Gaming with Children: Thursday opens a window

, | Game diaries

This happens about once a week, when just about every free minute of the day is spent in gaming bliss. It’s not easy to find and you never know what day it will happen. This week, it happens on Thursday.

After the jump, sweet sweetness so sweet you’ll sweat sweet sugar

I start the morning walk listening to a games podcast, either Quarter to Three or Flash of Steel. I finish listening to it on the train while playing an indie game called Delve Deeper! It’s an interesting game where you send Dwarves deep into caverns to harvest gold. You have different types of Dwarves to choose from, depending on your needs. Digger Dwarves dig faster. Runner Dwarves move faster in order to collect loot before the enemy does. You get the idea. It’s boardgamey, and since I love me my Euro boardgames, I like it.

After the morning update, I spend the next two hours playing Europa Universalis 3. The game has a learning curve for sure, but not as bad as I was led to believe. The systems are relatively simple. The underlying combat math in Civ IV is a lot more complicated than any system in EU3. I kid you not. But most people probably don’t even bother trying to learn Civ IV’s combat system. They just set it on easy and are blissfully unaware of it.

The actual biggest learning curve in Europa Universalis is the style of gameplay. I haven’t encountered anything like it before. I’m starting off as Portugal as it appears it’s a nice beginner’s country to get your feet wet. I’m learning how the trade, inflation, research, and colonization systems work. At some point, I must save the game as work beckons.

Work is the usual gauntlet. I work four hours a day, but I do in those four hours what other people would need eight hours to do. The proof of this is apparent when we hire freelancers to do my job and we watch them unable to keep up the pace. We have a deadline when the show goes out, so there’s no room for error. The good thing about it is there’s no taking work home. You finish your work for the day and tomorrow there’ll be a whole new story to do.

So I’ve got about an hour to go at work before I can punch out. I need to unwind. I decide to boot up a game called Spectromancer. It’s really a great Magic the Gathering clone that simplifies the gameplay and yet still offers a deep experience. You gain one magic point in each magical sphere, you play one card, and then your creatures attack. Simple, but very addicting. I’ve gotta give a thumbs up to the designers for the campaign. While you do just choose an opponent from a map, each match has a special rule attached that makes each duel different. After an hour of this, I’m heading home. Or at least I should be…

I decide to boot up Europa Universalis 3 just to tweak some sliders. Unfortunately for me, my neighbor Castille has decided I’m unworthy to share a continent and they begin moving troops into my territories. I can’t blame them. I kept dishonoring our alliance every time France came knocking down their door. It’s France! I’m just little Portugal. I don’t want none of that heat. Europa Universalis 3 can be a very tense game at times. A nail biter. The last thing I want to do is head home wondering how this will all end. Will I push Castille back? Will they take some land from me? How far back will this war set me?

So I call the wife and tell her that I’ve got a few more things to do and will be running late, and to save dinner for me. I ‘play noble knights in-game. I never said I was one in real life.

This has several advantages. First, I get another hour or two of gaming before heading home. Second, by the time I get home and eat, the kids and wife will be in bed already, allowing me to get right into some League of Legends. All I gotta do is hope the pukinator sleeps through the night.

So I’ve beaten back Castille and simply paid them a little money for their troubles. Basically, they pushed me around and demanded my lunch money. I agreed because I want this unwinnable war to go away, and they want to keep face with the other European powers. On the train ride home I tweak some sliders. Europa Universalis 3 has sliders to allocate funding to different research goals. And after the war with Castille, it’s time to focus a little less on trade and a little more on my land forces. I have a feeling me and Castille are going to have a rocky relationship.

So the pukinator continues her quest for world dominance later that night while I’m playing League of Legends, a game that frowns upon people who don’t finish matches. I swear I hear the Ban Hammer swinging just above my head.

But I can’t complain. It’s been a long two days of solid gaming.

Up next: G.D.I.F.
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J.P. Lucas works, pays bills, eats, and sleeps. He changes diapers. Lots of diapers. And he does whatever his wife tells him to do. It’s safer that way.