Bad Data

Thoughts on game design

Wed Jul 7 10:18:50 2021


To be a good game, you need decisions. These need to be real decisions, not illusory decisions. An illusory decision can be of two types:

Thus, in tic-tac-toe, as any child quickly discovers, the choice of which square to mark is illusory, as each square either leads to a loss or a tie, and there's no particular reason to prefer one tie-square over another.

Wide or tall?

Quantity or quality?

Some games give a choice between going "wide", that is, a large expansion, or "tall", that is, a small expansion, but make what you have better.

In wargames, this is known as quantity or quality, lots of crappy units, or fewer better units.

It's hard to get the balance here right. Most space type 4X games don't really allow for a "tall" strategy, because there's a limit to how good a planet can get, and you eventually need to grow bigger, not just better.

Another problem with high quality is that in many games, the number of units is so few, that you can't afford to lose any of them at all.

Posted in / games

Thoughts on 1862

Mon Dec 30 21:45:28 2019

We've played a lot of 1830, and some 1846. While those games have some differences, they basically play the same.

We recently picked up 1862 and it plays a lot differently.

Specifically, the way companies count their revenue from train runs is completely different. In 1830 trains each count their runs separately, and you can't reuse track at all. In 1862, you can reuse track with different trains, but you can only score each station, port, or off-board area once for your whole company, and each of your runs has to link up into a connected network.

This means that with multiple trains, you will necessarily be hitting a large station more than once, but you can only count it once. Rather than thinking of it as scoring trains, it makes more sense to think of it as building a network with your trains, and then counting where you hit with your network.

To evaluate a train then, don't think about how the train can run, but rather how it can extend your network. Long runs of track are rewarded if you have multiple trains, and maximizing the advantages of each type of train in a multiple permit company will lead to higher runs.

Merger Cost

Other than a few edge cases, you will always lose value on a merger. For "normal" mergers, the loss in value will be about one-third.

Take a merger of two companies, where you own 5 shares of one valued at 82 and 7 shares of another valued at 110. In this case you lose 342 in share value, a 31% loss. It may be that 60% of the combined revenue is worth more, and it will be easier to multiple jump to regain the share value, but you still have a 342 loss to overcome. It may have been better to sell a higher valued share and buy two lower valued shares.

If you did that, and then immediately merged at the beginning of the next stock round, you'd pay a net of 54, and then merge 7 shares at 82 with 6 shares at 105, which would entail a loss of 308. Plus the 54 paid out, is a loss of 362, or $20 more than the previous case. You'd also have to shell out $64 to redeem an option share, for a final loss in value of $426.

Posted in / games

Scripted Opponent for 18xx games

Wed Jul 18 12:24:42 2018

Basic thoughts:

Stock Purchases

  1. Attempt to obtain five shares in companies where the player is the president.
  2. Maximize dividend payout
  3. Start a company, par price sufficient to buy five shares. Otherwise don't start.

First stock round: start a company if it can buy five shares. If not, buy the most number of shares? Diversify? One of each?

What company to start? Preference defined by game? Minors?

Minors: buy cheapest offered minor. take random card?

What company to start?

Running companies

Company money target: two tile lays, plus one token, plus second cheapest available train. plus cost of minors?

Issue shares: always issue if possible? Issue if would hit company money target?

Purchase minors: always purchase if possible? Purchase if run increases? Purchase if will still hit money target? Money target minus train?

Lay track and tokens: always play to maximize revenue.

Then, shareholder input for additional tile lay. Need at least two shares, greatest number of shares wins, can't go below money target, ties for greatest broken by how many of the players companies shares are owned by the opponent. If still tied, no additional tile.

Once revenue can't be increased further, extend a run. Take shareholder input, if any. Where track lay costs money, don't go below a token or train.

Pay or keep: attempt to have enough money for the next train, and a token. Would withholding be the difference between buying the next train or not? If yes, withhold, if not, pay.

Buy trains: opponent will never sell trains. Buy a train if it would increase the run. Buy the train that increases the run the most, (on existing track?) Buy a permanent train.

Posted in / games


Tue Jun 1 20:25:10 2010

Rule Errors in our recent game

Posted in / games / wif


Tue Jun 1 14:11:22 2010

Allied Convoy Setup

The commonwealth controls the following resources and factories:

CW Resources
AreaFactoriesResourcesDistance via
French Resources
AreaFactoriesResourcesDistance via
New Caledonia110

The Commonwealth has 81 Convoy points (assuming you're using Ships in Flames).

Initial CW Convoy Chains
South AfricaBay of Biscay3412
IndiaMed/Bay of Biscay2714
CyprusMed/Bay of Biscay144
Initial CW Convoy Deployment
East Coast6
North Atlantic9
Central Atlantic3
Gulf of Guinea3
Cape Verde Basin3
Cape St Vincent6
Bay of Biscay6
Tasman Sea2
New Zealand Coast2
South Pacific2
Gulf of Panama2
Arabian Sea2
Red Sea2
Eastern Med3 FR
Western Med3 FR
Initial Frency Convoy Deployment
Eastern Med1
Western Med2
Cape Verde Basin1 BR
Cape St Vincent1 BR

This uses 9 French CP to do all the Allied shipping through the Med. If the Italians declare war on the French and not the Commonwealth, they are likely to end up back at peace once France falls, and they won't be able to harrass the British. The CW will need 6 CP through the Med to replace the French CP. If any of those survive, they should be moved to French africa in hopes that they will be Free French.

That gives 15 Resources to the UK, maximizing their production at 21, which will give 11 BP in 1939. The chains use 66 CW convoy points and 6 French convoy points, leaving 15 free convoy points for the CW. The French will have 9 resources, giving them 5 BP in 1939.

Once Italy declares war, the Med may get too dangerous to route convoys through, and after France falls, the Bay of Biscay may be too vulnerable to German air cover.

Any of the CP in the Faroes can alternatively be put in the Bay of Biscay. The CP in the Bay of Biscay can be routed through the North Atlantic instead if an equal number of CP are also added to the Faroes.

The Med can be skipped, and the Indian resources can be brought around Africa for 8 more CP (though you'll need 9 as a CP in the red sea is needed to keep Egypt in supply).

In that case

Initial CW Convoy Deployment
South AfricaFaroes3618

Posted in / games / wif


Fri May 28 18:50:53 2010

French Force Pool

After set up and reserves, the french have the following:

French 1939 Force Pool

In 1940, the french will add 1 HQ-A, 1 INF, 1 MAR.

Without British help, they will produce 5 BP (Assuming 3 resources imported) in 1939, and 7 in 1940.

If the British give 4 resources, that will improve to 7 in 1939 and 10 in 1940, at a cost of 2 CW BP per turn in 1939 and 3/turn in 1940. If the convoys are there, it might make more sense to lend the BP directly.

French Build Program
SO 193951 HQ-I
ND 19399 (4 BP/8 res from CW)1 Pilot, 2 Gar, 1 Lnd-3
JF 19409 (2 BP/3 res from CW)1 Inf, 2 Gar, 1 Ftr-2
MA 19406 (1 BP/1 res to CW)3 Mil

If you're still alive at that point, build some air or lend everything else to the Commonwealth. Also, if the situation is hopeless, lend everything to the CW, the Vichy declaration happens after the lending stage, so the CW might as well benefit from the French production.

Posted in / games / wif


Thu May 27 18:35:02 2010

Commonwealth Production

Commonwealth Production Plan
SO39111 CP, 1 Amph/fd, 1 TRS/fd, 1 Gar, 1 Nav2, rp CA-London
ND3971 CP, 1 Gar, 1 Pilot, CV-Formidable/fu
JF40161 TRS/fd, 2 CP, CV-Victorious/fu, 1 Gar, 1 Ftr2, 1 Pilot, 1 Inf
MA40191 TRS/fu, 1 Gar, 1 Ftr2, 1 Nav3, 2 Pilot, 1 CP, CV/fd, rp BB-Queen Elizabeth
MJ40161 Amph/fu, 1 TRS/fd, 1 Inf, 1 Ftr3, 1 Pilot, BB-King George V/fu
JA40161 TRS/fu, 1 CP, 1 Amph/fd, 1 Mil, 1 Nav3, 2 Pilot

Posted in / games / wif

Russian Production

Thu May 20 18:32:53 2010

Assuming a MJ 1941 attack, you've got 10 turns before the germans roll across the border.

Russian Build Points should be as follows, assuming the Japanese don't attack.

SO 193923/300.258 (2 from germany)
ND 193923/300.258 (2 from germany)
JF 194023/300.514 (2 from germany)
MA 194023/300.514 (2 from germany)
MJ 194023/300.514 (2 from germany)
JA 194023/300.514 (2 from germany)
SO 194023/300.514 (2 from germany)
ND 194023/300.514 (2 from germany)
JF 194123/300.514 (2 from germany)
MA 194123/300.514 (2 from germany)

You may have a couple extra BP if you demand the Rumanian and Finnish territory.

So, you've got 128 BP.

What's in the force pool?

USSR Force Pool
class type cost 1939 1940 1941 1942
ARM ARM 6 2 1 1 1
ARM HQ-A 8 1      
ARM MECH 5 5 1 2 2
CAV CAV 2 2 1    
INF GARR 2 8 2 2 2
INF HQ-I 5 1 1 1 1
INF INF 3 16 2 2 2
INF MOT 4 7 2 3 3
INF MTN 4 1      
INF PARA 5 1   1 1

Timoshenko (HQ-I), Zhukov (HQ-A), 1 Mech, 5 Inf, 2 Gar, 2 Cav, 2 Ftr 2, 3 Lnd 3, 1 Lnd 4 are set up.

That leaves 2 Arm, 4 Mech, 1 Para, 7 Mot, 1 Mtn, 11 Inf, 6 Gar.

Russian Build Program
SO 193982 INF, 1 Gar
ND 193982 INF, 1 Gar
JF 194014HQ-I, 2 INF, LND3
MA 1940142 INF, 1 Gar, 1 Pilot, 2 Ftr2
MJ 1940142 INF, 2 Gar, 1 Pilot, Ftr2
JA 1940142 INF, 3 Gar, Ftr2
SO 1940142 INF, 2 Mot
ND 1940142 INF, 2 Mot
JF 1941142 INF, 2 Mot
MA 1941143 Mot, 1 Cav

Posted in / games / wif