Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Making Atolla Modulis

First, you need the files from : FUNKENSCHLAG Atolla Modulis. The downloads section is off the menu on the left - Telechargements.

Material list

  • Illustrator Board - about $13US for a package of 3 20"x30" sheets. As long as you don't waste any, this is exactly the amount you need.
  • Spray Glue - I use Elmers Spray glue because its easy to get at Walmart in their craft section and it works well. **NOTE** I've been told that Elmers can cause warping in the boards when you are done. To avoid this, the recommended spray glue of choice is 3M Super 77 or 3M Spray Mount.
  • Steel straight edge - some general cuts need to be done with one of these, as large pieces will not fit on the roller cutter surface.
  • Utility knife - get some really good blades - you want them very sharp so you don't have to go back over a cut.
  • Roller paper cutter. They have free cutters, but you want one that is on a rail to ensure perfectly straight cuts.
  • Spray paint: Blue, Metallic Blue, Hammered copper, Hammered black.
  • Krylon Crystal Coat - semi-gloss.
  • Cardstock - 27 sheets (one sheet gets printed on twice), none of the other tiles will fit on a single 8x11 sheet. You could use photo paper, but that's a bit pricey in my mind and I don't think you gain anything. **NOTE** I'm going to do a second set using Bazzill cardstock, which has a textured finish to mimic linen finish boards.
  • Color Printer.

    Putting It Together

    All the printouts
    First thing you have to do is print all the tiles out on the cardstock. You have to print two of the cost tile sets, but they will both fit on one sheet, just turn it around after the first print. I used a color laser printer to print these. Because these will get handled a bit in the making, if you print on an inkjet printer, you will want to lightly spray each sheet with a clear coat spray (I prefer Krylon semi-gloss) before the next step so that you don't have to worry about smudging the print (during the making or later during play).
    Here are the laser prints vs the inkjet (finished tiles). The colors are close either way, but the inkjet colors are not as deep or dark and when compared side by side, look slightly grayer (though you wouldn't say that if you weren't holding them side by side). I've already painted two sheets of illustrator board blue using blue and blue metallic paint. I tried to paint a fairly random coverage across the board so that it wouldn't saturate the board and so that when cutout the back of the tiles have a nice look to them. I finished them with a light spray of clear coat because otherwise the metallic spray tends to leave sparkles everywhere.

    So now I trim the sheets - I leave a small border on each to make it easier on myself later. Rather than cutting them perfectly now and trying to get the sheet to sit on a tile just right, I cut them with the border and don't care because I will trim the edges off after the glue has dried.
    Next, I try and dry fit the pieces on the boards. I can get 8 full tiles per illustrator board and if I do this right, I can get the cost tiles onto the scrap easily. The package of illustrator board comes with three sheets, so as long as I don't screw anything up, I shouldn't need any more. This is why I only painted two sheets - I was unsure if I would need more or how much I need to paint blue. Now I can go cut the third sheet in half, and then paint half blue and half copper. once I trim the scrap off, I will paint the back black or silver for the cost tiles. The next step is the glue - I lay down some newspaper and spray a board (4-tiles worth) with glue and immediately lay out the four tiles on top. I use a wallpaper roller to press the tiles (especially the edges) flat and then set the sheets aside to dry. I do not care if the boards start to warp - I can bend them after they are cut. The first thing I cut was the cost tiles. I cut off a strip at a time and then lay them back out on the cutter as one piece so that I can cut out a whole set of them at once. Here's a shot of the whole set of tiles ready to get cut. I use the utility knife to cut the sets of four in half (otherwise I can't fit them on the roller cutter). I leave all the straight cuts to the roller cutter, so the utility knife is just used primarily to cut sections. After that, its just a matter of cutting all the edges off. For any of the boards that are warped slightly, a gentle bend will get them flat again. Also, after they lay on each other a while, they will flatten a lot on their own. And here's a shot of the finished set.
  • Saturday, July 21, 2007


    A co-worker pointed me to a blog on the web and we laughed as she diagnosed me with NADDs. So what? What does this have to do with games? It has everything to do with games, and its a telling indicator of the kinds of games I really like - that is to say, the games I enjoy the most are the ones where the is lots of things for me to do and little real downtime for me.

    Downtime is anytime during a game when there is nothing for me to do. Some games have spaces of time where you don't do anything, but you need to watch because you may need to react, or decide what to do. To me, this isn't really downtime. Downtime is when you setup a game of Can't Stop on the side to play when its not your turn. Downtime means you are more interested in Can't Stop than the game you are "playing".

    Age of Empires III has hit my table a couple times recently and I really like it. Why? because there isn't much downtime. Everyone takes and action in turn and then you repeat. Each action takes very little time and the time in between is just long enough to plot out your next action. Resolutions of your choices typically doesn't take too long, though can slow down a bit towards the end. In a similar fashion, Age of Steam is fun to me - lots to do and think about, but its broken down into smaller bite-sized chunks. I can rattle off the other games that are like this - look at some of my favorites: Power Grid, A Game of Thrones, and Antike.

    We were talking about some other games last night and I there are a number of games that I think are interesting, but are boring as hell when its not your turn - Vinci, History of the World, even to some extent Tikal. Its too bad that I have NADDs, because these games are pretty fun, I just can't bring myself to play them that often.

    In a lot of ways, these games would be perfect online, because I wouldn't have to sit at a board waiting for my turn, I'd just get an email (which I always have open in the second tab of my browser) letting me know when its my turn to play. Until then, I'll just keep playing games and playing with my cell phone in between turns. Remember, I'm not NOT paying attention to the game, I just can't focus when its not my turn.

    July 20, 2007 - Game Night

    Friday 7-20-2007 - Justin Easley's House
    This Friday night was originally "scheduled" at the Game Shoppe, but Justin's wife made plans to attend one of the Harry Potter all night events at Borders and Justin had their son Finn to watch, so he invited us over to his place. In all there ended up being five of us - Justin Easley (JE), Justin Kosek (JK), Mike Garrett, Greg Fuller and myself.

    The two Justins and I had wanted to give Age of Empires another shot, so I quickly went over the rules and flow of the game. Greg seemed a bit confused/overwhelmed, but we assured him that after the first turn, he'd see that the game wasn't terribly hard to pick up. JK set out from the start to become the merchant master and went for the trade ships. Greg started shipping three guys to the new world right of the bat while also grabbing the capitol building which gave him $5 a turn. Mike, JE and I seemed to just sort of feel our way along for the first couple rounds before settling down. Mike ended up with a fairly strong colonization and discovery push. JE and I also started sending a number of colonists over and in the end, we were also the only two that sent over soldiers and fought. For myself, I ended up grabbing a building to give me an extra colonist each turn and was trying a mixed discovery, colonist type strategy. This seemed to be paying off as I was tied for the lead through the first two ages. Unfortunately for me, I think JE mis-judged who the threat was and in the last turn of the game, he went to war with me, killing a number of my guys and costing me a large number of points. Mike grabbed a third age building that gave him bonus points for each region he had a colonist in, which easily pushed him to the win.

    After playing this with five players, I have to say that I really like this game, and that its much better with five players than three. After about the third turn, the colonist dock was filled every turn and competition for the slots was quite contested. I also like that you have a number of option in trying to win, score points, get money, etc. I had no real trade goods for most of the game, but I managed to keep a steady income shipping merchants to the colonies. If I have any complaint, its that the last round of buildings can really swing the game. If you have a large fleet of ships, the navy is a must at the end of the game, however, if it doesn't come out, you are at a severe disadvantage. This minor luck swing is the only flaw that I have with the game thus far - the rest of the luck can be mitigated, even if it means a change in strategy part way through the game. This one is one of the better games I've played in a long time.

    After that, I pulled out QJet, which is a space-themed, Japanese re-release of the original Ave Caesar. I had wanted to get a copy of the original, as the new version screwed with the tracks. Though a different theme, this is basically the same as the first release play-wise. I explained the rules and we started it up, and the others quickly saw why this game is a gem - screwing with everyone else. Though we only played one race, it was a good time, with only three of us finishing. JE just beat me out for the win, as he had two 6's to finish with.

    We had a little time left, so I pulled out Ra, which I knew the Justins had both wanted to try. This Knizia games is by far the easiest of his auctions to get a handle on for new players. It what (for me) was a strange turn of events, the board filled with Ra tiles in the first round before I could win a second auction. missing two sets of tiles put me in a hole from which I could never recover. Mike managed to jump all over monuments and Pharaohs and pretty easily won this one.

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    Sad really

    Family Gaming
    Its sad, but this comic is probably all too true. I hope not. I love video games, and I think they scratch a certain itch for me. Boardgames scratch a different one. I hope that as I raise my children, they aren't sucked into the digital age such that they think the only fun thing to do is play video games. Its really too bad that children in this country only think playing games means video games. That a "game store" means EB, Game Stop, or whatever place buys and trades games that come on CDs and DVDs. It doesn't help that the mainstream toy industry here doesn't even bother trying to put out new games. The shelves now days have about 5 games in different themes. Looking at the game shelves at Target and you'll see: 5 different Risk games - Transformers, normal Risk, Bookshelf Risk, LOTR Risk, Starwars Risk; Operation - Shrek, Spiderman, classic. Candyland - classic and Dora the Explorer. Sorry, some laser game like Khet, maybe Hi Ho Cherry-o, Trouble, Battleship, yahtzee, some trivia game and possibly a 6-in-1 set with checkers, chess, backgammon, etc. When I was growing up, I remember loads of Parker Brothers, MB, Hasbro, etc games lining the shelves. I don't think they were all that great - like everything else in the US, its thrown out the door with a bit of marketing. Yes, there used to be tv ads for boardgames. I remember seeing adds for Bermuda Triangle and wanting that game very badly.

    I have no real expectation that boardgames will become mass market like that again. The sad reality is that video games make a lot of money. A lot. Parents these days want their kids to get up and do something instead of sitting in front of the TV, not find a replacement for their kids sitting around. Unfortunately I think this stems from the lack of family commitment. If parents truly wanted to bring their family together, they'd find time for a family activity where the family actually interacted together. Parents just need to stop thinking about "their" time and thinking in terms of family time.

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    July 15, 2007 - Samurai

    Tammy Smolka started a game of Samurai on MaBiWeb, which Matthew Frederick and I joined. Interestingly enough, Tammy and Matthew took random starting hands, so I joined them (didn't want to hear any excuses). Luckily for me, I had a good run of tiles pretty much the whole game and nailed down a lot of pieces. Interestingly, I never used my 3-Samurai. I don't think I've played it the last couple of 3-player games. Its like I don't want to waste it...
    Final scores (majorities - others - total)
    Charles: 1 - 6 - 10
    Matthew: 1 - 4 - 9
    Tammy: 0 - 4 - 4
    Winner: Charles

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    July 15, 2007 - Twilight Struggle

    Jason Maxwell and I started a game of Twilight Struggle on Vassal, so I thought I'd log it


    WTF - that was the most boring post I ever read. I'm playing the game and that post made we want to fall asleep. If I read that, I wouldn't ever want to play Twilight Struggle. I'm sorry for anyone that read that...

    July 14, 2007 - Memoir 44 Charles vs Jason

    Had a little time this afternoon and fired up Memoir 44 over vassal to get beat on. The first scenario was exactly that - a beating I lost 5-0 on a damn beach assault. We started with DIEPPE - YELLOW BEACH and it was never good. Bad rolls on my side and good for Jason combined with dumb beach assault = BAD. Makes the war 126-111
    Next up was TUNISIA. This looked better, until I read that my tanks can only move 2. The dice never came around either and Jason thrashed me 6-2 bringing the sad total to 132-113. I may never catch up.

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Atolla Trade List

    I've had a number of inquires into Atolla Modulis making. I've finally decided on a rough value for my time in producing a copy and put together a list of games I'm willing to accept in return for a copy of Atolla. Be warned, I will consider offers in the order that people have contacted me and reserve the right to reject an offer if I feel like stopping my production. Once I had committed to a trade, I will finish that copy, but have no obligation to continue accepting offers.

    The games do not have to be in shrink, but do need to match editions and should be in very good condition (some box wear in some cases might ok if the contents are like new). Obviously some of the grail games are not expected to be new. For the letter items list, I would of course consider adding sweeteners on my end to balance things out.

    These are in no particular order of preference:

    A) Chinatown
    B) Antiquity (splotter)
    C) Indonesia
    D) Princes of the Renaissance

    All the sets below here can be purchased new online for roughly $50-55 (with the exception of We the People, which is close, but typically used on ebay.

    #1 = Age of Steam: Northeastern USA & South Africa, China & South America (SteamBrothers) (Boards and Bits exclusive)
    #2 = Age of Steam: India, Mexico, Spain & Austria (SteamBrothers) (Boards and Bits exclusive)
    #3 = We The People
    #4 = C&C:A - Exp1 + Epic BattleLore exp.
    #5 = Winds of Plunder + Zooloretto
    #6 = Torres (RioGrande ed, not Rav.) + Blue Moon City
    #7 - Imperial + Arkham Horror: King in Yellow
    #8 - Himalaya + Yinsh
    #9 - Pillars of the Earth + BL:Call to Arms + BL: Epic BL
    #10 - Descent Well of Darkness + Arkham Horror: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh + Mystery Rummy Card Game - Case No.3
    #11 - Shogun (Rio Grande) + Battleline

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Math Trade Results

    Well, the results are in and I did ok. As expected, LOTR traded. In exchange, I'll be getting: War! Age of Imperialism (NIS - love the Eagle games, even if they blow), Age of Mythology and the Target Risk! bookshelf classic edition (yea for wooden bits) - you know, this one: Some folks like AoM, some don't - I've never played, but the box is loaded with bits! I'll have to take a look to figure out if this one has any play value or if it just is going to take up space on the shelf (like War! is going to). I'm happy with the Risk! game too, as it gives me an excuse to get the other bookshelf games now. I don't mind having Risk, Stratego, Sorry, etc in these editions, as my children will play them as they get older.

    I had one other game trade - Downtown (not Vegas Showdown - oh well). For Downtown, I'll be getting Warcraft: The Boardgame + Expansion. Downtown was interesting, but ultimately not quite fun enough in replays.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    July 11, 2007 - Age of Empires III

    Tonight, Justin Easley and Justin Kosek came over and I was able to finally get Age of Empires III to the table. This new game has been getting really good press as well as word of mouth. A number of the AZ Boardgamers were impressed with their single play (Jason M called this a likely top 10) as was I. I'm saddened that I'm not experiencing this with them, as their gamesmanship and reflections after the game were always welcome, and I imagine this will hit the table a lot in AZ.

    At any rate, after going over the rules with Justin and Justin, we jumped in. I was randomly chosen first (which as HUSKER red, was befitting) and decided to grab the first capital building which would pay me $5 a turn. JK ended up heading to the new world right away as well as starting some discoveries. JE set himself up for the next round with a number of specialists and a capital building that gave him and extra colonist each turn. The first turn also saw me try for a discovery first. I sent three guys. Three guys that promptly ran into four natives. Too bad for me and good for JK, who was able to then send 4 guys and make out like a bandit. After the first age, we had already settled into a few strategies - I was making money hand over fist with capitals and more capital buildings and a few trade goods. JK had a commanding lead in colonization with JE slightly behind. JE had a lead in goods. The first scoring round didn't look promising for me as I barely scored points and the Justins pulled away. The mid game saw me grab a new capital building right away, which brought me more cash, which I turned into buildings for specialists. JK had grabbed a capital giving him soldiers in the discoveries and had also managed to grab all the sugar - which turned out to be huge, when early in the second age the Rum Factory came out - he was now pulling down $15 a turn from just that ($21 if you count the set too). I had hoped that cash was going to let me make up ground in the mid game with free access to buildings, but started to worry that it might not work that way. In response, I started sending a few colonists to the new countries to try and scrape out a few second place points. Though I had a load of cash each turn, the second age scoring saw me fall very far behind. Luckily the third age was mine. The last age saw the first building to come out be worth $30 a turn - I also happened to be first player this round! I grabbed it and JK and JE also grabbed another building to help their causes. When we replenished, the three new buildings we all meant for me! Navies (vps per ship), VPs for capital buildings, and Wealth - 1 vp for every $5. JE grabbed the navies to score his 3 ships and keep me from scoring my 4. I got the other two and proceeded to make my charge. My income on the last turn was $62, which shot me out into the lead. In addition, my 9 buildings scored me another 25 pts (18+7) and my total wealth scored me another 13. Add another 20 or so in discoveries (which was on par for the other guys) and I was out in front about 20 points or so when it was all said and done. The building we didn't see the last turn was the one worth VPs for each two colonists in the new world - had JK gotten that and one of the other buildings not been there for me, it might have been VERY close. So, in the end a slight bit of help from lady luck steered me to the win, but overall a tight game.

    I can see already how this game tightens up with more players and look forward to trying this out with 5. Though it supports 6, I don't think I'll be ordering another set of pieces. I just don't see where it would be much fun when things are that tight. We'll have to see how 5 players is first.

    **Update July 12, 2007
    Bah! Of course, it being the first playing - we mis-played a rule. The last round scoring doesn't include income from buildings - which probably moves me straight to last. I'm not sure how that shakes out for the other guys as Justin K was given points for the Rum Factory.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Bah - Math Trade

    The want lists were posted. Looks like it may be slim.
    The two games I listed for Atolla Modulis turned in no want list. That's ok because I got an offer for a brand new copy of C&C:Ancients. I was starting to work on a new copy, so I've offered to give the guy his trade now or new.

    Of the rest - Chizo ended up on one want list. That game didn't end up on anyone's list. Vegas Showdown might trade, but I'm going to predict not. Downtown had mild interest, but I'm going to doubt this goes either. Which leaves Lord of the Rings. This might just trade. Might, but overall, I'd be willing to guess I trade nothing out of this. Ah well...

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    That Giant Sucking Sound at the End of the Table

    For those that don't understand the title, I'd like you to meet Jerry. Jerry is a fellow that I used to game with every so often. Nothing wrong with the guy - very nice and loved to play games. But Jerry had a problem. He was slow. I don't mean slow like mentally challenged (that would be a matter of opinion I'm sure ;) ). No I mean that when he played games, he slowed them down.

    Analysis Paralysis is a term often given to games that give players so many options that they just freeze up trying to decide what action to take, because they are not sure that they aren't hosing themselves. With most of the gamers I've played with, we took the information and after a reasonable amount of time, would make the best play we could (and if you were Matthew, you would decide it was the wrong one the second the next guy started his turn - if you were Noah, you declared that you had just lost the game). Some guys (SCUBA STEVE) took longer than others. I personally was not the fastest player. Then there was Jerry.

    The best description of Jerry was that he couldn't eliminate the null choices. In other words, given 10 choices of things that he could do, 6 might be just dumb. So dumb that most gamers wouldn't think more than half a second about it, or wouldn't even consider it a "choice". For most gamers, the analysis would be based on 4 options. Not for Jerry. He would work through all 10. He would also ignore EVERYONE at the table, not being sure if any advice being thrown his way was advice, or gamesmanship (it was always advice so that he would hurry the hell up). So for Jerry, games where he had lots of choices caused other people pain. He once indicated that he wanted to learn to play Age of Steam. I thought I'd have to burn my AoS collection to avoid having to gut myself with a Samurai sword later. He took a game of Java and turned it into nearly a 3.5 hour game (thankfully, I only heard about that one).

    The one for which Jerry might be famous for though, was Settlers of Catan. See, at one point we had a lot of people coming to our game nights. One night, a couple came in (they were both Jerrys in their own ways, the boyfriend worse than Jerry himself). Anyway, they wanted to play Settlers. Jerry and a friend of mine joined them. I got in 8 games that night. My friend got in ONE. They played a single game of Settlers and it took them most of the night - 3.5 hours.

    It got to a point where people in our group would play a game they hated to avoid getting stuck in a game with Jerry. People would plan to play 4 hours games that were so complicated that Jerry would avoid them to keep from having to play with Jerry. Because not only did Jerry slow things down, he didn't spend all that time coming up with the best move - no, he typically spent a lot of time coming up with a bad move. And that bad move meant a huge advantage to whomever was lucky enough to be able to take advantage (conversely, you were just as likely to be randomly bent over by Jerry when he did something that you couldn't have possibly accounted for in your strategic planning). In short, it was not fun to play games with the guy.

    Ok, to be fair, it was not fun to play any sort of strategic games with the guy. Really light games were ok, or abstracts like Blokus or Ingenious were ok. Or games that were really really random were ok. But if there was any amount of tactics or strategy to the game (even a light game), he was going to double the playing time.

    Ok, so how do you know if you are a "Jerry"?
    - Do your friends suggest Blokus or Ingenious instead of your selection when you ask them to play games.
    - Do you hear cheers and party poppers going off when you announce that the last seat in your Cleopatra and the Society of Architects game is full?
    - Do your friends pretend not to like long drawn out games, despite having A Game of Thrones, Age of Renaissance, Civilization, Conquest of the Empire, and Diplomacy on their shelf?
    - Do your friends need to shave after playing a game with you?
    - Do your friends frequently snort lines of white powder when its your turn to play?
    - Do you wonder when your friends decided to let their hair grow out?
    - Do you wonder why in the world everyone at the table needs to go to the bathroom 12-13 times a game? Can't they hold it until you are done playing this hand of Poison?
    - Do you frequently wonder why your friends fall asleep playing games. I mean WTF?!? Maybe they should go to bed earlier! If they'd wake up, maybe this game wouldn't be taking so long. I mean for crying out loud! Its just a game of No Thanks!

    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    Game Trading

    I've been game trading since almost the point I started hanging out on the BGG. Initially, I made a few trade offers that were just poor offers. I may have shafted myself on a few trades. After I started getting a better feel for the value of offers, I started making better trades, which allowed me to move things I didn't value to get things I wanted. Then I discovered Math Trades. Essentially, a math trade is when a load of users offer up a game they are willing to trade. Once all the games are listed, each user person turns in a list of the games they are willing to accept for the game they are offering. A computer program then sorts through the want lists to try and find a result in which the most number of games will get traded. The reason math trades have become so popular is that they allow you to find a game you'd prefer for one you don't, but you don't have to find a direct match yourself.

    When I first discovered math trades, they worked almost exactly like I just described. Then the bargain hunters started getting involved. Barnes and Noble, Tanga, Tuesday Morning, etc provided a number of users with cheap copies of games. Suddenly, the math trades turned into a place where 5-10 users were continually trying to dump games they had purchased for $15 for games that normally ran at least twice that. And that would be ok, accept that it made getting involved in the math trade less worthwhile. Why bother putting in a good game in the trade when the only choices where going to be 20 copies of the new Roborally, 20 copies of Who's the Boss, 20 Copies of Niagra, 20 copies of Nexus Ops, 20 copies of the Ravensburger version of Torres, etc? (Note - I also offered some of these games, but stopped when 10 other people would do the same). Which is not to say that having multiple copies of a game is a bad thing, but it does limit the possibility of attracting other good games. At any rate, my trading slowed down for a bit. I'm in a new math trade no - one that ended up with 921 entries. I put a few games that I've been trying to get rid of forever (Chizo Rising, Lord of the Rings, and Downtown), a Tanga extra I have (Vegas Showdown) as well as one special - my copy of Atolla Modulis I made. There were a number of good entries in this trade, and I hope that by putting in a premium item (I hope its one) I might get a valuable game. So, what am I hoping to get?

    Here is a list of the games that will probably end up in my want lists (KEY - FT=Future Trade, K=Keeper, O=Other):

    105 Epic Duels (FT)
    225 Warcraft + exp (K)
    232 Ark+ (K)
    246 Formula De exp (FT)
    271 Union Pacific (O)
    287 Doom + Exp (K)
    290 Diplomacy (K)
    337 Atlantic Star (K)
    359 Roborally (wizards of the coast) (FT)
    369 Roborally (wizards of the coast) (FT)
    384 Thurn + Exp (K)
    387 Railroad Tycoon (FT)
    395 Warcraft + exp (K)
    444 Formula De exp (FT)
    471 Dungeon Twister +4 exp (FT)
    493 Rum and Pirates (K)
    521 On the Underground (K)
    535 Acquire (AH/ Hasbro) (FT)
    642 Heroscape Flagbearer series (undecided)
    764 War! + extras (K)

    What I'm mostly looking at in this list are games that are expensive. (The few cheaper games are things that will end up on the LotR game list). Most of the items on the list are a minimum of $50 to try and get. Now of course, in these trades, most traders are trying to do like me - trade up. In some cases (like me), a trader is just trying to get rid of something they don't want to have anymore. I have a number of things listed that are definitely an upgrade, but which I have no desire to keep. The odd ball of the group is UP. This game is a bit unique for me in that I work for Union Pacific, so I'd likely acquire that as a gift. Some of these items are eBay sellers and I'd happily sell them on eBay and turn the money into games. Mostly, I'd like to turn all of my trades into something else - period. If I can get an $80+ game for Atolla, I certainly will take that and make myself a new copy. Heck, after posting that in the trade, I had an offer for a new C&C:Ancients (2nd ed) for a copy of Atolla (which I'm going to make).

    Saturday, July 07, 2007

    Must Stop...

    Ok, here we are a week into July and I have to stop. I can't keep going on like this.

    Hi, my name is Charles and I'm a game buyer. For a long time now I thought I had it under control and that my collection was about like I wanted it. Apparently not, as I've acquired more than I need to for the month (and there is still a pending math trade with four things up for trade). This last week I've grabbed: 4 more Heroscape expansions, Age of Steam Exp #1, Bootleggers, Descent, Gulo Gulo, No Thanks!, and To Court a King. I'm not playing games enough to warrant a buying pattern like this. I'm hoping I can get some more playing in to justify all my buying!

    In other news, I'm going to make another copy of Atolla Modulis. I made two copies a while back and at the time I said no more! Well, its been a while, so I'm going to make at least one more copy so I have a copy to trade. The materials for the project (the way I do it) run around $30 plus a load of my time and patience to get the cuts all square. It should be a good trade interest item.

    July 6, 2007 - Game Night at the Game Shoppe

    Friday night I trekked on down to the Game Shoppe in Bellevue for a bit of gaming. The plan was to met up with Justin Easley and play some Twilight Struggle and perhaps then try out Age of Empires III with some of the other gamers who already were planning to play Zooloretto. I arrived at the Game Shoppe around 6:00, and ended up exploring the shop for an hour - it turned out that Justin's child had been sick and he was unable to come out. This was the first time I had been out to the shop and I was surprised and happy to see a really decent assortment of games (though they did not have Imperial nor BattleLore Call to Arms). Being the bored impulse shopper that I am, I grabbed Gulo Gulo and No Thanks! for my family. Though I had been looking at the selection for nearly 40 minutes, I somehow missed that they had Blue Moon City sitting there, which I would have grabbed instead of Gulo Gulo - oh well. The shop manager Becky was very nice and the store has a huge wall of "demo" games, which she told me I was free to browse through if I was interested in the rule or bits of various games. Though I've played or seen most of the stuff on their wall, I was impressed that they had so many games available for people to play - including Shogun/Samurai Swords. Overall, I was quite happy to find such a nice store, though I really wish they had a store a bit closer to my side of town.

    After a bit, a few other gamers arrived and started setting up Zooloretto. One of the gamers asked if I wanted to join them, as their 5th player didn't look like he was coming, and since I wanted to try Zooloretto out, I sat in. The players were Mike and his significant other Janelle, Bob (Ashitaka) and his girlfriend Isabelle and I. None of us had played before, so Bob explained the game, which is in essence Coloretto with nice bits instead of cards and slightly different scoring. The first game was a bit cautious as the gals hadn't played Coloretto before and seemed to be trying to work out the game mechanisms. In the end, Bob and I tied, but I lost the tie breaker as I had no money. The scores were sadly low: Janelle 3, Mike 11, Bob 15(win), Isabelle 12, Charles 15. What we missed was the extra two points per unique market stand on your board. Nobody had any clue what the score might have looked like since we discovered that a bit into our second game. I also misunderstood a rule - I thought you had to have matching stands in the one zoo area that takes two concession stands, so I never placed another one in that area and lost points. Ah well. About halfway through the game, the other guy (Dana) showed up. After finishing our game, Mike and Janelle headed out so the new guy joined. After debating we agreed to play Zooloretto again. This time out the first tiles were really good to me, and I got two trucks with the same three animals on them. I also managed to grab a good number of coins and avoided extra animals. Bob was not so lucky ended up with nearly one of each animal time in short order. This game was not close as I pulled away with the win. Final scores were Charles 29, Janelle 18, Bob 12, Dana 11.

    After that I suggested Attika (I hadn't brought a load of games, and it was a bit late to try Age of Empires). Note, the box says 1 hour (60 minutes) but apparently if the game is a teaching game and one of the players has to be told to take his turn EVERY time the game easily run more like 2 hours of excruciating boredom. At any rate I explained the game and tried to point out some of the important details - take advantage of the building chains and board resources while they are available. The game started out very slowly for me - my capitol city was the last of my black stack. After that, I couldn't get the ships to finish my harbor nor any of the white buildings to chain off my blacks that I had in play. The easy two-structure sets never matched available resources on the board or my hand. After a couple hours of reminding Dana it was his turn, I finally noticed that Bob was likely to build all his buildings in a couple turns and then pointed out that he could end the game due to Dana placing a tile that game Bob immediate access to connecting two shrines. The odd thing about having to remind Dana to go the whole game was that he professed to really like Attika and wanted to play it again sometime. In many ways, his play and inability to pay attention to the game reminded me too much of Jerry* - it was spooky.

    *AZ Boardgamers know exactly what I mean.

    Friday, July 06, 2007

    July 6, 2007 - Hansa Changing Winds

    I just finished losing four games of Hansa: Changing Winds on MaBiWeb to MBW Sirrus (Miguel Villaverde?), MBW Elminster, Paolo Porfiri, and Gary Libby in the tournament. Its more than official now, I hate this variant. I also hate playing Hansa two-players. Its terrible. The first player has such a huge advantage over the other - they can run around the board, grabbing goods and creating markets such that the second player will be hard pressed not to give the first player money when they go to buy goods - essentially, the rich get richer because they got to start. The other thing is the crazy scoring at the end. In a two player game, the extra scoring makes a huge difference. Ending the game alone is a 6 pt swing either direction. Maybe I just suck at this version and I hate it because of that, but I'm not really likely to keep playing to find out. After 10 games of this version, I'm ready to quit trying. I'd be willing to print the map to play as an alternate map and with the double cost move rule, but not the alternate scoring.

    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    July 3, 2007 - Samurai

    Matthew Frederick, Tammy Smolka and I finally finished our rematch of Samurai on MaBiWeb. This time out, I never got a chance to get comfortable. It always felt like I was getting jobbed or wasting pieces while Tammy and Matthew got themselves into good positions. I somehow managed to get ahead in rice, but had few enough other pieces that I didn't think it mattered. Then as things started to tighten, I noticed I might have a slim shot at tying Matthew for hats, to keep him out of the race. As luck would have it, we nearly finished the board, but I was able to play my wild 3 Samurai to grab two pieces - one hat to tie Matthew in hats, and another rice. The extra hat not only took Matthew out of his majority, it gave me enough pieces to pass Tammy for the win. A very tight and exciting game.
    Final scores (majorities - others - total):
    Tammy: 1 - 4 - 8
    Matthew: 0 - 8 - 8
    Charles: 1 - 5 - 9

    Random thoughts

  • I won an auction on Ebay for the first expansion map for Age of Steam - Ireland and England still in the shrink. Cost me $45 plus shipping, which isn't bad - most of the listings I've seen in the last year or so have run from $65-90 plus shipping. I didn't really want to spend $45 on a double sided piece of cardboard, but it'll never get printed again, and I think these two maps are a couple of the better ones.
  • I just started the second round of the tournament on MaBiWeb for Hansa: Changing Winds. I'm now 100% positive I hate this version. In the first round I was 2-2 and I'll be lucky to hit that again. The starting player has a pretty big advantage and unless luck goes against them, they are likely to get out in front and stay there. I don't want to play anymore, but I'm not going to just quit either. Bleh!
  • Still not happy with the look of the blog, but Blogger.com's new xml template system blows. I've been trying and trying to get it to look the way I want, but its just not happening.
  • Just when I thought I was nearly done with trading, there is YAMT (yet another math trade) going on. I was 100% sure it would be full of crap from the last two Tangathons. Surprise - its actually not. There is a surprising number of things I haven't seen before as a well a good number of things I'd be happy to acquire. I've already put in Lord of the Rings, Downtown, and an extra copy of Vegas Showdown. I'm pretty sure I now need to go back and throw a few more things out there. I'll for sure add Chizo Rising and maybe Ingenious (and then I can get a new copy - mine is used). Part of the problem? I'm running out of things to trade - I really have got my collection down to things I want to keep. I'm certainly willing to try and trade a game I can re-purchase, in order to get a more expensive game or out of print game. The other part is that I don't really want to list a game (like Niagra) that is already on the list three times. I might do it just to try and upgrade something.
  • Monday, July 02, 2007

    Conversations of No Interest

    I've recently met a new gamer that reminds me a lot of myself when I first started gaming. We started talking about about games, and we agreed to share the conversation as a post here on my blog.

    Let's start with a topic before we get to games. This will help me to understand your reasoning behind the games you like and the comments you make on future posts and likewise for you with me.

    This has been a hot topic in my family and will mostly likely introduce me to games as you mention titles in defense of your posts - while there are many genres of games, if we boiled gaming down to very simple terms the gamer must figure out which end of the "luck" spectrum of he enjoys most. On one side, there are games that are all strategy and on the other end you have games that are driven by the luck of the die or the drawing of a card. the gray matter in between is where most gamers find themselves, though typically erring towards one side. Where do you find yourself? Closer to strategy or closer to luck? Does it change depending on who you are playing with or how many people are playing? Luck or strategy?

    I'm going to rephrase before I answer - "How much randomness are you willing to accept in a game?". The answer is - it depends. Nobody wants to simply play a game of chance - if so, game conventions would be a boring mess of people sitting around flipping coins and cutting cards and cheering. On the other hand, take for instance - card games like Hearts, Spades, Oh Hell!, Tichu, Frank's Zoo, etc. - All of these games have a lot of randomness. However, the randomness is mitigated by good play. Not 100% of the time, but far more often than not. That's part of the equation. Can my skill overcome my opponent and the randomness?

    The other part, is how much do I invest in the game? If, for instance, I play a game for more than 30 minutes and in the end, it comes down to who drew the last special card, then why bother playing? Let's draw cards until someone gets a special card and go play something fun. My one experience with Killer Bunnies was like that - it didn't really matter what you did, because in the end it was a lottery. I'll happily play something like Parcheesi or Backgammon, where the game's outcome in a lot of ways depends on the dice, but also depends on the skill of the player AND when the investment in the game is not so great that you care when luck goes against you. So the answer is - it depends. It depends on the game and whom I'm playing against. When I play with my wife, I can take a bit more randomness, because I play against the system as much as her - this gives me some satisfaction when I win and I don't feel too bad when I lose. (wow, that sounded condescending. I meant that more along the lines of she will be the first to admit she just likes to play and not spend her time "strategizing". She can usually jump on a tactical opening, but she'll admit when she wins its not usually because she out gamed me.)

    What about you? What is your gaming preference?

    In my family, there are three of us that love boardgames:

    Darin (BGG - gamehaus), my brother-in-law. He introduced me and my wife to games. He loves strategy games, his favorite game is Go. 100% strategy - no dice or drawing cards. If you lose, it's because you didn't play as well as your opponent. He once said that he applied the strategies of Go to the way he makes decisions at work - there's always a constant forward thinking on what your opponent will do if you go here or there. He also introduced me to Puerto Rico - my first taste of euro games, and while there was still an element of luck (drawing the goods), it was very much strategy driven.

    Jason (BGG - the gamebler), my oldest of three brothers, started out as a gamer that was in it to find games that would make everyone in the room either yelp in victory or hide their face in their hands as they just saw the dice roll a "one" to end the game - and he also enjoyed the shorter games. However, recently he's been playing games that involve more strategy and take a bit longer and I think he's changed his opinion.

    I always thought I was a lot like Darin - but after playing games like Arkham Horror and Battle Cry, I realized I could have just as much fun with a game that involved more dice or cards. I'm typically a bit more of an analysis paralysis gamer, so it can take me a bit longer to make moves, but when you involve a little luck, I don't feel as much pressure and it seems to keep things moving along.

    If I had to choose a side, I guess I would be more apt to enjoy the game that had as little randomness as possible. However, if the amount of luck in a game can be controlled by your strategy, I'm all for it. I am slowly losing some of my obsession with strategy. I haven't played many games I don't like, probably because I typically avoid most games that look like they'll be mostly luck-driven. I think I have a decent grasp on my interests at this point. Now that I'll start gaming with a group of people with varying interests, I'll be more willing to play games I usually wouldn't!!

    My collection sort of reflects my tastes, which is to say - varied. I have some lighter games that have a bit of randomness and some longer games that are pure strategy. I also have a couple longer ones with some randomness (Manifest Destiny and History of the World come to mind) and some shorter pure strategy games. When I first started playing and collecting, I'd grab anything that sounded fun, but I stopped that when I'd find out a game wouldn't get played by my group. At that point, I just started trying to round out my collection more and finding games that I liked, even if nobody else did. I think I've found a happy medium - I have games that real gamers will enjoy, as well as those that someone that would never think twice about playing something that wasn't as simple as Yahtzee. I'm also willing to guess that most people getting into this hobby are strongly influenced by the people they play with and their preferences as well. Luckily, the group I played with had wildly varying tastes and game collections. A number of them had been playing for years and I got to sample a bit of everything. I really grew to appreciate a number of different games from different genres.

    About the only games I never played (and I just don't really care to) are true wargames - loads of chits with obscure symbols just don't excite me very much. I've had some curiosity about a few block games (Wizard Kings and Rommel in the Desert), but I'm not sure that they aren't just wargames with wooden chits ;). I like pure strategy games, as there is a lot of personal satisfaction in beating other skilled players. However, there doesn't seem to be too many games like that that are also short. Plus, as fun as they are, they can also be taxing. Sometimes its nice to play a lighter game that gives you a chance to be a bit more social. If I just wanted to play games to be playing, I could play online all the time and never really need to sit at the table with someone.

    You're right - you are influenced by those you game with. I think that's why I've found myself somewhere in between my brother and brother-in-law, Jason and Darin - enjoying mostly longer, strategic games - but quickly finding out that I need some of those shorter, lighter games to break up the slow, taxing sessions.

    When I first started playing games with the AZ Boardgamers, it took me close to 5 months before I played the same game twice. In that time frame, there was only one night where I played only one or two games. I spent one night playing Conquest of the Empire, and while I loved it, I was really upset that I only got that one game in that night. I spent the next month playing loads of games, trying to get as many in during a playing session as I could and avoiding anything heavy or long. After a while, the fluff got to me and I started to get a little more balance in. I'm going to guess you'll end up in the same area - it'll depend on what you've played recently and who you've played with.