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I Saw Your Hand in The Cookie Jar

Information that I find interesting from news items or items of historical significance pertaining to the board gaming hobby

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Divided Republic: A Boardgame About the Election of 1860--A KICKSTARTER PROJECT (Last Update)

Dundy O
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"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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Three days remain for this fine project on Kickstarter. Time is running out, and though today has become a banner day, approximately $5,500 is yet needed to fund Alex Bagosy's well designed boardgame.

This morning I was pleased to see that Mr. Bagosy's "Designer's Diary" was posted on BGG. It's a diary that has definitely had to 'wait-it's-turn' in the carousel of new and proposed board and card game entries on this active site. Understandable, but wrenching to the designer who has invested 10 years of research, design, and play-testing into his project.

As the door is closing on this Kickstarter opportunity of public funding, Mr. Bagosy's diary was unveiled. Hope not being low hanging fruit for the project, my desire was that it would not be too little, too late.

First of all, it was not too little.

Mr. Bagosy's "Designer's Diary" is the finest I've ever read. It is poetry. Truly, this diary is a special read. It was inspiring to me, not only because he shared his overcoming of a learning disability, but because of the long process Divided Republic has endured to reach this point.

This game has been organically grown. In a culture of pre-packaged products, cookie-cutter imitation, and prove-it-before-I-move-it deal making, the purity and power of individual ideas are being ignored.

Ten years ago, a man named Alex Bagosy had an idea. The idea already had deep roots, so he began watering it. Having little experience, Alex Bagosy learned and grew with his idea. As he states in his diary, there were harsh winters and dry summers, yet his idea continued to grow.

I know there were times he must have thought, "Forget it. I'm spending too much time and money on something people can't see as containing any real beauty".

But he saw it's beauty. And a few people that meant the most to him did too. So he continued feeding, pruning and watering his idea until it developed into a uniquely special game.

It's here folks. It's designed, play-tested, and ready to be delivered to a game playing public. To be harvested though, it requires only $5,500. This is a very small amount of money for the vibrant, helpful community that BGG attracts.

Read Mr. Bagosy's "Designer's Diary" and consider supporting it. If you decide not to, you will at least have been uplifted by a very encouraging journey one of our own members has gone through.

And to those of us who have previously supported it, I encourage you to raise your support one level higher, as it will show support not only for a game, but for an individual with an idea--imaginative and creative--who wants to share it with others.

Hopefully, the publishing of Mr. Bagosy's "Designer's Diary" isn't too late to harvest a game many people will enjoy.

Here is the link to Kickstarter's Divided Republic page:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1926752146/divided-repub...&

Here is the link to Mr. Bagosy's amazing "Designer's Diary":
http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/4728/designer-diary-divide...
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Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:45 pm
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    Divided Republic: A Boardgame About the Election of 1860--A KICKSTARTER PROJECT (Update)

    Dundy O
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    "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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    This fine boardgame designed by BGG user Alex Bagosy is in need of more attention on BoardGameGeek. With 12 days remaining on the Kickstarter website, Divided Republic has only raised $3,626 of the $13,000 it needs to become funded.

    I'm not sure why it hasn't received more attention (or more funding) because the game appears to be well designed and has gone through extensive play testing. Mr. Bagosy has also deeply researched the era, which he has cleverly implemented into smooth gameplay. Here is one example--Mr. Bagosy has given me permission to share this information from the Divided Republic's Kickstarter webpage. It is about a not-well-known real life figure who had some influence on the election of 1860. His name was Gerrit Smith.

    Gerrit Smith, also known as "Smith Gerrit," and "William Gerrit" in some period accounts, was a prominent New York Abolitionist who advocated the immediate abolition of slavery to include, if necessary, use of violence to enforce such a policy. He was a friend of William Lloyd Garrison, financially influential, and often accused of funding a "Negro Underground" in the South by ardent Anti-Abolitionists. We don't know if the latter part is true, but it is worth mentioning that many of his fellow Abolitionists classified him as a "radical" member of their movement. At the very least, there is some indication that he was part of the cabal of Northern businessmen who helped to financially support John Brown's plans for revolt.

    His political experience in office was limited to a single term in the US House of Representatives as a member of the Free Soil Party. He ran for the presidency a number of times, on Abolitionist tickets with a variety of names. In 1860, Smith ran as the candidate for the simply named "Abolitionist Party," and won several votes in New York. However, most free soil/anti-slavery voters chose to vote for Lincoln in the election.

    Representative Smith was a rare man of his era, and is on record several times arguing for the complete equality of former slaves, a school of thought that many prominent Abolitionists avoided. After the war, Smith was blacklisted by the radical members of the Republican Party, who disagreed with Smith's assertion that the South should be treated fairly, and that part of the blame for slavery fell upon the North. In addition, Smith managed to burn several bridges by openly advocating for a pardon of Jefferson Davis.


    Interesting. And he is also in the game. He is able to win New York during Regional or Final Polling if the state is tied.

    As you can see, the thought Mr. Bagosy has put into this game is impressive.

    If you care to learn more about Divided Republic or want to support it, you can go here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1926752146/divided-repub...

    BoardGameGeek is also going to publish a Designer's Diary by Mr. Bagosy which should be very interesting read, so I hope more attention is raised for a game that I will be proud to own.
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    Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:30 pm
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    Ur...I Demand That You Bury Me With My Game! Pt. 2

    Dundy O
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    "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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    Tamar pushed the sheepskin doorway aside and stepped into the desert night. He breathed deeply. His love for the slightly sour scent of the wind sweeping in from the Great Gulf always made him a smile. He filled his lungs again before he began walking to his favorite nightspot.

    Tamar's wife, weary from a taxing summer pregnancy had just reclined for the evening when he decided to view the great planets Jupiter and Saturn move within close proximity of each other. As long as he could remember, his thoughts and dreams were always fixed on the heavens. He learned from his father and uncles at a very young age that stars and planets marked the times and seasons of the world by their movement.

    He knew a great time on earth was close.

    As he slipped between the tents and earthen houses of his neighbors, he was careful to avoid the roaming animals of the desert prowling for food. Rats were a mere annoyance, but the grey wolves from the nearby marshes of the Euphrates River could be deadly.

    He cleared the cluster of homes, animal pens and date-trees ringing the outer village area of Ur when Tamar finally turned toward the large bricked walls of the inner city.

    Massive. Elegant. A testament to man's dominance over the desert region. Tamar often wished he would be free to live inside these walls but knew they were reserved only for ministers, royal priests and priestesses.

    As Tamar walked by the open gate of the city, he saw two men seated near a small fire just inside. Gatekeepers. They were bent over a small wooden object that was the focus of their attention. Tamar stopped to watch.

    It was the game. Twenty Squares. He knew about the game and also knew that it was more than a game. His body involuntarily shuddered. It was said that this game gave the royals their powers.

    As he observed the progress of the game, Tamar became frightened when he noticed a tall, slim figure approach the men. Queen Puabi. He shrunk back but couldn't take his eyes off her stunning presence. She was agitated and appeared to be arguing with the two men. As the confrontation heightened, a sudden wind swept across the desert and exploded through the city gates. Every torch on the walls went out and the fire where the three royals stood immediately went black.

    Shocked, Tamar turned to go when he remembered why he began this walk in the first place. He looked upward and lost his breath. The night sky was blazing white in the area of Jupiter and Saturn. He couldn't comprehend why, but the conjunction of those two planets created an unnatural amount of light. As he studied the sky, he was certain that there was a large star behind the two planets, creating a large halo of light that linked with theirs.

    Never in his many years of sky-watching had he ever witnessed anything so amazing. Deep inside of himself, he understood that the Great God was unveiling something grand. But what?

    "Why were you watching me?"

    Tamar spun around to see the tall figure of Queen Puabi glaring down on him...




    The Royal game of Ur never came with a set of instructions. Wherever archeologists unearthed the game or it's associated game pieces, no set of rules were ever found nearby. It wasn't until the tablet of Itti-Marduk-balatu was found that any light was shed on gameplay.

    Unearthed in Babylon, the tablet was dated as written in 177 BC--more than a millennium after the kingdom of Ur existed--and contained instructions for a game that involved the use of dice and a board made up of squares containing rosettes. These rules seemed to hint at a race driven game.

    Used loosely, these instructions express a connection with the Royal Game of Ur.



    The pictures above are two possible board movements used by each of the players in a race to the end of the twenty square "track."

    The rosettes carved inside five of the game-board squares and the exact use of the pyramidical dice have also remained unsolved speculations.



    The most accepted assertions are that the markings on the dice specified movement allowance and that the rosettes were either a "safe" spot or allowed the player whom landed on it to gain a free "go."

    Most interestingly, many archeologists, historians and social scientists doubt that The Royal Game of Ur was a game at all. In studying the cultures, lifestyles and games of the ancient Mesopotamian region, many have come to the conclusion that The Royal Game of Ur was used for divination.

    Senet and Tau, two other games that have been found in the Mesopotamian region, have been proven to be used for reading the meaning of star movement and/or invoking the spirit world.

    It is well known that the ancient world was fixated upon star movements and planet alignment. Many ancient texts speak of this, including the Jewish and Christian Bibles. Multitudes of Middle Eastern gods were given star names. The Moon god dominated the Arabian peninsula. Pictures of space travel have been inscribed in tombs, caves, pyramids, and on stones.

    Specifically speaking of the Royal Game of Ur, scientists often wondered why the game was only found in the Royal Cemetery of Ur. Ur had a large cemetery of which many bodies lay in common graves with few personal items ever found in them, but the Royal Cemetery was in a specific area of the larger city cemetery.

    This was the area where tombs were found, and inside of them the Royal Game of Ur.

    One of the more famous tombs inside the Royal Cemetery was called the Tomb of Queen Puabi. The interpretation of the word, "nin," which was inscribed in her tomb is translated "queen," and alternatively, "priestess." Many religious symbols were found with her, along with the Royal Game of Ur.

    Which brings us to this question:

    Was the the Royal Game of Ur a game or a method of predicting the future?
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    Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:00 pm
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    Ur...I Demand That You Bury Me With My Game! Pt. 1

    Dundy O
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    "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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    Ur. Ancient city extrordinaire. An Archeologist’s dream. Trade hub of the Fertile Crescent. Game capital of the world?

    In the area where most anthropologists, archeologists, and historians call the Cradle of Civilization, Ur may have been the baby in that cradle. Set near the convergence of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates as they spill out into the Persian Gulf, Ur dominated the ancient world.



    Rich, vast and long-lasting, Ur was much more than a city. It was a kingdom. Preponderating influence over it’s surrounding geographic locations, Ur was settled to an advanced degree even before the Sumerians began calling it home.

    As our modern world tends to grow similar cities near each other, so did the ancient world. Chicago, Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee are cities that developed from trade route locations to manufacturing centers. Chicago, of course, being the largest and most influential of that group. Numerous cities in northeastern Pennsylvania are known as coal-region cities, with Pittsburgh holding the biggest banner. Though the reasons are various, cities within close proximity tend to resemble one another.

    Ur’s influence spurred the same trend. Surrounding Ur were numerous cities that developed reputations as being the same type as Ur. Lagash, Ukak, Kish and Nippur were called “temple towns.” Ur itself is right in the center of the Ziggurat zone.

    Ziggurat: zik·ku·rat, zig·oo·rat noun. A type of tower found in the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cities of Mesopotamia. This tower was often built on a rectangular platform and comprised of several stepped levels, which gave it the appearance of a terraced pyramid, except for having a flat top. They were constructed of sun-baked clay bricks. The first ziggurats began appearing during the 4th millenium B.C. Were thought of as the home of the god, and only priests were allowed in or on a ziggurat. One of the most famous ziggurats is that from the Sumerian City of Ur.


    This, now, brings us to the Royal Game of Ur.

    It is given this illustrious name because of where it was found. British archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered it and three other board games during excavations of the Royal Cemetery of Ur in the 1920s and 1930s. This cemetery consisted of 16 tombs, each containing many items of much greater quality and of more unique status then any grave outside of the Royal Cemetery. Precious metals, stones and fabrics were found in these tombs, many of which were imported from regions outside of Ur.



    One of the more interesting and unique finds during excavations were the four boardgames. Interesting because historians, sociologists, and anthropologists have often wondered why people would consider a game so important as to bury it with themselves. Unique because it is considered the oldest board game known to man. It is also unique in only the Royal Tombs of Ur contain the game, none have ever been found in Ur outside the Royal Cemetery.



    This is an image of the most famous of those four board games.

    Part two of this post will explain the rules of play, what social scientists think of this game, and a question to ponder...
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    Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:21 pm
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    Alfred Butts Loved M&M's, and LOVE is Worth at Least 7 Points

    Dundy O
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    "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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    M&Ms though, when challenged, are found UNACCEPTABLE. This is according to Alfred's own rules!

    Who is Alfred Butts? Here’s a clue:


    Hmm...tough one, eh? Tell you what, I’ll open the box for you...

    Yes, he is the gentleman who invented the boardgame Scrabble!

    He was very unassuming, very gentle, and admittedly, a very bad speller. Alfred Butts was born in 1899, struggled through the Great Depression after losing his job in an architectural firm, and learned that his talents in painting and writing barely paid the bills.

    He had a passion, though. It's a passion that many Geeks on this site share. Alfred wanted to create a boardgame. And in that passion, he realized his greatest gift. His methodical nature.

    Alfred Butts was a meticulous man. In his dream of creating a boardgame, he studied every game that he knew. He then classified all boardgames as belonging to one of three categories. Number games, move games and word games.

    When designing the game that eventually would become one of the most played games in the 20th century, he studied thousands of words. He calculated the frequency of letters, assigned values to each letter based on that frequency, and prepensely determined the number of tiles of each letter he was to place in his game.

    His earliest form of Scrabble was without a game board. After this version was rejected by numerous game publishers, Alfred's meticulous nature continued to tinker with his design. He eventually created a game board made up of squares, fixed the starting square in the center of the board, assigned different bonus values to certain squares, and incentivized using the outer edges of the game board by giving them the highest values.

    Alfred eventually published his design but wasn't able to gain wide distribution until a man named Jack Straus played and fell in love with Scrabble. Mr. Straus was chairman of R.H. Macy & Co. and he insisted that all Macy stores stock the game he became obsessed with while on vacation one year.

    Times began to brighten for Mr. Alfred Butts after that, as they did for many millions of word lovers throughout the world. No game has sold more variations or spawned more types than Scrabble has.

    According to History of Scrabble (http://www.scrabble-assoc.com/info/history.html), one hundred million sets have been sold world-wide and about two million sold every year in North America. These amazing numbers only pertain to the base game of Scrabble. Scrabble Junior, Scrabble Dice and the multitude of other Scrabble variations add to these numbers.

    Alfred Butts was an unassuming man of simple needs but he created a vibrant and still growing legacy. So, the next time you open up a Scrabble board to "get your words on," open up a bag of M&Ms and rest in the fact that the simple things in life are always the finest.







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    Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:38 am
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    Divided Republic: A Boardgame About the Election of 1860--A KICKSTARTER PROJECT

    Dundy O
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    "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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    I have become a frequent visitor to the Kickstarter website. I'm sure nearly every one here on Boardgamegeek is aware of what Kickstarter is, but in the small chance that someone isn't, I'll give a short description of it.

    It is a site that allows people to find funding for any project that they have personally developed. They create a video introducing the product, whether it is a book, album, game, or other creative enterprise, include pictures and other relevant descriptors, then ask the viewers of the video for contributions.

    Simple concept and very effective. It has exploded in submissions, viewers, and supporters this last year.

    I have learned from my viewing of it that there are many people who have huge and wonderful imaginations, as well as being blessed with abundant talent in various artistic ways. I have read snippets of books, viewed unfinished movies, and learned of many boardgames that are very well designed--and fun to play!

    The problem these people have is lack of money. Though a project is worthy of being shared with a buying public, lack of cash prevents it. Kickstarter helps bridge the lack-of-cash-gap.

    I have recently viewed a boardgame that appeals to me to a high degree. It is called, Divided Republic: A Boardgame About the Election of 1860. It appeals to me so much that I cut my finger yanking a credit card out of my wallet to support the project.

    On the surface, it looks like 1960: The Making of a President, 100 years earlier. Like that game, it is card driven. There are differences, though. It contains four candidates vying for the Presidency, not two, making it a 2-4 player game. The cards also focus more on historical events and strategies than 1960. In 1960, the historical events printed on the cards act more as flavor text to gain more cubes.

    In Divided Republic: A Boardgame About the Election of 1860, the events and strategies on the cards are many of the same strategies that each of the 4 real-life candidates used during the election.

    The Presidential election of 1860 was very contentious. Let me have you read what I found on American History@suite 101 website about that 1860 election:


    The 1860 U.S. presidential election was one of the most contentious ever. Four candidates vied for the nation's highest office. The underdog, Abraham Lincoln, won.

    The 1860 presidential election is remarkable in that American voters had four candidates representing four different parties to choose from. The nation was on the brink of civil war, so the results of this election were critical. Three of the candidates: Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckenridge, and John Bell, were already nationally prominent political figures. The fourth candidate, on the other hand, was a folksy virtual unknown named Abraham Lincoln. When the final vote was counted, however, the virtual unknown was on his way to re-writing history.


    So as you can see, that election was more like a knife-fight than any other Presidential election in United States history--including the little scrum President Bush and Vice-President Gore had in 2000.

    Watch the video on Kickstarter about this game (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1926752146/divided-repub...) and you will see that the designer incorporated that element into gameplay. It looks to be a boardgame that creates very tense battles between players. If that type of game appeals to you, I implore you to support this Kickstarter project.

    There are only 17 days left to raise the funds needed to produce the game. If the goal of raising $13,000 isn't met at the end of that time, the project dies.

    Right now, the project is in trouble. $2,939 has been pledged, so it has quite a chunk of money yet to raise. This is why I'm writing a blog entry.

    I know many people on BGG would love to own a game with this subject matter and so heavily marinated in historical theme. But for whatever reason the game hasn't generated many donors.

    I appeal to the BGG community to go to Kickstarter, view the video, read what the designer says about the game, check out the cards (They are beautiful!), and consider supporting it.

    I for one would LOVE to own a copy!
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    Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:48 am
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