Category Archives: games

Not blogging, WRITING

I have not been blogging much this week, because I have been focusing all of my creative efforts on my essay.

OK, I lie. I have been juggling school holidays and parent stuff and work stuff AND my essay.

The essay is amusing me a lot. I do not, however, think that that is the primary purpose of an essay, or that my tutor would think that the essay as it currently stands is acceptable.

This is mostly because of that 1500 word thing. Because I think I probably TWEET about 1500 words in a week. Or possibly in a day, when I am writing an essay and being distracted by the AWESOME THINGS I COULD PUT INTO IT.

Things like:

  • a picture of me with Aldie and Reiner.
  • stuff about pervasive games
  • stuff about different content types on BGG
  • an analysis of why session reports, reviews and geeklists are really kinda sorta fanfiction
  • a study of the metagame in online Werewolf and how it transcends the individual games
  • that video of Otto doing the Order Up dance in Essen (actually I think this was lost)
  • stuff about how gamers are fans and analysis of the Superfan concept. I want to cast Derk as Harry Knowles in a movie.
  • a picture of a cat in a box.

Sadly, I suspect I am missing the point.

More than sadly, I think I have now written WELL OVER 1500 words ABOUT the essay. Which, for those who are counting, is currently sitting at around 3700 words, with more to add.

But lots of you have offered to proofread. So when I finish it, I might post some of the lost parts here. Because there is an audience for everything, and you guys are it.


Posted by on July 3, 2012 in be happy, games, not your earth logic, study


Decisions Decisions

So, let’s say someone – for the sake of argument, let’s call her Melissa – had three options. And a ticket to the most hotly-anticipated gaming event in Texas.

1. Be financially responsible and a good parent and stay in Melbourne with my her family.

2. Go to a conference in Boston. Which is directly relevant to my her work. And fly home with a stop in Dallas. Cost: About $5000. Some tax-deductible.

3. Stop mucking around and book the flights and hotel for BGGcon. Cost: About $2500. Plus shopping.

Hypothetically speaking, is there an optimal choice here?


Posted by on June 19, 2012 in games, travel


Drunken clowns? What F***ers!

Sitting around at Bordercon on Saturday afternoon, Iain asked me whether I wanted to try a new game he’d picked up. “It’ll only take about an hour,” he said, basing his estimate on the playing time of 45 minutes.

[As it turns out, this was the first of several mistakes we would make with this game.]

The game was Circus Train. It’s about running a circus out of Canada during the Prohibition era, and is based on Sara Gruen’s novel Water for Elephants (or think of the TV series Carnivale). Potentially an interesting theme.

1:42pm “This may well be the first time this game has been played in Australia” / “You start with one clown. ” #ClownTrain #Bordercon #qbgames

The version we played was produced by Victory Point Games. They’re a small, volunteer-based publishing company. As I understand it, the games they publish are often created by students of game design.

That makes a lot of sense in the context of the game. It had familiar mechanics drawn from a variety of games:

  • “Best Work” scoring, similar to Princes of Florence or Colosseum
  • Card-based actions (hand management), where you choose which card to play from your hand each turn, from a limited pool
  • Rounds and Uber-rounds (phases/stages/eras). And Uber Uber Rounds.
  • A modified pick-up-and-deliver component, that sort of lost half of the deliver part in that you kept the items you had collected
  • Multipliers for having multiple copies of a single item (more Princes of Florence here)
  • Random event cards that cannot be mitigated against (think Agricola X-Deck but even worse) (I can say that, I was one of the X-Deck designers)
  • End-of-round (end of week / end of month / end of 2 months / end of game) administration
  • Limited number of turns

1:46pm Early theory: #CircusTrain is the bastard child of #PrincesOfFlorence and #18xx – will see what @jryderau & @eclectics think #Bordercon

So far, that probably doesn’t sound so bad. And in fact I see that this game has some positive reviews on BGG. I am, however, at a loss to see why.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 13, 2012 in games, rant


Bordercon 2012: wrapup

We’ve been going to Albury over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend every year since 2006. At first, it was for the Australian Games Expo, which later moved to be held in Canberra over the Australia Day weekend in January. Since 2009, though, it’s been for Bordercon – an annual get-together of gamers from all around the country – at least from South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

It gets better every year.

Highlights – as those who follow my Twitter feed will know – were, as always, catching up with friends. From a games perspective, the highlights for me were:

  • Mare Balticum – a 30 minute filler game with stunning artwork created first as a 3D model and then photographed. This will be a great family game for our family. There’s an advanced version which I’ve not yet tried – but after learning the basic game on Saturday morning I taught (and played) it five or six times over the rest of the con. Bought a copy.
  • Lords of Waterdeep – it’s sort of D&D-themed Caylus. Which already sounds awesome. I only played this on Sunday night because some friends like it and really wanted to play it, and I didn’t expect much. But then I taught it (and played it again) on Monday, and then I bought a copy after we came home. Again, a nice family game, although I don’t think Otto is quite up to the nasty bits. Bigster should like it, though.
  • Big Points – this is one that we’ve been playing a lot. We had a rule wrong, and it is SO MUCH TOUGHER when you play it properly. A game that works well with kids as well as with adults.
  • Tiaras! We dressed for dinner on Saturday night, and then played BurgenBurgenBurgenBurgenBurgen Burgen^5 Castles of Burgundy in appropriately dressy clothing. With tiaras and glitter hats that made Terry’s face sparkle. And a lace table runner.
  • Time’s Up on Saturday night. After Burgen^5. Note to friends: Queen – of which Freddy Mercury was the lead singer – sang a song called “Fat Bottomed Girls”. You all have filthy minds.

Other things that were awesome: The record raffle takings. Over $2000 raised to support Border Cystic Fibrosis – an organisation that supports families caring for a child or children with CF. (Albury has regional Victoria’s highest rates of CF).

The lowlight, by a country mile, was the Sunday night dinner at Hog’s Breath (a steak/ribs chain restaurant) in Albury. We’ve eaten at Hog’s Breath every year and the service has got worse each time. This year, they have done their dash. The rest of my family arrived at 6:20; I followed to arrive at 6:30 (booked time). Our orders weren’t taken until about 7 and at 7:30 we still had no drinks. A beer arrived for Fraser at 7:45 (after we had TWICE asked to speak to the manager and been told he would be there soon) but we don’t think it was really his, as all our drinks appeared at 8. By now, Otto was in tears, having waited over 90 minutes for her dinner already. (It didn’t help that we’d refused a 5pm snack as we were headed out for Big Dinner). Our meals finally arrived after 8:30. We had been ready to leave, but were concerned that the rest of the group would be charged for them even though we hadn’t eaten them. The couple with the baby left though. We didn’t bother to stay for dessert, and went to Cold Rock for ice creams instead. And didn’t leave a tip either. They really cost themselves a lot of money over that night.

The other low point was playing a truly dreadful game. About alcoholic clowns in a circus. Of which more tomorrow. Because others should share my pain.


Posted by on June 12, 2012 in games


More bordercon thinking

My Bordercon packing list just grew.

  • Time’s Up: Deluxe edition
  • Something awesome to donate to the fundraiser raffle
  • Baked Goodness
  • a Tiara.

Also, my friend still has the Inspection Camera. So it might not come with me. (Stop it. I know you are disappointed.)

Because it will be cold in Albury, I bought Fraser a beanie with a beard. He says if he wears it in public he will be arrested. I say that’s a poor excuse and if he really loved me he would wear it.

I bought new jumpers for both the girls today, too. But no facial hair adornments. I am seeing a theme here.

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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in games, going_out


This week in my life

There was a trip to the dentist. Resulting in a bruised jaw and droopy anaesthetised eyelid. Very attractive, me.

Also two trips to the Children’s Hospital, involving four vials of blood and a chest x-ray.

There was a trip to my accountant to do OMGTAX. And, if I manage to squeeze it in, a trip to the local council offices to view and photocopy the plans for our house.

There were traffic lights on Facebook that made it into my blog. And a bad friend who quoted the Traffic Light song and now I have an earworm.

There was a Diagram of Cheese, which did not. Until now. I don’t think it’s very complete.

There was an ill-advised Trip to IKEA (if I count last Sunday as part of this week).

Two gifts were bought for Fraser. He does not know what they are so I cannot tell you, Dear Reader. But they are awesome. And one might be for Sharing. Tragically, though, neither of them is Spy Cufflinks.

There was lots of work, jammed in between driving the Bigster around and hangin’ at the hospital.

And Nigerian Spam, addressed to Dearest One. Which made me feel happy even though it was from the Bad People.

There were no games at all, and only one very mediocre book. (See my slightly ranty review of the latest Pern novel, Todd & Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon’s Time at Goodreads – warning, SPOILERS sweetie!)

But there were TWO purple vegetables. Neither of which is usually purple.

And there was excitement about the upcoming Doctor Who card game by Martin Wallace.

As weeks go, I’d give it a 7.5/10.


Things to Pack for Bordercon

In a couple of weeks, we’re going away to spend a few days with friends, playing boardgames.

It must be time to get my packing list together.

So far, it looks like this:

I feel this list needs to grow.


Posted by on May 23, 2012 in be happy, friends, games