The Day in Gaming, September 24, 2019: Brass: Birmingham

I’m posting about a game every day in September! Here’s a link to yesterday’s post.

Tonight I got to play one of my favorite games, Brass: Birmingham. I’ve previously reviewed it on The Five By, so please click here to hear my thoughts on this heavy Eurogame.

I met my buddy Jake at Congregation Ale House in Pasadena for board games and beers. It was my first time at a Congregation (there are a few locations in different parts of L.A.) and I instantly fell in love with the place. Big game-friendly tables, good beer, and tasty pub food are a combination that I cannot resist.

The church-inspired decor is really cool, giving Congregation a sort of goth feel. The music was generally a mix of old and new rock, and the volume wasn’t obnoxiously loud, which is something I appreciate more with each passing year. It was the perfect setting for board games and beers.

It’d been a while since I played Brass: Birmingham and I forgot how much there is to the game. The basics are easy (take an action, discard a card), but the rules of consuming beer/iron/coal always trip up new and experienced players. Thankfully, Jake knows board games and was able to make sense of what I was trying to explain.

After our game I wanted to play Brass: Lancashire, which is closer to the original Brass game rules (Birmingham being its standalone sequel). Lancashire doesn’t have Birmingham’s funky beer rule, where you’re required to consume beer when selling certain items.

Speaking of consuming beers, Congregation Ale House is an outstanding choice for your next beer-centric outing. I had an excellent Russian River Blind Pig; it was a refreshing, citrusy IPA that reminded me why I still enjoy the occasional beer. It also reminded me that I need to visit Congregation Ale again real soon.

Day 205: Tops Burgers

Tops' Chili Cheese Fries

Tops’ Chili Cheese Fries

Besides doughnuts, my one edible guilty pleasure is a big ol’ order of chili cheese fries. The best are always served at greasy spoons or old fast-food joints.

Tops Burger in Pasadena has been around for over 50 years. The restaurant is showing its age, but that’s part of its charm. I occasionally ate here in my youth when my waistline could afford the occasional indulgence.

Nowadays, it’s rare that I’ll grab an order, especially at Tops. The small is more than enough for two people and the large can probably feed an entire family. The other day I went with the junior (child) size and it was more than enough food for me.

I felt pretty good for restraining myself from ordering a larger size. That hasn’t always been the case at Tops.


Day 204: CONCACAF Gold Cup

Team USA's Gyasi Zardes

LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes representing the U.S.

Well, that was interesting. Not only did Jamaica upset the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals, but the Panama-Mexico match nearly ended in a riot. As much as I love The Beautiful Game, the ugliness of any sporting event marred by questionable refereeing and unruly fan behavior is something I’ll never appreciate.

Some of that ugliness was on display at the Galaxy-Barcelona game I attended two nights ago. On a beautiful Tuesday night in Pasadena, a sold-out crowd of over 93,000 filled the Rose Bowl to cheer for their teams. It was a remarkably pro-Barcelona audience, since Barca has the longer and more illustrious history.

Now, I’m all about supporting your club and being passionate and vocal. Unfortunately, some “fans” think of the games as an excuse to over-imbibe and act like an idiot. F-bombs filled the air, as did slurred speech and the occasional near-fight. I was embarrassed for them and felt bad for all of the parents who had to explain to their children why it’s not acceptable to act like a drunken buffoon in public.

As I commented to my stepdaughter, it was like being at a Raiders game.

(For the record, I’m a card-carrying member of the Raider Nation. Most of us diehard fans act responsibly, but it’s the unruly types who make the news. And truth be told, I’ve seen some bad behavior at the Raider games, especially when they were in Los Angeles.)