Codenames – The Board Game

Hello again all.

Hey there!

Being the avid board game player that I am, I felt like writing about one this week.

Can you guess which game that is?

Well, we did read the title.

Smart (alec), as always.

The game is Codenames.

Codenames is a word deduction game, for 2 to 8 players (best with 4, 6 or 8 players in my opinion), created by Vlaada Chvatil.

The players are divided into two teams. Both teams square off against one another, trying to find their own team’s hidden words before the other team does.

In each team, one player is assigned the “Master Spy” title, and all other players in that team are assigned the “Spy” title. The master spy sits across the table from his teammates (the spies in his team); both master spies sit on the same side of the table, whereas both team’s spies sit on the opposite side of the table.

25 words are placed in the center of table, in a 5×5 grid. The master spies have a plastic stand in which they place one of the many “Word Assigning” cards, facing them. This card must only be visible to them; the spies must have the backside of the card facing them, so that they cannot see where the words have been assigning.

This card assigns the 25 words on the table as follows: 9 words are assigned to one team (let’s say blue), 8 words are assigned to the other team (let’s say red), 7 words are assigned to no team (neutral words), and 1 word is assigned as the assassin (your team loses if you pick this word at any point during the game).

Below is the grid of 25 words, the assigning card standing up (bottom left, directly in front of the hourglass), and the coloured rectangle markers (bottom right)—which I will explain shortly—:

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The team with 9 words begins the game (they have one more word than the other team to guess seeing as they have the advantage of playing first).

So, how does the master spy give hints to his spies to help them guess the words?

Great question:

On his/her turn, the master spy is allowed to say only 1 word, followed by one number. The word is meant to orient his/her teammates to some of their words on the table; the number is meant to indicate how many cards on the table relate to the previously said word.

For example, if your team has the words TENNIS, BASKETBALL, and SOCCER, your hint could be as follows:

SPORT – 3.

This tells your teammates that there are 3 words of the 25 words on the table that you must guess that are related to SPORTS.

The spies discuss openly, deducting which words they think are the 3 that the master spy is alluding to. Once they have decided, one player touches the first card they would like to guess—normally the one your team is the most certain of. The master spy then puts a corresponding coloured rectangle marker (blue if it’s a blue team’s word, red if it’s a red team’s word, white if it is a neutral word, black if it is the assassin) over the chosen word. If the team guessed correctly, they now attempt to guess the second word; however, if the team guesses incorrectly, at any point, their turn is over, and they cannot guess any more words this turn. The turn then passes to the other team’s master spy, who must give one word and one number, hinting in the same fashion as described above.

Play continues like this until one team has covered all of their team’s words on the table, in which case they win, or if one team guesses the assassin, in which case they lose.

You mentioned an hourglass?

You don’t miss anything, do you?

Explain!

The 1-minute hourglass is turned over whenever a player feels that a decision is taking too long to be made. The team/player targeted by the hourglass must make his decision before the sand runs out.

Happy?

Grand.

Codenames is one of my favourite, easy-going—yet challenging—social games, and I got to play 7 times last night during the weekly game night that I host at my house. We had a blast, laughed like crazy, and I got beat in almost every time—but it was still a highly enjoyable experience.

If you like games such as Scrabble, Bananagrams, or any other word game, I strongly suggest you get this game; it is loads of fun, for families or friends, of all ages.

Have you ever played Codenames? If so, what did you think of it? If not, what is your favourite word game?

Foot-side: Codename hint for you : SUBSCRIBE – 1.

Binge Watching: Marvel – The Defenders

**No spoilers**

So considerate of you.

Binge watching. Ahhh, such a fun thing to do.

Definitely better than binge reading some blog I know of.

Now now…

Sunday night I had a board game night with a few friends and my little brother. After the games were over—Tokaido and Betrayal at House on the Hill—, everyone left, minus my brother.

It was 10:00 PM, and he was staying over for the night. I was tired, yet he still had a good amount of gas in the tank. So we decided a good compromise would be to watch something on Netflix—me being too tired to game, and him being too energized to hit the sack.

We turned on the Xbox, opened the Netflix application, and started browsing the plethora of selections. We browsed for at least 10 minutes, and we realized we could get lost in browsing the countless shows and movies available.

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We decided to watch the first episode of Marvel – The Defenders. He is a fan of superhero shows and movies, and I enjoy most of them as well.

We found the first episode rather meek and slow, but we decided to watch the second episode nonetheless.

Ahh, we get it: stubborn. Sticking with the initial plan no matter what.

We enjoyed the second episode more than the first, but still, we found it was taking too much time to kick things off, especially seeing as there are only eight episodes in the series.

The next morning, we watched the third episode while having an omelette: that is when I got hooked. I am an easy crowd to please, and with four different superheroes clashing in one show, I was bound to become addicted sooner or later.

I drove Christian to work after the third episode, and told him: “I wouldn’t be surprised if I watch some more when I get home”.

Fast-forward 11 hours: I had done my laundry, recorded my podcast, gone to my swing class, and watched all five remaining episodes of The Defenders.

Overall, I enjoyed the show—obviously seeing how I acted—, except the slow beginning. I don’t want to get into the details of the story line as to not cause any spoilers.

Considerate, once again.

When was the last time you binge-watched a show? How do you feel when you binge-watch?

Binge-note: binge-ing is just so, utterly, binge.

Not Enough Time Or Not Taking The Time?

Once again, I’ve been through a busy period and I have not managed to sit down and write once a week like I used to. I miss writing on here, but at the same time I have other stuff taking my attention to a greater degree. Time to change that—or so I will try.

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Actually, that is somewhat of a lie.

What? You lied to us? How dare you.

It was only for about 5 seconds; I am sure you will forgive me.

To be honest, the fact that I hadn’t been able to find a short amount of time made me ponder, and I realized something: it is not that I didn’t have the time, but rather that I did not make the time. (As I write this, this TED talk comes to mind. Laura talks about how we create excuses making ourselves believe we don’t have the free time we desire, when really we simply don’t take and make the time.)

But we love hearing from you…

This thinking made me realize that I was prioritizing other stuff over writing—I have always had trouble sticking to 2-3 things, so I am not surprised. I am trying to have a perspective shift and make the time to be able to sit down at my computer, write to myself, to you, once a week—I have too often set a goal that is too high, and not achieved it. Hence, I prefer targeting a goal of once a week instead of multiple times a week. My goal is to write every Monday. If I write another day over and above Monday, so be it. It makes sense for me to target once a week, seeing as I already had trouble keeping up with writing once a week in the past few months.

If I think about my typical week, I see how much free time I truly have and how I can easily throw some of it away, whether it be through my cellphone or other mediums. It all comes down to organization and the realization that we have much more time than we think.

Since I got back from a camping trip last Monday, I have been using my cellphone significantly less, and that has already made a big difference. When I think about it, I was looking at my phone so many times a day when there was nothing to check on it; it was mostly by habit.

And so, above I mentioned some of the things that crossed my mind during the last few weeks, and they seem to have been slightly insightful.

How humble of you to insert the world slightly.

How about you? Do you feel similar sometimes? Do you feel like you lack free time?

Dark Souls 3: The Reason Of My Absence

Why hello there.

I haven’t posted in a while.

We know. We have just been so eager to hear from you.

That swells my heart!

Now now; onto the topic at hand, please.

The culprit behind my inactivity is a video game from one of my all time favorite video game franchises: the Dark Souls franchise. I have been playing Dark Souls since the release of the first one back in 2011.

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In 2016, Dark Souls 3—I just watched the video that I linked you to, and I have goosebumps all over; I adore this game, so much—was released. I bought it the moment it came out—well, I mean, not the moment it came out, but you get the idea—, and purchased the deluxe edition. The deluxe edition included all expansions that were to be released for the game in the future. The previous Dark Souls games had two to three expansions each, and for me this extra purchase was a must.

I played through about half of the game throughout the course of the first few weeks after having purchased it, but then school, work, and personal endeavors took over and Dark Souls 3 was put on the back burner.

However, after having completed my second cycle in osteopathy a few weeks ago and having received my diploma—yay!—, this game that had been calling my name for months and months finally had its prayers fulfilled: it got air time on my TV. And not just a little bit—hence my disappearance of late—but a good 20-30 hours in the past two weeks. I just finished the last boss of the game, and now all that is left are the two expansions—well, I’m almost done one of them already.

So. Much. Fun.

So. Much. Information. But would you mind telling us what Dark Souls is at least? All I can tell is that it does sound dark. And maybe fun?

Dark Souls is considered to be among the hardest and most frustrating video games ever made. It is a game where you can easily be killed by the weakest monsters in the game. It is a game in which you will die—without exaggerating—hundreds, if not thousands, of times before completing the game. Frustration is bound to ensue many times over.

Now that doesn’t sound very appealing. Frustration. More Frustration. And even some more. Where are the words “fun” and “enjoyment”?

You are right. This game is not made for everyone, although that can be said for any game. Dark Souls targets a particular audience. As a matter of fact, a few of my friends have tried it, and all but one quit out of frustration no more than 45 minutes after having started; however, the one who did enjoy it bought an Xbox 360 two days later simply to be able to play Dark Souls, because he enjoyed the experience so much. So to answer your question: the difficulty level of this game is what appeals to me, and to many others out there too. For me, too few games offer an extremely difficult and in-depth challenge to beat, something that I strive for in video games. Dark Souls offers just this.

When you beat a boss in this game—normally after many trials and having learnt through experience from the multiple deaths he has caused you—the satisfaction is immense. You managed to beat the horrible odds, and came out on top due to skill as well as trial and error tactics. And when you beat a boss, you receive his “soul essence”, and you can transfuse it into a special weapon, shield, or item, depending on the soul you acquired.

Two main causes of frustration in the game are the following:

  • All enemies always respawn once you die. All of them except bosses and mini-bosses. That means that if you just spent 42 minutes killing enemies and venturing towards the bosses’ area, and that you die, you must kill all those monsters anew to make it back to the bosses’ area. Also, if you run out of estus flasks—basically potions—you must rest at a bonfire to replenish your health and your estus flask count. However, once again, every time that you rest at a bonfire, all monsters respawn.
  • The experience points mechanism, called “souls”. Any monster you defeat yields souls. Any boss you defeat also yields souls, often many more than a typical foe. Souls are used as currency in the game, as well as for leveling up your character—the Ashen One. The catch is that if you die at any point during the game, all of your unused souls that you are carrying on you are dropped at the location of your death. If you manage to retrieve them, congratulations to you. But if you die again before picking them up, they are lost forever, and are replaced by a new soul drop where you just died. Also, you cannot simply level up at any time in the game, or else it would be too easy to always use up all your souls. You must go to see one specific character in the game to level up, and there is no other way than that. Therefore you must be extremely careful when carrying many souls on you, or else you will get very angry. Grrrr.

Now, imagine the following scenario—true story that occurred during my last two weeks of play—:

You have been killing monsters for about an hour. You stumble across a hoard of monsters—in this game a hoard is anything as little as two monsters, because they can brutally punish you by chipping away at your stamina—and you die. You drop all the souls that you have been collecting for the past hour, enough to level up about four times. You then set out to go retrieve them, but all the monsters have respawned. Easy as 3.14 pie; you decide to play more carefully and defend more frequently just to assure you make it back to your heaping souls crying out in despair on the ground, threatening to leave you if you die again on your journey back to them. And then as you are just nearby the area with your souls that were dropped, you get excited. And so you decide to run across that bridge a little less cautiously than normally. And you accidentally fall off.

Your previous soul drop is now gone.

Those souls are gone.

Forever.

Well, this long briefly summarizes Dark Souls. I am sad to hear that they will not be making a fourth game in this series because the director felt strangled by having to only create the world of Dark Souls. He wants to expand to new horizons and make new games. However, I am very happy that there are three games in this series, with around six to seven expansions throughout the series. I am already planning on playing the first one again sometime soon—probably once I finish doing everything there is to do in Dark Souls 3.

I will write some more posts with regards to Dark Souls in the future, such as explaining the lore, which I also love tremendously.

Dark-note: never leave your soul lying on the ground. You might lose it. Forever.

What Did You Think Of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2?

Two weeks ago I went to see Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 with my brother and our Nana.

Aww, how cute. Taking his grandmother to the movies.

We went to the last showing on the Tuesday night: 10:00PM.

Woah. What kind of grandmother is this?Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol-2-Empire-Photo-of-Yondu-and-Rocket-Cropped.jpg

My Nana is the only one in her several story high apartment building who still has all her lights on at 3:00AM. She’s up and about, her fingers pacing over the keyboard liking and commenting on Facebook, feeding and playing with her rabbits or her bird, sometimes just relaxing on the couch watching some Netflix, or even sitting there thinking about her awesome grandchildren—I wonder who they are?

It has become a new tradition of sorts to go to the cinema with her around 10:00PM or 11:00PM on a week night, about once every 3-4 weeks.

A tradition? That is a strong word.

Well, it was only the second time this “tradition” occurred, but the plan is that it keeps happening regularly—sheesh, get off my back, or else I might whistle and impale you with a crimson arrow.

I had enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy (Vol. 1) a lot. I saw it in the cinema when it came out in 2014. Like many people, the soundtrack brought back memories and chimed the chords of nostalgia. I simply loved it.

Here are my comments for Vol. 2:

Pros / Positive Points:

  • Once again, the soundtrack got me. The moment I dropped of my Nana at home—might I say it was about 1:00AM, and she was ready and willing to go out for a drink or do something of the sorts—I opened up Spotify and played the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack. I loved every moment of it.
  • The movie made me laugh juste about as much as the first. I love the genre of comedy used, and Chris Pratt does, in my opinion, an amazing job with his lines. Just the way he says his comments makes me laugh.
  • Yondu. Oh wow, Yondu. I love him. I literally think this would be my choice of a special power if I could choose one right now. It is unique, deadly, and too cool! I think I am a Yondu fanboy—ahh, who am I kidding; I am a Yondu fanboy.
  • And last but not least, Rocket Racoon being as sly and devilish as always; he makes ma laugh constantly!

Cons / Negative Points:

  • The introduction made me laugh quite a bit, but I felt it dragged on for too long. I would have enjoyed seeing more of the epic fight with the intergalactic monster instead of Baby Groot dancing. Although his dance moves were stellar—and extremely lucky at dodging literally everything—it was too long for my liking.
  • The story seemed a little dull and  underdeveloped. I found that they were too focused on building the movie around the soundtrack and not enough around a compelling storyline.

Amidst all of this, overall, I enjoyed the movie. I would gladly see it again in a year or two, for some laughs and smiles—and obviously, to see Yondu again.

What did you think of the movie? Did you prefer the first or the second?

Foot-note: Groot. Groot? I am Groot! (Ok now I’ll push the wrong button on the bomb). Grooooooot!

What Is Your Favorite Word?

Yes, yes, I’m one of those people who loves words!

Each day I take a few minutes to read the Word of the Day on the Dictionary website. It is my equivalent to a regular non-word-worm’s—I even allow myself to invent words now—morning coffee; my day seems incomplete without it.

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My caffeine is… words!

Not funny. Please, go on.

I started this daily reading about 2-3 years ago. I remember I was working as a cashier at the liquor store, and I would spend the downtime in between customers reading the previous—weeks and weeks worth—Words of the Day. A few months after having started doing this, the liquor store computer system got revamped and employees were now only allowed to browse the website that was used to search for the products of the store.

I feel like I may have been one of the causes of this provincial-wide software change—I guess I am proud of some sorts if I was, I mean, provoking a provincial-wide change: check off the bucket list!

Moving on to my words.

Here a few of my favorites—that I can recall, because honestly, remembering complex words that I have never heard of before isn’t too easy—from the past years of reading:

1. My favorite is without a doubt apotheosis. It sounds like a godlike term, hence my love for it. I love every thing about it. Every. Single. Thing. Apotheosis is a noun that depicts the “ideal example”. Used in a sentence it looks like this: Apotheosis is the apotheosis of a great word.

Well aren’t you a clever Bee.

2. Another word I love is draconian. Draconian is an adjective that refers to something “unusually severe or cruel”. Here is an example: Deirdre’s draconian methods of ruling leave the citizens in a constant state of panic. I love this word because I find it sounds just as cruel as it’s meaning. Say it a few times out loud with a deep voice and see—first take a quick look around to make sure no one is watching you, for your societal sanity’s sake: Draconian, Draconian, Draconian. Does it not sound mean and dark?

3. The last one I will share with you today is scythe, which I assume will be more known than the latter. I love the flow of letters in the word scythe because I find they flow seamlessly—alright, I will admit, even I find myself a little bit of a word-weirdo here. I also love the pronunciation. I always thought it was pronounced “sahy-the” but it is pronounced “sahyth”. To properly understand the pronunciation go to this link and click on the microphone icon. Scythe is a noun and is the tool that death wields. This tool is more commonly used by mere mortal farmers when cutting grass or grain. In a sentence, it looks like this: Death was confused when he arrived to claim the farmer’s daughter’s life, because she too was wielding a scythe.

Witty example #2. I’m on fire today—and I’m as ninja-esque as cats so I am not getting burned (refer to this post to understand the inside joke).

Congrats Jonathan. Congrats.

What are some words that you love? I’m sure there must be at least a few words that you love because of their meaning, pronunciation, sentimental value, or for some other awesome reason.

Foot-note: wielding a scythe in front of a child is the apotheosis of draconian parenting.