both units. Move either or both units so that they are in the same hex as each other. Remove any models in excess of the unit's full strength. The opposing player does not gain a victory medal for the removal of the depleted German unit. Neither of the 2 depleted units forming the new Kampfgruppe, nor the newly formed Kampgruppe, may move any further or battle at all in the turn in which the Kampgruppe is formed.

The German player's hand capacity is reduced by 1 card for the rest of the game each and every time a Kampgruppe is formed; NB. the German player's hand capacity may not be reduced below 3 cards through the formation of Kampgruppe.

A British infantry unit may always fire at an opposing infantry unit with a minimum of 1 battle dice after battle dice reductions are applied for the defending infantry unit's terrain. Battle dice reductions due to the attacking unit's terrain may reduce this as normal; eg. British infantry in wire firing at an infantry unit in woods at 3-hex range would have 1-1=0 battle dice and would therefore be unable to fire. Bonus battle dice gained via Tactics cards are always applied on top of this; eg. the aforementioned unit would fire with 1-1+1=1 battle dice if using the 'Their Finest Hour' card.

'The 'big' push'
Instead of playing a command card and ordering units as normal, a British player may choose to play a command card as a plan. The command card is played face-down in front of the British player. The British player does not draw a new card when he plays a card as a plan. In subsequent turns, the British player may either play command cards from his hand as normal; or he may develop his plan, by playing another card face down in front of himself as above.

When the British player starts a turn with 2 planning command cards face down in front of him, he must go ahead with the plan. Both command cards are revealed, and are executed in the same turn. The British player replenishes his hand to its full value after playing his planning cards.

US Army
'Logistical superiority'
  • The printed 'Medics and Mechanics' card orders 2 units instead of 1
  • 'Recon 1' to be used as a 'Medics and Mechanics' card.
'Go, go, go!'
At the start of the game, and immediately after (ie. before the card's orders are issued) the play of the 'Their Finest Hour' card, the US Army may 'mulligan'
  • the US Army player may discard as many cards as he chooses
  • the US Army player then draws 1 card fewer than the number of cards he chose to discard
  • the US Army player then draws 1 extra card on the conclusion of his next turn, to refill his hand to its normal size.
'Russian command rule'
In late-war scenarios, in which the Russian command rule is taken as not applying:
  • the rule still applies
  • but the command cards which the Russian player may play from their hand now include all Tactics cards as well as those already specified.
I've started threads on this subject on the DoW and BGG M44 forums. The DoW thread is full of ideas all ready. And there're brief comments on Badger's and my first playtest. More soon I hope. ;)

Start the week @ RD/KA!

Last Words... the Current Big Thing
Grognard reflexes honed over years of Squad Leader, Up Front and HERO rules-tinkering caused my bout of the Battlelore blues: I was pining for some more classically-detailed tacsims of the hex-and-counter school; challenges which M44 just can't deliver. M44 already looking a bit patchy, core BL beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic, and my just not getting enough games of C&C:A- I needed a new gaming fix.

I found exactly what I was looking for in GMT's Combat Commander: Europe. The title caught my eye while I was browsing through GMT's Project 500 lists last year: sample counters, map sections, and fate cards. Skimming the playtest rules (here are the current rules, and the FAQ, all laid on for your perusal) my immediate reaction was no more original than most- looks like a cross between Squad Leader and Up Front I thought. This prospect excited me, and I bought the game from the FLGS around new year.

Badger and I played a couple of games, and I liked it as least as much as I hoped I would. Then Martin had a go on his recent visit. His first impressions were mixed- not bad, but a bit meh. A few games later he was singing CC:E's praises as the best game I've shown him in years. Tony is similarly enthusiastic, and we've been playing several games a week lately. Badger and Donald are keen on it too.

Designer Chad Jensen has a definite hit on his hands. My most played game of 2007 so far. ;)