Wednesday, March 26, 2008

100 Plays!

I recently completed 100 plays on Scrabulous! Boy oh boy, I've played a lot of Scrabble in the last few months! But still, some people log more than 2 plays a day. I'd love to do that but I have neither the time nor the opponent. I think my best score is about 480 but I can't locate the game to prove it. I'd like to thank all of my opponents, particularly Mark W, Anthony S, Simon B and Darryl G with whom I always have a game in progress. BTW, my favourite play ever was RETAXED against Mark W - he thought he had the board shut down and I still got it in.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Stupid BGG Image Mod

We're sorry that we couldn't use the recent image that you uploaded to BGG related to 'Alexander - the Card Game', and it was removed it from the system.

Reason: The image was too similar to another image already in the database.
Reason: The image was badly cropped or not rotated.
Reason: The image was sideways or upside down.
Reason: The image was irrelevant to the subject.

Comments (optional):
Poor quality cards

Poor quality cards? It's a print and play game... There are no images of this game in play in the system, unless they accept the other one I submitted. Irrelevant? Please, you're just being stupid. Honestly, these people are fucking simian.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Go West

I recently bought myself something every gamer needs - a sheet of perspex. The uses of a sheet of perspex are many and varied, as I discovered from the guys at work. Let's not go there. What I wanted it for was to cover game maps, such as the pathetic one from C&C Ancients, and the one you can draw on from Roads and Boats. I also managed to buy a sheet of non-slip material which will come in handy for slippery hex games such as Roads and Boats and Trias. I also needed to try out &cetera, the Roads and Boats expansion. With all of these factors converging, there was only one thing to do - solitaire &cetera.

While considering a solitaire game of &cetera I realised that in all of my solitaire games of Roads and Boats I hadn't even built wagons, let alone trucks, steam ships and so on. &cetera offers planes and power lines and trains, so I didn't see any hope of getting to those on the Lord of the Ring map. So I resolved to play a large long open-ended game, and see what happened.

I chose the "Go West" map from the expansion scenario suggestions. Apart from being big enough to take whatever I could build, "Go West" is the Buster Keaton movie where he plays the character Friendless. It seemed appropriate.

Of course my ambition was to exploit the riches in the mountains, and I decided to get to them by building some plans and flying out there. It wasn't so difficult to build an airport and I had one before the donkeys even had time for a bit of the old hee-haw.

After that I started flights out to the mountains to build mines. But first, I'll explain what planes do. They can take off from any hex they're in. They can carry 4 resources but not other transporters. They can airdrop resources to any hex. They can land on any space without a building or unsupervised geese, or at an airport. They can taxi one space along a road.

I found the very valuable way to use plains was to taxi into a hex full of resources, take off fully loaded, air drop the resources to where they were needed, then land and taxi back to another hex on the next turn. Of course by the time I realised that I'd put my airport in a not very useful place, but I did do an awful lot of air dropping. The tension was always trying to keep an empty hex next to the resource rich hexes for the planes to land in.

I knew I'd eventually need to get some donkeys out to the mines to help load metals onto the planes, so I built a road all the way across the map. At the same time I noticed I had too much to do and not enough resources to do it with, so I decided to electrify my primary production. The mines were producing iron anyway, and iron is needed to build power lines, so it seemed like a good idea.

I'll tell you what electricity does. If you have a power plant fuelled by either wood or boards, the power plant provides electricity to all primary producers connected by power lines. Power lines are denoted by dotted lines and cost one iron to build (like roads cost one brick). The electrification project worked well. I placed the generator midway between a source of wood and the places that needed to be electrified.

With the increased resource production I needed more transport so I set about upgrading my donkeys to wagons. They sufficed for a while, but as more mines came on-line even they became inadequate.

I had to upgrade to trucks and was sad to see there was nothing else to upgrade to. The map didn't have enough water to justify any ships at all, and I don't think I would have given up any of my planes or trucks anyway.

I noticed then that with the mines working well, primary production booming, and transport sorted, I was accumulating gold I couldn't process fast enough. Electrification doesn't help with primary producers, but managers do (it's only a game). Hence I needed to build a Management Bullshit Academy. In the picture you can see the MBA about to produce a manager who will be taxied to the mint where he's desperately needed. Managers double the production capacity of a secondary producer.

I then used the planes to air drop iron and fuel to all of the mine sites to build second mine shafts. These were specialised gold mines, as my intention was to score over 1000 points for the game (I had to plan to stop at some stage.)

I had the financial district absolutely plagued with managers - they were at the coal burners, paper factory, mint and stock exchange, so coins and stock bonds were being produced very efficiently.

At this point the gold mines were producing so much gold the only way I could get it to the mint was for the trucks to deliver it to the planes in the desert, and for the planes to air drop it to the mint and then return to the desert. That was very efficient. The iron which was hanging around was now useless and I managed to sacrifice some to build the wonder. I mostly ignored the wonder throughout the game but towards the end I was pumping huge resources into it just to get them off the board - piles of lumber and bricks were threatening to topple onto the managers.

Eventually everything progressed through the system. When I clearly had 1000+ points I loaded all of the loot onto the trucks and took it home. The two trucks in the back are carrying stock certificates.

In conclusion, although this was an interesting exercise, it took quite a long time - at least 5 hours spread over a week. I can't imagine playing &cetera against other people unless I was 17 again. For that reason, although the &cetera additions fit the game well, I have a low desire to play it again. I would like to do a scenario with more water so I can get steam ships, and maybe with polders, cities, art and railways. However that won't be happening any time soon - I need my table for other games.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Going Going Gone

Serendipity found me at the Pancake Manor last night, waiting for Scrabblette, at the same time as the Brisbane Go Club was meeting. Actually, it wasn't entirely serendipitous. I visited the Go club about 20 years ago, and was very impressed that the Pancake Manor allowed them to play there. So a few years ago I investigated the possibility of playing board games there, and it's OK with them as long as we're buying stuff from them and not using up tables that lots of other people want. For example, it would be poor form to occupy large tables with games on a Friday night when there's lots of party people out. That's fine, because gaming in the presence of drunks terrifies me. Anyway, because of their good attitude I'm happy to go to the Pancake Manor any time. And luckily, Scrabblette has to work late on the same evening as the Go club meets.

So I wandered down to the players and there was a guy standing there who said hey you want a game so I said OK I'm not very good and he gave me 9 stones and we played a game of Go. Of course, this guy was the club president who coaches the dan players. He's like the sifu. I would be flogged by a 15 kyu player, let alone someone who knows what they're doing. What should I do in this difficult situation?

Option 1: Play as if I'm playing an equal opponent and be annihilated.

Option 2: Play defensively and be very badly beaten but at least have some points.

Given that I don't know ANYTHING about attacking moves, I decided to take Option 2 and see what happened. I defended the corners, and apparently managed to keep him out. I did try pushing from one corner to my stone in the middle of that side, but the attack got split into two and the central group died.

Eventually (after only about 20 minutes, we played fast) my opponent pointed out that I had 52 points of territory and he had 180 or so, and there was no hope for me. He said I should have played more aggressively. Fair comment, but my counter was that if he wanted he probably could have taken some of those 52 from me as well. I don't even know how to defend against a 3-3 invasion and a couple of my corners were open to it. So I was pretty pleased with my points, feeble as they were.

He did suggest I read a book on tesuji, which was a useful suggestion. Back when I was reading about Go I thought my next step was to learn joseki, but tesuji sounds like it will be more practical at my level of ability. I'd better study up so it's not completely boring to play me. I have the Go application installed on Facebook if you want to challenge me.