April 2 2003 RussCon Report

political cartoon by gary brookins
(political cartoon by Gary Brookins)
Game Results
Ratings | FAQ
Meta Game Results
Dan's Meta Meta Game Results
Evening's Soundtrack
23 of us played 15 games. Welcome new person Helen. (Helen is only the 2nd RussCon name to start with H. Since JP donated his New Zealand stamps to me, if someone wants a New Zealand 40c Gandalf and Saruman stamp, I'll pass it along to the first person to email me correctly identifying the other RussCon H name. Wow, I feel like Monty Hall!)
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Comicollage: daily ongoing comic jam with 7 artists and no planning ahead! There's a russ strip every Tuesday.
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There will be another Austin peace rally and march on Saturday April 5.

Also: Sunday April 6 there will be a performance art sort of protest/demo thingie. The event will take place in the grove of trees on the E side of Lamar, just south of San Gabriel (which is the street South of 29th). It is designed to be seen by the passengers of passing cars. The entire piece will occur over a 5 hour period on Sunday, from 12-5. More info in the email I received about it.

If you're going to Houston this weekend, Houston Go Club will be hosting a go event in Houston this weekend as part of the Japan Festival in Hermann Park. And there is the upcoming April 26 Houston tournament.

Reminder that Allen will be hosting a big birthday party at his place April 12 from 2pm onward. I encourage you to go because it should be fun, and so I can atone for saying terrible cruel vile things about Istanbul!

As mentioned in last week's RussCon Report, there are occasional problems with the russcon mailing list (with mail being delayed or lost). Plus it's hosted by Marty's friends at cws.org and Marty will be moving away soon. So I'm considering moving the mailing list to yahoogroups. I am on many yahoogroups mailing lists (for webcomics, software, games, etc.) and personally am happy with them. The benefits we would gain include:

The drawbacks are that emails have an advertisement appended, and that it might be a brief hassle for you getting set up if you're not already on any yahoogroups lists (I'm not sure whether it's a hassle now or not). If I make this move, I should be able to move all the existing email addresses over to yahoo, so in theory it should be pretty simple and transparent. Possibly the only real change from your point of view would be that to post messages to the russcon list, you would email them to a different email address.

So far I've heard one "yes" vote, with a question about whether the russcon message archives would be private on yahoogroups. (Yes, they would.) Anyone else have question or concerns? If not I will probably do the changeover sometime in the next week or so.

Game Results

Blokus4JonathanC 3 RussW 1 Allen -1 Fina -3
Tichu2( MarkH Ben ) 1 ( JimG TimG ) -1
Entdecker3Carly 2 JeffF 0 JP -2
Hive2MarkG 1 Helen -1
Tichu2( Whendy Steve ) 1 ( Dan Fred ) -1
Exxtra6Ben 5 MarkH 3 JimG 1 MarkY -1 William -3 TimG -5
Evo3Helen 2 MarkG 0 Justin -2
Tichu2( JeffF JP ) 1 ( Ben MarkY ) -1
Settlers6William 5 Steve 3 MarkH 1 Carly -2 JimG -2 Fred -5
Istanbul5( Allen PJ ) 4 Clayton 2 Fina 0 RussW -2 JonathanC -4
ZirkusFlohcati5Carly 4 William 2 MarkY 0 RussD -2 Steve -4
WebOfPower4RussW 3 RussD 1 Carly -1 Steve -3
Guillotine5Carly 4 Steve 2 MarkY 0 RussW -2 RussD -4
Blokus4JP 3 RussW 1 Justin -1 RussD -3
Ra4JP 3 MarkG 1 Helen -1 Justin -3

We got to introduce more folks (Allen and Justin) to the wonderful game Blokus. Yay. This really is a brilliant elegant fast abstract strategy game.

Istanbul is Allen and PJ's homebrew game, last played 2001-10-03. This playtest session saw improved spiffy prototype components, but it played slowly (about 2.5 hours; Allen was expecting it to be 1 hour) and we had various rules confusions/ambiguities/uncertainties. Hopefully we gave useful feedback! Having pondered it some more, here's my personal take on Istanbul: I felt too much at the mercy of the cards (including some very powerful special effect cards) and didn't have enough control or ability to make long term plans; I felt I was always just reacting to the immediate situation and cards I was dealt. I enjoy that in a short fast simple game like Guillotine, but it's not good for 2.5 hours. The theme is building monuments in Turkey that may last from ancient times to modern times, through a dozen eras of invaders who often ruin a lot of monuments. I think building things is enjoyable and emotionally satisfying for many players, and it's a good game theme. But the monuments are very fragile as the game stands, and it's hard to build many, and it becomes increasingly cost-ineffective to rebuild them, so instead of satisfaction at a collection of long-standing monuments, you mostly have a frustration as your monuments keep getting destroyed. (Having a much larger number of build chits available in each era could help these issues a lot.) Any monument with colored cards in it seemed very likely to be doomed, so the only clear way to have a chance of an ancient monument surviving till the end (and thus scoring big points) is to build it with white cards, and it's pure luck whether you get any of those early on. And even then you need a special museum card to keep opponents from adding a colored card "improvement" to your monument. Poor Sea Biscuit spent several turns with no monuments at all. There are a lot of special bits of rules chrome that seemed to never come into play, or that didn't seem to add play value in proportion to the additional rules complexity generated. E.g. practically no trading or use of "licenses" (special effect of some monument cards) occurred or taking a card from a neighbor monument. A game it reminds me of is Credo, another historically themed game with a fundamentally appealing theme and core idea and lots of cards, but a variety of weird special (and occasionally unclear) rules and lengthy game play and a feeling of just reacting to the cards you are dealt. (Take all this critique with a grain of salt as Allen and I have different tastes as to the balance of simplicity vs chrome and pure gameplay vs simulation.) Istanbul's basic theme and core gameplay ideas seem sound and interesting to me. Having the final wave of invaders be modern tourists is a cute touch. I personally feel like there could be a simple elegant game struggling to emerge, but that's my bias.

Dropping one advisor in Italien during my last turn earned me 12 points and victory in Web of Power. Woot!


New Multiplicative Rank Ratings:   
 3.4012 30.0000 Carly (5)
 2.3671 10.6667 JP (4)
 1.8971 6.6667 MarkH (3)
 1.7918 6.0000 Ben (3)
 1.6094 5.0000 PJ (1)
 1.5686 4.8000 William (3)
 1.2040 3.3333 Allen (2)
 1.0986 3.0000 MarkG (3)
 0.8109 2.2500 RussW (5)
 0.6931 2.0000 Whendy (1)
 0.6931 2.0000 JeffF (2)
 0.6931 2.0000 Clayton (1)
 0.0000 1.0000 Helen (3)
-0.2231 0.8000 JonathanC (2)
-0.6931 0.5000 Steve (5)
-0.6931 0.5000 Dan (1)
-0.9163 0.4000 JimG (3)
-0.9808 0.3750 MarkY (4)
-1.3863 0.2500 Fina (2)
-2.4849 0.0833 Fred (2)
-2.4849 0.0833 TimG (2)
-2.8904 0.0556 Justin (3)
-3.2834 0.0375 RussD (4)
New Multiplicative Win Ratings:
 3.8475 46.8750 Carly won 3 of 5
 3.0603 21.3333 JP won 3 of 4
 1.7918 6.0000 Ben won 2 of 3
 1.6094 5.0000 PJ won 1 of 1
 1.3863 4.0000 William won 1 of 3
 1.3218 3.7500 Allen won 1 of 2
 1.1632 3.2000 JonathanC won 1 of 2
 0.6931 2.0000 Whendy won 1 of 1
 0.3646 1.4400 RussW won 1 of 5
 0.3285 1.3889 MarkH won 1 of 3
 0.2877 1.3333 JeffF won 1 of 2
 0.1178 1.1250 Helen won 1 of 3
 0.0000 1.0000 MarkG won 1 of 3
-0.2231 0.8000 Clayton won 0 of 1
-0.2231 0.8000 Steve won 1 of 5
-0.5108 0.6000 Fina won 0 of 2
-0.6931 0.5000 Dan won 0 of 1
-0.8755 0.4167 Fred won 0 of 2
-0.8755 0.4167 TimG won 0 of 2
-0.9808 0.3750 Justin won 0 of 3
-1.0217 0.3600 RussD won 0 of 4
-1.0578 0.3472 JimG won 0 of 3
-1.3218 0.2667 MarkY won 0 of 4

Carly is the Devil! JP is the Vice-Devil! MarkH and Ben are Co-Vice-Vice-Devils.

Meta Game

Ben was the Meta Devil. Here is the Meta Game he mailed out:

Politics...you can't get away from it, but at least you can poke fun! The theme of this metagame is political cartooning. Bring some form of original political cartoon to Russcon; we'll use an Australian-type voting system to vote for the most favored cartoon. Whoever submitted the winning entry is the next Metadevil. Multiple entries are acceptable. People who won't be attending Russcon can still submit entries...e-mail them to me at xxxx@xx.xxxxxx.xxx by 4:00pm local time on Wednesday, and I'll print them out and bring them with me to Russcon. The criteria for the cartoon is very broad in both medium and subject:

It can be about anything that is remotely connected to politics, under any of the various definitions of the term -- it can be on the local, national, or global scale and it doesn't have to be about current events.

You can draw your own cartoon (stick figures are acceptable ;-) or grab an image from a magazine or the web and caption it, or make a photo collage, a diorama...let your imagination go wild.

To jumpstart the process, you might want to google for 'political cartoons' on the web; there are some very interesting sites out there.

It should be noted that Dan replied:

Ben wrote:
> Poop...you can't get away from it, but at least you can poke one!

Anyone up for a game of Rate My Poop?

To which Whendy observed:

Ahh, the good old (April Fool's) days... Russ was pretty quiet this April 1st. Well, he did tell me he was moving to New Zealand.

I was indeed pretty lowkey for April 1 this year... or was I? But I digress, and distract attention from Ben's most excellent Meta Game. Political cartoons are a special interest of mine lately. I looked forward to seeing all the politic cartoons people might create. Dan and Whendy have even made comics in the past, which I used as guest strips at KoFC, so I imagined getting a variety of neat political comics I could put up at KoFC if their creators wanted. This would be cool!

Um, but it didn't work out that way. No one but me submitted any comics for the meta game. I feared low participation, but this was ridiculous! Not even Ben made one. So Ben declared me the winner. (Later MarkY went upstairs and printed out a syndicated political cartoon he found on the web. Good cartoon, but I direct your attention to the word "original" in Ben's description. He then "personalized" it by scratching out the author's signature and writing his own in. Mmm-hmm. Yep.) Very sad and disappointing. I shall cry myself to sleep for a week. All that untapped creative potential. If only we could have harnessed it and channeled it for Good.

So I will design next week's Meta Game.

Dan's Meta Meta Game

Dan wrote:

Just when you thought the meta meta game would end, it continues! Just by showing up to RussCon on April 2nd and playing games, you earn the chance to win New Zealand stamps from the Lord of the Rings Two Towers movie. This time 6 sets of 6 stamps will be awarded to 6 lucky winners. An image of the stamp set is shown at http://www.io.com/~beckerdo/other/pictures/TwoTowersSet640.jpg

     40c - Aragorn and Eowyn
     80c - Orc Raider
     90c - Gandalf the White
$1.50 - Frodo Captured
$1.30 - The Easterlings
$2.00 - The Shield Maiden of Rohan

Each game you play a game, you earn a share in a lottery of the 6 stamp sets. Prizes awarded randomly. Once you win you are out of the drawing until everyone has won a set. Act now because this contest lasts for this week only.

This week: Carly, MarkH, MarkY, RussD, RussW, Whendy each win a $6.90 set of Two Towers stamps!

son of
Ben 1 1
Carly 11 1
Clayton 11 1
BradS 1
Fina 1 1 1
Fred 1
JamesK 1
JimG 1 1
JP 1 1 1
Justin 1
MarkG 111 1
MarkH 11 11
MarkY 111
Marty 11
Matt 11
PJ 1
RussD 1 1
RussW 11111 1
Steve 1 1
Tim 1
TimG 111
Whendy 1 1
William 1 1

Thanks again to Dan for moderating this meta meta game and its unexpected sequel! There was a large turnout this week: Dan reports there were 63 virtual lottery tickets here. Congrats to Whendy who only played 1 game this week, but lucked out with 1 of the 6 winning tickets!

Evening's Soundtrack

Chumbawamba, English Rebel Songs 1381-1914
Black 47, Fire of Freedom
Bobby Horton, Homespun Songs of the Union Army
Pink Floyd, The Final Cut
U2, War

Political music.

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