prog: (zendo)
Another exciting Memoir 44 game, playing scenario 40: Breakout at Klin, part of the Eastern Front expansion that [ profile] classicaljunkie got me for Xmas.

M44 has kind of become "our game" - we have a reputation among some friends for liking it a maybe a little too much - but we hadn't played it in months after I got kind of burned out on it over the winter. Early summer rain combined with a good work-day put me back in the mood.

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that even though I boasted on Twitter about how I expected to make short work of Amy's russians, she turned it around. I think I made a mistake my throwing units at Golyadi right at the start of the game, figuring I'd be able to hold them for the duration. Amy correctly focused on knocking them out for an early lead, and that kept me off-balance for the whole game. Duh: occupying territory is an endgame move in Memoir, not an opening gambit. I deserved what I got.

And, as always with Memoir 44, it really helps to remember to roll the dice well. I kept forgetting to do this, clearly. It feels like I kept rolling flags, allowing Amy's units to flounce away from all my attacks, and meanwhile she kept rolling tanks, neatly taking apart all my Panzer units.

It came down to one of those ridiculous situations where it's mutual game-point and there's two adjacent units chipping away at each other until one of them finally rolls the right symbols. But that's war for you.

Happy Xmas

Dec. 25th, 2008 11:08 am
prog: (Default)
Arrived at Fairfield yesterday. Sometime after I made the Zipcar reservation I became determined to shift my mind into a more graceful posture for this visit, a loose kung-fu pose of good cheer and readiness to casually flip any bad crap over my shoulder and onto the mat behind me. And really, I've been having an okay time! And truth to tell, it helps that Ricky's in fairly balanced humors.

Tried to teach the family Ticket to Ride yesterday. Ricky took to it quickly, and as with other games I could tell he liked it because he started telling stories within the confines of the game's rules. He'd draw additional train-car cards not because he needed to build up his hand, but because his men at the switchyard were getting restless with only one car to work on. Since TtR has such a narrow set of possible actions, you can play like this and still play well. When we play Batttle Cry or Memoir '44, he makes tactically terrible moves that give his opponent an advantage, but it furthers the story he's telling so it's OK by him.

I understand now that Ricky's much more interested in rules than gameplay as a whole. This is related to how he became enamored with Catholicism a few years ago, adopting many of its practices - regular mass, the rosary, confession, all of that - and continues to stick to them diligently. So much rigorous ceremony, things he can do every day! I can see the relationship between this and the small, reality-confining space of a game's ruleset, for one with a mind like RIcky's. It's a relief for him to step into, a way to tune himself down for a while, and I can't blame him for being more interested in exploring the rules than trying to win.
prog: (Default)
Last night's random game thing was a nice success. Lots more people showed up than we expected (not complaining)! We may start doing this more often...

Finally played Goa, with [ profile] classicaljunkie teaching it to three of us newbies. I loved it, feeling completely engaged for the entire two hours or so that we played. Managed to squeak out a win (pulling a tiebreaker over [ profile] ahkond), which was extra-nice for me since it kills my idea that I can never do well at auction games. I wanna play this game again soon.

[ profile] dougo stuck around for a bit at the end, and the three of us played Figaro (which we concluded doesn't work well with three) and then a fascinatingly mechanical game of Race for the Galaxy. It was the first time I had the Blue strategy fall into my lap, and it was a little ridiculous. My first few moves had me lay out a string of blue-producing planets and then the Consumer Markets development, which gives you lots of bonuses for having blue producers. The last six rounds had me alternating between my Produce and Consume(2xVP) action cards, hoovering up ten VPs each time, and shutting down the game quickly. There was no reason to do much of anything else! It was the first time a pattern like that emerged from this game for me.
prog: (zendo)
Those missing my liveblogging (coz I didn't watch the debate) can read Defective Yeti's take on it, or Todd Alcott's thoughts if you'd like less snark.

I played Wiz-War last night, by gar. It was the shortest Wiz-War game ever. I want to play it again.

Going to a physical therapy session in a couple of hours. What's this? Well, after we moved I detected something strange, and rather than whine in LJ about how it's surely a tumor, I broke tradition and went to the doctor first. Turns out it's some benign condition with a long name that makes me feel a pop-pop in my hip when I walk around outside. I was told that if I ignore it, it may get less benign, so I'm gonna have it stretched out of me. Bought some running shorts yesterday, just for the occasion. Woo.
prog: (zendo)
Is it wrong to feel vaguely disenfranchised that Settlers is now officially known as just "Catan", according it its publishers (and, more to the point, the publishers of its sundry electronic editions)?

In their position, I would probably have done the same thing. But now I anticipate a future where I unconsciously judge myself as superior to anyone who calls the game "Catan" versus "Settlers", and I'm like, wow, I'm going to be very slightly more of a jerk as a result. Awesome, thanks.
prog: (Default)
Deletionpedia is a machine-generated website, built entirely from Wikipedia articles that have been deleted. It itself is not a wiki, even though it copies Wikipedia's page layout. The result is somewhat fantastic.

Its current featured article is this exhaustive list of all the weapons found in the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000, complete with what appears to be meticulously fan-made illustrations, many with labeled parts and exploded views. Someone put a hell of a lot of work into this. While I can see why the WP hivemind would give it the boot (WP is famously tolerant of nerdwank, but still has its limits), I'm oddly relieved to know that it's preserved elsewhere.

And there will be a lot of pages like this guy's, a short biography of "a British-based Starship captain, commentator on society and volunteer ticket collector on a steam railway". Or the sad tale of List of Films with Monkeys in Them, which was cut down before it could even grow past three items.

The list of magical things goes on, preserved forever. I am glad this exists.
prog: (zendo)
OK I have heard enough about the nu-wave tabletop rolly-hitty RPGs of the last coupla years to wanna play one.

I would love to try either Descent or D&D4 sometime. Any action around here I can get in on? Anything else I should be playing?
prog: (rotwang)
JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL was my train-riding book today because I had no other, and I found that the very next chapter addressed the continuing fates of the characters I had taken for forgotten. I stand by my earlier criticism, because there is a very real difference between a reader anticipating missing characters' return, and wondering if the author's simply misplaced them.

LOST continues to be a soup of delightful and spicy meatballs floating in a broth of stale television cliches. Usually I have no palate for it, and sometimes I just have to have five bowls of it. I slurped down a good half-dozen episodes over the last 24 hours, and have three more to go before I know what half my flist is so happy about.

PSYCHONAUTS is wonderful, and is currently a $15 download for XBox 360 users. (I understand PC users can enjoy it via Steam, as well.) I have a lengthy post about it that I may actually finish someday. Suffice to say it's certainly the best written platformer-genre game I've ever played.

RACE FOR THE GALAXY is an amazing card game and I wish to play it again right now. I will almost certainly be purchasing a copy soon.


Nov. 24th, 2007 10:23 am
prog: (zendo)
I am in a very Memoir '44 mood. If you would like to challenge me to a game this weekend I would likely be all over it. I have the basic set and the Pacific Theater expansion, the latter of which I haven't explored nearly enough of.

I have been playing it again via [ profile] classicaljunkie. After much bugging I finally got her to play BattleLore with me. She didn't like it, but it moved her to counterpropose Memoir, which neither of us have played in a long time. So a little later I blew the dust off the box and opened it and my friends it looks positively empty compared to BattleLore's monster box. It's like there's nothing inside.

And yet the game is so much fun! The rules are much simpler, and it moves a lot faster than BL, since there are fewer factors to keep in mind and check against every turn. I'm not ready to say that I like it more, but... let me say that Memoir has definitely earned its place in my Top Five, and BL hasn't gotten there yet.

It reminds me of the difference between vanilla Settlers and Cities and Knights, and the reasons folks have for preferring one over the other. It's not a perfect analogy becuase BL isn't Memoir '44 With More Stuff; the tactical strategies for moving units around is entirely different, which is part of the coolness (BL forces you to keep units clumped together or else their morale shatters, while Memoir units are better off hanging loose until it's time to gang up on an enemy). But, yes.
prog: (gameshelf)
I've been posting the YouTubey Gameshelf excerpts to BGG and getting lots of hits as a result. Yay. I have also discovered that comments are broken on the new site. Boo. Firebug will help me root it out.

Here's an oldie from 2005. The quippy gameplay between [ profile] mrmorse and [ profile] taskboy3000 makes still makes it worth watching, even though the clip's production values are so rough by modern Gameshelf standards. Unscripted er um uh monologues, over-casual wardrobe, and inappropriate furniture leading to lots of frame-centering on knees and crotches.

prog: (gameshelf)
I am pleased to announce a new homepage for The Gameshelf, at the same location it's always had ( I started to build it last week as a way to learn Movable Type 4 (which, gord willing, I may soon use to help a potential client) and finished it yesterday. This is the first time I've felt confident that I have a site for the show that people are going to want to visit more than once. This also completely obviates the site, which I'll draw down presently.

Why, yes, there are Google ads on it now. No, I don't expect to make a significant amount of money from them today. But I've started to become quite curious about the magical world of passive income, and wish to begin some experimentation. This page is the most appropriate (or least inappropriate) one I have to spray ads onto. I like how they fit on the current layout: visible, but polite and unassuming.

In related news I'm a little embarrassed the most recent episode talks up and links to the Icehouse Game Design Competition, as the winter 2007 IGDC might have just ended before it even began with a teh drama flameout on the Icehouse mailing list. I like the competition, and hope that someday it can find a dependable moderator with an emotional stability better than a 14-year-old cheerleader's. (IIRC this is the second one to fail after Zarf retired. To this person's credit, at least they managed to push out one competition cycle, unlike the first guy, who simply vanished from the internet after all the entries were submitted.)

It's less the mere passage of time and more the active work on another project that makes the call to return to Volity get stronger. Regardless, and despite how close we are to an alpha release, I'm still feeling pretty burned out on the whole deal. The October collapse came after almost six months of obsessed-focus work, and it was a reaction of equal magnitude, compressed into one evening and aimed straight down. I'm not recovered yet.

That project isn't really something I can return to properly until I am once again truly excited about it. Perhaps it after I'm done setting up the shoots for the next Gameshelf episode, I can work up a good Volity froth again. We will see.
prog: (gameshelf)
[Error: unknown template video]

YouTube-sized excerpt of the Acquire review, about 10 minutes long.

I see (via this video's "related videos" thingy) that Board Games With Scott is posting things 20 minutes and longer to YouTube. Did they finally remote that silly 10-minute restriction? I am so confused.
prog: (Default)
Here is a much less psychotic looking picture of me at the lakeside, though my head is still huge because it was taken at arm's length with the iBook's built-in camera.

Someday I will re-assemble my camera-shaped camera. )

I proclaimed this to be a working vacation and I did work, to an extent. Put in all the time I could for the client - only about three hours, before my plate was clean - and kicked Volity around a little. Made palpable progress towards the demo but there are too many bugs to fix before that can happen, and this just isn't the environment for swatting bugs. Gotta be at my own desk for that.

Started a new Angband character (a Dunedain ranger) and am having maybe my best game yet. Controlling the urge to just play and play fairly well, this time, though I wonder if that will remain true when I'm back by myself in Somerville. There's novelty with this character - she's become deadlier with a bow than anyone I've run through the dungeon previously - and I am having honest fun with it, though there's still a distinct and unpleasant aftertaste of addiction after each play session. We'll see what happens. Anyway, I finally learned how to use the targeting command and my dude killed Wormtongue yesterday, which in my experience is the point where the game starts to get really interesting. (Whenever you manage to splat your first non-Farmer Maggot-related unique, anyway.)

Learned to play Tigris & Euphrates this weekend, and decided I really like it, though I'm quite far from figuring out any sense of good play. I've felt vaguely bad for years that I didn't know how to play this T&E, though, which is considered a high water-mark of modern board games. I did play it once before, and for whatever reason it didn't take and I found it confusing and frustrating.

General personal rule I've recognized for some time but need to enforce better: If my opponents point out a good move to make, and it is different from a good move I had been eyeing, I should not make that move even if it seems better. Since the people I usually play games with are my awesome friends, I do not accuse them of deceitfully metagaming me; rather, it's a personal fault to always see a new suggestion as better than one that I came up with myself. Their decision may be wise, but mine is based on the most intimate knowledge of my personal game state and sense of how I'm likely to follow through on the move. In yesterday's game, I ignored a tile-placement suggestion at first but took advantage of it a couple of turns later, and it scored big for me. But later I made a game-ending move right when it was pointed out to me, and ended up losing by one point. Was still a fun and rewarding game, but: yes, that's enough of that.
prog: (khan)
I had an especially fun game night at [ profile] rikchik-n-Mary's last Tuesday, but I accidentally messed up [ profile] magid's awesome hand at Gang of Four by not making an obvious move when I shoulda (I was enchanted watching people play Toppo in the other room and absentmindedly passed my turn), and allowing [ profile] queue to go out a round or five earlier than he really shoulda, and sticking magid with 100,000 cards, making the game end earlier than it shoulda too. (Not to say [ profile] queue didn't have his victory coming to him, but I kind of carved it up nice and served to him with garnish, which is not optimally fun.)

I enjoyed an especially fun brunch that [ profile] cthulhia hosted in honor of [ profile] zyxwvut's visit to the east coast. Lots of Rabbits/Arisia peeps in attendance and lots of good food that they broughted and I eated it. I volunteered to help with coffee, but through miscommunication I ended up leaving my own coffee equipment at home. I used Cth's equipment as if it were mine, even though it wasn't, and long story short ended up spilling scalding water all over my sous-barista [ profile] classicaljunkie's right hand. I feel awful about this and have put myself at her beck and call while she convalesces. I would write more but she just told me to go fold laundry, so OK.
prog: (Default)
Zarf lent me Hofstadter's new I am a Strange Loop yesterday. Between him and the reviews I've read the consensus seems to be "Eh... it's worth reading." It covers the same ground as Gödel, Escher, Bach, examining how consciousness can emerge from unconscious material, but is both shorter and much more explicit about it - GEB is often seen and even loved by its readers as an almanac-style funhouse of art and logic not arranged around any particular topic, and though the book helped set him for life Hofstadter has always regretted its unintended ambiguousness. I read two chapters of the new book in bed last night and am already convinced that if nothing else it contains enough new angles to stay interesting throughout, so I'm cool with it.

The review I read suggests that I can expect him to spend a lot of ink alternately and mourning his dead wife and thrashing John Searle's anti-AI arguments, which I've already seen him do years ago in Le Ton Beau de Marot (highly recommended reading, by the way, if you haven't heard of that one). But this time he's doing it in a GEBby context and not a linguistic one (though these are certainly related to begin with) so we'll see. If I trust any author, I trust this one.

I touched base with my client on Sunday evening, reminding them that they gave me zero hours of work last week but adding that this was OK given my webclient push, and I wouldn't complain if they chose to withhold for another week. The response has been uncharacteristic silence, such that I've been peeking in on their ticketing system just to make sure that I hadn't missed anything. Well, I'm getting what I asked for.

I don't think that I've overtly noted here yet that doing paid web work on the side of Volity has been good for my own project. Facing and overcoming challenges that don't originate from my own needs forces me to learn new web programming and styling techniques, broadening the arsenal I bring to Volity webwork. In June, for example, paid work encouraged me to get up to speed with CSS - all the books I own on the subject are from 2003 and therefore nearly useless - and for this reason the web client has a beautiful layout without a single <table> involved (except for the actual tables).

Yes, I still have to see how badly it fails on MSIE6. If it is full of fail I will be tempted to just lock that damn thing out and require MSIE7, or the non-shitty alternative browser of your choice. We'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Speaking of 2003, I've been thinking lately that as of this summer I've been working on Volity for the length of a typical American undergraduate education. All that time on a single project! It makes me feel a little panicky until I look at it sideways and figure: yeah, that's about right, actually.

I can't wait to show y'all the webclient prototype. I can't until [ profile] daerr builds a proxying solution that will let the webserver freely make AJAX calls to my Jabber connection broker daemon. For the time being, I have been having the daemon itself serve all the static HTML bits as well as the Jabber stuff, and just hit itself with the AJAX. This... does not scale. Heh, it might scale actually but it would be utterly unmaintainable and I don't even want to feint in that direction, not even for the sake of a demo.

My voice of experience speaks here. This is how paranoid I am of a "oh, we'll just do it this way for the time being" hack becoming the permanent solution. No, I'm not giving that an inch.

I have been threatening to just shoot a video of the alpha running, and I just might resort to this if I can't do anything else this week.

Heh, the Diesel finally put up polite-but-firm little placards in its booths asking that they be used only by parties of three or more during "busier hours". It's 10am now and I see only couples and singles-with-laptops. Wonder how well this works when it's time. Oh, here comes a guy now... and he reads the card... and he keeps walking! Wow.

I used to stretch out in the booths by myself all the time, but at some point I lost the ability. The last time I did, earlier this year, I thought I could feel waves of resentment beating down on me from everyone else. I might have even picked up and moved to a table before I left!

Twice, attractive young women I do not know have asked to share the booth with me, and this always gives my day a little lift but it's probably a weak reason to seek to sit in the giant booths alone. I wonder whether mutual strangers might now recognize the look of argh-I-can't-sit-anywhere in each other as they wander around the cafe, and propose to become one-time Booth Buddies.
prog: (Volity)
Checkers has been solved. It's the most complex game so far whose single perfect single strategy has been discovered.

What's more, you can play online against a bot that's running this algorithm, and you are guaranteed to never win. Even if you play as perfectly as it does, the best you can do is force a draw.

I love this stuff. (And who'd like to write the Volity bot version...?)
prog: (Default)
Picked out new glasses yesterday. My insurance gave me a good discount, so I opted for an expensive and tiny pair of jet-black titanium wire-frames. When we went last week [ profile] dictator555 had me right on the verge of picking up a phat black geek-chic number, but a chorus of alternate fashion consultants I had since sought drowned her out. (This started when the dictator took a cellphone picture of me with the phat frames in the opt shop and sent it to [ profile] classicaljunkie, who then called me from the airplane to ask if it was a joke.)

On [ profile] rikchik's advice I also visited the local Brooks' crafts aisle to buy 100 leetle zip-lock bags for a dollar and change, perfect for storing loose game bits. I immediately deployed a couple dozen to reorganize my BattleLore legions, storing between one and three complete multi-figure units in each baggie (one unit type per bag), and then dumping all of them back into the box. With those ridiculous plastic trays out of the way, the box now closes completely. Whee

Almost definitely not going to Gen Con, since I just missed the pre-reg window, making securing hotel space much harder and more expensive. It's too bad, because it didn't occur to me until way late to ask gamer-fiend [ profile] classicaljunkie if she might want to go, and when she said yes, my answer is like "Well... ya can't." Feh.

Still, my mumbling about weird timing WRT the web client is still all true. When it's in beta you better bloody well believe I'll be tromping all over the convention circuit, OK?

Last night's HoRGN was fun, though the only game I played was Toppo (which I won once, woo). Delighted to meet [ profile] jaq, who has just relocated from way out yonder to the Boston area.

Also got to play with an iPhone, and was excited to see that its version of Safari can run the DHTML Testbench demo just fine (I didn't think to check out the SVG version that [ profile] daerr just posted, though). The iPhone will surely be my next phone, but I cannot say when that will be. Almost certainly not the device's first generation.
prog: (Default)
Well, I had some half-written blog posts but then my lappie had its weekly kernel panic and away they went. So here is the start of recollection in random order.

Friday I went to the eye doctor. It didn't go well; the first eye drops he applied made me flip out at the reptile-brain level; all my blood drained away and I started to sweat awful and I asked for a breather. Without breaking stride the doctor had me recline and applied cold compresses and gave me hard candy to suck on for blood sugar until I felt better. Then he did the rest of the exam without benefit of further drops. I felt really foolish, but he said that he had one patient fall apart like that every week or so. I'm special.

Anyway, I have a glasses prescription now, and it's not far from the one that was last ground out for me in 2001. I don't trust my own judgement in getting new frames, and [ profile] dictator555 also needs a new pair, so we're going to visit the optical shop later this week together. That should be all right.

Tuesday [ profile] cthulhia and I saw Brand Upon the Brain! by Guy Maddin. I am glad I saw it but I do not generally recommend it. It's got moments, and at least one element of its narrative found strong resonance with me, but it suffers from odd and slow pacing, making its exploration of squirmy sexual themes even harder to watch. If I understand correctly it was originally presented not as a feature but a twelve-part art installation, so there you go.

Played games over the weekend. Investigated Here I Stand, spending two or three hours to suss out the rules enough to play through one game turn. Determined that it's really only playable if you really really want to play it, and plan to spend much of one day at it.

There are many games like this, but I do not play them. I bought it mostly because the game board has a Henry's Wives Pregancy Chart on it (roll 1d6 and see what you get this time!). The game is so serious about its role as simulation that it makes no attempt to be elegant; there are many rules that apply only to certain players, or that come into effect only if one player does a certain action upon another specific player, or only on certain game turns. For example, the Ottoman player successfully besieged a Hungarian city, and this caused a one-time rule to come into effect which specifically gave all the other Hungarian cities to the Hapsburg player. That's just how the game is.

I'm not ready to sell it just yet. I think I still want to try actually playing it!

Also won a four-player game of Blokus for the first time, and fooled [ profile] tahnan twice with my bogus definitions during a game of Dictionary, which is a kind of victory in itself.
prog: (Default)
I am really tempted to buy a copy of Here I Stand, a three-to-seven-hour wargame about the Protestant Reformation. I half want it because it sounds like what you'd encounter being played by grognard caricatures in a skit about far-gone wargamers, and half because it actually sounds pretty damn fascinating.

Would anyone who goes to gamey things that I also go to ever want to play? It sounds like it'd work fine at foos or UGs or what have ye. Because of the game's length and level of involvement, I'm not really interested in playing with total strangers. According to BGG it's best with 6 players, good with 3 players, and crap otherwise.

Update I just ordered a copy, god help me.
prog: (Default)
I've been playing a lot of Odin Sphere. Once you crest the surprisingly steep learning curve, the game features a sublime consistency of difficulty, enough to keep me feeling challenged but rarely frustrated. It's a time sink, but I can't feel too bad about it because it's hard, a real workout for certain digital game skills that haven't really been stressed in a while. Great fun, and the opposite of brain-dead level grinding.

Fortunately for me and the rest of my life, the game's structure gives it plenty of discrete break-points. It takes an hour to get through each "chapter", of which there seem to be 40 or so. After each one, capped by a big boss battle and then a delightfully melodramatic cutscene, I feel done, and I can walk away for a day or so. This is important.

Yesterday [ profile] classicaljunkie and I went to [ profile] dougo's housewarming, way out in Bellerica. Ate a lot, and played a lot of games:

* Crokinole with [ profile] karlvonl I won 5 points in the first round! And then proceeded to give up like 500, but whatevs.

* CJ's copy of Toppo, a turnless pattern-matching game which I enjoy, even though I usually get pounded flat at it (and yesterday was no exception).

* Tekeli-li, a Japanese-produced, Lovecraft-themed trick-taking game that I actually rather enjoyed. I figured out the strategy about halfway through and went from fourth to second place, so I feel like I won. I may add this one to my wishlist.

* Hunting Party, which [ profile] dougo called "Clue: The Gathering", and that isn't too far off. It's a cute game, though hurt by its bizarre production values; the rulebook is really slick and expensive-looking, for example, while most of the game's copious artwork is amateurish. I spent much of the game meditating upon a badly drawn piece of ham.

This was the only game I won outright. The front cover art looks like the hotel lobby during Arisia.

* Vegas Showdown, of which I'd heard much in the last couple of years but never seen. I liked it, though I didn't get the hang of balancing all the different turn options, and came in dead last of a wide point spread. I think its bidding mechanic also led me to fail. I don't bother to compute how much something is worth to me, and so use no sense except gut feeling about how high to go. Surely I end up spending too much on things.

Game became memorable when [ profile] dictator555 executed the most egregious fuck-you maneuver I'd ever seen from her, which was pretty awesome, even if was aimed at me. (Basically she outbid me for something I really needed to salvage my score at the very end, and then instead of deploying it she ripped it up in front of me while her cronies all smoked cigars and laughed.) I'd have done the same to her in a heartbeat, mind. Now I will have to do it twice.

June 2014

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