December 29, 2016

Not Your Parents' Board Games: Game Profile on Catan

The series returns! 
In January 2016, KaCSFFS member and notable board game collector David Means gave a presentation to the club about his collection. It was so interesting, I asked for permission to reprint it as a series of posts on this blog. He graciously agreed, and supplied me with his script. I have added the illustrations, hyperlinks, embedded videos, etc. 

The first two posts in this series covered more general topics that cover many types of games. They were published on June 4, 2016, and June 18, 2016, and were well-received. 

This next part of the series, which is scheduled to run into 2017, takes a closer look at one or more individual games. We hope you will continue to enjoy this series! --Jan S. Gephardt 

Not Your Parents' Board Games
Part Three: Profile of the game Catan/Settlers of Catan
by David Means
I’m going to go over some games that have come out in the last twenty years, each of which has a different mechanic. Much of the information about the board games below came from, a website dedicated to the hobby of boardgaming. BoardGameGeek (BGG) has a database of well over sixty thousand games and expansions, with a wealth of information about each game. You don’t need to register to use the website, but you do if you want to comment or ask questions in the forums. I’ve been a member since 2008 and my handle there is “claymore_57”.

Current basic CATAN game cover.
Catan (formerly The Settlers of Catan), is a hand-management and route-building game in which players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect these resources (cards) -- wood, grain, brick, sheep, or stone -- to build up their civilizations to get to 10 victory points and win the game.

Setup includes randomly placing nineteen large hexagonal tiles (each showing a different resource) in a honeycomb shape and surrounding them with water tiles, some of which contain ports of exchange. Number disks, which will correspond to die rolls (two 6-sided dice are used), are placed on each resource tile. Each player is given two settlements (houses) and roads (sticks) which are, in turn, placed on intersections and borders of the resource tiles. Players collect a hand of resource cards based on which hex tiles their last-placed house is adjacent to. A robber pawn is placed on the desert tile.

This is technically The Settlers of Catan. But the hexagonal setup is the same for all versions.
Here are some examples of what development cards look like.

A turn consists of possibly playing a development card, rolling the dice, everyone (perhaps) collecting resource cards based on the roll and position of houses (or upgraded cities) unless a 7 is rolled, turning in resource cards (if possible and desired) for improvements, trading cards at a port, and trading resource cards with other players. 

A hand of resource cards.

The Robber of Catan
If a 7 is rolled, the active player moves the robber to a new hex tile and steals resource cards from other players who have built structures adjacent to that tile.

Points are accumulated by building settlements and cities, having the longest road and the largest army (from some of the development cards), and gathering certain development cards that simply award victory points. When a player has gathered 10 points (some of which may be held in secret), he announces his total and claims the win.

Catan has won multiple awards and is one of the most popular games in recent history due to its amazing ability to appeal to experienced gamers as well as those new to the hobby. 

It is also the game that gave us the in-game statement: “I’ve got wood for sheep!”

IMAGES: Many thanks to Board Game Geek for the use of their corner logo, to Target for the CATAN game cover image, and to Board Game Quest for the image of a Settlers of Catan game board in play, and also a look at the Robber (from an informative review by Tyler Nichols). Many thanks to a page on the rules of the Settlers of Catan game (via the USC Student Computing Center) for the examples of development cards and the hand of resource cards. The "wood for sheep" hat meme is from Clever Move's enjoyable post, "Five Rules to Keep the Peace While Playing Settlers of Catan."  

December 17, 2016

NO SF&F Literati in December--do you have January's selection?

Djenn, ghuls, and a struggle for power
The SF&F Literati selection brings desert warmth to the January selection 

Author: Saladin Ahmed
Available from: Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers; library copies are also available.
Meeting: Kansas City SF&F Literati
When: 7:00 p.m.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Where: Barnes & Noble #2352, 2nd Floor

       11323 W. 95th Street, Overland Park, KS 66214

Barnes & Noble Overview: 
From Saladin Ahmed, finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of the year's most anticipated fantasy debuts: THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron- fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, "the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat," just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla's young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed's sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near- mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince's brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time-and struggle against their own misgivings-to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

IMAGE: the cover image for Throne of the Crescent Moon is courtesy of Goodreads. The monster illustration is by Adri Fitri, posted by Saladin Ahmed on Twitter.

December 14, 2016

Annual Holiday Party lights up the night Dec. 17, 2016

We are sorry to announce that due to the bad weather this meeting has been cancelled. The Kansas City Police asked everyone to stay off the streets tonight, and we intend to comply. Stay safe!
See you in January, we hope!

Stockings hang from the chimney in The Writers Place
at the Holiday Party in December 2014.
Annual KaCSFFS Holiday Party
6:30-9:30 p.m. 
Saturday December 17, 2016
The Writers Place, 
3607 Pennsylvania Ave., 
Kansas City, MO 64111

It's a Party! 
Every year, KAXFEN gather to celebrate some or all of the many different holidays that fall around the Winter Solstice.

It's a non-partisan, non-religious, inclusive gathering of science fiction and fantasy lovers. We'll chat, eat, play games, and celebrate another year in fandom.

Food Theme: Holiday food or "warm and yummy" winter comfort food). As always, table service (cups, plates, bowls, plastic flatware, and napkins) are provided by KaCSFFS. Attendees bring their own food and drink.

Dress code: Warm, comfortable and festive! Santa hats encouraged but not required; ditto for ugly Christmas sweaters! Wear 'em if you've got 'em. 

And speaking of "if you've got 'em": In recent months we've enjoyed a variety of fun tabletop games! Please bring any you'd like to share (2-6 players, with a play length of 2 hours or less works best). 

Tabletop gaming groups are an increasingly frequent feature of meetings. Here, clockwise from lower left, Barry Halidaman, Beth Moscato, Cricket Beebe, Margene Bahm, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, David Means, and Beth Welsh gather around a game on the mezzanine of The Writers Place in March, 2016.

As ever, we'll decorate a bit, and we encourage any who want to bring warm Christmas goodies or winter comfort food to bring anything you'd like to share. Some folks bring small gift-bags or cards but that is purely on an "as you prefer" basis--don't feel obligated.

All members, friends and 
interested community members are welcome!
If you're in the Kansas City metro area but haven't yet come to a KaCSFFS gathering, please consider yourself invited! Ask questions about the group and what we have to offer. Help us warm up the winter night with good cheer and fannish fun!

Jim Murray, David Means, and William McCullough sample Holiday Party food in 2014.

One word of caution: Possible bitter cold and snow are in the forecast for our party date. If icy conditions force us to cancel this event, we will post an update here, on the KaCSFFS Facebook Page, and also on the Members-only KAXFEN email list. Please check one of those places if the weather turns bad!

IMAGES: All photos were taken by Jan S. Gephardt, and are used with her permission.

December 05, 2016

Laser Rangers 2016 December Meeting

Great Movies You Missed This Year: 2016 Edition
Date: December 10, 2016
Time: 4:50pm
Location: David Sooby’s home theater with 51-inch Samsung HDTV, a 5.1 Surround Sound Dolby Digital sound system, a full set of audiophile-grade speakers, and upgraded seating for about 15 people without crowding.
Captain Laser: Who Cares
Food: Regular
Costume: Casual

To learn more, please visit our Facebook Event Page.

Short features will be shown before each feature. Don't miss them!

Captain America: Civil War

(2016, 147 minutes) Directed by: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl

Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.-IMDB

Watch the trailer here!

After the first feature, please join us for a potluck dinner. Bring something to share. It can follow the theme, or be something you prefer.

Feature Presentation!

(2016, 108 minutes) Directed by: Tim Miller

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand

A fast-talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humor is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.-IMDB

Watch the trailer here!

The home of the Laser Rangers is located about four miles north of the Kansas Speedway, NW of the intersection of I-70 and I-435 on the Kansas side of the Greater Kansas City area.

IMAGE CREDITS: The information for all of these shows come from the invaluable IMDB. The movie posters come from Wikipedia or the movie's respected distributors. 

The movie screen frame image used for the Laser Rangers contact information is courtesy of Psychology Today Online. Many thanks to these websites!

November 28, 2016

Creative Corner--Holiday edition!

'Tis the season for book promotions, holiday studio open-houses, and more! Here's what some of our Creatives have been up to!

"Scintillating Starts" Contest closes December 1
Sponsored by the 20-year-old site Writer Advice, this contest closes soon, and it might be of interest to some of our local writers. 

Submit up to 1,000 words of any unpublished novel, memoir, or other long prose work's opening paragraphsAn entry fee of $15 gives you a chance to see your work win and be showcased, receive constructive comments, share in the prize money, and gain a contest-win credit for your CV or cover letter.

Coordinator B. Lynn Goodwin explains it this way: "Working on a novel, a memoir, or other long prose? Drafting something for NaNoWriMo? Grab and hold us with your opening paragraphs. We’ll read from works in progress as well as finished manuscripts in Writer Advice’s Scintillating Starts Contest. Submit up to 1000 words of any unpublished memoir, novel, or creative nonfiction by 12-01-16."

More details and a "Submit" link are available on the Writer Advice opening page. Email here with questions. 

Announcements from Writers
Robin Wayne Bailey 
“Black Dust,” a story by Robin Wayne Bailey is included in the new anthology, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress 31, edited by Elisabeth Waters. It is available in trade paperback and three standard e-formats.

For over two decades, the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, best-selling and beloved author, discovered and nurtured a new generation of authors. Volume 31 includes stories by Pauline J. Alama, Marian Allen, Robin Wayne Bailey, Lorie Calkins, Steve Chapman, Suzan Harden, Rose Hill, Melissa Mead, Catherine Mintz, Michael H. Payne, Deborah J. Ross, L.S. Patton, Jonathan Shipley, Dave Smeds, Laura Davy, Pam L. Wallace, and Julia H. West.

James K. Burk
You have two ways to enjoy FREE stuff when you order Burk's latest anthology, Mirror, Mirror and Other Reflections, from Amazon. The Kindle version is free with Kindle Unlimited, and free shipping applies with other qualifying offers. 

What's it about? "Fall into the looking glass," the description suggests: Here’s a collection of eerie tales of suspense that will captivate the reader from the very first story. 

Creative friend and Honorary KaCSFFS Member Rob Chilson wrote of the collection, “Smooth entertainment from a born story-teller. Burk’s works are a pleasure to read. He gives you believable people in unbelievable circumstances. This creates an assured tone that tells you to relax, he knows what he’s doing. And you do relax, until he brings out the dentist’s drill. For a good time, read on!” 

K.B. Shaw
KaXFEN may remember K.B. Shaw as the first author featured on our KaCSFFS Reviewers' Reading Circle series last September. Just in time for Christmas, he has a new offer available, via Amazon. His YA novel From the Shadows is available on the Kindle for 99 cents and as a paperback for $9.99. 

What's the story? Set in a peaceful future where a giant corporation has created computers with an AI (artificial intelligence) at their core, a technological innovation threatens to disrupt the world's economy. Two precocious teens find their lives entangled with those of a technology reporter and a former child prodigy in a race toward their destiny--oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead. 

From the Shadows has received high praise from reviewers. Now you (and/or a YA reader of your choice) can enjoy it at a discount.

The Reviewers' Reading Circle returns in January, featuring
P.R. Adams' Momentary Stasis
In December, the KaCSFFS Reviewers' Reading Circle will formally announce that Momentary Stasis by P.R. Adams is our January-March 2017 selection. It is the first in the Rimes Trilogy, a military science fiction series. At the follow-up March meeting, Adams will appear for a live interview via Skype or FaceTime.

As with previous selections, Momentary Stasis will be available for free to all dues-paid KaCSFFS members as a reviewer's copy, in your choice of PDF and two e-book formats. If you download it, that means you are willing to consider writing a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or other venues, including (Please!) The KaCSFFS Blog!

The KaCSFFS Reviewers' Reading Circle is actively seeking a new author to feature, ideally to announce at the March 2017 meeting. We'd like to continue to offer new selections at roughly quarterly or bimonthly intervals after that. What is the Reviewers' Reading Circle? Watch for a Page Tab on the Blog with more details, or scroll back to the October and September meeting posts about the authors we featured then.

'Tis also the Season for Art Open Houses and new prints!
Deb Pellicano
Dec. 4, 2-10 p.m.
The Twelfth Annual (well, almost) Home Studio Art Show is coming soon! Wonderful art by Ladyelf (Debbi Pellicano), great food and drink, mingling, Holiday Cheer, and just a generally good time for everyone. 

Artwork will be for viewing and for sale at 201 SE Topaz Drive, Lee’s Summit, MO 64063. Call 816-522-6197 if you need directions. Please RSVP! Hope to see you there!

Randal Spangler
Dec. 3 & 4 and 10 & 11.  
Randal Spangler will be hosting his Annual Christmas Open House at his home at 610 St. Andrew's Drive, Kansas City, MO 64145.  Come enjoy the season with cookies, coffee, Christmas music and a beautiful Christmas tree! 

There will be new artwork, older pieces and some originals.  Look for his marked down pieces that are "travel-worn."  Saturdays open 10a-5p, Sundays 11a-4p. Park on the street or in the driveway.

Lucy A. Synk
Dec. 10 (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) and 11 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) 
If you're in the Chicago area, check out the St. Giles Family Mass Community's Holiday Gift and Art Fair at McDonough Hall, 1101 Columbian (2nd floor), in Oak Park, IL. Longtime fantasy artist and former Kansas Citian Lucy A. Synk will be one of 16 artists participating, along with two Fair Trade organizations, Harambee and North Central College Alternative Trade Project (a portion of all sales benefit these organizations). Admission is free.

Keith Russell
Kansas City artist Keith Russell has announced the availability of two new prints.

Arterial Trees (above, copyright 2016 Keith Russell). 8 x 10" prints are $24.00 each, 11 x 14" prints are $40.00 each, via his Synthetic Sky Studios.

The other new print is Becoming (In) Human (at L, also copyright 2016 Keith Russell), acrylics on panel. Prints are the same price: 8 x 10" $24.00, 11 x 14" $40.00, also from Synthetic Sky Studios.

Xenofera Kickstarter campaign is funded!
In the October edition of Creative Corner we shared the announcement from ConQuesT artist Jeff Porter that he and his partner Liz Gattra were launching a Kickstarter campaign for their new strategic science fictional card game Xenofera. They are delighted to announce that the campaign was funded. Pre-orders are now open, via the website, and run through Dec. 31, 2016. Production on the game should be finished and available for purchase this spring.

IMAGES: The "Scintillating Starts" title is from Writer Advice website. The cover for Sword and Sorceress 31 is courtesy of the MZB Works website. The cover image for Mirror, Mirror (art by Brad Foster) is courtesy of publisher Yard Dog Press. The cover art for From the Shadows is courtesy of iPulpFiction. The Momentary Stasis cover is courtesy of the author, P.R. Adams. The Deb Pellicano artwork is courtesy of Dennis Young, via Facebook. Randal Spangler's image The Reading Tree is courtesy of his website. Lucy A. Synk's image Checking it Twice is courtesy of the gallery on her website. The images of Keith Russell's two new prints were provided by the artist. Jeff Porter's "party animals" art is courtesy of the Xenofera Facebook Page. Many thanks to all!