The Tomb of Kings – Paphos, Cyprus

Don’t let the Yelp review that complains about this “den of lies” deter you from making your way out to the the Tomb of Kings in Paphos, Cyprus. The writer of the review was mad that the title of the place did not live up to the expectations because they never saw a single king while they were visiting, and yes, there was some truth to this claim. Do not expect to come to this sight to see the vast tombs that hold the bones of once ago mighty kings. In fact, do not come out here expecting to see any bodies because there are none. I am not sure what happened to them, but I was amazed at the way I did not see any of them when strolling through the grassy knolls right off the ocean, but I don’t think that would have made this place any more exciting.

Basically, the Tomb of Kings is an old cemetery for the wealthy individuals who lived on Cyprus in the Hellenistic period. They built elaborate tombs to place their bodies, and then, like a lot of other places on Cyprus, time slowly buried them until centuries later archeologists came along and found them again. They started to unearth the tombs again, so people could come out and see the way people used to live over 2000 years ago.

The writer of the Yelp review might have been mad that all they got to see was a bunch of holes in the ground, and at first glance this is what this sight looks like. From the entrance to this archeological dig, there are a few tombs that were dug into the earth and to get there you have to walk down a precarious set of steps to get to these holes in the ground. But if you visit this sight, you need to move further down the shore and keep exploring those holes.

The tombs get more elaborate the further that you get into the sight. They still might not be tombs that were designed for kings, but they are still worth the effort to see. It highlights all of the classical architectural features from that era, and I can see why people want to come and see these tombs. It also makes me wonder how many more of them are buried underneath the ground that I walked on while I was visiting. There has to be more of these structures there, and I am sure that it only a matter of time before they are unearthed.

Despite the truth behind the Yelp review, I do not believe that the Tomb of Kings is really a den of lies. If you do not take the time or effort to really explore the sight, it does look like a bunch of holes in the ground. There is so much more to this place than that though. It may not have been kings who were buried here, but you get the royal treatment if you take the stroll to the end of the shore, and it is amazing how few people are willing to do that. Take the time to explore it fully before giving a review that might not be the truth of the place, and may even be creating your own den of lies.

The House of Dionysus – Paphos, Cyprus

I did not know a lot about the small island of Cyprus before I travelled out there for a long weekend. Everything I knew came from Shakespeare and Homer. I knew that many wars had fought on it because of its strategic position, and that it was one of the islands that Odysseus stopped at during his long voyage. Recently, there had been talks about Russian oligarchs losing their yachts that were parked on its shore, but beyond that I couldn’t tell much else about it.

I did discover that it is place of rich history and of great beauty. Just because of its location, I knew that I would be running into Greek and Roman ruins, and on my first day there, I was not disappointed. There are actually a lot of places to find ruins on the island, but the one that is closest to the waterfront of Paphos is the Kato Paphos Archeological Park. It sprawls all over a peninsula to the north and cost only 2.50 Euros for entry. I would recommend to go early because there is a lot to see and it closes down by 5 PM.

It is obviously still being dug up, so I am excited to go back in five or six years to see if anything has changed during that time, but in the meantime, there are a lot of hidden corners to explore that will keep anybody busy for a good portion of their day. There is also enough of variety among what to see so that it does not get boring. There are columns, caves, old buildings, and my favorite thing to see, the mosaics.

There is a really nice one in the House of Theseus which is out and exposed to the weather, and it really surprised me that they did not protect it better. I tried to get a good picture of it, but I had found it so late in the day that it was shrouded in shadows. Despite this, it was by far the most intricate of the mosaics and the best one to look at. I will leave it up to you to find it some day, and it will be worth the trip.

The House of Dionysus held the biggest collections of the mosaics, and most of them were surprisingly well preserved for how long they have been around. They depicted many of the greatest scenes from Greek mythology, and they had done a much better job of protecting them from the elements. Though all of the places that are presented in this historic sight, it was the House of Dionysus that impressed me the most. If you come here, and you don’t have a lot of time, I would make it for this spot because you will get the most out of the little time you have by coming here.

It was a nice introduction as to what the island of Cyprus had to offer, and it made me realize that there were many more surprises that I would find on my short weekend trip there.

Roman Ruins in Jordan

Just like moving to any country or new location there have been a lot of adjustments to make and a lot of surprises, but I think the biggest surprises I have seen have been the Roman ruins that are all over the place throughout Jordan. I know logically thinking about it now, it makes sense. The presence of the Romans was always in the background in the Bible, and historically, they control this part of the world for a long time in history, so of course, their mark should be all over the place. But it is one of those things that did not hit me as being a part of my life now until I actually lived among those ruins for a couple of months.

I know that I have not hit the most important of these ruin in Petra, and I have plans on visiting that in April, but that does not mean that I haven’t seen some more of the impressive sights. There are some that jump right out from the first moments that you arrive in Amman, and smaller ruins that you have to travel to by the Sea of Galilee, and a truly impressive collection that creates its own city in Jerash. Each of them have their own flavor, but each is also a great way to spend a day in you make it out to Jordan.

The easiest of these ruins to access is in the heart of Amman. You can easily get to them with a thirty minute cab ride from the airport, or even better, with a ten to fifteen minute ride from most hotels in central Amman. They are really hard to miss. From many vantage points from this hilly city, they can be seen if you just look down. Look for the amphitheater in the heart of the city, and sitting right above that is a collection of ruins that overlooks this iconic location. Both sights are worth visiting, but they have separate entrance fees, so beware. There is a pass that can be bought when first arriving in Jordan that will reduce the cost a bit, but it will only allow you into a limited amount of sights in the country. Make sure to save one of those for Petra because that will be one that you really will want to see, but the two in Amman are also nice additions.

The other sight that I would suggest that you visit is only a short hour drive north of Amman. It is in the heart of the city of Jerash. This city got its start many centuries ago from these ruins and there are some impressive sights to see within the grounds. There are two smaller amphitheaters than the one that can be seen in Amman, but they are nestled on an old Roman road that gives them a more authentic feel. There is a long field that once was used for charioteer races with the stands still intact on one side of the field. There are old temples dedicated to ancient Roman gods even though they still used the Greek names. And there is a huge circular courtyard that was once was used as the gathering place for all who lived there, and those who had travelled many miles to get there.

There are many other places where the sights of Roman ruins can be found in Jordan. I have just shared my few favorite ones that I have witnessed so far after living here for a few months. It makes Jordan one of those places that should be on everybody itinerary for world travel, and it surprises me how few people want to make the trip to this little corner of the world.

But if you do make it out here, you will not be disappointed by what you will find. Jordan is a place rich in history and culture. The people are warm and friendly, and not enough people know about its spectacular views making it the prefect vacation destination for those in the know.

St. Regis Hotel – Amman, Jordan

It has been awhile since I have taken a night away from home. Usually, when I have a four day weekend, I take the opportunity to get out and experience the world, but last four day weekend I was stuck at home because I had just adopted a new dog, and it was not fair of me to leave her behind while I went out and had fun. This did not mean that I did not itch to get out, and my friends had been telling me about this wonderful restaurant at the top of the St. Regis Hotel on the fifth circle in Amman. I was excited to try it out, so on a weekend when I could find a dog sitter that Zoey would be comfortable with, I booked a room in the hotel and got a reservation at Zenith, the rooftop restaurant that was the talk of the break room.

It is a beautiful hotel nestled on the edge of downtown Amman. When we first arrived at our room, the attendant that was showing us around, opened up the blinds to our room, and said, “Welcome to the Concrete Jungle.” It is hard to argue with him when you look out over the city and see the brown building all over the place, but at the same, that is part of the charm of this city. It is also nice to have this bird’s eye view of Amman. Most of the buildings do not go over the five story limit, so when I get to see the city from the sixteenth floor, it really highlights the continuity of its design.

Besides the view, the room was already comfortable. I have spending a lot of nights on Asian style beds, and they like to sleep on firm beds. I have grown accustomed to this, and in fact, enjoy it, but the beds at the St. Regis were fluffy and soft. I sunk right into the bed and instantly fell asleep. I don’t think that my back could handle sleeping on something so soft all of the time, but for a night or two, it was heavenly.

But the real reason that we decided to stay at the St. Regis hotel for a night was the restaurant on the roof, Zenith. This is a fancy spot with the same incredible views that we were able to see from our hotel room. It serves American inspired cuisine with many dishes that come from other parts of the world, but have that twist from the States. We started off with some poke, and then moved on to ceviche and a hearty steak with Roquefort sauce on top of it. I wish I had taken some pictures of it, but I had starved myself during the day in anticipation of this meal, and when it finally arrived, it couldn’t help by digging in. When I remembered to take a picture of the food, it was more than half way gone. The point being, it was that good, and though pricey, it was definitely worth what we had paid for it.

What I did take pictures of was the drinks. These were just as fancy as the food, and Zenith boasts a cocktail menu with a variety of drinks, none of which disappointed. They also come in fun mugs or glasses which makes the experience even more memorable. Despite the drinks being good here, I would say that the bar on the ground level made the best cocktail of the evening with a cognac old fashion. It would be a good place to start before going upstairs for the bigger event at Zenith.

The best part of the evening was being able to leisurely make our way back to our room after a hearty dinner. There waiting for us was a big bathtub and a comfy bed. It was a nice way to spend a weekend night. I don’t know if I will head back to stay another night at the hotel, but considering the St. Regis is so close to my home in Amman, I will be back for a dinner at Zenith. It has easily made the mark as my favorite restaurant in Amman so far.

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.

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.

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.

The Difference a Year Makes

Many people think of this time of the year as an ending, and time to renew our lives to push for something new and better. Though this is a great way of thinking about the year, I rather like to look back at where I was and the voyage I have taken during the year.

The year looks like it is going to end much the same way it began, with Covid being the major concern of nations. When the year began, I was living in Thailand and the government was threatening to shut down the country at any time. We were constantly keeping one eye on the news as we rode the vacation wave that we were on touring the country.

We still had to cut that trip short. There were many places we had visited on that trip but there were a couple that we were unable to go to because we had come back early. The big one was Khoa Sok in the southern part of the country by Phuket. It was the one place that did allow us to change our date though and didn’t just take our deposits as the natural consequences of making these choices during this unstable time in the world. We were able to go back in March and enjoy the beauty of that part of the country.

In April, things around the world were starting to loosen up, but Thailand was still dragging its feet on collecting vaccines for its population and hoping that tourism could save their economy. We took advantage of this sliver of time before thing really locked down to go to the very southern tip of Thailand to the small island of Koh Lipe. It was my last hurrah in the country because I had signed for a new job in Jordan the next year, and this would be my last opportunity to enjoy the beauty that this tropical East Asian country had to offer. It ended up being one of the best trips I had taken in that country, and I felt lucky to have gotten it in.

By the time May had rolled around, the country was in complete lockdown and we were back online. It made my last few days in the country seem very anti-climatic. My last moments were a mad rush to an airport as we took one of the few planes flying out of the country to make it back to the United States. It made me feel like I had left a couple of loose ends that needed to be taken care of, but for the most part, this wasn’t the case. Thailand disappeared quickly in my memory as I made the needed adjustments for my next adventure in the International teaching scene.

But first, I got to have some time in the United States visiting with family and friends who I had not seen for a couple of years due to the pandemic. More importantly, we stopped at a couple of pharmacies so we could get vaccinated. We did spend a lot of our time away from the general population until we got this done, but it was nice to be back in America and making steps to get back to what we would hope would be normalcy again.

And for a time in July, it felt like this was the case. I spent most of that month back in Colorado with my family, getting ready to take a hop over a different ocean this time, instead of my usual voyage west over the Pacific. It was nice being back in the cooler, drier air of Colorado, and I was glad that I got to spend a lot of time outside, going back to a lot of the places I had not been to for a long time.

But like all trips, it eventually had to come to an end, and I had to pack up my worldly possessions in August to move to Jordan. As far as Covid was concerned, things were looking better in this part of the world than Thailand which had shut down completely as it had just started to get its population vaccinated. It was a new challenge moving to my new school, but one that I was happy to accept, and the best part was that the school year would be in person and no longer on-line.

The school year definitely kept me busy, but it was a fun kind of busy. I enjoyed working with my new colleagues, and we had made some good friends along the way. This wasn’t all without heartache. We had a short time where we brought a new puppy into our lives, but she had come down with distemper, and we had to say goodbye quickly. It still made me realize how much I loved having a puppy around, and it made me realize that we would need to add an addition like this to our lives very soon.

In October, we were able to have our first break since we arrived, and it was fun to get out and travel again. Leaving the country we were in was still not an easy endeavor, but it was a new adventure as we got to explore what Jordan had to offer. We instantly went back to the water and took a short trip down to the Dead Sea first.

And by November, we continued to explore Jordan by leaving all water behind, and going to the set of Dune down at Wadi Rum. It amazed me to think that I had started the year in the Tropical environs of Thailand, and ended it up in this start landscape where I had to bundle up at night to stay warm.

By the time December rolled around, the rumbling of a new variant was working its way through the news, and there were threats of going back online. Countries around the world are once again shutting their doors to travelers, and it indicates that the struggle I was witnessing at the beginning of the year is still a threat. Even though, I have made an exciting journey during the course of this year, it is funny to see that the world is still in the same place. It still does not mean that I am not excited for what the next year has to offer, and I hope to see those changes that I long for so I can get back to telling you stories about the amazing places that this world has to offer.