A Game I Love: Elder Sign

One of my favorite types of tabletop games to play are cooperative games. Co-op games are designed for players to play against the game itself and team up to beat the game. As Evil Husband and I focus on two player games, co-op games help break up the monotony of always playing against each other.  I had two choices from our collection for the “game I love,” Pandemic and Elder Sign.  Pandemic is a co-op game where you try to stop the spread of disease across a world map. It is a decent two player game, but I find it is more fun the more people you have and more roles to fill.  Elder Sign is a cooperative card and dice game that is good for 1-8 players. The theme of the game is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories and players take on the roles of investigators trying to prevent the return of an “Ancient One.” It may seem a bit complicated at first as there are a lot of components to the game, but it isn’t a difficult game to learn to play.

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All of the pieces and parts for the game.

The game begins by picking out your investigator roles and the Ancient One you will be trying to prevent from awakening & entering our world. Each investigator role has different abilities that will help you as you try to collect Elder Signs, investigate and battle monsters. In a two player game, each player takes on two investigator roles.

Each player takes a turn with one of their characters completing adventures by rolling several die and attempting to complete the tasks on each card. Each card has different rewards ranging from weapons cards to Elder Signs, and sometimes even bad things will happen, like a monster appearing. Failing to complete and adventure may result in loss of health & stamina, character death or a doom token added to the Ancient One’s card, resulting in the Ancient One being one step closer to awakening.

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Tonight we battled Glaaki.
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Close up of one of the Adventure cards with Elder Signs as a reward

If a player wins an Adventure, the role that completed the tasks gets the card as a reward that can be turned in for weapons or to heal. As each investigator completes a turn, the game clock moves 3 hours forward. Every time the clock strikes midnight, a card is drawn from the Mythos deck, which results in all sorts of fun (not really) things that happen.

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A midnight Mythos card. Basically we lost the ability to use any allies. Awesome.
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Midway through game play

The game ends when you collect all the required Elder Signs for the Ancient One or the doom tokens awaken the Ancient One and you have to beat it.  Each Ancient One takes a different number of Elder Signs to beat. In our case, it was 12.

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Game Over.

The game comes with 48 Adventure cards, so there is a very good replayability value as the “museum” will be different every time you play. We played with the first expansion, UnSeen Forces which adds more Adventure cards and Ancient Ones. Most games we play average about 90 minutes, sometimes longer if cocktails are involved.

One of the best sources we have used for our board gaming research is Wil Wheaton’s show, TableTop. If you’re interested in watching live game play of Elder Sign, check out the TableTop video.

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Not Your Average Board Game

I mentioned in my previous post that I was cheating a little with my hobby for this month, as board games is a hobby of both mine & Evil Husband. A few years ago, Evil Husband and I would retreat to our nightly gaming, T.V., or sleeping ritual, separately. The toll of working, parenting and generally being an adult had forced us into a routine of dinner, chores, an hour or so of quiet time after the kid went to bed, then sleep.  I remembered the days of when Evil Husband and I were dating and the nights spent playing random card games, or Euchre with friends and how much fun we had. I was looking for something we could enjoy together and stumbled across some postings about “modern” board games. I was honestly surprised at what board games are out there now.

For most people, the board games they think of are games like Monopoly, Risk, or Clue. But, there is such a vast world of board games out there nowadays, that there is literally a game out there for everyone. I will focus primarily on two player games, as that is what the majority of our collection consists of.

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Our Board Game Collection

We decided the games we pick to feature this month will be one of the following:

  • Quick & easy 2 player games
  • A game I love
  • A game I hate (But Evil Husband likes)
  • A game I haven’t played in a while

For the “quick & easy 2 player games,” I picked Jaipur. Jaipur is a card game where you are a trader and the goal is to become richer than your opponent each round.

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Each player is dealt seven cards & the goal is to sell 1 card for the lower colors: brown, green & purple. A minimum of 2 cards are required for silver, gold and ruby. For every card you sell, you get the same number of tokens. The colored tokens are highest to lowest. If you are the first player to sell your cards of any color, you get the highest valued tokens. However, the more you have of any one color, you receive a bonus token & the value is only revealed at the end.

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Midway through first round of game play

Camels are kind of the “free” cards of the game. You can take them and hoard them until the end for bonus points, or swap them during a round for better cards. There are several different strategies you can play out to earn points. But, it can really just come down to the bonus tokens at the end.

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This may not seem like a lot of points…
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Until sorted by 10s. Total of 69 points. And I got the winner’s token.

Jaipur is one of my favorite quick and easy games to play.  Each round ends fairly quickly depending on quickly tokens or draw pile is depleted. The game is over after 3 rounds, unless a player wins two rounds in a row. I didn’t take pictures of the second round we played because we were  in cut throat mode. But the final total went something like this:

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Recreational Hobbyist: 2  Evil Husband: 0

Here’s a great You Tube video  if you want to check out live game play of Jaipur. Also, this past week I have posted some really awesome lists of beginner board games to check out my Facebook & Twitter. A good majority of these games I own, have played or are on my list to buy. Next week, we will feature one of my favorite 2 player games and a party game I recommend.

The Last Stitch…?

My first cross stitching post, I told you all how badly I messed up. Last week, I didn’t have a real update post as I had been working on fixing all my mistakes. Basically, I had begun the frame of the owl and ended up with it being all funky looking. As I followed the pattern, I came to the very bottom to connect & I should have had five stitches across. But I only had room for two stitches.

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The right side bottom row was off by 3 stitches.

I began unstitching the entire right side of the owl up to the  eyes. I fixed where I thought I had messed up, then began working my way back down. And something was still off.  My error was actually at the very bottom where I first started. I ended up deconstructing the entire bottom part and re-stitching. And it still wasn’t right. At this point, I had made two errors I found & fixed, and I had to get a second set of eyes. Evil Husband pointed out that I had stitched in an extra row on the left side of the pattern. And so the third deconstruction began. To top it all off, in the process of fixing it all, the damn thread fell apart. The kit only has a limited supply of each color, so I had to take thread from the kit I bought for my daughter.

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Deconstructed 3 times now?
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Salvaged!

Once I was able to salvage everything and realized that this needs way more concentrating than I had given, I was moving along quite quickly. I even was able to manage different colors. I stitched in the other colors because I apparently have a problem counting empty spaces. This may not be the correct way, but it works for me. According to those I know personally that cross stitch, Evil Husband included, you’re supposed to stitch all of one color at a time. However, as I was clearly unable to figure out just the outside frame, and inside includes three different colors, I decided to do it my way.

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Multiple colors happening!

I had committed  to 4 weeks per hobby when starting this blog. I think I bit off a little more then I could chew with cross stitching. I really didn’t anticipate the mistakes that I had made would set me back this far.  By this time, I should have completed, at the minimum, the “practice kit” I bought. As of last night, I’ve made it this far…

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Almost done?

I am at a crossroads right now. I should begin my next hobby this week, but I haven’t finished cross stitching. I have decided I am going to continue on with my next scheduled hobby.  I will continue this project and update my progress until I have finished. As for the frog kit I picked up, I will work on it as time allows. As frustrated as I got, I really enjoyed cross stitching. I found it very relaxing, well, until I screwed up. It is a hobby I really recommend to someone who is looking for a crafty type hobby, but you should be decent at crafty kind of hobbies.  It isn’t hard, but requires time, patience & attentiveness.

So, what’s in store for the Recreational Hobbyist in March? Well, next month I’ll be covering a hobby that both Evil Husband and I discovered together and really enjoy. We’ve already established a pretty good library over the past few years, and we have a little bit of everything. Next month: Board Games.

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Cross-Stitching Tutorials & Free Patterns

I had a great update post planned for this week. While recovering from the seemingly endless “unstitching” that it will take to fix my epic failure, I decided I would spare you all from what would otherwise be a rant of frustration. (Also, I’d like to keep my posts safe for work and family friendly.) So for the time being, I’ve had to step away from the needle and thread. In the meantime, I thought I might post the best tutorial posts I’ve come across & some free patterns as well.

A few of these tutorials I mentioned in my post from last week, and are some the most helpful I found in beginning.

  • Storypiece is becoming one of my favorite cross stitch sites. The basic tutorial is incredibly helpful for beginners & she offers some very cute patterns for free.
  • The Crafty Mummy also offers an in depth post on how to stitch & some great tips for beginners that I never would have thought of. Like how to end a row that makes it easier to continue onto the next row.
  • I came across this beginner tutorial post on Hub Pages that details the different types of stitches you will need to know.
  •  DMC has a bunch of posts that are helpful for beginners and for more advanced stitching. They also have a very in depth post on reading patterns.
  • These embroidery posts & handstitching posts look like beyond simple cross-stitching patterns.  I can’t finish a My 1st Stitch Kit, so those patterns are beyond my level of expertise.

Now when I first entertained the idea of cross-stitching, I was on Etsy and looking for Stephen King stuff for my office. I had came across an IT pattern and decided I wanted to make this for our collection. I also found out how many cross-stitching patterns are available on Etsy and searched for free patterns that I may one day want to try out, should I continue along with this hobby.

  • I just so happened to find a cross-stitching blog by Tiny Modernist and she has some adorable patterns for free.
  • Country Living has several free patterns available. They aren’t all to my taste, but there are a few cute patterns I would stitch.
  • For Christmas time, I came across a pattern of The Grinch. And for Thanksgiving, you can Give Thanks.
  • Deviant Art is a very cool site and user Syra1974 has a Lisa Simpson pattern, and several other really awesome Disney patterns, like Bambi.
  • DMC offers a bunch of free patterns, as does Crossstitching.com. I also came across this site that has albums full of free patterns ranging from Aliens to Zodiac signs.

Of course, if you’re looking for popular culture patterns, you may have to pay for a pattern. If you don’t mind paying a few bucks:

  • Splendid Shambles complied really awesome lists of the Star Wars and Harry Potter patterns available on Etsy.
  • For those who like a little sass and risque patterns, stephXstitch has some very “cheeky” patterns available. Naughty word warning.
  • Cuddle Up Creations has some very intricate and beautiful patterns available. I had stumbled upon a dragon pattern that I would love to be able to do some day to represent my love for Skyrim.

I have been curating tutorials & patterns on Pinterest on my cross-stitching board. Feel free to check it out for even more! Next week, I will have an update on my own stitching progress and a sneak peek of my next hobby!!

The Struggle is Real: Cross Stitching 101

One day I delved into a rabbit hole on Etsy and came across a bunch of really cool shops that had cross stitching patterns for sale & I thought to myself, “I can totally cross stitch.” So I mentioned to Evil Husband (husband requested a moniker for my blog & was of his own volition,) my desire to learn to cross stitch & of course was met with side eye. However, once my blog idea came to  fruition and I decided my first monthly hobby would be the very catalyst for this blog. Evil Husband was even on board.

We made a trip to JoAnne Fabric,  and headed to the cross stitch aisle. I grabbed a Thomas Kinkade Disney’s Little Mermaid kit.  Evil Husband gives me a raised eyebrow. He suggests I may want to start small. (Surprisingly, he actually knows how to cross stitch, so I should probably listen to him.) He grabs a “My First Stitch” kit hanging separately from the “real” cross stitching patterns. I clearly notice the theme of theses kits, “Girls Rule” are amongst the patterns and I realize these are essentially for kids. Evil Husband might have a point, after all, it’s just a practice kit. I grabbed the most “adult” looking kit I could find.

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Left: What I thought I could do. Right: What I can do.

I began my kit about a week or so ago & have been pinning up a storm on my Pinterest in preparation, so I thought i had it all figured out already. When I opened up this kit, the directions weren’t super clear. I didn’t realize until I visited this post on Storypiece that each strand were 6 pieces in one,  and I’m only supposed to use only two strands. Even Evil Husband had forgotten that the floss needs to be pulled apart. I thought I just be able to easily pull it apart in sections. Nope, it likes to knot up about half away. All said,  it took me about 20 minutes to pull apart, unknown repeatedly to separate into 3 strands. 

Evil Husband helped out with the first few stitches because I had no freaking clue where to start the first stitch. The kit wasn’t super helpful aside from showing the stitching & pattern. I also found this post from Imagine Gnats quite helpful. After the first few stitches were started, I got into the groove.

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Made some progress after two nights

I spent some time about two evenings in a row and made the above progress. It probably totaled maybe 2-3 hours. The shape is starting to take form, and seems pretty easy. I started watching iZombie on Netflix while stitching, thinking I’ve got the hang of it.  Then I realized that I screwed up.

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I messed up bigly somewhere.

So, I took out all the stitches on the right side. Then, I noticed I also screwed up the bottom part. I un-stitched it all and fixed it. Only to realize that I had messed up entirely in the beginning on the left part. And so about two hours ago, I gave up on My 1st Stitch.

Cross stitching isn’t hard. You just have to pay attention. My advice…don’t cross stitch and watch Netflix. My next few posts will be my attempt to fix my screw ups and hopefully start the “real” cross stitch pattern I picked up.

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This is supposed to be my real attempt at cross stitching.

The bottom line is that I thought this would be easy to do.  It is, as long as you pay attention to what you are doing and don’t watch Netflix.

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