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2004-04-28 RussCon Report

adiaŭ alex randolph

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14 of us played 11 games. Welcome new guy Mike who's part of the Ed/IBM group.

Intermittent visitor Crash reappeared after a bit of an absence, revealing that this would probably be his last RussCon due to imminent relocation to Los Angeles for a new job with Sony. (Miraculously he still retains enthusiasm for computer game development!) I shall miss his occasional appearances, which usually included enjoyably geeky conversations about languages and the history thereof. It was pleasing that this last appearance was no exception, including mention of the letter þ (thorn, apparently still used in Iceland, which enjoyably tied into the movie Seagull's Laughter which I'd just enjoyed at the Dobie) and which was represented by y in early printing, hence the now-kitschy "ye" in phrases like "ye olde shoppe" ("ye" was originally pronounced "the"). Good fun... sorry to see Crash leave Austin.

Latest gross food is "Buffalo Blues" potato chips. Whendy thought they were too spicy hot, but everyone else thought the blue cheese taste of them was godawful - either way, not recommended as a food item.

MarkH's die which he brought back from Japan - got some actual use (for determining first players and such) and perhaps will help everyone learn the symbols for the first 6 numbers... 一 二 三 四 五 六 ...

Our Most Assiduous Reader knows that for the past week I was experimenting with the use of digital email signatures. While theoretically a good idea, this technology still doesn't seem quite ready for prime time and caused some email recipients to have worries, confusions, and hassles; therefore some of you may be pleased to notice that I have quit using it and reverted back to plain old regular insecure email.

adiaŭ alex randolphThere was further discussion and information about Ricochet Robot prompted by last week's Report, which confirmed a robot stopped on a diagonal wall may later move any direction, and that the original German rules didn't have the lame "losing player gets to go first" nonsense.

Ricochet Robot's designer, Alex Randolph, passed away at the age of 81 apparently on the very day of RussCon this week. Several games of Ricochet Robot were played in Randolph's honor this week. (Little did I realize that only a week after drawing the little green robot for last week's Report, I'd write a little elegy for the robot's creator.) Alex Randolph created many games over the years, including Raj (the outrageous bidding game) and Halunken und Spelunken, both often enjoyed at RussCon. He also designed Twixt, the classic 2-player pure strategy game which, when played at RussCon, usually resulted in JP kicking my ass.

Game Results

RicochetRobot2RussW 1 Ben -1
RicochetRobot2RussW 1 James -1
SanJuan4MarkH 3 MikeC 1 Fred -1 Clayton -3
PrincesOfFlorence5Marty 4 JP 2 Fina -1 Whendy -1 Daniel -4
Can'tStop4Ben 3 RussD 0 Pauline 0 Fred -3
Cribbage2William 1 MarkY -1
EinfachGenial3MikeC 2 MarkH 0 Clayton -2
RicochetRobot3RussD 2 Justin 0 Pauline -2
EinfachGenial4Daniel 3 Marty 1 Whendy -1 JP -3
SanJuan4RussW 3 Matt 1 Crash -1 JimG -3
SanJuan4JP 3 Marty 1 Matt -1 JimG -3
Oh,Pharoah!3William 2 MikeC 0 Clayton -2
Tichu2( Ben Fred ) 1 ( MarkH MarkY ) -1
Carcassonne3Justin 2 MikeC 0 Clayton -2
ArkOfTheCovenant3RussW 2 Whendy 0 Crash -2
RicochetRobot3MarkY 2 RussW 0 Crash -2
SanJuan4Matt 3 Justin 1 JP -1 MikeC -3

Since Alex Randolph passed away, we played his Ricochet Robot several times. I managed to beat Ben, and during our game Fina's son James (a newbie to the game) watched curiously and often noticed shorter paths than either of us! I think his chess playing has paid off in Ricochet Robot skills. So he wanted to play me, which we did, but then he decided to bail out after I was ahead 4 to 2: as Ben observed, it is much less pressure being a spectator than a player! He then created various imaginative solitaire variations. :) I later played again with MarkY and Crash (another newbie), and MarkY totally kicked ass, gaining 13 of the chips (I got the other 4). Perhaps MarkY is more powerful than the fabled Jeffles...? Perhaps a Ricochet Robot tournament is called for, to determine the true master!

There was a new Knizia game Einfach Genial which I'm told I'll like because it's vaguely go-like, and which Daniel kicked ass at.

There was another new game San Juan, which is a card game version of Puerto Rico. I liked it. I won, to my surprise: my production was lower than anyone else's: I only had one indigo plant and one sugar mill the whole game. But possibly the difference between the different commodity types isn't as important as in Puerto Rico? Hard to tell. I also got a chapel early on which let me squirrel away a victory point every round (but that's a double edged sword as it caused me to have a card shortage most of the time early on). Anyway, this one looks like it may become popular, as it was played 4 times the night it appeared here! I'm curious to play it again.


Rank Ratings:       
 3.8712 RussW
 2.4204 Marty
 1.7918 William
 1.5041 Justin
 1.3863 Ben
 1.3863 Matt
 1.0986 RussD
 0.6931 MarkH
 0.2877 JP
 0.1178 MikeC
-0.2231 Daniel
-0.2877 Fina
-0.2877 MarkY
-0.6931 James
-0.6931 Whendy
-1.0986 Fred
-1.0986 Pauline
-2.6027 Crash
-2.7726 JimG
-4.6821 Clayton
Win Ratings:
 3.4657 RussW won 4 of 5
 1.7918 William won 2 of 2
 1.3863 Ben won 2 of 3
 1.1632 Daniel won 1 of 2
 1.0341 Marty won 1 of 3
 0.8109 Matt won 1 of 3
 0.8109 RussD won 1 of 2
 0.5878 JP won 1 of 4
 0.4055 Justin won 1 of 3
 0.2877 MarkH won 1 of 3
 0.1178 Fred won 1 of 3
-0.2231 Fina won 0 of 1
-0.2877 MikeC won 1 of 5
-0.2877 MarkY won 1 of 3
-0.5754 JimG won 0 of 2
-0.6931 James won 0 of 1
-0.6931 Pauline won 0 of 2
-0.9163 Whendy won 0 of 3
-1.0986 Crash won 0 of 3
-1.5041 Clayton won 0 of 4

I am the Devil! William and Marty are Co-Vice-Devils. Then Ben and Justin.

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

I used GraphViz to generate the graph image.

devil graph

Meta Game

I was the Meta Devil and emailed out the following Meta Game:

As a side effect of 24 Hour Comics Day ( I am thinking about wacky comics experiments. Let's create a dada comics jam! Bring a single black and white square panel of a comic scene. Draw whatever you like... or even assemble something from clipart or using computer graphics tools. It can just involve a simple stick figure or smiley face saying or doing something weird, or be more elaborate if you're feeling more creative. I'll scan them in, so you just need to draw it. Or email me an image file (gif/png/tif preferably, to avoid jpg lossy compression) (let's say 150 by 150 pixels). I will assemble all the panels into a dada comics jam and post it for our collective creative amusement. The order of the panels in the final comic will be based on alphabetic order of our RussCon names, so you can make a sort of guess about where in the "story" you might be... And every participant will get a lottery ticket to be the Meta Devil. You may explicitly opt out of being eligible for Meta Devil if you wish, thus everyone is encouraged to create a square black and white panel for the dada comics jam!

Thanks to all the participants, who were:

150 pixels (as I hinted in a followup email) doesn't leave a lot of room for detailed art and text unless you're very careful. But I'm glad I chose small panels because there were a few elaborate grayscale and complicated patterns in some of the panels, so the final filesize was fairly hefty for a modestly-dimensioned grayscale art. Some twiddling was needed (a few panels came in color; a few had text that was too small so I manually tweaked in new text with a font and had to leave out some words; etc) but overall this was a quite amusing and enjoyable little event!

The final result is here and I'll stick it up at next monday as well.

There were 13 participants and no one requested to be excluded from the lottery; I randomly chose and found that Whendy is the Meta Devil and will design next week's Meta Game!

Evening's Soundtrack

Dan Bern, dog boy van
Big Black, Songs About Fucking
Jane Jensen, Comic Book Whore
Tenors, Greatest Hits
Trout Fishing in America, Truth is Stranger than Fishin'

CDs with comic art on the covers!

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