Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Mr Skeletor’s Mailbag, 29th May

No mail came in this week, so I thought I would just put up some naked chicks in place of this column. But then at the 11th hour a letter came, so instead of naked chicks you get naked molerats.

Ryan “no breasts for you” Walberg writes

Dear Mr Skeletor,

I find myself the subject of disparaging remarks on BoardGameGeek whenever I criticize Yspahan, one of this year's Spiel des Jahres nominees. Can you recommend to me some sort of treatment by which I might come to love Yspahan so I may "fall in line", as it were? Failing that, is there somewhere else on the Internet I can post honest remarks about lousy games?

Your faithful reader,

Ryan Walberg (GeneralPF)


Ahh, Yspahan, a game I have never played but figured out an unbeatable strategy to after watching one game. I’d let you in on how to win, but Doug Adams swore me to secrecy, as he plans to win the Yspahan world championships with it and hand me the cash (he can keep the glory.)

To love Yspahan is simple, just stare at the Board Game Geek top 200 list and pray until its little wooden camels come to life and touch your heart. Besides it’s got dice, how bad can it be?

As far as a place on the internet that you can post honest remarks about lousy games, I’m not sure such a utopia exists. I was going to say you can do that here, but then I remembered that if you bag Fire and Axe in the comments section Barnes will cry.

If you have any mail or nudes for this segment (or my personal collection) send them to fortressat@gmail.com with “[mailbag]” in the header.

41 comments:

Michael Barnes said...

But if you bag DRAGON DICE, I'm _paid_ to cry, as is Robert Martin...

Ryan, I'd like to suggest this course of action the next time you see YSAPPYPAN: CAMEL CRISIS being played. Get a handful of Dragon Dice (preferably Undead or Frostwings) and roll them on the board. Bellow "This is a dice game you sorry fucks" and BGG acceptance will be yours forever.

Ken B. said...

Yes. Michael Barnes is THE definitive source for advice on how to "fit in" at BGG.


Other advice proffered by MB in the past:


"PM Aldie 5x a day about some minor bug on BGG you don't like."

"Put articles in the wrong forums. We all like boardgames, so someone will see them anyway."

"In a crowded room, just take out your private parts and wave them at passerbys."

Jack Hill said...

I admit, I like more Euros than many of the AT crowd.

But Ysaphan. It has 5 unrelated ways to score points. It is vaguely Arabic, with camels and buildings, and an inspector who walks the streets and mucks with things.

It is held together by a nifty dice system. The rest of the game is really tedious.

It would be a more interesting game if it were on fire.

Apotheos said...

Oh come on now. Dragon Dice was ridiculously dumb.

I've not played Ystif..er.Ystar...crap...(GwenStefani?), well, however its spelled. And I'm sure in no rush to do so.

Michael Barnes said...

I'm onto you "Jack Hill". All this time I thought you were the never-award winning director of such great films as SPIDER BABY, FOXY BROWN, and SWITCHBLADE SISTERS coming to share his love for boardgames but it's all just a clever charade to mask your REAL identity. Very clever indeed.

Maybe I should write an article here to help people like Ryan who are having trouble fitting in the BGG scene...I have a lot of helpful advice that I think might assist Ryan and others in fully integrating themselves into the Collective.

I downloaded the free YWASHAPPINEN software and got bored trying to figure out the rules, let alone play the damn thing. What a snoozer. I actually went back to doing work that day.

The fact that there's an inspector pretty much puts the game in the "t o burn" pile. Why is it when I play Euros like that I feel like I might be _FIRED_? Why would I want to play a game where I'm made to feel like I'm either interviewing for a job or in danger of getting laid off if I don't build the cathedral tall enough? I'd much rather be under threat of death.

RobertB said...

You guys have ruined me for a lot of Euros now. Anything with 'influence' or 'favor' in the description is now completely shot. It's like watching Spinal Tap - you can never take a rockumentary seriously ever again. Like you guys said, "Influence the king? Howsabout we burn down his villages, storm his castle, and cut off his fuckin' head?"

As far as Yspahan goes, it does play fast, so it's got that going for it. Aside from that, meh.

Michael Barnes said...

As far as Yspahan goes, it does play fast

So does Tic Tac Toe.

steve said...

Speaking of, there's an absolutely classic "Professor Euro" response to Havoc is Here's review on BGG of this game by cymric.

It's hilarious because he starts off with a nasty insult which is completely unmentioned by any of the other authors except for Havocishere. You have to be polite in your discourse on BGG unless you're defending a popular new Euro!

Michael Barnes said...

The best part about that guy's response is that he says that the OP is giving an "opinion" and not a review...and then proceeds to give his opinion.

Of course, he frames his opinion in such a way that it's completely irrefutable and his entire argument is founded solely on his confidence that his is the "right" way of thinking.

Pat H said...

Who is this "Yspahan" - I think it should have been spelled "pahansY" and you'd be in the right neighborhood.

RobertB said...

>>>
As far as Yspahan goes, it does play fast

So does Tic Tac Toe.
>>>

I do most of my gaming at a local gaming club, and a lot of times I'm waiting for the _real_ game or games of the evening to start. So having a few games you can stand that clock in at 30 minutes or so isn't necessarily a bad thing. One can only play so much Liar's Dice.

Michael Barnes said...

Hey, I'm with you...but I think the whole "it's short" argument in defense of a game is crap. I'd rather talk about movies or hear how someone's kids are doing than waste 15-20 minutes playing a worthless "filler" game.

I like short games well enough...but they have to actually be good games, not coast by by virtue of being short.

Jon said...

Yspahan is a good game, and not just because it's short. There are subtle choices and it's unusually strategic for a euro (esp. one so short). The dice create some luck, but also stifle any "pure planning" that sometimes drives people nuts (i.e., you can only optimize up to a point; there's no perfect solution if you just grind it out). Of course it has a pasted theme and cubes. Also, I think of the Supervisor as more of a foreman trying to get his camels loaded up before leaving town, rather than some fussy bureaucrat "approving" anything. He's blue collar all the way.

None of which means much to anyone around here, doubtless, but I rather like the game, and my wife loves it. It's not epic, and it's certainly euro to the core, but it's more than just a filler.

Michael Barnes said...

Also, I think of the Supervisor as more of a foreman trying to get his camels loaded up before leaving town, rather than some fussy bureaucrat "approving" anything. He's blue collar all the way.

Yeah, but he'll still fire your ass if you don't get those camels loaded...just like in that scene where Bud gets fired from his job as a lineman in URBAN COWBOY.

Jack Hill said...

Herr Barnes:

Of course "Jack Hill" is an alias for a person with fairly complete knowledge of many games, and a taste for esoteric movies.

Ysaphan is reasonably short and has a few choices, but it is mostly a whole bunch of bog standard Euro bits glued together with the dice.

Two years from now, it will never be spoken of again. Lost in the annals of time.

At least until it goes out of print, and people begin screaming that they should have been warned because they didn't buy one during the three years it was out of print and that the world has a RESPONSIBILITY to inform them of any twitch in the status of gaming.

Sadly, while people are raving about Ysaphan, they will totally diss Burg Apenzell which is a surprisingly involving little game.

With cute little mice.

jon said...

Yeah, but you (or somebody) told him to show up at your door to pick up some stuff. I think he'd kick your ass, not fire it, if you wasted his time.

Pat H said...

The last guy to "spill the jar" of yspahan got an earfull over at bgg, what a fuckin smell it leaves, not to mention the yspahan hands.

Just play crazy 8's instead, or better yet play quarters. The guy who tosses closest to the wall gets to keep all of the quarters - elegant yet dicey (fights can break out)with a clever gambling element.

In non-US countries you can substitute larger denomination coins to up the ante. I am working on a complete review once I wash my hands.

Mr Skeletor said...

Isn't this a game about Arabs though?
Doesn't that mean the foreman cuts your head off if you don't load his camels on time?

robartin said...

Ryan, you used to be a real pain in our ass. I'm glad to see that you're a real pain in someone else's ass now!

alan polak said...

I'm starting to think that the average Eurogamer is some kind of OCD walking zombie who can't do anything but play a game much less engage in non-gaming conversation. We have five free minutes in-between setting up the next snoozeathon what shall we do?". grab a smoke. have a coke. As fo Yspahan, well it may play well but it looks like shit so I would never give it a go. If I could do in real life what the game gets you to do, then I'd rather play something else. Thanks but uh no thanks.

Michael Barnes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Barnes said...

If I could do in real life what the game gets you to do, then I'd rather play something else.

This is EXACTLY the way I feel about a lot of things, like movies...why do I want to watch somebody's dad die for 2 hours or see something about a miserable family when I can watch something with robots, wizards, or robotic wizards.

But Ysparappatherapper might be "delightful", or even "a gem"...it could even be(dum dum dum!) "clever"...nothing beats workin' on the caravan for the company man.

I'd imagine that most Eurogamers see the entire world as strings of numbers and icons anyway, so I guess "going to work" while playing games suits them.

Ken B. said...

Someone actually recommended YJeffSuppan to me due to my liking the action dice system in War of the Ring so much.

I leafed over the instructions but failed to see the connection.

alan polak said...

We need less games where you do shit like gardening or baking a cake. "Check out our new game...Bank account...where you get to budget your bank account. players bid to see the bank manager and the winner is the one who manages to pay all his bills, represented by counters you collect. Anyone bouncing a check misses a go rather than paying a fine." I just don't get why people want to play this stuff. Someone tried to get me to play poker on xbox live. Why? xbox live lets you shoot people in the head or bludgeon them with your fists; both things that are frowned upon in Britain. Give me robot wizard pirates anyday. Thats entertainment

Shellhead said...

Alan, it seems like there is potential for somebody to do with gaming what L. Ron Hubbard did with religion... turn it into a lucrative scam. I mean, look at Eve... it vaguely resembles a cross between Firefly and E-Bay.

What if somebody designed an online game that duped gamers into doing real work for a real company or investor? Maybe a company could set up a simulation of the stock market, and predict real market activity by observing their own meta-game. Or attempt to divine consumer behavior by observing game activity. Or at the very least, get more aggressive about inserting product placement into games.

Michael Barnes said...

It'd be like ENDER'S GAME except with auctions, trade routes, and amoritization.

Gary Sax said...

That is a great post Shellhead.

Clarissimus said...

If I could do in real life what the game gets you to do, then I'd rather play something else.

I couldn't agree more. Though I must admit I probably won't have the chance in real life to load camels. Nevertheless, it would be a whole lot cooler to have fighting camel-riders.

Michael Barnes said...

Yeah, too bad YSOAPANDPONE wasn't developed by Richard Berg or something. There'd be special rules for camel spitting and a matrix indicating the combat value of a scimitar versus a turbaned head.

neonpeon said...

Even worse, the bank account sim wouldn't even make sense. You'd be changing roles every turn or something. Today I am depositing to my savings account, tomorrow I'm the bank teller taking the customer's cash, so I put the money in the bank, but wait, if I steal some of the money another player might choose the police officer and arrest me! Maybe I should carefully time it so I get to choose the police officer immediately after robbing the bank, before anyone else can arrest me.

Michael Barnes said...

But if you're the player on the right...

RobertB said...

I mean, look at Eve... it vaguely resembles a cross between Firefly and E-Bay.

I wish someone would come out with a _good_ MMORPG space trading/dogfighting/piracy game. Jumpgate had too many balance and exploit problems to be playable, the SWG space game was really cool but nobody played it, and Eve is a spreadsheet with pretty pictures AFAICT. Give me multiplayer Freelancer.

Michael Barnes said...

I was about to say Freelancer halfway through your post. Or Elite.

Fuck all that multiplayer stuff...games were better back when the only dialouge you had with other players was yelling at your friends in the same room or cussing at the controller. Between all the internet jargon/language butchery and its attendant idiocy and the alarming rate of addicition amongst players, I'll gladly take subpar AI over the typical MMORPG denizens.

Pat H said...

I've got a great game idea. It's a collectible marketing game. Basically you pay for a call list - then you begin cold calling all of the names on the list and attempt to schmooze them into seeing a rep in their home. You are awarded points for all of the appointments that you set up once you call them in to the office # located on the back of the box. The person who gets the most points is awarded a more promising list while the other players must purchase (err...COLLECT) another list.

Once the appointments turn into sales for frozen meat or real estate lets say(hands rubbing together)a central list posted on a game site will identify the top performers and award them imaginary gold and badges.

Oh let the fun begin....

Shellhead said...

While I was visiting old friends in Indiana last fall, they tried to recruit me for their World of Warcraft MMORPG team of players, a group of at least two dozen people in three midwestern states. Their group even took a vacation together in Las Vegas last year! It was the first chance that some of them had to meet face-to-face.

So I sat in while a couple of them went on a raid. It looked okay, like my favorite PC game only with better graphics. But over the course of the next few days, I realized that they were spending lots of time playing WoW, and that their group was extremely organized. It basically amounted to an unpaid second job for each of them.

Michael Barnes said...

Don't let Aldie see this. That's going to be F:AT's ticket to riches.

RobertB said...

But over the course of the next few days, I realized that they were spending lots of time playing WoW, and that their group was extremely organized. It basically amounted to an unpaid second job for each of them.

It's a drug, best stay away. I've got the level 70 toon to vouch for that, too.

Pat H said...

If I'm not halucinating, staggering and being dazzled by lights( big bright ones )then it's not worth the addiction. Don't get me wrong I love PC games but these MMO's are just fucked. Talk about a time sink...

Now..back to "TeleSpiel und Sell"...

alan polak said...

"I've got a great game idea. It's a collectible marketing game. Basically you pay for a call list - then you begin cold calling all of the names on the list and attempt to schmooze them into seeing a rep in their home. You are awarded points for all of the appointments that you set up once you call them in to the office # located on the back of the box. The person who gets the most points is awarded a more promising list while the other players must purchase (err...COLLECT) another list."

This is fantastic. Glengarry Glen Ross- The Boardgame. The tag line can be " get them to sign the line that is dotted you fucking faggots!

simon said...

WoW?

Is that the new Pac-Man?

Michael Barnes said...

No. People left their parents' basements to go play Pac Man.