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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 01:36pm on 14/12/2010 under , ,
Brenda Brathwaite makes thought-provoking games.

(Thanks to Two Scooters Press for reminding me of this and pointing to this new article.)
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Prompted by a Boing Boing post, I spent a few minutes (okay, nearly 20 minutes) reading a thread on Reddit of "culturally untranslateable phrases". My favourite so far: "Jou mammie naai vir bakstene om jou sissie se hoerhuis te bou," translated beautifully as "your mother engages in prostitution in order to raise funds for the building materials necessary to construct a brothel from which your sister will operate."
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 03:12pm on 11/11/2010 under , ,
"Dulce et Decorum Est"

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 02:21pm on 10/11/2010 under ,
We played Glory to Rome on Sunday after a longish boardgaming drought. This time we bit the bullet and played the full game with the building powers in effect. Perhaps it should have come with a warning. "Certain card combos may be very powerful or lead to degenerate play."

Sam managed to get a sweet synergy working between her Atrium, Circus Maximus and the Merchant action that meant she salted away a tidy 15 VPs in the vault, while achieving equal first place in buildings on 14 VPs from Influence. Neither Alai nor I could even approach her score.

Final scores were Sam 37, Alai 16, and Myles 14. Ouch!
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 01:34pm on 01/11/2010 under , , ,
I'm sure you'll have seen this elsewhere, but Mapcrunch's webpage let's you teleport around the world. It's fascinating.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 11:52am on 01/11/2010 under , ,
Yesterday was our first Halloween in the new neighbourhood. We took the kids out trick-or-treating last night after much heroic preparation by [personal profile] sammywol getting costumes and treats together.

She also managed to get a pumpkin carved. )

Thanks Sam, for your Trojan efforts. You did a marvellous job.
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A couple of recent games I forgot to post about. The first was Glory to Rome, the building Rome from hands of Whist game, which I won nicely with Myles 10, IK 7, Sam 6 and Alai 3. Not a lot in the vaults in this game, probably because a couple of stone buildings went up in the first turn and absorbed the blue cards for the first half of the game.

The other game was that old reliable Ticket to Ride: Europe. Sam had the hardest time in this, with a combination of short, cramped routes that meant a lot of low scoring lines. Alai did nicely with the longer lines and lucked out on his tickets, keeping and making all three from his only extra tickets draw. I didn't do so well, drawing three useless tickets, keeping one and failing to make even that. Final scores were Alai 66 + 59 = 125, Myles 54+10+40 = 104, and Sam 53 + 50 = 103.
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I listened lately to a podcast at Clyde Rhoer's Theory from the Closet, which was an interview with David Wesley, retired US Army Major and the man Dave Arneson said originated the idea of roleplaying. Wesley was an active wargamer, both board and miniatures, who ran a formative game called Braunstein, a creative mixture of Diplomacy-like negotiation, LARP and seat of the pants free-forming.

The interview is long, over 1 hr 20 mins, but fascinating, as it ranges from the wargaming scene in 60's Minnesota, the creation of roleplaying in its nascent form, and the pitfalls of self-publishing back in the mimeograph era. A wonderful document from the days before D&D.
Music:: Midsomer Murders (I know, I know, it's on in the same room)
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THE RULES: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. [Silly Facebook tagging stuff deleted. Recycle as desired.] No particular order...

Stan Getz - Captain Marvel
Queen - Jazz
The Police - Synchronicity
Tom Lehrer - That Was the Year That Was
The Consort of St. Sepulchre - The Consort of St. Sepulchre
Rush - Moving Pictures
Kate Bush - The Dreaming
Eurythmics - Be Yourself Tonight
The Sundays - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Cocteau Twins - Blue Bell Knoll
Dead Can Dance - Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
Morrissey - Viva Hate
The Cure - Disintegration
Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
Apparat - Walls

Well, mine are in a roughly chronological order as best my memory supplies. Heavily weighted towards formative years it seems.

(as inspired by http://www.facebook.com/ecryder)
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 02:21pm on 31/08/2010 under ,
Played Battle Line with Alai nearly a week ago now, while Sam was hard at work on the EBS newsletter.

After some (re-)familiarizing ourselves with the rules we got stuck in, and soon had most of the flags under contention. I forgot the rule about playing no more than one Tactics card more than your opponent, but despite that, and drawing some very nice Tactics cards to boot, I got my ass handed to me in the end. The final score was 5-2 in Alai's favour.

Nice game though, with hard decisions in the classic Knizia style, and lovely components from GMT. Unfortunately the lovely components include cards printed on such heavy stock that riffle shuffling is almost impossible. It will have to be the smush 'em about in a heap method next time.
Music:: Orbital - One Perfect Sunrise
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 10:30am on 26/07/2010 under ,
Late with the report from Sunday two weekends ago, but three of the usual suspects got together and played the new boardgame Revolution from Steve Jackson Games. It's an area majority and blind bidding game where you dole out your bids (force, blackmail and gold) secretly to up to six of the 12 upstanding or not so upstanding individuals in the town and secure their support in the coming revolution. Force beats any amount of blackmail, and blackmail trumps gold in the same fashion. Your starting tokens (one force, one blackmail and three gold) aren't guaranteed in the second and subsequent rounds. The people you strongarm, blackmail or bribe provide tokens for the next round as well as influence in one of the board's seven areas, and a certain amount of 'support', the game's actual victory points.

So we got stuck in without too much difficulty and cursed our groupthink when we bid on the same roles (ties are discarded), and giggled happily when we outbid the others or snapped up a good role for a song. The endgame did seem to be a bit prone to kingmaking and sudden reversals of position, but I enjoyed it. Of course that may have been because I won. Final scores: Myles 182, Sam 162 and Alai 121.
Music:: Bar 9 - Goldhawks - Keep The Fire (BAR9 Remix)
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 10:24pm on 04/07/2010 under , ,
I went to Dara O'Brian's 95th gig of his current tour on Friday night. His second night in Cork, and apparently his biggest crowd of the tour. Go Cork!

Sam and Irishkate and I arrived together and were surprised to find our seats didn't exist. It seems that the row we'd bought had got lost in one shuffle or other. The confusion was sorted out easily enough, and with an upside. We got much better seats.

My workmate Anthony arrived a little later, warned in advance of the cock-up, and we settled into the painfully small seats.

The seats didn't matter; Dara rocked the tent.

It was an excellent gig, with a good mix of Dara working from the audience call outs in the first half and longer, prepared stuff in the second half. I'm damned if I can remember many of the jokes, and a lot of it really was 'you had to be there' stuff, but I'm pleased to say that I did get to contribute my Heimlich manoeuvre story to the tapestry of Dara's show.

Great stuff, in short. If you ever have a chance to see O'Briain live grab it. He's ace.

Also: a night out! When was the last time I had one of those?
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 03:02pm on 04/07/2010 under , , , , ,
I watched Isao Hashimoto's video piece "1945-1998" in silence. It's that sort of piece.
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We played a game of Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers with Alai on Sunday evening. It was about the most patchy board I've seen, with many more voids than normal and long tendrils of wood and meadow spreading out in all directions.

Sam was rather screwed by a meadow passing to Alai when he pulled the shrine tile, and new meadow opportunities didn't really ever approach that meadow she lost. Lots of rivers scored and some respectable fishing huts for once.

Final scores: Alai 136, Myles 127, Sam 93.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 12:03pm on 25/06/2010 under ,
Had the gang round on Wednesday night for boardgames, and after much faffing about on my part we settled on Bohnanza. Played quite quickly, lots of good trades, and those bloody garden beans moved around a lot. Final scores were Alai 15, Kate 15, Myles 16 and Sam the victor with 18.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 10:12am on 17/06/2010 under , ,
We played Dirk Henn's Atlantic Star last night with Kate and Alai. It's a set collection game with a ocean cruise theme. Each round you decide to take a card or play a set. The card choice of one of four face-up cards, with rising prices the further 'up the chain' they are. You can also pay to sweep all the cards. There's a conversion of the values of the cards into victory points depending on where you place your completed set on a grid and the score of that particular set (a cruise).

I found the game extremely frustrating, with each round's play essentially unimportant to me until it became my turn, as the other players' actions (choosing cards and sweeping the cards) meant that I couldn't really plan on having any given card available to me. The additional restriction of a varying hand-size limit depending on which cruise you were attempting combined with sometimes painful randomness of the cards coming up just left me cold.

As you can see from the scores, I did abysmally and that certainly coloured my feelings about the game. It's hard to be objective as I didn't ever feel I had a chance to win. The game play seemed to be continuous rounds of disappointment as needed cards disappeared and draws failed to provide the needed replacements.

Final scores: Alai 54, Sam 46, Kate 35 and Myles 18, and that with Alai managing to confuse one cruise for another and being forced into a cost-ineffective incomplete set for one of the cruises.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 12:16pm on 14/06/2010 under ,
We had Alai and Kate round on Sunday night and pulled out Attika to give it a go with four players. Sam got off to a poor start but caught up nicely. We had lots of blocking and all the land tiles were out, and it went down to the wire in the last round.

I won by building out, but Sam closely behind with three streets ready to finish on the turn. Kate was a turn behind due to a shortage of cards.

Good game, especially for me obviously.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 12:57pm on 07/06/2010 under , ,
We had a real gang of friends round to play boardgames last night. Ivan, Suzanna, Irene and Ian were down from Dublin, and we met them in Fota for picnic during the day. A good time was had by all I think.

In the evening after the kids were off to bed Ivan, Irene and Ian dropped round to join Alai and Kate to make a total of seven for games. I scratched my head and poked around until I found Incan Gold, which plays up to 8.

After explaining the rules and making our tents we got down to play. Quickly Sam established a pattern of cautious play, making for the exit once a reasonable number of points were available. This was only partly because of her dramatic reaction to the revelation of the Snake cards. The first game ended Myles 24, Kate 22, Ian 21, Sam 18 and Alai, Irene and Ivan all on 14.

The second game was initially lower scoring, with piles of hazard cards coming out early, but the artifacts were more plentiful later on and the final scores were Alex 31, Sam 25, Ivan 21, Ian 17, Irene 17, Kate 15 and Myles a pitiful 13.

Good fast games, made better by lively table talk and poor Pedro the bearer, who in our stories ended up set on fire, turned into zombie, trapped in a landslide and eaten by spiders.
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I'm reading a new roleplaying game called ICONS. It uses random generation of superpowers (if so desired) and I got the urge to roll for powers. I don't have my dice at work and...
Well to cut it short I found this QuickKwiz link and generated super powers for my game group. It was a slow lunchtime.

Powers beyond mortal ken lie within... )
Mood:: MIGHTY
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 11:33am on 11/05/2010 under ,
Last Sunday we pulled out Attika for a second game before our memories of the rules faded. We set up without problems and got rolling with a rather uneven starting draw. Both Alai and I drew our capitals as our first black tile while Sam was without Thebes until she reached the bottom of her stack.

We played more defensively this time, blocking with each shrine with our buildings as best we could. The additional land gave me a run for Sam's shrine but I wasn't able to bridge the gap and Sam blocked me easily. Then Alai placed land allowing for a run for my shrine. I couldn't stop him, nor could Sam. I think now I should have defended my shrine with land tile rather than reach for Sam's shrine with it but them's the breaks.

Good game, and over in about an hour. I must try the 2-hander with Sam.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 11:17am on 04/05/2010 under ,
We had [profile] alaimacerc round last night to play Attika last night, the first outing for that game at our table in several years. We caught up with the rules without too much trouble and got down to playing tiles and giving out about the shortage of water in good time.

The initial (over-)analysis didn't last too long and we got into the swing of things without too much trouble. Sam and Alai both started off close to a shrine and built out from there. I ended up in between to take advantage of resources on the map and lost the momentum for the shrine connecting race early only to recoup somewhat as I got my capital, Athens, down as a second settlement before either Sparta or Corinth made an appearance.

The placing of extra land was my undoing however, as I mistimed the new expansions land so that they benefitted the other players more than myself and I was left short of cards to block a double run for the shrine behind Athens. I managed to block Alai twice, but Sam's snakey-sneaky buildings from Sparta just managed to connect and won her the game.

Good fun game, though, and I'd like to play it again before my memory fades.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 10:45am on 02/05/2010 under , ,
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Douglas Coupland has a lovely slideshow explaining 2010 to someone from 1935 in the form of a sequence of Penguin paperback covers.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 09:23am on 17/04/2010 under , , ,

Take the Who Should You Vote For? UK General Election quiz

Green51
Liberal Democrat43
Labour-4
Conservative-8
UK Independence-29

You expected: GRN

Your recommendation: Green

Click here for more details about these results

Hardly a surprise, though you won't catch me voting Green in Ireland for the foreseeable future given their coalition blunders and betrayals.

(lifted from [profile] alaimacerc.)

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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 12:30pm on 16/04/2010 under , , ,
I read this (courtesy of natural20 on LJ) and thought that Ireland really needs to stop aping UK law-making.

Also getting some space in the Irish Times today is an article on internet blocking and its dubious value.

From that article, UCD Law lecturer TJ McIntyre said: "Blocking involves censorship taken on no legal basis. There is no judge, no jury and no right to be heard if you are blocked."

"The chances are it also will be used in unaccountable ways by unaccountable organisations."

Given the moral and ethical stature of our TDs of late, the mind boggles at the various unaccountable ways they might think up.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 11:06am on 11/04/2010 under ,
We had Alai round on Wednesday with his copy of San Marco. We reminded ourselves of the rules and got stuck in, with tea and cake to fortify ourselves against the upcoming banishments.

The game seemed rather one-sided, and I took an early lead that never really looked threatened as we played through the three passages of Doge round the city. I like the 'I divide, you choose' mechanic, but it did seem to engender some bitter comment, probably not helped by my romping home quite so resoundingly.

Final scores were Myles 64, Sam 44 and Alai 37.

Haven't played El Grande or Wongar in years. I wonder how they hold up in comparison to this one.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 10:26am on 07/04/2010 under ,
Sunday night boardgaming was Ticket to Ride: Europre with Alaimacerc. For some reason we seemed to mostly start in Iberia. This prompted early track laying and a unwanted detour through Marseilles for me. We all stuck together working our way up through France but split up at Berlin or thereabouts for different destinations. As I was aiming for somewhere in the Baltic I kept going. I was sure I was going to win until quite late into the game when I spent trains on a 7-pt track I didn't need to and left myself short of a ticket later on, costing me 12 points. A late grab for tickets was painfully crap and I only made one, that needing a station to complete and all.

Final scores were: Myles 109, Alai 118, Sam 125. Sam and Alai made 51 and 52 in tickets respectively, I made 28. Grr.
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After a long break from Wednesday night boardgames with the Gang of Four, [personal profile] irishkate was back in Cork to join [profile] alaimacerc and us for a game of Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers.

It was a fairly lacy board by the end, with more voids than I'm used to. Lots of complaints about damn tiles, blocking moves and so on, and the luck of draw did seem to be fickle.

Final scores Alai 70, Sam 85, Irishkate 99 and Myles 112. Yay me!
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 06:03pm on 28/03/2010 under , ,

Rowan takes gold!
Originally uploaded by MylesC
My clever (wonderful, bendy, focused) daughter won her first gymnastics competition today. It was a club competition only, but I'm still fiercely proud of her. Not just for coming first, but for the practice she put in and the focus that made her practice until she was happy with her performance.

Well done, love. You deserve your medal.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 03:15pm on 18/03/2010 under , , ,
Those who know me know I like trees. Wired has a piece on the oldest trees on the planet that is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 09:17am on 08/03/2010 under ,
For the first time in a good while we had [profile] alaimacerc round on for Sunday night boardgaming. We played Trias, the little dinosaurs and break-up of Pangea game. Pangea certainly broke up, with the central continent fairly quickly separating into several mid-sized landmasses and a couple of tiddlers. Sam took sole possession of a pair of 5 or 6 hex continents that ended up connected, while we all fought over two other larger masses. In the end game I was sidelined on both, ending up in second place one and swimming desperately to joint first place on another. Final scores were Sam 31, Myles 29 and Alai 24.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 12:04pm on 05/03/2010 under , , ,
This website allows you to determine which nearby stars are about to enter your personal light-cone. By this reckoning my birthday is only 2 weeks away from reaching this beauty. HR 483 is a lovely little binary with good potential for hosting life.

I must remember to wave to the neighbours.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 01:34pm on 23/02/2010 under , , ,
They already seems to be getting some webtime this week, but the amazing ruins unearthed at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey are worth reading about.

I'm delighted and somewhat awed at the idea that our ancestors were building temples, and had the social structures to support such building 11,500 years ago.
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Because all the cool kids are doing it: my gaming DNA. )
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I watched Kim Jong-Il's Comedy Club on BBC Four last night. It was a compelling piece of television and it's hard to articulate my reaction to it.

Quoting from the BBC website's description: "A journalist with no scruples and a pair of Danish comedians travel to North Korea with a mission to use humour to uncover the truth behind one of the world's most notorious regimes."

Essentially the three men, Mads Brugger, Danish journalist, and Jakob and Simon, two Danish/Korean comedians, posed as a Danish cultural exchange group hoping to perform a well-known Danish skit as theatre for a North Korean audience. In the process they shone a light on the remarkably twisted and Orwellian life of North Korea, and in so doing they faced the reality of their own lies too.

I was both moved to laughter (painful to me as I have a very sore chest from coughing lately) and tears. The absurd contrast between the edifice of lies and fear that underpins everything in North Korea and the presentation of a sketch about a transvestite called Mrs Kristoff to a solemn audience of North Koreans had me in stitches, while the segment on the show school filled with indoctrinated children stopped the laughter with chilling speed.

I had the greatest respect and sympathy for Jakob, the younger of the two comedians. He has a condition involving a muscular palsy. This let him act as the troupe's voice of truth. No Korean could understand a word he spoke in Danish, so he was able to comment in real time about the regime. A brave and funny young man who, it must be said, was being used for propaganda purposes by both the North Koreans and Mads Brugger, yet managed to stand apart from both agendas.

Best and most troubling piece of television I've watched in a long while.
Mood:: moved
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From Daily Kos, with WTF analysis at Feministe.

I shudder to think what a similar poll would reveal about the Irish, but damn, them's some confused people right there.
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 10:00am on 30/01/2010 under , , , ,


(lifted from Warren Ellis)
Mood:: awestruck
location: On a tiny speck
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 11:59am on 27/01/2010 under ,
The last couple of Sundays we played TransAmerica and Ticket to Ride: Europe with [profile] alaimacerc. I won the TransAmerica handily, more or less by pure luck.

The TtR:E game was more interesting, with a bit of a struggle in and around Berlin, and crappy tickets for all three of us. Sam managed a nice network out of the Balkans and took the longest route bonus easily. Alai was royally shafted by his tickets, unfortunately.

Final scores were Alai 71 (including -23 missing tickets), Myles 104 (45 in tickets) and Sam 118 (38 in tickets + 10 for longest route).
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posted by [personal profile] mylescorcoran at 10:12am on 12/01/2010 under ,
Had [profile] alaimacerc round on Sunday for curry and boardgames. He made the slog through the snow and slush so we broke out my new copy of Puerto Rico, a Christmas present from my wife.

It was a heavy shipping game, with surprisingly weak building from me and Alai. We ran out the VPs to end the game. Final scores were Alai 28vp+18bldg = 46, Myles 37vp+19bldg = 56, Sam 26vp+31bldg = 57! Sam was the only one to get any of the 4-pt building manned, which netted her 13 points. Pipped at the post, but a nicely close game in the end.

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