gwalla: (blow me)
CANABALT

A giant robot battle rages in the city around you. Trapped on a high floor of an office building, you can feel the structure is about to give way. The only way to escape is to run. Run! Run run run!

Very similar gameplay to Robot Unicorn Attack (this one came first), but even more minimal: your only button is jump, and there is no double jumping. The terrain is the roofs and hallways of buildings, and the occasional building cranem so it's basically flat, with the only variations being in building height. Scoring is completely by distance traveled, with no bonuses. On the other hand, there are small obstacles that slow you down if you run into them, crumbling buildings start to collapse as you run across them, the bombs will sometimes land on the rooftops, making instant obstacles, and for really tall buildings you have to aim for and smash through windows, action movie style. The graphics, while entirely grayscale, are surprisingly sophisticated and evocative: birds on rooftops take wing when you land a jump, the silhouettes of hulking mecha wander among clouds of billowing smoke in the background, aircraft buzz by overhead, and glass shatters into bouncing bits. And the music, an ominous chiptune with IDM-like snare rushes, is fantastic.

It doesn't have the over-the-top campy charm of RUA, but it's a great little indie game.
gwalla: (smash my enemies)
Been working on another chess variant. It's a "large board" (10x10) type, and to some extent a kitchen sink variant incorporating a bunch of pieces I find interesting. Still, even though it's not really finished yet, I think it holds some promise.

Each side starts with ten pawns on the third rank, "elemental" pieces on the second rank, and "complex" pieces on the first rank. The elemental pieces are the Rook, Knight, Bishop, and Squire. The complex pieces are the Lionheart King, Queen, Archbishop, Marshall, Cavalry, Gryphon, Hippogriff, and Unicorn.

The Rook, Bishop, and Queen move as they do in standard chess. The Knight is enhanced: It moves as a standard chess knight but, if the square it jumps to is unoccupied, it has the option of sliding one more space diagonally away from its starting rank and file. This sliding move may be used to capture. The Squire (S) moves like a standard chess King, but is not royal: it is not prohibited from moving onto a threatened square, and can be captured like any other piece.

The complex pieces consist of each compound of two elemental pieces, and a "bent" or extended form of each elemental move. The compounds are the Queen (Rook + Bishop, of course), Archbishop (bishop + knight), Marshall (Rook + Knight), and Cavalry (Knight + Squire).

The Gryphon is taken from Grande Acedrex, a very old variant of medieval chess (Shatranj), where it is called a giraffe. Its move is one step diagonally followed by any number of orthogonal steps away from its starting rank or file. It is a "bent rook". The Hippogriff* is its counterpart, starting with a single orthogonal step and proceeding diagonally away from its starting rank and file. It is a "bent bishop".

The Unicorn is a bit odd: it slides any number of spaces, alternating orthogonal and diagonal steps. If another piece is in its path, it may jump that piece like a standard chess knight, but must stop after the jump. This is the extended version of the knight-move.

The Lionheart King takes the place of the bent or extended Squire, and is the royal piece that must be checkmated to win. It takes its name from the lion from Chu Shogi and Dai Shogi**. It moves as a standard chess king, but as a half action, and a player may make one or two half actions in a single turn. It is thus able to capture two pieces in a turn, or capture and move back to its starting square (the latter called igui), though there are restrictions. It cannot end its turn on a threatened square (same as standard chess), it cannot capture on or move through a threatened square to capture unless it captures the only piece threatening that square ("check en passant"), it cannot take its second step if it captures a pawn on the first step ("pawn stalling") and if it starts its move in check it may only take one step unless the second step would capture the only piece giving check ("staring down"). There is no castling; the king is much more mobile in this variant, so there seems to be less need (also, the king and rooks start on different ranks).

Pawns have the same basic move as in standard chess: moving passively one step directly forward, and capturing one step on either forward diagonal. There are a few differences, however. When sitting on the third rank, it can also move passively one step diagonally forwards, but loses this ability as soon as it has left that rank. A pawn move is a half-action, like the Lionheart King's move, but a single pawn cannot be moved twice on a single turn (in other words, you can move two pawns per turn). The only exception is if the pawn has not moved on a previous turn: in that case, it may make two passive moves. A pawn that has made a double move as its first move may be captured by an enemy pawn on the opponent's following turn as if it had only made the first of its two moves (en passant capture). No more than one pawn may capture on a single turn.

To balance first move advantage, white's first pawn move is a full action.

Pawns may promote when they reach the 9th or 10th rank. A pawn may only promote to a piece that has been previously captured by the opponent. Promoting a pawn is a half action, with two restrictions: no more than one of each player's pawns may promote in a turn, and a promotion cannot be the only action taken (at least one half action must move a piece). All of the pieces that a pawn may promote to move as a full action, so it's not possible on a single turn to promote a sitting pawn and then take the promoted piece's move.

Half actions may be mixed. For example, in a single turn a player may move two pawns, or move and promote one pawn, or move a pawn and the king (one space), or move the king two spaces, or move the king one space and promote a pawn.

I haven't really decided on a board setup yet. I think I want to keep the king and queen next to each other in the middle. There are 4 2nd-rank piece types and 10 files, so there will be four of one piece on that rank (probably the guards; they're a bit cannon-foddery) and two of each of the others.

*In his article on bent riders on chessvariants.org, Ralph Betza names this piece the "Aanca", but I don't like that name. It's just Spanish for "gryphon". I prefer Hippogriff because it is like a gryphon, but also like a horse (knight): its move includes the Xiangqi horse (mao, a knight that cannot jump), and it always ends up on a square of the color opposite the one it started on. CV.org uses "hippogriff" for a limited form of the Gryphon, but they seem unlikely to coexist in a single game.

**Old, larger variants of shogi. Chu shogi ("middle shogi") was played with 46 pieces per side on a 12x12 board. Dai shogi ("large shogi") used 65 pieces per side on a 15x15 board. Sho shogi ("small shogi") was played on a 9x9 and evolved directly into modern shogi.
gwalla: (Default)
Got to thinking about chess variants lately. Specifically, spicing up pawn promotions.

In standard chess, technically a pawn that reaches the back row can promote to any first-rank piece other than the king. In practice, it almost always promotes to a queen, and only very very rarely to a knight. There's no point in promoting to rook or bishop, since the queen contains the moves for both. The choice of promotion would be more interesting if the pawn could promote to any compound of simple first-rank pieces: the queen (bishop+rook), archbishop (bishop+knight), or marshall (rook+knight). Possibly other pieces of similar strength as well.

The idea of allowing pawn promotion to fairy chess pieces not found in the starting array is not new. My idea is for the promotion to be undeclared, and revealed by how the piece is moved. There would therefore be an element of deduction on the part of the opposing player. For example, if the promoted pawn slides orthagonally, the player knows that it has a rook component (a queen or marshall); if it later makes a knight's move, it must be a marshall.

A bit like a particle in quantum mechanics, its move only "collapses" into something definite as it is observed. Until the player commits to a specific move, it could be anything. In other words, the player doesn't have to decide on a promotion as soon as the pawn reaches the back row, but fixes components as he goes. If only one component has been used (for example, an orthagonal move meaning the piece is part rook), the player can still keep his options open and decide whether it's also part knight or part bishop later.

We can say that a pawn that has reached the 8th rank but has not moved yet is unexposed: its nature is not known. One that has made only one type of move is partly exposed. One that has made two types of moves is fully exposed: its move possibilities are fixed, and it is effectively

The problem here is that a pawn that is not yet fully exposed is immensely powerful. If it is unexposed, it threatens all of the squares for any of its potential moves (since it's free to choose any of those moves as a component). If partly exposed, it still threatens all squares for all possible components, because it is still indeterminate between the two unknown components. This is way too powerful, effectively an amazon (rook+bishop+knight): the game Maharajah and the Sepoys pits a single royal (kinglike: unable to move into threatened squares, game lost if it cannot escape capture) amazon on one side against an entire chess army on the other, and the full army only barely outclasses it. To fix this, we can rule that squares are only threatened if the player reveals that they are on his turn (explicit), or they are threatened by a move that has already been exposed (implicit). If the space is not threatened (explicitly or implicitly), the promoted pawn is not allowed to capture a piece that moves there on the next turn (although it may fix a component later that would have allowed it to make that capture if it had been set beforehand).

This rule could also be limited to determining threatened squares only for purposes of giving check (since a king is not allowed to move into check).

Let's add another possible promotion to the mix. A piece with the king's move (minus royal restrictions and castling) is called a "mann", and is a valid basic piece that could be used as a component. The combination of a mann and knight is called a centaur, and while it is short-range and seems weak, it is actually a pretty strong piece in the same range as the previously mentioned compounds (and maybe a bit stronger than the bishop+knight). Mann+bishop and mann+rook can be safely ignored; while perfectly valid pieces in their own right, they are both subsets of the queen and therefore redundant in this case.

The addition of this piece causes some interesting complications. A single-space move, orthagonal or diagonal, no longer unambiguously reveals a full component (a knightwise move still reveals a knight component on its own). A piece that has made a knight's move and a single-space orthagonal move may be a marshall or a centaur (if it also makes a single-space diagonal move, though, it's clearly a centaur; if it slides more than one space orthagonally, it's clearly a marshall). A piece that has made a single-space diagonal move and a knightwise move could be archbishop or centaur. One that has moved only like a king may be queen or centaur.

Now another type of piece: the bent riders gryphon and aanca. Technically these aren't compound pieces at all: a gryphon moves one space diagonally followed by sliding at least one orthagonally away from the starting space; the aanca swaps these (one orthagonal, multiple diagonal). However, I believe they around the same range of strength, especially in the endgame when the board is relatively cleared out. They also make deductions more complicated, because they include the knight's move, but not exactly. Unlike a knightwise jump, they can be blocked: a gryphon on a diagonally adjacent square, the aanca on an orthagonally adjacent square. An unimpeded knight's move could be any piece but a queen, but if there was a piece in the way, the possibilities narrow.

While it seems like this element of uncertainty would be a sort of "wild card", the game is still actually deterministic. It may not seem so, but it is still a complete information game: the possible moves of every piece are known to both players.

Another way of achieving a "black box" effect of pawn promotions would be for a player who promotes a pawn to determine at the time of promotion which piece it now is, note it down, and hold to that decision. Under this rule, there would be no "declared threat": if the piece can capture with one of its moves, it can, and if the opposing player moves his king to a threatened square, he must be told that he has moved into check and allowed to take back the move. While this is probably easier to understand, it actually does add an incomplete information aspect to the game, and would play very differently. Call this one "Clue Chess".
gwalla: (domoslide)
This game has to be seen to be disbelieved. Metal Wolf Chaos, the heartwarming story of a President of the United States and his trustworthy mecha. Think Air Force One in mecha anime form, but with dialogue ten times worse.



And speaking of SIPPING some DELICIOUS DARJEELING TEA, behold the Chap Olympics, a sporting meet for "traditional gentlemen who are against the vulgarity of modern culture", including events such as the Three-Trousered Limbo, Pipe Relay, and a competition to mix a dry martini (without the aid of a butler).
gwalla: (do want)
WANT

(It doesn't even sound like that great a game, but still...Centipede! The board game!)
gwalla: (Default)
rooaar roar ROOOAAARRRR roooaarr jokermage RRRRROAAR, rooooaaar roar ROOOAR flash roooooarr

RROOOOOAAAAAARRR!

(pew pew!)
gwalla: (rage baby)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] derakon (damn his eyes), I've gotten somewhat addicted to Dwarf Fortress, a freeware "sim" game with elements of roguelike adventure games (like Nethack). Basically, you're in charge of a group of dwarven pioneers in a fantasy setting, and your job is to lead them to create a successful fortress. But not just a fortress. It starts out as a small outpost, but over time it grows with the influx of migrants (and eventually, children), whose presence demands ever greater production, until the thing is basically one enormous city. You have to manage not only digging and building, but food supplies, farming (which can be done underground! mushrooms are delicious), brewing (even more important than cooking), trading with caravans from the elves, humans, and other dwarves, little dwarfy justice, defense against monster and goblin attacks, keeping nobles happy, making clothes, felling trees, and and and and.... It's ridiculously in-depth, but you can't micromanage (you can't just tell specific dwarves to go specific places, you can only set their tasks and tell them where certain things should be put). And you have to keep them happy, because surly dwarves sometimes go on rampages! It's like an intricate dollhouse full of dolls with minds of their own. And there's even a wiki with articles on all of the different aspects of the game.

It's definitely got its problems. The pseudo-ASCII "graphics" have their charms, but are frequently cryptic (What is that @ sign and what's it doing wandering through the storerooms?!). Recent versions have 3D landscapes, but earlier ones were all on a single plane, and the interface for dealing with the z-axis seems tacked on and hard to deal with. The game is so complex that you really have to read all of the introductory articles on the wiki (especially Quick launch, Starting builds, What should I build first?, and Your first fortress) plus the articles on the basic workshops, buildings, and items, and the one on noise, before you start or you'll find that you've screwed yourself over from the beginning (and remember to always check the wiki on any given building before planning it, so you don't put the only door to the room in a place that's blocked off by the contents!). And it's keyboard-only, which is clunky.

But damn, once you start playing it's hard to stop!

Plans for teh futare )

(For lulz, and to see what got me to check out the game in the first place, see this "Let's Play!" of an earlier (2D) version, by some Something Awful goons trading off being in charge of the legendary fortress "Boatmurdered". It's a laugh riot.)
gwalla: (kid vid)
Oh god.



(thanks to [livejournal.com profile] heykidzcomix)
gwalla: (halloween)
This Sunday I found out that one of my favorite songwriters, Roky Erickson, will be performing in San Francisco this Thursday. AIUI, he doesn't tour very much, so this is a rare opportunity. Unfortunately, Thursday is Game Night for me & my friends. Normally I'd just skip game night, but we didn't game last week and I'll be skipping it for sure next week (to see Night of the Lepus as part of the Parkway Theater's Thrillville b-movie series with some friends from work). So that's three weeks down, two of which my character* won't be leveling up with the other characters, which would put him pretty far behind, and he's already one of the weaker party members. And, well, I've kind of been fiending for some D&D action (I'm not proud). Either way I'm going to regret my decision.

Oh well. I'll be seeing a documentary on Roky tomorrow night, and I can make up my mind then.

*Kamandi, a Wild Elf scout. It's a prehistoric D&D campaign. Dungeons & Dinos!
gwalla: (domoslide)
The Gilligan's Island theme in the form of a board game recommendation list.

Game fans will also get a kick out of some of the comments.
gwalla: (domoslide)
Been a while since I've messed with chess variants. Here's one based on chess's predecessor, Shatranj (aka medieval chess). It uses a standard 8x8 board, and can be played with a standard set of pieces with a couple of additions (checkers will do in a pinch).

There are 7 kinds of pieces in the starting array:
  • Pawn - These behave just like Shatranj pawns (i.e. like modern chess pawns without an initial double-step option or en passant).
  • Knight - The same as modern chess knights (leaping in an L-shape over any intervening pieces). The knight promotes to a warrior.
  • Fers (councillor) - Steps one square at a time diagonally. In Shatranj, this is the equivalent of the modern queen, but here it replaces the alfil (elephant), which is the equivalent of the modern bishop. The fers promotes to a bishop.
  • Thief - Leaps two squares diagonally or orthogonally over any intervening pieces. Fairy chess problemists call this piece an "alibaba" (alfil + dabbabah), so I called it a thief. It is colorbound, and can only visit ¼ of the squares on the board. If necessary, it may be represented on the board by a single checker (black for black, red for white). It promotes to an assassin.
  • Wazir (vizier) - Steps one square at a time orthogonally. Represented in a modern set by the queen. It promotes to a grand vizier.
  • Rook - The same as the modern rook: sliding any number of squares orthogonally until reaching an obstacle or the edge of the board. It is the one starting piece that does not promote.
  • King - Same as the modern chess king. Moves one square at a time orthogonally or diagonally. It may not move into a threatened square nor remain under attack at the end of the player's turn (check), and the game is lost when it cannot avoid capture (checkmate). It promotes to a warrior king.
Each player has 8 pawns, one king, one wazir, and two of each other piece. Pawns start on the third rank, rooks in the corners of the first rank, and everything else on the second rank in the order. The thieves are the outermost pieces, followed by the knights, then the fers, with the king and wazir in the middle. The king is on the left and the wazir on the right for white, and vice versa for black: think a stardard chess setup with thieves in place of rooks, fers in place of bishops, and wazir in place of queen.

The following pieces are obtained only through promotion. To mark them, I suggest placing a checker under the basic piece (so a warrior would be a knight on top of a checker, an assassin would be a stack of two checkers, etc.).
  • Warrior - This piece may move as a knight, or may move one space orthogonally.
  • Bishop - The same as a modern bishop: sliding any number of squares diagonally until reaching an obstacle or the edge of the board.
  • Assassin -The thief does not gain a new form of movement by promotion. Instead, it gains a new form of capture, by overtaking: the assassin may capture by jumping over an enemy piece and landing on an unoccupied square. While it is still can only visit ¼ of the squares on the board, it is capable of capturing pieces on all squares with the exception of the player's first rank and the file opposite where the thief started. Note that the assassin may only capture by overtaking if its landing square is empty; it cannot capture two pieces (one by overtaking, one by displacement) in a single move.
  • Grand Vizier - Moves as a king (one square, any direction), but is not subject to restrictions against moving into or staying in threatened squares, and it may be captured like any other piece. It may additionally promote to a regent by returning to the player's first rank.
  • Warrior King - May move as a king or as a knight. Rules regarding check and checkmate are still in force.
  • Regent - Moves as a king or grand vizier. When a player has a regent, he is immune to check and checkmate, and his king (or warrior king) may freely move into or stay in threatened squares. If the king is captured, the regent immediately becomes the new king (thus there is no more regent, and check and checkmate are once again enforced). Note that if a warrior king is captured, the regent still only becomes a plain king, not a warrior king; however, it may promote as a king.
A piece is promoted by landing on the 8th rank (the opponent's home row). Promotion is automatic.

Checkmate is a win. Stalemate is a win. Baring the king (capturing all of an opponent's pieces except for the king) is a win, unless the opponent can bare one's own king in the next move, which is a draw. There is no castling and no en passant. These rules are all the same as in shatranj.

The occasional rule that a king in check may switch places with a friendly piece once in a game is not present (the wazir/grand vizier/regent promotion track serves a similar purpose). The medieval chess rule of the "king's leap" (the ability for a king to make a knight's move once per game) is also not present (the promotion of the king to warrior king gives a more general mechanism for this).

The idea is to get a more dynamic game using primarily short-range pieces (like classic shatranj). The two sides start very close to each other, letting the weaker pieces get into the thick of things more quickly. All of the pieces' movements are either found in shatranj or shatranj variants (like Tamerlane Chess), or are combinations of those moves. For example, the thief combines the 2-square diagonal leap of the traditional shatranj alfil (a very weak piece, only capable of reaching 1/8 of the squares on the board!) with the 2-square orthogonal leap of the dabbabah (war machine), which is found in some old variants. The only exception is the assassin's capture, which has no equivalent in any predecessor or traditional relative of chess (with the possible exception of the chu shogi lion, which is considerably more powerful). The double promotion of the wazir and "substitute king" rule is adapted from the "pawn of pawns" and "pawn of kings" rules of Tamerlane Chess.

The assassin's capture can be quite dangerous: an assassin may capture a piece that is "protected" by another piece without risk of being captured.

I haven't decided how pawns should promote. One option is to let them promote to any other starting piece (other than the king, of course), which can not promote further. Another is to stick with the shatranj promotion rule in this case and only allow them to promote to the queen-equivalent (in this case, the wazir) without being able to promote further. Still another would be to allow promotion to any basic type, with the ability to promote further by reaching the player's 1st rank. I'm undecided.

Another change I'm pondering is adding two more thieves to the initial array (bringing it up to 4 thieves per player), starting on the 1st rank, each a knight's move away from the closest thief on the 2nd rank. This would allow all of a player's thieves, taken together, to visit any square on the board. Since these 1st-rank thieves could never reach the 8th rank, they would have to promote on the 7th. I'm currently leaning towards this.
gwalla: (cactus christ)
The Super Smash Bros. Brawl trailer...done in a WWE wrestling game! Pikachu as a wrestler is freaky as hell.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] danihana for the link.
gwalla: (osaka huh?)
Happy little trees on the Nintendo Revolution.

A Bob Ross video game.

Yeah.
gwalla: (Default)
I've been to a couple more poker nights since the first, and have enjoyed myself (even though I have yet to come out ahead). I'm not a great gambler by any means, but I do like calling weird variants. Here are a few that we've played (aside from plain old Texas hold 'em, which is our default game):
  • My invention Crosstown Traffic was well-received. It's been called more than once since I first called it, and not just by me. At the last game, John said he thought the pattern in which cards are dealt to the board was a little hard to remember. I'm not sure what would be easier to remember though. Still, it makes for a pretty good game, and would probably play even better in a larger group.
  • Sixpack was another good one (and the one I was most successful at).
  • Baseball was a surprise hit. [livejournal.com profile] vcwhitey called it the first time, but John really liked it, probably because it makes people bet like lunatics. The way we play, 3 and 9s are wild, a player who receives a 3 as an upcard must pay a penalty of 10¢ (one white chip, the lowest denomination) or fold, and a 4 dealt as an upcard means the player receives an additional hole card before the final betting round. Silly, but fun, and the pot gets pretty big. Last Friday, another guy (Thomas) called the type of Baseball he was used to, with 4s resulting in an immediate hole card, the ability to turn a 4 dealt to the hole up to receive another card, and payment only required to make 3s wild. It wasn't as popular.
  • Last Friday I introduced Oxford stud, a combined stud/community card variant invented at MIT, and it was also well received. The combination of upcards and community cards is an interesting twist.
  • Ivy League Baseball was an ad-hoc invention I called last Friday: it's Oxford stud with Baseball rules. Community cards count as an upcard to everybody, so a 4 to the board gets everyone an extra hole card, and a 3 means that everyone (starting with the highest hand showing and going clockwise) must pay up or fold. It was kind of chaotic, but people seemed to enjoy it.
  • Low hole wild was called by Thomas. 7-card stud with each player's lowest card in the hole, and all cards of the same rank, wild for them only. Pretty fun.
  • We tried out Anaconda. Thomas's version gave everyone 7 cards and included 3 passes in alternating directions, and a rollout. It was confusing and nobody was particularly happy with it. I called the version I knew, where everyone got 6 cards, the passes all went to the left, and there were betting rounds between passes with no rollout. It too was a bust. I think we've all decided that nobody's going to be calling Anaconda again.
  • Thomas also called Screw Your Neighbor. It's technically not poker at all: everyone antes up three stakes of a set amount (usually one white chip), and receives a card. Starting with the player to dealer's left, the player may keep his card or exchange it with the player to his left. The last player in the rotation may keep his card or discard it and draw one from the deck. Then everyone reveals their cards: the lowest card must put one of their stakes into the pot. Then everyone is dealt a new card and the rotation starts again with the next player. Once a player has lost all three of his stakes, he is out. The last player standing wins the pot. A good game, although the winnings are a bit limited. We played a few times with 10¢ stakes, at least once with 20¢ stakes, and one time with $1 stakes. $1 is probably too much, really.
  • I called Russian Revolution, which is another 7-stud with a bunch of wild cards and penalties like Baseball. In this case, aces, 9s, and 7s are wild (think 1917). Receiving a face card (K Q J) requires you to pay a penalty and receive a replacement—you can't win with royalty showing (although face cards in the hole are safe). The reaction was mixed. I dunno if I'll bother calling it again.
We played a couple of other variants, but I've forgotten what they were.

I've got some ideas for other variants floating around in my head. I may post about them when I feel like they've solidified.

I also just received a 6-handed 500 deck I ordered online from Newt's Playing Cards. This is a regular Bicycle deck but with extra ranks: 11s and 12s for all suits, and 13s for red suits, making a total of 62 cards. I might try breaking this out on poker night just to see what happens. I'm also considering getting a Stardeck (13 ranks with a 5th suit) and/or an Empire Deck (13 suits, 6 suits). I wish I could find a Sextet deck (another 6-suit deck, but with the new suits in blue instead of one red and one black), because that would actually make the russ (a nonstandard hand: 5 cards of the same color) somewhat valuable, but they're long out of print. One of the variant ideas I've been playing with would basically require a 6-suit deck with 2 jokers to be playable without running the risk of running out of cards.
gwalla: (psychedelic banana)
My gaming group's current campaign has nearly reached its conclusion and is starting to wind down. Consequently, we've been talking about what our next game should be. We'd pretty much settled on a homebrew Star Wars D20.

But today I ran across this.

Hmm.
gwalla: (halloween)
I'm at a loss as to what to do at this Thursday night's gaming session. My character's on a quest to obtain an ancient artifact and bring it back to his people (it was originally theirs, or rather the property of one of their gods, but was stolen and taken to another country). I was basically expecting a search-for-the-long-lost-doohickey situation, but when the group got to the capital city of the country where it was taken, it turns out it wasn't long lost after all. In fact, it's on display in the front of the temple of their god*. One of my allies is a priest of that god. And he's starting to question why he should be helping me do this, since it'd essentially be stealing his people's prized artifact (see, to them it's the weapon of their legendary hero, and they don't think of it as stolen, more a "spoils of war" sort of thing).

There have been hints that the one on display is actually a fake (I won't go into details, because I'd have to describe a lot of the game world and it'd take forever). That means grabbing & dashing isn't really an option, which is just as well since my guy is a (rather weak & lousy) warrior, not a rogue. But that doesn't help with the main problem, which is balancing accomplishing my quest with not pissing off my teammate.

I'm completely at a loss.
gwalla: (kid vid)
God only knows what possessed me to devise my own poker variant, as the one time I've played poker (Texas hold 'em) I didn't enjoy myself very much. I suppose it's the same reason I fiddle with constructed languages, and come up with video game designs that will never get programmed. I find playing with ideas more interesting than how they are put into practice. So, even though I didn't enjoy playing, I still had a grand old time looking up existing types of poker*. And whenever I go info-trawling, I end up thinking about putting my own spin on the subject. Hell, I even half-assed came up with my own fictional Gnostic sect after reading a bunch of pseudepigrapha.

Without any further ado:

Crosstown Traffic
(aka Three-By-Three Hold 'Em)

This is a community card variant (like Texas hold 'em or Omaha), with a board of nine cards arranged in a 3×3 square. It's inspired by Double-Board Hold 'Em (the way the pot is split by boards rather than high/low), Tic-Tac-Toe Poker (the square board), and to a lesser extent Sixpack (the way the board deals are arranged to evenly distribute information between phases).

The initial deal is three hole cards face down to each player, then a betting round. After that, the shared board is dealt three cards at a time in three phases—the flop, turn, and river—each followed by a betting round. The flop, turn, and river are dealt in the following pattern**:
F T R
T R F
R F T
where F is a card dealt in the flop, T one in the turn, and R in the river. Within each phase, the cards are dealt left to right.

After the river and the final betting round is the showdown. The highest row hand (two of the player's hole cards together with any three-card row) and the highest column hand (two hole cards plus any column) split the pot, cards speak. It is possible for a player to scoop by having the highest row hand and the highest column hand. There is no rule that the player's row hand and column hand use the same two hole cards (although obviously they will have at least one in common). Also, if playing with wild cards, a wild card on the board does not have to play as the same rank and suit in the column as it does for the row for the same player.

*Incidentally, poker variants have some of the silliest names, like Spit in the Ocean (actually seems to be two different variants by that name), Crazy Pineapple, and Kenosha Cheese Porn. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (which Larry Niven once belonged to) was rather prolific when it comes to oddly-named poker variants, among which are Double Jesus, Low Flying Outhouse, Hot Pastrami, Metaphysical Hyena, Piggish Mopsqueezer, and Terminal Acne.

**Actually, any arrangement that results in each row and column receiving exactly one new card per phase would work. The order of these subpatterns could be swapped around, or the whole pattern could be mirrored, or both, and the players would still have the same amount of information about the board at the end of each phase. Likewise, the actual order of cards dealt within a phase is irrelevant. However, it's important to follow a mutually agreed upon pattern to avoid accusations of dealer cheating, and the given arrangement is as good as any other and less confusing than some, so it's recommended.

P.S. Does anybody else think that stud poker should be played with a bigger deck than other kinds?
gwalla: (Default)
Found a fun new flash game: Levers

The object is to cause the little dial at the top to turn, by hanging objects on the scales (just click and drag the hooks to the hanger loops). Every time it makes a full revolution, you get a new object to hang. Each object has a different weight, and some have special properties:
  • The water bucket has a spigot at the bottom that can be opened by hovering the pointer over it. You can adjust its weight in this manner. To refill, dip it in the water at the bottom of the screen.
  • Hanging the birdhouse for the first time summons birds. They will sometimes go into the birdhouse, but also alight on the hangers, and they have their own weight. They're kind of frustrating, because they have a habit of moving right when you're about to achieve the necessary balance. You can cause them to take off and find a new roost by hovering the pointer.
  • The snowman will eventually melt until only his hat is left. This takes a while.
  • The sponge absorbs water if you dip it, but will dry out (and become lighter) over time.
I've gotte up to what appears to be the Head of God, but after that I'm kinda stumped.

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Garth

December 2011

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