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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sunriver After Effects

So, as it is with miniatures conventions, the Sunriver gaming retreat has sparked interest on at least a couple fronts for me.


The 18MEX game Tim, Doug, George, and I got in really confirmed that I'm going to like these games. Yes, they're long, but they've mostly got a good game arc and provide a lot of decision points along the way. I also really get the feeling of developing and building something – not unlike the feeling I get playing Roads and Boats. I finished last in our 18MEX game at Sunriver, but I think I know the major decision I made wrong – paying out dividends one time too many thus shorting a company treasury and not having the money to buy a train after the "2"s rusted. Having more experience will help me refine those timing decisions.

I've done a solo walkthrough of 1860 and botched a handful of rules while doing it (you can't build two yellow tiles if you build one with a large station, for example) but got a feel for how a linear stock market works as opposed to the 2d stock market in 18MEX. Of course with these games, you can learn how to play them solo, but you can only learn how to play them well playing against more experienced players. So, Tim's going to come over and school me on either 1825 Unit 3 or 18Scan.

Racing Games

This will be the subject of a later column when I return to the sports theme, but I thought Bolide played very cleanly. It's got about the same amount of luck as Speed Circuit, but is less deterministic. Looks better, too. I'm really curious how this would play with 7-8 people and the egg timer. (It looks to be a 30-second timer, but I haven't checked.) I can see this easily clocking in under 2 hours with those conditions.

Of course, this has sparked interest in other racing games, as well. I still need to get my hands on Um Reifenbreite, Das Motorsportspeil, TurfMaster, and a couple others. More to come in this space.


This isn't a direct result of Sunriver, but Keith and I have talked about getting the Operation Compass scenario from DAK2 on the table. Now's the time to start planning. It's a 6-turn scenario, but I can imagine our first turn or two taking an evening each as we both get used to the amazing amount of stuff contained in these games.

Burma is going back into print (it's new on the MMP preorder list) so I'll be getting my copy eventually. There's seven games in this series, and I've got the only two currently in print. I don't have high need to get the OOP ones, so I'll just preorder them when MMP gets around to reprinting them and pick them up that way.

These are definitely the most playable "monster" wargames I've seen. Lots to do, but it all makes sense and the designer (Dean Essig) is very accessible for questions.

I expect that Keith and I will begin our foray here sometime in June.


I need to get an iPod model bigger than the shuffle I currently have. The ability to just plop your iPod down on the dock and your music is up and running is fantastic. Yes, I'm behind the curve here, but I've never really had the need for anything like this. At home away from the computer, we've got XM over DirecTV. At home on the computer, I obviously don't need the iPod. At work I either listen to mp3s or stream Groove Salad from Somafm.com. In the SUV, we've got Sirius. The only places where I don't really have a good solution are in the car (cd/am/fm only) and events like Sunriver.

So while there isn't a screaming need for one (or I'd already own it) the increasing capabilities in the product line plus an existing infrastructure in the gaming group means it's probably time to get one. Plus, they're pretty damn cool.

It was interesting hearing the different music selections at Sunriver. Though I probably heard a bit too much death metal for my tastes during a weekend of gaming requiring concentration. It probably hit me the most during the Air Baron game. But, I didn't bring anything, so I'm at the mercy of what others brought. (Note: I don't have a problem with death metal, but it's not music conducive to learning new games.)


Events have conspired to make Enfilade! a bit too much trouble this year, so I won't be getting the mental bump to get things painted like usual. However, a side effect of rearranging the house in preparation for our baby boy due to arrive in August, is making me focus on what I expect to work on soon. So, the 6mm Great Northern War, 10mm Marlburian, and 15mm WWII North African figures stay in the hobby room – the rest go to storage. Or on sale.

The nice part about this rearrangement is that it will force me to concentrate on one project at a time. All too often, I suffer from wargamer's ADD and have multiple projects on the painting table simultaneously.


  • At 3:49 PM, Blogger Tim said…

    I'm glad you enjoyed 18Mex - and I'm not so sure I'll school you at 1825, as it's a different "style" of 18xx than most of the ones I've played previously. Plus I've never played it - despite having played 18Mex only once previously, it helped some.

  • At 4:05 PM, Blogger dave said…

    "Though I probably heard a bit too much death metal for my tastes during a weekend of gaming requiring concentration."

    FYI (i.e., I'm not one to get hung up on genre labels myself), no death metal was played (although I had some with me). The heaviest stuff I played was Fear Factory, who most people would label as Nu Metal.

    In general, you guys played more "thinky" games this time than what usually gets played at Sunriver. We'll adjust the music selection accordingly next time. :-)

  • At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    1860 is a most excellent game and is perhaps my favourite of all 18XX (1856 is the other close contender). Be especially careful that you understand exactly how nationlisation happens and how nationalisation as a game feature can be manipulated by the players. (There are some good recent threads on this are in the Y! 18XX mailing list -- see GMane). Also be careful if you decide to use Lemmi's moderator with 1860. The moderator module for 1860 implements the Berlin variant, a rather more nasty and cutthroat version of 1860 derived from the early prototype testing that the Berlin groups did.

    Lastly, never forget that starting companies is a great way of getting money and trains into the game, and don't be afraid to use and abuse the receivership, bankruptcy and directorless modes for companies. They are there to be exploited! Oh, and the definitions of legal routes (they must intersect and one must involve the home station) are also interesting.

  • At 7:50 AM, Blogger Eric said…

    Tim: Glad to hear I'm not far behind the curve, then.

    Dave: Having never really been exposed to Death Metal, you can probably understand the confusion. I'm hoping you can get back to your top 100 albums - I'm sure there's some top shelf death metal on there to sample.

    Anon: 1860 certainly looks like a rich 18xx variant. There's a lot of features in it that don't seem to appear elsewhere. The route grid, in particular, seems to really change how you approach the game. I'm looking forward to getting that one in play.

  • At 3:22 PM, Blogger Dug said…

    My setlists on my iPod included "Songs I've Played In Bands" and "One Hit Wonders". Neither contained much in the way of metal, but then I believe my iPod was banished from the stereo system after Friday so there you go. ;-)

  • At 12:39 PM, Blogger Eric said…

    Knowing some of the stuff I'd put on my iPod, I might get "banished" just as quickly.


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