Tag Archive | taj mahal

May 10, 2017

Participants: Jon, David, Aaron, Nadine, Gili, Haim S, Daniel Oshrat

Welcome Oshrat, to whom I didn’t get to speak.

Magic: The Gathering

David+, Jon

David drafted a slew of powerful green creatures, while I got a lot of cards that, in combinations of 5 cards, could give one of my creatures a +1/+1 counter. I wasn’t expecting to win. David claimed that his deck wasn’t all that strong, because he didn’t have a lot of great cards to go with his smackdown creatures. Right.

I lost pretty quickly.

Taj Mahal

Aaron 40, Haim 40, Daniel 37, Gili 33, Oshrat 25

First play for everyone but Gili. There doesn’t seem to be any tiebreaker in the rules. I don’t know what everyone thought of it.


David 151, Jon 130, Nadine 115

Second play for me and David. The first time I played we played a few major things wrong, so this was my first play with the correct rules. The tactics in this game are so complicated, that I still feel like I’m playing a near total tactical game, although flashes of strategy peek through here or there. This must be what I felt the first dozen times that I played Puerto Rico, but more so.

I saw David mastering a few of the tactics, including taking and scoring several 9 point trajans and winning every vote in the senate. He also pulled 4 matching cards in his first 6 card pulls, which was ridiculous. I expected him to win by around 60 points, but he stalled a bit in the last few rounds, allowing me to catch up to only 20 points behind. I made that 40 point gain in the last few rounds, pulling ahead of Nadine who until then had been doing about as well as I was.

Nadine took most of the wild tiles, and was first to move in the military. I tried the x2 bonuses again, and all of them paid off to some extent: I got to use some of them more than once, but this required me to focus on getting bonus action tiles, so it’s kind of a constricted game play that pays off a lot once every few rounds.

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.


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.


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.


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.

A lot of Paris

Gili, Josh, Sara, Eitan, Emily, Itai, Nadine

I thought we’d have light attendance due to vacations, but we had a good crowd in the end. Emily and Eitan brought Itai, a fellow student, Jewish Philosophy and Law.

El Grande

Eitan 19, 36, 41, 64, 80, 103  (before the first scoring, first, before second, second, 8th round, end)
Itai Yellow 28, 40, 52, 75, 79, 105
Emily Red 14, 30, 47, 66, 80, 108
Nadine Blue 26, 58, 68, 89, 116, 134

OK, also Spain. Nobody understands why I win so often, I don’t really either though I do have a lot of experience now. I played high cards at the beginning to take the king and special scoring, but the others also took those. I did have some regions to myself for some reason. It was Itai’s first play, he did very well, and he’s not an experienced board gamer, he caught onto the strategy and started off strong. But he and Emily fought over his Grande region, Granada, ending with over 20 cubes there between them, and both their Grandes. I blocked him once because I didn’t want him to score high in two regions, he had the eight scoreboard in Granada, but I didn’t realize Emily already had more than he did there. The game was close except for me. Emily planned well for a Lose all your guys from one region card, it hurt Itai and Eitan because they had to pick a region with at least 3 guys.

The board picture is from the 8th round, they had a hard time figuring out ways to attack me (blue). Eitan Castillo’d in to tie me in my Grande region, Aragon, and Itai moved the king in when we were tied on the last round, with the 4-0-0 mobile scoreboard. Neither of us scored and no one got the king. It was the ‘move the king to an adjacent region’ which tends to show up on the last round. We skipped 3 cards at the end – Veto, Clear your court, and Take back a Power Card.

Notre Dame

Josh 57, Sara 52, Gili 50

Gili brought and taught this. At first they thought Sara won, but then Josh found some more points.

Louis XIV

Gili 64, Sara 55, Josh 49

Gili also taught this.

Notre Dame

Nadine 58, Eitan 54, Itai 48, Emily 46

I taught this, Emily and Eitan had played a long time ago. I haven’t played in a while either. I wasn’t ahead but was the only one on Notre Dame one round, netting 11 points. I had the extra point from early on, Emily and Itai did too though Itai lost it at the end. I didn’t have a lot of cubes or money. Eitan had a lot of money, last round he and Emily both had two cubes in Notre Dame. Itai used the point strategy effectively, with 5 cubes in that sector. Eitan got a lot of points for not having the extra point thing. Itai did well with the rats, the rest of went over once, Eitan and I twice.

Last week at Gili’s – Emily came in first, Eitan second in Egizia with Elisheva and Gili; Lotem won against Asif, Nina and Shlomo in Settlers.

Three weeks ago at Gili’s with six players –  Taj Mahal, Castle Panic twice, The De Vinci Code, Kingsburger, and Dominion.

October 18, 2011 – Sukkot Games Day

Nadine, Emily, Eitan, Gili, Jake, Eliezer, Meir, Rochelle, Daphna, Eszter

Rochelle is from Australia and comes regularly to our evening sessions.
Gili, Emily and Eitan are regulars.
Eliezer and Meir came from Beit Shemesh, Eliezer attends the group there, Meir is in yeshiva.
Eszter is originally from Hungary and came a few times during the summer.
Jake is a new oleh from Boston, he’s been here 3 weeks.
Daphna is in ulpan, she made aliya 3 months ago from LA. She heard about us from Eitan’s mom.

People arrived between 1:30 and 2 pm, and most stayed until 10:30. One additional person emailed for directions, which I didn’t see until the evening, but he could have called because my number was in the announcement that he had. My new neighbors who just moved here from Efrat combined their sukkah with ours, so we had a lot of space. And it didn’t rain, though it did get cold later in the day.

Carson City
Nadine 44, Emily 40, Gili 35, Eitan 33, Jake 25
We picked this as easier for a new gamer than Amun Re with the auctioning. Jake has played Settlers, but this was his first more complicated game, and it took him a while to understand all the different implications. Emily and Eitan were also pretty new to the game. There was a lot of fighting for everything, and a lot of duels. Last round Gili, Jake and Eitan had 10 cowboys. I managed to get the white cowboy only once, by passing early, for the third round, but that was enough to put me far enough ahead. I had the building discount card the first two rounds, which helped me because I had good buildings and income from the start, and third round the available buildings weren’t good and people didn’t buy many. This is the first time I understood how the surroundings work for buildings other than mines and ranches, I thought it was buildings and houses, but it’s actually only houses.

Eitan robbed people’s income several times, Gili fought him but I didn’t, he took half of my 15 for a saloon twice. Everyone except me fought for the guns on the last round; I had used all my workers to get money third round so I went last and took the plot card. Gili played well but had bad luck in dice rolls, which Eitan had counted on. Overall people liked the game.


Gili and Eitan played during a break.

Taj Mahal
Eitan 61, Eszter 42, Gili 36, Daphna, Jake
Jake left partway through but they continued playing. First play for Jake, Eszter and Daphna, who all enjoyed the game. Eitan said he understood and liked the strategy this time.

Eliezer and Meir played when they arrived and we were still playing Carson City.
We played at the end also:
Eliezer 15, Nadine 10, Emily 7, Meir -1

El Grande
Nadine 30, 76, 107

Eliezer 26, 63, 99
Meir 35, 79, 92
Emily 14, 50, 86
Rochelle 23, 61, 85
First play for Meir and Rochelle, Eliezer explained the game.
Eliezer picked this and was teaching it as we were finishing Carson City, so I joined, and then Emily also did. There was a bit of confusion as we tried to start El Grande, finish and count points for Carson City, and select restaurants and order food. We tried a brand new one, Daisy where Shakespeare used to be, with mixed opinions, and some people ordered from Village Green.

I wasn’t ahead until the end and didn’t think I’d win. Meir was ahead most of the game, with Eliezer catching up. Other people did things at the end which helped me, such as special scoring. My region was New Castille which I don’t like because it’s competitive and in the middle, but someone put the 4-0-0 scoreboard there which helped me because then everyone stayed out of the region. Until the very end, when two others went there from the castillo, matching my 3 pieces, and giving all of us 0.

The scoring round before, no one challenged Meir in Granada because we all thought everyone else would go there, there was duplication in where we went from the castillo. Rochelle caught on and played well, but hurt herself by making her Old Castille region too competitive with the 9 point scoreboard. People put large numbers of pieces into the castillo, and then crowded small regions such as Aragon and Seville.

Lo Ra
Emily 8, 19, 39

Nadine 10, 13, 28
Meir 0, 9, 26
Eliezer 5, 3, 22
Eliezer really liked my Jewish theming and pictures, he had played regular Ra. It was hard to get everything we needed. Eliezer took a large set at the end of one round, and Meir got the three items he wanted at the end of the game before the last auction tile.

Daphna got this recently so we played a few cards after everyone else left. The wooden pieces are nice.

September, 21, 2011

Participants: Nadine, Emily, Eitan, Rachelle, Gili

Taj Mahal

Gili 47, Eitan 44, Rachelle 38, Nadine 33, Emily 31

Gili brought this. First play for Emily and Rachelle, and Eitan only played once. Eitan was ahead most of the game, Emily seemed to be doing well too. Rachelle caught on well and had the yellow two-point card half the game, but would have done some things differently if she had realized about the cards points at the end. I saved cards for 17 points, which wasn’t enough, I would have done better by competing more. Gili had 3 more cards than Eitan at the end so she won.

Lo Ra

Eitan 41, Emily 32, Rachelle 33, Nadine 11

Eitan 4, 14 41 (scores each round)
Emily 6, 11, 32
Rachelle 3, 6, 33
Nadine 9, 12, 11

I was ahead first round. We had a lot of fun with the tension at the end of the rounds. Rachelle was left last twice, once she took one tile, once 4, all before the last auction tile turned up.

Emily and Eitan played Railroad Tycoon in Copenhagen last night, and saw real Ra game boxes. Next game night in two weeks.

October 13, 2010

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Mace, Gili, Nechama, Elijah, David K

Gili brought her friend Nechama. She pretty much spoke only Hebrew, and my Hebrew isn’t terribly good. I hope she enjoyed herself.

San Juan

Elijah 39, Jon 37, Mace 35, Nadine 32

I haven’t played this in a while, mostly because I really wish it had a good expansion. I generally remember the game as good, but not particularly special, but when I play it it’s always a slightly better game than I remember.

Nadine wasn’t particularly looking forward to playing it. This was Mace’s first play.

Elijah started with an early Prefecture followed by an early Library and Tobacco. Nadine started with Coffee and Mace with Carpenter. I had nothing to build in the first round. I finally got a Prefecture going by round 3, however, and Nadine built the third. Meanwhile, Mace built Quarry to go with his Carpenter and also ended the game with both City Hall and Palace.

I had Guild Hall, but it wasn’t enough.


David 26, Nechama 15, Gili 10

First play for Nechama. David was the only player who tossed out cards, and he tossed out 8 of them. Apparently illegal dumping pays off.

Taj Mahal

Elijah 34, Gili 32, Nechama 32, Mace 29, Nadine 28

First plays for Nechama and Mace. It was apparently Elijah’s night, and apparently not Nadine’s night.

Oddly for a five player game, commodities didn’t do to well and path connections did pretty well. I saw a few fierce battles out of the corner of my eye.

Magic: the Gathering

David+++, Jon+

We played with roughly the same cards that I played with Mace last time, having not properly mixed the random card pile before drafting.

I honestly thought that I had a decent chance at winning a few games with a W/G deck, 8 Plains to 6 Forests and mostly white cards. However most of my games came down to mana screw again. I drew 5 forests and no plains for much of the first game. I drew 3 forests and no other land at all for nearly all of the last game.

I won game 2 partly because David didn’t draw quite enough land to support his G/U/R deck, and partly because he drew a few times from his discards by accident instead of from his deck. I thought I was dong well, with a few white cards that sent his creatures back to his deck and a few direct disenchant spells, neutralizing all of his enchantments. But apparently I was fooling myself.

I was doing fine in game 3, but I left myself blockerless at 14 life against his 1/1 creature, and he won instantly with two Giant Growth’s and a spell that lets his creature deal its power in damage to target creature or player.


David 217, Mace 129, Jon 108, Nadine 55, Elijah 36

I gave this game the short shrift after our previous and first encounter with it, as it seemed like the strength of your cards determined your success and that the play with five players was somewhat random. It appeared to work better with four players, but that made the game kind of irrelevant since there are some much better four-player card games at hand.

Feedback on the Geek guilted me into giving this another try. Elijah and Nadine both vaguely remembered not liking the game, but unspecifically enough that they were willing to try it again. This was the first play for both David and Mace.

This time was a much better experience. In fact, even Nadine admitted that she found the game interesting after a few hands. Everyone else also said that they liked it.

I got a lot of laughs when explaining the rules, which are not really that complicated, though each of the few major rules has a number of niggly points to make it work, and the two tables (bid vs points required, points taken vs bonus) just have to be memorized or referred to on each hand. But it’s really not all that complicated if you’re used to other trick taking or bidding games, especially those that reward points based on the specific cards taken (as opposed to tricks taken).

The each-man-for-himself aspect works fairly well. As the hands progressed we began to feel the game was less random, and possibly even less luck-dependent on the cards (thought still highly so), and more for the strategy of the bidding and play. And our bidding got more aggressive.

Looks like this will hit the table again, after all.

May 12, 2010

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Ksenia, Abraham, Sara, David, Gili, Eitan, Emily

Ksenia was able to join us again, for once. I think she was inspired after having won In the Shadow of the Emperor on shabbat. Also nice to see Sara coming more regularly.


Jon 51, Ksenia 41, Nadine 32

Scores approximate. First play of Dominion for Ksenia. Both Nadine and Ksenia started on VPs a tad too early, imho. We played with the Seaside Village that give +3 actions and +2 gold which is incredibly under-priced at a measly 3 cost. Tack on some card drawing cards (such as Nobles) and the play was pretty straightforward. Ksenia also took a Sea Hag, who was a minor annoyance since there were no cards that trashed other cards.


Abraham+, Sara

This may have been Sara’s first play. Abraham won by a good margin.


Jon 31, Sara 30, Abraham 27

First plays for Abraham and Sara. Trias is one of those games that I love to pieces but don’t get to play much because the older regulars in the group don’t like it that much. Luckily, Abraham and Sara and Eitan and Emily are relative newcomers and so I can inflict these games on them at least once.

Also, Abraham is closer to my own feelings regarding which games he likes, and so he tends to like the games I like. He’s willing to play Santiago, for instance.

Abraham and Sara both loved Trias, so I’m thrilled. It didn’t take them long to get the hang of the basics, so most of the game was spent on tactics. Abraham managed to leach hex after hex away from other islands onto one on which he was alone, and the end scores were close. But he wasn’t quite diverse enough, and I managed to end with control of a 12 hex island, which just edged me into first place.


Nadine 80, Emily 79, Ksenia 67

First plays for Ksenia and Emily. Nadine started teaching a different group of people, but people showed up during the explanation, thought of joining and then some of them split off to start another game. I only played Cuba twice, and while I like it, I find the horizontal/vertical building activation mechanic on the players’ boards annoying.

In this game, according to Nadine’s notes: Nadine changed sugar into rum and shipped, Emily got money and had both shipping and building, and Ksenia had a blue stone and changed to VPs, but didn’t do it every turn.

Taj Mahal

David 53, Gili 53, Eitan 44

This was formed from the overflow of Cuba. First play for Eitan. A tie for David and Gili.

Reef Encounter

Abraham 38, Jon 31, Sara 24

Sara’s score is approximate. First play for me.

Some have compared Reef Encounter to Tigris and Euphrates or Go. Tom Vasel even claimed that once you have Reef Encounter, you can trade away T&E. While I’ve only played one game, so far it appears that nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing that RE and T&E share are the player screens and the tiles.

It’s certainly a pretty and colorful game, and the theme is fresh and interesting. It’s a good game, with quite a lot of depth to be explored. I enjoyed it fine, and will play again. But it’s no T&E.

Not simply because it wasn’t as good as T&E, which it wasn’t. But because the strategies and tactics are so different from each other, it’s like comparing apples and Chevies. They’re simply different games, plain and simple.

In RE, the object is to collect tiles of high value. You collect tiles by starting your turn with one of your markers on an area containing five or more tiles of the same color (you collect N-4 tiles from a reef that you eat). The values of the tiles are partially under your control during the game, though the values only matter at the end of the game. Each tile of a color will be worth between 1 to 5 points at the end of the game. So, in addition to your having to collect the tiles, you have to spend some time locking high values onto the color tiles that you are collecting.

The same part of the board that controls the end values of the tile colors also controls which colors are “dominant” during game play. When one color is dominant over another, tiles of the dominant color can be used to kick tiles of the recessive color (replace them) off the board. You can use then use the tiles that you kick off the board to control the tile values/dominance, or you can place them back on the board later.

At the end of each round, you get some more tiles from random piles, as well as a “control cube” – you spend a control cube on a color each time you want to place one or more tiles of that color.

Lastly, you have four markers, which sit on reefs and protect the spaces immediately orthogonal to them from being eaten by other colors, regardless of which color is dominant. Add to that some wacky board geometry, and you spend a lot of your time trying to figure out where the best place on the board is to grow your reefs so that they can get big before you eat them – and without other people’s tiles eating yours before you can harvest them.

In our game, both Sara and Abraham had large reefs that they ate, but Abraham got the colors locked in his favor. I had the choice on the last round which way to swing one of the tiles, and I swung it in favor of Abraham because I thought Sara had eaten more than Abraham had in his color specialty. Turns out I was wrong. If I had chose the other way, Abraham would have had 8 less points, and Sara 8 more points, and I would still probably have lost by a point or two.


David 16, Gili 15, Eitan 5

Also first play for Eitan, which surprised me.


Jon/David 515, Nadine/Ksenia 385

First play for Ksenia. This did not start out well for us.

In the first round, they both went out first. The next round we gained 15 points to their 85. The third round we split 50/50. David and I had crappy hands all three times.

Finally I got a decent pull and I called Grand Tichu (2 aces, 2 kings, Phoenix, jack, and 2 nines). It wasn’t a cakewalk, but I made it, plus another 50/50 break. We were still losing, and Nadine wanted to quit while they were ahead. I coerced her into playing one more round, in which David and I both went out. David went out first, and Nadine was on my right with only one card. And I had several cards and the Dog. Luckily, Nadine’s card wasn’t higher than a jack, and I was able to slowly play through all my cards and exit with the Dog.