Well, the job thing that I hinted about last week has come to pass, which has lessened the gaming that I've been able to partake in this week, but it's still been a pretty productive week in gaming of both the electronic and cardboard varieties, if gaming can ever be counted as productive. To celebrate this momentous achievement, I've ordered myself a new mug. Or I will, anyway, once my PayPal balance clears...
My initial fears only deepened when it turned out that along with the cooky 90's cartoon artwork and never having been popular enough to justify an English reprint, it's a race game that you play by rolling dice. My only prior experience with race-games that have won the SDJ was Hare and Tortoise, a clever litttle game that I admire, but not one that I'll ever really have fun playing, as it's far too mathsy. At this point I was trying to find a polite way to back away from the table, with the ghost voice of my friend John raging at the non-gameness of Ludo clones ringing in my brain, but I stuck with it, and I was glad that I did.
Though it's definitely showing its age with its roll-and-move mechanics, there's some unique aspects that make this little number about navigating your cyclists through the hazards of a gruelling race better than I was fearing. The blocking/slip-streaming mechanics actually work really well to insert some serious tactics into a game that would otherwise be pretty straightforward. Instead, it becomes about grouping your riders together (where the dice and other players will let you) and using the different riders various strengths to push ahead of your opposition during the key moments of the race. Sure, the dice can and will still screw you up (as evidenced by the fact that I was lucky enough to win against an experienced player that I consider tactically stronger than me in 100% of situations), but they're mitigated somewhat and made to work for you by some classy but ultimately simple mechanics.
A game like this could never be made and probably wouldn't sell many copies in this more civilised golden age of board games that we find ourselves in today. That it won the prestigious SDJ 25 years ago is just an indication of how incredibly far board games have come during my lifetime. Still, it was an interesting diversion and I'm pretty confident that everyone playing had a very good time. I won't be going out to get myself a copy, and I don't think I'll play again next wee either, but if someone were to pull it out again some time next year, I'm pretty confident that I'd give it another go.
Ongoing Gaming Goals
Get some Brasenose people to Board Games Night
Well, I got a person to come along with me, and he's been singing the praises of the club ever since, so I'm pretty confident that we'll be able to convince more people once everyone comes back from the Easter term break. Success! Looks like I need some more cardboard goals, but I can't think of....wait....
Try to get a Diplomacy board running
It looked like we might have gotten close to getting seven players who didn't yet hate each other but were willing to accept the possibility together in a room at some point during the last few months, but in the end we fell a little short. It's probably time for me to get back on my diplomacy hobby-horse (pun) and see if I can't have one last shot at it before this year's students all dig in for end-of-year exams.
Regain Nova I rank in CounterStrike
I'm a Nova again, and thanks to a respectable streak over the last few days I think I'm actually pushing the upper boundaries of Nova I into borderline Nova II territory. Obviously that's not going to last, though, so for the ongoing goal is just to retain my rank and never again sink into the depths of depravity and questionable strategy that is Silver-level CounterStrike.
Finish Train Valley
Ticked this one off over the weekend and wrote a big ol' review to the developers, who said nice things about it (which gives you an idea of exactly how big the steam fanbase is for this game). I'm not quite ready to put this game down yet though, as I have to tick off that one last Steam Achievement to get a clean sheet on the game, so it'll stay in the rotation for at least another week while I plot how exactly I'm supposed to get that many locomotives running at the same time without making an enormous mess all over the map.
Play Pony Island
I failed to get to Pony time yet again this week, but once Train Valley is out of the way maybe I'll be able to devote myself to it. I hear that it's best played in a single session, so at the moment it's looking like it might be a good project to occupy myself on the Easter Monday bank holiday.
I don't have any kind of DotA goal short of eventually summoning up the courage to give it another whirl some time, but since it got popular demand in the comments and I'm nothing without my legion of loyal fans, I guess I'd better list it here. If one of you that plays (I'm looking at you, Tim and Peter) wants to suggest a realistic goal and help me work towards it then colour me receptive (kind of a puce-type shade, I suppose?).