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Solamente Espana

El Grande

Haim 20, 45, 73; Nadine 21, 48, 73; Israel 14, 40, 71; Eliezer 12, 32, 67; Gili 13, 37, 57

First play for Eliezer and Israel, who are high school seniors at Mekor Haim. The did very well at catching on and improving, they got the most points in the last third. Haim has played a few times, but not as much as Gili and I have. Gili was attacked once or twice for no reason, the game is fun and interactive.


Nadine 64, Haim 62, Gili 51, Israel 40

First play for Israel and Haim; I played a two-player game once. The game isn’t very interactive and feels a bit like work. And there’s luck, I went first and last on the last round, there was a die left that let me complete a row for five points.

September 27, 2017

Participants: Jon, Haim, Nadine, Lorenzo, Noam, Chaya Bluma, Eli G

First time attendance for Eli, a young lad who lives in Har Nof. Also first time for Lorenzo, although he came previously to my house to play on shabbat.

Glen More

Lorenzo 67, Jon 60, Haim 52, Nadine 39

First play for Haim, second for Lorenzo, second (and probably last) for Nadine. This is not Nadine’s kind of game, as all of the decisions are spatially based.

Lorenzo enjoyed it, and I like the game a lot, although I admit it’s better after you have played a few times to get the feel of how it works. Haim took to it well, although he ended up taking too many tiles.


Chaya Bluma+, Noam

First play for both of them, both of them really enjoyed it.

Noam+, Jon

We played a game later in the evening. I started out winning. But my second disk removal gave him his first, and then he sneaked in two more, the last right before I would have taken off my third.

El Grande

Lorenzo 133, Nadine 125, CB 109, Haim 96

First play for all but Nadine. Nadine may have met her match, since Lorenzo is a nuclear physicist who seems pretty on the ball. On the other hand, Nadine claims that her winning streak is in five-player games [ed: not true]. Everyone enjoyed it.


Jon, Noam, Eli

First play for both of them. Eli arrived late and had to leave early, and I thought we could finish this in an hour, but they decided to try to scheme to see how to take me down (which I encouraged). They didn’t succeed at it, but Eli had to leave before the game was over, so we’ll never know.

Part of the reason it took so long is that they kept trying to do things that the rules did not allow and then kept expressing a desire that the rules would be different to allow them to do these things. That’s the game!


Jon+, Noam

I had a shutout over Noam.

Slap Deck

Noam+++++, Jon

Noam won five hands straight against me, earning a combined total of over 100 more points than I earned.

October 28, 2015

Participants: Jon, David, Nisan, Nadine, Binyamin G, Gili, Roman

Fairy Tale

Nisan 54, Jon 48, David 40

David and Nisan arrived a little early, so I tried this on them with only the basic cards. Using only the basic cards is necessary in order to have a hope of obtaining combinations, but the game is a bit flat. The special cards make the game less flat, but make the combinations more difficult. Perhaps picking from 6 and playing 4 would be a better game experience (instead of picking from 5 and playing 3).

First play for Nisan.

Bora Bora

Jon 154, Roman 135, David 131, Gili 113

First play for everyone except for Gili. Gili was slightly ahead of me and then slightly behind me until the final counting, whereupon both David and Roman shot ahead by finishing their last three missions. I shot ahead with bonuses in both buildings and jewels, as well as a strong island showing.

Bora Bora seems, after one play, to be, like Caylus and Die Macher, a well-balanced game that works, but is too complicated for its own good. It’s one thing to have 5 or 6 different interlocking mechanics, but this one has upwards of 15 of them, and only some of them make any thematic sense. The goods and buildings mechanism is the most strange, and the forced arrangement of storing goods the most unnecessary. So is the division between people into men and women. A few other games inhabit spaces close to this, such as Agricola, but somehow Agricola’s tight, sensible theme and limited decision mechanics squeaks it through.

In Bora Bora, you get 18 actions during the game plus any actions on the people you acquire (up to two, one man and one woman). The actions are three dice to assign to seven different action options in each of six rounds. The value of your action is the value of your die (so higher is better), but you can only use an action if your die is less than the value of any other die already place on that action (so lower is sometimes better). But “gods” (we called them “dogs”) you acquire can let you get around that, but only if you also have offering tokens to use with them, unless you got a free dog action by having the highest priest value last round …. etc. Forget it, it’s too complicated.

It was fun, because the game worked, there were many strategic paths, and the decisions were harrowing. But it was painful, because every move by every other player locked away actions that you desperately needed, so you watched your plans crumble, sometimes before you got to take a single action. I suppose that is true for every worker placement game; and even in this game, there is sometimes (but not always) a way to do something the long way that you couldn’t do the short way. I’m not sure yet. Perhaps experience will soften the frustration. One more thing: as typical with dice rolls and card flips, just a bit too much of one’s ability to progress is determined by how the order of the card flips favors one player over another.

Before my first turn, I decided to take the bonuses in buildings and jewels, and that’s what I did. In order to achieve this, I was required to take 5 people, build 6 island spaces, and place 3 priests. I fulfilled 7 missions. Gili was sure that fulfilling 9 missions was the way to go, and that is what she did in her previous 4 games. In this game, either through the odd order that people and missions turned up, or through fierce competition, she was thwarted in every direction. Roman collected several items to move him up in turn order, but he only achieved full success in that starting from mid-game.

Update: It turns out we missed a scoring rule: you get 6 points for filling up your building space (with buildings or with goods) and ANOTHER 6 points for using all of your buildings. This means that using all of your buildings automatically nets you +12 points (since it also fills your building space). So I actually have 6 more points. Similarly (although this doesn’t apply to any of us for the game we played) you get 6 points for using all of your huts and 6 points for filling all of the spaces with people; if you did the latter, you had to have done the former.

El Grande

Nadine (56  75 102) 157, Binyamin G (63  69 104) 151, Nisan (53  59 88) 142

First play for Binyamin and Nisan, who foolishly asked Nadine to teach them El Grande. Nadine writes:

Second number is just before second scoring to show I was ahead. Nisan took Score first place in all regions early on. Special scoring was taken most rounds, Intrigue was taken more often than I expected – these guys were willing to think. I scored first place in the three 5 regions twice with special scoring. Binyamin G was good at remembering what was in the Castillo, except the last round. They discussed card selection and move options extensively, partly because they were both new to the game. We placed all our Caballeros, except Binyamin G had one left.

Star Realms

Nadine +, Binyamin G

First play for Nadine. Nadine writes:

Binyamin G taught this game, which is similar to Thunderstone but simpler. You start with 50 life points, and buy cards and attack. I had over 20 points when I killed him. It’s nice for a quick two-player game.

Rules re ranks

Mace arrived in Israel today from Australia via NY and Barcelona among other places, Shachar’s Masa Kumta is tomorrow, then he’s starting a commander course, he’s in search and rescue. Bill and Shirley returned from a wedding in the States and are off to China for another wedding, they’ll be back for games day. Lior is going to the States for Sukkot.

El Grande

20141001_201653Gili 98, Lior 98, Mace 97, Nadine 95, Bill 71

Very close at the end. Lior did a good job, his first play. I made several mistakes including one which gave Gili a lot of points first round. A few mishaps and rules issues – if there are ties for both first and second place, does second place score. After a lot of discussion, we finally decided no, and moved people back for previous plays. Mace knocked over the castillo, fortunately at the beginning of a round with few pieces in it, but it disturbed the board. I had taken a picture of the score after the second scoring round, so we each scrutinized it to determine the colors and number of cubes in the regions, with the king blocking some.

At the end of the second scoring round Gili and I were tied for first place, so we got attacked more, though Mace (brown) and Lior (yellow) were close behind. Lior had a large majority in Valencia with the high mobile scoreboard, then Mace took it to his province of Galicia. Mace also controlled a round with a veto. We had several choose regions to move to in the 8th round, everyone went into my Seville region. Per our house rule, we replaced the ‘take back a power card’ in the last round, though the card that came up, ‘move you grande’ wasn’t so useful either, but at least could have been.


Rain and Spain

Eszter, Gili, Roie, Shalom, Nadine on a cold stormy night.

Love Letter

2014-03-12 20.48.20Eszter, Gili and I played 3 rounds while waiting, I think I won one and Eszter two.

El Grande

It took a while to decide what to play, until we remembered our favorite 5 player game. New to Roie, and Shalom has only played twice. All the cards where you lose caballeros came out early which hurt me, Gili did the best at keeping hers; the mobile scoreboard came out a lot too, and Gili used it well. She was far ahead at one point, but she said you never know with this game which is true. We all caught up before the final scoring, and anyone could have won depending on what happened with the castillo, though I only had one in there, which I did use for 2 points. When I got the king before the first scoring I was down caballeros so couldn’t take full advantage. 2014-03-12 21.46.47Shalom did a good job strategically, taking over Seville and then moving the high scoreboard from where Gili had it. Roie did very well for his first game, and had an out of the way starting region. Gili had New Castille and lost it, I had New Castille and managed to hang on to the majority for scoring, at a high cost, but I was able to score it on the one for the most caballeros. Eszter gained the most points in a round when she changed her mind and didn’t veto the vote for a region to score. She was also ahead in the castillo which we scored at least twice. I had around 3 cubes in the castillo the whole game. It was a fun, with an exciting close finish.

Shalom Eszter Roie Nadine Gili
Before 1st scoring 7 3 5 0 0
1st scoring 27 20 19 23 21
Before 2nd scoring 30 28 41 35 30
2nd scoring 47 39 59 54 57
Before last scoring (after Castillo) 67 72 78 77 81
End 84 89 92 96 97