Animal Upon Animal
It was great to spend time with Abe and Sara and Eliana, find out how they’re doing, and catching them up on our friends in Israel. I gave them a game to play with Eliana, she really liked it. It’s a well-crafted stacking game, Animal Upon Animal, with enough game mechanics for a four-year-old.
Race for the Galaxy
Unlike the rainy last two years, it was sunny, though cold and windy, and we went to shul which had a special lavish Kiddush sponsored by the va’ad hakashrut. Saturday afternoon we played Race for the Galaxy, Eliana stacked her game animals on her own while we played. I had really bad cards, confirmed by Abe when I asked for advice. Abe 33, Sara 23, Nadine 13.
The Voyages of Marco Polo
After Shabbat we drove to the hotel, I told Abe we wouldn’t miss the raffle. We walked in at 7, they started a few minutes later with thank you’s, then got to the raffle. I wanted to check out games to play, but figured the library would be out of anything good. I left before the raffle was over to get into the library as soon as possible, but they didn’t open it right away after the ceremony, so I was at the head of a long line. Abe had never played Tzolk’in or Five Tribes, and I thought he’d like them and be good at them, even though I would rather play a game I hadn’t played before. I saw people with Marco Polo, which someone had said was good, I asked them if they needed more players and they said yes, so that worked out well. We found a table in the big room because we thought it more likely to find a teacher there than in a smaller room. I went to put stuff in my room, and someone taught the game and I caught most of it.
It’s a nice game with interesting mechanics, but it has some flaws. There isn’t always something useful to do on your turn, and traveling is too expensive, we thought there should be more rewards. Each player gets a benefit at the start of the game. Mine was Receive one of any good someone else takes, Abe’s was Pay nothing to take actions, and the others were Get a free die and one contract per turn, and Select all your dice values instead of rolling. They all seemed powerful, they thought mine was strongest. It gave me around 4 resources per turn. At the beginning I decided not to travel at all, and just to obtain and complete high value contracts, which worked. I wasn’t sure I’d win, the others all did contracts and travel bonuses, but I had good contracts and got the Most Contracts bonus of 7. I’m not sure the different strategies are different enough, thought once people have experience everything, such as high VP contracts, would be more competitive. Me 58, Abe 47, 41, 39
We decided to play another game together. There were no copies of Five Tribes or Tzolk’in available in the library. I saw two guys with Tzolk’in, and asked them if they needed other players. I didn’t want to ditch the people we were playing with, but thought we might be able to work something out. The guys said they didn’t care which game they played, and gave me Tzolk’in for us to play. Our opponents were experienced players who own the game, I own it too. I learned two rules that we’ve been playing wrong: you can only get corn if you can take a corn chip, when the chips run out you can only get corn with a level two technology; and first player can only double rotate either on the turn that they took the first turn spot, or when they place on the first turn spot, which passes first player to the next player, after the first player turns the gears. We discovered the game was missing a pile of buildings, and expansion buildings were mixed into the game, we used another library copy of Tzolk’in to replace them.
Abe did like the game and did a good job. I had a bad time, I didn’t recover from starting fourth, and I think I had a bad starting card. Abe started with level one skull technology and moved up to level two, he placed four skulls. I kept taking off or placing only one worker. Abe didn’t get food discount buildings til the third season, when he could get the good ones. The other players got at least one monument, one player got two, I got none. My big accomplishment was placing one skull, I also won the brown temple track, the lowest one endgame. Abe 68, 56, 55, me 40
When we returned the Tzolk’ins to the library after playing, I looked for Five Tribes and checked it out for the morning. Abe also wanted to play the Chain Store Magnate game, which was open in Hot Games Sunday morning. But it would have taken a while to get more players and teach the game, so he decided to play Five Tribes. We put up a Players Wanted sign but no one was really looking for games, but it works two-player. I got the Place a camel on empty tiles Djinn, and got white meeples; Abe had the 3 Points for yellow meeples Djinn and a lot of yellow meeples. He also collected cards, and had 7, I had 4. I got a lot of tiles, including the 12 and 15. Abe also had tiles, and took blue money actions a few times. We stayed low in bidding. You can set yourself up in two-player, but it’s already hard enough to plan moves. Abe did well, but said the game is too prone to AP, he liked it but prefers Tzolk’in where you have more control and can plan. I ended up winning by one point, 176 to 175.
This was the new popular social game being played all over, I wanted to try it, and Abe and Sara tend to find more social players so he was also interested. It’s a good short game, fun and challenging. As soon as we started setting up people came over, two who knew the game taught it and played with us. We each teamed with one of them. You give word clues, and try to apply the clue to as many words as possible. The words are on a secret grid, so you don’t want your partner to guess the other team’s words, or hit the assassin. First game my side did very well, I guessed all the clues which applied to two cards, we were ahead by a lot. But then I guessed wrong and hit the assassin, so we lost the whole round. When I started giving clues I gambled and said my clue applied to 3 words, my partner got them all, and we ended up winning that round. The game takes advantage of all the ambiguity in English words, but would probably work in any language.
First con in three years with no electronics problems, my new phone is great for pictures.