The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘Leaping Lemmings

Unexpected Lemmings

My copy of Leaping Lemmings arrived today … which is odd, since I don’t think I ordered it. Is it a thank-you for playtesting or early blogging? I guess so, but there was no note. (I suppose I could have ordered it and forgotten, but I never saw the “Charging your credit card email” that GMT normally sends out). So, thanks to Rick Young or whoever sent me a copy.


Written by taogaming

May 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Posted in Misc

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Thoughts on yesterday’s games

Some discussions overheard, some games pondered.

One local complained Tichu had too much luck uninteresting card play for a climbing game (see 2nd comment for clarification). Unlike my typical complaints, he marshaled a specific objection: the high frequency of 6+ card melds (usually straights, but sometimes 3+ running pairs). I’ve only played a few games, but that seems right. In last last night’s game (which had perhaps 8-10 hands), I had long melds on 2 hands (both 7+ cards), and three pairs on another. [On one of those hands, I covered an opening 1-6 straight]. Now, why is this a problem? Assume you win with an ace (or dragon). When limited to 5 cards, you need at least three leads to go out, and then only on a 5-5-3 (after winning a single lead). It’s much easier to out out with a 6-6-1 or 6-5-2. (To say nothing of 7+ card tricks). It takes less planning to say “Win the Dragon, Play an eight card straight, hope it holds up, and then exit with a fullhouse (or straight).” And there’s been several sightings of the 1-14 opening lead. This is the “Grand Slam” of Tichu, but its luck of the draw (and not that improbable).

I feel that the luck is acceptable (for the game length), but I’m wondering what the converted (and I know a few of them read this) have to say. It would be simple enough to change the game to just disallow 6+ card melds (perhaps exempting bombs).

I wonder how Bridge would change if you passed cards (perhaps just between partners) before bidding. More wild distributions (as people would routinely pass away singletons, or shorten doubletons) would be the norm. Skill would increase, but there would be some bizarre changes. Such as making some communication ‘encrypted’ etc. Imagine a convention that passing away an ace to your partner indicates 20+ points (pre-pass). Now all of your opening bids are all ‘Strong club’ but natural (in length).

I played a few hands of Tichu this weekend on BSW. Lost both games, but part of that was nerves (and a less than understanding partner. Once she went off in a puff I had a decent game). Since Tichu is brief activity followed by a lull, I don’t mind that some hands are rote. On a related note, I’ve been watching more baseball.

I played my fourth playtest game of Leaping Lemmings, for the first time with only five players. That helped. The game tightened up by 10-15 minutes & each player had an additional special action.

We’re getting to the point where we’ve run through all of the cards for Stage II. Hasbro, hear my plea! Release new cards. (Or pay me to make an expansion set). Still, I’ve gotten 20+ games out of this.

I also taught Caylus Magna Carta last night, and on the way home thought … “Do I really need to own Caylus any more?” Big Card Caylus seems fluid, partially because I’ve only played it a few times, but I suspect it will endure longer. I haven’t played The Original in about a year, moves feel obvious or arbitrary. (Either there’s one clearly best move or the decision is so close that either could be correct without a ton of analysis). Not many games get to 100+ plays (even if all but 10-15 took place online). I think I’ll keep Caylus for another year and see how I feel about the newcomer.

Finally, I traded for a copy of Augsburg 1520. I played a prototype at the ’06 Gathering, but had a rule or two wrong. This is one of those Euro “Economic” games (ala St. Petersburg) where you buy victory points, or income producer, or some 3rd thing that somewhat mixes the two. In any case, I’m still somewhat entranced by the bizarre auction system, where you bid a number of cards (and can call or raise, and then show off a hand, with the high hand having to discard the whole hand, and lower hands keeping their cards and getting a small pittance of money). All hands are simply “High card” (and cards range 1-17). If you have the 17, you want to bid 1. If you have the 1-2-3, perhaps a bid of 3 will win (and if note, the other hands will throw away 3 cards). Perhaps bidding four (using a wild) and hope that you lose!

The auction mechanics aren’t hard to grasp, and have some interest. The other mechanisms take a few turns to really get a feel for, but directly challenge the standard “Income Early, Points Late” mindset. A person going for points early can do quite well, but has to handle the mid-game with care. And its easy to fall behind on points and run out of time. (Or just constantly bid a moderate or high bid and find you are one card worse).

But Augsburg probably won’t make the dime list. It’s just auctions and auctions, and the last turn is “Bid all your money.” Games with six turns should have decisions on all six. Perhaps the sweet spot is 2 players, or three, where psychology trumps. No doubt players who tracked cards shown will play this at a deeper level. Still, I’m willing to play a few more times.

And in today’s mail … Critical Shift. I have to make some Shadowfist decks …. Nope, apparently it was a mixup. Sigh.

Update: I did not exactly capture the point for Tichu… see the second comment…

Written by taogaming

August 7, 2007 at 5:58 pm