The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘St. Petersburg

Some Gaming, Some non-

  • Forbidden Island — Pandemic lite, which is fine if you have young kids who can’t quite grasp the implication of Pandemic’s infection model. (On the other hand, The TaoBoy check-raised me in our last poker game, and was the only person to make it to the helicopter in today’s Zombie Hunt, so some things have sunk in. They grow up so fast).
  • St. Pete — I (mildly) regret having sold this. Need to play the expansion again.
  • Battlestar Galactica — Our (human) admiral jumped us 2, then 1, then 1, then 2. So, you can guess how that worked out.
  • Agricola — Academic (Counts as 2 occupations) –> Writing Desk (requires two occupations, lets you play two at a time) –> Stone guy (stone for food) + Building Master (Free expansion once you’ve expanded) –> Animal Pen (2 Food a turn, but it requires four occupations) –> 3rd person on round 5, 4th on round 6.  No problems with food. It’s almost like the opening setup determines the winner… But I still like this game.
  • I even played a game of Magic! That takes me back.

Non-gaming observations:

  • The Protector (movie) — Tony Jaa really is a human special effect. The parking garage set piece reminded me of the best of Jackie Chan and the fight in the burning temple? Classic.
  • When did George Will stop wearing bow-ties? He was on ESPN (talking baseball) with a hideous yellow/blue thick stripe tie.
  • “Do you want to play another.” “I have to be home at 4am.” “That’s an oddly specific time.” — I probably had that same conversation when I was younger, but it would have been a lot closer to 4am back then.
  • Your tower defense timewaster de jour — Don’t touch my gems! You are welcome.
  • “Triangle” (Horror Movie) — They telegraphed the twist a mile ahead, but it was pretty well done.
  • “Archer” (TV Series) — Fantastic. My new “go to” series for quotes.
  • Vending Spree — Have I mentioned this?
  • “Thirst” — Of all the foreign vampire movies I’ve seen recently, this was the most recent.
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Written by taogaming

May 16, 2010 at 5:12 pm

The way to win

In response to my comments regarding Le Havre, Larry wrote:

I can’t believe a game can reach the Top 10 on the Geek (right behind Dominion, and with a higher average rating) if there’s only one path to victory.

As others pointed out, games with a single way to win can have a large following. You could argue (with some conviction and merit) that classics like Chess and Go have only one way to win. (“Mobilize your pieces better” and “Make efficient moves.”) But in those cases, the devil is in the details, and these aren’t particularly helpful discussions (which is why I don’t think these games apply …)

For definition, my single path to victory is a simple hueristic that will defeat someone who shuns (or is unaware of) that path.

If everyone groks the strategy and plays accordingly. then tactics and second level efficiencies dominate. I’m sure Le Havre contains levels I haven’t explored (for efficiency), but I can feel like I could summarize the first level strategies … (and ignoring them will cost you the game against competent opponents). [The fact that Alex Rockwell explicitly stated said strategy cemented my conviction. If he’s recanted I’d certainly have to re-evaluate.]

In the BGG Top 100, games that have a single path that I feel confident I could (or have) stated are:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Le Havre
  • Caylus
  • St. Pete (without expansion)

Games where I suspect a strategy exists, but I’m not confident I can state it:

  • Through the Ages (I’ve followed the strategy articles, and I think they are right, but the variance in that provides a lot of tactical exceptions)
  • Brass (I don’t like Brass enough to find out, and I may have had a rule wrong) …
  • Age of Steam (several maps, anyway)
  • War of the Ring (base game)
  • Automobile
  • Ingenious seems like a candidate

I bet most of the (non-fluffy) tournament games at WBC probably have a guideline you can’t violate … that doesn’t mean they have a single way to win; that depends on the guideline.

And yes, you get lots of Coal, make a huge coke conversion and ship it. To be fair, there are details you need to consider (avoiding loans isn’t one of them). “Be efficient” and “Coal is most efficient” are your watchwords.

Written by taogaming

September 27, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with , ,

Roll through the Ages and some Expansions



It’s a stretch to say that all of you have already played this, but it’s just a mild stretch (I wager), given that RttA was playtested/demoed at the Gathering in ’08 (where, following standard procedure, I studiously avoided it).

It’s solid, and the Jacqui enjoys it. I particularly like that:

  • all the developments appear useful
  • You have choices from turn 1 (no “build up” turns)
  • The clever combination of skulls with two goods, and that 1 or 3 skulls are “Good.” Adds tension

I’ve also printed out the Late Bronze Age expansion (no thanks to my crappy Dell printer, which stopped working less than six months after purchase). I’m sure we’ll try it.

About the only thing is that I really want to just print out cards with the developments, so that I can quickly see who has what. And maybe toss in a Civilization-style on number of each card. A nice system that can stand plenty of variants and tinkering…. well done.

I finally played the St. Petersburg expansion, again probably years after everyone else. I liked that the Mistress is no longer a turn one game breaker, but we had a turn 1 judge do roughly the same thing. I’d burned out because of the computer game, but I think I’m ready to play St. Pete again, at least with the expansion.

I’ve also played four games of the BSG expansion, and I’m sure it will surprise nobody here that I like it, although when playing with 5 you have to not let someone play a Cylon leader. (With 4/6 it debatable).

Written by taogaming

August 22, 2009 at 8:29 pm

“Tinkering” Games

After last night’s Age of Steam, I came home, checked my email and played a few games of St. Pete against the computer. I liked St. Pete when it came out, but I won’t play face-to-face anymore. I’ve played ~40 games on BSW (which takes 10-20 minutes) and way too many times vs. the computer (which takes ~4 minutes). St. Pete is much better played at chipmunk speed.

The tactics aren’t deep, the joy of the game comes from implementing your plan optimally. I enjoy this aspect of gaming. Several of my favorite games, while not quite solved, have a dominant style of play. If my opponents deviate, then I have a boring win (assuming I’m correct, and barring luck). And if not, then we have an interesting game of optimization, or exploring valid deviations from the plan (discovering the 2nd or 3rd order effects).

Given the right game, I enjoy that. I know that many people don’t, and that once a game’s outline is revealed, they are done. Off the top of my head, I think 18xx, Puerto Rico, St. Pete and Attika qualify as “Tinkering” games (once you’ve played a few times). I think I count Power Grid as well. Certainly after 25 plays I don’t think I’m finding new tactics, but it’s a challenge to play well. I’m not really sure that auction games qualify as “tinkering” games.

Age of Steam may fall into this category, but it’s early. I personally haven’t seen anyone win via thrift; but the auction looms large.

Anyway, I’m not sure what to call these games. “Operational” probably works, but sounds wargame specific. [Lots of wargames seem to qualify for the ‘tinkering’ label.]

Anyway, just a random thought.

Written by taogaming

May 19, 2005 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Tagged with ,