Acquire at For Whom The Web Rocks

I was just destroyed in a game of Acquire at “For Whom The Web Rocks”:http://www.fwtwr.com/fwtwr/acquire/over/378game.htm.

I don’t feel too bad, as it was only my second game. I made the mistake of blowing my resources on the biggest two chains, and did not get an income from smaller ones.

Acquire works quite well in this human-moderated play-by-web format. The game took two and a half months to finish, but it didn’t drag. Unfortunately, one of my moves was input incorrectly, which was annoying. Human-error and time-lag are the biggest problems with manually-moderated PBEM.

Rette Sich Wer Kann, Linie 1

I’ve known most of my gaming buddies since boyhood and we mainly game to stay in touch, as we’ve all grown out of _going out on the lash_ every single weekend. Unfortunately, it’s been difficult to get some of our old buddies to show up, as they are not gaming types. Happily one of our oldest mutual non-gamer friends showed up to see what it’s all about.

“Rette Sich Wer Kann”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/249
This was perfect as my newbie friend was very tired and we were in the mood for something fun and interactive. He’s definitely the kind of guy who enjoys serious competition. I cannot see myself ever taking this out of my collection. Everybody gets huge laughs out of it and it never really hurts to lose, as it’s so light-hearted. Fittingly, and unsurprisingly in a purely political game, my newbie friend won.

“Linie 1”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/1597
I got this for the _bargain_ price of €6 from “Adam-Spielt”:http://adam-spielt.de, which turned into €12.50 after postage costs – not such a bargain, but still good. Unfortunately, the box is massive, about twice as big as it needs to be, which will probably reduce the length of time it stays on my shelf. Maybe I’ll find a smaller box somewhere and decant the components into that?

We played played a three-player two-stop game using the Streetcar rules, with diceless movement. We were a bit tired, so the simplicity of Linie 1 appealed to us, but not the lack of obvious strategy. I mainly got this one due the “strongest possible recommendation”:http://spotlightongames.com/list/top10.html from Rick Heli, whose “Spotlight On Games!”:http://spotlightongames.com site is one of the best gaming resources on the net. Rick makes this “comment”:http://spotlightongames.com/list/nights/l.html#linie on it:

bq. the game has been called “broken” because of what has been termed its “conflicting goals.” I guess that is another way of saying that there is no clear indication of exactly what steps are needed to obtain victory. Complainants will state that the three main goals in the game are incompatible with one another: (1) minimize the number of stops on your route, (2) minimize your route length, (3) minimize the amount of time to complete your route. But on the other hand this is what makes the game so fascinating

I’m interested in testing this out further, but definitely with more players and more stops, maybe even the four-stop variant on the Geek?

Original piecepack article

The “original article”:http://www.piecepack.org/piecepack_article.html explaining the piecepack is now at piecepack.org.

[via “Ron’s Info-Closet Annex”:http://ron.ludism.org/annex/games/game_systems/piecepack_news.html]

Scottish Holiday Gaming

I just returned from a “week’s rowing holiday”:http://homepages.tesco.net/~sapboom/hope.html on the “North coast of Scotland”:http://maps.msn.com/map.aspx?ID=27CiJ.&C=58.47648,-4.41824&L=EUR&A=800&S=575,470&P=%7c70c354%7c&PN=1115397392&TI=Tongue%2c+Highland%2c+Scotland%2c+United+Kingdom – a wild, fierce place.

None of the guys were gamers, and packing had been too hectic to be able to print off any piecepack rules, so I contented myself with some general gaming.

*Go*
To my surprise, my host used to be a regular Go player. He lived in Japan and had weekly Go lessons for six months at a proper school. Apparently he has a handicap of seven kyu, which he thought was very average, but which sounds pretty reasonable to me. He was very happy to play with me and taught me quite a bit. Hopefully he’ll pop over after work occasionally and give me some more lessons. I think I’ll buy a cheap, compact Go set, if such a thing exists. Maybe I’ll be able to persuade him into some more “exotic abstracts”:http://www.mindsports.net/CompleteGames/, especially if I can buy a Go set with pieces that can stack.

One of the girls on the trip enjoys crossword puzzles, so I managed to persuade her into a couple of paper and pencil word games out of New Rules for Classic Games. Both went down *very* well.
*Crossword Squares*
This is played on a 5×5 grid. Players in turn call out letters and try to build words by entering them into the grid, the longer the better. It’s so simple and so good, I’m amazed it’s not more common.
*Jotto*
Each player writes down a five letter word with no repeating letters. In turns, they then attempt to guess their opponent’s word, by calling out five letter words, the opponent then tells them how many letters are shared by the guessed word and the target word.

*Suit Yourself*
This Nim-like card game, came from A Gamut of Games. I admire it, as it requires look-ahead thinking, but it was not fun.

“Fictionary”:http://faidutti.free.fr/jeux/articles/dico/dico.html
This was the hit of the holiday. Everyone laughed a lot. I think the guys who refused to play regretted it and were quite envious. I’ll definitely play this one again. A true classic.

Board Game Geek RSS feeds

I am enjoying the discussion on the Board Game Geek a lot these days. Compared to “Spielfrieks”:http://news.gmane.org/gmane.games.spielfrieks and “rec.games.board”:http://groups.google.com/groups?q=rec.games.board, it’s more focussed around specific games and less about general gaming discussion, which I prefer.

I am reading it through “SharpReader”:www.sharpreader.com and the “Geek’s RSS feeds”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/bggfeeds.php3.

Galaxy: the Dark Ages

I was offered “Galaxy: the Dark Ages”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/718 in a trade for “Verrater”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/72, which I thought was a good deal. Galaxy had lukewarm reviews, but that this was mainly from people who thought it inferior to “Titan:the Arena”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/105 or “Grand National Horse Racing”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/1367, its simpler ancestors. I have not played either, so I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt.

The theme is of a galactic power struggle between different worlds, welded onto a card game – a strange mix. Epic themes fit best with large, complex games; so naturally, this is a large, complex card game. After playing it, I can see how a relatively simple base game was blown up to this galactic scale.

The *basic* card play, ignoring the fiddly extras, is _classic_ Knizia. Broadly, this is a good thing, but once you have played a few of these games, it’s difficult to feel excited by them. Maybe I’m a just jaded old-timer?

*Good*

* Plenty of backstabbing and tension as the Worlds columns disintegrate into the void.
* Great theme. I wish there were more sci-fi German games and fewer archaeological ones.
* No rules ambiguities (but see the next point).

*Bad*

* The rules are very wordy.
* Complex, it is impossible to learn without a reference sheet.

In summary, there is much complexity for only average strategy. Instead of our normal dummy round, for learning, we had to play an entire dummy game. On reflection, I should have got Grand National Horse Racing instead, but now we have spent the time investment to learn it, we will probably stick with the richer gameplay of Galaxy.

Spielbyweb

I subscribed to the new “Spiel-by-Web Yahoo Group”:http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/spiel-by-web/. It led me to a “good geeklist for Play-By-Web games”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listid=1207, which are my favourite way of playing board games by computer. Real-time board games, like at BSW, require too much of a time commitment. It’s tough to abandon a game halfway through, because your baby is crying…

The first thread at Spiel-By-Web discusses what makes a good PBW game:

* Games where players complain of a lot of downtime, in other words deeply analytical games with few and long turns. e.g. Tikal, Torres, Java. Although some wargames require 30 minutes per turn, which is too long for me.
* Games with a lot of bookkeeping e.g. Wallenstein
* Games with simultaneous action selection e.g. Lord of the Rings – The Confrontation
* Interactive turn sequences do not work well e.g. Puerto Rico
* Auctions do not work well e.g. Princes of Florence

I also joined a game of “Wallenstein”:http://www.spielbyweb.com/game.php?games_id=60, with the guys from the Yahoo Group (including “Mark Johnson”:http://bgtg.textamerica.com). I am impressed with this implementation. It’s surprising how stripped down a game can seem when all the card shuffling and piece moving are removed.