The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Article about Legacy games at Slate

with 2 comments

Yesterday Slate published an article about “Legacy” games (including Risk: Legacy, Pandemic Legacy and the upcoming Seafall) and Rob Daviau’s influence on the genre. Since its for a wide-audience, you won’t learn much, but it was an interesting read — I never spoke with the author, but I suppose I’m one of those people who doesn’t particularly care for Legacy games. Although — to be fair — the fact that so far they’ve just been remakes has possibly been my objection. I didn’t play Seafall (“No prototypes”) but I’d play it when it came out.

I’m mainly just wondering who played in the game with the article’s author:

Daviau had buttonholed two board game fans to play the game with us—a mathematician with more than 2,500 games in his collection and an engineer who has been coming to the Gathering for 15 years

I think the former is Mr. J__ R__, but the latter …  hurm. I don’t know. I was just curious.

As to Legacy games — I can see the appeal from the industries standpoint. If you publish a game that people love, that’s great, but it can be self defeating. I buy many fewer games than I used to, because I’m trying to get much more value out of games. You can ameliorate that somewhat by expansions (I’ve spent roughly $200 each on Eclipse, Sentinels, and some other titles) and lifestyle games (like SFB) can soak up even more, but then you risk alienating new players. Planned obsolescence works well. And — let’s face it — getting 12-20 plays out of a game is still a phenomenal value ($50 divided by 20-30 hours, call it two bucks an hour, divided four ways).

In any case, even if Legacy games become the next big thing, I think those of us who are reluctant will be well served by the community, which is large enough to support a diverse ecology of titles.

Written by taogaming

August 27, 2016 at 10:03 am

Posted in Misc

A bit more Space Empire, and a game day

with 3 comments

I played a few more games of Space Empires solitaire, and I enjoy it. I’ve tweaked the system to feel slightly more intelligent and smooth out the bumps, the APs get less resources, but also tend to waste less (by fighting hopeless battles) and their growth is ‘on board’ which means it can be trimmed down. While TaoLing was at camp I left the board setup and managed to get in a half-dozen games … most of which were full evening affairs.

Now that TaoLing is back I took a day off to run back-to-school errands in the morning and we had a game day in the afternoon. A fair number of Puzzle Strike games (getting close to 50!), a few games of Dominion, some Mottainai, some Splendor, and even a bit of Pandante. (I think I’m going to take Pandante to my poker night this weekend and play a few hands — not for money — to see if there’s any interest).

In other news, I’ve realized that I’m not playing most of my collection, even though I’ve trimmed it down fairly aggressively this decade. So, more games are marked ‘for trade’. I may hold a geeklist auction later this year, but I’m open to trades/sales whenever. I did just break down and  buy the Brittania expansion of Sansa at Channukah.  So I knocked that off my “want in trade list.”

I suspect game days with the Taoling are going to slowly drift into memory — they may never end entirely, but the teenage years wait for no parent. I’ve been watching the Solitaire Games on Your Table threads for ideas as to which games I may try next…at least, until the Mage Knight urge rises.

Written by taogaming

August 18, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Via Nebula

I admit I wasn’t paying too careful attention during my first game, but I had no particularly good impression. I think this might make a decent 2 player game (removing the chance that some terrible player — such as myself — throws the game to one or another).

It does have nice components, and is fast. So — indifferent.

Written by taogaming

August 9, 2016 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Session Reports

Tagged with

Space Empire

Just one, because I played S.E.4x solitaire. It was a Doomsday Machine game, so it didn’t really capture the great feel of the game, but I hadn’t played in a year and wanted to re-learn the rules. I posted a mini session report on BGG.

I also (finally) read the expansion rules. Well, the first expansion. It seems like … a lot of chrome. And a lot of paperwork. My quick thoughts (all of which are based on not playing it) is that most of it adds too much paperwork for the goal, but if you really loved the system and wanted to make SE4x a lifestyle game, you’d ease into it fairly well. Still — each thing added slows the game down. Although some of them seem like good ideas (assuming they are balanced).
In particular, giving each player a special power (which can be revealed at the appropriate moment) is highly thematic. Oh … player X is a warrior race and can attack twice in the first round of combat, but can’t retreat for a while (and suffers penalties in the second round). Player Y can ignore maintenance costs (and doesn’t have to reveal the card, ever, except at the end game). Player Z reveals at the start, but gets a bunch of free colony ships and colonies and explorations before the game. That, and conquering alien planets for unique technologies … yeah, I’d throw those in. (Also pre-game rolls to randomly adjust some universe conditions). But ground combat (and troops), individual ship ratings, design your own ships (prior to start of game, not during!), flagships, etc? I’m not so sure. I should probably try to get a group to play this again, but it’s a nice change of pace from Mage Knight for solitaire….

Update — I tested out some variant rules for the AP scenario.

Written by taogaming

August 5, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Session Reports, Variants

Tagged with

Rare wild animal sighted at the bridge table!

Playing online (with random opposition) on the first hand my LHO opens 1C, 2N (unusual) and I hold

S:J9xxx H:Kxx D:Qx C:xxx

Sure, I only have 6 points, but five of them are in partners 5+ card suits. Before I can bid RHO bids 3S. I like my hand, but I don’t like it at 4 hearts and in any case lets see where they land. 3S is probably forcing. It is, and LHO bids 3N and RHO bids 6N.

Which happens to be cold, partner having bid 2N on the red jacks and out. (RHO held AKxxx AQx Axx xx and naturally assumed the HK was in the pocket, but even though it was off that was the only trick lost, declarer had 12 tricks off the top).

So its that kind of night.

Later on partner opens 1C in first seat (everyone vul) and I glance down at:

S:J9xxx H:x D:KJ9xx C:J9 (I do like my J9 combinations)

LHO passes and I have an easy 1S bid (planning on retreating to diamonds after the inevitable 1N or 2C rebid), but things take a turn…

 1D  P   1S  2H
 2S* 3H  4S  5H  *2S promises 4 spades.
DBL  P    ?

No way am I leaving this double in. Yes, partner may have the set in his hand, but I have zero defense. Worse, I probably take away at least 1/2 a trick (or more) from partners defense. Hands with double fits (and this looks like one) tend to have more tricks than the Law of Total tricks expects. I bid 4S thinking that it would make OR be a good sacrifice. At matchpoints I would leave the double in, giving them the last guess.

But this is IMPs, and I think it too likely that one contract is making. And in any case being wrong and turning +200 into -200 isn’t a disaster (leaving in the double when both contracts make is a disaster! And it could very well be). I’d be surprised if I’m turning +500 into -500, but I’ve been wrong before…

I flee to five spades. This gets doubled quickly by LHO and I play it there. The hand holds only one surprise — LHO doubled with a void. While the double gets us down three (for -800), the void also means E-W are cold for 6H.

I’m not sure why partner (having ATxx xxx AQxxxx x) doubled. I assume he thought 4S created a forcing pass situation (where the opponents cannot play undoubled. In that case pass would imply willingness for me to carry on), but like many partnerships, we aren’t on firm ground on this. (If I had bid 4H instead of 4S, making a strong raise, we would definitely be in a forcing pass …. ) But it has worked out. If partner had a stronger double, then I might well have turned +200 into -500.

I’m busy patting myself on the back for turning -1050 (ish) into -800 (and conveniently ignoring the fact that if I’d not bid 4S I could have gotten out for -680) when I realize that partner has doubled a making slam at the five level — A stripe tailed ape! Yes, yes, technically a Stripe tailed ape is done in a non-competitive auction, but its that kind of night, where even when I make the right decision (my bid improved the score) I lose and this is the first time I’ve caught a glimpse of one in years, so I’m not going to be too picky.

            S:J9xxx H:x D:KJ9xx C:J9

S:KQ87 H:KTxx D:x C:QTxx     S: -- H:AQJxx D:xx C:AKxxxx

            S:ATxx H:xxx D:AQTxx C:x

Hand Record


Written by taogaming

August 3, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Posted in Bridge

Hitting the Links

I’ve spent several hours watching the videos on primitive technology. I’m not saying I can now hand craft an axe, hut and kiln from nothing more than the nearby dirt and trees, but it will hopefully save me some time should I need to do so.

I note (via Slashdot) that the designer of the Logo programming language, Seymour Papert, has died. I did a small computer class over three decades ago and we worked in Logo, which is apparently much more powerful than the stuff I did as a kid, although it was mainly used for teaching anklebiters such as my(former)self.

The R4TG-ified update to The City has been announced.

An interesting way to debunk conspiracy theories by Scott Aaronson — 20 reasons to believe Oswald acted alone. (Older post)

I did really enjoy Stranger Things. BGG (Chit Chat) seems to agree.

And I almost forgot about Meow Wolf which built an sort of interactive Zork-like videogame in real life called The House of Eternal Return. (20,000 square feet. Touch everything!) There must be a review forthcoming in the game-o-sphere….


Written by taogaming

August 3, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Linky Love

Some TV thoughts

I watched the first half of Game of Thrones, and I’ve been finding excuses not to watch the second half. (Not having a TV that is HBO-Streaming compatible are the easiest). I hear the series got better; only these 5 episodes and 13 more (over two years), and I’ll eventually watch them, but I feel like I’m committing the sunk cost fallacy. But right now I have no desire to watch it because ….

Bojack dropped yesterday, so I’ll be finished with that by the weekend. The (mostly) silent 4th episode is full of throwaway gags, reminiscent of Chaplin, possibly brilliant, beautifully animated, mostly amusing instead of laugh out loud funny, except for the times I laughed out loud. In other words, Bojack — still one of the best things on TV.

In older animation, I’ve been going through the Power Puff girls. It’s a clever trifle, but some of the S3 episodes involve very clever deconstructions … “Ridiculous Lucky Captain Rabbit King, Nuggets are for the Youth!

After numerous recommendations, I’ve watched the first episode of Peaky Blinders. I’m intrigued, I’ll probably watch more, but I’m not declaring it good or bad yet.

I hear good things about Stranger Things, the Netflix homage to Spielberg and the 80s. It’s in the queue.

What’s your summer watching? (Remembering that I basically only watch Netflix and Amazon prime, although I’ll probably break down and trial HBO, just to finish GoT. At some point).

Written by taogaming

July 23, 2016 at 11:19 am

Posted in TV & Media


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