Friday, December 31, 2010

Static And Noise: End Of The Year Edition

Last post of the year; hope everyone has a wonderful and safe new year. Nothing terribly philosophical or earth-shattering here; no resolutions or year-end retrospectives (though vacationing with my wife and getting two dogs would be near the top of the list). Anyway, here is some random shit.

Football: I've tried to keep the pigskin talk to a minimum lately; it seemed like I was writing about it every other day or so there for a while. Things have kind of shaken up the way most people predicted. There are always news stories and things to watch, but this year seemed to be full of drama--with Ben Roethlisberger's suspension, Michael Vick's return and stratospheric playing abilities; Brett Favre's lackluster season and weinergate; and so on and so on. Still, aside from the disaster known as the Dallas Cowboys, the near-collapse of the Jets and the promising but ultimately disappointing results from Green Bay, Tampa Bay, and the Giants, and the chance that a sub-.500 team making it in the NFC West what was a very odd and parity-prone season ended up with a lot of familiar faces making the playoffs. The season has one more weekend and some of these teams might still squeak in, but it's anyone's game right now--I can't really see an odds-on favorite at this point.

History of Boardgames: I was having a discussion with one of my friends about board games, and I talked a little too long about how board games have developed over the years. "Modern" board games--to use a term that's probably more pretentious than I think--are a completely different genre of entertainment I believe many people would enjoy if they were exposed to it. But it is a difficult thing to get into. The barriers to entry are low, so there's plenty of junk out there along with the good stuff. And you need several willing partners to make it all worth it. Anyway, the board game-related posts I make tend to be the ones that get the most hits. In some ways I don't know how I feel about it, because I am by no means an expert, nor do I have a lot to say about it that is new or creative; I also don't want to turn readers away if I post too much about it. But for those that aren't particularly interested, I apologize if I post more than the normal amount of content about board games.

Civilization V: I posted about Civilization V a few months ago. I've been holding off talking too much about it because I wasn't sure what to thing. Like any long-lasting franchise, the key is to provide something familiar yet something new. Between Civilization IV and Civilization V, Firaxis created Civilization Revolutions, a stripped-down console-driven version of Civilization. Not very deep, but it got the point across and wasn't a bad, one-hour way to pass the time. Civ V was much closer to that. Plus, it had some odd balance issues; certain aspects of the game didn't scale properly, and many special abilities are near-worthless. I wasn't going to give up on the game, but it was clear that this was not their best effort. Thankfully, they release a fairly comprehensive patch about three weeks ago, and it makes the game much, much better. Most things scale properly and many new items and abilities were added, quite odd for a patch. There are still some things off--diplomacy is still a bit iffy, and certain buildings have massive cost/benefit issues--but it is a much improved game and I have no issues recommending it. They've also developed a new-ish business model, where new civilizations and maps are released piecemeal instead of as one big expansion, changing a few bucks for each new item. I don't know how I stand on this (I haven't bought any yet, though I probably will, eventually) but it could lead to good things. Or it could just lead to a new way to nickel and dime us.

What will the new year bring? I was going to create and organize a "Predictions for 2011" post, but it's a lot of work and I just ran out of time. However, I've noticed that I've been slacking on The Pledge lately, so you might get to see me talk about politics some more. I also have a rather depressing column rattling around in my head that will get posted in the cold, dark month of January once I get all my thoughts together. Plus candy! Happy New Year.

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