Friday, July 28, 2006

Patting Myself on My Back

Ok, I'm pretty proud of this. I didn't think that the fourth player in a relatively balanced Samurai game could win, but I did it. And, surprisingly, I won with two totem majorites, AND the most total totems, which I didn't think was at all possible going last in a four player game. Of course, I don't really know what everyone's skill level were (including mine,really) so I have no idea if it was truly balanced. Anyway, the thing that I thought was cool, and I'm assuming pretty oddball, is the way I ended the game (due to Samurai's ending condition of when only one of the Totem type gets cleared from the board).

After using the 0 tile and a late-drawn boat to take the lead in the second totem set, I played a my late-drawn Ronin not to capture a totem for me, but get rid of the final totem off the board, to ensure that the game ended. In fact, the Ronin gave a totem to two other players. Last-drawn Ronins are cool when you win, but I imagine they suck when you are losing...

In addition, I've taken my 3rd first-place crown in the Game Design Showdown with The Great Lakes Fish Out! I wonder if there's any coincidence that the three times I've won, I've had the chance to spend 3 to 4 hours constantly editing the rules, trying to streamline them and make them understandable. Most likely.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


This blog entry has sort of picked up my design interest:The Unknown Civ. The thing that really got me thinking was the following line:

"You don't need much besides the rules, two sides of a piece of paper, a pencil, and dice. It's the kind of thing I like to do in the airport to kill time if I don't have a book handy."

Hmmmm, which gets me thinking along designing a single player game that you can take on an airplane. How would that work?

The game he describes, Culture & Conquest, involves dice. A lot of dice rolls. Which doesn't seem like a good airplane game. Nothing like chasing your 8 sided dice uder three rows of cramped seating space. No dice.

But a pad of paper and a pencil. Good. Maybe a small deck of cards (16 of them) to help randomize things. That would be it.

And so it begins.

I've got a general idea of how this all works. Generally, a turn consists of upkeeping stuff, getting an event from a card, then upkeeping again. A lot of typical Civ stuff applies, such as having a shopping cart of tech-tree kind of things and requirements to fill before advancing to the next Era.

The cards are wonderfully multi-purpose, at least in concept, to keep the component list small. They serve as random events, a timer before the end of an Era happens, and a random number generator.

Basically, at the end of going through a whole deck of cards, you need to do an Era check, which is simply, at the end of the 1st era, you need one city standing, and at the end of the second time through the deck, you need 2 cities, etc. Each card will having events that happen that are spelled out for each Era; the deeper you are in Eras, the more and harder the events become. Some events require you to look at the next card solely for getting a number, or a piece of data; which burns thorugh possible events that you won't have to play AND moving you closer to the end of an Era (for good or bad).

I think letting the player draw his/her own map is a nice touch, and hopefully, completely different map designs will change how the game plays. At least that's the goal.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Samurai swords lock again

I'm back into a 4 player Samurai game again. My current feelings on Samurai still stand up somewhat, which is: Along with T&E, both games offer too much of a first player advantage, assuming that all player's are equal. In fact, I'd pretty much assume that I was going to lose this game solely based on the fact that I'm going last. Until a few things happened. Most notably being that the red player seems to like giving away goodies to everyone else. Which, on the last turn, gave both the blue player and yellow player to have an excuse to grab some idols which also tossed me a bone of a few idols along the way.

And red has opened up an island with a potential series of moves that I can score many of them. Thanks red.

However, I still don't think I have much chance of winning this game. Yellow is cruising along uncontested on his island, blue leads in two idols, meanwhile my course is more or less laid out to get many idols, but across all three type, making me the "master of none" I fear.

Too much time on his hands?

Aside from being very talented, Mike Doyle, seems to have a little bit too much free time as he likes to redesign the artwork of various games. However, it should be noted that he also apparently (and rightly so) gets some paid gigs doing art for games. Which is good, because based on some of his discussions and comments, he's also a player, not just an artist, and has a really good grasp of how art should complement and explain the mechanical aspects of the rules. This link is a very good place to start when understanding this.

He has two different blogs going. is more discussion oriented, while mdolye2.blogspot is mostly a portfolio. Both deserve a good look.
Friday, July 21, 2006

Back to the drawing board.

Well, not really. But since I've started trying to buuild a nice, submittable version of Minsterpool, I've decided that the player's should be using cards, and not tiles, as their way to play their Influence. It's more natural with cards.

I had orignally thought that as a PnP version, it would be easier to do with tiles. But now I realize cards are much easier, as you do not have to spend as much time slicing and dicing laminated paper as you would foam core. Silly me.

Thankfully, it's a fairly quick process to enlarge the graphics to fit cards instead of tiles.
Friday, July 14, 2006

Casino Stories

Some of the most "wonderful" stories abound regarding casino patrons. One of the best legends - I used the word "legend" here since I have absolutely no way to verify it happened, but the person telling the story insists it was true - that I have heard was of a woman sitting in a puddle of her own urine because she refused to get up from a particularily good session on her favorite slot machine.

Well, I have a fun one to add, and I witnessed it personally. And, typically, it involves an older couple. The wife, moving quite quickly, had a tube in a hole cut in her throat. However, since she was apparently quite frail, she had her husband carrying whatever kind of oxygen tank/filtration system that was connected to the other end of the tube, in addition to her overwhelmingly large purse. This seemed to slow him down quite a bit; even more than what appeared to me to be a typically slow gait.

Here's where it gets fun, she was literally yanking on her tube, dragging her husband behind using her life-giving, fresh-oxygen-producing delivery system as a leash, yelling at him, as she tried to get to her favorite slot machine. He was busy trying to untangle the tube with the various straps of her purse while he walked; having her constantly yanking and pulling on her tube was not helping the job at all. But DAMNIT! she was going to get that seat in front of her machine if it was going to kill her. Kill her, being a frightfully good possibility, as any stray yank could cause her husband to drop the oxygen tank, thereby ripping the tube completely out of her throat.

I nevere did get to see the final resolution as the couple eventually made their way past the bank of machines I was sitting at. I assume that she made it to her game, as I did not witness a flurry of paramedics rush by my area. So, in the spirit of those "Bud Light Real American Hero" radio spots:

Today, we salute you, "Mister I Carry Your Oxygen Tank" for putting up with the whining without turning into "Mister Yes Judge I Wrapped Her Tube As Tightly As I Could Around Her Neck."