Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Moseying or Galloping to Kansas City (Great Western Trail)

Great Western Trail was one of the "cult of the semi-new" games I picked up recently, and I really love it. It's a mid-heavy-weight game about traveling along the eponymous trail with your cattle and selling them, over and over. It's a euro where the theme could be anything, and some links are extremely tenuous, but fun and gives you a bunch of interesting decisions.

Last night was only the third time I've played (other than a brief experimentation with a solo variant).
I don't remember the scores of the first game, but I do know I won game 2 by a wide margin.
Game 3 was also the first time we used some more of the random setup elements (neutral building placement and A/B sides of private buildings)

Last night I was not so lucky.
Early in the first run from the geographically-unclear ranch to Kansas, I was presented with this:


If you know the game, you will know that this is the worst possible hand of cows you can draw.
When you reach Kansas City, your reward is based on having a variety of cows. Not only are these all the same, but they are the lowest value.
Effectively, upon arrival in Kansas, this hand full of Jersey Cows would be worth $1, with the only possible place to "sell" them being Kansas City itself, which gives you -6VP.

... But it also gives you +$6. Remember that for a moment.

Since my hand of cows was lousy, and I was a few steps in toward Kansas City, I decided to move slowly, through spaces that could (relatively inefficiently) cycle bad cows out of my hand.

This turned out to be a huge mistake.

I lost so much momentum from moving slowly, and couldn't get an economy going so it became a self-fulfilling defeat. All in the name of trying to sell my cows to a further-up city for potential long-term gain.

The end score was 81-80-56-49. Guess which one was me?

Looking at a spread like this, -6 VP doesn't look so bad when it also gives you +$6 and a full hand-cycle that guarantees itself to be worth at least 1 more. If I had "galloped" to Kansas City quickly with my crap hand, I may have built up to some strong followup turns.

I will remember this for next game. Which will hopefully be soon (whether in meatspace or on Tabletop Simulator). Will see what happens with a strategy of an early Kansas City rush.

My goal this year is to focus on quantity of plays of games I've already got, more than looking at shiny new squirrels. I won't completely be blind to the Cult of the New, but I always feel sad when I play a new game with substance only once or twice before being able to formulate strategies and see a game for what it truly is (or be able to appreciate its expansions). I want to spend a lot of time on GWT and Terra Mystica, primarily, and we'll see what else pops up.




Friday, January 5, 2018

2018 maybe

Yet another meta-post.

I remember this blog exists. I truly do.
A year ago, I said 2017 was going to be the year I actually started updating the blog, and also started thinking about my podcasting aspirations. Neither of these things happened.
Let's see whether this blog gets any traction in 2018.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Evolution: Podcast?

I've been throwing around the idea of a podcast for awhile, and what better use for the flailing blog.tornsignpost.com than to try to resurrect its name with audio?
I've just returned from Granite Game Summit, and I've (separately) been thinking a lot about Legacy games, so I definitely have a lot to talk about for at least a zeroeth episode.

I'm having a little trouble setting up accounts on some sites; amongst them is instagram. A few weeks ago, I tried creating a "tornsignpost" userid, got an error, and now it's in some sort of state of flux.
Different parts of instagram either think the userid has been disabled, doesn't exist, isn't associated with an email address, or already exists.
Their support tool through the app doesn't even work -- it claims that I'm not entering a proper country name -- so I'm trying to email their support.

So if I do start up the podcast, and give it an instagram account, there's a chance it won't match the naming convention.

But either way, please continue watching this space, and if I produce at least 2 episodes of the podcast in the next few months, consider subscribing to that ;)

Hope to talk to you soon. GRR on!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Still nope

Nope, not yet. There's lots of geekery I want to talk about, but no time to write, and it's getting less relevant as time passes. :/

Keep watching this space though.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Of Rogue One, the Rouge One, The OA and Odin

Happy new year to my hundreds tens ones of readers!

2017 is going to be the year I consistently update my blog. I can feel it!

The subject line here should give you an idea of what's in my queue to talk about soon. I'll separate them into different posts, especially since there are some spoilers you might want to avoid.


Real Soon Now...

Friday, September 23, 2016

RDXI: Samsara quick thoughts

Still more scattered disorganized thoughts, nothing as "insightful" as my comments on RDX yet.
And also trying to avoid deep spoilers since I'm even seeing the episode a week before many people actually in the UK, and certainly quite awhile before most Americans.

As a followup to Twentica, we now have kind of a baseline to judge the setting of RDXI.
Once again, things are slightly different than in previous seasons and unlikely to be directly explained.

This episode spent a lot more time on ship, even with a classic Rimmer/Lister bunkbed scene with familiar decorations from the past throughout.
The opening scene called back to Meltdown, with Rimmer's Risk story, but this time with Lister and Rimmer playing a game "Mine-opoly". Stuff happened in the game where there was a missed reference to the Luck Virus, which was certainly my first impression.

The overall plot was jarring at first, but it made a reference to another episode with similar sci-fi-explanation and after thinking about it, fine. That's OK.

The jokes were at par, although it still seems like the things that make Cat a Cat and the things that make Rimmer a Hologram have taken a back seat for the sake of the jokes.
For one thing, Cat makes references to things in Earth's past as if he grew up with them, and seems to just be "the human with the mind of a 3-year-old and sharp teeth" for the most part.
(Yes, one of the jokes is that he gets things completely wrong, but he still gets them wrong within the frame of reference of being human, if that makes any sense at all).
I really hope they do something with the "Cat episode" (I think it's episode 6) to call back to Cat being a Cat and even moreso to the Cat Religion and Cloister.

Rimmer is definitely still "dead", "electronic", and "a hologram", but he's been in Hard Light Mode through the whole last few series, which takes a bit away from him being non-human except when they specifically call attention to it. Even in the beginning of Twentica, they make reference to someone possibly "stealing his DNA" where they could have made reference to a digital copy (a la Me2), for example.

In context of this series, and the specific reference they *did* make to a past episode (with Kryten miraculously knowing all the facts about something he could have mentioned 30 years ago.. ;) ), this one was OK. It's still hard to judge until I see more. RDX was really trying to do more character-development stuff, while XI so far is "these characters we already know, in new situations", mostly. Not bad on its own, just hard to review in the way I think about the series.

As a side note, today I also watched 2 older episodes with my son: Backwards and White Hole.
Like I mentioned last week, Backwards and Twentica had a similar structure, but Backwards still did its thing way better, in my opinion.
In White Hole, Lister makes a little speech to how reliant humans are on technology, and he coincidentally made a similar speech at the end of Twentica... His White Hole speech was a little bit more "sincere", but the Twentica angle was all for the punchline.
Also, White Hole opens with the resurrecting of Talkie Toaster, who had been severely disassembled by Lister... which is definitely a reference missed in Twentica as well.

These thoughts were supposed to be quick, but I'll be back next week to try and tie things together a little more tightly.
So far, I think the series is still about on the same level with RDX all-things-told, and still outranking Series 8 in almost every way imaginable...


Thursday, September 15, 2016

RDXI: Twentica, a spoiler-lite quick review

I really will need to let Red Dwarf XI sink in a bit, and I think this first episode "Twentica" is hard to review.

I did manage to watch it this evening, on my TV screen, via a far-less-convoluted-than-expected use of a VPN service, an Android app, and an MHL cable.

Comedy-wise, I think the episode was about on par with Series X. They're kind of easing back into it.

Plotwise, it was really similar to Backwards, in a way, although not nearly as clever of a premise. But in the same way as Backwards wasn't quite consistent with what "the universe is backwards" actually meant, the premise of this world they traveled to was just a bunch of setups for mismatched jokes.
That is not really a criticism though, because it goes back to the roots of it being a sitcom first, sci-fi second.

Still, a fairly contrived way to have a larger cast of "humans" than the 4 of them.
And they (likely deliberately) avoided any attempt at trying to deal with continuity. We may still never know what "actually happened" after Series 8.
Also, the crew seemed much more comfortable with technobabble, and less surprised by "whirly things in space", but then again, they've been together for hundreds of in-universe years, or at least 30, and they've seen it all.

In 2012 when I was going through Series X I picked up on a lot of subtleties (some of which weren't actually there, but I willed them into existence), and did some overanalysis. This is just a harder episode for that. Series X started out with Trojan and Fathers and Suns, which were "character pieces" while this one was a "situation piece", more like the Lemons episode.
So I'm reserving my overanalysis for a little later.

But all other things being equal? This episode wasn't terrible.  Hard to give it a number of Rs on the good old GRR scale, but let's start out with a solid 3.

GRRR for Twentica.
(subject to change in retrospect)