Well, it occured to me just now that the most entertaining games (to me at any rate) are those that have little extras that make me laugh – often surprising little interactions between the ‘characters’ in the game or between them and the player. Bioware RPGs are particularly noteworthy for this, and their new Dragon Age is a real masterpiece. I was reminded of this just now when playing (just one more turn!) a little bit of Mr. Meier’s latest version of Civilization (the product that drove Avalon Hill out of business by stealing the name of an Avalon Hill game…). It’s a fantastic and frustrating game, of course, as every version has been, but what made me laugh out loud was Gilgamesh’s negative reaction to a trade I had proposed. I haven’t been so happily surprised since the first time I discovered that the mercs in Jagged Alliance reacted both to being searched (“That will cost you dinner and a movie!” says Fox) and to being ordered to shoot a buddy (“This is highly irregular. Oh, well.” says Grunty). I take back almost all of the extremely rude things I’ve said about Mr. Meier over the years when I’ve ended up losing a game I really thought I was winning. I even forgive him for his taking all the pleasure out of Railroad Tycoon by redesigning it. That reminds me – I hope I have time tonight to fire up the continuing career of Captain Bloodnose and terrorize the Spanish Main for an hour or so before bed. The redesign of Pirates! was perfect.