Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Saturday, 1 March 2003

Funny, He Doesn't Look Stupid

Newcomer Dan Crouch: Stupid or smart?

Seattle Cosmic met on the first of March at the apartment of Dave Adams and Kathy Kizer in West Seattle. Present were (in rough order of arrival) David_Adams? and Kathy Kizer (of course); Timothy_Higgins?; Alex Swavely, John_Braley?, and newcomer Dan Crouch; Nat_Dupree? and Steve_Dupree?; ChadUrsoMcDaniel; Tim "AlphaTim" Schutz and Ron_Hale-Evans? (that's me); Dave_Howell? and Eric_Yarnell,_ND?; Mark Purtill; and Jay_Lorch? and Michelle Teague. That's a total of 16 people. It was pretty crowded, but fortunately just about everybody was a good sport and made the best of it.

Game night started at 5:00. When Tim Schutz and I arrived around 6:35, there were already nine people present, playing at all three tables. I was greeted by the sight of the back of newcomer Dan Crouch's T-shirt (above). When asked why he would wear a T-shirt reading, "YES, I AM STUPID", he explained that sometimes people look at others on the street and decide they must be stupid. If that happened to him, he said, he wanted to be able to say, "Yes, I'm stupid. Back to you!", and get on with his life.

Dave Howell and Eric Yarnell arrived a few minutes after Tim Schutz and I did. We futzed around for a bit, then the Trias, Risk, and TransAmerica? games finished around 7:00 and there was a great mixing of players and commencement of new games.


Well, I missed you all this week, but I'll be back next week, and I will have new Netrunner decks AND five commons-only Magic decks (1 per color) that should be a bit fairer to play against people other than Jay.

Looks like you all had fun. I want to play Traumfabrik again. And some more BANG!? of course. And 6_Nimmt!?. And... basically everything. ;) Except Taj_Mahal?. Everything but Taj Mahal. ;)



Dave A, Kathy K, and Tim H had been played a game of Trias at Table 1 in the dining room from early in the evening until about 5:00. Tim H won by a huge margin and was awarded some popcorn by Dave A.


Tim H 45
Kathy K 26
Dave A 19

Comments from the players?


Risk: 2210 A.D.

Alex S and Dan C played Risk:_2210_A.D.? at Table 2 (the coffee table in the living room). They said they were just playing a couple of rounds until more people arrived, so I believe their game was incomplete. It finished around 7:00, which would hardly be enough time for a full game of Risk: 2210 even if they arrived at 5:00 sharp. (Last week's game -- SeattleCosmicGameNight20030222 -- took about 3 1/2 hours.)

I had mentioned the possibility of bringing the copy of Risk:_Lord_of_the_Rings? that Marty_Hale-Evans? and I had bought the night before, but we hadn't done more than skim the rulebook, so I would have been unable to explain it well.

Even though Risk: LotR? is reputed to be the shortest of the Risk? games (about 120 minutes according to BoardgameGeek) because of the game's timing mechanism (the One Ring travels across the board with the Fellowship, and when it leaves the board, the game is over), I'm not sure I'll be up for playing it next week, which is of course our Twilight_Imperium? LongGameDay extravaganza.

Comments from the players?



Nat and Steve Dupree played a quick game or two of TransAmerica? until about 7:00. I don't know whether their game(s) were finished, or who won, if anyone.


I don't remember who won. I think we were within one point of each other and decided to call it a draw. It was, after all, our 7th or so game of TA that week.


Taj Mahal

Now (7:00) began the first great mixing of the evening. People split into several games, one of which was Taj_Mahal?, the Reiner Knizia auction game. It ran for about two hours, and John B was the winner. He said he ignored the "Elephants strategy" and tried to avoid fighting with anyone for cards. John was awarded a copy of Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility (Wizards of the Coast, 1993), a universal role-playing supplement by Seattle Cosmic's own Dave_Howell?. This was more or less the prize of the evening; Dave had donated a stack to the prize bag and the book was awarded to several people. (I snagged one myself, as I had threatened I would for my Entropy victory at SeattleCosmicGameNight20030201. I have now had a chance to read some of it, and it is a fine work of imaginative fiction even if you don't like to roleplay.)

(1) Clockwise from bottom: Chad McD?, Tim S, Alex S, John B, Dan C.
(2) The Indian power struggle midgame.


John B 46
Tim S 38
Chad McD? 32
Alex S 27
Dan C 21

Comments from the players?



Around 7:00, five of us started a game of Andromeda. Dave H explained the rules to us. He had to raise his voice over some of the members of Seattle Cosmic who tend to bellow when they're having fun. Adding to the commotion was the fact that one of Dave's kids had gotten hold of his digital camera and was wandering around snapping flash photos at the rate of one every 15 to 20 seconds for about 20 minutes.

Anyway... The game has been well-described elsewhere, so I'll just describe the basics. Andromeda is a TradingGame by Alan Moon in which players attempt to obtain the right cards to colonise the satellites of the main planets of the Andromeda galaxy. First you move your tokens (the ubiquitous little wooden cubes) to the planets of Andromeda. Once you feel confident you have a good proportion of colonists on a planet, you place a randomising device shaped like a hockey puck over the planet's colonists. Depending on how many cards for that planet you played from your hand, you get a certain number of chances to shake out a colonist of your colour from a hole in the side of the puck. If you shake out one of your colonists, it goes to the highest-scoring satellite of that planet remaining. (Any other players' colonists you shake out go back to Earth.) The game ends when the satellites of three planets have been fully colonised, and the player with the highest score wins.

There was some debate over whether it would be more advantageous to play a hand of six cards to one planet, which would give you three chances at one colony, or to play two hands of three cards, each of which would get you a single chance at one colony -- the point being, the former is more of a sure thing, but the latter might net you two colonies. Barring a detailed statistical analysis, I would guess that a sound choice would depend on how many of your colonists were on the planet, how high you could score for each planet, and whether a "desperation move" was called for.

(1) Dave Howell (R) apparently duelling Tiny Tim Schutz at Andromeda.
(2) Dave H labelled the planets on his Andromeda board so people could actually refer to them.
(3) Andromeda! (It looks more like a solar system than like a galaxy.)

Conversation of the game:

Nat D: I feel mean!

Steve D: Honey, it's OK to do what you're doing. You're supposed to be mean.

Nat D: I know, but I feel mean!

Dave H: You aspire to being mean. You are merely inconvenient at the moment.


Steve D 59
Ron H-E 52
Dave H 36
Nat D 32
Eric Y 29

Steve Dupree edged me out by colonising the last planet of the game for 10 points. I had thought I had the game sewed up, up to that point. Looking back, I feel pretty confident in saying that if not just I, but anyone else other than Steve, had gotten the final planet, I would have won. Oh, well; Steve was awarded a copy of Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility.

Overall, a fine game. Everyone else who played it seemed to enjoy it too. Andromeda has a reputation for being too random, but I believe it is not deserved.


I think the game was plenty random, since my strategy was to just do some random stuff and I managed to win. I personally don't have a problem with randomness in a game, unless it gets too frustrating (e.g. Risk).



Mark Purtill arrived around 7:10, and Guillotine, the happy-go-lucky game of beheadings during the French Revolution, started at Table 1. Tim H won and chose Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility as his prize. Quite unusually, Mark P didn't do so well; no one would tell me what his score was, except that it was "low".


Tim H 23
Kathy K 19
Dave A 18
Mark P low

Comments from the players?


BANG! (x2)

Guillotine lasted about 20 minutes, and then a longish game of BANG!? started around 7:40. After the first game, a second, shorter game was played in which the Sheriff was killed very quickly. All told, the games took about an hour and a half.



Dave A Outlaw Outlaw
Jay L Sheriff Sheriff
Kathy K Outlaw Outlaw
Mark P Outlaw Renegade
Michelle T Vice Outlaw
Tim H Renegade Vice


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

Puerto Rico

Around 9:15 everyone had finished their previous games, and the second great mixing of the evening took place. Four expert Puerto_Rico? players set up a PR game, and though the scores were rather close, it was Mark P who walked away with a copy of... yes, Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility around 10:45.

Left to right: Mark P, Chad McD? (dubious as ever), Eric Y.


Mark P 58
Eric Y 54
Chad McD? 53
Jay L 50

Comments from the players?


I'll give my strategy for this game so others can avoid it in the future. :) I went for a variety of goods and planned to get the Factory quickly. Unfortunately, Chad and Mark both beat me to the Factory, so I was in trouble. I tried to make up for it with the Wharf and Harbor (since the Harbor, like the Factory, is good when you produce a variety of resources). But, it was not enough. In retrospect, I probably should have bought big buildings instead, since (a) there wasn't much more time remaining in the game, and (b) big buildings wound up contributing a large amount to everyone else's score, especially Mark with his two lucrative big buildings.

This was a very fun game. Everyone seemed to be playing confidently and enjoying himself.


I was wondering what could possibly have caused Jay to be LAST in a game of Puerto Rico. ;) My thought on the Factory is that it's good if you get it pretty early, preferably with plantations of: 1 corn, 1 indigo, 1 sugar, 1 quarry, or somehting like that. And along with that you build a quick small indigo and sugar, and maybe Sm Market if you can, then get the Factory. You can use the income boost (2 doubloons on the craft), and hopefully a couple sales of sugar or indigo, to finance one of the cash crops and get a Warehouse and Harbor. Then, you go for the Guild Hall and/or other large buildings.



Traumfabrik, Reiner Knizia's auction game of the golden age of Hollywood, started at one end of Table 1 (the other end was occupied by a game of Formula De; see below). Michelle T and Nat D were the winners in a close game. All the copies of Dave_Howell?'s book had been awarded by this time, however, so they had to be content with a rubber serpent apiece (the same kind that had been awarded to Kisa_Griffin? and Alex_Rockwell? for their previous victories at Fist_of_Dragonstones?; Kisa's now lives in the box for the game).

Traumfabrik ended around 11:00 PM.

Clockwise from right: Dan C, Michelle T, Steve and Nat D.


Michelle T 70
Nat D 70
Steve D 68
Dan C 66


On the last auction of the game, in the middle of bidding someone pointed out to me a rule I had missed in the commotion during the original rules explanation: every contract is worth one point at the end. They told me the rule before the auction ended, but my brain didn't process it fully until after the game was over. If I had thought faster (or paused for a moment to think it out) I could have won the game in the end. I think I will try to get John_Braley? to give me some taking-forever-to-think-out-every-move lessons.


Cow Pie (playtest)

Tim H left around 9:22, and John B and I playtested Cow_Pie?, the new game designed by Tim_Schutz?, with him. We had the JohnFactor in spades, as we had to wait for John to return from the john.

A Birthday Interlude

As I write this, it is the next day, 2 March -- John_Braley?'s birthday. Everyone wish him a happy one! It's too bad we didn't get a cake for John, but let's be sure to have one for next year -- it will be a milestone ("because we use the decimal system", according to John).

[Later: Marty points out John's birthday next year will be a milestone in a number of bases besides 10, including 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 15, 20, and 30.]


Assuming that the age in question is 60, it's not a "milestone", in the sense of having the first number be the only nonzero number (such as 40, 100, 2000, or whatever), in all of those bases. In base 2 it's 111100, in base 3: 2020, in base 5: 220, in base 6: 140. It is a "milestone" in the others (12, 15, 20, 30), by the definition above, and in base 10 of course.


Obviously, that's not the definition I was using, Alex. My definition was broader: a milestone birthday only has to end in zero. Using your definition, we run into the bizarre difficulty that (counting normally, in base 10), 20 is a milestone birthday but 110 is not!

By the way -- it's just a joke! :)


Ah, I see. Anything ending with a 0 is a milestone, hmm. That would make every other year a milestone in base 2. I prefer my definition, but I guess it doesn't really matter. And I realize it's a joke. ;)


You can define "milestone" however you like. Since I am celebrating the birthday of my good friend, I will choose the definition that gives him the absolutely maximum number of milestones next year. Hey, John's birthday is a milestone even this year -- in base 59!


Back to the Game

Cow_Pie? is a game \xE0 la Cheapass with some interesting strategy and a bizarre theme, based on the contests that some state and county fairs have: a farmyard is marked out into small plots on which people place bets. If the cow in the yard craps on your space, you win! Tim's game actually awards medium points if the cow farts on your space, and a few points if it just stops on or crosses over your space. Also, you score half the points for one of these actions if the cow does something next to, rather than on, your space.

AlphaTim teaches his new game.

Players select four hidden spaces from a hand of eight cards dealt to them at the beginning of the game. The barnyard is toroidal; for example, if the cow jumps the fence on the east side, it lands on a space on the west side. Each player gets to be the Farmer in turn; the Farmer gets to play and draw extra cards.

At the start of each turn, players play up to two cards indicating the cardinal compass direction(s) in which they want the cow to move. These can cancel out; thus, if a North, South, and West are played, the N and S cancel and the cow starts heading west. Once cards are revealed, players may in real time play any number of cards from their hands to weight certain directions and even to make the cow move farther than usual in that direction. When no one wants to fight any more, a Cow Card is turned up. "Methane" means the cow moves one space in the specified direction and farts, "Moove" [sic] that it just moves one space, "Confused" that it heads the opposite direction, and "Stubborn" that it stays where it is. (The big payoff is the "Cow Pie" card, but this does not come up until late in the game.) After the Cow Card is turned up, players can each play one more card to influence the cow, except the Farmer, who can play two.

As a playtester, I remarked that Cow Pie was "too long for what it was", a common gamer complaint (we had been playing an hour and a half at that point), and that the Cow Pie card should come out earlier. Mark P, who was watching the game after his Puerto Rico victory, suggested that Tim give rules for long and short games, and how to set up the deck for them. Tim did yank a couple of cards from our deck to speed up the game. He said when he plays with his teenage daughters, they play more quickly and decisively. John and I were spending a lot more time thinking.

Mark remarked that ironically, the game might be more strategic than most people who would buy it would expect, and that "people looking for a deep strategic game aren't going to buy a game about cow poop". A marketing quandary for Tim!

Cow Pie: The Last Battle.

As in Cosmic_Encounter?, there is a final showdown in the game Cow Pie. When the "Cow Pie" card is turned up, players have one more attempt to make the cow crap on their spot. If you examine the photo above, you'll see the cow is standing in the middle of four spaces with yellow markers in the southeast part of the board. The one to the upper left is John's marker, the two horseshoes are mine, and the marker between the horseshoes is Tim's. John wanted the cow to stay where it was, so he would get 3 points for a cow pie next to his spot, while Tim would get 3 points, and I would get 6 points for having two spots next to the cow pie. Tim and I wanted the cow to move east, so Tim would get 6 points for a cow pie right on his spot, and I would get 6 points for adjacent spots, while John, who had a big pile of point chits, would get nothing. Actually, secretly I had two "Spook" cards which could make the cow go one space further, bilking Tim out of three points, but I didn't have to use them, as John ended up making the cow go further to decrease Tim's points anyway.

I won Cow Pie by tying for 15 points with John and winning the tiebreaker, in a battle reminiscent of our San Marco game a few weeks ago (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030208). John complained that not only did I growl, "WHAT IS THE TIEBREAKER?" this time, but I asked Tim to make one up. Tim decided that whoever was the Farmer on the last round would win the tie. (On the way home I asked him what would happen if neither of the tied players were the Farmer. He said the victory would go to the tied player with the most cards.) John suggested that the tiebreaker should go to whomever didn't win the tie last time. Today on the phone he suggested perhaps it should go to the person whose birthday it was...

I declined a prize (or, if you like, I pre-accepted a copy of Dave_Howell?'s book earlier in the evening). All told, the game lasted almost exactly two hours.


Ron H-E 15 + Farmer
John B 15
Tim S 8


If there is no tie-breaker, shouldn't the winners just be considered to be tied, and thus both have won?


There is a tiebreaker... now.


I've reduced the cow cards from 24 to 18 and I'm working on some other ideas that should reduce the game time down. As for the tiebreaker even though it is a little random, I might go with if one of the winners is the farmer he wins and if none of the winners is the farmer then the player that would have become the farmer first if the game continued is the winner. Does that last sentence make sense? It sounded good in my head.


Formula De

Around 9:20, during the second great mixing, three players started a game of Formula_De? at the other end of Table 1 from Traumfabrik. The game lasted until close to midnight, well after everyone else had gone home. Alex S took first place (and fourth place with his second car), Dave H took second place, and Dave A third. (See TheTerribleTwos if you're having trouble keeping Daves A(dams) and H(owell) apart.) No other car finished. (It is surprising Dave A did not do well in this game; he is a Formula De fiend, and won a year-long Seattle tournament.)

By this point, the prize bag and I were long gone, and Dave A wrote to me later, "Everyone left before I remembered to give Alex a prize (our prizes this week were packages of popcorn)." So I guess we owe Alex a prize. Maybe if Dave H donates some more copies of Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility...

The BatmanCam reveals that Dave A is now dressing to colour-coordinate with his beloved Formula De boards. (Left: Dave H.)


Alex S 1st, 4th
Dave H 2nd
Dave A 3rd

Comments from the players?


You've Got Cash!

In an earlier version of this page, I wrote:

Alex had asked earlier in the evening whether we have an affiliate program to raise funds for prizes. Yes, we have an affiliate program with Funagain, but no one except Marty and I ever uses it, so we've never gotten a check. However details are at the bottom of every newsletter. I estimate if everyone in the group who buys from Funagain used our link, we would be making upwards of $100 a year for the group to do with as it sees fit, whether to get some nice prizes for the prize bag, to donate to a local charity like the Chicken Soup Brigade (where some group members work), or something else. But nooo, everyone is too lazy to use the link at the bottom of every newsletter. :)

Since I wrote the bitchy passage above, I received a message from Funagain that after a couple of years of being in their affiliate program, we are about to receive a check for $58.00 plus change. It transpired that several Seattle Cosmologists had bookmarked our Funagain link and used it to buy their games. Thanks, folks! Since 5% (our cut) of $1000 is $50, it's clear that people have bought more than a thousand dollars worth of games through our affiliate program. Marty and I haven't spent that much, but it's clear somebody has.

Now $58 is not a lot on the cosmic scale, but it is on the Seattle Cosmic scale, so we're discussing on the mailing list how to spend it judiciously. Opinion seems to be leaning toward buying some good prizes for the prize bag, with a strong minority favouring donating GermanStyleGames to children's hospitals. I would be in favour of the latter if certain logistical problems could be worked out, such as finding games that are easy to learn by kids and parents who are distracted and stressed to the max, and what to do about kids losing game pieces. I have another charitable proposition that I will bring up on the list shortly.

More news as it happens; meanwhile, keep using that link! It works!


Most people went home at 11:10. The Cow Pie and Formula De crews remained. Cow Pie ended around 11:20, and Tim and I went home, leaving the Formula De crew racing until around midnight. Then, presumably, everyone else went home except Dave and Kathy.

Thanks for hosting, Dave and Kathy! See you next week at Tim'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, 8 March 2003, 1:00 PM at the house of Timothy_Higgins? in Bothell (Mill Creek). Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES! It will be a LongGameDay. We will be playing Twilight_Imperium?.

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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