Dec 28, 2005
Nadine is in California. I expected David but he didn’t come. However, Binyamin came with his two kids, Tzvi Yehuda aged 7 and Tikva Shira aged 9. They were young, but they were also very bright and focussed for their age. They managed to learn and play some complicated games by the end of the evening.
The Menorah Game
Zvi Yehuda+, Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Ben
In honor of this being the fourth night of Hannukah I thought it was appropriate to play this game as a light intro. Zeke didn’t seem to like it that much but he doesn’t seem to like anything. And he always wins it, too. Zeke buys just about everything, even for high prices, yet he still seems to come up with money again the following round.
And yes, that’s a win for Tzvi Yehuda, too.
They played this simple game. Granted I haven’t played often, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone pull off a complete set of five of a kind. Ben had four of a kind and the blue. ZY had two of a kind and the black flower.
This is a race game played on four chess boards arranged in a square where a 4×2 area (the Billabong) in the center is off limits. There is a line from the Billabong to the edge of the board which is both the starting and finishing line. Each player gets 5 pieces to place anywhere they want on the board to start, after which they win if they are the first player to cross the start line and then the finish line with all of their pieces. Pieces move either one space in any direction or by jumping pieces. A piece jumps by landing the exact same number of spaces on the far side of the jumped piece. You may make multiple jumps in one turn, but you can’t jump a piece if you would land on another piece, land off the board, in or over the Billabong, and you can’t jump two pieces at once.
It is a strange and chaotic game, especially at the start when you have thousands of multiple jumping opportunities. Setting up far jumps means that being father back is not necessarily a bad thing, unless your means of jumping moves away. It plays a bit like Chinese checkers on drugs. The sheer volume of possible jumps leads to a lot of analysis paralysis.
Anyway, Zeke fell rather behind, mostly because he hated the game (once again). Brendan ended the game exactly two moves before I would have.
Ben and Gili played this while waiting for us to finish Billabong. When they ended the game, neither had a 6 pointer, but both had a Chapel with fours cards underneath.
Looking for more games that kids would enjoy, I brought this out. Our group isn’t thrilled with it because of the dice rolling and general repetitiveness, but these three liked it. Binyamin liked it more that he liked Primordial Soup, since you can’t lose genes once you have acquired them.
I didn’t see what happened, but there seemed to be a lot of attacking going on.
I haven’t brought this out in a while. The last time it was played it took an incredible six hours. We have the biggest analysis paralysis problem in the history of mankind. I told them that this was not going to happen tonight. Luckily it didn’t. We finished in a balmy two and a half hours.
For the record, I gave Zeke some advice which may have cost him two points. Gili and I fell behind by the first scoring phase. By the second one I was only a bit behind the others, but Gili was even further behind. And then, in the last scoring round she managed to catch up to only a few points behind me and I was only a few points behind the leader.
Zeke was doing the second place in a lot of regions strategy, although he was fighting me for New Castille which drained us both. Once again, Ben seemed to pull off some miracle, as he had the fewest pieces on the board but won anyway. There was almost nothing left in the provinces by the end of the seventh round.
Same as Evo, this was brought out as something manageable by kids. There seemed to be more rules confusion over this one however, as I kept hearing “Why can’t I do this?” and the answer, “Because that’s the rules.” They really loved it, however. Again, much more than the rest of our group.
Until next week.
Dec 21, 2005
Rachel and I had a late start with dinner. Brendan also joined us, and later Gili did, too, when she arrived and found noone else ordering from the local burger joint (minimum order = 2 people).
That left Zeke and Binyamin, the next two to arrive while we were still eating, to play a two player game.
First game for both of them. They plunked down pieces at random and then tried to figure out what went where. By the middle of the game, it was already obvious that Zeke had many more liberties, and he won the game handily.
Later in the evening Zeke won again against Brendan who had actually played before. Once again, Zeke seemed to have already won the game midway through. I will have to play Zeke to see if this is anomolous.
Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation
I almost began playing this with Gili, and then Nadine decided to bow out of the La Strada game she was about to start, so we switched. It was a first play for both of them, and I’m not sure if they even finished the game.
Jon 34, Brendan 30, Zeke 24
We were supposed to play 3 games, once with each player starting, but Josh showed up and we wanted to include him. Also, Zeke had already had enough of the game by that point.
La Strada seems like half a game to me. It is not bad. The game is a track building game like most railroad games, but that’s it. Just the track. I kept hoping to see the pick-up and delivery. Essentially, you score points for every city, small city, town, and village you connect to with your track, scoring a little less for each other player that does the same.
On your turn, you can place 6 points worth of track, where track through woods and hills costs more points than track over plains. By virtue of placing the track you block others from using the same spaces to build their own track. The track is exactly like Age of Steam (it seemed very familiar and then I realized that this is also a Martin Wallace game, like Age of Steam).
The game ends when one player has connected 12 places. In this sense, it is like TransAmerica. I would say that it is better than TA, but still not exactly filling.
Anyway, I had the most large cities in the first game, but Brendan had lots of other little ones exclusively, which netted him more points. In the second game I was more careful to try for both, and despite some mistakes in not blocking others from connecting when I could have, I still pulled the victory.
Josh had looked at China Moon previously and couldn’t believe that it was for grownups. But we played, and, like I wrote the last time, it is rather neat. However, I had only played 3 player until now and it suffers with more players. I can’t imagine that it is playable at all with 5. There is just so much loss of control and so much chaos that winning or not winning doesn’t seem much of an achievement. With 3 you at least felt that you held some influence on the game progress.
First play for Binyamin. He somehow pursued both connections and commodities, managing to score reasonably well. In fact, if he had played the last round correctly, he could possibly have won, so I hear.
Branden especially wanted to try this again with four players, and Nadine was willing. Since Gili and Zeke had left, and Josh couldn’t stay for more than an hour and a half anyway, Josh decided just to watch (which is a shame because he didn’t get to play much and he came a long way to do it).
Four player was better than three player, which was already pretty good. (Of course, any game can still be improved by adding unique powers for the players, but I digress.) In this game, Branden started out ahead with me following, while Nadine just concentrated on buying genes. Then she bought a slew of ameobas and rocketed ahead and then stayed ahead for the remainder of the game. She wouldn’t have kept her lead if the game had gone on a few more rounds, so it was very well planned and played.
In fact, the fact that it was basically impossible to catch her already by mid-game made me feel like there is a bit of a runaway leader issue. Probably, however, we all could have played better to begin with so that she never would have been so far ahead, so the issue is similar to the one in Taj Mahal – best to just play better at the beginning of the game and not complain.
The drifting was a pain in the game, as the same drift directions showed up paired together, leaving all the ameobas huddled in one side or corner of the board, fighting or starving. This was the first time that we bought the attacking genes, but Binyamin’s Parasitism and Frugality beat out my Survival and Substitution, or would have if he hadn’t already fallen so far behind.
Binyamin then borrowed some games for a game day he is hosting in his village: Settlers of Catan, San Juan, By Hook or By Crook, Apples to Apples, and For Sale. Good luck.
Dec 14, 2005
A normal game night. Brendan returns for his second visit and Binyamin brings his wife, Rivkah. Brendan speaks only English, and Rivkah speaks only Hebrew (although she does understand most English … or pretends to, anyway).
The Menorah Game
I was interested in playing again, and having a new person to teach was just the excuse I needed. Brendan seemed to enjoy himself and compared the bidding to Modern Art, which is also what Chris Brooks did when he was here.
Tal started out collecting a lot of medium values at low prices, but then she had nothing to do with the same colored tiles when she pulled them up later in the game, and couldn’t get much money for throwing them out. Brendan got hit with the double 4/6 soldier combo which slowed him down. Come to think of it, he got hit with all four soldiers, and while he only had to pay for two, it meant that none of us got hit. In the meantime, I got a lot of early high cards which gave me cash. With a wild, I was able to win easily after Tal auctioned a candle she really should have bought.
Having compared the Menorah Game to Modern Art, I decided to play MA over Nadine’s objections. She recalled it being too much thinking the last time we tried to play. There are unknown elements when you play, but it falls into a kind of pattern as you get used to it. I think it is an excellent game, better than Ra; Ra has a lovely basic mechanic and some elegance, as well, but it doesn’t combine into quite as good a result.
The only major problem we had was with the double auctions. They just seemed more powerful than they should have been. I’m not sure how to fix this. I will have to play a few more times to get the feel of it before making any changes.
I ended up not winning many auctions at all, but everyone else seemed happy to pay me so much for my paintings that I wasn’t complaining. In the first round, I made a lot of cash and Gili and Nadine ended with the most valuable paintings. In the second round it was also Gili, but she had paid way too much for them, even paying for her own paintings rather than accepting more generous offers. She said that she wanted to experiment with that strategy.
The third round was quick; only two artists appeared. By then, we all pretty much knew that I was doing ok. I thought Nadine was doing better than Brendan, but it turned out to be the reverse.
The above scores represent the offset from the winning position. I don’t remember what the exact winning number is and I’m too lazy to go look. The cards were a little warped from the spill they had received the last time the game was brought out, but luckily the cards don’t have to be all even in this game, for the most part.
After setting up, we found that we were missing half of the pieces, which Nadine suggested were in the Taj Mahal box, which was the game we played after not playing PSoup last time. And they were.
Nadine found the game a little dull and dry. As she puts it, yet another game where there is no point thinking about anything when it is not your turn, since so much will change by the time it gets to you. I also thought it was a little dry and could use some more pizzaz, but I still liked it as is. Brendan also seemed to like it.
Nadine pulled ahead early by buying more ‘meebes while we were buying genes, and as all else appeared to be equal, she managed to keep her lead throughout the game. I kept pretty close behind, but there is a maximum score you can achieve each round, so there was no way to close the gap unless I could find a way to hurt Nadine, and there was little I could do directly to her. I tried to eat the food she needed of course, but her genes were enough to help her out when she needed it. Brendan, who had bought lots of genes, began to catch up, but the game ended before he could pass her.
I missed a rule at one point, thinking that Movement II allowed me to move for free in addition to moving in any direction I wanted. Luckily, I only messed up one round.
I should have known this was wrong for Binyamin, since he thinks way too long on his turns, and this game is worse than most for that. He felt that turns in the game were too long, of course. This was only the second time for Gili, and first time for the others. I brought it out because I thought it was a pretty game, and a reasonable game to introduce to someone who already knew how to play Cities and Knights (Rivkah).
First game for Brendan. He is sharp enough that I only needed to explain the rules and basic strategy. Nevertheless, he built a few too many small buildings and couldn’t build a large enough big building at the end to catch up to me. I had a mid-game Library, yet I used it for producing most of the time, which was kind of wierd.
I built: Coffee, Silver, Well, Black Market, Palace, Library, Hero, Victory Column.
Brendan built: Tobacco, Gold Mine+, Prefecture, Market Stand, Sugar, Well, Smithy, Carpenter, Tobacco, Trading Post, City Hall.
I introduced Brendan to Yinsh after playing Dvonn with him last time. He enjoyed it, as far as I could tell. In any case, he won. I took off the first ring, but then he took off two. A little back and forth and I got my second off, but only a few turns before I missed a double opportunity for him to get his last ring off.
And that was the evening.
Dec 7, 2005
A new person showed up: Brendan, from Melbourne, Australia, who is here in Israel for the year. Brendan is a nice, quiet guy whom we hopefully didn’t overwhelm with out loud Israeli style. Anyway.
Brendan showed up a half hour early, so I had to ignore him while we ate dinner, after which I could sit down to play. I let him read New Rules for Classic Games while he waited.
It was nice to revisit this after a few games of Yinsh. I like it more and more each time I play. I still don’t get the setup phase very much, as so much of the disks just get plunked down “whereever”. Aside from the basic idea of how to estabish or threaten control, it doesn’t have the same tenseness of the second phase. Still a great game.
Midway through the second phase, it became clear that I had the game pretty much in hand. Most every move than Brendan made I could either recapture his new piece or remove the piece to which he needed to jump.
Nadine arrived toting a remade and complete Jewishly themed version of Ra. The game is essentially the same, except that the tiles reflect items from the temple, and some rules were changes to accomodate collecting the twelve tribes.
Ra is a nice game, and I walked away from the opportunity to acquire it for $20 at BGG.con. I already had Modern Art in my bag and figured that we didn’t need both. This was a mistake.
But now it turns out that we can play anyway. The name “Lo Ra” means both “Not ‘Ra'”, as well as “Not bad”, a cute little Hebrew/English pun.
Since we used Nadine’s equivalents, I don’t remember how to translate the items back into the original set, so I won’t describe the actual game play. The scores were as follows, with the mini-steps giving a clue as to what went on:
|Player||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
Tal, Rachel, and Binyamin joined us, so we split into Puerto Rico and Havoc. Havoc is still a delightful light game. As usual, our group even plays light game way too long and serious. What can you do?
|Player||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Round 6||Round 7||Round 8||Round 9||Total|
Brendan had acquired 30 points by round 6, which means that for anyone to catch him, Brendan would have to lose every other battle and someone else would have to win every one of them. Luckily for me, he was literally out of cards at the end of the round. In round 8, I was forced to cry Havoc unprepared, because if I didn’t, it might have gone round to me again, in which case the battle would have not been fought and there would not be enough points left to win the game.
Unlike previous games where I went only for kinds, in this game I had three possible royal straight flushes, one of which I acquired and used to win round nine against Gili, who had a lower values straight flush.
One thing that bugs me about the game is ties. The rules say something about whomever has the least cards, or most cards, or something wins ties. First of all, it doesn’t say what to do if they are tied in cards as well. Secondly, it seems like a pretty arbitrary rule. Bah. We just split the points between both parties when this happens, even though that means some writing or card/tile trading to keep track.
Supposedly Rachel kept score somewhere, but I didn’t find the scores.
We tried this again, having heard that it might be more engaging three player, rather than more players (although there was at least one reverse opinion, as well). It wasn’t. Engaging, that is. It was ok. Again, when you have slow thinkers, the game seems overly long. But even so, it still seems like a rare situation where you don’t buy something for exact change if you have the opportunity. Still, there was bit of jockeying for color, but this was essentialy ruled by the luck of the draw, anyway.
Nov 30, 2005
A nice crowd this evening, including almost half new visitors. Benjamin found out about me from Gilad of the Tel Aviv group. He, in turn, brought Moshe and Itamar. All three of them are Hebrew speakers. Between my passable Hebrew and their passable English (better than my Hebrew) we managed.
Meanwhile, Josh returned with the guest he brought last time, Batya, and another guest, Tali. Welcome, welcome.
Benjamin was scoping out the club in the hopes that he could also return in the future with his wife and maybe some of his kids. He definitely has to return sometime, since he borrowed Settlers of Catan and Cities and Knights of Catan from me.
The Menorah Game
Benjamin+, David, Nadine, Moshe
These people arrived a little early so they played this relatively quick game while I finished dinner and we waited for a few others to come. Nadine and David began explaining the rules but after a few sentences Nadine said that they should start playing and they will explain the rules as they go. This was painful for me to hear, both because I don’t think the rules are too complicated to explain before playing, and because I, personally, can’t stand starting a game without knowing the major rules. I hate being blindsided in the middle of the game with a major piece of knowledge that I really needed to have prepared for several turns earlier.
Nadine, on the other hand, as well as many other people or so I’m given to understand, much prefer to learn games this way – if necessary playing a full round through and then stopping and restarting the game. Sometimes I will show rules with example play on the board, but I just can’t bring myself to start a game without knowing or explaining the bulk of the rules, yet.
Once again I regretted not introducing some sort of pattern into the prototypes to complement the colors, because it turned out that Benjamin is almost totally color-blind. Luckily he was not completely color-blind and the other players could tell him what color each candle was as it appeared, but it still must have made the game harder for him.
In any case, Moshe ended up buying a number of the wilds and getting hit with a few soldiers, so he was only halfway through before Benjamin was able to win with a wild card for which he had been saving up.
Benjamin was impressed enough on his first play to buy the game despite the color issue. Yippee, another sale! So, when is this game going to get published in a real way?
Traders of Genoa
Moshe $405, Jon $395, David, Benjamin
Knowing the Gilad wants this game back at some point, I decided to play it one more time, even though I suspected that David would not be able to fully enjoy the game’s open-ended trading. Still, it was an Alea game and a good one. Furthermore, since I had learned it at Gilad’s group, and the Israelis there had liked it, I hoped that the two Israelis here would also like it. I was correct on all counts: David didn’t like it, the other two did. Nadine excused herself to play something else with Josh and Batya who had just arrived.
Even starting with two less rounds than indicated, we stopped only after three rounds, having taken almost two hours. Moshe had to go pick up Itamar, and I decided to put David out of his misery. Without making a careful count, it looked like Moshe had beaten me by a few dollars, even though I thought he had overspent (to me) somewhat in the early part of the game.
Nadine, Josh, Batya
Meanwhile, in this corner, Nadine decided to set up Primordial Soup which I had taken out with the intention of trying to learn to play, before I got involved with Traders of Genoa. Since the rulebook was only 4 pages long, Nadine decided to try to figure it out on her own.
They got the whole thing set up and pretty and then a certain someone who will remain nameless knocked over an entire cup of water onto the board and cards. After a second of stunned silence, I picked up the whole board and overturned it dropping pieces everywhere, along with the water that was collecting on the board. Josh grabbed the cards and rules and we began to dry everything off and lay it out.
First time that ever happened, and the nameless person should forgive me for being less than gracious about the incident (I wasn’t actually mean about it, I just didn’t come out and say “That’s ok, don’t worry.”)
While it was drying, Nadine brought out Taj Mahal, a game she already knows well enough. They seemed to enjoy it, but I don’t know the results. Josh and Batya had to leave after the game.
Benjamin 32, Tali 27, Jon 24, David
Tali arrived as Moshe left to pick up Itamar, so I picked this out to play as another shortish game, even taking out battles 2 and 5 (or 6). Once again, my group seems to be somewhat more thoughtful (i.e. slower) than others when it comes to “quick games”, and this took a good hour. I rank this somewhere up with Amun Re – a game that “noone dislikes”, so it will come out fairly often.
Moshe returned with Itamar before we were done with Havoc and Taj Mahal, so I set them up with Yinsh. I can’t remember who won.
Later in the evening, while waiting for Puerto Rico to finish, we played this game, the first one that Banjamin couldn’t quite grasp (and win) this evening. In fact, I won 3 to 0.
Rachel 75, Nadine, Tali, Itamar, Moshe
I left the scores at home. Maybe I will fill them in later. This was a first playing for everyone except Rachel and Nadine. Benjamin was looking longingly to play, since he had never played it, also, but we had to split the people up somehow, and the others refused to play Tigris and Euphrates, and noone could suggest anything else.
Nadine ran the show on this one again, teaching the game and giving huge amounts of advise throughout the game (perhaps too much, but it was first game, after all, and PR is certainly hard to understand the first time through).
Rachel achieved the highest score I have ever seen in a 5 player PR game using a strategy similar to one that I occasionally use against even the best PR players. Basically: a few corns, small sugar, late tobacco, small warehouse, harbor, and custom’s house. Requires very little money and rakes in a whole lot of vp’s – 47 shipping points to be precise.
The second and third place scores were 59 and 58, followed by 50 and then some number that I promised to forget.
Tigris and Euphrates
Benjamin 8+, Jon 6+, David 4+
Second play for Benjamin, but I refreshed him on the rules. It quickly became a massacre after he managed to survive and profit from a number of external conflicts which he didn’t even initiate. I thought I was doing ok, even though David was taking in the treasures. He ended with 5 treasures, but still managed to only get 4 points, as his two lowest colors each only had 2.
I set up a number of monuments in colors which I knew that they didn’t really need. The game ended with the third to last treasure being taken. I really like this game, and it doesn’t come out very much, because it is difficult to play, like Go is difficult to play. Wonderful.
Nov 23, 2005
Slower night. Once again we worked through some of the new games I brought back from BGG.con and, to my frustration, they were all relatively poorly received. It seems that our group is happy with the classics and can’t be bothered with second tier games. Maybe I should have started them on poorer games first, and worked my way up to the best games only after.
First play for Zeke. I played this with half of my attention, and thus lost in a very embarassing way: I moved and gave him the win without noticing it. I think Zeke actually may have liked this one a little.
Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation
I explained the game to them, and Ben became increasingly annoyed at every facet of the mechanics. He was playing white, and by the time he made his first attack, he decided the game was unbalanced and utterly uninteresting and he quit in favor of playing a four player game. Nadine wasn’t far behind him, also thinking that the game was both lopsided and most moves a result of random luck. *Sigh*
Ben started off the game with only three cards to my six or seven, and proceded to blast this game as well as too lucky. In case you haven’t figured out, Ben is the one who tends to complain a lot … and then win. Before the first scoring, Ben had managed to play a turn with two free moves and collect two cards in the process. The first scoring had him at 12, I was at 11, Nadine 10 and Zeke at 7.
Zeke also wasn’t thrilled with the game. And Nadine and Ben basically said that, while it was infinitely better than LotR:tC, it was kind of boring, with little interaction (true), and nothing to do during other people’s turns, and no way to plan during your turn (all true). Then why did I enjoy it so much more at the con?
Anyway, by the second round, Ben was at least two tiles ahead in the first and third most valuable colors, with little chance anyone would ever be able to catch him. All he had to do was sit and maintain the lead. Also, he had a wall of 15 length, longer than anyone else’s. It looked kind of hopeless for the rest of us. Also by the end of the second round, Nadine was at least two tiles ahead in the second and fourth colors. That left Zeke and me to fight over the fifth and sixth colors, which was not a very valuable use of our time. Scores: Ben 52, Nadine 39, Jon 34, Zeke 31.
Somewhere towards the end of the third round both Nadine and Zeke caught up close to Ben’s wall length, and I managed to tie him in the first color, at which point he pulled ahead in the fifth color. All in all, not enough to reach him. His final score was off the scoring chart.
Another miss, I believe.
And Zeke hated this one with a passion. Another big miss for him. Michael also didn’t seem to get into it, and Ben said that he didn’t like art or auctions very much. I think Nadine kind of liked it, but even she didn’t seem to prefer this type of game. I thought it was brilliant. I guess I should have brought Rahome from the con instead.
After two rounds, both Zeke and Michael were either confused or falling asleep and had to go. Examining the money, it was still a close game between Nadine, Ben, and myself, with Nadine in the lead by a bit.
Ben couldn’t stay for a game of Puerto Rico so we played a few hands waiting for Rachel.
The best game in the world for a reason, but still better with my buildings, IMHO. Rachel and I knew that Nadine had started with an early lead, and we spent a painful game trying to catch up, to no avail. We managed to narrow the gap, at least.
I was first mover. I ended with Large General Workhouse, as well as Irrigation and two big buildings. Rachel also ended with two big buildings and a late Factory. Meanwhile, Nadine, third player, had acquired four corns and a Discretionary Hold followed by a late Wharf.
Jon: 22 ship + 21 build + 14 bonus = 57
Rachel: 22 ship + 19 build + 12 bonus = 53
Nadine: 35 ship + 19 build + 8 bonus = 62
Looks like I’m back to trading games again. 😦
Nov 16, 2005
This was our first game night after I returned from BGG.con, where I sent prototypes of my game #1 to a few publishers and sold or gave away numerous others. In addition, I got to play many new games at the con and I returned to the group with ten new games.
Nadine and Gili tried to keep the game group going while I was gone, but only managed to do so for the first week. So it has been three weeks since the JSGC has met. And we began with a batch of the new games.
Not knowing Yinsh, I always thought that Yinsh was rated more highly than Dvonn on BGG simply because it had come out more recently. But it turns out that people just like Yinsh more. Dvonn has a lot of obscurity throughout much of the game, as you play a lot of pieces without any real knowledge as to why. Then you have to choose from a whole board of pieces to move, taking many pieces and reducing to a few pieces. Only as the game draws to a close do you feel any real control as a new player. Yinsh, on the other hand, starts off with few pieces and becomes more complicated. People seem to like that better.
There are other games that do that, but none to such a lovely degree of subtly controlled chaos. The built-in balancing factor of losing your rings also makes it an exciting game right to the finish.
Yonah and Nadine played two games when they arrived. Josh brought a new someone, Batya, and they played when they arrived, as well. This was Batya’s first new game, so I hope it made a good impression. I’m sorry I didn’t get to play with her on her first evening, but that tends to happen.
Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation
In this unbalanced version of Stratego crossed with War, Magic, and Lord of the Rings, David won by a narrow victory, even though I generally suck at war-based strategy games and dark is generally favored to win. Getting Frodo through the mountains is a difficult task, since Sam can’t accompany him. I have to figure out a working strategy for light. I enjoyed the game, and I believe that David did so, too.
This one is a hard one to sell initially after I describe the poker mechanic. Who wants to play poker? (Actually, our former member Sharon liked to play, and I think she may love this game.)
In any case, the game is nothing like poker, really, only using the poker hands as attack strengths. The game is heart and soul like Taj Mahal, in the same way that San Juan is like Puerto Rico. In other words, lots of similar feelings, but otherwise lighter and filling a really different niche.
It’s a good (not spectacular) game, and everyone enjoyed it, except for my daughter Tal who had never played poker. But man, it is supposed to be a fairly quick game, and we took forever. Poeple thought and thought about their hands every time it came around to them. I hope that this was only because it was the first playing, and not something that will happen every time.
David K had an early lead, but Nadine accomplished her usual magic to steal some final key battles. Gili inherited Yonah’s position after he left early.
While not a new game for the group, this was the first play for all of the players, so it counts.
I didn’t study the game play, but it sure looked interesting. For instance, Builder was not taken in the first round. Josh had a huge combination of Library, Aqueduct, Trading Post, and numerous production plants. Michael had nothing but production plants until at least his sixth building, and managed to land a Guild Hall at the end for 14 points.
I had never played Domaine, but so many people had recommended it that I had high hopes. As the game progressed, I found myself really liking it. To my disappointment, everyone else didn’t! Heck! Turns out that the complaints were along the lines of “too slow” and “not enough player interaction”. What can I do? Nadine disliked it the most. David K also didn’t seem to warm to it. Gili was trounced by some nasty moves on David’s part, but she at least indicated that she would like to try again.
David managed to acquire some early income. A key alliance I played stemmed him off from overrunning my domaine and effectively pushed him into Gili’s territory instead.
I made a really bad play with two of my walls at one point, sacrificing mobility in two directions which ended up costing me at least two rounds of play later in the game. Otherwise, we all made lots of mistakes in our first play, which was a learning experience. In the end, David would have won if he had placed second with the money, but Gili edged him out. I hope we play again, but I’m not sure if I will be able to convince them to do so. Rats.
Oct 26, 2005
Josh, and then Gili, arrived. We were just starting San Juan when Michael arrived, that was everyone who had said they were coming. So we played Amun Re, which none of us had played on game day. Overall we weren’t very competitive with the bidding for provinces, there was barely any overbidding. Gili had bad luck with cards, so she stopped taking them, Nadine had good luck with them and was able to play 3 bonus cards at the end of the game against one for Josh.
Scores after the first half and at the end of the dynasty or whatever it’s called:
Josh 20, 42
Michael 17, 40
Gili 8, 35
Nadine 16, 52
Oct 23, 2005
Record turnout for Games Day. This time around I managed to get advanced advertising into the local community mailing list, the free events section of the newspaper, and the Israeli boardgame website. Lots of people said they would come, and this time all of the did, which is unusual. Add to the chaos: my father-in-law flying in from Canada via Addis-Ababa in the morning for his first visit in two years (UN work on genocide early warning systems), and two of our kids returning from whenever they have been for the last few days.
- Jon – that’s me.
- Nadine – my stalwart game player, arrived on the first day that the game group became official back in October, 2003, and has only missed one or two nights since then.
- Gili – A regular for the past few months. Patient, kind, and fun to play with.
- Michael and Elijah – Elijah was a regular attendee, but his school schedule is keeping him from coming this year. He’s about ten years old. Michael is his father. Both definitely geeks (in the best sense, of course).
- Ben – my brother, the middle brother.
- Zeke – about 14 yo, a neighbor who joined us a few months ago and now come regularly. Has some definite likes and dislikes with regards to games.
- Shlomi – 19 or 20 yo son of friends of ours in Beit Shemesh. Of course, sons of my friends are my friends, too. I condescendingly gave him some stones as an advantage the first time we played go only to find out that he is a better player than I am even if I go first.
- Michael V – found out about Games Day through Janglo, the local community mailing list. He has no previous experience, as far as I know, and he went straight into a 3-4 hour game of El Grande. I didn’t get to play with him. He looked about 50.
- Tal – not my daughter, but a nice young man from somewhere on the coast, about a two hour drive to Jerusalem. I played with him at Gilad’s last August. He was the one who kept trying to get $5 more out of me. Very nice guy, and a solid game player. He was interested in trying my game, and, after playing it, he immediately bought a copy off of me.
- Batya, Malcolm, and their three children or nieces – I can’t remember the kids’ names. Three cute girls who didn’t seem altogether interested in learning new games, really, but they did make it through Settlers and at least one of them liked it. I didn’t hear the reactions of the others. Malcolm came later. Batya and Malcolm came the previous Wednesday and learned the basics of Go.
- Rachel – my lovely wife, having to deal with a game group and her newly arrived father in the house at the same time. Still managed to get in a game of Puerto Rico.
- Ephrayim – used to play D&D in my/my brother’s group for the few months that it ran (until I destroyed it). He went to Chicago for a while and is now back in Israel. His first visit to the new JSGC.
- Josh – came last Wed. From Ithaca, NY, in Israel for the year. A solid young man and game player, warm and friendly.
- Howard A – Rachel’s father wanted to learn my game, and liked it.
- Saarya – my son, came a little late, eager to play, especially since he is now in sleep-away school without much time to play during the week.
Age range: about 9 to about 50-something. New faces and old faces.
I realized early on with all the new people coming and going at undetermined times that I would have to do a lot of facilitating rather than game playing. I like it just as much, and I still got in a lot of plays. I’m still the best games explainer, but I couldn’t be everywhere at once, and the truth is that other people can explain games, too. It’s just a hard job for me to give up.
I didn’t get to play: any long games, like Railways of Catan, Empire Builder, or Die Macher, which I would have liked to have played, since we don’t get to play them on normal game nights.
I didn’t get to play: party games, ditto. I picked up Beyond Balderdash, which I had been hoping to try out.
There was also a call for roleplaying, something I sorely miss and would like to play once a month or so.
Games played, alphabetically:
Ben 48, Tal 39, Zeke 39, Saarya 38
First play for Tal. Ben was on a roll tonight, winning everything he played.
Boggle x 3
Jon 26, Nadine 9
Nadine arrived first. We played a few games of Boggle while waiting for others.
Bridge x 6
Ben, Zeke, Shlomi, Jon, Nadine
Games played as fillers between other games, with partnerships changing. Although I am happy to devote a few hours to bridge, I didn’t have the patience to play more than a hand or two casually today.
Cities and Knights of Catan
Ephrayim 13, Josh 12, Gili 8, Elijah 7
Ephrayim had played Settlers, but this was first play of C&K for him. Probably for Josh, too. Close game up to the end, so I hear. A long one, too. This was the last game played. They finally finished about 11:30 pm.
Gili, one of the three children or nieces
Gili tried to teach one of the little munchkins.
Good game, first play for Tal. After playing the pieces, the board looked pretty well divide on either side, with most of his pieces on one side. I considered lopping off that side of the board. Instead, I played my pieces like Empire At-Ats, those white machines that massacred the Rebels at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back. My pieces formed and took control of one side of the board, slowly advanced onto the red pieces, and eventually struck like locusts at all of his threats on the other side.
I wish there was a builtin handicap system, like there is with Go.
Michael V 35/69/85, Michael 33/52/73, Nadine 29/65/100, Ben 31/63/112, Zeke 19/39/90
The longe game, playing at close to four hours. Scores above are after the three scoring phases. Looks like a dramatic comeback for Zeke in the endgame.
Gili, Malcolm, Batya, the three children
Gili taught Batya and family. No more information.
Go x 2
Malcolm and Batya learned this last week. They played a game and called me over to figure out who won. Unfortunately, they had been neglecting to remove each other’s pieces after surrounding them, so there was no way to know who was surrounding whom, and who controlled what.
They played again, and this time I pointed out at the end of the game all the placed they passed on that were still really under contention and could still be won. Nevertheless, we counted up and they both basically controlled 38 spaces. Since Malcolm had gone first, that meant a win for Batya.
My Game Prototype #1
Ben+, Howard, Tal, Zeke
The mockup is called Light My Menorah since it was done in a Hannukah theme. First play for Howard and Tal, both of whom wanted to try the game. Everyone enjoyed it, as far as I could tell. Personally, I still don’t quite like the hazard rule, even though everyone else likes it the way it is now.
Princes of Florence
Nadine 57, Gili 52, Michael 49, Elijah 41, Jon 38
Played reasonably quickly, actually. I thought I was doing all the right things, but somehow by round three, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work out so well. It all went according to plan, but my plan wasn’t a high-point plan, that’s the problem. Meanwhile, other players managed to get some items at a steal, like a Recruiter for 500 on round one in a five player game.
Jon 60, Rachel 54, Nadine 43
We fussed around for a while trying to figure out how many players were playing, which meant counting and recounting pieces – one of PR’s biggest problems. Eventually we settled on the three of us veterans. We play a tight, dangerous game. I started off with the corn and decided to forgo money for a few rounds to obtain a VP lead, only to have it erased after Rachel took an early Harbor and gained 8 shipping points the following round. Eventually I was handed a coffee monopoly. Add Factory, hold my own with shipping, and buy three big buildings means game. Rachel added Small Wharf to her Harbor. Nadine had Custom’s House, Factory, and Tobacco (monopoly).
Noone ever buys Library. It is not useful to acquire it later in the game, and Factory, Harbor, or Wharf are all better buys.
Gili 36, Elijah 32, Michael 28
Didn’t see much. Gili had both Guild Hall and City Hall. She was way ahead in number of buildings, at one point having ten buildings while they had eight and seven.
Settlers of Catan x 2
Batya, two of the kids (and Jon)
Gili, one of the kids, and ?
Introduced to Batya and children, some of whom payed attention, and some of whom had a hard time doing so. They kept comparing it to Monopoly (“It’s got trading, just like Monopoly!”). I tried not to pull my beard out in frustration hearing this.
Batya seemed to enjoy it, anyway. We will see if they try it again after the first playing.
I won my game. I was aiming for Largest Army, but I couldn’t pull any soldiers. I just kept pulling victory points (three out of four cards bought).
Some other children’s card game
The three kids
Which they played after SoC.
Jon 38, Gili 34, Shlomi 28, Tal 20, Elijah 18
Ah, TM. A surreal experience in strategy, hand management, bluffing, and cascading resources. A definite problem of “rich get richer” in this game, but the same is true for many games with resource accumulation, such as SoC, Risk, etc… Like a number of games, it requires a number of evenly skilled players to be enjoyed most.
Gili pulled ahead and kept a lead as I slowly climbed up behind. I passed her in round nine or so with commodities. On the last round, she simply withdrew and pulled cards. I think she would have been better off fighting me. Elijah didn’t even try to win, emptying his hand after every round. Tsk.
First play for everyone but me and Elijah.
Tigris and Euphrates
Ephrayim 9/9/9/9, Tal 6/7/7/12, Elijah 4/5/7/7, Josh 3/4/4/7
Darn. This rarely comes out in our game nights, and I didn’t get to play it. First play for all players except Elijah.
Oct 19, 2005
Three, count ’em, three new people. Every time I advertise my Games Day I get some calls from new people. Some of them say they are interested in coming, but most don’t. This year I got a call from Batya; she sounded like a typical mom searching for fun stuff to do with her family. Somehow I didn’t actually expect her to show up, let alone show up for game night before Games Day. But she called after game night had started and then came with her husband, Malcolm. Unfortunately, we were smack dab in the middle of a game when they showed up. I introduced them to Go on a 9×9 board, which they seemed to enjoy. When they were done with two games, we were also done with our game and I was ready to start Settlers, but they already had to go. Not a perfect experience, but I hope they will come back for Games Day.
In the meantime, Josh emailed me at 5:00 pm. He is in Israel for the year, and he was Googling for games and Jerusalem and he found me. He was active in a game group in the states, apparently. Josh definitely sounded promising and I expected him to come for Games Day but he even managed to show up for game night. I believe he had a good time.
Game night started a little late. It was supposed to be in my sukkah, but it’s been raining and gusting ever since Sukkot started and my sukkah is half colapsed every evening. Sad.
I also introduced Gili to the game while we were waiting for others to show up. I’m not sure if she liked it, or abstracts in general. I think Batya and Malcolm enjoyed it; I just wished we could have incorporated them into the other game we were playing. Maybe I should have stopped our game just to do that. I don’t know. Small game groups are difficult that way. With a large game group, there’s always a few people just starting or ending a game.
Go. Lovely game. I still need to play another 30 games on a 9×9 board before I’m ready to move to 11×11.
Traders of Genoa
I’ve played this twice before; both times were really long – even longer than our usual meaty games, wherein Amun Re takes 3.5 hours. I decided to simply knock two turns off the game. To balance that, I ruled that using the “start anywhere” card could not be used to shorten the game. The game took 2.5 hours, which was just about right.
This game was a first playing for both Josh and Zeke, second for Gili. It went over pretty well, although Zeke felt there was just a bit too much trading and nothing else. We played that the whole path can be negotiated at the beginning of each player’s turn, i.e. all future buildings in the turn. It makes the game go much better, and I can’t stand games where people can make agreements but not follow through on them (except maybe Diplomacy, where that is the entire mechanic).
Zeke ended up being the one to try to collect the Privileges. I only had three, but they all matched, which was lucky. Josh definitely fulfilled the most Large Orders, and seemed to have the most special tiles during the game. Gili was the negotiation meister – you know, the one that no matter what you offer her always asks for 5 ducats more.
I think all of them missed one or two rules here or there, e.g. that the 1:1 tiles can be used to trade for cards as well as goods. It’s not that I didn’t explain it, but details do tend to get lost in long explanations. First game is a learning experience, after all.
Malcolm and Batya had to leave when we were done and Josh only had 15 minutes more. Josh watched us play PR for a round or two and then went.
Zeke wasn’t too keen on PR, but we persuaded him to give it another go. Rachel, of course, doesn’t play anything but PR.
We played with the following changes: you may move a colonist onto Hospice when you buy it, Trading Post instead of Office, Small Wharf instead of Large Warehouse, Library instead of University (never bought), Cathedral (+1 VP/3 red VPs on buildings) instead of Guild Hall.
The order of play was Zeke, Gili, Rachel, Jon, Nadine. The game actually proceded pretty normally, with no wierd plays or very odd strategies. Corn was scarce for the first part of the game. Goods almost all ran out several times. Zeke built coffee, indigos, and Trading Post, the last of which works very nicely in five player. He ended with two big buildings. Gili built Coffee and Wharf, also a nice building in five players, but through circumstances beyond her control she was locked out of trading several times. Rachel build Tobacco, Factory, and a big building. I built Coffee, Trading Post, Wharf, and a big building. Nadine had Tobacco, Factory and a big building. Towards the end, Nadine also got Small Wharf and Harbor, which gave her the decisive victory.
Oct 10, 2005
The JSGC schedule is under stress, what with the Jewish holidays and my planned trip abroad. After several callings off and rescheduling, I called for a game night Monday night on Sunday. David and Nadine were able to attend, with Gili saying she could only attend on Tuesday. The majority won out. Yona, Nadine’s son, was also present.
After some other figuring, regular game nights have been scheduled again, with all but the next one in Nadine’s house. This is in addition to Game Day on the 23rd. I don’t know if this is such a wise idea, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. Game Day has been advertised, in any case.
Tonight’s game was at Nadine’s, since on Mondays my house has too much going on. Too bad, because Rachel would have wanted to play, too.
My Game Prototype #1
I arrived early bearing a spanking fresh printing of my game prototype, ready to be mailed to prospective reviewers and whomsuches and all. The pieces work pretty nice – better than I feared – except for the coins, which don’t work so well. But for demo copies, they’re good enough.
Nadine bought a few too many wild cards, allowing me to collect a few more cards that I needed before she could.
Still interesting, and not too long. Really the biggest problem with the game is the coats of arms, not becuase of the luck swing, but because of the ridiculous way they work. Without any human intervention, you collect them during the game and then fiddle around with them while counting scoring, all with absolutely no control. Come on – surely something could have been done to make this make more sense.
Otherwise, the game has lots of nice interesting choices. I am beginning to wonder about the value of coats of arms vs the chips. The chips provide 2.5 points plus the benefits from the missions. The coats of arms provide 1 point apiece, plus another sixth of a point, roughly. I am wondering if this is balanced, or what would happen if the coats of arms were simply boosted in value, such as 2 points each. How much would it affect the game, and would it be good or bad?
All of us had our mistakes during the game. Yona started off strong, but David managed a killer last round to win the pot. Nadine also did very well in the last round, jumping ahead of me.
All of us believe that the commodities are simply stronger than the connections. Why? Because the connections only pay off on rounds that you win a provence next to other provences. Commodities win for you on any round and you almost always repeat commodities. It is just a bigger payoff, even in three player.
I had two nice connection payoffs, rounds 10 and 12. But that couldn’t match the commodity payoffs for Nadine in rounds 8, 9, 11, and 12. I thought I was doing pretty well, too, until I got outclassed in elephants. There were a lot of two player battles; they were spread pretty evenly, but David took the brunt of too many of them.
G’night, and have a happy new year.
Sep 28, 2005
A good night for what may be the last regular session in quite a while, what with the hagim and my trip coming up next month. Elijah wrote to say that he won’t be able to come for a while, and Zeke wrote to say that he will be able to come regularly after all. Ben and David K both wrote to say they were coming and then wrote to cancel, and Gili, Genia, and Dylan all came without warning. Makes planning exciting!
Nadine arrived first, and with very little time we played one game. Both of us had long lists of words that the other didn’t have. I think we only matched twice. And we played only four letter words or longer.
Zeke and Yitzchak showed up but we were still expecting at least Yona, Nadine’s son, so we played what I thought would be a half hour game. I should just double all of my time estimates. Amun Re – 4 hours, Die Macher – 8 hours. There.
We played a pretty close game. I had a working Well, Aqueduct, and Smithy, Nadine had Prefecture and Trading Post, Zeke … not sure, but they somehow didn’t quite work, and Yitzchak an early Prefecture, Quarry, then Library, but no trading to speak of. I ended up tossing two cards three times. At the end, Nadine was looking for Hero, and I was looking for Silver.
In the order built:
Jon: Tobacco, Smithy, Well, Silver, Market Hall, Silver, Aqueduct, Guild Hall, Indigo, Palace, Sugar
Yitzchak: Prefecture, Quarry, Library, Hero, Statue, Triumphal Arch, Smithy, Tobacco, Victory Column, Guild Hall
Zeke: Well, Black Market, Silver, Hero, Quarry, City Hall, Poor House, Chapel++, Aqueduct, Tower
Nadine: Coffee, Prefecture, Trade Post, Tower, Carpenter, Market Stand, Palace, Victory Column, City Hall, Triumphal Arch, Quarry
Gili 73, Genia 72, Yona 59, Dylan 48
Once again we bring out For Sale. Why? Because I wanted something for the three of them to be able to play while we finished San Juan, and which would be easy to pick up and play quickly. For Sale just works that way. And they all enjoyed it. How about them apples?
In a rare feat of events, we all finished at the same time and could swap partners. Yitzchak had to leave early again, so I brought out Louis XIV hoping it would take 2 hours. Yitzchak still had to start hurrying people near the end, which frustrated Nadine. Urg.
They caught on quickly and seemed to enjoy it. Way to go Zeke.
Cities and Knights of Catan
We toyed with Traders of Genoa, but I said it would take long. Also considered Puerto Rico, but I got a request for C&K, so that is what we played. I spent some time explaining the rules, which caused Genia to glaze over like a sweet jelly doughnut – not because she couldn’t understand the rules, but because it was obviously too late for her to try something complicated. She went to read and ended up helping Rachel with something.
First play for Gili and second or third for Dylan, I think. Well played all around. I ended up with a shortage of paper, but reasonably good other stuff. I kind of felt like I was winning this time, even though I never had more points than anyone during the entire game. I had some cities and the Merchant, while Gili had a VP from a blue card, and Dylan had Longest Road and mid-game Aqueduct. I had more experience, however, which gave me an edge even though I gave over a bit of advice here and there.
At the end of the game I was going to win and then rolled a seven. Then I traded lots of cards going for the Metropolis in blue forgetting that I could have swiped longest road for the last two points. That delayed me for yet two more rounds. Dylan had the first Metropolis in green; Gili should have taken it, but I think she didn’t fully absorb how important it was to be first.
It felt late, but it was only 10:30 and Gili was up for another game, so we brought Rachel in to play after everyone else had to go. Rachel is unhappy that she hasn’t won lately, and this didn’t help. We played with the changes: a) Move colonist onto Hospice when buying, b) Discretionary Hold instead of Large Warehouse, c) Library instead of University, d) Cathedral (+1 VP/3 red building VPs) instead of Guild Hall.
|1||Rachel||Builder||Sm Market, Sm Market, pass|
|Jon||Settler||Quarry, Corn, Corn. This corn wins Gili the game.|
|Gili||Mayor||Rachel starts the game off outside the main line. This should hurt player three a bit, as she doesn’t get Sm Market. But she ends up not needing it.|
|Gili||Craftsman+||3 corn for Gili.|
|Rachel||Captain+||3 VPs for Gili.|
|3||Gili||Craftsman||3 corn for Gili.|
|Jon||Builder+||I build Hospice and man it immediately. The other choice was Lg Indigo (Sm Indigo wastes my quarry bonus). I figure on taking some more quarries and corns. Rachel building Sm Sugar.|
|4||Rachel||Trader+||Trades corn for 2.|
|Jon||Settler++||Manned quarry. Gili takes the only sugar, to Rachel’s frustration. Rachel takes Coffee.|
|Gili||Builder||Gili builds Sm Sugar. I build Coffee, much to Rachel’s frustration.|
|5||Jon||Captain++||3 VPs for Gili. Lots of GP for me.|
|Rachel||Craftsman+||Gili produces sugar. Rachel produces indigo.|
|6||Gili||Trader+||Gili trades sugar, Rachel trades indigo. Ho hum.|
|Rachel||Builder+||Rachel builds Factory.|
|Jon||Settler+||I take manned corn. Gili takes tobacco. Gili gets a tobacco monopoly. going for a while.|
|7||Rachel||Mayor+||Rachel mans Factory. I man coffee.|
|Jon||Settler||I get another manned corn.|
|Gili||Captain+||Gili now has 10 VP, to my 1. That’s a big building worth. At this point I begin to fear that the VP lead Gili has is already too much.|
|8||Jon||Builder+||I build Large Market for 2, hoping to churn out big buildings. But trading gets blocked up, and I don’t get it done fast enough. I probably would have won with Office.|
|Gili||Craftsman++||Rachel is Factorying, Gili is mass producing. Urg.|
|9||Gili||Trader++||Somehow Gili gets Craftsman and Trader, both with double GP on them, and trads Tobacco, filling the Trading House.|
|Rachel||Builder||Gili builds Factory.|
|10||Rachel||Settler++||I get another manned corn. Not enough. Gili is producing 3 tobaccos, corn and sugar, and Rachel has 4 goods. Both have Factory.|
|Jon||Trader||Sell coffee for 8 GP. Noone else trades, so the Trading House is stuck.|
|11||Jon||Builder+||I build Cathedral.|
|12||Gili||Trader+||Gili trades tobacco, no one else can trade.|
|Rachel||Settler+||Rachel picks up tobacco, giving her five goods.|
|Jon||Builder||Trying to end the game, here. Gili builds Custom’s House.|
|Jon||Craftsman++||Bah. Dumb move on my part. Yes, I need the indigo to trade, but Rachel is producing 5 goods, and Gili is shipping like crazy. Why do I do this?|
|14||Jon||Trader+||I trade indigo, enough for another big building.|
|15||Gili||Builder++||Gili builds Wharf (she’s one shy), Rachel builds Fortress, I build City Hall.|
|Rachel||Trader||Rachel should have captained. I had 11 building spaces filled and was going to end the game next turn. Why risk losing shipping space? And she knows I have to mayor to fill my building, which lets Gili fill her wharf.|
|Jon||Mayor+||Filling my last big building, but filling Gili’s wharf.|
|Jon||Builder||I fill my 12th building space.|
Sep 21, 2005
I thought Zeke wasn’t going to be coming back regularly, but he came again. I guess he will be showing up sporadically. Louis also came. I do wish I would know ahead of time who is coming when, so that we can schedule when to start. We almost started a game of St Pete when Louis came, bringing us to five players, so we tossed it in. Then we wrangled over games for a while, before, once again, settling on the game that nobody hates.
Yes, that’s David winning by a tie with most pyramids. We almost played with the “pick 2-keep 1” rule. Can we do that from now on, please? I had my usual assortment of junk picks, 5 of my first 7 cards were bonus VP cards, 2 of which were duplicates, and only two of which I could fulfill. I must have tossed out 4 or 5 cards (tossing on the last round doesn’t count).
Still, if I was picking so badly, how did I score so well? I ended up paying 0 for all of my last provinces, since I took ones that were relatively useless, but helped me with my bonus cards. I scored 3 bonus cards in the last part of the game. I also ended with most money.
Meanwhile, David K bid heavily on Memphis in both eras, taking that side of the Nile both times. The second time he paid 28 for it, while the rest of us paid no more than 6 for our provinces – he kind of overspent, since he could have taken it for 21. 15 wouldn’t have taken it, however.
Meanwhile, Louis collected a number of temples at the beginning of the game, but didn’t get too much else of note – this was his first game and all.
The bidding was light in the first half of the game, since early provinces were camel provinces. Nadine and Zeke both had these. Nadine was basically making a killing the whole game. While we were earning 12 cash, she earned 20, and when we made 22, she made 40. And she still was raking in the VP’s. I don’t know where she went wrong at the end, but she didn’t manage to get any nice bonuses, other than three sets of pyramids and third place in money.
Nadine adds: Where I went wrong:
I should have overbid Louis for the province that I needed to fulfill my all by the river bonus card, he took the only by the river province left. I’m not positive that would have still let me get my pyramids, but I think so. I bid high at the end even though I knew it helped David because I wanted the three items, but I wasted them on cards that were useless, the previous 2 were also useless. Anyway, I should have been able to get at least 3 more points, which would have resulted in a 3-way tie. I had a 2-card limit the whole game which made it less likely I’d get bonuses, but gave me more money for pyramids. In the first half, I couldn’t buy farmers either, second half I needed them for the 9 farmer card.
Both David and Nadine had played before, but not with the right rules. Nadine was the one who started and stayed a little money shy this time, although she still managed to out-aristocrat me, ending pretty close. I had some nice buildings running, including money making ones. But I couldn’t seem to pick up aristocrats. I don’t remember ever turning any away, so I think it must have something to do with seating order or the way the cards filled in. That basically did it.
Now that I think about it, both Nadine and David also took the observatory, while I passed it up. That was also an edge in getting the aristocrats. Next time I’ll remember to take it.
There is something similar in the way the cards fill in to the feeling of moving colonists around to affect how many colonists are going to arrive in PR. David and Nadine managed to collect 9 aristocrats each, while I had only 6, which was a 45 to 21 point differential. David made good use of some early player positioning to secure a few more workers, which definitely gave him an edge with money most of the time.
I still think the aristocrat swing at the end of the game is just a bit too much. Still, it is public knowledge, and therefore should really be no worse than the Jester in PoF, I suppose.
David adds: I disagree with your comment that aristocrats are like Jester’s in PoF. There is a LARGE asymmetry in what aristocrats happen to become available to you. It would be like PoF if instead of taking turns, everyone bid simultaneously.
Nadine adds: They’re not like jesters, but having a greater number helps you disproportionately to their cost, or something. Way too much luck/chance in St. Pete, games where you have less control are less interesting. POF you feel like you have lots of control which makes it challenging, same with PR.
Sep 14, 2005
Plenty of games and company tonight. I played a number of games, which I won, and then I felt guilty for winning all the games instead of my guests getting a chance, and then I felt guilty for being paternalistic about insinuating that the other players weren’t mature enough to handle a rousing good game, winning or losing. Then I felt … whatever. Suffice to say that I’m an impefect human being, but we all knew that.
Zeke will not be a usual, since he is back in school, but he happened to have no homework tonight. Dylan and Genia showed up; Genia is a friend of Ben’s, and Dylan is her fiance. Genia didn’t feel like playing for whatever reason, but Dylan was heppy to play. Good thing, because he is a good player in every respect. Nice to have him, and I hope he comes again.
I needed a filler until a few stragglers showed up, and, having just read Dice Games by Knizia, I thought it might be fun to open up the minds of my players with something different. Nope.
None of them particularly enjoyed the experience, from what I could tell, although the game does involve some thinking. Not much, but some. Just not our type of game, I guess.
Gili lost her first rolls, and then pushed her luck until she got an entire column. Zeke then got two columns quickly, and then I got two, and then Zeke got one more. ‘sbout it.
Zeke’s first time; there doesn’t seem to be too many games that he actually likes; he doesn’t like PoF, Taj Mahal, and a number of others. Luckily this one went over ok.
Ben pulled ahead in the second round. Several areas were still completely empty, and he managed to take the “score all first place in all regions” card. He dropped one cube everywhere and scored a whopping 27 points with one card, giving only 5 or 6 to two others. The end of the first round had Ben at 53, Nadine at 36, Zeke at 28, and Yitz at 26.
The others turned on him, however, and his lead gradually eroded away. Historically, this is Nadine’s game, and she gained a lot of ground. By the end of the second scoring, it was Ben 82, Nadine 75, and Zeke at 70. Yitzchak was out of the running.
I didn’t catch the rest of the game, but as you can see from the final scores, it came down to the wire.
I am trying to ‘sell’ St Pete to Rachel, but not with much success. She has been willing to give it a go, but she just doesn’t feel the same spark that she does with Puerto Rico, and that’s what matters. Still, she was willing to give it another go, especially since this would be the first time playing 3 player with the correct rules.
This was Gili’s first game, and she has trouble securing money sources. In the meantime, although I fell behind in VPs as usual at the start, I thought I was doing pretty well. Rachel and I were neck and neck at the end, however, and we both landed on 92 as our final score, before subtracting five points from Rachel for a card she couldn’t play and then adding the money.
Dylan and Genia showed up at the end of the St Pete game, and of course the El Grande game was still going. Rachel went to work, and Dylan joined us. He has game experience, although he hadn’t played Tikal, and Gili had played only once and had forgotten.
I explained the rules, and a bit of strategy. Both of them overbid for hexes, I believe, and my experience with knowing when to secure a temple and when to arrange things worked in my favor. Despite this, both of them played very well, and it was no cakewalk.
Scores after the first scoring were: Jon 25, Dylan 20, Gili 16. After the second scoring: Jon 39, Dylan 32, Gili 30. After the third scoring: Jon 67, Dylan 60, Gili 55. I think Gili’s goal after the third scoring was to beat Dylan, which she ultimately did.
This also marks the first time that we played the scoring correct, as far as I know. I had always understood that the scoring round was: everyone taken ten action points, and then everyone score, and then continue with the player’s turn. That arrangement make taking your turn before the volcano critical. However, the correct method of play is: volcano taker takes ten points and then scores, and then the next player takes ten points and then scores, and so on, and then continue the player’s turn. In this situation, people fight to take the volcano, because it is always easier to be the first to secure an area.
I didn’t follow this, but I could hear Rachel moaning about the mistakes she made from about halfway through the game. They played with expansion buildings: Storehouse, Trading Post, Aqueduct, Library, Small Wharf.
Rachel was first, and Nadine was second. Nadine managed to secure an early and powerful Factory, along with what appears to be a Coffee monopoly, a Storehouse, and two big buildings. Ben also got Factory, and eventually two big buildings. Rachel had a Harbor and a Storehouse, but it seems like the other two were feeding each other.
This was a quick game played before leaving, and while Puerto Rico was still going on. I built a first turn Prefecture and the game was basically over. I followed with Smithy, Tobacco, Aqueduct, Well, Silver, Tobacco, and Guild Hall. Gili started with an unsuccessful Gold Mine, and then Trading Post and Coffee, but things were always a phase or two off what she needed.
Thanks to everyone who brought snacks. They were appreciated! See you next week.
Sep 07, 2005
A night of being late and kibbitzing games. I was delayed helping my parents with their computer, and only arrived at 7:00, a half an hour after game start. Several members were already here, happily playing.
??? above refers to some other young person that Elijah brought who was on his way to somewhere else and only stayed until 7 himself. I don’t know anything more.
They were in the middle of a game when I arrived, and stopped when I began to set up Princes (and Princesses) of Florence.
They were also in the middle of a game, but pieces seemed to keep flying off the board every turn, so I’m not sure how disciplined it was 🙂 .
Prince of Florence
I set everyone up to play PoF, and went off to do several things that I didn’t have time to do since I had gotten home so late. I kibbitzed a bit here and there.
Louis is a natural gamer, and so is Gili. Both of them pick up rules and strategies very quickly. This was each their first game of PoF.
Nadine held onto the most number of works and jumped forward alarmingly at the end, but Ben had played very carefully and won with his prestige card. Gili got lucky and grabbed the last freedom that she needed for her prestige card on the last round. Earlier she had an agonizing choice of leaving the freedom and possibly losing it, but playing a work she desperately needed for the cash. Or not playing the work and being totally broke. She made the right decision.
Changes that we play with in five player: can only buy one profession card each, and each player chooses one from two, instead of one from five. The remaining (twenty-first) card can still be recruited.
While the PoF game went on, Rachel needed some TLC so we played this again.
OK, something is seriously wrong with this game. It is supposed to last 7 to 10 rounds, but each round that we played: the traders were hardly taken, there were few workers, so all 8 buildings came out. So only a few aristocrats came out, so most of the traders came out. Rinse repeat. The game was over in four rounds, and I don’t see how you can stop that, short of putting a limit on the number of buildings that can come out. Maybe rack it down to six spaces, instead of eight.
Our low scores attest to a frustratingly fast and uninspiring game.
This time Louis was the observer; he thought he would have to go early. Since he had played San Juan, I explained the rules in about 45 seconds, albeit without the specifics of each building and privilege, or the shipping and trading rules.
Gili was first, Nadine second, me third, Rachel fourth. We played with Assembly Line (all production buildings can hold additional colonist), Small Fashion District (trade indigo at +2), Construction Hut, Small Warehouse, Hospice (may move colonist onto it when bought), Trading Post, Large Market, Discretionary Hold (store 3 extra goods, place barrels on full ship for +1 VP), Factory, Library, Harbor, Wharf, Cathedral (+1 VP/ 3 red building points), Fairgrounds (VP’s based on different types of plantations), Fortress, Customs House, City Hall.
Gili bought Small Fashion District and Assembly Line, but only ended up with one corn, and late. She got Factory and Fortress on the second to last round. On the last round she had to forgo shipping for 7 vp’s to man her Fortress which gave her 8 vps. This prevented others from shipping, since she would have benefitted most.
Nadine bought Discretionary Hold and proceeded to abuse it nicely. She also had Trading Post and took Fairgrounds for a full bonus of +7.
I took early Construction Hut (I never do this) and took two quarries. I ended with a third, as well. Then I had coffee monopoly and took Trading Post in order to gum up the trading house, although Gili also eventually got coffee. Frankly, since there were two Factories out there, they didn’t really need the Trading House, anyway. I ended with Cathedral and City Hall, each with nice bonuses.
Rachel had early corn and Assembly Line, and was producing 5 or 6 items by the fourth or fifth turn. Add a Factory and Customs House, and thirty seven shipping points later.
All in all, it is fun to be back playing with Rachel and in person, with different buildings. The game is still very different each time we play.
Aug 31, 2005
Well, well. In this week I show my poor hospitality skills. Louis is a new player who showed up, and although I said hello and offered him water, I didn’t play with him, and I was still in the middle of a game when his finished. I hope he comes again. Next time I promise to play with him directly!
Welcome back Nadine who was in America for a month. Welcome back Yitzchak, who I assume will only be joining us once in a while now that he’s married. And of course, welcome everyone else.
My Game Prototype #1
I was still finishing dinner, so I welcomed Louis and set him up – now this is his first “new game” ever, his last game having been D&D – with my game prototype. Hee hee! Luckily, I think he liked it well enough. Yitzchak got battered again by the lucky element, and Nadine still thinks that that part of the game (the lucky part that batters) should be toned down.
Settlers of Catan
Tal tells me that she was colluded against. Ben and Louis had a close finish, otherwise.
A learning game for Louis, it would be unfair to give his final score. This game and Settlers were both played and finished before our Traders of Genoa game was done, and then some.
Traders of Genoa
I played this game at Gilad’s a few weeks ago, and it was fun. By Alea, the game looks like a clone of Princes of Florence and Goa, same genre, anyway. This is basically a pickup and delivery game and a negotiation game. There are mildly complicated rules about how to earn money, and lots of cards that give you priviliges. The heart of it is each round, there are up to five things for sale. Each player can have one, and the rest are bought from the current player. All items, including money, cards, priviliges, goods, etc can be swapped. Player with the most money at the end wins.
This was also a learning game, but a good showing all around. At Gilad’s we were playing a few things wrong: we were selling building actions even away from the current location of the tower, we were enforcing long distance deals, and we were misplaying the 1:1 cards.
As far as the first two of those go, after trying to play according to the rules, I couldn’t make any sense out of it. How can you offer for something and not have it binding? Do you pay? If you pay, does that mean that he can then back out of it? If you don’t, and he moves towards where you wanted, can you then refuse to pay? I wasn’t going to try to figure that out, so I went back to the way we had played at Gilad’s: any movement or building is up for grabs, and all deals are final once any money or item changes hands.
As far as the 1:1 card goes, at Gilad’s they only used it to trade goods 1:1, although the rules say you can trade any item, e.g. cards, special cards, markers, or goods. Works much better this way.
Yitzchak managed to sneak off with seven privileges before I noticed him. I thought that would be game, but, even maxed making 250 off of them, but was too far behind in deliveries.
Nadine was doing quite well, too. Gili took on the role of my nemesis this game, always asking for 5 more than I was willing to offer. She also had a set of 4 priviliges.
I managed a few good turns in the middle of the game, and I got the most markers for most of the game, so I was also in good shape. So, basically, it was anyone’s game.
All in all, fun, but very long. Next time we have to knock off 1 or 2 rounds. If we do that, we may have to start with a few more items, however, like a marker or two, or an extra delivery.
See you next week.
Aug 24, 2005
I was all set to play two games that are new to my house. One that we did get to play is St Petersburg, which I got through trading GeekGold. The other is Traders of Genoa, borrowed from Gilad, which we didn’t get to play, since Michael and Elijah had to leave early, and I didn’t think three was a good number for a trading game like that. Luckily, we also got Torres back from him last week, which is perfect for three.
First play for everyone, the game is open in front of me and I am reading the rules for the second time trying to explain the game to myself and to David when Michael and Elijah walk in.
Everything seems simple enough. Each round you alternately offer green cards, blue cards, orange cards, and a mixtures of all three up for sale. Green cards give money during the green phase, blue cards give vp’s during the blue phase, orange cards give either or both during the orange phase, and the mixture are more powerful cards that are used to build on top of your other cards for the difference in price. In addition, orange cards give bonus points at the end of the game.
Seems like a no-brainer to get green cards and then orange ones, so of course I mess it up.
Anyway, play continues until a deck runs out. A few other nifty dynamics during the game, such as taking cards in the hopes of building them later, and how many cards come out each phase, which is determined by how many are left from the previous phase.
David and I really enjoyed it, which surprised me, because I thought I might not, after hearing everyone say how there is only one way to win on the Geek. I guess I’m lucky that I didn’t study those comments too closely so that I can enjoy the game.
Anyhoo, David saved his cash appropriately, while I used mine up too early and ended up doing too much early passing. I only had one aristocrat by the end of the game which hurt. David had 4, and the others had 3 each. The last round of the game is rather wierd where the only thing that will help you is aristocrats, since scoring happens at the wrong times for many of the cards you buy.
Looking forward to playing again.
By Hook or By Crook
Definitely the right number for this game, although it works with four, too. David hated it – blind bidding and rock paper scissors is not his interest at all. It really shouldn’t be mine, also, and to top it off, the game has an annoying repetitive mechanic, but I still don’t mind the game. It is always fun to see three robbers or three detectives and no exhibitions.
I still don’t like the mechanic of the detectives, where the rich get the richest reward. I think we will try it reversed next time.
My Game Prototype #1
E & M had only another twenty minutes before they had to go, so Elijah taught Michael how to play my game prototype. Elijah walked off with an easy victory, I believe.
This game is close often enough, but this was a really close one. It was Gili’s first game so we gave a bit of extra advice during the game. I was ahead 38-25-24 after the first round, but I knew it wouldn’t last. By the end of the second round, David was one step above me in every tower, and Gili was either above or tied. We ended the second round with me still ahead, but barely – 102-98-97.
Unlike most games, however, I saved one of my best cards for last. This is the card that lets you place a block underneath one of your knights. Gili placed the king in a location that had no building opportunites, but I was already there on the second level. I left the card until the last round so as not to tip my hand, and then I jumped onto the third level, going from 12 to 33 in that kingdom. As you can see from the final scores, without that boost I would have been one toasted prince.
Until next week.
Aug 17, 2005
This week was the last week in the Kummer’s house; next week we will be back in our usual spot, my apt. My daughter was having a sleepover, so I went shopping around for other places to host the club but couldn’t find one. We ended up playing in the kitchen for a while, since the girls were watching TV in the living room. The kitchen is teensy. When Hannah and Bracha came, I kicked the girls out, and we played in the LR for a hour until the evening was done.
Bracha and Hannah come to us through Elijah’s mom, somehow. Friend of a friend, or something. Bracha is Hannah’s daughter. They came at the end of the Louis XIV game. Luckily they weren’t scared away. After wrapping up in about 15 minutes, I took out Settlers … but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Played while waiting for other guests. I feel comfortable playing this now, although the game state seems to change so much with each move that I still can’t see forward more than 1 round. Good game, although I wish the first phase didn’t feel so flat.
First time for Gili and Elijah, and actually the first full game for me, too. Also the first four player game played here.
Saarya looked like he was winning for most of the game. I had as many missions, but they were weaker and I had less money and shields. Gili had one less mission, but she was up to 6 or 7 shields by turn 3, so I knew she wasn’t doing too badly. She ended up with 21 shields for a respectable first place. I did slightly better than Saarya in turn 4, so I caught up a bit.
Very good game from Rudiger Dorn.
Settlers of Catan
I’m always happy when a new player wins their first game of Settlers, as it usually means they will be hooked 🙂 . This time we had two new players, so they couldn’t both win. Hannah basically cornered ore; an 8 gave her 3 of them every roll, and she won with 4 cities and Longest Road. I had too many sheep at the beginning, and not enough at the end.
I didn’t do any number tracking, but 8 rolled up a lot, 6 less. 2 rolled 3 times, no 12s. 7 only thrice – nobody ever had to toss. With so little ore, very few developement cards were bought, although I got one early. Unfortunately it was a useless VP.
Both Bracha and Hannah enjoyed the game, and hopefully they will be back next week. Let’s teach ’em Die Macher, heh heh.
While we played Settlers, Saarya played with Elijah while waiting for his pickup to arrive. They each won a game of Gin.
My Game Prototype #1
Saarya didn’t know that my game works for two players. When I told him he took it and played. No other info about the game, sorry.
See you next week back in the house. Rachel will probably want to play Puerto Rico, unless she gets her fill over the weekend. Just to warn you.
Aug 10, 2005
This week’s game was held at Gili’s house, owing to her husband having been called up for army service. Gili thought he would have to be down in Gaza for the whole evacuation, but he showed up during the evening with the happy announcement that he has been let off due to some snafu holdover from last year, so yay. That means Gili can come to the normal location next week, again, although maybe it would be nice to include her husband in the games, which we could only do if we had it at their house.
Elijah came back from America this morning and insisted on coming to game group, even though at odd points during the evening he would fall asleep and then wake up again as if nothing had happened. Also, Saarya had spent the day in town, so he was able to come. Several of the regulars are on vacation.
Gili brought out this game when Saarya showed up early. Gobblet is a little abstract that looks like Quarto. Each player has three “stacks” of four pieces. In each stack, you have a little piece, a piece that completely covers that one, a third that completely covers both of those, and a fourth that covers all three.
The board is 4×4. On your turn, you can move the top piece of one of your stacks to an empty spot on the board, or move one your pieces on the board by lifting it up (possibly uncovering whatever was beneathe it), and gobbling some other piece. The object is to get 4 in a row. You may also gobble a piece from off the board if your opponent has a three in a row threat.
Of course, by revealing a piece while gobbling, you may be giving your opponent 4 in a row. Quarto is a lovely little math puzzle, but I don’t find it that interesting to play since I have never lost and doubt that I ever will. This game looks slightly more complicated – at least you have to remember what is underneath the pieces. But, like Quarto, it doesn’t look like it has long replayability. I will have to play a few times to tell for sure.
By Hook or By Crook
Gili and I enjoyed this last week, so I figured to give it another try this week. Unfortunately, Saarya found it boring, and Elijah did poorly, so he wasn’t happy either. Saarya pulled ahead early, and I was close behind. Eventually Gili passed me and overtook Saarya for a brief moment, but then he ended the game far ahead. Gili got the best set, but even after the eight space bonus was still one space behind Saarya at the end.
Most of my Amun Re games have been low bidding games, with water levels at 1 or 2. A few games, including some recent ones, were at 3 a lot. This one had two rounds of 3, followed by 4 rounds of 4. In round 5, the total spent on water was 42 gold.
With so much harvest, it was the richest game I ever played. I got 62 gold from harvest just in round 3. The -3 card was never played.
I started off with my most recent strategy of building few pyramids in the first era and concentrating on harvests. But I also got extraordinary lucky with the cards. I used a +1 harvest bonus 5 rounds, and a +1 brick 6 rounds. That is unlike any other game I have played. Which goes to show that the luck of the cards is still too much of a determining factor in the game. Anyhow, Saarya was still pretty close behind, earning 52 in round 3. At the end of the first era, Elijah was at 18, I was at 15, Saarya was at 12, and Gili at 10.
But I still had the most money and the best cards. At this point, I bought all of the best provincesm and there was little that they could do to stop me, although I had to bid to 36 in round 6 to get the province I wanted. I ended with 4 sets of pyramids, and a fifth on one side for best on that side of the river. Saarya took the other side. Gili stuck it out, even though she was far behind, and unable to catch up without enough money.
Next week back at the Kummers (or Gili’s), and the week after that back in my house. Looks like we will get to keep playing through the whole summer, after all. Yay!
Aug 3, 2005
This week is Nadine’s last time for a month. Gili is also out for the next month, unless we move to her house, which is possible. Small group, but not a small amount of fun.
My brother finally came back to Israel with a few games: The PR expansion (not strictly necessary, since I just use paper bits, but there you go), By Hook or By Crook (Adel Verplicht), Beyond Balderdash, and Empire Builder. I got most of these for GeekGold or $5 or less. Not bad deals. On the other hand, I didn’t really need the PR expansion; I don’t know when I will get to play BB, since it is not a strategy game for the club, and it uses writing, so is not a game for shabbat; Empire Builder is long, and likely to only interest David and Avraham Klein. BHoBC looked the most promising.
My Game Prototype #1
Michael had never played, and Nadine had never won, so we rectified these two problems. Nadine’s theory was that she never wins the same game twice in a row, and that she can’t win two games in one evening. I’ve got the historical data, so go look through it and see if she’s right.
We were waiting for Gili, who said she was coming late, so we played another “filler” game. This one was very close. Nadine dropped a first turn Coffee and I had nothing to say to that, so I waited until second turn to drop a Silver. She had Library and Carpenter working midgame, which let her drop lots of 3 cost buildings for free. Meanwhile, I was making good trading money. I hate to admit it, but I’m actually starting to have a grudging respect for Sugar; when you don’t have Tobacco, and you otherwise have trade pumpers, it is worth having.
Buildings built, in order:
Nadine: Coffee, Carpenter, Trading Post, Library, Aqueduct, Tobacco, Victory Column, Prefecture, Well, Guild Hall, Hero.
Jon: Silver, Aqueduct, Sugar, Market Hall, Prefecture, Victory Column, City Hall, Palace, Tobacco, Carpenter.
Michael: Coffee, Black Market, Chapel+++++++, Market Stand, Smithy, Tobacco, Tobacco, Guild Hall, Indigo.
Settlers of Catan
Yet one more waiting game. In this one, Nadine bought about seven developement cards, ending up with Largest Army and 3 VP cards. Meanwhile, my devel cards were not as useful; at one point, I threw in a Year of Plenty and an ore just to get another one, which is about as wasteful as you can get. I was close to Largest Army, but Nadine got it first. Michael also took Longest Road before I could get to it.
Which just goes to show you about Nadine’s theory.
By Hook or By Crook
Reading the rules while trying to set up and play. The rules are easy enough that I don’t think we made too many mistakes.
First impression: better than For Sale. Which doesn’t say much, but the game relies heavily on blind bidding, and it works ok. Even though the mechanisms are all blind, they are not really bidding. The first “bid”, choosing which activity to take part in, isn’t bidding at all, but if you are lucky enough to be the only one doing it, you can make a clean sweep (usually). The second bidding is rock/paper/scissors, but, like Knizia games, different things are differently valued to each person at different times.
Second impression: repetitive. It’s not that the bidding is so much repetitive – as you run out of certain cards, and as your hand changes, you feel like you are playing from different positions, so that is not repeptitive. But the physical mechanics of picking cards and placing them face down – that is repetitive. It would have been nicer to find some way to do this with a few less rounds, and a few more mechanics.
Third impression: fun. We went back and forth about whether this was really a strategic game or just all about the luck, and I think we feel it is a strange mixture of both. Luck, of course, but there are different paths to choose, and times when you feel like you definitiely have a better position. And fun – it is fun watching three people play thieves in one round, resulting in a big zero gain for all involved. We looked forward to playing it again. Of course, one has to wonder how many times one can actually enjoy a game like this before it is played out. We’ll find out.
I ended up with the best collection by stealing it close to the end of the game. I ended up tied on the same spot as Michael, winning by virtue of the tie going to best collection. Gili had had the best collection for most of the game.
Gili has been playing on BSW, and losing, and was hoping to make a better showing here. After the game, we pointed out a few plays she could have done differently.
We played with Guest House, Trading Post, Small Wharf, and Library. The rest were original.
|1||Gili||Builder||Gili builds Large Indigo. Nadine builds Sm Indigo. Jon builds Sm Market. After the game, I told Gili that I thought this was a mistake, since it put her back in cash for no real benefit.|
|Nadine||Settler||Nadine takes quarry. Jon takes corn (only one). Gili takes indigo.|
|2||Nadine||Mayor||This activated their indigos, but left me a double cash phase next round.|
|Gili||Settler+||Gili takes quarry. Nadine takes coffee. Jon takes sugar. I don’t actually get to trade sugar during the game, but I do lock a sugar boat with a monopoly.|
|Nadine||Trader||Nadine trades indigo, Jon trades corn.|
|4||Gili||Builder++||Gili builds Trading Post. Nadine builds Sm Market. Jon builds Sm Sugar.|
|Jon||Captain+||I’m ahead in shipping, and that’s how I keep it.|
|5||Nadine||Settler+||I take Tobacco.|
|Jon||Craftsman+||I have sugar …|
|Gili||Captain||But Gili, wisely, makes me ship it.|
|6||Jon||Builder+||Jon builds Factory. Nadine builds Coffee. Gili builds Sm Indigo. Factory may not have been my best move, as I only produced 3 goods for most of the game. But it tuned out OK. The cash it gave me was enough to buy the one big building I needed. Large Market might have been better, but I didn’t trade much.|
|7||Gili||Craftsman+||This just about kills me, but I had resolved not to give advice midgame. Nadine trades coffee hand over fist this game. Without my 4 corns and a tobacco monopoly, I would have been in serious trouble.|
|Nadine||Captain+||Forcing my sugar onto a boat, yet still able to trade her coffee next time.|
|9||Jon||Builder++||Jon builds Tobacco. Nadine builds Trading Post.|
|Gili||Craftsman+||Nadine gets more coffee.|
|Nadine||Mayor||Nadine mans her Trading Post.|
|Nadine||Trader+||Nadine trades more coffee.|
|Jon||Settler++||I have 4 corns, now. The only other plantations were coffee, and Nadine already had two, so she passed.|
|Gili||Builder+||Nadine builds Guild Hall. Jon builds Custom’s House.|
|12||Jon||Captain+||I am racking in several victory points more than anyone else with each shipment, which is making up for Nadine’s flush cash.|
|Nadine||Builder||Nadine builds City Hall.|
|Nadine||Craftsman+||To get coffee to trade? ship?|
|Jon||Captain||I don’t think Nadine realized just how much I was shipping.|
|15||Jon||Captain+||This was a very hard choice. There were two big buildings left. If I take Builder, which has two GP on it, I can build a second big building, and Nadine will build her third. If I pass it, Gili and Nadine build them. But if I don’t captain, I lose out on four corn shipped, PLUS Nadine will ship some coffee, PLUS, the boats won’t empty, so there will be yet another round where I can’t ship. My Custom’s House adds icing to my decision to ship. The choise was roughly: Nadine gets 1 shipping and 14 building/Jon gets 14 shipping and 5 building VS Nadine gets 8 shipping and 14 building/Jon gets 3 or 4 shipping and 12 building.|
|Gili||Builder++||Gili builds Fortress. Nadine builds Residence. I also toyed with buying Wharf versus buying Coffee and Indigo buildings, but I figured Coffee and Indigo was more sure.|
|Nadine||Builder||Nadine fills her 11th slot.|
|Jon||Craftsman+||This presents a problem for Nadine. If she builds next time, ending the game, I will get to ship, locking her out. If she captains, she ships more and forces me to dump, but the game doesn’t end.|
|17||Nadine||Captain+||It would have been better had she built, since after she captains, I just craftsman again, anyway. Dumping barrels doesn’t bother me at all.|
|Gili||Mayor||Feeding the Fortress.|
|Nadine||Builder||18 rounds is a very long game, and good for the shippers.|
Jul 27, 2005
Nadine will be coming for one more week, and then she is away for a month. Zeke is away for at least a month after this session. And David K will not be able to come except on his usual once in three weeks schedule. Yeeks! Rough times ahead for the JSGC.
Next week, we will probably be at the Kummer’s house, around the corner from here. Call me for directions.
My Game Prototype #1
Jon+, Tal, David K
I am starting to feel a little proud of this. I am going on something like my 60th game of this and I am not getting tired of it at all. In fact, the last several games have all been new discoveries, yet I still don’t have a full grasp on the “right” strategies. It feels Knizia-like. If only I could settle on the right theme for it.
Tal did an amazing play in the first game, mostly by accident, that won her the game, to our astonishment. In the second game I pulled in most of my set fairly quickly, and then had a reasonably easy victory.
It’s not that I don’t like the game, it’s just that I don’t particularly like the game. I happen to like blind bidding in some games. This one leaves me uninterested. What can I say? It is so slight, and the luck so noticable.
David took the 30 house, while I got the 29, and then we crashed and wasted them in the second half of the game. Zeke won, and (consequently) he enjoyed it.
Zeke lost this one from early on, and (consequently) he hated it. I also pretty much lost it early on, with no commodities the whole game, and not enough connections to make up for it. The best I could do was a few five point connections. Somehow, when Daniel plays, he manages ten or eleven point connections.
In the meantime, Nadine and David were both reaping the commodities. David started out with a nice lead, but Nadine ended up with more, and more focussed, commodities, which eventually gave her the lead. In the last round, all she had to do was withdraw at first opportunity to get the +4 bonus to keep the lead, which is what she did.
In round 3, Zeke and Nadine fought a large battle, which Zeke lost and never recovered from. David and I fought a battle in round 4, but we eventually split it 2 to 2. In round 6, we had an all out war all around, whichwe all survived, except Zeke.
|Round 4||Round 8||Final|
Starfarers of Catan
Zeke didn’t like Taj Mahal, so we let him pick the next game. SFoC was not the best choice perhaps, since it was already 9:30, but we gave it a go, ending at midnight.
I had a lead from about midgame, despite never once rolling anything but an encounter. Eventually David K caught up, and frankly, I was getting bored and tired, so was happy enough for either one of us to win.
3, 4, and 10, didn’t roll the whole game, until we finally got a 4 and a 10 just about end-game. I once again had a brilliant 2 strategy going, but both of the 2’s were rolled before I could get it going, so there’s where my mistake was.
Statistics, for thems that care:
Jul 20, 2005
Summer is definitely here when attendance gets low. Rachel is off to Canada for a month. However, we welcome back Yitzchak who recently married, even though he could only stay until exactly 9:15 and asked us all to hurry our moves during Amun Re.
My Game Portotype #1
This game gets more tense with four players as the game nears its end. I started off strong and finished with Daniel and Nadine close behind.
While I’m waiting for someone to want to publish it, I’m happy to send people the rules under certain conditions (like, not publishing it without arranging it with me) if you want to play.
I think we play Amun Re so often not because any one of us likes it best, but because all of us don’t mind it, unlike other games, each of which some of us love and some of us don’t like at all.
A tight game, and a good showing for Tal in her first game. Pyramids were lightly built in the first half, except for Baharya that had four in it. Unlike last game, where bribery to the corrupt water minister never reached over 2, this time it was at 3 most of the game, and would have hit 4 in the last round if Daniel hadn’t played a shift 3 card.
I seemed to be one coin away from shifting the bids under the bidding line when I needed it. And in the first round, I bid 4 hoping for at least second place, but Tal and Daniel bid exactly 5, and Nadine and Yitzchak bid -3.
Tal and Nadine took one side of the Nile in the first half, with Yitz taking the other. In the second half, I bid 21 with a blockade for the 4 pyramid province and kept it the biggest on my side of the Nile, while Daniel took the other side. He ended with three complete sets of pyramids.
Yitzchak managed to end with the most overall points from all directions, however.
|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Score||Round 4||Round 5||Round 6||Score|
|Daniel||Thebes 6||Mendes 0||Memphis 6||7||Mendes 0||Dakhla 21||Avaris 3||+25=32|
|Yitzchak||Avaris 0||Kharga 3||Damenhur 6||21||Abydos 10||Thebes 1||Damenhur 10||+28=49|
|Jon||Abydos 3||Amarna 0||Edfu 0||15||Berenike 3||Sawu 3||Baharya 21||+26=41|
|Nadine||Dakhla 1||Berenike 0||Sawu 0||10||Edfu 3||Abu 0||Kharga 0||+21=31|
|Tal||Baharya 3||Abu 3||Buto 0||9||Amarna 1||Buto 3||Memphis 21||+19=28|
Settlers of Catan
In case anyone wondered if I follow my own ethical advice perfectly, the answer is “no”, as I started out giving advice to Tal as to where to go, when she must have played the game just as many times as I have. Nadine called me on it.
In fact, Tal was at 9 points at one point while the rest of us had no more than 7.
Nadine started on the ore harbor, with 8/4/11 ore. Tal on the wheat harbor, with 10 wheat, although the only wheat in the game was 10/10/3/2. This may lead you to believe that wheat was less common than other resources. Ha, I say. Ha ha.
Daniel started on a sheep harbor, cutting it off from me as well as any chance I could have had for an ore. Actually, there was one more chance later, but he built a road, and before I could respond the robber hit me, and he then built another road, cutting off all access to the other half of the board.
I started without ore, of course, and built two quick settlements, which made me a quick and persistant target for the rest of the game, while Nadine had hidden victory points, Tal had Longest Road, and Daniel kind of stalled after blocking me off.
Meanwhile I surrounded the 2 hex (to get the wood harbor) and proclaimed the secret and dangerous “2” strategy was going to make me win. I said this so often, Daniel eventually started putting the robber on the 2 just hoping that someone would roll it, although noone ever did. 2 wasn’t rolled once, man! I was robbed of victory, man!
Statistics for those who care:
Four 12’s and no 2’s. I was robbed!
Jul 13, 2005
As a pleasant surprise, David came outside of his regular schedule. And Saarya, whom I thought was staying with his mom, came over in mid-session. We ended pretty late, so this will be another quick report.
A first game and a win for Daniel.
Puerto Rico + expansions
I set this game up when I thought we only had David K and Nadine coming over. I had replaced every single building with expansion buildings, including many we don’t often play with.
Somehow I ended up playing this with Zeke and Gili, both of whom had only played once before on the regular set. This was kind of unfair to them.
This game was made even more chaotic by constand interruptions: phone calls, visitors, Rachel trying to send some emails on the computer, etc. A difficult situation. And Zeke took a long time to figure out what he wanted to do each round.
Just one note on two interesting buildings which made a fine combination: Forest House, which I changed to give you a -1 building cost for each odd numbered Forest (1, 3, 5, …). And Beachfront, cost 6, vp 2, which gives you a wharf that can ship as many goods as the number of Forests that you have.
Nadine 62, David K 57, Rachel 53
Played later in the evening, this game was played with about half expansion buildings.
My Game Prototype #1
Zeke played wildly, and should have lost by rights, but I played really poorly, giving him everything he needed to win.
Settlers of Catan
I won with 4 cities and two VP cards. Saarya’s main power was on 8 and 10, mine on 6, 9, and 10, Gili’s on 8 and 5. I was on the wheat harbor with good wheat and sheep. In the meantime, both Zeke and Saarya were each reaping two bricks and a wood each time an 8 was rolled.
Statistics, for those who care:
|Roll||Number of Times|
I heard some excitement, but a little less than after the first few plays. Since I have only played 1/2 a time, I am still looking forward to playing again.
Daniel 32, Zeke 32, Gili 38, Saarya 43
Daniel 11, Gili 14, Jon 35, Saarya 43, Zeke 50
Gili 20, Saarya 28, Zeke 36, Jon 40, Daniel 44
Filler games for when you have only so much time. Daniel won with a lot of 30/31/32 pulls. I had teen cards, but Zeke took the middle cards which hurt me.
First game for Gili. Daniel played a quick-drop strategy, which I beat with huge trading advantage. Saarya couldn’t get going, and we are all kind of puzzled as to why.
Saarya: Indigo, Carpenter, Library, Indigo, Coffee, Tobacco, City Hall, Quarry, Statue, Silver.
Daniel: Indigo, Carpenter, Smithy, Archive, Poor House (overbuilt), Black Market, Chapel+++++++, Sugar (overbuilt), Tobacco, Crane, Indigo, Aqueduct (overbuilt), Statue, Guild Hall.
Gili: Indigo, Gold Mine+++, Smithy, Sugar, Tobacco, Chapel+++++++, Silver, Palace, Trading Post, Aqueduct
Jon: Indigo, Gold Mine++, Silver, Trading Post, Market Stand, Victory Column, Prefecture, Market Hall, Hero, Black Market, Tower
Jul 06, 2005
Summer is upon us, and attendance is low. Hopefully we will continue throughout the summer. Last summer there was at least one week with no attendees. So I appreciate those who came, as well as the yummy cake they brought.
My Game Prototype #1
Ben+, Gili, Jon, Saarya
Since I didn’t know if anyone else was coming, I coerced everyone into playing my game again as a filler. One quick game later, and Gili and Ben were happy to play again. Saarya didn’t want to play, since he usually gets hit with the hazard cards, and he got hit with three out of four of them during the game he played.
First play for Gili, second (?) for Ben. I really thought that Saarya was far ahead of me, but I won with most money at game end when Saarya had last place in money. I am a terrible money manager, and am usually money shy, but Ben was even worse off. Saarya meanwhile seemed to be ahead in both pyramids and money, but had no power card in the end, where I had one. He also spent almost no money bidding on his provinces. Gili produced three power cards at the end of the game.
|Jon||Dakhla 6||Abydos 3||Edfu 6||16||Damanhar 0||Avaris 0||Sawu 0||41|
|Ben||Damanhar 6||Thebes 3||Sawu 1||8||Dakhla 0||Thebes 6||Abu 1||33|
|Saarya||Mendes 0||Berenike 0||Abu 0||15||Berenike 0||Amarna 6||Mendes 3||40|
|Gili||Baharya 6||Buto 0||Amarna 1||6||Abydos 0||Baharya 6||Kharga 0||27|