The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Monopoly:Anti-Monopoly::Settlers:Spirit Island

I first had this thought when Spirit Island was released (“This is Anti-Settlers”), and having played through the Steam tutorial, I see no reason to change my mind. Spirit Island is also tapping into that Jungian “pre-industrial, back to nature, state of grace” current that made Avatar the biggest movie of all time (made solely on computer!)

Anyway, no deep thoughts on this, although I was idly wondering if there were any other game pairs where the second is an ideological reversal of the first. (I’m sure there are, but none jump out at me at this pre-caffeine moment). I “collect” such pairings. (My favorite in pop Music is “Look Back in Anger” by Bowie and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis).

So — Open thread for examples! (I’m sure there are many pedagogical games, but Settlers/Spirit actually work as games…just as Bowie/Oasis produced great songs….)

Written by taogaming

March 16, 2021 at 8:44 am

Followups to recent posts

Played another unexciting game of Beyond the Sun. On the trade pile.

Hades further thoughts:

I “finished” the base game (got the end credits) although there are still many quests to go on. (It took about 60 runs, but again — easy mode was turned on after 20). I did not mention before, excellent music. Eurydice’s song (“Good Riddance”) and the end credit music (“In the Blood“) are haunting. I will be checking out further music by Ashley Barrett. My offhand comment about the economics working does appear to have broken down — at this point some currencies are basically worthless. (Literally the next run after I wrote this, a new way to spend said currency appears).

Written by taogaming

November 21, 2020 at 9:06 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with ,

Easy Mode in Games — Video, Board, and Bored

Iain’s comment on my Hades review had a line that jumped out at me: “I haven’t yet resorted to God mode.” (God mode, in Hades, means “Easy”). I’ve long since made my peace with playing video games on — if not easy mode, then at least a difficulty I enjoy. For Slay the Spire, after beating the maximum difficulty (Ascension 20) on three of the four characters, I decided to just play at Ascension 15. I have a win rate around 15-20%, so its still quite difficult, but whenever I won Asc 20 I felt like I’d lucked into a super combo (and often got the easiest bosses with that combination).

A few days ago I managed to pull off four wins in a row at Asc 15 (one with each character). Exciting!

For me, that’s my level of interest in Slay the Spire. For Hades, Easy mode is my level of interest. (For Iain, it is not). Board games also have this as well. Many people play chess (or bridge, or Scrabble, or Gloomhaven…) well, at vastly different levels. But they still enjoy it. The Golfer fated to never break 100 (or 120) fundamentally enjoys the game, possibly more than the player struggling to break 80. Or they give it up, as I mostly did, although the urge is growing).

I gave up (tournament) Chess after realizing that making expert would take me years of wearisome grinding. I didn’t give up Bridge after making the same realization. In both cases, I made my pick and enjoyed the result.

In board games, I often do play in hard mode. I picked up 18xx after bankrupting my first few games and losing the next dozen or two. That made me want to see what I was doing wrong. It was exciting.

The first difference between a world class musician and the palooka is that the master probably enjoys the thousands of hours practice. It makes putting in the time possible. I enjoy ‘putting in the time’ in games to differing levels. I don’t count my time reading hundreds of bridge books (and magazines) as a waste. Even if I didn’t achieve world class talent.

But the tone-deaf guitarist may still enjoy the instrument, even if his fingers and ears don’t let him play well.

No real point, just reminding myself (one again) that we are here for our shared enjoyment of the game, and for board games we’re likely on the extreme end of spectrum of enjoyment. So let’s not scoff at others who may just play pickup chess games without any study, or who look at us askew if we play the same game 100s of times after they’ve “fully explored it” in two.

And, as you would be kind to others, play on easy mode if you want. Or embrace hard mode. Whatever you enjoy.

Written by taogaming

November 16, 2020 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with ,

Quarantine Buying suggestions

I think it’s time for a game purchase. I’d buy the Res Arcana expansion (if I could find a copy), since I now have 125 games under my belt. I’m thinking of also getting Quacks of Quaratine’d Quidelenbaiergishmeister (whatever), as a new family-ish/strategy-ish game-ish. Other suggestions?

Written by taogaming

April 12, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Open Thread

Some quarantine sanity tips

Here are a few to start off:

  1. Refer to anyone in your house as a ‘coworker.’ As in (“I have to go, one of my coworkers got out of the bath and is running around naked….”). To add specificity, refer to your spouse as “HR” (“…and HR wants me to deal with.”)
  2. Recreate March Madness by buying doll sized basketball jerseys and putting them on local squirrels.
  3. Take a weekend trip to the most distant parts of your house.

I personally had Chuy’s Tex-Mex yesterday, right before the Mayor’s order shutting down restaurants, which is the Texas equivalent of grabbing the rails of the last helicopter out of Saigon.

Written by taogaming

March 19, 2020 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Non-Gaming, Open Thread

Tagged with

Gaming in the Time of Corona

Honestly, I haven’t gamed much this year. So much so that — despite being a mere hour or two away from finishing my fifty-by-fifty two months ago, I haven’t made the final push. I’ve had one or two trips to the game store, a bridge tournament, and 1862 with the TaoLing.

Even before these last few weeks, I’m a gaming shut-in.

But I was going to the Gathering next month …. maybe. Literally hours before the announcement shutting down air travel from Europe I started to reconsider. I wasn’t worried about getting sick. I get the flu fairly frequently at conventions, but while I understand exponential growth, I also think the base rate of mortality and symptoms don’t warrant drastic measures. But the question is “as compared to staying at home and working, am I more or less likely to get sick.” I live in a city that released a postive person from quarantine accidentally, and went to the mall. I figured the odds that there was a carrier in my building (admittedly a huge building with more ‘retail square footage’ than the pentagon) was at least 50%, based on this Covid planner and some rough guesses, because I don’t for a second believe that the only people who are postive were identified two weeks ago.

I think the odds that I’m going to be exposed (if not already, in the next few months) is high enough that getting sick is basically a coin flip. (I figured the genie was out of that bottle two weeks ago). So getting sick wasn’t my primary concern.

My primary concern? Being half a continent from home when I got sick and/or the world went crazy. My estimate (prior to the last few days, which undoubtedly will slow the growth) was that the US will hit 100,000 cases mid next month, and I figured it would happen then. The US — in my experience — tends to grossly under-react before over-reacting. You can argue if that happened, but I personally expected more under-reaction first. Ironically the heightened scrutiny means we may hit that number faster as drastically more people test (and the various problems with the initial test kits are solved).

But ignoring my health, I have parents that would be at risk if I exposed them. And even more medically fragile in-laws.

Not that they are taking precautions. But still. And then last week happened, and we’re now in as close to a lock down as the American public is likely to accept without mass casualties. My work told at least 25% of IT to work from home for the near future, but that just happened on Friday, although some departments started a few days prior.

Anyway, I know that gaming conventions are being cancelled, game stores are shutting up their public game rooms, etc.

Bridge will be lucky if it only gets decimated, IMO. Not only is the bridge playing population the most at risk, the handling of cards involves ridiculous cootie potential. NABCs are cancelled. I haven’t paid attention to smaller tournaments (since I rarely attend) but I imagine they are going  away. Some clubs are closed because of government orders, there are efforts to move club games online (where you still only play against your local opponents), but I’m skeptical. I’ve personally played on OK Bridge or BBO since ’92 or ’93, but I think the ACBL membership is fairly luddite, and many are interested in the social aspect as much (or more) than the game aspect.

Again, losing only 10% seems conservative.

My gut feeling is that the amount of death attributed to Corona will be on the order of a bad flu season (the CDC estimate for 2017-18 is 61,000, and that was the worst year in the last decade). A bad flu year kills about 60% more people than car wrecks (there were a touch under 40k in 2019). A good flu year kills less.

But society’s reaction to this does appear to have every indication of a game changer. Nothing was stopping my (or my team) from working at home two months ago, except that my manager gave the stink-eye to anyone who did it more than once a month or so.

I suspect that gaming won’t have too many long term changes. Undoubtedly some stores/cons will go out of business (along with a ton of other struggling businesses that aren’t game related) and VASSAL and other “play board games by computers” will get a big boost in the short term. Videogames are likely to grow even more. If I bought individual stocks I’d be tempted to buy Twitch and streaming stocks.

Bridge certainly has a more dire future than general gaming.

Anyway, how are things — gaming wise — in your various wood-necks?

Update 3/16 — The local bridge clubs closed indefinitely (they had not announced as of yesterday). Also my employer confirmed that someone tested postive ‘on campus’ and likely was there last week. And I should clarify. My gut feeling is simply that, a feeling. The straight numbers indicate somewhere on the order of 2M deaths. (360M people in the US, 25-75% infection rate, 1% fatality rate). Perhaps its the normalcy bias talking, but my gut feeling is my gut feeling.

Written by taogaming

March 15, 2020 at 10:59 am

Posted in Non-Gaming, Open Thread

Tagged with

Trends in Boardgaming 2010-2019

Rather than post it here, I decided to make a geeklist on Trends in Boardgaming.

Written by taogaming

December 18, 2019 at 8:54 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with ,

Happy New Year

It’s a bit early…

Not much new on the gaming front here. The TaoLing has been ill, so its pretty much bridge and TV during the winter break. Just added Versailles 1919 to my P500 orders after seeing it on the January P500 Geeklist. (I didn’t care for Churchill, but the theme is intriguing….). I’m vaguely-but-not-really considering the “No Retreat, but even simpler” game from Carl Paredis. (The actual No Retreat Western Front game is also VBNR, even though I’m sure I’d only play it once, if that).

How’s the gaming where ya’ll are?

Update — I noticed Eric in a QE thread and so I got involved. Did you know I have a chicken that plays QE? (He switched from Boggle, where he earned a minor role in King of the Hill). Anyway, when writing thatI remembered something I read a while ago about Rationality and Newcomb’s Paradox.

First, foremost, fundamentally, above all else:

Rational agents should WIN.

Don’t mistake me, and think that I’m talking about the Hollywood Rationality stereotype that rationalists should be selfish or shortsighted.  If your utility function has a term in it for others, then win their happiness.  If your utility function has a term in it for a million years hence, then win the eon.

But at any rate, WIN.  Don’t lose reasonably, WIN. — Eliezier Yudkowsky

Written by taogaming

December 27, 2018 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Open Thread

Open Thread — What are you buying in the GMT Sale (if anything)

I could roll the dice on a few things, or perhaps try a COIN, … what are you getting (or would get, if you didn’t have already)? (See the 18 Oct update for more info).

Written by taogaming

October 21, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Open Thread

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Some of my odd ideas go to BGG

But I’m sure you knew that.

Written by taogaming

August 11, 2018 at 9:07 pm