The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Letters - August, 2005

John Preston-Marshall: In response to your July editorial, I'm sorry to say that I can't come up with a single thing that I hate about The Games Journal website. In fact, I love the clean layout, the tidily formatted articles, the high "signal to noise ratio", and that wonderful treasure trove of archived articles. And I've certainly never regarded your introductions as 'blether' either!

Actually, I've been meaning to write to you ever since I read your interview with Tom Vasel. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy The Games Journal, and appreciate all the effort that you and the other talented writers put into it. I only discovered German board games a year or so ago, and still find the whole subject very exciting. One early highlight was discovering The Games Journal, and working my way through the archive—rationing myself to a few articles a week to make them last!

Which leads me onto my one suggestion: On the archive page, it would be nice to have the option of sorting articles by when they first appeared. The 'sort by topic' function is useful when you're looking for a particular type of article, but if you're just browsing, or if you're new and doing a bit of a catch-up, it would be nice to be able to work through chronologically.

GGA - You can achieve this by visiting the "months" section of the Archives. Each link will take you to that months front page which will then have a list of all articles/reviews/etc published that month.

Michael Hoffman: This is in response to Joe Huber's fine review of The Complete Win at Spades. Although I agree that Bridge is a much more exciting game than Spades, Spades is a far easier game for people to learn and play.

In Mr. Huber's analysis of the final chapters, he takes the author to task over the fact that N/S was praised for bidding 4 (North's bid of 2 seemed to be the final straw), and suggests that a bid of 3 would be more appropriate. Now I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure if the authors are using different rules than I grew up with, but when I learned Spades 20 years ago, the "minimum team bid" was the "number of players in the game". So in a team game, the minimum team bid was 4! ("nil" bids obviously notwithstanding).

With that rule in mind, it seems that the author's do a fine job of analysis of that specific situation.

Odeda Rosenthal: I am the author of Coping with Colorblindness (published in 1997), the most comprehensive reference on inherited and acquired color vision confusion (CVC)—which is what I prefer to call the condition.

I wish to point out a few things:

When you speak of color contrasts—these contrasts are not the same for them. They need light (value) variations more than color contrasts.

When people say they are only slightly color blind- red-green, they seem to be ignorant of the fact that hardly anyone is so blind to color that they see no color at all. Achromatopsia is rare.

When brown is used to "substitute" for red, it is such an outrageous reading of what I have published that it is sad. Some see brown as equal to red, but they don't see either color as those who see the full color spectrum. The use of red on black, or black on red still persists, but for most who have CVC those two colors are equal to the same thing. Yellow in its full intensity can register as a deep gray-black to most. Try this on a black and white xerox machine and you will get the same response—it will not come out a light color. Those who see the full color spectrum assign reactions of emotions or memory to the colors, but that is not the case with CVC—they do not use that as their visual guide, but rather texture, line and other design, placement of dramatic shifts in light variation, as well as speed or motion. Adding sound helps.

Of course there is much more, but what is being done now is misreading of available information with quick fixes that do very little other than show ignorance of the condition which is not simple.

Allen Varney: True factoid: Steve Jackson stopped publishing Pocket Box Games because the box manufacturer accidentally destroyed the one and only mold! It would have been far too expensive to recreate it, so Steve just went to cardboard boxes instead. In recent years he has made noises about publishing games in DVD cases, but so far as I know this hasn't happened yet.

Andy Merritt: Just a quick comment—I haven't played Pickomino myself, but it sounds like an updated version of Reiner Knizia's Octo, which was published in his book Dice Games Properly Explained (which I can recommend highly). The main changes are that in Octo you use standard dice, and players try to score as high as possible. If you score the highest yet then you write your score on a slip of paper and keep it in front of you. Other players then get one attempt each to beat this. If one of them achieves it, then then they get the paper and note their score and everyone else gets one more shot and so on. It works well, and sounds like it may well be a bit quicker and be less prone to petering out than Pickomino.

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