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Subject: Geek of the Week #654 Mike Fogus - fogus rss

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Allen OConnor
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I've had a lot of fun answering your questions over the last week, but now it's time for me to pass you over to our next Geek of the Week, Mike Fogus.

So it goes.
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The blogs are my favourite part of this wonderful website, and the Un Chien Andalou is one of the best. There aren't many people who write so passionately and informatively about abstract games, I've learned a lot from reading his blog, and have purchased games after seeing them appear on his blog. I would urge everyone reading this to follow the link to Mike's blog and add it to your subscription list.

Anyway, over to Fogus:

Quote:
Thank you Allen for this opportunity to bleed ramblings from my finger-tips for a week. Obviously, the first question that most people will ask when encountering this thread is "Who?!"



I grew up with my grandparents who played alternating weekly games of Poker and Bridge and I loved to sit off the to side and watch the games unfold. Like most kids of my generation, I played my share of Monopoly, Hearts, Risk*, Gin, Stratego, Strat-o-Matic, Rummy, and Uno.



Also, I occassionally played a friend's father's (shhhh, he doesn't know) Avalon Hill games including Civilization, Titan, and Dune, but eventually move to the computer to play such grand-sweeping games. After that, I became obsessed with Chess during college, and dabbled in Go during grad school. Despite all of this, I never identified as a table-top gamer -- rather I spent most of my gaming energy on role-playing games** of all sorts, that is, until I lost a decade of gaming time to focusing on music and computing as my main hobbies.



A couple of years ago I bought Fluxx on a whim. I have no memory why but it resuscitated a long dormant love for tabletop games. Since then I've picked up Shogi and Go (again) and am deep into exploring the rich panoply of "heavy games" including, but not limited to: 18XX, abstracts, story-telling, high-interaction economic, card, and non-mainstream board games.



On the geek I write an occassional blog named Un Chien Andalou and present a yearly, totally-ad-hoc "top games" award called "The Lead Geek Awards."

IRL I am a programmer living just outside of DC focusing on languages, distributed systems, and databases and a(n) (co)author of two programming books, a long-running programming-related blog, and a programming zine. In my free time (aside from games) I'm a voracious reader and love to swim and play baseball.

* For one summer as a kid a neighborhood friend and I would play Risk every day. One time, in the thrall of a long winning streak, I broke for the evening to resume the following day. When we met up in the morning I noticed that something was wrong with the board and indeed it seemed that my "friend" had modified the game state to my disadvantage! We got into a big fight and never played Risk, or anything at all ever again.

** My favorite RPGs "back in the day" were of course D&D (1st/Basic/2nd ed), Over the Edge, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller, and the Fighting Fantasy books.


Poll
Two truths, one lie...
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
- I took a brief side-track from playing RPGs in college to try out Magic: The Gathering but threw out my whole Alpha/Beta collection during a fit of minimalism.
35.2% 32
- I played baseball for over 11 years and only hit 2 homeruns, both hit in my final high school game.
37.4% 34
- I was an extra in the John Waters film "Serial Mom."
27.5% 25
Voters 91
This poll is now closed.   91 answers
Poll created by van00uber
Closes: Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:00 am
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Allen OConnor
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Congratulations Fogus! I'll start the ball rolling with some questions:

d10-1 What game should I add to my collection right now?

d10-2 Which abstract game would you like to see a super deluxe version of?

d10-3 Do music and boardgames go together? If so what do you like to listen to when playing board games?

d10-4 Which board game designer doesn't get enough praise for their hard work?

d10-5 Other than two player games, what is the best player count for abstract games?

d10-6 What is your favourite Looney Pyramids game?

d10-7 Favourite Reiner Knizia game?

d10-8 What is the biggest player count that you've had for an abstract game?

d10-9 I like to read Sci Fi, do you have any recommendations?

d10-1d10-0 Favourite movie of all time?

Have a great week!
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Doug Hook
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Congratulations Mike!
Hope you have a wizard of a week!

My usual question: Have you a favorite wizardly type? If so, who? If not, why? And which game/book/show (if any) is he/she from?
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Martin G
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Fabulous choice! Congratulations Mike.

Two questions: if we were meeting up to play games, what would you bring to teach me? And what would you request to try from my collection?
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Nicola Gambetti
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Congratulations, Mike, enjoy your week!
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Matthew Miller
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Congratulations Mike! Enjoy your week!

Here are my usual questions, beginning with the gaming question.

d10-1 Have you ever played any of the following games: Memoir '44, Shadows over Camelot, BANG!, High Noon Saloon, Sequence?

Now for some non-gaming questions.

Favorite?
d10-2 Kind of pie?
d10-3 Vegetable?
d10-4 Kind of Cookie?
d10-5 Flavor of Ice Cream?


d10-6Goats or Cows?
d10-7 Chickens or Ducks?
d10-8 Broccoli or Cauliflower?
d10-9 Apples or Oranges?
d10-1d10-0 Bears or Lions?
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Matt Clark
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What a great choice, congrats!

If you were to spend a year playing/studying one non-abstract game, what would it be?
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Congratulations Mike!

What is the most obscure, but great, abstract you have played?
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Russ Williams
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Cool, enjoy your week, Mike!

I just did my turn in our ongoing Shogi game at littlegolem, where again you're beating me. Now I can blame your superior skills on your college Chess obsession!

Cool that you played Titan way back in the old days; I loved it too.

I know you're dabbling a bit in wargames lately; what are some wargames you're interested in or actually playing lately?

As a programmer, have you programmed any game software?

What kind of music is your music hobby? Do you play some instrument(s), compose, collect, listen, what?
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Ken Dilloo
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Congrats Mike!

What was the biggest screw-you moment you have had, in a game? Giving, receiving, self-inflicted, or some combination therein.

Is there a game that you love, but are terrible at?

If you could say one thing, in this world, that is true, what would it be?

If you had to live in either perpetual darkness, perpetual light, or perpetual gloom; which would you choose?

What is the most money you have frittered away, in the shortest amount of time?

If you had to participate in an eating competition, what would be your food of choice?

What would be your UFC/WWE fighter name?

How do you define “art”?

What was the best shower/bath you have ever had?

If money and access were no object, what would be the object on earth you would buy? Collectable or not.

Is there something you cannot resist buying, if you see it (of course board games, silly, what else?)?

What is a song that you can listen to over and over?

If you could only listen to one genre of music, forever, what genre would you choose?

Who is your favorite villain?

Is it weird to answer so many questions from on stranger on the internet?
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Dave Peters
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Congratulations, Mike! A well-deserved honour. (Many thanks, too, for your blog.)
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Wayne Applewhite
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Congratulations my friend!

I will check in from time to time this week with a question or three. The first question out of the shoot from me:

What board game would you like to play that has not been created yet?
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Kurt FromVirginia
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Well, well, well. Congratulations Mike!

A few years ago, I got a trade request from Mike. It was completely lopsided in his favor, but I went ahead anyway once I realized the fellow lived about 15 minutes away. We connected in person for the trade, and I let him know of the casual, three player group we have in our neighborhood that gets together regularly for Euro fare. He was interested in joining – and he’s been the Green Player of our foursome ever since.

For those that get a chance to meet Mike, you’ll find him as genuine as his online persona. Mike puts up with quite a bit from our group – he’s more apt to take the high road while the rest of us call each other names but absolutely is one of the guys. Win or lose, he’s always happy to play what we offer and embodies “friendly competition”.

Mike is far more eloquent than I will ever be, so I’ll leave things as a simple Cheers to Mike and ask my one question:

F/M/K – Yellow, Red or Blue?
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Ty

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Congratulations Mike!

Do you log your plays?
Why or why not?
What is your favorite game?
What do you love about it?
What do you not love about it?
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James C
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Mike buys games from me so I approve this wholeheartedly!

Better holiday: 4th of July or Halloween?

Worse holiday: Valentines or New Years Eve?
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Midnight Reaper
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Congratulations on making Geek of the Week!

I have a few questions for you......
1 What is your opinion of war gaming?
2 Do you have a favorite war game; if so, what is it?
3 What are your opinions or memories of playing Risk?
4 What are your opinions or memories of playing Axis & Allies?
5 What game would you tell all gamers about that just has no publicity and that nobody knows about?
6 What game reminds you most of the intersection of computer programming and games?

I thank you for your time. thumbsup cool

-M_R
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Paul Schorfheide
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Congrats, Mike! You're partly to blame for sucking me into modern board gaming:

I came to your twitter for Clojure, but stayed for the 18xx

You've talked about lifestyle games on your blog before, what's the one game you'd pick to invest time in if you retired/didn't need to sleep/etc that you're not currently?
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Quote:
d10-1 What game should I add to my collection right now?


Knowing what I know about you and your likes and desires I'll pick Esagek. It's effectively a game system comprised of a sub-divided hexhex with inner swiveling hexes. Included are the rules for a nice set of games. It's pretty hard to find in the States, but you might have better luck across the big pond.

Quote:
d10-2 Which abstract game would you like to see a super deluxe version of?


I'll go with Sackson's Wu Hsing. While it can be played with a truncated set of double-six dominoes, I'd love to see a Franjos-like patterning engraved on a set of clicking-clacking Lexio-esque obsidian colored tiles.

Quote:
d10-3 Do music and boardgames go together? If so what do you like to listen to when playing board games?


I can take it or leave it. My game group often has music playing in the background, but I tend to shut it out. When in the spell of a game, all music tends to become Furniture Music.

Quote:
d10-4 Which board game designer doesn't get enough praise for their hard work?


Reinhold Witting is little known these days (in the States anyway), but he's designed (discovered?) dozens of quirky but fun games. As a huge bonus he tends to create hand-crafted versions of his games that are lust-worthy artifacts indeed.

Quote:
d10-5 Other than two player games, what is the best player count for abstract games?


I like 3-players a lot, but the sweet spot tends to be 4-players in two-partnerships.

Quote:
d10-6 What is your favourite Looney Pyramids game?


It changes, but at the moment it's definitely the vastly underrated Homeworlds.

Quote:
d10-7 Favourite Reiner Knizia game?


Without a doubt, it's Quandary (aka Wildlife Safari, aka Loco!, aka Flinke Pinke, aka...). To me, it's the pinnacle of minimalistic beauty in game design that somehow distills the essence of speculation game into 3 rules.

Quote:
d10-8 What is the biggest player count that you've had for an abstract game?


Two.

Quote:
d10-9 I like to read Sci Fi, do you have any recommendations?


Tons! -- what I'd focus on depends on what you're into.

Quote:
d10-1d10-0 Favourite movie of all time?


Un Chien Andalou

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chadnorth wrote:
My usual question: Have you a favorite wizardly type? If so, who? If not, why? And which game/book/show (if any) is he/she from?


There are many, but at the moment I'm torn between either Jonathan Strange or Mr Norrell, both from the fantastic novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I suspect that without one another they'd both be less compelling on their own.
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Will Reaves
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Congratulations! My questions:

1) How do you so consistently find three cool new games to rate as your favorite each month?

2) Going back to your RPG experiences: favorite character? Favorite campaign? Favorite single gaming moment?

3) I also grew up playing a father's heavy Avalon Hill games. (In my case, the father was my own, and I didn't keep it a secret.) How well did you get into these comparatively complex games without an adult to guide you? What do you think made it click for you?

4) I've owned Decktet for years and never done anything with it. Where do you recommend I get started?

5) Finally, if you could steal one game from my collection, which one would you take? If I were coming to steal one game from your collection, which one would you fight hardest to keep me from taking?
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qwertymartin wrote:
Fabulous choice! Congratulations Mike.

Two questions: if we were meeting up to play games, what would you bring to teach me? And what would you request to try from my collection?


Thank you Martin. Teaching you something that you've never played is a tall order indeed. Hmm. So, every year for the past few years I've sent out a small pamphlet or games of my own invention to friends and family around the holidays. Maybe I'd be so bold as to show you one of those. As a fan of the joys of pasteboard, I think you'd probably appreciate one or two and would probably have great feedback. From your collection, I'd love to challenge you to a 7-game world series of BB Highlight:2045 with some intermissions of "Psychic Backgammon" and Khmer thrown in for good measure.
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Quote:
d10-1 Have you ever played any of the following games: Memoir '44, Shadows over Camelot, BANG!, High Noon Saloon, Sequence?


Not a one. Though a while back I went to a local war gaming group a few times and seeing a guy who was there every time with Memoir 44 set up every time patiently waiting for someone to approach for a game. He looked terrifying to me so I never approached -- I don't recall ever seeing anyone playing with him.

Quote:
d10-2 Kind of pie?


Custard

Quote:
d10-3 Vegetable?


Japanese Goya

Quote:
d10-4 Kind of Cookie?


Snickerdoodle

Quote:
d10-5 Flavor of Ice Cream?


Pistachio

Quote:
d10-6Goats or Cows?


Goat makes a better curry.

Quote:
d10-7 Chickens or Ducks?


Ducks are more charming.

Quote:
d10-8 Broccoli or Cauliflower?


Broccoflower

Quote:
d10-9 Apples or Oranges?


I can't compare.

Quote:
d10-1d10-0 Bears or Lions?


Oh my!
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MplsMatt wrote:
What a great choice, congrats!

If you were to spend a year playing/studying one non-abstract game, what would it be?


Thanks Matt!

I've really gotten into Sidereal Confluence and think it's got enough meat on the bone to keep me going for a year. Easy.

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The Player of Games wrote:
What is the most obscure, but great, abstract you have played?


Oh there are so many but at the top is Entropy by the eminent Eric Solomon. While it has an element of luck, I find that it can be mitigated by playing two simultaneous games between the players, each receiving the same color chip and each placing it for their opponent. I'd have a different answer if I limited myself to combinatorial abstracts only.
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russ wrote:
Cool, enjoy your week, Mike!


Thanks Russ!

Quote:
I just did my turn in our ongoing Shogi game at littlegolem, where again you're beating me. Now I can blame your superior skills on your college Chess obsession!


It took me a long time to get over the mental rending imposed by the drop rule, but it finally started clicking during my last trip to Japan!

Quote:
Cool that you played Titan way back in the old days; I loved it too.


Funny story. A D&D friend "invented" a game that he drew on a bed sheet (!) and taught us how to play. It only occurred to me a couple years ago after playing Titan that he had totally plagiarized the game and billed it as his own!

Quote:
I know you're dabbling a bit in wargames lately; what are some wargames you're interested in or actually playing lately?


I'm enjoying a few Hollandspiele games right now. I think they're a good speed for a war-gaming n00b like myself. The rulebooks are concise yet clear, and the games themselves have a pretty low counter ... um... count. Specifically I enjoy Grunwald Swords and Teutons. I also have my eye on Avec Infini Regret as a sorta-post-Hollandspiele-graduation target.

Quote:
As a programmer, have you programmed any game software?


I wrote a Chess engine in college and have dabbled in AIs for various other games (Martian Chess and Grand Chess are coming along). For a while I had a contract to help build an online Texas Hold'Em system for a company, but I mostly worked on the guts of the system rather than the rules system.

Quote:
What kind of music is your music hobby? Do you play some instrument(s), compose, collect, listen, what?


For a long time I played bass and guitar, but it's been a very long time since I last played seriously. I sang in my share of punk bands in the past too, but I hesitate to refer to what I did as music though. I don't collect nor compose, but I listen to everything and anything!
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