The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

A milestone

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As of this weekend, I’m sure I’ve played 1,000 plays of games designed by Tom Lehmann. And while most of those games aren’t long, that’s still a lot of time and a lot of games. (I probably went over the mark sometime during last year’s wave of Jump Drive, but I hadn’t thought to check until now).

In fact, my H-index for Tom’s games? Hm. It turns out to be NINE. (And if you counted Race Expansions separately, like counting Race+Xeno as “Xeno” it would be thirteen … you’d add the five expansions, but Pizarro would drop off)

  1. Race for the Galaxy
  2. Jump Drive
  3. The City
  4. To Court the King
  5. Fast Food Franchise
  6. Roll through the Galaxy
  7. Phoenicia
  8. Res Arcana (you knew it was coming)
  9. Pizarro & Co has thirteen plays.

There are probably a handful of his games I’ve played ~5 times, but mostly not logged as pre-BGG (Throneworld, 1846 still only has four plays, Mystic War, Suzerain, Starship Merchants, Roll through the Ages: Iron Age, Favor of the Pharaoh, Time Agent, 2038

My review of Res Arcana after a few more (hopefully 3-4 player) plays.


Written by taogaming

April 6, 2019 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Session Reports

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Links o’ the mornin’

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Written by taogaming

March 22, 2019 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Linky Love

Baba is you

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Saw the (switch) trailer, bought it immediately after (on steam). A few simple levels, and now Brain-burney.

Written by taogaming

March 22, 2019 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Artificial Opponents

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Life, the Universe, and Gaming-things

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Written by taogaming

March 21, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Session Reports

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Thoughts about recent games


  • Regarding Jeff G’s comment about “it just ended.” Before we encountered the end we had a similar problem where its not clear what scenarios we can do. But I think we forgot to write down a party acheivement. (And we did the final scenario early, because the TaoLing missed one of the requirements had to be fulfilled multiple times. So, room for improvement and/or better design for campaign books. No doubt one or more of the apps handles this, but I don’t have any apps. (Update— based on Sean’s comment below, I’m using “the end” as Jeff did … the end of the main villain, the ‘big bad.’ It is not the ending of the game or even the scenarios (of which I’ve now played a bit north of 1/3rd). I did not mean the town record or anything. I don’t particularly care about ‘the story,’ it’s a nice thing to have, but not why I play board games. Another note, last night I opened some content that revealed a little puzzle-y thing. I have zero interest in this and just glanced a spoiler thread to confirm that I miss nothing of value).
  • I also agree that the money could be a bit looser. I keep expecting something to say “Double all money you receive” or otherwise discount things, because things like enchanting a mid-level card are basically impossible or something you have to sell all your stuff to do.
  • After three dozen-ish games we had seven or eight characters retire. One was a cheat, because we just said that taking a character up to level 9 is enough of a reason to retire (if you haven’t hit the others). Once you have a dozen or two games in the campaign some of the cards get much easier because they require a specific thing you’ve acquired or you have unlocked the final scenario you need to beat. One character started and retired after ~5 games. (Another took about ~8). Some scenarios are — while not literally required — big enough to fulfill 50% or more of your requirements. (If my new character had started ~4 scenarios earlier, he could have retired after a single perfect scenario, despite his goal being quite generic)! But we’ve already played that, so I’m not going to “go back”). Other scenarios do nothing to help your goals. It is hard to tell for some goals which scenario is which.
  • There is actually a really good mix of scenarios, and the fact that there is fan based content and other expansions is nice. I’m clearly going to make this to fifty games, and I suspect I’ll get to 100 just by finishing the 99 base game scenarios (or dungeons).
  • Achievements are also based on party dynamics. The TaoLing often plays characters that go invisible and suck up gold and treasures, which makes any looting based achievement harder. Possibly the game could have had “starting advancements” for the first characters (two for the scoundrel, two for the brute, etc) and then randomized the rest. But given the components that was just perhaps too much. Or perhaps some cards could say “Do not use for your first character!” at the top and you just draw two until you have reasonable choices.
  • I think we’ve gotten a fair number of rules wrong, but it really doesn’t matter too much.
  • You set your levels based on “Average party level / 2 rounded up.” As a practical matter we’re pretty much been at Level 3 for most of the campaign. I do like that some scenarios vary the levels for individual monsters. I wish more did that.


  • I’m enjoying the new science recipes, but I quickly turned off biters again. Once 0.17 is stable I may play a biter-enabled game… probably a train map SpaceX…


  • I taught a few gamers (who had expressed an interest) bridge for a few hours. Tournament this weekend….


  • I played QMG:Prelude. I’m down on (non-varietal) expansions, but I’ve got to admit this was a bizarre fun little mini game that totally changed the feel. Germany started on the ropes (because a UK army, which we just said was actually a French army, started in Western Europe. German blitzed it, built an army using a pre-war card, and then knocked the UK out of the North Sea, but that failed and the UK attacked Western Europe again!). By mid game it became clear that this was an Allied win, but would it be an unconditional surrender on T15 or later, and the Axis just managed to hold on for a conditional surrender on T20. This also makes Economic Warfare early on better, because the prelude response cards require a discard to activate.


  • I’ve finally pledged a kick starter for the 2nd Root expansion, despite not having played the first. But I did play a game with the Vagabond (and lost), but enjoyed it.

Bios Megafauna et al:

  • Apomorphies, cratons, and a bunch of other words I don’t understand? Why yes, I did get a new Eklund game. (Actually, three. I suspect these are all in the play once and then get rid of, but who knows. But it will take me a while to read the rules…It seems like SMG has finally learned how to put the rules in the right order, but they have two interleaved color coded sets to work out. At least Bios Megafauna’s rule book is a type that I seem to be able to read, Neanderthal’s type was hard to make out. My poor eyes….

Written by taogaming

March 15, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Your typical hand, and typical result


This is now officially the best hand I’ve picked up. When partner showed up with at most one king (with a step response of 2 Diamonds over my 2C opening showing at most a king and not much else) and a weak hand I contented myself with a six diamond bid, since I had no way to tell which king he had, if he even had one. And, with a 4-1 diamond break and no way to finesse in clubs, even that went down. Typical.


Written by taogaming

March 6, 2019 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Bridge

…. but the second mouse gets the cheese

At some point around the turn of the millennium (I think) I read about independent designers who would make a game about their hobby — the example being dog shows — and build a game that had a bunch of interesting stuff if you were into that hobby, and had a bunch of game mechanisms straight out of monopoly, etc. Then they’d print 5000 copies and find no buyers in the game market (‘natch) and that the hobbyists would just prefer to do their hobby instead of play a mediocre game about it.

And I also remember reading about WWII playing card that had airplane types (or tanks) to teach troops how to ID them while they were playing cards. More recently, I believe the U.S. makes terrorist watch list playing cards.

Which leads me to Wingspan. This game looks like something made lovingly by the Audubon society. I’m not bird-er, but the artwork is lovely and I assume accurate. If I wanted to be able to identify birds by sight, wingspan, etc, simply a must buy game.

But — I do not.

Still, Stonemaier games is not a novice company. I haven’t loved any of their prior entries to the market, but they seem solid enough.

And that’s where I’m left with Wingspan. You have twenty-six actions over four scoring rounds to either

  1. “Buy” birds from your hand (which cost food and maybe eggs)
  2. Get food
  3. Get eggs
  4. Get cards for more birds

Birds are (again, I assume accurately) assigned a rough range, where they take slots in the food/egg/cards rows, and get cool actions that may trigger when played, when you take the action in the range you place them, or when your opponents do things. They also have a nest type and max egg count. But basically this is a resource management game where you have hundreds of different birds that may appear, you hope to “buy” 10-15 of them and score the most points. Which range you place the bird in improves your action in that type (#2-#4 above) but additional birds in each row cost eggs. Paid from different birds (?).

So, at it’s heart an action efficiency game, but with only a very small subset of possible birds appearing. There’s also bonus points available at the end of each round (determined by the setup) and objective cards that you get at the start of the game (before you have more than a few birds) or drawn during the game (when you can’t really change tacks).¬† Some birds give you a “Draw two keep one” of bonus cards, which are usually just a few points but could in theory be huge.

Nothing wrong with any of it (although I did actively dislike the cutesy birdhouse dice tower, because you can’t drop the dice in from the top) but nothing that attracted me.



Written by taogaming

March 4, 2019 at 7:56 pm

Posted in Reviews

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