Board Games Help Form Social Connections

…So we spoke with one another through chess, with the crux of the discussion roughly translating to: “Wow, you’re bad.”

Cian Maher

My wife, who is awesome and knows me very well, sent me an article on the apparent social benefit of playing board games (in person) with other people. It certainly seems to make a certain amount of sense. When you play games, even silent ones, you’re interacting and communicating in often deep or interesting ways.

Photo by Chait Goli on

I love board games. Not just because they’re fun. I like the art, I like playing with people and having a good time. I really get invested in some and feel happier when done. Some, like my family’s new obsession: Skull, are simpler games where the fun is mostly in your head. Some, like Wingspan, Ticket to Ride and Gloomhaven are extremely cerebral and have lots of fiddly little tools to play with, in addition to the person-to-person game. Games make me happy.

I used to play D&D with friends back in Maine. While those times are long gone, I haven’t forgotten them and even having longstanding memories of having fun. Were it not for games, I would have had a lot less friends in that part of my life.


Switcher 3

I played through The Witcher 3 on my PC. It was a fantastic game with an absolutely fantastic story line. I dumped more than 100 hours into it and am very satisfied with the outcome. I actually neglected to replay it after I finished the Blood and Wine expansion pack, because it just felt done.

Therefore, I wasn’t really tempted to buy the Switch port of The Witcher 3, because despite being able to hunt all sorts of human and inhuman beasts on the go, I wasn’t tempted to replay through the game.

Now, with the recent update to the Switch version of the game, you can now sync game saves via GOG Galaxy between platforms. Meaning if you’re Switchering while on the go, and come home and want to continue the adventure while on your massively more powerful PC, you now can do that natively!

CD Projekt Red deserves a bunch of praise for this. What an amazing group!


The Mudsdales Go Marching In

My new favorite past-time is playing Pokémon TCG with my son. His encyclopedic knowledge of Pokémon is pretty impressive. It translates pretty well to the card game, even if there are some inconsistencies with the lore vs. the balance of the game.

Because I am a game nerd, and a former MtG player myself, I also like looking at deck ideas and coming up with strategies and themes. Most of the time, they exploit obvious mechanics, some better than others. I’m also on a kind of strict budget. My wife would kill me if we spent hundreds of dollars on cards.

So, what’s a guy to do? Budget decks!

Honestly, these sort of category is one of my favorite types of deck building. It requires creativity, knowledge of game mechanics and card functionality budgeting to ensure your deck plays well. It also reminds me of the “White Weenie” decks of the past (basically: a bunch of small creatures that either, en mass or with powerful stacking buffs becomes a powerhouse).

So, on to my recent purchase! Here’s the blog article I read that got me started:

The article I got the deck idea from.

The basic premise of this deck is to cycle through your deck with search cards like “Nest Ball” and “Lady” to pull Mudsdale and some energies out. This allows you to get a heavy hitter out decently early. Additionally, since you’ve only got a stage 1 out, you’re not going to give your opponent two prize cards should he get momentum faster than you.

The deck comes out to be about $16.82, which is just shy of one of those starter decks and significantly better tuned. It has the ability to be adapted with the removal of “Cutiefly/Ribombee” with something that has faster or more consistent energy retrieval. You can also better defenses or a “Rescue Stretcher” to keep the “Mudsdales” cycling in if you have to rely on their second attack a lot.

I can’t wait to try it with my son. The “Pikachu/Raichu GX” deck I pieced together, and have been playing, on my own seems to be very draw dependent and can struggle if energy doesn’t come in quick enough. I’ll post that one later.

Any budget decks I’m missing out on? I don’t currently have very many fire-type, metal-type or fariy-type cards, so those decks seem more interesting to me.



My son has been bitten by the bug. The massive money making, lines around the block, international juggernaut that is Pokémon. He has a book with all of the current pocket monsters names, stats, pictures, regions and more in it. Right now, he is a walking, talking Pokédex.

To that end, he was introduced to the card game through other kids at school. This was kind of exciting, because I was a huge Magic: The Gathering kid, and TCG’s are my jam. So, I started he and I out on some pre-constructed starter decks from Target/Amazon. Now he’s hooked.

Normally, I wouldn’t be excited to get my son into something this potentially expensive. There are, obviously, much cheaper games to play and ones that don’t have the same far reaching marketing machinations. However, this is something that we’re actually bonding over. I get to teach him how to play, how to think strategically and about deck building. Stuff I had to learn on my own. He also gets access to all the various accessories I’ve accumulated over the years. Things like card sleeves, boxes, carriers, etc.

Typically, I’d say that Pokémon is a game that is far too basic for someone who played Magic so heavily in his early years. However, it has some level of charm. The game is simplified and often doesn’t take quite as long as an average Magic game. There are also a really simplified set of mechanics that don’t require understanding how “the stack” works. Overall it’s just very fluid. While I generally prefer my games to be a bit more crunchy, I still find myself seeking him out to play a game before dinner or in our spare time.

Spending time with kids was something difficult for me to understand as an adult. Communication is often my biggest issue as I don’t typically understand how they’re processing the world. This game has helped me by focusing our interactions into something we can both understand and agree on, while having fun.

So, yeah. I guess Pokémon has helped me bond with my son. A sentence I never thought I’d write.

Computers Games

End of an Era

I got rid of my Linux gaming workstation the other day. The ~10 year old machine had served me well, especially considering it had cost me less than $1000 when I built it. Additionally, I only put minor upgrades into it. A generally unneeded extra 8gb of RAM and a sorely needed Nvidia 1060 6gb graphics card. The decision didn’t come lightly. I have been a gamer on some level for most of my life. I’m moving on from that, generally, now.

The decision to stop playing PC games was not one I wanted to make, but it was somewhat forced on me. As I grow older, I’m loosing out on time to more important tasks. I have schooling I’m trying to focus on, and I have a job, family and other responsibilities that I can’t ignore. Couple that with the fact that I don’t really need multiple gaming systems dividing my attention for entertainment, and that I just got a laptop that more than covers my mundane needs. I made a choice to remove excess.

Right now, I’m siting here, looking at all there is left of that system. A stack of Corsair RAM, several HDDs/SSDs and the 1060. I can’t help but wonder if it was the right decision to make. I’ll miss out on Doom: Eternal and probably the PC port of Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne. I find that I don’t care, though. I’m well enough entertained and the future is bright as far as the Switch, 2DS and iOS gaming goes. Maybe when I retire I’ll build myself a gnarly-ass rig and go all out — I doubt it, but it’s a nice thought.

Here’s to you, old PC, you got me through more than my fair share of downtime.