Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done

I got a chance to play one of Tasty Minstrel Games' newest offerings "Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done." I have a decent amount to say after our plays, but in case you'd rather just have a quick recap of my thoughts, I'm offering both

The Good

  • Great, Chunky, Cardboard Bits. I love how thick the components are in this game. It causes them to have a high quality feel and makes me feel like I have a deluxe version. If you’re going with cardboard bits, I feel this is the way to go. It simply feels like I have something of substance when I hold it.
  • Stylized Buildings/Knights. I had to double check that I wasn’t sent a deluxe version when I first saw these “meeples.” Each of the 4 buildings has a unique look that clearly distinguishes it from the others. Since the buildings have no value after they are placed, it would have been really easy to make all the buildings large cubes or generic settlements (Catan Settlements). This distinction makes the board look really nice when it’s done, and not just a giant conglomerate of cubes. In addition, the Knights are riding horseback as they move across Europe. This esthetic really drives home the theme and helped make me love the components.
  • Simplicity in Gameplay. Upgrade or take an action. That’s it. And since your ability to take actions relies on having action cubes on a particular spot, it makes gameplay quick. It was one of the simplest games I’ve had to teach that also provided that much depth.
  • Action Selection Style. Speaking of gameplay... I LOVED the rondel. Each turn you pick up all the cubes on an action spot and place them around the circle one at a time... allowing you to take more powerful actions on your circle on later turns. Building up your actions to make them more and more powerful was a super fun challenge, and I even managed to pull off a 14 Influence (VP) action at one point. While I’m sure this is not the first game to use a mechanism like this, it was a first for me and I loved it.
  • Fun Engine Building. I enjoy feeling like my choices make my future turns better. It’s why I enjoy games like Space Base, Gizmos, and Roll for the Galaxy. I really felt like I had those options here. Build a building: make one of my four actions more powerful. Muster: make it easier to crusade. Flip a tile: Now I can take two actions. Even going back to the roundel... I often found myself going “ if I take this action, I can take that action, which will let me do this action, and then I’ll take that MEGA action!” If I managed to pull it off, it was a very satisfying feeling.
  • Upgradable Actions. One thing about the roundel was finding myself with more action points then I needed on any particular turn. Being able to upgrade your actions was a great solution to this. You simply turn over a wedge, revealing a second action. This cost you a turn, but When you upgraded them, you got to distribute any tile on your wheel (adding to your overall strategic choices). Once a wedge is upgraded, you could allot the tokens to both actions.
  • Plays 4 Really Well. So far, I’ve only played with 4, but I never felt it dragged.
  • My Bride asked to play a second time in a week. That’s enough said. While we’re both gamers, I possess a much larger breadth in the type/style of games I enjoy. So to both really like a game and have her enjoy it is a win.

The Bad

  • Theme. The crusades were a really awful, dark time in history, and this in no way deals with the weight of that reality. Our friend Chris kept being taken back by how lightly we’d say “Ok, I’m going to crusade.” I think his point is valid. This theme could turn people off. I do feel that is very abstract in concept, so I don’t feel like I’m committing atrocities. But because it’s abstract, I feel it could have been a different theme. I’d love to see this same game set in the Eminent Domain universe. Instead of Europe, you’re setting across the galaxy. Instead of castles, churches, farms, and banks, you’re establishing military bases, temples, food factories, and... banks are fine. Battle Cruisers instead of knights. Survey=Movement. Warfare=Crusade. Colonize=Build. Produce=Muster. Trade=Influence. Research=Upgrade. Speaking of Eminent Domain, another thing they could have taken from them...
  • Not Enough Influence Tokens. In a 2 and 3 player game, they tell you to save the remaining influence on what you might earn after the Influence pile runs out. In a 4 player game.. you use all the influence. So we found ourselves having to get a pen and paper to keep track when someone triggered the game. It would be nice if they had extra Influence that could’ve been used that was maybe colored differently so you know it’s only for end game.... just like in Eminent Domain.
  • Rule Book. The major parts of the gameplay are very clear. The setup is pretty well illustrated. Yet, I found this rulebook lacking. First, I always appreciate it when a rulebook clearly lays out each component and tells you what it is. I found myself confused on what a few things were. Also, some rules felt very unclear. Can you move through an opponent’s land? Can you be in the same space as an opponent? This is far from a bad rulebook, but the more games I play, the easier it becomes to tell when one isn’t great.
  • Fragile Pieces. One of my horses had his tail break. Just something to be aware for and check after opening. Though I’m sure if you find a broken tail in your copy TMG would send you a replacement.
  • No Inset. Apparently, this is available in the deluxe edition, but both myself and my friend Mike commented how nice it would have been for the wedges, which we found getting bumped a little too often.
  • Scoring is Super Fiddley. This is my biggest complaint. Even though they provided a nice player aid for what on your board scores, it wasn’t always clear unless you referenced it. A little extra symbolism would have helped this. I’m pretty sure everyone forgot to take points at some point.

Quick Thoughts

    The Good
  • Great, Chunky Cardboard Bits.
  • Stylized Buildings/Knights.
  • Simplicity in Gameplay.
  • Action Selection Style.
  • Fun Engine Building.
  • Upgradable Actions.
  • Plays 4 Really Well.
  • My Wife Liked it.

    The Bad
  • Theme.
  • Not Enough Influence Tokens
  • Rule Book.
  • Fragile Pieces.
  • No Inset.
  • Scoring is Super Fiddley.
 

Conclusion

I like this game. I wasn’t sure I would when I first saw it, but I do tend to be a fan of TMG games and figured I would give it a shot. Needless to say, I was pleasently suprised for all the reasons I listed above and I am planning on keeping it in my collection. Its mechanics are great, the components are amazing, and I just get a lot of enjoyment from playing it. High praise for this one and I'd highly recommend it.

Rating: 8.5/10

Winter Reading Wrap-Up

SUBJECTS:

When I first started working for the library, I started my own blog. I reviewed children and teen books (because that's all I read) one at a time and rated them anywhere from 1-5 stars. With my perfectionism, that took a lot of time, and (unless it was a super quick picture book) it wasn't very fun to keep reading books until the end just so you could [honestly] give them a bad review. I wanted to be able to share books I've enjoyed here, but knew I'd grow tired of it quickly if I did one at a time. So after a season (literally) of reading several good books, I decided I'd try to add a new feature on our blog - a brief summary of recent books I've read over the past season.

So, were the books any good?

I thought so. At some point between blogs, I decided life's too short to read books you don't like, just to be able to say you finished it. If I'm not hooked within the first few chapters, or if something really puts me off, I stop and move on to the next one.

How do you have time to read so many books?

Okay, so maybe you aren't actually wondering this, but for me, 8 books in 3 months is a lot! Even during the times in my adult life where I've most enjoyed reading, had you told me I'd be reading more than 2 books a month, I'd have looked at you like you had three heads! But to answer the question, I didn't technically read all of them. Shoutout to Hoopla! Why pay for audiobooks (I'm looking at you, Audible) when you can listen to them for free with your library card?! From here on out, when I say "reading", assume I may *technically* mean "listening". Side note: If your local library does not offer a free subscription to Hoopla as a member benefit, request it! (In writing, because everything is more official when they have it on paper.)

Anger: Handling A Powerful Emotion In A Healthy Way - I didn't mean to start out with my favorite, it just wound up that way alphabetically! Gary Chapman, probably most well-known for his book, The Five Love Languages wrote a book on anger - a topic totally relevant to my life right now! I definitely started this book hoping to find some coping skills for dealing with the children, but halfway through, it started totally affirming another situation we've been wrestling with for years. (I did get some ideas for dealing with the children, and can't wait to start trying to put what I've learned into practice!) Whether you've got a short fuse, or are close with someone who does, I highly recommend this book.

Big Love - This is going to sound weird, but I read this one on accident. I was interested in one of the suggested reading lists on Pinterest, which included the book Big Magic. Days later when I was browsing Hoolpa, I came across Big Love. I thought, It has the word "Big" in the title, and the cover is more bursts of colors than pictures. This book was on that list! While it turns out-cue Ben Kenobi voice- this was not the book I was looking for, it didn't disappoint! This story is the memoir of a cult survivor whose parents were murdered when he was a teenager and whose brother died of a heroin overdose. Despite all of these heartbreaking experiences, he chooses love.

Capture His Heart - Having been around since 2002, I feel like this is one of those books that is one of the "classics" on Christian relationships. Capture His Heart aims to simplify a husband's needs (and thus make them easier for wives to understand) by breaking them down into 8 adverbial categories, then provides creative ways on how to meet these needs. Take this one with a grain of salt, NOT all men are created equal (I should know, I'm one of the lucky ones!). But surely you'll find some things applicable to your marriage, and it's a good reminder that we should be more focused on our spouses than ourselves!

The Dark Side of Disney - This book has been around for a few years and I never even picked it up because I assumed from the title that it was going to be everything I never wanted to know about the mouse-god himself. Turns out, it's more of a [darkly] humorous travel guide. Want to know how to get cheap tickets? Both legitimate and illegitimate ideas are provided. They also go over more raunchy topics like the best places to get laid. Honestly, most of the "tips" are things a true Disney lover would never do (at risk of being banned from the parks for life), but it's worth the read if you have thick skin and plan on loving Disney regardless of how many F-bombs are dropped in the storytelling process.

Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide - Guys...I bullet journal (that's "Bujo" to the "in" crowd) now. Thanks to this book. Have you ever been on Pinterest and seen those journals that look like so detailed and artsy that they should be in the MoMA or something?! Those are [probably] Bujos. This book was super reassuring that you don't have to be a modern day Picasso to start a bullet journal and reap the rewards. If you've ever been interested in the journals, start here. And if you ever feel like crossing over to the dark side Pinterest, but don't have an artistic bone in your body, that's why God invented tracing paper!

Love Does - So there are stories of love overcoming extreme adversity (as in Big Love, mentioned earlier), but then there are also stories of love where you think surely at any moment now, the director is going to jump out and yell "CUT!", right? Love Does is one of those stories. Unreal achievements and positive life changes brought about because love isn't caught up in thinking what if something goes wrong, or is this the logical choice, love just does. Written in such a way where I just want our family and the Goff family to be bffs, the stories in this book are truly inspirational. Read this one when you want to feel good and are ready for your heart to overflow.

Present Over Perfect - In a world where people are expected to go, go, go; in a world where the need to keep up with exceed the Joneses has become borderline-obsession; in a world where we have quotes like "you'll have time to rest when you're dead"...This book offers a look at intentional living. Follow one woman's journey as she learns that - not only is it okay to say "no" - it can be good to say "no"! While I personally don't struggle with this, I know many people (especially moms) who feel guilty when they say "no", so they don't. "Saying no means you know your limits."

We Are So Blessed - Have you ever tried to turn the Bible app's verse of the day into a beautiful image to save or share, only to be disappointed by your results? Have you ever wondered why your Google image search for artsy Bible verses yielded pictures that looked like they were made in Paint? We Are So Blessed is a beautiful book worthy of any coffee table. Professional artists have taken lines from hymns, quotes, and verses and turned them into beautiful pictures that I wish were available in digital form so I could save them on my phone, too! Full verses or entire passages accompany the pictures.

#100HappyDays

SUBJECTS:

What is #100 Happy Days?

This project was started by Dmitry Golubnichy in the fall of 2013 as a personal challenge. His story is not uncommon – simply put, he was not satisfied with his life. After spending time with old friends who seemed to have unlocked the “secret” to being content, he returned home inspired. He began by asking himself, can I be happy for 100 days in a row? and challenged himself to find at least one thing he was happy for every day. He decided to take pictures to capture the happy emotions/memories/etc., and upload daily to social media [for accountability] using the hashtag #100happydays. After only a short time of seeing his posts, he had friends, and then friends of friends (and so on), asking if they could join the challenge. Since the creation of his website, over 8,000,000 people have completed the #100happydays project!

Why #100HappyDays?

I didn’t realize until I began researching the history of the project in preparation to write this post just how early I jumped on the bandwagon, but if I go back to March 2014 on my Instagram (@emt09d), I can relive some happy memories from my first round of #100HappyDays. At that time, I wasn’t a big Instagram user, and I didn’t do a lot of photos (many days I would just type about what had happened that made me happy), so I posted mostly on Facebook. However, in this case, I can’t argue with the old saying – a picture is worth a thousand words. Recently, I’ve become pretty overwhelmed with anxiety, but I’ve never forgotten my first experience with #100HappyDays. Going back and looking at pictures has really done my heart good.

An open invitation…

Did you know that 70% of people who sign up for the challenge don’t complete it because they say they “didn’t have enough time”? I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to become someone who is too busy to be able to find happiness – especially if it’s just one moment in a day! I do hope, whether you’re the most joyful person on the planet, or in a funk like me, that you’ll consider joining me for this challenge.

If you’re worried you’re not creative enough or that you’re “too boring” and won’t be able to come up with 100 different things, don’t worry – help is on the way! After scouring Instagram and the photos that are tagged #100HappyDays, Dmitry has composed a book of 100 directives to help you make it through (at least!) 100 days.

Oh, and if you do buy the book and you’re local, I’d love to borrow it! This would probably be an excellent segue to write a post about our current no-spending challenge…