Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Worker placement gold standard - another Agricola session

It seems that I can never talk about worker-placement games without comparing them to Agricola (designer Uwe Rosenberg, artist Klemens Franz, publisher Z-Man), which I guess was my first introduction to the genre and the one nearest to my gaming heart.  It has become the standard against which I measure all other worker-placement games.  Tonight, Kathy and I decided to drag it to the table again, and this old favorite still satisfies as much as it ever did.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Worker placement - comparison and contrast

My wife Kathy and I have played two worker-placement games in the past three days, and we've come to form very different opinions about the two of them.

(c) Tasty Minstrel Games
Used by permission
Friday we played Belfort (designers Bamboozle Brothers Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, artist Joshua Cappel, publisher Tasty Minstrel), which I'd put high on my wishlist based on a number of strong recommendations.  The appeal of Belfort is clear - it combines a number of Euro-game elements in a rather interesting format.  DiceHateMe Games called it the Game of the Year for 2011.  There is some area control going on, resource optimization, construction - all the things you expect in a Euro game these days.

Friday, August 24, 2012

American battleships at Midway

Wednesday afternoon, my friend and colleague Frank H. and I got together after work for our re-match in Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill).  We first clashed over the Pacific in June, when I played the Americans and Frank the Japanese.  This time, we switched roles, so that I commanded the forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Frank those of the United States Navy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lemming luncheon

My wife Kathy, my eleven-year-old son, and I inaugurated one of my WBC acquisitions this evening -- the light-hearted Leaping Lemmings (designers John Poniske and Rick Young, artists Rodger MacGowan, Leona Preston, and Mark Simonitch, publisher GMT).  This fox-and-geese variation is actually a symmetric game, in which each player has a faction of lemmings seeking to evade the eagles, whose control rotates among the players.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The game time conundrum

This isn't a new problem, but it's a problem that has recently really come sharply into focus.  I've been playing plenty of two-player games at home, and several multi-player Euros with friends.  But a number of other games and genres have caught my attention on which I'd like to spend more time and energy:

Friday, August 17, 2012

WBC: Acquire and acquisitions

Early in our game of Acquire.
I had a majority holding in Worldwide
(the purple hotel to the right), but
that wasn't enough to prevail
One of the great things about game conventions is that I get to play games that I never play at home.  One of those is Acquire (designer Sid Sackson, artist Kurt Miller, publisher Wizards of the Coast), which I played at WBC last week with Roger B. of Providence, Rhode Island, and the GM, Cliff Ackman of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I first learned Acquire in a demo at PrezCon some years ago, and even bought a copy on eBay, but didn't give it much thought until my friend Rebecca E. remarked on it in comparison to Chicago Express last year.  That comment, plus a Little Metal Dog Show endorsement as a "stone cold classic," re-fired my interest, and I made a point to play Acquire at PrezCon last February.  I am definitely on a learning curve with this game.  I love the tense jockeying for majority shareholder investment, although I think that the tile draw aspect can introduce too much of a luck factor sometimes.  In our game last week, Roger couldn't draw a tile to start a hotel chain to save his life.  I thought I played reasonably well, but not well enough to beat the experienced Cliff.  I do very much enjoy Acquire, though, and I hope to get to play it more often.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

WBC: Designers' forum

One of the great things about a convention like the World Boardgaming Championships is having the opportunity to interact with fellow designers.  The open gaming room at WBC was practically an informal design laboratory of demonstrations and playtesting.

TC Petty III's Viva Java
Image courtesy of
Dice Hate Me Games
My friend Keith F. and I had only the briefest chat with one of my favorite designers, T.C. Petty III, whom I met at WBC last year when he was demonstrating the semi-cooperative Viva Java, a game that has already seen its successful Kickstarter campaign and has a Dice Hate Me release expected this month.  T.C. is working on a couple of ideas that sound characteristically original and off-beat.  It will be fun to see what creations find their way to production out of his unique perspective on game design.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

WBC: Wooden Ships semifinal and final

I was pleased to qualify for the semifinal in the World Boardgaming Championships Wooden Ships and Iron Men tournament.  The previous year, I'd lost in the semi-final to Evan Hitchings, and as it happened, this year would provide the opportunity for a rematch.

Semi-final: Frigate frenzy
For the semi-final, we were each given the opportunity to choose from among three orders of battle:
  • Two elite-crewed American frigates, including one 44-gun ship
  • Three crack-crewed British frigates
  • Four French frigates - one crack and three average

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

WBC: "Ethics in Gaming" revisited

At WBC on Thursday last week, Joel Tamburo hosted his annual seminar on Ethics in Gaming.  This was my second opportunity to attend.

I arrived a little late and found myself in the middle of a conversation on the interpretation of rules
Signing of the Constitution of the United States
U.S. Government.  Public domain
ambiguities.  Not entirely a matter of ethics, the question on the floor seemed to center around whether an unaddressed action in the rules should be allowed (because the rules don't prevent it) or prohibited (because the rules don't allow it or provide for it).  Peter, an attorney, likened the question to that of Constitutional interpretation, whereby some people hold that rulings on Constitutionality ought to depend on the intent of the founders at the time that they wrote it, as best we can determine from other writings at the time.  Others hold that interpretation of the Constitution necessarily changes with the times, and so it is with game rules:  It doesn't matter how the game designer wanted you to play the game; what matters is how the players want to play.  So, then, the question became, does the designer's intent matter?

Monday, August 6, 2012

World Boardgaming Championships: Wonders, ships, and farmers

Last Thursday, I arrived at the World Boardgaming Championships in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with a "flexible plan" (which is just one step above no plan at all) of how best to enjoy this annual trek to the highlight event of the Boardgame Players Association.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

World Boardgaming Championships 2012: Quick note upon return

I just got home earlier tonight from the World Boardgaming Championships (WBC) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  A quick note before going to bed, with more to follow:
  • 7 Wonders: quarterfinals, and the loss of a card
  • "Ethics in gaming" seminar
  • Agricola with the Interactive deck
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men:  Made the finals but lost
  • Acquire:  Still learning
  • "East India Company" demo/playtest
  • Heartland Hauling: first impressions
  • War Time:  Reprise
  • Mars Needs Mechanics:  Gaslight supply and demand
  • Trains Planes and Automobiles: My first event as GM
  • Acquisitions: Chicago Express, St. Petersburg, and Leaping Lemmings
  • A gift: 1949 edition of Clue

Thursday, August 2, 2012

East India Company: Turn sequence re-work pays off

After work today, I got a fourth playtest of "East India Company" with my friends Brian G. and Frank H.  Earlier this week, I'd completely reworked the turn sequence to improve the flow of decision-making and order of events, plus I added a couple of commodity tiles to the initial set-up to open up the early game.