Thursday, August 31, 2006

GameDaily: Video Games vs Board Games

Article here.

My response:

Regarding the article "Board Games Vs. Video Games" by Robert Workman.

Robert compared modern video games to fifty year old board games. The most recent game he assessed was Trivial Pursuit, more than twenty five years old.

Would he so easily compare modern board games to twenty five or fifty year old video games?

Robert should learn that board games have made major strides in modern years. Without even a passing knowledge of Eurogames, one can simply not take his article seriously.

As far as points go, here is my take:

Strategy: The strategy of video games lasts, maximum, six months. The strategy consists almost entirely of "learn what works and then do that". Compare this to board games such as Chess or Go (older games) or Puerto Rico or Age of Steam (modern games), and there is simply no comparison. I will still be playing the same board games for ten years. You won't be playing the same video game in ten years.

Multiplayer: I will concede multi-player, but bear in mind that several hundred people can easily enjoy simultaneous Bridge games.

Technology: This is a rather silly comparison, considering the definitions of the two items you are comparing. In any case, Phillip's Entertaible, and several other products, are going to change this soon.

Price: 'nuff said.

Set-up: You actually gave this one up too easily. Video games have are hard to set up initially, but afterwards are not generally too hard. However, some board games can take quite a while to set up.

Concept/Imagination: Sorry, you really blew this one. Modern Eurogames are nothing but highly imaginative, each game being completely different in mechanics and skills. In Princes of Florence, you use auctions to attract artisans to produce great works of art in your kingdom. In El Grande, you try to curry favor with the traveling king in medieval Spain. Comparing video games to Monopoly is just silly. On the other hand, video games are endless series of the same games, over and over, where the only thing that changes is the graphics and specific numbers.

Cross-over appeal: no complaints.

You forgot a whole bunch of other issues:

Social interaction
Easy to make

And so on.


P. S. Another mainstream article about card playing. This one would be unremarkable, except that it's a grandfather and he extols the creation of game variants. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Session Report Up

The latest JSGC session report is up here. Games played: Origins of World War I, Havoc, San Juan, Quo Vadis, Magic: the Gathering, Shadows Over Camelot. First play for OoWWI.

John Weber posted the final Puerto Rico game of the World Board Gaming championship. I will probably comment on it sometime soon.

I'm enjoying following a rather lengthy series of articles by Jack of Revier Games describing the ongoing creation process for his games.

This survey indicates that the computer game market is more fractured than it has always appeared. (via Slashdot)

And for something different, here is an impressive video covering an Israeli attack into Lebanon from the soldier's point of view. Awesome journalism. In case you're wondering, the soldiers are going from house to house in order to do as little damage as possible. The entire town could much more easily have been bombed from the air at no risk to Israeli soldiers.

By the way, I have been updating my page on Pallywood (and Hezbollywood) as more video and picture evidence mounts.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What to Play?


The Secret Behind the Jewish Geography Game

Every Jew that I know is familiar with the game of "Jewish geography".

The game is played as follows: two Jews meet anywhere in the world. Often it is as guests at some mutual friend's shabbat table for lunch, or after spotting a kippah on vacation in some remote area.

The two start talking, and the first player says where he or she was born/grew up/went to school/went to camp/worked at/lived in/etc. The second player now goes "Oh! Do you know so and so? He/she also lived in/went to/worked at/etc."

The first player denies knowledge, and then asks a similar question to the second player. This continues back and forth until a mutual acquaintance is found. Bonus points now accumulate as more and more acquaintances are found, using the first match as a branching point.

The game always works. I mean: it always works. Well, ok, not always, but close enough.

I'll tell you two of my own stories:

Story 1

I was in Hartford once, at a one day meeting of Pardes Institute alumni. My wife at the time was an alumni, while I didn't know anybody. Sitting on my left was my wife, on my wife's left was some guy whose name I don't remember (let's call him Phil), and on my right was some guy named Eli.

I was introduced to and became friendly with Eli. He is an amusing, but highly cynical young man. We're talking and I hear Phil mention to my wife that he once worked for the ADL, an organization that fights against racism and anti-semitism in America. It must have thousands of volunteers across the country.

I lean over my wife and ask Phil, "Hey! Do you know Joe?"

On my right, Eli's eyes bug out of his head. "Do you know Joe?" What kind of question is that?

Of course, Phil says, "Yeah! I know Joe. Great guy!" And yes, we were both speaking about my friend Joe Nathan, who had volunteered at the New Haven branch of the ADL one year.

Story 2

I went to Cornell, and a friend of mine there spent her Junior year in France. She went to England for one weekend, and ended up at a Chabad house for one meal. Across from her was a young English student named Danny.

When she mentioned that she goes to Cornell, Danny says, "Oh! I know a guy who goes to an Ivy league school in America. Perhaps you know him?"

My friend thinks to herself, "Right. Sure." "Who?" she asks.

And it was me.

Now, those two stories are extreme examples. But even without the examples, the odds of finding a match are actually very high. Why?

First consider that the participants are identifiably Jewish, and in my situation, religious. That already narrows the world down to about two million people.

Now consider that religious Jews always make many acquaintances, since they almost always belong to local synagogues. There are only a few thousand synagogues in the world, maybe tens of thousands.

Now also count that fact that we are dealing only with the English speaking Jewish population, because that is who I am going to play the game with.

Any Jew traveling anywhere is going to stop into the prominent Jewish area of wherever they are traveling. Either it is to find the one kosher food market, daven in the local synagogue, or get invited to a local family for a meal.

All Jews travel in spokes from the main Jewish axes of the world, which include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, London, and especially, Israel. All Jews going to Israel have gone to the Western Wall, Yad Vashem, the central market. The odds of having met the same people who are at these locations every day are extremely high.

The Social Genome

The truth is that this works for many other groups of people as well. In fact, I would venture to say that it probably works for most people.

It used to be that we all liked the same music, watched the same TV shows, and read the same books. Many people saw this as something positive: this common sharing of culture works as a social lubricant when we intersect.

On the other hand, it also genericized all of us as strangers. If the whole world listens to the same piece of music, then any two people have no particular sense of kinship. They don't stand out from others.

Jews form cultural connections because of their very differentness from the societies they live in. This separateness from the masses creates a kinship with others in the same group. If a billion people like "I Love Lucy", they don't feel a connection. If two people like "Ishtar", they are now connected in a special way.

Nowadays, as mass cultural touchstones become less frequent, and we all begin to like niche bands, movies, and books, paradoxically our sense of kinship with others begins to grow. There's little kinship between Britney Spear fans. There's a lot between Lynn Miles fans, because there are so many fewer of them.

But each person likes more than one thing. Consider a person who likes:

100 different niche bands
100 different niche books
50 different niche TV shows
Niche hobbies
Niche games
Niche foods

Not to mention our continuing touchstones around towns in which we live, schools we attend, religion, and so on.

That's a lot of niches. Think of each person's likes as genome tags sticking out from them. Any intersection with another person, on any of these likes, creates a kinship. This is why MySpace works so effectively.

This is also why the old theory of "Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon" works so effectively. The number of possible contact points grows exponentially as you branch out.

Nowadays, I feel kinship with board gamers around the world. I'm sure many of them would invite me to their home simply based on this connection. If it wasn't board games, it could be a special movie connection, or any other forum topic.

So long as the familiarity is there, and you have distinguished yourself as having basic civility, anyone should be able to play the geography game.


Oh, I forgot to add: this subject came up because I played it last night. I met someone on the street, and it turned out that they now play Settlers of Catan because they play with someone to whom I introduced the game many years ago. She bought a copy through me, and is now teaching her friends, of which he is one.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Odds and Ends

- I've written the sixth chapter of Encounter. It needs some editing, but should be ready to post next week.

For those who are late coming into the story, Encounter is a cyberpunk short story I am writing and posting irregularly on the Gone Gaming blog. Check the indexes on the blog for the previous five chapters, if you are interested.

After I finish the whole thing, I will take it and re-edit it all again. Then I will decide what to do with it. Publish it on Lulu? Send to a publisher?

- I also thought of a way of turning my Menorah Game into a pure card game. I may go back to reworking the theme and design. Or I may just keep talking about it for another ten years and not do anything about it.

- 2Old2Play writes about how the existence of strategy guides is affecting the way games are developed. On the one hand, I don't think very much about strategy guides, when they exist to take the thinking part out of the game so you can get to the whacking part. On the other hand, I don't mind a guide around when I give up on a puzzle (this is hypothetical, since I don't play much in the way of computer games).

And if the solution is not one that requires thinking but just requires random actions to solve, I probably don't think much of the game at all.

- GamesBlog mentions that Phillips is moving forward with its "Entertaible". They still haven't published any games for it, yet. I don't know why, but I honestly have really really low expectations for this. And this is despite thinking that the idea is a great one.

I'm just waiting for the buggy software, proprietary DRM'd games, privacy issues when connected to the internet, exorbitant pricing, incompatibilities, and so on and so forth.

- The Escapist runs another article that tries to convince us that games are good for us. The problem with these types of articles is that the agenda forces them to dismiss anything negative. And the problem with articles that claim gaming is bad, is that they dismiss anything positive. I need to see a few balanced, well-thought out articles that deal with the subject seriously from both perspectives.


NEWS FLASH: Indigo no longer a color!

Yehuda News, August 29, 2006:

The world's top artists have established new criteria for what may be considered "valid" colors, and the result is that indigo no longer makes the cut.

"Everyone has always knows that there's no real color between blue and violet," said John Monochrome, of the Geneva Institute of Color Research. "What the heck is indigo, anyway? We just added it so that we could pronounce 'ROYGBIV'"

The new criteria includes only colors that are main colors in the primary and secondary color wheel. That includes red, blue, yellow, green, orange, and purple (violet), but excludes nuanced colors such as indigo and pink, as well as non-visible colors such as infrared and ultraviolet.

These other colors are now called "colorettes".

The decision was reached after several years of vigorous debate. The proposal that was rejected would have kept indigo as a color, and also would have added many other colors, such as ochre and burnt umber. Some minority leaders have criticized the decision as racially motivated.

"Indigo was rejected so that burnt umber would be rejected," said the Rev Jesse Jackson. "Once again we see the colored man being left out."

Indigo, which was discovered in 1678 by Whiskey MacFleddon, an Irish poet, stood together with the other major colors for the last 330 years. The old acronym for the colors - ROYGBIV - will have to be relearned by schoolchildren around the world.

Some teachers and color purists say that they will continue to recognize indigo as a color, despite its new demoted status.

"Indigo has been a part of our lives for hundreds of years, and it's not going to go away just because some egg headed artists have decided otherwise," said Ginney MacFleddon, a schoolteacher in Ireland. "Now excuse me while I go barf in the petunias."

Yehuda Berlinger


Monday, August 28, 2006

More Milestones

Google decided to send me my first check for $10 ... or so they say.

Card Golf: the game for people who think that even golf is just too much exercise. And too exciting.

Shendoku: The information about this game includes the patents, copyrights, trademarks, web games, computer games, mobile games, board games, television shows, books, downloads, historical information, a blog, hats, t-shirts, pillows, notebooks, boxes, bibs, jerseys, tracksuits, handbags, postcards, and syndication rights. The only thing missing is the rules to the board game, which they haven't finished developing.

Update: After I queried them about the rules, someone at Shendoku sent me this link to various books that they have published for the game. You can preview the books to get an idea of what the rules are. Essentially, each player tells the other one numbers in the Soduko puzzle until one person figures it out.

He or she also had this to say:
As for the comment of the games,we have developed over 11 variations and have rules for all of them. But, unlike the SuDoku puzzle, if you want the rules, you have to buy the game. This is not a give-away!
You can also download a grid with instructions for playing the "board game" at, but you still need to buy the book to play. The board game is basically a paper with a grid drawn on it. To play the game, you roll a die, move a token to some empty grid square, and your opponent tells you what number is on that square. The first player to solve their Sudoku wins.

Meanwhile, two towns in New Jersey have banned any public games if alcohol is involved.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Law-Makers Should Study Game Design


Israel has a bizarre series of high-school tests that I hear is not unique. They are called the "Bagruyot" - each test is called a "Bagrut" - and studying for them takes the place of actually learning in the last three years of high school.

But in addition to studying for them, you have to play the bagruyot game. Honest to goodness, I still don't know how it works, and I have four teenagers.

There are about fifty possible subjects, and you can take up to five points in each subject, except when you can't. The minimum number of points in each subject is three, except when it isn't. You are required to take 21 points worth of certain subjects, such as History, Math, Citizenship, Reading & Comprehension, etc. Only, it's not really possible to take only 21 points, and even if you could do it, the minimum number of respectable points to take is at least 40.

Furthermore, you receive a grade for each of these points (each point is a section of a test), and you really need a minimum average score of over 90% to be considered respectable. If you take five points in a subject, not only do you have more scores in that subject from which to calculate the average, but you also get a twenty point bonus on your average (or maybe your total, before taking the average). Except in three subjects, where the bonus is twenty-five points.

You can only take five point tests if you take them from within school, and each school offers five points only in certain subjects. In fact, some schools require you to take five points in certain subjects, or you can't pass. Somehow, your final grade in school is also calculated together with your bagruyot scores, but only if you take them in school.

If you don't get the scores you want, you can retake the tests until you do. And you can't study certain subjects in Israeli colleges until you get certain grades, unless you come from overseas.

I haven't yet begun to explain the complications of this system, mostly because I don't know them yet. For instance, schools get funding based on the number of students who pass the bagruyot, as well as their grades. And each year, the government proclaims that some subjects are automatically passed by all students.

Students have to plan out and map strategies to ensure that they can game the system to their advantage. That's what they spend three years doing, in addition to memorizing lots of facts and junk. Learning appears to be secondary to all this.

Game Design

Does this sound like a complicated and ridiculous scoring system for a game to you? Because it sure does to me.

But like all poorly designed scoring systems, the game is full of broken mechanics, worthless strategies and tactics, and an unfair advantage to certain players.

Surely if law-makers are going to make these laws, they are too important to be placed in the hands of incompetent law designers. If your law system works like a game, you should follow the rudimentary principles of game design before implementing it.

Laws need to be clarified, simplified, and fair for all players. Then they need to be playtested rigorously. While we're at it, they should be fun. And have a nice theme.

Just imagine how much better life would be if Reiner Knizia designed our legal system:

All criminal acts would be divided into four colors. Each time you commit a crime, you receive one or more cubes of that color. A certain number of cubes of one color, or a certain number of sets of all colored cubes would result in automatic punishment. You can lose cubes by spending hours doing community service.

All players would earn 1 coin for working a certain number of hours. If your job performance makes the company money, you gain 1 coin for every 100 that the company made extra. If you pay a certain amount of money to earn education level 1, you earn 2 coins for your hours. If you can't afford this education, you can get a loan for that amount, and have to repay the amount plus 20%, but no more than 1 coin for every 10 that you earn.

Education tests may not look much different from the above scenario, but it would be made cleaner, simpler, and more fun. There would be many paths to victory, and no one path would be better than any others. Furthermore, all players would start with the same advantages, so that it would be fair.

All of this doesn't sound too different from what we already have, but it would all be thoroughly playtested to ensure that it played easily, had few rules, and there were no false strategies or broken combos.

Calling all law schools: add courses in game design to your curricula.


Update: Project Perko makes a similar observation about supermarket games.

The Tale of the Homemade Monstrosity

Before I start, I should mention that Rachel beat me in a Puerto Rico game last week, our first game since her return from Canada. I never developed any income; lots of corn doesn't make up for poor income, especially when your opponent can block the boats.

After Thursday's board game meetup in Givatayim, I returned to Beit Shemesh for the weekend. Saarya and Tal joined me on Thursday evening, and we went shopping for back-to-school items on Friday. Rachel then joined us by the afternoon on Friday.

Quo Vadis

I roped my parents into playing this light little game. Rachel declined, but, Saarya joined in. That made for four players. I was most keen to try this five players, since I think it must be best with five, but four would have to do.

My parents played, but didn't appear to be overly impressed. In part, that was because Saarya took a little too long to think through his moves. Also, it was difficult for my father to grasp the negotiation aspect; rather, he would never give anything unless he got more in return.

Anyone with experience in negotiation games knows that this is not the best strategy. It is worthwhile to negotiate even at a loss, so long as you do so promiscuously. If I give opponent A 2 points in order to receive 1 point, opponent A has no real choice but to agree to this. If I then do the same thing with opponent B and opponent C, all of these deals are irrefutable, but in the end I end up with 3 points to each of their 2. This is pretty straightforward.

The difficult part of these types of negotiation games is the "unenforceable" clause, which says that players can refuse to uphold their end of the deal if the deal involved some future promise. I have no doubt that my parents would consider this to be cheating, even if pointed this out in the rules and explained it beforehand. So there you go.

I won again, and again I won not by a little, but by a lot. That's three for three. I have no doubts that this is because I am regularly allowed overwhelmingly control of one large area of the board.

One final note: I don't think that there is a single game that I ever self-taught myself that I didn't get one of the rules incorrect. This time it was the Caesar/II laurels. I thought that you had to throw out the laurel in order to make the Caesar move, but it turns out that you don't have to throw it out, and you only get the free bonus move on the turn that you take it.

In our case, not moving the Caesar very much made for a dull game. With the correct rule, the Caesar will move more often and add some more interest to the game.

The Homemade Game

After lunch on Saturday I walked over to the Scrabble players. There were two occupied boards being played, which left me waiting.

Nearby on a couch, a friend was playing chess with his son while other children watched. I asked if anyone wanted to play a game while I was waiting.

My friend prompted one of his other sons to show me the "game that he had invented".

OK, let's be fair. It wasn't really a monstrosity, certainly not for a kid's game invented by a kid. It was ... well, I'll leave it up to you to decide.

The game was a Monopoly-style board. "I hate it when people say that it looks like Monopoly", says the designer. The board's track was 8 spaces on one side, and 6 on the other. Landing on or passing go gave you $5. Each player started with $10. The game spaces consisted of random orderings of "Buy rights", "Sell rights", "Pick card from stack 1", "Pick card from stack 2", "Pick card from stack 3", "Roll on the Challenge chart", "Roll on the Competition chart", or "Jail". In addition, there was a three space "doubles" track that led from the center of the board to the start space.

You're all drawing this down on paper as you read, right?

You roll for player order (not "to go first", but for player order).
You roll to move your piece.
If you land on a "Buy", you roll to see what number you "own", and then roll to see how much money you get whenever someone rolls it.
If you land on a "Sell", you pick a number that you own, and roll to see how much money you get from the bank for selling it.
If you land on jail, you roll to see how many turns that you lose.
If you pick a card, you roll to see which action on the card you need to perform. A typical card will say something like:

2 - Roll three times and move that many spaces.
3 - Roll ten times, and pay the number of sevens that you roll.
4 - Roll three times on the challenge chart.
5 - Roll two dice and collect that much money.
6 - Roll two dice and pay that much money.
7 - Roll to see how much money you collect if you roll three fives in ten rolls.
8 - Roll to see how much money you pay if you roll an eight in five rolls.
9 - Roll to see what number you have to roll, then roll to see how many rolls you have to make that number, then roll to try to make that number. If you make it, roll to see how much money you make. If you don't, roll to see how much you lose.
10 - Roll until you get 2. Pay the number of rolls to each player.
11 - Roll to see how much money you make. Roll ten times. If you get a three twice, collect 3 times that amount of money.
12 - Roll ten times. If you don't get three sevens, go to jail.

There were about a dozen cards in each of the three piles, and the "2" pile was more severe than the "1" pile, while the "3" pile in turn was more severe than the "2" pile.

The Challenge chart looked similar to this. The Competition chart went from 4 to 24. You had to roll four dice. Each line on this chart required all players to continuously roll until some event occurred (e.g. "first player to roll a 12"), at which point the winning player rolled to see how much money he won or lost. Or something like that.

If you rolled doubles during your normal turn, you entered the "doubles" track. On that track, you needed to pay $1 each turn to stay on the track. If you did, you got to roll, and a double would move you forward one space, wherein you could buy rights at half price, sell at double price, or I don't know what. If you didn't, you went back to the start and collected $5.

If you bankrupt, you are immediately eliminated. First player to reach $100 wins.

I sat down to play, and one player went bankrupt on the second turn, which allowed me to ask him to take my place on the fourth turn when I decided that I had played enough. At that point, I was winning $42 to $15 to $10 to $0, by the way.

Both he and the father wanted to know what I thought of it, me being such a game expert. I think my leaving during the middle of the game said something. I said that, as a kid's game, it seems like fun if you like rolling dice. However, there needs to be a coherent theme. Buying and selling "rights" to dice rolls doesn't really hold together well.


By this time, I managed to start a game of Anagrams with my friend. Unfortunately, he had to leave soon thereafter. I then got to play a Scrabble game, losing mainly because of the new two-letter "Q" word "QI", which is simply ridiculous. She managed to pull that one off for 62 points, as well as a bingo, and I still only lost 338 to 326.

I think QI and ZA have to go. Send them packing, along with XI, XU, JO, KA, KO, and all of the other stupid two letter words.



Greg Costikyan has launched Manifesto Games, which is meant to apply the Long Tail to computer games. Good luck to him. Here is the manifesto of Manifesto Games.

Lost Garden contemplates future proofing game graphics.

Another boy band, but not Backstreet Boys. Teen heartthrobs sing about Hezbollah. In its usual stupidity, Israel tries to confiscate the music.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Shabbat Shalom

We are at my parents' house in Beit Shemesh for shabbat. We expected our tenants to leave tomorrow evening; after making plans and coming here, we found out that they are actually leaving before shabbat. We could have been back in our own house already. Ah well.

On Sunday, Saarya goes back to his dorm for tenth grade, and Ariella goes away to her pre-military year "mechina". That leaves us only Tal and Eitan half time, and Saarya and Ariella once every three weeks or so.

I get to look at the other games I acquired yesterday over shabbat.

Helena from the ECGI was supposed to show up at the board game event yesterday but wasn't able to make it. She sent me an email that looked almost like poetry. She won't mind my reprinting part of it here, I hope (line breaks are hers):

margalit akavyah who founded our organisation
organised many boardgame playing events
before your time.
in our previous centre
in wingate
in teaching seminaries
if you are interested i can ask people who are even older than me what they remember
one day someone can go through the old files and get out the material
not me.

Play, play, play,
Before the time slips away.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Board Game Day, Givatayim

Cosmic Encounter

I took a half a day's vacation in order to attend Silver Stars' Board Game day in Tel Aviv. Silver Stars is the only company bringing Euro games into Israel. That's because a) they are the only ones who recognize Euro Games' value, and b) they received exclusive licenses from the publishers to do so.

The latter is not unexpected, since the potential market in Israel is so small. Still, one never knows if this hinders or helps the market for Euro games in Israel. I would love to see general toy stores free to import and carry these games, as they do games by Winning Moves and Foxmind, but if Silver Stars didn't exist, it doesn't mean that the general toy stores would be fighting to carry them. They're not fighting to stock the games that Silver Stars imports.

Anyhoo, I met Johnathan a few weeks ago, and I promised to try to come to the games day in order to help out by teaching some games. If he ended up with a lot of attendees, he wouldn't be able to organize them all.

Even though I was essentially volunteering to help a business, I was happy to do it because the more games grow in Israel, the happier I will be. The general public still doesn't know about them.

Before leaving Jerusalem, I stopped off and picked up the Cosmic, More Cosmic, and four other games that I mentioned in my previous post. The flares were still in shrinkwrap.

Apparently, these games were owned by the now deceased husband, who used to play them 11 years ago. The widow waited until her kids were grown up more to see if they wanted to play them, but they are more interested in computer games. So it came time to get rid of them.


The games day was scheduled from about 10 am until 8 pm. I arrived at around 1:30 pm. It was then that I discovered that Johnathan hadn't done a very good job at advertising the event. He had posted on the board game forums, and he had advertised in one family magazine.

He had paid a medium amount for a very nice and very large space: several rooms, more than enough to hold hundreds of people. Unfortunately, when I arrived, there were only about twelve people there. Some others came in, and some others left, but there were no more than three games going at any one time.

He had out a large table of board games that he imports and/or translates. The table was staffed by his wife and at one point by an employee of his. But they were rather lonely. He sold a few items, actually. Binyamin from my game group arrived and bought four items. And I bought a copy of Quo Vadis. And a few other games were sold, too. Also, he collected some money from some of the players for playing longer games (I'm still not sure exactly how that was supposed to work). In any case, he surely didn't make enough to cover the expenditure.

There was a group playing World of Warcraft the boardgame. Several times people played either Munchkin or a variant, or Citadels. Both of these are available in Hebrew. I also saw a game of Settlers of Catan.

I sat with John and we discussed things. I will try to send him various articles about hosting a games day and ways to get the word out and ensure that it works. He would like to see members of the Jerusalem game group make more of their presence known, both on the Hebrew game forums and to Jerusalem at large, so that more people know about us. He asked if he could translate some of the articles on this blog into Hebrew, because there are no Hebrew equivalents in print right now, and I agreed enthusiastically.

Johnathan decided to pack it up by 7:00 pm. He is still interested in trying another one. He is also scheduled to meet Helena of the EGCI sometime next month. I think, at the very least, the next games day can be scheduled at the ECGI. That would eliminate the cost of the location.

Games Played

Aside from Binyamin, I ran into Tal. I first met Tal at Gilad's house for games, and then he came to Jerusalem once (and ended up buying my game).

I opened up by teaching him, and a guy named Shlomi, how to play Power Grid. We played on the U.S. map in the two central regions and northern Pacific. My experience carried the day; although the game mechanics kept me in check some of the time. By the game end, coal was completely run out, and all of us decided to switch to plants that generated other fuel. Tal and I both had 17 capacity plants and fuel, but I had 17 cities, while he had only 15. Shlomi had 13.

After that, Binyamin and I decided to get Quo Vadis, because it wasn't too expensive, and I recalled some good words about the game. The name of Knizia on the box doesn't tell me that it's a good game, but it does tell me that the game at least will be clean and elegant.

It turned out to be a fairly straightforward negotiation game with a bit of an area-control mechanic. When you don't have the area control, you need to negotiate. You gain points moving from place to place, which you can only do if you have control of your current location, or you negotiate the control.

It's quite clean and elegant, as I expected. With three players, there wasn't much in the way of tension, even though it was still nice. I walked away with the game without any difficulty, 27 to 15 to 13. We added another player for the second game, and it became much better. Four players is definitely better than three. I still managed a win, but it was closer.

The nice part is that the negotiation element is central, but it is still rather limited. It doesn't drag out, or at least it didn't with the group that I played with. I am looking forward to trying it with five players. It might be overkill, or it might be even better. It's hard to tell.

Aside from walking around and checking out the other games and players (about a third of them were female, most were kids up to age eighteen or so), that was the day.

Now I am going to go through the Cosmic games and see if all the pieces are there (I only checked the tokens before I took the game).

Update: The boxes have some scuff marks, but the games are complete and essentially near mint.


Session Report Up

The latest JSGC session report is up here. Games played: San Juan, Winner's Circle, Havoc x 2, Cities and Knights of Catan, By Hook or By Crook, Modern Art x 2, Bridge.

This week's session report is a little dull. Sorry. I didn't take notes.

As others have also reported, Microsoft will be coming out with Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Alhambra on X-Box live. Good for them.

This afternoon I am heading to Givatayim for the first board game day in Israel that is not run by me.

And guess who is going in one hour to pick up a barely used copy of Mayfair's Cosmic AND More Cosmic for approximately $23? They're also throwing in Oil War, Tobruk, Richthofen's War, and Luftwaffe, for free. Shout out if you want one of them.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Linkety Link

Games Can Help, a non-profit organization working with the Red Cross and looking to make a difference to children in need through the joy of gaming.

National Games Week is coming November 19-25, 2006.

The HomoGenius game. First player to come out of the closet wins. Uh, yeah.

Alan Alda claims that the secret of success behind his fifty year marriage is playing cards with his wife.

And in the ridiculous marketing dept, Trivial Pursuit questions ... on Pringles chips.


Update: And I may as well add the all pink Scrabble set in support of breast cancer awareness.

As Long As We're Linking 13

This is another update on board game blogs that I have discovered since my last update. For previous updates, please see the links on the sidebar of this blog.

The following links include only blogs that contain general postings that would be of interest to most readers, and do not include company blogs or blogs that post so infrequently as to not be worth visiting.

Abstract Gamer: Joe Peterson, Hilsboro, Oregon. Includes a new podcast on abstract games.

The Apples Project: Mark Jackson will be returning with a series of article comparing the worth of various games that have similar themes.

d21: Group blog about board games and RPGs.

Dream Weaver Seven: Rick, formerly of Divine Diversions (or simply "BoardGameBlog") has moved to new quarters. The new blog includes non-game posts, as well. I seemed to have dropped off of his blog roll, but I imagine he will be correcting this very serious oversight sometime soon.

Flywheel: A group of game designers, posting ongoing designs.

Gamer's Notebook: Mike Siggin's posts at

game slips: Simon Halder, Bethesda, Maryland. Blogs about game mishaps.

Invisible City Productions: Another group of game designers.

My Play: Gerald Cameron, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Snoozefest: North Carolina. Posts audio reviews of games.

Dropped: Galfridus and Divine Diversions (Boardgameblog).


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Theme May Be Integral to a Game

A while ago, Mr. Ekted wrote that all themes are veneer. That, even for heavily themed war games, if you stripped off the designs and names, and played the game simply as hexes, tokens, and dice, you would not be able to tell what the theme was. You may be able to say that it is a war game, but not which war.

First of all, I expect that at least some themes can be discerned from the wording of the mechanics, the piece abilities, and the map structure. But I wouldn't swear to it.

In any case, Ekted is making too much of the division between theme and mechanics. You can't strip off the theme to a game and still have the same game, really.

The very way that you describe a mechanic gives it a thematic flavor. Taking a card from a pile might be "drafting", "collecting", "selecting", "purchasing", "accepting", or a host of other thematic names that gives a clue as to what the theme is.

Also, it is a Euro-gamer's perspective that NASCAR Monopoly is the same game as Atlantic City Monopoly, with a simple theme switch. But that is not necessarily true. The pictures, the flavor, the act of moving a car rather than a shoe around a board, have a lot to do with the feel of the game. The mechanics cannot simply be separated out from this experience.

The most you can say is that an individual mechanic cannot be limited to, or ascribed to, a specific theme. Listing the mechanics of a game are simply not enough to describe the game. The mechanics of Atlantic City Monopoly are not Atlantic City Monopoly or even Monopoly; they are only parts of the game.

Or at least, one could argue that.

The point is that taking out the thematic overlays and then claiming that the game's theme is no longer detectable is not really saying much, since the game itself has changed.


BBC, Live in Lebanon

Monday, August 21, 2006

1,500 jobs in a board game company in Nova Scotia

Headz Gamez, a board game company based in British Columbia, is transferring operations from China to Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. The new plant will employ 1,500 people. Some positions have already been filled. Source.


I must note this excellent pep article from Creating Passionate Users.

No Thanks: A study in Mechanics

Classifying mechanics has a lot to do with the way the mechanic is described. In other words, classifying mechanics is subject to a thematic bias.

The rules of No Thanks are blindingly simple. The game is for 3 to 5 players. The game consists of a deck of 33 cards numbers 3 to 35, and a sufficient number of tokens. Each player begins with 11 tokens.

The cards are shuffled and 9 cards are removed the deck. On a player's turn, if no card is currently flipped up, flip up a card. The player then either takes the card and all tokens on the card, or places one of his tokens on the card. If he takes the card, he goes again. If he places a token on the card, play passes to the next player.

At the end of the game, your score is the face value of your cards minus the number of tokens that you have. However, if you have any cards in sequence (e.g. 9-10, or 20-21-22-23) you count only the lowest valued card of each sequence (e.g. 9 or 20). Lowest score wins.

What mechanics does No Thanks use?

This is a matter for interpretation.

Action Points: Each player is given 11 action points to start with. During your turn, you can use one of your action points to avoid taking the current card. Or, you can take the card and gain additional action points from the tokens on the card.

Area Control: The game consists of 33 areas, 24 of which come into play each game. Each area you control is negative points. However, if you control contiguous areas, only the least negative area counts against your score.

Auction: Each time a card is up for sale, you raise the ante of how much you are willing to pay not to take the card. The first person to decline to up their bid takes the card, as well as all other players' bids. All other players lose their bids.

Betting: You pay money into the pot every time you don't want to take the current offering. If a low card comes up, or a card that fits into your sequence comes up, you can win the card and the pool.

Card Drafting: You are trying to form the best hand at the least cost. The best hand is an arrangement of sequences, where the lowest card of each sequence is less than anyone else's, combined with your remaining tokens.

Commodity Speculation: You are trying to buy cards of approximately equal values. A single card is worth its value. Sets of cards are worth only the lowest value among them. Buying these commodities comes with cash incentives. Each game has up to ten commodities, depending on which cards were removed before starting.

Delivery: Each player pays money to not deliver a load. If you don't pay the fee, you must deliver the load for however much payoff is allocated for that load.

Hand Management: You are trying to manage cards as you collect them, hoping to buy necessary cards with limited resources.

Pattern Building: You are trying to complete card patterns, the least number of, and the least valued, patterns.

Route Building: You are trying to create a travel itinerary on a budget. The cheapest itinerary, with the least number of jumps, while saving the most amount of money.

Set Collection: Collect sets of sequences cards at the least cost.

Stock Holding: Buy losing stocks. The least losing portfolios at the end wins.

Trading: Each player contribute tokens that they are willing to trade to whomever agrees to take the card. In return, they agree to take other cards in the future, once they agree to its price.

Unit Deployment: Battle opportunities arise, and you can fend them off or fight them, gaining all spent resources in the process.

Variable Phase Order: Each player gets a turn, but can take additional turns if they agree to take the face up card immediately after it is revealed.

Variable Player Powers: There isn't, but there should be.

Voting: Each player casts votes on issues with political penalties. A player can accept the issue, and gain all political influence spent by other players as a result.

No Thanks uses all of these mechanics? No. But there is a lot of overlap between what we think of as mechanics and the thematic description behind them. If I had to pick the most intuitive mechanics to assign to the game, I would probably choose auctions and set-collection. But it really depends on the theme.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why Game Rules are Better than Laws

In a previous post I ruminated about the inherent problem with law making. I postulated that all laws invariably error on the side of forbidding that which should be permitted, or permitting that which should be forbidden. In this way, laws are like wild shots trying to bring order into our lives, but doomed to imperfection at any fine level of analysis.

Nevertheless, I admit that, as they say about Democracy, it may not be perfect but it's the best system we've got. Laws substantially help society to achieve the results of the principles that they want to enforce, and this is despite the fact that the laws will never do so 100%.

One of the funny things we have noticed about the Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club is that so many of us are "yekke"s, which is the word we use for Jews of German descent. This group is noted for its strict adherence to punctuality and formality. In other words, rules are a big part of life.

None of us think that it is coincidental that these type of people are drawn to a game group.

Where else but a game group can you find relief from the messy nature of the rest of life? The rules of games are printed in black and white. Along with commonly agreed upon ethical principles and sportsmanship, these rules are limited and clear. While the game is in session, no one adds more rules to the game or changes them.

Of course, we all know that this is a load of crap. Rules problems occur during games, especially rules heavy games like Magic: the Gathering or chaotic games like Cosmic Encounter. And we love these games just as much as any other games, maybe even more.

Even so, games provide a safe and comfortable platform for rules discussions, so long as we are all of good will and the discussions are limited in length. They can be enforced for a limited duration, such as one game, or set as house rules that will be used for all of our game sessions.

In fact, discussing rules is something we like a lot, so long as it doesn't take over the game play, lead to senseless circular discussions, or grate on anybody. Similarly, once a great game system is in place, creating variants and seeing them work is like a happy drug to the rules-oriented mind.

Contrast this to the rules of social conversation, or politics, or copyrights. These rules are endless, change constantly, and make no basic sense at any fine level. Even the "right" way to talk about these rules is never agreed upon. We all know that we're right, and the other person just doesn't get it. What's wrong with you people?

Entering a game, entering a game group - or a sports group, or a book club, or any other defined social gathering, but especially games and sports - is a soothing balm to lovers of rules and rationality, like relaxing with a fine wine.


P.S. Gerald Cameron continues the search for elegance in games.

Weekend Gaming

None, sadly.

One of the ... inconveniences about shabbat is that you can't write. The reason why is somewhat complicated, having to do with business and the temple sanctuary.

But anyhow, the shabbat experience is an amazing one. It's hard to describe it to people who haven't experienced it. It's a day for not moving forwards at all, but only enjoying what we already have. One day a week, you can't write for your blog, pursue your career, work on your invention, or build onto your new house.

It's a day of rest from the idea that we always have to be accomplishing something to have intrinsic value. Let us make no mistake; the rest of the week, accomplishing things is a high priority. We are not lazy or against progress. But if we never take time to see what is around us, then we can never appreciate it. That's a good argument for games, and one of the reasons that I like to play them on shabbat.

However, simple innocuous things are set aside on this day in order to preserve that separation from the work week, and one of them is writing.

It's not that I wanted to write on my blog this shabbat. I just wanted to write down the several great ideas I had for blog posts, all of which I have now forgotten, as I expected that I would.

Oh, well. That's what we say when the electricity goes out on shabbat, or the phone rings, or the food ends up having been burnt. Oh, well. We can live with that. We didn't build our house well enough; or we weren't prepared for what happened. We didn't cook the food properly. We are imperfect. We are unprepared. We are at the mercy of much that is beyond our power and our ability.

And after shabbat, we clean up and start another week of work.

But the blog posts ... let's see if I can remember one of ...


I think I wanted to get into game rules, contrasting them with my recent post about the futility of perfecting law.

Let's see what I can come up with.


From Anthony and Cleojackson


Come, thou mortal wretch,
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst someone sweep
Out these maternally lusting reptiles from out
Of this motherly affixed boat?

More games and theater: Prisonopoly, this week and next in Indiana.

Two game variations:

Sycarion Diversions offers up a block game called Tactical March.

Naturelich offers up a Vanguard variation for Carcassonne. Vanguard was simply Richard Garfield's most blatant copying of the Cosmic Encounter motif into his game, Magic: the Gathering. Richard has said that the Cosmic was one of the main inspirations for the game to begin with.

It is my humble opinion that special powers can be added to just about any game, making it better. Thus it is proved that as any game gets better, it becomes more and more like Cosmic Encounter.

And I don't mean the lame Avalon Hill version.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Weekend's Coming and so is Rachel

My wife is about an hour and a half away from landing at Tel Aviv, God willing, and according to the El Al schedule information. It's been a long three and a half weeks.

We are still displaced at Nadine's apartment until next Saturday night; we also have another apartment available if Nadine needs it earlier for some reason.

I believe, although I'm not sure, that Rachel should be returning with a few of the many things that have been accumulating in America/Canada for me. Most went to my sister-in-law's family in New York, but some went to Rachel's father in Toronto. I don't remember if there are any games included in those.

Rachel will get to Jerusalem only moments before shabbat starts, so I made (read: bought) all the shabbat food and did all the preparations already for when she arrives. I'm such a nice husband.

I was supposed to be teaching a games group for kids next week with Binyamin in Beit Shemesh, but it appears to have been delayed (again). And I am still strongly considering making it to the Tel Aviv games day next week on Thursday. Very strongly.

Now I'm just talking to my computer. Actually, Nadine's computer.

Hello, computer.

Actually, I'm not talking to the computer; I'm talking to you guys, through the computer.

Hello, you guys.

How are you doing? Play any games this week? If not, why not? Make time for them. Find other people who play. Get other people to play.

You know what? If you spent good quality time outdoors, or talking to people, or reading, running, or making love, that counts, too.

If you spent any time this week making the world any better for other people, that also counts.

If you usually aren't happy, but you spent time making yourself happy in a way that didn't hurt or neglect anyone else, that also counts.

Sometimes it's hard to change the world. But everyone can contribute their own little bit.

For my own part, I was actually a little annoyed this morning that both the Carnival of Gamers, and Boing Boing, both to whom I submitted articles recently, neglected me. But then I thought, "Hey! They pick you up sometimes. You can't complain that they don't pick you up every time. Be happy for what you have."

I am happy. I'm happy that you're reading. I'm happy that I'm writing. And I'm happy that Rachel is coming back.

Peace out,

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Game Accessories

Bezier Games has just released Start Player. This is a deck of cards, each of which contains a unique rule as to who will start the next game. The idea is to use these cards during game group, or something like that. Before each game, you draw a card to see who starts. Cards say things like "The tallest player starts", and so on.

It's not really a game, it is a game accessory. I have a little metal hand spinner that I got from Sunriver Games at the first BGG.con that does the same thing.

Other game accessories include alternative dice, dice towers, card protectors, box protectors, Plexiglas covers, storage trays (mostly for war games and all their little chits), and specially designed notepads for keeping score. Not to mention the many game related items like tee-shirts and bumper stickers sold at many places.

Our game industry is so small altogether, it is hard to believe that it could even support a secondary market such as this. On the other hand, game accessories are useful for all types of games. So even if a particular game in the market only sells five thousand copies, there are still thousands of these games. And you only need to capture a small percentage of all gamers.

Also, hobby gamers are demonstratively insane to begin with. Who else would pay for game after game costing $40 or more retail? If they're rich enough to plunk down a thousand dollars for games, they probably want some cool meeple bookmarks, too.

Weird people.


P. S. Note the game being played in the Google Summer Code Jam's European Group. Anyone know the players? (via my son, Saarya)

U.S. Patent Code ... in verse

U. S. Code, Part 35 - Patents

The Copyright Code is here
The Trademark Code is here

These verses are part
Thirty five of the code
Of the U. S. of A.
Written down as an ode

They summarize patent law
Most generally
But don't cover every fine
Detail, you see

For instance small business
Pays half the fees stated
This info was left out
Of what was related

So what I have written
Be it naughty or nice
Is no substitute for real
Legal advice

(And where I write "he"
I don't mean to insist
That a man is implied
I'm not that Chauvinist)

Part I


This section establishes
The office, PT
And says that it's located
In Washington, D.C.


The office can do what
It does, naturally
Make patents and trademarks
For people to see


There's directors, commissioners,
And lawyers there, too
They all should be trained
So they know what to do


Anyone working there
In any capacity
Can't claim any patents,
To ensure their veracity


The patent dispensers
Can't sit and look pretty
They have to take heed of
An advisory committee


After making decisions,
Either "yes" or "rejected",
A board of appeals may now
Change what they just did


The director can't only
Depend on his looks
He has to be smart and
Read plenty of books


The director may also
Reclassify subjects
In order to help decide
Accepts or rejects


The director may give -
He's got nothing to hide -
Copies of patents and
Pics, certified


He also may publish
This stuff in a journal
So it can be read by
All people, external


He can also give copies
To foreigners; although
Only if they're from NAFTA
Or the WTO


Libraries also
Get copies each year
They make for good doorstops
Or so I do hear


In June every year
He reports the amount
Of money left in the
PTO's bank account


If you pay any fees, you
Can now feel relieved -
The postmark establishes
When they're received


Documents received can be
Sent in by mail
Either electronic
Or delivered by snail


If you need to appear in
A court to testify
The director may tell you
What rules will apply


If you are a witness
It's no cause to unravel
They pay for your trouble
And also your travel


Some things you can mail in
If signed, under oath
Lying may cost money,
Or imprisonment, or both


Documents may sometimes be
Accepted when wrong
If corrected ones will soon
Be following along


The director can fire people
Pretty much when he feels
(If you're wondering, section 31
Has since been repealed)


Pretending to practice
In the patenting field
Will cost you a thousand bucks
When your guilt is revealed


There's all sorts of fees
To be paid for this service
If you're six months past due
You had better be nervous


The fees get collected
And used to pay costs
Important info without which
You'd surely be lost

Part II


Some words are defined here
To prevent all contention
For instance: "invention" means
Uh, well it means "invention"


Patents are for processes,
Machines, or compositions,
Or improvements thereof,
Subject to conditions


If already known
Or in print, or described,
Or abandoned, a patent
Cannot be applied


A process that anyone could
Discover's superfluous
You can't patent it, for it's
Patently obvious


You can only claim patent
If you made the invention
In a country with which we
Have no contention


If you come from outer space
The rules aren't dismissed
Apparently this applies to
The lawyers who wrote this


To apply for a patent
You fill out in writing
And you swear and you pay
Isn't that exciting?


You fill out your claim
About what the thing does
And how it all works
And wherefore and because


You can send in some pictures
To make your case clear
You can use finger paints
If your children are near


You may need to send in a
Working model, too
For things biological
You send in some goo


You then make an oath
That you're telling the truth
And then go to dinner
And drink your vermouth


Inventors join forces if
Co-invention is proved
You can also join later
Or have your name removed


If you're dead, your estate
Might on patents insist;
Wait, if you're dead, how
Are you reading this?


If you don't want to patent
Don't worry too much
Let someone else do it
For a fee or somesuch


If you're already registered
Outside the states
You are retroactively granted
Within a year of the date


A followup patent
Is often permitted
To be dated to when the
First one was submitted


Two inventions should not
Be submitted together
So split them, and next time
Don't try to be clever


Patent applications are
Kept in obscurity
Especially ones that
Affect national security


A mysterious section;
It says the director
Will don trenchcoat and specs
And become an inspector


If rejected, a letter to
The inventor goes flying
It says, "Sorry. No good. But
Thank you for trying."


If you fail to reply
To a letter you get
Your application is invalid
Which you'll surely regret


If you twice get rejected
I know just how you feel
Take heart, and complain to
The board of appeals


Interference is when
Two patents disagree
Kind of like in football


If you're still unhappy, you
Can complain higher up;
Has anyone else noticed that
The numbering is screwed up?


Just go to the Federal
Circuit to yell
Was that "Circuit" or "Circus"?
How can anyone tell?


The Circuit (or Circus)
Will request all the docs
And the PTO sends them
Overnight in a box


It decides what to do
And will tell you quite freely
You can bribe them with small bills
Or gifts (no, not really)


Weirder yet, if you don't like
Federals of that sort,
You can yell at the office
And take them to court


And the same thing applies
For interference probs,
But you probably won't win
If you break down in sobs


If your patent is granted
You'll get it the day
That you break out your wallet
And finally pay


An assignee can also
Receive it for you
Make sure he remembers
To pass it on, too


The patent is stamped, and
It's signed and it's sealed
And it's boiled and basted
And posted and peeled


The patent applies in the
Days and the nights
For the next twenty years
Giving exclusive rights


You can't extend patents
For even one day
Unless pending research
By the FDA


An exception is made
To give extension
For drugs made during Carter's


More exceptions are granted
For DNA and stuff
To ensure that they have been
Tested enough


Statuatory registration
May also be involved
Even before other
Issues are solved


A whole chapter follows
Devoted to plants
There's no such provision
For new types of ants


Why not? Ants are much
Cuter than greenery
They crawl upside down
And they brighten the scenery


And ants are important
They aerate the ground
And they clean up dead leaves
Wherever they're found


By the way, you may notice
That plants I'm ignoring
It's mostly because this
Whole chapter was boring


This next chapter talks about
Patents for design
Get out your finger paints
And step up to the line


The previous priority
System's used here
For checking the dates
Day and month, and the year


Design patents last only
For fourteen years
By which time the next fad
Of style appears


Some patents are secret
For national fears
This secrecy must be
Renewed every year


Any secret patent will
Be quickly removed
If filing in some other
Country is proved


If secrecy harms you
You'll be compensated
Important people tell you
How this is calculated


A regular patent you
Filed for here
Can be filed abroad if
You wait half a year


You can only do that
With a license obtained
Without it you'll lose
Unless error is claimed


Publishing secrets is
Really uncool
A lesson you should have learned
Back in high school


Permission is granted
To people who warrant
If you have to ask, then you
Certainly aren't


More rules can be written
About secrecy
And hidden in places
Where no one can see


This chapter deals mostly
With federally assisted
Inventions; yours wasn't
You probably missed it


More plain definitions are
Written out here
In order to make sure
All meanings are clear


Sometimes the government
Let's you keep what you made
It depends on a poker game
Who won, and who played


Even when the government
Doesn't make you lose it
They'll probably force you
To let them use it


If you license it out
In any circumstance
You must give U.S.
Companies first chance


The feds won't blab secrets
With their interests at stake
It might interfere
With the money they'd make


Once again, here's a clause
That if these rules are lacking
More rules may be created
With federal backing


Federal agencies
Should hold patents, because
They could patent up "war"
Before somebody else does


All parts of the government
Every hill, town, and alley
Must listen to the government
Except Tennessee Valley (it's true)


A federal patent
Can be licensed to mentors
Who may actually need it
Like "Bob's House of Inventors"


A really long section
That talks about precedence
And goes on for pages
With little or no consequence


These special regulations
For citizens governmental
Won't help you in the least
For any acts criminal


Educational grants are
Not covered by these
Laws; so go patent
Your blue college cheese

Part III


If a patent's defective
As some are, naturally,
You can have them updated
If you pay the right fee


The old one is replaced by
The new. Too bad we
Can't as simply replace a bad


A partial invalidation
Doesn't wreck the whole claim
Just mark what's in error and
Find someone to blame


If the office made an error
The director must pontificate
Whether to correct it
Or issue a certificate


If the applicant made the error
The choices are the same
But corrections cost money
To stay in the game


You can even have names
Corrected within,
You should spell your name correctly
When you first send it in


Patents are property
According to this small part
You can sell them, or trade them,
Or buy them at Walmart


Each owner in joint can
Sell his part or hers
Regardless of what the
Other owners prefer


If the patent is needed
By the U. S. armed forces
All dates are extended
As a matter of courses


Using patented methods
Or a patented device
Is considered infringement
And it isn't quite nice


But patented engines
Not available here
Can be used in your vehicle
Without any fear


New patents released cannot
Cause an infraction
A year after you started
Doing your action


The civil court rules
On all cases without fuss
Because patent infringement
Just isn't civil-rous


You can claim in defense
That the patent is wrong
Or the claims that it makes
Were obvious all along


The court may then rule
An injunction, or not
Against you, against them
For who knows why and what


The court may award damages
Or minimally royalties
Depending on how much you
Win the court's loyalties


The court may award court fees
In exceptional cases
Like ripping up patents
And throwing into faces


You can only collect damages
For up to six years
Get those lawyers going
And spread the good cheer


You can mark things protected
By writing on them "pat."
And the number; you won't collect
Damages without that


If part of the patent is
Found to be invalid
The rest still applies
Like a steak without salad


Design patents are also
Protected by all of this
You have to pay minimum
Two hundred fifty damages


When patents are challenged
Some letters are then sent
They're also sent out for
Any case of infringement


In a clash of two patents
The first one prevails
The other is corrected
And all that entails


Mismarking as patented, or
Claiming when not,
Is a fine of up to five
Hundred dollars, hot shot


If you're living abroad
Just send one of your staff
Who lives here to sue for you
On your behalf


Instead of the courts
You can use arbitration
If both of the parties
Give affirmation


An item that can be made
In a patented way
Is assumed to have been so
Which seems backwards, I say


States are like people
When suing in courts
They'e liable for actions
Infringeable, all sorts


An invention promoter
Can help you with issues
You can sue if his promises
Were all made of tissues


If you recognize an invention
In whole or in part
You can file a complaint
And then claim "prior art"


You can also request
On the very same day
A reexamination, if
You're willing to pay


The director will think
And he'll squint and he'll scratch
And he'll try to decide if
The arguments match


And he may even open some
More patent questions
He'll also listen to the
Patent owner's suggestions


The owner may then change
The patent specific
To exclude prior art, in
Which case, it's terrific


Or he may try to send
An appeal of some sort
All actions get noted down
On the report


In the end, a certificate
Is issued in writing
The judgement is final
No crying, no fighting


This section is like the last one
But "Inter parte"
Which means that the questioner
Doesn't go away


See, "Ex parte" means
That a question is asked
And then the director
Completes the whole task


Otherwise they're the same
Which explains my objection
To simply repeating all
I wrote the last section


Instead the director
Sits back in his chair
And watches the fighting
And ensures its all fair


And appeals can be filed
Which is very revealing
Because the procedure
Is hardly appealing


When everything's over
A certificate's written
On which party bited
And which one got bitten


If you lose your brought case
You don't get to make more
Unless you have new news
Which changes the score


The patent owner may also
Stay more litigation
Unless it will benefit
Some part of the nation

Part IV


This part is all about
Patenting treaties
With neighboring countries,
Those cute little sweeties


The office of patents
Does business with all
Countries and citizens


The office can collect fees
For other nations
And also take from them
Without reservation


International patents
Are also stored here
On the date they're recorded
By month, day, and year


All services rendered
For all other nations
Are according to treaties
And recommendations


The dates on the patents
Are from the dates filed
In any valid country
But not those reviled


International claims
Can still be withdrawn
Unless made nationally
Before they are gone


And there still are reviews
As treaties specify
If a claim gets misplaced,
Or held up, or denied


If a patent that's foreign
Is secretly kept
You can't tell its contents
To people inept


We respect foreign patents
And register them, sir
We respect them more than we
Respect foreigners


Our procedures are guided by
Treaties real, not fictitious
This chapter is becoming
Quite repetitious


For instance, this says that
We only accept
Forms from those people we
Accept, not reject


And we publish these too, just
Like all of the others
Because we really just love you
So, so much (oh, brother!)


We'll enforce foreign patents
As if we had written them
And the original language
Trumps ours, in a problem


All services rendered
Costs dollars, which fits
I assume that the payer is
The one who submits

Well that's it, hope you've learned
All you wanted to know
If you have any problems
Please don't tell me so


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What next? The criminal code? Armed forces? Should I do all of them and turn them into a book?

If anyone wants me to render any other texts into mock poetry, I am available for hire; this extremely limited and specific talent should be put to good use.