Tag Archive | dominion: intrigue

September 16, 2015

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Aaron, Nisan, Eszter, Zev

Zev is newly arrived in Israel and will be moving to Haifa, but he came for this night and may come for some others. It is also nice to see Eszter again after an absence. Game night was back in my place after some renovation.

Two-Player Pinochle

Jon 275, Nadine 275

We played one hand while I refreshed Nadine on the rules. I won a few more points during melding with a set of aces, but Nadine pulled all of the trump (except the two aces) and I made a misplay so she won a few more points during the play. In the end, we tied.

Puerto Rico

Ship  build bonus total
Zev  18  21 12  51
Nadine 26  16  6  48
Aaron 26  19  7  52

Nadine writes: First play for Zev. I didn’t have good income, I took Harbor over Factory, Zev had Factory and Guild Hall for 8 and City Hall. Aaron had a Wharf and Harbor, and Fortress. Somehow I managed to get Customs House second to last round and man it last round , but at the cost of taking Captain for more points. Zev had Tobacco which I got later because I didn’t have Sugar. Aaron was in front of me with Coffee, but I took it because my only other choice was Indigo which I already had.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Jon 122, Gili 110, Nisan 94, Eszter 91

First play for all but Eszter who brought the game. I had played Suburbia before, and was interested in comparing it. I was set to knock it versus Suburbia, because the buildings are fiddly and oddly shaped, requiring us to keep moving them around on the table as we found ourselves without room to add on to our castle. Also it was not always clear when a room could fit or not without sheets of grid paper. And there is something inelegant and unthematic about the room process at the start of the round: I’m selling to you the same room you were just trying to sell to me, which makes no sense.

For all that, the game worked well, and I’m not sure which game I like better. The room process is silly but a nice mechanic; you have to figure out what the same room is worth to each other player. It could devolve into some analysis problems. The different shapes are supposed to make a prettier castle, which is nice for some people but fairly irrelevant for me. Any strategy comes in the form of the game end cards; the rest is tactics. Money had to be managed, but typically not too painfully. We still managed some surprises.

I made a bad rule interpretation, which I don’t do that often. The game was in German, and we had translations and a summary sheet in English. The summary sheet indicated that the purple building bonus was to score again the full building. This was first interpreted by someone as “score again the building that was played and that resulted in closing the purple building”, but I said it was clearly to score again the purple building, not the closing building. Someone then later said that the bonus is to score the purple building value plus the value of the purple building bonus given once for the closing, which I argued against as making no sense. Then we read the rules and that’s what it seemed to say, even though a) the summary sheet didn’t have that sense at all and b) it still made no sense (and required you to remember which building was used to close the purple building). Still later we realized that it was to score the entire purple building and all of its bonuses, which I finally admitted made the most sense and didn’t require any memory. We had to redo the scores about three times to account for each interpretation.

Gili was pulling in many game end scoring cards and, while she lagged behind me in points, she clearly had many game ending points. I was fairly sure she was going to beat me. However, on the last few rounds I pulled in 10 or more points on each round, even on the very last round where she placed the buildings and I only had 2 coins left. I used the 2 coins to buy the 2 cost building which had 1 coin on it. I closed a yellow building which gave me a free action and I bought the 1 cost building. In the end, Gili had 30 bonus points which brought her up to my score before I played my bonus cards.

Eszter was chagrined not to have won, but she is looking forward to playing Suburbia, which I would like to play again. Nisan also enjoyed the game.


Aaron 34, Jon 30, Zev 30, Nadine 18 (with 5 curses)

The cards were Village, Throne Room, Laboratory, Library, Secret Chamber, Steward, Torturer, Smugglers, Caravan, Outpost.

The others don’t play with cards outside the base set too often. Aaron started with a Torturer and then Zev took one and that card dominated the feel of the game. I took a single Steward and was fine taking and discrading curses all game, but I admit that it kept me from using the Steward to do anything more useful. My deck was trim and neat until I pulled two provinces, and thereafter I never saw 8 again. I had some Laboratories and Villages and a Steward and not much else. I used a Smuggler and Throne Room once to pick up two Duchies.

Nadine and Zev both got to 5 several times early (while I didn’t) but they never trashed cards. They both got at least two provinces. Aaron picked up 5 of them, and then 4 late estates for the win. Aaron did Throne Room Torturer several times. The game ended when a third pile ran out (curses, duchies, and I think villages).

May 24, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Adam, Valla, Binyamin

I had a conflict on Wednesday, so we switched to Tuesday. Adam can’t come on Wednesdays, so he came, bringing his gf Valla.


Jon 39, Adam 29, Valla 5

First play for Valla, second for Adam. It was perhaps not the easiest of all sets for new players, but there you go.

Kingdoms: Remodel, Council Room, Secret Chamber, Swindler, Minion, Trading Post, Tribute, Navigator, Loan, City

Lots of trashing. Lots of remodeling coppers into Secret Chambers. A few curses gained, but these were also remodeled. Valla had decent cards, but she didn’t use them to gain points until very late.

Adam bought two early five cost cards before either of us (Tributes), and also bought the first Province, forgoing his first jump to 8 for a gold. I took City and Council Room, then Tributes. Eventually I had two turns of 16+ with two buys = 2 Provinces. The first one put me ahead of Adam; the second one was pretty much game.

On the last turn, Valla finally got a turn like mine, chaining City’s and card drawing. Unfortunately, she played a Swindler. Adam turned over a Province, and he then took the last Province. Valla could only buy a Duchy.


Binaymin 72, Gili 64, Nadine 56

Fist play for Nadine and Gili. It took an awfully long time to explain the game, some 45 minutes. They were still going after we had finished both a slow game of Dominion and Settlers of Catan.

Settlers of Catan

Valla 10, Adam 7, Jon 7

First play for Valla, and as usual, the new player won. She started off with a strong road that cut the island in two; her Road Building card didn’t hurt there. No one else was going to steal Longest Road from her (at least, not easily).

Adam mistakenly places his initial settlements on essentially two resources – wood and wheat – and a 2 ore spot. 2 rolled up a number of times, however, and he reaped his ore.


Binyamin 56, Nadine 41, Jon 34

We play without the curses. Not much to say about the game.

November 29, 2010

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, Mace, David K, Binyamin, Rivka, Toby, XXX

Game night was moved to Monday night owing to Hanukkah and events thereupon. Binyamin brought his wife Rivka a little late. I was going to play a three player game with them while I played Power Grid with the others, but then Toby (friend of my daughter) arrived, bringing someone new whose name I forgot. Neither Toby nor unnamed had played in the club before, to my knowledge.


Nadine 48, Gili 45, Jon 31

Kingdoms: Bureaucrat, Feast, Steward, Ironworks, Trading Post, Nobles, Haven, Native Village, Bazaar, Treasury

No extra buys in the set. No one bought Bureaucrat or Ironworks. We all tried different five point buildings, with Nadine starting on the Treasures. However, we all moved to get Treasures ourselves, eventually. I bought the first Noble and the first Province, but my luck didn’t hold out well. We all pretty much knew that Nadine was winning.

Power Grid – Benelux

Nadine 13+, David 13-, Jon 12, Gili 11+, Mace 11-

First play for Mace, and I think all of our first play on the Benelux map (one or two of the others might have played on it once before). The different fuel arrangement doesn’t make much of a difference, and neither does the occasional extra green power plant, but cycling out the lowest plant each round makes a big difference. We all ramped up in power plants pretty quickly, with the exception of Gili.

I took a look at the board before the first round, slapped my hand on my head and said that David was going to screw me in round seven. Lo and behold, the game lasted seven rounds because David ended the game precipitously, leaving me with far less than I would have had had the game gone on one round longer. He ended the game with 15 cities though he could only power 13, hoping that Nadine wouldn’t be able to build to 13; but she could, and still had enough money left to win.

Mace, as new players tend to, played a lot of green.


Binyamin+, Toby, Rivka, XXX

Binyamin set this up and explained it to Rivka when Toby and XXX walked in. This game is a bit more complicated than I would normally inflict on new players, but that’s the way it rumbled. They caught on by round two or so, and I think they enjoyed it, though they did say it was complicated at the end.

Binyamin was counting out his money at the end trying to find a way to do more than tie for first, when someone pointed out to him a discount he could apply, which let him get an extra point without much difficulty.

I told them before the game started that they couldn’t get change from their money cards when paying for auctions, which I think was incorrect in retrospect. Anyone have the rules in front of them?


Jon/David, Mace/Nadine

We played a few hands. While he played Phoenicia, Binyamin coached Mace.

November 03, 2010

Participants: Jon, Mace, Binyamin, Gili, Nechama, Nadine

Still low attendance, though at least we have two simul games running


Binyamin 63, Jon 44, Mace 42

Kingdoms: Council Room, Coppersmith, Torturer, Trading Post, Duke, Harem, Embargo, Salvager, Ghost Ship, Envoy

A game without a single extra action, and nothing to buy for 3 coins except Silver, yet we were hitting 8 or more coins already at round 3. Binyamin’s third turn was Coppersmith and four copper.

When I saw Duke during the setup, I almost tossed it out; I had a bad experience with it last time and was pretty sure that I don’t like the card. Sure, everyone can buy them; but everyone HAS to buy them, which kind of ruins the fun of the game. The fun is to try to find the good combinations, not to force all players to go for the only one that dominates.

I left it in to give it one more try. However, the results were just as bad as last time. Binyamin ended the game with five Duchys and five Dukes and as you can see, that was enough to slaughter us.

We were skeptical about the worth of Embargo. However, with not much else to do with 2 coins, both Binyamin and Mace picked up one or two. All three were used on the Province deck, which made the Duke strategy that much stronger. If they were used on the Dukes, maybe the game would have been more interesting. Now that I think about it, that was really my main option for fighting Dukes.

I chose kingdoms based on my love of trashing cards. I took curses from Embargo and Torturer because I could trash them. I trashed golds to buy Provinces (when they only had two embargo chips on them). But it wasn’t enough

There were several attacks, but Mace’s single Torturer was the only one bought.


Nadine 40, Gili, Nechama

First play for Nechama. Nadine slaughtered them both.

Settlers of Catan

Jon 11, Gili 7, Nechama 7

First play for Nechama. I played this at the same time as Tigris and Euphrates.

I placed my settlements last (3 and 4), which is generally good, but the two of them took the only good wheat and brick locations. With a strong city strategy, I dominated some middle numbers. The 6 rolled far more often than the 8, which was good for me: I was on one 6 hex, and the robber spent most of the game on their 6 hex.

I had a setback when, without any access to brick, I traded four ore for a brick in order to fall under 7 cards. Gili rolled, putting me over 7 cards, and then Nechama rolled a 7. I lost half of my cards and then Nechama stole my brick.

I got Nechama to take longest road right before Gili could take it and win. Then I stole longest army from Gili to win.

Tigris and Euphrates

Jon 8/8/11/12, Binyamin 8/8/9/11, Mace 7/7/9/12, Nadine 5/5/6/6

First play for Mace. I played this at the same time as Settlers of Catan. It seemed to end up as my turn in both games quite often.

I played first and gave Binyamin a nice location for his first Trader. After that it was the usual game play. I built both monuments, taking only one point from each of them each round (and letting others take the other points). Ultimately, Binyamin lost because he had a shortage of red tiles during the game and didn’t try to fetch any.

Mace was also close to winning, as happens in this game. But we make the wrong decisions when we don’t know exactly when the game will end.

Mr Jack

Gili, Nechama

First play for Nechama, but I don’t know the results.

San Fransisco

Jon 34, Nadine 20, Mace 15, Binyamin 11

First play for everyone but Binyamin.

As I heard the explanation, my heart sank. The game appeared to be a straightforward version of “pick the highest number between 1 and 10; duplicate guesses are eliminated; highest remaining guess wins”. Which, as game theorists will tell you, means that the optimal solution is to play randomly.

To elaborate: The game board is a series of boxes (city blocks), and you bid to place your “roads” on the board. Whenever you have an indisputable majority of roads around a block, you win the points for the block: generally 4-6 points, but in two cases 10 points.

Each round you you blind bid some amount of “money 1” (cash) or “money 2” (influence), both of which run out but will be resupplied occasionally after a block is built. You bid to acquire the privilege of placing a road next to a 4, 5, or 6 point block. As is the nature of roads, by placing a road between two blocks (at least one of which matches the required type) you are staking claim to both of them.

Depending on the round, either the first highest bidder, or the first and second highest bidders, or all bidders, will be able to place a road. By highest bidder, I mean highest among those players who don’t duplicate their blind bid numbers. In some auctions, the auction is not blind bidding, but a standard circle auction where the eventual highest bidder takes the privilege.

Play until 12 blocks have been captured.

My fears were not only about the random nature of blind bidding (whose bluffing aspect is supposed to be strategic, but that’s really nonsense), but that there didn’t seem to be any sort of story arc to the game. Every round you flip, bid, place a road. I could see that as roads got placed on the board, more blocks would be likely to be captured in a round. Still, I was game to try once, to see if I was wrong.

I wasn’t entirely wrong, but I was a little wrong. There is a certain enjoyment – and frustration – out of being eliminated for bidding the same amount as someone else. Meh. As you get ready to close off certain blocks, the particular block type you need (4, 5, or 6) becomes relevant, and so slightly changes the stake you have in certain auctions.

But not really. In the game I played, on not one round was one particular auction worth more than another for me. If I needed to close a 4 block here, you could be sure that adjacent to it was the 5 or 6 block that would let me place the road, so that it didn’t matter one whit if I won a 4, 5, or 6 auction. Such situations did come up occasionally during the game for the other players, but rarely.

Furthermore, even if you don’t need the road this turn, placing it is sure to get you one road away from capturing some other block on the next turn, and also prevent someone else from placing it and scoring. Both money types were returned to you a sufficient number of times during the game that – aside from Binyamin who went broke – the fear of spending wasn’t a great obstacle.

So how did it all come together? It wasn’t as bad as I feared. I wasn’t bored due to repetition and a lack of story arc, since the game went pretty quickly and the auction variations added some interest. There was some light money management, and some light spacial considerations (generally there was a best place to play, but finding it could take a moment or two). I’d play again.

However, I won handily by playing every blind selection event during the game (except the last turn) randomly. I chose my influence cards randomly, I chose the block type bids randomly. I only played the standard auction straight. And I was never the worse for wear. Which proves my point: there is no strategy in “bluffing” games (not to say that some people can’t master the tactic of out-bluffing their opponent, but I don’t call that strategy).

October 27, 2010

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nechama, Nadine, Max, Sergei

Gili brought her friend Nechama, again. Although she doesn’t speak English that well, she is enjoying the games and the club.

It’s Alive

Nechama 57, Gili 42, Jon 38, Nadine 32

Scores approximate. First play for Nechama. I tried to manage my money well, but I drew very poor tiles for much of the first part of the game, which made life difficult. Happens sometimes.


Jon 78, Max 70, Gili 40

Scores approximate. First plays for both Gili and Max. Max said that he had never played a train game; however, he had played Ticket to Ride and Power Grid, both of which are train games in their way.

Gili started off poorly, and then sank poorer, hitting -7 on the income track at one point. It was as much as she could do to simply get back up to positive and end with a decent score by the game’s end. Most players with reasonable play and approximately equal experience should not fall so far behind during a game.

The bigger problem with the game is the kingmaking at the end, something I wrote about last time. Max and I were fairly close, with me clearly in the lead by a half a dozen points or so. However, if she had wanted to, Gili could easily have given the game to Max by moving cubes on his routes. This disturbs me greatly, because often you have to move on someone else’s routes, you have no reason to pick one player over another, and the decision determines the game. Bad.

I think I have a possible solution: points earned by someone else moving on your track can only be used to increase your income, not your victory points. If you are negative on the income track, you’re behind anyway; if you’re positive, you’re gaining 1/2 victory point per track used instead of 1 victory point, a significant mitigating factor. And the gain limits out at 10 income.

If this happened at the beginning of the game, it would be a significant advantage. But toward the end of the game, maxing out at 10 on the income isn’t as much of a problem or determination of victory. And yet, you still can gain something from someone else using your track. I’ll try this out next game.

The map we played on, the Eastern US, tends to favor a certain building pattern. I didn’t mind this, since the actual track paths are always so different, but Max thought this could be a problem. Luckily there are two maps included in the game, and several dozen others available to purchase or download.

I took the East, Gili started in the south, and we grew toward each other. With occasional rogue track placement in the other person’s territories. Max started out on the West and eventually merged south with Gili, north and then east and west back down the center of the board to merge with me.

We nearly ran out of player disks, and the game doesn’t say what happens if you do. Speaking of running out of things, Max was also annoyed at the rule that you can’t build a type of track junction if the tile isn’t available; and that it can become available by changing an area of the board that is nowhere near your construction. I think I agree, but I can’t see how to change that. Otherwise, he liked the game a lot.

Prince of Florence

Nadine 59, Sergei 58, Nechama 55

Nadine taught this to both of them. And it sounded like she pretty much played both of their positions throughout the game, so close game-ending scores is not a surprise.

Notre Dame

Sergei 69, Nadine 64, Nechama 50

Nadine taught this to both of them. as well. Same story. Sergei won with a heavy car movement strategy.


Max 29, Gili 29, Jon 24

Kingdoms: Remodel, Envoy, Courtyard, Masquerade, Baron, Scout, Haven, Native Village, Explorer, Tactician

A strange set, with lots of drawing and discarding. And a rare pull for us with multiple Seaside kingdoms and only one kingdom from the base set. All three of us made mistakes by reading trash instead of discard or vice versa on some card, or by missing that the Explorer puts the money into your hand: quite a powerhouse of a card.

I tried some combination of Remodel, Native Village (mostly for the 2 actions) and Masquerades, hoping to get some Explorers and so on. But Max pulled an early Tactician and two Provinces faster than you could bat an eye. Gili also pulled two provinces before I could.

We eventually all ended with four Provinces, but I had given away all of my other points (Masquerade, Remodel), while Max (on my right) had five Estates and Gili (on my left) had two Estates and a Duchy.