Monday, May 28, 2007

Birthday Party at Kevin Nunn's place

Larry, his brother Phil, and I all ended up over at Kevin Nunn's place, along with a merry band of well-wishers.

We ended up playing Punc Sicht Lady (a German game about dating services), King's Stables (one of Kevin's prototypes), Formel Fun, and yet another racing game the name of which I didn't catch.

I keep thinking I'll pick up a copy of Formel Fun, but I haven't done it yet.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wordpress would be more attractive...

...if I didn't keep commenting on people's blogs, then realizing that they're not managing to work through their comment moderation in a timely manner. I see several capable folks who are comment black holes.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Gar[b]age Sale

I took Cori out garage-saling this morning. I was figuring, "Last weekend of the month, tons of sales!" Between the rain and Memorial Day Weekend, almost every one I saw was a dud. I drove past 4 sales, stopped at 3, and went to 3 thrift stores.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kingdom of Loathing: NS13 approaches

The online game I play, Kingdom of Loathing, announced a major content rollout in about a month. I'm happy that I can still be excited about something so minor in the grand scheme of things.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sunday at Larry's: Blue Moon City - also, catch-up post

Sunday Larry and I found a hole in the rules to Blue Moon City. What happens when a player runs out of cubes? The rules seem to imply that the player who does this is stuck until someone else buys them out. Of course, in a two-player game, that means the second player can buy every unoccupied building and cash in.

Other than that, did I mention we playtested Chris and Veranne's game on Thursday? Well, we did. It was interesting and quite a workout - the co-op game is rough stuff when you're losing, and it took us a long time to kick the bucket. I still don't know how I feel about the game - but it has gotten me into a game-design mood myself, which hits me every year or so. I usually end up making half a prototype, then lose interest. Game balance is tough, I have a ton of games I like already, and our limited game time is so precious.

Gotta find my big stack of index cards, and I'm all set.

Write your dream job

So a comics fan named Christopher Bird has gotten himself a gig at DC Comics by putting together a list of reasons why he should write for "The Legion of Super-Heroes."

I never quite understood the comic as a kid - in hindsight, it's a title that never quite got the readership it needed, so it was totally rebooted four or five times. I didn't buy it - I was reading it at the news-stand at the grocery store, maybe every third issue. Not the best of ways to get the main narrative across, I know.

Still, this guy's got a compelling list of reasons. He's clearly got an understanding of the characters, knows how to use conflict to move stories forward, and loves all the silly bits in the comics, while still being ready to readjust anything that didn't quite gel. That last part is going to be crucial, if my childhood confusion is any indication. Good luck to you, Christopher.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Houston Gamers: low-stress fun

Larry and I went to the Houston Gamers yesterday and played Blue Moon City with Amy and Debra. I squeaked out a photo-finish victory, then we moved on to play a Haba game about turtles. Haba is a kids' game company, and the game featured these gorgeous wooden turtle pieces that you rolled back and forth trying to aim them to random spots on the board.

We played through several of the kids' games that used the turtles, then we packed up and went to the 59 Diner for country-fried steaks.

We probably could have played more games if we had gotten there sooner, but Lee and I were watching a recent Doctor Who episode and needed to finish before I could take off.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Thursday night: hail on the chief

Thursday we got hail, and lots of rain, probably close to 8 inches in 2 hours. My car is drying out at the mechanic's now, nothing serious.

Several of our guests spent the night stuck due to high water.

But before that, Lee, Chris, R.J., Tim, and Bobby played 6 Nimmt, and Bohnanza while I cleaned up and got the girls to bed. After Chris crashed on the couch, R.J., Tim, Bobby, and I played Medici and Ra, both Reiner Knizia auction games.

Gamecount+2, there...

Fluxx with Family

Last Friday, Lee and I flew to Iowa with the girls for my sister Rachel's graduation from Iowa State University's vet school. My other sister Amy brought my niece Hannah, so all the girls had a blast playing together. I gave Rachel a copy of the first Powers graphic novel, as well as a personalized bookmark. I gave Amy and her husband Jack a copy of Reiner Knizia's Blue Moon City.

Random stuff from reading the program:

  • Here's the veterinarian's oath, in case you were curious.
  • George Washington Carver has an honorary degree from ISU, having attended as an undergrad.
  • ISU has a mace. It is a +3 Mace of Education, and probably does double damage against zombies, if available.
Anyway, I guess the graduation speaker was okay - definitely not as good as the time I saw Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. speak at Rice University once upon a time.

We did get in a game of Fluxx back at the hotel, which was good (am I keeping a Gamecount, here? Yeah, well, I have a lot on my mind). Rachel gave out a lot of great stuff from her trip to Germany this spring, including some tiny Haba games for the girls and copies of Blindes Huhn, and Chinesische Mauer, known here in America as, well, Blindes Huhn and Great Wall of China for me.

The Days Inn we stayed at pretty much sucked, other than the continental breakfast. The management were fairly apathetic about the whole thing, and I've slept next to airplane engines quieter than their defective bathroom fans. Being graduation weekend, they knew they'd hit 100% occupancy no matter what. Our room was close to the front desk so I heard at least two "Sorry, all booked up" refusals.

Overall, the trip went well - I brought my work laptop with Baby Einstein DVDs to play on the airplane and in the hotel if necessary. We got a travel car seat with retractable wheels, which also acted as a decent stroller. Finally, we packed light and had some gifts mailed back to us, rather than haul them along. Cori melted down on the airplane at exactly her bedtime, and really, who can ask more of a toddler?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day is Free Remote Computer Support Day

Tell your sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, and assorted grandchildren to read this article about how they can connect to your computer remotely - for free - on Mother's Day.

I foresee a day of computer tune-ups for me...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My other car is made of meat...

I've been playing Kingdom of Loathing.

This is neither good nor bad.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Saturday: playtesting

Lee, Larry, Tim, and I went over to a friend's place to playtest a game in Chris' portfolio. The game's called "Spoils of War," and is essentially a realtime, cooperative game that several of his designers have been working on for many years. (I'm going to be deliberately vague here, so as not to spoil everything.)

It was an experience. I was in a grumpy mood, and the game turned out to be a hardcore race against time, with game-driven attrition. I hate attrition games in general- Taj Mahal stands as a perfect example. Nothing wrong with the game, just my preference.

Nevertheless, this game was interesting. All the players were moving around and attempting to achieve goals on a board filled with monsters. We played through one scenario, then broke for lunch, then resumed for a second, tougher scenario. As it happened, we did lose against the game the second time through, most likely due to a terrible starting position.

There are two games of the same cooperative nature I've played before, with similar losses possible: Shadows Over Camelot, and Arkham Horror. Both are prone to inducing analysis-paralysis. Both also take too long - Shadows isn't cool. Spoils of War didn't do that.

My main concerns about the game are as follows:

1. The rate of attrition is too high to be fun for me. If I had a chance to kill more monsters, I would. As it stands, monsters sit around, unless they are charging toward me.
2. The granularity of monster attacks as they scale upward is too large. (e.g. some monsters which use up half your starting resources to kill can suddenly triple in size.)
3. There's not enough distinction between characters.
4. Players don't have anything else to do besides go for the obvious. Maybe introduce other factors?
5. I wanted more, actual, interesting decisions in my hand.
6. The prison rules were iffy, and didn't feel dramatic enough.
7. The captives rule where everyone involved stops moving was not followed well.
8. The location card removal should be moved away from the original phase. If not, I think the endgame's outcome may depend on the random draw of the players' decks.

Last Thursday: two good games

R.J, Chris, Larry, and Tim came over and the 5 of us played Ra, then RoboRally.

I won Ra, and RoboRally was called due to time. Ra's a regular game for us, while RoboRally was new to most of the table. We dithered around discussing options, but Larry summed it up best: "If I had a copy of RoboRally when I was 13, my brothers and I would have played it all day..."