Saturday, July 30, 2005

July Gaming at the JSGC

Summer is upon us and gaming attendance gets low as most of Israel goes on vacation. We still had good nights during July. August is going to be a difficult month for us in Israel, so I hope we can keep the game nights going.

The following are games played at the group, and does not include games I played outside of the group:

Amun Re x 2 - As I mentioned in my session report, Amun Re seems to be the game about which none of us have anything negative to say. I don't mean to damn it with faint praise; it is a very good game. Most of us have a few games we like better, but each of those games has people who don't like it at all.

Dvonn - I finally reached a first level of understanding of this game and published some strategy notes on the Geek.

For Sale - Sorry to say, a big 'eh' from most of us. The mechanics are fine, but the game is just too slight. And I like blind bidding, but not when the entire game is determined because of it. Blind bidding in Amun Re is a small part of the game; you end up a few dollars short or something. In For Sale, blind bidding directly determines if you win, and that's pretty much it. Too much luck, too slight. I'll play it, but 'eh'.

Geschenkt x 4 - Still good, but I think most of us prefer to play My Game Prototype #1 as a filler, instead. We'll play this if we have more than 4 and not much time. I'll also play this with other types of cards at other peoples house when I want to show them other things you can do with cards.

Louis XIV - Best new game in my collection. Seems to work well with two, three, or four. Much less problems for us than Goa.

My Game Prototype #1 x 6 - Still haven't heard from publishers, yet. They don't know what they are missing.

Puerto Rico + expansions x 2 - My expansion buildings, of course. Although I have a default set of expansion buildings that I usually play with, we still like to vary them once in a while.

San Juan - Still remains another good choice for a filler game up to 4 people.

Settlers of Catan x 2 - Still fun to play. I have been keeping track of all die rolls over the last few sessions, for those that are interested.

Starfarers of Catan - Ok, ok, yes this does go on too long. I admit it. It is still good if you're playing with reasonably quick players.

Taj Mahal - Great game, but the player we introduced this to HATED it. See my comments about Amun Re.


Weekend Gaming

With Rachel away, I am out my weekly 2 player PR game, although I'm still in the middle of several slow PR games on . And with my kids in and out, I don't get much time for games during the week. Only the weekly game JSGC sessions.

This shabbat I managed to get in a few games, however. For lunch I was invited to a family with a fistful (pun intended) of boys and one girl. Left to their own devices, they sat on the couch and punched each other. I figured that rather than helping set the table I could make myself more useful. I asked for a deck of cards.

A few seconds into my explanation of "I Doubt It" they told me they know the game under another, uh, less pretty name (you all know it by that name, too). We played a round of that for a good while. I had lots of fun whistling innocently when I wanted them not to doubt me (reverse psychology), fanning my hand and letting them pick one of my cards to play at random into the pile, etc...

Eventually, I organized my hand into the cards I needed for the last few turns, made sure I got rid of all the junk earlier, and then had nothing but what I needed until I went out three turns later.

I left them to their own devices and they continued playing as I went outside to talk to the father. After about fifteen minutes, I came back in and they were sitting on the couch punching each other.

So I got another deck of cards and taught them Pit. Many mothers now curse me for teaching their children Pit. The kids love it, but it sure is loud. I tried to introduce the silent finger-holding version halfway through, but it didn't work too well. I played two hands (lost both), and then left them to that one too until lunch got underway.

Nice conversation at lunch. Halfway through, I turned around and all of the kids were sitting on the couch punching each other. "Play a game", I told them. So they did. They played Pig.

Pig is a card game where each player has 4 cards and the object is to get 4 of a kind. One player is always the start player. He or she picks a card and adds it to his or her hand. Then he or she passes one to the next player and so on until the last player throws one card out. This continues until one player has a complete set, at which point he or she sticks his or her tongue out. Each player has to notice this. The last one to stick his or her tongue out loses and the game continues with one less player on the next round.

I also ran into Nadine at shul, and she was amenable to playing in the afternoon or evening. I decided to try out 2 player Louis XIV with her. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, since I like Goa 2 player better than 3 or 4 player (especially 3 player). I liked it just fine 2 player. I guess the only thing is, is that you really get a feeling of who is winning pretty early on, and it is probably hard to catch up for the losing player.

I wouldn't know, as we had to stop halfway through. I still haven't managed to complete a full game. I was up one mission over her, and she had one extra shield. My missions were better quality. It looked like I had a solid lead and was likely to keep it.

While the rules for the dummy were fairly clear, I decided immediately that the four sets of tokens the dummy placed had to be on four separate boards, and not doubled up if we pick two of the same board, or the board with Louis on it. We discarded those and flipped again.

Half a game took us about an hour. My game group tends to play slower than others, so keep that in mind. In any case, Louis XIV, 2 player - recommended.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pieces of Games

Pieces of games never went to waste in my house.

I have two brothers. My father has one sister, who also has three children. I used to live in West Hempstead, NY, and my aunt and uncle lived in Manhattan. Until they made aliyah - moved to Israel - when I was seven, the six of us would get together and play games during family visits. At least, when one of us wasn't crying or fighting.

We played Pit, Flinch, rummy and other six player card games, poker using fruit loops as chips (we all lost). Lots of card games meant a lot of decks with missing cards. And what do you do with piles of almost complete decks of cards?

We were the card house building champs. Even today I can still build an eight level card house and card houses that can withstand books being dropped onto them. We would cover half a room with castles and houses.

Then we took rubber bands and marbles that were left over from chinese checkers sets and marble runs. Houston, we are experiencing incoming meteors.

How about scaling cards? I never owned much in the way of baseball cards, not being a sports fan. But I spent hours practicing scaling cards against walls. I got pretty good at getting the card to lean against the far wall from one side of the room. Then I got pretty good at knocking over cards that were leaning against the wall. Pretty soon there were piles of cards littering the far wall.

We also scaled cards to knock down the card houses. This took a lot longer, but I also got pretty good at the powerhouse scaling throw. Wham.

Plastic pawns were used to populate the card houses. Money could always be cannibalized into some other game that was a few dollars short. Risk armies - well we just bought another game of Risk and had some armies to spare. Except that once, instead of the wooden pieces we got a set with awful plastic triangular spoke pieces and hexagonal spoke pieces. We hated it.

Boards that we didn't need we used for a hamster run - we only had hamsters for a short while. We also used them for obstacle courses for our car races.

We had Mattel and Hot Wheel cars. We used to have favorites. They were either the fastest, the neatest looking, the newest, or had some sort of legend build around them. I had one car "Mazda" that I always took with us when we went on trips with my parents. My brother and I would sit in the back seat, and the car would go on the ledge behind the seat. It started in the center, and would roll back and forth as the car turned. When it hit one side, that person won a point and the car got put back in the middle again. Mazda was tough. Even though the paint had almost all been scraped off, it still rolled great, unlike a lot of junky cars whose wheels broke off without much pressure.[1]

I had one of those Fisher price parking garages, the one with three levels, an elevator ,and a ramp. When a car was put into the elevator, you cranked it up to the top level where it automatically rolled out because the floor of the elevator tipped it out. With the right cranking, it tipped the car out right onto the ramp. The car then rolled down the ramp, which did a 180, and continued rolling across a few floor tiles. If you placed a game board right after the exit to the ramp, upside down with a slight fold in it (say a 170 degree angle, held there by books), most of the cars had enough roll to jump over the bump and keep going. We would measure the distance, and whosever car had rolled the furthest won.

Other times, we would simply line up a few cars and alternate rolling dice (from defunct games, of course) for each car, moving the car a number of tiles forward according to the die roll. First to make it to the other side of the room and back was the winner. Sounds dumb now, but we did this over and over again.

We used old game boards to create walls in the course that the cars had to go around or over.

And don't get me started on Lego.

By the time I was nine, my cousins were long in Israel and I had discovered D&D.


[1] My own kids managed to destroy all of the cars in about a month.

Session Report Up

On my site. Games played: My Game Prototype #1, For Sale, Taj Mahal, Starfarers of Catan.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Big Old Net

Yesterday I wrote a piece about comparing playing lots of games a few times versus playing less games deeply. Then I posted it.

Later on I thought about it and decided that I sounded like a stick in the mud, that my post was patronizing, and that I had no right to tell people the "right" way to play games.

It used to be that the only thing I had to worry about was email. I know that when you send an email, you have to consider it permanent. I didn't think about that with my blog. I have been treating it like an Etch-a-Sketch. I figure if I post something that I don't like, I can just edit it later.

I realize in retrospect that this doesn't work. Aside from the small chance I might get robotted by a search engine, everything I post to a blog gets RSS'd to a whole bunch of feeds and probably to emails. That means, everything I post is now permanent. Yeeks.

I still have the core of what I wrote in my previous post to think about, and eventually I'll post it again. But ... yeeks!

In the meantime, I wonder how many people saw yesterday's post and shook their heads at me.

While waiting for Ethics and Gaming 3.0 to come out on TGJ (now I'm wondering if it also is too patronizing), I'm thinking about Ethics and Gaming 4.0 . I have a skeleton of an idea, and it will probably be about gaming in general: Gaming as it teaches ethics, and gaming as it is a worthwhile use of your time.

I have what to say about some other topics: producing games (issues regarding copying designs, components, and game themes) and the games marketplace (issues about marketing, buying, selling, and trading), but my first hand experience on some of these issues is rather limited, so I'm not sure if I am qualified to write about them.

Does that about cover all topics regarding games and ethics? Am I missing anything?


Monday, July 25, 2005

Summertime, and the Living is Complicated

I am renting out my apt for a few weeks while Rachel is away in order to pay some bills. That means that the JSGC will be itinerant for a while. This week it is still at my house. Next week I'm not sure.

It's a little weird. Since I'm renting the bedrooms each to different people, I don't know if that stops me from having game nights in the living room, anyway. I'm not renting the apt whole to any one person or family. Maybe my tenants are interested in games. Doesn't matter; I'll have enough place at the house I'm staying in, anyway.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Weekend Gaming

My father is weak, which was expected, but he is also losing weight, which is bad. Unless something changes, back to the emergency room on Sunday.

Gaming over the weekend with David, Sharon, and kids went well. Their house is the local teen hangout. Most of the teens who hang out also know me and know I'm the game man. So a few of them joined in the games.

Before I forget, David and Sharon had dinner guests on Friday night who don't know any of the new games. They were describing the problems they had while playing Monopoly. Apparently, the husband always plays viciously. He believes that alliances, promises, and deals which are not part of the game rules can be broken at will. For instance, the "we won't attack each other for three turns" rule in Risk is something that he will make with another player and then break at his own convenience, not waiting three rounds. His defense of this horrific breach of etiquette is a) his opponents should figure it out, and if not, they will learn fast, and b) people shouldn't take games too seriously.

I argued that he should at least tell people before the game begins that this is the way that he plays, to no avail. My arguments that his style of play is a effectively a set of rules, and that others may want to play by different rules, didn't help. As far as he is concerned, if they don't like the way he plays, they shouldn't play! And stop taking games too seriously! I suggested to them to try Settlers of Catan, which they might.

After dinner, I started out with a game of Dvonn with one of the teenage guests, while we waited for the rest of the players to coalesce (they were walking the dog). Ari has been to my game group once before; he is a sharp kid, but not too happy with being in the army. I am happy to give him some opportunity to get his mind off of it.

Unfortunately, although he picked up the rules, I happened to win with a wipeout. I reminded him that my understanding of the game's tactics is still so infantile that this is more likely the result of chance than any skill on my part.

The party returned and I brought out my game prototype #1. It was a hit - we played four-player four times in a row. The next day, Galit (their daughter) played with Tal (my daughter) two-player two times, and then we played two more four-player games. Eight plays in one weekend.

The family/friends all thought that one small part of my game was not to their liking, so we tried changing it a bit. I have to say that I still like the current design best. They also managed to play the auction in the game in a way I had not at all expected nor experienced in my previous plays. It still played great; it was amusing to see this after I had already played the game about fifty times.

I also introduced to them For Sale, one of the games which Chris Brooks brought me. They enjoyed it, and we played four times. I never won once, nor came close. I'm still not sure why. After that I taught them how to play Geschenkt using the For Sale houses as cards (1-30), six players, and eight tokens each. We played four games of this, too. Geschenkt has a great little mechanic that can be played with almost any set of cards and tokens, anywhere. It is very adaptable.

I was actually played out with all of these short games. I said my goodbyes, and went back to my parents to rest.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Weekend Preparations

Rachel is away, and I only have Tal for Shabbat, so I'm going to see my father and my friends in Beit Shemesh. My friends, David and Sharon, are going to Dallas for a year, so this is the last time I'll see them, unless I magically go to BGG.con, in which case I'll crash with them.

David is a Scrabble champ, and I have introduced both of them to various games with some success. Sharon loves Cities and Knights, David loves Settlers, their son loves Tigris and Euphrates. David and his daughter play bridge. They will be leaving their son (age 19) here, so I don't think we will have much time to play (they'll be spending time together), but I have to bring something, eh?

I packed game prototype #1, of course. I'm also taking For Sale which should be easy enough to teach and play. I'll also bring Dvonn for David - his type of game, I'm guessing.

Unfortunately, my mother is not an adventurous gamer. She taught us all bridge, and knows some old card games, but is not interested in much else. My father used to play bridge, but got tired of playing because he would yell at us too much. Now, even in good health, he doesn't like to play. Following his ileostomy two weeks ago, he will probably be in pain and sleeping much of the time.

Rachel arrived safely in Canada. She spent a night in Vienna on the way. I tried to set her up in Vienna with a gamer from BGG, but, while I got some nice responses, no real definites, so she ended up crashing with a fellow torah/history scholar she taught at Limmud two years ago, and at which she has been invited to teach again. I'm so jealous - a late night pizza gathering with intellectuals at a downtown kosher pizza parlor in Vienna. Then off to the cool summer nights of Toronto and Georgian Bay to relax (she is teaching two classes in Toronto at the beginning of August, but that is what she loves to do best, anyway, and she'll be making enough money with those two classes to cover a month of grocery bills here).

Now I'm waiting for a slew of games for which I have traded, bribed, and cajoled to make their way back with her and/or my brother.


Thursday, July 21, 2005


I download the pods from the websites (you can get them from RSS or Itunes, also) and split them with Mega MP3Splitter into 10,000 frame chunks (about 4:20 each). Then I burn them onto CD and listen in the car.

Geekspeak ( The original two Geeks talking to the luminaries of the board game world. Derk and Aldie (well, Derk, really) talk too much, but they are so Geeky that I don't mind. Sometimes their guests are particularly fun to listen to. All time highlight: Reiner Knizia giving them hell at KublaCon. Their pods go on pretty long.

The Dice Tower ( Two other guys - not really Geeks. Tom and Joe are Christian missionaries, but aside from occasional mention of the soldiers they meet, you don't hear it - they're just gamers. The interplay between the two, one a Eurogamer and one a wargamer, is fun to listen to. Shorter pods, but more focussed.

Board Games To Go ( Second board game pod, after Geek Speak. Mark Johnson puts out the least Geeky and most professional pod. He covers everything from all sides. Mark sounds like one of the greatest people on Earth. I find his blogs harder to listen to, as they are just one person, and lose a sense of the dynamic because of that. Sometimes one of his kids joins him, and then he shines.

I don't know why I can listen to these things - even the best pods seem so awkward and unprofessional compared to listening to broadcast radio or books on tape. For one, they're free. And they cover subjects I'm intently interested in, I guess. Mostly, it is nice to know that other people are devoted to this (unfortunately, still) obscure interest.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Session Report Up

On the site. Games played: My game prototype, Amun Re, Settlers of Catan.


OK, Onto the Positive

I told you not to read it, didn't I? You can skip this one, too.

Onto the positive:

- Good wife and four pretty good children. Love therein.
- Two brothers who are fairly close. Some cousins and other family, too.
- Two parents who are generous and supportive.
- Some good neighbors and a community.
- A few good friends.
- A game group.

- A good apartment and a car (although the car is causing me headaches, it is still a boon).
- An Internet connection and a computer, and the knowledge of how to use them effectively.
- Good skills in many areas, a good education. I can write, program, design games, solve problems.
- A job - not good enough, but still better than no job.
- I found people to rent out my apt, which will pay for those extra costs that I would have had, anyway.

- Mostly healthy.
- Morals - I generally feel good about my actions.

One day at a time.

I might be getting a large US tax refund due to the child payments. Everyone tells me to use it to go to BGG.con . Maybe I will.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sometimes Life is too Hard

Don't read this.

All in a few days:

My poverty is increasing, so I am forced to rent out rooms in my house for a few weeks again. Thinking to save some money and maybe, maybe go to BGG.con. Instead, in one week I get bills for the year's car insurance, and I have to contribute to fixing the roof of the apartment building. Nothing left, and I'm still losing the equivalent of 1/2 my salary every month spending more than I earn (and I don't spend much).

Yesterday I stopped on the side of the road, dashed into a store and asked if they had mushroom bourekas (they didn't) and dashed back out. 250 NIS parking ticket in 35 seconds (think the equivalent of $500 to you in America). Today I come back to scratches on the hood. Last week I paid a half month's salary to fix the A/C which should have been fixed last time and the fender which was broken by a hit and run taxi a few weeks ago. The police are unhelpful.

Last week, my father had his colon removed; they found cancer anyway, so they need to do chemo. My grandfather died of the same thing when he was 55. In a strange coincidence, an acquaintance in our neighborhood and good friend of our friends was diagnosed with the same thing two weeks ago and died Sunday night.

Today my son ... I don't want to go into it, because he reads this, but my son was acting unacceptably and breaking my heart in the process.

My wife leaves for Canada with my other son for a month - I can't afford vacations for myself anymore, and I so desperately need one. My good friends are moving to Dallas for a year.

My country is still at war. The whole world is still at war. The idiots are leading the hateful.

There's more, but I have to stop. Blurry eyes.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Google Ad-sense Gone

I have taken Google's Ad-sense off of my sites. When I tried to do my weekly login to their site to see how many pennies I had earned this week, the first thing displayed was changes to their policies, including:

- They can now sell information about me and my blog to third parties, including my financial information (yes, that is what it looked like to me - all of my "billing info").

- If I have a Google search on my site, they forbid me from having any other search on my site.

Etc. To even get into my account I would have had to click "I agree", which I didn't.

Google is rapidly losing it for me. I may rethink having a Google email address if this continues.

Of course, up until now, I had only earned $1.36 (which they won't send to me, as the minimum they will send is $10.00). This is due to the fact that I only have about 20 readers, and that most of you read it using an RSS feed, anyway.

If I was actually making serious money out of it, say $100/day or so, I would have had a tougher decision.

Two more games of PR with Rachel, and she is depressed because she hasn't won a game for a few weeks. She is going to Toronto on Wednesday for a month. *sigh*

I also taught our neighbor's kid how to play my game, and he did the worst I've ever seen, but even he liked it. We then played Settlers, two player, and he did better, but still not good. I will withhold his name, poor fellow.

I have to come up with another good game. One original game isn't enough - that's just a fluke. I have a few more designs waiting to be playtested, and a few more ideas. Must get to work.

I filled in a little more info in the last session report on my site. In non-game news, I am also helping a number of other friends begin building websites. Hopefully that will give them a web-presence and boost their business. A website is like a resume, nowadays. The easiest and best way to show people who you are and what you do.

I have also rented out my apt for four weeks, so I will be itinerant for a while, as will the game group. Numa numa.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Session Report Up

On the site. Games played: Dvonn, Puerto Rico + expansions x 2, My Game Prototype, Settlers of Catan, Louis XIV, Geschenkt x 4, San Juan.

Not a very meaty report, as it is late, and I'm tired.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tron - the real life game / Assassin

I rarely outlink, but Tron was one of my favorites, and this is just too cool: play Tron ... in real life:


I used to work at Inlumen, a financial web-site company, whose main office was in New York. Israel was R&D.

Back in 2000, I was post Cities and Knights of Catan, but pre-anything else Euro, basically. It was getting on towards Hanukkah. My usual game-ordering method is to send games I buy to my in-laws in Queens to bring over when they have the opportunity, but it so happens that the director of Inlumen, Rick, (president, I think, but not CEO) was coming for his first (and last) trip to our offices in Israel.

When people come on business to Israel, they usually have a lot of free space in their luggage. So, to the horror and shock of my boss, I asked Rick if he would be willing to carry over two games which I would ship to the New York office. He said he would be pleased to do it.

I made a few errors in my game selections.

The first game I ordered was Rebound, the game with the little plastic cylinders surrounding ball bearings that you throw down this plastic track with rubber-bands at one end, hoping to get them to bounce almost all of the way back without falling over the edge. For some reason I remembered this as a reasonably small game: say, the size of a Life board folded up. It was about twice that size in the box. (It was also now a really ugly lime green board with lavender and pink pieces. I remember it being a yellow board with blue and red pieces.)

But worse was the other game. I was naive, and remembered only that Avalon Hill was a great company, and therefore everything they print should be a great game. Assassin was on sale for almost nothing, so I bought it. Assassin is really bad, although I later found out that the game had been changed from the original designer's rules, which are online (which are better, but still not great).

That wasn't the problem; the problem was Rick's complaint, for which he mercilessly teased me, that he was being asked to carry a large box with the word 'Assassin' emblazoned on it for his first trip to Israel, through Israeli security at the airport. "Did anyone ask you to carry anything with you in your bags?" "Uh, just this box with the word 'Assassin' on it."


Monopolizing the Game Scene

My son Saarya went on a little day trip with his friends and they wanted to bring Monopoly (Monopol in Hebrew). He asked me what to bring to counter that suggestion. Off he went with For Sale and Apples to Apples. Unfortunately, Monopoly is what they played. Strangely enough ( :-P ) my son no longer finds the game that interesting. Nobody landed on his hotels, and another player kept telling him he was foolish not to give him a valuable monopoly.


Monday, July 11, 2005

GP#1 Again

I even coaxed Eitan, the son who only likes bloody strategy computer wargames, into playing, and he liked it.

While I'm waiting for companies to get back to me on whether they would like to publish this, I would like to let others play it. If you are reading this, and are willing to promise not to publish it as your own creation, I will send you a copy of the rules. You can easily make a mockup to play it. You can then pass it on to anyone else who may be interested, under the same conditions.

If/when it ever gets published, I expect you to buy a copy only if you are attracted to doing so by virtue of price/convenience/nice components/loyalty to me. Not because you feel that you are obligated to buy it in order to play it.


Saturday, July 09, 2005


Dvonn surprised me as being one of those games that is inscrutable the first time you play it, but makes some basic sense after several plays.

During the first part of the game you are jockeying to put your pieces down in positions to control the red pieces. That means: place pieces that can directly jump onto the red pieces. Place pieces that can jump onto your opponents pieces that can do the same. Place pieces that, after one jump can jump on the red pieces. Etc... The more control you establish, the better.

During the second half, you have to keep control over different areas of the board. A single move by your opponent can do several things: prevent you from moving a piece that could have landed on his; capture a piece you needed for control; and threaten a new area with the resulting piece. This is a lot to absorb, and the number of potential moves at any time except the very end is large, usually more than chess.

This is a good thing. I think with repeated plays, one can get much better at the game. In fact, my first few plays I felt that the whole game was almost random. If I had given up then, I would have missed a whole depth of understanding. This patches in with the discussion I am having with Jeremy Avery on Gamefest.

Anyway, I won once, and then Saarya won once. As we played, the moves became more deliberate, and the zones of control began to glow in our heads, like the patterns in the newspaper in the movie "A Beautiful Mind", or like a game of Go to an experienced player.

Sometimes you can gain something special if you persevere.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Other Topics

Mazal Tov to Yitzchak, a regular of our group, who got married last night to Liat. Lovely, lively wedding. We wish them much love and happiness.

Condolences to those affected by the attacks in London. Unfortunately, we know what you are experiencing.

I'm working on the third article Ethics and Gaming. This one deals with general manners and some ethical considerations if you run or attend a game group.

Peace, y'all,

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Session Report Up

On the site. Games played: My Game Prototype (#1), Amun Re.


2 unusual PR games

Rachel and I played with a few changed buildings again, which wildly changes the strategies. Almost every building was bought over the course of two games, and each game was very different. R won the first game by a few points, I won the second by a lot.


Forest House 1/1 - even moved down to 1 GP, it still wasn't worth buying, although a little closer.

Hacienda 2/1 - we don't play the rule that you can swap your pick with a forest.

Small Fashion District 2/1 - sell indigo at +2. A good early threat.

Salvage Yard 3/1 - gain 1 GP for each barrel you dump, except corn. In the past used to good effect. Not bought in either game.

Guest House 4/2 - used well by R in one game.

Large Market 5/2 - need to have something that gives money.

Inheritance 5/2 - when you buy a production building, it comes with a matching plantation. A little expensive, but pretty neat. One always wonders if one couldn't have simply bought Hacienda, however.

Scavenger Yard 6/2 - take all dumped goods, including yours, excluding corn. Useless if there are warehouses in the game. In any case I didn't get to use it, because R bought Private Boat right after I bought this.

Hold 7/3 - ship any additional barrel onto a ship when shipping. Each ship can hold only one additional barrel. A bit of a weak building; gives a few extra vp's.

Large Business 8/3 - pay 1 less for any building, and gain 1 extra vp if you ship at least one barrel. Like Builder's and Captain's privileges. Close to a perfect building, more balanced than Harbor.

Large General Workhouse 8/3 (2 circles) - acts as a wild production building, when producing, if you have matching manned plantations, you can produce those goods. Often a little strong, but not a game breaker. Also a staple building in our games.

Private Boat 9/3 - ship any three barrels onto a private boat. Also has a Hold, by the way.

Cathedral 10/4 - +1 VP for every three VP's in red building points. Always used to replace the unbalanced Guild Hall.

Distillery 10/5 - +2 VP/sugar plantation. Max +8. Sok, but I have better buildings.

City Hall 10/4

Fortress 10/4

Customs House 10/4

Looking forward to the next official expansion for Puerto Rico, said to be in development.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Ethics 2.0 Article Up

Now up on The Games Journal. Also some nice feedback on my last article in the letters section. I expect this one will be more controversial, as I take a pretty liberal stance on playing games without buying them.

Time to get working on the next one.

I'm working on a 2% possibility of actually going to BGG.Con . I am thinking of renting out my apt for a few weeks (sleeping in the houses of some friends who will be away on vacation and want me to water their plants) and using the money to make the trip. Only, I should really use any money to help pay back my parents who are helping to support me right now. Ahh, more ethical dilemmas.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Weekend Gaming

We had two families over for the entire shabbat, and another one plus a single added to them for lunch. All of the adults steadfastly refused any sort of games (guests, harumph!). Luckily, one of them has a teenage son (Shlomo) and daughter (Adi), both of whom were willing to play.

Shlomo had come to my group once and played Puerto Rico and Tigris and Euphrates, so was ready for just about anything. Adi had played Settlers with me last time she came over and was looking forward to play again.

I taught them my game prototype (gp#1) two player and three player and we played multiple times. When I went out, they continued to play without me several times. I think the game is basically done, mechanics-wise. I made a few changes to the rules after the very first few times I played, and since then I have played 30 or 40 times and it is basically my favorite filler card game. Somebody help me get it published, please. I am currently waiting on a response from Gamewright.

I then tried them out on another game prototype I had made (let's call it gp#2) which didn't work. It is another card game built around a simple mechanic of picking and giving away cards which seemed like it should make a clever little game, but it didn't work at all (well, not three player, anyway). Back to the drawing board.

We also played Settlers (first time for him, second for her), which they also played two-player twice while I was out, and a game of Traumfabrik. I won the first SoC game by being merciless to Shlomo (very unlike me, and it was only because he was being merciless to me, first ;-) ). Traumfabrik was an easy win, as I played conservatively, which I think is probably the basic key to winning.