My Rambling Thoughts

Catching up on board games, part 2

I bought the first game in Sep 2018 and the next two in Nov. (This entry was last drafted in Dec.)

The Resistance (2009) [US$15.07]

This is the third edition (2017). I like the second edition cover better. I had skipped this game in favour of its re-themed follow-on Avalon which has additional roles. Secretly, I always like the sci-fi theme better. :lol:

There are expansions to add the roles from Avalon, but my modus operandi now is return-to-the-basics and keep-it-simple.

IMO, the theme is backward. The Resistance is carrying out missions and Government spies are trying to sabotage them. It should be the other way round: resistance spies trying to foil normal Government operations.

(It is a matter of viewpoint. One man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist. Star Wars is also told from the Rebel's POV.)

SHCD: The Thames Murders & Other Cases (1981) [US$32.95]

Full title: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases. Phew!

This is the 2017 reprint, of course. It was reprinted once before in 2014.

Intended for solo play. There are only ten mystery cases. There is no replay value once they are solved. Still, I think the deduction aspect is worth it. It works out to be US$3.30 per case. Elementary, my dear Watson! :lol:

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger (2018) [US$17.49]

I had some doubts about getting this, because I was not sure how it would translate to a "board game". Actually, it does not. For the most part, I just bought a very expensive CYOA book. (Price of a CYOA book is ~US$5.)

I prefer to play the meta-game instead: I re-construct the entire decision tree to see if the choices make sense and/or are balanced.

The problem with CYOA-style game is that branching is "expensive" — untaken paths are wasted — so they are usually shallow or merge back fairly quickly. I'll say you end up visitng 25% – 40% of the total pages per play. It is ironic that fast or optimal play means skipping much of the book.

This game is adapted from the book of the same name. How closely, I have no idea, I have not read the book, although I have read a few others in the series. (More about this in a future entry. ;-))

The game tries to limit randomness by having four "sequence points" in the form of five chapters. The choices are all within a chapter. Each chapter has one entry and one (winning) exit point.

To sum up

The bar to buy board games is now absolutely very high!

I'm thinking of pruning my (quite small) collection due to space constraints.

Catching up on board games

This entry was first drafted in Sep 2018, but I kept putting it off. I bought these games in Aug 2018.

I did not think I would buy any board games in 2018, but some still managed to catch my attention. The bar is now raised even higher. They have to be really outstanding for me to buy them in 2019 — I'm out of space. :lol:

Kingdomino (2016) [US$17.95]

I was introduced this in a Top 10 list when Zee Garcia (of Dice Tower) said Queendomino replaced this for him because it kept the same game play and then added some more.

I checked out both games and I like the simplicity of Kingdomino more. It's like Ticket to Ride. I like TtR: USA over others in the series because of its simplicity. There is elegance in simplicity.

Vast: The Crystal Caverns (2016) [US$45.34]

I was attracted by this game due to its asymmetrical powers. I'm a sucker for it. At its core, this is really scissors-paper-stone. Knight defeats Dragon defeats Goblins defeat Knight. The Cave is also playable. It tries to collapse and kill everyone. :lol:

In hindsight, US$45 is really expensive.

Vast: Crystal Caverns Miniatures Expansion (2017) [US$26.44]

Third-party seller, fulfilled by Amazon. Sometimes available for US$21.09.

I bought the miniatures as well... they are pretty well made. I do not intend to get any (actual) expansions. My motto now is, just the base game if it works well enough. K-I-S-S.

Budget Harry Potter films

A no-frills 8-film collection for casual Harry Potter fans. (I'm not even one of them.) No extras are included.

I only watched the first three films. I don't think the first film is particularly good (it is too long and slow), but I like it over others for its "old-school" charm. It also brings the world of HP to life for the first time.

Blu-ray MSRP US$99.98, Black Friday deal US$27.49. Usual price is all over the place. Was US$39.96, now US$54.96.

I should have skipped it in hindsight. The films are not 4K-mastered. I got suckered in by the price. :blush:

For big-budget films, when they release properly remastered 4K UHD blu-ray, they usually scale it down to blu-ray as well. The only loss is the extra resolution, which may not be there in the first place.

In the past, I was skeptical of blu-ray mastered DVDs (i.e. blu-ray scaled down to DVD) because of DVD's limitations (MPEG-2 at 8 Mbps), but blu-ray has ample bandwidth (40 Mbps) and more efficient encoding (AVC).

Harry Potter's remastered 4K blu-rays come with normal blu-ray discs, but they still use the original encoding.

Thomas & Friends, gained completion trophy

In mid-2018, I discovered that Thomas & Friends cartoons were available on DVD by seasons/series. Before that, I had only seen "random" collection per DVD. So I set out on a quest to borrow the entire series from NLB and rip them.

Libraries:

  • Bedok
  • Bukit Panjang
  • Choa Chu Kang
  • Queestown
  • Seng Kang
  • Woodlands

BP, CCK and SK libraries had very messy DVD collections. The T&F DVDs were scattered all over. I had to comb the entire children DVD section to find them.

Bedok and Seng Kang are especially far for me. :lol: I went down to SK library only once. Another time, I paid $1.50 to transfer a disc from there instead.

1 & 2 Only two copies (BP, SK). Both have errors. Fortunately, able to get a complete copy by mix-n-match
3Many copies, borrowed two, error
4Many copies, borrowed two, error
3 & 4Ok
5Ok
6Ok
7Used two copies, mix-n-match
8Only one copy, missing
9Borrowed two copies, one ok
10Only one copy (CCK), ok
11Two copies (BP), borrowed one, ok
12Two copies (BP, SK), mistakenly thought both had error
18Two copies (Bedok), borrowed one, ok

(All are DVD region 4.)

Series 1 to 11 from NLB are Classic Collection, meaning un-remastered video. I prefer it, actually. I borrowed and ripped the US remastered version of Series 1, The Early Years, too.

I completed my quest on 27 Dec 2018 when I went Bedok library to borrow Series 18. I was meeting friends there, so I checked online if the DVD was there. It was! (Both copies are often lent out.)

For some reason, NLB does not have Series 13–17.

I bought Series 8, 12–17 and 19 from Amazon UK (DVD region 2). They are the "remastered" Complete Series. I decided to stop at Series 19 for now — that's enough T&F for me already! :lol: I'll probably buy Series 20 and 21 in the future and call it a day. (Series 22 is a reboot.)

I found that I could not rip my copy of Series 12 — I got an error in the same place! It was then I realized it was due to anti-ripping technique. In the end, I used another DVD ripper. I could have saved £4.99. :-P

I could not rip Series 17 as well. At first, I thought it was some fancy anti-ripping feature, but then I found that it skipped in my DVD player, so it was a genuine disc error. I asked Amazon UK for a replacement. They wanted the disc back, but I told them it was not cost-effective to do so, and they accepted it. (I think it costs maybe $2 to send the disc back to UK.)

Move with the times, wireless charging

I did not consider wireless chargers because they are slow and expensive. What if they are not that expensive?

The latest Samsung wireless charger model is EP-N5100. Output 1A @ 5V, 1A @ 9V (fast).

To search on TaoBao: 三星 五代 无线 充电器 or 三星 原装 五代 无线 立式快速 充电器 to be more specific.

As cheap as 109 yuan (US$15.81) with bundled cable and fast charger, but does not ship to Singapore. Cheapest that can ship to Singapore is 158 yuan (US$22.92).

I still think wireless charging is slow, but it sure is convenient to place the phone on the table and have it charge automatically. No need to plug and unplug. I like the slanted design as the charger can act as the stand.

The best standard USB chargers

Even today, I prefer to use "standard" USB chargers. Standard as in, 2A @ 5V. No fast charging. Call me old-fashioned. :-D

However, going forward, I will be buying QC3.0 / USB-C chargers. I'm looking for one that has 2 QC and 1–2 USB-C ports. Most have only one QC port. USB-C must have PD (Power Delivery).

Momax 1-World Type-C + 4 USB

Each USB 2.0 port up to 2.4A. USB-C 3A @ 5V (non-PD). Total 5.6A (28W).

Even though there are four ports, you can only charge two at full speed (2.4A + 2.4A + 0.8A).

This travel adapter has the highest rated integrated USB chargers. Other integrated chargers are rated at 4.5A or even 3.4A (2.4A + 1A).

I prefer standalone USB chargers, but I must admit integrated USB chargers are very convenient — especially after my recent Oz trip fiasco. :blush: Also, many have very low total charging power (e.g. 2A across all ports), but some are quite decent.

(If you accidentally buy a 4-port USB charger rated at 1A total, throw it away. :-P)

The US and China/Australia pins are shared. For the latter, just twist the pins. I like that.

147 grams. 8A fuse.

105 yuan (US$15.30) on TaoBao. The same charger is priced at S$30 locally under other brands.

Syncwire 48W/9.6A 4-port USB charger

Each port up to 2.4A, total 9.6A (2.4A x4). Charge four devices at full standard speed. Other chargers are either 8A or 6.8A total, they can only charge 2 – 3 devices at full speed (e.g. 2.4A x2, 1A x2).

159 grams.

Default US plug, comes with detachable UK and EU plugs. No China/Australia plugs.

US$19.54 on Amazon (sold by Syncwire Products).

Ghost blog

Number of entries per year:

2009*235
2010205
2011131
2012165
2013103
201486
2015103
201669
201755
201850

* 2009 is only half-year.

I expect it to drop further this year. Last year, I used my mobile phone to surf net >80% of the time compared to using a PC/notebook. Using a notebook feels like work. And with that, it is harder for me to write my blog.

I need to find a way to write entries on my mobile phone. In theory, this is even more convenient, because I can connect to my home server from my phone anywhere any time.