Friday, May 25, 2007

Average Rating of Games Owned

My stats program calculates my average rating of games I own (6.6) and BGG's average rating of games I own (6.5). Does the closeness of these numbers mean I choose my games based on what other people think of them rather that what I think? I investigated. In particular, I decided to trade away games that I could bear to part with and that I didn't much like. (So I've added maybe 5 new games to my trade list.)

The problem is that I have a large number of games that I own on behalf of my kid. For example, three Goosebumps games. I think they're crud, but he seems to love them. I also own a number of incidental games, e.g. dominoes, which came with the chess / backgammon board I bought, as did poker dice and cribbage. I didn't choose to own those games and I don't expect anyone will give me a BattleLore expansion in exchange for them. I also have some print and play games, such as Achi. Achi is a particularly primitive game (rather like Tic Tac Toe) but I own it and nobody's going to take my printed board off my hands. So I'm sorta stuck with it, and it sits there making my collection look bad.

The solution I feel is to tag my games as being part of the "kids" collection, or "incidental", and then modify the stats to produce separate statistics for all tags I use. In that way I can focus on managing and playing the part of the collection I really care about. I'll have to start hacking the program again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Confused About Hive

I taught Hive to Scrabblette last night. It's an interesting game, but I can't escape the nagging feeling that there aren't many viable strategies.

In the first game she placed an ant as one of her first 3 pieces. As I expected, as soon as she was allowed to move it she brought it around to pin my bee using the One Hive rule. I did the same to her. From there it could have been a race to finish the game, except I knew I would lose so I had to do something else.

But what? Isn't it very difficult to defend against an opponent who pins your bee? I needed to build an alternate path to the ant and get the bee out, and what opponent is going to let me do that? As it turned out, Scrabblette made the mistake of surrounding me with all 3 ants, so the bee slipped out the side and pinned all of them to the hive using One Hive. From there my grasshoppers moved in for the kill.

In the return match I started, so I planned to have a free ant to pin the bee with. As it turned out Scrabblette placed an ant next to her bee, so I pinned the ant to the bee, removing the biggest threat to my queen while also blocking one of her bee's freedoms. Again, Scrabblette's inability to pin my bee cost her the game.

But is that all there is to this game? Pin the bee then send in the troops? I'm hoping there's more.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More New Games

My house is currently flooded with new games after my pusher from visited Critical Mass last night. I bought Bridges of Shangri-La and Tikal from him. We're also still working through the pile that arrived from America. CyberKev (whom this blog is NOT about) also recently returned from America with a pile of new games. Everywhere you turn you trip over them. Anyway, here are the new ones I've got to play since the last update.

Gheos: I played this with Scrabblette and it was chaotic and vicious. Oh hang, it's me that was vicious, but the game was chaotic. If you (or your opponents) don't like "taking stuff off" games, stay away from this one. I'll need to play some more before I find a suitable audience for this one.

That's Life (Verflixxt!): CyberKev taught this at Critical Mass, and I'd just like to say "MEH". In capitals. It's a very dry game which could be analytical if I cared enough, but the die adds enough randomness that I couldn't be bothered. And what is the theme, anyway? Didn't interest me at all and I couldn't wait for it to finish.

Qwirkle: CyberKev also taught this at Critical Mass, and it was much much better than That's Life. It's best described as Scrabble without the letters which sounds stupid but when you play it you realise it's true. It has colours and shapes instead - sort of like Ingenious. As Scrabblette enjoys both Scrabble and Ingenious I suggested she'd like it and the generous and experienced CyberKev loaned it to me. She played it against the kid this morning and said she liked it a lot. Good news! I like it a lot. I wonder though if I've already seen the depths of the game. I expect it will be a solid 8 for me.

Fiji: We dragged Fiji off the pile of new toys this evening and gave it a run. It's a very very chaotic auction game which reminded me of Fist of Dragonstones and Nobody But Us Chickens. It's probably too chaotic to take it seriously, but it's cute.

Alexandros: After the kid flogged us at Fiji, Scrabblette and I banished him and played Alexandros. This is a dry almost abstract which is very much Scrabblette's style. It reminded me of Gheos in that there was "taking stuff off people", but it was nowhere near as chaotic. Scrabblette got a good lead and I found myself having to learn new dirty tricks to catch up. For example, I sent Alexander halfway across Asia Minor to excise a small piece of land from her territory. Sadly, Scrabblette had learnt from her experience at Gheos, and was very good at taking stuff off me. It was a very close game, but she won 103 to 99. I like Alexandros a lot as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Never Get Into a Pissing War with CyberKev

I've played many area majority games with CyberKev and I don't think I've ever won one. Louis XIV. Himalaya. Mykerinos. Carcassonne. Maharaja. Nude Twister. I don't think CyberKev has ever lost one. The problem is that no matter what area you try to get a majority in CyberKev has more guys and will always be able to get more guys. Then if you change to a different area he's got all of his guys there as well, so you can't win and you can't come second. It's very frustrating, and if I enjoyed those games more we'd have a fierce rivalry.

But there's one pissing war where CyberKev is world champion, so it's not just my butt that he's kicking, it's yours too. That's the "I've played more of the BGG Top 50 than you have" war, where he's currently at 49 (missing only Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation, Deluxe Edition). Next on the list are snoozefest and wtrollkin2000 with 41 each. CyberKev has also played the most Spiel des Jahre winners (27, compared to 23 for mkgray and jcarvin) and the most of The 100 (91 compared to jcarvin's 87). Furthermore, this amazing man has recorded plays of 858 distinct games, compared to only 772 for jcarvin.

Does this make CyberKev the world's most experienced boardgamegeek? It's hard to tell. People like huber and TomVasel don't record their plays. Nevertheless, it's safe to assume that CyberKev is the paragon of geekdom in Brisbane and probably Australia. We're honoured to have him! Just don't get into a pissing war with him.

(Oh... I did win Union Pacific.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Notable Games Played Recently

I've been quiet on the blogging front - I think it's because I've been reading a lot of D&D stuff. The party finished their latest adventure and I had to get the next one ready. Also the (first) big box of toys arrived from America and I've been reading the module I bought (Red Hand of Doom). AND I bought the Magic Item Compendium and I've been reading through that for campaign inspiration.

Anway, I have been playing some games.

13 Deadend Drive - I took this over to the nephew and niece and played with them. I just wanna say that I totally kicked their butts... Of the 12 characters in the game, all the other 9 died and I was left with the last three. I didn't realise that the game should end then and we kept playing until one was left alive. A notable event was the chant of "Kill the Cat! Kill the Cat!"

Monsters Menace America - After watching the movie Mars Attacks! the kid and I pulled out MMA to show Scrabblette. She didn't like it at all but the kid and I had a big showdown which I only just won.

Classic Waterworks - Let me totally can this game: Tom Vasel rates it a 2 and comments "I just don't like it". It comes with two decks of cards which you shuffle together, but the cards were cut at different sizes! I've never seen anything so shonky. And it was boring.

TransAmerica - Just like its cousin TransEuropa. The red and orange are a bit difficult to tell apart.

BuyWord - a decent game but maybe too driven by luck. It's different from Scrabble in that you're much more motivated to make long words. Scrabblette managed to beat me!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Torres Epiphany

Scrabblette and I played Torres the other evening. The rules don't mention anything like "you're not supposed to add a knight to a castle your opponent has been building and get more points from it than her", but Scrabblette somehow inferred that rule. Let's just say my convincing win may not have been worth the sacrifice. Nevertheless, I think it was my first win at Torres.

Anyway, at the start of the game I had an epiphany. It's kinda obvious. Anyway - it takes one action point to move a knight to an adjacent square OR put him in one door and out any other on the same or lower level of the same castle. It also takes one action point to place a tower piece. So, rather than take multiple steps, place tower pieces to optimise the distance you can move a knight in one step.

There are other considerations of course, like "will placing this tower piece make it easier for my opponent to come uninvited into my castle?" But in general combing castle building and movement is an optimisation which might let me win at Torres occasionally.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thoughts on Hex and Y

Scrabblette and I played a few games of Hex and Y last night. This was Scrabblette's first time playing and she didn't really get the strategy. (BTW, she subsequently beat me at Bridg-It, but this post is not about that.) After the game (and for a while when I would have preferred to be asleep) I was thinking about strategy for connection games on the hex grid. This post IS about that.

The basic tactic I understand involves the colours on the board above. If I've claimed two "adjacent" red hexes (or yellow, or white) and my opponent has not played on any of the spaces between them, I have an unbreakable connection between them. Hence for several games last night I was playing almost solely on the (let's say) red hexes until Scrabblette realised she'd lost.

Now where we're up to in our understanding of strategy is that the game is won or lost according to who claims the best chain of red hexes. But it occurs to me that the red hexes themselves form a hex grid, and you can make connections on that grid by claiming the blue hexes in this diagram:

And of course the blue hexes form a hex grid... and so on until we can identify exactly the most important hex that the opponent must claim in response to a move - the most important move at the highest level of abstraction. I know, I'm losing people here. Consider this colouring:

Say I'm trying to make a chain from top-left to bottom-right and I make my first move at A. (We're not using a pie rule here, we're not smart enough.) I'd love to make my next move at B, C or D so you should play there instead to prevent me. In fact if you let me play at A, B and D I believe the game is lost for you. So you play at C, I play at D and you play at B. It looks like if I play at B1 you'll have a really hard time getting through. Hmm... what happens next? I haven't figured that out yet.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Six Degrees of Not Playing With Myself

If you're a boardgamegeeker and you've ever played a game with me, you're probably mentioned in my latest geeklist and hence are invited to add to it.