Thursday, November 28, 2013

#9: Risk Legacy (Mark's 100 - 2012)

Risk Legacy 

Mark's Ranking
  • 2012: 9th
  • 2010: 65th (Risk: Black Ops)
  • 2005: new
  • rank: 94
  • rating: 7.83
Print Status
  • not in print... but still not difficult to find a copy
Why It's On The List
  • What if a game remembered what had happened during the previous games... and that game told an epic story? That's always been true in role-playing games - but Rob Daviau's brilliant design idea took the core engine of Risk to a whole new & wonderful mind-warping level.
Tips & Tricks:
  • I’m not sure how to extol the virtues of this wonderous Risk reboot without spoiling some of its well-hidden charms, but I’ll give it a shot.

    Risk: Legacy is…
    • …a product of nearly a decade of experimenting with this classic game system. (It incorporates ideas from Risk 2210 & Risk: Black Ops to make the game shorter & yet packed with thematic touches.)
    • …an innovative board game concept – something we don’t see nearly as often as we’d like to think. (The whole “open this pack of cards when this happens” way of changing the game is brilliant.)
    • …a reminder of what was really great about my old RPG days – we’re working together to tell a story about this new world we’re fighting over. (In our case, the founding of Great Humongustan, the DEW line populated with installations left over from the Battle of the Northern Wastes… and most recently, the Cataclysm in Southern Europe.)
    • …gamer catnip. (Let me explain – each time you get to open a new packet, it feels very similar to the “rush” you get when opening a new game or game expansion. And it not only gives you the “new car smell” effect, the added stuff takes the story of the game in a new direction.)
    • …fun even for people who don’t particularly like Risk. (One of the guys in our group – the founder of Great Humongustan – is not a fan of “dudes on a map w/dice” games & esp. not a fan of Risk. Yet he had a grand time playing Risk: Legacy with us… and even commented when he arrived after a game had started that “it was just fun watching you guys play.”)
  • If you choose to buy this here in the U.S., go to BGG and download/print the bonus cards which were not officially released stateside.
  • More importantly, don't spend a lot of time reading about the game before you play it! let the surprises catch you unawares - one of the packet reveals is easily one of the best gaming experiences I've had in the last 10 years.
  • I'm currently part of the playtest for SeaFall - Rob's new Legacy game design. You can read pretty much all I can I say about it in this blog post from September: SeaFall - Legacy Rides Again!


If you feel a need to catch up on my admittedly-aging Top 100 as of February 2012 list, you can check out:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Classic: Pig Quotes

This is yet another classic musical post for you to enjoy - and I've enhanced it with video clips from the various artists!

In The Tale of The Pig, I told the story of The Pig & his autograph book. Just thought I'd share with you some of the other signatures & some random thoughts.

Hokus Pick

To The Pig,

We are more than excited to start this book for you. You better behave because we really like bacon.


Hey Pig,

Keep God #1. Love His Truth!


When Ricky realized that exactly what The Pig was, he complained to me that he'd really signed the wrong thing. "I coulda been funnier!"


Cleanliness is next to godliness. But that's not actually in the Bible. So stay dirty!



P- Peace of God

I - God is incredible.

G - God, God, God, God, Good.


Steve Taylor

To The Pig,

I think you're gonna be a big, big star...

Your friend, Steve Taylor

This is one of two Steve Taylor autographs I own. The other is on a postcard he sent the youth group after we sent him a copy of a music video we did of his song, "Bannerman." It reads: "You guys have a great future in film and/or in jail."

DC Talk

To a smelly animal, that has no style.

Michael Tait

I was privileged to spend an afternoon with Tait in Chicago... what a classy guy. And walking through a hotel lobby with him gave me a closeup look at the scary nature of being a celebrity. He was stopped at least 4-5 times for autographs & pictures... dude, how would ever have time to yourself?

Adam Again/Lost Dogs

Hey, it's The Pig!!!

Gene Eugene

This one is pretty poignant... as Gene died a couple of years back. I remember thinking how short he was. And how it was cool he stopped for a minute and took time to sign the book for me.

Renee Garcia

To The Pig:

How about putting an apple in your mouth and making a home in my oven? See you at the dinner table,

Renee Garcia (of Bliss Bliss)

I'd always liked Renee's "Living in the Vertical" album, though I thought the stuff from Bliss Bliss was so-so. What I really loved about Renee is the way she took time with 2 of my junior high girls after a concert in Houston (she opened for David Meece) and spoke into their lives.

DeGarmo & Key

To The Pig,

Thanks for being so ugly! It makes me feel good about myself.

Eddie DeGarmo

God bless "The Pig"

Stay out of Memphis in May.

Dana Key

This was on their final acoustic tour... these guys had been around a long time (15+ years) by this point and were kind of like elder statesmen for CCM. Yet they were the least egocentric musicians I've ever been around.

Live It Up

From one Ham to another,

Where's the beef?

Sir Loin, Loiny Donoho

Lanny Donoho is the head honcho behind a series of camps & events in the South that I loved to use... his heart for God is only slightly larger than his insane sense of humor.

Next Time I Fall In Love

To The Pig,

You are my hero - round, a whiner, and a perpetual runny nose. May you bring bacon to my table, and ham to my hungry soul!

Chap Clark

Chap was one of my youth ministry heroes... and a very funny guy. He & his wife, Dee, led a youth ministry & marriage seminar that made for some major breakthroughs for Shari & I.

Sixpence None The Richer

To my sleak pink fuzzy little friend I've never met - May you never find yourself on a Grand Slam Double Plate at Denny's.

Matt Slocum

True to form, Matt wrote more in the autograph book than he said to me in person. Watching him talk & play guitar, I finally understood the term "shoegaze" music.

Audio Adrenaline

To The Pig,

Take care, and take it easy. (P.S. Stay away from that breakfast table.)


Pig Rules!


To The Pig,



To The Pig,

Man, I hate bacon!!


Geoff Moore & The Distance

To Pig-O-Rama


Oink On!


I love ham


Don't cast your pearls before swine!


Ham & bacon rules


I'm not sure Geoff understood the whole Pig thing, but the band hooted & hollered.

Rebecca St James


Hope you're on fire for God!


Rebecca definitely didn't understand it... still, I remember seeing her at an industry showcase before her frist album came out. Her DAT tape broke and she just kept singing - strong voice & all. She nailed it. At that point, I knew she was going to be a big deal.

Classic: The Tale of the Pig (and how he still influences my life)

This post originally appeared in my church e-newsletter (and then on this blog) back in 2005. Steve Taylor (who those of you who pay attention know is Kickstarting his first studio album in 20 years right now) has met the Pig and signed his book. Ergo, it's time for a classic blog post rewind!

Many moons ago, I was a youth pastor. (For those of you who need more precise numbers, I resigned my last full-time youth ministry position in March of 1997, so it's been sixteen & a half years ago.) While I never particularly liked lock-in's (the idea of staying up all night with a bunch of highly caffeinated youth still sends shudders up & down my spine) or some of the other unpleasant duties that went with the territory in the traditional church I served (searching the Sunday School classrooms during evening service to make sure youth weren't hiding out), I loved assisting teenagers in growing closer to God.

And playing with them - man, I loved playing crazy games. Jenn & Aaron played "Ultimate Octopus" with the kids at NewLife back in the day, and I found myself grinning ear to ear. (For the uninitiated, "Ultimate" is a high speed cross of basketball & soccer usually played with a Frisbee. Instead, they used a six pound dead octopus. Hilarity ensued.)

It wasn't the best game I ever came up with, but we decided to play touch football on a retreat with a pigskin - in this case, a fluffy pink stuffed animal pig. About 1/2 way through the game, his tail was ripped off during an aborted pass attempt. We laughed and played and went on with the retreat.

Well, as often happens to youth pastors after retreats, all of the leftover junk, debris, and lost & found ended up in my office, with The Pig perched on top of the pile. Sort of as a joke (and I'm not sure whose idea it was anymore), we made The Pig our youth group mascot. One of the youth sewed up the bad spot where his tail had been and he began traveling with us to youth events & concerts. His usual position was in the church van, rolled up in a window with 1/2 of his body sticking out. He even was featured prominently in our music video of Steve Taylor's "Bannerman."

Enter Mark Pittman, my odd but wonderful friend who worked for interl'inc, a Christian company that connected youth ministries with Christian musicians. It was his delightfully hare-brained idea to get The Pig his own autograph book. When we'd go to a show, rather than have our youth work so hard to get autographs that they'd lose and/or idolize, we send a group up with The Pig and his autograph book... presto, instant silliness.

The Pig stayed behind when I left youth ministry... I have no idea what happened to him. (He's probably in the organ loft at Dalewood Baptist... that's where literally everything else ended up when someone didn't know what to do with it.)

OTOH, the autograph book came with me. Over the three years that The Pig went to concerts, he managed to collect some pretty great autographs: DC Talk, Sixpence None The Richer, DeGarmo & Key, Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, Rebecca St. James, Church of Rhythm, Joy Electric, Geoff Moore & The Distance... basically a "who's who" of mid-nineties CCM.

I still have very fond memories of the very first night we took the autograph book to a show... a group of 10 of us headed out on a school night for the middle of nowhere TN (the name of the town escapes me, but it's where the Scopes Monkey Trial took place) for one of the best concerts I've ever attended. The headliner was Steve Taylor (one of my favorites), with Hokus Pick (another favorite) and Guardian opening.

Which brings me (finally) to the point of all this. (Sometimes, I wonder why you people are willing to read my ramblings - but, you do. So I'll keep writing!) While I was a huge Steve Taylor fan (and still am) and saw enough Hokus Pick shows that the band knew me on sight, Guardian was just a group of guys who played loud metal-derived rock'n'roll. And then they signed The Pig Book.

Pig, you'll make a great BBQ sandwich.

To The Pig, I love how pink you are!

 The Pig - God bless you! Thanks for being the other white meat.
Tony Palacios

So, it was meeting them and glimpsing their sense of humor that allowed me to slow down and really listen to their music.

And that brings me to a song that's been running through my head this week: "The Lion's Den".

Once upon a time in churches of old
The velcro age had yet to unfold
Flannel was king and Sunday School knew
How to make those Bible heroes stick like glue
How to make 'em stick with you

Flannelgraph lions, mounted and mean
The prophet Daniel in between
Head toward heaven, sturdy and true
A man of God who did not fear the gods of men
He didn't fear the lions' den

Every age at every stage
Lions rage
Pray, stand your ground
They'll lie down

Dumb struck, I was shaken and stirred
He wouldn't kowtow, he kept God's word
Teacher said, "Son, this could be you
If you put your trust in God and not the praise of men
You won't fear the lions' den"


And if we play by lions' rules
We start lionizing fools
God wrote the book, he'll fortify
And like the eagles we will fly
We're gonna fly

Late one night in a fever dream
The prophet Daniel came to me
"Sir," I said, "I've lost my nerve
I lip serve God and put my faith in godless men
I fear the lions' den"
Then he said, "Who says I'm not a feline-phobe?
Who says I wasn't ready to wet my robe? Faith is tough, boy, but God gives grace
So take deep breath, head up, set your face like flint
And stop being a wimp"

words: Steve Taylor music: Tony Palacios & Jamie Rowe copyright 1995 - from Guardian's album "Buzz"

"Faith is tough..." Gosh, it's good to hear that this week. It's "all too easy" (props to Darth Vader for the quote) for me to buy into the lie that faith, if it was "real", should be easy. That if I was really a "good little Christian", my feelings would fall into line and I'd be relentlessly & digustly cheerful in the face of everything that comes my way. Kind of like, for those of you who got forced to read Voltaire in college, Candide, only with an iPod filled with tunes by Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith.

Instead, faith isn't about how easy my life is... or how good I am at faking a complete lack of fear & anxiety. Faith is based on the goodness of God, not the goodness of me. And that's incredibly freeing. (Even typing it makes me feel better - like saying it aloud makes it more real.)

So, a shout out to The Pig (whatever dark closet he's hiding in at Dalewood Baptist). Thanks to your fluffy pinkness, I'm reminded again of God's power and love for me in the midst of stuff that feels like it's gonna eat me alive.

Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ's servant. Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

This post originally appeared in the 10/5/05 issue of The Grapevine, a publication of NewLife Community Church.

This isn't the end of the flashback - I'm also posting Pig Quotes for your pre-Thanksgiving enjoyment.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Classic: Soundtrack of My Life - Steve Taylor

In honor of Steve Taylor's new Kickstarter album project, I've updated my post about his music & my life... and here it is.

The year was 1983, and I was a sophomore at Baylor University when
Steve Taylor came to town. Of course, I had no idea who he was - and it wasn't like it was a concert or anything. He was actually the director for a tour of the Jeremiah People. (I was a big fan of the Jeremiah People - they were a drama & music ministry that did thoughtful, interesting & very funny things, primarily targeting the foibles of churches & cultural Christianity.)

During the intermission, he hawked his new EP, "I Want To Be A Clone." Steve explained that this was music adults wouldn't like... and the rest, as they say, is history.

I picked up a copy of the cassette for four bucks (I think - that was 30 years ago!) and listened to it so many times I nearly wore the electrons off the tape. Steve was not only exploring the New Wave sound, he was writing incisive, sarcastic & funny lyrics about Christianity and the church. It was like I had permission to ask tough questions about the faith I'd grown up in - that the culture I was a part of could be questioned & examined & poked fun at... without throwing away my faith in Jesus Christ.
So now I see the whole design
my church is an assembly line
the parts are there I'm feeling fine
I want to be a clone 

 I've learned enough to stay afloat
but not so much I rock the boat
I'm glad they shoved it down my throat
I want to be a clone 
Everybody must get cloned
"I Want To Be A Clone"

Thankfully, he didn't stop there. Steve Taylor & Some Band went on to record 4 more brilliant albums, full of the same kind of odd ("Am I In Sync?"), saracstic, ("I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good"), funny ("Drive, He Said"), insightful ("Hero"), angry ("Baby Doe") and stunning ("Jim Morrison's Grave") songs as the first EP.

Along the way, Steve managed to attract all kinds of controversy... you don't write this kind of music without stepping on some toes. (Imagine a cross between Randy Newman, the Clash & Billy Graham - that may get you close to the musical stylings of Steve Taylor.) He released, as far as I know, the first MTV-like Christian music video ("Meltdown (at Madam Tussaud's)"), and the first really cool concert film ("Limelight", filmed live at Greenbelt).

Of course, for a "good Christian kid" (that's me!), I loved the fact that he was theologically solid... but dangerous. Kind of "rebellion lite", if you know what I mean. Listening to Steve's music forced me to think about the implications of what I said I believed... while rocking to some very inventive music that didn't sound like anything else I knew.

Anyway, the early 90's brought about a new phase in Steve's career: a "super-group" of Nashville studio musicians who were all followers of Christ - and felt called to follow Christ into creating a great rock'n'roll band that actually talked about deep stuff. The group, Chagall Guevera, released one album & one video ("Violent Blue") and then sunk into oblivion. This, sadly, despite the fact that the album was critically acclaimed. (One of the privileges of living in Nashville was getting to see amazing live shows... and so Shari & I got to see the last live performance of Chagall Guevera at the Mark Heard tribute concert in 1992.)

A couple of years later, Steve recorded his final studio album, "Squint", which even 13 years later is still one of the best albums in my collection. From the goofy rock opera that closes the record ("Cash Cow") to the overwhelming testimonial power of "The Finish Line", this album doesn't have a weak cut. My youth group even made our own Nashville-based video of "Bannerman" and sent a copy to Steve. (His reply to us: "You guys have a great future in film and/or jail" still cracks me up.)

There was a final live album entitled "Liver" - and yes, you can pronounce it either way: lie-ver or liv-er. The live versions of "Hero" & "I Want To Be A Clone" are incredible... and the video for "On The Fritz" is still one of the most stunning music videos I've ever seen.

Steve has gone on to move into other roles in the industry - it was his label, Squint, that broke Sixpence None The Richer into the mainstream market and introduced the world to the one-album wonder that was Burlap To Cashmere. (Yes, I know they had a live album as well. Don't e-mail me.) He played a major role in helping both the Newsboys & Guardian make some of their best music ever. Most recently, he's been directing films & music videos.

Sadly, the last bit of new music was a couple of "guest" cuts on the Roaring Lambs album and on Charlie Peacock's Full Circle collection. (You'll see more of Charlie in a later "Soundtrack" post.) Sigh.

For those of you Stevey-Come-Latelies, you can check out the links throughout this post (thanks to the magic of YouTube, a lot of his videos are available online) or you can purchase his greatest hits collection, Now The Truth Can Be Told. (It's a 2 CD set that comes with a very nice commentary/lyrics book in a handsome slipcover... featuring the snowball throwing polar bears that lived only a few miles from us in Nashville.)

Once again, I need to remind you that Steve has a new album coming - and you can help make it happen, thanks to the magic of Kickstarter. (If nothing else, you need to go watch the video - funny/awesome/wonderful... all rolled into one.)

Game Central Station: Um Reifenbreite "Short" Rules

It's a great game... with a very detailed rulebook. The only problem? It's a bear to find a rule when you're looking for it or trying to teach the game after some time away from it. To make it easier for me, I created an "essential" rule set to use. That's what is on this page.


Each team manager rolls 2 dice. The highest roller places one rider on a start position. Then, going clockwise from the first team manager, each team manager places one rider at a time. Continue placing riders until each team manager has placed all four riders. No team may have more than one rider in the same lane. You may not draft or use an energy card in the first round. [Note: the no drafting rule is a house rule.]


The rider who is farthest ahead goes first. If riders are tied then the rider on the right (from the rider's perspective) goes first.

Riders may draft the rider in front of them. If a rider does not draft then the next most forward, on the right hand side, rider goes next.

A rider may only move forward:
  • straight ahead (to the next space in the same lane),
  • diagonally forward (to the next space in an adjacent lane),
  • never to the same space in an adjacent lane, and
  • never backwards.
Thick lines (lane boundaries in curves) may not be crossed.

A rider may move fewer spaces than he rolled. A rider may move diagonally between two riders.

There may only be 1 rider on a space at any time. A rider may not move through an occupied space. If the course is blocked then the rider must stop. He loses the rest of his move.


A rider may only draft the rider who is directly in front of him. Each rider decides whether to follow the rider who is directly in front of him.

The drafting rider must:
  • end his move directly behind the rider he drafts,
  • not move more spaces than the rider he is following, and
  • follow the normal movement rules.
Riders in an unbroken line in the same lane may draft.

Riders may not draft:
  • If the drafting rider cannot end up in the same lane as the leading rider.
  • If the rider must move more spaces than the rider in front of him.
  • If the space the rider must move to is already occupied or not accessible.
  • If the rider who is trying to draft must cross a thick black line.
  • If the riders do not end up in an unbroken line.
A rider may only draft if he starts the turn on the same type of road surface (same color) as the rider directly in front of him. The road surface type is the only factor; different numbers on spaces of the same type do not prevent drafting.


If a rider wants to breakaway then the team manager must first announce this. Then the manager gives the rider 1 or 2 energy cards. The riders behind him may not draft him.

Switching the Lead

Riders who are riding in an unbroken line may change places with the lead rider. All lines of riders may do this, regardless of their current position. When it is his turn the rider who is at the front of the line may ask the rider directly behind him whether he would like to switch places.

If the rider agrees then the two riders switch places.

If the rider refuses to switch then the leader may ask the following rider, and so on down the line.

Energy Cards

Every team manager gets the 14 energy cards with these numbers:
  • #21-6M #21-5 #22-6M #23-6M #24-5 Joker-6M Joker-5
  • #21-6M #21-5 #22-5 #23-6M #24-5 Joker-6M Joker-5
If you race on a short track, like "Paris to Roubaix" or "Lüttich to Bastenaken to Lüttich", then only use the upper 7 energy cards.

Energy cards may not be used in the first round.

Energy cards replace dice. Every energy card replaces 1 die. A maximum of 2 energy cards may be used for a rider on a turn. If one energy card is used then only roll 1 die. If two cards are used then do not roll any dice.

Chance Cards

If a rider rolls a 7 then he must take a chance card. Exception: Chance cards are never drawn in the first round. If a rider plays an energy card he must still pick an chance card if his move is 7 (6+1 or 5+2).

With some chance cards a rider either gets or loses energy cards. Riders only get energy cards associated with their number (either played or lost). If a player must discard an energy card and he has no more with his number then he must discard a joker energy card. If he has no joker cards left then he does not have to discard a card.

If a rider does not lose his turn because of the card then he moves normally.

Some chance cards cause a fall. The rider who picks the chance card falls. A rider who falls cannot move this round. See the card for further details.


Fallen riders are left on the board. They block other riders moving forward.

A rider who is directly behind a falling rider also falls.

A rider who is adjacent to a falling rider also falls. Exception: A rider to the right of the rider who caused the fall does not fall (he is ahead of the falling rider).

A rider to the right of a following falling rider also falls.


A rider who finishes must use his entire roll. He moves to the space he landed on with his move. This is important because other riders may finish by drafting him.

Road Surfaces

Energy cards are restricted by road surface. Energy cards with a mountain shield may not be played on a mountain climb. On cobblestones a rider may only use 1 energy card a turn (never 2).

  • Asphalt (cream) -- 1 or 2 Energy Cards
  • Uphill (red) -- 1 or 2 Energy Cards w/out the mtn shield
  • Downhill (yellow) -- 1 or 2 Energy Cards
  • Cobblestone (aqua) -- 1 Energy Card

Every rider who begins his move on an uphill (red) space must subtract the number on his space from his roll.

A rider on a red space who rolls so low that the result after subtraction is 0 or less must dismount. His marker is moved off of the race course and placed next to the space he started on. After all riders in the round have moved he is placed back on the track. If another rider is on his original space then he is moved backwards to the next empty space in that lane. If more than one rider dismounts then they are replaced in the same order. After all other riders have moved, they must try to return to the spaces they started in. If another rider occupies the space the dismounted rider came from, then the dismounted rider is placed in another space either parallel to or behind his original empty space. The dismounted rider may lose ground if other riders move into his space.


A rider who starts his turn on a downhill space (yellow) adds the number on his space to his roll.


A rider who starts on a cobblestone (aqua) space, must subtract the number on the square from his roll. The cobblestone section includes a small piece of asphalt (cream) road. Riders who start here do not have subtract anything from their roll.

A rider on cobblestone that rolls so low that his move is 0 or less must dismount for that turn.


A rider may cheat by rolling just 1 die and adding 6 to it. Then he draws a single photo-card. Note the number on the card along with the rider's number on the score sheet. The photo-card is returned to the deck and the deck is reshuffled. A rider may also cheat by moving 12 without rolling. In this case the rider must draw 2 photo-cards. The photo-card deck is reshuffled for EACH pick.

A rider may only cheat 4 times in a race. Every time he cheats he must draw 1 or 2 photo-cards.

After the race is done and the points are calculated two photo-cards are drawn. Every rider who has cheated and drawn one of these numbers is disqualified since he was photographed cheating.


During the race the first 3 riders across each sprint finish line receive additional points as noted on the score sheet. These points are added to the team's points.

Sprint finishes occur during normal moves. They do not interrupt the normal flow of the game.

The Yellow Jersey

The rider who crosses the first sprint finish first gets the yellow jersey. Each ROUND he keeps the yellow jersey he earns 2 points.
  • The piece of the rider with the yellow jersey is replaced by the team's yellow jersey piece.
  • If the wearer of the yellow jersey wins the next sprint then he keeps the yellow jersey. If another rider wins the sprint then the race organizer calculates the sprint points that each rider has earned. If another rider has more sprint points then that rider gets the yellow jersey.
Race Courses

A. Paris-Roubaix

  • Starting Location : Start 2
  • Road Type: Cobblestone/AsphaltCourse
  • Route Start 2 to Finish C, D, A
  • Sprint: Finish D
  • Finish: Finish A
B. Lüttich-Bastenaken-Lüttich
  • Starting Location: Start 1
  • Road Type: Asphalt/Mountains
  • Course Route: Start 1 to Finish A, B, C
  • Sprint: Finish B
  • Finish: Finish C
C. Giro d'Italia
  • Starting Location: Start 2
  • Road Type: Cobblestone/Asphalt/Mountains
  • Course Route: Start 2 to Finish C, D, A, B, C
  • Sprints: Finish D, Finish A, Finish B
  • Finish: Finish C
D. Tour de France
  • Starting Location: Start 1
  • Road Type: Mountains/Cobblestone/Mountains
  • Course Route: Start 1 to Finish A, B, C, E, A
  • Sprints: Finish B, Finish C, Finish E
  • Finish: Finish A
Stage Races

Stage races take place over several days on different tracks. On each "day" another race is run on another course.

The final score for a stage race is calculated as follows:
  • Fill out a separate score sheet for each race. Calculate the results for each stage and add the total team points together.
  • Calculate the bonus points for each team and add them to the team's total.
  • For each team determine the rider who has earned the most overall points.
  • Multiply that rider's total by the number of stages raced.
  • Add this total to the team's total score.
The team with the most points wins.

This scoring system shows the importance of both support riders and the stars. The support riders help the stars score the more points. This increases the bonus the star adds to the team.

Game Central Station: Um Reifenbreite

Another Game Central Station page last updated in 2004... it's still the best one-page overview of this game on the web.
I worked long & hard to find a copy of this classic game... reading about it on The Game Cabinet positively had me salivating. Finally, I obtained my copy (thanks to FunAgain) and... it was worth the wait!
Um Reifenbreite deserves the awards it's been given (Spiel des Jahres 1992; Deutscher Spielepreis 1992, rank 2) and the 5 different printings it's had. That's right, I just typed "five different printings"
It's a long and twisted tale that I'm going to try to piece together from a number of different places & authors (Tim Trant, Mike Siggins) on The Game Cabinet website. It was originally published in 1982 as Homas Tour... but most of the copies were burned in a warehouse fire. (Of the original print run of 20,000, the designer guesses that less than 1/2 survived.) It's rarity only helped to build the game's reputation... one that was born out when it won Spiel des Jahres for it's re-release as Um Reifenbreite. (At roughly the same time, the game was also released in a French edition, entitled Demarrage!)
In 2002, Jumbo is released a 10th anniversary edition of Um Reifenbreite... as far as I know, the game was not substantially changed.
Amazingly enough, the designer, Rob Bontenbal, has not published another game - at least according to Luding (the best database for finding German games on the web). Nearly ten years ago, Mike Siggins wrote in Sumo that Rob was working on a new game system based on the Olympics, but it's never seen the light of day (as far as I can tell). Gotta tell ya, I'd be more than happy to try it!
The rule are a bit, well, long - for a very simple game. (Lots & lots & LOTS of examples...) So, I shortened 'em down.
Finally, have you ever wondered how to pronounce the name of this game (which, roughly translated, mean "By a Tire Width")? Geenius at Wrok, noted poster to & author of the German Game FAQ, shares that it's correctly pronounced: [oom RY-fen-BRY-tuh].
So What's the Difference Between Homas Tour & Um Reifenbreite?
Note: I've never even SEEN a copy of Homas Tour, so I'm getting this all second-hand from a post from David Fristrom.
  1. There are some cosmetic differences ("Strength" cards in Homas Tour are called "Energy" cards in Um Reifenbreite, the cards look different, the colors of the track are different, etc).
  2. The "Stimulants" rules in Homas Tour was changed (and tinkered with) to become the "Cheating" rules in Um Reifenbreite.
  3. The "Yellow Jersey" rules have been changed... the original rules in Homas Tour didn't, according to David, make a lick of sense.
  4. The "Stragglers" rule from Homas Tour was omitted. In Homas Tour, the race ended before all the cyclists crossed the finish line, which had the unfortunate side effect of causing the stragglers to cheat like crazy because they had nothing to lose.
  5. The "Extra points for Escaping" rule from Homas Tour was also omitted. In Homas Tour, a rider was given extra points for breaking away from another player (which doesn't exactly make sense.)6. There are also some changes to the way stages are organized and some of the Chance cards, but the description in David's post doesn't give me enough information to comment.
The answers in this FAQ are from Alan Moon, Ken Yousten, Mark Jackson,Ted Cheatham, Manu Soeding, Marianna, Matt Hearst & Chris Lohroff...
Q: Why can't you play energy cards or draft on the first turn?
A: [Ken Yousten] Don't bicycle races start from a standstill? (Honest question - I've never followed the sport, but have vague memories of seeing a race or two start while waiting for baseball scores on Sportscenter.) So drafting would be out, right? And strength cards from the start would make the first sprint line a choice rather than a competition, which may work well with some games, but isn't in spirit with this one.
Q: What's with the Yellow Jersey rule? As written in the early 90's edition, it seems majorly unbalanced.
A: [Alan Moon] We only used the yellow jersey rule in the first couple of games we played, then discarded it. It was too much of an advantage if a rider got out front early, and hurt the strategy of holding back a little at the start to try to get your team together.
Q: OK, but I want to use the Yellow Jersey rule anyway. How does it work?
A: [Alan Moon] I believe the jersey only changes hands at the end of a round, after each rider has moved. And these are just my opinion, but I'd say he gets the 2 point bonus at the end of each round, after the jersey is exchanged or remains in place, and he shouldn't get points after he finishes.
A: [Matt Hearst] When using the yellow jersey rule with stages, use cummulative yellow jersey points to determine the wearer, as this keeps the carrot out there for the people who don't have the yellow jersey.
Q: I don't get the "mass fall" card... the card translation I have states that anyone who has not already moved falls... is this correct? Does this include riders who are not adjacent to the mass fallee? (The translation on The Game Cabinet reads: "You cause a mass fall! The rider falls and doesn't move this round. Because the fall costs strength, he must discard one of his Energy Cards. All riders who haven't moved yet also fall and must sit this turn.")
A: [Mark Jackson] Yep... never has made sense to me either. "All riders who haven't moved yet?!" Anyway, I ran this by two different folks who are fluent in German & English... they both came up with: "If other riders fall (as well), none of the fallen ones may move in this turn..." which makes a whole lot more sense. (Thanks to Manu & Marianna!)
Q: When you are instructed to lose of gain an energy card, what do you do if the rider in question has none to either lose or gain?
A: [Ted Cheatham & Chris Lohroff] You can lose a joker, but you cannot recover it. Here's the quote from the rules on "With some chance cards a rider either gets or loses energy cards. Riders only get energy cards associated with their number (either played or lost). If a player must discard an energy card and he has no more with his number then he must discard a joker energy card. If he has no joker cards left then he does not have to discard a card."
Chance Cards
There are a number of folks out there (including Alan Moon, designer of Union Pacific & Elfenland) who don't use the chance cards included with the game. Instead, they use one of the following variants:
Alan Moon
If your roll or combination of roll/cards equaled 7, you roll one die again. If you roll a 6, your rider falls.
Eamon Bloomfield/Derek Carver
If your roll or combination of roll/cards equaled 7, roll the dice again, plus a 10 sided die.(D10)
If you roll a 0 on the 10 sided die, you fall, bringing down any other rider adjacent to your space, and then they bring down any other rider adjacent to their spaces etc. A fall "massif" in the Dutch rules.
If you do not roll a zero on the D10 then check the placing of the rider involved:
  • If he is in the first 4 race positions, take the amount on the higher of the two dice and DEDUCT it from 7. That is his move.
  • If he is in the last 4 race positions, take the amount on the higher of the two dice and ADD it to 7. That is his move.
If he is not in the first 4 or the last 4, check the total of the 2D6.
  • If the total is odd, take the amount on the lowest of the two and deduct it from 7. That is his move.
  • If the total is even, take the amount on the lowest of the two and add it to 7. That is his move.
Ignore all 7's on the first round.
If some riders have finished the race, then treat them as still in the race for determining the position of riders in regard to the above rules.
Brent Carter
This is similar to Eamon's rules, only you don't have to use a d10 and falls are a bit less common.
When a SEVEN is ROLLED, RE-ROLL the 2D6.
  • A 2 or 12 means you FALL bringing down all adjacent riders as per the rules for MASS FALL.
Anything but a 2 or 12 means the riders move will be based on the roll and the rider's position in the race.
  • If the rider is in the FIRST 4 POSTIONS his move will be 7 MINUS the number on the HIGHEST D6.
  • If the rider is in the LAST 4 POSITIONS his move will be 7 PLUS the number on the HIGHEST D6.
If the rider is NOT IN EITHER of these groups CHECK the 2D6 TOTAL.
  • If it is ODD his move will be 7 MINUS the number on the LOWEST D6.
  • If it is EVEN his move will be 7 PLUS the number of the LOWEST D6.
Riders who have already finished are still counted to determine position in the race.
Other Variants
Playing With 3 Players
Variant #1 (c/o Ted Cheatham)
One of the joys of Um Reifenbreite is the crowded track... and it's just not crowded enough with 3 players... so we use the cyclists from the fourth team to increase our team size to five cyclists. Using the colored bases from the yellow jersey guys (so you can tell which cyclist goes with which team), we randomly distributed the #2, #3, & #4 riders and their energy cards. It works great.
Variant #2 (c/o Chris Dorrell)
If playing with less than four teams (particularly with 2 players) we have lifted an idea from Ausgebremst (another good racing game) where non playing cars are still involved in race.
With 2 players/teams we place the four riders from an unused team on the start with first choice of position. Throughout the race both players agree on the best move for each rider in the third team subject to these rules:
Always try to move as many squares as possible but make best move possible.
  • If total on dice less than 5 use a card if available to replace the lowest of the dice.
  • On a roll of double one or double 2, use 2 cards.
  • If dice throw means fall - use a card as above if possible.
  • Always follow another rider if throw is more than 4.
We have tried this a few times and the third team manages to keep involved quite well and present some nice tactical problems for the real players.
Playing With 5 Players
(c/o Mark Jackson)
While this doesn't work as well as the four player game, you can use the yellow jersey figures to create a 5th team. Keep track of their energy card use on paper or make up your own cards. You'll also have to come up with an alternate way to create a fair starting grid and add points to the end of the scoring pad for the remaining positions. (We've done this a couple of times... it runs a little long, but it does allow you to play it with five players.)
Limited Cheating
(c/o Mark Jackson)
The cheating rules as written encourage widespread cheating if you get even a bit behind... which makes the game kind of mean & frustrating. There are three different ways to fix this:
  • draw three photo cards (rather than two) at the finish of the race, giving a 50% chance of disqualification.
  • limit each racer to one cheat card draw per race. (Exception: a racer in last place may cheat regardless of how many times he's cheated before.)
  • eliminate cheating altogether.
Sprint to the Finish
(c/o Pat Brennan, who collected it from r.g.b.)
If you are in the last 12 spaces of the race, you can't follow. You have to finish the race on your own. This way there can be a massive sprint for the victory. You pull your rider with the most energy cards available in the last 12 spaces so he can finish it off.
(c/o Pat Brennan, who collected it from r.g.b.)
Design your own "special" riders... They are divided among the players and these cards are assigned to riders of their choice.Some suggestions:
  • mountain specialist: +1 uphill
  • drafting specialist: may follow even if he is on different terrain
  • solo rider: +1 if he starts his turn alone
  • sprint specialist: +4 breakaway once per game
  • fast start rider: +3 to his starting roll
  • speed demon: +1 downhill

Monday, November 25, 2013

#10: Zooloretto (Mark's 100 - 2012)


Mark's Ranking
  • 2012: 10th
  • 2010: 10th
  • 2005: new
  • rank: 351
  • rating: 6.93
Print Status
  • in print
Why It's On The List
  • Michael Schacht takes the central game mechanic from his card game Coloretto & develops it into a full-fledged board game with delightful artwork & theme. And then, if that wasn't enough, he keeps expanding that world (thanks to the SdJ win) in some very intriguing ways.
Tips & Tricks:
  • I didn't like Zooloretto particularly the first time I played it... that, as you can see, has changed. (The theme drew me back in, btw.)
  • Lots of people like Coloretto better than Zooloretto - they're wrong, of course, but I think that's more a function of "liking a clever mechanic" versus "liking a clever mechanic in the midst of a thematic & enjoyable game".
  • Zooloretto spawned Aquaretto - which I've included in the family for purposes of this list. Aquaretto is the more gamer-friendly of the two - there's more potential for a new player to mess themselves over with bad tile placement.
  • The plethora of large & small expansions can be confusing - but I like how you can tailor the game to your personal tastes.
  • The game is best with 3 or 4 players... 5 has a little too much downtime (if you're using any expansions) and 2 is bland. If you're going to play Zooloretto & Aquaretto together, you should only play with 3 players... or with Michael's 6-player partnership variant.
  • I wrote an extensive post about Zooloretto & the various expansions entitled Renovating Your Zoo(loretto) for this blog.
  • I translated the Big Boss variant from Michael Schacht's site - it's used w/the Zooloretto: Boss expansion.
  • One of the proudest moments of my life - my son, Braeden (who was 7 at the time), created a really great variant idea for Aquaretto - and Michael Schacht published it on his website! Check out the Touch Pool...
  • At some point, I did the hard work of combining the rulebooks for all of the big expansions and base game into one document... and I'll post the link here when I find it. (Yes, I'll put it on the Geek, too... kind of surprised I hadn't done that already.)


If you feel a need to catch up on my admittedly-aging Top 100 as of February 2012 list, you can check out:

Essen 2013: First Impressions #2 - Vlaada!

Once again, I’m following in Dale’s footsteps here – and he has a long blurb on the start of his posts that explains his logic (which is sound) and intentions (which are good).

We’ll just skip that & get to the game previews – this time, both from designer Vlaada Chvátil (creator of such wildly different games as Through the Ages, Prophecy, Space Alert, Mage Knight: The Board Game & Dungeon Lords).

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends

  • Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
  • Publisher: CGE, Z-Man
  • Main mechanics: Hand management, pattern recognition

Game Idea: A magical battle - either to complete tasks (in High Form mode) or to draw the applause of the crowd (in Deathmatch mode). Players place pieces on the board, seeking to create patterns that will enable them to play their cards and summon more pieces to the board that will enable them to attack & disrupt their opponent. The game includes 3 different faction decks (plus one duplicate) as well as smaller decks of legendary creatures and "flares" (which are used to recover from a bad position).

Thoughts: At first blush, this short (30 minute) game feels abstract & unbalanced... but after multiple plays, I'm fascinated by the way in which Vlaada incorporated the thematic ideas behind the cards into the forms & patterns on the board. This is a game where experience will matter - as will the ability to recognize patterns easily. I appreciate the variety built into the game: enough decks for 4 players, High Form & Deathmatch modes, team play & free-for-all... and a double-sided board.

For a very interesting (and much deeper) look at Vlaada's design process and the strategy behind the decks, you can check out the Tash-Kalar website.

Galaxy Trucker: The Latest Models

  • Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
  • Publisher: CGE, Rio Grande
  • Main mechanics: real-time, tile-laying, praying for lucky dice rolls
Game Idea: As if Galaxy Trucker wasn't mind-bendingly difficult enough already, here are four more ships for you to build badly and watch collapse into a smoking hunk of metal hurtling through the void. You can assemble one of two models that deal with a rip in the space/time fabric, a ship modeled on a ever-so-trademark-aware "large spherical death planet", and a collection of smaller ships that may (or may not) become connected mid-build.

Thoughts: I have a standard line when it comes to pre/reviewing expansions - "If you don't like the game already, this expansion will not change your mind." That goes double for The Latest Models - fans of Galaxy Trucker will have a blast working with the new ship templates, while nay-sayers will like the complications even less than the original design. Note: these are advanced ships - I would not start out new players on any of these models.