Tag Archive | saikoro

June 16, 2015

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili

We played on Tuesday, because Wed was even more difficult for people. A small game night even so.


Gili said she would be late, and many of my games are still in boxes so I pulled this one out almost at random. Nadine doesn’t particularly like it, but I do. It’s little like Dvonn: hard to fathom why the early moves matter until you get closer to the end game, but the more you play, the more it seems to make sense. Still, the game, like a NIM game, will suddenly kill you if you don’t plan well ahead, and I lost to Nadine by one round.


First play for both of us. We played with a variant I heard online that lets you play one part of the parenthesis and take the other one from a pile set aside at the beginning of the game. Still the game play seems rather uninteresting, especially is you have an ergo and the opponent doesn’t, and the game moves seem rather limited. I will have to look up more commentary on the game. I got the game mostly because of the cool, geek theme.


Nadine 125, Jon 120, Gili 80something

We haven’t played this in a while, because I am of the opinion that it is just too long and fiddly, and I don’t like the provost mechanic, though I can see it’s appeal. My opinion didn’t change after this play, and I think my fellow gamers felt similarly. We didn’t do TOO much provost attacking, but enough to keep people away from the end of the line unless they took the “move the provost three spaces” action. Nadine took an early lead by monopolizing all of the best buildings, including every possible way to produce stone. She must have gained 50 points from people using her buildings (more than 5 a round, I believe). I planned for the best blue buildings, but Gili squeaked out the 25 point building ahead of me. It wasn’t enough to really hurt me; after all it costs 11 points in resources to take it.

Next time we’ll try Calyus Magna Carta.

June 01, 2011

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K

Quiet night.


Jon+, Gili

Gili is not into abstracts, but she agreed to try this quick game. I vaguely recall that when I first got the game, I could shake the dice while they were in the box; I see that this is not possible, so my memory must be faulty. This inability detracts from the ease of setting up the game.

Otherwise, it’s a very nice, quick, and pretty abstract game.

San Juan

Gili 36, Jon 33, Nadine 24

We had some trouble coming up with a filler game to play until Gili finally suggested this. I played several buildings to help my production and trading, and a Smithy. I had all 12 buildings built, two of them large buildings, and a Chapel going, too. But, in the end, Gili got a mid-game Guild Hall and that was that.

Time to a) change Guild Hall or b) disallow multiples of production buildings. It’s simply too unbalancing. This happens in nearly every game.


Gili 58, Jon 56, Nadine 51, David 50

Gili suggested this and I never turn this game down, as it’s my favorite game (or thereabouts, anyway). It’s enjoyable the first few times, and gets better as you learn all the possibilities. I can see that I’ll want some variant buildings maybe a few dozen more plays down the line; but we have a long way to go before that happens.

I thought I started out ok. I managed a good balance of trade chips. But I realized on turn five that I was severely lacking in trade goods: no gold, cows, or copper. Thus, I wasn’t able to take Church on round 5 or 6 like I generally aim for. Instead, Gili was the one with the early gold mine, and David swiped the other one. Gili saw me going for Church on round 7 and easily stole it from me.

I finally acquired good resources (a cow machine) and money as we neared the end, but not with enough sway to get the two Railroad Stations; David took those, though he paid a lot of resources to do so (bidding 16 in round 10, plus the coast of the three buildings). He didn’t have enough in the way of other VPs and he lost a lot paying off his final debts.

Just like San Juan, Gili had fewer buildings than I did but beat me by a few points. Nadine passed a few too many times, taking the 3 points on the railroad track at least twice.


Jon 83, Nadine 78, David 53

First play for David. I thought I could teach this quickly and we could play it fairly quickly (only 25 actions for each player, after all). I taught it quickly. And it didn’t appear to bog down at any point. But it took longer than I anticipated, around 2 hours. David had to leave before the last two turns were taken, so we played his turns for him.

We also played the missions correctly for the first time. In previous games we simply kept all of our missions, having missed the little note where it says to discard one of each color after the first and second passes.

I chose the 6 points per ship with smokestack, sail, and propeller over the 4 points per used water tile. The latter can be nice, but there’s no way to get multiple water tiles in a single action. My other mission was 3/10/17 points for 6 piece ships. I ended with 35 points from my missions, far more than David’s 22 and Nadine’s 18 or so.

My three boats scores 15, 15, and 18. Nadine’s one big boat scored 30 (10 speed, and landing on a 10 space flag, plus assorted other scoring features, and another scored pretty well, too. David concentrated on his missions, which included double smokestacks and number of ships, but missed out on some other scoring possibilities on the way. One of his boats only scored two points.

David adds: I had actually given up on winning quite a bit earlier. My strategy had been based on my bonus cards. I think if I had known how to play better it might even have been viable, but for a newbie it was WAY too ambitious as it required me to sail 6 ships. When I realized (fairly early) that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that I took your advice on setting a lower goal for the game.

Nadine adds: I had 15 bonus from having everything [every type of item] and 8 or 10 from blue and yellow cards, more than 18 [this works out to 23 or 25]. It’s hard to work on two bonuses at once, and we used to play with six.

March 17, 2010

Participants: Binyamin, Nadine, Gili, Abraham, Emily, Eitan, Jon, Tal, Toby

I never received a session report for last week, although a session took place. All I know about it is that they played Sienna and the night didn’t end until 1:30 am.

This week, the first week I’m back from the US, I had to be out until around 8:45, but I left the apt available. When I returned, gaming was going on.

Hunting Party

Abraham, Nadine, Binyamin, Gili

I don’t know what happened, but I think it was the first game for everyone except for Abraham, who brought the game. It might have been his second play. It sounded like a fantasy version of Clue. They appeared to enjoy the game.


Eitan, Emily

They came later, and played one and a half games of this until I arrived. I don’t know who won.


Jon 74, Emily 49, Eitan 46

We had all played this once as a five player game, although I had played Age of Steam a few additional times, as well. They both liked it, and, since Nadine didn’t really like, I figured it wouldn’t tempt her to break up the game she was playing.

We played on the German side of the board, and without the “first game” benefits. I don’t know if it was because we were only three players, or just because Steam is an easier game than AoS, but none of us ran into any money issues during the game. The first round, two people paid a buck or two at the end of the round, and that was that. The rest was jockeying for routes and cubes.

Ten rounds seemed to be too long for this. There are somewhat less options available later in the game, and in any case it was fairly determined that I was going to win by round 5 or 6, barring some catastrophic bad plays.

It’s still a nice game, especially for me because I love route planning and pickup and delivery mechanics. There’s no “luck”, but games play out very differently. One of the negative parts of the game still remains prominent: namely, that you can choose to give points to one of the other players, which can have a dramatic king-making effect.

In our game, we all played near the middle, but I was in the actual middle while my opponents played slightly to the south. Emily eventually took some northeast routes as well, while Eitan managed to get a route or two up to the northwest. I occupied the middle and north, from west to east.

February 09, 2010

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K, Binyamin, Abraham, Sara, Eitan, Emily

Game night moved to Tuesday night owing to a wedding on Wed.

Dominion + Intrigue + Seaside

Nadine 36, Gili 31, Jon 30

When Treasure Map shows up, one has to decide whether to go for it early or try something else. Last time I played with it, Chapel was also available, which made the decision easy. This time we had Warehouse (draw and discard three cards), which was nearly as nice, though not quite. Nadine and I both went for it, and she scored it well before I did. Which makes the game a little too reliant on luck.

Truth is, I should simply have bought a third one and I would have done better, so I really have myself to blame.

Gili went without it, taking Festivals, Feasts, and Mining Villages, which we also got to eventually.


Binyamin, David

Binyamin took this game home to learn and then taught it to David. Binyamin said it would take five minutes to explain and fifteen minutes to play, but it seemed like it took fifteen minutes to explain and five minutes to play. David didn’t look too enthused about playing it after the explanation, but since they were waiting for us to finish our game of Dominion, they went ahead.

There is apparently some tactical depth to the game, but I didn’t hear either of them raving about it. Still, I’ll have to try it eventually.


Eitan, Emily

When they arrived, they played this twice. When I first got the game, I thought the box was excellent, but recently I’ve noticed that the dice don’t really tumble properly if you just shake the box (like they do with Boggle). Eitan took the dice out and dumped them over the board. Still a nice game, though.


Binyamin+, Jon, Gili

This game is deceptively simple and coddling, which is probably why Nadine likes it. Something nice is always happening to you, even if you’re not winning. After a few plays, however, you realize that you need the nice things to happen to you faster than they do to the other players.

Some of your initial strategy depends on your opening hand. Gili said, at the end of the game, that her hand was particularly crappy, which is why she didn’t manage to claim any factions on the first round, and subsequently lost the game. I’m not sure how accurate this is. It would have to be really, really crappy, and there must also be no way of remedying the situation on the board, which doesn’t seem possible in a three player game.

Binyamin and I both started strong. I think I even may have started a little stronger, but I didn’t control both factions that I needed on the second round, so I didn’t get the Tribune until the last round of the game. Meanwhile, Binyamin ended up with control of five factions in round 3, which is unbelievable. Gili had ten cards for control of one of the factions on turn two, and, no surprise, she kept control of it until the end of the game.

The game ended after turn four, which seems to be about normal; it’s a quick game, even with the most “difficult” requirements.


Abraham+, Sara

Abraham taught Dvonn to Sara when they arrived, and Abraham won narrowly.

Stone Age

Sara 140, David 116, Abraham 115, Nadine 62

While I mocked them for rolling dice, they all seemed to enjoy playing this. They ended about the same time as we ended Tribune.


Jon 36, Binyamin 34, Emily 31, Eitan 26

First plays for Emily and Eitan. First win for me. This is another game that rewards multiple plays, and I’m starting to grow on it. It also looks like it cold use expansion buildings, like so many other games with special ability cards.

This is the first game where I didn’t worry too much about getting early people. I think that paid off, because placing people is expensive. I got an early Dyer and then something to boost my production. The first few rounds we all started off about the same, but I eventually burst forth from the pack with my Dye House, followed closely by Binyamin. Emily also kept pace with victory points, but not with production, and so couldn’t quite make the final push.

Eitan fell massively behind in production, but got both of the Shipyards, and so was poised for a late game comeback, but couldn’t come back enough.

Le Havre

David, Abraham, Nadine

Last time we played, David claimed an early debt strategy would be good, and so attempted to implement that this time. But they played for two hours and only made it halfway though the game, and so gave up when it began to get late.

Nadine and David both find the game fiddly. David likes the game well enough, but I think likes Agricola more. Nadine definitely likes Agricola more, while Abraham likes Le Havre more. So it taiku.


Binyamin, Abraham, David, Nadine, Jon

Abraham played a few hands with Binyamin against David and Nadine, and then I played a few hands with David against Binyamin and Nadine.

January 13, 2010

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K, Ben, Binyamin, Abraham, Bill, Shirley, Eitan, Emily

A nice complement of gamers return. First time we had three simultaneous games going in a while. Bill and Shirley return from a US visit.

Dominion / Intrigue / Seaside

Nadine 36, Jon 31, David, Gili

We played with random cards from all sets, and ended up with four cards that let you trash cards in your deck. I used Remodel, Wharf, and Nobles. Nadine seems to win by simply taking Silvers.

Binyamin 19, Ben 18, Abraham 17

While we played with one set of treasures, they played with the other set. I didn’t see the results, but apparently Ben ended up with 11 or so curses.


Jon 65, Gili 48, Eitan 43

First play for me and Eitan, second play for Gili. I had been wanting to play this ever since it was demo’d for me at BGG.con, but it never worked out. However, when I can get three games running simultaneously at game night, working things out becomes easier.

Homesteaders is up there with the great Eurogames, nearly all pure resource management and optimization, tons of routes to victory, a stark progression throughout the game, and interaction through auctions and denying other people scarce rewards.

It’s hard to get everything you want or need, and yet (in our game) money wasn’t too tight or painful, since you can always try something else, instead. It will take several playing to figure out play beyond mere “decent” to “focused”. Which is how it should be. I really love it. It has Alex Rockwell’s signature all over it.

It’s not perfect, however. It’s actually a little short (!). And, while elegant, sensible, and straightforward, and theme looks like it should be dripping from the pieces, the theme doesn’t come through much, and the game is not so … immersive as Puerto Rico, Agricola, or some other games. It’s very nerdy and calculating. You have to love planning and calculating. Trade this for that, these for those, swap these other things for one more of these, build a better income to get more of these, and gain move vp’s with these others.

It’s also a bit much for my analysis paralysis gamers, because they want to calculate all the possible points for all the possible swaps, and the time to value ratio for this is low. As for me, I just picked a few good paths and stuck with those that enhanced them, dismissing without calculating many other paths as not worth time thinking about. I figure that I’ll play several more games, trying out a bunch of paths each game, and then I’ll have a better idea about which ones work best.

In the meantime, as you can see, I won handily. I started with early steel production, and then used that for early trade chip production. Not too many of anything, but some of many things. I ignored apples and cows entirely, and only got a gold at the end for the 2 vp it gave me. I also got a few buildings that gave points for buildings of type X, and a few buildings of type X, which I recognized as fairly efficient. Lastly, the end buildings that let you buy them and then let you buy an additional building are killer buildings.

Nearly all of my buildings required no people, so I was saved in having to get people, and in having to pay for their upkeep. I wasn’t contested enough in the buildings; only once, when I had to pay $9 for what I wanted. I’m sure that won’t happen again, and money will feel more tight. I can’t tell you much about what the others were doing; Gili had warned that trade chips were essential, and so Eitan ended up with too many of them. Gili stole the 10 point building that generates 2 points a round away from me, but I got several other nice buildings instead.

One other thing: I think the debt taking is a tad too easy. You can take them whenever you want and there is no sense whatsoever in paying them back before the end of the game. They should really cost $1 a turn to maintain, like people.

Le Havre

Binyamin 137, Abraham 121, Emily 99

I foisted this onto them; Binyamin actually wanted to play Homesteaders, but we needed to divvy the people up. First play for him and for Emily. Abraham had played once before.

Binyamin didn’t like the game so much, although he may have warmed a little to it by the end. I think he compared it unfavorably to Agricola.


Ben 29, David 26, Nadine, Bill, Shirley

First play for everyone except Ben and Nadine. Nadine loves the game. Ben enjoys it, too. David didn’t warm to it much, though I don’t know why. David and Ben were the only ones who fulfilled the victory conditions, so once again it came down to who finished them first for the 2 point swing. David claims that he lost due to a specific mistake he knows that he made.


Jon+, Eitan

I taught this wonderful little two-player quick game to Eitan, who also liked it. I wish the box would allow a tad more room to shake the dice. Otherwise, it’s a neat and pretty little two player strategy game that plays differently each time and takes only about five minutes.


Jon/Nadine, Ben/David/Binyamin

We managed to play several hands of this at the end of game night. Bridge is always fun, always good, always challenging, and always will be. It’s what a great game should be.

Eitan looked on and tried to learn.

May 21, 2008

Participants: Jon, Bill, Nadine, Jonathan, Sergei, Daniel, Max, Binyamin, Ari

Bill came back even though we didn’t have a quorum for role playing again. Luckily, he plays board games, too. Max came a few times before with Jack (who only came a few times). Max and Jack were running a Russian-speaking game group in downtown Jerusalem for a while, but it petered out. Max brought with him Daniel and Sergei.

Robo Rally

Ari+, Jon, Binyamin, Jonathan, Max

This was a first game for Max and Binyamin. I picked a single board and a single flag. But it was the Maelstrom board, nearly entirely covered with concentric circles of walkways moving at different speed and depositing into a central pit. And the flag started out on one of these walkways, so moved one space each phase, too.

Needless to say, it looked like it was going to be wild and fun. For some reason, I calculated that the best way to get to the flag was to skirt the opposite direction to the walkway’s movement around the edge of the board and then try to rush in. Ari, instead, jumped onto the faster moving walkway which took him right opposite the slower moving flag in one turn. He won on turn two.

Jon+, Nadine, Sergei, Bill

Later in the evening we played again. This was the first play for Sergei, and second (?) for Bill.

We also used a single board and flag, but a simpler one, and the flag was stationary at the far corner. This time I won in two turns, by virtue of having hands full of Move 2 and Move 3 cards in both turns.

El Grande

Nadine 122, Daniel/Jon 104, Sergei 103, Bill 98

This was the first game for Sergei and Daniel, I believe. Daniel unfortunately had to leave after the second scoring round, so I took over while also playing Santiago.

When I took over, Nadine was well ahead of every other player, so she obviously neglected to inform them that she usually wins big time and they should all gang up on her. By the time I got there, it was too late. On round 8 she took an interim scoring opportunity which essentially sealed the game.

Round 3 scores: Nadine 37, Bill 37, Sergei 41, Daniel 35
Round 6 scores: Nadine 89, Bill 73, Sergei 74, Daniel 77


Jon+, Ari

After Ari won the first game of Robo Rally, we played two more rounds to see who would come in second. To keep Ari occupied, I played Saikoro with him.

It’s still a lovely game. I had no trouble cornering Ari for the win, as it was his first game.


Binyamin 72, Jon 62, Ari 45, Jonathan 43, Max 43

I love this game and have wanted to get it out for a long time, but I haven’t had the opportunity since some of the other club players don’t like it. But, with a new audience, I was finally able to do it. This was the first play for Max, and second plays for Ari and Jonathan.

Both Binyamin and I got in on an early potato field, while I also got an early sugar field, and he got a later pepper field. He had one more guy on the potato field, however, and managed his cash just a bit better, so as to earn a victory.

Race for the Galaxy

Binyamin 23, Jon 18, Nadine 18

Yes, very low scores, entirely because Nadine built low cost buildings on every single building phase, ending the game in some eight or nine rounds. Nadine knows the brown building strategy and isn’t happy when she doesn’t get those buildings. Binyamin says that he has tried the game with variants where you build up to twenty buildings (instead of twelve) and increase the vp chips, which he likes better than the standard game, as it ends too quickly.

It’s Alive

Sergei+++, Jonathan+, Max+

When they finished playing this, I thought they had played only one game and I asked their score. When they said that Sergei won with three, and Jonathan had one, and Max had one, I was confused, until I discovered that that was the number of games they had played, not the point counts. They played five games back to back in the time it took us to play Race for the Galaxy.

And after all that, Max said that he found the game somewhat repetitive. I’m guessing they liked it enough to play it five times, however.


Jon/Max, Binyamin/Nadine

We got in two hand of Bridge at the end of game night. This was Max’s first plays, and he kept comparing it to games he was familiar with.

April 29, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Dylan, Genia, Gili, David K

Game night was moved to Tuesday owing to Holocaust Remembrance day being Wed night / Thursday.

Solomon’s Stones

Nadine+, Jon

Jon, David

Solomon’s Stones is a game sent to me by a new publisher Solbenk. It has simple rules: each person takes one or more stones from any single column or row. The last person to take a stone loses.

For a full review, see my blog.

None of us really wanted to play this simple and elegant abstract game, as it was far more interesting to sit down and consider the game as a kind of puzzle. Working our way up from the most simple positions, we tried to determine how the game could be solved.

I was convinced that it would not be too difficult to solve. David considered that it might be more challenging to solve than it seems, and may even be NP complete. I will do a deeper analysis on some other night.


Dylan, Genia

Jon+, Dylan

Jon+, David

Saikoro is the second game sent to us by Solbenk. For a full review, see my blog.

In short, the game is a really good game, much better than I expected. I expected it to be depressingly simple or repetitive. But, in fact, the game provides an interesting set of patterns, a tight game play, and a story arc as the board changes and mobility becomes difficult.

We were still learning the patterns in my first games. David probably only lost to me because I didn’t fully explain all the rules before we started playing.

I expect that the game will come out again many times as a quick and interesting filler game for two people.

Notre Dame

Jon 73, Gili 67, Nadine 58, Dylan 47, Genia 44

This was Genia’s first game, and she was interrupted by a few phone calls during the game. She believe that she may have lost a few points she was supposed to get from her Park, though everyone else at the table claims to have given her the correct amount.

I played a very even game at the beginning, nearly completely ignoring victory points in favor of cubes, gold, Park and Hospital, with one cube in Notre Dame as an exception. As a result, I had only 5 VPs at the end of the first triad, while others had 15 or more. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to win.

Eventually, I took the favor that let me move three cubes over to the Park, allowing me to net +2 VP for each VP gain. As a result of this, moving my carriage, and a few other favors, I made a bunch of 10 point gains which put me tied for first place with Gili who was doing the VP track.

On the last round, Gili and I tied for points, but I had a cube in Notre Dame and she got hit with rats. The rats took Gili down a number of times during the game.

I can’t remember what everyone else was doing, but most people had a few cubes in Hospital and 2 in Park. I think this was my first victory.

Power Grid – Central Europe

Nadine 16, Jon 14, Gili 14, David 10*

In the last third of the game, we were all convinced that David was going to win this, hands down. In fact, it didn’t look like anyone else had a chance. David could power 13 while the rest of us could only power 9, and he had the money and cities, too.

However, in phase 2, he was stymied from building to 17 cities by the simple fact that every single city already had two plants in it. And on the last round, Nadine acquired a plant that allowed her to run out the fuel from under him. It’s amazing how often the game turns on what happens on the last round (and therefore, the penultimate round as well).

We played on the Central Europe board for the first time. Nadine found the nuclear building provinces silly; I rather liked them, although I wasn’t affected by them. In fact, I rather liked the board altogether.