Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Saturday, 8 March 2003

Twilight All Day

Seattle Cosmic met again in Mill Creek on Saturday, 8 March, this time for a LongGameDay, starting at 10:00 AM and ending around midnight. Present, in rough order of appearance, were Timothy_Higgins? (the host); David_Adams?; Nat_Dupree? and Steve_Dupree?; Paul_David_Unwin?; Steve_Vall\xE9e?; Marty_Hale-Evans? and Ron_Hale-Evans? (me), with Alex_Rockwell?; Kisa_Griffin? and Meredith_Hale?; JT_Thomas?; Dan_Crouch? and Alex_Swavely?; ChadUrsoMcDaniel and John_Braley?; Tim "AlphaTim" Schutz; Mark Purtill; and Dave_Howell? and Eric_Yarnell,_ND?; Jay_Lorch?, for a total of 21 people. Twelve of the people were there at 10:00 AM or shortly thereafter to play two games of Twilight_Imperium?, while the other nine people showed up around 5:00 PM or thereafter.

Farm animal prizes for the evening were donated by AlphaTim; they were left over when he bought a cow figure for his game Cow_Pie?.


JT arrived at 10:20a, anxious about possibly being the last to arrive for the newbie TI table. He hoped his tardiness would be forgiven in light of having brought Krispy Kremes. Much to his relief no one seriously expected the TI games to begin until 11a.

(META: Do the above sentences seem strange to you? Check out DocVersusThreadMode and provide your input!)


Twilight Imperium (advanced game)

The South Side Express arrived around 10:25 AM, bearing Marty, Ron, and Alex R. Meredith and Kisa were just arriving too, and JT Thomas was about five minutes behind. Already at Tim's house and ready to go were Tim H, Dave A, Nat and Steve D, Paul U and (I'm pretty sure) Steve V.

The advanced Twilight_Imperium? game ran from 11:30 AM to 6:50 PM, nearly 7 1/2 hours, not counting setup. We rolled for table positions (which meant positions on the board as well), ending up with a circle running Tim H, Marty H-E, Mer H, Ron H-E, Dave A, Kisa G, and back to Tim H again. When we placed our tiles, it turned out that Mecatol Rex, the Imperial planet at the center of the Galaxy, was surrounded by five completely empty hexes and one Supernova. Our galaxy looked like a doughnut (which is what we had for breakfast, thanks to JT).

Yawn. Good morning... (L: Kisa. R: Tim H.)

Our game was played with Manifest Destiny, extra races from the Hope's End expansion, Shock Troops (which didn't get used much), and Leaders. We chose our races randomly too:


Dave A Letnev Black
Kisa G Jol-Nar Blue
Marty H-E Xxcha White
Mer H Mentak Green
Ron H-E Sol Yellow
Tim H Hacan Red

The early game was interrupted a couple of times by business calls on my cell phone. Mer asked me to switch it off, but when Kisa's phone interrupted the game later, I switched my phone back on and just didn't answer it.

Dave A is known to be an aggressive player, and I was concerned about sitting next to him, as Tim H was the last time we played (2002-08-03). Marty advised me on the way over that Dave tended to focus primarily on the military aspects of the game. I wish I had taken her advice and built up Sol as a stronger military power, but I was trying to follow the advice instead on some strategy sheets Kisa had handed around, and make Sol more balanced. (Just as on Star Trek, the humans are the "normal" race, while all the other races in Twilight Imperium are an exaggeration of some human characteristic.)

12:35 PM: The first battle of the game occurs. Dave A invades one of my systems through a wormhole. Dave had two Cruisers, a Dreadnought, an Admiral, and a General, versus my Carrier and Ground Forces. He managed to destroy my Cruiser and bombard one of my Ground Forces off the planet, but couldn't take over the planet himself because he had brought no Ground Forces -- and the special ability of his race was that his Ground Forces were extra strong! I couldn't see why he was initiating the first battle of the game while ignoring two empty, neutral planets next to his home system that he could have had for nothing, and indeed Dave was planet-poor at the end of the game. If I read my notes right, Dave lost at least some of his forces in this system anyway because a Law Card was voted down shortly during a Political Phase, compelling forces in systems with wormholes to destruct.

Marty runs Twilight Imperium Manager on her laptop.

Our TI game was computer-assisted (the newbie game was not). There were a few glitches; once the TI Manager crashed, and there were a few times that Marty got confused, but overall the computer seemed to help.

Turn 3: Marty already has 7 planets, two short of enough to win the game, if other conditions are fulfilled.

We were all thinking hard and playing hard, and there were some arguments and bad feelings sprinkled throughout the game, but for the most part we "made nice".

During another Political Phase, I got voted off the planet Dave was contesting militarily (I had a fair number of planets and people were starting to say it was time for me to get "spanked"). Dave A then got the planet he wanted. Another Political Phase brought an irrelevant card about Mecatol Rex up for vote; we unanimously "abstained and disdained" it.

Marty obtained a card that allowed her to annul a Trade Agreement. She threatened to annul the one between Kisa and me, but Kisa threatened to annul everyone's Trade Agreements if she did. Then, backing down from deploying his economic doomsday device, he merely threatened to play Plague and Local Unrest on Marty. In the end, no nasty cards were played!

Turn 5: Marty sends a Cruiser to Mecatol Rex, the seat of the old Empire at the center of the Galaxy.

I was about to suggest a Trade Agreement with Dave A, when he invaded my home system (Sol) with overwhelming force, destroying all my forces in the system including my only Spacedock (which allows one to build ships). I don't know why I didn't see it coming... At this point I was furious and echoed Tim Higgins, saying I didn't want to sit next to Dave next time either. Tim said, "At this rate, you'll be sitting in the next room, Dave."

We took a break at 2:50 PM, giving Tim time to run an errand, hungry Mer time to eat a sandwich, and angry me time to calm down and remember It Was Only A Game. When we returned to the table, however, it was clear the others saw me as the sick gazelle of the herd after I lost my home system. Mer took one of my planets and Dave took two more. Paul U stuck his head in from the newbie game and joked about my "sick gazelle" metaphor: "Caw! Caw!"

Meredith counts her funds and her forces.

3:50 PM: It's the midgame, and we've been playing about 4 1/2 hours. The Jol-Nar (Kisa) are stepping up! They are supposed to be strong in the endgame if they can hold on that long. Marty speculated that one reason Kisa was doing relatively well (whereas I got completely wiped out with them when I played them) was that he had two Scientists (Leaders). "That's the whole reason for Leaders -- to make the Jol-Nar not be so lame," Marty said jokingly.

Meredith claims to be the BigLoser? again, but she is wrong, as will become evident...

I play an Action Card that allows me to build two "free" Dreadnoughts in my home system, Spacedock or no Spacedock. Dave moves a fleet in and eliminates them, but admits it costs him. Meredith takes two more of my planets (I forgot to use my Diplomat on one). I simply can't get any leverage. I am now down to two external planets, and thrice I've lost spacedocks and had to throw away the tens of credits worth of ships I had built and was ready to place. Finally, Mer moves up from the bottom of the ranking on the computer. "I'm not the BigLoser? any more, and that was my goal", she said.

Well, after Dave invaded my home system, my goals were as follows, in order:

  1. Stay in the game and maximise my position. 2. Regain my home system. 3. Make sure Dave doesn't win.

By this point in the game, I had narrowed my focus to just goal #1, although because Dave was focusing on the military aspect of the game, to the exclusion of the economic, diplomatic, technological, etc. aspects, he was doing a pretty good job on #3 himself.

4:25 PM: Only two more advances on the Progression Chart are necessary for someone to win.

In a moment of utter cruelty (sniff), Marty says, "So, Ron, it's not just the lameness of the Jol-Nar [that got you wiped out last time]." Then she hugs me. All is forgiven. The Jol-Nar are reputed to be the lamest race in the game, but this time they have two Scientists. Alex Rockwell, in the newbie game this time but no mean strategist, says later, "Jol-Nar and Sol are worst in my opinion, as Jol-Nar is so easy to pick on, while Sol is so balanced they don't really have any advantage they can focus on." Nyeah. Paul Unwin says "Poor Sol got raped" in both games.

Tim, who is playing the economic powerhouse of the Hacan, becomes Minister of Commerce by unanimous vote (surprise, surprise).

Kisa tries trading some Tech but is told he can't do this according to the rules. (After last game, people told me if only I had traded some Tech, I might have survived. So much for that theory.)

5:00 PM: We have been playing for 5 1/2 hours. Alex S and Dan C have just arrived. I call John B on my cellphone to see if he is coming because I have something I want to show him. He is. I tell him about my pathetic showing in the TI game and he says that I'm a "very consistent Twilight Imperium player". I guess that's one way to look at it.

There is a rules dispute between Kisa and Tim. Although it was never agreed upon, Tim was under the impression that TI would end when "regular" game night started at 5:00.

Dave A borrows my Lord_of_the_Rings_Risk? rules to read. There is much loud laughter from the kitchen. They sound as though they're having a better time than we are. Then it is clear that their game is finished, and Paul U leaves around 5:30.

Tim and Kisa take a half-hour combat turn. The rest of us twiddle our various body parts. Chad and John arrive, and John remarks about the "birthday milestone" dispute last week (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030301) that he has a right to all those milestones this year, because the Japanese would count him as being 60 now, not 59. I show John my new book on Fischer_Random_Chess?. Mer suggests that instead of getting a hat with the four piecepack icons on it (see PiecepackGear), you could get four hats with one suit icon each. Dave suggests that you could then play a game like The_Great_Dalmuti? with them.

6:00: I am down to one single planet. It is clear that Marty is in a very strong position. The other players try to vote in a card that will hurt her position, but I veto it, reasoning that if she wins now, the game will end with me still in it, whereas if the game lasts much longer, my sole remaining planet will be eliminated. I am accused of kingmaking by Marty and Tim. Others agree. Tim reasons that I'll be 6th (last) in the game whether I am eliminated or not. My reasoning is different. There is a big difference (to me) between coming in last with, say 10 points, and coming in last with 0 points (which I would if I were eliminated). If game ranking is all that matters in games, as Tim maintains, then why was it funny when Mark Purtill scored 25 last week in 6_Nimmt!? with the rest of us scoring 83, and Steve Dupree joked, "Not bad for my first game. I tied for second place, after all"? (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030222.) Is it "just as good" to lose a Chess match 5-0 as it is to lose it 3-2? Whether or not anyone believes it, I really was trying to help myself. I hate genuine kingmaking probably more than the next person. For a different perspective, talk to JT. He told me he thinks kingmaking is just dandy.

A comment on Ron's description of the alleged "kingmaker" event.

If you play a game that's designed so that somebody can be a kingmaker, then you shouldn't be too surprised when somebody does. As it appears to me, in this game of TI, the game presented Ron with an opportunity to choose between different ways of losing by making him a kingmaker. Not vetoing the card doesn't change the fact that it was the game, not Ron, that was screwing the other players. "Hey, Ron, if you fall onto your own sword and die early, that'll hurt the player in the lead and give the rest of us a chance to try to win." As soon as Ron had the choice of veto-ing or not, he became a kingmaker/kingbreaker. He couldn't not choose, could he? And to choose was to hand an almost-crown to Marty, or to choose to deny her that crown. Presumably, the 'nice' thing to do is to play against the leader, stringing out the game and giving other players more chance to take the lead.

Unfortunately, the 'virtuous' choice was not in Ron's best interests. In a nutshell, Ron, strangely enough, wanted to keep playing the game! Expecting him to be virtuous, never mind what it might do to his personal situation (or friendship with Marty, or his desire to go get dinner instead of playing the game, or myriad other extra-game influences) and always choose the king-breaker option is simply not fair. At least the game didn't hand him the crown and force him to choose who got to be king!

We now return you to Ron's report....

-- Dave_Howell?

The end game. Note Ron's single yellow planet.

Tim H keeps saying, "Let's get this over with."

AlphaTim arrives. Meredith remarks, "Mecatol Rex sounds like an old person vitamin."

6:30: We have been playing for 7 hours. Marty takes the last two planets she needs and goes all out with Action Cards on what may be the last, decisive turn of the game. She engages in her first battle.

Tim H went to get pizza and came back.

People are considering conceding to Marty. The options on the table are as follows:

  1. End and concede to Marty. 2. Just call the game, no winner declared. 3. Keep playing.

We keep playing.

6:50: Mark Purtill has arrived.

The game is called, roughly 7 1/2 hours after we started. Marty and Tim were the furthest ahead. I stayed in until the "end".

There is a furious row -- Dave doesn't want to concede victory to Marty because he thinks she had a lucky placement of planets at the start of the game. Displaying his military bias, he says, "She hardly even fought until the end of the game!" Kisa agrees with him. Marty says that's tantamount to calling her stupid and a lightweight, and that people chose where to place their hexes at the start of the game -- perhaps they should have chosen better. Dave admits Marty did pretty well and would have been likely to win had we continued.

I say I don't want to play another long game soon if we're not determined to finish it.

Tim says he still thinks I was kingmaking when I vetoed that card, and says, "Can we play a different long game next time?"

"Sure! What about Kingmaker??" I say.

Womp womp womp wommmmmmmmp.....


I had a great time! Yeah, I shouted a bit, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a great time. I don't even hate TI from the experience (quite the opposite), or any of the other players. :) I think a certain level of frustration might be intrinsic to TI, given that it's so long and complex (which inevitably leads to a certain number of mistakes, takebacks, etc.), and especially when the players are competitive and basically evenly-matched in skills. I think pretty much everyone had a good point in the argument, even. So, no worries here.

Tim and I were on one side of the board with an alliance, playing the Hacan and Xxcha respectively. Between the Xxcha's influence and the Hacan's money, it's an extremely strong alliance, especially since both races are somewhat vulnerable to military attack. Tim had Kisa's Jol-Nar on the other side, creating a nice peaceful pocket. :) I allied with Mer's Mentak on my other side, which helped me since they were the most military race on our end.

Our game was pretty interesting in one way, which is that we had no Sardakk N'orr, so nobody was motivated to be particularly aggressive. Dave was playing the Letnev, but was in a planet-poor area, so he was busy trying to get the necessary planets rather than invading. Like JT, Ron barricaded himself in last game when he was playing the Jol-Nar (with empty space and asteroids), and did it again this time playing Sol. The problem with that is that it also makes it hard to get out; this was really antithetical to the strengths of the Humans. In reality, he could have also been one of the more aggressive races, but Ron personally doesn't like to play wargames, so his personality worked against his race.

I had mixed feelings about playing with Leaders, but it undoubtedly helped the Jol-Nar very much, making them a viable race. I would advocate playing it again if only for that aspect. I suspect they could also be useful for other races, but I don't really understand them completely yet.


I enjoyed playing the Letnev, but wished I had more planets to start with. My hand only had 4 planets altogether, two were really "juicy" as Ron and I bantered over most of the time. They were the functional equivalent of Mecatol Rex, since taking them both gives you 9 influence, something I didn't really want. I LIKED going last, at least until Integrated Economy came out.

I should have put the asteroid next to Marty or Tim, not Ron, although having the tech that allows me to fly through the asteroids from the start meant that I was planning on hitting Ron's homeworld from the start - I just needed the right opportunity. Kisa could barely keep a straight face as he was telling me "No, you can't have the planet next to my homeworld."

Then everyone felt that putting wormholes next to me was a good idea. That left nowhere for me to put my only other planet but next to someone else.

The way the game is set up, I think it lends itself to at least 1-2 people getting really screwed right from the start. It was REALLY a challenge for me to scrape my way to 7 planets, and I don't like to hit people that seem to get upset when I attack them (like I felt Ron was feeling). At one point he exclaimed "I don't want to sit next to David ever again!", when it was a random seating arrangement anyway. I took it as a compliment to my awesome strategical prowess ;-P Or was it lucky dice? My dreadnaughts couldn't hit for sh*t.

Would it be better to lay all the tiles out randomly?

I also really liked the Leaders, and again, I realy enjoyed playing the Letnev.

I look forward to another game, hopefully after we've discussed ways to balance the game better? Or does everyone feel that it's balanced?

What I mean is, in the initial tile placement, when it's all laid out and one player has 8 planets around their home system and another player only has one, would people at the table agree that that is a balanced setup?


Twilight Imperium (novice game)

The Twilight_Imperium? newbie game ran from about 11:00 AM to 5:20 PM, about 6 1/2 hours of play.


Alex R Xxcha White
Paul U Sol Yellow
Steve V Letnev Red
JT Jol-Nar Blue
Steve D Sardakk N'orr Black
Nat D Hacan Green

The Novicium Galaxy

Above shows the starting position of the game. Yes, there is only one planetary system next to Jol-Nar (the glare, despite efforts to place it over the supernova, is obscuring an empty hex). JT adopted a strategy of making his region of space as unappetizing as possible. There is definite merit to this course of action, but it would seem to require a delicate balance to discourage invasion but promote expansion.

Alex's initial hand of tiles held no planets. Since players are somewhat free to place their bad tiles next to other players, he could have cause considerable pre-game havoc with such a hand, but instead decided to swap two tiles out of his hand for the two tiles that he'd randomly removed (as per the rules) before the deal. This probably should have been done randomly (or not at all).

At the last moment, the Novice table decided against the use of any rules variants. The vote on UpcomingTwilightImperiumGames had been for the use of Manifest Destiny, but further discussion raised serious doubts about the advantage the rule (which allows purchase of neighboring planets before play starts) would give to the races with more starting cash. What did the Advanced table think of this rule?

(By the way, let me apologize for the dearth of accurate notes about this game. Without a computer to do our bookkeeping, much of my note taking had to do with making sure everyone's statistics were current. It actually wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but I would prefer to use a computer in the future.)

Jol-Nar suddenly get it.

The Novice table had a great deal of fun with the political phases, at least before the voting bloc of the Three Mighty Races made any discussion moot. The above picture shows JT's reaction (staged, but based on a real event) to suddenly understanding that maybe Jol-Nar wasn't getting the best end of a particular bout of politicking.

Awww. Wan out of pwanets.

The above picture shows a galaxy on the brink of war. There were no neutral planets left, so any further expansion would (and did) come at the expense of other races. Jol-Nar and Sol are not doing particularly well, with only a handful of planets each. Scattered to the right are most of the Trade Agreements for N'orr, Hacan, and Xxcha. To the left are ALL the Trade Agreements for Jol-Nar and Letnev.

The Emirate's massive vanguard.

The the left, in the image above, one can see a few N'orr ships off the Hacan frontier. The focus of the picture is Hacan's response to this threat. At one point, Nat stopped trying to place pieces on that crowded hex, and just dumped them on top of what was already there.


Random notes:

Paul Unwin was the only experienced player at this table. (For all the good it did me. -P)

Paul tells me that this game was essentially an axis of The Three Mighty Races (Sardak N'orr, Hacan, and Xxcha) versus The Three Rat Races (Letnev, Sol, and Jol-Nar). Sol was blockaded on the second turn and couldn't build ships. (A steep (for Sol) 6-credit bribe during the next Political Phase got Xxcha to move out, but the damage was done. -P)

JT, the Jol-Nar, was "deeply disturbed" that the Hacan were scoring points for every resource in the Galaxy.

The six players agreed that the N'orr/Hacan/Xxcha axis "won" the game, which was not played to completion. There were no big battles. The game ended around 5:20, and Paul went home around 5:30.


Regarding TI, our game was pretty fun. There wasn't much conflict early on, and just when conflict seemed about to start, we had a long term truce, which delayed it for two turns. This really helped me and Nat, who had the highest incomes (I was Xxcha, she was Hacan).

We were next to each other and had an alliance from the start. I went after Paul playing Sol to the other side, and Nat built up some defenses against Steve D. Steve D didn't really have anywhere else to go except at Nat, as JT (who was playing Jol-Nar to the other side), had created a massive void on his entire area of the board, with no planets, just so that Steve (who was the people who get +1 in combat) wouldn't attack him.

Eventually, our side of the board came down to me, Nat, and Steve having huge buildups of fleets. If one of us attacked another, the two who fought would then be taken over by the remaining one. For awhile it looked like Nat and Steve were going to fight, but they also realized that this would be disasterous. When Steve then suggested that the two of them attack me together, I then suggested that the three of us team up and attack the other three on the other side of the board. We had a clear advantage in this, with many more votes (influence) that the other team, a lot more income, and a little more military strength.

From that point, the game became a solid half the galaxy against the other battle, with the Alex/Nat/Steve D alliance versus the Paul/Steve V/JT alliance. We used the political card each turn to screw them over, since we had all the votes, and each turn the game went on, we gained in power, as Nat had trade with all players (Hacan), our side had a lot more income, and we all had trade agreements, while our opponents did not.

The other three first plotted to attack me, as Steve V and Paul were near me, and JT could Spatial Jump to my area, but when I bought Integrated Economy and popped out seven dreadnoughts next turn, that plan came to a halt. We had a couple skirmishes, and I lost one system to Paul, and another to Steve (I think), but I would have easily been able to push them back once my ships got to the front next turn. Our alliance was such that the three of us were defending each other's planets with our fleets (the first person had to vacate first), and were giving each other planets to allow each other to rise on the influence chart.

At the game end (when we called it), Nat would have been able to win on that turn, unless I stopped her, and I had a win in 2 turns that would have been very hard to stop. I had given Nat a planet she needed to rise to 7 planets outside her home, and we (me and Steve D) were going to give her 2 more to get her to the win.

Had we played cutthroat and fought it out, either myself or Nat would have ended up winning, with the other in second. Steve V also would have gotten to the second highest rank on the chart. Steve D (the Steve in our alliance) was weakened by conflict and was trying to fend off a Spacial Jump possibility by JT, so he would not have been able to do much. Both Nat and I had Integrated Economies, and incomes over 60 per turn, so the power was clearly in our hands.

We called it a joint win for the Alex/Nat/Steve D alliance, as we had clearly been playing the final several turns as firm allies, to the point of planning together and defending each other's worlds.

Overall, a great game, and a lot of fun.

A couple more thoughts on TI...

I think that Hacan is probably the strongest power, due to their massive trade income and the fact that their trade treaties stay forever.

I also think that Xxcha are very good, as they have good starting income and are well positioned for fast expansion. Their influence is nice, but not as good as money.

Letnev's high starting income is very strong, and their ground bonus makes it very hard for them to lose any planet defended by troops and a PDS. I think they and Xxcha are probably the next best (IMO).

I also think Sardakk N'orr are good for their combat bonus, but they must actively engage in combat to use this ability, and war can be very costly...

Jol-Nar and Sol are worst in my opinion, as Jol-Nar is so easy to pick on, while Sol is so balanced they don't really have any advantage they can focus on.

(Strangely enough, according to representatives of Fantasy Flight Games, Sol and Jol-Nar are the races that won most often during playtesting. Jol-Nar are weak, but their technology makes them fast and flexible, able to do a lot with few resources. Sol, when not played incompetently or screwed over early, can become as much of an Influence powerhouse as Xxcha, and their production rate can be strictly unparalleled. - P)

That is based on the 6 original races.

Next time I play, I would vote to play with the extra races, so that people who don't like their initial race deal, will be able to swap with one not dealt out.

(Probably not a bad plan, but what makes you think the other races are any better than, say, Sol? -P)

Also, if we were to play again sometime and have 2 tables, I propose that they be the "serious" table and the "lighthearted" table, taking the place of the advanced and newbie tables we had this time. I felt our game with big galactic alliances and the half the galaxy against the other half, was a lot of fun. Whenever we went into the other room, it was very quiet and everyone was busy thinking hard. (Except at the end.)

I think I just liked the mood of our game a lot more than what I feel the mood of the other game was (I wasn't in it though, so who knows if that was accurate).


I think the Hacan are a very good race, but they can be vulnerable to attack, especially early. (I played Hacan last time.)

The Xxcha turned out to be better than I expected, actually. The influence can be really powerful if you use it properly (it certainly helps to have the advantage of moving and attacking first). It can also equal money if you play it right. :)

I still don't get the Letnev really, probably because I play traders better than I play warriors, generally.

As I said, the Leaders help Jol-Nar tremendously. I agree, though, that the balanced nature of Sol can actually be really confusing unless you're really experienced.

I still don't really get the Yssaril, but I've played with the Mentak twice, and they're pretty cool. It is nice to have a choice.

About "serious" and "lighthearted" tables: This goes back to the ancient SC discussion of "there is more than one definition of fun". :) I think most of us were having fun thinking hard and playing hard, and I don't think there was (through most of the game) a lack of joking and so on, either. I had a splendid time, even counting in the disagreement about the end of the game (which can be forestalled next time by making more clear agreements about when and how to end the game). What you're saying, in more formal SC parlance, is that you want one "hardcore" table and one "non-hardcore" table; I think that's probably good, because both groups tend to spoil the "fun" of the other group when they're mixed up together. It's not that one is better than the other, but that it's two ways to approach playing and two different sets of expectations about what one wants to get out of it.


See the SeattleCosmicGuidelines for a discussion of "regular" and "hardcore" games.


It's interesting -- usually I am one of the ones that would want to be in the 'serious' table, and I usually enjoy games with a lot of thinking... like Puerto_Rico? and Tigris_&_Euphrates?.

But this is just the type of game where I enjoy a bit lighter atmosphere. Bidding games are like that as well for me... I remember our game of Ra? that one night where I just kept holding all my suns and never spending them, hoping for the one big score at the end when everyone was out. And I certainly wouldnt play very seriously in a game like Aladdin's_Dragons? or Fist_of Dragonstones?... in those type of blind bidding games, most of the fun is in seeing what everyone else bid, who got the item for really cheap, and who paid a bunch only to get nothing.

I don't think our 3 person alliance / half the galaxy against the other half thing from the newbie TI game would've gone over very well in the advanced game. ;) The reason it worked was that the three of us just decided that we would work together and think of a win for one of us as a win for all. And it was a lot of fun.

So I would want to playing in the "non-hardcore" game next time (which I expect will eventually happen, but probably not for awhile).


I'm the same way; I have different preferences and different expectations for different games. In blind bidding games, it's hard to get very hardcore, because the surprise tends to make you laugh, and there's a certain (largish) amount of luck so that it's hard to get personally invested in a strategy. And I certainly wouldn't play hardcore in games that involve largely interpersonal interaction. However, in games that are complex and involve actual "campaigns", I like to play hard with other people who want to do the same, be really competitive, not make silly or random moves, etc. For me, that's a large part of the fun, to really challenge myself in a duel against other people who are also doing their hard best.

Hard to say, but the two games where Tim and I formed an alliance caused no end of whining and criticism from some of the other players, who seemed to think that kind of strategy was somehow "unfair" to other players... possibly because it's effective..... :)


I am usually like that as well. I think the difference is in wargames. In games like this, where players attack each other and have battles, if I play really seriously then I tend to take things personally, and get upset if I get attacked/ganged up on etc... Thus, I try to play well, but more casually, not caring as much about the end result.

In typical German games, however, I play very much to win, and don't like random moves...

I think it's that I don't like wargames very much if they are supercompetitive with everyone trying to kill everyone else. But in German games I don't have this feeling, and being competitive is more trying to maximize one's score in comparison to everyone else, and player interaction is more indirect. So I don't feel so bad if I am playing very seriously and I happen to be damaged by the action of another player.


One thing I can say with certainty is that this TI session really makes me want to have another one. I didn't make a good showing of myself, early stabbing and unlucky card draws excepted. I hope I get another chance to play Sol, someday, even without Manifest Destiny. Maybe I'm rooting for an underdog, but I truly think Sol can do well in this game. For instance, if I had forgone any initial technology and spent my first turn income on a picket fleet of 7 cruisers instead, I wouldn't have had nearly as many early problems with my neighbors.

Favorite moment of the game: Mecatol Rex is the central world of the Twilight Imperium galaxy, the former throneworld of the Lazax Empire and the current base for the Galactic Council. Its crater-pocked and radiation-seared surface isn't good for much in the way of resources (and our Council voted the world to be the Holy Planet of Ixth, negating all potential unit production there), but the politicians and activists that make their homes there create a highly charged atmosphere of debate and protest.

Shortly after Queen Sardakk's warbugs landed on the planet, commandeering its meager industrial output and holding sway over its political clout, many members of the citizenry staged worldwide rallies against the galacticization of the N'orr. "Why must we submit to such subjugation?" the people demanded.

"Because we said so, that's why," replied the N'orr.

"Oh," said the people, and went about their business.

(In game terms, I used a card called Uprising to force Steve D. to make an Insurgence Check against Mecatol Rex. An Insurgence Check is a die roll against a planet's Influence score. Greater than or equal to the score, and the check is successful, and there is no effect. Less than the score, and the player who owns the planet must remove two Ground Forces from it. If the planet has two or fewer Ground Forces and fails a check, it reverts to neutral status. Mecatol Rex has an Influence of 9. Steve rolled a 10.)

One other thing I'd like to say, regarding the seeming weakness of certain races and my comments above: Alex, I think you should really give Jol-Nar a try the next chance you get, even without the Leaders variant. With the right political manipulator at their helm, they can become quite a powerful race. I think you could do well with them. And no, I'm not suggesting this because I want you to lose your next game.


Magic: The Gathering

Starting around 5:30, Steve Dupree played Alex Rockwell at about 6 games of Magic:_The_Gathering?. Alex had several all-commons decks, while Steve brought his only deck, which had a few non-common cards in it.


Alex R 4 games
Steve D 2 games

Around 10:40 PM, Jay L and Eric Y played a few games of Magic at the card table.


Jay L 4 games
Eric Y 1 game


It was fun. I felt that several of the common decks I created were at a very good level to have a good match with Steve's deck. We were 2-2 in the 4 games played with those 3 decks I thought were of moderate power. I knew the red and the green ones were going to tromp over pretty much anything, regardless of the fact they had only commons... and this was the case. ;)


Die Magier von Pangaea

Around 5:35, Chad McDaniel and John Braley arrived, and Tim Schutz arrived around 6:05. Around 6:15, Chad, John, Tim, and Steve V started a game of Die_Magier_von_Pangaea?. This game had far too much LederHosen for my taste when I played it, but these four guys seemed to enjoy it.

(1) Clockwise from L: John B, Steve V, Chad McD?, Eric Y.
Steve and Eric look as though they've had a few too many chocolate chip cookies.
(2) John ponders his game-winning moves.

Scores were as follows, from first to fourth place:


John B 4 amulets, 22 goods
Chad McD? 4 amulets, 6 goods
Steve V 3 amulets, 19 goods
Tim S 3 amulets, 16 goods

John was awarded a rubber shark because he is so often a shark at Seattle Cosmic. (He grinned and admitted to being a shark at AlienCity and Entropy, at least.)


Unsure of what to do, I produced a lot of little folk and sent them out into the world to produce goods. By the time I thought of getting amulets, my folk happened to be in pretty good positions to buy them from willing sellers. Chad was first to 4 amulets, but low on goods. I got a 4th amulet home, ending the game, except that the 2 players after me would have a last turn. Chad would win if he could buy and bring home a 5th amulet. When he assured us all that that was not possible within the rules, I once again took up breathing. The game appears designed for leader bashing, but since we never got into that, we probably missed some interesting tactical aspects.



At Table 2 in the kitchen, Alex S introduced Dan C to Fluxx. They played three games, and Alex won all three.

Comments from the players?


Didn't need to introduce Dan to Fluxx - We've played dozens of games together at various locations (home, the local bar, a coffeehouse across town, etc).

-- Alex_Swavely?

Spite & Malice

Next up at Table 2, Alex S and Dan C played Nat D and JT at Spite_&_Malice?, which is played with a StandardDeckOfCards. Alex, Dan, and Nat played the first game, then JT joined for the remaining two games.

Alex won the first game, the second game was a four-way tie, and Nat sneaked past JT for a win in the third game.

For his victories in Fluxx and Spite & Malice, Alex was awarded a cock and bull.

Alex's cock and bull story

I believe we owe Nat a prize, probably another small farm animal. Dan said he was proud to be on a 100% losing streak at Seattle Cosmic. I warned him that unfortunately, if he played enough games with us, he would begin to win some.

Spite & Malice is normally a two-player game, but Alex said they figured out how to adapt it for 3 and 4 players. Perhaps they can give us the details on the Spite_&_Malice? page.

All these card games at Table 2 ended at 7:10 PM, and then Nat and Steve went home.

Comments from the players?



Two games of BANG!? were played, the first from about 7:10-8:00, the second from 8:00-8:30 or so. All I know is that in both games, the Sheriff was shot and the Outlaws won.

Comments from the players?



Alex R Renegade Sheriff
Dan C ??? ???
Dave A Vice? Renegade?
JT Sherriff Outlaw
Kisa G ??? ???
Mer H ??? ???


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

Industrial Waste

Around 7:20 at Table 1 in the dining room, four players sat down to play Industrial_Waste?, a game intended to bring home the realities of modern industry by a leading Green Party activist (said Jay).

Chad wandered through and shouted, "Polluters!". Indeed, it seems that in this game, accidents will happen. Fortunately for the consciences of the players, there don't seem to be any Bhopal-scale disasters. Marty said she felt bad enough having to "downsize" her company at one point. "I had to keep downsizing my company! It was awful!" she told me later. (Marty says she is an often-downsized contractor herself, so it felt very personal.)

Industrial Waste seems to be a true Ludist game: a game that educates and does some good, while at the same time being actually fun, unlike so many "educational" games. Monopoly? started out the same way, as an anti-monopolist game designed by some Quakers in Atlantic City; unfortunately, it was misappropriated and illegally patented by Charles Darrow, who is now commonly referred to as the inventor of the game, and then perverted to show how much fun owning a monopoly can be! I can only hope the same thing does not happen to Industrial Waste.

L-R: Mark P, Jay L, Tim H, Marty H-E.

The game ended around 9:00 PM with the following scores. Jay was awarded a copy of Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility by Dave_Howell?. (I believe Jay was the only person who had played the game before.)


Jay L 60
Tim H 59
Marty H-E 43
Mark P 42

Comments from the players?



Dave Howell and Eric Yarnell arrived around 8:10 PM. Dave and I talked about the charity action Seattle Cosmic is taking with our money from the Funagain affiliate program: the AgogProject. Then around 8:20, Alex R played Eric Y at a series of Netrunner games at one end of Table 3 in the living room, and Alex won every one. According to the players, the scores ran something like 10-0, 10-0, 10-0, 10-0, 10-1...

Alex was careful to use only tournament-legal cards this game.

Alex R played Dave H at another series of Netrunner games starting around 10:30. The reported scores are listed below.


Alex R 9 Runner 7 Corp 9 Runner 9 Corp
Dave H 0 Arthur Andersen 2 Lamarr 0 McWane 3 Rache


There are two possible ways of scoring Netrunner. You can either give 10 points to the winner, and a number of points to the loser equal to the number of agendas scored, or you can give to both players the number of agendas scored (or seven to the winner in the case of a win by alternate victory condition, like the Corp killing the Runner). Dave H prefers the second of the two methods, not scoring 10 for the winner, so we recorded those games like that. For my games with Eric, I believe the scores in that method would be 9-0, 7-0, 9-0, 7-1. Or something like that. It doesn't really matter. Like most CCGs, score is not really an issue in Netrunner. Like Chess, the real score is: Win is 1 point, Draw 1/2, Loss 0. Except you can't draw in Netrunner. Tournaments often use the score for some purposes however, and they use the 10 points for the win method.


All hail Alexander the Great! His unbeatable Corp is the fearful legend of the Net, and all CEOs quail and quiver at the thought of his dreaded Runner. I really didn't even get close to winning in any situation. The one Corp that really had a chance against his Runner was my tag & bag deck, Ashioto ("Footsteps"). Unfortunately, all the tracing in this one is based around dog ice, which Alex's Runner (hey man, give your decks names so they're easier and funner to refer to) broke the subroutines on very easily, given all his Clowns (these reduce the strength of ice). I have since fixed this flaw and hope to have another chance against him in two weeks. All this losing to Alex has also prompted Dave H and I to try to develop something that can actual beat these goliath decks. We'll see if they work or not--I won't hold my breath. Watch out Alex!


I still have a strong suspicion that the McWane corp could have won that game if I'd played it better, alas. Arthur Anderson didn't have a chance, though; it's gone back to the shop for some work. On the other hand, AA is a deck designed around what seems like an interesting idea, rather than 'the surest route to victory.' Lamarr's predecessor, Phantom, had a spectacular win record (winning one game 11 to 3), although Lamarr's not quite there yet. Rache and Lamarr are my two best runners, but they're both rather slow and sophisticated, not nimble, and thus exactly the wrong kind of deck to run against Alex's 'PsychoTycho?' (sans Tycho now) corporation.

(In like fashion, I've had the same four Magic decks since 1994 because they're fun, although one of them is also quite good.)

Although McWane lost too, it was ever so much fun to play. Alex's runner is practically a textbook Clown deck, which uses the program named Clown to globally reduce the strength of the corporation's defenses. However, McWane? doesn't have particularly strong defenses to start with, because half the time, what you find behind door number 2 is a goat. Or a cattle prod. Or worse. (The McWane steel company has an appalling record of gross OSHA violations, maiming or killing its workers at many times over the standard industry accident rate.) Alex finally took me down with an insidious card that allowed him to effectively run my R&D department multiple times in one turn, but he was awfully jumpy and hesitant before every run. Heh heh heh.

Nevertheless, fun time is over, and the gloves are coming off. Next time (in two weeks, I hope), should Alex willingly present that corp and runner again, he'll be facing a runner named Fever, and a corporation named . . . . Microsoft.

-- Dave_Howell?

All right, I hereby name the Runner deck that I used for those games "Krusty" (after Krusty the Clown). This shall also be the name of any improved incarnations of it I bring to later game nights. But what about my Corp? Hmm, what do you call a Corp that brutally attacks its competitors and steals their money? I don't know right now; if someone thinks of a name for it, I'll probably use it. This Corp was certainly evil, as it used entirely black ops, whereas my previous Corp was merely interested in making lots of money through advertising.

My clown deck was basically a "textbook" clown deck as Dave says, with the disadvantage that I didn't have all the cards necessary for it so I had to replace many with inferior cards. Inferior in the sense of "slower", but still fast enough for the decks I faced, which were not designed for extreme speed, which can be a problem for clown decks.

Furthermore, I have started playing Netrunner online... (See NetrunnerOnline.)


Lost for Words (Alpha Playing Cards)

Around 8:30, at the other end of Table 3, AlphaTim played Meredith H at a game of Lost_for_Words?, the first game designed for Alpha_Playing_Cards? that was not designed by AlphaTim himself. (I told Tim that you know your GameSystem has finally "arrived" when other people besides yourself begin designing games for it.)

Lost for Words, designed by Tom Scutt, is loosely based on Reiner Knizia's game Lost_Cities?, with an emphasis on the word loosely.


Tim S 161
Mer H 116

Tim beat Meredith at the game by a fair margin. Mer was saying she wasn't aware of when the deck would run out of cards (which marks the end of the game), so I think Tim's card-counting advantage as designer of the Alpha deck may have played a role here. Neither of them had played Lost for Words before, however.

Tim was awarded Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility, by Dave_Howell?.

At this point, Kisa invited me to learn a CollectibleCardGame, but I said I hate CCGs because of the "collectibility" gimmick and he said he usually agreed with me (an unpopular stance) and respected my position. (Also, I was tired as hell.)

Comments from the players?


Fast Food Franchise

Five players started a two-hour game of Fast_Food_Franchise? at Table 2 in the kitchen at about 8:30. I have played this game before at Seattle Cosmic, and it is too close to Monopoly? for me. (In fact, I heard someone (Alex S?) comparing a strategy they used in this game to a standard Monopoly strategy.) Nevertheless, everyone who played this game seemed to have fun, and there was a great deal of hilarity.

(1) L-R: Alex S, Dave H, Dave A, Dan C, JT.
(2) Dave H's hat proves singularly appropriate for JT the Chicken King.

JT was far ahead for most of the game with his fried chicken franchise, but was eliminated practically in one swoop, due partially to some bad luck.

The game was called on account of confusion; people had been moving one another's pawns around by mistake, and so on. Since Dave A refused to acknowledge a winner in the Twilight Imperium game when that game was called, I thought in principle he would have to admit there was no winner for this game either. However, John Braley, an impartial observer, assured me that Dave was so very far ahead in this game when it was called that in practice it could be said he won. Of course, with all the confusion, who knows?


Dave A de facto winner
Alex S de facto 2nd place
Dan C eliminated 3rd
Dave H eliminated 2nd
JT eliminated 1st

JT left around 10:35 after Fast Food Franchise, taking a catalog from West Coast Awards, the manufacturers of PiecepackGear.

Dave Adams has promised a detailed account of the game from his viewpoint. I know I would love to hear, among other wonders, how JT the Mighty Chicken King was laid low...



Don't know much about Vortex (a.k.a. Maelstrom), except that it is a collectible TileLayingGame?. Steve V and Chad McD? were the competitors.

(1) L: Steve V; R: Chad McD?.
(2) Steve V. cleans up after the game.


Chad McD? 3
Steve V 0

Do we owe Chad a prize?

Comments from the players?


I liked very much this game. It's a kind of Magic Lite, with a great positionning strategy. I miserably lost tho, and I think it's because I was totally distracted by the upcoming Mare Nostrum game ready to start. Then Chad just hit me hard using my weakness.

Would love to play again, especially when I'll be less distracted :)


Mare Nostrum

Around 9 PM, at Table 1, five players started Mare_Nostrum?, the new game being billed as a faster, more playable Civilization. According to Marty, it received an "enthusiastic thumbs-up" from everyone except Tim Schutz.

(1) L-R: Mark P, Tim H.
(2) Mare Nostrum: "Our Sea".

Mare Nostrum is said to be a three-hour game, and this one was, almost to the minute.

As Mare Nostrum started, Mer, who had been there, like me, around 11 hours, complained that her mind was burnt after Twilight Imperium. I said mine was too. Marty suggested we play Pretty Pretty Princess ("but Mer would kick your ass!"). (Is that even possible in that game?)

Mer and Kisa decided to leave and I asked them if they could give me a ride home.

Kisa: Are you done too?

Ron: I'm well past done. I'm overdone.

Mer: You're starting to char!

I had been short on sleep lately, but didn't want to spoil Marty's fun and ask her not to play Mare Nostrum. Unfortunately, there was no room in Mer and Kisa's car, so I had to wander from room to room in search of rest like the Lost Dutchman.

Ranks for Mare Nostrum were as follows. There were no formal scores.


Mark P 1st
Tim H 2nd
Marty H-E 3rd
Steve V 4th (tie)
Tim S 4th (tie)


I was thinking about the Greeks. I still don't get how they can perform. Their naval strength is more of something to lessen the disadvantage of being in the center, than an actual advantage. The other possibility is the big amount of city around. But all the city chits get sold very quickly at the beginning of the game. I'll ask Laget about what is the best strategy to adopt as Greeks.


OK, I actually had to get up earlier than I planned this morning, because I was still thinking about Mare Nostrum and couldn't stop pondering the strategy, so I couldn't go back to sleep. I can't tell if that's because the game is so good or because I'm just a sad individual. :) Anyway....

(This is not going to make much sense to those of you who haven't read the rules, and they're kind of too complex to recap, so I apologize.)

One thing I think we were missing last night is just how crucial careful trading is, and I think that's largely how Mark won. The innovative trading mechanism is quite subtle. Mark's strength as Carthage rested on his access to rare trade goods. As Director of Commerce, I kept trying to pull them out of him by opening big markets with lots of cards, but after TimS? and TimH? started seeing me as a military threat, they stopped trading with me. (The rules preclude two people from cornering the market, but not three.) Since SteveV? didn't have much to trade later in the game, the Tims were pulling Mark's rare goods (yes, I realize that sounds unsavory), which gave him the ability to have early picks on whatever else was out on the table, allowing him to finish his large sets to buy heroes. However, that wasn't even a good strategy to stop me, since I didn't really *need* diversity of goods - being able to buy armies with pairs means that I could still stomp around if half my hand ended up to be the same thing.

Obviously, resource management is also crucial because of the rarities of all the bits - caravans and cities, as we found out, but also armies (as I was beginning to find out). Every culture has a strength, but can't just stand on that to win because there's not enough of anything to totally dominate with that one aspect. However, it seems to me that trade drives all of it; I was militarily strong, but I was stupid to try to develop my own local diversity of goods to back it up, even though trade diversity is also a strength of Rome. I should have quickly been out killing people and occupying caravans.

SteveV?, it seems to me that Greece needs to do what TimH? was doing with Egypt: dominate cities and use taxes. Taxes are cool because they essentially take you out of the trade-good complexity, but (again) it's hard to use them alone. What you need, as TimH? was doing, is to get a momentum so that you have enough coming in to allow you to trade for the rest, since everyone else, city-poor, was dumping taxes on the market. You also had access to at least two rare trade items, gold and gems, if you had gotten there more quickly. TimS?, you could have held Egypt back by dropping influence quickly into northern Africa to the west, and then pinching it militarily. Possibly you could then have taken that source of jewels right there, and still had the slaves and gold to the north of your territory. It's hard to see yet, however, how any one civ can easily win even with any of these strategies, and there are lots more possible strategies; it seems that both offensive and defensive play can only deepen as players learn the aspects of each culture and the delicacy of the balance.

This is definitely one of my new favorites, and I want to play it a lot more. :) The "puzzle" of how to win is really challenging, and yet accessible, and it changes from play to play. There is a whole lot to think about in a relatively manageable package, and it seems that it will get better as more people gain experience in playing. Awesome game.


Actually, I didn't stop trading with you because of your military might. I was aware of it but knew you still had to trounce over Steve before you got to me, which gave me some time to prepare for the onslaught. I kept taking Mark's rare cards in the hope to build a more diversified set of goods and be able to buy the much needed hero or wonder of the world cards. I knew if I took cards that were rare to me I would have a better chance of building larger sets.


This game certainly seems extremely cool, and I would love to play it...

I wasn't really up for it after the long TI game, I was playing stuff like BANG! and Netrunner... much shorter. ;)

The fact that Marty couldn't stop thinking about the game and strategy for it shows that it is a great, and deep game. I have the same problem after playing good games which have a lot of depth for the first time (like Tigris & Euphrates, Puerto Rico, Princes of Florence, etc...)


Yeah, I had that feeling I often get after encountering a new deep game: like I was walking along and suddenly found myself at the top of a deep and very interesting cravasse I didn't know about. I have this feeling of peering down into it, like "whoa, didn't expect to see this, but it looks fun down there!" :)


The only main complaint I have seen (on Spielfrieks) was that some people thought it was a game where there was one primary optimal path for each empire... one thing they had to do, and if they deviated from it, they would fall far behind anyone else who stuck to the path... and thus the key was to merely learn the path for your empire and follow it to the letter.

I can't say whether this is true or not, but regardless, I really want to play that game.


Never heard of that complaint before. But with the people I'm talking to, that played this game for a while now, here's a look at the two (minor and major) complaints :

Minor: A few people hate how combats are resolved; they think it's way too random. And they are trying to create a new variant for combat based on the M\xE9dit\xE9rran\xE9e? game (don't know the English name tho). It consists of adding to all attacking troops + 1d6, then dividing by three. So there's still randomness, but it's tempered.

Major: Most of the people think that Greece is the weakest country, considering their bad geographic placement. Many are talking about how critical is for the Greeks to get an alliance with Rome early at the beginning of the game. The problem: Rome doesn't have very much to win by NOT attacking the Greeks.

The only possibility I see for an alliance is to create a huge fleet of boats, control the sea, and then let Romans, and only Romans, navigate as they want, so they can easily attack everybody in the game, while their naval fleet is protected by the Greeks. But still... is that really enough to lure the mighty Roman War Machine?

I've heard too, that there's an optional rule for initial placement: 36 points to invest as we please, instead of the basic placement. In this case, pretty much everybody agrees that Greece is this time too advantaged, as Greece can then take control of the massive amount of city surrounding him, right from the start, then generate a truckload of tax income.


Having only played once, I can see that each empire has a specific strength that it makes sense to exploit, but I don't see that there's only one way to do that. I think that's probably a simplistic (and maybe uncreative) view of the game, but maybe I'll be proven wrong after more plays.

I'll have to think on this. The combat resolution seemed less random to me than, say, Risk-style resolution with individual dice corresponding to troops. [Steve: Totally agree.] Also, it occurred to me that this makes the fortress act more the way it would in real life: not only is it an advantage, but averaging in the sure six can make up for a weaker roll, the way fighting from a fortress can help a weaker fighter.


Agree, but what I said was just an example. Actually, we can take the M\xE9dit\xE9rran\xE9e system, and just add a fortress rule to that: with the current system, fortresses automatically kill one opponent (5) and add +1 more to the total. If in the other system we have to divide by three, then a fortress adds a +3 to the total, or maybe a +4.

So 2 troops + a fortress will have this equation :

(6 + 1d6) / 3

So 2 to 4 enemies are killed. I don't know if it make any sense, but I like this idea.

But still, Serge Laget took 15 years to complete and test this game; maybe it's a little too presumptuous for me to throw away a full combat system to replace it on a few minutes' thoughts. :)


About Greece being the weakest country: Heh, but see, that's the way it was. :) That's why the Romans rolled over Greece and took all their cultural advances, technology, etc., which allowed them to become the Empire. Of course, some of the Greeks did it to each other before that, and the Greeks stole a lot of what they knew from the Egyptians (by trade, not force), but none of that is really in MN. (Yes, I like historical games because I'm a history buff, especially BC history; as is true in a lot of life, knowing history can be an advantage to strategic planning. Or, as someone else said, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.")

Steve writes,
The only possibility I see for an alliance is to create a huge fleet of boats, control the sea, and then let Romans, and only Romans, navigate as they want, so they can easily attack everybody in the game, while their naval fleet is protected by the Greeks. But still... is that really enough to lure the mighty Roman War Machine ?

That's a good idea. It could be worthwhile to Rome because it would allow them to get across to the trade goods they need in Africa and can't access on their side (slaves, papyrus, gold, etc.).

[Steve: Yes, I think that may be the way to go: in exchange for a non-aggression promise from the Romans, the Greeks can provide total and unconditional naval protection. Then Mark/Hannibal would've been in big trouble pretty early in the game, instead of winning peacefully :)]

Steve writes,
I've heard too, that there's an optional rule for initial placement: 36 points to invest as we please, instead of the basic placement. In this case, pretty much everybody agrees that Greece is this time too advantaged, as Greek can then take control of the massive amount of city surrounding him, right from the start, then generate a truckload of tax income.

Perhaps there's a tweak that could be made to limit this variant and make up for that.


About Mare Nostrum, and the alternate combat system people were trying: Personally, I thought the Mare Nostrum combat system was great. It adds some randomness, but thats basically the only random part of the game, so I think having some randomness is good. (Like how combat adds a lot of the randomness to TI.) The TI combat system HEAVILY favors the player with more force, which I noticed after our first big combat. I think the Mare Nostrum system merely favors the person with more force to a reasonable degree, and ensures the attacker will sustain losses too, even when wiping out the smaller force.

The complaint that Greece is weak due to their position is troubling, but perhaps it is due to lack of knowing how to play it properly. The designer tested it for 15 years, after all.



For some reason, Traumfabrik has been having a renaissance lately, both online and in our own group. From 9:30-10:30 four players had a game on the card table:

(1) Clockwise from L: Chad, Jay, Eric.
(2) Look at all of those fantastic films!


Alex R 87
Jay L 85
Eric Y 80
Chad McD? 57

Alex was awarded (what else?) Chessboards: The Planes of Possibility, by Dave_Howell?. There may come a time when the group collectively tires of this book as a prize, but that time is not yet.


I really like this game, and had been wanting to play it again. I generally enjoy auction games, and like most Knizia auction games, this is a good one. Heck, Reiner is even in the game, as a guest star! ;) My strategy was to go for the actors, so I could be first at parties. I managed to be 2nd at the first party and 1st at all the rest. I also tried to get the best Blue and Orange films. I dont remember which category is which color, one is Drama, one Action, etc. But the Blue and Orange films have only 3 and 2 stars on the films everyone gets to start, while the green has 4. So many people subconsciously stick their best stuff on the green film, and the awards for best film in the Blue and Orange categories are often much easier. I won both of those awards, and with them, and going early at all the parties, I won the game. The actor strategy works!

My brother plays Dungeons and Dragons frequently, and I plan to give the book on creating planes to him. I'm sure he'll make great use of it!


Eightball (x3)

Around 10:40, John Braley and I went up to our host Tim Higgins's pool room for a quiet chat while John practiced shooting some pool, which he said he hadn't played in 20 years. Dave Adams showed up, saw John practicing pool, and wanted to play an actual game with John, so I went elsewhere for my peace and quiet. With Alex Swavely helping by showing where to aim on the target ball, John beat Dave at a game of Eightball.

Then Alex and John played two games. Alex won the 1st, but on the 2nd the cueball was reluctant to part from its friend, the eightball, and followed it into the pocket on Alex's shot, scratching. So John won that one.

I later gave John a duck and a goose, two small farm animals that do rather well in the Pool.

--Ron_Hale-Evans? with much remote assistance from John_Braley?

Around 11:30 people started going home en masse, and when the Mare Nostrum game finished at 12:00, everyone who had not already left wrapped things up.

Thanks for hosting, Tim! Next week we'll be meeting at 5:00 PM at the apartment of Marty_Hale-Evans? and Ron_Hale-Evans? in Kent. It will be a CosmicNight. See you then!

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.

As of March 2003, people have spent over a thousand dollars through our affiliate program, and we have earned almost $60 from it, which we are planning to use for charitable purposes. (See the AgogProject for more details.) Keep bookmarking and clicking the affiliate link, folks -- it works!


Saturday, 15 March 2003, 5:00 PM at the house of Ron_and_Marty? in Kent. It will be a CosmicNight. 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.)

NewslettersFor?2003 | CategoryGameNight? | FrontPage