I recently bought a new card game, called Hanabi, and I strongly recommend it. At the time of writing this, you can get it for $10.42 on amazon. The thing that sets this aside from most card games is that it is completely cooperative. The thing that sets it aside from most cooperative games is that there is hidden information, so it is not just a single player game in disguise.

The basic idea is that 2 to 5 players each have a hand of 4 to 5 cards that they hold backwards. Each player can see all cards in other players hands, but not the cards in their own hands. Players take turns playing cards, discarding cards, or giving hints about other players’ cards. If you attempt to play an invalid card, you get a strike. In the end everyone’s score is the total number of valid cards played.

The game plays well for 2 to 5 players, but is rather difficult for 2 players. My wife and I got a perfect game on one of the  easier difficulty levels, but have not yet done so on the hardest difficulty level. I am convinced that a sufficiently well designed convention can win almost always. So far the game has been a hit with everyone I have introduced it to, and a couple people decided to buy it after playing their first game.


Less Wrong

Now that I am getting more traffic from sources such as reddit, facebook, and twitter, some of my viewers might be unaware of the existence of lesswrong.com. Less Wrong is “a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality.” If you are unfortunate enough to be unfamiliar with Less Wrong, you should stop wasting your time reading my blog, and instead discover all the amazing content Less Wrong has to offer.

I recommend browsing what looks interesting from the sequences for a little while until you manage to convince yourself that it is worth your time to read everything that Eliezer Yudkowsky has to offer. At which point, you should just read all of his posts in chronological order. You should then make an account, and participate in some of the amazing rationality discussions. If you enjoy the Less Wrong community, then you should also take a look to see if there is a Less Wrong meetup near you.

Much of my content here has been crossposted on Less Wrong. My username is Coscott, and you can see a list of my discussion posts here.

Deadly Rooms of Death

I would like to make you aware that Deadly Rooms of Death is the best video game there is. It is also the most difficult puzzle game I have ever seen. Most games I like have inspired me to take out a pencil and paper, or a calculator, or a spreadsheet to analyze them in one way or another. DROD has done this many times. However, for DROD, I have had to do actual math (e.g. “Oh, I can prove it is possible to solve a general puzzle of this form if and only if this graph I can draw quickly by looking at the puzzle has a perfect matching,” and then I actually use that fact when solving more difficult puzzles.) In addition to stimulating the mathematician in me, this game has also stimulated the scientist in me. I have had to make predictions about how the game works, and run experiments to test those predictions. The game is 100% puzzle game, it is completely deterministic, and there is no need for any quick reflexes.

Here is an article from the Mathematical Association of America about how amazing DROD is.

There are currently 5 DROD games out, as well as 13 official DLC holds, and lots of user made holds. The sixth and final game is due to come out this year. You should start by playing King Dugan’s Dungeon. There are five ways to do this:

1) (Recommended) You can buy it for 10 dollars here, and it comes with the 2nd and 3rd game in the series. (You will probably want to buy the 2nd and 3rd game later anyway, and you can’t beat this price.)

2) You can buy it for 10 dollars here. It comes with a DLC pack and a month of Caravel membership.

3) You can download the demo for Journey to the Rooted Hold, here, download the level pack for Architects’ Edition here, import the level pack, and play play for free. (Architects’ Edition is the old, and now free version that was improved into King Dugan’s Dungeon. You will miss out on most of the hardest secret rooms this way.)

4) You can play the Flash remake of the first part of King Dugan’s Dungeon here. (Only choose this if you are not sure if you want to play DROD yet. If you choose this, and want to continue playing, you will end up having to repeat a lot of puzzles you have already solved, and might see some hints that spoil some of the fun.)

5) If you know me personally, you can ask me for it. I bought extra copies of the game when it was on sale. I am willing to trade them for your agreement to keep me updated on your progress, because I love talking about DROD.


The Storytelling of Science

This video is 9 months old, so you may have already seen it, but I had to share it because it is by far the most amusing thing I have seen on youtube. It is a panel including Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Brian Greene, Lawrence Krauss and others. If you know who half those people are, you are probably already watching it. If not, you should.