April 6, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Jessica, Gili, Mace, Matias

Jessica lives close by in Jerusalem. I was recently introduced to her, and she had never heard of these new games. She dropped by to give them a try and enjoyed herself. She promises to return. Matias lives in Argentina and comes to Israel on business every year; this is the first time he checked out the game scene. He is an experienced player and also plans to return (the next time he is back in Israel).


Jon, Jessica, Nadine, Gili

Nadine, Jessica, and I started off with this while waiting for Gili and Mace. We were all on the same level, give or take, which is a new and positive experience for me (I typically win). We played 4 letter minimum. Gili joined us for a second and third game; being a native Israeli, she plays a three letter minimum. We all tied in the second game, but due to the three Americans cancelling out nearly all of each others’ words, Gili won the last game by a reasonable margin.


Gili+, Jon, Nadine, Mace, Jessica

First play for Jessica. The trick was to find a game for five that is a good intro game for a brand new player but also not too long or too boring. I usually start new players with Settlers, but I don’t have the 5-6 player expansion (I don’t really like it). I suggested Power Grid, but some of the others thought it would be too long.

Tribune is a little overwhelming at first, but Jessica picked it up quickly enough. For some reason, the rule “you must play either more cards OR cards with a higher value” seems to be very difficult for some players to wrap their head around; Nadine and others corroborate this, though I never understood why. I typically get more confused when two areas of the board have similar but contradictory requirements.

On the first round, Mace mistook the light blue faction for a dark blue. As a result, he had a hand full of dark blue cards and tried to take over the light blue faction. That set him back a bit. There were a few other, lesser, mistakes of that sort. While we were playing, Matias arrived. he spent the second half of the game watching and acting as rules arbiter.

Nadine got to three out of the four required victory conditions by the second round, and looked poised to win by the end of round three. However, she lost the temporary favor of the gods, and stalled the rest of the game. I got to three win conditions in round four, with the same results. I secured the fourth condition in round five and only needed to convert my temporary favor to a permanent one. Although I peeked at the card color I needed on the board, every single card of that color was taken by other players (purely by coincidence), I didn’t have any in my hand, and I couldn’t pick one randomly from the stack of five.

Gili proceeded to win the game at the end of the round.

Settlers of Catan

Jessica 10, Jon 7, Matias 8

First play for Jessica. I shunted Nadine and Mace off to play Dominion so that I could hook Jessica onto the gateway game. As often happens with Settlers, the new player won, which only adds to the hook element. I think she greatly enjoyed the game.

However, I must note that once during the game, while waiting for certain resources, she said, “There’s an element of Go Fish in here.” Probably the most insulting comparison since Gilad said that Cosmic Encounter reminded him strongly of Munchkin.

At the beginning of the game, I warned her of my SoC maxim: when two people fight over the Longest Road, the third player usually wins. Matias started off strongly, getting to five points while Jessica and I were at 3. We both made it to 4 while he jumped to 7 by gaining the Longest Road. Matias then stalled out.

Jessica stole his Longest Road and I encouraged them both to spend the rest of the game fighting over it (humorously, of course, given my opening strategic advice). I made it to 7 points on the board with my third soldier ready to play; Matias made it to 8 points on the board, ready to steal back Longest Road. But Jessica managed to end the game with a settlement.


Mace 67, Nadine 53

Mace and Nadine played with mostly Prosperity cards, which is one of the expansions that Mace doesn’t own and that Nadine is less familiar with. The first game appears to have gone typically enough.

Mace 156, Nadine 75

But wow for the second game. Mace took every Colony and tons of additional points by continuously triple playing a card that gave him points every time he bought a card; he kept buying coppers. Somehow that didn’t slow down his hand, though I don’t know why, exactly.

156 is certainly a high score for our group. Around the interwebs, some people have reported scores of 240 or so, and one even claimed a score in the 400s.


Jon 16, Jessica 3, Matias 2

First play for both Matias and Jessica. I played with my usual random point stacks (mixed colors and order) rather than the prescribed color and order stacking.

Matias loved the game and hopes to bring it back to his group. He pulled some early points, but he dumped again and again and again, until he had a deck of illegal dumps; 16 points worth, I think. Jessica and I dumped lightly, but I pulled in far more chips than she did.


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