May 12, 2010

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Ksenia, Abraham, Sara, David, Gili, Eitan, Emily

Ksenia was able to join us again, for once. I think she was inspired after having won In the Shadow of the Emperor on shabbat. Also nice to see Sara coming more regularly.

Dominion/Intrigue/Seaside

Jon 51, Ksenia 41, Nadine 32

Scores approximate. First play of Dominion for Ksenia. Both Nadine and Ksenia started on VPs a tad too early, imho. We played with the Seaside Village that give +3 actions and +2 gold which is incredibly under-priced at a measly 3 cost. Tack on some card drawing cards (such as Nobles) and the play was pretty straightforward. Ksenia also took a Sea Hag, who was a minor annoyance since there were no cards that trashed other cards.

Dvonn

Abraham+, Sara

This may have been Sara’s first play. Abraham won by a good margin.

Trias

Jon 31, Sara 30, Abraham 27

First plays for Abraham and Sara. Trias is one of those games that I love to pieces but don’t get to play much because the older regulars in the group don’t like it that much. Luckily, Abraham and Sara and Eitan and Emily are relative newcomers and so I can inflict these games on them at least once.

Also, Abraham is closer to my own feelings regarding which games he likes, and so he tends to like the games I like. He’s willing to play Santiago, for instance.

Abraham and Sara both loved Trias, so I’m thrilled. It didn’t take them long to get the hang of the basics, so most of the game was spent on tactics. Abraham managed to leach hex after hex away from other islands onto one on which he was alone, and the end scores were close. But he wasn’t quite diverse enough, and I managed to end with control of a 12 hex island, which just edged me into first place.

Cuba

Nadine 80, Emily 79, Ksenia 67

First plays for Ksenia and Emily. Nadine started teaching a different group of people, but people showed up during the explanation, thought of joining and then some of them split off to start another game. I only played Cuba twice, and while I like it, I find the horizontal/vertical building activation mechanic on the players’ boards annoying.

In this game, according to Nadine’s notes: Nadine changed sugar into rum and shipped, Emily got money and had both shipping and building, and Ksenia had a blue stone and changed to VPs, but didn’t do it every turn.

Taj Mahal

David 53, Gili 53, Eitan 44

This was formed from the overflow of Cuba. First play for Eitan. A tie for David and Gili.

Reef Encounter

Abraham 38, Jon 31, Sara 24

Sara’s score is approximate. First play for me.

Some have compared Reef Encounter to Tigris and Euphrates or Go. Tom Vasel even claimed that once you have Reef Encounter, you can trade away T&E. While I’ve only played one game, so far it appears that nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing that RE and T&E share are the player screens and the tiles.

It’s certainly a pretty and colorful game, and the theme is fresh and interesting. It’s a good game, with quite a lot of depth to be explored. I enjoyed it fine, and will play again. But it’s no T&E.

Not simply because it wasn’t as good as T&E, which it wasn’t. But because the strategies and tactics are so different from each other, it’s like comparing apples and Chevies. They’re simply different games, plain and simple.

In RE, the object is to collect tiles of high value. You collect tiles by starting your turn with one of your markers on an area containing five or more tiles of the same color (you collect N-4 tiles from a reef that you eat). The values of the tiles are partially under your control during the game, though the values only matter at the end of the game. Each tile of a color will be worth between 1 to 5 points at the end of the game. So, in addition to your having to collect the tiles, you have to spend some time locking high values onto the color tiles that you are collecting.

The same part of the board that controls the end values of the tile colors also controls which colors are “dominant” during game play. When one color is dominant over another, tiles of the dominant color can be used to kick tiles of the recessive color (replace them) off the board. You can use then use the tiles that you kick off the board to control the tile values/dominance, or you can place them back on the board later.

At the end of each round, you get some more tiles from random piles, as well as a “control cube” – you spend a control cube on a color each time you want to place one or more tiles of that color.

Lastly, you have four markers, which sit on reefs and protect the spaces immediately orthogonal to them from being eaten by other colors, regardless of which color is dominant. Add to that some wacky board geometry, and you spend a lot of your time trying to figure out where the best place on the board is to grow your reefs so that they can get big before you eat them – and without other people’s tiles eating yours before you can harvest them.

In our game, both Sara and Abraham had large reefs that they ate, but Abraham got the colors locked in his favor. I had the choice on the last round which way to swing one of the tiles, and I swung it in favor of Abraham because I thought Sara had eaten more than Abraham had in his color specialty. Turns out I was wrong. If I had chose the other way, Abraham would have had 8 less points, and Sara 8 more points, and I would still probably have lost by a point or two.

R-Eco

David 16, Gili 15, Eitan 5

Also first play for Eitan, which surprised me.

Tichu

Jon/David 515, Nadine/Ksenia 385

First play for Ksenia. This did not start out well for us.

In the first round, they both went out first. The next round we gained 15 points to their 85. The third round we split 50/50. David and I had crappy hands all three times.

Finally I got a decent pull and I called Grand Tichu (2 aces, 2 kings, Phoenix, jack, and 2 nines). It wasn’t a cakewalk, but I made it, plus another 50/50 break. We were still losing, and Nadine wanted to quit while they were ahead. I coerced her into playing one more round, in which David and I both went out. David went out first, and Nadine was on my right with only one card. And I had several cards and the Dog. Luckily, Nadine’s card wasn’t higher than a jack, and I was able to slowly play through all my cards and exit with the Dog.

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One thought on “May 12, 2010

  1. Yeah, I agree. Reef Encounter is a good game, but Tom Vasel must have been smoking some "reefer" when he said that it was just like T&E.

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