Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014 Board Game Buying Guide



I've been playing games with people at the office, and it has shown me that you can get a game in with even a short lunch and new players.  I decided to put together a quick list of game recommendations based on venue and number of players.  Links to Amazon are provided, but most of these titles can be purchased from your Friendly Local Game Store.

Lunch

Bring co-workers together, let off some steam, and renew rivalries between departments with this selection of quick and easy games selected to allow you to teach and play in under 30 minutes.
  • Love Letter is a card game of bluffing and card counting with just 16 cards.  It handles 2-4 players, but it is best with 4.  Also, it comes in a number of different re-themes, so you can get a non-threatening version to appeal more to co-workers.
  • Tsuro of the Seas handles 2-8 players.  This "last man standing" tile game has compelling artwork, fast rounds, and dead simple rules.  A whole game seldom lasts more than 15 minutes so people can jump in with little fear of going over their lunch time.  There are simpler versions and expansions, so you can get as much depth as you want in the time allotted.
  • Hey That's My Fish plays well for between 2 and 4 players.  You should be able to explain rules while setting it up.  All about area control, the gradually shrinking board is apt to cause panic even in the normally stone-faced players from Finance.

Date Night

Games that play best with or are designed for just two people can test the limits of your affection or bring you closer together (no warranty either way).  Though these games will work at work, teaching might take longer so an hour lunch is preferred for newer players.
  • Hive is one of the few abstract games on this list (like chess or checkers).  It presents the elegance of chess without a board, and the pieces have heft and make a wonderful clacking sound like Majong tiles.
  • Jaipur is a colorful trading game whose tokens and cards make a visually impressive setup.  The 2 of 3 mechanics means it is natural to play round after round.  This game used to be rare, but it has benefited from a recent reprint.
  • Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game maxes out the nerd factor.  This is as close as you can get to a war game, so check with your significant other before taking the leap.  Games run about 45 minutes, and it plays in a space the size of your dining room table.  Best of all, there are endless expansions to add iconic and obscure characters to your fleet of ships.

Family/Friends Game Night

Have more than two?  Hate Monopoly as much as I do?  This mix of competitive and cooperative games are sure to show you what the modern board gaming renaissance is all about.
  • Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game where you play against the game to avoid thirst, storms and the heat to get out of the desert alive.  The mechanics and components are top notch, and it plays in under an hour.
  • In King of Tokyo, players take the role of giant monsters vying for control of Tokyo.  A fast paced dice game, the randomness and ridiculousness of it all is a hit.
  • Card game The Builders: Middle Ages is a great worker placement game: hire and set workers to build a town.  The rules are simple, but the gameplay is complex.  This definitely benefits from replayability and the tin means it is sturdy enough to go anywhere.
  • Love Scrabble but have that one friend that outstrips you every single game?  Try Qwirkle for scrabble like crosswords without the burden of words.  It is more puzzle than game, depending on how cut-throat you get.
  • Ticket To Ride: Europe is rummy with a board, and this edition of the game is fantastic.  I learned more geography from this game than I did in grade school, and the artwork is fantastic.  Expansions are available and cover alternate maps and expanded ticket options.  It even has an App version you can pass-and-play if you don't want the fancy box.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Clark County, Nevada Elder Abuse Resources



I was concerned for the safety of a family member who is older not long after their spouse passed away.  Below are some things I learned about Elder Abuse, the resources available to help those in need (individuals or family), and things to do when investigating elder abuse.

Before going nuclear on someone new in your relative's life, first do the single most important thing: talk to your older relative.  Often, misunderstandings or matters of privacy can be sorted out without resorting to law enforcement, state assistance or subterfuge.  The matter of trust between you and your relative is the single most important factor in maintaining their long-term health and well-being.  If you lose their trust, you lose almost all ability to help them.

Local Police Resources

Police seem to only be able to make 'welfare checks' for elderly people that outsiders suspect are being abused. They can only visit the premises when the person is home. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Operator and Dispatch informed me that there are dedicated Elder Abuse detectives. Unfortunately, they only operate M-F, 7-4. As the crisis was after this time, we couldn't get a welfare check immediately. The numbers for these departments are below:
  • Metro Operator: 702-455-8697
  • Metro Dispatch 702-828-3307
  • Elder Abuse Detectives: 702-828-3111 (Hours are 7-4, no voice mail)

State Resources

Though I I have not taken advantage of these resources, there may have been help available through the Aging and Disabilities Services connected through the county. Comparable services may exist locally in your neighborhood.  Perhaps there are some interventions that would be helpful going forward?

Social Engineering

When trying to find out more about people that have entered a loved one's life unexpectedly, unexpected phone calls from unknown people are a great source of more information.  Generally, act as if the person is at home but not available.  The person on the other end of the line may divulge information that gives you clues about the intruder.  Effective phrases are below:
  • "Yeah, he's here but he's busy.  He asks what you need."
  • "Hold on, let me get her...She's here but can't pick up right now."
  • "Who is this again?  I didn't get that down last time."
  • "His phone is dead.  What number can he reach you at?"
  • "What was it again that you're meeting for?"
While the person is out, check the circumstances of the house, but try not to disturb things too much.  Look for signs of drug abuse, behavior you know your relative would frown upon such as smoking and drinking in the house. If you know their location, ensure firearms are secure, and check the status of belongings, heirlooms and money caches.  Document and narrate your search by video.

If you must get the police involved, minimize the impact on your relative.  See if they will come around when you try to have a person escorted off the property.  Ensure your relative is not involved in any illegal activity before involving the police, and, most importantly, get the consent of your relative before escalating.  You must maintain their trust, and asymmetric reactions to otherwise benign or diffusable situations can ruin that bond and expose a vulnerable relative to harm from both the intruder and the police.