Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Monday, August 18, 2008

Something else about Byzantium (and another car-cast)

One thing this blog is good for is correcting mistakes & omissions in my podcasts. After recording the recent one about Martin Wallace games, I forgot to mention the interesting and authentic-feeling arms races that happened in our complete 3-player game. Though Ryan & I both agreed that Mike was out to a big lead, we ran into trouble going after him during the middle & end of the game. Because you build up your army which is located in one city--not distributed strength throughout your holdings--it becomes a local juggernaut. No matter how much I knew Ryan was building his juggernaut to go after Mike, it became unnerving to see that large threat in my unprotected rear area. Even if I thought Ryan would stick to the plan & attack Mike, what would he do the following turn? Although he might wish to keep going after Mike, the board connections sometimes restricted him from doing so. Worse, they might leave him with no other good opening but to attack me.

Strictly for points, you understand. :-)

So then what? Well, I build up my army in a location where I can still go after Mike, but I can also counter Ryan if he opts to go after me instead (or in addition). That threathens Ryan, and he is delayed in his attack on Mike to be sure he knows what I'm up to. See where this is going? See who wins from all of this uncertainty and anxiety? Mike!

Though some might not care for that dynamic, calling it kingmaking, turtle-ing, or something similar, it's not either of those things. It's an added diplomatic development in a game that has no specific rules for diplomacy. In fact, the nature of the game--playing both sides of the conflict--discourages anything like alliances. I just found it to be an interesting development.


P.S. Despite my own misgivings, the limited feedback I've received about the podcasts recorded in the car is that they're fine, particularly if they let me put out more material. I've got an old one in the can, and a new one from just today. I guess I'll still dabble with those things. I've downloaded Levelator, and I'll give it a try on the car-casts. (Though I think Levelator is primarily good for evening out different audio levels from two or more speakers, not filtering out road noise.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

BGTG 84 - Martin Wallace games (Brass, Tinner's Trail, Byzantium)

Two podcasts in less than a week?! Weird, I know. Not likely to be repeated soon, either. I just figured I might as well jump on the opportunity when I could.

Also, I'd mentioned on this blog a couple weeks before that I was thinking of sharing my (changing) thoughts about Martin Wallace games, based on some recent plays of Brass, Tinner's Trail, and Byzantium. Martin's games are so popular on BGG, yet I've struggled to enjoy many of them. Yet I still struggle because he attempts some of the most interesting game settings & treatments of any designer out there. They just work for some people better than for me (I guess).

I think more highly of Tinner's Trail and Byzantium, though, despite some issues that I still have with their designs. I'm not yet sure what to make of Brass. I've only played it once, and while that felt like enough exposure to draw a conclusion about Tinner's Trail, I find Brass to be much more involved, and it'll take another play or two to form an opinion.

Maybe someday I can tackle other Martin Wallace games I enjoy, like Way Out West and (possibly) Liberte. Who knows? Maybe I'll even try Age of Steam again. :-)


Sunday, August 10, 2008

BGTG 83 - Aug 10, 2008 - Re-Introduction with my "New" Top Ten

Though I'm too chicken to listen to it, anyone that wants to can go back into my archives to download BGTG #1. In that episode I tried to give an introduction to myself, describing my own likes & dislikes in games. It always helps to know those things about a game reviewer. You get to figure out how my opinions map to yours. Maybe you & I are on the same page, and the games I like are ones you'll probably enjoy. But it can even help if we don't see eye-to-eye, so you'll know when I'm disappointed in a game that it might be something you'd like anyway.

To anchor these preferences of mine, I also talked about my Top Ten games at the time. When I mention En Garde and Entdecker, it helps you understand what else you're going to hear from me on the podcast.

That was 2005, now I felt it was time to do this again. I get to talk about the podcast itself, my likes & dislikes (mostly the same, some changes), and a new top ten list. It doesn't replace my old list, it augments it with some more recent titles.