Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yucata, moving ahead

At the end of June, this cryptic message was posted for everyone on
The Wrath of the Gods cannot be stopped. The Omen, the gods’ warning sign, was to no avail. Rather than guide us, our priests protested that they were being condemned unjustly. But now we know that when they asked us to make sacrifices to the gods, our food offerings went into the bellies of the priests instead. Our high priests are supposed to be the best of the best, but reality has shown them to be sorely lacking. 
Until today, at the completion of a game, the reputation (ranks) of the players, rather than their true skill levels, were compared to determine the points gained or lost for winning or losing the game. As a result, some of the priests shied away from real challenges, hoping to hide their lack of skills. They were gaming the system and using tricks and monotonous work to keep and gain undeserved ranks, seeking reputation for reputation’s sake, rather than perfecting their playing skills.
This all will change as of today. The existing temples, rules, ranks, cities - the entirety of civilization - will cease to exist. The new rules for promotion and demotion will start as a mystery to everyone, ready to be explored and discovered. The goal is to build a new civilization.
I'm loving the new changes.  It seems to have revitalized the meta-game, and encourages more players to play both the games they know well, and to learn new games.

Good stuff..

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Boardgamely shows promise

As my board game collection expanded, I began trading on BoardGameGeek.  Trading games is great, except when it's not:
1. People care a lot about game condition, perhaps too much. It's common on BGG for people to post pictures of the slightest flaws.
2. You need an exact match of your stuff vs. their stuff.  Getting an exact value can be frustrating and subjective.
3. Even if your mutual trade lists overlap, they may not feel like trading... or may not feel like trading with you!  Earlier this week, I deeply regretted sending a game to Canada, to the tune of $32 in postage.
4. Until you make a trade, your game sits on the shelf, taking up space. Unless you trade 2-for-1, you'll never get to reduce your collection or upgrade much at a time.

Boardgamely is a newer board game site that adds much-needed liquidity to the trading scene.  In essence, you're converting your games to a token economy in "silvers", then trading silvers (and $3) for new games.  It's a really neat idea, and one I hope gains traction.  While it won't solve the cost of shipping to Canada (which for now, isn't available for the US-only site), Boardgamely does approximately solve all four problems.  There are only three condition categories, for which you receive tiered levels of silver trade tokens. If a game's in excellent condition, you might get 10 silvers, while a slightly-used copy earns you 8, and a very-used copy 6. The game must be in playable condition. Smaller, cheaper games are worth fewer tokens, and there's also an "Elite" class of games that tries to account for the most desirable games, to keep people from raiding all the copies of the New Hotness.

As of this writing, I've earned a few silvers by listing several games, and earned a few silvers by having one of the games I listed be requested. I shipped it out to the recipient, and I now have 20 silvers, enough for most likely 2 good games, maybe 3 or even 4 if I choose smaller games that are well-used.  The list of games is now fairly decent, and I look forward to seeing even more titles make an appearance briefly, before being snapped up. Twitter followers rejoice, as new Boardgamely acquisitions are announced there as well. I have a second round of games to post, and see if they get requested soon.

The UI is still in active development, and Adam Thorsen, the maintainer, has promised a new appearance and more sorting soon.  Adam is responsive to questions, and overall, I have a good feeling about Boardgamely.  While not all the games I'm looking to send out are yet available with full listings, I'm looking forward to sending and receiving more games from Boardgamely.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Damn you, Expedit shelves! July challenges!

"Reading debt" is the stack of books (or directory of e-books) you're intending to read "someday."

I recently finished Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, which was excellent. Deliberate slowing of my pace helped me savor the tone of one of the most famous noir novels of all time. As I read, I could also feel myself becoming anxious: what do I read next? Were it not for the stacks of unread books I've thrifted or bought at Half-Price Books, I'd read Poke The Box or Ready Player One. Sadly, I "must" read some William Gibson novels instead.

Recently, we acquired some more of IKEA's fine Expedit shelves, and my wife cautioned me not to buy any more games without reducing my collection. For her, at least, equilibrium has been reached. Since then, 6 games have entered the house, mostly Kickstarter purchases that had been in the pipeline for several months.

#1 goal for July: reduce my total game collection inventory by 20 games, or roughly 10%.  As many of them are thrift-store finds, that should be relatively painless. I'm taking inspiration from my Twitter friend (and fellow Cougar) "OfficeBoundTraveler" @3wks, whose posts on the Discardia movement have been an eye-opener into a source of the discontent in my life: I have too many unplayed games, especially games I'll never play. Regardless of what I've been playing lately, I feel the weight of the unplayed games.

To assist in the effort, I'm enlisting a friend to do some of the off-loading. That'll keep me from weaseling out halfway through, too!

#2 goal for July: play 5 unplayed games from my collection. I have done similar challenges in prior years, and it got games out of shrink and on the table. Five is a nice goal without requiring extreme effort.  Good candidates: Rolling Freight, 1955: The War Of Espionage, 1960, Nile Deluxor, For The Win!, and Onirim. They're all games with a "hook" I'm interested in, from a board game design perspective, and all ones that I acquired intentionally (rather than being fill-the-cart impulse buys). Onirim is a solo game, so that's likely to be first.

#3 goal for July: write 5 gaming blog posts in July. I like writing them, I like the feedback I get, and it's good for my craft. 'Nuff said.

#4 goal for July: play Magic, or get rid of some cards. I have so many decks assembled and unplayed, it's ridiculous.  At my current rate of getting Magic to the table, I no longer need any Magic cards for at least the next 8 years... minimum.

As part of a recent Math Trade, I looked up the values for some Magic cards, and was surprised a bit. Cards I priced a year ago had almost uniformly dropped, some precipitously. There are a few "evergreen" cards, but for most of them, well, they aren't getting any more collectible.

July challenge for you: What nagging dread are you experiencing?  What is something you have needed to do for a while?