Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scrabble, Encore Une Fois

Our friend Miss Jane has just returned from a two month cat fondling tour of Europe. So far we've been able to find out that she went to England where she saw cats, Paris where she saw cats, and Rome where there were entire ancient temples full of cats. Or something like that. However Miss Jane also brought back for me a French Scrabble set (chacun a son mot à dire!), so we played on Friday night.

We weren't very well prepared, as I didn't take along a French dictionary. I don't have a really good French Scrabble dictionary. Consider the requirements - it would need a really good range of words, particularly acceptable foreign words which are the ones you need to play the odd letters - and it would need verb conjugations so that we can determine whether DEVRAI is indeed the second person singular future tense of DEVOIR as we expected. I have a Petit Robert which weighs a couple of kilos, but it has way too many pages to be convenient to use.

In the end we played with the Larousse dictionary on my iPod, which worked out OKish. I'll be acquiring a proper French Scrabble dictionary as a matter of urgency though, as we found it quite hard to play foreign words. AÏ is still acceptable, by the way (still a three-toed sloth) and so is WOK, which saved me.

You might recall that I previously posted that Miss Jane and I played Scarabeo, the Italian word game. Yes, despite her mild-mannered crazy cat lady demeanour, Miss Jane is a polylinguist as well. We found the Italian game to be easier than French, for some reason. Maybe because Miss Jane spent a lot of the French game with absolutely atrocious letters. The French letter selection has more vowels, and still Jane couldn't find any.

A highlight of the game for me was my luck in finding the right letters for a bingo, so I was able to play SIGNALE for 72 points. However otherwise the game was fairly uninspiring, with letters like the K, W and Z even harder to play in a language we don't know so well. K, W,X and Z are worth 10 points, J and Q are worth 8, and QI is not acceptable. Luckily there are 6 Us instead of 4.

I can't find the score sheet, but I can say that although the scores weren't spectacular we didn't disgrace ourselves. We'd probably have a good game against a native speaker who didn't play Scrabble much. Sadly, for the moment I've run out of new languages in which I feel capable of playing. In any case, thank you ever so much Miss Jane for indulging me this far!


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Analyse Me

I share many conversations with CyberKev about personality disorders - those that we have, those that we're trying to avoid, and those that we aspire to. After due consideration, I've decided I probably do have a personality disorder, but I don't know what it might be called. Please help, Wise Readers.

When I find a new thing I'm interested in, I become obsessed with it. For example, board gaming. I acquired 300 games in 3 years, played many more than that, started a web site about it, travelled inter-state to pursue the hobby.

Then board-gaming went out (not completely, but look at the posts on this blog), and was replaced by anime (which didn't last long), Mafia Wars on Facebook (about 6 months, way too long) and now learning French. Interestingly, learning French takes about as much time as Mafia Wars did and is more useful in the short, medium and long terms. Before board games there was stamp collecting, Neverwinter Nights (18 months), and I forget what else. I'm very old, I've had a lot of obsessions.

The characteristics of these obsessions are that I spend horrendous amounts of time researching the topic, I spend unnecessary amounts of money on it, I tend to become moderately expert, and often I drop it suddenly. Of course board gaming can't be dropped suddenly, as that's how I met all of my friends and I still have a room full of games, but there's no doubt it has waned. Neverwinter Nights, Mafia Wars and stamp collecting were all dumped overnight. I still have the stamp collection, and I might get back to it one day.

Am I the only victim of Serial Obsession Syndrome? No, I'm not, I found another person who blogs about it. However, I do think it's a mystery to my wives, all 3 of whom have suffered through these obsessions. If only there was a name for it, I could explain it up front :-). My beautiful Dr Scrabblette is very tolerant, though, and the learning French obsession is at least compatible with her interests. (Also, she can't criticise, she has 6 degrees.)

I did an on-line personality test which suggested I might be Narcissistic or Paranoid, but since both of them require me to care what other people think, they're obviously not right. I've done many many OCD tests, to try to make my little sister happy, but I've failed every one. Not enough Asperger's, not enough anything. Am I Normal? Tell me!

On the other hand, I'm not sure I trust you guys. You board game geeks are generally pretty weird.


Monday, June 07, 2010


No, I'm not dead. I've been doing other things. For example, learning Italian. Shortly after we started the Italian For Travellers course, I researched Italian games. I discovered there's an Italian variation on Scrabble called Scarabeo, and I set about finding one. I found a BGG user who was willing to trade away his copy, so in exchange for a game I mail-ordered from Nestor Games, a copy of Scarabeo made its way to Australia on a slow boat. It arrived a few weeks ago, but Scrabblette (soon to be Dr Scrabblette) has been too busy to play, and indeed too busy to study Italian. Luckily, on the weekend Miss Jane was looking for a game, and Miss Jane has been learning Italian as well, so we played.

I have two Italian dictionaries, both of which got a serious workout during the game, but only short time after we started Jane said "We're doing it! We're playing Scrabble in Italian!" The result is shown above. The previous game Miss Jane and I played was Jaipur, in French, so we're really getting quite random.


Monday, May 03, 2010


Last night we played Gonzaga again. There were three of us - myself, Other Kevin, and Meng. The inactive countries were Germany and Eastern Europe.

From the start, we could see that Meng was trying to build a large fief. Kevin was placing in odd places, so was maybe going to bonus sympol points, but soon claimed a sea league. I attempted to cover my 6 symbols as quickly as possible.

I completed the bonus after 6 rounds and kevin claimed another sea league. Meng's empire stretched from Spain to Russia. I tried to get sea leagues and easy city points, but was blocked inadvertantly by Meng several times. Kevin claimed another sea league.

In the end, Meng got the bonus for the largest fief, but only 10 symbol points. Kevin claimed only 15 bonus points to go to 97, and I claimed 35 to go to... 95. A glorious victory to Kevin, which demonstrated that the sea league strategy is very effective.

Ieri, abbiamo giocato Gonzaga ancora una volta. Eravamo tre - me stesso, Altro Kevin, e Meng. Le nazione innative erano la Germania e lÉuropa Orientale.

Dall'inizio, vedevamo che Meng provava costruire un feudo grando. Kevin piazzava sui posti scompagnati - forse lei tentarebbe guadagnare i punti per le città segrete. Tra poco, lei rivendicava una lega navale. Io tentavo coprire i miei sei symboli il più presto.

Completevo la gratifica dopo che abbiamo giocato sei turni, e Kevin rivendicava una altra lega navale. L'impero di Meng estendantesi dalla Spagna alla Russia. Provavo creare le lege navale e caprire le città per i punti facili, ma stavo blocato inavvertitamente di Meng parecchi volte. Kevin rivendicava una altra lega navale.

Alla fine, Meng vincevo la gratifica per il feudo più grande, ma solo 10 punti per le città segrete. Kevin rivendicava 15 punti per le città segrete, per andare a 97 punti. Io rivendicave 35 punti per le città segrete per andare a... 95 punti. Una vittoria gloriosa a Kevin, che dimonstrado l'efficacia della strategia delle lega navale.

La veille, nous avons joué encore une partie de Gonzaga. Nous étions trois - moi-même, Autre Kevin, et Meng. Les pays inactifs étaient l'Allemagne et l'Europe Orientale.

Dès le debut, nous pouvions voir que Meng essayât bâtir le plus grande fief. Kevin mettait ses carreaux aux lieues divers - peut-être essayait-il d'avoir les points de plus pour les symboles - mais bientôt il marquait les points pour une ligue de mer. Je tentais couvrir mes symboles le plus vite.

J'avais couvrit tous les six après six tours, et Kevin encore marquait une ligue de mer. L'empire du Meng s'étendait de l'Espagne a la Russe. J'essayais de marquer les points pour les ligues de mer, et aussi pour les cités faciles, mais j'étais bloqué par Meng, sans son vouloir. Encore une fois Kevin marquait une ligue de mer.

À la fin, Meng gagnait les points pour le plus grande fief, mais il ne marquait que 10 points pour les villes secrets. Kevin marquait 15 points pour les cités secrets pour aller à 97 points, et je marquais tous les 35 pour aller à... 95. Une victoire magnifique à Kevin, que démontrait l'efficacité de la stratégie des ligues de mer.


Sunday, April 04, 2010


As you may have guessed from the title of this blog, I don't mind playing solitaire games occasionally. One I've been planning to get for months, interrupted by holidays and lack of finances, is Peloponnes. It's an extra-lite civ game, taking 15 minutes per player. I haven't played against opponents yet, but that's certainly correct for one player. Consequently, after getting it yesterday, I've played it 11 times today. I think I'm qualified to write a review now.

Each player starts with a city on the Peloponnesian peninsula, e.g. Sparta, and this is back in the old days when the amount that a country produced was related to its wealth, unlike Greece today. The city has some number of people, some amount of money, and some ability to harvest wood, stone and food. There are 40 tiles which can potentially be added to the city to improve it. The game runs over 8 rounds, in each of which 5 tiles are available. In a multi-player game an auction is held to allocate the tiles, but in solitaire you just pay the base price for the tile you want, and the other 4 are discarded. So, throughout the game you can make 8 purchases to improve your city.

The tiles are of two types - terrain, and buildings. The terrain tiles provide some resources - wood, stone, food or some combination thereof, and usually give you some more people as well. The building tiles give you some resources, some people, and some special abilities. The buildings require stone and / or wood to be built, as well as the base cost which all tiles have, which is paid in money.

After you've chosen and paid money for the tile you want, you add it to your city and receive any people that come with it. At this point you would usually have to pay resources to build a building, but you aren't required to. You may choose to buy the building on hire purchase, in which case you put one of your spare coins on the building, and that coin is captured until you finish paying for it. Otherwise, the building functions as normal.

Then you gather resources. You just add up how many wood, stone and food you get, and add them to the tally on your player sheet. One of the cities even gives you an extra person at this point - maybe they've invented Catholicism or something. You also receive money by taxing your people - the more people you have the more tax you receive. Now here's an interesting feature of the game - the tracks you record resources on on the player sheet are finite - you will have more resources than you can record. Any extras turn into "luxury goods" and are recorded separately. As luxury goods can be converted back into normal goods at a cost of 2 for 1, that effectively allows you to store stuff, with some wastage. It also simulates trade, when all of my extra food turns into stone if I need it to.

After income is recorded, there's a chance of some disasters happening. There are 5 possible disasters - earthquake, plague, famine, tempest and decline. Each of them attempts to ruin your civilisation in some way, and will cost you something unless you were smart and rich enough to buy a building which gives you immunity to that disaster (that's some of the special abilities I mentioned). Disasters aren't a complete surprise though. For each, there are 3 tokens, and there's a 16th token which is blank. Every round, 2 disaster tokens are revealed. If all three of one type have been revealed, the disaster happens. Consequently, by the end of the game, all disasters will have happened.

Three times during the game - once in the middle, once near the end, and once right at the end, there will be a supply round. At that point, you must pay one food for each of your people, and you must pay resources for the buildings you have on hire purchase, or you lose them. The supply rounds are somewhat predictable, but they can turn up at difficult times, and you definitely need to plan for them.

After 8 rounds of all that stuff, the game is done and scoring happens. First you calculate your prestige, which is the points for all of your tiles plus a few for any leftover money you have. Then you calculate your population score, which is 3 times the number of people you have. Your final score is the lesser of your population and prestige scores. Consequently, if you're playing for a high score, you need to keep in mind how many points you've got and how many people you've got, and try to balance them. People arrive sort of uniformly throughout the game, whereas the high prestige buildings arrive at the end, so it's typical to be behind on the prestige score until right at the end. It's also typical that two disasters happen in the last round, so you need to manage two disasters and the final supply round and balance your scoring all at the same time.

One wrinkle in the tile collection is the rule about terrain types. For two terrains to be placed next to each other, they must produce a resource in common. So a wood + food tile can go next to a food tile, but neither can go next to a rock tile. There are no rock + food tiles, so if your first tile is a rock-only tile, it's very difficult to get food production going. However, one of the buildings is the Barracks, which allows you to ignore the placement rule and invest in the lucrative single resource tiles. As the Barracks is expensive - it costs two people to play it, as well as its other costs - this strategy has to be deliberately committed to.

As I explore the game I'm seeing the strengths and weaknesses of the various tiles, e.g. the 3-rock terrain, and it seems that Bernd Eisenstein has put much more thought into this than I have so far. There are subtleties I am yet to understand.

The solitaire game includes a campaign mode very similar to that of Agricola, but I'm yet to try it. I think I'll play a few more games trying to get decent scores with the cities that have turned out badly, then go on to the campaign mode. There's a lot to be discovered.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Jaipur al Italiano

Scrabblette and I (and Miss Jane) are learning Italian for some reason which is not clear to me. We're very enthusiastic about at the moment, and I'm trying to use it as an excuse to play games whenever I can. This morning we played Straw with Italian scoring. I've been wanting to show Jaipur to Scrabblette, so this evening with the help of il dizionario I tried to teach her how to play in Italian. I've only had two lessons of Italian For Travellers, so this was what we call at work a "stretch target". Anyway, it went like this (see how much you can follow).

Jaipur. gioco di carte, per due giocatori (gioco = game)
tre rotondo, tre punti di vittorio, una punto di vottorio, per rotondo (rotondo = round)
carte di colori - giallo, rosso, grigio, marrone, viola, verde
tessere di colori - giallo, rosso, grigio, marrone, viola, verde (tessere = tiles)
tessere - una punto, due punti, tre punti, etc.
qui è mercato. tre i mercato (mercato = market, cammelli = camels)
ogni guiocatore cinque carte (ogni = each)
ogni giacotore una pila di cammelli qui (pila = pile)
ogni turno quattro opzione (turno = turn)
opzione uno - prendo una carta di mercato, no cammello (prendo = take)
opzione due - prendo tutto cammello a pila di cammello
opzione tre - scambiare carte di foglio è cammello per carte di colori del mercato (scambiare = exchange, foglio = hand)
foglio sette carte!
opzione quattro - comprare carte di una colore per tessere di punti di colore (comprare = buy)
tre carte, tessera gratifico tre; quattro carte, tessera gratifico quattro, etc. (gratifico = bonus)
tre pila vuoto, rotondo finere (vuoto = empty, finire = finish)
più cammello, cinque punti. (più = more)
contere punti. più punti vinceri una punto di vittorio (vincere = win, contere = count)
due punti di vittorio, tu vinceri!

So with a lot of pointing and guessing and repetition Scrabblette got the hang of it. The first round was a big win to me as Scrabblette struggled to learn the rules and figure out a strategy. The second round, she monopolised the camels and kept me low on cards and she managed a narrow win. In the ultimo rotondo she didn't notice I was going to end the round, and I ripped her off for enough points to win the round and the game.

Even if you don't speak Italian, or aspire to, Jaipur is a great game. It very much fills the role of Lost Cities, with a little bit more character. Sébastien Pauchon looks like becoming a very good designer, even though he's not Italian at all :-).

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Some New Games

I have lots of new games to talk about, but only a little bit of red wine and a little bit of time before bed. So here are some of them.

Flicochet - Phil Harding's new game is a cross between Crokinole and lawn bowls, and could easily be a huge hit. Crokinole boards are expensive (especially in Australia) and his game provides most of that fun for a tiny fraction of the price.

Finca - a very cute game, and easy to teach, but I couldn't figure out how I might play well. There's sort of an easy level, then maybe a mega-genius level which I cannot approach. I have no malice towards it, but I don't think it's a great game.

Carcassonne: the City - like Hunters and Gatherers, a completely dull variation on Carcassonne. The original was great, it doesn't need a swarm of mediocre epigone.

Sticheln - a nasty card game, but with 7 players like we played it, it seemed kinda random as well. Probably better with fewer players. I like Flaschenteufel a lot, and this is probably a similar game.

Thunderstone - Thunderstone is the fantasy dungeon crawl based on the Dominion engine. Unlike Dominion, it doesn't work sweetly. Our game dragged, and I found myself wishing that Valerie and Dale had played a billion trillion games of it to make it right.

Say Anything - a very party game in which you get points for knowing what people like. Randy, who knew us least well of anyone, managed to win. By the way, my favourite ethnic cuisine is Thai, which I admit was not obvious.

Caption If You Can! - Phil Harding's party game, which I played immediately after Say Anything, and felt similar and not quite as good. Still, it worked.

Archaeology: The Card Game - the third of Phil Harding's games to appear in this list. Phil certainly is a diverse designer - a party game, a dexterity game, and a card game. Archaeology was pretty annoying, as Amanda got sweet card draws and I got shafted by sand storms and thieves. I'd seen some kids playing this, and that's probably the target demographic, because it drives us computer programmers nuts.

Tales of the Arabian Nights

There are a few literary works which are worshipped in our house. Examples include the complete works of Hergé, Goscinny and Uderzo and all derivatives thereof in all languages, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" by Edward Tufte, and the Tales of the Arabian Nights. I know, when I see something related to the Tales, that we will end up owning it. Hence it was quite astonishing that in the middle of January this year we still did not own the new edition of the board game. The only possible reason is that Scrabblette had been so busy with her thesis that she hadn't had time to think of acquiring it, or encouraging me to.

I played it at GenCon Oz last year, and though we had to cut that game short I could tell there was some magic in there. Characters seek their fame and fortune, and find it. They can become miserably wretched or fabulously fabulous. The game is astonishingly well done, and if you don't care that it's kinda random, it's lots of fun.

The day Scrabblette left Canberra I realised that Mind Games had it on sale for 20% off. That's a significant saving on a necessary purchase, but I was still in a quandary because I had limited baggage space back to Brisbane. I bought it anyway. As it turned out, TotAN was only about half of my carry-on luggage quota, so I was able to fit the kids' game Queen Melissa gave me in there as well.

Aaron, Amanda and I played Tales at OtB, and I was quite surprised when Aaron won. My first experience suggested it was a long game, but I'm beginning to think it speeds up a bit as it goes along. If you haven't played it, it's like one of those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, but much prettier, much more complex, and not so fucking mindlessly stupid. Players have skills (e.g. Seduction, Magic, Courtly Graces, Story Telling) which they can add to over time. Many encounters either require a skill, or you gain one when you fail miserably. In that way characters advance over time, and as you gain skills you improve your ability to gain Destiny and Story points.

I've noticed that characters benefit more from assertive actions than from aggressive or timid ones. It's probably better to AID the Old Woman than to ATTACK her or HIDE from her. Of course, I haven't tried a combat-oriented character, maybe they get better results from attacking. It also seems that characters go one of two ways - they either succeed and become wealthy and powerful and have a chance to win the game, or they fail and become enslaved, ensorcelled, envious, outlawed and imprisoned. I thought at first either option was a valid way to play, but honestly, life seems to remain miserable for the characters who take the second path.

In my game at OtB I managed to walk a middle path. My bad luck started when I beat an old woman for no obvious reason. I became an outlaw. If I returned to such-and-such a town I would be captured and imprisoned (bad). Then I got lucky in Africa and a rich prince fell in love with me (I play yellow, the yellow character is a girl, I am totally not gay) and I had riches showered upon me. However my home town became the town where my prince was, and that was where I was wanted. I was required to return home to have babies etc regularly, but if I did so I would become imprisoned. I think I actually managed to deal with that, then got pulled overboard by a merman in Timbuktu. Timbuk-fucking-tu. Then I ended up on a desert island (in fact, Ireland) which is of course what happens when one falls off one's boat in Timbuktu. Anyway... then Aaron one.

Coincidentally, BGG user ibn_ul_khattab was flying through Brisbane on the weekend, and TotAN is one of his favourite games. Brisbane is only on the way between two interesting places in the entire world (Singapore and Auckland) so I was very lucky to be able to game with him. ibn, the kid, and I gave TotAN another whirl. The kid fell into the trap of over-extending himself (you know how these young people are, they think they're bullet-proof, then along comes a djinn) and all sorts of horrors befell him. However ibn and I took the path of Having Good Things Happen, and I won on the turn before ibn would have, and then only because I had the ability to go back and choose something better than the mediocre thing that was going to happen. The game only took about two hours.

That suggests to me that Tales might even be the sort of game you can play competitively, if you're in the mood to not do odd things. That's not really in the spirit though - the fun is in finding out what you can get away with.

Anyway, I'm enjoying that game. When Scrabblette is done with her thesis (again), I look forward to trying it out two-player. I wonder when they're making the board game of "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information"?

Hard Work January

Goodness me, how busy life can be! I'd barely returned from India when I was off for a week to the Australian Games Expo and On the Beach. It seems I rarely get a chance to blog these days, even though I'm weaning myself off Mafia Wars.

The Australian Games Expo is a gaming convention held in Canberra on the Australia Day weekend. It was originally conceived by Phil Davies of Mind Games Canberra and Albury as a retailers' convention to be held in Albury. There were a couple of flaws in the plan, e.g. Albury is quite hard to get to for people like me, and the retailers all agreed to sell games at regular prices. So I would travel for 24 hours to get to the middle of nowhere to pay full price for games? I didn't attend the first few times.

Luckily, Australia has charismatic gamers such as Queen Melissa and Neil Thomson (from Albury), who organised free gaming in the vicinity of the convention, and made it attractive to people who just want to play games and can't fit any more in their suitcase on the way home. It also moved to Canberra, which is more annoying than Albury but easier to get to. This year as well, we organised the Australian Maths Trade to finish shortly before the convention, and Julian from unhalfbricking organised for geeks from all over the country to drop their games at his stand. That was a very clever move, because he got to meet the ones who weren't already his customers.

Phil has decided to hand administration of the con over to a team of young professionals, and I wish them the best of luck. I do hope they recognise that the Australian gaming community is not a mass of faceless consumers, it is in fact a well-informed, well-organised network. The leaders of games clubs know each other from BGG and increasingly Facebook, and increasingly in real life as well. Any Australian board game con is enhanced by the presence of Giles (caradoc) working for Rio, Mickey and Mike from Paradise Games, Alison and Neil from Caterpillar Games, the Albury front-row forwards, and of course Her Majesty Queen Melissa and her royal court.

Scrabblette was in Canberra the day before the con started for a conference in her field, so she spent the weekend in Canberra with me. That meant I wasn't able to go feral and game myself into a blithering mess of caffeine and pizza; instead I went to the National Library and the Art Gallery (impressionists display) and the Botanical Gardens. Consequently I spent most of my time at the con just chatting to old and new friends - Shingo, Tim Woodhams, Sacha Spinks, gmcnish, Da Pyrate, sbszine, Phil Harding, Alvin, mr_lunch, fFish, tiggers etc... people I'd desperately love to see more of, if only Australia was a smaller place.

Once Scrabblette left for Brisbane again I got a chance to play some games, and the first was Tobago which Giles taught to me and some guy called Nick. Wow, that's a cool game. It's just at that level of being pretty easy, but you can still apply thought to increase your chances. The deduction aspect is so much fun. We managed to borrow fFish's copy to play at On the Beach, so I enjoyed it twice more. After Tobago I was looking to play Maori, but couldn't find an opponent. I noticed a table of guys trying to figure out Stone Age, so I decided to play with them and teach them that game. Stone Age is a pretty easy game to teach because the theme works so well. I discovered as I was playing that two of my opponents were BGGers... but the other guy won. I also managed to play Finca, which I would play again but I hesitate to say it's a good game. It's just outrageously pretty.

After the con I was off to On the Beach with Julian etc. Julian was quite stoked with the sales he'd made, and had good information on what new games he needed to stock, e.g. Tobago. Nevertheless, there was a lot of stuff to put back on his trailer, such as all the unwanted Martin Wallace games. I rode up to Jindabyne with Brendan Mahony from Adelaide, his daughter, and AJ.

A few people have asked what On the Beach is. It's sort of like an Australian Gathering of Friends. It grew out of ConVic (Julian's convention) where a few of us saw the Australian gaming community being born, and had the idea of getting together for a week each year and being good buddies and playing a heck of a lot of games. The theory is that we hold it somewhere in the middle of NSW where people from Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney can congregate with maximum inconvenience to everybody. We're very limited for space, because finding accommodation for a week in country Australia is limited to shearing shed dorimtories and suchlike. At the moment we've found a nice ski lodge which is happy to have customers in summer. Because space is limited, and because we don't want to spoil a good thing, we're very very selective about who gets invited - generally we want people who want to play lots of games, and aren't psycho bastards, no matter how many times you get blocked out of a city - because, we're going to be there for a week, we can't afford group dynamics problems.

Anyway, I had a great time at OtB this year, and there is very little evidence that I was actually the psycho bastard everyone hated. My good geekbuddy aaronseeber and I played a few abstract games, CyberKev coerced us all to play his party games, and Julian and Brendan played their Martin Wallace games in a back room where nobody could be grossed out. Peter Hawes was tirelessly teaching his games, as always! M. Squelart was an astonishingly good breakfast chef, while Brendan had the bacon and eggs under control. Aaron Seeber cooked some lovely dinners then AJ did the dishes. Randy (genesteeler) and Melissa (not the Queen, another one) were invited as well, and I thought were great people to have around. It helps that my gaming tastes tend more towards Melissa's than towards Brendan's or Kevin's :-).

I played 68 games in 6 days at OtB, including 18 that were new to me. However, that will have to be for another blog post.

Monday, February 01, 2010


71 plays on the trip away, but playing loads of games still doesn't make up for acquiring 4 new ones (net). Utilisation is down by 0.17%.

There are 429 games in this collection. The BGG average rating for this collection is 6.39. Your average rating for this collection is 6.91.

On average you have played each of these games 6.75 times. Your Friendless Metric is 1 (89 games played 10+ times, 48 games never played.) Your Continuous Friendless Metric is 3.26 which corresponds to an average utilisation of 52.87%.


I just spent the last week gaming myself stupid. I wonder what effect it will have on my stats?

There are 425 games in this collection. The BGG average rating for this collection is 6.38. Your average rating for this collection is 6.92.

On average you have played each of these games 6.75 times. Your Friendless Metric is 1 (88 games played 10+ times, 48 games never played.) Your Continuous Friendless Metric is 3.28 which corresponds to an average utilisation of 53.04%.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Numbers for 2009

The numbers this year are slightly wobbly, as I was away over New Year (on a plane!) and some of my games are in transit from India. Nevertheless I'll work with this close approximation. Here are the articles from previous years, for comparison.

2007 article
2008 article

In 2007 I had 369 games, in 2008 400, now I have 425. At least the 2nd derivative is negative. The BGG rating for my collection has decreased (like I give a damn) and my rating has slightly increased.

There are 425 games in this collection. The BGG average rating for this collection is 6.4.

Your average rating for this collection is 6.92.

On average you have played each of these games 6.78 times.

Your Friendless Metric is 1 (90 games played 10+ times, 46 games never played.)

Your Continuous Friendless Metric is 3.31 which corresponds to an average utilisation of 53.41%.

2009 was a frustrating year for collection management. Scrabblette was not available to play games most of the time due to her study, yet she was often available to tell me not to dispose of any of the games I wasn't playing. I will seek revenge this year. For example, I will get her to play many of the Indian games that have been lying around untouched since her previous trip.

My Continuous Friendless Metric improved, but not as much as I wanted, and my Friendless Metric headed in the right direction, but way too slowly. My game room remained full. More shelves are not the answer - fewer games is.

I only recorded 644 plays for the year, fewer than the previous 3 years. I guess the demise of Scrabulous is responsible for some of that, but also the kid's reluctance to do essentially any of the same things as his dad, Scrabblette's business, and a whacking great holiday to a country without CyberKev helped. I also missed conventions due to saving up leave to go on the whacking great holiday :-(.

I also played fewer new games (90) than in the previous 4 years. To some extent I've figured out what I like and I can recognise a game I won't like, and both CyberKev and I are acquiring fewer new games.

What ambitions do I have for the new year? I'm not going to put numbers on it this time, as I've failed to make them 2 years in a row already. So I'll just say I want to play the games I like lots of times. See how we go with that!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Ganjifa Man

I had a couple of goals on our Indian holiday, including to try lots of new things, and to get some ganjifa cards. Let us say I wasn't considering the second and had severe misgivings about the first when we arrived in Bangalore and saw this sign:

It turned out this was just around the corner from where we were staying, and holding each other's hand tightly and chanting to ourselves "just looking not buying", Scrabblette and I walked over to see what was going on. It turned out what was going on was that a bunch of stalls had been set up in the car park of the Reliance Mart, selling various handicrafts. This was the type of stuff that we'd been desperately avoiding all holiday, but we were somewhat more relaxed when the salesmen weren't so pushy. I particularly liked the stuff at one stall, from which we eventually brought home this little guy:

Scrabblette mentioned that this was the sort of art work done in Orissa, which we weren't going to. As we were looking through the items we found a round piece which Scrabblette identified as a ganjifa card. We'd actually seen ganjifa cards earlier in the trip, in the museum in Mysore, but only one set had been on display and we weren't allowed to take photos. The attendant at the museum said they had lots of them in the store room :-(.

Anyway, we asked the Orissa guy whether he knew where we could get ganjifa cards, and he said that he did in fact have some, but not at the stall. He'd made them himself and people didn't buy them. Woohoo! He didn't want to tell us the price till we'd seen them, so we suspected they were expensive. However, one set took him 22 days at 3 hours per day - hand painted - so what should we expect? By the way, here's Orissa guy's card:

We went off to Hampi for a few days, and when we got back eventually organised to get back to the stall when he was actually there - shops open late in India, which really didn't work for an impatient Australian trying to fit a holiday into winter daylight hours. Sure enough, as promised, he had several sets of ganjifa cards, of which we bought this one:

The horrifying price was 2500 rupees, i.e. about $A60, which I was happy to pay. I was also thinking about potentially paying a $A75 quarantine fee to get them irradiated if necessary (I think they're painted on palm leaf), so I didn't expect this project to be dirt cheap in the first place. In any case, Orissa guy and I both went away happy.

I've been looking for rules for games with them, but haven't got any authoritative descriptions yet. Apparently there is Naqsh which is basically poker, and that doesn't interest me at all; but there are also Hamrang and Ekrang. My best knowledge so far is that they're some sort of trick taking game, where you have to play 2 cards per trick. I'll post again when I've figured it out.