A Pandemic Board Game Night

I miss people. Help me think this through. Pre-pandemic, we did close to weekly potluck board game nights, which I really enjoyed. I’ve been itching to do them again. Does it seem reasonable to do:

– backyard / front porch potluck & board games (we have a 10×10 tent, but would probably just cancel if it rained unexpectedly)
– only play games that don’t have lots of fiddly little pieces that would fall into the grass and be lost forever
– let people duck in to use the restroom, grab water, etc., but plan to basically stay outdoors

– ask for fully vaccinated people only

In our area, I think by this point all adults have now had free access to vaccines, so if people still aren’t vaccinated, it’s either:

• by choice, OR
• they’d like to be vaccinated, but are having a hard time getting off work / are afraid of vaccine side effects interfering with responsibilities, OR

• possibly they have an underlying condition that’s getting in the way. (I don’t know, for example, if COVID vaccination is contraindicated for pregnant people, or people going through chemo, etc.)

I feel a little weird about saying ‘fully vaccinated only,’ but I also want to really limit the chance of hosting something that might contribute to community spread. What do you think?

I Haz a Sad

Jed’s headed back to California. I haz a sad. We’ll both be fully vaccinated by end of May, I think, so maybe I can go out for a visit sometime in May or June. We’ll see how COVID behaves, and if it seems reasonably responsible to get on a plane at that point.

Before he left, Jed taught me a new board game, Root. It features adorable woodland critters viciously battling for dominance. It’s pretty cool, esp. because it’s a completely asymmetrical game — all four species have different game play and different goals for their win conditions. There’s an iOS version, but it’s really quite a complicated game to learn, so I’m glad I played the board game version first.

A Work Break

Jed and I took a work break this afternoon for a few hours to teach Kavi Wingspan. We had a lot of fun with their Wingsong app, that lets you hear the birdsong of the various birds!

She particularly liked the hummingbird card, and I told her that we could have hummingbirds in our garden, if we were very careful about cleaning the feeder, and I didn’t have time, which is why I bought a feeder but never used it, but she thinks she can take that on, setting an alarm to remind her to clean it once a week in the cool season, and every two days in the warm weather. That’s right, yes? And use regular sugar water we make ourselves, rather than buying hummingbird food, right?

I’ve never actually had a hummingbird feeder going, so advice welcome.


If you don’t mind learning a slightly complex game (I’d say this is a bit more complex than Settlers of Catan, but not as complex as Terraforming Mars), I’d recommend Wingspan, especially if you love birds and/or would like to learn more about them. Jed and I played two games yesterday, and enjoyed it!

There are two ways to play, one where you’re scoring points separately to see who ends with the higher score, and one where you’re directly competing against each other (haven’t tried that yet). The game has a particularly nice mechanism for intro-ing it to beginners, where they walk you through the first four moves for each player, and in the process, demonstrate all the action options. It took us about an hour-and-a-half to learn and play the first game, I think, and maybe an hour to play a 2-player game after that.

Generally beautiful production values, and lots of cool facts about birds in the process. This would be a great game to play with older kids to help them engage more with nature. Nature is not always nice, though — I had a Cooper’s hawk I was playing yesterday, and when I turned up a bird card that was less than 50 cm, my hawk could ‘eat’ it for points. 🙂

For 1-5 players, I’d say ages 10 and up. Recommended!

Letter Jam

Jed taught me and Kavi a new game yesterday, Letter Jam — a cooperative word-forming game. If you have at least 3 word-loving people, this is a fun option — Kavi enjoyed it enough to want to play again immediately after the first game. If you like Boggle, this is sort of vaguely like that, though not really. 🙂

More of a write-up at Jed’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/jed.hartman/posts/10225633678368692

I Promise They Were Having Fun

I promise they were having lots of fun, although it doesn’t necessarily look like it in this picture. Teaching game of Planetarium with Kavi and me, and it came out very close — Jed won, but just barely.

This is also a game I don’t need to own, I think, because there’s a sort of fiddly scoring mechanism that I don’t love keeping track of during the game. But it’s a cool concept, and was fun to play a few times.

The Expanse Board Game

Jed taught me a new board game this afternoon, _The Expanse_, based on yes, the books and TV show of that name. They did a pretty good job of bringing the setting and characters into game play, so that part was pleasing. I also stomped him, which is always fun, but I think that’s mostly because I got a bit of an early advantage that then multiplied into a bigger advantage as we went.

Overall, it’s probably not my favorite kind of game — it’s mostly about positionality and area control. I don’t feel a strong urge to own this one. But it was fun to play, and I’d be happy to play it again sometime.

What I Like About Gaming

Jed wrote a long thing about RPGs, and I was skimming it, and thinking about what I like about gaming, and I realized that most of my favorite games are about managing scarce resources + building a better world (Civilization, Polytopia, Terraforming Mars, etc.)…

…and um, that’s a lot of what I like about being an elected official. It’s the same process / job, though generally with fewer bowls of potato chips on the table.

Friday of Spring Break

I didn’t get all the writing done that I’d hoped to do over the break — I did almost no writing. But the house is cleaner (due in no small part to Jed helping), I’ve caught up on most of the urgent things I was behind on, and I feel overall less stressed, which I suppose is what spring break is really for (rather than trying frenziedly to finish a novel draft). So it’s all good.

Random photos from the week:

• I felt very granny chic somehow yesterday, since it’s been a while since I added color to my hair, and when I pull it back, it’s dramatically silver. When I am old, I shall wear white lace? Maybe.

• Arya sitting on my lap and contemplating the garden, making it impossible to type.

• The cutest little Murasaki pepper seedling — I adore the coloration in the leaves, so striking.

• Happy little spring cups for the March/April Patreon boxes. (See how I snuck April in there? That’s just in case I don’t quite ship them out before the start of April….)

Plans for today — try to keep working in the morning, writing up recipes and sewing and making chocolates, while listening to this week’s bonus episode of the podcast (which we dropped yesterday).

I’m honestly a little nervous about this episode (“The Capitol and the Cafe”), because we recorded it right after the capitol insurrection, and we used the opportunity to talk about some hyper-local events, and in the context of the upcoming election, I’m a little afraid that I wasn’t nuanced enough and it could get taken badly, gah. I don’t think I said anything too problematic, but it was recorded a while ago, and I just don’t remember.

Still, we can’t be so afraid to speak that we just stay silent, right? That’s how the Nazis win. If I messed up, people will let me know, and I’ll take my lumps and apologize if needs be. Okay, then. (Podcast: Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans, available wherever fine podcasts are downloaded.)

In the afternoon, Jed is off work, and so he’s planning to teach me some new board games, which seems like a fitting activity for the end of spring break.

The Game Master!

I like this photo of Jed, with the late afternoon light streaming behind him. The Game Master!

Jed and Kavi and I played two rounds of a new board game recently, “Ceylon,” which yes, is based on Sri Lanka.

Now, technically, you’ll playing as the owner of a tea plantation in the 1800s, which probably makes you a white man, and I’m guessing it was not developed by Sri Lankans, given the company and the wide range of other games they put out….but there’s nothing explicitly in the game itself that’s problematic, and we had a good time playing it, so recommended.

I got to eat samosas from Wise Cup while playing last night, with their delicious homemade cilantro chutney so that added a little extra fun. Also drank tea through both games. 🙂

Jed wrote up some longer things about the game mechanics and playing with Kavi, will link to them in comments. It’s reasonably quick to learn, and nice fast gameplay once you get the hang of it; you get to do things on each others’ turns (what we started calling sub-turns), which is a nice mechanism for keeping everyone engaged. Ages 10 and up.