Friday, December 31, 2010

Cylonnukah report

Six people showed up for the game dubbed "Cylonnukah" by Matt (who, ironically, couldn't come to play).
We played with the Pegasus expansion and the Kobol destination, with only a minor house rule for Cain which didn't even matter since she Blind Jumped without scouting.

The table went like this:
Me (Leoben) [Salvage their Equipment] ->
Max (Baltar) [Cylon] ->
Ben (Cain) [Human] ->
Krista (?) (Tyrol) [Human] ->
Man Ching (Apollo) [Human] ->
John (Dee) [Cylon]

Krista and Man Ching were newbies to the game; Ben had never played with Pegasus components before; this was my first time playing a Cylon Leader.

It turned out that both of the hidden Cylons had been Cylons since the beginning of the game. Just total coincidence that they were the most experienced players with this setup at the table, so they played it well.

Early on, I got a chance to look at the Admiral Or President's loyalty card, so I took a look at Cain, and honestly said that she was Not A Cylon. I figured nobody would believe me either way, even though I had a supposedly "Sympathetic" agenda.
A few turns later, a crisis came up which ended up sending Cain to the brig. In an unusual turn of events, Baltar fessed up to spiking the check. His justification was that since I'm a Cylon Leader, I'm obviously lying.

The Cylon Attacks were piling on, but the fleet didn't have much trouble jumping ahead of them. Especially due to Cain's blind jump, which took them 2 distance at a cost of 1 population (if I remember correctly).
Pegasus didn't get used much, and took most of the hits from the Basestar fire, which made me incredibly happy due to my personal goal (Cylons Win And 2 or fewer Galactica locations are damaged).
I was starting to get worried when 2 Galactica locations were damaged; post-Sleeper phase, I had un-infiltrated and started sitting on Caprica cycling Crises, but I was drawing my blue cards just in case I'd have to hop down there and fix the ship myself.

Baltar used a Quorum card to execute Cain in the brig, and she was replaced with Adama (under the "current" rules, so he was guaranteed human). Baltar never Revealed, but Dee did.

In the end, the humans had 1 Fuel, 1 Food, 4 Morale, and 4 Population.. Unfortunately they were able to spool up to the "-3" spot and win the game by pushing the button for the last destination-free jump, despite my best efforts. The only crisis that I had seen with "-1 fuel" was also "Admiral Chooses", and by this time, Apollo held both titles.

Treachery/Reckless effects did come up a few times in the game, but they weren't all that devastating.
Scar showed up all by himself at one point, and was a complete non-entity as the fleet jumped away from him.

I really enjoyed playing Leoben, his special to muck with the Destiny Deck is really cool.
Looking forward to getting my hands on Exodus, though, of course :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Character Selection variant.

Crossposted and updated from my BoardGameGeek post:

With the release of Exodus, there are now 18 non-Cylon-Leader characters available (5 Military, 5 Political, 5 Pilots, and 3 Support).
And without Cylon Leaders, the game goes up to 6 players.

This got me thinking about a simple variant for choosing characters, and spicing up this phase of the game a bit:

At the beginning of the game, set aside the 3 Cylon Leader characters.
Shuffle the rest of the character sheets.

In turn, each player goes through the following process:

A) If a Cylon Leader hasn't been chosen yet, the player may opt to choose any one of the Cylon Leaders. Otherwise:

B) Deal 3 character sheets, face down, to the player; he chooses one. If he doesn't like any of his choices, he may draw another character sheet to choose from, at a cost of starting with one fewer skillcard at the beginning of the game. You can do this up to 3 times, reducing your starting cards by 1 each time. (If you somehow would start the game with fewer than 3 skill cards anyway, for example being Samuel Anders and going first, then you have to "pay off" this debt with the next 3 cards you would otherwise draw).
You may not tell other players which characters you did not choose, by name or special ability. You may only discuss their category (Political, Military, Pilot, Support). For example, "I choose Saul Tigh, the other 2 were Pilots". You may, of course, lie about this, but it's a little too early to be deceptive.
Put all of your unchosen character sheets on the bottom of the pile, in any order you choose.

Remember that this may throw off the rulebook "balanced character selection" rule, so this variant is not recommended for beginner players.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pandemic Report

Finally got a chance to play Pandemic with some On The Brink components last night, with the wife.

We played an Easy Mode game with the Virulent Strain, then switched to Normal Mode (5 epidemics) for a few more games with the Virulent Strain and one with the Mutation Challenge (but not with both).

Overall, it doesn't seem like the OtB additions have an enormous effect on the 2 player game. Maybe it was just lucky draws, but the only time the Virulent Strain ended up having a significant effect on us was when I was playing the Dispatcher (can move other pawns around) and she was playing the role that auto-removes a cube from a city with 2+ cubes, and we drew the effect that you can't leave a virulent city without using an action to Treat it. So I couldn't move her pawn through certain cities anymore.
In the one game we played with the Mutation Challenge, we did lose, but the purple cubes had very little to do with it. There was never a point where purple cubes spread out organically, only popping onto the table from card plays.

The point at which we lost the game (which was the case in most of our games) still does feel a little bit anticlimactic. But what can you really do about that? You have to go into this game understanding that the game just stops at a certain point.
I don't count that as a huge negative, but it is a change from other games.

Another minor negative is game setup time. Whenever you start or restart the game, you have to pull out a whole bunch of cards from the player deck, sometimes pull out cards from the infection deck, reshuffle things, deal cards out, and then reshuffle one or two more times. That can get more shuffletastically annoying than Dominion, and I'm thinking maybe I will have to sleeve the Pandemic cards after all.

I'd love to give the game more of a chance, especially trying it out with more than 2 players. And the Bioterrorist looks like a spicy little variant too.

I definitely rate it at least a GRRR.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I promise to stop with the Disabling Cain series

After this one, I think I'm going to put up a poll for the actual pre-Exodus game we're going to play.

Here is another idea to balance Blind Jump; instead of "The admiral draws only one Destination card":

Roll a die. On a 4 or less, draw and destroy an additional Civilian Ship and the Fleet jumps a distance of 0. Otherwise, the Admiral draws one Destination card and resolves it.

Simple as that, sort of like a (modifiable) 50% chance of drawing a worse version of Misjump.

Is this too strong for a Cylon Cain, though?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Disabling Cain, one more suggestion based on incomplete info

Based on the spoiler information from the latest preview of Exodus, and specifically based on the Revised Execution Rules (and incidentally on the Revised Loyalty Deck), here is a brand new idea for balancing Cain:

Leave Cain's text alone.
But, at the beginning of the game, put her aside. She cannot be chosen.
When a human is Executed, you may choose Cain as normal, amongst all of your other choices of replacement character.

Simple as that; of course, it might lead to a whole category of "set aside at the beginning of the game" characters. But since the replacement for an executed character now gets a Loyalty Card, it's plausible.

Like I said, this might be moot because of other rules in Exodus that we haven't seen yet, or (less likely) this might actually be the rule.

(And of course, it wouldn't easily apply to our actual pre-Exodus-release game, but it is an idea set aside for the future)

What do you think about these particular apples?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Disabling Cain, part deux

Here is another simple Cain Balancing Suggestion, combining some ideas from the boardgamegeek thread (although I'm sure this one will also get stabbed in the face by BGG Trolls):

Blind Jump - Action: Once per game, if at 6 or less distance, draw 2 civilian ships and destroy them to immediately jump the fleet (even if the fleet marker is on a red space).
The Admiral puts the top card of the Destination Deck aside (without looking at it), and draws the next card from the Destination Deck. After resolving the jump, put the set-aside card onto the bottom of the Destination Deck (without looking).

How about that?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Disabling Cain

It makes me really sad when the consensus on a beloved game is that a certain house rule is absolutely necessary to maintain balance and/or fun.

The latest victim here is Battlestar Galactica and our dear Admiral Helena Cain.

I was trying to get a group of people together to play a game, with the Pegasus expansion, in an as-unmodified-as-possible state, but was met with resistance on the issue of Cain.

Her Once-per-Game ability is the "Blind Jump": Blow up 2 random Civilian Ships to jump the ship as an action, to whatever the top card of the destination deck is.
All other things being equal, it counterbalances her penalty, which is that she can't push the FTL button or use the Engine Room.

The imbalance arises because of the action "Launch Scout". It's a purple card, and she draws as many as 3 purple on her turn, so it's going to happen.
So, she can look at the top Destination Card, leave it there, and significantly lower the risk of the Blindness of the jump. It may still take a few actions to find the perfect destination, but as long as she's proven herself to be human, the rest of the group is probably going to be agreeable to cooperate in scanning for good places to go.

That's the background. Most BSG players are well-familiar with the issue.

In addition to the fact that she's top in the order of succession to be Admiral, it does kind of make her a no-brainer choice, compared to Adama and Tigh's abilities.
To be honest, I don't mind this being the case, but I can see why people demand balance.

It would make me happier to get Official Errata, or some sort of clever in-game fix in the Exodus rules, than to have to resort to choosing one's favorite house rule fix.

The commonly-accepted "fix" to Cain seems to be to shuffle the Destination Deck (possibly except for the bottom card, in order to keep another ability useful) when she uses her ability.
The thing I don't like about this is that the previously-skipped destinations go back into the mix and that's a larger change on the game.

I came up with a very simple fix of my own:
By nature of it being a Blind Jump, you simply don't let Cain Blind Jump while she knows what the top card of the deck is.
That is, when she looks at the top card, she gets a marker. When the top card goes away, she drops the marker. If she has the marker, she can't use this ability.
That seems to me like it would have the least impact on the rest of the game, and wouldn't affect Cylon Cain's decision to never use the ability, for example.

Does anyone have an opinion on this?
There may be a "part 2" to the post with more suggestions...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bits and Boards and the Art of Fly Fishing

You may remember that I went out and bought a fishing tackle bag, with space for 4 Plano 3750 tackleboxes, in order to cart around my game bits.
The plan was to keep all of the boards, rulebooks, and larger bits for 3-4 games in one single box, and carry around the bits separately.

Especially with my last influx of games, this plan has kind of been neutralized.

Small World was really the impetus for the plan, and most of its current bits still fit in one tackle box, but there are enough large lumps leftover that I've brought back its box (but not the insert) to keep all of its own stuff separately.

I kinda forced Galactica into the plan, but now that I have Pegasus, the tacklebox has definitely filled out a bit. If I wanted to go to the effort of printing up 100 little tuckboxes, I could throw all the cards into the box, but as it stands, the Pegasus box is just the home for the boards, books, and character sheets.
This one may have to be modified in short order, as soon as get my grubby hands on Exodus.

The third of the original tackleboxes found a home when I brought home Power Grid. Not only does Grid have a lot of bits that need to be separated, but the box is exactly the right size to fit a Plano 3750 inside it. Was a very cool discovery.

The fourth original tacklebox still has a lot of my VTES counters of various types in it, but is bound to get repurposed someday.

I'm just thankful that Pandemic, with its expansion, fit in the original box which is smaller than one of these tackleboxes to begin with. Good on Z-Man games for providing some pretty awesome storage stuff (as well as shrinking the pawns down and re-issuing a full set) in the expansion box.

And ah yes, Dominion.. I've just finished sleeving the whole of Alchemy and Prosperity; everything fits in just the original box (with some slight modifications) and the Alchemy Box (with its insert; the "starting cards" fit nice and snugly here).

I can't wait to actually play some of these games again, after spending so much time storing the bits.. :)

Gametastic Friday

So, today (technically yesterday now) a whole lot of games arrived.
First, my Thoughthammer package which I've been waiting for since August has finally arrived! Sleeved most of the new Dominion stuff already, and played a few games with my wife. I'm so relieved to not have to bitch about that anymore.

Secondly, my copies of On the Brink (Pandemic expansion) and Pegasus (BSG expansion) also arrived today. But I didn't check that until just now; I saw the package had arrived but assumed it was something less-interesting that I had ordered.. Heh.
So hopefully we'll take the opportunity to check out at least OtB this weekend.
For the moment, Pegasus is just $25 plastic basestars ;)

More interesting posts coming.. I just wanted to get that out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More birthday gifts...

Amazon credit has been applied and some of it spent on Pandemic On The Brink, and BSG Pegasus.
I'm not actually sure if I will ever get a chance to play with my own copy of BSG with Pegasus in it, but I'm so excited about Exodus, I want to give my money to FFG :)

I may end up getting more boardgames with more credit soon, but I am also saving money for my other (HTPC) project, so I should pace myself. Plus, I still have to catch up on actually playing some of the games I've got. i.e. Power Grid.

Josh's Birthday Boardgaming Night Brief Report

So, the afternoon/evening turned out pretty well. Not as many people showed up as I thought would, but that's alright, we had a good core.

The game-playing itself started with Race for the Galaxy; not my favorite game. I like San Juan, but I have never been able to wrap my head around all the extra complexity of RftG. But I give it a chance whenever Matt wants to play it. There were only 3 of us, and 2 of them play this game A LOT 2-player, so I knew I had no chance while I was more "moseying for the galaxy".
In the first game, I was going for a "Rebel" strategy, but really spent more time collecting things with the Rebel keyword than paying attention to my score.
In the second game, I started with an "Alien" strategy, but (as Jen pointed out) if you buy an expensive Alien location on turn 1-2, you spend the rest of the game Exploring and you lose.

Next came a game of Small World, when some more showed up. We played with the Necromancer Island expansion, so there were 4 "regular" players and 1 Necromancer.
The jury is still out on this variant. It seems like the only way to prevent Nerg^H^Hcromancer from winning is to sit there and be peaceful, and only attack as much as it takes to keep your slight edge in coins. The basic thing is, whenever a unit dies, it becomes 25% of a ghost. And when 14 ghosts are on the board, Necro wins.
Now, the game did last until the last turn, and the Special Necro Powers were particularly useful for a "Necromancer sits on his hands and is unattackable" strategy, but he still ended up winning.
I can't say I'm entirely faultless; I chose a few super-aggressive race/power combinations and "had no choice" but to keep attacking.
There may be some other subtlety of the NI rules that we missed; I'm willing to try it again.
It also worked out pretty well to use the Leader Tokens as randomizers for the races, although we didn't actually incorporate the Leader mechanic.

After that, we played a game of Citadels. Not much to report about that one.
Except the whole crew was getting pretty punchy by this point.

Then, most people went home, and it was down to me and Mike (Talita had also gone to bed). We played a couple of 2-player games of Pandemic before calling it a night. We lost the first one due to too many outbreaks (with some killer chain reactions), and we won the second one. Parts of the game do seem anticlimactic (at least with 2 players), but I still like it.

Dominion was suggested, but not played. That one will come out next time, really really hopefully with the expansions I'm missing.

If I think of anything else to add, I will probably re-edit this post, so please watch this space carefully.

Who knows when I will be able to do something like this again?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pandemic Report #1

Not quite enough to say about the game yet to justify a BGG Session Report or Review, but Talita and I just played 2 "intro level" games of Pandemic, and I really quite enjoyed it.
We won the first game, but it seemed tense, lots of Outbreaks.
The second game started out seeming easier, but we ran out of cards; discarded too much Yellow early and didn't realize it. :(

I have heard that people think the Operations Expert is underpowered, so much so that the expansion gives him more abilities.
But this role was in both of our games, and I found him to be pretty useful, mostly for curing a disease when you have the right hand without moving.
Maybe after a few more games, I'll notice it.

But yeah, so far, I rate Pandemic a GRRRR

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Birthday present

And my latest birthday present, Pandemic, will get played this weekend, and hopefully before then.. :)
That is all.

Just so this isn't a dumb twitter-like post, here's a question:
Is the Pandemic "On the Brink" expansion considered to be ESSENTIAL, or is it something like BSG Pegasus where it changes the game but you can always play the normal way?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Be Not Afraid...

...the new Small World expansion and mini-expansion have arrived!

So now the only thing I don't have for SW is Tales and Legends, which is stuck with the Dominion Prosperity shipment :(

But I have all of the "normal" expansions, with all the races and powers.
And all of the bits still fit in my tacklebox (more or less).

Will be happy to play this one on Saturday.
Necromancer Island should be interesting...

Monday, November 8, 2010

More like FARThammer

If you're reading this, take my advice:
Do not ever order gaming materials from Thoughthammer ( ).

I'm sure that when things go well, they go well.

But when there is a problem, their customer service department is completely unwilling to assist.

In my specific case, Dominion Prosperity is still very much delayed and this so-called "September release date preorder" probably won't arrive before my birthday gathering on November 20th. (Even if it does, I don't take these comments back)

This order of mine contained a couple of other items that are long-since released. The least they could do for people in my situation is offer to split the shipments. However, when "Carrie" at Thoughthammer was presented with this option, she said this was only possible if I paid shipping for both orders separately. And she and I both know that's not what I meant.

I've had good luck with other companies giving back something to the customers when there's trouble, but Thoughthammer's not getting any more of my business.

Wah wah wah wah wah wah, I'm a nerd ranting on the internet, I know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Media Center Musings, Chapter 3

With amazing timing, it has been announced that Playstation 3 is getting an app to access Hulu Plus, which was a piece of my home theater puzzle.
I had been thinking about Google TV, Boxee, and Roku, but if the PS3 can access Hulu itself, then that's the one major source that I was going to need.

After a test watching a streaming video last night on the ps3, the fan sound wasn't that distracting.

And today, I went out and bought a TV antenna (which looks more like a laptop; a big flat black shiny thing). Will hook it up tonight and see what kind of Over-The-Air content we can get...

So now I'm thinking, if the Over-The-Air quality is good enough, maybe the solution is not a box that streams the content we're missing, but a box that can replace what we're really losing; the DVR component?

The saga continues...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Media Center musings continued...

Since it would start saving us money pretty soon, there is another option.
Google TV is, obviously, a "bit" more expensive than boxeebox.
And neither of them does 100% of the "media center stuff" that would be ideal.

But in the same price range as Google TV, there is the option of these "roll your own media center" boxes.
I explored this idea a long time ago and I don't know why I abandoned it (maybe price, maybe forgetting to factor in the lack of cable box).
It's basically a half-size computer, with graphics and network optimized for video streaming, just as much (or as little) local storage as the google/boxee options, runs linux and/or windows (and can run boxee software for sure), can run a normal browser for Hulu/Netflix/what-have-you streaming without workarounds, has remote control all ready to go, and even a DVD (or Bluray?) drive for disc playback, etc etc.

I think this warrants further investigation, but it for sure involves more setup and involvement in maintenance than the other ones. And again, is probably about twice as expensive as the BoxeeBox itself.

Rambling on... this may not be the last entry on the subject....

A non-gaming post: On Home Media and the evils of Cable TV

I have a lot to say about this, and I have a blog, and a lot of gamers are tech geeks, so here's a bit of a digression.

Recently, a lot of options have opened up with "home media players" that stream content directly over the internet, or allow you to watch your own content easily, which can completely eliminate a cable box1. We pay almost $100 a month just for the TV portion of our cable bill, and really don't watch all that much TV, so this is an avenue the whole family would love to explore.

I've been weighing the pros and cons of a few of them lately, especially between Google TV and the "Boxee Box".

Now, being an Android2 fanatic, I was all excited about Google TV! Android apps and a Chrome Browser on TV! Holy crap that sounds awesome!

But after doing some research, it looks like Google TV is too much and too little at the same time. It does more than a media center does, but doesn't have the prettiest interface and also doesn't support all the codecs you can throw at it.

So, Boxee is actually better, for my needs.

Now, Boxee is free software that I could run on a computer. Why spend $200 on that? Well.. first of all, the computer I could really run it on has a fan that makes some noise. Second of all, it would involve installing an IR port, linux drivers for an IR port, and getting some generic Universal Remote and needing to program it, etc etc, which probably would cost far more than $200 of hassle to set up in a way that doesn't require an engineering/CS degree to use the system.
(Never mind all of the background stuff it might be doing). I am a fan of dedicated hardware, at least in this idiom.

There's another option:
We have a PS3. The PS3 is equipped to run limited Media Center Client Software.
In fact, other than the XMB interface being a teensy bit ugly, that would almost work. I can even run a PS3-specific back end media server to automatically play my own video files in a format that the PS3 is happy to play.
Unfortunately, what PS3 lacks is the ability (for contractual reasons, not technical ones) to connect to streaming sites like Hulu.
There are back-end solutions to this, but the only one I really know about is PlayOn which requires yet another piece of server software specifically running on Windows somewhere3, and makes the experience a little uglier as well. It's cheaper than a boxee box ($80 for a lifetime subscription), though.

I think the best solution for us is a combination of these:
TV Antenna, for watching over-the-air realtime content (unfortunately without DVR capabilities)
BoxeeBox, for watching all the internet streaming media.
PS3/DVD player4, for watching disc-based content and occasionally stuff that Boxee doesn't support but PS3 somehow does.
(all with a back-end media server application running on my linux server, to handle some of the content)

There is a lot of overlap between what Boxee and PS3 can do, especially if we traveled down the dark road of Torrenting TV shows ("poor man's DVR").
So it's possible that we can experiment with that for awhile too.

Another factor is fan noise.. The PS3 can get awfully loud when playing a bluray disc; if it is always going to make that level of noise while playing streaming content, then it's not much better than the "move the desktop machine into the living room" option anyway.

I think I'm babbling in no particular direction now.
So, well, your thoughts?

1other than a few things that Must Be Watched Live like sports, but let's face it...)
2the portable device platform, not the boardgame or literal robots
3of all of the machines we have in the house, what we don't have is a Windows machine that could dedicate itself to serving this sort of content, especially on a wired connection.
4Our Home Theater Receiver has a built-in DVD player, which we usually use to play DVD discs because it's a 5-disc changer; in the ultimate future plans, that will go away with a replacement receiver that can handle more variety of inputs, but for now it is part of the setup.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A question for the Magic players

Along the lines of my previous post. A question of curiosity.

So, I'm not really that likely to go out and buy Magic cards any time soon.
But for the sake of this blog post, let's assume that I am a player who used to play Magic, quit the game and got rid of all of his cards about 15 years ago, and was interested in starting anew.

When I played Magic, I didn't participate much in the "tournament scene". I was a pure casual player. I maybe played in 2 or 3 tournaments and didn't make much of a showing.

If I were to buy Magic cards today, it would be just enough to create 2 casual decks that are balanced against each other, to sit on a shelf and occasionally pull out to pass the time, perhaps even to play with my wife or (when he's old enough to sit still at a table holding a hand of cards) my son. So the tournament rules are not that important.
That being said, I hate going out and buying cards for a still-living game that are not legal to play with outside of my bubble. It bugs me.

A note on the word "legal": I am strictly talking about the Magic "Type 2" format here; I understand that there are formats where you can play with most cards since Day 1, but those formats don't really apply to the hypothetical "starting the game with only new cards" player.*

With VTES, that was never a problem; other than an extremely small ban list (most of which were banned for mechanical reasons rather than power reasons), every card since 1994 is perfectly legal to put into a deck. There aren't even any technical deckbuilding restrictions other than the Grouping Rule.
With Magic (as far as I understand), there is only a list of five cards that *are* guaranteed to be legal from the dawn of history until the end of time: the Basic Lands.

So, I came across this product called the "Deckbuilder's Toolkit". It's cheap. Almost cheap enough to buy one anyway for a one-time goof.
But the question arises: What is the legality of the cards contained within? Are they currently legal and when will they stop being legal? (by the above definition of "legal")

If they are not currently legal, or will 'expire' soon, then what is the current recommendation you'd give to a brand new player starting from scratch and wanting a cheap start?
Would you still recommend the Toolkit anyway?

Please be as specific as you can with answers. Don't talk to me as if I'm a Magic player who understands all the formats and the culture of the game. Talk to me as if I'm oblivious and found this game on a shelf, and you want to make sure I make the right decision.

Yes, this is still just a matter of hypothetical curiosity.

Bonus question:
Let's say that the latest "block" has Serra Angel in it (which I think it does). Let's say I am a player who played "back in the day" and still had my original cards.
Would it be legal for me to include my Beta-printing Serra Angels in a modern tournament-legal deck?

(VTES does have that strange quirk that, even though all cards are legal, you can't use any new-expansion cards within 30 days of release, even if they're reprints of otherwise-easy-to-acquire commons).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dark Secrets

Gods help me, I've been reading about the latest iteration of rules to Magic recently and.. mechanically it seems really solid; in a lot better shape than where I last left it.

I don't want to get back into "the scene", and I definitely don't want to get started spending money on cards. But I am curious.

There is no point to this post, I guess :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bring in the cat!

A favorite game of VTES players everywhere, Battlestar Galactica, is getting an all-new expansion with lots of cool goodies.
Things like "You are not a cylon" cards with agendas or penalties, a Cylon Fleet board, and NPCs.
It all looks pretty sweet.

I may or may not get Pegasus, but I do definitely want this one from the description.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Good question!

My wife asked me what I want for my birthday from her (and from my son).
My birthday's coming up in mid-November.

So, of course, one of the categories of "things I might want for my birthday" is games, stuff that's relevant to this blog.
But I'm not sure what I would prioritize in that category, especially knowing that I have Dominion and Small World stuff on preorder.

So, any suggestions out there?
I think a prime criterion in this context would be something that's playable with 2, so that it isn't a "thank you, now I'll put it on a shelf until I can play it" type of game. And of course, not too hardcore-gamery, so that she'll actually enjoy playing it; she does like Dominion, Carcassonne, and that Euro Style of game.

Board games may not be exactly what I end up responding with anyway, but there sure are a lot I'd like to try.

On a related note, I'm considering using my birthday as an excuse for another "board game day" anyway. I'll keep you posted where appropriate.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I didn't expect this blog to mostly be about Dominion

My preorder from Dominion Prosperity is still promising a ship date of September 2010, so I'm hoping that a time machine is included in the box.
It's sad, because the only reason I ordered from ThoughtHammer was that they accept Paypal, and other sites with preorders for the game are definitely shipping now.
But I'll live.

But my disdain for Rio Grande Games is balanced out by their customer service department:

Last Monday, there were only 3 of us for VTES Night initially, so we played a few rounds of Dominion, including one with a random Russian woman who insisted that we play a game with her.

Anyway, in expanding the setup to 12 of each victory card (which I usually don't do, since 90% of my Dominion games are just me and Talita), it was discovered that, at least by the end of the night, there were only 11 Estates (in addition to the starting hands of course).

That's actually not a huge deal, for a few reasons:
1) As mentioned, most of my Dominion games are 2-player, in which only 8 Estates are used.
2) Even in 3-4 player setups, it is a really rare occurrence for it to be worth it for all of the Estates to get bought up.
3) I have an abundance of blank Dominion cards with proper backs. And nobody would care about a proxied Estate.
4) I also own Intrigue, which has a whole other set of basic cards -- the only down side here is that I couldn't play 2 simultaneous 4-player games with my set with all non-proxied cards. Boo hoo hoo.

The extra Estate was probably lost somewhere in my house, and may turn up someday...

But I thought I would contact Rio Grande anyway, to assess the likelihood of replacing it.
They got back to me, saying that for a grand total of $2, they would replace my one measly Estate.

A bit pricey, considering the 4 statements above, and the only real reason for me needing to replace it being my Gamer OCD issues.

So I remembered that one of my copies of Market (a very popular card when it shows up) is totally bent, thanks to a pre-sleeving shuffle screwup during our time on the cape. It really hasn't come up as a problem post-sleeving, but "I know".

For $2, they'll replace both of those. And that satisfies me enough.
I could have requested more cards.. like 4 extras of each basic card to account for future problems, or whatever.. but I didn't want to get greedy, and really this is more than I even needed to do in the first place.

I suppose I could have asked him to throw in a copy of Prosperity ... ;)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BrettSpielWelt (skip if you hate Dominion, John Eno)

For a little while, I've been hanging out and playing Dominion (and thinking about trying other games) on BrettSpielWelt, a nice German online-boardgames site.

It is definitely a different, and inferior, experience to playing these sorts of games face to face.
Faster setup and teardown is wonderful, but is met with the problems of network issues, players mysteriously dropping, a pace that is too fast, lack of trash talk, and turning it into a pure mechanical and mathematical exercise.

But what I came here to say about it was:
I've never played the Dominion Alchemy expansion before; I've got it on order, to arrive along with my preorder of Prosperity.
I have heard that the game is "best" with 3 to 5 cards from Alchemy or none at all.
However, in my experience on BSW with "all random", at least purely mechanically, it doesn't seem too disruptive to have just 1 or 2 Alchemy cards in the mix.
When you normally play Dominion, there are typically a couple of cards in the Supply that just don't get bought anyway.. and this doesn't seem to grossly affect that. And it still gives you an option; sometimes just Golem in the supply is worth buying a few Potions, or whatever. It really depends on the environment.
(Also, I've had my good 4-cost cards Swindled into Potions countless times; that's really obnoxious.)

So, I think I will favor "all-random", or at least "not artificially affecting the number of Alchemy cards in the Supply", when I end up owning this expansion, and we'll see how it goes.
Adding both Alchemy and Prosperity to the card universe at the same time is going to lead to a lot sparser distribution of cards from any particular set anyway.

As for the BSW interface.. well, at least games are over in 20 minutes or less, as opposed to JOL or BSG PBF.. ;)

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Posted to this morning:
I have not posted a formal, general, thanks to this thread yet, other than
in specific reply to LSJ.
I just want to say a few things:
First, yes, thank you to Oscar for trying to keep his favorite game (no, not
Racer Knights) alive in the corporate eyes. And for all of his dedication
to the game from long before he was getting a paycheck from WWCCP.

Thank you to LSJ, for taking on the task of not only *design* for this game,
but in-place redesign, in order to manage balance issues while keeping nearly
every card ever printed tournamet-legal. And for tolerating Stupid Questions
(which show no sign of stopping).

Thank you to those who keep the VEKN running on a volunteer basis.

Thank you to Prescott Jenner, for pulling me in to the Boston VTES Group back
in 2001 in response to some of my early Stupid Questions on the newsgroup.
And to many people named Ben, Matt, Kevin, Chris, or John (ok, there are more
names than that, but this covers a lot of people) who have been at Boston
VTES with me for the last 10 years.

Thank you to the international community of VTES players who have always
been welcoming, generally friendly, and often entertaining.

But all those thankyous being said, "Ceasing Production" does not mean the
game is over.

The only thing that is stopping here is the physical and legal printing of
new cards.
There are thousands of cards; thousands of potential decks (both Josh-esque
and Tier 1), which haven't even been thought of yet.
Other than, perhaps, Poor Group 6, a hiatus from getting new cards printed
would actually be beneficial to people's creative juices. And, seeing
current circumstances as they are, maybe there will be Final Official Errata
turning all the G6 vampires into G5, I dunno. Why not?

The VEKN is pretty much entirely player-run.
The game design has always been influenced by the players, and "fan
expansions" are totally not out of the question.
The game is still fun.

And, if all else fails, it is about the community.
VTES players love to play games. VTES players are *good* at games in
ways that non-VTES players are not, drawing on the skills unique to this
game. Play your BSG and your Chaos in the Old World and your Dominion with
other VTES players, and you'll have just as rewarding of an experience.

I say don't raise up your torches and pitchforks against CCP and WotC and
RSD over all of this. Continue to play the game, continue to play games
with your VTES mates, and see if you even notice the Cessation Of Production
in the next several months.

Thanks for reading.
Josh "Jozxyqk" Feuerstein
Former Prince of Boston
Asker of Silly Questions
MSPainter of Silly Art
Player of Games

Friday, September 10, 2010


If you're reading this, you probably know the news. V:TES is Ceasing Production (again).
I've been playing the game since early 2001, and will continue to play it until there aren't 3 other people to play with anymore.

As much as this wasn't unexpected, it's still significant.
I will spare you most of the history lesson; most of my personal history with VTES was already written down in my eulogy for Your Move Games anyway
I've met so many cool people through VTES, I'm happy that this news doesn't break those connections.
And the thing about VTES players is, they're very good at the types of games I like to play. Being sneaky, calculating and secretive, has become a part of so many newer games.. Glad that I can still pull from that pool of folks.

The game won't evaporate; it has lived without corporate sponsorship before, and it will do it again; so I don't think I'm going to blather on much more.

I'm just glad that my artwork managed to get onto a card before the game died.

But I do know someone who's sad:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Stuff Ordered

With money gained from some recent VTES ebay auctions, I have put in an order to Thoughthammer (because I've heard of them and because they take paypal) for a couple of things: Dominion Prosperity, Dominion Alchemy (which I wouldn't have bought right now if it weren't "free"), and Small World Tales and Legends (which I wouldn't have bought without an official online FAQ if it weren't "free").

So, perhaps Small World will go back into "the rotation" for a while -- they've got another expansion (or two?) coming before the end of the year, which more ebay funds might go towards.

None of this is going to get shipped until TH has Prosperity in stock, but that should be within the next few weeks and maybe I'll have another excuse to do EliCon 2...

Of course there are still a bunch of other games I wouldn't mind getting in this "effectively for free" category:
Pandemic's popularity may have been vaccinated (har har!), but Talita might enjoy playing it 2p with me..
There's always Pegasus..
Betrayal at House on the Hill's re-issue is on my radar..
Defenders of the Realm is, sort of -- a co-op game with "a winner" but no Traitor.
I could go on, but the more important stuff is about what I *did* buy, not what I *might*...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Galactica, you and me need to have a talk

Last night, I was number 6 to arrive at VTES night.
(Yes, I made the evening-gown joke, and yes it was just as bad as you think. So stop.)

After a rousing game of VTES where my cruddy Marconius+Krassimir vote deck managed to win a 6 (ugh) player game (partly thanks to my grandpredator's Anathema giving me 10 yummy pool), we decided to play Galactica.

Now, see, I like Galactica. I think it's a great game.
But the last 2 games have soured it a bit for me.
In the EliCon game, the humans lost before the sleeper phase, due to randomness and unfavorable crisis deck shuffling; mechanically a total flop. The No Sympathizer rule didn't even enter into it, but you've heard my feelings on that.

In last night's game, which used Pegasus (but not New Caprica), another house rule was introduced to me:
If there is a Cylon Leader in an even-number-of-players game, he modifies the Loyalty Deck to ensure that there won't be 3-on-3 cylon-vs-human action.
I was on the Human side, playing Ellen Tigh, and didn't feel like we were ever in danger or challenged at all. I didn't ever even feel the need to use my special abilities, and spent the whole game tossing Treachery cards into the Engine Room boilers.
And, even though Morale got down to 1, it still seemed like an easy win for the Humans.
The Cylon Leader (John "Eno" Cavil) had a Hostile Agenda, and so the house rule dictated that there was only one other Cylon. It was Admiral Cain (played by Chris), who didn't get her Cylon Loyalty until post-sleeper phase after blasting us 6 distance forward.
Had there been another Cylon loyalty card in circulation (as per the standard rules), then there would have been a lot more sense of tension in the room; granted, the Cylons probably would have won in that case, but I think it would have been a more interesting game.
Despite winning, it kind of gave me a "meh" feeling about the game; especially the feeling by most players that House Rules are necessary "to balance things", when in fact they often don't matter or don't actually balance the game in the intended way.

I still don't know if I'm ever going to pick up Pegasus.
But whenever I am in charge of setting the "House Rules" for a game of BSG, I'm always going to be in favor of being minimally invasive.
That is, when playing the Base Game, leave the Sympathizer in a 6p game (unless someone twists my arm real hard) and only use the new rules from Pegasus that apply to the base game, and no other "house rules". I'd even love to play an "as-written" BSG base game sometime, which isn't really that outrageous. The Forum game I played (which barely counts) used completely unmodified base rules and I didn't have too much of a problem with, for example, old Investigative Committee...

When playing Pegasus, I'll encourage playing by the rules as-written, except for the choice between New Caprica (which I'd love to try, incidentally) or not.
You can say I'm overthinking it in the other direction, but as much as I love inventing house rules and variants, I really want to try the game as-is to be able to judge the imbalances for myself. Because, in my observation, none of the Major house rules (especially the respective No Third Cylon rules) have really accomplished what they set out to accomplish in the games I've played with them.

Ideally this game would get another expansion; there's plenty of plot left to work with, and I've even written down a bunch of ideas for a "wish list" for an expansion that covers the rest of the show.
I'm not holding my breath on that, but I'm sure it would address balance issues once again in its own way.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

EliCon Report (brief)

EliCon was a total success.
First of all, the namesake was a really good sleeper. He got up twice, confused by the noise downstairs, but went right back to bed when I went to talk to him.

There were about 12 people who showed up, and I didn't get to play games with every single one of them, and that's OK.

Apart from a few timefiller games (We Didnt Playtest This, which lives up to its name, and Fluxx), I got in a 4player game of Dominion (in which the winner, not me, gave 8 curses to everyone with Sea Hag), and the 6 player game of Galactica that I was itching for.
Unfortunately, the Galactica game was a big clusterfrak :)
A decision was made to play with the No Sympathizer Rule, but it didn't matter (or actually hurt us due to lowered resources) because we Humans lost before the Sleeper Phase, due to a Cylon Adama and an atypically large number of Cylon Attacks and other nasty crises.

A bunch of other games got played; Small World, one of my other favorites lately, was not one of them.
The only game I really would have liked to try and didn't get a chance to was Chaos In The Old World; maybe next time.

Could totally envision doing something like this again, especially with Talita actually in town so she can participate too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A couple of announcements

First, once again, this Saturday night is theoretically going to be rife with boardgame playing at my house. Contact me for info.

Second, do not be alarmed if my avatar disappears; my phone updated to the newest and greatest version of Android, which caused my photos to sync from picasa (which is where images are apparently hosted when they go onto blogger blogs), which led me to realize that I had not one, but eight identical pictures of Ossian up there; in an effort to clean up the mess, I'm deleting them a few at a time and then I'll re-upload if my avatar dies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


No kidding.. Someone just made a pretty sizeable purchase from my printfection store.
I don't make any money off of it and I don't get to see who makes the orders.
But that's still pretty awesome.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ran out of Toast

The BSG PBF game has finally ended, with a Cylon victory.
At 1 food left, with an unrevealed Cylon President (on his turn), Starbuck used her once-per-game special to dump Water Shortage, and it was replaced with Food Shortage.

I was going to post a long thing about the game, but really the thread speaks for itself.
As the Sympathizer, I was the only "revealed Cylon" all game (technically, one action before endgame, Apollo revealed in an XO, but that had no effect on the game).
I got to deliver some custom-tailored crises without activating the jump icons, which did contribute to our victory, but it is really not that fun a role especially after skipping turn 1 for "Helotosis".

I may or may not try the Play By Forum system again, but if I get on the waiting list now it will be for a game that goes through Christmas Break and I don't want to deal with that sort of delays, so I will wait.

Hoping to get a "real" game of it soon, but so far there aren't many responses to my Board Game Day invitation, so I don't know when it will happen.

Link to the game.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

EliCon 2010

So, who amongst my loyal readership would be interested in getting together at my place on August 20 (Fri) or August 21 (Sat), after 7pm, for a bit of boardgaming?
And if either, which is better?

I am hoping to have 5 or more people at the house, and would like to be able to play at least one "long" game (i.e. Galactica).

The reason for starting after 7 is that hopefully Eli will be asleep. Mommy is out of town that weekend and Daddy is stuck at home.

Contact me either over email or with a comment here and I'll disperse details. But I don't think there are too many "locals" who follow this blog anyway.

(For those who read the blog and somehow don't know where I live, it is in the Greater Boston area; I'll give out my address on a need-to-know basis)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hot Potato

Someone* posted to the Dominion forums on boardgamegeek asking for recommendations for cards that cost 1 money. I posted something as a joke, and he ended up mocking it up as a card template.

I give you:
Hot Potato

* I actually know who "buggy" is; he and I have been at Intercon at the same time although I don't know if we've ever LARPed together, and I doubt he recognizes my BGG persona.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Geek D'oh!

Looks like they're retiring the concept of , and reverting to the "canonical" idea of separate boardgamegeek and rpggeek (and now videogamegeek) sites. I'm sure nobody cares, I barely care, but it's the URL I got used to using.. Uh.. that is all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

VTES auctions

Also, for those who play VTES, I'm starting to put up some auctions of cards.
No specific game-quittery reason, but I am trying to convert some VTES into boardgame budget, in both time and money.

The first experiment in this batch is 2 Jyhad-backed Parity Shifts.
My ebay userid is "jozxyqk", I won't put a direct link here because it's not that kind of blog.

Once that auction ends, I'm going to use its funds towards the listing fees for a whole bunch of other cards.

Meanwhile, just the "excess commons that aren't even worth auctioning" piles are getting unbearably large (maybe like 15,000 just in overflow so far, including from the last cleanup round, and I'm only up to sorting the H's, so I expect at least another 2000 or so "junk" cards) and are either going to want to be donated/cheaply-sold pretty soon or they'll end up being trashed the next time we move or something :/

Anybody interested in a bulk purchase of a huge ton of assorted cards? Shipping costs will be a bitch, so locals are preferred.

As if you care..

Bought Dominion Intrigue last night; can't wait to try out these cards.
I found out I had about $5.50 more in store credit at Pandemonium than I thought I did, so basically my store credit balanced out the $16 in parking fees I have had to pay in the last couple of weeks (I actually found a free space this time).

There's also the storage question, again.. meh. I won't bore you with that, I promised no more OCD.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Previously on Battlestar Galactica...

This Play By Forum game is still going on, in case you were interested...

What I can say is this:
Helo started the game stranded on Caprica.
At the Sleeper Phase, he discovered his loyalty to his wife's people, revealing himself as the Sympathizer, and started to camp out.. back on Caprica.

Why did I even bother stepping on board?

This is going to be a long endgame.
(Although it does seem to be in the favor of the Cylons so far...)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The last OCD Dominion post.. for now

Just finished sleeving all* of my Dominion cards.

Since I got the 3 promos from boardgamegeek -- most importantly Black Market and Stash -- I had to think a bit about how to "sort" things.

So this is what I ended up with:

1) Put all of the blue-backed "placeholders" aside; don't sleeve them, don't use them.
2) Create a new "randomizer deck" out of 1 of each of the regular-backed cards, to be used instead of the Android program I've been using ...
3) .... except use a blank, with "STASH" written in sharpie, instead of the differently-backed Stash, for total purity in randomization. This is the one case where I'll have to go digging into the box if a card is bought from black market, but I think it's the lessest evil.

I might backpedal on 3, and replace it with an actual copy of Stash, and no tears will be shed about the sharpie marks anyway... but I'll see how it goes for now. It only matters in the case of:
* Black Market in the Supply
* Stash not in the Supply
* Drawing Stash as one of the Black Market choices.

which is a pretty rare event, mathematically speaking anyway.

And my ultimate plan is to eventually put all the cards into a box tall enough to stand up a card vertically (such as the original box with some dividers shoved in), and use the blue-backed cards as dividers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Power Grid review

(hopefully to be cross-posted to BGG)

Ah, Power Grid.
One of the top 10 rated games on boardgamegeek, it must be awesome, right?

So when my 2-year-old son (with mommy's assistance) got it for me for Father's Day, I was excited and eager to play.
Unfortunately, it's not well-touted as a 2-player game, so my wife and I played lots of Dominion (the other gifted game) and we had to wait until an appropriate time to play this one.

For the July 4th week, we were fortunate to be renting a beach house with another 2 couples, both very gamer-friendly. One of the couples was experienced in playing Grid, so that was good.
So then we all sat down for a 6 player game.

Russ insisted that we play with the "alternate power plant deck" (the official expansion that he brought) because it was somehow better; being my first time playing, I said fine that's OK.

Immediately upon opening the box, I noticed something mildly disappointing: the components.
The board is great, the instruction book is great, the power plant cards are great.
The paper money is annoying and makes it feel like Monopoly, but tolerable.
But the wooden bits were of awful quality.
Aside from one of the Green houses being "flat-roofed", none of the pieces seemed to be symmetrically cut. Houses with uneven rooves, octagonal nuclear fuel which was completely lopsided.. easily ignorable when not looking closely, but sloppy!

The basic rules involve auctioning off randomly-drawn power plants, buying cities to power with those plants, and getting money back from your powered cities. As the game progresses, things get more expensive, and the game ends when a certain number of cities are owned by a single player, but that doesn't necessarily mean that player wins; you count how many cities you are powering instead.

I really didn't know what was going on at first, so I bought too many cities early instead of focusing on better plants. Pretty much as a direct result, I came in dead last.

Overall I enjoyed the game and I would like to play again now that I have a better idea of how it works. And I will try to ignore the poor-quality wooden bits.

From one play, I'll give it a GRRR.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dominion Promo Cards

My order from the boardgamegeek store has arrived: The 3 Dominion Promo cards, including the dreaded Black Market. We'll see how that goes.

and yes, I know I still need to post my Power Grid review amongst other things...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gaming on Vacation.. coming soon..

Over the last week, on vacation with a few other couples, we played some of my games (unfortunately not Galactica).
Watch here and boardgamegeek for when I get around to posting reviews/session reports.
Short version: We played the hell out of Dominion (sleevelessly!) and everyone had a good time, and my first experience with Power Grid was a major loss and disappointment with components, but still fun and willing to play again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dream of a "gaming store"

Today, the death of Your Move Games truly sinks in; it is Monday, the day for our weekly VTES meeting. We'll be in Pandemonium which won't feel like "home" yet.

It got me to thinking; one of the reasons Your Move closed down was that it was not profitable as a store. Makes sense, actually.

So what if there were a "gaming store" that wasn't a store at all? If I had the capital, I wonder if this would make money. Here are my dream features of My Game Store:

* We rent tables. From the round ones all the way up to The Sultan. Cost depends on the tables; we can also supply tablecloths or you can bring your own.

* We have clean and well-maintained bathroom facilities.

* We have quality Air Conditioning and Heating.

* We have demo games available for people to play.

* We can host special events, and we allow you to advertise.

* We have (non-free, but secure) wifi, and possibly a small bank of Internet Cafe style computers.

* We have at least one soundproof room with a door that closes.

* We are open as early/late as local laws allow.


* We do not sell games ourselves, but we will special-order items.

* We will ship your gaming things or allow you to ship things to us. (This led me to think, maybe there's a UPS Store inside the place that is a source of income from the general public)

Is this a realistic fantasy? For now, it's just a dream; I don't have money or time to open a new business, but I wonder if it would work.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dominion triple session report

The following is a session report that I'm attempting to post on geekdo:

So, I had played Dominion once before, at a con: 2 sessions, once with the basic cards ("hmm.. interesting") and once with a random choice from everything including Black Market ("ack! no! make it stop! what the heck is going on?!").

Months later, the Father's Day present "from my 2 year old son" would include Dominion and Seaside.

So, naturally, I was thankful and willing to give the game a try, and so was my wife who didn't really know anything about the game except that it was on my amazon wishlist. She has played and enjoyed several eurogames with me in the past: Settlers, Carcassonne, San Juan, Bohnanza, to name a few.

For our first game together, we used the basic ten cards. Neither of us had much of an early-game strategy, but I was coaching her along without railroading her. By mid-game I had a little engine of Mine + Remodel going to be able to have 3 gold in my hand pretty consistently, so I won that game: I had 6 of the Provinces, and the final score was 46 to 29. Really not that much a blowout.

Our second game was a random selection of Kingdom Cards just from the basic set: Chapel, Feast, Festival, Gardens, Mine, Moat, Spy, Thief, Throne Room, Witch.
With 3 Attacks on the table, the Moat was definitely a popular choice. And we were both quick to pick up on the nuances of Throne Room. Throne Rooming the Witch was a popular gambit, of course. We both bought a few Chapels, but neither of us used them.
My wife ended up buying a few more Duchies than I had realized, so the game ended with us both having 4 Provinces, but she won the game 42 to 36.

For our third game we finally opened up Seaside. Still using the cards for randomization, I was a little worried I hadn't shuffled the randomizers well. Witch.. Throne Room.. this looks familiar.
But the other eight Kingdom Cards were all from Seaside.
Ambassador, Caravan, Cutpurse, Embargo, Fishing Village, Ghost Ship, Haven, Island (plus the aforementioned Throne Room and Witch).
We were rightfully worried about no defense and some annoying Attacks.
I started with 5 monies (Side note: we keep calling the units of currency "Gold", which is confusing with the actual "Gold" card; what is the common word for the currency?) and so I bought a Witch, then an Embargo, and was able to immediately Embargo Witches, which never got bought again. And Throne Room + Witch many times throughout the game.
After my wife's Ambassador served some Curses back to me, I ended up Embargoing the Ambassador as well. But my wife ended the game with eight curses.
It was my wife who correctly ruled on Throne Room + Island before I went to look it up (I thought maybe the Throne Room got set aside too), so it made me a little proud of my rules lawyer :)
Unfortunately for her, the game did not end well. I had 52 points; she stopped counting out of (friendly, in-game) frustration as her Curses started dropping her below 20.
And incidentally, this was also our first game to end with the "3 empty piles" rule: Curses, Islands, and Duchies.

In the end, most importantly, we both enjoyed the game.
I can't wait for some sessions with 3 or 4 people (with my wife or otherwise); should get a chance at that soon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last update about Dominion sleeves, I swear

I placed an order, with "in-store pickup" at the store around the corner from my house.

As a thanks, here's a plug for them:

Hobby Bunker
33 Exchange Street, Malden, MA

Generally speaking, from my few times in the store, they seem to specialize more in Miniatures War Gaming than in the types of games I focus on. But by all means, please check them out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That poll up there

So that was partly a test of how polls work in blogger, but very interesting results. An overwhelming majority are suggesting sleeves.
Even though I am not a big fan of sleeving cards for CCGs, I can see how they'll help in Dominion; a lot of cards that have to be carried around to everywhere you play, a larger variety of greasy hands on the cards, a giant variance in the amount of use/wear goes on to different card types, etc.

I'm surprised at how many votes there are for the "expensive" sleeves, though.
Cheap sleeves can split, but my plan is to buy enough extras that surgery can happen in realtime.

It does look, though, like the next "expansion" I'm going to get for Dominion is "2000 penny-sleeves" from Mayday; not quite a penny each (about 1.7¢ each plus whatever shipping is*), but close, and enough sleeves to cover all the existing expansions plus the next one that isn't out yet and the promos, with leftovers for that surgery.

As for the arduous task of doing the sleeving, it can be a gradual process. You can pop a card into a sleeve as you draw it, so that's how a good portion of it will probably get done.

I will let the poll go to completion, but I think I've already made this decision.

Thank you for your input.

I suppose there's still an open question about laminating/"sleeving" the big pirate ship playmat things from Seaside, but I feel like that's significantly less of an issue.

And as for card storage of multiple sets, I'm going to come up with something; most likely I'm going to cut my own dividers and put them in the base box. I'll post a picture if it works and looks nice. I just want to maximize portability.

* "Whatever shipping is" apparently is a whopping $10.. or free if I can pick it up from a game store. I'm trying to get in touch with the "hobby/game" store around the corner from my house (Hobby Bunker) or Pandemonium to see if such an order is OK.

No more moves available. Game over.

Just spent my last time ever at Your Move Games. It's the "end of a chapter", but I'm not gonna get all sappy on you again.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A man's home is his Dominion

Played my first game of Dominion together with Talita last night.
My third game ever, but I don't think my second-ever game counted (the Black Market was involved and I just wasn't ready for that level of complexity). We used the "suggested" 10 basic kingdom cards.

I don't think either of us had any sort of early strategy; I coached her along on some basic advice coming from my gamer/CCG/drafting background, but we made some very different decisions.

By mid-game, I realized that Mining and Remodeling were both strong (including Remodeling the Mines into Gold when I didn't need them anymore), along with increased hand size; increased Buys didn't seem to be that useful, and I never bought a Copper, feeling that it would dilute my deck too much.

In the end, I had bought 6 Provinces to my wife's 2, and total score was 46-29.
The most important thing was that she liked the game and is willing to play again; the scores surely won't be that lopsided over all of the games we play.

I'm thinking that our next game might be "all-random from the base set" before we start involving the next level of complexity from Seaside, but I'll see what we agree to.
And of course, looking forward to playing the game with 3-4 players at some point.

Dominion: Definitely rates a GRRRRR

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nerd Father's Day

Father's Day presents from Eli; these are truly awesome!
Power Grid, Dominion, and Dominion Seaside.
I am excited to try them out later. Not sure Eli will be playing any of these for another couple of years, but maybe mommy will.. and something to plan for my next "board game day" for sure.

Now, of course, I'll have to start succumbing to my OCD and figuring out storage solutions for the Dominion cards... :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Game lost and found

When I had my little gaming gettogether, one of my friends reminded me of a game I knew I had and never played.
The game was "Succession". I won't even link it or put a box scan here partly because I'm feeling lazy.
But it's a game by the guys who used to be the owners of Your Move Games, and started a game design company of the same name.
I played through their demo, and bought it to support them and also because it theoretically looked fun.
But now I'm bewildered about why I can't find it anywhere.
It's not going to kill me if it's lost forever.. or if I gave it to someone and forgot.. or something like that.
I wasn't going to play it anyway, probably.
But it's definitely annoying to not remember/know where it is.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Session Report: The Stage is Set!

I bought this game for Eli after seeing a review from Games with Hayden, a few months ago. I thought it would be a nice family activity, and eventually he would understand. It's a very simple "match the animal on stage to one of the pictures on a chip on the table" game.

Tonight was the third time we've ever taken the game out. He hasn't seen it for weeks.

To our absolute surprise, we went through the "stage" one time, and he picked up every single correct match -- without hesitation!

So then we reshuffled the animals, went through it again, and played more closely to the "actual rules" (a race to see who matches first each time). Talita and I made some false matches at first, as he kept matching them correctly.. But then he started making wrong matches *on purpose*, obviously joking along with us and then picking up the right one.

I am so proud of him; he's really smart and knows what's going on. Before you know it, he'll accusing me of being a cylon across the table :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Board Game Day

My first -- well, second kinda -- attempt at a "board game day" at my house was something of a success.
We ended up being 2, 3, or 4 gamers depending on the time of day.

Games played:
Ninja vs. Ninja: in which Eli would not stop playing with the 2 Ninja Master figures and making them fight each other. It makes me happy when the reason my son is crying is to say "MY NINJA! MY NINJA!" unwilling to let them go. It's adorable.

Mag Blast, twice. The John Kovalic illustrated version, not my own game. Once with 3, once with 4 players. It's still fun.

Small World, with 3. I lost with Mounted Elves->Seafaring Amazons->Wealthy Kobolds, but not by much.

Chrononauts (with 3). I hadn't seen the newest edition of this, and haven't played for a million years. Some new cards in there, but same old game. Kinda fun.

Sorry that my recap isn't all that interesting, but the games played aren't that deep.
But all in all, I enjoyed it, and I appreciate the ability to do it (special thanks to my wife of course!)

Hoping that next time (when?), we have more people and more opportunity for deeper games.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Searching for the Dollhouse on Caprica

A few months ago, I decided to sign up for the waiting list for a Battlestar Galactica board game "Play by Forum" game. And finally over the weekend, my number was called.

Of course I (voluntarily) chose the character who is least good for impatient page-reloaders: Helo, whose penalty is that he can't do anything (more or less) for a whole turn.

Anyway, due to the secrecy nature of the game I shouldn't say much about it here until it is over, but I've already got my thoughts before the first turn has even gotten to the crisis phase...

In case you want to voyeuristically watch my game in progress, here is a link.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Whose Move is it now?

So, way back in 1994, shortly after I left that note on my dorm room door, I discovered a little game store in Davis Square (gateway to the Red Line) called Your Move Games. It was less creepy than the other store on the block that sold Magic cards (Davis Square Collectibles), and upstairs from Yee's Village, a Chinese restaurant my friends fondly remember for the scorpion bowls. Right across the street from Osco.
I remember, after being a "regular customer" for awhile, I tried to introduce myself to Rob, and he said something about not being good with names; so I continued as a semi-anonymous customer, occasionally participating in Magic tournaments, buying stuff, and with some distinct memories of people (probably Dave Z and Ben P long before we would meet) in the back room getting overly excited about cheap "Jyhad" cards, whatever that was.
So when I started playing VTES a few years later and asking questions, and Prescott answered my newsgroup post with a message about the Your Move Games weekly playgroup, I was more than willing to start playing there.
That was in early 2001.
About 75% of my weeks since then, at least one evening has been spent in that store. And many whole Saturdays and Sundays. Through two locations, 3 drugstores across the street/next door, and never a non-scary bathroom, it has been another "home" for me. A default location that I could count on.

Will I miss it?
Ironically, not really.
Pardon me if I cheese up for a minute, but it is and always has been about the people and the friendships I have made. I surely won't miss the stinky crowded basement, although I will accidentally end up driving in that direction on my way to whereever we start playing VTES again a few times. And I won't miss their selection of products; let's be honest here, in my 15 years as a customer I haven't exactly pulled my own weight in keeping them around.

But it's still a notable loss. And there are stories there.
It's worth saying goodbye.

Goodbye, Your Move Games.

I leave you with my favorite Your Move Games story, funniest because I found it through a completely unrelated blog:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


After reading reviews, seeing the components, and feeling the need for a fast 2-player game, I could not resist picking up Ninja versus Ninja.

My wife Talita agreed to help me try it out, and it is definitely easy to learn and fast to play.

Component-wise, the ninja pieces are awesome. There's absolutely no need for the game to have a separate Shadow Ninja and Ninja Master piece, and that is why they're great. :) The dice are cute, but a little annoying to actually roll.

Gameplay-wise, like I said, it is fast. I won't go over the rules here; they're simple enough.
We played 2 games in a few minutes; even my wife suggested that we add a house rule to play to more than 7 points. At one point, I was robbed of a win by a die roll of 2 (if I had rolled a 3, I could have gotten home and scored my mission), but I don't think the randomness is too intrusive.

Overall, it is a good game, and it's filling the niche I bought it for. I'm sure that it will be a good solution for at least a few weeks, for the 2 people sitting out of VTES games (or between turns in Battlestar Galactica, or whatever), and again it's a game my wife will play which is always a plus :) . And Eli will be able to play when he's maybe 4 or 5.

On a scale of "GR" to "GRRRRR", I give it a solid GRRRR

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pining for SGS (but not SGS)

Being naive and dorky (and when "the web" was still in its infancy), I clearly remember one of the first things I did when I moved into the dorms in college: I took out a Magic card from my box, pasted it on my door, and wrote something to the effect of "If you know what this is, let me know!" One knock on the door later (from a guy postering for Film Series who I would later know as Juj) would eventually lead me to something I never could have imagined: a still-forming Gaming Club (the eponymous Strategic Gaming Society).
A weekly meeting of fellow dorks and geeks, getting introduced to games (including German imports like the original "Die Siedler") and having hours on end to try them and play them and even leave boards on a table in a locked conference room for a week.
For more than 4 years I was attached to this club (yes, I overstayed my welcome, the Film Series Curse that would take me some time to escape), I held every named position for some time, and I established some friendships that still last (cue sappy music)...

Sorry, where was I?

Oh yes.
Now, I'm old. I'm in my mid-30s, I have (in no particular order) a job, a mortgage, a wife and a toddler. I have "responsibilities". I have gamer friends with their own "responsibilities". The pact to meet monthly to play our old-folks D&D game cannot be kept up. I get to game on most Monday nights but the focus is usually on VTES.
I just don't have too much time to try out new boardgames (that support more than 2 people and/or that my lovely wife isn't interested in; thankfully she likes some Gamer games!) or to play the 3+-hour games too many individual times. Sometimes I wish I still had that flexibility.

Trying to organize my own "board game day" is only serving to prove my point. Gathering folks from several different gaming circles, even, on the one day in the near future that I can finally take one day to do such a thing, and I'm answered with a handful of (legitimate) No answers. Now, hopefully I can still enact this plan, and maybe there's even a prayer of making it something regular, but I can't help thinking about the days when I could just walk into a room in the Campus Center and say "What are we playing today?"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Treat your Maman Right!

Even though this isn't strictly going to be a "VTES blog", I figure I should start with a VTES post about something I came up with.
It's a Module for any Group 4 Compatible deck, featuring a powerful defensive Imbued, Maman Boumba.

The module is something like this (this is the 10 card version that I include in 90-card decks):

3 Maman Boumba

3 Angel of Berlin
1 Rose Foundation

2 React with Conviction
2 Second Sight
2 Strike with Conviction
Maman serves as both combat defense (that you can sell around the table) and vote defense (5 un-cancelable votes against a referendum) EDIT: and minor bleed defense (reduce by 1), even here.
The Angels of Berlin allow you to use her end-combat ability multiple times per turn, which incidentally also works while she's sitting in the incapacitated region.
You can take the occasional "bleed for 2 at 1 stealth" action with her, but that's really not her primary function.
If you want, you can drop a Secure Haven on her to protect her from Pillowface actions, but that's purely optional; in a deck that needs her, you're likely to be using Secure Havens anyway, and you'll want to put them on your big vampires.


It's a gaming blog, and something useful to finally do with one of the domains I've been paying for.
In the meantime, here's all the content you're going to get: