My wife dominated Valentine’s day this year. On top of buying me a pizza peel, she tracked down a new two-player card game. She surprised me with Morels, a light strategy game about gathering mushrooms in the woods. Ten rounds later, I think this game has our couples-game stamp of approval. Great work honey!

The first thing I noticed about Morels is that the game is saturated with theme. The rules, though verbose, were easy to pick up. All the game elements interact in simple, sensible ways. You pass mushrooms on your walk through the woods, picking choice fungi. Gather pans to cook mushrooms, baskets to carry more, and foraging sticks to reach deeper into the woods. It all works, and the game feels much like a woodland stroll.

On a mechanical, playable level there’s also a lot to love. Players only take action per turn and there are only two players, so that game moves at a nice clip for its relaxed feel. Analysis paralysis stays low as well – on their first turn a player usually has two or three possible moves. Later the possibility space can include more than ten moves, but two or three usually stand out. Since the game only ends when the draw deck is empty, play time is consistently 20-30 minutes. The only awkwardness is that you’ll often hold a hand of 12 or more cards in the latter half of the game, which can be hard to manage.

Player interaction consists of getting to resources first. Every move affects your opponent’s options in a predictable way, so choices are complex on every turn. Still, it’s not an aggressive game. It’s rare to find a game my wife likes this much. I suspect it will last a while in our house.

2014-02-15 15.00.00

Loaf #12

This loaf, all whole wheat flour, is a quick bread (about 3 hours of prep). It turned into a pretty good sandwich bread, though the crust was tougher than I’d like. I think the whole wheat calls for a lower temperature and softer crust. The whole loaf ended up a bit flat – it fell in the middle of the final rise when I tried to move it. Oh well.

Also pictured is an exciting gift from my sweetheart this Valentine’s day – a bamboo pizza peel for sliding my bread into the oven! It worked beautifully. Thanks honey!


Loaves #10 and #11

My first attempts at wheat bread came out of the oven looking pretty, if a little unusual. Imagine my disappointment when I cut into the loaf and discovered the center was totally uncooked! It happened to both loaves. Alleson had me put one back in the oven, and we sort of salvaged it, but on the whole it was not a great batch.

I’m not sure what went wrong. At the moment I suspect either wheat dough behaves differntly than I expect, or my dough was too dry, causing the outside to bake too quickly. Oh well – time to try again!

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2014-02-04 22.09.57

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