Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Saturday, 1 February 2003

A Hard Kid Day's Night

Seattle Cosmic met again on the first of February at the domicile of Dave Adams and Kathy Kizer. Present were David_Adams? and Kathy Kizer (of course), Steve_Dupree?, Nat Dupree, ChadUrsoMcDaniel, Ron_Hale-Evans?, Meredith_Hale?, and Kisa_Griffin?, for a total of eight adults and various small children. Notably absent were Dave Howell and Eric Yarnell, whom we were expecting but who evidently got tied up.

Historical note: early that morning the space shuttle Columbia had exploded, and it was the topic of some discussion at game night. Meredith used to work for the Challenger Program at the Museum of Flight (in which she simulated shuttle missions for kids), and she said there would probably be some significant changes made in the program now that two shuttles had exploded.



Game night started at 5:00, but I didn't show up until around 6:00. In the meantime, Dave, Kathy, Steve, Nat, and Chad started a game of Zombies!!!?.

1. Modular Zombies board.
2. Zombies players. Clockwise from back: Dave thirsts for brains, Nat, Kathy, Chad, Steve.
3. There is some evidence of glowing zombies, but research is ongoing and inconclusive.

Zombies!!! is a sort of Night of the Living Dead scenario in which players slog through a sea of undead, the winner being either the last human standing or the first to reach the heliport on the edge of town and escape. Kathy was the winner this time; she made it to the heliport. She was awarded a fighter jet screensaver from the Museum of Flight; appropriate, I guess, considering how she won the game.

Zombies!!! has received extremely mixed reviews on the Internet. Chad remarked to me that he thought the game was too random and he wouldn't play it again. I'd be interested in hearing more comments from Chad or from the other players.

Some of the zombie figures in the game glow in the dark. Chad tried to snap a photo of this phenomenon with a slow exposure on his camera a couple of times; you can see the results above.


The goal of the game, properly called Zombies!!!, is to either be the first to kill 25 zombies or make it to the Helipad. A player never truly dies (apparently); the zombies just carry them back to the town square, steal all their possessions, nurse them back to health and leave them with 3 bullets.

I am not going to defend Zombies!!! too strenuously. It's certainly not the most strategic game ever. But if you shorten the game by removing some tiles, as we did, and try not to take it too seriously, it's a fun, light game - especially great played with the lights low. But you have to be in the mood for it.



While I was waiting either for the Zombies game to end or someone else to show up, I read The Zap Gun by Philip K. Dick and leafed through one of Chad's copies of the rules for Netrunner, which Chad and I (as well as the absent Dave and Eric) had been planning to play: 60 pages of rules, and written in an extremely confusing style, meant to simulate hackers breaking into and defacing a corporate database. I managed to make it through the glossary at the front, then gave up.

Around 7:00, the Zombies!!! game ended and Mer and Kisa showed up, with Kisa's daughter Alexandra in tow, and a box of Krispy Kremes as a bonus. Chad and I started a (double) game of Entropy, while everyone else except Kathy started a game of El_Grande?. Since Entropy has complex strategy emerging from very simple rules, Chad and I were most of the way through our first Entropy game before Dave was finished explaining the rules to El Grande.

Entropy is one of the GamesWePlay, so rather than describing it in detail, I'll point you toward the Entropy Wiki page. I'll just note that I beat Chad 95-86. It was possibly my highest score yet, but remember that this was Chad's first game; he did extremely well for someone who had never played before.

Chad piecepushes.


Ron H-E 95
Chad McD? 86

I disclaimed a prize, unless Dave and Eric showed up and Dave added copies of his book Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility to the prize bag, as he hinted he might do, in which case I was going to snag one.


El Grande

Meanwhile, the five other players were starting El_Grande? at Table 1. The last time we played this, I tried a simple "mechanical" strategy of dumping all my pieces in the Castillo, and came within one or two points of winning the game, much to the chagrin of Tim Higgins, who said he probably wouldn't play the game again if it could be broken that easily; this time I declined to play. (Nat wondered how effective my strategy would have been if everyone had used it, a point I tried to make to Tim at the time.)

1. El Grande players. Clockwise from back left: Chad observes, Dave, Kisa, Mer, Steve, Nat.
2. The Castillo, the cause of so much heartache.

El Grande is perhaps the archetypal MajorityPlacementGame?. It also has a King who comes around to inspect your provinces, leading Chad to wonder how many other games there are in which a King tours the board, causing trouble for the players. We came up with Torres? and Carolus_Magnus?, and there are probably others. ("And I would have won the game too, if it hadn't been for ThatMeddlingKing!")

Steve Dupree was the big winner tonight, with a score 25 points higher than his closest rival. He was awarded a yoyo shaped like a US dime coin.


Steve D 130
Dave A 105
Mer H 99
Nat D 95
Kisa G 87



1. Ron ponders. (Note extremely rare view of his head.)
2. The hive forming in the center with the players' unplaced pieces on either side.

El Grande was still going on. Chad and I wanted to play Netrunner, but it was 8ish and we were still hoping Dave and Eric would show up to play too. Netrunner is a two-player CollectibleCardGame, but it had been about two years since Chad had played, and he found he didn't have any Corporate decks ready. We were also hoping Dave and Eric could clarify some rules for us.

In the short run, we decided to play Chad's game Hive? instead, which I had never played but had been hoping to play for months. (Chad told me he had already played about a dozen games.) Hive is a quick game, but has some depth, despite how light it seems at first glance. It's a sort of chess variant with stackable hexagonal pieces. Each piece depicts an insect and each type of piece has a different power of movement. The object is to surround the enemy's Queen, which Chad did to mine fairly quickly.

Chad was awarded a copy of Countermoves issue 3. I'm interested in hearing how people like the copies of Countermoves we've been giving as prizes. Chad said he enjoys his issues a great deal, but not everyone seems to. To me, the average issue of Countermoves contains more of interest than the average issue of Games that you can buy on the newsstand, but your mileage may vary.



Around 8:45, Chad decided to build a Corporate Netrunner deck for himself from scratch, so we could finally play the game.

Much like Entropy, Netrunner is an UnbalancedForcesGame? in which each player has different goals and mechanics. One player is the Runner, a hacker who attempts to break into the database of a Corporation and liberate the Corporation's secret plans, known as "Agendas". If the Corporation can enact seven points of Agendas, it wins; if the Runner can expose seven points of the Corporation's Agendas, the Runner wins. Also, if the Runner can force the Corporation to empty its draw pile, she wins, and if the Corporation can force the Runner to empty her hand, the Corporation wins.

Hackers use "decks" (computers) with "Icebreakers" to crack the "ICE" (Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics) protecting the corporate databases. Hackers run the risk of "flatlining" if the ICE is too powerful and fries their brains. As you might guess, Netrunner draws heavily on William Gibson's SF novel Neuromancer.

A complete Netrunner game, like a complete Entropy game, consists of two games in sequence, with each player taking first one side, then the other. In the first game we played, I was the Runner and Chad was the Corporation. We played a simplified game, without Tags (traces that the Corporation can place on the Runner). I won as Runner by saving up Bits (money) and buying a really heavy-duty Icebreaker and a medium-weight Icebreaker with a different function, which together were enough to crack two of Chad's data forts and obtain seven points of Agendas.

Chad and I agreed that we probably weren't doing the game justice, since it had been so long since he had played, and I didn't understand all of the rules yet, so he loaned me a rulebook and some Corporate cards from which to build a deck for next week.

See you next week... Runner scum.



Netrunner and El Grande finished about the same time. Nat and I commiserated about the managerial nonsense that goes on in the health care profession (my sister is a psychotherapist, and I have heard some bloodcurdling stories). Then Dave, Steve, and Nat started a game of Fluxx.

Fluxx used to be a Seattle Cosmic favourite: an opener, a closer, and a filler. However, most of the group members seem to have grown tired of it, and it hasn't hit the table for months of not years; Fluxx games have a certain sameness after a while. Nat Dupree had never played, however, so Dave and Steve decided to demo it for her.

Newbie Nat studies her cards.

Everyone else watched for a few minutes, then Mer and Kisa left around 9:55, claiming it had been a "hard kid day". Indeed, all the kids present had been especially rambunctious; at times it was hard to play for the kids screaming and the parents yelling at them to be quiet. Dave said, "Apparently the fact we're playing Fluxx has driven everyone away!" but for me it was more the noise level. (At one point Kathy turned on an ice crusher -- or was it a bone saw? -- that didn't help either.)

I left a few minutes later, at 10:00. Chad promised he'd fill me in on games that happened after I left. He tells me Dave won the Fluxx game.


I like Fluxx less than Zombies!!!?, since it always (to me) seems to degenerate at some point to "draw some number of cards and immediately play them." It seems fun enough the first few times, so I wanted Nat to get a taste. She says the game was "interesting" (including the quotes).


Burn Rate

Dave convinces an opponent of the viability of of a dubious business plan.

Next up, Chad, Dave, Kathy, Nat, and Steve played Burn_Rate?, the last-corporation-standing game of Internet IPOs. Chad left around 11:00, since he was about to be eliminated anyway. He says it looked as though Steve was positioned to win, and that his corporation might even be profitable, quite a feat in either the real or imaginary Internet economy.

See you next week at Tim's!


Burn Rate was the last game of the evening, and yes, Steve won. Although Nat had a few late funding rounds which kept her in the game to within a few $ of Steve before finally fading away.


Very soon after Chad left, I got saddled with a whole pile of Bad Ideas, and I had no Hire cards to get the engineers to work on them. My cash plummeted and Nat kept getting new funding, but she finally succumbed when I was down to a mere $8. One more turn would have finished me off. A much closer game than it looked like when Chad left. Once everyone started the appropriate leader-bashing, it put my corporation right back in its place.


Supporting Seattle Cosmic

The Center for Ludic Synergy and Seattle Cosmic Game Night are associates of Funagain Games. This means that 5% of your purchase there goes toward supporting us if you buy games via THIS VERY LINK. Any game you buy during a web session you start by clicking the previous link qualifies; in fact, if you click it and bookmark the Funagain page that appears, you can donate 5% to Seattle Cosmic whenever you buy games, without having to return to this page. It's just as easy to bookmark as not, so why not make this your regular Funagain link? THIS MEANS YOU.

We've never yet earned enough money from the associates program for Funagain to cut us a check, and we're not sure what we'd do with the money -- but we promise not to squander it on booze and floozies.


Saturday, 8 February 2003, 5:00 PM at the house of Tim Higgins in Mill Creek (Bothell). Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES!

Remember, Seattle Cosmic Game Night occurs every weekend, in one of three locations: Kent, Mill Creek, or West Seattle. Email Ron Hale-Evans for a full schedule and directions. If you come, please bring a snack or drink to share (cookies, chips, soda, juice, etc.)

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