Tag Archive | pillars of the earth

January 21, 2008

Participants: Gili, Jon, Nadine, Avri

Game night in Gili’s house as she had to babysit her kids. Avri from the Beit Shemesh group was in town so he came over for the night.

Pillars of the Earth

Avri 46/6, Nadine 46/2, Jon 46/0, Gili 39

First play for Gili. First four-player game for Nadine and me.

I loved the three-player game. I see it as a far better worker-placement game than Caylus, which is just fiddly, long, and tiresome. On the other hand, I can see how others could like Caylus better, as Caylus has less luck and more meat.

There is luck in PotE, not just randomness, ’tis true. But the better you get in the game, the less the luck affects you. I was hit by one instance of bad luck because I didn’t plan well. Unlike other games, planning for the bad luck is not a “waste”, because you can usually convert all of your reserved cushions for victory points on the last round, anyway. There is, perhaps, a bit more luck in four-player than in three-player. The order the master workers are drawn can be a problem.

In our game, my instance of bad luck was that I needed either of the two metal converting craftsman to be available for purchase on the last round, since I grabbed first-player position on fifth round. Unfortunately for me, neither one showed up on the bottom row for purchase, and instead both were only available for master worker acquisition in the second phase. And, my master workers were not drawn before others could grab these craftsman in the second phase.

But the reason that the bad luck affected me was because I let my money drop so low. If I hadn’t, I would also have benefited just as much from the craftsman who converts gold to victory points. Instead, Nadine picked up one of these and Avri picked up the other. So my bad luck was partially my fault.

And as you can see, we ended in a three-way tie, with me losing the tiebreaker even after all the cash conversion by Nadine and Avri. Gili was the one who picked up the nice bonus card that let her look at the upcoming events, but most of the events were good events, and the ones that weren’t didn’t really hurt anyone.

Rook

Jon/Gili+, Nadine/Avri

I taught all of them how to play Rook. Rook is a nice partnership, trick-taking, kitty card game, not particularly better or worse than any other partnership, trick-taking, kitty card game (such as Whist). The Rook card is not really a great mechanic, especially if played with the real rules, but we played with the standard variation that the rook could only be played as a usual trump card. Then we decided to limit it even further, by making the rook only function if it is played in response to, or starts, a trump trick; i.e. it cannot be used to ruff another trick. It’s still not a great mechanic.

I think the point was to encourage a particular dynamic from an age that appreciated it. Modern gamers would prefer the 1 of trumps to be worth 20 points – not the top trump which is guaranteed to win the trick anyway. That gives you more need for careful tactical play.

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December 31, 2008

Participants: Nadine, Moshe, Gili, Avraham, Jon, David K

Happy New Year’s Eve, something we all forgot about until 11:58. Game night went on a tad too long tonight.

I came late, and Nadine opened up for me. Moshe is a newbie who came in for his first visit to the club, and his first exposure to new games. His previous game experience is Chess.

R-Eco

Moshe 12, Nadine 8, Gili 5

First game, Moshe won. He later said that he really enjoyed it, as it was the only game he played this evening that wasn’t going to take several plays to understand the strategy.

It’s Alive

Avraham 58, Nadine, Gili, Moshe

This was the game they were starting when I finally arrived. I told them to continue, since I like to see my game played, and so that I could get some Magic drafting in with David when he arrived. David arrived and we did some drafting.

Avraham completed his monster and scored well. Nadine came in second.

Pillars of the Earth

Nadine 54, David 53, Jon 44

This was my secret santa gift, which just arrived on Tuesday. So first time play for all of us.

I’ve never really liked Caylus, and this game is why. Caylus may be the standard game with the worker placement mechanism, but it’s way too fiddly and long.

This game doesn’t exactly replace Caylus’ mechanics, but it fits in the same genre and it’s simply better. A number of mechanics work together well, things are tight, but not TOO tight, and competitive but not TOO competitive. And there’s always more available than what you are able to do.

It comes with some overproduced wooden pieces that probably drive the price up, but they’re kinda cute, at least. There were also a few niggly rule issues that came up and can be found in hidden corners in the rule book, so it’s not perfectly elegant. But, despite many random elements to the game, it’s definitely a planning game, and lots of fun.

We played our first game without peeking at any of the cards, so we had no idea as to what possible events would occur or bonus cards would become available. Since none of us knew the best strategies, Nadine started the game off by going for the pretty blue cubes. I said at the beginning of the game that she’ll probably win because of this, and she did.

David seemed to be falling behind, with too much gold and not enough to do with it. Luckily for him, one of the bonus cards that came up translated every 3 of his gold into victory points, which allowed him to shoot from well behind to one point away from winning in the last round of the game.

I decided to use up my money and concentrate on vp production, which did me pretty well until the above last round, as I mentioned. I was a little money shy in rounds 4 and 5, but not too much to worry about; again, except for that one bonus card which David got.

Player positioning didn’t seem to be too much of an issue in our three-player game. We occasionally considered it, but there was always something more directly worthwhile to do. It would have been nice if Starting Player came with a victory point or free cube or something. It could be that it’s a more worthwhile choice in four-player game, when the better spaces are already taken, and when starting player may matter more.

Settlers of Catan

Avraham 10, Moshe 8, Gili 6

Settlers is a good game for a new player. Avraham had also only played it a few times, and Gili still loves to play it. I don’t know what happened in the game.

Chess

Moshe++, Avraham

They played two games of this while waiting for us to finish PotE.

Magic: the Gathering

David++, Jon

We got to play Magic again, and David won twice, as usual. The first time in a short game, as I had the wrong mana and he had a great start. The second was closer, at least. I cleverly took out one of his annoying creatures, but he had another one going that I had to sacrifice against for several rounds, until he was finally able to remove my last defenders. I didn’t draw any of several cards that could have taken it out.

Puerto Rico

Moshe 56, Avraham 47, Nadine 44

Nadine taught Moshe while I banged my had on the table listening to her. They played a straight set of buildings, and Nadine gave her usual new player advice, which meant that the new player did well while she suffered. Moshe had both coffee monopoly, Harbor, and guild Hall. Nadine would also like it to be known that she didn’t pull any corn throughout the game, which weakened her Factory. Avraham had many early corns, in contrast.

And that was the last game of the year; technically, it was also the first game of the new year.