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2004-04-21 RussCon Report
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14 of us played 11 games.
The big news this week is that Daniel is back from Iraq! One of the first questions most of us asked is whether he is back for good; luckily the answer is yes (as far as he knows - of course one is never sure if the government will send him back), so hopefully he will be a RussCon regular again and regale folks with his stories. I don't want to steal his thunder, so I'll just say that he has some rather interesting surreal anecdotes to tell about his ridiculously long time spent over there, including meeting some key figures in the conflict. Welcome back Daniel, it is good to hang out with you again!
Our Most Assiduous Reader may have noticed that I've started playing with digitally signing my email. I'll see how it goes and whether this really seems ready for primetime or not.
|ArkOfTheCovenant||4||JP 3 Clayton 1 RussW -1 MarkH -3|
|Guillotine||2||Fina 1 MarkY -1|
|Transamerica||3||JP 2 Fina 0 Clayton -2|
|RicochetRobot||4||MarkH 3 MarkY -1 Ben -1 RussW -1|
|Exxtra||4||RussW 3 MarkH 1 Ben -1 MarkY -3|
|ArkOfTheCovenant||3||Marty 2 KevinU 0 Whendy -2|
|PuertoRico||4||Fina 3 Daniel 1 JP -1 Clayton -3|
|Mu||5||Daniel 4 Whendy 2 KevinU 0 Marty -2 Ben -4|
|Bluff||8||JP 7 KevinU 5 Daniel 3 William 1 RussW -1 Clayton -3 Whendy -5 Fina -7|
|WhatsThatOnMyHead||4||Jeffles 2 Ben 2 MarkY -1 Matt -3|
|RicochetRobot||6||Jeffles 5 RussW 3 MarkY 0 KevinU 0 Ben -3 Matt -5|
It's kind of weird (after years of avoiding the game), but I enjoyed Ricochet Robot enough last week that I wanted to play it twice tonight. And I even finally got to play against Jeffles in the second game of the evening. Jeffles is apparently considered one of the masters (along with Tim), and I came in second - almost tying Jeffles, woot! During the first game this evening, MarkH pointed out that we were playing wrong. (Or more properly, I'll say "wrong", with finger-quotie-marks.) The RussCon tradition for the game (so I was taught by Ben and others last week) is that when 2 people call out the same bid, the first caller gets to attempt the route first, which seems reasonable, since the point of the game is finding good routes quickly. But in the rules as written, it is quite different: "In case of equal bids, the player who is behind in the game (has the fewer chips) has precedence." (They don't specify what should happen with ties.) So we played that way, and it sucks! It encourages you to not bother calling out a bid if you are ahead, until the very last second of the timer, because then if another player figures out the route, they'll just get to do it before you. (There is a clear psychological phenomenon that when you know something is possible, you become more likely to find it.) It also led to silliness like MarkY immediately calling out "one hundred" just to start the timer. Most importantly, it devalues skill and equalizes everyone, continuing nudging the trailing players to higher scores to catch up. We literally ended with a 4-way tie, all 4 of us having 4 chips, and the final 17th chip totally determined the winner. Most of us agreed this was lame. So we're going to continue with the other system, which rewards people for finding routes quickly, which does seem the point of the game, after all. (And in case 2 players call a bid at the same time, then we'll let the losing player have precedence.)
Whenever I discover that we have been playing a game "wrong" (i.e. not following the rules; in this case, I'd argue that the Ricochet Robot rules were wrong themselves), I read the rules to see what else might have been overlooked. In the case of Ricochet Robot, it appears we didn't mess up anything else; however there are some weird things in the rules. For instance:
I found ricochetrobot.com as well as another online Ricochet Robot Training Page and Ricochet Robot Challenge. (Can you tell I'm into this game now?) I encourage folks who feel intimidated by the game to give it another shot, since I too used to feel intimidated but now I think it's cool. (One curious thing about RicochetRobot is that people can join after the game started or drop out before the end, without really messing up the game. E.g. in tonight's second game Matt played briefly then quit. The tradition seems to be to record such partial players in The Book.)
More rules violations occurred in Ark of the Covenant when Marty told Kevin and Wendy that you earn 9 points for a completed temple, and 5 for an incomplete one, and that scrolls on a city tile add 2 points (before doubling a completed city and to an incomplete city at game end), and that you can move the Ark 6 spaces! That was a high score inflation game! (Temples actually earn 7 or 3 points, scrolls are 1, and you can move the Ark 5 spaces.) Never trust Marty on rules - he's a madman, out of control, I tell you!
He Zhan-Hao, Selected Orchestral Works
Rongchun Zhao, Master of the Erhu
some chinese pop music Jay gave me a long time ago which has no printed English identification
Wu-Tang Clan, Wu-Tang Forever
Chinese music! Ok, Wu-Tang Clan is stretching it, I admit.
tiu saĝas, kiu movas la robotojn bone