The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Archive for the ‘Open Thread’ Category

How long have I been tabletop gaming?

Aldie posted this question on the geek, and I thought I’d answer here. I remember typical kids board games from an early age and playing “Adult” boardgames (which meant Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit at that time) from 10 or so on. I have flashes of memories like standing in the “Asian” store in the mall as a child, looking at a Go set, wondering. (I eventually bought it as a teenager). At some point I discovered Games magazine and got some games I saw in it, including a nearly full set of Supremacy. (One of my high school friends swallowed a pink piece, because he thought they looked like Skittles). During H.S. I also played a lot of tournament Chess, but in college I switched to Bridge and some board games (discovering the classics of Cosmic Encounter, Kremlin, Wiz War and Illuminati), but it was in Grad School and the CMU game club that it really took off. (That the site is still there — despite not having been touched in a decade — is impressive. I learned HTML writing pages for that site).

My introduction to Euros was via R.G.B and an order or two with Adam Spielt (which apparently closed in 2015).

Written by taogaming

January 8, 2023 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Misc, Open Thread

So, what’s new besides the year?

Another year, another open thread on any recent media obsessions you have.

  • Treason (the Netflix miniseries with Charlie Cox). — It’s ok, but ever since Rick and Morty murdered the idea of a prologue where you then go “X days/weeks earlier” I’ve been annoyed with that trope. Which was I think the writer’s point.
  • I did finish Cyberpunk Edgerunners and it was pretty good.
  • I have been obsessed with Dani DaOrtiz ever since his appearance on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us in November. Honestly, if you haven’t seen it and have any interest in magic, its amazing. (See for example, having a spectator find a card in a washed deck). If you want to follow me down the rabbit hole, he’s got a number of videos on his channel (some in Spanish). See also this article (the ‘Cien por Cien’ full show is on youtube).

How about you?

Written by taogaming

January 1, 2023 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Open Thread, TV & Media

Tagged with

Thoughts about Awards and the 20th Century Project

I have been known — from time to time — to ever so gently push back against the Game of the Year awards. It’s fun, drives traffic to blogs and magazines (pre-internet blogs for you kids), and some gatekeepers make good coin from them. But as anyone who glances at a list of Oscar Winning films knows, the test of time takes time….

So rather than do a game of the year or decade award, I was thinking, what were the best games of the 20th century. We’re nearly a quarter century past, so there has been time. And it is fun.

I think all genres of games could be included (perhaps excluding arcade video games and only allowing videogames that were played at home) …. what should the criteria be? Well, fun and importance seem good. Sometimes the first game that defines a genre is eclipsed by the second game in that genre, so a combined award might be possible. If a game is still being played that is a good sign (video games will suffer from the problem that hardware is so much better now, but games that invented genres will likely still be recognizable). I don’t think we need to define it much. Obviously as a board gamer, I’m going to prioritize those (its my project!) but let’s be open minded, but I may end up only doing boardgames.

For now we’ll say we’re aiming for the Top 100 Games (for 100 years, that seems right).

So, let’s start brainstorming the nominees. Perhaps I may run a vote.

Games I definitely think should be in (in alphabetical order):

  1. 1829/1830
  2. Acquire
  3. Axis and Allies
  4. Battle Cry
  5. Bridge
  6. Civilization (combined award for board and videogame)
  7. Clue
  8. Cosmic Encounter
  9. Diplomacy
  10. Dungeons and Dragons
  11. Empire Builder
  12. Magic the Gathering
  13. Monopoly
  14. Risk
  15. Rogue/Nethack
  16. Scrabble
  17. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (I’ve never played, but it seems important?)
  18. Settlers of Catan
  19. Squad Leader/ASL
  20. Warhammer 40K
  21. We the People (Perhaps a combined award with PoG or something)
  22. Werewolf/Mafia
  23. Yahtzee
  24. Zork

Games that merit consideration:

  1. 6 nimmt!
  2. Ace of Aces! (And the other book combat series?)
  3. Ambush!
  4. Apples to Apples
  5. Battleship
  6. Blood Bowl
  7. Boggle / Big Boggle
  8. Bohnanza
  9. Car Wars
  10. Can’t Stop
  11. Dark Tower
  12. Doom
  13. DungeonQuest
  14. El Grande
  15. East Front
  16. Euphrat und Tigris
  17. For Sale
  18. Formula De’
  19. GURPS
  20. Hare and Tortoise
  21. History of the World
  22. Hoax
  23. Hoity Toity / Adel Verpflichtect
  24. Illuminati!
  25. Legend of Zelda
  26. Lord of the Rings (Knizia Co-op, but its 2000 and I think I’m defining this as 1900-99, but maybe I’ll let 2000 in)
  27. Lost Cities
  28. Magic Realm
  29. Merchant of Venus
  30. Netrunner
  31. Nuclear War
  32. Ra
  33. Rail Baron
  34. RoboRally
  35. Rommel in the Desert
  36. Rummikub
  37. Scotland Yard
  38. Strat-O-Matic Baseball
  39. Paths of Glory
  40. Sim City
  41. Sorry!
  42. Star Fleet Battles
  43. Stratego
  44. Subbuteo
  45. Super Mario Bros
  46. Taboo
  47. Tetris
  48. Tichu
  49. Time’s Up / Celebrities
  50. Talisman (sigh)
  51. Titan
  52. Trivial Pursuit (On the one hand it was huge, but trivia games have always been around)
  53. UNO (I can’t bring myself to put it on the top list, but it probably belongs there)
  54. Um Reifenbreite
  55. Up Front
  56. World in Flames

Things I’m likely missing:

Miniature Wargame Systems, Important wargames, (because while I may narrow this focus down to board games only, wargames are certainly in the mix). Possibly more RPGs and CCGs?

There are lots of 90s Euros I’m tempted to put on the list, but that’s because they are the most recent things allowed. To be sure there was a Cambrian explosion at the time, so that makes sense, but I also wonder if I’m biasing it because that’s when I got started.

So, what do you think I forgot?

Update — I’ll put new games I added after the original posting below (either because of a comment or because I thought of it later), so that people can just check here. I’ll put the ones from the comments with my thoughts below. Most of the suggestions that I missed are simply oversights, or games I thought of but suspected it was just that I liked the game. A few I had considered and rejected, but maybe I’m wrong. (A few I explain in more detail)

  1. United (PBM/PBEM soccer). Some other PBM games deserve to be on the list. 50 Years of Text Adventures mentioned a few, but the only game I’m aware of is United and that 3 Muskeeters game that the Brits run.

Games from the comments below

  1. Tales of the Arabian Knights (Just forgot about this)
  2. B-17
  3. Battletech
  4. Breaking Away (I debated this, but though it was pretty obscure … was it that influential?)
  5. Canasta (Surprised to find this was invented in the ’30s)
  6. Die Macher (Has Die Macher really been that influential? Played past the 90s?)
  7. Dune (Thought about this then forgot to add it).
  8. Final Fantasy (Agreed, never played it, but clearly)
  9. Junta (I think this was a flash in the pan, admittedly one that I played. Not sure I see it).
  10. Kingmaker
  11. Loopin Louie (I was wondering if this was just a local flavor)
  12. Mu and More (I disagree with this one. It had no staying power).
  13. OGRE/GEV
  14. Once Upon a Time
  15. Outpost (Love it, not sure at all it belongs)
  16. Over the Reich (this may be on of those niches that is too nichey, but sure, it certainly has a dedicated following. More if you include The Speed of Heat, etc for different eras. The genre is a reasonable nominee.)
  17. Pit
  18. Piktionary
  19. Pokemon
  20. Pitch-car
  21. Set (ditto)
  22. Slapshot (popular in the Sumo crowd, but I don’t see it. Never considered it).
  23. Take it Easy (an Oversight, but seems like a reach, but maybe the simultaneous play)
  24. Texas Hold ‘Em (I was debating if this really counted, as Poker predates the century and has hundreds of variants, but it probably counts).
  25. Third Reich (and A3R)
  26. Ultima Series (possibly Wizardry Series, but Ultima was much bigger, I think).
  27. Wise and Otherwise (Hm. Now that you say that, I think Balderdash is the precursor, but I haven’t researched it).

As for the none-game comments (or what should be included or adjacent, I’m still pondering those).

Another update — Playing “Downforce” made me remember Daytona 500, which is certainly worth considering.

Written by taogaming

November 12, 2022 at 9:46 am

Withdraw while the Iron is Cold

Well, I’ve taken the TaoLing back to college. Among other things, that means that my prior description of Space Station Phoenix as an “auto-buy” is rescinded. There’s already a local copy, my opponent is gone, what’s the point? I still haven’t even seen a copy for sale in a local store. If I still want a copy when he gets back from college in four months, perhaps it will be available or I can trade for one…

I pre-ordered GMT’s Mr. President six years ago, but when I noticed it was getting close to the printers, I decided to cancel. Six years is a plenty enough to get cold feet (and between Churchill and Versailles 1919 I’m warier than I used to be).

Would I cancel Stationfall if that were an option (after a year of delays?) It’s borderline no, but I might feel differently if it were an option, if only to express my displeasure at the delays.

No particular point, although I guess this is the downside (for game companies) of FOMO. Games that I have no particular time frame attached to (like Horseless Carriage) are much less likely to give me second thoughts. (And kudos to Splotter for letting me cancel my accidental second copy, after I forgot I’d pre-ordered it last year and ordered again…)

Open Thread — Is this just the flipside of FOMO? More curmudgeonry? A peeve turned into a beef?

Written by taogaming

August 15, 2022 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Open Thread

Ark Nova Open Thread

There are times when my resistance to playing a game means that I am greatly hampered during game night, and Ark Nova has become the latest. It is in constant play. From my (brief glimpses) Ark Nova seems cast from the same flawed mold as Terraforming Mars (another hamperer):

  • Fiddly and long…
  • Containing a massive deck of cards…
  • of which you only see a small fraction of (each game)…

So, in my mind, a 2.5 hour single hand of poker (perhaps a few hands).

Am I wrong? Open thread thoughts on Ark Nova.

Written by taogaming

May 18, 2022 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Open Thread

Tagged with

Your Media recommendations for the New Year?

I did watch a fair amount of Netflix over the holidays, but it was mostly Supernatural (which I’ve been watching in bursts and starts for nearly a decade …. and I’m now to the penultimate season). Truly a popcorn kind of show, almost never surprising, but not necessarily in a bad way. What else did I see?

  • Asakusa Kid (a reasonable if not great biopic on Beat Takeshi’s early days, based on his book of the same name)
  • The new season of Aggretsuko. Good if you like that.
  • Don’t Look Up — A good idea for a satire but the first rule of comedy is be funny and this did have many laughs.
  • I did see Dune in the theaters. I liked it (great visuals).
  • The new Suspira. Not as good as a hoped, but at least not a boilerplate horror movie.
  • I kind of watched Red Notice when the TaoLing was watching it. They cast Deadpool to play Deadpool in a heist movie, so it’s fine and quip-tastic.

So, open thread on Media you liked or disliked. I doubt I’ll watch much, but its nice to know what to keep an eye on. And your bonus debate topic for the evening.

RESOLVED — Superhero movies are not worth supporting anymore.

I’m a fairly firm “pro” … and I suspect I’ve got a reasonable percentage of the public. The audience at Dune groaned when the trailer for “The Batman” became clear what it was …. (I haven’t watched the superhero TV shows, so I restricted the topic to movies).

Written by taogaming

January 2, 2022 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Open Thread, TV & Media

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

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