Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician – A Solo Print and Play Board Game

Bored? Don’t want to look at a screen? Solo print and play board games to the rescue! I’m a casual gamer at best — I probably only get to play a lightweight board game once a week, and maybe a heavy board game a couple of times per year. I love games. I love the systems, the design that keeps things tight and engaging, and the social interaction. Solo games are a great way to scratch the itch when you just can’t get your friends together for a game night.

Here’s my first impression of the print and play board game Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician
Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician – finished up my second game! (and lost again…)

This print and play game only requires two pieces of paper, six six-sided dice (6 d6), and something to write with. You’ll play the role of historical figure, Ada Lovelace, and try to collect enough evidence and scour enough rooms to solve a crime. You’ll chuck dice and choose polyominios to draw on the floor plan — Tetris style. While placing your polyominos to fill rooms is one way to earn points, you’ll also attempt to surround special blocks that contain pieces of evidence in order to gain special abilities. You’ll loop through this cycle of anxiously anticipating dice rolls, mulling over which polyomino to pick and where to place it, and considering whether to simply fill the room or shoehorn the polyominos to try to surround a piece of evidence. You’ll do this this across four rounds before time runs out and the game is over.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician has a great flow, and the way it is laid out helps you save the game state in case you need to do something else for a bit during your game. You’ll use a printed Dice Manager as a place to set your dice and easily visualize your polyomino options. By looking at that Dice Manager you’ll know if they are reserve dice, dice you already rolled and put away, or if they have already been assigned to the Dice Wheel. I found this set up to be very useful, as I could roll the dice, place them on the dice wheel, and quickly understand the game state as a glance.

“You have a case, but it is unconvincing. Your reputation is in tatters.”

I only got 40 points on my first attempt. My second attempt I managed to get 39… According to the score chart in the rule book that puts me at… “You have a case, but it is unconvincing. Your reputation is in tatters.” To win you need 75+ points. Not easy! I’ve only played once, but next time I play I think I’m going to pay more attention to my polyomino placement so that I don’t make it impossible to complete rooms. I had a few rooms that could only be completed by the “wild shapes” that I just never happened to grab before the end of the game. In my first run I found seven pieces of evidence, and completed two rooms (the two halls). I also managed to get some extra points from evidence abilities.

There you have it. Try it out, it might be fun! Some more links on the game follow.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician on BoardGameGeek.com has links to more reviews, the printable files, and forums with answers to common questions — and more!

The developer’s website has some interesting tidbits about the developer and some of his other games.

Check out my introduction of Raging Bulls, another simple yet fun print and play game!


Another Japanese YouTuber to Learn About Japan From

Tokyo Street Food in SHIMOKITAZAWA (TOKYO)☆ Totoro cream puff♡

Another quality YouTuber that produces content about Japan, in Japan, and with Japanese subtitles.

If you’re wondering what life is like in Japan, or if you’re already in Japan and are looking for things to do, you’re sure to find something on Miki’s channel. I certainly didn’t know about that meat sandwich place in Shimokitazawa. Going to have to check it out!

Looking for more Japanese YouTubers? Check out our other post, “Japanese YouTubers to boost your Listening Comprehension.”

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Japanese Lesson from Games: To Be Decided on Something 腹が決まってる

Time for another language pick up from a Nintendo Switch game! This time it’s from Gnosia, the single-player social deduction game modeled after the popular social game, Werewolf.

どうやら全員、腹は決まってるみてーだな。だったら話し合う必要もねーか。

Japanese: どうやら全員、腹は決まってるみてーだな。

Hiragana: どうやらぜんいん、はらはきまってるみてーだな。

Romaji: douyara zenninn, hara ha kimatterumitee da na.

The interesting part of this speech part is the second part of the first sentence. 「腹は決まってるみてーだな。」

The meaning is, the person has made up their mind. The literal translation is, “their stomach has decided.” Why stomach? That’s just the way it is! There are many emotion related words in Japanese that involve the word stomach. For example, 腹が立つ (はらがたつ stomach is standing – means to be angry), and 腹黒い (はらぐろい stomach is black – means to have evil intentions).

The later part of the phrase, 「..みてーだな。」is a slangy, informal from of みたいですね。The clause to add to the end of a verb to mean, “looks like.” So the character is saying that it “looks like everyone has already made up their minds.”

Good stuff! I’m enjoying this game. Fun in short bursts. One loop only takes about 10-15 minutes, and it feels pretty casual. I am mainly playing it as a way to get some casual Japanese reading practice, because you really can’t gloss over all of the text in this game and still play it… You at least have to get the jist.

Remember, if you want to play this game in Japanese you have to get it on the Japanese eShop. The US eShop version of Gnosia does NOT have the Japanese text available, so if you want to play this in Japanese you’ll need to get the Japanese version. A lot of games for the Switch are truly region free and will switch languages based on your system settings, but Gnosia, unfortunately, isn’t one of them.

Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

Japanese YouTubers to boost your Listening Comprehension

ならまち花あかりちゃんねる (Naramachi HanaAkari Channel)

This channel features a couple of maiko in Nara. They frequently do live events and react to view comments. They have videos where they introduce some culturally interesting aspect of maiko-life or Japanese traditional arts, and a few where they walk around famous locations in Nara. The production quality is very basic, but they are very good about regularly getting in front of the camera. They realize that they have an international audience and sometimes do videos, or portions of videos, in English.

In this video they introduce some traditional games from Japan

3時のヒロイン公式チャンネル (3 o’clock Heroine Official Channel)

These ladies are famous comedians. Minor celebrities if you will. If you’re really into that Japanese brand of humor you might enjoy this.

Comedy. Here they share answers to questions like, “this is the type of day I wouldn’t want to be my last day alive.” If they get stuck they can ask their mother’s for help.

Ryoya Takashima

Ryoya Takashima is a really professional Japanese YouTuber. He uses high-quality equipment, adds English subtitles to his Japanese-language audio, and gets cooperation from the people to say a few words to the camera at the places that he visits. If you want to get a look at Japan I think you’ll find some enjoyable videos on this channel. He also travels internationally a lot so you can see his takes on countries around the world as well.

Ryoya Takashima goes to Ishigaki Island

NAKATA UNIVERSITY

On Nakata University, Mr. Atsuhiko Nakata enthusiastically explains a variety of subjects in a lecture format. If you are looking to deepen your Japanese vocabulary in some specific subjects, this could be a good channel to watch as in many videos he speaks for more than 20 minutes on the same topic.

Here, Prof Nakata explains the FIRE movement. Financial Independence Retire Early.

Finally, if you’re looking for more, change your YouTube settings and change your location to Japan. Now, your recommendations will be based on things that are popular in Japan. This should help you stumble upon some new content.

Check some of these out! Might be fun!

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Japanese Lesson from Games: Every second counts!

Fire Emblem Three Houses is FILLED with advanced Japanese phrases and vocabulary. The game is entirely voiced, and you can replay any dialog you want as long as you don’t leave the dialog sequence. The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Fire Emblem, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Fire Emblem - Every Second Counts
toki wa ikkoku wo arasoimasu… tanomimashita yo.

時は一刻を争います…頼みましたよ。

Japanese: 一刻を争います

Hiragana: いっこくをあらそいます

Romaji: ikkoku wo arasoimasu

The key phrase I want to highlight here is 一刻を争います, or 一刻を争うas you’ll see it written if you look it up. The definition given on kotobank.jp is「 わずかな時間も無駄にできない。急を要する。」which roughly translates into, “We cannot even waste the smallest amount of time. We must hurry.”

一刻 means a short moment of time, like an instant, or sometimes it’s translated as a minute.

The verb 争います means to compete or contest, and you’ll probably recognize the kanji from the word 戦争 sensou which means “war.”

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

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Japanese Lesson from Games: 千載一遇 once in a lifetime!

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including the demo for Project Triangle Strategy, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

senzai ichiguu no kikai
wakaina. senzai ichiguu no kikai wo nogashita zo.

Japanese: 若いな。千載一遇の機会を逃したな。

Romaji: wakaina. senzaiichigu no kikai wo nogashita na

English: You’re young. You just missed the chance of a lifetime.

千載一遇 (senzai ichiguu) is a four-character phrase that means, “once in a lifetime.” More literally, it means out of one 1,000 one will get it only once. Like most of the language I post on this site, I didn’t know this phrase before playing the game. The word 機会 kikai is simply opportunity, and the verb 逃した is past tense of ‘nogasu’ which means to miss.

Language aside, who is hype for this game? Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together was one of the first Japanese-language games I imported and played as a kid. My flying winged dude with the spear was ultra powerful. The game was hard, so slow going, but so interesting. Now that I’m older, turn-based strategy games really hit the sweet spot.

I hope Project Triangle Strategy has some sort of permadeath. Even if it’s not real permadeath like Fire Emblem hard mode, I hope there is something to force the player to be extra careful during a battle. The tension that is created by permadeath makes me think a little longer about each move, and bite my nails a little harder when the AI is moving, which really brings out the “strategy” aspect of a strategy game.

So far it looks like Project Triangle Strategy will have plenty of voice acting, which I love, and combat details like altitude advantages, and the ability to push enemies off ledges and onto adverse terrain. So fun!

Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

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Japanese Lesson from Games: 九死に一生を得る a proverb for a narrow escape!

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Xenoblade Chronicles HD, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

kyuushi ni isshou wo eru
Kyuushi ni Isshou wo eta kibun da

Japanese: ありがとう。九死に一生を得た気分だ。

Romaji: arigatou. kyuushi ni isshou wo eta kibun da.

English: Thank you. I feel like I just barely escaped certain death.

九死に一生を得る。This is a proverb that means to somehow survive a situation that was so harrowing, it was as if it only had a 1 in 10 chance of survival. This phrase is used when you find yourself in a dangerous situation that you think there is no way that you could possible escape, but some how end up making it out. The literal way to understand the language is, (out of 10 attempts) there are 9 death and one who comes out alive.

Xenoblade Chronicles doesn’t have the cool audio replay features that Fire Emblem Three Houses has, but it has great cut scenes with quality Japanese audio and text to learn from. The game is also epic. Check it out!

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

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Earth Celebration on Sado Island

In 2013 I went to the Earth Celebration festival on Sado Island. It was a wonderful experience and I hope I have a chance to do it again.

Sado Island Main State
People claiming their spots for the main show.

Attending the the Earth Celebration is a real adventure. It’s a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, a musical treat, and a cultural experience.

The main event at Earth Celebration is always a Taiko Drum performance by Kodo, who always deliver an absolutely earth-shaking show. They perform throughout the year in other locations and I would strongly recommend you catch them if you can. I don’t have photos from Kodo’s performance from Earth Celebration 2013 as they asked for no photography during the show… Plus it was dark and we were far from the stage and I didn’t have a zoom lens…

Before Kodo performs you can enjoy other music performances and a variety of food stalls of the usual Japanese festival fare.

"Oni Daiko" which is literally "demon drums."
This was called “Oni Daiko” which is literally “demon drums.”
The man wearing the demon mask was the main performer.
Sado Island Earth Celebration Logo - Warakudaiko groupFlag
Sado Island Earth Celebration Logo Flag
Earth Celebration on Sado Island (2013)
The main shopping strip of Sado.
The main street in town.

Even though Sado Island is off the beaten path, it’s not difficult to get to as Japan has public transport sorted out. The town itself is quaint, but during the Earth Festival there are plenty fo tourists, so many shops and restaurants are open. The town is small so you can walk around the main drag in a single day no problem.

This is a report from a visit in 2013, I’m sure the festival has changed in some way since then, but I’m sure it’s still great. Has anyone been recently? If so do share your experience!

Links:

Earth Celebration Official English Website

Kodo, Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble

Getting to Sado Island on VisitSado.com

Tottori Sand Dunes for an trip out-of-the-ordinary Japan Adventure

Looking for something different to do in Japan? Try Tottori Sand Dunes! Might be fun. This isn’t a location I would recommend to someone who is headed to Japan for the first time ever, but if you are already living in Japan and looking for something new to do, check it out.

People for scale.

The Tottori Sand Dunes (鳥取砂丘 tottori sakyuu) are the only place in Japan where you can see sand dunes. They are indeed natural, and have existed for 100,000 years.

The Tottori Sand Dunes are really the main tourist attraction in Tottori prefecture. Other than the dunes, you can find hot springs and ryokan as you can at most other tourist destinations in Japan.

At the time I went, which was 2006… there were several activities you could do. They had rental boards so you could try sand surfing. You could do paragliding, or ride a camel. There is also a sand museum.

Camel at Tottori Sand Dunes
Camel to ride! Must be lonely being a camel in Tottori…
Sand dune!
I guess parasailing isn’t the proper term, but this. It’s smaller.
Sand surfing!

Getting to Tottori Sand Dunes:

Once you’re in Tottori it’s easy to get to the dunes. They are such a major tourist attraction all the signs and anyone you ask will point you there.

From Tokyo: If you’re coming from Tokyo by train, it’s about 5 hours and 10 minutes. The trip will take you to Himeji on the Nozomi bullet train, and then from Himeji to Tottori station on the Super Hakuto train. From Tottori station you can get to the dunes by taxi or bus.

From Osaka: Coming from Osaka the trip is about two hours and 40 minutes on the Super Hakuto train. It’s a straight shot from Osaka to Tottori with no train exchanges. Easy! Then once you’re at Tottori you can get to the dunes by taxi or bus.

Japan’s Crazy Desert Revealed: Tottori Sand Dune Adventure ★ ONLY in JAPAN


There is even a classic song about Tottori Sakyuu that many Japanese know and love. It’s more popular with the older generation, but still a lot of people know it!

For best results, sing in a karaoke shop in Tottori.

Kaori Mizumori  sings Tottori Sakyu

Give it a shot!

Links:
Tottori Sand Dunes [Wikipedia]
Tottori Sand Dunes [Japan Guide]
Access to Tottori Sand Dunes [Official]

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Japanese Lesson from Games: 人の上に立つ者

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler - hito no ue ni tatsu mono
Octopath Traveler – hito no ue ni tatsu mono

Kanji: 人の上に立つ者

Romaji: ひとのうえにたつもの

English: To lead. A leader. Literally, to stand over others.

This phrase is often used in work situation to describe someone who managers others. In this scene H’aanit (my favorite character) is musing that about a leader’s preparedness 覚悟 and determination 決意.

人の上 is “over people.” に is a particle. And 立つ is “to stand.” 者 is the object here, and indicates a person.

I came across this page on 新R25 when I was researching this phrase. The article is titled 「人の上に立つ」なんて性根が腐っていて気持ち悪い。これからのリーダーは“円を描ける人”だ which roughly translates into, “The phrase ‘to stand over others as a leader’ has a rotten character and feels disgusting. Leaders should be “people who can draw a circle” from now on. In his article he claims that people are people, no one is above or below the other. He says that we should do away with a pyramid structure way of thinking, and use a circle as the base instead. He then goes on to say that new leaders should play more of a captain role. There are many instances of the 人の上に立つ者 phrase throughout the article if you want more context for your Japanese learning!

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.