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Labyrinth – The War On Terror

So, I managed to finish my first game of L-TWOT today. (To be clear, I did not play the solo/robot rules, I played both sides. Since I don't know all the cards yet and have a poor memory, I felt that was kind of fair.)

So, to take the tension off: the game came down to the last roll of the die, and the Jihadists won by default. (I ran out the deck, at which point the US need to control twice as many resources than the jihadists to win, and both had 0, since I had not aimed for that victory condition. The last two rolls were trying to improve Indonesia's stance from neutral/fair to ally/good, and only one of them succeeded.)

As the jihadist player, I think I had a somewhat good chance to win: for the last third or so of the game, I sat at 15 poor-governance countries, so all I needed was to run down the US to 0 prestige, and they were sitting at 2 prestige for a turn or two, but I blew two roll-prestige events, one of which netted the US +4 prestige and the other one +1. I never got the WMDs, I never got any cells into Schengen (I did the "make two recruitment rolls for US" event, but failed both of them). I hardly ever made any jihad attempts (maybe two or three), so mostly I was playing events and setting plots, combined with a bit of travel to test as many islam countries as possible. For all but the last turn, my funding was in the top bracket, and I had a turn or two of unopposed plots.

As the US player, I failed to get any dominance on the game at all. I played the first scenario, where you are already deployed to Afghanistan, and I failed to get the country into good order again (until the jihadist player played something which removed the Besieged Regime status). I hardly moved any other troops anywhere, because i would have put me into overstretch, until I gave up towards the end and went after the jihadist who moved from A. to Pakistan in search of WMDs. Mid-game elections turned me into a soft stance, which was nice, because I figured at some point that I could war-of-idea in Europe to gain prestige with my low-ops cards. Seriously, I never felt like I could make a change in the middle east, because countries test as poor 2/3rds of the time, so they need 3ops to have war-of-ideas, and even then, that fails fairly often, so it might not be a good idea, but it's the only way to remove the poor governance status the jihadist was going for.

All in all, of course I did a fair bit of back-and-forth and the usual rules misremembering ("oh, can't deploy to neutrals", improving governance instead of alignment by mistake, disrupting without having +5 surplus troops, forgot US player can discard the final card instead of taking it to the next round), but that got better over time. And of course, this being my first or second game (I aborted the first one simply because I needed the table space back), the analysis paralysis is brutal. It's very very tempting to try and play everything for the event.

ETA: It occurs to me I didn't factor in the WoI penalty for soft world stance and hard US stance in those final rolls.

ETA2: BGG discussions suggest that Afghanistan is indeed a bit of a poisoned chalice (OTOH, if you don't get in there right quick, it's a source of jihadist cells that takes massive amount of troops to keep in check.)

Games night, SU edition

Holger didn't turn up, somewhat surprisingly. (One of my new co-workers turns out to be a bit of a board gamer.)

We started at around six people, playing three (or four?) rounds of Codenames, by the end of which we were about a dozen-ish people, many of which peeled off to play Werewolves, leaving only enough people for a single game, which settled into Cards Against Humanity. Additional people arrived, some starting a game of Wizard, and I left early, after maybe 90 minutes of game time. (Sorry, the most amusing thing about playing CAH is that if nobody's a native speaker, you can try and find tactful ways to explain to people what anal fissures are. At least you can leave at any time.)

Oh, and I wasn't the oldest person there, one of the others was 39. Oh, and they accidentally collapsed part of the hallway leading into our office building with a bit of over-eager demolition work.

I see what you mean...

from a dating profile:
"I´m a bee keeper
I´m allergic to bee venom
I think life should sometimes be a challenge"

Yeah, no shit.

So this man walks into a bar

I kinda sorta tried teaching my parents "Love Letter", and it almost worked. This is somewhat worrying, because frankly, in terms of game mechanics, if you lower the bar any lower, you're down to pachisi roll-and-move. Draw card, compare cards, discard one of the cards and what's printed on it happens. Dad. this. is. not. hard. *sigh*

Ask LJ, embarassing encounter edition

A former cow orker of mine now is on OkC, and I didn't recognize her just by the preview pic. Just block, or message "umm, awkward, sorry" and block, or what?

(Also, going by the profile, her marriage didn't work out. Shame that. (If I ever posted about fearing for my life on the Autobahn from Hamburg, it was her husband picking us up at the airport in a borrowed Volvo and going around 240km/h late at night.))

Epic food battles of medicine!

Common Cold versus!! Red Thai Curry. Round 1. FIGHT!

The ritual monthly post

I hate Windows for waking me up in the middle of the night. It patched and rebooted around 3am, and the still-running browser maintained enough state to know it had been on Youtube, but not that it had actually already finished playing. So, at around three minutes past 3am, I am greeted by the intro music to Jeeves and Wooster. :sigh:

OTOH, I seem to be good at stopping videos without waking up.

Thinking outside the box

I like a good deal as much as the next person. But I didn't twig when one of those too-many food box companies had a 5€ trial box, and I didn't twig when they had an entirely free trial box this week. (Don't mistake me -- this isn't a produce box you get from your local farmer every week with whatever is in season right now, something I totally approve of, this is a "you get a recipe and the groceries for it (short of pepper and salt)".

Maybe this has appeal for some people? I have no idea why, though. Is this "I'm supposed to be adult and able to cook and I'm not and I'm trying to fake my way through"? Is this for people who are scared of cooking? (People, it might be easy to cook something that's not brilliant, but if you stay away from a few things, like raw egg, it's fairly difficult to poison somebody by accident. Are you that easily scared? Why am I the timid person here when you are scared by food?) To me, these boxes take everything that's exciting about cooking away and reduce it to what I used to call the assembly stage. Many years back, when I would meet with P and E for dinner once or twice a week, making dinner meant carrying it a mile across town and re-heating/baking it at their place, so it had a very clearly separated split of prep and assembly. And even after a year and a half, I couldn't make rice pudding that would be right after setting for an hour.

But I digress. What's left with these boxes when you don't get to feel inside yourself for what you're hungry for, you don't get to have that sudden whiff of rotting apple that triggers memories and ideas, you don't get to think about how to replace raspberry vinegar because you don't have it, all you're doing is following a recipe. Don't get me wrong, I like recipes, but to me, I'm getting two things out of recipes: techniques and flavour combinations. I spend my whole working life writing specs and working to specs, and when I get home (and am in a relationship) there's even more managing other people's expectations, and then I'm supposed to listen to a four-color glossy sheet from a box that may have contained fresh vegetables three days ago when somebody handed it to DHL? No thank you. I'll make Himmel un Ääd, and the onions may not be quite right and mash could need a pinch of salt, a knob of butter and a hint of nutmeg, and yes, blutwurst is a very acquired taste, but the thing doesn't fall apart because something's off by a percent or five.

Sorry, rant over.
Ooops, skipped a line. Or maybe "Arkham Horror: The Cottage Garden" will be the hotness of Essen Spiel 2017?

Boarletwatch: no boars of any size were around today, but a bunch of deer and goats (including one or two very, ah, horny rams) crossing the path as I jogged past, vewwy vewwy qwietly.

Otherwise, laundry, and maybe there will be exciting news at some point. Well, exciting for me.

It's Non-Friday I bring you Non-Links

If you're interested in 18xx, a class of usually railroad-oriented hardcore strategy games, YouTube is not the place to find out more about them, I don't think. Let's say those videos probably have more pink than the AUP allows. Well, 18xx is gamer cardboard porn, isn't it?

OK, my mind is now wondering about "18oz burgers", a FCM offshoot that would involve the stock market element, and do something about distances and reaching houses that is more like building an 18xx railroad network. Bwahahaha.


Games night: ferner liefen

Well, this was quick one: after looking at people's Essen spoils (it's only 450km each way after all) the group split into a full complement of people playing Kemet, something else I've already forgotten which I wasn't interested in (Mea Culpa maybe?), and *sigh* Mysterium, the most pointless multiplayer solitaire ever.

This being pretty much the second-worst possible range of games (only beaten if the non-Mysterium players had opted for Secret Hitler or Resistance -- I hatehatehate secret role party games), I basically sneaked away in the general shuffling of chairs and tables. I should use the games time and play some Labyrinth, maybe. (But wow, that would be epically hostile, to bring Labyrinth: not only is it a high-level conflict simulation US vs Jihadists, it's also 1-2 players.)
So I had a very busy week at work, and my mind was pretty fried, and I had every intention of doing an easy fun task on friday as a treat. (A rewrite of an internal-use-only webapp.) As usual, I didn't get around to it, so now I'm here, on a saturday, to do it. I seem to not understand that "work" and "weekend" thing all that well.

Thought for the day

What if the only childish idea is that you'll grow up?
Tonight was the first games night of the new term, and apparently (and usefully), the MINT Students' Union had marketed this games night as part of their freshman orientation week. The result: where last month (during break) we were maybe ten people or so, we were closer to fifty this time, I think, with many many people who looked like they just arrived on campus, which are, therefore, roughly half my age.

I didn't catch all the things that went on – a fairly large part of people retired to the next room to play Werewolf, a couple of people played Set!, which seems insanely popular with people, maybe partly because it's easy to explain. At some point, people at the next table played Cards Against Humanity, which was kind of amusing to listen in to, in a very mean way: I've played CAH once, I think, three years ago, with friends in the US, and it was hard for me because about 20% of the cultural references sailed over my head. Here, people were struggling with the vocabulary. But I guess when you're one week into uni, you're 18, maybe you've moved to a new city, you probably don't get as much titilation as you'd like, having to translate "relentless vaginal onslaught" or whathaveya is fun. At some point, people in the next room played that online game that I always object to.

Anyway, I managed to lure two (plus one add-on later) people to play Food Chain Magnate, mostly on the premise that it's an economics game, I asked for people, and those three people didn't give the general impression of being the most outgoing mingling people ever, so it's probably nice for them if somebody sort of has a plan of what they want to do and they can just sort of go along with that, even if it's an old fart half as old as time like me.

For the record, I think I took about half an hour of wall-to-wall explaining the thing until everybody's eyes glazed over (fortunately, the tech tree is on the handy player reference card), and we decided to play without milestones (which is another 18 cards to explain). We played for 75$ in the bank each and no reserve, and took about two hours. Given that this games night starts incredibly early (6pm, because students and on campus) that only took us about half the evening. For future reference, as seems to be common in FCM, the winner had about as much money as the rest of us combined: he had found himself a nice house which he boxed in with two billboards, so everybody else had trouble marketing to it, and played luxury manager, making 40$/round in sales from that house, and none of us particularly tried to dislodge him (which would have been fairly easy with a price war, but all others either went for food+drink combo, were placed inconveniently, and I just totally got derailed around turn 6 and never recovered). That was the player who opened recruiting girl, btw; I opened waitress, and so did the others. (I spend the first few turns thinking out loud on what I wanted to do and why, which may have helped them.)
Anyway, they seemed to enjoy it ok, I might bring it again to this games night. (I was worried because this is a softer socializing type of games night, whereas my other games night is pretty hardcore.)

After that, we played a round of Splendor, which I won, mostly by going for the noblemen cards. (We played Splendor because I had brought it and suggested it and nobody was particularly inclined to look at other games that were around – as I said, we weren't the most socializing bunch, and while I felt it would have been weird to keep small talk going, because I'm old enough to be their father, so how was your day at school?)

After that, it only was quarter past nine or so, but I didn't feel up to a reshuffle of anything. As we were wrapping up Splendor, the CAH people turned into Codenames people, or tried to, because every time they were done explaining the game, new people joined who didn't know it, to the point that I suggested the other three hurry up and go over and ask how Codenames is played. But I seem to have hit a nerve with making ready to leave (even though I made the appropriate "well I'm an old fart, I need more sleep" noises), and two of our party left as well – the guy who had won FCM and said he needed to catch a train ride home, and a girl who was jokingly bantering a bit with me.

So all in all a nice evening, I guess, even if I'm a bit worried about my behaviour. (For no serious reason, just that I'm very very critical of power play and my age and confidence made me sort of alpha person in that group, which I pretty much never am ever. Also, that cradlesnatching aspect.)
And yay, FCM, but boy, is that a lot of cards and tokens to ziplock up.

It's Tuesday, IBYL

Simon will appreciate this, I think, even though it's more cyber than steam: Kompressörhead play Ace of Spades.

Oh, and my copy of Labyrinth/Labyrinth 2 has shipped! ::gets the little counter baggies::

ETA: missed the postman by five minutes, somewhat annoyingly for my neighbor. (I literally saw the delivery van in our street, but with deliveries to multiple houses, I couldn't tell if I was fast enough.) Also: woot!woot! it came with its own eight extra counter baggies!
It is reported that some effects of radiation exposure of the brain, such as would happen on multi-year space travel, might affect the ability to "get over things". (Yes, I've over-simplified that. Lots.)
I foresee pharmacological research into countering that happening, which will then seep onto the planetary (black) market as a performance enhancer, giving us people who are neurochemically less prone to fear, anxiety, and guilt. Drop it onto blotting paper, acid-style, and you could call it the Trump Card.

My, the weather has changed quickly.

Only a week or so ago, I was talking about onion quiche and other autumn delights, today, I'm having a healthy superfood dinner that would usually require first frost (but in my case, came from the freezer from two or three years ago).

Brrrrrr. At least, we only get the other kind of hurricanes.

In tech news, a time glitch has thrown away about two hours' worth of walk from the tracker. I'm tempted to head out for another short walk just to get the "official" step count over the daily target. But I think I'm not going to, because that way madness lies (says the man who had a three-year record of daily weight measurements, bodyfat and all).