Tag Archive | Pente

July to December 2005

Dec 28, 2005

Participants: Jon, Brendan, Zeke, Ben, Binyamin, Tzvi Yehuda, Tikva Shira, Gili

Nadine is in California. I expected David but he didn’t come. However, Binyamin came with his two kids, Tzvi Yehuda aged 7 and Tikva Shira aged 9. They were young, but they were also very bright and focussed for their age. They managed to learn and play some complicated games by the end of the evening.

The Menorah Game

Zeke+, Jon, Brendan

Zvi Yehuda+, Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Ben

In honor of this being the fourth night of Hannukah I thought it was appropriate to play this game as a light intro. Zeke didn’t seem to like it that much but he doesn’t seem to like anything. And he always wins it, too. Zeke buys just about everything, even for high prices, yet he still seems to come up with money again the following round.

And yes, that’s a win for Tzvi Yehuda, too.

China Moon

Binyamin 15, Ben 14, Zvi Yehuda 1, Tikva Shira 0

They played this simple game. Granted I haven’t played often, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone pull off a complete set of five of a kind. Ben had four of a kind and the blue. ZY had two of a kind and the black flower.

Billabong

Brendan+, Jon, Zeke

This is a race game played on four chess boards arranged in a square where a 4×2 area (the Billabong) in the center is off limits. There is a line from the Billabong to the edge of the board which is both the starting and finishing line. Each player gets 5 pieces to place anywhere they want on the board to start, after which they win if they are the first player to cross the start line and then the finish line with all of their pieces. Pieces move either one space in any direction or by jumping pieces. A piece jumps by landing the exact same number of spaces on the far side of the jumped piece. You may make multiple jumps in one turn, but you can’t jump a piece if you would land on another piece, land off the board, in or over the Billabong, and you can’t jump two pieces at once.

It is a strange and chaotic game, especially at the start when you have thousands of multiple jumping opportunities. Setting up far jumps means that being father back is not necessarily a bad thing, unless your means of jumping moves away. It plays a bit like Chinese checkers on drugs. The sheer volume of possible jumps leads to a lot of analysis paralysis.

Anyway, Zeke fell rather behind, mostly because he hated the game (once again). Brendan ended the game exactly two moves before I would have.

San Juan

Ben 32, Gili 26

Ben and Gili played this while waiting for us to finish Billabong. When they ended the game, neither had a 6 pointer, but both had a Chapel with fours cards underneath.

Evo

Binyamin 46, Zvi Yehuda 40, Tikva Shira 22

Looking for more games that kids would enjoy, I brought this out. Our group isn’t thrilled with it because of the dice rolling and general repetitiveness, but these three liked it. Binyamin liked it more that he liked Primordial Soup, since you can’t lose genes once you have acquired them.

I didn’t see what happened, but there seemed to be a lot of attacking going on.

El Grande

Ben 76, Brendan 72, Zeke 72*, Jon 70, Gili 68

I haven’t brought this out in a while. The last time it was played it took an incredible six hours. We have the biggest analysis paralysis problem in the history of mankind. I told them that this was not going to happen tonight. Luckily it didn’t. We finished in a balmy two and a half hours.

For the record, I gave Zeke some advice which may have cost him two points. Gili and I fell behind by the first scoring phase. By the second one I was only a bit behind the others, but Gili was even further behind. And then, in the last scoring round she managed to catch up to only a few points behind me and I was only a few points behind the leader.

Zeke was doing the second place in a lot of regions strategy, although he was fighting me for New Castille which drained us both. Once again, Ben seemed to pull off some miracle, as he had the fewest pieces on the board but won anyway. There was almost nothing left in the provinces by the end of the seventh round.

Domaine

Binyamin 31, Zvi Yehuda 23, Tikva Shira 13

Same as Evo, this was brought out as something manageable by kids. There seemed to be more rules confusion over this one however, as I kept hearing “Why can’t I do this?” and the answer, “Because that’s the rules.” They really loved it, however. Again, much more than the rest of our group.

Until next week.


Dec 21, 2005

Participants: Jon, Brendan, Zeke, Binyamin, Nadine, Gili, Josh

Rachel and I had a late start with dinner. Brendan also joined us, and later Gili did, too, when she arrived and found noone else ordering from the local burger joint (minimum order = 2 people).

That left Zeke and Binyamin, the next two to arrive while we were still eating, to play a two player game.

Dvonn

Zeke+, Binyamin

First game for both of them. They plunked down pieces at random and then tried to figure out what went where. By the middle of the game, it was already obvious that Zeke had many more liberties, and he won the game handily.

Zeke+, Brendan

Later in the evening Zeke won again against Brendan who had actually played before. Once again, Zeke seemed to have already won the game midway through. I will have to play Zeke to see if this is anomolous.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Nadine, Gili

I almost began playing this with Gili, and then Nadine decided to bow out of the La Strada game she was about to start, so we switched. It was a first play for both of them, and I’m not sure if they even finished the game.

La Strada

Brendan 32, Jon 28, Zeke 25

Jon 34, Brendan 30, Zeke 24

We were supposed to play 3 games, once with each player starting, but Josh showed up and we wanted to include him. Also, Zeke had already had enough of the game by that point.

La Strada seems like half a game to me. It is not bad. The game is a track building game like most railroad games, but that’s it. Just the track. I kept hoping to see the pick-up and delivery. Essentially, you score points for every city, small city, town, and village you connect to with your track, scoring a little less for each other player that does the same.

On your turn, you can place 6 points worth of track, where track through woods and hills costs more points than track over plains. By virtue of placing the track you block others from using the same spaces to build their own track. The track is exactly like Age of Steam (it seemed very familiar and then I realized that this is also a Martin Wallace game, like Age of Steam).

The game ends when one player has connected 12 places. In this sense, it is like TransAmerica. I would say that it is better than TA, but still not exactly filling.

Anyway, I had the most large cities in the first game, but Brendan had lots of other little ones exclusively, which netted him more points. In the second game I was more careful to try for both, and despite some mistakes in not blocking others from connecting when I could have, I still pulled the victory.

China Moon

Josh 7, Jon 7, Brendan 5, Zeke 1

Josh had looked at China Moon previously and couldn’t believe that it was for grownups. But we played, and, like I wrote the last time, it is rather neat. However, I had only played 3 player until now and it suffers with more players. I can’t imagine that it is playable at all with 5. There is just so much loss of control and so much chaos that winning or not winning doesn’t seem much of an achievement. With 3 you at least felt that you held some influence on the game progress.

Taj Mahal

Nadine 56, Binyamin 41, Gili 39

First play for Binyamin. He somehow pursued both connections and commodities, managing to score reasonably well. In fact, if he had played the last round correctly, he could possibly have won, so I hear.

Primordial Soup

Nadine 44, Jon 37, Branden 34, Binmyamin 30

Branden especially wanted to try this again with four players, and Nadine was willing. Since Gili and Zeke had left, and Josh couldn’t stay for more than an hour and a half anyway, Josh decided just to watch (which is a shame because he didn’t get to play much and he came a long way to do it).

Four player was better than three player, which was already pretty good. (Of course, any game can still be improved by adding unique powers for the players, but I digress.) In this game, Branden started out ahead with me following, while Nadine just concentrated on buying genes. Then she bought a slew of ameobas and rocketed ahead and then stayed ahead for the remainder of the game. She wouldn’t have kept her lead if the game had gone on a few more rounds, so it was very well planned and played.

In fact, the fact that it was basically impossible to catch her already by mid-game made me feel like there is a bit of a runaway leader issue. Probably, however, we all could have played better to begin with so that she never would have been so far ahead, so the issue is similar to the one in Taj Mahal – best to just play better at the beginning of the game and not complain.

The drifting was a pain in the game, as the same drift directions showed up paired together, leaving all the ameobas huddled in one side or corner of the board, fighting or starving. This was the first time that we bought the attacking genes, but Binyamin’s Parasitism and Frugality beat out my Survival and Substitution, or would have if he hadn’t already fallen so far behind.

Binyamin then borrowed some games for a game day he is hosting in his village: Settlers of Catan, San Juan, By Hook or By Crook, Apples to Apples, and For Sale. Good luck.


Dec 14, 2005

Participants: Jon, Tal, Brendan, Nadine, Gili, Binyamin, Rivkah

A normal game night. Brendan returns for his second visit and Binyamin brings his wife, Rivkah. Brendan speaks only English, and Rivkah speaks only Hebrew (although she does understand most English … or pretends to, anyway).

The Menorah Game

Jon+, Tal, Brendan

I was interested in playing again, and having a new person to teach was just the excuse I needed. Brendan seemed to enjoy himself and compared the bidding to Modern Art, which is also what Chris Brooks did when he was here.

Tal started out collecting a lot of medium values at low prices, but then she had nothing to do with the same colored tiles when she pulled them up later in the game, and couldn’t get much money for throwing them out. Brendan got hit with the double 4/6 soldier combo which slowed him down. Come to think of it, he got hit with all four soldiers, and while he only had to pay for two, it meant that none of us got hit. In the meantime, I got a lot of early high cards which gave me cash. With a wild, I was able to win easily after Tal auctioned a candle she really should have bought.

Modern Art

Jon 486, Brendan 383, Nadine 372, Gili 239

Having compared the Menorah Game to Modern Art, I decided to play MA over Nadine’s objections. She recalled it being too much thinking the last time we tried to play. There are unknown elements when you play, but it falls into a kind of pattern as you get used to it. I think it is an excellent game, better than Ra; Ra has a lovely basic mechanic and some elegance, as well, but it doesn’t combine into quite as good a result.

The only major problem we had was with the double auctions. They just seemed more powerful than they should have been. I’m not sure how to fix this. I will have to play a few more times to get the feel of it before making any changes.

I ended up not winning many auctions at all, but everyone else seemed happy to pay me so much for my paintings that I wasn’t complaining. In the first round, I made a lot of cash and Gili and Nadine ended with the most valuable paintings. In the second round it was also Gili, but she had paid way too much for them, even paying for her own paintings rather than accepting more generous offers. She said that she wanted to experiment with that strategy.

The third round was quick; only two artists appeared. By then, we all pretty much knew that I was doing ok. I thought Nadine was doing better than Brendan, but it turned out to be the reverse.

Primordial Soup

Nadine, Brendan -2, Jon -5

The above scores represent the offset from the winning position. I don’t remember what the exact winning number is and I’m too lazy to go look. The cards were a little warped from the spill they had received the last time the game was brought out, but luckily the cards don’t have to be all even in this game, for the most part.

After setting up, we found that we were missing half of the pieces, which Nadine suggested were in the Taj Mahal box, which was the game we played after not playing PSoup last time. And they were.

Nadine found the game a little dull and dry. As she puts it, yet another game where there is no point thinking about anything when it is not your turn, since so much will change by the time it gets to you. I also thought it was a little dry and could use some more pizzaz, but I still liked it as is. Brendan also seemed to like it.

Nadine pulled ahead early by buying more ‘meebes while we were buying genes, and as all else appeared to be equal, she managed to keep her lead throughout the game. I kept pretty close behind, but there is a maximum score you can achieve each round, so there was no way to close the gap unless I could find a way to hurt Nadine, and there was little I could do directly to her. I tried to eat the food she needed of course, but her genes were enough to help her out when she needed it. Brendan, who had bought lots of genes, began to catch up, but the game ended before he could pass her.

I missed a rule at one point, thinking that Movement II allowed me to move for free in addition to moving in any direction I wanted. Luckily, I only messed up one round.

Tikal

Rivkah 131, Gili 114, Binyamin 111

I should have known this was wrong for Binyamin, since he thinks way too long on his turns, and this game is worse than most for that. He felt that turns in the game were too long, of course. This was only the second time for Gili, and first time for the others. I brought it out because I thought it was a pretty game, and a reasonable game to introduce to someone who already knew how to play Cities and Knights (Rivkah).

San Juan

Jon 25, Brendan 23

First game for Brendan. He is sharp enough that I only needed to explain the rules and basic strategy. Nevertheless, he built a few too many small buildings and couldn’t build a large enough big building at the end to catch up to me. I had a mid-game Library, yet I used it for producing most of the time, which was kind of wierd.

I built: Coffee, Silver, Well, Black Market, Palace, Library, Hero, Victory Column.

Brendan built: Tobacco, Gold Mine+, Prefecture, Market Stand, Sugar, Well, Smithy, Carpenter, Tobacco, Trading Post, City Hall.

Yinsh

Brendan+, Jon

I introduced Brendan to Yinsh after playing Dvonn with him last time. He enjoyed it, as far as I could tell. In any case, he won. I took off the first ring, but then he took off two. A little back and forth and I got my second off, but only a few turns before I missed a double opportunity for him to get his last ring off.

And that was the evening.


Dec 7, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Brendan, Zeke, Gili, Binyamin, Rachel, Tal

A new person showed up: Brendan, from Melbourne, Australia, who is here in Israel for the year. Brendan is a nice, quiet guy whom we hopefully didn’t overwhelm with out loud Israeli style. Anyway.

Brendan showed up a half hour early, so I had to ignore him while we ate dinner, after which I could sit down to play. I let him read New Rules for Classic Games while he waited.

Dvonn

Jon+,Brendan

It was nice to revisit this after a few games of Yinsh. I like it more and more each time I play. I still don’t get the setup phase very much, as so much of the disks just get plunked down “whereever”. Aside from the basic idea of how to estabish or threaten control, it doesn’t have the same tenseness of the second phase. Still a great game.

Midway through the second phase, it became clear that I had the game pretty much in hand. Most every move than Brendan made I could either recapture his new piece or remove the piece to which he needed to jump.

Lo Ra

Nadine 32, Gili 26, Jon 24, Brendan 24, Zeke 14

Nadine arrived toting a remade and complete Jewishly themed version of Ra. The game is essentially the same, except that the tiles reflect items from the temple, and some rules were changes to accomodate collecting the twelve tribes.

Ra is a nice game, and I walked away from the opportunity to acquire it for $20 at BGG.con. I already had Modern Art in my bag and figured that we didn’t need both. This was a mistake.

But now it turns out that we can play anyway. The name “Lo Ra” means both “Not ‘Ra'”, as well as “Not bad”, a cute little Hebrew/English pun.

Since we used Nadine’s equivalents, I don’t remember how to translate the items back into the original set, so I won’t describe the actual game play. The scores were as follows, with the mini-steps giving a clue as to what went on:

Player Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Gili -2+10+3=11 -5+5=11 +5+3+2+5=26
Jon +5+5+3=13 +5+2=20 +5+4-5=24
Nadine +2=2 +5-5+2=4 +5+6+14+3=32
Zeke +4=4 -2-5+5+2=4 -2-5+14+3=14
Brendan 0 -5+3=2 +4+2+14+6+5-5=24

Havoc

Jon 39, Brendan 31, Gili 18, Zeke 17, Tal 13

Tal, Rachel, and Binyamin joined us, so we split into Puerto Rico and Havoc. Havoc is still a delightful light game. As usual, our group even plays light game way too long and serious. What can you do?

Player Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Round 8 Round 9 Total
Brendan 5 8 6 8 7 1 31
Zeke 3 2 6 3 3 17
Gili 1 4 5 8 18
Jon 5 3 2 9 9 11 39
Tal 6 2 5 13

Brendan had acquired 30 points by round 6, which means that for anyone to catch him, Brendan would have to lose every other battle and someone else would have to win every one of them. Luckily for me, he was literally out of cards at the end of the round. In round 8, I was forced to cry Havoc unprepared, because if I didn’t, it might have gone round to me again, in which case the battle would have not been fought and there would not be enough points left to win the game.

Unlike previous games where I went only for kinds, in this game I had three possible royal straight flushes, one of which I acquired and used to win round nine against Gili, who had a lower values straight flush.

One thing that bugs me about the game is ties. The rules say something about whomever has the least cards, or most cards, or something wins ties. First of all, it doesn’t say what to do if they are tied in cards as well. Secondly, it seems like a pretty arbitrary rule. Bah. We just split the points between both parties when this happens, even though that means some writing or card/tile trading to keep track.

Puerto Rico

Rachel, Nadine, Binyamin

Supposedly Rachel kept score somewhere, but I didn’t find the scores.

Alhambra

Nadine 136, Binyamin 124, Jon 122

We tried this again, having heard that it might be more engaging three player, rather than more players (although there was at least one reverse opinion, as well). It wasn’t. Engaging, that is. It was ok. Again, when you have slow thinkers, the game seems overly long. But even so, it still seems like a rare situation where you don’t buy something for exact change if you have the opportunity. Still, there was bit of jockeying for color, but this was essentialy ruled by the luck of the draw, anyway.

Toodles.


Nov 30, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Benjamin, Moshe, Itamar, Josh, Batya, Tali, Rachel A

A nice crowd this evening, including almost half new visitors. Benjamin found out about me from Gilad of the Tel Aviv group. He, in turn, brought Moshe and Itamar. All three of them are Hebrew speakers. Between my passable Hebrew and their passable English (better than my Hebrew) we managed.

Meanwhile, Josh returned with the guest he brought last time, Batya, and another guest, Tali. Welcome, welcome.

Benjamin was scoping out the club in the hopes that he could also return in the future with his wife and maybe some of his kids. He definitely has to return sometime, since he borrowed Settlers of Catan and Cities and Knights of Catan from me.

The Menorah Game

Benjamin+, David, Nadine, Moshe

These people arrived a little early so they played this relatively quick game while I finished dinner and we waited for a few others to come. Nadine and David began explaining the rules but after a few sentences Nadine said that they should start playing and they will explain the rules as they go. This was painful for me to hear, both because I don’t think the rules are too complicated to explain before playing, and because I, personally, can’t stand starting a game without knowing the major rules. I hate being blindsided in the middle of the game with a major piece of knowledge that I really needed to have prepared for several turns earlier.

Nadine, on the other hand, as well as many other people or so I’m given to understand, much prefer to learn games this way – if necessary playing a full round through and then stopping and restarting the game. Sometimes I will show rules with example play on the board, but I just can’t bring myself to start a game without knowing or explaining the bulk of the rules, yet.

Once again I regretted not introducing some sort of pattern into the prototypes to complement the colors, because it turned out that Benjamin is almost totally color-blind. Luckily he was not completely color-blind and the other players could tell him what color each candle was as it appeared, but it still must have made the game harder for him.

In any case, Moshe ended up buying a number of the wilds and getting hit with a few soldiers, so he was only halfway through before Benjamin was able to win with a wild card for which he had been saving up.

Benjamin was impressed enough on his first play to buy the game despite the color issue. Yippee, another sale! So, when is this game going to get published in a real way?

Traders of Genoa

Moshe $405, Jon $395, David, Benjamin

Knowing the Gilad wants this game back at some point, I decided to play it one more time, even though I suspected that David would not be able to fully enjoy the game’s open-ended trading. Still, it was an Alea game and a good one. Furthermore, since I had learned it at Gilad’s group, and the Israelis there had liked it, I hoped that the two Israelis here would also like it. I was correct on all counts: David didn’t like it, the other two did. Nadine excused herself to play something else with Josh and Batya who had just arrived.

Even starting with two less rounds than indicated, we stopped only after three rounds, having taken almost two hours. Moshe had to go pick up Itamar, and I decided to put David out of his misery. Without making a careful count, it looked like Moshe had beaten me by a few dollars, even though I thought he had overspent (to me) somewhat in the early part of the game.

Taj Mahal

Nadine, Josh, Batya

Meanwhile, in this corner, Nadine decided to set up Primordial Soup which I had taken out with the intention of trying to learn to play, before I got involved with Traders of Genoa. Since the rulebook was only 4 pages long, Nadine decided to try to figure it out on her own.

They got the whole thing set up and pretty and then a certain someone who will remain nameless knocked over an entire cup of water onto the board and cards. After a second of stunned silence, I picked up the whole board and overturned it dropping pieces everywhere, along with the water that was collecting on the board. Josh grabbed the cards and rules and we began to dry everything off and lay it out.

First time that ever happened, and the nameless person should forgive me for being less than gracious about the incident (I wasn’t actually mean about it, I just didn’t come out and say “That’s ok, don’t worry.”)

While it was drying, Nadine brought out Taj Mahal, a game she already knows well enough. They seemed to enjoy it, but I don’t know the results. Josh and Batya had to leave after the game.

Havoc

Benjamin 32, Tali 27, Jon 24, David

Tali arrived as Moshe left to pick up Itamar, so I picked this out to play as another shortish game, even taking out battles 2 and 5 (or 6). Once again, my group seems to be somewhat more thoughtful (i.e. slower) than others when it comes to “quick games”, and this took a good hour. I rank this somewhere up with Amun Re – a game that “noone dislikes”, so it will come out fairly often.

Yinsh

Moshe, Itamar

Moshe returned with Itamar before we were done with Havoc and Taj Mahal, so I set them up with Yinsh. I can’t remember who won.

Jon+, Benjamin

Later in the evening, while waiting for Puerto Rico to finish, we played this game, the first one that Banjamin couldn’t quite grasp (and win) this evening. In fact, I won 3 to 0.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 75, Nadine, Tali, Itamar, Moshe

I left the scores at home. Maybe I will fill them in later. This was a first playing for everyone except Rachel and Nadine. Benjamin was looking longingly to play, since he had never played it, also, but we had to split the people up somehow, and the others refused to play Tigris and Euphrates, and noone could suggest anything else.

Nadine ran the show on this one again, teaching the game and giving huge amounts of advise throughout the game (perhaps too much, but it was first game, after all, and PR is certainly hard to understand the first time through).

Rachel achieved the highest score I have ever seen in a 5 player PR game using a strategy similar to one that I occasionally use against even the best PR players. Basically: a few corns, small sugar, late tobacco, small warehouse, harbor, and custom’s house. Requires very little money and rakes in a whole lot of vp’s – 47 shipping points to be precise.

The second and third place scores were 59 and 58, followed by 50 and then some number that I promised to forget.

Tigris and Euphrates

Benjamin 8+, Jon 6+, David 4+

Second play for Benjamin, but I refreshed him on the rules. It quickly became a massacre after he managed to survive and profit from a number of external conflicts which he didn’t even initiate. I thought I was doing ok, even though David was taking in the treasures. He ended with 5 treasures, but still managed to only get 4 points, as his two lowest colors each only had 2.

I set up a number of monuments in colors which I knew that they didn’t really need. The game ended with the third to last treasure being taken. I really like this game, and it doesn’t come out very much, because it is difficult to play, like Go is difficult to play. Wonderful.

Toodles.


Nov 23, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Zeke, Ben, Michael, Rachel A

Slower night. Once again we worked through some of the new games I brought back from BGG.con and, to my frustration, they were all relatively poorly received. It seems that our group is happy with the classics and can’t be bothered with second tier games. Maybe I should have started them on poorer games first, and worked my way up to the best games only after.

Yinsh

Zeke+,Jon

First play for Zeke. I played this with half of my attention, and thus lost in a very embarassing way: I moved and gave him the win without noticing it. I think Zeke actually may have liked this one a little.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Ben, Nadine

I explained the game to them, and Ben became increasingly annoyed at every facet of the mechanics. He was playing white, and by the time he made his first attack, he decided the game was unbalanced and utterly uninteresting and he quit in favor of playing a four player game. Nadine wasn’t far behind him, also thinking that the game was both lopsided and most moves a result of random luck. *Sigh*

Alhambra

Ben 127, Nadine 97, Jon 94, Zeke 82

Ben started off the game with only three cards to my six or seven, and proceded to blast this game as well as too lucky. In case you haven’t figured out, Ben is the one who tends to complain a lot … and then win. Before the first scoring, Ben had managed to play a turn with two free moves and collect two cards in the process. The first scoring had him at 12, I was at 11, Nadine 10 and Zeke at 7.

Zeke also wasn’t thrilled with the game. And Nadine and Ben basically said that, while it was infinitely better than LotR:tC, it was kind of boring, with little interaction (true), and nothing to do during other people’s turns, and no way to plan during your turn (all true). Then why did I enjoy it so much more at the con?

Anyway, by the second round, Ben was at least two tiles ahead in the first and third most valuable colors, with little chance anyone would ever be able to catch him. All he had to do was sit and maintain the lead. Also, he had a wall of 15 length, longer than anyone else’s. It looked kind of hopeless for the rest of us. Also by the end of the second round, Nadine was at least two tiles ahead in the second and fourth colors. That left Zeke and me to fight over the fifth and sixth colors, which was not a very valuable use of our time. Scores: Ben 52, Nadine 39, Jon 34, Zeke 31.

Somewhere towards the end of the third round both Nadine and Zeke caught up close to Ben’s wall length, and I managed to tie him in the first color, at which point he pulled ahead in the fifth color. All in all, not enough to reach him. His final score was off the scoring chart.

Another miss, I believe.

Modern Art

Nadine+, Ben, Jon, Michael, Zeke

And Zeke hated this one with a passion. Another big miss for him. Michael also didn’t seem to get into it, and Ben said that he didn’t like art or auctions very much. I think Nadine kind of liked it, but even she didn’t seem to prefer this type of game. I thought it was brilliant. I guess I should have brought Rahome from the con instead.

After two rounds, both Zeke and Michael were either confused or falling asleep and had to go. Examining the money, it was still a close game between Nadine, Ben, and myself, with Nadine in the lead by a bit.

Bridge

Jon, Ben, Nadine

Ben couldn’t stay for a game of Puerto Rico so we played a few hands waiting for Rachel.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 62, Jon 57, Rachel 53

The best game in the world for a reason, but still better with my buildings, IMHO. Rachel and I knew that Nadine had started with an early lead, and we spent a painful game trying to catch up, to no avail. We managed to narrow the gap, at least.

I was first mover. I ended with Large General Workhouse, as well as Irrigation and two big buildings. Rachel also ended with two big buildings and a late Factory. Meanwhile, Nadine, third player, had acquired four corns and a Discretionary Hold followed by a late Wharf.

Scores:

Jon: 22 ship + 21 build + 14 bonus = 57
Rachel: 22 ship + 19 build + 12 bonus = 53
Nadine: 35 ship + 19 build + 8 bonus = 62

Looks like I’m back to trading games again. 😦


Nov 16, 2005

Participants: Jon, David K, Nadine, Yonah, Tal, Michael, Josh, Batya, Gili

This was our first game night after I returned from BGG.con, where I sent prototypes of my game #1 to a few publishers and sold or gave away numerous others. In addition, I got to play many new games at the con and I returned to the group with ten new games.

Nadine and Gili tried to keep the game group going while I was gone, but only managed to do so for the first week. So it has been three weeks since the JSGC has met. And we began with a batch of the new games.

Yinsh

Yonah+, Nadine+

Josh+, Batya

Not knowing Yinsh, I always thought that Yinsh was rated more highly than Dvonn on BGG simply because it had come out more recently. But it turns out that people just like Yinsh more. Dvonn has a lot of obscurity throughout much of the game, as you play a lot of pieces without any real knowledge as to why. Then you have to choose from a whole board of pieces to move, taking many pieces and reducing to a few pieces. Only as the game draws to a close do you feel any real control as a new player. Yinsh, on the other hand, starts off with few pieces and becomes more complicated. People seem to like that better.

There are other games that do that, but none to such a lovely degree of subtly controlled chaos. The built-in balancing factor of losing your rings also makes it an exciting game right to the finish.

Yonah and Nadine played two games when they arrived. Josh brought a new someone, Batya, and they played when they arrived, as well. This was Batya’s first new game, so I hope it made a good impression. I’m sorry I didn’t get to play with her on her first evening, but that tends to happen.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

David+ (dark), Jon (light)

In this unbalanced version of Stratego crossed with War, Magic, and Lord of the Rings, David won by a narrow victory, even though I generally suck at war-based strategy games and dark is generally favored to win. Getting Frodo through the mountains is a difficult task, since Sam can’t accompany him. I have to figure out a working strategy for light. I enjoyed the game, and I believe that David did so, too.

Havoc

Nadine 33, Jon 28, David K 24, Tal 24, Yonah/Gili 8

This one is a hard one to sell initially after I describe the poker mechanic. Who wants to play poker? (Actually, our former member Sharon liked to play, and I think she may love this game.)

In any case, the game is nothing like poker, really, only using the poker hands as attack strengths. The game is heart and soul like Taj Mahal, in the same way that San Juan is like Puerto Rico. In other words, lots of similar feelings, but otherwise lighter and filling a really different niche.

It’s a good (not spectacular) game, and everyone enjoyed it, except for my daughter Tal who had never played poker. But man, it is supposed to be a fairly quick game, and we took forever. Poeple thought and thought about their hands every time it came around to them. I hope that this was only because it was the first playing, and not something that will happen every time.

David K had an early lead, but Nadine accomplished her usual magic to steal some final key battles. Gili inherited Yonah’s position after he left early.

San Juan

Josh 35, Michael 33, Batya 26

While not a new game for the group, this was the first play for all of the players, so it counts.

I didn’t study the game play, but it sure looked interesting. For instance, Builder was not taken in the first round. Josh had a huge combination of Library, Aqueduct, Trading Post, and numerous production plants. Michael had nothing but production plants until at least his sixth building, and managed to land a Guild Hall at the end for 14 points.

Domaine

Jon 24, David K 21, Nadine 18, Gili 3

I had never played Domaine, but so many people had recommended it that I had high hopes. As the game progressed, I found myself really liking it. To my disappointment, everyone else didn’t! Heck! Turns out that the complaints were along the lines of “too slow” and “not enough player interaction”. What can I do? Nadine disliked it the most. David K also didn’t seem to warm to it. Gili was trounced by some nasty moves on David’s part, but she at least indicated that she would like to try again.

David managed to acquire some early income. A key alliance I played stemmed him off from overrunning my domaine and effectively pushed him into Gili’s territory instead.

I made a really bad play with two of my walls at one point, sacrificing mobility in two directions which ended up costing me at least two rounds of play later in the game. Otherwise, we all made lots of mistakes in our first play, which was a learning experience. In the end, David would have won if he had placed second with the money, but Gili edged him out. I hope we play again, but I’m not sure if I will be able to convince them to do so. Rats.


Oct 26, 2005

Session Report by Nadine while Jon is at BGG.con:

Josh, and then Gili, arrived. We were just starting San Juan when Michael arrived, that was everyone who had said they were coming. So we played Amun Re, which none of us had played on game day. Overall we weren’t very competitive with the bidding for provinces, there was barely any overbidding. Gili had bad luck with cards, so she stopped taking them, Nadine had good luck with them and was able to play 3 bonus cards at the end of the game against one for Josh.

Scores after the first half and at the end of the dynasty or whatever it’s called:

Josh 20, 42
Michael 17, 40
Gili 8, 35
Nadine 16, 52


Oct 23, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Michael, Elijah, Ben, Zeke, Shlomi, Michael V, Tal (from the coast), Batya, Malcom, their three children and/or nieces, Rachel A, Ephrayim, Josh, Howard A, Saarya.

Record turnout for Games Day. This time around I managed to get advanced advertising into the local community mailing list, the free events section of the newspaper, and the Israeli boardgame website. Lots of people said they would come, and this time all of the did, which is unusual. Add to the chaos: my father-in-law flying in from Canada via Addis-Ababa in the morning for his first visit in two years (UN work on genocide early warning systems), and two of our kids returning from whenever they have been for the last few days.

Who came?

  • Jon – that’s me.
  • Nadine – my stalwart game player, arrived on the first day that the game group became official back in October, 2003, and has only missed one or two nights since then.
  • Gili – A regular for the past few months. Patient, kind, and fun to play with.
  • Michael and Elijah – Elijah was a regular attendee, but his school schedule is keeping him from coming this year. He’s about ten years old. Michael is his father. Both definitely geeks (in the best sense, of course).
  • Ben – my brother, the middle brother.
  • Zeke – about 14 yo, a neighbor who joined us a few months ago and now come regularly. Has some definite likes and dislikes with regards to games.
  • Shlomi – 19 or 20 yo son of friends of ours in Beit Shemesh. Of course, sons of my friends are my friends, too. I condescendingly gave him some stones as an advantage the first time we played go only to find out that he is a better player than I am even if I go first.
  • Michael V – found out about Games Day through Janglo, the local community mailing list. He has no previous experience, as far as I know, and he went straight into a 3-4 hour game of El Grande. I didn’t get to play with him. He looked about 50.

  • Tal – not my daughter, but a nice young man from somewhere on the coast, about a two hour drive to Jerusalem. I played with him at Gilad’s last August. He was the one who kept trying to get $5 more out of me. Very nice guy, and a solid game player. He was interested in trying my game, and, after playing it, he immediately bought a copy off of me.
  • Batya, Malcolm, and their three children or nieces – I can’t remember the kids’ names. Three cute girls who didn’t seem altogether interested in learning new games, really, but they did make it through Settlers and at least one of them liked it. I didn’t hear the reactions of the others. Malcolm came later. Batya and Malcolm came the previous Wednesday and learned the basics of Go.
  • Rachel – my lovely wife, having to deal with a game group and her newly arrived father in the house at the same time. Still managed to get in a game of Puerto Rico.
  • Ephrayim – used to play D&D in my/my brother’s group for the few months that it ran (until I destroyed it). He went to Chicago for a while and is now back in Israel. His first visit to the new JSGC.
  • Josh – came last Wed. From Ithaca, NY, in Israel for the year. A solid young man and game player, warm and friendly.
  • Howard A – Rachel’s father wanted to learn my game, and liked it.
  • Saarya – my son, came a little late, eager to play, especially since he is now in sleep-away school without much time to play during the week.

Age range: about 9 to about 50-something. New faces and old faces.

I realized early on with all the new people coming and going at undetermined times that I would have to do a lot of facilitating rather than game playing. I like it just as much, and I still got in a lot of plays. I’m still the best games explainer, but I couldn’t be everywhere at once, and the truth is that other people can explain games, too. It’s just a hard job for me to give up.

I didn’t get to play: any long games, like Railways of Catan, Empire Builder, or Die Macher, which I would have liked to have played, since we don’t get to play them on normal game nights.

I didn’t get to play: party games, ditto. I picked up Beyond Balderdash, which I had been hoping to try out.

There was also a call for roleplaying, something I sorely miss and would like to play once a month or so.

Games played, alphabetically:

Amun-Re

Ben 48, Tal 39, Zeke 39, Saarya 38

First play for Tal. Ben was on a roll tonight, winning everything he played.

Boggle x 3

Jon 26, Nadine 9

Nadine arrived first. We played a few games of Boggle while waiting for others.

Bridge x 6

Ben, Zeke, Shlomi, Jon, Nadine

Games played as fillers between other games, with partnerships changing. Although I am happy to devote a few hours to bridge, I didn’t have the patience to play more than a hand or two casually today.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Ephrayim 13, Josh 12, Gili 8, Elijah 7

Ephrayim had played Settlers, but this was first play of C&K for him. Probably for Josh, too. Close game up to the end, so I hear. A long one, too. This was the last game played. They finally finished about 11:30 pm.

Cribbage

Gili, one of the three children or nieces

Gili tried to teach one of the little munchkins.

Dvonn

Jon+, Tal

Good game, first play for Tal. After playing the pieces, the board looked pretty well divide on either side, with most of his pieces on one side. I considered lopping off that side of the board. Instead, I played my pieces like Empire At-Ats, those white machines that massacred the Rebels at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back. My pieces formed and took control of one side of the board, slowly advanced onto the red pieces, and eventually struck like locusts at all of his threats on the other side.

I wish there was a builtin handicap system, like there is with Go.

El Grande

Michael V 35/69/85, Michael 33/52/73, Nadine 29/65/100, Ben 31/63/112, Zeke 19/39/90

The longe game, playing at close to four hours. Scores above are after the three scoring phases. Looks like a dramatic comeback for Zeke in the endgame.

For Sale

Gili, Malcolm, Batya, the three children

Gili taught Batya and family. No more information.

Go x 2

Malcolm+, Batya+

Malcolm and Batya learned this last week. They played a game and called me over to figure out who won. Unfortunately, they had been neglecting to remove each other’s pieces after surrounding them, so there was no way to know who was surrounding whom, and who controlled what.

They played again, and this time I pointed out at the end of the game all the placed they passed on that were still really under contention and could still be won. Nevertheless, we counted up and they both basically controlled 38 spaces. Since Malcolm had gone first, that meant a win for Batya.

My Game Prototype #1

Ben+, Howard, Tal, Zeke

The mockup is called Light My Menorah since it was done in a Hannukah theme. First play for Howard and Tal, both of whom wanted to try the game. Everyone enjoyed it, as far as I could tell. Personally, I still don’t quite like the hazard rule, even though everyone else likes it the way it is now.

Princes of Florence

Nadine 57, Gili 52, Michael 49, Elijah 41, Jon 38

Played reasonably quickly, actually. I thought I was doing all the right things, but somehow by round three, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work out so well. It all went according to plan, but my plan wasn’t a high-point plan, that’s the problem. Meanwhile, other players managed to get some items at a steal, like a Recruiter for 500 on round one in a five player game.

Puerto Rico

Jon 60, Rachel 54, Nadine 43

We fussed around for a while trying to figure out how many players were playing, which meant counting and recounting pieces – one of PR’s biggest problems. Eventually we settled on the three of us veterans. We play a tight, dangerous game. I started off with the corn and decided to forgo money for a few rounds to obtain a VP lead, only to have it erased after Rachel took an early Harbor and gained 8 shipping points the following round. Eventually I was handed a coffee monopoly. Add Factory, hold my own with shipping, and buy three big buildings means game. Rachel added Small Wharf to her Harbor. Nadine had Custom’s House, Factory, and Tobacco (monopoly).

Noone ever buys Library. It is not useful to acquire it later in the game, and Factory, Harbor, or Wharf are all better buys.

San Juan

Gili 36, Elijah 32, Michael 28

Didn’t see much. Gili had both Guild Hall and City Hall. She was way ahead in number of buildings, at one point having ten buildings while they had eight and seven.

Settlers of Catan x 2

Batya, two of the kids (and Jon)

Gili, one of the kids, and ?

Introduced to Batya and children, some of whom payed attention, and some of whom had a hard time doing so. They kept comparing it to Monopoly (“It’s got trading, just like Monopoly!”). I tried not to pull my beard out in frustration hearing this.

Batya seemed to enjoy it, anyway. We will see if they try it again after the first playing.

I won my game. I was aiming for Largest Army, but I couldn’t pull any soldiers. I just kept pulling victory points (three out of four cards bought).

Some other children’s card game

The three kids

Which they played after SoC.

Taj Mahal

Jon 38, Gili 34, Shlomi 28, Tal 20, Elijah 18

Ah, TM. A surreal experience in strategy, hand management, bluffing, and cascading resources. A definite problem of “rich get richer” in this game, but the same is true for many games with resource accumulation, such as SoC, Risk, etc… Like a number of games, it requires a number of evenly skilled players to be enjoyed most.

Gili pulled ahead and kept a lead as I slowly climbed up behind. I passed her in round nine or so with commodities. On the last round, she simply withdrew and pulled cards. I think she would have been better off fighting me. Elijah didn’t even try to win, emptying his hand after every round. Tsk.

First play for everyone but me and Elijah.

Tigris and Euphrates

Ephrayim 9/9/9/9, Tal 6/7/7/12, Elijah 4/5/7/7, Josh 3/4/4/7

Darn. This rarely comes out in our game nights, and I didn’t get to play it. First play for all players except Elijah.


Oct 19, 2005

Participants: Jon, Gili, Zeke, Josh, Batya, Malcolm, Rachel A

Three, count ’em, three new people. Every time I advertise my Games Day I get some calls from new people. Some of them say they are interested in coming, but most don’t. This year I got a call from Batya; she sounded like a typical mom searching for fun stuff to do with her family. Somehow I didn’t actually expect her to show up, let alone show up for game night before Games Day. But she called after game night had started and then came with her husband, Malcolm. Unfortunately, we were smack dab in the middle of a game when they showed up. I introduced them to Go on a 9×9 board, which they seemed to enjoy. When they were done with two games, we were also done with our game and I was ready to start Settlers, but they already had to go. Not a perfect experience, but I hope they will come back for Games Day.

In the meantime, Josh emailed me at 5:00 pm. He is in Israel for the year, and he was Googling for games and Jerusalem and he found me. He was active in a game group in the states, apparently. Josh definitely sounded promising and I expected him to come for Games Day but he even managed to show up for game night. I believe he had a good time.

Game night started a little late. It was supposed to be in my sukkah, but it’s been raining and gusting ever since Sukkot started and my sukkah is half colapsed every evening. Sad.

Go

Jon+, Gili

Malcolm+, Batya

Malcolm+, Batya

I also introduced Gili to the game while we were waiting for others to show up. I’m not sure if she liked it, or abstracts in general. I think Batya and Malcolm enjoyed it; I just wished we could have incorporated them into the other game we were playing. Maybe I should have stopped our game just to do that. I don’t know. Small game groups are difficult that way. With a large game group, there’s always a few people just starting or ending a game.

Go. Lovely game. I still need to play another 30 games on a 9×9 board before I’m ready to move to 11×11.

Traders of Genoa

Jon 655, Zeke 610, Gili 550, Josh 540

I’ve played this twice before; both times were really long – even longer than our usual meaty games, wherein Amun Re takes 3.5 hours. I decided to simply knock two turns off the game. To balance that, I ruled that using the “start anywhere” card could not be used to shorten the game. The game took 2.5 hours, which was just about right.

This game was a first playing for both Josh and Zeke, second for Gili. It went over pretty well, although Zeke felt there was just a bit too much trading and nothing else. We played that the whole path can be negotiated at the beginning of each player’s turn, i.e. all future buildings in the turn. It makes the game go much better, and I can’t stand games where people can make agreements but not follow through on them (except maybe Diplomacy, where that is the entire mechanic).

Zeke ended up being the one to try to collect the Privileges. I only had three, but they all matched, which was lucky. Josh definitely fulfilled the most Large Orders, and seemed to have the most special tiles during the game. Gili was the negotiation meister – you know, the one that no matter what you offer her always asks for 5 ducats more.

I think all of them missed one or two rules here or there, e.g. that the 1:1 tiles can be used to trade for cards as well as goods. It’s not that I didn’t explain it, but details do tend to get lost in long explanations. First game is a learning experience, after all.

Malcolm and Batya had to leave when we were done and Josh only had 15 minutes more. Josh watched us play PR for a round or two and then went.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 64, Zeke 54, Rachel 53, Jon 50, Gili 41

Zeke wasn’t too keen on PR, but we persuaded him to give it another go. Rachel, of course, doesn’t play anything but PR.

We played with the following changes: you may move a colonist onto Hospice when you buy it, Trading Post instead of Office, Small Wharf instead of Large Warehouse, Library instead of University (never bought), Cathedral (+1 VP/3 red VPs on buildings) instead of Guild Hall.

The order of play was Zeke, Gili, Rachel, Jon, Nadine. The game actually proceded pretty normally, with no wierd plays or very odd strategies. Corn was scarce for the first part of the game. Goods almost all ran out several times. Zeke built coffee, indigos, and Trading Post, the last of which works very nicely in five player. He ended with two big buildings. Gili built Coffee and Wharf, also a nice building in five players, but through circumstances beyond her control she was locked out of trading several times. Rachel build Tobacco, Factory, and a big building. I built Coffee, Trading Post, Wharf, and a big building. Nadine had Tobacco, Factory and a big building. Towards the end, Nadine also got Small Wharf and Harbor, which gave her the decisive victory.

Player Ship Build Bonus Total
Jon 24 22 4 50
Rachel 27 19 7 53
Nadine 35 21 8 64
Zeke 15 24 15 54
Gili 27 14 0 41

Oct 10, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Yona

The JSGC schedule is under stress, what with the Jewish holidays and my planned trip abroad. After several callings off and rescheduling, I called for a game night Monday night on Sunday. David and Nadine were able to attend, with Gili saying she could only attend on Tuesday. The majority won out. Yona, Nadine’s son, was also present.

After some other figuring, regular game nights have been scheduled again, with all but the next one in Nadine’s house. This is in addition to Game Day on the 23rd. I don’t know if this is such a wise idea, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. Game Day has been advertised, in any case.

Tonight’s game was at Nadine’s, since on Mondays my house has too much going on. Too bad, because Rachel would have wanted to play, too.

My Game Prototype #1

Jon+, Nadine

I arrived early bearing a spanking fresh printing of my game prototype, ready to be mailed to prospective reviewers and whomsuches and all. The pieces work pretty nice – better than I feared – except for the coins, which don’t work so well. But for demo copies, they’re good enough.

Nadine bought a few too many wild cards, allowing me to collect a few more cards that I needed before she could.

Louis XIV

David 48, Nadine 44, Jon 42, Yona 37

Still interesting, and not too long. Really the biggest problem with the game is the coats of arms, not becuase of the luck swing, but because of the ridiculous way they work. Without any human intervention, you collect them during the game and then fiddle around with them while counting scoring, all with absolutely no control. Come on – surely something could have been done to make this make more sense.

Otherwise, the game has lots of nice interesting choices. I am beginning to wonder about the value of coats of arms vs the chips. The chips provide 2.5 points plus the benefits from the missions. The coats of arms provide 1 point apiece, plus another sixth of a point, roughly. I am wondering if this is balanced, or what would happen if the coats of arms were simply boosted in value, such as 2 points each. How much would it affect the game, and would it be good or bad?

All of us had our mistakes during the game. Yona started off strong, but David managed a killer last round to win the pot. Nadine also did very well in the last round, jumping ahead of me.

Taj Mahal

Nadine 62, Jon 54, David 42

3 6 9 12
Jon 6 13 21 54
David 5 17 25 42
4 13 37 62 42

All of us believe that the commodities are simply stronger than the connections. Why? Because the connections only pay off on rounds that you win a provence next to other provences. Commodities win for you on any round and you almost always repeat commodities. It is just a bigger payoff, even in three player.

I had two nice connection payoffs, rounds 10 and 12. But that couldn’t match the commodity payoffs for Nadine in rounds 8, 9, 11, and 12. I thought I was doing pretty well, too, until I got outclassed in elephants. There were a lot of two player battles; they were spread pretty evenly, but David took the brunt of too many of them.

G’night, and have a happy new year.


Sep 28, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Zeke, Genia, Dylan, Gili, Yona, Rachel A

A good night for what may be the last regular session in quite a while, what with the hagim and my trip coming up next month. Elijah wrote to say that he won’t be able to come for a while, and Zeke wrote to say that he will be able to come regularly after all. Ben and David K both wrote to say they were coming and then wrote to cancel, and Gili, Genia, and Dylan all came without warning. Makes planning exciting!

Boggle

Nadine, Jon

Nadine arrived first, and with very little time we played one game. Both of us had long lists of words that the other didn’t have. I think we only matched twice. And we played only four letter words or longer.

San Juan

Nadine 38, Jon 36, Yitzchak 35, Zeke 31

Zeke and Yitzchak showed up but we were still expecting at least Yona, Nadine’s son, so we played what I thought would be a half hour game. I should just double all of my time estimates. Amun Re – 4 hours, Die Macher – 8 hours. There.

We played a pretty close game. I had a working Well, Aqueduct, and Smithy, Nadine had Prefecture and Trading Post, Zeke … not sure, but they somehow didn’t quite work, and Yitzchak an early Prefecture, Quarry, then Library, but no trading to speak of. I ended up tossing two cards three times. At the end, Nadine was looking for Hero, and I was looking for Silver.

In the order built:

Jon: Tobacco, Smithy, Well, Silver, Market Hall, Silver, Aqueduct, Guild Hall, Indigo, Palace, Sugar

Yitzchak: Prefecture, Quarry, Library, Hero, Statue, Triumphal Arch, Smithy, Tobacco, Victory Column, Guild Hall

Zeke: Well, Black Market, Silver, Hero, Quarry, City Hall, Poor House, Chapel++, Aqueduct, Tower

Nadine: Coffee, Prefecture, Trade Post, Tower, Carpenter, Market Stand, Palace, Victory Column, City Hall, Triumphal Arch, Quarry

For Sale

Yona 83, Dylan 61, Genia 40

Gili 73, Genia 72, Yona 59, Dylan 48

Once again we bring out For Sale. Why? Because I wanted something for the three of them to be able to play while we finished San Juan, and which would be easy to pick up and play quickly. For Sale just works that way. And they all enjoyed it. How about them apples?

Louis XIV

Zeke 51, Yitzchak 46, Nadine 45, Yona 34

In a rare feat of events, we all finished at the same time and could swap partners. Yitzchak had to leave early again, so I brought out Louis XIV hoping it would take 2 hours. Yitzchak still had to start hurrying people near the end, which frustrated Nadine. Urg.

They caught on quickly and seemed to enjoy it. Way to go Zeke.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Jon 13, Dylan 12, Gili 11

We toyed with Traders of Genoa, but I said it would take long. Also considered Puerto Rico, but I got a request for C&K, so that is what we played. I spent some time explaining the rules, which caused Genia to glaze over like a sweet jelly doughnut – not because she couldn’t understand the rules, but because it was obviously too late for her to try something complicated. She went to read and ended up helping Rachel with something.

First play for Gili and second or third for Dylan, I think. Well played all around. I ended up with a shortage of paper, but reasonably good other stuff. I kind of felt like I was winning this time, even though I never had more points than anyone during the entire game. I had some cities and the Merchant, while Gili had a VP from a blue card, and Dylan had Longest Road and mid-game Aqueduct. I had more experience, however, which gave me an edge even though I gave over a bit of advice here and there.

At the end of the game I was going to win and then rolled a seven. Then I traded lots of cards going for the Metropolis in blue forgetting that I could have swiped longest road for the last two points. That delayed me for yet two more rounds. Dylan had the first Metropolis in green; Gili should have taken it, but I think she didn’t fully absorb how important it was to be first.

Puerto Rico

Gili 51, Jon 46, Rachel 43

It felt late, but it was only 10:30 and Gili was up for another game, so we brought Rachel in to play after everyone else had to go. Rachel is unhappy that she hasn’t won lately, and this didn’t help. We played with the changes: a) Move colonist onto Hospice when buying, b) Discretionary Hold instead of Large Warehouse, c) Library instead of University, d) Cathedral (+1 VP/3 red building VPs) instead of Guild Hall.

1 Rachel Builder Sm Market, Sm Market, pass
Jon Settler Quarry, Corn, Corn. This corn wins Gili the game.
Gili Mayor Rachel starts the game off outside the main line. This should hurt player three a bit, as she doesn’t get Sm Market. But she ends up not needing it.
2 Jon Trader+
Gili Craftsman+ 3 corn for Gili.
Rachel Captain+ 3 VPs for Gili.
3 Gili Craftsman 3 corn for Gili.
Rachel Mayor
Jon Builder+ I build Hospice and man it immediately. The other choice was Lg Indigo (Sm Indigo wastes my quarry bonus). I figure on taking some more quarries and corns. Rachel building Sm Sugar.
4 Rachel Trader+ Trades corn for 2.
Jon Settler++ Manned quarry. Gili takes the only sugar, to Rachel’s frustration. Rachel takes Coffee.
Gili Builder Gili builds Sm Sugar. I build Coffee, much to Rachel’s frustration.
5 Jon Captain++ 3 VPs for Gili. Lots of GP for me.
Gili Mayor+
Rachel Craftsman+ Gili produces sugar. Rachel produces indigo.
6 Gili Trader+ Gili trades sugar, Rachel trades indigo. Ho hum.
Rachel Builder+ Rachel builds Factory.
Jon Settler+ I take manned corn. Gili takes tobacco. Gili gets a tobacco monopoly. going for a while.
7 Rachel Mayor+ Rachel mans Factory. I man coffee.
Jon Settler I get another manned corn.
Gili Captain+ Gili now has 10 VP, to my 1. That’s a big building worth. At this point I begin to fear that the VP lead Gili has is already too much.
8 Jon Builder+ I build Large Market for 2, hoping to churn out big buildings. But trading gets blocked up, and I don’t get it done fast enough. I probably would have won with Office.
Gili Craftsman++ Rachel is Factorying, Gili is mass producing. Urg.
Rachel Captain
9 Gili Trader++ Somehow Gili gets Craftsman and Trader, both with double GP on them, and trads Tobacco, filling the Trading House.
Rachel Builder Gili builds Factory.
Jon Mayor+
10 Rachel Settler++ I get another manned corn. Not enough. Gili is producing 3 tobaccos, corn and sugar, and Rachel has 4 goods. Both have Factory.
Jon Trader Sell coffee for 8 GP. Noone else trades, so the Trading House is stuck.
Gili Craftsman+
11 Jon Builder+ I build Cathedral.
Gili Captain++
Rachel Mayor+
12 Gili Trader+ Gili trades tobacco, no one else can trade.
Rachel Settler+ Rachel picks up tobacco, giving her five goods.
Jon Builder Trying to end the game, here. Gili builds Custom’s House.
13 Rachel Mayor+
Jon Craftsman++ Bah. Dumb move on my part. Yes, I need the indigo to trade, but Rachel is producing 5 goods, and Gili is shipping like crazy. Why do I do this?
Gili Captain+
14 Jon Trader+ I trade indigo, enough for another big building.
Gili Captain Fine play.
Rachel Craftsman
15 Gili Builder++ Gili builds Wharf (she’s one shy), Rachel builds Fortress, I build City Hall.
Rachel Trader Rachel should have captained. I had 11 building spaces filled and was going to end the game next turn. Why risk losing shipping space? And she knows I have to mayor to fill my building, which lets Gili fill her wharf.
Jon Mayor+ Filling my last big building, but filling Gili’s wharf.
16 Rachel Captain+
Jon Builder I fill my 12th building space.
Gili Setller+++

Final scores:

Ship Build Bonus Total
Jon 9 24 13 46
Gili 29 15 7 51
Rachel 18 20 5 43

Sep 21, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Zeke, Louis

I thought Zeke wasn’t going to be coming back regularly, but he came again. I guess he will be showing up sporadically. Louis also came. I do wish I would know ahead of time who is coming when, so that we can schedule when to start. We almost started a game of St Pete when Louis came, bringing us to five players, so we tossed it in. Then we wrangled over games for a while, before, once again, settling on the game that nobody hates.

Amun Re

David 43+, Jon 43-, Nadine 40, Zeke 34, Louis 28

Yes, that’s David winning by a tie with most pyramids. We almost played with the “pick 2-keep 1” rule. Can we do that from now on, please? I had my usual assortment of junk picks, 5 of my first 7 cards were bonus VP cards, 2 of which were duplicates, and only two of which I could fulfill. I must have tossed out 4 or 5 cards (tossing on the last round doesn’t count).

Still, if I was picking so badly, how did I score so well? I ended up paying 0 for all of my last provinces, since I took ones that were relatively useless, but helped me with my bonus cards. I scored 3 bonus cards in the last part of the game. I also ended with most money.

Meanwhile, David K bid heavily on Memphis in both eras, taking that side of the Nile both times. The second time he paid 28 for it, while the rest of us paid no more than 6 for our provinces – he kind of overspent, since he could have taken it for 21. 15 wouldn’t have taken it, however.

Meanwhile, Louis collected a number of temples at the beginning of the game, but didn’t get too much else of note – this was his first game and all.

The bidding was light in the first half of the game, since early provinces were camel provinces. Nadine and Zeke both had these. Nadine was basically making a killing the whole game. While we were earning 12 cash, she earned 20, and when we made 22, she made 40. And she still was raking in the VP’s. I don’t know where she went wrong at the end, but she didn’t manage to get any nice bonuses, other than three sets of pyramids and third place in money.

Nadine adds: Where I went wrong:

I should have overbid Louis for the province that I needed to fulfill my all by the river bonus card, he took the only by the river province left. I’m not positive that would have still let me get my pyramids, but I think so. I bid high at the end even though I knew it helped David because I wanted the three items, but I wasted them on cards that were useless, the previous 2 were also useless. Anyway, I should have been able to get at least 3 more points, which would have resulted in a 3-way tie. I had a 2-card limit the whole game which made it less likely I’d get bonuses, but gave me more money for pyramids. In the first half, I couldn’t buy farmers either, second half I needed them for the 9 farmer card.

David Memphis Buto Dakhla 10 Memphis Kharga Damanhur 43+
Nadine Sawu Berenike Avaris 17 Abu Mendes Berenike 40
Zeke Kharga Mendes Baharya 12 Avaris Baharya Dakhla 34
Louis Edfu Damanhur Amarna 9 Buto Edfu Abydos 28
Jon Abu Thebes Abydos 12 Amarna Thebes Sawu 43-

St Petersburg

David 105, Jon 85, Nadine 79

Both David and Nadine had played before, but not with the right rules. Nadine was the one who started and stayed a little money shy this time, although she still managed to out-aristocrat me, ending pretty close. I had some nice buildings running, including money making ones. But I couldn’t seem to pick up aristocrats. I don’t remember ever turning any away, so I think it must have something to do with seating order or the way the cards filled in. That basically did it.

Now that I think about it, both Nadine and David also took the observatory, while I passed it up. That was also an edge in getting the aristocrats. Next time I’ll remember to take it.

There is something similar in the way the cards fill in to the feeling of moving colonists around to affect how many colonists are going to arrive in PR. David and Nadine managed to collect 9 aristocrats each, while I had only 6, which was a 45 to 21 point differential. David made good use of some early player positioning to secure a few more workers, which definitely gave him an edge with money most of the time.

I still think the aristocrat swing at the end of the game is just a bit too much. Still, it is public knowledge, and therefore should really be no worse than the Jester in PoF, I suppose.

David adds: I disagree with your comment that aristocrats are like Jester’s in PoF. There is a LARGE asymmetry in what aristocrats happen to become available to you. It would be like PoF if instead of taking turns, everyone bid simultaneously.

Nadine adds: They’re not like jesters, but having a greater number helps you disproportionately to their cost, or something. Way too much luck/chance in St. Pete, games where you have less control are less interesting. POF you feel like you have lots of control which makes it challenging, same with PR.


Sep 14, 2005

Participants: Jon, Rachel A, Nadine, Ben, Yitzchak, Gili, Zeke, Dylan

Plenty of games and company tonight. I played a number of games, which I won, and then I felt guilty for winning all the games instead of my guests getting a chance, and then I felt guilty for being paternalistic about insinuating that the other players weren’t mature enough to handle a rousing good game, winning or losing. Then I felt … whatever. Suffice to say that I’m an impefect human being, but we all knew that.

Zeke will not be a usual, since he is back in school, but he happened to have no homework tonight. Dylan and Genia showed up; Genia is a friend of Ben’s, and Dylan is her fiance. Genia didn’t feel like playing for whatever reason, but Dylan was heppy to play. Good thing, because he is a good player in every respect. Nice to have him, and I hope he comes again.

Can’t Stop

Zeke+, Nadine, Gili, Jon

I needed a filler until a few stragglers showed up, and, having just read Dice Games by Knizia, I thought it might be fun to open up the minds of my players with something different. Nope.

None of them particularly enjoyed the experience, from what I could tell, although the game does involve some thinking. Not much, but some. Just not our type of game, I guess.

Gili lost her first rolls, and then pushed her luck until she got an entire column. Zeke then got two columns quickly, and then I got two, and then Zeke got one more. ‘sbout it.

El Grande

Ben 113, Nadine 112, Zeke 105, Yitzchak

Zeke’s first time; there doesn’t seem to be too many games that he actually likes; he doesn’t like PoF, Taj Mahal, and a number of others. Luckily this one went over ok.

Ben pulled ahead in the second round. Several areas were still completely empty, and he managed to take the “score all first place in all regions” card. He dropped one cube everywhere and scored a whopping 27 points with one card, giving only 5 or 6 to two others. The end of the first round had Ben at 53, Nadine at 36, Zeke at 28, and Yitz at 26.

The others turned on him, however, and his lead gradually eroded away. Historically, this is Nadine’s game, and she gained a lot of ground. By the end of the second scoring, it was Ben 82, Nadine 75, and Zeke at 70. Yitzchak was out of the running.

I didn’t catch the rest of the game, but as you can see from the final scores, it came down to the wire.

St Petersburg

Jon 95, Rachel 89, Gili

I am trying to ‘sell’ St Pete to Rachel, but not with much success. She has been willing to give it a go, but she just doesn’t feel the same spark that she does with Puerto Rico, and that’s what matters. Still, she was willing to give it another go, especially since this would be the first time playing 3 player with the correct rules.

This was Gili’s first game, and she has trouble securing money sources. In the meantime, although I fell behind in VPs as usual at the start, I thought I was doing pretty well. Rachel and I were neck and neck at the end, however, and we both landed on 92 as our final score, before subtracting five points from Rachel for a card she couldn’t play and then adding the money.

Tikal

Jon 119, Gili 102, Dylan 95

Dylan and Genia showed up at the end of the St Pete game, and of course the El Grande game was still going. Rachel went to work, and Dylan joined us. He has game experience, although he hadn’t played Tikal, and Gili had played only once and had forgotten.

I explained the rules, and a bit of strategy. Both of them overbid for hexes, I believe, and my experience with knowing when to secure a temple and when to arrange things worked in my favor. Despite this, both of them played very well, and it was no cakewalk.

Scores after the first scoring were: Jon 25, Dylan 20, Gili 16. After the second scoring: Jon 39, Dylan 32, Gili 30. After the third scoring: Jon 67, Dylan 60, Gili 55. I think Gili’s goal after the third scoring was to beat Dylan, which she ultimately did.

This also marks the first time that we played the scoring correct, as far as I know. I had always understood that the scoring round was: everyone taken ten action points, and then everyone score, and then continue with the player’s turn. That arrangement make taking your turn before the volcano critical. However, the correct method of play is: volcano taker takes ten points and then scores, and then the next player takes ten points and then scores, and so on, and then continue the player’s turn. In this situation, people fight to take the volcano, because it is always easier to be the first to secure an area.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 54, Ben 46, Rachel 42

I didn’t follow this, but I could hear Rachel moaning about the mistakes she made from about halfway through the game. They played with expansion buildings: Storehouse, Trading Post, Aqueduct, Library, Small Wharf.

Rachel was first, and Nadine was second. Nadine managed to secure an early and powerful Factory, along with what appears to be a Coffee monopoly, a Storehouse, and two big buildings. Ben also got Factory, and eventually two big buildings. Rachel had a Harbor and a Storehouse, but it seems like the other two were feeding each other.

San Juan

Jon+, Gili

This was a quick game played before leaving, and while Puerto Rico was still going on. I built a first turn Prefecture and the game was basically over. I followed with Smithy, Tobacco, Aqueduct, Well, Silver, Tobacco, and Guild Hall. Gili started with an unsuccessful Gold Mine, and then Trading Post and Coffee, but things were always a phase or two off what she needed.

Thanks to everyone who brought snacks. They were appreciated! See you next week.


Sep 07, 2005

Participants: Jon, Elijah, ???, Nadine, Gili, Ben, Louis, Rachel A

A night of being late and kibbitzing games. I was delayed helping my parents with their computer, and only arrived at 7:00, a half an hour after game start. Several members were already here, happily playing.

??? above refers to some other young person that Elijah brought who was on his way to somewhere else and only stayed until 7 himself. I don’t know anything more.

Cribbage

Gili, Louis

They were in the middle of a game when I arrived, and stopped when I began to set up Princes (and Princesses) of Florence.

Chess

Elijah, ???

They were also in the middle of a game, but pieces seemed to keep flying off the board every turn, so I’m not sure how disciplined it was 🙂 .

Prince of Florence

Ben 58, Nadine 54, Gili 46, Louis 40, Elijah 38

I set everyone up to play PoF, and went off to do several things that I didn’t have time to do since I had gotten home so late. I kibbitzed a bit here and there.

Louis is a natural gamer, and so is Gili. Both of them pick up rules and strategies very quickly. This was each their first game of PoF.

Nadine held onto the most number of works and jumped forward alarmingly at the end, but Ben had played very carefully and won with his prestige card. Gili got lucky and grabbed the last freedom that she needed for her prestige card on the last round. Earlier she had an agonizing choice of leaving the freedom and possibly losing it, but playing a work she desperately needed for the cash. Or not playing the work and being totally broke. She made the right decision.

Changes that we play with in five player: can only buy one profession card each, and each player chooses one from two, instead of one from five. The remaining (twenty-first) card can still be recruited.

St Petersburg

Rachel 36, Jon 16

While the PoF game went on, Rachel needed some TLC so we played this again.

OK, something is seriously wrong with this game. It is supposed to last 7 to 10 rounds, but each round that we played: the traders were hardly taken, there were few workers, so all 8 buildings came out. So only a few aristocrats came out, so most of the traders came out. Rinse repeat. The game was over in four rounds, and I don’t see how you can stop that, short of putting a limit on the number of buildings that can come out. Maybe rack it down to six spaces, instead of eight.

Our low scores attest to a frustratingly fast and uninspiring game.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 62, Jon 55, Gili 53, Nadine 44

This time Louis was the observer; he thought he would have to go early. Since he had played San Juan, I explained the rules in about 45 seconds, albeit without the specifics of each building and privilege, or the shipping and trading rules.

Gili was first, Nadine second, me third, Rachel fourth. We played with Assembly Line (all production buildings can hold additional colonist), Small Fashion District (trade indigo at +2), Construction Hut, Small Warehouse, Hospice (may move colonist onto it when bought), Trading Post, Large Market, Discretionary Hold (store 3 extra goods, place barrels on full ship for +1 VP), Factory, Library, Harbor, Wharf, Cathedral (+1 VP/ 3 red building points), Fairgrounds (VP’s based on different types of plantations), Fortress, Customs House, City Hall.

Gili bought Small Fashion District and Assembly Line, but only ended up with one corn, and late. She got Factory and Fortress on the second to last round. On the last round she had to forgo shipping for 7 vp’s to man her Fortress which gave her 8 vps. This prevented others from shipping, since she would have benefitted most.

Nadine bought Discretionary Hold and proceeded to abuse it nicely. She also had Trading Post and took Fairgrounds for a full bonus of +7.

I took early Construction Hut (I never do this) and took two quarries. I ended with a third, as well. Then I had coffee monopoly and took Trading Post in order to gum up the trading house, although Gili also eventually got coffee. Frankly, since there were two Factories out there, they didn’t really need the Trading House, anyway. I ended with Cathedral and City Hall, each with nice bonuses.

Rachel had early corn and Assembly Line, and was producing 5 or 6 items by the fourth or fifth turn. Add a Factory and Customs House, and thirty seven shipping points later.

All in all, it is fun to be back playing with Rachel and in person, with different buildings. The game is still very different each time we play.

Yehuda


Aug 31, 2005

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak, Nadine, Louis, Tal, Ben, Gili

Well, well. In this week I show my poor hospitality skills. Louis is a new player who showed up, and although I said hello and offered him water, I didn’t play with him, and I was still in the middle of a game when his finished. I hope he comes again. Next time I promise to play with him directly!

Welcome back Nadine who was in America for a month. Welcome back Yitzchak, who I assume will only be joining us once in a while now that he’s married. And of course, welcome everyone else.

My Game Prototype #1

Nadine+, Louis, Yitzchak

I was still finishing dinner, so I welcomed Louis and set him up – now this is his first “new game” ever, his last game having been D&D – with my game prototype. Hee hee! Luckily, I think he liked it well enough. Yitzchak got battered again by the lucky element, and Nadine still thinks that that part of the game (the lucky part that batters) should be toned down.

Settlers of Catan

Ben 10, Louis 9, Tal

Tal tells me that she was colluded against. Ben and Louis had a close finish, otherwise.

San Juan

Ben 31, Louis

A learning game for Louis, it would be unfair to give his final score. This game and Settlers were both played and finished before our Traders of Genoa game was done, and then some.

Traders of Genoa

Jon 905, Yitzchak 835, Gili 825, Nadine 775

I played this game at Gilad’s a few weeks ago, and it was fun. By Alea, the game looks like a clone of Princes of Florence and Goa, same genre, anyway. This is basically a pickup and delivery game and a negotiation game. There are mildly complicated rules about how to earn money, and lots of cards that give you priviliges. The heart of it is each round, there are up to five things for sale. Each player can have one, and the rest are bought from the current player. All items, including money, cards, priviliges, goods, etc can be swapped. Player with the most money at the end wins.

This was also a learning game, but a good showing all around. At Gilad’s we were playing a few things wrong: we were selling building actions even away from the current location of the tower, we were enforcing long distance deals, and we were misplaying the 1:1 cards.

As far as the first two of those go, after trying to play according to the rules, I couldn’t make any sense out of it. How can you offer for something and not have it binding? Do you pay? If you pay, does that mean that he can then back out of it? If you don’t, and he moves towards where you wanted, can you then refuse to pay? I wasn’t going to try to figure that out, so I went back to the way we had played at Gilad’s: any movement or building is up for grabs, and all deals are final once any money or item changes hands.

As far as the 1:1 card goes, at Gilad’s they only used it to trade goods 1:1, although the rules say you can trade any item, e.g. cards, special cards, markers, or goods. Works much better this way.

Yitzchak managed to sneak off with seven privileges before I noticed him. I thought that would be game, but, even maxed making 250 off of them, but was too far behind in deliveries.

Nadine was doing quite well, too. Gili took on the role of my nemesis this game, always asking for 5 more than I was willing to offer. She also had a set of 4 priviliges.

I managed a few good turns in the middle of the game, and I got the most markers for most of the game, so I was also in good shape. So, basically, it was anyone’s game.

All in all, fun, but very long. Next time we have to knock off 1 or 2 rounds. If we do that, we may have to start with a few more items, however, like a marker or two, or an extra delivery.

See you next week.


Aug 24, 2005

Participants: Jon, David K, Elijah, Michael, Gili

I was all set to play two games that are new to my house. One that we did get to play is St Petersburg, which I got through trading GeekGold. The other is Traders of Genoa, borrowed from Gilad, which we didn’t get to play, since Michael and Elijah had to leave early, and I didn’t think three was a good number for a trading game like that. Luckily, we also got Torres back from him last week, which is perfect for three.

St Petersburg

David 36, Michael 23, Elijah 23, Jon 20

First play for everyone, the game is open in front of me and I am reading the rules for the second time trying to explain the game to myself and to David when Michael and Elijah walk in.

Everything seems simple enough. Each round you alternately offer green cards, blue cards, orange cards, and a mixtures of all three up for sale. Green cards give money during the green phase, blue cards give vp’s during the blue phase, orange cards give either or both during the orange phase, and the mixture are more powerful cards that are used to build on top of your other cards for the difference in price. In addition, orange cards give bonus points at the end of the game.

Seems like a no-brainer to get green cards and then orange ones, so of course I mess it up.

Anyway, play continues until a deck runs out. A few other nifty dynamics during the game, such as taking cards in the hopes of building them later, and how many cards come out each phase, which is determined by how many are left from the previous phase.

David and I really enjoyed it, which surprised me, because I thought I might not, after hearing everyone say how there is only one way to win on the Geek. I guess I’m lucky that I didn’t study those comments too closely so that I can enjoy the game.

Anyhoo, David saved his cash appropriately, while I used mine up too early and ended up doing too much early passing. I only had one aristocrat by the end of the game which hurt. David had 4, and the others had 3 each. The last round of the game is rather wierd where the only thing that will help you is aristocrats, since scoring happens at the wrong times for many of the cards you buy.

Looking forward to playing again.

By Hook or By Crook

David K+, Jon, Micahel, Elijah, Gili

Definitely the right number for this game, although it works with four, too. David hated it – blind bidding and rock paper scissors is not his interest at all. It really shouldn’t be mine, also, and to top it off, the game has an annoying repetitive mechanic, but I still don’t mind the game. It is always fun to see three robbers or three detectives and no exhibitions.

I still don’t like the mechanic of the detectives, where the rich get the richest reward. I think we will try it reversed next time.

My Game Prototype #1

Elijah+, Michael

E & M had only another twenty minutes before they had to go, so Elijah taught Michael how to play my game prototype. Elijah walked off with an easy victory, I believe.

Torres

Jon 210, David 205, Gili 199

This game is close often enough, but this was a really close one. It was Gili’s first game so we gave a bit of extra advice during the game. I was ahead 38-25-24 after the first round, but I knew it wouldn’t last. By the end of the second round, David was one step above me in every tower, and Gili was either above or tied. We ended the second round with me still ahead, but barely – 102-98-97.

Unlike most games, however, I saved one of my best cards for last. This is the card that lets you place a block underneath one of your knights. Gili placed the king in a location that had no building opportunites, but I was already there on the second level. I left the card until the last round so as not to tip my hand, and then I jumped onto the third level, going from 12 to 33 in that kingdom. As you can see from the final scores, without that boost I would have been one toasted prince.

Until next week.


Aug 17, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Gili, Elijah, Hannah, Bracha

This week was the last week in the Kummer’s house; next week we will be back in our usual spot, my apt. My daughter was having a sleepover, so I went shopping around for other places to host the club but couldn’t find one. We ended up playing in the kitchen for a while, since the girls were watching TV in the living room. The kitchen is teensy. When Hannah and Bracha came, I kicked the girls out, and we played in the LR for a hour until the evening was done.

Bracha and Hannah come to us through Elijah’s mom, somehow. Friend of a friend, or something. Bracha is Hannah’s daughter. They came at the end of the Louis XIV game. Luckily they weren’t scared away. After wrapping up in about 15 minutes, I took out Settlers … but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Dvonn

Jon 1, Saarya 1

Played while waiting for other guests. I feel comfortable playing this now, although the game state seems to change so much with each move that I still can’t see forward more than 1 round. Good game, although I wish the first phase didn’t feel so flat.

Louis XIV

Gili 41, Saarya 37, Jon 36, Elijah 31

First time for Gili and Elijah, and actually the first full game for me, too. Also the first four player game played here.

Saarya looked like he was winning for most of the game. I had as many missions, but they were weaker and I had less money and shields. Gili had one less mission, but she was up to 6 or 7 shields by turn 3, so I knew she wasn’t doing too badly. She ended up with 21 shields for a respectable first place. I did slightly better than Saarya in turn 4, so I caught up a bit.

Very good game from Rudiger Dorn.

Settlers of Catan

Hannah 10, Gili 6, Jon 6, Bracha 5

I’m always happy when a new player wins their first game of Settlers, as it usually means they will be hooked 🙂 . This time we had two new players, so they couldn’t both win. Hannah basically cornered ore; an 8 gave her 3 of them every roll, and she won with 4 cities and Longest Road. I had too many sheep at the beginning, and not enough at the end.

I didn’t do any number tracking, but 8 rolled up a lot, 6 less. 2 rolled 3 times, no 12s. 7 only thrice – nobody ever had to toss. With so little ore, very few developement cards were bought, although I got one early. Unfortunately it was a useless VP.

Both Bracha and Hannah enjoyed the game, and hopefully they will be back next week. Let’s teach ’em Die Macher, heh heh.

Gin Rummy

Saarya 1, Elijah 1

While we played Settlers, Saarya played with Elijah while waiting for his pickup to arrive. They each won a game of Gin.

My Game Prototype #1

Saarya 1, Elijah 0

Saarya didn’t know that my game works for two players. When I told him he took it and played. No other info about the game, sorry.

See you next week back in the house. Rachel will probably want to play Puerto Rico, unless she gets her fill over the weekend. Just to warn you.


Aug 10, 2005

Participants: Jon, Gili, Elijah, Saarya

This week’s game was held at Gili’s house, owing to her husband having been called up for army service. Gili thought he would have to be down in Gaza for the whole evacuation, but he showed up during the evening with the happy announcement that he has been let off due to some snafu holdover from last year, so yay. That means Gili can come to the normal location next week, again, although maybe it would be nice to include her husband in the games, which we could only do if we had it at their house.

Elijah came back from America this morning and insisted on coming to game group, even though at odd points during the evening he would fall asleep and then wake up again as if nothing had happened. Also, Saarya had spent the day in town, so he was able to come. Several of the regulars are on vacation.

Gobblet

Saarya 2, Gili 0

Gili brought out this game when Saarya showed up early. Gobblet is a little abstract that looks like Quarto. Each player has three “stacks” of four pieces. In each stack, you have a little piece, a piece that completely covers that one, a third that completely covers both of those, and a fourth that covers all three.

The board is 4×4. On your turn, you can move the top piece of one of your stacks to an empty spot on the board, or move one your pieces on the board by lifting it up (possibly uncovering whatever was beneathe it), and gobbling some other piece. The object is to get 4 in a row. You may also gobble a piece from off the board if your opponent has a three in a row threat.

Of course, by revealing a piece while gobbling, you may be giving your opponent 4 in a row. Quarto is a lovely little math puzzle, but I don’t find it that interesting to play since I have never lost and doubt that I ever will. This game looks slightly more complicated – at least you have to remember what is underneath the pieces. But, like Quarto, it doesn’t look like it has long replayability. I will have to play a few times to tell for sure.

By Hook or By Crook

Saarya+, Gili, Jon, Elijah

Gili and I enjoyed this last week, so I figured to give it another try this week. Unfortunately, Saarya found it boring, and Elijah did poorly, so he wasn’t happy either. Saarya pulled ahead early, and I was close behind. Eventually Gili passed me and overtook Saarya for a brief moment, but then he ended the game far ahead. Gili got the best set, but even after the eight space bonus was still one space behind Saarya at the end.

Amun Re

Jon 56, Saarya 42, Elijah 40, Gili

Most of my Amun Re games have been low bidding games, with water levels at 1 or 2. A few games, including some recent ones, were at 3 a lot. This one had two rounds of 3, followed by 4 rounds of 4. In round 5, the total spent on water was 42 gold.

With so much harvest, it was the richest game I ever played. I got 62 gold from harvest just in round 3. The -3 card was never played.

I started off with my most recent strategy of building few pyramids in the first era and concentrating on harvests. But I also got extraordinary lucky with the cards. I used a +1 harvest bonus 5 rounds, and a +1 brick 6 rounds. That is unlike any other game I have played. Which goes to show that the luck of the cards is still too much of a determining factor in the game. Anyhow, Saarya was still pretty close behind, earning 52 in round 3. At the end of the first era, Elijah was at 18, I was at 15, Saarya was at 12, and Gili at 10.

But I still had the most money and the best cards. At this point, I bought all of the best provincesm and there was little that they could do to stop me, although I had to bid to 36 in round 6 to get the province I wanted. I ended with 4 sets of pyramids, and a fifth on one side for best on that side of the river. Saarya took the other side. Gili stuck it out, even though she was far behind, and unable to catch up without enough money.

Next week back at the Kummers (or Gili’s), and the week after that back in my house. Looks like we will get to keep playing through the whole summer, after all. Yay!


Aug 3, 2005

Participants: Jon, Michael, Nadine, Gili

This week is Nadine’s last time for a month. Gili is also out for the next month, unless we move to her house, which is possible. Small group, but not a small amount of fun.

My brother finally came back to Israel with a few games: The PR expansion (not strictly necessary, since I just use paper bits, but there you go), By Hook or By Crook (Adel Verplicht), Beyond Balderdash, and Empire Builder. I got most of these for GeekGold or $5 or less. Not bad deals. On the other hand, I didn’t really need the PR expansion; I don’t know when I will get to play BB, since it is not a strategy game for the club, and it uses writing, so is not a game for shabbat; Empire Builder is long, and likely to only interest David and Avraham Klein. BHoBC looked the most promising.

My Game Prototype #1

Nadine+, Jon, Michael

Michael had never played, and Nadine had never won, so we rectified these two problems. Nadine’s theory was that she never wins the same game twice in a row, and that she can’t win two games in one evening. I’ve got the historical data, so go look through it and see if she’s right.

San Juan

Jon 32, Nadine 31, Michael 30

We were waiting for Gili, who said she was coming late, so we played another “filler” game. This one was very close. Nadine dropped a first turn Coffee and I had nothing to say to that, so I waited until second turn to drop a Silver. She had Library and Carpenter working midgame, which let her drop lots of 3 cost buildings for free. Meanwhile, I was making good trading money. I hate to admit it, but I’m actually starting to have a grudging respect for Sugar; when you don’t have Tobacco, and you otherwise have trade pumpers, it is worth having.

Buildings built, in order:

Nadine: Coffee, Carpenter, Trading Post, Library, Aqueduct, Tobacco, Victory Column, Prefecture, Well, Guild Hall, Hero.

Jon: Silver, Aqueduct, Sugar, Market Hall, Prefecture, Victory Column, City Hall, Palace, Tobacco, Carpenter.

Michael: Coffee, Black Market, Chapel+++++++, Market Stand, Smithy, Tobacco, Tobacco, Guild Hall, Indigo.

Settlers of Catan

Nadine 10, Michael 8, Jon 7

Yet one more waiting game. In this one, Nadine bought about seven developement cards, ending up with Largest Army and 3 VP cards. Meanwhile, my devel cards were not as useful; at one point, I threw in a Year of Plenty and an ore just to get another one, which is about as wasteful as you can get. I was close to Largest Army, but Nadine got it first. Michael also took Longest Road before I could get to it.

Which just goes to show you about Nadine’s theory.

Roll Count
2 ==1
3 ==3
4 ==6
5 ==7
6 ==5
7 ==2
8 ==6
9 ==5
10 ==6
11 ==0
12 ==1

By Hook or By Crook

Jon+, Michael, Gili, Nadine

Reading the rules while trying to set up and play. The rules are easy enough that I don’t think we made too many mistakes.

First impression: better than For Sale. Which doesn’t say much, but the game relies heavily on blind bidding, and it works ok. Even though the mechanisms are all blind, they are not really bidding. The first “bid”, choosing which activity to take part in, isn’t bidding at all, but if you are lucky enough to be the only one doing it, you can make a clean sweep (usually). The second bidding is rock/paper/scissors, but, like Knizia games, different things are differently valued to each person at different times.

Second impression: repetitive. It’s not that the bidding is so much repetitive – as you run out of certain cards, and as your hand changes, you feel like you are playing from different positions, so that is not repeptitive. But the physical mechanics of picking cards and placing them face down – that is repetitive. It would have been nicer to find some way to do this with a few less rounds, and a few more mechanics.

Third impression: fun. We went back and forth about whether this was really a strategic game or just all about the luck, and I think we feel it is a strange mixture of both. Luck, of course, but there are different paths to choose, and times when you feel like you definitiely have a better position. And fun – it is fun watching three people play thieves in one round, resulting in a big zero gain for all involved. We looked forward to playing it again. Of course, one has to wonder how many times one can actually enjoy a game like this before it is played out. We’ll find out.

I ended up with the best collection by stealing it close to the end of the game. I ended up tied on the same spot as Michael, winning by virtue of the tie going to best collection. Gili had had the best collection for most of the game.

Puerto Rico

Jon 66, Nadine 54, Gili 49

Gili has been playing on BSW, and losing, and was hoping to make a better showing here. After the game, we pointed out a few plays she could have done differently.

We played with Guest House, Trading Post, Small Wharf, and Library. The rest were original.

Round Player Phase Notes
1 Gili Builder Gili builds Large Indigo. Nadine builds Sm Indigo. Jon builds Sm Market. After the game, I told Gili that I thought this was a mistake, since it put her back in cash for no real benefit.
Nadine Settler Nadine takes quarry. Jon takes corn (only one). Gili takes indigo.
Jon Mayor
2 Nadine Mayor This activated their indigos, but left me a double cash phase next round.
Jon Captain+
Gili Trader+
3 Jon Craftsman++
Gili Settler+ Gili takes quarry. Nadine takes coffee. Jon takes sugar. I don’t actually get to trade sugar during the game, but I do lock a sugar boat with a monopoly.
Nadine Trader Nadine trades indigo, Jon trades corn.
4 Gili Builder++ Gili builds Trading Post. Nadine builds Sm Market. Jon builds Sm Sugar.
Nadine Mayor+
Jon Captain+ I’m ahead in shipping, and that’s how I keep it.
5 Nadine Settler+ I take Tobacco.
Jon Craftsman+ I have sugar …
Gili Captain But Gili, wisely, makes me ship it.
6 Jon Builder+ Jon builds Factory. Nadine builds Coffee. Gili builds Sm Indigo. Factory may not have been my best move, as I only produced 3 goods for most of the game. But it tuned out OK. The cash it gave me was enough to buy the one big building I needed. Large Market might have been better, but I didn’t trade much.
Gili Mayor+
Nadine Trader++
7 Gili Craftsman+ This just about kills me, but I had resolved not to give advice midgame. Nadine trades coffee hand over fist this game. Without my 4 corns and a tobacco monopoly, I would have been in serious trouble.
Nadine Captain+ Forcing my sugar onto a boat, yet still able to trade her coffee next time.
Jon Settler+
8 Nadine Trader+
Jon Mayor+
Gili Captain
9 Jon Builder++ Jon builds Tobacco. Nadine builds Trading Post.
Gili Craftsman+ Nadine gets more coffee.
Nadine Mayor Nadine mans her Trading Post.
10 Gili Captain+
Nadine Trader+ Nadine trades more coffee.
Jon Settler++ I have 4 corns, now. The only other plantations were coffee, and Nadine already had two, so she passed.
11 Nadine Craftsman+
Jon Trader
Gili Builder+ Nadine builds Guild Hall. Jon builds Custom’s House.
12 Jon Captain+ I am racking in several victory points more than anyone else with each shipment, which is making up for Nadine’s flush cash.
Gili Mayor++
Nadine Builder Nadine builds City Hall.
13 Gili Mayor
Nadine Craftsman+ To get coffee to trade? ship?
Jon Captain I don’t think Nadine realized just how much I was shipping.
14 Nadine Trader++
Jon Craftsman
Gili Settler+++
15 Jon Captain+ This was a very hard choice. There were two big buildings left. If I take Builder, which has two GP on it, I can build a second big building, and Nadine will build her third. If I pass it, Gili and Nadine build them. But if I don’t captain, I lose out on four corn shipped, PLUS Nadine will ship some coffee, PLUS, the boats won’t empty, so there will be yet another round where I can’t ship. My Custom’s House adds icing to my decision to ship. The choise was roughly: Nadine gets 1 shipping and 14 building/Jon gets 14 shipping and 5 building VS Nadine gets 8 shipping and 14 building/Jon gets 3 or 4 shipping and 12 building.
Gili Builder++ Gili builds Fortress. Nadine builds Residence. I also toyed with buying Wharf versus buying Coffee and Indigo buildings, but I figured Coffee and Indigo was more sure.
Nadine Trader
16 Gili Mayor++
Nadine Builder Nadine fills her 11th slot.
Jon Craftsman+ This presents a problem for Nadine. If she builds next time, ending the game, I will get to ship, locking her out. If she captains, she ships more and forces me to dump, but the game doesn’t end.
17 Nadine Captain+ It would have been better had she built, since after she captains, I just craftsman again, anyway. Dumping barrels doesn’t bother me at all.
Jon Craftsman
Gili Mayor Feeding the Fortress.
18 Jon Captain
Gili Trader++
Nadine Builder 18 rounds is a very long game, and good for the shippers.
Player Shipping Building Bonus Final
Jon 37 20 9 66
Nadine 14 24 16 54
Gili 22 21 6 49

Jul 27, 2005

Participants: Jon, Tal, David K, Nadine, Zeke

Nadine will be coming for one more week, and then she is away for a month. Zeke is away for at least a month after this session. And David K will not be able to come except on his usual once in three weeks schedule. Yeeks! Rough times ahead for the JSGC.

Next week, we will probably be at the Kummer’s house, around the corner from here. Call me for directions.

My Game Prototype #1

Tal+, Jon, David K

Jon+, Tal, David K

I am starting to feel a little proud of this. I am going on something like my 60th game of this and I am not getting tired of it at all. In fact, the last several games have all been new discoveries, yet I still don’t have a full grasp on the “right” strategies. It feels Knizia-like. If only I could settle on the right theme for it.

Tal did an amazing play in the first game, mostly by accident, that won her the game, to our astonishment. In the second game I pulled in most of my set fairly quickly, and then had a reasonably easy victory.

For Sale

Zeke 66, Jon 60, Tal 54, David K 44

It’s not that I don’t like the game, it’s just that I don’t particularly like the game. I happen to like blind bidding in some games. This one leaves me uninterested. What can I say? It is so slight, and the luck so noticable.

David took the 30 house, while I got the 29, and then we crashed and wasted them in the second half of the game. Zeke won, and (consequently) he enjoyed it.

Taj Mahal

Nadine 58, David K 51, Jon 39, Zeke 26

Zeke lost this one from early on, and (consequently) he hated it. I also pretty much lost it early on, with no commodities the whole game, and not enough connections to make up for it. The best I could do was a few five point connections. Somehow, when Daniel plays, he manages ten or eleven point connections.

In the meantime, Nadine and David were both reaping the commodities. David started out with a nice lead, but Nadine ended up with more, and more focussed, commodities, which eventually gave her the lead. In the last round, all she had to do was withdraw at first opportunity to get the +4 bonus to keep the lead, which is what she did.

In round 3, Zeke and Nadine fought a large battle, which Zeke lost and never recovered from. David and I fought a battle in round 4, but we eventually split it 2 to 2. In round 6, we had an all out war all around, whichwe all survived, except Zeke.

Round 4 Round 8 Final
Jon 3 18 39
David 15 29 51
Nadine 9 22 58
Zeke 4 12 26

Starfarers of Catan

David 15, Jon 13, Nadine 9, Zeke 9

Zeke didn’t like Taj Mahal, so we let him pick the next game. SFoC was not the best choice perhaps, since it was already 9:30, but we gave it a go, ending at midnight.

I had a lead from about midgame, despite never once rolling anything but an encounter. Eventually David K caught up, and frankly, I was getting bored and tired, so was happy enough for either one of us to win.

3, 4, and 10, didn’t roll the whole game, until we finally got a 4 and a 10 just about end-game. I once again had a brilliant 2 strategy going, but both of the 2’s were rolled before I could get it going, so there’s where my mistake was.

Statistics, for thems that care:

Roll Freq
2 2
3 0
4 1
5 6
6 6
7 5
8 7
9 8
10 1
11 3
12 2

Jul 20, 2005

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak, Daniel, Nadine, Tal

Summer is definitely here when attendance gets low. Rachel is off to Canada for a month. However, we welcome back Yitzchak who recently married, even though he could only stay until exactly 9:15 and asked us all to hurry our moves during Amun Re.

My Game Portotype #1

Jon+, Daniel, Nadine, Yitzchak

This game gets more tense with four players as the game nears its end. I started off strong and finished with Daniel and Nadine close behind.

While I’m waiting for someone to want to publish it, I’m happy to send people the rules under certain conditions (like, not publishing it without arranging it with me) if you want to play.

Amun Re

Yitzchak 49, Jon 41, Daniel 32, Nadine 31, Tal 28

I think we play Amun Re so often not because any one of us likes it best, but because all of us don’t mind it, unlike other games, each of which some of us love and some of us don’t like at all.

A tight game, and a good showing for Tal in her first game. Pyramids were lightly built in the first half, except for Baharya that had four in it. Unlike last game, where bribery to the corrupt water minister never reached over 2, this time it was at 3 most of the game, and would have hit 4 in the last round if Daniel hadn’t played a shift 3 card.

I seemed to be one coin away from shifting the bids under the bidding line when I needed it. And in the first round, I bid 4 hoping for at least second place, but Tal and Daniel bid exactly 5, and Nadine and Yitzchak bid -3.

Tal and Nadine took one side of the Nile in the first half, with Yitz taking the other. In the second half, I bid 21 with a blockade for the 4 pyramid province and kept it the biggest on my side of the Nile, while Daniel took the other side. He ended with three complete sets of pyramids.

Yitzchak managed to end with the most overall points from all directions, however.

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Score Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Score
Daniel Thebes 6 Mendes 0 Memphis 6 7 Mendes 0 Dakhla 21 Avaris 3 +25=32
Yitzchak Avaris 0 Kharga 3 Damenhur 6 21 Abydos 10 Thebes 1 Damenhur 10 +28=49
Jon Abydos 3 Amarna 0 Edfu 0 15 Berenike 3 Sawu 3 Baharya 21 +26=41
Nadine Dakhla 1 Berenike 0 Sawu 0 10 Edfu 3 Abu 0 Kharga 0 +21=31
Tal Baharya 3 Abu 3 Buto 0 9 Amarna 1 Buto 3 Memphis 21 +19=28
Water =2= =1= =3= =3= =3= =3=

Settlers of Catan

Nadine 11, Tal 7, Jon 7, Daniel 6

In case anyone wondered if I follow my own ethical advice perfectly, the answer is “no”, as I started out giving advice to Tal as to where to go, when she must have played the game just as many times as I have. Nadine called me on it.

In fact, Tal was at 9 points at one point while the rest of us had no more than 7.

Nadine started on the ore harbor, with 8/4/11 ore. Tal on the wheat harbor, with 10 wheat, although the only wheat in the game was 10/10/3/2. This may lead you to believe that wheat was less common than other resources. Ha, I say. Ha ha.

Daniel started on a sheep harbor, cutting it off from me as well as any chance I could have had for an ore. Actually, there was one more chance later, but he built a road, and before I could respond the robber hit me, and he then built another road, cutting off all access to the other half of the board.

I started without ore, of course, and built two quick settlements, which made me a quick and persistant target for the rest of the game, while Nadine had hidden victory points, Tal had Longest Road, and Daniel kind of stalled after blocking me off.

Meanwhile I surrounded the 2 hex (to get the wood harbor) and proclaimed the secret and dangerous “2” strategy was going to make me win. I said this so often, Daniel eventually started putting the robber on the 2 just hoping that someone would roll it, although noone ever did. 2 wasn’t rolled once, man! I was robbed of victory, man!

Statistics for those who care:

Roll Number
2 0
3 4
4 7
5 9
6 5
7 10
8 8
9 4
10 12
11 1
12 4

Four 12’s and no 2’s. I was robbed!


Jul 13, 2005

Participants: Jon, Rachel A, Nadine, David K, Zeke, Gili, Saarya, Daniel

As a pleasant surprise, David came outside of his regular schedule. And Saarya, whom I thought was staying with his mom, came over in mid-session. We ended pretty late, so this will be another quick report.

Dvonn

Daniel+, Jon

A first game and a win for Daniel.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Jon 48, Rachel 43, Gili 40, Zeke 35

I set this game up when I thought we only had David K and Nadine coming over. I had replaced every single building with expansion buildings, including many we don’t often play with.

Somehow I ended up playing this with Zeke and Gili, both of whom had only played once before on the regular set. This was kind of unfair to them.

This game was made even more chaotic by constand interruptions: phone calls, visitors, Rachel trying to send some emails on the computer, etc. A difficult situation. And Zeke took a long time to figure out what he wanted to do each round.

Just one note on two interesting buildings which made a fine combination: Forest House, which I changed to give you a -1 building cost for each odd numbered Forest (1, 3, 5, …). And Beachfront, cost 6, vp 2, which gives you a wharf that can ship as many goods as the number of Forests that you have.

Nadine 62, David K 57, Rachel 53

Played later in the evening, this game was played with about half expansion buildings.

My Game Prototype #1

Zeke+, Jon, Gili

Zeke played wildly, and should have lost by rights, but I played really poorly, giving him everything he needed to win.

Settlers of Catan

Jon 10, Saarya 7, Gili 6, Zeke 5

I won with 4 cities and two VP cards. Saarya’s main power was on 8 and 10, mine on 6, 9, and 10, Gili’s on 8 and 5. I was on the wheat harbor with good wheat and sheep. In the meantime, both Zeke and Saarya were each reaping two bricks and a wood each time an 8 was rolled.

Statistics, for those who care:

Roll Number of Times
2 3
3 1
4 5
5 3
6 6
7 9
8 11
9 8
10 8
11 4
12 0

Louis XIV

Daniel 52 + 13, David K 52 + 8, Nadine 49

I heard some excitement, but a little less than after the first few plays. Since I have only played 1/2 a time, I am still looking forward to playing again.

Geschenkt

Daniel 27, Saarya 28, Zeke 47, Gili 52

Daniel 32, Zeke 32, Gili 38, Saarya 43

Daniel 11, Gili 14, Jon 35, Saarya 43, Zeke 50

Gili 20, Saarya 28, Zeke 36, Jon 40, Daniel 44

Filler games for when you have only so much time. Daniel won with a lot of 30/31/32 pulls. I had teen cards, but Zeke took the middle cards which hurt me.

San Juan

Jon 33, Daniel 28, Gili 26, Saarya 24

First game for Gili. Daniel played a quick-drop strategy, which I beat with huge trading advantage. Saarya couldn’t get going, and we are all kind of puzzled as to why.

Saarya: Indigo, Carpenter, Library, Indigo, Coffee, Tobacco, City Hall, Quarry, Statue, Silver.

Daniel: Indigo, Carpenter, Smithy, Archive, Poor House (overbuilt), Black Market, Chapel+++++++, Sugar (overbuilt), Tobacco, Crane, Indigo, Aqueduct (overbuilt), Statue, Guild Hall.

Gili: Indigo, Gold Mine+++, Smithy, Sugar, Tobacco, Chapel+++++++, Silver, Palace, Trading Post, Aqueduct

Jon: Indigo, Gold Mine++, Silver, Trading Post, Market Stand, Victory Column, Prefecture, Market Hall, Hero, Black Market, Tower


Jul 06, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Gili, Ben

Summer is upon us, and attendance is low. Hopefully we will continue throughout the summer. Last summer there was at least one week with no attendees. So I appreciate those who came, as well as the yummy cake they brought.

My Game Prototype #1

Gili+, Jon, Ben

Ben+, Gili, Jon, Saarya

Since I didn’t know if anyone else was coming, I coerced everyone into playing my game again as a filler. One quick game later, and Gili and Ben were happy to play again. Saarya didn’t want to play, since he usually gets hit with the hazard cards, and he got hit with three out of four of them during the game he played.

Amun Re

Jon 41, Saarya 40, Ben 33, Gili 27

First play for Gili, second (?) for Ben. I really thought that Saarya was far ahead of me, but I won with most money at game end when Saarya had last place in money. I am a terrible money manager, and am usually money shy, but Ben was even worse off. Saarya meanwhile seemed to be ahead in both pyramids and money, but had no power card in the end, where I had one. He also spent almost no money bidding on his provinces. Gili produced three power cards at the end of the game.

Round –> 1 2 3 Score 4 5 6 Score
Jon Dakhla 6 Abydos 3 Edfu 6 16 Damanhar 0 Avaris 0 Sawu 0 41
Ben Damanhar 6 Thebes 3 Sawu 1 8 Dakhla 0 Thebes 6 Abu 1 33
Saarya Mendes 0 Berenike 0 Abu 0 15 Berenike 0 Amarna 6 Mendes 3 40
Gili Baharya 6 Buto 0 Amarna 1 6 Abydos 0 Baharya 6 Kharga 0 27
Water 1 1 1 1 2 2
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January to June 2005


Jun 29, 2005

Participants: Jon, David K, Saarya, Nadine, Ben

Smaller night. Still fun. Before posting this I took an hour to respond to an IP discussion on Spielfrieks, so now at 1:22 am, this is likely to be a little shorter than usual.

My game prototype

Game 1: Saarya+, Jon, David

Game 2: David+, Saarya, Jon

David and Saarya both wanted to play again after the first game. We still don’t know what the right strategy is, but we still suspect that there is one. The first game was close. The second one David won handily.

For Sale

Saarya 60, Jon 57, Nadine 55, David 51

Nadine and David’s first play, mine and Saarya’s second. Nadine was underwhelmed, complaining that there was no real control. I am also slightly underwhelmed, but I would play it. It just doesn’t seem to have much substance.

Louis XIV

Saarya 54, Nadine/Jon 49, Ben 47

Nadine and Saarya were begging to play this again, yet halfway through, after David and I had finished our Magic game, and Rachel wanted to play Puerto Rico, Nadine offered to leave and let me take over. I think that was because she was losing.

I was in pretty bad shape when I sat in at third round, but I made a dramatic comeback during the fourth round auctions to take second place. From what I saw, it seemed pretty nice. Again, like Goa, finely balanced to the point where you wonder if any one strategy is better than any other.

Magic: the Gathering

David: 2 games, Jon: 1 game

David usually beats me. I took the first game because he mad an error.

San Juan

David 32, Nadine 19

They originally set up PR to play with Rachel, but she got called away for an important phone call, so they played this. I only recorded the buildings.

David: Indigo, Sugar, Library, Market Stand, Smithy, Silver, Palace, Quarry, Carpenter, Chapel+++++, Statue, Tobacco

Nadine: Indigo, Tobacco, Prefecture, Trading Post, Victory Column, Triumphal Arch, Market Stand, Well, Aqueduct, Gold Mine

Cosmic Encounter

Ben, Jon, Saarya, David won, Nadine lost

We played More Cosmic Encounter by Mayfair, double hidden powers, no reverse cones, no moons or lucre. Powers:

Jon: Berserker/Magnet
David: Warpish/Prophet
Saarya: Will/Vampire
Nadine: Doppleganger/Siren
Ben: Symbiote/Grief

Poor Nadine. We went for a quadruple win, all of us with four bases. Ben’s second attack was against Nadine, who was Siren, so if she had won, it would have been a single victory for her. It was close (20 to about 29). The game only took 8 turns because of the frustrating Siren.


Jun 22, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Tal, Daniel, Elijah, Michael, Gili, Ben, Zeke, Rachel A, Nadine, Yitzchak

A full and hopping night, with three games going for most of it. A surprise returning guest: Daniel had a night off from yeshiva and hopes to come again over the summer. Everyone keeps asking me if we are gaming over the summer; tragically yes, since I am very far from being able to go on vacation, still.

Gili also showed up early, which gave us two light game openers to start with.

My game prototype

Elijah+, Daniel, Zeke, Nadine

I set this one up as the first people walked in, and after four had arrived, I stepped out to let them play while I pulled out For Sale. Elijah won this one, apparently fairly handily.

For Sale

Gili 74, Jon 63, Michael 61, Saarya 57

A game known for its stark simplicity. The game consists of money, house cards valued 1 to 30, and checks (cards) valued 0 to 15. In the first part of the game, the houses are flipped over, and you bid a standard auction for the houses. Each player, as they withdraw from the auction, takes the lowest house and half of his money back. The last person to withdraw takes the remaining (highest) house but no money.

When all of the houses are taken, you bid on checks. Checks are flipped over, and you blind bid with your houses for the checks. Highest house takes highest check, etc.

There is nothing special to say about the game system. Everything that usually applies to auctions applies to this game. If you don’t like auctions, you won’t like it. Truthfully, the game is pretty quick and feels even quicker. I liked it, but it didn’t give me the same type of satisfying feeling that Geschenkt did for a similarly quick game.

Saarya quickly found out the limitations of winning the bidding, as he ran out of money by the end of the third (out of seven) rounds of bidding. In the second round, I thought I played cleverly enough, taking reasonable size checks for medium card. Somehow Gili managed to take better ones and ended up winning, by a pretty fair margin.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 54, Gili 52, Michael 43, Zeke 41

A respectable showing from Gili and Zeke playing their first games, and Michael, who has only played a few times. Rachel had the most shipping points, while Gili’s Guild Hall gave her the most building points.

Princes of Florence

Yitzchak 54, Jon 50, Ben 49, Tal 45, Elijah 42

A close game. A first win after numerous attempts for Yitzchak. The last several games, Yitzchak looked like he was going to win only to lose to some cheap bonus for me at the end of the 7th round, such as best work or a prestige card, that let me beat him by one point. This time, the one prestige card I bought on the 7th round would have done it again, but of the five cards I picked, all were completely useless for me. That gave Yitzchak the final game.

Yitzchak’s early lead was the result of Ben not noticing that choosing his auction item during the third round let Yitzchak take a Recruiter for 200, which was an unholy steal. We were all at fault for not noticing it and warning him, but what can you do? I got a cheap Recruiter the next round because nobody else was in a position to realize its potential anymore.

In round 4, Yitzchak took all of his money in points for a work, and ended up having to move back a few spaces during the game to make up for it. In round 5, I got the last Recruiter which was worth eight points to me, at least as much as any risky prestige card would have been.

Jon Yitzchak Elijah Ben Tal
Round 1 Auction Jester 1200 Recruiter 800 Builder 900 Lake 400 Forest 200
Round 1 Actions Travel / Profession Travel / Profession Religion / Profession Religion / Profession Opinion / Profession
Round 2 Auction Lake 200 Jester 1000 Builder 1000 Recruiter 800 Park 200
Round 2 Actions Theater / Poet (1600/0) (BW) University / Thelogian (1400/0) Studio / Sculptor (900/2) Bonus / Library Workshop / Bonus
Round 3 Auction Jester 1000 Recruiter 200! Forest 400 Park 200 Builder 800
Round 3 Actions Religion / Bonus Lab / Physicist (500/5) (BW) Opinion / Bonus Cartographer (1500/0) (BW) / Lab Religion / Bell Maker (800/3)
Round 4 Auction Recruiter 400! Forest 400 Prestige 500 Jester 800 Builder 600
Round 4 Actions Workshop / Painter (1500/0) Bonus / Physician (0/7) [-2/+200] University / Philosopher (1400/0) Botanist (1100/4) (BW) / University Library / Goldsmith(+) (1200/3)
Round 5 Auction Recruiter 800 Jester 700 Prestige 400 Builder 200 Lake 200
Round 5 Actions Bonus / Cartographer(+) (100/9) [-1/+100] Opinion / Philosopher (1200/4) (BW) Tower / Bonus Bonus / Mathematician (700/5) Opera / Bonus
Round 6 Auction Forest 200 Prestige 700 Builder 600 [-2/+200] Jester 700 Park 200
Round 6 Actions Bonus / Bell Maker(+) (0/11) [-2/+200] Opera / Choreographer (800/8) (BW) Chapel / Workshop Opinion / Alchemist (700/6) Bonus / Jurist(+) (200/8)
Round 7 Auction Prestige 900 Forest 500 Jester 200 [-2/+200] Lake 200 Park 200
Round 7 Actions Dramatist (0/9) / Watch Maker(+) (0/13) Bonus / Alchemist (100/10) Astronomer(+) (0/11) / Organ Maker(+) (0/9) Bonus / Cartographer(+)(+) (100/13) (BW) Bonus / Composer(+)(+) (0/13)
Prestige Bonus 0 4 6 0 0
Final Score 50 54 42 49 45

Louis XIV

Daniel 55 (+12 for tie), Saarya 55 (+10 for tie), Nadine 48

When we got too big for the two games we were going to play (PoF and PR), Saarya took one player from each game and suggested this new game. Now usually I introduce all new games into the club, unless the game is brought over by someone who has been playing it for a long time. This was a cold learning experience for all three of them, none of whom had looked at the rules yet.

They decided to read through the rules while stepping through a game round with open hands. Daniel’s loud vocal explanations, as well as Saarya’s and Nadine’s questions carried across the room for about an hour. As they went on, the voices became more and more excited. They really seemed to like what they were playing.

They restarted after the practice round and played the rest of the evening. Wow. A huge hit. Saarya told me that the game is an absolute 10. I heard “What a great game!” and “Love it!” repeated over and over. Also, “Like San Juan, but better.” That one seemed a little odd, since the game looks nothing like San Juan, but they explained that after “building” the missions, the missions gave them “abilities” like the buildings in San Juan. I haven’t seen that one on the net, yet. You heard it here first, folks.

Obviously, I can’t wait to try it myself. Next game night, if things work out.

Cribbage

Gili 65, Michael 59

A first for our club, I believe. Michael and Gili wanted something quick after the PR game and before they skedaddled, so, finding my daughter’s new generic game box lying around, they played a half game of Cribbage, which Gili won.

San Juan

Yitzchak 39, Jon 36, Ben 33

First game for Ben. After our PoF game, we had a little time left over for our own game. I tried a strange strategy of building a bunch of Indigo plants and hoping for a Black Market and/or Guild Hall. The strategy didn’t work; I built a round earlier than the others, but then they just built again the next round, and better buildings, too. And I never got my Black Market.

I also got Prefecture, but Yitzchak also did on the same round, and Ben soon after. Meanwhile, both of them got Library, and I couldn’t compete. Yitzchak ended with both Guild Hall and City Hall, while I had Chapel+4 and Guild Hall, and Ben had City Hall. Tossing cards under the Chapel prevented me from building Palace, I think.

Buildings:

Yitzchak: Indigo, Tobacco, Smithy, Market Hall, Prefecture, Library, Silver, Quarry, City Hall, Silver, Guild Hall, Silver.

Ben: Indigo, Tobacco, Tower, Well, Aqueduct, Prefecture, LIbrary, Market Hall, Tobacco, City Hall, Victory Column, Statue.

Jon: Indigo, Coffee, Aqueduct, Indigo, Prefecture, Silver, Indigo, Chapel++++, Statue, Guild Hall, Coffee.

See you next week.


Jun 18, 2005

Participants: Jon, Chris Brooks, Erich Litch, Michael, Elijah, Nadine

Today was a very special JSGC gathering played on shabbat afternoon. Chris Brooks, and his co-worker Erich Litch, came to Israel on business and completely managed to avoid game night (on Wed night) by arriving Thursday morning and being scheduled to leave on Tuesday night.

So I invited them to come for shabbat afternoon games and dinner, which they gracefully accepted. I also let the group know about their visit; to my pleasant surprise, three of them showed up, turning the visit into a mini-club event. So that’s what I’ll call it – a special JSGC session.

Chris and Erich are two fine and overwhelmingly generous people. They were wonderful to host; we spent a nice afternoon/evening going for a short walk, talking about this and that. Chris was kind enough to bring me three new games as gifts: Louis XIV, For Sale, and Sticheln.

Erich is a game newbie. It is a wonder that with a co-worker like Chris he had never played any of these games before. I showed them my little game collection as we tried to decide on a first game. We almost decided on Settlers when I asked if I could show them my prototype which had just yesterday been made homeless.

My Game Prototype

Jon+, Chris, Erich

We played one hand. Erich and Chris both said they liked it, which made me happy. One of the mechanisms reminded Chris of Modern Art, which I haven’t played, yet. Actually, it was slightly based on Goa, whose auctions have been compared to Modern Art, so there you go. I won, but Erich was close behind.

Michael and Elijah then showed up. Since we now had 5 players, we scuttled Settlers in favor of El Grande.

El Grande

Chris 107, Erich 99, Jon 80-something, Michael, Elijah

I couldn’t keep score because it was shabbat. This was both Michael and Erich’s first time, and apparently Chris doesn’t get to play it much in his group, so he was happy to play. It is a great game, albeit a bit long, and easy for beginners to play.

I explained the rules quickly, and remembered most of them. Elijah started us off with a middle bid, which we all followed, with Michael going first.

Michael had some difficulty spreading out in the first half of the game. It also didn’t help that, even after my little speech that it is better to move ahead than to hinder others, I canceled his scoring during the “Everyone picks a region to score” card, resulting in both us falling behind. At the first scoring round, people were still pretty concentrated on the board.

Chris and Erich were ahead, with Elijah at least ten points behind, and Michael and I behind him. I got my big break when I was able to pick up all of my caballeros from one region and distribute them around into several other regions, including being the sole contender in two of the three four point regions, and first place in the other. Elijah then got the card in round six which sent all of our caballeros back to the provinces, which was a pain, but didn’t really slow us as much as we thought it would.

By the second scoring round, Chris, Erich, and I were all within 4 points of each other, with me in front. Michael and Elijah were trailing. Chris and Eric were fighting mightily over two provinces.

Things progressed until the last round. Chris got in an early Castillo scoring. Then the “Score the first place in every region” flipped up. That was to be my killer, as I didn’t have a high enough bidding card to take it, but Michael did. He took the card, took over the only region I was still first in, and scored, giving him 16 points, Erich 19 points, and Chris 13 points, while I gained nothing. That was the end for me. I still gained slightly more points than they did during final scoring, but not enough to catch up.

We then broke for dinner, and Michael and Elijah left while Rachel and Nadine showed up.

Puerto Rico

Jon 59, Nadine 55, Rachel 49?, Chris

After dinner, we figured we had about 45 minutes, since Chris and Erich needed to leave at 8:30. Rachel wanted to play Puerto Rico, of course. Five player PR would have been too long, not to mention that Erich had not played before, but he was willing to watch one. We gave him a three way running explanation as the game was set up and play commenced, which I’m sure served to thoroughly confuse him.

Nadine, Rachel, and I are all very experienced and tight players; as Nadine said, this is one of the benefits of having very little money – you play the same games again and again. Chris had only played about twenty times, and didn’t fare too well.

Nadine and I were third and fourth positions. Nadine took the traditional Factory/Harbor/Guild Hall route, with a Tobacco monopoly for much of the game. I took early coffee, the other harbor, small warehouse, and lots of corn; I was able to trade coffee a number of times, and also racked up some early VP’s with my corns. I knew I was doing pretty well, and ended up with two big buildings and 29 shipping points.

Both of us took early small indigo plants expecting to be able to produce indigo at some points, but no indigo plantations showed up for the first two thirds of the game.

Rachel had early corn, indigo, and sugar, and also got Factory, but she suffered from lack of a trade good for much of the game. Chris took early Hacienda and Hospice, which is initially slow; by midgame he had three indigos and three tobaccos going, as well as three quarries. Luck and timing was against him, however, and when he finally got the Residence he wanted, the game was over before he could man it.

The best part about the evening was the politeness of the guests, both of whom were a joy to be with, both in and out of the game. I look forward to the next time they come back.

Yehuda


Jun 15, 2005

Participants: Jon, Zeke, David K, Michael, Elijah, Nadine, Gili, Saarya

Saarya was indisposed for most of the night, and only filled in for Zeke at the end of a game when Zeke had to go. Michael, Elijah’s father made a rare occurence.

My game prototype

Zeke+, David, Jon

As a light opener, I showed David my game prototype. David was not really interested in seeing it, thinking that it was just a kid’s game. After playing it, I think he liked it. Not as in “Puerto Rico like”, of course, but for a quick game, it is pretty solid (say, “Geschenkt like”). In any case, Zeke took the game.

Dvonn

Michael+, Elijah

These two showed up while we were close to the end of our game, so they played this quickie. This is Michael’s type of game, I gather, as I don’t recall him ever losing it.

Starfarers of Catan

Elijah 15, Michael 11, Nadine 11

Nadine was going to play with us (David and me), while Zeke was going to play with Michael and Elijah. After I took out and set up Tikal, Nadine told me, happily, that while she was prepared to play it, she didn’t really like it and would prefer to play Starfarers. Luckily, Zeke was happy to switch to Tikal, so they switched.

People should really fill out a list of games and their preferences, so I can match them up properly before the game starts.

Anyway, I didn’t see much of this game (I prefer to keep my eyes on my own game). Michael and Elijah traded the friendship token of one of the alien races back and forth as they oscillated each between 13 and 11 points. Somehow, one of them managed to acquire two more points while still in possession of the token to win the game.

Tikal

David 104, Jon 80, Gili 68, Zeke/Saarya 64

Just as we started, Gili showed up, so we redrew the tiles and started again.

The first pick held two treasure fields, so there was little point in bidding. Still, I foolishly paid 4 points to go first. As the game progressed, David had the most treasures and sets. Zeke had 5 treasures, all different, while I had three sets of two.

Gili was behind in treasures, but way ahead in temples, with five or so ready to score by the first scoring round, so I went and stole one of hers right before scoring. This was instead of stealing David’s, whose temples were harder to get to, anyway. I thought Gili was more likely to get ahead at that point. I definitely set her back, but at the expense of giving the game to David. He now had best treasures, at least as good temples, and no chance for anyone to steal them.

Zeke took a very, very long time to make most of his moves. I tried to tell him that there is no “best move” no matter how long you stare at the board. Eventually, I had to give him a time limit; that is a rare event for me. Nadine suggested that he was having a hard time playing because I/we weren’t giving him enough strategy advice for his first plays. I guess she was right, but I feel uncomfortable basically playing the game for someone. On the one hand, Zeke is pretty young; on the other hand, he is pretty bright. I think he was just a little overwhelmed by the amount of options in the game.

After the first scoring round, we were pretty close. By the second round, David was ahead, and I was close behind, along with Gili. By the third round, which was the turn before the last, Gili had slipped back, and David was far ahead. There was no real chance to change positions before the game ended. We couldn’t even use a number of actions at the end. Every temple tile had been placed and guarded, and the treasures taken.

Web of Power

Gili 64, Jon 60, David 53

One more time for this flawed, but quick and interesting little game. The flaw I mentioned in the previous session report was not as pronounced in this game, which was only with three players. Actually, I think what I mentioned is still a flaw, but perhaps not quite so bad as I thought. I guess the issue is that the controller of a region will always remain controlled of the region, unless he is foolish enough to give it away. In the meantime, there’s a lot of jamming up the works for everyone else.

A different flaw is that all pieces and placement opportunities were used up by 2/3 of the way through the deck the second time; we had nothing left to do but throw the cards in. Inelegant. Makes me think I must have missed a rule somewhere about three player games.

Still, for all my complaining, it is still a lot of game for a light game. David is the only one who scored big on ambassadors, while I had two roads. Gili meanwhile took much of the rest of the board, often being the one who placed the proverbial “one cathedral to earn almost as much in second place as the first place player of a region”, while using far less resources to do it. So her numerous second places, and some first places, added up to our less frequent first places. Well done.

Yehuda


Jun 08, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Zeke, Nadine, Elijah, Ben, Gili, Rachel A

My game prototype

Saarya+, Nadine, Jon, Zeke

I finally got the group to playtest my game prototype with four players, despite the fact that the publishers have already taken it to make a mockup. As you can tell, both I and the potential publishers are new to this sort of thing. It is hard to round up game testers when you need them, actually.

Turns out that the game with four players had a few problems at the end of the game, which I had to figure out how to solve, elegantly, if possible. Luckily, I think I solved them, but I am concerned; we should try the game again to ensure that nothing else broke with the solutions.

Nadine seemed to like it. Saarya seemed to like it somewhat, at least more than the games he dislikes. Zeke seemed not to like it, but it’s hard to tell with Zeke. Can’t please everyone. I still like it, which is a good thing.

Now that I have one game almost done (hopefully), I need to get cracking and make more games, to have something after the first one succeeds.

Anyway, Saarya eventually managed a victory.

Dvonn

Elijah+, Jon

Meanwhile, I split my attention to play Dvonn with Elijah, who was waiting for the prototype game to end. I rarely win any games while playing with split attention; however, I do pay attention in both, at least. I snapped up a nice part of the board, but didn’t manage to disable one of his pieces in time to prevent it from leap across the board to eat my big stack.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Ben 13, Zeke 9, Elijah 4

We split into two groups.

Second time for both Ben and Elijah, and first time for Zeke. Ben remembered after he started playing that he had a problem with the game being even more lucky than regular SoC. He managed to win, with three cities, a metropolis, three settlements, and longest road.

Apparently, the barbarians pillaged a lot, and Zeke single handedly did most of the saving, earning victory points, but letting the others shirk their responsibility of building knights. Ben progressed a lot, but only drew one or two progress cards throughout the game.

Traumfabrik

Jon 108, Nadine 83, Saarya 72

Meanwhile, we had a three player game of this Knizia classic. Generally, auction games are better with the full complement of players. Some stink with three, such as Oasis, but this one works fine.

Nadine began with the first movie. I kept getting outbid, so I saved contracts until I realized at the end of round two that I had 29 of them. With one on the board, that left 6 contracts total between Saarya and Nadine.

I managed to take what I needed during the rest of the game, and ended with best work at the end of round three for 19 points, and best green work, best directors, and worst movie.

Web of Power

Gili 40, Saarya 39, Nadine 38, Jon 36

A runaway victory as you can see from the scores … NOT. With four careful players, we ended up with a single road segment among all four of us with 4 cathedrals, and a single ambassador connection among all four of us on the board worth 5 points.

None of us can really say why anyone won here. The game has a design flaw. I have no problem with the idea of not having enough actions to do all you want. WoP has the situation midway through the game where the first one to make a move on a region, such as adding another cathedral, lets someone else add the ambassador. You need to be able to add two cathedrals and an ambassador at once to a region for it to be worth your while, and you can’t do that. That means noone is willing to play. Not a very good mechanic, in my opinion. Most of the game the problem doesn’t come up; there is usually something to do, which mostly means blocking someone else.

The game otherwise has a lot of elegance.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 50, Jon 40, Ben 36, Rachel 35

Ben is the type who doesn’t play by the known strategies pf PR. He beat me numerous times in previous games, after I had begun playing on BSW, mostly by throwing the game into chaos, and picking up the pieces as they were thrown back at him.

But Rachel and Nadine are also excellent players, and they took advantage of the chaos that ensued; mostly Nadine, actually. I can’t really say what Rachel did wrong, but Craftsman was taken 8 times in the game, and Ben took it 7 of those times. Since I was sitting after him, you might think this would have benefitted me, but it didn’t much, since a lot of those times I was governor, and play passed to Rachel.

After Rachel and Nadine locked boats, Ben got locked out of shipping and ended up dumping most of his goods. He had Factory, so it wasn’t a total loss, but Nadine had a complete Factory and Guild Hall, and then City Hall, too, which was game.

Nadine adds:

With good players, luck makes a bigger difference – I started with Corn and was able to select a Coffee right off; though my possible early Corn trade with Small Market was blocked, and Ben’s wasn’t.

I also probably do better in general with familiar buildings….

Round Player Role Notes
1 Jon Settler Jon takes quarry. No corn. No corn for the next several Settlers. After all the non-corn tiles, Rachel and I calculated that Hospice and Hacienda might actually be worthwhile. Rachel ended up buying Hospice, which she plays very well. I took Hacienda when I had not much better to do, and I even pulled corn once, but the lack of end-game shipping prevented me from producing anything from it.
Rachel Builder Rachel builds sugar, leaving Nadine and Ben with Small Markets.
Nadine Mayor
Ben Craftsman Ben breaks with the understood early game strategy, setting up Nadine to take Prospector with a GP on round two.
2 Rachel Captain +
Nadine Prospector +
Ben Trader +
Jon Settler I take sugar ahead of Rachel.
3 Nadine Settler + Still no corn showing
Ben Craftsman +
Jon Mayor + Ben takes Cr again, before Rachel or I can produce. He ends up trading his corn, which works nicely for him.
Rachel Builder
4 Ben Trader +
Jon Prospector +
Rachel Mayor
Nadine Builder Nadine builds coffee, I build Large Market. Nadine sells only one coffee during the game, but it is a critical early one. I figure I won’t be able to trade any prime goods. I end up selling coffee twice, and sugar once, all with Large Market, too.
5 Jon Captain ++
Rachel Settler +
Nadine Mayor
Ben Craftsman + This one hurts me, and Ben, too. Rachel sells sugar for 4, while Nadine sells coffee for 5. Ben sells indigo for 2, and I am locked out.
6 Rachel Trader +
Nadine Builder + Nadine and Ben build Factory. I build coffee
Ben Craftsman
Jon Prospector +
7 Nadine Builder
Ben Mayor +
Jon Settler + I take coffee.
Rachel Craftsman + Rachel is now solely producing tobacco, and the trading house is empty.
8 Ben Trader + Ben trades indigo, I trade coffee, Rachel trades tobacco.
Jon Builder Ben and I get Harbor, Rachel and Nadine get Small Warehouse.Nadine adds: I never used my Small Warehouse, I didn’t have colonists for it, but I ended up not losing too many goods.
Rachel Captain +
Nadine Prospector +
9 Jon Mayor + First super mayor, with 10 colonists on it.
Rachel Settler +
Nadine Builder
Ben Craftsman + And again.
10 Rachel Trader + Rachel trades sugar. Trading House is full.
Nadine Captain + Ben loses control of the boats from here on out.
Ben Craftsman And again.
Jon Prospector +
11 Nadine Builder + Nadine gets Guild Hall.
Ben Mayor +
Jon Trader I trade coffee.
Rachel Captain
12 Ben Craftsman + And again. He is mostly doing this for the money from Factory, but Nadine is getting the same amount of money or more, and is also shipping goods.Nadine adds: I only received money for full Factory once, but it may have discouraged people from Crafting towards the end, though I also couldn’t really use the money.
Jon Captain I have lots of cash and don’t care what building I get, so I ship with Harbor.
Rachel Builder I get Customs House, Rachel gets Fortress.
Nadine Settler ++
13 Jon Prospector ++ Nadine is producing 5 GP each craftsman, and will likely take the fourth big building. Ben is at 7, and likely to take the fifth. I should have captained, which would have changed the endgame, as I would have crafted more, probably. Instead, even knowing what I know about the big building prospects, I foolishly take Prospector.
Rachel Captain Her best move. After this, she should have crafted more. Two boats were good for her, and she had warehouse.Nadine adds: If Rachel had crafted and shipped more, other people would also have benefited, with Mayor only she got points so it makes sense.
Nadine Mayor +
Ben Trader
14 Rachel Mayor Feeding her Fortress.
Nadine Builder + Ben is one GP shy, and a round too late. Nadine buys City Hall, and only has one building slot open. Ben gets the big building next round, but only after Nadine takes Mayor.
Ben Settler + Ben says that he definitely should have gotten this quarry earlier.
Jon Trader No one is shipping, because we are out of goods, and finally no one wants to craft, as it will let someone else ship.
15 Nadine Mayor Nadine fills in her big buildings.
Ben Builder Ben buys Residence.
Jon Prospector +
Rachel Captain + For the GP.

Final scores:

Jon: 16 ship + 20 build + 4 bonus = 40
Rachel: 14 ship + 14 build + 7 bonus = 35
Ben: 20 ship + 16 build + 0 bonus = 36
Nadine: 14 ship + 23 build + 13 bonus = 50

G’night.


Jun 01, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Yitzchak, Elijah, Zeke, Nadine, Gili, Ben, Ran, Eitan

Once again, a few people who said they would come didn’t, but we still had a good showing.

Jon’s game prototype

Jon, Saarya, Ben

I made this prototype to show two of my missing guests, a couple who are starting a game company and asked me to design some games for them according to certain requirements. I had hoped to playtest it earlier in the week, but didn’t get a chance to do it.

The game is an auction game, a little Knizia like, but with somewhat more luck. I made up a rulesheet, and Saarya and I set out to playtest it two-player, and three-player (with Ben).

We found two problems with the design, which I never would have seen without playtesting. One of them I fixed; the other is a smaller but more problematic rule regarding the scoring for the advanced version of the game. I will have to think about that one.

The game felt a little repetitious, like Traumfabrik, but still challenging and with some depth to the strategy. Of course, I can’t go into the rules in depth, but strategic mistakes in the play were made, and I wanted to play again to work on correcting them.

The game works as is, but could still use a little fine-tuning. The hardest part of designing is leaving mechanics out, trying to keep the game simple. My instinct is to throw all the best machanics of the games I love into the game. Not only does that make a mess, but it leaves me with nothing to put into my next game designs ;-).

San Juan

Yitzchak 44, Zeke 20, Elijah 17

Looks like it was a massacre.

Yitzchak 38, Jon 34

This was a wierd game. At the end of round four, I was tempted to build Aqueduct, which would have left the game state with both of us having exactly: Indigo/Tobacco/Aqueduct and no cards. I chose to wait, building on the next round, and then the same situation happened again at the end of the sixth round. At the end of the eighth round, my hand consisted of exactly four cards, one of each 6 point building.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to build my second 6 point building by game end, while Yitzchak could, leaving me down a few points.

ASL

Ran, Eitan

Ran says: German attack with Russian counter-attack. Germans managed with the help of an assault engineers company to storm the factory, and the Russian counter-attack was delayed by German delaying forces in the perimiter.

Eitan’s (Russian) troops ran beserk and he was cut down prematurely by Ran’s (Germans), leading to a surrender on round 4, which took about 4 hours.

Settlers of Catan

Saarya 10, Gili 6, Ben 6

Wheat was incredibly scarce, only producing on 10, 11, and 2, and those numbers just never rolled. On the other hand, 7 rolled a dozen times or so, which stalled the game for quite some time. Gili took Longest Road intially, but Saarya stole it back to win the game.

Princes of Florence

Jon 62, Yitzchak 61, Elijah 45, Zeke 32

Yitzchak looked like the sure winner, only to have me eke out a surprise one point win (this happened last time, too). His spirits remain high, however, and he vows to beat me next time.

My game started out with a Prestige card (all freedoms), which became null by round two after Yitzchak picked up the last Religion before I could get it. I next got a Builder and Jester, and risked another Prestige card (builder, jester, and two landscapes). Since I also had a Bonus card giving +2 per landscape, I hoped to actually achieve this one, and I magically did, also picking up one more Jester before the game ended.

Yitzchak bought two early Recruiters, and was awash in profesion cards. He wouldn’t have been able to play them all if he hadn’t gotten a Jester in the last round, but he did. He pulled way ahead, but he didn’t have actions enough to buy bonus cards and buildings, so he lost all of the “best works”. (My “best work” in the last round helped win the game.)

Zeke collected 4 Jesters meanwhile, and Prestige card for most jesters. But he overspent early, and used most of his works for cash.

Elijah got two early Builders, but at a high price, too much to overcome even with his two prestige cards. He played only a few works.

Tigris and Euphrates

Nadine 5/5/6/6, Gili 5/5/5/5, Ben 4/4/5/6, Saarya 3/3/4/4

We’re really pulling Gili over the coals with this one; in the end, she said she didn’t really like it. She said she preferred Settlers. This game was still a fairly new experience for most of the players (first time for Gili), and much deliberation was spent over each turn.

See you next week.


May 25, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Elijah, David, Avraham, Zeke, Gili, Ben

From feast, to famine, back to feast. A nice crowd. But man, we must be the slowest game group on Earth. Games that take 2 hours with other groups take us 4 or 5 hours.

Gili is a newcomer. She was tossed unceremoniously into the heart of a full El Grande game with expansion. Very brutal. Still, she seemed to enjoy herself, and said she would like to come back. Fantastic! Hope we didn’t scare her away.

Geschenkt

David 12, Elijah 25, Zeke 32, Jon 51, Nadine 59

People arrived erratically, so we played this as a filler. It was Zeke’s first time (this will happen a lot, as he has only played Settlers of Catan and Amun-Re, so far). I lost control midway, and ran out of tokens. Zeke did fairly well. David Klein had only the 33-35 cards.

Starfarers of Catan

Jon 15, Zeke 13, David 11, Elijah 9

First time for all of them, second time for me. David leapt ahead to 9, while the others were at 5, and me at 4. Then I gained some fame, dropped two ports, and a spaceport, putting me at 9 as well. I gradually pulled ahead, finally winning by gaining first access to the last two uncontacted races. David was definitely on better numbers, but 4s and 11s seemed to roll more often than 8s and 6s. Fuel was in amazingly short supply, with nothing better than an 11 anywhere in the universe.

El Grande + King and Intrigant

A lot of fussing over the rules with this one, as some of the cards didn’t seem fully cooked. This was also first or second game for all involved, and I was called to make a number of interpretations. Still, everyone seemed to have a good time, but setup and card selection took an hour, and the game took 3.5 hours after that. Wow.

Nadine writes:

We didn’t just spend time setting up – we were reviewing and teaching the game, and waiting for everyone to arrive. But it did take a while….

Avraham would have won if Saarya hadn’t vetoed his special scoring at the end. I’m not saying I didn’t play well, but I did have luck – I got to bid last the first 3 rounds, in Round 8 I went second, following Gili who didn’t have a 10 left, and I benefitted the most from Saarya’s veto. Having New Castile is a disadvantage because it’s a popular region in the middle; being hit by the low scoreboard wasn’t as bad as I thought because having no second or third places made the region less competitive overall.

Scores:

Round 3 Round 6 Round 9
Nadine 37 56 84
Saarya 34 52 74
Avraham 33 56 81
Gili 28 46 67
Ben 25 53 81

Magic: the Gathering

Game 1: Jon 7, David 0
Game 2: Jon 10, David 0

Another red letter day, where I win my first two out of three against David for who knows how many years. My brilliant plan: I never win by skill, so go with luck. So I drafted and build a 4 color deck, just about even, with only 4 lands of each color (sans black) plus one or two multicolor mana generators. I never saw the generators, but I got all of the land types out when I needed them. Yay.

I also had lots of fliers and a nasty shadow (deals damage to whomever it wants when unblocked). David had the black creature removal, but not enough creatures of his own to stop me.

The first game I had him down to 1, with me still at 20, and I thought I was going to lose as he whittled me down, stopping my creatures with a regenerating blocker, and an unblockable that caused me to sacrifice a creature whenever he did damage. I was out of creatures on the table, so I couldn’t play any more unless I played two. I manged to plunk down two creatures at once, one of them being Giant Trap Door Spider, which could take care of his unblockable, but them I gained a trample instant, and attacked with GTS, doing the 1 point I needed to win.

The second game, I just outraced his creatures and bury cards.

That’s all folks.


May 18, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Saarya, Elijah, Zeke, Yonah, Eitan, Ran

Just when I thought game nights were getting smaller, and I wasn’t expecting to anyone to show except for Elijah and Nadine, we end up with three simultaneous games.

Yonah is Nadine’s son, who has experience with Puerto Rico, and not much else. Zeke came for game day, and finally made it back. He seemed to enjoy himself, and I hope he comes again.

Eitan and Ran only come to play ASL with each other, which is fine with me.

Settlers of Catan

Yonah 10, Zeke 6, Elijah 5

First play for Yonah, second or third for Zeke (I don’t remember if he played once or twice during game day). I saw a lot of developement cards being purchased. Three of Zeke’s points came from victory point cards, and Yonah had both Longest Road and Largest Army. Elijah seemed to have some sort of lumber industry going.

ASL

Ran 2 games, Eitan 0 games

Apparently, for his fourth time playing, Eitan is doing well.

They played ASL scenario 105, Going to Church. The Germans are holed up in a church, and the Canadians are attacking. The whole scenrio uses only a half a board.

Ran played the first game as the Germans, and made mincemeat of the attacking Canadians with his superior machine gun fire. For the second game, they switched sides. This time the Canadians advanced slowly, but not easily. Eventually, their mortar threw up a smokescreen while the shrapel simultaneously disabled the German squad, including knocking out their leader, and the church was taken.

Both said they had a good time and hope to come again, either next week or the one after.

Starfarers of Catan

Jon 16, Nadine 11, Jon 11

Our first play of this game, borrowed from a neighbor. The game was quite enjoyable. There are numerous different paths that are necessary all at once, and whatever path you take, you sacrifice somthing to do it. While the game seems repetitious, the options for one path to victory can quickly dry up, requiring you to try something else. I would easily compare its complexity to Cities and Knights.

A few negatives: the toy space ships are just ridiculous and cheap looking. The parts snap off way too easily. I like the three dimensionality of them, but I would have been happier with putting pegs in a small wooden ship or something.

Also, we played with the variant where you get two resources a turn. It was still about 4 hours for 3 people.

I guess the biggest issue, which is still not too big, is that unlike Settlers and Cities and Knights, it didn’t seem to matter which resources I placed my settlements next to, only which numbers. You pretty much need all of the the resources all the time, unlike Settlers, where you can make do by concentrating on a certain strategy. Second of all, with all of the random resources you collect from Earth, and the easy trade exchanges, every round I basically got a hand full of random resources. I didn’t get the feeling that there was any control over what I was getting.

Anyway, even the first time out it was pretty fun, and I would play again. I hope I got most of the rules right.

Saarya started out with the best exploration due to having succeeded with a wormhole; one wormhole can make a huge difference in the early game. I got the first friendship token, and then I acquired trade rings to conquer the ice planets, an avenue my opponents ignored to their eventual detriment. Actually, I was lucky to find the right planets when I needed to.

Nadine had the most boosters, which is large, but started out with less ships because of it. With a little extra luck, she could have taken away my friendship tokens.

All of the benefits I got from the aliens did me no good. I got two trading abilities, but I pretty much always used all of my cards directly. And I got the “aqueduct”, before I noticed that I would only collect on a 10 or 12. I should have taken the “buy fame tokens” card, which would have given me an earlier victory. As it was, none of us ever managed more than two fame rings.

Toodles.


May 05, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Yitzchak, Rachel A

David and Avraham almost came until they remembered that tomorrow, and therefore technically tonight also, is Yom Hashoah – Holocaust rememberance day. I do respect the day, but it is a secular observance, not a religious one, so I, personally, am not overly religious about it. But I understand why some others would not want to play games on this day.

Especially German games … or maybe, playing German games is a symbol about strengthening the new Germany that has come to recognize the errors of her past. Yet, anti-semitism and the willingness to destroy Jews (as well as other races) is still common in our world. Anyway, it’s a good day to discuss the issue.

However, I am planning a Bat Mitzvah for my daughter on shabbat, and I really needed a game break, so there you go.

Tigris and Euphrates

Yitzchak 6/7/7/9, Jon 5/6/6/6, Nadine 5/6/6/6, Saarya 5/5/5/6

I managed to convince Nadine to try to convince Yitzchak to try this again. Nadine seems to alternate between thinking that there is not enough control over what’s going on and thinking that with more experience you can do better. I’m not sure what her final opinion is.

Yitzchak lost badly the first time he played, and wasn’t too keen to play again, but he won this time, so I think he also may be over the hump, so to speak. We will see if they turn it down the next time I suggest it.

Our game spread out very quickly, and four treasures were taken quickly. I ended the game without any of them. Then we stalled a bit, with a disaster splitting up the central kingdom.

I couldn’t pick a red tile to save my life, and languished at 2 reds until the second to last turn of the game. The turn before that I tossed tiles; on the penultimate turn I plunked down two red tiles and formed a monument, leaping to 5.

Yitzchak took a very long time for each move, and even had to take a phone call for half an hour at one point. When he did play, it was quite solidly, and we all felt he was probably doing pretty well.

Saarya got into several conflicts that seemed to benefit other more than himself, including initiating conflicts that he wasn’t involved in.

Nadine and Yizchak kept fighting the same internal conflict in the lower left corner. It was kind of funny to see one king dropped and the other removed, only to see the reverse happen again the next round, for about three turns.

Crossword Squares

Jon 66, Nadine 56

During Yitzchak’s phone call, I introduced Nadine to a pen and paper game from New Rules for Classic Games, a delightful book. I got the scoring rules wrong, but even so Nadine said it was the best pen and paper game she has played. And it’s darn simple.

Each person draws a 5×5 grid with a pen which he keeps hidden, and then alternates calling letters. Each time a letter is called, you have to place it in your grid somewhere. At the end of the game, you score a certain amount of points for words. In the real rules, it’s 1, 2, and 4 points for 3, 4, and 5 letter words, horizontally or vertically, like a crossword (overlaps allowed, but not fully contained words). I didn’t look it up, so I scored 6 for a 4 letter word, 10 for a 5 letter word, and I also allowed diagonals.

Of course, we both came up with completely different words, and it’s amusing to see what people come up with.

Puerto Rico

Jon: 24S + 21B + 8Bo = 53, Rachel: 27S + 18B + 6Bo = 51, Nadine 12S + 23B + 15Bo = 50, Yitzchak: 23S + 16B + 5Bo = 44

Aside from other changes noted in previous session reports, some buildings of note that we used: Civil Office (Library bonus for a single phase only of your choice), Gold Smelters (2 colonists, lets you take Gold Mines during Settler; with two GMs, you can produce 1 Gold barrel, which sells for 6 and ships for 3 into the Hold along with another shipment you make).

Yitzchak tookCivil Office and chose Builder, which served him reasonably well, as he took Builder at least twice. I tried a very early Gold Smelters. I traded a few times, but not as much as the awesome amount of Coffee trading Nadine managed. And I only got to ship Gold once. Then I took Civil Office: Trader and took Trader only once, so that ended up being a bust. My victory came mostly from Harborand Wharf which I bought with the Gold trades.

That trade I took was a huge stupid error, as right after I took it, Yitzchak and Rachel then had enough to buy the last two big buildings. If I had waited, I could have gotten to one of them first. Argh.

Rachel had a good production facility and Factory going, while Nadine’s coffee trades gave her two large buildings but no shipping to speak of.

Between Discretionary Hold (really, just see my previous session reports) and Gold Smelter, space in the Holds was tight, adding a new resource scarcity to the game, and giving it a fresh tactical aspect to think about.

Toodles.


Apr 28, 2005

Game Day

Participants: Jon, Rachel A, Saarya, Nadine, Yitzchak, Elijah, Michael, Zeke, Yosef, Yaron, Alan (, Eitan, Ran, et al…)

Puerto Rico (1), Wed 23:00 – 23:45

Well, another successful game day that started the night before, when Rachel and I played a two-player game of Puerto Rico to unwind. Our usual close game. Rachel took an unusual Hacienda route, along with Hospice (we play that you can activate it the turn you buy it) and Factory, while I took corns, quarries, large market and lots of big buildings. A tight game as usual, which I won by two points.

ASL, Thurs 7:00 – 22:00

Another non-game day game was the simultaneous game of ASL being played in Raanana by Ran and his friends, to which I send my son Eitan off to play from 7 am until 10 pm. The game was held simultaneously only by coincidence, but I’ll happily include mention of it in this report. This was Eitan’s third exposure to ASL, and he played on Ran’s team, as he is still learning the ropes. He had a great time. They played some campaign in Greece from early in the war, Greek versus British, where the British won, despite having misplaced their initial tanks rather seriously and losing them all at the beginning of the campaign. Fortune smiled on the British, as with some poor dice rolls on the Greek side, the tide was able to swing back. Two other players were also playing in the same place, along with Ran, Eitan, and their opponent, Dan.

My first act of the day was to prepare Magic decks for drafting. Since all of my cards were in alphabetical order, I had to mix for more than an hour to get any sort of random decks. Fortunately, or unfortunately, no one showed up for the first hour of game day, anyway, and I finished in time for Nadine to appear. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to play Magic, but now I have two decks ready for next time we want to play.

Puerto Rico (2), 10:40 – 12:00

Nadine, Rachel, and I sat down to a quick game of 3 player. I already don’t remember much of this one, but I won it barely at 51 to 50 to 48. Nadine took Giant Production Building as her big building, which is only worth 5 VP, but gives you an additional good of each type you produce. She complained about this for a while, since she got it too late to really show its power, but it still gave her a good 5 extra shipping points over two turns, so she was mollified.

Princes of Florence (1), 12:00 – 14:00

Our group seems to like have brought this game back into rotation. Despite a slow careful thinking pace, we all seem to experience a rich satisfied feeling after playing the game, and we all, for the most part, score pretty well, despite often intense, and painful, auction fighting in the last round or two.

Yaron, who visits only rarely from Teal Aviv, was roped into playing, even though he wasn’t too interested. I also taught Michael for his first game.

Elijah, in his second time playing, won his second game of PoF. Pretty impressive for a 9 year old boy. Both times he had at least two prestige cards, 2 builders, and a mix of other items. It’s kind of hard to describe, actually. Most items, especially recruiters and jesters went for top prices, with builders not far behind.

Final scores: Elijah 50, Michael 47, Nadine and Yaron 46, Jon 43.

San Juan, 13:00 – 15:00

Yitzchak came at the second turn of the PoF game, and looked at the Magic cards for about an hour while waiting for someone else to come. Both Yaron and I offered to get up to let him in, but he declined.

Eventually, Alan, Saarya, and Yosef showed up. Alan came back after being away for 6 months or so, the first time since he left for yeshiva and eventually marriage. He was happily able to make free time for our day. Yosef was new to our group, but apparently has played in some heretofore unheard of game group in Jerusalem that has played for some number of years (!) and has at times had more than 20 simultaneous attendees (!) for Shabbat games. At present they have not met for a while. But where did they come from? How come they don’t know about my game group? Or web site? How come I don’t know about them? Always new surprises.

We introduced Alan and Yosef to San Juan, and they played a long long San Juan game. Yitzchak started with an early 6 pointer in his hand, which he tossed, and then spent the rest of the game trying to find again.

Results: Yitzchak 38 + 2, Alan 38 + 0, Saarya 31, Yosef 28

Settlers of Catan, 14:00 – 14:45

We finished PoF about halfway through the San Juan game and wrangled a bit about what to play next. Zeke had shown up – Zeke is another youth, who came for the first time. I wanted his first experience to be Settlers of Catan, but other didn’t want to play, and we needed medium length games. So while the others went to play Traumfabrik, Nadine, Zeke, and I played SoC. Most introductory SoC games are balanced and the new player often wins. Maybe that’s when you play 4 player. In our game, I placed my first two settlements on the 5/9/10 + 5/9/10, and guess what three numbers rolled up all game? It was pretty pathetic.

Jon 10, Nadine 5, Zeke 4

Traumfabrik, 14:00 – 15:00

First plays for Yaron and Michael. Scores: Elijah 101, Yaron 90, Michael 35. Elijah’s on a roll.

Quiddler, 14:45 – 15:00

Nadine gave us a quick intro to Quiddler, which is a card game that I would describe exactly as Gin Rummy with letter cards. Each round you get more and more cards, starting from 3, up until 10 (?). On your turn, you pick and discard. If you can form all of your letters into one or more words, you (call Gin and) lay down your cards. The other players then each have one more turn to lay down all they can.

Unfortunately, it is much easier to form words than get Gin in Gin rummy, and every round, the first player to go called Gin immediately, and if not, the player after him. Therefore, there was very little in the way of strategy or hand management, it was all anagramming, which I like, and luck, which I don’t.

We played a few rounds with 5, 6, and 7 card hands.

Amun Re, 15:00 – 19:30

At 15:00, we started two full games, Amun Re and Taj Mahal. These guys take their time playing Amun Re, man. Four and a half hours.

They had a good time, however. Zeke found it less complicated than Settlers – he really didn’t play much Settlers. Yosef liked it (and won) – hopefully he will tell the rest of his game group. Scores (3rd/6th): Yosef 15/48, Saarya 17/43, Elijah 15/37, Yitzchak 15/33, Zeke 7/26

Taj Mahal, 15:00 – 18:15

Meanwhile, we played what could only be described as a pleasant and pretty non-confrontational game of TM, with almost no battles until the last part of the game. We built our hands up, and Nadine took a slow lead. Eventually, Alan and Yaron fought over elephants, and then Nadine fought over something else.

My hand managed to grow and grow in green cards, mostly due to having the multicolor bonus card to use my little suits. By round 10, I was still trailing; I had very few commodities, and little pockets of palaces all over. Rounds 10, 11, and 12 were my rounds, however, as I connected many of them and had almost all cards of one color and bonus cards. I had to really hurt Nadine in round 11 to do it.

Scores: Jon 49, Alan 41, Yaron and Nadine 38

Puerto Rico (3), 19:00 – 20:45

After our dinner, still waiting for them to finish Amun Re, we played PR again. This time I thought I was doing pretty well, but somehow Nadine swept her way to a decisive victory. Rachel was rather upset that Mayor was taken before she could finally build her big building, which preventing her from manning it by game end. Alan started playing, but had to go, so Yitzchak took over for him in the last few rounds.

Scores: Nadine 33Sh+22Bld+7Bon=62, Jon 21+20+12=53, Alan/Yitzchak 26+17+6=49, Rachel 25+16+0=41

Princes of Florence (2), 21:00 – 23:00

Yitzchak and Saarya didn’t get to play PoF earlier, so the remaining other players agreed to another game. Elijah didn’t win, for a change.

Yitzchak started out ahead, with 3 jesters, but he paid heavily for them, and had to play works for cash to keep going. Saarya and I got 2 recruiters each, which are lovely in five player. In the second to last round, I again skipped getting the remaining item I really needed, a park, assuming that I would be able to get it the last auction. I keep doing that. Instead, I got a prestige card and picked five utterly useless prestige card. So I though anyway. E.g. “Most Jesters”, when I have 1 and Yitz has 3, and one auction remains. Stuff like that. I did keep “most buildings”, which I thought was pretty unlikely, but possible, if other players, who at the time had more buildings than me, did not build any more.

Turns out that they didn’t, and, since Nadine bid up the park I needed in the last round, and then Saarya bid up the Jester (at a loss of 6 points to pay for it), I could no longer afford to play both of my remaining professions. Instead I got a second builder and a building, each worth 3 points, and then played my work, and a net loss of only a few points, and ended up getting my prestige card for a net bonus!!! Yitz though he finally had won, but I turned over my prestige card, stunned that I was actually able to use it, and ended up winning.

Scores: Jon 49, Yitzchak 47, Nadine 44, Saarya 39, Elijah 38

Thank you all for coming, and see you all again soon!


Apr 20, 2005

No game session tonight, as Passover draws close and I wanted to ensure that our house is ready. Passover preparations, for you who are not in the know, is like spring cleaning on steroids. Attention to detail varies, but generally speaking every single crumb of “leavened” food – bread, cake, anything from grain – has to be searched for and removed from anyplace you own, right down to the invisible crumbs on your clean dishes and wall sockets. So we scour every room, empty all pockets, burn or boil various kitchen objects, and either consume, lock away and sell, burn, or otherwise destroy whatever remains.

This can be a miserable chore or a rebirthing experience, depending on your point of view, and how much of it falls unfairly on your shoulders, as opposed to, say, your spouse’s or children’s shoulders.

Anyway, we were finished a little early this year, and I admit that Rachel did most of it. No comment. Later in the evening we played a game of Puerto Rico just to unwind.

Puerto Rico

Buildings: AqueductSmall Fashion District (2/1, sell indigo at +2), Black MarketSmall WarehouseMayor’s Estate (4/2, extra colonist during Mayor), Large MarketOffice,Discretionary Hold (6/2, store up to 3 barrels, place one barrel on each full ship for 1 VP), Specialty Factory (7/3, +1 GP/barrel of one good produced -1, includes corn), Large Business (8/3, -1 GP/building, +1 VP during Captain phase), Large General Workhouse (8/3, 2 circles, produce anything with corresponding plantations), WharfCathedral (10/4, +1 VP/3 VP’s from red building VPs), Fairgrounds (I think that was what it was called) (10/5, +0/1/2/3/5/7 VP for 0/1/2/3/4/5/6 plantation types), Fortress, Custom HouseCity Hall.

I have finally had it with Aqueduct. I keep trying it out, but the building is just too strong, possibly even worse than Small Market. The problematic thing about most of the expansion buildings is that they move the game play into specialty strategies. When you produce so many goods so quickly, the basic flow of PR is just disrupted. The same goes for Black MarketChurchUnion Hall. I am not commenting on whether the buildings are stronger or weaker, only that the game seems to be become less interesting as the owners are just not interested in half of the roles anymore. Maybe this is just a two player phenomenon.

Black Market netted me a Specialty Factory for two gold pieces fairly early, but it wasn’t enough to save me from Ms Aqueduct, who produced something like 8 goods by turn 5. Black Market also, I don’t know. It bugs me. I prefer my own similar building, Bazaar (2/1, trade barrel, GP, or VP for extra colonist during Mayor; colonist, GP, VP for extra barrel during Crafstman; or colonist, barrel, or VP for extra GP during Trader). Bazaar is bizarre, but it is not unbalancing, not stultifying in terms of strategy, and requires some creativity to use effectively. Black Market just leaves me with a dull listless feeling after using it.

The other buildings listed all continue to be good balanced buildings.

In case it wasn’t clear, Rachel administered a beatdown for so many points, I didn’t bother to count.


Apr 13, 2005

Participants: Jon, Rachel A, Saarya, Nadine, Elijah

Slow night, hoping that we’ll again pick up more players as time goes by. Still, I’m grateful to the regulars who keep coming. Yitzchak couldn’t make it, due to a cold.

Attika

Nadine won.

I decided to try this one again, having garnered a very bad impression of it two player. The people who had played it four player liked it, however.

For the most part, we all really didn’t like it. Most of the game we harped on two themes: way too much luck, and extremely unengaging. Yeah, you have to plunk a city down to block someone. Ho hum. Other than that, there is nothing, nothing, nothing. No trading, no scarce resources (just barely, if you count people taking places on the board), blah. Just take your turn (real slowly) and then the next player does the same.

Also, like some other game failures, there is no progression in the game. Plop a building, go, plop a building, go. Over and over, rather like Hansa. Also, as Saarya pointed out, the game rules are extremely annoying, like playing in a cage of rules poking you whenever you try to do something. The worst of the lot is the rule about placing new hexes, which can only be done during your turn, after you’ve drawn, and therefore only able to place, max, one building on it. This guarantees everyone else time to use the hex to greater advantage then you could ever have gotten from it.

Well, even after all those impressions, towards the end of the game, my opinion began to turn, ever so slightly. First of all, like many other games with luck, players can work to decrease the impact that bad luck will have on them. That way, you are likely to find yourself winning more games than average. This is not really a compelling mechanic, but it does exist.

Second, the key, and in fact, only way to win the game (other than just being the first to put out all their buildings), is to build up a slew of free actions to dump in one round and win before other players can stop you. Without the free action mechanic, the game would be truly sad. With it, you have just enough time to pull the new hex, and pull enough cities that, with luck, will allow you to connect. Of getting to the free actions first is … luck.

I figured out that you have to balance the need to do the occasional blocking, with trying to maximize the amount of free turns you earn and buildings paths you create, just so that you can go for broke in a single turn by pulling a building, placing a hex, and hoping to pull enough buildings to bridge th distance before anyone stops you.

I don’t think this one will be hitting the table ever again, although I am still just a little curious as to whether there is any more to it than we’ve seen.

Nadine comments: It might be fun to play again now that we know the strategy that wins, and it will be competitive to accomplish it. It wasn’t luck that I could build the buildings to win, I knew in advance that I had the sub-building to the black one that was left to turn over, and I had the cards to build the black one. It was luck or something that no one blocked me, which wouldn’t happen again.

Jon responds: Hmmm. Did you win the game by drawing a building, and then building a building, all in one turn? That would have been a mistake.

Nadine responds: Wow you’re right, I did it wrong! Which should make you all feel better, except that I would have won anyway. I guess I thought the extra action could include any action. But I had enough cards to build anything that I would have drawn, especially those little buildings – I only needed one and I had about 10 cards. I thought I had more cards than I needed, but I guess not. I can’t imagine anything I couldn’t build, I had at least 4 sets of two cards and a good variety. And I still had another action, so a choice of two drawn buildings. That’s what I get for commenting…

Jon responds: I agree that you would have won anyway.

Dvonn

Nadine and I started a game of Dvonn while waiting for Elijah and Saarya to agree on another game to play. This was Nadine’s first time. We reached a point where it seemed inevitable that I would win, and she resigned. Of course, first game is a learning game, and she didn’t have a full grasp on the rules until the end of the game.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Jon 13, Nadine 11, Saarya 10, Elijah/Rachel 10

Been a while since we’ve played this, since, again, the luck factor in C&K is far more pronounced than in Settlers. Again, you can work to mitigate the luck factor; noone can say that I got any breaks in this game, but I still managed to pull off a close victory. As an exmaple, I had the only city on a wood hex – 8, but Saarya managed to build a city on a 6 wood hex AND gain Aqueduct 12 turns before me.

This was Elijah’s first try, and Rachel took over his position after he had to leave. Nadine had only played a half a game before.

Metropoli were stolen twice, and many city improvement charts reached the last level, which is unusual in our games. I was in last place for a while, until I stole the yellow metropolis. At the very last instant, Nadine tried very hard to come up with a win before my turn, but she could only gain 3 points, enough to get to twelve (with the merchant), but not enough to prevent me from a guaranteed win with Alchemist, Merchant, and enough roads to steal longest road.

Even with 4 players, the board did not feel as crowded as in Settlers, since so much more effort goes into doing other things.

Nadine comments: I had played much less than half a game and didn’t remember much. In addition to a lot of luck, which theroretically should even out somewhat throughout the game, there is ganging up and individually attacking other players, which makes it feel less fair combined with the luck factor. Jon and Saarya were the real competitors because they were experienced, Rachel came in half way through; I think as Jon implied that skill mattered a little more than luck as the differentiating factor – Saarya had the most luck in rolls, and was in the best position most of the game.

Jon responds: The ganging up is not necessarily bad. Plenty of games there is no way to catch the leader, such as Taj Mahal, and the game is just biding time until they win. I would have said that skill and experience matters most in Princes of Florence, but Elijah won his first game of that, and I think he could have won his first game of C&K, too (with a little more prudence regarding his trading).


Apr 06, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzcak, Elijah, Rachel A

A Mazal Tov to Yitzchak on his engagement! Yay! This, he explains, is the reason why he wasn’t at the club the last few weeks. OK, acceptable excuse this time. But just this time.

Puerto Rico

Rachel A was willing to stick around for a game of PR, so we played 5 player. A long and ponderous game, again, but still very enjoyable. 5 player with strong competition is very tough, and a lot of resources you take for granted in 3 or 4 player disappear in 5 player, such as the production buildings you need, trading space, ship space, barrels, etc…

Buildings:

  • Assembly Line instead of Small MarketSmall Market is too strong, generally, although in 5 player, the corn players don’t end up with them, so I probably could have left them in.Assembly Line allows all of your production buildings to hold an additional colonist. You still need the plantations and colonists to make use of this. Like many small buildings, sometimes it is worth it, and sometimes it isn’t. I bought it and made use of it a lot. Elijah bought it and didn’t have the right conditions to get it working.
  • Small Fashion District instead of Construction Hut. None of us are quarry monsters, soConstruction Hut is considered weak. SFD allows you to sell indigo at +2.
  • Trading Post instead of Office. No explanation necessary.
  • Discretionary Hold instead of Large Warehouse. I don’t have to explain why no LWDHallows you to a) store up to 3 goods, and b) place any barrel onto a full ship for 1 VP. However, only one barrel may be placed onto a full ship, so if two people have DH, they go in order placing into full ships. If only one has it, their placement is unobstructed. A powerful building, maybe too powerful. But we always play with it, as it is better than the official 6 pointers or any of the other 6 pointers I have come up with.
  • Large General Warehouse instead of UniversityLGW has 2 circles and allows you to produce any two goods along with the corresponding manned plantations. You decide which while producing. Also a little strong, it combos well with Factory, and yet noone bought it this game until the end, for the VP’s.
  • Cathedral instead of Guild HallGH is better than the other 10 pointers, so removed. Instead,Cathedral gives 1 VP for each VP you have in red VP’s on all of your buildings. A good opposite to City Hall.
  • Fairgrounds (worth 5 red points) instead of ResidenceResidence is boring and weak.Fairgrounds gives +0,1,2,3,5,7 for 1,2,3,4,5,6 different types of tiles in your plantation space (including quarries). We really don’t need more diversity in the game, but in 5 player it was kind of fun, as everyone basically built toward it (but only one person could actually get it).

Seating order: Nadine, Rachel, Jon, Yitzchak, Elijah.

Round 1:

  • N/Settler. N:Corn, R:Corn, J:Sugar, Y:Tobacco, E:Tobacco. N forgoes a quarry, which is rather odd. While it did give her some VP’s in shipping, I think it lost her an equal amount in building. E starts off already to the left of another tobacco player, which hurts his trading, but helps his shipping.
  • R/Builder. R:Large Indigo, J:Small Sugar, Y:—, E:Assembly Line, N:Small Indigo. As I mentioned, E never gets the Assembly Line going. R’s Large Indigo – another strange choice. She ends up shipping a heck of a lot, but is a round shy of acquiring any big building. Note that there is no Small Market in this game.
  • J/Mayor. J mans his sugar.
  • Y/Prospector.
  • E/Prospector.

Round 2:

  • R/Mayor. R now has indigo and corn going. Once again, she gave up cash to do it.
  • J/Craftsman(+1).
  • Y/Captain(+1).
  • E/Builder. E:Tobacco, N:—, R:Small Fashion District, J:Small Indigo, Y:Tobacco. R uses SFD quite often.
  • N/Settler. N:Quarry, R:Coffee, J:Sugar, Y:Indigo, E:Indigo. I take sugar because there is nothing left but 1 sugar and the rest indigo. This gives me more chance at an early sugar monopoly.

Round 3:

  • J/Trader(+2).
  • Y/Prospector(+1).
  • E/Mayor. E and Y are now producing tobacco. Boats already have corn, indigo, and sugar.
  • N/Prospector(+1).
  • R/Settler. R:Quarry, J:Corn, Y:Corn, E:Coffee, N:Coffee.

Round 4:

  • Y/Builder(+1). Y:Small Indigo, E:—, N:Coffee, R:—, J:Assembly Line. Assembly LIne is particularly good for Small Indigo and Small Sugar.
  • E/Settler. E:Tobacco, N:Sugar, R:Indigo, J:Tobacco, Y:Coffee. We are all taking diverse production in case we buy Fairgrounds. It’s a good thing to do, anyway. I never end up producing Tobacco.
  • N/Mayor. N now producing Coffee. I’m producing corn, indigo, and sugar.
  • R/Craftsman(+1). R feeds both E and N lots of cash. She wants to trade indigo, but I don’t cooperate.
  • J/Captain(+1). If I don’t take Captain, E gets his tobacco, N gets coffee, and then gets Captain with (+2) on it. I don’t know why I didn’t just trade myself at this point.

Round 5:

  • E/Trader(+1). E trades tobacco, N trades coffee.
  • N/Prospector(+1).
  • R/Prospector(+1). I guess not good for me either way.
  • J/Settler. J:Quarry, Y:Sugar, E:Tobacco, N:Tobacco, R:Sugar.
  • Y/Captain. Y secures the 8 boat for tobacco.

Round 6:

  • N/Builder(+1). N:Tobacco, R:Sugar, J:—, Y:—, E:— . We suggested Harbor, Wharf or Large General Workhouse to N. N takes Tobacco partially to prevent me from taking it.
  • R/Mayor(+1).
  • J/Settler. J:Quarry, Y:Tobacco, E:Coffee, N:Corn, R:Indigo. Unusual for me to take 2 quarries, but I was looking at no trade goods, so I was starting to think “Now what?”
  • Y/Prospector.
  • E/Craftsman(+1). This gives E 4 tabocco, but allows R to trade indigo.

Round 7:

  • R/Trader(+1). R nets 5 GP, I net 2 trading sugar.
  • J/Prospector(+1). I do this a lot.
  • Y/Captain(+1). E ships all 4 tobacco. I think a coffee boat starts now, too.
  • E/Builder. E:Coffee, N:Small Sugar, R:Discretionary Hold, J:Large Market, Y:Small Sugar. R’s Discretionary Hold is a knockout in 5 player, because she is uncontested. My Large Market is also unsual for me. I am looking at a pretty easy trade situation, but no trade goods. I could have paid for LGW, but that eats up all my money just to produce tobacco. I could have bought Factory, but it cost two more, and for about the same benefit.
  • N/Mayor.

Round 8:

  • J/Prospector(+1). Did I mention that I do this a lot?
  • Y/Settler(+1). Y:Quarry, E:Corn, N:Corn, R:Coffee, J:Indigo. I am using my Assembly Line now to produce double indigos and sugars instead of my single corn plantation.
  • E/Mayor.
  • N/Trader. N trade coffee, R trades indigo, I trade sugar at +2.
  • R/Craftsman(+1).

Round 9:

  • Y/Trader. Y trades tobacco.
  • E/Captain(+1).
  • N/Builder(+1). N:Wharf, R:Coffee, J:Fairgrounds, Y:Factory, E:—. OK, I should have bought Wharf or Discretionary Hold, but I just wanted the damn Fairgrounds before someone else got it.
  • R/Mayor. I lost a few VP’s by keeping my colonist on Large Market instead of manning my corn.
  • J/Prospector(+1). Hoping for second and maybe third big building.

Round 10:

  • E/Prospector(+1).
  • N/Settler(+1). N:Corn, R:Sugar, J:Coffee, Y:Indigo, E:Sugar. N now producing 4 corns on a Wharf. I get my 6th plantation type. I wish I could have bought Factory, LGW, and Fairgrounds, but I can’t buy everything at once.
  • R/Captain. R is shipping or using DH a ton, followed closely by N and E.
  • J/Builder. J:Small Warehouse, Y:Small Fashion District, E:—, N:—, R:Small Indigo.
  • Y/Craftsman(+1).

Round 11:

  • N/Trader(+1).
  • R/Captain.
  • J/Prospector(+1).
  • Y/Builder. Y:Custom’s House, E:—, N:Cathedral, R:Large Sugar J:—. Y gets Custom’s House mostly to prevent either N or R from getting it. E is hoping for a big building.
  • E/Settler. E:Quarry, N:Coffee, R:Sugar, J:Indigo, Y:Tobacco.

Round 12:

  • R/Mayor(+2).
  • J/Prospector(+1). I can get another building with no problem.
  • Y/Captain.
  • E/Craftsman(+1).
  • N/Trader. Now I’m awfully close to two more big buildings, and I already have one. I’m certainly losing the shipping race.

Round 13:

  • J/Builder(+1). J:City Hall, Y:Harbor, E:—, N:Trading Post, R:—. E thinks hard. He wants the last big building, but doesn’t know who will get to it first. R has a good chance. Once E decides not to build, N gives up hope of getting it and buys fodder for her Cathedral. J also has a good chance at a third big building, or so it seems. However, it becomes painfully obvious that only E can get to it first in a moment.
  • Y/Mayor. Y primes the Harbor.
  • E/Trader. Y doesn’t have enough to get the big building, so E is now guaranteed to get it.
  • N/Prospector(+1).
  • R/Captain.

Round 14:

  • Y/Captain. To lock a boat for Harbor.
  • E/Builder. E:Fortress, N:Factory, R:Harbor, J:Wharf, Y:—.
  • N/Craftsman(+1).
  • R/Mayor.
  • J/Settler(+2). No reason.

Round 15:

  • E/Trader(+1).
  • N/Captain.
  • R/Craftsman
  • J/Builder. J:Hospice, Y:Large General Workhouse, E:Large General Workhouse, N:Discretionary Hold. That’s it for all buildings in column 3.
  • Y/Mayor. Wants the game to be over, and this does it.

Final results:

J: ship 16 + build 20 + bonus 14 = 50
Y: ship 22 + build 19 + bonus 5 = 46
E: ship 21 + build 14 + bonus 6 = 41
N: ship 27 + build 22 + bonus 7 = 56
R: ship 33 + build 17 + bonus 0 = 50

Yay Nadine.

Geschenkt

Jon 18, Nadine 23, Yitzchak 34, Elijah [more]

Elijah wanted to play Geschenkt, since there wasn’t much time, but we wanted to play San Juan. I compromised with 1 game of each. Elijah didn’t do as well as he’d hoped.

Cards (in order taken by each player):

  • N: 20, 18, 11, 21, 17, 19
  • J: 6, 24, 8, 9, 23, 7, 10
  • Y: 15, 29, 3, 28, 16, 27
  • E: 25, 33, 26, 31, 35

San Juan

Yitzchak 39, Jon 38, Nadine 33, Elijah —

Elijah had to leave in the middle. After he left, we folded his cards back into the deck and kept playing.

Round Elijah Nadine Jon Yitzchak Notes
1 B/Poor House Pr/Tobacco Pp/Sugar C/Gold Mine I built Sugar because I had absolutely nothing else (I had 2 Guild Halls) and I didn’t want to lose momentum. Y’s GM missed 9 times before finally getting a card.
2 C/Smithy T/Tower B/Aqeduct Pp/—
3 C/— Pr/— B/Trading Post Pp/Prefecture My position looks nice, doesn’t it? However, noone builds any production buildings this whole game, except Elijah who leave before we can start cycling. So my great engine here, while nice, can’t compete enough with Library and Quarry, later on.
4 T/— Pp/— Pr/— B/Statue
5 B/Chapel Pp/Trading Post T/— C/—
6 Pr/Tobacco B/Carpenter Pp/Prefecture C/Tobacco
7 T/— Pp/— B/Well C/— I’ve built too many small buildings.
8 Pr/Silver Pp/Market Hall T/Market Stand B/Quarry Elijah leaves
9 Pp/Hero B/City Hall C/— I think I toss my 4th Guild Hall. I really didn’t need it.
10 Pr/— Pp/— B/Library
11 T/Triumphal Arch B/Palace Pp/Victory Column Y gets his first card from Gold Mine
12 C/— B/Victory Column Pp/—
13 Pp/— Pr/— B/City Hall
14 Pp/— T/— B/Aqueduct
15 B/Victory Column C/— Pp/—
16 Pp/Aqueduct C/Triumphal Arch B/Hero
17 Pr/— T/— C/—
18 C/Palace Pp/Guild Hall B/Guild Hall I couldn’t find either Statue or Hero, which I needed to win.

Mar 30, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Elijah, David K, Avraham K

Neither Nadine nor Yitzchak were able to make it this week; luckily, David and Avraham could. We are definitely hitting a low point in attendance. Not that that is necessarily a problem: 4 or 5 people make a great game. But more people make more games, and a better club, in my opinion. Must get the word out.

San Juan

David 28 (30), Avraham 22

A low scoring game, and a learning experience for both players who have only played once before. David and Avraham arrived slightly early, so they got in a two player game while I finished eating dinner. David told me his score was 28, but I believe he miscounted, as I get to 30.

Final buildings (not in order built):

  • David: Indigo, Smithy, Trading Post, Market Stand, Carpenter, Library, Prefecture, Chapel++, Statue, Tobacco, Victory Column, Triumphal Arch.
  • Avraham:Indigo, Triumphal Arch, Statue, Poor House, Prefecture, Tobacco, Coffee, Market Stand, City Hall.

Amun-Re

David 48, Saarya 35, Elijah 30, Jon 25, Avraham 24

A first time for Avraham, and another learning experience. I played without building a single brick in the first three rounds, hoping that I could save my money for cards and farmers which would provide me with a good position in the second half. Unfortunately, I could not draw a card for my life. I swore never to play card drawing games the normal way – last time I suggested that we play pick two, keep one, and that is the correct way to play. For some reason, I remembered that last time they played this game and that they picked only one card at a time and said they were fine with it – unfortunately, I made a mistake. It was Goa they were fine with pick one, not Amun-Re. Amun-Re has to be pick two, keep one.

Card after card of crap sunk me. Every round the other players played farmers, bonus harvest, 8 gold, etc… I get “adjust the harvest” (not within three points difference the first three times), scoring conditions I can’t meet, and duplicates thereof. My third round bid of 15 for Abydos was only to fulfill 2 vp cards.

So I sunk, no money, few points, while David, by round three had amassed some ten cards and was raking in huge profits. He gained 27 gold in round 2, and an amazing 52 in round 3. I said game over (as in, David is going to win by a large amount), and of course he did.

Meanwhile, Saarya was first pointwise by the end of the first scoring round at 21 points to Elijah’s 15 and David K’s 10. Saarya stould a good chance of almost maintaining the lead if Elijah hadn’t played the “adjust the harvest” card to knock the harvest down to feed the camels (of course, mine were long ago traded for cash), depriving Saarya of income, and doing not much to David who was now on his way to 10 pyramids.

David paid 57 gold for his last three provinces, and still came in second place for gold.

Round Elijah Saarya Jon David Avraham
1 Memphis (3) Baharya (3) Buro (0) Abu (3) Kharga (3)
2 Avaris (0) Amhara (10) Edfu (10) Mendes (6) Sawu (10)
3 Dahkla (6) Damanhur (10) Abydos (15) Berenike (0) Thaklos (10)
S 15 21 9 10 3
4 Avaris (6) Damanhur (10) Abydos (15) Memphis (21) Berenike (0)
5 Thaklos (6) Edfu (1) Dahkla (0) Abu (21) Kharga (21)
6 Buto (3) Mendes (0) Baharya (6) Amharna (15) Sawu (10)
F 30 35 25 48 24

Web of Power

Jon 52, Avraham 48, David 44, Saarya 40

Saarya also had his victory snatched from him, this time by me taking a critical ambassador position. Again, first time play for both David and Avraham. This is a pretty easy game as far as mechanics go, but the strange rules about placement limitations takes a game to absorb. I think it was enjoyed, but not overly so, although I still liked it a lot.


Mar 23, 2005

Participants: Jon, Rachel A, Nadine, Yitzchak, Saarya

For some reason, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Every ten minutes I was interrupted, until finally, in the middle of Tikal, I received a bona fide emergency call (luckily not serious), and I had to leave, stranding Saarya and Yitzchak. Yitzchak couldn’t stay, so I came back to an ended game session. *sigh*

Puerto Rico + expansions

Rachel 57, Nadine 47, Jon 44, Yitzchak 43

I’m sorry, all of you purists out there, but we never play straight PR anymore. The following is a representative of the usual replacement buildings:

Aqueduct Not my favorite, as I feel it is a bit strong, about the same as Small Market which it has replaced. A better bet might be my Assembly Line, which allows all of your production buildings to hold an additional colonist.
Small Fashion District Almost a perfect building, replacing the weak and overly lucky Hacienda and the abysmally weak Construction Hut. Gives indigo starters a boost, combined with the absence of Small Market.
Civil Office A fun building, still a great unknown. When you buy Civil Office, choose a phase. You gain double the privilege (ala Library) whenever you take the phase. This happens even before you man the building, and it is tricky. Your best bet is usually a money gaining phase, but whatever phase you pick, other players conspire to prevent you from taking it. This subtly changes some of the dynamic in the game, in a good way.
Small Warehouse A critical building. I still don’t like it as much as Jim does, but it comes in handy
Hospice When you buy Hospice, you can move a colonist onto it. This slight change makes all the difference, changing Hospice from a never bought building into a balanced building.
Trading Post Much better than Office.
Large Market Worth buying occasionally.
Discretionary Hold Anything is better than Large Warehouse. This building allows you to store up to 3 goods, and also allows you to place a barrel onto a full ship. This doesn’t count as shipping (for Harbor), and technically according to the actual rules of the building, only one barrel can be placed onto each full ship, so placement alternates between two players who have the building, starting from the Captain and moving clockwise. In practice, only one player ever has this building per game, so there has never been a fight. It may be that someday I will eventually just change the rule to allow multiple barrels in the “Hold”, which may be more in keeping with the spirit of the game.
Factory I used to think this was slightly overpowered, but not anymore.
Harbor In 2 or 3 players this building is ALWAYS replaced with Large Business, which gives you bonus Captain and Builder privileges. But in 4 or 5 player, Harbor is ok.
Large General Workhouse University has to go, of course, even if you let it come with a colonist. Actually,University at 7 and with a colonist was too strong, without a colonist too weak. Dumb building anyway. This building is a violet building but functions as a wild production building, allowing you to produce up to 2 of anything along with matching plantations. It is pretty powerful, and still doesn’t get bought much, because the price is right. I made a huge mistake not buying it this game, buying Coffee when I could afford it, but not producing it anyway for so long, that I should have waited to buy this.
Wharf Balanced.
Cathedral I have a list of random large buildings I use to replace Guild Hall, which is always bought first, so stultifies strategy. This one gives you 1 VP for every 3 red building VPs.
Fashion District Not to be confused with its smaller cousin, this one is worth 5 red VPs, and gives +2 per indigo plantation, up to a maximum of +8. Residence leaves when Hacienda is out of the game.
Fortress
Custom’s House
City Hall

I recommend to one and all to give these a try. This one is a tad heavily favored towards the indigo player, but a corn player won anyway, so there you go.

Round Player Phase Notes
1 N Settler N:quarry, J:coffee, R:indigo, Y:tobacco. There was one coffee and two tobaccos. I was to maintain a coffee monopoly throughout the game, and Y a tobacco monopoly.
J Builder J:Civil Office (Craftsman), R:Large Indigo, Y:Civil Office (Builder), N:- . In the spirit of experimentation I decided to try Craftsman as my phase, hoping it would give me more barrels, since I figured not to produce much. I forgot that when you don’t produce much, you don’t take Craftsman. Huge mistake. I used it once, and to my ultimate detriment. Builder, Trader, Captain, or Prospector are better choices. Even Mayor or Settler. Craftsman would make a good choice if I was a corn starter.
R Mayor Y mans the Civil Office instead of his corn.
Y Prospector
2 J Trader+
R Craftsman+ R is the only one producing.
Y Captain+
N Builder N:Small Sugar, J:Small Indigo, R:Aqueduct, Y:- . N is eyeing the three sugar plantations in the draw.
3 R Prospector+
Y Builder Y:Tobacco Storage, N:Small Indigo, J:Small Fashion District, R:Small Fashion District.
N Mayor+
J Settler+ J:quarry, R:sugar, Y:tobacco, N:sugar. There is a real lack of corn for the first half of the game.
4 Y Mayor Y is now producing 2 tobacco and a corn. N is producing sugar, J is producing indigo with a Small Fashion District, R is producing lots of indigo and corn.
N Craftsman+
J Trader+ J is happy to trade indigo for 5 GP. Y trades tobacco, N trades sugar.
R Captain+ Tobacco ship starts, R is otherwise way ahead in VPs.
5 N Builder+ N:Harbor, J:Coffee Roaster, R:-, Y:-. I was one shy of Large General Workhouse, and I should have waited.
J Prospector+
R Settler+ R:quarry, Y:corn, N:corn, J:sugar. Actually, it is more fair to say that I was lacking corn for a long time.
Y Craftsman Y is looking at boats locked with VP’s for him.
6 J Builder J:Small Sugar, R:-, Y-, N:Small Warehouse.
R Trader+ Selling corn.
Y Captain+
N Mayor+ N mans Harbor and Small Warehouse.
7 R Trader R now sells indigo with the Small Fashion District. Nadine trades sugar.
Y Craftsman+
N Captain
J Mayor I’m colonist shy.
8 Y Builder+ Y:Harbor, N:-, J:-, R:Large Sugar.
N Settler++ N:quarry, J:corn, R:indigo, Y:sugar. It is about this time that I started thinking about Factory, but it was already getting late and I had a coffee monopoly, and I figured I wasn’t going to get more than two big buildings anyway.
J Prospector++
R Mayor R now producing fistfuls of indigo, sugar and corn.
9 N Craftsman+ Everyone is crafting except me, and I have the building for it.
J Trader+ J trades coffee, Y trades tobacco. Can’t argue with that, however.
R Captain+
Y Builder Y:Small Sugar, N:Large Indigo, J:City Hall, R:Discretionary Hold. I don’t know what the Large Indigo was about. Discretionary Hold works well.
10 J Trader J trades coffee, N trades indigo.
R Mayor+ R mans Discretionary Hold
Y Prospector+
N Builder N:Large Market. Seems like a lot of building going on.
11 R Settler++ R:indigo, Y:tobacco, N:coffee, J:coffee.
Y Captain+
N Builder N:Coffee Roaster. Again N takes builder and noone else builds.
J Craftsman+ Taken mostly so that I can say I’ve used my Civil Office once this game.
12 Y Trader+
N Mayor+
J Captain Why did I do that? Why?
R Prospector+
13 N Captain Ships one good, because she has Harbor and to establish a boat.
J Builder+ J:Fortress, R:-, Y:Custom’s House, N:- .
R Settler+ R:quarry, Y:corn, N:corn, J:corn . R sets herself up to buy one of the last big buildings.
Y Craftsman+
14 J Trader+
R Builder R:Fashion District, Y:Small Warehouse, N:-, J:- . N and I both have 9. I know that she will buy the last building before me, so I should just start buying small buildings, but I wait a round.
Y Captain R uses Discretionary Hold on all boats.
N Prospector+
15 R Settler+ R gets an indigo to max out Fashion District, Y:corn, N:corn, J:whatever.
Y Mayor++ This Mayor comes before the last two buildings are built on my board. Y and N both overlook the fact that they need to man their large buildings. In Y’s case, he misses it completely. In N’s case, she takes a VP lucrative Captain next round instead of Mayor, gaining a lot, but losing a lot by not maning her building. It was actually an oversight on both of their parts, and cost them each 6 VP.
N Builder N:Cathedral, J:Factory, R:Hospice, Y:-
J Prospector Anything but Craftsman or Captain. I have 12 VP, and want the game to end with Builder next round before any more shipping happens.
16 Y Craftsman+ Y and N produce all of the corn.
N Captain Unfortunately for Y, he is locked out of all shipping, as N fills a corn boat, J starts coffee, R starts indigo, and Y has nothing but corn, sugar and tobacco.
J Builder J:Hospice, R:?, Y:?, N:Tobacco Storage
R Settler

Final count:

  • N: 27 shipping + 20 building = 47
  • J: 12 shipping + 21 building + 11 bonus = 44
  • R: 33 shipping + 16 building + 8 bonus = 57
  • Y:27 shipping + 16 building = 43

San Juan

Jon 38, Nadine 36, Yitzchak 35

Note how often I prospect or build in the following game. All of my early cards were not immediately useful, so I built for the future. It turned out ok.

Jon Yitzchak Nadine
Role Building Role Building Role Building
Pp Tower B Tobacco C Smithy
B Well Pp C
Pp Pr B Silver
Pp T (11222) Pr
Pp B Quarry T (12233)
Pp Library C Aqueduct B Carpenter
Pp Aqueduct B Market Stand Pr Tobacco
Pp T (11122) B Trading Post
B Silver Pp Pr
Pp B Tobacco T (12223)
C Indigo B Carpenter Pr Tower
B City Hall Pp T (11223) Palace
C B Guild Hall Pr Prefecture
Pp Hero T City Hall B Victory Column
Pp T Pr
B Guild Hall Pp Silver C Triumphal Arch
Pp Tobacco B Sugar C
Indigo Indigo B Hero

Tikal

Yitzchak’s first time, and he seemed to be doing quite well. Unfortunately, our Tikal game was interrupted, as I mentioned above.


Mar 16, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Yitzchak, Elijah

Yitzchak returns after a two week hiatus. Welcome back. I wanted to introduce Go, but neither Saarya or Nadine were interested.

Checkers

Saarya+, Jon-

So instead, while waiting to start, I challenge Saarya to a game of Checkers, which I promptly resign after about 4 moves when he double jumps me and I can’t jump him back.

San Juan

Jon 39, Nadine 37

In an exception that proves the rule, I win with one fewer large buildings, but just barely, despite a much more developed board.

Round Roles Jon build Nadine build Notes
1 (J) B – Pp – C Prefecture An early Prefecture is godlike in two player, better than library, as it is two cards cheaper. Nadine has no answer.
2 (N) B – Pp – C Quarry Nadine favors Quarry. She starts with lots of good cards, and has to throw them away. I take Prospector, leaving Nadine nothing useful to do but Councelor, which is better for me.
3 (J) B – Pr – Pp Silver Prefecture My Councelor monopoly ends. I think the Pr was a mistake on Nadine’s part, as it also helps me more.
4 (N) C – B – Pp Quarry
5 (J) T – B – C Smithy Coffee
6 (N) Pr – B – T Market Hall I’m now two buildings ahead.
7 (J) C – B – Pr Coffee Carpenter
8 (N) C – T – Pp We are both over hand limits, and not overly concerned
9 (J) C – B – Pp Tower Silver I rarely build Tower, but I haven’t seen a 6 point building, yet, and I produce enough to make use of it.
10 (N) Pr – C – B Guild Hall City Hall I Councel a 6 pointer finally.
11 (J) Pr – T – B City Hall Guild Hall
12 (N) Pr – T – B Hero Palace I never see Palace, so I build the best I can.
13 (J) C – T – Pp I could have ended the game, but I give it one more round.
14 (N) B Silver Hero

Othello

Saarya 40, Yitzchak 24

Yitzchak shows up during SJ, so Saarya and he play a game of Othello (which I took out to teach Go). Saarya won the first corner, and easily converted the rest of the sides to his advantage.

Princes of Florence

Elijah 52, Saarya 51, Jon 49, Yitzchak 49, Nadine 44

Very wierd how a game can go slow, and still be interesting. Lots of thiking, not much action, yet still captivating. We all played pretty well – no professions left over at th end, most auctions valued well. Still, a careless move here or there, a sudden fight over an auction item, and the tides turn.

This was Elijah’s first game – he understood and played quite well. It looked like he was not going to win, with a slight early lead which usually means that a player is going to run out of steam with no professions left to play. Saarya, in the meantime, was playing straight with 4 great works to play in the last rounds, on top of 2 others gained from Recruiting cards. At the end of the day, with competeition for Jesters high, the Builder/Prestige strategy eked out a victory.

Player Auction Action 1 Action 2 Results
1 Saarya Recruiter – 1000 Profession Opinion We play that each player chooses 1 profession card out of 2, that you can only choose on the first round, and that the last one is thrown out. This prevents any undue advantage to players 1 and 2
Yitzchak Jester – 1200 Profession Religion
Nadine Forest – 200 Profession Opinion
Elijah Builder – 700 Profession Travel
Jon Lake – 200 Profession Travel

2 Saarya Lake – 200 Travel Theater (+3PP) It looks like Yitzchak and I are doing fine. Nadine’s 1400 for a Recruiter is a lot, but they are really almost as good as Jesters in 5 player. Elijahs second builder is key for him.
Yitzchak Forest – 200 Tower (+3PP) P20 (16 WV, +2PP, +3PP bonus)
Nadine Recruiter – 1400 Bonus P11 (11 WV, +0PP)
Elijah Builder – 800 (+3PP) Laboratory (+3PP) P17 (11 WV, +1PP)
Jon Jester – 1300 Workshop (+3PP) P7 (16 WV, +0PP, +3PP bonus)

3 Saarya Builder – 200 Religion P19 (15 WV, +0PP, +3PP bonus) Nadine’s Bonus cards are a formidible threat for best work in later rounds. I try to get early Prestige cards.
Yitzchak Recruiter – 1100 Bonus Travel
Nadine Jester – 1200 Bonus Bonus
Elijah Forest – 200 Hospital (+3PP) P?? (14 WV, +2PP)
Jon Prestige – 200 Bonus Religion

4 Saarya Recruiter – 1300 Laboratory (+3PP) P5 (16 WV, +3PP)
Yitzchak Lake – 200 Bonus P1+Bonus (WV 16, +2PP)
Nadine Park – 200 P8+Bonus (WV 17, +1PP, +3PP bonus) Bonus
Elijah Jester – 1100 Studio (+3PP) Religion
Jon Prestige – 200 Bonus Bonus

5 Saarya Jester – 900 Chapel (+3PP) Bonus Saarya, with 4 professions left to play, needs Jesters the most. Yitzchak gets a steal on a Recruiter. I need exactly a builder, forest, and park to make my prestige cards work. I don’t know yet that I’m doomed. I want the builder early, since I have free actions to use up, and I want to use them to build. Profession 6 is first played, and then recruited some 4 times in the following rounds. Yitzchak is again frustrated from best work. Nadine is getting landscapes for her bonus cards.
Yitzchak Recruiter – 500 Laboratory (+3PP) P6+Bonus (WV 22, +5PP)
Nadine Lake – 200 Hospital (+3PP) P16+Bonus (WV 23, +9PP, +3 bonus)
Elijah Prestige – 200 Bonus P14 (WV 16, +2PP)
Jon Builder – 500 Studio (+3PP) P15+Bonus (WV 20, +5PP)

6 Saarya Forest – 200 (-2PP) P6 (WV 18, +8PP) P21 (WV 18, +9PP) Saarya starts the cavalcade of professions. Nadine buys a Park for her bonus cards, and totally screws up one of my prestige cards. I buy a lake for the pp’s, and because I need at least two landscapes for the other prestige card. I would have fought Saarya more for the forest had I known there would be such competition for the Park. Elijah buys 2 bonus cards to pack a punch in the last round.
Yitzchak Jester – 500 P6 (WV 20, +9PP) Library (+3PP)
Nadine Park – 800 (+3PP) P5+Bonus (WV 17, +5PP) Opera (+3PP)
Elijah Prestige – 600 Bonus Bonus
Jon Lake – 200 (+3PP) University (+3PP) P2+Bonusx2 (WV 21, +10PP, +3PP bonus)

7 Saarya Jester – 200 (-2PP) P6 (WV 20, +10PP) P18 (WV 23, +11PP) Elijah whoops out a best work, and then plays three prestige cards, two for full value, and one for half, to eke out a victory we all thought would be Saarya’s.
Yitzchak Lake – 200 (+3PP) P4 (WV 17, +8PP) P10 (WV 20, +10PP)
Nadine Park – 200 (+3PP) P13+Bonus (WV 23, +11PP) pass
Elijah Prestige – 300 Opera (-2PP) (+3PP) P12+Bonusx3 (WV 28, +14PP, +3PP bonus)
Jon Forest – 300 Bonus P9+Bonus (WV 20, +10PP)

Prestige cards: Elijah +16PP, Jon +7PP

Geschenkt

Jon 34, Yitzchak 60, Elijah 63

Jon 41, Elijah 41, Saarya 44, Yitzchak 53

Saarya 12, Jon 28, Yitzchak 34, Elijah 44

A game to wrap up as people leave. In the first game I pulled two cards to inside straights. In the last game, Saarya ended with the ever popular 33,34,35 combo and no other cards.


Mar 09, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Elijah, Ran, David K, Eitan, Ephrayim

This week we hosted our first ASL contingent, as Ran, David, Eitan, and Ephrayim came solely to play ASL. Ran is the ASL guru – he came to teach. David K has SL experience, and was excited to play ASL. Eitan, my son, has been looking for a long time to find a wargame worth playing and opponents worth playing against. Ephrayim used to come to our club, but he was really only interested in wargames, and when none of us were interested in playing wargames, he eventually dropped out. I thought Ran and he would make a good match.

ASL

Ran, David, Eitan, Ephrayim

The game took about 2 hours of explanations – this is after David’s familiarity with SL and Eitan’s having read parts of the rulebook over the last few weeks. Then they played at about the same speed as the rail game – about one round per hour, with 9 hours supposed to be the end of the game.

Ephrayim seemed to decide that it was just too complicated to learn a new game, but he hopes Ran will come see some of his simpler games, such as Panzerblitz, etc… Eitan and David had a good time, although David’s German army did a good job of trashing Eitan’s American defenders. Ephrayim watched, and Ran acted as rules explainer as the game went on (“+1 for the trees, -1 for CX, +1 for moving, but his squad is broken, and this machine gun has a rusty trigger, so -1 for …”)

I made one comment: Eitan asked if he could move freely through a hex with a foxhole, and he was told that he wasn’t in the foxhole, just running around it. I said that this is like Just Visiting, and not actually in Jail. That got a laugh from David (“Everything I need to know about ASL I learned from playing Monopoly.” 🙂 ).

They ended the game somewhere in turn 5, when it Got Late.

Web of Power

Jon 58, Nadine 40, Saarya 37, Elijah 35

I decided that this would make a nice game to try again, seeing as we only have it for a while. Nadine liked the simple rules but complicated scoring. There’s nothing to do during other player’s turns, but the game is supposed to be quick enough that it doesn’t matter. Our pace was rather plodding, however. Eventually we moved a little quicker, except that Elijah continued to forget to pick after every turn (and took one very long think on the last round of the game), and Saarya continued to not pay attention until I told him it was his turn.

Scores after the first socring round were very close, all within 4 points of each other. I found myself crowded on the northeast corner of the board. Nadine was also in the east, but a little more scattered, Saarya in the big center, and Elijah on the west and southeast.

Saarya ended up with 10 points in paths and one nice Advisor link, and Nadine also had one nice advisor link. Luckily for me, I was left with 4 great advisor links in my little corner, netting me 24 points.

One complaint: the advisors are little cylanders that keep falling down and rolling off the table. They coudn’t have made them square? Note to game designers: make sure the pieces can’t roll of the table.

Settlers of Catan

Jon 12, Nadine/Saarya 5, Elijah 3

We hadn’t played this in a while, but Saarya didn’t really want to play, so he teamed with Nadine. This made me confused, as I kept expecting Nadine to roll the dice after Saarya, when it was my turn. I took a central position, and quickly got the best spots on the board. Elijah’s initial position was very problematic, and he rarely got anything besides wheat and brick. Then Saarya beat him to his first settlement, the brick harbor, and Elijah didn’t have much of a chance after that. I also got lucky with the robber, not losing much, and blocking a critical ore hex from both of them a few times.

I ended the game on my turn with 2 cities and a vp development card all bought in one turn.

Traumfabrik

Nadine 102, Jon 96, Elijah 48

Elijah requested this, and Nadine was willing to stay for it, but Saarya was busy helping a friend with a computer problem on the telephone. I started out with a good start, with a 15 point first purple movie, also good enough for best movie. By second round, I also had a 17 pointer and best movie again. Nadine still had no points by the end of the second round.

At the end of the third round, Nadine finally had one movie, a 21 point movie that took best picture. And then she ended with worst movie, and most of the contracts. Even without the contracts she was 86 to my 80. Nadine didn’t seem to play with a strategy, except getting worst movie, and neither of us expected her to win. This is similar to Avraham’s comment last time we played. Either there is something fundamentally wrong with the game, or there is a lot more luck then there seems, or we simply don’t understand the strategy, yet.

Nadine adds:

My overall strategy was the same as everyone’s – get good pieces without paying too much, put them in the best place. As we all get better at understanding the movie placement it seemed that would make the bidding matter more. But there are limits to both, you can’t control the bidding regularly because of the even distribution of contracts, and you can’t control what’s available on the board, you have to work with what you can get. Jon did a much better job than I did of planning, bidding for and getting useful pieces. I forgot that it’s important to finish movies early in order to get more movies, so I ended up with a lot of pieces that I couldn’t use. But part of my strategy was to wait and get pieces I wanted rather than rushing, which also gave me lots of contracts for when I did want something, so it’s not that I didn’t have a strategy, but I wasn’t playing well, and Jon’s strategy was a better one. So Jon is right about a lot of luck, or something. But I need those kinds of games sometimes when I’m not up to winning strategically.

Geschenkt

Jon 41, Saarya 63, Elijah 104

Jon 30, Saarya 61, Elijah 74

Saarya 33, Jon 37, Elijah 74

Jon 32, Elijah 45, Saarya 32

Nothing terribly notable in these games, except that each game’s win was using a different strategy. Sometimes with only two high cards and nothing else, sometimes by a long run of middle or low cards. There is no set winning strategy, here.

Also notable was game 3, where I took a total of 15 cards, one after the other, all between 7 and 20. Unfortunately, there was just a tad too much in the way of holes.

See you next week.


Mar 02, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Rachel A, Elijah, Saarya

Tonight was a slow night – Nadine and Elijah were our only two “out-of-house” guests. And with the start of the Tel Aviv group, I suppose I won’t be getting any Tel Aviv players out here on the odd night, at least until game day. I have to start thinking of how to get new blood. With few people, all of whom have distinct ideas of what they will play and what they will not play, it was almost impossible to have any game at all, unless we split into 2 2-player games.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Jon 48, Rachel 44, Nadine 43, Elijah 39

With only 5 people, and Rachel around, a good time to rope her in for a game of PR. Saarya didn’t want to play, so we played 4 player while Saarya web surfed.

Buildings:

  • Aqueduct
  • Civil Office – When you buy Civil Office, pick a phase (even before it is manned). You get double the privilege for that phase whenever you take that phase. A unique and interesting building to play.
  • Small Fashion District – Sell indigo at +2 GP. Removing Small Market from the game, and adding this building, really helps the indigo players, without unbalancing too much.
  • Small Warehouse
  • Hospice – You can move a colonist onto Hospice when you buy it. The change strengthens Hospice just enough to make it worth buying.
  • Trading Post – Note that Small Fashion District also doesn’t apply using TP.
  • Large Market
  • Discretionary Hold – Store up to three additional goods. You may place 1 barrel of any type onto any full ship for 1 extra VP. This is the best 6 cost building I have. Small Wharf is not strong enough to be worth it. Specialization Wharf, which is a wharf for only one good type, is a bit strong.
  • Factory
  • Large General Workhouse – 2 circles. Produce any goods along with the corresponding manned plantations. You can choose different goods each time you produce. A slightly over-strong building, but not enough to unbalance the game. Strangely enough, not bought this game, although I considered it.
  • Large Business – Pay one less per building. Earn 1 VP if you ship at least one type of goods.I.e. Builder and Captain privileges. A much more balanced building than Harbor for 2 or 3 players. Not strictly necessary in 4 players, but just as good.
  • Wharf
  • Governor’s Hall – 6 points. +4 VP if you have any colonists in San Juan. An interesting strategy to fulfill.
  • Reserves – +2 VP per type of goods on your board. Another interesting strategy, which makes your last shipping a trade-off. Best bet is to ship and then craft at the end of the game.
  • Fortress
  • Custom’s House
  • City Hall

Here is the play:

    1. N: Settler. N:Quarry, E:Indigo, J:Sugar, R:Corn. E is going for Aqueduct. J is going to produce early sugar. R wants some early VP’s.
    2. E: Builder. E:Large Indigo, J:Small Sugar, R:Small Sugar, N:passes.
    3. J: Mayor.
    4. R: Prospector.
    1. E: MayorE ends up losing out on building, due to an overly heavy shipping strategy.
    2. J: CaptainJ is happy if someone takes Trader, and happy if left Craftsman with 2 GP.
    3. R: CraftsmanR now tries to convince N to take Trader, to prevent J from getting it with 2 GP.
    4. N: Trader.
    1. J: Builder. J:Civil Office (Builder), R:passes, N:Small Indigo, E:AqueductJ choosesBuilder, as this is a GP benefit phase, and his opponents can either take it to prevent him from taking it, leaving him lots of GPs on other phases, or let him take it. E will soon be producing 4 indigos a turn.
    2. R: Prospector.
    3. N: Settler.
    4. E: Mayor.
    1. R: CaptainR gets to ship her 3 corn.
    2. N: Craftsman.
    3. E: Builder. E:Civil Office (Mayor), J:Hospice, R:Small Indigo, N:passes. E is looking to get lots of colonists to use two of the big buildings, but he never gets enough money to buy them. Jon thinks long and hard about Hospice, and gets it because he can immediately use it to get a manned quarry.
    4. J: Settler. J:quarry, R:coffee, N:tobacco, E:sugar.
    1. N: TraderWith 2 GP on it.
    2. E: Captain.
    3. J: Prospector.
    4. R: Builder. R:Coffee Roaster, N:Tobacco Storage, E:passes, J:passes.
    1. E: MayorWith 2 GP on it
    2. J: SettlerJ gets another quarry
    3. R: Craftsman.
    4. N: Trader. Trades tobacco, and no one else can trade.
    1. J: Builder. J:Large Business, R:passes, N:Large Business, E:Small Fashion DistrictJ almost buys a Large General Workhouse. his 8 cost building only cost me 4 GP.
    2. R: Trader. Trades coffee, N trades tobacco.
    3. N: CaptainE is already shipping 4 indigo.
    4. E: Mayor.
    1. R: Builder. R:Factory, N:Small Sugar, E:passes, J:Tobacco StorageN’s build is free, and J’s costs 2 GP. R’s Factory is a good build for her, and would have helped J a lot, too.
    2. N: ProspectorWith 2 GP on it.
    3. E: Settler.
    4. J: Captain.
    1. N: CraftsmanWith 2 GP on it.
    2. E: TraderE trades indigo at 4 GP, +1 for Trader, and no one else can trade.
    3. J: Captain.
    4. R: Mayor.
    1. E: Builder. E:Wharf, J:passes, R:Discretionary Hold, N:City HallE has already dumped goods, and doesn’t want to do that again.
    2. J: SettlerJ gets another quarry and GP, so he can afford a big building next time.
    3. R: Trader.
    4. N: Mayor.
    1. J: ProspectorWith 2 GP on it.
    2. R: Craftsman.
    3. N: Captain.
    4. E: BuilderE finally gets a Sugar Mill.
    1. R: TraderR traded coffee some five or six times this game.
    2. N: Mayor.
    3. E: SettlerBoth R and J have numerous corns, one indigo and sugar, and one other good. E has 4 indigo, 4 sugar, and a corn. N has tobacco and one corn and/or sugar.
    4. J: Builder. J:Custom’s House, R:passes, N:Small Warehouse, E:passes.
    1. N: CraftsmanN helps everyone else at least as much as herself, here.
    2. E: Captain.
    3. J: ProspectorTurns out that the game ends next round, before J can build another big building.
    4. R: Builder. R:Reserves, N:Small Fashion District, E:passes, J:Indigo Plant.Reserves is at cross-purposes with Discretionary Hold, but either one will work.
    1. E: Mayor.
    2. J: SettlerJ gets another quarry and GP, so he can afford a big building, but never gets to use it.
    3. R: Craftsman.
    4. N: CaptainGame ends by victory points.

Final standings:

  • Jon: 25 shipping + 17 building + 6 bonus building = 48 points.
  • Rachel: 24 shipping + 14 building + 6 bonus building = 44 points.
  • Nadine: 22 shipping + 16 building + 5 bonus building = 43 points.
  • Elijah: 29 shipping + 10 building + 0 bonus building = 39 points.

Hansa

Jon, Nadine, Saarya, Elijah

I played this 2 player with Saarya and though it was ok, and worth trying multiplayer. I thought it was still good, maybe better, but my fellow players really didn’t like it. There is nothing to do while you are waiting for your turn, and you can’t plan much in advance, since you have no control over what the situation will be by the time it gets back to you. Add to this that the turns are repetitive and not escalatory, which means that you don’t feel that you are building anything for a big payoff later. Whatever you build will be worn away within a round or two. They quit about halfway through.

San Juan

Nadine 43, Jon 41

I really thought I was winning this one, but Nadine pulled out all four big buildings by the end of the game, which slightly trumped my three. I stated with a Prefecture and Counseled most of the game, while Nadine started with a silver on round 2, and produced a whole lot. She then got Quarry/Carpenter, while I had Smithy.

Nadine Jon
Indigo Indigo
Silver Prefecture
Quarry Gold Mine
Carpenter Smithy
Trading Post Tobacco
Gold Mine Market Hall
Market Stand Silver
Palace Guild Hall
Triumphal Arch City Hall
Hero Palace
City Hall Silver
Guild Hall Indigo

Next week I hope to have a table of wargamers playing ASL, at least. Spread the word, if you know someone who plays, or who wants to learn, bring ’em over. And don’t forget your snacks.


Feb 23, 2005

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Ben, Elijah, Gilad

Saarya was away at a wedding, Daniel has been called back to yeshivah to learn every night for the forseeable future, Rachel was teaching in Beit Shemesh, and David and Avraham weren’t here this week.

Instead, Ben dropped by with Cosmic Encounter, by request. Also, Gilad, the current organizer of a small central game group in Reut, soon to be large Tel Aviv game group, dropped in to meet our gang. Gilad is a nice guy, and a good sport. He also brought over two games to look at: Kardinal and Koenig, also known as Web of Power, and Hansa. Hansa we didn’t get to play, but WoP we did.

Geschenkt

Elijah 0, Jon 24, Yitzchak 30, Nadine 39

We started with a regular multiplayer quickie, while waiting for the stragglers to show up. Elijah took the first card, 35, with about twenty tokens on it, and then wrapped it up by taking every card from 28 to 35, and 28 tokens to boot, netting him a perfect score of 0.

I took only one card the entire game, the 26, but I only ended up with 2 stones.

Cosmic Encounter

Ben 5, Gilad 4*, Yitzchak 4, Jon 4, Nadine 4, Elijah 1

Introducing Gilad to the great joy of CE (we play Mayfair CE and More CE), as well as being the second or third time for Yitzchak, Nadine and Elijah. The game was just complicated enough without being frustrating – exactly where I like it.

In order to do this, I insisted on taking out the reverse cones which, in my opinion, make the end game and alliances, which are key to the game, uninteresting. When you have several players sitting with 4 bases, and you get a reverse cone, it means that noone can ally with either player, and the game tends to end with a dull thud.

I would like to play that way from now on.

Another change we play, and have always played: the desitny pile determines the system you are attacking, but not the player. This can sometimes drag out the game, but the standard rules make the game kind of short, and somewhat less tactical. And another: when you toss your hand, keep your flares and draw seven new cards. This puts a little magic back into the flares that was removed from the original Eon rules. Some other rule changes as well, most of which didn’t appear.

We dealt out single powers to everyone and then switched some around and tossed some to make sure each player didn’t have one too complicated or unbalanced. Powers:

  • Jon played Seeker (ask one yes/no question each round to a main player). I enjoy the complex mediocre powers, and this is a near perfect example of it. My questions ranged from “will you play any flares this round?” to “do you think that you have a good hand?” Towards the end of the game I got the Wild Aristocrat, which lets you pick any card from the deck. I chose the Wild Pentaform, which allows you to discard your power, pick two more, and choose one. One choice was the Warrior, totally useless at end game. The other was the Diplomat (allows you to make deals with both main players if you are not one), which was perfect for a game ending with most players having 4 bases.
  • Nadine had Vampire (defeated tokens are turned over and become yours). This was the feared power, so we either avoided attacking her, won at all costs, or sunk her pieces into the Warp to encourage her to play a Mobius Tubes if she ever got one. She only got to use the power once towards the end of the game, where it was helpful, since most of her pieces were in the warp and she really needed more.
  • Elijah played the Delegator (if you are ally or main player, you select who is the main player on each side of the cone among allies and main players), which was, unfortunately not a good pick for him. He played it ok, and he used it sometimes to his benefit, and sometimes just for chaos purposes. Unfortunatley, he made quite a few enemies this way. He quickly lost invitations to ally, unless it was to that player’s benefit to have him use his power, and he could be convinced to use it as such.
  • Yitzchak player the Healer (prevent others from going to the warp, gain one card per player). In Eon, the benefit was one card per token – big difference. This version was nice, but not great. While he didn’t have the most pieces in the warp, he sure has a lot, but he had the second nicest hand in the meantime. I didn’t think it would be Yitzchak’s style to play this, but I think he enjoyed the power trip that came with it 🙂 .
  • Gilad had the straightforward Anti-Matter (lower total wins, opps tokens are added to his card, all other tokens, including all allies, are subtracted from the cards). With so many allies in six players, I feared it might be weak, but it turned out to be fairly strong, giving a 5 or 7 point advantage almost every time.
  • Ben played Aristocrat (1. select your starting hand from the deck. 2. discard a flare and pick a flare each time you are main player.) This turned out to the the real force of the game, as Ben picked all flares from the deck, and then drew seven cards (keeping the flares), and then allied defensively, giving him the killer hand to take victory.

Gilad started, and I think we made it around exactly three times, which is better than last time when the player going last won without ever having a turn (Parasite). Yitzchak took a quick lead, but everything balanced out until all of us, except Elijah, had four bases. I got my Diplomat and tried to end the game but got zapped each time. Last play, Ben took Gilad onto a double victory, first zapping Elijah, then Cloning the card and zapping me. Then, after the outcome of the last battle, he played Vaccum, eliminating one of Gilad’s bases, and winning a solo victory after all. A perfect diabolical ending.

It was in the last stages of the game where I knew how good it was that the reverse cones were out of the game. I think I could tolerate the Solar Wind edict, as long as it was changed to be able to be played after cards are flipped, instead of at the beginning of the round as it currently works.

Web of Power

Yitzchak 67, Jon 48, Gilad 46, Nadine 41

Introducing to all of us a lovely game that I had heard was a light version of El Grande, and it is. It is great to find relatively quick games that still have great depth, for more than 2 players. Initial impressions put it in the Ra category of weight. Also, I would compare its gameplay to Taj Mahal – very simple mechanics each round, with tough decisions and limited actions each turn.

The object of WoP is to get the most VPs, of course. The board is a lot like Taj Mahal, with nine provinces like El Grande. Provinces are connected to each other by “Taler links” (let’s call them). In each province is space for four to eight cities. Cities are conected, like Taj Mahal, by “City links”.

Each player has two types of pieces: cities and talers. Cities go on city spaces. Talers go in the middle of the province. Each province can only hold as many talers as the number of cities already built by the player who has the most cities in that province. So if I have 3 cities and Ben has 2 cities in a province, there can be no more than 3 talers total in that province.

Each player has three cards in his hand, and all cards name one or two provinces. During your turn, you play cards and place pieces according to the cards you played. You can only place pieces into one province per turn, and you can place no more than two pieces per turn, either cities or talers. If you have two cards of the right province, you can use them. Otherwise, any two matching cards can be used for any one province card that you want.

So, for instance, if you hand has cards A, B, and C, you can only play in one place: A, B, or C. If you have A, B, and B, you can either play in A and A (using the A card, and both B’s as wild), or B and B (using both B’s), or C (using both B’s as wild). Of course, you could also just play once in A or B, too.

So basically, you play one, two or three cards, put down one or two items into a province, and then draw back up to three. Wash rinse repeat. When the deck is exhausted, all players complete their turns and then you score one scoring mechanism – cities only. After the deck is exhausted twice, you score all three scoring mechanisms, which are:

  • If you have the most, or tied for most number of cities in a province, you score for all cities actually placed into that province. If you have second most, then you score the number of cities placed by the player with the most. If you have third, the number placed by the second. Etc… What this means, is that if three players all have one city, they each score three. If one player has 6 cities, and you have 1, the first player scores 7, and you score 6. This mechanism is the only one used during the first scoring round, and is repeated during the second scoring round.
  • The second scoring is for city paths. Any path of four or more cities of one player scores the length of the path. This only scores during the second scoring round.
  • The third scoring is the taler paths. There are fifteen taler paths between provinces. Any player with the most, or tied for most, talers on both sides of any link scores for the number of talers on both sides. There is no second place scoring for talers. This scoring is only during the second scoring round.

One play is not enough to grasp the patterns of the game play. However, it was very, very good. There is always a tradeoff: adding cities to a province might give some lurker the ability to place only one city and get almost as many points as you did. Also, placing more cities means allowing other players to add talers. But you can’t add more talers until you have more cities. You need to play both at one for maximum effect. Only, you only have 8 talers to use for the whole game.

At the end of the day, Gilad left us Hansa, and I loaned him Torres. After he left we realized that he also left Web of Power. I promised to return it asap – I was hoping to go tomorrow to his group in Reut. I hope my decision is not swayed by wanting to keep WoP longer 🙂 .

Yitzchak began by completely monopolizing a small inner province, and Nadine took a large province to herself. Since we were newcomers, we didn’t realize that a single city in that province would be so lucrative until too late. Gilad played a taler heavy strategy, which lost out since he didn’t score twice for the cities. Howvever, Nadine only had cities in two provinces. Yitzchak score reasonably for all types, lots of second places and several talers and roadways, so ended up winning.


Feb 16, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, David K, Avraham, Nadine, Yitzchak, Michael, Elijah

Magic: the Gathering

Jon 20, David 0

Stop, hold the presses! I win my first game against David Klein is about, oh, 15 years. I would like to announce my retirement from Magic. I have decided to never play again.

Well, all right.

David and I do a Rochester draft, taking 20 cards of each color and “artifacts/golds/special lands” for a pool of 120 cards. Then I remove 30 at random and we draft the remaining 90. I construct a reasonable black, red, blue deck, pulling out the right mana just when I need it. David, OTOH, only gets one of his two colors (red/green), and can’t play any cards.

Result: Luck 1, Skill 0.

David 9, Avraham 0

I go to eat dinner, while Avraham and David continue, Avraham playing my drafted deck.

Result: Luck 1, SKill 1.

David 17/9, Jon 7/0, Avraham 0/0

Later in the evening we played a three player game of Magic. Your job is to kill both of your opponents. You keep track of how much life each of your opponents has, and when both are down to zero, you win. You don’t leave the game, even if both of your opponent’s have killed you. In this game, attacking leaves you vulnerable to two counterattacks, albeit the losses are taken from two different pools of life.

Without much time, we took the 120 cards from before and dealt each player 40 to draft with. We all constructed 3 color decks, and, by round six, both Av and Dav have 2 lands of each color, while I have 4 black and two blue (no reds). Still, I do reasonably well, until David draws a Winter Blast.

Result: Luck 2, Skill 1.

Is it possible that there is just too much luck in this game when decks are drawn from a random pool of cards?

San Juan

Michaal 35, Elijah 18

Michael and Elijah played a waiting game of San Juan until Yitzchak and Nadine came.

Railroads of Catan

David 31,200, Saarya 23,700, Jon 22,100, Avraham 17,800

Yeah! Enough people to break out a RRoC game. The board is a mixed up SoC board, with cities placed on hexes. This was the first play using my new, slightly tweaked rules (see on my site). The basic game is – start with $15,000:

  1. Pay maintenance of 1/10 value for all items.
  2. Blind bid for turn order.
  3. Select roles (such as Conductor: free movement on all rails, Engineer: build rails at half price).
  4. Flip delivery orders. Older delivery orders gain extra cash.
  5. Build rails and trains. Rails $1000, $2000 through mountains or over water. Train segments cost $5000 (new), $8000 (upgrade).
  6. Run rails and trains, delivering goods and delivery orders.
  7. Check for game end.

This is a long game, like most rail games. Each round, you have to plan where your rails are going to go, how much you will be spending, how much you will be making. You have to decide the cost of buying goods, running trains, achieving the delivery orders (which are huge: if you go first, you can get several), and simply buying and selling goods. Avraham compared the complexity to Civilization. It is all right out there, but it is so complicated that it is hard to hold in your head.

Nevertheless, he and David said that they really enjoyed it, but it was, perhaps, too much. Suggestions included making the rail connections more difficult and eliminating all of the deliveries, except for the delivery orders. To do that, I would have to make the first mover less huge. I could also limit everyone to one train, each segment adding to it’s features.

Anyway, a game can last seven rounds, but it can also end earlier if someone connects his cities, which is what Saarya did, ending the game after only three rounds. Altogether, including a practice round, the game lasted about three hours.

First round, Saarya took first mover and the role that let him build rails at half price, which was perfect for him, as he built several through mountains. Then I took Banker (10% of my cash), Avraham took Conductor (move freely) and David the role that let him build extra tracks. David and I took early delivery orders, but Saarya set up a sweet double city, delivering ore to a city for $3000 a pop. Nice.

Next round, Avraham jumped up with a huge bid for first mover, which game him first crack at delivery orders, beating me to a good one. Note: my first iteration of the rules had each player with private delivery orders. The next one had us auctioning delivery orders. This version has each player simply taking the delivery order when he makes a delivery. The first method had a large luck problem – but that was partially because the value of the delivery orders was variable. The second one was long and tedious. This one make going first a huge advantage. Reducing each player to only one train apiece might solve it.

I went second, but could not get a single delivery order done, but was in good shape to get one next round. Meanwhile, David and Saarya took some more.

Third round I bid big for first, which gave me the DO I wanted, but Saarya ended up connecting all of his cities. After the dust settled, David K was in front by a large margin (which didn’t surprise anyone), and Saarya’s lucrative ore sales gave him second.

Amun Re

Nadine 44, Yitzchak 37, Elijah 31, Michael 21

Michael’s first play. I didn’t hear much about this one, except for the middle scores: Nadine 16, Elijah 15, Michael 13, Yitzchak 12. They has fun, and played from about 7:15 until 10:30. (we have a pretty slow playing game group).

Oceania

Jon 16, David 8

I taught David K, and played my third game, still expecting to grow bored of it, since it is so simple. Luck is large, but somehow I keep finding new things to do. This time, I used the “automatically fill in closed areas” rule to full extent by exploring one tile length away from an area, placing my scout, and then filling in the spot.

The game board grew into one very large continent, with two side continents. I managed to finally close the continent, which allowed me to place the one more scout I need to control it, which was also my last. David took the two side continents, and I ended up with two unplayed tiles, reducing my score from 20 to 16.

Traumfabrik

Avraham 77, Jon 75, Saarya 73, David 54

I taught David and Avraham how to play, since we needed something not too long, and a change of pace from RRoC. David reacted about as expected – simple and nice – while Avraham didn’t really like it, as he didn’t understand what he had done to win the game. I played my usual poor game, but luckily took best (*) (18) and worst movie (2) in the last season. David had best movie for a while at 17, but nothing else. Avraham has a solid portfolio of movies and best in green and yellow. Saarya, as usual, had most star power most of the game, and had best directors. Most of the movies were 10 to 12 points, except Avraham’s, two of which were 14 and 15, I believe.

* As someone pointed out on BGG, I have been playing with yet one more rule mistake. There is no Best Movie at the end of the game. Only best in all three colors, worst movie, and best directors. Argh.

Another Wed, another game night.


Feb 09, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Daniel, Yehudah P, Michael, Elijah, Nadine, Rachel A

Back in my apt this week, as the gang wanted their meat, and we really couldn’t think of any advantage of playing in the cafe until they have other groups interested. I asked them to contact me if they do.

Michael, Elijah’s father, has been free to come the last few weeks. I am still relating to him as “Elijah’s father”. It would be good to play a game with just him, while Elijah plays in the other game, so we can get to know him directly.

Also, Yehudah Porat, a guy who played Magic, and RPG, and stuff with me many years ago (sorry, only vague memories), came by, brought by Daniel. Welcome, Yehudah. He has played Settlers and Cities, so he knows something, and of course he is a gamer type, so he picks up rules quickly. I’ll spell his name with an “h” to distinguish him from my name: “Jon”.

There was a lot of shushing this evening; I think some of us just have loud voices, and the table has two games going, so it is important to try to keep a discreet level of noise. Also, as I pointed out during the game: with newcomers it is good to give solid rules explanations (one person at a time). However, let the new players figure out the strategies on their own, aside from basic concepts and absolutely stupid moves which indicate a lack of rules knowledge.

San Juan

Jon 33, Daniel 27, Yehudah 22

Daniel and Yehudah came a little early, so Daniel explained San Juan to Yehudah while I finished dinner, and then we played three way. I started off with an early production strategy, and just kept at it all game, getting Traders House, Acqueduct, and Well and cheap production buildings. This put the pressure on others to build, hence the low scores. I tossed out all City Halls, waiting for an eventual Guild Hall, and at the last moment, Palace.

Daniel built towards City Hall, playing it as his last build, even though we knew he couldn’t catch me by that point. Yehudah played a learning game.

Dvonn

Michael 29, Elijah 14

Actually, I don’t think you keep score in Dvonn, but that’s the scores they told me.

Michael and Elijah came while we were playing SJ, so they played a side game of Dvonn waiting for us to finish.

Nadine also showed up, but rather than play a side game with Saarya, Saarya tried to show her magic tricks. I think I need a few more two player games.

El Grande

Saarya 137, Nadine 130, Yehudah 126, Daniel 97

We haven’t played El Grande in a while, which is a shame, so I brought it out. Saarya always wants to play the K&I expansion, but with a new player and a player who has only played once, I had to disappoint him again. Maybe on shabbat.

I didn’t follow the game closely. At the end of the first scoring, Saarya and Nadine were ahead 37 and 36, and the others were both at 27. By the end of the second scoring, Saarya was at 99, Nadine and Yehuda at 88 and 89, and Daniel was trailing badly. I surmised that this was probably due to Daniel’s uncontrollable urge to “cause chaos” at the expense of winning, on occasion, and El Grande provides just such opportunities (my guess was confirmed by the other players).

Torres

Jon 264, Michael 228, Elijah 213

Elijah has played Tikal already, and fairly successfully, so I started him and Michael on Torres. Everyone did well by the first scoring round: I scored 37, Michael 38, and Elijah 37 moving to 39. I thought I was in for a rough ride. However, Michael blew some early cards, and Elijah didn’t play enough of them, and then I stole the top position in Michael’s tower and kept raising it until it was 10×10, keeping the others out. Elijah was able to completely lock up third round king scoring, but this was not enough to help him. I expect much tougher competition next time.

Gechenkt

Elijah 6, Michael 52, Jon 74

Elijah and Michael only had 30 minutes. Elijah wanted to teach Michael how to play Geschenkt, so onto the table it came, and Elijah promptly gave us a whoop down, pulling inside straights 11 through 21 …

Elijah 41, Michael 68, Jon 73

… and then doing it again (or something similar). Sheesh.

Yehudah 28, Saarya 28, Daniel, 61

Later in the evening, we taught Yehudah, and this game was played to a tie score.

Taj Mahal

Daniel 83, Saarya 52, Yehudah 45

Unusual to be able to play several meaty games all in one night, but we all played pretty quickly, so it can be done.

Daniel has a history of winning this game, much like Nadine acquired a history for winning El Grande, and Rachel for Puerto Rico. Daniel’s main line of attack until now has been palace connections, mainly because everyone else always fights over elephants.

This time, since Saarya and Yehudah knew this, the fought over connections, leaving Daniel to scoop up the elephants. As the saying goes: “Wise man know: two players fight over Longest Road, third man win.” Taj Mahal is one long battle over Longest Road.

At the end of round 4, scores were: Yehudah 16, Daniel 12, Saarya 7. Yehudah was heading toward hand burnout big-time, and that’s what happened. By round 9, scores were: Yehudah 33, Daniel 45, Saarya 15. I assume that Saarya was being thwarted by Yehudah at most opportunities, which hurt them both.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Rachel 55, Jon 53, Nadine 46

Rachel and I almost always play with some variation of the following set, now:

  • Aqueduct:Lg Ind and Lg Sug produce extra goods (sometimes Assembly Line:all prod buildings have extra space)
  • Small Fashion District:Sell indigo at +2
  • Hacienda (somtimes Surveyors Office:pick any plantation from supply)
  • Small Warehouse
  • Hospice:plantations come pre-filled. May move colonists onto Hospice when buying
  • Large Market
  • Trading Post (in two player, something else, like ChurchOffice, or something wierder.Exchange House:swap a good with Trading House at end of Trading phase, is a bit powerful, but also sometimes used)
  • Discretionary Hold:store up to 3 goods, and may ship 1 barrel extra into the Hold of any full ship. Sometimes we play Small Wharf:ship any goods to supply for 1 VP/2 barrels, orSpecialization Wharf:prime SW with one of your barrels, you have wharf of that good type.)
  • Factory (sometimes Super Market:sell at +3)
  • Large General Workhouse (2 circles):produce any goods with corresponding plantations. LGW can be very powerful. It’s natural enemy is Exchange House, but EH is a bit powerful, also. Still it is not unbeatable.
  • Large Business:gain captain’s and builder’s privileges (+1 VP if ship at least once, -1 all buildings)
  • Wharf
  • All big buildings, except Guild Hall, for which we substitute various others, such as Capitol(+1/3 points in red building vp’s)

Which is what we played. I was second, and Rachel started out with Settler/quarry, leaving me sugar, and Nadine coffee. I looked and looked and looked and finally decided to go with an unusual Aqueduct strategy, I produced a heck of a lot of it, but I could almost never trade it, since Rachel deliberately blocked up the TH with sugars. I had trouble shipping it, since Nadine and Rachel together locked boats and kept trading coffee and tobacco before I could force them to ship enough to clear the boat. Blah. Even so, I still scored ok.

Nadine took Large Gen Warehouse, but never produced tobacco with it, only coffee and sugar. Producing the sugar slowed down the coffee boats. She also took Trading Post, to slow down the Trading House.

Rachel took Hospice, a building I fear she has been creaming me with quite often. I don’t know if it is because we play 2 player or 3 player so there is always something useful for her to pick, or that the added momentum of moving a colonist onto it when you buy it really makes it worthwhile, but she uses it well. She quickly picked up a few corns and then tobacco and Factory, the latter which I was slowing down due to sugar hoarding. Eventually she got Discretionary Hold, and shipped a few extra goods even when she was locked out of shipping.

Both Nadine and Rachel took two big buildings, and I was lucky to get the one I did, although a Wharf would have been even nicer.

So when can we play Railroads of Catan, again? How about my other game, Adaptations of Catan?


Feb 02, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Daniel, Yitzchak, Liat, Shmuel, Sam, Elijah

Tonight’s session was unusual for many reasons.

First of all, two weeks ago we were invited to play in the basement cafe of a local bed and breakfast, Little House in Baka’a, and this week we decided to try them out. So I trudged the few blocks with a backpack and plastic bag full of games, while Daniel met us there with other games he had borrowed.

You go through a bar like area into a basement square room, with a dozen small tables about the right size to play Go. They didn’t know what we wanted, so several arrangements had been made: 6 tables pushed together, 2 tables together, and the rest singles.

Also this week, Daniel brought a friend – Shmuel – who is obviously a nineties gamer, as he brought several Munchkins and Grave Robbers From Outer Space. Yitzchak brought a friend – Liat – who spoke Hebrew but understood English. She played Amun Re, but didn’t look too comfortable, so I’m not sure she’ll be back. I also brought someone new – Sam – the head of the Jerusalem Go club, and also the owner of the Israeli Go web site. More on him later.

The staff came in after a little while in wanting to sell us dinner. Since they approached me, I don’t know what our obligations are, but we ended up ordering a variety of items. I wonder what they expect of us.

I need feedback from people to assess whether this is the way to go. Here are some positives and negatives:

Positives

  • Bigger space
  • Food available any time
  • Liable to be more public (not really, though, we’re not talking downtown or even street level)
  • Publicity in advetisement

Negatives

  • Have to shlepp games to the place, and back
  • Can’t order what food we want (like meat), and their food is a trifle expensive. No bringing snacks.
  • Feel obliged to spent money
  • People left without paying bill!
  • Bad cell phone reception for some of us

Comments?

Attika

Jon+, Saarya

Having heard good things about this, I felt obliged to try it with Saarya as two player. I can’t comment on multi-player, but 2 player was one of the most dull experiences I have ever had. Saarya even compared it unfavorably to Oasis which he hated.

Basically, you either flip and build buildings, build buildings, or draw cards. Most buildings cost very little or nothing to play. As Saarya pointed out early, it was very unlikely that either of us would connect two enpoints, so one of us was going to have to build all their buildings.

There must be something more to the game. I just put down buildings, drew new ones, occasionally blocked a route for Saarya. Ho hum.

In addition, while many games include a few additional components, Attika really suffered in lacking components. There is no way to keep track of what you’ve already built, if you’ve completed a set of buildings, and the graphics on the tokens are pretty, but indistinguishable from a distance. Simple color coding would work better.

Somewhere amid fighting for building spaces and some real threat of connecting endpoints there must be a game, but none of that happened.

Amun Re

Yitzchak 44, Liat 38, Daniel 37, Shmuel 27

An introductory game for Shmuel and Liat. I think we have driven numerous people away using Amun Re an an intro game. Let’s stop doing that, ok?

Midgame scores were: Shmuel 13, Yitzchak 12, Daniel and Liat 11. I don’t know what happened to Shmuel in the middle – most likely over-spent in the first half. I just read a session report from someone else who said that the winner bought no pyramids at all during the first three rounds. Something to think about.

Tikal

Saarya 113, Jon 104, Elijah 97

I thought this was mine, but Saarya really took control of temples in mid game, and overshot me in the final scoring round. I had most treasures – not quite enough. Elijah played conservatively, and made impressive gains in the last two rounds as well, gaining 40 points on my lead. Thinking went on too long, however. When I start getting distracted, it becomes less engaging to play.

Go

Sam+, Jon

Sam joined us while I was playing Tikal, so I split into a parallel game of Go on a 9×9 board with him. Sam is a good Go player (not dan level yet, but whatever). I would like to influence our own members to learn Go, but also to influence him to other things. Still, I was nervous he would find other games silly.

Go is just a great game. Unlike chess, it is wide open, instead of narrow and focussed, so you can have good feelings about little battles. Chess requires massive memorizing of standard plays. Go requires recognizing different completion patterns, something much easier to acquire, and in fact, can be learned through experience relatively qickly. You’re not going to win against the deep thinkers so quickly, but you can make progress. And Go has a natural built in handicap system which really works, so any two players can enjoy a game, no matter what their level.

Even with a 2 stone advantage on a 9×9 board, I quickly lost control of the center and edges, only keeping a single side of the board at the end.

Pente x 12

Jon 7, Sam 2

On the other hand, I got to teach him Pente, which he really liked. Now I was the one who knew the patterns better. Pente still surprises me at being a good game, when I expect it to simply be solved for the first player.

I won a few games before he caught onto all of the implications of the capturing rule.

Daniel 4, Jon 1

Later, Daniel trounced me while I was finishing a game of San Juan on the side, taking 4 games to my 1. Last time we played it was the reverse, so I’m sure he feels vindicated.

Grave Robbers From Outer Space

Daniel 15, Yitzchak 0, Shmuel -15

Don’t know, and not really that interested. Another in the line of Munchkin, Chez Geek, etc… silly card games.

San Juan

Saarya 40, Sam 37, Jon 32

After softening Sam up with Pente, I decided to try San Juan as a gateway game, and it seemed to work pretty well. I think he was enjoying himself. It is a pleasure to find someone new who listens and thinks about what he’s doing. He did quite well for a new player, beating my poor showing. Saarya built early Prefecture and Library, and pulled all the 6 pointers he needed.

Next week … where?


Jan 26, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Rachel A, Michael, Elijah, David K, Avraham, Yitzchak

I received a call from the manager of a local coffee shop who saw my ad in the paper and was interested in having us play there on a regular basis. He would get more business, I guess, and we would get more exposure. I ran this by the group, but couldn’t get a clear consensus until late in the day, so we will aim to try this next week.

Michael, Elijah’s father, is free for the next couple of weeks, and is concerned about him playing in a public space (still not entirely sure why, but not my call). Yitzchak and Ben are concerned with the lack of meat in the coffee shop (no burgers).

This week we play several new games, as I loaned, and borrowed, a bunch from the Tel Aviv group. The TA group is also about 8 people, but they are all informal, call each other up once a week or so, and meet or not as they feel. No results, no web site, no session reports. Tsk tsk.

Dvonn

Micahel +, Elijah –

The first game is Dvonn. Dvonn is one of the six games of the GIPF project, a modern project to create 6 quality abstract games whose pieces can be merged to form other games. The production value is very high, and the games are quite good for abstract games, if you like a high degree of chaos. They are all two player games.

Dvonn is the fourth game. In Dvonn, the board consists of an elongated hexagon with five rows. Each player has 23 pieces, and there are 3 red pieces. The pieces ae placed onto the board alternately. Each player may then move any piece, or stack of pieces whose top piece is their color, in a straight line exactly the number of spaces in the stack. The piece or stack must land on another stack.

As the moving progresses, the larger stacks become harder to move, but still easy to take over. There are a few other rules. One major one is that all pieces on the board must trace a path to a red piece. If they can’t, they are immediately removed from the board. The winner is the player whose remaining stacks, after no more moves are possible, contain the most pieces.

I suppose you have to play a number of times to understand how to play the second part of the game, moving the pieces, but essentially it comes down to who has the most pieces threatening the biggest stacks. The first part of the game, placing the pieces, will take much longer to grasp. I suppose you could form divisions to destroy whole sections of the board, or create more liberties for your pieces, but it seems highly unlikely to gain a huge advantage in this part.

Michael and Elijah arrived first, and played a quick game, with Michael ending victorious at some high number to 2.

Like other interesting abstracts, I would be pleased to play several games to see what is going on if I had a partner.

Attika

Avraham +, David K, Michael, Elijah

The second borrowed game is Attika, hailed as the second coming of Settlers of Catan, in that it is supposed to be relatively easy, and a resource building game, but still fun and replayable. I didn’t get to play, as you see, so I wouldn’t know.

In this game, you have a set of buildings to place onto a series of hexes containing resources. You can spend actions acquiring and placing buildings, or just placing buildings, or taking resources, or some combination. When placed in a certain order, the buildings are free. The object is to connect to locations on the board with a line of buildings, or to place all of your buildings.

Anyone who played care to comment?

Oasis

Saarya 197, Jon 193, Yitzchak 110

Oasis is the third game. This game is something like Torres as far as tile placement goes. There are 3 different types of tiles: oasis, steppes, and rock, as well as camels. You have four counters to indicate the territories you own, and then you add tiles to your area, or you place camels. There are also four different types of special tokens, corresponding to the land tiles and the camels. Your score is your land area or camels times the amount of tokens you have that correspond to each area. So if you have 8 steppes, and 4 special steppe tokens, you score 32 for your steppes.

So how do you acquire tiles and tokens? Each player has cards that signify tiles and tokens that another player can take from the bank if they fork over their special token indicating turn order. The cards are turned up at random, but you can choose whether to turn up 1, 2, or 3 cards. Then first player gives whomever turns up the best offer his first player token and takes the turned up cards from that player. Each card is worth 2 land tiles, or two tokens, etc… You may not buy your own turned up cards unless you have no choice. The second player follows suit, etc… Having the first player token at the end of a round gives you a free tile or camel.

This kind of thing makes the game somewhat random, but the slightly worse part is, as we expected, three player is somewhat rote bidding. What happens is that first player always offers only 1 card. Second and third player offer better cards. Generally, first player will take player 3’s offering, leaving player 2 no choice but to take player 1’s measly one card, and player 3 to take player 2’s more generous offering. Very occasionally player 1 will take player 2’s offering, giving player 2 a choice.

The game plays itself a bit, like Torres does from midgame onwards. However, for all that, I found the game amusing, like I find Torres amusing. Definitely worth a try with 4 or 5 players, instead of 3. Another negative of 3 players is that there is not much competition for space on the board.

I amassed a wealth of special steppe tokens (7), and built many steppes (15). Saarya snuck up on me with heavy oasis (9) and oasis special tokens (6), and 19 camels with spice tokens (camel specials – he had 5).

We left the game with me winning at 195, Saarya at 188, and Yitzchak at 110. After sitting down to write this session report, I am sad to say that every one of the scores was added incorrectly, and Saarya has emerged as the actual winner (bully for Saarya, sad for my math abilities).

Tikal

Avraham 107, David 100, Jon 93

Love teaching new games. First time players David and Avraham walked over me in this lovely and pretty game. I was playing dual games Tikal and Puerto Rico, so I misbid some early tiles and lost out on some healthy point growth. David took oodles of treasures, but Avraham took the top temples. I was slightly behind Avraham is both treasures and temples. Right before midgame scoring I was up some 20 points, but after the scoring Avraham was ahead of me 3 points. Seeing as how this means he was bound to make 20 points more than me at least two more times indicates how far I was behind. Catching up as much as I did says something, and the game ended much closer than I expected.

Settlers of Catan

Elijah 10, Michael 4, Saarya 3

Pathetic showing from Elijah’s opponents here. Elijah won with Largest Army, Longest Road, and at least 1 VP card.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 55, Jon, 54, Yitzchak 53

Changes: a) may move colonist onto Hospice when buying, b) University comes with colonist on it, c) Small Wharf instead of Large Warehouse.

Rachel was back, so we played her (only) favorite game. I played splitting my attention between PR and Tikal. Yitzchak had early Harbor, Rachel early Factory. I had tons of corn and coffee and a sm warehouse, so I just kept crafting. Unfortunately, sometimes you get distracted from the goal, and I took a Mayor midgame when I should have just kept crafting and shipping. Yitchak got lucky, filling in his two big buildings on the last round of play.

Rachel 54, Yitzchak 46, Saarya 42

Rachel has inherited the title of Queen of Puerto Rico, racking up yet another decisive victory.

Next week, see you in the coffee shop. I am trying to attract other game groups, such as the Go and Chess groups to join us.


Jan 19, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Yitzchak, Daniel, Elijah, Rachel A, Alberto

Alberto is a nice gentleman who called and came over to see what the club is all about. He has no history of gaming of any sort (not even bridge, etc…) He gamely sat through 3/4 of a game of Traumfabrik, and excused himself saying that this is not for him. He did want to learn bridge, however, so I pointed out a few locations he could learn, for which he was thankful.

Otherwise, I made a few rules errors this evening, so sue me.

Flink Pinke

Jon, Saarya, Daniel, Yitzchak

I thought I would try this ultra-simple Knizia game, but unfortunately I messed up the rules.

The game is supposed to be: a deck of 5 colors, numbered 0 to 6 in each, and 5 chips of each color in the middle. Each round you play a card and take any chip of any color. The game ends when the last card is played in one suit.

Unfortunately, I mistakenly thought: game ends when last chip taken in one color. As Daniel pointed out, first player will invariably win this way.

Even with the right rules, I can’t see much of a game here, but I would be willing to try it one more time.

Traumfabrik

Yitzchak 92, Saarya 56, Daniel 53, Elijah 40, Jon/Alberto 39

Here I made another major rules mistake. I forgot that a newly won item can be placed over another item of the same type so long as the movie isn’t yet complete. Ugh. Lack of this rule made several auctions near the end worthless for a number of players.

I again started out with the first major director (trying for most director stars), Daniel with first yellow movie, followed by Saarya with first green. I was going for best movie and best directors. Saarya again went for best actors. I won three of the auctions for best directors, but that killed me for almost any other auction, and I was rightfully dead last, completing only three poor movies. Saarya maintained a stranglehold on best actors throughout the game, gaining prime benefit from all of the parties.

Meanwhile, Yitzchak quietly built best movie (18) during the second season, and basically stole the game with 48 points from that movie alone (3 best movies (5,5,10), best green movie(10), and the 18 points from the movie).

Daniel found himself in the last season with 4 (yes, 4) passes to him for a block of chips that included 2 contracts, which he happily took for a bid of 1 (another rule mistake, you can bid 0?), netting him 2 completed movies for a gain of 1 contract. He also took in worst movie.

And BTW, I think we forgot to award best director, anyway.

Taj Mahal

Daniel 64, Jon 37, Saarya 30, Yitzchak 29, Elijah 18

Daniel continued his rousingly successful strategy of connecting provinces, scoring up to ten connections at the end of the game. Saarya was also connection oriented, but was thwarted too frequently. Daniel should have been thwarted more frequently, but the cards and play just didn’t work out that way, and I failed to attempt an 11th round thwart when I should have. I probably wouldn’t have won anyway, but it would have been much closer.

Meanwhile, Elijah, Yitzchak, and I went for commodities, but Elijah fought, and lost, almost every province, and Yitzchak was no match since he was to Elijah’s right, whereas I was to his left, and therefore benefitted more from his withdrawals.

Here is a scoresheet (* = withdrew without playing):

Round Daniel Saarya Yitzchak Elijah Jon
6 14 (4 connections) 7 16 (3 jewels) 6 11
7 17 10 16 6* 17
8 22 17 23 6 17*
9 25 19 23 7 23
10 31 21 23 10 25
11 43 21 23* 14 33
12 57 26 23* 14 33
Final 64 30 29 18 37

Geschenkt

Elijah 13, Jon 16, Yitzchak 43, Saarya 45, Daniel 57

Elijah only had a few minutes before he had to leave, so we played Geschenkt. Actually, I play this with two rules “incorrect” also: 1) that tokens are revealed, instead of hidden. No problem trying it that way a few times, but I doubt it will make much difference. It would matter only when you know you want to take a card, but don’t know whether to send it around again. 2) That the player after the one who takes a card starts bidding on the next card, instead of the player who won the card. I think the original rule is a terrible rule, and we even tried it once and thought it was a terrible rule. It means that if you run out of tokens, you eat every other card in the deck, which is just silly. I suppose it could mean that everyone will have to take cards more frequently, which could only make more randomness and less control. Yuck.

Elijah started with an early 16, followed by me with a 10, and Daniel with a (too) early 34. Daniel eventually saw a 35 and a 32, but no 33, and not enough tokens to make up for it. Saarya took a middle road and got a big mess, and Yitzchak had almost no tokens for most of the game, which made everyone else have to take cards with fewer tokens than they would have liked.

In the end, Elijah has two straights, all in the teens, which beat my two straights at 10 and 24.

Settlers of Catan

Daniel 10, Yitzchak 9, Saarya 7, Jon 7

The old adage: “Two people fight over longest road, third person win” was true here. Actually, three people fighting over it let Daniel walk away to victory.

He was the only one buying developement cards, and three at a time at that, since he got 4 sheep and 2 ore for each 6 rolled.

The most productive spot on the board: 8, 5, 10, wasn’t grabbed until my 2nd placement as 2nd player. I understand the first two settlements on brick, since brick was only 4, 11, and 3 in the game. But I really don’t know why it took until 7th settlement for that one. It was very nice for me too, being on wood and ore, when my first settlement was on sheep, wheat, and brick.

Saarya started off with an awful position, only 9, 10, and 11, but with some help got back in the running. At one point, he was so far behind that I traded him a sheep and brick for his brick, just to prevent him from trading with any of my opponents. A little wierd. Yitzchak lost the opportunity to win at least twice, as he was dividing his attention playing both SoC and San Jan at the same time.

In the meantime, Yitzchak pulled Longest Road first, when he forgot that he couldn’t place his settlement only one edge away from mine. Then, before he culd build, I swooped in three roads and plopped my settlement down on his road, stealing longest road. Eventually, Saarya took it, then Yitzchak again. Note that the three of us ended with 7 points each, and a longest road swapping around.

We kept track of dice rolls during the game:

Roll Count
2 1
3 1
4 5
5 1
6 11
7 1
8 11
9 3
10 4
11 4
12 1

Yes children, 7 was rolled only once, and at mid to late game. Nobody had to toss anything, but I did block an 8 for one round (4 wheats to Yitzchak, and 2 to Saarya).

San Juan

Yitzchak, Rachel

Rachel would have liked to play Puerto Rico, but Daniel won’t play it, so Yitzchak tried to divide his time between both SoC and SJ and lost SoC because of it. I don’t know the final outcome of SJ, but I believe Yitzchak won.

See you next week.


Jan 12, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Elijah, Daniel, Ben, Naomi

Welcome back Ben, who only comes occasionally, since Weds aren’t good for him. And welcome to Naomi, one of many who have called in recent weeks, but the first to actually make it, for half the evening, at least. Naomi has played the usual games, Cranium, etc.. but has also played Carcassonne. She hails from New Zeland.

Geschenkt

Ben 26, Saarya 30, Nadine 37, Jon 59, Elijah 74

We start off with a filler, waiting for Daniel. Ben’s first time, so of course he won. He seemed to enjoy his first game, although in subsequent games I think he started feeling the luck factor more.

Nadine 12, Daniel 14, Jon 17, Ben 23, Elijah 26, Saarya 43

Lovely little game, scales well to six. I gave each player 9 tokens, and took out only 8 cards. Still, I felt that it was pretty easy to pass up a dozen cards in a row without much loss of tokens, compared to 5 players.

Daniel 7, Nadine 20, Ben 47, Elijah 81

This game was played later in the evening, when Nadine and Elijah were just about on their way out. Obviously Ben’s luck has deteriorated by this point.

Taj Mahal

Jon 57, Saarya 51, Nadine 42

After the first two Geshenkt games, we split into two meaty games of three players each. This was one of them.

Taj Mahal is a difficult and wonderful game, with three, four, or five players. It seems to me, although less obvious to my opponents, that you have to withdraw without playing cards at least once or twice, or you just can’t expect to make headway.

I tried to keep better notes this game. Here is the progression:

Round Jon Nadine Saarya Notes
1 Elephants Yellow Orange, Green
2 Elephants Purple, Yellow Green, Blue Pretty obviously, I am heading towards commodities. Saarya decided to head for connections, since Daniel always takes that and wins. Nadine got the early yellow +2 card for an early point lead. She will also try fighting me for commodities, but it will be an uphill race by the time she gets started.
The first two provences were lower left.
3 Orange, Green, Elephants Purple Blue, Yellow Lower right
4 (early withdrawal) Yellow, Orange, Purple, Elephants Blue, Green Upper right
Scores –> 7 18 5 Nadine has a nice lead, but her hand is spent, and she does not have any cascading bonuses to keep up momentum, unlike me (commodities), and Saarya (connections). I am also building my hand for turns 6, 7 and 8.
5 (early withdrawal) – (lost) Orange, Green, Blue, Yellow, Elephants 5, 6 and 7 were all middle right, or lower right, i.e. surrounding provinces 3 and 4, which is good for Saarya.
6 Elephants, Orange Purple Blue, Yellow My hand is basically all green cards, two white cards and two orange cards. By obtaining the orange bonus card (play any color backed card), my entire hand is at my disposal. Unfortunately, I only keep this card for one round.
7 Yellow, Elephants Orange, Blue Purple Nadine can’t take my elephants, but takes my orange bonus card. The drawback of an elephant strategy is a lack of bonus cards.
8 Elephants, Yellow – (lost) Purple, Blue Upper middle left. I score 14 points this round from my taj mahal and commodities. Saarya has just about every province connected. One of the drawbacks of connecting is that you can’t affiord to withdraw early from any rounds.
Scores –> 34 26 27 Saarya had a lead until round 8.
9 (early withdrawal) Green Blue, Yellow Middle middle left (south of 8). I had the yellow card for one round, but didn’t get a chance to use it. I am down to one colored card, so I withdraw early for two more rounds, hoping to win the last two rounds with enough to keep me in the lead.
10 (early withdrawal) Green Elephants, Purple, Yellow Upper left (west of 8). Saarya needs one taj mahal desperately in province 11 to score enough to overtake me.
11 Elephants, Purple, Orange, Green Yellow, Blue – (lost) Middle left. Unfortunately for Saarya, I didn’t realize that Saarya only had one card left in his hand, and my first card cancelled his. He was forced to withdraw without his 11 points, leaving me about seven points ahead.
12 Purple Elephants, Green, Blue Orange I withdrew early, since I didn’t need the last commodities to keep in first. My hand and the 5 points from first taj mahal gave me enough lead.

The critical decision is: do I play a card that cancels my opponent’s card, thus possibly getting more and depriving him of more? If so, he may come back with a card since he will feel there is nothing to lose, and we enter a protracted battle, benefiting neither of us. Or, do I play so as to encourage my opponent’s withdrawal by letting him have one or two things, so long as he leaves me something in return?

Amun Re

Ben 38+, Daniel 38-, Elijah 35

A close game again, with another loss by pyramids. Ben complined very early on (turn one) that he was out of the running, no point playing, etc… For the record:

Round Daniel Elijah Ben
1 Mendes Thebes Kharga
2 Berenike Edfu Abydos
3 Memphis Damahar Baharya
Scores –> 18 21 9
Memphis now has 3.67 pyramids
4 Avaris Abydos Mendes
5 Amarna Berenike Baharya
6 Sarna Buto Memphis

And having secured Memphis, the other two tried their best, but could not beat the vast pyramid empire.

San Juan

Jon 42, Nadine 33

Played while waiting for Naomi to arrive. Saarya wanted to play Evo, and Nadine was even willing, but I wanted something shorter. Saarya didn’t want to play SJ, so Nadine and I played two player.

I built Coffee first turn, followed by Nadine’s Councelor, and my Production. Very unusually, prospector was not taken at all until late game, and only about twice the whole game. I dropped a lot of early production buildings, then tower, and ended up at one point with 18 cards in my hand before a build. I councelled as much a I could to get the six pointers, and ended with all three best ones. Nadine had Trading House and Aqueduct, but, again, too many low point count cards to catch up.

Settlers of Catan

Naomi 10, Saarya 6, Daniel 3

A first time player win in SoC is always a good thing. However, we were trying to show her how these are games of skill. Naomi started on both 6s (wheat and ore) and then half of the dice rolls in the game were 6s, sometimes 3, 4, or 5 rolls in a row. City, city, city. 4 development cards, soldier, soldier, soldier. That wraps up the last 6 rounds of the game.

Daniel started with a ridiculous brick port (off a 4) and brick on 8, 4, 3 (same 4), with no expansion room.

Abalone

Jon, Ben

While waiting for Rachel to get back from the store (she ended up forgetting that we were waiting), I introduced Ben to Abalone. After 4 marbles are off the board, it is pretty hard to do anything, but I snuck up on Ben in a corner and knocked his remaining marbles off on the turn before he would take out mine.

Boggle

Jon, Naomi, Daniel

We could have wrapped up with Geschenkt, but Naomi loves Boggle, and I haven’t played in so long, so I decided to bring it out. Man, we all felt really rusty, but eventually the ink started flowing.

Well, Naomi left and I forgot to get either phone or email, so I hope she calls back (after all, we let her win 🙂 ). See you next week.


Jan 05, 2005

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Rachel A, Nadine, Yitzchak, Daniel, Elijah

A nice evening to start the new year with.

Traumfabrik

Saarya 90, Jon 81, Elijah 65, Yitzchak 58

And we start the new year off with a first time play of Traumfabrik. Traumfabrik is one of the numerous Knizia auction games; he seems to have developed the definitive sense of how to do these right, and this one is done right. Like Ra (also Knizia) and many other new auction games, the basic system is always: tiles flipped up in groups, worth differing amounts to each player as the game progresses, earlier rounds score less than later rounds but are crucial to building a good base, and the tokens used to bid with are recycled back into play and worth points in their own right.

This is probably his most themed straight up auction game, and you can sense how much he must have loved the theme: classic Hollywood movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

In this game, we all play Hollywood studios bidding with “contracts” to acquire directors, actors, photography shops, effects shops, etc… in order to make movies. Each movie requires certain slots filled (e.g. King Kong requires effects, but doesn’t really require star actors, whereas some other movie might require actors but no effects). When a movie is completed, you get point counts for the movie equal to the star quality of its components. Each time you finish a movie, you get the opportunity to make more.

So you want to make movies quickly, which means getting lots of tiles. Unfortunately, they may not all fit in your slots, and if you get a lot of tiles, the movie will probably be worth less than getting only one or two of the better star quality tiles. Every time you win an auction, you pay for it with “contracts”. These contracts are divided among the other studios, so they gain more power to your loss. However, unlike the Goa auction, control doesn’t only pass back and forth. Eventually, even if you are losing a lot of auctions, you will be able to win, since you are gaining tithe from every other auction.

Complicating matters are: points awarded for best movie each year, points for first in any of three categories, points for best movie in the three categories, points for best directors of completed movies, first pick of better tiles during biannual Hollywood parties if you have the best actor population, and last, points for worst movie ever made.

All in all, after spending some time figuring it all out, it was a lot of fun. However, like Ra, I’m not sure how long it will keep entertaining. Since I’m still enjoying Ra and Geschenkt, even after some time, probably for a good while. Not top tier, but not everything can be, can it?

I started with my eye on best movie and best directors, which meant I produced fewer movies altogether. Saarya quickly took control of the best actor population, which scored him better choice of other movie components (tiles) at the Hollywod parties. Yitzchak had first movie, and then beat me out to worst movie, only to be trumped later by Elijah. In the end, Saarya’s good across the board movie making, and best movie in at least one category earned him victory.

San Juan

Daniel 45, Nadine 40

Meanwhile, Daniel coopted Nadine into a parallel San Juan game. Daniel ended with two monuments, Chapel with 11 cards, Trimuphal Arch and Palace. Nadine had 3 monuments, Triumphal Arch and City Hall, but City Hall couldn’t beat the fully stocked Chapel.

Rachel 37, Yitzchak 36

A later game of SJ saw Rachel with the win over Yitzchak. No further info on this one.

Geschenkt

Saarya 29, Daniel 57, Nadine 77

Daniel then coopted both Saarya and Nadine into a Geschenkt game, giving Saarya split attention across two games. At the end of this one, Saarya had 5,30-33, Daniel 6-11,21,35, and Nadine 3-4,12-13,15-17,19-20,24,26 . As noticed in several other games, with a bit of luck, high cards can be a good path to victory.

Puerto Rico

Yitzchak 64, Rachel 63, Saarya 58

Parallel to the Tikal game, Rachel came up for her usual PR fix. They played totally straight PR, not even fixes to the buildings. I don’t know what happened, but I know that Harbors were bought early, followed by both Wharves and Factories. Yitzchak has Hospice and Hacienda. In the end, he won by utilizing the combo, which can happen with a liesurely game, which must have been the case, give the high scores.

Tikal

Jon 112, Daniel 94, Elijah/Saarya 88, Nadine 86

Elijah had to go in the middle, so Saarya reluctantly took over. I already had a slight early lead, and this solidified with excessive bidding (IMHO) by other players for tile placement. My analysis is that it is not how many points you can make placing the tile, but how many more you can make placing the tile versus placing a different one (factoring in a number of other items, such as wrecking someone else’s path (almost impossible), taking additional actions before a volcano is placed (critical), access to treasures). With the exception of making sure you play before a volcano, I don’t bid too much. That would change with less players and if someone was running away with treasure points.

My win in this game was also due to placing my tiles in a way that effectively made my areas of the board difficult for others to reach. Daniel ended up doing something similar later on, but by then he had bid himself and/or slipped too far back.

The auction version is definitely better than the random flip version. One thing that bothered us with four player, more so than three or two (although it came up then, too), was that there was simply nothing to do for many of the action points on the last round, or even two or three. I suspect that this either means that we are playing something wrong or that something needs to be tweaked.

July to December 2004

Dec 29, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Tal, Rachel A, Yitzchak, David K, Elijah, Daniel, Nadine, Shlomo, Yedidya

Yedidya is another in a series of people who called wanting to know what the game group was about. Only he actually showed up. But it turns out he didn’t really get what he wanted, or so it seemed. After explaining the game of Amun Re to him and into the middle of the first round, he suddenly remembered he had to go somewhere and couldn’t really come on Wednesdays, but could I forward him info on any chess groups in Jerusalem?

Amun Re

Shlomo 42, Daniel 39, Yitzchak 36, David K 36, Elijah 32

Shlomo Argamon flew in for his semi-annual visit and dropped by, so he sat in after Yedidya. He came late, and was supposed to join our Tikal game, but since we had already started, he played Amun Re instead. This started another round of explanations, as he also never had played Amun Re, although he had played other games in our group before. By the time they got started, it was about 7:30 or so, and the first three rounds didn’t end until 9:30. More on that later.

The last three rounds went much quicker. David K was sorely behind. Elijah got at least 35 gold after the third round’s farming, but spent a lot on the next auction. By the end, Shlomo the pyramid builder claimed a narrow victory.

Tikal

Jon 145, Saarya 130, Tal 105

We waited for Shlomo to start this, but when he said he would be late, we started without him. I mercilessly beat my 13 year old son and 11 year old daughter.

Tal requsted to play, as she is always looking for another game like Settlers of Catan that she can enjoy with me and/or her friends. She was definitely quite capable here, playing fine for her first game. Unfortunately for them, they both fought over an early 9 point temple (eventually 10 point), neither one wanting to sacrifice their tokens to guard it, but, in effect, doing so. I collected the most treasures, and spread out among several lesser temples, pulling a comfortable victory.

Saarya had originally wanted to play Torres, so I will have to find some time to play that with him.

I had recently read both New Rules for Classic Games and A Gamut of Games, which made me want to play something from them. Also, I have a hankering to try out more games that the entire group can play, instead of always splitting into two or more games. Towards the end of Tikal, I decided to make up a set of Haggle, using some old playing cards and wirting out a set of random rules. Haggle is described in both books.

Haggle is a game where two or three rulesets are created, and each player, other than the rule creator, gets a set of cards and two rules from the set. The rules are on the order of: “diamonds are worth 4 points each, unless you have six or more, in which case they are worth 3 points each”, etc… Each player must trade cards and/or rules in order to both discover and collect the best hand. At the end of a preset time, such as ten minutes, each player hands in their cards and is scored. It sounds like a lot of fun, and should work well with any size large group.

Unfortunately for me, by the time our Tikal game was ended, they had just finished round three in Amun Re (you were wondering when I was going to get back to this, weren’t you?). I proposed a break in Amun Re for a game of Haggle, but Yitzchak was adamant about finishing one damn game this evening before going home (while David K wanted to quit). Unfortunately for me (even more), this left me without any play partners.

TCP 4

Tal (won), Jon, Saarya

Luckily for me, Tal and Saarya were both willing to play a short game with me while we waited for them to speed up. I inflicted on them yet another in my series of games played with three colored pegs: red, yellow and blue. The theme behind all of the games is that the pegs combine to make other colors (red/yellow => orange, etc…).

In this game, played on a 4 x 4 grid, there is a shared pile of 16 of each colored peg. Each player is dealt a card with one of the three secondary colors (orange, green, purple) which he keeps secret. Each player then takes a peg of his choice and places it on the board, such that he doesn’t put the same colored peg into the same location. You win when either a) anyone creates three in a row of your color, or b) you place a piece such that it forms three browns in a row (brown = all three colors).

I was hoping that the secret of who was playing which color would hinder the usual problem of three player abstracts, which is always being able to block what the third player is doing. Unfortunately, it was rather easy to guess early on who was what, so it didn’t really work out. Still, the game was guaranteed to terminate by someone winning in brown. Except that I carelessly let Tal win three in a row in her color, as I was distracted. Back to the drawing board.

Puerto Rico + expansions

David K 47, Rachel A 46, Jon 42, Nadine 36

Since David K wasn’t interested in the end of the Amun Re game, he shuttled back and forth between the last moves of Amun Re and the first moves of PR.

This PR game was almost completely expansion buildings. The only buildings we didn’t toss were Hacienda, Wharf, and City Hall. The other buildings:

  • Assembly Line (1/1): all production buildings hold additional colonist. Nadine bought this thinking it wasn’t too useful (?), but both she and Rachel made reasonably good use out of it.
  • Civil Office (2/1): Choose one phase. Get double privilege for that phase when you pick it. I took this as my first building and chose Builder. David took it and chose Settler, because he found the killer combo with Soybeans (see next building). BTW, the double privilege is like Library’s privilege.
  • Soybean Plant (3/1): Pick a soybean plantation. Soybean is like corn, but if there is no soybean space to ship, ship on corn and/or sugar boats for 1/2 point each. In addition, other players can ship corn or sugar on soybean boat for 1/2 point each. This is a complex building, maybe a bit powerful (as you get, effectively, a corn each round) but it needs to be combined with something else. David K comboed this with Civil Office, and ended up with 4 quarries and 5 soybeans.
  • Mayor’s Estate (4/2): +1 colonist during Mayor phase. Simple and clean, I could have used it, but didn’t take it.
  • Inheritance (5/2): Take the corresponding plantation when buying a production building. Cute, but a little expensive.
  • Exchange House (5/2): Swap (not trade) one of your barrels with one in the trading house at the end of the Trader phase. This is one of my best buildings. In some games it doesn’t do very much. In others, it is a powerhouse. This was one of the latter games. Rachel bought Coffee, but I just swapped for it, and traded it every time I needed to, which shut her coffe down. To add insult to injury, in later rounds I swapped for goods to ship (only once, actually). A wonderful and simple building which completely adds a new dimention to the game, without dominating it (most of the time).
  • Specialization Wharf (6/2): When crafting, place one of your barrels into SW. You have Wharf for that good, only. Barrel no longer considered one of your goods. This is another fairly well designed building – you lose one barrel, and you lose flexibility. Again, in this game it was more poweful than usual, in that David K had 5 soybeans to ship each round. Nadine also made good use of it.
  • Supermarket (7/3): trade at +3. Another simple building, better than Large Market, almost as good as Factory. With Exchange House it shines, since I could almost always trade.
  • Large Business (8/3): Builder and Captain privileges. A better balanced building than Harbor, which is a bit powerful in 3 player, in my opinion.
  • Royal Market (8/3): take vp’s instead of gp’s for your trade. A strange building, which is worth buying after the big buildings are gone, as it then becomes the most efficient means of vps for gps. Until then, however, you are better off saving them.

There were also 4 various large buildings, which were interesting. As I said, David K worked hard with his Civil Office (Settler) and Soybean combo, while I went for big cash and building power. Nadine got indigo and Spec Wharf, while Rachel got coffee and then Large Business. At the end, Nadine and Rachel were right in that I have an advantage having created the buildings in that I know exactly how the rules work. David K said that playing with expansions is much better than playing straight, and I can’t argue with that.

Geschenkt

Saarya 43, Yitzchak 58, Daniel 114

Daniel and I love Geschenkt, but I recognize that not everyone likes everything, and this one didn’t hit it off with Yitzchak. There was not much time was left before Yitzchak had to leave. Still he tried it, and said that there was still enough time for one game of …

San Juan

Yitzchak 37, Daniel 26, Saarya 26

This game sure seems like it should be growing stale, but it doesn’t. It seems like it gets better each time we play (slowly, but surely). It can’t get too much better – until the expansion sets get released, that is. And there better be, because this just screams expansion buildings.

Daniel once again had the hand full of 6 pointers in the opening, but Yitzchak built the solid city by game end. Didn’t see the final buildings.

There was a bit too much running around, shouting, and chaos in general this time. I hope things run smoother next time.


Dec 22, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Daniel, Yitzchak, David K, Elijah, Shai-El

This week: I started trying to write my blog again. I’m going to try to write a few times a week, even silly stuff, just to keep my hand in.

This week I received 2 great books: A Gamut of Games, by Sid Sackson and New Rules for Classic Games by R Wayne Schmittberger. Both are so full of great game ideas that use simple components, that it’s a wonder I spent my childhood playing boring games like Gin rummy and Stratego. I feel like I could teach a game course now. Inspirational.

Also been playing many games of PR on puertoricogame.net, an email slow PR game site, that lets you think or break between moves, as opposed to the real-time game sites, such as brettspielwelt.de .

Torres

David K 204, Saarya 202, Jon 199

We all knew that David K would be the one to love this game, and also be the one not to play with, as almost every move he spent in deep concentration trying to maximize every last point (with a lot of “Sorry”‘s for taking so long), followed by ten minutes (or more) of kicking himself for making some real or imagined sub-optimal play. When it all came down to it, while we had fun, we were all so close in score that one wonders where the difference comes from, as we all see, basically, the optimal plays each time, give or take a self-kick or two.

In the end, David didn’t take unbearably long. This was also first game for Saarya.

In this game, Saarya started off with the king near him (and me), and David had to traipse across the board to get the bonus. I started with my usual jump up, followed by placing a piece under my kniight. David pointed out that the better cards are probably best left until the end, since point counting at the beginning is not much compared to at the end, anyway. He’s probably right.

David ended the first round a few points behind, leaving the King where it was, which caused me no end of headaches, and required 5 actions on my part to get the next bonus, not including a diagonal jump card. By the end of the second round, we were all within one point of each other. That’s when David’s position as high point on the biggest castle took him into a slight lead which he carried over for the slight win at the end of the game.

Geschenkt

Saarya 46, Jon 59,David K 69

Another first game for David, and very quick. This one is still a lot of fun, primarily because there is no perfect optimal play. The luck gives you only a best chance. Even when you know what cards are removed, you only get best chance of the cards you need coming up when the tokens are in the right place, and when other players can’t benefit from the same card.

Here I tried for an early high card, but only got a run of two, which wasn’t enough to match Saarya’s several pulls into two runs and many stones.

Jon 62,David K 80,Saarya 129

In this one, Saarya found himself without stones time after time, as David kept taking the following card, forcing him to take the next one without stones again. Finally Saarya took the one card David needed to meld two runs, which didn’t help Saarya, but put me into first place.

San Juan

Yitzchak 37, Nadine 35, Daniel 27, Elijah 25

Played while we were finishing Torres, and then Geschenkt. Four player is quite different than 3 or 2. Daniel decided on a heavy Chapel strategy, building one the first round, and placing every turn. He ended up with 14 points from Chapel cards alone, but not enough anything else. He complained that he never saw a 6 point building, to which I noted that his field wasn’t developed enough to cycle through cards, so his odds of picking one were reduced. That’s why first round Chapel doesn’t work so well. As usual, the game came down to Guild Hall vs City Hall, and Guild Hall won out.

Yitzchak 31, Daniel 30, Shai-El 26

Shai-El was brought over late in the evening by Yitzchak. I explained to him about some of what we play, and while I was finishing Tikal, he played a game of San Juan as his first intro to German games, and he liked it. In this game, Daniel drew one of each of the 4 6 pointers all at once, and then built City Hall and promptly pulled the next Guild Hall. Shai-El managed to get down City Hall and Palace, leaving poor Yitzchak with only Triumphal Arch. But, when the points were counted, Yitzchak’s many Silvers and monuments won the day for him, as Daniel and Shai-El had built too many low cost buildings.

Taj Mahal

Daniel 88, Yitzchak 51, Elijah 45

We split to play 3 player Taj Mahal and Tikal. I feared that Tikal might be too much for Elijah, and since Daniel and Yitzchak both wanted to play it, and Nadine wanted Tikal, off they went. Daniel continued his run for palace connections (definitely easier in 3 player than in 5 player), and succeeded in connecting every province except the first, in which he withdrew without bidding. Yitzchak had lots of elephants, but couldn’t translate that into victory.

Tikal

Saarya 122, Nadine 122, Jon 114

First play for all of us. I feared that if Torres were too much analysis, then Tikal would be worse, since a) that’s what they say, and b) it has twice as many action points, and twice as many actions. To my pleasant surprise, it was not the case, since the higher randomness of the tiles , treasures, and number of possible good plays made it unlikely that there was an optimal play, so we just did what seeemd best, except when we wanted to steal something.

The treasures were a real pain, since no sooner did you discover one, that someone else swapped you for the one they wanted and dumped you with something uninteresting. All around, Tikal had a better theme, better graphics and components, and better gameplay than Torres. And we played with the non-auction version. All of us knew instinctively that the auction version is going to be ten times better.

The first scoring round saw us all at about 7-10 points. Saarya quickly got the 10 point temple sowed up, and Nadine established a base camp, after collecting set after set of treasures. (Why do all game designers play with this 1,3,6 rule?) By second round, Nadine was at 30, Saarya at 40, and I at 34. Saarya looked like he was headed for victory. Still, he had little in the way of treasures, and Nadine’s hand just grew, until she had 3 complete sets and some oddballs. I think it is a problem that treasure hexes only have up to 4 treasures, but you can take up to two per round. One per round might work better. Also curious tha they put the larger treasure hexes up front, and the smaller ones later.

By third score, I had the 9 temple and was working in two opposite corners, and Nadine finally grabbed a series of 6 point temples. Scores were Nadine 74, Saarya 7, me 68. Nadine wasn’t paying too much attention, since she didn’t know what tiles she would get, there was not much she could do to plan, and there is no interaction during other player’s turns (we could probably fix that, too 🙂 … ok, we’ll wait a while before messing with the game).

Last score brought Saarya to 121, Nadine to 120, and me to 114. However, we recounted and got a different result. Then we did it again and got another different result. This went on for some time, with different results each time, so even though we think we got the right result finally, odds are that we miscounted somewhere else along the way, so final scores are highly questionable, and it ended on a tie, anyway.

Definitely hoping to play this one again, with four players, and considering it with two, also.


Dec 15, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Rachel A

I received 4 new games for Hannukah: Torres, Tikal, Traumfabrik, and Abalone. (I also bought Battle Cry for my son which should arrive at the end of the month). I have a little trepidation, as the first two tend to bog down with over-analyzers, which is what we have. If things get bad, I will have to force time limits, which will just make the game unenjoyable for those people who simply MUST always make the best move, even if it means taking back a move finished five minutes ago.

Torres

Jon 224, Yitzchak 214, Nadine 212

We only got to one of the new games this week. Torres has a basic theme about rebuilding castles, but it is basically an abstract game. You have 5 points each round within which to do any of the following in any combination: place a castle piece, place a knight, move a knight, buy a card, or buy a vp. Cards are played once per round, for free, and are always worth at least the action paid to get them.

Naturally, you always need just a few more action points than you have.

I had a two game advantage over Yitzchak and Nadine, but they figured it out fairly quickly, Yitzchak a little more than Nadine, who seemed more to psyche herself out that it is the type of game she shouldn’t get. As you can see, the final scores were very close, and Yitzchak just pulled ahead of Nadine in the final round.

Yitz’s last two rounds were spent trying to ensure that I didn’t get the king’s bonus, which succeded, but not enough.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Yitzchak 54, Jon 46, Nadine 43, Rachel 37

A very interesting game with some wild expansion buildings. The building set was:

  • Small Market
  • Surveyor’s Office
    Choose any plantation from the supply instead of a face up one.
  • Bazaar
    Trade anything for a colonist during Mayor, anything for a good during Crafstman, anything for a GP during Trader.
  • Small Warehouse
  • Mine
    pay 1 less per building (no restrictions)
  • Exchange House
    At the end of Trader, swap one of your goods for one in Trading House (no restrictions)
  • Developer
    Like Crane in San Juan, may trade buildings in and rduce the cost of a new building. Colonists from old buildings move to new ones. Also, you have no quarry restrictions.
  • Specialization Wharf
    Place one of your goods on SW at the end of the Craftsman phase, discarding the good on it if any. You have a Wharf of the type of good on SW.
  • Marble Works
    Take Marble quarry. 2 marble quarries and 2 colonists on MW make 1 marble during Craftsman. Marble sells for 5, ships with any other good for 2, and doesn’t need to be stored.
  • Library
  • Harbor
  • Wharf
  • Guild Hall
  • Fortress
  • Custom’s House
  • Assembally (5 VP)
    +1 VP/round
  • Giant Production Building (5 VP)
    +1 of each type of good you produce

With such strange and diverse buildings, strange and diverse strategies ensued.

Rachel went for a round four Giant Production Building, followed by a Small Warehouse. She didn’t get too much out of it until a few rounds later, unfortunately. She also didn’t get Harbor, and a late Specialization Wharf only let her ship 6 goods.

Yitzchak got many corns, a coffee monopoly, harbor, and Specialization Wharf, followed up with Custom’s House. An easy win.

Nadine got an early Tobacco and Harbor, but no big building until a too late Assembally.

I don’t know why, but I got 4 early quarries, Mine, and Developer. Unfortunately the colonist requirements for all of this made me unable to produce anything, so I never had a good to trade, which made others almost as rich as me until late game, plus they were shipping. It was just too slow to get the 3 big buildings I wanted, so I only ended with 2. Argh. I shipped 5 VP, and had 41 in building points. Not enough to chase Yitzchak who had 28 shipping VP +7 CH bonus, to add to his other 19 building points. At the end I was taking buildings for free but wasting my bonuses on them. And everyone else was hapy to ship.

Still boggles the mind that our group is (almost) the only group that plays with these buildings. See you next week!


Dec 08, 2004

Participants: Jon, Elijah, Daniel, Nadine, Rachel A, Tal
Happy Channukah. I made potato latkes, and Nadine brought brownies (thank you – yum).

Through the Desert

Jon 81, Elijah 7?, Daniel 65

Once again, Through the Desert proved to be an interesting game, but not a spectacular game. I am growing disenchanted with it. Which is a shame, because I still enjoy playing it, but others don’t see the shine.

Geschenkt

This is a simple auction game, where the objects you are acquiring are bad, so you are bidding to prevent yourself from getting them. Each round a card is flipped up, and you either take the card or toss in a token to give the next player the same choice. When you take the card, you also take all tossed in tokens. Your score is the face value of the cards minus your tokens at the end, and points are bad. Also, runs of card only score the lowest card. To keep you on your toes, 9 cards are tossed out at random to start from a set of cards numbered 3 to 35. Each player starts with 11 tokens.

This is a very nice bidding game, which feels like Ra-lite, even though Ra itself is a lite game. Strategy is not that deep, however, so it may not hold interest for too long.

Jon 34, Daniel 43, Elijah 94

The beauty of new German games that are really really simple, is not that they are easy to teach and fun to play. It is that they can be created from components I have lying around the house. To create the deck, I used the Flinch cards that I had previously cannabalized to make 6 Nimmt (Take 6), and took out the 3 through 35. For markers, I first used the camels from TtD, and later Othello pieces.

The first game, I used cards 3 – 33 by accident, instead of to 35, and I played that the first bidder in each card was to the left of the player who bid first on the previous round, which was hard to keep track of, and wrong, anyway.

Daniel 26, Elijah 63, Jon 66

In this game, we started each auction off correctly, but we still played only with cards to 33.

Daniel 30, Elijah 31, Jon 75

Played correctly this time. Elijah didn’t want to play again. Daniel liked it.

Nadine 3, Jon 68, Daniel 86

Nadine 31, Jon 60, Daniel 62

These two games were played to close the evening.

6 Nimmt

Jon 49, Daniel 53, Elijah 55

Since I had the cards out, I showed Daniel and Elijah 6 Nimmt. This was the closest game we even played of 6 Nimmt. We had stopped playing a while ago because there is not much in the way of strategy, but with 3 players it is not too bad. Nothing special.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 39 + 2 (6 ship + 33 build), Rachel 39 + 1 (10 ship + 29 build), Jon 33 (11 ship + 22 build), Daniel 24 (10 ship + 14 build), Elijah 24 (15 ship + 9 build)

This was a wierd game. We dragged Daniel kicking and screaming into trying it again, since he hates PR due to there being too many rules and too many choices each round, and he complained the whole time, but he did finish the game.

The rule changes were: Hospice lets you move a colonist onto it when you buy it, Trading Post instead of Office, Large Waehouse lets you take any one barrel for free when you buy it, University comes with a colonist on it.

Rachel ended up buying an early Hospice and Construction Hut. I ended up buying a large warehouse. Notable facts:

  • The seating order was me, Daniel, Elijah, Nadine, and Rachel, which Rachel and Nadine carefully constructed, since they knew that Elijah was somewhat careless about his crafting and they wanted to take advantage of this. When women conspire …
  • Daniel also didn’t try to figure it out, so ended up doing lots of crafting into Nadine and Rachel. Between the two of them, I couldn’t trade the coffee I began producing on turn 4 or so once the entire game. Not once.
  • Instead, I had to buy the large warehouse, just to get a tobacco to trade with it, which was the only good that I couldn’t produce, and ended up being the only good I traded the whole game. The Lg Warehouse gave me some VP’s, but just shy of the amount I would have gotten if I had just gotten a large building as I could have at the time.
  • If I had gotten it, I still wouldn’t have won, but Nadine’s victory would have been more decisive, as Rachel wouldn’t have gotten it (it was left unmanned when the game ended).
  • As you can see, there was very little in the way of shipping this game. I had Factory and 4 goods, Elijah built nothing but tobacco and lg indigo for the entire game, until building harbor on the last round, Nadine also had Factory and coffee, but she was able to trade it, Rachel had tobacco and sugar to trade.

Settlers of Catan

Daniel 10, Tal 6, Elijah 4

From what I heard, Daniel played a powerful wood monopoly, which basically ended the game shortly thereafter.

San Juan

Jon 57, Nadine 48

This was a fairly long game for us, and I couldn’t get many 6 point buildings, despite having early Prefecture and Library. I eventually found them. Nadine played too many early little buildings. I had a Chapel with 10 cards under it by game end. The gory details:

Governor Roles Jon build Nadine build Trade value
Jon Build/Pros/Coun Prefecture Gold Mine
Nadine Build/Pros/Counc Carpenter
Jon Build/Pros/Prod Tobacco
Nadine Pros/Trad/Counc 11122
Jon Build/Prod/Counc Quarry Market Hall
Nadine Pros/Build/Trad Library 12233
Jon Counc/Build/Pros+ Chapel Quarry
Nadine Pros/Counc+/Build Statue Indigo
Jon Pros+/Prod/Counc
Nadine Trad/Build+/Prod City Hall City Hall 11223
Jon Counc/Pros/Trad 12223
Nadine Trad/Counc+/Build Hero Palace 11222
Jon Prosp+/Prod/Counc
Nadine Trad/Build+/Prod Victory Column Hero 11122
Jon Counc/Build/Pros+ Triumphal Arch
Nadine Prod/Build+/Trad Palace Statue 12233
Jon Build+ Aqueduct Victory Column

Dec 01, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Rachel A, David K, Elijah, Michael, Nadine, Yitzchak, Daniel, Jonathan

A good hopping night. I also got a call from someone new at 6:30 who said he would come for the 9:00 game, but didn’t show. Welcome to Jonathan, who had played El Grande once with us on shabbat, and was awake enough tonight to try out the full group.

You guys aren’t bringing snacks like you’re supposed to. That’s not too much to ask for an admission price, and I’m happy to serve the tea. Please bring something with you, next time!

San Juan

David K, Elijah

Both of the above came a bit early, so they played around with this for a while, but ended when the main games started.

Jon 46, David K 31

Toward the end of the evening, we played a game of this after I got my usual whipping in M:tG, and David was nice enough to let me win, as he Councelled dozens of times through the deck with Library and only found one 6 point building, Guild Hall. It wasn’t enough to take on me with City Hall, Palace, 2 monuments and Chapel.

His early Prefecure was balanced against my early Library, which two dominated the game play. We think my Library had the edge. However, David K could have played better, as every time he took Councellor, he left Builder and Prospector for me, which made my life easy.

Settlers of Catan

Daniel 10, Elijah 7, Nadine 6, Jonathan 5

Best game for introduing new folk (at least, until we try Ticket to Ride). The game took a while, and looked quite spirited, but I don’t know exacly what happened.

Goa

David K 43, Jon 31, Saarya 26, Yitzchak 24

I decided to try Goa one more time, as opinion last time was that without the random Colony founding it plays better. OK, yes it does. I still hate it. I can no longer say why, exactly.

David K got bad luck with the expedition card drawing, and still killed us during one auction where he won everything but one plantation. And the end of the game, where he had 8 expedition cards (4, 3, and 1) – even without them, he still would have won. But the luck factor of the caards, plus the strength of the card track still bugs me. Without that track, se out on a quarter of the possible points of the game, so you have to go for it, and not everyone can get it. Still, that is not the problem.

Maybe it’s the hopeless feeling in the auction, maybe it’s the complete lack of interaction (yeah, some resources get exhausted, and yeah, somebody races (if you can call a turtle’s pace “racing”) for the progression, but … blah. Too bad. I would really like to like it, and I’m happy that others in the group like it. If Daniel can not like PR, I can not like Goa.

David K started off doing everything wrong (in his words), and had bad luck with expedition cards. But, because of one killer auction round, and the fact that he got to last row in the expedition cards and then swapped for the expedition card tile, he won easily.

Amun Re

Yitzchak 47, Daniel 38+, Saarya 38-

From last in Goa to first in Amun Re, Yitzchak already had this sealed after the first round, I think. One comment I heard was that 3 player, unlike 5 player, was harder to match the bonus cards, since it was possible that the required provinces simply didn’t turn up. Daniel’s 38 included more pyramids, so he claimed second place on the tie.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 63, Rachel A 57, Michael 42, Elijah 30

Rachel told me that Elijah kept Crafting right into Nadine’s hands, allowing her to trade and/or ship (35 shipping points) with impunity. They played with a number of my expansion buildings.

Jon +, Rachel A – At the very end of the evening, we had a quick two player using the same buildings. A dull game, but a quick victory.

Magic: the Gathering

David K 2 games, Jon 0

I don’t know why I bother. The last game David won from down to 6 life to my 20. We played Rochester draft.

Next week is Channaukah, and we will play as usual for those interested.


Nov 24, 2004

Participants: Jon, Daniel, Elijah, Nadine, Yitzchak, Saarya (1/2)

We miss Sharon.

San Juan

Twice we started San Juan games, only to break them off in favor of other games and gamers waiting.

El Grande

Elijah 82, Jon 82, Daniel 82, Nadine 80, Yitzchak 77

I prefer the original El Grande, in general, and we had two new players, Daniel and Elijah. From the first day that Daniel came here and professed his love for controlled chaotic games, I knew that he would love El Grande, and he did. In fact, both newcomers were tied for first place in a very close game.

Nadine, Daniel and Elijah all had spiky period, gaining 20 points at a time, while I had sustained growth, to take a lead midway by a few points, but couldn’t quite sustain my lead. The final count was nailbiting, and it ended in a three way tie.

Settlers of Catan

Daniel 10, Jon 6, Yitzchak 5

Settlers is quick and mostly painless. My usual turn is roll *clatter* *clatter* flip flip “Go”, in about 5 seconds total. I got a slew of ores from an early series of 11’s, but got robbed over and over so that was that. Daniel continued his “start on a harbor” strategy, with a sheep harbor and an 8/10 sheep. He somehow purveyed this into 6 points, longest road and two VP cards. I also drew a VP card (three of first four cards were VP’s), but was otherwise way behind (not enough wheat).

Still waiting for new games to arrive. Sigh.


Nov 17, 2004

Participants: Jon, Rachel A, Daniel, Nadine, Sharon, Elijah, Michael, David K, Avraham, Yitzchak

A good game night, but a sad day for the JSGC, as we say goodbye to Sharon, leaving for Chapel Hill. I have already given her some info about game groups over there, so I hope she hooks up. We’ll miss you! I made a little cake for the occasion.

Also, welcome back David K and Avraham K after a long absence, and congradulations to Avraham for graduating army service. Hope to see you both more often. Also, welcome back to Michael, Elijah’s father, whose only previous appearance was game day, Sukkot.

Taj Mahal

Jon 58, Daniel 55, Sharon 32, Elijah/Michael 30

This was an exciting game, although it looked like Jon pulled out ahead very quickly, Daniel did a lot of closing the gap. Jon collected so many commodities that he just concentrated on them, gaining 10 points from his elephants on the last round. Meanwhile, Daniel concentrated on links, gaining 10 points from them on his last round (ten connected provinces). Unfortunately for him, Elijah took the first withdrawal in the last round and the four point token. If Daniel had played the right card to stay in, he would have gotten all of the castles and the token, and would have won by a point.

Daniel expressed his great happiness about the game.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Jon more, Rachel slightly less

While 4 people were playing Goa and another four playing SoC, Rachel and Jon played a quick two player game of PR with expansions. Jon started first, with a strong disadvantage of 4 or more VP’s from defensive captaining. Nevertheless, he quickly produced 4 corn and 3 indigo.

Also, taking coffee to fight Rachel instead of tobacco helped. In the end, Jon grabbed Guild Hall, and shipped about the same as Rachel, while Rachel took a building to prevent Jon from getting it (bonus per corn plantation), and lost on the point differential, basically.

Settlers of Catan

Elijah 10, Michael 9, Sharon 6, Daniel 6

Didn’t see this one, but at one point I heard Daniel say he had 11 sheep in his hand and a sheep harbor. At another point, Sharon complained about some alleged ganging up.

Goa

Yitzchak 46, Nadine 43, David 41, Avraham 35

We haven’t done a lot of Goa, mostly because I complained about it. But Yitzchak and Nadine were willing to give it another try, since David K loves it, and Avraham hadn’t tried it. I gave them two ideas to help fix the game in my opinion: 1) no flipping for colonists, just add 4 to your attempt (also, taking a colonist is an action). 2) when picking cards, draw 2, and keep 1.

After consideration, they decided to go with 1), and not go with 2). I guess there was o horrible card picking like when I play, and they decided that it makes the card track even stronger which is a Bad Thing. On the other hand, they liked the no flipping for colonies. The impression on Nadine was mixed(?), but Yitzchak had a very enjoyable game after the previous blah experiences. In my opinion, 3 player is a broken auction. 4 player can be broken auction, but doesn’t have to be (it wasn’t in this game, I gather). 2 player auction is fine. Then there is the lack of interactions. I think something like AoS bidding for special abilities could help that.

Nadine: The main problem with Goa, other than that I’m not so good at bidding because I can’t keep track of how much money people have – but that’s not a game problem, is the down time while waiting for other people to take their turns. There is nothing to do, you don’t even need to watch because what other players are doing isn’t critical to your plans like it is in games such as Puerto Rico. This is especially annoying when someone has several extra actions. It’s bad enough that they get the bonus of extra actions without the additional penalty of boredom for the other players. Maybe limiting extra action cards per round would be good, it would also prevent saving them, which I did because it was too hard to figure out in advance what I wanted to produce. But I only saved one….

Anyway, an enjoyable game was had by all, including Avraham, but very long. Yitzchak won, and oh what a surprise, he had a completed expedition card track and 11 points in cards in his hand.

San Juan

Daniel 22, Avraham 19

Daniel taught Avraham to play while Daid and I played Magic. The first game ended very abruptly, no big buildings, as Daniel built and built each round, ending the game while he was ahead.

Avraham 27, Daniel 24

Avraham took the next game with a Guild Hall and a lot of production buildings.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 56, Sharon 51, Nadine 45

The Estrogen Club had its last game before Sharon goes off to the states. Both Nadine and Sharon had early Harbors, but Rachel had a coffee monopoly, lots of corn, a Small Warehouse and three big buildings.

Magic: the Gathering

David 1, Jon 0

Been a long time since we had a game of Magic, so David and Jon did a quick draft. As usual, David pulled off a victory, but closer than usual. He ended the game with a Soul Burn while at 9 points, doing 6 points of damage (and going up to 14). Jon may actually have won in another 2 rounds or so.


Nov 10, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Yitzchak, Nadine, Ben, Sharon, Rachel A, Daniel, Elijah

Welcome to another adventure-filled evening of gaming. Thrills! Spills! Death-defying leaps! Near-miss collisions! All free!

Ahem.

David and Goliath

Ben 74, Jon 64, Yitzchak 57, Sharon 38, Nadine 25

Ben hasn’t been back in a while, and this is why … just kidding. Ben managed to pull 5 cards, one of each suit, all 13 or higher, until the last few rounds, where he then pulled another 14, and lost one suit, ending at the inredible score of 74.

David and Goliath was our warm-up-wait-for-the-other-players game.

Amun-Re

Daniel 42+, Yitzchak 42-, Jon 36, Ben 36, Saarya 31ish

We had nine people, enough for a full game of Amun-Re and still four left over for PR. We haven’t tried AR for a while, and not with a full complement, which is reportedly best.

Provinces and scores:

After turn 3:

  • Daniel: Thebes / Kharga / Avaris // 11
  • Yitzchak: Buto / Dakhla / Amarna // 17
  • Jon: Abydos / Berenike / Damanhur // 16
  • Saarya: Baharya / Mendes / Memphis // 9
  • Ben: Edfu / Abu / Sawu // 11

After turn 6:

  • Daniel: Kharga / Buto / Abydos // 42 + most pyramids
  • Yitzchak: Damanhur / Amarna / Mendes // 42 – not most pyramids
  • Jon: Berenike / Baharya / Dakhla // 36
  • Saarya: Abu / Avaris / Sawu // 31*
  • Ben: Thebes / Edfu / Memphis // 36

* If you count the card he wouldn’t have tossed if he had remembered the rules about duplicate cards.

Like a number of games using a similar mechanic (Evo, Goa, etc…), Amun-Re suffers from an overdose of luck when picking the cards. To solve this problem, we played “draw 2, keep 1”, which worked very well. Even though I still had terrible luck with the cards, I usually felt that I had some options or control over what to keep, and only twice tossed back cards for the money (one other person tossed once, except for the last round).

I kept getting the provinces I needed stolen from me, which means that I have to work on my bidding. Also, the farmer’s didn’t like my provinces, so I invested in pyramids, except that one either side of the river I have competition, Ben on one side and Daniel on the other. Yah.

Daniel had three sets of three at the end. Yitzchak had no chance to build pyramids, so went for bonus cards and temple provinces, which earned him a tie, but then lost to the arbitrary “ties go to the pyramid builder” rule. (Edit from Daniel: For the record, I also had more money and more farmers than Yitzchak. mischievous grin)

Saarya earned 42 gold on the last harvest.

Total play time: 3:20.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 50, Sharon 39, Nadine 36, Elijah 33

I took it very slow teaching Elijah how to play, so they didn’t start until 8:00 pm. Although it took me longer, Elijah remebered better than most people I teach, and played an awesome game, carefully accpeting or rejecting his fellow player’s advice with patience.

Who better to play your first game of PR with than 3 kind women? Well, kind but competitive and sometimes impatient, but pretty good overall, I hear.

Rachel walked away with this one, having Guild Hall and City Hall.

Settlers of Catan

Sharon 10, Rachel 6, Nadine 5, Elijah/Jon 4

I joined this near the end after Elijah needed to leave. By then, Rachel had a port on wheat with 8,8,6, and 9 wheat hexes. I don’t know why she didn’t win (she even monoplied 8 wheat or so). Sharon had a port on wood with 5 and 9 wood rolling a lot, and won the game with Longest Road and Largest Army.

A dry report, but it’s late and time for bed. Til next week.

Jon

Nadine: Easy to explain – Puerto Rico is Rachel’s game and Settlers is Sharon’s.


Nov 03, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Sharon, Daniel, Yitzchak, Elijah, Rachel A

Much political discussion after the elections. A lot of milling back and forth to the computer screen, listening to the Kerry resignation speech (boring), phone calls, and discussions about step-parenting.

Yah.

El Grande – King and Intrigant

Saarya 117, Jon 113, Nadine 91, Sharon 83

Yes, much better after taking out the 70, 50 and 30, cards which send pieces back to the provinces. 70 really didn’t have to come out, but the 50 and 30, which sent piece from the courts back to the provinces were impossible the first time we played, coming out every turn, and making the game too narrow – you always had to play low cards to get your pieces back, and off they would go again.

This time the game was as enjoyable as regular EG, if perhaps a bit too easy to get all your pieces on the board. High scores and almost noone left in the provinces.

The second issue is the rule that the high and low bidders don’t get their special actions but must take the King and Intrigant actions only. That made half of the cards worthless, which is a medium sized problem. By allowing the players to choose between the special action of the King/Intrigant, you end up with the small problem that the king doesn’t move much. Better a small problem than a big one.

Anyhoo, we started off in the four northern provinces. Nadine was first and started out ahead after the first scoring round, but Saarya and Jon caught up fairly quickly, almost tied after the second scoring round. At the end, it was neck and neck, like the elections WHOOPS, scratch that. Saarya scored with his last scoring province.

Cards played, in order:
Nadine: 150, 130, 20, 93, 10, 180, 90, 25, 95
Sharon: 80, 95, 75, 150, 93, 90, 20, 40, 180
Saarya: 20, 140, 160, 100, 40, 95, 10, 93, 130
Jon: 155, 10, 180, 80, 150, 130, 40, 110, 90

Scores after 1st/2nd/3rd scoring rounds:
Nadine: 38/70/91
Sharon: 12/46/83
Saarya: 29/80/117
Jon: 32/79/113

Settlers of Catan

Yitzchak 10, Elijah 7, Daniel 6

Daniel and Elijah are still new to SoC, so still happy to play it all the time. Yitzchak is also game for it most of the time. As usual, a lot of longest road swapping.

Through the Desert

Yitzchak 117, Daniel 95

Elijah went a little earlier this time. I needed something to keep Yitzchak and Daniel occupied until we finished EG, so I brought out and quickly taught Daniel TtD. He seemed highly intrigued. There was a lot of cordoning off, but I don’t know what else happened.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 50 + 6, Jon 50 + 0, Sharon 47

A close game, once again proving the over powered nature of Harbor in 2 and 3 players. Must tone it down, maybe cap it at 2 points per turn, or make it equal Factory’s bonus levels.

Sharon had early Harbor and then Coffee, and eventually Fortress. Rachel had Tobacco, Factory and eventually Guild Hall. Jon had only sugar, indigo and corn, but a bunch of quarries and City Hall and Custom’s House. Jon was just unable to get Residence (he had Hacienda about mid game) and to spite Rachel (with goods on a Warehouse), and Sharon (with at least 18 colonists ready to come in), removed all of his colonists down to the plantations to end the game a round early with 21 colonists on the boat.

Almost had it, too, but lost on a tie.

San Juan

Nadine 41, Yitzchak 32, Daniel 30

Nadine proves why San Juan also needs a little tweaking, winning with all the monuments, Triumphal Arch and City Hall, and Guild Hall in the hand, but no time to build it.

It just doesn’t sit right that number of 6 point buildings = finishing place. Must find a way to make 6 point buildings more accessible. Something like: shuffle them and deal them out before starting.

Nadine: I agree there is too much luck. I had Triumphal Arch and one monument from my original hand, holding on to them the whole game was a challenge. I was lucky to pick City Hall and Guild Hall near the end, though I could only build one. Daniel was in a good position, producing and trading extra, and would have been able to build more big buildings if he had drawn them, though he did build Palace. Yitzchak had City Hall and more purple buildings than we did.


Oct 27, 2004

Happy Birthday, JSGC!

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Rachel A, Nadine, Yitzchak, Sharon, Daniel, Elijah

The Official JSGC is 1 year old. The game group started several years ago when I got my first box of magic cards, and we would get together irregularly to play. At the same time, we had irregular bridge evenings, online and off (my brothers still play a few times a week online), and a Cosmic Encounter evening every month (again, ?)

Somewhere along the line, I wanted to run a D&D game for my kids, and decided to try it out on my brothers and friends. This turned into a regular game evening every two (?) weeks. Then we got 3e D&D and my brother David started a campaign for his kids and ran his campaign for us.

Unfortunately, 3e D&D is really bad, gutting all of the roleplaying, and turning it into ruleplaying and rollplaying. The rules arguments ran high and senseless, and I eventually quit (not too politely, I must admit). David is still running the campaign for his kids and their friends, albeit with rule changes.

About that time we got Settlers of Catan, which took my family by storm, and a year and a half later, Cities and Knights, and Acquire. Eventually I got some of the D&D people coming regularly to play Settlers, and then Puerto Rico. I was already a regular on BGG and the Yahoo PR group. When I dared to invent new buildings for PR and make rule changes to other games, I began to work on my own game designs.

Towards the end of 2003, I wanted to make my game group offical, and try to get more people, so I put an ad in for the local English papers and mailing lists for the Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Group (hard to come up with the perfect name. I got phone calls from people thinking this was a chess group, or a computer game club). The next week, Nadine showed up (and noone else), and we had our first official game club evening playing Acquire (with Saarya, my son). The next week, noone came, although Nadine said she was on call, and I began to fret. The week after that they began coming again. The rest is in the session reports.

I’ve had a great time, we’ve met some great people, and played a lot of great games. Thanks to everyone in the group for their open attitudes, their patience with my new games and variants, and for making it a great group. Here’s to many more evenings and game days.

In honor of the occasion, Sharon brought over a new copy of David and Goliath from her trip abroad, and Sharon and Nadine brought over a handcrafted set of little pieces and dots to use for my railgame. It’s so sweet. And I know it’s not just because they don’t want me to steal the pieces from Puerto Rico while I’m playing the rail game! Thank you.

Puerto Rico

Yitzchak 53, Rachel 52, Jon 51, Nadine 45

Game changes:

  • Hospice: move colonist onto it when you buy it.
  • Large Warehouse: comes with a good (your choice)
  • University: comes with a colonist on it

A close game, as you can see. Seating order: Yitzchak, Nadine, Rachel, Jon

  1. Round 1
    1. Y/Settler. Y/Quarry, N/Tobacco, R/Sugar, J/Corn. R took the sugar I wanted.
    2. N/Builder. N/Sm Market, R/Sugar, J/Sm Market, Y/Sm Indigo
    3. R/Mayor. Rachel now has Sugar running.
    4. J/Prospector
  2. Round 2
    1. N/Settler. N/Quarry, R/Coffee, J/Coffee, Y/Tobacco. R took the Coffee ahead of me, too. Meanwhile, Y and N have indigo and tobacco.
    2. R/Craftsman.
    3. J/Mayor. Fills both corns and Sm Market. Don’t want to trade, or R will have just enough to get coffee roaster.
    4. Y/Captain
  3. Round 3
    1. R/Trader. For the 2 gold.
    2. J/Prospector. For the 2 gold.
    3. Y/Builder. Builds Tobacco. R and I both waiting for Coffee.
    4. N/Mayor
  4. Round 4
    1. J/Builder. Got the roaster, which Rachel can’t afford, yet.
    2. Y/Craftsan. Producing tobacco. But will he trade it?
    3. N/Captain. Y is left with his tobacco, so he will.
    4. R/Settler. Takes a quarry. I take another coffee. I produce 2 corns, two coffees for most of the game.
  5. Round 5
    1. Y/Trader. With gold, to add insult to injury. Noone else has goods.
    2. N/Prospector. 2 gold
    3. R/Mayor
    4. J/Craftsman. Boats are blocked, so I will be able to trade coffee. Despite sitting to the left of R, I trade coffee five times, to her once.
  6. Round 6
    1. N/Builder. Nadine and Yitzchak both pick up Harbor. Time to start blocking boats.
    2. R/Trader. She trades Sugar, I trade Coffee, Y or N trades indigo, and TH empties.
    3. J/Captain
    4. Y/Mayor
  7. Round 7
    1. R/Craftsman. R and I are doing the Harbor owners work for them.
    2. J/Trader. J/Coffee, Y/Tobacco, N/Indigo, R/Sugar
    3. Y/Settler. With 2 gold. J takes trader to earn a lot of gold, but gives almost as much to Y by letting pass gold on other phases.
    4. N/Builder
  8. Round 8
    1. J/Trader
    2. Y/Prospector. For 3 gold.
    3. N/Builder. J builds Guild Hall, R Factory, Y City Hall.
    4. R/Captain
  9. Round 9
    1. Y/Settler. Takes corn, I think.
    2. N/Mayor. Plus 2 gold. Around this time, the colonists start rushing. 7, then 8, then 12, then 7 again. 10 at the end.
    3. R/Craftsman
    4. J/Trader. Trades corn to get 10 GP.
  10. Round 10
    1. N/Trader
    2. R/Captain. We are colluding against the presumed big shippers.
    3. J/Builder. Builds Custom House, R builds Fortress. Customs House ends up being a mistake, as we all end with about 20 shipping VP’s, and Fortress nets R 8 VPs.
    4. Y/Prospector
  11. Round 11
    1. R/Mayor
    2. J/Builder. Hppay to build for Guild Hall, happy to end game asap, happy to let the shippers work for it.
    3. Y/Craftsman
    4. N/Settler. Quarry.
  12. Round 12
    1. J/Captain. Loads Coffee, I think.
    2. Y/Trader
    3. N/Builder. Builds Residence.
    4. R/Mayor
  13. Round 13
    1. Y/Prospector. 3 gold
    2. N/Settler. Quarry.
    3. R/Mayor. Trying to up her Fortress.
    4. J/Builder. Running out of money, and Y has build almost as much.
  14. Round 14
    1. N/Captain
    2. R/Craftsman
    3. J/Trader
    4. Y/Builder. J out of money. Y and N build Wharves. Y ultimately uses his to win the game.
  15. Round 15
    1. R/Captain
    2. J/Builder. Buys Hacienda
    3. Y/Craftsman
    4. N/Mayor. Almost enough to end it, but not quite. Y and N want to ship more, so they don’t end game.
  16. Round 16
    1. J/Captain. Game will end anyway, might as well block what I can.
    2. Y/Builder. Fills up building space.
    3. N/Prospector
    4. R/Mayor. colonists gone.

Yitzchak wins by a hair.

Sharon 49, Nadine 44, Rachel 39.

Later in the evening, the three womenfolk have a game of PR. Apparently, the game ended before the big building were filled. Otherwise, Sharon would have had 51, and Rachel 52.

Settlers of Catan

Saarya 10, Sharon 9, Daniel 8, Elijah 5

All of the above prefer Settlers to PR, and Daniel and Elijah are still new to Settlers. So there you go. A lot of Longest Road swapping, I understand.

Saarya had heavy brick and a brick port, Sharon heavy sheep and sheep port, Daniel heavy wood and wood port (started on the port to block Saarya), and Elijah heavy ore and an ore port.

This game was played during the first PR game, and took longer, strangely enough.

Jon 10, Yitzchak 6, Daniel 6

Another game, this one played during the second PR game, and also took a little longer.

All of us started on one end and ended up with contiguous bands across the island, Daniel on one side with heavy wood and wood and wheat ports. Yitzchak on the other side, running across the island, and me down the middle. They competed for longest road, inching up to 7, then 8, 9 and 10. Yet wise man say: two players compete for longest road, third player win. Hoombah.

After gaining my two cities (on bricks and woods) and two settlements, I played 3 soldiers, and then played 6 roads in one turn to take longest road.

David and Goliath

Sharon 66, Daniel 53, Saarya 36, Elijah 26

Breaking in the new game.

Daniel 56, Saarya 53, Elijah 36, Jon 26, Sharon 14

My hand was high, and therefore bad. Saarya and Daniel stayed neat and clean the whole game. Final scores were a little hazy, but about correct.

San Juan

Yitzchak 41. Jon 39, Nadine 25, Rachel 24

While waiting for the first Settlers game to end, we played SJ. Rachel got no big buildings, despite a lot of Councelling, and neither did Nadine, except for Palace. Kind of frustrating.

Final buildings:

Yitzchak:

  • Indigo
  • Smithy
  • Prefecture
  • Tobacco
  • Quarry
  • Statue
  • Aqueduct
  • Carpenter
  • City Hall
  • Palace
  • Victory Column
  • Guild Hall

Jon:

  • Indigo
  • Prefecture
  • Tobacco
  • Silver
  • Gold Mine (about 2/6)
  • Market Hall
  • Hero
  • Triumphal Arch
  • Guild Hall
  • Statue
  • City Hall

Nadine:

  • Indigo
  • Tobacco
  • Prefecture
  • Tower
  • Chapel ++++
  • Hero
  • Palace
  • Market Hall
  • Silver

Rachel

  • Indigo
  • Sugar
  • Quarry
  • Black Market (used once)
  • Carpenter
  • Trading Post
  • Aqueduct
  • Victory Column
  • Tower
  • Chapel ++
  • Market Stand
  • Library

To celebrate, I baked a cake, and we sang happy birthday. We even took a digital photo. I’ll see if I can get that up at some point.

See you next week!


Oct 20, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Daniel, Yitzchak, Nadine, Sharon, Rachel A, Elijah

Sharon returned, only to tell us that she is leaving for the U.S. in mid-November, so we must enjoy her while we can. Also, Elijah, who played with us on Sukkot, returned for a game.

Railroads of Catan

Yitzchak $51,900, Saarya $38,300, Elijah(+Daniel) $30,000, Jon $28,500

And I inflicted this on him.

I had streamlined my RR game again, removing the negotiation and events, and adding roll cards, making it closer to Age of Steam. The game gets better each time, but there is still a huge amount of calculating and figuring between all players.

The game is basically:

Round:

  • Bid for roles (roles are: a) $1000 plus go first, b) Get/Move rail for free, c) etc…).
  • Pay maintenance on built material.
  • Buy delivery order. Unbought ones gain value.
  • Build rails and trains, or upgrade.
  • Buy and deliver goods.
  • Repeat until 7 rounds.

The way I had it this time, the delivery orders were undervalued compared to the simple selling of goods back and forth between cities, and it cost too much to run on other people’s tracks. Also, with so much figuring, people often come to a general consensus of what the “right” move is. Also, the game led up to a creshendo before the end, but then didn’t quite finish off spectacularly, since Yitzchak could hold his position shipping goods back and forth while doing nothing else. Need a better finish.

Anyhoo, I though I started off well, but I quickly fell behind. Don’t quite know why. Elijah didn’t build any good twin cities, so he couldn’t produce/sell/reapeat, like the rest of us could. The delivery orders were not that useful, for the most part. Ah well.

Still enjoyable to play, but it took 4.5 hours to finish an entire game. One more thing to work on. OTOH, that is how long most railgames take, so I don’t know if I can do anything about that.

Tigris and Euphrates

Sharon 7, Nadine 6, Daniel 4

Daniel taught Nadine and Sharon how to play T and E, and promptly lost to them. I saw that by the end of the game, he had no leaders on the board. I think he lost a few too many conflicts.

Pente

Jon 5, Daniel 1

After finishing Tigris, and not wanting to play PR, Daniel and I played some sde games of Pente while RR was still going on. He lost five games in a row, but gamely tried one, finally beating me from what looked like a hopeless situation.

Puerto Rico

Game 1: Nadine 46, Rachel 41, Sharon 33

Game 2: Rachel 64, Nadine 60, Sharon 42

Don’t know anything about these games, unfortunately.

We seem to have a contingent of people looking forward to a Die Macher game at some point. So we will aim to try it again sometime soon. Also, a week fom this shabbat we will be playing a game shabbat, either at Nadine’s or my house. If you are in the area, stop by.

Yehuda


Oct 13, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Daniel, Yitzchak, Nadine

Pente

Jon 2, Daniel 0

Daniel arrived earlier than the others, so I introduced him to Pente. In the first game, I confidently played for a quick triangle and almost lost my shirt as he took over with a straight cross through the middle. Luckily for me, he missed a quad I could form, and when I regained initiative, I placed it down for the win. The second game, I took moe careful control with a triangle, X and I shape to form two triads which could not both be stopped.

San Juan

Daniel 40, Yitzchak 32, Jon 30, Nadine 30

A quick game before the heavier game, I introduced San Juan to both Daniel and Yitzchak, who both ended up with the highest scores. In my case, I couldn’t find a large building other than Palace, despite having up to 15 cards in my hand at one time (Tower, two Silvers, Trading House and Market Stand). Daniel had Chapel, City Hall and Palace, and only two Indigo plants. Yitzchak had the nice Guild Hall and a Hero.

Taj Mahal

Yitzchak 42, Daniel 40, Jon 37, Nadine 36, Saarya 32

Daniel again scored pretty well on his first attempt at the game, but yitzchak eked out the victory. Daniel, Nadine and Yitzchak all had something like 8-9 points in their hand at the end. Daniel did a lot of withdrawing for the bonus cards, and then had a huge hand while the rest of us fought over province 7 or so. He also had huge connections, earning 8 or 9 points at least twice. Nadine and Yitzchak both had nice commodities. I had a lot of bonus cards, and I won a few protraced battles, but couldn’t get enough matching colors afterwards.

Interestingly, Yitzchak did a lot of useless withdrawing but still won.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Unfinished, Jon was a bit ahead, followed by Saarya

I introduced C&K to both Nadine and Daniel, who both nitpicked about it the whole time. Nadine remarked how Goa had borrowed the progression from C&K. It was kind of late, and there are more rules than Settlers, and I think they were tired or afraid of missing their bus, so we ended in the middle. The dice were being unfavorable to Daniel, in any case.

Nadine: I enjoyed the opportunity to try C&K, it seems good if you want a long game or really like Settlers. Taj Mahal is fun and engaging; so far it doesn’t seem like people have won due to strategies.


Oct 03, 2004

Game Day

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Pinchas, Michael, Elijah, Elazar, Ben, David K, Yitzchak, Nadine, Rachel A

An excellent game day on this good day of Sukkot. First I was expecting a contingent of people from Tel Aviv, and then I was expecting them to cancel when I found out that ICON (Sci-fi convention in TA) was happening on the same day. Then they said they were coming anyway, then they said they weren’t because the driver had to go to miluim.

In the end, we had some curious newcomers, a number of curious who said they would come, but didn’t, a number of regulars, including one who said he wasn’t going to come, and one guy from Petach Tikve (Elazar, more below).

Chess

Richard was the first to show up. I played bridge with him in the past, and he knows nothing about the newer games. He wanted to play chess, which I didn’t mind starting with. The problem with chess for me is: little table talk about strategies (I don’t like a lot of table talk, but some basic warnings that a play I am going to make is stupid would be nice) and a boring end-game (with lots of room for careless, uninteresting mistakes such as the above).

First I took back a move, then he took back a move, then I told him to take back a move because I set him up for a check-mate. Then I had him dead-to-rights near the endgame, but I was careless, and I took back my move to then carefully finish him off (instead of a stalemate).

Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers

Saarya introduced newcomers Michael and his nine year old son to Carcassonne. Michael’s previous experience is Illuminati, probably many other standard games, and vaguely playing Cosmic Encounter many years before.

Carcassonne seemed to go pretty well. There was one irregularly played piece which Saarya didn’t catch on time, making the game results skewed.

Saarya and Yitzchak also had a game later in the day, when it seemed like there would be time for a quick game, but the game was ended about 2/3 of the way through, with Saarya declared the eventual victor.

Through the Desert

I decided to start Pinchas on TtD, my new hook for new players. I usually use Settlers for multiplayer hooking.

He found it interesting, but hard to grasp how to surround territory. The game was a bit of a walkover for me, ending 105 to 48.

Anagrams

The last quick game before other guests showed up, I introduced Pinchas to Anagrams, which he refused to take seriously. He knows Scrabble pretty well, but is the type who likes to make puns and cutesy words. We ended in the middle; I was doing better, but he did have a good word or two that he had snatched from me.

Settlers of Catan

Jon 10, Yitzchak 9, Pinchas 9

SoC turned out to be the big hook for Pinchas, and eventually for Michael and Elijah, as well (no surprise). Pinchas really liked the many paths to victory, and ended his first game with a big smile.

The first game out, it looked like I was way ahead, 7 to 4 to 4. But I stalled for quite a while, and by the time I finished, Yitzchak had Largest Army and two hidden victory points, and Pinchas had Longest Road and was close to 10.

Yitzchak had really bad luck, rolling 8 over and over which both Pinchas and I benefitted from and he didn’t.

Pinchas 10, Saarya 8, Ben 7, Elazar 6

I then taught SoC again to Elazar. Elazar is the guy from Petach Tikve. He is another who saw my interview on spotlightongames, and wanted to come just to show me a prototype of a game he invented to get my opinion on it (Art of War below). Wow, I have a growing online presence.

SoC is his first Eurogame, and he also really enjoyed it, because the luck factor took the pressure off of winning, and allowed him to just enjoy himself, since no matter how good you play, you can lose to bad luck in SoC.

Pinchas won on his second game.

Elazar 10, Michael 9, Elijah, Pinchas

I then taught it again to Michael and Elijah, who also had a blast, and already asked to buy it.

This game was played by people who I taught that day. This time, Elazar won on his second game, although I don’t know what happened beyond that.

Cosmic Encounter

Ben brought Mayfair CE/MCE with him, which was good news to the CE devotees like Saarya. I don’t know the powers, but Saarya won because of that freakin’ reverse cone (which I want abolished), after Ben allied on offense hoping to go for a double win, forgetting that the cone was reversed. Michael also played, with Elijah on his team.

Another CE game was played later, with Saarya playing Miser/Visionary, Nadine Warpish/Siren, and Ben Obverse/Chronos. Nadine had originally picked Virus but couldn’t legally play it with her other powers.

Saarya took this game as well, which was a long drawn out one, as Nadine was distracted watching our game of Taj Mahal.

Art of War

Elazar’s prototype is called Art of War, a wargame based on certain priciples of the same book. I won’t say much about it, as he was testing it out on us, and he wants to publish it at some point. My immediate comparison was to Lord of the Rings the Confrontation, only more and variable board and troops. Since he never played Eurogames, I was surprised at how Eurogamey it was. It is pretty solid, needs some more rules detail, summary information on the pieces, and a little streamlining, but worth looking for if it ever gets published.

David played him and resigned about halfway through, and then I did the same later in the day.

Illuminati

I didn’t get a chance to play this Steve Jackson tongue-in-cheek card game which Michael brought over, apparently based on the ridiculous book by Robert Anton Wilson. The basic idea is that you each are a unique society (variable player powers) with the choice of the general or unique win condition. Either involve spending money and influence to sway other secret societies to your sphere of inflience.

Elijah, Michael and Yitzchak played until the game drew down to a close and apparently Yitzchak and Michael decided to call it a draw.

Magic the Gathering

David and I hadn’t played in a while, so I decided to take my usual punishment. I win barely one game out of ten with him. This time we each had 75 cards to choose a deck. I ended up with just the wrong sort of cards and couldn’t build a useful deck. I had Red/Blue, splash of white. David had Black with some Red. I lost each game 0/12.

We have always been playing with a variant mulligan rule I created (you can discard out of the game a land or non-land up to turn five to get the other type of card, once). David K has been abusing this rule too much, however, so I have decided, as of now, that we are moving to the official tournament mulligan rule (which was created a year after mine, which is why we haven’t used it up until now). It is: mulligan as often as you like, choosing one less card in your starting hand each time.

Tigris and Euphrates

Ben 10, Saarya 8, Jon 6

Another fantastic game of T&E, always gripping. Ben’s first game, with the usual stream of rules questions. He somehow pulled just the right tiles to defeat or win almost every conflict. 4 blue tiles, no problem. 3 green the very next round, followed by 4 red right afterwards? Sure.

I only managed to break his positions up once, and only by sacrificing my own position to do it.

Puerto Rico

Yitzchak 59, Rachel A 45, Nadine 44, David K 43

Rachel came up to play her favorite game. Yitzchak managed to do a nice bit of trouncing for once. He apparently had 4 corn and 3 tobacco, Harbor and Wharf. With 4 corn, Wharf becomes obligatory. Meanwhile, the other players were all competing for trading space to buy the big buildings, and David K was crafting to pump his Factory, which ended up helping Yitzchak even more.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Nadine 50, Rachel A 49, David K, Yitzchak

In this game they used some of my more interesting expansion buildings:

  • Large General Workhouse 8/3: two circles, each count as any production type you want each Craftsman phase. Rachel last played this with me, alternating production between coffee, tobacco and sugar, depending on what she needed to sell or ship that round.
  • Exchange House 5/2: exchange 1 good with the trading house at the end of the trader phase. I last used this to trade expensive goods, and then take them back, either to trade again, or to ship.
  • Bazaar 2/1: trade gp, vp or good for extra colonist / gp, vp or colonist for extra good / vp, colonist, good for extra gp. A difficult building to use, but can be flexible.
  • Goldmine 8/3: after taking two gold mines instead of plantations, can produce 1 gold per round, which sells for 6 and ships for 3 vp/barrel (shipped together with another good)

Apparently, Yitzchak had Library and Bazaar, but no big buildings, Rachel had 2 big buildings and Large General Workhouse (producing tobacco and coffee, or whatever was available otherwise), Nadine had Library and 1 big building, and Ben had 2 big buildings. Exchange House wasn’t bought.

Bridge

Several hands of bridge were played (Ben, Nadine, Pinchas, David K).

Taj Mahal

David K 70, Yitzchak 42, Jon 37

David K played and won his first game. I made terrible bluffs in the last two rounds, but I was still nowhere near catching up to him. I don’t really know where he got all of what he got, but he got it. He had both long strings of connected buildings, and a good supply of commodities – bought late, but better late than never.

Whew. Lots of snacks, food and drink, a hot sukkah, and then a chilly evening. A good time had by all, from 9:30 to 23:30, and apologies to David K’s wife Yael for stealing him for most of the day.


Sep 22, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Daniel, Nadine, Yitzchak, Rachel A

Welcome Daniel to the gaming club. Daniel has experience with Munchkin, Tigris and Euphrates, Diplomacy and other games, and says he doesn’t like Puerto Rico, although he’s only played it twice.

San Juan

Nadine 28, Jon 26 + 4, Rachel 26 + 1

While waiting for the others, Nadine, Rachel A and Jon has a game of San Juan. Nadine says she thinks it’s boring, but Jon still likes it very much.

Jon decided to give Crane a shot, having said how much he thinks it sucks without ever really trying it. It sucks. Yes, it’s true you can build each round, but, if nothing else, you kill yourself from the loss of bonus points from the big buildings at the end of the game. It does combine with the Triumphal Arch, I guess. Suffice to say Rachel built no buildings but still tied Jon’s score. Nadine did the simple play of production/Guild Hall to an easy victory.

Princes of Florence

Daniel 60, Nadine 54, Yitzchak 46 + 7, Jon 46 + 1, Saarya 34*

Saarya got a low score since we didn’t let him retract a bid after the person after him was hesitating. This may have been unfair, as other players took back moves, albeit with less information from the succeding players. If Saarya had been able to take back the bid, he may have achieved more than 20 points in the swing.

Daniel, first time playing, bowled his way into first place by picking the profession cards 1, 2 and 3 on his opening, and then buying and recruiting 4, 5 and 6. 2 buildings, 3 freedoms, 3 landscapes and 6 full sets of works, and an 8 point prestige card to boot. Saarya actually passed 1 action, hoping the work he played would be more lucrative the next round, and then Nadine passed two actions at once hoping for the same result. A first for me, and made for a very interesting game. Jon had his game planned on turn 4 with the assumption he was about to acquire Religion, but Yitzchak was ahead of him and stole the last one, which meant that Jon couldn’t play his last profession card. Saarya and Jon also couldn’t pull a useful prestige card to save their lives. Yitzchak had 3 builders and ran out of profession cards after round 6.

Tigris and Euphrates

Jon 8/9/12/18, Saarya 7/8/9/14, Daniel 5/5/5/8

Saarya started off with 5 red tiles, which is a great pull for defending your early kingdom. A series of well fought battles pulled him ahead, but he finally lost a big red battle to Jon (who pulled out 4 red tiles to match his). Daniel was attacked early on and never really gained momentum. From feast to famine for him, after his big win in PoF, and from famine to feast for Jon, as on the last play of the game he leaped forward 2 points, pulling a treasure and a black to go from 6 to 8 and then end the game. Saarya could have ended the game on his turn, but thought he needed his action.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 65 (39S + 26B), Nadine 58 (37S + 21B), Yitzchak 52 (19S + 33B)

I didn’t follow the game, but Yitzchak had Guild Hall, Factory and a full complement of production, including a Tobacco monopoly, Rachel had City Hall and a Coffee monopoly (must have had Harbor, as well, to rack up 39 shipping points), and Nadine had 5 corns, Wharf and Custom’s House and not much else.

No game next week or the week after on Wed night, but Game Day on the Sunday in between. See you all.


Sep 08, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Yitzchak, Ben, Rachel A

El Grande: King and Intrigant

Nadine 77, Yitzchak 69, Ben 67, Saarya 61, Jon 58

I have played many games outside of the gaming group over the last week or two, including a game of El Grande at Nadine’s house over shabbat. This inspired me to finally break out the El Grande expansion set that we bought. I decided to try the “simpler” and more well-regarded of the two expansions first: King and Intrigant.

In K&I, you remove the power (bidding) cards and action cards from the original set. Instead, each player has an identical set of 31 cards from which he chooses 13 to play with during the game. They are numbered (between 10 and 180), and each has the number of caballeros you get from the provinces to your court (generally, the lower the number, the more you get) and a special action (generally the lower the number, the better the action).

During play, each player plays one card. Highest card goes first, and can place five caballeros on the board and either do his action or move the king. Next highest gets to place four caballeros and do his action, etc… down to last place who can place only one caballero and can either do his action or do “the Intrigant” action, which is to move one foreign caballero or all of his own from one region to any other regions. You no longer have the option of doing or not doing the action unless it specifically says “May” in the card.

The game is now more strategic the basic game, since you now know what cards will be coming up next, at least your own. In that sense it is a better game. On the other hand, the agonizing was even longer than the first game, where there was some agonzing over the power cards, but not too much, some over the action, but not too much, and most over where to place the caballeros. Now we have lots of agonizing over the card and lots over the caballeros.

But the basic feature of this game versus the original is that it is much more painful. Wheras in the first game the really painful cards would come up only sometimes, and only twice per game at most, in this game they come up every turn. This makes for a much more aggressive and nasty game experience. The worst of the lot are the two cards that send caballeros back from the court to the provinces. For almost the entire game, noone had anything in their court, which meant a lot of low numbers needed to replenish the court, if you could manage to play them and if you had included them in your opening 13 cards.

I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. The game is now more heart-wrentching and hand-wringing, which can be good, but this is almost to the point of painful.

Certainly my experience, since I sank to last almost right away and stayed there for most of the game.

Ben started out with “other players return all caballeros from court to provinces”. You’ll see a lot of those. Even worse was “all players return 3 caballeros from courts or regions to provinces” if you have none in the courts, you take them from the board. Since Ben wiped out all of mine from the courts, Nadine finished by wiping out the only three I had on the board from play. Saarya and I had very little on the board most of the game. Nadine did a lot of double scoring by scoring the castillo and then scoring again where ever the caballeros in the castillo moved to.

For the record, here are the power cards played:

Ben Jon Saarya Yitzchak Nadine
30 90 50 150 100
180 10 80 20 50
50 180 95 140 63
80 70 20 75 90
60 80 130 10 20
150 20 93 180 95
90 150 70 30 170
20 30 63 170 10
95 130 40 66 180

Scores at the end of each round:

Ben Jon Saarya Yitzchak Nadine
0 0 0 10 4
0 0 0 10 4
14 13 18 17 19
14 13 18 17 19
26 17 20 25 19
46 36 44 48 53
48 45 48 48 53
48 45 48 48 53
67 58 61 69 77

Nadine: I selected my cards based on high numbers and receiving caballeros, figuring the actions weren’t important because they were optional. Well, when we started playing, we discovered that most actions weren’t optional, which made it a bit more challenging. I didn’t think I’d do well because I soon ran out of good actions, but I forgot that everyone else would have similar problems.

Bidding position is a factor over which you have little control except when you play super low yourself. I was able to go first on the last scoring round because Yitzchak played low on the 7th round, most likely to get caballeros, and on the 8th I still had my 10, because Yitzchak had played his 10 earlier. I had gone first 7th round even though it meant using the king with only 3 caballeros. One reason was that I didn’t want to do the action on the card, so wanted to use it when I could take the king. I was sure my strong home region from round 6 (with mobile high scoreboard) wouldn’t last to the final scoring, but the 7th round first player chose not to move the king, mostly because he figured I would just be able to move it back due to my going first during the last round. But leaving it there prevented Saarya from using his Veto on my last round king move, because it is fortunately optional.

I was also lucky in the 6th round to end up first position in a region that Saarya secretly doubled. I earlier had lost three points by missing a move that other people saw, and even hinted at, but for some reason didn’t tell me in time. I was actually in last place at the end of round 5, Jon had a higher score than listed. And I never got to play my Score the Region of Your Choice card. The king didn’t move as often in this game, because if the first player does their alternative action, no one else can take the king, and it was harder to place caballeros to be in a position to benefit from moving the king.

This version is much more difficult to play, but fun and engaging, though more frustrating as Jon says.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Rachel 49 +2, Nadine 49, Jon 40

This makes the third game in a row where Rachel and Nadine have tied for first place, with the win going on the tiebreaker. We played with several buildings from my new set, and the resulting random mix was a whole lot of very powerful buildings with most of the buildings geared toward heavy building. For example we have small market (+1 trade), large market (+2), super market (+3), and small business (also +1, plus store one good). Plus Church (earn vp’s for building). Plus large business (Both of Builder’s and Captain’s privileges).

For some reason, even though both Rachel and I had Coffee, and Rachel was after me, she still managed to outtrade me. She also took both small market and small business before I reallized that you could do that, by which time it was too late. I had nice production, but only 1 storage space (small business), and Nadine got Wharf.

The building list:

  • Small market (1/1)
  • Small Business (2/1) (small market + store one good)
  • Hacienda (2/1)
  • Small Factory (3/1) (+0/+1/+1/+2/+2)
  • Trade School (4/2) (Pay one extra for building and gain a colonist on it)
  • Church (5/2) (+0/+1/+1/+2 VPs for buying a building from column 1/2/3/4)
  • Large market (5/2)
  • Beachfront (6/2) (take Dock instead of plantation, counts as wharf for one barrel of any type)
  • Super market (7/3)
  • Large business (8/3) (pay 1 less per building, +1 VP if you ship at least once)
  • Library (8/3) (double privelege)
  • Wharf (9/3)
  • President’s House (10/4) (+2 each for: most red VP’s, most shipping VP’s, most colonists, most goods, most GPs, most plantations. +1 for ties)
  • Governor’s House (10/6) (+4 if you have colonists on San Juan)
  • Distillery (10/5) (+2/sugar plantation (max +8))
  • Custom House (10/4)
  • City Hall (10/4)

Nadine: I actually was in the worse position because I had no big buildings, but I accidentally managed to end the game in time to stop 3 of 4 from being manned, otherwise Jon would have won with his 2.

Jon: Nope. Even with my two big buildings manned, I still wouldn’t have won. Rachel would have. I did forget to mention that the game ended abruptly by Nadine taking Captain and running us out of VP’s before anyone noticed, which is why we were caught unaware.


Sep 01, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Rachel A, Yona (Nadine’s son)

Welcome back Rachel A (my wife) and Nadine from their summer vacations. It was a long, slow August.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 48 + 2 items, Nadine 48 + 1 item, Jon 47, Yitzchak 47, Yona 44

And we start off with the game of choice, Puerto Rico, followed by the other game we’ve been playing all summer, Goa.

As usual, changes to the game:

  • Move colonist onto Hospice when you buy it
  • Small Wharf instead of Large Warehouse
  • University comes with a colonist

Seating order: Nadine, Yitzchak, Jon, Rachel A, Yona.

General Guide: Nadine and Yona both got Harbor and Wharf and fed each other Craftsman and Captain. Nadine did a little better, also having Small Warehouse. Neither bought a large building, but each had over 30 shipping VPs. Yitzchak got Guild Hall and all the production buildings, two quarries and 18 shipping VPs. Jon got three bid buildings, but only two manned, and one wasn’t too successful (and 15 shipping VPs). Rachel got one large building, Small Warehouse, good trading and 25 shipping VPs.

  • Round 1:
    • N: Settler. N:Quarry, Yi :Coffee, J:Corn, R:Tobacco, Yo :Sugar
    • Yi: Mayor. Already a rogue start, giving J and R Sm markets, and allowing N to fill her quarry before buying.
    • J: Builder
    • R: Prospector. R takes Prospector 4 times in the first 6 rounds.
    • Yo: Prospector

    – After one round, J, R and N still have 4 GP, Yo has a sm sugar mill but doesn’t produce until 4th round.

  • Round 2:
    • Yi: Settler. Yi: Quarry, J:Tobacco (ahead of Rachel), R:Corn, Yo: Corn, N:Corn
    • J: Trader
    • R: Craftsman
    • Yo: Captain
    • N: Mayor
  • Round 3:
    • J: Builder. J:Tobacco, R:Tobacco, the rest pass
    • R: Prospector
    • Yo: Prospector
    • N:Settler. N:Corn, Yi: Sugar, J:Sugar, R:Tobacco, Yo: Indigo
    • Yi: Craftsman, allowing …
  • Round 4:
    • R: Trader. R trades corn and N trades indigo
    • Yo: Captain
    • N: Mayor
    • Yi: Settler. Yi: Quarry, J:Indigo, R:Coffee (to break away from my Tobacco threat, Yo: Indigo, N:Sugar
    • J: Craftsman. J now can trade Tobacco, as he has corn to protect his shipment, and the third ship must be filled firstby Yo’s sugar.
  • Round 5:
    • Yo: Builder. Yona takes a Harbor! Nadine gets one next round, they will also both have Wharves, but neither will have big buildings by the end of the game. Yitzchak acquires his coffee roaster.
    • N: Prospector
    • Yi: Prospector
    • J: Trader. J trades Tobacco (still has one left), Yo trades sugar.
    • R: Mayor (6 colonists)
  • Round 6:
    • N: Builder. Jon takes Factory, producing 4 goods. Nadine Harbor, Rachel Sm Warehouse.
    • Yi: Captain. To prevent Jon from trading a second Tobacco.
    • J: Settler. J:Quarry, R:Tobacco, Yo: Indigo, N:Sugar, Yi: Coffee
    • R: Prospector
    • Yo: Craftsman.
  • Round 7:
    • Yi: Trader. Yi trades Coffee, J trades Tobacco, R trades Corn, Yo trades Sugar.
    • J: Mayor
    • R: Prospector
    • Yo: Captain
    • N: Builder, takes Sm Warehouse
  • Round 8:
    • J: Mayor
    • R: Craftsman
    • Yo: Captain
    • N: Trader
    • Yi: Prospector
  • Round 9:
    • R: Trader with a bonus, trading coffee.
    • Yo: Craftsman
    • N: Captain. Two crafting shipping Harbor junkies.
    • Yi: Builder. Yi takes Guild Hall, J takes Customs House to ensure that the shippers don’t get it. Thinks he can get 4 to 5 points from it anyway.
    • J: Settler, another quarry, hoping to get three big buildings.
  • Round 10:
    • Yo: Mayor
    • N: Prospector
    • Yi: Prospector
    • J: Settler, and hoping to get Residence
    • R: Captain, shipping coffee to help lock the boats. Of course, the shippers both get Wharves.
  • Round 11:
    • N: Builder
    • Yi: Trader
    • J: Settler
    • R: Craftsman
    • Yo: Mayor
  • Round 12:
    • Yi: Prospector, hoping to get a second large building.
    • J: Builder. J takes City Hall, R takes Residence
    • R: Trader, eyeing the last big building also.
    • Yo: Prospector
    • N: Captain
  • Round 13:
    • J: Trader. With another craft, will have enough for third large building. Unfortunately, Jon fills a tenth building space first ensuring that even if he gets it he won’t be able to fill it.
    • R: Builder. Yi has a full set of production buildings, Guild Hall, and nothing else.
    • Yo: Mayor
    • N: Settler
    • Yi: Craftsman, under the theory that Yi would do it anyway.
  • Round 14:
    • R: Captain. Again starting a Coffee boat, but shippers both have Wharves.
    • Yo: Prospector
    • N: Builder. Both Yi and R give up on getting the last big building. J gets it in the last round, but can’t fill it, and would have been better off buying two buildings from the second column for 6 points (City Hall), instead of Fortress for 5 points.
    • Yi: Prospector
    • J: Mayor (colonists almost out). Jon should have waited here, as he may have been able to buy Fortress and convinced R to Mayor to fill it, since her building also wasn’t filled.
  • Round 15:
    • Yo: Craftsman
    • N: Captain (end of vp’s)
    • Yi: Trader
    • J: Builder. Jon gets Fortress (filled building spaces)
    • R: Settler, for Residence.

And a very close game ending score.

Goa

Nadine 44, Yitzchak 38, Jon 33

Despite starting off with double nutmeg and succeeding with my first colony, I pulled useless expedition cards one after another (advance with money when I had none, trade spices for money when I had none, etc…)

I just sat in bemusement and watched the game fall to pieces as Nadine and Yitzchak pulled ships, colonists and track advancement, which I just couldn’t get ahold of to save my life. Furthermore, I ended up being the odd guy out as they trade both the flag and the cash for it back and forth all game.

I flatly refuse to play another game of Goa until I have fixed it. Puerto Rico doesn’t need all of this card flipping luck and, while I really like the basic mechanics of the auction and the tracks, the game is simply unbearable at this point.

Nadine: I agree. Also, trying to calculate which spices you need one or two rounds ahead of time is challenging but neither interesting nor fun. And, watching other players figure and plan their moves is boring because it has almost no effect on anyone else.


Aug 24, 2004

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak

(The system crashed, blew away my first attempt, so here we go again.)

A light night again, as the August vacation period winds down. We should be getting more players again next week. Yitzchak has been the stalwart attendee.

Goa

Jon 41, Yitzchak 40

Yitzchak requested Goa, so as to try to “do better than last time”, which he did. Both of us now attuned to the expedition card track, the game came down to a) auctioning, b) luck founding colonies, c) luck with expedition cards, d) general play.

a) Was still mine, but only by a small margin. I got a complete set of tiles in one round, Yitzchak did slightly better later. One mistake he made was that he thought the ducats tile was one per round instead of 4 per round, so he let me have it cheap.

b) Was also, mine, although I did fail once, and he didn’t try often. By making failure equal 2 colonists instead of one, there is never a double failure, which is a huge boost to the game. On the oother hand, colonists lose a bit of value, and you have more at the end – you also had some left over in the original rules. I would like to do something about that, as it bothers me.

c) Was Yitzchak’s by far. I got “progress using cash” in a very cash light game (this card should be changed for two player games), and “flip extra card for a colony” when I already had 4 colonies. Meanwhile, Yitzchak was “last round I harvested, let’s buy a card – oh look, give me two ships.” again and again, getting just what he needed.

d) Was still impossible to say. No one has done an analysis yet of how a move affects the entire game play. It seems pretty balanced, and actually, not a very important part of the game, but can’t really make up my mind about this.

On the last round, Yitzchak put down the flag such that the other two items would be spices. He paid everything to get the flag and action card, giving me platation 1 for 0 ducats, and plantation 2 for 1 ducat. I was left with 18 ducats.

I had the “progress using cash” card, which I could finally use, but if I did, I would be left with 0 ducats to his 1, swinging 3 points from me to him for most ducats, so I couldn’t even use it. Instead I harvested, progressed once and took expedition cards. Naturally I got the 5 ducat bonus card.

Puerto Rico

Jon 56, Yitzchak 53

A short game than the other meaty two player games, the only changes we made were: Hospice (move colonists onto it), University comes with colonist, Small Wharf instead of Large Warehouse.

In a two player game, we have discovered that an early Harbour is basically game, and that’s what Yitzchak did. The rest of my game was trying to deal with that, and I cam up with some pretty nifty tricks to do it, if I may say so myself.

For instance, Yitzchak was producing only corn and indigo, and I managed to lock him out completely from trading, by trading those myself. This gave him extra dubloons on the other roles, however. Still, I stopped him from getting big buildings earlier.

Second, I locked the ships, either with only 1 empty space each, or with my goods. He got a wharf, but again missed out on a big building to do so.

Lastly, his one big building he got, but couldn’t man before the end of the game, as I ended the game by placing goods that he could ship, forcing the victory points to run out. And I did some pretty good shipping myself. With all that, I still only won by 3 points, which just goes to show you that Harbor needs to be changed in two player.


Aug 18, 2004

Participants: Jon, Shlomo, Yitzchak, Ben, David K

8 1/2

I got this slight card game from Haim Shafir himself, the designer; he asked me to give it a try, as he is proud of it. Haim has invented over 40 games, including Taki, a variation of Uno (he says, a variation of crazy eights, of which Uno is also a variation), which is an immensely popular and successful game in Israel, the way Uno is in America.

Being a strategy gamer, and not a Taki player, I admit I wasn’t expecting much. I just wanted to see if it compared favourably to Taki and Uno, those sorts of games.

The game is basically: put three cards in your hand, three face down on the table, three face up on top of those, the rest next to you. Play cards higher than the card in the pool from your hands and draw cards. If you can’t play higher, you eat the pool. Some cards have special meanings: 1/2 is played on anything, 5 means next card has to be lower, zero resets, etc… When you are out of hand and deck cards, you play your face up cards, and then your face down cards, blindly.

The group reaction was … how to put this tactfully … not very receptive. We didn’t understand what the point of playing blindly was, and why, unlike Taki, where the rules were basically straightforward, so many rules seemed so arbitrary and not printed on the cards, in any case. And there were a few rules problems, and some falling behind with a bad hand problems. It could be I misunderstood the rules.

I kind of liked the 1/2 card gimmick and the game will probably find its audience in the general population. It’s not my cup of tea.

Puerto Rico

Ben 48 (+7), Jon 48 (+2), Shlomo 47, Yitzchak 45, David K 37

David K very much wanted to try to break my version of Forest House (2/1/Settler Take a forest, pay 1 less for buildings for each forest after the first). His plan was to Settle every round until he had 11 forests, and then buy 5 big buildings, or something like that.

Other changed buildings we played with:

  • Surveyor’s House: 2/1/Settler take any plantation you want from the supply, instead of what’s up. This proved to be useless during the game, as all the coffees and corns came out very quickly.
  • Mine: 4/2/Builder pay 1 less for buildings. Redundant in a game with Forest House, but still a nice building
  • Small Wharf
  • Large General Production Building: 8/3/Craftsman (2 circles) each circle counts as any desired production (matched with a plantation). Not bought early enough to be of use, and David K kept stealing the only available coffee and turning it into a forest, anyhow.
  • Beurocracy: 10/7/End Game: At the end of any round, you may trade/build if trader/builder was taken this round and you didn’t already. This is a great building (normally) for 5 player, as it means you can trade after the trading house empties and then buy a building you couldn’t afford earlier. David K got it, but never made use of it.

I was first, Shlomo (only his 2nd or 3rd game) second, Yitzchak 3rd, Ben 4th, David K 5th.

I got early quarry, corns and Harbor, and shipped early and often, leaving myself enough money to get one big building, but not the sugar mill I needed.

Shlomo got nothing but shipping, producing 3 sugars, 3 corns and an indigo early on, and then 3 tobacco soon followed. Shipped more than me, but less building points as he missed out on a big building.

Yitzchak got the first of several tobaccos and a nice factory going, and he got custom’s house, to take it away from me.

Ben got a factory and tobacco, too. I never figure out how he manages to beat me, but he did it again, taking city hall (for a whole 6 point bonus) and the other forest house (up to +2 benefit).

David K took forest house on the first round, and settled every round for 9 rounds. He got 8 forests, after which there weren’t any plantations left to be had. He got only two big buildings, since we all had enough for one anyway. He had no production, and although he had the only coffee working it was too late to use it effectively.

Goa

Ended early, voting Jon the winner (David K, Yitzchak, Ben, Jon)

A very hungry crew ate our very late dinner, after the hamburger place cancelled our order after an hour (they ran out of bread), and the shnitzel place took another 45 minutes.

We taught Ben his first game, and he hates auction games, since he’s not very good at them. Somehow, I pulled out a good lead in round 1. I was first flag auctioner, and I went on to win two of the tiles in the first round.

Our bidding is lower than the accepted standards, and when it is lower in general, you have to adjust your thinking, or you end up down versus other players. Nevertheless, for some reason it always seemed to be up to me to make the sole bid on an item, and I usually managed to hit just the painful spot where it is better to give it to me than to take it.

We all progressed as far as possible in expedition cards; I hit level 4 first, David K level 5 first. I was also at level 4 in another track and had the 4 point tile. It was getting late, so they threw it in and declared me the winner. Good auctioning goes a long way.

We played with two rule changes:

  • You get two colonists if you fail the colonize attempt. Works great, as it eliminates the critical double fail on the first turn, yet doesn’t devaluate colonists too much.
  • ;Money track progression for 4 player game goes 4/6/10/16/24 . This could be a good change (suggested by Alex), but still didn’t tempt anyone to take the track, at least, not by round 6.

See you next week on Tuesday.


Aug 04, 2004

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak

A slow month at the JSGC, as you can see. Everyone is on vacation. In other news, I had a chat with Haim Shafir, designer of Taki and other games. He knows all the top designers personally, and was very nice to talk to about our club, game designs, etc…

Goa

Jon 50, Yitzchak 39

I’ve been scoring higher and higher since following the online advice about the expedition card track, but a lot of it is still luck. I ended with a set of 3 and a set of 2. The last game I played I had 6 cards with only one match. When you add it all up, the difference is really only 4 points (5 unmatched vs full house), so I still would have won.

This is despite: failing TWO attempts at my first colony (yes indeed, I pulled 2/1 and then 1/1) and pulling the least helpful cards imaginable (pay ships and no spices when I had a huge surplus of spices and no ships, that sort of thing). The thing is, while they may not be useful right away, you just plan around them a little longer and they will end up being useful later, usually. I saved my spices and then traded them for cash, instead of taking a cash action. That sort of thing.

The real reason I won was that Yitzchak lost the auctions, not quite bidding when he should have and leaving himself only 2 GP going into one auction. I had played a lot more, so it was a learning experience. I also discovered that the valuation used by Jim and Alex (BGG) just doesn’t work unless all players agree to it. We had so little money, that items went for 3 or 4 throughout the game. It was often a best move to buy your own tiles. Two player games are like that. With so little money in the game, it was easy to corner your opponent into Faustian deals with a little planning.

Puerto Rico

Jon 68, Yitzchak 51

Another first for Yitzchak, first time playing 2 player PR. I opened with Settler/quarry and my third building was Harbor. Yitzchak again didn’t produce enough, took too many quarries and took a Hospice. He had one more big building, but I shipped 38 to his 18.

Next time we hope for more people to join us!


Jul 29, 2004

Participants: Jon, David K, Nadine

Goa

Jon 44, David K 40, Nadine 29

It is getting harder to find players during the summer as everyone goes abroad. We couldn’t get a game up on Wed, and just barely eked out a game tonight when David K said he could come after all, if late. Nadine was on standby and came by to make a third.

I’ve been involved in several online discussions trying to figure out if there really is a game strategy behind Goa, or if it all a smokescreen of lots of actions and busy work but everyone goes forward by about the same amount from turn to turn. Jim convinced me that there is more to the game.

It is probably the most subtle game there is. Unlike PoF where a winning auction can be a dramatic victory or mistake, in Goa a dramatic victory means you won a third of an action or so more than your opps, and you have to keep parlaying that each round carefully.

That would be fine, except the luck factor, card drawing and colony building throws the game out by a factor of an action or two either way. Nadine kept trying to build colonies and kept failing, even when the odds were clearly in her favour. No amount of subtle play is going to overcome that. If the balance was reversed, I think the game would be more solid. I just can’t deal with winning/losing based on five cards, all different symbols.

My game this time was the expedition track, as per Jim’s suggestion of opening with 2 reds and a black, one colony, two levels in expeditions, followed by two expedition cards. Drawn cards were: pay money to advance (useless), trade spices for money (useless). Sigh.

Despite this, the track eventually made good, and I managed to get all colonies, advancing only one in the colonist track (and only to get the free action anyway), and ignoring the cash track (got it from good auctioning and the red cash tile) and the harvest track (got spices from cards, plantations and colonies). Finished my expedition track, shipping track and colonies, and some mismatched bonuses. I also did pretty well in the bidding.

David got severely hampered by lack of production types, missing black and white, and eventually he just tried for colonies until he got the wild one. He ended with 3 tracks finished (shipping, money, expedition on the last round), but not much else. David’s first game, so he bid a little wildly on some tiles, but this is his forte, so he did pretty well anyway.

Nadine messed up some bidding by buying her own tiles twice, and never getting the flag. Still the number of times she just missed getting colonies was ridiculous.

While interesting, the game still doesn’t quite get me in the gut. The progression is very slow, and there is no game ending oomph like in PR, PoF and other games. Still like playing it, though.

David Here: I actually enjoyed Goa a lot. After the first game I was gung ho about ordering one for myself. Over the weekend though I gave the game a lot of thought and I believe it is “broken”. Now, since all players face the same choices, it is not truly broken, but I do believe that there is one strategy that will wipe the floor against other competing strategies. In other words, as opposed to Jon’s first take on the game that there are *no* effective strategies, I believe that there is one, fairly unique, strategy. Unfortunately, if I am correct the game becomes quite boring…

In any case, I am dying to try my strategy out next time.

Ooops, just reread a part of the rules. My strategy isn’t so hot after all. Need to give the whole thing some more thought. Still, that’s all for the better.


Jul 21, 2004

Participants: Jon, Ben, Nadine, Yitzchak, Rachel A

Many of our regulars are away on summer vacation, and Nadine is going soon, too. I have placed a new advertisement on Janglo. If you know others who want to play, send ’em over.

Taj Mahal

Ben 52, Nadine 45, Jon 44, Yitzchak 43

I had a hankering to play this again, as I really enjoyed it and last time we got four rules wrong:

  • That the bonus cards can be played once per turn until someone else takes it from you, and not once and then discarded.
  • That someone who withdraws from the bidding without bidding anything gains a bonus card
  • That the “+1” tile is +1 card, not +1 VP
  • That the cards in your hand count as bonus points (one color + white) at the end of the game.

The first three of these are a great improvement to the game. The last I didn’t really like; there is a large element of luck involved, and it presents an uninteresting choice at the end of the game where you may earn the same number of points either playing or not playing your cards.

In any case, I took a large first lead, earning the purple bonus card (+1 elephant) early on and acquiring great commodities. Yitzchak was not far behind. Ben and Nadine were in last and resigned to stay that way. Ben got the yellow bonus card and began inching up with 2 points a turn. He played it 6 or 7 times by game end.

Then I stalled on rounds six and seven, hoping to regroup for the remaining rounds, and Ben passed me during this process. Two of the subsequent rounds I just played the wrong cards, and having been an early leader, Yitzchak aimed to take me out instead of Ben, resulting in him and me both falling behind, while Ben picked up steam. I had one leap ahead, but not enough as Ben passed us and ended with an 8 point bonus from his hand points.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 53 (+9), Rachel 53 (+7), Ben 51, Jon 50, Yitzchak 42

Rachel was supposed to be working, but she insisted she needed a break and both she and Yitzchak want to play Puerto Rico. None of us regretted it, as this was as good a game as any we had played. It just never gets boring, even with five players and so little control.

Building changes:

  • Hospice: when bought, you may move a colonist onto it
  • Trading House instead of Office
  • Scavenger Yard instead of Large Warehouse. You may collect any one players total discards (you may choose your own) minus all of their corn and one other barrel.
  • University: comes with a colonist on it

Player order:

  1. Jon
  2. Nadine
  3. Yitzchak
  4. Rachel
  5. Ben

Rounds –

  1. Round 1
    • Jon/Settler. Jon takes quarry, Nadine takes corn, Yitzchak takes coffee, Rachel takes sugar, Ben takes indigo
    • Nadine/Builder. Nadine takes Sm market, Yitzchak takes Sm market, Rachel takes Sm sugar, Ben takes Sm indigo, Jon passes
    • Yitzchak/Prospector. This was a bad move as it let Rachel get an early sugar production going.
    • Rachel/Mayor. Rachel mans her sugar/sugar, Ben and Nadine man corn
    • Ben/Prospector.
  2. Round 2
    • Nadine/Settler. Nadine takes a quarry, Yitchak takes ?, Rachel takes a Tobacco, Ben takes a Corn, Jon takes an Indigo. Rachel is to maintain a deathhold monopoly on Tobacco for the entire game.
    • Yitzchak/Trader. For the coin. Yitzchak will have a huge cash shortage for the entore game, despite several quarries. He never produces more than a corn and an indigo or so.
    • Rachel/Craftsman. Of course, for the sugar.
    • Ben/Captain. Of course, for the gold and vp’s.
    • Jon/Builder. Jon builds a Large indigo (for 1 GP), Nadine builds Sm indigo, Yitzchak builsing Hospice and moves his useless colonist onto it, Rachel passes, Ben builds ?
  3. Round 3
    • Yitzchak/Prospector. +1 GP. Most prospectors taken had +1 GP on them this game.
    • Rachel/Prospector. +1 GP
    • Ben/Mayor. Ben is now producing two indigo’s, as is Jon.
    • Jon/Settler. Jon takes the only coffee available. Jon will be the only one producing coffee for quite a while, which is almost as good for his as Rachel’s Tobacco is for her, but she locks up a boat for Tobacco for half the game. Ben and Nadine take Sugars, Yitzchak gets a second Coffee (and doesn’t produce any until the last round of the game), Rachel takes a second Tobacco.
    • Nadine/Builder. Nadine builds Sm sugar, Yitzchak builds Sm indigo, Rachel builds Tobacco (and the scary music starts), Ben builds Sm sugar?, Jon takes a free Sm indigo (waiting for Coffee)
  4. Round 4
    • Rachel/Mayor. Rachel now has working tobacco, sugar and corns. Ben and Nadine also have sugar. Nadine and Yitzchak have Small markets.
    • Ben/Builder. Ben builds an early Factory. Jon passes. Don’t remember the rest.
    • Jon/Trader. For the GP, and anticipating some trading coming up.
    • Nadine/Craftsman. Nadine has sugar, indigo and corn. Rachel has tobacco, sugar and corn. Ben has indigo and corn. Jon had indigo. Yitzchak has an indigo.
    • Yitzchak/Captain. Knowinf Ben will do it if he doesn’t, and he gets the GP. Rachel saves her tobacco.
  5. Round 5
    • Ben/Settler. Quarry for Ben, Jon inidigo. Rachel took another tobacco, and no one else did.
    • Jon/Prospector.
    • Nadine/Prospector.
    • Yitzchak/Mayor.
    • Rachel/Trader. Trades a tobacco, when noone else has anything. Couldn’t have been captained, as boats had corn, indigo and sugar on them.
  6. Round 6
    • Jon/Builder. Jon has a fistful of cash and a quarry, and he builds a Coffee. Others have coffee plantations but can’t get to Coffee for a while. Nadine builds Harbor! and proceeds to smackdown on shipping for the rest of the game. Rachel builds Small warehouse, and at this point I realize that although Scavanger Yard can be a great building, it is useless when all of your opps have warehouses or wharves, which is what happens this game. They remain unbought.
    • Nadine/Mayor. To man her Harbor.
    • Yitzchak/Settler. Finally uses the Hospice to get a manned quarry.
    • Rachel/Craftsman.
    • Ben/Captain. Same situation Yitzchak was in earlier; better he take it than Nadine take it next phase. Jon is left with a coffee.
  7. Round 7
    • Nadine/Prospector
    • Yitzchak/Prospector. Still trying to get money
    • Rachel/Captain. Starting her infernal tobacco boat, saved with her Sm warehouse.
    • Ben/Trader. To prevent Jon from getting two extra GP’s. He trades his coffee.
    • Jon/Mayor. Jon is now producing two indigos and two coffees Yitzchak spends the rest of the game with many colonists on San Juan.
  8. Round 8
    • Yitzchak/Builder. Builds a Harbor. Jon builds a Trading House so he can trade coffee at will. Nadine builds a Sm warehouse.
    • Rachel/Craftsman. No craftsman fear here, except she is still getting less points than Nadine during shipping.
    • Ben/Trader. He trades sugar, Jon trades indigo.
    • Jon/Settler. Takes another quarry. Still noone takes tabacco.
    • Nadine/Mayor. Mans several goods and Sm warehouse.
  9. Round 9
    • Rachel/Trader. She trades sugar (to prevent Nadine from trading it), Ben trades indigo, I trade Coffee, Nadine trades corn. Yitzchak is locked out.
    • Ben/Builder. I don’t remember, but Jon takes Wharf I believe. Nadine buys Lg Sugar.
    • Jon/Prospector.
    • Nadine/Captain. Lots of VP’s
    • Yitzchak/Prospector.
  10. Round 10
    • Ben/Craftsman
    • Jon/Mayor. With Wharf and Trading House, Jon no longer cares about shipping space or trading space. Now he is working on big buildings.
    • Nadine/Captain.
    • Yiztchak/Settler. Still hoping that manned quarries will do him some good.
    • Rachel/Trader or Builder. Can’t remember.
  11. Round 11
    • Jon/Trader. Coffee. Jon is now the only one who can reach a big building.
    • Nadine/Builder. Nadine buys something, and Jon acquires Guild Hall.
    • Yitzchak/Prospector. Still trying to get a big building by game end.
    • Rachel/Captain. With leftovers from Sm warehouse. The boats are all sugar, indigo and corn, which suits Nadine just fine.
    • Ben/Mayor.
  12. Round 12
    • Nadine/Prospector. Also wants a big building by game end, and trying to make up for her last build.
    • Yitzchak/Settler. Hoping a third manned quarry will do the trick.
    • Rachel/Craftsman.
    • Ben/Trader. Still locking out Yitzchak. Jon trades Coffee one more time.
    • Jon/Builder. Jon buys Fortess, much to Yitzchak’s chagrin. Ben gets Residence.
  13. Round 13
    • Yitzchak/Trader. Trades an inidgo and fills up the House.
    • Rachel/Craftsman.
    • Ben/Settler. A point for residence. Someone besides Rachel takes their first tobacco plantation.
    • Jon/Mayor. Points for Fortress.
    • Nadine/Captain
  14. Round 14
    • Rachel/Captain. Leftovers from Sm warehouse
    • Ben/Prospector.
    • Jon/Builder. Not much to do, so buys tobacco.
    • Nadine/Craftsman.
    • Yitzchak/Trader. Finally has enough for a big building. So does Rachel. Nadine will be one shy.
  15. Round 15
    • Ben/Settler. For the point.
    • Jon/Mayor. For the point.
    • Nadine/Captain.
    • Yitzchak/Builder. He takes City Hall, Rachel takes Custom’s House.
    • Rachel/Prospector
  16. Round 16
    • Jon/Captain. Finishes up shipping points, and prevents any major shipping later in the round. Might have done better building or mayoring.
    • Nadine/Craftsman. A key play, gives her more goods than anyone else, and winning the tie at the end of the game.
    • Yitzchak/Builder. To pump City Hall. Jon doesn’t have enough to buy Lg sugar.
    • Rachel/Prospector. I think.
    • Ben/Settler. Filling in his last Residence point.

And Nadine, with no big buildings, has 38 shipping points (to Jon’s 13, who has 2 big buildings), and beats Rachel on the tie.

Comment from Nadine: It was very close, any of the top 4 could have won depending on how things went at the very end. I didn’t know it was possible to do well without a big building — I didn’t have enough money because certain people went out of their way to block me from trading sugar the whole game, when they had Tobacco and Coffee monopolies!

Bridge

Ben/Rachel 3240, Jon/Nadine 100

A few hands of bridge to round off the evening, found Ben and Rachel with hand after hand slamdunking Jon and Nadine.

    Second rubber: B/R: 4 spades (450), 4 hearts (650). J/N – set B/R once, for (100)

  • Third rubber, first half: B/R: 3 hearts making 4 (170), set J/N once (50), 4 spades (450)

Proverbial towel is then thrown in.

See you next week.


Jul 14, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Rachel A, Saarya

Tonight we only got to one game, Goa, which we tried starting at about 6:35, spent about 20 minute rereading the rules I thought I had understood, and actually started around 7:00. We finished at about 10:30, at which point we ended the evening.

SUMMARY

Goa is enjoyable, in my opinion a cross between Princes of Florence and Cities and Knights of Catan. It ranks below Puerto Rico and Tigris and Euphates, but above PoF, etc…

Like PoF, there are a number of defined rounds, with items up for auction, followed by each player getting a certain number of actions. In Goa, there are 8 rounds, which are all indistiguishable, except that there are 25 items up for auction in the first 4 rounds, followed by 25 different ones in the next 4 rounds.

ACTIONS

There are 6 types of actions:

  • Take ships (free)
  • Take spices (free) (there are five types)
  • Take money (free)
  • Take cards (free)
  • Take colonies (pay colonists)
  • Move up one progression track (pay spices and ships)

Each player has in front of them five progession tracks. Each player starts off on the first space of the track and can progress up to the fifth and last space.

If you are on the first space of the ships track, you get 1 ship during the “Take ships” action. If you are on the second space, 2 ships, etc… The second track determines how many spices you get if you “Take spices” (if you have space to produce them), the third track how much money for “Take money”.

The fourth track determines how many cards for “Take cards”, as well as your hand limit. Cards do things like give you free ships, free money, or free colonists, or reduce your payment for progression on the tracks. If you don’t play them, they are worth victory points. Cards also have a “colonist” count on them which is irrelevent in your hand.

The fifth track determines how many colonists to add to your attempt to get a colony during “Take colony”. For colonies, there are 4 types available, and you may acquire 1 of each type. Each one comes with 1 or 2 spaces for producing multiple types of spices, and comes prefilled with spices to boot. Each costs some number of colonists. When you “Take colony”, you add up the number of colonists on your colony track, the number of colonists flipped over in two cards from the deck, and the number of colonists you toss from your hand. If it equals the price, you got your colony. Otherwise you acquire a colonist as a consolation prize, which makes the action easier next time.

You can “Move up one progression track” by paying combinations of ships and spices. Different spices are needed for each track progression, and 1 ship is needed for each spice. If you are the first to reach 4th or 5th space in a particular track (sound familiar?), you gain a free expedition cards. Once all of your markers are out of their first, second, … spaces, you gain free action cards.

Free action card are usuable once.

AUCTIONS

The are numerous tiles available in a 5×5 grid, each of which does something different. The most common ones are plantations that gives you 1, 2 or 3 spaces for producing a single type of spice. The others give you free ships, free colonists, free victory points, free cards, free spices, or free actions during the round. A few other are more complicated, but that’s about it. The auction is the only time you need money.

Which tiles are available is done in a gimmicky way of the person holding the “I’m first” tile placing it down with his marker on it next to a tile, followed by other places putting there markers down one by one on tiles adjacent to the last played marker.

There will be 5 auctions: one for the “I’m first” tile, which comes with a free action token, and one for each player (so less if you’re playing with less players). You can win none, one or all of them. Bidding is once around, with the marker holder placing the first and last bid. If you win the bid, you pay the marker owner. If you’re the marker owner, you pay the bank.

WINNING

Victory points are:

  • 0,1,3,6,10 points for each marker on the progression track in space number 1,2,3,4,5.
  • 0,1,3,6,10 points for having 0,1,2,3,4 colonies
  • Bonus points for cards in your hand. Each card has a symbol in the corner, and you get 0,1,3,6,10,… points for having 0,1,2,3,4,… cards of that symbol.
  • A few bonus points from tiles
  • 3 bonus points for most gold

The gamebook is not up to the standards of other game manuals I have read. Information about the development track is not all under “Development track”, but scattered around in random places. It was halfway through the game before I found the rule about free action cards on the development track. The symbol is on the board, but it is inscrutable as to why, until you know why. There were other problems like this.

There are numerous rule ambiguities, such as the misuse of the words “immediately”, when you can use your free items and other abilities from the tiles, etc… etc… Some manual writer or rules designer needs a slap on the wrist. And BTW, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why this isn’t a five player game.

Like PoF, you need to deal with what you get from the auction, and plan a game strategy around it. Like C&K, progression gives you more vps, better production and more bonus cards. If you like these games, you will like Goa. If you didn’t like C&K you might still like Goa, because there’s less luck, less falling behind for the whole game, and less screwing your opp. If you didn’t like PoF, you might still like Goa, because there’s less serenity and more choices, and the auction is more involving.

Anyway, we started off our game with me starting on the spice track, Yizchak on the money track, Rachel (who had to leave for a half hour and was replaced by Saarya) on the colony building track and Nadine also on the colonist track, but somehow not building them until late game. Yitzchak proved the value of money once again, by using his money to win several of the auction tiles, each of which is worth, when you think about it, about 1-3 free actions. I seemed to have money problems which kept me behind a bit.

Rachel/Saarya then progressed in balance to end at spaces, 3,3,3,4,4 and a complete set of colonies. Yitzchak, Nadine and I all had 5th level in one track. In the end, it was a tie game of Rachel/Saarya and Yitzchak, with Rachel winning the tie by having 2 more gold. Perversely enough, I ended with the most money. I blew away a few actions trying to get matching expedition cards, and could’t draw a third card with the same symbol to save my life.

Final scores: Rachel/Saarya 33 (9 gold), Yitzchak 33 (7 gold), Jon 27, Nadine 27.

See you next week.


Jul 07, 2004

Participants: Jon, David K, Nadine, Rachel A, Yitzchak, Saarya

Through the Desert

David K 67, Jon 65

David K showed up a little early, so we started off with one of the new games. As often happens, I lost the first game I taught a new player; actually I lost every game tonight, all of which I taught. C’est la vie.

As I had suspected, enclosing territory comes into play more in a two or three player game than in the five player game. Still the game is vastly different from Go, in that a) you can’t drop your piece anywhere on the board, and b) the game has a short and controlled end. David started off with what looked like a huge area of control on one side of the board, but at the end, all of my little places added up to his big one. Still, he managed to lead in three of the five colors, which game him the 10 point bonus he needed to win the game.

San Juan

David K 38, Jon 33

I really like this game, and I suspect I like it more than anyone else here. Most of the players in our game group seem to feel the need to note that it has more luck than Puerto Rico and that it is not “as good” as Puerto Rico, and that it is not as deep a game as Puerto Rico. None of this bothers me. San Juan is a great game despite the fact that it is not “as good” as Puerto Rico, because it fills a different need. The way a good hamburger fills a different need from a chocolate cookie. I wouldn’t want a hamburger for a snack, and I wouln’t want a cookie for a meal. If nothing else, San Juan fills that great space when two people are waiting for a game to finish.

I also think that there is a lot less luck than there is made out to be. Yes, you will always draw different hands, and you can never count on drawing one particular card that you want, but it is not so common to draw only bad cards, or only cards you can’t play.

Bad luck would be getting:

  • only duplicates of what you have
  • cards too expensive to build, one after another
  • a fistful of only the bad cards, which are:
    • Indigo, Sugar and Tobacco. Sugar is twice as expensive as Indigo, for 1.4 times the value in gold, and no bonus in VPs. Tobacco is a little better, in that it gives you a bonus VP, but it can never give you 3 gold, Coffee is much better here, and Silver, while not much better than Coffee, is at least worth another VP. REVISION 12/07/2004: I believe I have underestimated Tobacco and overestimated Coffee. See my analysis on the Geek for more info …
    • Archive. I just can’t see this ever really being worth it, as any given hand is useful for building one building and maybe saving one card that you want. The situation where this matters would be very rare. And I hate wasting space on my board for rarely useful 1 VP buildings. In general, buildings that don’t give you a bonus in gold or VP’s are not as useful as those that do.
    • Poor House. While potentially useful, there are better cards in this class, and I hope not to count on having no cards in my hand this often, if I can help it.
    • Black Market. Is on the borderline. It definitely seems worthwhile, and is the most likely to be so, but I have to count on having poor production buildings to begin with to find this useful. It shines when it can save a building phase for you. REVISION 12/07/2004: Also probably underestimated. Have to try this again.
    • Crane. When you think about it, aside from wasting the building phase it took to get out this one point building, all this does is turn all of your big buildings into small buildings. The only conceivable use for it would be when you already have 11 buildings and have time enough to improve your buildings before the game ends. Woo hoo. REVISION 12/07/2004: Lots of people seem to think that this is a good buy, and their explanations always follow: it lets you build every round, it lets you build buildings without ending the game, it lets you get nice buildings for cheap over other buildings you don’t want, etc… Sorry, I don’t buy a word of it. I challenge anyone to show me a step by step building log through a complete game of San Juan where this building was the right choice.
    • Triumphal Arch. Also on the border. Think of it as a 6 cost building worth 2 VP, that gives you 2 points for each monument you build, up to a maximum of 3 monument. This hardly compares with Guild Hall or City Hall. Again, on the edge, and I wouldn’t throw it out if I had already built mounments, but doesn’t seem worthwhile as a strategy if it can at all be avoided. REVISION 12/07/2004: Note that I never said that I wouldn’t build it. It’s a Bad Card because it is simply a weaker version of City Hall. For those of you who say that 3 monuments + Triumphal Arch is worth 20 points, my answer is yes, but 3 monuments + City Hall is worth more than 20 points. It is just a bad design. See alternates I suggested on the Geek.

The best cards:

  • Trading Post
  • Well
  • Market Stand
  • Aqueduct
  • Prefecture. The best, as it gives a direct bonus GP.
  • Market Hall
  • Library. Turns every phase into a bonus VP. Does take a round or two to recover from building it.
  • Guild Hall / City Hall. One or both necessary for victory.
  • REVISION 12/07/2004: Add the gold producing “building phase” buildings, such as Quarry, Smithy, Carpenter, etc…

In our game, I built an early Gold Mine, and flipped, flipped, flipped … 8 times. Didn’t win once. David K brought out an early Library, and I saw immediately that unless I did the same, that was going to be game. Luckily I had one also, but mine cost me more in terms of initiative. David had many early 2 and 3 point buildings where I had 1 point buildings and Library. I did slowly work my way up and even passed him, but in the end he dropped a City Hall to make 12 buildings and I couldn’t build anything.

Now stop here, all you game purists. One of the reasons that San Juan is not as deep a game as Puerto Rico is that there is only building, no shipping, and there is no competition for resources, such as colonists, trading space or shipping space. But why?

It seems so trivial to me to remove the Councellor phase, which doesn’t really do much, and add the Captain phase.

Captain: place one of your goods under your production building for a VP. Captain may place two of his goods. Only one good of each type can be shipped each round. Which means that as captain, I place my Indigo and Tobacco under my buildings for two VP’s, and you have a choice of shipping your Coffee or trading it later. Makes the Sugar Mill a much better investment, and we can then get rid of two cards, the very weak Archive and the very Strong Prefecture, and replace them with some new buildings:

  • Hold (1,1): ship a duplicate of a good already shipped this turn (including your own)
  • Harbor (3,2): Gain a card from the deck when you ship at least 1 good

and easy enough to add corresponding buildings like trading post, etc… for shipping. One could also test the Trading phase to exclude other from trading anything already traded this round (perhaps so long as bonus trades only come after each player has traded at least once). REVISION 12/07/2004: Discussion continued on the Geek.

Puerto Rico + expansions

Yitzchak 60, Rachel 52, Nadine 51, Jon 47, David K 33

David won everything else he played tonight, but he got creamed here. Yitzchak, in his first game with expansions managed to pull a Ben, playing in a way which gave everybody else bonuses (he let Rachel, Nadine and David K get great trades), yet still managing to pull off a victory, getting two big buildings and reasonable shipping points.

I was sitting to Yitzchak’s right, so I never saw any of these benefits, but Nadine and David to my right both managed to get Tobacco and Coffee going before I could; if I had known that would happen, I would have skipped both and gone for Large Market. As it was, it was too late for me to recoup my investments. I think I traded one sugar the whole game. I did manage to get the most shipping points and one big building, but it wasn’t near enough.

David K crafted with Library a few times and didn’t manage to get a single bonus good out of it; he produced 3 types of goods, and those were exactly the goods that weren’t available by the time it came back to him.

Tigris and Euphrates

David K 9, Jon 6, Nadine/Saarya 5, Yitzchak 4

We had actually borrowed this game from Yaron more than a year ago, before our becoming a club. I remember losing a lot, and that David K beat me once 6/6/6/7 to 6/6/6/6 . Tonight was our first play with the new purchase.

I thought I could explain the game as simply as Through the Desert, but, while the play is almost as simple, the rules are more complex, and the strategy is a hundred fold more complex. Through the Desert may have many agonizing decisions, but the implications are not that hard to see. Here, the implications continuously perplex, and I had to explain the same rules again and again. I had the same problem; I didn’t need the rules explained again, but I made moves without realizing the full implications before it was too late.

I had no idea how I was doing near the end of the game. I had 4 points, and for all I knew others had 2 or 8. I didn’t know. I figured if I got to 7 or 8 I would be ok. Two notable events: Yitzchak built a monument. I warned him that monuments attract conflicts, but he decided to try it to see what would happen. He got points for it the round he put it down, and for no rounds thereafter. The second event was my joining the two huge middle kingdoms toward the end of the game. Aside from not fully seeing the implications, it still would have been successful except that David K pulled out 3 red tiles to tie me, giving him 4 points in red and 3 points in green, the two colors he was shy in. I ended up +1 point all around, but he ended up +2 or 3 all around, which firmly gave him the lead.

Last time around we played this game, the feeling was that the group didn’t really understand it. This time, after many other Eurogames, the group really did like it, and I think we will be playing it again, and hopefully often.

January to June 2004



Jun 30, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Tal, Saarya, Alan, Yitzchak

A huge thank you to Alan who brought us our game order from the U.S. New games:

  • San Juan (2 copies)
  • Through the Desert
  • Tigris and Euphates
  • El Grande Expansions
  • Goa

as well as Attika and Puerto Rico for Yaron and Yitzchak. And thanks to Sharon, Yitzchak, Nadine and David K for contributing. Any others still welcome (hint hint).

We unwrapped and started a game of San Juan at 6:35, Yitzchak came as we started playing, and watched.

San Juan

Tal/Nadine: 34, Jon: 33, Saarya: 30, Alan: 25

San Juan is a card game that is nothing like Puerto Rico, except for some chrome, some artwork, and some of its round mechanism. Even the round mechanism, which involves governor, roles, etc… does not feel the same, since the order of who does what is completely irrelevent.

The game feels somewhat like the building part of Citadels minus all the bad parts: no assassination and no boring buildings. The building are all complicated, which means interactions between them are fun and challenging to remember each turn. It would have been nice if they were all patterned or colored by phase, so you could check which buildings apply each phase (they do say in block letters on the card).

The biggest problem seemed to be that the person who builds the most big buildings wins, followed by the next most, etc… That was what happened to us. However, like Prince of Florence, where everyone has the opportunity to bid up the Jesters, it seems likely that unless you never see a big building the whole game, most people will have a fairly good chance at building some of these buildings.

Of course, we didn’t really know what we were doing, so the game was wild. Eventually, the team of Tal and Nadine scored two big buildings (City Hall for 10 and the monument guy for 6), I scored City Hall for 9 and two Chapels for +2 each, Saarya had Palace for 6, and Alan had Palace for 5.

Definitely want to play this a few dozen times more. Everyone asked me when I’ll start making new cards 🙂

Through the Desert

Yitzchak: 64, Jon: 64, Saarya: 63, Alan: 41, Tal: 38

The crown of our purchase was this game, available for a few minutes on [http://www.timewellspent.org] . Tigris and Euphrates will also see play, but this one is still OOP, and therefore a better catch. I don’t think we’ll end up playing the third Knizia biggie, Samurai, seeing as one third of the pieces are Buddha figurines. 😦

Through the Desert is described as multiplayer Go, but it’s not really. Yes, you are placing pieces to section off areas, but that is a small part of the game; also, one of the main elements of Go is that you can place a piece anywhere on the board, which you can’t in TtD, which means the play is totally different.

You can score points by stepping on puddles, touching trees, and playing the most camels of a color. The sectioning off is not a huge factor in a five player game (probably a lot more so in 2 or 3 player).

Starting with no familiarity with the game, Saarya ended up with a strong sectioning off position on three corners/sides. Yitzchak abandoned two of his camels, allowing him to score big in two colors, while I had the ridge area and one color. I also managed to hit all the oases once. Then we remembered you could hit them once for each color, but the game ended before I could get in one more.

Amun Re

Yitzchak: 38, Alan: 34, Jon: 29, Saarya: 28, Nadine: 23

This was Yitzchak’s evening, as I introduced him and Alan and Nadine to Amun Re, since all of the spanking new games were made for 4 players.

I had run after run of phenomenally bad luck with the cards, drawing nothing but bidding cards and duplicates of useless scoring cards for my first several cards, after which I couldn’t afford anything anymore. I capped it by drawing 3 cards in the last round, all the same (meaning that I could only play one) and playing a scoring card which didn’t mean what I thought it did (I thought it meant all one side of the Nile, but it meant all next to or away from the Nile).

I still managed third by a squeak; mostly because I fully understood the scoring mechanisms better than the others, so they didn’t fight me for most pyramids on one side of the Nile (they also ended up with some useless cards, not realizing fully that they couldn’t play duplicates). Nadine finished the first half with only one point. Yitzchak fought me for most pyramids in the second half, but I made it more worth his while to complete his sets, which he did. Alan fought bravely, but was also outdone by Yitzchak in a crucial brick battle.

And now we say goodbye to Alan for a year. Good luck in your travels, and come back safe and sound. See the rest of you next week


Jun 23, 2004

Participants: Jon, Roy, Saarya, Yitzchak, Yedidya, Sharon, Rachel A

Wallenstein

Yitzchak 52, Saarya 46, Roy 34, Jon 30

Roy brought over Wallenstein, a Eurogame of resource allocation, territory control, development and direct conflict. The theme is the 30 year war over a map of Germany divided into 5 sections of provinces. My review on BGG:

Rating: 7

I don’t generally like wargames AT ALL, and I despise dice based combat. This is still a very good game, blending Eurogaming concepts: event cards, resource allocation, actions, etc… with light conflicts. It is only 6 turns long, and you can only initiate 2 conflicts per turn, which means that a lot of it is about the other stuff.

The drawbacks: if you fall behind, you are likely to stay behind, one of the insufferable problems in many wargames. Wallenstein plays quickly, however, so you don’t have to suffer much.

The other is the random factor involved in conflict – not dice, but a cute little tower that you throw your armies into, some of which fall out again. Not my thing, but the best I’ve seen in non-deterministic conflict, so far. It is at least quick (not a long series of rolls) – but still feels unfair and silly when the outcome is grossly skewed in one direction. That’s wargames for you, take it or leave it.

You get 10 set actions each round, which you allocate to 10 different provinces you control, so you can either build armies here and attack from there, or the reverse, but you can’t build armies and attack from one area, etc… You can do much less than you want to, which is a minor headache, but this only becomes a huge headache when you really HAVE to do more than you are allowed.

Anyhoo …

The first half was fairly uneventful. Saarya started off all in the south, while I was spread over the board, and Yitzchak was primarily to the north. Yitzchak ended up ahead at the first half: Yitzchak 24, Jon 15, Saarya 14, Roy 10.

Then Roy and I made a non-aggression pact at one area of the board so we could concentrate on taking down Saarya and Yitzchak, who made their own pact in another area.

By the end of the fifth round, I was telling Saarya that he should break the pact with Yitzchak or he would just waltz to victory … (The following is my whining and excuses, so pay no heed) … by which I did not mean to violate the pact immediately, but to inform Yitzchak that the pact would no longer apply to future battles.

At the end of the sixth round, I left myself completely open near Roy, trying to take out Saarya and Yitzchak, when Roy unilaterally wiped out my half of the board in violation of our pact, to which I got slightly incensed in the real world; my understanding being that the formation of a pact is only breakable if a) given warning that the pact is over on the next turn or at least b) that it was implied that pacts are breakable at will and unenforcable. I guess I felt like I was playing a game where the actual rule of the game was unknown to me. If I came into the game knowing that pacts are unenforcable, I would at least have played with the possibility in mind, My position near Roy was deliberately left open.

I know everyone else out there is laughing at me, but the truth is, I wouldn’t have minded at all if I at least understood that violating a pact is legitimate. I didn’t really whine that much (I couldn’t, after berating Ben for whining a few weeks ago); I leave it up to Roy and Yitzchak to confirm or deny my words. Next time I’ll get a firm understanding before the game begins!

(Addendum: to be fair, there was also no implication made that pacts DID have to be stuck to; it was simply my concept of gaming. Roy and Yitzchak certainly have different assumptions, being veteran wargamers, so Roy did not know that my assumptions were what they were.

Another addendum: Another controvertial issue from last week, is when Alan used an opportunity at the end of a game to attack Yitzchak, doing himself no good, but simply because Yitzchak attacked him earlier. This is a longstanding unresolved issue in gaming: if you can’t win with your last move, what is the “right” or “fair” play? If Alan was doing it because he was roleplaying, that seems fair and natural. If he was doing it because he was maximimzing his position relative to the leader, that also seems “right” somehow. If he was doing it as a meta-game issue to try to discourage Yitzhak from attacking him in future games, that seems “wrong” somehow. But it is hard to pin down.)

Anyway, Saarya, having been left alone by Roy, jumped ahead, but not quite enough to catch up to Yitzchak, who ended with a peaceful victory. Roy’s decimation of my position reversed out final standings, bringing him into third place.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 57, Yedidya 45, Sharon ???

While we were halfway through, Yedidya showed up, a wholly new attendee (and very quiet person) who is a friend of Sharon’s. Yedidya has no Eurogaming experience. He watched us play Wallenstein for a few minutes and then I gave him the rules to Settlers of Catan and Evo to look at. By the time that Sharon came, I suggested that they start with Carcassonne: (Hunters and Gatherers), which they took out. Then they decided to play chess, which they took out. Then Rachel came up and decided that they would play Puerto Rico, which I suggested was a bad idea for first Eurogame, but they went ahead anyway.

I don’t know much about what went on, except that Rachel and Sharon did a lot of advice giving, and that Rachel once again went for University (priced 7, comes with a colonist).

Lo Ra

Yitzchak 52, Jon 33, Saarya 32, Roy 17

Roy saw all the new games on our shelves, including Amun Re, Evo and Taj Mahal, but we only had enough time left for a quick game, so we introduced him to Lo Ra (Nadine’s Temple-themed version of Ra). Roy had a quick, small lead at the end of the first round, but Yitzchak managed to collect a fistload of tribes (monuments), giving him a 28 point bonus, plus several other bonuses in the last round to pull way ahead. My 10 menorahs/oils (Niles/floods) weren’t near enough.

Next week:

  • Alan should be back with the new games. If you were planning to contribute, please bring some cash to pay back David Klein.
  • And bye bye Sharon, who is leaving for the summer; we’ll miss you!

Jun 16, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Yitzchak, Nadine, Alan, Ben, Sharon, Rachel A

TAJ MAHAL

Nadine 35, Alan 27, Jon 26, Yitzchak, Saarya

I was eager to play Taj Mahal again, so I set it up before everyone else came and dragged them in. It is one of those simple and pure games, a little abstract, and deliciously painful. We have to learn the strategies still – when to battle, when to build up. The most difficult part is that the winner of one round is usually in the worst position for the next round. And we also learned that the commodities are key, providing cascading points as the game progresses. Linking castles doesn’t seem to be much of a strategy; it’s usually too hard to link more than 1 or 2, and you are better off denying someone else the bonus for the same price.

Nadine got ahead in commodities, after saving up a large hand, and had enough to keep ahead the last two rounds. I got Orange a number of times (play an out of color card), but could never effectively use it. I also got into a large battle with Alan midway which drained my hand, from which I never really recovered.

When you are starting player, you should use the opportunity to withdraw first in order to get the bonus (if it is a commodity) and increase your cards.

LO RA

Saarya 31, Jon 22, Nadine 21, Sharon

Once again, Lo Ra is Ra, only rethemed with Jewish biblical elements (designed by Nadine). Otherwise, it is almost the same gameplay. This was the first game of it that I played that was not light and quick, with a lot of considering before each move that made the game plod a bit. The second era was really quick, though, ending before any of us had bid more than once. Saarya maintained a good lead with Baskets and Tribes, and thus kept ahead through the second and third round.

PUERTO RICO

Yitzchak 55, Rachel 45, Ben 44, Alan

Yitzchak had a coffee monopoly throughout the game, and got a coffee ship and Harbor to ice a victory. Ben had the Tobacco monopoly and an early Factory, but made some mistake at the very end (not buying the right building?) that cost him 12 points, or so he told me. Rachel had only corn, indigo and sugar, but a large market. She also bought University again (priced at 7 and comes with a colonist), but while a good building, it is still not worth getting over a large building, which is what she says she should have bought. Alan bought too many low cost purple buildings before producing anything.

SETTLERS OF CATAN

Nadine 10, Jon 7, Sharon

We finished Lo Ra before they finished Puerto Rico, so we finished up with a quick game of Settlers, which Sharon wanted to play again before giving a copy to her nieces and nephews. It is a very serene game, following raucus games like Taj Mahal and Puerto Rico; Nadine was bored actually. I had a quick nice lead, but Nadine was able to exploit good trade relations with Sharon and two initial settlements that were close together to get a quick Longest Road for 10 points. Sharon’s early development cards were both victory points, which were useless in actually helping her develop.

In other news:

  • Our game order should have gone out, or be going out momentarily. Thank you to everyone who committed to contributing.
  • Several people are going away here and there, Sharon and Alan. We’ll miss you, have good vacations and come back soon.
  • We are hoping to plan a large game day in Hol Hamoed sukkot. Suggestions for the date are welcome. Sunday, October 3, looks good. Sokay with everyone? Only problem with having a game day on sukkot is finding a large enough sukkah for eating.
  • Roy will be bringing Wallenstein next week. See you then.

Yehuda


Jun 09, 2004

Participants: Jon, David K, Saarya, Yitzchak, Ben, Nadine, Alan, Sharon

Well, one of the highlights of this evening was several games that we have never played before, including our first plays of Amun-Re and Taj Mahal, and our second plays of Ra. Except that we didn’t have Ra, so we played a beautifully crafted simulation of the game created and rethemed by Nadine. The new game uses Jewish temple elements for all the sets, such as 12 tribes, animals, menorahs and oil, etc… For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call the game “Lo Ra”, which in Hebrew means either “not ‘Ra'” or “not bad”. 🙂

The other highlight, or lowlight, was my yelling at Ben (my brother, so it’s ok) when he complained for ther umpteenth time that I didn’t tell him the rules properly and this caused him to make a mistake, on our first playing of the game. The mistake didn’t change the ultimate scoring order. I believe that the first plays of games are reserved for learning the rules, not for winning. Winning the first few games is always luck anyway, because none of us knows what we’re doing. Still, I must be calm and not yell … I will put all my frustration in a bubble and *poof* blow it away. La la la …

Anyhoo …

Amun-Re

David K: 49, Ben: 36, Jon: 29, Saarya: 24

We were planning on buying Amun-Re, so it was great for Yaron to drop it off last week for us to give it a go (and turns out he says we can just buy his copy).

Amun-Re is unusual, in that, unlike other games, investing heavily in income sources doesn’t work as well as usual, since they are all destroyed after 3 rounds. Nevertheless, I got a huge windfall at the end of the third round. Farming was working out very productive, and we reached level 4 at the end of the third round. David K ended the fist half with 19, Ben at 18, me at 13 with the most money, and Saarya at 6.

I had two cards that gave me bonuses for having all my areas next to the Nile, so I tried for that in the second age, the first province without much trouble, but the second one I had to pay every single GP to get it, effectively killing me. The third round, only one area was available next to the river and I didn’t have enough to bid for it. Meanwhile, Saarya and David both had double sets of pyramids.

Interesting game, and enjoyable. Decisions like many of the other great games, such as Puerto Rico and Prince of Florence. Only … somehow, a little bit less than them, because you’re not handling very many resources (money and position, basically), and your game is driven by the luck of the cards you draw, to some extent.

David K loved the auction mechanism, I wasn’t so thrilled with it. I would certainly play it again.

Lo Ra

Yitzchak: 33, Nadine: 27, Alan: something less

This was Yitzchak’s and Alan’s first games, and I guess technically Nadine’s first game of Lo Ra, although she played Ra last time.

Puerto Rico

Nadine: 46 + 7 GP/goods, Yitzchak: 46 + 1 GP/good, Alan: 45

Very close game, as you can see.

Puerto Rico

Yitzchak: 47, David K: 44, Sharon: 43

Another close game. More info would be welcome.

Taj Mahal

Unfinished

Another in the Alea series, this one is an awesomely good game at first playing. Ra, which we played for the first time last week, gave us our fist taste of an amazing light game (as compared to Carcassonne, which is just a very good light game). Taj Mahal is even better, being a more meaty game that feels like a light game.

Each round is agonzing, yet fairly simple like Ra, but the whole game begins to develope as provinces become connected and stockades begin accumulating. Unfortunately, Nadine and Ben both became very tired by the time we got to area 8 out of 12, so the game ended unfinished.

What a shame this is out of print, because it would definitely be on my buy list!

See you next week.


Jun 02, 2004

Participants: Jon, Yaron, Ben, Yitzchak, Nadine, Saarya, Sharon, Rachel A

We welcomed back Yaron, who came from Haifa (he was in Tel Aviv, so he popped by), bringing lots of games with him which we always wanted to play. Yaron is part of an unofficial gaming group in the Tel Aviv area. If they ever get themselves a name, I won’t be able to call myself the only Eurogaming club in the Middle East.

Yaron brought Evo, Ra, Amun-Re, Taj Mahal, and a homemade copy of Modern Art.

MEDICI POKER

Incomplete

Ben, Yitzchak and Nadine came earlier, and I started them up while we were waiting for Yaron with a brainstorm of mine from the previous evening called Medici Poker. MP is a simulation of Medici using a 5 suited deck, 5 suits letters A through E and 16 cards in each suit. Each player gets eleven cards, 1-10 and 16, in one suit to use for bidding. The 11-15’s of all the suits are mixed together as the auction items.

The active player flips over 1, 2 or 3 cards (his choice, flipping over 1 at a time until he decides to stop) and the LHO starts the bidding which continues around until all players pass. The winning bidder uses any combination of his cards to pay for it and gets the cards. Each player can only win 5 cards total, and can’t bid on a set that would put him over. When all but one player has 5 cards, the last player takes cards off the top to fill up to five, and you score.

  • 3 of a kind (letters or cards)
  • 4 of a kind
  • 5 of a king
  • Full house
  • 4 card straight
  • 5 card straight
  • Highest value cards
  • Lowest value cards
  • Most value in your own suit over all previous rounds

Continue for three rounds. Highest score at the end wins. We only tried one round, and I think the points assigned were not correct based on the odds of getting each item. In any case Yaron showed up, so we ended in favor of including him.

PUERTO RICO with expansions

Rachel 52, Jon 38, Yaron 45

Yaron had never tried my expansions, and I wanted to encourage him to bring them back to his gaming group, so I pulled out a set for him to try. Yaron was shut out of early trading twice, but managed to build up again nicely. Rachel had a coffee monopoly and a small fashion district (sell indigo for +2) so did best on trades, and then she got harbor and racked up 20 shipping points in the last two rounds, easily more than either of us. Yaron had two big buildings, both of which gave him a total of 1 bonus point.

EVO

Saarya won by one point, followed by Nadine and Ben, and then Yitzchak

I didn’t get to play this, and I heard that it was ok but not great. For those that don’t know, you’re playing on an unchanging Settlers of Catan board, moving your dinosaur herds around to different areas as the climate changes, and trying to buy evolutionary advantages, such as more feet or horns.

RA

Yaron 57, Jon 48, Sharon 43

We finished PR+ before they finished Evo, and we still had time for a complete game of Ra, including explaining the rules to me and Sharon. Ra is an auction game where each person has 4 bidding tokens, and tiles keep being flipped up until someone calls “auction” at which point someone has to take the set (with occasional exceptions to this rule). Each person either bids or passes, and that’s it. There are numerous different types of tiles, each with their own unique rule about how they give or take away points and occasional bad tiles that destroy some of your tiles if you have any to destroy.

The range of what you can do actionwise is VERY small, which makes the game quick and light, but the numerous types of sets you can acquire is sufficiently complicated, making this a unique game of strategy, a little luck, yet quick. I rarely like lighter games (Carcassonne I like) but this is an excellent game.

Notes: I quickly dropped out of the Pharoh race, earning myself -2 each round. I was doing pretty well anyway, but I let Yaron get a complete set of monuments with many duplicates which let him shoot to a final victory. One thing Sharon and I kept forgetting about was that the winner of the auction also gets the previous winner’s bid tile for use next round (or for scoring in the last round).

RA

Sharon 35, Nadine 33, Jon 27

Sharon and I started up another game with Nadine, quickly explaining the rules. Nadine shared our opinion of the game. In this game, I went into the third round with 1 point while Nadine had about 20 and Sharon close behind. Again I ignored the Pharohs, but this time I got the monuments.

On the very last move of the game, with only myself able to bid, there were two more monuments out there and the 12 bidding token. I could have just taken them, but I decided to be greedy and flip one more tile, which unfortunately ended the game. If I had acuired them, I would have had 10 more points, and Sharon 5 less, which would have given me the game. Argh!

PUERTO RICO

Ben 58, Yaron 53, Yitzchak 48

Meanwhile, since Yaron’s game group doesn’t play PR that often, he decided to get in another game. Ben as usual whined the whole game that he was behind, and then went on to win with three large buildings. I can’t remember when he has lost a PR game, and he never plays “correctly”, either. One day I am going to have to give him a huge beatdown.

Unfortunately, Yaron had to take Ra back with him, but he left the other games, which is great, so we can try them out before we make our game upcoming purchase. See you next week and with new games to play!


May 27, 2004

Participants: Jon, Alan Frazin, Nadine, Rachel A (Jon’s wife), Yacov, Sharon

BLOKUS

Alan came because it was a special Thursday game, but says he can come on future Wed’s for the next few weeks. He showed up a bit early, so we played Blokus 2 player, his first time. He caught on quickly, but I was able to leave myself some late wiggle room, ending with only 3 pieces total from both colors, while he had 3 or 4 pieces each. Yay me.

PUERTO RICO

Nadine set up while we were playing Blokus, and then Rachel joined us for a 4 person game of PR, the way God intended it. Nadine was first position, followed by Alan, Rachel and myself.

I gained 4 corn plantations and a coffee plantation in the first few rounds, leading me to get coffee and wharf and harbor (right before getting indigo going). Having a coffee monopoly also helped. Rachel was before me, with tobacco, sugar and small warehouse, which, while nice, is still not nearly as nice as wharf. She also bought University (cost: 7, comes with a colonist), which she used to good effect, planning her plantations and then buying the manned production, or buying Sm Warehouse when she was already stocked with goods. University works well with these modifications, and is worth buying in some positions.

Alan had serious cash problems for most of the game, despite three quarries. Nadine had sugar, large market, guild hall, harbor and small warehouse. I ended up tying my record of 45 shipping points and custom’s house, winning with 72 VPs to Nadine’s second place of 49. Yay me.

DAVID AND GOLIATH

Yacov showed up, and Sharon was on her way, so we played a filler of D&G. Yacov has a history of success with this game, and continued his success, beating Alan by some 52 to 47 (give or take a point or two). Nadine and I were far behind. Yay Yacov.

EL GRANDE

Having played enough PoF and PR over the past few weeks, and not enough EG, we decided to give it a go. I thought we might like to play a shorter version, 6 rounds, scoring after rounds 3, 5 and 6, but the rest of the group was up for the full game. It was Alan’s first game, but as a seasoned Diplomacy and war gamer, he had little trouble picking it up.

Nadine is the one with the history of winning this game, and she did come close; Sharon was also close, with two high scoring regions. Nevertheless, I was a few points ahead after the first scoring round, having gotten 10 points on the first round by scoring all the 4 mark regions. The board started to fill up, with me in control of basically the 4 regions, which I again scored in round 6 for 14 more points, which put me about 10 points ahead.

The game’s flavour was “empty courts”, as at least 3 of the cards sent all the caballeros from the courts back to the provinces. Another interesting feature is that the king card was not picked first (or even second or third) in the scoring rounds, which is very strange. Despite some late attempts to gang up on my positions toward the end, I went last in the last round, moving around pieces to hurt second and third place, and ended the game with a score of 100 to Nadine in second place at 97, and the others close behind.

Yay me.

Next week Wed evening. See you there!


May 19, 2004

Participants: Jon, David K, Saarya, Nadine, Yitzchak, Ben, Genya, Dylan, Sharon

As Sharon put it: a hopping game night.

Magic: the Gathering

David K: 4, Jon: 1

David K came early to play some hands of Magic, and, as usual, walked over me, although the games were closer than they usually are. I even won a game. We play Rochester Draft. The first set of decks had very few large creatures. I played a BUW weenie deck with 22 creatures (5 clerics), but it wasn’t enough, as he almost as many creatures and bigger ones. The second game with those decks, if I actually could have gotten my Island Sanctuary out on time, I actually would have won by decking him! But I was mana screwed and mana shy.

The second game I actually won one. We had slower decks, but I had some game shorteners, like Hurricane and Barbed Wire. My first try was close, I played BW with splash R – more mana problems. My second try was better, since my R really wasn’t so good, I splashed U for two flying enchantments, and some fatty flew over and hit him. The third one I don’t remember, except I lost soundly. Oh well.

Purto Rico + expansions

David K: 62, Jon: 54

We played with several buildings from the expansions. I tried ”Assembly Line” (each production building can hold an additional colonist) which my wife has used to beat me a few times, but I couldn’t get it going. I had a good start, producing Indigo, Sugar and Coffee fairly early. I still don’t know where I went wrong. I ended up shipping 10 more points then him, but he ended up with 3 large buildings to my 1, and a few better buildings besides.

Railroads of Catan

David K, Jon, Saarya (Nadine), Yitzchak – unfinished

RR of Catan, my rail game for playing on a Settlers board, is a 4 player game exactly, so Nadine and Saarya doubled up until others arrived, after which she left to play PR with them. I went over the rules again (now in their third iteration), and as often happens, we made a few on the spot adjustments and noted some changes that needed to be made. Nevertheless, the game is now much smoother and much better.

The new rules make the money situation much tighter; David K missed out on this and overbought, leaving him in such a difficult position that he didn’t feel he could get out of it (which led to him resigning the game, and us stopping when Sharon came, on the third turn). The same thing can happen in Acquire, so I’m not sure it is a huge design flaw, but it will need more playtesting. It is crucial to be able to get one of your delivery orders complete in the first or second turn.

There was a lot of calculations going on, which introduced some downtime. It is partly due to the fee structure, and perhaps simplifying it would speed up the game (or, it could be just the nature of train games to be like that). Also, Yitzchak complained that the whole game comes down to getting good delivery orders. It seemed that way a bit, but as the third turn rolled on, I was more certain that this was not true, as there were many key strategic and tactical decisions that needed making, regardless of the DO’s. I think that unless the DO’s REALLY suck, everyone should be able to compete. I could fix this a bit, by eliminating the worst paying of the DO’s, and/or by adding some other factor, such as choosing among two or three, or offering all DO’s for auction, instead of drawing them randomly.

All in all, it went well. Yitzchak and I were both getting some good DO’s in, and we were pretty neck and neck, while David and Saarya hadn’t gotten any in yet, but were poised to do so by next round. It took about 2.5 hours for the explanations and the first three rounds. Still a bit too long; but we are a slow group.

Puerto Rico

Ben: 62, Nadine: 56, Genya: 54, Dylan: “less”

Nadine explained the rules to Dylan, a guest of Genya’s (a guest of Ben’s). I wasn’t watching, but somehow Ben ended up with Factory, Harbor AND Wharf, and Nadine with Harbor and Wharf, so the two of them getting first and second place is not much of a surprise; if anything it is how close third place is.

Princes of Florence

Jon: 62, Yitzchak: 52, David K: 43, Saarya: 42, Sharon: “less”

David K coaxed us into a PoF game. It is best with 5, so it didn’t take much coaxing. We play with randomly discarding one Profession card before starting, which eliminates the huge advantage to 2nd player (and adds some mystery to the game).

The profession cards were gone in first round, of course, which boosted the value of the Recruiters, which were going for up to 1000, with the Jesters between 1100 and 1200 each until the last round. Even the landscapes were being bid up. A tight and vicious auctioning kept the game scores low. I wasn’t able to get more than one Jester, and no Recruiters, but I got an early Builder and 3 Prestige cards which I sweated to make work. Yitzchak and David K both ended the last round with two works, each with one at 29 WV, but Yitzchak’s were just slightly better, and he had gotten just a few more points along the way, so he took second.

Blokus

Dylan (winner), Ben, Genya, Nadine – I don’t know anything about this except that Dylan won.

A good game night. See you next week.


May 12, 2004

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak, Roy, Saarya, Sharon

Samurai Swords

Yitzchak returned from an extended vacation. Since it was he, Roy, myself and Saarya, we decided to play Samurai Swords (formerly known as Shogun, from Milton Bradley’s Gamemaster series, who brought you Axis and Allies). Swords is not a good game for our group, generally, for two reasons: 1) It is a direct conflict game, which we tend to avoid, and 2) its primary mechanism of determining success is a dicefest, like Risk, etc…

Nevertheless, Yitzchak and Roy are both into these sorts of games, and Saarya, after his first play, also seems to like them. We tried to mitigate the second problem by reducing some dice rolls to their average outcomes (2 armies that kill on a 1 in 2 chance will always register 1 kill, no rolling). On the one hand, this did turn it more into a leaner, more strategic game. On the other hand, it was a little less thrilling, as the outcomes were more deterministic. an’t have it both ways, I guess.

We only got to play 1 round, which took about 2 hours, including the rules explanation. I’m happy it was over, since, due to my unfamiliarity with the consequences of certain actions, I left myself with all my soldiers in my armies, and therefore limited amount of attacking power in the next turn. Both Roy and Yitzchak were dong well, controlling two central areas of the board, and Saarya was little more spread out. I had one side of the board, but wasn’t doing as well due to the aforesaid misplay of my armies. If I had the final phase of the first round to do over, I would have been in better shape.

Blokus

Anyway, Sharon saved me by coming in. Roy wanted a quick game before he left, so I introduced them to Blokus, for which Saarya sat out. They very much enjoyed it, it seems. My first piece in the middle was soundly surrounded, leaving me struggling to snake out the sides. It ended up with Sharon and me fighting on one side, and Yitzchak and Roy on the other. Yitzchak managed to get more penetration, so he ended up with only 9 blocks left, the rest of us around 15 or so. Good job.

Puerto Rico

Roy left, leaving us 4 players. Once again, I wanted to play Railroads, but it was deemed to long, and both Yitzchak and Sharon are still relative newbies to Puerto Rico, so out it came. Yitzchak started with an early corn/coffee combo, and managed to pull 3 quarries later. I had the first Tobacco, and then got an Office to ensure I could trade it, when Saarya picked up Tobacco. Saarya had early sugar. Unfortunately for me, Sharon did an early craft when it was the last phase of the round, 1 empty spot in the Trading house, and 1 GP on the trader, and going into Yitzchak governor with a coffee to trade. Net result: 8 GP for Yitzchak, nothing for the rest of us.

Eventually, Yizchak and I both had Harbor and Wharf, but he had better building because of his 3 quarries. Saarya had Factory going for up to 5 GP (I would have gotten Factory, but we had changed it to cost 8, which made it just out of reach for me at the critical time). Sharon got the second big building, but Yitz ended with 62 points, Saarya 55, me 51, Sharon 48.

See you next week.


May 05, 2004

Participants – Jon, Nadine, Yacov, Roy, Sharon

Puerto Rico

With only three of us for the first session, I thought a nice quiet game of Puerto Rico might hit the spot. After a little discussion, we played no expansions, but with my minor changes, the most significant one being that Factory and University switch places. As player 2, I was set to get Factory at 7 GP on round 3, but since it cost 8, I took Coffee instead.

I ended up getting Factory later, anyway. Nadine as first player had a strong Tobacco monopoly, while I was in front of Yacov with Coffee. He ended up with a first Harbor, and most shipping points at the end of the game. I made one very important bad move at the end of the game, building when I could have crafted and guaranteed ship, holding Harbor and Wharf, and thereby losing a 9 point advantage.

In the meantime, Nadine had 3 large buildings, including a maxed out Guild Hall, and took the game 53, Yacov 48, me 46. And I thought I was good at this game!

Princes of Florence

We tried to get in a quick game of Settlers, but Roy showed up, followed by Sharon, which was 1 too many for Railroads, too, so we introduced Sharon (and reintroduced Roy) to PoF, seeing as both of them find El Grande dry. Funny, because Nadine and I find PoF dry.

I don’t know; it is tough, and brain burning, but for all that, it just comes down to kicking yourself for not seeing all the factors, and a lot of math. Anyway, Jesters were in high demand, Recruiters should have been (we tossed out one Professional Card at random, so that each player could only buy 1, instead of giving the 2nd player an advantage), but I got 2 Jesters and Recruiters, which, with a lot of conservation and a first round builder gave me a pretty easy victory, melding 41 points in the final two rounds for a final score of 64. Nadine was closest, with 53 (or something like that), 13 of them from Prestige cards. Sharon came in last, but her last play was a 32 point work, using 3 bonus cards (actually, we may have forgotten to give her her final 3 point bonus).

Fluxx

Nadine brought over Fluxx, much to my fear, having heard of its reputation on the Geek. It was kind of cute, like Munchkin. A very silly game, with little strategy and lots of luck, but lots of mental whirling to try and remember all of the rules in play. I can’t see playing it often, but not as bad as I had heard.

For those who don’t know, Fluxx is a card game consisting of cards that, when laid on the table, define the rules of the game, such as how many cards you must draw or play each round, and what the win conditions are. Since everything changes every round, there is little you can hope to do in the planning department, except know all the cards played and guess what will come up next, if you are lucky enough to have what matches it.

Anyway, hope to get to Railroads next time. See you then.


Apr 28, 2004

Participants: Jon, David K, Avraham K, Nadine, Rachel (Jon’s wife), Sharon, Yacov

Magic: the Gathering

David K came early, as usual, and took time out to roll over me in a few hands of Magic. The first few draft was at least somewhat close, him beating me with Blanket of Night (turns all lands into swamps) and swampwalkers. The second one, my draw was so awful, I simply tossed the cards in halfway through the first game. In this one, he has Pestilence, several protection from black creatures and COP: Black. All of my cards were double colored mana.

Puerto Rico

We then played a 2 player game of PR (with only my tweaks), and I took the opportunity of playing two player to change my strategies, yet again. Let’s see. David ended up with a Factory, Coffee, and Harbor, which was enough 54 points. I had Sugar, Indigo and Corn, and an early Large Market, which was ok, but not enough; I got to 49 points.

Puerto Rico w/expansions

Next we player 2 player PR with expansions:

  • Aqueduct
  • Convenience Store 2 1 Sell twice to trading house (no additional bonuses, all trades legal)
  • Civil Office 2 1 Pick a phase when you buy it, get double privilige when taking that phase
  • Trade Annex 3 1 Sell into full traing house (trades must still be legal)
  • Commons 4 2 If Settler Phase taken, get additional colonist on San Juan, and move all colonists at end of round
  • Inheritence 5 2 Get manned plantation when buying Production building
  • Office
  • Discretionary Hold 6 2 Ship into the Hold of any full ship at the end of the Captain phase, AND store up to 3 barrels of any type
  • Specialty Factory 7 3 Get GP = one type good you produce (boosted from official expansion)
  • Goldmine 8 3 Gets gold, with 2 colonists and 2 goldmine plantations, gold sells for 6, ships for 3 VP into the Hold (which blocks Discretionary Hold from doing so) [See my Expansion sets for more info]
  • Moneychangers 8 3 Get VP whenever you get money from a building, or a trade facilitated by a building
  • Private Boat 9 3 A wharf to ship any four barrels
  • Beureucracy 10 7 At the end of a turn, build or trade if you haven’t done so this turn [In the second game, we used Residence]
  • Historical Society 10 4 4/5/6/7 VP for 1-8/9/10/11-12 buildings
  • Emergency Measures 10 7 Gets 4 counters, loses one per round, and game ends when all counters gone
  • Travel Agency 10 5 +1 VP/type of square on plantation area
  • Fairgounds 10 4 +1 VP/empty circle on your board (city and plantations)

We played 2 player. Then, we used the same buildings for 4 player, with Rachel and Avraham K, when they arrived.

In the 2 player game, I started off very strong, using Civil Office (Builder) and building very strong. Somewhere around turn 8 I stalled, trying to get a Goldmine going. David managed to get a good Discretionary Hold running, and managed to beat me by some huge margin. Notes: Civil Office is greater when there are less players, of course, just like Library. Aqueduct and Specialty Factory are practically broken (less so in multiplayer), and almost made me unchange SF back to N-1 goods, but not quite. Goldsmiths must be bought early to be of any use. Private Boat is good, probably better than Wharf. All those trading houses look tempting, especially in 2 player.

In the multiplayer game, I got my Goldsmiths early, and it was much more beneficial, giving me several trades and some good shipping too, on my Private Boat. This time I took Civil Office (Craftsman), while David K took Civil Office (Prospector) (which might have been more powerful in 5 player). All around, we were pretty balanced, except for Rachel’s board, because she didn’t fully understand my explanations of the buildings (happens when I introduce new buildings). I ended up winning 58 – 56 – 55. Notes: Trade Annex is good in 5 player, Convenience Store not so, and the reverse in 3 player. 4 player ??? we couldn’t figure out which was good. Civil Office is much tougher in 4 player, and as a twist causes your opponents to want to pick “your phase” to prevent you from getting it. As David found out to his chagrin, don’t be holding a Discretionary Hold if your RHO has one (although, he still used it to save goods and ship them the next round).

The set was a good set, balanced for shipping and building. I had to tweak Inheritence (still wasn’t bought), and neither was Emergency Measures or Moneychangers (not much use for it in this set of buildings)

Settlers of Catan

While we were playing this, Nadine, Sharon and Yacov held a Settlers of Catan game, wherein Yacov and Nadine raced to 9 points, and while Sharon had 5, they still kept hitting her with the robber, or so Sharon reports. Yacov edged out a victory.

El Grande

Last of all, despite my wanting to play Railroads of Catan, we had 5 players left (me, David, Avraham, Nadine, Sharon), not enough for 2 games, and too many for RoC. So we introduced Avraham to El Grande, trying for a 6 round game. Unfortunately, it was already late by the end of the 4th round, with David about 2-3 points ahead, and all of us close behind. I was all setup, guaranteed to play my 1 / 13 power cards in the next two rounds, so I was hopeful, but it was anyone’s game.

Still, an enjoyable evening, and hope to see you all soon. We are going to make a game order soon, and many members of the group have volunteered to buy a game just to loan it to the goup, which is super. Thanks!


Apr 21, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Yacov, Sharon

Princes of Florence

Eager to try PoF again, I brought it out for the first game. I have the feeling that I will continue to want to play PoF until it is “solved”. After all, there are only 21 actions for each player duing the game, plus 1 decision per work played. It can’t hold out forever. Also, the game seems to revolve around what you miscalculated, and by the end, I always feel like an idiot.

This was Yacov’s first time. Despite a good opening two Jesters in the first few rounds, I wasn’t able to pull in enough profession cards . 2nd and 3d seat, Yacov and Saarya, bought two, Nadine and I bought 1, and we were playing without the University. I think that this is a mistake. With university, everyone would have been able to buy 2, and to prevent Saarya from purchasing 3, we can simply limit each player to 2. I think there should be the same number available for each player, if possible.

Nadine ended up with 3 recruting cards, 1 more than she needed, as she had no Jesters and cuoldn’t play her last work. Saarya timed everything very well, and played 5 18-point works in the last three rounds for 45 points, ending up the winner.

Acquire

Sharon showed up just in time, and after some discussion, and lamenting that I was selling Bang! along with Settlers of Catan card game and Bohnanza, we ended up playing Acquire. Again, this ws Yacov’s first time. 5 player Acquire was very nice last time. This time I had my head handed to me on a platter, as Saarya ended up with all of the merging tiles, and before it could come around to me, Sharon kept starting all the new companies again (4 times, at least). Sharon won, $45k to second place of $33k .

Acquire felt more “lucky” this time. The unknown elements are who gets the critical tiles (the concept of critical tiles this time was very pronounced), and how much each player bought. I would be happy to see an expansion to the game, where players earn bonus points for controlling certain hotel chains, have special priviliges (not as radical as the AH suggested ones, perhaps), can trade in stocks, have other ways to earn money, etc….

Next week.


Apr 15, 2004

Participants: Jon, Alan, Ben, Rachel (Ben’s friend), Yacov, Saarya, Rachel (Jon’s wife), Nadine

This evening was punctuated with a few frustratingly long and distracting phone calls. Ugh.

Settlers of Catan

Anyway, we had an unusual Thursday night game which allowed Alan to participate. We started him off easy with a game of Settlers. There were five of us, but I had to have one of those phone calls, so Alan, Saarya, Rachel (BF) and Ben began, until Saarya had to leave for karate. When I joined them, Ben was in the lead, although limited in expansion space. I quickly made a number of good trades, catching up, until it was anyone’s game. Once I got 8 points however, I was in a position to buy myself into largest army without much trouble, although Ben was one soldier behind me.

David & Goliath

We fooled around a little, and I played some David and Goliath with Ben, Yacov and Alan, while we waited for Nadine to show up and Saarya to get back. (We also ended the evening with a hand of D&G) Yacov won all these games.

Cosmic Encounter

We then started parallel games, myself, Saarya, Yacov and Ben on Cosmic, and Rachel (BF), Rachel (JW), Nadine and Alan on Puerto Rico.

Yacov was not happy when we moved the game along a bit by having Saarya ally on offense during the first round while he was showering (even though that is what he said he would have done), and that he ended up with Antimatter, which he didn’t think was as strong as our powers – Oracle, Fungus, and Industrialist. We actually had second powers as well, Chosen, Trader, Delegator and Chronos respectively. Once again the reverse cone robbed me of a game, where Ben and I would have gone for a joint win, instead Ben and Saarya did a joint compromise (with a little verbal prompting as to his best strategy) for 5 bases each.

Puerto Rico

Meanwhile, the PR game was a bit slow (as usual), but, to no one’s surprise, Nadine achieved a huge victory with something like 67 points, more than 10 points past here nearest competitor.

Side note: during the week, we tried a Cities and Knights game, and boy have we outgrown it. When the dice go your way, you’re winning, when they are going his way, oh look, he’s winning. There is a certain loss of innocence to discovering this about a game you had loved for so long, and a certain amount of trepidation, as well; what about all the new games people love now that are only a few years old? Will they suffer the same fate?

See you next Wednesday.


Apr 07, 2004

Game Day

Participants: Jon, Ben, Saarya, David B, David K, Pini, Sharon, Nadine, Yael, Tal

First day of Chol Hamoed Pesach, a good day for games. The JSGC held an all day gaming event. The first part of the day we decided to go to my brother, who is rarely able to get to us. Ben, Saarya and I headed out to him in a cab, while David K was to meet us there. The intention was to hold a Magic: the Gathering tournament. I had prepared 8 sealed decks before hand (random from my batch of cards) for Ben, David B, David K and myself to play, while Saarya, who doesn’t know Magic too well, would play a game with Pini.

Princes of Florence

Unfortunately, when we got there, David B forgot that we had set our clocks forward the night before, so we were kicked out to wait in the stairwell for another hour. David K, Ben, Saarya and I played a game of Princes of Florence on the staircase (ouch). It was Ben’s first game, but an easy game to pick up on.

Side note: Princes of Florence took me a long time to get into, primarily because I was playing it 3 and 4 player, and none of us bid very much. It took two changes to make the game into a real winner. 1) Players have to get used to what is important enough to bid up, namely Jesters and Recruiting cards (see change 2). 2) The resources have to be restricted in a 3 or 4 player game. I can’t say that strongly enough. The changes you need to make are:

  • 4 player: remove University and cards associated with it. 3 buildings and 3 freedoms of each type. You may even want to lessen the availablity of certain buildings.
  • 3 player: remove University, Theater and Chapel and cards associated with them. 2 buildings and 2 freedoms of each type. 5 jesters.

You may also want to remove certain Bonus and Prestige cards associated with Large and Small buildings. Saarya adds: it is a problem that 2nd and 3rd players end up with more Profession cards, and one should either make it such that the number of cards equals a multiple of the number of players, or that player’s initial seating is determined by auction (PP’s or money).

Continue: Competition now became fierce for both Jesters and Recruiting cards, as the profession cards were gone by turn 2. Ben played a successful building strategy, but, in my opinion, didn’t start building early enough (first game, after all), and David K swooped to a massive triumph with about 40 points worth of works in the last two rounds to add to 15 points worth of Prestige cards. I was off by a WV point here and there, so I couldn’t quite match it. By the time we finished, David B was ready to receive us.

Magic: the Gathering tournament

We were very late, however, and both David B and Ben are very slow deck builders. David K and I played out 3 games by the time they were in the middle of their first. My deck was Red and Black big guys, with creature control (no direct damage, however) and Blue flying cards. David K’s was probably slightly weaker than mine (Blue Black), but I still usually lose to him, and I did this time – 2 out of 3, although the last game was close.

David B was playing Red White, and Ben was playing Blue Green, and it appears that Ben managed to eke out a victory, despite some early mana screws. David K then played Ben while I played David B. I summarily handed David B his head, and he complained that his deck was just no match. Since I am a quicker builder, I gave him my deck to play with, and I quickly opened another set and built a deck, which lost to my previous one, as my creatures were poorer and I had less control cards (Black Blue with massive amount of flyers).

El Grande

In the meantime, Saarya taught Pini 2 player El Grande. Saarya (my 12 year old son) is sort of a master at 2 player El Grande, using his power cards to operate his two teams in successive strokes perfectly, and he is less merciful than I am when I teach new players, so I believe it was something of a slaughter against Pini (David B’s 15? year old son). David B has put in an order for Tigris and Euphrates and El Grande, so Pini is now prepared for at least one of them.

In any case, we were behind schedule, and had to return to my house for the second game, where Nadine and Sharon were waiting for us.

Puerto Rico + expansions

We were going to have a Die Macher game at this point, and Puerto Rico + expansions later in the evening, but Ben said he could only stay for a while, and we had 6 people, and then 7 when Yael (Ben’s wife) agree to try Settlers of Catan (first time). So Yael, Sharon and Ben tried a Settlers game. Unfortunately, Yael’s children returned at this point, so she only got about halfway through, and Tal (my daughter) tried to take over, but then Ben also had to attend to his kids, so I believe the game remained unfinished.

During this time we played our game of Puerto Rico + expansions. Here were the available violet buildings:

  • 1/1 Small Market
  • 2/1 Investment Club – This was the broken building in the set. As written, it gave 1 GP per round, and 1 GP extra for each 5 GP on it each round, until you used any of the GP, at which point it was removed from the game. The problem was with the extra GP per 5 GP on it, which quickly grows to 60 GP by the end of 15 rounds. Combined with one of the big buildings which lets you swap excess GP’s for VP’s, it would have been a disaster. The building is now changed to give 1 GP/round, period. Still a very nice building, arguably better than Small Market, but not a killer. [Why is it sometimes so hard to see broken buildings until the first second one starts playing with them? Corollary: some buildings seem broken until one starts playing with them, when you realize they aren’t.]
  • 2/1 Covenience Store – trade a second time (without bonuses). A nice building in 3 player, with limited usage in 4 or 5 player.
  • 3/1 Small Distillery – +2 GP when trading sugar. Not as nice as the 2 cost equivalent for indigo, but still useful at certain times.
  • 4/2 Tobacco Commision – +1 GP/tobacco produced -1 . A specialty factory for tobacco, also of limited usage, but worked well for David K who had all 5 goods an this, and was getting 7 GP for crafting.
  • 5/2 Large Market
  • 5/2 Exchange House – trade goods with Trading House at the end of Trader. useful for retrading expensive goods, or for getting an extra barrel to ship.
  • 6/2 Discretionary Hold – Place barrels into “The Hold” of any full ship, and store up to 3 barrels. The ONLY shipping related building this game. “The Hold” on each ship can contain one item, and several of my buildings relate to it.
  • 7/3 University – cheaper, and comes with a colonist on it.
  • 8/3 Governor’s Mansion (2 circles) – 1 GP/colonist whenever anyone else takes Governor. Feels like cheating, but not acually unbalanced.
  • 8/3 Factory – made more expensive
  • 9/3 Construction Crew – Buy a second building (all bonuses apply).
  • 10/4 Reserves – +2 VP/type of good on your board
  • 10/4 Good Works – Swap excess VP’s for GP’s or vice versa (e.g. if you have more GP’s than VP’s, you can swap the excess GP’s for VP’s, or vice versa). This is abused with the original version of Investment Club. It was bought by Saarya to prevent one of the Investment Club owners from using it.
  • 10/5 Travel Agency – +1 VP/plantation type in your plantation area (including quarries, etc…)
  • 10/4 Cathedral – +2 VP/column that you have at least 2 buildings from
  • 10/6 Transport System – You may move colonists at the beginning of each phase.

All in all, the buildings were excessively building oriented. Tons of money makers, and a few abusive buildings (now corrected). Because of this, or despite this, I decided, after Investment Club, to concentrate on shipping, since I figured I wouldn’t have much competition, and I was right, having the best shipping production, and forcing craft and captain whenever I could. I was behind in money (again, not including the investment club, which I cashed in at 14 GP), but the big buildings were gone by the middle of the game. Still, David K managed to pull ahead and win by a few points. Nadine was close behind.

Die Macher

By this time, it was time to try Die Macher again. This, our second attempt (for me, Saarya, David K, and Nadine, and first attempt for Sharon), went smoother than our first attempt. Still, we forgot the opinion polls the first round, and forgot that we should do them for all the areas during the second round. Others made mistakes based on not knowing the rules properly, as opposed to just tactical mistakes or forgetting a bestter move. The first round took about 2 hours, the second 1 hour. I would have liked to continue; I think the first rounds are very different from subsequent rounds, since people who have blown their resources during the first few rounds are bound to lose some of the later ones, but we chose to stop and try again at a later date, knowing better how to play properly. We all still felt it was a great game.

Blokus

This left us a little time left, so I taught David K how to play Blokus, as Tal (my 11 year old) and Saarya took up the other colors. Tal won, Saarya in second. Still enjoyable, and looks like it will continue to be so.

Puerto Rico

In the meantime, my wife Rachel who had not played all day, snuck in a Puerto Rico game with Sharon and Nadine, which Nadine took (I don’t have any other details).

All in all, a little frustration, but lots of fun. Next week’s game is moved to Thursday for a little variation. I hope to see you all then!


Mar 31, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Sharon, Hadar, Yacov

Sharon came early for the first session this week, and brought along a new player Hadar, whose gaming experience is in Poker. (Let me just note how incongruous it is to see a tightly head covered young religious woman whose gaming experience in Poker, and who shuffles her feet to Eiffel 52.)

El Grande

Although I usually start new player on Settlers, there were five of us, so I opted for El Grande, which is simple enough to learn, but a full five player game can be really long, and this one was 3.5 hours. I think that five player games from now on have to be 6 turns only.

In any case, Hadar made a strong first showing, pulling out in front after the first scoring round by a surprise castille holding, and basically taking over the entire south of Spain. Nevertheless, we were all pretty close the whole game, and Nadine won at the end by a few points, which is not much of a surprise, seeing as she has won the last, oh, 546 games of El Grande we played.

Blokus

Yacov as usual then decided to sit it out, and being too late for a Settlers game, I brought in Blokus. My copy actually belongs to the shul (bought for “game night”), but I borrowed it (heh heh – no really).

Blokus is a simple abstract tile laying game. The board and pieces are very pretty and it is a joy to watch the game develop. You start with 21 pieces; each piece has between 1 and 5 squares, and you have 1 piece of each unique shape. Starting from a corner of a 20×20 board, each piece may only be placed touching the corner of one of your other pieces – it must touch your piece, and it may not touch along any side – corners only.

The basic idea is that you need to worm your way through to as much open space as possible, and your opponenets are trying to block your liberties, which can be non-intuitive, as your liberties are corners of your pieces, not sides. It is quite fun, actually. There is something exciting about placing a little piece in the middle of a buch of other pieces to use a a bridge through their territory, and someting painful to watch what looked like an open side of the board die from a carefully placed opponents piece.

In our first game, Nadine won handily. After that, we all played a little more carefully, but I pulled out a victory with only 9 “blocks” remaining. Hadar had to go, and Yacov was so intrigued by the game, that we played one more game for him to try it out, which he won.

Next week, first day of Chol Hamoed is game day. Further discussion on the mailing list. See you then, and have a Chag Kasher V’sameyach!


Mar 24, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Roy, Yacov, Sharon

Yitzchak asked well before the game if it is ok to bring over Shogun (now: Samurai Swords), and we all said ok, if he is willing to endure complaints and criticism. So he went through the trouble of lugging it over and we didn’t even get to it. Sorry.

Munchkin

What happened is that while we were waiting for Yitzchak, Roy showed up with Munchkins, a strange card and humorous card game that plays similarly to 3e DnD 🙂 . You deal everybody cards, each player starts default at 1st level, human and classless. Each turn he flips over a card which is either a monster he has to fight, a curse that affects him, or a class or race he can become.

Monsters have a level; you defeat a monster by being higher than his level by adding your own level plus any magic plusses you have from treasure items. If you defeat the monster, you gain a level and the number of treasure items listed. If you don’t, you can try to run away. If the monster catches you, he does the Bad Thing that it says on the card. Each monster has some other special difficulty (e.g. +4 against Wizards) and a cute picture and name.

The whole things is rather ridiculous, and completely unstrategic (which is why I compared it to 3e), but fun. Unfortunately by the time we finished it (I won by a flip of Divine Intervention), it was just a little late to start Shogun; the time remining would have been eaten up just with the rules explanations, we feared.

Acquire

However, I judged there to be enough time to play a game of Acquire. It was actually one of the most enjoyable games of Acquire I have played. Sharon took over Yacov’s role as 5th player, and 5 was just about right to cause severe pain in the decision making without being extravegantly chaotic. Possibly 4 would work best, but 5 was better than 3, I think, and much better than 6. Also, we all played fairly quickly, and picked up the rules very quickly. The strategy is still beyond me (Yitzchak won, having formed several intial companuies), if indeed there is a real strategy that can be played effecively.

Yitzchak now goes away for a month, but he left Shogun with us, if any are interested in trying it. It is supposed to be best with 4 or 5, and not too good with 2 or 3.


Mar 17, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Yacov, Yitzchak, David K, Sharon

Magic: the Gathering

David K, Jon

As often happens when David K come for game night (every three weeks), he comes early so we can get in a few games of something before the actual game night starts. We usually play Magic, and as often happens he whomps me, despite some strange shared belief that I know what I’m doing. I have always thought David K the best player in our group, and I think he has always thought the same about me, which makes for a nice friendship.

Puerto Rico

David K, Yacov, Nadine, Yitzchak

There were six of us, and it probably would have been better to split into 3/3, but I wanted to give Settlers of Catan card game one more go, so while Saarya and I tried that, the above 4 played a long liesurly game of PR. I don’t know exactly what happened, but from where I was sitting, every single turn sounded like this:

OK, my turn. What should I do?

Settler looks good.

Yes, Settler. Craftsman also looks good.

No, he shouldn't take Craftsman, because he has Factory and she has
tobacco, and he won't be able to trade. Captain looks good. Or Settler.

But if he doesn't take Craftsman, then he will, and then she'll trade
anyway, and with a gold piece. He should take Mayor. Mayor looks good.

Mayor is sweet. But he should take Captain, so that he won't be able to
ship when she takes Craftsman.

She won't take Craftsman, she will take Trader.

Oh yeah. You should take Settler. Unless he takes Captain.

Prospector looks good. Also Settler.

Yes, definitely Prospector, Craftsman or Settler. Or Mayor. Mayor looks
sweet.

Or Captain. Don't take Prospector.

What about Builder?

Oh yeah, Builder looks sweet. Or Captain.

[several minutes later]

OK, I think I'll take Settler.

Wait, what about [insert role here]? You will be helping her far more
than you'll be helping yourself. Blah blah blah ....

[several minutes of argments later]

Well, I see your reasoning, but I still want to take Settler, and we'll
see what happens. You're probably right.

OK, on your own head be it.

[Settler phase]

OK, whose turn is it?

My turn. [pause] What should I do?

While I favor giving advice to newcomers until they understand the implications of the role selection, I think we are going to have to play at least some games with no advice allowed, just for a change of pace.

Settlers Of Catan Card Game

Jon, Saarya

This was a rather quicker affair. The game does seem to work marginally better now that I have the rules right, but in a few turns I was already beating Saarya 6 to 3, and it seemed unlikely he was going to catch up. But the main problem is that, like Citadels, it just doesn’t click. Not as engaging as real Settlers, with the trading. Not as interesting as Cities and Knights two players with the competition for board space.

Railroads of catan

Sharon, David K, Jon, Yiztchak

I bullied them into trying my Railroads of Catan game, a makeshift simulation of a crayon railroad game with my own rules significantly changed from the originals, and on a Settlers of Catan board. I ironed out a few kinks since the last attempt, but there is still a ways to go. Despite this, it is still very enjoyable, and I will work on fixing it. Again we stopped before completion, with Sharon ahead $10,000 over David at $90,000, and me trailing at about $65,000. Yitzchak left earlier and his holdings were transfered to the bank.

El Grande

Saarya, Nadine

Which left Nadine to play Saarya a two player El Grande game. Nadine has won all of the last several El Grande games, but Saarya managed to best her in a format she was less used to, pulling ahead early and keeping there through the six rounds of play. Saarya said it was something about him always taking the middle two moves, while Nadine went first and last, thus allowing him to double team with two special cards in a row. Something to think about.


Mar 10, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Ben, Yacov, Sharon

Cosmic Encounter

Ben, Nadine and Yacov all arrived at roughly the same time, for once. It certainly helps make scheduling a little easier. Ben also finally brought Cosmic Encounter with him (Mayfair Cosmic + More Cosmic), so we got to introduce both Yacov and Nadine to the joys of breaking all the rules. We don’t play with all the silliness, but we do play with flares, edicts, reinforcements, kickers, and reverse cones.

After tonight’s two Cosmic games, I’m not sure we should play with the reverse cones. The only real net effect is that, in both games, nobody could ally for or against the last challenge, which kind of ruins the point, I think; I miss everyone allying against someone lest he win, or the possibility of going for a joint win. On the opposite end, as we usually do, we started off the new players with single power games, which we will have to complicate next game.

In the first game, Saarya showed up to take last seat after we flipped the destiny pile for Yacov’s first move; Saarya picked up a Parasite and sat down. The game was over before he had a chance to be the offensive player, as during Yacov’s, Nadine’s, mine, and then Bem’s turns, he simply allied … and gained five bases and won. Yacov was Conneisseur, Nadine the Mirror, Ben … I forget, and Saarya the Parasite, and I was the Ameoba. In the second game, Ben got Conneisseur and Saarya got the Parasite again (out of over a hundred powers, sheesh), Nadine the Fungus, Yacov … I forget, and I was the Reincarnator, once Reincarnated into the Pacifist. I almost took the game, but was hit with a Zap trying to Compromise, and Ben got to take his turn with a reverse cone and win the game.

Railroads of Catan

The next game we gamely tried a rail game I created using the Settlers of Catan board. The game was completely unplayed, so the prices were expected to be way off base, and the turn order was unpolished, with a lot of rules forgotten or done out of order. I expected we would go a round or two and then stop, but it was actually interesting enough that we kept going through four rounds when we had to call it quits in any event. Ben won by a nose despite a huge last gain on my last turn of $53,000 netting me a total of $70,200. Ben had $71,000 exactly. Sharon has something like $69,000 and Nadine had some difficulties, including a derailment at a crucial time, putting her at somewhere in the $30,000 range.

There is definitely a lot of potential here, and a lot of polishing work to be done. See you next week.


Mar 03, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Yitzchak, Ben, Sharon, Rachel A

El Grande

We started off with a 5 player game of El Grande, which lasted way too long. Don’t get me wrong; it was fun. It’s just that we are supposed to fit in our time slot of 2-2.5 hours for a game, and this went from 6:30 (a little later) until 10:00. One of the interludes included yelling at the burger place we ordered from who, for the last time, delivered the wrong order, and then was rude to us and hung up three times when we called them to complain.

In any case, the game was close after round 3, and then Nadine pulled ahead from everyone, as usual. Still, not by that much (6-7 points), so one day we hope to catch her. 🙂

Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers

During this time, Sharon showed up, and Rachel played a game of Carcassonne: H&G with her to keep her occupied, which Sharon won, despite it being her first game (with help from Rachel and then me as the obnoxious kibbitzer). Sharon then practiced playing Set for a while.

Apples to Apples

Being late, we didn’t want to start a full game, so I thought I would just show the group Apples to Apples, not at all a strategic game. It needs the right crowd and the right level of inebriation to really work, but it was a little amusing for newcomers, and YItzchak got a quick win. After that, I also showed them 6 Nimmt, which is also not that strategic, so also not a big win. I can’t remember the winner, and I’m not sure anyone really cares.

Next week is Purim, so Happy Purim everyone.


Feb 25, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Saarya, Yacov, Rachel, Sharon

El Grande

Nadine has been asking us to play El Grande again, which I am not averse to, so we brough it out for a 5 player game. Some games, particularly El Grande and Princs of Florence work better with the maximum number of players (5), whereas others, such as Settlers and Puerto Rico work better with 4.

In any case, it was Nadine, Saarya, David K, Yacov and myself. A lot of high cards went out early, but after the first scoring round, we were all within 5 points of each other, still. By the second round, however, Nadine had established her dominance, with myself and Saarya 10 points behind, and David K and Yacov another 10 points behind us. Although we tried hard to bring her down, and it helped a bit, Nadine still won by about 6 points. I think I was in second place.

Pente

While this was going on, Sharon showed up. So as not to keep her waiting (we have a lot of slow thinkers, and a lot of group advice being given out during each turn), I played a few games of Pente with her. This was her first time, so I won the first game, but she won the second, and I won the next two. Of course, this distraction was why I ultimately lost El Grande 🙂 (no).

Puerto Rico

Afterwards, we broke out Puerto Rico, for a five player game with myself, David K, Nadine, Rachel (my wife), and Sharon. Again, this was Sharon’s first time, although she had watched many games, and Yacov sat beside her advising her. I took an early lead with coffee, and David, even though he was on my right, got locked out of a lot of traiding, whereas Rachel, on my left with tobacco and a small market benefited from my trades. Rachel looked like she was doing pretty well with cash (eventually having 5 goods and Factory, plus a 10 point bonus from Custom House), but I also looked like I was doing well with shipping, having both Harbor and Wharf. David K also got Factory, however, and eventually Wharf and two big buildings to my none, through a very stupid move on my part of not trading when I should have. Two big buildings is hard to fight, and he won the game 55 to Rachel’s 51 and my 49.

11:30 pm, and time to go home.


Feb 18, 2004

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Roy

History of the World

A quiet, small group. Roy brought over History of the World. It is played in seven phases, like Die Macher, on a board where each person is vying to control territory, like El Grande, but, unlike El Grande, scoring is after each player’s move, instead of at the end of the round. Each player also has 10 special power cards to help him during his turn.

Unfortunately, it ends up playing more like Risk, since the bulk of the game ends up being combat with the very Risk-like rules: two dice to the attacker, one to the defender, highest die. Lots of rolling and kicking out people from territories. It is definitely better in that there is no early elimination and the game ends after 7 rounds. But the positions are not balanced (it trades some balance for historical accuracy), bad dice rolling is frustrating, and there is little strategy (El Grande doesn’t have much strategy, either, and that is a weakness).

Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers

We elected not to continue after 2.5 hours and the end of round 3, much to Roy’s dissapointment. Instead, we played a game of Carcassonne. I always forget how much more difficult it is as a 4 player game. We also decided to try my brother David’s suggestion of holding 3 tiles, to try to reduce the randomness and increase the strategy. While it did both, to a slight extent, I didn’t feel it added enough to the game to warrant the slightly increased analysis time. I could take it or leave it. In any case, it was a close game, and despite my stealing a waterway from Roy, he managed to find and hold a very profitable field, which won him the game.

Alan Frazin has comlained that he can never make Wednesday nights. If other people want to get together to play on another night, once in a while, he would appreciate it.


Feb 11, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, David K, Nadine, Yacov, Yitzchak, Roy, Sharon

Magic: the Gathering

As often happens, whenever David K is available to play, we met early to play a few pre-sesion games of Magic and Puerto Rico (once with my expansion sets, once without). David says that it is most enjoyable to play as a pair, once with and once without. Too much expansions leaves one discombobulated, too much straight PR can get dull.

Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers

Saarya then joined us for a game of Carcassonne: H&G, where I quickly fell behind, although I started a nice waterway and a field. Saarya played an early tile that locked one meeple of both David and I until late in the game. Then both of them joined my waterway, and then, before I could add a second hut, Saarya added one, and pretty much closed it off. He also managed to join my field, clinching the game.

Die Macher

Five of us, me, David, Saarya, Nadine and Yacov all tried to play the game Die Macher, which David brought to the group. Starting at 6:30, by 9:30 we had finished the explanations and one round, out of seven. At that point, Yacov gave up, Saarya gave up, Nadine wanted to try one more round – she said she liked it, but that it should be four rounds, not seven – David need to go by 11:30, and I was having a ball, even though I was not doing so well, and David had hugely one the first election.

The second round only took half an hour for the 3 of us, which proves my point (I’m not sure what point, but it proves it). I really hope we try it again, now that we know the rules. We may have to play with fewer players or fewer rounds, to fit it into the normal game evening.

Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers

While that was going on, Roy and Yitzchak played their first game of Carcassonne: H&G. I understood that neither of them took much of an interest in the fields. Afterwards, Sharon joined them for her first game. I don’t know the results of either of these games.

Bang

Now being about 10:15, and David having to go at 11:30, and leaving us with five players (me, Saarya, David K, Sharon and Nadine), we tried a ganme of Bang. It was pretty good, but there are really two problems with the game: one is that the Renegade really doesn’t have a chance, and two is the early knockout, which leaves players twidling their thumbs while the game finishes, luckily not for too long.

See you next week!


Feb 04, 2004

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Ben, Rachel and Rachel, Yitzchak, Nadine, David K

Once again I delayed this for too long, and now I’m a little hazy on what happened, so here goes, anyway …

Puerto Rico

Jon, Yitzchak, Nadine, Ben, Rachel/Rachel

We taught Yitzchak and Rachel how to play Puerto Rico. Now this is a new Rachel; Ben has been bring a steady supply of new gamers (way to go, Ben!) from his yishuv to play. Rachel (the new one) sat down to play, and my wife Rachel helped her out until she had to go. Ben also bought Puerto Rico so that he could play at his house between games.

Yitzchak had also never played, but he had watched us play before.

Ben once again triumphed, starting out with an early coffee monopoly. I had the opportunity to buy coffee, but with all the coffee plantations already flipped over, when it cam time to buy a building, I figured there wasn’t going to be a plantation left to go with my building by the time it came around to the Settler phase, so I took a Tobacco Storage. Lo and behold, I think 3 more coffees flipped up in the next Settler phase.

As is typical, I also divided my time between trying to win and helping out the new players. I thought we were already in turn 8 so I got a Wharf (better than Harbor in a 5 player game), but it turns out that I had miscounted and we were only on turn 6, so I should have gotten a Factory. What can you do?

Because of Ben’s coffee, he managed to trade for 2 large buildings, which always takes a good position to a winning position. I believe Yitzchak came in second, Rachel/Rachel in 3rd, me in 4th, and Nadine in last, but all very close.

Princes of Florence

David K, Saarya

David K had an unusual chance to play off of hiw regular “every 3 weeks”. He came while we were still playing Puerto Rico, so he sat down to teach Saarya why letting someone get a lot of Jesters is a Bad Idea in Princes of Florence …

Princes of Florence

Jon, Nadine, David K

… and then proceeded to show me and Nadine, as well. The only solution, as he says, is to bid up Jesters until they come at a cost. Now we have to find out where that cost is.

Hey, I just discovered that the boards of Princes of Florence are all subtly color coded to match the pieces. Cool!

Settlers of Catan

Yitzchak, Rachel, Ben

While this was going on, Yitzchak, Ben and Rachel had a quiet game of Settlers, and, for the first time this year, I believe, Ben lost a game. Yitzchak took it.

Boggle

Nadine, Jon

David K left, leaving Nadine and I with not much time until the Settlers game ended, so we played a few quick games of Boggle (I vowed not to mention the results on this page, since it’s not really a strategy game … so there!)

David K bought Die Macher to loan to the game group, so next week will be two gaming tracks: the usual, and a Die Macher track. See you then!


Jan 28, 2004

Participants: Ephrayim, Nadine, Saarya, Yacov, Sharon, Rachel

Puerto Rico w/expansions

Saarya, Yacov, Nadine, Yehuda

Another day, another great gaming session.

I was third player position, Saarya second, which gave him the worst seat, but at least he was in front of me. I can’t remember the expansion buildings used. From now on, I am going to take better notes! I recall that we all thought it was down to Saarya or me, but after flipping over the victory points, it ended up being Nadine who was fourth player position.

Settlers of Catan

Ephrayim, Saarya, Yehuda, Nadine

This was Ephrayim’s first game of Settlers. Being an experienced war gamer, he picked it up pretty quickly. I had an opportunity to completely cut off Nadine, I believe, but I don’t believe in doing that sort of thing, since I don’t enjoy spending an hour and a half with no chance to win, and I suspect that noone else does either. (I will cut off people, just not if it kills them entirely.)

Anyway, it was pretty close for a long while, but I had no wheat, which hurt. I still squeaked out a win by pulling to lucky victory points.

David and Goliath

Nadine, Rachel, Yacov, Yehuda

With not quite enough time left, we played two games of David and Goliath. It is really a good game, somewhere between hearts and bridge. Rachel (my wife) tried a game, but I think Sharon took it. I think. Hmmm. Yacov also played sometime tonight. Oh well. I promise to take better notes next time.


Jan 21, 2004

Participants: Jon, David K, Saarya, Nadine, Roy, Ben, Yitzchak, Sharon

This report is late. I got over being sick, so at least it was at my house again. Again, I don’t remember what games Roy, Yacov, and Yitzchak played, sorry. My memeory is baginning to go.

Magic: the Gathering

David Klein comes only once every 3 sessions, so when he comes, we try to play some early games before the official session starts. In this case, we got in a draft of magic cards. Each time we play, I try to come up with something different. This time, I took a random 96 cards, 16 from each color and 16 artifacts/special lands/golds. I shuffled, gave each of us 48. We each picked 2 cards, and passed one to our opponent, then picked 2 more cards, etc… Usually we use the same 96 cards and do a standard 4 card up draft.

Anyway, though I usualy lose horribly, this time we came up with balanced decks, and I felt I had a chance. He won 2 out of 3, anyway.

Puerto Rico w/expansions

We moved on to a 2 player game of Puerto Rico using 2/3 my buildings. I don’t know how often I have to repeat this: my buildings ROCK! Playing PR with them takes a great game to amazing. I usually don’t brag this much about what I do, but I haven’t heard much from others around the world, yet, except for some noise inItaly and one group in the U.S. The rest of you are just missing out. Anyway, I won the game by a few VP’s, about the time that Nadine showed up.

Princes of Florence

Nadine and David and Roy and I played Princs of Florence. I’m starting to get into it, but I really don’t think I will ever really love it unless I can make up some new things for it. It is more like a puzzle than a game. As seems to be a familiar pattern, Nadine pulled into an early lead, and just kept it. Well done.

Settlers of Catan

While this was going on, Ben and Saarya and Yitzchak played Settlers of Catan. Ben, the guy who complains that he never has any luck, won again, making him 3 for 3 this year.

Citadels

Ben and Sharon and Saarya and Yacov played a game of Citadels, just to prove that we still don’t like it. I tried to explain that it is about bluffing, not choosing the best card, but it still just doesn’t work for us. Sharon put evryone out of their misery by winning quickly.

Bang

For the comic part of the evening, we had exactly 7 people, and it looked like an opportunity to try out Bang, which I had bought but never played, yet. With a lot of whining and wheedling, I convinced everyone to try. What followed was rather amusing, as I didn’t remember any of the rules, and they are not easy to understand from the instaructions whcih rely on all these symbols.

We tossed the cards around and almost gave up, but struggled through. Once we understood what was going on, we actually enjoyed ourselves. I was the first player eliminated (I shot at lots of people, and it is the general rule to target me first, it seems). Ealy elimiation is definitely a downside to the game. It was down to David (renegade), Yacov (sherriff) and Sharon (deputy). Sharon had already convinced everyone that she was a deputy, but David K worked hard at trying to confuse Yacov (successfully), but Sharon managed to lay him low anyway, leading to a win for Sharon and Yacov.


Jan 14, 2004

Participants: Ben, Saarya, Yacov, Nadine, Hanna, Yitzchak, Sharon

This report is late in coming, and I was also sick and I couldn’t host. Nadine lives around the corner, so she hosted. Thanks Nadine for saving the day!

Settlers of Catan

Ben, Saarya, Yacov, Nadine SoC: Ben 10, S 9, Y 9, N 8

Ben, Hana, Yitzchak, Sharon Soc: Ben 10, Ha 5, Yi 6, Sh 4

Ben, Saarya, Yacov and Nadine played Settlers. A very close game, with Ben winning, Saarya and Yacov both at 9, and Nadine at 8.

Ben brought two newcomers, Hanna and Yitzchak. So they played an introductory game of Settlers (what else?) with Sharon, where Ben won again, this time a trounce. I told Ben he should let new players win, but he doesn’t listen to me (Ben is my younger older brother).

Puerto Rico

Saarya, Nadine, Yacov PR: Saarya 61, N 52, Y 39

Meanwhile, Saarya, Nadine and Yacov played Puerto Rico. I didn’t hear much about this one except the final scores: Saarya 61, Nadine 52, Yacov 39. Well done, Saarya.


Jan 07, 2004

Attendees: Jon, Ephrayim, Nadine, Sharon, Saarya

This report has been a long time coming, so it will be brief and as accurate as my memory:

El Grande

Nadine and Ephrayim, Saarya and I (Jon) played El Grande. Nadine took an early lead, and basically kept it for the rest of the game. I think I came second.

David and Goliath

Then Sharon came, and we all played David and Goliath, where Nadine won again, by some ridiculous number of points.

Settlers of Catan

Ephrayim had to go, so we played a game of Settlers, where Sharon trounced us by pulling a string of good numbers.