The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits


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Not a huge surprise (in that fifty games can be done in under twenty hours), but not one I was counting on.

I think I’m 5-15 hours away from finishing the remaining list, and I’ve got two months. (I actually thought I was done with another game or two, but I realized I’d likely miscounted). Thankfully the holidays are upon us. But we also have the Gloomhaven expansion…

Written by taogaming

December 1, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Session Reports

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Stepping on the borderline between ‘clever’ and ‘justifiable homicide’

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I never knew that Wei-Hwa Huang created a maze where the participants did not initially realize they were in on. Fascinating stuff/ (H/T to Futility Closet).

(Here’s a description of the maze).

Written by taogaming

November 26, 2019 at 9:28 pm

Your super ‘List o’ the Decade’ aggregator

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Written by taogaming

November 21, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tiny Islands

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A little browser based “Roll and Write” (but with cards!). Enjoy.

Written by taogaming

November 20, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Brief Thoughts on FTL

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FTL is a … not new … computer game that made the best of decade list . I bought it cheaply (although apparently you can get it for free if you buy their new game, Into the Breach, which I didn’t notice until later. Ah well. It’s similar to Nethack: instead of a dungeon you are flying your space ship around a galaxy (8 sectors, each with perhaps two dozen systems you can explore). FTL has a real-time element but you can pause it whenever you like and place your orders.

Another similarity is that after fifteen odd plays (some by myself and some by the TaoLing), we haven’t beaten the game on ‘easy’ mode.

As for theme, the obvious similarity is Star Fleet Battles, but I think this bears a stronger relationship to Battlestations!, in that you move your crew around your ship to give bonuses, repair damage, fight fires, repel boarders, etc. (If you get a teleported you can also beam them over to wreck havoc on the enemy ships). So — on the ‘macro’ level you have a Tales of the Arabian Nights flavor. You hop into a system and may be given a choice: fight the pirates attacking a civilian ship or let yourself be bribed to ignore it. If you fight, then you go to the micro game.

There’s a hefty dose of resource management. You have to deal with scrap (money), fuel (1 per jump), energy, crew members (you start with three humans, decidedly not enough). Some weapons require missiles or drone parts (in short supply), you only have three slots for augmentations, you can upgrade many systems but those take scrap and energy (itself an upgrade). Spend it all now or save it in case you get to a lucky place to trade?

The story is vaguely — err, blatantly — reminiscent of A New Hope where a small group needs to get the plans to defeat the enemy back to your base and then fight a last stand battle. So you also have a time element. You can’t linger in the easy sectors (they get harder as you go) because the enemy fleet is approaching … in one game I went slightly out of the way to buy from a trader and then had to deal with the fleet on the beacon to exit the system. Despite being armed to the teeth with one of the best ships I’ve built, I managed to lose.

One nice detail, you are the fighting off the evil rebels as the Federation, so maybe it’s more not-quite-infringing on Star Trek. (At least one of the achievements is a great nod to DS9.)

As I said, on easy mode the first few games were quick losses, and then with some experience I could make it a few sectors, and then finally to the final sector. But never winning. On easy. This lacks Nethack’s “The devs thought of everything” depth where there are hundreds of subsystems that interact in hyper-obscure but reasonable ways, but there’s still plenty going on. (I don’t have the ‘advanced edition’ mods turned on, but they come with the game. Baby steps….)

One big improvement — the game probably takes 1-2 hours tops. (Once I started getting OK at Nethack, it turned into a real grind). I think in another dozen or so games we may crack the final sector (called, “The Last Stand”), but there are still many ship designs to unlock and then “normal” and “hard” mode. (Vhodjha Moi!) The reviewer of Polygon’s list stated it well:

I’ve played FTL: Faster Than Light hundreds of times and still never won the damned thing. But I don’t care, because dying in this pausable puzzle game is always a joy.

Joy may be an overbid, but its a mild one. Delicious Frustration, perhaps.

Rating — Enthusiastic

Update — OK, did win on easy (with the basic ship), which took about 3h.

2nd Update — 3h for a win seems typical. I’ve now won with ~5 ships on Easy.

VGG Link is to FTL.

Written by taogaming

November 10, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Artificial Opponents, Reviews

Tagged with

Sigh …. List of the Decade are upon us.

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I’ve started seeing Best X of the Decade list, and I suppose its a small blessing that they waited until the decade was 98% complete. Gotta get those clicks, girl. But the videogame list of the decade by Polygon (100-51, 50-11, 10-1) I’ll link to, since I didn’t play many video games and so some of these are now on my list. I did play Universal Paperclips (and wrote about it), barely touched Civ VI, love Limbo, respect but don’t love Kerbal Space Program,  loved Portal 2 (who didn’t?), tried Fortnite, and was saddened but not surprised to see Factorio didn’t make it. And I’m secure enough in my geekdom to admit  I perused the anime list to see what I may watch next on Netflix.

Written by taogaming

November 8, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Linky Love

Some recent thoughts

I played the actual Shades of Tezla light and darkness scenario. I don’t like the new orc/monster/dragon tokens scattered into the base game (because they make the variability much higher) but in a scenario designed for them, it was fine. But the rulebook font is so small that basically the TaoLing has to read everything for me now. (It was tough to read even when I bought it….)

Played another game of Race: Xeno Invasion (cards only). I should play more Race. Ditto Baseball Highlights:2045.

Apparently Favor of the Pharoah was a gift at a recent game convention, because many locals now have a copy, so I played it a few more times. I think its an improvement over To Court the King, but the setup is a pain.

Reading many new bridge books. Most are on card play, but I did buy Five Card Majors the Scanian Way, and it has many new ideas and a definite philosophy. (‘Scanian’ approximates ‘Scandanavian,’ possibly meaning mainly Swedish. I think.)

Hank and I use transfer bids in competition (transfer advances and after takeout doubles); the Scanians have more including over 1C without competition, which has some proponents in ACBL land and I would play when playing Standard, if any partner wanted to. Scanian also includes switch bids: oftentimes hearts means clubs and vice versa, especially in competition.

There are parts that are likely not legal in ACBL-land (like Multi-) … actually I stared at the new ACBL regs and Multi seems to be legal by the rules but not by the commentary. Also putting 18-19 balanced into the 2C opening. But even if you strip it down to legal, building a system to allow more judgement and multiple ways to bid the same shape and strength (depending on how the HCP are distributed) is intriguing. Also fun are fit jumps (jumps showing the suit bid and a fit with opener’s suit). Of course this is likely for interest only to serious tournament players, and even then most won’t care.

Written by taogaming

November 2, 2019 at 5:33 pm