Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bridge Match 3 - Board 10

Board 10 - Dealer East - All Vul

Opponents convention card: Jack
Opponents playing strength: Excellent

My hand: 9 7 Q J 6 2 J 6 4 9 8 7 3

East opens with a 3 spade preempt. Well, my hand is garbage, preempt away! Everyone else agrees.

I lead the 8 of clubs.
A K T 8 7 5 3
Q 2
A Q 2
9 7
Q J 6 2
J 6 4
9 8 7 3

West has a 15 count and a different 7 card major. Feels like this was not our hand, and I have to hope they have a game they just missed. Anyway, clubs... 8-A-6-J. Declarer draws trump. 8-2-J-9. K-7-3 of hearts-3. A-3 of clubs-5 of hearts-Q. 4-7 of clubs-2 of diamonds-9 of diamonds. 5-4 of diamonds-Q of diamonds-5 of clubs.

Now East leads a heart. I know where 11 of the hearts are... Am I supposed to split here? If I do it's bad when the Q of clubs is an entry to the hearts. But if partner has the K of clubs it's fine. I think he does, so I'll split. 4-J-K-4 of clubs. Declarer ruffs a club back to hand and finesses a heart again. I play low so I can win the 4th heart trick. We take that one and a diamond at the end. Making 5.
Q 3 2

A K T 9 5
K T 6 5 4
A K T 8 7 5 3
Q 2
A Q 2
A K J T 6 5 4
9 4
8 7 3
9 7
Q J 6 2
J 6 4
9 8 7 3
We are the only table that didn't bid to game. Unfortunately 4 of the tables actually went down (5 hearts doubled down 1 once and 4 spades down 1 thrice). One table made 4 spades and two tables made 4 spades up 1. I guess we can take a heart ruff off the opening lead and then cash 2 diamonds? Where's the 4th trick? They have 10 tricks easily if they finesse a spade. I guess you can take a 4th trick if declarer plays for the drop. Oh well. We get 6MPs because our opponents stopped so low.

Captain Jack disagrees with my opening lead. He wants me to lead the J of hearts.

Ranking after board 10/60: 4/16 with 59.29%

Friday, August 29, 2014

Battlestar Galactica: Newer Players

Earlier this week I actually got out of the house and went to Sara's to play board games. I learned a couple of new games (Bling Bling Gemstone and Greed) and also got to play my second favourite game: Battlestar Galactica. It was a five player game where Sara and myself both have tons of plays but the other three players combined for three previous plays amongst them. It was a very fun game (with a bit of a terrible ending) but it really brought home for me why I asserted in the past that the cylons win more games when people don't really know what they're doing.

In this game I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that two of the other players were cylons from the getgo. So much so that when Sara tried to throw one of them in the brig (and maybe execute them since Sara was Admiral Cain) I was all in to make it happen. Turned out all three other players were against it (as was destiny) so it didn't happen. It also turned out that all five of us started the game as humans. But one of the new players chose a 1 over a 3 when we jumped. Another sent all the civilian ships home in order to let a bunch of raiders shoot Galactica instead of just flying around on their next two activations. And the third guy got to draw 2 cards outside his skillset and he chose treachery of all things! He then single handedly made us fail a skill check (I suspect he was just trying to dump his treachery cards) and then single handedly made us pass one. He was president and kept playing quorum cards to help the humans, but then he'd draw cards that weren't useful (aforementioned treachery, also some piloting).

I didn't know what was going on. Sara didn't know what was going on. There was a lot of intrigue and trying to figure out why people were doing what they were doing instead of just knowing that a person was guaranteed good or evil because they know the game and were taking the right/wrong actions. In a sense it was refreshing, and certainly fun. But in another sense it comes as little surprise that the cylons won.

The end of the game took a long time to happen because at one point there was a revealed cylon and 4 people in the brig. So no crisis cards were being drawn, and no jump prep could come out. The character selections had only two people capable of drawing yellow cards (one of the two colours for getting out of the brig) and those two people happened to both be the cylons. I was new Gaius Baltar and had to throw myself in the brig before I could reveal, though continually trying to throw someone out the airlock felt like a good use of my time as long as I had treachery cards to proc in the skillcheck. We made fantastic use of the mutiny card mechanic to throw everyone in the brig. This mostly was possible because we just kept activating the treachery card to shuffle 2 more treachery cards into destiny. Over and over and over again. I'm pretty sure we shuffled 22 treachery cards into one pass through destiny!

I think the humans had an easy path to victory. If the CAG had just not sent all the civilian ships home at the start of the game he wouldn't have ended up in the brig (Sara sent him there by giving him a second mutiny card). Combine that with the admiral choosing the 3 instead of the 1 when we jumped the second time and the humans easily win. But the chaos and discord from people making sketchy plays through inexperience sunk the humans.

Again, it was still fun (well, up until the game stopped progressing with 4 people in the brig anyway) but I definitely think newer players swing the game heavily in favour of the cylons. The other cylon was misplaying his cylon position too (he should have revealed much earlier than he did but he held off trying to get a good use of his reveal ability of knocking off 2 jump prep instead of just revealing and denying 55% of a jump prep each turn) but I feel like the cost of bad unrevealed cylon play was a lot less than the cost of bad human play.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Game About Squares

Do you like squares? Do you like games? How about puzzles? Maybe you'd like Game About Squares. It seems to be a browser game that is a series of movement puzzles. I've had it open in a window for the last couple days and every now and then I'll tab over to it and try some things...

I'm up to level 27. I think there are 36 total. It's been a fun distraction so far and I suspect some of my friends would also like it... So go check it out. If you want. The squares don't much care one way or the other!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Live Multiplayer Civ V

I've got a couple people interested in trying to find the time to sit down and play a live multiplayer game of Civ V. I assume we'll be playing with simultaneous movement even during wars but I'm able to be talked out of that if people have strong opinions. It does mean the game devolves a little from being a 4X and into an RTS but it also allows wars to happen without bogging the game down.

Anyway... Is anyone else interested in playing a live game with Ike and Sky and myself? We could do teams at an appropriate number of people or we can do free for all. I'm fine with either. No idea what day/time this would be, but if we get an idea of who is interested we can try to find a good time.

Let me know!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More SolForge

In the past week I've started playing SolForge again. It was just sitting there in my Steam game list, right under Path of Exile. Play me, Nick! You know you want to! I'm a card game with interesting drafts! The games are fast enough that you don't really care if you lose! All those things that drove you away before are fixed, honest...

So I went back in. I didn't have enough tickets to draft (I feel like I would have kept playing if that was true) but I figured I could do the dailies for a bit and then draft. They had changed it at some point so your first online win of the day was guaranteed to be a ticket so you get to draft once a week for 'free' assuming you're willing to play every day and can actually win games against people. I can win games, but not very consistently because it still matches by hidden rating and I took so much time off that my deck is mediocre compared to the people I get matched against. I still have 2 Zimus and I sometimes draw well and beat people, but I have to try a couple times and it isn't a ton of fun...

It's even less fun because of the feature implemented to let people play multiple games at once. Because I'm just trying to win one game and because I don't know what the cards do I'm much better off playing one game at a time. I need to read my opponent's cards and I like to understand the game state even if the game is simple enough that I don't really need to do it. But the people who play a lot and have good decks don't need to spend that time, so they play many games at once. They're just goldfishing their awesome decks... So not only do I frequently get crushed, I have to wait a minute between turns to get crushed. It sucks.

I build up enough to draft, and then I ran it. But because the only real way to get tickets is to win an online game once each day I feel obligated to stop playing my draft games after I win one. I'm more likely to be able to draft again if I spread my 2 or 3 wins out over 2 or 3 days instead of all at once. And once again they actually released a new set in the middle of my draft. So I once again got to lose a bunch of games to cards I couldn't have drafted! (In this case they added new cards that work better when they're underleveled. This is awesome in draft since it gives you good card advantage plays with your 'useless' level 1 cards in age 2. But since I didn't have any and my opponents did it was bad for me.

I was about ready to quit again when I looked in my inventory and saw they'd given everyone a coupon for a free draft. Ok, fine. I'll do your free draft. Now I get some of the good new cards! (Hurray power creep...) But I still feel like I need to spread my plays out, and I still don't like doing that. I play games a lot when I play games at all.

SolForge frustrates me. I think I should probably remove it from my list of Steam games so I stop trying to play it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Path of Exile: Hit and Crit

My recollection of how Path of Exile worked back when I used to play is that the sphere grid was full of critical damage related nodes and taking them all was the way to do the most damage. I also remember that unless you had ridiculously good gear you couldn't really afford to spend so many sphere levels on crit without getting yourself killed. So it was 'right' to spec into crit if you were rich and/or awesome but otherwise all the critical damage nodes were a trap. There is one node in the tree that removes your chance to crit entirely but guarantees you hit with every attack. If you aren't getting any crit nodes that one was a pretty big damage boost and it had the added bonus that you got to skip accuracy nodes and gear. So you could really focus all your gear on staying alive (with some damage and attack speed thrown in) and completely ignore a lot of the potential damage stats.

This most recent expansion gave everyone more health and nerfed the defensive nodes in the tree. My hope is that this made it so taking damage based nodes was no longer as much of a trap and I decided my first character would just kind of take things that looked good and hope that all worked out. I've made it to act 2 of the 3rd difficulty without much trouble so far and my gear is pretty sketchy so I'd have to say at least for now it seems to be working out fine. I went and picked up the evasion related defensive stuff near the ranger start and then grabbed things that looked good including a bunch of mana on kill and some of the life nodes I could reach. I also ended up taking a lot of crit nodes since a lot of the rebuilt ranger area had crit stuff thrown in with bow damage.

I've probably only got another 25 skill points to spend by the time I hit 75 (if this character lasts that long) and I'm close to all kinds of interesting nodes. Do I want more crit chance? Crit multiplier? Attack speed? Physical damage? Projectile damage? A 6th frenzy charge? More life? Movement speed? Mana? My primary spell does a lot of cold damage, do I want elemental damage? I'm near the shadow start and there's a pretty spicy cold damage and freeze chance node... How does that feel?

A lot of these things are things I've ignored in the past since I always either took the no miss/no crit node or I threw traps or I stood around and watched my zombies attack things. To make things more complicated all of these different sources of more damage interact multiplicatively with each other so how good one is depends on how much of the other ones I have. I can't just take the one with the bigger numbers because I don't know that it'll have the biggest end result to my damage done. (Ok, I could just take the one with the bigger numbers but I won't be happy to do that at all. I want to take the best one!)

The solution, of course, is to make a note of all my current values and build a spreadsheet so I can see what the impact of any given boost will be for my current setup!

*3 hours later*

Man, I'd forgotten just how complicated a lot of the mechanics are in this game. (Your chance to crit is based on your chance to hit unlike in simpler games like World of Warcraft, for example.) And how hard it is to find real numbers for monster stats. But I plugged it all together into a spreadsheet that seemed to be returning reasonable values compared to my character sheet, so I have something to work from. I'm apparently already at 90% chance to hit and it's capped at 95% so I'm pretty close to that cap as it is. I randomly picked up 3 nodes that had 20% accuracy rating each on them and I have a lot of dex to give a good accuracy base. But even without those 3 nodes I'd still be rocking an 85% chance to hit. And to get all the way to the 95% cap I'd need to add on an extra 170% accuracy rating. WHAT? I can get a little more than a 5% damage boost out of 9 extra nodes? And that's assuming I could even find 9 more 20% accuracy nodes. This feels stupid!

At least, I assume I can do better than that with other things? I want to look at what is a reasonable value for each stat for a single node and see what kind of damage boost it would bring...

Using 25% as the 'typical' value for crit multiplier is a little like cheating since there's never any clusters of crit multiplier just lying around. 25% is actually the value of an end node of a micro cluster that starts with 2 25% crit chance nodes. And it looks like those are actually ok but not great value for me? But the multiplier is so over the top good it might be worth taking those 3 nodes anyway. I find it interesting that the 6th frenzy charge is such a reasonable thing, but isn't awesome. I can remember a character last time around that basically just ran around to pick up all the frenzy charges... She wasn't very good. I wonder if it was really worth grabbing the 2 extra ones I already picked up. And if it will be worth taking an extra one from the bandits? Depending on how often I actually use frenzy it's probably a good idea. I'm a little surprised at how good the elemental damage nodes look. Not the 8% ones... But I'm near a node that's 20% elemental damage, 20% crit chance, and 20 int and it looks pretty amazing.

I also found it interesting that the cold penetration gem I have linked to my ice shot is worth 11.4% and 17.7% damage on the two ice shot columns. The faster projectiles also linked in? 5.1% and 4.6%. Cold penetration really looks like a good choice, though for a mana cost multiplier of 1.5 it better look good!

Accuracy nodes certainly look pretty terrible. And given that I'm already at 90% chance to hit I'm starting to question my curse choice. Knocking 42% off the enemy evasion sounded good, and I like life/mana on hit, but poacher's mark doesn't feel very good anymore. Maybe I should look into getting an assassin's mark gem at some point... Or maybe something defensive like enfeeble or temporal chains?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bridge Match 3 - Board 9

Board 9 - Dealer North - EW Vul

Opponents convention card: Jack
Opponents playing strength: Excellent

My hand: A K J 9 A Q 2 Q 7 6 4 K 6

I open 1 diamond in 3rd seat. It gets passed out. *sigh* My hand looked so good!

West leads the 6 of hearts.
T 7 6 4 2
8 5 4 3
Q 7
A K J 9
A Q 2
Q 7 6 4
K 6

And partner has a pretty good 5 count. Ok, is there any way this isn't a bottom board? I guess if other people also get passed out in 1 diamond and then I need to not throw away tricks. Wait, am I even making this? It feels like they should be able to set up clubs? Or maybe they should just cross ruff the majors? I need to draw trump to stop that and hope they don't set up clubs in the meantime I guess? At least they started with a heart! 6-3-K-A. I draw trump. 4-2-T-J. East shifts to a spade. 5-A-8-2. Another round of trumps. 6-5-K-A. East now draws more trump. 8-Q-3 of clubs-4 of spades.

Ok, so East has 2 more trump to my 1 more. He can get in, draw my trump, run clubs, and get in with his last trump. Can I stop this? Probably not. East didn't open so he doesn't have the A of clubs and I'm thinking he probably doesn't have the Q of spades either. So my play is probably that I can drop that in West's hand and hope I can force East to use his extra trump on spades.

K-Q-6-3. Huzzah. Another spade. J-5 of clubs-7-3 of diamonds. He draws my last trump as West pitches a heart and dummy pitches a club. He then plays a club to West's ace. West fires a club back to my K. I take that, the spade, and the Q of hearts. I lose a heart to East at the end. Just in.

T 7 6 4 2
8 5 4 3
Q 7
Q 8
J 7 6
5 2
A T 9 5 4 3
5 3
K T 9
A J 9 8 3
J 8 2
A K J 9
A Q 2
Q 7 6 4
K 6

It turns out all 8 tables played 1 diamond. 6 of us made, 2 of us went down 1. So I share a top board here and get 9MPs.

Captain Jack agrees with me all the way! And since every table passed out 1 diamond I guess he really agrees with passing the North hand too. I donno, maybe it's just because it turned out badly and maybe that Qx isn't actually any good in general but things work out better if he bids a major. I think? I guess maybe I go a little crazy if he bids a spade and we may get too high? Though I think we can make 4 spades...

Ranking after board 9/60: 4/16 with 61.11%

Friday, August 22, 2014

Path of Exile: Stash Tab Sale

I'm just going to throw this out there in case someone is interested in playing Path of Exile and wants to spend some money on it... For some amount of time, probably all day Saturday but I don't know for sure, they're selling a bundle of six premium stash tabs for $16.50 when they're normally $4 each. Not a great discount by any stretch, but also not a bad way to give them some money. It is certainly what I bought when I gave them $20 back when I first started playing. (They use the stupid system where you have to buy in game currency in bulk... I still have 35 points lying around unspent as a result. I understand why they use this system since they got an extra $3.50 out of me but I still hate it.)

I've found some new changes while playing that have made me happy with the game. For one, now when you die you get an option to respawn in town or at a 'checkpoint' where before you had to respawn in town. This makes playing alone so much nicer. It used to be that you could have to run through cleared out zones for quite a long time until you made it back to where you died when playing alone. When playing in a group you'd just have someone else make you a portal back to the fight so no time was lost at all. It's not clear where the checkpoints are (I haven't actually died very often) but getting to respawn at the stairs to the floor in the final dungeon was a lot nicer than having to waypoint back to the gardens and then walk all the way to the tower and then climb all the stairs. I used to run cast on death and portal on my solo characters (possibly the only legitimate uses for both gems) to try to get around this problem and I'm very happy to see it changed.

I've also always run into mana issues on my ranger characters, but this time I have no problems at all. I went and got a single cluster of mana related nodes and now I get 20 mana when I kill an enemy and 2 mana when I hit an enemy. My attack only costs 11 mana and hits everything in a cone so those are some significant numbers. I have 91 mana in my mana pool after running one aura so I do run dry when attacking a single hard target but that's what flasks are for, right?

I went and visited Tom's hideout and while I wasn't able to use his crafting benches I was totally able to tag along on his daily quest. This seems to be a way to let people who are lower level catch up to people who are higher which is nice. On the flip side I was able to invite him to a group when I ran into a quest giver in the world and he was able to tag along and get rep from my quest. (And by tag along I mean he obliterated everything and I just stood around...) So there are ways for low level people to give a boost to high level people as well. Seems reasonable to me!

I also found out while grouping with him that the rampage stack thing refreshes when anyone in the group kills an enemy. I was afraid they'd set it up to screw over parties inadvertently and am happy to see that groups of people will probably get ludicrous rampage stacks as long as someone in the party can find an enemy to kill within 5 seconds. Low mob density is the way I tend to lose my buff as it is so I'm not sure how much it matters? I guess it depends on how far away you can be from your group and still proc stacks for each other.

I'd gone to look up the vendor recipe for how to make a decent weapon since my bow was starting to lag in damage a little. I was waiting until I hit level 35 to get the next type of bow when I found a yellow level 32 bow that is off the charts good. It had 6 mods and all of them are great. A big percentage increase to physical damage, flat physical damage, flat lightning damage, attack speed, cold resist, and life gain on hit. I have a feeling I could probably sell it for a pretty penny, at least if the prices for leveling weapons in a new league are at all comparable to the ones I ran into in the week long race league (which is the only time I looked to buy a leveling weapon).

But even if it is, I don't think I want to sell it. Part of me thinks flipping it into a better weapon when I level up just makes economical sense, but part of me hated that Diablo III launched as a game like that and I don't see a big need to turn Path of Exile into such a game. I really think it's better if I just stick the bow in the guild bank when I'm done with it and let someone else use a stupid good bow for a while. I think the game is fun like that. I still agree with keeping crafting items out of the guild bank because people should be free to screw around with the stuff they find and no one should be subjected to oversight in terms of 'what item justifies using a fusing orb' but at the same time I also don't want someone to randomly throw away every fusing orb I've found on something silly. So use your fusers however you want, and I'll use mine however I want, and we can both be happy! Maybe you use yours to save up and buy something nice instead of crafting at all? Good for you!

I leveled a quest giver up to the point where I could create a hideout and I ended up with one in a graveyard because I happened to randomly get a lot of quests with the necromancer. She buffs items to add on int and mana which sucks for me, but that's who I randomly got so that's what I'm running with. I wonder if hideouts are cross character? I wonder if I can change to a better locale when I unlock more quest givers?

Sthenno asked a question about joining the guild in a response to yesterday's post and I don't know if other people who may have been interested in the response saw the question at all. So here goes... As far as I know all I need to invite someone to the guild is their character name. I think I can send the invite even when they're offline. So if you play the game, or start playing the game, and want to use some left over gear in the guild bank or have people to group with or whatever just send me a message somehow with a character name and I'll hook you up!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Path of Exile: Forsaken Masters

This week saw the release of the next mini expansion for Path of Exile. Patch notes for Forsaken Masters can be found here.

It looks like a lot of things have changed, and probably for the good. They've added in a set of random quest givers that spawn throughout the world. Do quests for them to earn reputation and gain levels with each quest giver. As you level up with them they unlock more and more things. Daily quests. Living space to customize. Crafting abilities! Apparently some of these things can be shared across a guild? As much as some people may hate daily quests and reputation grinds in World of Warcraft I always liked them... As long as the quests were interesting enough, anyway. I'm going to be wandering around and killing things, might as well get a little bit of direction and some rewards for doing so!

It's also brought with it the launch of brand new leagues. The softcore one has the added bonus that killing lots of monsters in a row makes you move faster and do more damage. As long as you don't go more than 5 seconds between kills every 15 kills gives you a new stack of a brutally powerful buff. I didn't know what I was doing but I managed to get over 100 kills in a row on the ledge... I stopped caring about loot (and frankly loot from the ledge is probably pretty questionable anyway unless it's yellow or orange) and just ran in a straight line spamming my mana and run speed flasks. Kill all the things! Move faster! Kill more all the things!

The hardcore one has a weird mechanic where each time you kill an enemy you have a chance to spawn a portal, and if you spawn lots of portals in one spot they combine to make bigger, scarier portals? I haven't played it yet but it at least sounds interesting. And it sounds like it doesn't make hardcore appreciably harder than softcore which may be a good thing.

They also did a pretty big revamp of the sphere grid. Everyone gets more health per level base and all the health nodes in the tree got worse. This should open up more viable builds I hope? You should be able to get the same amount of health as before from fewer points which should let you put more points into interesting things. They also made pretty major changes to the witch/shadow/ranger section of the tree since it used to be terrible. I don't know if it's good now or not, but any change has to be a good one. They also recently changed one of the map mods to make more builds viable. (Chaos damage per time is gone. They added in two more mods to give chaos damage over time while fighting or while standing in goo but you're now allowed to stand someplace safe and actually regenerate energy shield, so an energy shield build without chaos inoculation is now at least theoretically viable.)

They changed their buff system on the backend to remove snapshotting. A lot of the powerful/degenerate builds back when I last played were based on abusing the snapshot system and I for one am glad that's gone even if my last character abused it. It was fun to figure out gem combinations for summoning zombies and then for playing the game but actually making all those gem swaps every time I wanted to play was annoying. They buffed summons to make up for it which is going to be a big boost for anyone who played the game without being an abusive lunatic.

They also changed around the power level of a bunch of skills. One thing in the patch notes that caught my eye was they made all bows just do 10% more damage. Combined with changing the ranger part of the tree I figured I'd make my first character a ranger and just pick things without planning a build. I can always toss the ranger away later if I feel like it, right? Right. I tried out ice shot this time around because it was the only real reward from a quest and it actually felt really good. Turns out it got buffed to do 20% more damage in this patch! On top of some other recent buffs to it as well I think. One of which may have just been visual? It certainly looks like it does a lot of damage now, and entire packs keep dying in one attack, so I like it so far.

One thing I was confused by was a note saying the arc spell was nerfed to do 10% less damage. I used to use arc on my old character but the damage was sketchy so I kept it at level 1 to keep the mana cost low and just used it to proc culling blow. Well, I went back today and read the patch notes from other patches since I last played and in one of them arc was buffed to do 60% more damage and gain more chains as it levels up. Huh... I might want to try a straight up arc mage now...

Am I going to try to get a t-shirt this time? I doubt it. But playing yesterday was fun, so I'm going to at least play a bunch more and see what happens!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Final Fantasy X-2: Angra Mainyu

I've made my way to near the end of the game in my first playthrough of the HD remake of Final Fantasy X-2 for my marathon. I could go underground and try to beat the game, or I could do some of the sidequests that popped up at the start of this chapter. FFX-2 could be called Final Fantasy: Side Quests so I clearly had to go do some side quests. The first one I went to was in the desert where I was sent to explore the world to rescue the 10 cactuar gatekeeper dudes. This was very similar to a sidequest in FFX, actually. It took me a few hours but I finally found them all. Doing so rewarded me with a challenge boss fight. I was not prepared...

I ended up fighting the boss for probably close to two hours. He reminded me a lot of the final challenge boss in FFX in that he has two adds and he spams full life on them to bring them back up shortly after killing them off. Every now and then if both adds were alive he'd bust out a brutally powerful attack. Not as powerful as what Penance was doing, but it was still pretty painful. One of the adds would also cast a mass confuse spell. I mostly kept that one dead but every now and then it would get that attack off and problems would arise. Paine is wearing a ribbon so it wasn't guaranteed game over if it resolved but it took a lot of resources to recover. Eventually I ran out of megaphoenixes and megalixirs and died. The boss was also sometimes healing itself and I wasn't actually sure if I was making any progress at all or not. I decided to take a look at the stats for the boss online to see if it was worth trying again or if I needed to level up some more...

It turns out the boss has 333444 health and I was doing maybe 2000 damage per cycle. So even if it wasn't healing it would still take me more than 160 cycles to kill it off. Considering I come close to dying every 5 or 6 cycles... Probably not going to happen with my current setup!

There are things I could do to make things easier though. I probably have access to some accessories to negate confuse on my other two characters. That would make it so I didn't need to burn out the mass confuse add. I'd still need to deal with the brutal AE damage from the boss but theoretically I could just spend all my attacks on the boss instead of on adds at all.

It also turns out the boss has an AI pattern that can be abused. If it runs low on mana it spends all of its turns trying to steal your mana instead of casting the brutal attack. So one option would be to take abilities to burn down the mana pool and then win. The wiki suggested using a bunch of jobs I don't have but I have at least a couple abilities to attack mana so I could give it a try and see at the very least. This would have to be combined with getting immunity to confuse.

One thing I am wondering is how much it matters... Do I need to kill this boss at all? Is this part of getting 100%? I said I wasn't going to look into that stuff until my second playthrough but if this guy needs to die I really want to do it this time around. Doing the long cactuar sidequest again is not something I really want to do.

Survey says... Yes. I do need to beat this boss. Duly noted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 WBC: Recap

I came away from WBC this year feeling like I didn't really play as much stuff as I normally do. Would that feeling pan out when I look at the numbers? Here's what I played in Lancaster this year...

Hanabi - 4
Through The Ages - 4
Innovation - 5
Vegas Showdown - 1
Splendor - 1
El Grande - 1
Le Havre - 4
Agricola - 4
Can't Stop - 1
Galaxy Trucker - 1
Ra the Dice Game - 1
Liar's Dice - 1
Wits & Wagers - 1
Concordia - 2
Facts in Five - 1
Fast Flowing Forest Fellers - 1

All told I played 17 different games and brought in a total of 34 plays between them all. Last year (when I was sick) was 9 for 19 so that's a pretty healthy rebound. But the year before that was 23 for 57... This year was way down from those numbers. But I don't really think I spend that much less time gaming this year. Through The Ages is in a 5 or 6 hour time slot and Le Havre and Agricola are both 3 hours. So I may have played fewer unique games and I may have started fewer play sessions but I suspect I actually spent a comparable amount of time playing games.

Open gaming was definitely down for me from previous years. Normally we'd play games after eating at Waffle House but we only did that once this time around. A lot of that was due to playing things at 9 in the morning. (I'm looking at you, Le Havre!) We didn't try out any of the games in Jay's Cafe. (Well, Concordia was there and we did play it, but we played on Sceadeau's copy, not on the loaner.) I also only played one game in the open gaming room all week.

I won my first sand plaque though I am really disappointed at the colour. It isn't pink at all. But then I'm not really sure why I thought it was pink in the first place. Maybe the colour changed at some point? Or maybe I'm just crazy. It is a pretty rare thing, and now I may need to track down a fez so I can pretend to belong to the sand club.

I also won my team game for the second year in a row. Duncan also won his team game which I suspect means we'll place in the top 10 of the team tournament. Bracket busters: I hope you went with the super long shot Dice Loving Canucks!

Galaxy Trucker was very fun despite my worries about how a real time game would be handled at WBC. And I heard decent things about crayon rails, too... Maybe next year will be the year I finally play crayon rails at WBC? If I manage to find my way there at all, anyway.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blood Bowl: Salary Cap Cuts

The season for Duncan's Blood Bowl league ended last week. I wasn't forced to forfeit while at WBC and was able to play the finals shortly after getting back. I'd just leveled up my claw guy in the conference finals and was able to finally build a player with the dreaded kill combo of claw, mighty blow, and piling on. My opponent was orcs and the dreaded combo really came home for me. He got 4 casualties against a team with almost exclusively 9 and 10 armour. At one point I'd decided to play for overtime (my opponent had busted through and was guaranteed to score unless I went crazy so I decided to just kill more mans to make overtime easier) and my opponent scored instead of stalling. This gave me plenty of time to score for the win while up men and it went smoothly.

The salary cap for the next season is 1850 with an extra 100k in cash allowed. I have a skill to take and then my team will be at 2220. I do get some bonuses (30k for winning the preseason, 30k for winning my conference, 50k for winning the Superior Bowl) but I still need to cut 260k to fit in under the cap. There are 4 types of things I can cut...

Rerolls - I save 70 for every reroll I throw away. They cost 140k to buy back. I have 4, which most people think is too many longterm for a team. I run with a 2 agility ball carrier who doesn't have sure hands so I like having extra rerolls. Especially now that I have a full kill stack guy, I'm going to want to have the flexibility to reroll some early pushes in an attempt to get more early casualties. I should be able to rebuy one reroll pretty easily but it isn't without risk. I've been lucky to not suffer many injuries to key players... Earmarking all my early money for a reroll could backfire if I lose a blocker or a bull centaur. Those cost 130k or 70k to replace... Easy to do once if I carry 100k over, hard to do if I need to spend 140k on a reroll first.

Bull centaurs - I have 2 of these guys and they each have 5 skills. Firing one and rebuying him immediately (I have 790k on hand right now, so easy to do) will save the 100k or 120k I'm currently spending on their skills. Starting over gives me a chance to build better players... But I don't know that I can build better players. Stat increases would be pretty good... But what I have right now just works so well. One bull is built as a hitter with block, mighty blow, tackle, break tackle, and guard. The other is my ball carrier and elf annoyer with block, dodge, break tackle, stand firm, and diving tackle. They both do what I want them to do and it feels really bad to get rid of them if I can avoid it. I'd probably rather chance getting screwed on rerolls than firing one of these.

Chaos dwarf blockers - I have 6 of these guys and they all have 3 or 4 skills. Only one has rolled an interesting skill result, and that is claw guy who is clearly untouchable. The uninteresting skills for blockers are actually really good, at least the first few. Guard and mighty blow are crucial for the way I play and stand firm has been pretty solid. After that I'm stuck taking things like grab and dauntless and those aren't very exciting. To top it all off, I have a couple blockers with permanent injuries. The guy with dauntless is down an agility which doesn't matter much. One of the guys with grab is down a movement and that is actually a pretty big deal. Moving 3 instead of 4 has impacted my play a couple of times. So purging that injury along with getting rid of an unexciting grab feels pretty reasonable and saves 80k towards the cap. Tossing the less agile guy or one of the uninjured but 4 regular skill dudes is reasonable and saves 80k also. I don't know that I like the idea of having a lot of unskilled blockers though...

Hobgoblins - These guys are the filler on the team. I generally don't use them for anything and don't try to skill them. I am running with 14 players right now so I can straight up fire up to 3 of these guys without replacing them immediately to save their full value (and not just the value of their skills like with the other players since I would want an immediate rookie). I have 6 hobgoblins... Two of them have the same 3 skills. (Dirty player, wrestle, and kick.) One of these guys is down a movement and I actually skilled the second one with kick because I intended to cut the other one at the cap. That guy is worth a full 100k and is certainly out the window. Which makes me a little sad since he's been with the team the whole time and lead the league in fouls in his first season. I have one hobgoblin with guard and don't want to fire him since guard is a double roll and I like having a more mobile source of guard. One hobgoblin is my safety of sorts with wrestle and strip ball. I can keep him or leave him... He almost never does anything useful but I think he won me a playoff game this season and is a nice safety valve to have. And then I have 2 hobgoblins with no skills at all. They have a couple SPP on them so I'd like to keep them if I can, but they're an easy 40k cut if it comes to it.

I need to cut 260k, but if I cut more than that I can carry over extra money to next season. Extra money helps with buying replacement players if people die, and also with buying more hobgoblins to fill out my roster in case I drop down below 14 players during this culling.

I'm certainly throwing away the injured hobgoblin for 100k. After that I have to cut things I want, and a lot of them, to get an extra 160k. Pretty sure that means the movement reduced blocker needs to go. That saves 80k more, so I need just another 80k. Getting rid of a reroll still requires getting rid of something else so I think I'll keep those. Realistically there are three legitimate options for an extra 80k savings... I can toss another blocker (probably the agility reduced one), I can toss two more hobgoblins (play my first preseason game with 11 players but then buy a couple hobgoblins to go back up to 13), or I can toss the safety hobgoblin.

Winning the preseason this last season got me into a fairly soft division (even though I lost to the worst team in the league due to a ludicrous amount of bad luck I still like what happened) and it got me 30k towards the cap this time around. I'd like that cap boost again, so crippling myself for the preseason is not something I really want to do. But even then I'm not sure what would cripple me more in the short term... Only having 11 players, losing my safety valve, or going down to 4 skilled blockers...

I do feel like for the most part I like my skills, so I am leaning towards dropping down to 11 players. I'll have one dangerous game where I don't have a bench but then I can buy a couple players and still have some cash left over. It does put me in danger of suffering some injuries and running out of cash... But it won't be as dangerous as tossing a reroll because I don't necessarily need to buy extra hobbos, and I can buy them in small chunks of 40k instead of blowing a full 140k all at once. There is merit in the short term to run 12 players by ditching the wrestle/strip ball hobbo... Especially if I dedicate some of the preseason to skilling up some hobbos. If I fire down to 11 players I have to lose my 2 and 3 SPP hobbos, but if I fire the skilled guy those other two are pretty close to leveling up to partially replace the fired guy.

And actually... If I were to pick 2 skills to have on hobbos I'd actually want another dirty player, not a strip ball guy. I'd like to have a wrestle/strip ball guy for the playoffs again, but I've got 18 games to skill people up before I get there...

Ok, I'm sold. I'll get my 260k by cutting 100k from my crippled hobbo, 80k by replacing my crippled blocker, and 80k by cutting my strip ball hobbo. And I guess I'll take my pending skill as a second copy of grab to replace the grab off the crippled blocker. I did like having a bunch of grabs for some of the side step heavy teams I was facing in the playoffs and I do think it'll eventually let me surf some mans with all my stand firm.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bridge Match 3 - Board 8

Board 8 - Dealer West - None Vul

Opponents convention card: Dutch Acol
Opponents playing strength: Advanced

My hand: Q T 5 2 K 5 2 A 6 5 Q 7 6

West opens 1 diamond, partner passes, and East responds 2 diamonds. I double. West goes on to 3 diamonds and everyone passes.

Partner leads the 9 of hearts.
A 9 3
Q 8 7
9 8 7 4
4 3 2
Q T 5 2
K 5 2
A 6 5
Q 7 6

9-7-???. I feel like I'm probably supposed to preserve my K to cover the Q on board? Even though that might well give West his J? I guess if declarer has AJx they're getting 3 tricks in this suit regardless. And if he has AJ tight I want to hold up. So I play low. 9-7-2-J. West draws trump. 2-J-4-5. Partner goes back to hearts. 6-8-5-4. Declarer now cashes a spade. A-5-6-4. More trump being drawn. 7-6-3-Q. Partner decides to play spades now. 7-3-Q-K. Declarer cashes his heart. A-3-Q-K. Now a spade to partner. 8-J-9-2.

It would seem it's time to crack clubs. 8-2-Q-5. Ooh. I feel like declarer has 2 more clubs so the right play has to be pounding one through him. 7-K-A-3. Partner then cashes his J of clubs. I'm very confused. Why didn't declarer beat my Q of clubs with his K?

Anyway, I get the A of trump as well. Down 3.

J 7 4
T 9 6 3
A J T 8
K 8 6
A J 4
K T 3 2
K 9 5
A 9 3
Q 8 7
9 8 7 4
4 3 2
Q T 5 2
K 5 2
A 6 5
Q 7 6

3 diamonds down 3 is good for a top board. Putting them down 2 would have only been worth 5 MPs, so we got 9 MPs off of that weird club play. Our side played 2 spades 4 times (making twice and up one twice) and their side played a variety of no trump contracts. 2NT down 2, 1NT down 1, and 1NT doubled just in.

Captain Jack disagrees with my double. He wants me to pass. Probably I should have passed but it felt like they were probably going to get to play a 2 diamond partscore when we had a partscore in a major. He then disagrees with my play on the first heart trick, but not that I skipped playing the K. Instead he wants me to play the 5, not the 2, to signal encouraging. For some reason I thought I should be signalling count here but I guess that's wrong. My bad.

Ranking after board 8/60: 3/16 with 60.71%

Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 WBC: Day 9

Sunday morning at WBC features a few short standalone tournaments and the semis/finals of a few events. Our first couple years we played in these tournaments and ran into issues with who would pack the car and what time we ended up back home. Waking up early, playing some games, and then driving until 1am after a week of hotel sleep is not a very good deal. We especially ran into problems playing Puerto Rico because it has both a semi and a final and (at least at the time) the GM ran his event very slowly. I'm pretty sure one year Pounder didn't get home until 2am and that was after he'd gotten up at 9am to play PR. That sucked.

This year our plan was to wake up at 9:30, get the room packed as a group and get out by 10:30 or 11. It worked pretty reasonable with the only diversion being finding a copy of Vegas Showdown in the trunk. It was Andrew's, so I ran it down to him while Robb and Pounder were packing the car. (Duncan was playing PR so I knew where they'd be.) They wanted to set up a big group picture with the 6 of us but they were a little scattered and we were in a rush so I just left.

I'd spotted a Texas Roadhouse in some town a couple hours out of Lancaster (Williamsburg?) and our plan was to eat lunch there. It was open and had a free table so we got in and had lots of meat. Yum. We got back out on the 'highway' and found ourselves somehow behind Andrew's car. We passed them and waved. They then proceeded to follow us for hours. Turns out they really wanted that group picture after all! Eventually they made a sign and passed us to get their intentions across. We pulled off at the next exit that looked like it would sell coffee and got some strange lady in a parking lot to take our picture. Turned out the coffee shop was closed because why would you keep a coffee shop advertised on the highway exit signs open beyond 3pm? We made plans while pulled over to eat at a Swiss Chalet in Niagara somewhere and took off.

There was a traffic jam on the toll highway and then a 2 hour wait at the border. Leaving early actually didn't seem to be much help since it felt like we burned a lot of our saved time just sitting in a stopped car at the border. I feel like we'd probably be better off sleeping through checkout time in order to get extra sleep and dare the Host to notice and care. And then if someone wanted to play PR or Attack Sub or Ticket to Ride they could. I guess another option would be to find a place to eat on the US side of the border and hope the border clears up while we're sitting in a restaurant instead of while we're sitting in a car.

Or maybe it won't come up anymore? WBC is moving in 2016 to a place probably 2 hours closer for us. Also with better airport access, so flying down could make more sense. And it may well turn out we won't be driving regardless since Robb has moved to Seattle and it's looking more and more like I'll end up moving to New Brunswick soon.

Swiss Chalet turned out to have a deal where you could get two meals for a small discount. Andrew and Duncan shared one. So did Robb and Robb. I like Swiss Chalet because they don't make me sick. Hurray not getting sick!

We did get back much earlier than normal even with the border delays. Part of that was undoubtedly because I was staying in Pounder's basement instead of getting dropped off in Toronto which is 'on the way, honest'.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 WBC: Day 8

There are people who can spend an entire week playing tournament games with strangers and then still wake up at 9 in the morning to play Diplomacy. I am not one of those people. By the end of the week I tend to be pretty out of it. All I want to do is sleep, and avoid people. Eventually I will wake up and get bored of surfing the internet and head out to play games but I'm way less eager to do it than I am earlier in the week. This time I was also prompted to leave the room by the fact the room was either frigid or smelled funky. (Not because of the people in the room but likely because of mold in the hotel room. Moving to a ski resort is almost certainly going to be a good thing for me!)

The first game I ended up playing was Concordia at 5pm. This was Duncan's team game so I wasn't going to be allowed to play against him regardless of what happened so I volunteered to be the 'owner' of a library copy of the game which forced me to sit at a different table. I ended up at a table with Matt, Steve K, and a 4th guy I didn't recognize. I've only played this game twice. Steve said he's also played twice, and the other people had never played before. One if my plays was in opening gaming earlier in the week with Robb and Sceadeau and Pounder where I had to correct at least one rule that Sceadeau's group was playing wrong. I found out in the heat that we'd played that open gaming game with a different rule wrong! (We all started with 8 coins where the last player is supposed to start with 8 and each subsequent player starts with one fewer coin.) I'd found in the open gaming game that buying one of the Minerva cards for a resource you aren't going to aggressively go after was a bad plan so I decided to avoid doing so in this game. Unfortunately no one told this to the guy on my right who aggressively bought the Minerva cards for resources I was going after and he wasn't. He kept playing them too, for a production of one resource. This feels really bad to me since you should be able to use a normal production action to get more than one resource if you have any cities on the board. I think he just got trapped into thinking he should use all his cards if he could without thinking about if he should use them.

I made some pretty good card buys early on I think though I did feel like I messed up by never building a 3rd colonist. It slowed me down a lot, but I did get to buy some points by not saving those resources? Maybe that was ok. I haven't played enough to know! Ultimately I feel like I got a little screwed by tying my wagon to Matt's and he diverged on me. We start off by building in the same two zones as each other while the other two players went and built two cities in a single zone each. This was fine as long as a given cycle of production included both of our zones but Matt ended up splitting off and never producing for me again after the first turn. This may have been a good move on his part since I did produce for him a couple times after that? On the other hand I think we finished 2nd and 4th so it probably hurt us too much to ignore producing for each other. Steve ended up in a fantastic way as he got the cloth Minerva card and built in all the cloth cities pretty quickly. I feel like that card alone was the difference since it was worth 20 points and it let him take several really good production actions in the mid game which he used to transition into card buys and more cities. The game ended with score around 130-110-103-102. I was the 110, but too far behind Steve. This event was single elimination (a very odd format for a multiplayer Euro) so I was now out.

We went out to eat at Red Robin after this round. We were a group of 7ish, but we were in a bit of a hurry and some of us left without waiting around to see how many we were for sure. Sara, Andrew, Pounder and I walked over and the restaurant was packed. We asked if they had a table for 7 and they looked at the 4 of us and looked a little confused and indicated that they didn't so we just took a table for 4 and left the other people to fend for themselves when they arrived. It was the first time Andrew had been to Red Robin and he decided to make a bit of a mockery of the place by ordering a cheeseburger and having the waitress list all the possible cheese options. Then he got them all. Red Robin burgers are pretty greasy to start with (AND SO GOOD) so bumping the cheese up to 5 times as much as normal made a real mess of things. He had to eat it with a knife and fork since the bun sure wasn't built to absorb that much grease.

9pm was Facts in Five, a trivia game of sorts with a GM who goes all in on making it entertaining. I'm never going to win this event, but it's an hour and a half of good times. I'd complained last year about how too many of the categories were US centric so this time around they dedicated an entire round to countries of the world. Canada was a correct answer three times! Hurray! And thankfully more than half of our little Canadian contingent knew Canada had a female head of government at one point... Shame on those who didn't! SHAME!

11pm was Slapshot, but I headed off to play TOBOGGANS OF DOOM instead of Slapshot. There aren't many games that are objectively worse than TOBOGGANS OF DOOM but Slapshot is definitely one of them. We decided to play teams this time since we had 5 people. Robb and Pounder ended up scoring the most points but since Sara, Duncan, and I successfully jumped the SHARK ATTACK I think we were the real winners.

Robb and Pounder then had a El Grande good players only game scheduled so I went back to Andrew's hotel with him and Sara and Duncan to play games over there. We played Fast Flowing Forest Fellers but the other three pretty much fell asleep on the board as we were playing. I smoked them, probably due to actually being awake and alert. So no more games after that as they went to bed. I wasn't tired so I went and got my book (The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg) and read in the lobby for an hour or two. This let me say goodbye to a few people who wandered through the lobby but also meant I got to read in peace (and not-frigidness) for a bit too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2014 WBC: Day 7

Friday morning brought the finals for my team game, Le Havre. I was up against Pounder and a 3rd guy I didn't recognize. Thanks to the format for the tournament I again got to start in first seat due to my 2 wins in the heats. Pounder was the next highest seed so he was in second chair and I would again be fed by a 3rd guy who didn't have a history of success in the event. The first tile again had a wood on it and I got to start with 3 wood and the 4 cost building firm into marketplace. Unfortunately this time I was playing with someone else who really wanted to vendor the sawmill for half a wooden boat so Pounder jumped right into the marketplace. I think he'd first picked cash to buy the 6 cost building firm too, so he even got 3 things. In retrospect I now think maybe it's right to not build the marketplace, especially if someone else buys the 6 cost building firm. Maybe I should be first picking clay so I can grab a single iron and build the sawmill the hard way?

Anyway, the colliery was pretty easy to access in this game (under both the clay mound and black market) and I set up to get it. Pounder build the building on top of them, righty bought the clay mound, and I was able to buy the black market and construction firm up the colliery and the local court. Which I vendor shortly thereafter for a wooden boat of my own! Pounder is all in on operation use the colliery, and so is the 3rd guy, actually to the exclusion of taking what had always seemed like a required grab of 2 iron. Twice during the mid-game I got to take 3 iron offers... Now this does mean I was also turning down at least 2 shots at 2 iron, so it's not like people were going crazy. But I definitely had a ton of iron. I'd also managed to pull off a couple of big black market grabs (2 iron, 2 cows and 2 iron, 2 wood, 2 francs) which may have made the other players leery about taking 2 iron and giving up another black market play?

At one point I'd made 6 bricks because I had a bunch of clay and there were some good buildings available and then I made a double build of cokery and steel mill. I'm not sure how right that was. They are worth 40 points combined which is a pretty good action, but it also meant I was going to be at the end of the line for converting coal to coke and then iron to steel. The coal totals were something like 21 for Pounder, 17 for me, and 9 for the 3rd guy? (One of the special buildings let you convert food to coal and charcoal and Pounder killed his cows in order to use that building while I did not.) The iron totals were more like 2 for Pounder, 3 for 3rd guy, 6 for me so I felt like even getting to make stuff 3rd it would probably still work out ok for me. Then the town built a special building (I never once used the marketplace so I didn't know what could be coming) and the steel works hit. 15 energy and one iron for two steel. Pounder now suddenly had a really good way to get the stuff for multiple steel ships. This felt like a real problem for me and I went into the tank. I ended up deciding I had no way to handle it and just bought it so I'd at least get some entry fee action back. Pounder went to it and was able to snag the first steel ship. Then he went back for 2 more and could get the second one. I ended up getting to make my coke and decided that rather than wait around for the 3rd steel ship I'd just ship a bunch of coke and buy the second one. I did later build the 4th one as well.

As the game wound down I ended up counting up my symbols and found I had almost all of the bank related symbols and was able to buy it for a profit. I don't think I mentioned it, but I did the same thing in the semifinals with the town hall. Rarely is it ever worthwhile to pay the hugely inflated prices for those buildings but I got to do it two games in a row. Woo!

I ended up breaking 300 for the 3rd game in a row. Pounder came in at around 276 and the 3rd guy was around 200. Victory!

Pounder and I then headed to the Agricola room to play in the noon heat. We arrived and most of the players were already seated even though we were about 5 minutes early. I guess the Agricola crowd is a lot of eager beavers. Unfortunately for us the GM had underestimated how many tables he'd need and we ended up standing around with Sceadeau and it looking like we would all have to play each other despite showing up on time for the heat. This is contrast to the previous heat where they'd started too many tables and I was going to get stuck at a 5 player game until Elaine stepped up for us. This heat ended up having a few more people straggle in and they were able to start 2 tables from those of us standing around. I get the desire for efficiency but it does feel like pre-pairing people before knowing how many games will need to happen is error prone. But I guess for most people it probably worked out great?

I ended up at a table with Pounder, Steve LeWinter, and a 4th I don't remember. I didn't get the guildmaster this game so I didn't know what to do. In fact, I don't remember a single thing about this game. Except that I came 3rd and Steve won.

I could have gone to play Spyrium or Stone Age but the right choice was definitely to eat. Pounder, Sceadeau, and I walked to Red Robin and Elaine met us there with their car. I tried out their salted caramel milkshake because I love salt on everything. Except, it turns out, in a milkshake. It was not very tasty and I didn't drink very much of it at all. The burger was delicious though!

I then could have gone to play Wits & Wagers but decided to chill in the room for a bit. That got boring and I eventually wandered down and found that Pounder, Robb, Sara, and Duncan were a team for Wits & Wagers and there was a spare chair right beside them... Ok, fine, Wits & Wagers it is! I got to the game in time to share my wisdom about fish. The fastest fish in the world definitely clocked in at a massive FOUR miles per hour! We ended up losing everything at the end but that's ok because the rules are made up and the points don't matter!

Following Wits & Wagers was potentially the Agricola semifinals. Would a 1st, a 2nd, and a 3rd be good enough to advance? Turns out the answer was yes! The semifinals were going to use the WM deck mixed in with the E, I, and K decks. This was going to be a problem for me since I've never seen WM cards. Daniel showed me a few of the better ones but then I got thrown into the deep end. I started off by taking a guy that lets you get an extra building resource each time you take building resources but you have to spread them out on the board to collect later. Turning reed+stone+food into reed+stone+stone+food felt good to me, so I decided to run it. I then got passed guildmaster (that guy's good with extra stone!) and then stonecutter! I now had a plan for my game. Collect some stone and try to buy all of the stone things. The minor were passed the other way and the guy passing to me (Rob, the GM) made a comment about how he was really hooking me up with one card in his pack. I looked through the 6 cards and couldn't see anything amazing. There was a baking tray that would combo very well with my stonecutter... But there was also a WM card that looked very confusing. It was a ram that ate food each harvest and cost a sheep to play but counted as a sheep for breeding and scoring. It also let you breed sheep 4 extra times during the game. A single stable would be enough to let the ram and a sheep breed up an extra sheep for 2 food over and over again. Assuming you had a fireplace anyway. I assumed that since it was the card I didn't recognize and that the pack had a 'bomb' in it that it must be that card and took it. It turns out that was a mistake. Maybe I was getting pranked? Rob later said baking tray was the bomb card though it ended up going 4th and went unplayed. I sure wish I'd had it though since it would have been awesome with my stonecutter. *sigh* I then took a card that lets you demolish a built wooden room for 7 fences. You have to build fences before you reno but if you pull that off it feels really good. I used that to get enough space to breed sheep normally and didn't really need the bonus from the ram. I eventually played him because I'm stubborn and it was a minor food bonus (and a point) but taking him over the baking tray probably cost me the game. I also ended up with the cabinetmaker (4 wood if guildmaster is already in play) and the village well. My game plan was pretty clear. Collect lots of resources and build as many majors as I could get my grubby little hands on.

It worked out pretty well, though I misplayed at one point. I had the resources to build the pottery and I wanted to play guildmaster. If I build pottery first and then play guildmaster I get 2 clay. If I do it the other way I get 4 clay. 4 is bigger than 2! Unfortunately I played guildmaster and then Rob snap bought the pottery. I actually needed the 2 food from the pottery to feed myself that round and ended up having to take 3 food off traveling players instead. Doing it the other way safeties the contract and might have been enough in and of itself to win me the game. Certainly if I had baking tray I feel like I'd have won the game. As it is I ended up coming a pretty close 3rd, and then probably only because no one else at the table had read one of the cards played by the guy on my right. It made a single cow into a 4 point play for him and other people could have taken it as a good point action for themselves and screwed him. Considering how close the game was that was probably the difference. The guy on my right (Eric) ended up winning by a point over Rob who was a couple points ahead of me. I do feel like with more practice (and having ever seen the WM deck) I probably win that game. Oh well. There's always next year?

This game finished in time for Liar's Dice so I ran off to play at a table with Robb, Sceadeau, Pounder, Elaine, and Andy Latto. Robb smoked us and then chose more Liar's Dice over Waffle House. Mistakes! Waffle House so good!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 WBC: Day 6

Thursday morning brought the second heat of my team game. I knew the format this year for Le Havre had changed to preferentially play 3 player games in all rounds and I wanted to do what I could to make sure the semis and finals got as close to exactly 9 people as I could. The first heat had 6 games, which meant 6 winners. Assuming the second heat had the same attendance that would make 12 winners which sure looks like 4 player games in the semis to me. So I decided that I wanted to play to knock someone else out to limit the winners to 11. I also really like the game and haven't played it enough so I wanted to play it again anyway. It also turns out that the listed format for the event included information on seeding for the semis and finals so winning a second game would keep me from having to play other people who won 2 games in the semis and would actually also guarantee I get 1st seat in the semis unless there were at least 4 double winners. So it was a really, really good idea to play a second heat.

I showed up close to 9 after once again stopping by the Coke machine for some morning caffeine. This time the Coke bottle said I should share a Coke with Nick. I took that to be a good sign! I wander into the room where Le Havre is setting up and Mike Kaltman accosts me for coming in to play. He has apparently already convinced Daniel Eppolito to skip this heat in order to play Ra Dice in the same room. (I wonder if as assistant GM he told Daniel about the seeding plan and how advantageous it would be to win a second heat? He sure didn't tell me.) Mike tries his best to dissuade me from playing which feels like a really bad thing for someone to do. I get why he did it (he lost his first heat and needed to win this one to advance and his odds of doing so go down if Daniel or I get placed at his table) but it really rubs me the wrong way. So when I get assigned a seat and it's at Mike's table I get a grin on my face.

It ends up being a 3 player game and I get 1st chair. I buy my 4 cost building firm and pick up wood. I build the marketplace. I go to the marketplace. I get the sawmill. I sell it with something else (probably wood at the joinery, maybe a franc offer) to get a wooden boat. Pretty standard stuff. I set it up so the first or second special building to drop is the farm. This building has a 1 franc entry fee and pays out 2 wood, 2 fish, 2 grain, 1 cow, and 1 hide. This was still early enough in the game that 3 wood is a near instant grab... Would you trade a wood for 5 things? I would! And did, a couple of different times. I didn't take a grain offer or a cow offer and got set up to harvest that stuff from the farm. No one else at my table was willing to do so. I don't really understand why. Getting 4 extra things to ship (the grain and cows) for an early action is pretty good and it's a way to get some of the extra wood people desperately crave in the early game. Sure, fish suck, but when they come as an add-on it's fine. (I will also note that in Mike's recap of the event he talks about how he thinks the game is stale and boring because everyone does the same things to win and the special buildings aren't important enough. But I thought this special building was important enough and I do think going to it gave me an early edge that eventually snowballed into a bunch of points.)

The early game is also about setting up to be the person who gets to build the colliery. I did some mental math and worked out that I wasn't going to be able to build the colliery until the town built a building to unlock it, and that Mike was going to get first crack at building after the town did so. He had the resources on hand to build it, so things were looking a little bleak for me. But then he took a build action and spent a bunch of his resources... Even worse for him, he built the building that was blocking the colliery. I was now the one in line to get the colliery, and super early too. I did, and I used it a ton while the other players often skipped their chances to use it.

From that point it was pretty much all over. I got all of the things and scored all of the points. I think it was my highest score ever, well over 300. The third player at the table commented on how her 186ish point total was also her highest score ever. I feel like that's what happens when the table essentially colludes to power the colliery out fast. The early colliery action combined with the early farm meant I really wasn't taking offers at the rate you'd normally expect in a game. This let all the offers build up more for everyone which means all the scores are going to go up. The more actions the table takes to earn resources without taking an offer the higher the scores should go. The game was also super fast and was done in under 2 hours. I don't know how much of that was the table giving up from my early lead and just going through the motions? Or how much of it was us all just being naturally fast players?

I considered going to play something like Galaxy Trucker at noon but decided I'd rather tool around a bit on the internet and then go eat. I ended up bumping into Sceadeau and Elaine and baby and we headed off to Red Robin. It was here while Sceadeau was talking to the waitress about sides that I discovered that even though the steamed carrots were taken off of the menu they still exist in the restaurant and I could totally get some instead of the random fruit salad. Hurray!

4 o'clock came around and it was time for two different semifinals. I could play Le Havre, my team game, or I could play Galaxy Trucker. Had to be my team game! I hope next year these games end up scheduled at times that don't conflict with each other so I can do both. It was now that I really figured out just how important it was that I played that second heat. They used a wonky formula to break ties and I'm not sure how relevant it was? It had something to do with percentage of points at the table or something but my numbers were pretty low. I feel like beating Nick Vayn in the first heat should have been worth more than crushing people who really didn't know what they were doing like Pounder did in his heat but his tiebreaker ended up way higher than mine. I'm not sure if there would have been a better way to do it? Randomly amongst people who didn't play a second heat maybe? Really encourage everyone to play twice... Anyway, I ended up being the only double winner so I was the #1 seed and would get to be starting player in every game. Unfortunately for me Daniel E ended up as the #6 seed because he didn't play (and win) a second heat. This meant that we were, once again, matched up in the semifinals. Along with the #7 seed who was not nearly as experienced with the game as we were. As another advantage of the seeding system it was mandated that we sat in order 1-6-7 which meant random guy would be playing immediately before me. Hurray!

I started by taking 3 wood and buying the 4 cost building firm. Daniel took dollars and didn't buy anything. (I figured he was probably saving up to buy a boat.) 3rd player took a wheat. I built the marketplace on my turn. Then the 3rd guy took 3 clay on Daniel's turn. Daniel cracked a sarcastic joke about how he was playing the game. 3rd guy responded by putting the 3 clay in front of Daniel instead of back on the board. This prompted another sarcastic remark about how Daniel might want to make his own moves and then he made a big show of going into the tank to consider all the possible options. Parsing the order of the buildings for colliery plays, that sort of thing. He eventually settled on taking the 3 clay. 3rd guy took some wood and then I went to the marketplace for clay, iron, coal. Daniel immediately remarked that he'd made a mistake by taking the clay and he'd thrown away the game due to rust. 3rd guy would have nothing of it, thinking my position was not very good and saying things about how he routinely crushes people who vendor the sawmill for a boat. This seemed like a ridiculously statement for him to make, especially since he'd commented when he sat down about how he only plays 4 player games and has never played with only 3. He'd asked us for the differences and we'd honestly told him the important stuff. I guess he decided we had to be wrong since I was making a play for the important stuff and he thought I was making a mistake.

To make a long story short... I was not making a mistake. I don't know that I was guaranteed to win after turn 2 or anything but I'd definitely put my odds much higher than those of the other players. And I did end up winning by a pretty significant margin, again scoring over 300 points and winning by 50 or 60 over Daniel and 150 over the 3rd guy.

The game wasn't terribly interesting after the opening. Daniel played very slowly which is a difference from previous years but I think he was trying to find a line of play to dig himself out of the early hole he was in from my early strength. I got the colliery when Daniel parsed out that I was guaranteed to get it and gave up on trying to block my build of it. He instead went to it once and squatted for a long time. He finally moved, told the 3rd guy it was his turn to go in and squat, and that's what the 3rd guy tried to do. Unfortunately for them the next special building was the harbour watch I'd carefully preserved on top of the deck. Daniel said he considered vendoring one of his buildings solely to go to my marketplace to check for a dangerous building because I'd checked to see who got first crack to buy this one. But it wasn't me who had first crack, and I would have first crack next time, so it was entirely possible I'd done it in order to bury something away from 3rd guy. And it would have been costly to give up on his other action and lose a building for a couple goods and some information. It was probably only right solely when the top building was precisely harbour watch. But it was, and it meant the plan of squat in the colliery was thrown out the window. Even worse, 3rd guy didn't understand how powerful the building was and failed to buy it. I did. Which meant I could use my own colliery for 1 franc any time I wasn't personally the one inside. Daniel also made use of the harbour watch to kick me out of the colliery every now and then. Third guy refused to do so. Either because he didn't want to give me stuff or more likely because he simply didn't understand what was going on. He also flat our refused to build a boat. He sat around making food in order to feed himself every round instead of getting a boat. It was baffling. I even reminded him at one point that I had a modernized wharf since he had a lot of iron in front of him but he didn't care. He'd rather pay Daniel a franc to smoke 6 more fish or to slaughter more cows. I actually thought during the game that he was flat out trying to kingmake Daniel because of how much he refused to take actions that were good for him if they would give me anything. Maybe to prove Daniel wrong with his early game assertion that I'd already won? But in retrospect he might just have been _really_ bad. I can't figure out any other reason to refuse to build boats. No boats means no shipping. What are you doing to score points if you never ship? Build stuff I guess, but he wasn't building a lot of things. He was spending all his time feeding himself!

We were really close to running out of time and played the last turns in a frenzy since we all had somewhere else to be. We barely finished in time and Daniel and I took off for the Agricola room. I was a little slower since I stuck around to haggle over moving the finals of Le Havre first. We decided not to move it since I wanted to play Agricola and the only time the other guy wanted was during it.

I showed up to Agricola, pulled a card, and was again assigned to a table with Bill Crenshaw. We were the only two people at said table. I think they'd overestimated how many people were going to show up for the round and ended up starting too many tables. They started consolidating tables on a whim and then decided to just break my table of 2 down and stick us into 5 player games. Bill was uninterested in playing a 5 player game and I was more concerned with the way the tables were being chosen for getting an extra person. Any table that had started fast was getting exempt, which seemed to be rewarding faster people or people who showed up extra early to the detriment of those who'd started later. While a small debate was breaking out over this between the GM and the assistant GM a 3rd guy showed up. I'd have thought that would mean we'd play a 3 player game but now they wanted to form up 3 games of 5. But they'd been convinced it should be random amongst all tables so they were going to force some games to restart with us added in unless a 4th for our table showed up right that instant. Elaine happened to be standing around and while she didn't really want to play she decided to run it in order to make people happy. Yay Elaine!

I opened this draft with guildmaster once again, but this time I was passed charcoal burner second. I'll say straight up I was pretty bad at Agricola until very recently, but one thing I knew back in the day was that charcoal burner was very good. He's guaranteed to be 4 wood and 4 food at the very least and can often be even more than that if people upgrade to cooking hearths. It turns out Sceadeau thinks he's in the top 3 non-banned cards so getting passed him either means righty opened a ridiculous pack or he's bad. I ended up also drafting a slaughterman so I was all set up to get free food from my other players all game long. My minors opened with a house goat which I've long thought to be the best minor. More completely free food and a point to boot on a card you can use to start player early. Run it! My opening pack had a two card combo (ladder and chicken coop I think) and I made a note to take one of those on the wheel if the other was gone to keep them out of the same person's hands. We'd drafted a bunch of cards when Bill stopped the draft to ask righty about what he was doing... Righty had already drafted 5 cards and was looking at a pack containing 3 more. In a draft where you're supposed to get 7 cards. We really didn't know what had happened. Did he take two cards from one pack? Did he somehow pick up multiple packs at once and combine them weirdly? Everyone's draft ended up screwed up and we didn't have a good solution. Rather than call the GM we tried a quick fix Bill suggested which didn't work and resulted in needing another quick fix. Eventually we all got 7 cards and since we were pretty sure the first few picks were fine we were probably good to go... Halfway through the game Bill played chicken coop after already playing ladder and alarm bells went off in my head. I hadn't seen either of those cards back! How did he get both of them? Maybe Bill had cheated? Far more likely righty had taken one of them and then put it back into a different pack somehow. The whole thing was screwed up. Whatever, it wasn't that good of a combo anyway, just keep running it.

Especially since as badly as righty had screwed up the draft... He'd screwed up the play even more. At one point he tried to take 3 clay when there was a 4 clay space on the board. We let him take that back. Later he tried to plow with plow and sow available. We let him take that back. Finally he set up to reno and fenced on turn 14. Then he renoed on 13 and took wood on 14, letting me fence. He couldn't reno anymore because he was stone and he couldn't fence because I took the space. We didn't let him take that one back since it wasn't a strictly wrong choice. Wrong in retrospect once he knows I'm taking fences but if he was getting to fence later he wanted the extra wood. I'm sure he made lots of other misplays along the way which set me up, too.

I ended up winning by a fair margin, but losing fences probably knocks me to second. Since his major screwup should have still let me build fences I didn't lose any sleep over it. He was guaranteed reno+fences so I was safe to snag fences in 14 regardless.

I could have played pro golf but I decided I didn't really want to learn it what with having a final for my team game at 9am the next morning. I tried to go to bed early but Pounder ruined it for me by making me count my calories from the day and telling me I was too hungry and had to go to Waffle House at 11. Him telling me that made me hungry so I had to get out of bed and go eat more pork chops. I'm pretty sure he did it because he was also in the Le Havre finals and was trying to sabotage my sleeping plans! And not at all because I actually needed to eat...

Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 WBC: Day 5

Wednesday marks the first real full day at WBC. Robb was GMing Innovation at 9am and Pounder chose it as his team game so they were both going to be there. Having now beaten two of my old team at their team games I had to come on down and try to take Pounder out at his. It was held in a particularly cold room and made me very sad. I almost went back to the hotel room to get my warm blanket. I'm strongly considering tracking down a Snuggie for next year! It's like the Host took our complaints about no AC too far and went way overboard to screw us. Or just to screw me? Other people were complaining about the cold but it didn't seem like anyone was as bothered as I was. I miss being warm.

Anyway, Innovation at 9am. I was matched up with a nice young woman who is working on her phd. My Coke bottle for the morning told me to share it with Jess and my opponent's name was Jessica. Close enough? Maybe if it was later in the day, but at 9am off of not much sleep that Coke was mine and mine alone. Take your sharing advice elsewhere, bottle of Coke! The game itself featured me drawing Mathematics early on and running it over and over. I never flipped up another blue card until I was all the way up to the 10s. I was behind in score so I couldn't just drain the 10s, but I activated Satellites over and over until I pulled something that put out more 10s that happened to be Self Service or something that said I won. Jessica was stuck back in the 4s. I didn't see any of her cards as being capable of stealing my stuff so I'm not sure what outs she might have had. I don't play much Innovation but I have played a fair number of times online and I generally found that a full Math ramp was just game winning and it sure seemed to be this game.

Round 2 had been blanked out of my mind. I assume I lost the brain cells storing that information due to frostbite. I don't remember how we got to the end game situation but I know I ended up with both Software and Robotics in play and had to draw, meld, and activate another 10. If it was AI then I was going to lose the same way Sceadeau lost in the mulligan round. Fortunately it was The Internet instead which instantly won me the game instead of instantly losing me the game. Hurray!

I won round 3 as well, but really don't remember it. At some point Pounder got a bye (as he should since he was last year's winner) but for round 4 we were down to 5 people and now Robb wanted to switch to using an eliminator instead of using byes. Eliminators instead of byes is preferred, but you're supposed to use them the whole time if you use them at all. I voiced this concern but seemed to be the only one with a problem so off we went. I believe every eliminator used ended up losing so it was a lot like awarding byes anyway? Assuming no one got a second one? I ended up losing in the round of 5 against another competitor so it didn't much matter to me!

I am very frustrated about that loss because I was in such a dominating position and had a play to win but missed it. I got out to 5 early achievements but then my opponent's better board finally took over and he was able to start scoring a bunch of special achievements and was about to score the 6 and put things really out of reach. I had a chance to win by running coal and flipping up a card of any of 3 colours. (I had 30+ points but needed a top card that was a 6 to achieve the 6 and win. I had 3 piles with exactly 2 cards in them and the 5 pile was empty so if I pull one of those colours I win. I didn't. I then had to just draw a 6 and hope to move on somehow. The 6 was industrialization which let me start splaying my limited number of cards. I then set up to get monument by tucking 6 cards in a turn but my opponent using lighting twice the turn before I could do it. He was up to 5 achievements and was easily going to get the 8 on his turn (he had a 8 in hand) and win. I was 3 clocks from an achievement and decided to try a random 'meld a card' action in the hopes of getting them. What I should have done is activated industrialization to tuck 3 cards and hope the 3 cards I tucked had clocks on them. This at least had a chance to work out, because I'd seen a bunch of the 8s and knew some clocks were left. My blue wasn't splayed but I had metric system in play and could have easily splayed it as my second action if I'd hit both blue 8s. It turned out they were both on top of the 8 pile and it would have been the win if I'd tried it. But because I tried the other thing first it didn't work and I lost. *sigh*

I hate losing on my own mistakes so I went back to the room to cool down. I think I stayed there until 3 when I left for Agricola. I've been playing a few games online recently with Sceadeau letting me know how I'm terrible so I've been getting better but I'm certainly not good at the game. I ended up at a table with Bill Crenshaw and a couple of people I didn't recognize. I opened the draft with guildmaster, got a second pick basketmaker (which Sceadeau later told me I likely could have wheeled 6th since he's awful for anyone without a guildmaster) and then a third pick social climber. This gave me a course of action to take since as long as I set up to renovate early and build majors I'd get 6 free stone, 4 free wood, 4 free clay, and 6 free reed from 3 occupations. Felt good! Bill ended up building the basketmaker's workshop on me but I got the other two guild buildings and all the renos fairly early. I built a lot of early fences (I think I used sawhorse to get 15 out for 10 wood) and ended up with a ludicrous number of animals. Milking stool and cowherd combined to let me get 8 cows for 4 bonus points. I thought I'd done really well.

It turns out the two guys I didn't recognize were doing the opposite of well and Bill was reaping the rewards better than I was? Or maybe equivalently to me. He also ended up with lots of animals and a stone house and all the things. He won by 2 points, and I had a completely wasted action in the middle where I built the punner after Bill had used his 2-shot plow once and then conspired to block him from using it a second time. Action and a wood for no game effect makes me sad. What really makes me sad is righty had taken start player that round for no discernible reason that I could see which kept me from playing the punner as an add-on action, and prevented me from playing it before Bill plowed. In retrospect I probably should have just plowed myself? That forces Bill to wait at least a turn on plowing and gives me more time to pun it up. Oh well.

At 6pm I played a heat of Ra Dice because it was in the same room as Agricola and why not? I came tied for second at a table where the winner spent the whole game ragging on how I was going to win by pointing at my monuments and making up ludicrous numbers for how many points they were going to be worth. It left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but whatever. It was short at least!

At 8pm I decided to give Galaxy Trucker a spin. Sceadeau and Duncan were both talking about how great the first heat had been so I went to give it a shot. I was put into a 3 player game with a copy of the game that included the first expansion. I was up against last year's 2nd place finisher all the way from Russia (Ashley) and someone I didn't recognize. We decided to play with all the things even though I'd never used some of them before and had to have them explained to me. On top of a normal game we all got a hand of 4 extra events to seed into the event deck one per round. Also before each round (but after seeding an event) we flipped up an extra card that modified the rules of the game. It sure made for extra craziness which is a good thing for Galaxy Trucker. Crazy ho!

The first round had the extra card 'if a laser or meteor doesn't do damage reroll it up to twice' which I took to mean I'd really need to defend my ship well. But it was round 1, so how much defending can you really do? There isn't really space for shields... No open connectors was my primary goal. The event I'd seeded caused two large meteors to attack each ship but instead of rolling they'd hit the two outside ends of your ship. So I knew I had to build lasers on my outside columns. I ended building a pretty mediocre ship since it had nothing battery powered at all (no shields or anything) but I'd included a bunch of batteries on the ship. Also no red cargo space. On the plus side I had lots of guns which worked out pretty well. The random guy at my table was down to 5 pieces on his ship when my event went off... It killed 3 of those! He was eventually lost in open space. Ashley hadn't built guns on the outside ends of her ship so my card blew two of her things up (including some cargo). Woo! My guns were still intact at that point so I escaped unscathed. I ended up scoring fewer points for the round than Ashley did since she had cargo space and I didn't but it was fairly close. The other guy had taken the lawyer card so he didn't lose very much. In retrospect the lawyer had died so I'm pretty sure he shouldn't have been able to use it and should have lost a lot of money.

The second round had the extra card 'you can build engines pointing forwards and backwards and after resolving open space you need to rotate your ship 180 degrees'. I seeded an event that caused people to lose 7 flight days or run a gauntlet of meteors. Before flipping a single tile both Ashley and I looked at 75% of the cards in the round to scout for open space. There was one such card... Which meant we would be flipping at least once and if the remaining 25% had an open space in it we'd die if we didn't build some forward pointing engines. This meant our ships ended up being really awkward looking since we had to have guns and engines pointing both ways. Super awkward for me since I'd seeded an event with a big meteor from the side so I wanted guns on the sides of my ship too. In retrospect I should have put a big priority on getting aliens for my ship since they provide +2 to guns or engines regardless of which way the ship is pointing. I ended up with no aliens at all but lots of guns pointing all sorts of ways. I'd included a bunch of ways to spend batteries this time (some shields and a lot of those guns were double guns) but only 4 or 5 batteries total on the ship. Lots of the cards were attack cards and my batteries were quickly drained holding them off. I kept exactly tying the enemies power and not spending the battery to kill them to conserve batteries but it was for naught. I ended up running out of batteries and then getting into trouble because I couldn't power my guns. On the plus side pushing the enemies down the line ended up hurting both other players too, so that was nice. Someone had seeded a card stealing money for aliens. Clearly they'd thought ahead more than I had! Safe due to no aliens! I think I ended up making the most points this round because I picked up a fair amount of cargo and didn't take too much damage. At one point an event resolved that let the person in the back shoot the person ahead of them and then the person in second shoot the leader. But you could name a bribe to not take the damage... I was in the middle and feel like I played it wrong since I ended up paying to keep bits that later got blown off while Ashley didn't pay my bribe for her bits that later got blown off.

The third round was going to be for all the marbles and had the extra card 'pay a dollar for each crew member at the end of the run' which didn't feel like it was going to hurt all that much but really made me want to put a priority on aliens and luxury cabins for crew instead of regular crew. My event was a battery testing thing where you had to pay a battery for every 2 pieces of your ship that could use batteries or have them blow off your ship. I knew that meant I wanted to limit my battery usage and went with just 2 shields and a shield booster along with a fair number of shields. Not having any way to make large amounts of weapon power or battery power (by skipping all the battery stuff) meant I really, really wanted aliens. I ended up with all 3 aliens and took the manager blue alien to make my other aliens better. I screwed up building my ship (we were using the Enterprise and my first placement made it so I couldn't make a circle for the saucer section) but my ship ended up being really, really good. Some cargo space, some batteries, all the aliens, all the shields, a few engines, and a TON of weapons. The round started off brutally for Ashley as the first couple cards were combat zones where she lost two categories and the other guy lost one. Ashley lost a bunch of bits from laser fire and spent a bunch of batteries. Then some pirates or something came that were going to steal cargo. I was able to exactly tie them so I was fine, but the other two couldn't fight them off and had no cargo to steal so they lost batteries. Then we did something that set me back a day to collect a reward which put Ashley back out in front. More pirates, these ones with guns, and weak enough that I killed them for bucks after they shot her up. She was flat out of batteries by now... Which meant it was prime time for my seeded card to come up. She couldn't pay for any of her things that used batteries since she had none left so all those bits exploded. Since we were using the Enterprise ship and since she'd lost a fair number of pieces already this meant a lot of the load bearing pieces left on her ship were battery related... She lost something like 7 battery related pieces and probably 5 others. Not too long after a meteor swarm took her out for good. And the other guy too, for that matter. I got to play the last 4 or 5 cards by myself.

Final scores were 81-2-(-3). The guy took lawyer twice and used him after he died so I have a feeling the scores probably should have been 81-(-3)-(-40). I don't know that I played super well, and I certainly don't think I played that much better than Ashley did, but she got pummeled early in age 3 and couldn't recover. She also built a ship that lost to my event... But maybe that's by design? If I'm aggressively taking batteries and spurning pieces that don't use batteries then it feels like the pieces left for the other players are likely to cost batteries to use without having extra batteries to go around? So maybe the disaster in the last round was a result of good play after all?

At any rate, I had fun in this game and decided I really wanted to play it again at WBC if I could. But since the semis were at the same time as my team game's semis that wasn't actually going to happen. Maybe next year will be different? I'd like to play more with all the crazy cards...

11pm was Can't Stop (Looking Fabulous) so I put on my watermelon getup (green shirt, pink tie, black pants) and went to roll dice. Andrew had been talking all week about how he was going to prove that Can't Stop is a heavy skill game by winning it. I lost in the first round. So did he. He got one turn. Someone at his table capped the 6s, 7s, and 8s all in one turn thanks to some goading from Andrew. Whatever high skill game. Whatever.

I don't think I'd eaten all day so Waffle House featured Papa Joe's pork chops, meat lovers size. It's a little surprising but Waffle House actually makes a pretty good pork chop. 3 pork chops and some hash browns is a pretty good meal.