August 14 2002 RussCon Report

the tim & sarah box

Game Results
Meta Game Results
Evening's Soundtrack
Ratings | FAQ
15 of us played 10 games.
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Comicollage: daily ongoing comic jam with 7 artists and no planning ahead! There's a russ strip every Tuesday.
I make exquisite corpses at deepmachines.


Some of us had a great time at the Go Congress (which as you know is the best week of the year). It was my sixth Congress, and my first one not to win anything. I've won the kyu division of the 13x13 tournament twice before, and had a shot this year: we divide into groups of 6 and play round robin style at each table. I won my first 3 games, as did JP who was at my table, then he and I faced each other in the 4th round (which would determine the winner of our table), but he beat me by 3 points (then didn't even have the good graces to go on and win the finals). I tried lightning go for the first time this year also (19x19, each player gets just 10 minutes and no overtime) and to my surprise won my first 3 rounds, then faced Glenn Peters who had won his first 3 as well, and in a strange twist of deja vu Glenn also beat me by just 3 points! Meanwhile I was trying to beat a large number of players of various ranks in the ongoing self-paired tournament to win the Straight Shooter (which I'd won twice in previous years) and had a decent run of ranks I'd defeated but a gap at 3-kyu. No problem, think I, for there are plenty of 3-kyus. I played 4 of them and lost to them all, the last game by just half a point! So 3 was not my lucky number this year. JP won 2nd place in the 6-kyu band of the US Open and also the Champion (greatest wins minus losses) in the self-paired; JeffS won the Faithful (smallest change in rating) in the self-paired. Our go-song-writing pal from Dallas, Bob Felice, won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the song competition this year, an unprecedented feat. If you don't grok the concept of go songs, ask me & JP to sing Bob's Talking Heads songs sometime. And we Austin folks are excited because next year's Congress will be in Houston, woohoo! I vow to have a go AI (however stupidly it plays) at next year's congress. And to have written a go song. There it is, in print, so taunt me if I don't!

Gaaaah! First Edsger Dijkstra dies, then Kristen Nygaard! I never had direct contact with Nygaard or the Simula language (from which C++ borrowed a lot of object-oriented concepts), but the OO paradigm certainly has affected my life as a software engineer.

Finally: ArmadilloCon, Austin's annual SF con, is THIS WEEKEND! Several RussCon folks will be attending, including Jay visiting from Oregon. I expect to be there at least on Saturday if not more. Artist guests are Scott Kurtz who does the popular webcomic Player vs Player and Frank Cho.

Game Results

Fluxx5Steve 4 RussD -1 RussW -1 JamesK -1 Fina -1
GhostParty2Fina 1 JamesK -1
PuertoRico5Daniel 4 JP 2 Dan 0 MarkH -2 Whendy -4
Babel2JeffF 1 Clayton -1
Drakon6RussD 5 JonathanC 2 William 2 JimG -2 Steve -2 RussW -5
Can'tStop3William 2 JonathanC 0 JimG -2
Carcassonne4Steve 3 RussD 1 RussW -1 JeffF -3
PigPile4JP 3 Daniel 1 MarkH -2 Dan -2
WebOfPower4JP 3 JeffF 1 Steve -1 RussW -3
Settlers3RussW 2 JeffF -1 JP -1

I had actually never played Fluxx before now. I found it to be enjoyably silly.

Drakon played out differently again, this time with 6 of us huddling together as one party for a long time, and things seemed to be progressing very slowly, until a double coin tile caused a great rush to that end of the board. Eventually I found myself off alone, to my detriment, while most of the players circulated in an area of mind control, steal left, and double coin tiles. I ended the game with only 1 coin.

I continued my poor streak through Carcassonne and Web Of Power, then finally won Settlers via an early sheep port and grain port, with lots of sheep and grain production. I also lost a couple of black road segments when they flew out of my hand during some silly fiddling about, darn it. Or maybe the set only had 13 left and they were already missing. Annoying, either way.

Whendy informs me:

I just wanted you to know, for the RussCon report, that Daniel really did come up with a rare and dangerous triple-meaning pun last night during the Puerto Rico game. We didn't have a (blue) Indigo-product game piece, so we used a red die as a stand-in. He said some joke about "killing the Indigo" product that made sense on 3 levels because we were using that piece, and we all groaned. He threatened us that he'd self-promote on that for quite awhile, so that's what this meant in his email:
Die Indigo, Dye Indigo, (the) Die (representing) Indigo

For some reason people left pretty early, by the way, and by 11:15 it was only me, JP, and JeffF left! Very odd indeed.

Meta Game

I was the Meta Devil. Here is the Meta Game I mailed out:
Tim and Sarah recently suffered the bummer yuckiness of losing their home and most of their stuff in a fire, so this week's meta game is a little different and will raise some money to help them out as they settle into their new place.

Meta game players should bring some cash. I will have a deck of playing cards to use as a set of raffle tickets and a pot to put payment into -- buy your first card for any positive integer number of dollars you like ($1, $2, $10, whatever), and additional cards for $10 each. Later in the evening, probably around 10pm or so, we'll pick a winning card from another deck which, and whoever holds the matching card from the raffle deck is next week's Meta Devil. (If the card drawn isn't claimed by anyone present, then we'll keep drawing. Thus the Meta Devil must be present to win.)

Folks who don't want to be Meta Devil are of course allowed to put money in and not take any cards, or to not identify themselves if their card is called (if they're wishy washy and decide at the last minute they don't want to be Meta Devil!) Folks who want to make semi-anonymous donations are of course allowed to put money in privately and take the appropriate number of cards, i.e. no one but you needs to know how many cards you bought.

Designer's notes: The game rules were chosen so that the "first card for whatever you price you want" rule lets anyone participate (e.g. anyone can spare a buck and have a chance to be Meta Devil), while the "additional cards cost $10" rule helps keep the number of physical raffle tickets manageable and seemed a reasonable level of granularity for anyone feeling particularly generous.

I hesitated to do this meta game because this sort of real life situation feels awkward: on the one hand we feel an impulse to help out friends who've suffered a big loss like this, but on the other hand we feel hesitant to simply directly offer money and unsure what an appropriate amount might be, so providing a playful mechanism to facilitate this seemed like an interesting meta game idea: using an existing RussCon mechanism for a new and nobler purpose. However I couldn't decide if it was a clever and fun idea permitting folks to help Tim & Sarah in whatever capacity they were comfortable doing, or a stupid and tasteless idea trivializing their bad luck. My intent is of course the former. I asked a few people's opinions; no one else was sure either. So I finally mentioned the idea to Tim himself, who was not offended by it and said I should do it if I thought it was good, so there it is. I hope everyone groks the spirit in which it is intended: sort of a gaming geek's version of a community barn-raising or something. :)

The first card drawn to resolve the raffle didn't match anyone's, and the second matched one of mine, so I am again the Meta Devil and will design the Meta Game for August 21.

We raised a good amount of relief money for Tim and Sarah... well, I could make guessing the amount be the meta game for next week, but too many of us already know how much it was ($193). It did occur to me later that a more interesting meta game might have been to guess how much money would be raised that evening (closest guess wins), and each ticket bought permitted you one guess... Anyway, thanks everyone for indulging my unusually meta meta game and helping out our pals Tim & Sarah.

Evening's Soundtrack

Clandestine, The Haunting
Eve's Plum, Envy
The Geraldine Fibbers, Lost Somewhere Between The Earth And My Home
Miranda Sex Garden, Madra
Ennio Morricone, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A somewhat meta soundtrack theme: CDs I have given to friends as gifts. Except I brainfarted and included the wrong Miranda Sex Garden CD. Like anyone would know anyway. Oh well.


New Multiplicative Rank Ratings:      
 3.0603 21.3333 JP (4)
 2.0794 8.0000 Steve (4)
 2.0149 7.5000 Daniel (2)
 1.9741 7.2000 RussD (3)
 1.6094 5.0000 William (2)
 0.5108 1.6667 JonathanC (2)
 0.4700 1.6000 Fina (2)
-0.6931 0.5000 JeffF (4)
-0.6931 0.5000 Dan (2)
-0.6931 0.5000 Clayton (1)
-0.9163 0.4000 JamesK (2)
-1.3863 0.2500 MarkH (2)
-1.6094 0.2000 Whendy (1)
-1.6094 0.2000 JimG (2)
-2.7081 0.0667 RussW (5)
New Multiplicative Win Ratings:
 2.5257 12.5000 Steve won 2 of 4
 2.1440 8.5333 JP won 2 of 4
 1.3218 3.7500 Daniel won 1 of 2
 1.2809 3.6000 RussD won 1 of 3
 0.9163 2.5000 William won 1 of 2
 0.4700 1.6000 Fina won 1 of 2
 0.1178 1.1250 RussW won 1 of 5
-0.2231 0.8000 Whendy won 0 of 1
-0.2877 0.7500 JeffF won 1 of 4
-0.5108 0.6000 Dan won 0 of 2
-0.5108 0.6000 MarkH won 0 of 2
-0.5878 0.5556 JonathanC won 0 of 2
-0.5878 0.5556 JimG won 0 of 2
-0.6931 0.5000 Clayton won 0 of 1
-0.9163 0.4000 JamesK won 0 of 2

JP & Steve are Co-Devils! (Steve has lately been dismayed and surprised that he is Devil so frequently, so perhaps JP will share the burden with him.) Daniel is Vice-Devil. RussD is Vice-Vice-Devil. William is Vice-Vice-Vice-Devil.


One Hundred Albums You Should Remove from Your Collection Immediately is a list which has a large overlap with my own collection:

I'll have to especially bitterly disagree with them about the U2, Beatles, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, and Pink Floyd albums. Well, and also The Who and The Doors. The crazy bastards. What are they thinking? I'd make next week's Meta Game be "Whoever owns the most albums on this list wins", but that would probably give me an unfair advantage.

Bruce Sterling (who will be at ArmadilloCon this weekend) rants about open source software and myriad other issues.

Secret Fun Spot has retro-culture fun.

Improbable wedding announcments

Trucknutz are the ultimate truck accessory for the sophisticated motorist.

The Poopie List is an oldie but goodie.

i should be cryogenically frozen and thawed out for one week each year for the go congress