Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Impressions: Pandemic

About a month ago, I was out of town and stopped by a local game shop while I was travelling.  Turns out they had Small World and Pandemic, both new and unopened, for 20% off.  Needless to say, I picked both of them up.  We were travelling out of town for the weekend to see some of my family, and we decided that either of these games would be easier for them to pick up than the Game of Thrones LCG.

Since my wife has more patience for learning cooperative games, we opened up Pandemic first.  I played an introductory game myself, using four pawns and playing as all of them myself, to get a feel for the game before teaching it to Katie.  I was way too carried away with treating the diseases rather than curing them, and I ran out of cards with one disease left to cure.  I also did not have a good grasp on how the pawns/players interacted with each other with their abilities, one of the most important aspects of the game.  It was not a whole lot of fun, but of course, the game's not meant to be played that way, and it was just a learning experience for me.

The components are kinda cheap, but I have been pretty spoiled with Days of Wonder products lately.  I miss the over-sized boards, as Pandemic's world map feels quite cramped and crowded.

The first game with Katie went quite well.  She randomly drew the Dispatcher, and was quite thrilled since she wanted the pink guy anyway.  I randomly drew the Medic, conveniently enough, and I figured the two would mesh quite nicely.  The initial infection set-up left widespread disease in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and South America, with the worst being centered around Osaka and Seoul.  Being the medic, I headed out to cure the build-up of two-three disease cubes in Asia, and Katie headed south to fight diseases in Mexico City.  We both started with rather fortunate hands, her picking up three reds/oranges within her first couple of turns and me picking up three blues.  Thanks to her dispatch ability, we were able to meet up and trade cards and get the diseases for those two cure quickly.

We set off all four epidemics going through the player draw deck, but were fortunate enough that our single outbreak occurred in Madrid, sending blue cubes from Europe into South America, Africa, and North America.  Though this did mix in some blue cubes with the yellow and black, it did not cause a chain reaction and we were able to get the mess cleaned up fairly easily.

We were pretty lucky as far as Special Event card draws go.  I had the card that let you rearrange the top six Infection cards, and was able to ensure that no outbreaks would go off after our most precarious Epidemic.  I also ended up with the card (Government Grant?) that lets you drop a research center in any city to help set up one of the cures.  Other than that, there was a lot of dispatching back and forth.

We were sitting at three cured diseases (one of which was eradicated), no more epidemics left in the deck, and knew the cards were getting low.  I had four yellows and needed just one more, but Katie and I had both discarded some yellows earlier in the game to make room in our hand for other cards, so we were worried that they might all be gone.  On Katie's turn, she draws Miami while she's sitting in Atlanta, with seven cards left in the draw pile.  My turn, treat a few leftover disease hotspots in the Middle East, draw cards, five cards left.  Katie's turn again, she drives to Miami, dispatches me to her location, trades me Miami, and draws two cards.  On my turn, I drive to Atlanta and cure yellow to win the game, with just three cards left in the draw pile.

We both had a lot of fun.  I certainly enjoy Dominion and Memoir '44 more, amongst others.  I am not sure if that's because I prefer direct interaction against each other or if I would prefer a different type of cooperative game.  As much as Katie loved this cooperative game though, we'll definitely be picking up others in the future, and we'll find out if it's just this game or cooperative games in general that I'm ho-hum about.  Katie raved for a little while after our game about how much she enjoyed it, so I think this may be a new favorite for her.  Her only complaint the whole night was that the board seemed really small.

Fast forward another week, Pandemic was one of the games that we brought on the trip to see family.  We played an introductory game (only four epidemic cards) with four players, and as the fifth player, I sat on the sidelines and took on the role of bad guy by handling all of the infection cards at the end of everyone's turn.

Katie was the Medic, my brother-in-law was the Operations Manager, my sister was the Researcher, and my mom was the Dispatcher.  It was really quite interesting to be on the sidelines and watch how everyone interacted throughout the game.  At first nobody was communicating, just running around and doing their own thing.  A couple of back-to-back outbreaks following the first epidemic set everyone into a panic and got them all talking back and forth.  They began planning a turn or two ahead to prevent further outbreaks.  At one point, you would have thought they were literally trying to save the world, as tensions ran high with quick tempers.  I found it quite entertaining, though I think it was rather stressful for the folks playing the game.

After a slow start, they cured yellow and black, had five red cards in one person's hand and four blues in another person's hand, with a turn and a half left to win the game when the eighth outbreak hit, causing everyone to lose.  The final outbreak came courtesy of one of the diseases they had already cured, but not cleaned up after.  They would have been within a turn of running out of cards, but nonetheless won had it not been for that outbreak.  A very tight and close game.

Pandemic is not a favorite game of mine, but I must admit that it makes for a terrific social experiment.  The game was also moving at a snail's pace, each turn was running about 10 minutes long.  Probably a necessary evil to be successful in the game with this group of people, and had they started the plodding pace of plotting earlier on, they probably would have won.  Still, with such a long game, I don't know if it would have been worth the win.  All of my family seemed to agree that, while quite an experience, it was much too stressful and they'll probably pass on playing it in the future.

Two-player games, at least with just Katie and I, run much quicker and Pandemic games in general seem to be easier with fewer player anyway.  This will still see some playing time with just the two of us, but I don't think we'll reintroduce it to the casual board gaming crowd any time soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Dominion

Board games have become a staple of life for Katie and I lately.  It provides us some bonding time while Katie unwinds from a stressful work day and I recover from tedious hours of job searching and filling out applications.  So, I figured I would share a few of the games we have been playing, how to play them, and who has been slaughtering who. ;)  First up...

Rio Grande Games

My Rating: 4/5

Dominion was a unique pick-up for us, as we had not previously played any board/card game quite like this before.  Stick with me here as I dig a little bit deeper.

I grew up playing the Pokemon: Trading Card Game and enjoy the online console versions of Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers.  In these collectible/trading card games, you buy booster packs (like packs of baseball/football cards) to add cards to your collection.  Once you get so many cards, you begin crafting and managing decks of cards to compete and play against other players.  Just managing your deck brings in a lot of intricate strategy to the game before you ever take to the competitive playing field.  For example, you have to balance out your creatures just right... if you have too many cheap guys, chances are you will not hold up in the end stages of the game, if you have too many expensive guys, chances are you will not be able to afford to play them and get overrun at the beginning of the game.  Another example, you are always searching for the ideal "mana curve," the balance between your action/creature cards and your mana/land/energy cards.  If not carefully balanced, you'll end up with a bunch of action/creature cards and no way to play them, or a bunch of mana/land/energy and nothing to use it on.

Dominion takes all of these intricate mechanics and creates an entire game based on deck-building.  In Dominion, you are a monarch responsible for building and developing your kingdom (i.e. your deck of cards).  Every player starts with the exact same ten cards: Seven coppers (worth one treasure each) and three estates (worth one victory point each).  In the middle of the table is a collection of cards known as the supply.  Each player, with the exact same options to choose from as everyone else, purchases cards from the supply with the coppers in their hand to further develop their deck.  The goal is to have the most victory points in your deck at the end of the game.

The gameplay itself is quite simple.  You start with five cards in hand, and your hand consists of three phases, conveniently labelled ABC.

A) Action phase: You may play 1 action card that you drew
B) Buy phase: You may buy 1 card from the supply with treasure cards
C) Clean-up phase: Your entire hand goes into the discard pile

You draw five more cards, and when your draw pile runs out, you shuffle your discard pile back into the draw pile.

There are three types of cards in the supply that you can purchase: Treasure cards, Victory cards, and Kingdom cards.

There will always be at least three types of Treasure cards in the supply:
Copper - Costs 0 treasure, worth 1 treasure
Silver - Costs 3 treasure, worth 2 treasure
Gold - Costs 6 treasure, worth 3 treasure

There will always be at least three types of Victory cards in the supply:
Estate - Costs 2 treasure, worth 1 victory point
Duchy - Costs 5 treasure, worth 3 victory points
Province - Costs 8 treasure, worth 6 victory points

Of course, it would be far too simple to just race each other and see who can buy the most victory cards.  You see, the victory cards are not worth a thing until the end of the game.  The issue should be clear here, if you stock up on victory cards early on and you only get to draw draw five cards, the victory cards will choke your deck and render you unable to buy other cards from the supply, much less ever afford the more expensive victory cards.

This brings us to the basic card type in the supply: Kingdom cards.  You typically have ten different types of Kingdom cards available in the supply, and this is where all of the fun comes in.  Take these three cards for example.  The Smithy card allows you to draw extra cards on your turn.  The Militia card gives you two more treasure to spend in your buy phase and allows you to attack the other players, forcing them to discard cards from their hand.  The Laboratory card gives you additional actions and allows you to play more cards on your turn.

Now you can see, it is not a contest to see who can grab victory cards the fastest, but rather a contest of who can figure out potential combos within the Kingdom cards to make their deck more efficient than everyone else's.  Take the example above, look what happens if I buy several Laboratory and Smithy cards from the supply.  I can play a Laboratory card in my action phase that lets me do additional actions and allows me to also play a Smithy card on the same turn.  Now I get three extra cards to draw, and what happens if I draw another Laboratory?  I get even more actions.  What if I draw another Smithy as well?  Even more cards to draw.  It's possible, with the right combination of cards, that I could draw through my entire deck in one turn.  What does that accomplish?  Well, if I am also buying silver and gold from the supply, that means that I now have access to all of the treasure in my deck.  Throw in a Market card that allows multiple purchases, and all of a sudden I may be able to buy two Provinces in one turn.

What about people who play the game frequently?  Wouldn't they memorize all the potential combinations between the ten Kingdom cards and know which ones work best?  Wouldn't the game eventually just become a race for certain Kingdom cards?  And that is where Dominion's last twist comes in.  There are actually twenty-five Kingdom cards that come with the game, and you randomly select just ten of those to play with.  This adds a ton of variety to the game, and you are never allowed to rely on specific combos, as those cards you rely on might not show up for the next game.  Thus, Dominion becomes a game of thinking on your feet and making decisions on the fly.

You can tell why I like this game.  Everyone starts with the same deck, everyone has the same decisions available to them, and there is very little luck involved in the game at all.  The game is almost always decided by whom the faster thinker is that can make their deck the most efficient on the fly.  So, I am going to kick butt at this game and win all the time, right?

Game 1
Katie: 51
Matt: 30

Game 2
Katie: 37
Matt: 49

Game 3
Katie: 36
Matt: 50

Game 4
Katie: 45 
Matt: 42

Game 5
Katie: 42
Matt: 36

Game 6
Katie: 40
Matt: 39

So, there you have it, I was down two games to four when we started our seventh game, which I recapped below so you can get a feel for the flow of the game.  It seems as though the first three games were learning experiences with large margins of victory (average: just under 16 pts/game).  In the following three games, the margins of victory dropped (average: just under 3 pts/game) and the games were much closer with me losing all three!

Having played through all of the recommended pre-sets in the instruction manual, we shuffled the randomizer cards and set out 10 random sets of Kingdom cards.  The first card that catches my eye as we look over our selection in the supply is the Gardens card.  The Gardens is an additional Victory card that costs just 4 treasure and gives you a victory point for every 10 cards in your deck.  Thus, if you manage to get 60 cards in your deck, a Gardens card is worth as much as a Province for half the price.  My first instinct then is to buy up as many of the Gardens as I can while going for a big deck.

The majority of the Kingdom cards I picked up were Workshops and Cellars, which I balanced with treasure cards.  Workshops cost 3 treasure and allow you to gain another card costing up to 4 treasure for free.  Thus, any time I got a Workshop into play, I was able to gain two cards per hand.  The negative effect of going after Gardens cards early is they do not do anything in your hand.  To compensate for this, I picked up a few Cellar cards.  The Cellar lets you discard cards from your hand and draw new ones, a nice solution for dumping useless victory cards and hopefully getting more treasure to buy stuff with.

When I began using the Workshops to grab Gardens, in addition to purchasing a second card (even if it was free copper), Katie quickly caught on to my strategy and saw that I was trying to rush through all the Gardens.  She normally works up an elaborate + Actions/+ Cards engine, but she abandoned this in favor of going straight for treasure cards, a big money strategy to clean out the Provinces before I got to them.

We did realize at the end of the game that I had mistakenly dropped the whole pile of Gardens into the game without counting them.  I thought there would be 10 in the set, like the rest of the Kingdom cards, but it appears there are 12 in the set, like the rest of the Victory cards.  Without looking at the rules, I assume that (for a two-player game) we were actually only supposed to put 8 Gardens into the Supply.  Oops!  This may have slightly inflated our scores for this game, if nothing else.

Anyway, in hindsight, looking back at my deck and the available cards and how I might have changed things, I believe my mistake was not picking up enough treasure to balance out the Workshops and Gardens.  My deck began getting choked with victory cards and I often had to settle for buying the free Copper instead of higher-quality cards.  My deck consistently grew as desired, however my buying power was constantly low and I picked up a minimal amount of Gold and Provinces.  Because of this, Katie was able to effectively buy up most of the Provinces with little competition.

I knew going into the end of the game that it was going to be close, and figured that it would come down to how many cards I had in my deck.  If I managed to get 60 cards and make my Gardens worth as much as her Provinces, I should win.  She grabbed the last Province, and we began tallying our cards up.  I had 56 cards, just shy of the 60 mark that I believed I needed.

Victory Points in Matt's Deck
2 x Provinces = 12 pts
9 x Gardens (5 pts ea for my deck) = 45 pts
3 x Duchies = 9 pts
5 x Estates = 5 pts
Total: 71 points

That was a great deal higher than we had ever scored before, but I knew I was at the bottom of a 2-6 Province split and this was still going to be close.

Victory Points in Katie's Deck
6 x Provinces = 36 pts
3 x Gardens (4 pts ea for her deck) = 12 pts
5 x Duchies = 15 pts
8 x Estates = 8 pts
Total: 71 points

Yep, all those points and, unbelievably, we tied 71-71.  I just needed four more cards in my deck to win 80-71.  Sigh.  =)  Since I started the game and Katie ended it on her turn, we ended up with the same amount of turns and thus no tiebreaker.

Series History
Katie: 4-2-1
Matt: 2-4-1

And that's Dominion for you.  There are several expansion packs out that add to the 25 sets of Kingdom cards in the base game, giving you more Dominion game variants than you could possibly play through in a life time (last count, courtesy of the BoardGameGeek forum: 81,572,506,886,508... that's well over 81 trillion potential Kingdom card sets).  So, clearly, if you enjoy Dominion's gameplay concept, you will never run into a lack of replayability issue.

In a couple short weeks, this has already become a favorite game of ours, and I look forward to more Dominion session reports as I (hopefully) close the small lead Katie has on me so far. ;)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: They're Only Chasing Safety

Here's my kiss to betray...
...desperate to brush the lips of grace

Underoath: They're Only Chasing Safety

This release from Underoath is quite different from their earlier albums to say the least.  I personally fell victim to not hearing Underoath until they started gaining popularity with this release, so it is difficult for me in retrospect to go back and listen to the older albums when this one has such clean vocals.  Their music is definitely not as metal as it has been previously, but it is very successful at what it tries to be.  The screaming/singing dynamic is splendid here... the screaming will send those unaccustomed to it running, while the choruses on almost every song are downright infectious and will have you singing them to yourself over and over again.

Most of the lyrics revolve around relationships and related struggles.  Underoath is not shy about the issues they are addressing, and they do not hold back from singing about lust and the associated regrets that come from giving in to temptation.  It is a subject that many artists will not breach, though one that Christians must frequently learn to deal and cope with.  The lyrics also hold true to that of earlier albums, in that they shamelessly use Jesus' name when singing to him; whereas similar bands may be tempted to make only veiled references throughout their music.

The album is very short as, excluding The Blue Note (an instrumental track), there are only nine tracks here.  Fortunately enough, every track holds its own weight.  I really could not be pressed to find any one song that I like significantly less than any of the others.  This is certainly a pristine example of quality over quantity.

My Highlights:  Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White, It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door, Some Will Seek Forgiveness Others Escape

Glass shatters and comes to a halt
I thought we'd be there by now
I thought it would be so much quicker than this
Pain has never been so brilliant
I made sure you were buckled in
Now you can walk hand in hand with Him

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1989 Video Games

Feeling nostalgic?  I have!  So since I have been going back and replaying some older titles, I figured I would share my thoughts on some of 1989's biggest video game hits.  I'll start off with my top ten list, followed by some brief reviews/ratings.

My Favorite Video Games from 1989
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES)
9. Adventures of Lolo (NES)
8. Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES)
7. River City Ransom (NES)
6. Batman (NES)

5. Little Ninja Brothers (NES)

4. DuckTales (NES)

3. The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (NES)

2. Minesweeper (PC)

1. North & South (NES)

See more of my lists, reviews, and ratings here!

Adventures of Lolo (NES): 3/5
Interesting puzzle game, mildly entertaining, if only for a bit.

Back to the Future (NES): 1/5
Yuck.  This may be the worst film-to-game adaption ever.

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (NES): 4/5
A fun little 2D platformer, quite entertaining, especially at a young age.

North & South (NES): 4/5
One of my favorite early strategy games, it's a unique hybrid with turn-based moves followed by real-time battles.

River City Ransom (NES): 3/5
Beat 'em up games have never exactly been a favorite genre of mine, but this is one of the best from this generation.

Strider (NES): 3/5
I really enjoyed the combat and platforming aspects of this title, however it is quite annoying to sit through the same opening cutscene repeatedly without being able to skip it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES): 3/5
Combat is fun and involving, but some horrific level design in certain spots nearly ruins the game.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, The Arcade Game (NES): 3/5
I actually prefer the combat in the first NES TMNT game more, but I prefer this game as a whole due to the other's awful platforming mechanics.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Top Ten: Most Anticipated Movies of 2012

And... we're back!  I decided that it's time I start writing more, and what better way than to reduce the amount of top ten lists and reviews off my Facebook timeline and bring them here.  Without further ado, I present my first top ten list of many to come:

#10. Prometheus

#9. The Bourne Legacy

#8. Brave

#7. The Hunger Games

#6. Skyfall

#5. The Amazing Spider-Man

#4. John Carter

#3. The Avengers

#2. The Dark Knight Rises


#1. The Hobbit

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lucifer: Bunny-Throwing-Extraordinaire

I was doing my normal four-mile run around the base again right at dusk tonight. And in the middle of the haze, a huge something jumped out of the bushes in the middle of a lengthy stretch that I normally sprint through... it messed up my pace, took my focus off the goal, basically completely threw me off track and knocked precious seconds off my time. That huge something happened to be a native Iraqi jackrabbit that was nearly the size of me.

So... how many bunnies has the devil thrown into your spiritual walk recently?

Anyway, one of the most difficult things that I must deal with here is the homesickness... and the constant reminder, in the form of not-so-friendly explosive projectiles falling from the sky, that I might not make it home. I’ve been reminded over the past few days that no matter where I am or what I’m going through, God is always here with me... and no matter how far I get from that physical location that I call home, the one who cares about me the most is here with me now.

Is this the whole picture?
Or is it just the start?
Is this the way You love me?
You're capturing my heart

I used to try and walk alone
But I've begun to grow
And when You tell me just to rest
I'm finally letting go

I'm seeing so much clearer
Looking through Your eyes
I could never find a safer place
Even if I tried

All the times I've needed You
You've never left my side
I'm clinging to Your every word
Don't ever let me go

I'm here to stay, nothing can separate us
You cradle me gently, wrapped in Your arms
I'm home

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Three Times Denied

As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”
-Romans 9:33-

Is this one for the people?
Is this one for the Lord?
Or do I simply serenade
The things I must afford?

You can jumble them together
My conflict still remains
Holiness is calling
In the midst of courting fame

I see the trust in their eyes
Though the sky is falling
They need Your love in their lives
Compromise is calling

Father, please forgive me
For I cannot compose
The fear that lives within me
Or the rate at which it grows

If struggle has a purpose
On the narrow road You've carved
Why do I dread my trespasses
Will leave a deadly scar?

Do they see the fear in my eyes?
Are they so revealing?
This time I cannot disguise
All the doubt I'm feeling

What if I stumble?
What if I fall?
What if I lose my step
And I make fools of us all?

Will the love continue
When my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble
And what if I fall?

I hear You whispering my name
You say "My love for you will never change"

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
You never turn in the heat of it all
What if I stumble, what if I fall?
You are my comfort and my God

Well, I started writing this a couple of weeks ago in the middle of a night on a cot in Baghdad. At the time, I found myself digging through Luke, back to a passage I’d heard a few weeks ago back in Oklahoma. It was a message on being committed... and the cost of that commitment for those who were truly dedicated.

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”

And Jesus said to Him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Then he said to another, “Follow me.”

But he said to another, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”

But Jesus also said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
-Luke 9:57-62-

Three men approach Jesus wishing to follow Him and become His disciples... yet all three are denied. Why, and what can I learn from that?

Each of the men wanted to maintain a hold on specific parts of their life and were not willing to commit wholeheartedly to Him. God desires ALL of us or none of us.

The first man boldly proclaims that he wants to follow Jesus wherever they are going. Jesus responds by pointing out that neither He or any of His disciples had homes of their own, and that any who desired to follow Him must give up such things that many consider necessary. The first man says that he’ll follow Christ to the ends of the earth, but he turns away when he hears that the cost of following Christ is denying himself. Many people during this period of time believed that Christ had come to earth to establish a physical (though temporary) kingdom there. This man likely imagined that he would do well to be with Jesus as he established this kingdom. I don’t think many of us pursue Christ solely for material gain... but when the cost of total commitment is the physical (temporary!) objects and belongings that we hold onto in this world, it becomes a sacrifice that many of us are not willing to make.

The second man is actually called by Jesus to follow Him, but instead lets his love for his family delay his desire to follow Christ. In my brief amount of studying, this man’s reply has several different interpretations. I’m no scholar and I should probably enlist my sister’s knowledge of Greek here but... I’ll give it a go. From what I have read, it makes the most sense during this period of time... if his father had already died, he would have already been involved in the burial procedure. It appears more likely to me that his father was near death and this man wanted to wait until his father passed away, before he left to follow Jesus.

Our love and desire for Him should be so much that our love for our family looks like hatred in comparison. Jesus tells the man to let the (spiritually) dead bury the (physically) dead, but instead he allows his love for his family to weaken his love for Christ; and puts off pursuit of the eternal kingdom of God for a temporary relationship with his father.

The third man, much like the second, also let family ties interfere, “Lord, I will follow Thee; but...” Anybody seeing anything wrong with this statement? When a loving farewell gets in the way of obeying Christ, it becomes sin. The third man would be looking back instead of ahead, his heart never wholly with Christ; hence Jesus’ comment on plowing and never looking back.

At the time that these men attempted to join Jesus, He was on His way to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, He would be flogged, mocked, crucified, and finally take on the sins of the world and be separated from God the Father, ultimately conquering the grave and resurrecting three days later. This is the one most crucial point of time that defines all of history, and God would have used any of these three men during this period... if only they had been willing to totally commit themselves. Instead, they chose to hold onto temporary relationships and objects.

None of us know what God has in store for each and every one of us when we dedicate our lives, possessions, relationships, everything completely to Him and for Him.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
-Luke 14:25-35-