Saturday, September 19, 2015
While our strategy was certainly suboptimal, the real culprit, I believe, was the number of players. Three seems to be perfect for most of the board game variants, with other numbers of players (both higher and lower) possible but tricky. For The Cure, though, I suspect more is always better. The game is listed as 2-5 players, but it seemed that three was too few. When we played the first time out of the box, we went ahead and used all seven characters since that was the number of people we had present, and the game was simple to beat. We will have to play some more and see if the number of players really makes that much of a difference, or if we just had a bad night of poor strategy. (The link above suggests that other people disagree and think 3-4 is probably best, and that the game can swing between simple and brutal on just a few dice rolls.)
The thing that stuck out to me, though, was the dice themselves. Each color (representing a different disease) has a different set of numbers on its faces. For example, black has three 3s, and one each of 0, 4, and 5. Compare that to blue, which has one each of 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, plus two 6s. Since you roll the disease cubes individually to see where they end up, this ensures that the different colors show up preferentially on different continents (numbered 1-6, plus 0 for no effect). But since you also roll multiple dice of a given color together to try to "find a cure," it also impacts the odds of rolling the required sum (usually 13).
I was going to do the math to figure out the probabilities, but a quick web search reveals that other geeks have already done this. The upshot is that with 4 or more dice the colors behave nearly the same: all have a 45% chance of success with 4 dice, 5 dice takes you up to between 67% (red & blue), and 77% (black), and 6+ gets you into 90% territory. But if you are trying with only 3 dice, you'd better be using the scientist (who only needs a sum of 11) because she has about a 1 in 3 chance with all colors. Everybody else needs to pay attention to the color, because they are very different from each other. With three dice, your chances of success are: 23% (blue), 20% (red), 12% (yellow), and 7% (black).
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
I'm glad we found this errant banana faster than the last one. Nobody needs a repeat of that backpack business.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Shakespeare's Dictionary: 'Robot Scientist'
In actuality, that is two stories separated by a semicolon, not a single story punctuated as shown, but I have to say that my version sounds pretty exciting. The Shakespeare story is fairly interesting on its own merits, but don't read it expecting 16th century automata.
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
For the signing, I dressed up as a Rithmatics professor, my sister came as Megan (from the Reckoners series) and I dressed my son up as Pattern (from Stormlight Archive). I enjoyed recording the Q&A and the signing line, and meeting Brandon again (for the full report, see this thread on the 17th Shard fan site). But my favorite part of the evening was definitely meeting the people behind me in line.
There I was, nearly at the back of the line (my son was getting fussy so we had left for dinner and come back). The woman behind me asked if I had read Legion, which is told from the perspective of "a perfectly sane man" whose hallucinations all have psychoses, but are also geniuses. When I replied that I had, she said, "I'm Kalyani," which is the name of one of the hallucinations. At first I thought she meant she was dressed up as that character, but as it happens the inspiration goes the other direction. Kalyani in line was the basis for the fictional person.
Along with her husband Rahul (who also appears in Legion), Kalyani makes an impressive effort to extend hospitality to their friend Brandon. Whenever he has a signing within 8 hours of their home, they drive to the location and cook him an Indian meal for dinner. Both of them were also wearing T-shirts with their own fan art on them (a chasmfiend and the oathgate network.) I'm glad I got to meet them.
As a result of some questions asked by KalynaAnn, who has put a lot of thought into the geometry underlying the chalk magic from The Rithmatist, I got excited about possible variations and extensions of the defenses described in the book. Here are three hypothetical Rithmatic constructions that could be valid defenses, depending on how many of my assumptions are accurate. I discuss them in this post on 17S.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Recently I have had some very odd dreams. This is not unusual for me--I often have fantastic adventures in my sleep. Last night's was too good not to record. I have considered keeping a dream journal in the pest but never actually done it. This might be a good place to try. At least for the interesting ones.
In last night's excursion into dreamland, I found myself in a small team infiltrating a damaged star destroyer full of storm troopers. (Yes, I had listened to the Star Wars soundtrack recently. Why do you ask?) The best route to the bridge, where we would try to hijack the ship, was through the exercise and recreation area. Everything was going well even though I embarrassed myself on the basketball court, until someone tried to rob my teammate and I intervened in the ensuing knife fight. This attracted attention and my cover was blown. I was still trying to figure out how to get away or buy time for my fellow saboteurs when I woke up.