Thoughts, Words, Works

Playing Games Well: 7 Wonders @

7 Wonders is a wonderful game, a civilization builder set in ancient times powered by a drafting mechanic that's elegant but extremely deep. Best of all, it plays quickly with anywhere from three to a whopping seven players, thanks to the powers of simultaneous play. The expansions, Leaders and Cities, and the Wonder Pack mini-expansion, add more variety while not changing the game much — something that sits well with me since it keeps the game fresh but keeps the burden on new players relatively low. It also means that the expansions haven't (thus far) revolutionized the game strategy, which is nice for experienced players and strategy bloggers (ha!). Hence, it's something I've played plenty, and I'm excited to discuss my strategies for the game and thoughts on how to play well. For clarity's sake: I will not be addressing the 2-player variant, nor the team variant introduced by the Cities expansion, since I have not played enough of either.

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Playing Games Well: Principles @

I play a lot of board games, especially Eurogames, and one thing that grinds my gears (no, not Tzolk'in gears) is that too many people don't know how to make effective decisions for playing to win. That's why I'm starting this series on how to play board games (and card games) well. In doing so, I hope to pin down and share some of the patterns that help me decide what to do. There's always the possibility that this will just lead to more analysis paralysis as people consider every move thoroughly, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.

For the first installment, I'm going to cover basic principles and ideas. Not all of these will apply to every game, but I'll try to strike a balance where they're specific enough to use in some games, but not limited to a single game.

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A Fresh Outlook @

It's been just over 5 years since this site's last overhaul, and once again much has changed in that interval. Unlike last time, those events have been catalogued on this very blog, although as always I am not consistent enough in posting. Pleasantly, I find that things here in the world wide web are changing much more rapidly now, and generally for the better. Looking back, I have a great respect for the forces prompting the modern web revolution. Back in 2008 when I last redesigned the site, standards advocates and better browsers had finally ousted the hated tyrant from power, and the concept of a 'smart phone' was barely starting to take hold. HTML5 was a giant soup of diffuse elements trying to consolidate themselves into a standard. The web was slowly crawling out of a dark age.

Thank goodness things have changed.

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2013 Anime Mini-Review Festival @

Well, 2013 wasn't the most eventful year for this blog, but I see no reason not to continue with my tradition of summing up the past year's worth of anime in a few sentences each. I watched a little over 30 things this year, which puts me on par with the previous year but way behind my 2011 levels. Sadly, this year wasn't a great year for anime, with several of my top scores going to older series I only watched now for the first time, nothing in the spectacular 9-10 range, and even more sequelitis in the list. As before, the reviews skew towards the positive since only series good enough for me to finish are included.

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User script: ANN Production Company Filter @

Do you hate how the Company profiles in AnimeNewsNetwork's encyclopedia are bogged down with all the shows that a company has done in-betweens and other support work for? Do you wish you could have it show just the things they've done production on? I do. So I wrote a Greasemonkey user script to do it. If you're interested in trying it out and you know how user scripts work, the following link is all you need:

Download/install here: ANN Production Filter

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Fate Crusade Side Story 04: The Loss of a Vessel @

In the grim dark present of roleplaying, there is Only Grail War. Stormshrug's Fate/Crusade is the second campaign following the events of Fate/stay night using rules adapted from Fantasy Flight's Warhammer 40k RPG systems. I'm not in this campaign, but I'm playing a role from the sidelines. His story has already begun...

December 1, 2012. A van puttered along the roughly paved road, carrying its passengers to Orvieto. Its secretive black exterior was completed by tinted windows and a foreign license plate. Few were on the road at this hour, and fewer still with weather so ominous. Clouds obscured the stars and moon, leaving the night almost pitch black. The local Italians had doubtless decided that this was a good night to sit at home with a warm coffee. Ishmael wished he could do the same.

The atmosphere inside the van was at least as ominous as the outside. There were seven occupants, each an enforcer with years of experience working for the Mage's Association. Ishmael didn't know of a single occasion that could prompt such an entourage, short of this Holy Grail War. That left things uneasy, since mages are at best individualistic by nature and often pointedly antisocial. He looked from face to face, reminding himself of their names and specialties, and hoping he wouldn't need them.

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