Friday, April 06, 2007

Current games-to-play-on-Thursday list

  • Man, we are never going to get Order of The Stick done in a reasonable amount of time, so that's out.
  • Merchant of Venus - Tim ought to play it, Chris, Lee, and I love it, Larry and R.J. are okay with it.
  • game prototypes - hopefully, Tim and Chris will both bring in more designs to test. I have given up on producing anything useful or playable in 2007, with the possible exception of a Power Grid variant.
  • Power Grid (Eastern Europe) - last of the maps to try, with variant fuel costs as well. Looking forward to this.
  • Funny Friends - hopefully I can get Marty Hoff back over.
  • Beowulf - R.J. traded for a copy; I've played this once at the Houston Gamers and liked it.
  • Pizarro & Co. - I like it more than anyone else so far. I dunno. It's a pure auction game, and we have so many of those around that are excellent; a tough sell.
  • RoboRally - I got a copy and want to crack into it. I played it back in the dorms in college - it was good then, and it's good now.
  • Wildlife - unplayed, by a decent designer, highly rated. About evolution, so Lee's not interested.
  • Industria - unplayed. An auction game, in German, that only plays 3 or 4 players. Oh, and it's supposed to take 90 minutes even when you know what you're doing. Huh, wonder why it hasn't hit the table already with all that going for it!
  • Blue Moon expansion decks - I bought more of these, then I saw some shiny pebbles and got distracted. I'm never going to be a great Blue Moon player, but it's fun.
  • Filthy Rich - got in a trade, haven't played yet.
  • Ursuppe - been a long time since this favorite of mine hit the table. With the winding-down of the Cheapass Games demo program, I'm considering picking up another company or two to help out. Z-Man Games has a lot of great games, and I've been surprised over and over at how great a job Zev's done on his past releases.

Beyond that, I'm playing a lot of the Puzzle Quest PC demo. Suffice it to say, I have earned over 10,000 experience. The last two times I played a game's demo this much were Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, and the original Majesty demo, both of which rewarded me with a complex and rewarding game experience that made me happy.

Today is the first day I've spent in the house, alone, on a weekday, not sick, in a long, long time. Lee will choose a contractor soon, and then our bathrooms will be destroyelated with intense prejudice. Our credit union got us a decent rate on the home equity loan, so I'm not feeling the intense waves of hatred for it that I felt for our original mortgage.

Ultimately, I like my job, but if something better came along, I'd have to go for it. Yes, the bills are getting paid, but my free/busy ratio is out of whack.

Thursday night: Tigris and Euphrates along with Fische Fluppen Frikadellen

Euphrat & Tigris, also known as Tigris & Euphrates, hit the table last night. It's a venerable warhorse, rated #2 right now on BGG.

R.J., Chris, Tim, and I launched in after I got Cori in bed. The guys brought all kinds of snacks, and we launched into E&T for the first time in a while.

Tim was new to the game, R.J. and Chris had played a couple times a way back, and I've played quite a bit, a million zillion years ago. I like Tigris & Euphrates best with 3 players, and if I have 3 players, heck, let's play San Juan or Power Grid and be happy.

It was a good game that Chris won after soaking up lots of monument points. The whole experience was intense, but I found it off-putting. I hate the way monuments shape the game - someone who becomes king of the hill will scoop several points a turn, and all you can do is either rush in and try to knock them off, or make an even bigger hill and hope for the best. Frustrating.

My difficulty here is that what I find fun in T&E is setting up clever attacks, but the game rewards getting in a good position and sitting on your butt.

We also had several rules questions that weren't immediately obvious in the translation I have. There are a lot of people who will go on and on about the original German edition and the American reprint. Blah blah blah, I've seen both editions, and am not interested in that debate.

R.J. had to take off, but Tim and Chris were able to hang out and play Fische Fluppen Frikadellen; it was Chris' first play and Tim's second. FFF, as it is know, is a goofy race game, disguised as a trading game - and by my favorite designer, Friedemann Friese, no less. I blundered one of the major, important rules, which completely screwed up the game, and discovered it 2/3 of the way through. I've played this game probably a dozen times, and I still can't believe how boneheaded and major a mistake I made. The commodity market in the game (for fish, whiskey, smokes, hamburgers, and fennel) moves up and down, and we did everything right EXCEPT, oh crud, all the merchants sell a market space cheaper PER COMMODITY PRESENT. We ended up with 7 fish on a shop. Fish were sitting on the 120 space in the market, and I was staring at the board, "Huh. I remember something is supposed to happen here. I'll just look it up and AW MAN, EVERYBODY AT THE TABLE GETS A FREE PUNCH AT MY FACE." Chris and Tim declined to give me a well-deserved punch in the face, but wow, back to basics.

I was impressed that they managed to grok the movement rules, which have several counterintuitive sub-clauses. Other than that, I love Fische Fluppen Frikadellen. The fennel pictured on the tokens has a happy-face on it, and the art on the entire game just makes me smile. It randomizes setup beautifully, and takes less than an hour to play.

For the record, my ability to remember and explain rules has dropped dramatically ever since the kids were born. I used to be good at explaining games, and actually had a half-dozen or so games down pat. Chris has taken the brunt of 2 exceedingly-important-dropped-rule gaffes so far (Lee and I bobbled a game of El Grande with Chris about a year ago... and then I traded my copy away, like a moron, for Hacienda - which is almost as good as El Grande, but not in the same class).

I'm hoping to get fellow Houston Gamer Marty Hoff back over some Thursday for him to explain Funny Friends, seeing as how he both knows how to play and likes the game. I bought it because it's a collaboration between Friedemann Friese and Andrea Cassola-Merkle (responsible for the stellar Attika).

My mom and dad sent an Easter package with candy and cards for the girls, and for me, my old copy of Mertwig's Maze. That takes me back, back, back. It's the first Tom Wham game I ever played, and I remember spending long winter afternoons laying out the adorable cards. Given the variable playing time, I don't know if our group will try and take it on anytime soon. It's spiritual successor these days is probably the Order of the Stick Board Game. Which, as luck would have it, is also on my shelf, unplayed.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Too many people reading your blog?

Why not make it so when I click on a link such as "March 2007," I don't get all 20-odd posts from that month, I get only 5 posts and end up needing to search around for a teeny-tiny link that says "next entries." Woo, all 5 entries only show the first 100 words and I need to click through each entry? Great work making your prose unreadable.

Also, can every untalented, uninteresting blogger please begin using the ambiguous labels "next" and "previous" for archive navigation, rather than the straightforward "older/newer" labels? For you talented but confused people, navigation bars should be at the top AND bottom of archive pages. I know no one ever told you this until now, so you have exactly until the end of today to fix your site. Why are you forcing me to scroll up to the top to browse in your archives? Why do you hate freedom?

Anyone who is paid to deliver a professional website with white text on black background shall be stripped of possessions and dignity, then driven from the internet, never to return.

In conclusion, you dang kids, stay off my lawn.

*** This post is dedicated to the hard-working people of Tom's Hardware, who know that 90% of your monitor space should be devoted to horrible ads, and to anyone who is still using Snap previews. You made your site unreadable, so I don't read your site! Excellent! Cry yourself to sleep, drying your tears with your horrible Unix-guru beards. ***

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Saturday at home

Larry came over to take me up to Tri-Games, but Lee said she wanted to play, too. We got in a game of Puerto Rico (Larry got a factory going full-steam and crushed us) and a game of Power Grid on the France map (Lee took an early lead, then had all her oil bought out from under her by Larry - I was the eventual winner).

Lee finished up some emails as Larry and I closed out the evening with a game of Attika. Larry started strong with some great early draws, keeping me on the defensive the entire game. His pushes to connect the shrines were dangerous enough that I had to give up two cards several times, costing me tempo. He placed all his buildings and won. It was nice to get this out, and confirm that I still like Attika better than Taluva, the designer's next effort. This makes me something of an oddity in the Houston Gamers at present.

We opened a bottle of sparkling wine that had been in our fridge since Thanksgiving, and ate potato chips left over from Thursday gaming.

[Oh, yeah, Thursday Lee, Chris, R.J., Tim, and Larry played Hacienda. R.J. won, with Larry and Lee tied for second. It was odd to watch. I played it once back when I got the game, but haven't played since. R.J. gave me quite a bit of guff about my hazy memories of the instructions. It seems like we might have played the game wrong the other time. They were all rolling in cash at the end of the game.]