September 16, 2015

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Aaron, Nisan, Eszter, Zev

Zev is newly arrived in Israel and will be moving to Haifa, but he came for this night and may come for some others. It is also nice to see Eszter again after an absence. Game night was back in my place after some renovation.

Two-Player Pinochle

Jon 275, Nadine 275

We played one hand while I refreshed Nadine on the rules. I won a few more points during melding with a set of aces, but Nadine pulled all of the trump (except the two aces) and I made a misplay so she won a few more points during the play. In the end, we tied.

Puerto Rico

Ship  build bonus total
Zev  18  21 12  51
Nadine 26  16  6  48
Aaron 26  19  7  52

Nadine writes: First play for Zev. I didn’t have good income, I took Harbor over Factory, Zev had Factory and Guild Hall for 8 and City Hall. Aaron had a Wharf and Harbor, and Fortress. Somehow I managed to get Customs House second to last round and man it last round , but at the cost of taking Captain for more points. Zev had Tobacco which I got later because I didn’t have Sugar. Aaron was in front of me with Coffee, but I took it because my only other choice was Indigo which I already had.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Jon 122, Gili 110, Nisan 94, Eszter 91

First play for all but Eszter who brought the game. I had played Suburbia before, and was interested in comparing it. I was set to knock it versus Suburbia, because the buildings are fiddly and oddly shaped, requiring us to keep moving them around on the table as we found ourselves without room to add on to our castle. Also it was not always clear when a room could fit or not without sheets of grid paper. And there is something inelegant and unthematic about the room process at the start of the round: I’m selling to you the same room you were just trying to sell to me, which makes no sense.

For all that, the game worked well, and I’m not sure which game I like better. The room process is silly but a nice mechanic; you have to figure out what the same room is worth to each other player. It could devolve into some analysis problems. The different shapes are supposed to make a prettier castle, which is nice for some people but fairly irrelevant for me. Any strategy comes in the form of the game end cards; the rest is tactics. Money had to be managed, but typically not too painfully. We still managed some surprises.

I made a bad rule interpretation, which I don’t do that often. The game was in German, and we had translations and a summary sheet in English. The summary sheet indicated that the purple building bonus was to score again the full building. This was first interpreted by someone as “score again the building that was played and that resulted in closing the purple building”, but I said it was clearly to score again the purple building, not the closing building. Someone then later said that the bonus is to score the purple building value plus the value of the purple building bonus given once for the closing, which I argued against as making no sense. Then we read the rules and that’s what it seemed to say, even though a) the summary sheet didn’t have that sense at all and b) it still made no sense (and required you to remember which building was used to close the purple building). Still later we realized that it was to score the entire purple building and all of its bonuses, which I finally admitted made the most sense and didn’t require any memory. We had to redo the scores about three times to account for each interpretation.

Gili was pulling in many game end scoring cards and, while she lagged behind me in points, she clearly had many game ending points. I was fairly sure she was going to beat me. However, on the last few rounds I pulled in 10 or more points on each round, even on the very last round where she placed the buildings and I only had 2 coins left. I used the 2 coins to buy the 2 cost building which had 1 coin on it. I closed a yellow building which gave me a free action and I bought the 1 cost building. In the end, Gili had 30 bonus points which brought her up to my score before I played my bonus cards.

Eszter was chagrined not to have won, but she is looking forward to playing Suburbia, which I would like to play again. Nisan also enjoyed the game.

Dominion

Aaron 34, Jon 30, Zev 30, Nadine 18 (with 5 curses)

The cards were Village, Throne Room, Laboratory, Library, Secret Chamber, Steward, Torturer, Smugglers, Caravan, Outpost.

The others don’t play with cards outside the base set too often. Aaron started with a Torturer and then Zev took one and that card dominated the feel of the game. I took a single Steward and was fine taking and discrading curses all game, but I admit that it kept me from using the Steward to do anything more useful. My deck was trim and neat until I pulled two provinces, and thereafter I never saw 8 again. I had some Laboratories and Villages and a Steward and not much else. I used a Smuggler and Throne Room once to pick up two Duchies.

Nadine and Zev both got to 5 several times early (while I didn’t) but they never trashed cards. They both got at least two provinces. Aaron picked up 5 of them, and then 4 late estates for the win. Aaron did Throne Room Torturer several times. The game ended when a third pile ran out (curses, duchies, and I think villages).

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