Saturday, February 23, 2008

Games Played Lately

I've played a couple of games lately that leave me craving more. Container and Mordred.


Container is one part economics lesson, one part game. Each player has a card which tells them the value of goods on their home island. On your turn, you can produce goods in your factory, buy goods from other player's factories to fill your warehouses, build more factories or warehouses, or move your boat. Your boat allows you to buy from other players' warehouses and to sell goods to other players (via auction) at the central island.

You can't buy from yourself except at the central island - but you don't bid in the auction. You can either accept the highest bid (and take an equivalent amount from the bank as well) or you can pay the highest bid to the bank and keep the goods.

It's very interesting - the first time we played, we all built up as quickly as we could. Within a few turns, all players were out of money and sinking fast.

Lessons learned:
Don't expand right away - it takes too much money out of the game too quickly.
Don't take out loans to support expansion - the interest is a killer.
Refusing the largest bid is rarely a good idea - again, it takes money out of the game (and your pocket), when you could add that much money into circulation.
Shipments to the central island should start small - there's not enough money in the game to make shipments of more than 2 containers worthwhile until later in the game. Start with lots of small shipments.

The second time we played, we didn't take out any loans - we were too afraid. Boatloads of goods were small, and sold for (in hindsight) far too little.

Lessons learned:
Pay more for goods - I'm not suggesting that you bid 3 for something that's only worth 2, but you should bid closer to the actual value of the goods (at least early in the game). It brings money into the game. If you bid high, others will bid high (and will have the money to do so).

The third time we played, it clicked pretty well. I don't know that I necessarily learned any lessons, but I definately enjoyed myself.

It's a solid game, but you may need to play a few practice turns with beginners before starting over so that they understand how easy it is to go bankrupt in this game.

Rules-wise, it's low complexity - but the overall complexity of the game is higher than that, as you need to balance supply and demand (and adjust your pricing accordingly).

I'll recommend this as a good medium-complexity game.


In Mordred, players take the role of King Arthur's Knights bringing the light of Civilization to the nation of Wales. Every turn, you roll two dice on a chart to determine your income. You can choose which line to roll on, but the more money you make, the more likely you are to gain corruption. You can then spend that money building cities and towns, fortresses and castles. And attacking Mordred.

The more corrupt you become, the more Mordred is able to expand his forces into Wales.

The game ends when either someone hits the end of the corruption track, Mordred's last piece is placed on the board, or a player starts their turn without one of the four types of structures they are capable of building (meaning they're all on the board).

There are two possible outcomes at the end of the game:
1) Mordred wins. If, when the game ends, Mordred's pieces outnumber the players' pieces, he wins. In this case, the player who was least corrupted by Mordred wins the game.
2) Arthur wins. If Mordred doesn't win, then the players convert the items they built into victory points. Highest total wins.

It's interesting - early in the game, it's tempting to roll on the High Corruption, High Money track so that you can build, build, build. However, your building may not outweigh Mordred's expansion in this case. If you roll on the low-risk, low-money chart, however, you won't be able to build in signifcant numbers.

There's no direct attacking of other players in this game - the active player decides the direction in which Mordred expands, and can use Mordred to take down players who don't build defensively.

It's also very hard to get rid of corruption once it is obtained. You have to spend money and roll well while adjacent to Mordred. If you win, that Mordred piece is then removed, which means your available targets has dropped by one.

It's a good game - I don't know that it's great, but I've enjoyed playing and re-playing it, and will recommend it as a quick-playing low-complexity game.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

GenCon Files for Chapter 11

For those who hadn't heard, GenCon LLC announced on Friday that they had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

For those of you who aren't in the US, here is some detailed info. on what Chapter 11 Bankruptcy means.

Peter Adkinson has stated on the Gencon forums that the reason they are filing for Chapter 11 is to keep them going while they work out payments to everyone they owe.

You need to log in to see his post, so here's the full text:

Today Gen Con is filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.

Essentially what happened is that we lost a lot of money this year running a licensed non-Gen Con event. We owe several companies money from this show and it’s going to take time to pay them off. To protect ourselves from the more aggressive companies we have been forced to seek protection from the courts.

While this is certainly an unfortunate development it will not impact our ability to operate Gen Con Indy, nor should it affect our licensed Gen Con events in the UK, Paris, and Australia.

The way a Chapter 11 works is that we negotiate a long-term payment plan with our creditors with the assistance of the US judicial system. The courts will closely oversee our business affairs to make sure we are running the company prudently and that we have a reasonable plan to pay everyone off. Which we do. The courts also protect us from aggressive creditors so that we can continue operating.

Gen Con LLC will get through this strong at the other end. Our fundamental revenue generating asset is our Indianapolis show, Gen Con Indy. This show is profitable enough to cover our direct costs, our overhead, and have some funds left over to pay off the debts from the licensed show. It will take some time, but this is one of those situations that the Chapter 11 filing was designed for, to help good companies get through a rough situation. Everyone will eventually get paid and business will return to normal. In the meantime, Gen Con Indy carries forward without interruption. Heck, if the airline companies can do it, why not us!

I’ve learned some hard lessons about the event business over the last few years. After trying to get Gen Con So Cal to work, and then losing money on this non-Gen Con event, I’ve learned how difficult it is to run a “big show” and make money. It’s a highly speculative affair where you’re never quite sure until the show’s over whether you made money or lost, mainly because you just don’t know how many people are going to come and for how long.

So, going forward our organization is going to focus on what we do best: managing Gen Con Indy, a healthy, vibrant show that has been growing nicely ever since moving to Indianapolis.

Here is a link to the press release we are issuing today describing this filing:

As you can probably guess, there’s not a lot I can say about this publicly, due to it being a sensitive legal matter and all. I’m traveling this coming week to New York Toy Fair, so my access with be spotty, but I’ll be sure and check in at least once a day to field questions best I can.

Peter D. Adkison
CEO, Gen Con LLC

Saturday, February 16, 2008

BGG Header

BGG Header
Originally uploaded by GameThyme
One of the things I really like about Flickr is the ability to add "notes" to my photos.

I have more detailed posts coming on this, but if you click on this photo, it'll take you to an image of the header bar on the 'Geek with some notes added.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Stat Comparisons for DT

This may help players who are wondering about Dungeon Twister set vs set play - it is how the average Strength and Movement values compare, both to the basic set and the overall average.

Keep in mind, however: This table does not factor in the character special abilities for calculating set vs. set balance, and some character special abilities are only useful with certain items, terrain, or other characters in play.

It's also worth mentioning that not all sets are available in English, yet.

I'm sorry for the odd gap - the table formatting seems to disagree with Blogger.

SPD1 is the average speed of the set compared to the overall average of all sets.
SPD2 is the average speed of the set compared to the base set's average.
STR1 is the average strength of the set compared to the overall average of all sets.
STR2 is the average strength of the set compared to the base set's average.


Edit 2/9: Oops. Somehow left P&D and F&W off the list ...

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Is it too early to start getting excited about GenCon this year?

My wife and I have already made our hotel reservations - we'll be demoing for Asmodee again. This year, I'll be bringing my camera and taking pictures with it. Last year, I didn't take nearly enough photos.

I helped demo a prototype to a publisher last night. It helps that the publisher in question is a friend of mine - he passed, but offered to take the game to The Gathing of Friends, which is huge. It means that he liked the game quite a bit, even though it doesn't fit his needs.

Beyond that, life is busy. Very busy right now - thus the more sporadic than normal update schedule. I've got a couple of posts almost ready to go and will publish them as soon as I put the last bits of polish on them.