Odin’s Ravens

Adam and I play a lot of board games. They’re our “go to” activity for date nights. After a long spree of “Roll Through the Ages” and “St. Petersburg”, I was finally up for a new game. Adam has been trying to talk me into Odin’s Ravens for well over a year now. It was marketed as a good two-person games.

Fun two person games are actually harder to come by than you might think. There are classic games like Chess and Go. But most of the builder-games I most enjoy work best for 3 – 4 people. Games that are meant for 3 – 4 people may claim that they work for 2, but rarely do — which is why we enjoyed RTTA and St. Pete’s so much.

The conceit of Odin’s Ravens is good — you’re two of Odin’s, er, ravens, trying to traverse the landscape of the North quickly. To accomplish this, you mess with your competitor, line up your travel route, play some politics on the side and put down a cache of cards to be used later. When one person has accumulated 12 points (12 spots ahead of the other person) the game ends.

The artwork was really lovely. The rules were clear and simple. Simple enough, actually, that we’re thinking about modifying it for Grey. If we stripped it down a little further, he could get it.

But if you have two relatively evenly matched players (which my husband and I usually are), you tend to have close races. And close races means no one gets many more points than the other. So a game that was billed as a 30 minute match took us closer to an hour and a half. I have to admit that, towards the end, I was getting a bit bored. There just weren’t infinite possible strategies, like some other games seem to have.

Odin’s Ravens seems like a good intro game — the sort you play with a younger player, or someone who is unused to board games and needs to be coaxed into the fold. Unless we both totally missed a strategic element, it’s probably not the board game for a pair of hardcore players.

The Best Team Won

Thane discovers the leaves
Thane discovers the leaves

I had one of those weekends that should’ve been awesome. Saturday we drove to New Hampshire, as planned, to the Fall Festival at the Shaker Museum. We did have fun, but it was about 15 degrees colder (and windy!) than it had been at home. The Festival was rather smaller than I expected. Our tour guide seemed to have a highly unsympathetic view of the Shakers, and spent most of the time on various scandals within the order instead of the cool things about it. Still, there were great points. Grey spun a piece of yarn from wool he helped card. Thane danced to a live band singing “Mountain Dew” (yet another sign that Shaker influence had, er, waned). Grey and daddy rolled down a tall hill they climbed together. Thane investigated bright autumn leaves. The wild apple cider was tart and brilliant.

Grey climbed and rolled down the hill behind us
Grey climbed and rolled down the hill behind us

Then to the State Park. All I can say about that is apparently “closing the weekend of Columbus Day” means closing BEFORE the weekend, not after it’s done. No poking sticks into a fire for us.

Grey didn’t vomit Sunday at church, and we were given some awesome beef barley stew. (I kept saying that I’d gotten pregnant just for the care packages. I didn’t even have to get knocked up this time!) I even found some time to sit on the couch and watch the Red Sox vs. the Angels while Adam played baseball in the backyard with our eldest. I watched the Sox come within one strike of getting to game four… twice. I watched Papelbon give up his first post-season hit, and do his first postseason blown save to end the Red Sox year. Next year, it’s entirely possible that there will be only one man left from that miracle bunch of idiots in 2004: our own Greek God of Walks. But some of the players suffered who may leave have been my favorites: Jason Varitek. David Ortiz. Tim Wakefield (who’s been playing for the Sox since I was in high school) can hardly walk. Maybe Mike Lowell? Getting swept sucked, and it’s a long way until March.

Then I made dinner, which turned out ok, and bread pudding, which turned out ok. Followed by bills, which turned out ok.

Monday, I took a vacation day. Grey’s preschool was closed. Adam was off work. I packed us into the car for the second time this weekend to Experience Autumn on a bright, brisk day. We went to Honeypot Farms in Stowe. It was a zoo. You were hemmed in at every corner, denuded of your cash and caught in a crush of crowds. I don’t know how else they could’ve managed the hordes that had descended, but it was much less bucolic reconnecting with nature and much more standing-in-line. Plus, we hadn’t brought a singe Thane-conveyance-device so we had to carry him the entire time. But. Yet. The skies were brilliant blue. We ate Empire apples picked with our own hands in the shade of the trees which had borne them. We had cider donuts crisp from the cooking. Grey saw a pig for the first time. It was not without consolation.

Both Thane and Grey love apples
Both Thane and Grey love apples

When we came home, I’d had dinner cooking, so I let Adam (who was feeling run down) veg while I took the boys to the park. They were FANTASTIC. Grey played wonderful imaginary games with other kids and ran around and was chased by dinosaurs and swam in the imaginary ocean. But on the way home, he refused to come. When I insisted it was time to go home, he pitched one of his most epic fits to date. I actually had to call daddy to please come rescue me and carry him home. I put him to bed without dinner because I couldn’t get him to stop swinging at me. I’m quite sure he was tired past bearing and hungry – those were my fault. But it devolved so fast, I didn’t see it coming. You always wonder, thinking back, how you could’ve used humor or something and made it work out. He was so wonderful and then he was such a stinker.

Dinner, which I prepared with great hope ahead of time, was so-so. After the boys were in bed, I celebrated by losing at Odin’s Ravens.

After that, I realized it was my father-in-law’s birthday and called my mother-in-law to let her know I was thinking of her as she suffers through missing him.

I spent the time after that holding Thane while he screamed for 1/2 hour until either the Tylenol took or the constipation eased.

I woke up this morning to a dark, cold world.

Moments of glory, joy and memory all packed around by the dismal and drear. I suppose that’s the way life goes.