June 14, 2017

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, Yael, Haim S, Ben

Ben, my brother, made a rare appearance.

Parade

Haim 14, Nadine 18, Jon 19, Gili more

Hansa Teutonica

Jon 64, Yael 64, Haim 53

First play for Yael, who did very well.

It’s Alive

Yael 51, Jon 41, Haim 34

First play for Haim.

Trajan

Nadine 130, Gili 127, Ben 126

First play for Ben. Ben may have moved the wrong person.

June 07, 2017

Participants: Jon, David, Nadine, Aaron, Haim S

No game night last week owing to Shavuot.

Magic: The Gathering

Jon++, David+

We drafted and I ended up with a GWR deck. Unusually for me, a) I played only 15 lands, 5 of each color, b) I played 41 cards instead of 40. In addition to the lands, I had 4 cards that fetched lands (of my choice) or generated mana. Also unusually for me, I never had any mana problems, hitting 7 or 8 mana in all colors within the first 7 rounds in each game. David had some mana problems with his 40 card / 18 land deck in RGb. He played b even though his W was stronger, because he hates playing W. The only reason his W was stronger was because he negative drafted W cards away from me.

I had a few fliers (including a red 5/5 flying haste who gets shuffled back into your deck at the end of the round), some medium green creatures, and some boosters, with only three control cards (a spark jolt (1 point and a scry), a white card that buries a large creature, and a small creature that sends one of his creatures out of play until it (the small creature) leaves play).

In the first game, I brought him down to one point, and then he took out my creatures and generated his own until he won. In the second he struggled with mana a bit and I took him down. In the third, I brought him down to two points and it looked light it might be a repeat of the first game but I top-decked my red 5/5 flyer to win.

Princes of Florence

Aaron 63, David 54, Jon 53, Haim 51, Nadine 47

First play for Haim and maybe second or third for Aaron? David and I essentially copied each other’s early strategy, each taking a jester and a recruiter. Then he took two more recruiters and I took two more jesters. We both ended with no prestige cards and very similar results, as you see. Meanwhile, I encouraged Aaron to try a builder strategy; he took 3 builders and 4 prestige cards, none of them too expensive. In the last round, Haim, who had two builders, actually covered more spaces than he had, so he Aaron lost his last prestige card. However, he times his works well, taking the best work twice I think (at least once), and did very well. Haim did a mixture of about everything, with builders, landscapes, and a prestige card. Nadine also had two prestige cards, and played conservatively (spending as little as possible).

Nadine writes: Chaim blocked Aaron from getting the least empty spaces one, and blocked me from getting anything for my second one which would have been 7 for most landscapes, 4 for a tie, with 7 I would have tied David; Chaim got most lakes. I should maybe have bid more against him for a lake, but that would have just been a tie, and I would have lost one or two points from the money spent. 

Nefarious

Jon 20, David 18m Aaron 17, Haim 13, Nadine 11

First play for Haim. He keeps complaining that we are always playing different games, while he prefers to play the same game several times in a row so as to get the nuances. I sympathize with him, but I must say that I rarely encounter someone who is so good at picking up the rules of games as I explain them.. He always understands the rules on the first try, although he often checks certain rules out loud as we play (like a verbal reminder, I think).

Anyhoo, we played with the twists a) we all start with 20 instead of 10, and b) we toss down to the nearest 5 at the end of each round (unless you have less than 5). The first twist is pretty uneventful, while the second one radically changes how you play. You MUST place minions, or you have no hope of accumulating any money.

I drew tons of very expensive cards. I finally tossed them all out for some cash (the effect of a card), and when I drew again I drew the most expensive card in the game. It actually ended up helping me, because it was worth just enough points to get me to 20.

Tichu

Nadine/Aaron 620, David/Haim 280

Nadine/Aaron 310, David/Jon -120

I kibitzed the first game, tsking when Aaron called Tichu after Tichu (and then when he didn’t call Grand Tichu and he should have) and as he played his last few cards. David had some bad luck with his tichus. The I sat down to take Haim’s place, and David and I proceeded to have several hands of really bad luck, as well as a few bad plays (some of which hurt us and some of which didn’t). It was late so we gave up.

May 24, 2017

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak, Haim S, Aaron, David K, Nadine, Gili, Evan, Haim B, Josh

Yitzchak is an old friend who is visiting Israel and comes once every few years. Evan is Nadine’s nephew, visiting from northern California. He just graduated Berkeley and will be moving to Seattle, where he plans to look for game groups. Haim B and Josh happened to be in Jerusalem, one visiting from LA, one from Tel Aviv.

Slap Deck

Jon, Aaron, Haim S, Yizchak

I taught Yitzchak and Haim how to play. We played two quick games.

Nefarious

Evan 22, Nadine 21, Aaron 20

First play for Evan. They played while waiting for Gili and a new player to arrive; when two new players showed up they split into two groups of three instead of playing Princes of Florence. Twists: +1 point per card. And something about paying minions to invent.

Five Tribes

Nadine 171, Aaron 149, Evan 149

Nadine writes: Aaron helped Evan analyze in Five Tribes. Evan had 10 yellows when the 3 point djinn came out. Aaron convinced him to bid 12, and didn’t overbid him, but it would have been worth bidding 18 for a move where he got two more yellows and could buy the djinn. I had 7 cards and some good board spots, though not the most. Aaron ran out of camels which ended the game, I had 3 left. The cards stalled when I had 7; Evan had 5. Aaron was second in yellows, I had 5 whites at the end. I took money twice, and bid low and went last a lot, though we mostly didn’t bid a lot.

Notre Dame

Haim B 61, Gili 47, Josh 46

First play for Haim and Josh.

La Citta

David++, Yitzchak+, Jon-, Chaim S–

We played four rounds out of six. First plays for Chaim and Yitzchak, while David and I hadn’t played in a long time. Chaim got blindsided and wiped out when he lost a central city. This is a very punishing game that can wipe out your chance of winning if you are careless. Otherwise, you have to balance winning and losing. Early mines, which David had in plenty, are game-changing. Not surprisingly, the other person who had a fair shot of winning by the time we ended also had a good income. I had a very small income; although I understood the rules better and wasn’t entirely wiped out, I wasn’t doing anywhere near as well.

All of us had a problem with the card turnover. Often six or seven of the cards are useless, which means taking a mildly useful or useless card simply reveals a good one for the next player. Worse, some basic actions that you need to stay competitive or at least climb out of your hole (or at least keep you from being bored for the last hour of the game) are simply unavailable. There MUST be a way to gain people, at least temporarily, if the cards don’t show up for it.

We played around with a few suggestions for how to fix the card issue, and David’s seems best: put coins on unused cards (for some definition of unused. And always make buying people an option, I think. I will look online for some variants.

Nadine: You should have believed me, and we should have checked our house rules: Pay one coin to replace all cards.

San Juan

Evan 35, Yitzchak 34, Gili 34, Haim S 34

First plays for Evan and Haim. Gili removed the expansion cards before playing.

 

Tichu

David/Jon 605, Nadine/Aaron 395

We ended early since it was getting late. A lot of bombs and some interesting hands. On one hand, I called Tichu after David was down to one card. I would have made it if a) Nadine didn’t have 2 bombs, and b) David didn’t decide to just go out after I ducked Nadine’s first high card play after her first bomb: I had three cards left: Dragon, 9, and Dog. I was waiting for her to play a single card lower than the 9. David thought I was stuck and could not go out. Unfortunately, even if he had not decided to go out, I still wouldn’t have made my Tichu because Nadine had her second bomb.

I called and made a Grand Tichu on a round where Aaron also called Tichu (for some reason). And then he set David’s Grand Tichu on the following round. So we went up and down in score a lot.

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.

May 17, 2017

Participants: Jon, Haim S, David, Gili, Nadine

Hansa Teutonica

Jon 68, David 48, Nadine 36, Chaim 35, Gili 29

This was requested by Chaim, who first played it a few weeks ago. He is keen on playing the same game a few times in a row in order to get better at it. Nadine had played this once many years ago in Raanana and lost to me and didn’t particularly relish the memory, so she wasn’t keen on playing it. And David wasn’t keen on playing a five-player game, but he had won the last time he played (which was his first time). In the end, Nadine grudgingly admitted that the game was interesting and that she would play again, but not too often. And the game was a little slow for five players, but much better than many others, so I think David didn’t suffer. I retaught the game to Nadine and also to Gili (first time for her).

David and Gili both built up little networks again, but this time neither of them could get their key values greater than 2. David was the first to get to 3 and then 4 actions. Nadine and I were close behind. Chaim took longer, and Gili even longer. Chaim took a few bonus markers, one of which he used to remove three of David’s pieces. At the end, through all of our urging, he removed some of my pieces. His game was mostly to aim to get bumped.

I ended up getting two of the four end-game Coellen-Warburg bonuses, as well as the most bonus markers and the most controlled cities (at least one of which I gained from a bonus marker). Unfortunately, although Gili was clearly not my main competition, my city network was right near hers, so my gains were often at her expense. Gili nearly completed the full route between the two red cities; I’m not sure why she wasn’t able to complete it.

Tichu

Jon/David 1010, Nadine/Chaim 890

They had a series of good hands and took an early lead. Chaim failed to make an early Tichu call: being new to the game, he overvalued the strength of a hand with a few straights, which is a common mistake. He called and made two others, however.

David made a Grand Tichu, and I made one on the last hand in which we both went out first, which squeaked out a win (the score was 890 to 710 before the last hand). We didn’t have many bombs.

May 10, 2017

Participants: Jon, David, Aaron, Nadine, Gili, Haim S, Daniel Oshrat

Welcome Oshrat, to whom I didn’t get to speak.

Magic: The Gathering

David+, Jon

David drafted a slew of powerful green creatures, while I got a lot of cards that, in combinations of 5 cards, could give one of my creatures a +1/+1 counter. I wasn’t expecting to win. David claimed that his deck wasn’t all that strong, because he didn’t have a lot of great cards to go with his smackdown creatures. Right.

I lost pretty quickly.

Taj Mahal

Aaron 40, Haim 40, Daniel 37, Gili 33, Oshrat 25

First play for everyone but Gili. There doesn’t seem to be any tiebreaker in the rules. I don’t know what everyone thought of it.

Trajan

David 151, Jon 130, Nadine 115

Second play for me and David. The first time I played we played a few major things wrong, so this was my first play with the correct rules. The tactics in this game are so complicated, that I still feel like I’m playing a near total tactical game, although flashes of strategy peek through here or there. This must be what I felt the first dozen times that I played Puerto Rico, but more so.

I saw David mastering a few of the tactics, including taking and scoring several 9 point trajans and winning every vote in the senate. He also pulled 4 matching cards in his first 6 card pulls, which was ridiculous. I expected him to win by around 60 points, but he stalled a bit in the last few rounds, allowing me to catch up to only 20 points behind. I made that 40 point gain in the last few rounds, pulling ahead of Nadine who until then had been doing about as well as I was.

Nadine took most of the wild tiles, and was first to move in the military. I tried the x2 bonuses again, and all of them paid off to some extent: I got to use some of them more than once, but this required me to focus on getting bonus action tiles, so it’s kind of a constricted game play that pays off a lot once every few rounds.

May 03, 2017

Participants: Nadine, Jon, Gili, Haim S, Daniel,

We played at Nadine’s place, because we expected someone with low mobility to attend, but he didn’t make it in the end.

Coloretto

Jon 28, Daniel 27, Nadine 24

First plays of this simple filler game for Daniel and Nadine, Nadine already didn’t like it before she started playing. With the exception of Year of the Dragon (which I think has too many “negative” points), Nadine doesn’t like games with negative points.

Hansa Teutonica

David 39, Jon 37, Haim 34, Daniel 32

First plays for David and Daniel, second for Haim. I was last in turn order and I went for the “remove three cubes” bonus so that I could have a clearer path to my third action. All of us, except for Haim (who was third player), got to three actions quickly, and David eventually got to 4. As usual, the person with the most actions won, proving once again that you either get to the most actions or spend your game specifically fighting the one that does.

I got two out the three bonus points from the “points” city, while David built a large network and got to 3 points per house in the network. He was hampered a little bit because he never got past white spaces in the color track.

Tzolk’in

Gili 67 + 1/4, Nadine 67

A close game, with Gili winning by a single extra food worth 1/4 of a point. They played only two players because they were expecting two other people to show up (who never did) and we took the other four players.

Tichu

Jon + Nadine 1000+, David + Haim 605 +

First or second play for Haim. David and Haim began with a reasonable lead, and we all moved up slowly. David called Tichu for each of the first four hands, making 3 of them. Then I called a Grand Tichu which essentially caught us up, and then we got Tichu and both went out first, leaving us at 995. We tossed the game in when I went out first on the next round (with at least some points).