Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Saturday, 12 April 2003

Prizeless Jewels of Gaming

It keeps happening! Seattle Cosmic met again at 5:00 on 12 April 2003 in Bothell. Present before I arrived were Timothy_Higgins?, the evening's host; three newcomers: Chris_Bender? and the Bros. Sloniker, Clyde_Sloniker? and Fred_Sloniker?. Also present were Dan_Crouch? and Alex_Swavely?; Steve_Dupree? and Nat_Dupree?; Jay_Lorch? and Michelle_Teague?; ChadUrsoMcDaniel; David_Adams? and assorted kids; Dave_Howell? and Eric_Yarnell,_ND?; and Steve_Vall\xE9e?, who as I write this is attending his first Gathering of Friends. (No, it is not a religious organisation. Warning: Steve's site is in French but there should be some nice photos shortly.) Ron_Hale-Evans? (that is I) and Alex_Rockwell? hitched a ride with Tim "AlphaTim" Schutz and arrived around 6:45. Not long after, Mark_Purtill? showed up, and around 8:30 or 9:00, Mark_Haggerty? showed up with his friend Annette from Switzerland, who was so perplexed back in November that we Americans were playing German games...

I count 21 gamers, not including kids. A near-record turnout. I think we would have broken the record if Marty_Hale-Evans? and Meredith_Hale? weren't attending Saqra's Showcase in Portland.

No prizes were given this evening, as the Prize Bag was coughing up blood, and so were the wallets of me and m'dear wife Marty. However, a few people in the group have offered to help refill the Prize Bag, so in a week or two it may be fat and happy once again.


For some reason, reading 'the Bros. Sloniker' makes me think I should wear green and Clyde should wear red...

--Fred_Sloniker?, of the Super Sloniker Bros.?

Adel Verpflichtet

1. L-R: Clyde Sloniker, Chris Bender, Dan Crouch.
2. Adel V board.

I won't describe this game in general, as we have a perfectly good Adel_Verpflichtet? page for that purpose. I can't describe this game in particular, as it occurred before I arrived. Alex Swavely was kind enough to keep score, however:


Clyde Sloniker 1st
Chris Bender 2nd
Alex Swavely 3rd
Dan Crouch 4th

Comments from the players?


Gregory Horror Show

Gregory Horror Show board

The Gregory_Horror_Show? started next. All I know about this game is that you must escape the evil machinations of a mouse, who, NormanBateslike, is the innkeeper for a hotel of horrors. Here are the scores, again courtesy Alex S:


Nat Dupree winner
Fred Sloniker survived
Steve Vall\xE9e survived
Steve Dupree brutally slain by mouse


I started off with the game I brought, Gregory Horror Show. I actually bought it on the way to gaming night, having been introduced to it by one of the owners of the only gaming shop in Skagit County (that I know of), Docking Bay 93. They were lucky enough to get a box of starters (I gather they're not on Upper Deck's normal shipping list), and I picked one up from them for cheap.

Gregory Horror Show is an odd duck, billed as a 'collectible game experience'. What that means is that, when you buy your starter, you get a fully playable board game for two to four players (I'm thinking more is better). You're trapped in Gregory House, and your objective is to evade Gregory, the psychotic mouse who runs the hotel, and claim three of the hotel's rooms for yourself (by getting a key from certain spaces, going to a room, and defeating the monster that dwells within), then get out. (Alternately, you can simply be the last one standing.)

Where the collectible part comes in is in the 'feral monsters' rules. Basically, when someone loses a fight to take control of a room, or if a player spends some life points on a special square, they can introduce a figure representing a monster to the board. These figures, along with Gregory, can be moved to harrass the other players and make your life easier. However, the figures don't come with the base game; they come in booster boxes, along with additional cards that help you bring them into play. If I can find a local source for these, I plan to try to collect a complete set, then dole them out randomly to the players before each game; I imagine they'll add to the entertainment.

As for the outcome of the game: one player [Steve Dupree. --Ed.] jumped into a seemingly advantageous position early, only to be eliminated entirely by Gregory. (We were all feeling our way around the board, learning the dynamics, and so it likely didn't occur to him that, though the section of the board he was in gave ready access to several hotel rooms, it was lacking in strength restoratives necessary to recover from monster battling. If we'd noticed that, we probably would have let him kill himself off, though, so.) The rest of us struggled and strived over the different rooms, only to be taken by surprise as the one player who'd been protesting all game that she wanted to be a nice person and not hurt anyone (Nat Dupree) waltzed out the front door of the house with her three rooms claimed, which neither I nor the other player noticed. All in all, I was entertained, and hopefully the other players will chime in with their experiences.


I saw the writing on the mouse soon after I headed in the opposite direction from everybody else, which also happened to be the side of the board Gregory was on. But this game was so light, it seemed to me, that I wasn't really worried about it. This game reminded me a lot of Zombies!!!?, but unlike those munchers of brains, I didn't get any kicks out of the thematic elements taken from an obscure Japanese cartoon show. I was glad to be dead rather than spend a couple hours in Chez Greg. Not that my bout with Taj Mahal was much more fun....



1. Chad imparts his evil plan to his board of directors.
2. Michelle makes a deal!

Traumfabrik is a staple of our group now. All I'll say about it here is that it's an auction game set in the Hollywood of the 1930s-1950s, in which players compete to make the best films.

Here are the scores. Alex Swavely listed the players for this game and the next two, and I got the scores after I arrived. Thanks for your help, Alex! We're cooperating, just like on Sesame Street!


Jay Lorch 86
Michelle Teague 81
Chad McDaniel 56
Tim Higgins 44
Dave Adams 40


There are at least 3 primary Traumfabrik strategies floating around:

1) Get the most actors and guest stars, so you always get first pick at the parties.

2) Churn out as many movies as you can, as fast as you can.

3) Make the best quality movies you can.

Jay told me he used a combination of strategy 1 (which he brought into the group) with 3 (which I more or less brought in to the group).

I look forward to further evolving of strategies as we play this game more.


My strategy is to 1) Get actors early to do well at parties, combined with 2) Do what other people are not doing. That is, if no one else is going for an early movie in round 1, then go for it for the +5 for best move in the first round, and +5 for first movie of that color. Try to finish first a color of movie that no one else is working hard on. Try to go for best movie in a color no one else is making a great movie in, etc. Its a typical strategy for auction games, as the goal is to be able to get things cheap that others arent valuing as highly.


You know me, this always fascinates me: it's amazing how closely the winning strategies of this game (as they're evolving) match the history of the theme in the real world, especially in the earlier days of moviemaking, before things that aren't in the game (like media and PR) had a lot of influence. You can almost map this to specific studios, such as MGM's having been widely known for an extensive "stable" of stars in the '30s through '50s, which boosted its prestige and made other stars want to make deals with them. It's even somewhat true today: studios like Miramax have built an empire out of the perception that they handle "quality" arty movies, while Tristar (say) made their fortune from making a bunch of cheap teen-aimed flicks.

So now, how can I use my knowledge of history to map out a different winning strategy...?


Taj Mahal

Clockwise from left: Chris Bender, Dan Crouch, Clyde Sloniker, Steve Dupree.

Ah, Taj_Mahal?, another Knizia auction game of sorts, with a bit of a Poker? vying mechanic, and a somewhat irrelevant Indian theme. I have only partial scores for this one.


Chris Bender winner
Dan Crouch 2nd place
Clyde Sloniker 39 points
Steve Dupree 37 points


I got spanked. Sad considering how many times I have played this, compared to the others (0-1 times each vs. my half a dozen).


Illuminati: New World Order

1. Dave H, Alex, and Eric vie for world domination. Alex also vies for domination of his hair.
2. The Discordians take over the world, with the help of crystal pyramid technology.

Illuminati:_New_World_Order? started around 6:30 and ran for about 3 1/2 hours. I believe this was the first game of it ever played at Seattle Cosmic. I'm sorry I missed out on it, as I had been talking about playing it at game night long ago. It's really one of the only CollectibleCardGame``s that has ever held my attention, partly because it is in many ways an extension of the regular Illuminati? game, which I played frequently in college; partly because I like the theme, which is basically a ripoff of the Illuminatus! SF trilogy; and partly because a non-collectible edition of the game (the "One With Everything" set) is available.

After the first three turns were taken in the game, Dave Adams wandered over after Traumfabrik and said "I wanna play!", so the other three dealt him in.


Dave Adams Bavarians
Dave Howell Discordians
Alex Swavely UFOs
Eric Yarnell Cthulhu

The Discordians won. Hooray and Hail Eris!


I won because I cheated, although we didn't figure this out until after I'd won, and we decided that it was a perfectly fine time for the game to end anyway.

We were playing with the "INWO: One With Everything" megaboxed set of the CCG version of Illuminati. I believe only Eric hadn't played before, but I hadn't played INWO in years, and one of the other two had only played Classic Illuminati, and none of us recently. So there was a lot of confusion at first on getting all the little niggly rules correct. That also tended to drag things out slower than we would have liked, and contributed a bit to fatigue.

Anyway, my first big attempt at winning was when I snagged Canada and two dependent groups from Alex. As the Discordians, Weird groups count double for me in trying to get to the 10 needed to win, and I had the Semiconcious Liberation Army, which is a Weird Violent Liberal Criminal group. What the others didn't know is that I also had a Secret Goal which said that any Violent Criminal groups counted double. So I snagged the groups from Alex which brought my total visible groups to seven, then revealed my secret goal. Aha! The SLA, already worth two, is now worth 4! I have eleven! I win!

Then Eric dropped a rock on Canada. So we played on. Eventually I acquired enough groups to get to 10 again, and locked the win. Unfortunately, I'd spent most of my time leafing through the rule book, not the supplemental page for the "One With Everything" deck. As we were starting to put the game away, I discovered that there's a rule that says doubling isn't cumulative. The SLA couldn't count for four groups. Ooops.

Well, now we know for next time.

-- Dave_Howell?


The gang gets together for another enjoyable BANG!.

Only one game was played, from about 6:50 to 7:25, and AlphaTim won with dynamite as the Sheriff.



Nat Dupree Outlaw
Alex Rockwell Renegade
AlphaTim Schutz Sheriff
Fred Sloniker Outlaw
Steve Vall\xE9e Deputy


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

Next, I played Bang!, which I was horrible at. Sitting on the other side of the deputy from the sheriff probably didn't help, but I was apparently the only one at the table who hadn't figured out who everyone else was by the end of the first round, so I wound up passing up opportunities to hurt the sheriff and stealing from the other outlaw in an effort to make the most of my character's card-cycling ability. Injuns did the deputy and me in, at which point I got up to check what other games were going on, but I doubt the outlaws won without me, as the sheriff still had the renegade on his side...


Next, I played Bang!, which I was horrible at.

Wrong ! Bang is a rude and merciless game. I happened to :

1) Be the Vice, so shooting anybody else on the table (but the Sheriff) was a good thing for me

2) Got a "Volcanic Gun" that let me play more than 1 bang at a time, to one player next to me (considering the Sheriff was one of them, you were the only target left)

3) I got like 4 or 5 bang card in the beginning.

That's everything actually. You played well, considering the situation. There's a lot of luck involved in this game, yet one of the most exciting game. I hope you'll give it an other try, considering you were extremelly unlucky the first one :)


Yeah, people get attacked and eliminated early in happens. Your position with the Deputy right next to you, and him unloading on you made it so you were eliminated fast.

The only mistake you made was due to it being your first didnt realize as soon as the rest of us that Nat was the other you used the panic card on her. Instead, you should have used the panic card on the Jail in front of her (freeing her) and then played the Jail on Steve, who it was clear was your enemy.

The first time you play, its hard to know what to do...

Well, I had a very good chance of winning as the renegade at the end, only to be killed by an evil, evil stick of dynamite. Sigh.... Without the dynamite in play I basically had the game, as I was stronger than Tim and had more resources. But thats Bang! ;)

And so the elusive Renegade win in a non-4 player game remains unclaimed by anyone in our group.


Since Alex\x92s character had the ability of being always at least 2 away from me and every time I got a gun that could reach him he would somehow take it away from me I decided to use the luck factor with the dynamite. With only 2 players there was a 50/50 chance of winning with the dynamite, which I thought was much better without. Hey I won it worked.

--Tim AlphaTim Schutz

New England

A session of the recent hit game New_England? started around 7:25. I estimated it was a three-hour game, but Alex Rockwell says it only lasted an hour, so what were the players playing for the other two hours? I'm guessing Pool.

I gather this is one of those empire-building games like Puerto_Rico? or Settlers_of_Catan?, not my forte, so I wasn't too sad to miss out on it. I know Marty was, though, when I told her the group had played had played it without her. I'd quote her here, but this is a family newsletter.

I don't have scores, but I do have a list of the players.


Tim Higgins 32
Jay Lorch 34
Alex Rockwell 24
Michelle Teague 26


I think that New England is a great game, and I like its length. It lasted an hour, plus explanation time (which was very short). After the game I waited around for awhile while the illuminati game wrapped up, while the others played pool.

I had two problems in this game, bot hdue to inexperience. First of all, I didnt realize quite how fast the game would end. It seemed to go so fast, that I was surprised at how fast the end approached! (Which is good, once I get a hang on the length). Tim and Jay scored a bunch of points moderately quickly, while Michelle and I build up a lot of vacant plantations. I in particular had a vast green plantation, and was looking for green point scoring cards, which had been plentiful early on. Unfortunately, EVERY SINGLE green scoring card was in the top half of the deck, and by the time I started looking for them, there were none to be found. This made me wish I had taken a barn early and stored one of the many that we tossed away because no one wanted them.

Secondly, I didnt win any of the majorities in Colonists, Barns and Ships. And I got 2nd place in each of them, which yields nothing, but was a waste of resources. I plan to focus my efforts on one of the three in the future, instead of spreading out and ending up getting nothing.

I have the scores at home, and will post them this evening.


San Andreas (piecepack)

California after a few good quakes. Apparently, this aerial photo was found in the wreckage.

In Seattle Cosmic's unending quest to playtest all known piecepack games, this week we took on San_Andreas? by James Kyle, the inventor of the piecepack. This game received a sort of honourable mention from judge Mike Schoessow in the Changing Landscapes game design contest:

...the game that most elegantly fit the Changing Landscapes theme was clearly SAN ANDREAS by James Kyle... San Andreas is a fairly quick game that probably falls into the category of "filler", perfect at the beginning or end of a game evening. It's a great little game (and extra-interesting for those of us living on the California coast) using tiles arrayed to form a map of California, with pieces tilting or shifting in response to earthquakes during the game. Players are scored on towns they place, with the ones near the coast being more lucrative, IF they make it to the end of the game without being buried (literally) or falling into the ocean. Good fun.

The San Andreas rules are very simple. Tiles are placed on the table in the shape of the state of California. Players then take turns placing either a coin of their colour face down anywhere on the board (this represents a city), or one of the four pawns onto a coastal tile (this represents an earthquake epicenter). Once all four epicenters have been placed, an earthquake occurs. The four piecepack dice are rolled, and the tiles with the corresponding pawns shift in a way indicated in a special table. (On a null roll, the tile does not move. Whew.)

Any tile that changes its angle (flat to leaning, leaning to flat, more leaning to less, or less to more), has all of its cities destroyed. Also, if a tile overlaps the cities on another tile, those cities are destroyed as well. As each tile shifts, its epicenter is removed for the next round. The game ends after one player has placed all of their coins. Then, when all four epicenters are replaced, one last quake occurs and players' final scores are totaled (along with Los Angeles).

You might ask why anyone would place a coin on a coastal tile, since those are the tiles most likely to shift, but one's score for a city is the value of the coin minus its distance from the coast (minimum result 0). That means, for most purposes, you're just throwing away a coin with a value of 1 or 2 if you don't place it on the coast; since each tile is a 2x2 square, all inland spaces are at least two spaces away from the coast as things are reckoned. It's just so much prettier in those seaside communities... That's most of it. Pretty twisted, but what do you expect from the mind that brought us HellRail?? :)

For much of our game, players were fairly frustrated. The table we were playing on was made of some kind of fossil rock, and was very slippery, adding an unintentional dexterity element to the game. As for the intentional dexterity element ("If a tile leans too steeply to hold a coin, no city may be founded on it"), we mostly deplored it. AlphaTim suggested the game would be better played with a thin paper piecepack. A nice vinyl card table would have been at least as useful. Take heed, o ye future players of the game.

Ironically, Chris Bender, who had never seen a piecepack before, walked away with this one. I would have come a lot closer, only suddenly a tile shifted north, and what was previously prime oceanfront property became prime lakefront property, costing me four points. For once, Mark was at a loss in analysing a new game before play started, although afterwards he had some insightful comments. He said Chris's strategy in getting all his coins out as soon as possible was a good one (Chris was the only player to place all of his coins, I believe). If your opponents are busy placing epicenters to foil your plans, they are not themselves scoring.

The game was fairly quick (35 minutes), but I disagree with Mike Schoessow that it's just a filler. I think there are some interesting strategies to be worked out here, even though the randomness of the earthquakes adds some chaos to the game. As I mentioned, if it were not for the unexpected landlock of the water in front of my 5-point city, I coulda been a contender, and I credit that to hanging out in the first round, not placing any cities until I had, er, the lay of the land.


Chris Bender 17
Ron Hale-Evans 12
AlphaTim Schutz 11
Mark Purtill 9

Comments from the players?



1. Steve, Steve, and Nat watch intently to see if Tikal will play itself.
2. Why is Nat sad?

Four players started a game of Tikal? that ran from about 8:00 to about 10:10. Tikal is a tile-laying game with an archeological theme by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer. We first played it back in August 2000.

Tikal board

Steve Vall\xE9e was the big winner tonight...


Steve Vall\xE9e 97
Steve Dupree 89
Nat Dupree 81
Chad McDaniel 79

Comments from the players?



Fred, Mark, and Annette are baffled by Those Darn Kids.

Dave's kids managed to drag Fred Sloniker, Mark Haggerty, and Annette into a game of Dungeon?. (They had previously begged me and Mark Purtill to play Settlers_of_Catan? with them. I flatly refused. Mark was more gracious, but managed to get out of it somehow.)

Partway through the Dungeon game, the kids got up and started running around. They wouldn't come back to finish the game, but they bugged the adults not to put it away and move on either.

Above is a bewildered Fred telling me this sad sad story. Moral: don't play games with the kids, or they'll have you playing Pretty Pretty Princess next.

You think I'm joking, don't you? Check the 2002 index page, round about November.


While I was reading through the rules for the LotR? expansions, which I hadn't seen before, somebody's little kid came up and asked me to play Dungeon with her. I said yes. Everybody makes mistakes. (In case anybody's wondering why I yelled "Why must you keep torturing me?": not wanting to play the game any longer, but unwilling to simply walk away from the two little girls who were playing, the three adults at the table agreed to tell the girls that whichever one of them went out the front door first would win the game. One of the girls ran to the door-- and blocked it so the other couldn't get outside and end the game.)



Players attacking each other's balls, as described by Fred.

After that, I needed something to soothe my fevered mind, so I followed my brother, Clyde, upstairs to the pool tables. I watched them play a round of five-person cutthroat, which my brother won despite his protests of pool feebleness. Then I joined in the second round as one player dropped out and won it myself, despite even more convincing protestations of feebleness. (It probably helped that I was extremely feeble during the first half of the game, so the other players concentrated on attacking each other's balls; I managed to figure out what I was doing with the stick, though, and parlayed my 'health' advantage and a mistake by my opponent into victory.) Following my own adage of quitting while I was ahead, I headed downstairs at this point, hanging out while Clyde played doubles 8-ball with the remaining players.

We left shortly after that; it's a long drive from Cowtown^WSedro-Woolley to Mill Creek, and Clyde wanted to get back while he was still conscious. I was reluctant to go, but it's probably best I left a little bit hungry, so to speak.


AlphaGhost? (Alpha Playing Cards playtest)

From about 8:15 to 9:10, I got three other players to help me playtest AlphaGhost?, the first game I've ever designed (with Marty_Hale-Evans?, my constant collaborator) for the Alpha_Playing_Cards? GameSystem. I won't say much about it here, except that it is a card game version of the word game SuperGhost?, which is played without cards. (This page, which I just discovered, lists an extension of Ghost and SuperGhost? called SuperDuperGhost?. New to me. I do know about AnaGhost?, though, an anagramming version in David Parlett's book of word game rules, Botticelli and Beyond.)

You may be able to find a playtest version of AlphaGhost? in the Files section of the Alpha mailing list site, but if not, just click on the AlphaGhost? link (which will eventually exist), and you should find the rules there.

I'm sad Marty wasn't present for the first ever multi-player playtest of the game; we had only played two-player games when we tested it. Mark Purtill, AlphaTim, and Clyde Sloniker all had good suggestions and will be duly credited in the rules.

Mark skunked us all very badly, but I'm wondering if this was not a combination of good luck and bad game design as well as skillful play, especially since Mark mentioned he rarely does well at word games. There were four players in the game. The object of the game is to avoid completing a word. However, only five-letter words or longer count, and it often happened that the person who took the fifth turn would have to complete a word, thereby losing the round. Marty and I were worried about a snowball effect in a two-player game if the loser of the current round started the next round, because the first player is also the fifth player (follow?). It didn't occur to us that the first player would also be the fifth player in a four-player game, so we left in the rule that the loser starts the next round in a multi-player game. It so happened that Mark was never once the first player during this game, so he was never the fifth player -- thus his chances of having to complete a word were much reduced.

'Twill be fixed in the next version. AlphaTim suggested that the loser get to specify the player who starts the next round, which adds a sort of "targeting" strategy and works with any number of players. Thanks, Tim! And thanks again to the other players for their suggestions.

Verdict: Mark said the game has promise, and was already fun to play in its current version (0.2). There was some laughter, and no one was begging to be put out of their misery, so I guess the other players agree.


Mark Purtill 9
AlphaTim Schutz 44
Ron Hale-Evans 46
Clyde Sloniker 58

Comments from the players?


BookWorms? (Alpha Playing Cards playtest)

Bookworm standing in for the long-absent Space Slug.

Next up, I returned the favour and helped AlphaTim playtest his new Alpha_Playing_Cards? game, BookWorms?. In this game, players create a matrix of Alpha cards on the table, reminiscent perhaps of a bookshelf, through which two bookworms for each player must tunnel. As the worms tunnel, cards are removed ahead of them and replaced behind them. Tunnels are created by finding words in the card matrix, similarly to the game Boggle, but with slightly different restrictions. Players have several options on their turns, including playing cards onto the board, making tunnels, and swapping cards from their hand with cards from the board. If you place a letter underneath a worm, a word tunnel using that letter must be created before that worm can move. (Tim put a 'Q' under mine, which wasn't very nice, but at least he wasn't condescending to me.)

As you might expect, the game's designer kicked my pasty bottom. He got his two worms to my side of the board before I had gotten either of my worms out on his side. It didn't help that for half the game I didn't realise that you could join letters into words diagonally as well as orthogonally, even though worms only moved orthogonally. I almost got one of my worms out, honest...


AlphaTim Schutz 2
Ron Hale-Evans 0

You will probably be able to find BookWorms? either in the Files section of the Alpha mailing list site, or at the site for Tim's company,

Comments from the players?


Scarab Lords

Capably assisted by Chris Bender, Dan Crouch and Annette were playing a game of Reiner Knizia's Scarab_Lords? on the floor next to me and Tim while we played BookWorms?. Dan Crouch bet Annette that she would win, but Dan won the game and therefore lost the bet. Better luck in your quixotic quest to lose next time, Dan...

Comments from the players?



Dave Howell and Alex Rockwell started a series of Netrunner games around 9:50. After the slaughter last week, Dave had challenged Alex to bring a Runner deck that could win without any cards that would gain him "bits" (money). Interesting... I like constraints in art and games; I think they take you places you would not normally go.

Alex promised the scores and some good stories, so...


Good stories huh....ok, I'll try.

Rising to Dave's challenge, I built two decks, one a corp, one runner, both of which had no cards which produced or gained bits. My runner deck was named Sir Gawain, after the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The story goes like this: Sir Gawain comes to the knights of the round table and asks if any one of them is brave enough to accept his challenge. It is: he will give that knight one chance to kill him with a blow to the neck. If the blow does not kill him, then that Knight must come to his castle in one year, and the Green Knight will give the knight one blow to the neck. Sir gawain rises to this challenge, and gives the Green Knight a blow which severs his head. Yet the knight merely walks over, picks up his head, and places it back on his neck. A year later, Sir Gawain bravely rides out to his doom, so as not to disgrace the honor of the knights of the round table. The Green Knight merely gives him a tap on the neck, his honor proven.

In netrunner there is a card "Green Knight" surge buffers, which prevents one damage each turn. Another card which goes well wit hit is an icebreaker called Blink. Blink can get through any ice, if you are lucky, but it has only a 50% chance of getting through. On the other 50%, it deals damage to you, and then the ice will take effect as well. But with several Blink's your chances of getting through are high. And with a bunch of Green Knight surge buffers, they wont deal huge amounts of damage to you. I figured this was the only way I would be able to get through large ice without much money. I also included breakers that would get through weak ice for free, such as Worm and Tinweasel.

Thus Sir Gawain bravely rote off to do battle with the McWane? corporation, named for its numerous traps. Some of these I would be immune to due to the surge buffers. Others would prove to be quite deadly.

In the first game, Gawain was triumphant, and with much luck, and much skill handling the Blink icebreaker, he broke through to score 3 agendas (Corp War), in only 4 runs on R&D. Gawain 9 - McWane? 0

This was extremely lucky, as usually it takes a number of runs before three agendas are scored. However, it seemed like every time I ran, an agenda was right there.

We tried again, feeling that my rediculous luck would not hold. In game 2, I scored one agenda with a few early runs on R&D, and later scored an Agenda that Dave installed, hoping to score himself. However, in running most of the nodes which Dave installed, I hit several traps. None of these so far were very dangerous to me however.

Finally Dave got several pieces of ice defending R&D, and an ice with 3 subroutines defending HQ. Thus, the chances that I could get through with Blink were very small. I built up, drawing through my deck quickly with Jack and Joe, and playing out cards until I had 3 Blinks and 9 Green Knight surge buffers. I then made a couple large runs against HQ and R&D, with preparation cards that would let me access several cards, but still no agendas. On one of those runs, I accessed 3 traps from HQ, and combined with the damage from Blink, a total of 1 Net damage got through my 9 Green Knight surge buffers. Dave had been unable to draw any agendas during the midgame, they were all at the bottom of his deck. I also had a Worm in play, a small wallbreaker, which could automatically get me through several of the ice Dave had out, for free.

Then I got unlucky, while running R&D, I was unable to break an ice with a "Trash a program" subroutine, failing with all three Blinks. He chose to trash my Worm. Another run failed to the same luck, and a Blink was trashed. I was now down to 2 Blinks, with much reduced chances of getting through. I then ran a node that Dave installed, and discovered an Experimental AI, which trashed my remaining two programs. It looked hopeless for Sir Gawain. Down to the final 4 cards in my deck, and with nothing in play but 10 Green Knight surge buffers, things looked bad. In my hand was my sole remaining hope. I had bot ha Worm and a Tinweasel icebreakers, which could get me through walls and code gates, but I knew I would never again be able to get through a sentry ice. Dave's fort where he was trying to advance agendas was guarded by two pieces of ice. One was a sentry which dealt one brain damage, but did not end the run. The other was unknown to me.

Dave installed another card behind that ice, and scored it...a corp war. This put the socre at 6-3. I was gaining up some bits. The Dave installed another Corp war. Using the first two actions of my turn to take bits, I was left with 6 bits in my pool. I could install either Worm, which could get through Walls of strength 2 or less (or bigger walls for large amounts of money), or Tinweasel, which could get through any code gate of strength 3 or less. I chose to go with Tinweasel. I installed it and ran. Against the sentry, I took a brain damage, my second of the game, and Dave chose one of the two useless cards in my hand. He then ressed the second piece of ice. A 3 strength Wall!. Brave Sir Gawain could not get through, and Dave scored the Corp War, tying the game at 6-6. I started to gain bits again, knowing it would take 7 bits to play the Worm and get through that piece of ice. I acted again as if the game was hopeless. I got up to 5 bits on my next turn while Dave drew. He then installed another card in that fort. Was it a corp war? I had to assume it was. Taking two more bits on my turn, I played the Worm, leaving me with 3...just enough to break the 3 stength wall. I ran again, discarding the final card in my hand to the brain damage. One more damage and I would be dead, as I could not draw any more cards. Paying three bits to break the wall, I got through, and revealed..... a Corp War. Sir Gawain was victorious again. Gawain 9 - McWane? 6

Next, we played Dave's runner against my Corp. My corp was similar to my previous Corp, Kazaa, using traps, viruses, and mean ice. This was to simulate that you can download viruses and other malicious programs from malicious Kazaa users. However, the card for which I named the deck Kazaa, Information Laundering, was no longer in the deck, as it was a bitgainer. I basically replaced my bitgainers in the deck with a backup plan...I mad ways to trace the runner if he ran against me, and then ways to do meat damage and kill him if he was traced. (Meat damage is real live damage, i.e.e sending out the goons to kill him. Net damage is damage suffered in cyberspace, to one's network).

In the first game, Dave got out to a great start, scoring an agenda quickly from R&D. My agendas were Priority Requisition, which lets me rez a piece of ice at no cost when I score it. This was how I would pay for good ice without bitgainers. I drew some cards, got some more ice and protected my HQ and R&D. I also had drawn all the cards I needed to trace and kill him if he ran again, and had no defense against tracing or meat damage. Dave got out a couple icebreakers and ran again on my HQ. I had 4 cards in hand. One was chance observation, which would let me trace him for running. Two dealt meat damage if I had him tagged. The other was a Priority Requisition. If he chose any of the tagging or damaging cards, it could alert him to the fact that he needed to get some protection. If he took the agenda he would be up 6-0. He chose the agenda, at random, unaware of what was coming. On my turn I traced him and send out the goons. Dead runner. The backup plan had worked. ;) Corp-Kazaa X - Runner-Mary 6 I dont really know how to score that. I didnt get any agendas, but won my killing the runner. I guess thats why the rules say that any win is 10 points.

Dave then switched to a runner that would be resistant to being killed with meat damage, due to have a huge hand size. (Damage forces a discard, and if they have no cards to discard they die). Dave's deck was based around increasing his hand size, and using cards which dealt him brain damage (decreasing hand size), but giving him powerful abilities.

This game started out well for me, as I got some ice in play, scored a Priority Requisition, and used it to rez a Liche (a very big, expensive, scary piece of ice). I then managed to score a second Requisition, rezzing another large piece of ice. But then Dave got a Forward's Legacy in play. Like Blink, Forward's is a powerful but unreliable isebreaker. Forward' Legacy's strength is equal to the roll of a die, rolled at the start of each run. On a 6, it could get through Liche. On any other run, he would immediately Jack out before hitting the Liche. Dave managed to get a Priority Requisition, and then played three "Desperate Competitor" cards, each giving him an extra point for scoring a Gray Ops agenda. So the score was tied 6-6. I drew a Viral Breeding Ground, and planned to go for the win, as Dave was low on funds, and could only get through my fort with a lucky roll. Viral Breeding Ground is an interesting agenda. When the runner scores it, it gets rid of their programs (2 programs for every advancement on the Viral Breeding Ground). However if the Corp scores it, it destroys the entire fort that it was advanced in. Its ideal as a last agenda, as if you score it you will win, while if the runner scores it his programs will disappear, making it easy for you to then install another agenda and advance it while the runner is helpless. In this case however, it didnt matter, as whichever of us scored the agenda would win.

My data fort for agendas was guarded by four pieces of ice. The first, an unrezzed haunting Inquisition. Dave hada Skeleton Passkeys to get through this, which could get throug hfor 6 bits. Next was a Data Wall. Dave could get through this for free with his Worm. next was an unrezzed Liche, followed by a rezzed Liche. (Having 2 Liches wouldnt do any good against forwards Legacy, as it could still get through with a 1 in 6 chance, for free. But against anything else, it would be another ice that was expensive to get through). I installed the Viral Breeding Ground and advanced it. Dave then playing a Lucidrine booster drug. This dealt him a point of brain damage, but gave him 9 extra bits for a run. He could thus get through my Haunting Inquisition. He rolled a die to determine the strength of Forward's Legacy........a 6!!! He could get through the Liche. And thus, his runner (whose name I forget right now), broke through my defenses to score the final agenda and win the game. Kazaa 6 - Runner 8

I'll update the name of the runner later. How's that for some good netrunner stories written during lunchtime. ;)



Speaking of good stories, Alex Swavely had quite a few about Xeno?, the GameSystem you see in the photo below. At one time (circa 1991), Alex was the Seattle Xeno champion. Xeno is long out of print now, so I guess he's never been unseated.

The spherical Xeno board, with velcro pieces.

Xeno is actually a game system, so I'll save most of the details for a future GameSystem article in The Games Journal. I'll just note that the board is a sphere (obviously) and that most of the games you play on it with the little velcro circles are stacking games like Focus. In fact, there is even a Focus variant for it called Out_of_Focus?. That may be why (according to the Spielfriek who sold it to me on eBay), this copy came from the collection of the late Sid Sackson. (It didn't have a stamp of authentication, but the seller said that was because the box was plastic and there was nowhere to stamp it. Having seen the box, and encountered the seller elsewhere in honest pursuits on the Net, I tend to believe him.)

Alex, of course, beat me in a trice, and then took a few minutes to show me some Xeno tricks. This was the last game I played tonight; after we played Xeno, my interview with Alex wound down into general shooting-the-shit, and then I caught a ride home with AlphaTim after he and Alex Rockwell finished Expedition and Netrunner, respectively.

Comments from the players?



The gang gets together for another enjoyable Expedition. (Somehow this caption isn't as funny.)

Expedition, Expedition, Expedition: the game of global tourism in search of the (roughly) Seventy Wonders Of The World. If only we could read the flavour text on the cards so we knew what we were looking at. Someone publish this in English, please! Or just translate the cards for us.

Five players sat down at 10:30 to race around the world. One got up the winner at 11:15. That man was Steve Dupree. Scores were as follows:


Steve Dupree 14
AlphaTim Schutz 13
Nat Dupree 10
Chris Bender 5
Annette 0

Steve and Nat, and Alex and Dan, all left around 11:15. The Bros. Sloniker had already left, since they live a long way north. AlphaTim and I waited for Alex to finish his Netrunner game, then we three left around 11:30. I'm not sure, but I think that just about the only people remaining were the following six people playing Das Amulett...

Comments from the players?


IIRC, I have never lost a game of Expedition. At least not yet. My strategy is to get to all my personal destinations as fast as possible, all but ignoring the public (common) destinations.


Das Amulett

Everyone studiously ignores whatever Tim is doing with his nose.

Don't know much about this game except that it is vaguely similar to Die_Magier_von_Pangaea?. Don't have the scores, either. Help me out, folks.


Dave Adams 7
Tim Higgins ???
Jay Lorch ???
Mark Purtill ???
Steve Vall\xE9e ???
Eric Yarnell ???


I won! The final turn was a doozy. From the first explanation of the rules, it seemed that getting a LOT of metal was a good thing, so I ONLY took metal cards at the start. This worked pretty well, as my hand was full for quite a while. On one turn I took 3 jewels and freaked everyone out. I only needed two more. On the final turn, I was able to win my 6th jewel and then manouver the wizard to a silver region, since I had 11 of them in my hand. I just laid them down and then was shocked when Jay put down 12. I looked down and noticed that I had the spell that meant that he needed to beat my bid by two! YEAH!!!

I liked the game and think it's playable and nice looking.


Thanks to everybody for another triffic game night, especially all the patient people playtesting piecepack & personal games (this week: San Andreas, AlphaGhost?, and BookWorms?). I also want to thank Alex Swavely, not only for his scorekeeping before I got to game night, but also for his great stories about the genesis of Xeno that I'll be using in upcoming GameSystem articles. Thanks to Fred Sloniker for some great commentary -- please write more, Fred -- and thanks to Marty Hale-Evans for a quick edit and lots of help with the captions. Thanks to Chad McDaniel for several photos, especially the ones before I arrived. And big, big thanks to all the people who have started donating to the AgogProject (or whatever we're going to call it) and to help refill the Prize Bag. Y-you... you light up my life. Sniff.


Thanks to everyone who showed up, especially those we played with (yes, even the little girls); double thanks to Tim, whose house was gloriously clean and spacious, both factors that helped me feel comfortable in a foreign environment and not run screaming into the night or anything.



Saturday, 19 April 2003, 5:00 PM at the house of Marty_Hale-Evans? and Ron_Hale-Evans? in Kent. Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES! It will be a CosmicNight.

Remember, Seattle Cosmic Game Night occurs every weekend, in one of three locations: Kent, Mill Creek, or Tukwila. 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.)

Supporting Seattle Cosmic and the Agog Project

The AgogProject is a philanthropic project of the Center for Ludic Synergy and Seattle Cosmic Game Night. The aim of the project is to provide game rules and equipment to hospitals, for use by patients and visitors. You can support the Agog Project by buying games via our Funagain affiliate program, by buying Seattle Cosmic Gear, and in a number of other ways. See the AgogProject page for more details.

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