December 10, 2008

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K, Avraham, Adam, Binyamin

Welcome back to a few irregular regulars.

Jambo

Jon 63, Gili 49

First play for both of us, I taught this new game to Gili who liked Odin’s Ravens. Jambo is in the same niche of two-player light games.

Jambo is a card game for two. Each player starts with a six space market and several cards. The market contains six types of goods. The main cards have 3 goods on them and two numbers: the smaller number is how much the goods cost if you buy all three at once, and the larger one is how much you earn if you sell all three at once. So the essential mechanic of the game is getting the cards to match up correctly.

A whole lot of other cards do special actions, like add more space to your market, start an auction for some cards or goods, take something, swap something, cause your opponent to discard something, and the like.

Each round you get five actions, of which you can only add to your hand one card. We found this to be a very harsh limit, and it provided a slowdown for us in midgame after we both had basically nothing left in our hands. Hand management is therefore very important.

It was a nice game, about as nice as Odin’s Ravens was the first time I played that. I still like OR, but I don’t usually suggest it. We’ll see what happens with Jambo.

Tichu

David/Avraham, Adam/Nadine

They played this as a starter game.

La Citta

Jon 35, Avraham 25, Gili 20

First play for all of us. This is a nice game, reminiscent of other games, but not quite like any other. You build cities by adding various buildings to your cities using money or actions or both. You need to add quarries to increase you money supply (or take an action to get money). You need to add farms to increase your food supply to feed the people on your buildings. You need to add markets and fountains to allow your city to grow beyond a certain point. And you need to add buildings in three different colors for two reasons: 1) at the end of each year, people move from cities with less of one of these colors to cities with more of one of these colors, and 2) a city scores at the end of the game if it has at least one building of each color.

In the first place, your actions are limited, so you have to make trade-offs. This is nicely done. And in the second place, having extra people is more buildings and more power, but if you exceed your food production, you are hit hard. That makes acquiring extra people dangerous. In fact, forcing other players to take your people is often a tactical powerhouse of a move. Quite the opposite of common sense, but nicely in keeping with the theme.

The board and bits are pretty, if a bit much and over-produced for what was really necessary. It’s a nice game, and I look forward to playing it several more times soon.

In our game, I realized a bit ahead of Avraham how more people is not necessarily better. Especially on the last round, where too many people equals a lot of negative points, I made sure to keep some extra food around. In fact, Avraham tossed me an extra guy and I had exactly enough. I also had the most cities. Gili was drained too much by Avraham’s nearby cities and so had the opposite problem: not enough people and room.

Agricola

Binyamin 47, David 36, Nadine 29, Adam 23

First play for Binyamin and Adam, and look how well Binyamin did. I heard a lot of voices saying that while Agricola is a nice game it is simply too long. Well, with new players it is definitely longer. My last games haven’t been too long, but it takes four or five playings before you get to that point.

Again, a plowed field strategy beat a stone house strategy.

Netrunner

Jon 8, Avraham 0

I taught this to Avraham. I was thinking of selling this (or sending it to my secret santa recipient) since no one around here wanted to play it (i.e. David doesn’t want to play it). And it’s true that there’s a different type of luck factor in the game, but Magic also has a tremendous luck factor in it; most of our Magic games end by mana screw, after all.

Once a Netrunner game gets going, it’s always a great game, regardless of what cards come out. The only thing to watch for is if the runner has no icebreakers of the type he needs. Then he’s in trouble.

In our game, I messed up the rule for activating Nodes, but even so it was an excellent bit of fun. Well, for me, as I won. But Avraham liked the game, too, and will play it with me again if the opportunity arises.

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