He got games

Random thoughts on games and gaming. (And if you don't understand the title, go here here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He_Got_Game)

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Why I prefer 2-player games

Judd Vance
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Wichita
Kansas
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I had an epiphany last night.

Our game group in Wichita meets twice a weekmonth: first Friday/third Saturday at the game store. I've been doing this since 2009. But since late 2009, most of my time has been in 2-player games. I play with Mistermarino most of the time.

Originally, I chalked this up to our similar gaming tastes. When I tried the BGG app that showed you which user had the most similar taste to yours based on a minimum number of games, he shows up #1, which is pretty amazing when you consider how many users there are on BGG. Also, the group plays a lot of multi-player Euros and that doesn't get either one of us excited. We prefer wargames and Ameritrash, which tend to be more 2-player games.

I figure my insistence on playing the 2-player game has probably upset a few folks, but that is their problem. I have played with others on occasion and since he has problems making the first Friday, he doesn't really go to that one and we meet on other Saturdays. Sometimes, I go to first Friday because there are a few Euros I do like.

But last night, I had the epiphany.

I went down and played Fire in the Lake. Only two other times in these 5 years have I played a multi-player wargame in the group and that was with Cuba Libre (hard to call that "wargame") and The Napoleonic Wars. The first was interesting. The second was fun. Fire in the Lake blew them both completely away, but at the end of the night, as I was driving home, I realized why I like 2-player games more.

I like the interaction.

I don't consider myself much of a socialite, because I don't like groups. But I noticed the dynamic of playing the 4-player game is different than Aaron and I playing a 2-player game. In the 4-player setting, it's about the game. In the 2-player game, it's about the person. It reminds me of the movie Searching For Bobby Fischer, where Vinnie tells Josh, "Never play the board, always the man. You've gotta play the man playing the board."

In the 4-player game, I find it's about keeping the game moving. Don't be the A.P. (Analysis Paralysis) guy. Don't give everybody else a bunch of downtime.

In the 2-player game, we play the game. We also talk about why the New England Patriots are evil; why K-State has never lost a football game, but has been screwed by circumstances or officials; why Eurogames generally suck, why the 1985 Bears are the greatest team of all-time (o.k, that's really ME talking... you figure with a name like "mistermarino" he doesn't share that point), or whatever the topic of the day may be. We spend a lot longer playing the game than the box time, but that's why I keep coming back. The interaction is great.

The other epiphany is that he's not the only one. When I go back to my home town, Rob and I hook up and play games: sometimes wargames, sometimes not. Always fun, though. And at the game night this summer, I played a different player, Rottenshot Rick, teaching him Coral Sea. You can read his comment here. We had a fun time just talking about games and other stuff while we played.

That interaction wasn't there when I played Fire in the Lake. Was it because of the need to push the game through to completion before the store closed? We finished 15 minutes before it did, but no... the epiphany was that I realized the same thing happened in Cuba Libre, Napoleonic Wars, Founding Fathers, Kingdom Builder (ack!), K2, Railways of Europe (ack!), Brass (ack!), Agricola (ugh!), Pandemic, Automobile, 10 days in the USA, and other such multi-player games I have played.

Sometimes the game can help: something like Battlestar Galactica and Pacific Typhoon can encourage fun table banter. Sometimes, it is the group: I played a fun game of Conquest of the Empire that was aided by a fun group who knew how to razz each other. But never do I see the personal interaction that I see in the 2-player game.

Even some of my Vassal games with strangers have more interaction than a 5-player game with people I know. Some of my Vassal players are funny guys who chat through their logs. Some of them do little more than send their play back and forth, but some of them, I have come to know pretty well through the e-mail correspondents that accompany the logs.

In the end, the epiphany was that I like a well designed game and appreciate its mechanics, I can do this through Vassal or even in a solitaire game, but half of the fun for me is the chatting with the player I play with, and I don't get that experience in multiple player games. The conversation focuses on the game, and I guess I like to talk about ... whatever... while I play the game.

2 player games give me that in a way that multi-player games cannot.

And it only took me 5 years to figure that out. shake

(Edit: One other important point I forgot to make is that on many occasions, Aaron and I didn't finish the game we started. We got pretty far into it. Sometimes, it was close enough to determine who would have probably won. Sometimes, we did not, but it did not matter, because the whole experience was fun.)
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Sun Sep 7, 2014 6:54 am
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Monopoly: 35 years later

Judd Vance
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The last time I remember playing Monopoly was Labor Day 1979. Back then, in the pre-cable TV days, the TV had 4 stations (NBC, CBS, ABC, and a Kansas City syndicate) so on Labor Day, you pretty much got to watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon, which was really bad TV for a kid. So the choices were pretty slim.

While bad TV played in the background on a particularly hot early September Monday, I played a multi-piece solitaire version using the rules that I had always used and were taught to me (no auctions, pay fines to the middle of the board, and collect it when you land on Free Parking). Of course, I didn't finish it -- I never did -- and never looked back from that horrible experience.

This year, my children have asked me about it. Yes, it sucks, but everybody should play -- suffer through -- it once just to say that he/she has, and also to know what these phrases mean:

Boardwalk
Park Place
Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Get out of jail free.

These phrases are part of American lexicon, after all. Go to 1:15 (actually, watch it all because it rules):



So I offered to play it with them today. My oldest jumped at the chance. My youngest declined (she's wise beyond her years). I actually have 4 copies of this abomination, and none of them quite did what I wanted:

New York Yankeesopoly - The locations are specialized. Boardwalk / Park Place are Babe Ruth & Derek Jeter, and Graig Nettles -- the greatest -- baseball player e-vah -- was nowhere to be found! A well-intentioned relative gave this to me. Off to Goodwill with you.

K-Stateopoly - This just sucks. The colors don't line up. No houses. No hotels. And instead of making the valuable locations Bill Snyder Family (football) stadium and the Durland Hall (The Engineering building -- yeah, new kids -- I know they call it something else these days. I don't care. It will always be Durland Hall to me!), the engineering building isn't there and the football stadium is one of the yellow locations? Puh-leeze. A well-intentioned relative gave this to me. Off to Goodwill with you.

Monopoly City - It uses the original locations, but No houses/hotels. New rules. I got this as a trade sweetener, so I could use the building to pimp out my copy of The Creature That Ate Sheboygan.

Monopoly: National Parks Edition - You customize your locations with stickers, so none of the original names are there. No railroads (animals, instead). No Chance/Community Chest (Trails & Trees, instead). And the 59 National Parks are not all represented. Don't get me started on how stupid that is. I'll keep this just to have that obligatory copy.

The last one was the closest to the real deal, so I pulled it out. I glanced through the rules quickly to make sure I knew how to play it correctly. Since childhood, I learned that when you land on a location and don't buy it, it goes to auction. Free parking is nothing more than a free space. You have to even out your house distribution and can't buy hotels until you have 4 houses on every location of that color.

My wife joined in for nostalgia's sake and we all played. I ended up trading a red location for a yellow to my daughter so we can complete our respective locations, but I start spending money like a drunken sailor to build houses and she plays more conservatively. My wife ended up landing on one of my red locations with 4 houses, and puts almost everything on mortgage to pay the rent. Soon after, my daughter hits a hotel and she's out. My wife concedes the game.

The good news: the game lasted about 90 minutes. My daughter saw what it was about, although she doesn't know what B&O Railroad, Baltic Avenue, etc. mean. And she saw a poor game design, in that once one person jumps out to a lead, it snowballs quickly.

Her comment was that it wasn't bad -- not as bad as I made it out to be (she expected it to be worse than Candyland and Chutes & Ladders), but that every single game she's ever played -- stuff like Forbidden Island, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, Coloretto, Tank Battle, Dogfight, King of Tokyo, and Chess are all better.

I told her that's the thing about it: most people on BGG say it's a case of every other game they own is better. She also learned what I meant when I say if you want good games, don't go to Walmart.

Granted, I have a tiny bit more respect for Monopoly than I did before. The game is better and doesn't take forever when you play it correctly. It's not as bad as games like Diplomacy, Agricola, The Terminator: CCG, Kingdom Builder, Apples to Apples, and Avalon Hill Game Company's Game of Trivia, but yeah, it still sucks all of these years later.
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Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:11 pm
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Breaking the 30 barrier!

Judd Vance
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Wichita
Kansas
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I am getting more obsessed by the day with reducing my number of unplayed games.

For the last two years, I have tracked my progress month-by-month. It's been pretty humorous because of the yo-yo effect. I have acted against my own best interest by trading so much: trading lesser-loved played games for interesting unplayed games. Some of those turn out to be "meh" games themselves, and I trade them, and the vicious cycle continues. Had I never made any trades, I would have them all played by now, but such is life.

But this year, I have become extremely focused on knocking them down. I had to weather the storm of Valentine's Day and my birthday, which always big game fests... "weather the storm" (ha... bend my arm behind my back), but so far, I've been kicking it: down from 43 in February to 33 on July 1.

Wanting to clear up some shelf space, I had a chance to trade off the remainder of my Star Trek: Role Playing Game collection, but it costs me 3 unplayed games (sigh), but they were all pretty easy: two were Euros. I got them played over the 4th and took the one wargame in that trade to game night and taught my buddy Aaron. That took me to 30. Then we agreed on a trade I had proposed, getting rid of an unplayed game I bought 3 years ago and lost interest in since then for a game he already taught.

Pulling me down to 29!!!

Cue up Kool and the Gang. (Celebrate good times...come on!)

I had grand plans of knocking off a couple more by now, but I volunteered to playtest a couple of games, so I continue to be my own worst enemy. But it's gonna happen, I tell ya. I have refused to offer trades because of setting this backwards, and yeah, my two remaining pre-orders (Fire in the Lake and New York 1776) will be in my hands before the end of this month, but I'm keeping it in the 20s on July 31.
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Tue Jul 8, 2014 6:50 am
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Anatomy of a Vassal map

Judd Vance
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Wichita
Kansas
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I have been working on my 19th Vassal module: Napoleon's War: The 100 Days. I decided to incorporate all expansions into the one module, so I have been working with 16 Maps.

To show the work that goes into a map -- or at least my finicky nature concerning the maps, here is a little demonstration.

While this game does not have a Vassal module, the 2nd game in the series, Napoleon's War II: The Gates of Moscow, does. Here is the Marengo map from that module:



It was scanned in and pieced together through Vassal. You can see the slight disconnects and the problems with making sure it is perfectly squared up on the scanner. It is certainly a functional map.

I took my map and scanned it on a 11" x 17" scanner, which makes life a lot easier. I brought it into Paint Shop Pro 7 (yeah, go ahead and laugh -- I've been using since 1998). I was able to square it up on the scanner pretty good and then rotate the 4 pieces ever so slightly (about 1 degree) to make sure the vertical hex sides were perfectly vertical. When I pieced it together, it looked like this:



The vertical seam on the left side 1/3rd of the map is the crease in the map itself. I took the map and using a clone brush and copying and pasting areas next to the seam, I was able to remove the white seams. I could not affect the color variation from the upper half to the lower half. I placed college text books on top of the map while scanning to make sure it stayed in tight contact with the scanner face, so I cannot explain that.

Finally, I changed the contrast from about 25% - 40% to make the map look better. Here is the end result.



That's one map. 15 more to go. So far, I have 12 of them done.

It takes about 3 minutes to scan the map. It takes about 20 minutes to take the 4 pieces and put them together, and about another 30-45 to remove the seams and touch up the contrast.
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Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:48 pm
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Continuing the discussion

Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Recently, a user started a discussion about the recent(?) policy about Kickstarter campaigns on the wargame forum.

Here is the thread:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1177119/no-ks-in-new-ann...

Although the discussion was not violating BGGs policies, Octavian took it upon himself to lock the thread. The Community Rules say threads will be locked if the thread "degenerate into flame wars." Read the thread for yourself and see what you think. Flame war? Hardly. It looks to me like discussion will not be tolerated.

I thought the poster made a few valid points, though I didn't agree with them all, but I thought the discussion was valid. Roger said it's Aldie's site and Aldie's rules. Fair enough. But let's examine those "rules."

In the Community Rules it says:

Quote:
Promoting goods or services in which you have a personal stake is not permitted

This includes any crowdfunding campaigns (e.g. kickstarter, indigogo), whether or not you created the campaign yourself.


And yet if you go to this part of BGG's rules for promoting games:

http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Guide_to_Promoting_Your_G...#

It says:

Quote:
Things to avoid
Excessive promotion. Posting in the Forums about your game is fine, but don't go overboard. If you want regular constant appearance on the site, consider buying Advertising.


So I guess it's ok to use moderate promotion -- until it isn't ok. You benevolent overseers will tell you when it is and isn't fine.

When he locked the thread, Octavian said,

Quote:
Promoting something that someone has a personal vested interest in is not permitted.

Kickstarter campaigns fall under that category for all people involved in the production of the game AS WELL AS its backers, who have a vested interest in seeing them funded and reaching stretch goals.

THAT is why the line is drawn where it is, and that is why kickstarter falls on the wrong side of it.

If you want to complain about that, do so in the Complaints Dept forum.

Thread Locked



That's interesting that he is all-knowing in this. See, 5 days before the 1776 Campaign ended, I tried posting a message informing folks that it was coming to an end. It had passed and met 3 stretch goals. My purpose was so folks could jump on the end and take advantage of all the goals that had been met, but specifically in the post, I said that the next goal was pretty well out of reach, so my purpose in posting was because I wanted more potential Vassal opponents. But Octavian knows more about my intentions than I do.

So go back and read those two rules again and explain to me why it was removed within 2 hours?

Thing that make ya go "Hmmmm" ninja

That's the biggest reason to continue this discussion. I think Octavian was in the wrong to lock the thread for reasons that did not fall in the BGG Guidelines. I think it's wrong to remove posts that follow the BGG rules. But discussion on the forum is apparently not tolerated, so how about on a blog?

On a side note, I appreciate a KS announcement. I don't visit KS's website. Rarely will they have a wargame and when they do, there is about a 95% chance that I have no interest in it. But last year, if not for somebody mentioning it on the wargame forum, I would never have learned about the Lincoln's War Kickstarter. Sure MMP advertised it, but I pay money to NOT see advertisements on this site -- a problem I will not have next year, which will allow me to view those advertised KS promotions that are banned on the forums!

Thoughts?
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Sun May 25, 2014 11:20 pm
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WGG (Wargame Geek): this is me

Judd Vance
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Wichita
Kansas
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My wife and I have been going through Ken Burns Civil War documentary series. Many times during the movie, I've had to pause it, while I ran over to the shelf to grab a war game on the topic to show her. Examples:

Cedar Creek & Antietam: Glory III
Early's drive on Washington: Drive on Washington: The Battle of Monocacy Junction, July 9, 1864
Mosby (the man): Mosby's Raiders
The Wilderness Campaign: Lee vs. Grant
Cold Harbor: Not War But Murder
The peninsula campaign: Birth of a Legend & Forged in Fire: The 1862 Peninsula Campaign
Gettysburg:
Gettysburg
Gettysburg 150
Gettysburg (125th Anniversary edition)
The Great Invasion: The Gettysburg Campaign June 24 – July 3, 1863

(I didn't stop to set up every one of the scenarios in Battle Cry: 150th Civil War Anniversary Edition).

NERDS!!!!

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Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:58 pm
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I've been a busy boy

Judd Vance
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I have been on a Vassal design kick this last month. I had no idea how much until I went to the Vassal website and created the news releases for the games that I created. Check it out -- all October 23 listings are mine:



7 modules: 5 new and 2 re-designs in 25 days. Whew. I think I can kick out #8 before I reach 30 days. Gettysburg 150 is coming along nicely.
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Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:05 pm
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My avatar prank calls Leroy's

Judd Vance
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I stumbled on to this, and I found this gut-splitting hilarious in a dorky way, so I had to share.

The store is called Leroy's and Sho Nuff calls it up. Stick with it after the first few same calls, because it gets funnier and funnier as it goes.


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Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:27 pm
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Net trading

Judd Vance
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Wichita
Kansas
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I am a pretty big horse trader when it comes to games. Once the bug bites you and figure out that you can trade unloved games that take up shelf space for games that you think you will like, it is easy to pull the trigger.

I figure I can go buy a game for $40 (+11 shipping) or for $11 (shipping), I can basically get a new game and give up one I don't care about. I won't trade a $80 game for a $5 game, but I don't dial it down to the dollar, because I figure it's worth what it's worth to you, and if I'm not liking it, it's really not worth much.

I created an entire Geeklist displaying my history of trading.

I noticed some games I traded for, played them, and then traded them for something else. So I got to thinking about the net trade: what I gave up and what I ended up getting. I put the results on the bottom of the Geeklist, but here they are, displayed graphically:

The net result of my trades since 2010 (after I discovered BGG):

TRADED:

(Empire of the Sun Mounted Map)

Lost Worlds


Federation Commander:


Pocket Games:


Panzer Grenadier:


Star Trek (Fasa) The Role Playing Game:



RECEIVED:


10 Rated:




9 Rated:




8 Rated:




7 Rated:




6 Rated:




Unplayed:





Games that I traded for and then traded away:





Games that I traded away and then traded back for:







Notes:
- I also made $45 on top of the games I traded for.
- Monopoly City was an add-on to a trade. I have no plans of playing it, but wanted the cities to pimp out my copy of The Creature That Ate Sheboygan
- Strat-O-Matic Basketball was already a 10 before I bought it. I got the game for the cards in it (1971-72 season), only to learn that they were not compatible with my cards (post 1981), so it was actually a dud trade.
- Yes, I did acquire two copies of Panzer Grenadier Semper Fi in BGG Con Math Trades and traded both away.
- I traded 4 Babylon 5 Collectable Card Game Starter boxes.
- I had 2 copies of Title Bout, Nuclear War, and Hot Spot, so trading them was no big deal.
- I traded Guns of August because it had no Vassal module. Then I learned how to make them and got my exact copy back.

Highest rated game that I traded: Give Me Liberty and Federation Commander: Klingon Border were both 8s. But neither had Vassal modules, so I couldn't get them played.

Overall, from my perspective, I strengthened my collection, but I had played all but 8 of my traded games. Whereas I had only played 4 of the games I traded 4 before I played them. That has killed my goal of getting through my unplayed games, but hey, if my ratings are this high and only 4 of them were played games, my gut was right a lot more often than not!
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Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:10 am
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My first VASSAL module!!!

Judd Vance
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VASSAL changed the way I game and for that, I will forever be indebted to Jon (Capt_S) for teaching me this wonderful system.

Before, the most important aspect of a game was simplicity and solitaire-suitability because I would probably mess up rules and butcher a game beyond recognition if it were too difficult, and it's just too hard to get in a wargame face-to-face, especially if it exceeds 2 hrs.

Thanks to VASSAL, those problems have vanished, and now my biggest question is: does it have a module?

For a couple of years, I have struggled with the game Caesar's Gallic War. I tend to like games put out by Worthington. The theme is interesting enough, even though I know little about it. That is because Barteus loves the topic of ancient Rome and has not only taught me all I know about it, but has shared many games on the topic (ex: Julius Caesar, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, and Caesar XL).

The reviews I saw made this one sound like a winner: Hammer of the Scots applied to ancient Rome? Oh yeah, I'm there. The only problem was the lack of the VASSAL module. And for too many times I have held it in my hands or had it in my online shopping cart, only to put it back, knowing that the game would take too long for the time Barteus and I have to play when I am in town.

But then Worthington put it on the Black Friday sale for $15. Hey, for $15, I'll take a chance! Even if I can't do much with it, I'm not risking much. My only worry was that it would sell out, so I sat there on Thanksgiving night up to midnight, ready to order.

Well, I got it. I read the rules. I liked it. I played a little solitaire and liked it. I played a half game with Barteus (time constraint) and loved it. Then I got in a full face-to-face game with Mistermarino and LOVED it.

I knew then that this game MUST be on VASSAL, because the world must enjoy this awesome game, and I need opponents! And if need be, then I will learn VASSAL. So I did what I had been advised: took a similar module (in this case, Julius Caesar) and started modifying it. I contacted the designer who was very helpful with scans and giving valuable feedback. With a scanner, Paint Shop Pro 7 (a 15 year old graphics program: yeah, I'm a dinosaur), and 3 days of time, I had it: my first VASSAL module!

Heck, it took me longer to figure out how to upload it to vassalengine.org than it did to create the module

Now I have a new "most important" criteria when I pick up a game: is it fun? Because now I can make my own modules (assuming the company isn't anti-VASSAL).

By the way, if you want to go see my bouncing ball of joy, the link is here.
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Tue Feb 5, 2013 5:07 am
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