Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Odin's Ravens (Osprey Games)

In Norse mythology, Odin has two pet ravens named Huginn and Muinn. Their task to travel through Midgard (Earth) and bring Odin back news on what life is like in other places. Having been assigned to this task for millennia, they have grown competitive with each other. Therefore, they've decided to make a race of it. Travelling in opposite directions, they want to be the first one to return to Odin and report their news. But what would Norse mythology be without a little "help" from Loki? This is
Odin's RavensOdin's Ravens plays two players, ages 8+. It takes approximately 20 minutes to play and retails for $25.

1. Shuffle the Land Cards and place a line of 16 cards between the two players. Each Land Card contains two spaces that will form two routes to fly down. (Note: When laying out the cards, make sure no two spaces in a row are the same.)
2. Have each player place their Raven at one end of the Land Cards in front of one route.
3. Give each player their 25 Flight Cards and 8 Loki Cards. Have them shuffle the two decks separately and place them face down.
4. Each player then draws five cards (any combination from the two decks) to form their starting hand.
Game Play
The game is a race. Once your Raven reaches one end of the Land Cards, it switches to the other side and flies back on the other route. On your turn you may take as many actions as you have the card to accomplish. The actions are as follows:
1. Flight - Play a card that shows the same Land type as the next path space in front of your Raven. If there is a path of the same Land spaces in a row, your Raven will move to the end of this path. (Note: If you have no Flight Cards that match the next space, you can play any two Flight Cards of the same type to substitute for the Flight Card you need.)
2. Trickery - Play a Loki Card. There are two of each of the four types of Loki Cards. Each card provides you two options, which the player must choose, such as moving your Raven forward one space or your opponent's Raven back one space.

The game ends when one Raven makes a complete cycle of the Land Cards.

Odin's Ravens is a simple two-player racing game that boils down to hand management. How many cards will you play this turn? How will you balance your hand with Flight and Loki Cards? Do I go for speed or do I play more Loki Cards? Should I use the Loki Cards to benefit me or hinder my opponent? The game is very easy to teach and plays so quickly that you will want to play it again immediately, win or lose. What I like best about this game is the presentation and art. The game box opens up like a book, which is a nice touch. The Raven tokens are made of laser-cut wood, but the best part is the art on the cards. They are simple scenes/backgrounds, but they are beautiful and inspired by Norse mythology. This is a worthy title to add to your two-player game collection.

This game was provided to me for free by Osprey Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Knowing God's Love (Sophia Institute Press)

One of the fundamental questions people often ask about God is, "What is He like?" We all have our own understanding/misunderstanding of who God is, what He is like, and what He thinks of us, but what is the truth? Dr. John D. Labarbara recently penned the book Knowing God's Love, which gives us "Eight Essential Truths Every Catholic Should Know." The book is divided into three parts - The Foundational Truths, The Foundational Truths Applied Personally, and The Foundational Truths Applied Publicly.

The book begins reflecting on the first chapter of Genesis. In this chapter, we learn three things. 1. God is a "We." 2. God is a God of relationship. 3. God is love. The second chapter of the book focuses on what God thinks of, and the author again turns to the book of Genesis. As God is a "We," humanity is a "they" of man and woman. Secondly, we are made in God's image. Lastly, both sex and marriage were gifts from God to be enjoyed by spouses. In the third chapter, we learn more about the relationship with God. God wants us to love Him, but with our sin, we broke that relationship with Him. With His mercy and compassion, He continues to forgive us and call us back to Him. The remaining five chapters are application in aspects such as work, charity, social teaching, and government.

Knowing God's Love can best be described as introduction or summary to the Catechism. Within it, you will find a summary of the teachings and truths of the Catholic faith. What I liked best about this book is the bullet point summary at the end of every chapter. Sometimes, it is hard to process a lot of information in a chapter, no matter how concise it is. This helpful recap helps to crystallize everything and let it sink in. The last helpful thing I really liked in this book is that there are appropriate Scripture and Catechism references throughout the chapter where necessary. This gives credibility to the book and shows that the writings are grounded in something more than just the author's words. This is a very helpful book for both new and cradle Catholics alike.

This book was provided to me for free by Sophia Institute Press in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Irish Children's Books (Pauline Books and Media)

Two of the most recognized and beloved saints in Catholicism are St. Patrick and St. Brigid. Today, I am reviewing two children's books on these saints, available from Pauline Books and Media. The first one is called Patrick and the FirePatrick and the Fire begins with a boy named Bevan herding goats, a task he did not particularly like. While doing his job, a man named Patrick greets him and asks where to find the King. Bevan explains to him that it would not be a good day to meet the king, but Patrick insists. It is the feast day of a god named Balor, and the king must light the first fire. Patrick has an idea to light a fire first in honor of Christ's Resurrection. Doing so infuriates the king until Patrick explains to him who God is. The king is puzzled at first, but seeing Patrick's bravery and the fact that he can't extinguish Patrick's fire causes the king to reconsider. He instead grants Patrick permission to spread the Gospel through all of Ireland. This is a nice little book that gives your children a religious story mixed with history, legend, and a little bit of adventure. I really like how the book opens with the prayer to St. Patrick and closes with a brief biography on who St. Patrick was.

Brigid and the Butter tells the story of a little girl who lives on the farm with her mother. They are not a wealthy family at all and barely have enough to eat themselves, but Brigid is a cheerful girl and a hard worker. She is in charge of milking the cows and churning the butter, and she loved the taste of butter. One day Brigid heard Bishop (future Saint) Patrick preaching about Jesus feeding the hungry all because a little boy sacrificed his food so others could eat. This caused Brigid to think deeply. In the coming days, a starving woman came to her door asking for food. Brigid had no bread, only butter. She was hesitant at first to help the woman, but she remembered the words of Bishop Patrick. She gave the woman the only food she had (the butter) and after Brigid thanked God for the opportunity to help the woman, God blessed her with twice as much butter as she had sacrificed. This is a sweet story that shows children that you should joyfully help others. Like its companion book, Patrick and the Fire, it too includes a prayer to Saint Brigid and a brief biography on this saint.

These books were provided to me for free by Pauline Books and Media in exchange for an honest review.