Un Chien Andalou

A gaming blog about nothing in particular -- disjointed -- although there will be much about abstract strategy, pyramid games, and Euro-abstracts.

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An Milk Crate Challenge

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I came across a post that hits close to my personal gaming joys; fitting game collections into dimensions of differing sizes and constraints. This time the dimension of choice is the beloved milk crate. While I didn't have a crate myself, I did have a container close to the required dimensions of 16.5" long, 13.5" wide, and 10.5" tall... an Ikea foldable shelf box.

The challenge started easily with the two games that absolutely had to go in: Pyramid Arcade and Sticheln.

From gallery of fogus


With the easy ones out of the way it was time to start stuffing! The big-box games came first. It was a tough choice because I had to leave some of my favorites on the bench like Blockers, San Quentin Kings, Europa Universalis and Harzbahn 1873. That said, I was able to fit Mushroom Eaters, Cave Evil, the entire 1825 series (with expansions -- cheating!), Morels, and Klunker.

From gallery of fogus


The next layer was to fill in the gaps amongst the differing box heights which allowed me to add The King of Frontier, Arkham Noir #1, my current favorite Bohnanza, Explosiv, Grand Slam Baseball, and the aforementioned Sticheln:

From gallery of fogus


With the level nearly straight I was able to place a few more games into the "crate" like Fjords, Proton, Pico and Pico 2, Cinq-O, Krakatoa, my MtG commander deck, Doppelt und Dreifach, Fluxx, Loco!, Potato Man, Throne and the Grail, a Ross Clan deck to play Haggis, and Trick of the Rails:

From gallery of fogus


Finally, there was only a little bit of space left to jam games into and to stay close to the lip of the "crate" opening but I was able to get in Candy Chaser (I wish I had the original version) and Hol's de Geier:

From gallery of fogus


This is pretty close to a "bug-out-bag" selection of my collection though I may need another crate to get to that ideal (future post?!). As always this was a fun little exercise.

What's in your "crate"?
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Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:28 pm
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PnP as Pandemic Arts & Crafts

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During the pandemic I've taken more time to engage in solo-gaming (like many others) but aside from that I've tried to stick to creative activities -- creating / playing music, card game design, basic electronics, code, writing, and even some Print-n-Play arts and crafts.

From gallery of fogus


Above is my ongoing build of everyone's favorite lightweight Euro about prison economics, San Quentin Kings. Typically for these kinds of games I like to print the colored board and such at a place like Staples using their high-end color printers but since I'm avoiding such places if at all possible I may try my hand at a hand-drawn and painted board.

From gallery of fogus


Above you'll find where I stand on an 18EU build. I got as far as the shares and trains and have lost my will to continue with the track tiles. Sigh. Maybe I'll cut the charters first and see if I can muster the will to cut 60,000 hexagons (give or take).

From gallery of fogus


I have a bunch of old card decks laying around that I may cut into to make a few pocket Khmer decks with rules to send out to friends for the holidays. I lost my first pocket set so minimally I'll need to make another.

Board Game: Decktet


For my design thinking I'm inspired to create a Mystery-Rummy-esque game called Who Killed Marilyn but I have to get around to diving into that system a bit more. I also have a little Decktet recipe-matching game called Recippipes in the old idea tumbler that is a bit too dry at the moment. Finally, seeing that Cameron Browne's Ludii was released to the public has motivated me to dig up a few abstract designs to see if I could encode them for the engine. It should be a fun exercise in any case.

From gallery of fogus


As always, my Yaniv and Quinto AIs are in constant flux and slowly moving toward base competence in their respective games.

Stay safe everyone!
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Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:17 pm
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Onward to war (games)

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To answer the question "what brought you to the wargaming hobby" I decided to create a GeekList to answer that very question.

Onward to war (games)

In summary:

Board Game: War
Board Game: Poker
Board Game: Family Feud
Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Baseball

RPG: Basic Dungeons & Dragons
Board Game: Civilization
Board Game: Risk
Video Game: M.U.L.E.

Video Game: Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987)
Video Game: Earl Weaver Baseball
Board Game: Chess
Video Game: SimCity (1989)

Board Game: Magic: The Gathering
Board Game: Diplomacy
RPG: Over the Edge (1st & 2nd Editions)
Board Game: Go

Board Game: Fluxx
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Board Game: Imperial
Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons

Board Game: Tactics II
From gallery of calandale
Board Game: Israeli Independence: The First Arab-Israeli War
Board Game: Tetrarchia

Board Game: Agricola, Master of Britain
Board Game Publisher: Hollandspiele
Board Game: Gettysburg
Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan

Board Game: Pax Pamir
Board Game Publisher: Sierra Madre Games
Board Game: Europa Universalis
Board Game: Here I Stand

Board Game: 7 Ages
From gallery of Herr Dr
Board Game: Empires of the Middle Ages
Board Game: Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Collision 1240-1242
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Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:59 pm
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If you like _______ then you might like ______ $¥ For-Ex ¥$ edition

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One of my favorite games is the "If you like ______ then you might like ______" games. Simply put, you and some friends (and drinks and the like) list things that you like and everyone chimes in with other things that are like said thing or at least in the spirit of that thing. As a lark I preset a pictorial version of that game using For-Ex as the main subject. This is an attempt to divorce the game from the designer and/or series in order to branch out into other interesting games, genres, and media.

BEHOLD!

From gallery of fogus


Feel free to shout out other things that fit into the picture above or even add your own picture with your own groupings on an entirely different topic all together.

Some examples that might fit above:

"If you like For-Ex then you might like So Long Sucker."

"If you like Rolling Stock then you might like Black Monday."

"If you like Take it Easy then you might like Cartagena."

"If you like APL the you might like Forth."

"If you like Wu Hsing then you might like Hyle."

"If you like Cribbage AND For-Ex then you might like Bridgette."

And so on and so forth...

see the other posts in the If You Like ______ series
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Mon May 18, 2020 7:04 pm
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The 5th annual Lead Geek Awards

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The Golden Wingspan...errrrr...Geek Awards were just announced, and while there are some good games in the mix I think that I'd like to take a swing at my own choices -- yet once again. Therefore, I present my highly-scientific, totally made-up, categories and choices below.

From gallery of fogus

Pencil art by Cindy Chinn

Heavy Game of the Year: Westphalia

Board Game: Westphalia
Board Game: Westphalia
Board Game: Westphalia


I've said it once and I'll say it again:

People are the ultimate in depth.

Adhering to that dictum is seems Westphalia, a game for exactly six players. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic I had an opportunity to play a regular game of a Sidereal Confluence with five other players. When I learned of Westphalia I thought that group would be a perfect fit for such a game. I was not wrong. Indeed, the game was an instant hit and we managed to get into it a couple of times before circumstances forced us to part ways. However, in that time it seemed that the game provides a very nice opportunity for interesting and elusive partnerships. Like, Sidereal Confluence the game fosters an opportunity for the maximal honing of one's negotiation skills over time. Certainly there seem to exist optimal alliances and strategies in the game, but I think there is a lot of room to explore other avenues and ways to break the intuitively ideal arrangements. I hope that I'll have the opportunity to explore this game more in the currently uncertain future.


Phileas Fogg Card Game of the Year Award: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine


The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a breakthrough title in a very interesting new category of game - the cooperative trick-taking game. Perhaps the world didn't realize that it wanted co-op trick-takers, but thanks to The Crew it sure knows now. Certainly there are other co-op trick-taking games like Familiar's Trouble and Fox in the Forest: Duet and even solo-trick-takers that could be played cooperatively like Gongor Whist, but The Crew is king of them all so far. I welcome new entries in this wild new genre.


Commercially-available Abstract of the Year: Shobu

Board Game: SHŌBU
Board Game: SHŌBU


Shobu is a refreshing new abstract that hit a few of my touch-points for joyful gaming. First, the game is a two-player combinatorial abstract of perfect information, which I'm all about. Next, the game can be assembled from common pieces, which has been helpful in trying before buying. Third, the game (to me) is non-obvious in how to play well, though this might clarify with more plays. Finally, the actual production is charming with its lovely wooden boards and stone pieces. The past few years have been bereft of quality commerical combinatorial abstracts and Shobu is the first to even earn a Lead Geek award since Tak a few years ago. As a fan of abstracts I would like to be hopeful that Shobu will open some doors, but I'll remain cautious about putting too much hope in that happening.

Common Components Abstract of the Year: Keil

Board Game: Keil


There are few bigger names in modern combinatorial abstracts than Luis Bolaños Mures -- a man who secretes sharp blue. As is his wont, Luis finds elegant mechanics and solutions to sticky problems in abstract design. One such sticky design problem is that of the play of Go on a hexagonal field. The problem inherant in this is that a hexagonal board has more points of connection from one cell to its neighboring cells, therefore eliminating the essential cross-cut tactic so important in Go. With Keil, I believe Luis has found an elegant solution to the cross-cut problem in hexagonal Go. This alone would be enough to warrant a Lead Geek award, but in fact the game is interesting and tense and a joy to play. That seals the deal in my opinion.

Fogus Children Seal of Ultimate Approval: Star Trek: Chrono-Trek

Board Game: Star Trek Chrono-Trek
Board Game: Star Trek Chrono-Trek


Star Trek: Chrono-Trek is the clear winner for my kids in 2019. Granted, me and my boys were part of a playtest group for the game, so that experience was instrumental in provoking a particular excitement for the game in them. However, the game itself is an entry in the Chrononauts-family and so its pedigree is solid. As a fan of Star Trek I especially enjoy talking to them about the references in the game and the episodes that they refer to -- they indulge me in this geekiness. I suspect the game has some solo potential but I haven't taken the dive yet.

The Casey Jones Excellence in Train Gaming Award: Across the United States

Board Game: Across the United States
Board Game: Across the United States


While I got in quite a bit of train gaming in 2019 and early 2020, most of the titles that I played were pre-2019 releases. However, while in Japan over the X-Mas holiday I managed to grab a copy of Across the United States. The game loosely reminds me of Ticket to Ride with the Pennsylvania expansion with a little more meat on the bone. That said, it's completely obviated my desire to play that all-star level TtR setup.

The Sublime Solitairy Experience of the Year: Top 10 Games You Can Play In Your Head By Yourself

RPG Item: Top Ten Games You Can Play In Your Head By Yourself


I came across the book "Top 10 Games You Can Play In Your Head By Yourself" by J. Theophrastus Bartholomew (a Discordian name if I've ever heard one) via Nick Bentley and the premise attracted me enough to give it a try. The idea is that it layouts the parameters for various RPG-like scenarios that require no materials save for your gray matter. Your goal is to work through the sceanrios in your head, at your leisure, and devise the way that the stories play out. This is the best game to play in the shower that I've ever found.

The Fighting Joe Wargame of the Year: Brave Little Belgium

Board Game: Brave Little Belgium
Board Game: Brave Little Belgium
Board Game: Brave Little Belgium


Previously I've avoided giving Lead Geek awards to wargames because of my relative unfamiliarity of the genre. However, while my experience is still quite limited, I've come to experience the genre enough to get a feel for the kind of games that I like. Therefore, the inaugural "Fighting Joe" award goes to the fantastic little Brave Little Belgium. The game is a 2-player affair playing two sides of an early conflict in WWI but I've found it to be a very good solo game also. It's of the variety where the underdog side can't possibly "win" except to prevent certain objectives and/or slow the more powerful force. While I would hesitate to call this a gateway-wargame, it's simple enough that it could be an entry-level design for people hoping to dive deeper into the genre.

Excellence in Multimedia Game Love: No Enemies Here

No Enemies Here is a wargame-centric podcast by Dan Pancaldi that runs through the weekly wargame news, offers reviews, and even has the occassional interview with industry luminaries. As someone not terribly connected to the wargamer community, NEH gives me a high-level view of the genre which allows me to dig deeper whenever something strikes me as interesting. Mr. Pancaldi is a charater and definitely injects his unique personality into each episode -- this is a good thing IMO. It's rare to find a podcast/videocast that nicely balances the information part with the naval-gazing part but NEH pulls it off masterfully.

Designer of the Year: Thomas Sing

Board Game Designer: Thomas Sing


For this year's designer of the year award I'd like to recognize Thomas Sing. More so than creating a great game (The Crew) Mr. Sing has given life and credibility to the promising Cooperative Trick-taking genre. If the genre opens up, as I hope that it will, then he deserves recognition as the person who made it happen. If not, well... he still deserves recognition for showing the world the promise in this quirky genre. It's on the world to take that lesson and make great games.

---

That ends this year's Lead Geek Awards. It was a highly unusual award year given that the ongoing pandemic has cut deeply into the weeks and months that I would have devoted to playing 2019 games with game groups. Therefore, this years group was narrower than previous years and had fewer categories. I hope that 2021 brings better luck in getting this year's games to the table but I suspect I may be in the soup once again.

One final note. I don't want to disparage The Golden Geek awards because it's a contest of the most played and popular games (or game in this case). The award is an interesting way to take the pulse of BGG along some narrow vector but it's in no way a tool for discovery. This is a primary goal in the Lead Geek awards so I hope you discovered an interesting game today.
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Tue May 5, 2020 5:33 pm
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If you like _______ then you might like ______ -=CAVE EVIL=- edition

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One of my favorite games is the "If you like ______ then you might like ______" games. Simply put, you and some friends (and drinks and the like) list things that you like and everyone chimes in with other things that are like said thing or at least in the spirit of that thing. As a lark I preset a pictorial version of that game using Cave Evil and Cave Evil: Warcults as the main subject.

BEHOLD!

From gallery of fogus


Feel free to shout out other things that fit into the picture above or even add your own picture with your own groupings on an entirely different topic all together.

Some examples that might fit above:

"If you like Cave Evil then you might like The Mushroom Eaters."

"If you like Cave Evil: Warcults then you might like 'Scream Bloody Gore' by Death"

"If you like 'House of Leaves' then you might like 'The Contortionist's Handbook' by Clevenger"

"If you like Sunn O))) then you might like Om"

"If you like MtG && Cave Evil then you might like Pentacle"

And so on and so forth...
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Mon Apr 27, 2020 3:02 pm
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RIP Dr. Eric Solomon

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I learned via Twitter that Eric Solomon passed away this week.

Dr. Solomon is one of my favorite designers and has given me and my family countless hours of joy with his games.

From gallery of fogus


I think this weekend I'll pull out Entropy (aka Vis-a-Vis, aka Hyle), Billabong, Thoughtwave, and Corporation and play them in his honor.

Goodbye Dr. Solomon.
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Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:45 pm
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What does the most interesting man in the world play?

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Just for fun I created a Gekklist entitled: What Games Does The Most Interesting Man in the World Play?

From gallery of fogus



He's the most interesting man in the world.

He's debonair.

He lives the high life.

He's engaged in exciting exploits like arm wrestling Fidel Castro and marlin fishing with Hemingway.

He frequents smokey bars and surrounds himself with beautiful people.

He probably prefers tequila and scotch, but sometimes drinks beer.

He's wears a smoking jacket.

But...

What games does he play?

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Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:16 pm
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Hollandspiele games that aren't

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Hollandspiele has vaulted into the pantheon of my favorite game publishers over the past year and change. The mixture of light to mid/heavy wargames, economic games, and even abstracts provides a nice diversity in gaming for someone on the lookout for something unique. There is a certain je ne sais quoi about the offerings that the company provides that attracts me and over time I've come to realize that there are quite a few games that could fit right into the Hollandspiele stable, had they been released by them.

Therefore, join me in identifying those games that are not Hollandspiele games -- but could have been.

Premise: There are games that are very Hollandspiele-esque that are not published by Hollandspiele. I (and others I suspect) would love to know what they are.

Problem: Hollandspiele publishes an eclectic mix of games and therefore putting one's finger on Hollandspiele-ness is a nebulous (and less than future-proof) affair.

That said: This is all about feeeeeeeeeelingssss, so just post away.

Constraints: No games by Tom Russell that were/are published by other companies (e.g. Northern Pacific, Blood on the Alma, etc.)

Gettysburg

The game that motivated this effort is Mark Herman's Gettysburg published in C3i Magazine. This is a simplified treatment of the topic that nevertheless evokes the battle proper.

Board Game: Gettysburg


Even the game inventory smacks of Hollandspiele:

* 11 x 17" color map
* 28 counters
* 12-page rulebook

The game plays quickly and solos very well.

Hero of Weehawken

In the original thread that I created on the topic, Mr. Russell mentioned that he saw Hero of Weehawken as a game that could fit into the company's stable. I have not played the game myself, but I've enjoyed the few Victory Point Games that I've had the privilege to play.

Board Game: Hero of Weehawken


The component list hints at a very Hollandspiele-like set.

W1815

While W1815 is reminiscent of the Table Battles series, the actual gameplay is different enough to justify inclusion herein.

Board Game: W1815


The game plays in 10-15 minutes and is not particularly amenable to solo-play, but it's a tight and fun 2-player dice game that fits very well into the fold.

Pacific Go

Pacific Go came onto my radar only recently, but its quirkiness (it has Go-like area control/influence) instantly attracted me enough to give it a try. I'm on the fence about this one given that the game's mechanics are minimalist but at the same time provide depth enough to eat a couple of hours.

Board Game: Pacific Go


Having gone through the rules once I can see a Hollandspiele-ness to it but a more in-depth reading and play-through is required.

Guerrilla Checkers

Guerrilla Checkers is a neat abstract strategy game designed by Hollandspiele cornerstone designer Brian Train.

Board Game: Guerrilla Checkers


The game is currently published by nestorgames and of course fits into their stable of games, but it fits Hollandspiele also for the following reasons:

- It's a confrontational abstract
- With a reasonable number of bits
- By a notable wargame designer

More?

What have I missed? What do you think fits the Hollandspiele mold?
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Fri Mar 20, 2020 2:34 pm
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What's for breakfast, March 2020: Niya

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Breakfast games

From gallery of fogus
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Tue Mar 3, 2020 6:47 pm
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