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July 31, 2006

A Bit Of Bad News

It is announced here (rightmost column a page down) that Guardians of Order is, indeed, out of business. GoO made quite a splash with numerous licensed products (mostly anime, including Sailor Moon and Tenchi Muyo) using their house Big Eyes, Small Mouth system, which had a major revision nearly done. Apparently (and this is based on conversations no more recent than April and mostly from last year or earlier), the financial woes caused by a booming Canadian dollar (very bad for a Canadian company that mostly sells in the US) hit hard. In case you don't know (and most Americans don't), the Canadian dollar has increased in value by about 25% against the US dollar over the last several years.

But I mostly knew them from various Ambercons. In particular, AmberCon North was started by GoO founder and president Mark MacKinnon, back before founding GoO. (Eventually, that con passed to me, and I ran it or assisted in running it for several years before the same dollar shift, coupled with the difficulties of arranging a con in a city 7 hours away, got to be too much for me.) GoO also had an arrangement (to my knowledge, never finalized) to do a new edition of the Amber Diceless RPG, which has most likely died with the company. However, last time he talked about it to me, at AmberCon 2005, Mark actually said the death of GoO as a profitable company would free up MORE time to work on ADRP... we'll see.

Anyway, I have to call this bad news. I was looking forward to seeing Mark at GenCon next week.

(News heard on the Amber Mailing List and then from Michael)

Posted by ghoul at 06:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2006

Not Quite An Update

There is a reason why there's no report here about my leg or about this week's boardgame club meeting or about GenCon prep or anything else.

That reason is

I may come up for air at some point this weekend, but don't bet on it.

Posted by ghoul at 06:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2006

More Updating

My leg is rapidly progressing toward fine. Still bothersome on stairs or if over-used, so I'm keeping a crutch handy, but everything is going very well.

Also, during the drive home yesterday, around Boston, milage bumped up to 45.1 MPG, at around 50,240 miles. I'm hoping for one more bump up during the drive to or back from GenCon, and perhaps another as well (the drive to Indy was good for two steps last year). Of course, that's still two weeks and a bit out.

I'm hoping for a nice, quiet two weeks and a bit.

Posted by ghoul at 08:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Leg Update

The good news is that it hurts less than yesterday and shows no signs of swelling ot discoloration. That strongly supports the "strained muscle" rather than "broken bone" theory.

The bad news is that it still hurts enough that I'm far better off with a crutch than without.

All in all, a positive report.

Posted by ghoul at 07:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 20, 2006

Boardgame Club II

Before the leg injury, whatever it turns out to be, several games were played, many of them new to me. And pretty much all fun, though I was really uncompetitive for several of them, sometimes because I was learning the ropes, sometimes unlucky, sometimes just plain off my game.

Game-by-game details below the fold.

Beowulf - The Legend was my copy and my teaching E and J (no, I didn't ask about names yet). And while I was the experienced player (by one training game at GenCon), I was definitely the loser here, falling behind early and struggling to avoid total embarrassment. Final score, 44/31/18 with me far in the back. And I would've been MUCH worse without winning 3 of the last 5 auctions, which removed 3 Wounds. With them, I would've been 20 points lower for an ugly -2 score.

Trendy was a surprisingly fun game of fashion trends (not normally a point of interest). Cards are numbered 3 to 7, each representing the fashions of a fictional designer. Players play one a turn and if the total number of, say, 4s or 6s equals the number on the card (4 or 6), that is the trend. Trend cards score their value in points, all other cards are discarded. Complicating matters are Supermodel cards (count double toward establishing a trend, single for points) and Out cards (immediately discard all cards matching their number as totally out of style). Yes, it's a Knizia game; it has that just-themed-enough-to-hide-the-math feel, doesn't it? I had a great first hand (tying for the lead at 30 points) and a good 4th hand (28 points), but was at the back of the 2nd and 3rd so ended up in 4th place overall. We had added M and L and played 4 rounds until someone broke 100 points (M and L were at 95 and 94 at the end of the third). Final score 132/128/101/95/85. I like this game quite a bit, and it's made my "purchase soon" list.

Linkity was the one game that didn't quite work for me. Players are dealt cards with letters (and meaningless but cute drawings of bugs). One player plays a card and says a word that starts with that letter. Others then try to play a card of their own with a word that relates. Bad choices or repeat words are challenged and you must draw cards. When one player runs out, everyone else scores their remaining cards as penalty points. Even though I ended up winning (tied with E at 5 penalty points), I really found the game less than inspiring, especially since there is no adjustment for harder letters, no real encouragement to be creative, and all the normal problems of "speed" games (judging who really played first, etc.). Not a bad game, but not really to my tastes. Final score 5/5/6/7/9, and L swapped out after the first round for E2 when E2 and E3 arrived along with their son C. (This initial thing is getting bothersome. Next time, I definitely remember to ask!)

Bohnanza was the next game, of of my faves from several years back. Unfortunately, I was off my trading mojo early and took too long to get it back. I'd forgotten how unforgiving this game is when you don't trade aggressively, and so I ended up having to cash a couple of fields of very sub-optimal payoffs. Also, this was a crowded game (7 players), which leaves little room for forgiveness. I ended up in the back while M took the win with E2 and E3 sharing second, final score 11/10/10/9/9/8/7.

Attribut came next, a game described by some as "Apples to Apples but Fun". Now, I actually like A2A quite a bit, but I can see the appeal of this game as well. Players have a hand of cards with Adjectives and are each dealt a Sheep card, either White or Black. One player says a Noun or Name (their choice, not a card), then everyone selects a card to either match (if a White sheep) or to distinctly not match (if a Black sheep). Players then QUICKLY try to claim any card they believe is a match. If you pick a match correctly, you and the match's player score a point. If you pick a non-match as a match, you lose a point, as does the player. If you play a match but no one picks it, you lose a point. If you play a non-match and no one picks it, you gain a point. Play goes around the table twice. I liked the game, but for whatever reason I was painfully blank on good Nouns in my turn and also got my white and black reversed one turn. In the end, L won by a significant margin, 18/14/13/11/11/11/4. I was one of those 11s. L then retired for the evening, having earned quite the triumph.

Fearsome Floors was next, a game I own and have wanted to play but hadn't gotten the chance. Players control prisoners in a dungeon trying to escape and the rules control a monster who chases them. The monster moves by a set of programmed rules, so the heart of the game is to position things (yourself, your opponents, and movable terrain bits) so the monster chases down opposing player's characters and not yours. This was my moment of glory for the night, as it is a game that really plays to my strengths (rapid prediction, quick ability to update based on changes, ability to count ahead). I didn't get the first character to the exit, but I got the 2nd, 3rd and, if I had needed to, the 4th as well, as I'd managed to move all three of my characters to within a single move of the exist. But victory comes once you have 2 characters out, and this game Victory was mine! It was to be a short-lived moment of glory. E2, E3 and C now left us (it getting late for the young'n) and M2 arrived. Which meant it was time for E to bring out a trickier game.

Aladdin's Dragons is a game I had tried at TurkeyCon in the past, but we were sufficiently unimpressed with the base game to never try the full game, which adds numerous rule-bendiing magic effects. It turns out those effects add a ton to the game, but were more than I could manage, it seems. The game consists of all players blind-bidding with tokens numbers 1-9 (except no 3s) on several locations on the board. Then each is resolved in order, with the highest bid (and sometimes the lesser ranks as well) getting rewards. Treasures earned in the Dragon Dens are used to purchase Artifacts in the Calif's Castle, with a town in-between the two where game-changing effects (spells, trades of some treasures for others, future turn order) can be won. My fate was to always be 1 or 2 points short of payoffs, and when I did win to be sufficiently short of resources to capitalize. M2 took an early lead, buying 3 artifacts on the 2nd turn, but E was able to pull off a comeback via good use of spells and artifacts (including one spell played by M, which threw M2's plans to defend his lead into total chaos). Final score, 8/7/6/5/4. I was the 4.

On that note, I decided to call it a night, which led to events already recounted.

Posted by ghoul at 05:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not The Club Meeting Update

This is not the club meeting update.

You figured that out from the title, didn't you?

The reason it is not is that, rather than typing up my notes on the games played last night (that will come later... if memory serves, there were either 7 or 8, and most of them I quite enjoyed even if I didn't do too well at some), I think I'd better tell about something that happened just after.

Stepping out from E's house, I missed a step, landed hard on my left foot. I didn't drop any of the games I was carrying, but I definitely twisted something. Still, it all seemed quite minor, I didn't even bother calling anyone inside for help. Instead, I limped to my car (20 yards, maybe), drove home, limped in and up the infamous non-euclidian stairs (after taking a couple aspirin) and dropped off to sleep.

This AM, the leg (about 2-3 inches below the knee, so thankfully not the knee itself) is sore and very unpleasant to put weight on. I visited the company doctor in the clinic at the office and he suspects I may have broken my fibula (the smaller, thinner bone of the lower leg, which doesn't hold weight but does support the ankle and provide for flexibility), but also may have just stretched/strained the surrounding muscle. We can't be sure without an X-Ray, and that would be over-kill as long as it could just be a strain. At his advice, I'm taking ibuprofen, using a cold compress, and have acquired some crutches. If, in 48 hours (or more if I wait until Monday, which is likely), things aren't improving, I'll be either visiting an ER or finding an orthopedic specialist to visit.


Posted by ghoul at 12:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Spiel Des Jahres 2006

Okay, this site is in German, but I think the point is fairly clear. Thurn and Taxis is the winner!

I haven't played most of the nominees (most aren't available in English just yet), but one play of the winner told me it is a deserving choice.

Posted by ghoul at 06:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2006

RPG Play Preferences

Based on the method presented here and on some GM questions from a not quite completed conversation a week and a bit ago, let me present a list...

Posted by ghoul at 03:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 15, 2006

Return To Plan

And back on plan again, just a little behind. Apple called around 3:30 and the repairs are done (and covered by warranty). Rebuilding the drive's contents is now up to me, just not quite getting as early a start as I'd hoped for.

Also, just as a note, as I passed from Hooksett to Bow, my odometer rolled past 50,000 miles (as much as digital odometers roll at all). I'll be putting a good bit more on in 3 1/2 weeks for GenCon, but there's a milestone to proceed that.

Posted by ghoul at 05:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Or Not

Let's see now...

All those early steps get turned off because the Apple Store now says it takes 1-2 days to replace a hard drive rather than the 30-45 minutes they'd told me before (and which I know to be true, having done it myself in the past). Which meant I was leaving the Apple Store more than an hour before the game store opens and don't have the tower here to do any of the other steps with. Annoying. And if it does become available later today or tomorrow, I probably won't want to go get it because I-93 is going to become a parking lot because of the NASCAR race just outside of Concord tomorrow.

Well, I can still sort the board games. And I have plenty of TV time. I was just kinda hoping to actually get things done.

Posted by ghoul at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Plan For The Weekend

Nominally, I'm actually home this weekend (after spending the last several traveling and/or gaming). But that just means lots of errands to catch up on. And, since it's going to be over 90 outside and humid, I'm doing my best to stick to indoor plans.

So not exactly a quiet weekend. But I hope it'll be productive!

Posted by ghoul at 08:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

Boardgame Club

Thanks to noticing a message on the BoardGameGeek discussion boards, I made contact with a local gaming club, 6AM Gamers. Last night was my first chance to meet them (what with all the travel and other distractions recently). Wednesday night is their regular local meeting, either right here in Concord or a reasonably short (~35 minute) drive away in Laconia. This week was a Laconia week, and I offered to drive the other Concord resident, E. (I didn't ask other players if they minded names being used on my blog, and while I don't expect anyone has a problem with it, out of courtesy they are initials only. I'll ask next time.)

Fun was had, and I think I may be playing (rather than just reading and fiddling with) several more board games in the future!

Details of the gaming are below the fold for those interested...

When we arrived, it was just the host, D, and the two of us, and we decided on Louis XIV for the first game. This sounded great to me, as I love the look of the game but was sufficiently intimidated by the rules that I didn't try to teach them based on just a reading last TurkeyCon. Now I have a better idea how the game flows, and it's significantly simpler than it looks (though still a bit fiddly here and there). But it was certainly a learning game for me, and I was thoroughly trounced, scoring barely more than half what the winner scored, the game ending at 59 - 44 - 36). But I'm pretty sure I can identify three or four mistakes I made (such as not having a strategy at all, just playing via short-term tactics), so another game should show improvement.

Two more players, J and R, arrived while we were settling the affairs of the French royal court, so it was a 5 player game of Rheinlander next. Rheinlander was, you may recall, on my list of "really want to play this soon" games, and I'm quite glad we put it on the table. It was a bit more quickly aggressive than I'd expected from the rules (though that may be a function of having 5 players; with 3, there would be more development time before confrontation begins, something E confirmed from his prior experience with the game), but it was a good, fun game. I had a vicious looking combo of cards in my initial hand, but the way the game developed I never got a chance to use them. Instead, I stuck to steady development, avoided most conflict, and was just ahead of the pack on points when, as a game-ending move, Ray swallowed one of my small duchies. Yes, I was paid 2 points in compensation, but that duchy would have been worth 6 points at game's end... Even with that late -4 point turn of events, I managed a tie for the win (32 - 32 - 28 - 23 - 22). My suspicions about this game are mostly confirmed... I know I like it, and possibly a lot. And, having now seen both the original European and the recent American release... Well, I'm not sure which I prefer on that count. Both have their advantages.

Next, Ra was brought out. I hadn't played Ra since a couple of games at a TurkeyCon at least 4 years ago (because I know it was at the old house, it has to be at least 4 years ago), despite it being on my Favorite Games list, so I needed a slight rules refresher and worried that I'd made a big fumble early on (the move certainly wasn't what people at the table expected). But, in the end, I squeaked out a 1 point victory (in a very close 32 - 31 - 31 - 30 -22 game), so it mustn't've been that bad. If I had to ID my strategy, it was to establish early and maintain throughout a Pharaoh lead (or at least a tie for the lead), snatch one Civilization tile each Epoch to avoid the penalty for having none, snatch other cheap points when available, and otherwise just look small and insignificant. But, I have to admit, it was more luck inhibiting other player's final round scoring options than real skill on my part.

Next, the hot new game Thurn and Taxis was offered, though since it was only 4 players, one of us had to sit out. Fortunately, J had come to the meeting with a set of new purchases and offered to read them over while we learned T&T. All I knew about it was that several comments say it's too similar to Ticket to Ride, but I find the relationship superficial, at most; both games allow you to draw from either an exposed set of cards or the draw pile to build your hand and both feature building routes from city to city, but otherwise they are completely different. Thematically, you're developing postal routes in 17th century Germany; practically, you're trying to meld out longer and longer runs (with adjacency established via a map rather than by numbers) of cards (cities) with a managed balance among concentration and distribution of color (region). Bonuses are paid for performing several tasks (establishing a base in every city of a region, establishing one base in each sub-region, melding a route of longer lengths), with said bonuses decreasing in value for each player who achieves the goal. The base structure of the game is draw 1 card (from face up cards or from deck), play 1 card onto either end of your route (it must be linked by a direct road connection on the map), then optionally score the route (if it is at least 3 cards long). But there are 4 "special actions" and you can (and usually should) play one each turn, those being to discard and replace all 6 face-up cards, draw 2 instead of 1, play 2 instead of 1, or score your route as if it is 2 cities longer than it actually is. I devised a strategy fairly early on and stuck to it, that being to try to bag some quick points and then push as fast as I could toward ending the game (using the "score route longer than it really is" action to progress toward the endgame trigger, scoring one route each of at least length 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 in sequence). This was an option I had because I was the last player... The rules insist that all players get the same number of turns, so if anyone other than the last player triggers the end of the game, the remaining player(s) get one last turn. As last player, I alone could end the game immediately, so I decided to use that "power", such as it is, to my advantage. No, not the most subtle or sophisticated of strategies, but it almost worked. I did end the game with two of the three other players right on the verge of big scoring plays, but I hadn't socked away quite enough and so came 3 points short, but a reasonably solid second place. Final score, 18 - 15 - 11 - 0, but don't be deceived... that 0 was about to become something much higher on the very next play, probably 12 or more, as he had a major scoring route on the table needing just one more card to complete it, and I'm fairly sure he already had in his hand. This game now hits my "pick up a copy" list (at a fairly high spot), as it is compact, is reasonably quick to teach and to play, offers numerous tactical options, and is fun. A powerful combo!

It now being 11 PM, E and I called it a night and headed back to Concord. I had brought Beowulf and Bolide as potential games to play (and had stuffed Street Illegal, No Thanks, and Pickomino into the oversized Bolide box, just because there's room), but Bolide is a longer game than fit the evening and while E wanted to play Beowulf, he wants to learn it with only 3 players not 5, so it will wait for a future meeting.

Which I'm sure I'll be attending.

Posted by ghoul at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2006

Board Games At Stillpoint

Four more games played today, before I had to pack up and head home.

Carcasonne is a favorite of mine. We didn't use any expansions (it was a new game to 2 of the players, and I hadn't packed any along anyway), and the final sore was VERY close (only 12 points from 4th place to 1st). The winner, in fact, was near the back of the pack for most of the game, but won out on a huge Farmer score.

Next I taught Ticket to Ride, and I got a little lucky in my initial ticket draw (NYC to LA plus Philly to Denver, which let me use every link of the second ticket to also count toward the first). This one went well for me, and I even managed to end up with all 45 of my trains in a continuous route (thanks to a very fortuitous final placement).

I pulled out Pickomino mostly as a joke (based on a "surprise" found in dinner the night before). The rather silly "chickens fighting over BBQed worms" theme is pretty thin, as this is really just a "roll dice and capture prizes" game, much like Easy Come, Easy Go in practice. We initially got a couple things a little wrong (the rules are, if anything, a bit over-written and sometimes spend longer on trivia than on important issues, in my opinion), but were able to recoup reasonably well. And a second dominant win for me, which rarely happens when I teach a game.

With only 15 minutes to go before I was wanting to leave, we shuffled up the No Thanks deck and played two quick games (each takes around 10 minutes). I almost won the second (lost by only 3 points), and this with us playing by the right rules (we'd previously miss-read who has the first chance to take a newly-turned card).

A fun morning to early afternoon, then a nicely uneventful drive home. If only DiskWarrior had actually been able to recover any useful bits at all on my G5's hard drive, it'd be a perfect day. As it was, still pretty good.

Posted by ghoul at 09:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2006

Dogs And Other Games

My first go at GMing Dogs in the Vineyard was a reasonably successful one.

Being me, I'd made some character sheets of my own, complete with rules references and a one-page character creation summary, all slightly modified (for clarity) from those provided with the first edition rules. And with larger type, as I've found sheets get a bit crowded in play. These helped me through explaining the rules to a slightly large group... I started with three players, but two more arrived just as I finished the first walk-through of the dice scheme. I was a little nervous with that many players in a Dogs game, but I pressed on an was able to steer everyone toward unique character focuses, which let me give everyone a chance or two to shine in the spotlight.

In the 4:30 playtime (30 minutes over the scheduled slot, but no one was complaining), we got well through character generation and the town, with only minimal compression toward the end. Lots of neat scenes, some nice surprise as players realized how capable they are in this system (both their characters and them directly), and some nice worry when I pulled out all the stops on a crazed demon-ridden bad-guy at the end. Especially fun was one character who was directly focused on the demon-smiting and another a doubting rationalist, unwilling to accept that demons were more than symbolism. Watching the two differ in how they interpreted scene after scene was great fun!

I need to do more of this!

Afterwards, we played some Tsuro and Winner's Circle until we decided it was time to call it a night.

Board gaming starts again at 9 AM tomorrow and goes until I have to leave to get home at a decent hour.

Posted by ghoul at 11:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2006

More Gaming Plans

Just back from The Black Road, but I'm not done with special gaming plans just yet.

This coming weekend features an in-store gaming event at Stillpoint Comics, with full details here.

I'll be running Dogs in the Vineyard, which will be my first time running that system. I've played at GenCon and at The Black Road. I'm really looking forward to it!

And it's just a little over a month to GenCon!

And then Sunday I'm packing along a big crate of board and card games, all chosen to be quickly taught and played. And probably including a couple from this list as well as some proven successes from the last Stillpoint event.

Posted by ghoul at 08:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2006


Some AmberCon games get a quotes list.

Apparently, one of mine gets a tribute album.

Which is very, very cool. And records only a fraction of the silliness that game achieved. Great, great fun! Thanks go mostly to players who found the funny in nearly everything tossed their way, even the bits that weren't really very funny originally!

Posted by ghoul at 07:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Home... But Problems

I did get home Thursday just fine, but after a bit of unpacking and re-packing, I turned to my G5 tower to find an unexpected screen full of errors.

And rebooting did nothing.

So, it was off to the Apple Store on the drive to The Black Road (which made me later than I wanted to be, as the Apple Store didn't open until 10). And no joy there; they want to replace the main hard drive, but offered to let me time to try to rescue data on my own first. And somehow failed to recognize that I have AppleCare coverage when they quoted me an outrageously high price (more than twice what I paid for my additional drive added a few months back).

So, now that TBR is over, I'm going to be going to pick up a copy of DiskWarrior (recommended by about everyone I mentioned the problem to). But probably not from the Apple Store.

Posted by ghoul at 06:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack