Libbey Tumbler “Cities of the World” Glasses

I like to visit garage sales, and estate sales, and thrift stores, and a bunch of other sales. There are many things I like about these places/events, but one of my favorite is finding interesting things I never even knew existed, especially if I can use or display them in an interesting way.

I found one such set of things at an estate sale. I was generally looking around. There was a lot of stuff, but most of it I wasn’t interested in, though that’s sometimes a good thing because it makes me pay attention to find what I want. I was looking in the glassware, which is something I don’t usually do, and I saw a set of glasses with city names on them, and interesting graphics. I liked a few in particular, but I hate to split a set, so I bought them all.


The glasses themselves were interesting, but I couldn’t figure out the theme. I soon started looking for them online. I can’t help but look for stories in what I buy. I can sometimes accept that a Chinese deck of cards has no story, but not glasses like these, even though in this case I could find no information. This is a problem I typically run into (and one I ran into more recently in reverse when I tried to find Chinese chess sets). I just don’t use the right words in my searches. And the glasses (or most items really) provided no information as to what they were.

In these cases I usually resort to Google image search and try to identify what I have visually. I finally came across a helpful blog post (Link) discovered they were Libbey Cities of the World series glasses, the tumbler version of sets that included “Old Fashioned” and goblet versions. But I was intrigued. I don’t like finding out a partial story, and the set of glasses I kept seeing had Havana in it, but my set has Nassau. I did more digging and discovered that the “theme” of the glasses was the world’s fair, but that’s pretty loose, and I ended up digging back through 50’s back issues of the Libbey catalogue (fortunately available online from the company) to find when they came out. I found out the year they came out (I’ve forgotten now: great article, Austin!) and that they did indeed originally have Havana on all three sets of glassware.


Eventually, after more digging, and even more (I’m bad at using the internet, so things like this take me a long time) I found that the glass sets waned in popularity late in the 50’s and early 60’s. The non-tumbler versions were discontinued and when the Cuban revolution happened, and Havana was bad press, they replaced the city (with a comparable one). So my set is a “complete” set of the rarer version of a fairly rare set of glassware (really only rare because glasses tend to break). I’ve seen a couple photos of “complete” collections of the early lines, but they don’t have Nassau, and that makes me feel quite special. To have a really complete set of 8, you need 9, but that would make display a little awkward.

So, from one purchase I had an afternoon’s worth of fun sorting through the internet, and I had a fairly unique set of glasses, and now I have an article. I do plan on using the glasses, though not heavily, or at parties like I read online some people did (I couldn’t stand it if they got broken, especially by someone who isn’t me). Not that I won’t let people use them, glasses are meant to be used, just not these ones at parties. And they’ll make a great conversation piece. Hopefully I don’t hear too many opinions about the Cuban revolution because of them. I’d also love to get the full set with Havana, and the other two styles at some point. I guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled. I might even write a little update.

Board Game Creation Blogging Part 1 – Inception to Prototyping

I’m making a board game, and I run this blog, so I thought I could combine the two to write this blog post about making a board game.

I don’t know why I thought making a board game would be a good idea, but it seemed the most do-able project in my project lineup, aside from what I was already doing. In hindsight, this might not have been the case, but I think that making a board game might be one of the more rewarding things I’ll be doing for a bit, because it has immediate and highly tangible results. I like being near the end of a project and looking over the things I made and saying “Yes, I made these”. (Which, with the smallest number of games being 1000, might put me in a little over my head, but that’s a good thing.)

I’d say I started about a year and half ago. I’d graduated from high school two years early, and no longer had a chess partner (one of the few benefits of my forced interaction with people my age) and I wasn’t planning to go to college for a while. So I was just looking online a lot and drawing a bunch of comics, which I still consider my primary occupation. I had gotten on the fringes of the board game world when I had been looking up chess variants and other abstract strategy games (which I still love but getting only one other person to play them is kinda awkward). I decided to dive full into board games and got some of the most recommended beginner games (Pandemic) and some not so recommended games (Diplomacy). Quickly I discovered that while I was thinking about board games a lot, I didn’t have much time to play them. (My poker group was still a poker group and not the mini-gaming-group it is today. So I made up a bunch of designs for board games. The first was one I made for my mother’s birthday, which will show up later. But the main one was a historical game inspired by the Roman Empire. I had been learning quite a lot about the Romans (another hobby), and really wanted a game that captured the feeling of a late republican setting, which I found to my dismay during research was not available, at least how I wanted it.

So in the summer of 2013 I quickly made a prototype of my Roman game (Original code name) which at the time was really just cobbled together from other games that I’d played (Battlestar Galactica, Pandemic, Risk), seen (Eight Minute Empire, Cosmic Encounter), or had an idea of making (The board specifically was cannibalized from a Roman conquest game I still have plans for, although the boards are now quite different and will only get more so with development). I played it a few times with my family and friends, to which to response was a general “meh”. But I took “meh” on a first time prototype (a seriously bad one filled with inconstancies, spelling errors, and having almost no artwork for a very thematic game) by a guy who had absolutely no idea what he was doing as a sign that I had something good to work with here.

Seriously I played on this board several times.

Seriously I played on this board several times.

So I spent the next few months working on the game on and off. I had to stop several times because of important dates in my not-at-all lucrative comics business, and I tried building websites with no advertising plan in a small town. I heavily refined the game’s mechanics (mechanisms for snobs), wrote down actual rules, moved into a workable office space, made a good-looking board, and was just about to make better looking cards in January. I declared that I would playtest the game and have a Kickstarter launched by the end of February. My body’s immediate response to that plan was a month’s worth of migraines. At the middle of March I barely had the artwork done, so I decided to just order a prototype and see what information I could dig up. I did get to re-introduce the game to my friends, whose response went from “meh” to “man this is really cool!”. Unfortunately after that I got hit with a very bad cold and didn’t do my research (i.e. Why there isn’t a preview of my game by some well-watched game reviewers, etc.). But I did get a wonderful prototype at the end of it. Which I made a video about.

I think the new board might have helped

I went with the Game Crafter ( to make my prototype for several reasons. The first and foremost is that it is very well known, and generally the most well-known producers make the most money and can afford to have the little touches it takes to make a high-quality product. Also, I considered the possibility of the planned Kickstarter failing, and me simply publishing the game through the already-uploaded files on the Game Crafter website, a proposition that seems less and less attractive, but might end up being the case if things go particularly badly. For these two reasons that are highly intertwined, I used the Game Crafter and only took a tiny glance at other platforms I could use for prototyping. I think, though, with the quality of components I got that I made the right decision.

I got several copies of the game, one of which is still wrapped and one is currently with me, being played by friends who now really like the game (of course it has negotiation elements, which can leave a sour taste in people’s mouths if played too much or in too long a game). I also got some other people to play-test it, to which to response was (and from my friends as well) “this is good, but the rules need some work”, which is what that phase of the process is for, so I can’t say it was a failure.

With this little bit of information in hand I dove in to the “Looking for a Manufacturer” phase which will be covered in the next post. I know I didn’t cover everything there is to cover here and I hope to cover some of the details more in-depth in later posts. If there is any particular part of the process you’d like to know about please leave a comment and I’ll move that closer to the top of my “to get done” list.

Creating the Roman Empire in an Iphone Game

Well, sometimes I’m bored. And when I’m bored I sometimes play games on my phone, one of which is “Age of Conquest”. I Quite Like it. It’s like Risk, but with a little more realism for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong: Risk is fun, but it’s not the same without people. This is a perfect phone game as you can’t actually do it on a real board, or it would be insanely difficult.

Sometimes though, I get bored playing the thing that is supposed to make me not bored, because I’m…

So I decided to make an as-accurate-as-possible map of the maximum extent of all Roman empires in the game. I took pictures and stitched them together into this.

roman empire map in an iphone game

Now it’s important to note that this is the maximum extent of all Roman empires, including the Holy Roman Empire. It also encompasses all times, meaning any territory gained at any point is on the map.

I’m not sure if this map is supposed to tell you anything, or teach, or provoke any thoughts. I just thought it was a fun little experiment to see how accurately I could reconstruct history in a limited video game. The answer is surprisingly accurate, though I guess the game has the world sectioned off quite well for these purposes.

I really don’t have anything else to say about this. I just wanted to share this little thing with you. I hope you get at least some enjoyment out of my little map.