Tag Archive | steam

Sukkot Games Day 5777

20161020_165201A lot of attendees with more new faces than usual.

Thank you to everyone who helped set up and clean up, a big help. Thank you especially to David for taking care of the long food order. We ordered from Pollo Loko for the first time. David had them read back the names for each item, but the order came without any names, missing one item, and without silverware or napkins. When David called to complain they said people need to request those. You would think with a large order they might ask if we want?

Antike

Yael+, Eszter, Binyamin S, Avi, David E

20161020_145719Bang the Dice Game

Sheriff Yael, Bandits+

Shariff Yael, Deputy Binyamin S, Bandits+

Bridge

Avi / Nadine, Ben / Jon

20161020_170415We played one hand before switching to Tichu, Avi made the 3NT that we bid.

Empires: Age of Discovery

Gili 104, Shnuer 94, Aaron 70, Arie 50

Castles of Burgundy

Gili 242, Yuval 206, Avi E 180, Yedidya 129

20161020_121905Gili taught this, first play for the others.

Codenames

Jon: I taught this to David C, Avi Einot, and Yokhay, and they all liked it. In the first game, Avi and I gave clues, in English to David C and Yokhay, which didn’t always go so well since they are Hebrew speakers and we are English speakers. In the second game, Avi gave clues to me in English and Yokhay gave clues to David in Hebrew. Sometimes they switched to English in order to give a clue that is one word in English but two words in Hebrew.

Five Tribes

Eszter  138, Dov 129, Tal 114, Nimrod 107

Gold West

David 115, Eszter 98, Nadine 81

Eszter taught us. Then when we saw Ezra wasn’t playing a game, she taught it again to him. After being interrupted by dinner, Ezra ended up leaving, but we finally played. I didn’t get all the rules right away, even when I did, I didn’t like the resource movement mechanic. Eszter helped us with recommendations, David liked the game.

Hawaii

Gili 104, Binyamin S 90, Eitan 86, Emily 70

20161020_225519It’s Alive

 

King of Tokyo

Avi+, Nadine, Gili, David, Yedidya

I killed Gili, David and Yedidya, but then Avi killed me to win.

Lo Ra

Nadine 35, Shneur 27, Aaron 20

New to both, they liked the game. Before counting most and least money, Shneur had 32, Nadine 30.

Magic

Jon++, David +

David says Jon is on a long winning streak. Jon: David and I drafted cards and I ended up with a relatively tight deck that had some fliers and creature control, but nothing else spectacular. In the first game, I drew as well as I could have, but I had limited land after the initial opening hand and David took me down with bigger creatures.after killing my fliers. In the second game, David was entirely mana screwed, with a hand full of blue cards and no blue lands. In the third game, I was able to eke out another win where both of us had average draws.

Nefarious

Ben didn’t win, I don’t know who else played.

20161020_145800Pax Pamir

Gili, Cliff, Shalom, Refaela

Gilli and Cliff won together.

Phoenicia

Jon, David, Avi, Aaron

Jon: David made one strategic and one tactical mistake in the penultimate and ultimate rounds. Avi thought it was too hard to catch up once ou were losing (although with more experience, hopefully no one will be losing by too much). I taught the game again to David, Avi, and Aaron. I hadn’t played it in a while, and we are not sure that we got the action card availability mechanics correct. David took a wide lead in the middle of the game and held it, but he spent one 20161020_170126round too long building up his infrastructure. I used that one round to gain a huge amount of victory points; that was the penultimate round. On the last round, he neglected (forgot) to deprive me of a card I used to keep my lead. While I would have gotten almost as many points anyway, it was a mistake.  

Scythe

Ofer

 

Signorie

Ben 154, Nadine 133, Assaf 120

20161020_170110First play for Ben, second for Assaf. Ben complained the whole time that he wasn’t getting the game, and about his limited possibilities, though of course he did well. I don’t think he liked the game despite winning. He’s right about the luck elements, such as which flag tiles are available and which ones you need. Assaf did well with marrying daughters into cities, he placed them all in one city which limited his end game bonuses, which lost him 8 or 12 points, and he didn’t invest in many white discs. I concentrated on the book track, not enough to beat Ben’s training of sons – and he also got points from the book track.

Slap Deck

Jon: I taught this to several new people and played several times. Many people liked the game a lot, especially David C (guy from my work who came for the first time), Avi Einot, and Yokhay Liot (the last two guys are new to me and I met them at the end of the evening).

20161020_105552Smiley Faces

Gili, Yuval, David, Avi

Steam

Jon 55, Nati 52, David C 52, Yael 47

Jon: first plays for Yael, Nati, and David C, who all liked the game. I invited them to gang up on me, and they did some of the time but not all of the time. They also all played very well, but I managed to get a 2 or 3 point lead by mid game and just managed to keep hold of it until the end.

20161020_170142Tzolk’in

Eliezer 68, Alan Greenspan 66, Michael 61, Ofer

Tichu

Avi / Nadine, David / Yedidya+

Avi / Nadine 915, David / Ben 1050+

Avi and I had a pair of kings overtaken by a pair of aces twice, ruining our plans.

20161020_212706Jon / Yechiel 1195, Aaron / Shneur 605

Jon: I played with Assaf’s friend Yechiel from Kokhav Hashachar (first play) against Aaron and Shnuer (first or second play). Yechiel made some beginner mistakes, but played very well for his first time. He even called Tichu twice (made it once). I called it three times and made it twice. In one of the times I made it, Aaron on my right played his second to last card (a 7) and I called Tichu, which shocked him. I played an 8. Luckily for me, my partner played his K so Aaron could not play his last card, which was a K. I overtook my partner’s K with one of my aces, played a long straight, then a full house of Q’s over aces, and then got out with the dog.

In another interesting hand, I pulled in my opening 2 aces, 3 Q’s. 3 tens, a straight 2 to 6, and the phoenix. David and Avi’s advice for passing was to pass one 10 to each other player, but I decided to pass the 2, 3, and 4. I got back 2 4’s and the dragon, making an easy tichu. Aaron also called and made or lost some tichus. At one point, one hand took us from 795, and them at 105, to us 695 and them 405, and then us 695 them 605. But those two hands were their only streak. In the next hand it was 995 to 605, and then 1195 to 605.

20161020_170110Year of the Dragon

Nadine 105, Ben 96, Shneur 81, Assaf 79, Ezra 76

New to everyone except me, Ben had played once. This is a very hard game to get on the first play but they all did well, especially Ben. Assaf jumped ahead of me in turn order before the game and took a dragon, I took one on the next round. Ezra started with Books but couldn’t maintain it, no one else focused on it either. Ben had a lot of people, but was slower with round points. I did single building for a while until I finally took a builder. I took a Monk at the beginning for turn order, and was unexpectedly able to keep him til the end of the game. I got one double one, Ben had two double ones.

20161020_132939

Bang the Dice Game

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May 25, 2016

Participants: Jon, David, Nadine, Gili, Nisan, Francis, Binyamin, Aaron,, Shneur, Sagi, Eszter, Binyamin R (Eszter’s son)

Eszer brought her son, Gili brought Sagi I believe. From the group chatter I thought there was going to be one more person.

Magic: The Gathering

Jon++

Once again, I ended up playing a color I was not expecting to, which made me regret several of my draft choices. I had a few R direct damage and some basic red creatures, but my W had some fliers and game enders. Also, I was already playing BG, and I had an artifact that gave BGW mana. My casting costs were pretty low and my card power was medium. I didn’t have anything very strong, which made me worried.

David had some strong creatures and most were fliers, but he only played with 10 creatures. In the first game he picked ok but I was able to take him out. In the second game he just didn’t pick any mana.

Love Letter: Batman Edition

???

Nadine 9, David 0

This was played early in the evening by some people, and then later several times by Nadine and David. Nadine toasted David, as you can see. Nadine doesn’t like the Batman themed art. She won with the Baron’s card 6 or 7 times.

Die Dolmengotter

David 81, Jon 70, Nadine 44

I taught this is a filler game to Nadine and David. Nadine doesn’t like abstracts, so she didn’t try much. I learned that putting your best stone as the first stone in an octagon is not necessarily the best play, since other stones placed on top later (even your own) will sink it.

David apparently figured this out before I did and so ended with the higher score. This game is far better with three players than with two, and may even be better with four. More players give you more room for strategy and interesting tactical play.

Dead of Winter

Binyamin, Aaron, Shneur, Francis

These four are players who favor thematic games, so they joined to play one of Binyamin’s new arrivals. It is a cooperative game with a potential traitor. There was no traitor, and they all won. The game includes electronic instructions, like a VCR/DVD game. I think they all had a good time.

Settlers of Catan

Nisan 11, Gili 6, Sagi 6

First play for Sagi, I gather. The scores were something like 7/7/7 at one point. I believe that Nisan won by stealing Largest Army and Longest Road in one play.

Steam

David 77, Jon 67, Nadine 65

The last time we played this, David made an early mistake but was sure he could do better. He always beats himself up when making a mistake (even after taking a long time to think about it), forgetting that everyone else is also making mistakes and probably not even smart enough to realize it. In the end, he is very good at these kinds of games.

Nadine wasn’t sure if she wanted to play again, but she admits the game is good. Like last game, I spent most of my time off in a corner, so Nadine fed David some extra points by using his tracks. Maybe the center really is the better location. Hard to tell.

It’s possible that the game is 1 or 2 rounds too long with three players. There are still things to do, but the scoring positions of the players never seem to change in these rounds.

Nefarious

Eszter 21, Jon 20, Nadine 18, David 16, Binyamin (E.s.) 14

First play for Binyamin, and a reminder of the rules for Eszter. Eszter and I both passed 20 on the same round, but she had the extra point. Our twists were a) cycle all cards in hand after each build, and b) use the previous invention’s effects when playing an invention without effects.

May 18, 2016

Participants: Jon, David K, Nadine, Netanel, Alan

Netanel came for his first time; I don’t remember how he heard of the club. He had played a few Eurogames with his family, such as Catan, Cities and Knights of Catan, and Netrunner. He is looking to find other games for his family, more complicated than Catan but less wearying than Cities and Knights.

Alan wasn’t sure if he was coming, and I didn’t hear back from him until we had started a game, so he formed a team with Nadine in the middle of a game.

Magic: The Gathering

Jon++, David+

I continue my winning streak. We drafted, as usual. I ended up playing colors I wasn’t expecting to play during the draft (except for R); I played RBU, with the option of swapping out either B or U for G. All of my cards had a high casting cost, so my deck was painfully slow. One of my cards was a 7/7 artifact for 9, which I didn’t really think I would get into play but I put it in my deck for the first two games anyway (I took it out for the third game). I played with more land than I usually do: 17 instead of 16. I didn’t have any multicolor lands or multicolor mana artifacts, but I had 4 or 5 cards with scry. I had a few nice flyers and some direct damage. I hoped to survive on the ground long enough to get my flyers into play and I tried to save my direct damage for his flyers or anything that looked very dangerous.

David played RWg, I believe. In the first game, I had too few lands. Even after tossing a non-land to get a land, I couldn’t get to more than 4 lands for most of the game. I had to use direct damage on turn 2 to take out his RW 2/2 creature that evolved and made all of his creatures that had counters on them first strike.

The second game was a stalemate on the ground, which was good for me. He couldn’t block my flyers. He was pumping out 1/1 creature tokens and eventually tried to rush me, but I played a blue card that returned all attacking creatures to his hand. In the third game, he was land-shy. I toasted the same creature with the same direct damage that I did in the first game. After that it played exactly like the second game: I flew, he rushed, I sent his creatures back to his hand, and he resigned.

Steam

Jon 53, David 48, Nadine/Alan 34, Netanel 34

I like this game a lot, other than its minor kingmaking problem. I rarely get to play it, since Nadine doesn’t like route-building games and it’s a bit punishing for new players. But David didn’t remember it and it seemed like a game that fit the category that Netanel was looking for. Alan joined Nadine in round 2 or 3. We played on the Germany side, which I was unfamiliar with.

Nadine hurt David in the first round by building to the same city that he did and taking the cube he needed before he could. She then said that she liked the game a bit more than she remembered. Then Netanel built a route to block her from where she was laying track, and she said that she remembered that she didn’t like the game. Then, in the last round, she did the same to him.

David built in the center of the board, which gave him access to many cubes but also competition for these cubes. While this hurt him in the first round, he quickly recovered. By round 3, he was on par with the other two players, but slightly behind me. As a result of his central building, he netted about 10 points in the last 4 rounds from the other players using his tracks.

I built in the corners of the board, which gave me unfettered access to my cubes but no points from others using my tracks. In the last few rounds I built across the board and took a few cubes from Netanel’s area (which he couldn’t use, anyway).

We were all a little slow in building up our engines, so none of us made it to 6 point deliveries. I considered it in round 6 (out of 8), but it didn’t make sense to give up a 5 point delivery to do so (even if I made five perfect 6-point deliveries, it would only have equalled what I could do with six 5-point deliveries).

I think everyone pretty much enjoyed the game, with reservations. David might have won if he hadn’t had his first round setback. We’ll see if they are willing to play again.

Nefarious

David 28, Jon 24, Nadine 20, Alan 20

Alan suggested this for the limited time we had remaining. Our twists were 1) you had to pre-select the card you wanted to invent, and 2) everyone played 2 action cards each round.

2 action cards each round is a major twist: it means you can practically build an invention every round. It also makes all of your minions doubly valuable. I was earning 4 coins a round, but David played his minions better than I did and earned 6 or 8 coins each round.

All four of us made it to 20 points on the same round. I did my best on the next round with a 4 point invention, but I couldn’t compete with David’s massive money pile. He played an 8 point invention and still ended with 10 coins!

October 14, 2015

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Nisan, David, Avi, Gili, Aaron, Schneur, Alan

Alan came late and had to wait a bit, but not too long.

Parade

Jon 2, David 4, Nadine 5, Nisan, Avi

Avi 6, Jon 11, David, Nadine, Nisan

First plays for Nisan. Avi ended the first game with a rainbow tableau, and then Nisan did the same in the second game. Nadine hurt me in one color on the final move in the second game, but I still would have been one point down.

Taj Mahal

Nadine 62, David 50, Gili 38, Avi less

First play for Avi, at least. Avi didn’t like the game at all and switched to just collecting cards. Nadine had good luck; she sat out at least one battle that drained five or more cards from the others. Avi had bad luck, although I think he might not yet have a mature feel for when it is worth battling and when not. Still, you can do you best and some annoying opponent just won’t give up. And that’s what it’s all about. I heard a number of expressions of frustration with the gameplay.

Steam

Jon 54, Nisan 49, Schneur 33, Aaron 32

Meanwhile I took advantage of new victims to inflict a train game on them, since my older players don’t like train games and I rarely get to play one. First play for all of them.

We all played spotty in the opening two or three turns. Nisan took a role that didn’t end up helping him, but actually it made him first in turn order the next round, so it did, kind of. In turn 5, when I started progressing in VP, he took one more boost in income, making him one delivery behind me in points. In truth, it cost him a few points in VPs (he gained some in VPs on the income track) but might have given him some in being able to pay for roles or tracks, so I don’t know. I think the more important mistake was leaving me with a supply of 6 point deliveries; they could have eaten into that a bit harder and made it more difficult for me to deliver cubes by the end.

Nisan benefited by having one side of the board to himself for most of the game, and in the end Shneur and Aaron sent a few points his way during their own deliveries, which nearly changed the outcome.

Nefarious

Nadine 20, David 17, Alan 16, Avi 15

First play for Alan. They played with the twists: 1) lose all of your money after inventing, and 2) play two actions each round.

On Nadine’s first turn, she thought she had 20 coins and selected Invent, but then she realized that she couldn’t invent anything with only 10 coins. David would have won with 22 if he had played Invent and Research instead of Research and Work on the last round; Nadine had 12 points and played an 8 point invention.

April 20, 2011: Games Day

Participants: Jon, Gili, Lotem, Nadine, David 1, Ellis, Peleg, Zachary, Michael, Elijah, Abraham, David 2, Eitan, Emily, Adam, Vallah, Jessica, Diana, Max, Hila, Saarya, Noam, Aryeh, Ori, Yishai

I think that’s everyone. I got to play several games I really like but don’t get to play often enough with my usual regulars. It was a hopping, successful games day, with just enough chair and table space to go around, and only a little downtime for some people. Most everyone enjoyed their games, from what I heard.

There was one exception: one guy who appeared to be a lonely grandfatherly type showed up to play without the slightest idea as to why or what we play. He was, perhaps, the worst match for game playing since Dan Bosley’s infamous Misadventures in Gaming series. He was loud and talked continuously in bad Hebrew (he was an English speaker, and we were all (mostly) English speakers as well). He thought he was very funny when he wasn’t the slightest bit funny, ever. He kept accusing everyone, jokingly, of cheating, hiding cards, and being a shark. He wouldn’t listen to single explanation of any rules – deliberately reading unrelated game material while you tried to talk – and complained every turn about not knowing what to do or what the game was about.

He was the first person I was going to personally throw out of my house for being impossible; thank goodness he chose that moment to leave. After four excruciating games.

Note that it’s possible that I missed a game, somewhere.

Age of Empires III

Michael 84, Abraham 83, Gili 78, Elijah 74, Lotem 52

I almost started playing this game after teaching it to Lotem, Elijah, and Abraham, but them Michael walked in and wouldn’t have had a game partner. I knew Michael would like the game, so I told him to take my place and then gave him the quick run down as the first turn got underway.

At the end of the game, as they were packing up, Michael was down 14 points. he then asked if he was supposed to score these face down tiles in front of him that he had forgotten about. So it turned out that he won by a point.

Antike

Jon 8, David1, Ellis, Peleg

The last excruciating game played with the above described non-gamer. Ellis and Peleg appeared to enjoy the game. I started off as the Phoenicians, and, while Peleg and Ellis fought in northern Europe, I took a commanding and embarrassing lead.

Citadels

Emily 32, Eitan 31

They played together when they first arrived and were waiting for other people to free up. They like this game, which I don’t because of the Assassin.

They also took Gosu off of my hands, another game that only they liked (not that no one else liked it, it’s just that we didn’t like it).

Cosmic Encounter

Adam, David2, Elijah, Zachary, Vallah

I heard a lot of laughing going on in this game. The ending appears to have come down to a major kingmaking situation.

Dominion

In all of these games, only the base set was used.

Nadine 42, Ellis 36, Peleg 27, David1 23

Nadine says that this is the first time she’s really gotten the game. She was cycling she cycled through her entire deck several times as the game played.

Abraham, Nadine, Peleg, Ellis

They ended the game early, though it appears that Abraham had tuned his deck and was on his way to winning.

Jon 33, Max 29, Elijah 24, Jessica 10

We played with the same set that was abandoned by the previous players: Cellar, Chapel, Bureaucrat, Militia, Moneylender, Smithy, Spy, Thief, Throne Room, Library.

Note the lack of a 3 point card, the lack of anything useful in 5 point cards, the great amount of 4 point cards, and the great amount of attack cards with no defense. And note that many of the cards trash cards from your own or others’ hands, or force you to discard cards.

The result was a game where decks were shrinking nearly as fast as they were growing and we were constantly mixing. Max was already starting to feel a little burnt out on Dominion, and this was a particularly annoying set.

I had dumped all of my coppers and Estates and had just enough cash to buy provinces, but lived in constant fear that a thief would take away my purchasing power. I was very lucky; the thieves either got my little money, or no money at all, or I always bought a new Gold right after they trashed one of mine anyway. Still, I thought Max might be winning.

Elijah was the only one who bothered to take a Throne Room, and therefore was able to chain double actions. It didn’t seem to help him much, as he usually ended up with only 4 purchasing power after his chains, anyway.

El Grande

Abraham/Elijah 95, Michael 94, Nadine 92, Emily 85, Eitan 64

Abraham starts this, but then switched to Steam because a) he wanted to play Steam and b) Elijah didn’t and would have been sitting around waiting for a game otherwise.

After the first third, Abraham was in the lead by around 8 points. By the second scoring, the lead had narrowed to 1 point ahead of Nadine, the usual favorite to win.

Genoa

Gili 785, Eitan 700, Noam 690, Emily 550

Noam was rumored to be winning the game at around the half-point. This was the last game to finish the day.

Heroes of Graxia

Jon, Zachary

I wanted to try this game out for its first play, and I thought that Zachary would like it, since he’s more of an American-style gamer than a Euro-gamer (he likes some direct competition in his games). Yes, he did very much like the game. I liked it, too, though perhaps a bit less.

Unfortunately, we decided to stop the game around mid-way because we had messed up so many rules that the game balance was entirely off at that point. For instance, we mistook the price of the cards at one point, letting Zachary buy ten or so cards
at nearly nothing when they should have been 3 or 4 times as expensive (we mistook the toss-out value for the card cost). We forgot the defense value in our first two attacks, thus suffering about twice as many wounds as we should have. And so on.

First game is a learning experience, as I always say. I think I’m ready to teach the game for the next try.

So what do I think? Unlike Dominion, every card is available each game, but only certain cards are available to a player on his turn; you may buy a mediocre card only to reveal a better card which your opponent can now buy. So that’s bad. But, otherwise, the game looks pretty solid and enjoyable. Certainly for my opponent, who was looking forward to something with a little PvP. It’s VERY hard to figure out the right buying approach on your first play.

Homesteaders

Jessica 54, Jon 48, Ellis 41, Peleg 37

First play for everyone except me. I said a number of times, apparently, how much I like the game. I though I was doing pretty well, but I had had to accumulate 6 debt chips to do it. I was hoping to cancel most of them by the game end, but I was still left with 4. that was enough to sink me from winning.

The other three players all had piles of 4 or more trade goods (gold, copper, or cows) at the end of the game. I’m not sure exactly how Jess managed to pull off a victory; actually, I thought Peleg was doing better.

It’s Alive

Adam, Vallah, David2

Vallah noted to me later that she didn’t particularly like the game (I’m not sure if she knew that I was he designer).

Saarya, Noam, Aryeh 

Zachary 49, Elijah 43, Jon 33

First play for Zachary. This was a quickly played game. I failed miserably, as you can see.

Key Harvest

Zachary 25+, Eitan 25-, Emily 22, Nadine 19

I’ve never played this, and I didn’t see how it went.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Adam, Vallah

Played when they first came and were waiting for others to free up.

Notre Dame

Nadine 73, Ellis 50, Zachary 43, Peleg 27, David1 26

Nadine administered a beatdown, I see. First plays for everyone else.

Odds and Evens

Michael 3, Elijah 1

Michael insisted that I record this one, so that it be known that he won something.

R-Eco

Nadine 11, Peleg 7, Ellis -1, David1 -5

First play for all except Nadine.

Rock Paper Scissors

Michael 3, Jon 2

See Odds and Evens.

Settlers of Catan

Gili 10, Jessica 6, Diana/Max 4

Diana started playing this as her first game, but she got bored of it. Max took over for her when he arrived.

Steam

Abraham 46, Jon 45, Ellis 43, Peleg 14

First plays for everyone except me. A tough fought game. Any one of the three leaders could have swung the game by transitioning from income to points one move earlier or later.

Peleg spectacularly failed to get his engine moving and spent too much time building his first links.

Tigris and Euphrates

Eitan 4/4/4/10, Nadine 4/4/4/4, Emily 3/4/5/7, Gili 3/4/5/5

Looks to have been a close game.

Tobago

Jon 44, Abraham 36, Lotem 29, Gili 18

One of the first games played, first play for everyone except me. Once again we played without the curses. I took this idea from Binyamin, and I think I will play this way from now on. The amulets are still very useful for chaining actions and for removing cubes.

Torres

Yishai+, Saarya, Aryeh, Oren

First play for everyone except for Saarya, and he hadn’t played this in a very long time. Actually, no one in the game group has played this for quite a long time, which is a shame.

The cards were in German, but I only had to field one question during the game, so the symbology was basically good enough after my explanation.

Tribune

Max+, Elijah, Jessica, Hila

They played the four player medium game where 30 Denari is one of the four required conditions. First play for everyone except Elijah.

February 02, 2011

Participants: Jon, Gili, Mace

Game night started at 8, since I had to drop some people (including Nadine) at a wedding, which I couldn’t stay at. I said some hellos, and then returned.

Steam

Jon 70ish, Mace 55ish, Gili 52ish.

First play for Mace, second for Gili. I didn’t write the scores down. I was allowed to choose any game I wanted, and Gili was willing to play this again, though she had done very poorly last time. This time she did much better (though she still lost).

We had very little intersection, and only once or twice made any deliveries on someone else’s track. So the one negative factor of Steam, which is kingmaking, didn’t come into play. Also, three players gives you a great selection of available roles to choose from; it’s much more painful with 4 or 5 players.

In our game, I stated on the East Cost and expanded straight west. Gili started on the “south” and expanded straight north. Mace started in the “southwest” expanded north. I managed to keep a higher income and also build more links. That kept me ahead for most of the game. Gili and Mace were neck and neck for most of the game, with Gili ahead in point, but Mace ahead in links.

October 27, 2010

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nechama, Nadine, Max, Sergei

Gili brought her friend Nechama, again. Although she doesn’t speak English that well, she is enjoying the games and the club.

It’s Alive

Nechama 57, Gili 42, Jon 38, Nadine 32

Scores approximate. First play for Nechama. I tried to manage my money well, but I drew very poor tiles for much of the first part of the game, which made life difficult. Happens sometimes.

Steam

Jon 78, Max 70, Gili 40

Scores approximate. First plays for both Gili and Max. Max said that he had never played a train game; however, he had played Ticket to Ride and Power Grid, both of which are train games in their way.

Gili started off poorly, and then sank poorer, hitting -7 on the income track at one point. It was as much as she could do to simply get back up to positive and end with a decent score by the game’s end. Most players with reasonable play and approximately equal experience should not fall so far behind during a game.

The bigger problem with the game is the kingmaking at the end, something I wrote about last time. Max and I were fairly close, with me clearly in the lead by a half a dozen points or so. However, if she had wanted to, Gili could easily have given the game to Max by moving cubes on his routes. This disturbs me greatly, because often you have to move on someone else’s routes, you have no reason to pick one player over another, and the decision determines the game. Bad.

I think I have a possible solution: points earned by someone else moving on your track can only be used to increase your income, not your victory points. If you are negative on the income track, you’re behind anyway; if you’re positive, you’re gaining 1/2 victory point per track used instead of 1 victory point, a significant mitigating factor. And the gain limits out at 10 income.

If this happened at the beginning of the game, it would be a significant advantage. But toward the end of the game, maxing out at 10 on the income isn’t as much of a problem or determination of victory. And yet, you still can gain something from someone else using your track. I’ll try this out next game.

The map we played on, the Eastern US, tends to favor a certain building pattern. I didn’t mind this, since the actual track paths are always so different, but Max thought this could be a problem. Luckily there are two maps included in the game, and several dozen others available to purchase or download.

I took the East, Gili started in the south, and we grew toward each other. With occasional rogue track placement in the other person’s territories. Max started out on the West and eventually merged south with Gili, north and then east and west back down the center of the board to merge with me.

We nearly ran out of player disks, and the game doesn’t say what happens if you do. Speaking of running out of things, Max was also annoyed at the rule that you can’t build a type of track junction if the tile isn’t available; and that it can become available by changing an area of the board that is nowhere near your construction. I think I agree, but I can’t see how to change that. Otherwise, he liked the game a lot.

Prince of Florence

Nadine 59, Sergei 58, Nechama 55

Nadine taught this to both of them. And it sounded like she pretty much played both of their positions throughout the game, so close game-ending scores is not a surprise.

Notre Dame

Sergei 69, Nadine 64, Nechama 50

Nadine taught this to both of them. as well. Same story. Sergei won with a heavy car movement strategy.

Dominion/Intrigue/Seaside

Max 29, Gili 29, Jon 24

Kingdoms: Remodel, Envoy, Courtyard, Masquerade, Baron, Scout, Haven, Native Village, Explorer, Tactician

A strange set, with lots of drawing and discarding. And a rare pull for us with multiple Seaside kingdoms and only one kingdom from the base set. All three of us made mistakes by reading trash instead of discard or vice versa on some card, or by missing that the Explorer puts the money into your hand: quite a powerhouse of a card.

I tried some combination of Remodel, Native Village (mostly for the 2 actions) and Masquerades, hoping to get some Explorers and so on. But Max pulled an early Tactician and two Provinces faster than you could bat an eye. Gili also pulled two provinces before I could.

We eventually all ended with four Provinces, but I had given away all of my other points (Masquerade, Remodel), while Max (on my right) had five Estates and Gili (on my left) had two Estates and a Duchy.