Tag Archive | notre dame

New Players


Jon 10, Haim 19, Amir 23, Nadine 23

Ticket to Ride

Gili 171, Tzvi 140, Amir 86

Taught by Gili.

Puerto Rico

B S B T Nadine 14 39 9 60, Haim 24 23 11 57, Jon 21 23 12 56

We were all surprised that I won, and that Jon came in last – we all thought Jon was winning, especially during the first half of the game. Jon and Haim had factories early, before their coffee buildings. I had a tobacco monopoly once I finally got it, and took the 6 ship for it. I kept producing which gave Jon and Haim tons of money, Haim had 17 even after getting a big building, Jon had about 13. I focused on producing and shipping because I had no money; I took Customs House after Jon took Guild Hall, he also had Fortress, Haim had the other two. When Haim bought a Large Warehouse mid-game, Jon said it wasn’t worth it in a 3-player game, and we let Haim switch. During the game he tossed at least 5 goods that he would have kept with LW. Jon tossed a few more goods than I did, we didn’t have warehouses. So Haim might have won with LW. Jon had Harbor. Jon thinks we may have made mistakes with my shipping points, I don’t think so but it’s frustrating not to be sure – Jon usually has a good sense of what’s going on in games, better than I do. Haim keeps requesting to play this so he can improve, he did very well and we may stop giving him corn to start.


Jon+, Haim, Allegra

Twists: Double card effects, Can’t take the same two actions in a row. First play for Allegra, who seemed to catch the spirit of the game when she enjoyed causing the other two to each lose 6 dollars. Jon got to 20 with an invention that gave points for his other inventions.

Notre Dame

Nadine 49, Gili 42, Zvi 39

Zvi’s first play. Gili and I were competing, she didn’t get cards she needed at one point.

Crokinole x 2

Haim, Jon, Allegra


Aug 02, 2017

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

Yocheved is my neighbor, whom Nadine met and dragged to the group. Despite my warnings, Gili and Nadine plied her with two complicated games, which overwhelmed her somewhat. We will see if she ever comes back.

Notre Dame

Nadine 70, Gili 50, Yocheved 45

First play for Yocheved. She said that it’s “a strategy game” so she would have to play a few times to get the strategy.


Jon 122, Haim 92, Yael 65

Second play for Yael and Haim. Despite some early confusion in my strategy, I kind of knew I was winning by mid-game (so long as I was ahead in a few goals, which I was). So I regret taking away one of the goals that Yael was trying for which was, in effect, running up the score. Haim played many greens and did okay, but I don’t think it’s a viable strategy.

Five Tribes

Yocheved 151, Gili 138, Nadine 138

First play for Yocheved, who said the same thing after this game that she said after Notre Dame. Nadine writes: Yocheved had 9 yellows and the djinn that gives extra points for them, and 3 camels. Gili had 2. They both had cards. I didn’t. I used the djinn which let me buy empty tiles, so I lost. Gili took blue a few times for a lot. Yocheved played for herself without advice.

Ticket to Ride

Jon 156, Yael 151, Haim 95

First play for Haim. This time I was severely blocked in early game and was frustrated. Despite this, I finally sneaked a path to the city I needed, by which time I was spread over a lot of the board. I got lucky picking a few more routes, which gave me just enough points to win. We were all kind of crowded on the East coast.

May 24, 2017

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

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

Slap Deck

Jon, Aaron, Haim S, Yizchak

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


Evan 22, Nadine 21, Aaron 20

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

Five Tribes

Nadine 171, Aaron 149, Evan 149

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

Notre Dame

Haim B 61, Gili 47, Josh 46

First play for Haim and Josh.

La Citta

David++, Yitzchak+, Jon-, Chaim S–

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

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

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

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

San Juan

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

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



David/Jon 605, Nadine/Aaron 395

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

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

Passover Games Day 5777

Thank you to everyone who came, and brought snacks, and helped set-up and clean up. Special thanks to Jon for doing the food order, and Jon and Aaron for picking up the food from Black in town, and Aaron for taking some of the pictures.

Most popular games – Five Tribes, Nefarious, Tichu

Intrepid rules resource and teacher – Jon

Special welcome – Emily and Eitan, our stalwart gamers who rarely make it nowadays because they’re raising their own game group.


172 Ariel, 154 Avraham, 123 Aaron, 110 Assaf


Yael and others

Bora Bora

Emily 149, Assaf 139, Gili 139, Eitan 130

Taught by Gili.


Nadine and Avi+, David and Jon

We didn’t officially keep score. Avi and I did pretty well, though Ben said that’s only if you don’t count two missed slams. Jon and Ben managed to have several hands each with less than 6 points.

Ben also played this earlier with another group.


Jon 56, Shira 45+, Haim 45-, Avi 41

New to Shira, Haim and Avi, I explained the game to Shira and Haim while Jon and Aaron were picking up the food order, then Jon taught the game after Avi joined.

Jon: The game’s mechanics work okay but they feel disconnected and awkward. Okay to play, but need polishing. Really too much luck. Have to implement some other of my changes.

Five Tribes

Ben 172, Ofek 127, Asif 117, Gili 110

Taught by Gili

Aaron 140, AA 121, A 138, G 125

Ben 205, Yedidya 150, Daniel 129

Game of Thrones

Noam 6, Elad 5, Avi 4, Nati 4, Yael 2, Yochai 0

They stopped after about 7 rounds of 10, a super long game.

Lo Ra

(Nadine 13, Jon 7, Assif 6, Gili 5, Ofek 4)

We stopped after two rounds to play other games because a lot of people arrived. We did not score tribes or Gili’s Ark, Jon had by far the most in tribes.

Love Letter

David +, Aaron, Avi, Nadine 0

Avi 4, Nadine 4

Avi lost the first four on the first or second round, due mainly to luck that he couldn’t do anything about.


Daniel+, David

Jon+, David

Jon: In Magic, David and I entered a vast build up of on the ground forces, each hoping to find the flyer in our deck that would get through,

My forces were a litter stronger, so as our decks were dwindling, I decided to attack with everything, leaving a few behind as defense. David and I were being hurried by you to rejoin Tichu, and he didn’t feel like calculating out how to defend against me, so we both agreed to just abandon the game. So I didn’t actually win.


Daniel 33, Yael 25, Ben 29, Yedidya 25

Ben 22, Yael 20, Daniel 15, Yedidya 11


Avi+, Gili, Nadine

The game needs more players.

Notre Dame

Gili 64, Assaf 57, David. B 55, Sara 23

Taught by Gili.                       

Power Grid

Ben 16 16, Jon 16 16, Nadine 15 16, David  8 8 Banana. Cities / Power plant total

David, very unusually, didn’t do well. As usual, I started off well then blew it. I got the 50 Power Plant relatively early on, but had no spots where I could build during Step Two, and by Step Three, Ben was too far ahead with cities and plants. He and Jon agreed to tie rather than going for another round, Jon had slightly more money.

Jon: Same idea here as in Magic. We got to the end game, and didn’t feel like slogging through one more round to see who would win. David did poorly because we played on the Benelux board, first time for all of us, and he misjudged the value of an early 4 power green plant.

Puerto Rico

Yosef  56, David B  49, Jon 48, Nadine  47, Sara 44

David B gave a thorough and detailed explanation to Sara, including strategic analysis, to teach her the game. David and Yosef spent time during the game analyzing their best moves, many to block me, then selected the role Jon knew all along they would take. Yosef was first, he started with Prospector which is unusual in our group, though we also rarely play 5-player. He said it was to stop Jon from being able to build Tobacco on the first round, but Jon said that doesn’t matter since it would ship. Another game where I started off well, but didn’t play well enough afterwards. Though I don’t think I could have beaten all those experts.

Jon: You definitely had a strong initial advantage, but twice you didn’t craft when you should have; once you took captain and once you took something else. As a result, the timing and your money didn’t quite work out. Also, Yosef got to five good with Factory, and so could take the two big buildings ahead of you. And the fact that he had tobacco ahead of me gave him reasonable early trading and late shipping.

Sara had a coffee monopoly for a while, so she also did okay, but no buildings to speak of. I had tobacco following Yosef, which hurt, but I had a harbor which helped.


Gili 12, Jon 10, Assaf 7, Ofek 6, Nadine 6

An early filler, we played with random number order. Eszter and others played a game later.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Cliff, Mishy, Avi, two others

Per Cliff: VICTORY WAS OURS!! The boys enjoyed it but thought it was too easy.

Study in Emerald

Mishy, Eszter, Assaf

Per Cliff: Assaf won a close victory. We all enjoyed the game but definitely needs some replay to really learn the strategies.


820 Aaron and Ben (finished with David), 245 Yedidya and Daniel

Jon and David +, Nadine and Avi

We didn’t play a whole game, we switched to Bridge

Jon: I didn’t get to play this enough.

Tigris and Euphrates

Avi and others

Walnut Grove

Aaron 27, David 25, Nadine 23, Eszter 19

Taught by Nadine, David and Eszter hadn’t played in a long time, new to Aaron. David took a lot of workers early, Aaron had two extra storage areas and two bonuses for goods in storage, and 8 goods left, nice job. I didn’t do well with my board, and didn’t take another worker til late. Eszter took an extra storage right away which helped her.

Jon: I taught Amerigo, Tigris and Euphrates, R-Eco to Eszter and some others, Lo Ra, and Antike, but didn’t play them (except for Lo Ra).


February 01, 2017

Participants: Jon, David, Elad, Nadine, Gili, Daniel, Saarya

First visit by Daniel, welcome. Saarya, my son, decided to join us for a game.

Magic: The Gathering

David+++, Jon

David and I drafted as usual. I actually didn’t draft a terrible deck, or, rather, my deck was not so terrible that I didn’t think it could compete with whatever terrible deck that David drafted. I had some larger spells and some X spells, so I added one more land than usual. However, I also had a pretty even distribution between my three colors RWG, rather than my usual 2 colors and a splash of a third.

We played three games, and I drew only two of my three types of lands in all three of them (a different two each time). In the first two games I also drew far less mana than I usually do, which was strange. David didn’t draw a lot of mana in the first game either (despite having 20 lands out of 40 cards), but I also had color screw. But I lost all three games.

Two-Player Cribbage

David+, Jon

David wanted to try this one again, and he handily won the single round we were able to play.

Slap Deck

David 63, Jon, Daniel, Elad

First play for Daniel and possibly Elad. David toasted everyone.

Age of Industry

Jon 46, Daniel 45, David 43, Saarya 41

First play for Daniel and Saarya, second for David. I think it is one of the better games I got recently, being clean and somewhat elegant. I very much wanted to play this again. I was sure David would like it once he got to know it better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too successful.

Everyone thought there was too much calculation and downtime between turns. They didn’t feel that they could plan their turns while others took their turns. In addition, it took most of the game for people to remember the placement rules. The game rounds certainly went faster near the end, and people were planning their turns during other players’ turns near the end, but the damage was already done.

Saarya took a coal monopoly on the US board. There was a bit of confusion about overbuilding ships and ships that come into play and resupplying the coal market. But I think we did okay. I still enjoy the game, but I’m not sure I will be able to get others to play it. Nadine and Gili think the game is too dry.

Five Tribes

Nadine 158, Elad 132, Gili 113

First play for Elad. Gili had the djinn that let her buy tiles with meeples on them. On the last turn, Elad got 32 points – 18 money with three servants, and 2 cards worth 20 points. And he went last.

Notre Dame

Gili 59, Nadine 49, Elad 47

First play for Elad. Gili went to Notre Dame twice on each of the last two rounds. Nadine was the only one there on the first round.

Dixit Codenames

many …

Saarya was willing to play Codenames, but preferred the picture variety. We don’t have Codename Pictures, so we played with Dixit cards. These take up a large area on the table and they are a little hard to see upside down, so people kept coming to the other side of the tale to look. And it’s perhaps harder to make connections between the desired cards without overlapping the undesired cards since there is so much to say about each card.

I gave some terrible clues, but everyone had a good time.

August 24, 2016

Participants: Jon, Gili, Ido, Netanel, Estzer

Gili hosted last week. They played Hawaii: David 147, Gili 109, Aharon 92, Nisan 71, Netanel 68. First play for Aharon (a new player), Nisan, and Netanel. They let David take 5 sword bonuses. Nisan aimed for a complete tiki/kahuna grid, but David’s well-planned row earned 30 points. Also, mid-game points, such as first and second place scoring each round were also worth a lot.

This week’s new player is Ido.

Glen More

Jon 51, Netanel 48, Gili 42, Ido 38

New to Netanel and Ido, Gili had played once (?) a long time ago. Netanel basically liked the game, but wasn’t happy that there was nothing to do on your turn, which could be a long time coming (especially when others take a while on their turns). He felt like he was losing, but he racked up a slew of points on his last turn, which netted him second place.

Ido took the tile that let him activate any one tile each round, and he did a lot of butchering. Still, he didn’t have enough men and production/money to do everything he wanted. I usually take a lot of early villages, but this time I played more balanced. I also almost never take distilleries, but I took one and used it to grand effect, especially since neither Ido nor Netanel had any barrels. The rest was just keeping a small edge in points. Gili and I ended with 15 tiles each to Netanel’s and Ido’s 12.

Notre Dame

Ido 64, Jon 60, Gili 45, Netanel 42, Estzer 42

First play for Netanel and Ido, and I think Estzer hadn’t played too many times. I usually go straight for 2 park cubes and victory point cubes, but Gili denied me the park cards early on and then the victory point cards later. I took early cubes and money, moving a cube over to Park at the end of round three. Everyone else also had 2 parks early on, but Gili lost hers at the end of round 5 or 6. Netanel gained 4 parks in round 7. Gili started with an early lead and some nice points, but then stalled mid-game when she lost her park bonus.

Gili and I can’t remember who did Notre Dame in phase 1 (which I ignored), but I managed to get there in the next two phases.

Since Gili denied me the victory point cards I wanted at the end, instead I created sections with three points each (park and hospital), which both prevented the rats from attacking me and also gave me 3 areas with 3 cubes each, for almost as many points. Unfortunately, Ido also had three areas with three cubes each, also was protected from rats, and also was earning a few more points than I was because of his double park bonus.

Gili is hosting next week, as well.

June 8, 2016

Participants: Jon, David T, David K, Nadine, Gili, Binyamin, Francis, Alan

David Tzur is the new name for the guy formerly know as Alex. He is a designer who has published a few games, and he came to show me one of his new prototypes.


David T’s new game occupies the same space as Codenames. It’s different enough to stand on its own. It was a nice game, although the scoring is not entirely worked out yet. Hope to see it again in its finished state.


Since David T had never played Codenames, we showed him how it works. I gave clues to David, and Nadine gave clues to David T and Gili. They won by one card, partially because I gave the clue “British” without seeing that the word “England” was on the board, and I gave the clue “Chekov”, intending David to guess “Moscow” without knowing that Chekov was also a “Doctor”. Then David and Gili gave clues to Nadine and David T while I read the rules to Francis Drake.

Notre Dame

Alan 53, Gili 51, Francis 42

I didn’t see how this went.

Francis Drake

Binyamin, Nadine, David, Jon

First play for all of us. David is reluctant to play a game that no one knows and for which we have to read the rules as we teach it. Often I can do better than I did with this game. The rules were less of a problem than figuring out the setup. It took us 25 minutes. The rulebook is 18 pages long, with lots of repetition, yet staggeringly unclear on how setup works.

There are light blue card, slightly darker blue cards, and slightly darker blue cards, as well as gold cards. For a standard 4 player game, you play with the “blue cards”. Even knowing that that meant the middle blue, it was impossible to tell the colors apart. The rules say nothing about the gold cards, and oh yeah: they are not separate cards, but double sided, with one kind of blue on one side and another on the other (so you can’t compare them side by side). The game says to place X, Y, and Z on a board, but there are four kinds of cards called X, Y, or Z, and well as tiles; do we take them from the cards we’re using or the tiles? Or the gold cards?

Cubes and jewels are not properly identified in the setup or on the board, and the board is double sided, which we didn’t realize until we had to undo everything and flip it over for the English side. And on and on.

The game: I pretty much got the idea the moment the rules explanation was done, because the game is freakishly similar to a dozen different games we’ve played before: Macao, Vasco de Gama, and any other game where there is a fixed number of rounds to a) take turns gaining cubes, other resources, and special powers, and b) ship, build, or deliver before or better than everyone else, all set in some Renaissance sea routes or group of villages.

In this game, the first half is progress on an 18 track where you can only move forward, you can jump ahead spaces, the first to land on any space gains an advantage for that space (takes an extra cube), and you only get to land on ten spaces.The second half is going to places and either trading cubes for trade goods or trading cubes for points (called “battles”: your cubes are soldiers and guns and the spaces are forts and ships and so on). Most battles require a varying amount of cubes to win the points, and these are not revealed until after everyone has taken their cubes. Two of the special powers that one person (each) can take is to look at and rearrange some (but not all) of the supplementary tiles that provide varying amounts for battles, after everyone has taken their cubes.

Most games have some drawbacks, including the two games listed above, but this one’s is most annoying: the only thing you keep from round to round is your points and trade goods (you gain points at the end of the game for collecting sets or partial sets of trade goods). All cubes, resources, powers, and positions are reset each round, so every round is exactly the same with the exception of how many trade goods you still need to complete a set. That little point calculation makes it slightly more advantageous to plan to visit a trade good site rather than a battle site, but not by much. A complete set of 4 trade goods (4 visits) is 26 points, and three battles fought in a round (3 visits) are worth at least 30 points. Allegedly there is competition for the trade goods and battles, and there may indeed be in a five player game, but in our four player game there was almost none. Everyone had room to go where they wanted. Maybe I missed something in the rules about blocking off certain spaces in a 3 or 4 player game to make it more competitive.

I’m the kind of player who likes to play the first few games tactically. I may eventually find an overall strategy, but I simply took the most cubes I could and figured out what to do with them as I got toward the end of the track. I happily played without much thought. David and Nadine are the kinds who are unhappy taking actions if they haven’t calculated exactly how many cubes they need by the end of the round and if anyone can stop them from getting them. As a result, owing to the usual complexity inherent in a first play of a mid-weight Euro, David did not enjoy himself in the first round, especially because it had already taken more than an hour to start (setup, rules explanation, etc). It didn’t help that he rolled a 1 for the only die roll in the game, for which he needed a 2 or better to succeed. The first round took a very long time, and he was doing well by the end. Binyamin was ahead, and was more behind on the score track but had more trade goods.

The second round went much quicker. David didn’t warm to the game. I had conflicted feelings. On the one hand, I was okay with the mechanics and I could see how the competition worked, but there was minimal tenseness and the second round was very boring since it was exactly like the first round for me (the track actions were in a different order, but that was about it). And then I had all the cubes I needed for a battle unless I got extremely unlucky (maximum defense in both the card and the supplementary tile. Of course I got extremely unlucky, and lost 12 points because of it, which was the difference between first and last place.  I don’t mind small swings of luck, but that is too much for a mid-weight Euro.

By the time we finished round 2, it was pretty late, I wasn’t interested in continuing and I saw that David and Nadine were suffering, so I said we should end, even though that annoyed Binyamin (rightfully so). I said that I didn’t see any difference between the rounds, but the truth is that that was because I was playing tactically. If you play strategically (which means concentrating on trade goods or not), there is a little difference (you don’t have much control over who takes what in the track and can be easily locked out of taking any trade goods in a round – another thing that would be better if you could save cubes from round to round).

I am willing to try it again, although I might get a bit bored. It’s certainly not thematic and it doesn’t feel original in any way, but it seems mostly balanced, there are decisions to make, and you might even have some tension during the shipping in a five player game. But I see no reason not to flip up all the tiles values at the start of the round. And I am already strongly considering to let players keep a few cubes from round to round.

Nadine wrote that it seemed too lucky.