Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 2008 Game of the Month

Well, July ended up being a lean month for gaming. I've been pretty busy just packing and trying to get my house sold (including trying to get my house repaired from storm damage last month). This pretty much left me with one game night and some cards with my folks another. Oh well. So, the game of the month this time is still a great game. Medici is one of Knizia's best auction games. The play is simple, so teaching the mechanics doesn't take very long *(even if you play the auction the wrong way). The beauty of this game is the risk/reward bidding. Your bids are done with your victory points. If you bid high early, you may miss out on things you need later. Wait too long, and there may be nothing left for you to bid on (cheaply or not). In short, when played with players that are familiar with the game, it becomes a great big game of chicken. There are loads of ways to score points each round, so you have to balance scoring (getting paid) with building up something that will help you a couple rounds later. This is fast and tense and I really really like this game. I have the new version of the game, which has a much better board (there are still flaws as far as I'm concerned, but it is still way way way better than the last crappy version). This version also uses tiles for the goods instead of cards, which are nice, yet not as easy to use as the cards. The tiles should hold up longer than cards being shuffled and handled and bent, but its really much easier to deal cards off a deck than to pull tiles from the bag (and try not to look at them) before each round. Its also easier to pass the deck than the bag of tiles. These are small quibbles though. If you are looking to get this game, buy the new release. Its pretty inexpensive and its about the best version I've seen so far.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back to the Chips

Once again, inspiration struck. I've always really liked the Samurai Palace chips, since the first time I saw them. I think they are really slick looking chips. Unfortunately, they are also like $1.25 each. No way I'm spending that kind of cash on poker chips. I settled on Nexgen Las Vegas chips for a couple reasons. They have a nice clean two color look, and they have a recessed middle which makes them perfect for labeling. Now, I've been kicking around the art for the labels since before I got the chips. When I last did labels, I did a dragon theme with AZBoardgamers on them. This time around, I wanted to do something different, just didn't know what. So, inspired by the Samurai Palace chips, I dug around and for some Samurai art. I never did find anything simple like I wanted, but I did run into Hokusai. Hokusai was a Japanese artist most famous for The Great Wave of Kanagawa. So I started looking at some of his other art and found 6 images I liked. I scanned some chips and pasted the images on so I could see what they looked like. They actually look better than a lot of other things I've tried. Now I need to try out a little numbering/denominations on them and see how that looks. One nice thing about this art - it tends to have good chunks of open space to take the denominations. I'll probably not use the same thing on the backside of the chips. The Samurai Palace chips use a black back with a grey-ish kanji character and the denominations. I'm thinking about doing the same thing. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Game Collection

The BGG recently overhauled its game collection interface. I'm not sure that I care for the changes yet (I know I don't care for the new interface for games played, though I appreciate that you can now track opponents and wins). At any rate, I went back through my collection and updated a few ratings and added a few comments to games (and took out a few that I have traded recently). I'm sitting at 245 or so games. You can also track games you used to own if you care about that sort of thing. I don't care enough to go back through the system trying to find things I don't own anymore - I apparently didn't want them. If I did want them, they are on my wishlist. Going forward, I'll probably check the used to own box when I trade something away, but I'm not going to try and complete the backfill...
I'm trying to decide if I want to bother tracking Heroscape anymore. It got to be too hard to track the expansions using the geek (since it does it by wave, not each blister or whatever), so I started using the spreadsheets that folks were adding to the geek. Even that is a pain in the butt, but I have no better solution yet. At any rate, I'm thinking about taking out all the HS expansions from my collection on the BGG - they don't make much sense in that particular context. I won't record games played against an individual "wave". Nor would I rank them by wave. And finally, I'm not going to trade them. That ought to drop my collection about 10 games, but oh well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Game Night

Friday, July 18, 2008
We are rapidly approaching the sale of my house (and thus my move back to Arizona). I decided to try and head down to the Game Shoppe for one last game night. Brian Gomez and Karen Zimmerli were going to meet up with me, as was Mike Garrett (though Mike wasn't sure what time he'd be able to get there as he was returning to town from a trip to Canada). Brian and I had worked out a trade too, so I was going to get a new game for one of my extra copies of an Age of Steam map. At any rate, I got there and Mike ended up being about 30 minutes away, so I pulled out Wabash Cannonball to teach Brian and Karen. As I have learned already, Wabash is not that great when played with new players vs experienced, but I didn't mind playing a teaching game. What happened right off the bat was that I ended up winning a share in Penn (red) for like $12 or $15 - something far far too low. I realized I'd need another share of something, as red was going to dead end pretty quickly. Karen bid up yellow (C&O), so I let that go. I bid up blue (B&O) and let Brian have green (NY). I started expanding both blue and red and then watched as Brian drove green to cut off red. Having no funds, I pretty much gave up or red and concentrated on making blue's value higher. I put up shares of yellow and green, but Brian and Karen didn't want to surrender control of their companies, and it wasn't until that third or forth share of each company that I finally captured some other share. Brian and Karen mostly concentrated on "their" companies, and so I ended up having the only share of blue the entire game. - basically earning me an average of $13 or so each dividend. The game went about as I expected for a three player "newbie" game. This one should really be more interesting when I finally play with folks that have played multiple times (and not just Mike Garrett, but a whole group of folks that have played).
Mike had finally arrived, so we were trying to figure out what to play next. The Shoppe had a copy of Ticket To Ride: The Card Game sitting out, and since Brian and Karen knew the game, I asked to be taught. All I knew was that it was a bit like Mamma Mia and had a memory aspect. Well, that's kinda true. You place train cards into a stack and then at the end of the game, use that stack to complete tickets. There is a slight amount of memorization of what you've been able to turn over into your pile (there is not a shared pile, but rather each player has their own stack to complete tickets) but its not as nearly tough as Mamma Mia. Its light and fast, and I'll probably try to grab this online to complete and order or something.
To finish up the night, we played a game of Medici. Turns out I remembered the auction incorrectly when I taught/played this at the Geekway a month ago - its a one and done, not round and round auction. A well. One and done and its still fun. And I did even better than when we had been in St. Louis.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Random Dreck

Just some random thoughts from a bored mind...
Martin Wallace has stopped the fight over the name Age of Steam. He and John Bohrer had been fighting over the name for months, delaying any reprint of Age of Steam and the publishing of Mayfair's new version of Martin's game. So? Well, it means that folks will someday finally be able to get a copy of AoS again, since JB will be able to print it again. It also means folks will be able to finally play Mayfair's version of the game (which is supposed to be compatible with all the AoS maps - how they'll mention that now is another story I suppose). Whether he was right or wrong, JB came off as an ass and turned off a lot of people. As much as I actually dislike JB, I sadly cannot keep him from my money, as I really like the stuff that Winsome is producing lately (maybe not the production quality, but the games themselves seemed to be my kind of game). So yes, I am going to be buying JB's USA release of his Essen 2008 set. All $130 bucks worth :( - its two new games, and AoS map set and an expansion for Wabash Cannonball.

Also in the limited edition news, Ted Alspach recently announced an Essen set of AoS maps in the $80 range. I really want these too, but man that's a lot of cash to drop considering I'm moving in 3 weeks or so. Damn their timing.

I didn't think I'd be doing any trading for a while, but then DoW bent me over and announced they'd be releasing TtR:Nordic in English in North America. So I unloaded it in the most recent math trade to get something of value (while this copy still had any). I ended up grabbing a brand new copy of Atlantic Star. I've never played this one, so I really just grabbed it as possible trade fodder down the road.

I still owe Mike Gingold a copy of Atolla Modulis. I bring this up as a reminder to myself to mount the stupid crap already and also because the last item I mentioned end up going to none other than Mr. Gingold himself. I had AS shipped to him and with any luck, when I finally (someday) get to Phoenix, I'll give Mike his two games and get my one.

Heh. I have another game awaiting me in Phoenix as well. I got a copy of Runebound 2nd ed in a math trade at the start of the summer. Knowing I'd be moving, I asked the trader to just hold it for me until I could get back. Well, soon enough I'll be back.

With any luck (or will of God, or whatever you prefer) I'll be living in Mesa, AZ and it turns out I'll be within a few miles of Eric Von Burg and Dion Garner. Both are gamer friends of mine that I enjoy very different styles of games with. Erik seems to really like the more thematic games and plays as much for the fun as anything. Dion is solid Euro guy. I'll probably get a bunch of games like Doom, Descent, Heroscape (lots of Heroscape), Heroquest, Runebound, etc played with Erik and will see about maybe doing something two-player-esque with Dion (maybe a C&C:Ancients campaign or something). I'm probably getting ahead of myself a bit, but I really miss those guys.

I'm going to miss the guys here too. I really liked playing with Justin Kosec, Mike Garrett, Mike, Mike, Dave, Conrad, Steve, John etc etc. Its too bad the Game Shoppe was so far away, as I enjoyed the store and the manager Becky and her boyfriend Heath. Everyone was great to game with and I played a LOAD of games with Mike Garrett that I'd probably not have ever played if I hadn't met him. I already miss Justin Easley and his brother Jason who are in Ill-in-noise already. Hopefully they will someday be passing through my corner of the world - I'll always welcome a face-to-face game of something.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Math Trades

I'm in a lull at the moment. There is a math trade that started up - I looked through the roughly 427 items and nothing caught my eye. Moreover, the one or two things that were interesting enough were not interesting enough that I'd part with anything in my collection. My collection has somewhat become like this:
  • Games I'm just not going to part with - Age of Steam, A Game of Thrones, Indonesia, my Alea collection, my Crokinole board etc, etc
  • Games that are ok, that I'd be ok parting with, but are not worth the effort of trading - Ingenious, Pizzaro and Co, St. Petersburg, Return of the Heroes etc
  • Games I don't currently play (may not ever play), but I just can't bear to part with for various reasons - HeroQuest, versions of Axis and Allies (basically any of my Hasborg/AH collection), Spiel de Jahres winners, old family games (rummikub, mhing), whatever.
At any rate, I'm about 90% happy with the current state of my collection and a lot of the stuff I'd like to get anymore doesn't even fall into the normal stuff that gets listed in trade lists. To top it off, even if it did, I don't have anything I'd be willing to trade to acquire rare or top end game things. There is certainly some cruft that I'd get rid of in my collection if it wouldn't cost me as much in shipping the junk out as it would to buy a game that I could get in return. And yet, that won't stop me from adding a game...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Annoying Day

Today was an annoying day to be me. First - Days of Wonder went back on their word and announced today that they would be releasing TtR:Nordic Countries in English. Good thing I had my friend Marie go through the effort of bringing me one back from Norway. Not.
Last week, Bezier Games (Ted Alspach) announced a new Essen pack of AoS maps. That's all well and good, but its also $80. I was all set to order this, but then today I got the announcement that the Winsome Games Essen package will be released in October. This 4-game package will be a whopping $120 (plus shipping). One of the "4" games is an expansion for Wabash Cannonball. Now, having played Wabash and having read a lot about some Winsome games recently, I'm fairly certain I'd love the two games in the pack (the "3rd" is an AoS expansion). I'm also certain I'd like the AoS map and the expansion. However, the standard Winsome way means the games will look cheap as hell and I'll just end up re-doing them. Thus making a $130 investment annoying. Even more annoying is that I'm moving in the next few weeks and right now is a terrible time to try and spend $200 on some games. Ugh!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Jason Gives Me, So I Will Keep Playing Memoir With Him

  1. Run, run as fast as you can - you can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man! (I still have no clue what that means).
  2. Hey its random, don't let that get you down.
  3. At least the scenarios are over quickly
  4. You don't suck that badly
  5. See, your problem is that you always have to play your next card face up so I can abuse you like I do your mom.
  6. After 51 scenarios, you are only down by 21 medals - that's less than 1/2 a medal per scenario!
  7. After we get through all 128 scenarios, we can switch sides and then play with the rules that balance things.
  8. Did I say 128? I meant 182
  9. Don't feel bad - after all the Axis did win the war... um, never mind.
  10. You still do better than Mike G does against me.
So yeah, I started another scenario today and in FIVE turns, he beat me 6-2. He beats me like a ho that's been holding out on him. I get beat more than a dog with a bladder infection and a timid personality. Well, that makes the Axis now ahead 226-205 for the campaign.

June 2008 Game of the Month

Well, I had a number of choices this month, as I went to the Geekway to the West 2008 and played a number of games and tried a number more. Honestly, the game I enjoyed the most was Indonesia - however, I want to keep this list unique each month if I can so that I talk about a different game rather than having the same one pop up over and over.

Glory to Rome wins this month as a game that I found FAR more interesting than Race For the Galaxy. It plays 5 out of the box and while the play is similar in features to Race (cards are used to build or for costs etc) it plays out a bit differently due to player interactions that aren't available in Race and that makes it a far more interesting game to me. Not only that, but its CHEAPER. Its a smaller company that makes this game and its the first game I plan to purchase after I move (I've put myself on a buying hiatus).

So, other games in contention this month? Medici was a candidate - this is my favorite Knizia auction game. Micro Mutants: Evolution showed me that tiddley winks could be cool and fun - fun enough for me to buy, but not to make the top game this month. Subbuteo was a lot of fun, but I don't know that I'd have as much fun with this one unless it was with Justin Easley.