August 26 RussCon Report

There were 16 of us. RussD returned from the Big D! (Dallas or Death, you make the call.) Wendy, who'd been away a few weeks, was back, sporting a cool new look. Alfred is back from summer vacation, and he also showed up at Go Club in Dobie Mall Tuesday night! (Some of you need to play more Go, and I think you know who you are.) Famed obnoxious gamer ChrisW was back. The usual suspects were there. Sadly, visiting Chicago dignitaries Ronald and Peter declined to appear -- and they dare to call themselves gamers.

Several of us have snapped up copies of For The People (the new Civil War game from Avalon Hill). It's amazing what being bought out and dissolved by Hasbro can do for your sales.

Sadly, Devil Doug did not show, and Vice-Devil Clayton was late, so 3rd place Devils Ken and James got the dining table and played Ken's new game Airlines first. I didn't play it, but I gather it's an older design by Alan Moon and has some vague controversy connected with it somehow. It all sounds deliciously scandalous. Well, maybe not really. It looked to be a German import (from Abacus Games). Alfred won Airlines.

JP won Euphrates. No wait, he just wanted to play Euphrates, and he WOULD have won. No, Marty would have won. Oh, forget it.

The popular Guillotine was played several times. The first game was incredibly close, a 3-way tie between Dawn, JonathanC, and RussD who all earned 17 points, pipping Clayton who'd only earned 16. RussD and JonathanC each won a solo victory as well. Jay and I were pondering how it is that there can be a lighthearted humorous game about the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, yet this doesn't feel tasteless or offensive. Is it just the passage of time that makes us able to play this and not be bothered? So a century from now will there be lighthearted family games about Auschwitz? Or is it because the nobles being beheaded were "bad guys"? But there are also Martyrs and the Hero of the People getting killed. I'm not complaining about the game -- I think it's quite clever and fun. I just think this is an interesting question.

RussW won a 6-player game of Downtown (another German import from Abacus Games).

JonathanC won Lunch Money. Although many of us know this game, this was its debut at RussCon. It's a game of beating each other up with cards that have cool creepy photographs of a psycho-looking little girl. (And my exgirlfriend WendyWhe knows the photographer, who did marketing photos for her previous employer! The little girl on the cards is his daughter.)

James won a 5-player Settlers. I gather this game broke all the laws of probability. But then, people say that of every Settlers game. It's axiomatic, just as the map always sucks.

I recently acquired Monsters Ravage America. This was good fun, as each player controls a giant monster and also one branch of the military. Monsters ravage America while the military tries to stop them. Eventually there is a sudden showdown where the monsters fight each other to determine the supreme king monster. WendyWhi won this game. We played the basic rules; next time we'll use the advanced rules which add scientific research and monster mutations! Plus the special "You Are Here" marker (which we would place on Austin) -- if the hex where the players are playing is ravaged, special stuff happens. (What if you're playing by email in different parts of the country?) Being an Avalon Hill design, it's perhaps more complex than you'd expect a goofy game about giant monsters ravaging America to be, but not unduly so.

Ken won Air Baron (I believe -- Jay's handwriting is sometimes unreadable!)

William won By Hook or Crook. JP did the ChrisW maneuver and played without knowing the rules, having them revealed only on a need-to-know basis. It was fun watching him try to infer the algorithm for when and how pawns advance along the track. He came in 3rd, too, beating RussD and WendyWhi. (Poor Wendy lost 3 of her 4 starting artifacts in the very first turn, which has to be a record...)

Finally James won Entdecker.

JonathanC won 3 games. James and RussD won 2. Alfred, Dawn, Ken, RussW, WendyWhi, and William won 1.


Evening's Soundtrack:

Comet, Chandelier Musings
Industrial Revolution (Second Edition) (disc 2)
Lost Highway (soundtrack)
Sinead O'Connor, Am I Not Your Girl?
The Alan Parsons Project, I Robot


Rank ratings:
 0.5714 James (4 games played)
 0.5000 RussW (3)
 0.3846 JonathanC (4)
 0.2500 Alfred (2)
 0.2308 RussD (4)
 0.1875 William (4)
 0.0000 Ken (4)
 0.0000 Tim (3)
-0.0769 Dawn (4)
-0.0909 JP (3)
-0.2222 ChrisW (2)
-0.3333 WendyWhi (3)
-0.3333 Brady (2)
-0.4286 Jay (4)
-0.6000 Clayton (3)
-1.0000 Marty (1)

Win ratings:
 0.7561 JonathanC (4)
 0.6000 Alfred (2)
 0.5500 James (4)
 0.3793 RussD (4)
 0.3433 WendyWhi (3)
 0.2987 RussW (3)
 0.1294 William (4)
 0.0714 Ken (4)
-0.4737 Dawn (4)
-1.0000 Tim (3)
-1.0000 JP (3)
-1.0000 ChrisW (2)
-1.0000 Brady (2)
-1.0000 Jay (4)
-1.0000 Clayton (3)
-1.0000 Marty (1)

This gives the fairly simple partial order (unusually simple for so many players):

 James     /
   |  \  Alfred
 RussW \ /
   |   RussD
   |  /    |
William    |
   |       |
  Ken      |
   |       |
 Dawn      |
   |      WendyWhi
  Tim     /
   |     /
  JP    /
   |   /
   | /

Relative vertical position is correct in the above diagram, e.g. Dawn's (opponents, levels) rating is (0,2), which puts her above Wendy's (0,1), who's above Tim's (-2,0).

JonathanC is the Devil! Go Weasel Boy! James is Vice-Devil. Alfred is Vice-Vice-Devil. The Russes take 4th and 5th place.

It was an evening of two unusual rating events:

Tim takes the rare and coveted Extra Average Award for winning no games and defeating exactly as many opponents as defeated him. Uncannily, this is his second week in a row to win this rare and coveted award!

Marty successfully pulled off the rare and dangerous Reverse Brady Maneuver (playing only one game, and losing it utterly).


Fight Tidbit:

The first Fight AI has actually been created by JeffW, but not for the Fight tournament. It is part of a simple hotseat version of Fight done as a programming exercise with ChrisB. It is not a formidable player, however. Its strategy is simple: put your lowest valued coin into the pot, and don't bother to retrieve any coins. Analyzing the effectiveness of this strategy is left as an exercise for the reader. Jeff and Chris are encouraged to return to RussCon and try out this Fight strategy.


Cultural News:

Remember that this weekend is ArmadilloCon, Austin's annual SF con. It's traditionally focused on literary sf, but this year they want to have more gaming, and our very own Marty will be running tournaments for Settlers and several Cheapass games! I will be crunching combined RussCon-style stats on all the games for Marty in addition to the game-specific tournaments he is running. Check out for info. The con will be at Omni Southpark Hotel (formerly the Wyndham), at the southeast corner of Ben White and I-35.

The recommended low-budget weird movie is Killer Condom, a late show at the Dobie. Brought to you by Troma Films, based on a German comic book, this takes place in New York City and is filmed in German with English subtitles (which adds enjoyably to the strangeness). Special effects were designed by H.R. Giger. (Seriously.)


See you at the con, or else next Wednesday night!