Author Archive

Wednesday, Carrie and I slept in, ate breakfast in the hotel, and then I prepped for the day's games.

  • 12pm, Power Grid (PGD) Demo, I volunteered to run the demo so that the GM would be able to get Heat 2 started sooner.
  • 1pm Power Grid (PGD) Heat 2, 5th of 5, on the USA map.  I made a critical mistake early on, and just wasn't able to recover the pace.

Carrie and I went to dinner at Perkins with Beth and Diana, a couple of Carrie's friends from college.  Afterwards, we went to our room and crashed for the night.


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Carrie and I drove up Tuesday afternoon.  We got checked into the hotel (and I into the convention) in time to grab an early light dinner.  Appropriate use of Tylenol, rest and food avoided my traditional Tuesday night migraine.

After the game, Carrie and I met up with Eric and Cathy Raymond, along with Rich Shay and went out to Perkins for dessert.  Afterwards we played Race for the Galaxy and chatted until midnight.


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Tonight we played Dominion, Money, Power Grid, Roll Through the Ages.

  • Brian won Dominion with 36, followed by Craig (30) and Matt (9).
  • Brian won Money with 530, followed by Craig (500) and Matt (400).
  • Craig won Power Grid on the Korea map with 17/13, followed by Brian (10/10), Matt (7/7), and John (12/6).
  • Craig won Roll Through the Ages with 46, followed by Brian (35), and John (22).

Attendees: Craig Trader and Carrie Hafer, Brian Carpenter, Matt Linn, and John "Fuzzface" McMahon.

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Tonight we played TransAmerica, Puerto Rico, Roll Through the Ages, Set, Chronology.

  • Craig won TransAmerica, followed by Matt, Jim, and Brian.
  • Lije won Set, followed by Sallie, and Carrie.
  • Matt won Puerto Rico with 51, followed by Craig (42), Brian (42), and Tony (38).
  • Sallie won Chronology with 10, followed by Lije (8), Carrie (8), and Rachel/Shaune (8).
  • Lije won Chronology with 10, followed by Sallie (9), and Shaune (6).
  • Brian won Roll Through the Ages with 50, followed by Tony (12), Craig (11), and Lije (10).

Attendees:  Craig Trader and Carrie Hafer, Rachel and Jim "Blaise" Trigg, Brian and Lije Carpenter, Matt Linn, Sallie and Tony Montuori, and Shaune Lee.

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Tonight we played Race for the Galaxy, On the Underground, and San Juan.

  • Craig won Race for the Galaxy with 39, followed by Brian (36), Jim (22), and Matt (22).
  • Matt won Race for the Galaxy with 38, followed by Jim (33), Brian (29), and Craig (26).
  • Dave won On the Underground with 43, followed by John (39), Tony (37), and Shaune (35).
  • Dave won San Juan with 43, followed by Shaune (38), Tony (28), and John (23).

Attendees:  Craig Trader and Carrie Hafer, Rachel and Jim "Blaise" Trigg, Dave, Sallie, and Tony Montuori, Shaune Lee, Matt Linn, Brian Carpenter, and John "Fuzzface" McMahon.

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Tonight we played Settlers of Catan.

  • Brian won Settlers of Catan with 10, followed by Dave (9), Sallie (9), John (7), Gretchen (6), and Craig (6).

Attendees:  Craig Trader and Carrie Hafer, Dave and Sallie Montuori, Gretchen Allen Johns, Brian Carpenter, and John "Fuzzface" McMahon.

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Tonight we played Dominion and Cities and Knights of Catan.

  • Brian won Dominion with 30, followed by Craig (26), Dave (24), and John (10).
  • Brian won Cities and Knights of Catan with 14, followed by Dave (11), Tony (9), Craig (7), Shaune (6), and John (6).

Attendees:  Craig Trader and Carrie Hafer, Dave and Tony Montuori, Shaune Lee, Brian Carpenter, and John "Fuzzface" McMahon.

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Tonight we played 1830, Agricola, and Race for the Galaxy.

  • Brian won Agricola with 30, followed by Lije (23), and Matt (18).
  • Brian won Race for the Galaxy with 30, followed by Lije (26), and Matt (25).
  • Dave won 1830 with $2825, followed by John ($2802), and Craig ($2323).

Attendees: Craig Trader and Carrie Hafer, Brian and Lije Carpenter, Matt Linn, Dave and Sallie Montuori, and John "Fuzzface" McMahon.

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Just a reminder that Brunswick Games Day 2009 will be held Saturday January 3th from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.

I went last year and had a lot of fun, and plan to go this year as well.

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Saturday afternoon, Carrie drew my attention to a local Craig's List posting, advertising a copy of Axis & Allies for a mere $12.  I contacted the seller and confirmed that it was a second edition set (1986 printing), so I hustled over and picked it up.  The set is in good condition (missing a single Russian control token, and someone had carefully marked the board's territories with PBeM identifiers), so I'm pleased with the price.  We'll have to break it in some time soon ...

On our way home, Carrie and I decided to have dinner in Chantilly, and swung past Game Parlor, where I was stunned to find both Dominion and Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm, sitting on the shelves, waiting to be bought ... but not so stunned that I didn't immediately scoop them up.

Brian Carpenter brought Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm by Ludus a couple of weeks ago (and left his Lockheed jacket), so I'm not going to talk about it, other than to mention that I read through the solitaire rules, and they look interesting.

Dominion is the hottest new game from Rio Grande, and currently ranked 30th 23rd at Board Game Geek.  You can also play it on Brett Spiel Welt.  You start with a deck of 10 cards (7 copper, and 3 VPs).  Each turn you can play 1 (maybe more) actions from your hand, buy 1 (maybe more) cards from the supply, discard what's left of your hand, and then draw back up to 5 cards.  Every time your deck runs out of cards, you reshuffle your discard pile and complete your draw.  The goal is to purchase a balanced mix of money, action, and victory cards such that you have the most victory points at game end (either you run out of province cards in the supply, or you run out of 3 types of card in the supply).

What makes it interesting is that while you only play with 10 types of action cards in any given game, there are 25 types of action cards to choose from.  What makes it hard is that you're not allowed to review the cards in your deck or discard pile.

I'm looking forward to playing this at Ludus...

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Carrie & I stopped by Game Parlor yesterday and found the newest maps for Power Grid: Korea / China, so we picked them up. I mentioned them to Fuzz, so he stopped by last night for a little play-test. While adding a new set of maps to Power Grid always add variety, to really make things interesting you need to adapt the rules to match the geopolitical terrain of the new map. In that light, the newest Power Grid expansion really outdoes itself.

The Korea map represents both North and South Korea, which are given separate resource markets to reflect the differences in cultures. Each market has different refresh rates, and different capacities. During the resource purchase phase, any player can choose to buy resources from either the North or the South, but they must buy all of their resources for the turn from the same market. During the bureaucracy phase, the North market refreshes first, followed by the South. Both markets combined are the same as any other Power Grid map, but the North market (12 coal, 8 oil, 8 trash) is smaller than the South (12 coal, 16 oil, 16 trash, 12 uranium).

The China map reflects the state-managed economy with a rigidly controlled power plant market. The Power Plant deck is stacked -- all plants up to the 30-plant arrive in ascending order, with no future market. In the first round there will be one plant available for each player; in subsequent rounds in Steps 1 and 2 there will be always be one fewer plants available than the number of players. In Step 3 there will always be 4 plants available, regardless of the number of players. The power plants only refresh in the Bureaucracy phase and there's no difference between Step 1 and 2 except in the number of players who can connect to each city. To make matters worse, the map starts resource-poor (coal and oil start at 5, trash starts at 7, and there is no uranium at the start), and some of the more useful plants are eliminated.

We decided to play the China map, and Carrie consented to join us to make the game more interesting. It took some time to really understand the nuances of the map, but after a while we got the hang of it. Through careful bidding I succeeded in being able to connect and power more cities than either Carrie or Fuzz, but that meant that I was paying more for my resources. I balanced that out by being the only player with Trash plants. Fuzz focused on Nuclear and Wind plants, and Carrie carefully stayed at the back of the pack, hoarding coal and oil. Eventually I built up a lead on connected cities, but I misjudged the timing on a build-out and by the time we were in the mid-20s on plants I had connected 15 cities, Fuzz 14, and Carrie 13 ... leaving us unable to connect more cities while we waited for Step 3. One poorly executed bidding war later, I was left with the 30-plant ... and not enough money to fuel it -- oops. That mistake put me out of the running, and when Step 3 arrived, Carrie was able leverage her fuel monopoly and overtake Fuzz for the win.

The China map is the least random of all of the Power Grid variants ... and the most brutal. It will be interesting to play it again with 4 or 5 players. I'm also looking forward to playing the Korea map.

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Since Carrie and I will be at TCEP 15: The Elder Party this weekend, we will not be hosting Ludus on Labor Day, September 1st, 2008.  Ludus will resume its normal schedule on Monday, September 8th.

We hope to see you at TCEP, but if not, have a good (and safe) holiday weekend!

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I woke up early, packed everything into the car, checked out of the hotel, had breakfast and got over to the convention with a few minutes to spare.

  • 9am, RoboRally (RRY) Finals, I washed out attempting to escape the third flag, but I had a lot of fun getting there.
    The RoboRally tournament had a strict 2-minute time limit on programs. On the first turn I picked up the Recompile option (discard and redraw your entire hand, then take a point of damage), but using it meant that I would have to evaluate my current hand (30-60 seconds) and then have to do it again for the new hand. I actually used it successfully 4 or 5 times, including once when I already had 3 locked registers. Sadly, even the recompile couldn't save me from a robot backing up (and pushing me) after I pushed him. The resulting mess killed both our bots, and neither of us were able to recover momentum after that.
  • 9am, Ticket To Ride (TTR) Heat 3, skipped in favor of RoboRally Finals.

After that was the drive back to Sterling, which was tedious, but uneventful.

All in all, I had a great time this year (better than last year) and I'm already making plans to be there in 2009.

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Saturday started out like Friday: I lost consistently, but enjoyed myself.

After playing Puerto Rico, Eric, Cathy, and I made a pilgrimage to the Wilbur Chocolate Factory in Lititz, PA. What we didn't know was that the entire town of Lititz was shut down for some sort of craft festival. We eventually made it to the Wilbur factory store, where we stocked up on chocolate and sweets, but it was cutting things close.

The Manifest Destiny heat was pretty miserable -- I was stuck playing with people who bitched, moaned, threatened, and cajoled about every single decision someone made. The leader frequently whined about being targeted by the other players. This dragged out a 3 hour game to being only 2/3 done at the 4 hour mark. Shudder!

Finally, and 9pm, there were the RoboRally semi-finals, which were the highlight of the day. The game was close and hard-fought, with lots of robot interaction. Three of the players from my board advanced to the finals, including myself.

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While I did pretty awful today, I still enjoyed myself, which is the important thing.

I spent a lot of time with Eric and Cathy Raymond, and Ken Burnside, playing Race for the Galaxy and commiserating about how badly we were losing games that we should have been winning.

We ended up playing more Race for the Galaxy, followed by a trip to Starbucks for hot chocolate.

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I met up with Eric and Cathy Raymond after Power Grid, and we ended up playing a couple of rounds of Race for the Galaxy so that I could improve, and so that Ken Burnside could learn. After that we went out for dinner.

  • 12pm, Power Grid (PGD) Heat 3, I took 3rd in a 5-player game on the Benelux map. I don't think I made any mistakes, but I got squeezed early on, and had some poor luck with power plants early on, which left me a day late and a dollar short for the rest of the game. I may still make the semi-finals; tomorrow will tell.
  • 1pm, Race for the Galaxy (RFG) Heat 1, skipped in favor of Power Grid.
  • 7pm, Puerto Rico (PRO) Heat 1, I took third in a 4-player game. At one point I bought the Harbor when I should have bought a wharf, and I didn't make good use of my factory.
  • 7pm, Manifest Destiny (MFD) Heat 2, skipped in favor of Puerto Rico.

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I got rid of the migraine, eventually, but only got a couple of hours of sleep. At 6am I gave up and decided to go get breakfast and hit a supermarket. After a short nap, I headed over to the conference center, where I met up with Eric and Cathy Raymond.

  • 10am, Empire Builder (EPB) Heat 2, took second in a 4-player game. This wasn't good enough to make it to the semi-finals (no surprise) and I decided that I'd rather play something else instead.
  • 2pm, Power Grid (PGD) Heat 2, skipped, in favor of Manifest Destiny.
  • 2pm, Manifest Destiny (MFD) Heat 1, took third in a 4-player game.
  • 2pm, Empire Builder (EPB) Heat 3, skipped, in favor of Manifest Destiny.
  • 6pm, dinner with Eric and Cathy Raymond.
  • 7pm, RoboRally (RRY) Heat 1, won! This qualifies me for the semi-finals. I actually made it through 3 flags on 2 boards, against 5 other players.
    This game was funny -- all of the players were laughing and having a good time. The funniest bit for me was where I had taken enough damage (5 points) to call a shutdown. Another player was behind me, and he did more damage to my bot, including pushing me along. I 'woke up' with 5 points of damage and a locked register. I drew 4 cards and declared another shutdown. I ran away (and got shot for 4 more points of damage), but when I was done, I had traveled a full board length (in the right direction) and was fully repaired. This is probably what allowed me to win.
  • 10pm, Vegas Showdown (VSD) Heat 2, I took third in a 5-player game. Not good enough to make the semi-finals.

At one point during the day, I was able to purchase a copy of Race for the Galaxy. Hooray!

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I drove up from Sterling this afternoon. Traffic was good, until I got to York. The US-30 bridge over the Susquehanna River is restricted to 1 lane in each direction, sigh. By the time I got to my hotel, I had a raging headache, which eventually turned into a migraine.

  • 6pm, Power Grid (PGD) Heat 1, won!
    I finished my board (France) with 16 cities powered and 17 cash, in spite of the headache.  Second place had 16 cities, 8 cash, third place had 15 cities, fourth had 14 cities, and fifth had 13 cities.  Going into the last round, I was leading with 14 cities, but with only (3) 5-plants, so I wanted to buy a 7-plant to be able to power 17 cities.  All three of the 7-plants came up for auction, and all of them went to other players (eventual 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placers) -- for much more than they were worth to me.  I eventually bought the 39 (nuclear 6-plant) at cost, leaving me able to power 16 cities.  After the other players had built their connections, only one player had connected (and could power) 16 cities -- the others had either overbuilt cities or plants.  I decided to connect 3 cities (all of Paris) and end the game, for the win.
  • 6pm, Empire Builder (EPB) Heat 1, skipped in favor of Power Grid.
  • 10pm, Vegas Showdown (VSD) Heat 1, skipped because of the migraine.

Went back to the hotel and crashed.

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World Boardgaming Championships Logo

The World Boardgaming Championships is a gaming convention, held yearly since 1999 by the Boardgame Players Association. This convention replaced AvalonCon which had been run from 1991 to 1998 by Avalon Hill.

Last year I showed up without much pre-planning, and without any goals beyond (1) play games, (2) have fun.  This year I decided in advance which tournaments I wanted to try to win, and actively practiced those games at Ludus and other gaming opportunities. Noteably, I decided to skip Age of Renaissance, which I like to play, but (1) takes too much time, and (2) is not one of my strongest games.

Most of the tournaments are structured with several qualifying heats (enter as many times as you like, must win one or more), followed by single-elimination semi-finals and finals.  Others are strictly single-elimination rounds, played until there's a single winner.  Since there are 100+ tournaments running over the course of 6 days, there's a lot of overlap.  Consequently, my performance in some of the early heats will dictate my schedule for the following days.  In particular, Sunday morning there are 4 different final rounds that I might be eligible for, depending upon how well I do throughout the week.

More or less in order, I'll be participating in these tournaments:

  1. Power Grid (PGD)
  2. Puerto Rico (PRO)
  3. Vegas Showdown (VSD)
  4. Manifest Destiny (MFD)
  5. Empire Builder (EPB)
  6. Race for the Galaxy (RFG)
  7. Ticket To Ride (TTR)
  8. RoboRally (RRY)

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This year the World Boardgaming Championships will be held in Lancaster, PA, on August 5-10, 2008. I will be going again this year, with the intent to participate in these tournaments:

  1. Power Grid (PGD)
  2. Puerto Rico (PRO)
  3. Vegas Showdown (VSD)
  4. Empire Builder (EPB)
  5. Manifest Destiny (MFD)
  6. Race for the Galaxy (RFG)
  7. Ticket To Ride (TTR)
  8. RoboRally (RRY)

There's some scheduling overlap between these tournaments, so if I'm good/lucky enough to get to the semi-finals/finals, I might have to drop one in favor of another.  Last year I wasn't that lucky, but I've improved with Power Grid (some) and Puerto Rico (significantly), and stand a strong chance of being competitive.

One consequence of this is that I need to play these games frequently over the next two months, particularly the more strategic games.  I also need to play a wider variety of opponents, so that I can cope with different strategies.  Towards that end, I'm going to try to schedule some all-day-Saturday gaming sessions before August.

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