Saturday, December 27, 2008

Black Christmas

We had a pretty good Christmas (in spite of the title of this post) but it was not without its surprises and setbacks.

We had intended to travel to Oregon to spend the holiday with Helen's relatives, and to celebrate our nephew's fourth birthday. But our hosts, her parents, got snowed in. On the evening of the 22nd, we had to call off our anxious weather-watching and admit that nobody was going to gather in Oregon that week. (It is now Saturday after Christmas, and they're still trapped! They're safe, but likely won't get out until Monday or so.)

So we had two days to suddenly gear up for Christmas at home. A tiny turkey (store was sold out of the larger ones), mashed potatoes and gravy pre-made from Whole Foods (very good, too), salad fixings, Pillsbury crescent rolls (and cinnamon buns for breakfast), bottle of wine, and a mince pie made a very nice, small-scale feast. Helen had already spent a couple of days baking cookies: she has a half-dozen recipes that are all incredibly good, and she makes plenty every year.

We meant for dinner to be ready at 6, and we have no idea why that tiny turkey took so long to roast. It was 10pm before we sat down to eat! But it was very good (even without allowing for hunger as a sauce), and there was enough for everybody plus a little left over for a couple of sandwiches the next day.

The weather was odd. Periods of bright, calm sunshine alternated with the most amazing squalls, one of which took down a power line across the street. We weren't affected, but half of our neighbors had no power from about 9am Christmas morning until maybe 6pm the following evening. (They are the ones who had the "black Christmas"!)

We spent much of Christmas Day playing games (we had a lot of time while waiting for that turkey). We played Pandemic, Stone Age, and Ice Flow: all fairly new games for us. It was the first time in quite a while that the four of us had all played a game together, the kids now being grown enough to have their own social lives. It was a good day.

We have a number of new games in the house: unable to go to Oregon, we spent some of the traveling money on games to console ourselves. Le Havre and Siena we had already recently bought as Christmas presents for ourselves. We then went out and got Stone Age, Ice Flow, and Princes of Machu Pichu. And then Christmas is also Helen's birthday: I got her a copy of Galaxy Trucker, but it turned out her mother had gotten her that also! So we took the one I bought back to the store and traded it for EuroRails, TransAmerica, and Set. And we know there are more games coming, as soon as the relatives dig themselves out and can reach a post office. I think it's time to get that "Owner of Too Many Games" microbadge over at BoardGameGeek.

Stone Age looks like a hit. Ice Flow is interesting, but may be a bit dry, or else just sensitive to the number of players. We've played Princes of Machu Picchu just once so far, two-player, but we liked it. It's by the designer of two of our other favorite games, Antike and Imperial, so we had high hopes and it looks like we won't be disappointed. I want to play it again, soon. (And I want to get Brass back on the table, too!)

Not much game design news from me, but I have had a couple of ideas for spicing up the rail-game-formerly-known-as-Rails-Across-America. I hope to work with it some today, and I'll let y'all know how it comes out.

I hope you've all had good holidays too, and we can all hope for a Happy New Year.

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