Archive for June, 2009


Where has all the good music gone?

Today I opened up iTunes and noticed in the store new albums by…drumroll…The Lemonheads and Dinosaur Jr.  Excuse me?  This week alone there are also new releases by Modest Mouse, Moby, Queen Latifah, Widespread Panic (kid you not), Tonic and Third Eye Blind.

Is the new music of today not resonating with folks?  Has it lost a bit of its soul?  Is there a resurgence in retro music?  Is the passion and power of grunge and post-grunge making a comeback?  This list of artists could have been written in 1993.  Seriously, look it up.

It made me want to download “Unbelievable” off of Schubert Dip by EMF.  Now that was a cool song.

Side note: DCB just released their cover of “How He Loves Us” from their upcoming CD “Church Music” as a single.  I’m really looking forward to the new CD.  Matt Redman also released a single this week called “This is How We Know.”  Knowing that there are songwriters anointed like Matt still writing for the church continues to give me hope for the future of corporate worship.


Cities and Knights House Rules

Okay, I really don’t know why it has taken me so long to post something (anything really) about Settlers of Catan seeing as how we’re totally into this incredible board game.  For those of you who know nothing about Settlers this post is going to be confusing to you, so I suggest a two step resolution to your lack: Step 1: go to either Hobby Lobby or It’s Your Move in the mall and buy the basic version of the game as soon as you possibly can and Step 2: get 2 or 3 of your friends together immediately and learn the game.  If a step 3 exists it might be 12 additional ones because you had to join a program for breaking your obsession with this game.  🙂


Okay now for all you Catanians out there who not only have mastered the basic game but have advanced past the Seafarers expansion and now have discovered the wonderful world of Cities and Knights:


You may have noticed that the game is a bit slow, and it bogs down some.  Turns take a really long time, and if you are playing with 6 people you might be in for a seriously long night.  For guys that’s cool, but if you have some gals along for the ride (including wives), maybe you will really appreciate the house rules we play with on a regular basis.  I give props to Kirby Thompson for most of these rule modifications.

Here is the best Settlers scenario and the one we play 90% of the time:

1. 5-6 player Cities and Knights expansion (you need that extra building phase!)

2. Combined with Seafarers expansion

3. House rules

4. Only 5 players (we just somehow figured out that odd numbers of players make the best games)

5. Build custom boards/scenarios

This combo makes for a rocking good time.  Here’s the house rules:

#1. In normal C&K you get a 1 commodity & 1 resource when a city produces – new rule: take the 2 resources you’d get for a city in regular Catan and ALSO take the 1 commodity when your city produces.  (YESSSSSS!  This is amazing.  The first time you do it you’ll think we’re crazy, but trust me, when you all can build faster and progress early in the game you’ll be super stoked.)  This means that when wheat and brick produce, you get 3 of those (since there is no associated commodity).  To be clear, if you hypothetically had a city on all 3 corners of a hex that produced you would gain 9 total cards in one shot.

#2. Change the 7 card rule to 9 (the benefit of this is that you can hold more cards and not get slammed by the 7 roll as much i.e. get rid of half your cards if you have more than 7 – yes if you build all 3 city walls you are now protected up to 15 cards!)

#3. We never count a roll of 7 by the very first player rolling in the game.  (They get a “do over.”  Rolling a 7 right out of the gate is lame and allowing this do over builds morale.)

#4. The first time the barbarians attack doesn’t count (allows people to build roads, cities, etc. without having to concentrate on building knights early in the game)

Two more things that are not house rules but may help add to the fun:

#1. Play with the Harbormaster card from the Traders & Barbarians expansion and you will add more ways to win  – make sure you add that extra point required for victory though (i.e. victory is now achieved at 16 points).

#2. Set up your own scenario: this is optional but very, very fun and how we play almost every time now.  We build crazy big boards.  A suggestion if you want to try the multi-expansion thing is to do “Through the Desert” scenario as set up in the 5-6 Seafarers expansion and combine with C&K.  That one is particularly awesome in the radical combo action.

Bonus comment: Don’t let anyone get away with not following the rule that longest trade route must have ships and roads linked by a settlement (or city).  This is important and has thwarted many a possible win.

Now if you think these rules somehow cheapen the game, all I’ll say is try it.  I’ve heard people say that C&K is a bad expansion but that may only be because they don’t play with these house rules.  We played regular rules C&K several times before we discovered these modifications, and while the game was quite intense, it wasn’t as good of a social game anymore. That said, do these house rules, combine with Seafarers, play with 5 people, and trust me, it’s extremely cutthroat. The game still averages 90 minutes but we have had game as short as an hour, and just 2 days ago we had a game last 2 1/2 hours.  To be fair, we had added in the rivers expansion as well as Seafarers and C&K.  See pic below, snapped just as we were tearing down the game.

Have fun!

catan setup


Mando Power

This week we have been experimenting in the studio.  And in the words of Bruce Dickenson, yes the Bruce Dickenson “exploring the studio space.”  In the course of things I found myself with a mandolin in my hands cutting some tracks for a tune of Julian’s.  This one’s for you Ted.

mando power


June 2009

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