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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Goooood picture of the northern lights

Click on over to Fish Taxi and check out this shot of the northern lights. http://fishtaxi.blogspot.com/2005/11/northern-nights.html

The northern lights are hard to capture on film. Too hard for my point and shoot camera, anyway. I envy people who are able to capture them on film.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I've got some pictures to post later in the week, but for now let's stick to the big news...

...which is Thornquist's new site. Boardgame News he calls it.

And Rick, I'll go ahead and contribute with faith that it will be money well spent. Just tell me, where is the "Contributions Section" that you mentioned in the introduction?

Never mind. I now see it. It is at the top of the page.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Coldfoot...

Advanced Civ session report.

The big Advanced Civilization game lasted about 9 hours. Not bad. There were 6 players. One was a newbie, another (the only female playing) had only played once and had mostly forgotten the rules. When we were choosing our civilizations she couldn't find a civilization color that agreed with her, so she just went with brown. We tried to warn her that Africa was pretty tough to play, but brown was the only color available that she could tolerate.

I probably came in 3rd, maybe 4th, but I went to lay down on the couch during the last round of commodity trading and fell asleep. They tried to wake me up, but I couldn't drag my tail off the couch, so I never made my final purchases.

That was pretty weak on my part, I know, but I had been at work the previous night and was dog-tired by the end of the game.

The game started with a major border dispute between me (Assyria) and Babylon. Babylon proposed a border that gave him the Tigris and Euphrates valley and the tier of provinces to the north. He was serious!!?? I found the proposal so preposterous that I wasn't even going to argue about it. Babylon was able to establish a border with Egypt easily enough. I pointed out that he would have 12 city sites and I would have 7, possibly 8 if Thrace and I could come to an agreement. I got a lecture on how unimportant city sites were to the overall strategy of the game. I proposed he give me a couple city sites since they were of so little value. He refused. Tempers flared. Battle lines were set.

When Babylon bought metalworking for his first civilization advance I was forced to follow suit. This totally blew my plan to follow Cavedog's card buying strategy. That really stung because I had enough points to buy both Medicine and Mysticism for my initial purchase. It really, really stung because I got hit hard with Epidemic early in the game and Medicine could have saved my bacon.

As it turned out, I was the first player to get hit with Civil War. I was never able to recover from that blow. I started falling behind, and was never able to catch up. I only had 9 cities once in the game, and I think I only had 8 cities one other time. At one point in the middle of the game I was hit with both Iconoclasm & Heresy, and Superstition. At the end of that round I had no cities and went backward on the progress chart.

Iconoclasm & Heresy and Superstition formed a pretty heavy blow, easily heavier than Civil War, from which I had only just recovered. Even though I had purchased the Architecture advance I was unable to capitalize with it. Architecture is the advance that allows you to pay 1/2 the cost of building a city out of your treasury. At the end of that round, I only had 2 tokens in my treasury. I was only able to build 3 cities on the next round, that gave me 6 more tokens in my treasury, not exactly a wellspring from which to re-build cities.

I was no threat to anyone for most of the game. As it turned out, Babylon never needed to come north of the Tigris and Euphrates valley in order to win the game. Psssssh. As if he would have needed to if I had been strong, Ha!!!

The newbie played Illyria. He was kind of timid and let Thrace dominate in that corner of the world. I was too weak to pressure Thrace from the other side. Thrace came in second place, although he only missed first place by a few points.

Africa and Illyria usually had about 4-5 cities on the board for most of the day, unless they were the beneficiary of a Civil War calamity. Neither fared too well.

Egypt was Egypt. Sat back, protected what he started with, stayed on good terms with Babylon and tried to cruise to a victory. He was too timid with trading, or he would have easily won. He was a nice guy, but too honest for Civ.

The only combat involved re-conquering cities lost to calamities. That is the main reason that the game lasted for a mere 9 hours. There's nothing like combat to lengthen a game of Civilization.

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving, whether or not you are from a country that celebrates it,


Tuesday, November 22, 2005



Spiel des Jahres winner 2003

Played several times with 3 players.

Does it get better with more players? Or was 2003 a very weak year for games?

The consensus seems to be that it is at its best with 3 or 4 players. I had so little fun that I hesitate to give it another chance.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Geek Score


For those of you living in a cave, or reading this because of the Alaska connection, or my mom, Mark Jackson and Co. ventured to poll some prominent boardgamers to rank the 100 best games ever. http://fluffysnoop.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_fluffysnoop_archive.html
Anyone else own more games than they have played?

A geek score is the number of games you own in the top 100 plus the number you have played. I own 56 of the top 100 games, I've only managed to play 48. There are only a couple of the 48 I do not own.


Friday, November 18, 2005




Average rating on BGG as of 1:25 a.m. AST: 8.64
Former champion and now #1 contender Puerto Rico: 8.63

You will notice PR is still ranked #1. That is because a Bayesian average is used to rank games. Using a standard average Caylus edges Puerto Rico.

Caylus is the game designed by the Frenchman, William Attia, I referenced in a recent blog. I'll have to give it a try.

As if I needed to add that last sentence.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Any Montana Gamers Reading This?

We (the family and I) will be in Missoula and Helena for a few weeks in December. If the weather is good there is a chance we could find an excuse to drive up to the northeastern part of the state. I've already made tentative arrangements to play games with a fellow BGGer in Missoula. Anyone else available? I can find an excuse to travel pretty far for a game, certainly a hundred miles as long as the roads are good. I wouldn't walk across the street to play Dungeon Twister or Monopoly, though. Drop me a line.


I met a gamer at the game store the other day. Paul Somers’ article on Gone Gaming came to mind. I felt like a Middle Schooler asking a girl for a date to the dance. Paul had it right. All us geeks need to get together and agree on a secret handshake or something. It shouldn't be too hard to get everyone to agree, after all we all agree that Francis Tresham is the best game designer ever, and Tigris and Euphrates is the best game ever.

The fellow at the game store seemed relatively stable, so we made a date to play some games. Originally, I told him that we would probably play some 4-player German games such as Puerto Rico since my wife would be playing. He was fine with that. Turns out Dame Coldfoot was feeling under the weather and was unable to play. That left me, Lance and the new guy. Lance isn’t too enthused with most 3-player games so that limited our choices. I brought San Marco and Through the Desert, the new guy was still agreeable and eager to play.

As it happened, another guy showed up, so we were able to play a 4-player game. We decided on Sword of Rome, a wargame, and he was still agreeable. After playing a few rounds he made the comment that he would like to buy a copy of the game. That’s always a good sign. We weren’t able to finish because I wussed out and had to take a nap before work, but it looks like the new guy might be a good fit in our group.

I'll next see him during the yearly, Advanced Civilization game on Thanksgiving weekend.

Seems like a nice guy. He’s not any geekier than the rest of us, he has a job and doesn’t live with his parents. He grew up on Avalon Hill games, but in recent years has been involved with computer games, RPGs and collectible fare. He isn’t too familiar with modern German games, nor card-driven wargames, but he wants to learn.


Monday, November 14, 2005


Ra Ra Ree!!!!!

Finally got to play the Knizia classic "Ra" the other night. I discovered German boardgames too late to get in on the original print run released in 1999. I bought the Uberplay re-print as soon as it came into stock in my local game store a month or so ago.

I struggled through the rules on various occasions and wasn't too impressed. Ra did not seem like my kind of game as judged by the rules. It felt like it would be a game with too many ways to score points, thus have little tension. Bidding chips seemed too limited, although I do find cut-throat bidding to make the best auction games. (Cut-throat means; you only get one chance to bid, so you better make that bid count).

Although I wanted to play Ra, the rules left me cold and I didn't lobby hard for it. I now wish I had played sooner. It is a fine game.

Scoring in Ra is based upon tiles that you win in auction. Nile and Flood tiles score one point each, but you need to have at least one Flood tile for the Nile tiles to score. Pharaoh tiles earn you points if you have the most, and lose you points if you have the least. You must finish each round with a Civilization tile in your possession or you lose points. If you have 3 different Civilization tiles you score points. Gold tiles score 3 points. God tiles allow you to take tiles without winning an auction. Monuments only score at the end of the game, but are valuable if you can collect at least 6 different types. There are also disaster tiles, which if won in an auction, require you to discard tiles, and Ra tiles that force an auction when drawn.

Nile, Pharaoh, and Monument tiles are retained from round to round. Each round Flood, Civilization, and God tiles are discarded.

On his turn a player can draw a tile or call for an auction (or use a God tile, but that is infrequent). If a player draws a tile he places it in the auction track. If a player draws a Ra tile an auction is forced.

In the auction each player, starting with the player to the left of the person initiating the auction and continuing clockwise, bids once. High bidder takes all the tiles and the Sun token on the auction board.

Sun tokens are valued 1-16. The value of the Sun is the value of a bid. For example: a player has 3 Suns numbered 3, 7 and 12, he would have to bid either 3, 7, or 12 on his turn if he chose to bid. The highest bidder takes the current Sun token from the board and places it face down in front of himself, it won't be used until the next round. He then places the token he used to bid with on the board to replace the one he drew. The person winning the next auction will win the just placed Sun token.

After a player wins 3 auctions he is out of Sun tokens and may no longer take part in either drawing tiles nor the auctions until the next round. The game is played over 3 rounds or "epochs". At the start of a new round players turn over their spent sun tokens and the player with the highest sun token starts the next round.

The round ends when the tenth Ra tile is drawn, or every player's Sun tokens are turned over.

I really liked Ra, as did all the other players. After the first game a second was immediately called for. The auctions were not tension free as I had predicted after reading the rules. There was quite a bit of stress involved in calculating the value of tiles during an auction, not to mention strategy in bidding. Each player can only win 3 auctions each round, so you have limited chances to get the tiles you need. I thought the God tiles were very weak, but in our games they never seemed to come up early enough in the epoch to be utilized.

Ra might be good enough to make me rethink my current game ratings. I suspect that Through the Desert will fall to a 9 and Ra may enter my rankings with a solid 10. Although I really like TtD, and the games have absolutely nothing in common, Through the Desert starts to fade in the presence of Ra. Ra does not require as much strategy as TtD, but is a gamer's game with a much higher "fun factor".

Dame Coldfoot has not yet played it, but I predict it will be a smashing success with her. That is significant. The only other games we agree are upper-tier games are Puerto Rico and El Grande, and I don't think she considers any of the Knizia games to be top notch.

Good Gaming,

Monday, November 07, 2005


Settlers, Historische Szenarien #2

Got to play a new game this weekend. At least it was new to me. Played Settlers Historical Scenario #2, The Great Wall. The jury is still out, but I didn't care for it as much as other variations. It was leaps and bounds better than Cities and Knights, but far short of the original Settlers, Settlers of Canaan, and both Historical Scenario #1 variations.

There are two variations included with the expansion, The Great Wall and Trojan War. The board has one map on each side, and different components are included for each scenario. The base game of Settlers is required to play. Both variations are only recommended for 4 or 6 players, so (it should go without saying) you will also need the 5-6 player expansion for the original game if you want to play with 6 players.

As far as gameplay was concerned, I didn't like the fact that the board was so crowded. Take that with a grain of salt, though. I prefer 3 player Settlers to 4 player Settlers simply because the board is less crowded, and I seem to be in the minority with that particular preference. Even so, it seemed like growth options were very, very limited. Players start with 3 settlements, one of which must be placed along the Great Wall at the edge of the board. The board seemed to give a significant advantage to the player who got off to the best start, while the other players wallowed in poverty.

The game did have some interesting concepts. First, there was no robber. A pirate ship could be placed to block access to ports, instead of the usual land hexes that the robber would affect. Second, Huns were placed just north of the Great Wall every time a settlement was built or upgraded to a city. Every time a die roll matched the space on which the Huns were placed they migrated down to the Wall. If that section of the wall wasn't strong enough to hold them back the player responsible for that section of the wall earned negative victory points. Basically, if the wall was at level one it would hold back one Hun. Huns exceeding this number stormed over the wall and were placed in land hexes south of the wall rendering them useless, exactly like a robber.

Interesting version, I will have to try it again. It is not so good that I am going to wait to try the The Trojan War scenario, but I will get back to it eventually.

Note. As far as I know this expansion, as well as the first Historical Scenario, is only available in German. You will need to download English rules if you are like me and mono-lingual.

Good Gaming,

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Gonna slow down on blogging until gaming picks up.

Dang water pipes were frozen when we woke this morning. It was -30 F.* Normally the water isn't an issue until it gets to -50 F. I hope this isn't a harbinger of things to come, or it could be a long winter. I think the main problem is that we haven't had as much snow as we should. It isn't even ankle deep yet. It isn't even deep enough to shovel up around the base of the house for insulation. If we don't get more snow for insulation the septic system could freeze, and once the septic freezes it is just a hassle for the rest of the winter.


I've alluded to it a couple times, but it has been a slow couple months of gaming around here. Since I switched over to full-time nights I haven't been able to make the Boys and Girls Club on Thursday evenings. No matter how hard I try to sleep earlier in the day, I can't get to sleep until late afternoon. That puts a crimp into evenings at Boys and Girls Club, not to mention every other evening of the week.

I've been working nights for years and have never had this problem before. I can usually sleep whenever I decide to sleep. Guess I'm getting old.

I've been feeling remiss with so few game related posts in the last few weeks. I usually have no problem posting at least 2, 3, even 4 times each week if you count Gone Gaming. Lately, I'm having trouble cranking out more than the one article I'm expected to write on Friday for Gone Gaming. I decided that I'm not going to worry about it and cut back on my blogging until I have some suitable game content.

I'm sure my blogging will pick up again when they get new staff hired and I'm able to resume my old schedule.

Harvey stopped by for games unexpectedly the other day. Played 2-player Samurai. It ended in a dead tie, we thought that was highly unlikely. We rehashed the game and determined that we made no mistakes, the game was dead even.

I then introduced him to GIPF. He has played ZERTZ, YINSH and DVONN before, so GIPF didn't have much of a learning curve. He is a quick study on games. Strategy that usually only becomes apparent to me after a couple games, he picks up on right away. I won, but only because of a misunderstanding. I had explained that one of the ways to win was to capture all of your opponent's GIPF pieces. He didn't realize that only the stacked pieces were the GIPFs, he thought all the pieces were called GIPFs. Despite this misunderstanding the game drug on for quite a while. He probably could have won earlier had he been clear on the proper terminology.

Good gaming,

* For those of you who double check my claim of -30; note that it is almost always 10 degrees colder east of Fairbanks than in town, especially when the temperature drops below 0 F. The temperature difference is related to elevation. It is almost always 5 degrees colder just outside of North Pole (the name of a town east of Fairbanks) than in North Pole. The record cold temperature is listed as -28. As I write this it is -18 in Fairbanks, -22 in North Pole, and -28 in my neighborhood just outside of North Pole.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Inside joke of the day.

In fact, I doubt the 1.2% of the population that would find this funny even read this blog.

Had some sage-flavored coffee at work the other night. Yes, sage. One guy made a strong pot of coffee and the air was dense with the smell of sage. We started referring to it as the “sweat-lodge blend”.

Background: For those of you who are unfamiliar, sage smoke is an important element in many Native American ceremonies. And yes, sage coffee tastes as bad as it sounds.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Post-Halloween Wrap-Up

Had our first trick-or-treater in years. "Bob the Builder", aka "Boy" from the Life in Alaska blog, showed up with his dad at about 8 p.m. Despite the fact that we were completely unprepared for trick-or-treaters Dame Coldfoot was able to scrounge up a can of spaghetti sauce and some pastel camels she said were mints. He popped one into his mouth, Dame Coldfoot assured him it would soften up after a while.

The next time you hear about "crazies" who ruin Halloween for everyone, think "Dame Coldfoot".

I missed the whole event, 'cause I was napping prior to going to work at 11 p.m.


I got a private message from some-unnamed-body asking if I really was a nurse and a cab driver. I deleted the message by mistake before responding, so I will respond here. Hopefully, the some-unnamed-body reads this blog as well as the good blog from which this question arises.

I plead guilty on both counts, although I am a Low Paid Nurse (LPN) not an RN. I haven't driven a cab since I walked off the job a few months ago (read about that here, don't confuse it with the story about getting fired from my third job for counseling my boss on her unprofessional attitude). The dishonest dispatcher was recently fired, so I am looking forward to the day another full-time nurse is hired so I can cut back to part-time nursing and resume cab driving a few days each week.

Good gaming

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