Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Boats, coffee, and gladiators: Gaming after work

Yesterday after work, a bunch of us gathered for games at our Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) Game Parlor Chantilly.

(c) Calliope Games
Used by persmission
Tsuro of the Seas
Not all of us had arrived before five of us (Keith Ferguson, Carson, Brian, Grant Greffey, and myself) got impatient enough to start a quick game of Tsuro of the Seas (designers Tom McMurchie and Jordan Weisman; artists Ilonka Sauciuc and Dawne Weisman; publisher Calliope Games).  In our limited experience with this game, the dragons that were added to the original Tsuro only serve to prolong the game and randomize the outcome, so we elected to play with just the original rules and no dragons.  I didn't realize until at least halfway into the game that the TotS board is actually larger than the original - I think seven-by-seven squares rather than six-by-six.  Regardless, the game play is largely the same, and with five players, it unfolds much as you would expect.  Four of us made something of a beeline for the center, while Grant meandered in looking for a good opening.  Of course, once the wakes start to meet and players find themselves facing the same empty tile space, the real strategy comes in.  Tom and Traci M. arrived just as things were getting frantic, and it wasn't five minutes before players started falling off the map one by one until I had the last boat left facing the last empty tile space on the board to win the game.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Could 1955 go on forever?

For Christmas, my friend Paul R. gave me 1955: The War of Espionage (designer Kevin Nunn, artist Haley Ross, publisher APE Games).  I had it very high on my wishlist after some positive mention on DiceHateMe's "State of Games" podcast (starting at 42:45) as a nice tight two-player game.  Kathy and I played it once before a few weeks ago (which she won by securing my home country), and tonight we thought we'd bring it out and try it again.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Numerical analysis of "East India Company"

At UnPub 3, during the three-player playtest of "East India Company," Ben Rosset expressed concern that in the game, the dividend track wasn't rewarding enough to justify the cost.  He felt that in general, money can be better spent on ships and goods that will yield a better return on investment than declaring dividends.  It was an observation that I took very seriously; I hadn't had a playtest in which anybody completely ignored the dividend track before.  I wondered if it was a weakness that would emerge with extensive play and end up being a superfluous element of the game.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dice Hate Me trifecta!

(c) Dice Hate Me Games
Used by permission
In just the last few years (as anyone who has followed Man OverBoard already knows), I've had the pleasure of getting to know Chris and Cherilyn Kirkman of Dice Hate Me Games.  Dice Hate Me was one of the first blogs I ever started following, and it was great to meet them at WBC 2011.  That's where they introduced me to T.C. Petty III, with whom they were playtesting VivaJava: The Coffee Game.  I've since had the opportunity to hang out with Chris and T.C. at multiple conventions over the last couple of years.  They also introduced me to Ben Rosset at PrezCon 2012 when he was playtesting "Stranded."  Last summer I got to try out Ben's Mars Needs Mechanics at WBC and have since had a number of great conversations with him about our thoughts on game design.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stalemate at Santa Cruz

In our "Pacific Theatre via Midway" campaign series, my friend Frank Hodge and I clashed once more in the Coral Sea, this time in the Santa Cruz scenario of Alan R. Moon's expansion to the Avalon Hill classic Midway (designers Larry Pinsky and Lindsley Schutz, publisher Avalon Hill).  Once more, I assumed command of the U.S. Navy forces while Frank controlled the fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mr. Jack makes a first impression

One of my PrezCon auction store acquisitions was Mr. Jack (designers Bruno Cathala and Ludovic
(c) Hurrican Games
Used by permission
, artist PierĂ´, publisher Hurrican).  I'd run across it in a number of people's list of favorite two-player games, and reviews really impressed me.  The only reason I'd hesitated in the past to pick it up was its association with Jack the Ripper.  I've written a couple of times about the ethical implications of game theme, and I was concerned that, like Letters from Whitechapel, this game would cross a line for me.  But I recently read a review that indicated that Mr.J does not have the "Jack" player trying to perpetrate murder (as does LfW) but instead attempting to escape apprehension for an unspecified (if tacitly understood) crime.  In this respect, Mr.J is strictly a cat-and-mouse deduction game, and with that understanding, I thought I would pick it up and give it a try.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Excellence in Game Design - Leslie Scott

I received the January issue of the "Business of Play Inventor Newsletter" recently.  This newsletter covers the events surrounding the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, an annual occasion in November that includes a series of multiple of events, to include the International Toy and Game Innovation Conference (T&GCon), the International Summit for Professional Inventors (I-SPI), and the Toy and Game Inventor of the Year (TAGIE) Awards.