Chanukah Games

Second night of Chanukah, most people were busy.

Love Letter

Nadine 2, Chaim 1. We stopped when Lorenzo came. It was luck and guessing, not deduction.

Dreidel

For Lorenzo to try it, he liked it; we all liked the M’n’M’s.

Tzolkin

Lorenzo 65, Nadine 54, Chaim 33

First play for Chaim. He lost 15 points for not being able to feed workers. Lorenzo said he understood the game better this time, second play. Chaim had six workers, Lorenzo five and I had four, and buildings to feed all of them for the last two feedings. No one bought a Monument.

Splendor

Lorenzo 16, Chaim 13, Nadine 11

Lorenzo was happy to try this, he had wanted to but hadn’t gotten a chance at Kinneretcon. Chaim had three Merchants and Lorenzo one. I had a four point card in my hand, but would have had to collect more coins before playing it. Lorenzo noted that there is significant luck.

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December 06, 2017

Participants: Jon, Haim S, Lorenzo, Nadine

Gin Rummy

Haim 42, Jon 0

We played one hand, playing the local rules that I grew up with.

Trajan

Nadine 125, Jon 119, Lorenzo 119, Haim 94

First play for Lorenzo, Second play for Haim. I tried a few different things, but I could see that Nadine was going to win by halfway through. Naturally, she complained every time she only made 24 points instead of 25 in a round, or if she only made points in 4 areas instead of 5 in one round. I didn’t complain, because I figured I was second and thought it might be close.

We all played more military than unusual. Lorenzo played with the x2 chips, extra actions, and many Trajan tiles. I played more cards than I usually do.

Nadine writes: It’s not just luck, but not really planned either. At the end of one of the years I landed on a spot to get 9 points because I had the right colors there for the tile. It was the scroll rack spot, and I had an extra action chip, so I ended up second to get a bonus tile, worth 6 points. Lorenzo was hurt by it being his first game and not realizing a few things early enough, and Jon went last, without compensation. Tie breaker is the scroll track, I think.

Actually, we played with the slight rule change where all players get the same number of turns (so whoever triggers the end game, it comes around to the 4th player), which is a little compensation. But it’s still a little harder in last place.

Lorenzo says that he liked it.

Tichu

Jon/Haim 1080, Nadine/Lorenzo 220

Second or third time for Lorenzo. Possibly it would have been better if he had been my partner. Nadine says that she wants to keep Lorenzo as her partner while he is learning.

Lorenzo writes: She is very good in trying to fix my mistakes, but Tichu is an especially hard game for me so for almost each point she gets I lose as much.

KinneretCon November 2017

Our third Kinneretcon. A large contingent from our Jerusalem group – Jon, Saarya, Lorenzo, Nadine, Chaya Bluma, Haley, Gili, Eszter, Binyamin, Cliff, Netanel, Mishi, Rafaella. Thanks to Roee, we played in an airy upstairs room with windows, instead of the basement.

Above and Below

I had seen people playing this at previous Kinneretcons and wanted to try. I’m not sure why I wasn’t impressed, the gameplay is fine. I don’t really like the story aspect being mixed in, the story part isn’t that interesting and disrupts the game while you read. You roll dice for success in explorations, but can injure your people for extra points. Lorenzo wisely took a re-roll two card, which helped him. Our scores, were close, except for Lorenzo. First play for all except Gili. Lorenzo 49, Roee 40, Nadine 39, Gili 38

Clans of Caledonia

I wanted to play this because I read that it was in bgg.con Hot Games. A very pretty and complex game about clans in Scotland, with nice wooden food and animal components. Cliff laughed when I told him you expand on hexes, get resources, trade in the market and fulfill contracts. I like that some of the clan representatives are women. Ortal, who had played once, taught it to us – Roee and David. I selected my choice of clan benefit, MacKenzie, a whiskey distillery, picking out of three, based on the clan of a fictional character in the Outlander books. This turned out to be a pretty good benefit, mainly giving money, which helped at the end of the game with buying and fulfilling contracts. I found out at the end that my starting goods had been random, independent of the clan, so I had been lucky to get a whiskey which started giving me money right away.

I knew there were variable round scoring tiles, but I forgot to pay attention early on, so barely got any of those points, and I didn’t even try to use any of the port bonuses. I pretty much understood the placement scoring even though I forgot about it. I upgraded shipping one level but didn’t use it. I thought I was doing poorly, as did the others, actually I was doing poorly. I didn’t have the goods for my first contract – I didn’t realize how hard and expensive it would be to make bread, I thought using wheat, which I was already producing for the whiskey, would be efficient, but it’s the opposite, it’s easier to produce something else. It took me two rounds to buy them at the market because I only had two merchants, so I fulfilled that contract on round three, of five. David thought that he could toss a contract, he hadn’t noticed that I had a problem due to that too, you only get one at a time and can’t discard it, he had already obtained goods for a new contract so that hurt him.

After fulfilling my first contract I was able to use my whiskey money to buy contracts, and managed to get ones that required whiskey, which by the end of the game I couldn’t use for income anyway. I also noticed, when Roee used the benefit, that you get a free contract for emptying a row; I had emptied my whiskey row a while ago, so got a free contract. I fulfilled four contracts in the last two rounds, pretty much catching up on contracts, and unexpectedly got the most contracts bonus of twelve.

Roee understood the game well, competing with Ortal for the placement bonuses, first place is eighteen. I made some placement mistakes, but the worker, production, and upgrading mechanics weren’t that hard to understand. I didn’t even realize there was a ranking mechanic til the end, the ranking of the import goods which are contract rewards change based on the number of each, but I don’t think knowing affects play much, because you mainly take contracts based on which one you can fulfill. I got 44 points for one good that I had on contracts, ending up second. Ortal had around 120, I had 100 and Roee 99, and David a bit less. I like the game, but it will take me several plays to understand how it all works.

Signorie

I taught this. Partly selected for Lorenzo, who is Italian; he kept trying to figure out who the families were. They caught on and liked the game. I did mainly books, Lorenzo had a lot of men. Lorenzo 158, Effi 137, Nadine 131, Yossi 114

Herbaceous

A great, fun filler which I learned last time. I taught it twice, and played it once, and won.

Crokinole

I played two rounds at one point. The game was a big hit with everyone.

Antike

Jon taught it to four people including CB, but two people who listened to the explanation decided not to play, so Haley joined and learned it. We all did pretty well, but Jon is always faster. He had the advantages of being off to the side, and being first player, but as he said, he would have managed to win anyway. I get better as I play more, but don’t play often enough. It’s a very elegant game.

Tresette

Lorenzo taught us this Italian game, using his pretty cards. It’s a trick-taking partnership game similar to bridge, without bidding or trump, and suits of 10 cards. The game is fine, but we had a hard time telling the suits apart due to the similarity of the artwork. Lorenzo offered to switch to regular cards, but we liked the challenge, and almost had the suits down after the two rounds we played. In addition, Lorenzo plays counter-clockwise.

Samurai

First play for all. A nice-looking abstract, with a lot of depth. Spatial, I played mostly tactically.

6 Nimmt!

We played a round of this game, I didn’t realize it was 6 Nimmt!, which I’ve heard of, we were playing with the Hebrew version which has a different name. Cute light game, pretty random.

Lorenzo’s other plays:

Rococo – Lorenzo 74, Gilad 63, Yossi 38

Edge of Humanity – Tal 11+ (He won the tie on more survivors) Lorenzo 11-, Effi 10, Pini 8 (the creator)

Bang

3 games. First was won by the renegade, Saarya was imprisoned for 3 rounds and never played. The second match the bad guys won, outnumbering the sheriff. Last game sheriff and deputy killed all after a long battle with Saarya.

Mazal tov to Cliff for winning Argent!

– Nadine

Jon’s report:

Gentes

A wonderful game with simple, elegant graphics (with one or two niggling problems) and elegant gameplay: buy cards and play cards for points and abilities, and buy cities and workers to allow you to play the cards. Cities also give bonuses. That’s pretty much it, but it works very well, with a worker-taking mechanic and the additional payment of time counters – most actions use up two slots on your action track – the worker you take and the time counter to pay for it, but some require you to take two time counters. You can either take them as two time counters, using up a third slot on your actions, or as a double time counter which then turns into a single time counter the next round, effectively meaning that you use up the second slot on the next round instead of the current one.

I played by buying very few cities, but in the end I had to buy some in order to play certain cards. I did okay, but not as well as the winner by a good distance.

The complexity is about the same as Hansa Teutonica. I loved it. Unfortunately, it is a limited run game until or unless it gets reprinted.

Corto

A ridiculously over produced game with cartoons, rulebooks and action strips instead of a board, two massively sculpted pieces and cards. All for a pretty straightforward and annoying “take that” abstract game of collecting coins, only a few of which you can collect during the game, and the rest of which go back and forth like a yo-yo until someone who is marginally ahead decides to end the game. Last player is at a disadvantage, and no compensation is given for it.

In my game, I stayed away from the pool of points available at one end of the board, but I was still a target for some reason, and I was down to 0 points on the board in round 4 out of 6.25 (with two permanent points collected). I complained about this. Then I finally spent a little time thinking about what to do about it, tossed some cards and took no actions in round 5 to get better ones (since I could hardly lose my position any further by that point), and played all my cards in round 6, netting me 18 points. The player after me (who was first player) ended the game; he had 19 points, I had 20, and everyone else had less.

Bleah. I’m not a fan of “take that” mechanics, and this didn’t change my mind. It didn’t help that the explanation for the game took a few repetitions to understand. But it has pretty pieces.

I also played:

Age of Industry – taught this to various people, and while the game is still dry, they enjoyed it.

Antike – see above

Crokinole – see above. Lots of people played this, and several talked about buying it.

Slap Deck – a few times

No Thanks

Sticheln – I think it’s okay, but the people around me whined a lot.

I taught Power Grid

I saw the sunrise over the Kinneret: very pretty.

November 15, 2017

Participants: Jon, Haim S, Nadine, Gili, Aaron, Lorenzo, Klara

Klara is a new attendee from Germany, volunteering in Israel. She is quite an experienced gamer.

Troyes

Nadine 47, Lorenzo 45, Aaron 34

First play for Aaron and Lorenzo. Nadine forgot a few rules, but in the end the only one she forgot entirely was that you can only use one time cube at a time.

Nadine writes: Lorenzo used Archer well. I forgot or didn’t know that you can only use one time cube per turn. I think it only happened once: Aaron turned a white to three yellows, then added two to each cube. Lorenzo added two to each die several times, but I think he had only modified with flipping, which is allowed. Lorenzo had the worker bonus card, so he was using six or seven dice. I was down to four dice, until I replaced one of his on the last round, after which the event card where you have to pay for each worker in the yellow building came out, so he lost one less coin. The “lose two influence” card was in a effect for a few rounds, which made it hard to get workers to place on cards.

Lorenzo used the Archer to good effect; it lets you roll dice to place cubes on any event cards. I fought the cards because that was my bonus. They both realized this, even though they didn’t know that I usually don’t fight cards. I got a lot of money once from a red card, with which I bought points on a yellow card (not the cost 15 one). Aaron also did this. They both understood the game, even though they said it’s a hard game. It took Aaron a bit longer.

Village

Klara 62, Haim 56, Jon 53, Gili 43

Second play for Haim, and second play in a long while for Gili and Klara who had to relearn the rules. I made one change in the rules: you MUST take a cube every round, even if you are using the Well. This made the game FAR better, in my opinion, since taking the Well does not any longer give free turns to other, random, people.

I did a combination of Council/Market and dying, while Klara did a combination of Council/Market and Church, which turned out to be slightly better. Haim did travelling and church, earning no Market points. Aaron tried a relatively balanced strategy, a little of everything.

It’s Alive

Jon 50, Aaron 47, Haim, Klara

First play for Klara. Haim and Klara ended up drawing all but one of the coffins, and Aaron drew the last one. I don’t remember Haim and Klara’s scores, but Aaron triggered the game ending and I won.

Slap Deck

Jon+, Haim+, Klara

First plays for Klara. We played twice.

Tichu

Jon/Haim 1035, Nadine/Aaron 665

This game went on for far too long (until 2 am). It took some 16 or 17 hands. Haim and I had sucky hands. Once in a while Haim made what I thought was a questionable play, but in the end it was often the right one (or at least the only option he had). Finally I had one or two good hands near the end, including one where I called Tichu over Nadine’s Grand Tichu, and both Haim and I went out first (for a swing of 500 points). Then we got to 980, and then to 990, and finally the game.

November 08, 2017

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Aaron, Haim S

Small game night.

Village

Aaron 50+, Jon 50-, Nadine 47, Haim 36

First plays for Aaron and Haim, third plays for Nadine and me. This is a frustrating interesting game that has a number of different strategies to explore. You can’t follow all of them, so – if you try something new – the game plays very differently. And yet, in the end, you come out to roughly the same number of points. Either the game is well balanced, too balanced, or hard to figure out.

I’m kind of enjoying trying to figure it out, in the meantime. I don’t know if Aaron and Haim liked it too much. Haim took the opportunity as first player to take the “first player next round” token a lot, which essentially often let Aaron be first player. Turn order on the first turn gives a slight advantage to those who go first, which is a minor problem with the game, but not a real problem. Which brings me to my only real problem with the game:

I loathe the mechanic where one person, instead of taking a cube off of the board, can pay three cubes to take an action. Not because you can take an extra action, but because this gives some other player an extra turn, which is just highly unfair and annoying. Yes, it’s part of the mechanics, but it’s a mechanic that I despise, and it is so easily fixed. Just make any person doing this first take a cube, like happens in Suburbia and so on. In this way, paying three cubes for an extra action doesn’t add to the overall number of actions. if that gives too much benefit to the person paying the cubes, you can have him take and throw out the cube.

I am definitely playing with some variation of that from now on.

Tichu

Jon/Aaron+, Nadine/Haim

I didn’t finish the last round when it was obvious that we had won.

November 01, 2017

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Haim S, Haley

Light attendance tonight. Haley first came to Games Day, and joins us for our first game night.

Kingdomino

Jon 43, Nadine 38, Haim 32

First plays for Jon, Nadine played at a game Shabbaton. Honestly this game may cause some people angst but didn’t give me any cause for thought. It’s in the same space as, but lighter than, and lesser than, Take It Easy. Pick a tile, reserve your next tile and turn order, and place your tile in the pretty much obvious spot. It helps to know the tile distribution, but as you can see, apparently not too much.

Crossword Squares

Haim 18, Jon 17, Nadine 16

First plays for Nadine and Haim. This little pen and paper game is also in the same space as the above, but it’s quicker and free to own.

Splendor

Nadine 15, Haim 9, Jon 9?

I wasn’t really keeping score since I was planning an infrastructure when Nadine suddenly announced that she won. Didn’t see it coming. Of the four patronages, three of them required rubies and there were no ruby cards available, which hurt my (and Haim’s) infrastructure building plans.

Since Haim plays almost purely infrastructure, and I am still toying with a mix, I may have been slightly ahead of him in position.

Castles of Burgundy

Haley 194, Nadine 193, Jon 191, Haim 176

First play for Haley, second or third for Haim. Haley is a true gamer, and she really liked the game. I thought I was slightly behind for the first three phases while Nadine was slightly ahead and Haim was close behind. By the fourth phase, it all looked pretty close to me, maybe I was slightly ahead and Haim seemed a bit behind. As you see, it ended pretty close for all of us, except for Haim who had fewer end scoring tiles.

Nadine almost always plays the same three or four paths, but Hayley took one of them from her.

Tichu

Jon/Haley 1010, Nadine/Haim 990

Second or so play for Haley. Last time we played, Aaron and I were far behind Haim and CB, and we ended up losing spectacularly. This week Haley and I were far behind Haim and Nadine and we came back from a nearly 700 point spread to win.

I won a tichu on the first hand. On the second hand, Haley lost a Tichu and they went out 1/2. On the fourth hand I lost a tichu. On the fifth, I lost a grand tichu and they made a tichu when Haim laid down a 13 card straight on his opening play (and they also got 110 points).

Round 7 I made a grand tichu, bidding on a Dragon, Ace, 2 kings, 3 queens, and a 10. After passing I had Dra, A, A, A, K, K, K, Q, Q, Q, J, J, 3, Dog. I predicted that my opponents would have multiple bombs, which they did (one each), and yet I still wasn’t worried about making my bid.

Round 8 I made another tichu. Round 9 they made one. Round 10 I made one. Round 12 Haim made a grand tichu, and the score was 990 to them, 810 to us. No one called tichu on round 13, but with some careful play we managed to both go out first.

 

October 25, 2017

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Aaron, Haim S, Gili, Elad, Lorenzo

For Sale

Jon 112, Aaron 77, Nadine 61

First play for Aaron. Nadine does not like the game, which she remembered soon after starting. Aaron wasn’t nuts about it, either.

Boggle

Haim and I played a few rounds.

Argent

Gili, Nadine, Aaron, Lorenzo

First play for all of them, I think. This is a mammoth Euro/Ameritrash combo game that took 4 hours. In the end, they all tied with 3 points each. And Nadine won on the tiebreaker.

Nadine writes: Argent is a very nice and interesting game. Worker placement with lots of options, you can activate cards in addition to placing workers, each player has a special ability. There is complex synergy between the options, with three different types of cards. You get compensation if someone wounds you (kicks you off your spot), and there are defense cards.

12 of 18 end game conditions are in the game, similar mechanic to Troyes except it’s all who has the most, no second place unless one or both of two second place cards are in the game. You can get markers to look at cards.

I focused on 3 things, based on cards that I saw early – Influence track which breaks ties, this was one of the two cards that weren’t hidden; Diversity which is most different colors of cards, which works against collecting the most in one color; and Markers. I knew that if I was first in Influence and had all the markers I’d win the tie, it turned out that no one else had 12 markers, but I tied in Diversity with Lorenzo. He was second on the track so also won some ties with the others. We played on the A sides, I was purple and didn’t take any red attack mages. We all ended up with 3 cards / points at the end, which makes sense in a balanced game. Gili had played once but ran out of time so only played four rounds. It has some luck, possibly the right amount.

Glen More

Elad 62, Haim 61, Jon 42

Second play for Haim. First play for Elad, who picked it up quickly. I found myself grinding to a halt early on and I never recovered. I don’t know why, exactly. I never go for whiskey barrels. Haim always seems to have one too many tiles at the end.

Spyrium

Elad 67, Jon 65, Haim 52ish

First plays for Haim and Elad. These scores don’t count for much, since I accidentally used the decks in the wrong order: C, B, and then A, which makes for a ridiculous game. I think they liked the idea, however. Haim called it a complicated version of Splendor. I find it interestingly complex for something that looks kind of simple. And the green bits are nice.