October 28, 2009

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Bill, Shirley, Gili, Emily, Eitan, Abraham, Sarah, Ksenia

We have new steady regulars, which is great as it keeps game night lively and provides players with a choice of what games to play. Ksenia is a visiting student from Poland who will be staying with us until mid-December, at least. She has no gaming background, but was excited to try out games night and had a great time. Welcome aboard.

Year of the Dragon

Nadine 102, Bill 94, Shirley 92, Gili 90, 82 Eitan

First plays for Bill and Shirley. Shirley was able to translate the Chinese symbols on the board, and they apparently don’t have much to do with the game.

They started with this game, instead of the usual filler, and it took them three hours. Nadine won, as usual. Eitan already liked the game, and Shirley really liked it. So much so, that they all sat around for another half hour discussing the game.

Dominion

Jon 29, Emily 24

I stayed away from YotD, so I was able to play Dominion with Emily when she and Eitan arrived (Eitan preferred to join YotD as it was just about to start).

We pulled a dream set of cards: Chapel, Moat, Villagers, Spy, Moneylender, Bureaucrat, Throne Room, Market, Festival, and Mine. I took Spy/Chapel, she took Moneylender/Chapel.

It took a while to get to 5, but then it was steady progression. Emily Chapel’d all of her Estates, while I only dropped 2 of them. That left me at a one point advantage. We’ll get back to that later.

Heh. She managed to get 2 Provinces before I got any, which made me depressed. Then we both got one, leaving me down, 3 to 1. But then I was able to get 2 Provinces and a Duchy. 3.5 to 3. We each both got one more Province, me getting the last one and pulling an additional Estate just for kicks.

Festivals are lovely, but they have to be combined with card drawing ability or they just sit there. Of course, trashing all your Estates and Coppers in favor of Golds also doesn’t hurt.

Settlers of Catan

Jon 10, Abraham 8, Ksenia 7, Emily 5

The gateway game, and first play for Ksenia. She liked it, I’m happy to say. Once again I started off a little behind, but soon the numbers began to swing my way. I was the only one who had to dump to the robber during the game, and I did it three times. Ksenia and Emily did a little jockeying for Longest Road, while Abe and I built up cities. I won with a Largest Army and then my fourth city.

It’s Alive

Ksenia 47, Jon 43, Abraham 41, Emily 33

Scores are approximate, but in order. First play for Ksenia, and she liked it too (though not as much as Settlers). I’m STILL finding new ways to think about the money and point aspects of the game. Great game.

Santiago

Abraham 99, Jon 97, Sarah 79, Ksenia 58, Emily 57

For some odd reason, the old-timers don’t like to play this game with me, which boggles me, as I think it’s incredibly elegant and fun. Luckily I had four players who had never played it before, and I already knew that Abe would like it (and probably win). it’s also new player friendly. So I got another chance to play.

Five players is the toughest scenario, of course, but even so, ours was pretty amiable. Very little land dried up completely until the last round of the game.

One of the interesting things about the game is that it’s not enough to play a round by maximizing your point score for that round only. You have to consider how many extra points you can get by taking a smaller amount this round in anticipation of tiles that will give you a really big boost in some future round.

Also, you have to weigh the points you will get if you take tile A and opp takes tile B, and the reverse; not only what you will get with your own placement.

Four of the five crops had some contiguity, while the fifth one only sprouted between the fields, so to speak. I made a bonehead move on the seventh round, missing an already watered spot on the board and therefore not bidding high enough to secure it for myself. That was a 10 point loss, I believe.

But the game came down to the end, where Queenmaker Emily got to decide whether my crops or Abe’s would be watered. Abe won out, and he won by 2 points.

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