Day 260: I Tried, But …

X-Wing Miniatures Game Core Set

X-Wing Miniatures Game Core Set

Confession: as a self-proclaimed Star Wars geek, I don’t have much of a collection. I have a Yoda figurine, an Admiral Ackbar action figure, a few books, some old trading cards, and a few knickknacks. Nothing too exciting. I LOVE the original trilogy, but I didn’t save any of my childhood toys, then later in life I didn’t feel the need to collect Star Wars stuff. The memories of the films were sufficient.

And even though Force Friday offered a lot of cool things to buy, I still had no urge to buy Star Wars toys, clothing, food, or what not. I’ve resisted the urge, even though I was getting more excited about the movie every day.

My excitement finally got the better of me.

I took the plunge and bought the X-Wing Miniatures Game Core Set. I can’t remember the last time I bought a miniatures game (if ever) and a Star Wars-themed game would be the one, of course. I told myself that it serves the dual purpose of owning a few cool Star Wars miniatures and satisfying my urge to game.

The core set comes with the X-Wing and two Tie Fighters shown above, which are beautiful. But they’re not just aesthetically pleasing, they’re functional as well: using the game’s cards, dice, and range-finding system, you and a friend can create dogfights on your tabletop.

The spaceships only take up a small portion of the living room table and I’m trying not to remind myself that there’s plenty of room for the Millennium Falcon, Slave I, and all of the other iconic ships. I do remind myself, however, that each addition isn’t cheap.

So, I tried to resist the Star Wars merchandising empire, but like Yoda said … well, at least I know this game will be more fun than Episode I.

Day 213: Love Letter


We’re in the midst of game night and Love Letter was a success. For a game with only handful of cards, there’s a surprising amount of strategy involved.

It’s a fun game of deduction that moves quickly. My favorite part? Anytime someone played the Prince card, aka Brad Pitt. We joked that the player obviously had the Angelina Jolie card in hand.

Ah, game night. I love it.

Day 210: Twice the Fun

Tusken Raiders

Tusken Raiders

My fantasy sports geekdom was born in the early ’90s when I started a rotisserie fantasy basketball league. Each week I bought the Wednesday edition of USA Today for its comprehensive NBA statistics. I calculated stats and typed up reports on my PC clone, then printed the results out on my dot-matrix printer. The amount of work was staggering.

Not surprisingly, that league lasted exactly one season (won by my youngest brother who made the no-brainer decision to draft Michael Jordan).

Even though I could’ve been permanently scarred by the fantasy-stats-by-hand experience, I wasn’t. If anything, it fueled my passion for the game during a time when information and advice was hard to come by.

I started small fantasy football leagues before joining a friend’s more established league. That led to my other brother starting our current fantasy football league in 1999. It amazes me that the same core group of friends and family will be starting our 16th season together.

Throughout the years, I’ve managed to play almost every fantasy sport out there: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, NASCAR, soccer … and, for one hilarious season, the XFL.

I joined multiple leagues in multiple sports for years before the inevitable burnout. About five years ago I began scaling back my fantasy sports play: one league per sport only. This year I didn’t get around to playing fantasy baseball and surprisingly I didn’t miss it at all.

But when a buddy of mine had an open spot in his auction draft keeper league, I didn’t hesitate. I’m looking forward to being in two leagues again, especially since I got to try out my new Star Wars themed team name, as shown above.

Day 192: Scrabble Flash

Scrabble Flash

Scrabble Flash

I have a lot of fun with this little version of the classic board game Scrabble. It’s perfect for solo play and offers a quick fix for Scrabble junkies.

The rules are simple: try to form as many 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words as possible in the allotted time using the electronic tiles. The tiles randomly choose five letters to work with during a game. They sense when a word is formed and give little beep to know you’ve scored. There’s also another version of the game where you try to form as many 5-letter words as possible.

Since there’s no board or opponent, this is a really stripped down version of the game. Scrabble purists may object, but it’s a handy game to have on the road or when you want a quick session of word play.

Best of all, no opponent will ever challenge your word choice. To paraphrase the poker saying, the tiles speak.

Pictured above: the end of a game when Scrabble Flash reveals the maximum number of words that were playable.

Day 180: No Offseason

Fantasy Football Is Almost Here

Fantasy Football Is Almost Here

Even with futbol slowly overtaking my love of football, there is still no sport better suited for the fantasy game than the good ol’ NFL (sorry, old-time baseball rotisserie geeks; weekly matchups are 100 times better than accumulating stats over a season). Just as the sports media like to say that there is no offseason in the NFL anymore, the same applies to fantasy football. Player news, injury updates, team breakdowns, and every bit of football minutia is now available via the Internet 24/7/365.

Matthew Berry is a legend in the fantasy football community. He’s known for his ESPN column and he appears on various fantasy football shows and podcasts. He’s also the author of my favorite book on the game, Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It (my review here).

So, here we are, still in June, and Berry published his first fantasy football column of the year (the first NFL game is September 10th). He’s done this every year for the past decade and it’s a great way for us fantasy geeks to officially begin our offseason planning. It’s a compilation of stats from the previous season, done in a way that will have any fantasy football owner second-guessing themselves on any player or team. Once the NFL news cycle heats up with the first preseason games, we’ll be able to throw away all of the previews, stats, and Berry’s column, in favor of updated previews, stats, and columns.

Once the season is over, though, we’ll all go through the old news and reports we’ve read, trying to find that one tidbit that, depending on our success or failure, confirms that “I knew I should’ve listened to Berry!” or “I can’t believe I listened to Berry!” And before you know it, it’ll be next June and we’ll realize there’s no fantasy football offseason anymore.

Day 165: Scrabble


It’s been awhile since we’ve had a game night at the house, but thanks to a visit from the kids, we had a three-hour session of Ticket to Ride and Scrabble. Even though a deluxe edition of Scrabble (with its fancy rotating board and lockable letters) has been on my wish list for years, my old board is still going strong after over a decade of use.

Another thing that’s still going strong is my love of the game; it remains fun and challenging, even if I can never remember all of the legal two-letter words. Why do I always forget “za” (slang for pizza)? It’s one of my favorite foods. It should be one of my favorite Scrabble words, too.

Day 153: Backgammon


Backgammon is a game I fell in love with over the last few years. I tried to play it as a teenager, but it just didn’t click with me. It was around my 40th birthday where I taught myself how to play, thanks to the excellent GNU backgammon online game and a few books by backgammon legend Bill Robertie.

I skimmed through Robertie’s  books at the library, then bought his 501 Backgammon Problems. I studied it while playing opponents via Yahoo’s free online games. However, it wasn’t until I started using GNU that my game started to improve quickly. GNU’s tutor mode is essential to learning basic moves and strategy, and I was able to hold my own against more experienced players.

My Toys R Us set pictured above is still in great shape and even though I don’t play as seriously or as often as I’d like these days, when I do, it’s a reminder of how much I love this game.