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Friday, March 31, 2006


Mainstream Notice.

For no particular reason I clicked on Blogs of Note on the Blogger start page. Hey! I recognize that website!


Congrats to Mark Jackson for being noticed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Card-driven wargames

I will be posting some reviews of some card-driven wargames in the future. Instead of explaining the basics of the system on each review I decided to record one explanation, and will link back to that explanation if people need a description of the basic system.

this is an audio post - click to play

Please note that my examples of events in a card driven game are just examples and were pulled out of my butt on the spur of the moment.

I don't have a lot of experience with the card driven games. I would consider re-recording this explanation if there are any glaring errors, or suggestions to make it better.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Settlers of Catan audio review.

this is an audio post - click to play

'bout time to do another one of these.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Back from Brimfrost/Twilight Struggle initial impression

Had fun. Met some new gamers.

The wife and I just attended the only game convention in Alaska. The whole affair went fairly smoothly. The place was packed on Saturday, mostly with CCG players. I think the organizers estimate there were 300+ attendees over the course of the weekend, not bad for a remote location like Alaska.

Arrived in Anchorage Friday afternoon. I didn't have to wait long to get into a game of Twilight Struggle with Sean, a fellow I had never met before. Twilight Struggle is a fairly new 2-player, card-driven game that I was only vaguely familiar with. Two players take the role of either the USSR or USA and vie for world domination in the Cold War era.

Twilight Struggle is basically an area-control based wargame. From time to time cards come up that cause the scoring of certain regions, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, etc. The player with the most influence in key nations (basically) scores points. Cards can be played for the event or played for the numerical value to gain influence in "puppet states", or played to advance in the space race, among other things.

Twilight Struggle was a game that was on my might-possibly-buy-list. I'm glad I got a chance to play a few rounds. I have since removed it from my might-possibly-buy-list. It isn't really a wargame, but it is as complex as a wargame. It is just too complex for the simple area control game it is at it's heart. There are no armies. There is no maneuver. Had the game not been released by GMT the game would have been met with a collective yawn from the wargame community.

Twilight Struggle might be a good gateway game to get wargamers familiar with the area-control mechanism and interested in much better German games.

We had to cut Twilight Struggle short in order to play in the Settlers tournament. Played 4 games of Settlers of Catan to 7 points, with open hands (resources were kept face up on the table). I wasn't thrilled about the modifications, but both rule changes were intended to speed things up.

I don't think the open hands rule served to speed things up much. I have seen various recommendations in the past that open hands be played when teaching the game to non-gamers. That might be valid, but when playing in a tournament, arguably, you would expect the participants to be familiar with the game. If you need an explanation of the rules prior to the game, you are probably in the wrong tournament.

The seven point rule did speed things up considerably. Actually, upon further reflection I kind of liked the seven point game. The seven point rule made the 4-player game feel more like a 3-player game, which is my favorite way to play Settlers. In a four player game the board tends to get very crowded and it is not unusual for one person to get completely screwed. The screwee is often not be able to expand his starting position beyond a couple very lean, poorly producing settlements.

The four preliminary games only lasted about 3 1/2 hours. The four players who made the final round agreed to play a normal game. I finished the tourney in second place. I came in second in 2 of the preliminary rounds and first in the other two. I finished third in the final game. I think Dame Coldfoot just missed the final round by a single point.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Busy week

Here's a shout out to any Alaskan boardgamers who might secretly read &Games.

Brimfrost, the only game convention in Alaska, will be this next weekend at the Egan Center. The convention is, as always, hosted by the Anchorage Miniature Gaming Club. The event is mostly miniature stuff, but there is an Advanced Civ game scheduled and a Settlers tourney. The usual ASL tourney was scrapped this year, but I know of at least 2 die hard ASL fans who will be there, it should be easy to get a game going if you are up for it. Word is that there might be a Twilight Imperium 3 game in the works if there is enough interest. I note that there is a Texas Hold 'Em thingee on the agenda also.

I'll be there. I'm always up for a boardgame. I'd say just look for the fat guy, but that wouldn't help. Look for my wife. That should narrow it down quite a little. I'm the fat guy with the female. If there are several women there, she's the one who is taller than you. That should narrow it down enough.

My name is Brian, btw.

Because I'll be in Anchorage for several days, I'm working some extra days this week. I'll be lucky to have time post much more than this.


Thursday, March 16, 2006


World Ice Art Championship

Went back to Ice Alaska to get some night pictures for you poor saps who live in warm climes. Places where the temperature actually rises above freezing in March just aren't meant for human habitation.

Man I hate hot weather, and I mean anything above 65 F. (What's that? About 15-20 C.?) But I won't go off on that tangent. Enjoy the pictures.

The long slide. Even adults were lined up for this one. It might be hard to tell from the photo, but it was built on a steep natural slope. And no, not a sideways slope

The ice is very clear. You can read a newspaper through a flat, polished slab. That characteristic makes the ice art difficult to photograph. The colored lights can really bring out the detail, but for every good picture you get several that just won't turn out. Or maybe it's just me.

Cute piece. The sculptor had has the scale wrong, though. Don't read any further if you don't care. A truck that size would strike a real moose below the knees. His legs would get knocked out from under him and several tons of moose would come directly through the windshield and onto the driver's lap. Happens all the time.

For more photos try these blogs.

Stumbled across this blog. It is a blog by one of the ice carvers.

I could not get a good picture of his working gear thingee, but it was pretty clever. I look forward to seeing what he can come up with next year.

http://squeegie.org/index.php Start here and click previous to see several days worth of pictures. She does close ups, but she is a much better photographer than I am.

And here http://movingnorth.blogspot.com/ Start on March 15th and work your way backward.

I assume anyone reading this saw my other photos on Gone Gaming, but here's the link anyway.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


The creative process

Or A Low Budget Facsimile Thereof

The other day I responded to some item in the Boardgamegeek forum. After responding I drove into town to pick up my kids from school. My comments were still rolling around my head. Before I got back home I had an entire blog entry composed in my head.

I sat down and started to write. I have been writing for a big chunk of two days and have composed a story that I am quite proud of. Unfortunately it isn't very good. With some editing and rewriting it might become good enough to post. It will never see the light of day in its current form, and yes, I reiterate that I am still quite proud of it.

The bright side is that I could probably get 2 or 3 articles of material out of my story. It is just a matter of extracting the story from the jumble I have already written.

The first blog article based upon my BGG comment will be over on the other blog on Friday, and no one is more surprised than I in the way the article turned out. If I didn't know better I would say you were crazy if you told me that the article was derived from this reply:

The real story behind Boardgamegeek is even more amazing than the myth perpetuated here on the site.

BGG was originally designed by Nikola Tesla, but like many of his inventions the idea was stolen and improved upon by Thomas Edison. Although Edison had this great website designed and ready to go Al Gore had not yet invented the internet, so boardgame geeks were forced to wait nearly another century, and suffer through such designs as Monopoly and Life before BGG was finally unveiled.

When it was unveiled in 2000 both Edison and Tesla were long since deceased and the rights to BGG had been acquired by Fnord. The shadowy Fnord organization fronted two unlikely hicks from Dallas to be the front men for the Boardgamegeek.

At about the same time BGG was unveiled Fnord created its Knizia subsidiary and found an unlikely mathematician to be the front man for what would soon become the leading think-tank in boardgame design.

The whole story can be found at http://www.fnord.com/ unless the shadowy Fnord Corporation decides to remove the information and replace it with a place holder until interest in the story subsides.

Monday, March 13, 2006



I just noticed the "Moderate Comments" button on 5minuteboardgamereviews. I did not realize I had it set so that I had to moderate the comments. I think I deleted a couple comments before I figured out what was going on.

Sorry 'bout that. I didn't even get a chance to read them. I will fix it.



this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, March 07, 2006



this is an audio post - click to play

So far I've only reviewed games that I was very familiar with. Indonesia is a game that I know I won't be able to play very often. I've played it a couple times recently and will probably be lucky to play again in the next 6 months. Not many people like this kind of game.

The game isn't as long as I might have implied in the review. It should only last 2-3 hours.

Indonesia does have some similarities with Roads and Boats, another Splotter/Spellen game, but overall is less fiddley, with less chance for bookkeeping mistakes.


Monday, March 06, 2006


Tigris and Euphrates (Euphrat & Tigris)

this is an audio post - click to play


You wouldn't even believe me...

As of right now anger has turned to pity.

I've been trying to write an update for an hour or more. I thought you might get as big a laugh out of this situation as I have. I tried posting some correspondence directly to the blog. I tried editing it. I tried using my own words. The more I try the more I feel as though I would be poking fun at the mentally ill.

While I was writing I decided to retain an attorney to field any further correspondence. When I made that decision I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I have been purposely avoiding the computer so I would not have to read more threats and ramblings of an ill person.

As soon as I made the decision, my anger faded instantly and was replaced by pity. I really feel a whole lot better. Maybe now I can get back to writing some game content instead of worrying about the next e-mail.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Holy Cow, He Called Me a F&@#ing A-Hole and threatened to sue my F-ing Ass

I've read accounts like this on Boardgamegeek for years now. I thought it was just... well... I didn't know what to think. You gotta take what you read on the net with a ten pound grain of salt, but there has to be some grain of truth to so many reports...

Ordered Antiquity from Boulder games a couple weeks ago. Ordered one game, got charged $36.78 for priority shipping which is the only shipping option to Alaska. A little steep, but OK, I'm going in with eyes wide open, and I'll have the game in 2-3 days.

Still I have no game. I went back and looked at my e-mail receipt and I noted that they sent the game parcel post.

(Disclaimer: I am well aware that Boulder games advertises low prices and recoups some of that by charging a little extra for shipping and handling. I am a capitalist, I understand marketing. I don't begrudge them making a buck. Like I said, I was prepared to pay an extra shipping fee with the understanding that the game was sent by priority mail.)

Well crap, no wonder I still don't have my game. $36.78 is a pretty hefty shipping charge for one game. Since the game wasn't sent by priority mail I decided to dispute the shipping charge. I called the credit card company and estimated that the difference in shipping is probably $15 to $20. The guy at the credit card company entered $20.

Of course $20 is probably a little on the high side, but I don't yet have the package to calculate the difference in postage. When I get the package I will correct that figure either up or down, I'm not interested in screwing anyone.

After I called the credit card company I called Boulder games to notify them of the reason for the dispute.

Holy Crap! What did Boulder Jim have to say, you ask? Don't ask.

I was leaving a message on the answering machine, I gave my name, address and such, as soon as I mentioned "dispute the charges" someone answered the phone and I got an earful.

Of course he told me that I should have e-mailed him first. Haaaaaaaaaaa, hooooooooo, haaaaaaaaaaaaa. No kidding. The guy who wouldn't respond to my inquiries for over a year as to why his software was charging me for "military base shipping" (which is outrageous, btw. Military shipping bumps a $40 game to $120 after shipping, no kidding, at least according to Boulder calculations) thinks I should trust him with another e-mail.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Any way, when I got done laughing (figuratively speaking) I told him that he had never responded to e-mails in the past. He called me a "F-ing liar", went on to say that anyone who states he doesn't respond to e-mail is a "God-Damned liar". No kidding.

It just degenerated from there. I put the phone down and ran to my room to grab a digital recorder. Couldn't find it, but when I got back he was still ranting, didn't even notice that I had been gone for nearly a minute, hadn't even taken a breath I don't think.

He could not get it through his head that I wasn't disputing the entire charge, just the excess shipping. He kept going on and on and on and on and on and on about how he was getting screwed out of $180.

I just hung up when he threatened to "sue my f-ing ass".

If you read this, just relax Jim. I'll take the package to the post office and ask how much it would have been to ship it with priority mail. I'll subtract that number from the actual shipping and dispute that amount. You'll still get your "handling charge". The only thing you lost is my business. Now that the military shipping glitch is fixed I might have utilized Boulder games more often.

As I said on the phone, in the off chance that the game was sent priority and the game is stuck in the postal system I'll drop the dispute.


Son of a gun. In the 20 minutes since I posted this "Here I Stand" just arrived from GMT games. It was sent 3 days ago via Priority Mail and cost $9 in postage. The total amount of my dispute with Boulder games will probably be less than $5.

For Five stinking dollars he lost my business and threatened to sue me.

You go Jim.

Next Edit:

Several years ago Boulder games published a game newsletter on their website. It was pretty good. I submitted an article that was published. Compensation for contributions was a $10 store credit. I tried to use my store credit on numerous occasions and it was never accepted. I contacted Boulder games 3 or 4 times asking about that. Do you think I ever got a response? I must have missed it because he responds to every e-mail.

What a loser. The more I think about it the madder I get. I'm going to get off the computer right now and go watch Veggie Tales. That should put me in a better mood.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


OK. I'm going to BGG.Con.

Anyone want to split a room?

I plan on attending from Thursday through Sunday afternoon. Just me, no wife nor kids. I don't plan on spending a lot of time in the room. I'm 36, and although I might have an occasional drink, getting drunk has less than no appeal to me.

Looks like the pre-tax rate for a room with two double beds is $436 for the 3 nights.



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