Saturday, August 26, 2006

The All-Too Familiar Smell

Once again, somehow, I have managed to blow up my home PC. So that means there'll be no updates to the extended stats till I get it working again. Honestly, it shouldn't be that hard to add memory. I've done it before. But somehow twice this year I've blown motherboards trying to stick RAM in. This time I don't even know what I did wrong. It's getting expensive.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Got A Life

I recently had an unsavoury exchange on BoardGameGeek where I objected to one poster's comment that other posters in the thread should "get a life". It was a thread about an aspect of gaming, where many people jumped in with an opinion. The comment I objected to was a particularly patronising one suggesting that other posters should do something like "open the door and step outside and get a taste of what the big wide world has to offer", or something like that. I object very strongly to that sort of comment. I've had two marriages, one child, travelled to dangerous places, my mother has a terminal disease, I'm in love and confused; and if I feel like arguing minutiae of board games, I'll damn well do so. I don't care who you are, I've got a life, every poster on BoardGameGeek has a life that they are leading to the best of their ability, and it's the height of arrogance to assume that because someone wants to discuss small details that they are somehow lacking in other aspects of their lives.

Of course I chose not go into such detail in my reply on the thread, merely pointing out that this was actually a geek website, and that being polite wouldn't go astray. I received email from the "lifer" saying that he'd been on BGG longer than I had (ooh, and his dad could beat my dad up!) and knew what was appropriate. So I told him to get a life :-). Then he called me assorted names which I didn't read very closely and didn't distress me. I know what sort of person he is now. He goes on the list of arseholes to ignore on BGG. I don't see him posting very much, which I guess is lucky for all of us.

Anyway, that's something that Pisses Me Off. We've all got lives, we choose to play board games in them. I don't think for a second that my life is better than anyone else's - I don't know what other people do when they're not posting on BGG, I don't know what motivates and distresses and excites them. We come together to discuss board games, not to play at one-upmanship. We've got lives.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm Awesome

I don't normally post links to stories on other blogs, but this one is an exception.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Le Shipment

Milsims had an insane sale last week or the week before or sometime... as far as we could tell all French games were being disposed of as cheap as possible. I bought China Moon (Faidutti), Dogville, Evo and Saga for a total cost of $A69. Bargain! We played China Moon at Cyberkev's all-day gaming extravaganza, and it's quite a decent game. With 5 players it was pretty chaotic, but what do you expect from Bruno? We followed it up with a couple of games of Democrazy which turns out to be not as bad as I feared, and indeed crazy as M. Faidutti promised. Anyway, now that I own Dogville I am the proud owner of multicoloured dog piddle tokens. Gotta be happy about that, huh? I might see if I can get it played at Critical Mass tomorrow night so I can get some experience before I introduce it to the niece and nephew.


For my birthday my dear sweet sister bought me a deck of Italian playing cards. "Wait!", I hear you cry, "what do you mean by dear sweet sister? One of them's a professional bitch and the other's a psychotic tornado!" I mean the bitch one... this year she has hosted 3 birthday parties for my family, and there are only 1.5 people still in it, so she has hosted above and beyond the call of duty. I even gave her a copy of Apples to Apples to thank her (better than me owning it). Anyway, the "you say bitch like it's a bad thing" sister gave me these Italian playing cards. They have 4 suits - clubs, cups, swords and coins, and have A,2,3,4,5,6,7,J,Q,K. There are no numbers on the cards, you have to count the symbols. They're kinda cool in an arcane but not as boring as normal cards way.

Of course I had to find a game to play with them. My research indicated that the traditional Italian card games were Scopone and Scopa, so on Sunday morning my beautiful Chinese Lost Cities partner and I sat down to see how Scopa worked. This is the 2 player variant. Players are dealt 3 cards each and 4 are dealt face-up in the middle. On your turn you play a card either by capturing cards from the middle or by adding a card to the middle. To capture, you take 1 or more cards whose value adds up to the value of the card you're playing (J=8, Q=9, K=10), and the card you played, and they go into your scoring stash. When players have played their 3 cards they get 3 more until the draw pile is exhausted. If you've played Frog Juice, it seems to be based on Scopone. At the end of the hand you do the scoring.

The person with biggest stash gets a point. The person with the most coins gets a point. The person with the 7 of coins (the beautiful seven) gets a point. The person with the highest prime gets a point, where the prime is one card from each suit where it's best to have 7s, 6s, As, 5s, I forget... Basically having more 7s and 6s than your opponent will win you the prime. That's up to 4 points available from scoring, because ties don't score. But there's an additional rule that if you capture every card in the middle at once, that's called a sweep and is worth a point straight away. Often as more points are scored in sweeps than in the scoring. First player to 11 points wins the game.

After several hours, beautiful opponent had won 3 games and I had won 2. It was interesting enough. She was counting cards, whereas I was struggling to sit up... Sunday morning, gimme a break! It was a nice way to spend a Sunday morning.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

And We're Back!

BGG being down has resulted in many hits on my blog (woohoo!) and a few people being added to the augmented stats list. However the games played logged at BGG have not come back cleanly, so to run the stats now would produce wrong data. If Aldie has somehow managed to lose that data :-( I have a copy of it for all of my existing users :-). When Aldie gets some sleep and makes a pronouncement on the matter I'll decide what to do next.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Solitaire Runebound

So a few weeks ago I had a Sunday morning to myself, so I sat down for a game of Runebound. Today and yesterday I have been off work sick, and played two more games. Long-time readers of this blog might remember an article called "It's Here! It's Here (Part 6 of 6)". Well I wrote that when I received the Runebound expansions, and it has taken since then to get any of them played. I mixed the item and ally expansions into my market deck and I was ready to go.

The first expansion I played was The Scepter of Kyros, the one where the giants are attacking and you have to beat them off. It is played on the standard map, and adds a few green cards and yellow cards and completely replaces the blue and cards with giants. The blue and red cards from the original game are based on the dragons / dragonlord theme, so the expansion does a pretty good job of replacing the story. What I liked most of all was the new challenging opponents. It felt really good to kill my first giant, and damned fine to kill the last one. I actually had a moment of difficulty in this game (playing solitaire you can take your time and risks are minimised) - I had to face Incantim the Runecaster whose special ability is For each Rune Item you possess, all of your Hero's and Allies' damage values are reduced by 1. That meant because I had 3 rune items I couldn't hurt him. I'm not sure how I eventually beat him, maybe I used one of them up somewhere else. It's a bit disturbing how the game can throw impossible situations at you, but more on that later.

The expansion I played yesterday was Crown of the Elder Kings. In this one the players are competing with Vorakesh who's trying to raise Margath; they want to destroy the dragonlords and regain the throne of the Elder King. Whatever... just tell me the victory conditions. You need to collect a set of 3 blue cards, in competition with the other players who are trying to collect intersecting sets. This expansion seems very much to be focused on player interaction, and didn't work particularly well solitaire. I had an ally who got a Before Combat 3 damage magic attack, so I stomped all over most of the opposition and then my first 3 blue cards were a set. I didn't think this adventure was very interesting solitaire. I also had a problem that most of the market items I drew were allies, and so there was nothing to spend my money on - I ended the game with 38 gold. Just a bit boring :-(.

This morning's adventure was the big one, Island of Dread. It has a map overlay, new names for the towns, replaces all of the encounter decks, adds the Island of Dread mini-map, as well as a silver encounter stack and 8 or so new adventurers. The adventurers are compatible with the base game (e.g. no IoD-specific skills or powers), so they live in the same box now. I am thinking of getting the Midnight expansion for the new characters as well. Island of Dread is interesting because it does away with the blue encounter spaces altogether, instead adding sea voyages and sea encounters. The difficulty of those encounters ranges from yellow to red, so voyaging at sea is a risk. However I found that there was more gold in this adventure than in the original, so I was able to buy a couple of decent items early in the game. Just as well, because I was the minotaur character (Spikilocks?) who is not allowed to hire allies, and I needed to be tough.

As I progressed through the game I was able to complete three quests. I don't know what effect they have, but I felt vaguely satisfied about that. I managed to build up a very impressive set of magic items. The cursed something caused extra damage to me if I missed on an attack, but hurt my opponent at the same time. I had some armour which caused damage to my opponent if I defended successfully. I had something which gave me +4 on defence. I had a mace which was +4 in melee, and a mace I could activate for another 2 damage in melee. I was an absolute killing machine... until...

Enter the Silite. This challenge ignores all damage from ranged and melee attacks. What the?! I was doing 5 damage on my first melee attack, so that's nasty. In fact, I had 0 damage for my magic attack, and no allies, so I was unable to hurt it. Hmm... I decided to take the power literally. My armour inflicted damage if I defended successfully, and that's not an attack... so I spent a couple of rounds successfully defending against the silite and then it died. Was that fair? I don't know, and BGG is down so I can't ask. It seems fairer than "this creature will kill you because you can't hurt it". I could have run away, but where's the fun in that?

So shortly after that I headed off the Island of Dread with buckets full of unique items and the captain who allows you to rearrange the top 3 items of the silver deck. Good old Cthulhu himself was there, so I stuck him on top and bashed him up. I had the book that screws him over, the sword that never misses, and a heap of other cool stuff, and he didn't have a chance. I don't know how well I would have gone without that captain's power though, the other silver guys look tough.

So I enjoyed the Island of Dread a lot. There's enough risk to get me excited, and apart from the silite ambiguity nothing impossibly deadly. The sea adventure system works pretty nicely - you need to be a little bit worried about travelling by sea but not too much. The silver encounters really are scary, and the red ones are worth worrying about as well. This is my favourite expansion so far.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The New(ish) Gaming Table

This is my new gaming table. It is a major piece of furniture. I had to have it custom made, but it states to everybody who enters the house that a gamer lives here. It's so nice having control of your own house!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Time John Did Not Play Yellow

A curious thing happened at Critical Mass last night - I didn't play yellow. We were playing Cloud 9 and I took blue. CyberKev was stunned. What happened? It makes sense in a bizarre sort of way...

You see I was playing with a Chinese lady friend. In China, yellow is the colour which represents obscenity - in western cultures I might watch a blue movie, but in China that movie would be yellow. So when I took yellow, my friend said "no no, that's yuk". She said it very nicely so to be cheeky I took blue instead - I don't mind which culture I'm obscene in :-).

I have a yellow Queensland Gamer's Guild shirt, I wonder how much she'd like that?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fed to the Crocodiles

We had a good session at BookRealm last night - Shingo visited all the way from Israel, and we played 3 different games that I really like. We started with China which I have owned for about a week. After my disastrous attempt to win using advisors at ConVic, I decided to try to win using houses. Of course, I was soundly beaten by CyberKev who used the advisor strategy. One day I will figure that game out.

Then Walter arrived and RealmKeeper sat out while the rest of us played Cleopatra. We played this last week and had a good time, so this week we knew what we were doing a bit better. There wasn't a lot of corruption being taken - people seemed to be more cautious about the number of cards they took into their hands. I had a plan to spend up big and get enough talents to be contending for the win, then try to minimise my corruption intake towards the end of the game. However once I had 40-something talents the game ended very quickly anyway. I had 11 corruption and 54 talents (including unused merchants). Sadly I had the most corruption, being even nastier than Walter who had 10. I was fed to the crocodiles, and CyberKev won the game with 41 talents. If I hadn't had 2 tainted wood cards in my hand at the end of the game, I would have won by a long way. Bugger.

We closed up with Bazaar. I was tired and couldn't focus, I don't know what other people's excuses were. Somehow I managed to win despite being unable to formulate the devious plans I remember making last time I played.

Overall, an excellent night's gaming. I'd happily play all of those games again tonight.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

July in Review

Well, what a good month of gaming has just been completed! I recorded 83 plays, again my second-highest total ever. Nacht der Magier was 10 of those because it is such a cool game and I only bought it at the beginning of the month. There were also the many many games played at ConVic4 early in the month. It looks like I won't be writing any more reviews from there, it was all too long ago.

Apart from ConVic4 and my gaming birthday party, gaming highlights of the month were:
* two Tuesday night gaming sessions with my sister and her kids. I am trying to make a new tradition of playing games with the kids on Tuesday nights.
* first play of Cleopatra and the Society of Architects at BookRealm
* the game of Mystery of the Abbey at GWAN
* my solo play of Runebound 2e with the Scepter of Kyros expansion where you have to fight a horde of giants
* new games acquired including Hive, I'm The Boss, Hare and Tortoise, Saboteur, Cleopatra, Xactika, China, Balloon Cup...
* my first ever trade - I sent Alhambra to Lindsay Scholle and he sent me Escape From Atlantis which at least has a chance of being played.

Also, what does this mean? I'm not sure yet.