I'm going to be sad when this is no longer a sign of dorkery

It's been almost two decades since it was first released. So why is Settlers of Catan suddenly becoming so popular? (Thanks, Carrie D.!) Read the rest

Settlers of Catan portable edition

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my enthusiasm for the best-selling board game, Settlers of Catan. My family and I like Catan so much that we bought the portable edition to bring with us on our vacation to Hawaii last week.

The portable edition is much smaller than the standard edition. Above is a photo comparing the playing cards that come with the two editions.

The portable edition's board is also much smaller than the standard edition board.

One advantage of the portable edition is that the playing pieces snap into holes in the board so they won't become loose. This is great, because my 8-year-old daughter has a genetic predisposition to brush pieces off boards with a swipe of her arm at least three times per game. Also, setup is much quicker with the portable edition -- the standard edition requires piecing the gameboard together, and the flimsy cardboard pieces want to pop out of place. (They really should make the pieces out of wooden tiles!)

The disadvantage of the portable edition is that the numbers for the hexes can't be changed like they can with the Standard Edition (I know that some people have come up with neat workarounds for this, which is great). Another minor annoyance is that all the pieces fell out and got mixed up after each flight, even though the box has vacu-form plastic insert with bins to organize and hold the cards and parts.

We enjoyed using the portable edition once we arrived in Hawaii. Read the rest

Mr 3D Printing Goes to Washington: free conference for Hill rats on Apr 28

Public Knowledge -- whose white paper on the law and 3D printing is required reading -- is throwing a conference in DC for wonks, policymakers, regulators, staffers and all manner of Hill rat. The event's on April 28, and it's free:
On April 28th at 3Dâš¡DC, the 3D printing community will descend on Washington, DC to show policymakers what they are up to. Panels will introduce the 3D printing community to the DC policy community, and explore some of the policy issues that this disruptive technology will implicate. During a demonstration phase, you will be able to see this technology in action first hand, and speak one-on-one with people and companies on the cutting edge. Be the first person in your caucus, at your GS level, or on your adult kickball team to see 3D printing live
3Dâš¡DC: 3D Printing Comes to the Nation's Capitol | Public Knowledge (via Makerbot)  White paper on 3D printing and the law: the coming copyfight ... 3D printing's first copyright complaint goes away, but things are ... 3D print-shop receives an order for an ATM skimmer - Boing Boing 3D printing year-in-review - Boing Boing Is it legal to print Settlers of Catan tiles on a 3D printer ... Will 3D plans for bongs become illegal, too? - Boing Boing Read the rest

Settlers of Catan: the only other board game I can stand

Photo by Nathan Jongewaard. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

(Read my earlier post about the game Carcassonne, and my dislike of most boardgames.)

The board game Settlers of Catan has been around since 1995, and has been awarded many prizes. Over 15 million copies of Settlers of Catan and other games in the series have been sold. However, I'd never heard of the game until a couple of years ago, and didn't play it until last week. Now, I'm sorry I waited so long! I love this game.

I bought the iPad version of Settlers of Catan ($4.99) and played it with my seven-year-old daughter on Saturday. My wife was running errands, so Jane and I added a computer player to the mix. I'm glad we started with the iPad version, because the software handles the scoring and other mechanics of the game, and it was a good way to understand the rules (which are pretty simple). However, the playing board is pretty small on the iPad, and because players are supposed to keep certain cards hidden from view, there is a clunkiness to the digital version of the game. (Carcassonne, on the other hand, is wonderful on the iPad.)

The object of Catan is to be the first person to get 10 Victory Points, which are earned by building settlements and cities on an island made of 30 hexagons representing different kinds of terrain), and by acquiring certain Achievement cards. In order to build roads, settlements, and cities, players need to collect resources: bricks, ore, grain, sheep, and lumber. Read the rest

Carcassonne is the only board game I can stand

I don't like playing board games. I used to like playing them (Chess, Risk, Scrabble, Monopoly, Tactics II) but for some reason I don't understand, I became bored with them in my early 20s. So I'm surprised that I like playing Carcassonne so much. (I should make it clear that I've never actually played the physical board game of Carcassonne; I've only played the iOS version of the game on my iPad and iPhone.

I bought Carcassonne for my iPad ($9.99 and it runs on the iPhone and the iPad) over a month ago, and my wife, our seven-year-old daughter, and I play it together at least three evenings a week, and we haven't grown tired of it yet. The object of the game is to take ownership of villages, roads, and pastures that you piece together with tiles randomly drawn (the are 70 tiles in the game). The rules are simple enough that my seven-year-old caught on immediately (it helps her, and my wife and I, that the iOS version doesn't let you place a tile in a forbidden spot, and that it automatically keeps score). The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is smooth, and it has a nice guitar soundtrack that has a Pavlovian effect on us when we play it. A typical game lasts about 30 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time for a board game. It also seems to be bug free - not once has it crashed on us, which is pretty remarkable, considering most iPad games I've played crash from time to time. Read the rest

3D printed Bauhaus chess-set

TeamTeamUSA replicated the Josef Hartwig's Model I chess set (created in 1922 at Bauhaus Weimar) as a series of 3D models on Thingiverse, the community for freely reproducable 3D files. Thingiverse user Le Garage refined the models so they could be readily printed, and now anyone can output a set from a 3D printer.

Bauhaus Model I 1922 Chess Set by Le_Garage  Gran Turismo concept car built and run with help from 3D printer ... White paper on 3D printing and the law: the coming copyfight ... Is it legal to print Settlers of Catan tiles on a 3D printer ... Read the rest

Is it legal to print Settlers of Catan tiles on a 3D printer?

When a Thingiverse contributor uploaded 3D-print-ready homebrew tiles for German superboardgame Settlers of Catan, it raised a bunch of interesting legal questions. Is it illegal to make your own Settlers tiles? To download 3D files describing these tiles? To host the files? To print the files?

Now, Public Knowledge provides some legal analysis:

Let's start with copyright. Settlers of Catan is probably protected by copyright. Importantly, that protection does not cover the entirety of the game. Instead, copyright protects the design on the game tiles. This makes sense - the image on the tile (of pastures, or fields, or rocky quarries, or the like) is just a picture, and pictures are well within the scope of copyright. However, Sublime's 3D designs make no attempt to copy the images on the tiles. Copyright might also protect the shapes of the pieces, except these shapes are so generic and utilitarian (rectangles for roads, simple houses for settlements) that any protection would be extremely limited. Moreover, Sublime's pieces are generally more ornate that the official versions.

Copyright does not protect the shapes of the tiles (they are designed to fit together, and are therefore most likely "functional objects" outside of the scope of copyright). Nor does copyright protect the actual rules of Settlers of Catan. Game rules, like recipes, have a limited number of ways that they can be expressed. Copyright protects expressions, not ideas. Therefore, in order to protect the free flow of ideas, recipes and game rules are rarely protected by copyright.

Read the rest

The Settlers of Catan

If you asked people in the street to name three new books, films, TV shows or music they’ve enjoyed in the past 20 years, you’ll soon have hundreds of different answers. Ask them to name three boardgames, and you will likely only hear “Monopoly, Scrabble & Cluedo” (aka Clue)*. Not an exaggeration, most people have no idea how far boardgame design has progressed recently. Modern boardgames compare to Monopoly like a BMW compares to a Model T Ford. It’s that different.   I was shown Settlers Of Catan in 1996, just after it was first published and it changed my life**. The epitome of modern German game design, Settlers is totally engaging. You have to think, make decisions, barter, trade and influence the other players. You don’t attack people, but you can block them. You don’t get eliminated and the game takes about two hours tops. Settlers does use dice, but you win by being smart, not lucky. The ‘board’ is modular, large hex tiles, so every game is different and fresh. Read the rest

Ancient temples designed for tripping

Acoustic archaeologists are exploring how the Chavin culture in Peru may have designed underground temples to blow worshippers' minds using low-tech sound and light shows. Of course, this thread continued in cathedrals with massive stained glass windows and organs all the way to today's high-end multimedia megachurches. According to Miriam Kolar of Stanford's Center for Computer Research and Acoustics, the temple's maze of tunnels "could be physically disorienting and the acoustic environment is very different than the natural world," and might be especially freaky for folks who were tripping balls.
"The iconography (of ancient Chavin drawings) shows people mixed with animal features in altered states of being," said Kolar, who is presenting her recent work at a conference in Cancun, Mexico this week. "There is peyote and mucus trails out of the nose indicative of people using psychoactive plant substances. They were taking drugs and having a hallucinogenic experience."

If that wasn't enough, the mazes at Chavin de Huantar also include air ducts that use sunlight to produce distorted shadows of the maze's human participants. And sound waves from giant marine shells found in the maze in 2001 may have produced a frequency that actually rattled the eyeballs of those peyote-using ancients, Kolar said...

The Chavin de Huantar site in Peru isn't the only place where sound played an important role. The Mayan rulers at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan also figured out how to use sound for crowd control. David Lubman, an acoustic engineer who has spent the past 12 years studying the Mayan site, says a strange bird-like echo from the Kukulkan temple was actually constructed on purpose.

Read the rest

Gingerbread zombies inspired by Left 4 Dead 2

Found on the net, these gingerbread zombies inspired by the terrifying and brilliant new Left 4 Dead 2 game. Anyone know who made these or where they come from? Whomever it is deserves a medal, some ammo, an incendiary grenade, some boomer bile and a BFG.

Update: Maxious knows who made it!: He writes in the comments, YellowPoison and his mom on reddit did it

Previously:Left 4 Dead 2: zombie game is scarier than the original, which is ... Left 4 Dead 2 screenshots -- Offworld - Boing Boing Please release me: Left 4 an IGF onslaught - Boing Boing Recently on Offworld: Valve talks Left 4 Dead, Metroid goes metal ... Recently on Offworld: Left 4 Dead again, Catan on iPhone, One Man ... Turn zombie game into Benny Hill game - Boing Boing Boing Boing Gift Guide 2009: media! (part 2/6) - Boing Boing Read the rest

Goldwag: Cranks, Curiosities, and the Process Church

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

Charles P. Peirce's bestseller IDIOT AMERICA: HOW STUPIDITY BECAME A VIRTUE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE includes a wonderful portrait of Ignatius L. Donnelly (1831-1901), the lawyer, US Congressman, founder of a failed Utopian city, and bestselling author of three influential books: ATLANTIS: THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD (1882), which sparked the Atlantis mania that continues to this day, RAGNAROK: THE AGE OF FIRE AND GRAVEL (1883), which anticipated Immanuel Velikovsky's WORLDS IN COLLISION (1950) by more than half a century by attributing a world-wide deluge that sank Atlantis and wiped out the world's Mammoths to a near-collision with a comet (TRIVIA QUIZ: Can you guess what other pseudo-scientific classic was published in 1950? ANSWER: L. Ron Hubbard's DIANETICS), and then in 1889, THE GREAT CRYPTOGRAM, which argued that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays and scattered clues to his authorship throughout them. Pierce considers the wildly creative, fiercely productive, and swiftly-forgotten Donnelley to be one of America's great cranks. "Cranks are noble," Peirce says, "because cranks are independent. A charlatan is a crank who sells out." It's like the difference between kitsch and dreck--people who make kitsch are sincere. Cynical purveyors of political and cultural dreck like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh know better--they're in it for the money and the power and the fame. Read the rest

Update on CIA drug plane owned by “Donna Blue Aircraft, Inc”

Here's an update on the strange story of the Gulfstream II jet filled with 3.7 tons of cocaine that crashed in the Yucatan last year. The Mexico City newspaper El Universal reports that European Parliament was investigating the circumstances surrounding the plane, which had previously been used by the CIA for "extraordinary rendition" flights.
The daily said it had obtained documents from the United States and the European Parliament which "show that that plane flew several times to Guantanamo, Cuba, presumably to transfer terrorism suspects." It said the European Parliament was investigating the private Grumman Gulfstream II, registered by the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, for suspected use in CIA "rendition" flights in which prisoners are covertly transferred to a third country or US-run detention centers.

Last October, the Austin American Statesman reported the plane had previously flown to Guantanamo Bay.

Here's a Chicago Public Radio story from October 31, 2007 about the crashed CIA drug plane.

The crashed drug plane also has been linked to a Bush fundraiser.

Mad Cow Morning news has been covering stories about the CIA and drug smuggling. The plane was owned by Donna Blue Aircraft, Inc.

Mad Cow visited Donna Blue's offices and took photos of what appears to be a sham company. Here's a photo of some unmarked police cars parked in front Donna Blue Aircraft's empty suite:

Drug plane used for US rendition flights

Is this a video of the plane? (from this German website) Read the rest

Ancient Mayan underworld discovered in Mexico

Archeologists in Mexico think they might have discovered Xibalba, a mythical Mayan underworld also known as the "place of fear." After some serious scuba diving and inching across deeply submerged underwater tunnels near the Yucatan peninsula, investigators reached an entrance to a bunch of dry chambers with the stone ruins of eleven sacred temples and a 330-foot long road. There were also lots and lots of human bones. According to the ancient Mayan scripture Popol Vuh, the entrance to Xibalba was once protected by rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus, and houses swarming with shrieking bats.

Link to Reuters article Xibalba on Wikipedia (Thanks, Baker!)

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.) Read the rest

Web Zen: Sunday comics zen

farside photoshop married to the sea minimalist stick figure theatre scary bear pope alien cat and girl diesel sweeties kookie previously on web zen: more comic zen

Permalink for this edition. Web Zen is created and curated by Frank Davis, and re-posted here on Boing Boing with his kind permission. Web Zen Home and Archives, Store (Thanks Frank!) Read the rest

Amazing photos of migrating Golden Rays

The image above depicts Golden Rays in the Gulf of Mexico during their migration from Florida to the Yucatan. It's part of a marvelous larger shot taken along with several others by Sandra Critelli, an amateur photog who was on a whale shark expedition. From The Telegraph:
"It was an unreal image, very difficult to describe. The surface of the water was covered by warm and different shades of gold and looked like a bed of autumn leaves gently moved by the wind.
Golden Rays migration photos (The Telegraph, thanks Brad Keech!) Read the rest

Bush fundraiser linked to crashed drug plane

Remember the strange circumstances surrounding the Gulfstream II jet filled with 3.7 tons of cocaine that crashed in the Yucatan last month? There's more.

According to Mad Cow Morning News, the plane was once owned by ultra-rich Bush supporter Stephen Adams. (In July, the Federal Election Commission filed suit against Adams on charges that he "failed to report and include proper disclaimers on $1,000,000 in billboard ads during the 2004 Presidential race.")

Not only that, but Mad Cow alleges that Adam's business partner owned the other American drug plane that was found in Mexico with 5.5 tons of cocaine in 2006.

Recently-released FAA records from the Gulfstream II business jet that went down in Mexico a month ago with four tons of cocaine reveal that before it was “parked” in the name of a New York real estate developer with ties to the Russian Mob, the plane was owned by a secretive Midwestern media baron and Republican fund-raiser, who had a business partner who, incredibly, owned the other American drug plane, the DC9, recently busted in Mexico.

Adams was in business with Miami attorney Michael Farkas, who founded SkyWay Aircraft, which owned the DC9 busted in Mexico 18 months ago with 5.5 tons of cocaine aboard.

Moreover at the same time the Bush Ranger extraordinaire Stephen Adams owned the Gulfstream (N987SA) in 1999 and 2000, he was personally buying over $1 million of billboard ads for George W. Bush for his 2000 Presidential election bid.

Link Read the rest

Board-game price-fixing

A board-game publisher has begun engaging in price fixing, a practice newly liberalized in the US in the wake of a June Supreme Court decision. Yehuda sez,
In June, 2007, the U.S. Supreme court struck down a major 97 year old law on price fixing, which prohibits manufacturers from coercing retailers on how to set their prices.

The new ruling essentially wrote that the old law was too rigid, and each instance of price fixing would now be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine if it harmed or helped the consumer.

This went relatively un-noticed for a while.

But last week, Mayfair Games, US publisher of the popular board game Settlers of Catan as well as other games, sent letters to all of its retailers demanding that they limit any discounts on their games to 20% off the suggested retail price.

This is purportedly to boost struggling brick-and-mortar stores against the spread of deep-discounting online stores which have been stealing their business.

Lots of discussion on Board Game Geek about this, split about evenly down the middle. Half the people say that deep discounters are good for the consumer, because people can buy more games and people without access to local stores can buy games. Half the people say that deep discounting is bad for the consumer, because local game stores server many more people than online stores do, and discounting games leads to their undervaluing.

Link (Thanks, Yehuda!) Read the rest

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