On Dice, Dogs, and Mother’s Day

Well, I already messed up the planned MWF posting schedule!  Once the A-to-Z Challenge had finished, I reveled in all the free time I had, which, in typical Wise the Simple fashion, lead to me squandering said free time instead of working on new posts.  So let’s say that that first week of May was just a hiccup — a trial run, if you will.  I hereby promise to post three times a week from now on, even if a post is just to say that I have nothing to say.

I hope you all had a marvelous Mother’s Day! I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend with my mom, dad, younger brother, and older sister — the whole gang! Unfortunately, my brother-in-law was out of town, but it was still fun to just have the immediate family together.

We had a pretty relaxing weekend with no major plans. My parents had just gotten back from a trip to Mexico, where my mom attended a work conference. I picked them up at the airport on Saturday afternoon, and my siblings arrived shortly thereafter. Once everyone had gotten settled in at my parent’s house, we went out to dinner and caught each other up on everything going on in each of our lives.

After returning to my parents’ house, my father (a pastor) excused himself to work on finalizing everything for the following day’s church service while the rest of us sat down to play some boardgames. We started things off with some Escape: Curse of the Temple, a current favorite of the Simple family. I’ve played Escape quite a few times now, but our third game on Saturday was the absolute worst game I’ve played.  We lost in the most incredible fashion.  By the time the clock ran out, we still had a generous stack of unexplored temple tiles and had yet to find the exit.  We had only recovered a few gems, and had each lost three dice from our individual dice pools, leaving us with a mere two dice each.

After a few games of Escape, my mother (still feeling a bit jet-lagged) decided to head off to sleep. Left to our own devices, we siblings chose a slightly heavier game – Seasons. This was my sister’s first time playing, but my brother and I (being the cruel, competitive siblings we are) threw her into the deep end and made her participate in the card drafting phase called The Prelude even though she was unfamiliar with the game. I was actually very proud of my strategy during this particular play session. Although I love playing boardgames, I’m actually not that great at them.  But this game, I was able to draft both Necrotic Kriss and Sealed Urn (as well as Runic Cube) giving me a lot of extra points by the end of the third year.  Tallying up the scores, I was pretty confident that I would take the victory.  But as it turned out, my brother and I ended up finishing in a TIE!  Unfortunately, the tiebreaker was the number of summoned power cards and, given the Necrotic Kriss/Sealed Urn combo I had going, I had sacrificed all of my familiar cards, leaving me with far fewer cards than he.

On Sunday morning, we all attended church.  My brother, sister, and I helped to lead worship.  It was a lovely service, particularly because we took time to honor our mothers and mother-figures and pray over them. There are a lot of wonderful people who attend my father’s church, and I am so glad that I have gotten to know many of them throughout the years. There are many amazing women, in particular, who are incredibly strong in their faith, and are spectacular role models for me and the other young women.

After service, my family took my grandma and aunt out for a Mother’s Day lunch at a Japanese restaurant for some sushi, tempura, and hibachi.  It had been awhile since I had some good sushi, and it was all super delicious!

We rushed home after lunch since my dad said that he had a special guest visiting for Mother’s Day that afternoon.  While waiting around for the visitor’s arrival, the sibs and I started a new session of Seasons.  (After the previous night’s game, my sister said, “We need to play again now that I actually know how to play!”)  However, our game was cut short as the special guest arrived — A PUPPY!!

Our visitors were some folks who attend my father’s church. Their oldest son, who was moving to a new apartment, just found out that he couldn’t keep his newly-adopted four-month-old chocolate lab in his new place. Thus, the Simple household gained a new family member! My parents already own a ten-year-old dog, a German Shepherd/Chinese Shar-Pei mix. The rest of the afternoon was spent socializing the two dogs, and getting them used to each other’s company. By the end of the day, the two had become the best of friends. It was all very exciting and super adorable; puppies are the greatest!!

All in all, it was a very fun and relaxing weekend. I love my family so much, and it was wonderful to be able to hang out with all of them. As my siblings and I have gotten older, moved out, and began living our own separate lives, it has become more difficult to arrange times for us all to visit one another. Sure, we get together with the extended family during the larger holidays, but there’s something special about just the immediate family spending time together. I have always been incredibly close to my parents, my brother, and my sister, and feel so blessed that they continue to be a major part of my life.

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D is for Dice

I love dice.  I love how they feel in my hand as I shake them; I love the anticipation that builds before letting them roll free.  As far as random number generators go, dice have got to be the best.

There are six-sided dice, three-sided dice, 20-sided dice.  Dice with numbers, dice with pips, custom dice with special symbols or words.  Multicolored dice, dice in black and white.

Dice!  Dice!  Dice!

Pile o' dice

Because of the element of chance that they bring to the table, dice are frequently pooh-poohed by those gamers who seek to eliminate as much randomness from play as they can.  Over Christmas break, I purchased Escape: Curse of the Temple with the thought that I could play with my family and friends over the holidays.

“You just roll dice?” my eurogame-loving brother asked, a tad dismissively.

“Yeah.  You have to roll certain combinations in order to make your way through the temple,” I explained.  “But there’s a time limit, so you have to roll as fast as you can.”

He was hesitant, but I dragged him to the table anyway.

Escape!” boomed the game’s soundtrack/timer.  And we were off.  The sound of dice clattering on the tabletop was punctuated with squeals of joy and groans of frustration throughout the ten minutes of gameplay. The game ended with my cousin, Christina, trapped in the temple.  We had lost.

“This is so dumb,” my brother laughed.  “Let’s play again.”  And again we did.  Five more games that night alone.  We added the curses and treasure modules, proceeded to lose some more rounds, and then win a few.  It wasn’t until a few months later that I knew my brother had been won over.  As we packed for a weekend visit at my sister and brother-in-law’s place, he asked me, “Can you bring Escape?”  I smiled in triumph.

(Photo via Wikipedia)

I love dice games.  I love that dice can be the entirety of the game, such as in Yahtzee or craps.  I love games that utilize dice in creative ways like using d4s as pyramids in Kemet, d6s as literal building blocks like in Blueprints, and even dicebuilding games like Quarriors! or Marvel Dice Masters.  And I love games with custom dice.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I adore quality game components, and those wonderfully chunky, colorful dice from Seasons are among my absolute favorites.

Sure, dice bring randomness to gameplay.  But they also bring excitement, tactility, and suspense.  If you’ve played any sort of tabletop game before, odds are you’ve had a memorable experience with dice  — whether it was a victorious moment when you rolled exactly what you needed, or a moment of utter calamity when you cursed your misfortune and the piece of plastic that caused it.  If you do, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!  What are some of your dice-related memories?