Nerds of a Certain Age – Welcome to My Thoughts

Let’s call it wisdomry! Instead of wizardry. As one ages geekily, wisdom may seem tasty. I’m seeking it.

It’s out there. So this will be writing about life with emphasis on RPGS, board games, running, fitness and whatever interests me. I give you the increasing perspective of age with a love of magic. And a crapton of nerdy, dorky, geeky thoughts.

Thanks to my friend of a decade Doug Nordwall (aka Raleel) and a journey of 1746 or more miles for the idea for this blog. For the rest of the world reading – all seven of you someday? – this distance is about 2810 kilometers. I’ll tell you more next entry. (It has to do with Gen Con.) The idea – “Nerds of a Certain Age” – just flowed right out of the conversation. So I’m running with it.

Sometimes I have to go outside my usual zone to rebuild and to find new ideas. Here’s one new idea for me that I shall try to sustain. Hopefully as a weekly thing. I’m already stockpiling columns. I will post a second one today, however here’s the official “get it started” obligatory rigamarole word vomit. Thanks for dropping by!



Run An Empire Take Two

TL; DR: I like my new running app! It’s gotten my now-less-toned ass out of bed to run twice this week, which is good! Here’s some stuff that ran through my brain about it below if you want to read more…


Questions Questions Questions

Using it the second time I had more questions than answers. Some things did answer themselves like “How do I pick up a gem?” Answer: enter the hex.

Can I run one day then switch to walk mode? Is that a permanent choice? I need to fiddle with the controls.

What happens if someone comes into my territory?? This is a big one. Nobody is playing yet. I can’t see any other empires out there.

Can I play elsewhere? What happens then? Can I switch from run mode to walk mode?

Playing The Game

I set out yesterday morning to do a second run with the app. I turned it on and noticed that you get bonus coins for running in a loop. Why is that? I don’t know. Runners typically run loops because they’re more interesting and you can follow familiar streets. However, in New England, we have a lot of rail trails too. If you run down one side of the trail and back up the other, technically that’s a loop!

Anyway I modified my run into a loop. No problem. Saw some neighborhoods that I had never seen. Cool. A deer stood right in the middle of the road at one point before I got too close. Love early morning runs.

I think the issue here is that the app maps my new budding Imperial lands onto hexes. When you run through a hex, you find things. And you get the fun playback at the end of the run where the hexes all jump up and down. Oddly, you only have to go through the smallest portion of the hex to get a treasure in it.

See the landscape is just littered with gems. Okay not littered but it had several that morning. I’ll report back on this later. You can get things with them. Maybe.

After my run I earned coins and spent them. I got to improve my empire! It’s kinda neat to be able to add new buildings. There were things I couldn’t buy yet. Have to enter the next age. Technically I’m in the Stone Age! 

This left me with all sorts of questions about the controls and what I have to do to advance. My best guess on that is “keep running”. Heh. Seems obvious?

More Questions

At the end of the run I got a little notification about hearts. You have 3 it seems. You use one up when you walk or run. However it regenerates within 4 hours. Okay. Does this mean that there’s combat coming?? It also said you can buy them, but I didn’t see them in the store. Do I have to unlock the ability to buy them? Build a building to let me grow them? Kill other runners and take their heart? Well maybe just take their phone. Oh wait no! That’s theft. Don’t want murder or theft with assault and battery – since I’m guessing to get someone’s phone that violence would be involved. The last act of violence – killing spiders aside – that I committed was a punch I threw when I was ten. I far prefer the peace and joy of running with no such things happening. So I’ll shelve this question for a bit.

I also want to know things about my territory. I think the darker greens areas are now “mine”. I’ve added stuff to them. But are they really? Can others invade and take them away?? I see a fort on the map. I’m definitely going to run there next time to see if I can conquer it. Who owns it? I’m looking forward to finding out more.

Physical Results

The app tracked my splits. This is neat. I was really happy to see my times improving at the end of my run. Part of this was going down a hill – let’s be real here – but part of it is that my muscles warmed up and I got into it.

I also ran longer than I intended! That was good. Very good. I enjoy long runs where my brain works. I compose poems, imagine D&D games, and let the workings go to all sorts of interesting places. Getting out and moving and running longer is great.

Okay Where’s The Strategy Part?

This is a great question. I’d love to be able to discuss it with others. Has anyone seen forums yet? I sent feedback to the company suggesting that they need a place to discuss. It’s just come out in America. Lots of us will try it and master it. Sharing information improves that. It seems odd that a gaming company didn’t get a free or mostly free forum site yet.

Back to strategy: Yeah I’m thinking it’s in how you explore, conquer and manage your empire, but I haven’t figured that out yet. I’ll noodle on that. Maybe it’s part of holding your territory. The blog on the app’s site mentioned that you have to keep running through your territory to hold your hexes. Otherwise they slowly degrade away from your influence. Hm.

I also earned coins while I was away! Lots by my (new) standards. See the screen shot. But note that I’m still in the Stone Age! I can’t wait to spend my wealth. If I can figure out how to switch modes. Otherwise my next run is Monday.

Hm. This could get me running every day again.


I’m sticking with the app. I need to learn more. Since I’m stuck in the Stone Age maybe my caveman brain must evolve before I get this sorted. 😉



Run An Empire App – 1st Impressions

It’s a floor wax and a desert topping! “Try new Shimmer.” Oh wait. Old Saturday Night references are good but not quite on point. Let me try again:

TL; DR: Run An Empire– It’s a good running (or walking) phone app and a strategy game in one! Get healthy with strategy. Or so I hope.

Cool right? For those of you with extensive time on your hands, please read on!


The Getting It & Getting It Started Details

You can download this from the Apple Store if you’re an iPhone user. (For all of the nice rest of you, wherever the droid/rogue people get their apps from just plug the name in.)

I first heard about this app two years ago. It was available in Australia. I asked friends there how it goes. They said, pretty good! Then I got my sad face. It wasn’t available in America.

This year the beta test for America came along! Yay!

I didn’t sign up right away.


Too much Real Life going on.


But I did finally and got an invite. And that sat for a bit. Then I got the news it’s coming out of beta. Today! [Editor: yesterday technically.]

So I could keep beta tester status for new features by downloading yesterday. [Which was Monday. Your now more irritated editor.]

One much needed -kick in the pants- call to action later, I had the app on my phone last night. I determined to run right away.

So I did.

The Run?

I’ll keep this brief. You’re maybe not a runner if you’re a gamer and reading this? Maybe you are! That said, if you ever wanted to do get in better shape while playing a game, this is a good way to go! There are also other apps that serve the same purpose yet do it differently (like Zombies, Run!). To my knowledge this is the only one that has a strategy element.

No Really, the Run

Oh gawd the damn alarm went off. I have to get up. Have to. New shiny app calling!



Okay okay I’m up!



So I set out this morning at the ridiculous hour of 7:15 AM, into a light mist.


Sneakers on, running clothes on, iPhone in a plastic sandwich bag.




My 6S is too large for my old shoulder hoster. Funny. I’m too cheap to buy a new one. You gotta protect your phone. Especially one running a game app…

My feet hit the pavement, the breath whooshes out of my lungs – rhythmically okay? – and the dumb parts of life fade away.

Done Run

Approximately 30 minutes later, breathing a little harder than I would have liked, I had 5K under my belt, 7700 coins earned in the app, and I had explored 8 hexes around my apartment.

A good run.

Editor: he’s an old Schlub folks. Ten minutes a mile.

Neat Features

Let me be honest. I have no idea what this will be like in the coming weeks. But as a guy who’s played a few phone games, this one has something. There are several features that I liked at first blush:

  • The tutorial guy is funny. And is kinda helpful. Will the “your greatness” thing get old?
  • Graphics are cute in an updated 60s way. It’s a welcome change from the harshly scintillating SF world of Ingress.
  • The post-movement summary is fun! It shows that you did something. [Editor. He ran a ducking 5K. That’s not nothing. Sigh.]
  • Talk about maps that get it right – this app showed me a whole new back way out of my apartment complex! And I’ve been here for five months.
  • The reminders aren’t naggy. They encourage.
  • Rewards were showered upon me for my efforts. And yeah, the big arrows pointing to things I should do were like “D’oh!” Er. “Cool!”


There’s a new running gaming phone app that I tried once. I like it. I’ll try it more.

Are you going to try it? Will you let me know how it goes for you please? They say they’re adding a buddy feature someday.



SeaFall: The Experience

Warning: Contains mild spoilers for a specific boardgame.

TL; DR: An enjoyable Age of Sail-style adventure campaign turned into a board game. There were many twists and turns right up to the final reveal. Play it when you have a group of friends and you make the time.

In Depth Review:

Playing the first “built from the ground up” legacy game was a great experience. So much so that my friends and I are playing a second campaign!


Read on please…

Continue reading


Bon Voyage Mr. Hawking

Stephen Hawking left the globe today, gifting us with a legacy of thought and mathematics and physics. I first heard the news this morning and closed my eyes for a moment to thank him for all his work and to (again) ponder the afterlife. After work I made my way home and pulled out Terraforming Mars to play a solo game. I won! I hereby dedicate my win to Professor Hawking. It would also be seemly to draw attention to a few stories about Mars and space featuring Stephen Hawking.

I think anyone who learns about the universe and dreams wants to visit our nearest planetary neighbor, Mars. And be able to return to Earth, if possible, although colonists will likely understand that the first few generations may be a one way trip. The work of astronomers, physicists (like Hawking), engineers, scientists and so many other professions will someday make this possible.

And on that day, I hope that the new Martians raise a toast to Hawking, Heinlein, H.G. Wells and all the other thinkers, dreamers, visionaries and storytellers who have dared to dream about life outside Earth’s warm embrace.




A New Board Game You Say?


The Quest for El Dorado, by Reiner Knizia

Thanks to my oldest whose Christmas gift sent me to Barnes & Noble, I acquired this Hack ‘n Splash board game.* Okay I nicknamed it “hack ‘n splash” based on the combination of common actions in the game – using a machete followed by paddle – but it’s not quite right for a monicker. This can be better termed a deck building game with an interesting blocking element – the meeple movements on the board. All this takes place while you race to find El Dorado, the fabled City of Gold.

Do I like it? Yes. I’ll get into that.
Would I play it again? Definitely.
Who would I recommend it for? Families, those who want to introduce friends to games, and hard-boiled board gamers like myself who enjoy a fast, easy game with a little strategy to play in between the big complex games.

So what is it? It’s a game played across hexagonal boards where you – in the personae of an Indiana Jones-like explorer – build an expedition and hack, paddle, wheedle or otherwise travel through a jungle. Your goal? Find the fabled city El Dorado. (The name in Spanish by the way means “The Golden”. So you’re trying to find the City of The Golden. Can you imagine finding it but it’s actually the City of the Golden Girls? That would be weird.)

The game has you construct the jungle on tiles. You can race through multiple different jungles ranging from easy to complicated. You buy tools and expedition members to help you move. This forms your deck. In that sense it’s a little like – and a lot easier to learn – than Dominion. The resemblance ends there. Dominion doesn’t have a board. This game does. The “tie” mechanic is one of the most unique I’ve seen in a while – little tile divider strips go to the first explorer to reach them.

Now what about movement? Ah here’s where it is also fun. Generally you want to keep moving forward. However, you won’t be able to cross certain spaces without having more powerful cards. You get those by building your deck up. The Captain, for example, let’s you paddle for three instead of one. That might be crucial. There are some long lakes. So if you don’t have the moves, you stall. Or buy a better card. However, where you stop can also determine whether someone else can move past you based on geography. (Mountains for example are impassible.)  This can be quite funny or frustrating. Blocking your rival expeditions is useful. I still think trying to get ahead of everyone with a lean deck is the most effective.

The experience is a little like constructing your own movie set a century or more ago before the world got explored.

It plays fast. Everyone enjoyed it. We’ll play it again.

*Yes I play other games besides Ingress. Why do you ask?


Ice Damnit; No Ice Dams

We interrupt the usual – er okay unusual, and very infrequently updated – bloggery to bring you this photo. Of ice in the river in town yesterday. There was a substantial melt over the weekend. The river ice shattered and flowed and dashed up onto the banks, piling over each other in some sort of frozen pig pile competition. Here you see some of the results. The winner? The color blue. Despite the sky being leaden and the water dark, the ice has a blue tint.