Thursday, May 31, 2007

Session Report, in which we discover a great Power Grid variant

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up here. Games played: For Sale, Power Grid, Children of Fire: the Board Game, Netrunner, San Juan, Tichu, Lo Ra.

We make a slight change to the power plant market in Power Grid to good effect.

Kindershpiel drops off a couple of versions of Apples to Apples to my house.

Jack played with us once before. It turns out that he has started a weekly gaming group in the center of Jerusalem every Sunday evening aimed at Russian speakers. That's two new board gaming groups opening in the last few weeks. Yowza.


Well, it looks like I'm headed to BGG.con in Dallas in November after all, which only means I have to have another game ready by then.

I will also be at Dicecon in Glasgow next month, although only for a few hours.

Many other conventions happening in the near future, such as the UK Games Expo in a few days, where my first published game It's Alive is supposed to premier, if all goes well.

Also this weekend is A-kon, a large anime and comics convention, which a number of gamers I know will be attending.


Static Zombie had the usual comment to make about Microsoft's new Surface computer system, but more interesting was a reply from a Microsoft rep dissing the Entertaible:
The Entertaible's recognition technology is fundamentally compromised. It basically fires IR beams in a diagonal mesh across the surface. If you had, say, four hidden-information visors on top of an Entertaible, there would be a dead zone in the middle where the recongition wouldn't work. Plus it's junky and slow—though that, at least, is ultimately just a solvable software problem. Still, we completely kick the Entertaible's keister.

But yes, home users need to be patient and wait for the second generation. I can't tell you what that technology will be like—at least not here in public ;)—but suffice it to say that v2 solves all of your concerns.

Stephen Beeman
Catch Michael Jordal on television station KSMQ next month talking about board games, and Heroscape in particular. If you don't know Heroscape, it's a toy/game crossover, with lots of customizable terrain and little military and fantasy figures from all time periods. Pretty cool, actually.


P.S. I am going on another synagogue weekend starting from this evening, so may not be in touch again until Sunday. Bringing games, of course! Have a nice weekend.


The following is a paid review.

Site reviewed:


One might expect a site that has the words "Learn Texas Hold em" in the title to be primarily aimed at beginners, but this one isn't. While it does have a reasonable collection of articles for the beginning player, the majority of its content is aimed at more advanced players already familiar with the jargon and basic skills of the game.

The site contains, in essence, three main features: articles about the game, aimed at those playing, or intending to play, for money; rankings and short reviews of online texas holdem sites; and a few downloadable professional player assistance tools.

Design and Navigation

The site is very well laid out and easy to navigate, although it appears to contain more types of information than it really does. There are numerous categories and so on in the navigation bar and side bar, but everything on the site is either an article, rating/review, or a tool, at least as far as I could tell.

The pages employ some solid JS and HTML, and were pleasant to use, easy to read, and had no annoying problems.

Oddly enough, one vast hole in the website is that it contains nothing whatsoever about who runs the site or how to contact him or her. The only clue is the occasional use of the word "I" or "my", which indicates that the site is probably done by one person. He or she even asks the reader to let him or her know about requested improvements, but provides no means of identifying or contacting him or her.

Update: Contact information here.


The articles really shine. Not only are they full of useful information about the game, the odds, the industry, and so on, they are well laid out and easy to read. And interesting to read, too.

They are organized by topic, supposedly, but the organization was rather loose; instead, simply use the titles to guide you. The exception to this is a group of articles entitled "Bad Beat", which are generally amusing stories of opponents pulling inside straight flushes and so on.

They really are educational, not only about the game itself, but also about the long-term view of playing thousands and thousands of hands a year, where even a lunk like me can tell that the skill of playing your opponents is going to edge out any short term run of luck.

(I know the site owner is going to think I'm an idiot here, but every article simply assumes that you're playing TH for money. As a gamer but not a gambler, this irks me just a tad. It might be possible to enjoy the game of TH just for fun. But, come to think of it, playing for money and playing for poker chips is not too much different.

It's just that when you read article after article about finding the "losers" and how to take their money, it gets a little dehumanizing. After all, the entire idea here is to make a living out of other people losing their money to you because they are too stupid to play poker. General strategy articles I read about winning other types of games don't talk like this; mainly because they're more concerned about the fun of the game, than the ultimate winnings.

I have no objection to someone spending $100 on poker and losing it if they at least get $100 worth of entertainment out of it. But when you read about skill after skill, and tip after tip, on how to separate fools from their money, it feels a bit nasty. But, that's the reality of poker.)

The site also offers a Newsletter of "free poker tips".

Ranking and Reviews

Even more prominent on the site are the rankings and reviews of online poker sites. Like the previous site I reviewed, it is quite clear that this site makes money from referrals to the sites reviewed, and even has special agreements with some of them. As a result, the reviews must be understood as having some susceptibility to bias; unfortunately, no such disclaimer is provided.

The rankings are done on several areas, such as best overall site, best room, best sign-up bonus, best tournaments, and so on. There is no full list of ranked sites. Instead, only the top ten or so in each area are displayed. I can't tell how many sites are reviewed over all, there is no way of finding a specific site, and there is no way of seeing the poorly ranked sites, if any exist.

The reviews are very short, and generally positive, with most of the negative comments concerning the interface or software. Along with each review comes information on whether they accept U.S. players, sign-up bonus, and instructions on how to get started on the site.

Although this is the site's main feature, it didn't impress me overall; there should be more sites, easier access to the entire list of sites, and more thorough reviews.


The site provides four tools:

1. texas holdem calculator

This is a free online Flash program that allows you to place cards around and then calculate the odds of winning or losing from the specified position. It can be used to analyze several types of game and from 2 to 5 players in a game.

2. texas calculatem

This is a small client that sits above actual rooms on certain sites and allows you to see the odds as you play on the site. I'd say that for a beginner, this is probably an essential tool; most advanced players probably know the odds of any particular hand off the top of their head.

This tool is free if you sign-up at a site while downloading it. It doesn't appear to be available for purchase otherwise.

3. sit and go shark

The same thing as texas calculatem for the game Sit and Go.

4. Poker Usher

My comment about this site showing a certain amount of "nasty" may just as well of been inspired by this little doodad, which records and analyzes hands from your online playing experience and then finds the tables with the worst players when you log into a site, allowing you to quickly and easily strip them of their money, like a shark smelling blood.


I have to admit it's probably a unique tool and a good idea if you're serious about making money through online poker. However, it appears to take some time to build up enough of a database of information before it starts becoming useful.


If one wants to seriously learn to play for money, the articles on this site and the tools appear to be excellent resources for just that. The ratings and rankings are ok, but nothing special. You may get some benefit out of clicking through to an online site from this site owing to some of the special offers.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Game Night A'coming

There was no game night last week, so I'm in withdrawal. Tonight should fix it, I hope. Tonight should also be the inaugural meeting of the Beit Shemesh gaming club. I'm looking forward to hear how it goes.

I'm finding it a hard job to create the Hebrew Apples to Apples cards, mainly because my Hebrew is so poor. I envisioned simply organizing my various teenagers to do it for me (for pay, of course), and they've done some, but not enough. But I can't help but think this would be easier for a native Hebrew speaker.

Game News

Flywheel posts the awesome report of Improv game design.

Rule 0 makes fun of the Clue theme.

Game Tycoon compares board games to computer games, and finds (surprise) that board games are more social.

Island Run is a rolled up customizable game with a nautical theme for promotion. I emailed them asking for a copy of the rules.

Just like it did when it busted GO's pen and tablet based computing in the early nineties, Microsoft looks poised to bust the Entertaible with a new focus on horizontal desktop computing.

The Border Mail covers the upcoming Australian Games Expo.

And an amazing Jenga move:


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

13 Foreign Film Reviews


Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain is a nice contemporary movie that has managed to secure one of the top spots on, for some unknown reason.

Plot: Amélie (Audrey Tautou), who has a penchant for mischief and meddling, finds a book of passport photos. In the course of returning it to its owner Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), to whom she is tentatively attracted, she must overcome her fear of a real relationship.

This lighthearted comedy is told with a voice-over narration and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall. In the course of their "courtship", the main characters play a series of games; Amélie so as to get further glimpses of Nino, and Nino in an attempt to finally contact Amélie in person.

Amélie's downstairs neighbor is a painter who plays the wise counselor, and helps her to break out of her shell.

I found the movie to be a pleasant diversion with many memorable scenes, but not one that would reach my list of "greatest movies of all time".

Orphée, or Orpheus, is an "art" movie based on the myth of Orpheus brought into modern times. Immortal characters, such as Death, interact with modern humans, in all manners of strange circumstances.

Plot: A poet (Jean Marais) obsessed with fame becomes obsessed with Death (María Casares), who, in turn, falls in love with him. She kills his wife (Marie Déa), and he must travel to Hell to bring her back.

In truth, the plot is only something upon which to hang the scenes and characters. The special effects, traveling through mirrors and misty halls of Hell, are primitive, sort of what you would see in a live stage production.

You don't go to see this type of movies for the plot or effects, however. You see it for the layers of symbolism and depth of meaning. In truth, the movie fulfills expectations, but does not exceed them. A lot of heart was put into the story and the movie details, with some memorable dreamy sequences. But overall, it lacks something of the timelessness and really revelatory experience that one finds in, say, a Bergman film. Many details seem to have specific meaning for the time period in which the movie was made.

Definitely on the list of movies to see, if you like this sort of movie.


An Austen-like comedy of manners in modern Taipei, Eat Drink Man Woman (Yin shi nan nu) is an enjoyable, often humorous modern movie.

Plot: A famous retired chef (Sihung Lung) spends each Sunday at home cooking the weekly family dinner, but he has lost his sense of taste. His three adult daughters (Yu-Wen Wang, Chien-lien Wu, Kuei-Mei Yang) navigate their daily lives concerning work and men, as well as their aging father and the loud, ill-mannered woman apparently pursuing him.

Ang Lee does a wonderful job with this film, populated with a fun cast of appealing modern characters and a cornucopia of delicious food shots, used as an allegory of love between the characters.

Anyone who likes Jane Austen adaptations will most probably like this one as well.

Hero (Ying xiong) is a truly gorgeous, but slightly insubstantial, mythic tale about three enemies of the emperor, and the alleged champion who killed them. It contains the usual fantasy gravity-defying fight scenes and a simple story.

Plot: The emperor (Daoming Chen) is trying to create a united China, and as a result has a number of would-be assassins. A nameless hero (Jet Li) who allegedly killed his three most feared enemies arrives at the palace to recount how he overcame each opponent. But all is not as it seems.

This gorgeous movie is essentially told in five vignettes, each told in a different color. The color may symbolize something about the events of that scene, but whatever it was, it was certainly pretty, with the many flowing clothes and drapes casting an ethereal mood.

While the story tangentially deals with the right or wrong of uniting a country by force, this seems to be almost entirely beside the point of the visual direction. As a result, the movie is not an earthshaking revelation of any sort, but more of a director's exercise. It is a good movie, somewhat less of a movie than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, even as it equals or even surpasses it in visual design.

You probably won't be bored if you like rich visuals and Zen like martial arts.


Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) is an incredibly beautiful animated tale of courage, perseverance, and understanding, with the pace and excitement of Star Wars and mythic depth.

Plot: Ashitaka (Billy Crudup in the English language version) encounters a boar-like forest spirit turned demon. He embarks on a quest to find what turned the spirit into a demon, hoping to prevent any reoccurrence. In order to do this, the wise woman of his village tells him he will need "eyes unclouded by hate".

He encounters warring clans, a village run by a strong woman of vision, various creatures and spirits of nature, and San (Claire Danes), a human feral girl. All sides seem poised to attack each other, but none seems wholly wrong or right.

This is the movie that made me realize how stultified and silly our American animated movies had become. Aside from the beautiful drawings, the story is a rich tapestry of adult themes, unknown to the usual Disney fare of "love conquers all".

There are no wholly bad and good characters here and no easy solutions. While sometimes anthropomorphic, the creatures act like creatures, not like little people. Dozens of different points of view and layers of myth and symbolism create an engaging and exciting story, tense with irresolution, an full of likable characters.

Sometimes humorous, sometimes intense, always wise, this movie is really for everyone, except those who might be scared by squirming worm like things and some violent encounters (not too bloody, but there is some blood).

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) follows the same strengths of Princess Mononoke, albeit on a grander and somewhat looser scale. As a result, while still a great story and full of interesting mythic elements, the whole lacks a certain cohesion.

Plot: A 10 year-old girl and her family on their way to their new house take a "short cut" and find a strange and empty fair filled with wonderful food. The girl is cautious, but the parents indulge, and subsequently turn into pigs, while the fair turns into a meeting ground of spirits as night falls.

In order to rescue her parents and find her way home, the girl takes a job in a bathhouse for these spirits, and encounters many strange characters and events.

This movie is also filled with marvelous visual elements and storylines, but, in my view, a tad too many. Characters and events appear and then disappear, which may make for good symbolism, but a rather disjointed sort of story. While the girl gains strength and exhibits pluck, a great many more things happen to her than she makes happen.

Still, the film, even if disjointed, is engaging and fun. Once again, Hayao Miyazaki (same director as Princess Mononoke) provides a fascinating movie that explores the limits of what animation can tell. The pace is rather slower then Mononoke.

It is highly probable that my negative feelings stem from the fact that I watched the dubbed version, rather than the original, which is rumored to be much better.


Festen, or The Celebration, is a powerful avant-garde film about a family gathering that results in the revelation of a dark secret. An excellent film, maybe not for the squeamish.

Plot: Family and friends are gathering for a traditional Swedish celebration of Helge's (Henning Moritzen) 60th birthday, many years after his daughter committed suicide. But one of Helge's sons, Christian (Ulrich Thomsen), opens the party celebrations by toasting his father for raping him and his dead sister when they were children.

Almost no one believes him, and the celebrations continue, but things are going to come to a head by the time the party's over.

The film is done in so-called "Dogme" style, which precludes any specific props other than found props, special effects, or added music or sounds, other than those of the actors or occurring at the scene. All shots are done with a hand-held camera, which can be dizzying and takes some getting used to. In truth, unlike in some other pretentious films, the hand held camera works well here, adding to the tense and charged atmosphere of the script, where you're never sure what's going to happen next.

But the power of this film is in the script, the characters, and the actors, all of which are superb, beyond any expectations. All the characters have good and bad sides, albeit some quite more than others, and the multiple relationships between every character are explored several layers deep.

This movie contains exactly what it needs and no more. While I was a little confused by one contrived aspect of the plot (the hiding and discovery of the suicide note), the result is simply a stunning movie that covers a few very difficult subjects.


Show Me Love, also known by its more colorful title F***ing Åmål, is a bittersweet and honest look at the universal story of teenage angst, conformism, and loneliness.

Plot: Agnes (Rebecka Liljeberg) has live in Åmål for three years now and essentially still has no friends, partially due to the persistent rumor that she's a lesbian. Erin (Alexandra Dahlström), on the other hand, is popular at school. As usual, popular seems to imply being mean to anyone who isn't. Erin kisses Agnes on a dare, and realizes that the experience wasn't that bad. She immediately takes up a heterosexual relationship as cover, but must deal with her confused feelings.

There's nothing more to this story than any other story about teenagers, except for the sheer honesty about the loneliness and cruelty of modern children. It's a universal story, one that just about anyone of any age can relate to. Actually, it's not incredibly deep, but what it tells it tells well.

This was an enjoyable, pleasant, and simple sweet movie.


Blackboards (Takhté siah) is a fascinating piece on culture, hopelessness, and futility along the Iran-Iraq border told in a visually stark style

Plot: Two poor teachers desperate for students walk the border between Iran and Iraq, but all they find are equally desperate children smuggling through dangerous territory to earn their daily bread, and elderly people trying to find their way back to their homeland to die, having left it to escape chemical attacks. No one, it appears, has any time for education.

This is a stark allegorical film about despair and futility. But, even as the players walk where they have to walk to stay alive, and talk what they have to talk in accordance with their traditional values, life remains, in flashes of humor, personality, smiles, and the occasional game of chance.

In truth, each day is a game of chance for them. The children smuggle back and forth across the border under gunfire, sometimes with tragic results. Meanwhile, a group of elders try to find their way back to their village which was burned out by chemical weapons, trying to survive chronic medical problems and near starvation.

It's pretty bleak, but it's wonderfully told, beginning and ending in the middle of the narrative, which only enhances the feel that no one has any solutions to offer. A very good film.


Walk on Water is an interesting character study movie, well acted, written, and directed. It dabbles in politics and morality, trying to navigate between the two.

Plot: A successful Mossad assassin, Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi), recently lost his wife. His new assignment is to take out a lost and now aging Nazi war criminal, for which he has to befriend his target's adult grandchildren. He hates Arabs - news reports of Arab terrorism are heard on the radio with frequency - but his myopic view of the world gets challenged.

Coming before Steven Spielberg's Munich, about which I hear was fairly unbalanced, I found this movie to be fairly balanced and fair. Of course, balanced means that either side of the political spectrum isn't going to be happy with some of the story. And the ending reveals the director's ultimate bias. Nevertheless, aside from the opening sequence which is told without background and therefore an unfair picture, the rest of the story presents Eyal's profession as both necessary and dehumanizing.

A number of memorable scenes and sequences elevate the movie. I haven't found many Israeli movies that I really enjoyed, so I am happy to see Israeli cinema headed in the right direction.

Worth viewing, even if you disagree with the ultimate message.


Before the Rain (Pred dozhdot) is an excellent movie, playing with time and space to tell the cyclical hopelessness of conflict.

Plot: The movie is divided into three parts. In part 1, a monk (Gregoire Collin) in Macedonia who has taken a vow of silence finds himself harboring a young Albanian girl being chased by Christians who claim she is a murderer. Part 2 appears to follow from part 1, and is about a pregnant photo-editor in London (Katrin Kartlidge) who sets in motion a divorce with her husband right before a tragic event occurs. Part 3 appears to follow part 2 and is set back in Macedonia, where the photo-editor's lover, a photo-journalist (Rade Serbedzija), returns to his native village and tries to ignore the tensions between the Christians and Albanians, only to arrive before a precipitous event. Part 3 then appears to lead back into Part 1.

The essential allegory about the cyclical nature of conflict is beautifully done. Everything else about the movie is also superb, and it straddles the line between a straight movie that you can just watch and an art movie with layers of meaning and symbolism. It's not an action packed movie, but neither is it ponderous and bloated with self-importance.

This is a real gem, and worth seeking out.

New Zealand

Whale Rider is a modern fairy-tale about the Maori people, about love, rejection, and magic, beautifully filmed and acted, if a trifle trite.

Plot: The Maori people have a tradition of a "Whale Rider" direct male descendant from the founder of the tribe. But the current tribe leader (Rawiri Paratene) has only a granddaughter, her twin brother and mother having died in childbirth. The granddaughter, Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), wants nothing more than to be loved by her grandfather who rejects her as a disappointment and begins a search for a new, male, leader. Meanwhile, Pai is convinced that she will be the new Whale Rider, and, apparently, so are the whales.

It's a sweet story about love and rejection, overcoming bias and confronting change. It's a magical story as well, but they story suffers, just a bit, in that regard, as the ending is pretty much certain throughout the film, and apparently everyone knows this except the grandfather.

Overall, it's well acted with moving performances and lovely cinematography.

South Korea

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring (Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom) is a mythic story, pure and simple. While I wasn't thrilled with some of the camera-work, it's a very simple allegory and generally beautiful work.

Plot: An old monk (Yeong-su Oh) lives on a floating platform on a river in the middle of seemingly nowhere. He raises a young boy in the ways of Buddha. As the boy grows into a man, he follows temptation and strays from the path. After facing up to his acts and suffering the consequences, he eventually returns to the now empty platform to purify himself and take the old man's place.

I wasn't too thrilled with the morals implied by the film, but they're not my morals, after all, so not for me to judge. The tale is very simple, and the entire cast is around 10 people. This story, covering one of each season, but over a period of many years, is a story of rebirth, reincarnation, and revelation.

While most of the shots are beautiful, a few of the shots, especially early in the film, were framed a little strangely. For that reason, I walked away from the movie a bit unhappy. However, with time, the work has grown on me, and I find myself wanting to see it again.

It's a very calm movie, without much dialog and with only a few sudden bursts of activity. A treat for a contemplative evening.


A Little Something About Being Israeli

A co-worker just asked me what I would do if a missile hit my house and crashed through the roof. "You still have your American citizenship, right?" he asked.

Yes, I do, but ... so what?

My daughter Ariella, aged 18 is in Sderot right now, a town that's getting hit with missiles daily. She is volunteering to do childcare, cleaning, and rebuilding. She's been there a few days already, and this is not her first time, either. During the last war with Lebanon, she headed straight up to Nahariah and Haifa to do the same for the kids in the bomb shelters.

She's like a tornado chaser, except she chases bombs. She doesn't stand on the roof defiantly with her fist in the air. She just goes where she is needed and does what she needs to do. She'll be going into the army in July, where she intends her service to be training soldiers from disadvantaged homes.

My son Eitan, aged 17, is going to help her today for a few days.

In our army, the first one over the hill is not the soldiers, it's the commanders.

And let's not forget the Virginia Tech shooting, where everyone ran for cover except one Israeli professor, Liviu Librescu, who barred the door with his body and died while his students escaped to safety.

I'm sure there are plenty of Americans like him, and plenty of people in every country around the world like them.

But it's a little something about what it means to be Israeli.

No, I won't be going back to America if a missile falls through my roof.


Monday, May 28, 2007

I Missed the Star Wars Meme

The 30th anniversary of Star Wars passed. If you want a list of Star Wars related games, check out these Geek Lists on BGG: List 1, List 2. Or search on BGG for terms like "Hoth" or "Ewok".

The Play Ethic points to another great lady, Gwen Gordon, making a career out of bringing play back into the world.

The Guardian Unlimited praises Monopoly.

Scientific American is covering the game of Go in it's June issue.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette talks about board games and Dungeons and Dragons, but I'm unable to access the site without a subscription.

An Israeli family plays Taki, a story that gets enmeshed with the TV show The Sopranos. (Taki is like Uno, by the way)


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Board and Card Game Countdown: From 100 to 0

102 game titles, from 100 down to 0:

100: Havoc: the Hundred Years War
A contemporary card game with poker mechanics, and rather good. Although the number 100 here refers to the length or name of the war, rather than the year that it took place, a great many of the following entries refer to specific years, which is a sad commentary on human affairs.

99: Ninety-nine
A trick-taking card game. Many card games are named after a single number, and usually because it's the number of points you need to win.

98: Aussie-ASL '98 Pack
Many game revisions or expansions are named also after their release date.

97: Ninety-seven
This is one of those games from the 1970s I imagine would have graced the pages of Playboy magazine (I only read those for the game articles, by the way). Bright-orange chips, laminated boards, luck, minimal strategy, and some dice.

96: 96 Kabal
Some sort of uninspiring card game.

95: Monopoly - Harley Davidson 95th Anniversary
You can find XXth editions for just about any reason in a Monopoly variant.

94: Beyond Planet V94
This looks like one of many cheap '80s sci-fi games.

93: 93 Game Studios (publisher)
One of the numbers for which I couldn't find a matching game. I tried to include only games with XX in the title, and not 19XX or 18XX or similar. 93 Studios is an RPG publisher.

92: Hockey 92
Not sure why this is called 92, but I'm assuming after some sort of championship played that year.

91: Ultraquiz 91
A Japanese trivia game focused on American culture

90: The 90's Game
There are many games based on decades, most of them either trivia games or versions of standard games.

89: Mauerfall 89
Other current events, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, also contribute names to game titles.

88: 88
One of many war games in the list, though 88 is the name of the company or something, not the year.

87: Cold War Battles: Budapest '56 & Angola '87
Another war game.

86: WM Superspiel Mexico 86
Another sports game commemorating a sporting event. World Cup 86 in Mexico.

85: Murder High School Reunion: Class of 85
This is a murder mystery game, consisting of instructions, but no other components. It's meant to be acted out. Class of 85 is a theme for role-playing during the event.

84: Nineteen Eighty-Four
I couldn't find another 84 game, and I could hardly pass over this classic number, so I cheated a bit.

83: 83
A variant of the card game Pedro.

82: Beirut '82
One of too many war games based on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

81: 81
Color Sudoku.

80: Around the World in 80 Days
Rather than "XXX the '80s edition" I chose a game based on a famous book.

79: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers
Couldn't find any 79 games, so here is a game with 79 tiles, a defining element of its components.

78: Gundam Axis UC0078
Another sci-fi game, based on some universe.

77: 77
Some kind of German card game.

76: Spirit of '76, The
An American revolutionary war game.

75: Indy 500 75th Running Race Game
A card game, I have no idea where the name comes from, but didn't want to add another Monopoly game if I could avoid it.

74: Pit
Another number with no entries, so here's a game with 74 cards.

73: Suez 73
Another game on the Israel-Arab conflict.

72: Par "72" Golf
The number 72 probably has something to do with Golf.

71: 71 Games Multi-Pack
Not a game but a bulk pack allegedly containing 71 games.

70: 70's Game, The
Trippy, man.

69: Deadly 69's
A poker variant.

68: Mai '68 Le jeu
We're now in the thick of the Vietnam era. This game is about the 1968 riots in France.

67: Middle East Battles: El Arish '67
A pull-out game on the Six Day war.

66: Route 66
One of several games about the famous highway of dreams in the U.S.

65: Travspelet med V65
A Swedish auction betting horse racing game.

64: 64 Milestones. The Game of Life
Not sued by Hasbro for the name, this looks like a game designed by someone who thought they had a cool idea.

63: Sixty-three
Just like 83, a variant of Pedro.

62: Ottocento
Can't find a game for this number, so here's a game with 62 cards.

61: Druid (Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D.)
Briton vs Rome.

60: 60 Minutes to Save the Earth
No "Gone in 60 Seconds" game, as of yet.

59: 59 Seconds
A fast paced card game.

58: 58 Holes
Otherwise known as Hounds and Jackals, this game is 4000 years old or so. Something like Snakes and Ladders.

57: Raceway 57
A pretty game by the fancy game publisher, Front-Porch Classics.

56: Middle East Battles: Suez '56
Another Israeli-Arab conflict game.

55: 55
Some sort of dice strategy game, also an expansion for an earlier game.

54: Car 54, Where Are You?
From the TV show of the same name.

53: 53
A dice based drinking game.

52: Alesia 52 B.C., the Jurassian Hypothesis
Julius Caesar vs Vercingetorix.

51: Silent Death Annex: Hangar 51
An expansion for some game called Silent Death.

50: Contra 50
I passed up many 50th anniversary games to bring you this apparently mediocre abstract game.

49: The 49ers
That would be the 1849ers, i.e. the Gold Rush.

48: Genesis 48: The First Arab-Israeli War

47: AK47 Republic
Roleplaying and war gaming.

46: Luftwaffe 46
Now entering WWII games, this one is from an alternate reality.

45: Budapest '45
A WWII battle.

44: Memoir '44
A recent highly-regarded tactical war game system with several WWII scenarios.

43: AT-43
Skipping several WWII games, here's a sci-fi tactical war game.

42: 42
A dominoes game.

41: Blitzkrieg '41
So many XXX '41 games to choose from.

40: Life Begins at 40
One of many games aimed at girl's night out.

39: Poland '39: The Nightmare Begins
Exiting WWII territory.

38: 38th Parallel
About the Korean War.

37: Pompeii - The Last 37 Minutes
Pretty pieces, not much of a game in my opinion.

36: 36 Fits
A tile race game of some sort.

35: Sesame Street 35th Anniversary Game
Always an anniversary on the 5's and 10's.

34: T-34
An armored combat war game.

33: Thirty-Three
Silly looking colorful game from the '80s.

32: Leuthen (VaeVictis n°32)
December 5, 1757, battle at Leuthen, Silesia.

31: Showdown/31
An old west card game from the early '80s.

30: Za! - 30 minutes or free
There are also a number of games on the Thirty Years War, or games where you have 30 seconds to complete some task.

29: B-29 Superfortress
A solo-game of flying bombers and bombing Japan.

28: Harvest 28 - The Ultimate Bowhunting Board Game
Designed by bow hunters for bow hunters.

27: The First Battle of Alamein - July 1st to 27th 1942
Oh look, another WWII game.

26: Twenty-Six
A dice game from the 1920's.

25: Twenty Fives
Something akin to Pachisi.

24: 24 DVD Board Game
DVD games; fear them.

23: C-23
A Magic: the Gathering clone.

22: Catch 22
A modern chaotic-looking strategy game.

21: 21E
A cooperative code breaking game. (You were expecting Blackjack, perhaps?)

20: 20 Questions
You can play for free, or buy this version.

19: 19th Green
18 hole golf always turns into 19 holes.

18: Ninja Golf: 18 Holes of Death!
Unless you're playing with ninjas. There are also a few 18 wheeler trucking games.

17: 17!
Dice and pieces, capture your opponent's pieces.

16: 16!
No relation to 17!. Build a square from 16 shapes with different numbers of dots.

15: Schnelle 15
Align 15 counters ascending from 1 to 15. Quickest player wins.

14: Silo 14
"Can your highly trained group of commandos stop terrorists from launching the missiles that will start a nuclear confrontation?"

13: Lucky 13
A kid's card game, from the looks of it.

12: Suits by Twelve
A trick-taking card game.

11: Endeavor Eleven
Lots of dice. Lots and lots of dice.

10: 10
A bluffing bidding card game. There is also a series of games called 10 Days in Africa, and other places.

9: Nine Months and Counting
A pregnancy board game. Not nine-men's morris.

8: Crazy Eights
A classic card game, now supplanted by Uno.

7: 7 Ages
A long civilization type game.

6: Six
An abstract strategy game of laying hexagonal tiles.

5: Battle of Five Armies, The
One of several games based on Tolkein.

4: Connect Four
"Where? I don't see ..." "Here, diagonally!"

3: Three Player Chess
It's very hard to make a three player abstract game work, because two players will always team up to make sure the third doesn't win.

2: Bridge for Two
Also known as Honeymoon Bridge, for those heady days of yore when all couples played bridge, and sometimes couldn't find opponents.

1: One Card Game
A match game of fractions, trying to add up to 1.

1/2: Half board chess
Chess on half a board, where setup is initially hidden.

0: Zero
A card game based on a popular traditional game.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekend Gaming

Tal had her friend Ruti over for shabbat; Tal and Ruti are probably The Menorah Games' biggest fans. So naturally, they played the game about a dozen times, with me playing a few times. I think Tal won most of them.

Tal is still bemoaning the new theme, and tried to convince Ruti to bemoan it as well, but Ruti seemed to think it was cute.

I also taught my non-gaming friends how to play Settlers of Catan, now that they have a child almost old enough to play something well (6 years old). Unfortunately, I really lack games for kids in my house. I have to correct that if I'm ever going to do more game demos for parents and such.

They really liked Settlers, and I spent some time telling them how to make the games they play now better, too, which seemed to impress them. Maybe I'll turn it into a lecture series or something.

I played Set with Tal and Ruti and won without much difficulty. Challenge me, I dare you.

A video interview about the Entertaible. It's beginning to suffer now from being announced too early. I want to try the damn thing out already.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Weekend Coming

It's entirely pleasing to be know as "the game guy". Although, not as much fun as finally being able to tell people that I blog and design games for a living.

I now get a few calls a week from friends, relatives, or strangers about games, either about what games would be good for a gift, a daughter needs help creating a game for her class project, or would I be able to help with the game design of this new video game.

Also, whenever there are games for sale in the country, someone sends me a link. I just picked up a copy of Blokus for $10 (missing one piece, but I'm hoping to get a replacement from the company). I picked up three sealed copies of the Lord of the Rings expansions (2 Saurons and 1 Friend and Foes) for $3 each. They're for sale or trade.

Nobody came to my garage sale :-( . I think I'll have to put the stuff up on eBay.

Game News

It's nice to see articles about board gaming families in the mainstream press, but this one from Hometown Annapolis kind of depressed me. The family profiled could desperately use some newer and better board games, before their children grown up and get tired of playing Life.

A Virginia attempt to set the underwater Monopoly playing record.

Rochester's game club is putting out a regular board gaming magazine, which looks a lot like the recently demised one from Long Island, Indepth.

Mercury News mentions Kublacon and Garret's Games and Geekiness.


The Paradox of Faithful Service to God

One of the other major subjects that came up over Shavuot was the ideal nature of service to God.

A standard Jewish tenet asserts that someone commanded to perform a service receives a higher reward than someone who voluntarily performs the same service. For example, men are commanded to eat in a sukkah on the holiday of Sukkot, while women are not. A man receives a "higher reward" (whatever that means) for doing so than a woman does.

A very cursory look at this tenet might leave you confused: after all, one is doing it because he has to, while the other doesn't have to but does it anyway. Surely the latter should get a higher reward.

Looking a little deeper, however, reveals that the tenet makes some sense. It is human nature to resist things that you are commanded to do. Not only has the joy been taken out of it, but your will has been taken out of it. Whereas, a person who is moved to do what they want to do anyway, when they want to do it, and with the ability to not do it when they want - sure, it's a nice thing, but it's not the same effort.

Furthermore, if a task requires only one person to do, and one person has been appointed to do it, a second person is really superfluous. It's great that they want to do it, but not strictly necessary.

Hold this thought.

Angels in Jewish thought have no free will (no Enoch and the rebellious angels, sorry). [My wife would like to add that there are some early minority exceptional traditions regarding this.] In contrast, man has free will. The Torah was given to man, because the service of the angels is not Torah; without the ability to choose to fulfill the commandments, there can be no reward for doing so.

Free will is given to allow you to choose the right from the wrong. But life is a series of parts that don't fit together exactly. Some times you will have to choose one path over another, or even one moral choice over another, both seemingly right. If the path is not obvious, can God justify reward and punishment for man choosing incorrectly from a state of confusion, when that's the natural state of man?

There may be absolute rights and wrongs, but there are many right paths to fulfilling the Torah. If one person especially devotes himself to charity, while another to study, they are both doing the right thing (so long as they both do some of each).

So we see that there is room for latitude for choice and for decisions. The guideline's for your choices come down to the fact that you should always hold in your mind both the fear of God (some say awe of God) and the love of God as your determining factors.

There is, however, a stream of Jewish thought that argues that this is only a lower form of service.

In their argument, real service to God is doing so simply because you were commanded to do so. In other words, fear of God is a low service, love of God is a higher service, but no feeling whatsoever is the highest service.

This type of person walks around as follows: "I'm eating this fruit because God commanded me to have strength. I'm paying money for this item because God commanded me to follow the laws of the land. I'm going to the bathroom because God commanded me to keep my body healthy."

According to this philosophy, there is no thought of reward or punishment for doing or not doing these things, only that one was commanded.

The problem with this attitude is that there are two types of things that do exactly what they are commanded, with no thought of reward or punishment: robots and angels. Neither of which I aspire to be, nor do I think this is a good aspiration for any human.

But there is, indeed, a paradox here.

If one does things for reward and punishment, it's not exactly altruistic, it's self-serving. Surely one cannot be entirely pure and holy for that type of service. On the other hand, if one does something as if there is no reward and punishment, like a robot, then it's not really acting out of free will anymore. Well, they're freely giving up their free will, yes, but still.

I think the answer lies in how I treat my children.

I love my children, and when I do things for them out of love, it is not in the expectation that I will receive anything in return. And even if there are absolutely worse and better ways to parent, there is no single right way.

I am also in awe of the responsibility of a life that I hold in my hands, and some of my choices are guided by the fear of hurting another human being for life. I both accept the responsibility that I have for them - I am commanded to continue parenting them - and I freely do it.

A parallel example could be the way we love and respect our elderly parents.

That, it seems to me, is the correct attitude toward serving God. Not unfeeling, and not for the sake of reward.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beautiful Playing Cards

I don't know what I was expecting when I entered this into Google, but not this:

This particular set is by Ian Roth Designs. According to his site, human hands represent the value of each suit card using different digit combinations.

Another fabulous modern set of playing cards is from The Playing Card Project, by 55 different Minnesota artists.

Click here to see all the cards.

More links to wonderful decks of cards can be seen on The World of Playing Cards and Card Art.

The most expensive deck of cards currently produced is probably the stainless steel zebra-backed cards I wrote about a ways back (you can get Sudoku toilet paper on the same site).

And the highest price ever paid for a deck of cards was $143,352.00 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the earliest known complete set of hand-painted cards.

Update: And right on schedule, Snopes publishes a series of urban legends related to playing cards.


Do You Get Credit for Enabling Good Deeds?

Does one get credit for enabling another to do a good deed? If so, how much?

The question as it was presented to me was as follows: who is given more "credit"? The one who gives charity, or the one who asks for charity, thereby providing an opportunity for the giver to give?

According to basic Jewish philosophy, charity is a good deed. It's one of those natural enough concepts that doesn't really require Jewish law to explain; it's self-evident and natural moral sense.

But according to a popular socialist Jewish philosophy, money is distributed unevenly precisely for charity to be given. You may think you work hard and earn the money, but God allots how much you're going to earn at the beginning of the year.

This doesn't mean that you can sit at home and do nothing, waiting for the cash to roll it. It's more like a retroactive prophesy; God knows how much you're going to work in the next year, and what calamities and windfalls will befall you. Therefore, do your best, have faith, and let God take care of the rest. This includes the amount of charity that you're going to give.

Under this philosophy, you are simply the caretaker of money that isn't really yours. It "belongs" to the poor person, and was given to you simply so that you can give it to them. Which kind of short-changes, in my opinion, the goodness of charity.

But enough about charity; what matters to me is the idea that the poor person enables the giver to give. Forget the fact that he is the recipient and beneficiary of this giving. What, exactly, is the measure of worth of this enabler's deed? More than the doer? Less than the doer?

My response to this was that the next time my father asked one of his children to get him a chair, I'll turn to my brother and enable him with the opportunity to do the good deed. Ha ha. Of course, in this situation, everyone knows that I'm just being lazy and forgoing to do the good deed myself.

But what if I've done this good deed for ten years straight, and my brother never did it once? Isn't there actually something to be said about allowing my brother to do it, thereby fostering a relationship between son and father that I've already established?

And how about when you teach your children to be good, or when you reform a criminal? Don't all of the good deeds they do as a result of your training somehow reflect back on you? In this case, of course, you are increasing the number of good deeds being done, as opposed to forgoing one yourself and allowing someone else to do it, as in the brother paradigm.

Frankly I find the whole good deed calculus to be rather distasteful. Once you are aware of doing something as a good deed, and not simply through the motivation of the Other, you are then doing the deed in order to receive the "reward". That's when the anti-altruists descend on you, claiming that all doers of good deeds really do it for the reward, and not because that are actually good people.

What if you knew that something you knew to be a good deed - such as charity - would ultimately be punished by God, instead of rewarded? Would you still do it? If you can't answer yes, then what exactly is your morality?

There's a classic Hassidic story about a Rabbi who sends his pupil to find an etrog for him and tells the student to pay any price. The student finds only one vendor, who demands all the heavenly reward that the Rabbi will get for using the etrog. When the student returns and relays the cost, the Rabbi thanks the student and says that all of his life he has been worried that he does the commandments for the sake of reward, and for the first time he knows for sure that he will not be doing so.

One subverts the point of this story by thinking that the Rabbi surely will get some reward for his devotion nonetheless; after all, heavenly reward is not a zero-sum game.


My Dog is Not a Dog

My dog is a deer.

We finally get to the grass and she begins to lope. After three bounds she leaps. I wracked my brains trying to figure out why she would do that. It's not stretching. It's not instinct. The only reason I can think of is that it's fun.

My dog is a cat.

She stretches in the sun, yawning. Then she climbs around me on the couch and curls up next to my leg. I swear I can hear her purring.

My dog is a lizard.

When she thinks she's done something wrong, down she falls, two front legs crawling, belly to the ground, slithering forward. Trying to camouflage herself.

My dog is a mouse.

If a cat turns its back, my dog chases it. If a cat turns and faces her, even if it's just a kitten, she runs away, barking. It's like the children's game: red light green light, where the children run forward only when the caller's back is turned.

My dog is a wolf.

She circles, she pants. She sniffs, she crouches. She tests, she eyes guardedly. She stalks, she edges. She leaps, she clutches. She throttles, she dismembers. And her prey, a discarded tissue, lies dead at her feet, never to move again.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Next T-shirt

Update: You can buy this at my cafepress store.

Shavuot was only over at 8:30 or so, so no game group this week.

But I had a few interesting discussions that I will try to share with you over the next week.

Must admit: Stonehenge looks like a cool idea. Five games in one by five different designers. I've always been in favor of game systems.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Belated Birthday Gifts

Rachel's birthday gift to me, a copy of Chris Crawford on Game Design, finally arrived. Looks big. Hopefully it's not already out of date.

I just finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm not sure what to make of it, yet. While highly stylized like his other books, I was less convinced that he actually had something important to say here. But then every once in a while he wrote a few beautiful passages. Maybe I'll give it a full review.

I, or rather, I on behalf of my game group, just ordered a few games, including Hellas, Industria, Atlantic Star, Lost Valley, and Mississippi Queen. Why these? The right part of the curve between price and reputation, along with reviews that indicate that there is at least a possibility that the games will be the type we enjoy.

I tentatively will be getting Robo Rally later in the year from someone, too, which I think will go over well with everyone in the group except for Nadine (too random and too complicated).

And I still have a dozen or so games and books waiting for me in New Jersey and New York, if I can every get there to pick them up.


Tonight is Shavuot, one of the six major holidays in Judaism. Each holiday is paired up with another:

- Shmini Atzeret comes immediately after Sukkot
- Yom Kippur comes 9 days after Rosh Hashana
- Shavuot comes 43 days after Pesach (Passover)

Shavuot is the feast of weeks. We count 7 full weeks, 49 days, from after the first day of Passover, and at the end, we have Shavuot. The holiday is associated with the giving of the Torah of Mount Sinai. In ancient times, it marked a particular harvest period.

Various customs include staying up all night learning, reading the Book of Ruth, eating dairy foods, and adorning the house and synagogue with flowers.

It also means I'll be off-line again from tonight until Wed evening.

Game News

Daniel Levin, a first grader from the Kiryat Motzkin area of Haifa, scored 2nd place in the World Children’s Chess Championship in Greece last week.

Niall Ferguson uses games to study alternative history scenarios in this Wired piece.

Just like in the Australian Monopoly bid, the UK Monopoly bid for the new edition is also rotten with cheating. Monopoly fans continue to show the higher importance of winning over playing, I see.

American Chronicle article promotes board and card games over video games.

Elementeo, a new combat card game about chemistry, is looking for 100k of funding with the goal of making a million on its products. It's CEO is a thirteen year old. Watch his explanation in this clip. (source)

Love Me

If you like my blogging, consider clicking the donation button on the sidebar of my page. You can think of your donation as a subscription, if you like.

To make things interesting, I'll send any one item of your choice from my garage sale for free (assuming no one else has bought it by then) to whomever sends me the highest donation by May 31. If you've already donated in the past, you're already automatically included in this.


P.S. Here's one for the Darwin Awards: a guy tries to kill his girlfriend by parking his car with her inside in the path of a moving train and then jumping out of the car. The train hits the car which lands on top of him and kills him. The girl is seriously injured, but will recover.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Games From Mars

With the exception of the Icehouse games, which are actually played by real Martians, these are games that deal with our sister planet.

And note that Men Are From Mars/Women Are From Venus, and associated games, don't count!
Age of Steam Expansion - Mars: Global Surveyor
Train game on Mars, delivering Martians.
Battle Fleet Mars
A sci-fi war game, batting for extra-terrestrial resources.
Biker Mice From Mars: Rock... 'N Ride! Card Game
Apparently, a simple set collection game. Has an expansion.
Butt-Ugly Martians - The Race to Rescue Dog
A roll-and-move game based on a TV series.
Destination Mars
A race to Mars for two players. Based on the TV program on the Discovery Channel
Doom: the Boardgame
Based on the popular video game series, you cooperatively play against one player who plays the hordes of nasties. Also has expansions.
Otherwise known as Martian Chess, a variation of Chess from the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel The Chessmen of Mars.
John Carter: Warlord of Mars
Based on the high sci-fi romance novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
M&M/Mars Attacks!
An insert from Shred Magazine, requires two different colors of M&Ms to play, which are eaten as they are killed.
Mars 2020 Board Game
A Mars trivia game.
Mars Bingo
From a lesson plan about the Mars exploration rover.
Martian Backgammon, Martian Chess, Martian Coasters, Martian Mud Wrestling, Invasion of Mars
These games are fanciful abstract games played with Icehouse pieces and most are designed by Looney Labs.
Mission: Red Planet
An area control game with role selection. Rated highly on BGG.
My Favorite Martian
A 1963 board game based on the television show of the same name.
Planet Mars - The First Settlement
This game is, as of yet, unpublished. It appears to be an action-point trading game, which was well received at the 2006 Hippodice Spieleautorenwettbewerb.
Sky Galleons of Mars
The tactical ship combat game for the "Space: 1889" role-playing system. Related games: Cloudships & Gunboats, Temple of the Beastmen
The Book of Mars: A Combat System
A war game combat system.
A Space Colony: Expedition to Mars
An educational game dealing with the problems of setting up a colony on Mars.
Mars Space Playing Cards
Round cards. Kind of cool, really.

P.S. While doing research for this, I ran across this Google Ad:


The following is a paid review via

Site reviewed:

Preamble on Gambling

I have no more moral objection to gambling than I have to drinking alcohol or firearms. These things are addictive and dangerous and can kill you. But so can driving, surgery, and a host of other things.

The problem is not the activity, per se, but its casual use, its use by the addicted, or by those with impaired judgment. It should be restricted to adults, and the people responsible for serving these things should also take responsibility for ensuring, as much as reasonably possible, that their customers come to no harm.

In my mind, that means a capped limit on how much people can spend on gambling, as well as license to do so, and counseling for addicts.


That said, is NOT an online gambling site. It contains hundreds of strategy articles about gambling games, such as poker, backgammon, reviews of online casinos, rules, news, interviews, odds calculators, and so on, and also hosts free-to-play online games.

While marketed toward money gamblers, the site is actually just as useful to people who enjoy playing for free or for poker chips, or with friends.

The standard for poker and gambling sites appears to be the "green felt" background look, and this one doesn't disappoint. Aside from a hiccup or two where the navigation menus suddenly change, the site is cleanly organized and easily navigable.


The site contains rules for several dozen games and numerous variations thereof, including backgammon, baccarat, several types of poker, and so on. Many of these rules are accompanied by animated or video examples and illustrations.

If you want to learn these games, this is an excellent resource to do so.


OC reviews online gambling sites, for those who want to actually play for money. Their reviews are thorough, beginning at how the software works, through to what the experience of getting paid is like. They spend time at several different games on each site, and really give the sites a workout.

While they claim that their reviews are independent, and they do list both positive and negative experiences in their reviews, they neglect to note if they made any money from the given reviews, or if they make money from people clicking through them to the sites.

Also, they claim to have dropped listings of sites that were suspect - in order to protect their visitors - but I would rather have read the poor reviews so as to know which sites to be wary of.


OC offers a complete beginner's guide to online gambling, as well as many, many articles for both beginner and advanced player.

The best part of the site for non-gambling gamers like me (and for gamblers, too) are the strategy articles and features. Not only do they do a thorough job of analyzing the math of the games, as well as standard variations thereof, but they also provide charts, calculating tools, and so on, which give you the odds and best play from any particular position.

Very nice.

They also have articles comparing casino types, about gambling games in general, about the World Series of Poker, and so on.

Similarly, they update once a day with an article about something related to poker or gambling news. This is probably not an exhaustive news survey, but one top story of the day.


OC offers over 80 free Shockwave games to play online. These didn't work for me in Firefox, but I got them going in IE (with the occasional crash).

You can while away time playing these games for fun, use the time to hone your game strategies, or, of course, click through to a casino to play for real.


OC doesn't require you to register or provide any private information, which is nice. Every part of the site appears to be free. There are no ads on the site of any sort, so one can only assume that they make their money from affiliate rewards.

One nice little addition is a small note about charity, in which they list how much of their profits they have give to which charities; so far, $5000 to the Red Cross.


If you're simply a gamer, and you like playing gambling and poker games, the strategy articles and features are worth a looksee.

If you're curious about online gambling, the site provides a nice introduction thereto.

If you like flashy and simple online games, they have a nice selection, although I would guess that you could find equivalents elsewhere.

And if you want to compare online casinos, their extensive list of reviews appears to be a good start, although with the caveat that they also appear to make money from the clickthroughs, so may not be entirely disinterested.


Garage Sale: Games, Book, CDs, VHS, etc...

Before I advertise this locally, if anyone is interested in the following items, please email.

Buy 4, get one free. $1 = 4 NIS. All prices are negotiable.

Games/Game Books (make a sale or trade offer):
Adventure Cards - Detectives
Beyond Balderdash
Sid Sackson - Card Games Around the World
China Moon
Empire Builder
Letter Hold'em
Lift Off
Lost Cities
Maharaja: Palace Building in India
Queries and Theories

Cassettes (10 NIS):
Sixpence None the Richer
Mother Tongue - Camille West
Pink Floyd - Relics
Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire
Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever
Tom Petty - Wildflowers
The Verve - Urban Hymns
David Wilcox - The Nightshift Watchman

Books on Tape (20 NIS - 2 cassettes):
Talking Classics - Moby Dick
Talking Classics - The Scarlet Pimpernel
Talking Classics - Treasure Island

VHS (15 NIS):
Cosmos: Complete Series and book boxed set (150 NIS)
Blade Runner Director's Cut
Young Frankenstein
Running on Empty
Mission: Impossible
Wizard of Oz: 50th Anniversary
Quick Change
The Big Chill
The Last Days of Disco
Pump Up the Volume
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Dead Poet's Society
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Princess Mononoke
The Manhattan Project

DVD (20 NIS):
Logan's Run
Waking Life

CD (15 NIS):
AMP Hardcore: Heavy Metal
REM - Monster
Laura Simms - Making Peace: Heart Uprising
October Project
Eva Cassidy - Songbird
Jonatha Brooke & The Story - Plumb
Crash Test Dummies - God Shuffled His Feet
Linda Thompson - Fashionably Late
Carrie Newcomer - My Father's Only Son
Jewel - Spirit
Jewel - Pieces of You
Frente - Marvin the Album
Paula Cole - Harbringer
Hootie and the Blowfish - Cracked Rear View
Sara Hickman - Misfits
Mary Chapin Carpenter - Shooting Straight in the Dark
Linda Thompson - Dreams Fly Away
Richard Berman - Love, Work and Play
Barenaked Ladies - Gordon
Lucy Kaplansky - Ten Year Night
Dee Cartensen - Regarding the Soul
Joan Osborne - Relish

CD-ROM Software:
Myst (25 NIS)
Riven (35 NIS)
Crayola: Make a Masterpiece (20 NIS)


Science Fiction / Fantasy (15 NIS):
Lucy Montgomery - Among the Shadows (ghost stories)
Jill Ker Conway - The Road from Coorain
Gene Wolfe - The Shadow of the Torturer
Gene Wolfe - Castleview
John Barnes - Mother of Storms
Laurence Yep - Sweetwater
Fritz Leiber - Ill Met in Lankhmar
Bruce Sterling - Schismatrix Plus
Fred Saberhagen - A Matter of Taste
Robert Asprin - Phule's Company
Stephen Donalson - White Gold Wielder
Vido Polikarpus & Tappan King - Down Town
Robert Silverberg - Sorcerers of Majipoor
Richard Cowper - The Road to Corlay
Michael Moorcock - The Revenge of the Rose
Vernor Vinge - A Deepness in the Sky
Black Thorn, White Rose (Ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Tad Williams - Otherland
Bart Kosko - Nanotime
Jack Vance - Lyonesse
Midori Snyder - Sadar's Keep
Joanna Russ - The Adventures of Alyx
Richard Monaco - Parsival, or a Knight's Tale
Terry Pratchett - The Colour of Magic
Terry Pratchett - The Light Fantastic
Terry Pratchett - Equal Rites
Mervyn Peake - Titus Groan
Mervyn Peake - Gormenghast
Mervyn Peake - Titus Alone
John Brunner - The Sheep Look Up
C. S. Lewis - Voyage of the Dawntreader (Narnia #5)

Jewish / Israeli (20 NIS):
Rabbi Akiva Tatz - The Thinking Jewish Teenager's Guide to Life
Yael Dayan - Death Had Two Sons (10 NIS)
Rabbi Shmuel Waldman - Beyond Reasonable Doubt
The Responza of Professor Louis Ginzberg - Ed. David Golinkin

Fiction (5 NIS):
Lew Wallace - Ben Hur (Illustrated Classics, for kids)
The Hardy Boys #17 - The Shore Road Mystery
Charles Schultz - You're a Winner, Charlie Brown
The Silly Little Book of Monster Jokes
Jane Smiley - A Thousand Acres
Abram Leon Sachar - A History of the Jews
John Grisham - The Partner
Jane Smiley - Moo

Non-Fiction (10 NIS):
Michael Goodman - Write to the Point
William Chomsky - Hebrew: The Eternal Language
Magna Guinovart - Painting on Wood for Beginners
Wonders of Nature: A Child's Introduction - Parent's Magazine (5 NIS)
Howard Lozton - All Color Book of Kittens

Computer (20 NIS):
Kent Beck - Extreme Programming Explained
Robert Wysocki, et al - Effective Project Management
Katie Hafner & Matthew Lyon - Where Wizards Stay Up Late
Tim Berners-Lee - Weaving the Web
Erich Gamma, et al - Design Patterns
Benoit Marchal - XML By Example
Jerry Kaplan - Start Up: A Silicon Valley Adventure
Larry Wall, et al - Programming Perl
Susan Lammers - Programmers at Work (rare and excellent 50 NIS)
Douglas Rushkoff - Cyberia

Science 5 NIS:
Lewis Thomas - The Medusa and the Snail
Lewis Thomas - The Lives of a Cell
A. S. Romner - Man and the Vertebrates: 2
George Gaylord Simpson - The Meaning of Evolution
Edwin Schrodinger - What is Life & Other Scientific Essays
C. H. Waddington - The Scientific Attitude
Loren Eiseley - The Immense Journey
Alfred North Whitehead - The Concept of Nature
George C. Williams - Adaptation and Natural Selection
Ilya Prigogine & Isabelle Stengers - Order Out of Chaos
D'arcy Thompson - On Growth and Form
Thomas Kuhn - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Scientific Revolutions (ed. Ian Hacking)
Jay Orear - Physics (textbook)
Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology - Ed Elliot Sober
Stephen Jay Gould - The Mismeasure of Man
Stephen Jay Gould - The Panda's Thumb
John Tyler Bonner - On Development
Ernst Mayr - The Growth of Biological Thought

Hebrew Books (5 NIS):
Liza Tetsner - Massaei Hanes Urion
Alpuni L'Kita Aleph

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Strange Trip Continues

Updated for clarification purposes. I must be really tired.

With Rachel on her way to Canada for 10 months in August on a postdoc, and with my 6 year cyclical savings plan coming due this year, I have, for the first time, a chance to NOT work full time for a number of months.

I was really hoping the budget would allow me to take off an entire year, but one can't have everything.

My "plan" was to eventually look for something part-time, supplemented with blogging income, maybe game design, and who knows what else.

That last part is important: "who knows what else". I have obligations and families to support, which I have been doing non-stop since 1989. I'm really tired of it, but I know that I can't really stop. I have always forced myself not to quit a job until I knew what the next one was going to be.

This time I simply stepped into the unknown.

Last week I "quit" my job (actually, asked to be let go), in anticipation of my trip to England and Scotland. But mostly, because I was tired of the same old same old [1], when what I really wanted to do was blog and design games.

I had no idea what would happen next. What I really should have done was crawl under my bed for few months, and only then send out some resumes.

But old habits die hard. Somehow, I found myself already sending out resumes for positions that I know how to do - but don't really want to do - and a few other positions that look interesting, but are radically different from what I usually do.

Lo and behold, I already received some interesting replies. A number of people are happy to have me set up websites and blogs for them on a project basis.

But best of all, I walked into a job offer for a programmer position - for which I am rusty but qualified - and offered them, instead, to hire me as a part-time blogger. And they agreed!

In other words, if we can come to an agreement on the salary, I will now be a bona-fide part-time professional blogger for a living, still doing my own blogging and game design on the side. And maybe a few websites here and there, if I need to.

And I owe it all to The Secret.

Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, after watching The Secret, I have decided to devote all of my spare thinking time into thinking that The Secret doesn't work. Since, according to The Secret, thinking results in reality changing to whatever I think, I am expecting the resulting maelstrom of paradox to wipe out the Earth.[2]

Life is getting weirder by the day.

Game News

I knew there was a reason that I wrote about storytelling a few days ago; storytelling versus movies and television is like board and card games versus video games. The differences are infinite adaptability and human connection.

Nevertheless, storytelling is a part of any game, and Man Bytes Blog delves into it here.

HDRL contemplates the shift from long video games, which only teenagers have time for, to bite-sized game experiences such as Settlers of Catan, which are made for adults.

Mary Bellis of interviews Tim Walsh, designer of Blurt and Tribond, on the occasion of his one millionth sale.

Polly Vous Francais experiences a store owner's take on the difference between types of board games.

Meanwhile, you'll be happy to know that Haifa has decided NOT to do a wild boar hunt within the city. Whew.


[1] And a job where I wrote technical manuals that nobody actually read.

[2] So no, I don't endorse The Secret.