Tag Archive | tobago


Gili drove me, Eszter and Binyamin to Kibbutz Hannaton on Friday morning. A few people were already there, and many arrived soon after.

New game trends – Plants, lots of plants! Fruit, herbs, gardens and more. Maybe replacing farming.


Walnut Grove

We started with this, new to Yuval and Binyamin. Eszter won, beating me by one point. She made a mistake at the beginning, she thought she had a yellow farmer and board, but she had a blue one, and only realized it after setting up to produce yellow, and having returned her tiles. I had her switch to a yellow farmer instead of redrawing tiles. Everyone enjoyed playing.

Lewis & Clark

I had played this at bgg.con, and just remembered how slow it was to move up the river, which is the point of the game. It’s actually not so slow, especially by the end of the game when I understood how things worked. I wasn’t as behind as I expected to be, the other two were almost tied at the end. It’s a nice game which requires a lot of thinking and planning, with hand management, worker placement and deck building elements.


My new favorite filler, though it is pretty light. After I learned it I taught it to several people who also liked it. Beautiful artwork, quick to learn and fun to play. Competitive set collection, you can take sets when you want, but can’t add to them later, so you want to maximize before other players take things.


I had heard a lot about this award-winning game, mostly complaints that it was too light. I was pleasantly surprised, it’s a very nice game, one of the best for its length, which makes sense considering how popular it is. Easy to learn, and quick. I learned in a two-player game, we stopped for dinner, but she was close to winning, and I wasn’t. I played again later, a 4-player game with experienced players. I won on my turn, but the others all had an extra turn, and another player tied with me. The tie-breaker is number of cards you played – but we were tied again. I had set myself up to get two nobles in the hope that one would work out, I managed to get both, frustrating Zoya who was trying for the same ones.

Dr. Eureka

A brain and dexterity speed game. I wasn’t good at it, but it’s fun. Binyamin really liked it, and did well. People played it a lot.

Isle of Skye

I like it better now that I understand it. (And I’ll be able to see how it resembles the actual scenery this summer.) I was in last place the whole game, which gave me a lot of extra money, which I used to buy my own tiles. I hadn’t realized scoring and placement aspects and left a hole that no tiles matched. On the last round, two tiles for sale fit, and I was first to buy. One of them even closed off two scoring tiles; I ended up coming in second.

Mutant Meeples

A nice and original game. I couldn’t think fast enough, but it was after midnight. Binyamin liked it.

Walking around, I pointed out a few move options for a new Five Tribes player after she tried to land on an empty tile, but then saw that she understood the game and could do OK on her own. That made me realize how much I wanted to play the game.


Five Tribes

So I got players to agree to Five Tribes starting off in the morning. One player was new, he did well with a combination of two assassin djinns – use the assassinated piece, and assassinate two. He got two tiles twice with it, but then the reds ran out. Maria had a djinn that let her place on tiles with meeples. Dima got 25 points one turn, and blocked me on a card I needed. I was doing cards but then stalled when the ones I needed weren’t available, and I didn’t  have much else, no djinns. Then the seventh and eighth cards I needed came out and I got them, and then at the end the last one came out. But there weren’t many moves left at that point, and I couldn’t land on a buy two tile. The new player took two cards, which let me get what I needed with a buy one tile. The whole game I thought I was behind, but was thinking how much I liked playing anyway. In the end I somehow won by around 30 points. I was second in yellows from a late move which helped, and no one else did a lot of cards.

Year of the Dragon

All new players, who had a hard time with the unforgiving nature of the game. We warned Maria about rice and disease, but she wanted fireworks, and did Yuval. They had around 7 each time, with a disagreement because we ran out of firework pieces. I said you can’t run out, so we used extra people to represent two tiles for Yuval. Maria hadn’t realized that we were doing that, she thought she would be ahead until his move. So we did let her redo her move to take fireworks, for 8 vs his 7. I’ve never been in a game with so many. She ended up losing all her people and palaces, ending with one palace level, but she did a good job compensating with dragons, and didn’t do too badly. People also built a lot, somewhat related to rice events being late. I won by a bit, even though I made mistakes and was down to four people at the end. The players understood the game but it is really hard, and hard to enjoy losing people. Dima did well, close to the end of the game he asked what happens when you don’t have space in your palaces for a person you take, I said that’ what everyone’s been doing the whole game, replacing people.

Fabled Fruit

They wanted a light game after that, so someone explained Fabeled Fruit, by Friedemann Friese. It’s a nice game and fun to play, good for a light game but a bit much to set up as a filler. Kids would enjoy it. We played two games then stopped, even though there is a nice mechanic of new cards and placement options coming in all the time. Dima won both games.

Broom Service

We spent a long time learning this, including starting the first round over because I misunderstood movement options, or they misunderstood my question about it. We stopped after two rounds. The main mechanic is trying to guess / deduce if other players have the same cards as you. Sometimes you know, like if they’re out of cards, and sometimes you’re guessing. The mechanic is fine, but not interesting enough to carry a whole game for another five rounds.


I haven’t played this in ages. Someone else came over to explain it which took a while, but after that it went well, all new players except me. I lost three treasure cards because of the skull, I still came in third out of four. They agreed that our house rule makes sense, no skulls.

Eszter’s best new game – Insider. I saw people playing it on Friday, and on Saturday when I came in a group was engaged in a serious discussion that sounded normal, until I realized they were playing this, social deduction.

Gili’s best new game – Rococo and Grand Austria Hotel.

Binyamin’s best new game – Grand Austria Hotel, Insider, Rococo, Impotek, Isla Dorado, Istanbul, Eureka, Isla Dorado.

I’m not used to people dropping in and out to the extent they did on Shabbat, and almost everyone left before Shabbat was out. After playing the Kinneret miklat, we all appreciated a nice room with windows. It started raining Shabbat afternoon so we closed the windows by the games, but ended up moving them away. Then the electricity went out, but it came back on not long after. Most of the participants were at the previous two cons, so it’s great to see and play with the same friendly group.

The Jerusalem bridge ready for President Trump.

March 02, 2016

Participants: Jon, David, Mace, Aaron, Binyamin, Nisim, Nadine, Jonathan, Roman, Francis

Magic: The Gathering

Jon+, David

I played WGR, all equal strengths, but no card required more than one land of that color. David played BRG with double casting costs in all three colors. Neither of us had problems with lands and mana, but I was able to counter everything he played and achieve a fairly easy victory.

We started a second game, but he was rattled from the other players arriving and – maybe – his quick loss from the first game, so we abandoned the game midway (I was winning again).

Slap Deck

Jon, Mace, David, Nadine, Nisan, Jonathan, Roman

This is a game I invented several years ago and posted on my blog, but never got a chance to play. It looked like a good filler: plays in 10 minutes with 2 to 6 players. We played with the rules I made all those years ago, with a small change. Basically, flip over cards and slap when you want to take all the flipped up cards. You can slap three times. Count your score at the end depending on what you flipped.

We played with 6 players and then 5 players, and I forgot who won the games, but it was fun.

Later in the evening, Mace, Nadine, and I played several hands, and we decided to play for (cumulative) points. The game can have wild swings from hand to hand, but Mace excelled at the game and kept the lead throughout. We toyed with adding a theme.

Fun game. Write to me if you want the rules.

Castles of Burgundy

Binyamin 206, Nadine 194, Aaron 171

Nadine writes: First play for Binyamin. I started third which is a disadvantage and only got one mine, another disadvantage though more mitigatable. Binyamin got the yellow bonus tile for colors of sold good tiles. Aaron had the board with a single section of eight browns but didn’t manage to complete it.

Notre Dame

Jon 82, David 53, Francis 36

Second play for Francis, though he needed some time to learn the game. I played a “starvation” strategy, abandoning myself to the rats in favor of two cubes on Park and pumping victory points. It’s a good strategy if you get passed early Parks. You still need occasional cubes and money, which you can get from end-of-round people or the occasional card.

David had a hospital doing well, but started collecting points a bit late. Francis got toasted by rats and couldn’t make progress.

Vegas Showdown

Nisim, Jonathan, Mace, Roman

I have no idea how this went, but they seemed to enjoy it. Mace taught the game, first play for the others. Roman had almost all yellow tiles, but only two of the four high value tiles came out during the game, Mace won.


Jon 62, Francis 57, David less

First play for David, second for Francis. David made an early mistake and then another one, and then got depressed for the rest of the game.

Smash Up

David 15, Aaron 12, Binyamin 11

First play for David and Aaron. They believe the second game will be more enjoyable; there was a lot of learning about the cards and how things work in the first game.

December 30, 2015

Participants: Jon, Jonathan, Roman, Gili, Aaron, Shneur, Alan, Francis, Karina

I’m writing this late, so I may have crossed my names. I also can’t remember the lovely woman who spoke only Ukrainian and a bit of English. Shneur? Karina is Roman’s girlfriend who spoke mostly Russian.

Francis is a volunteer from Kenya who works nearby. I had him over for shabbat meal and found out that he likes games. This was his first visit.

7 Wonders

Jon 48, Jonathan 29, Roman 52, Aaron 40, Shneur 47, Alan 49, Ka 40

First play for all but me, and I believe Aaron. I started with the board that gives a free science symbol at second level, but could only pick up 3 science cards during the game (without sacrificing too much). My RHO Jonathan produced almost no resources, so I had to build my own. I was also shy in money until the end. I ended with 19 blue points a small amount of everything else except for purple.

Shneur had the most science (18) but no blue. Alan had the most blue (22) and was the only one with a full monument. Ka has strong purple and science, but -4 in military and not much else. Roman had 15 in military, 10 coins (with very strong resources), and a fair amount in blue and purple.

Age of Empires III

Roman, Jon, Aaron, Shneur, Karina+

First game for all but me. Karina won.  I lost an important discovery with 5 colonists (it required 6) and then lost another one with 4 colonists (it required 4). Luckily, even though I thought I also lost out on my chance to buy two buildings in the last round by the single coin I should have gotten from either of those discoveries, it turns out that I had enough after all. Instead, I couldn’t buy two buildings in the last round because Aaron purposely blocked me from doing so, even though he couldn’t buy one himself. He thought he was blocking Shneur, but in fact screwed me instead.

Aaron got the initial $20 building followed by two more buildings, and he was the only one with real soldiers in the New World, but he never had more than 3 income the entire game. Shneur picked up two early merchant ships – even when he couldn’t use the second one – and then a third, and then the building that made each of us pay him $1 per ship per round. By the last round he had 5 merchant ships. We all thought he was going to win, but Karina was massively into missionaries and had such a huge lead in colonists in the New World that she kept ahead in the end.

Our game took a VERY long time.


Gili, Jonathan, Francis, Alan

I didn’t see how this went, but they played with the real rules about curses that I won’t play with. Still, they seemed to enjoy it.

July 1, 2015

Participants: Jon, Nissan, Binyamin, Omri, Gili, Aaron, Shaul, Tal

From famine to feast. Binyamin came for the first time; he has wanted to come for a while but wasn’t able to. He also brought his friend Nissan, who lives pretty close and also should have come sooner. 🙂 Gili brought two nephews, Omri and Shaul. All of the new people were experienced players, more or less.

We waited for a few of the participants to come after maariv.


Jon, Gili, Shaul, Nissan, Omri

Score: 16. First play for everyone except for Gili and me. We managed to play without too many information slips. It was still a fun game, far more for the tense moments of doing the wrong or right thing, often by accident, than for the end result. We killed the 2s in two colors fairly quickly, but we made it up to 5 in one color and then 4 and 5 in two other colors with 1 life left. Yay us.

7 Wonders

Nissan 58, Omri 55, Jon 53, Binyamin 49, Aaron 42, Gili 41, Shmuel 28

First play for everyone except me, Binyamin (who brought the game) and Gili (who had played once or twice). First play with 7 players for all of us I think (I’ve played with 6), which is a little odd since the cards never make it back to you.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and it played fairly smoothly even with 7. Nissan won with strong military as well as decent blue and purple. I thought I was doing well with my blue (I thought green would be impossible with 7 players) and my wonder but that wasn’t enough. I played with very few resources but yellow cards that let me buy them cheaply. Omri’s second place was earned with military and decent showings with his wonder, blue and green (4 of a kind). Binyamin had tons of resources and was hoping to make up the point differential on the last age, but it wasn’t enough.


Omri 48, Shaul 33, Nissan 30, Gili 21

First play for everyone except for Gili, who had played once a long time ago. I had them play with my rule tweak that has the curse only kill the next disk in line for a treasure card, instead of the entire treasure (which swings the game too much). Everyone seemed to enjoy this one, too.


Jon/Binyamin 460ish, Tal/Aaron 440ish

First play for Binyamin, second for Aaron. They didn’t do much of a job teaching Binyamin how to play while I was teaching the others how to play Tobago, so the first few hands were a series of rules surprises for Binaymin. He still caught on quickly.

We started with a 200 point jump, then Aaron/Tal made two Tichu’s +80 points on each. We pulled ahead again, and then Binyamin lost a Tichu when Aaron got in and played two full houses and then went out. Then I called Grand Tichu and Aaron did the exact same thing again. After that we were still only down 200 points or so. On the last hand, down about 210 points, I called Grand Tichu again and made it + at least half the points. I think we ended up slightly ahead, but we didn’t count thoroughly so we might have actually tied. Anyhoo, Aaron continues to love the game and I think Binyamin has been converted.

Leastwise, Binyamin and Nissan promised to come again. Hopefully Omri and Shaul will, too.

Passover Games Day March 27, 2013

2013-03-27 12.09.5423 attendees, more than had RSVP’d, but we had enough chairs. And managed to find a kosher for Pesach burger place that delivered.

2013-03-27 11.33.12Dominion

David 18, Mishie 5, Avi 5, Yehuda -3

David taught this, new for the others, and David’s already good at it. We had Dark Ages, but they played the basic game.

2013-03-27 11.32.41Hansa Teutonica

Jon 68, Laurie 47, Ellis 38, Shalom 36

The Ra’anana clique was joined by Shalom.

Jon writes: This was the second play for Ellis, Laurie, and me. Shalom had apparently played a dozen times. The last time that Ellis and I played, we liked everything about the game except one strategy element that appeared to dominate: taking the extra actions track. I looked online, and many other people also complained about this track, while others said that only the first extra action is really required; the rest can be ignored by getting to the scarce victory point rewards early and/or ending the game before the other players can use their extra actions effectively. After this game, I believe the first argument, but I’m unconvinced regarding the second argument.

Part of the game’s strategy, which we are still not effectively using, is to be annoying and to thwart what the other players are doing. Someone with extra actions should be able to effectively shut down someone without extra actions if they do so patiently and consistently. We mostly play by keeping to ourselves, so this doesn’t come into effect.


In our game, I went for the first extra action only and then for the bonus victory point rewards that looked to be the most profitable: the bonus disks (that paid for themselves in terms of actions or removing other people’s pieces) and the reward spaces in the lower left corner. I got three of the spaces for 25 points, which was huge in terms of victory points, as you can see from the final score. I got another 15 from the bonus disks. The rest I picked up from two completed tracks on my board (both required to take the reward spaces), taking control of the bonus action space (rather than taking the bonus action, which netted me a point every time anyone else took a bonus action) – I got 5 points from that before someone else took control from me, and the usual assortment of controlled cities. The other players all seemed to be fussing around with controlling various cities on the board or progressing in other tracks. I don’t know if these are worthwhile strategies, but even by early to mid-game I could see that they weren’t going to hold a candle to my strategy unless someone else acted forcefully to block me. No one did.

2013-03-27 11.32.21Tobago x2

Gili 35+, Ofek, Lotem, Asif

Cliff 47+, Oren, Gil, Irit

Cliff asked what happens when you run out of Amulets, Jon responded that it hadn’t happened before.

Cyclades x2

Yosef+, Hershel, Mishie, (Nadine)

2013-03-27 13.22.58Yosef taught this game to me and Hershel. He didn’t explain everything in advance which is fine, but he also didn’t explain strategy much. Hershel didn’t realize that the soldier option was rotating away after one turn, and neither of us realized how important the soldier action was to setting yourself up for the rest of the game. I did tell Hershel that he should at least bid for it to make Yosef pay more, but he wanted a different selection. Yosef was getting 8 coins per round, Hershel was at 2, then managed to get to 3, and I went from 2 to 3. When I decided to play, Yosef said it would take around an hour, but it was taking much longer than that, it ended up 2 or 3 hours. Mishie took over for me and did a great job learning the game while playing. He says he would have won if he hadn’t lost one city at the very end. The game has interesting mechanics, but I don’t like the direct conflict.

2013-03-27 16.02.37Avi and Yehuda played afterwards.

Walnut Grove

Shalom 23 +13, Nadine 23 +0, Laurie 22, Elijah 20

I switched over to teaching Walnut Grove, which everyone liked. It’s quick once you understand the game. Shalom was doing very well the whole time, fewer mistakes than the rest of us. First game I’ve played where people took negatives, I did too, but we paid them off. And we were playing correctly which is related. On the last round, both Shalom and I sold 3 cubes as our best bet to get more points than buying a farmer. I got 3 points, Shalom 2. So the random draw from the bag of coins could have easily changed the outcome of the game. Shalom had a huge area and the bonus building for it. Laurie had an extra barn, Elijah had a lot of gold coins.

2013-03-27 13.23.16Magic

Jon and David snuck off for their usual bout. Later, Avi and Yehuda also played with them.

From Jon: David and I have seen each other very infrequently, and we love this game. It’s a ritual. David usually wins the “best 2 out of 3” match.

David and I drafted from my cards. I didn’t think I was drafting particularly well, since I was giving up some very good card drawing cards to David, and then I ended up playing in a color I hadn’t even been drafting. I played Green with a lot of white and red support. The deck managed to come together pretty well. Even though I only put in 15 lands (7 green, 4 white, 4 red), I had a few cards that boosted mana, fetched lands, or washed colors. This allowed me to actually get out my heavy green creatures. My only concern was to counter what I knew David would be playing: blue fliers. I had just enough utility cards or creatures with reach to handle him.

He won the first game (I conceded on my turn when he had 6 points and I had 1, and I had no way to stop all of his creatures on his upcoming turn) and I won the second. We set the cards aside until the evening. I won the tiebreaker game much the same as I won the second game.

Age of Empires III

Jon 103, David 101, Hershel 77, Mishie 58

2013-03-27 16.02.25First play for everyone except Jon. My impression while playing a different game was that David would have won except for a whole bunch of mistakes and misunderstandings. David turned out to be correct in his interpretation of the Stable card – thanks to Hershel who found the information in the rules after we failed online.

From Jon: Actually, while we found others online who supported David’s interpretation of the Stables card, we then found that the official ruling (from the designer) was against David. We ended up letting David switch for a different building instead, without disrupting the rest of the game. David played against the odds in drawing cards twice and succeeded both times. He lost because, even with his good luck, he still couldn’t afford the building he wanted when he wanted it. This was due to inexperience in managing his money, I think. He still came VERY close to winning, much better than we were all expecting him to; he gained a whole lot of points from colonies in the new world. I took an obvious early lead by securing good money for buildings and then I was second place in many areas in the new world. Hershel had already surpassed my income level by mid-game, and we all thought he was doing much better than he ended up doing. I think he had almost no discoveries. Michie was the first to start wars, of course, but they don’t do very much in this game.

La Citta

2013-03-27 16.03.00Gili 30, Ellis 27, Shalom 23

First play for Ellis and Shalom, Gili hadn’t played in a while. Which explains why they played wrong, Gili says probably to her benefit, she might not have won otherwise.


Elijah 139, Yosef 126, Nadine 100, Laurie 73

I taught this, no one else had played. Yosef watched the French explanation on the Tric Trac site. Elijah misunderstood and gave himself and Yosef 6 extra feet during setup, but fortunately we noticed at the end of the round, and Elijah took back most of his actions; Yosef hadn’t used the extra feet so just returned them. 2013-03-27 16.10.00Elijah did a good job balancing round and end game points, and he had 6 points in spear multipliers. Yosef won a lot of round points for the highest number. Laurie balanced well but it wasn’t enough of a total. This was the first time I didn’t reach the Tiki with a village, I wasted 14 points. I don’t think I would have won anyway. I had a -4 but didn’t reach the minimum everytime. I didn’t do a good job calculating which resources to use, my only extra resources were a lot of fruit, and I got all the multipliers. The boat multiplier wasn’t available.

When Yosef asked if there was a shul nearby for mincha, someone figured out that we had our own minyan. Good timing on Avi’s bar mitzvah last week!

2013-03-27 18.18.43Stone Age

Gili 194, Yehuda 150, Mishie 142, Ellis 142

Gili taught this and won. She says they didn’t follow her advice to buy cards.

Lords of Waterdeep

2013-03-27 21.41.00Gili 156, Yonatan 141, Mishie 137


Jon: I taught this and it was generally enjoyed.

No Thanks

Jon: Then I taught this to Avi and Yehuda and they loved it. We played twice, and then a third time with David and Laurie joining us. Funny: I also recently taught both of these games to a group in Raanana, who liked No Thanks, but loved Parade. Here it was the reverse.

Tichu x 2

Jon and David, Elijah and Nadine

2013-03-27 20.07.43We let Jon and David team up, and came close to beating them. Though we didn’t play a full game, but based on their record, we did really well.

Jon, David, Avi, Yonatan

Jon: In the second set, I played with Avi and David played with Yonatan. The hands we had all day, until the very end, were fairly lackluster, with few Tichus called and no double victories. Avi and I kept winning hands by a few points here and there. Eventually Yonatan tried and lost a Tichu, David won a Tichu but lost the points for the hand anyway (105 to 95), and I made a Tichu very luckily. I had a 2, 5, and A left in my hand but I wasn’t on lead. I thought I had goofed up. Yonatan helpfully played a 4 and I played my 5, which I thought was finally just what I needed. It came around to me and I played my A, but David played a straight flush bomb over it, leaving me with only the 2. Then Avi (my partner) got in and played the Dog, so I was able to finish. On the last hand, we were at 820 points. Avi called and made Tichu and I went out second.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 45 (24, 17, 4) Eitan 44 (14, 21, 9) Hershel 43 (17, 18, 8) Emily 41 (21, 15, 5) Laurie 39 (15, 18, 6)

A close and lively 5-player game, Laurie and Eitan didn’t remember the game from having played once a long time ago. We didn’t know who was winning, for good reason. I only had 3 different goods, with factory and wharf, one of each and two corns later. Hershel had factory and harbor. Laurie had a coffee monopoly most of the game, and Eitan had a tobacco monopoly the whole game. Hershel didn’t like the way I taught or gave advice, but I stop giving advice after two rounds except for extreme cases. 2013-03-27 21.04.10But then he kept giving advice because they were making bad moves, and kept having me confirm that I would have made the same ‘obvious best move’ as him. We disagreed on building recommendations. Hershel gave Laurie an early coffee trade; but it was wasted when she didn’t buy a factory or harbor or wharf on Hershel’s recommendation, he later got a factory, and I got one. He’s right that it depends, but she would have done better with a good intermediate building.

At the end of the game we let Laurie re-mayor because she had bought a warehouse and forgot to mayor it, that happened earlier also with her wharf. People do learn better when they don’t get to take back, but when you play infrequently, it’s harder to play that way. Hershel hadn’t played 5-player before, and didn’t realize that you lose factory income if goods run out. He says at their house they don’t allow discussion because they argue trying to influence moves. Emily had a large market but no trade good. Eitan did well with his tobacco monopoly, though he shipped his indigo instead of taking an available empty ship. Hershel mayored a lot for fortress, which ended the game suddenly when he was last player. We each had one big building.


Emily, Eitan, Yehuda, Avi

Abandoned because they were playing wrong. Jon: Abandoned not only because they were playing wrong (only transporting once per round instead of twice), but because everyone was really interested in playing other games instead.

2013-03-27 16.41.49Best Gamer Award:

Uli – our youngest and most well-behaved gamer.

Honorable Mention:

Emily for playing, taking care of Uli, and organizing the dinner order all at the same time.

Eitan for letting Emily have Uli so he could make up the minyan.

2013-03-27 16.41.59Mishie for playing like a grown-up.

Cliff for giving up playing for a last minute guiding job.

Ellis and Laurie for schlepping from Ra’anana.

Yosef for putting up with our English.

Avi and Yehuda for attending right after Avi’s bar mitzvah.

Hershel for being able to play sub-optimally.

Elijah for taking time to attend.

2013-03-27 21.02.58Shalom for continuously explaining Walnut Grove when he had just learned it.

Gili for teaching the most games.

Dishonorable Mention:

David and Jon for winning Tichu by only 5 points.

Thank you to everyone who brought snacks, especially chocolate!



Or bad luck. We managed to scrape together 3 players for a game, everyone else seems to have disappeared. Mace is in Australia.


Nadine 44, Gili 37, Eszter 27

2013-03-13 20.48.25Gili wanted to play this, first play for Eszter who had been considering buying it, and liked it. Gili wanted to play with the curse cards, when Jon plays we usually take them out. So she asked for the bad luck in a way. Gili got the first treasure, and was in a good position to get lots of victory cards from it. But the first card turned up was a curse, and no one had amulets yet. I followed my usual strategy of focusing on amulets over driving around to get treasures, though I did get one that was close by, with the help of two amulets and Gili’s suggestions. I got a lot of cards with that treasure, including a six, so I started off ahead. Eszter ended the game with around 8 amulets, she kept saying they wouldn’t help her, she used one or two. I used my third and last amulet to trade in all my cards because I wanted to end a long color which would give me at least 4 cards. I got 5, and Eszter got 5, finishing the deck so we knew there was a curse in it, but it didn’t show up til we got all our cards. It’s a fun game except for the luck, which is there even without curses.

We didn’t meet last week, the week before Gili and Eszter played Atlantis.


Wednesday morning Jon left early and volunteered at registration, and saved spaces in line for Bill and Shirley but not for me, we were in different lines alphabetically. We didn’t get there until close to 10, which I thought was late. I talked to people I was in line with, very representative of the participants – computer programmers from Texas. I said that I was surprised that the line wasn’t moving, they told me it doesn’t open til 10. So we got there at the right time, it went pretty quickly, all very organized. You pick a free game or two upon registering, I took Highland Clans and Train of Thought, I’m not familiar with either of them.

I had read about a new game, introduced at the recent huge Essen game con in Germany, Walnut Grove, which I was thinking of buying it and wanted to try it out. All day Wednesday and Thursday, whenever I went by it in the Hot Games room, which has Essen games set up, either a game was already in progress or there was no one there. I not only needed players, but someone to teach it.


I walked around looking at games, and ended up joining one in the large main game room, K2. One of the people playing was Mischa, a friend of Jon’s who runs the bgg math trade. I had traded one game but wasn’t going to be able to attend the official trade time on Saturday, so I had emailed the person I needed to give my game to, and the person who was giving me a game. The backup plan was to leave the game with Mischa.

K2 has a simple structure with deeper strategy than it appears.You expend points for climbing and oxygen, selected from cards you pick. I didn’t understand certain things right away, so I was behind most of the game. The other woman player was doing really well, she got both of her climbers to the very top, and down again alive, without even pitching a tent which reduces oxygen required. We were playing on the easy side of the board, with only summer weather, but it was still challenging. At the end, two players weren’t able to prevent either one or both of their climbers from dying, which results in a complete loss of points, so I came in second.

First Sparks

I went back into the Hot Games room and sat down by Walnut Grove, but no players came, and I was hungry, so I found the others and we took a break for lunch. I tried again after lunch, but switched to a game nearby which was starting, First Sparks, by the creator of Power Grid. The game is similar to Power Grid which helped us figure out how to play, and someone came over to teach it. One person hadn’t played Power Grid so we gave him some tips. It has a cave man theme and is simpler than Power Grid. The card structure is similar, but you place cavemen competitively for end game points.

We found out near the end of the game, because someone overheard us, that one of the changes from Power Grid is that you don’t bid for cards, rather you have right of refusal in turn order, so you never pay more than the amount on the card. We hadn’t had much competitive bidding, so it wouldn’t have made a big difference in the game, the card movement and availability are the same. I tied to win and had 3 vs. 1 food left to win the tiebreaker. I want to get this game because it’s good with attractive graphics, and I don’t have Power Grid. The store at the con finally got it from the airport on Friday, but it will be available for less at other stores, hopefully in time for Bill and Shirley to bring it.

Coney Island

Then I played Coney Island in the large room. I had this on my wishlist at one point, but couldn’t remember if I had taken it off or not. After playing, I was really hoping that I wouldn’t receive it as my Secret Santa gift. No one liked it, there are so many better games. We all helped each other as we tried to figure out the game. At one point, they recommended that I make a different move, where if I got a red tile instead of white tile in a random draw, I would get 9 points. It worked, which helped me, though I was still behind. I did start to understand the game by the end, by which time things were mostly already placed. I did what I could, and somehow ended up winning by one point.

Flash Point

Then I joined a firefighting game, Flash Point, an Essen game but in the main room. I didn’t realize it was cooperative, but it was interesting. We were playing with intro rules which meant no firetrucks and hoses, which must make it more interesting. I was fighting fires, everyone else was rescuing people. The game actions cause explosions and destruction. We ended up losing, the house collapsed before we could rescue everyone. But I was the only one who didn’t die because I happened to be outside the house. We had bad luck with the people, the first two tokens were blank rather than victims. It’s a good game because there’s a lot of fast action and some planning.

Jon came with me to try to get a game of Walnut Grove going. Scott Nicholson of Board Games with Scott walked by, he didn’t want to play but gave us a quick rules explanation. More players didn’t join, and Jon decided he was too tired to play a new game.


We walked around a bit, Jon agreed to teach Tobago, and I saw a game of Niagara which I had heard of because one year I gave one of my Secret Santa targets a Niagara exapansion. Jon ended up playing Tobago, so I went back to join Niagara. It’s a good game, simple and cute mechanics, you physically move plastic discs in the river which push your canoes around and over the edge sometimes. It’s very difficult, an experienced player won. They played again but I left.

It was freezing cold on Wednesday, we didn’t have all our warm clothes with us because it had been so warm the day before. The rest of the week it warmed up with sun and some clouds, but we were mainly indoors.

Chitin: I

Bill and Shirley played the redesigned Chitin: I, which Bill had a copy of when he was in high school.