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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Big Games

This is a bit of a short column this week as things have been a bit busy with Megan catching a rather bad cold and work being rather busy. It's also sort of a carry-on from last week's column and a continuation of my primary gaming theme nearly the entire calendar year.

Must play more big games.


After the 18MEX game played at Sunriver, Tim and I had been talking about getting some more 18xx games on the table. An opportunity presented itself last Saturday night – Tim came over after Megan went to bed, and we played 1825 Unit 3, an 18xx game designed for two players only. (It also links on to 1825 Units 1 and 2 to handle more players if you want.) 1825 has a linear stock market, not the two-dimensional one common to many of the games. There's also a few tweaks to differentiate itself. It's certainly one of the friendlier 18xx games.

Well, as expected Tim schooled me. Final scores were 7200 to 3550 or something like that. It was mostly a few early decisions that caused my demise. I'll improve on these with more experience, particularly with multiple playings of the same game. There's a few skills that seem to be applicable to any 18xx game, and a few that are unique to each game. It's just going to take time to learn how these things work. And I'm very eager to get my butt handed back to me a few more times – I'm trying to get these games on the table as frequently as possible. Which, given real life, won't be as often as I'd like.

Tim and I are planning on hitting the 18xx convention in Portland late next month. It'll be nice going with someone who likes these games but doesn't necessarily live them. (Though I'll admit to being a tad obsessed with them right now.) I hope to have at least one, maybe two more plays under my belt by then.


In 7 days, Keith and I will be playing an OCS scenario for the first time. (DAK2 scenario 7.3 – Sidi Barrani Tr'ng) This is a two-turn scenario set in early December 1940. This is a game I've been wanting to play for a long time, so I'm pretty eager to get going. The problem is, how do you really learn a game like this beforehand? As Keith and I only get to play every other week or so, we want to be as efficient as possible. I've read through the rules (43 pages of series rules plus 20 pages of game-specific rules) but it's really only going to work walking through it. So, I'm going to get the scenario set up tonight and try to do a solo walkthrough of a turn over the next few days.

I'll be keeping a log of how things go – if it turns out okay, it'll form one of my columns next month. If not, it'll appear on my neglected personal blog. In either case, the plan is to learn the game face to face and play longer scenarios over email. The turn flow is very conducive to email play, and there's apparently a pretty good Aide de Camp gamebox for it.

It would be a dream to play the full campaign face to face, but I don't think even Keith has the space to keep a 10foot by 3foot game set up in his basement for a number of years. Which is probably how long it would take us to play it. (Figure an hour or two per turn, 240 turns. And we only play every other week. Even two turns per session would take over four and a half years.)

Thankfully, there's a large number of smaller scenarios in the box. And we've each got Tunisia as well which contains six more scenarios.

Hopefully, this turns into something like 18xx where the play matches up to the early expectations. Can I be that lucky twice in a row?


  • At 7:46 AM, Blogger Chris Brooks said…

    Let me know your plans for the 18xx convention - I'd like to spend a day or part of the day there as well.

  • At 10:19 AM, Blogger Eric said…

    I've sent an email to the organizer (and cc'd you and Tim) to find out what's up for newbies like us.

    This is the 8th year in a row for this convention, so I'd imagine it's at least moderately well run.

    My initial plan is to attend during the days on Friday and Saturday, and one of those two evenings. We'll see as time draws near.

  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger Tim said…

    I'm in for Friday evening and Saturday day, most likely.


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