Welcome

I guess you are here because you have discovered one of my books and enjoyed it enough to find out more about the author, me. Either that or you’re a potential employer who is investigating me to see if I would be a good fit for your organization. In which case, surprise, I write books as well as teach. Some might look at that as a bad thing, and if so, please explain to me how.

For whoever finds my site, I want to welcome you, and also allow you the opportunity to follow me on a regular basis. Anybody is welcome as long as you keep your posts appropriate, and respect the other followers to this site. As long as everybody follows those two simple rules, I won’t have to kick anybody off. Let the friendly banter begin.

I am hoping to create an interactive site that everybody can enjoy. Of course, I will keep you up to date on the latest writings coming out of my head, and I will also let you know when and where I will be in the world, so someday you might be able to meet me in person. Most people regret that decision, but who knows, maybe you’ll be in the minority.

I will also tell you about my world-wide travels as this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll show you pictures from places I have been (this one is from Dubrovnik, better known to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire as King’s Landing), and tell you the exciting stories that happen to me along the way. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you may have about the place I have been, and I will try to answer them in a timely manner.

I know it all sounds amazing, and I can see you wondering why you haven’t been a part of this fantastic experience so far, but let me tell you about the most exciting part of following this site – the interactive part.  You were probably wondering when I would get to that part I had promised you earlier. Well, I plan to create a list every month, and I want you to participate in its formation. I do love countdowns, but I am always disappointed in them. So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. You will be able to post your top ten of each monthly list and at the end of each month, I will comprise the total list to give you the countdown for that subject. Look for each new subject on the first day of each month, and the final list of the previous month by the fifteenth.

Otherwise, it is very nice to have you a part of this experience, and I look forward to all of our future posts together.

Snow Day

Start the year under the cover of snow,
Giving us the pretense of innocence.
We really have no place we need to go,
So let the storm outside rage more intense.
From the safety of my frosted window
I’ll watch the growing accumulation.
It is my favorite afternoon show,
Better than the lies on television.
I love to listen to the cold wind blow
As I take another sip of coffee.
Winter has yet become my greatest foe,
But wait until April, and we will see.
I believe I have given my reason
Of why I enjoy this change of season.

The Feywild

You have walked into the land of the fey,
And now you are subjected to their laws.
All the creatures look like they want to play,
Petting you gently with their enormous paws,
But beware of their secret intentions.
You are another beast among the trees
Who responds well to gratification,
And soon you will do things for them just to please.
The forest needs a human touch to thrive,
And those foolish enough to cross that breech
Will forfeit what’s left of their simple lives
To suggestive whispers of fey speech.
You are not the greatest of creatures
And only valued for pretty features.

The Holidays at Home

Things are starting to slow down again, and we are starting to pack up the decorations and waving goodbye to loved ones as they make their way back to their homes. The holidays are over, and it is time to find ourselves in that slower groove that comes with our regular routine. And though the bills coming in might depress us a bit, I think it is important to look back at the holidays, and remember why we put ourselves through it every year.

It is a time of the year where the little things that we do not always get to notice become more obvious. The decorations that people put together can be subtle, but they can make us laugh and put us in a better mood just by having seen them. It is also nice knowing that the little details that we put together for someone else has been appreciated as well. We might forget these things as we move on with our busy lives, but these are the things we should remember when the weight of responsibility starts to get us down.

It is also a time when the inclement weather does not get us down as much. A snowstorm in December is a different event than the ones that bear down on us in March or April. The blanket that it produces is just an extra touch that adds more to the moment because we do not have those places we need to get to, and it forces us to slow down a bit and enjoy the moment. I know that it can become a chore later on as we have to pull out the shovel again to make sure we can get our car out of the garage, but we should really enjoy on those days where we are not forced to address this concern with the cold snow.

And for ourselves, we get to find those small moments we can slow down and recharge our batteries. Life can be busy and hectic, and sometimes we can forget to take care of ourselves. But when we are shut indoors with a heavy snow coming down, there is no excuse but to let things go and just enjoy the afternoon with a little nap.

But I think the thing that I enjoy the most when I get to go home for the holidays is seeing all of my family again. All of the other stuff is nothing more than fluff. The time at home should be about home. It should be about getting together with those that you love, so you can share in laughter and good conversation. Yes, it is centered around tradition, and sometimes we forget about the most important thing because we put too much weight on those things that we believe need to be done. But in reality, life will be fine if you did not find the time to bake those cookies, or you were unable to find that perfect picture for the Christmas card. It all gets forgotten the moment that you lose yourself in your family, and that is the most important thing to take from this time of the year. I know we will all soon forget what this time of the year brought. Some of us have already done so. I also know that it will be easy to lose yourself to school or work as you push your way through the colder months. We will have to endure a couple of Hallmark holidays, and soon the lazy dog days of summer will occupy our minds more than the cold comfort of the end of the year. But when things start to get you down during those times of the year, think back to this time and how you felt. It may be the greatest gift you can take with you throughout the whole year.

Thank you for those memories for everybody I got to spend time with over the last couple of weeks. It has been wonderful to be back in the United States for the holidays, and I treasure those moments I got to spend with you. It may be awhile before I get to see you again, but I will take those memories with me as I hope you do as well.

I Failed My Test

I just sat down to write this blog post about getting ready to travel back to Jordan and having to get my PCR test done before I made it on to the flight when from upstairs at the house I am staying at, I heard the words I wanted to hear, “You’re negative!” It is a relief to know that I will not have to worry about that aspect of my travels right now. There are many other things I will have to think about as I try to make a couple of connections, and hope that all of the flights continue on the way that they are supposed to, but for right now the first hurdle has been cleared.

Flying across the world has always been a stressful experience because there are so many little factors and if one of them falls apart along the way, it will mess everything up in ways that could make the events a disaster. But now with Covid-19, there have been a few more wrinkles that have been thrown into the plans that add a few more factors that could make things fall apart happen more. Some countries are asking for a negative PCR test 72 hours before boarding a flight, and the United States has upped that by making the PCR test within the last 24 hours. It just means that any trip that I take internationally, I get to take a trip to a PCR testing site to get my test taken to make sure I can return back to the country where I live. I completely understand the reason why, but that does not mean that I will always enjoy the experience.

I had to actually go out twice to make sure that I had gotten my results in time. The new omicron variant complicated things as well. Because of the rise of Covid-19 right now, there are many people that are going out to get their tests done. This has created long lines not only at the testing sites, but also adding backing up the places where they processed the tests to get the results back to the people who took the test in the first place. I could also not just show up at a place to get a test done. I had to schedule an appointment and still sit in long lines before I was able to get a swab stuck up my nose. Luckily, my wife scheduled two appointments, one at a place that would get the results back in 72 hours, and rapid results place. Both of them were difficult to schedule, and we were lucky to have them.

I did go out on a rainy day two days ago to get my first test done. We were able to sit in our car as we waited to get to the place where we would get our test. This was nice because it was a rainy Oregon day, and I don’t know what that would have been like if I had to sit outside while waiting to get tested. I sat in the line for a couple of hours, and eventually got tested. As of right now, I still have not gotten the results back yet, and the lady that administered the test told us that getting the results back in 72 hours might not happen because of the amount of tests that they had been given recently.

I took my second test a couple of hours ago, and this was a completely different experience. I had to drive to downtown Portland, park the car, and stand outside to wait for my turn to get the test. Luckily, the rain had stopped while we were waiting. I could not imagine someone who was sick right now, standing in that line in order to get tested if it had been raining outside. That could not have been good for them, so I wonder what they do when that happens. This line only took about 45 minutes to get through, but you could only join it if you had an appointment. The lab where they were doing the results was at the site, and they were able to process it quickly. In fact, on the ride home, my wife was given her results. I had to wait a little longer, but it was within a couple of hours of having taken the test.

It was a little bit of an inconvenience to have to do this, but that is the kind of world we live in right now. It is nice to know that I am safe enough to fly and that the people I will be sharing the flight with will also have the same negative results. I also know that it should not be forever, and there will be a day when we can go back to taking a flight the way we always used to without having these extra hoops to jump through. I am glad I made it through that first hoop, and I know I have a few more to get through, but in the end, I should find myself back in the safety of my home with the memory of spending the holidays with family and friends to hold on to.

Wet versus Dry

It is a rare thing when Colorado gets to be in the national spotlight, or even talked about at a level internationally. Usually, when it happens, it is due to some extreme story that does not make this part of the United States look great. There have been many tragic shootings, and fires that have devastated much of the forests in the mountains. But the fire that took place recently outside of Boulder, Colorado might be one of the most tragic that Colorado has encountered. Though only a couple people have ended up missing, over a thousand home burned down, and has changed the lives of all those people who have been displaced.

At the time of this writing, it is still has not been determined how the fire in the middle of a residential area got started. The initial thought that high, strong winds knocked down some power lines has been ruled out, but one thing is sure that if it was an act of nature, an accident, or something more malicious, there is one factor that cannot be denied about why it was so destructive, the dry conditions that Colorado has been experiencing this winter. After talking with people there, I was told about how little moisture they had been getting. There was a heavy rain back in the end of July, and they had a snow that collected an inch during the early days of autumn, but besides that there has been nothing. Colorado is already a desolate looking place during the autumn months, but extend that into winter, and it is only a matter of time that a fire will get started and we will witness the destruction like we last week.

On the flip side of that coin is too much rain. I have also been lucky to have spent some time in Oregon during this break as well, and if the main color in Colorado in December was brown, the main color in Oregon has been a bright green. This is not true for the whole state, but I have only been able to see what life is like in Portland, and it has rained most of the time that I have gotten off of the plane until now. It hasn’t been the typical mist in the air kind of rain that Portland usually experiences during the holidays either. There have been significant downpours, and if you travel further west into the higher elevations, this rain has turned into snow. And they are getting a lot of snow too. I-84 and a lot of the mountain passes have been closed due to too much snow falling in a short period of time, and it does not look like it will be stopping anytime soon. In fact, in certain parts of Portland, there have been Flood Watches and Advisories issued through Friday afternoon.

It all comes down to a statement that a lot of people have been saying to others lately, “Odd weather we’ve been having lately.” These statements are not just uttered in Colorado or Oregon either. There have been December tornadoes in Kentucky, severe drought conditions in Jordan, cyclone warnings in Australia, and sunny days in Antartica. Weather is out of balance, and we sit around and comment about how that is odd. There is a simple explanation for this odd behavior, but seem to want to be too polite to actually say it out loud in the random chance that we might offend someone. But these occurrences are going to get stranger, and more frequent unless we acknowledge that there is a problem, and start to do something to correct this problem. We have to admit that climate change is happening, and we not only need to change our habits to try to correct it, but we need to make sure that our laws and economic future also reflect these changes in our behavior. But it all starts by admitting that it is out there. So the next time you talk about the tragedy of nature, or the odd weather that we are experience, let the person know who you are talking to that it is a matter of climate change. They need to hear it, and the only way we will change our ways if we quit being polite about it.

Work, A Cure for Jet lag

For a world traveler, there are many obstacles that a person can face, losing their passport, language barriers, and cultural misunderstandings, but the one that every traveler will experience and hate to fight through is the dreaded jet lag. Those days of wandering around like a zombie as you try to catch up to the time zone that you find yourself in are the worst. You will find yourself sleeping in the middle of the day, and missing out on the experiences you could be having just because you can’t get your head straight.

Many people have come up with various ways to minimize the impact that jet lag will have on you, such as staying awake the whole way there wile avoiding an stimulants, to having various catnaps to on the trip to try to make the adjustment. You can try taking melatonin right before getting on the plane and crash for the whole flight to feel refreshed, or when you arrive, you could keep yourself busy to trick your mind into thinking that it has been there for its whole life, and quickly fall into that time zones groove. These have varying degrees of success that are different for every person who attempts each strategy. I even find that what worked for me once does not work at all the next time I attempt it. But thanks to Covid, I have come up with a new way to get over jet lag that has actually been very effective every time I have used it as a method, work.

I know, you are calling me crazy. You go traveling to get away from work, and why would you want to bring this with you when you go and see what the world has to offer. But if given this rare chance to battle jet lag in this way, you should try it because it really works.

At the end of last school year, my school was on-line due to the pandemic, and the school announced that it would end the year that way. This gave me the opportunity to leave the country early, and do my work from anywhere in the world where I wanted. I just needed to make sure that I was doing my work in the same time zone that my work was in. Over the weekend, I flew to America, and during the night I spent my time finishing up the school year. I was staying with my in-laws so I had to adjust my clock a bit to finish the day with school instead of starting with it. When the week was over, making the next slip in time was no struggle at all, and it took only a minor adjustment to get over jet lag.

Because of the omicron variant, the school I am working at right now is starting the second semester on-line. It is only a two week adjustment, but it allowed me to extend my stay in the United States. I still have to work this week, and it will take place in the middle of the night, but I am in the process of the same adjustment with time. I worked late last night and slept away most of the morning. Over the weekend, I will make the jump over to Jordan, and when I get there, I will have to hop into that time fame and work right away. I won’t have time to think about jet lag, and I will already have made half of the adjustment this week. I believe that I will be able to get into the groove rather quickly.

It might sound silly, but it is a great way to get over this greatest of inconveniences for any traveler. Of course, this is not something that will be made available at all time because most people are not allowed to continue doing their job from anywhere in the world. But this is one of the small advantages of the Covid pandemic that we are given that chance from time to time. It still involves making some adjustments, but they are smaller and I find that they are easier to get over. I am in the first part of the process right now, and will continue the next step in the following week, but I am expecting the minimal effect from this long travel around the world this time around.

Back to the On-line Grind

I know that the New Year should be greeted with renewed optimism, and excitement for the days ahead. We should be looking at what has come in the past, and how it has allowed us to grow in the future. It is a time of reflection, and adjustment, one that we should look forward to every year.

This was before the advent of Covid-19. The last two year have felt like a decade and it is hard to believe that this world-shattering event hasn’t even reached its second anniversary. We always seem to be able to take a couple of steps forward so we can return to a lifestyle we once knew, but then something else comes into play that reminds us that this pandemic has not ended yet. First, it was the Delta variant over the Summer, and now it is the evil sounding Omicron that is producing numbers the likes of we have never seen since this pandemic began. It has forced us to return to the ways that we were hoping to avoid all along. So 2022 will start with the one thing I have been hoping to avoid all school year, on-line learning.

A recent email from my school stated that when we return to school after the break, we will be going on-line until the 17th. This date may be extended depending on what is happening with the Covid pandemic at the time, and the way it is going, it looks like this is a strong possibility. I know that it is the right thing to do. Schools need to keep their students and staff safe, and we should not be subjected to the chances of people who are not willing to take the necessary precautions to make sure everyone is safe. Schools are also a great breeding ground for the disease. There is not a single a elementary school teacher that can go the whole year without catching some disease from their walking petri-dishes that inhabit their classrooms. And it should not surprise people that high school students can be just as bad. They share food and water bottles without thinking what they are doing and what they are spreading. Many of them complain about having to wear the masks in the first place because it hinders their ability to look good, so it is a constant battle to get them to put them on correctly. With all of these factors, it is no surprising that we are going back on-line, especially as the numbers worldwide spike to more than a million new cases a day.

Still, it is not a great way to start the new year. There are many challenges that come with teaching on-line. Many students are not as engaged in the lessons, and many of them fall further and further behind in their studies. My students this year are significantly behind where they should be because they has spent all of last year on-line, and they are complaining that they are being pushed too hard. It scares me to think what the next generation of people will bring because of this pandemic, and the holes that students are getting in their learning. But the battle must rage on and I need to prepare to push through. I need to make sure that my students get the education that they need to be successful in life and to take the ever increasing challenges that the world will present.

The point being is that if you know any teachers who are going through this, please understand that they are doing their best to give the best education possible. Also remember that students are going through a lot at this time as well, and they need the encouragement to keep moving forward. There are also the parents of these students whose lives have been turned upside down because of this new way of living. They have to give up a lot to make sure that their sons and daughters are being taken care of properly. Give them all the patience that they need as they continue to work their way through this challenging time.

And most importantly, do what you can to bring this pandemic to an end. Avoid large gatherings, wear your mask, and most importantly get vaccinated. They are small things, but if we pull together as a world society we will defeat this ugly beast, and return to a world that is better for everybody involved.

Thank you, and have a Happy New Year.

A Snowy New Year

It started last night when I arrived at my brother’s house. I had gone down to Castle Rock so I could ring in the New Year with a couple of my family members, and there was a little grumbling about how it was a terrible night to have it snow. It would make driving difficult, and a bunch of idiots would be out on the road after they had drunk one too many. There would be wrecks all over the place, and the police would be driving around to make sure everybody was safe. If only it could have waited a couple more days, the much anticipated snow would be welcomed in the state of Colorado.

I did not feel the same way. First of all, the first big snow of the year would keep people from going out and doing stupid things. It would also bring much needed moisture for an area of the world that was thirsting for any drop. The fires that started up north and destroyed a big part of Boulder county would also welcome the snow because it would put an end to the destruction.

These were all great reasons to be excited about the snow, but the real reason I wanted to see it was because it was snow! I remember a time in my life when I would grumble and complain like many of the other people that I spent the night with when the snow continued to pound the front range throughout the course of the Winter. Most of these complaints came during the later Winter months such as late February, March, and late into April when I was done with the wet and cold. But it has a different feeling when it first arrives. It brings in the change of the season, and marks an end to the one I had just experienced. I would get enjoy cold days of drinking hot coffee and looking out the window and the snow collected on the ground, creating a blanket of calm and peacefulness. I would have an excuse to snuggle in the warmth of my home while reading good books and watching movies. I knew I would eventually tire of this feeling, but when it first began, I would get excited about the prospect of what the next few months would bring.

It had been at least two years since I had experienced this change of the season, and I never knew how much I would miss it. I know it seems like a silly thing to miss, but there is a certain amount of joy that comes with the changing of the seasons. As the earth makes its rotation around the sun, the seasons give you a small, little thing to always look forward to. Every three to four months, you get to change the way you live your life, so you will not fall into rut of an everyday routine. When I lived in the eternal summer months of Thailand, I quit paying attention to pages of the calendar flipping because it meant nothing more than another day of more of the same.

Of course, part of the reason that I came out to Colorado for the Winter Break was to see my family and spend the holidays with them. It was great to hop around from home to home and enjoy their company for an evening or two. I was able to create a few new memories that I will take with me as I fly back to Jordan and return to my life there. But I will be honest; this was not the only reason that I came out. I wanted to see that snow. I wanted to experience the change of the seasons, and as my time out here continued, I kept on missing that chance. As I was making my way to the New Year’s Eve celebration, I was happy to see snow spitting from the sky. As the night progressed, I was even more excited to see it collect on the patio furniture in the back yard. And as I woke up this morning to greet the New Year, I was excited to see the whole city had been covered in this white goodness.

I know many of you might not have had the same experience, and you may not feel the same way as I do, but I hope that your New Year’s celebrations brought you what you wanted to get out of them. I also hope that 2022 brings you happiness and joy, and that you get to anticipate something great as well, no matter how small that thing may be.

Oath: Chronicles of Empire & Exile – A Review

Hints of Oath: Chronicles of Empire & Exile started to surface at the beginning of the year, and there was something about it that instantly made me want to not just play it, but to own a copy of the game. All games have a central idea around it, and they usually focus on things such as dungeon crawl, cooperative, abstract, economic, area control, or role playing. Recently, some game have added a new aspect to it to add a campaign experience to the gameplay called legacy, and I have always been intrigued by these games because it would create a storytelling element to it that would make the experience of playing it unforgettable. The only problem I had with games like this is that after you have completed the cycle of the legacy, it could not be played again. This is a lot of money to spend on a game for only a limited amount of game time. Leder Games saw this problem and designed a game around legacy games’ central appeal, a sense of history.

Think about it. What if you had a game board that created its own history? Every game presented its own set of characters that played out their stories in various landscapes with their own objectives that created a new direction that the world would turn. Then take that world at the end of each game, let the winner write down this history of what happened, and then set up the game for a completely new experience the next time around with a new cast of characters playing their stories out in new landscapes with different directions.

And unlike all other legacy games, Leder Games have set up a system where, like history, the story never ends. This was too exciting of a concept for me to ignore this game, and now that I have played it, I am excited to share my thoughts on its unique and yet familiar style of play.

THEME

Three areas of the kingdom, the Cradle, the Provinces, and the Hinterlands, is tentatively held together by the rule of the Chancellor. This fledgling government has deployed war bands on some of the lands that it rules of over to keep control over other sights overrun with bandits, and even worse, the scheming exiles who are looking to take over the kingdom for themselves. In the first game, the Chancellor will try to keep control over his land by sheer force of his army, but this is not the only way that the exiles can overthrow this dictator. These other ways come in the form of Visions.

One of the exiles might find in the middle of the night that they have obtained a dream that they can interpret different ways. Maybe if they could collect the secrets of the court and use them to their advantage to make their way up through the ranks. Or they might become the most popular person in all of the land and get the favor of the people. Or they might search the lands for the hidden treasures that have been left behind for a time long forgotten. These powerful artifacts could help them in their rise to power.

The Chancellor still has another trick up his sleeve. He has collected a few of these powerful artifacts and has placed them in his treasury. At any time, he can offer one of these powerful artifacts to one of the exiles, and offer them citizenship into his kingdom. With citizenship comes certain privileges, and new paths to taking over the kingdom as a successor.

All of this takes place in a closed economy where favor is passed off to different factions within the kingdom who use that favor to unleash their special influence over the land. But one faction may gain too much favor which causes the economy fall into the control of the ones who may have advisors who are friends with those factions, making it harder for the other players.

Overall the story sounds like a complicated game of courts and politics that has enough variety to it to allow a different story to unfold every time the game is played. Add into the unique legacy aspect of the game that creates history for each individual game box and you are left with a fun and exciting story that will have you begging to play a new game as soon as you finish one.

Rating – 10

GAMEPLAY

A game with this complicated of a story line might scare away some people away because the gameplay must be as complicated to support it. It might scare others away because there is no way that a designer could take on such an ambitious endeavor without it all falling apart. It would take quite the balancing act to make this work out properly.

But this is where the genius of Cole Wehrle comes into play. He has already made his mark with other four-lettered games such as Root and Fort, and each of those games has its own unique twist on gameplay that makes it unique, but Oath is by far his most ambitious. There is enough asynchronous game play going on this game that you have to pay attention to what other people are doing, or before you know it, they will have taken over control of the kingdom. The nice thing about this gameplay is that, except for the Chancellor whose role is to react to what is going on, the rest of the players have the opportunity to choose their own paths to victory. All of this come in a set of choices that when stripped down are not as complicated as it would seem to be in a game like this. There are elements of randomness, but it is adds more to the story rather than being frustrating when a person looses due to some unlucky role of the dice.

Despite all of these different ways of going about pushing your influence out on to the game board, the gameplay is rather easy to pick up and figure out. There are only six different actions you can take per turn, and some minor actions that you can participate in as well, so it does not take long to figure out what you can and cannot do. Strategy takes a little longer to figure out because you are not always aware of all the new cards you will see during a game and how they will be able to help or hinder your gameplay. It is what makes the game exciting and fun each time you play this.

It is a little more crunchy than a typical game, and takes some time to figure out, but Leder Games added a walkthrough of the first round of the first game that you play. It talks you through what would be the best move for four players based on what they have in their hands and what cards they draw. It also talks about why this is an important move for each person to help wrap your mind around the strategy of the game. So even though, it may appear complicated and intimidating, they help ease you into the game.

The best part of all of this is that the gameplay and the different cards that you get to see for advisors, artifacts, and locations with different win conditions not only playing out during each game, but for each player that each game is a unique experience. It also feeds directly into the theme and creates a unique story each time that you play. People who love this storytelling element in their games will obviously make the story come alive more as the game plays out, but do not think of the stories that this game tells is like one that plays out in role playing games. The strokes are more broad with the narrative and important moments in the history of your board are the ones that you will be talking about long after the game is finished. People who bought the Kickstarter version of the game even received a journal where they could write down the story after each play of the game and how that has expanded their overall history. It was one of the things I was really excited about, and was really disappointed that I did not get it with the version I bought through retail, but a quick trip to a local bookstore, and a purchase of a cheaper journal fixed this problem rather quickly. The one I got even looks like it might have originally been part of the game to begin with.

Rating – 10

ARTWORK

If you know anything about Leder Games, then you know that each one of their games has a certain look to it that adds to the overall enjoyment of the game. Kyle Ferrin has a certain art style that quickly recognizable and can be seen in their other two games, Root and Fort. He has taken great care with each of the cards, whether, it is one of the advisors, lands or artifacts. It is not only a great card to look at, but each cartoon character begs for its own story to tell that will add to the narrative that your group tells. It also adds a different kind of levity to the game. This is easily a game that could come across as being extremely dark as war, and court intrigue play out in every session, and if the artwork was designed to to reflect this darkness, then I feel like it would be a completely different game.

The game board also has a unique design. It is not a big piece of cardboard that you unfold and place on the table, or a collection of tiles that you have to piece together. It is a nice mat that you role out and place your pieces on. It does provide the basic knowledge that you need to have in order to play the game, but for the most part, until you add the other pieces, it does not add a lot to the overall gameplay.

Great care also went into creating the game pieces. Though the only difference between the war-bands that you use during battle is the color, the pieces that represent the various exiles and Chancellor reflect the personality of each of them. Of course, the Chancellor’s piece is taller that any of the other ones that just adds to the fragile nature of his character, as if he is taller somehow makes him better. The pieces also have the same feel as the cards that are played and once again help you to become a part of the world that you are playing in.

The game not only is a lot of fun to play, but it also has a great look to it that adds to the game play. The Kickstarter version of the game even went so far as to make the favor and secrets plastic which adds more to the overall experience, but they are nothing more than cardboard punch-outs if you buy the retail version of the game. It was a little disappointing when I opened the box, but it was quickly forgotten when I looked at all of the other artwork that game had to offer.

Rating – 9

INTERACTIVITY

As always, the main reason I enjoy to play games is because it allows me the opportunity to hang out with friends and enjoy an experience unlike any other. Some games have low levels of interactivity where the players are over in the corner doing their own thing, and it isn’t until the end of the game and everybody counts up their points that the interactive aspect of the game begins. Oath is not this kind of game. The game forces you to interact with other people and either work together to stop the bigger threat, or fight against your greatest enemy. Some people are trying to be sneaky, while others are using all of their force to win the game. You will be spend a lot of the time playing this game interacting with each other. When I played, as soon as the game got going, there was not one of us that were sitting down. We were so excited about what was going on that we were walking around the table, looking at different points of attack and strategizing about how we could pull off a win. Nobody was ever completely out of the game, and at any moment, a simple turn could change the tide of the game. I absolutely loved the aspect of this game.

The battles also added a lot of dramatic tension that I had not seen since playing the old area control games, and it was not a long drawn-out tension like you might see in other area control games, such as Risk or Axis and Allies. Basically, it is one role of the dice for both the attacker and the defender. At first look, the attacker has the advantage because they have a handful of dice compared to the defenders couple of dice. But the dice that the defender uses are more powerful, and even though, the attacker won most of the time, the battle would leave both sides devastated. I believe this to be the most accurate depiction of war I have ever seen. Very rarely, does someone just come in and destroy the other side without taking any casualties. It just means that there has to be a good reason to attack, and you had better have a lot of war-bands mustered before you attempt it.

There is also a lot going on in the game, so you need to keep a close eye on everything happening, or someone might sneak in a win when you least expected it. The bottom line is I spent a lot of time interacting with the people I was playing with, and because of the legacy nature of the game, it would be best to try and find the same people to play with on a consistent basis, or they might lose what is going on with the history of the board. The set up for the next game took a long time to figure out, and people got bored while this was going on, but if the winner spends that time writing their history down and sharing it afterwards, it will add to the overall experience.

Rating – 10

EXPANSIONS

At the time of the writing of this review, there are no expansions to Oath. I have not even heard of hints or rumors about expansions coming later, but considering the game is less than a year old, it does not surprise me. If it is anything like Leder Games other big hit, Root, there will be extra packs of cards added to the game, and new complications to keep people interested in playing the game for years to come. Right now, the only thing that you can buy to add to the experience is the leather bound journal to keep track of your board’s history, but I am still a little annoyed that this does not come with the game. I do believe it is the main draw of the game and it is the one thing that really make this game more unique than any other I have ever played. As of right now, this is not one of the strong points of the game, but there is enough going on in the game to keep you engaged, and you will not replay a game any time soon.

Rating – 5

OVERALL

I have loved my experience with the game so far, and I am constantly thinking about the next time I will get to enjoy it again. I love the history aspect of the game, and how each play is completely different, but somehow still familiar. Its gameplay is simple enough that I feel confident in what I am doing, but complex enough that I still feel like there is a lot I have to learn about the game to get really good at it. I do hope that they have plans to make expansions for this game, so that it stays fresh and exciting for each game play and allows me to continue to add on to the history of my board. With this in mind, this is not a game for everyone. Though the rule book is short, there are enough of them to keep certain people away from this game. It is also rather expensive, so before buying, you might want to make sure that you have a group of friends that will be excited about playing it over and over again. If you do have that group of friends, it could easily become that group’s favorite game, and I could see it being pulled out time and time again.

Overall Rating – 4.4 Stars out of 5

Merry Christmas

I know that I have many friends around the world who have already woken up and opened their presents. Some have even eaten their Christmas dinners and have already gone to bed, but that does not mean that the holiday is over.

I also know that while I write this, there are other parts of the world that are still snuggled in their beds with the presents still wrapped underneath the Christmas tree. They might not receive this message until later, but it will still get to them.

I will be sharing the message all day long, and I hope though this may be the only way that you receive it, and it may come a little too early or a little too late, please know that the sentiment is the same.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays. May we all find joy in the little things we find this time of year, and may that happiness last until next year when we will have the opportunity to refresh it again.