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Still the master

Ender has been playing a lot of Maddens and started thinking he was pretty good. And, to be fair, he is getting pretty good; at one point in the second quarter I was down by 10 and he had the ball on my four-yard line. But a very timely interception in the end zone followed by a quick 95-yard touchdown pass got me back in the game and I had a one point lead at halftime.

As in real football, the key to success in two-player Maddens is making adjustments. Ender had been chewing up my defense with deep passes to the right side of the field and my front four wasn’t getting any pressure on him, so I switched to a dime formation and began blitzing from the left. On offense, began calling more audibles to take advantage of his tendency to cheat the free safety. That rapidly changed the game, to such an extent that he began muttering about how I could possibly know when he was going to try to stop the run versus the pass.

The final score was 56-40. We both threw for over 400 yards; the difference was that I had another 200 on the ground. He put up a much better fight than the previous New School challengers I’ve beaten down over the years, but I don’t like my chances once he figures out how to better mix up his playcalling. As I explained to him afterwards, he already knows how to think about his actions, so now he has to take the next step and begin to anticipate his opponent’s actions.

Strategy games for starters

DB asks a reasonable question:

If you have time would you mind recommending a good strategy board game for someone who has only ever played Risk and Axis and Allies.

Ideally it can be played by only two people but can handle more if needed. I would like something that doesn’t take days to play, an hour or two, no more than three. A game whose rules can be easily understood by beginners. While I could probably pick up complicated rules fairly quickly those I play with may not be as oriented toward such thinking.

There are so many games out there that I don’t know where to even start looking.

My go to game for beginners is War at Sea by Avalon Hill. It’s simple, historical, and balanced towards the Allied player so it’s a good game to help a less experienced gamer develop confidence while learning the importance of anticipating an opponent. It also makes it very easy to understand why the Axis lost WWII. However, I’m sure others will have alternative suggestions.

Mailvox: Game recommendations

DP requests advice:

Hello Vox, greatly enjoy your blog and articles. In ref. to your post on gaming, the article got me thinking that perhaps from a ‘reaction time’ and ‘mental sharpness’ standpoint, I should invest in something for my aging mind too.

So I am looking for some guidance (without having to ask the local teenagers) on platform and game choices. I am a 47 yr old guy with young kids (boy 8, girl 10) and obviously grew up with Space Invaders, and never really touch them since. The kids have a DS each, but no big game setup (xBox, etc.).

I have deliberately not bought anything to avoid having slugs for children, but now starting to think there may be some advantages to a controlled, limited use (and maybe some fun family time to boot).

So, questions:

1. Platform suggestion? (don’t really have the money to buy new, but perhaps last year’s model from the local pawn shop?)
2. Games? (We are attempting to bring our children up in a Christian household, so the beloved wife will not support a blood fest, but perhaps there are combat or ‘pilot’ type games that help with mental sharpness/reflexes, but keep the gore down?)
3. Any other suggestions or comments.

1. PlayStation 2. The games aren’t very different than the so-called nexgen ones, and in fact, some new games are still being released for it. You can buy one used for around $50 and excellent games for as little as $5. And, of course, download D-Fend Reloaded for playing great old DOS game like Wing Commander and TIE Fighter.

2. Madden 2008 for PS/2 is still fun and I prefer it to the newer X360 versions. NCAA Football is good too, but I don’t know what year is best since I haven’t played NTSC games in years. Some of the classic Arcade compilations are really good. Downloading MAME and classics like Ms Pac-man, Donkey Kong, and Sprint 2 is free and the games can be played on any system bought within the last five or six years.

3. Check out the emu scene and don’t be afraid to dig deep. There are tons of great games that no one plays anymore but are still great fun. Games like Pilot Wings 64 or Castle Wolfenstein aren’t any less fun even if they are technologically outmoded.

Games are good for you

It is medical science:

Dr Micklewright was equally surprised by the number of characteristics gamers did share with top athletes. He said: ”Their reaction time, motor skill, competitiveness and emotions were pretty close. Elite athletes have unusually high levels of positive feelings and low levels of negative feelings such as depression and fatigue.”

Okay, granted, you still have to get to the gym. But combining the gym and games is the way to turn yourself into an elite physical and mental specimen. And best of all, you never have to enter The Big Room.

At the Black Gate

The second part of the interview with Marc Miller, the designer of Traveller, is now up at Black Gate.  If you’re interested in creating your own Traveller-style little black books, there’s a neat little online tool with which you can do so.

If you missed it last week, the first part of the interview is also available.

Game of games

I know we have a reasonable amount of gamers here, so I’m wondering if anyone might be interested in a multi-genre gaming tournament inspired by the Apprentice Adept series. Obviously, it would all be online, but the Sprint competition between Jamie, Markku and I made me think that it might be fun to have different categories such as Arcade, Console, Wargame, and Classic (Chess, Go, etc). Thanks to RK, VASSAL will make it possible to throw down in everything from ASL to Wooden Ships and Iron Men. You could challenge someone and they’d have one month to get the game started, another month to finish it, and this would allow us to determine precisely whom is the Ultimate Gamer here. Forfeits would not only be permitted, but encouraged, so if you blow the game selection game and wind-up facing Spacebunny at Pooyan, Markku at Sprint, or me at Cod:MW2, there is no point in wasting anyone’s time.

Obviously, this could become an ongoing ladder, but I think it would work best initially as a tournament. We can do something like give away a mouse to the winner, a personally inscribed copy of RGD to the second-place finisher, and TIA for third place. (I was going to suggest SE, but I only have two copies of that.) Anyhow, if you’re interested, speak up, and if you have any ideas for what the categories should be, the selection process, or what games should go in what categories, fire away.

I’m just brainstorming at this point, so everything is on the table.