Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene didn't take down our Power Grid

Hurricane"Tropical Storm" Irene was a bit of a non-event in my neck of the woods. No stories to tell.

But after Eli went to bed, the wife and I played a game of Power Grid.

Even though we always have fun playing with the default 2-player rules, I decided to give this 2-player variant a try.

The basic differences between the base rules and that variant are:
1) The market is split 3/5 instead of 4/4. Smaller current market, more futures.
2) Only 1 house per city, regardless of Step.
3) Only 2 regions in Step 1, adding 2 extra regions in Step 2 (which starts at 7 cities).
4) In Step 2, if you have 8 or more cities, you can power 3 fewer cities with your plants. In step 3, 6 fewer.
5) Game ends at 14 cities.

I actually enjoyed the tweaks it made; it adds some interesting situations, especially when Step 2 is beginning. I had 7 cities, and could power 10. But if I bought just one more city, I would only be able to power 7. And later in the game, you can't just sit on your power plants, you have to keep bidding.

She didn't like it, because it does add a bit of confusion for people who aren't "seasoned gamers"; the official rules of Power Grid with 2 players can be a very non-gamer-friendly casual game.
So maybe we won't play it again this way, but I might suggest it for a 2-player variant with another "gamer gamer".

On the other hand:
In the end, I did win, but it was still by a narrow margin. I'm not sure if the overhead added by the variant actually changes the situation very much except a little bit of twisting your perception. It might take a few more experimental games to formulate a full opinion.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Remote Gaming

Our D&D group is notoriously bad at consistently meeting.
It is something that happens when you grow up; schedules are incompatible, real life issues interfere, and it just has to take lower priority.
Throughout the last few years, we've struggled to meet once every 3 or 4 months on a Sunday night.

Due to this and other concerns, we decided to give it a try to use an online video chat service for one person to be remotely available. Our first guinea pig was not Mike (our friend who moved away), but me. Circumstances had me needing to stay home, but available for gaming.

We first tried Google Hangout, but the video was a little bit choppy (over wifi, at least) and it was wreaking havoc on my poor netbook's system resources.
I suggested we use Skype instead.
From my perspective, Skype was generating a clearer smoother picture and better audio... but for whatever reason it ended up crashing the machine on the other side.
So we went back to Google Hangout, and I resorted to getting out my incredibly-long-cat5-cable to plug the netbook into the wired network.
Had to work out some audio issues, but eventually it started working better, and we got used to it.. so, technologically, it was working OK.
Whether it will hold up with a 3rd or 4th person in conference is a whole other question, but we'll see.

As for the experience itself, I know I was fooling around with zooming in on random objects and making funny faces for a lot of the time, but that was just to make sure people still knew I was there. (It was also weird because my view of myself was mirror-flipped.. whooaaaa)

I also felt a little bit like I was watching a live event, and not participating, so there were times that I completely zoned out, did stuff in another window, and waited to hear my name.

But when I did hear my name, and when I was included, then I did feel like we accomplished something. I was more-or-less able to see the BattleMat and my character actually did kill some goblins and stuff. :)

So, conceptually, I approve. I think this can work.
Technically, I think we still have to figure out what the ideal setup is.

Hopefully, next time, I will be one of the people in the physical room, though.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Games Played With Josh, August 17th, 2011

Five people gathered at my house for boardgames last night, and we tried out my new game Glen More...

... naw, just kidding, we played Galactica.

We chose to play with New Caprica as a destination, using all the rest of the Pegasus and Exodus components.

The characters were:

Gaeta (Kristen) ->
Baltar (me) (Cylon) ->
Cally (Matt) ->
Apollo (Max) (Cylon)->
Tori (*and Anders) (Kevin)

Predictably, I was a Cylon from the very first turn.
As soon as I was able, I spiked a check with a yellow card, and balked about it publicly when there were 3 negatives in the check. I figured, Baltar's already a suspicious character so it is best to play to that early.

For the most part, I played as a nice friendly human, because Baltar always wants to live to the sleeper phase to use his OPG.

The humans had halfway decent luck before the sleeper phase, and we hit sleeper at Distance 5.
Gaeta at this point was Pradmiral, and Tori decided that she wanted to use Administration to make herself president, to improve her special ability, without consulting anyone.
This was definitely my "in".
On my first turn after that (my first turn after sleeper), I peeked at Tori's pair of Not-A-Cylons (one of which was a personal goal but I really wasn't interested in that).
I took advantage of the suspicion of her last action, and of course called out Kevin. "Oh, Kevin, how could you?"

Apparently, this was convincing enough for Cally, because she went right over to Tori's location and discharged her firearm, revealing my lie.
At this point, I should point out that we were using a slight variant on Executions.
Instead of choosing any new character, we shuffle up the non-dead characters and deal out 3, letting the player choose 1.
Kevin's choices were grim: Boomer, Helo, or Anders, the very 3 characters who have "screwed on the first turn" as a penalty. He chose the least of the evils, Anders.

I thought this might mean Cally was my partner in crime, but it didn't take long for me to find out that I was wrong. Apollo's followup action was to Reveal, damaging 2 areas of Galactica. Evilly and thematically enough, the two damaged areas were Command and the Hangar Deck, leaving no way for vipers to get out as Galactica was swarmed with Cylons on the outside.

On Gaeta's turn, he used an Arrest Order on me (which I had been holding on to before the title was unceremoniously taken away).

I used the Political Prowess that I'd been holding on to since the very beginning as a Get Out of Jail Free card, but unfortunately, the fates would give me a crisis that had the admiral choose to send me right back to the brig.

On my following turn, I would reveal, because my Reveal Power did not need any help -- move the Jump Track back 2 spaces, when there had been 5 crises in a row without a jump icon, including one that moved the track backwards.

Did I mention that by this point, all of the raiders were on the board, and 4 Centurions were marching?!

Skipping ahead a little bit.. the next jump was apparently a choice between 2 1-distance destinations, because it left us at distance 6.

By the time New Caprica was reached (and it was), both Population and Morale were at 1, and there were 3 Centurions 2 steps along on the track.
The humans conceded, rather than perform the futile setup of the New Caprica board.

So that makes my second game with New Cap, and I still haven't fully experienced the.. experience.

Fun game :)

I'll still play Glen More, I swear!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

(BSG) Increasing Paranoia with Executions

I posted this over at BoardGameGeek, and unsurprisingly it wasn't a very popular idea.

So I'm thinking,
When I first heard about Exodus, and played my first couple of games with it, I liked the new rules for the Loyalty Deck partially because a character wasn't guaranteed to be Human when coming into the game to replace an Executed character.

But in practice, the newly-drawn card after being Executed is rarely "You Are A Cylon"; it might be a Final Five or a Personal Goal, but those don't really hurt the team that bad.

So here is my idea:

At game setup, create the Loyalty Deck as instructed by the Exodus rulebook. Follow the rules as-printed until the sleeper phase.

After the Sleeper Phase, the first time a character is executed, instead of shuffling a new You Are Not A Cylon card into the deck before drawing your new loyalty, shuffle a "You are a Late Cylon" card in.
(This could use a better name, but I don't even know if the mechanic's any good)


Action: Reveal this card.
You may not use the "Cylon Fleet" or "Basestar Bridge" location.

Only do this once. Future executions are handled by the normal rules.

It makes you a worse Cylon than the Sympathizer, for sure. It barely gives you an incentive to Reveal. But it adds more uncertainty to the Airlock As Cylon Detector, and maybe people will start using the Brig more often again?

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's a trap!

Oh neat, FFG has gotten the rights to make Star Wars games!
Could a Star Wars/BSG crossover be right around the corner?? [/just kidding]