The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

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2017 Year in Review

Well, here’s the damage:

  • 70 different games (counting the various Quartermaster General titles as separate games).
  • 225-ish total games, including 75 games of Jump Drive and 48 sessions of Bridge

The low total is mostly accounted by the general malaise of the times, the TaoLing’s new schedule, and Factorio.

The notables:

  • The aforementioned 75 games of Jump Drive
  • A mere 48 sessions of Bridge
  • About 30 games of Mage Knight
  • 19 games of High Frontier, mostly in a few months around the Gathering
  • 9 games of Magic Realm, mostly in January
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse squeaked in with a dime, at 13 games, but probably 5 of those were last week.
  • Magic Maze gets a dime, as does Boggle
  • Other nickels: Android Netrunner, Fairy Tale, Bowling Solitaire, Power Grid the Card Game, Star Realms, and Poker.

The bad noteworthy

After buying the Colonists (based on a single 2-era game) I played only a quick learning game with the TaoLing. Poor showing for a new game, a poor showing. I managed to squeeze in 1846 on New Year’s Eve. With a ton of rules wrong. For older games, I also played a game of Combat Commander Europe. Not many purchases. Colonists, High Frontier, Jump Drive (technically that was right before this year, I think), Magic Maze, Wild Blue Yonder, maybe another small game or two.

Anyway, Happy New Year!



Written by taogaming

January 1, 2018 at 1:36 am

I’d never considered ordering from Cool Mini Or Not ….

Since I don’t really buy minis. Imagine my surprise that I’ve placed an order with them. Especially since (AFAIK) I’ve never told them my (admittedly not hard to find email address) or even visited their website.

OK, I didn’t place an order. Someone else did. The invoice gives me a name, shipping address, a partially redacted CC number etc.

So, I tried to do the right thing and email their support address (given in the invoice) to say “Hey, maybe you don’t want to send your customers information to random people”

And … no, apparently the email that was generated a few hours ago has out of date information.

No, I will not call you up or order a ticket to fix your problem.

So — I would strongly advise against doing any business with them. They’ve earned it.  At worst? Some spam marketing thing or phishing. Best case? Mishandling customer data

Personal memo to K__ V______. Enjoy your Shael Hon stuff. Whatever that is.

Written by taogaming

December 8, 2017 at 10:46 pm

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The Latest

I’d been waiting for Magic Maze to show up at the game store. It never did. However — Barnes and Noble got it, and the TaoLing’s class was having a fundraiser there (anything you but they get 10%), so I got it. B&N has a shockingly good games section. Way too many tie-ins … (seriously, Game of Thrones Settlers of Catan? The pure-non-conflict Euro meets the Red Wedding? Sheesh)  but there are jewels there.

Anyway, after a few games 2 player, I came up with an obvious variant:

Use the four player tiles and rotate them normally, so you only change 1/2 of what you do each rotation (instead of having the same things always grouped). For more weirdness, assign a tile to each hand, and then you have to do the actions with the correct hand.

Magic Maze isn’t great two player, but its not necessarily easier. We managed to lose several times, but now we’re at the “full game” (Scenario 7).

Haven’t tried solo Magic Maze. Doesn’t seem like it would be goodl

After a few weeks off, picked up my Factorio Mega-base again. Coming along nicely. Last time I posted I was at 20 rockets at 55 hours. I improved smelting, got more oil refining. This required breaking the 1 Gigawatt barrier and an hour or two of tactical nuclear devices to pacify the natives and clear out more area for mining.  Anyway, I’m at around 85 hours and 210 rockets. Always something to improve.

Written by taogaming

December 3, 2017 at 11:18 pm

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Watching AlphaGo

Apparently its much stronger while using only 10% of its CPU. (Echoes of the “humans only use 10% of their brain” myth). The interesting thing is that apparently Ke Jie used some of AlphaGo’s opening moves and there’s a weird grouping in the upper left.  (Even though the game was over, I’m watching a ‘real time’ video with commentary….with some web browsing while waiting for moves)

I’m certainly not good enough to comment, but even with a glancing knowledge you can see how AlphaGo has changed the conventional wisdom about the game…

Written by taogaming

May 23, 2017 at 8:22 pm

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More Factorio, all the time

  1. I watched Anti-Elitz’s new WR speedrun live. Another “Well, I can’t get any geekier” moment come and gone. (I actually went and had lunch during some of the early restarts, but I saw the last 1.5 hours of the WR run). As I said to Mrs. Tao — The difference between this and the rest of the nation’s sports viewing today is that they’ll never actually play college basketball. (Some of A.E.s new designs are clever, although he’s optimizing for fewest keystrokes/mouseclicks instead of other aspects. But optimization is optimization).
  2. I wrote an actual strategy post for Factorio and posted it to reddit. It concerns the use of negative feedback to promote factory resilience. And I say (with all due modesty) that a) that’s a better title and b) more use of control theory than my Master’s Thesis. That would have really depressed me 25 years ago.

Written by taogaming

March 26, 2017 at 7:49 pm

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Factorio Train Debugging

(This post is so that people can help debug my train layout. Nothing to see here unless you are into that).

Update — There is a single rail missing right above the station in the first picture. But you can’t see it because the toolbar blocks it, and the locomotive obscures the view. Thanks to everyone who helped.)

Here’s the layout. The train can go to OilLoading-1 or OilLoading-2 but not back to OilUnloading.

Map Layout


Here’s a look at the OilUnloading Station. I think it says NoPath because … honestly I’m not sure. If I hit “Go to OilLoading-1” it does. Is it trying to go to Unloading even though its there?

Unloading station

Walking to the NW, we can see a junction. The most likely culprit.

Main intersection


Continuing, its a long stretch with a few links just to break things up (for future traffic).

Next links

More links


Finally we get towards the outpost.

Join into loading station

loading station


Ideas appreciated.

Written by taogaming

March 25, 2017 at 5:40 pm

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Bright Lights, Bad Kitty

So, the TaoLing got the new Machi Koro for his birthday. I would have recommended he save his money, because the scuttlebutt was that it was not great value — especially since we already have Machi Koro. But  I was not consulted. So — how does it play?

Bad Kitty has a number of incremental improvements over base game plus harbor:

  1. Instead of having 10 available cards, you have 5 ‘cheap’ (1-6 cost) cards and 5 expensive (7+) cards and two purple cards (which are their own stack). This is a good idea. You could replicate this by sleeving your game with three different colors, or just stacking them. I’ll probably steal this.
  2. The 22 cost development is “Roll three dice, choose 2” which seems better, and is also liftable into the base game.
  3. There are a few new buildings.

The new buildings are decent. The Member’s only club is a red 12-14 that steals all of an opponents money, if they have 3+ developments finished. The french restaurant is a ‘5’ red that steals 5 if they have 2+ developments finished. There is a building that forces you to undevelop one of your developments, but pays $8. And another building that forces you to give up a building to an opponent for $4.

So? My opinion? This is a perfectly fine version of Machi Koro with a few nice improvements, but not worth $30 if you already have it. [I am ignoring the much worse box insert, with which I agree, and complaints about poor card quality, which I did not notice].

Rating — Whatever your rating of Machi Koro is, roughly. For me? Suggest.

Written by taogaming

October 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

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