Some excellent visuals turn up about the MH370 satellite pings, lots of trouble happens over using a petrol voucher, and the Stone Age board game is highly enjoyed.

Impressive visuals of satellite pings

Today on Reddit’s live news chat a vast amount of discussion has been occurring about Flight MH370, and I came across an excellent summary of events in the Washington Post today about the objects sighted off the coast of Australia.

The chart of multiple satellite pings from that report is most impressive, and it’s one of the few that gives clear details of the satellite pings and what they mean in regard to figuring out where the aircraft may have gone.

Voucher trouble at BP

I had quite a lot of trouble while trying to pay for my petrol today, as it seems that my teller was fairly new to things and wasn’t aware of how some things are done.

At the Gloucester Street BP today I went in with a $10 voucher and was told that they couldn’t accept it, because my total was under that amount, and they’re not allowed to give change on the vouchers, which in this case amounted to $1.35 of change.

When he asked if I could fill it up even further, I had to let him know that the bike was already filled to max capacity. No more can fit in to the scooter and I wouldn’t feel good about spraying petrol all over the forecourt.

I suggested that perhaps a gift card could be used, as that’s what has happened at other BP stations and I’m told that gift cards have a minimum of $5. What on earth is happening here. Is he this determined to not let me pay using an MTA gift voucher? I can only imagine that he’s trying to think of how to put the $1.35 instead on to the gift card instead.

Finally and somewhat in despair I ask him how I can use the voucher to pay for the petrol, and he doesn’t know. What point are petrol vouchers if they can’t be used to pay for petrol?

I felt like telling him to take the $10 voucher and shove it where the sun don’t shine – afterall, I stopped by to fill up because I was on empty and about to head across town to Northlands, and I’m going to be late if this keeps up for much longer.

Instead, I come up with a solution to our dilemma and tell him that he can put the $10 voucher on their gift card, so that the gift card can be used to pay for the petrol. This is all while another older worker is standing beside him at the coffee machine, not seeming to want to help with the problem either.

In the end I manage to eventually use the voucher to pay for my petrol by proxy of their gift card, but it was a hell of a bad experience and I was glad to be out of there, and will be in touch with the manager and MTA about things.

Board games

Tonight we were over at Lisa and Peter’s place in Casebrook, where Andrew is helping his son to get to know older movies from the 70’s and 80’s that are well worth watching, so we all geeked out about older movies that we knew of as inspiration for him, before moving on to enjoy Stone Age and Shadow Hunters. I’ve written before about Shadow Hunters, so here’s my impression instead about Stone Age.

Stone Age

Stone Age is an excellent worker placement game that we started off with tonight. Each player starts with 5 workers and the aim of the game is to collect victory points by gathering resources and using them to pay for cards and tiles that can help you to win.

Each round of the game has three phases – placing people, using their people actions, and feeding people.

Placing

You start off with 5 people and have several places where you take turns to put them. Limited locations are to the tool maker and the field, where only one person each round can place a person. The hut is limited too, to two people from one player.

There are also a range of 4 civilization cards of increasing cost that can help you out in different ways where only one person can claim each card, and there are buildings that a person can claim that give you victory points.

Areas where multiple people can be placed are the forest, clay pit, quarry, and the river, where up to seven workers from different people are allowed there. The last place where you can put your people is on the hunting grounds, where you can get food to help feed your people.

Feeding your people is a vital component of this game and reminds me of the computer game Banished. You want more workers Stone Age to help you to to be more effective against your opponents, but they all require feeding and when you run out of food, you have to instead start losing the resources you have gathered instead.

Working

After players have taken turns to place their people they can go to work, starting with the person holding the “start player” token, which moves to the next player on subsequent rounds.

Locations like the tool maker and the field become highly prized locations. The tool maker gives you additional tools that allow you to add more numbers to your dice rolls, and the field gives you a permanent increase to your food production at the end of each round.

Tasks such as hunting for food, gathering wood from the forest, mining clay, quarrying stone, and panning for gold are all done by rolling dice for each of the people you have in that area, and then divide by a difficulty factor for each area, starting from 2 for hunting up to 6 for gold. This is where the tool maker becomes very useful, for you can use the tools you gain from him to add on to your rolls. For example, if you have 2 people panning for gold and your two dice add up to 9, you can have three tools that each give you +2 that you can use to let you get more gold from the area.

The civilization cards consist of two parts, an upper part that gives you things right away, and a lower part that adds on to scoring at the end of the game. The upper part can be for some resources, or items for dice, where a dice is rolled for the number of players playing the game, and each dice number represents a different type of item. Starting from the person using the card, each player then chooses which of those items they want to have.

The lower part of the civilization cards gives you victory points in two different ways. There are bonuses that depend on a range of different things such as the number of buildings you have, or the number of people, and there are different culture symbols on other cards where you gain 2^n points based on the range of culture cards you have. So if you have 5 different types of culture cards you would then gain 25 extra points.

Finally there are building cards that directly give you victory points. These have different resource costs. One could require for example one wood and two stone for its points. Other buildings can be more flexible, where you can use 3 resources each from two different types of resource to gain score, or from 1 to 7 of any types of resources you prefer to score with.

Feeding

After everyone has used their people it then comes time for feeding, where you start with your field points and top them up with food gained from hunting or other sources such as the civilization cards. If you don’t have enough to feed them then you have to lose resources instead of food, and if you don’t have enough from there you would go on to lose 10 victory points.

After everyone is fed the start player token moves on to the next player, and they begin by placing their people on the board again.

Interesting factors

When I was playing I started off immediately by sending two people hunting for additional food each round, to cries from other players of why am I doing that for there is enough food that we start with. They soon learned the folly of their ways though after a few more rounds.

Victory points depend on the resources you can gather, resources depend on your dice rolls which are helped by your tools, dice tools depend on the number of people you can place there, and your people depend on the food that you can provide. Food is the fundamental building block from where everything else becomes possible.

Must-buy list

Stone Age is an absolutely brilliant game, and makes it on to my must-buy list.

 

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