Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 13:15 on 09-04-2013, Arthur B
I can tell you that the radical left in London, at least, has exploded at the news, and while I can see where people are coming from, I'm just not feeling it - and some of the more gleeful reactions make me a bit queasy.

It's just completely nonsensical. Thatcher lived to a ripe old age and died whilst staying at the most luxurious hotel in London. Where, exactly, is the space for schadenfreude there?
at 12:24 on 09-04-2013, Axiomatic
I just keep hearing people on the net say she was a "great" person, and they always use that precise term. Great.

I keep thinking the wave that hit Fukushima was great, too.
at 12:16 on 09-04-2013, Andy G
It's long been portrayed as a day that her enemies would celebrate, but in fact it's been more of a heyday for her supporters because they get a chance to moralise about people celebrating her death and to mythologise her and her legacy. I haven't switched on the news since it happened. My Facebook feed is bad enough. I think the most common phrase I'm reading is: "Regardless of what you think of her politics, you have to agree she was a great/principled/admirable person" (and if you disagree, all hell breaks loose). Still, I expect it's going to be nothing compared to what will happen when the Queen dies.
at 12:15 on 09-04-2013, Robinson L
Coming from the US, I'm in a similar position to Arthur in that I was never personally affected by Thatcher's rule, and neither, to my knowledge, was anyone I'm close to. I'm firmly against her politics, but I don't see that her death has any serious political ramifications at this point.

the wall-to-wall media coverage is bloody tedious.

Tell me about it. I'm also given to understand there's already a propaganda war raging over how she'll be remembered, which I find understandable but also quite tiresome.

I can tell you that the radical left in London, at least, has exploded at the news, and while I can see where people are coming from, I'm just not feeling it - and some of the more gleeful reactions make me a bit queasy. As Arthur says, maybe I'd feel differently if I was from a Yorkshire mining family, or from the Falklands - but on the other hand, I don't see how having empathy and solidarity for Thatcher's victims precludes my having empathy for Thatcher, too. (I'm actually in the midst of a running argument on this topic with one of my friends, sigh.)

All of which said, I've seen some suggestions that her state funeral should be privatized, and I would dearly like to see that happen.
at 10:19 on 09-04-2013, Arthur B
Admittedly my family wasn't utterly disrupted from top to bottom during her time in office, which puts me in a privileged position in this respect. (In fact, she had several big fans on my Dad's side of the family; when Geoffrey Howe made his resignation speech which prompted her downfall my gran sent him 30 pieces of silver.) So, obvious caveat is that I might have felt differently had I been the son of a Yorkshire mining family.

On balance, I'm with Dan on this one. I don't like the direction the country went under her leadership, but that was several political generations ago and her death isn't going to meaningfully change the political trajectory we're on right now. I also think people who are declaring they're going to throw a party to celebrate her death are being spectacularly crass, and in a way which only gives the right ammunition. There's been this really ugly tendency in some loudmouthed quarters to look forward to her death (see Margaret On the Guillotine, see Tramp the Dirt Down) and whilst I get that she did have a genuinely devastating effect on a lot of people's lives, the same is true of a great many other PMs who didn't inspire a death cult.

That said, the wall-to-wall media coverage is bloody tedious.
at 08:49 on 09-04-2013, Dan H
At the risk of making a totally inappropriate comparison, I feel much the same way I did when Osama bin Laden was killed. Which is to say, entirely neutral.

Thatcher did some pretty awful things to this country, but her death won't change that.
at 06:43 on 09-04-2013, Adrienne
So i hadn't seen any news all day, meaning i just now noticed about Thatcher being dead. Thoughts from the UK contingent? It seems a momentous thing.
at 00:05 on 09-04-2013, Melissa G.
I watched some of those. They're pretty fun. Nothing special, but entertaining.
at 15:15 on 08-04-2013, Shimmin
ZOMG there is a series of films about a secret order of librarians! WANT.
at 13:59 on 07-04-2013, Shimmin
Lost in Witcher. Send mutagens.
at 10:30 on 05-04-2013, Robinson L
Getting back to "Oz, the Great and Terrible Powerful Terrible" for a minute, I'm mostly in agreement with this article, except that it makes the plot sound a lot more competent and suspenseful than it actually was, and didn't really do justice to how thoroughly unlikable the protagonist was.
at 19:21 on 04-04-2013, Melissa G.
We ended up buying a bunch of multiple business card holders and things of that nature (little cups for random little items) to try and keep things more organized during the set up and during game play. It saved us a ton of room and makes everything more organized and easier to find.
at 18:15 on 04-04-2013, Robinson L
My siblings and I have played Battlestar Galactica a couple of times - the main problem being that it takes so bloody long. Even just the set up can take a while, especially if you haven't played it in a while (say, because you haven't had the time) and need to remind yourself of the details of how the game works. Can be pretty fun though, once it gets going. It helps if you have a group of players who can really get into the spirit of the game.

Melissa: I really like co-op games because I can get too competitive and it's much more fun for me to work with other people toward a common goal than to try and beat them.

Me too (well, except for the getting too competitive part. I think). Another reason I got into Battlestar Galactica was the co-op element (unless you wind up playing a Cylon or a sympathizer). I got another one that I was really keen on at one point - until we got it out to play the first time and realized it was full of racefail.

Recently got introduced to Arkham Horror and had a lot of fun. I think I might have another go at co-op board games when I go back home after school wraps up ...
at 16:14 on 03-04-2013, Arthur B
My favourite Secret Traitor game is Betrayal at the House On the Hill because in the early phase of the game nobody knows who the traitor is, how they're expected to beat the traitor, or even if there is one. (The winning conditions are revealed partway through play.) Consequently you can't really aggressively optimise the early part of the game and you just spend it strolling through this haunted house as your fancy takes you, hoping you can pick up more bonuses than penalties before the haunting kicks in...
at 15:46 on 03-04-2013, Jules V.O.
I'll second Ghost Stories as a lot of co-op fun; four immortal priests exorcising the most haunted village in China is an awesome concept. I'll add Space Alert, which is hilarious and basically space battles in the Idiocracy timeline. I'll also mention Battlestar Galactica as an almost co-op game that is very excellent; like Shadows Over Camelot, there's a secret traitor - but even they may not know it.
at 00:33 on 03-04-2013, Melissa G.
*scribbles notes furiously*

Thanks for all the game recs!


I really like co-op games because I can get too competitive and it's much more fun for me to work with other people toward a common goal than to try and beat them. We actually did pick up Forbidden Island! It's really difficult to win though!
at 21:53 on 02-04-2013, Ibmiller
I am super curious about Risk: Legacy. Like, who are you guys planning to play it with?
at 21:53 on 02-04-2013, Shimmin
I'm actually in a board & card club that meets monthly. I tend to prefer stuff that isn't traditionally competitive (arguably, because I'm terrible at games). So things I find fun include Touch of Evil, Ghost Stories, Middle Earth Quest, Arkham Horror, and the surprisingly entertaining Forbidden Island, which at least three generations of the family have had a blast with.

Other repeately fun things include Thurn and Taxis, yes Dominion, Ticket to Ride, or Race for the Galaxy, all of which I enjoy despite never winning ever.

On the other hand, old hands may remember my review of Wizardology. A few of us tried the first D&D 4E boardgame and found it a bit... well, odd, I think? and somewhat unsatisfying. And I still haven't finished building Dreadfleet...
at 19:39 on 02-04-2013, Danielle
My friends and I had a lot of fun with Lords of Waterdeep around New Year's Eve. Who doesn't want to play a backstabbing faction in a seedy fantasy crime city?
at 18:08 on 02-04-2013, Dan H
Kyra and I have just been on a games shopping binge, and have now picked up Risk Legacy (like Risk, but every game you play affects every game you will play in the future, and there are envelopes you only open when certain things happen in game, and things in those envelopes actually change the rules and stuff - it sounds seriously awesome if you have a regular group).

We also just got Spartacus: a Game of Blood and Treachery, which is surprisingly good fun for a game based on a TV series.

Other things to look into. Dominion is pretty cool if you like cards, Puerto Rico is generally regarded as a classic for good reason. Betrayal at the House on the Hill is excellent not so much as a competitive game but as a haunted house simulator. Space Alert is brilliant but out of print, and is cooperative if you're into that. I also highly recommend Dixit.

If you fancy something longer and more involved Middle Earth Quest does a really good job of making you feel like you're in Lord of the Rings. Runebound is a nice go-to if you like blatting monsters in a fantasy setting and don't mind it taking quite a long time. If you want a full on dungeon crawl Descent has just come out in a new edition.
at 17:28 on 02-04-2013, Jules V.O.
I work at a boardgame store, so they're work and play to me. Love 'em. My personal tastes run to big sprawly hours-long games.
at 09:44 on 02-04-2013, Arthur B
Dan and Kyra got me the Conan version of Munchkin for Christmas.

It's like the ordinary version of Munchkin, except a startling proportion of the monsters boil down to "scary black guy" or "evil Jew".
at 04:18 on 02-04-2013, Ibmiller
Love board games - haven't played a lot, recently, because of work and school, but I love the board game version of Civiliation (new version and old, though new is more interseting to me, since old one is basically just Risk with tons more rules and pieces), Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, the various Risk variations, and Power Grid. I also like some related type card games - Munchkin, Dominion, etc.
at 02:34 on 02-04-2013, Melissa G.
So I've gotten into playing board games recently, and it's really fun. Does anyone else play board games? I've been playing things like Arkham Horror, Shadows Over Camelot, Pandemic, and things of that nature.