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Monday, March 28, 2005



Played a few more games of Hammer of the Scots, a block-wargame depicting the British/Scottish conflict during the "Brave Heart" era. My initial impression was that it was an alright game. Wow. When you play by the correct rules it gets even better.

We had missed the rule that units had to stop "immediately" upon crossing a red border. We knew that there were limits to the number of units that could cross the red and black borders, respectively, but it took a friend of ours who was familiar with Liberty to set us straight on the stopping rule. There was some other minor rule we had been misplaying, but the red border rule was the main one. It really improved the game. I will have to explore HotS some more, but I like it.

YINSH and GIPF have been hitting the table frequently, also. I had thought about buying the games in the GIPF series and other abstract games years ago, but didn't. At the time the only person I had to play 2-player abstracts with was Dame Koldfoot, and she hates them. I, myself, was cool to them, but I was interested in the GIPF games because of all the good comments they have recieved. I have since come around to liking quick 2-player abstracts (under an hour), and these fit the bill.

My local game store owner is trying to get DVONN and ZERTZ in to stock. These are the two other games in the GIPF series that are still in print. I will have to pick them up when he does. Yes, I know I can get them on line, but after I get done paying for shipping to Alaska, I find it preferable to just support the local guy. There is only one game store for 350 miles. Saving a couple bucks by bypassing him would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I appreciate having a relatively well-stocked game store in my town.

Played some more Advanced Squad Leader. The rules summary "cheat sheet" is double sided and written in very fine print. It is longer than the rules for many advanced games. I feel like I just move units around a little bit, roll the dice, and wait for some unexpected consequences from the dice roll.

"Ahhh, you rolled and eleven. That is bad. That means that not only do you miss, but your machine gun blows up, every counter in the stack needs to roll for a moral check, they are all automatically pinned, and you've activated my sniper."

See this tiny "3" on the machine gun chit? Right there. Here use my magnifying glass. That means that movement by any friendly unit within 3 hexes is halved if the gun blows up. And that's just off the top of my head. Let me check the rules, I think it is worse because the red die is the "6", and it happened on the second story of a stone building which is surrounded by woods, with an 8 leader that you had to CX to get there."

"I was wondering why you used that machine gun, if you had used this other machine gun you would have won on any roll but a "2"."

Little by little I am getting it, though. Might be able to take off the training wheels by next March.

Played Knizia's Lord of the Rings with the kids at the Boys and Girls club. I still think it is a lousy game, but it never ceases to amaze me how much kids like it. I will never play the game with adults again, it just bores me to tears. But kids... now that is another story. They really get into it. They get excited and get into arguments as they calculate the best move for the group. They really seem to like it.

I need to keep a tight rein on them to keep the game progressing in proper order. They always want to play out of turn, or play cards before drawing tiles. Their enthusiasm is quite contagious. As much as I want to loathe the game I find it to be fun with the right group of kids.

Gotta go. Today is "Seward's Day". It is an Alaska state holiday. Having some people over for games this afternoon, got to get ready.

Good gaming,

Monday, March 21, 2005


Learning ASL. "Feelings/Critical Thinking"

Seems as though Dame Koldfoot considered my cleavage comments from last week and decided to purchase a low-cut shirt. She wore it well, but she wore it to church. She also chose the most bitterly cold and windy day of the winter to wear it.

Temperatures are in the single digits and teens, which isn't out of line with the average March temperatures, but the wind is just screaming through the valley. We're not used to getting wind in these parts. It's definitely turtle-neck weather.

Played my first game of Advanced Squad Leader ever. Must admit I am kind of intimidated by the sheer volume of the rules, but the first game was relatively painless. It is as I expected, the rules are mostly intuitive once you have a grasp on the game. But I have a long way to go before I have a good grasp on the game. We didn't finish the game because we got a call from some other gamers who invited us over for some games across town. I expect we will try some more ASL tonight on our usual Monday evening game session, although I am hoping to get in a game of YINSH, which I bought the other day, and haven't had a chance to play.

Non-game stuff.

It's true, because I think it's true.

This absurdity has been creeping into our society for some time now. I'm not talking exclusively about politics. Commentators on both the right and left have long accused the other side of not facing the facts and operating only on emotion since there has been politics.

Several decades ago the U.S. school system was hi-jacked by social activists. Today, something like 90+ percent of college and high school grades are an "A" or "B". Ninety plus percent of students are told by their teachers that they are above average or exceptional and have little incentive to improve themselves. Not hurting the student's feelings has become more important than giving meaningful grades.

All too many of these kids and adults believe that they are exceptional. They need to be challenged to think critically and to defend and debate their beliefs. People who challenge their opinions are seen as hostile, or bigots. They are utterly befuddled when you ask "Why do you hate Bush?" or "Why do you hate Hillary?"

Bush is a liar or Hillary is a communist. End of conversation. Of course, they don't see themselves as being befuddled, they see you as a brainwashed fool.

Please note, the preceding is true because I think it's true, AND because it's my blog.

You may not place as much blame on the school system as I do. To be sure, I see the school as one of several reasons. This isn't the forum to thoroughly discuss the issue, it just so happens that the topic is on my mind today.

Good gaming

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Hunters and Gatherers review. HotS.

Had the chance to play Hunters and Gatherers Carcassonne several more times since my initial comments. I find that I continue to enjoy the game. It isn't a game that I would waste time playing with my serious game buddies, although they introduced me to it, but it is a good game for casual gamers or a mixed group of casual gamers and serious gamers.

The added elements: bonus tiles, huts, no scoring for incomplete items, tigers, and fish all work together to give added dimension to the regular game. It turns regular Carcassonne from a party game to a light (quite light) strategy game. The H&G version is much more pleasing to look at, also. The hideous colors of the original have been replaced with more aesthetically pleasing colors. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I think Hunters and Gatherers may replace Settlers of Catan as my go-to game to introduce new gamers to German games. Not that it is better than Settlers, but my enthusiasm for Settlers is waning due to excessive play.

Brief review of H&G Carc.

In H&G players draw and place tiles to create a land of forests, meadows, and rivers. Players must place new tiles adjacent to already placed tiles in a logical manner (i.e. forest sides must be placed next to forest sides, rivers must continue through the next tile). After placing a tile the player has the option of placing a meeple (pawn), or a hut on that tile. The meeple must be placed on the forest, meadow or the river. The hut may only be placed on the river. When the forest or river is complete, and there are pawns on said forest or river, they will score the owner some points.

When the forest or river is completed the meeple(s) are removed from that particular forest or river (provided that there are any), returned to the owner and the points are calculated. Each river scores one point for each fish in the lakes at either end of the river, plus one point for each tile that the river runs through.

Each forest scores 2 points for each tile that the forest occupies. Plus, if there is a gold nugget on any of the forest segments a bonus tile is drawn. Bonus tiles are a separate set of tiles that have some good stuff on them. One of the bonus tiles depicts a shine, if a meeple is place on the shrine it locks in the adjacent meadow so that only the owner of the shrine can score that meadow. Another bonus tile depicts a fire. If the fire tile is adjacent to a meadow the saber-tooth tigers in that meadow don't count against deer in the meadow for meadow scoring (see below). There are a dozen or more bonus tiles.

Each meadow is scored at the end of the game. Meadows are scored differently. For each animal, other than saber-tooth tigers, that is contained in that meadow the player with a meeple in that meadow scores 2 points. For each tiger in the meadow one deer is not counted.

At the end of the game each hut is scored. Huts score one point for each fish in the entire river system. Incomplete rivers and forest are not scored at the end of the game as they are in the original Carcassonne.

Doesn't sound that different from the original Carcassonne, does it? On its face I should despise the game in the same manner that I despise Carcassonne. But, got to say it is a good light game.

Other notes of interest to me.

Got to play Hammer of the Scots with one of my serious game buddies. I played the Scots. Got my ass kicked in short order. I've been hinting that he would like the game for a year or more. He is an old-school hex and counter guy. He looooooooves ASL and the like. (As a side note I agreed to learn ASL, will experience my first ASL butt-kicking this weekend.) HotS is an enjoyable wargame. Each side has vastly different abilities, and obstacles, yet it is fairly well balanced. I've read a few reviews that give the advantage to the English, I suspect they are correct, yet it isn't an overwhelming advantage. I like exploring asymmetrical sides.

Game night at the Boys and Girls Club has been disappointing for the last month or month and a half. All the kids that routinely played games ceased attending the club on a regular basis, and there were 4 of them. Several of the kids that occasionally play have continued to occasionally play, but it hasn't been uncommon for me to be playing with only one other player. Had no kids interested in playing on one occasion.

Part of the problem is in my schedule. I had been working the night shift, so I was always there on the same day each week, Thursday. Got switched to evenings and have been working about every other Thursday evening. That puts a crimp in things.

Heroscape continues to draw some interest, so I've been bringing that regularly. Star Wars: Epic Duels is also popular.

Good gaming,

P.S. Dame Coldfoot has been hinting that she has some good comments to post concerning cleavage on my previous entry. Just hasn't had the time to post it yet. Thought I will would put the pressure on her by making note of it in this entry.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Always summer down south.

Back from my first visit to Brimfrost, the only game convention in Alaska. Had fun. There were lots of miniature games going, as was to be expected, as it was hosted by the Anchorage Miniature Game Club. There was an ASL tournament, HeroClix tourney, quite a few CCGs and only a few board games.

Enjoyed being in Anchorage for a few days. One learns to live without the simple pleasures when living in the interior of Alaska. One of those simple pleasures that I had forgotten existed is cleavage. In the land that has 6 solid months of winter we are lucky to get 3 months of cleavage each year.

In Fairbanks turtle-neck sweaters are the fashion norm. Even the women of questionable morality wear flannel shirts (buttoned all the way) and Carhartt overalls. If you get a flash of underwear it is thermal long johns, or the arms of a synthetic undershirt being worn under a short sleeved shirt.

In the summer when we have nice warm +60 F. temperatures, the tourists are wearing sweaters and Columbia cold weather gear, and the local women of questionable morality are still wearing Carhartts and flannel.

Wouldn't live anywhere else, though.

As we were getting ready to leave, my five year-old was putting on her snow boots. I told her just to wear shoes, as she probably wouldn't need the cold weather boots because we were going such a long ways away. She thought about it for a moment and asked "Is it always summer in Anchorage, dad?"

I thought about it for a moment and responded, "Basically."

I was able to get in a couple games of Puerto Rico, Carcassonne Hunters and Gatherers, Ticket to Ride, Bang and Magic. No new games, although I haven't played Magic: The Gathering in several years.

Picked up Mare Nostrum at the local game store (Hobbycraft). Anxious to give it a try.

Looking forward to the next Brimfrost. Perhaps I will volunteer to run some board games at the next one, but only if it is held at that mall. You know, the mall with all the cleavage.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Yes, I am an idiot.

Figuring out how to add pictures to the blog is really pissing me off. It can't be hard. I follow the step by step instructions and get the "Page can't be displayed" message.

Now that I got that out of my system.

Planning on spending the weekend at the game convention in Anchorage (Brimfrost). ASL tournament, Warhammer stuff, Heroclix, and some other stuff that really doesn't interest me. But, I'm hoping to get in a few boardgames and meet some people who I know. Mrs. Coldfoot is looking forward to the trip also. Should be fun.

Here's the link to the Anchorage Miniature Club, they are hosting the convention. There is a rather poor schedule posted if anyone reading this is in the area this weekend. It's being held at the Dimond Center Mall. http://home.gci.net/~stevepr/AMGC.html

Good gaming,

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Unexpected evening off. Some initial impressions.

Went into work on noon Saturday expecting to work 12 hours. Got off at 7 p.m. Went home, the old lady was studying for a professional exam that she takes in a couple weeks, so I took the kids and went to a friend's house for the evening in order to give her some study time alone.

My friend has Medina. I've been wanting to play it since I found out he had bought it. Got my chance. Played with him and one of his kids. Wasn't too impressed.

Medina is theoretically a sound, pure strategy game. Players have an identical assortment of pieces to place on the board, they place two each turn. Placement will tax your brain, there is a quite a bit of strategy to consider. Play is purely strategy, there are no random factors to consider. The game lasts about 30 minutes. Scoring is simple and straightforward.

The problems? For starters it only plays with 3 or 4 players, not 2, not 5, and especially not 6. Only 3 or 4. Secondly it is very dry. Dry, dry, dry. The theme of building a city is not very convincing. It is an abstract game with simple rules. Also, it seems as if it is a contest of attrition. It seems to me as though the first person to make a move for points loses. Perhaps this is a brilliant aspect of a brilliant game that I will appreciate more with further plays, I will have to report back on that.

I do recognize that it is a gamer's game, and will appeal to lots of people who appreciate quality games. The design is solid, the components are quality, and thought is required. I just didn't find my first game to be fun, nor do I expect subsequent plays to be fun. I could be wrong, though.

After Medina we switched to Blood Feud in New York, a new game from Eagle games. This game flew in under my radar. I usually am up on upcoming releases, this one took me by surprise. I hadn't heard of it until I saw it at the store.

It is a game that just looks cool. The cover art is cool, and the theme is interesting. BFiNY is a simple, war game, comparable to Axis and Allies or Samurai Swords with fewer units. Players control mobsters in NYC. Each player starts in a small area of a borough and attempts to expand his control throughout the city. Players can build and control illegal enterprises, bribe police precincts, ransom opponent's family members, hire more muscle, and buy speed boats and helicopters.

The mobster theme works quite well. Perhaps too well. The goal is to eliminate the other players. Player elimination is a problem in the game. However, in a mob-war game you might be able to overlook it for the sake of theme.

We played with three, six can play the game. We just played a couple rounds to get a feel for the game, we had no intention of finishing it when we started. It definitely is a game I wouldn't want to play seriously with fewer than 5 players. The more the better. My initial impression is that it is a fun game, but a dice-fest with length issues (loooong game, not an 8+ hour game, but a 6+ hour game that lasts a couple hours longer than the fun it provides).

Both games will require more plays.

Good gaming,

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