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Subject: Geek of the Week: Brian Bankler (Bankler) rss

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Randall Peek
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My week is (thankfully) up, so I am turning the reins of the Geek of the Week moniker over to the very deserving Brian Bankler. Brian has made his gaming name from his well-considered reviews done for his own Tao of Gaming website, as well as several other webzines and magazines. Brian may not be as prolific a game reviewer as Tom Vasel but his reviews are equal to Tom's in attention to detail, while taking a somewhat more cerebral tone to Tom's enthusiasm.

Here's what Brian has to say about himself;
Quote:

So, about me.

Unlike most people here, I was a shy, smart and vaguely unathletic type growing up. In high school I played chess and debated, which I considered a free-form game. (I still do, I suppose). In college I gave up Chess for Bridge, and started playing more board games, things like Illuminati, Wiz War, Junta and Cosmic Encounter.

At the time, I knew that working for a living was a bum's game, so I went to grad school and discovered our games. This was during the birth of the WWW, so I started maintaining the game club's pages and putting up content and discussing games on r.g.b. Ever since, I've been playing and discussing games for my own entertainment.

In my spare time, my children attempt to raise me. So far they have failed, which I attribute to their youth and inexperience.


I would also like to refer readers to his reviews here on the Geek, bumbering in excess of 150 at last count...

I would like to first ask Brian the requisite question to get things going. Brian, would you please tell us two truths and one lie?

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Yehuda Berlinger
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Hey, Brian. What's up?

"Tao of Gaming"? Is that anything like "Tao of Pooh"?

Yehuda
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Brian Bankler
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RandallPeek wrote:
Brian, would you please tell us two truths and one lie?


1) I've been asked off a plane, only to find myself confronted with TSA representatives demanding to know what I'm reading. (I believe this is related to an unfortunate incident involving a copy of "Pass the Bomb" that occurred pre 9/11).

2) I've been attacked by a robot. Fortunately, the robot was built for zero-G environments and the system that compensates for earth's gravity kept it from hitting me.

3) During a meeting where I was advising on a large takeover attempt, I left early to make sure I got to Just Games (in London) before it closed. Not only did I make it, I wasn't reprimanded.
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Brian Bankler
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Shade_Jon wrote:
Hey, Brian. What's up?

"Tao of Gaming"? Is that anything like "Tao of Pooh"?

Yehuda


"Caylus excels in benefitting the myriad of creatures without contending with them, and settles where none would like to be. It comes closest to the Way." -- Lao Tze, Tao Te Ching. [Some translations say he was talking about water.]

I just like the sound of the thing. (Tao, not Pooh). It's memorable.
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Brian Bankler
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Actually, there's another reason behind Tao. Despite my penchant for analysis, when I'm actually playing games, I don't analyze deeply. I can count out situations, but I typically don't. I'm lazy. [That's one of the reasons I'll never be better than mediocre at bridge]. So I play by intuition, for the most part.

Now, when I'm not gaming, I analyze things more deeply. So my intuition is backed up by analysis, in a way. After all, what is intuition but a gut understanding? So the Tao of Gaming is, in a way, my gut feeling about games (strategy, etc). "The Tao that can be explained is not the true Tao" and all that.
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Tom Hilgert
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Hi Brian,

After Steffan you are another one I know personally . Some one with a great wife (regards to Jacqui). I´m still in your debt for teaching me UP FRONT two years ago . You are also on my Geek Buddy list because I think that we have a very similiar taste on games and its always fun to play with you a game a the GoF. I hope you can show me next year the good things about L5R.

So I only have one question (which is interesting for me as an European)

What is so much better to live in Texas than in the rest of the USA

Regards

Tom
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Brian Bankler
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montsegur wrote:
Hi Brian,

After Steffan you are another one I know personally . Some one with a great wife (regards to Jacqui). I´m still in your debt for teaching me UP FRONT two years ago . You are also on my Geek Buddy list because I think that we have a very similiar taste on games and its always fun to play with you a game a the GoF. I hope you can show me next year the good things about L5R.

So I only have one question (which is interesting for me as an European)

What is so much better to live in Texas than in the rest of the USA

Regards

Tom


Historians will refer to this post as "The one that engulfed the innernet."

Texas combines the joys of civilization, such as barbeque, with the primal factions of nature. For example, insects. Up north, insects are viewed as small annoying creatures. Down here, ants are treated with the awe and fear of a mongol horde. You play wargames, we live them. Chemical weapons, check! Offensives, counter offensives, feints, limited intelligence, fog of war? We've got it all! And that's just ants. People in New England talk about battling nature, and snowstorms (and hurricanes) kill, but they aren't actually malevolent. For that you need insects. And as for weather, a friend of the family's brand new car recently lost a battle with 1,000 hailstones. Snowstorms may kill you, but the corpse will be identifiable. Tornados leave no evidence.

I've always said about San Antonio that is "a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit." All of our tourist attractions are, in fact, tourist traps. (The possible exception of the spanish missions. If you are really, really into adobe). The river walk? Someone just left a garden hose on. [Here's a hint. Anytime you can re-route some water through the lobby of the hotel because they asked you to, not because of a natural disaster, that water does not deserve the title of 'river']. But as cons go, Texas is an honest con. We tell lies, but we'll wink while we do it. And smile. We don't believe our own B.S. In America, that's a nice change of pace, and people appreciate it. Truth be told, that's just like the rest of the south, but they're too polite to mention it.

We've got twice as much space as Germany, but only a quarter of the people. We've got big cities and towns so small they only have one salt lick. As a kid, I've had cattle staring in watching us eat breakfast (while they ate our bushes). In fact, there are some horses and cattle walking distance from my house. They're probably moving, as apartments get built. I doubt they're going far. So if you want big cities, we've got it, and if you want middle sized, we've got it. And if you want dust bowl, that's just a few minutes down the road.

And, its cheap (as those things go).

We're entering summer, also referred to as "Hot damn." I got back from Columbus at 6pm and it was 91 degrees. In April. On the plus side, you can swim at christmas. We've got Americas Team (even though they suck), one of the three good basketball teams in the country, a ten day fiesta we couldn't think of a name for (so it's just 'fiesta').

Actually, when it comes to places in America, we're a cypher. A mirage. Wipe the sweat from your brow and the myth of Texas fades in the dust. We're all hat and no cattle. We're the tale of the Arabian nights, with guacamole. Our billionaires have blogs. Or gigantic trials that bore accountants to tears. Even by the mongrol standards of the US, we're a strange, diverse bunch. California may have Der Governator, but we've got Kinky. [NB. My brother had Kinky as a camp counsellor, I think. He certainly knows him from when he went to camp].

We've got great people, and wonderful places. But we don't like to brag.
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Joe Huber

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Bankler wrote:
I've always said about San Antonio that is "a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit." All of our tourist attractions are, in fact, tourist traps. (The possible exception of the spanish missions. If you are really, really into adobe). The river walk? Someone just left a garden hose on.


Now, Fiesta Texas isn't (wasn't?) a bad little amusement park - it's been a while, but it had some good shows and a decent collection of rides.

OK, one question, as long as I'm here - what children's games would you consider playing with only adults at the table?

Joe (who has an ever increasing number of in-laws in San Antonio)
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Brian Bankler
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huber wrote:

Now, Fiesta Texas isn't (wasn't?) a bad little amusement park - it's been a while, but it had some good shows and a decent collection of rides.

OK, one question, as long as I'm here - what children's games would you consider playing with only adults at the table?

Joe (who has an ever increasing number of in-laws in San Antonio)


Oh Fiesta Texas isn't bad at all. It's much better for locals, since the cost for a summer pass is only $5-10 more than for a day pass. I have no specific reason for disliking it. (OK, the ad campaign gives me the crawling creeps, and the last time we went a few weeks ago there was a convention of 6-10 year old cheerleaders. Which is also creepy).

As for the "Kid's games I've played with adults." Well, Maus nach Haus. (I only quote Happy Gilmour when kids aren't around). Karombolage. D&D Fantasy Forest (or whatever it's called) by TSR. Now that my daughter is six I feel I no longer have to suffer and we play standard BGG games (Ticket to Ride, Anno 1503, Settlers).

And I think "Ever increasing" must be hyperbole. I mean, it can only increase so far. Zero. One. Two.
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Randall Peek
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Bankler wrote:

Oh Fiesta Texas isn't bad at all. It's much better for locals, since the cost for a summer pass is only $5-10 more than for a day pass. I have no specific reason for disliking it. (OK, the ad campaign gives me the crawling creeps, and the last time we went a few weeks ago there was a convention of 6-10 year old cheerleaders. Which is also creepy).


I can most definitely relate to the creepiness of those underage cheerleaders. The last time Kasey and I were at Six Flags Magic Mountain, the place was as infested with little cheerleaders as Texas is infested with insects. Passing by the Showcase Theater where they were competing, one could hardly breathe due to the cloying cloud of hairspray and glitter engulfing the teams waiting to perform. Kasey got tired of the long lines for rides and sat in the theater to watch them for an hour or so, and when I returned to her, she had an absolutely hilarious impression she did of the cheerleaders going through their stock litany of facial expressions. It was one of the funniest things I have seen in my entire life...
Oh, yeah. For the most part they performed to the most insipid techno music you ever heard. It was like their coaches had no idea what techno is and just grabbed the first album at the music store that had that word in its title. And most of them picked the SAME ALBUM...
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Simon W.
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Well, I'll be the first from the little, "ever increasing" SA gaming group to congratulate you officially, Brian. We are all clearly dwarfs in your giant-like gaming presence. Hell, I didn't even know what the Gathering of Friends was until a couple weeks ago but was (un)fortunately quickly informed.

It's always a pleasure to game with you and your wife...even the times when I must forcibly keep myself from falling into the hypnotic trance inducing fuchsia orgy that is My Little Pony on DVD (put on to keep the kiddies busy).

I suppose I'll ask you a few questions as these things go to keep you a bit busy. Then, I'll ask them again at our next gaming session and cross reference for accuracy (with modifiers and die bonuses):

What's your favorite couples game?
Is Knizia really all that great?
How tall do you suppose Alan Moon is?
If games were music, which would be your guilty pleasure of a Madonna's single snuck into the tape deck when the wife's out?
And finally, what's up with throwing out all the box inserts?

In all seriousness, I think we all appreciate the insight and background you bring to our cheery little club and wish you continued success and happiness...or whatever this obsession of a hobby gives us all (debt and less closet space?).

Best Regards, Simon W.
saboardgamers.blogspot.com

P.S. Texas is exactly like everywhere else except here we measure distances in hours, have local news coverage of high school football, and use the word 'coke' as a ubiquitous replacement for soft drink. Oh and that whole unhealthy predilection toward large stuff thing.
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Steffan O'Sullivan
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Bankler wrote:
People in New England talk about battling nature, and snowstorms (and hurricanes) kill, but they aren't actually malevolent. For that you need insects.

Why don't you come visit northern New England during black fly and mosquito season, and we'll talk about insects then.

So, I have a request: funny stories about kids and games!

And a question or two: will any of your game designs ever make it into print?

What games from your Pittsburgh days are you still playing?

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Joe Huber

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Bankler wrote:
Oh Fiesta Texas isn't bad at all. It's much better for locals, since the cost for a summer pass is only $5-10 more than for a day pass. I have no specific reason for disliking it. (OK, the ad campaign gives me the crawling creeps, and the last time we went a few weeks ago there was a convention of 6-10 year old cheerleaders. Which is also creepy).


Ooh - yes, agreed on the second point. I haven't seen the ad campaign, but if it's the standard Six Flags ad, understood entirely.

Quote:
As for the "Kid's games I've played with adults." Well, Maus nach Haus. (I only quote Happy Gilmour when kids aren't around). Karombolage. D&D Fantasy Forest (or whatever it's called) by TSR. Now that my daughter is six I feel I no longer have to suffer and we play standard BGG games (Ticket to Ride, Anno 1503, Settlers).


Isn't it a nice feeling? Though I know my sons still inveigh against a total absence of "their" games...

Quote:
And I think "Ever increasing" must be hyperbole. I mean, it can only increase so far. Zero. One. Two.


Well, I'm up to five siblings-in-law, four of them with spouses, and thirteen nieces & nephews (plus one niece's spouse). By the end of next month my mother-in-law will be there as well, and great-nieces and/or nephews aren't much further out. Still hyperbole, I suppose, but there's already enough to get group rates to Fiesta Texas...

OK, one more question - I'd be curious about your opinion on the usefulness of the gate in Caylus, how much (if any) the provost annoys you, and your feeling on the limitations on choices the game imposes. I suppose I could get any of these from your ever growing library on the game, but when it comes to reading about a game I'm not fond of I'm far too lazy... snore

Joe
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congrats on getting geek of the week. our times on bsw have been fun, and i hope to make it on more often this summer.

i totally understand the attitude of playing intuitively because of laziness/short attention span , because i am exactly the same way. do you think that german-style games tend to accomodate this personality in particular? how do you feel about playing with people who are the opposite way? and how does this correlate in your mind to competitiveness and taking a game seriously, and what are your thoughts on the comparative values of these two general attitudes within the context of multiplayer games?

i also have a high regard for bridge - i really got into it for a couple months over a year ago, but then my interest dissipated as i hit the glass ceiling of not having a partner to consistently play with. i hope to someday get someone else motivated enough to make the investment with me. how have you fared in this regard? do you have any other thoughts of interest on the subject?

so is caylus better than puerto rico? i haven't been playing caylus on bsw much lately, but the little that i have has been relatively disappointing as the game is becoming a little dry for me.








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Brian Leet
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I'm greatly amused that your answer regarding Texas hardly made it seem an attractive place to live to me. I'll stick with green mountains over brown flatlands any day.

Steffan already beat me to the Pittsburgh question, so I'll ask you regarding your viewpoint on game reviews.

When writing game reviews do you have any overarching objective?

Do you deliberately look for the unusual game or the different angle, or do you just make observation on what comes before you?

I've found that your game reviews have a different feel than many, and I'm just curious about pinning down where that comes from.

One other question:
Do you think having children has changed the way you view games and play in general?

Thanks, and those of us in New England hope you continue to manage to break free from the obviously intoxicating (or perhaps drugged?) air of Texas from time to time and come to points north.
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Brian Bankler
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Insertcleverthing wrote:

What's your favorite couples game?
Is Knizia really all that great?
How tall do you suppose Alan Moon is?
If games were music, which would be your guilty pleasure of a Madonna's single snuck into the tape deck when the wife's out?
And finally, what's up with throwing out all the box inserts?


I'm not sure what couples games are. Jacqui and I don't routinely play two player games. Perhaps we should, but usually by the time the kids go to sleep one or both are exhausted, so we'll just watch a movie. If you mean "games that non-gaming wives enjoy," I'm partial to celebrities (aka Time's Up).

I've never met Knizia. His games are pretty good, but I can understand the 'dry' comment. He works at his designs, though, and can both innovate and strip a game down to a nice minimum.

Alans a bit taller than I am, I think, but not too tall.

First of all, let's put Madonna away. You are talking to someone who suffered a mild heart attack when I realized that Sting had written a Johnny Cash song ("I hung my head"). Sting. But the guilty game pleasure ... not many people like Shadowfist, I suppose it could count. I've had a weakness for Live Action Role Playing, but haven't done that in ages. (I almost put in a story about that in my two truths and a lie). I'm a gaming gourmand. Lots of stuff. (No werewolf, though. And now I discover that Michael is inflicting that on our monday night group.)
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Brian Bankler
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sos1 wrote:

So, I have a request: funny stories about kids and games!

And a question or two: will any of your game designs ever make it into print?

What games from your Pittsburgh days are you still playing?

I'll pass on the funny for now. It's late.

In order for my games to make print, I'd have to submit them. I don't think most of them are ready, although I suppose one has been ready for a few years. I guess I should pull it out and polish it. I have tinkered with two designs over the last year, but they lack.

I still play settlers (with my daughter, mainly). And Bridge. And Colossal Arena (aka Titan: The Arena). Acquire. Rette Sich Werr Kann. Celebrities. Fast Food Franchise. All of them played in Pgh (I believe) and all of them played in the last year.
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Brian Bankler
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huber wrote:

OK, one more question - I'd be curious about your opinion on the usefulness of the gate in Caylus, how much (if any) the provost annoys you, and your feeling on the limitations on choices the game imposes. I suppose I could get any of these from your ever growing library on the game, but when it comes to reading about a game I'm not fond of I'm far too lazy... snore
Joe


The gate is useful, although more so in games with fewer players. I did use it once in a recent five player game, though. The provost doesn't annoy me. Actually figuring out how it will work in a 3-5 player game is one of the driving forces, and it involves psychology (if you aren't going to have negotiations, which I dislike in this game) and gut feelings. (The "Tao"). Caylus is essentially an operational game. This or That. Here or There. It's restrictive, but freeform. I like the idea that buildings, once built are not owned. I just find it innovative.

By the way, I have now gone almost two weeks without playing a game. (I didn't play anything online for the week after the gathering, until I finally tried Thurm und Taxis yesterday on BSW).
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Brian Bankler
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i totally understand the attitude of playing intuitively because of laziness/short attention span , because i am exactly the same way. do you think that german-style games tend to accomodate this personality in particular? how do you feel about playing with people who are the opposite way? and how does this correlate in your mind to competitiveness and taking a game seriously, and what are your thoughts on the comparative values of these two general attitudes within the context of multiplayer games?
[/q]

Well, the introduction of luck (as compared to, say Chess) and generally faster play help. Many of the games can be played at a deeper level, but don't require it. For instance, I suspect that Antike would be good at a deeper level, but I'm not willing to do it.

I don't have a problem with people who want to get every nuance out of a game, if. they. aren't. slow. I've played games with strong players who'll play quickly, and then just toss out possible variations in the post mortem. That's fine. And I understand playing slow if it's your first time. But I harbor deep suspicions about people who agonize over moves in relatively light games. One of the nice things about many Euros is that nobody feels they require (or deserve) minutes per move.
verandi wrote:

i also have a high regard for bridge - i really got into it for a couple months over a year ago, but then my interest dissipated as i hit the glass ceiling of not having a partner to consistently play with. i hope to someday get someone else motivated enough to make the investment with me. how have you fared in this regard? do you have any other thoughts of interest on the subject?

Well, I started sporadically again. I was playing on OKBridge last year, but my moving timezones has hurt my set game. I've played at the local club a few times, but it's an evening with fees, whereas boardgaming is an evening without them, and with people closer in age/demographics. Bridge players are nice, but being one of only 2-3 people under fifty is somewhat disconcerting.

verandi wrote:

so is caylus better than puerto rico? i haven't been playing caylus on bsw much lately, but the little that i have has been relatively disappointing as the game is becoming a little dry for me.

Caylus is different than Puerto Rico, although I think that people who like one will like both. Caylus does deal with a few issues that PR had (such as seating order affecting things). I'm definitely slowing down my play, but any game that reaches 100+ plays (even if the bulk of them are online) gets a pass in my book. I've almost fifty games of PR face to face, and I haven't even dabbled with the expansion much. I'm looking forward to the rumoured next expansion, although I have no idea what it is.
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Brian Bankler
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PghArch wrote:
I'm greatly amused that your answer regarding Texas hardly made it seem an attractive place to live to me. I'll stick with green mountains over brown flatlands any day.

The last thing I need is more neighbors (although I'd make an exception for you and Rebecca), so I made sure to chat up the insects. Texas has green, but that's East Texas, which I didn't cover due to space limitations.
PghArch wrote:

When writing game reviews do you have any overarching objective?

Do you deliberately look for the unusual game or the different angle, or do you just make observation on what comes before you?

I've found that your game reviews have a different feel than many, and I'm just curious about pinning down where that comes from.

I write when I want to say something. The nice part of a blog is that it handles the routine stuff. (I used to code my pages by hand, for the most part). The downside is the tyranny of the "Last updated on." When I started writing reviews, the community of reviewers was smaller and I'd sometimes "scoop" the internet [or, more often, be second]. But over the last 5+ years, that's not really an issue (thanks to the geek, Rick Thornquist, Tom Vasel, etc etc). So now I just write whatever interests me, although I'll mention what I've played and random thoughts.

Actually, I think reviewers should post what they've played. It helped me realize that there are a lot of games I like in theory that I never played. Anyone reading Westbank Gamers (or East Tennessee Gamers) gets a feel for Greg's tastes from the session reports, and can judge reviews accordingly.

As for objectives ... well, it depends. Sometimes it's just a mechanical, here's the game. Since I'm not first or second these days, I can often dispense with that. I'm more interested in the "Why does this work?" or "Why doesn't it?" You can diagram sentences all you want, but that will never tell you why some speeches rouse nations, or calm passions. Grammer is necessary, but not sufficient. The same with reviews.

"Game X uses mechanics A, B and C and then players score via D" may be enough to warn the reader off. That's a valuable service (and many of my reviews, especially early ones, do little else), but it doesn't point out the gem. I can assert "This is a gem." And there's nothing wrong with that, but the reader must take my word for it. Why is it a gem? That's the real question.

I'm many ways, we're still finding the language. Mainly, that's because this is still a hobby. If the NYT pays me to write criticism, I'll work on my formal theories more. But for now, I just mull over the "Why do I like War of the Ring?" and write until I think I've figured it out.

And, lets face it, criticism (positive and negative) can be fun. Several years ago a writer at the LAT (I believe) won the pulitzer for criticism for his writing about cars. A sample quote I heard -- "Driving the new X is a religious experience. Sadly, that religion is lutheranism." That's good writing, even though I really don't care about cars. I'd love to be gaming's Bill James, but my writing needs work. I've settled for being somewhat amusing.

PghArch wrote:

One other question:
Do you think having children has changed the way you view games and play in general?

Well, I now own many games that I never would have owned without them. Not just kids games, but Anno 1503. And I'm more likely to get high luck games, because I can play them without having to do any weird self-handicapping or slight of hand. But for the most part, I don't think it's changed too much. My kids mostly want to go swimming, or play outside. They're kids, so they're off in twelve directions at once.
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Mike Siggins
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Hi Brian

Quote:
It's restrictive, but freeform.


Contradiction in terms, surely? In an effort to get my head round Caylus, I would like to think it is freeform, with people trying all sorts of wild stuff, but it does actually seem to be restrictive. Can you expand, Tao master?

Quote:
I like the idea that buildings, once built are not owned. I just find it innovative.


I think this was one of the least rationalisable elements in the game, and helped put me off somewhat. Is a rationale important to you? - I noted you were talking abou story arcs in your 'jaded' comments.

Great blog, by the way.





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Hi Brian,

Four questions for you:

1) Do you go to gaming conventions? Which ones do you like the best? Which do you like the least (i.e., you went once, and won't go back)?

2) What is your all-time favorite gaming related story -- it can be a funny anecdote or 'great play/hall-of-fame' moment from a game or anything else that you consider your favorite.

3) Do you/Have you played any sports simulation games? Which are your favorites? Which don't you enjoy?

and, in a moment of blatant self-promotion:

4) Do you read INDEPTH (www.libogroup.com/indepth.htm)? If not, why not?

Congrats on being named "Geek of the Week!"

Chris
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sumo wrote:
Hi Brian

Quote:
It's restrictive, but freeform.


Contradiction in terms, surely? In an effort to get my head round Caylus, I would like to think it is freeform, with people trying all sorts of wild stuff, but it does actually seem to be restrictive. Can you expand, Tao master?


It's semantically null, like much of what I write at 11pm. But to try to salvage some meaning.... Caylus makes players draft (and purchase) the rights to do actions, with some of the drafts being a bust (via the provost mechanism). So the mechanism is very restrictive. But the actions that people draft are built up by players during the game (and this strongly matters for the provost), so that part is freeform.

I think it's safe to say that effective strategy (tactics, what have you) at Caylus isn't freeform at all.

sumo wrote:

Quote:
I like the idea that buildings, once built are not owned. I just find it innovative.


I think this was one of the least rationalisable elements in the game, and helped put me off somewhat. Is a rationale important to you? - I noted you were talking abou story arcs in your 'jaded' comments.

Great blog, by the way.


Caylus (like Puerto Rico) is one of those games whose system intrigues me enough that the story doesn't matter. I mean, Caylus has a story, but I'm never thinking about it. A system that keeps my attention is great, but story can make up the difference. As for ownership, I'm just pleased as punch that I don't have my own play mat (like PR, or Princes of Florence, or Goa). I'm not a bigwig ... I'm a contractor! "You want me to build what, guv?" OK, I'm reaching. Many of the games I've played most intensely have had a reasonably complex system (where correct plays take lots of games and thought to work out) and at least one novel mechanism. In PR, it's the role selection. Not quite original, but fresh. In Caylus, it's the placement & provost. If you showed me a game with similar tactical depth, but whose key mechanism is an auction (or "I go, You go" or any other oft-repeated trope) the game will take longer to get on my 10+ list, and is unlikely to reach 25+.

Even though I dislike abstracts, I sprung for Zertz because the pieces aren't owned by any particular player, which is fairly novel. Same idea.

Thanks. Sumo is the grandparent (or perhaps crazy old uncle) of most gaming blogs and sites. (Certainly I can trace my writing back to the Game Cabinet, which had Sumo online).
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Lemur wrote:
Hi Brian,

Four questions for you:

1) Do you go to gaming conventions? Which ones do you like the best? Which do you like the least (i.e., you went once, and won't go back)?

2) What is your all-time favorite gaming related story -- it can be a funny anecdote or 'great play/hall-of-fame' moment from a game or anything else that you consider your favorite.

3) Do you/Have you played any sports simulation games? Which are your favorites? Which don't you enjoy?

and, in a moment of blatant self-promotion:

4) Do you read INDEPTH (www.libogroup.com/indepth.htm)? If not, why not?

Congrats on being named "Geek of the Week!"

Chris


Thanks!

1) Apart from The Gathering, I don't attend many conventions. I do make a fair number of game days (or weekends). The point of going to a convention is to play lots of games, preferably those you can't play locally. If you don't make plans ahead of time, it's a crap shoot. And usually an expensive one. If I went to a Con, I'd prefer to play games with people I know, so I just cut out the middleman. I went to Origins for several years (when it was in Baltimore ... I went to Johns Hopkins) and it was fine. I also travelled up one year to help out when it was in Dallas/FW.

The one real advantage of conventions is the ability to play large games, like 20+ player werewolf. Since I don't like Werewolf, that's not a draw. I'd like to attend BGG con (since it's almost local), since I'd know a fair number of attendees. But I haven't decided yet.

2) Once an opponent (and friend) was agonizing over bids in Medici. So I grabbed a calculator, punched in a number, and set it down. After he finally bid (probably ~30 seconds later, but it felt much longer), I showed him that I'd punched in his bid. I did this again several times in a row (I believe four) with numbers that ranged for a few dollars up to 19 or 20. Never got one wrong.

3) Not really. I'm fond of Demarrage, but not fond enough to keep my copy. I still have Football Strategy, because of the game-theoretic goodness, but I play it rarely and not very enthusiastically. I enjoyed my blood bowl league, but I think that calling that a sports game is a stretch.

4) I scanned a few once, but I'm not that into session reports, which seem to take up most of each issue. Sorry.
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sos1 wrote:

So, I have a request: funny stories about kids and games!


As you can imagine, my kids have grown up around games and when they were younger I had to slowly migrate games up the shelves (after my daughter got into Ursuppe and gleefully tossed everything around, for example).

When my son was just starting to talk, he walked into my room beating his fist in the air, shouting "Die! Die! Die!". Then, happy as a clam, he opened up his fist to reveal the die he had found on the floor.
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