Friday, October 29, 2010

Equilibrium Playtests

So, gaming isn't dead with a newborn.  It's just slowed down :)

Anyway, got a solid playtest of Equilibrium in:

Early Game

I got down a nice "Draw +2" permanent right at the beginning.  My wife went for the early "1st Pairs".

Really soon I played the bonus for "5+ of 3 Colors" and my wife played the big bonus for "11+ of 1 color".  The strategy lines were pretty set.

Mid Game

Thanks to my deep draw, I got *all* three of my big bonuses.  My wife only got 2 of hers.  She did complete her pair.  And she hinted that she was going all Blue.  She had plenty of Most Blue and 9+ Blue score cards down.

I started fleshing out my chances with some "Count +1" cards so I could run my deck very thin.

Late Game

I flesh out my "Count +1" to be one of each color.  I also sneak in a "Most Yellow" since I know my wife isn't saving much.

Then right around the end, Wham, my wife hits me with a "Trash 3".  Suddenly I am counting my deck and see I'm all the way down to 17 cards.  I immediately stop, as does my wife.


I had 17 cards in my deck.  9 blue, 4 yellow and 4 red.  But I had a Count +1 of each color!  So I met my 5+ of all colors goals for a whopping +39 points.

My wife of course scores her deep blue deck easy with 14 blue cards.  But she only got down a couple of the big point bonuses.  Her final deck has 21 cards in it.

I sneak out the Most yellow since we both had 4 in our decks but I have a count +1.

Final scores: Me 39, Angie 37

Two point victory!  And a nailbiter.

I consider this a very successful playtest.

We did have the "Share 12VP" cards in that pay out like the Cathedral in Notre Dame.  I was unimpressed in their third game.  We both just ended up playing the first 2 we drew and then stopped playing them.  They might be more exciting with more players, but I'm starting to think otherwise.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bouncin' Baby Boy

A quick cross post.  I'm now a proud father.  Read all about it:

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Equilibrium Cards

Tried a couple rounds of Equilibrium with some new cards tonight.  What new cards you may ask?

"Blue Count +1" - A full set of 6 cards of these.  They are permanents that boost the count of that color when you check if you fulfill your score cards at the end of the game.

"Others Trash A Score Card" - All other players have to trash a score card of their choosing.

We also tried reverting to the trash/cycle without asking your opponent.

The plays:

First Game

I get an early "1st Pair" down, while my wife gets the Score Card discount permanent.  She then goes heavy into blue and green spamming a lot of the "11+ of 1 color".

I diversify and go for 5 of each color.  I nail 2 of those big bonus cards.  Ang hits me with a "Trash a Score card" but it barely hurt at all.

Ang quits a bit early with 25 cards.  I stretch it out just *trying* to find the other half of my pair.  At the very end I play a Draw +4 to sneak out my pair.

During scoring, I count only 4 blue in my deck.  Oh no!  But then remember I played a "count +1", woohoo!  All my cards score for a nice wolop of points.  Ang scores all of hers with ease.  Too easily in fact, she should have went a couple more turns.  She lost by 10 points this game.  Of course, if I'd had 1 blue card less then she would have won handily.

Second Game

Pretty much a role reversal.  I play an early discount card and go heavy for blue and yellow.  I decide to settle for 9 each so I don't play any of the 11+ cards.

My wife puts down the "draw +2" permanent early and enjoyed a nice selection of cards for the whole game.

My wife quits a little earlier than me since she didn't get the discount.  However, she nails all three of the 13vp 5+ of 3 color cards.  That's a mountain of points.

I know I need a good score, so I pull out 2 turns on my own.  For the first one I use the trusty Draw +4 to setup my last turn.  I sneak out one more "8vp for 7+ of 2 colors".  I manage to empty my deck and still have exactly 9 blue and 9 yellow.  My wife also has 9 yellow to tie me for a most card... until we remember the "Yellow count +1" I played earlier.  Then I get the extra 3 points I need to beat her.

A nice nailbiter :)


"Count +1 Cards" - Definitely a great addition.  They allow you to put your buffer into play and thin your remaining deck even harder.  I wouldn't have them cost more than 1, but we both played a couple at the price of 1 and I think it was worth the price.

"Trash A Score Card" - Horrible.  Only good on the 2nd turn of the game if your opponent is stupid.  Otherwise it just hits a cheap score card and you wasted your money (cards).  Not to mention the rules overhead is nasty.  What about attachments?  What if multiple people have to trash?  I just don't think this is working.

"Auto trash/cycle" - Definitely becomes a bit friendlier game.  Someone isn't malevolently trying to destroy your deck.  It's faster too.  Still, it leaves out a fair amount of interaction.  Really... I'm pretty split on it and could go either way.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Crokinole - Yea, that's Sweet

So I got my very own Crokinole board over the weekend.  It was a MayDay special straight from China.

How's the board?  Pretty solid I would say.  I only paid $100 for it so I can't complain too much.  There were no dings or dints.  The only minor complains:

  • The lines are painted on top of the varnish.  Odd and annoying.  Didn't cover with 3 coats of wax.
  • The score pegs don't fit in their holes well.
  • There are 3 scruffs in the finish in a symetrical pattern like something was used to stack the boards.
But that's really it.  It's a very nice board otherwise.  I bought some wax and gave it a darn good waxing before we first played.  I also made the rubber and screw pegs and installed them for some very stable play.

And it was awesome.  I've only played 2-player, but this is by far the best dexterity game I've ever played.  There is skill, strategy and FUN!

I really like the rule forcing you to try and bump an opponent's piece.  It makes you attempt all kinds of wild shots.  And if you fail a shot, you have to remove that piece... and any friendly piece it touched!  Ouch!  So suddenly you start adding extra risk for failure of certain shots.

I've already logged 8 games from this weekend.  I'm sure it'll burn out eventually.... but maybe not.  I'd still play Tichu :)

I also can't wait to try the partnership version!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Urges - Why?

Man, I do for some reason just get urges to play certain games.  I really don't know why.  And often times I don't suggest them to my Wife just because I know we've played them a lot and I don't know why I want to play them more.  Almost like I think of them as guilty pleasures.  Isn't that strange?  I think these are the top offenders:

Ra: The Dice Game - I should really get tired of this one.  There isn't a whole lot going on, and it does feel the same from game to game.  And yet the decisions are just interesting enough and the situations unique enough to make me come back.  I'm probably going to give in again soon.

Ascension - I don't think it's an awesome game.  But it is fun by golly.  I want to kill some monsters.  I don't care that I can't really plan my deck out.  I don't care that the center row seems jumbled as piss most times.  I just want to whack a cultist over and over.

Carc: The Castle - The second Knizia.  Maybe he's on to something.  This one is odd.  It breaks a lot of carc standards, and yet it still feels like carc.  I also like the balance of the point sources.  The fight over the biggest house always seems charming to me.  It just has that certain touch...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Subtle Balancing Tweaks

Boardgames are like Movies.  You have a few blockbusters, and a lot of flops.  You might take pity on the flops, but what about the blockbusters?  Those few games are going to be played over and over until every little wart shines through.

Looking back at thousands of plays can often give new insight that wouldn't show up without that much testing.  And sometimes, some simple changes need to be made.  Here I've compiled just a couple of those subtle changes that people have come up with for some true classics:

Tigris and Euphrates - The player going first has a very high chance of winning.  I'm pretty sure it was over 30% in a 4 player game.  The easiest and most applied fix is:  Have the first 2 players take only 1 action on their first turn.  It's just the same as Through the Desert for just the same reason.

Dominion - Again, the first place player has a higher chance of winning.  The silly rules have a balance of the prior winner going last.  I applaud them for trying something new, but still think this rule is stupid.  Much better and simpler is to borrow from Puerto Rico:  Just continue play until everyone has had an equal # of turns.  Allow people to buy "Ghost Provinces" if they have run out.  Makes for a much closer game IMHO.

Puerto Rico - This was actually what inspired the list for me.  The players that start with Corn tend to kick the Indigo players' asses.  It's true at all player counts.  Hell, in tournaments they often bid 2-3 VP to start with corn to balance things out.  I came across a thread on BGG that showed a much simpler balance for the corn players: Corn players start with 1 less doubloon.  It slows them down just enough in buying the first mid-range building that scores balance out almost perfectly.  Alternatively, you can view it as giving the poor indigo saps a buck to buy their indigo plantation.  Source:

So, are there any other minor balance tweaks for much played classics you have used?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nearly Dimes

So I do enjoy fiddling with Friendless' Extend Stats over here:

In particular, I like how it forces me to see how much of my collection I have actually played.  And how often I have played them.

He has a metric that encourages people to achieve "dimes" = 10 plays of a game.  So of course, given a metric, I have to try and maximize it.  So what games do I own that are really close to dime status that I just need to nudge over?  And what ones am I likely to play next?

10 Days in the USA - Okay, this one is a slight cheat.  I own all the 10days series, but I just list them as a single game.  They really aren't different enough by my standards.  I just bought 10 days in the Americas, so I figure this one is going to make dime status in no time.

Brass - This comes out like twice a year.  So it may make it, but no time real soon.  Expecially with a kid on the way next month.  2+ hour games in the evening are probably right out.

Sushizock - See, just making this list makes me realize games I haven't played in awhile.  I should get this game back to the table.  It is adorably cute after all.

Ticket to Ride - Maybe when my kids get to 6-7 years old.  I'm just rather burned out on the series as a whole.  I would rather play Transamerica in almost all cases.  It's just more interesting to me.

Utopian Rummy - Yea, my own design.  I only recorded 9 plays after finally giving it it's own page on BGG.  Trust me though, I've played it 100+ as a prototype.  Still, my wife was mentioning it the other day, so maybe it will see the table again.  (If I can find a copy laying around...)

Vegas Showdown - Just played this a month ago.  Had fun.  Want to pull it out again!

Yspahan - Totally burned out for me.  However, my wife still enjoys it a lot.  So it'll probably creep over the 10 plays line.