The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea

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Nope. What he said. My thoughts further down the chain.

But I did get to play 1846, so I got that going for me, which is nice. I won (with a commissioner’s asterisk), and I really need to to play that more. It still seems like Grand Trunk for earlier ROI is the Royal Road in this game, but our meta doesn’t have many cross purchases to remove shares from the treasury. (The asterisk is really small, because I got the mail company for $60, which was a surprise and I think a big mistake by the others. But I’d drafted two of the “no purchase” cards and really neither other op could easily afford it).


Written by taogaming

August 20, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Some quick notes

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I just got my copy of Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea. I’d considered cancelling my P500 after seeing the bowbing nature of the game, but I decided to risk it (the solitaire scenarios will obviously mitigate not have that). The rules (non-solitaire, at least) are decidedly simple. (The post-publication player aid summarizing civ/wonder special abilities is mildly annoying; but better late than never, I guess).

Fingers crossed.

Also played Kansas Pacific, which seemed like a superior Continental Divide in that it was not obviously broken in the first game. I’d play it again, but this is likely in the “OK — Indifferent plus” range. (My thoughts on Continental Divide at my Gathering Geeklist for this year).

Also passed 400 games of Mage Knight in the last week.

Written by taogaming

August 12, 2019 at 9:42 pm

Some Media for your Summer

I finished Neal Stephenson’s latest (“Fall; or, Dodge in Hell“). I usually enjoy his logorrhea  (I re-read Anathem a month or two ago), but this was not worth it. I was saddened to learn that the title related to the character Dodge (from the unmemorable REAMDE) and more annoyed when Enoch Root showed up. The ending was actually reasonable and the last 75 pages moved at a pace that — had it been kept for the first 800 pages — would have cut the book down to a nice brisk 200-300 pages.The twist/hook was M. Night Shamalayan obvious.

I now noticed that I missed his last book, so I may check it out. How is the D.O.D.O. title, if you’ve read it?

Exhalation — the latest short stories by Ted Chiang — is excellent. Only two collections of short stories (that I know of) and practically every one is powerfully stunning. One story (“The Great Silence”) was originally text on a video art installation you can see on YouTube. His stories (3-100pages) are clock work masterpieces … Twilight Zone or Black Mirror episodes, but sometimes hopeful and inspiring. One of the blurbers put Chiang on par with Poe, Kafka, etc …. and if that’s a stretch its a small one.

Get Out — Finally saw this. A decent flick.

A Quiet Place — Excellent.

Annihilation — OK (but excellent looking).

Good Omens (TV) — Amusing.

Toy Story IV — Great.

Just started Aggretsuko S2. It’s a fast watch, but I’m probably over this.

Written by taogaming

July 14, 2019 at 3:51 pm

Posted in TV & Media

A few random links

A few links of interest (collected over the last month or two):


  • How did war become a game (video on the history of Kriegspiel)
  • As mentioned in the comments, the Defunctland videos on Jim Henson’s career are excellent. (Here’s the first video…. but you can just watch the shows you are interested in…)

Written by taogaming

June 21, 2019 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Linky Love

Ketchup Mechanism

Played a 3p game of FCM using the new Ketchup Mechanism milestones. I am not sure that there are three equally viable starting strategies, but I suspect that with careful play they are all at least reasonable. The new turn 1 Marketing Trainee is powerful. You get:

  • $5 per item marketed (forever)
  • -2 Range (forever)
  • A free errand boy and kitchen helper
  • The first sold item of your choice.

As compared to that, the first hiring girl gets two hires a turn and an executive VP. The first trainer seems the weakest of the three (a bonus trainer and the ability to keep people you would have had to fire if you are broke).

But the trainer has an ace up his sleeve, perhaps. The ability to put down a new restaurant means you can train multiple times. You need a long game.

I took a T1 Marketing Trainee and then sold the first lemonade, so I could train people while working. Honestly, after a single game I think the Marketing is the way to go. (Maybe instead of two range it should be -1 range, -1 cost, so its not all sunshine, or perhaps only a free errand boy OR kitchen helper). I can see that in a longer game the trainer opening could lead to a guru or CFO or some other big clawback, and our game had a small reserve, which definitely helps the Marketing opening. I assume that playtesting has shown that all are viable, if not perfectly equal. Likely MT is simply easier to use.

Written by taogaming

June 3, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Session Reports

Tagged with

A bit more of Memorial Day

I played another Bios:MF game. It’s growing on me.

I played 2/3rds of a game of Patchistory (time constraints). I was intrigued and like the Patch-ing idea as a novel way to show your growth, but something felt off. A few somethings, actually.

  • I was terminally short of politics, as I didn’t win one on T1 and then none showed up for auction again for several turns. You can buy politics — if you have three already.
  • The auction … ugh. Its like a worse version of Amun-Re … if you get outbid you can switch tiles but can’t lower your price to the value of that tile.
  • The wars/trade transport I don’t have any complaints in our game, but it could be weird.

Checking Geekbuddy comments I see that those are pretty common complaints….

Watching the Ketchup Mechanism video on Heavy Cardboard …. I’m clearly going to buy this (I played FCM as well yesterday) but it was nice to see.  I placed my order with Splotter directly (after a brief moment where the cart charged me €120 I realized it didn’t have my shipping address, and once I avoided the VAT it fell to a reasonable price). But in the meantime I’ll likely print out a new set of milestones to just try that out soon.

Written by taogaming

May 29, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Memorial Day Gaming at Casa de Tao leads to two quick thoughts

Bios Megafauna — Played a few 2p “Tooth and Claw” (basic) games. Seems dominated by luck. You get 11 turns (assuming no early ending) but even in the basic (non-roller coaster) game, you can easily have your entire turn (or more) dominated by an event. For example, the TaoLing takes two mutations. Done! I take a mutation and populate. Random event causes two plus organs to degrade … which kills both of the TaoLings mutations (and mine). Two turns later a mutation roll at snake eyes kills two species. OK.

Now, High Frontier has some high variance rolls — (failure rolls), but ways to mitigate. And there’s a lot of legit planning in space mission. But getting 22 actions and having them helped or hindered by random events that do a lot more than the actions (sometimes)…. Well, it’s an experience game, you say. American Megafauna was too long, but the number of decisions seemed much higher. I do want to try the roller coaster game, perhaps so much more randomness (but with known dark heart limits, for example) makes it better.

One surprising thing — Once you know it the game goes fast. I mean, 45m for 2p seems reasonable. But teaching it (and learning) is a bear. I did really like the Heavy Cardboard walkthrough video, which I watched (the first half of) to check my rules after the first game and to pick up the roller coaster rules (roughly). If they have a video on Neanderthal and/or Greenland I’m likely to watch it.

Initial Rating — Still withholding judgement,probably in the “noble failure” subcategory for me. But I might play another half dozen times before deciding.

Tiny Towns — A clever shape tile / resource management game that I don’t love, but I appreciate that its not the same old thing (unless I’ve missed a trend on that). Only one game, but I’d play a few more times. (It seems that a relatively simple strategy of working from the corners to edges to center made it relatively easy (spatially) to avoid blocking yourself, but maybe I just got lucky. The fact that there’s a solitaire game is of interested, but is likely to puzzley and not gamey enough for me.

Also played this weekend — Bohnanza, Eclipse, Code 777, Res Arcana (may write more about that in a week or two), Sentinels of the Multiverse, Fairy Tale

Tomorrow is an extended edition of the normal monday game day, so perhaps there will be more new games…

Written by taogaming

May 26, 2019 at 11:31 pm