Helping Losers

What’s the worst part about losing?

Unless you’re playing in some sort of gladiatorial win-or-die arena battle, it’s probably the experience of knowing you’re going to lose, then having to play on for hours more. As you’d expect, the problem gets worse both the longer a game is and the more strategic (and less random) a game is.

Fortunately, many games have catch-up mechanisms built into them. They’re generally an element that I appreciate greatly in games. On the other hand, you also have to be pretty careful. Between El Grande (a game which is overly tense because of the catchup mechanism) and Liberte (a game which I recently played where I admired the catchup mechanism), there’s room for both bad and good, and that’s what I’m going to talk about this week. Continue reading

Whose Job Is It? (Or: The Problem with Taj)

Last Saturday I played my best game of Reiner Knizia’s Taj Mahal ever. I finished the game with 63 points, pretty rare in my experience of 5-player games and pretty far ahead of everyone else.

I’d like to think that much of victory came due to good play. I did my best to optimize my hand, built a great set of connections that scored me 1+2+3+4+5+6+7 points over the course of the game, quickly gained the +2 yellow bonus card, and held it for half the game.

However, I also think there was another major factor in my win: No one stopped me.

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