December 05, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Binyamin, Rivka, Yitzchak, Jack

The second night of Hanukkah, and possibly why attendance is even lower than usual. Still, Jack returned from a prolonged absence. He reports that the Jerusalem Russian-speaking gaming group petered out. As such, he hopes to be joining our group more regularly.

Robo Rally

Yitzchak+, Nadine, Jon, Jack

I decided to try this on the most minimal board configuration: four players, one board, one flag, and that’s it. Even with this, it was a challenging game lasting a reasonable length of time.

Part of the reason that it lasted a reasonable length of time was that the flag was placed in a location that was quite difficult to get to. You had to be in exactly one of two spaces and have a “2” card. As a result, although two players got close to the end first, the other two were within contention by the end of the game, as well.

Yitzchak finally landed the right combo.

Nadine adds: Even though I managed to screw up a turning direction card every single time in Robo Rally, it’s a fun and challenging game, compelling even if you’re behind unless you’re dead or powered down.

Vegas Showdown

Nadine, Binyamin, Rivka, Yitzchak

I didn’t play this, so Nadine comments:

t seems like a good game – choices, interactivity, variation through an event card each turn. But it didn’t seem exciting, fun or original, the way Robo Rally does. Or even Mr. Jack which you want to see if it’s solvable. And in Vegas, it seems like it will be much less interesting to turn over Event cards in future games, when they’re not new. And it seemed more tactical than strategic, based on one play.

Mr Jack

Rivka(Det)+, Binyamin(Jack)

I taught this to these two when they came in, warning them that playing Mr Jack was still considered unsolvable in our group. Rivka made mincemeat out of him, I believe.

Jon(Jack)+, Jack(Det)

I, however, am still working on improving my skills in this game as Jack, in order to prove or disprove whether Jack can really win against an equal opponent, one way or the other. I’m very proud of myself for winning against an opponent who had never played before.

My opp didn’t make any really bad mistakes; a few mistakes here and there, but nothing horrible. Still, he only revealed one character in the first and second rounds, and none in the third. By the end of round 7 I still had three suspects on the board. At which point he gave up and tried guessing (and lost).

It’s a very compelling and interesting puzzle, and should it turn out that Jack really has a chance against a good opponent, it will likely be considered one of my favorite two-players. Nice pieces and theme, and good play mechanics.

However, one thing I can’t stand about the game is the mechanic of guessing on the last turn. I hate a rule that let’s you simply win by a lucky die roll on the last play, and this is equivalent to that. I think you should have to guess Jack or not, and be done with it.

Tigris and Euphrates

Jon 10, Jack 8

Jack challenged me to a game of this. We played on two thirds of a board with seven starting temples and with the game ending with only one treasure remaining. We should have taken a collection of the tiles out of the bag as well, but we didn’t bother, so the game was bound to end only with treasures taken.

That also means that essentially all kingdoms, however large, were going to have to clash at some point. Of course, removed tiles and disasters mitigated that somewhat.

Anyway, it was a fascinating game and a pleasure to play. Jack really liked it because I was tougher than his usual opponents (not that I’m particularly good).

I began very quickly mingling our leaders. Eventually I built all three of the monuments that would get built, unconcerned that I was giving him half the points. That’s one of the interesting things about the game: you can give loads of points to your opponent assuming it’s the right points.

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