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1 dan on Tenhou!

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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It would take a serious effort to go from beginner to 1 dan in Go in less than a year, so it probably doesn't mean much, but I just reached 1 dan in Riichi Mahjong on tenhou.net after 170 games. I'm really enjoying the East/South Ari Red games. Once you get over the all-Japanese nature of the app, it's really excellent.

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Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:22 am
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Mahjong

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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Mahjong--in particular Riichi Mahjong (the Japanese version)--has become a new obsession. And although I rate two other Asian games--Go and Shogi--10's as well, Mahjong is nothing like either of them. It feels like a card game played with tiles. The nice thing about tiles is that you don't have to hold 13 cards in your hand. And there's something comforting about heavy blocky pieces. It's the most asymmetric game that I know (in an abstract way), but I'll post more about that in the future.

I started out my learning on YouTube, then proceeded to play using the MahjongTime client. It was too buggy and customer support was giving me the run-around. At the prompting of BGG Mahjong players, I switched to the Japanese Flash client at Tenhou. After reading an English guide to the client, and a couple of hours of play, it was perfectly comfortable.

I've had some really bad games, cursing the shuffling algorithm, and of course my own mistakes. This is my most recent game (61 in 5 weeks), where my opponents were probably cursing my luck.

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Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:02 pm
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BGG Needs Flags

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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There are a number of people who I know that subscribe to me. Quite often, I'd like to alert them of something that I found on BGG (game, thread, image, etc.). But I'd prefer not to make a post just for that purpose. I should be able to click a little flag icon that simply says, "If you like the things I like, check this out." and the BGG subscription system would take them to the item of interest.

That being said, I recently stumbled onto Heavy Cardboard. Check it out.
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Sat Sep 13, 2014 4:27 pm
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What Are the Current Grail Games?

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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I don't even know how to define a grail game, but we can all name them for ourselves.

Magic Realm
Glory to Rome
Dune
Pax Porfiriana

and maybe a nicely done English version of:

Die Macher


What are other current common grail games? What are yours?

Looking through the top 500 games, some possibilities for others might be:

San Marco
Princes of the Renaissance
Can't Stop

Edit:

One down: http://www.sierra-madre-games.eu/

Edit:

Two down: https://twitter.com/thedicetower/status/627261780516044800/p...
Three down: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/44122/mercury-games-d...
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Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:09 am
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I predict...

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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...that in a few days: 11652 -> 22

I wanted to post my prediction without giving away what it is. Stay tuned.
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Sun Sep 7, 2014 6:55 am
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Selling all my games for $1

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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I guess I'm just sick of all this stuff. Worker placement, auctions, CRT's, shuffling endless cards, and all the damn pizza at game nights. So I am selling all 272 of my games as a single bundle for $1. Free shipping to anywhere in the world.
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Tue Apr 1, 2014 4:05 am
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Ten Things About...Amun-Re

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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This is the first post in a series of "Ten Things About..." an arbitrary topic that I pick. These posts are simply off-the-top-of-my-head ideas intended to promote discussion.



Today's topic is Amun-Re. I got a chance to play this gem yet again at LobsterTrap 2013. It shares a privileged place along with twelve other games that I rate a 10.

Its rank is 130, and 84 among strategy games. It's Reiner Knizia's 5th-highest-ranked game on BGG. It has over 20,000 recorded plays and almost 6,000 owners. It is generally unavailable without paying inflated prices.

It boasts many mechanics. BGG lists its only mechanic as Auction/Bidding. This is a little misleading. It also has Economy, Resource Management, Hand Management, Area Majority, and Simultaneous Sacrifice (my name). On the surface, these systems are clunky and detached. It's only when you are clearly focused on the goal that it comes together as a cohesive whole.

The map is 4x4, but only has 15 regions. Two are merged into a single region. It's fairly obvious that this was done in order to make the number of regions a multiple of 5. In this way, every region appears by the end of the third and sixth rounds.

There are 2 teams. For the purposes of the harvest (and every decision directly or indirectly related to it), players either want lots of gold per former or not. If it's 3v2 (in a 5-player game), it's a tense struggle to maximize your own benefits while minimizing others'. If it's 4v1, then you better not be the 1; you probably made a poor choice earlier in the round.

The bonuses are an individual luck element. This is most often a bad design choice for a euro game. However, in this game and Princes of Florence, there's a nice increase in risk over time, and the points are not out of line. Players get insight into the probabilities and possibilities of their future plans during the second and fifth rounds.

Always buy at least two cards if you can. Two cards costs 3 gold. They are worth 2 gold for simply turning them in, and one is usually worth more than 2 gold to your situation.

The free card symbols count towards the "7 Cards" bonus. Some people forget that huge, yet subtle rule. Also, extra farmers do not occupy farmer spaces. Also, the "8 Gold" card makes the province you play it on worth a total of 8 gold, not 8 extra gold.

Watch the backs of your opponents' cards. Every card has an "up" orientation on the front except money. Upside-down cards are probably money cards.

The starting player figure is Steve Holt.

Red is the best color.
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Fri Dec 6, 2013 12:03 am
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Back Online Soon

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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My old computer hardware died several weeks ago, so I've been using my work laptop. Tomorrow my new computer arrives! I plan to "get back to normal" by starting to blog here more often. I'll spend a week or so getting the thing installed and configured. Then I have a 4-day game convention. After that, I'll hopefully blog about the con. I've also thought about starting a bunch of random and/or weird top-10 posts.

Stay tuned!



Edit: I've been inspired, in part, by N/A.
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Tue Nov 5, 2013 1:27 am
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Designer Diary: SFARPBG #8 - Killing

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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In classic RPG's, the game master is omniscient. Encounters might include pre-rolled monsters. When you have dealt X hit points of damage, the monster is defeated. But in a solo game, when you are running the system yourself, this is a problem. You don't really want to know that "1 more hit point will finish this beast off".

Therefore, instead of fixed hit points (or even rolled hit points), I am going to use a sliding system of (usually) increasing probabilities for a kill. The chart for a given monster could look something like this:

Damage: 6-8 | 9-10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14+
Roll: 10 | 9 | 8 | 6 | 4 | *


Each time you inflict damage, you add it to the total inflicted so far. Look up this number on the "damage" row, and find what you need to roll to get a kill. The roll is, of course, good old               . To this roll, you add the damage you just inflicted. If the sum is greater than or equal to the required roll, you have killed your foe. Once you reach the starred damage, the monster is automatically dead.

An example using the above chart: You do 3 damage. 3 is too small for the chart. The monster lives on. On a later attack, you do another 2 damage, for a total of 5. Again, still alive. You do another 3, for a total of 8. The target roll for 8 damage is 10. You roll the 3 dice, adding 3 (for the damage you just inflicted). 10 or more is a kill.

The nice things about this system are that, 1) you never usually know how far you are from a kill, and 2) larger amounts of damage in a single attack increase the kill chances.

You can do some cool things with the charts. Imagine some kind of slime that has no discernible head:

Damage: 3-9 | 10+
Roll: 9 | 8


You could poke at it for quite a while before hitting something vital.
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Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:47 pm
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Designer Diary: SFARPBG #7 - Damage

Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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This is mostly a brainstorming article.

In the back of my mind, I've been thinking all along that the basic damage system would be attack roll versus defense roll. So, for example, an attack of           versus a defense of      would result in damage as the difference of the two roll totals, in this case (2 to 6) - (1 to 3). Once I started thinking about how this would play out in practice, it's not really as cool as it sounds. It's actually quite boring.

The attack is always the same range, meaning that all you care about is increasing your total attack numbers. The same holds for defense. Don't think of attack as only weapons and defense as only armor at this point. They are simply "things that can hurt you" and "things that protect you". In Dungeons & Dragons, when you are not truly role-playing, you examine the weapon and armor lists quantitatively. What does the most damage? What provides the best armor class bonus?

I wanted to give a slightly more qualitative nature to my systems, even though in the end, everything reduces to numbers. I have come up with the following: the colors rolled for defense can only negate those same colors rolled for attack. For example, if you are wearing red/green armor, it will not protect you at all from an all-yellow attack. If the attack is yellow/green, then the green portion of the attack can be canceled by any green defense.

Thematically, you could maybe think of green damage as the fast small stuff (daggers, claws, stings), the yellow as medium speed gashes/punctures (swords, arrows), and the red as slow bashes (hammers). Weapons that have more than one style of use (slash and jab) or different kinds of damage (mace = bash and stab) would span the colors.

However, because the numbers on the dice are organized in increasing range and values, they aren't easily assignable to a wide range of attacks and defenses unless I go one step further. And this is where I hope I don't go over the deep end in complexity. I propose to add two new concepts for rolling the dice and calculating the results as points (beyond the color attribute already mentioned):

One, add a fourth "color" which is not represented by a physical die. Call them "white points" or "bonus points" or whatever. These points cannot be canceled by colored points, only by other white points. White points can also cancel colored points. So for example, 2 different kinds of shield/protection spells might be 1) 1 white, and 2) 1 green, 1 yellow, and 1 red. The former gives you a constant reduction of 1 damage from all attacks. The latter offers broad protection that works best against attacks across more than a single color.

Two, add the ability to generate a huge range of values in various colors. I can't show it all simply using BGG's formatting options, but here's the gist:

    : Roll a red die to generate red points.

 2 : 2 green points (no roll). This might be better as 2.

 +1 : Roll a yellow die and add 1 to generate yellow points. The problem showing this as     +1 is that it looks like +1 white point. It's clearly a graphic design problem as much as a design problem.

 -1 : Roll a red die and subtract 1 to generate red points.

 [ ] : Roll a green die to generate white points. This one would need to by symbolized very carefully. Maybe a different outline on the icon of the die and/or a pattern to the green color. Maybe white points are never generated by die roll, but that gives up some of the potential of the system.

With all of the above, you can create some nice thematic elements:

- Monsters that are tough to hit with slow lumbering weapons (rats, bats) could have red defense. Likewise, monsters that are generally resistant to being stabbed (skeletons, stone-based creatures) could have green/yellow defenses.

- You might choose weapons/armor based on what you expect to encounter (related to a quest?).

- Attacks that do more broad-style damage (and some spells and other game effects) can include white points. Monsters that are tough across the board (or tough just to hit at all) can include white defense points.

- I don't want to get into encounters/combat yet, but this system also allows for the possibility of monsters having different kinds/styles/frequencies of attacks. For example, in D&D, some monsters have claw/claw/bite.


Next: Designer Diary: SFARPBG #8 - Killing
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Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:53 pm
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