Sunday, April 29, 2007

Roads and Boats

Good news for modern man! CyberKev has completed his project to play every game in the BGG Top 50. He's even played Pillars of the Earth which snuck in a few days ago.

The project was completed yesterday when we played Roads and Boats. To tell the truth I was a bit worried about it. With a listed playing time of four hours I was fully expecting it to take 10 or more hours like Twilight Imperium 3 did, and I was fully expecting to really really hate it. But I didn't.

The game started ingratiating itself by looking very very nice - there are lots of chits which aren't so attractive, but the transporters are nice wooden pieces and the board hexes are colourful and functional. The rules are also quite simple, and you feel straight away that you're able to make progress developing your economy. It was a good positive initial experience.

We played a 4 player game with 3 islands - Hans and I on one side of the map, a river, an island containing mountains and desert, a river, then Andrew and CyberKev on the other side. We figured before we even started that temporary alliances were the order of the day, so it was basically a case of our side of the map against their side of the map, and once we knew what we were doing it would be fair enough to do what it took to win. I was a little worried because Hans was talking about how his favourite game was Diplomacy... but I knew he was smart enough to stick with me for at least the start of the game.

So we were happy little Vegemites building our roads and factories and so on. Hans specialised in clay and bricks and I specialised in wood and research. I had some research happening so we decided to skip rafts and go straight to rowboats. In the same turn we built the rowboat factory we also built a wagon factory. We had the technology to power our soon-to-be massive economy!

What a mistake that was! I spent a few turns getting my donkeys into the wagon factory to upgrade them, during which time we were getting no wood made and no rowboats made. Hans had to build his road network before he could even get his donkeys to the factory. Meanwhile the other side of the board had a couple of dodgy rafts they were using to ferry mining equipment over to the central island.

I looked at Hans' massive clay and brick resources and realised that he could make two things - roads or walls. I didn't want walls near me, so I suggested we use our rowboats to transfer bricks over to the central island and build walls to steal the mines the other guys had built. That would have been a decent plan except the rowboats weren't ready. Furthermore, I only had 3 wagons and without any donkeys there would be no wild donkey sex happening and no more land transporters for me unless I built trucks. I decided I really needed to build rowboats fast!

I tried to get into a rhythm of transferring planks to the rowboat factory and building rowboats, but by this time the other side had transferred their gold back to their base and were minting coins. Hans and I finally got some rowboats built and sent some bricks over to the island. Hans sent a donkey as well, and we started colonising the island. However we were nearly at the end of the game, as the wonder was almost built.

Hans put on his wargamer hat and his donkey portaged his rowboat over to the far river and started rowing around picking up gold that had been carelessly left lying around. I decided that any plans I had of winning the game (and there never were particularly many) were dead and buried and that I needed to finish the game as soon as I could. Hans was particularly scared that the bad guys would start producing stocks, so we poured our efforts into the wonder to minimise the amount we lost by. Hans may have harboured some hope that he could pull out a victory by claiming lost gold, but it seemed unlikely.

In the end it was a matter of luck whether Andrew or CyberKev won. They shared the coins they'd minted and the gold they'd mined without counting very closely, and CyberKev ended up on top. Andrew second, Hans third, me dismal last. Hans and I agreed that the rowboat factory was a strategic mistake - it took too long to make the planks and get them to the factory, compared to the rafts which only required two logs. I tend to think that lack of wild donkey sex was a bad thing as well - CyberKev seemed to be able to achieve far more with his army of donkeys than my carts could.

Although I lost, I still really liked the game. I'd much prefer to play it solitaire or completely cooperatively, and with that in mind I'm thinking about the $US90 price tag. I can imagine testing myself to see how quickly I could build the wonder my myself, or build 1 stock, or whatever. It's the sort of system I like where I can see how it all works and I imagine I'd be able to pick out the inefficiencies in the system and avoid them on my next play.

It's a very good game. You should try it.

Life Imitates Games

I bought a new bike for the kid today. The plan is that we can all go riding and not be so fat. Brisbane has a very nice bike path system, by the way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Most Played Designers, by Minutes Played

In a recent post I calculated the designers who had the most plays recorded against them. Richard Garfield was #5 which I believed was because Magic was such a short game that people could play 10 times in a row, unlike Arkham Horror. So to get a different view on what designers are occupying people's time I changed my program to weight the games by BGG's playing time numbers. I also reincluded "unknown" and "uncredited" so we could see the effect of abstracts and Hasborg mass-produced games. As predicted Richard Garfield dropped down the list but not horribly. I think designers who have implementations of their games on BSW and so on are advantaged because on-line games play so much quicker than face-to-face slogs. I've also included some minor details of designers who are not well known to me.

Reiner Knizia, 739735
Wolfgang Kramer, 352650
(unknown), 304775
Alan R. Moon, 242920
Andreas Seyfarth, 230015
Klaus Teuber, 222845
Martin Wallace, 210795
Friedemann Friese, 175880
Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, 168630
Richard Garfield, 153865
Michael Kiesling, 145925
Dirk Henn, 131190
Kevin Wilson, 122955
Bruno Faidutti, 122015
Rüdiger Dorn, 117915
Michael Schacht, 116390
Richard Borg, 115420
William Attia, 103320
(Uncredited), 94899
Bruno Cathala, 90286 (Shadows Over Camelot, Cleopatra, Queen's Necklace)
Aaron Weissblum, 87290 (San Marco, 10 Days..., Cloud 9)
Serge Laget, 83760 (Shadows Over Camelot, Mystery of the Abbey)
Richard Ulrich, 76410
Stefan Dorra, 74265 (For Sale, Pick Picknic, Amazonas)
Richard Breese, 71980
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle, 66940 (Funny Friends, Taluva, Attika)
Christian T. Petersen, 60785 (Twilight Imperium)
Uwe Rosenberg, 59790
Corné van Moorsel, 59490 (Factory Fun, Street Soccer, O Zoo le Mio)
Sid Sackson, 58490
Frank Nestel, 58295
Glenn Drover, 58020 (Eagle Games)
Doris Matthëus, 57935
Leo Colovini, 57730
Craig Van Ness, 57525 (Heroscape, Star Wars: Epic Duels)
L. Scott Johnson, 56160 (Vampire: The Eternal Struggle)
Jeroen Doumen, 56030 (Roads and Boats, Antiquity, Indonesia)
Kris Burm, 54620
Rob Daviau, 51070 (Heroscape, Star Wars: Epic Duels)
Franz-Benno Delonge, 49025 (Manila, Fjords, TransEuropa)
Richard Launius, 48780 (Arkham Horror)
Bernd Brunnhofer, 48555
Michael Tummelhofer, 48555 (St Petersburg)
Jay Tummelson, 48555
Michael Bruinsma, 48555
Stephen Baker, 48465 (Heroscape, Battleball)
Urs Hostettler, 48405 (Tichu)
Joris Wiersinga, 47195 (Roads and Boats, Antiquity, Indonesia)
Philippe Keyaerts, 46090 (Evo, Vinci)
Dimitry Davidoff, 45630 (Werewolves of Miller's Hollow)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Family News

My mum died this morning. She had motor neurone disease (Lou Gehrig's Disease) for the last 2 years and was in full-time care in a nursing home. She was 61.

I just noticed a scoring error in that second image...

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Yep, I have no life. Here's an Unlur board:

The kid and I went to visit Sister and BIL this evening and played some of the games I've been making the boards for. Sister put up a very good fight at Bridg-It but caved in when the pressure was on. BIL played like a 9 year old girl in a rugby league match.

Then we moved to Hex where I thrashed both of them. Then in a game which still confuses me, BIL managed to beat me. I think it was a case of "LOOK! A Monkey!" I definitely thought I was safely connected to the edge when I wasn't. Hmm... so to prove it was a fluke I thrashed him again.

I found that I was much less confident playing Bridg-It, because although someone must win it wasn't clear how that was going to happen. It's the sort of game where you must not make a useless move, because if you do your alert opponent will gain a winning advantage. In Hex I look forward to learning what you're supposed to do when your opponent knows what they're doing. BIL will become good at it if I make him practise.

We also played Achi, which turned out to be disappointing. Many of the moves were forced, and often you could tell that you were forced to lose the game. It's right down there with Tic Tac Toe except that I don't know the winning strategy.

By the way, Bridg-It and Hex both strongly favour the person playing first. I think in all of our games the person playing second won.


Octagons (no BGG entry that I know of) is a similar game to Hex where the players Black and White are trying to connect their sides of the board. On your move you may claim a half-octagon or two small squares. The first player to connect their two sides wins.

Note that with many of these connection games there's a strong first player advantage (if the first player is smart enough). The usual solution is for someone to make the first move then the other player chooses whose move that was. This encourages the smart enough move maker to make a move which is not too strong as the first move.

Y and Caeth Y

The game of Y is not on boardgamegeek as far as I can tell, so I'll tell you the rules. (Oops, yes it is.)
It's played on a triangular hex board. Each player has markers of a different colour and takes turns placing a marker on an unoccupied hex on the board. The goal is to connect all three sides of the board with a chain of your pieces. Corners count as being on both sides. That's all the rules there are, and the beauty of it is that one player must win.

Caeth Y is the same game using the caeth meta-rule. In a caeth game, rather than claiming cells you claim edges between cells. When you've claimed at least half of the edges incident with a cell, you claim the cell.
On this board, then, take turns colouring edges. If you've claimed half the edges going into a circle, colour the circle as well. When you've got a Y of circles connecting all three edges, you win. Note that the connectivity of your coloured edges is completely unrelated to whether you win the game or not!

I haven't played any of these games yet (I didn't have a board till just now!) but it seems to me that a small board would make the game too easy? So I've made some larger ones as well. Awfully smart people probably know how to force a win going first anyway, but I'm not awfully smart ye

More Print And Play Boards

Yes, I do requests. Here's Battleship. It was the most difficult so far simply because of the Python Imaging Library's uncooperative handling of fonts.

I was looking through the Connection Games book and found one called Bridg-It:

And then there's Dots and Boxes and Kropki (which you should play, it's a very good game):

By the way, it' s super-easy for me to do these with different numbers of dots. Just let me know what you need.

When I've done as much coding as I think I can handle I'll package up all the images and distribute them in a ZIP file. For now they can just act as eye-candy on my blog.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Alcohol + Python Interpreter = ????

It's Friday night here and Scrabblette is STILL away... what's a man to do but have a drink? And if that man is an abstract game fan? And has an unfettered Python interpreter at his fingertips? Well...

You see when I discover a new abstract game I think "that would be so easy to make if only I had the board...". And so often the board is something so simple you could code up an image for it even if you were drunk...

So, what games have I done? Well, more than I can be bothered uploading here. It's a program... it can do heaps of stuff without much modification.

So I'm only uploading a selection of things that seem useful. The achi board is for a game I added to BGG recently called Achi - search the web for the rules. The 10x10 board is for Amazons (or International Draughts). The GIPF board is for Gute Nachbarn (or GIPF). The hexagon board is for Hex. The 7x7 board is for the original version of Breakthrough.

If there are other boards I could make a game board for, please let me know. I'll need a project for when I attack the rest of the bottle of red wine :-).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Excellent Customer Service from Fantasy Flight Games

On Monday last week I received Cave Troll in the mail. I checked the box and I had a spare red adventurer and no red knight. I emailed FFG and got a reply the next day saying my red knight was on the way. And today he arrived! It's a pleasure to deal with Fantasy Flight Games!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Critical Mass All Day Gaming

The kid and I went along to the Critical Mass all-day meeting yesterday and played a few games. We played from 10am till 10pm, in fact. It was a long day! How do those Gathered Friends do it for day after day? I took along a few older games which didn't get played and some of the newer ones which did. Here's what we played and my impressions.

TransEuropa - Even though I got fairly badly beaten, I still like this game a lot. In fact, the previous time we played Scrabblette beat me. It's always an interesting puzzle.

Portable Adventures: Lair of the Rat King - This one seems to be more luck-based than its sibling, Battle of the Bands. In BotB, quiet but steady play can sometimes win the game for you. When you venture into the Rat King's lair you can win 2, 3 or 4 of the required victory points in one adventure, so if someone gets lucky they can win by mistake. I claim that's exactly what Mikey did. But still, it's not a game to take seriously.

Hey! That's My Fish! - What a good game this is! I taught it to half a dozen people or so through the course of the day, and in most cases I beat them soundly in the first game and then played a second game where they knew What Sort Of Game It Was. I particularly enjoyed the second game against the Evil Count von Walduck where I knew I was up against a particularly cunning opponent, and the game started to feel very abstract indeed.

Give Me The Brain - A stupid game, yes, but there were a couple of kids playing.

On the Underground - It's quite hard work to play this with an upside-down map! Nevertheless, Daniel was upside down and he won. It seemed his line up to the north-west was useful enough to win for him. I'd like to play more to see if I can see any strategy.

Under Cover - (This is also called Heimlich & Co.) A simple and fun game for the 6 players we had. It's very simple, and I notice there's an Advanced section in the rules so I'll have to look to see what that's about.

Mystery Rummy: Al Capone - I've liked all the Mystery Rummy games so far, but this one left me cold. With two players there were going to be 20-something cards in play, but there are 10 different gangsters to be melded. It could well be that some of them never turn up during a game. A lot of the gavel cards which involve taking other cards in play were totally useless. Did we play this right?

For Sale - An oldie but an almost goodie.

Set - I love this brain-burner! Almost nobody else does though :-(.

Villa Paletti - Brought along by Bertie Beetle who likes dexterity games he went to funagain and bought all of them. This is a game I need to play a lot more of because I did such a crappy job this time! I'll have to give it as a present to somebody. Or else hang out with Bertie a lot more.

Unpublished Prototype - The Evil Count showed me the game he's working on. He has some very cool ideas! I hope it continues to prosper.

San Marco - I've wanted to play this for a long time because of the divide-and-choose mechanism, but after you get past that it's still an area majority game. There's a lot to like about this game, e.g. the surreal illustrations on the board, but I'm not sure I want to play it particularly often.

Anyway, the kid is having chocolate for breakfast. I'd better prepare myself.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The 50 Most Played Designers

I hacked my stats program to calculate how many plays had been recorded for each designer. This data is from the 162 geeks who subscribe to my stats, from January 1 2003 until today. Here's the designer's name and the total number of plays recorded for them.

Reiner Knizia, 15822
Alan R. Moon, 4984
Wolfgang Kramer, 4944
Andreas Seyfarth, 3303
Richard Garfield, 3010
Klaus-Jurgen Wrede, 2923
Richard Borg, 2836
Michael Schacht, 2619
Klaus Teuber, 2556
Bruno Faidutti, 2281
Stefan Dorra, 2075
Aaron Weissblum, 1908
Kris Burm, 1804
Friedemann Friese, 1662
Michael Kiesling, 1612
Dirk Henn, 1557
Martin Wallace, 1533
Corne van Moorsel, 1485
Thorsten Gimmler, 1396
Rudiger Dorn, 1390
Franz-Benno Delonge, 1355
Bruno Cathala, 1322
Uwe Rosenberg, 1306
Leo Colovini, 1299
Sid Sackson, 1093
Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle, 1021
Bernd Brunnhofer, 1003
Michael Tummelhofer, 1003
Jay Tummelson, 1003
Michael Bruinsma, 1003
Gunter Cornett, 991
Carol Wiseley, 858
Frank Nestel, 857
Serge Laget, 855
Doris Matthaus, 845
Bernard Tavitian, 836
William Attia, 798
Richard Ulrich, 761
John Yianni, 757
Urs Hostettler, 746
Richard Breese, 739
Dimitry Davidoff, 736
Alvydas Jakeliunas, 733
Craig Van Ness, 719
Alex Randolph, 699
Reinhard Staupe, 695
Andrew Looney, 691
Kevin Wilson, 665
Barron Vangor Toth, 658
Mike Foley, 658

Ooh, Nasty!

Last time Scrabblette was away I wanted to play Arkham Horror but somehow never found the time. This morning I got stuck in and did it. As with Runebound I played solitaire. In fact I only bought Arkham Horror after I found it could be played solitaire - I never had any ambition to play such a long game with other people, though the kid and I have played together. I actually had all of the bits set up last night but got involved in a book instead. That's one nice thing about playing a game by yourself - it can take as long as you like!

I decided to play two characters. I played one character once before and got quickly murdered. I chose to play Mandy Thompson (the researcher) and Carolyn Fern (the Psychologist), because if I'm going to play a game for hours I want to be looking at cute women, not irritating guys like that smug Bob Jenkins (the salesman).

The Ancient One was Nyarlathotep which convinced me I was going to lose straight away. Nyarlathotep causes the Mask monsters to be put into the cup, and those things are NASTY.

First of all, let me say that this game has a lot of rules. I'd venture to say it has way too many rules for one person to remember. I discovered about halfway through that every time the terror level increases one of the allies leaves town. I don't remember hearing that rule before. I spent the entire game forgetting to do things simply because each phase has so many steps and so many things you need to remember. Then the Mythos cards add environment effects and the details just go on and on. Does anyone else spend significant portions of this game trying to figure out what should have happened if only you'd remembered all the rules? I only remembered the characters had special powers after the general store had closed.

Let me say, Mandy Thompson was a god character. She had a gun, lots of clues, met up with an ally who gave her Speed +2 and found a magic sword as well. Once I realised she could reroll dice once per turn she was almost unstoppable. On the other hand, Carolyn Fern was pretty hopeless and managed to get herself cursed. She spent a lot of turns hiding from monsters that were far too dangerous. Towards the end Mandy Thompson cleared a path to the church and we managed to get her uncursed, but it was far too late by then.

Carolyn went to the woods to pick up clues and a gate opened underneath her. With significant effort she closed it but couldn't seal it, then another gate opened underneath her. She closed but couldn't seal that one as well. Mandy tried to gather some resources and then set about closing gates herself.

A variety of crappy effects resulted in us being delayed a lot, and being unable to collect clues for sealing fast enough meant that gates kept reopening after they'd been closed. A few bad Mythos events really caused havoc... the Southside Strangler strangled everybody in town, a massive horde of monsters escaped from the university, and we discarded a lot of clues to prevent all Elder Signs being removed from the board.

That's the thing about this game, and certainly something at succeeds at - things can always get worse, and they always do. Carolyn Fern was murdered by The Bloated Woman (one of the Mask monsters), then we had to discard all of our clues, then we got to terror level 10 meaning there were no monster limits, then ... even when you end up winning the game you've only just managed to struggle through a huge number of really awful events. It's just nasty from beginning to end.

The gates accumulated. The doom track neared its end. Mandy Thompson got Lost in Time and Space. The doom track hit its end, and we faced Nyarlathotep.

Start of Battle: Any investigator with no Clue tokens is devoured.

That was it. Just like that, we were devoured. Yum yum, thanks for playing.

So what had we achieved? We'd closed six gates, but only sealed four. Mandy Thompson had killed a heap of monsters. And that's all.

One thing that irks me about this game is how it's so difficult to achieve anything. For example, how do you join the Silver Twilight Lodge? You go there and hope to draw the right card. How do you get an Elder Sign? You go somewhere and hope to draw the right card. You just can't achieve those things on purpose. There seems to be so little purpose to going anywhere and doing anything because you almost always get some rotten result like "A gate opens". Oh fer chrissakes, as if there aren't enough gates open already! It just seems to be impossible to work towards anything. And even when you do get it, the stupid d6s find a way to take it off you anyway.

Oh well. I was doomed from the start and I knew it. The game does a great job of that. If only I was able to remember the rules, I'd enjoy being doomed so much more.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Favourite Thing To Do By Myself

With Scrabblette exhausted after a hard day streetwalking in Las Vegas and the kid tucked up safely in bed at his mum's place, there was only one thing on my mind: Runebound. I had a couple of expansions I hadn't tried out and I needed to get to them before the next batch arrives.

The expansions in question were The Dark Forest and Terrors of the Tomb. The Dark Forest adds plant-based cards to the encounter decks, and Terrors of the Tomb does the same with undead. I planned to use them both together but I was afraid of bad shuffling causing me to just get the same old cards as always, so I went through the decks and removed all cards that mentioned Lord Farrow or Vorakesh. Then I realised that those cards included all of the events with sunburst symbols, and there were none of those in the new decks, so I had to add those back in. Then I shuffled in the new cards and had a deck I hoped would provide me with a decent adventure.

My Ally and Item deck, by the way, has Relics of Legend and Artifacts and Allies already in it. It seems to spit out a lot of allies, so maybe one day I'll make separate Ally and Item decks.

I chose Landrec the Wise to be my character. He's from the Island of Dread expansion and I hadn't used him before. His special power is to spend 3 exhaustion to change the order of combat to magic/melee/ranged, and he has 5/2 magic to start with. That sounded interesting so I hunted down his cool little miniature and plonked him in Tamalir. By the way I always use the "Shorter Runebound Variant", i.e. 4 XP per upgrade. Even by myself I don't want the game to go too long. I don't use any Doom Track - I like to control the pace of the game myself.

Just after I purchased my first upgrade I drew that card Defiance in the Face of Darkness where 3 towns get face down cards in their market stacks. I went around collecting them. The first was an ally, Gareth the Black, who costs 9 gold, and I got him free. His melee is 5/3. The second was Brothers of Stone, another 9 gold ally. They aren't as powerful as Gareth but they're decent. Thereafter my combat strategy was to attack with the Brothers of Stone in ranged, Gareth in melee, and myself in magic. Usually the encounters died during the melee phase. Occasionally I would defend in ranged myself if I didn't want the Brothers to get hurt.

I completed a couple of quests and got some gold... not that I'd been spending much gold because there were no useful items coming out. I lucked out in Forge and bought a Soul Burn - expend 1 stamina to do an extra 3 damage on your magic attack.

With such powerful allies and a useful spell like that I started going for the blue encounters. They were quite dangerous so I started using my special power and the Soul Burn to generally do 5 damage in the first range of combat. Even the blues can't handle that. I didn't feel I was strong enough to take on the reds so I journeyed around for a while fighting blues and looking in the market stacks. I found Jirta the Fierce who seemed more useful than the Brothers of Stone so I hired her. Eventually I managed to find a Shield of Glyphs (+4 when you defend) so I decided it was worth giving the reds a go.

As it turned out the reds weren't as dangerous as I remembered them, and the Dragonlords Carnovax, Eregax and Fromax quickly fell to the power of Soul Burn. Actually Jirta was required to finish off Fromax, but that was only her second attack for the game.

So, what did I think of the game? Well, the two adventure expansions are interesting, but it irks me that they don't change the plot of the adventure. I'm not going to just shuffle them into the encounter decks - that would dilute the story, and I only play for the story. However they don't come with any story of their own. So I'm not such a big fan of those two decks. My favourite of the small deck expnasions is easily the one with the giants - The Scepter of Kyros. I think if I do use these expansions again I'll keep them separate, and maybe choose from the forest expansion if the encounter is in a forest and from the undead expansion if the encounter is on a plain. Mixing them in doesn't work for me.

In any case, solitaire Runebound is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours if, like me, the stories in your head can keep you amused.

By the way, here are my house rules:
1. It costs 1 gold to remove all wounds and stamina counters from a character or ally during market phase. A couple of times I played I found myself injured and penniless and doomed, which was boring.
2. If after you roll 4 or 5 movement dice you can't go where you want, you can go 1 space anyway.
Playing solitaire, the movement dice don't matter in theory, but I use them to guide me. I will occasionally change path when the dice tell me to.

Monday, April 02, 2007

First Plays and It Never Rains But It Pours

Many of my unplayed games are kids' games, and with the kid here all weekend and no Scrabblette I had a perfect opportunity to play some of them.

First up was Careers, an old game which I picked up at the Lifeline Bookfest. It's the one where you decide your goal which is a combination of happiness, fame and money and then choose your careers to achieve that goal. The kid enjoyed it a lot and though the first time that he'd not known enough about defining goals to be competitive so we played again. He'd certainly learned all of the tricks I knew for the second game but lost a lot of cash in a hailstorm and I beat him for the second time.

Next was Upwords which I've always thought of as a children's word game. Maybe so, but it's a bit difficult and rewards thought. I'd like to play it again with Scrabblette when she gets back. The kid can't compete with me.

Last time we were in Melbourne we found a copy of Booby-Trap in a toy shop and the kid put on his pleading face until I bought it for him. We set it up last night and played 5 games in about 15 minutes. We agreed it was kinda boring and needed to be traded. The main feature of the game seems to be that it explodes and sprays bits all over the room which is not a strong point in my book. Nephew might like it.

The kid was sick this morning so I stayed home to look after him. We played Under Cover with 2 real players and 2 fakes. It was clearly going to be a race between blue and orange (me). The kid caused blue to win, and then revealed that he was purple, who'd come last. Huh? Tell me about the strategy? OK, maybe 7 players would be better.

We then set up 13 Deadend Drive (which I traded from schlappy) only to hear a tsunami warning for the entire east coast of Australia. We live 2 or 3 kilometres from the beach so it was of some concern to me. As we played the game we kept the TV news on, and I kept checking the web for news of whether any places further north had been washed away. As the game wore on the putative tsunami failed to arrive further and further down the coast, until by the time the game had finished I'd decided we were safe. The kid managed to kill one of his own people, and the last two alive were both mine. I can't remember whether the gummy old gardener or the seductive maid got rich. I hope it was the maid...

Next up was Cluedo: the Great Museum Caper. I've owned this game for many years and although I've played it quite a few times, I don't remember who with. The kid has wanted to play it for such a long time, but when he used to ask all the time he was too little to be able to. In our first game I managed to catch him after he wasted time wandering around the museum stealing no paintings. Then I escaped with 2. I think it was during this game that we heard the side gate close, so I went and told the dog that someone had invaded her territory. It was a parcel delivery man who'd delivered some games from I opened it to take delivery of Cave Troll, On the Underground, Hey! That's My Fish! and Funny Friends.

Then ensued several hours of punching and bagging, punctuated by a mysterious phone call from the nursing home where my mum is very sick and a trip to the shops to get some superglue to repair the chandelier from 13 Deadend Drive. I set up Hey! That's My Fish! and defeated the kid soundly. He challenged me to another game and I beat him even more soundly. I need Scrabblette to play that one too.

I had intended to play Cave Troll but when we got back from the shops there was a small parcel in the mail box - the Portable Adventures card games from Third World Games - Lair of the Rat King and 8th Grade. As if I hadn't unpacked enough games today already! We played two games of Lair of the Rat King. In the first, I was very badly beaten, but the tables were reversed in the second.

Phew! I feel like I've done nothing but play games all day, but of course I prepared 3 meals and cleaned up the kitchen and all the other domestic things as well. My Friendless metric was as high as -11 at one stage during the day, but I suspect with all of the new unplayed games (well, just 3 of them) it has dropped again.

Oh yes, we managed to fit a couple of games of Connect 4 and one of Hamsterrolle in there as well. It's been a busy weekend. I'm going to bed to relax with a Dungeon Master's Guide.

Stats Are Looking Cool

One of my objectives with the Linux upgrade I did a few weeks ago was to get the Python Imaging Library to work. On the old Linux (Mandrake 10) I had to build it myself and that wasn't working. On the new Linux (Ubuntu Edgy Eft) it comes preinstalled. Anyway, now that I have PIL I can modify the stats code to generate images, so I've been doing that yesterday and today (as well as getting the tables working nicely).

The first image is a scatter plot of your ratings for games against the number of times you've played them. Ideally you'd like to have played your 10s many times and your 1s hardly ever, but factors conspire to make that not the case. For example, you might have to play Sorry against your 3 year old daughter hundreds of times. In my case, I've played Lost Cities which I rate a 7 against several non-gamers.

Here's how to read the graph. Number of plays is the Y-axis. More than 25 plays counts as 25. Your rating is along the X-axis, rounded to the nearest 0.5. A red circle is for games you've recorded 0 plays of, and a cyan circle is for games you've recorded 10+ plays of (yes, the colours don't mean much for this graph). A bigger circle means more games have that rating and that number of plays.

My graph indicates that I've played lots of games with various ratings only once. Let's examine that by doing a histogram of number of plays. The Y-axis is again number of plays (capped at 25), and the X-axis is the number of games you've played that many times.

My graph shows I have far too many unplayed games, but even more games that I've played only once. My efforts to increase my Friendless metric are whittling away the unplayed, and once I'm done with that I'll start working on the 1s as well.

These graphs are prepared for all subscribers to the stats. The first graph appears on the front page of your stats, and the second graph appears on the Plays of Games Owned page.