January 17, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Shevi, Josh, Idit, Jeremy, Adam, Gili, Binyamin, Zack, Rachel

Another week of almost-RPG, pushed off once again until next week.

The Menorah Game

Nadine+, Jon

David+, Shevi, Nadine, Jon, Zack, Binyamin

I wanted to try out a variation on the tile distribution that was designed to accommodate between two to six players. Each additional player adds a set of tiles, thus keeping the relative number of tiles available per person about equal.

For two players, the number of tiles was slightly less than usual, but the impact on the game was extremely minimal. For six players I added most of the tiles from another set. With six players, like with so many other games that accommodate up to six players, the game bogged down considerably.

With six players, there was a tremendous amount of auctioning, so it’s not like you were bored. And the auctions went quickly. In fact, as far as bogginess, I would rate this game better than other games with six players, such as Power Grid or Wildlife. But other games with six, suchas Geschenkt or Havoc would beat it.

As a result, most of us were bored with the six player variant and we decided that three or four is still best.

In both cases we played the advanced version of the game, which was the first time for the advanced version for some of the players, such as David and Nadine. Remarkably, both Nadine and David didn’t like the advanced version compared to the basic version, and David said the advanced version was decidedly more lucky!

This is in contrast to some of the other people their, such as Binyamin and Shevi, who both much prefer the advanced version to the basic version, and consider the basic version too lucky. So it was a fifty-fifty split.


Josh+, Idit

I quickly rattled off the rules to these two who played while we were playing TMG. Josh won, but declared Idit to be a great blocker.

Children of Fire: the Board Game

Adam (Anakim) 12, Binyamin (Sorcerors) 10, Shevi (Children of Dark)
9, Jeremy (Watchers) 6

The same complaint from the last two plays reared its ugly head again, which is that the game is not guaranteed to terminate. When you get to the last undecided character, if the balance is equal, the game can just keep going back and forth.

This was particularly aggravating to Binyamin, whose cards were the least numerically, and therefore the worst at picking up points with the masses as everyone else did at the end of the game.

It is a general consensus that the game can be fixed with a rigorous number of turns limit, such as twenty or so. One person suggested that masses tokens become more difficult to buy as the game goes on.


Zack 43, Idit 40, Nadine 35, Josh 25

This was a first play for all but Nadine. I assume that everyone liked it, although I have no further information about the play.


David+, Jon, Gili

David and I almost started Netrunner, but Gili came along so we joined her into a game of Caylus, which was one person more than I really like to play the game.

Well, to be honest, it’s three people more, as each time I play it it goes down another notch. I was particularly bored this game, and not simply because it looked like David had a relatively early lead, but because I really didn’t care to calculate the results of my actions so much. These two facts are rather related, I suspect.

I don’t know why. I’m happy to calculate breadth games such as Magic, or depth games such as Go, but Caylus, which has so much of both, just leaves me bored.

David managed to thwart my building plans a lot, and then managed to shoot to four green buildings while Gili and I had only one, although I acquired a second. Due to my refusal to do any calculations, I ended up only converting one to a blue building (the 25 pointer). I was still about 25 points behind David, and Gili was also about that behind me.

I was happy to see the game end.


David (runner), Jon (corp)

And both of us were very happy to get back into another game of this. This time we made it about halfway through the game in about one and a half hours. By the end, we were still looking up tons of rules, but having a blast doing so.

Netrunner, like Magic, is a rich game with complex rules. Having followed Magic, one gets the sense that they built on Magic’s successes, tried to avoid some of the problems, and added a whole lot more. As a matter of fact, Netrunner and CCGs in general have more in common with the previous generation’s war games and RPGs than they do with modern Euro games. They sit in this lovely place in between, where the rules are deep, expansive, and complex, but the resulting game is easy and
compact, and quick to play.

Last time David took the corp and I had the runner, and this time we reversed. I had managed to cash in two agenda worth four agenda points, while David had built up a veritable army of programs and hardware, but had yet to liberate any agendas.

The next time we play will go smoother, and we may even finish the game. Only thereafter will we start to think about deck construction with our limited supply of cards. I suspect I will need to acquire more in order to give us some deck-building options.

Magic: the Gathering

Adam+, Binyamin

Although they had some play experience, neither had deck-building experience, and they had to get some tips from us as to how to pull something playable together. Then I had to field a lot of questions during the game as to how and/or why to use certain cards.

Still, they both seemed to enjoy themselves.

Puerto Rico

Zack 58, Nadine 50, Rachel 41

Zack does seem to have a genius for winning his first games, much like Elijah used to have. This was his first play of Puerto Rico, so he got a lot of assistance during the game.


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