The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

You do know Austria-Hungary declared war 100 years ago today

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Of course you do. You play (or know people who play) Paths of Glory.

I only know it because I was reading a Churchill Bio during Summer vacation. I knew it was vaguely around this time…

And today NPR announced that it was Jim Davis’ Birthday. You know, because that’s important.

Written by taogaming

July 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Follow up to last week

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My second game of Impulse and I’m beginning to sour.

One player, as his start world, builds “Move [1] Transport” and then explores “Sabotage a fleet with [3] bombs” as his next world. Then he sits on the center with a cruiser and sabotages anyone near him. Yes, I should have seen the “move back home with 2 transports, then resabotage my 2 cruiser fleet” but that basically ended the game.

Impulse feels like all opening and endgame. A build up, then one player unleashes a monster turn and wins (which isn’t so bad) or almost wins, as everyone tries to find a stop next turn (which is agonizing).

Basically, we’re playing Fool’s Mates and Scholars Mates, but I’m not getting the feeling I want to play the game enough to get good.

On the other hand, I am starting to like Sail to India, and I may trade for/pick up a copy.

Also played — Hansa (fine) and Piña Pirates (ugh).

Written by taogaming

July 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Sail to India

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The other new game I liked yesterday. Enjoyable, easy to comprehend, lots of different ways to score points. A nice, minimal card action game using a dozen cubes and two cards per player, and a dozen cards for the deck. I think there’s enough going on to warrant further plays, but it’s not one of those games that grabs you by the throat and makes an impression.

Rating — Suggest for now, but probably indifferent+.

Written by taogaming

July 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with

Poor Impulse Control

with 6 comments

I tried Impulse, the new game by Carl “Glory to Rome’ Chudyk.

It’s clever. It’s got a some G2R “Cards do different things in different places.” It’s got a stone-dead-brilliant idea.

Each turn You play a card to the impulse track. Then a player does the cards on the track, in order (and discards the oldest card, if there are more than four). This does a few things, you want to put down an action that you can use, but that others can’t use well either because they are not set up, or because the prerequisite will age off the board. (It also nicely means that the first player only gets one action, the second gets two, etc, so it’s a balancing mechanism). And combat also relies on matching cards (color + #) with the cards in the impulse, so you can set up a turn where you are great for combat, but next time it comes to you, your hand is useless for fighting. Great.

But you can also chuck actions to your ‘technologies’ (you get to use one tech a turn), or ‘minerals’ (which, like G2R’s clients, let you boost some actions) or ‘plan’ (where you can spend all the plan cards in one turn). And if you move your transports you get the action of where you land. So a I had a turn or two where I had six actions. 9 isn’t hard (with a plan). So, you build up, you build up, and then someone does this “move/action/4 impulse actions/blow up my plan for X more actions and that scores me 12 points, I win.” (2o points is game).

Now, it’s too early to tell if that’s a problem or not. Race, G2R, and Impulse are all games where you spend your first few times just trying to grok the rules, then you stare at your position, and at some point you look around and go “Oh, yeah, they have a plan too.” Impulse may be genius.

Or it may not be.  There are something like 8 action types and we never had a research card used for an action, and barely any plan, execute or trades. You do start with ~5 cards, and when you explore a system you pick up that card, add it to your hand, and then put the card of your choice down. (Actions on the map can be used any time you move a ship onto them). So the (small) board means each game is different. Was our game typical? I had a hand with 4 builds at the starts. Seems unlikely.

Rating — Who knows? I’ll play it a few more times. But I think that there’s a brilliant, play-it-a-hundred-times game using these mechanisms. I just don’t get the feeling this is it.


Written by taogaming

July 21, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with

Just my luck

Holding S: QT8xx H:K9xx D:AQ6 C:x partner opens 1NT (weak 12-14). RHO bids 2C (stayman). I decided to double, planning on bidding 2S over 2D. I had just mentioned this auction (instead of transferring) so I think partner will take it. And if he bids hearts, I can invite. (If he bids spades, obviously, that’s game). He bids diamonds, I bid spades. LHO is in there with 3C and partner bids 3S. This could be forward going, but 3 of either red suit would have been more forward going. I pass. 3S it is.

I get the DJ lead and see

Dummy S: AKx H:Axx D:xxxx C:Kxx

DJ led

Me   S: QT8xx H:K9xx D:AQ6 C:x

I win the diamond king (RHO playing the 9) . I play a small spade to the King, LHO playing the 9. Is LHO false carding me from J9xx? It’s an obligatory false card in this situation, but a) he’d look silly if partner had the stiff T and b) This is BBO. He isn’t that good. I play the SA and both follow (LHO with the Jack).  I pull the final trump and LHO discards the 2 of clubs.

I suppose it’s possible that LHO led the diamond J because he had the Club ace, but I see no reason to try that yet. I lead a small diamond from my hand. Who knows, diamonds may be 3-3. LHO plays the T and RHO wins the DK. RHO leads the H2, small, jack, duck. Now comes the CJ. I do not seriously believe he’s underled the CA, but I see it.

I see the double squeeze. I duck the club, ruff the next club cash the DA (RHO showing out) and lead my last trump.

Dummy: S:– H:Ax D:x C:K

LHO: Big Diamond + Hearts:???         RHO: Club Ace + Hearts:???

Me: Last trump, H:Kxx

I lead the last trump and it doesnt’ matter who has the long hearts. LHO has to keep the big diamond. So he’s down to (at most) two hearts. Dummy tosses a diamond and now RHO has to keep the club ace, so he’s down to two hearts.

So a heart to dummy’s ace, a heart to my king, and my small heart wins, no matter what. And I can nod sagely about passing 3 Spades, because it took a double squeeze to make 4.

Of course, hearts were 3-3 the whole time, so every shmuck made four and partner is wondering why I didn’t accept his invite. Worse yet, I’ve missed the diamond spots. It turns out the with RHO having K9 tight and LHO having squandered his T at the second diamond trick, dummy’s EIGHT was high the whole time.

Too much knowledge, too little technique.

For better graphics, See the full hand with the BBO card viewer.

Written by taogaming

June 19, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Bridge

Ticket to Ride — Team Asia

Played Team Asia today. It’s clever. You and your teammate each get 27 trains, and whenever you draw cards one goes to you and one goes to the community pool. Also, whenever you get tickets one goes to the community pool and you keep the rest if any. So each partner knows about 2/3rds of the tickets you are trying to get, and you can signal (via colors) what you want your partner to do, but (according to the rules) there’s no table talk.

(Of course, the easy way to win is still draw tickets that work together. I got Delhi to (long route to the NE) and Delhi to a Bangalore and I kept one other minor ticket. I put the long route to indicate those were the two major endpoints. And my partner revealed another long E-W route on the northern edge, so both of our ~17 point tickets used 80% of the same track).

I wouldn’t buy it, but I have plenty of TTR. Still, I enjoyed this a lot more than TTR Africa.

Rating — Indifferent+

The highlight of the day — an 8 year old pixie laughing with glee as she slaughtered the assembled adults in King of Tokyo. And that makes 25 plays for KoT. (Also made 75 FTF games of To Court the King)

Written by taogaming

June 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Dominion’s Back, Baby

I have some old HS friends back in town, and Dominion is a big hit. And, you know, now that our long-lamented isotropic server has been down a few years, I have the itch to play some more Dominion. But I realize:

  1. I don’t care for Alchemy too much (no surprise)
  2. I don’t care for Dark Ages much

Both make the game overstay it’s welcome. I have no idea if I’d like Guilds. (Was there a set between Dark Ages and Guilds?)


Written by taogaming

June 13, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Posted in Session Reports

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