The Tao of Gaming

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A bit more of Memorial Day

I played another Bios:MF game. It’s growing on me.

I played 2/3rds of a game of Patchistory (time constraints). I was intrigued and like the Patch-ing idea as a novel way to show your growth, but something felt off. A few somethings, actually.

  • I was terminally short of politics, as I didn’t win one on T1 and then none showed up for auction again for several turns. You can buy politics — if you have three already.
  • The auction … ugh. Its like a worse version of Amun-Re … if you get outbid you can switch tiles but can’t lower your price to the value of that tile.
  • The wars/trade transport I don’t have any complaints in our game, but it could be weird.

Checking Geekbuddy comments I see that those are pretty common complaints….

Watching the Ketchup Mechanism video on Heavy Cardboard …. I’m clearly going to buy this (I played FCM as well yesterday) but it was nice to see.  I placed my order with Splotter directly (after a brief moment where the cart charged me €120 I realized it didn’t have my shipping address, and once I avoided the VAT it fell to a reasonable price). But in the meantime I’ll likely print out a new set of milestones to just try that out soon.


Written by taogaming

May 29, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Memorial Day Gaming at Casa de Tao leads to two quick thoughts

Bios Megafauna — Played a few 2p “Tooth and Claw” (basic) games. Seems dominated by luck. You get 11 turns (assuming no early ending) but even in the basic (non-roller coaster) game, you can easily have your entire turn (or more) dominated by an event. For example, the TaoLing takes two mutations. Done! I take a mutation and populate. Random event causes two plus organs to degrade … which kills both of the TaoLings mutations (and mine). Two turns later a mutation roll at snake eyes kills two species. OK.

Now, High Frontier has some high variance rolls — (failure rolls), but ways to mitigate. And there’s a lot of legit planning in space mission. But getting 22 actions and having them helped or hindered by random events that do a lot more than the actions (sometimes)…. Well, it’s an experience game, you say. American Megafauna was too long, but the number of decisions seemed much higher. I do want to try the roller coaster game, perhaps so much more randomness (but with known dark heart limits, for example) makes it better.

One surprising thing — Once you know it the game goes fast. I mean, 45m for 2p seems reasonable. But teaching it (and learning) is a bear. I did really like the Heavy Cardboard walkthrough video, which I watched (the first half of) to check my rules after the first game and to pick up the roller coaster rules (roughly). If they have a video on Neanderthal and/or Greenland I’m likely to watch it.

Initial Rating — Still withholding judgement,probably in the “noble failure” subcategory for me. But I might play another half dozen times before deciding.

Tiny Towns — A clever shape tile / resource management game that I don’t love, but I appreciate that its not the same old thing (unless I’ve missed a trend on that). Only one game, but I’d play a few more times. (It seems that a relatively simple strategy of working from the corners to edges to center made it relatively easy (spatially) to avoid blocking yourself, but maybe I just got lucky. The fact that there’s a solitaire game is of interested, but is likely to puzzley and not gamey enough for me.

Also played this weekend — Bohnanza, Eclipse, Code 777, Res Arcana (may write more about that in a week or two), Sentinels of the Multiverse, Fairy Tale

Tomorrow is an extended edition of the normal monday game day, so perhaps there will be more new games…

Written by taogaming

May 26, 2019 at 11:31 pm

A milestone

As of this weekend, I’m sure I’ve played 1,000 plays of games designed by Tom Lehmann. And while most of those games aren’t long, that’s still a lot of time and a lot of games. (I probably went over the mark sometime during last year’s wave of Jump Drive, but I hadn’t thought to check until now).

In fact, my H-index for Tom’s games? Hm. It turns out to be NINE. (And if you counted Race Expansions separately, like counting Race+Xeno as “Xeno” it would be thirteen … you’d add the five expansions, but Pizarro would drop off)

  1. Race for the Galaxy
  2. Jump Drive
  3. The City
  4. To Court the King
  5. Fast Food Franchise
  6. Roll through the Galaxy
  7. Phoenicia
  8. Res Arcana (you knew it was coming)
  9. Pizarro & Co has thirteen plays.

There are probably a handful of his games I’ve played ~5 times, but mostly not logged as pre-BGG (Throneworld, 1846 still only has four plays, Mystic War, Suzerain, Starship Merchants, Roll through the Ages: Iron Age, Favor of the Pharaoh, Time Agent, 2038

My review of Res Arcana after a few more (hopefully 3-4 player) plays.

Written by taogaming

April 6, 2019 at 7:49 pm

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Life, the Universe, and Gaming-things

Written by taogaming

March 21, 2019 at 8:56 pm

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Thoughts about recent games


  • Regarding Jeff G’s comment about “it just ended.” Before we encountered the end we had a similar problem where its not clear what scenarios we can do. But I think we forgot to write down a party acheivement. (And we did the final scenario early, because the TaoLing missed one of the requirements had to be fulfilled multiple times. So, room for improvement and/or better design for campaign books. No doubt one or more of the apps handles this, but I don’t have any apps. (Update— based on Sean’s comment below, I’m using “the end” as Jeff did … the end of the main villain, the ‘big bad.’ It is not the ending of the game or even the scenarios (of which I’ve now played a bit north of 1/3rd). I did not mean the town record or anything. I don’t particularly care about ‘the story,’ it’s a nice thing to have, but not why I play board games. Another note, last night I opened some content that revealed a little puzzle-y thing. I have zero interest in this and just glanced a spoiler thread to confirm that I miss nothing of value).
  • I also agree that the money could be a bit looser. I keep expecting something to say “Double all money you receive” or otherwise discount things, because things like enchanting a mid-level card are basically impossible or something you have to sell all your stuff to do.
  • After three dozen-ish games we had seven or eight characters retire. One was a cheat, because we just said that taking a character up to level 9 is enough of a reason to retire (if you haven’t hit the others). Once you have a dozen or two games in the campaign some of the cards get much easier because they require a specific thing you’ve acquired or you have unlocked the final scenario you need to beat. One character started and retired after ~5 games. (Another took about ~8). Some scenarios are — while not literally required — big enough to fulfill 50% or more of your requirements. (If my new character had started ~4 scenarios earlier, he could have retired after a single perfect scenario, despite his goal being quite generic)! But we’ve already played that, so I’m not going to “go back”). Other scenarios do nothing to help your goals. It is hard to tell for some goals which scenario is which.
  • There is actually a really good mix of scenarios, and the fact that there is fan based content and other expansions is nice. I’m clearly going to make this to fifty games, and I suspect I’ll get to 100 just by finishing the 99 base game scenarios (or dungeons).
  • Achievements are also based on party dynamics. The TaoLing often plays characters that go invisible and suck up gold and treasures, which makes any looting based achievement harder. Possibly the game could have had “starting advancements” for the first characters (two for the scoundrel, two for the brute, etc) and then randomized the rest. But given the components that was just perhaps too much. Or perhaps some cards could say “Do not use for your first character!” at the top and you just draw two until you have reasonable choices.
  • I think we’ve gotten a fair number of rules wrong, but it really doesn’t matter too much.
  • You set your levels based on “Average party level / 2 rounded up.” As a practical matter we’re pretty much been at Level 3 for most of the campaign. I do like that some scenarios vary the levels for individual monsters. I wish more did that.


  • I’m enjoying the new science recipes, but I quickly turned off biters again. Once 0.17 is stable I may play a biter-enabled game… probably a train map SpaceX…


  • I taught a few gamers (who had expressed an interest) bridge for a few hours. Tournament this weekend….


  • I played QMG:Prelude. I’m down on (non-varietal) expansions, but I’ve got to admit this was a bizarre fun little mini game that totally changed the feel. Germany started on the ropes (because a UK army, which we just said was actually a French army, started in Western Europe. German blitzed it, built an army using a pre-war card, and then knocked the UK out of the North Sea, but that failed and the UK attacked Western Europe again!). By mid game it became clear that this was an Allied win, but would it be an unconditional surrender on T15 or later, and the Axis just managed to hold on for a conditional surrender on T20. This also makes Economic Warfare early on better, because the prelude response cards require a discard to activate.


  • I’ve finally pledged a kick starter for the 2nd Root expansion, despite not having played the first. But I did play a game with the Vagabond (and lost), but enjoyed it.

Bios Megafauna et al:

  • Apomorphies, cratons, and a bunch of other words I don’t understand? Why yes, I did get a new Eklund game. (Actually, three. I suspect these are all in the play once and then get rid of, but who knows. But it will take me a while to read the rules…It seems like SMG has finally learned how to put the rules in the right order, but they have two interleaved color coded sets to work out. At least Bios Megafauna’s rule book is a type that I seem to be able to read, Neanderthal’s type was hard to make out. My poor eyes….

Written by taogaming

March 15, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Quack Doctors and Geese Followers

Played a game of the Quacks of Quedlinburg. It’s a bag builder, you draw some tiles. White (foam?) tiles are bad and if you get too many your pot ‘splodes and you get only money (to buy non-white tiles) and points. I quickly discovered a losing strategy. Draw 6 white tiles in row (with 7 out of a bag of twelve). Good news, there’s a catch up mechanism that’s reasonable. After drawing another string of white tiles, I then got a huge bonus equal to about half a round. Then an event card doubled my bonus and I had a huge turn, enough to put me only a turn behind.

Then another player tried my strategy of drawing mostly white tiles (by this point 8 out of a bag of 20-ish) and ‘sploded in the final round. Definitely a losing strategy.

I mean, this is a push your luck game, and its fast. But the best phrase I can some up with is “Inoffensive.”

I also played my 3rd game of Broads and Oats (a mere 12.5 years after my second game!). I think we’re playing it a little wrong .. focusing on goods without growing transport means that — like clockwork, a midgame “Aha — I take these bricks from an area you built up.” (They aren’t your bricks, even if you did all the work to start the quarry). There’s probably a better balance … getting a 4th donkey or a raft is probably more of a priority than we make it.

I had a decent start (a sawmill on my home space, with two woods and a quarry next to it) and built up a road network and a wagon factory (eventually getting to 4 wagons). That meant that now I out-transported my “thief.”So I declared that the compounded interest on few bricks over that many turns was whatever I found lying around, which turned out to be a piece of gold and a brick or two.

I’d researched the extra shaft technology so (thanks to my usury), I had 7 gold (instead of 3) at midgame and decided to rush the monument. (Also solving my “don’t leave too many resources lying around to tempt people” problem). Rachel built a mint (which converts two gold and iron? Charcoal? into coins, basically doubling the gold’s value).

I promised to leave her stuff alone (and there were oodles of items lying around) if she didn’t wall off the roads connecting us.

She didn’t well me off, I kept my promise. I got 3 uses of the mint to end up with 130 base points to her 50 (and something like 50, as one player built a specialized second mind) and then finished the wonder before that truck factory the other two players ‘shared’ meant that I was out tech’ed.

I like the promise of Roads and Boats, but the turn order system and research system just keep slipping out of my head. Although its a long game I’ve never really seen the entire second half of the technology tree. I don’t know if that means we’re overproducing the wonder (the players control it). This game saw no water transport (despite being one of the standard maps with the normal amount of rivers, lakes, etc). I don’t think we’ve ever built a stock market, much less used it. Nor airports. (And I’ve never tried the &tc expansion, which is probably for the best). Still, I should play it more than twice a decade.

Written by taogaming

February 26, 2019 at 8:29 pm

1889: History of Shikoku Railways

1889 is pretty much a straight 1830 (assuming I got the rules right), but made for 2-5 players and shorter. We played for 2.5 hours before we called it. (I had relatively new opponents, which slowed the game down a bit).

Rating — Pretty much whatever you rate 1830 (with maybe a small kick for novelty). For me that’s suggest.

Written by taogaming

February 14, 2019 at 9:55 pm

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