March 14, 2007

Participants: Jon, David K, Nadine, Ben, Binyamin, Adam, Elijah, Zack

Binyamin returns after being absent for a few weeks.

San Juan

Jon 47, David 38

I picked up David on the way home from work so we had a few extra minutes to play before the others arrived. David asked to play this.

I started with Builder/Tobacco, while David played Prefecture. While Prefecture is a great building, he made the mistake that most Prefecture players make which is taking Counselor at every opportunity, leaving me Builder or Prospector every round.

Despite his counseling, I still managed to get a Library out a few rounds before he did. By mid-game, I was essentially up a building. He also dropped a bunch of utility buildings mid-to-end game on his City Hall, while I was dropping Silvers on my Guild Hall. My Palace sealed it.

Cosmic Encounter

Ben+ (Obverse, Industrialist, Pacifist), Binyamin (Berserker, Virus, Zombie), Elijah (Symbiote, Sniveler, Worm), Adam (Amoeba, Vampire, Clone)

If I say that a lot of weirdness happened in this game, it won’t surprise you, because it’s Cosmic, after all.

The first problem was the large amount of time they spent deciding how the play would work, lobbying for and against Lucre, comets, moons, etc. In the end, Ben won this battle. To balance this, they ended up each playing three powers each, where two powers were active at any one time, and the third rotated in if you won a challenge.

Unfortunately for Ben, his “out” power was Pacifist, his in powers were Industrialist and Obverse, and his hand consisted of three Compromises, a 0, and a 6. Despite this, he managed to win the game. Apparently, he used Wild Trader to gain his fifth base, and then, as he was under attack, he used Wild Antimatter to essentially end the challenge.

But the weirdest part of the evening was reserved for Elijah and his Symbiote. The Symbiote is the power that gives you twenty additional pieces, which count for all purposes, but not for establishing foreign bases for the win.

The first problem was when Elijah played the Wild Schizoid. I ruled that the hexes change, but the Symbiote pieces still remain Elijahs where they now reside. This immediately gave him five foreign bases, although none of them counted towards the win. I considered a number of other possible rulings, but none of them seemed to work.

This resulted in all other players immediately ganging up on Elijah, so that he couldn’t get the opportunity he needed to simply rearrange his pieces onto those foreign bases and immediately win.

The next problem was when Elijah lost his power and Binyamin played Wild Crystal, which lets him rearrange all tokens in a system. The problem is that the Symbiote power is written poorly. It says that the tokens may not be moved if you lose your power. This would seem to imply that even if others try to move or destroy the tokens or the planet, these tokens cannot be sent to the warp. I found this to be ridiculous, and I ruled that they cannot be moved “by you”.

Power Grid

David 18, Jon 17, Nadine 16, Zack 15

We played on northern Germany.

In this game, we were truly at the mercy of the luck of the power plant flips, which made me wonder that there couldn’t be a better power plant system. The only other alternative I can think of simply makes you vulnerable to the decision of whatever the guy before you does, which is no better.

This kind of swings the game too much, in my opinion.

The remainder of the game is still enjoyable, if you like this sort of thing. In the last few games that these guys played, the fuel was constantly running out. Therefore, they were in the habit of always buying as much as they can, which, of course, meant that the fuel kept running out.

On my first turn, I got the hybrid plant, and I bought only a single piece of fuel. I figured, both oil and coal weren’t going to run out so quickly, so I’ll just buy whatever is cheapest next time.

Owing to my decision, and my gentle persuasion, I convinced most of the other players to do the same. As a result, fuel prices all stayed very low the whole game, with coal and oil in the 1’s for much of the game.

David found himself cornered at the beginning of the game. It looked near the end that I was going to win it, but with some collective help, we found the cities that David needed to build to eke out the victory in the last round.

Tichu

Adam/Elijah 495, David/Zack 205

They played 6 hands. They were neck and neck until the last hand, when Adam pulled off a Tichu and then Elijah went out, giving them a 300 point boost.

Bridge

Ben 1990, Jon 1810, Nadine 1610, Binyamin 850

We played with the following rules:

– 12 hands, switch partners after 4 hands.
– Each 4 hand round is No Vul, Dealer Vul, Dealer Vul, All Vul.
– Scoring is duplicate standard, assigned to each player in the pair.

My first partnership was with Nadine. We made a partial and set Ben 2 tricks in a slam they shouldn’t have been in.

I then played with Binyamin. We made a game, but I went down in a game that I could have made with a whole lot of luck and cross-ruffing. Instead I tried a finesse which didn’t work, combined with a 3-1 trump split.

In the last set, I played with Ben. At this point Ben was behind Nadine and needed a good 300 points or so to beat her. Neither Binyamin nor I could win, but that’s not what Bridge is about, anyway.

Unfortunately for Ben, Binyamin began by making 4+1 in clubs, and then setting us 2 tricks in a some game. Ben was now down 600 or so points.

I bid and made a game. It was one of those hands where I had exactly matching distribution and I was missing three aces, and there was nothing to be done one way or another. Makes 4 all day.

This put us still back 200 points, which meant that we still needed a game (or to take them down many tricks) to win. With one hand remaining, Ben decided to go for broke bidding 3 NT when I had 6 clubs and 4 diamonds, and neither of us had bid the majors.

They had 5 tricks off the top if they would have played them, but it was hard for them to see it. Instead, Binyamin led a diamond into my ace-king. Ben had exactly 8 tricks, managed to steal a ninth, and simply gave them the rest. That moved me into second place.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Elijah++, Zack

Elijah won two games, first playing White and then Black.

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