Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Returning to the battlefield

I went to some LARP groups when I first moved out here, but I haven't been to any of the LARP groups recently, because the Amtgard group in Fort Collins tends not to do the battlegames that I like during the winte r(they just to melee only fighting, which is my least favorite part of the game) and the Dagorhir group meets on Sundays in Loveland, and Sundays are the one day the buses don't run. But I just learned that Dagorhir started doing practices in Fort Collins just a couple blocks away from the bus stop in downtown Fort Collins, so I started going there. I got to be an archer like I usually do, and it was a lot of fun. Also, the people there just generally seemed to be a lot nicer and more helpful than the people down in Loveland.

(One time, the people in Loveland told me that my arrows didn't pass the safety inspection, and the person in charge said that if I gave her my phone number, she would call me and we could set up a time for her to teach me how to make arrows. I knew there was a really good chance that she would forget to call me back, so I asked for her phone number, but she refused to give it to me, saying that she would just call me. Of course, she never did. And by the way, the person who had agreed to take me home that day left without me, so I had to take the $35 cab ride home. When I brought those same arrows to the people in Fort Collins they said they didn't know why the Loveland people didn't like them.)

On Sunday there was supposed to be another special event - a playtest for the upcoming 8.0 version of the Amtgard rules, up in Cheyenne, WY. I had contacted someone from the Fort Collins park who said he was going and he could take me there. On Sunday about an hour before we were supposed to go, he said that he had heard from the person in charge of the Fort Collins park that it was canceled because of the wind. I contacted the Cheyenne park through Facebook and learned it was not canceled. I then called the first berson back, and learned that he had no idea I even wanted to go to Cheyenne - the whole time he thought I had just wanted transportation to the Fort Collins park! As it turned out, not many people showed up to the playtest so they scheduled a new one for next Sunday - at the Fort Collins park.

There are also a few more LARP events coming up in the near future. One is "Crusade of Legends", a new LARP system that I have never played before, that is in the area near Boulder and Denver, and they have an event on March 10.. Another one is "Core LARP", which is somewhere to the north of here. They are supposed to have an event every month, but the one in February was canceled because of snow, and the one in March is supposedly being rescheduled tdue to scheduling conflicts at the site. At th ebeginning of April, the Dagorhir park in Loveland is having their "Season Opener", when supposedly there will be a lot of people there from all over the area. I will probably go to that one, and hopefully my experience before won't be repeated.

And one more thing - for my upcoming posts about LARPing I have something new in store. I won't provide any details as of yet, but I will tell you that there is a chance you will get a new angle on the action like you've never seen it before.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pictures from Genghis Con

This picture was during the game of Zendo in which I was the "Master." Green stones indicate koans which have the Buddha-nature; red stones indicate those that don't. (The black card labeled "Zendo" is the koan that contains no pieces.) Can you figure out what the rule is?

As we've discussed before on this blog, dice superstitions are rampant in gaming circles. This "Dice Dungeon" is a prison used to punish dice that are rolling poorly. (It might actually work: after all, if you put poorly rolling dice in here, it is in fact true that when they come out, they will on average roll better in the future.)

On the other hand, when superstitions fail, one can always use more effective methods:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Genghis Con!

Last weekend I went to a gaming convention called "Genghis Con" in Aurora, CO. about 10 miles or so from Denver. Here are a few highlights:

1. The first game I played was called World of Warcraft: The Board Game - it is based on the computer game of the same name. There are two sides: one is the Alliance and one is the Horde. Each side has two to three characters (depending on the number of players) and you go around the board to fight monsters and complete quests. If everyone on the team sticks together they have a better chance of beating the quests, but they have to split the rewards, while if you split up you can complete more quests in a shorter period of time, but at higher risk. Most of the other players had played the game before, but with 2 characters on a side, so they were used to all sticking together (2 is about right for most quests, but 3 is overkill). So they all stuck together and ended up having to split all the quest rewards 3 ways, slowing their advancement. In contrast, I let my two teammates stick together but then went off my own way to pick off the weaker monsters by myself, enabling us to advance faster. We also got somewhat lucky when several good quest cards came up right next to each other on the map, so we didn't have to spend much time then running around the map. In the end the game came down to the final player-versus-player battle, which the Alliance won easily.

2. I participated in a couple play-tests of games in development. One was a collectible card game with mechanics similar to Magic: The Gathering, with the exceptions that (1) you can play any card face down and it gets revealed when it is involved in combat, so there is risk in attacking the opponent, and (2) the cards move around on a grid so you have to maneuver your creatures into position rather than just attacking the opponent. Another game was a similar Magic-like card game where, rather than having a "hand" of cards, you just play the top card of your deck each turn. Of course the thing is there are five ways to play each card - as a creature, an equipment (attaches to creatures and powers them up), a supporter (card that boosts all your other cards or has a special effect once a "war" happens), an order (instantaneous effect and is then discarded), or research (lets you use special powers of your other cards).

3. I learned a couple games that use "Icehouse pieces" - generic pyrmidal pieces that can be used for a variety of different games. One was "Homeworlds", a strategy game where you build up a fleet of spaceships to explore planets and eventually take over the opponent's homeworld. Another, and probably one of the most exciting games I played the whole convention, was "Zendo", a game of inductive logic. In this game "students" make "koans" (arrangements of pieces) and a "Master" tells them which ones have the "Buddha nature", and the goal is for the "students" to guess the secret rule that determine which ones have the Buddha nature. One of the other players was also a computer programmer, and he came up with the rule "the number of small pieces is exactly one greater than the number of medium pieces, and the number of medium pieces is exactly one greater than the number of large pieces" I was able to guess that trule and so it was my turn to be "Master", and I came up with a rule that everyone else thought was the best one of the night, although I don't want to tell you what it is in case I eventually play Zendo with anyone who is reading this.

3. There was an exhibitor's room where I bought some cool things, including a belt puch that I can use to hold spell balls in Amtgard, a football board game, and a couple games made by the same people who were doing the playtests mentioned above. I also took some funny pictures which I will show you in the next post.

4. The last game I played at the convention was called "Ascending Empires". This is a strategy game where you have to build and expand a space empire starting from your home planet and moving outward, while colonizing new planets so you can build research facilities on them. Different colored planets give you different kinds of technologies, such as improved defense, better starships, or increased actions. What is unique about this game is that you move your starships by flicking them across the board, so there is manual dexterity involved - you have to get it within an "orbit" of a planet to be able to go onto a planet, if you collide with an enemy ship they are both destroyed, to attack a ship to get points you have to land within a certain range of the enemy ship, etc. I was able to get the "battleship" technology and start wreaking havoc. The other teo players tried to make a plan to defeat me - one of them moved his ship away from the other one's research planet so it wouldn't be "blockaded", then the other one was goign to use it to research the battleship technology to even the odds. Fortunately for me my turn was between theirs, so I was able to bring in the battleship from across the board and blow up the key research facility before he could use it.

5. I also picked up a flyer or a new live action role playing game called "Crusade of Legends" that is in Aurora. I will see if I can try it out sometimes, but unfortunately, getting there isn't cheap. To get to the convention I had to spend $40 on an airport shuttle to the Denver airport, then $60 on a cab ride to the hotel, the cab had a complimentary shuttle back to the airport, then another $40 for the shuttle to go home. I think I have made my decision that I am going to start taking driving lessons soon - there are a lot of places where I would like to go but it is just much harder if I don't have a car.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

There's an App for That?

Recently, Apple has come under criticism for contracting with Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to produce iPhones, because Foxconn allegedly provides its workers with poor working conditions. This claim is disputed: for instance, critics point to several incidents of Foxconn employees committing suicide, but the overall suicide rate among Foxconn workers is less than the national average. Many consumers are demanding that Apple stop using Foxconn as a supplier until Foxconn improves its employees' working conditions.

However, the thing I want to talk about here is slightly different - imagine if the roles were reversed. For instance, let's say that it was a large European company with an American supplier, and the European company's customers thought it was horrific that not all Americans have health insurance, so they demanded that they cut ties with all American suppliers that don't offer their employees full health insurance. What do you think our reaction would be? Probably something along the lines of "What right do those people overseas have to dictate to us what our health policy should be?" (I mean, that's a significant part of the response to the U.S. government's attempts to mandate health insurance; just imagine if it were foreigners trying to pressure us in this way.) It seems like a similar argument could be applied to the actual situation: "We in the United States have no right to dictate to the Chinese what their employment policies should look like. If the Chinese don't like their current employment laws, they can change them. True, it might be the case that their political system doesn't give employees enough power to organize and change the laws, but it's not our place to make that judgement." (Again, imagine the reaction in the U.S. if foreigners said that U.S. companies should be boycotted because the U.S. political system has problems.)