March 22, 2006

Universe of Discourse - Tools

I've been reading Mark-Jason Dominus's blog The Universe of Discourse since dougo pointed it out a few weeks ago. The length and research involved in his essays is pretty amazing. I thought the recent one regarding Forbes' list of the Top 20 tools of all-time particularly interesting and completely agree that missing the Hammer, Rope and portable container (Bag or Basket) was a massive oversight in an otherwise pretty good list and that having things like the Level ahead of these is just crazy.

In the "Its a small world after all" category, I've known about mjd's general site for ages since he was another of the very early people heavily involved in the web. I also visited his house a couple of times about 15 years ago to play Cosmic Encounter (Mayfair version) not long after I first learned it from Sharon Jackson while we were both at Penn.

Posted by aarondf at 04:31 PM | Links | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

Movies: V for Vendetta

I loved the graphic novel when I read it a couple of years ago but was very nervous about the movie, particularly given Alan Moore's having his name removed from it (although that was mostly in reaction to the execrable League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie). I also am not at all a Matrix or Hugo Weaving fan and V stars Weaving (behind the Guy Fawkes mask) and was done by the Wachowski brothers.

Well, I was incredibly pleasantly surprised by the movie, even with a Two Thumbs Up review in advance. Other than a significantly more (in several ways) upbeat ending at the end, I thought the movie was pretty faithful to the comic and just plain excellent. The general design of the movie, and particularly the opening and credits, deserves a special mention as it was just amazing. ****1/2

Posted by aarondf at 04:31 PM | Movies | Comments (0)

March 08, 2006

Fury of Dracula (long)

In the long running debate on whether one can review or rate a game effectively after a single play, I am strongly in the affirmative. This comes from long experience of rating a game after one play and very rarely having that rating ever move more than 1 point away and uncommonly even that much. Fury of Dracula seems to be a rare exception. I have played the new version twice in the last week or so. The first time I really liked the game, finding it to have lots of luck but also interesting decisions and of course tons of atmosphere and probably would have given the game an 8. This week I played again and the game just dragged on and on such that I was no longer even really caring about whether we won and just wanting it to end. Greg finally suggested we resign and I heartily seconded the proposal. By this time, David did have a big lead and probably would have won but certainly not a sure thing but I just didn't care anymore - probably would now rate around a 6 although I, on the good side, found myself continuing to think about strategy in the game long after the game (although more Dracula's strategy than the hunters who seem largely bound to just follow the tides of luck).

In addition to the length and extreme randomness, the game also has the trouble that the Hunters MUST be extremely coordinated to stand a chance and this requires group-decision making on moves and results in the most experienced player (me in this case) controlling the game too much. In this particular instance of the game, this was made even worse as two people had not played before and David started the game without explaining almost any of the rules to them, figuring they could pick them up from us as they went. This sort of works but leaves them a bit in the dark about being able to sensibly contribute to some discussions cause they don't know how everything works and don't know the deck composition.

David, as Dracula, has also in both cases made illegal moves. The first game we enforced the very harsh penalty in the game for this and it really hurt him. The second game we let him switch cards around so it was legal, as it was a mistake that didn't really affect anything. My character also almost died as I (and others too) didn't understand the rest rule and thought doing it necessitated staying in place and decided this wasn't worth it. Since it just necessitates giving up getting cards, it is much less costly and I should have been doing it much more (I was taking 1 damage almost every single turn of the game from David's ally - always directed against me).

Oh, finally, on BGG there is a combat chart which the game really should have come with and I highly recommend printing at least two copies to have available when playing. Without it, combat is almost shooting in the dark.

Posted by aarondf at 10:56 AM | Games | Comments (0)