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2004-03-17 RussCon Report


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11 of us played 9 games. It was an unusually light turnout, I think due to the triple whammy of spring break, SXSW, and St. Patrick's Day!

Attention bicyclists! Marty is planning to do a 2 day bike ride for diabetes on May 22-23. He's looking for folks that might want to join him and/or donate money as a fundraiser. The bike ride is from San Antonio to Austin, but there are different length rides for different abilities. Marty hopes to do one of the long rides and one of the shorter rides. More info.

buritiKudos to Tim for bringing one of the weirder of the weird foods lately - this one straight from Brazil, where he recently bought it without knowing quite what it was. It came inside a curious wooden box, of some very light material like balsa or cork, and inside that was an ominous dark brick of goo, wrapped in plastic. As best we could determine it was some sort of fruit paste (apricot or guava or some such) that had a strange smoky or fetid taste to it as well. It was a bit strong and strange to eat straight, but then we discovered the trick of dipping Snider's pretzels into it!

Since I chat frequently with a Brazilian Esperantist, the next day I thought I would see if he could help identify the substance:

[11:39] * rao has joined #esperanto
[11:40] <russ> saluton rao!
[11:40] <rao> saluton, amiko!
[11:41] <russ> mi parolis pri vi pasintan nokton, en mia tabuloluda grupo!
[11:41] <russ> iu amiko jxus revenis el brazilo! kal li alportis iun strangan mangxajxon! "buriti"
[11:42] <rao> cxu buriti? mi ne konas tion!
[11:42] <russ> sxajnas ke gxi estas iu frukto, kuirita kun fumo, sed ni ne certas.
[11:43] <rao> fakte "buriti" estas en la vortaro, sed mi ankoraux ne konas gxin c]:)
[11:43] <russ> post minuto, mi videbligos foton...
[11:44] <rao> c]:)
[11:44] <russ>
[11:45] <russ> mi supozas ke la teksta lingvo estas la portugala
[11:45] <russ> cxu "doce" estas dolcxa?
[11:45] <rao> jes! tio estas dolcxajxo farita per buritio!
[11:46] <russ> la ligna skatalo tre malpezas, eble la ligno estas balza aux korka
[11:46] <rao> "speciala dolcxajxo buritia"
[11:47] <russ> cxu "burita" estas nomo de mangxo, aux nomo de kompanio aux regiono?
[11:47] <russ> "buriti"
[11:47] <rao> gxi estas la nomo de la frukto
[11:48] <rao> "casa sampaio" estas la nomo de la butiko en kiu via amiko acxetis tion c]:)
[11:48] <russ> damne, "buriti" ne estas en la vortaro (portugala->eo) cxe lernu
[11:49] <russ> cxu vi scias la anglan aux esperantan nomon de la frukto?
[11:50] <russ> ha, nur diras ke "buriti" estas "buriti" :)
[11:50] <rao> "buriti" estas tre stranga nomo, estas normale ke gxi ne estas en pt-eo vortaro
[11:51] <russ> la gusto iom similas al abrikoto, sed ne gxuste
[11:51] <russ> alia amiko diris ke la buriti similas al gujavo.
[11:52] <rao> el mia angla vortaro: bu.ri.ti [burik´i] sm Bot Brazilian wine-palm (Mauritia vinifera)

So there you go - apparently we were eating the fruit of the Brazilian wine-palm plant! Dankon al rao pro lia helpema informo!

Game Results

4Jeffles 3 Whendy 1 Ben -1 Tim -3
DurchDieWueste4JimG 3 RussW 1 MarkG -1 Clayton -3
Domaine4MarkG 3 RussW 1 Clayton -1 JimG -3
Tichu2( Jeffles Whendy ) 1 ( Ben Tim ) -1
Can'tStop4Tim 3 Ben 0 Whendy 0 Jeffles -3
ButtonMen2Ben 1 Jeffles -1
Domaine4RussW 3 JP 1 Chad -1 MarkG -3
Guillotine4Ben 3 MarkY 1 Clayton -1 Jeffles -3
Bluff8Clayton 7 JP 5 RussW 3 Jeffles 1 MarkY -1 Chad -3 Ben -5 MarkG -7

Durch die Wüste was a good close contest. I was pleasantly surprised to achieve second place; I didn't do well with sealing off areas, but I managed to have the largest white caravan (with only 4 camels!) and tie in another. MarkG walled off the most territory and was the leader in my mind, but at the last minute he lost control of the red caravan and actually earned no bonus points for any largest caravan.

Two more games of Domaine tonight! In the first one, I repeated my performance of last week's game: MarkG was clearly winning, and I realized my best hope was to secure second place, therefore I made it so, making a move to push past the 30-point mark and ending the game. In the second game, Mark was clearly in last place and, frustrated at JP's early lead and (perceived/alleged/whatever disclaimer) early malice toward Mark, cooperated in pushing me from second place to victory over JP. On JP's turn before Mark's, JP placed a couple fences which Mark could have used to make my castle have a tiny domaine and not end the game; JP said something about how he could only hope that Mark wouldn't do the "cheesy" thing and help me win, since as Mark had said earlier, the only rational course in a game is to keep someone from winning if they're about to. (Of course from my point of view, that is not necessarily the only rational course; if you are only delaying the inevitable while hurting your own rank then banging on the imminent leader is not necessarily rational, I'd argue.) Anyway, this launched a mercifully brief conversation about kingmaking, grudges, playing for rank versus win, and all that, which I give thanks to Zoltar's divine guidance only lasted a few sentences, instead of twenty or thirty minutes like often happens after a controversial game of Drakon... A less controversial topic that arose concerning Domaine is whether the game has a problem, in that both times one player got an early domaine formed which gave them income and pulled them ahead of the others. In the first game, this led Mark to easy victory. In the second game, it would have led JP to easy victory had not Mark decided he didn't mind me winning instead of JP. It seems possible to me that this effect was only due to our inexperience with the game, and that more experienced players might have a more balanced opening, but I'm not sure. In any case, I am willing to play the game more to find out since I still find it interesting, even if it does have a "rich get richer" problem. (Kind of like Outpost in that regard, but much shorter playing time!)

Bluff was fun with the large number of players, and a brilliant new decision making technique was pioneered by MarkY; I will call it stochastic modeling and simulation, since it deserves a hifalutin impressive name. If there are n dice unknown to you, then simply roll n dice and pretend that this is the actual distribution of the hidden dice, making your raise accordingly. This is an especially potent and entertaining technique when your simulation predicts all the hidden dice are the same, for instance.


Rank Ratings:     
 2.8904 RussW
 1.6582 JP
 1.0986 Whendy
 0.1823 MarkY
 0.0000 JimG
-0.1178 Clayton
-0.2719 Ben
-0.6931 Tim
-1.0986 Chad
-1.1632 Jeffles
-2.4849 MarkG
Win Ratings:
 1.2164 Clayton won 1 of 4
 1.0986 JimG won 1 of 2
 0.6774 RussW won 1 of 4
 0.6774 Ben won 2 of 6
 0.6774 Jeffles won 2 of 6
 0.6774 MarkG won 1 of 4
 0.4055 Tim won 1 of 3
 0.1178 Whendy won 1 of 3
-0.4212 JP won 0 of 2
-0.4212 MarkY won 0 of 2
-0.4212 Chad won 0 of 2

Clayton, JimG, and I are Co-Devils!

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

The Meta Game was unresolved last week! An unprecedented crisis! So I emailed out the following Meta Game:

Last week's Meta Game sadly withered on the vine as no one new showed up, so rather than draw out the funereal agony of us old-timers hanging around wistfully waiting for new blood to show up, this week we shall take advantage of the festive fact that Wednesday is St. Patrick's Day!

Earn a meta point for wearing green!
Earn a meta point for drinking any Irish booze!
Earn a meta point for bringing any Irish booze!
Earn a meta point each time you are the green player in a game that has colored pieces to distinguish the players!
Earn a meta point each time you playing a game from Ireland or containing Ireland or Irish themes!

High score wins.

Obligatory rules lawyer info: Note your meta point earnings in the book, or else there is no guarantee of them being accounted for. If several people want to play the green pieces, they must randomly determine who gets them. Luckychauns are Irish. Don't be a rules lawyer, be festive!

There was no Irish booze in the house. Lots of people wore green (but only Whendy had the wherewithall to record it in the book!) The only Irish-themed game was Rainbows (with those charming Luckychauns). Jeffles managed to play Rainbows and also play green pieces in several games, thus earning the most meta points, and so Jeffles is the Meta Devil and will design next week's Meta Game! (Perhaps he will atone for his winnerless game from last week!)

Evening's Soundtrack

Black 47
Black 47, Fire of Freedom
Black 47, Green Suede Shoes
Black 47, Home of the Brave
Black 47, Trouble in the Land

They may not be totally traditional Irish, but Black 47 is the band I most think of when I think of music for St. Patrick's Day!

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