My video game of choice for the summer, as you know, has been Civilization IV. But with Civilization V due in less than a month, I’m giving it a rest, and resurrecting two other favorite diversions for the waning days of summer: Scrabble, and Sim City 4.
First, Scrabble. I have to blame the Boon Companion for this; he got me addicted to iPad Scrabble, which we’re still playing at home. But most of my playing is via Lexulous, which is the Facebook game once known as Scrabulous, given a new name and a slightly different board configuration after an encounter with Hasbro’s lawyers. It’s still on Facebook, where you can play both in real time and via the correspondence method (“You have a move to make on Lexulous, Rich”); but I prefer to play on lexulous.com, where there are literally hundreds of Scrabble fanatics sitting in chat rooms 24 hours a day waiting to play with you immediately.
It turns out I’m a moderately good Scrabble player — but I’m an even better timed Lexulous player, and most of the fanatics on the site want to play timed. Timed games fit well with my satisficer personality, which races to find the best move available that can be thought up in the first 30 seconds, i.e., roughly the 85% move on average, and then gets bored and anxious trying to come up with something that’s 5 points better. Typically I play 8 minute games with a 10-second Fischer delay, but as I get better I’m going to inch the time limit down little by little.
(Side note: I saw Bobby Fischer in an elevator when I was going to the pediatrician’s, in Century City in L.A., when I was about eight or nine. This would put it in about 1974 or 1975. I was with my mom, who recognized him; she explained who he was, and I remembered hearing about him on the news — I was kind of a chess kid. I think that was both the most famous and the craziest person I met up to that point, at least until we saw Farrah Fawcett in the grocery store a few years later. Or I think it was Farrah. Anyway, I digress.)
The other game is SimCity 4, with the Rush Hour expansion pack, which I played for months before I started playing Civ IV. I figure it’s time to give it another shot, playing a bit more strategically. I’ll have more to say when I get a city to a more interesting point in development, but here’s the one I’m working now: