March 22 2000 RussCon Report

A larger turnout, with 19 of us. 19 games were played, too!


Guillotine 3 William 2 JonathanB 0 Fred -2
HoneyBears 3 JonathanC 2 JonathanB 0 William -2
ArkhamHorror 6 BobR 0 Daniel 0 JP 0 Jerrie 0 Bryan 0 RussW 0
Frank'sZoo 5 Bryan 4 RussW 2 Daniel 0 BobR -2 Jerrie -4
UnionPacific 5 Bob 4 WendyWhi 2 Alfred 0 Marty -2 Clayton -4
ZirkusFlohcati 6 Marty 5 Alfred 3 Bob 1 WendyWhi -1 Steve -3 Clayton -5
Entdecker 3 JeffF 2 Allen 0 Fred -2
Samarkand 5 JP 4 William 2 Tim 0 JonathanB -2 JonathanC -4
MammaMia 4 JeffF 2 Steve 2 Alfred -1 Clayton -3
QuoVadis 5 RussW 4 Daniel 2 Jerrie 0 Bryan -2 BobR -4
LostCities 4 Bob 2 JP 2 Marty -2 Steve -2
ModernArt 4 Marty 3 WendyWhi 1 Bob -1 Allen -3
GhostParty 6 Alfred 5 RussW 3 Tim 1 Jerrie -1 Daniel -3 BobR -5
Bluff 8 Daniel 7 William 4 Alfred 4 Bryan 1 Tim -1 RussW -3 BobR -5 Jerrie -7
GiveMeTheBrain 8 Bryan 7 Daniel 3 Tim 3 William 3 RussW -2 Jerrie -2 Alfred -5 BobR -7
ZirkusFlohcati 5 Daniel 4 BobR 2 Alfred 0 RussW -2 Bryan -4
SpaceBeans 4 JP 3 Marty 1 Steve -1 Bob -3
Guillotine 5 Bryan 4 Daniel 2 RussW -1 Alfred -1 Bryan -4
Loewenherz 4 JonathanB 3 JonathanC 1 JeffF -1 Allen -3

Devil BobR brought Arkham Horror. We were all rusty on the rules (which contain many vague points anyway), but we muddled through. Very soon 6 gates were open and the world was horribly destroyed, so we all lost. The last time Arkham Horror was played at RussCon, everyone lost also. It's a tough job, defeating Cthulhoid horrors.

Finally I got to play Frank's Zoo with an odd number of players again!

The Quo Vadis game illustrated the importance of giving votes, as Bryan and BobR came in last after a series of unresolved deals and nonvotes.

We grabbed additional dice to play Bluff with 8 players. It's a good game for scaling up to any number of players, I think. There are very few such games (Ricochet Robot comes to mind, but many people don't like it).

It was good nostalgic fun to play Give Me the Brain again after many months. It's not a great game per se (way too chaotic), but it certainly has a subtly charming ambience about it. I like the card with the zombie with his head in a toilet saying "I can hear the ocean."

Very close game of Guillotine (scores ranged from 9 to 13). Early on I collected the Rival Executioner (which means I also collect the top card from the noble deck), and I had the worst possible luck: I drew the Hero of the People (-3)! Argh!


Evening's Soundtrack:

Altan, Harvest Storm
Black 47, Green Suede Shoes
Clandestine, The Haunting
Local Hero soundtrack
Piping Hot, A Celtic Bagpipe Collection

Music in anticipation of Clandestine, the cool Celtic band from Houston, who will be playing Saturday March 25 at the Cactus Cafe! They are easily my favorite live band. Fiddle, guitar, bagpipes, drums, female vocals. Join me & others beforehand for dinner at Veggie Heaven at 7:15 if you like, then we walk over to Cactus Cafe. The band starts at 9, but get there early to get in line if you want a good seat. It should be about $10.


Rank ratings:
 0.6000 JP (4 games played)
 0.4091 William (5)
 0.3750 JeffF (3)
 0.3750 Daniel (8)
 0.2778 Marty (5)
 0.1667 Bob (5)
 0.1667 WendyWhi (3)
 0.1538 Bryan (8)
 0.1304 Tim (4)
 0.1282 Alfred (8)
 0.0909 JonathanB (4)
 0.0250 RussW (8)
-0.1111 JonathanC (3)
-0.2857 Steve (4)
-0.4375 Jerrie (6)
-0.5833 BobR (7)
-0.7500 Allen (3)
-1.0000 Clayton (3)
-1.0000 Fred (2)

New Win ratings:
 0.6000 JP (4)
 0.3750 JeffF (3)
 0.2821 Bryan (8)
 0.2222 Marty (5)
 0.1667 Bob (5)
 0.1500 Daniel (8)
 0.0000 JonathanB (4)
 0.0000 JonathanC (3)
-0.0500 RussW (8)
-0.0769 Alfred (8)
-0.0909 William (5)
-0.1429 Steve (4)
-0.1563 Jerrie (6)
-0.1667 BobR (7)
-0.1739 Tim (4)
-0.2500 WendyWhi (3)
-0.3333 Clayton (3)
-0.3750 Allen (3)
-0.5000 Fred (2)

JP is indisputably the Devil! Next is William, then JeffF (the tie being broken ironically by JeffF's proposal of # games played). Then Daniel, then Marty.

Fred is the Generous Angel. Alfred, Bryan, Daniel, Russ share the Dedicated Award for playing 8 games.

There has been some confusion lately about how the Devil is determined. I plan to write up a description and put it on the website soon. In a nutshell, we induce a partial order on the players from the 2 total orders (rank and win) by the canonical mechanism:

Biff >= Eugene in the Devil partial order
if and only if
Biff >= Eugene in the Rank total order and Biff >= Eugene in the Win total order.

Hence in the Devil partial order, JP >= everyone, and JeffF & William are incomparable (neither is >= the other). A few weeks ago that would have made JeffF & William Co-Vice-Devils, but William played more games, which is the new tie-breaker for Co-Positions.

Since William is much lower in the win ratings than JeffF is in the rank ratings, one might argue that JeffF should be better than William overall. There is merit to this, and indeed I used to try to factor that in long ago. Essentially I found no matter what system I tried, I could construct seemingly paradoxical examples, so I pragmatically went with a simpler system, which simply starts at the top and works down, rather than working from both ends (an older method I used which would have placed William lower).

Furthermore, some have argued that instead of simply using ordinal positions in list as this system does, I should be using the actual magnitudes. E.g. a simple obvious way to combine the ratings would be simply to add them together, e.g.

JP    1.2
JeffF 0.75
Bob   0.33
Fred -1.5

The reason I have not done such a system is that it equally weights rank and win ratings, which is an additional assumption. (An early philosophical observation we made was that some people value winning more than ranking high, and others value ranking high more than winning. E.g. would you rather win 1 game and come in last in 1 game, or come in 2nd in both games? There's no objectively right answer.) Simply looking at the partial order induced by the 2 individual total orders does not make any assumptions about which is more important, winning or rank. The partial order approach makes fewer potentially controversial assumptions, but of course the down side is that you don't get a total order, and so assumptions then have to be made on how to convert the partial order into a total order!

An alternate approach would simply be not to attempt to define a unique Devil if there isn't one. Frequently there is (such as JP this week). The weeks when there is no Devil from the ratings we could just let anarchy reign at the dining table. Or reverse things and let the Generous Angel (if there is one) have the dining table. Or the Dedicated Player. Or have a mayonnaise pit deathmatch to decide.

Much of the past discussion on this is scattered among the old RussCon Report archives.



A fun game company spoof... Melkor-Bradley Home Page:

Read about the hacking of CyberPatrol censorware and the legal repercussions:

I've added more to my web page: links to online comic strips, haiku movie reviews, and more of my Bench strips:

And now, links to a buttload of web cartoons:

Animated cartoons of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book:

Wired's archive of many many many cartoons:

This one is like those cool stop-motion Tool videos:
Prelude to the Night Parade:

Here's eerie Victorian creepiness, in a kind of Dame Darcy vein:
Donor Party:

Here's one sort of in the vein of Heavy Metal or Tank Girl:
Postcards from the Other Side of the Apocalypse:

The Bulbo series is cool if you enjoy retro black & white cartoons, although that soundtrack music may start to drive you nuts:

Here's classical Indian puppetry combined with modern sex education and condoms:
Naya Kamasutra:

Miscellaneous cartoons of inconsistent humor value, including Siliconites, Fat Man, & Fish Bar:

And just in case you missed Radiskull & Devil Doll last week:
Some of us really like Radiskull & Devil Doll! Mike recently emailed me:
"I told Devildoll (Eric on Asheron's Call) last night that I knew where the name had come from and he was amazed I hadn't known. Then I told him that I'd watched all three episodes at least six times. And he said, you mean both of them? I said, nope, THREE. Then he logged off. Wonder what he was doing?"


New Honorary RussCon Member:

My cohort Brendan & his wife Yvonne had their second baby Caitlin Wednesday morning! Hoody-hoo!

The down side to this is that it will reduce Brendan's RussCon appearances, already rather infrequent at zero appearances per month, to as few as zero appearances every two or three months.


We'll be back to kick it later...