Games that I can’t get anybody to play (and I’m not sure why)

June 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm (Uncategorized)

Because they all look like fun to me!


Balloon Cup

Balloon cup is a neat two player card game about balloon racing, where a series of terrain cards are laid down (plains vs hills), and players get hands of cards with differing values which are combined into low or high scores – the player with the highest combination scores the hills, the player with the lowest combination scores the plains. To make things interesting, on your turn you can either play a card to try to improve your own route, or play a card on your opponent’s route in hopes of making it worse.
Although this game has a strong following, it went out of print a while back – as a result, I went and had a knock-off made up using artwork created by another gamer:

I’ve mentioned it to my wife a few times, no interest returned – which sucks because one of the reasons I went through the expense of having the cards made up is I really thought this would be one she’d enjoy. It’s been collecting dust on my desk for months.

 

Camelot Legends

A card game built around the King Arthur stories. Each player gets a hand of knights and other characters from the stories, each of which have unique strengths and weaknesses, and use them to complete a series of quests more successfully than the other players. Really interesting looking game, never been played.

 

Dominion

One of the most popular games released in the last decade, this was given to me by my sister in law, one game was played between my wife and I. She decided she didn’t “get” it, wasn’t interested in trying it again, and it’s sat on the shelf ever since.
Dominion is a “deck building” card game, where each player starts with a small deck at the beginning of the game and over the course of the game uses money cards and various special card actions to gain income and more cards for your deck that you can create hands from. Hard to explain clearly but it’s a neat and fun type of game.

 

Drakon

A game where players compete to loot an ever-changing (and slowly revealed) lair of treasure and make it out before being turned into DragonSnackinz.
Got about half a of game of this one in with the wife before she decided I was “being mean” (the game allows you to make changes that will mess up other players) and quit.
Hasn’t seen the light of day again, but it seemed fun enough that I hope it will some day.

 

Formula D

I’ve played this a couple of times at gaming conventions and had an absolute blast – this Formula One racing game is seriously one of the most fun games I’ve ever played.
Because I went on about it so much, my wife bought it for my birthday last year – and even played it with me once. However, we discovered that this game is pretty boring with only 2 people playing – up to 10 can play and there just needs to be more cars on the track for it to feel like a real competition.
So far I’ve had zero luck in getting anyone else to try it though.

 

Goldbrau

A really neat looking game where the players run beer stands at a beer festival, and compete for ownership of table space, ownership of the various beer stands, and invest in the various breweries that they think will have the best sales at the festival. A very neat mix of investment and territory-grab gaming mechanisms.
Have had one person express interest in trying it out pretty much based on theme alone, haven’t convinced anybody else yet – and the game has to have at least 3 players, optimally 4 for the best experience.

 

GOSU

GOSU (GOblin SUpremacy) is a card game about warring goblin tribes. Each tribe has it’s own central theme (fire, tech, magic, widsdom, etc) and each card (which represent individual goblin soldiers) have it’s own special characteristics that come into play when that card is played which can affect other cards being played.
I’ve played it quite a bit online, and although it took me a few games to get the hang of it, I ended up falling in love with this game.
After mentioning it a few times, I ended up getting it as a gift from my sister in law. My wife tried it with me once, declared the game had “too much going on” and never wanted to touch it again. It’s been collecting dust in storage since.

 

Last Chance

Last Chance is a sort of combination of a betting game and a yahtzee/press-your-luck dice game. I enjoy both types of games, so I figured having them both in one could be really fun.
One player gets a card showing a combination of dice that they must get within a certain number of rolls. The other players make bets on whether they think that player will actually be able to do it or not.
Have had it around at a couple of parties, zero interest shown for it.

 

Metro

I’ve gotten to play this one once, many years ago, and haven’t been able to get it played since.
In Metro players get random track tiles and try to create the most valuable routes while at the same time trying to keep the other players from doing the same. I recall that I quite enjoyed this one, but it’s been a long time.

 

Mission: Red Planet

In this steampunky-themed game players take control of various characters each turn as they attempt to use their abilities to make the most progress at getting rockets full of colonists fired off to Mars, after which there may be struggle for territory.
The game was designed by the guy who designed Citadels, a game which my wife has really enjoyed and it shares some of the same play mechanisms, but this one requires at least 3, so it’s sat on the shelf unplayed for months on end.

 

Nightfall

A card game about battles between vampire clans, I won this at a gaming convention a while back and haven’t gotten it played yet. Has some game play similar to Dominion (mentioned earlier) but with a much darker theme, and the ability to “chain” cards to create nasty combos.

 

OGRE

This is a classic light/mini war game where one player plays a troop of soldiers, and other other player plays one solder: a huge monster war machine with insane amounts of weapons and armor.
I recall liking this the last time I played it – 20 years ago or so. I still have a copy, but haven’t talked anybody into playing it again.

 

Open Rails Origins

This is a “print and play” game that acts as a sort of entry-level introduction to the variety of popular “railroad tycoon” type board games out there – it has somewhat simplified rules and a relatively small board which gets in the basics in a relatively short play time (allegedly around 40 minutes or so as opposed to the 4-6 hours (or sometimes even longer) that the more advanced games take).
I found the idea so interesting that I hand-built a copy from files on the internet – printed out the map & cards on cardstock, mounted board, created and painted my own wooden cubes, etc. I also played a hand in editing an even more newbie-friendly copy of the rulebook.
In this game, like most train games, players take on the role of railroad barons or investors, making bids to get shares in companies, and then once having enough shares to take control of a company, do the best job of laying and upgrading track, as well as buying and upgrading trains to create better income opportunities, in hopes with ending up with the most cash made from your investments by the end of the game.
I explained the game concept to my wife, and she made a sarcastic comment and walked off (apparently anything even touching on an investing or business theme, she is solidly not interested in).
Have one friend who said he’d be interested in checking it out, but when I suggest giving it a play it never seems to actually happen. We’ll see.

 

Pizza Box Football

This is a fairly simple game where the two players try to out think the plays that the other is likely to go with, and then roll a set of dice to see the results. Sort of like a board game version of the many football video games that have used this type of play theme.
Thought for sure I’d get one of the guys to play this – hell, it’s about football.
But no, it’s been mentioned a few times and I’ve seen no interest expressed for it.

 

Roller Coaster Tycoon

Got to play this one once, a little over a decade ago.
In this game players bid to get the best rides and then try to get the most business.
Another fun bidding game with cool 3D rollercoasters, but haven’t gotten it back to table yet.

 

Scotland Yard

Another quite popular game where one player plays the role of a criminal moving secretly throughout the city, and the other players play police inspectors who have to follow clues to hunt him down before he gets away.
I’ve never had a chance to actually try it, but I consistently hear good things about it.

 

Small World

This is another game that I played online a few times, loved it, and immediately went out to buy it.
A little bit like Risk, but in this game players play with a series of randomized races (each with their own abilities) and randomized special powers – for example you could end up with flying dwarves, or seafaring wizards or alchemist amazons or any of dozens of other combinations, making the game different every time, and some of the combinations can be downright entertaining.
Although I think the game is great, I’ve yet to convince anybody else of it, and it’s sat on the shelf unplayed for a year or so now.

 

Stack Market

Stack market is a dexterity game that has a light business investment theme pasted on.
Essentially, players over a series of turns try to create the tallest stack of dice (wooden cubes with pips painted on to appear a bit like skyscraper windows), and how high that “building” gets determines how successful that company is and how much money you make from it.
Looks/sounds like fun to me, but haven’t gotten anybody to try it, possibly a little bit due to the business theme. Haven’t even bothered to open up the bag of cubes yet, and I’ve had it for a couple of years now.

 

Sucking Vacuum

In this game, players are on a space station on which a disaster of some sort happens causing them to have to make a run for it – but there is a shortage of space suits. Players compete to get that suit, having no problem with tripping each other up along the way in the process.
Have had it for years, never found anybody who had an interest in playing it – possibly because it’s another game where you can be “mean” to each other.

 

Survive!

Survive is a game from the 80’s that is recently enjoying popularity again due to a very nice reprint edition that came out a couple of years ago. In this one, players are attempting to rescue people from an island that is slowly collapsing tile by tile, and the survivors attempt to make their ways to sounding safe islands without being attached by roaming sharks or sea monsters.
I seem to remember liking it when I was younger, would like to try it again. Haven’t convinced anyone to join me yet.

 

Wiz-War

Wiz-War has had a cult following for decades, and was out of print for at least one of those decades if not longer. In this game that was one of the first to be dubbed a “beer and pretzels” game, players each play a wizard in a maze, who are trying to steal treasure chests from each other while going at each other with spells which are played from a hand of spell cards.
I seem to recall playing it once, a long, long time ago, and enjoying it. But it’s been well over a decade since this one has seen the table.

 

Wizard’s Quest

This is an older game that I actually picked up only a few months ago, though I’ve mentioned it a couple of times and have gotten no interested reactions.
Has some play that again seems a bit “Risk like,” but in this game players play adventurers racing to find a trio of treasures spread out across the board, while along the way having to fight off hoards of orcs, occasional dragon encounters, and random, sometimes good, sometimes bad, interference from a wizard.
It looks really neat, and I’m hoping I’ll actually get a chance to try it sometime.

 

Zooloretto

This is one that I think may cause it’s own issues between the name and the “is this a kid’s game?” image on the box cover. However, it’s been described as essentially “Zoo Tycoon the board game” and is supposed to be quite good (the name comes from it using some of the mechanisms from a card game called Coloretto).
With this one I thought my wife might be interested due to the “cute animals” themeing, but no such luck. It’s been a dust collector on the shelf.

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Grrrrrr

May 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm (Uncategorized)

I may have to find another blog host again… this “new and improved” editor is seriously pissing me off….

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So hey, did I mention I got married?

January 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm (Uncategorized)

Yeah, things were crazy for a while, but they’ve been calmed down for a while although I’ve been working crazy amounts of overtime, and you’d think I would have been able to mention something about this by now.

LabGirl and I were wed on October 15, 2011, just after 3:00.
It was a beautiful autumn day, outside at the forest preserve (in fact it rained for several days *before* and *after* the wedding weekend, but not on the weekend itself, which was just a blessed event in itself).
I rented one of the huuuuge shelters, and the park service was kind enough to have somebody pull out all of the heavy-arse tables for us so we could put rows of chairs in there instead.
The guys and I showed up a few hours early to help decorate and set up, the lanterns and chandeliers presenting a bit of a challenge.

When LabGirl arrived and saw how the place was set up, she got all teary-eyed saying it was perfect. (Actually she spent a good part of the day teary-eyed, but hey. And yes, happy tears. Very, very happy tears – I have never seen her so happy).

It was a fairly short and sweet ceremony, ordained by the pastor of the church that my family has attended (at least off-and-on) since I was a baby and who preformed the funeral services for my mother earlier in the year.

The procession walked down the aisle to the Montreal Guitar Trio’s acoustic rendition of “Ecstasy of Gold,” (a little touch of Metallica that I think only the right people noticed), and LabGirl walked down the aisle to “Question” by Rhett Miller.
The vows were fairly standard with a couple of little tweaks, the ceremony involved a couple of prayers, and finished with a Bell of Truce ceremony (replacing that tired old “unity candle” thing), a Celtic/Irish tradition where a bell is blessed with the love of the day, rang during the ceremony, and then placed in a location of prominence in the home – the point being that if an ugly brawl ever breaks out, we both reserve the right to grab that bell and give it a rang, calling an instant truce – it’s meant to bring back memories and feelings of that day.
We exchanged rings, and vows, and kisses, and then walked out to the tune of “Say Hey (I love you),” making our way to our waiting chauffeured Rolls Royce.

At the reception, “Bliss” was our first dance, and the father-daughter dance was to “I Loved Her First,” which even had me a bit weepy-eyed.

It was a truly amazing day. As expected there were glitches here and there but nothing to get upset about, and our friends and family were an incredible help throughout the whole thing.

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Virtual Gaming Hoopla

September 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm (Gaming & RPGs)

So this weekend was the 2011 Gaming Hoopla gathering of board gamers – play board games for hours, meet new people that are into the hobby, and all the proceeds go to a cancer charity, which is the #1 item on my charity list.

I’ve been excited for months. I pre-registered. I signed up for reserved seats for TWELVE HOURS of non-stop board gaming. I didn’t even remember to give myself time to eat, but I didn’t really care (much… OK I was hoping something would run short and I could sneak a burger here and there). Speaking of that the food being sold was being grilled by members, not some bulk frozen garbage.

And then…. early last week, I noticed a little bit of a cold coming on. And then as the week progressed, the cold got worse. And worse. And the nastiest cough I’ve had in as long as I can remember developed. As of about Wednesday, I started worrying I may not be able to go on my pre-registered day of Saturday, but I still kept hope that my body would fight it off in time – normally my immune system does a pretty good job.

And then on Thursday, it still hadn’t gotten any better. And Friday – the cough was worse, and a mild fever was added to the mix. Yeah, I wasn’t going :(

So I called in to work Friday and spent most of the day in bed, then on Saturday instead of going to the Hoopla, went to the doctor. And then back to bed.

I was already thinking that maybe as a consolation I could spend a good chunk of the day playing games online, especially since my fiancee was going to be out of the house for a day of bachelorette activities, but since I was barely able to sleep the night before from the constant coughing (first night living here that I slept on the couch while she slept in the bed, I wasn’t going to put her through a whole night of listening to that), so as a result all day Saturday was pretty much spent in bed trying to catch up on sleep too.

SO.

Come Sunday. I still didn’t sleep great but at least got a total of a few hours or so, and was up at 5:30a, which those who know me know is just insane f-in early for me.
I had a cup of coffee. And a bagel. And watched my rented DVD of The Prophecy with Christopher Walken. And ate a lunch of leftover deep-dish pizza before 10am hit.

And then I decided dammit, I’m going to get some gaming in, even if I’m stuck in the house.

I decided to start with Tobago, a game that was just picked up by the Boardgame Arena gaming site in the last couple of weeks. Its I guess a “semi-light” game where players compete to figure out clues that  show where various treasures are hidden on an island, with a few magical totem statue powers tossed in for extra spice.

My game was a three player game, and the rules were pretty easy to pick up. There is a bit of strategy to it in that as the clues narrow down where the treasures are, you need to position yourself somewhere nearby so you can grab it before your opponents do.
As this was my first game, it was probably not surprising that I was very bad at this, and came in dead last.
Overall it was still fun though, and I plan to give it a few more plays.

Next up came Troyes, which I wrote a much more detailed entry about a little while back, here.
I really enjoy dice games that make creative and interesting use of the dice (so no, I usually don’t find much enjoyment in junk like Yahtzee), and this is one of the best examples I’ve found.
My first ever game with all four possible players at the helm.

I figure I must be slightly improving at this one because I wasn’t dead last – I was second to last! Woohoo!

Then next on the itinerary was… well, I was really at this point considering it should be a nap, considering how little sleep I got the night before. But, I was in the middle of printing out the manual for 7 Wonders, as it was another game I wanted to try, and the printer was taking an amazingly long time to do it.
So I figured heck, let’s squeeze in a round of GOSU while I wait.

GOSU is another one that I wrote much more extensively about here.


I actually did surprisingly well, even after my tired brain got a term confused and made a move that made no sense whatsoever. I ended up not only winning, but actually “shutting out” my opponent – go me!

OK… and here I paused my virtual gaming day to try and get more rest. The attempt didn’t last long… I found that lying down just caused my coughing to become more frequent, making it impossible to really sleep or anything.
So, I watched on-demand episodes of Doctor Who, Top Gear, and Pawn Stars for my “rest period.”

I then attempted to sign onto Brettspielwelt.de (a German gaming site) to try out 7 Wonders, which allegedly is a great game, only to get so confused by their mess of a gaming interface (similar to problems I’ve had with other games there) and the fact that all of the system prompts are in German, and apparently I did so poorly that all 3 other players abandoned me after only about 3 moves. So, so much for that.

Moving on from that, I switched gears a slight bit and put in a round of Thunderstone over at Yucata.de.
I’ve played this one a few times before and remain fairly iffy on if I actually like it or not, but figured I’d give it another shot today.
As with every other time I’ve played, I completely got my butt handed to me for reasons that I’m still not entirely sure of. There’s something about the strategy to this game that just absolutely eludes me – most games I at least have an idea what needs to be done to improve, but almost every time I play this I’m completely lost.
So yes, I lost, and I’m unsure I’ll care to play again.

Then the last game for the night was TransAmerica, what is essentially a fairly simplistic abstract game with a railroading theme pasted on top.
One of the games I was looking forward to at the Hoopla was Empire Builder, a railroading game that I’ve been wanting to try for years and has a strong following, and actually has game play that makes it feel like you’re in control of at least the basics of operating a railroad.
In TransAmerica, it’s just connecting lines across the board, that’s it. Now that I think of it, it reminds me a little bit of the Hex type games that I both hate and really suck at (and trust me, there are plenty of games that I suck at but still enjoy playing).
Anyway, it took less than 15 minutes for my butt to get handed to me in this one.

Ending Thought:

Lastly, as I mentioned, the Gaming Hoopla was a fund raiser for cancer research, and near the end of Saturday night’s activities they had scheduled a pause to go outside for a luminary ceremony, to remember those close to use who we’ve lost.

As I was sick and unable to attend, here’s how I shall end my day of “Virtual” Gaming Hoopla:

Love you, Mom, and miss you.

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Ground Zero: Church vs Mosque

September 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm (Political Ponderings)

This is one of those controversies that I keep hearing about off and on, probably having much to do with the fairly recent decision to allow a large mosque to be built near the site of the 9/11/01 World Trade Center attack site.

Broken down to the basic phrase most use to explain the situation, all you hear is “New York denied the request from a church that was destroyed on 9/11 to rebuild, but they approved a mosque to be build near the site!!”

That’d be enough to piss off just about any American recalling that the deaths of nearly 3,000 people people on that day were the result of Islamic terrorists.

Here are my thoughts on the subject, and they’ll likely annoy a couple  of friends of mine, but hey.

As far as the mosque goes, I can see why people don’t like it. There are people who may be reminded every time they see this building of the losses of that day and who caused it.
But this sort of falls into a category similar to those dickheads who keep protesting at military funerals, who have been shown to be protected under the First Amendment: they have the right. There is no legal basis on which to keep the building from being built. And, as conservatives frequently like to express to liberals, the fact that someone’s feelings may be hurt does not mean it can be banned.
This is, essentially, the same conclusion the court came to as described in the earlier linked article.

So what about the church then?
Well, according to the New York Port Authority (as quoted in this Fox article), they didn’t deny the church’s request to rebuild. Apparently they initially approved a deal including a pretty sizable amount of funding, but the church leaders decided to be a pain in the ass and keep pushing for more, until the Port Authority basically got to the point where they told the church to just go F off then. The church can still build, just not on the city’s dime.

It can be easy to get caught up on all the rhetoric regarding this type of controversy – it is, after all, a pretty emotional subject.
But perhaps it needs to be remembered that banning something like a mosque would essentially go directly against one of the primary freedoms our country is based on.

It’s also good to keep in mind that it wasn’t the entire religion of Islam that attacked our country.
This reminds me a bit of some paragraphs I wrote a little while back on a different web site in an area discussing religious tolerance, which I had titled “Blame the people, not the religion.”
Remember that Islam isn’t the only religion that has a history of violent members. Anybody remember The Crusades? I’m betting most Muslims do.
Yes, I know that something that happened 800 years ago may not feel as important as something that happened ten years ago. My point is that these major world religious are not inherently evil. But they do sometimes find themselves with evil people who somehow make it into a leadership role, who are then able to recruit the easily duped towards violent work because “God said so.”

Banning a religion, and the symbols thereof, because a tiny minority of their followers are a bunch of violent dumbasses is not the way our country works.

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So, H.G. Wells Was A Gamer

September 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm (Gaming & RPGs)

There’s actually a lot about HG Wells as a person to not like. He was a hardcore socialist. Based on his writing it seems he was racist and sexist. From what I’ve read it sounds like he was probably generally a jerk.

But he wrote some good stories, including some very well known ones such as War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man.

Anyway, I spend a gosh awful lot of time at work listening to podcasts and audio books. Probably at least 7 of the 8 hours I spend at work is spent with headphones on. And a lot of those audio books I get from sources like Librivox, where through the work of tons of volunteers, a huge selection of public domain books have been recorded.

Wells is one of the few science fiction writers whose work is old enough to now be public domain, and as a result I’ve listed to quite a few of his works, both the popular ones and the not-so-popular.

And how surprised I was to found two books about gaming in his list of works.

Floor Games and Little Wars are both somewhat similar books in that they tell stories in detail about games played with things like little toy soldiers and improvised structures and scenery; one focusing on the games his children liked to play, the other on war games devised by he and his friends.

Unfortunately another similarity between the two books is that they are both excruciatingly boring. Serious snooze-fests, both of them. ]

But still, I thought it was an interesting bit of trivia for game nuts like myself.

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Oops.

August 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm (Uncategorized)

So I’ve lived with Labgirl for I think close to 2 years now. That entire time we’ve had these hand-me-down dishes/bowls/etc that were pretty plain but did the job.

In those two years, I managed to break not a single one.

About two weeks ago, Labgirl had her bridal shower. Among the gifts we received during this shower were a number of placesettings of these beautiful, artsy, expensive plates & bowls.

So tonight I was carrying one of these bowls into the kitchen, and on the way into the kitchen, the entry way of which is a bit narrow, my arm bumps into the wall and….

Yeah.

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Martin Luther King Jr Memorial: Made in China

August 29, 2011 at 6:41 am (Political Ponderings)

Yeah, I guess I can see how that could be seen as controversial these days – in the middle of a recession where at least part of the blame has been placed on outsourcing a large portion of our manufacturing industry to China.

It is perhaps a fitting tribute to racial co-operation. However, the decision to outsource to China the carving of a new national memorial to Martin Luther King has raised eyebrows in the United States.

The 30ft-tall statue, which forms the centrepiece of a $120 million,  four-acre memorial to Dr King, opened to the public on Monday on the National Mall in Washington. It is the only memorial on the Mall that does not honour a president or fallen soldiers.

Standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument, the statue shows Dr King emerging from a mountain of Chinese granite with his arms crossed and is called The Stone of Hope.

However, there has been controversy over the choice of Lei Yixin, a 57-year-old master sculptor from Changsha in Hunan province, to carry out the work. Critics have openly asked why a black, or at least an American, artist was not chosen and even remarked that Dr King appears slightly Asian in Mr Lei’s rendering.

OK, I know most people won’t know and even less will care that it was sculpted by a Chinese artist out of Chinese stone and assembled by a team of largely Chinese workers.
And 20 years from now I doubt anybody is going to care any more – but right now, that is just another in the hugely long list of things our government has done under the new (hopefully soon to be old) administration since taking office.

Ed Dwight, a sculptor in Denver, said Dr King would be “turning over in his grave” if he knew his likeness had been conceived by someone living under a Communist regime.

“He would rise up from his grave and walk into their offices and go, ‘How dare you?'”

Yeah. Full article here.

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Games I dig: GOSU

August 28, 2011 at 12:31 am (Gaming & RPGs)

GOSU (short for “Goblin Supremacy”) is a card game through which 2-4 players wage war by building armies with the 4 different factions of goblins – the Ancients, the Alphas, the Dark, the Fire, and the Meka.

GOSU

Each player starts with a hand of cards each representing a different goblin, two activation tokens, and a random player is given the “advantage token.”

The cards are played onto the table, forming a grid 5 cards across by 3 high – for these reasons:

Each goblin card has a number of traits – the faction (color) it belongs to, what level it is (1-3), how many “battle points” it is worth (for use for the “big battle” at the end of each round), how much it costs to mutate (more on that later), and finally any special abilities it may have.

You start out on the first row by playing only Level 1 cards – these tend to be less powerful cards worth fewer battle points. The first card is free, and any cards from the same faction/color as that first card are also free – but if you want to play a card from a different faction, it’ll cost you 2 discarded cards from your hand.
You’ll have to decide if you want to focus on one or two factions, or try to use more even though it’ll cost you in trashed cards.

Level 1 cards are important, because without them, you can’t play Level 2 cards. Up to five Level 2 cards can be played on the second row, right above the row of Level 1 cards – however, there can’t be more Level 2 cards than Level 1, and you can’t play a Level 2 card from a faction that isn’t represented on Level 1 (If you want to play a Level 2 Meka card, for example, there needs to be a Level 1 Meka card already in play first).
This rule continues for Level 3 cards – to play one, that faction/color has to be represented on Level 2 and Level 1.

When you play a card, many cards have special abilities that come into play as soon as you place the card on the table. It may allow you to remove an opponent’s card from play, allow you to draw more cards, “trap” (or disable) a card for that turn, or any of a number of things. Special features like this can also sometimes be “activated” through the use of one of the 2 activation tokens you were given at the start.

In this, the game reminds me a fair bit of a very popular card game (at least at the time) that I used to play back in the late 90’s, Magic: The Gathering. The game was (and I suppose is – it still has a strong following) somewhat similar in that most cards had their own unique abilities printed on that card. GOSU, however, is not a “collectible” card game as as MTG is – you get everything you need in one box without the need to constantly buy “booster packs.”

So anyway, as I mentioned, each of these three rows is restricted to a maximum of five cards across. So what happens if you get a really good card in your hand, but there are no empty spots left to play it on? Well, that’s where mutation comes in.
Goblins who can mutate into other goblins allow you to replace that card with a different one, usually at the cost of 2-3 additional cards discarded from your hand. Not only is this good for getting new cards out, but some goblin cards have special abilities that are triggered when they are mutated – for example when one of the fire goblins mutates and is removed from the game, it takes one of your opponent’s goblins with it. (Another interesting bit is that the Dark goblins have a special ability to mutate into a discarded goblin – thus raising the dead from the grave, so to speak!).

So, eventually you’ll get to the point where you either can’t or don’t want to play any more cards – either your hand is empty, or you have cards left that you want to hold onto until the next round.
When this happens, you pass. Your opponent can now continue playing if he/she wants and is able to, or that player can pass as well. When all players have passed the “big battle” begins!

The battle points of all cards you have in play are added up, and the one who has the most wins a Victory Point. If there’s a tie, the person who is holding the Advantage Token wins.
And the game goes onto the next round.
First player to get to 3 Victory Points wins.

It’s a very fun game that keeps you on your toes and thinking, trying to figure out the best way to use the abilities of your goblins as best you can, while at the same time trying to figure out your opponent’s strategy: is he light on battle points because of a bad draw, or does have have a trick up his sleeve that he’s holding to thrash you with later?

This is a game I don’t own just yet, but it’s on the wish list to pick up at some time when I get the chance – in the meantime I’ve been playing online.

Interested in trying it out? I’ve been playing it online at BoardGame Arena – click here to sign up and check it out (this link also gives me referral points).

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Checking out Diaspora – a future Facebook contender?

August 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm (Uncategorized)

So for several months I’ve been interested in checking out Diaspora; a new player in the social network arena, hoping to be attractive to people who are not fond of “the big guys” such as Facebook and Google+ tracking your every move and selling it to advertisers, among other privacy and content rights issues that sites like Facebook have had continual complaints about.

Diaspora asserts that it is different because it’s not a corporate entity – in fact, it’s not a single entity at all. But more about that in a second.

As far as “who runs it,” Diaspora uses a networking system that is different to all of the other popular social networking sites, as far as I’m aware.
There isn’t a building somewhere with a huge room with rows and rows of servers that are all run by one company. In fact, it really works more like a peer-to-peer network.
The main Diaspora “client” web site is in a way an application that can be hosted on any server, so there there can be any number of web sites that you can create your account on to call your “home” on the network. Then all of these host sites (or “pods” as they are called in Diaspora-speak) connect together to create a common information stream.

Although a while back I signed up to request to be a beta tester through their main “promotional” web site, JoinDisapora.com, but it had been months and I never got the invite. But through a bit of web searching I ran across one of the “pods” that is openly accepting new accounts – Diasp.org, and signed up.

It’s only been a few days, but what I’m seeing in this alpha product is actually pretty darned neat. It seems to be sort of an interesting mix of features between Twitter and Facebook, with a number of added nice touches.

The main window (or “stream” window) is, unsurprisingly, very Facebook-like. There is a comment box at the top for you to enter your latest updates, under which a stream of updates from people you are following is listed, along with some links on the sides:
Diaspora Main Screen

The status box itself is a bit different than you usually see, and has a few interesting features. The basics are of course there like text entry and the ability to add a photo attachment, but Diaspora also adds the ability to group your contacts into “aspects,” such as friends, acquaintances, work, etc – and you can create custom aspect groups as well, such as my “gamers” aspect that I created in anticipation of following other gamers. You can then select any or all of these aspect groups as those who can read the message you’re about to post. Something like this can, I suppose, come in very handy when you want to post something that would only be of interest to certain people, or that you only want certain people seeing. (I’m not a member of Google+, but from what I understand their “circles” function is very similar to this. The Diaspora team appears to be of the opinion that they likely stole the idea from them, considering Diaspora was in alpha well before G+ started accepting beta users).
A status update can also be tagged as “public” using the little globe icon at the bottom, which means that your post can be searched and read by absolutely anybody on Diaspora.

Diaspora status window

Add to this the “hash” functionality of Twitter, where you can “tag” a message to make it come up in searches for that subject by others; for example, if you’re a fan of cheesecake, and you you’d like other cheesecake fans to be able to find your message, you can write something like “I love #cheesecake!” and thusly when someone searches for the “hash tag” of “#cheescake” your message will come up.
One cool feature regarding these that Twitter doesn’t have, is Diaspora offers the option to “follow” a hash tag. My assumption is that just like “following” a person, that means that any public message that is posted with that hash tag would come up in your stream. As of yet I have not witnessed this actually working, however, so I guess that remains to be seen.

Other small touches that are nice include the ability to sort by time of the original post, or to have new comments on posts you’re following show up at the top of your stream rather than constantly having to completely switch your view (or open a new tab, as I tend to do with FB)… this is the default behavior of the news stream. When you post a status, you can choose to have that update cross-posted to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Tumblr (though you can post messages through Diaspora, you can’t actually read updates from these services).
And of course the basics are there such as a “like” button, the ability to privately message friends, the ability to “mention” others in your posts using the @ (originally a Twitter thing, later adopted by Facebook), an update notification that also emails the updates, and so on.

SO:
Stuff I Like:
I think many of the features of Diaspora are very cool – pretty much everything I mentioned above is something that I think is a really neat feature to have. I also like the “your information belongs to you, not us” policy. I really like how they took some of the best messaging features of both Twitter and Facebook and seem to have been mostly successfully in mashing them together.

Stuff I Don’t Like:
Keep in mind, Diaspora is currently in alpha as I write this, so anything that’s a gripe may change later.
First off, although in theory I absolutely like the way it works, the “non-centralized” (or sort of peer-to-peer like) nature of Diaspora is really confusing, even to geeks, let alone the general public. I know that “staying out from under a corporate umbrella” is one of the main points of the system, but I think this could hurt their growth from plain old everyday users. There isn’t just one web site to go to; in fact currently there are a couple of dozen, and the list is likely to keep growing. I suppose if they eventually set up at least one “primary” host site at “Diaspora.com” or something like that it could be helpful, but without corporate backing whoever hosts that probably wouldn’t be able to take on the traffic other social sites get.
A huge annoyance I discovered today is that although the system automatically signs you up to receive updates on posts you’ve commented on, you currently can’t STOP receiving updates. There’s one “welcome” post I commented on that gets probably a half dozen comments a day that I really couldn’t care less about, that get emailed to me. No way to stop it.
The site is heavily javascript based, which for the most part is not a big deal, but there are certain points, such as when I scroll down far enough that it needs to load more messages in my stream history, that Firefox locks up solid. I’ve had to halt the FF application repeatedly. I did notice that tonight I was not getting this problem, so maybe it’s being worked on, but we’ll see – maybe I just had a lucky night.
There are currently no associated apps – just messaging. There’s no photo album (though they are currently trying to get Cubbi.es to integrate), no calendar, no groups, and of course no games. Of course, they are still in alpha just getting the messaging system to work, so maybe some of that stuff will come in the future.

Overall, I have to say that at least after just a few days of playing with it, I’m really enjoying using the system  – if only there were more people there to talk to. Apparently JoinDiaspora is getting ready to start sending out the beta invites to their “main” pod though, so maybe that will help. I’ll definitely be keeping up with this one!

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