July 7 1999 RussCon Report


So I was the Devil with an unprecedented 6 glorious wins of 6 games played last week, but somehow ended up spending most of the evening on the floor. Hmm. I need to cultivate my Devil Assertion Skills.


Help Out a Poor Gamer:

Kevin bought a couple copies of El Grande for $20 at a game store in College Station that was going out of business, just to generously help out those of us in need of a cheap El Grande game. But instead all he heard last night was "Oh, El Grande's not that great anyway" or "But Funagain's selling them online for $20 too." That's the thanks he gets? Is that gratitude? I don't think so! Kevin requested a plug for this, and the RussCon Management is always ready to help out the needy. So somebody please give this guy $20 and take a copy of El Grande off his poor suffering hands.


Game Results:

Tayu 2 KevinH 1 RussW -1
QuoVadis 4 JP 3 Fred 1 SteveZ -1 Harry -3
Medici 3 RussW 2 Steve 0 KevinH -2
Money 5 SteveZ 4 Fred 2 Bob -1 Harry -1 JP -4
SantaFe 5 JeffF 4 Alfred 2 WendyWhe 0 Clayton -2 Marty -4
Bluff 2 Fred 1 Bob -1
Ido 3 Steve 2 RussW 0 KevinH -2
David&Goliath 5 Fred 4 JP 2 Bob 0 JeffF -2 Alfred -4
HighSociety 5 Harry 4 WendyWhe 2 Clayton 0 Marty -2 SteveZ -4
SantaFe 5 WendyWhe 4 Steve 2 RussW 0 KevinH -2 Marty -4
UnionPacific 5 KevinH 4 Steve 2 WendyWhe 0 Marty -2 RussW -4
Tikal 4 Brady 3 JP 1 JeffF -1 Alfred -3
Tayu 4 JP 1 Marty 1 RussW -1 Brady -1
Tayu 2 Marty 1 RussW -1

I really like Tayu even though I won no games of it tonight! I played my first 4 player game (which is really just 2 player, but with teams). Many games of Tayu get very intense and close at the end. If you've not played it yet, you should give it a try!

Kevin brought Ido (also bought for $20), that funky looking primary color modern art looking abstract game. I think it may work best 2 player. We did it 3 player and reached a point where clearly Steve or I would win on our next turn no matter what Kevin did, but he could pick which of us would win. I hyphothesize there's too little individual control in 3 or 4 player Ido, and that it will inevitably reach a point where several people can win, and some other player gets to pick which one will win. But with 2 players it would be a pure strategy game.

Santa Fe is an early Alan Moon train game Marty just got. I liked it ok, but Union Pacific seems cooler.


Evening's Soundtrack:

Genesis (before they sucked in the 80s)

Trespass (1970)
Nursery Cryme (1971)
Foxtrot (1972)
Wind & Wuthering (1976)
A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Obscure reference for Crispy and Brendan: What do Crispy & Richard have in common?


Rank ratings:
 0.6667 Fred (4 games played)
 0.5000 Steve (4)
 0.3750 WendyWhe (4)
 0.3333 Brady (2)
 0.1765 JP (5)
 0.0909 JeffF (3)
 0.0000 Harry (3)
-0.0769 KevinH (5)
-0.0909 SteveZ (3)
-0.2222 Bob (3)
-0.2500 Clayton (2)
-0.2941 RussW (7)
-0.4545 Alfred (3)
-0.5000 Marty (6)

New Win ratings:
 0.3333 Brady (2)
 0.2500 Fred (4)
 0.1818 JeffF (3)
 0.1818 Harry (3)
 0.1818 SteveZ (3)
 0.1538 KevinH (5)
 0.0625 WendyWhe (4)
 0.0588 JP (5)
-0.0833 Steve (4)
-0.1000 Marty (6)
-0.2353 RussW (7)
-0.2500 Clayton (2)
-0.2727 Alfred (3)
-0.3333 Bob (3)

Fred & Brady are Co-Devils! SteveH, Wendy, and Jeff are Co-Vice-Devils. Brady's usually late, so Fred should get here at 7 to stake out the dining table.

I win the Dedicated Award.


Trip report: Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic

Since country music is among the few genres I don't much listen to, I wouldn't normally have trekked to Luckenbach for 12 hours of country bands. But I won free tickets, and to my surprise RussCon gamers Tim and Alfred were interested, so off we went.

Tim had recorded a tape of country music for the road trip, including highlights of several minutes of silence ("I must have hit play instead of record here"), and a song where the CD started skipping around ("but I thought it sounded kind of good anyway").

We got there soon after it started at 11am. Huge stage, grassy area about the size of 2 football fields, and we're about 2/3 of the way back, which was good soundwise (the music was quite amplified) but not sightwise. Sadly, I'd left my binoculars in the car. Little did we realize that the parking lot was a couple miles from the venue, with a bus taking us, and no rights to go back for a second load of stuff. When a hard rainstorm hit around noon or 1, I became glad I'd left my binoculars in the car. But it was nice to get soaked, since otherwise the day would have been unbearably hot. We got another harder rain later as well. There were also first aid people who walked around spraying people with water.

We also left Tim's watermelon in the car, but I forgot and brought along the big knife I'd brought for it. At the front gate, they searched our baskets and said no knives allowed. Luckily the guy was sidetracked by my go board and stones and didn't find the big knife. It would have sucked to have to take it back to the car.

A lot of country music is unfamiliar to me, but I knew some of the bands and songs. E.g. Geezinslaw Brothers, Ray Price, Steve Fromholtz of Austin. Larry Gatlin, Leon Russell, Tab Benoit, Supersuckers, etc. Willie Nelson joined in on a few songs throughout the day, which always set the crowd cheering. There were a few bits of other music here and there: some jazz and blues, some American Indian music, etc.

Several people rotated MC duties, including a terrible guy "Professor Milo" who did supposedly funny songs about out-of-date news items like OJ Simpson Had a Glove (to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm) and something about Bill & Monica. Hoody-hoo. Yeah.

For the most part, the show went smoothly with very fast transitions between bands; that was impressive. There were a few feedback screeches and a constant low buzz during some acts, though.

Being 3 geeks, we played a game of go and a game of chess. My 13x13 board's cardboard carrying box was rain-damaged, but luckily the board survived. We may have been the only drinking-age people who did not bother to get wristbands for beer.

The Chronicle claimed there would be innumerable Texas flag bikini tops, but in fact we saw none. There were a few US flag bikini tops, however.

Also, we now know where honey comes from: behind the row of several dozen porta-potties was a big tank truck (with a thick hose 2 guys used to slurp the potties during the day, with pulsing ductwork reminiscent of the movie Brazil). On the side of the tank truck was painted in large letters "Honey Wagon". Hmm, makes you think.

Country music seems to attract an amazingly white crowd. I saw 2 blacks and 2 Asians, and the rest of the 15000 to 20000 people seemed to be white with a few Hispanic folks. The age spread was quite impressive, however. There were a few diverse elements in the audience (guy with Black Flag shirt, a goth/punk looking group of teenagers, a few bikers in black leather chaps, etc.), but for the most part it was about what you'd expect for a marathon country music event, including the requisite Confederate flag shirts and tattoos. Alfred says he saw a girl with blue hair, but I never did.

I used to think goth, metal, industrial, punk fans were heavy duty smokers, but I must add country fans to that list. I breathed more smoke here in an outdoor field than in the night before at the Genitorturers metal concert indoors.

My favorite acts?

An obscure California trio named Pump Skully played early on. They did very fast hard-rocking country stuff; I wished they'd gotten to play longer.

Ray Wylie Hubbard (famous for Redneck Mother), who did a fun long rant song about going to hell and talking with the Devil, with lines about "in that Charlie Daniels song, I personally thought your solo was the better one", and "some people who I know won't go to heaven are Christian Coalition rightwing conservatives and Nashville record producers". He also advised songwriters to be careful and ponder if they can sing a song for 27 years; it appears he's getting a bit tired of people demanding Redneck Mother and associating him with that one song!

In the evening was Janis Ian, who opened solo with At Seventeen (her famous bittersweet melancholy classic song: "I learned the truth at 17, that love was meant for beauty queens"), then played some stuff I'd never heard, but it totally rocked. She did the most rocking guitar stuff of the day, some really virtuoso electric guitar coolness. I loved it.

Bizarrely sporadic fireworks began firing off, one every few minutes. It was the most random desultory fireworks show I ever saw on a 4th of July! However, at one point there was great entertainment as fireworks began launching steadily from behind a nearby group of trees, flying too low, and several times shooting into the crowd, with people scrambling away in panic. That pumped up the adrenalin!

Also, when it got dark, vendors carried around what appeared from a distance to be glowing totem sticks with a severed redheaded clown head. Nicely surreal.

The show closed with Willie Nelson, of course, and he was good, though I can't say I've been won over to the Cult of Willie. I listened to some Hole the next morning, and now I feel at home again.

The low point of the day was after the show, and discovering that basically we could wait forever for a bus back to the parking lot, or walk the 2 miles ourselves with a swarm of other drunken people all hauling lawn chairs, with drunk drivers speeding past in pickups loaded full of rowdy taunters, and one stretch of extremely pungent shit fields. Ah well, you must suffer for art, I guess.

PS: Tim, thanks for driving! Uh, and sorry about those spilled sweet & sour lentils... Good luck to Alfred; when we made it back to Austin around 1am, he then had to pull an all-nighter for a math class.


El Grande sucks. Only losers play El Grande.