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April 19, 2017

Participants: Jon, David, Gili, Aaron, Yael, Nadine

Magic: The Gathering

David+, Jon+

We didn’t have time to Rochester draft, so I chose a balanced color assortment of 120 cards and we created decks from our half. The decks were stronger than usual. David played BG, and I played BRW. Yes, I still played three colors, although, in my defense, all but one of my cards had only one colored mana requirement. I had a few nervous moments at the beginning of both games, but I got out most of my cards without difficulty.

I had many fliers and I was hoping enough to stock David’s ground forces. And I had a Mindcrank, even one of which is pretty insane in a 40 card deck. In the first game, he had a large reach creature and then he had too many big land creatures to block all of them. In the second game, I stopped his ground forces, and even though he was gaining life, I decked him with my small fliers.

Bruges

Jon 60, Gili 51, Aaron 37

First plays for both of them, who wanted to learn. We discovered that I had misread one of the cards that I thought was way over-powered in a previous game. Gili took control of the canals early on, and I couldn’t draw the color card I needed to build the canal segment I wanted, so I concentrated on people and VPs from them. I also had a person that made me more immune to disasters, while Gili played a person that removed some of her tokens.

They both liked it.

Puerto Rico

David 54, Nadine 50, Yael 40

First play for Yael. Nadine writes: David had two big buildings including Custom’s House, as well as Factory and Harbor. Yael did very well for her first time, and we didn’t help her much.

Among the Stars

Gili 88, Jon 83, Aaron 82

First play for Gili and Aaron, and first time I played with objectives. We also played special powers: Gili could use a discarded card, Aaron knew of a secret objective, and I earned a few extra points at the end of the game. I like the game; it’s not rip roaring fun, but it’s a nice management game.

Tichu

David/Aaron 1005, Jon/Nadine 595

Very few bombs, and Aaron made a grand Tichu. They took a steady path to victory.

March 29, 2017

Participants: Jon, Daniel, Nadine, Gili

Magic: The Gathering

Daniel++, Jon

Daniel came early to play Magic when David couldn’t make it. We did the usual draft. I played BWg, Daniel played BRg, if I recall correctly. Anyway, I thought I drafted and built okay, with some nice flyers and black creature control. I think I lost the first game with incorrect play. I kept attacking with a flying lifelink, but I could have done a bit more blocking with it instead. Anyway, he had more and bigger creatures, and when he finally sent my lifelink flyer (with enchantment) back to my hand, it was over. In the second game, I simply drew only very high casting cost cards while he took me out with 2 and 3 cost creatures and a Puppet Strings.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

Jon (white)+, Daniel (black)

First play for Daniel. Daniel had a few bad encounters, including his first flying nasgul attack being straight into Legolas’ bow. Eventually, Frodo could slip sideways and pass his remaining creature to make it into Mordor.

Troyes

Jon 54, Nadine 38, Gili 37

Gili suggested this for our little company. I’m not sure about the right strategy, but apparently whatever I did worked in this game. Gili’s bonus card was the one for defeating black cards, and she attacked them fiercely, which kind of gave it away. Mine was meeples on the cards, which Nadine guessed. Nadine’s was influence, which no one guessed, because she ended with 0 influence (as did Gili; I eked out 1 point from her card).

All of our dice rolls were pretty bad. I had a little synergy working with a white card that gave me high yellow count, and several yellow cards. Gili had synergy with the red dice, but not enough to make up for the poor dice rolls. Also, people fought me for the white dice less than usual.

March 22, 2017

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yael, Daniel, Nati

It’s Alive

Nadine 48, Daniel 47, Yael 45, Jon 35

First play for Daniel and Yael, I think. Daniel went out first, but Nadine scored the win.

Vegas Showdown

Jon 57, Yael 47, Nadine 46, Daniel 46, Nati 44

First plays for Yael, Daniel, and Nati. Yael took a good chunk of the early Slots. I got the only early Sports Building, so I was able to steal the Special Sports Book building for a coup. But there was plenty of competition to go around.

March 15, 2017

Participants: Jon, David K, Nadine, Gili, Elad, Daniel, Aaron

Back at my place after several weeks at Nadine’s.

Magic: The Gathering

David++, Jon

There were no more than one or two creatures of power 4. We had to rely on our boosting cards. I played BWG, while David played RU. Both of us had reasonable mana, although David was a bit shy in the first game. I played with only 15 mana (5 each) and had no problems. But I still went down. In both cases, we had a standoff on the ground, while David’s fliers and unblockables were stronger.

Bruges

Jon 75, Nadine 52, David 48

First play for David, third for me. While I already have a number of suggestions on how to change this to make it better (for my group), we played this (nearly) straight so that David could get an idea of the official game rules. This game is one that substitutes calculation for actual decision making, at least in part, which is a hacky game design technique. There are too many random elements artificially conspiring to make what you want to do difficult, so you have to plan every round, sometimes two, from the start of the round. Despite this, the choices (once you get past the calculations) are good, and the calamities that affect you are not annoying enough to actually wreck the game play.

The only change I insisted on was rolling the dice before choosing cards, which is a straightforward improvement. David had some initial confusion and irritation, but ended up liking the game. Nadine took the first bonus with canals. I played a person who kicked everyone else back on the cathedral track, which gave me the bonus for that. Then I pulled ahead of David one round to get the personality bonus (and then I fell back and let him get it). Both of them had better luck than me with the colors of cards they picked, and both of them had people out that gave then bonus actions.

I then pulled a seemingly overpowered card that gave me 2 points for each canal track, once per round (with a blue worker). With a little better luck with my card draws, I gained 2, then 4, then 8, then 12 points each round using this card. The canals I built also gave me the 3 point canal bonus, the 6 point monument, and my last personal bonus (canals).

I need to check how many other overpowered cards there are. That one is a doozy.

I think my change to the game is going to be like this: 1) I will create a Magic: The Gathering like color wheel. You will then be able to buy a neighboring color for $1, or an opposing color for $2, whenever you pay a card. 2) Some way to gain a few extra $, such as $1 income for each 3 or 4 rolled on the dice.

Suburbia

Aaron, Gili, Elad, Daniel

I don’t know what happened here.

Nefarious

Jon++, David, Nadine, Daniel, Aaron, Elad

First plays for Daniel and Elad. The first game gave us +1 point for every card we played, which made smaller cards even more powerful. The second game saw us losing money down to the nearest $5 (when over $5), which slowed the game down. I think the low valued cards are still slightly overpowered, which is a slight flaw. However, the game is still great. Strange how my group seems to like it more than most others.

Tichu

Jon/Aaron 1020, David/Nadine 980

David and Nadine pulled ahead with a series of early Tichus, and it was looking bad for us. We were down something like 940 to 360. I then bid and made a Grand Tichu, with us collecting 100 points from tricks. Then we won 75 trick points to their 25. And then I bid and made another Grand Tichu and 85 trick points. A classic Tichu underdog victory.

 

More Puerto Rico

Techelet brought her friend Tikvah, who is also in the Beit Shemesh group.

Master Gallery

Yael 82, Aaron 76, Nati 72, Gili 70, Nadine 69

A light filler while waiting. I had played once at Gili’s. It’s engaging, but a lot of luck. I had the fewest card each of the four rounds because I didn’t get any that give extra cards and the others all did. Nati  pointed out that then I end up with more card choices, but he agreed it’s not worth it.

Puerto Rico

Tikvah 53, Techelet 47, Nadine 45

They had both played, but not in a while. They did things we don’t usually do, but I know things tend to work anyway because it’s such a great game. They both had factories so were crafting to get money, even if they had to toss 6 goods. Tikvah got a warehouse and a harbor, and a tobacco boat, and took a tobacco plantation so that Techelet couldn’t get hers going. I was the only with coffee, but after trading once took a ship. I had a harbor and took a wharf instead of the first big building, but they were way ahead of me in money, Techelet had two large buildings, and Tikvah had Customs House. A good game.

Year of the Dragon

Gili 112+, Aaron 112, Yael 98, Nati 89

A tough game, first play for Nati and Yael. At the end, Gili told Aaron that rice would give him an extra point over taking money, he wasn’t clear on the conversion ratio, but she said he can’t win by one point. He did, but then they realized he should have one less, so it was a tie. Gili looked up the tie-breaker – ahead in turn order. She was barely ahead, on top of his piece.

R-Eco

Yael 11, Nadine 9, Nati 5

Nati 18, Yael 8, Nadine -3

Yael was waiting for her parents to pick her up after the theater, I said they may as well wait inside. And may as well play a game, first  play for both of them. In the end her parents decided to go out to eat instead of picking them up, but we got to play R-Eco. They both liked it, Nati said he thought it would be different second time, but said there wasn’t really more strategy. I had good luck in the first game and didn’t dump so got 4 points, next game I had bad luck and Nati good luck, sitting in front of me. Yael calculated to end the first game at the right time when she’d win.

February 22, 2017

Participants: Nadine, Jon, David, Gili, Daniel, Nati, Yael, Noa, Aaron, Aviv

Aviv is a first-time attendee who found the group through Gili.

Five Tribes

Gili 157, Aviv 156, Noa 143, Yael 140

Gili taught this to some or all of the others. Good show for Aviv.

Tzolkin

Nati 69, Aaron 61, Daniel 6

First play for Daniel (and maybe Nati). Nati write that the gods of corn were good to him. Daniel’s poor showing was due to losing points from not feeding, apparently.

Seasons

David 175, Jon 163, Nadine 131

First play for all of us. Nadine started complaining immediately when the first attack card hit her. After a while she came around a bit, but is still skeptical. David was a little better.

We played without drafting, and as a result had some unevenly powered cards. But, in the end, it all evened out. I suspect that my good show was due to my realizing early on that extra cards are not all that difficult to put into play, and so they gave me multiple benefits. But I still lost to David, who had a nifty series of card combinations that gave him 90+ points in the last round (before counting his card points). I had something like 130 points from card, but it wasn’t enough (I also was the only one maxed out in bonus actions).

It is certain hard to plan when you don’t know the cards or game flow, but I already got the gist that strategy can play a big part of the game. However, as is pointed out online, there are a few drawbacks to the game. The first is that the teeny tracking boards are wholly inadequate; cubes keep sliding around. It’s total junk. The second is that some cards are really wildly different than others; the draft at the start helps with that, but during the game you have to top deck cards. This would be far better if four or five cards from the deck were face up at any time, with bonus points added on any that remain between each season. The third is that there are up to 25 or 25 card effects in play at any time, and they are hard to keep track of. Some kind of system would help here, to. A good game board would solve problems 1 and 3, and my solution above would solve problem 2.

Lo Ra

Jon 37, David 33, Nadine 28

I hadn’t played this in a while, so I picked it out instead of R-Eco. David had no score in the first two scoring rounds. I managed to acquire the best bidding tiles by round two and used them to re-acquire each other (for the most part).

Tichu

Jon/Aaron 1120, David/Nadine 680

David lost an early Grand Tichu, but we were still neck and neck until the last two rounds. Great game.

 

Feb 15, 2017

Participants: Nadine, Jon, David, Daniel Gili

Magic: The Gathering

Jon+, David+

I don’t remember much, but I took the first game easily and David took the second with difficulty.

Among the Stars

David 78+, Jon 78-, Nadine 68

Second play for each of them. We played without special powers. They are not that impressed with the game, which is a shame. My requirements from a game go down with the playtime, and the playtime is not high here, once people are used to how to play. But I guess it’s still a little long for them.

We ended on a tie, with David having more locations.

Puerto Rico

Jon 54, David, Nadine, Gili, Daniel

First play for Daniel. Nadine and David don’t play five player too often. I was first, followed by Gili, David, Nadine, and Daniel. I took a strong building strategy, while Gili and David were feeding into each other’s shipping. Nadine and Daniel also had some shipping, but no one had anywhere near my building points. I had two large buildings, including Guild Hall, and the last large building remained unbought. I had a tobacco monopoly for a few rounds at the beginning. I also had a Small Warehouse so that I didn’t fall entirely behind in shipping: I ended with 11 shipping points, to David’s 30.

Daniel did pretty well, although we kept giving him unasked for advice (often contradictory).

Dixit

David, Jon, Nadine, Gili, Daniel

First play for Daniel. Gili gave some of her clues in Hebrew (which Daniel doesn’t speak yet).