Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Saturday, 22 February 2003

Risk is Taken, but Eru Smiles on the Good

Seattle Cosmic met again at the house of Tim Higgins in West Seattle, on 22 February. The turnout was excellent: we had 19 people, 20 if you consider child(ren). Present were Tim Higgins, Steve_Vall\xE9e?, Marty_Hale-Evans? and Ron_Hale-Evans? (that's me), JT_Thomas?, David_Adams?, Alex_Rockwell?, Kisa_Griffin? and his 10-year-old daughter Alexandra, Jay_Lorch?, Michelle Teague, Nat and Steve_Dupree?, ChadUrsoMcDaniel, John_Braley?, Meredith_Hale?, Mark Purtill, Dave_Howell?, and Eric Yarnell. If you have telling the Steves and Daves apart, see TheTerribleTwos.

It was an eventful game night. The living Sauron was defeated by the Fellowship, Meredith won a bagful o' ballerinas, and Alexandra lost a tooth.

Thanks to Kisa, Marty, and Mer for help with captions and titles this time. By the way, in case you don't know who Eru is...



Game night started at 5:00, and Marty and I were there sharpish. Steve Vall\xE9e was already present. By 5:15, JT Thomas, Dave Adams, Alex Rockwell, Kisa Griffin and daughter Alexandra had all arrived, and four players started a game of Vinci? at Table 1 in the dining room. I declined to join, and there were mutterings that I was repelled by the game because early on you must slaughter the indigenous peoples of Europe to make room for your own tribes. (This is true, although I had a fair amount of fun playing it back in August 2000.)

They came, they saw, they played Vinci.
Counterclockwise from upper left: JT, Dave, Tim, Marty, observer John Braley.

Tim proved best able to slaughter Europe's indigenous peoples (and the other players' tribes) and narrowly won with 120 points. Dave was next with 118 points (which he disputed, saying it was really 121, though everyone else disagreed), and Marty was third with 109. Marty told me later that in the last couple of turns of the game, it was a race for points between her and Tim; as it happened, Tim garnered the points and won.

Tim declined a prize.


Tim H 120
Dave A 118
Marty H-E 109
JT Thomas 89

Comments from the players?


I want to add in here that I taught Alexandra how to play Expedition at the same time. While I did win, she only had one card left. I thought that was impressive for a first time, especially if you're 10 and lost a tooth mid-game!


I had the good fortune (blind luck) of being the first player and the first available civ powers were Field General and Militia(?). This gave my civ a commanding military presence early in the game. This prompted a twenty point lead from the rest of the pack, with a spike of a thirty point spread. It couldn't last however, and my civ's demise was hastened by the fact that I didn't understand that the 'contiguous' rule didn't apply to civs in decline. Instead of sending my civ into decline at its peak as I should have, I spent round after round fighting border skirmishes restoring spatial rifts within the empire. Finally, realizing that I was fighting a losing battle, I let the civ go into decline, but by that time my lead had evaporated. To add insult to injury, upon allowing the ('discontiguous') civ to decline, and it was only then that I became aware of the fact that declining civs didn't need to be contiguous, unlike active civs. Oh well.

By this point in the game most everyone had a good "earner" declining civ and was able to leverage the strategy of reaping the financial benefits of having two civs on the board at the same time. I never did get a toehold anywhere else on the board and only had a chance to build a total of two more civs before game's end.

Lesson learned: build fast, make no attachment to any province that you "own" (i.e. don't fight border skirmishes) and go into decline as soon as possible, allowing you to have two civs on the board at all times.


Fist of Dragonstones

Starting around 5:20, Alex, Ron, and Steve V played a game of Fist_of_Dragonstones? at Table 2 in the kitchen. Several players played this game last week too (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030215); this was my first time. Alex didn't play last week at Seattle Cosmic but did play five times the next day at another local game group, winning all five games.

In his comments last week, Alex said that he relied heavily on buying the Sorcerer, which gives two points in return for a certain number of Dragonstones (three points wins the game). I can attest to this. In this game, Alex let me and Steve accumulate one or two points each, while himself obtaining only one point. Instead of trying to inch his points up, he focused on cards that gave him the necessary stones to trade in for points with the Sorcerer card. Then, once he had all the stones he needed, on the final turn he simply saved his gold and bided his time until the Sorcerer came up, bid a huge handful of gold when it did, and obtained the final two points he needed to win the game in one swoop.

Alex was awarded a rubber serpent, as Kisa was last week.


Alex R 3
Steve V 2
Ron H-E 1

Suggestions for counterstrategies to Alex's routine?


Counterstrategy: get four stones of a color and win the Sorcerer yourself ;) Alternately: win the Witch and use it to counter the Sorcerer. Re: rubber serpent prize: I was awarded a rubber serpent? I didn't know that! The rubber serpent that was there was the one Kisa won last time, and kept with his Dragonstones game... it went back in the box.


Having to attempt to win the Sorcerer yourself sucks all the strategy out of the game and just turns it into a race. If the only other viable counterstrategy is to buy the Witch, then someone will have to sacrifice some gold to buy her, and she becomes pretty much good only to stop the Sorcerer. Maybe I'm not so impressed with this game after all.

Yes, you did win a serpent, identical to Kisa's. There were two on the table. Perhaps your attention was elsewhere when I gave it to you. Maybe it's still at Tim's house.


It's really interesting if either multiple people can win via Sorcerer, or, one person got Sorcerer earlier and had 2 points, and can win via Wizard or whatever the other guy is, and another can win via Sorcerer, or even when several people are threatening to win! Then it gets really interesting. Also, there is a comeback method in that case, as the people who are behind can get the dragons more cheaply because the people trying to win won't go for them. Re: rubber serpent: well, I'll have to either get it out of the Dragonstones box, or from Tim's house, wherever it was left ;)



Toward the end of Fist_of_Dragonstones?, Jay Lorch, Michelle Teague, and Nat and Steve Dupree arrived. At 5:30, seven players started a game of BANG!? at Table 3 in the living room. Rather than six short games, as last week (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030215), this turned out to be a single two-hour game.



Jay L Outlaw
John B Outlaw
Kisa G Renegade
Michelle T Deputy
Nat D Sheriff
Steve D Deputy
Steve V Outlaw


Bold: Player won that game.
Italics: Player was killed.
Bold Italics: Player was killed, but their side won anyway.

Fairly early, Sheriff Nat was in trouble -- down a life, or two, and playing with Dynamite several turns. But Outlaw Steve V. retired to Boot Hill. Outlaw Jay died not too long later. And Sheriff Nat regained her strength. As the surviving Outlaw, I didn't think Outlaw chances were good. It helped that Deputy Michelle and Deputy Steve D. were at each other from the beginning. This conflict eventually fatally weakened Deputy Steve D.. After the other Outlaws went down, I did nothing for a long time but hide behind a rock and gather defensive cards. Deputy Michelle tangled with Renegade Kisa, weakening both. I drew Bangs! and finished each off in turn (iirc). I found myself with a life less than Sheriff Nat and no cards in my hand or on the table vs. several of each for her. Not what an Outlaw hopes for when forced out of hiding -- but better than this Outlaw deserved. Good: I started drawing all Bangs!; bad: Sheriff Nat had a defensive horse and I had no weapon... so I couldn't take a shot. 'Twas then that ThatMeddlingKing -- I mean, Dynamite -- came to my hand. With nothing to lose, I set the roaming randomizer into play. Shockingly, Sheriff Nat, who had handled it so carefully early on, this time dropped it. From an Outlaw perspective, the theme movie for the game was: Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

-- John_Braley?

I thought that, being the vice and sitting next to the sheriff, the chance that Michelle, sitting next to me, was also a vice was only one in 5, so I set my sights on her. Big mistake. One of the problems I had with such a large group, as opposed to the groups of 5 we played with before, was that by the time it was your turn again, a lot could have happened. When I was nearly dead I started to get an idea of who was good and who was bad, but there wasn't much I could do about it and I had no weapon so I could only shoot Nat the Sheriff or Michelle the potential deputy.

-- Steve_Dupree?


Chad McDaniel showed up around 5:45, and around 5:55 he sat down to play a game of Netrunner with Alex Rockwell at Table 2. I stuck around and observed. Watching Chad and Alex play gave me some ideas for an article I am writing and plan to submit to The Games Journal.

Slack faces indicate the players are jacked into the Matrix.
L-R: Chad, Alex.

Alex had just bought a lot of 700 or so Netrunner cards on eBay and brought his own tuned decks to game night. He won every game of Netrunner he played this evening -- however, he admitted to us on the way home that he had loaded his Corporate deck with multiple copies of an Agenda that is illegal in tournament play because it is too easy to win with. It is worth 4 points; you need to score 7 points to win, so scoring two of these Agendas will give you the game. Small wonder Alex won every game.


Alex R Corp 10, Runner 10
Chad McD? Runner 0, Corp 5

One amusing note: one of the tracer cards in Chad's Corp deck was named "Fetch 4.0.1". This is obviously an in-joke by some Mac user at Wizards of the Coast, because that is also the name of a popular freeware FTP program for the Macintosh, whose icon is a smiling doggie fetching a bone. The doggie on the Netrunner card looked somewhat more sinister...

After the game, Chad and Alex and I discussed a few of the ideas for my incipient article, and I showed them the decks I had just bought for the Mystick? PremiumCardGame? (decks can be tuned, but Mystick is not a CollectibleCardGame). Alex asked to borrow a copy of the Mystick rulebook to take home and study; perhaps I can look forward to his kicking my ass at it sometime soon.


(1) I didn't know Tycho Extension was illegal in tournament play when I made the deck. I've never made a deck before... that card just looked darn good. (And who said this was a tournament? ;) ) (2) Hey, my Runner deck was legal, dangit, and I played 3 of my 5 games tonight with that one! (3) I will be making a new Corp deck for next time (one not broken with the sigh illegal Tycho Extension.)

So in response to all Ron's comments about me winning with an illegal deck, I will point out that 3 of the games I won with a completely legal Runner deck.

I look forward to more netrunner on March 8, or some other time, this time with 2 legal decks instead of 1. ;)


Ah yes, I got a taste of why Tycho Extension was banned. I should have ran R&D a little harder, though.


Wow, Alex, you won three out of your five games with a legal deck? Why, that's more than half!


Sigh... it's still a 100% win ratio in legal games. And #1, I didn't KNOW it was illegal (heck, decks of that type, but more refined, were played in tournaments for YEARS before the card was banned, which I just learned when looking it up online), and #2 I couldn't exactly switch to a legal deck once I found out about it, as I had no other cards there.


OK, I give. I will concede that you played Netrunner very well that night with your legal deck, and I will now stop teasing you. :)


That's better. ;)


Magic: The Gathering

The Netrunner game ended around 6:45, and from around 7:00 to 8:00, Alex and Jay played Magic:_The_Gathering?. I don't have much more information about these games.


Well, Jay and I were both using broken decks. My decks were of the type: "Very fast and agressive, and try to prevent you from doing anything, then kill you." While most of Jay's decks were of the type: "get some broken combo going, then spend lots of time on my turn using some broken card drawing/playing engine, then kill you all in one turn with <insert kill method here>". We both won some games; I think Jay was ahead at the end like 3-2 or something, I don't really remember. I did make a couple mistakes, as I had never seen a couple of the particular combos before, or not in many years, and didn't know at what point he was going to "go off" and draw his entire deck and kill me in one turn, and didn't know which part of his deck to attack in order to stop him. (Do I work on denying mana, kill his enchantments, or whatever.)

One of his decks was a Yawgmoths Bargain (enchantment that gives: pay a life to draw a card) deck, that will draw loads of cards, cast a spell to give 2 life per white card in hand, draw loads more cards, etc, then win with a creature enchantment that gives +X/+X, where X is the # of cards in hand. (There are better ways to make the deck, but as it was it's broken enough.) I think we split games I played against that deck 1-1 or 1-2. Or did I win against something else first then lose to that? I don't recall.

I also got killed by an Aluren-Greater Good combo deck. Aluren lets you play any 3 cost (or less) creature for free, at any time, and Greater Good lets you sacrifice creatures to draw cards. So once he got both it was: "play creature, sac to draw, play creature, sac to draw, etc., etc., etc... cast Haunting Misery (discard X creatures to deal X damage), discard a handful of creatures to kill you". After awhile of watching him draw cards and sac creatures I just asked: "Do you kill me this turn, and how?", to which he replied, "Yes, with Haunting Misery", to which I replied, "I concede".

Well, against any combo deck, once you know the combo, you do better next time, as you know that if they get one part of the combo out, you need to destroy it! In the game above, I had the opportunity to stop Jay from "doing his thing", but instead I set up my own combo for next turn (I was playing a Replenish combo deck). If I had merely focused on preventing him from doing his combo, I would eventually have been able to do mine first. (Replenish lets you get all enchantments out of your graveyard... so you get a bunch of good enchanments in your graveyard using card drawing/discarding mechanisms, then cast Replenish and get all your stuff into play for free... and your enchanments do stuff like remove all your opponent's stuff in play from the game, so he sits there helpless. And another of your enchantments makes all enchantments be creatures... so they kill him next turn. ;) But mine came one turn later than Jay's, so I lost.

Overall, lots of fun, I haven't played broken decks against each other like that in years. ;) At one point in one game I made the comment: "This is cool; it's only turn 4, but I have 14 mana in play and 20 damage worth of creatures on the table, but Jay has gained up to 50 life and has drawn 30 cards."


General query to knowledgeable parties: is "broken deck" CCGer slang? As a game designer, I would say that that it is the game allowing such decks that is broken (and badly), while the decks themselves work all too well.

Congratulations to Jay. Alex is of course a formidable Magic opponent, having played at the tournament level.


Yeah, a deck or card is called "broken" when it is considered to break the game. Or, if it's just very good and defines the tournament setting. It's a different use than in saying a boardgame itself is "broken".


For the record, many of the combinations I used were not "broken" in the standard sense of the word. For instance, I don't think you'd find anyone in the Magic community who would consider Greater Good/Aluren a "broken" combination. It is a combination of cards that has a lot of synergy, but that doesn't make the combination unfairly strong. The main point of the deckbuilding aspect of the game is to find cards with such synergy.

The few games we played were a lot of fun. I can almost feel the dread addiction routing its way through my veins. Must.. not.. buy... more... cards. Seriously, though, I think I can easily resist. Now that I've found GermanStyleGames, I don't need Magic as I did so long ago.


6 Nimmt!

Mark Purtill showed up around 7:00 (yay! it seems he is coming more often now!). I had been jonesing to play 6_Nimmt!? for weeks if not months, and had finally dug up my copy at home. Four of us sat down to play around 7:15, and Mark wiped the table with the other three.

"Chad, look dubious!"

Chad was kind enough to supply us with "think time music", for example, "Go 2! Go, go 2!" I couldn't tell whether some of his number tunes came from Schoolhouse Rock or not. You can see him looking dubious as usual in the photo above -- this time by request, however.

It was one of the weirdest games of 6 Nimmt! I have ever played. The game is usually played over several hands to 66 points, and the player with the lowest score at that point wins. Mark scored 25 points, and the other three of us tied for second at 83. As Mark pointed out, not only is it weird for someone to "blow past" 66 to as high a number as 83, but for three people to do it at the same time, and for them to tie exactly -- that's weird.


Mark P 25
Chad McD? 83
Ron H-E 83
Steve D 83

I was slightly bummed in that I have historically done pretty well at 6 Nimmt!. Early in this game I was feeling somewhat ill, and realised it was 2 1/2 hours past my medtime. I gulped a few pills, and almost immediately began playing somewhat better, except that on the last turn I had to accept 20 points. Oh well; I did a little better in my second game of the evening.

Mark was awarded a "Whistlin' Dixie" wooden train whistle for his impressive victory when the game ended around 8:10.


That is a crazy score! What are the odds? Also: that game looks really cool. I want to try it sometime.


It's in my EmergencyGameKit now, and enthusiasm seems to be growing, so perhaps it will hit the table more often.


I hope so, because I really enjoy it.


Not bad for my first game. I tied for second place, after all.


Harry Potter: Mystery at Hogwarts Game

Around 8:00, Meredith, Nat, Kisa, and Kisa's daughter Alexandra played the Harry_Potter:_Mystery_at_Hogwarts_Game?, which is essentially a Harry-Potter-themed Clue? for kids. Kisa won and was awarded a creepie-crawlie for his pocket.

Super-sleuth Kisa battles Fluffy.
Clockwise from upper right: Kisa, Nat, Mer, Alexandra.

Hogwarts Castle is made out of cardboard?

Kisa recoils from his pocket spider as adoring daughter looks on.

Comments from the players?


Lord of the Rings (with Sauron Expansion)

After Vinci?, many of the same players stayed at Table 1 to play Lord_of_the_Rings? with the Sauron_Expansion?. Tim Higgins was Sauron, as usual. The Friends_&_Foes_Expansion? was not used, making the game a little easier than usual. The game did still use the Dark Tiles, however, and these can usually be counted on to add quite a lot of difficulty to the game.

L-R: Lord of the Rings newbies Steve V and JT.


Sauron Tim H
Frodo JT Thomas
Sam Michelle T
Pippin Marty H-E
Merry Jay L
Fatty Steve V

A little after 8:00 I walked in and looked at Marty. "Yes, we're playing Lord of the Sucker Bet", she said. The only time our group had ever beat a living Sauron was when the expansion was new to us; Chad was Sauron and had never played the game before, if I recall. He was beat quickly. However, Tim Higgins had never been beat as Sauron.

When I popped in again around 9:30, the story was somewhat different. "How goes the fight against the Dark Lord?" I asked.

"BO-ring!" said Sauron/Tim.

"Quite well, actually," said Pippin/Marty.

The unbelievably lucky Forces of Good succeed.

And indeed, within half an hour, the Fellowship had won. Huzzah! No one died, and the score for the Fellowship was 79 points.

Highlights of the game:


I wouldn't call what Marty and I did arguing. We had useful discussions in which we would both discuss our suggestions for strategy. As you say, I often tend to do more than my share of strategizing for the group, so I appreciate it when others will challenge my decisions and point out good alternatives. And there were many times during this game when Marty (and others, including Alex, who not only wasn't in the game but wasn't even in the same room!) had excellent suggestions that ran counter to my suggested strategies. I was happy to go along with these, all of which were superior to the suggestions I was making at the time.


Thanks, Jay. I didn't really consider it "arguing" so much as debating various options either. I considered it more a personal victory because I felt that I finally understand some things about the game enough to make constructive suggestions rather than just saying, "Oh, OK, I'll do that then." :)


Sorry, Jay. I was trying to be respectful. You are sort of the Gandalf the Grey Eminence of our LotR? circle. I didn't mean that you and Marty were quarrelling; I meant "argument" in the sense of "a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition", to crib from Monty Python.


This also seems like a good opportunity to comment on a little calculation I did a while ago about how to handle the Dark Tiles.

To begin, I gave each bad tile a ranking of how bad it was, generally equal to the number of things it makes you lose. So, "take one damage" and "discard one card" have badness 1; "take two damage" and "discard two cards" have badness 2; "sundial preventable by discarding 3 things" has badness 3, etc. I had to somewhat arbitrarily assign badness to some tiles, like giving the maximal 5 badness to an unpreventable sundial.

Then, I did a calculation to see how bad a tile must be before you should take the step of ignoring it. I found, to my surprise, that the optimal strategy is to ignore any tile with badness 2 or higher. I'd expected the cutoff to be somewhere in the 3-5 range. I should comment that the outcome of the strategy "ignore anything of badness 2 or more" is only very slightly better than the outcome of the strategy "ignore anything of badness 3 or more". The upshot of this is that in many scenarios, e.g., when the next event is so terrible that its badness is really more like 6, then you should probably start ignoring tiles of badness 2.

Of course, this extreme reduction of the problem to mathematics is very simplistic, and you shouldn't base your strategy on this solely. It's just a guide, and a rough one at that. For me, the benefit of the analysis was to open my eyes to something I hadn't realized before but now makes sense: unpreventable sundials aren't so frequent or so terrible that you should be afraid to ignore other types of tiles.


I was thinking more about this play of the game, and in retrospect I realize we probably made a strategic error due to my suggestions. A couple of times, we had the Ringbearer use the ring to escape the scenario at the end of Steve's turn so that JT wouldn't have to activate Sauron at the beginning of his turn. However, I think it might have been better to let JT have his turn.

Suppose we let JT take his turn and activate Sauron. If Sauron plays a card, the Ringbearer interrupts that card by playing the ring to escape the scenario. In this case, the scenario ends before the card resolves and the card is discarded with no effect. This is a good way to make Sauron waste a card, hopefully a Nazgul card.

Note, though, that there is something Sauron can do to avoid this: he can draw a card instead of playing one. The rules state that the Fellowship cannot interrupt Sauron drawing cards. In this case, JT proceeds to draw event tiles. If the first one is bad, he can ignore it; if the second one is also bad, the Ringbearer can interrupt and end the scenario before the event tile resolves. On the other hand, if one of the first two tiles is good (which will happen about 50% of the time), then the Fellowship gains the benefit of this good tile as well as of the opportunity for JT to play out phase 2 of his turn.

Given all this, it seems likely we should have just proceeded with JT's turn. The possible downside is that with perfect play by Sauron and unlucky tile draws, the outcome is that Sauron gets an extra card. But the potential upside, I think, is better: if Sauron doesn't play optimally, he loses a card, and even if he does there's a 50% chance or so that the Fellowship gets the benefit of a good event tile and an extra turn.


These comments make my head explode, and go far toward illustrating why Jay wins so many more games than I do. :)


Hehe ;) Analysis and looking ahead are powerful. ;) The ring effect is also very powerful, particularly becaue you get to use it right when something really bad happens in order to avoid that bad thing. So you dont have to use it ahead of time. You can wait, and if something good happens (like drawing a good tile) you gain a benefit, while if something bad happens (drawing event tile or sauron playing a card on you), you can negate that. Bascially, you can use it against Sauron to force him to either waste a card, or to allow you to keep taking turns without hitting you with cards. By the way, I have yet to play in any of our Lord of the Rings games. (They usually start when I am in the middle of something). I'd like to join in one sometime. ;)


OK, I admit I had a 'Boromir' moment, but I *swear* that in the moments before the entire fellowship (excluding myself, being a first-time player) was animatedly discussing the topic of sacrifices and making statements such as "you don't want to find yourself to far up the corruption scale" and "you don't want to find yourself with a small hand of cards" with the implication that the result would be that player would be sacrificed, further there was an implication that this was Not A Good Thing(tm). As it was, I was in just those scenarios that everyone was describing and I could swear that there were furtive looks and glances amongst the other members of the fellowship - I was sure I was being set up for the fall. Still not understanding the fact that the fellowship shares the same 'win-state' (and truthfully I'm still a bit fuzzy on this part...) at the end of the game, I took this very personally. Also, the fact that whole "avoid being sacrificed" strategy was being revealed to me as a first-time player only after my head was throughly on the chopping block was more than a bit startling.

All in all, a good game, and one I look forward to playing again. Hopefully next time I will be better able to demonstrate my "friendship" for my fellow hobbits rather than answering the siren's call of the ring. Then again, maybe I should just play Sauron. >:>



Sometime during Lord_of_the_Rings?, Mer, Kisa, and Alexandra played a friendly game of Eightball? on Tim's upstairs pool table. I don't have any details.

Comments from the players?


Well, it was really Kisa and Mer, while Alexandra watched (don't panic, Timothy!). We played both Eightball and Numbers. Kisa broke both games and knocked in stripes, so I was solids. We were going around quite swimmingly (I play a very bad game of pool, but wasn't doing horribly) until I managed to sink the 8 ball pretty early on. Then we decided to play Numbers and sink the balls in numeric order. We got through all of them this way, and was pretty fun and less cut-throat.

I've learned (ok, one of them I already knew...) 2 things about Kisa: he likes to play by the rules (nay, he *loves* to play by the rules) and likes to stick to them carefully and he's much more of a pool shark than he lets on. I was impressed by his ability to nail the ball and place it just where he wanted it (I know, that sounds dirty... don't think my mind wasn't there the whole time). I tend to like things a little more laid back, but it did inspire me to learn more rules for pool games.


What with the balls, the sticks, and the sinking of things into holes, it's nearly impossible not to make dirty jokes (mentally or aloud) while playing pool.


Netrunner (redux, x2)

Two more games of Netrunner were played...

(1) Dave H vs. Alex R. (2) Chad McD? vs. Eric Y.

Alex won his game handily, but remember he was using an illegal deck. Eric beat Chad by a fair margin too. It is interesting that Eric was later able to give Alex a run for his money (er, Bits), even with Alex's illegal deck.


Alex R Corp 10, Runner 10
Dave H Runner 0, Corp 2


Chad McD? Runner 2, Corp 2
Eric Y Corp 10, Runner 10

Alex was awarded a "spitting smiley" ball with which he seemed much pleased, and Eric was awarded a small rubber shark, because just as a shark must keep swimming or die, so must a corporation show annual growth to its investors...

Eric told me he names his Corporation decks in Japanese. He promised to give some examples on the Wiki. I hope he keeps his promise. :)


I have posted to my Seattle cosmic web mini-site (click on my name below) the names of my Corps which do mostly have Japanese names (one deck Dave H. & I jointly created is in Chinese), as well as my Runners which all have Japanese names. Two Runners are still looking for their names in my seven or eight Japanese dictionaries.


Re: Eric giving me a run for my money: I didnt play the illegal deck against him. (Ron... always trying to play down my Netrunner victories... even though 60% of them were perfectly legit. ;) )

Dave also had names for all his decks (or was it just all his Runner decks?). He played "Sal" (short for "Salamander") against me, and decided it needed work. It was fairly new, I think.

Overall, I was quite happy with my Runner deck, as it got me 3 wins. I will have to modify it to have a chance if I come up against a trace deck (like the one Eric played against Chad). My Corp deck won both games but is sigh not tournament-legal, as Ron seems to keep pointing out. I'll just make a legal one and win with that. ;)


Eric and I were very evenly matched: He had a trace-focused deck. I had Open-Ended Mileage Program and Nasuko Cycle to remove tags and Broker that let me pay for Black Dahlia. His agenda were near the bottom of his R&D so I spent most of my time earning bits and running a few times. Eric had one primary datafort that I could eventually crack for 11 bits and one net damage. I broke it once for a minor Agenda and he was able to score the next before I had the bits for he next run. A long but interesting run for me. Given his nasty ICE I'm glad I cuddled up with Smarteye (exposes ice with a chance to end the run before encountering) early in the game.


"Warning. Rant in progress."

Aiiiieeeee! <insert glyph of arm-waving and/or hair-pulling> There was nothing inappropriate about Alex's deck. Why? Because we weren't playing a tournament. I've watched the game of Magic get badly distorted by people who couldn't tell the difference between a tournament and everything else, and I'd hate to see this confusion interfere with our Netrunner games as well.

Primus: There are no illegal cards or decks outside of a tournament. Mind you, although Alex's deck is legitimate, I'm still going to tell him I'd rather not play against it just because it's too good. I'm likely to use Tycho again one of these days, but I'll put it in a deck that's otherwise so bad that it needs it merely to not suck. I have another friend with a Runner deck that's astonishingly good, and perfectly legal. I won't play against it, either, because I still haven't figured out how to beat it, no matter what kind of corporation I might build.

Alex, your Tycho deck is the best Netrunner 'rapid advancement' deck I've seen to date.

Secundus: A game of Netrunner ends when one player gets seven agenda points. The rulebook says nothing about having to play both sides before a game is complete. Many (but not all!) tournaments have a pair of players play two games, but this is again an artifact of a specific tournament style. Eric's upcoming Netrunner tournament at GameStorm? will actually prevent a player from playing both sides; players will be either a Runner or a Corp for the duration of the tournament.

Tertius: The scoring of "10" for winning a game of Netrunner is one of the stranger artifacts of tournament play, and is useful only if you'll be adding up scores. Outside of a multi-round tournament, somebody wins with seven or more agenda points. The game Alex and I played when I was the runner was actually Alex 8, Dave 0. The other one was, if I recall correctly, Alex 7, Dave 2.

"Attention. Rant ended. Resume normal functions."

Name my decks? But of course! How else would I know what I was doing? Sure, if I had just two or three of them, I might just be able to pull one out, look at some of the cards, and go "Oh, yea, that one." But I have seven runners and seven corps built already, never mind the eleven other decks that were lost last year. I name them in self-defense. Besides, it's fun! Let's face it, wouldn't you rather go up against "Arthur Andersen," "Cisco," or "McWane?" than "My corp," "My other corp", and "My third corp?"


Yeah! Thanks Dave! Take that Ron! ;)

Anyway, I like the named decks, I think its both fun and necessary when you have many decks. Generally my magic decks were named after cards or themes, such as the "squirrel prison" deck (Deranged Hermit + Opposition), or the "Replenish" deck named after a card. In magic there wasa series of popular tournament decks named after breakfast cereals. There was first the "Fruity pebbles" deck, which was based on a certain combo which allowed you to play a 0 cost creature, sacrifice it for 1 damage, get it back for free, and repeat over and over. The fruity pebbles referred to that you were "throwing a stone" (the creature) at your opponent, over and over. There was later "Cocoa Pebbles", the same deck with blakc in it for Necropotence, "Wheaties", a version of the deck using the 'survival of the fittest' card, and later "Trix" a different auto-kill combo that evolved from Cocoa pebbles. Naming decks is fun ;)

I looked online and found some old netrunner tournament articles about the top decks ever, and one of them was "Psycho Tycho", a very well tuned, very fast version of the deck I played, which would win on turn 4 or 5 via fast advanced Tycho extensions. Its only ice was some 0 and 1 cost code gates and walls. It was basically a card drawing and bit gaining engine, which would spend three turns gaining bits and drawing cards to prepare the first fast advanced Tycho, and then play and Acme savings and loan for 1 agenda point and use the money to fast advance another Tycho. It was the reason the card got banned.

Anyway, I am going to make a new deck for next week, which will not use Tychos. And I plan to make some modifications to my runner deck too. ;)


Risk: 2210 A.D.

Dave Adams, who had been itching to play some "semi-long games", got a game of Risk:_2210_A.D.? going. This is the updated version of Risk?, set in a future in which there are colonies on the Moon and on the ocean floor. Mark Purtill again wiped the board with his opponents, with a score exactly twice that of his closest competitor, Steve Dupree.

The "Risk" was whether the game would end before dawn...
(Notice separate Moon board in lower right.)


Mark P 62
Steve D 31
Dave A 3
Nat D eliminated on fourth round

Risk lasted from about 8:30 to 12:00. I believe we owe Mark a prize for this one.

A plea: Sadly, I had a fairly nice photo of people playing this game, not just the board, but that photo and a couple of others on the floppy in my digital camera got corrupted before I could upload them. This is a general risk when you reuse floppies. On the other hand, fresh floppies can get to be expensive; we go through one or two every game night. In over three years of weekly game nights, we've literally used hundreds of floppies. If anyone in the group (or, ahem, the employer of anyone in the group) would care to donate a box or two of nice, fresh, 1.44 MB 3.5" diskettes, it would be greatly appreciated.

Comments from the players?


I managed to get a good start in the early turns of the game. I eliminated Nat, who honestly didn't look like she was having much fun, and Risk certainly has a "too far behind to catch up" factor that would definitely have prevented her from being a force in the game. Foolishly, Dave and I let Mark hold the entire moon for the last two turns. I don't know what Dave's thought process was, but I thought we were safe with Mark nearly wiped off the main board (down to about 3 land territories and no water). But finally on the last turn Mark drew the "Earth Invasion" card he needed, played about five hundred "Assemble MODS," and wiped out half the board with his huge force (and some lucky die rolls, though he still would have one with more average rolls).



TransAmerica? was lying around, and although I was skeptical I would enjoy it (I had heard it was too light), I was curious. We only had two players around 9:00 (John Braley and me), but Chad assured us that a two-player game would not be so bad "because it's so strategy-free anyway".

TransAmerica?: Connect the Dots, without the strategy.

Well, I was extremely disappointed. The game seemed to be ruled largely by luck. I had three cities clustered in the lower left of the board, one in the lower right, and Minneapolis, near the top middle of the board. I was able to connect my three westernmost cities quickly, and connect to John's line and thereby get within one junction of my southeastern city, but Minneapolis was hopelessly out of reach by the time John connected his five cities and ended the first round. I lost 8 points (-2 for my southeastern city because I had to cross a mountain to get to it, and -6 for Minneapolis). John and I talked about what I might have done differently and concluded it was mostly the luck of the draw, at which point I conceded in disgust.

Kisa walked by and said a multi-player game would be more interesting. (Great Bog, I hope so!) He said he would never play with fewer than four players.


John B 12
Ron H-E 4 (concedes)

Thumbs down from me, for the moment anyway. John was awarded a Knoppix 3.1 CD, which he had been coveting most of the evening. :)

Thanks to Alex R for pointing out I had the scoring backwards.



I agree that the game is very light. This is balanced by the fact that it only takes about 20 minutes for a full game. There is certainly some luck involved in what cards you draw, but that tends to even out over the course of a few rounds. Usually, even with two players, a difference of one or two points per round is much more common. This is, of course, especially true with more players, but even with two players (Nat and I have played 4 games in the last week, and long games too - without moving the end after two rounds) a bad card draw is rare. Don't expect a brain buster, but I think you're being too critical of the game after playing only one round, and not even a whole game. Of course maybe it's just not your cup of tea.


Adel Verpflichtet

After the victory over Sauron, five of us sat down to play Adel_Verpflichtet?, Klaus Teuber's unpronounceable game of hijinx in high society, which we quickly abbreviated to "Adel V". This game has been compared to Rock_Paper_Scissors? -- unfairly, I think, because there is a fair amount of strategy.

Players decide whether their lawds and ladies are going to make an appearance at the Auction House or the current Castle. If the Auction House, they may play either a Check or a Thief. The highest Check buys the bidder's choice of one of the two artworks up for auction; the strongest Thief played, if any, steals that Check. At the current Castle, a player may either display an Exhibit, play a Thief, or play a Detective. The winning largest and second-largest Exhibits enable their owners to move a number of spaces around the board, as specified by the current Castle space. The Thieves get to steal one artwork from each Exhibit, the strongest Thief going first -- but any Detectives present get to throw them into jail. The players who played successful Detectives then get to move forward a number of spaces equal to their position in the game -- for example, the player in fifth place moves forward five spaces. Eventually, when the Dining Hall is reached at the end of the board, the final Exhibit takes place. All players exhibit their artworks, and the first and second players move forward a number of spaces according to the number of artworks in their Exhibits. The player who has moved farthest into the Dining Hall is the winner.

Kisa won this game, with Marty a close second (they both made it into the Dining Hall). However, no one but Kisa had played before, and as Tim always reminds me, if you're the only one who's played the game, you don't get bragging rights if you win.

Adel V ended around 11:30, and we owe Kisa a prize.


Mer displays her valuable artwork (apparently some cheese dated 1934).

If people don't know, I have a fairly sizable cow collection (mostly at my mom's house at this point), but cow was my first word, etc. I was happy to see la vache qui rit (the laughing cow) card. I gave it my patented 'thumbs up'!

I also give Adel V my thumbs up. I liked the surprise aspect of it, though I think I had a better grasp on strategy later in the game.



Kisa G (dining hall)
Marty H-E (dining hall)
Mer H
Ron H-E
Steve V


I made the comment that this game is "Rock Paper Scissors with good scoring". It's an oversimplification, but I don't think it's that inaccurate. It's a great game in my opinion. Should I say: "It's like Rock Paper Scissors with REALLY AMAZING scoring?"

I think it pronounced Ver-plick-tet.


Actually, according to the 'German' Game FAQ, it is pronounced "AH-del fer-FLIKH-tet".


Netrunner (redux, half-game)

Alex Rockwell and Eric Yarnell played half a game of Netrunner from about 9:15-10:00. Alex beat Eric, 10-4. No prize was awarded because the game was incomplete.


Alex R Runner 10
Eric Y Corp 4


We only played half the game because Eric didn't want to play against my "illegal" Corp deck, and with good reason. (Wish I had known that ahead of time; I would've made something else.) So we played my runner deck against Eric's Corp. It was a close game, but in the end I managed to score Eric's 3 point Agenda for the win. He would have scored it soon if I had not. Much of my success this game came from the Icebreaker "Blink" which gives a 50-50 shot of breaking an ice, and 50-50 of dealing damage to you. I could prevent the damage cheaply with my "Enterprise, Inc. Shields", and when I broke the ice, it got me through stuff I couldn't otherwise get through and let me steal Agendas.


Taj Mahal

JT left around 10:35. Several other players partook of a game of Taj_Mahal? at Table 3 in the living room from around 11:00-12:00. Jay was the big winner here and Alex rather the big loser (to borrow a phrase Meredith and Steve V vied to apply to themselves all evening). Alex said, "I never want to play again."


Jay L 53
Eric Y 39
Tim H 33
Michelle T 32
Alex R 22


Ugh, that particular game of Taj needs to be erased from existence... ;) I got the Purple special card and a bunch of Elephants, and went heavily for the Elephants, on to have one person fight me really hard every round (and usually a different person each round). In the end, I got nothing, as I didnt have enough resources to fight round after round. Every single round when I fought, I figured I had way too much stuff for anyone to beat, and each time whoever I was fighting would empty their hand and beat me. And then another person would do the same the next round. In the end, Jay had an overwhelming hand of cards, and scored the last several Elephant tiles for a solid win.

I started out with a weird hand, all I had were Elephant cards, several cards that gave Purple (to work for the Elephants bonus card), and a couple that gave Orange (to work on the Monk card). So it was pretty clear to me: "GO FOR ELEPHANTS!". On turn 1, Tim started out playing an Elephant/Purple card. At that point I thought: Well, I can sit here and draw cards, or I can fight. In my previous, 3 player games of Taj, fighting worked... as there is stuff to go around such that if you aren't going to win, you can just stop fighting and take some stuff. But in 5-player, that isn't the case. In round one, I won the battle, but I was depleted too much, and couldn't win much from then on. And when I lost, I would get nothing. In the end, I was left feeling like I should never play the game again, but perhaps sometime I will give it another go.

I really admired Jay's strategy. Early on, he would play a card each turn that has two different colors of influence on it, and no Elephants. Then it would come around to him again, and he would most likely be winning in something, so he could stop playing, get his palace, and score some special thing on the board (since he was one of the first to place), and also get an early choice of new cards. And he didn't spend much to get what he got, because he avoided conflicts. Then later, he had built up an overwhelming hand and could win anything, while still having gained a bunch of points early on.

Eric also did well with a palace strategy, connecting 9 palaces on the final round!

Sorry, Tim, I will try to avoid any conflict at all with you next time we play something. (Two games in a row now we have fought each other, first in Abenteuer_Menschheit?, and now this.) Luckily, this time the Taj game was played after the pizza, so their could be no "no pizza for you" threats ;)


I have to explain the 'Big Loser' phrase. I noticed one week that Ron put me in the newsletter and under my picture said 'Big Loser.' Instead of being hurt, as I could have been, I decided to adopt, accept and embrace my new title! It seemed to fit, so why not? But that night Steve V was horning in on my territory... back off man! *I'm* the Big Loser!! And now Alex wants in too?!


Oh, now, Meredith. The newsletter in question is SeattleCosmicGameNight20021228 (last photo in the newsletter). It's a photo of not just you, but also Kisa and Marty, playing Bucket_King?. I said you were the Big Loser for that game because you scored zero points; Kisa, who won with 10 points, was dubbed the Bucket King. Furthermore, I have referred to myself as the big loser on two previous occasions in the newsletters, according to Google. In fact, I'm the only person I've referred to that way in any previous newsletters (Google says), and if you think I don't hold myself in high regard, you'd be (mostly) wrong.

So it was just a bit of fun. You know I don't think you're a big loser at the game of life, although I do suspect you're fishing for compliments, in which case you should visit your Meredith_Hale? home page to refresh your memory. :)


At least nobody calls you "The Big Boozer".


6 Nimmt! (redux)

After Adel_Verpflichtet?, around 11:45, several of the Adel V players started a second game of 6_Nimmt!?. We managed to drag Dave Howell into it too. Dave had never played a full game of 6 Nimmt! to 66 points, only single hands. I remarked that for a while we had a "tradition" in Seattle Cosmic of doing the same thing. ("Aw, I wanna go play Lord_of_the_Rings?. Let's just score this hand and see who won.")

I did somewhat better in this game, but Meredith was on a roll, even though she said she was sleepy and felt sick. On the final round, we were tied for first place at 28 points, but I couldn't avoid taking a couple of rows of cards, and Meredith got away with only taking 3 points for a total of 31. I came in second at 40 points, and the remaining three players were fairly evenly spaced.

For her victory, Meredith was awarded a Big Bag o' Ballerinas (which, let me tell you, we were glad to get out of the prize bag). Meredith said it was the best prize she had ever received at game night and made a little display with them the next night at our house:

Big Bag o' Ballerinas in a Busby Berkeley Ballet-hoo.

Can you tell I work in an art museum? And who says I don't have enough free time?



Mer H 31
Ron H-E 40
Marty H-E 49
Dave H 65
Steve V 81

Comments from the players?


A crowd had gathered to watch the final 6 Nimmt! showdown of the evening (which I found flattering but distracting). After the 6 Nimmt! game, around 12:20, the various caravans packed up and dispersed to the four corners of Metro Seattle.

Thanks, Tim! See you all next week at Dave's!


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, 1 March 2003, 5:00 PM at the house of Dave Adams and Kathy Kizer in West Seattle. 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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