Haim’s unconventional winning move

Concordia

Jon 117, David 104, Nadine 95, Aaron 94, Haim 74

Jon’s Secret Santa gift, new to all except Aaron. We all liked it once we figured out what was going on. David doesn’t like playing with 5, but by the second half of the game people were making their moves quickly enough. Jon and Aaron understood the game from the start, David didn’t at first, I didn’t either, Haim didn’t complain. I focused on two things, ending up doing better than I expected. We all liked the game, you have to plan well but you have a lot of control, and all the actions are positive ones. The ‘copy another player’s move’ action works better with 5 players.

Tichu

Nadine Haim 1035, Jon Aaron 965

The score doesn’t reflect that Jon and Aaron were ahead by at least 300 the whole game, and we all expected them to win handily.

Aaron’s first two Tichus were defeated, but he was determined, and made his last one. Jon made a GT and some Tichus. Later in the game, Aaron commented that no one had gone out 1 2. I didn’t say ’til now’, but went out second after Haim a minute later. I had two bombs, I used one to save Haim’s Tichu even though it turned out that I didn’t need to, Aaron would have had to play a single card eventually, and Haim had the Dragon left. But I wasn’t sure, and had to use my Dog anyway, and had the second bomb which was enough after I managed to play my lower single cards. It was hard to pass, I had to break up a consecutive pair, I started with 3333 4444 8899 JQ.

On another hand, I had a good hand and was probably going to call Tichu. Haim opened with a 1 to 5 straight and called an Ace. Jon went over it, and I had to play with my Ace, which left me with an extra card, and one less Ace, so I didn’t call Tichu. I told Haim that I passed him a low card, so he shouldn’t call an Ace, he said he called it because he had no Aces.

The score going into the last hand was us 635 to 965. We made our usual remark that we only needed to go out one two on a GT to win. I called GT on good cards, I ended with the Dragon, Phoenix, and 3 Aces after passing. When I played the Dog, Haim responded with a low straight which Jon overtook, and then led and took the trick with a consecutive pair. After that I was able to get back in and go out, I played Phoenix and my last Ace over a pair of kings, then led the Dragon and 33322 to go out. Aaron and I were complaining about Haim’s play, but it was well thought-out. He said later that he knew we could only win if he went out second, so he played towards that, successfully, for a surprise win of the game.

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Pie Town

Pie Town

Nadine 126 Haim 105 Jon 102 Gili 97

A new game of Haim’s, very nice. Worker placement to bake and sell pies, with a deduction element. You get more points for baking pies with your secret ingredients than for generic pies, but the other players can get points for guessing your ingredients so you need to disguise when you bake. I’m bad at deduction games, even though we had erasable cards to write on. I started off by getting to the maximum of workers, 4, while others got ingredients and upgrades. I upgraded eventually, and managed to bake the most pies by the end of the game, to put me ahead enough in points that I didn’t need the points from guessing. The others guessed well, but the maximum points from guessing it all correctly is only 12. It feels like there is luck, mostly in turn order. You can take first player if no one takes it before you, Gili took it once, which made me last player instead of second, first player rotates to the left. Haim also to got to 4 workers. It feels more tactical than strategic, all of us are ready to play again.

Azul

Haim 70 Gili 63 Jon 62 Nadine 58

My second play, Haim has played over 20 times, to good effect. Gili kept trying to block Jon, and he kept telling her to block me instead because I was ahead, but she was right. I could have done better but didn’t feel like thinking more, and I doubt I could have won.

Aaron plays Clank

Magic

Jon and David each won a game.

Acquire

Israel 42500, Gili 20700, Haim 19800

Splendor

Israel 15, Gili 13, Haim 7

Clank

Aaron 44, David 42, Jon 0

Aaron: I played clank for the 1st time. Love it. Jon had 2 teleportation card really early and got really deep. But I forced as many Dragon as possible and he died before he got out.

David: Jon died one turn before getting out of the deep dungeon. None of us “got out” totally. So Jon was actually very close to winning (he had the most points, 50+, even though he died early).

Notre Dame

David 55+3, Aaron 55+0, Jon 54

Tichu

Jon: Israel called and made Grand Tichu on his second hand with my help. He also called another Tichu, Haim overcalled it, Aaron said he wanted to call it, and then David went out first.

I wasn’t there because of a cold.
– Nadine

More abstracts than usual

Sagrada

Nadine 35, Gili 33

Very pretty game, as billed. It’s abstract, with similarities to Azul, but much harder. It’s unlikely that you can play your last dice legally, much less get points. Sometimes the card actions can help. They didn’t help Gili much, I didn’t try them, which saved me 3 points so I won. I like the game because it’s relatively short, even if it gives me a headache.

Azul

Elad 97, Moran 87, Jon 77

First play for Elad and his wife Moran.

Tigris and Euphrates

Elad 7, Moran 6 7, Jon 6 6

Jon said first time he’s lost to new players, but it was very close.

Trajan

Gili 142+, Haim 142, Nadine 128

Gili won the tie because she was ahead in the Senate. The game usually balances well, so I played poorly. Gili had tons of cards, for 18 points. The bonus tile both of us needed didn’t come out in the game, we would each have gotten 12 points with it. Haim had a lot of extra actions, which helped him.

Slap Deck

Jon, Elad, and Moran played several rounds.

Trias

Elad 55, Jon 52, Moran 26 or so

First play for Elad and Moran.

5-Player Tichu

Magic

David++, Jon

Traders of Osaka

David and Haim had 4 chips, Jon and I 3, when we stopped.

Clank!

Haim 105, Jon 92, Nadine 0

Well, I had 102 points, but was one step away from getting out of the deep when the game ended. Jon said of course I had more points, because I stayed below, but I wasn’t getting points from being there, my points were mainly from cards. Which clogged up my deck and made it hard to get feet and swords, especially together. At the end I drew all my swords at once, and then all my feet when I had to stop after one at a cave. I had a problem with movement the whole time, I didn’t realize I need a Teleport, and I don’t know if one would have been available since Jon and Haim went after them. I had gold, points, and swords, and even feet, albeit not enough. Last time I got out too early and couldn’t play and get points, so this time I did the opposite. You do have to balance well to counter the luck, with luck I could have gotten out. Haim had a very good start, which let him get good cards right away, and Jon wasn’t able to catch up. Jon escapted for 20 points, Haim died without escaping, but was in the top part so kept the points he had; I died for getting caught in the deep.

Notre Dame

David 55, Aaron 45, Nadine F 35

First play for Aaron and Nadine F. David played too well, he had all his cubes on the board, and lots of money. Which meant that he couldn’t go to Notre Dame even if he planned for it because he had no way to get a cube. Aaron ended with like minus 3 rats, it’s the first time I’ve seen anyone benefit from the spaces above rats card. Nadine F put two cubes in Notre Dame twice, which doesn’t give her more points, and uses up cubes.

Tichu

Jon / Haim +, Nadine, David, Aaron

Before Jon and Haim won on the last round, the score was 975 to 125. David, Aaron and I had a negative score most of the game. I decided that I was too tired to play well, and would share a spot with Aaron, our partner was David. After a few rounds Aaron decided that he wanted to learn from David by having David help with his passing, so I partnered them. David sat out a few rounds to take a phone call, so it was handy to be 5. Aaron and I made a few mistakes, but mostly Jon and Haim had good cards, and took advantage of them. Jon stopped one of David’s Tichus with a bomb, and then one of Aaron’s at the end.

Jon complains and wins by a mile

Helen hosted the group, with a Chanukah celebration, and invited other friends who played Dixit, Master Mind, Ticket to Ride and Bananagrams, most taught by Jon, who also taught Castles of Burgundy.

Scythe

Jon 80, Nadine 55, Aaron 50

Jons first play. He complained a lot, but part of his issues relate to being new to the game. Scythe seems designed to play when you are familiar with the game and know all the faction’s mech powers, for example. Aaron and I like the game, despite minor issues. I like that the game is positive, trying different factions, and the choices and planning, even if I feel I’ll always get things done too slowly to win. Jon said there’s too much going on, similar to his complaint about Clans of Caledonia, which I also like.

Jon spent time thinking, which paid off. He was yellow, Aaron red, me blue. We didn’t follow the rules with the bonus cards, we chose based on the actual rewards, which is how Lorenzo plays it. Aaron reached the middle early from his power, and had the extra action card the whole game, but Jon kicked him off at the end.

It was different than the first time I played at Kinneretcon, we all used the neighborly circles, which mainly gave all of us the same bonus. I got all my mechs out, and finished upgrading, but didn’t attack. I was attacked twice and lost spaces due to it. We were all high in military, Jon and I reached the end. I received a lot of extra military that I couldn’t use because I was at the top. I just missed reaching the second level in hearts, I needed one more turn. Jon had over 8 cards, which was one of his missions, he fulfilled the other one; Aaron and I also fulfilled ours.

Jon’s report:

VISUALS: The print on everything is too small and too light. I could not read anything without my glasses, and I didn’t have my glasses.

VISUALS: Player boards are fine when you need to track your own progress only. They are a terrible idea when you have to track everyone else’s progress because you need to take into account everyone else’s powers before you can take your turn. And see above. They could have made a central board where everyone’s abilities are clearly visible.

VISUALS: For no apparent reason, the sequence of actions is different for each player board (I don’t mind different powers and costs, but why different arrangements?). Makes it even harder to figure out what is going on.

VISUALS: The abilities of the pieces are explained underneath the pieces, so you have to keep lifting up the pieces to see what they do.

PLAY: The encounter events are an RPG mechanic spliced into a strategy game and I thoroughly hate them. Either you randomly pick a result and then find out it was worthless or killed your next several rounds, or you simply memorize all of the encounters which defeats the point. I’m okay with this mechanic in a different game, not in a resource-driven strategy game.

PLAY: The special bonus points at the end for buildings is simply one mechanic too far.

PLAY: I generally don’t like the mechanic where you have to decide whether to end the game immediately, because it is arbitrary for the other players who suddenly don’t get another turn. Sometimes it works okay, if the rest of the game works okay.

PLAY: The end game calculation is simply massive and massive amounts of calculation, something that the rulebook actually acknowledges. It is very poorly designed. The rulesbook’s suggestion is to dock players points if they spend too much time thinking on their turn, which is funny, but they should simply have fixed the mechanics of the game so that that doesn’t happen.

PLAY: I simply don’t like direct confrontation games, and this game has combat. We didn’t engage in much, and perhaps many people don’t, but if you lose a series of combats and territories, you just lost the game and there is little that you can do. On the other hand, that’s why I won, which is that no one kicked me out of my territories.

PLAY: I don’t know if all of the powers are balanced.

RULES: It may be difficult to explain the rules, especially considering the rulebook.

As for what is good, the main mechanics and action selection work okay. The actions are balanced and make sense. I like the missions and the options for getting victory awards. If people don’t gang up on a player (like combat games tend to allow), it may be okay.

Castles of Burgundy

Nadine F 1st, Haim 2nd, Noam last

First play for all, they liked the game, especially Nadine F after she decided that Scythe was too complicated.

We don’t kill Jon

Welcome back to Binyamin who hasn’t attended in a long time. Best wishes to Sara and Lorenzo who are off to Japan for two months.

Magic

Jon: We played one game and David slaughtered me with an 11/11 double strike trample my deck was actually pretty good and only 2 colors, unlike usual.

3-level Cube Prototype

Binyamin brought a prototype of cube placement, with multiple point counting possibilities.

Hansa Teutonica

Lorenzo 70, Binyamin 54, Sara 46

First play for Sara and Lorenzo.

Lorenzo: One more turn and Binyamin would have won. Teutonica Is nice. It is not the favorite type of game for Sara and me, but it is nice, strategic and I appreciate some direct “fighting”.

Clank

David 86, Nadine F. 77 Jon 76, Nadine 59

Nadine: First play for all. Everyone made it out except for Nadine F. who was on step away, she would have won with the additional 20 points. Jon went first and got off to a good start, Nadine F who went second was also able to pick up a lot of bonus chips. I was last, after David, which reduced my early opportunities, and early on better cards came out for Jon and Nadine F. Though one wasn’t as strong as we thought, we realized later that it was a purple so could only be used one, Jon had only used it once. We also forgot to move the dragon a few times for artifacts. Jon’s cubes got drawn more than anyone else’s until late in the game, it made sense at first due to the first player penalty. Jon had two artifacts and a lot of coins to buy at the market, but he wasn’t able to buy as many cards with points as David or Nadine F. did. I didn’t realize that once I was out of the dungeon I could no longer buy cards, but when I got out I was two away from dying. Jon took more of a risk and managed not to die even though he was two away for several turns, and get more items. At the end we were buying 7 point cards, so fewer new cards, and fewer dragons, came out. How close to dying: Jon 1, Nadine 1, Nadine F 2, David 4.

The game is interesting. David and I felt it has much more luck than Dominion and Thunderstone. Deck building is not the major mechanic because of the travel and dragons. I prefer Dominion even if I’m not good at deck building.

Bruges

Binyamin 51, Sara 42, Lorenzo 39

First play for Sara and Lorenzo.

Lorenzo: The first time I played Bruges gave me the idea that it relies too much on the chance to draw card combos, this time gave the same impression of being based on luck. It is not bad for a game to have luck involved but I would go for something else.