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Mike's Game Ramblings

Some of my current thoughts on tabletop gaming.

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Confessions and a change in direction

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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This past summer I had the idea of selling off large parts of my collection (in particular, games that I purchases for solo-only). And then using that money to buy a good to great tablet and getting a bunch of boardgame apps and play on there instead of my solo games.

Well this Christmas I got my wife an iPad and, based on what I had already invested in the Android world, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. And I was shocked how many boardgame apps I already had in Android (thanks Humble Bundle!). So here I am, months later, and plenty of plays in electronic board games. I have as of yet to start the mini-purge but that it next.

I'm a little sad... I like the physicality of board games but can't get the audience to play many that I'm interested in. And I don't have the time to really dedicate to full games. Or even the space -- for example, I don't have a place where I can leave Mage Knight out for a few days and give it a turn every now and then. And then there is the actual cost -- the app is always cheaper.

Furthermore I shouldn't be complaining -- I'm now in a fairly consistent monthly game group, and I'm in the midst of a Risk Legacy campaign with co-workers (in which I'm doing poorly but is still a blast). It's Feb 21 and I have had 49 plays so far this year. Almost one play per day... not bad. I also raised my h-index score this past week from a (physical) play of Friday.

But I have more I want to play. The apps are helping scratch that annoying "play more" itch. I don't have to setup anything, just open the app and go. I can do this sitting with my wife on the couch while she has an inane show on TV. If I was in another room, I'd be in trouble with her. But sitting next to her, playing the Patchwork or Star Realms apps seems to be ok.

I don't want to leave analog gaming, particularly solo gaming, but it is seeming difficult. I have games I want to play and created the means how.
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Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:28 am
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Ramblings...

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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I thought I have updated this in August... and yet it seems that I haven't. Hrm. I must do better...

Anyway my 10x10 is blown -- not enough time/energy for solo games and my usual gaming partner (my now-13 yr old daughter) doesn't have time. And gaming with my 7 yr old can be tedious (but that is getting better). And yet now I feel better about my gaming life than I have all year.

I taught my son Stratego which he liked but obviously he couldn't get the tactics of it. I knew he would like moving the pieces around and he understood the lower and higher numbers bit. But, since I've been playing more modern games, I dislike setting up the pieces, deciding what should go where (though I understand that is part of the fun for him).

I also got out The Magic Labyrinth, which is also his style and fits my preference for more "modern" gaming. Yeah you have to build the maze before you play but you can use that maze a few different times if you play more than one game. He loves mazes so it was no surprise he liked it. He also likes Minotaurus a lot, so we play that. Not as fun for me as him (and he also cheats a bit on that... something I don't want to stand for).

I also have the beginnings of a game group going. We've met sporadically but now want to work on getting it monthly (we'd all love it more often but aren't sure that will happen). We meet at Spielbound and last week we played Quadropolis and Lanterns: The Harvest Festival. I found Quadropolis fun but complicated and Lanterns really fun but more cutthroat than at first appearance (this is not a bad thing).

All that to note - for the first time a few years I'm getting back in the Thrifty Christmas Exchange. Even though I haven't thrifted much this year (thrifting games is terrible in Omaha) I'm participating again. It was a lot of fun the first time I did it and I'm pleased that my target may actually want something that I have. That said, I'm also really happy when my target got me games they thought I would like.
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Mon Nov 7, 2016 7:20 pm
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June update -- and most of July

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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Hey it's the end of July and I'm making a June update... well, I got to keep my three readers happy!

June has been my best game month thus far this year. Couple a trip to the lake (where we play games at night) and another trip to Spielbound, our game cafe, I got some good plays in.


One of those games from the game cafe was Indigo, which my daughter and I both thoroughly enjoyed. I guess we both enjoyed it so much that it showed up as my Father's Day gift. My family really gets me.... it has gotten 6 plans in the last month, which is a pretty good feat for us.

I also had a little Solo-con where I played my new copy of Mage Knight Board Game. Oh. My. The things said about this game are all true -- it's complicated, the rules are dense, you will get things wrong, and it's an amazing game!

I'll do July now too.... Because it's almost over.

We had a 2 week vacation at the beginning of the month. Sometimes we play games, sometimes we don't. Anyway we played Monopoly Deal Card Game for the first time in a long time. Yeah I know it's a Monopoly variant but it's not bad... it's more of a take-that game with a set collection mechanic so, in that way, it's nothing like Monopoly.

Also stayed with some friends and the husband is a gamer, so we got in 7 Wonders and Splendor. I also got out IOTA, which I recently purchased. IOTA is an interesting game -- it seems like a small clone of Qwirkle but it also has quite a few elements of SET (a game I am not good at all) and IOTA is ultra-portable. It was fun.

Stats:

0.8 plays/day. Not quite to my goal, but honestly not as bad as I thought I would be.

10/10 results, thus far:

Splendor 9
Star Realms 9
DC Comics Deck-Building Game 7
Hive 7
Spot it! 7
Ticket to Ride 7
Indigo 6
Sleeping Queens 5
Zulus on the Ramparts! 5


Only 5 from the Five-and-Dime list in May and now we have nine! Things are looking up!
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Fri Jul 22, 2016 4:53 pm
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Apr/May 2016 update

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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Yeah I know I said I was going to blog more often and then April and May got away from me. Non-game life was busy. But hey I'm keeping on and will update both April and May...

April

One of my most pathetic play months in a long time. I tried to get my daughter into Star Realms and she beat me a couple of times, but was not interested in playing more. I also played San Juan for the first time in a while and still really enjoy that game.

My highlight is probably a few solo scenarios of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous – Base Set. I do enjoy it but it would be hard to get it out with the kids around(esp my 6 yr old).

Only 11 total plays in April. Pathetic.

May

May wasn't a ton better than April. But I did take my daughter to the local game cafe named Spielbound. Highlight were

Patchwork -- we played this twice in a row, and then we got the app when we got home (we like the cardboard version a lot better)

Jenga -- I didn't know my daughter was a fan of Jenga but she is. I don't mind it...better than most dexterity games.


On another trip Spielbound with some friends we played Stone Age. I hadn't played it before but once I got the flow, I really liked it.

Only 20 total plays in May.

Number of plays for 2016 as of the end of May: 113
Plays per Day: 0.74 (oy)

10x10 as of the end of May:

Splendor 8
DC Comics Deck-Building Game 7
Hive 7
Ticket to Ride 7
Zulus on the Ramparts! 5


This is not good... but June is already looking up! But you have to wait for that update.
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Mon Jun 13, 2016 4:24 pm
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March 2016 Review

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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I'm a week behind, which is better than not doing it at all.

I look back at March and think of it as a gaming dry spell -- not much happened in my brain. But I look at my stats -- 31 plays! One a day average! Not high enough to my 1.1 games/day but the best so far.

I keep having thoughts about hobby gaming has (or needs) a certain type of discipline. I mean, it's not like mountain climbing with breaking in new boots or making sure you are in shape for your next climb, but it's also about putting TV away and making time to play a few games... I may write more as my thoughts form more fully.

Most Played Games:

Ticket to Ride -- my wife and I continued our online games against each other. It's the only way she'll play (not as fidgety with parts... hard to disagree with that). We are sitting on the same couch as we play so I count the play.

DC Comics Deck-Building Game -- quite a few solo games, some solo, others with my son and one with one my game-lunch crew. I really like it solo and it's not bad with a co-op variant (how I play with my son).

I hope to start putting up some plays with Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Battle for Faerûn and Zulus on the Ramparts! in April. And I got my daughter playing Star Realms with me (and beating me soundly).

Interestingly played a game of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles – Base Set with a couple of people. They weren't impressed but I think I would like it as a one-person RPG. It's been on my list for a bit and maybe it will be my purchase.


2016 goals?

1 10/10 Challenge: Splendor at 8, Hive at 7, Ticket to Ride, at 7, I think I'm in good shape

2 Increase h-index: still at 15 but I think I can get it up there. Playing Ticket to Ride and Star Realms won't help this but DC Deck Building will!

3 Starting to branch out more... still haven't found my niche in what I want to play.
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Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:08 pm
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February 2016 Review

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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Overall more games and more games/day, but my average for 2016 so far is 0.81 games/day... I have a long way to go to get to 1.1

Played some games of Splendor at the beginning of the month. I've learned that I'm not very good... my daughter has won most of them.

I also finally got in some games of Zulus on the Ramparts! which I have enjoyed immensely. To me, it seems like it would be long and drawn-out game but that is certainly not true. It's tense and it feels like you are getting nowhere... and then the Night Fall event hits and you are halfway through.

I also played Hive with a friend of mine and I like it so much I got it for myself. I figured could teach the kids easier than Chess or Go (though I do want to teach them Go).

And thanks to the Solo Guild I've been playing a few games of Utopia Engine: Beast Hunter. It's insanely hard for me, but it's quick (especially how I play) and fun. I recently laminated a it and hope that and a dice app on my phone will help play on the run or "in emergencies". The same goes for Austerity which I've played a bit too, and haven't done well.

I also found a good deal at a big box store for DC Comics Deck-Building Game. The reviews are mixed but the 2 simple games with my son reveal is a lighter deck builder but it has some depth. I want to get a good solo game s or three in it before I really make up my mind.

2016 goals?

1 10/10 Challenge: Splendor at 8, Hive at 5, Austerity at 3. I think I'm in good shape

2 Increase h-index: still at 15, but I think it may switch this month.

3 I need to get my old games out that I play. It means I need to stop buying to so many.,....
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Mon Mar 7, 2016 9:44 pm
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Review of January 2016

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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Didn't I say I was going to blog more often? Well once a month is more often than once every three years.

Some highlights of January:

1 Not as many plays as I planned and fewer solo games than I would have liked. The beginning of Jan was busy. That said, I logged 23 plays in January... that's not shabby.

2 I showed my daughter Splendor (again) last week and played six times that week. I'm not tired of playing it, but I'm tired of losing to her.

3 A co-worker has 7 Wonders Duel and we played a few times. Great little game... but, again I'm tired of losing.

4 Kids also got into King of Tokyo which has been great.

5 My son, who is only six and a half, wanted to play Monopoly so I relented. Well it turned out he's very clever with numbers. He knew how to make $26 out the bills he had in front of them, for example, as well as telling me how to do it. I've been thinking that he was ready for Small World and decided to try it. And he did very well... oh, he won both games.

6 I found a copy of Zulus on the Ramparts! at a used book store. See my post on the SGoyT about it.


How about my 2016 goals?

1 10/10 Challenge: Splendor has 6 plays and 7 Wonders: Duel has 3. Not bad

2 Increase h-index: should be easy if I keep playing Splendor.

3 Zulus on the Ramparts! Though I need to get it to the table (soon!).

4 Well, I'm writing this post, aren't I?
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Mon Feb 1, 2016 9:44 pm
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2016 is a coming....

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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Huh, it's been 2.5 years since I put anything here. It's not like I haven't been on BGG (I probably log in at least 2 times per day, usually 2x/hour) and the link to this blog has sat in my Quickbar, unclicked, the whole time.

But I've been busy -- and active. My collection has grown, my tastes are different, and I've been more active on BGG. Guilds, Forums, you name it...

In the last year I've been active on the 1 Player guild which is filled with the nicest, most social group of loners you can imagine finding (and that's a compliment). They have led me down into the ways of Solo Gaming, which I have enjoyed in the past year.

Last week someone on the Guild put up a thread on New Year's Resolutions. I said, "Buy Less and Play More" which it what I've been saying for years. I'm not very good at the former but this year was good for the latter. I did have a couple of gaming goals for this year and I've met both of them:

1 Complete the 10/10 Normal Challenge
2 Have at least 365 Game play (i.e. average over 1 play/day)

Doing these two goals changes my game playing for the better this year -- I found new love for older games I had, I played different styles of games, and tried lots of solo options. In February (again, because of the 1 Player Guild) I found the Decktet, which has become my most portable solo gaming option. Some great games in one deck!

I've played a lot of Harbour and Star Realms. Heck I played Star Realms more than anything else this year!

But this post isn't really about 2015 but 2016. What are my gaming goals for 2016? I'm stretching out a little but they aren:

1 Complete the 10/10 Normal Challenge -- I think this is a good one to just keep year after year. It helps me focus on re-playing than cult of the new
2 Increase my h-index score by 2 -- I don't know if that is aggressive or not. Again, it will get me to replay games but not replay games I've already played a lot (a la Star Realms and Dominion)
3 Buy more expensive, deeper games. Yeah that's a weird one but here me out. I have a sweet spot for games that take 15-30 minutes that cost about $20. If they drop under $20, it's an automatic buy. And sometimes I play them. If I set a minimum of, say, $25, I'd be more careful about what I buy and get deeper games. Cuz I have plenty of medium ones!
4 Keep this blog going. I like to blog but don't do well on my personal one. I spend a lot of time on BGG and thinking about games so this seems like a good spot to start talking about them now.

So hold on for more ramblings.....
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Fri Dec 4, 2015 9:23 pm
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Boardgames That Androids Play

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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I don't have a normal gaming group -- I play mostly with my daughter, sometimes my wife (she's picky about games), and often play Dominion with my co-workers. But sometimes, I'm alone -- it's lunch time and I want to play something. Or I want to see if game X is any good and trying it the electronic version is always a cheaper way to try it out -- though I agree it's not the same.

We have an iPad at home and I have Small World, Ticket to Ride, and San Juan for iOS. But, frankly, I don't have access to it very much time. Generally I get to use it before I leave for work in the morning. Otherwise I have to wrestle it out of the hands of my wife and kids . . .I generally refer to it as a "theirPad" because I don't usually get to use it.

I have an Android phone and, for me, Android is a better platform. I don't really want to get into the holy war over mobile platforms . . What I'm looking for are good boardgames that have good implementations on Android. Even better for things I can play on my phone instead of my tablet, but if you give me enough reasons for me to get a tablet, even better.

Just to give you an example on how serious I am -- I backed the Small World 2 kickstarter just so they would make an Android version, even though I don't have an Android tablet to play on (and I'm sure it won't play on a phone). I want Android to have boardgame apps and am not afraid to pay for good ones.

What I play now:

Condado -- an implementation of San Juan. The graphics are primitive but the AI's are decent. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kevinquan....

Androminion -- an implementation of Dominion and all the expansions. The graphics are just as primitive as Condado but the AI's are seemingly random in what they do. Not to say I win every game. What is nice about it is that Dominion Shuffle interfaces into it. You can choose random decks in Dominion Shuffle and play them in Androminion. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mehtank.an... https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.spellenclub...

Carcassonne -- not as good at the iOS implementation, but not bad either. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.exozet.gam...

Ingenious -- My most recent purchase and it is really well done. And plays well on my phone. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.massivespa...

Catan Dice -- I don't like this as well. Maybe I simply don't know how to play it well, but the highlighted choices aren't always clear. But it's free, so it's hard to complain. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ridgelinea...

I haven't played Catan (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.exozet.and...), mostly because it may not work well on my old Android phone (I get an upgrade in January). But it's by the same developer as Ingenious so I may give it a shot.

So what are you recommendations for boardgames clones on Android?


Edit I stumbled onto a GeekList that pretty much finds everything I was wanting to find out. Android versions of actual boardgames
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Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:07 pm
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Dominion Can Dominate

Mike Hostetler
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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I learned to play Dominion at my last employer and even asked for the base set for Christmas one year, and got it. And then I switched jobs, and none of my new team were game players. Well, they were geeks and fit the prototype but none of them were hard-core players like at my last job. I wouldn't call myself hard-core either, but I certainly have a list of games that I like to play and games that I want to play.

So, then, I asked my three other team members if were interested in playing Dominion sometime over lunch this winter. I got some shrugs and I brought in the Base set one Friday. I set out the recommended First Game, explained the mechanics, did a sample couple of turns and we were off. I won but everyone had a good time. The next time I asked it they were interested, I got a solid "Yes!" This time we played with Witches and I barely came unscathed.

The next week, I was asked if we could play it. And we did a random game, and I presently got my butt handed to me a on a silver platter. Since then, Dominion has been played over lunch at least twice a month, if not every week. And then I found out that two of my co-workers have purchased the Base set, and one purchased Intrigue. I have purchased Seaside as well.

We even brought it to a work conference, to play in our downtime. Much to the dismay of our boss, who said things like, "You need to go out and enjoy the nightlife!" We said, "We're nerds and don't like to spend time with people all the time."

This is how Dominion can dominate.
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Fri May 10, 2013 10:05 pm
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