September 4 2002 RussCon Report

game of oware

Game Results
Meta Game Results
Evening's Soundtrack
Ratings | FAQ
24 of us played 17 games. Quite a crowd again.
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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.


Silent movies with live music and an Al Stewart concert coming up... it's a busy week:

Game Results

Tichu2( Ben William ) 1 ( JimG Clay ) -1
Tichu2( William Clay ) 1 ( Ben JimG ) -1
Ursuppe3JeffF 2 Steve 0 Zack -2
Vampire4Fina 2 MarkY 2 JonathanC -1 Marty -3
PuertoRico5MarkH 4 RussW 2 Dan 0 Whendy -2 Kara -4
PuertoRico5JP 4 Matt 2 BobR 0 Daniel -2 Amanda -4
Hare&Tortoise4JimG 3 Ben 1 William -1 MarkY -3
Carcassonne5JP 4 Clayton 2 RussW 0 Steve -2 Jason -4
PrincesOfFlorence4JonathanC 3 Fina 1 Zack -1 JeffF -3
FactsInFive4Zack 3 JeffF 1 Fina -3 RussD -1
ShowManager3MarkY 2 JimG 0 William -2
Chinatown4Daniel 3 Matt 1 BobR -2 Amanda -2
Tichu2( MarkH Whendy ) 1 ( Dan Ben ) -1
Pizarro&Co4JP 3 Zack 1 Steve -1 JeffF -3
ZirkusFlohcati3JP 2 Zack 0 MarkY -2
Can'tStop3Zack 2 MarkY -1 JP -1
Drakon4JonathanC 3 RussW 0 Fina 0 Jason -3

As most people know, Puerto Rico is the hot new RussCon game. I enjoyed playing it a third time and look forward to more of it. In some ways it is analogous to Princes of Florence: both are mostly-deterministic multi-player building games with a historical theme and a nifty variety of types of actions to do in a turn, with the notion of my choosing an action preventing you doing it that round (at least for the auctions in Princes of Florence). But I think Puerto Rico is better: Princes of Florence seems to have a problem that whoever builds the most works will obviously almost certainly run away with the game (at least that's how it was in the multiple times I played it), whereas Puerto Rico doesn't seem to have such a simple clear winning strategy.

It was a nostalgia trip seeing Chinatown played again (it's only been played once at RussCon, over 3 years ago!).

Pizarro & Co is a new one to RussCon. All I know about it is that Sea Biscuit preferred to play Drakon and said Pizarro & Co is ok but not great.

Our Drakon game ended up taking unexpectedly long: since I bought the expansion set, the games seemed shorter, but this one took over 2 hours. Part of that may have been due to getting interrupted several times due to the meta game of course...

Matt also brought a very nice looking Awari/Mancala set from Ghana, but it didn't get played. Next week we should play it.

Meta Game

I was the Meta Devil. Here is the preliminary survey to the Meta Game I mailed out:
Loosely inspired by the TV game show Family Feud, and the ArmadilloCon variant Fannish Feud...

We'll have a Meta Game this week which depends on previously-answered survey questions, and the preliminary survey needed for the Meta Game is at the end of this email. If you're a busy person and don't want to read a lot of explanatory crap, all you need to do is hit reply (to me individually, NOT to the list) and give me 2 answers off the top of your head to each question at the end of this email, whether or not you are coming this week and whether or not you want to play the Meta Game. It should take just a few minutes of your time, thanks!


If you're still reading, that means you want all the boring rules lawyerly details, so here you go... I need the help of everyone on the RussCon mailing list: whether or not you are coming to RussCon this week, please reply to me privately (not the list) and provide answers to the following questions. Note THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS -- I want you to tell me the first plausible answers that pop into your mind, not carefully considered or researched answers. Please don't agonize, just reply with the first answers that occur to you off the top of your head. Don't go researching back issues of the RussCon Report or other such nonsense! The point is simply to get your initial gut reaction. And if you feel the need to ask me for clarification on a question, you're agonizing too much. :)

No individual's answers to these questions will be revealed. (Though I will later reveal the aggregate data, since it will hopefully be interesting and fun!) You're not "at risk" of being the Meta Devil if you answer the survey. Hell, you can send me your answers anonymously if you're paranoid, I don't mind. (But each person only send one set of answers, please. And please don't change your mind and send me a "corrected" set of answers.) This is simply to provide some fun raw aggregate data which will be used for the actual Meta Game this coming Wednesday. If you can't think of 2 answers for a given category, then give 1 or 0 answers for that question; that's ok. If you're stuck on a question, just move on; I don't want anyone to have to spend a lot of time on this. Some data is better than no data.

A followup email will explain the Meta Game itself which will be played this week. Please don't let this email languish forgotten in your inbox -- take a few minutes and reply asap. Thank you! The survey questions follow:

Please give me the first 2 answers off the top of your head to the following questions... please answer them in order (since some later questions might influence earlier questions).

Name 2 RussCon games that seem to be very popular lately.

Name 2 popular RussCon games that you personally don't like much.

Name 2 of the most frequently played RussCon games of all time.

Name 2 RussCon games that Russ likes a lot.

Name 2 common physical components used in RussCon games.

Name 2 game designers of RussCon games.

Name 2 game publishers of RussCon games.

Name 2 commercial sources from which you buy RussCon games.

Name 2 other locations you play RussCon-style games besides Russ's house.

Name 2 days of the week besides Wednesday on which you play games.

Name 2 popularly chosen colors for playing pieces.

Name 2 people who show up almost every week at RussCon.

Name 2 people who frequently win their games.

Name 2 people who spend a lot of time agonizing in their games.

Name 2 RussCon train games.

Name 2 RussCon card games.

Name 2 RussCon dice games.

Name 2 RussCon games with animals.

Name 2 2-player RussCon games.

Name 2 Halloween RussCon games.

Name 2 RussCon drinks.

Name 2 RussCon foods.

Name 2 weird or unpopular RussCon foods.

Name 2 foreign countries which RussCon gamers have visited.

Name 2 catch-phrases or cliches uttered a lot at RussCon.

Name or briefly explain/identify 2 fun meta games that have been played at RussCon.

Name 2 music bands that Russ plays a lot at RussCon.

Name 2 genres of music that Russ plays a lot at RussCon.


And here is the Meta Game itself, mailed out a couple days later:
The RussCon Feud Meta Game will proceed as follows:

Unlike Family Feud, this is an individual (not team) game. All participants will get a printed form with the questions. Each time someone wins a game, they may call for a short round of RussCon Feud. (Yes, this will be interruptive and briefly disruptive to games in progress. Tough noogies! If you don't like that, then play long games.) The winner (aka "the active player") will pick one of the not-yet-answered survey questions, and all participants will secretly simultaneously write down 2 answers to that question on their form. We will then score our forms: You earn as many points for an answer as the number of survey respondents who gave that answer. Perhaps merriment and mirth will ensue from some of the answers also.

But wait, there's more! The active player gets a benefit: they may write down 3 answers and earn points for the best 2 out of 3 of them! Thus there is an element of strategy in deciding what question you wish to score when you win a game, and people who win games will have a small but not overwhelming advantage in the Meta Game. To keep the game winners' advantage from being too large, and to prevent abuse (e.g. someone might play 50 quick games of Brawl or Rock Paper Scissors early in the evening, not that I'm naming names!), each player may only initiate a Meta Scoring Round twice in the evening. So probably not all survey questions will get processed. That's ok. I admit some of them are probably lame anyway.

If a game had multiple first-place winners, they each get to choose a question. They can pick the same question (causing a single round) or they might pick different questions. Either way, each active player gets the "2 out of 3" bonus for the question they picked. Yes, this could make a team game like Star Wars Epic Duels interesting: maybe 3 or 4 different survey questions would get processed at once.

If we actually use up all the questions, or all participants have been active players twice, then the Meta Game is over. Otherwise it's over after the last game is finished (and the winner initiated a final Meta Round if they wish). High score wins. If there's a tie, it will be broken in favor of whoever replied soonest to the survey. Further ties broken randomly.

Obviously, I am seeing all the survey data in advance (and having to make some quasi-subjective decisions about how to sort similar but not identical answers), I am not playing this meta game and will just be your friendly host and referee.

Thanks to survey respondents so far; in alphabetical order they are: Alfred Ben BobR BradS Brady Clay Clayton Dan Daniel JP Jason JeffF Jeffles MarkY Marty PJ Sea Biscuit TimG Whendy William

Whether you plan to play the Meta Game or not, I encourage you to reply to the survey if you haven't already. The more data, the better!

This proved to be a popular meta game: even staunch anti-meta-gamers like William and Ben were filling out their forms. 21 out of 28 questions were asked. The interruptive nature seemed not to be a serious problem. Indeed, in the first part of the evening (which was most crowded) we happened to be playing long games like Puerto Rico so few rounds were triggered. Naturally the people who were around for the longest got to participate in more rounds and thus score a higher expected score. Late in the evening when JP won a 3rd game, it was argued that a winner should be able to trigger a round after they'd triggered 2, they just shouldn't get the benefit of writing 3 answers, and that seemed reasonable to me so I went with it.

A few interesting results from the survey:

  1. The games that I like a lot were mostly accurate, except for Empire Builder and Tichu.
  2. One game designer answer was simply "Allan" -- I didn't know who this meant (Alan Moon?); turns out the perpetrator meant Allen Varney.
  3. Milton Bradley was given as a game designer.
  4. Reiner Knizia was given as a publisher.
  5. The top commercial source was Dragon's Lair (18) followed by Great Hall (14). Yet Great Hall was one of the first place (15) places to play games (along with Marty's house) while Dragon's Lair was only answered once. <preach>So I suggest people be more conscious to support Great Hall by buying stuff there since it's such a popular and good place to play games.</preach>
  6. JP (20) is perceived as showing up more often than me (17) to RussCon.
  7. Daniel (14) wins the most games, but JeffF (7) is also "a f*&^$%@ Russcon game God!"
  8. JP (21) was of course the overwhelming agonizer (and more than one person listed JP twice as both their answers, though I only counted that as one answer)!
  9. The train game question did get one answer of Uncle Happy's Train Game!
  10. The dice game question got one answer of Cosmic Coasters (which uses no dice).
  11. Dr. Pepper and Fresca are of course the major RussCon drinks.
  12. Many people remember the weird foods Chamoy Pulpa ("Ack... I can still taste that damn green crap") and Sea Biscuit (though not necessarily by name).
  13. William's name was invoked several times in the weird/unpopular food question.
  14. A large number of people gave England and France as their 2 foreign countries (perhaps due to the children's rhyhme "I see England, I see France, I see Jeffles's underpants"...?) Other countries included Paris and California.
  15. There are a surprisingly large number of RussCon catch-phrases. I was gratified to see "poop" took third place with 3 votes. "Go red bear!" was 1st place with 5 votes.
  16. I play lots of Celtic (12), rock (8) and soundtracks (5); this is true, but only one person perceptively noted "heavy girl rock".
  17. Ennio Morricone is a musical genre unto himself. I can respect that.
If you want more details, see my referee's cheat sheet.

Here are the results:

431 Zack
419 Sea Biscuit
403 Fina
394 JeffF
383 William
366 Dan & Daniel
360 Matt
347 BobR
343 MarkH
312 Ben
300 Whendy
289 JimG
164 Kara
131 Clay
...and at least one unsigned untallied sheet.

So Zack is the Meta Devil and will design next week's Meta Game!

And special thanks to the numerous survey respondents: myself, Daniel, Clayton, JeffF, MarkY, Brady, Dan, Marty, BradS, Jason, Whendy, Jeffles, Alfred, Clay, JP, Sea Biscuit, TimG, BobR, PJ, Ben, William, RussD, JimG, Tim, Fina, MarkH, Dudley, DaveB, Matt, Kara... we're all winners, really! Even if some of you did say some weird dumbass shit.

Evening's Soundtrack

The Legends, Yaw Dwene*, Yaa Adusa Pokuaa
Rex Omar, Fa
Maa Amanua and Suku Troupe, Classic Ga Songs
Daddy Lumba, Aben Wo Aha
Daddy Lumba, Wo Ho Kyere

CDs Matt brought back from Ghana! Thanks for loaning them to RussCon!

*The last 'e' in Dwene is actually some funky backwards '3' symbol that I don't know what the heck it is. It's a Ghana thing; I wouldn't understand.

An update, courtesy of Matt:

It's actually a Greek epsilon, used to denote a vowel sound in the Ghanaian language Twi. It sounds like "eh", as in the "e" in "get". The regular "e" sounds like "ay", as in "way". Also, the "dw" is pronounce "jw".

So "Dwene" is pronounced "jway-neh".

I have no idea what it means. :)

Also, here's a link that has the whole Twi alphabet and a pronunciation guide:

All about Ghana (Language)


New Multiplicative Rank Ratings:   
 5.2983 200.0000 JP (5)
 2.3671 10.6667 JonathanC (3)
 2.3026 10.0000 MarkH (2)
 1.3863 4.0000 Zack (6)
 1.0986 3.0000 Matt (2)
 0.6931 2.0000 Daniel (2)
 0.6931 2.0000 Fina (4)
 0.6931 2.0000 Clayton (1)
 0.6931 2.0000 RussW (3)
 0.0000 1.0000 Whendy (2)
 0.0000 1.0000 Clay (2)
 0.0000 1.0000 JimG (4)
-0.1178 0.8889 William (4)
-0.2877 0.7500 Ben (4)
-0.6931 0.5000 BobR (2)
-0.6931 0.5000 Dan (2)
-1.0986 0.3333 MarkY (5)
-1.0986 0.3333 Steve (3)
-1.2685 0.2813 JeffF (4)
-1.3863 0.2500 RussD (1)
-1.3863 0.2500 Marty (1)
-1.6094 0.2000 Kara (1)
-2.3026 0.1000 Amanda (2)
-2.9957 0.0500 Jason (2)
New Multiplicative Win Ratings:
 5.2983 200.0000 JP won 4 of 5
 2.3026 10.0000 MarkH won 2 of 2
 2.0794 8.0000 JonathanC won 2 of 3
 1.1632 3.2000 Daniel won 1 of 2
 1.0986 3.0000 Zack won 2 of 6
 0.6931 2.0000 William won 2 of 4
 0.6931 2.0000 MarkY won 2 of 5
 0.4700 1.6000 Whendy won 1 of 2
 0.2356 1.2656 JeffF won 1 of 4
 0.0000 1.0000 Clay won 1 of 2
-0.1699 0.8438 Fina won 1 of 4
-0.2231 0.8000 Clayton won 0 of 1
-0.2231 0.8000 Kara won 0 of 1
-0.2877 0.7500 RussD won 0 of 1
-0.4055 0.6667 JimG won 1 of 4
-0.5108 0.6000 Matt won 0 of 2
-0.5108 0.6000 BobR won 0 of 2
-0.5108 0.6000 Amanda won 0 of 2
-0.5108 0.6000 Jason won 0 of 2
-0.6931 0.5000 Marty won 0 of 1
-0.7340 0.4800 RussW won 0 of 3
-0.9163 0.4000 Dan won 0 of 2
-0.9163 0.4000 Steve won 0 of 3
-0.9808 0.3750 Ben won 1 of 4

JP is the Devil! Sea Biscuit is Vice-Devil. MarkH is Vice-Vice-Devil. Zack is Vice-Vice-Vice-Devil. Clay wins the Extra Average Award.


You are urged to view last Monday's Comicollage by Matt Roberts, just because I think it rules.

A Plan For Spam: fascinating web page by Paul Graham with a Bayesian approach to spam recognition.

News story about electronic gaming being banned in Greece, even online chess (and I would assume online go) and the little games that come with Windows. A website has been set up by Greek gamers to fight this apparently absurd law.

Mouse pad couch

Scale armor shirt partially completed by Dan

Ass Cleaner

Grope-a-Clown Box

Tales of the Plush Cthulhu

Here's the PRIMES is in P paper that has the crypto community abuzz. "The ultimate goal of this line of research is, of course, to obtain an unconditional deterministic polynomial-time algorithm for primality testing. Despite the impressive progress made in primality testing so far, this goal has remained elusive. In this paper, we achieve this." I don't pretend to understand the math involved.

How meta: 'Family Feud' on cell phones

A coworker's aunt made a doll of the Vampire Lestat. I told her these could probably be sold at sf cons.

I don't watch the Simpsons, but a psychotic Simpsons fan keeps email stalking me to link to this Simpsons site.

Valid HTML 4.01!survey says...