September 24 2003 RussCon Report

Game Results
Ratings | FAQ
Meta Game Results
Evening's Soundtrack
15 of us played 8 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.


chefWhendy has her finger up the butt of a puppet that looks suspiciously like Sea Biscuit, complete with the checkered black and white pants that chef students must wear until they are deemed worthy and the apprentice becomes the master.

We got a surprise visit from Steve, who's on a break from the game developer program at SMU and visiting Austin! That was a fun surprise.

I've also started giving away and selling some stuff... If you are into vinyl records, let me know if you want any of these. If folks want any particular ones you can have 'em, and I'll probably sell the rest to half-price or something. (Anyone know a better place to sell vinyl?) I also have a boxful of old sf magazines for folks to browse through and take any they like. I'm hoping to get a list of books online, but there are a lot of books. Ditto games.

I've officially quit making entries at my locally hosted movabletype blogs and am just using livejournal now. I'm pretty pleased with its features; the only downside is occasional server slowness or downtime (since the lj model is centrally hosted one is at the mercy of their servers), but those issues never seem to last more than a couple minutes (so far anyway!)

Game Results

Condottiere4MarkG 3 JeffF 0 RussW 0 JimG -3
Tichu2( Ben Whendy ) 1 ( Marty MarkH ) -1
Blokus4RussW 3 MarkG 1 JimG -1 JeffF -3
BalloonCup2MarkG 1 RussW -1
PuertoRico5JP 4 Steve 2 Clayton 0 Jeremy -2 Fred -4
HedgehogsInAHurry5RussD 4 RussW 0 William 0 Steve 0 JP -4
Carcassonne3Clayton 2 Fred 0 Jeremy -2
BalloonCup2MarkG 1 JP -1

Condottiere feels a little broken with the ruleset in my edition. I'm used to it dragging on forever in games with a larger number of players, due to the "gang up on the guy who's about to win" syndrome, so cities would get recaptured and recaptured back and forth. But this game ended in the very first round! Most peculiar. (We also restarted after one aborted game, realizing that the Scarecrow card is probably meant to only let you pick up a mercenary card you'd played earlier in the round, rather than any mercenary card played earlier in the round.) JeffF wrote me later that "I looked at the new rules on boardgamegeek and it appears the only difference is that you can never go to a claimed city. If the board fills without the standard win condition being met, then whoever controls the most cities wins. If there's a tie for that, the tied players draw cards as if starting a round and play one more battle for the win. If there's a tie for that, it's a tie." Wow - cities never being refought over would certainly change things (and eliminate the funny awkward rhetorical question in the rules "After all, is he not the victor?"), making it a bit more of a placement strategy game, and ensure the game can't drag on forever... I'd be up for trying it again with that rule. It still has the problem of being able to be really screwed by being dealt a mediocre hand, but if the whole game doesn't take long, that's not a big problem, I don't think. Plus it has cool pretty art, including a Winter card...

I'd not played Hedgehogs in quite some time, so it was fun to play it again (after needing a rules refresher). It ended up feeling rather luck-based as RussD frequently was stuck on his turn, unable to do an action, yet he ended up winning. But it's cute fun.


Rank Ratings:      
 3.1781 MarkG
 1.6094 RussD
 1.0986 Clayton
 0.6931 Ben
 0.6931 Whendy
 0.6931 RussW
 0.6931 Steve
 0.0000 William
-0.6931 JP
-0.6931 MarkH
-0.6931 Marty
-1.3863 JeffF
-1.6094 Fred
-1.7918 JimG
-1.7918 Jeremy
Win Ratings:
 2.4849 MarkG won 3 of 4
 1.6094 RussD won 1 of 1
 0.8755 Clayton won 1 of 2
 0.6931 Ben won 1 of 1
 0.6931 Whendy won 1 of 1
 0.6931 JP won 1 of 3
 0.1823 RussW won 1 of 4
-0.2231 William won 0 of 1
-0.4463 Steve won 0 of 2
-0.5754 JeffF won 0 of 2
-0.5754 JimG won 0 of 2
-0.6286 Fred won 0 of 2
-0.6286 Jeremy won 0 of 2
-0.6931 MarkH won 0 of 1
-0.6931 Marty won 0 of 1

MarkG is the Devil! RussD is Vice-Devil! Clayton is Vice-Vice-Devil! Ben and Whendy are Co-Vice-Vice-Vice-Devils.

If you are confused how the ratings work, you could peruse the FAQ.

devil graph

Meta Game

I was the Meta Devil. (It should be noted that JeffF sent an entry with 43 correct answers, 1 more than mine, but the email was lost. JeffF said ultimately he didn't care about designing the Meta Game this week so much as wanting the glory though. Thus, I hereby grant him glory!) Here is the Meta Game I mailed out:

We're officially moved from summer into autumn, the favorite season of myself and many other people. So this week's Meta Game is based on the eternal cycle of seasons:

Earn a meta point for every game you play that has the cyclical passage of seasons in it. (It doesn't necessarily have to be 4-step spring/summer/autumn/winter. E.g. summer/winter is ok, but see below - that would only earn a half meta point.) Admittedly this is more common in historical wargames than in RussCon style games, but I'm sure there must be some games that have seasons even though I can't think of any for sure right now...

Earn only a half meta point if the game doesn't include autumn, or if it has seasons but they aren't in a predictable cycle (e.g. if there are random event cards that say "surprise! it's winter!" or something).

Earn a bonus meta point if you email me before this week's RussCon is over and tell my what your favorite season is and why you like it. I'll print any such emails in the RussCon Report.

High score wins. Ties broken by whoever's email I like best. Further ties broken randomly.

I received five eloquent essays concerning the deep personal meaning of seasons to people. In order of my receiving them:

Jeffles (who is apparently running amok in Australia now instead of Paris) wrote:

My favorite is season 5. Glory was the best big bad, and The Body and The Gift were probably the best two episodes.

And it's spring here ;)

BradS wrote:

I like winter, as the nights are long and clear. The length of the nights gives me a lot of data when I am observing at telescopes. Several years ago, as I'd always go to Chile to observe in June and July, I once 'endured' 7 straight summer solstices. And now for Baton Rouge, winter is the time when oppresive heat and humidity will simply be turned pleasant.

MarkG wrote:

In the spring time seed is sown,
In the summer grass is mown;
In the autumn you may reap;
Winter is the time for sleep.

Spring is hope, summer's joy
Spring and summer never cloy
Autumn toil, winter rest
Winter, after all, is best.

Spring and summer pleasure you,
Autumn, aye, and winter too
Every season has its cheer,
Life is lovely all the year!

-W.S Gilbert

Personally spring was my favorite growing up because I like flowers and I don't like temperature extremes, but I grew up in the north-east and that mitigates things. As an adult in the north-east, Autumn brought my favorite folk festivals and the wonderful foliage of northern Pennsylvania. Autumn remained my favorite in Florida because the weather was lovely and there were no tourists or snowbirds. Here in Texas, it's too early to tell, but I'm sure summer is my least favorite season. Autumn is looking pretty nice here too.

Dan wrote:

Dan like summer. Summer good. Day long. Big bright bird burn in sky. Summer warm. Dan like warm. Dan go running. Clan go running. No wear furry shirt in summer. Dan go swimming. Swimming good. Dan swim like fish. Fish good eat. Fish eat good burn over fire. Fire. Fire! FIRE! Fire hot. Hot like big bright bird.

Whendy wrote:

Spring! I've spent 3 years and lots of money working on the landscaping and beds at my house. I like lots of green and riotous color, and Spring is when that shit starts happening again.

As it turns out, russcon-style games with seasons are rarer than I thought. It's easy to find wargames with seasons, but not German-style games... I did at least correctly remember that there is a "Winter" card in Condottiere, so we played a game of it for a half meta point. So MarkG ended up with 1.5 meta points (for the essay and the game) and is the Meta Devil and will design next week's Meta Game!

I'm glad there wasn't a tie so I didn't have to pick a favorite from among all the lovely and inspiring odes to the seasons I received. Statistically, we had: Season 5, winter, unclear (apparently autumn), summer, spring - so all the seasons (including season 5) seem of equal popularity.

Evening's Soundtrack

Wendy Carlos, Sonic Seasonings (disc 2, Fall & Winter)
Marillion, Season's End
Al Stewart, Time Passages
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons
Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of the War of the Worlds (disc 1 with Forever Autumn)

Forever autumn!

And speaking of the War of the Worlds, the 2nd volume of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentleman has finally concluded with the appearance of issue 6! Wow. This 2nd volume was quite different from the 1st volume I thought; darker and more tragic. I liked it. I'll refrain from spoilers.

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