The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Slay the Spire

During the Steam Winter Sale I picked this up for $12 ish. This is another rogue-like (similar to Dicey Dungeons), except that your character is basically:

  • A Dominion deck, plus
  • A Collection of power-ups, plus
  • a few stats (HP, max HP, $$, etc)

And as you “Climb the Spire” you gain new cards, trash a few old ones, and get the power ups.

Like FTL, the game isn’t impossible to beat, but it definitely takes some finesse. And while there’s no “Easy/Normal/Hard” once you finally beat the game with each character you can start trying to be the “Ascension” game with increasing levels of difficulty. I thought after 20 hours it was getting some what samey, but even Ascension Level 1 adds a fair amount.

And — you know — $12.

Rating — Suggest

Written by taogaming

December 24, 2019 at 10:36 pm

Problematic hands

While I think that Polish Club is a good system, it has a few weaknesses. One big one is strong hands with primary diamonds and a secondary major, or two suited hands with the minors. (Standard American also has problems handling these in the strong and artificial 2 Club opening). So … while we open 1 Club with “Most” 18 point hands, we will sometimes open 1 diamond with a hand up to about 20 or 21 HCP. But normally those only show up a few times a year.

Playing at the club, I pick up S:x H:AK D:KQTxx C:AKJxx

Tough. If I open 1 Club I won’t be able to show both minors below 4 Clubs, when 3N is the right place. So I open 1 Diamond. Partner bids 1 Heart and I bid an artificial 2N. (Since we open all balanced hands 1 Club or Notrump, this bid is free). This shows an strong (18+) hand, either primary diamonds or a minor two suiter. Partner bids 3 Diamonds, showing that if I have a minor two suiter, he prefers diamonds.

That’s excellent news. Unless partner is 4=3 in the minors he likely has a doubleton club and 3+ diamonds, taking care of a diamond loser. No point in fooling around. I bid 4 Hearts, key card blackwood in diamonds (kickback) and partner bids 4 Spades, showing one ace. Since we have a loser,  I settle for 6 diamonds, which should be pretty reasonable.

LHO leads the spade king and I find out that partner has pretty much the worst hand.

S:ATx H:T9xxx D:8xx C:Tx

Partner took a shot at improving the contract, but not only does he have the ‘wrong’ ace he has no extras. But he could have a lot more points and this would still be dicey, so I have no complaints.

I win the ace and have to decide how to play. I can finesse the clubs, but then I’ll need something good to happen in diamonds and I may still have a club loser. But if the diamond ace is onside (or maybe the jack) I don’t really need much in clubs. Any 3-3 break or the long hand to have the long trump. So I play the diamond off dummy and RHO follows with the jack. I win with the diamond king.

If the diamond jack was stiff I’m down, but I think it was from AJ tight, so I can make if RHO has two or three clubs (because if he over-ruffs dummy he won’t be able to pull dummy’s last trump). I lead the AK and a small club and LHO stares at this and shows up with the diamond nine. Ah well.

Amazingly I pick up another problematic hand later the same session.

S:AKxx H:– D:AQTxxx C:AJx

I open 1 Diamond again, and LHO bids 1 Heart which goes Pass Pass to me. I bid 2 spades, which could be weaker than what I actually have but partner will strive to keep the auction alive. Partner bids 3 Spades and I reveal the monster hand by making a slam try with 4 Clubs. Partner bids 4 Diamonds — possibly a singleton but likely the diamond king. I don’t have quite enough to force, but I try again with 4 Hearts. Partner bids 4 Spades.

After some thought, I pass. If I give partner the diamond king, what else can he have. If he has the club king and the spade queen (as well as four spades), he wouldn’t have passed over 1 Heart. Even with two kings he may have bid with a spare jack, especially). Realistically the best hand he could have is the spade queen + diamond king or two kings.  And Hank isn’t shy. If he had that he might have taken control.

I don’t think he has it.

I get a spade lead (the ten) and I see I’m right:

S:9xxxx H:Qx D:Kx C:Txxx

I win the Spade A and K (RHO following once, but then discarding), so I have a spade loser, but when diamonds break I can pitch three clubs from dummy and make six.

Still — a club lead would set the slam (unless spades split) so it’s reasonable to not be there.

Even though we were in the non-making slam and out of the making (on this lead) slam, I still feel like we acquitted ourselves well enough.

Written by taogaming

December 21, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Bridge

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 ,

1862

I played this with the local 18xx enthusiasts last night. I actually wondered if I had ordered this, but it turns out I had not. (I have pre-ordered 1848, but I should probably go and cancel under the theory that there will likely be 2+ copies here locally anyway). Some quick thoughts on 1862:

  • Our (5p) first game took 4h, not including a bit of rules reading. Should be able to trim an hour or so from this once the rules become second nature.
  • Lots of variability here. If my combinatorics are correct (unlikely) there are nearly 9 quadrillion possible setups, which means that if everyone on earth played a game a day, our nations would erupt into war and lose vast amounts of GDP without even making a dent in the chances of playing the same setup twice.
  • Some rules questions — Given that any player can apparently open up as many auctions as you like in a parlimentary round, why does the game open with two of them? We also spent a bit of time clarifying things, but overall it wasn’t bad given the sheer number of differences from a typical 18xx.
  • Things I liked:
    • The stock market double, triple, quadruple jumps let companies catch up.
    • Mergers as a dynamic are always interesting (see also,  Indonesia)
    • The novel train mechanism where some companies want direct routes and others want meandering routes, coupled with a tight board.
    • The “re-running track but no double counting cities” route mechanism, which rewards mergers (since companies get rights to multiple train types), which encourages mergers even though the financials force players to take a haircut in stock value after a merge.
    • The “two ways to capitalize”
    • The variable setup
    • The warranty rule (the ability to buy a few extra turns before a train rusts, but you must prepay).
  • Potential worrying aspect:
    • Somewhat nitpicky corner cases in rules (possibly)
    • It seemed like a reasonable strategy may just be “start fast cash company, buy up any IPO stock after it appreciates, then dump everything into the bank and start again.”

Regarding the last point, I was running away with the game when the train rush hit and had a company with a soon-to-expire D train, when another company got dumped on me. I could have dumped both for £2000 (maybe a bit shy, but certainly enough to found 1 or 2 big companies), but I decided to keep one and merge my new company with it to get two different permanent trains (an express and a freight). This was OK, but it meant I had ~5 less certs for 3 ORs, and despite having 70% of the best company I lost by 20% or so. I think if I’d just dumped everything and went for a boring two new companies route, I would have won.

It is early to make such a bold claim, but it is worrying. (I suspect a part of my problem is that you want to merge in ORX.3, not ORX.1, so you have timing to re-acquire a portfolio.

I take it as a good sign that Joe R. and Jeroen both rate this very highly.

Rating — Enthusiastic (and may even pick up a copy, and would certainly trade for it).

Written by taogaming

December 10, 2019 at 6:03 pm

Posted in Session Reports

Tagged with

Forty-Six

Not a huge surprise (in that fifty games can be done in under twenty hours), but not one I was counting on.

I think I’m 5-15 hours away from finishing the remaining list, and I’ve got two months. (I actually thought I was done with another game or two, but I realized I’d likely miscounted). Thankfully the holidays are upon us. But we also have the Gloomhaven expansion…

Written by taogaming

December 1, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Session Reports

Tagged with

Stepping on the borderline between ‘clever’ and ‘justifiable homicide’

Ladies and Gentlemen, I never knew that Wei-Hwa Huang created a maze where the participants did not initially realize they were in on. Fascinating stuff/ (H/T to Futility Closet).

(Here’s a description of the maze).

Written by taogaming

November 26, 2019 at 9:28 pm

Your super ‘List o’ the Decade’ aggregator

Written by taogaming

November 21, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Linky Love