Anyway, I kicked back and started going through White Star Rising. It's not a great rulebook; it fobs off a lot of it to its player aid, which means multiple player aids going on here. Anyway, guess how many pieces of important information are on a typical WSR tank counter? No go on guess. Guess, darn it--OK, I'll tell you: Sixteen. (That includes nationality color. Which is cheap.) Empires in Arms manages with two; there are perfectly good wargames coming out now where the counters are just wooden cubes. Anyway, it is grievously taxing the capabilities of the counter printer to make this all legible, especially the SS counters, which are (of course) black, and then you have the black numbers. That's a very important and fragile white outline those numbers have.
Anyway, after a few pages I started wondering if I was really maximizing my happiness here. I decided I wasn't, and I needed some instant gratification. I clicked on my iPod Touch, hit the mind games app, and went to "Flip," which is their name for Lights Out. I only recently got into it; I've seen the puzzle before but never really tried it. I have an odd talent for it: I start solving, and click on squares according to some set of rules I am only dimly aware of, and in no time (in time, not always in moves) I've solved it. It's usually not especially challenging, but...instant gratification. At least, that's what I thought until I started hitting the solver. Many of my instinctive solutions were well off the ideal pace, which I found fascinating. That's when I started investigating the math behind the puzzle. For instance, one thing that was blindingly obvious once I looked at the solver is that the best solution had at most as many moves as there are squares in the grid--since clicking something twice doesn't do anything--it's like flipping the lightswitch twice. Its an interesting puzzle.
I kind of remind myself of my old gamesmate in Austin, Jeffles, who could give a solution to Ricochet Robot within just a couple of seconds of seeing the board, but it was invariably an absurd solution--56 or something. Occasionally we'd make him show us the 56, which he always could. He had trouble finding low numbers!
Anyway. Back to sustained happiness. Helping me along, this almost absurdly upbeat song from Keane: