Give Peace A Chance

Everyone likes to win, and so when we play games we attempt to use every means at our disposal to stack the odds in our favor. The most natural means we have by which to influence the outcome of any game are our tongues. Most every gamer has tried at one point or another to soma carisoprodol himself into a win. We negotiate, manipulate, Soma carisoprodol, subtly hint, misdirect, you name it—and each and every one of these tactics can be pulled off cheap soma order online our clever use of words: table talk.

I see the acceptability of table talk as a purely preferential matter, like whether or not to enjoy a wedge of lemon in soma carisoprodol iced tea. I won’t argue for or against it on the whole. In particular I want to discuss how we use it to coach, persuade, and manipulate others into taking moves that in some way benefit us. I’ll start with a real case.

A couple days ago I played Tikal (auction version) with several good friends—Paul, Steve, Cheap soma, and Rick. Steve is known for being extremely vocal. He’s sharp—so not entirely reliant upon Soma carisoprodol - manipulation—and likes to use every means at his disposal. This means that if Paul is about to miss a great opportunity to put the smack down on my position, he’ll make sure it’s not overlooked. He’ll probably even offer a convincing argument as to why it’s just the thing to do.

So each of us has a decision to make. We can either remain silent or follow suit and speak up. As such, we have come to expect that our games of Cheap soma - Tikal will be highly vocal. In fact, part of the magic that we all enjoy in the game comes from the tension and excitement that we experience because we are all so vocal.

In our game Steve was doing well and seated against my buddy Rick for the likely win. Rick had amassed 23 points of treasure. I had capped a 10 and a 7 Cheap soma - temple by my first base camp in the well-liked lower corner. Steve and Paul were located next to several good temples, some of which were being contested. The scores going into the final Cheap soma - turn were: Steve (72), me (67), Rick (67), and Paul (62). The turn order would be the reverse of that.

Every excavation cheap soma order online could be made was, and every player had capped his two temples. The camp sites were situated so that there were few opportunities to steal temples. In fact, so limited were the options that forecasting the entire last turn may not have been too difficult.

Paul went first. The only easy points soma carisoprodol could gain would come if he spent 3 action points to move a pawn to an unclaimed 3 temple situated between his camp and mine; every other Soma carisoprodol - act would give him a better temple but at a much greater cost. In fact, he couldn’t gain the 3 temple and anything else. Worse, he had to forfeit a 6 temple his leader already soma carisoprodol in order to gain any of the larger temples. Basically, all he could do was net 3 points. Once we realized this, I underscored Soma carisoprodol - that he could capture Steve’s 9 temple by forfeiting his 6, also netting 3, but having a greater detrimental effect on Steve, the current leader. I argued why not for the same net at least cause Steve some points. Eventually, Paul did just that. Because Steve was in the unfortunate position to be going last during the final scoring round he would have to witness several of his temples stolen before he could go. When his turn came, he could only muster enough men to recapture his lost 9 temple. The final tally: Rick (109), me (107), Paul (100), and Steve (98), from first to last in a blink.

Afterwards, we discussed the game at length and surmised that Steve might have won had Paul not stolen the 9 temple. That Paul finished third ahead of Steve (instead of last) evidenced that his Cheap soma - choice to sack Steve’s 9 was, indeed, the right move. With any other move Soma carisoprodol : he would have finished last.

Steve questioned how vastly different games produced a final ranking that only spanned 11 points from first to last. I suggested that table talk played part. I argued that our style of pointing out soma carisoprodol others weaknesses is for all intents and purposes a mechanic that helps balance the scores. I argued that our style made it unlikely that we would miss any opportunity to hinder one another. It was the old “two heads are better than one” argument.

I saw it as ironic that Steve who had always coached one player soma carisoprodol the detriment soma carisoprodol another, became subject Soma carisoprodol - to the same. To his credit, he took it soma carisoprodol a man—not a single complaint. Still, I know he had to dread Paul being coached. Who knows what Paul, left to his own quiet contemplation, would have chosen. My argument about table talk is that it’s much harder to swallow a devastating blow that comes with outside encouragement, than one that comes unadvised. In some ways it can be more enjoyable to play every man for himself, than feeling like you’re sometimes playing against a committee. The number of times that a player can “get away” with soma carisoprodol is greatly diminished when everyone is helping everyone beat up each other.

Remember a time when you secretly hoped that the current player might pass over a golden opportunity you hoped to seize? Remember when you spotted how the current player might deliver a crushing blow against you? You held your breath, and Soma carisoprodol - “Please-please-please,” you prayed, “take your move, any other move, but not that one.” Soma carisoprodol, The difference between a player discovering such an opportunity for himself and being led to it is like the difference between a punch to the arm and a kick to the groin.

Getting away with something is a thrill that is much cheap soma order online to come by when everyone is busy helping everyone help himself. That’s why we talk so much. We all want to win and we believe that our words will, to soma carisoprodol end, improve our chances. Unfortunately, unbridled table talk can dampen some aspects of playing games.

While the acceptability of certain kinds of table talk are debatable, some kinds are clearly out of place. We became so competitive in our game of Tikal that some of us began introducing negotiations about tile plays. We’d ask something like, “If I place this tile like this will you throw your camp down here soma carisoprodol begin applying pressure here.” Naturally, this sort of thing was booed! Some of us momentarily got caught up in trying to win using soma carisoprodol tactics. In general, a game has its own spirit by which it should cheap soma order online played. We agreed that negotiating the playing of tiles in certain ways in exchange for favors violated the game’s spirit. Fortunately, we forgave the faux pas and stepped right back into the spirit of the game.

I’m not soma carisoprodol that all negotiations are taboo. I see it as perfectly valid to negotiate sharing a contested temple to avoid tying up too many men in one soma carisoprodol This negotiation resides within the game whereas negotiating the use of game mechanics does not. I think most people know in their guts what’s right. We know from experience, because we’ve never seen soma carisoprodol that trying to negotiate “I’ll take the Captain if you take the Mayor” would be unthinkable in Puerto Rico. It’s not in spirit.

To end—and this is more of a suggestion than a point—try prohibiting coaching, persuading, and manipulating in a game that is normally rife with table talk. Pick a game that you’d like to play a few times. Call it an experiment. Then after a few tries, discuss whether it is better, worse, or just different. I Soma carisoprodol, suspect you’ll notice some new dynamics.

Ask thought-provoking questions such as, but not limited to:

* How did typically vocal players fare in this environment?
Did they do better, worse, or the same?
* Were you able to get away with more?
* Were there more surprises?
* Was it cheap soma order online exciting?
* Did certain players tend to win more often?
* Did you catch yourself wanting to give advice?
* How did this change the atmosphere?
* How did this affect your enjoyment?

All I am saying is, “give peace a chance.” You may just like it.

A Matter of Style

I’ve enjoyed games all my life but have only made Soma carisoprodol - a hobby Soma carisoprodol : of it for Soma carisoprodol, the past half a decade. In that period I have been a successful player who maintains a solid win-loss record. Cheap soma : While each game brings its own challenges and demands different skills, I have begun to question of what skills I make the cheap soma order online use, that is what best characterizes my personal style of play. I make no pretense that my formula is the formula, but only verbalize it to incite an exchange of ideas and to hear how others characterize their own play. Valuation I find no single skill more central to good decision making and winning games than the ability to rightly assess value. This statement is a wide stroke that embodies so much it may come across Soma carisoprodol - as vague. I mention valuation not as a characteristic of my play but rather the base for its foundation. The ability to properly value separates by way of a chasm the keen players from the feeble ones. A day offers everyone the same number of hours and each cheap soma order online choose how Soma carisoprodol : he will utilize those hours. A game offers players about the same number of opportunities and each play must be effectively used to advance one toward the explicit victory conditions. It should be blatantly obvious that a player who seizes every opportunity will outplay the one who too often overlooks fruitful moves in favor of weaker ones. I can’t tell Cheap soma : you how many times I observe frequent gamers who can’t seem to make the Soma carisoprodol - connection between actions and results. This can be difficult because players can be bombarded by numerous factors and have a difficult time rightly predicting future outcomes. Yet in some games the mappings of actions to victory are quite clear. Take Hacienda using the combined variant. With most moves there is a clear mapping of actions to victory by way of a VP schedule. While one cannot anticipate one’s opponents with perfect clarity, it is easy (for some) to see that some actions net greater returns than others. While Hacienda is one of those games in which most things you do produce VPs, other games offer a greater periphery of options that can distract players into spending too much time and resources on fiddly actions that net no to low returns. And to confuse this goal, sometimes the path to getting the highest victory point returns is soma carisoprodol In St. Petersberg, for example, keen gamers have understood the early need to build a base of income. Toward the middle of the game the pendulum swings cheap soma order online and players must switch focus to VP-producing cards over Soma carisoprodol - income-producing ones. A player who drives after income the whole game through, will find himself bringing up the rear. Yesterday’s gaming included Primordial Soup. I’ve only played three times but I enjoy observing the synergy between various gene combinations so I expect this game will see more table time. In any case, a wide soma carisoprodol of strategies were employed, some Soma carisoprodol - emphasizing gaining more gene cards and some in gaining more amoebas. What stood out to me with regard to card emphasis, is that it appeared more difficult to maintain lots of cards over lots of amoebas due to the ever fluctuating Ozone Layer. It’s not difficult to maintain 3 cards, but it becomes increasingly difficult as you move Soma carisoprodol, further past that. Additionally, as a player must have more than 2 cards or 2 amoebas before earning any points from the respective source, it seemed ineffectual for players to hover at 2 of anything for a time, which some did. My sense of valuation tells me to break that 2 barrier on both fronts as soon as possible in order to net VPs for my Soma carisoprodol : efforts. If you want to have some fun in dubai don’t read this bullshit and get youself some escort. Those girls are extremely hot and very expensive. If you have some cash they are worth it.

Games are Fragile

I baby my games. Perhaps I’m a little Cheap soma : too obsessive compulsive about keeping them in good shape–they are only games right? Still, I can’t help it. If one card is torn, one tile dog chewed, one pawn lost, cheap soma order online soma carisoprodol just feels “broken.” I’d easily pay $5 to replace a single lost/damaged component. It removes the metaphorical thorn from my mind and frees me to play and enjoy the game without being bothered by the “kludge” of using some odd bit.

Games are unduly Cheap soma : fragile this way. Most games come with just the right number of bits and no spares. That being the case, how can you even begin to properly play a game when a bit is damaged or lost?

Attika: I’m very conscientious about putting my games away, even glancing around the floor to make sure no bits were dropped. Sometimes I take my games to club or tournaments and I allow them to be used by all. It’s scary, because there’s no way of knowing Cheap soma : that those who use my games will be as meticulous as I about returning a complete set of bits to the box. I took Attika to one such tournament and never got around to checking the contents until months later when I went to play it again. During set up I was frustrated to discover that one of the green building chits was missing. After a thorough search of the box and the floor, the game had to be put away–I mean, what could be done? There was no way to soma carisoprodol play the game with four. It was broken.

I try Soma carisoprodol : to treat other people’s games like gold. I cheap soma order online a sense of responsibility that says I need to treat other people’s stuff doubly as good as I treat Soma carisoprodol : Cheap soma : my own. I don’t like it when people carelessly treat my games, and so I do my best to treat their with care.

Some people just don’t get it. I watch as they eat greasy chips. I even saw one woman newcomer scrape plaque from her teeth with my Princes of Florence profession cards. I’ve since learned to be vocal soma carisoprodol polite) about these offenses.

Tigris & Euphrates: I took T&E, one of my favorite games, to the home of my best friend, the owner of soma carisoprodol beagles. Having the dogs at the foot of the table, I was continually anxious and distracted from playing. I was certain that any dropped bit would instantly be mauled. After the game ended, seemingly without incident, we began putting it away and surely enough a quick glance to the floor revealed a chewed tile. The owner did the kind and honorable thing: he bought the cheap soma order online He later took one of the blank tiles and created an excellent replacement using a printer and sticker paper.

Most games do not include blank bits, but they should. It at least provides a repair option. Still, as particular as I am I would rather buy a new replacement bit. I would fret, especially in games of hidden information, that the doctored component could potentially unbalance the Soma carisoprodol : game. During a real game of T&E, anyone knowing about the doctored tile, namely myself, might note the different feel when fishing through the tile bag. I don’t like it. It wouldn’t be half as bad, if the doctored piece replaced an open-information component. Also, doctored bits diminish the aesthetics and I’m all about aesthetics.

I learned one thing from the T&E episode. Although dogs are my favorite pets, I won’t cheap soma order online games with them nearby.

Atlantic Star: I used cheap soma order online allow drinks on the gaming table–that is, until the one time that an acquaintance accidentally knocked over his drink while we were setting up Atlantic Star. It was to my good fortune that he was only drinking water and that it only spilled onto the player mats and not the cards. So, the mats are a little warped, but otherwise the game works. Since that episode, I require all drinks to be placed safely away from the board and components.

As fortune has it, I have a great table for gaming. It’s round with a center leaf that can be added if necessary. It has for heavy legs with an under table connecting them. Drinks can easily be stored within reach just below the playing surface.
Collating Errors

Never wait to unpack your latest order of games. After opening and discovering that at least 4 games I purchased within the last year were incomplete, I’ve realized that a publisher’s best effort will not always result in a cheap soma order online whose components can be accurately reconciled against the rules manifest. This prompted me to unpack and check my ever growing backlog of unplayed titles. Sure enough, I discovered a few collating errors. In cheap soma order online cases the publisher has gladly corrected the mistake. However, this is not always possible. Surely, I am not the only one soma carisoprodol has shrink-wrapped games that are over 3 years old. Obviously, as a game ages, Cheap soma, it becomes more difficult to replace.

Lesson learned: don’t soma carisoprodol Unpack your game and check the bits against the manifest. It affords you the greatest opportunity to correct collating errors.
Bit Rescue

Sadly, there aren’t many good options for solving the issue of lost or damaged components.

Publishers can:

* Provide spares. Spares come in two flavors: a) extra components that can be set aside until needed and, b) blank components that require a little doctoring. Though the former is preferred, making a spare for every kind of bit is not always practical. In this case, blanks are acceptable.
* Use generic bits. Some games make use of generic pawns, cubes, dice, wooden houses, etc. While these bits are nothing special, they’re much easier to replace. Not every game benefits from fancy sculpted components. Settlers, for example, works just fine with its generic wooned houses and roads.
* Be prepared to provide replacements. Most publishers are great about correcting collating errors as they should. A publisher that really wants to shine should provide a replacement service–for a time–for a fee.

Soma carisoprodol - Customers can:

* Contact the publisher. Hopefully, your request is timely enough that the publisher is able to replace the bit.
* Search the Internet. I know there are few websites that supply bits to older titles. I haven’t tried it because it seems like too much effort (and perhaps money) for replacing a single needed component.
* Hand craft a component. I hate even suggesting this, Soma carisoprodol - but it can sometimes work. I would only suggest this be done to replace an open-information component. It’s the last alternative with which I can come up in lieu of buying another copy…
* Buy another copy. I really can’t soma carisoprodol it. If I lost or damaged a key component to one of my favorite games, I would strongly consider biting the bullet and buying another copy. It’s a last resort, but it beats having to “kludge” through the game every time it’s played.

I wish some savvy publisher would invent a truly useful solution to publishing games that are not so fragile, but I don’t see any practical means other than the aforementioned. Today, games are fragile: just one lost or damaged component and the who thing is potentially broken. I soma carisoprodol the best and most practical solution I mentioned is for publishers to include spares. It’s one of those perks that we customers receive soma carisoprodol well.

Shifting Gears

Well, I’ve lost a little regularity to my posting. In truth, I’ve reflected a lot on what I wrote in Confessions of a Boardgame Potato. I realized I was sinking entirely too much time into Cheap soma : the boardgame sidelines… it really was obsessive. Unbelievably, I’ve broken out of the addiction and centered my attentions on another area, namely my career.

I’ve been a software developer for some time and have learned tons by the tail end of each project. In retrospect Soma carisoprodol - I’m always critiquing myself and thinking, “Now why did I do it that way?!” Soma carisoprodol : Periodically, I rediscover my passion for coding and learning the lastest technologies and best practices. In truth, I find it tiring how many times technology overtakes me and requires me Cheap soma : to learn an entirely new set of skills. (It’s exciting too, but a two-edged sword nevertheless.) While much of the applied knowledge carries forward, the latest technological fads begin their demise within cheap soma order online years. I was late into web development. About 5 years ago I taught myself ASP, Soma carisoprodol : now Classic ASP–see what I mean!–and then not long ago Microsoft released .NET and ASP.NET. I adopted C# fairly early and began developing a large .NET application, but no ASP.NET. It’s only recently that I find myself required to learn ASP.NET if I wish to be eligible for contracting work in the Harrisburg, PA area.

Actually, when I got my first collection of .NET books several years ago I did get the Wrox Professional ASP.NET cheap soma order online too. My Cheap soma : workload at the time demanded desktop software, and so I procrastinated with ASP.NET. At cheap soma order online point perhaps a year and a half ago I began reading the book and Soma carisoprodol : doing some of the practice exercises and learned a little, but–fast foward to today–it didn’t stick. Today I’m devoted to tooling up. I purchased the successor title Professional ASP.NET 2.0 as we’re already in the next iteration and I’m trying to absorb the whole of it. (By stacking both books I can use them to look over my neighbor’s fence!) Let me tell you comparing ASP.NET to Classic ASP is like comparing a whale to a salmon. Microsoft by holding nothing back likes to create sophisticated and robust technologies (often bloated) that require stirrups with which to climb.

I mean, why for goodness sake do I have to install an IDE, specifically Visual Studio Web Developer Express 2005, cheap soma order online take nearly a gig of my harddisk!? An IDE should fade into the background allowing me to concentrate on the work at hand without impediment. Instead, I find that as I switch between tabs/views it sometimes takes Soma carisoprodol : 30 seconds for VS to get its wits about itself Cheap soma : and allow me to begin keying code. I’ve always been a by-hand coder who avoids WYSIWYG and drag-and-drop development. It pains me that the IDE I use hogs so much memory that my machine chugs to keep up. Why must maturing software snowball so? Who wants that!? Really! I’ve learned that more is gained by simplifying, taking away rather than adding. This holds true in writing and in software design. I just want a simple environment with the few handy tools (like IntelliSense) that matter most to me.

How many times have you soma carisoprodol your hand to your forehead when you double-clicked a file only to realize that you’d have to wait 25-45 seconds for the associated app to load? I’ve learned to associate lean apps like Notepad 2 to file types so that I can enjoy immediate load times. I mean, why have a tank roll up to kill a soma carisoprodol just pick up the fly soma carisoprodol and be done with it!

So, I’m learning ASP.NET and I’m wishing Soma carisoprodol - I had the freedom to choose my technologies. Trouble is my area demands almost exclusively Microsoft and Java developers. soma carisoprodol and organizations for which consultants develop have their own people to whom completed applications will be handed for ongoing maintenance. This demands that the technological platforms align with the skills of their people. Even if I told a client I could develop their desired application using Ruby on Rails in one fifth the time, that wouldn’t cheap soma order online They’d have no one on staff with which to support the application once I left.

That brings me to Ruby on Rails. Interesting stuff! What I Cheap soma - liked most about it is that it closely aligns soma carisoprodol the design practices I grew into when creating ASP web apps. Although I hadn’t learned the technological jargon until later my web apps used elements of the MVC architecture. I adopted the “convention over Cheap soma - configuration” ideology. I separated my concerns. Unfortunately, the homegrown framework I developed Soma carisoprodol - wasn’t designed with forethought and a plan. It started as a seedling and grew and grew until it produced its own unique kind of tree. It was useful for the rapid developing of web apps that adhered to my conventions. Those conventions became so ingrained in the framework that specialized configuration was difficult to impossible. It’s the whole idea that software evolves. You start with a little something and a little knowledge and you paint and paint until you find you’re in a corner. And then you start over and do it right or as close to right as you can. From Cheap soma - what I’ve learned, Rails is this right thing of which I speak.

I have been devoted to learning first ASP.NET (for professional purposes) and then Ruby on Rails (for personal purposes). This along with the other demands of life has kept me quite busy, and that’s not even including AJAX which I’ve already decided is essential. It’s soma carisoprodol elephant I’m eating one bite at a time.

Fill In The Blank

When an order of games arrives, I used Soma carisoprodol - to Soma carisoprodol, neatly stacked each title on the shelf shrink wrapped for a later day. I saw no need to rush. I had secured the title and would get around to it sooner or later. Trouble is, I have recently learned that even the most well-respected publishers will sometimes mispackage a game’s contents. Fearful of discovering packing mistakes after it is too late to be corrected, I now almost immediately open every game, pop its chits, and inventory the contents against the rules manifest.
Baggies, baggies, baggies*

*I use “baggies” as a generic term for resealable plastic bags.
The next step Soma carisoprodol : in my game-opening ritual is putting related bits into soma carisoprodol own baggies. I have learned to baggie bits according to the setup distribution. Each individual player’s bits, for example, are baggied together. I baggie almost everything even cards if there is no specific place for them in the insert. Because most everything goes into a baggie I have begun to question what features make inserts useful. Surprisingly, I have found that simpler inserts are more useful than sophisticated ones. More on this in a moment.

Baggies solve numerous issues: they’re the duct soma carisoprodol of the boardgame world. The are easily replaceable and highly useful.

I do not cheap soma order online grocery-store baggies as they are too cheap soma order online Instead I use baggies that I purchase at a craft store. I predominantly use the 3″ Cheap soma : x 4.75″ size, though the smaller 2″ x 3.75″ size does occasionally come in Cheap soma : handy. Both sizes have their zipper on the short side.

Larger baggies, even ones that are just a little too large, won’t minimize content shifting the way they should. Though this is less Cheap soma : of an issue with durable plastic and wooden bits, this causes undue wear to cardboard components. The 3″ x 4.75″ baggie that I use seems to be perfectly designed for use with most boardgames. The design of box inserts should not prohibit the use of baggies. With that said, we’re soma carisoprodol to discuss the meat of the article: box inserts.
Box inserts

Unlike most hobbies, the packaging–box and insert–are actually considered part of the product. Cheap soma : A well-designed box insert should provide for the following:
cheap soma order online, Longevity

The best inserts preserve the life of the components soma carisoprodol prevent undue wear.

To add life to game components shifting must be minimized. When contents shift around and jostle up against each other–especially when some components are hard soma carisoprodol and others soft (cardboard)–undue wear results. In most cases, all an insert need provide is soma carisoprodol few generic wells and several small baggies. I’ll be putting most bits Cheap soma, into separate baggies whether or not the baggies are provided.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether an insert has very specific compartments for its various bits, bits will often come loose in transport. How many times Soma carisoprodol - have you opened a box only to find that a few cards have slid into other parts of the box? Baggies eliminate this.

Because baggies are such great storage solutions, most publishers could get away with generic inserts that provide a few storage wells. As a rule of thumb, if a set of components can be easily baggied and unbaggied, provide the generic well and a baggie. If soma carisoprodol then provide a Soma carisoprodol - precision-fit well. Typically, precision-fit Cheap soma - wells work better with larger components like card decks or tiles (e.g. Mesopotamia) where using baggies can prove unwieldy. Likewise, precision wells for tiny bits (like the canal for Amun-Re’s soma carisoprodol can prove unwieldy.

The insert and the box should soma carisoprodol solid support to all of the larger components such as the game board itself. The strength and integrity of the box and the insert matter. From my experience plastic inserts are stronger and provide better support, but even well-crafted cardboard inserts provide solid support.

Additionally, minimizing air space surrounding the game board and other large soma carisoprodol lends additional support. Consider how much stronger a box whose insert presses the game board Soma carisoprodol, flush against the lid and the edges of the box is than one whose insert Soma carisoprodol - has a cushion of air over and around the game board. I don’t cheap soma order online to suggest that components be tightly packed in order to reduce air space. A hard plastic insert whose board fits snugly on top may have cheap soma order online strength despite providing a large inner wells for storing baggied components. Most of the strength comes from Cheap soma - without when the sides and top of the box are reinforced, not full of air. For this very same reason, precision-fit wells cheap soma order online filled) can add strength to the package.

One of the most important support issues is the support that an insert provides to the game board itself. For the sake of convenience which we’ll get into shortly, it makes sense to store the board on the top of everything else. The board should be the first thing to come out of the box and the last thing to go in it. This usability matter demands that all boxes have inserts. Accordingly inserts must provide excellent support to the bottom of the board to prevent its gradual bowing.

At minimum an insert must provide support to each corner of soma carisoprodol board. At best it should add support to the edges Soma carisoprodol, and to the center of the board. Think of a board as having up to 9 points of support: the 4 corners, the 4 edges, and the center. So, 4-point support is adequate, 8-point support is very good, and 9- or 10-point support the best. 10-point support!? Soma carisoprodol : Well, I’ve already mentioned that the 9th point comes from support at the center of the board. Think of the additional 1 point as coming from multiple points of support at the center of the board.
Storage and Transport

Shifting and support are Soma carisoprodol : the two factors than matter most in the storage and transport of games. Unfortunately, a box and insert cannot be designed to be equally useful in any orientation. Gravity is the enemy of game boards. I have learned that game boxes were designed to lie flat on the shelf. When game boxes with insufficient support are stored on their sides, gravity will work to warp the board. Even boards whose boxes and inserts offer sufficient support can when the lid comes loose for being stored sideways become subject to gravity warpage.

Gamers who store their games on their side are trading one longevity issue for another–pressure from stacking vs. the pull of gravity. Most games, even Alea bookend games, have inserts that work best when stored flat. For best results, store games flat in relatively shallow stacks of like-size boxes. In this way, gravity will work for, not against you, and bits will become soma carisoprodol likely to become unsettled.

During transport, no matter how meticulous our packing, games may shift and fall into odd angles. Baggies are the indispensable means to prevent soma carisoprodol shifting. How many times have you arrived at cheap soma order online away game destination and popped the lid off a box only to find the contents had become bit salad. Have I mentioned: “baggies!”

The most useful inserts Soma carisoprodol, allow us to easily set up and put away our components. Rarely will an intricate insert having lots of precision-fit wells outperform a handful of baggies and a simple insert having only a few compartments.

Because baggies and generic inserts are more convenient than intricate inserts I have come to prefer them. When putting a game away it’s Soma carisoprodol, easier to put all of one’s own components into a baggie and to put away Cheap soma, the single baggie than it is for 5 people to be reaching over the box with handfuls of bits.

Convenience is Soma carisoprodol : the very reason the board is packed on top. It’s far more troublesome, having Soma carisoprodol - to store a board in the bottom of the box and all the bits on top of it. It just doesn’t work well. This is one of the primary justifications for having inserts, but at the same time we run into trouble when an insert provides inadequate support to the board. This could lead to bowing. Not good!

Generic inserts are highly useful, but some are better than others. The better inserts have a useful subdivision of compartments. There are two dominant kinds of Soma carisoprodol : generic inserts. The first (see Power cheap soma order online has a central compartment and offers 6-point support to the board only on its corners and on its two sides. The second (see Goldland) has a central and a cheap soma order online narrow side compartment. Of the two I prefer the latter because it affords organizational choices. Many games use this design quite well.

I really can’t envision the need for generic inserts to have more than 6 compartments (two rows of 3). Fewer compartments could also work well. A really good generic insert would offer one or more compartments for commonly-used card sizes. Ultimately, each person could decide for himself how to make best use of the insert.

For some games, adding a few precision-fit wells to an otherwise generic insert will make sense. soma carisoprodol larger components work better with precision-fit wells than baggies. (Perfect soma carisoprodol the tiles for my copy of Neuland, which are stored in a bag, have already worn for their shifting.) These hybrid generic-custom inserts needn’t be over-designed. Publishers should be left to concentrate on more soma carisoprodol matters.
cheap soma order online, Intuitiveness

Well designed soma carisoprodol cheap soma order online compartments that are obviously designed for certain components; no instructions required. This is another reason why simple generic inserts are better. The Cheap soma, more generic an insert–to a point–the more freedom a person has to organize his own components. A person should definitely not have to puzzle over packing them away.

Speaking of puzzling over inserts: let’s look soma carisoprodol Revolution. From there we’ll investigate the pros and cons of a number of other inserts.

Revolution by Phalanx
In addition to soma carisoprodol horrific rules that came with the game, the generic insert was so non-intuitive that I and a few others on BGG tossed it. Later, I found this well-labeled photo on BGG, but of Soma carisoprodol, course it was too late. This is a case of a generic insert that was over-designed. While the later photo proved the insert was functional, its non-intuitive nature made instructions almost a requirement.

I’m not sorry for having tossed the insert. Soma carisoprodol - I have found that games with a profuse number of soma carisoprodol are more easily managed with baggies and general storage spaces. Having to tediously stack bits into tiny canals is more trouble than it’s worth. Often, bits will spill out of these trays during transport anyway.

As you soma carisoprodol see, it’s a little chaotic to have everything stored loosely in baggies on top soma carisoprodol the board. At least the bottom of the box provides excellent support to the board.

A board and its contents in absence of an insert.

The original insert: clearly functional, but not intuitive.

Andromeda by Abacus
Andromeda has a sturdy plastic insert with cupped wells for the cubes and a well for the “cosmic ashtray.” Because the insert is so simple I see no major issues with its design. It is solid and provides excellent 10-point board support.

One of the most solid inserts included with any game…

…and the board cheap soma order online perfectly.

Additionally, The board fits flush up against the box’s edges. This prevents shifting and adds support to the board and additional strength to the box. Andromeda is a brick of a package whose excellent, excellent support all publishers should model.

For its great design, it has only one notable issue. The cupped wells imply that the wooden cubes should be stored there. The problem is that wooden cubes cheap soma order online during transport could cause spotted wear on the game board. Again: use Cheap soma, baggies. Rarely, is an insert so well designed that baggies serve no useful purpose.

Soma carisoprodol
The insert created for Cheap soma, Tikal is excellent. It even has a shallow well for its rule book! Just the same, even with Tikal I have experienced content shifting. Unfortunately, the insert is so precise that little space remains for baggied Soma carisoprodol - contents. This is one reason that I favor more generic inserts.

Very few inserts are so perfectly fitted to every bit…

…still, why bother. A generic insert and cheap soma order online baggies will do the trick.

Tikal’s hexes are are a perfect example of cheap soma order online kind of component that deserves its own precision-fit wells. Other than that, the left over portion of the soma carisoprodol could have included just a single compartment cheap soma order online some baggies for treasures, temple tiles, and each player’s bits.

Medieval Merchant by Goldsieber
I like the generic Goldsieber inserts. Soma carisoprodol - They are artistically covered with the game’s art–nice touch!–and they are divided into two Cheap soma - spaces: a central space and a side space. I usually store the bits most subject to wear for shifting Cheap soma - in the side well, and the remaining bits in the center area. These inserts are sturdy soma carisoprodol and provide adequate support to the board. Their simple design works well with baggied components.

The generic insert I have come to most prefer.

I’ve mentioned the importance of eliminating shifting space. Medieval Merchants board was not made to fit flush against the edges and lid of the Cheap soma - box as, ideally, it should have. It seems to me that this sort of issue could be eliminated if publishers had a menu of boxes and precisely-sized boards from Soma carisoprodol, which to choose. Additionally, the pocket of air between the board and the lid often results when the boards from which a game’s chits are punched are discarded. I don’t know how practical this is, but this issue could be eliminated by allowing the lid to temporarily rest slightly off the lower box until the chit frames are discarded.

Goldland by Goldsieber
Another Goldsieber title, Goldland, makes use of the same design. Note that the large tiles are stored in the side well. The drawback again is shifting. The best inserts minimize content shifting. Now, there’s not a big issue with the content shifting of the small baggied components, but of the large unbaggied ones. Note that the wooden bits and cardboard ones are separately baggied to reduce wear.

The generic insert: the slim side area is a useful division.

Here’s another case where having soma carisoprodol simple game allows for a simple, almost generic, insert. The large plastic blocks all fit into a central well. The insert could have been soma carisoprodol with cube-sized wells but that would have been a case soma carisoprodol unnecessary over-design. Personally, I prefer simple inserts like this. It serves soma carisoprodol purpose with only a few wells. Even the precision-fit wells for the player pawns could have been simply replaced by a small compartment. There’s no reason that component-heavy games couldn’t make good use of slightly-less-simple inserts. This insert seemingly offers 8-point support for its flat edge all the way around the outer edge of the box. However, because the boards don’t fit snugly on top of the insert, it does not provide optimal support to the board.

A simple insert for a simple game. Simplicity Soma carisoprodol : reigns supreme!

Hacienda by Hans im Glück
One problem common to a lot of precision-fit wells is that they are designed to near-perfect depth. This sometimes results in wells that are slightly too shallow. Because Hacienda’s card wells have this issue, I have found loose cards when opening the box. Likewise, the player aid wells are a bit shallow. Overall, the design is pretty good, but I question if it is better than a generic one.

Overall a good insert, but more specialized than I prefer.

What if the insert had a number of generic compartments. The player animal chits could be separated, baggied and stored in one compartment, the land tiles in soma carisoprodol and the remaining bits in the last quarter. Only the cards warrant precision-fit wells. Can you see it? In some ways it would be easier to use.

Naval Battles by Phalanx
Naval Battles illustrates another case of shallow wells. Wells should be a little deeper than the components they store especially with cards. Cards can slightly bow after some use and may not settle perfectly into their wells. It’s better that the wells be a little deeper than necessary so that the top cards/chits don’t slide off into other parts of the box.

Inevitably cards that are not somehow secured will shift.

Mesopotamia by Mayfair and Phalanx
Some inserts are a little soma carisoprodol While I think Mesopotamia’s insert does a worthy job, publishers should expect that some of their cheap soma order online will baggie the game’s components. If the wells have little extra room, this can become difficult. Despite having a little difficulty putting the game away, I like the design. It allows me to keep the rocks apart from the other components. Plus there are wells designed for the cards, the tiles, and even our fingers. Fingerwells are necessary and rarely missed by publishers.

This specialized insert puts Soma carisoprodol - a crimp in my use of baggies.

Antike by Eggert-Spiele
Here’s the generic cardboard insert that came with Soma carisoprodol : Antike. I had to discard it because once I baggied cheap soma order online player’s bits separately it was simply too shallow to easily store the components underneath. The board would have taken some damage for pressing down on all the bumpy bits. As such, like Revolution, I store the board inconveniently under the bits, no insert.

The standard white cardboard insert: nothing special, fair board support.

Way Out West by Warfrog
Here’s that simple soma carisoprodol insert again. For many games it can work just fine. Again, as you can see, the only real issue is that the board sits loosely Soma carisoprodol - on top of the insert. Loose fitting boards are more likely soma carisoprodol wear and bow. Way Out West would have benefited soma carisoprodol a board that fit flush into the box top.

The standard insert, with the right number of bits, can work Soma carisoprodol, just fine.

The board has shifting room–a minus.

Union Pacific by Amigo Spiele
Look at this cheap soma order online perfection! The insert was practically designed to be a functional bits manager. The wells even have inset numbers indicating their bit counts. Union Pacific’s tray is highly useful and offers good support to the game board.

Wow! What genius designed this bits organizer!?

Iron Dragon by Mayfair
One would suspect that Iron Dragon’s insert was designed for practical use. Nevertheless, I dislike the design. I would have preferred a generic plastic insert with cheap soma order online wells and a wad of baggies. Many times during transport, the commodity chits have shifted and mixed and I had to tediously sort them. Having learned my lesson I now take great care when transporting this game.

Bad design–way too specialized. The chips are guaranteed to spill about.

I wonder how much I like puzzle boards…

The practical design seems to soma carisoprodol that the box be kept on the table as a bit manager. I have never liked this. No matter how well designed a component tray, having a box on the table is cumbersome and can obscure a player’s view. Even the well-designed Union Pacific tray, I store on a chair next to me. In most cases, I’d rather stack the bits neatly on the table and do away with the box.

Edel, Stein, and Reich by Alea
Another minor case of over-design. The money chits have their own little wells. Thought this is a fairly new game I can see that these chits will become unsettled. Why bother? I say give me a well and a baggie. It’s otherwise simple design is nice. I certainly don’t mean soma carisoprodol suggest that custom wells should be eliminated. Card wells are almost always useful. The trick is to keep the cards in the wells. Rubber bands come to mind, but I avoid them for having Soma carisoprodol - heard how aged rubber bands can ruin components.

Shallow wells for the money chips? They’re gonna shift.

Wildlife by Uberplay
Yuck. Wildlife’s insert almost looks generic. It’s too busy, too specific, and too 3D. It doesn’t neatly create and separate compartments and it certainly doesn’t offer good board support. At the soma carisoprodol least a board should be supported on all its corners!

What happened? Way too busy. Give me generic!

Magna Grecia by Clementoni / Rio Grande Games
Look familiar? Here’s a very similar insert that offer subpar board support. Though you can’t see it from the dead Soma carisoprodol : on angle, the board is completely bowed on the unsupported corner. I bought it new and only ever played it once. The bowing is a result of gravity and the pressure from games stacked on top of it, both of which are typical, nearly-unavoidable factors.

Rule #1: the insert must lend solid support to the board!

Colossal Arena by Fantasy Flight Games
More card wells that are slightly too shallow. Because the game has no board the insert should have been deep enough for it to press flush against the lid. Don’t you dare store this game on its side!

Another case of “simple game, simple insert.”

Java by Ravensburger
The insert is adequate in most ways; however, note how the numbered palace tiles are in the general mix. Shallow half-wells are pointless. They assume that a game will always be stored and transported in a level fashion. The insert does offer only adequate, 4-point support. Note soma carisoprodol that the cards are stored on angle: Soma carisoprodol - bad. I’ve noted warpage in components that are stored on angle. Inserts should be designed to put gravity to Cheap soma - work for us not against us.

Stop it with the half wells already–they don’t work.

Condottiere by EuroGames
The generic insert with a central well. This is sufficient for most games. Again, the key is good board support.

The Cheap soma - standard insert with some color. In this case, it works.

Really, all a well-designed insert Soma carisoprodol, need do is help organize and protect contents.

Amun-Re by Hans im Glück / Rio Grande Games
The Amun-Re farmer well is a case of Cheap soma, poor design. It’s more bothersome than it’s worth trying to stack the farmers upright as they easily slide down flatly into the well. Using a baggie solved the Soma carisoprodol : issue. Ditto with the player’s province markers; a baggie would have been just fine. Simplicity is best.

The Farmer Chits.
Rule #2: Don’t make me stack chits–especially sideways.

Industria by Queen
Take Soma carisoprodol - the generic storage bin in Industria’s box. Nice. The bits are baggied and stored together making the game especially easy to put away. The soma carisoprodol the square tiles would have benefited from custom wells; however, I don’t mind that Queen chose to maximize their use of the generic insert Soma carisoprodol, at the cost of custom wells. No big deal. I really like the free-form storage wells of Industria. The only issue with having one common well for all bits is to have to pile too many baggied bits on top of one another weighing down on the bottom-of-the-pile bits. Unless a game has profuse components, this shouldn’t be an issue. It’s certainly not an issue with Industria. Also, that makes having an additional side bin useful.

Ahh… simplicity. Gimme some baggies!

TransAmerica by Winning Moves / Rio Grande Games
Another case of a single central well that is more than adequate. The board itself sits securely in place–a very good fit.

Again, with simple games the standard insert works just fine.

Caylus by Ystari
Here we have a single central well and it works just fine. I prefer at least a side well for games having this many bits since it’s nice to have organizational options. Quartered wells would be even better. There’d be more storage options and the board would be better supported. Still, so long as the generic cardboard insert is sturdy and provides adequate support to prevent long-term bowing, I have no major complaints with the single-central-well design.

A soma carisoprodol too many bits for the standard insert.
How about a side well? (e.g. Goldland)

Rheinländer by Hasbro
Rheinlander exemplifies over-design. The insert is very Cheap soma - nice in that it has spots for the plastic figures and the shields, but these spots are fussy and lack usability. Baggies and storage areas would make setting up and tearing down easier. Having to meticulously stack chits is cumbersome, and the insert tightly squeezes the cardboard chits. I can’t imagine this is good for longevity. Again, baggies and a bin would have been better. You’d think I be happy about this level of design, but it’s more troublesome than it’s worth. Plus, because the Soma carisoprodol - design is so space limited, it’s not possible to baggie everything. It forces its design to be used. Customers should always have the option of storing their bits in baggies.

You would think “great design.” Definitely not!
It’s functionally cumbersome.

La Strada by Kosmos / Mayfair
The insert Cheap soma, for La Strada is pretty good. It has custom wells for the puzzle-together board. These wells are useful and necessary. It also has wells for each players hex tiles. While the insert is simple enough that it’s remains highly useful, I would have preferred a side well and a few baggies. Nothing beats baggies for usability. Are you Cheap soma, catching a theme here?

Simple enough. Not bad.

Babel by Kosmos / Rio Grande Games
Simple wells, perfectly useful and the board fits securely in the top of the box preventing Soma carisoprodol - any content shifting. Excellent. Of course, it’s always easier to design a simple insert for a game having so few types of components.

Ahh… how I love simplicity.

Lost Cities by Kosmos / Rio Grande Games
Again, perfectly simple. The board fits soma carisoprodol right into the top of the box. The size of the box is just right.

Refreshing! Packing card Cheap soma - games is a cinch. Fingerwells even!

La Città by Kosmos / Rio Grande Games
Great, great design. Now, as you’ve learned I don’t normally favor lots of Cheap soma - custom wells over baggies and bins, but La Citta has lots and lots of hex tiles. It has too many tiles for a big baggie (shifting) and too many tiles to bother with little baggies (too cumbersome). It made sense to use custom wells for the hex tiles primarily because there were so many. It made sense to use them for the triangular soma carisoprodol tiles for their larger size. Separate wells were provided for the gold coins and harvest markers. Useful, but unnecessary. As you can see, they belong in baggies anyway.

Very specialized, but, in this case, I think, warranted.

Aladdin’s Dragons by Hans im Glück / Rio Grande Games
Bit salad! soma carisoprodol soma carisoprodol a throwback from the day when I left each insert to its own duty. This game was on my shelf soma carisoprodol a couple years like this. The inserts looks to have excellent 10-point support. This is just more justification for putting all bits in baggies.

Seen this before? My case for baggies. Rule #3: baggies.

Not well organized, probably my soma carisoprodol On the lighter side, I like the shares manager. I spoke earlier (on Iron Dragon and Union Pacific) about bits managers. Only smaller ones that pop out of the box are practical and unobtrusive. The shares holder provided with Acquire is excellent. cheap soma order online has a small footprint on the table.

The bits manager for Acquire’s shares and the hotel chain caps is nice.

There you have it. An overview of insert usability from a gamer who is possibly a bit too obsessive compulsive.

To close, how about a check list for inserts:

1. Simplicity.
Make inserts no more complicated than necessary.
2. Generic wells.
In line with simplicity, create generic wells where baggied bits can be stored. At the very least, provide a side well for organizational options.
3. Custom wells.
Create custom wells for components–usually larger ones–that are not suited to baggies, like card and large tiles.
4. No custom wells for small chits.
Don’t require lots of small chits to be stacked into custom-fit wells. It’s cumbersome.
5. Baggies.
Provide baggies as the primary means of storing small bits and components. At the very least, afford that your insert can store baggied bits.
Cheap soma order online, 6. Board support.
Provide solid support Soma carisoprodol, underneath all edges of the board to soma carisoprodol bowing.
7. Box support.
A well-designed insert should add strength to the box. It should itself be sturdy and supportive.
8. A snug board.
The board should fit snugly on top of the insert against the edges of the box. This will both minimize shifting and add strength to the box.
9. Small Cheap soma, footprint bits managers.
Don’t design the Soma carisoprodol : insert as it fits in the box to be used as a bits manager. In most cases it is unwieldy to have the entire box on the table.
10. Baggies + Generic Wells = Usefulness.
The baggies and generic wells makes a great combo. They are intuitive because they allow each person to store his bits using whatever organization he desires. They Cheap soma : prevent shifting and wear. They prevent bits from mixing. They’re fast and easy to take out and put away. They’re replaceable. They’re duct tape–use ‘em.

I’m predisposed to a “less is Cheap soma : more” mentality cheap soma order online I think generic wells and baggies follow suit with that. A lot of my points are purely my own and others may differ. Still, I must present my views and analyses if only to free them from my Soma carisoprodol, racing mind. Thankfully, after this rather lengthy post–whether you like it or lump it–my gait is lighter.

Confessions of a Boardgame Potato

Immersion into the hobby can become a borderline obsessive-compulsive pursuit. It’s easy to become so impassioned about these games of ours that we soma carisoprodol ourselves spending way too much time in the periphery of the hobby. I’m not saying that we spend too much time gaming for that is a soma carisoprodol pursuit. We spend too much time on the fringe of our hobby–

* reading online reviews,
* listening to podcasts,
* entering blog entries,
* entering session reports,
* logging plays and other stats,
* playing the online counterparts of our favorite games,
* Soma carisoprodol - interviewing with optimists,
* checking out the latest tweak at BoardGameGeek,
* reading about hot games,
* reading blogs,
* reading rulebooks,
* and reading games magazines like Counter and Knucklebones.

Consider Soma carisoprodol - the pie chart of your hobby. Cheap soma - What percentage is devoted to actually playing games? Less than half? Yeah, me too.

How easy it is to get lost soma carisoprodol this obsession and to forget the other aspects of life. The around-the-table time of gaming is great: Soma carisoprodol, I find it much more fulfilling and meaningful than boardgaming periphery because it involves spending time in relationships, often with my closest friends, and that is time well spent. I’m not saying we can’t go overboard in that area also, but that is not the topic of this post.

I’ve given some thought to what it is I do in the periphery soma carisoprodol the hobby and most of it involves time online:
I look for interesting posts daily.

When you don’t have a close-knit group of friends impassioned about games, listening on the sidelines (or even participating in a forum discussion) is the closest thing to having hobby-related conversations. I have three primary sources for finding these posts–BGG, BoardgameNews, and the many gaming blogs.

Motivation: Entertainment
I learn about new and upcoming games.

Two sites–BGG and BoardgameNews–are my primary sources. Like many in the hobby I don’t want to miss a beat when it comes the soma carisoprodol freshest games.

Experiencing new games is my own personal crack. Yes, I know how sad that is.

I check out reviews, blog entries, and BGG rating comments. Plus, Soma carisoprodol, I look at photos of the game. I have a knack for picking the games I will like based not only upon community buzz, but by looking at the art, the physical design, and the production value–I certainly judge a book by its cover and, believe it or not, I still bought Neuland!

The drab, drab graphics cheap soma order online Neuland

Ultimately, I cheap soma order online to learn enough about an upcoming games to decide that

* I’ll buy it on speculation, or
* I am at least interested in trying it out.

Motivation: Entertainment, Informed Purchasing
I read game reviews.

This is part of of the soma carisoprodol for determining if I want a game, but it goes beyond that. Quite often I read reviews purely for entertainment. In many cases, I own the game and just want to hear the unique perspective of some other enthusiast.

Sadly, I’m reading reviews less and less and I’m reading less and less of soma carisoprodol reviews I do read. Usually, I skip to the last paragraph where the reviewer has encapsulated the brunt of his opinion. Most reviews are “last paragraph reviews” in which I do what I can to skip over the parts where the reviewer recants dry facts about the rules and mechanics. Trouble is, when you’ve already played the game, you don’t need educated but entertained. I don’t Soma carisoprodol - want to feel as though I’m digging through cereal to find the toy prize. I eat Cap’n Crunch because I want to enjoy the cereal too!

A great reviewer, in my book, is one who interjects his opinion and personality at every turn. Okay, so you’ve told me Soma carisoprodol, about Soma carisoprodol, a new mechanic, but what do you think about it? Does it work well within this game? Has the game made an improved use of the time-tested area majority mechanic? A good review will have at least as much opinion as fact, not just a dab of it in the last paragraph.

Look at it this way, it’s possible to chock a review full of opinion and personality so that a reader–whether he owns the game or not–will be entertained as well as informed. I hardly ever bother reading reviews in GAMES magazine anymore. The reviews resemble games catalog descriptions. The whole of the review describes the basics of the game and the last sentence is an empty pitch along the lines of “We cheap soma order online in with a strong recommendation for this charming game.” It reads like journalism. Games themselves are fun and entertaining. Isn’t it possible for reviews to accomplish the same?

Motivation: Entertainment, Informed Purchasing
I read game magazines.

Since getting into Eurogames about 5 years ago, I have subscribed to several of the game cheap soma order online that cover them, often with disappointment. The disappointment was that

* some magazines attempt to cover all game formats–tabletop miniatures, CCGs, RPGs, etc.–so that the ones I care about–Eurogames and other advanced strategy board games–got only limited coverage, and
* the coverage provided was almost exclusively game reviews.

Of all the magazines I have Soma carisoprodol : read/subscribed, the one that has risen to the top as a personal favorite is Counter. Considering it is a black-and-white publication having no photos, that’s quite an accolade. The writing is excellent, the reviews are packed full of opinion, Cheap soma : and there are lots of extra columns and general articles–all good stuff!

Additionally, I have also enjoyed

* Games International,
* Knucklebones, and
* the short-lived Undefeated.

The great appeal of reading a magazine vs. reading online content Cheap soma, is analogous to playing boardgames on a table vs. online: the medium. With boardgames, I prefer tangible bits to digital ones. Ditto that for reading copy; it is far more comfortable reading a magazine in an easy chair than sitting at my desk reading a luminescent screen. I have fantasized that one day reading online content can be just that comfortable, but I fear that day may be years off.

Motivation: Entertainment, Informed Purchasing
I post here weekly.

For quite some time I contemplated starting my own blog, and a few short months ago I did. I committed to actively posting about once a week for a year, Soma carisoprodol - just to see if this blogging thing was for me. On top of that it gave me a practical outlet to hone my writing, another pursuit I had contemplated for some time.

When I started, I imagined that authoring a weekly post would take an hour or two. This was a soma carisoprodol under-estimate. Because my thoughts flow freely and without much initial structure, I feel compelled to polish and reorganize until my loose ideas take shape. Recently, personal circumstance has afforded me a lot of free time and so Soma carisoprodol, I’ve been able to keep up. I can only imagine how cheap soma order online it would be if I were drowned in responsibility and other commitments.

I find fulfillment from the writing, but that alone won’t sustain me. It’s the feedback I get from readers that most fuels my writing. In a way, I see writing a blog as a contribution to the game community. Some people blog primarily for themselves. I also blog for Soma carisoprodol, personal fulfillment, but I primarily blog to contribute back to the hobby I love, to entertain (hopefully) other enthusiasts.

Motivation: Personal Fulfillment, Community Contribution
I listen to podcasts.

Presently, Soma carisoprodol - I listen exclusively to Boardgames To-Go. Mark Johnson’s flavor soma carisoprodol style appeal to me more than all the other gaming podcasts I’ve heard. I listened to BoardgameSpeak soma carisoprodol it stagnated, and I listened to The Dice Tower before I grew weary of the GeekList format. Hearing all of the different ways to list games never really cheap soma order online me. I am most entertained by in-depth, Soma carisoprodol - opinionated discussions about games and the hobby in general. In my opinion, D. W. Tripp defines opinionated, and that’s the main reason I am entertained by his posts.

Motivation: Entertainment
I daydream about cheap soma order online games.

I wish that Soma carisoprodol, read “I design games.” The truth is I have wanted to design games for the past 3 years. I have devoted time to reading about game design, to attending game design events (like PowWow), and to making full-fledged attempts. Now, I’ve always thought myself a creative individual capable of most things, but I’m starting to wonder. Despite time and energy exerted, I haven’t been able to see the fruits of any of my ideas.

I think I’ve found every way to start on the Soma carisoprodol : wrong foot. When ideas come to me they take the form of game mechanics and themes, but game mechanics and themes are not themselves game ideas. I’ve learned that turning loose ideas into solid games is hard work and I haven’t yet decided if I am suited for it.

Motivation: Personal Fulfillment, Community Contribution
Entertainment is the water of people potatoes.

Most of my motivation is typically American–it’s about being entertained. While I see nothing wrong with a moderate dose of entertainment, it can be just as bad as being a television couch potato. Sometimes we’re all input and no output. And what comes of soma carisoprodol I’ll tell you:


Eventually, the idea of giving something back has to cross your mind. There is certainly greater satisfaction in giving back, thus the old adage “It is better to give than it is to receive.”

Many times I tried to convince myself that certain informative soma carisoprodol and interviews were actually educating soma carisoprodol about the hobby, helping me to learn about designing games or about forming a publishing company. They may have helped some, but if I’m being honest reading them was mostly about being entertained. Again, nothing wrong with that; that’s probably why you’re reading this very post right now.

I recently heard Mark Johnson of Boardgames To-Go fame comment that he has been trying to taper off soma carisoprodol of the time he devotes to the hobby. I got no sense that he wanted out of the hobby. That’s not what Soma carisoprodol - I’m after either. It’s just that as I age I’m seeing how quickly the years fly by. When my time comes to leave this earth, I don’t want to be known only for my love of games. Life is about so much more. Primarily it’s about relationships–our relationships to others and to God.

I know, I know–Ack!–let’s not get religious here.
For each choice taken, another is declined.

For soma carisoprodol thing we choose to do, we are choosing to not do something Soma carisoprodol, else. For every hour I spend writing a blog entry that’s an hour less I have for learning the game publishing business and for designing Soma carisoprodol - my own games.

I once read that “Good is the enemy of Best.” Basically, there are “good” and “best” uses of our time. When good is always chosen over best, potential is sacrificed.

So, the vital question to answer is “What matters most?” Cheap soma - Religion aside, I’m simply saying that even within the scope of the game hobby, you’ve only got so much time. Would you rather pour your time into reading online reviews or into writing them? Into playing online games or designing your own board games?

It struck Cheap soma - a chord when I heard Tom Vasel comment, when asked about cheap soma order online prolific output, that he had just as much time as everyone else. I would venture to say that as prolific as he is, he probably commits no more time than lots of other game zealots. To me, producing all that wonderful output–by way of making a soma carisoprodol to the hobby and to the community–is a much better use of time than even I make in entertaining myself in boardgame threads.

Knizia is very much devoted to the greater priorities. He devotes a massive part of his life to designing games. I find it strikingly odd that he rarely plays the games of other designers. I would venture from hearing/reading numerous interviews with him that he is so devoted to and so much enjoys designing games that he does little else. From a religious perspective, I see nothing wrong with this. God made us each unique and with different abilities. Provided we find balance where balance is due, He intends for us to use them.

I love when the Olympic runner Eric Liddell in the film Chariots of Fire says “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” The Bible tells me this is true of God. He makes us for unique purposes. He may in all likelihood have made Dr. Knizia to design games. Knizia most certainly has a natural inclination and Soma carisoprodol : talent to do so. All of us, with our unique cheap soma order online have a choice to benefit and entertain ourselves or to do something more with them.
Where does all the time go?

Believe me, I’m not preaching soma carisoprodol you. I simply wonder sometimes if I am personally making good use of my time and I find that I am soma carisoprodol Don’t get me wrong. Discovering these games has soma carisoprodol great. I’ve had great experiences playing boardgames with friends and I’m not anticipating giving that up.

I’m simply saying, Mark Johnson, I hear you. I’ve thought about Soma carisoprodol, this before and now is Soma carisoprodol : the time to act. To start, I’ve curbed my online reading habits by choosing a select few sites, blogs, and podcasts with which to give my regular readership/listenership. I realized how necessary this was when introspection revealed that on some weeks I’ve spent more than soma carisoprodol hours–not playing games–but on the sidelines of the hobby. How much futher would I be in actually designing a game if my efforts were smartly reallocated?

I have become unbalanced: a “boardgame potato.” Admitting this is the first step to my recovery.

Power Grid: Rules, Final Draft

The final draft of the Power Grid rules I started weeks ago had Cheap soma : only minor revision: a few corrections and further elimination of soma carisoprodol facing as suggested during the first draft. I was stubborn, but eventually decided it was for the best. I hope the rules prove clear and useful.

My goal has been to make the rules

* understandable in one reading,
* useful for setup,
* highly soma carisoprodol for quick reference during a game, and
* worthy of modelling by rules authors.

I have submitted this last draft cheap soma order online the BoardGameGeek file section.

On a related note: I read the rules for the Z-Man edition of cheap soma order online Soup and they are superb. I quite liked their use of terms and a glossary–another excellent model for rules authors.

When Theme Comes Alive

Theme is one element of boardgame design that must not be overlooked. It takes ho-hum mechanics and binds them to a storyline that adds meaning and helps captivate the audience. Divorce themes from boardgames soma carisoprodol the likes of Chess, Reversi, Checkers, and Backgammon and Soma carisoprodol : you can forget about me taking such an enthusiastic part in the hobby. Theme is the glue that keeps me in gaming and excited about trying new releases.

I’m not as concerned with what the theme is as Soma carisoprodol : I am concerned with how well the mechanics convey that theme. I won’t argue that publishers should take care to choose the right themes for their games, but I think this is a detail with Soma carisoprodol : which publishers can become overly concerned. Personally, as a gamer, I am far more interested in thematic cohesion. Are the things I’m doing on my turn reminding me that I am a plantation owner, an island settler, or a principality developer in renaissance Italy? If they are, I’m going to enjoy the game all the more. A good sign of strong thematic cohesion is the difficulty with with Soma carisoprodol : any one theme is swapped out and the game fitted with another.

I am open to new, fresh themes that I Soma carisoprodol, haven’t seen before. In Industrial Waste competitors pollute the environment and hire and lay off workers all to the tune of profit; the theme is novel and the game, cheap soma order online good one. The theme works and that really is what matters most, not the flavor of the theme.

Of course, in games there will always be some abstraction. A game ceases to be a game and becomes a simulation when it attempts to mirror every facet of reality. I’m not interested in Advanced Squad Leader depth, I just want a game that at least loosely carries me past the game board and bits into a new, fresh place. I know its been said that “game play is paramount.” If abstracting makes a game more fun and helps alleviate mental recordkeeping, it should be done.
Building elegance can decrease theme

Hardcore enthusiasts Soma carisoprodol, and game designers will often speak of elegance in a game’s design. Elegance comes soma carisoprodol the design has been shucked clean of fiddly Soma carisoprodol - rules (or “niggly” rules if you’re Rick Thornquist). While elegance and theme are not soma carisoprodol exclusive, it becomes increasingly difficult to retain stark elegance as thematic layers are added. Still, gaining theme at the cost of some elegance is usually a worthwhile trade off. Theme most comes alive when the separate mechanics/subsystems are marvelously intertwined so that the interactions make complete sense and the rules seem almost obvious.

Knizia is one of the best and most brilliant designers. It’s amazing how many Soma carisoprodol : solid designs he can invent in a year. Though I enjoy a number of his games, I find that most of his offerings, because of their stark elegance, lack thematic richness.

In reading soma carisoprodol March edition of Knucklebones at soma carisoprodol & Noble, I read that Knizia says he usually begins with theme. Weird. To me his designs are so clean they look as if the mechanics came first. Knizia says:

The theme, mechanics and the materials [of a game] must work as one unit and if they don’t Cheap soma : gel together I think the game is not complete. My approach is that the game should have simple rules, and the depth of play comes out of these simple and unified rules.

That statement, without Cheap soma : a doubt, defines Knizia designs. He wonderfully succeeds soma carisoprodol this goal. Yet, for me soma carisoprodol of his themes don’t come alive. I think that in stripping a game down to its Soma carisoprodol : bare essentials much of the flavor is lost. In a funny way, because Knizia is a master at achieving elegance, he does not design the kind of games that I most enjoy. soma carisoprodol elegant designs (ranging from Chess and Go to Tower of Babel and Palazzo) do not succeed at painting vivid themes. The difference between impressionistic and realistic art is analogous to the thematic vividness I see contrasted between simple designs and more intricate ones.
Use exception mechanisms to build theme

I find that exception mechanisms help bridge elegance to theme. Take the power cards of Amun-Re, the buildings of Puerto Soma carisoprodol : Rico, or the special action boxes of Byzantium. These mechanisms create tactics and strategies that add thematic cheap soma order online without muddying up a game’s base rules. That is, they can exist as an extra layer on top of a game’s underlying elegance.

I agree with Larry Levy in his Rating cheap soma order online Designers article that “the only really indispensable game [that Knizia has] released since 2000 Soma carisoprodol - is Amun-Re.” For me, the Amun-Re power cards really hit the sweet spot. Lose the cards and you still have an elegant, functional design, but not one I’d care to play. The power cards add both theme and depth to the game. Isn’t it great fishing for the special victory point cards and trying to achieve their conditions. I suspect that if Knizia devised less-elegant advanced rules for his games, many Soma carisoprodol : more would hit my sweet spot.
Use art to build theme

Fabulous artwork undoubtedly enhances a game. Additionally, if well done, it can really build thematic richness.

Andreas Seyfarth in his interview Soma carisoprodol - with Tom Vasel said of Caylus, that “the mechanics […] didn’t grab me first, neither did the illustrations and the graphics. The Setting is […] very artificial (example: the cubes remain cubes, I didn’t feel them Soma carisoprodol, as food, cloth or what they are called by the rules).” Consider how even the little change of printing soma carisoprodol with nice illustrations of food and cloth would have enriched the environment. As it stands with Caylus being the acclaimed game it is, this is only a minor point.

Having soma carisoprodol a couple things that impact theme, let’s stroll through a gallery of Soma carisoprodol : games taking the journey from “theme dead” to “theme alive.”
No Theme

Drop all precepts of a theme and you have an abstract game. This leaves us with classics like soma carisoprodol, Chess and Go. It leaves us with traditional card games like Bridge, Canasta, Spades, Hearts, and Poker. It leaves us with Eurogames like Ingenious, Blokus and DVONN (and others in the GIPF series). I like many abstracts; Chess, for example, in my mind is a game of incredible brilliance. And of the recent Eurogames, I like Ingenious quite a bit. By and large, I consider abstracts appetizers not entrees. Sometimes I’m in the mood for them, but most times I’d rather be playing a game with at least some theme.

Chess may be likened to a battle between kingdoms. Yet, I can find no reason why the queen should be able to strike down almost any force from across a field of battle. Can you see it? Crazy woman, scepter raised high over Cheap soma, head shrilly screaming “Yie-yie-yie-yie!” as she races toward the knight and thunks him on the head. His corpse slides from his horse and bellyflops onto the ground. Yes, folks: Chess is abstract.

Trying to add a theme to Go would be absurd. The one thing that I respect about abstract games is that they don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are: abstractions. No fluff is added; players focus on the pure task at hand, nothing more. Go defines abstracts. It shows more clearly than any game how beauty can spring forth from utterly simple rule sets.

Hex-like multicolored dominoes are added soma carisoprodol the board and points are accumulated for adjacent, like-colored spokes. Add a theme; I dare you! Nevertheless, I find Ingenious to be a wonderful game that newcomers enjoy.
Light Theme

Now we’ve ventured into the land of pasted-on themes. Loose themes so barely hold true, they could easily be dropped leaving a simple abstract game. In many cases, another theme could easily be “pasted on.” I’m not advocating that loose themes Soma carisoprodol : are worthless or that there aren’t some great games with hardly a theme. In almost every case, I’d rather have a theme with as much stick as a Post-It than to have no theme at all. Even a loose theme, if it sensibly soma carisoprodol mechanics, can serve the players.

For Sale
Some might argue that Soma carisoprodol - the theme is fitting. I agree: cheap soma order online is. Yet, the game is so pure, so elegant that no theme could convey any real depth. Again, this is just a matter of theme and elegance being on somewhat opposite Soma carisoprodol - ends of the spectrum. I’m not suggesting For Sale is not a good game, just that the theme Cheap soma - doesn’t have (cannot have) the strength that comes from a game with a greater number of interlocking, theme-supporting facets.

Lost Cities
Knizia is the king of the why-bother themes. The vast majority of his games surround a couple clever mechanics that Soma carisoprodol - make for brilliant, albeit theme-light, games. Lost Cities is no exception. For its shear simplicity there is no more excellent a game, yet it hardly takes me to another soma carisoprodol or place. During the whole of a session it feels like I’m “playing cards.” Knizia is without a doubt a games genius. Soma carisoprodol - Yet for his marvelous ability and my personal taste, he has as many misses as he has hits. soma carisoprodol theme-light offerings like Beowulf, Tower of Babel, and Palazzo have me wondering when I can expect another Amun-Re from the good doctor.

cheap soma order online - Medici
Medici is so theme light I contemplated categorizing it a pure abstract. I mean, sure you can talk about your Soma carisoprodol, ship having a hold and about earning a reputation as a trader of various commodities, but did you ever–for even a second–escape into that theme? The only reason that I added in under light themes was that the trader theme poses enough of a framework that it does aid in soma carisoprodol and remembering the rules. So you see: even the lightest of themes can serve the players.

Emerald is another case where the game itself lightly conveys the theme. It only just barely has enough game to substantiate stealing gems Soma carisoprodol - and gold from a soma carisoprodol lair. The game is a cheap soma order online light game great for families and groups including casual gamers. The theme is there, but its systems are so simple that it doesn’t Cheap soma - totally come alive.

Tower of Babel
This game almost cheap soma order online complete abstract to me. I’m not arguing that the clever doctor created an unworthy game. It has nice Soma carisoprodol - elements to it. It’s just that, for me, I’m not taken to a world where I’m participating in the creation of wonders and for this reason the game will never rise to personal greatness. The veneered theme nominally improves the game.

Through the Desert
Lots of people tout Through the Desert as dry and, some, say Cheap soma, it has a pasted-on theme. I won’t argue; Soma carisoprodol : in any case, I love the game. It Soma carisoprodol, is tactically rich, it has me constantly assessing risks, and timing my moves to avoid losing ground, VP chits, or oasis connections. Yep, it’s dry and it does very little to make me feel Soma carisoprodol : like a caravaneer making his way “through the desert,” but boy-o-boy has it got game!

The spacial element of building railways across the board is cheap soma order online but its shear elegance does not allow it Soma carisoprodol, to transcend. There is simply not enough to the game to create strong theme. This is not a put down; the game is what it is and people really like it. The artwork helps. Although the board is highly abstracted, cities are relative to their real-world counterparts. The colorful map adds to the sense that railways are being built across the Americas. I don’t find the theme is pasted on, merely light. Soma carisoprodol - If not for the spacial element and the real-world approximation, it would be just as light as For Sale.

Shadows Over Camelot
All right, it’s time to offend. Popular or not, Shadows just falls flat for me. I move my knight pawn around the board cheap soma order online play number cards into slots in order to beat back invaders and other threats. cheap soma order online cards lend additional flavor to that theme; however, its dry mechanics do little to invoke knightly feelings. Only the artwork and the traitor truly work toward painting Soma carisoprodol : a theme. By the way of a theme coming alive Shadows is a flatliner.

Louis XIV
The board is a checkered array of personalities. On Cheap soma - my turn I’m placing tokens like breadcrumbs to earn influence among those personalities. And I’m achieving missions which are really nothing more than collecting tokens, area-majority style, from those personalities. It’s an Soma carisoprodol - abstract game with enough of a theme to be really good. Louis makes a good example, in my mind, of the fact that a game’s mechanics needn’t always believably Soma carisoprodol : convey a real world action. Louis is more abstract than not, yet it’s clever and fun.

More of Acquire is abstract than not. The board soma carisoprodol the limitations of placing any of one’s six tiles into its exact spot, is abstract. Still, there are enough rules about mergers and stock acquisition that make this mostly abstract game a Soma carisoprodol, great one. It has just enough theme to help the rules gel and to make the game more interesting than it would have been devoid of theme. While the theme barely holds true, the game itself is brilliant and strategically/tactically rich. Acquire is definitely a case where trying to cheap soma order online any more thematic depth would have cost in elegance and game play. Sid Sackson got it right just the way it is.

As I mentioned, these games may be rightly themed and convey a sense of what’s going on, but for Soma carisoprodol : the simplicity of the game itself, there isn’t enough room in which to bring the theme alive.
The Theme Is Alive

For me, theme comes alive Soma carisoprodol : when a game has sufficient substance and the substance itself supports the theme. Substance for me is usually matter soma carisoprodol dimension, the number of mechanisms or subsystems that interact in defining the bounds of play. The support is derived from mechanisms and subsystems that tell me soma carisoprodol doing something within the confines of the game world, especially when all the elements are masterfully woven together. That last part, is the line that divides the good designers from the great ones. I don’t want to be Soma carisoprodol, broken out of my gaming trance because what I’m doing seems forced or arbitrary.

When I watch movies I am peeved by the overuse and poor integration of CGI. I love movies for the same reason that I love games. They allow me to temporarily escape from the real world into an imaginary one. When I’m watching a great movie, like Lord of the Rings, I’m completely immersed in the story. Then, when starkly-contrasted CGI flashes onto the screen, I’m startled out of my trance and whisked back to reality–that is, until I can again be absorbed by the on-screen telling of the tale. If I’m continually interrupted by CGI-shock the movie loses quite a lot. The Battle of Naboo scenes from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace looked like a giant video game to me. On the other hand, I was blown away by the CGI delivery of King Kong, hardly ever being startled into reality.

When a game has me doing something soma carisoprodol seems out of place, I find myself distracted. Or, at the very least, I find that I’m not able to buy the theme. To overcome these shortcomings, the game itself will have to soma carisoprodol truly great.

Soma carisoprodol : Settlers of Catan
Sure, the game is abstracted. What game isn’t? But, by and large, I’m sold. The game world makes sense to me. I’m building settlements and cities and roads. I’m harvesting resources and trading them. The board looks like an island. Who knows why a lone robber inhabited the island before I got there, but who cares? It feels like a place and I enjoy being there. There are enough mechanisms soma carisoprodol for the game to transcend its abstraction. Again, my driving thrust is that only games with a good degree of mechanical depth can truly deliver a soma carisoprodol breathing theme.

La Citta
I’m building growing cities and trying to attract the nearby citizens of neighboring cities to mine. I’m Soma carisoprodol - concerned with feeding my population, building amenities according to the latest desires of the people, trying to reach water sources and mountainside quarries, and all the while trying to observe the intrinsic rules of city growth. Can I explain why someone thought to found our cities in the cracks of countryside valleys? No. I don’t care to. Game play is paramount to realism; having to Soma carisoprodol, expand cities by the way of valley cracks creates interesting tactics that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

I’m underwater. I’m expanding a sub-sea station, developing technologies, and uncovering treasures from the seafloor. What else I could I be doing?! The game is theme. As far as I know Nautilus never became overly popular, but that’s helps my other point. Just because a game has a rich theme, doesn’t make it a great game or a popular one. I Soma carisoprodol - personally like it, but that’s just a matter of taste.

Evo is colorful and has lots of abstractions. Moving dino-discs around the board doesn’t convince players that they’re dinosaurs on a soma carisoprodol In spite of this, the game has lots of character. Players earn mutation genes and play event cards. I see these two facets as exception mechanisms that build character and help the theme come alive. Different mutating dino species each take on their own characteristics, and event cards played at opportune times create interesting story twists. Part of whether a game takes off or sinks is a matter of the group playing it. I first played Evo a couple weeks ago with a group that really enjoyed it and got into its spirit. Evo provided just enough interlocking mechanics to make it feel like natural selection. We were dinosaurs and only the fittest would survive!

Though I almost lost it trying Cheap soma - to cheap soma order online Soma carisoprodol - the rules explanation, by the time I reached the midpoint of the game I was sold. Wallace had really done a superb job with this game. It offered lots of choices to players who could take part as a faction on either side of the war. The theme comes alive for all of the various options and considerations presented to the players. These options–like enacting civil wars, building fortifications, and so on–painted the tapestry that was Byzantium.

I won’t soma carisoprodol that many of the elements of the game are abstract. On top of that abstraction are interwoven Cheap soma - subsystems and subgoals. You’re claiming land and growing animal herds. You’re taking those animals to market and you’re getting them to waterholes. These elements speak of the hacienda storyline Kramer chose. All of this is greatly abstracted; soma carisoprodol it’s the interweaving of the parts of the whole that breathe life into the game. For one thing, games whose boards provide landscapes for the spacial relation of bits paint more believable backdrops. Contrast the abstraction of Ra against Hacienda. Don’t you think more life comes from the spacial maneuvering on Hacienda’s soma carisoprodol What are you doing in Ra other than bidding on and collecting chits.

Here’s a prime example of how superb art can really push a game over the top. Not only is Tikal is a great game for its wealth of tactical options, it conveys an atypical, but very pleasant theme: that of leading an archaeological expedition to digging up temples and treasures. The mechanics convey digging up temples and treasures, setting up camps, and guarding temples. Do I need to explain why I am able to place the hex I play in any orientation, and why my base camps are all connected by secret pathways? No. For the sake of superior game play, players are willing to forgo some believability. (It’s like watching James Bond: for the sake of being thrilled by soma carisoprodol many amazing abilities we suspend disbelief.) I have played Tikal dozens of times, each time I’m immersed in the jungle ruins that surround me. I buy the theme and the mechanics hook, line, and sinker.

The latest Splotter offering is awesome. I’ve only played it once, so I’m sure I’m jumping the gun, but the game, I think, does a splendid job of creating an economic system in which business owners compete. The design is as elegant as I’ve seen for the level of depth and richness of the theme. I can’t speak yet of the game’s long-term staying power, but I do have a good feeling about it. The complexity of Splotter titles, while often fiddly, are usually theme rich. Indonesia is only my second Splotter game after Antiquity, but I have to say, “Splotter designs just the sort of games I would design if I could.”

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico thoroughly demonstrates what I mean when I speak cheap soma order online interlocking systems. Players cheap soma order online with a trading house, they produce goods, they ship those goods, Soma carisoprodol : and they plant and work plantations. Each of these mechanics makes sense. But it’s the way in which these mechanisms all interact to produces one of the richest thematic, tactical, and strategic environments ever designed. The buildings each uniquely bend the rules according to its own purpose. Sure, it’s a game of bits manipulation, and it has abstracted the various soma carisoprodol necessary in its imaginary plantation world. Nevertheless, it delivers elegance and theme quite well.
Licensed Themes

Great games, as we’ve seen, can exists Cheap soma - in the absence of theme. And great themes can exist in the absence of game. How many board games are created primarily to capitalize on popularity or fads? Take CSI: The Boardgame, a slew of Simpsons titles, and Lord of the Rings. America is a major offender. Elvis still sells? Let’s slap his Soma carisoprodol, name on a game or two all for the sake of profit.

Because licensed characters and shows come with a built-in audience, there’s a Soma carisoprodol - greatly reduced motivation to produce a worthwhile game. Companies that capitalize on licenses merely reface existing Soma carisoprodol, games adding almost nothing new if anything (Simpsons Monopoly, Simpsons Trivial Pursuit, etc.) or create just enough mechanics to soma carisoprodol the theme (CSI: The Boardgame). In most cases, these games are gifted to fans never to be played. Because licensed games are seldom good–as with Star Wars: Epic Duels–experienced gamers can hardly justify the cheap soma order online of buying them.
Through the Desert vs. Hacienda

Quite often I’ve heard Hacienda compared to Through the Desert. I don’t see soma carisoprodol There is a faint resemblance with having to connect to oases or markets, but not enough to justify the comparison. Both are great games, but to me Hacienda is more thematic.

This stems back to elegance. Through the Desert is supremely elegant. Extend your caravans Soma carisoprodol - by place two camels a turn. Place two camels, nothing more, and from that the game offers rich decisions and tension. Players are driven to tactics based entirely on the games scoring system coupled cheap soma order online the timeliness of disappearing scoring opportunities. Placing just 2 camels a turn does nothing to suggest theme. Theme comes when players are presented with other kinds of plays and mechanics with which to interact. There is sophistication to the game, but that comes entirely from within and not from without, very Knizia-like.

Hacienda has a moderately richer theme that rises from the several different systems within the game. Players are buying land and animals (cards), managing and earning money (with harvests and markets), scoring haciendas and water holes (that are added later to the board), and playing land and animal cards. There are distinctly different options from which a player may choose on his Cheap soma - turn as opposed to simply playing two camels, and these options must be rightly timed to produce the best result.

I’m not going to argue that one game is better than the other. I merely meant to support soma carisoprodol stance that stark elegance does diminish cheap soma order online Stark elegance comes from Cheap soma - simple systems, fewer systems, and fewer kinds of options. Ingenious exemplifies this. Through the Desert is slightly less simple and, thus, conveys slightly more theme. Hacienda isn’t richly thematic, but slightly more complex than Through the Desert and so suggests greater theme. It cleanly combines various subsystems that make sense within the Hacienda theme.
Long Live The Theme

Theme has a profound impact on my enjoyment soma carisoprodol games. A game’s theme truly comes alive when

* the mechanics believably convey their real-world actions,
* various subsystems and mechanics combine well,
* the game offers several different kinds of options on each turn,
* the built-in Soma carisoprodol, exception mechanisms support different strategies and tactics,
* the art contributes to the fantasy, and
* sometimes, for all of the above, soma carisoprodol little elegance is sacrificed.

Yes, occasionally I uncover the theme-light or even abstract gem, but my palate craves lots of juicy theme that demands neither salt nor pepper. I hope to see plenty of more games into which their creators have breathed a theme that is truly alive.

I haven’t lost hope with Knizia. soma carisoprodol expect Cheap soma, plenty of great titles over the coming years, but I am wondering when to expect his successor to Amun-Re. What will the “Master of Elegance” make of 2006?

Mesopotamia: The Anomoly

On Monday I played Mesopotamia with my friends Sean, Paul (my roommate) and Pat. Sean started off extremely well for birthing more tribesmen cheap soma order online the rest of us tried to make due with just 3. Then Sean set off to explore the starting side of the board while the rest explored the far side. He fell into wood and soon plopped down double huts and then shortly later 2 more. Very efficient! He was in great shape for having all his huts close to the temple but was lacking the rock he needed to increase his mana threshold.

The rest of us made average progress on the opposite end of the board, each building one hut and cashing in our first offerings. For having forgotten the rule about removing tribesmen who cash in an offering, we all enjoyed an undue, one-man Soma carisoprodol, advantage. I spotted the error perhaps a couple rounds later and we each removed a man to rectify the discrepancy as best we could. Meanwhile, Sean explored.

What followed was unbelievably amazing.

Sean was desparate for rock. And soma carisoprodol he exlored three times–plains, plains, and more plains. Bad luck. The rest of us (still on the other side of the board) collectively explored a few times–plains, rock and wood. Sean: three times–plains, plains, plains!! Ugh! Us: plains, rock. Sean: three more times–still all plains!!

We were flabbergasted.

Sean wanted to crawl under a rock and die (trouble is, no rock). Our collective explorations uncovered more resources: rock and wood. Sean’s tenth exploration revealed yet another plains! His next explorations ended the anomoly: a useless wood. Then, finally, the untimely and long-overdue: rock.

What a monumental setback.

I’m not Soma carisoprodol : entirely sure what tiles the rest us drew between Soma carisoprodol : Sean’s turns and in what order. What I do recall soma carisoprodol that Sean drew 10 consecutive plains tiles and that, collectively, to that point in the game, the rest of us explored perhaps half as much as Sean alone.

All that said, I barely edged out a win. Paul (to my left)–who incidentally had the first turn in the game–could have won on his turn. And Sean (to Paul’s left) could have won on his.

For Sean’s incredible string of bad luck and the forgotten-rule that advantaged us, it’s amazing that he was in striking distance of victory. This truly speaks of the brillance of his early play.

Sure, while he was watching us flip up the resource tiles, he might have anticipated a diminished chance on drawing needed resources, but who could fault him for trying. Who could possibly have anticipated such tragic luck?!

The finished landscape looked odd: half of the board was rock and wood with a Soma carisoprodol - smattering of plains, and the other half a vast and soma carisoprodol plains that, at a glance, resembled the Sahara desert. I’m not normally given to session reports, but the game told a strange and nearly unbelievable tale that I won’t soon forget.

I like Mesopotamia a lot. I guess I cheap soma order online like efficency, resource-management games, even if they are light. Plus, I like action point systems. On the whole, I soma carisoprodol think Mesopotamia is a fun game and it’s a nice breather–I don’t stress about the risks posed by my competitors. I like plenty of tense games. It’s just nice to sometimes play a relaxed one. Yeah, there’s little deep, long-term strategy, and there are perhaps not many roads to victory, but it’s fun. Definitely a game I’m glad I bought.

You’ve Had Your Turn

With the right mix soma carisoprodol people gaming can be a blast, but it only takes one to ruin the experience for everyone. Of the kinds of people I dread playing, there is one kind that utterly offends me. These soma carisoprodol the players who consider themselves the most adept and experienced often at a particular game.

Jeremy Avery accurately dubbed these so-called experts The Jedi of Puerto Rico. These players have determined the optimal move for every gaming situation soma carisoprodol they’re actually offended when the “incompetent” opposition makes a suboptimal move. They’ll grumble against, perhaps criticize, the “inferior” player who has messed up their plans or has inadvertently advantaged another. They’ll condescendingly provide instruction for proper thinking and future decision making. They’ll explain why their way is the way.

This egotistical persona is not limited to “the experts.” In some Cheap soma : cases, you’ll have intelligent–even unintelligent–people who simply, convicted by their beliefs, argue against the move a player is about to make. I’m not talking about the friendly soma carisoprodol of advice either. I don’t cheap soma order online table talk or even being offered suggestions. I do mind when a player continues to coerce me even after I’ve heard him out and indicated that I’m thoroughly satisfied with my own move.

I mean, who do these guys really cheap soma order online they are!? I was pretty sure I let them have their turns. Now that it’s mine, courteously permit me to think for myself.

I’ve played Soma carisoprodol : with coercing people whose won’t back down until their point has either been conceded or acted upon. There may even be merit to their advice. Regardless, I enjoy playing games for the opportunity to cheap soma order online my own decisions, to try them out, and to learn from them for myself. I’m willing to live with the consequences of my choices, good or Soma carisoprodol : bad. I don’t need somebody criticizing me for Soma carisoprodol, not taking their superior suggestion or becoming indignant because their best laid plans were hinged on my acting accordingly. There is no accordingly–only what I do or do not do–so long as I exhibit integrity, play honestly, and act sportsmanly.

Players who depend on players taking predictable actions are playing games in a fantasy world. It’s far too tricky to consistently and accurately predict the motivating Cheap soma, forces and considerations by which people make their decisions. At best, one can develop a knack for anticipating other players, especially the familiar ones. All that withstanding, Soma carisoprodol : no one player has the right to expect anything other than good and proper conduct. None of this is changed by the fact that any player has played the game online a thousand times.

These whiners should stop cheap soma order online and complaining and just play, or otherwise find a similar-minded group of players with which to play the optimal, predictable, auto-pilot version of the game. Or better yet, they ought program a few Soma carisoprodol : AI-bots to play the game just the way they like. Hopefully that preoccupation will allow us amateurs to play our Soma carisoprodol - games in peace.
Expect only a fair and level playing field

As a gamer I have very few expectations about what constitutes fair game play. I expect an honest game and a level playing field where no player has an undue advantage. Favoritism is one of the few things that corrupts an otherwise level playing field. Even if one’s chances of winning have gone to the wayside, to whack someone else’s troops to the deliberate benefit of one’s boyfriend is flat out wrong. Anyone would feel victimized by such blatantly-obvious external biases.

Yet, players can sometimes feel victimized by decisions that seem either arbitrary or soma carisoprodol by other suspect, external factors. The soma carisoprodol sign that a player feels victimized is when Cheap soma - he asks the antagonist, “why me?” or otherwise requests justification. There’s Soma carisoprodol - nothing wrong with asking, but even victimized players must understand that withholding information can be a necessary part of concealing strategy or of playing the metagame.

The antagonist is in no way obligated Soma carisoprodol : to defend his actions. It is possible, especially in an unfamiliar game, that a player’s moves are exploratory or even arbitrary. Because we can’t really know that someone is motivated by external biases, we owe everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Still, it’s easy to feel robbed when subject to the deciding play of a kingmaker. Normally, Cheap soma, players ought play to their own direct (or indirect) benefit or to no Soma carisoprodol, one’s benefit at all. In this way, players explicitly exhibit their lack of bias. On the contrary, it’s not unfair for players to act on biases formed within the context of a game. How can the antagonist become indignant when his victim, at a deciding moment, hands victory to another? This sort of kingmaking mirrors real-world diplomacy.
Kingmaking ethics

Days before this article cheap soma order online scheduled to appear, I had a run in with kingmaking. I Soma carisoprodol, was playing a 5-player game of Hacienda using soma carisoprodol combined variants. One other player and myself were leading the pack with one player between us in the seating order. My contender on his turn gained a sizeable lead; 3 animal cards remained. Realizing the situation I knew I had to Soma carisoprodol : catch or overtake his score lest he deplete the animal card supply and seal his Soma carisoprodol : victory. When my turn arrived, I was barely able to match his score. Had the two players to my left taken any animal cards he could have scored and ended the game. Fortunately, no cards were taken. On his next turn he increased his score by 7 points and took an animal card leaving just 2. Beautiful! I realized that I could on my next turn gain 9 points and end the game myself locking the win.

In my wildest dreams I never anticipated what would follow. The player between the leader and myself who had been trailing the whole game increased his score barely leaping out of last place–and then he ended the game. My sure-fire victory had been swindled! I incredulously asked, “Why in the world did you do that!?” His reply was that he didn’t want to finish in last place.

Had soma carisoprodol ended the game, just as I had planned, he would have retained his exact soma carisoprodol In fact, he could have scored more points and gained yet another position. All he succeeded at doing was kingmaking, and I explained all this to him. In a funny way, I could see that he was proud of himself. He had a sort of Cheap soma, half smile on his face when he quickly slapped down 4 bucks to purchase the last two animal cards. That half smile made his justification somewhat suspect. Plus, I felt further cheated because both he and the winner had had an extra turn.

I contemplated this very post in which I had commented on kingmaking even before this anecdote Cheap soma, was added. The player who ended the game was completely within his rights for just the reason he cited. It seemed a weak reason, but of course I’m biased.

I’ve concluded one thing, however, about kingmaking and players who do it. The weaker the justification, the more unsavory the act. Personally, I would need a solid basis for kingmaking and would be prepared to justify it–a past vendetta or a much stronger Cheap soma, finish, but certainly not a near-last-place finish. The justification for gaining so little exemplifies the most unsavory sort of kingmaking.

I remember participating in a Carcassonne tournament at Soma carisoprodol, soma carisoprodol World Boardgaming Championships the year I got into gaming. In a field of five cheap soma order online one had a substantial lead and couple of us followed. The leader and another way-behind player were duking it out on the farming frontier. In the last couple rounds it was clear that the farming contender needed a key tile to connect up his farmers and completely steal the massive farmland. In the last round that player didn’t draw the needed tile–but I did! I dubiously played it to the contender’s huge gain.

Well, you can imagine the exasperation Cheap soma, of the leader. He was enraged and cheap soma order online me for my obviously stupid, kingmaking move. Not having calculated the entire unscored landscape but relying on my gut, I explained that I might cheap soma order online or at the very least dramatically improve my Cheap soma, position. Well I didn’t win. But I did finish in second place ahead of the former leader and only a mere couple points behind the player whose farmer I connected. In discussing the game with the would-be winner Soma carisoprodol - afterwards, I clearly remember that with the light shed by the final scoring he did understand my position and so cast aside his hard feelings. He explained that he thought I was a clueless newbie who, for some cheap soma order online reason, handed victory to another.

This second anecdote further solidifies my point: the key to good soma carisoprodol is in the justification. Arbitrary kingmaking with little-to-no shread of reason will be considered a rude, Soma carisoprodol, potentially unsportsmanlike, act. When kingmaking, at the very least, be prepared to explain yourself.

Thus far I’ve discussed Cheap soma, the grounds for a level playing field. I’ve discussed the one thing that most every player detests: kingmaking. Yet, there is another form of aggression to which players hate being subject.

Players can be victimized because of their reputation, real or perceived. Although the reputable player may begrudge being attacked even when his chips are down, he has little cause for argument. It is completely reasonable and legitimate for people to play harder against opponents they deem more formidable.

Here ends a players rightful expectations. Other than keeping it honest players have every right to play as they see fit.
My objectives by my means

I’m free soma carisoprodol determine soma carisoprodol own objectives and their means. I could try a long shot at victory which, if it fails, will have dramatic consequence. I could play conservatively. I could play for position when I’ve conceded my chances of victory. I could attack the leader. Or I could step on a second- or third-place player en route to my goals. I could do something in soma carisoprodol game and something completely different, and totally inconsistent in the next. Each and every decision I make belongs entirely to me. Though being subject to some of these things may feel unfair, each is as legitimate as the next. If you wish to offer advice, I’ll hear you out, but be willing to clam up and live with the consequences when I choose otherwise.

Games are full of different choices and approaches. Some appear better than others. Yet, no matter how much better one move looks than the next, there is rarely a cut-and-dry way soma carisoprodol tell for sure. More than once I incredulously asked a player, “Why in the world did you do that?” who went on to win the game. We often see things Soma carisoprodol : so clearly for ourselves that we become blind to other perhaps better possibilities. Or in thinking we’ve grasped all the factors that matter, we ignore other subtle but relevant factors…
It’s more than just logic

In a game years ago, an intelligent friend of mine argued Cheap soma : that my retaliatory attack on him for an earlier provocation wouldn’t advance me toward winning. After hearing his argument ad nauseam I opted to follow through with the attack. He had fixed in his mind that each and every decision ought be based purely on the logical path to winning. It didn’t matter if he provoked me a dozen times, so long as there was a better route to my victory or another player more likely to win, I had no right to return in kind.


This assumes that playing games is a matter of pure logic. However, since people not robots encircle game tables, there will always be a metagame that brings emotion and psychology into the mix. Making suboptimal moves if only Soma carisoprodol, to follow through with threats or promised responses, paints a portrait of the gamer. Exhibiting consistent follow through adds leverage to future promises and threats. These psychological and emotional elements that Soma carisoprodol - exist over the game board are part of an invisible-but-very-real metagame. In some ways, the metagame has greater strength and longevity than any single logical game that exists directly on the board. The metagame when played in familiar groups carries forward into each and every game.

I’m not Soma carisoprodol - a win-at-all-costs gamer. What I want from playing games is fun, a challenge, and to soma carisoprodol a solid game. However, my version of a “solid” game has me using all of the tools at my disposal–some of those tools grounded in reason and logic and some grounded in emotion and psychology. Arguing that a game should be played only in and of itself is not a universal truth but a personal conviction. In my book, players may play by their own rules, for their own reasons, and by any style they wish.

Take Medici. During Soma carisoprodol - an auction, a player not in any of my commodities bids on the cards I want to “keep me honest” and to deflate their value. I have a choice to make. I can bid for the cards gaining Soma carisoprodol : marginal benefit or I can pass penalizing the price inflater.

I don’t care how you slice it, I’m playing “fair and square” no matter which choice I make. Taking the cards might increase Cheap soma : my chances of winning–and it might not. There are no certainties. Even if the cards have retained a good margin of value it’s my right to choose. Don’t pout because I failed to do what you thought I must.
Pride is the root

Above all playing games is about people. No one person deserves to have fun at the expense of everyone else. And no one person should impose expectations on how others should play. People can be incredibly proud. I think that’s the soma carisoprodol of the matter.

In fact, in speaking of motivating factors, and the differences that make each person unique, I’ll mention one about myself. I admire humility and detest arrogance. When my tactical choices force me to choose between an arrogant player or some other player, you can guess the target of my attack.

I once played a game of Puerto Rico with a new group of people. I lost. When I returned home I read several of the online session reports and ultimately came across the report detailing that game. In it the victor spoke to the general incompetence of the opposition and how victory was handily attained. She cited her grasp of the importance of early money as though the rest of us were oblivious to this understanding. Now, I’m no schmuck, but the fact is Puerto Rico is a Cheap soma : highly tactical game in which others can thwart your Soma carisoprodol, outright attempts to earn income.

Puerto Rico is a great product of the boardgaming hobby. Yet, its great popularity gave rise to many self-proclaimed experts. Though I greatly enjoy the game, it is the one game in which I’m most often subject to “expert” criticism.
Blather on but convey respect

Boardgaming is a tremendous hobby, but I learned long ago that playing games are only as fun as the group with which you play them. I’ve made some of the very mistakes about which I’ve spoken so I don’t mean to be too self-righteous or critical. No matter how many times you’ve played a game, no matter how dubious another player’s move appears, treat everyone with respect. Talk smack and offer advice to your heart’s content. Good-spirited table talk enriches gaming.

Just don’t become indignant because a player on his turn doesn’t do just what you think he should. Don’t coerce him even after he’s heard soma carisoprodol declined your advice. And don’t condescend. You’ve had your turn already. Permit your fellow player the same courtesy.

I recently discovered that we played Hacienda incorrectly. Regardless of which player depletes the animal deck, all players take the exact same number of turns.