Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bingo Blitz is going to get someone killed.

Yep.  I said "bingo".  As in sitting at a table with half a dozen people in a room crammed with 13 or 14 more tables crowded with dozens of other people who have also given up on finding anything even remotely dignified to do with their evening.  At least the whole "blue hair" thing is optional.

You can usually tell which tables are the "happening" tables by the people who appear to be suffering from a bad case of abnormally large, rainbow hued measles after failing to dodge repeated "daub & run" attacks perpetrated by their companions.

I'll admit it.  I could probably fit into this crowd fairly easily even at my age.  (First person who asks me what it was like to ride a T-rex is gonna get fed to him.) But since I'm not one for gambling real money, bingo tends to get monotonous in a hurry.  The total reliance on sheer luck drives me batty as well.

Short drive.  Yeah, I know.  I've had that particular personality trait pointed out to me on many occasions.

Well, it turns out that someone got the idea to "spice up" the game of bingo and introduced the Facebook world to Bingo Blitz. The classic game has been all gussied up with pretty graphics, computer generated callers sporting hideous accents, and even a way to strategize and improve your chances of getting bingos using these doohickies called Power Ups.
If you get bored with the bingo side of things, you can also go muck around with their slots rooms.  Nothing different about the slots stuff; standard, run of the mill, no concentration needed, spin yourself into a computer coma, slots.

To keep things from getting dull and stagnant, you play the bingo and slots in an effort to win collection items in each of the rooms.  These items can come from treasure chest squares or from what are universally referred to as "shadow cards" because they have a silhouette of one of the collection items.  If you bingo on that card, Voila!, you just won the item.

I'm borderline OCD.  Oh yeah.  I must have every item.  Now.  Sleep and food are inconsequential.  Smaller versions of myself can learn to fend for themselves.  Let the dust bunnies clean the house.  I'm busy!

And I'm not the only one!

The desire to get these collection items has to led to some fairly basic strategies that usually require dragging the individual rounds out as long as possible for more opportunity to daub treasure squares or to get a bingo on the shadow card.

You have to "buy" your game cards with the virtual currency of the game known as credits which are earned by winning bingos and through the daily "Yay! You checked back in today! You love us and still have no life!" allowances. Obviously you want to bingo 1st, 2nd, or 3rd for the larger credit prizes. If not in the top three, you still want to bingo at some point so you get at least some sort of credit prize to recoup what you spent on the round.

Now there is a small element of cooperation between players when it comes to the collection items, because trading most of the items is allowed.  This is a lovely aspect of the Bingo Blitz world intended to bring us together and foster harmony and love.

As with anything even remotely competitive in the universe, you have people who want to play one way, and other people who want to play in a different style.

And as with anything in the universe even remotely involving humans, you have drama.

Now that the basic set up has been laid out, lemme pull you in a smidge farther.  You know that first group I described?  The ones focused on getting collections completed?  That camp is generally called the "Holders".  They hold their bingos as long as they possibly can before clicking that "BINGO!" button just before the last bingo is called. Some holders don't call their bingos at all if they think they're helping other players and these folks can get downright homicidal if you call a bingo while they're holding for a specific person.

Then you have the group that just want to play bingo and aren't necessarily concerned with strategy or completing the collections.  They want to win and they want to get back some of the credits they paid to get into the game.  This group of players really doesn't have a collective name at this time, but they can also get downright homicidal if anyone challenges their right to claim their hard earned currency.

These two groups of players generally despise each other. In a Skittles vs M&Ms sort of way. In a dog lover vs cat lover sort of way.  In a Star Trek vs Star Wars sort of way.

I tend to think the "holder" term gets used a little too much.  But then, I like to believe that logic and I have a pretty decent relationship.

For example, in every online bingo game out there the bingos trickle in slowly at the start and then begin to speed up as more people get their bingos, usually ending in a chaotic crashing wave effect of players trying to claim a win before either time runs out or the allotted number of wins allowed is used up.  (Bingo Blitz uses the allotted wins based on the number of cards purchased method.)
The chaos at the end of the game is often immediately followed by "Ugh!  Holders!!"
Now, there's a very good possibility that this is due to the holders watching the number of bingos remaining and gauging how much longer they can try to accumulate treasure chests or coins before grabbing their spot on the winners list.

But I really wonder if anyone ever takes into consideration that there are often times more than 100 cards in play in any given bingo room.  Now, last time I checked there are only 75 numbers in the bingo pool.  Call the first number, and now there are 74.  Call another number, only 73 left.  You get the idea.  If each of the people in the room is paying attention and daubing off their numbers as they're called, doesn't it stand to reason that the remaining numbers on their cards
~the remaining numbers
~on someone else's

And as more numbers are called and the pool of numbers that hasn't been called is shrinking, wouldn't it also stand to reason that more and more players
~the same number
~to win
~at the same time?

Yeah, I know.  That's deep stuff.  I'll wait while folks get their muck boots on.

Like I said, the rivalry between the above camps is there but for the most part, up to now,  they have simply been more irritating to each other than malicious.

A few months ago BB changed the collections just slightly.  Before, everything was able to be traded to whomever you wanted to trade with.  Now, there are items that are "not giftable" and thus have to be won by you if you wish to complete the set.  Since some collection items are only available out of the treasure chests, you can see why it's getting more and more popular to join what used to be a fairly small holder camp and try to collect as many chests as possible before claiming that bingo you have sitting and waiting on your card.

The reason this irritates people who don't hold is easy to illustrate. You're sitting there waiting for the caller to call another number with the remaining bingo tally sitting at 15 or 20.  If no one is holding, in order for another bingo to be won another number must be called, right?  Well, holders are viewed kind of like used car salesmen ready to pounce on the first victim to cross into the line of vision. All it takes is one person clicking bingo in the lull between numbers and setting off the sound effect indicating that the bingos are almost all claimed, and then all the holders click at once.
The bingos are gone.
To add insult to injury, the poor confused computer generated caller with his or her hideous accent, often still tosses out one last number that does no good whatsoever for the people who needed it to win.

If the poor callers were real people, there'd be a witness protection program for them.

So you'd think the battle lines would be pretty clear, right?  Easy to see who is on which side?

Trust BB to throw a monkey wrench into things.

There are seasonal collections!  Rooms that open for maybe a month at a time and are usually unbelievably expensive to play.  And of course, they include items that cannot be traded.  BB has also gotten almost obsessively fond of tiered rooms requiring players to complete what boils down to 3 individual collections for each room.

Limited time to play: holding seems the best strategy in order to maximize chances of getting the bloody collection items before the room closes.
Unbelievably expensive: not holding seems the best strategy in order to win back some of your credits so you can afford to keep attempting to get the bloody collection items before the room closes.
Tiered rooms: up the stress level because you can't collect anything from higher tiers if you can't complete the tier you're on, making it that much more important that your chosen strategy not be completely derailed by someone in the other camp!

Oh it gets UGLY when someone is one number away from getting that coveted hard to get shadow and the call to "HOLD YOUR BINGOS!!!" goes out, then that poor soul who has just enough credits to play one more game IF he wins this round claims said bingo and opens the gate releasing all the holders at once before another number can be called.

Picture this:

Team Hold on one side of the room, brutal weapons of choice in hand. Frothing at the mouth and daring ANYONE to click a bingo before all the prizes on every one of the cards have been claimed.

Team Don't Hold on other side of the room, brutal weapons of choice in hand. Eyes glazing and nostrils flaring preparing to defend the right to not throw away credits that could be collected and used toward more rounds.

Forget negotiations.  Forget forgiveness.  This is it.  The ultimate rivalry.  Neither group could hate anyone else more than the other team.  Step between them and get trampled without even being seen.

Is there anything in the cosmos that could ever make these two factions agree to not kill each other?

"Hey guys!  I just started this room a minute ago and I don't have anything.  I need someone to give me stuff!"

(If you enjoyed this post, please consider popping over to my other BB post Bingo Blitz: Better than Reality TV.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's bedtime. Things are supposed to be calm now.

Yeah.  Right.

*sigh* Only my children... only my children.

We got home from church just about an hour ago.  Bedtime for the littles and quiet time for us. Woohoo!

Assuming we can actually get them into bed.

Steve: "Hunter, get your shoes off like you were told."
Me: "Heather, I told you to get changed into pajamas."
Me: "No, Hunter, you may NOT have any cake."
Me: "Not a princess dress; your PAJAMAS, Heather!"
Steve: "Sarah, is your homework done yet??"
Me: "Someone feed the cats. They're convinced they're on the brink of starvation again."
Me: "Why don't I hear anyone brushing their teeth?"
Hunter: "Can't we play some more? We're not tired!"
Heather: "Mom! Jack's stealing Snow White again!!"
Steve: "Whose coat is this flung into my recliner??"
Hunter: "I don't want to wear a shirt!"
Sarah: "Mom! What was the public reaction when Truman fired MacArthur?"
Me: *flustered and not really listening* "Who's Truman and what's a MacArthur?"
Sarah: "MacArthur's that guy that went rogue and dropped an A-bomb on Korea."
Steve: "Say that again? What history book are they teaching you out of??"
Heather: "I don't want to take my medicine!"
Hunter: "I'll take it!"

Eventually we got them into bed. Finally, peace and quiet.

Or not.

I heard the ~CRACK~ from the other end of the house.

In the 5 seconds or so it took me to get to them, Hunter had blood running down his face and through his fingers from a wound I couldn't see through the dark spot pooling and matting the hair at his hairline. Heather was sitting on her bed screaming at the top of her lungs that it was an accident, but wouldn't stop declaring her innocence long enough to explain just WHAT had happened.

I knew my panic-free thinking was about to run out and screamed bloody murder for Steve to come take over Hunter's care while I ran downstairs for wet towels, buckets of water, bandages, dry towels, peroxide, cotton balls, medical tape, surgical thread, needles, staple gun... you get the idea.

By the time I got back upstairs, Steve had gotten Hunter's head cleaned up enough to determine that he would not be needing reconstructive surgery despite my preparations.  They were busy trying to clean the blood off of his face, arm, chest, and hands so I inspected the small hole that looked remarkably like someone had stabbed my son in the head with a ballpoint pen.

Heather had stopped yowling and I asked her what had happened.  She informed us that she was trying to get Hunter's light up pillow pet back onto his bed and didn't mean to hit him with it.

Wait.  Did she say a pillow pet?? One of those soft, huggable, plush toys that get folded up into pillows because they're so cuddly??
How in the blazes could she do that much damage with fluff??
Oh right;  these pillow pets light up.

Battery compartment.

Which, upon further investigation, we discovered had been broken over our son's head.  Literally.

We have to buy another pillow pet.

Now MY head hurts.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!



Just... *growl*

I love my cats.  I really truly do.  I will, however, likely be forced to kill one of them. And it will be a clear cut case of self defense.

Let me explain:

~Head down to my room last night to watch some DVRed Olympics and maybe stitch.
~Turn the corner at the edge of my bed.
~Trip over cat.
~Smack head into window and drop everything in a loud and somewhat musical crash.

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!"

Jack: *musical chirrup* (Translation: Notice me.)

~Get out of bed this morning to tend to needs of small humans with misguided belief that I'm responsible for their feeding and care.
~Open door and step out into hallway.
~Trip over cat.
~Slam shoulder into doorjam and forehead into wall.

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!"

Jack: *musical chirrup* (Translation: I'm hungry too.)

~Finish feeding children and cats.
~Make beeline for bathroom.
~Pull bathroom door closed behind me as I step inside.
~Step forward toward necessary accoutrements.
~Trip over cat.
~Slip sideways and land unceremoniously in a heap inside the bathtub.

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!"

Jack: *musical chirrup* (Translation: I want to play in the water.)

~Get dressed after showering and move toward livingroom in search of other family members.
~See cat coming and sidestep into kitchen feeling proud of myself for not acquiring yet another bruise.
~Retrieve water bottle from fridge and prepare to go upstairs.
~Turn corner into livingroom.
~Trip over cat.
~Stumble two or three steps before collapsing over arm of recliner that had to have been part of the ambush.
~Fail to catch my balance and roll off of the front of the recliner, successfully twisting wrist upon landing on floor while pointedly ignoring gales of laughter coming from one of the small humans who had been watching TV.

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!"

Jack: *musical chirrup* (Translation: Here's my stick toy. Play with me.)

~Wrap up morning routine of wasting hour or two on Facebook and YouTube.
~Stand up and turn away from computer desk.
~Trip over cat.
~Bounce in a most undignified manner off of guest bed while pointedly ignoring long-suffering sigh of spouse that screams "Two years of this and you still haven't learned?"

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!"

Jack: *musical chirrup* (Translation: My belly needs to be rubbed.)

~Notice cat water dish needs to be cleaned out.. again.
~Pick up heavy stonewear dish half full of water.
~Turn around.
~Trip over cat.
~Pour water down front of clothing in futile attempt to avoid recreating Clarksville's "Great Flood of 2010" in kitchen.

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!"

Jack: *musical chirrup* (Translation: That's my water.)

~Finish cleaning up not-so-natural disaster.
~Step out into hallway.
~Trip over cat.

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Ja -- oh.   Lea, there's gotta be safer places to sleep."

Lea: "Mreowr". (Translation: Bite me.)

~Take step.
~Trip over cat.

"D@%$#$^&@!!@#!T, Jack!!"