June 5 2002 RussCon Report


Game Results
Meta Party Game Results
Evening's Soundtrack
21 of us played 17 games.
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JP, JeffS, Sea Biscuit, and I went to see the weird Japanese film Visitor Q Thursday night, and ran into MarkY there. It was a powerfully strange movie of over-the-top family dysfunction, necrophilia, and extreme lactation, and I have a new favorite movie quote now: "That's not a mystery of life... it's shit!"

Some of us have gone to see Lord of the Rings at the IMAX in San Antonio. Long drive, but it was fun... and The Two Towers preview looked cool. The movie's gonna be gone from Austin (and probably San Antonio) soon so if you're one of the few who inexplicably haven't seen it yet, it's highly recommended...

While in San Antonio, JP, JeffS, Whendy & I visited the Alamo. By coincidence there is a 1915 silent film Martyrs of the Alamo with live music by Golden Arm Trio's Graham Reynolds, and it's at the Bob Bullock History Museum this coming Thursday June 13 at 7pm. I plan to attend. It's part of an Alamo film series.

If I know you in real life and you have a web page you'd like listed on my page of links to friends, let me know.

Game Results

BuriedTreasure4MarkH 3 Daniel 1 Sarah -1 Tim -3
Cartagena5JP 4 Dan 1 Steve 1 Clayton -3 William -3
Entdecker4RussW 3 Clay 1 Whendy -1 Dudley -3
Pirateer4Daniel 3 Matt 0 Sarah 0 Tim -3
Exxtra3Dudley 2 Tim 0 Allen -2
Carcassonne4JP 3 JonathanC 1 Steve -1 Clayton -3
BuriedTreasure4RussD 3 Whendy 1 Clay -1 RussW -3
Tichu2( William Deborah ) 1 ( MarkH Dan ) -1
Cartagena2RussW 1 Whendy -1
KKK5Daniel 3 Matt 3 Marty 0 JeffF -3 MarkY -3
Drakon5JP 4 Tim 1 Clayton 1 Steve -2 Sarah -4
Cosmic4Allen 3 JonathanC 1 Dudley -2 RussD -2
Carcassonne4Deborah 3 RussW 1 Dan -1 MarkH -3
Cosmic5JonathanC 3 Allen 3 RussD 0 Dudley -2 William -4
Tichu2( Marty MarkY ) 1 ( JeffF Matt ) -1
Cosmic3Allen 2 William 0 Dudley -2
Drakon4JonathanC 3 Steve 0 RussW 0 JP -3

Buried Treasure is a little Sid Sackson gem that's short and fun, and we should play it more.

Recent newcomer Deborah proved her mettle at Carcassonne. The new tiles certainly do add more play variety. There was a large city forming, which Dan got 2 dudes into separate parts of, and a new tile was drawn (which I think of as the Reverse Claw) which separate the 2 parts, thank goodness. Dan's cut-off part had a cathedral in it, heh. The scores tend to be higher and the game lasts longer, simply because there are more tiles now.

JP lost the last game of Drakon and used a controversial negotiating gambit, reminiscent of some recent threads on rec.games.board... It led to a long discussion of gaming group etiquette and assumptions and how we tend to take things for granted about playing style. Multiplayer games, unlike 2-player games, raise all sorts of interesting issues with regard to negotiation, alliances, etc...

In this Drakon game we reached a point where Steve could make a move which would gain him his 4th gold, and guarantee that on his following turn he would get his 5th (game-winning) gold no matter what JP, Sea Biscuit, or I did. So naturally he started to make this move, but JP suggested he do an alternate move instead which would seemingly gain him the same result, but do so by costing me a gold, hence increasing JP's rank to tie for 3rd with me instead of coming in dead last. However, this alternate choice had the potential that we 3 could conspire to keep him from getting his 5th gold on his following turn, so Steve saw no reason to prefer this option. Then JP said that he'd agree not to make a move that would prevent Steve winning on his following turn if Steve would do this alternate proposal, and that furthermore, if Steve stuck with his original plan (which guaranteed his 5th gold on his following turn), JP would play a tile that would let Sea Biscuit win before Steve got his next turn. After several minutes of arguing and negotiating all around, Steve did his original choice of actions, whereupon JP played a gold tile next to Sea Biscuit, so Sea Biscuit of course moved onto it and gained his 5th gold, winning the game.

JP said he felt he had no choice but to follow through on his threat, so that in future games people would know they were serious. The rest of us felt somehow uncomfortable with the whole thing. Steve said he felt he had to do his original action so that JP would know that in future games Steve resents that sort of "bullying ultimatum". We all agreed (I think) that if Steve had simply done his move without JP having proposed the alternate move, then it would have been wrong of JP to gratuitously kingmake and let Sea Biscuit win before Steve got his following turn (since in doing his kingmaking, JP did not alter the fact that he was coming in dead last). So it's an interesting nonobvious question of whether it was appropriate for JP to kingmake given that he had explicitly threatened to do so.

We discussed that the RussCon group has an unspoken ethos that you shouldn't kingmake unless it improves your own position, so in some sense JP violated that for the sake of metagaming (i.e. playing less than optimally in the current game in an attempt to do better in future games by altering how people will interact with him). My personal preference is to avoid such metagaming; I think each game should be played indendently of past or future games ideally, though in practice that is never truly attainable. For instance, imagine that Alf & Bert make a deal, and later in the game it comes time for Bert to honor the deal, but circumstances have unpredicatably changed so that if Bert honors the deal, Alf will immediately win. Some players say Bert should honor the deal, but to me that is based in metagaming of "I want people to trust me in future games". I argue that Bert should break the deal if honoring it is going to give Alf a guaranteed victory. I believe there's an implied ethic that we are all trying to play our current game well and to win it if possible; simply handing someone else victory violates that, and can be frustrating to the other players, just as frustrating as an external-to-the-game alliance (e.g. the stereotype of a boyfriend who always helps his nongamer girlfriend in games because he wants nookie later).

Related issues discussed were to what extent table talk and deal-making should be permitted in games. Most of us seem to like it and agree on the level which we like, but JP's unorthodox proposal stretched the limits in an interesting way. Ironically earlier in the evening, Dan had debated with me, Deborah, and MarkH about the appropriateness of kibitzing in Carcassonne (which is actually explicitly allowed and encouraged by the rules of Carcassonne). Most games don't explicitly state whether table talk is encouraged, allowed, discouraged, or forbidden and every gaming group seems to evolve its own group consensus.

Other interesting unspoken assumptions are whether it's ever reasonable to throw the game to someone else. Our group seems to permit it, if you feel you cannot win: throwing the game to someone else if it maximizes your rank (e.g. you get 2nd place) feels ok to us normally. Yet I know some groups would be horrified at that.

What if you are in last place and have no hope of improving your rank? That's a painful position: is it ok to throw the game just to end your misery? That's seems to be a grayer area! I think most of us feel that it would be a little vulgar to arbitrarily hand victory to one player out of the blue just to end the game, i.e. it's frustrating to other players for one of them to basically win by arbitrary fiat. But it might be more reasonable to avoid stopping someone from winning if you were in that situation.

Meta Party Game

Dan was the Meta Devil. Here is the Meta Party Game he mailed out:
Ahoy Matey! Tonight we salute Pirates and their important role in games and history. ARGH!

Those who play and end the night with the most gold dubloons shall be elected next week's captain. Those who do not play shall receive the lash, rickets, and scurvy and their teeth shall fall out. So don't be landlubbers. Put your backs into it and heave! ARGH!

1) All who play a game about pirates or with a pirate in it shall receive one gold dubloon. Thieves, robbers, highwaymen, sports teams, and other landlubbers do not count. ARGH!

2) All who play a game and do not win and say "ARGH!", or those who win and say some such pirate curse as "DOWN TO DAVY JONES' LOCKER WITH YOU!" or "LOOKS LIKE I'VE KEEL-HAULED YOU!" shall receive one gold dubloon. ARGH!

3) All who come sporting an eye-patch, a tri-corner hat, flint-lock, bare feet and rolled-up pants, or other pirate regalia shall receive one gold dubloon. ARGH!

4) All who drink grog (for the game any beverage will do) in the following manner shall receive one gold dubloon: a) Precede the drinking by saying: "I SPY A MIGHTY FINE CUP OF GROG.", b) Drink the cup off in one gulping, and c) Endeth the drinking by saying: "THAT WAR A MIGHTY FINE CUP OF GROG." ARGH!

5) All scoring for the game shall be recorded in the ship's log, a.k.a. "THE BOOK." If it is not in the log, it did not happen. ARGH!

Dan, Daniel, Whendy, sported spiffy pirate garb -- and I had some makeshift piratical apparel. We 4 also earned grog points. For some reason everyone mostly forgot about Method #2 of earning points, or at least forgot to record them in the Ship's Log (except for 2 games); or maybe we're just polite pirates.

I also have been noticing lately there are 2 kinds of people: those who think pirates say "ARRH!" and those who think pirates say "ARGH!" It's a question I've discussed with coworkers, and now it arose at RussCon. Dan is an ARGH-supporter, while Daniel and I advocate ARRH!

Thanks to Daniel for bringing the cute action figures, and Dan for the eye patches!

The final booty was divvied up and Whendy & I tied with the most gold dubloons... since she had better pirate garb, I'll walk the plank and let her design next week's Meta Game! Arrrrh!

Evening's Soundtrack

Pirate Jenny, Never-Sea Land
Nina Simone, Jazz Masters 17
Kurt Weill, The Threepenny Opera
Marianne Faithfull, The Seven Deadly Sins
The Young Gods, play Kurt Weill

Pirate Jenny! The first CD is an obscure band named Pirate Jenny, and the rest all have a version of the song "Pirate Jenny" from Threepenny Opera. Longtime friends may recall the special significance that song has for me. One day the Black Freighter will sail again...


Rank ratings:
 1.0000 Deborah (2 games played)   
 0.7000 Daniel (3)
 0.6154 JonathanC (4)
 0.5714 JP (4)
 0.5455 Allen (4)
 0.2500 Matt (3)
 0.2000 Marty (2)
 0.1538 RussW (5)
 0.1000 RussD (3)
 0.0000 Clay (2)
-0.1250 Dan (3)
-0.1429 MarkH (3)
-0.1429 Steve (4)
-0.1429 Whendy (3)
-0.4000 MarkY (2)
-0.4167 Tim (4)
-0.4545 Clayton (3)
-0.5000 Dudley (5)
-0.5000 Sarah (3)
-0.5455 William (4)
-0.8000 JeffF (2)
New Win ratings:
 1.0000 Deborah (2)
 0.7143 JP (4)
 0.6364 Allen (4)
 0.5000 Daniel (3)
 0.3077 JonathanC (4)
 0.1429 MarkH (3)
 0.1250 Matt (3)
 0.0769 RussW (5)
 0.0000 RussD (3)
-0.2000 Marty (2)
-0.2000 MarkY (2)
-0.2143 Dudley (5)
-0.2727 Clayton (3)
-0.2727 William (4)
-0.2857 Steve (4)
-0.3000 Sarah (3)
-0.3333 Clay (2)
-0.3333 Tim (4)
-0.3750 Dan (3)
-0.4286 Whendy (3)
-0.6000 JeffF (2)

Deborah is the Devil! JP is Vice-Devil. Daniel is Vice-Vice-Devil. Then Sea Biscuit, then Allen.


Recent PVP strips spoof alternative comics and then have have pirate vs ninja action

Daryl Cagle collects themed sets of editorial cartoons.

Shiny mud balls

where do they keep the captain's log?
on the poop deck!