Posts tagged ‘games’


Thanksgiving day itself was at my parents house. They had another couple over, and we passed a lot of time playing UNO.

UNO was beyond my memory when I was doing game design. At first it seemed pretty mindless, until I grabbed the rules and figured out that you could choose to draw even if you had a playable card. (I purposefully looked at the rules when it it didn’t matter, but got slammed with draws anyway.) It’s still a heavily constrained game where you often can’t do what you’d really like to because the color is wrong or the leader isn’t sitting next to you.

Last year, the idea rolling around in my head was that it was the first real thanksgiving. It had only been a few months since I left my job, I was traveling around speaking at conferences, and turning down job inquiries. This year I’ve been disenchanted by empty conference rooms, preparation time, and travel costs. Meanwhile, my savings is halfway down and I really ought to start thinking about how I’m going to support myself. I suppose I should be thankful that I’ve had a year without ‘work’, and still have some money left.

Five long years of procrastination….

…is drawing to a close.

(I have a cheap camera, so the picture isn’t that good. I can say that the JPEG compression didn’t improve the picture, but it also didn’t affect the content value (garbage in/garbage out?))

Shameless Plugs

A few weeks ago I went to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair While there I un-surprisingly saw several people from the game designer’s group. I also saw a couple people from Protospiel set up in booths, and bought their games.

I played Cluzzle the first time I went to Protospiel, and saw a revised version the next year. Dominic has gone into production since. It’s aimed at the lighter market, but it does that very well.

I didn’t see MetaMemes at Protospiel since I didn’t make it this year, but I heard about it (and the game design expansion ;^) ) It’s in ‘early adopter release’ now – which is to say a very small print run that costs more to make than it sells for. Kesavan considers a marketing expense rather than a real product run. The idea is to generate word of mouth, which is really what inspired me to write this. It’s somewhere between a geek version of Apples to Apples and a brainstorming tool with a scoring mechanism. Players combine cards with various concepts to try and create some new invention. Sadly I haven’t played the game yet, but if nothing else it’s a pretty interesting set of cards – Flatland, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Mambo Chickens (the game’s author’s favorite example card) or simply words (“Laugh”)

It didn’t have anything to do with Protospiel, but I also bought SeigeStones, just because I liked it. I felt a lot like some of the games I’ve been designing.

Game List

One of the people from my game club wanted me to put my list online in case he wanted to request something. So I did, except for; home mades, not strictly board (or card) games, and three that I had to submit and are still working their way through the approval process.

Shopping Spree

Went down to Games Plus to check on my auction sales. Everything sold, (in some cases to my surprise) netting $78.75 in store credit. That was applied to Tigris & Euphrates, which I’ve heard of repeatedly but never played, and Theophrastus, a slick little alchemical card game that I saw while at Protospiel last year.

While I was there I also picked up some other things I had been meaning too; all four expansion sets for Apples to Apples, and all three other sets of Mystik Domination. The major arcana in Mystik appear to be all the same, which is a little disappointing, but the companion series has some rather silly cards. You can now command a “Killer Bunny,” “Tabby Cat,” or give one of you minions “My Dolly.” “Syndicate Fundraiser” also amuses me for some reason; the idea of a super secret organization holding an event I guess. ;^) And there is the “Ides of March” – please notice the date on which I first saw this card.

Otherwise pretty leisurely. I booted back to windows to download my e-mail so NaughtyPets in on hold for a little bit. But I needed to get some work done on one of my paper games anyway. I should have a fourth draft in hand some time tomorrow.


The board game night went pretty well, although it ended up being more of a card game night. Burn Rate (The dot-com crash) was the big winner of the night, begin played several times. I also got to play a real game of Mystik Domination, (expandable, but not collectible, card game a la Magic) which reminded me of several of it’s nicer points. I may have to get the expansion set (sets?) so it can play more than 2. Another first was Programmer’s Nightmare. Nobody really knew what was going on and I ended up winning by dumb luck. The others didn’t seem to enjoy it much, but I thought it was a thing of beauty to see in motion, even if strategy is difficult at best. Someone also brought Mausoleum(sp?), a game about offing your rich relatives to build better tombs. A fairly clean and simple game, although I feel no urge to buy it. Fluxx and Lunch Money were also played in between.

Meanwhile, NaughtyPets evolves. First I showed hit points. Then I tried normalizing to 100 working towards a health bar. Then I had an idea much more in keeping with the game’s cynical attitude: instead of health you have a running total of your pet’s current market value; damaged goods are obviously worth less than new ones, so when the value hits zero, it’s dead. Since I’m trying to base the value on game stats, you also have a quick way to size up an opponent.

I’m also trying to tweak early game play despite it being kind of a quick and dirty project. For instance, the stun abilities were basically no fun. While the stun-whack (wash, rinse, repeat) strategy was effective, it was boring to play and no fun to be subject to. So stun abilities are being restricted to to one-shot (Comfy Chair’s ‘Nap’ doesn’t work if the subject isn’t tired any more) or diminishing return (Floral type’s ‘Pretty’ is subject to decreasing interest, and ‘Allergy’ is back to slowing down action rate instead of stunning)

Currently I’m against a technological hurdle; Python is an objected oriented language, but I need to start treating abilities more like data and less like fixed method calls.


Thursday at the game club I found out about a game auction going on next weekend at Games Plus. Since I had already separated out a stack of games that I’d sort of like to find new homes for, this seemed like a good opportunity.

So I grabbed my stack, and a few other things that I took consideration for, and headed out early Saturday morning, after a little research at their web page Friday night. (For instance, I had been thinking that the auction itself was this Saturday; in fact it was just a good time to get things in beforehand.)

Pricing things was tricky; generally I priced to sell and figured that the auction would take of anything with actual demand. Fortunately, the person who had told me about the auction showed up shortly after I did to list his own games, and gave me a better guideline (10% original price) He had frightful number of games to sell, himself, mostly hold historicals, from the looks of it.

A partial reporting of the unwanted:

I ended up with 24 items, one of which was a bundle of my three Changeling books (If I every do anything with farie, it won’t be White Wolf’s bizarre take on it.) For RPGs I also grabbed Nobilis, which despite having every reason to attract me, just didn’t come together for me. A similar game was Choosen, except it was even less interesting to me.

Let’s see, the ‘large’ item was Cults Across America; last two times we tried to play, it was pulled out and partially set up, and then put away. Also Spammers, which is funny, but I only played it once and hated the endgame. Who Stole Ed’s Pants had some really nifty witness mechanics, but really wasn’t fun for me. I got The Three Stooges thinking it was pretty much like Lunch Money, but it’s amazing how a few rules make a big difference, and I didn’t care to try and fix it. Also finally dumped Dragon War, a random-board board game put out by an art group with barely half a clue about game design.

The rest was mostly all the old CCGs I bought when they were new, before I figured out how many there were going to be, and how low of quality they tended to be. ;^)

I had a brief look around Games Plus (not a thorough one, since I may have some store credit after the auction) I wish I’d known about this place earlier; I saw countless games that I’d never seen in a game store before, and some that I’d never seen at GenCon before (granted, I never went searching through the vendor booths with piles of ‘stuff’) It looks like they try to stock just about one of everything. At 45 minutes away, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s nice to know that it is there. They also to seem to have regular open gaming tables, but once again, there is the 45 minute thing.

The weekend

It was kind of a big weekend. Saturday utsuri came out, and we went over to a friend’s place for the board game Civilization. The comments I’ve heard about it being similar to Age of Renaissance were not unfounded (it was pretty much described as a difference between pieces moving around or not.) It was a generally very pacifist game (if you discount disasters, which pretty much get forced on you) although perhaps war should be have been considered more heavily since we ended up forfeiting the game, when people got tired and it was obvious who would win.

It wasn’t formally time for the regular game of Werewolf yet, so we played a game of Industrial Waste, during which I discovered yet another new and fascinating way to lose ;^)

The Werewolf game itself included lots of joking around, and running the gauntlet down a wyrmhole. As usual our alpha with the personal totem spirit solved most of the problems, but I guess throwing the giant slug over the cliff was a group effort ;^) Still, it was fun and I stayed a little later than usual. Both me and Jenn ended up very tired for it, however.

Sunday we went and saw The Two Towers. My reaction was about the same as the first: about what I expected from hollywood. Ents were kind of cool, but they re-wrote pretty much the second half, including the removal (presumably delayed until the third movie) of almost everything actually dealing with the two towers… leaving it a little mis-named ;^)

After that we had dinner at Salerno’s, a nice italian restaurant, and just managed to squeeze in the remainder of Lilo and Stitch before Jenn headed home. (She got several people hooked on L&S by showing the first part during the dinner break at the Werewolf game.)

Which came first, the friction or the milk?

The interesting conversations you get playing Apples to Apples… ;^)

Went over my parents place for Christmas breakfast, dinner, and desert. They invited a few of their friends from dancing and/or motorcycle riding as well.

After dinner (and then sitting round watching the Trading Spaces marathon) we did in fact play Apples To Apples. A little odd though; my father kept judging in favor of things like handcuffs and chains, but wasn’t involved when whips passed through. He also won two games, and Love family overall took every game. I hope it didn’t look fixed ;^)

I figured something to that effect may be called for, after last year’s rousing game of Pictionary. ;^) We did get all the way through the red cards and I suspect most of the way through the greens, so I suppose I have a reason to get expansions now…

A sad day: So long Hogshead, it was nice knowing you.

A friend just passed on the news that Hogshead Publishing is pulling a Michal Jordan and “ending on a high point.”

Some of their innovative titles:
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Most of the orphaned titles are being passed on to new owners. See the web page for a complete list.