Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rockin, Gamin' and Chillin'

The day in brief:

After swinging by to pick up Michael, upon arrival at the casa de Chris there was some rockin'. The band switched between Chris, Steve, Michael and me. We did decently. It took the arrival of Brian to prompt some actual gaming.

We played Tribune, before breaking to order some pizza, and some more band stuffs occurred. Steve convinced me to try a nice, quick, painless war game. I we played Command and Colors Ancients. He won. But I did some damage. I still think he was going easy on me, to give me a feel for the game, but he insists that he didn't.

Then there was some more rock band. Until the pizza came, and Steve left before the pizza came.

And so we decided to play a nice game of Agricola to pass the time until the game started. and Mr Black tried to play in the game bags, with very little success. But he was not deterred. And One game turned into two. And i think Michael won both games.

And then we watched the Cowboys win. And we dispersed and went home.

Thoughts on Tribune: Yet another worked placement game. Similar to Pillars in the fact that you are placing your pieces to take certain cards/actions. There are several conditions to victory, most of which are achieved through the powers bestowed on you by controlling various factions of the roman populous. It was a close game, we were all within about 6vp of each other, and we all achieved the conditions for victory at the same time. I liked the game, fairly straight forwards. I don't think that it will be a massive repeat play like Agricola, since the only variety is which cards come up/the value of the cards. There is not a rule breaking mechanism to change things up extensively. But it is always nice to see a game about the Romans that does not involve a war. Other than perhaps Ostia (which is about the harbor of Rome and not Rome itself) and maybe the aquaduct game, there isn't really a large niche for non-wargamey ancient roman games. Which is a shame, but they were rather efficient at the fighting thing. I think it would be fantastic to have a game about the founding of Rome with Romulus and Remus, populating the seven hills and what not, but that might just be me. I don't know how a game mechanism would deal with the signs from the gods as to which brother was going to be in charge, but thats a different story.

Thoughts on Command and Colors: So I was the Syracusians (i think) and Steve was the Carthiginians. And I was defending my home against the forces of Hannibal Barca, son of Hamilcar. (Though I really think that Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major is a much better name. And the man with the better name ended up winning the battle in reality as least). So other than the issue that what you are doing is significantly limiting. And I didn't really know what my troops were doing. So there was a lot of wait -- how many do these ones move-- how many dice do I get -- if I do this then I can do that???? -- sort of things. But Steve was very patient. And he won with five decimated troops to me three. So what didn't really make sense to me, was the fact that out of the 12 units you start with, you only have to kill off 5. That just seems -- too easy. It really should be at least a majority, or something. But it wasn't so bad. I might even play it again. It is, and I am horrified to admit this, a nice change from the resource management worker placement buts. i am not saying that I loved the game, but i was not opposed to it. It seems kind of light and fluffy, and as long as I only played light fluffy wargames, I might play more of them.

Agricola: So tonight we had some evil killer card combinations. I had the wet nurse which let me pay a food to get a family member every time I extended my house by a room. Which was nice to never have to take family growth. Brain got a card that let him pay one food to steal a wood anytime someone took any wood, which he used just to piss people off sometimes (and by people i mean me) and then Chris played some occupation that he got a wood from the 3 wood space anytime anyone took the three wood space. I am getting a little better at having a consistent score in the 30's. And this pleases me. One of these days i will break 40.

And football was nice as well. It is nice to see the Cowboys win, despite some fumbles and interceptions and things.


At 1:27 AM, September 22, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

Agricola was not quite as soul crushing as advertised. But it was very Caylus-y. The random element seems very important from the games I played. Both games I snagged occupations that interfered with or outright ruined important occupations that Brian had and both times the setback delayed him enough to hold him off.

Without the interfering cards, this doesn't happen.

Rock Band was fun, but that was quite a scare seeing that new guy only 84 points below me now. Tsk, tsk, must practice my getting the beat.

I will do the endless setlist solo sometime this week. Stay tuned to see if I make any attempt at the Steel Bladder achievement. Cooler heads say no, but in the heat of the moment, you never know what I might try.

Also, I saw that Sean now owns Rock Band 2.

We unlocked the impossible guitar challenge today. So one night, we need to assemble up to 4 of us to snag that achievement. Dennis also needs to unlock the impossible Drum Challenge so we can snag that at some point.

Jon and Steve both forgot how hard it is to watch the Cowboy's game at Chris' house when they aren't at Chris' house. Oops.

At 7:48 AM, September 22, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

Michael, I believe you can acquire Depends undergarments for just such an occasion.

If I remember correctly, I think Romulus wasn't exactly a peaceful fellow, killing his brother with a spade for hoping over a little ditch around the village of Rome.

While in Ohio, I did get to see all the new Mutant Chronicles stuff in action. The minis were actually a bit disappointing in my opinion, perhaps a step or two down from the AT-43 figures. The game itself wasn't being played.

The Blackbeard living rules have been released with about a third of the text in the rulebook revised, including changes to the map and counters. Argh! Never again, Richard Berg. Off to the Math Trade with you.

At 8:25 AM, September 22, 2008, Blogger Tiffany said...

Romulus did kill his brother, after some omen or something. I think it involved a lot of flying birds as a sign from someone. I would have to google it. i might later.

At 2:17 PM, September 22, 2008, Blogger Tiffany said...

So totally unrelated to gaming, but to answer Ben's stuffs. Romulus killed remus for laughing at the hight of the ways surrounded his hill. He had picked the Palatine hill because of a sign from their father. I think it was birds, or at least that is how my Latin teacher taught the myth. I cannot remember if Virgil butchered the time line and put that in the Aeneid as well, since its been a while since I have read it.

At 3:23 AM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

Good news.

I have a steel bladder. And no permanent kidney damage. I just happen to be the worst tambourine player of all time. It was almost as if I wasn't even attempting to hit tambourine sections.

And I have a platinum artist icon.

That thing took a long time, like 8 hours. Sorry for not answering the phone Jon was just finishing up my Lord of the Strings achievement when you were calling.

Left to do: Drum trainer achievements, impossible drum achievement, and the score duel achievements.

At 3:23 AM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

Oh also:

I no longer have the beat :(.

At 7:29 AM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Ye gods Rock Band is addictive. Two firsts for me last night:

- Cracked the top 1000 in drum career score (got as high as 880).

- Got my first full combo, on Nine in the Afternoon. But I didn't gold star I FCed it *again* with a different overdrive path and got my gold.

At 3:02 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

Yeah overdrive pathing is very important if playing for score.

I need to run back through the vocals and figure out which ones I totally messed up the overdrive activations on and get my rank up. I was top 20 after finishing the endless setlist last night but my score isn't very good. Lots of activations where I only captured one phrase before dead silence and stuff like that.

At 3:12 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

Also congrats on the FC.

I still need the guitar FC achievement and the bass upstrum achievement too. I figure I will let the experts handle that.

At 5:07 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

Ok, ordering the RB2 box set with all the instruments. I don't need the guitar (and I didn't really care for it for the 90 seconds I tried it on Sunday), but if I can add correctly, the box set (with guitar) is $190.

The game alone is $60.
Standalone drums $95.
Logitech USB microphone $30.

That's $185.

So I'm getting a RB2 guitar in the box set for $5 more than the parts alone and waiting three weeks.

Guess I'm ok with that.

While we're doing price comparisons, Fallout 3 is $60.

A Collector's Edition is $70 and includes a lunchbox (whee!), a bobblehead (from what I hear, only cool people own the Fallout 3 bobblehead), an art book (lots of sketches, ok, whatever), and a making of DVD.

I used to think all these little doodads were so great. And for $10, why not? But in all the years I've gotten the special editions with their making of DVDs and art books, the only one I've ever looked at was the World of Warcraft one. enjoyed it and was happy I made the investment in that one.

But at this point in my life, watching a DVD of programmers sitting around their office writing code just doesn't hold the same appeal. Call me crazy, I know...

So the point is, I think I've gotten to be an old fogey enough that I'd rather spend the $10 on takeout food than a making of DVD. I am getting old.

But what triggered all this introspection was the discovery of a version of Fallout 3 on that costs $130! What?!?! That's over twice the price of the game itself! And what else do you get above and beyond the $70 collectors stuff? A digital clock. $60 more for a themed digital clock. Yeah, I'll be proud to display THAT in my house. "Look what I spent $60 on! A digital clock themed to a computer game!" Especially proud 5 years later when the game won't even run on the next gen XB system and I still have to display the clock because I spent $60 on it.

If you read the fine print, apparently this digital clock edition is in such high demand that they can only sell one copy per household. That's a shame, because my house would look so hip with THREE of these Fallout clocks at $60 a pop as I set them on the three lunchboxes and the extra copies of the game I won't need. Alas.

Wonder if the game is any good.

At 5:34 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

Don't know if it will be good, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

I'm glad you are getting the box set. That drum set is a HUGE step up from the RB1 kit and if the guitar is even half the upgrade that the drums are you will be getting a steal.

Plus autocalibration FTW.

At 5:56 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger seanp said...

And you could surely sell the guitar to someone in the group, recouping some of the cost.

At 10:08 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Did someone say "someone"? I'm someone!

At 10:18 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Rob said...

Wow.... I find that I don't have the patience for the ultra hard achievements on any of the big blockbuster games. Eventhough I am hooked with my XBOX, I'm not a huge fan of achievement points. Call me an old fart (following Chris's train of thought), but they are just points. I was originally a PC gamer, where storyline, graphics, and gameplay are the focus of games. That's what I look for in my games still (BTW, Force Unleashed is FRAKKING awesome...). Achievement points are the devil.

Now for some reason, in the cheesy but oh-so-addictive arcade games, I actually enjoy getting them.

Ben: Well, I've seen 2 wargames improve after Living Rules. It's the nature of the beast. Some of these wargames are unfortunately, and to the detriment of the hobby as a whole, not well-pollished on the get go. But after seeing how much wargames with Living Rules (read, support) improve, I'd rather have that, than no games at all. Crusader Rex and Shifting Sands are examples of games that improved with Living Rules (ok, I personally can't vouch for SS, but I've tried CR with the new rules and it's MUCH better).

Sorry, I'm in a preachy mood tonight. I just had a meeting with my boss (program director) from UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston), and all is in flux right now with my training, thanks to the freaking hurricane. Pretty stressful times for me. I could be asked to move elsewhere, I might not finish my training (doubtful, but still...), etc.... Puts things like stessing over achievement points in perspective.

At 10:39 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

Hooray! A $35 gift card for Blackbeard just cut my losses.

The on-line java Neuroshima Hex is quite fun.

Fallout 3 is a must buy, but I can't see a collector's set in my future. Perhaps if it included a vault dweller jumpsuit to wear around the house...

VADER: "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."
I'm now on the official deployment schedule for 2011. Time to start planning my retirement party for late 2010...

Rob: I agree living rules are a good thing and represent great service after the sale. Blackbeard may be wonderful now. Please let me know how you like it, and maybe I'll pick up the second printing. :) PS: The hurricane was a sign your destiny lies back here in SA.

Achievements... yes, I like them, but I never go out of my way to earn them. I just like the little noise. Getting 150 achievement from Mercenaries 2 for putting the disk in the train and successfully hitting power on was nice!

At 10:41 PM, September 23, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

I'm sorry to hear that about your training. We're apparently taking two residents into our program from there for who knows how long. Plus some medical students. I've heard the hospital is in bad shape. I hope that there's a good solution to your training dillema in time. I hate to think that it would involve moving somewhere else to complete your training.

As you said, real life tends to put games in perspective.

At 1:38 PM, September 25, 2008, Blogger Rob said...

Can't wait to try Fallout 3. I too have been disenchanted with "super uber editions". For a computer game, there's nothing these editions add to the actual game. In a boardgame, that is different of course. I'm willing to play extra because generally the super uber edition will have stuff that can be used in the game (animeeples anyone? the broken Z deck?).

It looks like I have a spot at a private practice office here in Houston for the forseeable future. We'll see what happens.


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