Raging Rapids or Raving Mad?

by Claire O’Brien

Are gamers adventurous? Do they dive into new adventures on land (or water) as easily as they dive into new board games? I decided to test my own limits a few weeks ago when my friend Shirley asked me to go windsurfing with her. I don’t have much experience with large bodies of water, except for washing down a feast of baby Kentucky bluegrass at a nearby river or lake, but I jumped right into this adventure.

The day we spent on the lake went pretty much how I had expected. I spent half the day trying to climb up on the windsurf board, and the other half trying to stand up on the board without getting knocked off by the smallest ripple on the lake. I never sailed across the lake. I didn’t even manage to pull up the sail, and I had nothing but a soaked wool coat and sore muscles to show for my efforts. When I walked away at the end of the day, I had decided the only way I’d get on the water again would be on a cruise ship.

The following week, Shirley tried to drag me onto a raft, saying whitewater rafting is an easy way to get on the water and have some fun in the sun. Instead of reading a book or playing a nice game of Settlers of Catan or Candamir The First Settlers on the deck of a cruise ship, I’d be getting hurled over jagged rocks with only a thin plastic raft for protection. I put my hoof down and said ‘no’ to Shirley, but she was stuck on the idea of whitewater rafting. I thought a compromise might work.  I suggested playing the raging rapids river race game Whitewater. I had a convincing argument in my favor. As I told Shirley, we could stay at home and vicariously race down a deadly river from the safety of my living room. We wouldn’t get wet and there’d be no need to pack a suitcase. Perhaps best of all, WE WOULDN’T BE RISKING OUR LIVES!

One must be raving mad to willingly climb into an easily punctured piece of plastic only to be catapulted over and against rocks in water that would drown a fish! But don’t let my opinion ruin any plans you may have for whitewater rafting. If you insist on taking a whitewater rafting trip, pack a life vest and helmet, and DON’T take packing advice from Mr. McPeters. When I told him about possibly going whitewater rafting, he recommended I take a pickaxe. I have no idea why he thought I’d need a pickaxe. Perhaps he misheard me and thought I’d be traversing an underground ocean on a wooden raft in a Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hardly, Mr. McPeters!  We’re talking about using a rubber raft down a fast moving river. Pickaxe + Rubber Raft = DISASTER (this is a prime example of why you need to be careful when asking Mr. McPeters for advice).  Take MY advice instead. Stay home, or go to a coffee shop, call some friends and enjoy the action, energy and SAFETY of playing a friendly game of Whitewater.

Good luck to anyone going whitewater rafting. I’ll be thinking of you as I play a nice relaxing game of Whitewater on dry, non-moving, non-deadly land.

Happy rafting (on land)!

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Gone But Not Forgotten (Though I’m Really Trying Hard)

by Angus McPeters

Now that Duncan is gone, I can at last share with you, dear people, what it was about him that so raised my ire. Oh, certainly you are aware of the handed tactics he employed, both heavy and high. He never failed to take a moment to demonstrate how he ruled our particular roost and to make me, the talent, feel small.

But that only began the animosity. From there, he took the usual co-worker shenanigans to new, horrific, and blood curdling heights. Below, I shall give you the top five ways that Duncan made the studio into a fright show for yours truly.

  1. Certainly every office in the world understands the horror of burnt popcorn. Some poor benighted soul wanders away from the microwave for a bit too long, and suddenly all that radiation is focused into a stink bomb. Burnt popcorn is truly a stench, but have you ever had a similar experience with wet dog food? Oh, you haven’t? Well, let me assure you, that particular reek could compete with a tire fire on top of a garbage dump that only accepted rotten chitlins.
  2. You know the one person in the office who doesn’t understand the concept of volume control or earbuds? Well, just take that person and add in the fact that they’re the corporate-backed dictator of the office and see what you get. And don’t start suggesting that I hide behind earbuds or white noise machines. Nothing is more powerful than a continuous loop of Who Let The Dogs Out.
  3. There has never been a memo, an edict, or dare I say a thought gone through Duncan’s head that didn’t deserve at least ten emails. And if you think I’m exaggerating, then ask the sysadmin who had to convince the email server he wasn’t a spambot. Stop hitting Reply All! I swear!
  4. An always empty coffee pot. And before you ask, I know for a fact it was always Duncan that emptied it because I could hear the lapping all the way from the break room.
  5. Everyone likes to spruce up a bit after lunch, right? Check the teeth for spinach. Fluff the wool. Spritz some Binaca. Whatever it is you do. But we all know how dogs groom themselves. And Duncan didn’t even have the common courtesy to close his office door. Ewwwwwwww.

So now you see my case laid bare before you. I leave it to you fine people to judge whether Duncan was merely a brief stop off on the corporate highway to hell or if, indeed, he was the entire destination. I know where I stand. And that is as far away from the break room as you can possibly be if someone’s warming up their Alpo. Peeeeeee Youuuuuuuuu.

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Destiny

by Claire O’Brien

My friend Ewenice recently asked me how Mayfair Games’ game creators name the characters in their board games. I thought I’d do some research on the topic for her. What I discovered was interesting. The games with historical themes are straightforward. For example, we have Lee and Grant in A House Divided and Emperor Caligula in Bacchus’ Banquet. The games based on novels/fiction are rather obvious too. A great example is Journey to the Center of the Earth where we have the adventurers Professor Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans, all characters from Jules Verne’s novel of the same title. Another great example is Star Trek Catan where players receive support from some of Starfleet’s most distinguished officers such as Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scott, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura, the characters from the original Star Trek television series.

As for the Catan games, I don’t know if it was Klaus Teuber or someone else, but whoever came up with the name “The Robber” in Settlers of Catan, or “The Outlaw” in Settlers of America Trails to Rails had a twisted sense of humor. Is anyone really shocked that these characters, given their names, are responsible for the theft of countless resources? It’s not like a bank will hire them to be tellers. Run background checks on them and you will see rap sheets that stretch across the U.S.

People need to be mindful when naming characters, babies, and pets. Names have a way of defining destiny. Imagine naming a baby ‘Abaddon’ (which means ‘destroyer’). While Abaddon is a cool sounding name, anyone with the name Abaddon might need to invest heavily in insurance and watch every step he takes. ‘Abe’ (father of nations) would be a wiser choice in my opinion.

I’m a perfect example of how a name can shape one’s destiny. ‘Claire’ means ‘bright/famous.’ While I’m not famous – yet– take a look at my full name, Claire Elizabeth O’Brien, which gives me the initials CEO. Recently, Duncan officially hired me (see episode 10.01 Promotion!) making me a full time employee of The Bob & Angus Show. I’m on my way to the top! I’m destined for greatness!  That’s right, folks. One day, I’ll be a CEO not just in name, but in title!

Even if you don’t believe a name determines a person/sheep’s destiny, why temp fate? Choose a name with a meaning full of hope and fortune. I mean, wouldn’t you rather have a name that means ‘Father of Nations’ instead of ‘Destroyer?’

Name Wisely!

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Crimes and Missed Demeanors

by Bob MacWordell

There’s a new game on the block down at Mayfair HQ and it’s called Villainy. In Villainy, you play a a costumed supervillain with the usual delusions of grandeur, struggling to enact your nefarious plot to take over the world before the local do-gooder with his underpants on the outside turns up to haul you off to prison or the sanitarium.

You’ll have to spend time in your civilian identity learning skills and buying gadgets, you must hire minions (certainly in matching, themed outfits), you will perpetrate crimes, and, finally, you will enact complicated plots. If you are the first villain to do this, you win the game!

First off, let me say I think this game sounds like a hoot. I don’t blame Mayfair for making this game the least little bit. I grew up reading the four colored adventures of heroes with powers and abilities far beyond mortal men. I’ve spent the last several summers on the edge of my theater seat thrilling to the exploits of many of the same heroes. And the villains are always this close to winning before the good guy stomps them. This game is timely and looks super fun.

But there’s a tiny, cynical kernel inside me thinking that, from a certain perspective, this game has already been done by Mayfair. And maybe done better.

Can anyone think of another Mayfair game where one goes to their job, hires and fires people, and enacts plans to take over the world? Nobody? Well, let me explain.

In Global Mogul, you spend the game making deals that screw over your opponents, moving cash around (in probably clandestine ways), tying up resources, hiring agents, and generally trying to take over the world.

Again, I love comic book supervillainy as much as anybody. Well, except when it’s Angus who is doing it. (Think about it: the egotism, the weird accent, the monologuing, the sometimes referring to himself in the third person, and the maniacal laugh. If he weren’t so lazy, he’d be Lex Luthor.) But in this day and age, does anybody really believe that somebody like Loki or Dr. Doom is going to rule the world over somebody like Donald Trump? Trump even has a supervillain nom de guerre for crying out loud! “The Don!”

No, I think Mayfair had the villainy game all sewn up before Villainy arrived on the scene. Wait, you think I forgot something? You think I forgot the flashy outfits supervillains get to wear?

Perhaps, I should introduce you to a gentleman by the name of Armani.

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The Problem with ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’

by Claire O’Brien

I heard a child sing Mary Had a Little Lamb the other day, and instantly I knew what I would write about this week.  Not to disparage the author, Sarah Josepha Hale, but I have an issue with this poem.  Here’s the song in its entirety, for your reference:

Mary had a little lamb,
His fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule,
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
Till Mary did appear.

“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
The eager children cry.
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
The teacher did reply.

 

While I’m sure that Mary and the sheep loved each other, did anyone ever stop to think the lamb was just trying to get an education? Lambs/sheep are not dogs… we don’t follow people around out of shear loyalty (not a typo, BTW). We’re well educated. Take a look at everyone on the show:  Me, Bob… (ah, yeah, that’s it, just Bob and me). Anyway, we’re smart, we know how to read, write, report, and play games such as Age of Napoleon and China Rails. Find me a dog who can play Hot Tin Roof without salivating and running off to look for a cat to chase. Let’s face it, children’s songs are often inaccurate and should be enjoyed for their musical value only and not used as a source of learning about the subject matter.

This leads me to a related topic. It seems there have been a few rumors floating around lately about the sheep here on The Bob & Angus Show. Time to put my hoof down and dispel some of these myths.

  • Bob, Angus and I all like to be heard, not herded
  • Not all fleece is as white as snow (mine is, of course, but have you seen Angus’s? Talk about having a ‘black sheep’ in the family!)
  • Bob is not the model for the wool resource card in Settlers of Catan! (sheep DO NOT all look alike!)
  • Sheep do not eat everything in sight (goats do, but sheep don’t – we have a discriminating palette.)
  • Yes, wet wool smells, but it’s not something we can control (and no, there is no such thing as sheep deodorant).

There, I feel much better now that I’ve had my say. If you have any other childhood poems you’d like me to clairify (again, not a typo), feel free to email me.

Sing with your children, but don’t be fooled by the lyrics!

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Fish Story

by Bob MacWordell

After a long day at the studio, I like some time to chill out with my best friend. And as you can imagine, when your best friend is Angus McPeters, our usual standby of boardgames isn’t exactly “chilling out.” It’s more like “infernoing up.”

DSC_0108Instead, I convinced him to join me for a fish fry where we’d eat everything we caught.

I had planned ahead for any protestations from the typically outdoors-averse Angus. Seriously, you read what he had to say about being a sheep in Summer, but as much as I agree, that’s basically Angus all the time. I swear, if it weren’t for the walk from his front door to my car and the car to the studio door, I’m not sure he’d breathe unrecycled air.

At any rate, my plan basically involved pointing out how often Angus picks what we do and then having an entire second, matching set of fishing gear to deal with the inevitable, “But I don’t have any fishing stuff.”

DSC_0111So with very little grumbling, Angus and I set up shop next to a lovely pond we drive by on the way to the studio every day. And it was everything I’d hoped it would be! The burbling water reflected watery dapples, and both conspired to give me a sense of peace and well-being.

Surprisingly, the spell even overtook Angus. Is there anything better than the peaceful conversation of two bros over the easy repetition of cast and repeat? After only a few minutes, the tension from weeks of job insecurity and Duncan-fighting melted away.

Our haul was amazing! It seemed like every cast brought a catch promising a delicious meal. We caught probably fifteen pounds of slimy bounty. And after a couple hours, every part of our bodies were relaxed. Except for our stomachs!

So we took our catch back to my place to clean it. Angus set the table (Claire and Laura were joining us for dinner) while I pan-fried up the catch in a bit of olive oil with a few secret spices and a twist of lime.

When the ladies arrived, we sat down to an elegant meal with fine wine and lovely conversation. Angus even tried out table manners.

It was the best pond moss we’d ever eaten.

What did you guys think we were catching? We’re vegetarians! They may have weird faces, but fish still have them, and we don’t eat anything with a face.

You’re all a bunch of degenerates. Sheep eating fish. That’s not natural.

It’s super gross.

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Seriously, you guys.

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