The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Of Interest

Just finished Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. If you like his stuff, it’s fine. I liked it.

Currently reading — Legal Systems Very Different From Our Own (Draft) by David D. Friedman. As someone who reads DDF’s blog I was aware of a sizeable chunk of this, but it’s still fascinating stuff.

I particularly enjoyed the story (in the section on Jewish Law) about how God was called on to settle an obscure point of Kosher law, testified on one side (all parties conceding that God had said, “It’s A”) and then the rabbis ruled against God (“It’s B.”).

And let us not forget the line:

Trying a rock for murder may seem odd to us, but we are in a poor position to make fun of the practice, given that our legal system produces civil cases such as “The State of California vs 88 Ford Truck.”

Anyway, I don’t run Role-Playing Games anymore, but if I you do, definitely check this out. (He doesn’t quote a paper I read, that I actually thought was his, on an interesting application and rationale for trial by divine ordeal). A treasure trove of ideas. His page on Academics has a bunch of other interesting reads.

Psst — Rick and Morty did a commercial. It’s … odd.

Played a bunch of games yesterday:

Njet — Helpful hint, never design a game whose title is also the most succinct (negative) review imaginable. Avoid.

Wings for the Baron — This seemed like a luck fest, but I might try it again. Indifferent.

W1815 — I’m not sure if I’m sold on this, but it was a rather elegant minimalistic game. You have a few units and eight (ish) cards for each side. On your turn you activate a card, roll a die, and apply the results. Then it’s your opponents turn. Some cards get bonuses/penalties if they activate right after the appropriate card. Some cards are one use, or have conditions where they flip over and change the rules. Looking over the (very few) comments on BGG I see that Sumo is a fan. Suggest (for now).

Automobiles — I’m not a huge fan of Trains, it was fine. But I liked a deck builder coupled with a spatial element. Automobiles does it by merging deckbuilder with cars racing around a track and my gut feeling is this is the one I’ve been waiting for. You pull cubes from a bag (ala Puzzle Strike), and use randomizer cards to determine what each cube can do. Red cubes are “suspension” but the “suspension” ability may change from game to game. You draw out cubes, and spend them to do special abilities, or get money, or move your race car around the track.  The base cubes have different gears, and are equivalent to copper/silver/gold/platinum, but you can only use 6th gear on straitaways, for example (and 6th gear spots are effectively 8 spaces long, letting you cover much more space, but 3rd gear cubes are useful almost anywhere).  And you gain “wear cubes” by pushing hard, but can avoid them by drafting. So you have a number of different setups (there are 5? 6? different cube colors, each with 3-5 cards) and you have two tracks (a Nascar oval and Monaco) and you can play a variety of race lengths (3-7 laps). Not quite a purchase, but I’m intrigued. My only complaint is that 4th and 5th gears are hard to distinguish (light and dark grey).   Suggest


Written by taogaming

December 1, 2015 at 5:59 pm

2 Responses

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  1. You should now read Kim Stanley Robinson’s _Aurora_ — it’s almost like it’s in a conversation with Seveneves.

    Frederic Bush

    December 1, 2015 at 11:38 pm

  2. Nyet!’s a decent enough game. It’s sort of Barbu-very-lite with an annoying endgame issue. Two of the four players are eliminated part way through the last hand. If you are in third place, you need to pick the last-place player as your partner to have a chance to win. You have to beat the second-place player to the shot; he wants to pick either you or the last-place player. First and last don’t care. So second and third are going to Nyet each other, and then someone else gets to be kingmaker. But by then the game is 90% over, so it’s not a big deal. A solution is to place value on second place.

    The normal play has a fair bit of interest, but it’s only for trick-taking card game enthusiasts. It’s not a great game, but it’s definitely playable. It lasts about 40 minutes with nearly zero downtime for anyone. I don’t know if the new edition changed anything. Only play with four.


    December 2, 2015 at 8:02 pm

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