Author Topic: Simon blogs  (Read 34278 times)

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Offline grams88

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #210 on: March 12, 2019, 04:00:20 pm »
Mancala is a really good game. I first came across this game in hoyle board games but it got removed from the hoyle games in future series. There's a game called rummy squares in hoyle games which is probably technically rummikub an interesting little game. You have to get rid of all your tiles to win this one.

Rummikub itself actually brings up a certain debate, now the debate is how long can you have for your turn. Only reason it brings up this is because the longer you have for your turn you have a better chance of clearing your tiles I feel.

Have you tried Rummikub yourself Simon? It's a great game I feel.

Offline Simon

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #211 on: March 17, 2019, 01:41:28 pm »
Quote from: mobius
Pit. Which is a turnless game that sort of resembles stock market transactions. THere are different types of cards; "wheat, gold, oil, sugar, etc." The goal is to trade cards until you're entire hand is composed of just one type.

Again vastly different from Mombasa in design, the only common feature seems to be that both games have cards.

But yes, Pit is excellent. Near-perfect simplicity, and it takes cunning to track dangerous trades. I lack a dedicated Pit deck, but I've played Pit several times with two bridge decks: Use all 8 tens, all 8 nines, all 8 eights, ..., until you have one octet per player. No wild cards. The winner scores as many points as printed on his octet.

Quote from: grams88
Have you tried Rummikub yourself Simon? It's a great game I feel.

I remember reading the rules of Rummikub, it's a rummy variant where everybody can rearrange any meld.

I enjoy Japanese Mahjong, it's the closest rummy-like that I play. Sadly, rules are so fiddly that it makes no sense to learn Japanese Mahjong unless one will play semi-frequently. Some interesting decisions, most importantly in the balance of offense and defense: You must discard one tile at end of turn, and if your discard completes somebody's hand, you pay the hand with your own points. Each player's discards remain open information. Still considerable luck.



Some hard problems in game design.

Starting positions/order. Lix has no randomness except for the shuffling of player positions at the beginning of a match. The server shuffles and transmits the shuffle in the start-game packet.

Chess colors are distributed at random, too, but at least tournament organizers will balance the number of times you get white or black throughout the tournament. Same for Go tournaments, and, in addition, the second player gets a compensation score bonus. Even Caylus, a boardgame for 2-5 players, shuffles the player order, pays compensation money to the later-positioned players, and has no other randomness.

In Bowling, every player plays 10 frames, and players alternate between frames. First player is typically random. You cannot affect the ball or pins of other players. Nonetheless, it is advantageous to go last: In the final frame, the last player may choose to throw straight to guarantee hitting some pins, or he may choose a more techniqueful, but riskier curveball to strike and get bonus throws.

Hmm, I said that you cannot affect other players in Bowling. Well. We were bowling recently with IchoTolot. Simon's ball knocks a pin backwards on the lane. On Forestidia's turn, this stray pin deflects her good ball into the gutter, then flies itself into the opposite gutter. On Simon's next turn, the stray pin in the gutter kicks his gutterball back on the lane, leading to some pins getting knocked over.

Some games have simultaneous play, starting position doesn't matter then. Those games quickly become physical and have other cans of worms that require de-worming.

Resigning with ≥ 3 players. With many players, if you leave mid-game, it will affect the other players' relative positional values and winning chances. Few games handle this gracefully. If allowed at all -- and computer games must allow for ragequits and network failure -- it's usually implemented as if the resigner defaulted on every decision. E.g., resigner's units sit around in real-time strategy games, resigner always discards the recently drawn tile in Mahjong.

Two-player games are not affected, the opponent wins immediately (Chess, Go, two-player Magic). Two-team games are also not affected: If all information is open anyway, the teammates may control the resigner's pieces (Axis & Allies, Scotland Yard); if some information is hidden, the resigner's opponents win immediately.

-- Simon
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 08:28:04 pm by Simon »

Offline Simon

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #212 on: March 29, 2019, 03:10:59 am »
Backwards for scrutiny

If you want to copy a drawing, there is the upside-down method: Turn the source image upside down, then copy it, then turn both source and copy right side up.

The idea is that the upside-down source prevents your brain from interpreting what it sees. Thus you will copy all lines and details verbatim. You don't want to interpret, e.g., parts of a face in the source as a nose, then draw a nose guided by your reallife experience about noses, then realize that source nose and copied nose differ considerably in the details.

The same idea works for proofreading text. Read your paragraphs in reverse order. (Within each paragraph, read the words in normal order.) No earlier paragraphs will ever be in your short-term memory, therefore you aren't biased or expecting certain content, thus will stumble over even the subtle mistakes.

-- Simon

Offline Simon

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #213 on: April 30, 2019, 05:43:51 pm »


Scotland Yard

A board game for 2 teams from 1983, I have the re-release from 1988. I've played it last week several times: 1v1 with Forestidia, and 2v1 with her and IchoTolot.

One player is Mister X and moves invisibly. Only every 5 turns, he must reveal himself.

All other players form a team of detectives and must catch Mister X by moving one of their 5 pawns on the node where Mister X is currently hidden. You can travel by taxi to the next node, by bus between green nodes, or quickly by underground between red nodes.

The rules aren't 100 % clear and differ from edition to edition, thus here are our
rule clarifications. (click to show/hide)

We had quality fun. We denoted by "wühlen" (burrowing, digging around, uprooting the ground with your nose to find food) Mister X's tendency to hide in a nest of yellow taxi-only nodes (away from green/red bus/underground nodes). Wühlen forces the detectives to either get stuck here, too, or loosely surround the nest, delaying capture attempts.

Some detectives would deliberately "counter-wühl", even speculatively, when they had no good nodes.

When IchoTolot deduced that I, as Mister X, would eventually have to come by a certain path, he quoted Schiller's William Tell: Durch diese hohle Gasse muss er kommen...

Detectives' strategy seems to be to force Mister X to use a double move. Then, detectives can retreat to fast-moving nodes (underground nodes, good bus nodes) and wait for Mister X's next revealing. Your chance to capture Mister X increases dramatically after he runs out of double moves.

Lucki, our Lix package maintainer for Arch Linux, likes Scotland Yard too. :lix-cool:

<Lucki> great game
<SimonN> Hnn
<Lucki> londonlaw is the game in python, sadly abandoned: https://github.com/anyc/londonlaw
<SimonN> Hah. The screenshot even shows no taxi connection between 132 and 126. The out-of-box map is not perfectly clear and we ruled that there is no connection here, glad that the app agrees. And 5 detectives.


-- Simon
« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 10:02:22 pm by Simon »

Offline 607

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #214 on: May 21, 2019, 07:33:30 pm »
I'm pretty sure we've got Scotland Yard, but haven't actually ever played it since we got it. I should remember to try in Summer, using your rule clarifications.

Offline 607

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #215 on: May 26, 2019, 09:42:45 am »
We played it yesterday, following our edition's rules (from 1996, Ravensburger). We did a 2v1, and yeah, it would have probably been more fun with 5 detectives, although it might have been very hard for me in the beginning. What I don't like is that as the game progresses, the chance of Mr. X being caught decreases instead of increasing, which would seem more fun. At some point we decided that I would drop the 2x cards, as if I'd use them the detectives would have no chance to win. Without those, it eventually boiled down to a turn with a 50% chance of being caught, and of winning (because the detectives were running out of tickets).

Offline Simon

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #216 on: May 26, 2019, 11:54:53 am »
We played it yesterday, following our edition's rules (from 1996, Ravensburger). We did a 2v1, and yeah, it would have probably been more fun with 5 detectives, although it might have been very hard for me in the beginning.

Yeah, 5 detectives feels best. Then you can cast a loose net and tighten it slowly, and this feels most rewarding.

With 5 detectives, there is a small chance that Mister X draws a terrible starting position that forces him to double-move before even the first reveal. It's okay to scrap such a game and reshuffle with the same player as Mister X. Or maybe let Mister X choose from 2 or 3 starting tiles after he sees where the detectives start?

Quote
I would drop the 2x cards, as if I'd use them the detectives would have no chance to win. Without those, it eventually boiled down to a turn with a 50% chance of being caught, and of winning (because the detectives were running out of tickets).

With 4 detectives, I felt the same: The detectives will prefer 50:50 gambles to capture instead of netting Mister X.

Quote
What I don't like is that as the game progresses, the chance of Mr. X being caught decreases instead of increasing, which would seem more fun.

Right, this is a problem. Especially with 4 detectives, breaking through the net mid-game is an instant winning position, and detectives should then resign. Games really should start with tight, interesting options (Scotland Yard has this at least), and become even more interesting during play, not less interesting.

It's less prevalent with 5 detectives, where Mister X needs the double moves merely to stay even.

Glad to see your insights!

-- Simon
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 12:00:25 pm by Simon »

Offline Simon

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #217 on: June 02, 2019, 04:09:10 pm »
Icho's dice tray

In April, I introduced IchoTolot to the Axis & Allies boardgames. The spark lit immediately, and Icho bought Axis & Allies Anniversary for himself. Excellent choice.

Game tl;dr: Exactly two teams. No hidden information. Strategic piece movement on a map, combat resolution by dice. Lasts from 4 hours to over 12 hours. Heavy compared to most board games, light compared to wargames.



IchoTolot is about to punch cardboard counters from his freshly purchased game



Setup finished, happy Simon (right) looking forward to play



Uwe (reallife friend) and IchoTolot rolling a naval battle

The round wooden dice tray in the pictures is my own acquisition, it doesn't ship with any A&A. But it's a great accessory. You can roll over 10 dice at the same time, and they won't spill on the map or the floor.

Icho wanted a nice tray for himself, too, but there were no good ones at our local game store, and Icho didn't want to pay 30 euros for a nice tray online. I suggested: "A dice tray might be a good do-it-yourself project.", but Icho said: "Sorry, I've got two left hands."

Well, Icho's birthday is coming up in the next months, and occasionally I get an itch for woodworking. In secret, I drove to the hardware store, retracted into my creative cave, and gave him this at yesterday's game night:



Icho's early birthday gift in action



Happy Icho (right) showing the tray's back

The tray is the green area. The black area is a holding pit for unused dice that aren't thrown in the current battle. Reason: It's standard in A&A to provide players with many extra dice, then, even in large battles, you can roll for all firing units at the same time and needn't track hits in your head.

In my round dice tray (see photo with Uwe), we would shove unused dice to the walls of the tray. But that's far from perfect, rolled dice would still get confused with unused dice in the round tray.

As a bonus, Icho's tray fits exactly into a hollow area in his game box. From our first game night, I remembered that his box had some spare capacity, and looked up the exact dimensions of the box online before making the tray.

Icho really liked his new tray, that was highly satisfying to see.

Quote Icho: It's late at night and game may be decided already, but continuing is too much fun...

-- Simon
« Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 10:03:36 pm by Simon »

Offline Simon

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Re: Simon blogs
« Reply #218 on: June 11, 2019, 11:54:22 am »
Before teaching boardgames

Situation: You schedule a game night, and decide in advance which boardgame to play. Some invitees already know how to play. Other invitees don't know any rules, but would like to learn and participate.

The problem: How to teach rules to the newcomers, such that
a) any lecturing is short enough so newbs remember everything important,
b) any lecturing is short enough so that regulars will not be bored
c) newbs with a thirst for knowing every corner-case resolution are nonetheless satisfied.

Current approach. In the invitational email,
  • I announce that I will explain most of the rules at the start,
  • I announce that I will explain corner cases during play before they become strategically relevant,
  • I link to the full rulebook (many publishers offer rulebooks as PDF for free) and tutorial videos on Youtube (even tolerable videos may have minor issues), but make clear that studying these materials is optional.
When I'm invited to play other people's games that I don't know, I like very much to study the rules in advance. I like to get a detailed feel for the mechanics. It's only courteous to give everybody else the same chance.

Most players won't read anything ahead of time, it's still normal to introduce comprehensively at game night. Teaching rules live to the interested complete newbie is thus very important, and a separate problem.

-- Simon
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 05:10:14 pm by Simon »