GCL Phoenix 138: Mmmm, pie! (chart) 2013-08-25
We always have time for the things we put first.
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Lowengrin - next week
We always have time for the things we put first.
I've always loved specialty log books and journals - I have a book to keep track of the books I've read, for example. I was browsing Amazon the other day, and I saw a similar kind of book, but one that they called "A Reading Tree". This intrigued me. Of course books lead you to reading other books, either because of their topic, or author, or style. Games do, too, and I made a Gaming Tree.
It took me several tries over a couple of days to get what was on the screen to come close to what was in my head. I knew that I wanted to group the games in categories*, and I wanted to show both time and influence. I started with an outline, filling in games as I scrolled through my logged plays, and adding the date I first played them.
I should note that the games I chose were because I considered them "significant" in my gaming development, or a stop along the path looking for the right fit in one of my major areas of interest. My original outline includes several categories of games that I did not keep for the final product, because they were isolated units that didn't really connect to the whole. Cooperative games may not have made the cut, except our recent acquisition, Robinson Crusoe, neatly lays across three categories, demonstrating its strong fit.
After I finished my outline, I made a spreadsheet in Excel, where each line was a month (Jan 2009, Feb 2009, etc). The columns were categories (Worker Placement, Bidding). This gave each game a spot on the grid, an X-Y axis of sorts. I liked that it very clearly showed time, and it even showed how we focused on certain types of games at certain times, because they appeared in clusters. However, it was just too big, and it was difficult to show connections and influences. An interesting exercise, but it didn't achieve my main goal.
Looking for a way to show relationships and influence, I tried an org chart in Word. This gave me neat branches, but was not flexible enough for me and all of the connections I wanted.
Back to Excel. I started out making side-by-side columns like my original spreadsheet, but consolidated the lists by removing the months. Each list of games was in order chronologically, but the specific month played was shed for visual clarity.
Now that I had groups of games, I could move them around with copy/paste and start drawing connections. I used solid lines to show where one game appears in multiple sections. I used dotted lines to show where one game directly influenced the play of another. San Juan and RftG were so close that it was easier to have them together.
Civ/civ-lite doesn't physically connect to the other boxes, but I positioned it to show that it's been a somewhat central theme for me, and many games circle around it, even if they don't fit exactly.
*The categories may not be accurate for the games as I know them now, but may instead reflect what I was searching for at the time I tried the game, or a particular implementation of a mechanic that I like. "First Train" is probably not the first bidding game that comes to one's mind, but is significant because it works with two, and its way of bidding is probably my favorite of the list.
Expressed in words or graphically, do you have a gaming tree? Are there certain categories that you have searched for over time and/or are searching for now? Do certain games fit across several categories? Did certain games spur you to explore a new category, or a new branch of games?
We always have time for the things we put first.
Once I had my chronological lists, I wanted to see if I could demonstrate the search and discovery over time. I wanted to see if I could show a "No, no, no... Yes!" progression. I made a copy of my chart, and grayed out games that I no longer owned. However, the results were too scattered, especially since I have included games I never owned.
I decided to move on and look at number of plays, and how much we play our favorite games. I used the Top 20 list I generated a few lists back, shaving it down to 18 games, or my top 10%. While all of the games have been played at least 5 times, raw plays were not sufficient to be included on the list. These are instead, "if I could only keep 18 games, what would they be?"
I discovered some interesting things. Those favorite games, 10% of our collection, account for about a third of our plays.
I then looked at the breakdown of plays among those Top 10% games. The shortest games have most of the largest wedges, but even the 2-hour games have visible slices.
Do you feel your favorite games get a satisfying portion of your plays? Would you like them to have more? What type(s) of games would you like them to replace?
We always have time for the things we put first.
Today is Sam's 40th birthday! He is celebrating with a day of D&D. Yesterday we went to dinner with one of his D&D friends, and the friend's wife, who both went to Ithaca College, interestingly enough. We played Wits & Wagers Party x2, Bananagrams x2, and Piece o' Cake. I wrote a review for W&W Party:
A party with people I've never met - I need a game I can count on
Still holding strong on a game a day:
Il Vecchio x2
Roll Through the Ages x4
Roll Through the Ages x6
Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age x4
Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age
Wits & Wagers Party x2
Piece o' Cake
.10! Dominant Species
_9_ Terra Mystica
Not a lot to say this week, but at least I get to make an entry. I don't have much time to play games right now, so I tried to make sure that I only played games that really resonate with me. Dominant Species was fun to play again, but it was a teaching game and ran very long (about 3'30" after the explanation). As is common in teaching games, I made things too easy for my opponents and came in dead last. Terra Mystica went a little more smoothly, in large part because it is more self-contained. It is one of those games where it is pretty hard for things to go terribly awry (which is probably the difference between TM's "9" and DS's "10"). I won as the Darklings in a tight finish (138-136-128).
The Week Ahead:
Expect mostly radio silence from me this week as I try to wrap up my manuscript. I am meeting friends on Friday night, which usually results in Wits & Wagers or something equally benign. Beyond that, the plan is writing and editing and exactly one football game between now and September 3.
Ascension x 1
3-player game with one new player. My wife won 80-78-78.
Kaivai x 1
I was very impressed with my first proper play of this twisty little bastard game. I finished 2nd in a 38-36-31 game. It was full of missteps as it's a bit of a brain burner and we were all new to it.
Kaivai is a Bryan game.
Terra Mystica x 1
I won in my first play with the Mermaids I won by about 20 points; I focused on priests & cults more than usual. This one continues to be a favorite.
The Resistance x 2
Lies and alibis. Lies and alibis.
I start school tomorrow, attending on mornings Monday thru Thursday. Avery has an open house at her new school Wednesday night, so game night will be either shortened or non-existent for me. In other words, looks like a light week for me. I may try to get a solo play of Robinson Crusoe in just so I can figure it out before inflicting it on others.
Oh, and I'm attempting a healthier diet. I was directed to watch a documentary called Forks Over Knives and it was eye-opening. I'm trying to migrate toward a more plant-based diet, but I realize that it'll be a process. I eat like a college freshman, so there's room for improvement. I bought stuff at the local farmer's market and have been eating peas, corn, strawberries and walnuts.
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Games Played Week 34:
It has been a quiet week on the gaming front. At work I have been busy handing over my workload, except for everything related to debtors which I will continue to work with part-time. This is excellent as it gives us an additional income and something outside school.
I am getting butterflies now...
On to the games played...
Monday with V.:
1x _8.0_ Viticulture
I relish the challenge this game poses and it makes for a very enjoyable 60 minutes. Just read the other day of rule changes or variants for the 2nd edition which will likely make it less restricted. We might try those for our next game.
Saturday with V.:
1x The Agents
I mentioned it in last weeks list and I still keep thinking about the game which should be a good thing. That said, I am keeping my credit card in my pocket.
1x _7.5_ Ground Floor
This was a different game than our last, there was more competition for popularity and the market. I raced ahead when I placed and sold 3 goods in 1 year while V. was busy elsewhere. That gave me the money to quickly build up thanks to my first floor Construction Admin.
I am enjoying the game and thinking it might go up in ratings.
Sunday with V.:
1x _8.0_ Puerto Rico w/ Expansion
Early afternoon and I hammered V. then upped the rating from _7.8_. It had been a while but I enjoy the game and the variety it brings depending on buildings and where you start. I got into plantations and used the Factory to maximum effect.
Sunday with V. and the kids:
1x _7.0_ Ticket to Ride: Europe
V. suggested this and both kids wanted to play. E. misheard and thought she had to keep all route cards so she had a hard time. I ran off with the win ahead of V. and then M. who was just pleased to finish ahead of his sister.
It was nice to get to the table with the kids and much better with more players.
The Week Ahead:
It seems to be a theme this week. University Freshman Week is on tomorrow. Getting to know my new class-mates and University is making my stomach churn but also super excited.
I can't wait.
PS: Note the newly rated games...
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
.10! Dominion 3
_8_ Krosmaster: Arena 2 New!
_7_ Android: Netrunner 1
Week in Review
My Kickstarted copy of Krosmaster: Arena arrived late last week and this week I was able to squeeze in my first couple of plays. It's quite fun and the four people I have taught so far all enjoyed it. The Kickstarter components are amazing; a huge upgrade to the game out of the box. The picture above is one I shot from my actual first game.
Dominion was the first time I have broken out every single expansion. I had fallen behind on sleeving the last couple until recently, but now the whole set took off for its maiden voyage. Dominion really is amazing in this giant format, as each game feels very different. The sheer amount of variety is almost intoxicating. As it happens, we didn't see too much of Dark Ages and no Guilds at all. Even still, no game felt like any other.
I will be really happy when Rio Grande starts releasing more information on storage solutions for the complete game as that inconvenience is the only thing keeping me from playing it more often.
Today, I read a little bit more about Sails of Glory and am now completely sad that I didn't notice this Kickstarter earlier in the year. It has the usual array of nice upgrades, including promotional ships, range rulers and wind gauges, and a playmat that looks like an ocean.
After even the small amount of Patrick O'Brien I have read, I really want to get this game. One of my oldest friends and most frequent gaming buddies has a similar interest in the era, being the one who turned me on to O'Brien in the first place (he's read them all years ago). Argh, the Kickstarter exclusives!!!
Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 24Aug2013:
4/12/269 plays of 3/10/139 total games, with 0/0/26 expansions employed.
Plays with 6/12/76 distinct opponents.
3/4/21 games acquired (plus 1/1/7 expansions.) - the Winsome Essen Set arrived.
0/3/13 games ordered (plus 0/1/5 expansions.)
Orders for 6 games and 2 expansions still outstanding.
With son #2:
1x _7.3_ Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries - It was cool; but I'm reminded that I prefer Switzerland in the domain of 2p Ticket to Ride games. This one's locomotive rules are a bit funky (well, at least with regard to ferries; other than the Murmansk route, the rest is pretty standard.) And the map is decidedly unforgiving: son #2 and I didn't block one another (I'm just badly enough behaved that if I thought he was ahead of me, I might have tried; but he's not used to playing TTR destructively.) So: amusing, but not liable to be repeated soon.
And adding daughter #1:
2x _7.3_ Northern Pacific New! - The youngsters thought this was cool. They found the whole prediction/doublethink thing entertaining. I'm not remotely convinced that any of us played it well; but it's likely we'll give it another try.
With the back-on-Fridays lunchtime gang:
2x _7.3_ Northern Pacific - Definitely a different experience with 5. Probably more interesting (or, to be more precise, having the potential for more long-term interest) than with 3. Again, I'm not convinced I played well: but I could definitely differentiate better and worse play among my colleagues - which gave me some hope that I might eventually learn to play better.
1x _7.3_ Erie Railroad New! - Again, I didn't play this well at all. I particularly didn't do well at predicting what my colleagues would do - which, in this case, helps motivate the other inadequacy. Again, I've hope that I'd do better in a subsequent play. In this case, it's quite possible that my rating might go up with those additional plays, too!
Owned-and-unplayed: 13 (+2/-2)
Outlook for the week: Hopefully the Wednesday Night guys are back on this week; and likely I'll have a few more games with son #2. Other than that? BAP will be on Saturday, but I'm not (necessarily) expecting anyone else there because there are a couple game conventions in the local area.
Board Game: Trajan
[Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:73]
_7_ Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer x2
_7_ The Palaces of Carrara x1
_6_ Trajan x1 Out of the Dust
_7_ Ascension: Return of the Fallen x2
The Week in Review
At the beginning of the week, I assumed S and I would get in at least one game of Merkator. Nope. Not sure what happened there. But I'm also not sure what happened Saturday night when S requested we follow up our game of The Palaces of Carrara with Ascension. It's a rare night that she wants to play a second game once her obligation to play one has been satisfied.
Tonight's game of Trajan was a dud. It's been sitting on my shelf taunting me for a year and tonight I took it down. Even setting it up, I thought, it was going to be a bad idea. So many bits and so little theme.
I dislike dinner buffets and Trajan is no different. I did think that given the year break from the game, the mancala mechanic would be fresh and interesting again, but it wasn't. I'd much rather play The Palaces of Carrara with it's shared market wheel than Feld's pasted on game of Rome under Trajan.
The Palaces of Carrara is a fairly linear game: buy stone to buy buildings to score. It's focused (especially without the advanced rules). Trajan is a mess. You can pursue shipping or the military or building or the Senate, but you can't really specialize in just one; you have to spread out pretty much into everything - just some a little more than others. It's unfocused and ultimately fails to draw me in.
Bruges is due out a the end of the month. I'm curious enough about it that I may give Feld one more go. But I think we are done with Trajan. And Bora Bora.
The Week Ahead
Last night, I ordered Trains and the third expansion of the second Lord of the Rings cycle: The Watcher in the Water. I have pretty much decided that I'm going to complete the cycle, but that will probably be it for that LCG unless some yet to be announced cycle catches my interest. That said, it remains my cooperative game of choice. Sentinels of the Multiverse, which I thought might replace it, doesn't have as interesting decision making. It just has a lot of overhead as villan cards to -1 to some things and hero cards do +1 to other things and environment cards to -1 to some other things.... If I was playing with children, it would be a great game to learn arithmetic, but I don't find it very fun as an adult.
I considered a number of other games to add to this order including Feld's Rialto. But after tonight's game of Trajan I'm glad I thought the better of it.
I also considered Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890, but the price and some criticism I heard about it being too open as a two-player game, made me decide against it. Another game I nearly added to the order was another canal building game called Arriala: Canal de Garonne. It seems to have gone unnoticed by much of BGG, but from what I read, it sounds like a quick, but mean little game of area control. (Bryan, you still reading?)
In the end, I settled on Archipelago. After watching three reviews (including the amusing Shut Up/Sit Down one) and giving a lot of thought to Ben's comments on the game, I added it to the order.
Generally I steer clear of negotiation games. The Republic of Rome and God's Playground have been the exceptions and the latter has clicked even with S. I think these sorts of games work for me because they are thematically strong and the same (I think) could be said of Archipelago. So I'm taking a chance on this one, but it's certainly less of a chance than the last game I bought (Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648) which I'm pretty sure will be on my shelf for years before it ever gets played.
_8_ Goa x1
Second play of this. This time with my wife joining the boys and I. My youngest son and I ended up tied in the end with 43 points, but he won by actually holding on to some money while I was broke. Meanwhile, my oldest son scored 30 and my wife 28. She thought this was ok and I suspect she would play again but not sure she would request it.
_7_ Forbidden Island x1
My daughter celebrated her 8th birthday this weekend and she had friends only for a party. I got this played with two kids and a parent, which was the first time for them all to play. We won a close game and they all enjoyed it.
_5_ Giro Galoppo x2
Two quick games with my daughter and friends. She won at least one of the two games while one of her friends won the other.
Tabled: 5 unplayed.
Removed: 30 removed.
Acquired: 31 acquired.
Cultish: 11 worthy / 12 played.
Kudos: 03 achieved / 16 progress.
2013 TRACK - Tabled, Removed, Acquired, Cultish and Kudos
Board Game: 18MEX
[Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:2938]
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
Just imagine the red offboard up here. I'll create it Real Soon Now...
Yes, I know a proper 18XX tile should have a tile number.
I'm starting to recover a bit from the stress; I've been doing a fair bit of gaming, including three (3!!!) games in 18MEX in the past week.
For those whose eyes glaze over when they see me mention a game that starts with an 18, I'll just say that it's a moderately simple game (for an 18xx) which we've used extnsively as a second-stage teaching game.
Monday night at Y!:
18MEX with JC and Erich. A fairly predictable game. I dumped the UdeY into the NdeM when I should have kept it.
Tuesday night at SVB:
Robinson Crusoe with Scott-with-the-hat and Chris G. Scott had played through a few solo scenarios and Chris and I were new to the game. A lesson in how NOT to play the game -- we dawdled getting our shelter build, and paid a heavy price for that for the rest of the game; by turn 7 we were desperately scrambling to pay the price for low morale and avoid fatalities.
(No, not the game I would have chosen to play, but I was late getting to SVB and decided to wait and see what I could get into rather than just going home. Reminiscent of the bad old days when I knew that if I was going to be 10 minutes late I shouldn't bother coming at all.)
Thursday night at Dukefish:
Power Grid Benelux with Dave D., Albert, and new opponent Wei (sp?). Albert pushed me into paying $46 for the No. 26 plant, he's very good at egging me on into overpaying at auctions, but I had the last laugh as the power plant market was nerfed for 2 turns after that. We ended up all 4 of us powering 17 cites, but I had more leftover cash than the other 3 put together.
Terra Mystica with me (Halflings), Jeremy (Witches), Don (Nomads), Hugh (Mermaids). I got boxed in early (we all started in 2 clumps) and scrambled to get 2 cities. Still, if I'd had one more coin I'd have had largest blob bonus at the end -- instead there was a 3-way tie.
Saturday at my place:
18MEX with me, John, Eve, and Shelby. John started the FCP in SR1 and sold it down in SR3 to start the Chihuahua. He ended up nearly going bankrupt buying 2 permanent trains after declining opportunities to either dump the FCP on Eve or toss the Chihuahua into the NdeM. Perhaps the most notable thing about this game was that Shelby won (his first win; Udey minot plus floating the UdeY in SR1, an unusual winning combo) and Eve came in second (her best finish yet.) I stole the Chihuahua from John when he sold down to prepare for near-bankruptcy, but then dumped it back when he tried to steal the Gray Mexican I'd reserved the presidency of. (It would have been quite viable with the 6T not coming out, but I needed control of the gray to make the plan work.)
Sunday at my place:
18MEX with me, John, Eve, and Shelby. Yes, again. A very odd game as there were 4 passes before the NdeM private was bought, so the minors got a bit of a head start, and the NdeM later floated with extra cash. Both John and I doubled up trains (him with 2 companies and me with 3) and it cost me too much after buying two other 4D's out of pocket; he won by under $200 in spite of my share advantage.