Tabletop Game Review: Nuns on the Run


, , ,


Title: Nuns on the Run

Number of Players: 2-8

Play time: 30+ minutes?

Rating: 3/10

This was a game we picked up when we were in Fort Wayne, but hadn’t yet played until now. We finally decided to give it a shot with a group of friends, and we ended up playing with a group of four. In a group of that size, one player plays both the Abbess and the Prioress, while each of the other places chooses a single novice to use. The goal of the game as the guards (Abbess and Prioress) is to catch the novices sneaking around and send them back to their rooms. If you catch them a certain number of times, or prevent them from accomplishing their goals in 15 turns, that player wins. The goal of the game for the novices is to sneak through the Abbey to get a key, then get your “secret wish”, and finally sneak back to your room. If you do those three things, then you win.

The guards move along the board in set paths, and are visible to all players. The novices “move” via notations on individual notepads, which are not seen by the other players. That is to give them a chance in getting around the guards. Each turn, the novice gets to choose how many spaces they move, and then they must roll to see how much noise they made. The number of spaces you move affects the distance along the path you are able to be heard. If the guards “hear” you, then they can leave their set path to go after you. Additionally, if you pass through their line of sight (six spaces), you are visible until you leave it, and must move your pawn to that space on the board. This makes it easier for the guards to find you.

The reason we didn’t like this game much is that is was really complicated. It took us ages to set it up and read the rules, and we found it hard to understand. Each turn for each player had a lot of steps, and it was hard to constantly be aware of where you were located, since your pawn was not on your space. You had to refer to your sheet, and each time the guards moved, you had to check on every single space whether or not they could see/hear you. I did not play the guards, but I imagine it would be frustrating not to be able to see anyone, and having to rely on the other players to tell you whether or not they were in your line of sight.

Speaking of that, the other element we didn’t like was how much it relied on trust. No one in our group tends to cheat, but it would be sooooo easy. No one but you knows where your character is, and it’s up to you to keep track of where you are and whether or not the guards can see you. Even if no one’s cheating, it would be easy to make a mistake, and no one would be able to catch it. I’ve definitely played some games where I moved in a way I couldn’t, or forgot to do something, and it was corrected and I moved on. That couldn’t happen there. It just was a pretty silent experience, and didn’t foster a sense of group.

We probably wouldn’t play it again, and are thinking about selling it!


Video Game Review: Okami HD


, , , , ,


Title: Okami HD

Platform: PS3

Personal Trophy Completion: 100% (Platinum)

Rating: 9/10

This game was fantastic. I actually had given it a shot back in the PS2 days, but for whatever reason couldn’t get into it and quit early on. That was a mistake. This is one of the most beautiful, engaging, and ingenious games I’ve ever played. You play as a wolf named Ammy, who is a reincarnated god traveling through the human world to collect lost techniques and defeat evil. You are accompanied by a small buglike creature named Issun, who does most of the guidance and communication as Ammy doesn’t speak. You are able to travel around a parallel world of Japan, learning new skills, revitalizing the countryside, and defeating monsters. The story is deep and lengthy, and was pretty engaging to me, even as someone who ignores most story (I get bored). There are lots of humorous parts, and it’s easy to see what needs to be done next. All areas can be easily revisited, and must be in order to unlock certain things as you gain new abilities. It has a good balance of fighting, collectibles, and exploration. All of the bosses have unique strategies leading to their defeat, and you really do use every single ability you gain.

Perhaps the coolest part is Ammy’s weaponry. You have melee weapons, you can choose between a “reflector” or shield to whack with, “rosary beads”, basically a whip, or a “glaive”, or sword to equip. You can equip two weapons – one as main and the other as sub, and can mix and match as you’d like. I preferred beads, as they had a long range and could combo like crazy. In addition, you are able to use the celestial brush, where you hold down R1, which pauses the action and allows you to draw certain actions across the screen. For example, a single horizontal line is power slash, which damages enemies, while a loop is Galestorm, which knocks your enemies out of the sky and sends them flying across the arena. You also use these moves in the environment to solve puzzles and reach new areas. Each enemy has a weakness for a certain move, and killing them with it gets you extra goodies. You have both a health bar and ink counter, both which can be upgraded, and ink restores over time. Ammy can also headbutt, dig, and jump, leading to platforming.

I played this game to the fullest extent. I upgraded Ammy as much as possible, bought every technique, collected every stray bead, caught every fish, fed every animal, defeated every type of enemy, completed every side quest, etc. And honestly? It took me just over 40 hours, but I didn’t mind at all. I was engaged the entire time, and truly enjoyed it. That being said, there were a few areas that bothered me. Some of the platforming was a little strange, and sometimes the camera would “lock” and not allow you to look around, which could be frustrating. Also the story was not told through cutscenes, but rather written dialogue, which was fine, however you had to click x to advance every. single. line., which was horrible. It should’ve just flowed on its own, or at least only made you click to continue after full paragraphs. Argh. But what can you do, it’s an old game.

All in all, this is definitely a must play! Especially for anyone nostalgic for the PS2 era.

Trip Review: Pawley’s Island, SC


, , , , ,

Long time no post, eh? I was away on vacation for the beginning of the month, and getting readjusted to real life for a few days after that. I’ve also been lost in playing Okami, I should be getting the platinum here soon, which has been quite a commitment. But anyway, back to the trip review!

My husband and I took a vacation with my family (parents, brother, sister, and sister’s fiance) to Pawley’s Island, SC. That’s about 30-40 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, and approximately 1.5-2 hours north of Charleston. My parents are planning to retire somewhere in that area in the next 5 years, so it was a combination beach vacation slash scouting trip.

We drove, and arrived on the 4th of July. We checked into the beach house we were renting, which was a short walk from Litchfield Beach. We popped down to the beach to check it out, and then spent some time settling in before going out to dinner. For the first night, we went to a place called Pawley’s Island Tavern. It was extremely hard to find, just had a little mailbox labeled “PIT” on the main road, and then you had to follow a small road back into the woods to get to it. It was supposed to be a pretty popular local place, and the atmosphere was really neat. We ate outside on the patio under strings of lights, and listened to a live music sound check (we weren’t there long enough for them to start playing). Several of us ordered fried shrimp baskets, as we were at the beach, and it was… not good. It was way overcooked, tough, and barely breaded. Pretty disappointing, and we wouldn’t go back. We then went down to Georgetown for their fireworks show, which we got amazing seats for. I experimented with our camera’s manual mode to get some cool shots.


The next several days were mostly spent at the beach. We spent a few hours out there most mornings and then came back for the afternoons to relax. My parents took time in between to make appointments with the realtor. One day we went up to Myrtle Beach to play mini golf, which was fun but HOT. Another night we ate dinner at Moe’s BBQ, which was AMAZING. Make sure to get the pulled pork “Bama style”, with coleslaw and sauce.

One of the days we went down to Charleston, which is a beautiful city. The architecture is just gorgeous, and the waterfront space is so nice to walk along. We even saw a dolphin. We walked through the market area, and did some shopping before ending up at Hyman’s Seafood for dinner. My family had been there a couple times before, but this was my first experience. I ordered a combo that included shrimp, cajun mahi mahi, and a crab cake. I really enjoyed my meal, and their hush puppies were fantastic. I always judge seafood restaurants on their coleslaw and hush puppies. The atmosphere of the place was really cool, and our table was covered with little plaques listing the famous people who had eaten at that particular table. Pretty cool!

DSC_0162 DSC_0166

Our last evening was spent at the Myrtle Beach boardwalk, where we relived a little bit of my dad’s childhood. We went to the arcade, where we played a baseball game for a quarter. It was similar to pinball, only you were trying to whack the ball into the holes marked single, double, triple, and home run, and avoiding the “out” ones. Apparently not much had changed since my dad was a kid, and it was actually pretty fun. My brother set a high score of 21, which was 7 short of the goal needed to win a prize. We walked around a bit, and then got soft serve ice cream. I got vanilla dipped in butterscotch, the husband got peanut butter soft serve. It was a great way to end the trip.


Overall, we had a really good trip, and when my parents retire I can definitely see bringing the grandkids to visit and having a lot to do!

AFI Top 100 Movies – #1-50


, , ,

A few months before we got married in 2013, my husband and I decided to take on a project. We wanted to watch some of the best movies of all times, and in order to do so, began following the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies list. We are using the 10 year anniversary addition, which updated the list with movies made between 1997 and 2007, but plan to watch the eliminated movies at the end of the main 100. Ideally, when it is updated again in 2017, we will have finished and will be able to watch the additions as well.

It has been very slow going, with periods of watching a bunch of movies and periods of watching none at all. Now that we’ve moved back to the Cincinnati area, we have access to an extremely wide library network, where we can have anything delivered to our local library. As a result, we’ve begun to pick it back up again, and now we are exactly halfway through. So I figured I would share my top and bottom 5 movies from the first half of the main list.

The List on Wikipedia

Kate’s Top 5 (in no particular order):

1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

3. Psycho (1960)

4. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

5. The Sound of Music (1965)


Kate’s Bottom 5 (in no particular order):

1. Intolerance (1916): Oh my god, kill me now. 3+ hours of a black and white silent historical film.

2. Lawrence of Arabia (1962): Soooo long, and not very interesting.

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): So weird.

4. Raging Bull (1980): Hate sports movies.

5. Dr Strangelove (1964): This was also really weird.


So far, this has been a pretty cool project. We’ve discovered that I like the dramas that are people and character based, and James likes the action movies. I also understand SO many more pop culture references now that I’ve seen these!

Sony at E3 2015


, , , , , , ,


So I’ll start by saying I’m a PlayStation person through and through. I just don’t care about Xbox. Nintendo is cool, and has some really enjoyable stuff, but I’m way too attached to my trophies and PS games to really play much of that system. I don’t play multiplayer games, or online, so I have 0 interest in any Xbox exclusives. Anything else, is either available on both platforms or is exclusive to PlayStation, which to me makes the choice of systems obvious. I own and use both a PS3 and PS4, plus a Vita that I haven’t played in ages. So every year at E3 I always try to hit up the Sony conference and see what’s coming. Sometimes I check out the individual conferences for Square, etc, but this year I didn’t get to it. I may watch later, but for now I wanted to discuss some highlights of the main conference.


The Last Guardian

Whoa. This is like the mythical beast of PS games, and I was shocked when Sony led off with it. This game is from the developers of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus (full disclosure, I’ve played neither but recognize them as great games and would like to get around to it at some point), and was announced way back in 2009. Since then, it was repeatedly delayed and I think most people pretty much gave up on it, like with so many other games – I’m looking at you, FFXV. But at E3 we got a gameplay trailer that was beautiful. It looks to be a puzzle platformer where you use the guardian to help you move through the levels. I’m definitely planning on checking it out when it’s finally released, probably 2016 at this point.


Horizon: Zero Dawn

Holy crap. This is a new announcement, and it looks freaking amazing. The graphics are stunning, and the gameplay looked really unique. It seemed to be some kind of post apocalyptic RPG, where you are tasked with slaying giant motorized dinosaurs. The demo included killing some smaller enemies, but culminated in a long battle against a huge one, where the main character used a variety of weapons including electric arrows and ropes to hit the dino’s weak spots. It pretty much looked glorious and I definitely am going to be following this. Finally something different than generic shooters and traditional RPGs.


FFVII Remake

Ok, this sent the internet into a complete tizzy. I played FFVII pretty extensively when I was in high school. I never beat it, but I played until basically the end of the second disc, and the third disc is just the final boss battle. I explored the game to collect special items, optional party members, etc, so I feel like I had a pretty good feel for the game. And I love Final Fantasy, so I’m really excited about this. It will allow a new generation of gamers to experience it. I’ve seen a lot of feedback that people are going to be disappointed because it’ll never live up to the hype, but I disagree. In all honesty, I didn’t fully enjoy playing the original… because the graphics are so bad. I appreciate that they were revolutionary for their time, and that it has cultural significance, but it just was so clunky. So I don’t want it to be exactly the same. I’m not a diehard, so I just want a playable version with the important bits from the original.


Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

I love Uncharted. I think they are great games with an awesome story that are enjoyable to play. I think the dialogue is witty and often hilarious, and I seriously played the Vita version multiple times to pass the hardest difficulty for the platinum. We already knew this game was coming, but it was nice to see more. The demo was pretty funny, they obviously had a few technical issues that caused them to totally reset what was supposed to be their big finale. But I’ll be glad to see Nathan and Sully again soon.

What was your favorite part of E3 2015?



, , ,

Mturk stands for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which is something I’ve just recently discovered. I’ve talked a bit about how I’m at home for the summer, and during that time I’ve been looking for ways to make some extra money. I don’t quite want to pursue an actual part time job, because I’m enjoying the free time to pursue my hobbies, but it would definitely be nice to have some extra money saved in our house downpayment fund. So I’ve picked up some odd jobs here and there like babysitting and yard work for a family friend, but I also wanted something I could do online from home, preferably in my pajamas while watching Netflix.

This is where Mturk comes in. Amazon’s Mturk is a site that allows you to sign up and perform microtasks for various requesters on the site. This can be anything from answering surveys to transcribing audio to examining websites and giving feedback on the design. It is basically for things that people need feedback on that can’t be done by computers, they need real people. Some of them are really fun, I’ve even played little games with other users who are participating at the same time. Sure, they’re probably studying our actions, but why not do something cool for money?

Most HITs (as they call the tasks) pay under a dollar, and the tricky part is knowing who is trying to rip you off, and which ones are worth completing. I mean you might see a task that pays $10.00 (especially the transcription ones!), but if it takes you 4 hours, not worth it. I pretty much stick to the ones that are at least 50 cents, and take 5-10 minutes. You should always calculate what your hourly pay would be to make sure you’re not getting a raw deal. But really, it adds up fast. I’ve been doing it since the beginning of the month, and earned just over $100 dollars, which isn’t bad for just an hour or two of work a day, mostly while doing other things.

And the more you do it, the more opportunities you get. You can only complete HITs you are qualified for, and some requesters put minimums on there. So for example, you have to have a certain level of approval rating – mostly 95+, which means that the ones you submit have to be accepted by the requester. So if you just fly through it and click a bunch of random stuff, you likely will fail one of the attention checks and get rejected. Other requesters want you to have a minimum of approved HITs, so once I hit 100 approved submissions some more opportunities opened up. Additionally, sometimes requesters will contact you by email to invite you to further surveys if you do a good job. You can even get bonus money from doing well!

Since it’s through Amazon, the whole thing is very secure and reliable. I haven’t done it yet, but supposedly you can just transfer the money directly to your bank account, as long as you have been a member for 10+ days. At first you’re limited to 100 submissions a day until you pass that trial period, but I never got anywhere near that limit. It really is a great program, check it out!

Video Game Review: Valiant Hearts – The Great War


, , , , , , ,



Title: Valiant Hearts – The Great War

Platform: PS4

Personal Trophy Completion: 100%

Rating: 7/10

This was definitely the most unique game I’ve played in a while, not to mention the most educational. This game takes place during World War 1, and switches between the stories of several characters who are participating in the war and relief effort, on multiple sides. I really didn’t have too much knowledge about WWI beyond the basic American History education stuff, but this game provides journal entries, artifacts, and historical fact sheets that really painted a picture of what it was like. There were fact sheets about everything from certain battles to the fact that to protect against the chlorine in some of the gases, men wore urine soaked handkerchiefs over their faces. That’s for sure something I never would’ve known.

The gameplay is really creative, it’s essentially a 2D scrolling game, where you have to solve puzzles to proceed. Each character has their own set of tools and talents, one has a shovel to dig, one has wire cutters, and there’s even a dog named Walt who can carry things and crawl into spaces you can’t reach to pull levers. The puzzles are satisfying and tricky, some require just the right angle or timing, but non of them were experience ruining hard. And the music is PHENOMENAL. It’s classic and moody and perfectly matches the tone of the scenes. There are also a lot of stealth sections that are very well done (coming from someone who hates stealth), at once point you’re carrying a scarecrow and stopping to duck behind it whenever the search lights come near!

Trophy wise, the majority are story completion and collectibles. While the collectibles were really interesting, I felt there were a few too many and the acquisition took a bit away from the storyline. The other notable trophies are skill based which was a nice change of pace, one was for completing a vehicle section without damage – something I’m normally TERRIBLE at but enjoyed here, and the other for perfectly completing a rhythm based “healing” section. That was a bit more challenging, but I still managed without wanting to tear my hair out.

This is a neat little game, and if you can get it for free or cheap like I did, definitely give it a shot – but only if you can handle the tearjerker of an ending.

Book Review: The Matched Series


, , , , ,


Title: Matched, Crossed, and Reached

Author: Ally Condie

Length: 416, 416, 528 pages

Format: Kindle eBook for the first two, library hardcover for the last

Rating: 9/10

This is the first series I’ve read in a long time, and I really really enjoyed it. I have a soft spot for teen/YA novels, and this was no exception. Though it was a little embarrassing looking through the Teen Space section of the library in order to find the third one, as it was too expensive on Kindle to justify. It reminded me a bit of The Giver or Divergent, both series about teenagers living in a “perfect” society where their every move is controlled and most of life is extremely planned out and ritualistic. Eventually the kid realizes that there is more to life than what society has provided, and has some kind of a rebellion. The formula might be the same, but the details are very different and I generally enjoy them.

This book is about a girl, Cassia, and begins on the eve of her “Match Banquet”. In this society, you are matched with a person at age 17 which the officials have deemed to be your perfect partner. You then have a series of meetings ending at your Contract, or marriage, at age 21, and by age 24 you begin having children. These guidelines are very strict, and deviation could cause you to lose your Match and become a Single forever, or worse, become an Aberration and be ostracized from society. Cassia goes to her banquet and becomes matched with Xander, her childhood best friend. This is extremely unusual, because it is unlikely for one’s Match to reside in the same city, much less be a friend. Nevertheless, Cassia is excited, until she gets home and reviews the data about her Match. Xander’s face shows up at first, but then for a second, another face shows up, another friend in the city named Ky. Cassia is left to wonder if Society has made a mistake, and if so, who is really meant to be her Match? Eventually she finds out that Ky is an Aberration, and was never meant to be in the pool of Matches at all. If that’s true, how did the mistake happen, and who put him there? She wrestles with these questions as she begins to commit more and more forms of small rebellion.

Another detail of their society is that in order to avoid excess, all forms of art have been cut down to 100 of each, and no one is allowed to create more. They no longer even know how to write, or sing, or draw. So for example, there are only 100 books, paintings, poems, songs, etc that were chosen at the beginning of the creation of Society, as they were judged to be the most important of their category. Cassia eventually begins to find that there is an underground trading going on of people who still have saved pieces of artistic works from before, and it is then that she starts to hear rumors of an Uprising, which knowledge of could put her in danger.

As she begins to learn more, she questions the purpose of the 3 tablets everyone in society must carry. They are told by Officials that the green one is for calming, the blue one is to keep you healthy if you lose access to food and water, and the red one is unknown but you are only to take it when an Official tells you to. In the second two books, as she seeks to join the Uprising and take down Society, she learns a lot of secrets along the way. There is of course a love triangle going on between her, Xander, and Ky, and a lot of good characters are met along the way.

The story is engaging, well written, and kept my interest. I read the entire series in a matter of days, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of story.



, , , , ,

It’s finally summer. This has been my first year as a teacher with a traditional schedule (previously I taught in a year round program), and I still can’t quite believe that someone allowed me to have a job where I have nine weeks of freedom stretching out before me, during which I still get my regular pay. It is going to be fabulous. I have to say though, teachers definitely deserve it. The job can be incredibly stressful, and depending on your group of kids, absolutely exhausting. I teach a Head Start program in a very troubled and low income school district, and even at preschool age these kids have a lot of challenges. They have a lot of funny, sweet, endearing moments as well, but dealing with behaviors and trying to get uninterested parents to be involved can be challenging. Not to mention the paperwork, which is extensive. Public school teachers also have the aspect of dealing with curriculum that is pushing more and more towards a test instead of general learning. So I definitely feel that teachers deserve the time they have off, especially as we get paid fairly little considering we are educating the future.

I considered getting a job for the summer, but between planned vacations and a few scattered professional development days, I don’t really have a solid stretch of time to dedicate to working. So ultimately I decided against it, though I do have a couple of things lined up to make a bit of money, and am open for babysitting on occasion. I’m also planning to look into ways that I can make a little bit of money from home while I have the time, but mostly I’m just going to relax and enjoy it. I’m planning out a lot of free activities I can do, because my greatest worry is that I’ll end up spending more money while at home than I did during the school year. So far, I plan to go to the gym, the pool, the amusement park, the library, and spend time at home keeping up with the chores, reading, watching Netflix, and playing video games. I’ll also probably spend more time with family than I usually am able to. All of those places are either free or we have season passes for. I’m hoping to mostly get in better shape and catch up on my gaming!

This should lead to more blogging as well. If anyone has any ideas about making money at home or free summer activities, let me know!

Book Review: The Memory Thief


, , ,


Title: The Memory Thief

Author: Don Donaldson (worst name ever?)

Length: 238 pages

Format: Kindle eBook

Rating: 8/10

Finally, a really good book! I love creepy suspense books, and perhaps the creepiest setting of all is a mental hospital. Serial killers, deranged doctors, creepy underground tunnels, secret experiments, even a hint of romance, this book has it all. Its only fault was being fairly short, I blew through it really quickly and it definitely could’ve spent more time building the story and lengthening the plot. But even so, I really enjoyed it.

The premise is this: a young psychologist named Marti takes a position in a rural mental hospital. She is hoping to get the serial killer Odessa as her patient, for reasons unknown. This story is really hard to summarize without giving anything away, but I’ll try. She moves into a nearby cottage owned by a local professor-slash-volunteer-firefighter, and a romance begins to blossom. But she is distracted by her plots against Odessa, who killed her little sister many years ago. That seems like a spoiler, but you literally find out in the first chapter so I think it’s alright. Anyway, as Marti tries to figure out how to get revenge, or at least get Odessa the death penalty, strange things start happening. She finds herself having a significant memory gap, and she eventually discovers that the same thing happened to a few other patients. Now she must figure out who is behind it and how to stop it! The ending of this book is absolutely awesome, it totally ramps up the suspense and anxiety as you put the pieces together just slightly faster than Marti and are rooting for the characters to figure it out before it’s too late. It has gore, it has drama, and most importantly it has a satisfying ending. The worst thing ever is when a suspense novel has a frustrating ending.

Speaking of the ending, this one had one significant loose end. It was done in a way that you could kind of assume what the ‘extended’ ending would be, even though it wasn’t actually written. Because it was done this way, it is open for a potential sequel, but I could not find any information about one. Overall, the book was really well done, the plot twists were logical but not obvious, and it left lots of mystery up until the end. It was also quick paced, there wasn’t much waiting around for Marti to finally accomplish something. Definitely read it!