Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011: A Look Back

I haven't written nearly anywhere as much as I would have enjoyed last year. This was due in no small part to working many hours and being too tired to put much effort into anything outside of trying not to get buried in laundry and spending money on games I don't get to play because I'm at work.

In terms of gaming, it was also a brutal year. With so many mandatory Saturdays, my game groups decesion to play on Friday meant I essentially had to drop out. Not that any other day of the week would've mattered mind you. When your normal start time is 6:30 AM and you're awake at 5:00 AM and then on OT it's 4:30 AM and awake at 3:00 AM, well, gaming past ten just isn't sensible. While I'm pretty terrible at keeping my weight down, my sleep is very important to me.

One of the things I'm going to strive to work on in the new year is gaming more. It's great to have a Pathfinder subscription, and to have numerous books in the line that I enjoy, but I'm getting to the point where my backlog of Pathfinder specific material that I haven't used is so large that if I'm not going to start playing, I might as well stop.

Speaking of stopping, when one of my friends finished his 4e campaign because his own job became a little too time intensive to run, that was pretty much when I stopped buying 4e gaming products. I hadn't renewed my subscription to the DDI sent the character builder went online only and to be honest, while it seems there have been some great articles that have come out of the online DDI, the fact that WoTC can't seem to hit the regulars, the things that should be in many issues of Dragon on a monthly basis, says to me it's not a magazine I need to subscribe to. When the Dragon's Bestiary, Bizzaare of the Bazzar, Pages From The Mages, Legends and Lore, and other features start making monthly come backs as opposed to being a preview magazine, then I might renew.

And it's not that I don't enjoy 4e. It has a lot of things going for it. I just find that Pathfinder is more fun to read and support because, and I've mentioned this before, extensive setting support, wide body support (the various classic revisited), and adventure support. 4e has done a piss poor job of supporting adventurers in print. While both Pathfinder and 4e bite the big one in terms of wide body support for Epic play, at least with Pathfinder I'm not feeling that the book old beastiary books are completely ignoring it, unlike 4e's last monster book. It wasn't that the last book was poorly written or anything, it just didn't feature enough of the material I wanted in favor of capping out at 20th or so level.

Miniature wise, I cut back a lot. I didn't stop or anything mind you. Gen Con alone saw many dollars spent on new figure acquisition. However, I didn't do my usually auction stops, e-bay trolling or other such venues. I'm still buying supplies like green stuff, primer, and brushes, but figures have cooled. I still have a lot of stuff to paint up and I'm going to try and catch up on some of that.

Book wise, I bought my mom a Kindle Fire for X-Mas and she loves it. Because she does most of her reading indoors the screen doesn't bother her. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. With its brightly lit white bright, she can read easier and has done so by devouring numerous books already. A worthy purchase in this case. Add in I'm an Amazon Prime member and she gets to watch videoes for free and that I have a decent collection of music in Amazon's cloud, and well, she is one happy camper. I've continued to support the low end cost books on the Kindle where I can because I want to support a price that I find acceptable. It may mean some weird odds and ends in my collection but I'll take that particular hit to show support for one price point and disdain for another.

Thanks to some great sales, I also have a lot of reading material to get me well through into 2012. When Lamentations of the Flame Princes did their sale, I bought quite a haul. I haven't read any of it yet. Between work and trying to stay informed on the politics, as 2012 is going to be a very interesting year for that, my time to read gaming material that I'm not actively using has sunk massively.

And friends? Ugh. I hate to say that my only friends are gamers, because I hang with some people at work that could care less about gaming, but my older friends, the ones from high school, yeah, mainly we hang out to game, go to movies, and things of that nature. Work and my inability to work 60+ hours a week and still go out at night pretty much killed those things too. But to be honest, they haven't put a lot of effort into keeping me in the loop either so I'm okay with that situation as it stands. Still, in 2012, I would like to do more with my amigos. A lot of my hobbies like painting miniatures, reading, sketching, etc... are pretty internal so I'm not dying to go hang and my work buddies love to drink, but gaming. Again it gets back to gaming. Need to do some more of that.

In terms of what I've been reading, right now I'm into Mel's trilogy of the deep bit set in the Forgotten Realms. Its a good read so far and I plan on doing some posts on it in the near future. I'm also still in the middle of Doom of Camelot. Historical wise, I'm hitting the War on the Barbary Pirates. It's a great look at how a war can have some easy victories and have some horrid losses. It showcases the short sighted nature of government at all points in history, as well as the effects of one man's gross incompetence on a navy as well as various valient heroes. I've also been fascinated by Mexico.

Back in the day, I used to run a lot of Champions. In my games, Mexico and Columbia used to be big drug running companies that would use drugs to create short term bricks that would die out after using the enchancements. The cartels would use either a lot of money, women, or awesome lifestyles to get young stupid people to do it, or threaten families to get more honest people to do it. My image of Mexican 'thug life', if anything, was far too modest.

Cartels have built their own tunnels into America. They use high-tech equipment to make their own communication network. They have access to military grade hardware. And they are killers.

While this makes for a terrible living experience down south, and I know first hand as I have friends who still go and visit and give me some horror stories, it makes some fantastic gaming material. I'll ping that idea later.

In terms of personal health, 2012 is going to be interesting. My company stopped offering the HMO option. While expensive as hell, the few times I've needed it, like when I broke my toe or had major back pain a few years ago, proved its value. Now with a PPO whose coverage isn't anywhere near as impressive, I will be holding my doctors to a much higher standard. When I broke my toe, I was sent to a hospital. They billed my insurance something like $2 grand. And here's the funny part. They did nothing.

I was sent with the assurance that I would be seen right away because they called a specialist. I get there and hey, no specialist. So I have to wait. With a dislocated broken toe. And after the nurse gets my vitals, no pain killers or even ice. So after about four hours of that, I ask for some pain killers or ice. I get the ice. When they do see me, I'm out in the hallway and they think I'm some other hillbilly who broke his big toe in the shed as opposed to the third toe. I make a crack that I'm glad I'm not having a heart attack and the doctor cracks back that if it was my pinkie they'd just cut it off and send me on my way.

Well, they give me one 10 mg vicadine and procedue to pull the toe back into place. Only X-Rays show it doesn't take because it comes out again cause the muslces are torn. So geniuses there bandage it up and send me on my way.

When I see the specialists, he notes that there is nothing he can do because it's already healed. Mind you, the first time I see him, he does a detailed examination of the foot, noting that I have empire amount of arthritis build up in my big toe on the same foot. So more pain killers. When I see him a month later, he doesn't even want to see the foot. He asks how I'm feeling. When I reply fine, he sends me on my way. In 2012, if I have to drive an hour out, wait a half hour in the office, and then have to drive another hour back? Yeah, I won't be paying for a two-minute doctor appointment. In 2012, doctors will have to earn that cash.

Music wise, I think my favorite 'discovered' group for me, would probably be the Vaccines followed by Cults. There are some other groups I'm enjoying but those are ones I found last year like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, the National, Interpol, and She Wants Revenge. If there are any groups of a similiar style, hit me up in the comments.

Anyway, I hope 2012 treats everyone better than 2011 did, even if you had a great year. Now let's get this year long party started!