The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits


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I’d never heard of Euphoria, until I played it today. Then I saw that Alex Rockwell had a review, and I read it and felt bewildered that someone could accurately note all the points of the game and still rate it a 7.5. As he says (emphasis mine)

Loved: Components!
Liked: Theme of the market buildings (funny + mechanically cool). Character cards with wide varieties of powers. Factions and hidden characters. Replayability. Humor.
Disliked: Low player interaction. Die rolling knowledge mechanic wasn’t very interesting and mostly just provided variance.
Hated: Doubles free move mechanic giving out random free turns in a racing game.

He also pointed out (correctly) that it’s a “Worker Placement” game where you can bump someone for free (well, you give them a tempo where they don’t have to return workers). And you can bump yourself to gain a tempo! I did like the dystopian theme and the idea that buildings you build hurt those that didn’t help.

I must weigh the dislike / hated more than the positives. (Agree on the components. A beautiful game, although the graphic design could be improved. The humor worked well, but apart from the characters you probably only get the effect once).

Minor Nit #1 — The game was anti-climatic, I could see a player was going to win. If I had rolled doubles the turn before, I would have won, because I would get two actions. If I had draw a matching card symbol earlier, I could have won (because the you can spend 3 cards or two of a kind to activate certain spaces, so I’d have one more card left over, also one space would let me spend a single card of the right type). So I had to use an ability to draw a 3rd character card, hope that it would be one of the two (at that point) useful factions and provide me an ability. This did not leave a good taste in my mouth.

Minor Nit #2 — You pick 2 characters at start from a hand of 4 (from four possible factions). Each faction has a different trigger for when you can reveal characters. In our (four player game) the “E” faction raced early, hit their reveal, and three people flipped up….both of their characters. Obviously wildly rare and horribly unlucky for the 4th player, who now spent half the game having no special abilities.

Rating — Avoid. A race game with extra turns given out randomly, and where you can randomly lose workers by bad rolls. (I lost a worker a few turns from the end as well, which cost me a tempo). Really, do I have to say any more?

But many of the people who played in our first game played again, and it’s ranked in the Top 250? So make of that what you will. Me? I weep for humanity. In general, though. Not specifically about this game.

Written by taogaming

May 25, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Posted in Reviews

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New Scouting Report — Rally Cap Expansion

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Looking over my scouting report for the free agents a few things jump out at me:

  • More hits are certainly better. They are vulnerable to cyborg pitchers, of course, but gloves are much more common. And the do load up the bases. I don’t think I’m wrong to devalue home runs. The comment that you only need to clear the bases at the end of the game is somewhat wrong. Certainly I expect a single glove on my opponents last play (particularly if I’m a home team) so you need HR+HR. But also pickoffs and double plays mean that leaving people on bases has some issues.
  • I concede I over-valued PH but as I play more games I’m starting to find more uses for conditional players and trying to top deck a good player (or even just to move towards a reshuffle). A highly situational player with a PH gives you some variance. That being said, PH itself is conditional. If you go for a lot of “Glove + Hit” guys, you typically won’t mind top decking your conditional players (like, walks, double plays, etc) and try to get something better. If you try to get the perfect cyborg combination, you are playing for luck. It can work. I just had a game where we had something like 4-5 blind PH, and they all were reasonable, in hindsight. That being said, you rarely need PH on solid always good players.
  • I probably overvalued revenue. The data seems to say that. Of course, it depends on the format. Best of seven you are probably only seeing your guy 2-3 times for revenue if you buy him on game one.

The Rally Cap expansion adds a few new skills:

  • Rally:X gives you X, but only if you are losing.
  • Hold cancels all threatened hits (against any type of player), but only if you are losing.
  • Closer cancels all threatened hits (against any type of player), but only if you are winning.

In general, you probably won’t be losing or winning until your third card (since you don’t resolve threatened hits until after you take the immediate effect). So if your opponent opens with, say a slow-bot (single+single) and then a double, you could play a rally on your third card. Personally, I’d rather not be losing and focus on getting a card that prevents scoring, which is generally useful. But, sometimes you fall behind. It happens. Hold is like a pitching rally, but it has a great effect, cancelling all hits. Unfortunately that (alone) won’t help you win.

Closer is better than hold, because if you are winning then cancelling hits is great, but you actually have to get ahead. Because of timing effects, visitors will tend to get better value from Closers (since you have tempo in resolving runs) and Home teams will get better value from Hold. The problem is that you don’t really control when they come up (except the turn you buy them).

So, these are (IMO) situational cards. Because adding the expansion adds variance, a lot of situational cards, and a fair number of double-digit cost cards, I think it’s reasonable to expand the free agent market by a card or two (as an agreed upon variant).  All of these are conditional skills, which means if you only have one, and it isn’t useful, then you can top deck that card away for another. But as soon as you get lots of them, top decking becomes much more of a crap shoot. This may be why I like Glove so much. Glove+Hit rarely sucks, even if it is perfect. (But Multi-hit guys do crunch it).

No discussion of the new skills is complete without mentioning Start-Up, the homerun hitting leadoff batter. If your opponent has that, all Rally/Hold cards become much better. If you have Mr. Start-up, then all closer cards become huge. (He’s in a different expansion, but in the deluxe game you get them all).

Format is Name (Type)  $ cost/revenue, hits, skill, speed (average if not shown), PH (if applicable).

Franchise Players:


The Goods:

Pete Biggio (N) — $12/2, Single + Single + Single, Rally:HR, Slow — A Rally HR is good, a hit that can’t be cancelled. And then he loads the bases and threatens to clear them on the next hitter.

Chance Evers (N) $8/2, Single + Single, Teamwork (If the next player is a natural, add a triple to their hit box) — The one thing that adding a hit does is prevents gloves. So, assuming you have another natural (a fair assumption), this is a single+single+triple who spreads the wealth. 3 hits for fives bases that can’t all be blown away by a fastball is fine. A touch pricey, but decent revenue.

RallyBot (R) $10/0, Single + Double, Rally:HR, Fast — OK. Rallybot is good. Fast single+double is a run, and if one gets gloved your single can’t get double played. A Rally HomeRun is a big deal. The downsides are all minor, but add up. RallyBot hits enough you won’t mind lacking PH, but no revenue also hurts. At the price point you can probably do better.

John Clayton (C) $9/2, Single + Double, Hold — Hitting + Hold is good. Situational, but useful. OK, Clayton has enough hitting to be a generally playable card, and hold as mentioned, can be huge.

Rollie Quisenberry (C), $5/2, No Hits, Closer, PH — A closer can win you the game. A vicious last card as the home team that lets you put in a decent power hitter on deck. If you are winning, you shut them down. If not, you swing. (But probably not as the last card, since the visitor’s on deck works). This is honestly borderline meh.

Sparky Rivera (C) $6/2 Single, Closer, Slow, PH — Another closer, and with a hit and some revenue.

Bruce Smith (C) $12/0, HR + HR, Hold — OK, two home runs is no trifling matter. Even if you don’t wind up cancelling the hits you threat two runs (plus any base clearing) and are really only vulnerable to Walk, Spitball (or Magna Glove if you have the full set of expansion). The only real issue is, can you get two good players.

Animator (R) $8/2, Double, Rally:Add a single to each remaining player, PH — OK, realistically you are going to be able to maybe play this as a rally on the third card. (Maybe 2nd as home team, if you your opponent doubles and clutches or some such. (Ignoring Start-up).  So call it three more singles. That’s a lot of hits, unless your opponent has a lot of knuckleballers that’s pretty good.

Wilbur Wagner (C), $11/2, Single + Double, Closer, Fast — Can’t PH. A good player, but for $11 you should get good value, and can probably take two decent players. I’m not sure I love closer enough to spend $11 on this, but he will undoubtedly be a good purchase some times.

The Meh:

Trevor Wilson (C), $3/0, No Hits, Closer, PH — As Rollie Quisenberry, but cheaper and no revenue. When you use him, you really will probably want some money. Almost certainly part of a multi-buy turn, so I can’t rate him terrible.

Trail Blazer (R) $4/2, Single, Rally:Single, Slow, PH — An inferior slow bot, but PH and revenue. Not a fan.

Pioneer (R), $6/1, Double, Rally:Double — Double is solid, if unspectacular. Two doubles is good, but Rally is somewhat tricky.

Sammy Sandberg (N) $4/1, Single, Teamwork (If your next player is a natural, add a single to their hit box), PH — Underwhelming. Effectively a Single + Single with a condition of tipping your hand. But maybe you can use this to get someone to hold off on a fastball from this guy. If you are buying this guy it’s hopefully because you are getting a second player. I’d probably prefer one great player, but this isn’t horrible.

Early Sutter (C) $5/1, Single, Hold, PH — An interesting card. PH makes this workable, if you get down, being able to cancel everything is huge. He doesn’t do much to get you back in, but a single may be enough. Still, preventing a blowout has a purpose. I’m torn.

Contracts to Avoid:

Richie Appling (N) $5/1, No Hits, Rally:Single, Fast, PH. — Did I type this right? If you are losing this guy gives you an unblockable fast single?

Some more thoughts about PH and Anti-Combos

One thing I haven’t explored is effectively deck trimming by getting either solid people who will almost always be worthwhile (big hitters or Glove + Hit) guys and/or a few PH people and chucking all your non-PH rookies, and then effectively trimming the deck size by using all your rookies/vets to top deck. But to do this you don’t want a lot of conditionally useful cards, because the variance will kill you.

But conditionally useful cards are also anti-combo anyway. Having 6 Quick Eyes + Sliders (both of which trigger vs Cyborgs) is overkill, most decks field ~3. Having 3+ Leadoffs are useless. (Even two is somewhat risky). Too much hold/rally/closer is risky. So ideally you’d want to have variety, but that means sometimes you draw cards and never get to use their special abilities. Still trying to figure out the balance on that. (Rally, in that sense, isn’t so bad  because if you are never behind it’s not terrible, unless of course you fall behind in the bottom of the sixth).

How much would I want of any skill?

Glove — Lots is OK. Multi-hit cards become better because it’s hard to overkill glove. Magna Glove (2x glove) cards are useful, but tend to not hit.

Fast/Curve/Slider: I’d be happy to have 2 of the fast/curve (naturals/robots) and 1 slider (vs cyborgs), unless I knew my opponent was highly lopsided in a game, having double that in a deck tends to get me the average right amount, but risks a bad split. Of course, there aren’t too many in the game, so it’s hard to get too much of this.

Double Play — These can actually count as a double glove, with the limitation that you can’t hit fast people, and you risk a clutch (or stolen base) happening, but these have their place, as they tangle with multi-hit cards. (Which makes me believe that multi-hit fast cards I need to value more).

Pickoff — A slightly inferior glove (assuming you pickoff only one person. One natural in the magna-glove expansion picks off all, including fast, which is huge). But also stops leadoff, etc.

Walk — Too many of these are anti-combo, but a hypothetical “All walk” team would effectively let your opponent score # hits – 3.  Walk does combo with Double Play, Pickoff. (Stop Barry Sosas HRs, double play them next batter).

Clutch — Anti-combos with itself, somewhat, and also with home runs. But clutch itself reduces the values of gloves (which are good) and good.

Still enjoying this, and teaching it whenever I get the chance.

Written by taogaming

May 25, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Posted in Specific Games, Strategy

Tagged with

The New Games d’jour

with 3 comments

Ristorante Italiano is a point salad game that, for the life of me, I can’t call a JASE despite that fact that it probably is one. You get 24 actions total, so make them count. Indifferent+, probably a suggest for another time or two. (We played with five, probably better with 4).

X:Com may or may not be terrible, but I’m a hater. No rule book? Rules only via App? Avoid.

Otherwise just played more Race, Beisbol, and King of New York. Good times.

Written by taogaming

May 24, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Session Reports

Tagged with ,

I’m your worst nightmare

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… A vampire with a Tommy Gun.

Shadow Hunters expansion, ah. Although I agree that the new David character (Get 3 of 4 specific items) is too weak. You need the items to show up. Worse than Bob. May have to variant it.

Also played Hansa Teutonica and I’m now totally comfortable with just saying “Tokens are worth no points.” That worked out well. I think the next thing to try, strategy wise, is going for keys. That’s really the only unexplored strategy, although I also want to try the new map.

And I’ve raised my rating on Powerboats. Once people know it, it’s fast, which was my one complaint.

A few games of BB2045 were also played. And it was good, I’ve mixed in the expansion characters, so I’ll have more thought about them eventually.

More gaming tomorrow.

Written by taogaming

May 23, 2015 at 10:43 pm

An Exclusion Bid not turning into disaster? That’s unpossible

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I’ve played Exclusion Roman Key Card Blackwood (“Exclusion” to his friends) for years. And it has never come up. This is an ace asking bid where you exclude one suit (usually because you are void, or maybe just as a psych). So I pick up the following yesterday:

S:xxx H:AQTx D:AQxx C:JT

I open 1 Diamond. LHO bids 1 Heart, and partner doubles (negative). I have an easy 1 No Trump bid, hearts aren’t an issue. Partner now bids 2 Hearts.  I’ve played with this partner quite a bit, but we both make odd bids from time to time. I’m assuming this is a general force, and not a heart check back. If the later, I want to bid 2N. But I think he’s just forcing me, so I’ll admit to having 3 card spade support. I bid 2 spades.

(Note that if LHO overcalled 1S and partner doubled then bid 2H, that would be non-forcing. Would double and then bidding 2S in this situation be non-forcing? I’m….not sure actually).

Partner now wheels out 5 hearts.

That sounds like an exclusion bid, but …. I haven’t played with this partner in a year and a half and exclusion wasn’t on our card. But I bid 5 Spades. We play 1430, so I’m showing one (non heart) ace, and denying the spade king. If partner meant 5H as a generic, “So, spade slam?” I’m not thrilled. I do have two aces, but that’s it.

Partner now bids 6 spades, and I’m wondering again. If partner meant this as exclusion, and I had no (non-heart) aces, I’d have bid 5N, forcing us to slam anyway. So now, was 5 hearts a grand try?

I fall back on the simple rule. When in doubt, don’t get cute. I pass, and hope that partner did the same.

Partner held, in fact, S:AKQTxxx H:– D:xx C:AQ9xx, so the grand slam requires the club king in the pocket (if my club spots hand’t been so good, it might require that and ruffing one round of clubs in my hand).

Partner could have gotten cute by bidding 6C which must clearly be a grand try, which would let me bid the grand if I had the club king (instead of the two queens, say). He must have been following the same rule.

So, I survived my first exclusion auction, through no fault of either party. Hooray!

(I prefer an auction I heard, that went 1D-(1H)-1S-1N;6C. Yeah, it gives up on science, but it’s easy to follow).

Written by taogaming

May 17, 2015 at 11:45 am

Posted in Bridge

Yet another reason I feel old

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Seeing the AV Club’s article on Vampire LARPs.

It’s been 20 years? Since stories about one’s characters are the lowest form of entertainment, I will merely acknowledge I playtested several versions of this, and played in an large convention based regular game for several years (eventually topping out at, oh, 300?) and some of those characters showed up in Jyhad. I don’t think I’d do that again, but those were fun times.

The setting, while interesting, makes for duller games. Far more interesting to have a setting where there are multiple dimensions of power, and I prefer slightly more plotting.  In fact, a bit of googling revealed that M.A.S.K.S.: Superheroes have it Damned Tough, which I played in the mid/late 90s, was run at RPI last year. That was a blast.

Probably my favorite LARP setting was Nursery Crimes, which predated the Fables comic and various “Children’s storybook characters / fables in the real world” TV shows (which I have not watched). In Nursery Crimes, you played a children’s book character who has grown up 20 years later. Cinderella, Barbar (whose kingdom was under siege from communist elephant Horton), Tinkerbell, Puff the Magic Dragon, a whole gamut. Unfortunately a massive blizzard ended up cancelling the game. It was a much more free-form game, basically every player had one power they were exceptional at. I was scheduled to play The Great Brain (a series I read as a child). He’d grown up and used his skills for personal gain (of course) and had just recently gotten out of a Turkish prison.

I can still remember bits from the flyer for that. I wonder if it ever ran again.

Written by taogaming

May 15, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Misc

Tagged with

The 8th Wonder of the Apocalypse

Years of game blogging have made me resistant to shame, though not immune. But even I cannot directly link to my latest atrocity, although it is on my sidebar. Still, according to the geek hierarchy this is only a sideways move for me, not a step down.

Written by taogaming

May 5, 2015 at 8:22 pm


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