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Month May 2009

Searching for Cosmic Poker

I have always been hesitant to review games because I think negative reviews are important, but it pains me giving them and for a game designer it can seem self serving to give them. But I do have a lot to say in terms of game review and have recently come up with an idea of how to approach it. My main interest in game review is to evaluate games in terms of a criteria that are important to me, and often, I believe, underappreciated. One game that scores well in terms of these criteria is Poker – not Texas Hold’em or any form of poker in particular, but poker as a family of games. Another game that scores well, and may cover any weaknesses poker has is Cosmic Encounter. My game reviews are going to focus on my search for their lovechild – Cosmic Poker. Games will have these characteristics in varying degrees – which won’t in generally correspond to them being good or bad in anyones mind, but perhaps closer or further from Cosmic Poker.

Podcast #2: Variations in Game Setup

Listen in on game designers Tyler Bielman, Skaff Elias and Richard Garfield as they talk about the many differences between games that have the same setup every time (like chess) versus games where the setup changes vastly from game to game (like Magic: The Gathering). But how do “meta-rules” develop for games with this much difference from session to session? And what about Tiger Woods playing miniature golf? Tune in for answers to these questions as the second Games with Garfield podcast rolls out.

LINKS: Settlers of Catan | Cosmic Encounter | Dominion | “Damn 7” t-shirts | Historical miniatures games | Race for the Galaxy | Agricola | Chainmail | Dungeons and Dragons | Magic: The Gathering | Civilization | Spectromancer



Podcast #1: Cooperative Games

The first Games with Garfield podcast is like your first glass of scotch; a little rough at first but then it smoothes out and eventually you just can’t get enough. A touch of tabletop industry news is followed by a rousing discussion of Dungeons & Dragons as a cooperative game. The conversation evolves into a detailed examination of cooperative games. Join game designers Tyler Bielman, Skaff Elias and Richard Garfield as they dig into concepts like time pressure, team dynamics and the always enigmatic “fuzz-o-rama” communication rules.

LINKS FROM THE NEWS: Yu-Gi-Oh | Huntik Tutorial | Battle Spirits | DuelMasters | Fight Klub

LINKS FROM THE SHOW: Dungeons & Dragons | Shadows over Camelot | Pandemic | Arkham Horror (referred to as Call of Cthulhu) | World of Warcraft | Schizoid | Break the Safe | Werewolf / Mafia | Battlestar Galactica




Ninja is a game played with a standard 52 card deck, for 3-5 players. The basic version of Ninja is also known as “Shithead”, or “Underbelly.” It is a fast game with a bit of skill and a lot of luck. There are different versions of this game around, what follows is my favorite version.