Tag Archive | alchemists

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Passover Games Day 5778

A busy games day, with most people staying the whole time. Thanks to those who came early and stayed late to help with set-up and clean-up – Nechemia, Assaf, Lior, Binyamin and Jon, who also brought an extra table and chairs; and to Gili for the pictures she took and for organizing the online dinner order. Quite a few close games, a crazy Tichu game, and even a few hands of bridge, and welcome to Lorenzo’s wife Sara. Game trend – titles that begin with the letter C. Played more than once: Crokinole, Oh My Goods, Tichu, Traders of Osaka.


Binyamin 27, Haley 21, Eszter 12, Gili 11


Nadine and Binyamin S, Jon and Binyamin

Binyamin really wanted to play, Binyamin S has never played so we walked him through. First hand I opened 3 spades with 7, Binyamin S passed, and Jon and Binyamin made game in hearts. Next games I bid and Binyamin passed, Jon and Binyamin went one down in 4 spades with Binyamin playing it, I had a strong hand.


Azriel+, Lorenzo, Binyamin, Eszter

Clans of Caledonia

Nechemia 130, Sara 120, Nadine 108, Assaf B 103

First play for the other three. We played with 4 points per all import goods, with no tracking or coins for them. I tried the delta clan, which did help somewhat, partly because being near rivers helped me get most settlements, and I upgraded to two lochs which I usually don’t do. Nechemia had the whiskey clan, Sara had double contracts, and Assaf had the one with the extra initial placement. Nechemia tied Sara for most contracts with 5, and had 72 in export good points. I had a lot of whiskey at the end that I didn’t have market tokens to sell, I should have done more market upgrades in the last round.


Eszter, Binyamin S, Efrat, Gili, Noam, Maria

They played three rounds.


Binyamin, Rosalynn, Nechemia, Yehuda K

Not Rosalynn’s type of game, not sure it’s mine either though I heard it’s good. Nadine S left to join Walnut Grove.


Jon, Elianna, Rosalynn and others throughout the day. Jon:  Crokinole, not too much play, but some fun play nonetheless. Binyamin didn’t take to it, and especially not the high price I paid for the game.

Deep Sea Adventure

Lorenzo, Binyamin S, Azriel

Dinosaur Island

Jon 79, Lior 77, Gili 74, Efrat 71

Jon complained a lot about the Hooligan mechanic, which adds total luck to a strategy game. It doesn’t have that big of an effect and the luck sometimes evens out, but annoying nevertheless, Gili likes it because it adds fun and suspense.

Jon: A game with somewhat confusing graphics, but straightforward gameplay. As I mentioned several times during the game, the game has a bunch of random and strategic elements, which are fine, but then ends with a luck draw out of a bag that serves absolutely no game purpose other than to screw some people instead of others (much like Thebes). In some games there may be a person or development that you can buy to mitigate it, but often not, and only one person would be able to do it. And there is no, absolutely no, purpose for the mechanic. It is as useful as simply rolling a die and handing out victory points based on the number you roll – actually, it is exactly like that. Remove the mechanic and the game plays EXACTLY the same, but far better. I like the game other than that. It’s a basic planning and allotment of resources game that works well enough with enough theme to color it.

Hansa Teutonica

Jon, Avi, Efrat, Lior

Jon: Enjoyed by all players. I didn’t take any of the instant circle bonuses, like I usually do. Instead, the game ended rather quickly as Avi and I spread a network of cities across much of the left two-thirds of the board. I had a boost from having 4 disks, while one other person had any, and only one.


Efrat 54, Lior 49, Gili 34

First time for all players.

Lewis & Clark

Nadine+, Lorenzo, Yokhay

First play for Lorenzo and Chaim. I’m starting to understand the game, first time I played with the rule where you can discard cards to pay equipment, we had missed it until now and it makes a difference. Fewer cards were bought than in previous games I’ve played, I only bought one, a 3, which helped, but my main advantage was it being their first play. Lorenzo bought the card I wanted at the start, but then gave me good advice. Lorenzo hogged the Indians, there were a few times where there were none available at all. We shortened the trail by 7 spaces to finish sooner, which may have hurt them with a stronger infrastructure.


Nadine S 44, Adrien 41, Avi 34, Elianna 33

New to all of them. Jon wanted to try this again, but after teaching it ended up trying Alchemists, which he also didn’t play in the end.


Jon 20, Binyamin, Binyamin S, Haley

Oh My Goods

Lorenzo 25, 24 Binyamin S 24, Eszter 21

Rosalynn, Elianna and Azriel also played.

Puerto Rico

Noam 54, Yael 50, Yossi 48, Maria 46, Assaf B 39

Rising Sun

Yael, Yehuda K, Avi, Binyamin, Yossi

Yael taught this, they played a long time but didn’t finish the game.


Jon and Lior, Azriel and Binyamin S played a hand or two earlier.

Avi and Nadine vs Assaf B and Yehuda Klein

First game
300 -100
600 -100
635 -35
935 -35
1100 0

Second game, which we didn’t finish
40 -40
100 0
405 -5

I called Tichu at least 3 times in the first game. Avi offered to switch partners after the first game, but they said no. It was mostly luck of the cards, though Yehuda K hadn’t realized he could play his 4 bomb over my 3 bomb. It might have stopped my Tichu but he couldn’t have gone out easily. I played something like the 1, 3, Queen, 3 bomb and a 7-card straight with the Phoenix.

Traders of Osaka

Jon, Lior, Efrat

Jon, Binyamin, Nechemia

Jon: It played well enough, but it’s just a bit too long for what it is, which keeps it from being a far better experience. There is often just a little more to the gameplay then there seems to be, however.


Nechemia 63, Sara 58, Assaf B 57, Rosalynn 33

New to all of them.

Walnut Grove

Nadine 29, Nadine S 25, Yochai 24, Elianna 18

First play for all but me. I lost 6 points on the last turn – I couldn’t pay 3 cubes, and only had 2 left – not enough to pay back a loan, so I had to take two Neighborly Helps and used a gold coin, but I had 3 bonus tiles which made the difference, two 2-point per bonus tiles for 12; Nadine S had 2 and the others one.


Jon+, Nechemia

Passover Games Day East – April 4

Jon went to visit David in Maale Adumim because David isn’t attending public gaming events while in avelut. Report by Jon:

David and I and two of his kids played Nefarious. We had the twists a) when you research, draw two cards and then toss a card, and b) you gain 1 vp for every 5 coins you have. Everything was pretty normal, until both of the kids got to 21 on one round. David had 20 and I had 19. So we went another round. Both kids had 22 and I got to 22, as well. The next round two people had 23. The next round two people had 24. The next round two people had 25, but I got to 26 and won.

We all played Tichu for a while, and my partner and I went very negative. We were -350 to 350 at one point. We stopped for dinner when my side was -170 to 570.

After dinner, David, Avi, and I played Lewis & Clark. Probably not the right game for David, even though he loves it. It’s a real analysis paralysis machine, as you know, and David took a long time on his very first turn. So did Avi. I was patient. Eventually, David got ahead of us, Avi eventually started playing faster just because he didn’t want to think too long, and we all make some of those famous mistakes, which is the point I think. David won several rounds ahead of any of us. They both enjoyed it, but agreed that maybe David shouldn’t play it.

bgg.con 2014 I play a two-headed snake

La Isla

20141121_103135Everyone was pronouncing the ‘s’, I would think it would be silent, like in isle. Another new Stefan Feld. Not my type of game, spatial positioning to coordinate with several cards and a cooperative track, one of my worst mechanics. Cute and interesting, but also light, and there’s luck with the cards and being able to get synergy. Quick and easy to learn, OK for a filler for most people. 61, 49, 48, 42, I think I was last. And red. Someone later said it has too much luck to be a good Stefan Feld game.


20141121_123159Another new popular game. Run by a demoer. He didn’t explain everything before we started, and didn’t help with strategy. The player before me benefitted by playing carnivores on the first round, but then lost everything when we all defended against them so she starved, which the demoer hadn’t warned her about though he knew it was likely. Almost completely tactical, and light, but good. You have to react well to what’s happening, such as choosing when to add new animals, upgrade, and use carnivores. Easy to learn, nice components. 76, 71, 49 (me), lower (carnivore person).

Betrayal at House on the Hill

20141121_141910I wandered around the big room looking for a spot in a game I wanted to play. They were looking for players for Betrayal on the House on the Hill, so I decided to try it. I had heard about it but never played, and I like playing games with more players. We waited a bit for more players, they found two more, for five total. One person had played before. The game is fun despite the gross event descriptions, the horror part is not close to how it is in newer games, and no Zombies. I was last in turn order. After I had taken two turns, the player before me triggered the haunting phase. It’s a cooperative discovery game until then, at which point one player becomes the traitor. Each side reads their part of a matching scenario related to the room it was triggered in, giving secret goals. The guy who triggered it would have been the traitor, but due to a tie in movement points, it went to the player on his left, which was me. And the next turn started to my left, skipping my turn.

So I had to be a two-headed snake. My objective was to place 16 body parts in different rooms and explode the house to win. Or kill them all. They needed to kill both my heads, with 3 hits each, and they could reduce my might once per head with a spell with the skull in the room. They also had a card giving them additional rolling power. They all dropped both of those cards before the next player’s turn so that they could all keep using them. It seemed like it wouldn’t take them that long to kill me. They figured out to try to trap me so I couldn’t visit new rooms, and I had bad luck by drawing two closed rooms. Nevertheless, it took them a really long time, and one died and some others were close. They had to spend turns powering up. The player before me had a Heal card which he kept using to grow in might and movement. I said that’s a really powerful card. At which point, he reexamined it and realized he could only heal up, not past his starting number. So that helped a bit. I rolled really well, which caused a lot of damage to them. But they did manage to kill me after about an hour. I should have sent one head downstairs because there were about 8 rooms there, and it would have been harder for them to attack as often because the body parts doubled their movement requirements. They were still affected by new room events, but I wasn’t. I had 7 unplaced body parts left at the end of the game. My favorite coop though I haven’t played so many.


20141121_185141I also got into a game of Alchemists. It hadn’t started yet, so I was able to select my color while I waited for people. I had downloaded the app when I read about the game, and there were cell phones on the table for use with the game. You try to create potions from ingredients to make deductions about ingredient composition. But to get points you need to publish theories before you have all the information you need. I didn’t realize how important theories were, though I did get some in. I also didn’t realize the penalty for undebunked wrong theories. I bought a 6 point Artifact card, but that wasn’t close to enough compared to the other players’ points for correct theories. So there’s only one path to victory – good theories, which does involve some luck, but also many choices regarding use of resources and gaining information, including from what other players are doing. Turn order has a mechanic similar to Fresco.

The theme is cute and interesting, you can test on a student or on yourself, with penalties for bad results. We spend a lot of time trying to line up cards correctly using different phones. Later I noticed that the app has the options of just picking the cards, which would have been much easier and saved time. It would be complicated to play on Shabbat, you’d have to prepare documentation in advance, and have an administrator who is not playing check potion results, the way you need to play if you don’t have the app. When we finished another group came to play and wanted help learning it, I volunteered to teach them. It was late at night by then and I was jetlagged; I couldn’t remember any of the game terms though that’s not so important. I realized later that I forgot to tell them that you start with cards, but I had also said they should look up some details that I wasn’t sure of, so I hoped they had noticed and played correctly. 32, 32, 17 (me), 14

Last year I had problems with my computer – the plug broke the first morning. This year my phone didn’t charge overnight. I had almost run it out, so I didn’t check that it was charging. While Skyping with Yona during lunch I tried a different plug which worked. So for the first day’s pictures I asked other people to use their phones, and I entered my email address to send them, but they didn’t all arrive.

Power Grid

Wandering around late at night I wasn’t sure I wanted to play anything, and didn’t want to deal with the big room. In the small game area alongside the library, I saw some guys reading the rules to Power Grid, so I played. They were locals demoing CCG games most of the day. They caught on to the mechanics, but not as much to the strategy. At the end, one player bought a 5 plant because he wanted nuclear, which brought him to 16, but there was a 7 using 3 coal available. It used coal which was scarce, there were only 4 left, but he was buying first. I didn’t say anything, his friend had already got him to switch from a 6 oil. I was the only one with 17 capacity, and had almost enough money to buy to 17. We tried two ways and it didn’t work, so I probably couldn’t have. I probably would have won next round. But they kind of conceded because it was 1:30 am and they needed to get up at 9 for demoing, and they weren’t staying at the hotel. Someone came by and said the new North America map made changes such as higher connection costs and is better, resulting in closer games.