April 25, 2007

Participants: Jon, Zack, Elijah, Nadine, David K, Binyamin, Gili, Adam, Josh, Idit

This week we had to say goodbye to Josh and Idit, on their way to Boston for the next few years. Boston game players, do find them a home. Thanks.

David brought back Apples to Apples Jewish edition, which he said worked as well as the regular edition, and he would choose if he had to choose between them.

Vulkan

Jon, Zack, Elijah, Nadine

Vulkan is a game played using the components from Feurio, a game that I really didn’t like. In fact, my review was so negative, that the author of the game, Heinrich Glumpler, wrote to me and asked me to try this game instead. All you need is Feurio and the rules to Vulkan, the latter of which is available as a free download.

In Vulkan, all the tiles are laid out in any sort of shape (a Settlers of Catan configuration seems about right, but you can just start playing at the end of a game of Feurio). One tile is turned over to be the volcano.

On your turn, you “fly” over the fire, dropping water. In other words, you place yuor pieces on all tiles in a straight line. You can’t fly over the volcano.

Any hexes that are now filled are scored. The person with the majority in the hex scores the hex; in the case of a tie, the current player scores it, even if he or she is not involve in the tie.

These hexes are removed from the board. If this creates any isolated ares no longer connected to the volcano, these hexes are also scored, and empty ones collected by the current player.

If you run out of pieces, you can no longer take a turn. The game ends when all players have run out of pieces.

The biggest change in this game from Feurio is that there is no luck. This makes the game a simple abstract puzzle, which takes no more than 5 to 10 minutes to play. The decisions are clear and meaningful. It was fun – or at least would have been if I wasn’t still reading the rules while we were playing. In any case, it is light-years better than Feurio.

You simply analyze the board, make your move, and hope your LHO doesn’t give his LHO the game, like in so many other turn based abstract games. I doubt the game will survive dozens of replays with the same opponent, but it is a nice filler for a few games, at least.

Zack won, but most of our turns were helping each other with the moves.

Caylus

Nadine 91, David 90, Zack 65

David still suggests this game whenever he comes. Zack also still likes it, but this time Nadine appeared to get bored of it. She complained that the game was too balanced; i.e. no matter what you did to get ahead, the players in back would regain again.

For myself, I have a problem with games where there are so many paths to victory that it simply doesn’t matter which one you choose, since everyone will end at around the same number of points anyway (*cough* Goa *cough*). I think this is what she was getting at.

I heard the usual mutters of complaining about past mistakes. Zack ended the game before David was ready for it, apparently, by building six castle spaces in a single round, which filled it up. 

[Actually, what caught me unprepared is that he used 3 gold cubies in order to build the sixth 
space in the castle. I had also made sure that I would go first on the next round… – David]

Die Macher

Jon, Binyamin, Gili, Adam

Us veteran members of the Die Macher club were convinced that given a four hour game night that we could finish a game of this. We had learned the rules on Games Day.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as we only made it through three rounds, yet again. This time, however, Gili and I painstakingly wrote down every single state of the game, so that next time we bring it out we can start from round four.

By the third round, Binyamin was getting bored with the game, saying that the grand complexity gave one the illusion of more control than you actually have. Sounds like politics to me.

Our provinces have been pretty low scoring ones. Gili had a large lead in the national polls for a while, but Binyamin just refused a campaign contribution and went up twelve points. I’ve co-won two out of three elections so far. I have no hope in the next one, but a strong chance for the fifth. Binyamin also has two co-wins so far, and Gili and Adam each have one. Adam has been having financial problems owing to his poor election placements so far.

Carcassonne

Josh 65, Idit 65, Elijah 54

Ben left his copy of this lying around, so when Josh and Idit showed up and we were all in the middle of other games, they played this. This is the original version with the River supplement (whose rules I don’t really know).

It looks to me like it was a low scoring game.

San Juan

Elijah 38, Idit 36, Josh 29

And they continued with this game, while Caylus and Die Macher were still going on.

Tichu

David/Jon-Elijah 1005, Zack/Nadine 295

I started playing opposite David while simultaneously playing Die Macher, and then Elijah took over for me after San Juan ended.

David and I started off with a cool 300 points, and Elijah and David took another 300 point hand two rounds later. In the first hand, David called Tichu when I was going to.

I had an interesting situation where I had remaining in my hand four aces, two fives, and a four. The only guaranteed way to win was to break my bomb into a full house, a single ace, and then play my four as my last card. So it pays to break up bombs, occasionally.

Elijah also had a situation where he had a two, two fours, two fives, and a straight from six to ace. He was going to play a straight from four to ace until I, looking over his shoulder, told him that that was a losing play; instead he played his six through ace, then his two pairs of fours and fives, and then exited with his two.

Nadine is convinced that there is very little actual strategy to the game compared to the luck factor.

Mau

Adam, Zack, Elijah

Mau is a game that I loathe, but Adam likes it. Zack and Elijah had never heard of it, and we had to convince them that they would love it in order to get them to play, From the sounds of hysterical laughter on their part for a good 45 minutes, we knew we had done well. They loved it, especially Zack.

If you want to know what Mau is, you’re encouraged not to look it up, as part of the “fun” (read: childishness) is not knowing the rules before you start playing. But you can look them up on Wikipedia, if you so desire.

Bridge

Binyamin/David 1260, Jon/Nadine 280

We managed to play four hands. My opponents bid and made a 6NT contract on the first hand.

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