Friday, August 31, 2007

BGG.Con Planning

I spent a bit of time this morning firming up travel plans for BGG.Con and making tentative reservations in Essen, Germany.

First, regarding BGG.con, who is going? Perhaps we could do a SABG carpool? I'm planning on leaving SA around noon on Wednesday and returning mid-day on Sunday. I found a newly renovated Redroof Inn (location #129) about 750 ft from the hotel where BGG.con is being held for only $56/night (and $46/night on Friday and Saturday), which is quite a bit less expensive than the Weston. Besides, I'm not planning on doing a huge amount of time in the room anyway.

If anyone else decides to join me in Essen (Come on! Just do it!), I did find a good hotel there within walking distance to the convention hall. I need to be back in Manchester, UK, on Sunday, plus do a 20 mile run on Sunday morning, so I'm only planning on being there Wednesday - Saturday. There does look to be quite a bit of good swag to be had at the convention, including a con-exclusive expansion for Zooloretto plus the release of Cash-n-Guns: Yakuza (with black weapons). I'm still only about 80% sure this trip will happen, as there are some work chaos elements that could derail it.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Weekend Wonderland

Now that it's a three day weekend, what's up?

I know there's a TI:3 Game on monday, but what about the rest of us? I've got a lunch (and possibly more) but should be available monday late afternoon & evening. (I assume DLair is open till the typical time). I could be up for some Britannia, or other long-ish game.

As for Saturday and Sunday ... who knows?

So, leave ideas & plans in the comments.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mets @ A's (Week 6)

"...and we're back for the second game in our double header. The As won the opener 5-3, in an ugly game full of headhunting. In fact, we've just received word that the Mets are formally requesting that the A's starter be reprimanded. You'll remember that in the fourth he hit Shawn Green and Paul LoDuca with back to back pitches, sending both to the bench."

"Good luck getting that fine past the union rep."

"The Mets did hit Payton earlier in the first, though ... so it's a tough call."

"The story for tonights game ... the Mets Lineup. Because of Shawn Green sitting out nearly half the season because of contract negotiations, the Mets were already scrambling ... but having to use LoDuca and their backup catcher means that nobody is available to play catcher. So Lastings Milledge is putting on unfamiliar pads. Steven Trachsel, the expected starter, is resting as well, and the ball is being handed to John Maine. Also appearing are Eric Chavez, Aaron Hernandez and Cliff Floyd. Looks like the Mets figure its best to lose an interleague game rather than one later on."

"Really, we joke about Quadruple A, but this team barely qualifies as AAA. They do have the core of the order, with Reyes, Wright, Delgado, and Green. But players are all out of position. Anyway, here we go ... Reyes is up for the Mets and he jacks it out of the park! A nice start for the Mets."

"Now in the bottom of the first, John Maine walks Swisher, then gives up a single to Payton. Kendall flies out at in deep center ... he just doesn't have the power to reach the wall [1]. Frank Thomas takes a patient walk ... bases loaded with one out. Scutaro lines out to third, and then Kotsay hits a one hopper to shortstop, to let Main Escape."


"Top of the Seventh .... Mets still lead 1-0. After the first inning both pitcher settled down. A few runners got on base, but nothing ever came of it. Now the Mets threatening with runners on first and third, one out ... and Cliff Floyd hits a deep ball to Center ... and it's gone! That will drive Loiaza from the mound ...."

"Bottom of the ninth. Mets are up 11-0, as the A's bullpen gets pounded. But everyone's sticking around to see if John Maine can deliver the shutout."

"First up, Marc Ellis .... a strong fly to left field, but Cliff Floyd is sitting under it. One out. Next up is Brian Kielty ... he takes a strike, then drives it straight back to Maine, who gets a glove on the ball and bats it down. An easy throw to first .... the crowd is on it's feet, cheering for Maine..."

"At this point the game is a laugher, but seeing a shutout is something special. Final batter, Crosby. Ball one. A nice curve for strike one. And .... ooh, he got all of that. A solo shot for Crosby to break up the shutout. Maine went 8 2/3rds ... oh so close. Now here's swisher, who hits it straight to Valentin at second (replacing the unknown Hernandez who pulled up short trying to beat out a throw to first base in the 5th [2]. John Maine gets the complete game win, putting this team of misfits on his shoulder and carrying them to the split."

"Maine's #s. 9 IP, 6 Hits, 1 run. 4 Walks, 4 Ks, 37 Batters faced."

[1] Kendall got N-HR twice, but he's weak. He also, as in this at bat, missed a HR split.

[2] Hernandez has literally one good roll against a RHP, but not only did he manage to not get a hit, he get a running injury. Amazing. For those keeping score at home, there were five injuries in this series.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

TI:3 - Chad is running away with it!

Above you see a picture of the race I get to lead to galactic domination in Twilight Imperium 3 on Labor Day. Curses!

Here is a quick post to show the random race picks. Please be so kind as to post which of your two you'll be playing in the comments:

Chad: University of Jonl-Nar, L1z1x Mindnet
Chris: The Embers of Muaat, The Clan of Sarr
Jon: Naalu Collective, Sardakk N’orr
Michael: Emirates of Hacan, Mentak Coalition
Steve: Federation of Sol, Xxcha Kingdom
Ben: The Winnu, Yssaril Tribes (aka: suckiest race picks ever!)


Bring back Dune!

For all fans of Dune the game, Dune the books, Dune the mythos.... Found this on CriticalGamers online:

An online petition has been formed in hopes that Fantasy Flight Games and Kim Herbert (current holder of the Dune License) might at least talk about the idea of a Dune board game ..... a FFG reprint of the original (and not a new Twilight Imperium game based on the Dune game system which is the current plan). After all, as of now, it seems like they haven’t even spoken to each other.

Go, sign it now. I'm sure it won't work, but hey, here's to hoping.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Monday Planning

Now that I'm back from Dallas (having missed Saturday ....) I'm up for gaming. If there is sufficient mass, I could be there by 1pm. If not, I'll be there at the normal time.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Board Gaming

It looks like I'm the first one to report in, so I'll log my portion of today's session report. Games I played (with the winner):

Cartagena (Ben)
Zooloretto (Michael)
Phoenicia (Jon, with much gnashing of teeth by Michael)
6 Nimmt (Steve)
Star Wars Queen's Gambit (Ben)

By far the most fun I had during the day was SW:QG, a fantastically exciting and enjoyable board game. Steve and I fought a close battle throughout the game, with me leading the evil forces. Darth Maul barely managed to cut down the two Jedi, but then only had enough strength to cleave down 4-5 of the Queen's guards before falling himself. It actually felt like I was playing Descent instead for a few minutes.

Fortunately, by that time I pretty much won the Battle of Naboo, and Anakin couldn't seem to get his starfighter to fly anywhere near the Droid Control Ship. Eventually, my droids in the palace slowly ground down the Queen's body guards until I finally wiped them out just outside the throne room.... cue the Imperial March now!

Unfortunately amidst all of the excitement, I forgot to lead the race draws for next Monday's TI:3 game. I'll try to do so on Monday evening if there ends up being a session then. If not, then maybe not until next Saturday unless everyone wants to trust me on the honor system to randomly pick the race pairs.


Pushing it to the wall....8/24 quick report

The plan was to get there by 5pm, but I finally arrived at 5:45pm. As usual, it was a long boring and tiring 4hr-drive from League City,TX. I played:

Nexus Ops: Jon, Ben, Steve,me...

After giving away a few mines to my enemies, I actually became a threat by being the first to score a few decent vp's. Then it was downhill from there on. Steve and Ben pounded on my guys. Soon after Steve's empire, who couldn't be contained by my whimpy army (after many botched battles), or Jon's who was distracted by the luring power of the Nexus, ran away with it.

Leonardo Da Vinci: Ben, Steve, me

I'm going to start doing this more.... bringing games that I know I have enjoyed a lot in the past, but have been left the past. Last time I played this was about a year ago. This game punishes you if you miss controlling some of the early inventions, because you lose the precious discounts you get from them (I was reminded of this the hard way). The end game score was very interesting: eventhough Ben had the most inventions completed, Steve ran away with it (again!!), and I was a very close third (for controlling a SINGLE invention).

Arkadia: Jon, Me, Michael, Chris

Clean mechanics, fun tetris tile placement game. Jon first, me second, andMichael frustrated.

I teach you TICHU: Jon, Michael, Chris

Me? I wasn't really least my mind wasn't. I need theme, and interesting mechanics. Trick-taking and CLIMBING games like this are ALL mechanic. they just simply don't work for me. Keeping track of who plays what, who draws what, who passed etc is just not fun for me. Now having said that, TICHU does have its charm. It was growing on me as we played. I may come to like it, as its intricacies become second nature to me (what to pass to whom, when to play a hand, etc). For now, it feels too much like work....

Plus I do have to admit, this is probably the hardest thing to translate in my head. I'm not used to the 'lingo': "I have ace king high, to your double full house trump peacock dragon".... que?.

All in all, it was great to see you all again. Fun times.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Saturday Gaming

Who wants to come over and play games on Saturday? Jeff and I can host starting at 9 am.

Some talk has indicated that the following games are of interest this weekend:

Marvel Heroscape
Struggle of Empires
Jambo w/ Expansion
The latest pile of Battle Lore expansions...

Also, I'd like to try a multi-player game of Maharaja: Palace Building in India. Jeff says, "Hansa, Powergrid, Notre Dame, Amun Re, Goa." I guess that means he'd like to play them.

Please RSVP in the comments.

Twilight Imperium 3 Update

Greetings, Earthlings. We're still gearing up for a Labor Day game of Twilight Imperium 3 (fully loaded with expansion options). So far, it looks like the following people will be playing... I mean leading their people in an epic struggle for galactic domination:

Michael (99%)
Steve (probably)

This is a last call for additional players. We'll conduct random race draws on Saturday (two per person, pick one). Comment in the post if you want to join in on the fun.


Life Imitates Art--er, Gaming

And this ties into boardgaming how?

For those of us involved in the Strat-o-Matic league, there was an amusing little baseball game played last night in which the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3. Yep, Texas scored thirty runs. I just had to post some observations because it reminded me so much of some of our Strat-o-Matic games...except it REALLY HAPPENED.

The Rangers were actually losing at one point 3-0.

The Rangers had more innings in which they did not score than innings in which they did score.

This is the most runs scored by one team in a game in over a century.

Two Rangers had 7 RBIs each. They were the 8th and 9th hitters (usually the worst hitters in the entire lineup).

This was actually the first game of a doubleheader! They had to get back on the field and immediately play another game. (Hey, that's just like our league!)

The Rangers set a team record for runs scored in a doubleheader...before they even started the second game.

In their previous two games, the Rangers had scored a grand total of--count 'em-- two runs.

A Ranger pitcher actually got a save in this game. A save. In a 27-run beatdown. There's just something so very wrong about that.

And perhaps the most staggering fact of all: 30 runs were scored by one team...and it wasn't the Yankees.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monday Post-Gaming

Jon and I arrived early ... and played two quick games of Notre Dame. After Michael woke up and dragged himself in, we broke out Phoenicia. I discussed this earlier, but I really must say it's got that "One more game" going. Jon, Michael and I played four games. Then we played some cards (Tichu and Flaschenteufel). Then Michael and I played our SABBL games (and the Yankees got swept, leaving them 6-6, with the Twins standing atop the AL at 7-3).

Meanwhile Jon taught Amy, Sean, Jeff and Al our latest addiction. While the Yankees were imploding, Phoenicia was being played. When we finished, two more games of Phoenicia. So for those of you keeping score at home ... seven games played.

Partially it's just that it's fast. If a runaway leader happens (and it does, especially until you get the feel for the game) it just ends quickly. Far faster than Scepter. We probably did our 4 (3-player) games in 3 hours. Two four player games were 1.5 hours. The five player game was also 1.5 hours, but 20-30 minutes of that was rules.

Anyway, it definitely wins Game of the Week award.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Monday Planning

Jon and I should be showing up around 1pm. So the festivities start a bit earlier this week...


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Gaming

As usual, lots of games played at Casa de Chris. But I'll focus on two. We played a quick game of Dune ... in fact, it ended on turn 2. This was definitely a case of feeling things out. Ben and I formed an alliance then, as worm followed worm, we invited Jon in. That's when we discovered that the counter alliance of Steve, Scott and Chris could (as they say in the vernacular) "Bring the pain." Spice flowed freely, since whatever they bid for cards got paid to Chris, who could refund it. And with Scott controlling FedEx (aka the Guild), shipping was free too! It got ugly.

Anyway, we could have unwound it, but we'll chalk it up to learning.

Anyway, I had a new copy of Phoenicia. I've written a full review at the Geek. Suffice it to say that Pheonicia falls into the "Scepter of Zavandor" family, which got played quite a bit (to death?) around here last Winter. I won the first game (not surprising, as these games have a learning curve) but Scott and I bid each other up and let Jon get a nice combination at list price. By the mid-game he had more income, more VPs, could hold more cards, and more workers. To compensate, we had less of everything.

However, one of Phoenicia's strengths is that the game plays quickly. I think we did two games in under two hours ... with the rules. (We could get three player Scepter in an hour, but it took a few games. We'll probably trim this down a bit, too). Tonight I played three 2-player games online, bringing my record for the day to 1-4, with three of the losses being laughers. I'll figure this out eventually.

Other games played include Notre Dame, Caylus Magna Carta, and Descent.


Friday, August 17, 2007

The Spice Must Flow: Twilight Imperium 3 on 9/3/07

We're playing another game of Twilight Imperium 3 on Labor Day. So far we have three confirmed players and one definite maybe. If you'd like to join us, please post in the comments. We'll begin planning in earnest within a week or so.


Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

As some of you know, I'll be going to SA again next weekend. I should be in town by 5pm (maybe even 4pm) on Friday. From my preliminary emailing, it seemed like Friday (8/24) afternoon/evening may be a good option for gaming. I don't usually play Friday evenings, but I'll be spouse-less (yeah!..... *cough*....I mean, sniff sniff), so it would work perfectly. I would recommend/prefer Dragon's Lair.

I'm working on Saturday, and Saturday evening and Sunday morning are probably not good for me.

Anyone? Anyone?

Thank you Simone....


sabg ffl

Is there any interest in a SABG Fantasy Football League?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Saturday Planning Post

I can't wait--I'm ready to play some games! Anyone going to be around Saturday for some games? Time to make plans.

As always, post in comments.

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What's missing from Battlelore?

A: Halberdiers
B: Arbalestiers
C: Ostriches

The answer, of course, is D: All of the above.

The Battlelore Goblin Marauders and the Hundred Years War packs (featuring the above as well as Spearmen, Hyenas, and Hobgoblins) are now shipping. Thought Hammer has them in stock already and is shipping them as well.

DOW has not yet said officially how they will correct the banner color error in the Marauders pack, but it's pretty clear that they *will* be corrected. The official blog says the information to get the replacement banners shipped to owners will be put up on the website after they get back from GenCon, which is probably in a week or so.

I hope so. I'm gonna be needing it. Time to go rope me some ostriches.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

World of Warcraft the Board Game: Burning Crusade

I never progressed too far into the on-line Burning Crusade expansion before deciding I wanted more out of life than to sit for days at a time in front of a monitor grinding away. I'm sure many people still find the game exciting, but after about a year of putting a few hours a week into the game, I pretty much grew sick of it. Now instead I waste this free time with board gaming, and I'm quite happier for the choice.

Thankfully in 2005 FFG released the board game version of WoW, which I find much more engaging from a visual and social standpoint. I've played the board game to completion I believe three times now, and though its not my favorite FFG big box game, I'm happy to allow it nearly a full shelf of real estate in my game closet.

I do feel the base game was dramatically improved with last year's Shadow of War expansion set, which added a significant amount of PvP interaction plus a reason to kill lots of blue monsters. The combat system within the game system is still its hallmark as is the character development system that captures a lot of the excitement of leveling up in the computer version.

So, when I saw the rules to the next expansion set, The Burning Crusade, posted on-line, I dashed over to check them out. My first impressions are as follows:
  • A September release is projected, but I predict around December based on previous FFG predictions around the holidays
  • This is one huge expansion, with a large pile of new monsters, a large expansion board for Outland, the requisite pile of new decks and replacement cards, five new mega bosses, two new characters, and a bunch of dungeons added to the game.
  • The rules for the dungeons take up a significant portion of the new 48 page rulebook. I haven't looked in enough detail to see how interactive they'll be between the players, but this certainly must have been a key consideration
  • All the characters in the game can progress now to Level 6 instead of Level 5
  • The only way to end the game now is to take out the final boss
  • The rules actually encourage having a second table available to hold all the game components
  • I think its safe to say this is now going to be an 8-hour experience of game. Pre-order your pizza for this one folks!

So, in short, FFG added pretty much more of everything to this game. I'm looking forward to playing it, though I realize the massive scale of this game is going to scare away a good portion of our group, let alone general society. I think this game must be squarely aimed at the hardcore FFG-phile style of gamer like I am. If there are tons of great components, great theme, and fun gameplay, who cares if it takes all day to play!


SABBL All-Star Break

As the SABBL season passes the halfway point, I thought I'd post the standings and some stats:

Yankees (Brian) 5-3
Twins (Michael) 5-3
Tigers (Scott) 4-4
A's (Jon) 3-5

Padres (Sean) 4-4
Mets (Mark) 4-4
Dodgers (Chris) 4-4
Cardinals (Dennis) 3-5

Not surprisingly, given that these are all playoff teams, the standings are pretty tight. I'll put various team and individual stats in the comments sections. Some of them are fun to look at and compare to the real life players, and some are an interesting reflection of manager tendencies (especially things like saves or stolen bases).

Highly Abbreviated Session Report

Not too much to report from Monday gaming, so I'm keeping it short and picture free for a change. Jon and I kicked off with baseball, and by the time Jeff got there baseball was being played 6 deep by Dennis, Brian, Jon, Scott, Sean and myself. Mercifully we ended eventually and after a brief blizzard interlude, Sean, Jeff, Jon and I got a game of Tichu in. After that concluded I watched Dennis and Chris finish up their baseball game and then Sean, Brian, Dennis and I tried Control Nut.

To summarize. It is a trick taking game with a standard 52 card deck that has been rethemed with "nut" suits and a preplay bidding mechanism that seems to offer some depth but felt chaotic to me in the absence of some sort of prearranged discussion (similarly I could see how bridge's auction mechanic could feel difficult if you just explained the rules to 4 people, gave them a pack of cards and said go).

To be honest, I really really dislike when card games attempt to retheme the standard 52 card deck. Anyone who has played any amount of card games has basically been programmed to think in Aces, Kings, Spades etc, and to all of a sudden have to remember instead nuts and 1-13 instead becomes a problem. This may seem like a minor complaint, but I think it is very valid and a huge sticking point to the ability to enjoy the game. Basically, if it acts like a deck of cards it really should look like one as well.

Tichu has a similar flaw in that the standard suits have been replaced with random weird suits, but since the rest of the deck looks the same and the suits, for the most part, don't factor in, this doesn't bother me.

Being able to name the trump suit seems at least at the moment to be dominant. Even on the last hand when I held at the beginning a 5332 equivalent of a 2n opener with very little out of the short suits that I could give away happily, which ballooned to a good 6443 25 count by the time the auction phase was complete, guaranteed no ability to do well in the hand. On the last round of the auction what I really wanted to do was overtake Brian barely with a signal to Sean that would beg him to choose my 6 card suit but barring discussion there was no clear way. So I elected to do the equivalent of defending and was able to take very few points (relatively)that way. Given that the control cards are for the most part very powerful, if a decent method for communication between hands were worked out, I don't see any reason that the game would not degenerate into a situation where people go all out to be able to pick the trump suit and especially go all out to split the trump suit somewhat between the two hands and grab the timer card thing with one of them.

Overall, not a hugely favorable overall impression.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Civilization 4 Beyond the Sword

I thought it might be nice to compile a list of resources that might help the potential burgeoning sub-community of Civ 4 addicts among us:

First no matter what else you do or do not do, I highly recommending installing the Hall of Fame mod for Beyond the Sword or whatever version you are actually playing. For the most part it offers unaltered gameplay. It fixes a nasty problem with corporations in that your inflation spirals out of control if you run too many of them which, in addition to the already steep maintenance costs associated with them, can be a killer. The much better part of the mod though is the enhanced Civ4lerts mod embedded in it. Basically, in the options, there will be toggles for the game to give alerts in the game log text to inform you of recent or impending events like city growth, city unhappiness, city unhealthiness, impending victories etc. If I have one complaint about the Fall from Heaven 2 mod, it would be that I don't know enough to embed a civ4lerts style mod within it and it becomes much harder to play without that crutch.

The civfanatics forums offer some interesting ideas about strategy, information about modding, very polished mods for the games, and public games that can be examined with multitudes of screenshots to get an idea of how the best players make their magic. To top it off, there are some really great strategy articles about drafting and the mechanics of hammer overflow. How great are those? I would have to say pretty great.

Also, we really need to get an A&A pbem up sometime. I was really sad when it all fell through the last time we attempted.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007


We just got back from seeing Stardust. It's a faithful adaptation of Neil Gaiman's / Charles Vess' book. A good, geeky, summer movie, with plenty of magic and action, great effects, and a first rate cast.

Go see it.

And take your wife.


I'll be there at the normal time. Games that I'd like to try (in no particular order)

Control Nut -- A partnership trick taking game with 8 special cards. Each hand, four of are auctioned off by giving away three of your cards. The only communication allowed is done by displaying your cards you offer (you can make deliberately losing bids). [Perhaps this will take over from Tichu].

Twilight -- Another weird trick taking game. Two players play the sun, and two players play the moon. You can only play cards in your own suit ... but you can ask any other player to play for you (in fact, you must do that if you don't have any cards in your suit).

Here I Stand -- I just got the C3I with the 2 player version. Anyone interested. [It also has a new CC:E scenario]. (This may be a touch long, unless you remember the HiS rules. I do, though].

Ars Mysteriorum -- I haven't played this since it was a prototype ... need to try it again.

Phoenicia -- assuming its out.

Anyway, RSVP in the comments. And list games you are interested in.


Four cheers for Chris!

Not only did he host, he had a ton of food ... donuts, bananas, and the like! (Scott also brought some food, and Steve may have too, I'm not sure). Truly impressive. People streamed in starting around eight-ish. There was baseball (oh yes), while the rest of us started off with Power Grid. I lost, and I'm not sure how. I really must learn how to count.

After that there were a couple of games going around. I saw the Marvel Comic Heroscape, Some zooloretto, and we played Augsburg. Now that I've played it three times, I'm lukewarm. (It was a trade, though). Then some Smarty Party, to feel the cleansing hate.

Followed by Lunch. Despite all of the breakfast stuff, Chris (and Steve) went out and got fajitas. During the caloric interlude Guitar Hero was set up and played. Then it was a split again. Ben and I played the War of the Ring Expansion. (I've played the base game a dozen or so times, but never the expansion). In general, things went for the free peoples. I got decent hunt roles and usually stretched the sieges out an extra action or two. On the downside, I did have to deal with the Balrog. Overall the expansion is fine, and I'll have to try it a few more times, but I'm not sure it's better than the Will of the West variant for the base game.

Anyway, I also saw Kremlin, Battle Lore, Win Place or Show and then there's all that happened after I left. For all I know it involved a buffet. Post in comments.

(The game shown is Suppenkasper, where you try to maintain your ideal weight. There is a weight track, where you move from anorexic to morbidly obese).


Friday, August 10, 2007

Starcraft the Board Game

The site and the rules are up here. Niiiice!

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FFG's Tannhauser - Marketing that works least on me. Some of you may have noticed FFG's announcement late Wednesday regarding their pre-release promotional offer associated with their upcoming US printing of the French game Tannhauser. In short, if you pre-order at full retail ($59.95) from either FFG directly or your FLGS, you get a free bonus figure (~$9.95 retail value). You may remember last year a similar campaign was used by Days of Wonder for their BattleLore game, which offered the Hill Giant and Earth Elemental for pre-orders.

I freely admit I buy the vast majority of my board games from high discount on-line retailers. Usually I use Thought Hammer despite the State of Texas sales tax, just because I appreciate the free shipping for orders over $150 and the short ship time from their central Texas warehouse. The only exceptions I ever make to this are games less than $20 full retail I will sometimes buy from the FLGS.

Tannhauser from Thought Hammer sells for approximately $44 (including sales tax). At FFG it will cost $14 more. I'm considering shipping a wash, though I'd probably get it free from TH. Is it worth it to me to pay the extra $14 for the free figure? Yes, it is. They've got me, darn it!

One interesting aspect of this situation is that apparently the FFG pre-order promotional figure is not exclusive to the pre-order offer. At least according the posters on BGG, the figure will be available for regular purchase in a few months, so what you're really paying a premium for is early adoption. There is, of course, the risk that the game will totally suck, but I think it will be popular enough to enable re-sale easily enough at only a minor loss.

Is anyone else thinking about getting this game? I do wonder a bit about the way Germans are portrayed in the game as either ugly demon zombie males or slutty, leather clad females. But, the game is from France, so perhaps there's some lingering cultural animosity there. I'm a big fan of the Hellboy and BPRD graphic novels plus of course Wolfenstein, so the theme works for me.

In semi-related news, things are looking slightly better for me to attend Essen this year, for at least 1-2 days. I'll be finished with my work in the UK (Manchester) on October 16th, and Essen is just a 1 hour flight plus a 1 hour train ride away. I'm not completely ready to get excited about it yet, but the trip is getting more likely. Woo hoo! Now to figure out how I can back to San Antonio by that Sunday at 0600 AM to do a 20 mile run with my marathon training group...


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ode to Vassal

So a few of us (Ben, Jon, and yours truly) finally started using vassal to get our game I have to say that talking online using Skype makes this a lot easier.

After getting both above it's all a matter of getting any game module you want. The list of games you can play is pretty darn impressive. We've downloaded a bunch of them, but have only played (click on the images for actual size):

BattleLore (3 games total)

Tigris and Eufrates (ongoing game with all 3 players using Vassal)

Twilight Struggle (Rob vs Ben... just started tonight)

It's been great playing live with voice-chat. I even have a camera which would be great to make faces while "running away with it", but have not used it because no one else has one.

To the ones that have heard this from me before, it may sound like a broken record... but Vassal really is great for our busy lifestyles. Whenever you have a chance to play for a bit, and you find any of us online on Skype, you can play for as long as you can. If you can't play a full game (because the boiling pasta ran out of water, the baby started crying, the wife started nagging, etc), simply save the game . You can continue later on from where you left off, whenever you meet again on Skype.

Needless to say...I'm not going back to PBEM. Enjoy Saturday gaming.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Yeah, we're gonna need you to come play games on Saturday...that'd be great...

Time to start planning for Saturday.

I'll host this weekend, since I finally got my new dining room table and can now proudly say that I have more than one chair to my name in my house. Start time is up to group consensus (8am is fine). I live in the general area of 281N and 1604.

There is a game of Descent that may happen in the early morning if enough people are interested (I know it's not everyone's cup o' tea). Beyond that, it's pretty open. I have a decent size coffee table with a couch and oversized chair that has been tested and works ok for board games for two or three people as well.

Please consider bringing a few games if you have some--my selection is fairly limited and lopsided towards Fantasy Flight Games-ish stuff at this point. I enjoy the short-to-medium Euro style games a lot, I just don't really have any at this point, primarily because so many other people do (and usually have theirs around).

RSVP in comments.

P.S. I have a cat. Sorry Amy, but I figured you needed to know. If you and Jeff are available this weekend, we can shift this somewhere else and have it at my place another time.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I will Stage no more forever

Quick recap of Monday gaming:

Stage II

I think I'm done with this game, except to write questions & categories.


Had to stop after four hands so that Jeff could leave. I find I get most of the juicy goodness of Barbu in a much shorter game: Too Many Cooks. I wonder if the "everybody calls a game simultaneously" mechanic from that could be adapted to Barbu to shorten its playing time. Obviously the games would have to change -- you couldn't use Fan Tan, and one person playing Trumps while another plays Ravage would kind of cancel each other out. Worth some thought, though.

Gang of Four

I'm not a big fan of "climbing" card games except as a pasttime. In college we used to play this all night while waiting in line for registration (pre-Internet, obviously), using a regular pack of playing cards. I like Great Dalmuti for its interesting deck construction, and Lexio for the nice feel of its tiles, but that's about the end of it.

Gang of Four is vanilla climbing with a scoring system tacked on so that the game ends in a reasonable space of time (or if you are playing with Jon, an unreasonably short amount of time). Which is fine by me, though I think I'd rather play Dalmuti with the same scoring system. In this one Michael snaked me by a point, 14-15-120 (low scores are good).


This one, however, goes straight to the bottom after two plays. Which is disappointing, because I've heard so many good things about it. While the "bidding Tichu" idea is an improvement, the ability to play straights longer than 5 cards destroys the card play for me. In other climbing games, you need at least three plays (5/5/3), and often several more, to denude your entire hand, and a lot of thought can go into the order with which you approach it. In more than half of the 14 hands of Tichu I have now played, someone has layed down 7-12 cards in one play; the decision space then shrinks considerably, and the hand practically plays itself. Also, in most climbing games, if you hang onto a five-card combo long enough, it may become the best one out there, and give you a way to interrupt the other guy. In Tichu, the hand rarely lasts long enough, with the leader going out in 2 plays, so you just have to pray you are dealt/passed a bomb. I have yet to have a tricky card play decision in Tichu, whereas I had several in just five hands of Gang of Four.

Shear Panic

For most of the game, I liked this abstract, as it seemed to have some look-ahead to it rather than just optimizing your points from move to move. But the last move resulted in the most naked kingmaking situation I've every seen -- Michael had a couple of ways to score a maximum four points, but one (shift his sheep one space back) would give me the win, while the other (rotate the flock) would give Sean the win. So we called it a tie and a night.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I'm finally caught up on stats -- the file will be emailed out by the end of the day. We've completed 18 games out of 64, and Week 1 is completely in the books. Here are the remaining games to be played in the first half of the season:

Twins at A's
Mets at Dodgers (according to the blog, this was played, but I need scoresheets)

Padres at Twins
Dodgers at Tigers

Tigers at Twins
Cards at Mets
Dodgers at Padres

Right now it's looking like a Subway Series for the championship, as both the Mets and Yankees are out in front. If Mark is around, my Cards (with their 1.8 runs scored per game) will do their best on Monday to bring the Mets back to Earth.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Build me an army worthy of Mordor...Oooh! No, write me a session report instead!

We had a large turnout for gaming this morning. Ben, Jon, Chris, Michael, and Steve joined Amy and I. We got things rolling with a game of 6 Nimmt! During the first hand, Amy's friends Lisa and Tiffany showed up, so we called the 6 Nimmt! game early. I don't recall who was winning at that point, but it certainly wasn't me.

Ben and Steve went down to the Kitchen for Epic BattleLore while Amy, Lisa and Tiffany set up Cartagena on the coffee table. That left Jon, Chris, Michael and myself to play Goa on the main gaming table. The Goa game was fairly standard: Expedition cards are remarkable potent, Michael complained about poor draws (and they were, in fact, poor). I took my first action on autopilot and did the first thing I always do in 2-player Goa which completely hosed my 4-player strategy, and caused me to spend the next two turns trying to repair the damage (yeah, I lost this one). Jon squeaked out a one point win.

Meanwhile on the coffee table, the ladies finished their game of Cartagena, and also finished a game of Tikal. Tikal was a big hit with both Lisa and Tiffany. Lisa had to leave afterwards.

The Epic BattleLore session ended with Ben on the losing end. He proclaimed the scenario to be unbalanced. I'll leave it up to Steve and him to add any details they feel are relevant and to debate the scenario's balance in the comments.

After lunch we split for Arkham Horror (Ben Steve Chris) and Vegas Showdown (Jon Michael Jeff Amy Tiffany). The forces of darkness, or evil, or chaos, or tax collectors, or something ate our valiant heroes while the rest of us were building profitable casinos. Michael spent the first seven turns or so buying Slots. Just Slots. I braced myself for his degenerate strategy to suddenly explode in a shower of points, but it never did. He won a close, down-to-the-wire game. He admitted afterwards that he'd never seen the "All Slots, All the time" strategy win before (so why was he trying it?) but now I guess it has some validity. Despite the lack of hedgehogs, heads were stood upon.

We got in a game of Frank's Zoo while waiting for the Arkham Horror game to finish. Tiffany called it a day at this point but we sent her away with a ton of websites for gaming reference and purchase. Steve also had to depart.

Ben and Chris played some two player stuff in the kitchen while the remaining four of us (Michael Jon Jeff Amy) dove into Barbu, the Epic Trick Taking Game. In Barbu, you play 32 hands, with each player dealing 8 times. When you're the dealer, you have to choose which of the eight rulesets you'll be using for that hand (they're all simple - stuff like: standard trick-taking with each trick being worth 5 points OR standard trick-taking with each trick being worth negative 2 points OR standard trick-taking where the King of Hearts is worth negative 15 points and everything else is zero). Each dealer must choose each ruleset exactly once. It took us just over three hours, but the time flew by.

Most everyone called it quits at that point, but Michael and I split a pair of games of Jambo.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Monday Gaming

For a while, there were just three of us monday -- Michael, Chris and me. Michael, like anyone with an addictive OCD personality, was clamoring for more Tichu. But, as we were three, we played Take it Easy and Parley. [My initial thoughts on Parlay are on my blog].

When Jon arrived, Michael got his wish ... and some of the most atrocious cards since St. Louis at the turn of the 20th century. [OK, technically they were the Browns when they went 29-102, but still ...] [That's all the baseball content for this week, folks!]

While we were playing, we got some new attendees! Joe and Carolla stopped by, having been pointed our way by Ben. They tried out Roma while I kept our table entertained with repeated Tichu calls. Anyway, when everyone was done we switched to Citadels. Sean arrived just in time to make it seven. After a back and forth game, I managed to get the Architect on the last turn, not get assassinated, and draw a cheap building to finish all five colors for six points (at the cost of one gold) and the win.

At this point Joe and Carolla (and eventually Jon) said goodbye, and we went back to Tichu. Michael and I got off to a terrible start, and eventually had around 650 to Sean and Chris's 970. We managed to get 110 points the next hand (which cost our opponents 10), which put us over 700, but still left them a mere 40 or so from winning. However, on the next hand I managed to call and make Tichu as Michael and I went out 1-2, for 300 points and the game.

Then everyone went home.

One note for our growing Tichu community. According to the FAQ if you win the Dragon trick by bombing, you don't give the trick away. So let it be written, so let it be done.