Monday, July 28, 2008

PBEM madness, also Power Grid (old post)

Recently I finished a game of Black Vienna courtesy of Greg Alecnevius' fine site, and started a second. I also did some play-by-email 18AL, 18GA, and 1861 game files.

Playing by email introduces a new set of complications. Since games extend over weeks or even months, it's common for real life to interfere with posting moves, at least in the short term. Having found Black Vienna in real life to be prone to disruption by player error, the online version is a true find. My regular group of players doesn't have the stamina for 18xx titles, which is absolutely fine and dandy - we get in a lot of other good games when we can.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Collections, ruminations, procrastination(s)

Man, Coldfoot hit 400, while Matthew Marquand is hovering around 100, like me. Here's a big collections statistics post on BGG.

I got out my copy of Glory To Rome (bought used from Ray Mulford). The newer version I played last weekend has changed some buildings' powers and texts to make them clearer and more playable, has changed the material icon to the name of the material, which speeds play, and the central player mats are larger and include better reminder text for each of the roles. Executive summary: definitely buy the newer edition.

What will be the next hundred games of my collection? Agricola is at the printer, so it'll be on the way soon. I no longer want Race For The Galaxy (R.J. owns it, that's good enough). Funkenshlag and Zepter Von Zavandor are on the way, got at good prices, but time will tell if they're playable with my group - I already know R.J. doesn't care for Zepter. I'm still looking for cheap copies of Mogul, Goa, For Sale, and Railroad Dice: Germany. Looking over the top hundred titles on BGG, there's not much left that I think I can buy for a reasonable price AND get played regularly. Beyond that, meh.

I enjoyed getting some cash for culling a few games, RPGs, and NES titles from my collection, which will pay for the acquisitions coming in.

It's very possible that the next hundred games in my collection may be the overflow of printing up copies of 18IA next year (hopefully still on schedule for that). The project continues apace. Preorders have slowed a little, so I'll need to do some marketing while still knocking out development items for it.

Other than that, I have 2 play-by-email train games going, one an 18AL game that should finish soon, and the other an 1861 game that has been slow to get going. I'm starting another two games soon, with the potential of a third. They don't really take much time to play a turn, but they do tie me to my Windows machine for Cyberboard.

I'm thinking about wiping that system and making the jump to Debian for my central computer, but I'm afraid of taking the plunge and then being all kinds of irritated. I have been experiencing odd computer behavior that could be a creaky Windows installation (bought several years ago, never had to reload or restore it), or could be impending hardware failure. Recently, I acquired a "junker" Dell D800 laptop where the screen doesn't work, but the secondary video out and everything else works great. I'm pondering hooking that up as my web server, upgrading from the ancient Dell laptop I use as a toy web server currently, or trying to turn off my main Windows PC and seeing how well I can make the transition to Linux.

Other things I've read recently: This article by J.C. Lawrence on "board game moves as negotiation offers" was interesting (it's easy to construct a parallel with driving in moderate-to-heavy traffic; you can't really talk to other drivers, but need to communicate well OR CRASH!). He's got a game design in the works about Polynesian gift societies, and is also an avid 18xxer, and his posts on BGG are well-constructed.

Lesbian Dad got married. I've been trying to figure out what to write about this, and can't seem to be coherent, so "Congratulations!" will have to do.

Another gushing review of Pandemic. Definitely a good acquisition on my part.

Schuyler's box of inappropriate words. One of my favorite blogger dads. Rob loves his kid and doesn't take any crap from anybody.

FreakAngels: It's on now. This fascinating webcomic by Warren Ellis has kicked up the conflict another notch.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Good news

Everything Warren Ellis touches turns to gold, so this news about him writing G.I. Joe is good.

July board game party

We're recovering from a giant games party yesterday. Obligatory name-dropping - game designer Kevin Nunn brought some protos and his printer's proof of the not-yet-released Duck Duck Go. It looks gorgeous, with great production values. The modular map tiles have a great heft to them, and, of course, the rubber duckies are excellent.

Attendees: Kevin and Debra, Len and Crystal, James, Anye, Lewis, Ashlea and Jeremy, Larry, Tim G. and Dustin from Rice U., Doug C. and his kids Jenny and Kevin, Michael and Maura and Madeline, and I. At one point, we had 4 tables going. This is the most people I've ever had in our townhouse.

Games learned by me: Glory to Rome, Wicked Witches' Way, Incan Gold.

Games played by me: Glory to Rome (x4), Travel Blokus (x3), Perudo/Liars' Dice/Bluff (x2), Wicked Witches Way, St. Petersburg, Incan Gold, and Gloria Mundi.

At other tables, I know Ubongo and Nexus Ops hit the table, with lots of Tichu getting played. There were also at least 3 outbreaks of Pandemic.

Thoughts and commentary: Kevin's red beans and rice were excellent. I asked 2 people for a total of 7 folding chairs, and we used them all. It bothers me because I don't really want to buy up more folding chairs, nor do I want to end up with more regular chairs lying around the house.

I made up for never playing Pandemic yesterday by getting in a lot of Glory to Rome. I came in second in one game of Glory to Rome, and lost the rest horribly. Definitely good stuff... I previously bought a an earlier-edition copy from Ray Mulford but hadn't bothered to learn it yet. GtR is a little more chaotic than Race For The Galaxy and San Juan, but it scratches the same itch. One thing I didn't like about GtR is the Catacombs building, which ends the game immediately when built. This happened twice in our 4 games (Lewis built it both times). I deliberately avoided building it when I got one. Anyway, I'm going to see if I can get Lee and Larry to give it a try.

Len and Crystal also gave me a check for a bunch of stuff they sold on eBay for me. "Never own what you can perfectly emulate," works great as a motto.

Wicked Witches' Way was interesting. It's a speed game where you roll a bunch of dice, then try to subtract out matching symbols and memorize the remaining ones as fast as you can. I sucked at it, big time, coming in next-to-last.

Incan Gold is all right. I might pick up a copy as a filler. Michael took the continue/bail out cards and put them in clear plastic card protectors, which I will definitely emulate if I get a copy. The game itself is a press-your-luck title, but it's got a definite ending, so that's good.

Other than that, it's just... I spent a month or more planning this, with three games on my to-play list. Two of the three got played, but not by me... oops.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Solo Parenting & thoughts on children's effects on parents' happiness

Lee flies to Las Vegas this afternoon, and then I'm on my own with Alex and Cori for the weekend, more or less.

I need to buy food, edit board game rules, finish cutting out Atolla Modulis, do some cleaning, etc., in preparation for a party tomorrow. Augh.

All this reminds me of this Kottke post about studies showing that having kids is correlated with being less happy. Also of this Woot-derived picture series of a wolf spider carrying around a bunch of baby wolf spiders.

If I didn't have kids, I wouldn't have had to arrange for a babysitter, and would have just gone to the regular Houston Gamers meeting, rather than trying to host a competing event at my house. Of course, I'd also have another hundred grand in my pocket, between Lee's lost wages and daycare costs not incurred. On the other hand, coming home from work and being greeted by my lovelies Alex Malix, Cori Cori Allegory, and Long Tall Daria is really something.

Also, parenting causes sleep disruption, which can lead to all kinds of mental effects. For that reason, along with the additional financial and emotional stress of children, it's not surprising that depression is higher in adults with children than the child-free adults.

I'll also agree with the original Kottke-linked article that our society doesn't have an adequate support network built in. Both parents work and kids get sick? Burn all your combined sick days and then hope you have a relative around since the daycare won't take them. Our daycare posted a passive-aggressive note recently, reminding everyone that giving your child a fever reducer and bringing them to daycare exposes all the children to illness. As a coda to that, the girls have been sick fewer days in the summer, since fewer kids are in daycare right now. There'll be another upswing once school starts again. That's only one example of how the support network sucks for parents.

I guess I'm lucky we're only going to pay a few thousand dollars for childcare this year, Daria notwithstanding.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sweet, found another couple.

Single-use sites, oh how I love thee.

Those are my shoes. Delightful.
Instant rimshot. As promised.

At the library: a two-act play

A long-suffering DADDY is at the dinner table with his two KIDDOS (ages 4 and 2.75):

ME: What did you do today?
ALEX: We went to the library.
ME: What did you do at the library?
ALEX: We saw a SNAKE! It was long!
ME: How long was it?
ALEX: This long! (holds hands straight out with all digits up).
ME: The snake was 10?
ALEX: Yeah! (nods vigorously) I petted him ONE time.
CORI: There was a, a, a, turtle.
ME: Was he running away?
CORI: No, he just walked.

Later, while DADDY is walking while holding ALEX's hand with CORI on his shoulders:

ME: So, Cori, did you pet the snake or the turtle?
ME: Did they ask you?
CORI: Yes.
ME: Oh, and you said, "No, thank you?"
CORI (definitively): No, I said no.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Dave Lartigue is right about Pandemic

Good Ol' Dave Lartigue is right on the money with his review of Pandemic over at the Hardcore Ludography blog.

Brief summary: disease break out, and the players gang up to eradicate all 4 diseases before everybody dies. They probably have science! to back them up. Anyway, today I broke out the copy I got in a math trade with Larry and Oscar, after we played 3 games of Ubongo. We played on the introductory level and managed to eradicate two diseases and discover cures for the other two before losing when the player cards ran out.

Pandemic is definitely good stuff, and not like anything else in my collection.


My family is free of crippling disease, free of want, and free of fear. Good times all around.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Party Preparations: making Funkenschlag: Atolla Modulis

Lee's headed out of town in a few weeks and I'm throwing a game party. That means gearing up with more games. I've already gotten out Ubongo and played that to refresh my memory on the rules. I need to get the rules to Pandemic and Blindes Huhn out to pracice those as well.

Friday morning I used up the last of my spray adhesive gluing together the tiles for the Power Grid Modular Atolls free expansion. I didn't glue the market together because I want to use the alternate market graphic there at the Geek.

Other party preparations:
Create an 18IA playset that's less ugly than before. This encompasses re-drawing the stock market in Inkscape, revising the trains (number and appearance), and printing something to mount on cardboard.

Click on StumbleUpon a lot. It works.

Compact websites