January 10, 2007

Participants: Jon, Ben, David K, Shevi, Nadine, Gili, Adam, Zack, Binyamin, Eyal

Eyal returned for his second visit. With Zack barely speaking Hebrew, and Eyal speaking English, but much more comfortable in Hebrew, games are our meeting point.

And with only ten people, it’s amazing how many games can hit the table
on a single game evening.

Feurio

Binyamin, Jon, Nadine

Binyamin came to me and asked me to see if I could find anything resembling tactics or strategy is this game that seems to get a lot of high praise on BGG. Knowing only that he doesn’t see any, I gamely sat down and gave it a looksee.

The game consists of hexes numbered 1 through 6. Each turn, you flip over a tile and must place it at any location that has the highest numbered surrounding hexes. So where you can place the tiles is very limited, and sometimes give no choice at all.

Then you choose to put some of your meeples onto any one piece on the board that still has available space. Since you have a limited (but not very) number of meeples, you have to decided where to put them. Also, you may only put onto a hex the maximum of a) 2/2 the number on the hex, rounded up, or b) the number of free edges the hex has remaining. If a hex becomes surrounded, it does not lose the meeples it has already acquired.

That’s it. At the end of the game, you score the numbers on the tiles under each of your herds divided by the number of the lowest tile that is not entirely surrounded by other hexes.

While this all sounds good on paper, I was forced to agree less than five turns into the game that Binyamin is entirely correct. While not entirely free of any tactics altogether (although entirely free of strategy), the barest amount that you have under your control is so pitiful, and your moves so forced, and the results so luck-dependent, that I literally stopped caring by the last third of the game, and couldn’t even be bothered to count, let alone record, the scores.

It’s just dull, and what decisions there are are effectively meaningless. The possibility that one could actually block your opponent, as opposed to simply taking the maximum score on each play, is a non-starter, and if it occurs was also beyond your control.

The only thing nice I have to say about the game is as follows: it’s quick and easy to learn. The mechanic of how the hexes spread is a neat mechanic and fits the theme (fire spreading), but entirely doesn’t work in this game.

San Juan

David, Shevi

Shevi has decided opinions about games. These two came and tried to get in a filler game, but abandoned it after a few rounds, because two others had also shown up, and because Shevi didn’t like the game.

Santiago

Zack 94, David 91, Eyal 79, Shevi 70

Instead they played this excellent game. The rules are almost as simple as Fuerio, but boy is there a difference in game play!

Wildlife

Nadine 100, Gili 89, Adam 87, Binaymin 73

I sat down to start this game again, eager for another play, and this time with the correct rules (about herds). Halfway through the explanation Adam appeared, so we included him. After the explanation, Ben appeared, and I refused to turn it into a six player game, so I abandoned it to play with Ben.

In general, people liked the game, except Binyamin. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Nadine had a mammoth herd on the board and was on her way to winning near the end of the game when Adam and Gili decided to spend upwards of 45 minutes taking a single turn in an attempt to find a way to break it up.

This resulted in Nadine getting rather bored, and Binyamin getting rather frustrated, and I can’t say that I blame them. All in all, this extended the game to around 4 hours. For 4 players. Ouch.

Caylus

Jon/David+, Ben

So I sat down to play 2-player Caylus with Ben who had only played it once before and 3-player at that. We got going, and then David popped over from finishing his Santiago game, sad that he had wanted to play it. Since I wasn’t really into it anyway, I got up, yet again, and let David take over for me.

This was David’s first play with 2-players.

Princes of Florence

Zack 60, Jon 59, Shevi 52, Eyal 43

Instead, I got to teach three first-time player the joys of PoF. Luckily, Eyal could understand enough of my English to play the game. Shevi was initially fearful, but began to get into it. Zack and Eyal liked it already by the end of the first round.

The only real strategy tips I give is the approximate values for the auction items in the first few rounds, especially warning about the Jesters and Recruiters (the latter less so in a 4-player game). Zack took the first two Jesters for 1200 and 1300, while I took the next three or so for more reasonable prices.

Shevi took Builder in the first two turns for 900 and 1000, which I thought was rather excessive. Other than that, most other items went for fairly cheap, and several times several players took items for the minimum price of 200.

I had no real luck with my cards, but still played a fairly solid game, which seemed to be pretty good. Zack’s win in the end was simply for having the 3 point bonus for best work as well as buying a Prestige card on the last turn for a full 8 points.

Settlers of Catan

Eyal 10, Zack 8, Jon 5

Shevi left, and I wanted a filler game for three. Since Eyal and Zack had played Settlers even prior to joining my club, this was one of the few games that we could get into and play through quickly. I started on reasonable places, including the only worthwhile brick hex, the 8, where the others were on 2 and 3.

The other players had more city starts, with high ore and wheat. That wouldn’t have bothered me, as I shared their wheat and ore hexes as well. But wouldn’t you know? 8 never rolled up except when the robber was on it – and I mean not once the entire game – whereas 3 rolled up at least half a dozen times in the first twenty rounds or so. Eyal even traded 4 bricks for something at one point.

I sulkily decided that my goal was simply to get to five points before the game ended, which I actually managed to do, with one round to spare.

Tichu

Adam/Jon 65, Nadine/Zack 35

There was discussion over whether to play Bridge or Tichu, and our population had difficulty figuring out how to do this.

We played one hand of Tichu here with no Tichu being called. While this game was going on, I simultaneously played Lost Cities with Binyamin.

David/Jon 50, Adam/Zack 150

And then I simultaneously played Tichu while playing Bridge. We played two hands here, and even though David and I “won” the last hand, we netted 0 points from the tricks.

Lost Cities

Jon 100 something, Binyamin 30 something

Known on BGG as the best two-player game or as the best game to play with your non-gaming spouse, I have to completely disagree with the former while reserving some judgment on the latter. As a gamer, this game is simply brainless. Oh, it’s much better than Feurio, as the decisions you make are actually meaningful and the game includes both tactics and strategies. But they are not that deep, and can easily be absorbed by the end of the first game.

As a result, I was easily able to play this simultaneously with Tichu, win to boot, and not particularly care anyway.

Bridge

Ben/Beinyamin 400, Jon/Nadine 0

Ben and Bin made two games while Nadine and I went down in one. Bridge is still The card game, and Tichu is Bridge-lite – very lite. As light as can be an simple be a complex and interesting game. Well, maybe Team Hearts is even lighter, but no lighter than that.

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