Blog Archives

Fast Math: A Look at Lovelace & Babbage

Stolen!

Despite being terrible at theoretical math, one of my favorite classtime activities was to take a large number — probably something like 55378008, since I was a hormone-addled thirteen-year-old — and divide it mentally into the smallest possible quantity. Dividing by two or five was easy; three was tougher, but there were tricks. Sevens or other primes usually left me stumped.

Lovelace & Babbage, on Kickstarter right this very minute, is all about the joys of simple arithmetic — with the caveat that it must be done fast.

Read the rest of this entry

Nikola vs. Thomas, Part Two

"Dearest Mother: My obsession with creating the world's largest spool of iron wool has led me to dark places. I finally accept that I need help."

You’d think Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents would be right in my wheelhouse. History? Bitter feuds? Stolen patents? I am intimately acquainted with all of these things in my genuine everyday life, so why not in a game? Tragically, Tesla vs. Edison was an excellent game marred by a single major issue, which is almost worse than simply being a bad game. As I wrote in last week’s review, because everybody loves it when a man quotes himself:

Rather than being a game about the War of Currents that happens to have a hand in the stock market, Tesla vs. Edison is a game about the stock market that happens to have a hand in the War of Currents. Its priorities are all mixed up.

To my credit, I didn’t place that quote over an image of a snow-drifted prairie. And to Tesla vs. Edison’s credit, the expansion Powering Up! entirely erases my complaints about its tedious stock jockeying.

Read the rest of this entry

Nikola vs. Thomas, Part One

Which fabulous mane of hair will win?

Call Dirk Knemeyer what you will (“flubby,” “the red peanut,” whatever you want really), but the creator of the sublime Tomorrow and a string of not-quite-as-sublime titles must be granted at least one major concession: he has designed the only game — the only game — where you can have Mark Twain write a smear campaign against Sir Hiram Maxim. “The Maxim machine gun? Compensating much?” Twain says, receiving a packed auditorium’s thunderous applause and stamped feet. Hiram Maxim exits out the back, manfully hiding his tears behind a stenciled kerchief. Twain’s sponsor and Maxim’s chief competitor, Elihu Thomson, observes this scene via opera glasses, cracking his first smile in seventeen years.

Yes, it’s Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents, one of the most brutal contests in modern science put to cardboard. And it’s grand. Mostly.

Read the rest of this entry