Tag Archive | cosmic encounter

February 03, 2016

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Nisan, Jonathan, Alan, Roman, David, Eszter, Gili, Francis, Binyamin

High Society

Nisan 20, Nadine 12, David 0, Jon -2, Jonathan X

First plays for all but me, third play for me. Nisan went a little crazy buying powerful cards, including two x2 multipliers, but Jonathan rescued him by spending even more. I ended up with the -5, a 4, and a x2, which did me no good.

Hanabi

Binyamin, Gili, Roman, Alan, Eszter

They started playing this but abandoned it to start longer games.

Cosmic Encounter

Jon (Seeker/Fungus) 5, Alan (Siren/Loser) 4, Binyamin (Void*/Mind) 3, Nadine (Philanthropist/Subversive) 3

First plays for Alan and Binyamin, and Nadine had not played too often. I also hadn’t played in a while, but I suggested strongly that we play this 4 player, which is best (3 and 5 are playable, but not ideal). I also played this, for the very first time, with the correct rule, which is that you can only attack a base of the player whose system you are attacking, and not any base in that system. It certainly speeds the game up, making it hard to get rid of foreign bases (unless you sacrifice a challenge to do so). But it also makes flares and powers that get rid of foreign bases more powerful.

We still played with many of my house rules: double powers, losing powers at 2/1 home bases, and others. We didn’t play with reverse cone, lucre, or moons. I strongly discouraged, but did not outlaw, purposely tanking your allies unless a specific card or power was designed for it.

It lasted about the right amount of time, and I think both Binyamin and Alan enjoyed it.

Princes of Florence

Jonathan 57, Nisan 54,Francis 46

Nisan writes: First play for Jonathan and Francis. Jonathan and Nisan had bidding war in last auction for a recruiting card. Jonathan went down two points to win the auction with bid of 1700 (Nisan had 1800, but passed and took jester). This allowed Jonathan to recruit from Francis (who’d played 7 works) and Jonathan played two works in the last turn for 37wv. In that last turn he advanced 27 prestige points (6card + 3best work inc) to win. I enjoy teaching that game to first timers and still having all be in competition by end of game.

Troyes

Roman 41, Eszter 37, Gili 35, David 25

Tichu

Jon/David+, Nadine/Binyamin

Binyamin didn’t really want to play this at the end, but Nadine and I did and David wouldn’t stick around for anything else. We forced him to play and Alan to learn (though he left after the first two hands).

Suffice to say that David and I toasted them. Binyamin started off losing a grand tichu (bid with the Phoenix, an A, and some high cards). Unfortunately, David passed him the dog and I sat after him to repeat the same things that happened last time we played: he had a high card and a low card, and I had the Dragon and many more things. The next hand David made a grand tichu (bid on the Dragon, Phoenix, 2 Aces and other high cards. He passed me the Dragon! The last card he played was the dog, hoping that I could go out second, which I did.

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April 20, 2011: Games Day

Participants: Jon, Gili, Lotem, Nadine, David 1, Ellis, Peleg, Zachary, Michael, Elijah, Abraham, David 2, Eitan, Emily, Adam, Vallah, Jessica, Diana, Max, Hila, Saarya, Noam, Aryeh, Ori, Yishai

I think that’s everyone. I got to play several games I really like but don’t get to play often enough with my usual regulars. It was a hopping, successful games day, with just enough chair and table space to go around, and only a little downtime for some people. Most everyone enjoyed their games, from what I heard.

There was one exception: one guy who appeared to be a lonely grandfatherly type showed up to play without the slightest idea as to why or what we play. He was, perhaps, the worst match for game playing since Dan Bosley’s infamous Misadventures in Gaming series. He was loud and talked continuously in bad Hebrew (he was an English speaker, and we were all (mostly) English speakers as well). He thought he was very funny when he wasn’t the slightest bit funny, ever. He kept accusing everyone, jokingly, of cheating, hiding cards, and being a shark. He wouldn’t listen to single explanation of any rules – deliberately reading unrelated game material while you tried to talk – and complained every turn about not knowing what to do or what the game was about.

He was the first person I was going to personally throw out of my house for being impossible; thank goodness he chose that moment to leave. After four excruciating games.

Note that it’s possible that I missed a game, somewhere.

Age of Empires III

Michael 84, Abraham 83, Gili 78, Elijah 74, Lotem 52

I almost started playing this game after teaching it to Lotem, Elijah, and Abraham, but them Michael walked in and wouldn’t have had a game partner. I knew Michael would like the game, so I told him to take my place and then gave him the quick run down as the first turn got underway.

At the end of the game, as they were packing up, Michael was down 14 points. he then asked if he was supposed to score these face down tiles in front of him that he had forgotten about. So it turned out that he won by a point.

Antike

Jon 8, David1, Ellis, Peleg

The last excruciating game played with the above described non-gamer. Ellis and Peleg appeared to enjoy the game. I started off as the Phoenicians, and, while Peleg and Ellis fought in northern Europe, I took a commanding and embarrassing lead.

Citadels

Emily 32, Eitan 31

They played together when they first arrived and were waiting for other people to free up. They like this game, which I don’t because of the Assassin.

They also took Gosu off of my hands, another game that only they liked (not that no one else liked it, it’s just that we didn’t like it).

Cosmic Encounter

Adam, David2, Elijah, Zachary, Vallah

I heard a lot of laughing going on in this game. The ending appears to have come down to a major kingmaking situation.

Dominion

In all of these games, only the base set was used.

Nadine 42, Ellis 36, Peleg 27, David1 23

Nadine says that this is the first time she’s really gotten the game. She was cycling she cycled through her entire deck several times as the game played.

Abraham, Nadine, Peleg, Ellis

They ended the game early, though it appears that Abraham had tuned his deck and was on his way to winning.

Jon 33, Max 29, Elijah 24, Jessica 10

We played with the same set that was abandoned by the previous players: Cellar, Chapel, Bureaucrat, Militia, Moneylender, Smithy, Spy, Thief, Throne Room, Library.

Note the lack of a 3 point card, the lack of anything useful in 5 point cards, the great amount of 4 point cards, and the great amount of attack cards with no defense. And note that many of the cards trash cards from your own or others’ hands, or force you to discard cards.

The result was a game where decks were shrinking nearly as fast as they were growing and we were constantly mixing. Max was already starting to feel a little burnt out on Dominion, and this was a particularly annoying set.

I had dumped all of my coppers and Estates and had just enough cash to buy provinces, but lived in constant fear that a thief would take away my purchasing power. I was very lucky; the thieves either got my little money, or no money at all, or I always bought a new Gold right after they trashed one of mine anyway. Still, I thought Max might be winning.

Elijah was the only one who bothered to take a Throne Room, and therefore was able to chain double actions. It didn’t seem to help him much, as he usually ended up with only 4 purchasing power after his chains, anyway.

El Grande

Abraham/Elijah 95, Michael 94, Nadine 92, Emily 85, Eitan 64

Abraham starts this, but then switched to Steam because a) he wanted to play Steam and b) Elijah didn’t and would have been sitting around waiting for a game otherwise.

After the first third, Abraham was in the lead by around 8 points. By the second scoring, the lead had narrowed to 1 point ahead of Nadine, the usual favorite to win.

Genoa

Gili 785, Eitan 700, Noam 690, Emily 550

Noam was rumored to be winning the game at around the half-point. This was the last game to finish the day.

Heroes of Graxia

Jon, Zachary

I wanted to try this game out for its first play, and I thought that Zachary would like it, since he’s more of an American-style gamer than a Euro-gamer (he likes some direct competition in his games). Yes, he did very much like the game. I liked it, too, though perhaps a bit less.

Unfortunately, we decided to stop the game around mid-way because we had messed up so many rules that the game balance was entirely off at that point. For instance, we mistook the price of the cards at one point, letting Zachary buy ten or so cards
at nearly nothing when they should have been 3 or 4 times as expensive (we mistook the toss-out value for the card cost). We forgot the defense value in our first two attacks, thus suffering about twice as many wounds as we should have. And so on.

First game is a learning experience, as I always say. I think I’m ready to teach the game for the next try.

So what do I think? Unlike Dominion, every card is available each game, but only certain cards are available to a player on his turn; you may buy a mediocre card only to reveal a better card which your opponent can now buy. So that’s bad. But, otherwise, the game looks pretty solid and enjoyable. Certainly for my opponent, who was looking forward to something with a little PvP. It’s VERY hard to figure out the right buying approach on your first play.

Homesteaders

Jessica 54, Jon 48, Ellis 41, Peleg 37

First play for everyone except me. I said a number of times, apparently, how much I like the game. I though I was doing pretty well, but I had had to accumulate 6 debt chips to do it. I was hoping to cancel most of them by the game end, but I was still left with 4. that was enough to sink me from winning.

The other three players all had piles of 4 or more trade goods (gold, copper, or cows) at the end of the game. I’m not sure exactly how Jess managed to pull off a victory; actually, I thought Peleg was doing better.

It’s Alive

Adam, Vallah, David2

Vallah noted to me later that she didn’t particularly like the game (I’m not sure if she knew that I was he designer).

Saarya, Noam, AryehĀ 

Zachary 49, Elijah 43, Jon 33

First play for Zachary. This was a quickly played game. I failed miserably, as you can see.

Key Harvest

Zachary 25+, Eitan 25-, Emily 22, Nadine 19

I’ve never played this, and I didn’t see how it went.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Adam, Vallah

Played when they first came and were waiting for others to free up.

Notre Dame

Nadine 73, Ellis 50, Zachary 43, Peleg 27, David1 26

Nadine administered a beatdown, I see. First plays for everyone else.

Odds and Evens

Michael 3, Elijah 1

Michael insisted that I record this one, so that it be known that he won something.

R-Eco

Nadine 11, Peleg 7, Ellis -1, David1 -5

First play for all except Nadine.

Rock Paper Scissors

Michael 3, Jon 2

See Odds and Evens.

Settlers of Catan

Gili 10, Jessica 6, Diana/Max 4

Diana started playing this as her first game, but she got bored of it. Max took over for her when he arrived.

Steam

Abraham 46, Jon 45, Ellis 43, Peleg 14

First plays for everyone except me. A tough fought game. Any one of the three leaders could have swung the game by transitioning from income to points one move earlier or later.

Peleg spectacularly failed to get his engine moving and spent too much time building his first links.

Tigris and Euphrates

Eitan 4/4/4/10, Nadine 4/4/4/4, Emily 3/4/5/7, Gili 3/4/5/5

Looks to have been a close game.

Tobago

Jon 44, Abraham 36, Lotem 29, Gili 18

One of the first games played, first play for everyone except me. Once again we played without the curses. I took this idea from Binyamin, and I think I will play this way from now on. The amulets are still very useful for chaining actions and for removing cubes.

Torres

Yishai+, Saarya, Aryeh, Oren

First play for everyone except for Saarya, and he hadn’t played this in a very long time. Actually, no one in the game group has played this for quite a long time, which is a shame.

The cards were in German, but I only had to field one question during the game, so the symbology was basically good enough after my explanation.

Tribune

Max+, Elijah, Jessica, Hila

They played the four player medium game where 30 Denari is one of the four required conditions. First play for everyone except Elijah.

June 23, 2010

Participants: Jon, Adam, Shira, Nadine, Gili, Elijah, Miriam, Abraham, Eitan

Welcome to Shira for her first visit. Shira lives in walking distance and has previous Eurogame experience, and so is a welcome addition. Hopefully she will return. Adam also doesn’t usually come anymore, since he works on Wed evenings, but he was able to make it for a one-off.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Shira (B)+, Adam (W)

Adam taught this to Shira, who picked it up quickly enough to win.

Fairy Tale

Nadine 46, Jon 42, Gili 37, Elijah 22

We hadn’t played this in a while, and we needed something light for three players. Elijah walked in as I was dealing, so he joined, though he doesn’t particularly like the game.

I thought I had kind of figured out some strategy for the game, but Nadine won anyway. She claimed that she played randomly, but I kind of doubt that. She just likes to say that when she wins.

Louis XIV

Abraham 42, Shira 39, Gili 38, Nadine 35

First play for Shira, and possibly first or second for Abraham. This is an otherwise decent game where I don’t particularly like the scoring system.

Cosmic Encounter

Elijah+, Jon, Miriam, Adam

Elijah always begs to play this, and I and Adam were willing, so I brought it out. First play for Miriam, whom we taught. First time teachings of this game in our house can result in disaster when the fanatics insist on adding multiple hidden powers, half the flare deck, weird destiny pile cards, and other such nonsense. I prefer to have the first game be quite limited: single revealed powers, 20 flares + the power flares, and that’s it. Edicts, Kickers, Reinforcements, and the rest of the exceptional card is quite enough for a first time play.

As a result, the game went fairly straightforward (nobody drew the wild Schizoid flare that was in the deck). I played Symbiote, Miriam played Grief, Adam played Will, and Elijah played Visionary.

Steam

Miriam 36+, Jon 36, Adam 34, Elijah 28, Eitan 24

First plays for Adam and Miriam. Another great game I don’t get to play often enough. It’s typically a long game, but the length usually occurs during the track laying and cube moving phases. For some reason, people took a really, really long time to figure out their role selection. As a result, the game took about three hours.

Adam and Eitan commented that a five player game is more brutal, with much undercutting of track space and stealing cubes, apparently more so than with three or four players.

In our games, we all crowded around the Connecticut coastal area before branching west. Adam and Elijah began building in the Canada area extending south, while I just continued north and central through Mass/NY.

I was the first to start churning out victory points. Miriam went to 10 income which I though was kind of a waste, but somehow she had a nice central route and just managed to match my score at the very end, whereupon she won on the tie. Adam was frustrated at one point that train power could not exceed 6, as he had a few 7 link routes he wanted to run.

In the end, we all had about 9 links.

San Juan

Abraham 35, Gili 31, Nadine 30

They played this to wrap up while we finished Steam.

October 04, 2009: Games Day

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K and Avraham, Binyamin and Zvi Yehuda, Ben and four kids, Roni, Michael and Elijah, Eitan and Emily, Mace and Shachar, Joel, Yosef, Saarya, Ori, Gili and Lotem, Yitzchak, Eliezer, Abraham and Sarah.

Avraham is David’s kid. Zvi Yehuda is Binyamin’s kid. Roni is here in Israel for a year. Michael is Elijah’s father, and has come to other games days and nights. Mace is a friend who plays D&D, used to play Magic, and has come to games day before, with his son Shachar. Joel is a friend of Roni and lives in the area; first time here. Yosef has come a few times before. Ori is a friend of Saarya’s. Lotem is Gili’s kid. Yitzchak is a former regular who moved to Beit Shemesh. Eliezer is a Beit Shemesh regular. Sarah is Abraham’s wife, and has also come on occasion.

We didn’t have a second sukkah this year, so games were played both upstairs in the sukkah and down in the apt. It was a fairly hopping day, and things went off smoothly, for the most part. The burger place even got our large complicated order correct.

Games are presented in alphabetical order, rather than the usual chronological.

Amyitis

Roni, Saarya, Gili Zvi Yehuda

I asked Binyamin to bring this, but I didn’t get to play it.

Antike

Jon 9, Mace 5, Shachar 4

Yay, I got to wipe the floor with two more newbies. Mace didn’t like the game after he found out there were no dice in it. Also, he kept trying to figure out why he couldn’t do several actions in a single turn, instead of having to use the rondel thingie. It’s timing threw him off.

I played unusually aggressive, built a large fleet and destroyed everyone else’s temples and cities.

Battlestar Galactica

Binyamin(Cylon)+, Nadine(Cylon)+, Joel, Zvi Yehuda, Abraham

First play for everyone. The Cylons won, revealed. I began sitting in as we tried to learn the rules of the game, but the rules were so complicated and so poorly organized that I ran out of patience. It took nearly an hour and we still didn’t know what was going on, and I hadn’t had my turn yet. So I gave my seat up to Joel.

The game looked interesting enough, however, and once they got the rules down, it flowed fine, I hear.

Bridge

Ben/Zvi Yehuda, Binyamin/Nadine, Mace

Some hands were played, with Mace joining at a later time.

Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers

Eitan, Emily, Levana

Levana, one of Ben’s kids, taught Eitan and Emily how to play. Apparenly not too well, and they reported that it seemed like she was making up rules as the game went on. They’ll need to try it again, I think.

Checkers

Saarya, Zeev

Saarya played Zeev, one of Ben’s kids.

Chess

Throughout the day, various people played this, generally the children. The Chess set is made of plastic figures from Star Wars Episode 2.

Cosmic Encounter

Ben/Jon+, Elijah, Eitan, Saarya

First play for Eitan, which explains why he let me win by inviting me to ally with him when it gave my my fifth base. I took over for Ben when he had to go out for a short while. Changeling and Filth were both in the game.

Binyamin+, Elijah, Michael, Joel, Abraham

All of the others had super powers: Vampire, Fungus, Void, etc. Binaymin won with Crystal while they were all fighting each other.

Dominion

Jon 27, Ben, David, Avraham

We started Games Day with this. The set included tons of powerhouse cards, including Chapel, Cellar, Village, Festival, Smithy. I Chapel’d away my three Estates on my third round, and bought four Festivals, the others got 3, 2, and 1 Festival.

When I won, they all complained that I won because of my 5/2 start, though none of the others took Chapel.

Ben 25, Jon 24, David, Avraham

So we played again with the same set, and we all agreed that each person had to start 4/3. The others took Villages and I took Chapel. And I once again began fine tuning my deck, first dropping three coppers, and then three Estates.

This time I didn’t get Festivals as fast as the others, but it still looked like I was winning. Turns out that Ben, with his Bureaucrat squeaked in a win with a final victory point. Beats me how he did it.

David, Ben, Avraham

They played this again later.

Ben, Nadine, Yosef

Played later in the day. After paying, Nadine declared that she doesn’t like the game, because other players can simply play your entire turn for you.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

Binyamin (White)+, Zvi Yehuda (Black)

Played as an opener. I think Zvi Yehuda hadn’t played before.

Magic: the Gathering

David, Roni

I was going to play Magic with David, but Roni ended up playing instead.

Jon/David++, Ben

Later, Ben and I took random cards and made decks. Mine was a killer deck with black creature kill, red damage splash, and white flyers and soldiers. Ben’s was less killer, shall we say, but did have that incredible Equipment that gains a +1/+1 counter every time its wearer deals damage, which is practically a game ended in and of itself (in fact, David and I won’t play with in sealed).

Even with my better deck, I only squeaked out a victory over Ben in the first game. David took over for the second game, and he had less problems, apparently.

Market of Alturien

Mace+, Shachar, David, Avraham, Zvi Yehuda

First play for everyone. Binyamin brought and taught it. I had never even heard of it.

Notre Dame

Nadine 58, Eitan, Emily, Jon 38

Played to end game night. First plays for Emily and Eitan. Emily was off to a great start with double park on turn 1. But Nadine’s cars and cube swapping powers swamped us all in mid-game. Just in round 6, I think she netted some 25 points.

Emily said that this was her favorite game, so far.

Pirate’s Cove

Gili, Lotem, three of Ben’s kids

Gili taught this to Ben’s kids.

Pitch Car

I asked Nadine to bring this as I figured correctly that it would keep littler kids amused throughout the day.

Princes of Florence

Ben 60, Eliezer 57, Mace 54, Shachar 48, Jon 47

First game for Mace and Shachar. Five players is a tight game, and the auctions were difficult. I thought I wasn’t doing too badly, but I had to go back 5 points for get a second Jester that I desperately needed. Ben won nearly every game today, I think.

Puerto Rico

Yitzchak 44, Nadine 42, Yosef, Ori

First play for either Yosef or Ori, or both. They scored 39 and 35. Close game.

R-Eco

Zvi Yehuda, Avraham

Played somewhere in mid-day.

Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm

Abraham+, Elijah, Michael, Saarya, Ori

First play for most of the others. Abraham is nearly unbeatable at this, having played several hundred times online. This was played early in the day.

Abraham+, Elijah, Eliezer, Yitzchak

These guys played this near the end of the day.

Eliezer+, Elijah, Abraham, Yitzchak

And then they played again.

Yitzchak 49, Abraham 41, Elijah 39, Eliezer

And again.

Abraham, Elijah

And again. This time without the expansion, I believe.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Michael 3, Jon 2

An exciting game of this was played toward evening. I began with Rock, forgetting that that’s an all too common opener. It still beat Michael’s Scissors.

Then I did Scissors to his Rock. 1-1. After that things got tense for several milliseconds. We both did Scissors, and then I did Scissors again to Michael’s Paper. 2-1 for me. I did Scissors again to Michael’s Rock: 2-2.

We then tied again Rock to Rock, and finally, Michael brought out a Paper to my Rock, clinching a hard-won victory of 3-2. Close game, though.

San Juan

Nadine 41, Elijah 39, Roni 38, Eitan 36

Played as a games day opener, first play for Eitan and Roni. Ron had previously played Puerto Rico, however.

Shadows Over Camelot

Elijah (Traitor)+, Yosef, Saarya, Roni, Eitan

Amusingly, this was being played at the same time as Battlestar Galactica, occupying both tables in the sukkah.

Yinsh

Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda

Binyamin taught this to Zvi Yehuda, but they stopped in the middle.

August 12, 2009

Participants: Jon, Binyamin, Tzvi Yehuda, David, Avraham, Moshe, Har-El, Miryam, Elijah

Binyamin brought his son Tzvi Yehuda, and David brought his son Avraham and two nephews-in-law (or something like that) Moshe and Har-El. Meanwhile, Miryam is a first-timer who had played Settlers of Canaan somewhere and was told by her relatives that she should check out our group.

Tonight’s session was somewhat disorganized, owing to my being home late from checking my daughter in to the hospital in preparation for a tonsillectomy, and owing to having asked Binyamin to check out my mezuzah’s, which I then had to reattach to all my doorposts during the first twenty minutes of game night.

Dominion

Binyamin, Elijah, Tzvi Yehuda, Miryam

First play for Miryam.

I set everything up and was all set to take my first move, when Binyamin told me that I had to put the mezuzah’s up right away. I grumbled, but I took a Silver and then put my cards down. David Klein then played for me after he walked in. He took Throne Room (the card that let’s you double an action), and then put the cards down. Then Binyamin picked up my cards to finish the game.

Unfortunately for him, Silver and Throne Room are two ridiculous cards to take on the first plays, and he spent the next five rounds playing catch up. Miryam liked the game.

Jon, David, Binyamin

And we played another game of this later in the evening, to close game night. David started slowly, but was eventually drawing his entire deck each turn (Throne Room and Smithy, Village, Festival) [DK: What makes this more impressive is that the deck had over 30 cards in it and I still pulled the whole thing!]. Binyamin is the first to play the Black Market. His most important purchase was Witch, which gave him the game. That’s probably always going to be the best result of Black Market.

R-Eco

David, Avraham, Har-El, Moshe

First plays for Har-El and Moshe.

Cosmic Encounter

Jon, Moshe, Har-El, Elijah

Elijah., as usual, pestered everyone to play Cosmic. I thought it would be a decent choice for Moshe and Har-El, but I was wrong: a) Har-El didn’t read English too well, though he spoke it well, and b) Har-El’s disconnect between what he wants the rules to be and what the rules are prevented him from grasping the rules. So he constantly tried to put more tokens in the cone than he was allowed, played extra cards, give cards to other people, make unbind-able deals, and so on. He found the game overly complicated. Can’t argue with that.

We played one power each: Mind, Ghost, Prophet, and Crystal. Prophet was the strongest power, so Elijah got ganged up on early.

La Citta

David, Miryam, Avraham, Binyamin, Tzvi Yehuda

David taught this to Binyamin, as he wanted to learn it. First play for everyone but David.

I’ve had a good time every time I played this, but acknowledge that there are some problems with the game: the luck of what cards are available on your turn, and your dead cities that feed people to other people’s success. These haven’t bothered me terribly, and I imagine that there is some way to fix the luck of the card draw, if we decided it’s necessary.

Unfortunately, these guys really weren’t happy with the game, owing to the above problems. So much so that they unanimously decided to abandon the game half-way through.

Taluva

Jon, David, Binyamin

I taught this to David and Binyamin. It’s a decent filler, very spacial and calculating. Not too many rules, but I always forget one or two important ones when I teach it. šŸ˜®

Furthermore, there are a few rule problems that come up every time, such as can a temple be used to join two small settlements, ending with a settlement large enough in which to play a temple? Can you split a settlement such that a temple remains alone? And a few others like this.

I have to make rulings on these issues each time we play. Otherwise, I find it to be a fun abstract game with a little luck in the tile draw (which can be solved with a pool of available tiles, and upcoming tiles visible).

Winner’s Circle

Elijah, Tzvi Yehuda, Avraham

The younger ones played this to round up game night.

June 10, 2009

Participants: Jon, Elijah, Nadine, Ben, Max, Abraham, Gili, David K

A few early birds showed up and started playing in the living room. The flow of games that were played confused me; I’m hazy on anything played in which I didn’t.

Mr Jack

Nadine, Elijah

Nadine re-taught this to Elijah, but she wasn’t interested in finishing it as other people came in.

Dominion

Max 32, Jon 30, Abraham 27, Ben

First play for Ben, who didn’t manage to find synergy (or, in his words, had very bad luck).

Thief was in the game, as was Festival, Feast, and Library, all of which should lead to the Festival-Feast-Library and no treasure strategy. Abraham headed that way, but he got there by means of Remodels. Somehow he got the synergy going too late, though it was doing nicely at the end.

I did something of the same thing, but I also added some silvers and golds. I lost a silver to an early thief, but as the game went on, thieves are used less which made the treasures safer bets.

Max used thief and Gardens to rack in coppers. He only made it to 30some cards, but it was still enough to squeak out a victory. For one thing, his point accumulation started earlier than ours did.

Ben tried a thief without success. He managed to get an early Province, but then his two silvers were stolen by Max and he never recovered.

Boggle

Gili, Nadine, Elijah

Meanwhile, these guys played this quick filler while waiting for David to show up.

Tichu

David, Gili, Elijah, Nadine

When David showed up, we only had ten minutes left to Dominion, so they played a hand of this.

Agricola

Jon 50, David 42, Nadine 35, Max 35

First play for Max. Max requested to play this, as he had bought a copy and hadn’t been able to get it to the table where he plays, fearing that it would be too complex. After playing, he realize that he was right; he liked the game, but it’s too complex for his group.

David complained early on about how poorly he was doing, as usual, even though Nadine and I saw through him. He was also convinced that my few early occupations (gain a vegetable when I take one of the food spaces; add two items when I sow) put me majorly in the lead. I admit that they were decent.

However, I gained nearly twenty points in the last two rounds. If two of these had gone awry, or one of them and David achieved some other sudden coup, the end would have been different.

In my last rounds, I added my fifth clay room (+1 for the room, +2 for a minor improvement that gave me +2 for a five room house), converted to stone (+5), played an occupation that gave me an additional +1 per stone room (+5), solidified having the most/tied for most number of occupations (+3 due to an earlier played occupation), and gained a wheat (+2).

David thought he stole back the most occupations on the final round, but he hadn’t noticed that I played one on the penultimate round as well, so he only tied him. This gave him +3 as well, but didn’t prevent me from getting my points.

I had my vegetables and a stove, but I usually had to take at least one action before each harvest to ensure I had enough food. David had fantastic wheat and baking running at mid-game, and so didn’t need to worry about food the second half of the game. he also had a pasture with a bunch of each type of animal (minor improvement let him mix animals). Unfortunately, he was exactly one animal short of 3 points in each one.

Nadine expressed dissatisfaction with the artificial limitations of points for animals and produce and so on, as well as how 1 sheep is the same as 3 sheep, but different than 4 sheep. This leads to all sorts of annoying calculation that shouldn’t be necessary.

Nadine spent a very long time calculating on round 12 and 13, and in the end it didn’t matter that much. Max had good pastures, produce, and animals, but his house and bonus points were small.

Cosmic Encounter

Elijah+, Gili, Ben

Elijah always like to play this, and I thought it might make Ben happy to play something he’s familiar with. He still lost, though.

This was Gili’s second play, but had been so long since her first play that she had to relearn the game. She hadn’t been too impressed with her last play; this one she enjoyed somewhat more.

Ben played Void and something, Elijah Machine and something, Gili Visionary and something.

Traders of Carthage

Gili, Ben, Elijah

First play for Ben, and probably second or third for Elijah. Ben enjoyed this game which is weight-wise on par with R-Eco.

May 13, 2009

Participants: Jon, Hershel, Nadine, Abraham, Bill, Max

All regulars. Nadine is off to the US for two weeks after tonight.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Jon++, Hershel

I taught this to Hershel. In the first game, he played black. Already near the beginning of the game it was fairly clear that he wasn’t doing too well. Black typically kills a number more characters than white. In my case, Gimli killed the Orcs, Boromir took out Sauron, and Gandalf killed something like 5 black pieces as he stormed into Mordor. Black had one piece left to my five, with no chance of finding Frodo.

We switched it around. Gimli still killed the Orcs (on the third move, or something), but his Gandalf only managed to kill one or two dark pieces. After half the cards were gone, the Black Riders rode from Mordor nearly all the way into the Shire and began picking off the weaker characters. Finally he came to the Shire and found Sam, Frodo, and Legolas. Sam tried to save Frodo, but the Black Rider killed them all, and that was that.

Stone Age

Jon 198, Nadine 187, Hershel 152

Hershel brought his copy. This was my first play.

Stone Age is a worker placement, resource management, and set collection game. It artistically and mechanically resembles Pillars of the Earth very closely, but it’s a bit lighter. Instead of paying taxes, you have to pay food, which requires a bit more effort.

There’s no master builder phase. Instead, the big gimmick here is that the number of workers you put onto an area determines how many dice you get to roll to see how many resources you collect from your location. There are 5 things you can collect, each numbered 2 to 6. When you try to collect the resource, you roll a number of dice equal to the number of workers you allocated to the collection area and then divide the number you rolled by the number of the area, rounded down. For instance, food is 2; if you roll a total of 11 in the food area, you’ll collect 5 food. Gold is 6; roll a total of 11 in the gold area, and you’ll collect 2 gold.

Therein lies my first and major problem with the game. Dice. Over the course of the game, dice will kind of even out, but not entirely. And the type of decisions you make seem to be full of strategy, but in the end your success is pretty random. There’s no trading resources to make up for bad rolls, as there is in Settlers of Catan.

See our final scores? Would it surprise you to learn that I rolled the best, Nadine rolled slightly less well, and Hershel rolled poorly? There you go.

The winner is the one with the most victory points. You gain points in two major ways:

1) by collecting action cards which are available each round. Each action card has a cost of a few resources, gives some immediate benefit, and also gives a point bonus at the end depending on what else you collect. For example, some give you a certain number with which to multiply against the value of your automatic food production at the end of the game. If you get three cards of that type with 2, 1, and 1, and your food production is 8, then you gain a bonus of 4 times 8 at the end of the game.

Some of the cards just have symbols, and you get the square of the number of different symbols you collected in bonus points at the end of the game.

2) by collecting bonus tiles. Each bonus tile requires a certain combination of resources, and gives a bonus in victory points equal to the number value of the resources required to buy it. For example, a bonus tile that requires a gold (6) and two bricks (4 each) to acquire gives a bonus of 14 points when you buy it.

There are ways of increasing your food production (so you pay one less food per round), tools (so you can add to your dice rolls each round), and number of workers (pay one food per worker each round or lose 10 points for each unfed). And each resource area, other than food, only allows 7 workers per area, so occasionally you may be locked out of a particular area (which rarely makes any difference).

The game ends when either the cards, or one stack of bonus tiles runs out. One player can rush the game end by buying tiles from a single stack. That’s not unfair, but I don’t really like that mechanic too much.

You basically decide to concentrate on one of the few sets to collect. If two people go for the same set, you’re both probably screwed and someone else who is trying for something uncontested will win. In our three-player game, we were all acting pretty independently, but people will probably clash more in a four player game.

The master workers drawn from the bag in Pillars of the Earth supplies a tad too much luck, but it’s not in the same category as Stone Age. Planning in PotE is more rewarding and more interesting than in this game. But this game is still a decent game with ok mechanics. If a certain strategy is known to be dominant, this will balance out because more than one player will be trying to get it.

I would be much happier to play the game without dice: with dice rolls available for purchase with workers (roll 12 dice, and let players buy the dice rolls with their workers each round) or with each player drawing a random set of how many resources are available to them or to everyone each round, or some-such. Dice. Shudder.

In our game, I estimated the value of the cards versus the tiles and decided against trying for the card collection sets. Instead I took only cards that gave bonuses for the number of tiles you had (and some for the number of people you had), and then took 8 tiles. This gave me the regular points from the tiles and additional card bonuses for the tiles. And I rolled fairly well.

Nadine and Hershel each had a complete set of the card symbols (64 points each, or 8 points/card). Nadine also farmed a lot of gold with a lot of people and took a few tiles that netted her some 40 points for each one. Not enough.

Dominion

Abraham 54*, Max 34, Bill 16

First play for both Bill and Max. Abraham taught the game using the standard introductory set of cards. But he played the Villagers incorrectly, effectively playing them without using up actions to do so, and ending up with far too many actions than he should have. Bill noticed this mid-game. So his final score doesn’t really count.

I receive the two BGG bonus kingdoms in the mail, but we haven’t played with them, yet.

Cosmic Encounter

Hershel 4, Nadine 3, Abraham 3, Bill 2

Bill hasn’t played this since 1991, and this was the first play for Hershel. I tried teaching Max, too, but his head wasn’t into it. Too late, too complicated, and too crazy.

Hershel played Anti-Matter, Bill played Bully, Abraham played Vampire, and Nadine played Vulch. I don’t usually think of Anti-Matter as very strong, but everyone else did, and he won (they played to 4 bases).

Traders of Carthage

Jon+, Max

First play for Max, first two-player play for me. Everything went along docilely for some time, and no ships were pirated after scoring until mid-game. At that point, I managed to score a 5 point ship alone, and then shortly afterward a 6 point ship alone, at which point Max resigned. He was too tired to be playing anyway.