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I finished Final Fantasy IX yesterday! I only put about 45 hours into it, which is pretty short for a Square Enix game. I know there were side quests I didn't do, and one location I didn't visit, but I don't think that would have added on a lot more time.

I've seen cutscenes from the game at Distant Worlds concert, but those cutscenes didn't really spoil anything. I went into the game knowing some of the characters' names and some location names, but that was it--I knew nothing about the plot. I ended up liking the plot quite a bit. The final boss did remind me a bit of the final boss from Final Fantasy V, especially since they both use the dreaded Grand Cross (which sets random status effects on your party), but they are definitely not the same character.

Speaking of characters, I love Zidane. He has such a good nature, which, giving his background, might not have been the case. I freaking love that the most bad-ass knight in Alexandria is a woman, Beatrix. I think Vivi had the most compelling storyline of the characters. mild spoiler ) I don't think there was a character I disliked.

Play-wise, it was your typical Final Fantasy game, with an ATB gauge and turn-based gaming. Character growth is done via abilities, which are learned from equipped items and ability points you earn at the end of battle. You can set a certain amount of abilities per character. At the end of the game all my characters had auto-regen, which was a bit ridiculous. It made for easy fights.

In general, I found the game easy to play. I did have trouble with one early boss, but I checked a walkthrough and discovered there was an optional character I had missed, so I picked him up then had no problem with the boss. I did err in not visiting the Chocobo forest. There's a point in the game where you are dropped off some distance from a location where you need to retrieve an item, and the enemies were tough in the area. Riding a chocobo was recommended by the walkthrough, but because I hadn't visited the forest, I couldn't call one, and I was stuck on that continent so couldn't go visit the forest then. So I had to fight my way to the location, which took several attempts. But otherwise, the game was easy.

I would definitely play this game again, though not for some time. I plan on playing FFXII next, then probably FFX since it's been forever since I played that, then probably replay the Kingdom Hearts games.

I'm itching to start FFXII, and read the game manual yesterday. Like FFIX, I don't know much about the game. I know who the characters are (they are introduced in the manual) and I know it takes place in Ivalice which I'm familiar with from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, but Ivalice is a big place so I'm not sure the locations are repeated. I've heard that people have put a LOT of time into playing this game, so that sounds good. I like long games.

But before I can start FFXII I really need to read some books. I've had holds on two ebooks for several months, and they finally became available, so I need to read them before they expire. I also have some physical books out from the library which are due back on Tuesday. I don't think I'm going to get to them before then, and haven't decided if I'm just going to bring them back or renew them.
xnera: The Ninth Doctor says, "Fantastic!" (fantastic!)
I reached 300 projects on Ravelry! I had reached 200 projects on May 26, 2015, so if I'm mathing correctly that's a project finished every 2.83 days. Sounds fast, doesn't it?

Stats:

* 26 Ministry projects
* 16 doilies
* 67 dishcloths
* 4 garments
* 112 knitting projects
* 187 crochet projects
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I didn't get a lot of crafting done in January as I was busy playing with my Kindle. I became rather a boring person, just refreshing Twitter, Facebook, and Ravelry over and over. I think I'd feel less bad about this if I was more engaged in creating content, by posting more to the sites. Instead, I was rather passive. Meh.

I did manage to complete some items, though! I finished another prayer shawl. It came out much bigger than I expected! But this is good; as someone in the ministry said, people come in all sorts of sizes.

I finished a cowl for the Red Heart Lovers group. I keep hoping to win their raffle, but it was not to be, again. Drat. I'm sitting this month out because they are making slippers and I've just made a pair, plus I am running out of Red Heart yarn.

I also made a pair of wrist warmers using up some leftover yarn I had. I've worn them while using my Kindle. They are cozy.

Finally, I made three dishcloths for the Dishcloth Weekly group: basketweave, Nancy's Square Cloth, and rib and welt.

Nerdopolis has started again, which always inspires me to craft. I started four new projects on the 1st, and have worked on each of them each day so far. February should be a productive month!
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This may be the last month I do two shawls. I managed to finish them both, but I had to do a LOT of knitting the past few days to do so, and it was tedious.

Anyway! Yesterday I finished my Celtic Myths shawl. The cable felt like it took forever. If I do this one again, I think I would do less repeats; since I was using Aran weight yarn instead of DK it came out nearly ten inches bigger than the pattern states.

I also finished a second Boneyard shawl. I'm pleased with it, but weaving in the ends from the color changes was annoying. I didn't have enough yarn to do one color, though.

I made a doily, Mini Moods of Change. As I was working on it, the initial section really wanted to be a bowl. It flattened out once I got to the second section, but there's a bit of extra fabric in the first section so it doesn't lay perfectly flat, which annoys me. The designer did warn that the beginning rounds would be tight and not to change hook size, but still.. I feel like there aren't enough stitches in some of the rounds. So I'm just okay with the results of my work.

I finished some crocheted slippers. Who knows if I will ever actually wear them, LOL. The toes are too long; I actually ripped one of them back and tried to make it shorter but didn't have much luck. These might end up being frogged....

I made a cowl based on the Elegant Ellen hat. It curls somewhat, but not too bad. I wore it to the Prayer Shawl Ministry meeting and got compliments on it.

I also made two projects for the Crochet Holiday Stashdown, the Holly in the Snow Cup Cozy and Adelyn Earwarmer. That latter one is Tunisian, so that was fun.

Finally, I made some dishcloths and tawashi for the Dishcloth Weekly group: Maidenhair Fern dischloth, Magic Spike Mandala, Tribble #2, and Scrubbie Dots.

Whew! I sure was busy! Funny thing is that I felt like I didn't do as much crafting this month because at the beginning of the month I was spending a lot of my time reading and playing Final Fantasy V. So the crafting went to the side for a bit. But I obviously found time to get a lot of things done, even though it doesn't feel like it.

In January I plan to take a break from the shawls and work on my Nerdopolis Summit Seeker projects: my Turkish Treasure Redux and Cockleshell Camisole. I'm also making a cowl for the Red Heart Lovers group, but I haven't picked the pattern for it yet. Any suggestions?
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Merry Christmas to all those celebrating! Christmas makes me think of ham for dinner, so here's this week's

Game of the Week: DEVIL BUNNY NEEDS A HAM

Devil Bunny Needs a Ham at Board Game Geek

You are a highly trained sous chef who decides to scale a building. Devil Bunny needs a ham, and thinks he can get one if he can knock you off the building. Devil Bunny's logic is not very good...

Every player controls three tokens representing their sous chefs. Players start on the ground floor. Three dice are rolled on your turn. If you roll a 6, Devil Bunny moves right away. Otherwise, you move your tokens as follows:

1: You can move diagonally or horizontally, but not straight up or down.
2: Each full move must be in a straight line.
3: You do not have to use the entire move.
4: You can use each die to move a different token, or combine two or more dice to move a single token.
5: You can’t move through other players, or through Devil Bunny.
6: You can’t move into the black squares, because you fear them.

If you roll a 6, Devil Bunny jumps on the highest climber, knocking that climber down. The climber falls straight down. If there is another climber in her path, she is caught on that climber, otherwise she falls to the ground. If she is caught by another climber, that climber places her on an adjacent space beneath the climber. If she falls to the ground, she dies if she was above the Line of Death on the building.

As climbers reach the top of the building, they place their token on one of the letters at the top. At the end of the game, points are totaled based on the letter a player's tokens reside upon.

You can download the game for FREE at Cheapass Games.
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Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is a Japanese RPG for the Nintendo DS. It takes place between Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, and its story runs concurrently with the events from Kingdom Hearts: Chains of Memories. It focuses on the happenings within Organization XIII from the viewpoint of Roxas.

The game is divided into days, and each day further divided into several missions. The gameplay is action-based. The default action when pressing the A button is to attack. You can press the X button to cycle between actions in the menu, such as using magic or an item. You can also assign shortcuts to actions, which are then accessed by holding down the L button and pressing the designated shortcut.

In the main menu, there is a Panel system which allows you to influence what you bring into battle. Panels can lock into other panels: for example, you can put a Blizzard panel into a Doublecast panel, which will allow you to make two casts of the Blizzard magic. In general, you want a Keyblade panel and its associated modifiers, some magic, and a healthy supply of potions and ethers.

The missions take place on the various worlds of the Kingdom Hearts universe. The game features the same worlds as Kingdom Hearts 1, with Twilight Town taking the place of Traverse Town. There are three types of missions: gathering Hearts, doing recon, and eliminating a giant Heartless. In some missions you must avoid being detected (my least favorite mission).

Once you complete a mission, you may undertake it again via the Holo-Missions option in the main menu. There are also Challenges, in which a mission has certain restrictions placed on it: beating the mission with these restrictions yields Challenge Sigils, which can be redeemed in the shop for freebies.

The game also features a multi-player mode in which players undertake missions together and try to beat one another to finishing it.

Here's the official trailer for the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FH0_reDWRY
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At Board Game Geek: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/112686/epic-spell-wars-battle-wizards-duel-mt-skullzfyre

Epic Spell Wars is a humorous card game for 2-6 players. Each person plays a battle wizard trying to prove that she is the most powerful one of all. Players attempt to make spells from the cards in their hand. Cards come in three flavors: a starting card called the Source, a middle card called the Quality, and a finishing card called the Delivery. The cards have a glyph in the lower left-hand corner: if you match the glyphs on each card, you perform extra damage with your dice roll. Players start with 20 health points, and play continues until only one player is left alive.

Play begins with players laying out a spell face-down in front of them. Spells with the lowest amount of components go first. If all spells are of three components, then the one with the highest delivery number goes first. The Source card will state who is the target of the spell - for example, it might be your strongest foe. The Quality card directs you to roll dice to determine damage taken. The Delivery card can modify the damage taken based on a dice roll.

This game was featured on Tabletop. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzY7Ywv_JiI
xnera: Icon of Kyo from Fruits Basket, captioned "Grumpypants-chan".  (Grumpypants-chan)
because I feel like swearing right now

Cards Against Humanity at Board Game Geek

Cards Against Humanity is a party game for four or more people. One person is designated the Card Czar, and turns over a black card that has a fill-in-the-blank phrase. The players all have white answer cards, and must choose a card that will complete that blank, aiming for the funniest response. They pass their chosen card face-down to the Card Czar, who then examines the answers and chooses which one she thinks is best. The winner gets the black card to represent one Awesome Point. Play then continues with the next player taking over as Card Czar, and the game continues until everyone decides to quit, at which point whoever with the most Awesome Points wins.

Sounds a lot like Apples to Apples, right? The difference is that Cards Against Humanity is rude, crude, and offensive. Many of the cards revolve around adult humor.

Cards Against Humanity was featured on Tabletop. It is not safe for work or children. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/QCEqUn7If44
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The premise is simple: the King of All Cosmos got drunk and wiped out the stars in the sky, so he tasks his son the Prince with re-creating them. This is done by rolling a Katamari (a giant sticky ball) around, gathering up items until the katamari grows large enough to become a star.

You first start out rolling in one room of the house, picking up thumbtacks and candy wrappers. As the katamari grows, you get to roll in more areas, such as around the town. The growth happens pretty seamlessly: a slight shimmer on the screen as the game adjusts to the new dimensions. The graphics are colorful, the music catchy. It’s a very charming game.

Katamari Damacy was succeeded by the following games: We Love Katamari (PlayStation 2), Me & My Katamari (PlayStation Portable), Beautiful Katamari (Xbox 360), i Love Katamari (iOS, Windows Phone 7, Android), Katamari Forever (PlayStation 3), Katamari Amore (iOS), and Touch My Katamari (PlayStation Vita)

Here is a speed run from the original game: https://youtu.be/TtaCNsK_e4I
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I finished my first knitted garment for myself - my Harvest Cardigan! I am wearing it right now. It is very cozy. The arms came out too long, but I simply turned back the cuffs, and that is working nicely. So I don't think I will rip out some of the sleeve, as I first thought.

I finished two more shawls. My Wavedeck is going to be for myself, as it came out better than the first one I knitted. That one will go to the ministry. I also finished a Boneyard Shawl. It looks much better in person than it does in the pictures. I liked the colorway enough that I knitted a swatch with the scrap yarn to keep for myself, to remember it by.

I'm working on two mysteries. The first is a knitted mystery that I think will end up being a cowl. I love the pattern so far. That was the yarn I was untangling, by the way -- I did end up cutting the yarn in one place once I got to the knot, as there was no other way to untangle it. The other mystery is a crochet one that I think might be a container for plastic bags. I can't imagine what else it could be that is that skinny.

In December I plan on crocheting a Mini Moods of Change doily, and knitting a Celtic Myths shawl. I've also started on another Boneyard shawl with some more variegated yarn. I don't have enough of the variegated by itself, so I will alternate sections with Red Heart Super Saver in Aran.
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Last Night on Earth on Board Game Geek: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/29368/last-night-earth-zombie-game

It's the zombie apocalypse! Will the humans successfully escape the zombies, or will the zombies block their escape? Last Night on Earth is a board game for 2-6 players. Players are divided into two teams: zombies and heroes. The game has several different scenarios you can play, for example one scenario is Escape in the Truck. In this scenario, you have to find the truck keys and gas up the truck to escape in order for the heroes to win. For the zombies to win, they have to block the escape before the sun comes up.

Every turn, the sun tracker is moved one tick towards sunrise, then the zombies go first. They draw cards from the zombie deck, and then move, attack, and add more zombies to the board. On the heroes' turn, they draw a card from the hero deck, then either run away from the zombies, run towards a friend who needs help, or search an area for a useful item. The heroes must take time to heal themselves, too, because if they are wounded too many times, they die.

If a zombie and hero occupy the same space on the board, they must fight. The hero rolls two dice, and the zombie rolls one die. If the zombie wins, the hero takes a wound. If the hero wins, the hero fends off the zombie but the zombie remains on the board. If the hero rolls a double, the zombie is killed and removed from the board.

Last Night on Earth was featured on Tabletop. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhLU2-BuhMI
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Ticket to Ride on Board Game Geek

Ticket to Ride is an easy-to-learn board game for 2-5 players. You play a railroad baron attempting to connect cities together with your railroad. At the end of the game, the player with the most points is the winner. To get points, you may perform 1 of 3 actions each turn: 1) you can draw cards; 2) you can cash in cards of the same color to claim train routes; 3) you can draw a ticket. If you complete the route on the ticket before the end of the game, you receive bonus points. If you don't complete the route, the bonus points count against you in the final scoring. The person with the longest route at the end of the game gets 10 bonus points.

Ticket to Ride was featured on Tabletop. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHmf1bau9xQ
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Cocoon hangs in the sky above Gran Pulse. The people of Cocoon treat all things Pulse with suspicion and fear. When a Pulse Vestige is found near a village on Cocoon, the government reacts by ordering a Purge of all the village’s inhabitants, exiling them to Pulse. Serah, Lightning’s sister, had wandered into the Vestige, and was made a Pulse L’Cie by the Fal’Cie inside. She now has a Focus to accomplish: if she does, she will be turned into crystal; if she fails to fulfill her Focus, she will be made into a monstrous Ce’ith.

Lightning and Snow (Serah’s fiancee) attempt to rescue Serah, but in the process get made into L’Cie themselves. Will they fulfill their Focus and turn into the monstrous Ragnorak and destroy Cocoon, or will they follow their hearts and somehow manage to save Cocoon?

The gameplay is quasi-turn based. There is an Active Time Battle gauge; as the ATB fills, you can stock commands. Once the ATB is full the commands are unleashed. You play in a party of three characters and control only the main character; the other two characters take action based on their defined role. There are six roles: Ravagers (magic damage dealers), Commandos (melee damage dealers), Sentinals (tanks), Saboteurs (debuffers), Synergists (buffers), and Medics (healers). You can create Paradigms of different role combinations: for example, the Relentless Assault paradigm is made up of a Commando and two Ravagers, while the Combat Clinic paradigm is SEN MED MED. You can then switch between these paradigms in battle as needed. You can also summon Eidolons to fight for you, but it is not something I used much.

Weapons and Accessories are found in treasure caskets throughout the world, and can also be bought from stores at a save point. They can be upgraded using components found in battle or bought at stores. Character growth is done in the Crystarium; after each battle, you are awarded CP which are then spent in the Crystarium on one of your character’s roles to increase their prowess and learn new abilities.

When I saw the initial trailer for the game, I was not very impressed, so was pleasantly surprised when I ended up liking the game a fair deal. It’s a solid game, but it does have some faults. The two biggest:

  • It’s linear as heck. I call it “Corridor Fantasy”, because for a large portion of the game you are running down narrow pathways. The benefit is that you can’t get lost, and the story unfolds easily, but you lose the sense of exploration that past Final Fantasy games have had;
  • It’s most efficient to choose Auto-Battle, which stocks commands for you. This means that for many of the battles, you are just mashing the A button, which is pretty boring. Harder battles do require switching Paradigms, which is more fun, but for the most part, it’s mash A and win.
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Gloom at Board Game Geek

Gloom is a card game for 2-4 players. Each player takes control of a family of characters. The goal of the game is to make your family as miserable as possible while making your rivals' families as happy as you can. You do this by playing three different types of cards on a turn: modifier cards, event cards, and untimely death cards.

Each player gets two plays per turn, and at the end of her turn must draw cards up to replenish her hand up to five cards, unless altered by other cards. The game encourages storytelling to justify playing modifier cards. You can play negative modifier cards on your own family, or positive modifiers on your opponents' families. If you play an untimely death card on a character, that character is removed from the game. Points are then scored based on the modifiers at time of death. The person with the lowest score at the end of the game is the winner.

Gloom was featured on Tabletop. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0artLwe87I4
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Cribbage is a card game for two players. Points accumulate so fast in Cribbage that it is played with a special board. The board has holes and two pegs per player; the pegs are jumped over one another as points are scored.

Cribbage is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. Kings are high and aces are low. All face cards are worth ten points. Aces are worth one point.

Each player is dealt six cards. They select two cards to be put into the crib, which is an extra hand that will be scored later by the dealer of that round. The remaining four cards are kept for play.

The object of Cribbage is to make fifteens, pairs, and runs. The non-dealer starts play, placing a card down in front of her and announcing its value. The dealer then plays a card, announcing the total of the two cards. Play continues until the current player cannot play a card that would bring the total over 31; she then announces "Go". The other player must continue playing cards if she can do so without exceeding 31. For making exactly 31, the player pegs 2; for a Go of less than 31 she pegs one. Play then restarts with a new count, until all eight cards have been played.

Points accumulate as follows:
* For making a fifteen, peg two.
* For making a pair, peg two.
* For a pair royale (three cards of the same rank), peg six.
* For four cards of the same rank, peg twelve.
* For making a run, peg the number of cards in the run.

Once all eight cards have been played, the hands are scored. Along with pegging for fifteens, pairs, and runs in your hand, you can also score four for a flush, and one for nobs (a hack that is the same suit as the starter card). Scoring is done aloud, usually in a manner such as "15-2, 15-4, 15-6, and a pair makes 8". Once each hand has been scored, the dealer scores the crib, taking the points for herself. Play then continues with the other player becoming dealer for the next turn. The game is won when 121 points have been scored.

Complete rules can be found at the Bicycle website.
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I'm a dork. Someone on Ravelry posted a thread asking for cozy shawl recommendations, and one of the replies mentioned the Boneyard Shawl. I thought that would be a good shawl for my Sunshine Print yarn. The Sunshine print is highly variegated, and thus needs a simple pattern as anything complex would get lost in it. So I queued the pattern.

And then started it that night, even though I still need to finish Meandering and the Butterfly Stitch shawl.

Deadlines are weird. Nerdopolis has one-month deadlines, and I find that I'm able to finish projects for Nerdopolis fairly quickly. But I have a deadline of finishing Meandering by this Friday, and I just don't want to work on it. It's become a chore, you know? So I work on other things instead.

I can still finish Meandering if I do a lot of knitting over the next few days, but I'm already given myself permission to not finish it. There's another shawl ministry meeting in December, so as long as I have it done for then I'll be happy.
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It is only the 18th and I already have my five stars in Nerdopolis. For Nerdopolis University: Pluto and Friends, I made a crocheted pumpkin treat bowl which is orange like Jupiter. The pattern pic looked so big, so I was surprised at how small this turned out. It'd be good for holding Hershey's Kisses. For Carousel Nerdception: Sidekicks and Pets, I made another baby chocobo. The eyes turned out better on this one, I think, but still no where as cute as the pattern pic, which used felted eyes. Eventually I'd like to make felted eyes myself. For Wildcard: Boo! I made a Tunisian scarf. It had two new stitches in it. I had to watch a video to figure out the twisted stitch, and I did the shells wrong at first due to misreading where the repeat was. But I eventually got it, and it turned out nice. It's destined for the frog pond, though, because I used yarn earmarked for a shawl. Finally, my last two stars were in Area 51: Oldest WIP. My oldest WIPs are Summit Seekers projects, so instead I made a knitted pumpkin and finished a Seraphina's Shawl that I started in a fit of anxiety on September 30th.

I also started my Harvest which is coming along nicely. I haven't worked on it for a week, though, because I'm trying to finish my Meandering shawl by the ministry meeting this Friday. As if I didn't have enough to do, I saw someone post a nice crocheted shawl that features a butterfly stitch, and started one myself, which I'm also going to try to finish for the meeting.
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This week features a casual video game I've been spending a lot of time with lately. Picross is a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS. You are presented with a blank grid, and need to fill in the grid using the clues located along the top and left of the grid. For example, a clue of "5 1" means that there are five squares in a row filled in, followed by at least one blank space, then one square filled in. Once all the clues are complete, you end up with a picture that fits that level's theme.

There are three modes: Easy, Normal, and Free. Easy mode features fifteen puzzles that can be solved within a minute or two. Both Normal and Free mode have ten levels of fifteen puzzles each. In Normal mode which features beginner-to-intermediate puzzles, you are penalized for making mistakes. The first mistake adds two minutes to your time, the second four minutes, and each additional mistake after that costs eight minutes. You have a total of sixty minutes to complete the puzzle. Free mode features intermediate-to-advanced puzzles, and does not penalize mistakes--but doesn't warn you if you do make a mistake.

The levels of fifteen puzzles are further divided into three groups of five puzzles. After each group, you have a chance to play a timed mini-game. The first mini-game is Catch, in which you must tap the moving tiles within the time limit. The second mini-game is Sketch, in which you must replicate the image shown on the top screen. The final mini-game is Hit, in which you must tap the blinking squares before time runs out.

There is also Daily Picross, a set of five timed challenges. The first challenge is Nonstop Time Attack, in which you must solve five puzzles in succession as quickly as possible. The second challenge is No X Marks, which also has fie puzzles to solve but prohibits the use of X marks to mark blank spaces. Next is Error Search, in which you must find the errors located in the puzzle. The errors can be a space filled in erroneously, or a missing fill. In Memory, you are shown a grid and numbers for fifteen seconds, then must fill in the grid from memory. Finally is Secret, in which three of the clues are missing from the grid and shown on the top screen. You must determine where the missing clues belong and solve the puzzle. I've been playing Daily Picross for over 444 days now.
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Munchkin on Board Game Geek

Munchkin is a card game for 3-6 players. It's a parody of role playing games with the object of getting your character up from level 1 to level 10. There are two decks of cards: Door cards and Treasure cards. Door cards hide monsters, and treasures are the loot the monsters drop.

At the start of your turn, you may play as many cards as you'd like, trade items with other players, or sell items (worth a total of 1000 gold pieces) for levels. The player then draws a card from the Door deck. If it's a monster, you must fight it. If it's a curse card, it takes effect immediately. Any other card can be put in your hand or played immediately.

When fighting a monster, your combat strength (your level plus any modifiers from cards) must be greater than the monster's strength in order to beat it. If you cannot beat it, you can ask for help from other players. If you succeed in beating the monster, you get Treasure cards and go up a level. There's also the option to run away from a monster if it's too tough. To do so, you roll a die: if the result is a 5 or 6, you successfully run away but do not get any treasure or go up a level.

If a player did not pull a monster from the Door deck, she can go Looking For Trouble and play a monster from her hand and fight it. Or she can Loot the Room and draw a second card from the Door deck and place it in her hand.

Players can hinder each other by making monsters tougher, or by playing other cards such as level-stealing cards. Throughout the game, you never know if someone will help you or backstab you.

Munchkin was featured on Tabletop. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6oMBSiL7Zs

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