December 18, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Yitzchak

This week’s game was changed to Tuesday as I would be unavailable Wed evening.

Mr Jack

Jon (Mr Jack) +, Nadine (Detective) +

Nadine continued her obsession with this game coming into the evening. I continued to play Mr Jack with the hopes of proving that he really had a viable chance against the Detective. In the first game, I made an error to tip my hand in round four. Unfortunately, Nadine had no trouble pouncing on me in rounds 5.

In the second game, I played purely defensively, and managed to keep 4 people suspects until round 6. One of them wasn’t really a suspect, since the piece didn’t try to escape when it could have. As round 6 rolled into round 7 and 8 and Nadine realized that there was nothing to do but try to guess one of the pieces, Nadine finally decided that the game wasn’t so interesting after all if Jack could just hide in plain sight until the end of the game.

In other words, Nadine was nearly about to say that the game is obviously tilted in favor of Jack’s winning! I teased her about that. In the end, she said that, once again, with evenly matched players and no particular mistakes, it came down to the luck of the card flips.

My next goal is to take back the Detective role and prove her wrong.

Odin’s Ravens

Yitzchak+, Gili

I taught this to them as something to play while waiting for Nadine and me to finish our first game of Mr Jack. Gili didn’t catch on quite as well as Yitzchak, and so suffered some major losses, although it took three races for Yitzchak to win.

Bus

Jon+, Yitzchak, Nadine, Gili

We played this for the first time. I love a route creation / pick up and deliver game. This one has a cute board with gamer in-jokes. It also has a wickedly hard action bidding system, where you place your limited cubes onto the actions you want, but as further people do the same, yours become canceled. In theory, it’s very good.

In practice, the game doesn’t quite work. Two of the bidding areas are simply no-brainers during the game. First player places his cube onto the only slot in “Expand Your Bus Capacity” Position, and second player places his cube onto the only slot in “Start Player Next Round”. That leaves five other action types.

The ordering of “Bring in New Passengers” is not very significant if you have enough passengers on your route already, and irrelevant if you don’t have a station connection, and even more irrelevant when there are no more passengers to place. It could be that we were playing this wrong, as it didn’t seem to provide much tension. That leaves four other action types.

“Placing new buildings” also doesn’t really provide that much tension on most turns, unless you have rail tracks to empty spaces in which they can be placed. On some turns this was significant, however.

The clock mechanism was rather odd, but seems like it might have worked. It didn’t work too much for us in our game.

The last two action types were “Place new rails” and “Deliver passengers”. These are the core mechanisms of a pick up and deliver game, and were also the only two that really provided significant tension in the game.

We may have subject to some group think in our first game, or have played the rules incorrectly. As it was, Nadine didn’t really like it, Gili was happy to run out of cubes and leave early, and Yitzchak wasn’t particularly thrilled. I was the only one who liked it despite the flaws, although I’ve already set my mind to figuring out how to fix them.

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