Thursday, May 31, 2007

Monday Gaming at a Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

....called Dragon's Lair. Sorry, I just watched Episode IV last night while working out, and the movie has saturated my consciousness today.

I have the day off, so if anyone is up for some gaming fun just let me know. Some other thoughts:
  • Brian: Now that Flying Colors is getting an expansion I decided to download the rules and look them over. Wow, short and sweet! I'm totally up for playing, and I plan on getting a copy.
  • Commands and Colors: Ancients gets expansion number 3, Roman Civil War... nice! Time to re-read my Julius Caesar...
  • If you own Civ 4, you owe it to yourself to download the Fall From Heaven 2 mod. It rocks! Thanks, Michael!
  • The upcoming Combat Commander: Paratrooper Battle Pack looks intriguing... I'm somewhat unsure I actually like the game, but I figure the scenarios surely must get even better as the designers get more experience. In the mean time Band of Heroes: Swift and Bold is swiftly approaching.
  • Okay, time to go wash the car... I'll quit procrastinating now!

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Saturday Gaming

You know it will happen. Someplace. Sometime. Discuss the details in the comments.


Locally Published Wargame

I just saw this announced on CSW. Looks like a nice effort:

Charge at the Alamo


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I got good news and bad news this week. I finally got a job after three months unemployed out at the new NE Lakeview College. It's only a part time job, but it's a start. The bad news is that I teach from 6-9 pm every night. I can come around on Monday but leave at 4 and come to Saturday games.
Al Ronnfeldt

Dump This

Warning: off topic (for the most part) post ahead.

Back when I used to read the Bridge World magazines regularly, there were infrequent discussions about an oddity that was (allegedly) occurring in tournaments that they called sportsmanlike dumping.

The main gist of the situation was that the format of some of these tournaments made it so that in theory you could increase your chances of winning the entire tournament by losing a match. The issue was somewhat controversial. Some people believed that it was ethical to lose in such a situation since winning the tournament is the true goal. Others believed that playing sub-optimally on purpose was damaging to the game. I come down pretty firmly in the second camp.

There were multiple ways this type of situation could arise but a solution to one of them stuck with me as a nice answer to that particular instance of the problem.

Those of you who have discussed sports to any degree with me know that I think of the three remaining major sports left in this country (I can't count hockey anymore) basketball has the most entertaining base product out there. Meaning if I'm flipping random channels on the TV and hit a sporting event between two teams with whom I have no inherent rooting interest, I'm much more likely to watch a basketball game than the others. On the other hand, despite Bud Selig's best efforts and Bill Simmons propaganda to the contrary, I think the NBA is the worst run league out there.

There is an epidemic of atrocious officiating. Horrendous decisions have been made by the league offices during the playoffs that have ruined the competitiveness of them. Changing the ball was moronic. The dress code is stupid. But I'm ignoring all of that. What I'm interested in is the fact that dumping or tanking as it is called in the NBA seems to be an acceptable event to the commissioner's office.

Last year you had teams falling all over themselves trying to lose at the end of the season so they could drop from the fifth seed and playing the Mavericks in round one to the sixth seed and playing my Nuggets instead because of the seeding system in place then that guaranteed a top 3 seed to a division winner. So the NBA, as is typical of them, slapped a temporary fix band-aid on the problem and changed it so that division winners are only guaranteed a top 4 seed.

This year you had teams falling all over themselves trying to lose by the middle of the season so they could increase their chances of getting a top 2 pick in this years NBA draft. Fans were openly rooting for their teams to lose even going so far as to boo when their teams did something inappropriate like playing to win the game. It was very nice to see that the teams engaging in this behavior were not rewarded by the random number generator but that does not change the fact that the behavior happened.

Also this year, in theory at least Dallas had incentive to try to lose games to drop out of the 1 seed and avoid a warriors team that matched up well with them on paper and that at the end of the season was playing at a level far exceeding that of the 7 seed lakers.

In my opinion, league offices should do everything in their power to eliminate any incentive to lose.

So back to the solution that one bridge tournament did: The top seeds at the end of the round-robin portion (regular season) got to pick their opponents from the other qualified teams in the bottom half during the knockout (playoffs). This simple fix for both the first and second rounds along with seeding only by record would completely eliminate incentive to lose to allow better playoff positioning.

I understand that this would reward a team that was a 1 seed more than in the current system and would punish teams that did not finish in the top 3, but there is a saying a friend of mine likes to use in this situation: "get better". The regular season is 82 games long. What happens there should be meaningful and there should be a strong incentive to not take half the regular season off and then turn it on in the playoffs.

As to the draft situation, I really like the idea of an equal weight lottery among all 30 teams for the top three spots. The remaining picks would go in reverse order according to record. This eliminates jump points where ones expected draft position improves more by being one spot lower in the standings at some points than others. As far as competitive balance is concerned, I think doing something radical like this might convince the NBA GMs who see their yearly appearance in the draft lottery as a birthright (at least apparently from the types of moves they make) that they need to do their homework and collect pieces intelligently in free agency. If this happened, maybe we would see more turnover in the playoff teams.

Also, if you go back and examine drafts from say the past 10 years, you will find that there was typically at least one good player both available at pick five and at least highly thought of to be drafted in the top 10 picks. So a team with a poor record will still get a shot at a good player assuming they do their homework and know who he is. Every once in a while you might even be able to grab a franchise player around then.

Yes, it would be ridiculous if the Suns, Spurs or Mavericks got Oden or Durant. Ridiculously intriguing.

How does this topic relate to boardgaming? If we did leagues of some sort I guess this could arise. I dunno, any ideas?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

5/29 Memorial Day Session Report

We played this gamenot.

Despite a relatively late Sunday night, I pushed myself to make it there at 10 am. About halfway there I got really paranoid that I would show up and nobody would be there again so I called Rob to verify that he would indeed be showing up. Guaranteed an opponent, I pressed on.

Dennis and Brian were already there as luck would have it and I suggested we begin setting up 7 ages immediately so as to allow us to enjoy the full 2/7 of a game to which we were entitled. Unfortunately, seeing the lukewarm responses to the 7 ages suggestion in the planning post, Brian had left it at home. In rapid succession, Rob, Chris and Steve arrived. Steve verified that he had already finished WOTR with Ben and that Ben would arrive shortly.

We played a quick game of To Court the King while waiting. If I recall correctly many dice were rolled repeatedly.

Next, since there was a noticeable lack of Ben, we busted out a prototype that I think should rename nameless here. I have been instructed to avoid any specific comments in public. Hmmph. Speaking from past experience in this genre, I don't think this is a game I would be wanting to play with Amy though (vague enough right?).

Ben arrived while we were in the middle of that game, so after a lunch break we split into the Runebound group (Ben, Chris and Dennis) and the Winds of Plunder group (Rob, Steve, Brian, Al who arrived in the middle of the rules explanation and myself). Winds of Plunder is a pirates game that revolves around running around collecting the types of things Pirates tend to collect(treasure, weapons, supplies , crew, and maps). I quickly decided that I wanted to be the weapons master. I didn't want to be someones personal punching bag. So I went all in on that and punished people who tried to steal my thunder. Brian won and Rob (who got gang banged into submission(guilty) on the last round) and I tied for second.

The Runebound group was still going and we were not particularly pleased with their progress so I think we played Glory to Rome next. Quickly for those who have not played: its a San Juanish game where cards have truly become everything. They decide which roles you can call, are the material for buildings, are the basis of the buildings themself, are the clients you hire and the swag you steal in the process of doing everything else. I like the game because there are multiple paths to victory and it is relatively short. Anyway, in this particular game it was all about stealing the most stuff it turned out. Since I did a great job doing that I pulled out the victory.

Steve left after this and Runebound was still not complete so we played a game of Bottle Imp. This is a highly themed trick taking game. Basically we are all making deals with the devil but we don't want to be the last one. The intuition is very strange to me and I have a hard time wrapping my head around things like you can win the trick without trumping and without following suit. But in terms of theme these things make perfect sense. Brian really ran away with it (no exaggeration this time) and Rob was wishing we had played something fun.

Finally, Runebound (if you need the gruesome details, it seems there is a recap in the planning post) was over. Brian ran to grab food and Rob left so at my suggestion we played a game of Stage II. Brian arrived in time for the third question and for 90% of the game he wasn't Jon, but he played one on TV. In the end Dennis ran away with it and was shocked at our incredible lack of knowledge and lack of ability to determine themes. My one complaint about the game is that there is such variance over the quality of the themes (stuff having to do with WWII wtf?)

I believe at this point we might have done another game of To Court the King but to be honest it's pretty hazy if we did. For sure though soon after everyone but Brian, Al and myself left. We played a few more games of Glory to Rome including one that ended at 9-6-6 without a catacombs being built.

I do want to point out that in my opinion 7 ages would be right up alot of our groups ally. It is by far the best civ builder type of game that I've played and would rank it as probably the only one in that genre that I would suggest myself. It is dripping with theme, much more so than any other that I've seen. So enough with the 7 ages bashing guys.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day Gaming

Though I still feel a bit spent from last weekend's marathon gamefest, I predict I'll be ready for board gaming on Monday. Sadly, Tide of Iron won't yet be in my greedy paws, but there are a lot of other great games the holiday will allow us time to play.

Unless someone is willing to host and start early, I recommend Dragon's Lair at 1000 AM. If you're interested, please post a reply listing when you will show up and what you'd like to play.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Saturday Gaming

So... I can't host this weekend. My previously unspoiled sanctum sanctorum, the Dog House, has been now been temporarily converted for use by guests we'll be hosting in the near future. The horror! "Ummm, yeah, we're gonna need you to replace that gaming table with a bed for the next two weekends, ok? That'd be great."

Anyone up for gaming? Anyone up for hosting?

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Mostly Random...

Ben wondered recently "Comment 29 to this post... perhaps the most ever?"


Even thought the thread that his musing was in has hit 35 comments, it still falls short of the record - a whopping 41 in a thread Ben himself started last December.

While browsing through the archives to find this useless trivia nugget, I learned several things.

We've only hit 30+ comments about half a dozen times.

Usually, the thread is about a wargame or a game with a ton of plastic.

I miss the SABGers who've moved on: Kendahl, Patrick and Simon.

Michael has always been verbose; he writes very entertaining and very accurate session reports.

It's high time Ben and I played War of the Ring again.

Do we still have comments for guests turned off? Was that to prevent spam? Was spam ever a problem?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today's my birthday. I have worked out a deal regarding gifts. I buy a bunch of games I want and give them all to Meredith. She doles them out as gifts. I get games I want, we get good shipping, and there's still an element of surprise. Win-win-win.

This birthday brought me Call to Arms and Rommel in the Desert. Yeah!

This news is especially good news since Rob is taking his copy of RitD with him. We must not be Rommel-less!!!


Friday gaming at Casa de Bankler

Brian hasn't been able to play games all week so we'll be hosting gaming at our house this Friday at 7:00 pm. Please RSVP.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Looong weekend.

My brain hurts. I've played mainly medium to HUGE sized games this weekend. On Saturday, it was Die Macher, and La Citta.... 2 games that I've wanted to try for the longest time. Last night (Sunday) Mark and I tried a couple of months of East Front 2. Today we did Arkham Horror and Descent-The 6 hour marathon (I played the 'funnest' scenario yet, but it was just a tiny bit long). What a fun weekend.... I really hope I can find something similar to this group in Houston.

Now, as I collapsed from brain exhaustion to check my email, I noticed that I got very interesting news in my inbox that re-energized the geek in me....


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Die Macher Variants and Curmudgeonry

After our game of Die Macher, I'm reminded that I personally only rate it a '7.' At least I found my variants.

Now that I've played Shogun again ... well, I just don't get it. Is this supposed to be strategic? tactical? random? I can't decide, because Shogun can't decide. Even ignoring the randomness that is the tower, it seems that quite a bit of the game is decided by the order that the actions hit (imagine how different the game would be if the final turn had all the reinforcements before battle cards). And that's not even talking about the draw for which event happens, and which winter rating shows up.

It was amusing, but that wasn't really due to the game. I rate it "Meh," or possibly "Meh-plus."

Nope, just meh.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Friday Night Gaming

You know, it's been several months since we had my favorite image. And it applies, because now I am caught in my very own trap! And somebody moved my cheese! And everything I needed to know I learned in grad school. What am I talking about? I could tell you, but my tale of woe (and snappy but meaningless self-help books) is much better in person.

And over games.

So, Friday night at our place. After that it's RobCon.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Closet Baseball Fans?

I'm not a big sports fan, but for some mysterious reason I'm really intrigued by baseball simulations. Hard-core fans are probably really interested in tracking players and knowing as as possible, but that's not it for me. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's something about the combination of stats and warm summer days. Don't know.

After some research, I have concluded that Strat-o-matic Baseball is the most likely looking game. The basic version is simple and fast, the advanced version is still not too bad while including a lot more detail, and the super-advanced version provides room to grow, though I doubt I'd ever go that far.

I'd like to try before I buy, though, so I was wondering if anyone in the group has a copy stashed someplace.


Admin Note

I added SABG to the new(ish) Game Groups Geeklist. And while I was thinking about it, the Game Groups Page in the BGG Wiki.


Monday, May 14, 2007

RobCon '07 (ver 1.11)

(Latest Update in Blue)
Well you all got a preview in a previous post. My wife will be out of town, so I decided that since it is going to be one of my last weekends in SA, that I was going to play games as much as possible. I need a break from all the hassles of moving.

So my house is basically open for gaming pretty much from Sat morning until Monday evening. With prior notice, swing by with some games, and we'll play. I have a large table that can sit 8, and a smaller 'coffee table where ~4 could play sitting on the couches. I also have an old XBOX with 3 games (pathetic I know, but I'm more of a PC gamer), one of which is a great multiplayer 'mini games' game. I do have 4 controllers. I may feel compelled to get the XBOX 360, plus a few guitars for Guitar Hero 2, plus a few mats for DDR.... (I kid). Cool option for any possible 'down time'.



  • Brian Not Hosting


  • 8am until? Jeff and Amy hosting: Die Macher: Jeff, Amy, Ben, and your struly.... Post Die Macher, we'll do Arkham, Shogun, Descent, TI3.... anything.
  • Ted and Mark playing probably a blockgame from 8-11:30'ish.
  • Brian showing up at 8am. Chris showing up at ?. Brian may have to persuade Ted and Mark to play something else..... unless Brian is player 5 in Die Macher, or Chris shows up at 8am. Anything can happen.


  • 7pm At my place: EastFront2. Mark and I. The rest of the day will go to moving stuff out of my house.


  • In case anyone reads this, we are still at my place (as of 1700). We may be going to DL afterwards....


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day....

Well we all have one right?

Anyone showing up tomorrow 5/14? I could be there after 1pm (or later if people are showing up later), with the usual random armload.

** UPDATE **

I'm bringing my new copy of Winds of Plunder.

Saturday Recap

Lets see. Games played:

Mississippi Queen:planning to be the mad rammer, while fun in theory, sucks in practice. Jeff won a disputed (not by me) victory. Of all the race games (I am not a fan of the genre) I find Ave Caesar to be the most acceptable for some reason.

Citadels: Creative shuffling of the roles by Jon allowed him to run away with it.

Coloretto: Jon's masterful take every color every time strategy ran away with it again (guys where's the metagaming? hello?)

Traders of Genoa: Amy ran away with it cashing in like 20 mega deliveries (I might be forgetting key details like what they are called and the exact number but it was totally ridiculous). I had a great (allegedly) first day, but it was downhill from there. I was actually closer than I originally thought since I forgot to add in vps for my buildings until about 11pm tonight (midway through a game of big boggle at the "other" gaming group).

Dragons' Gold: Not a fan of it at all. The treasure resolution mechanic is just terrible. There I said it (I may have said it earlier, don't remember). The magic items were almost universally lame except for one which was very good in our group. Two boournses down on that game.

The Rum and Pirates game: I verified that I cannot hold my alcohol, but more importantly discovered that Amy can hold hers slightly worse than me. Yay random luck, although I will claim that was payback for getting stung by approximately 6.02x10^23 scorpions.

Quick(read 1 hour) drive from Jeff and Amy's house to the "other" gaming group about 4 miles away (that type of traffic on a saturday wtf mate????)

Some game called traxx?: I think this had to be by the same people that made Hive. Bakelite Hex tiles in a murse of some sort. I should have been more attentive to how full the bag was because I managed to set up a potentially and probably closeable big loop, but delayed closing it to try to interfere with the other players loops, and then all of a sudden without warning the bag was empty and I was dead.

High Society: I tried to introduce heavier fare, but was firmly rebuffed. I lost the first game when a card I had to have came up and I just didn't have the right change to bid a reasonable amount for it (I had my 25 , 4 ,3 ,2 ,1 and any bid up to 22 would have won the game for me). In practice I bid my 25 and hoped for the best and the best was boourns. Played like 4 games of this and that was the closest I came to winning. Boournsed yet again.

Big Boggle: I ran away with it thanks to a few good rounds. We played some rules differently than I am used to (we were allowed to use 4 letter words and allowed to use plurals as well, both of which seem to be moderately ridiculous since the lists were forever long)

Saw Ben's favorite Cranium being played and Cranium Hoopla being played. Also saw Alhambra and Mah Jongg being played. Someone brought Vegas Showdown and TTR (unplayed) and Princes of Florence, Modern Art, and Puerto Rico (my contributions other than High Society) also found themselves being surprisingly unloved. No celebrities, since ashamed of my lackluster kit, I shipped off the key parts to my sister a few weeks back so she could entertain guests.

The other group isn't quite the Monopoly-fest that Ben claimed though just to get some non mis-information out there. I was impressed that Vegas Showdown made an appearance even if nobody technically played it per se.

Also, no pictures for you, I was up at some ungodly time yesterday morning and it is time to sleep (possibly after replying to Brians recap).

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday Recap

Jon, Michael, Jacqui and I gamed Friday Night. We started off with a couple games of Factory Fun. This is actually a simple little game, in terms of rules, but it's tough to build an efficient factory. Especially when claiming the factories is done by speed. Whoever touches it first gets it.

So, a traditional turn is -- "On the count of three, flip. 1 - 2 - 3."

Someone madly grabs a factory, then says "Uh-oh." Honestly, the picture to the right shows a supposedly winning score, but where are the crossover pipes? The T-junctions?

Anyway, after that we broke out some SimplyFun party games. There was In10sity, the trivia game where all answers are 1-10. Eh. Eye to Eye is better, but that's basically a remake of "What were you thinking" with a simpler scoring mechanism.

After that we trotted out Glory to Rome. I've now seen a fair number of victory conditions, and combinations, as well as all four "end the game" conditions. I'm not quite ready to bump my rating up beyond a seven, but I've played this a dozen times in the last six weeks, so it may happen. Jacqui won the first game with a Forum victory (get one of each client) despite Michael's coliseum (which let him kill several of her clients). She got the final two via a Bar, which lets you recruit clients from hand (instead of from the pool).

The second game looked like a runaway building victory for either Michael or Jon. Jon had the building that finished anything with a single good during the architect, and the foundations were depleted quickly. Michael, on the other hand, got an early craftsman client and built the thinker (which let him refill his hand after a craftsman) and a sewer (which let him discard his hand before refilling, if he desired). He quickly cycled his hand, and his deck. Jacqui again got the forum out. I built a fast Pallisades, to make me immune to legionaries, but then stalled. I eventually got a market stand(?), which brought my influence to four but let me have a six card vault. Neither Jon or Michael could end it (or choose not to), and in the final 3-4 rounds I filled my vault, which gave me two points in buildings, two points of standard influence, and twenty two points of graft (in my vault). This was several points more than the builders had, and enough to win.

Then we closed up with Smarty Party, which infuriated as usual.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Friday Night

Skipping over Saturday (see below), I'll be hosting tomorrow night. 7 PM. RSVP in comments.


Saturday Gaming

So, at long last its time for us to plan our gathering for more board gaming on Saturday.

*** Updated Based on Comments***

  • Hosts: Jeff and Amy will be hosting.
  • Time: 0900 AM and running until potentially 8:00 PM.
  • Agenda? Flexible depending on attendees' interests.

Comments and suggestions welcome.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Santiago! Call for players

Well, call for player is more correct. We've got one slot open in a SABG game of Santiago on Spiel By Web. Email me if you're interested and I'll send you the password.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Let's Get Kraken!

Last night we got the "Fully Monty" six player Mare Nostrum game (with expansion). It really does add a lot. A ton of new heroes (and some re-jiggering of the old ones to rebalance it). The mythological creatures give each power another different flavor. We had Titans lobbing rocks from a safe distance, centaurs skewering legions, reborn phoenix, a few griffins and behomoths, and a marauding Kraken or two.

There's definitely more fluidity in the game. Unlike the base game, you start in striking range of your first hero. (Turn two or three), and with several players starting with military units on the board, the decision to race ahead or get defensive is interesting. The players 'on the edges' (Babylon and Atlantis) have some extra mobility (The Griffin flies; and the Kraken ... well, when he submerges he could show up anywhere.) Overall I really like the expansion, and I liked the base game.

It's not without flaws. We barely got out of DL in time (although we didn't start until around 8pm and had to explain the rules), but I suspect we'll have to set aside three hours (and leave the option for a fourth) when using the expansion. Like the base game, Mare Nostrum will happily let you drive yourself into a corner and not leave any Euro-ish "let's double score in the last round so that anyone can win!" And, like any multi-player conflict game, you have the bickering about who should attack whom. And it's never fun when the gods smite your city. [Smiting, on the other hand, is a blast].

Just for the interest of those playing last night -- the "win if you get 3 out of the four roles" rule is a variant, but I think a good one. It's difficult (at least, with five or six players), but if you get behind on the wonders it's possible and adds a tension to the game.

Chris (Atlantis), Sean (Rome), Jon (Greece), Michael (Babylon), Al (Egypt) and I (Carthage) set off to conquer the ancient world. (A task "Not unbecoming men who strove with Gods.") Jon struck first with the always popular Helen of Troy (who seduces invading legions). But in the expansion, there are lots of good heroes. I got Adonis (Get a free favor from the gods each turn) and Michael got Castor and Pollux (copy another hero once/turn). Greece doubled down with Hercules (which lets you treat a legion as though it were a mythical beast once a turn). Michael got Spartacus (Buy a legion for a single slave) while I decided to pause.

The counter-attacks were brutal. Using my favor of the gods, I had Baal destroy Michael's resources. Egypt also did some hit-and-runs with the expendable phoenix. (Like all mythical creatures, they roll six automatically. However, once they die they can be reborn for cheap, costing as much as a legion). Rome suffered horrific losses invading Greece, but managed to claim a few spaces. And poor carthage got hemmed in between Atlantis and Egypt. (One the penultimate turn, I managed to buy a single influence marker). Despite the hammering, Babylon was sitting pretty ... he used Castor and Pollux to grab Isis, which let him give everyone a resource. That gave him 8 different types, and he made sure we each had at least one type he could use to win. Then, since he was commerce director, he named a large trade. Sure enough, a ninth resource appeared.

But Jon managed to sneak in there as well, with nine taxes. (I managed to get a 3rd hero, but that doesn't win). [I prefer the 'No Kingmaking' variant where ties are just ties, unless the political leader, who determines build orders, can build out. At which point they just win outright.]

I'm sure we'll be playing this again ... I will, at least.


Yspahan strategy revisited.

During todays game session I got to try out the heavy caravan strategy in a face to face setting. It is clearly not as powerful as against the computer (pushing 130 average there now), but it still worked somewhat. I do have some ideas about counterstrategies that aren't of the "can't beat 'em join em" variety.

1. Pretty much you want to buy the caravanserai even if you don't want to go heavy caravans. At least some of the time you will be shipping your dudes to interfere with the caravan player and the reward is much sweeter if its coming with a free card (that you can also use to interfere with them: see below).

2. Regardless of what else is going on, if someone is trying to go heavy caravans, prioritizing the corner barrel district is very important in the second and third week.

3. Almost as good is blocking the corners of the vase and sack district if he somehow grabs the barrel district location. (When blocking the sack district corner if you only have one guy to place in the corner soukh the one off the corner is better so he can't repeatedly try to kick you out of there while still getting one of his guys on the caravan each turn)

4. Flushing the caravan before the end of the second week is possibly a good idea, but sending many guys to the caravan in the third week is probably playing into his hands.

5. Defensively moving the provost far away from the corner barrel spot is a good idea if he is abusing it since many times the caravan player will be running tight on gold.

6. Until the end of the second week, the place a guy in any shop card is a key card to keep out of the clutches of the caravan player. It also works out nicely that it is generally a more lucrative card to play in the third week in general since you are more likely to have the +2 for a complete district building done to boost the gains you get from it.

7. Try to toss bad cards in before a reshuffle and wait to use good cards until after. The 3 camels card in particular and 3 gold card secondarily are fuel for the fire and their presence in the deck should be minimized if possible. In contrast, the vp cards, the put a guy on the caravan cards, and the swap camels and gold cards are mostly negative draws for them and are therefore great cards to keep in the deck. The building discount cards are for the most part neutral. During the third week the put a guy on any shop card can be used with impunity since much of the time it will be worth no more than one camel to the caravan player after the first few turns of week three.

8. I've pretty much convinced myself that drawing cards almost exclusively in week one is the way to go for the caravan player. The cards really are that good on average and the vps you achieve in week one from caravan shipments and soukh bonuses are miniscule compared with what you will be getting in later weeks if you get a solid foundation. I still think this holds true for the most part for any strategy choice in this game.

I'm still actually concerned about the whole caravan thing being possibly broken as is, but I will reserve judgement for now. I hope that it won't turn out that the best "counter" strategy is just to do the same thing yourself. All the counterstrategies above are also ignoring the fact that there are going to be two other players in the game and they exist as competition too. You will be making suboptimal plays for you while the other two guys might be getting rich.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Confessions of a SW geek....and a previous philatelic... (cough)...

I have to admit it. I 'dabbled' a bit in philatelics when I was a young pup (spurred mostly by the "stamp collecting" merit badge). It was a very short-lived hobby, but I still keep those stamps somewhere in my house to this day.

Anyway, being also a Star Wards freak, I thought it was kinda cool to see this on the website. I get some.... The force to resist is not in me.
Good way to introduce a price hike on stamps.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dragons Lair vs. Private Hosting on Saturdays

Yesterday we tried the Saturday SABG session at Dragon's Lair rather than at someone's house. I've been thinking about the pro's and con's of doing so in the future. Here are my brainstormed thoughts.

Playing at Dragon's Lair


  • Game store environment (lots of geek stuff around to look at)
  • Potential to recruit new members
  • Zero logistics for a host (i.e., no set up or clean up involved)
  • Doesn't impose upon host's family
  • Usually lots of table space
  • Centrally located
  • No discomfort associated with inviting new people into your home / going to stranger's house
  • Provides some support to a FLGS


  • Game store environment (noise, smell, crowd)
  • Store doesn’t open until 10:00 AM
  • Saturdays are a very busy day at Dragon’s Lair
  • Interruptions by random geeks asking questions. The geeks that proceed without asking to pick up and examine components of your game can be particularly distracting.
  • People seem a little less likely to show up on time or at all. Game play typically doesn't start until 30-45 minutes after posted arrival time.
  • Packing a load of games into your car
  • Taking games with lots of components outside the house... greater likelihood of component loss.

Playing at a Privately Hosted Location (usually a home)


  • Usually more quiet with less distractions
  • Greater security for games
  • Games can be pre-set up by host
  • Coffee pot, refrigerator, pizza delivery
  • The host, at least, doesn’t need to pack games
  • Early start time possible


  • Can be weird with new people to group (both for them and host)
  • Host logistics involved
  • Table space and overall size limited
  • Family issues
  • Location potentially not as central
My conclusions: This is a tough one. On the one hand, I am tremendously pleased we have 6 or more people showing up for Saturday gaming, but on the other hand I know its a lot to ask someone to host five buddies in their home during the weekend. I have a guest apartment to host in (aka the dog house), but even the dog house gets crowded with more than 4 players.

At least for me, I view Saturdays as an opportunity to play games on the longer and more complicated side. Since we've been playing on Saturdays, I've lost count of the number of times I've played War of the Ring and other long games like World of Warcraft, Civilization, and Conquest of the Empire have also appeared. These are games which rarely make an appearance at a weeknight game event. These are also games which seem less suited to the FLGS game environment. An early start time and less distractions helps get these games played before other life concerns intrude.

As long as we have a willing host and willing attendees, I'm leaning towards suggesting private hosting for Saturdays most of the time if possible, though I'm not convinced this is the way to go. What do you all think?


Spanked, We Were! Saturday Session Report

A relatively huge crowd attended this Saturday's SABG meetup (to borrow the term from another local group...). Rob, Chris, Al, Steve, Carlos, Carlos' friend (Jerry?), and I were there plus a brief special guest appearance by Ted!

As seems to be somewhat typical of gameplay at DL, games on the shorter, lighter side were the order of the day. We started with Cave Troll, which annoyingly ended in a tie between Steve and Rob. Unfortunately I couldn't find the special tie breaking rule in the book, so I'll need to post a question at the FFG website. When played quickly as a light warmup, this isn't a bad little game.

Next we split into two tables and played Take Stock and Colossal Arena. I led the Colossal Arena group vs. three newbies and was able to pull out a victory. This game never fails to deliver. I'll leave others to post the Take Stock session report.

Next we formed up to play six-player Star Wars Epic Duels, good vs. evil. Yoda, I was. Well, unfortunately for the good guys, we were totally annihilated. Evil Darth Maul (Steve) cruelly hunted down Obi-Wan Kenobi (Al) and eliminated him from the game almost immediately. How unsportsmanlike! A great game, but I think next time we should do 6-player every man for himself!

Finally everyone except Chris left, and he and I played Lord of the Rings with the Friends and Foes expansion added in. Against all odds and despite some terrible dice rolling, we pulled out a military victory against the Foes, about halfway through Isengard. We were playing with the official Black Gate variant that makes winning this way particularly challenging. We did come very close to biting the dust on more than one occasion, so victory tasted very sweet!

Many thanks to all who attended. A solid day of board gaming!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Monday Gaming

Ah, the sweet siren song of new games. I've got the Mare Nostrum expansion, Factory Fun, and Yspahan. OK, so you've all played Yspahan. Do not mock the new games.

I'll be at DL around 4pm on monday. Who else is in?


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Saturday Gaming

Alrighty, gamers! Its time to start talking up board gaming on Saturday. I can host unless someone else desires to take the lead. If I host, then I can kick things off at 0800 hours, with stragglers highly welcome if we know you're on the way! I'm up for short, medium, or long games on Saturday, and I'm able to play until late afternoon.

**** Update *****
Current proposal is to start at 1000 at Dragon's Lair on Saturday. Bring a few games and any willing friends. We'll play until the last person has to leave. See you there!


A Call To Arms

Got an email this morning saying that the BL supplement "A Call To Arms" will be shipping starting next week. I've pre-ordered my copy, and I can't wait. Should be excellent. Click here for more info.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

4/30 session rep

SABG is alive and well. Steve, then Sean and now Chris. Welcome to the group Chris! Any more out there? Just drop a line to the email listed above.

So yesterday was another one of those classic SABG Monday nights that we had not had in a while (thanks in part to the Saturday subgroup... wait a minute...I'm forming part of that group now too....) Anyway, we had a VERY strong showing.

Ben and I met around 10:30am. We were setting up for Aton, my favorite quick 2 player abstract at the moment (probably along the lines of Rosenkonig), when Jon walked in to interrupt us. So then us 3 started things with Struggle For Rome (catan). This game caught me my surprise. It's got legs. I thought it was just going to be another simple Catan variant, but there's some depth to it. Would definitively try again soon.

I had to leave to take care of a few things at home (selling + buying a home = big headache), while Michael, Chris, Ben and Steve played Stage II (Jon had to leave too). Ben called me at home to warn me about this, so I decided to stall by playing some Supreme Commander on my PC. When I returned to DL, they had just finished that great game.

After this, we stuck to classics: 5 player Puerto Rico (Ben lost his PR virginity to Michael who trounced us all....I was second!), To Court the King, High Society, Ra, RoboRally....

I also tried Oltre Mare with Jeff, Amy and Al. The interaction with the cards took me a while to get used to, but it was very interesting and different. It's yet another trading game in the Mediterranean, that's mainly a 'multi-use card' card game with a board game on the side.

Some more Stage II was played, as well as Celebrities with Michael's 'flawed' kit: timer that needs to be reset every round, no bag to pull the names out of, etc.