Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gaming at dragon's lair, 2/27

I got there around 5:30 and Jeff was already there looking around. Jon and Chad showed up quickly thereafter and we got into a game of Atlantic Storm. It is a trick taking game with frequent opportunities to backstab. Chad immediately took a huge lead and despite my valiant efforts to table talk the rest of the group into working together and taking him down, he ended up almost doubling each of us.

Next was a game of Fury of Dracula. It has the Scotland Yard hidden movement thing for Dracula except he is the one who is more limited in movement. To counteract this, Dracula can kick your butt as I found out very early. Dennis, Jon, Jeff, and I played the vampire hunters, while Chad played Dracula.

The game started slowly over the first few turns. Jon, Jeff and I were exploring Western Europe, while Dennis covered ground in Eastern Europe. Then right around the first nightfall, newspaper reports pinpointed Dracula's trail in Western Europe, right around the middle of the three of us. He moved immediately, but his options were limited. I happened to move on him, and unaware of how poorly equipped I was to take on Dracula at night, foolhardedly charged into battle. After losing almost all my life, I retreated and licked my wounds to wait for next time. Next time wasn't far off unfortunately. Dracula used a double move during his movement and so feeling safe moving only one, I moved to Berlin to restock and reload for a daytime assault. It was a double cross and once again I ran face first into Dracula in the middle of the night. This time, I wasn't so lucky and ended up in the Hospital after suffering my final 3 wounds.

It turned out my duty was done at this point. Dracula's trail never went cold again, and the following dawn was his last (it turned out to be a veeeery long day). A stake through the heart by Jeff ended the reign of terror.

Finally we played A Game of Thrones. Alot of the mechanics seemed to be heavily borrowing from Diplomacy, but there are alot of changes. I ended up being the noble Starks and ended up only interacting with my nearest neighbor, Jon Greyjoy. It would have been interesting to have a little bit more diplomacy in this diplomacy descendant. As it was, there was very little supporting of outside conflicts. The game seemed to end very quickly with the Baratheons (Chad) running to a decisive victory.

A nice night, and sorry Simon, I would have been happy to give up my spot in that last game.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Get Over the Hump! Gaming 3/1

I recently picked up Ingenious while at DLair in Austin. I had a really good sit down with David, the owner. He has got to be one of the finest game store owners I have ever met. Anyways, if you wanna give it a try, or any other game, drop by my place.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Monday 2/27 Gaming!

Since no event has been posted, I'll be the first to suggest a Monday night gaming session at our friendly neighborhood Dragon's Lair. I'll arrive at 8:30 as usual and I'll also be sure to bring my copy of PitchCar with expansion. I'm not sure if I want to kick up the league yet, but we can always get in some practice. Any thoughts?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friends will be Friends...

Last night we broke out "Fiese Freunde, Fette Feten" (aka "Funny Friends" aka "Mean Friends, Hot Parties" aka "Freaky Friends F*&#ing Furiously"), Friedman Friese's game of life. And what a life. I started out as a schoolyard intellectual (chain smoking, discussion current events), then became a drunken pig, all before graduation. I was a workaholic freak, kicked my smoking habit, published my memoirs, and reconverted an out lesbian. (No doubt why my book sold so well).

Still, my life couldn't compare to Michaels, who had a happy marriage (after lots of casual sex), then dumped his wife to become a priest and fulfilled all of his life's goals. ("Lord give me chastity and continence, but not yet." -- St. Augustine)

So this isn't the Game of Life you remember.

FFFF is what I call an 'experience' game. As a game, it may or may not work, but as an experience it's pretty good. Usually, experience games are played for the funny combinations of events that occur. So I'll always remember the game of Illuminati where the Moral Minority was controlled by the Church of Satan (Reformed). Or the game of Wiz-War where 5 players were one turn from victory, and then the sixth player (several turns, apparently) won through an amazing combination of mindcontrol and telekenisis.

So, FFFF is funny, and a good experience. I don't think it's a great game, though. The rules are fiddly (I spent some time this morning reading the rules questions on BGG to figure out just how much we got wrong), and it's a touch long. It has it's good points and bad points. Just like life.

We also wheeled and dealed in Chinatown building up our buffets, antique stores, laundry mats, and herbal pharmacies. This was a close game, but not for me. Amy narrowly edged out Michael, the rest of us eking out a comfortable living compared to their obscene wealth.

Finally, the big discovery of the night (for me, anyway) was No Thanks! aka Geschenkt. This cute little game probably takes 5 minute to play ... if you have to stop and explain the rules. A near perfect game when you are waiting for one more or wrapping up the evening.

We'll probably be hosting next friday, so mark your calendars!

Ode to the Dice Tower

<<Disclaimer: Though the thoughts in my posting are genuine, I was in part shamefully motivated by the desire to gain entry into The Dice Tower's most recent contest.>>

Without a doubt, The Dice Tower is my favorite board gaming podcast. Their commentary, rants, top-ten lists, and reviews are always amusing, informative, and thought provolking. One aspect of the show I enjoy is how relevant their topics of discussion seem to be to the interests of our local group. For instance, their most recent episode (#39) featured a review of Twilight Struggle; a discussion of Pitch Car; the challenges of applying stickers to C&C: Ancients blocks; and top-ten lists on block games and racing games, all of which are current topics within our group.

I've mentioned in the past how I listen to the podcast while jogging. This is perhaps a dangerous practice due to the way it seems to seep into your subconcious. For instance, two nights ago I had a vivid dream where I was shopping in a military post exchance (PX) in the toy department looking for board games. Next thing I know, Joe Steadman (one of the hosts of the Dice Tower) come around the corner riding a tricycle and wearing a World War 2 US Army helmet and a Vietnam era flack jacket. Joe starts pointing out games on the shelf he thinks I would like, such as the Yanks and Paratrooper modules of ASL, Up Front, and Atlantic Storm, all of which were, amazingly, for sale. My dream ends with me loading up my cart and thanking him.... I'm considering seeking counseling.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Friday Night Gaming

Jacqui and I will again host people tomorrow night from 7pm to whenever! Drop a note in the comment thread if you are going to attend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Impromptu gaming.... 2/21-2/22

So having played for a full day on Monday wasn't enough. I had a very positive response to my post saying that I was off this week, and that I could play some more during the day this week. So Tuesday Simon and Michael came by my house around noon. Michael and I played Battle Line and Confrontation until Simon showed up.

Battle Line was a quick an intense game with Michael scoring 3 flags almost in a row before I won my first. It ended 5-4 Michael.

Confrontation.... I won the first game, Michael the second. On the first, I was lucky killing Frodo really early in the game. On the second, I left this big gaping hole towards Mordor that I just couldn't cover, and Frodo just swept by. I've still to try it with the "super special" magic cards.

Tigris and Euphrates... Like my wife says, "you never win on those games that you so passionately explain to others". I ended last, with a very close game between Simon and Michael (another one for Michael after tie breaker).

And last but not least, Carcassonne the City. I'm very pleased with this light-but-deep self-contained (no expansions needed) Carcassonne version. Many ways to score, and some occurring during the later phases of the game (so managing meeples carefully is key). Michael once again won, BUT ONLY because he mooched from my 22 point civilian meeple! I tried to have majority of meeples where he so blatantly decided to mooch from, but it was towards the end of the game and the last few tiles didn't help me achieve this. I came in second behind by 12 points (or so).

So today I decided to make a hard hard decision.... I need to take a looong break from my addiction (hobby). Today I realized that I've had it. I'm tired. I will to stop playing, or even think about games, and dedicate myself to other things for......................... 24hrs. I sure hope I can make it. 'Til then....

Capture the Flag

A group of us gathered at Dragon’s Lair today at 1:00pm to have a daylight board game session (a very rare occurrence). We decided to take on Doom: The Board Game, but there was to many of us to attempt the campaign mode, so we decided to play a game of Capture the Flag and split into two teams.

The Red team:
Michael (who played two characters) and Rob formed this deadly team.

The Blue team:
Simon, Jeff and I formed this team.

The game started off slow because everyone was just trading kills and neither team was able to gain any significant amount of ground. With one of his characters Michael was able to capture the blue flag, but a rocket slammed into him knocking him back, and a grenade brought him down. The blue flag was than safely returned to it's home.

The game had no change in status until Simon and Jeff were able to make it into the Red base and started battling with the Red team. The Red team quickly moved all of their forces to try to suppress this invasion force and managed to kill both of them, but not without taking a casualty.

While this was going on I was sprinting to the opposite side of the Red base to try and sneak in while they were busy dealing with Simon and Jeff. I managed to make it into the Red base, and I made a mad dash to grab the flag right out from under Michael’s nose and ran right outside of the Red base barely holding onto life. Simon than sacrificed himself by blocking the teleporter so those left inside the Red base could not come out after me.

At this point Jeff had respawned and he was racing down a long hallway to try and help me make it back to the base. The Red team was one move away from killing me and retrieving their flag and it was Jeff’s turn. Jeff was forced to team kill me and than got the flag around a corner and out of the Red team’s range. From this point he was home free and sprinted back to the base with his prize in hand.

I had a good time playing the Capture the Flag portion of Doom, but it was far to hard to score with these rules. The only reason the Blue team won was because of a series of bad roles made by the Red team.

Wed Night

I know this is last minute, but if anyone wants to play something tonight, let me know. 2 player, multi-player, whatever. My place is not great tonight, but it's possible. I could drive to DL, but I don't know their Wed schedule.

You guys that had Monday off should consider yourself lucky. I spent the day in the test cell with my engine. I like the overall project, but it can be pretty dull waiting for everything to settle out to equilibrium.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Monday 2/20 at Dragon's Lair

Despite my initial thoughts that I would easily get up at 9 to be there right as everything opened up, when the alarm went off I couldn't bring myself to get up so I arrived about an hour and a half into the Doom game. I made a quick dash to the four kill limit because of the awesome special abilities I drew when I got there but couldn't finish the job as Jeff pulled out his fifth kill against Ben before I could find any more action. BFG is pretty freakin rude.

I liked Doom alot. I would love to try CTF, campaign or deathmatch again. I had a potential variant in mind that might mitigate the luck of the cards we got that gave us special abilities. Perhaps at the start of the game we could deal out cards enough for the players+1 then have an auction where the bids are in bonus frags positive or negative. The player who wins none of the cards at auction would take one of the remaining two with no penalty or bonus. I dunno, it sounded reasonable to me, because if I had been there to start with the same cards, I think my dumb luck of drawing those in particular could outweigh skillful play.

A similar thing could be done except with teams bidding flag captures on cards for CTF. I dunno just an idea.

After lunch, Arkham Horror hit the table x2. Ben, Simon, Jon and myself at one table, Dennis, Chad, Jeff and Rob at the other. They managed to win really quickly with no problem while we struggled. We quickly sealed four portals, but struggled to get the last two closed. Finally, with time literally running out (damn real life), we got the last two closed, no thanks to the colossal choke by the proxy Simon who decided teleporting to the dark woods was better than finishing the job of sealing the portal.

Finally we had a five player game of Coloretto, a quick game that scoring wise seemed a little similar to Palazzo but the other mechanics were totally different. Somehow I pulled out a victory with the insane strategy of feeding Rob and Dennis what they wanted.

A great day and I'm looking forward to the day that Doom and Arkham Horror hit the table again.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Preparing for Mondays marathon over the weekend

After finishing at Jeffs house on Friday, some friends of mine arrived to stay at my house in preparation for a marathon in Austin this morning. When the temperatures went subzero though, we decided to make it a board gaming weekend instead. How does about 28 hours of board games over two days sound.

The big highlight besides the fact that I've had next to no sleep over the past two days was that Tigris and Euphrates hit the table for the first time for all of us. We had a few rules glitches in the first game but had them all ironed out by the second. I haven't rated any games on BGG yet, but tentatively I would have to put it above any other game I've played so that was a pretty nice outcome. I got my butt handed to me in both games of T&E (tied for last and distant second), won a tight game of Powergrid, played about 15 games of High Society with various results, lost my shirt in a couple of no limit tournaments, got backstabbed by a friend nicknamed "the snake" in mission risk (maybe I should have possibly seen that coming) and watched as my wife destroyed us all at Air Baron by using the old be completely non agressive and let the boys destroy eachother strategy to masterful effect.

I will be recuperated by tomorrow morning though so no worries. Can't wait to add another 10-12 hours of gaming in for the long weekend.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Adventures in Egypt - 2/17 Session Report

I'm going to keep this session report brief in an attempt to avoid major errors. Jon, Simon, and Michael joined Amy and myself for another Friday night of Euros.

We got things started with Amun-Re. Pyramids were built, farmers farmed, and sacrifices were made. Fortunately, nobody crapped in my weaving hut, and I was able to squeak out a win over Jon due to the end-of-game gold bonus. While I could definitely see Dr. Knizia's fingerprints on this game, it doesn't feel like a Knizia. I like it, though, and will likely pick up a copy in the future.

We played High Society next. It's another simple, excellent, Knizia auction game with outstanding components. I had the most points at endgame, but I also had the least cash, so Amy got the win. I really like the "least cash at end of game automatically loses" mechanic.

Back to Egypt for our third game -- Ra. It was a tight game from beginning to end. I made a disastrous mis-bid during the third epoch. Jon had the best set of monuments at the end and those points carried him to victory.

We managed to break the string of Knizia games with our closer -- Fearsome Floors. It's too bad there's not a mummy that could have be used as the monster to build on our unintentional Egyptian theme. I purposefully set up the transporters to lead the monster into an early feeding frenzy. The game progressed into the second phase (where death is permanent). Michael was so close to victory that he could taste it, but Jon found a way to lure the monster into eating his token. That blocked Amy, who was breathing down Michael's neck, from winning on that turn, and Jon found a way to feed her token to Furunkulus on his next rampage. I managed to squeak past Mr. Tall Dark and Gruesome for a cheap win on my next turn. A bit of a kingmaker end, but it was highly entertaining.

A good time was had by all, and on another positive note, I didn't call Jon by Simon's name or vice versa all evening.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gargantuan Prep: Arkham Horror, 17 Feb 2006

Tonight I stayed in from the cold and snuggled up with my old chum Cthulhu for a visit to the quaint little town of Arkham Horror. Two heroes, the Magician and the Gangster (both played by me, solo), teamed up to take on Cthulhu's pal Yig. Yig is advertised as the best Ancient One to take on for a short game, and since this was my first time playing he seemed to fit the bill.

The Magician was a strong spell caster, but only mediocre at combat. The Gangster was a one-man wrecking crew, equipped with a machine gun and dynamite at the start of the game. Unfortunately though, the Gangster's maximum sanity is quite low, making him a borderline psychopath and quite vulnerable to losing his mind to the horrors of Arkham.

My initial equipment draws were only so-so. The Magician came up a bottle of Whiskey as his unique item (i.e., almost worthless). The Gangster, on the other hand, picked up a Jewel that added three to his movement, essentially giving him a rocket booster for the whole game, as long as he didn't lose it.

Since the Magician was pretty weak, I started him out running around picking up clues and investigating places where he might find loot. He quickly had a sizeable pile of clue tokens and was ready to try closing off the evil portals appearing all over town. The Gangster, on the other hand, I put on monster killing duty. He was able to quickly take down any evil minion that crossed his path.

This is where I made my first mistake. The game is essentially a race to close off evil portals appearing all over town before you're overwhelmed or before the big bad guy awakens and uses you for dental floss. By fooling around looking for lots of clues and killing monsters rather than closing gates, I was quickly getting behind where I wanted to be.

I kicked it into high gear, sending both heroes into gates and rapidly regained lost ground. Before too long, I had permanently sealed four locations with Elder Signs (i.e., no chance of them reopening). However, Yig only needed two more Doom tokens before he awakened and there were three open gates left. It was going to be close.

I had a couple lucky turns where locations I had permanently closed appeared as gate locations, effectively stymieing the bad guys. Yes! Both my heroes battled their way over to two of the last three gates, and it was looking good.

Then my plans fell apart. The Gangster successfully dodged his way through the City of the Ancients, closing his gate and headed for the final evil rip into this dimension. The Magician, well prepared for spell combat, drew an encounter card requiring him to make a fight check or get thrown into "Lost in Time and Space" status by a giant statue. Normally this wouldn't be a huge deal if he had a couple extra clue tokens laying around, enabling him to reroll failures. Unfortunately, in my desperation to get these gates closed, I had run him ragged into clueless status. The giant statue tossed the Magician into the abyss, leaving the gate open and causing him to lose a turn.

To add insult to injury, our enemy Yig chose right then to awaken, instantly destroying the Magician who was still in Lost status. The Gangster had to face big Yig all alone. The Gangster held out for two combat rounds, blasting away.... but was soon devoured. The horror! The horror!

All in all, a great, close game. The rules of Arkham Horror are a bit tricky the first time through, but now that I've played it, the game seems like a piece of cake. I hope to play Arkham Horror again soon with actual real players besides myself.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Friday night gaming 1/17

Gaming at Jeff and Amy's place. Friday night. 7:00 PM. Let me know if you need directions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Session Report: Monday, Feb 13th

Got over to DL on monday around 5:45 for a longer game session. Brian was already there so we started with a two player game, Command and Colors, Ancients. We played the first scenario with no terrain, and maybe because of that the game seemed to rely too much on the not very random seeming dice and the players ability to draw useful cards at the right time. I won pretty handily, but can't point to any brilliant tactical strokes by me or blunders by him so thats where most of my negative impression is coming from.

Jon showed up next so we played a quick game of Hunting Party while waiting for the others to show up. My initial impression was that it felt a little like talisman meets magic meets clue. I'll have to try it again sometime. Jon won by killing the shadow in a close game where both Brian and I needed one more skill to successfully hunt him.

Ted, Rob and Simon now joined us for a rousing game of Beowulf. After thinking about it for a few days, I liked this game somewhat. It is mostly an auction style game with some closed fist auctions and some round the table auctions until people drop out with luck entering the game through suits for the auctions and chance opportunities. Brian and Ted won with their no wound bonuses prodding them to victory against those of us who had not gone through our travels unfazed. I definitely would like to try this again and maybe change some of my early strategies.

We broke out Bang for the next game. I ended up as the Sherriff, Ted the Deputy, Jon the Renegade, and the others Outlaws. Jon took out Ted and Brian quickly and was piling up a ton of cards and using them to smite my enemies. After he took Simon out I had to kill him because every time someone died he took all their cards which seemed a little scary to me. I finished Rob off with a flurry of bangs and misses (my special ability was use both as bangs or misses). I have alot of fun with Mafia in big groups and I really like the hidden role mechanic so although things became pretty transparent after the first or second round, it was interesting.

Brian and Ted had started up a game of Jambo while we were finishing up so the remaining 4 of us played Samurai, a tile placement game. I don't really feel like I have a great intuition about these types of games and thought I was getting slaughtered before we revealed to find that we were all bunched very close and that Rob had won by one after tiebreakers. I would like to try this again, perhaps with a smaller group sometime.

Ted and Rob had to leave, and we broke out the last game of the night, Antike. It has about a million bits and theres alot of bookkeeping as the game proceeds. Its basically a no luck expand influence in the ancient world through culture and might game. I went for the expand horizontally while trying to placate all my neighbors(everyone as I was in the middle) strategy and it worked perhaps too well. Everyone was so well placated that the only conflict that happened was in the endgame when Brian sacked one of my temples for the win. Perhaps my expansion should have been followed by a peacekeeping force buildup rather than temple construction to prevent the exact scenario that ended the game. One idea I had for making some of the bookkeeping stuff less tedious is having resource tracks with bits on them that keep track of how much of each resource you are producing. It was annoying with my terrible memory that every time I produced, I had to lift up bits and count how many cities and temples I had of the appropriate type. I think just a minor modification like that would be much appreciated. The game seems like one I would like. Diplomacy seems like it could be very important if there is conflict and I suspect in our next game there will be more conflict than appeared in our first. Definitely one I want to try out again.

We called it a night after that.

Edit to add picture of Antike per Simon's request


Monday, February 13, 2006

February 20: War of the Gargantuas!

You know it. You love it. A day off work with nothing to do but dust off that massive box in the back of your closet... shoo away the moths and cobwebs... and hoist the backbreaking load into your rucksack for the journey to Dragon's Lair. The monster game... the one with hundreds of bits; countless cards, a meaty rulebook, taking four or more players at least 3-4 hours to play...

Last time we tried this, we played Descent for close to six hours without eating, drinking, or looking at sunlight. I staggered out of the store weak, disoriented, dazed, half blind.... and Victorious! Yeah, baby!

So, what do you want to play on 20 Feb? Who is going to be there?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Monday the 13th

So, are people showing up to DL? What time?

The time is nigh...

Registrations are open... I'm almost ready to pull out my credit card.
Anyone interested in bringing the SABG posse over to Dallas?


Friday, February 10, 2006

Gaming with the Letter 'P'

Michael, Jeff, Jacqui and I gamed the letter 'P.' It just worked out that way. We opened with the first of the Alea mid-box games ... Palazzo. This is a Knizia auction game, but money enters the game easily. The trick is that, like Alhambra, you have to worry about currencies. You can only play one type of money during an auction. But, there are wilds (worth less than other money) and you can play one of each currency (a triplet) for 15, ignoring the value shown (which could be 9-21). Players spend the money buying (and auctioning) building sections. It's an intermediate range game. Our game took about 45 minutes, and Jeff won with a large brick building (with no marble or sandstone to degrade it). I like Palazzo, but it's good. Not great.

Next up, Carabande (aka Pitchar). Michael took the early lead, but then the cut of one jib sent him screaming off the track. (I'm not being figurative. The pieces don't fit together smoothly and those tiny bumps can send you flying). Jeff and I passed him, but Jeff got through the Chacon first, and crossed the finish line ... I did finish on the same turn.

Introductions out of the way, next up was Princes of Florence. Just to annoy everyone, we played on a german set. The closet giveth. The closet taketh away. Continuing another theme, Jeff won.

Tired of this, we demanded that Jeff go home and tender to Amy, so that one of us could win a game. The game -- Power Grid (Germany). The winner -- Michael. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Gaming Session Report

Wednesday, a few of us met at Patrick's for a night of gaming. Although Patrick invited us all over to playtest his newest design, he wasn't exactly ready for us -- he was still printing and cutting. We decided to play a few other games while we he was busy preparing his game.

First game to hit the table was Amun Re. I got this game for Christmas and have been wanting to play. I have to say I wasn't disappointed. Yes, it's your typical Euro game. And yes, there was little interaction. (Patrick and Jon weren't too enamored). But there is a lot of strategy. There are plenty of choices to make. Victory points were at a premium and you had to really manage your money or you could be in trouble later in the game. It turned out the winner (Jon) had 31 points, second was Patrick at 30 and Michael was at 29. I ended up with 26 as I screwed up royally during the Old Kingdom phase. Michael also committed a blunder that ended up costing him the game -- he needed one specific province for an additional six points, but didn't bid high enough and was outbid. I hope to get this one to the table again as it took awhile for me to catch on.

Next was High Society. This is a filler -- I think our game took 15-20 minutes. But it was one of the best fillers I've played. Essentially, it's an auction game. But there are a few additional rules which keep it fresh. First, the person with the least amount of money at the end is immediately eliminated. That was me. Despite having the most points, I lost because I had fewest deniro. Patrick ended up winning, in spite of getting the -5 in the first round. Jon and Michael both ended up with zero.

Lastly, we played the unnamed prototype. The game is still in the early stages of design, so I won't talk about it. That way when you help playtest, your opinion will be unsoiled by my comments. I think it has potential, although it will need a lot more plays to fine-tune some of the mechanics.

And a fun night of gaming was had by all...

Ode to Thoughthammer

So sometime around Tuesday I'm moping around and I open up an email from Thoughthammer. Good news, they got PitchCar in and they've decided to combine two of my orders and ship all the in-stock stuff at once. They actually took the time to check my outstanding orders and rearrange everything so I could get all the stuff sitting around shipped to me right away, leaving the pre-orders to another separate order! This was even after I hassled them to take out a game I had already purchased and substitute it with another which ended up in a credit to my account.

For these reasons I have decided Thoughthammer is my new best friend (sorry Jon).

So now I propose we kick up the PitchCar league baby! Next Monday at 8:00 ala Dragon’s Lair anyone? The Doom expansion won’t be tabled until I finish painting the new figures (don’t even bring it up, sore spot). The other nearly $300 dollars worth of previously tied up games are mostly two-player. So what’s the word?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Friday Gaming at Brian & Jacquis (2/10)

Jacqui and I are again hosting Friday night gaming! I added it to the calendar, and again it shows up just fine on the other website and not at all here (on the 10th). If anyone adds another copy, it starts at 7pm!

If anyone needs directions, use the contact form on my personal blog to reach me. Or you can use my BGG profile.

The closet awaits!

RA power!

Another awesome night of gaming. It was a pleasure (and a blast) to play with Dennis and Michael....the latest additions to the group. Hope you are here for the long run.

Attendance: Dennis, Michael, Me, Brian, Ben, Jon, Jeff.

I got to play Ra tonight for the first time. It's a really good game. I enjoyed very much the quasi-auction (I agree Patrick) system. Eventhough you know what others can bid with, this didn't make the nail-biting desicions any easier. I also liked that you are bidding not only on tiles you need/want but also on a stronger "bidding" chip. It just adds another layer of strategy to the game.

Next up was Power Grid (as shown above). We played the France map. I had played twice last year, and unfortunately couldn't remember what strategy worked that time. Tonight I ended last and I was only 2 points away from the winner! In other words, the game was SUPER tight. I had never had such an aggressive game. I tried being very aggressive building on EVERY single round. This of course kept me ahead for a good 80% of the game....but of course, that meant that I wasted all my money for that portion of the game on expensive resources, AND I had to build on whatever spots where left (which of course would usually be more expensive than what I would have gotten had I built first). Eventually I dragged behind. Nothing like cheap clean energy from a windmill.

All in all, another great game night for the records.

Gaming 02/08 New Game Playtest

Well, I really should be preparing for my AI conference in Austria on Saturday, but Kendahl's request for a game night has me itching to playtest a new game my brother an I have been working on. Its a 4 or 6 player game. So if we end up with odd numbers, I guess we'll have to play something else.

Basic theme: Its the Rapture and angels and devils are competing to see who can gather the most humans.

Its still in its infant stages, so don't expect it to look pretty. Actually, it'll just be paper printouts =)

Time: 7pm
Place: 1606 Kingsbridge
Phone: 210.679.0346

Monday, February 06, 2006

Ra is not an "auction" game.

I had the pleasure to play Ra this weekend with my family. After reading the rules, I was sure that I would not like this game. The rules were badly organized, making it difficult to find certain key rules when needed. But, dispite that we managed to play it and had a really good time. Usually euros have pasted on themes, and I expected nothing different here. However, we found ourselves chanting Ra! Ra! Ra! in a very religious zealot sort of way whenever the last player began pulling tiles all by himself. It was so satisfying when the Ra tile was drawn immediately.

However much fun we did have with this game, I cannot reconsile the misuse of the word "auction" to describe the game mechanic(note the singular). Now, keep in mind that I am starting a rant here, but I have certain preconcieved notions of what makes up an auction. To me, an auction must have a psychological element to it. To have a psychological element to an auction there must be limited information. That limited information can be a lot of different things, such as why the item will be useful, or how much money you have to spend, or whatever. In Ra, there is absolutely no partial information. Everything is revealed. Thus, when you are trying to decide what to "bid" on the "auction" all you really have to do is look at what other people have and calculate the worth. If both people know the worth of the item, then there is no bidding it up, or getting it for cheap. Let me stess that an obvious choice is not a choice at all.

So, I'm not sure what to call the mechanic in Ra. The mechanic does allow for interesting planning with the trading of sun tokens, but it is not bidding.

Now let me have it!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Games swap

I've got a couple of irons in the fire (via BGG). But do other people here have games they are looking for? One thing I noticed some users I'm talking with have pretty nice things for trade, but I don't want them. [I've played them, etc]. Long distance trades also have a problem -- the post office. Bleagh. If I'm just trading games, I can often swap for a wargame or something.

So, does everyone keep their trades/wants up to date on the geek?

By the way, Shanghai Trader (the game pictured above) is simply terrible. And a touch racist, to boot. The canonical story of S. T. goes like this. They explain the rules ... you are trying to leave Shanghai before the British hand it over to the Chinese. But you want to leave rich. There are a ton of rules, lots of crimelord action, etc. After a half hour one player buys a plane ticket and declares he's leaving. Six hours later, he's informed that he won.

Gaming Goodness Planned: Tuesday, 7 Feb 2006

I plan to show up at Dragon's Lair at roughly 6 PM on Tuesday. I hope others will be able to join in. I'll bring an armload of games, but everyone is encouraged to bring a favorite or two. Games high on my repeat play list are C&C Ancients (Cannae scenario); Twilight Struggle; RR Tycoon.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Post Groundhog Gaming

Jeff, Amy and Simon joined Jacqui and I for the traditional groundhog day celebration. First up was Power Grid. I took the '4' power plant in the first round. The '4' is nice because you buy resources first and (barring the '3' showing up), you get to go last on the 2nd turn as well, when good things can happen. Good things indeed happened as Jacqui and I bid up the '16' plant (two oil for three cities) but I passed at 20 bid, figuring that I had a good shot at the '27' dropping down. [The 27 powers three cities for free]. When it did, I was doing well. In fact, the game should have been mine, if not for the hypnotic powers of Dora the Explorer. (Well, I'm blaming her). Towards the end of the game, I misjudged and stocked up on too much coal, which cost me the game when Jacqui could build out that turn. Just goes to show you -- don't buy too many resources.

Next up was Puerto Rico, and it was close. I won with 42 points, but the lowest score was 36. [And that was only Simon's second game]. Like many 5 player games of Puerto Rico, it could have gone a few different ways. [I wouldn't have won if the game went one turn longer or shorter. I earned more points than Jeff on the Final turn, but if it had gone another turn, he could have manned the guild hall.]

Next up -- Fearsome Floors. I got everyone past the monster and two guys out during the first day. I often see 'first day' victories, but Amy said she hadn't. At some point we'll have to try the double monster variant. [Amy was one space away from getting two people out the same turn I did.]

Fearsome Floors reminded Jacqui of Ricochet Robots, so we finished off with that. Robots without breaks slamming into walls and each other. What's not to like?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Barnes & Noble Board Game Sale

Hey, Chad here. For those of y'all that haven't heard, Barnes & Noble has put a lot of their board games on clearance. When I went by the B&N at 1604 and 281 last night they had Twilight Imperium, War of the Ring, a few of the Fantasy Flight Silver Line games, and a few other board and card games 50 percent off. If you're a B&N member you still get the extra 10% off from what I noticed. Not the biggest selection but it may be worth checking out.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Normative Reasoning Behind Winning

So yesterday I started thinking about the basic mechanics of gaming and I struck a sort of philosophical quandary. What's up with winning?

I realize a game cannot be categorized as such without this core component, but why exactly is that? First off, I don't have a problem with winning or losing. In fact if a game is nice and close and I lose by a small margin or stroke of misfortune in the endgame, I really could care less. As long as the game was entertaining enough to draw and maintain my attention for a period of time and deliver some tension, I’m a happy camper. If I win, it's just icing on the cake. I think the only time I really hate losing is when it's by direct cause of a blowout on luck for one player. Losing horribly because someone had a perfect hand of cards or not being able to compete because you didn't get any beneficial resources by random draw is frustrating and counterproductive to the spirit of gaming in the first place. The few times that I’ve really gotten pissed off at a game; there was a correlation directly proportional to my level of exhaustion, anxiety, or lack of luck.

To get rid of winning though is to either make the event co-op against the game itself or noncompetitive in its entirety. As many designers and players have seen, this is not an easy task to render effectively, if at all. The simplest answer is that art mimics life, and in life there are either winners, losers, or people caught in between. So what is a game without winning? Is it a game at all?

-Simon W.