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Climbing the mountain of conflict

Alec Chapman
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Lincolnshire
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Nice to pop into LoB for the first time in ages, but have you ever had that moment where the rules in your head for a game you think you know very well turn out to be completely wrong?
 
Stand up, The Climbers, where the game rules changed from what was in my head not once, not twice, but THREE times during our play yesterday.
 
First, a bit of background on the game for those people who don’t know it: with its colourful wooden blocks and looking a lot like a child’s toy rather than a vicious blocking game, in The Climbers the idea is to reach the highest point on the mountain before anyone else and then prevent them getting higher.
 
The winner will need to either be at a height no one can reach, or to stop others climbing upwards from a level he has reached first. So it’s both a path building and blocking game. On your turn you first move a block (cubes, half cubes and double cubes) to a new valid location and then move if possible. Your pawn can climb a half cube height on his own and you have two, one use, ladders of a single cube and double cube height to get you up steeper slopes. You can only stand on Grey sides or sides of your own colour. You also have a blocking stone that can prevent people moving onto or repositioning a block for an entire turn. The constantly changing arrangement of the mountain means that as you get higher it tends to taper and options become more and more limited as you continue towards someone’s glorious victory.
 
So, it doesn’t sound very difficult to get right. What were our errors?
 
First, another player was convinced you could only make one step per turn. In fact you can move up as far as you like as long as it is legal – all the way to the top if you are making half steps onto grey or your own colour.
Secondly, I was utterly and I mean 1000% sure that you could EITHER move a block or rotate it, and that you were absolutely forbidden from doing both.  You are not. I’m of the opinion that this causes a bit less tension, especially given the fact it means a cube can be moved to anywhere and become any colour.
Thirdly, I was less certain, but similarly convinced that you couldn’t have orphaned blocks (i.e. you cannot remove a block that would leave another disconnected from the main tower) – apparently this is not the case either. I certainly think that this is daft, but the rules are the rules.
 
Incorrect certainty is very vexing but despite getting this wrong right up until I had used up my ladders and got almost as high as I ever would in the game, I still came in first. The eventual mountain had an absurd spike in the middle as a blockage to other climbers.
 
I didn’t make any similar errors in Ra, playing to my best ever position (2nd of 5) and best ever score (40 – 3 points off the winner). For those who have played the game with me before, you will realise this is an incredible performance from this viciously anti auction gamer. Actually, the auctions in Ra and Metropolis are fine and I don’t mind them. Single, open bids are something I don’t mind too much and are millions of times better than free bidding or blind bidding. Actual decision making! Doesn’t take forever! Allows for subjective evaluation!
 
Setting aside the ludicrous attempts to theme the game (epochs assigned to date ranges? Seriously?), the nice thing about Ra is that moment when you know that the value of the tiles is more than your lowest bid, but lower than the next highest held by someone else. Then you call RA!
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Wed Apr 4, 2012 11:53 am
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Why do we fall, Master Brezhnev?

Alec Chapman
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Lincolnshire
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…so we can learn to pick ourselves back up!
 
It was a good weekend for the USSR but a mixed bag for me, as I doubled billed Twilight Struggle across Saturday and Sunday.
 
Before we’d played TS Paul had given Puzzle Strike another look – it’s obviously not for him, but I was glad he agreed that the attempts to turn it into a three and four player game really make people approach it as more than it really is. Puzzle Strike is an excellent two player game for people who like combos and bashing each other. It is not a four player optimisation game. I played as Geiger, really to try and prove that it’s not all about the purples. I won with judicious use of the character chips he has – It’s Time For The Past, Future Sight and Research and Development are all great churners.
Killer combo (if I remember it right) was an eight chip chain: (Sneak?) Attack to red arrow, (Dashing?) Attack to Brown Arrow, It’s Time for the past (for one of each), One of Each (Drew Money), Research and development (chucked money for combine), Combine, Combine, Future Sight (Drawing Crash). Zero or one money, I forget which, but won on the next turn. Forgive my lack of memory on the attacks – I love ‘em, but I can never distinguish the names in hindsight. It’s runs like this that I love in Puzzle Strike – especially since in this instance I had taken care to build up the necessary chips. Geiger’s upgraded future sight gives you a great way of maximising your combos.
 
------------
 
Saturday’s game as the USA against Paul (aka Sorp222) was the most gruelling TS session I have had so far, hanging in a very close balance, perhaps slightly in my favour right up the turns 9 and 10 when he scored about 30 points in two rounds, with devastating combinations of headline and first action completely wiping out my presence in Europe and Central America. Obviously an important lesson was learned in terms of over control, and also our relative ignorance of the Late War cards meant we were more open to lucky streaks like this.
 
I actually felt, up to this stage, that I had played really well and did, in fact, have control of Europe by the conclusion of 10:4, but that was when the Soviets cheekily played their South America scoring card and mopped up the last points they needed to win. Paul had a 13 point lead before then anyway, so my chances were slim even without the advantage of holding all the scoring cards in the final round.
 
Horrid loss, really upsetting in a way because I felt I’d done everything right up until the late war. I guess that’s why they call it the long war after all.
 
 
But TS has a way of dragging you back for more, and after our recording session for the movie Podcast on Sunday (episode 61!) Chris asked to play it, and while I was still smarting from the humiliating turnaround the previous night, I got back up and went back to couping unnecessary nations for fun.
 
And there were A LOT of coups in this game. Columbia and Nicaragua, Italy and Angola were frequent targets when they were available. Either because one of the players could be bottlenecked (USSR in Nicaragua, USA in Columbia etc) or occasionally to draw attention. Africa was far more involved in this game as Chris attempted to make up for the early loss of W Germany and frequent influence battle over Italy – caused in major part by my adoption of a more aggressive tactic in setup, grabbing control of Austria. This, coupled with my hard earned knowledge of Europe’s shaky status in the events led to considerations in that theatre distracting the issue from my domination and eventual complete control of the Middle East, which was to ultimately win the game for me.
 
I think what this really showed is how your losses can really inform your play. Overcontrol of Poland and East Germany in the good times prevented my plans being completely thrown in the East European Unrest times. I also had one eye on the upcoming Solidarity and Pope John Paul II events, though these did not come out in the end.
 
I was also cautious in the last turn because I had drawn the Camp David Accords, and only by playing 5 Year Plan before it in the last action round was I able to get the 3 ops points I needed to guarantee my stranglehold in the Middle East before Chris was forced to play the scoring card. Two would have given him the opportunity for presence or to damage my control – I would not be willing to allow either of those possibilities.
 
There are few words that can sum up how rewarding it is to see all my efforts in learning this game paying off even in defeat, how knowing the cards a bit better makes an enormous difference and even how the emotional journeys can be so different.
 
It’s a true great.
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Tue Apr 3, 2012 4:01 pm
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Regular Opponents 3 & 4 - The Guru and The LoBster King

Alec Chapman
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<--- Holy cow (EDIT) - I just realised I am about to buy my sixth supporter badge. That's a long term hobby!

------------------------------------------

It's
Paul Lister
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Martin G
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Now, I may be wrong, but after I was turned over to the dark side of the force by Paul (aka moving from Swiggers to London On Board) my very first game at the new club was Age of Steam and while it is possible Martin and I did not play in this game together he, along with Paul are so central to my LoB experiences I cannot but insert him into the tale.

It was a legendary bit of gaming, with AoS inducing an almost immediate brain melt headache in me and the satisfaction of making one of our opponents lose money in the last round through cruel deliveries.

Other legendary games I've been involved in with Paul have been the collectors edition War Of The Ring, my first forays into Twilight Struggle, supervising Android (since it almost screams for a GM) and one of the best games of Arkham Horror I've played too. And this just at the clubs! Paul and I have been playing games together for four years (ish) and in every single one of them he has been an exemplary opponent - especially when I am not. Our tastes are very different these days - he still loves a new Euro whereas I'm less than interested.

Martin was of course the opponent who faced off against me in the game of Tigris and Euphrates that went down to the third tiebreaker (he won, obviously enough), as well as so many other games - just springing to mind now are the game of Ra in which I scored minus points, him laughing at my Crokinole form or the way in two hands he scored more Mah Jong points than I had in total across my first two eight hand games.

I even put Tigris on my list because I knew Martin would be good for several plays. His Knizia obsession can be useful upon occasion.

Both these guys are better at all games than I am (possible exception to this rule is Cosmic). They are both excellent opponents and two of the very few people of whom I can honestly say I would never turn down a game

Unless there's an auction in it.
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Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:36 pm
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First World Problems 465b-II : BGG and iPhones hate each other

Alec Chapman
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My word, the iPhone hates BGG. The main site is unfriendly, the app is useful only for reference and I type faster than it accepts input.

I've been doodling out blog posts on email during lunch and then later sending them to my phone, where I copy and paste them into the entry screen, which is too large for my screen at any zoom level big enough to read the letters so if you want to add emoticons or links etc it is a nightmare scrolling through acres of wordy ranting to reach the bit at the top and if you're lucky it may insert what you want to insert it - this is rare, so you could try and copy and paste it, or if you're really brave, attempt to type the code correctly.

Good luck with that.

Also, every top menu link and the next subscribed thread button needs to be pushed at least twice (I count four presses required to give thumbs).

It's horrible.

So if someone comes up with a solution (app?) for all the above (not the typing, obviously, unless you are chief designer at apple) I just wanted to say I have earmarked 0.69p for it. All I want is a site scaled to match and menu buttons that are compatible.

The ball's in your court.

FYI I typed this at home. So I can air out some of the stuff I never can from the phone:
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1d10 = (9) = 9
arrrh
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:31 pm
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Why Qwertymartin is dead right about game saturation.

Alec Chapman
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Thanks to Qwertymartin for raising this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/9113/five-years-the-jo...
It says, in a far more erudite way the things that really motivated me to attempt my silly arbitrary quest to play ten of my games 100 times. If anything, I am considerably more irritated than he is, but that’s probably because I am generally more irritable.
 
In his magnificent post (and very entertaining comments) he voices the same frustrations I have with there being far too much haystack out there to spot the needle, even when said needle is made of diamond. Rather than write an enormous comment underneath I thought I would respond in my own blog to a couple of the points he made.
 
With everything I say here, I am just voicing opinions. I have also come up with my own solution to this in a self imposed purchasing ban, so these issues hardly encroach on my world to the extent they used to, but if you can’t express yourself on your own blog then there is something fundamentally wrong with the internet.
 
First, the issue of “Too Damn Many Games”. I think it is no secret that there are far too many games coming out every year for any one person to play them all. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this is “too damn many” but in the context of the rest of this post it is crucial to separate the issues into chunks.
There are two major problems with there being too many games for people to play. First, we approach problems of marketing winning out over demonstration and rules releases. Many people bought Elder Sign, for example, because of theme and publisher first and gameplay second. We have all done this in some form or other but when the number of major new releases from each publisher has risen to a huge level the potential for wasting money and time panning for gaming gold is greatly increased. The problem of marketing budgets being the main way people learn about games is that the smaller companies don’t stand much of a chance of widespread approval. It was ever thus, but it needs saying occasionally.
Second problem of sheer number of releases is that each game gets less attention from the publisher. Output doesn’t necessarily rise only when staffing and production capacities do, so a lot of corners can get cut. An entire community making jokes about how you may as well leave the shrink wrap on a game until the first FAQ is released demonstrates this problem. Again, it was ever thus for the early adopter in all new technology or product – but I think it is exaggerated in this market by the high outlay, low playcounts we see frequently.
 
Secondly, just a subjective observation. I despise planned obsolescence. As quantity produced goes up, the only business model that works long term is a high wholesale cost, low playcount one. This means that companies are not only encouraged to maximise the price they can justify charging, they may actually become incentivised to make games that don’t last very long. I’m very mean to Tobago at this point usually, a game that is great fun for two plays before the only revelation turns out to be that that is it, there is no more depth to be had. Tobago is actually a pretty poor choice since it has no pretensions of depth really, but even if this hasn’t become an issue already it is a risk of an ongoing new product saturated market. This is especially if nobody actually wants to play a game more than five times before buying another. I should clarify, I don’t think the gaming industry is planning the obsolescence of their games – I’m not even sure this is possible, but there is no business incentive for them to avoid it becoming a problem for the consumer.
 
Thirdly, the “cult of the new” needs to ask itself a question. What, exactly, are you looking for?
It’s none of my business how you spend your money, buying every slight iteration and minor alteration or mix of systems you like, but have you ever actually asked yourself what will be enough? This whole 10:100 thing was born out of the realisation that my ideal game already exists (yes, LoBsters, it’s that one) so why do I keep trying new games rather than playing my favourites? Does every member of the cult believe that there is a game almost but not quite exactly like a cross between Agricola and Puerto Rico that will miraculously fit their preferences, Goldilocks style? Will that game be significantly more fun than what is already out there to justify the £300 and many hours or whatever you spent on the hunt in the meantime?
How many games are we prepared to go through before we give up the hunt for an ideal that may well never exist?
Perhaps this is a disposable income issue. I don’t have much so what appears expensive folly to me may well be nothing more than a drop in your ocean, so forgive me if this is the case.
 
Fourthly, collectors. I have nothing to criticise. Being obsessive compulsive I know what the drive is like, so I’m not about to preach to those with this particular cycle.
 
Fifthly, I think we generally assess the cost of games incorrectly. If something is fun one time, it may not be necessarily as fun the hundredth, but perhaps it should be? Either way, the important issue is play count, not price. It has been said many times that a game costs as much as two/three/four cinema tickets (this multiplier seems to increase with the price of games with little comment) and it seems instinctively like that’s a good return on investment. Sure, but we’re comparing apples and oranges when we do this. I personally balk at what people spend to get drunk on a night out, but that’s their choice. Should we compare the cost of three pints of beer with a cinema ticket? The time spent at the cinema is 2 hours, drinking a pint of beer is five-ten minutes, playing a game can be either.
 
No. Let’s keep the discussion to games and games alone. So – when you have a cash to play ratio of £1.50 per play (as with Cosmic Encounter or Puzzle Strike for me) it makes a big difference compared to the ratio of £15 per play that I have with, for example, Android. But of course, if you have more fun with one thing than another that needs taking into account.
 
Hence my old hat equation that VALUE = FUN x PLAYCOUNT. If you genuinely like a game, the more you play it should increase towards a plateau (and maybe subsequent fall) rather than starting high and dropping off. I don’t even take cash cost into account here, because it doesn’t really matter for the actual playing of the game.
 
And that is the reason for everything I am doing at the moment. The half an hour I spend being taught a new game is wasted time when I could be having much more fun playing. I have an attention span long enough to concentrate on the one game for enough time, and if the game is good enough then why not play that instead of sitting down to what is likely to be somewhere between my 500th and my 1000th game rules explanation?
 
Lastly (I promise), for the most part the cult of the new can exist without me being adversely affected. Usually, I don’t care much and certainly there’s no reason you should start questioning yourself just because I say so. I do still think this is a genuine issue and one that requires at least understanding by everyone in the hobby; just to make sure our decisions are rational.
 
It is, however, a real drag when you try and organise opponents for games with most people still stuck in that bubble. I realise this puts me in a minority on this website, where the new hotness is king and there is constant contact between gamers and those whose livelihoods depend on persuading them that the next game will be the one they’ve always wanted. The sad fact is that for most cultists it won’t be, because for so many the chase is so alluring that they may have forgotten what they seek.
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:16 pm
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Humble Pie - how not to blog post, discard tiles and play Mah Jong

Alec Chapman
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To follow up on yesterday’s missive on accepting your own screw ups, it is clear that my method of bashing out blog posts while on hold to clients is not ideal for accurate drafting, since I described Mr Jack as a “perfect information abstract game”. Basically, for those of you as ignorant as me, this is something only a muppet would do (probably Fozzie). Poor example made worse by bad editing. Darn.
 
Anyhoo, I seem to be making a habit of humbling myself in public at the moment, and yesterdays Mah Jong session against
Martin G
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and our respective partners was no exception. After teaching the game in my classic scattergun way (unlike Cosmic I’ve only taught Mah Jong to new players twice and haven’t got my patter down) and after Martin took a chicken hand in the first turn he proceeded to tear the rest of the table to pieces, scoring seemingly at will in the 30-50 point range.
 
Of course he was very humble himself, putting his relative success down to large rummy experience. That’s just what he’s like! Which makes it worse, in a way. J
 
I always have a whale of a time playing anyway and our very fine hosts seemed to have the game down in the five hands we played – even my wife was getting into it, coming tantalisingly close to a one suit and honours hand (40 points!) though a part of this success is my seeming inability to register the stupidity of discarding a tile she needed even after she had displayed her hand to us to ask a rules question!
 
Let’s face it – it’s just not my week.
 
Here’s the situation – Mrs Algo is collecting the character suit. This is a good choice with new players since because I was a cheapskate (see previous posts) the set we use does not have Arabic numerals,  so the new guys just chuck the character suit away as too much hard work for a few hands. I doubt she was being so cynical, btw, the cause and effect here are blurry.
She was asking about the nine tile straight (a nice bunch of points!) and we clarified that since she had already claimed 2,3,4 there was no way to incorporate that sequence into such a straight (1-3, 4-6, 7-9) and since they were learning she happily showed us her five and six during the discussion. Then on my next turn I had an orphaned four of characters – no other characters in the hand - and just chucked it away as you would. Thing is, as soon as I did it, I knew I’d screwed up. As it is she didn’t finish her hand (Martin knocked together 45 points or something) so my blushes were partly spared, but nevertheless it’s never good to throw your wife a tile you know she needs. It just looks like favouritism.

But, y’know, despite striking out at Martin’s I got straight back on the horse today lunchtime at work. Things were chugging along nicely, though with a couple of chicken hands G was able to close out his twenty point lead in game four. First hand of Game 5 and I was onto an amazing one. At the time I made a colossal error, I had a triplet of eight circles, a triplet of 9 circles and a single 7 of circles. Three consecutive triplets is worth a mighty 100 points – AND I had a triplet of White Dragons to give me another 10 points and an enormous lead (the pair was threes of characters).
 
Then I make my stupid, schoolboy mistake. I draw a tile out of sequence.
 
In non-competitive play, we have a little solution for this which involves revealing it to everyone and putting it into the dead wall face up. Not ideal, but at least things can continue on a friendly basis.
The disaster came when G drew the next tile and immediately discarded it. A SEVEN OF CIRCLES! If I hadn’t been an idiot, I would have drawn a blinking seven of circles next and just needed one more to finish my amazing hand. In the end the game got to the last three tiles in the live wall before P completed a chicken hand – the turn AFTER discarding the last seven of circles I would have needed.
 
Not a good feeling.
 
To complete the picture, I decided to beat myself up even more by checking how my play count is rising. Not Fast – see below

1 Cosmic Encounter - 35
2 Tigris & Euphrates - 2
3 Puzzle Strike - 33 (+3)
4 Tichu - 4
5 Haggis - 2
6 Summoner Wars - 4
7 Mr Jack - 11 (+1)
8 Small World - 9 (+1)
9 Mah Jong - 19 (+2)
10 Twilight Struggle - 4 (+2)
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Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:05 pm
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Abstract games and owning your mistakes

Alec Chapman
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The eternal problem with perfect information abstract strategy games like Mr Jack is that the win is usually down to making fewer mistakes than your opponent. It can feel like you won because you screwed up less rather than because of actions you took.
 
In games where things are hidden, or there are random elements, it’s easier to feel that you lose because of the play of your opponent. In a game like Chess or Go you have nowhere to hide and no excuses like “the dice hate me” or “that’s the luck of the draw” to fall back on. You live and die by your own brainpower and attention span.
 
For winners, I would just advise you that “screwing up less” than your opponent is a very good way to win anything in life – so don’t feel too bad about it.
 
I don’t mind this type of game, but for those who do not, how can one mitigate the negative feelings about yourself that may arise from throwing away a game because of something you didn’t spot?
 
It is important to realise that it is only a game. In almost all cases, there are no serious consequences of defeat. Also, in many of such games, defeat is an important learning tool – it’s easier to avoid mistakes when they’re concrete rather than theoretical.
 
Sure, we can get caught up in the idea of brain sports all we like, but in games such as this a super competitive streak can lead to very negative results. The average or below average chess player can, if obsessed with winning, become caught in a horrible cycle of self recrimination and stare at the board in horror for minutes at a time and agonise over it for weeks if they like. A better player will perhaps make fewer mistakes, but perhaps they can be more devastating, though I would expect good players to have been through the defeats already to thicken their skin. I remember in Bobby Fischer vs. The World (an excellent documentary btw) there’s a game in his most famous match where he screws up completely, essentially taking one of his own pieces out of the equation.*
 
I like to think of the following truism – if both players play a perfect game, the player who goes first will win a turn before the player who went second would have done, or it will be a draw. That just sounds boring. A healthy attitude towards the meaning of a loss can turn any experience into a positive one. A human being is not a machine.
 
Finally - what exactly do we lose when we lose a game? Nothing more (or less) than simply that. A game.
 
Learning how to lose is an important skill that everyone will need to use at some stage and acceptance of our shortcomings is an important aspect of growing up. Believe me, you will have bigger shortcomings than not spotting a sewers move in Mr Jack, so try and keep things in perspective and everything should turn out alright.
 
 
 
 
 
* He put this down to external factors such as cameras getting on his nerves, threatened to walk out of the match altogether (he was an odd guy anyway) and eventually lost all touch with reality after a lifetime spent studying the minutiae of abstract manoeuvres, becoming paranoid and an ardent anti-semite. It is obvious this was not down to the humiliation of this one game lost – he had other issues far more pressing and eventually won the world champion title in this match – but my point was that this one bizarre mistake did not make him question his entire existence.
 
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Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:49 pm
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TS: My first win as the USA

Alec Chapman
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OK, against my regular opponent, Chris, I bashed out a turn 6, 20 point victory over the Russians. I think it went pretty well, despite obviously having the advantage and everything coming up roses, I never felt comfortable.

I think that's the nature of the beast, really. Even when I did eventually win (3 points from Arms Race and then 2 points from his failure to hit the MilOps target) it was not at a point when I thought I would swan off with the victory.

In retrospect I can see I got the balance a lot better this time with protecting Italy - though Chris' unerring ability to repeatedly roll 6 caused me problems with South America and good ol' Pakistan, which has twice been a focal point for us.

We tried realignment a lot more but did not have tonnes of success. I can see it being devastating, but the outcome is very in doubt because of the dice.

This time, Europe was a stalemate, with both of us having presence and not really being in any trouble, but I dominated in Asia and my timing was just plain better in the Middle East (lucky!). Also, I was able to get domination in South America by pretending I had taken hold there as an afterthought of repairing De Gaulle damage. I enjoy this aspect of the game a lot. It is tough to bluff a regular opponent time after time, but there will be a way - I'm sure of it!

i can't take too much from this one sided affair in terms of new strategy other than knowledge of Canada's role with Norad. I saw a bunch of cards that i hadn't before and was able to anticipate the Russian's "in" with Allende in to South America as it was in my hand with South America scoring - I played it next. Actually I horribly lost control of South and Central America soon after, but the damage was done. Even if I hadn't had the fortune of those last two points from MilOps, it was 50/50 who would have drawn South Asia scoring, and even if he had I think I had enough power there already to be up two points on that.

Most importantly, even in defeat of this kind, Chris told me he had a great time and can't wait to play again.

That's Twilight Struggle for you!
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Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:25 pm
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Alec's patented semi co-operative pub quiz rules

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
Lincolnshire
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Anyway, how's your sex life?
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"She said the same thing about waffles."
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I developed these (there's an overstatement) for the London On Board winter quiz last year. They met with both bemusement and laughter of, I hope, the good kind. I reprint them here for you to use if you like:

The rules for Alec’s Patented Semi Co-Operative Pub Quiz
 
A particularly rewarding option if asking reasonably easy questions!
 
NB: This only works if nothing is really on the line and nobody is taking it too seriously.
Example: At London On Board’s winter quiz, the difference between winning and losing was the order in which people chose their prizes but crucially, everyone got a prize.
I DO NOT recommend the use of such a crazy system for any quizzes with cash prizes or involving work colleagues. It’s just not worth it.
 
The rules:
 
Standard Pub Quiz format for the most part, teams of five, with the following additions.
 
Purchase one pack of playing cards per. Aces, Jacks and Jokers are traitors, everything else is loyal. Make a pile per team of four loyal cards to one traitor.
 
*There is an additional major prize to the one undetected traitor whose team came in the lowest position – but ONLY IF he/she went undetected.
*There are four additional small prizes (i.e. sweets or similar) to any team that exposed their traitor correctly.
*Once exposed, a traitor does not share in any winnings.
*The traitor on the winning team (i.e. the team with the most points) has demonstrated they are incompetent and must also forgo any prize.
*Anyone claiming to have lost their card or unable to show it at the end of the game forgoes their winnings as well, just in case.
 
Totally Untested Variants:
1.       Mix all the loyal and traitor cards together. You could end up with all your traitors on one team!
2.       As normal rules or variant (1) but replace one traitor card with an additional loyal card. One team has no traitor!
3.       Allow teams of 10, with two traitors each. Allow “lynching” of potential traitors between turns. Goodbye!

PS
Last years victorious LoB traitor deserves recognition here. I believe it was
Paul Agapow
United Kingdom
London
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Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:34 pm
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Regular Opponent 2 - Mrs Algo

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
Lincolnshire
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Anyway, how's your sex life?
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"She said the same thing about waffles."
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Microbadge: Offline from The Geek for a while
Let me tell you about my wife’s favourite games. I need not expound on her many virtues as a human being other than to point out that when I bought a microbadge about my relationship status I did not choose “married”, but “I’m in love!”
 
She’s a big Arkham Horror fan. This is a combination of liking co-operative gaming, dice rolling and fighting monsters as well as storytelling – hence the big love for this enormous game. We took it on our annual holiday a couple of years ago, played a fantastic victorious game while thunder and lightning tore up the sky outside the apartment, and later had a rare row over me attempting to enforce a rules interpretation with which she didn’t agree. Can’t even remember what it was now (probably had to do with investigator death), but the fact she cared enough to fight me on it proves this game’s a winner. Sadly, I have cooled a little on the experience because of the massive set up and playing time, but I’m starting to hanker after another battle with the Mythos now.
 
Eurorails. This was a big surprise, but a pleasant one, which takes advantage of her obsession with maps and non-confrontational gameplay. In Eurorails, you have a train and a wipe off (plastic based) crayon. Each turn you build track by actually drawing onto the board (shock horror to a large part of my psyche) and paying costs depending on where you have drawn (prices are different to cross rivers, build into mountains or towns etc). As you build, you are trying to build a continent spanning network of track to enable you to deliver goods for profit.
Two player Eurorails played nicely is a friendly race to £250,000,000 (or dollars or euros!). With the so called “honeymoon rules” designed for two competitive players it can get vicious and blocktastic. Epic playing time here, but tempered by a virtually immediate set up and optional faster trains. I got Empire Builder (i.e. North American Rails) as well for a little variety and was given the fantasy version Iron Dragon as a thank you for hosting the world’s first semi-co-operative pub quiz night at London On Board. I’m sorry to say I think Iron Dragon is the wrong side of arcane for us with its orcs and fictional location, but I may pick up British Rails at some point (after my 10x100 plays are done) to continue the love.
 
Code 777. Totally logic based, non-confrontational, brain melting fun. Through a series of standard questions you have to work out what the three numbers on your rack are based on what you can see on your opponent’s racks. She really likes it, I have to be in the mood for its virtually silent, thoughtful nature and it relies on all the questions being answered correctly or the whole thing falls down.
 
Of the games in the 10:100 list, she will only play Mah Jong and Mr Jack readily and perhaps Puzzle Strike or Small World if in the mood, but every game session is a pleasure in any case.
 
That said, I have an inkling she may play Twilight Struggle… nah, probably not.
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Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:25 pm
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