Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are you Ready for The Hunger Games?

After finally getting the book into my hands about two weeks ago I found that I could not put it down.  Despite having a toddler who gets up at 6 AM and a gaming group that on average plays until 11:30 PM - 12 AM, I could not help myself but to keep reading long into the night.  Most nights ended with me battling to keep my eyes open before giving up around the 2:30 AM mark!  I am nearing the finish of the trilogy now and can't wait to see how it has been adapted for screen.  The Hunger Games finally hits theaters this Friday, March 23rd (My Son's Birthday!)  Sorry Logan, your party is on Sunday, Momma's got a date with Daddy and The Hunger Games ;0) To be fair, my birthday is on Monday.

Aside from the Movie release, two new games have hit your friendly local game store.  Wizkids recently released a new board game where players can try their luck in District 12.  The Hunger Games: District 12 brings players into the daily lives of its citizens.  Can you acquire food, clothing, medicine, and fuel to avoid taking Tesserae?  The Reaping is approaching: Who will be selected as Tribute for the Hunger Games? 

First Impressions:
  -Fast easy game play (10 page rule Book!)
  -Stripped down mechanics make it approachable but might not have enough meat for some
   -Apparently everyone is Katniss in this game despite the rules reading like you are any citizen of District 12.  Each player gets a token that is the same picture of Katniss, only its a different color.  This seems a bit odd and out of place.
   -The game has an elimination mechanic that some might find unpleasant. The Glass Ball, while very thematic, could very well take out the player who is winning the game. At the end of the game one of the names is drawn to symbolize the Reaping and unfortunately anyone could lose even without adding any Tesserae.
   -It's a solid game with decent components, but didn't make me feel as desperate as I imagine the citizens of district 12 to be.

Jabberjay has also recently been released by wizkids and is a traitor game much like Werewolf or The Resistance.   It plays between 5-12 players (though there is a coop mode for 4 or less) and has the same split into two teams mechanic as The Resistace. One is a smaller group of District citizens who know each other’s identity, and the second is a larger one of Capitol citizens who don’t. Our group has yet to get this to the table, but I will be sure to point you to our podcast review as soon as we do.

Back in 2012, Wizkids released The Hunger Games: Training Days making three titles in all. The question now becomes will these two titles have the same fate as Training Days, or will they prove to be solid game closet contenders?

And one final thing...The one thing our group immediately noticed with all of these games is that none of them capture the struggle in the arena.  Instead they focus on the training (Training Days), surviving daily life in district 12 (District 12) and the rebellion (Jabberjay).  Is there an Arena game in the future?  We hope so!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Movie Geeks: Toddlers at the Movies

Since the birth of our son, my husband and I have longed for the day when we could take him to see his first movie at the theater.  Sure he went with us when he was very young, but the period between when he began to crawl and the time he was able to sit interested in a TV program seemed like years for a couple who consider themselves movie geeks.  I was one of those pregnant moms crazy enough to go see avatar in the imax when I was 8 months pregnant!  We naturally positioned ourselves in the center in order to get the best view, making frequent bathroom breaks a major no no.  Not only did I make it through the movie with only one bathroom break, but I also had a large drink with me that I finished by about half way through, talk about will power!  Anyways, now that Logan is turning 2, we decided it was time to try the movies again with toddler in tow.  The new adaptation of The Lorax provided the perfect opportunity for this.
The Lorax has been one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories since I was a child and one that I watched over and over as a kid.  I was very interested to see what this new version added or detracted from my fond childhood memories of the original story.

 Luckily I was please with the result as was my son who made it through the movie with flying colors, laughing at jokes and point things out that he recognized throughout the film.  How was his first movie such a success?  Here are the steps my husband and I took to ensure that we left the theater happy rather than embarrassed and ashamed at our attempt.

 First things first, make sure you choose the right time of the day.  For Logan, the time between 3 PM and 7 PM is his most relaxed.  He has had his nap and he is energized for the rest of the afternoon, expecting dinner around 5:30 to 6:00 PM.  This brings me to my second piece of advice; choose a non traditional movie theater.  Chunky's is a convenient little chain here in New Hampshire where the theater meets the drive-in meets a restaurant.  This is perfect for Logan because he can eat while watching the film which helps to keep him occupied and avoid boredom.  It is also packed with families making it a little more forgiving when your child decides to talk or gets upset in the middle of a show.  Most of the people understand and will not glare at you for the rest of the evening.
You could also look for theaters that host “Mommy-and-me” movies just for parents and their young children, (Chunky's also does this) so the rest of the audience will be extra understanding of your movie-goer trainee.
Another good choice would be the drive-in.  This set up works particularly well because parents can usually find a children's film and an adult film bundled together.  Do make sure the movie you are taking them to see is one that they will be interested in.  This allows your toddler to watch the first one and with any luck fall asleep while mommy and daddy watch the second.  This worked great the first time we went.  Logan sat and watched The Smurfs contently in his car seat, ate some snacks from the concession stand and fell asleep at the beginning of the second movie.  This cannot be guaranteed through, as my husband I will attest.  Because of the success on our first outing, we decided to go again one night and no matter what we did, Logan refused to fall asleep and was not happy playing with any of the toys we brought to distract him.  I remember finally giving up and letting my husband watch Captain America alone, while I strolled around with Logan trying to get him to sleep.  You win some you loose some, right!  On a positive note, because you are outside, your toddler can be louder and have toys to occupy himself during the show when they actually occupy him.  Even better, the one near us has a playground and food concession stand which makes it even more convenient for a restless toddler who needs an energy release.  I think the next time we go we will use the personal DvD player or even my phone as a distraction now that he is so fluent with technology.  Two years old and he can already work my Android without much trouble and he loves his Alphabet App!
This leads me to my 3rd and final piece of advice for taking your toddler along to a movie.  Be sure to arrive at a time that will ensure decent seats but not leave your toddler sitting and waiting for a long stretch.  If you know that there will be some down time, make sure you have items that will keep him engaged packed away in your purse.  My purse is always equipped with a sucker, his mini magnadoodle, some other small snack (usually goldfish or cheerios), and of course my phone complete with toddler apps and you tube!  (This is also a great secret weapon for waiting in restaurants)
And finally...If you do opt for the traditional movie theater, be sure to pick a week day afternoon, when your chances of disturbing other movie goers will be at a minimum and choose aisle seats so you can scoot to the bathroom or make a quick exit if necessary.  And if at first you don't succeed, wait a couple months and try it again :0)