Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Saturday, 7 June 2003

Better Living Through Parallel Processing

We met once again at 5:00 PM on 7 June at the Tukwila house of Dave Adams and Kathy Kizer. Present, in rough order of appearance, were David_Adams?, Alex_Rockwell?, Timothy_Higgins?, Nat_Dupree?, Steve_Dupree?, Chris_Bender?, ChadUrsoMcDaniel, Marty_Hale-Evans?, Ron_Hale-Evans? (me), Mark_Purtill?, and Jay_Lorch?. Kathy_Kizer? made an appearance toward the end of the evening, but since she was exhausted from helping her mother pack for her trip home in 90-degree heat, did not play any games (unless she played some after Marty and I left around 11:45).

I make that 11 gamers, still a pretty small number, as usual recently. We've been learning why attendance has been low lately: Tim Higgins has been tiling his floors and trying to get them ready for his next game night; Steve_Vall\xE9e? is in the middle of moving; Meredith_Hale? and Kisa_Griffin? were doing lawn work all day; Eric_Yarnell,_ND? and Dave_Howell? were playtesting some new CheapassGames; and so on.

I had more fun at this game night than I had had in a long time, thanks largely to people helpfully distributing scorekeeping and photography duties. I wasn't interrupted once (thereby annoying my fellow players) with the call, "Ron, are you ready for scores?", and Chad snapped a good many photos -- his camera shoots higher-quality pictures than ours anyway. So thanks to the scorekeepers (take a bow, guys) and our photographer Chad, I got in a good night's gaming, which felt almost as nice as a good night's sleep after my busy week.

I handed out blank paper when I arrived. Would the volunteer scorekeepers find it helpful if I distributed sheets containing the fields in each game description below (Game, Players, Location, Time, Winner, Prize) and a table to fill in for scores? I can whip them up pretty fast.


Yeah, forms would be cool. I just wrote down names and scores.


Flinke Pinke (a.k.a. Loco)

Game: Flinke_Pinke?
Players: Alex Rockwell, Chris Bender, Dave Adams
Location: Dining room?
Time: approx. 5:10-5:20
Winner: Alex Rockwell
Prize: deck of casino cards (donated by Alex to GamesToTheRescue)

There was a minor crisis in the Hale-Evans household because Marty had lost her wallet, so we were an hour late. Before we got there, several people had engaged in a game of Loco, which is a card-based version of Reiner Knizia's Flinke_Pinke?, which we had played under another name, Quandary, a few weeks ago (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030517). Confused? It's not as confusing as the game, which is (re-)titled Quandary for a reason.

Alex won the game. I don't know who else was playing with him, but I hope people will add the names to the Players field above. (Scores would be even better).

Alex was awarded a deck of casino cards from the PrizeBag, which he then donated to the GamesToTheRescue project. If you're thinking about declining a prize, why not do what Alex did instead? Thanks, Alex.


While we waited for more people to arrive, Chris brought out the new Reiner Knizia card game 'Loco!' It is a remake of Flinke Pinke / Quandary, using cards and chips instead of a board. (Which is really all that is necessary). The blue line got filled up quickly, and I had the blue 5 in my hand. When Dave played the blue 1, the fifth blue card, I was able to play the Blue 5, grab a second blue token, and win with a score of 14 - 7 - 7. The game lasted about 10 minutes, including explanation. None of us were focusing very hard on it, we were primarily waiting for people to arrive, and commenting that it is a reprint of Quandary, which was played at Seattle Cosmic a couple weeks back.

I wasnt going to take a prize for such a quick game, but Ron suggested I take some cards and donate them to Games for the Rescue, so thats what I did. Seems to me that we could just have the group move some of the applicible stuff from the prize bag to games to the rescue, but I guess this system works as well. ;)



Nat prays for guidance, Chris bows toward Mecca, and Alex flips off the general public.

Game: Traumfabrik
Location: Dining room
Time: approx. 5:30-6:30 PM
Winner: Chris Bender
Prize: mini tie-dyed beach ball


Chris Bender 95
Alex Rockwell 76
Chad McDaniel 65
Nat Dupree 58

When Marty and I arrived at 6:00, the Traumfabrik game was half-over and the Abenteuer_Menschheit? game was just starting. Marty was invited to play AM, and I sat down in the living room to read and await more players.


This was Chris' first play of Traumfabrik, and for the third game in a row in which I have played, I have witnessed a new player do incredibly well, this time crushing us will a very good score of 95. Starting out in the first year, Chad finished the first movie, for the 5 point award for best movie, and for first blue movie. (I can NEVER remember what category corresponds to what color). I got the first orange movie, and I believe the first Green (Drama?) went to Chris. Sadly, I cant remember the categories, and dont remember what movies they were, so I cant get more into the theme. ;) I do remember that Chad completed "Gentlemen prefer Blondes" with the correct actor and actress. (Marilyn Monroe and ??? I havent seen that one).

Chris got the best movie of the game finished in the second round, I believe, and thus went on to win two 5 point best movie awards, and the best Green movie overall with it. A critical play near the end was when both Nat and I needed one more piece to complete a movie, and both of the needed pieces were in one auction. I bid 6, which was, I believe, the amount of contracts Nat had remaining, and thus she was forced to pass. This game me the worst movie, while preventing Nat from finishing a big movie she needed in order to have enough for Best Direction (which passed to Chad). Winning the auction put me up to second place and pushed Nat into fourth. (Sorry Nat).

Chris picked the game up very quickly and did very well, commenting that it was going on his list of games he needed to buy. Following this, we were to play another Reiner Knizia game which would also be added to that list. And to mine as well. But we will get to the adventures of the Hobbits against the Evil Chad/Sauron later on. ;)


Abenteuer Menschheit

1. We do NOT begin all our games with a prayer; it just looks that way.
2. Villages cast long shadows across the developing world in Mankind's Adventure.

Game: Abenteuer_Menschheit?
Location: Nook
Time: approx. 6:00-8:00
Winner: Tim Higgins
Prize: ?


Tim Higgins 10
Dave Adams 7
Steve Dupree 6
Marty Hale-Evans 6

I don't know much about this game, except that (according to Marty), Dave was the favourite to win for most of the game, until he started squandering resources by retaliating against Marty, hitting her over and over again with the Neanderthal because she refused to trade with him (he was winning). The Dave/Marty squabble allowed Tim to sneak ahead and grab the win with 10 points.


I wouldn't say Tim "sneaked" ahead. I've played this game with Tim a few times, and Tim likes this kind of game because Tim is very good at plotting out a slow-but-steady blueprint for getting himself where he needs to be. I'm still hoping some of that will rub off on my brain if I keep playing with him enough. :) By contrast, Dave and I both have a more impulsive style, jumping ahead quickly with tactical play and then bogging down in something later. If we're silly enough to entangle each other, it tends to ensure that neither of us is going to win.

I still like this game, but it frustrates me. For some reason, I have trouble figuring out everything at the same time -- I can get one part of the strategy working, but it's never quite enough to get ahead.


Dave might not have won anyways, but I also helped plot his downfall by grabbing more event tiles than he had and stealing 2 points from him. I also traded with Tim on the last turn, breaking my cardinal settlers rule of Don't Trade With Anyone Over Seven Points. But I was using the strategy of "I have no chance of winning or even not coming in last in this game, so let's get it over quickly so I can go play something else I might win." Tim had a brief vendetta against me in early-to-midgame because I put the Neanderthal on his (and Dave's and Marty's) 6 Bone 3 or 4 times in a row.


The "I have no chance of winning so lets get it over" strategy is a very powerful balancing mechanism against the Bash the leader mechanic. As one who dislikes leader bashing, its always fun to see it come into play.


I disagree. No offense, but I always think this is really bad sportsmanship. It may be comforting because you "win", in some sense, at the metagame, because it's a way of controlling what gets played and when, at the expense of other players' enjoyment. It's very selfish and inconsiderate to just throw wrenches into a game that other players are still enjoying, simply because you happen to be out of it (or even only *think* you're out of it). Besides, how do you learn anything that way? (Even if you don't believe you can learn anything about playing the game, controlling selfish impulses is good for the soul. :) )

The thing is, Steve, that even if you were just doing that as a flippant move, it did put you right back in the game. It was the reasonable move. If it hadn't ended soon thereafter, which you aided by trading with Tim, you would still have been a viable contender, so why not actually play at that point?


Yes, there's a succinct name for the "I have no chance of winning or even not coming in last in this game, so let's get it over quickly so I can go play something else I might win" non-strategy. It's called KingMaking?.


I think I didn't express what I meant clearly.

I am not a fan of Kingmaking. I think of Kingmaking as when two people both have a good chance of winning the game, and one other uninvolved person is able to or is forced to make a decision, which will cause one or the other player to win, and they must choose. I dont tend to like games that have this as a frequent event.

However, there is another situation which is what I was referring to. This is the situation when one player is significantly ahead of all others, and likely to win unless all others combine to bash down the leader. The case of the settlers game in which one player is at nine points and no one else is close to winning is an example of this. In this case, I think making a play which helps the leader and yourself, and ends the game, is a good thing, becasue it gives the win to the person who was clearly ahead, and lets all the players start a new game in which they now have a chance again. The game was basically decided at that point, it was only a matter of making it official. So instead of dragging the game out for the very very slim chance that someone else might catch the leader, why not end it there?

I believe that a similar situation was the source of a conflict at our most recent Twilight Imperium day. My take of that game (view from a non-participant), was as follows. In that game, Marty was very close to winning, and would win unless everyone combined to stop her, in which case Dave had a chance of winning. Everyone decided that Marty was well in the lead. Instead of trying to all bash the leader, in which case they might be able to stop her, and someone else win, that they would let her win and the game would end, as it was past time for the game to be finished. Dave, feeling that he had a chance at winning, wanted everyone to keep fighting and prevent Marty from winning. Thus, the group had decided that they were going to let the game end, with the player who was far ahead winning, instead of leader bashing. People who enjoy leader bashing, however, or are counting on it in order to facilitate their comeback, dont like this, of course. So it can create some conflict.

There is a big difference in my opinion between a game in which two people are both close to winning, and another player helps one of them get the win (kingmaking), and a game in which one player is far ahead of everyone else, and one player decides not to drag out the game with pointless leader bashing, but instead to end it. It is in a way, the opposite of leader bashing. And less leader bashing is good. ;)

I am a big fan of ending games once someone gets a significant (likely insurmountable) lead. (Well, for long games. For short games it doesnt matter). I much prefer this to an endgame of constant leader bashing where everyone aids the second place person in his or her attempt at a comeback.

I guess that the best of both worlds would be a game which didnt have opportunities for either leader bashing or for handing the game to someone. However, finding a game that involves more than 2 players (more than 2 sides actually), and has player interaction, that does this, is difficult. I can think of a few, and they are all near the top of my list of favorites.


Hmm. I see your point somewhat in the differentiation you make between handing the game to one or another competing player and ending a game that has a foregone conclusion. However, the AM game under discussion wasn't like that; as we've pointed out here already, Steve's play to take the points away from Dave put him back into competition; in fact, if I recall correctly, that either put him in second place or tied him for third, and there were only two points between first and last place. Tim was ahead, but it wasn't *completely* clear that he was going to inevitably win, especially if Steve hadn't traded with him.

I also don't completely agree with your opinion about leader bashing. Leader bashing for its own sake is stupid, but if you have some chance of winning if you can prolong the game, it's a valid strategy to stop the leader from winning to give yourself more time. I think in some games, it's actually a balancing factor. I also don't think it's always "everyone aiding the second-place player"; if the scores are close, or if everyone is close but the leader, it aids all the other players to hold back the leader.

And, I guess, it's also a matter of personal style -- I find it exciting to play a game out fighting to the last chance, even if my chances of winning are slim. For me, it's about the playing more than the winning or losing, so just cutting the play short when it looks like I won't win deprives me of seeing how the game plays out. Watching that is part of the process for me, and it teaches me something about the game and about the other players with whom I'm playing. That's valuable to me, especially in a game group setting, where I'm likely to be facing that game and that player again sometime.


I honestly disagree that anyone other than Tim had a statistically significant chance of winning this game at the time of the trade in question. Stealing the Most Events from Dave did add to my own score while bashing the current leader at the time I did most of it, so I don't feel too badly about that. But it effectively knocked Dave out of the running. If Tim hadn't used my trade to win the game, the resource I got out of it significantly enhanced my own hand. However, despite my 6 points, I was in a really weak position with all three of my original settlements still in Africa and only one other placed. Likely the best I could have done was not be in last place alone. And that's what I ended up ensuring by helping to end the game when I did.

This is a [non]strategy best used sparingly. I am not into KingMaking? myself, except maybe in the special case of playing a two-player game against Nat. But I am with Alex that ending a game with an obvious, inevitable conclusion is not the same thing as KingMaking?.


Take It Easy

1. Ron is relieved of photography, but still frantically takes notes.
2. Lots of notes. A tremendous quantity of notes.

Game: Take_It_Easy?
Location: Dining room
Time: 6:40-7:10 PM
Winner: Alex Rockwell, Chris Bender
Prize: plastic ball maze puzzles

Scores. Game 1

Alex Rockwell 165
Nat Dupree 114
Chris Bender 113
Ron Hale-Evans 113
Chad McDaniel 86

Scores, Game 2

Chris Bender 165
Nat Dupree 142
Chad McDaniel 141
Ron Hale-Evans 132
Alex Rockwell 114

Since Mark Purtill didn't arrive until 7:00, the Traumfabrik game was over before the next player arrived. I pulled out Take_It_Easy? and everyone agreed to play it. In explaining it to the newbies, Alex Rockwell dragged out the hairy hoary chestnut, "It's like Bingo... with strategy!", which should probably be this game's catch phrase in a game of The_Big_Idea?.

Chad was the first Caller, and Alex was the second. I'd suggest Alex not call again, since he can't seem to find a consistent way to read the numbers on the tiles, confusing everyone but himself. However, it's just as annoying when he's not the Caller, because he sings a little three-note tune off-key under his breath, over and over. ("Nee NEE nee. Nee NEE nee. Nee NEE nee.") I'd suggest he was MetaGaming?, but he wouldn't do anything like that, would he? ;)

In any case, Alex won the first game. Chris Bender learned quickly and won the second. Nat Dupree, who says she has trouble with math, nevertheless seems to have a good intuitive feel for the game, and came in second twice. There was some discussion about how in some tournament ranking systems, Nat would be the overall winner, but I didn't grok it. Perhaps someone can elucidate this below.

Alex and Chris won some plastic ball-in-cup puzzles. Alex didn't like his, so gave it to Nat, who played with it the rest of the evening, coming quite close to solving it at one point.


At first when I read Ron's comment, I thought "what the heck is the nee NEE nee thing he is saying I was humming". Then I realized that it was the music from Harry Potter, which I was humming because Dave's kids were watching it in the background, and they were near the end of the second movie, where it plays that theme a lot. Sorry about that, it was subconscious. ;)

In both games, as always in Take it Easy, the last tile to be pulled has a huge importance. In the first game, there was a shortage of 9's, and it looked likely that the 9 column would not be filled. (That only four 9 tiles would be drawn). A couple of us, including myself, abandoned our 9 column, hoping that not enough nines would be drawn. Sadly (for us), several nines came out at the end. However, most of the others had messed up several of their other lines trying to get the nines, so things still worked out in my favor, because I had been focusing on rows of fives and sixes, which were plentiful, and the high valued tiles werent coming out very much. In the second game, several of us spent most of the game waiting for the 7/8/9 tile to come out, which we would drop into the very center of the board and complete all three of those rows. However, that tile was never drawn, leading to a reversal in the game positions.

I was going to reject the puzzle and get a different prize, but Nat exclaimed when they were brought out "Oh I love thse", so I passed mine to her. We then justified this based on the fact that if we combined the results of the two games, based on our positions in the game, Nat wouldve done the best.


Lord of the Rings (with Sauron Expansion)

1. Heavy thinking won't save the doomed party from Sauron and spectacularly bad luck.
2. Where it all went wrong.

Game: Lord_of_the_Rings? (with Sauron_Expansion?)
Location: Dining room
Time: 7:15-9:20 PM
Winner: Sauron (Chad McDaniel)
Prize: n/a


Sauron Chad McDaniel
Frodo Chris Bender
Sam Alex Rockwell
Pippin Mark Purtill
Merry Nat Dupree
Fatty Ron Hale-Evans

Next up in the dining room was Lord_of_the_Rings?, with the Sauron_Expansion?. We chose Chad to be Sauron, since he'd played him once before, and unsuccessfully. :) We decided that playing with the Friends_&_Foes_Expansion? would be suicidal, but Chad requested that Sauron start at 12 on the Corruption Track instead of 15, to give him a chance. As it turned out, he didn't need much of one...

Alex dealt the Hobbits, asking, "Any preferences?" Chris said, "I'll be the short one." Although Alex shuffled, the order of the Hobbits around the table was identical to their importance in the game, starting with Chris as Frodo, moving clockwise, skipping Sauron, then to Alex as Sam, all the way to me as Fatty. (Somehow I always end up drawing Fatty...)

Chris had never played before, so while he was learning the rules, Jay and I went upstairs to Dave and Kathy's deck and looked out over their gardens and up at Dave's kids' neato geodesic treehouse, with electric lighting and all. Man, if I had a treehouse like that as a kid, I don't think I ever would have come down.

The game got off to a good start. We spent less than three turns in Moria, then it was on to the next board. However, after a brutal draw, Chad said, "The bag is with Sauron!" He was correct. We hit a string of Event Tiles in Shelob's Lair -- three Events before any of us could even move a marker. After our fifth event, we estimated there were almost twenty tiles left in the bag, and only one could be the sixth Event Tile. Good odds, right? We drew the sixth Event.

Shelob's Lair was over and the Mordor board came up. Four out of five of us died because we hadn't accumulated enough Life Tokens. The only Hobbit left in Mordor was Merry the Ringbearer (Nat). Chad said, "I'll try to make it quick." He did. Sauron ate Merry, and the Fellowship ended the game with a measly 51 for a score.

Sigh. Evil wins again. At least this Dark Lord was correct in supposing his enemies had Weapons of Mass Destruction (the One Ring).


1. Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Fatty are dinner for the Dark Lord.
2. Merry soldiers valiantly on, to no avail.

Well, I felt we were doing extremely well in this game at the end of Helm's Deep. Sadly, after drawing 9 tiles in Shelob's lair, we had drawn all six event tiles, two other bad tiles, and only one tile that gave us an actual turn. A draw like that will kill you in this game, no matter what.

Starting off, we drew well in Moria, and managed to finish it in only two turns, with no bad tiles drawn (through the use of the ring to finish the scenario just when something bad was about to happen to us). Chad/Sauron played a Nazgul card on us early on that forced us to either discard five fighting cards, or suffer some very bad effect. We had a lot of fighting cards, and discarded them, with 3 fighting coming from the hand of Fatty, who would be able to draw a number more cards than the rest of us throughout the game. Fatty continued to make Noble card sacrifices as the game progressed.

Entering Moria, we had followed the plan of getting the ring to Sam, and thus, Starting off the scenario, I could advance us along the friendship track and take the bad effect of the Black Square there at only partial effect. Throughout the game, whenever Sam was forced to roll the die, Sauron continued to merely draw up to six cards, and thus Sam was spared from many bad effects.

Helm's Deep was a race to complete the Friendship track before the Riders of Rohan event, and then to finish the first half of the traveling track before the Orcs attack the gate. (Event number 2 and 3, in case I got the details of them wrong). These two events are very important because based on how far advanced the party is on the respective tracks, they either help you by handing out more resources and cards, or hurt you by doing bad effects (like Sauron moving forward and having people roll the die/invoke Sauron at full effect). We managed to get just far enough along on the tracks, just in time, through some clever use of resources. I have found that Helm's deep is one of the most critical parts of the game, because it can either help you or hurt you depending on how far along you get on those tracks. During Helm's Deep, Sauron tried to advance the Black Rider a lot, but we thwarted him by using powers to prevent the effect of his Nazgul card charge, which wouldve moved the rider 6 spaces. We managed to avoid being tagged by the rider in both Moria and Helm's Deep.

Entering Shelob's Lair, I felt our chances of winning were excellent. We had moved the ring to Merry (Nat), who we had protected from harm and who was only two spaces into the grey on the corruption track. We also had saved a fair number of fighting, and a lot of travelling cards, which we could use to sprint throuhg Shelob's Lair and Mordor, typically killer areas. We had one problem however, and that was that two players did not have either a Wild card left in their hand, or 3 shields. Thus, when the second event arrived, we would be forced to prevent its effect or those characters would die. (Since you have to either discard a wild card, or 3 shields, or die). We should have been able to quickly pick up enough shields to pay the cost, had we gotten some turns, but the event tiles moved way too fast. Before even getting a turn, we drew 3 event tiles and the "Discard a card, a shield, and a life token, or the next event happens" tile. We had to use up another special ability to advance us along one of the tracks and pick up a life token, so that we could prevent that event, but in the end it didnt help as we drew nothing but event tokens. After taking one turn, we drew three more event tokens to finish the scenario. Starting out, we were all fairly uncorrupted, and far from Sauron. After suffering through all the events at the end of Shelobs lair, we were all nearly dead. Then, since none of us had any life tokens, since we had had basically no turns in Shelob's Lair, four players dies, leaving Nat/Merry to continue on in Mordor, with a mere three cards in her hand. At this point it was of course hopeless, and Nat managed to advance three squares in Mordor before being killed by Sauron.

It was a great game, and I plan to get the Sauron expansion. I had never played that expansion before, being reluctant to do so because the Seattle Cosmic players tended to play with both the Friends and Foes AND the Sauron expansion, going through all six boards. This is of course, suicidal, and they would get brutally slaughtered by Sauron every time.

This game, we played with just the Sauron expansion, and thus had a much better chance. We played with the Watchful Peace ability available (which moves Sauron back three spaces), but we started Sauron at 12, to be fair to Chad. (Had we started at 15, I think we still might have won, as we wouldve all survived the Massacre in Shelob's Lair, and then we couldve played all our saved Travelling cards and sprinted to Mount Doom. Whether we wouldve won would depend on the ratio of good to bad tiles drawn in Mordor). Anyway, playing with watchful peace and Sauron at 12 is basically the same as playing with Sauron at 15 and without the card, except that if we did really well, we would have the chance to add 10 points to our total score.

Overall, it was a great game, and the Saurom expansion adds many more decisions which I feel really add to the game. Not only is their a thinking Sauron player, but the players have many more abilities as well, and more tricks they can use to aid the fellowship.

I will be interested to hear Sauron's veiw of the events.


La Citta

1. Running a kingdom is serious business.
2. Insert generic game board caption here.

Game: La_Citta?
Location: Nook
Time: 8:00-11:20 PM
Winner: Marty Hale-Evans
Prize: water pistol


Marty Hale-Evans 32
Tim Higgins 28
Jay Lorch 25
Dave Adams 24
Steve Dupree 0

Meanwhile, Marty was busy winning La_Citta? in the dining room. She said she felt particularly smug about beating Tim and Jay. Poor Steve had never played before and was atypically baffled; he scored zero.

Dave awarded Marty a green water pistol.


As Marty said about my score, "It can only get better from there." My poor little village of New Steve starved to death in the last turn; I had 5 haggard citizens left after the famine and subtracted 5 points for starving. I still have no idea what to do to win this game, as it was far too hot to think that night. The only tip I learned might be "poll the people before you bet on what improvements to build."


Actually, I was somewhat smug about beating *all* of the players in that game, because I consider all of them worthy opponents, to say the least. Which is to say, people I rarely beat. Of course, since Steve and Dave had never played and Jay had only played once, it really wasn't *that* much of an achievement. Tim has no excuse, though, so I can still be smug about beating him. :)

This remains one of my favorite games, and not only because I occasionally win it. I think the whole mechanism of it is very elegant, I like how the chance elements affect play (but rarely, if ever, are gamebreaking), and I like that there are many possible winning strategies. It's kind of hard to understand at first because so many of the elements are balanced on each other, and you have to manage a lot of interlocking resources (food, city size, service point balance with other cities, citizens needed to expand, expansion requirements and constrictions, etc.)

If I were to list tips, I might include: 1) Watch your food production closely (as we discussed); 2) Let your cities work together to provide different things; 3) Grow gradually and plan for future rounds -- building quarries early helps you build larger buildings later when you'll need them, for example; 4) Try not to get too penned in between other cities, although this can be unavoidable with lots of players; if you do, though, figure out how to make it work for you to create a small city there that provides something for another larger city.

I'm still playing around with developing a trade variant for this game, maybe. It intrigues me, although I haven't figured out yet whether it would be cool or lame.


I have played the game, but it was once, a loooong time ago. I really enjoyed it, but SHOULD have polled the people at least once. My initial placement should have been near a gold mine.



Chris and Alex pit their wits in cyberspace.

Game: Netrunner
Location: Living room
Time: 9:35-11:10 PM
Winner: ?
Prize: ?


PLAYER Game 1 Game 2
Alex Rockwell (Corp both games - Highlander corp deck) 7 7
Chris Bender (Runner both games - Highlander runner deck) 5 5

After LotR?, Alex and Chris played a few games of Netrunner in the living room.


Both Chris and I had made "Highlander" decks. That is, decks with no more than one of any card. "There can be only one". Both games were close, and exciting, coming down to a position where whoever scored one more agenda would win the game. In one game, Chris ran at my agenda with his Blink icebreaker, which has a 50% chance of getting through, but rolled badly and was thwarted, allowing me to win. In the second, He ran into my Haunting Inquisition ice, which ends the run and prevents him from running again for six actions. (The runner is to scared to run after the nightmare he just experienced). Because he could not run, I could play and advance agenda without cover during my next turn, and then finish it the turn after that. Chris only had a runner deck, so we played two games of his runner against my corp. Both games ended 7 to 5.


New England

1. Running an American colony is less serious business.
2. New England board.

Game: New_England?
Location: Dining room
Time: 9:35-11:10 PM
Winner: Mark Purtill
Prize: wooden back scratcher


Mark Purtill 29 + tiebreaker
Nat Dupree 29
Chad McDaniel 25
Ron Hale-Evans 17

Next up in the dining room was New_England?. It was the first game for me, Mark, and Chad. Nat explained it to us, but was a little confused, so Mark and Chad consulted the rules to help out. I should have availed myself of the written rules, but did not, with the result that I got several key rules wrong. If I had paid more attention, I could have won; on the other hand, if the people who knew how to play had not cut me some slack, I could have ended up with an even lower score.

New England is an auction game in which players bid on plots of land and cards that let them develop the plots, as well as pilgrims, ships, and barns, which confer certain special abilities. Despite a certain amount of surface complexity, the mechanics are actually quite simple (and by that I mean simple like Chess, not simple like Tic_Tac_Toe?).

I can't speak for the other players, but my strategy was to spend as little as possible each turn that I was not the starting player, then when I was the starting player, order the most of whatever I needed (lot tiles or development cards) to be laid out, then bid as much as I could afford for the two pieces I liked. This strategy nearly got me a sizeable 16 points on one turn, except that I hadn't realised the development cards will only let you develop a lot in the shape of the one on the card. Thus, the 6-point card I wanted showed a 2x2 square lot, but I had built mine in the shape of a 'Z'. Damn! There weren't even any cards for the 'Z' shape in the game! I had to be content with 10 points that turn. Toward the end of the game, the others thought it was a race between me and Mark, probably because I had this fat 10-point card on the table and another tucked away ready to use. They were wrong; Mark had the win sewed up.

Nat quite accidentally screwed my grand plan by building a lot in such a way that it blocked me from building my own lots and developing them with the 10-point card I had in storage. There were a number of things I could have done to stop Nat (such as build to block her in a previous turn, or try to talk her into bidding lower, so I could go first, since there were plenty of tiles of the right colour), but I didn't do them. I took a couple of pilgrims or something instead, for 2 points, so my blunder had cost me 8 points. Nat spent the next five minutes apologising, but we told her it was okay to be aggressive in games.

If it weren't for my main rules mistake (which cost me 6 points) and my actual strategic mistake (which cost me 8 points), I would have been up 14 points, with a score of 31 instead of 17. (Perhaps I'm deluding myself, but despite coming in last, I am content with my play, since I understand what I did wrong.) As it was, Mark and Nat tied for first with 29 points, but Mark had more money, so he won the tiebreaker. Ironically, Nat's bidding so high on the last turn in a desperate attempt to get the right colour tile probably cost her the game; she was wasting tiebreaker money, since she and I were the only people who wanted those tiles.

Mark was awarded a wooden back scratcher. Hooray for Mark. I wish Mark would come to game night more often; it is a pleasure to lose to him. :)

New England was a lot of fun for me, and I would like to play it again now that I understand the rules better.

Comments from the players?


Filthy Rich

Game: Filthy_Rich?
Location: Living room
Time: approx. 11:15-11:40
Winner: Nat Dupree
Prize: glow-in-the-dark paint pen


Nat Dupree winner
Alex Rockwell 0

People were starting to leave while Nat and Alex played a game of Filthy_Rich? in the living room. Nat won and Steve suggested she ask for a glow-in-the-dark paint pen, so that's what she got.


Nat won by bankrupting Alex. She was going to discard a card that forced all players to pay $3 for a $1 bounty, when I pointed out that it would hurt Alex more than it would hurt her since she had $3 or 4 and he had only $2. I thought he would have to close one of his businesses, but instead he automatically went bankrupt and lost.


That card is quite powerful, because it can kill a player who has less than 3$ remaining, without giving them a chance to sell businesses to pay the cost. (You can only sell businesses on your turn, or when taxes are rolled on the dice). I shouldve been more careful and always kept 3$ or more available. (You always need to have 3$ or more in that game, or you can instantly lose to that card, unless you have the card in your hand). The card is very powerful, as you can save it all game, and if anyone ever goes below 3$ (not uncommon), and doesnt get more money during the business phase (which is random), you can kill them on your turn.



Game: Skitgubbe?
Location: Dining room
Time: approx. 11:45-12:30
Losers: Dave Adams and Nat Dupree
Prize: none awarded


PLAYER Hand 1 Hand 2
Alex Rockwell winner winner
Dave Adams 'Goat' winner
Kathy Kizer winner winner
Nat Dupree winner 'Goat'
Steve Dupree winner winner

Chris Bender and Chad both left around 11:15. Mark and I sat at the table in the dining room, and he suggested some extra Edict cards for CosmicPig. (Mark has read not only InterstellarPig but also its sequel, Parasite Pig. Mark likes pigs!) Tim Higgins left around 11:30; Jay left around 11:35. Dave sat at the table with Marty, me, Kathy, and his daughter Natalie and looked at a copy of Dungeoneer? he had borrowed from Tim. Marty and I chatted with them and left around 11:45 or 12:00. I don't know if any games (e.g. Dungeoneer?) were played after we left. Perhaps someone would care to report.

Thanks to Marty for a light edit and help with the title. Thanks to her also for help with captioning the photos.

See you next week at the newly-tiled house of Tim Higgins!


Yes, I'm sure many of us are waiting to see the outcome of Tim's real-time life-size tile-laying solitaire. :)


That gives "Tile laying" a new meaning doesnt it. ;)



Saturday, 14 June 2003, 5:00 PM at the house of Tim Higgins in Mill Creek (Bothell). Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES from the PrizeBag!

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 Games to the Rescue

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

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