Archives

Kinneretcon 5 2019

Heaven & Ale

Nice and diverse, kind of spacial. No real flaws except theme totally doesn’t work.

La Granja

People like it.

Wingspan

Pacific but nice game, ruined by at least one massively overbalanced card that handed Hajm the game; could work if these cards can be identified and removed. Lovely graphics and theme.

Just checked on BGG and nearly everyone who isn’t a game apologist/purist has discovered that the Raven card is broken and ruins the game. Card must be removed or changed.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Terrible graphics, nice game but unfair that a few rare random cards give a huge benefit. Can be fixed.

There is discussion on BGG about the unfair distribution of hearts, but the designers claim this was playtested and fair, because going for hearts takes away time and points from other pursuits. To be fair, the person who took all of the hearts in my game won only by a little, but imho I played better than he did and could/should have won by a lot more. He got over a dozen extra actions with his hearts. I suspect the designers are suffering from “yeah, but if you work really hard to beat it, it is not so unbalanced” delusion. You should not have to work so hard to make up for an imbalance. I already think I know how to solve this imbalance, so we shall see, if I ever play again.

Terraforming Mars

Very nice game, definitely too long with some dumb mechanics that specifically make it longer, but easily fixable.

The Fox in the Forest

Simple two player trick taking game seems like it could make a nice filler.

Crokinole

18 Lilliput

Supposedly a lighter 18xx game, but still bogged down by lots of math. Ok if played with people who get these kinds of games.

 

Yehuda Berlinger: Just checked on BGG and nearly everyone who isnt a game apologist/purist has discovered that the Raven card is broken and ruins the game (Wingspan). Card must be removed or changed.
[8:06 PM, 11/23/2019] Yehuda Berlinger: The Pursuit of Happiness: There is discussion about the unfair distribution of hearts on BGG, but the designers claim this was playtested and fair, because going for hearts takes away time and points from other pursuits. To be fair, the person who took all of the hearts in my game won only by a little, but imho I played better than he did and could/should have won by a lot more. He got over a dozen extra actions with his hearts. I suspect the designers are suffering from “yeah, but if you work really hard to beat it, it is not so unbalanced” delusion. You should not have to work so hard to make up for an imbalance. I already think I know how to solve this imbalance, so we shall see, if I ever play again.

 – Yehuda

Dragoncon

JSGC attendees: Cliff, Rafi, Binyamin S, Gili, Nadine

Held at the Tel Aviv Kabbalah Center, which seemed like good match, many attendees looked over the Center’s materials. Gili and I arrived late afternoon on Thursday, we didn’t go the next day. Rafi ran a game in the morning.

I played Tzolk’in with Elad and 3 others, one left because she didn’t like it, and someone else needed to leave before we finished. Elad would have won, by the time we stopped he didn’t need to feed any of his 6 workers, and he would have gotten 18 points by getting the monument for workers. He started with an extra worker, which helps.

I had thought of entering the Azul tournament, but didn’t want to play so many games of the same thing. By the time it was starting, I decided to enter, partly because it’s easier than looking for games to play. I won the first game, Elad was second. The first 2 advance to play the top two of the other game. I came in second in the next game, Elad won. I didn’t realize, that was the whole tournament. Elad won the prize of the game, but he already had it, I guess he got something else.

Gili knows a lot of people, playtested a new game, and talked to people about her games business, https://www.playnjoy.games/

Kinneretcon November 2018

A nice group of us attended the fourth Kinneretcon this year – Jon, Saarya, Tal, Robby, Gili, Eszter, Binyamin, Lorenzo, Haim, Nadine, Nadine F, Helen

Helen is a new gamer, she liked getting to learn new games, including Azul, Ticket to Ride and Pioneer Days.

Gili
In The Year of the Dragon, Stone Age, Kingsburg, Alchemists, Horizons, Luxor, Azul, Bears and Bees.

I liked Horizons, and it might be better with more players as Jon said. I also liked Luxor, a race game with hand management.

Jon

Key Flow: card game version of Keyflower. Not bad, but I miss the auction from Keyflower.

Unstable Unicorns: Very cute but godawful game.

Horizons: ho hum game of colonizing planets. Might be better with 3-4 players.

Pioneer Days: very good Euro from TMG with replayability.

Ex Libris: nice game of tile arranging with powers. Not punishing enough and might not be well-balanced, but correctable I think.

Lorenzo

Railroad Ink: nice short game for (in theory) an arbitrary number of players. No interaction between players, everyone should do the best with the same game options.

Blood Maison: investigative card game. Not the best luck/fun ratio imo.

Titan Race: racing game with dice drafting. Very direct interactions. Actually fun, especially for younger players.

Azul: nice as always

Ex Libris: design and mechanics are nice. However, too many moving options make the game less elegant. The huge number of combination of strategies and possibilities made me concerned about balance. Looking to try it again.

Scythe: I love this game.

Pioneer Days: very nice game. I thought I was doing well, but at the end I had not understood the game at all :).

Who Goes There?: the game that impressed me the most. It’s a survival co-op with the possibility that one player becomes “the enemy” in the middle of the game. Only negative is that you only know if the Bads or the Goods win at the end of the game. Still a great late night game.

Imaginarium: the pictures are great, but the game mechanic (card drafting, card combination and action selection) could be better.

Nadine

Ex Libris: An interesting game. Jon’s Trash Golem power was unbalanced, even though he didn’t win with it. I didn’t realize what was important for scoring, Lorenzo did and won. From a thread on bgg.com: I think that for the most part the balance is sufficient that you won’t see one character dominate every time out. That being said there are two that I felt were too strong and needed to be adjusted: the Bookworm and the Trash Golem. 

Herbaceous: I taught this to a few people as a filler, it’s a nice quick game, and pretty.

Scythe: My first play, I really liked the game. And did better than I expected to, partly because one of my missions was to get $20, which helped towards the scoring which is based on money. The 4 of us who were new had close scores, Lorenzo had twice as many points. It looks like a fighting and area control game, but there are other strategies with building and resource management.

Reef: A very simple game, which I managed to not do well at. It doesn’t seem as nice for kids as Takenoko.

Puerto Rico: I taught it to the one player who hadn’t played, and answered rules questions for the other two. I didn’t remember that Construction Hut is of no use when you take Settler yourself, the other players took early buildings that our group doesn’t take, such as Construction Hut, Hospice and Hacienda. Of course, the player with 3 Quarries won.

Lanterns: A nice game, but the score seemed related to turn order rather than quality of play. It’s tactical, the first player had 44 points, next one 43, and last one, me, 42. The scoring chips decrease as you go, so the first player advantage makes sense. Very pretty, quick and fun.

Firenze: After I decided to play, I realized that I had played before and hadn’t like it. I didn’t like it any better this time. Experience helps, but there is a lot of luck, which can be mitigated somewhat but not interesting to me.

Dinosaur Island: I taught this to Haim and another player. I didn’t remember the setup details well so it took a while. After we started the other player said that it’s not so complicated. Haim kept saying he had no idea what was going on, but he won. I shortened the game by one Objective card, and didn’t use the Hooligans.

Tichu: Various partners and partial games, always fun. Jon and Saarya played against me partnering Tal and Robby, we were winning after a few rounds when we stopped for dinner. Jon and I wanted to play against Roee and Zoya, who were taking turns with their 7-month-old, and then had to leave to get their other kids. Jon and I played against Zoya and Saarya, then Roee and Zoya, but only a few hands. Playing against Saarya, at the end of a GT I had called I played 2 fives and lost, my other card was a king, and I knew all the aces were out, but forgot right then.

KinneretCon November 2017

Our third Kinneretcon. A large contingent from our Jerusalem group – Jon, Saarya, Lorenzo, Nadine, Chaya Bluma, Haley, Gili, Eszter, Binyamin, Cliff, Netanel, Mishi, Rafaella. Thanks to Roee, we played in an airy upstairs room with windows, instead of the basement.

Above and Below

I had seen people playing this at previous Kinneretcons and wanted to try. I’m not sure why I wasn’t impressed, the gameplay is fine. I don’t really like the story aspect being mixed in, the story part isn’t that interesting and disrupts the game while you read. You roll dice for success in explorations, but can injure your people for extra points. Lorenzo wisely took a re-roll two card, which helped him. Our scores, were close, except for Lorenzo. First play for all except Gili. Lorenzo 49, Roee 40, Nadine 39, Gili 38

Clans of Caledonia

I wanted to play this because I read that it was in bgg.con Hot Games. A very pretty and complex game about clans in Scotland, with nice wooden food and animal components. Cliff laughed when I told him you expand on hexes, get resources, trade in the market and fulfill contracts. I like that some of the clan representatives are women. Ortal, who had played once, taught it to us – Roee and David. I selected my choice of clan benefit, MacKenzie, a whiskey distillery, picking out of three, based on the clan of a fictional character in the Outlander books. This turned out to be a pretty good benefit, mainly giving money, which helped at the end of the game with buying and fulfilling contracts. I found out at the end that my starting goods had been random, independent of the clan, so I had been lucky to get a whiskey which started giving me money right away.

I knew there were variable round scoring tiles, but I forgot to pay attention early on, so barely got any of those points, and I didn’t even try to use any of the port bonuses. I pretty much understood the placement scoring even though I forgot about it. I upgraded shipping one level but didn’t use it. I thought I was doing poorly, as did the others, actually I was doing poorly. I didn’t have the goods for my first contract – I didn’t realize how hard and expensive it would be to make bread, I thought using wheat, which I was already producing for the whiskey, would be efficient, but it’s the opposite, it’s easier to produce something else. It took me two rounds to buy them at the market because I only had two merchants, so I fulfilled that contract on round three, of five. David thought that he could toss a contract, he hadn’t noticed that I had a problem due to that too, you only get one at a time and can’t discard it, he had already obtained goods for a new contract so that hurt him.

After fulfilling my first contract I was able to use my whiskey money to buy contracts, and managed to get ones that required whiskey, which by the end of the game I couldn’t use for income anyway. I also noticed, when Roee used the benefit, that you get a free contract for emptying a row; I had emptied my whiskey row a while ago, so got a free contract. I fulfilled four contracts in the last two rounds, pretty much catching up on contracts, and unexpectedly got the most contracts bonus of twelve.

Roee understood the game well, competing with Ortal for the placement bonuses, first place is eighteen. I made some placement mistakes, but the worker, production, and upgrading mechanics weren’t that hard to understand. I didn’t even realize there was a ranking mechanic til the end, the ranking of the import goods which are contract rewards change based on the number of each, but I don’t think knowing affects play much, because you mainly take contracts based on which one you can fulfill. I got 44 points for one good that I had on contracts, ending up second. Ortal had around 120, I had 100 and Roee 99, and David a bit less. I like the game, but it will take me several plays to understand how it all works.

Signorie

I taught this. Partly selected for Lorenzo, who is Italian; he kept trying to figure out who the families were. They caught on and liked the game. I did mainly books, Lorenzo had a lot of men. Lorenzo 158, Effi 137, Nadine 131, Yossi 114

Herbaceous

A great, fun filler which I learned last time. I taught it twice, and played it once, and won.

Crokinole

I played two rounds at one point. The game was a big hit with everyone.

Antike

Jon taught it to four people including CB, but two people who listened to the explanation decided not to play, so Haley joined and learned it. We all did pretty well, but Jon is always faster. He had the advantages of being off to the side, and being first player, but as he said, he would have managed to win anyway. I get better as I play more, but don’t play often enough. It’s a very elegant game.

Tresette

Lorenzo taught us this Italian game, using his pretty cards. It’s a trick-taking partnership game similar to bridge, without bidding or trump, and suits of 10 cards. The game is fine, but we had a hard time telling the suits apart due to the similarity of the artwork. Lorenzo offered to switch to regular cards, but we liked the challenge, and almost had the suits down after the two rounds we played. In addition, Lorenzo plays counter-clockwise.

Samurai

First play for all. A nice-looking abstract, with a lot of depth. Spatial, I played mostly tactically.

6 Nimmt!

We played a round of this game, I didn’t realize it was 6 Nimmt!, which I’ve heard of, we were playing with the Hebrew version which has a different name. Cute light game, pretty random.

Lorenzo’s other plays:

Rococo – Lorenzo 74, Gilad 63, Yossi 38

Edge of Humanity – Tal 11+ (He won the tie on more survivors) Lorenzo 11-, Effi 10, Pini 8 (the creator)

Bang

3 games. First was won by the renegade, Saarya was imprisoned for 3 rounds and never played. The second match the bad guys won, outnumbering the sheriff. Last game sheriff and deputy killed all after a long battle with Saarya.

Mazal tov to Cliff for winning Argent!

– Nadine

Jon’s report:

Gentes

A wonderful game with simple, elegant graphics (with one or two niggling problems) and elegant gameplay: buy cards and play cards for points and abilities, and buy cities and workers to allow you to play the cards. Cities also give bonuses. That’s pretty much it, but it works very well, with a worker-taking mechanic and the additional payment of time counters – most actions use up two slots on your action track – the worker you take and the time counter to pay for it, but some require you to take two time counters. You can either take them as two time counters, using up a third slot on your actions, or as a double time counter which then turns into a single time counter the next round, effectively meaning that you use up the second slot on the next round instead of the current one.

I played by buying very few cities, but in the end I had to buy some in order to play certain cards. I did okay, but not as well as the winner by a good distance.

The complexity is about the same as Hansa Teutonica. I loved it. Unfortunately, it is a limited run game until or unless it gets reprinted.

Corto

A ridiculously over produced game with cartoons, rulebooks and action strips instead of a board, two massively sculpted pieces and cards. All for a pretty straightforward and annoying “take that” abstract game of collecting coins, only a few of which you can collect during the game, and the rest of which go back and forth like a yo-yo until someone who is marginally ahead decides to end the game. Last player is at a disadvantage, and no compensation is given for it.

In my game, I stayed away from the pool of points available at one end of the board, but I was still a target for some reason, and I was down to 0 points on the board in round 4 out of 6.25 (with two permanent points collected). I complained about this. Then I finally spent a little time thinking about what to do about it, tossed some cards and took no actions in round 5 to get better ones (since I could hardly lose my position any further by that point), and played all my cards in round 6, netting me 18 points. The player after me (who was first player) ended the game; he had 19 points, I had 20, and everyone else had less.

Bleah. I’m not a fan of “take that” mechanics, and this didn’t change my mind. It didn’t help that the explanation for the game took a few repetitions to understand. But it has pretty pieces.

I also played:

Age of Industry – taught this to various people, and while the game is still dry, they enjoyed it.

Antike – see above

Crokinole – see above. Lots of people played this, and several talked about buying it.

Slap Deck – a few times

No Thanks

Sticheln – I think it’s okay, but the people around me whined a lot.

I taught Power Grid

I saw the sunrise over the Kinneret: very pretty.

Hannatoncon

Gili drove me, Eszter and Binyamin to Kibbutz Hannaton on Friday morning. A few people were already there, and many arrived soon after.

New game trends – Plants, lots of plants! Fruit, herbs, gardens and more. Maybe replacing farming.

Friday

Walnut Grove

We started with this, new to Yuval and Binyamin. Eszter won, beating me by one point. She made a mistake at the beginning, she thought she had a yellow farmer and board, but she had a blue one, and only realized it after setting up to produce yellow, and having returned her tiles. I had her switch to a yellow farmer instead of redrawing tiles. Everyone enjoyed playing.

Lewis & Clark

I had played this at bgg.con, and just remembered how slow it was to move up the river, which is the point of the game. It’s actually not so slow, especially by the end of the game when I understood how things worked. I wasn’t as behind as I expected to be, the other two were almost tied at the end. It’s a nice game which requires a lot of thinking and planning, with hand management, worker placement and deck building elements.

Herbaceous

My new favorite filler, though it is pretty light. After I learned it I taught it to several people who also liked it. Beautiful artwork, quick to learn and fun to play. Competitive set collection, you can take sets when you want, but can’t add to them later, so you want to maximize before other players take things.

Splendor

I had heard a lot about this award-winning game, mostly complaints that it was too light. I was pleasantly surprised, it’s a very nice game, one of the best for its length, which makes sense considering how popular it is. Easy to learn, and quick. I learned in a two-player game, we stopped for dinner, but she was close to winning, and I wasn’t. I played again later, a 4-player game with experienced players. I won on my turn, but the others all had an extra turn, and another player tied with me. The tie-breaker is number of cards you played – but we were tied again. I had set myself up to get two nobles in the hope that one would work out, I managed to get both, frustrating Zoya who was trying for the same ones.

Dr. Eureka

A brain and dexterity speed game. I wasn’t good at it, but it’s fun. Binyamin really liked it, and did well. People played it a lot.

Isle of Skye

I like it better now that I understand it. (And I’ll be able to see how it resembles the actual scenery this summer.) I was in last place the whole game, which gave me a lot of extra money, which I used to buy my own tiles. I hadn’t realized scoring and placement aspects and left a hole that no tiles matched. On the last round, two tiles for sale fit, and I was first to buy. One of them even closed off two scoring tiles; I ended up coming in second.

Mutant Meeples

A nice and original game. I couldn’t think fast enough, but it was after midnight. Binyamin liked it.

Walking around, I pointed out a few move options for a new Five Tribes player after she tried to land on an empty tile, but then saw that she understood the game and could do OK on her own. That made me realize how much I wanted to play the game.

Saturday

Five Tribes

So I got players to agree to Five Tribes starting off in the morning. One player was new, he did well with a combination of two assassin djinns – use the assassinated piece, and assassinate two. He got two tiles twice with it, but then the reds ran out. Maria had a djinn that let her place on tiles with meeples. Dima got 25 points one turn, and blocked me on a card I needed. I was doing cards but then stalled when the ones I needed weren’t available, and I didn’t  have much else, no djinns. Then the seventh and eighth cards I needed came out and I got them, and then at the end the last one came out. But there weren’t many moves left at that point, and I couldn’t land on a buy two tile. The new player took two cards, which let me get what I needed with a buy one tile. The whole game I thought I was behind, but was thinking how much I liked playing anyway. In the end I somehow won by around 30 points. I was second in yellows from a late move which helped, and no one else did a lot of cards.

Year of the Dragon

All new players, who had a hard time with the unforgiving nature of the game. We warned Maria about rice and disease, but she wanted fireworks, and did Yuval. They had around 7 each time, with a disagreement because we ran out of firework pieces. I said you can’t run out, so we used extra people to represent two tiles for Yuval. Maria hadn’t realized that we were doing that, she thought she would be ahead until his move. So we did let her redo her move to take fireworks, for 8 vs his 7. I’ve never been in a game with so many. She ended up losing all her people and palaces, ending with one palace level, but she did a good job compensating with dragons, and didn’t do too badly. People also built a lot, somewhat related to rice events being late. I won by a bit, even though I made mistakes and was down to four people at the end. The players understood the game but it is really hard, and hard to enjoy losing people. Dima did well, close to the end of the game he asked what happens when you don’t have space in your palaces for a person you take, I said that’ what everyone’s been doing the whole game, replacing people.

Fabled Fruit

They wanted a light game after that, so someone explained Fabeled Fruit, by Friedemann Friese. It’s a nice game and fun to play, good for a light game but a bit much to set up as a filler. Kids would enjoy it. We played two games then stopped, even though there is a nice mechanic of new cards and placement options coming in all the time. Dima won both games.

Broom Service

We spent a long time learning this, including starting the first round over because I misunderstood movement options, or they misunderstood my question about it. We stopped after two rounds. The main mechanic is trying to guess / deduce if other players have the same cards as you. Sometimes you know, like if they’re out of cards, and sometimes you’re guessing. The mechanic is fine, but not interesting enough to carry a whole game for another five rounds.

Tobago

I haven’t played this in ages. Someone else came over to explain it which took a while, but after that it went well, all new players except me. I lost three treasure cards because of the skull, I still came in third out of four. They agreed that our house rule makes sense, no skulls.

Eszter’s best new game – Insider. I saw people playing it on Friday, and on Saturday when I came in a group was engaged in a serious discussion that sounded normal, until I realized they were playing this, social deduction.

Gili’s best new game – Rococo and Grand Austria Hotel.

Binyamin’s best new game – Grand Austria Hotel, Insider, Rococo, Impotek, Isla Dorado, Istanbul, Eureka, Isla Dorado.

I’m not used to people dropping in and out to the extent they did on Shabbat, and almost everyone left before Shabbat was out. After playing the Kinneret miklat, we all appreciated a nice room with windows. It started raining Shabbat afternoon so we closed the windows by the games, but ended up moving them away. Then the electricity went out, but it came back on not long after. Most of the participants were at the previous two cons, so it’s great to see and play with the same friendly group.

The Jerusalem bridge ready for President Trump.