Saturday, January 24, 2009

2008 games in review

Seems like everyone else is doing it, so why can't I?

In 2008, I logged 565 plays of 182 different games.

By keeping track of what games I play when, I can A) remember what I've played and B) let someone else do a ton of number crunching to reveal some interesting trends. I know that it's a dark and slippery path down the road of over analysis and statistics, but it is damn handy to know that I haven't played game X in over a year, or that my plays of game Y indicate that I should check out game Z, and so on and so forth. For me, once I got into the habit of capturing the data I let someone else process it and don't think about to too much, so it's a very lean-back process for me. I got into the habit during the Austin years and have kept with it. Props to Ian of Sky Castle Games for the encouragement.

BGG has a tool that generates your "five and dime list," showing games that you've played at least five or ten times, respectively. Some people have quarters, half-dollars, or even dollars. Let's break down the Mischa Year in Gaming 2008. As always, you can read more about these games at BGG, or buy them at Funagain (use that link and I get a kickback).

I only have one for this year: Race for the Galaxy, squeaking in with 26 plays total. What can I say new about Race? It's a fun game with a lot of front-end upload before that first play and no direct player interaction (at least, not until the second expansion). I recently played the first expansion for the first time, which includes a drafting variant that looks beyond my ken right now, but it got me thinking about ways to make Duplicate Race akin to Duplicate Bridge (which may yet be part of the Olympics). The lack of direct interaction turns a lot of people off; but I still dig it. I wouldn't mind playing the two-player advanced version more frequently or giving the solitaire version a whirl to try out the robot player.

Quite a few dimes, not too many near misses.

Chase, 20 plays
Still a great abstract, and one of my few tens ("Always want to play and expect this will never change") that I play online at SDG. I don't log online play as a rule, with one or two exceptions, so this is twenty face-to-face games.

Agricola, 17 plays
One of the new hotness games, this is pretty popular with the crew. I suspect I'd play this more if we had the table space more frequently. I do enjoy it, but I feel my interest waning a tad for no particular reason apart from wanting to vary my gaming diet.

Ricochet Robots, 14 plays
This is an old standby that I've played many many times since at least 2001 or so. One day I'll have several old hands at the game at the same time and we can try some of the variants or even the reflecto-walls.

Sheepshead, 14 plays
Strange little midwestern card game; trick-taking, secret and uneven partnerships, plays with five and a regular (albeit abridged) deck of cards. Fun times.

Die Sieben Siegel, 14 plays
Another popular trick-taking game described as Spades plus Evil. I'd like to mix in some new blood with this soon. I know that I will return to this one in the future.

Battle for Hill 218, 13 plays
Even though this made my dime list, I don't play this enough. I also owe the designer a full review, but for now, let's say that this packs a lot of strategy into a little box.

Bridge, 12 plays
Yes, bridge. This is another life game that I don't dedicate time to study. It does scratch an excellent partnership itch that many other games don't touch.

Pandemic, 12 plays
Still losing! I think I generally lose two or three times out of four. I like this game and want to beat it, but I wonder if the decks of cards produce unwinnable states.

Abalone, 11 plays
Abstract strategy that has a few flaws; fixed with varying start positions. This would get played more frequently if I brought it out. I really look forward to having one shelf of two-player abstracts.

No Thanks!, 11 plays
Not much to say here; it's quick and plays five. One of the smallest rule sets I know, with wildly varying behavior based on play style.

Category 5, 10 plays
Another small rule set game. Plays with many, a good filler/intro game. We rarely play more than one round. Maybe I'll suggest we play with the variant to take points.

Jungle Speed, 10 plays
The sport of kings.

Set, 10 plays
I don't play this enough. Again, this is a game with a skill to develop.

Dominion, 9 plays
What addictive and popular crack this is. More later.

Blokus, 8 plays
Still a great abstract; one of my go-to games to introduce to new potential gamers. Summed up best as "Attack Tetris."

Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg, 8 plays
We've played this wrong a few times wrt declaration, but it's still a good fun game. I would love to playtest the expansion.

Bamboleo, 7 plays
Fun, but a little lacking in replay value somehow.

Word Blur, 7 plays
You need a nice big table for this one. I like that it's a word game about words.

Bohnanza, 6 plays
Absolutely the best game about bean trading that you will ever play.

Carrousel, 6 plays
Visual puzzle, skill-based, I'm good at it, there you go.

Liar's Dice, 6 plays
I think I'm done with this game, but I do know that there are different ways to play- I usually play the Perudo rules (lose one die), but others play the Bluff rules (lose as many dice as you miss by). I'll compare and contrast at some point.

Manhattan, 6 plays
A dozen plays later, and I worry that there's not a good way to catch up if you get stomped in the first round. Still want to play with the monster.

Oh Hell!, 6 plays
This one has fallen by the wayside in lieu of Die Steven Seagal. I'm also not playing a daily lunchtime game in Austin.

Army of Frogs, 5 plays
Fun abstract strategy that I don't yet own.

Briscola, 5 plays
So far, I exclusively play this two-player.

California, 5 plays
A lighter game about home decorating; I'm not sure how frequently I'll choose to play this.

Coloretto, 5 plays
A standard set-collecting type game, good to introduce to new players and a good design for the colorblind.

Colossal Arena, 5 plays
Did I tell you the story about not playing the correctly for a decade?

Felix: The Cat in the Sack, 5 plays
Bluff and mindreading; if that's up your alley, then play this. Gets better once it clicks.

Ingenious, 5 plays
One of the best games I've received as a gift. Lots of depth here.

Vitrail, 5 plays
Visual puzzle, skill-based, I'm good at it, there you go.

Pillars of the Earth, 5 plays
This hits a sweet spot for me: a bit of randomness, a grabby theme, building something together while competing. I recently played the expansion for the first time in 2009; it adds options and choices and players and length. Overall a good thing.

Ta Yu, 5 plays
My interest in this one is dropping, despite its popularity with the group. I think because there's a fair amount of downtime and partners are forbidden to discuss moves.

Time's Up!, 5 plays
I want more people. Need to have a card party to fill up the blanks.

Uptown, 5 plays
Sort of like reverse Acquire, I usually do badly at this but have a good time trying to plan out my disaster!

Wizard, 5 plays
This one has fallen by the wayside in lieu of Oh Hell.

Zertz, 5 plays
I need all of the Gipf games. I like how this one is about giving your opponent moves to force their move. maybe I will revisit checkers.

For kicks, here's the near misses at four plays per.
Arkham Horror
Dragon Delta
Hey! That's My Fish!
Traditional Card Games (This is a placeholder for games not in the BGG DB- I don't think this is actually four plays of the same card game.)

Moving on: I can dig a little deeper and pull out a list of new-to-me games in 2008 from the BGG extended stats cruncher. Insert the appropriate disclaimers about how I'm not a statistician, please. I played 87 new-to-me games in 2008; I played about a third of those titles more than once. At least six of these titles I actually have played before, but my data epoch starts at September 2006. A fair number of these are titles I do not own or do not wish to own.

Honestly, I think my game-playing slowed down in 2008. I look forward to having the game room in full swing. Also unpacking games I haven't seen in over a year. Also getting rid of games. My collection recently topped 400, and while a fair number of those are expansions or small games, a too large percentage of that number is either crap I thrifted or games that I've since lost interest in.

I promise not to wait months until my next game post.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Funniest. Star Wars. EVER.

Oh my god. I haven't laughed this hard since Noises Off. I managed to not fall out of my chair.

Behold, Star Wars [All three movies!] as retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi.

Direct link to video for my RSS friends.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NOCCA happenings

We're getting a new building and you are invited!

NOCCA Classroom Addition Groundbreaking Ceremony: Friday-January 16, 2:30-2:45 PM

NOCCA invites students, faculty, staff and friends to join us at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Classroom Additions on Friday-January 16, 2:30 PM in the Greenspace. We have also invited press and our supporting boards to join in the celebration. This addition will provide a new wing to include instructional space for Media Arts, Musical Theatre and Theatre Design.

Also, NOCCA has an "Open Studio" for potential students this Saturday the 17th; details in the newsletter.

Microsoft: scared or stupid?

With a reactionary title like that, you might imagine that I have a hard-hitting article full of insights and interviews and evidence.

Microsoft has released a beta version of their next OS, imaginatively dubbed "Windows 7." I actually don't mind the name that much; I think that XP and Vista are silly names for versioned software. "What version are your running?" "Butter Hammer Pecan Movement!" Naturally, everybody and their dog wants to see about the next version of Windows; chances are that they will have to, anyway, once Redmond stops supporting their OS of choice or their hardware fails or their machine gets too old and crusty.

For quite a few years now, people have used peer-to-peer programs, applications, and networks to transfer large amounts of data semi-anonymously. Remember Napster in the Bad Old Days? Nowadays, most people use BitTorrent to transfer large files, and rightfully so; the algorithm is pretty efficient and makes great use of limited network bandwidth by spreading around the traffic burden in a sensical manner. A lot of Linux distros have used BitTorrent, since they operate on a limited budget and bandwidth costs. I know that other projects use BT to spread around large media files.

Also there's something about piracy and porn. Whatever.

So either Microsoft doesn't want to use BitTorrent (if so, my guess is NIH syndrome- look at Silverlight, their response to Flash) or they don't know about it (seems amazingly unlikely, but possible; perhaps the decision-makers don't get good info). Folks are using BT to distribute the Windows 7 beta anyway. Be nice to legitimize it, right?

I'm at a loss.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Mischamas!

It's that time of year again- Happy birthday to me!

I got a call from my brother scant moments after midnight and got sung to, I opened a few presents and cards, and I stayed up late reading comics and looking at the internets.

I woke up a tad earlier than I expected (who cares? it's MAH BOITHDAY), and now my lovely wife is about to whisk me off to a delicious birthday breakfast and some hacking about town before who-knows-what happens this evening.

Remember, no matter how old you feel, having another birthday beats the alternative.

Whatever you do today, enjoy it.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


The famous Mills Didjeridu List brought me this video. Sound is a must, as is spending the 3.5 minutes to listen.

(direct link to YouTube video for my RSS friends)

I've got to play more.