Looking Back at Dominion

I didn’t know if I could get it published, but if I could, my guess was, that at game stores there would be a shelf just for Dominion stuff. I did not anticipate that the shelf below it would be full of clones.

Now that the final Dominion expansion has shipped, it’s time for the post-mortems. Donald X. Vaccarino has posted his “secret history” (an updated version of something he wrote a while back) to Board Game Geek,  and it includes that wry comment on all the spin-offs that his game inspired.

I wrote my own complaint about the spin-offs two and a half years ago (unknowingly at the mid-point of Dominion’s life cycle). It’s continued to be a fairly popular article even now, so I definitely regret how quickly I dashed out that article. The basic point is still true, though: The quickest way to make a new deck-building game is to think of something to change about Dominion (usually the lack of monsters to fight) and then add it in. However, the people who do this seem to consistently miss the elegant design that makes Dominion work. In fact, the thing I found most interesting about Vaccarino’s article is how many of his discarded ideas seem to describe games that have come out since.

It had 500 unique cards, so just making a presentable prototype would be too much work, let alone balancing everything. And a game lasts four hours. So the audience would be somewhat narrow.

Vaccarino chose not to create Mage Knight years before Mage Knight was published.

Initially I thought there would be like a line of cards, and when you bought one we’d deal a replacement from a deck. That sounded bad though – too much of the game would rest on having a good card get turned over when it was your turn to go next.

Donald X. chose not to create Ascension years before Ascension was published.

While working on this game I realized that the math was too hard. You look at the first card in your hand. Deal 3 damage per level of bow skill. You look down at your Ranger. Bow level: 2. You multiply, that’s 6. Now remember that number and move on to the next card, a sword card for your Paladin. Figure out its total and add it and then move onto the next card. You’re looking back and forth and back and forth and remembering numbers.

Ok, that’s not exactly the same as Thunderstone’s math, but it’s the same fundamental problem. Donald X. recognized it from the start.

Things have changed since I wrote my older article. Though plenty of deck-builders still miss the point, we occasionally see ones that have an interesting variation on Dominion’s mechanics, and are able to modify the system to support it. We are even seeing some games that take deck-building in a completely different direction, proving that this mechanic can be a lot more than just clones of the first game. (To be fair, Mage Knight accomplishes this as well, despite my snark about it above. My complaints have more to do with the rest of the game, even though it implements deck-building well.)

For the most part, the future looks bright for deck-builders. I do have one major concern, though: Dominion would not be a popular game if it came out now. The twenty-five cards in the base set simply don’t provide much variety. It seemed like enough in 2008 because it was new to all of us, but now we need at least a few sets to keep the game varied and interesting. The economic reality is that releasing a box much bigger than Dominion wouldn’t work, though, so the new games still have to start off with just the basic components. That’s the main reason that Puzzle Strike isn’t getting the attention from me that it deserves, and it’s why my hopes about Trains are low despite the good buzz I’m hearing. Dominion got there first, and it pulled the ladder up after itself.

I hope that other “Dominion clones” can overcome this. If nothing else, Vaccarino has mentioned that he’d like to make separate stand-alone games someday that do things like monster-flghting right. I’d hate for him to be a victim of his past game’s success.

Despite that concern, though, I’m a lot happier with the state of deck-building games than I was in 2011. It took some time, but other designers seem to understand what makes this mechanic work. I was sad when I first heard that Dominion expansions had a planned completion date, but it feels appropriate now that the day is here. I still have a great game with a ton of variety to return to, and I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with next.

Ryan North – To Be Or Not To Be (Book Review)

To Be Or Not To Be cover

Ryan North – To Be Or Not To Be

To Be Or Not To Be is one of the strangest projects I’ve seen lately: A choose-your-own-adventure version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s an interesting but also ridiculous idea, and the author plays up this idea with plenty of absurd humor.

Just a year ago, I gave the original Hamlet a weak recommendation, saying that the language and title character were fascinating, but the plot and other characters were poor. This puts me in an interesting position with To Be Or Not To Be, since it’s entirely re-written with new prose. Author Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame is a very intelligent man, but he’s known more for writing dialog like “I am tripping all the balls” than philosophical soliloquies. Admittedly, North is good at that style. He’s arguably even the Shakespeare of faux-dumb AWESOMESPEAK, but that doesn’t necessarily mean his style is a natural replacement for Shakespeare.

While this new book loses a lot of the original’s language, it adds a lot of humor. Weird situations, modern humor, literary humor, and random factoids all show up throughout the book. There’s even a choose-your-own-adventure Chess game stuck in the middle. (Not to mention that the play-within-a-play of the original has been replaced by a gamebook-within-a-gamebook. And it fleshes out some parts of the story, like why Polonius would want to hide behind a curtain.) I bought this expecting a lot of laughter and not much literary value, even given my interest in gamebooks as an untapped art source, so I can’t say that that surprised me.

I was surprised, though, by the interesting points that North makes throughout its retelling of the original story. This offers a lot of choice, even letting you play as other characters or setting off to become a pirate, but it also marks the “canonical” choices with cute little skull icons in case you want to play through the Shakespeare version of the story. Usually I feel like the only person willing to point out that Hamlet is filled with flat characters and stupid decisions, so it’s a relief to see North poke fun at the same things. The book actually makes fun of you for doing ridiculous things, and gives you plenty of chances to kill the King easily instead of moping around for weeks and acting crazy. It even berates you for sticking to the original’s misogynistic treatment of Ophelia. Though this version’s depiction of Ophelia (an ass-kicking, liberated woman scientist) is not supported by the real text at all, its point is well-made. In fact, although I wasn’t expecting much from this as a story, I found the canonical walk-through to be very satisfying. It guides the reader along a predictable path, but also gives them enough agency that they feel responsible for their decisions. It examines the story by making the reader an active part of the experience, and that calls attention to things we’d otherwise ignore.

However, there are many other plot branches through the book. I have to say that most of them undermine the point that the main path makes about the ridiculousness of Shakespeare’s writing. This book can let you play Hamlet’s dead father and give up vengeance for marine biology, or lead an army of ghosts against an alien invasion in the future. With options like that, it’s difficult to complain about the holes in Shakespeare’s version.

I should also mention the Kickstarter campaign that funded this book. For the most part, I try to rate this separate from a campaign that you can no longer choose to join, but it’s pretty difficult to separate my appreciation for this from the Kickstarter in general. This was the campaign that made me realize how valuable it can be just to join a community with the creator being backed, and I felt like I’d gotten my money’s worth out of the project updates even before the book arrived. I also ended up with a multipronged bookmark designed to hold different places in a branching story and a small “prequel” adventure called Poor Yorick. (The bookmark is cool but impractical to use, and the book has as simple a structure as it’s possible to find in a choose-your-own-adventure, but it certainly is funny.) But some of the bonuses from the Kickstarter did make it into this book. It is huge, with over 700 pages, and color illustrations at each ending provided by a Who’s-Who of webcomic artists. Yes, the two-page spread at each ending (one picture plus a “THE END” page) does eat up many of those 700 pages, but it’s still a lot of story. Usually, I feel compelled to read through every path of a book like this. In this case, I got my fill long before I’d finished it all, and I look forward to coming back from time to time so I can page through to new surprises.

So is To Be Or Not To Be worth it? Well, first of all, it provides a great reason to read Hamlet in this modern age. You’ll understand a lot more of the jokes that way, and gain an appreciation for why people say you should read the classics in order to get modern references. Beyond that, though, I also recommend this book. Yes, it’s a flawed treatment of a flawed story, and so it only gets halfway to the brilliant deconstruction it teases us with. But it’s a humor book in the “court jester” style, able to speak truths that the intelligentsia often ignore because they’re couched in dumb jokes, and it also provides as much funny Shakespeare gamebook content as you’ll ever want. This is a good deal.

Grade: B

 

Dominion: Guilds (Game Review)

Dominion: Guilds box

Dominion: Guilds

After an amazing five years, the time of Dominion has ended. Designer Donald X. Vaccarino insists that Guilds is the last planned expansion. Whether or not that really remains true, the game will definitely feel different now that there are no longer new cards being added every six months.

This is a solid expansion, though it doesn’t feel as momentous as I’d like the final one to be. The original plan was originally to save Dark Ages until the end, and I think that would have been a good idea. Not only was it great, but it felt game-changing and added the most new cards of any Dominion game. Guilds, on the other hand, is one of the half-size expansions, and because the game’s variety comes from all the combinations of cards, these ones with twelve new card types feel like they have a quarter of the new material that the twenty-six-card expansions do.

This one is definitely good for expert players, though, which is appropriate for the last expansion. The two themes are Coin tokens, which you can save to spend as money in a future round, and cards that let you “overpay” when you buy them in return for a benefit. Previously, you had to spend money on the turn you earned it, and one of the trickiest things for new players to learn was that the best card for your deck wasn’t always the most expensive one. Now, players are also faced with the opposite question: Is the best card for your deck one that you should give up your savings for? If you have several coins saved up and multiple buys, this isn’t an easy question.

Dominion: Guilds Cards

The theme doesn’t feel very strong, since there have been cards featuring different professions in every set. As always, though, there are fun new cards. Soothsayer is a good twist on the classic Witch: It gives the owner a Gold and the other players an extra card draw, which helps alleviate the impact of all the Cursing that goes on in Witch games. And the Advisor is like the old Envoy promo card, but adding the balance and strategy that that card lacked. However, the best thing about Guilds is that it changes a fundamental part of the game, but it still feels natural and easy to teach to new players. This adds variety and new strategies, but it doesn’t feel like the game is any harder to learn. Strangely, this makes the expansion feel both refreshing and less essential.

This may not be one of the most memorable Dominion expansions, but it definitely continues the game’s winning streak. In a hobby filled with constant changes, it’s amazing that Dominion managed to remain one of my favorite games through all that time. Of course, it did that partly with those expansions that constantly added novelty. Guilds is a satisfying close to this era.

Grade: B

 

Redshirts and the Hugo

Redshirts cover

John Scalzi – Redshirts

Well, yesterday we learned that John Scalzi’s Redshirts has won the Hugo Award for best novel. I’ve read more than twenty books so far this year, and that was definitely the worst one. (In fact, it’s tied for the second-worst book since I started my blog, only beating out an artless ode to fascism.) I knew when I wrote my review that I was going against popular opinion, but it still baffles me how much some people like it. The people I’ve discussed it with generally found it light and amusing, and say they liked it because they also liked Star Trek. Fair enough – those elements were enough to get me through the first 75 pages or so, but even the people who enjoyed it don’t seem to be describing a Hugo-worthy novel.

If you’re curious, I stand by the complaints in my review. Scalzi tries for metatextual jokes about Sci-Fi characters who know they’re surrounded by “bad” science, which is fine. But their own science and logic, used in situations where the “bad” science shouldn’t take effect, are even less sensible! The main point of the story is supposed to be clever reactions to a weird situation, but every reaction is predicated on something that felt wrong. The character development, pacing, and tone are all poor, as are the rushed ending and its awkward “codas” that don’t feel like appropriate follow-ups to the story.

But I don’t mind the Hugo Award too much. I knew Redshirts was likely to win it, so I’d already dealt with that. The thing that really shocked me is that Patrick Nielsen Hayden won a Hugo in the editing category. As far as I know, the award doesn’t specify which book or books factored into the award. But I doubt it’s a coincidence that he won at the same time as one of the books he edited. And while I generally have a lot of respect for him and think he deserves his multiple Hugo wins, I still feel like Redshirts should have disqualified him this particular year. Most of my biggest complaints about the book were logical errors that should have been fixable given the flexible science that the book had available. I feel like a good editor should have been able to catch them. (For example, “If your characters are going to do this thing, cut out the conversation a few scenes earlier in which they decide it’s impossible.”) This book literally made me wonder whether John Scalzi had decided to start working without an editor. For the book and the editor to both win awards both seems wrong.

Let’s hope for better results next year.

Update: I worry that I may have sounded too harsh in my post. So let me clarify.

I am a big fan of Scalzi’s blog. I also think he has done great things for the SF community, both as president of the SFWA and through his personal quests to educate aspiring writers. He’s willing to make personal stands on issues even when they cost him readers. Basically, I’m a huge fan of just about everything BUT his professional writing. Usually, I just shrug my shoulders and accept that it’s not for me. But Redshirts seemed especially bad, enough so that I’m still perplexed by its reception.

Similarly, though I can’t say I pay as much attention to Hayden, I love what his company does and what I see of him as a person when I’m pointed to his blog or Twitter. I’m glad he’s won Hugos before. I just think this year’s Hugo is connected to Redshirts, and I can’t agree with that.

I still suspect this is some sort of Emperor’s New Clothes situation. Like I said at the start of this article, all the people I’ve heard from who liked this book seemed to find it light and enjoyable. No one makes it sound like a Hugo contender. I get the impression that a lot of voters just said “He sells well, he has a big fanbase, and he’s won Hugos before. This book wasn’t bad. I guess he gets another one.”

Local Mom Discovers One Weird Trick to Ruin the Internet

We’re all so used to web ads that we just ignore them. “One weird trick” to lose weight, save on car insurance, or even keep your guns safe from Obama. For most of us, the only time we acknowledge them is for the jokes. It’s hard to believe that anyone could take them seriously.

But those ads do work on some people, obviously. Otherwise they wouldn’t keep spending money on them. It’s just one of the ways that the web seems to be dumbing down, along with the articles that are split across ten pages to increase pageviews. Pageviews that are, of course, used to serve up more ads about the secrets that local moms discovered.

It’s pretty scary to actually think about, though. Ads like this are basically scams, and they’re being served up by even many respectable sites. Instead of ignoring them, think about it for a minute: A huge percentage of internet content is funded by annoying gimmicks and outright lies. And chances are that you pride yourself on ignoring the more legitimate ads, as well. But that means you are doing nothing to fund the websites that you like. Other people are. Whether they’re gullible, suggestible, or just plain new to the internet, there are people out there who are bringing in the advertising revenue for your favorite sites. You’re not important to the sites, and those people are.

That’s the thought that occurs to me more and more these days when I click past ads and zero in on the articles. I’m not the site’s target audience, no matter how much I like their content. If they could replace me with an ad-clicking kid with no impulse control, they’d do it in a heartbeat. It’s only a happy accident that some sites are still producing material that I like, and I never have confidence that it will last. Why should it, when my high-falutin’, ad-ignoring ways are costing them money?

This isn’t a good situation. I like these websites. I want them to continue. And the sad truth is, I usually have no good way to support them, because I’m not about to start shelling out money for some expensive herbal placebo.

(Sure, there are sites like mine that don’t care about making a profit. But they aren’t the future of the internet. And there are high quality sites like Daring Fireball that can use fairly classy, curated ads which appeal to their fanbase. But there are still websites I like that depend on traditional ad money, and they have every right to stop doing things that I like.)

That’s why I tend to talk so much about crowd-funding, donations, and other alternate revenue streams for websites. I want to see people on the internet succeed, and I know I won’t ever take ads seriously. That means that, as much as I like free stuff, I know I’m going to have to pay sometimes to keep material that I like. The web has a lot of potential, but it’s obvious that advertising will stifle that potential, and most amateurs will not be able to get there on their own. As advertising gets more pervasive, and big companies find more and more ways to track our activities so that they can find the perfect ads for us, we need to look for alternatives. The future of all our hobbies depends on it.

Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy (Music Review)

Pura Vida Conspiracy cover

Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy

“Gypsy punk” band Gogol Bordello is back with Pura Vida Conspiracy, their first album in three years. Once again, they celebrate their own culture with a world-spanning fusion that owes as much to New York City as to their actual roots. It’s  a powerful and liberating sound, though, jumping from raw folk to melodic punk as needed. Sometimes they cover both extremes in one song, as in “Malandrino”. That track demonstrates how a good, simple, heartfelt song can be used in so many ways.

The band is slowly incorporating more wide-ranging styles, especially from Latin America, but the music here is mostly comparable to 2010’s Trans-Continental Hustle. The band is slower and more thoughtful than in their early days, with time for storytelling and long diversions, but the wild heart is not gone. The band has always walked a thin line between parties and lectures, and while their more “mature” style may put them in danger of crossing that line someday, that hasn’t happened yet.

Gogol Bordello also usually strikes a balance between celebrating life and facing down tragedies. That’s where Conspiracy differs the most from Hustle. While the last album was aggressively angry and depressed, even going as far as to call most of their fanbase racist, this one is almost exclusively optimistic. Frontman Eugene Hütz spouts a lot of mystical feel-good lines (“every lifetime, we meet same circle of souls”). The impression is of an enlightened foreigner filled with the Zen-like secrets to a happy life. Of course, the very title of “Pura Vida Conspiracy” undercuts that literal reading, and Hütz is too adept at tweaking the settled mainstream audience that he is performing for. It’s hard to tell what to make of that, but it’s easy enough just to enjoy his charisma and good mood. If Hütz likes to tease you from time to time, that’s just the price of admission to his party.

Pura Vida Conspiracy continues the string of hits for Gogol Bordello. I find some of the mystical-but-not-actionable advice to be silly, but this makes a good counterbalance to some of the darker, more grounded, parts of their catalog. This band shows that it is possible to mature, and even soften your sound, without losing your edge.

Grade: B

 

The State of Worker Placement Games

My last couple game reviews both briefly talked about aspects of worker placement design. I want to talk about that in a little more depth.

It’s interesting that Village is considered original for being a “worker placement” game in which you put workers on the board (which don’t actually claim actions for you) who eventually die of old age. That description perfectly matches the 2004 game In the Shadow of the Emperor. “What?”, I can hear my audience shouting. (Well, all three of the people who remember that old game, at least.) “That wasn’t a worker placement game! Even its Board Game Geek page doesn’t list worker placement as one of its mechanics!” That’s right, it doesn’t. But that’s my point.

Emperor is a “card drafting” game, because players take turns choosing actions by taking the card that represents that action. Once the card is taken, no one else can use it for the round. It’s a confusing game, because the card designs are busy and people tend to put them back in a different order after each round, so players have to stare for a long time to figure out what is available. It would be a better game if actions were printed on a board, and people placed markers as they were claimed. In other words, the game would be cleaner, more understandable, and still have exactly the same gameplay if it used worker placement. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a worker placement game.

(I did consider making a board to play the game with worker placement, but after re-reading the rules I decided it wasn’t worth it. That would make the game feel like it was from 2006 instead of 2004, but it still wouldn’t hold up well by today’s standards.)

My point is that what we call “worker placement” is fundamentally the same as “action drafting”. Everyone seems to recognize that that’s a necessary part of the definition – I’ve never seen anyone call Carcassonne worker placement, even though you literally do place workers in it. And that’s fine. The community has a habit of naming game mechanics after the way they’re usually implemented thematically. For example, “train games” are about building connections on a map, with the goal of making or using specific routes. Jet Set is universally considered a train game, even though it’s about making routes for airways. But Mystery Express, which is set on a train, isn’t considered to be a train game at all.

I’m wondering if the term “worker placement” is getting in the way of discussing action drafting games. It worked great for the first several years that we were using it, as most games used pretty straightforward action drafting. The twists they added, such as taking back workers at different times or needing special types of workers for certain actions, still worked with the basic system of blocking off actions with your worker pieces. The first one I saw to really mix up the fundamentals of action selection was Dungeon Lords, in which players choose the general category for their workers before they learn what specific action slot they will get. Targi also uses that sort of indirect action selection, since some of your choices are at intersections of a grid, and after first choosing a specific row or column, you don’t know what other columns or rows your opponent will leave for you.

But Village is an example of an action-drafting game that would be awkward with a worker placement system. Players select their action by taking a colored cube from a certain area of the board, and the cube can be spent later as a resource. It’s important to the game that the cubes be randomly distributed every round. Simply grabbing them, without placing any worker tokens, is the natural way to do that. Bora Bora also pushes the limit of what traditional worker bits can handle, since its “workers” are dice that take on different values each turn.

Are we reaching a point where worker placement can’t handle the complexities of our action drafting games? I’m not sure. It’s been the most natural fit for years, so much so that it’s obvious when a game (like In the Shadow of the Emperor) predates it. I’m sure it will always have a place. But as our tastes keep growing more complicated, it looks like we may start to have more games like Village, which are undeniably action drafting but don’t necessarily use worker placement.

Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory cover

Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory

I recently panned I, Lucifer with the explanation that I can enjoy stories about bad people, but I don’t have to, and since then it seems that my statement has been really put to the test. The Orphan Master’s Son centered on awful things happening to hopeless people, and now I read Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory. This is told from the point of view of a methodical, mass-murdering teen, and it really doesn’t pull any punches.

It wouldn’t be right to call narrator Frank Cauldhame disturbed. His life may be dominated by rituals, both practical ones like patrolling the land around his home and mystical ones meant to predict the future or grant him power, but he is rational and relatable most of the time. That’s almost the most disturbing aspect of the book: As awful as his actions are, Frank seems relatable, and can even be realistic about whether his rituals mean anything. He’s simply someone who acts on the thoughts that everyone has, but he understands that and is comfortable with it. His home and family are plausible, and add to the overall impression of real people disconnected from sane society.

This is never the kind of realism that made me worry someone like Frank could be living next door, but he definitely felt like the sort of person who could be out there somewhere. And that adds to the most disturbing part: The child relatives he murdered. Told in the same precise, clear-headed style as the rest of the book (yes, he has emotional outbursts, but justifies them with a pseudo-rational approach), he builds up to the deaths slowly and horribly. He takes advantage of their trusting nature, and murders for ritualistic reasons that the victims are not responsible for. Suffice to say that I wish I’d read this book before becoming a parent, because it’s very hard to read afterwards.

So this is powerful and well-written, unlike I, Lucifer, but is it good? That’s a trickier question. The Wasp Factory is a fascinating character study, and it’s mercifully short. It’s interesting, but rarely enjoyable. Even if you’re looking for a visceral thrill, it’s too dry and horrifying to provide that. The book’s main problem, though, is that it doesn’t sustain itself even through its short length. The worst of Frank’s actions have been described long before the book is over, and then he just spends his time acting like any other drunken, self-destructive teen trying to one-up Holden Caulfield. It coasts on the strength of the first half and the promise of a big conclusion. But that ending is based on a twist that feels half-successful. It recontextualizes the book, and does make the character study more interesting, but it isn’t foreshadowed well and it derails the plot, leaving the book no way to end.

The Wasp Factory is memorable, compelling, and often directionless. Its impact on the reader is a testament to Banks’ writing skill, but it still doesn’t feel like it had a point at the end. It will be a great book for some people, but certainly not everyone.

Grade: C+

 

Transplants – In a Warzone (Music Review)

In a Warzone cover

Transplants – In a Warzone

The Transplants’ debut album has aged much better than most of its pop punk contemporaries, more for its samples, dance hall sounds, and other experimentation than for the rap fusion that dominated it. A decade later, though, their third album is coming out in a very different world. If the envelope-pushing sounds and tough stories of street life were a reaction to the cookie-cutter pop punk of 2002, today the band is apparently reacting to the complete lack of punk culture with a much more straightforward album. In a Warzone is mostly standard songs, calling back to past sounds instead of trying out new ones. The rap rock is still there, though.

It’s amazing how often this album sounds like Rancid lite, with Tim Armstrong being the one member not noticeably weakened by the past decade. A few could easily be Rancid outtakes, right down to the shouts of “Go!” over opening guitar riffs. But while that may sound like an insult, even lesser Rancid albums are pretty great. (Admittedly, I’m a big fan of Armstrong, but I’m trying to ensure my review and grade takes out the less rational part of my fandom.) This album has some fun punk songs like “Back To You” and “Exit The Wasteland”. At first, I thought “Any of Them” was obnoxious and lazy, with its flat, repeated refrain of “No I don’t give a fuck about you or any of them”, but I’ve come to really appreciate the way it is stitched together with varied verses.

There are definitely times that I wish that the full Rancid band were performing a song, and some of the tough stories of street life sound posed and awkward coming from these middle-aged men (“I’ve seen the blood drain through the cracks in the sidewalk”). But the Transplants still let Armstrong try things that he couldn’t do in Rancid, including a wider range of guest artists. Rapper Paul Wall’s turn on “It’s A Problem” sounds as different as the band’s debut album.

It’s hard to say what the Transplants should be in 2013, and In a Warzone is easiest to appreciate if you don’t compare it to their other work. Considered on its own, though, it’s a strong album put out by veterans who know what they’re doing.

Grade: B-

 

Unexpected Hiatus

Oops. It looks like I vanished for two weeks. On the one hand, this shows that i was foolish to stubbornly try for an every-other-day update schedule even when I didn’t have time. I kept putting up placeholder articles, sure that I was about to have time to get back to them, but it just kept getting worse. On the other hand, this probably proved that I was right about needing a strict writing schedule. I was afraid all along that when I finally did slip, I’d go really off-schedule, and I did!

I’m back now. At least, I think I am. I forced myself to actually write those placeholder articles before I tried to post anything new. Now I’m caught up and (hopefully) ready to write regularly. If I start to slip again, though, I won’t be so stubborn about it next time.

If you want to go back and read those articles that I filled in retroactively, here they are:

Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band – Bless This Mess (Music Review)

Village (Game Review)

Targi (Game Review)