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Jeff's Gameblog
Wednesday, 7 April 2004

Yesterday was a particularly busy day at work and I ended up not having time for blogging. I got some moves in over at ItsYourTurn.com. Apparently in my initial enthusiasm over Anti-Chess I managed to vastly overestimate my talents, as I am proceeding to lose games with almost as much efficiency as Xiangqi. I also got a bit of work done last night on my redo of the old Chainmail attack matrix. (The one Jonathan Tweet makes a to-do about over at his website.) I'm hoping to play a Chainmail scenario with some paper figures in the nearish future.

I talked to my sister earlier in the week about Flatcon, the new con that sprang up over in Bloomington, Illinois a few years ago. It looks like her and her friend Michael will be meeting me there for at least part of the con. That's not until July, so I think we're going to try to schedule a game day sometime between now and then.

Tonight is another episode of Dave Hoover's Savage Worlds campaign. That ought to be fun, although the group hasn't exactly cohesed yet. Cohesed. Is that a word? Anyway, I'm hoping to get more information out of Dave regarding contacting Ray St. John.

Posted by jrients at 4:01 PM CDT
Monday, 5 April 2004

I got some of my recent game purchases in the mail today. SFKH3: The War Machine pretty much finishes up my Star Frontiers Knight Hawks collection. The Boot Hill referee's screen is pretty lame (2 panels, with one side of one panel devoted wholly to artwork!) but some of the famous gunfights described in the minimodule look like they could be fun. The BattleTech lot (consisting of the revised Master Rules, Maximum Tech, 17 mapsheets, and a bunch of counters) finishes up my BattleTech needs, aside from the odd issue of Star Date or BattleTechnology.

The big gaming news today is that my daughter Elizabeth and I played a game of Candyland today. It was our first attempt at playing a boardgame together. We got about a quarter of the way through the game before she started playing with the pieces in ways that indicated that she had lost interest in the gameplay. Still, she did a great job of putting the game back on the shelf that I have set aside for her games.

Posted by jrients at 8:39 PM CDT
Sunday, 4 April 2004

Dave Hoover and Pat came over today to play Battletech. This was the first time Dave has visited and I must say he was extremely cool to hang out with. Among other things, he knows how to be a good guest, bringing some chips salsa and pop. It was alos nice that he didn't freak out when Elizabeth was behaving like a rampant two-year-old. The BattleTech scenario itself went okay, though the short game time plus the victory conditions led to much nonsensical kamikaze action at the end. Dave noted that he had read this blog. (Hi, Dave!) He also said I should have been more vocal when we were choosing which campaign to run.

Posted by jrients at 9:40 PM CST
Saturday, 3 April 2004

I printed out Savage Worlds: Showdown, the new skirmish rules PDF I discovered over at greatwhitegames.com. I haven't had a chance to look through it in detail, but it looks pretty darn compatible with the Savage Worlds rpg's skirmish chapter and it has a nifty little random event table in the back.

Several small items on the chess front: I'm continuing to get my ass whomped at Chinese chess over at ItsYourTurn.com. Talked to my sister today and I may be playing SpaceWarp44 with her at the family get-together for Easter. I'm hoping to start another solitaire game of SW44 tomorrow or Monday. I've also been thinking again about making a Shogi set.

This morning I tried looking at a zrf file for Zillions of Games, to see if I could maybe write a zrf for SW44. It doesn't look _impossible_, but it does look like a big pain in the patoot. I think if I take the project in baby steps I might be able to pull it off. For example, I could start with modifying the pieces on a normal chess board (this would also help with a "crook chess" modest variant for chessvariants.com. Then change the board shape. The add the warp squares. Finally, figure out a way to enforce the 'counter mix' rule for pawn promotion.

Everything is set-up in my game room for tomorrow night's BattleTech game. I'm happy to finally get a chance to play the first scenario I've ever written. I'm a bit disappointed that it looks like I will only have one other player at the table, though it will be nice to have Dave Hoover over.

Posted by jrients at 8:09 PM CST
Friday, 2 April 2004
I am an idiot.
No shocker in the title, I suppose. But it took me until this afternoon to put two and two together. I've been looking for rules to replace DinoWars for army man vs. dinosaur action. It occurred to me today that Savage Worlds/Showdown would probably do the trick quite nicely, especially if I used 1.5" clicky-sized buildings for my cityscape.

Posted by jrients at 5:22 PM CST
Thursday, 1 April 2004

Today I ended up going to the local used bookstore in search of a copy of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code (long story) but instead found cheap copies (a fiver apiece) of three Palladium supplements: Transdimensional TMNT, Mutants Down Under, and After the Bomb. All these are TMNT supplements, but useable as source material for Heroes Unlimited. The post-apocalyptic stuff ought to be stealable for a Gamma World game to boot. Additionally, Transdimensional includes rules for time machines and Mutants Down Under contains rules for airships. Put 'em together and you can build your own Time Zeppelin!

My chess variant games over at ItsYourTurn are at standstill; I had forgotten about the 25 moves per day limit for non-paying members. My own grim predictions have turned out to be true: I'm doing pretty good in a couple of games of Anti-Chess a.k.a Loser's Chess. I'm totally blowing chunks at a game of Horde Chess, a variant in which black is equipped only with a horde of pawns.

I broke out the old xiangqi books tonight. I had forgotten the non-western annotation method that had stumped my prior plans to study the game in depth. Maybe I can translate a game or two to western notation. Pritchard's Popular Chess Variants has at least one xiangqi game in western notation. I'll have to take a look at that.

Posted by jrients at 9:06 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 1 April 2004 9:22 PM CST

Caught most of an episode of World Poker Tour last night. The final match between the pro and the amateur was really interesting. The icy Finnish amateur was totally 0wnz0ring the pro, who was getting visibly flustered.

I like the fact that at least one aspect of the tabletop gaming hobby has moved into the mainstream limelight. Seeing World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker and Celebrity Poker Showdown have led me to some interest in playing Texas Hold 'Em. I believe I've played a couple of times in the past at family gatherings. Penny-ante dealer's-choice poker used to be a regular feature at get-togethers with my mom's side of the family. Great Uncle Lou, who gambled as his hobby, used to call Texas Hold 'Em once in a while. As kids the lack of wildcards and small hands didn't thrill the members of my generation of the family. As an adult I can really see the beauty of the game. Unlike 5-card draw or 7-card stud you get what you get and have to play as best as you can. I'm think maybe I'll try to find out if there are any tournaments at the local riverboat casinos.

On the chess front, I had the momentary elation of a xianqgi opponent resigning over at ItsYourTurn. I say momentary because I looked at the game in question and can't see why my foe quit the field. I may send him a message asking about it. I started a game of anti-chess yesterday and have already made newbie mistake #1: exposing a bishop on your first move.

Posted by jrients at 9:43 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, 1 April 2004 9:46 AM CST
Wednesday, 31 March 2004
My first game of SpaceWarp44
For this game I retained the usage of naming the relevant pieces Bishops and Rooks, even though calling them Popes and Crooks would be more accurate.
Apologies for the slightly irregular notation and the crappy formatting.

white black notes
1.d2-c3 Ra9-b7 Black's Rook uses knight-move
2.a2-b3 d8-c7
3.d2-e3 Bd9-d8
4.Ra1-a5 e8-d7
5.c1-d3 Rb7-b6?
6.c3-b6xR! c7-b6xp White takes black Rook using warpsquare movement. Black's pawn uses warpsquare to emulate orthodox pawn capture.
7.Ra5-a6 b8-a7
8.b3-c4? d7-e6? White puts its Rook in jeopardy, but Black misses the opportunity.
9.Ra6-a4 Bd8-c7 White moves Rook out of harm's way.
10.Bd1-d2 e6-b5
11.Bd1-e4 castles, Re9-d9,Kc9-e9
12.Re1-d3 b6-a5 White uses knight-move.
13.Bd2-a5xp Bc7-a5xB
14.Ra4-a5xB Rd9-d7
15.Ra5-b6? Rd7-b6xR White allows black to capture a Rook on a knight-move.
16.Be4-d5xp c8-d7
17.e3-d4 Bb9-c8
18.Rd3-e3+ Ke9-d8
19.Re3-e6 d7-c6
20.Bd5-c6xp Rb6-c3+ Black moves Rook via warpsquare.
21.Kc1-b2 Rc3-d4xp " " " "
22.c4-b5 Rd4-a5 " " " "
23.Bc6-b6+! Kd8-d7
24.Bb6-a5xR Kd7-e6xR
25.Kb2-c3 Bc8-c7
26.e2-d3 a8-d7
27.b3-a4 a7-b6+ Check given via warpsquare
28.b5-b6xp b7-b6xp+ " " "
29.Ba5-b6xp Bc7-b6xB
30.Kc3-b6xp Resigns

All in all this game was a real comedy of errors. There was some real interesting action at the end though. I had a Mexican standoff in which each side had a king and a bishop on an outer warpsquare.

Posted by jrients at 8:22 PM CST
Chess: A Loser's Perspective
Since gaming is my hobby of choice I try to take losing in stride. My D&D character gets eaten by a dragon? No biggie. I score fewer points in a German game than everyone else? There's always next time. My forces are crushed in a wargame? Every general has his off days. Chess is where the losses come fast and furious for me. I've never studied chess the way serious players do. High-level Advanced Squad Leader and Star Fleet Battles players have nothing on hardcore chess geeks. Although I've never had much interest in bearing down and becoming a good chess player, I sometimes get this urge with xiangqi (Chinese chess). The open structure of the xiangqi set-up and the nifty cannon pieces really make for a fast and furious chess game. It doesn't take too long into a game of xiangqi before I can be in your bases, killing your d00ds. Of course, I'm usually not the one doing the killing, because I suck at chess. Right now I'm playing about 10 games of xiangqi over at ItsYourTurn.com. My level of success ranges the entire continuum from barely holding my own to totally blowing goats. That's usually where I'm at when I play chess, in sucksville. People I have taught xiangqi to have beaten me on their first game. Heck, my recent solitaire playtest of my new variant SpaceWarp44 was so error-ridden that at the end of the game I felt like I had managed to lose to myself.

Unlike many other types of game, losing at chess sometimes really brings me down. There's a purity of essence to chess. The window dressing is sparse. The set-up is absolutely symmetrical. You can't blame a chess loss on a bad die roll or a poorly written scenario. There's no way to rationalize yourself out of the plain and simple fact that the other guy whupped you. And I can't always find that zone that allows you to enjoy the game and the beauty of your position crumbling around you. In a good wargame a route is a thing to behold. In chess a loss is often just a loss. Still, I go through spates of loving chess and chess variants. My last such episode lasted much of 2001 and into spring 2002. I'm apparently entering another one now. Before I lose steam again I'm hoping to make a few contributions to chessvariants.com, learn to program zrf files for the great computer game Zillions of Games and maybe win a couple games. I'm also tempted to take up anti-chess or some other loser's chess variant. In anti-chess you win by running out of pieces, kinda like lowball poker.

Posted by jrients at 5:21 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 1 April 2004 5:03 PM CST
Tuesday, 30 March 2004
Am I starting to get the hang of this?
It took maybe twenty years, but I finally feel like I know what I'm doing when it comes to my gaming hobby. Or sure, I have my doubts, my screw-ups, and all that jazz. But I think I'm starting to get my act together. I have a pretty clear idea of what I like and don't like, but I remain open to experimentation. I don't feel the need to hang all my expectations for gaming on one system or one gaming group. I don't feel like I have anything to prove to my gaming peers. The only person I'm trying to prove anything to is myself. And I'm sticking to individual projects with better and better tenacity, though a quick read of this blog will show that I continue to have too many irons in the fire.

Posted by jrients at 8:51 PM CST

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