Tag Archive | zertz

May 28, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Bill, Gili, Binyamin, Max, Sergei, David K, Yitzchak, Dylan, Rachel A

A bustling game night. We discovered that you can’t do role playing in the same room as board gaming.

It’s Alive

Bill 55, Gili 47, Jon 33

First play for Bill, so he was happy to win. He ended up flipping four of the six coffins and no villagers, while I flipped four of the six villages. With brutally unfair luck as that, it’s hard to compete.

Notre Dame

Binyamin 64, Nadine 47, Yitzchak 45

They played this as an opener, although it’s kind of long as an opener.

Zertz

Binyamin+, Sergei

First play for Sergei.

Dungeon Twister

Binyamin, David

Binyamin introduced this game to David, who decided to forfeit mid-game, as he really doesn’t care for the combat mechanic of blind bidding.

Geschenkt

Max 22, Jon 30, Gili 35, Bill, Sergei

First plays for all but myself and Gili. Gili pulled an inside straight. The second time she needed an inside straight, Sergei was forced to ruin her (and his) plans as he had no cash to push off the card. Max enjoyed the game and plans to make a copy to play at his own group.

Universalis / Children of Fire

Bill (GM), Jon, Dylan, Max, Gili

Nadine opted not continue last time, and we thought rightly that Gili would join. She did, but the setup took too long for her, or she was just too tired, and she left before ever really doing anything. Max stuck around for longer, but it appeared that he was not really into combat-less role playing, as he kept trying to kidnap or cast spells on humans, which is not the point of the CoF theme. He also bowed out mid-game.

Dylan and I meanwhile had a good time, and owing it to just being the two of us and our previous first experience, we made some story progress. Cthulhu or space aliens or some combination are sexually attacking the teenagers of Wichita trying to get them, or to get, pregnant, for some reason.

Princes of Florence

Yitzchak 76, Nadine 69, Sergei 65

I think this was Sergei’s first play.

Race for the Galaxy

David 43, Binyamin 42, Jon 30

I don’t seem to have a handle on this game yet, as not only do I keep losing, I lose soundly. We were originally going to play a longer game with more VPs and building capacity, but I could already tell mid-game that the end result wasn’t going to change significantly so there wasn’t much point. I may have been wrong, but I think that extending the game essentially swings the game to the VP producers.

Magic: the Gathering

David+, Jon

I dealt each of us 60 random cards and we built decks without knowing if we would play. In the end, we squeaked in a game.

The game was kind of a slog. Both of us has unblockables, and each was able to do roughly two points of damage per turn. Unfortunately for me, David started his damage earlier. Near the end, when I could finally take out his attacker, he was able to counter my spell. And that was pretty much that.

Puerto Rico

Sergei/Jon 61, Nadine 59, Max/Jon 53, Rachel 44

This was first plays for both Max and Sergei, but they had to leave near the end of the game to catch a ride with David. I took a basic look at their boards to help finish the game, and I mostly crafted and shipped them to victory.

August 08, 2007

Participants: Jon, Dylan, Ben, Yitzchak, Nathan, Adam, Tal, Elijah, Yaira

Tal and Elijah dropped by after their play rehearsal. Tal brought her friend Yaira over, too. Nathan returned after a long absence.

I set up Industria for a quick run through the rules. It looks simple enough, and I hope to give it a complete go next time.

Cosmic Encounter

Ben+ (Demon, Sorcerer), Dylan+ (Judge, Calculator), Nathan+ (Witch, Grudge), Jon (Schizoid, Pacifist), Yitzchak (Void, Industrialist)

I took the Schizoid, a power which fills me with glee. Unfortunately, my win conditions were simply one of a series of mistakes I made throughout the game. They were: a) 3 foreign bases, and b) foreign bases not shared.

I hoped that my second power, the Pacifist, would give me a slight but not overwhelming advantage with this, because the Pacifist doesn’t need allies to win battles. Also, the other players are ally happy. Of course, Filth would have been even better.

I neglected to notice that in a five-player game, I don’t actually get to be Offensive player that often and that most bases are gained while allying with others. As a result, I never had a foreign base that wasn’t shared.

I made other dumb plays, like not playing a compromise card against the Sorcerer, and such things.

Meanwhile, the other players asked lots of questions, but the closest they ever got to figuring out the criteria is that it involved tokens in some way. Dylan asked early on if the criteria involved where you placed your bases, to which I said no. He complained that in fact my answer should have been “yes” for that, since “the bases had to be placed on planets where other bases weren’t”. Ben and I disagreed.

You have to expect little problems like that to come up with the Schizoid.

Since no one could guess the criteria, and I couldn’t seem to win, the game pretty much came down to getting five bases and zapping me. Dylan got five bases, and then Ben and Nathan did. Ben then Super Demoned his power onto my Schizoid. Yitzchak and I could get to four bases, but no more.

Meanwhile, the other two most abused powers, Judge and Witch, were also in the game, as well as the Void. The Void is the only power I refuse to play with in the game, not because it is too weak or too strong, but because it makes the game not fun. My fix for the Void is to change it to the Praw; tokens go to the Praw, and can be taken either from Praw to Warp, or from Warp out. Dylan and I both thought that the Judge might be too powerful, as well. We couldn’t figure out how to fix it, and in any case, the fact that the judgment doesn’t apply when a comp is played or the Demon is used, negates the power well enough.

While we played Cosmic, Adam and I started a game of Zertz, but abandoned it when Elijah came in.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Adam, Elijah

Adam and Elijah played at least one game of this, possibly more.

We played two games. I was black both times. We each won once. We also argued about whether Gandalf is a Maia and whether it’s a waste of time to learn Quenya/Elvish.–Adam

It’s Alive

Tal+, Yaira

Tal+, Adam, Yaira, Elijah

Tal introduced this to Yaira. Then Adam and Elijah joined for a four-player game. I took a look late in the second game and thought Adam was going to win, but Tal somehow pulled off a victory.

Yaira liked the game well enough.

I was about to win a few rounds before the end of the game, but then drew a villagers tile that I couldn’t pay for, which set me back enough that Tal was able to pull it off. –Adam

Apples to Apples

Elijah, Adam, Tal

They played a number of rounds of this, until Dylan Adam got into some lengthy discussion with Genia about Esperanto.

Bridge

Jon/Adam, Ben/Yitzchak

And we played a few rounds of this to end the night. I lost one hand by not figuring out that Ben had to have the singleton King of Spades.

Yehuda

GAMES DAY: April 4, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Ben, Tal, Josh, Avri, Keren, Debbie, Gili, David K, Saarya, Binyamin, Adam, Pinchas, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda, Itamar, Nadav, Shlomo, Rafi, Meir

21 Participants, for a fairly smooth, albeit loud, Games Day. My apartment is simply too small for this. I must find a larger place for next Pesach. Sukkot we play on the roof, anyway, so the noise is not so bad.

Avri is a player from Beit Shemesh who came for the first time, bringing his brother Rafi. Rafi brought his brother-in-law Shlomo, and Shlomo brought his brother Meir. Or something like that.

Keren is a reader of my blog, and she came by for the first time with her friend Debbie. Except for Gili playing Settlers with them, I somehow neglected them while they were here, which I feel bad about. Come again, and I promise to play more with you personally.

Itamar brought his nephew Nadav, and Binyamin brought his kids Tikva Shira and Zvi Yehuda. Pinchas came on the last few Games Days too, and he is an old Bridge partner of mine.

The others are regulars.

24/7

Tikva Shira+, Zvi Yehuda

I taught this to the kids; they kept forgetting the rule about rows not going past 24, and Z”Y never quite got the way you get points.

Amun-Re

Saarya 43, David 36, Nadine 33

Nadine was ahead 2 points in the interim scoring, 15 to 13 to 13.

Bridge

Jon, Adam, Nadine, Ben

We played this simultaneous with our game of El Grande, while waiting for people to take their turns.

Binyamin, Adam, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda

They played one hand of this at the end of the evening, waiting for the Amun-Re game to end, so that Binyamin could take the game home.

Carcassonne: the City

Jon 130ish, Binyamin/Ben 85ish, Nadine 55ish

Binyamin taught us this version of Carcassonne. It has the usual three area types, but one third of the way through the game you begin placing walls and towers around the tiles.

The most significant difference is that only roads have to match, not areas. We found this to be a huge huge Bad Thing. Most of the tactics of Carcassonne derives either from merging with other areas, or from locking opponent’s areas so that they can’t close them. This rule significantly reduces both of these options, making the game simply a matter of picking the best tiles and putting them down in the best places each turn. Whoopee.

It is one of those situations where too many opportunities for scoring makes a significantly worse game, rather than a better game. There is not enough tension.

I got luckiest. Nadine made a few sub-optimal choices, according to Binyamin, and he got upset enough to leave the game early. Ben filled in for him for the last few rounds, without any understanding of the rules.

Chess

Pinchas+, Jon

Pinchas loves Chess, and I play very infrequently, and totally tactically. I also get bored with games where it’s clear that one person is winning, and the only way for them to lose is to make a dumb mistake.

So I enjoyed the game at the beginning where I managed to secure a lead over Pinchas by a Knight and a Pawn. Then I got bored, moved too quickly (I should mention, perhaps, that I don’t like to take too long with my moves, and I was also simultaneously playing El Grande at the time), and went down to a single Pawn advantage.

In the end, I didn’t feel like dragging the game out for another 50 moves, so I lost a few more pieces and resigned. It was a little rude of me. Sorry, Pinchas.

Keren, Debbie

Keren and Debbie played a game of this later in the day.

Die Macher

Jon, Gili, Binyamin, Adam

This is one of our grails of gaming – simply getting it onto the table. That took most of the day.

The rule explanation then took another hour and some, as usual, and it was about three hours before we finished the first round. I was really hopeful we would finish the game, for once, because we were ll enjoying it, and the second round went much quicker and smoother. But Gili had to leave before the game would finish, so we only finished three rounds.

We all really enjoyed it, for what we played. There are a lot of rules that I have to keep digging up and remembering, but we all suffered the adverse effects of this, and managed to keep on forging forward, anyway.

El Grande

Nadine 107, Adam 100, Ben 94, Binyamin 90, Jon 83

I made the mistake of having a slight early lead after round three, which made me a target. And this despite the fact that this is Nadine’s signature game. And she won, of course, in the end.

Nobody was horribly behind the whole game.

Geschenkt

Rafi 13, Avri, Saarya, Shlomo, Meir

I taught them this game as a brain cleanser between the games of Power Grid and Santiago. Rafi won it.

Lost Cities

Keren+, Debbie+

They played two games of this, while we were davening Mincha. I think I didn’t explain the rules completely. I believe they were drawing and then playing, and opposed to the other way around.

Nautilus

Ben, Nadine, David, Josh

These guys were looking for what to play and started with this. Binyamin warned them that it wasn’t really their type of game, and he turned out to be correct, and they abandoned the game halfway through, not particularly enraptured.

They also complained about the sameness of the colors on the chips and other design elements.

Netrunner

Jon++, Binyamin

Rather than try to find my Magic lands, I taught this to Binyamin. I first played the Corp, while Binyamin drew a number of expensive cards and couldn’t quite get together a cohesive attack. I took home 5 agenda points without too much trouble, and we decided to switch sides.

We then played the fastest game of Netrunner ever played. Binyamin played his turn and didn’t protect R&D. I raided R&D three times and pulled three agendas, totaling 8 agenda points. Game over.

Perhaps there is a tad more card luck in Netrunner than in Magic, after all.

Power Grid

Saarya 14, Avri 11+, Rafi 11-, Meir 10, Shlomo 6

Saarya taught them this, and naturally won, as the only experienced player. The others bought too many power plants. They played on the US without the NW, but no one even made it into the SW.

I should note that Shlomo’s dismal score is not due to lack of plants, but probably being shut out of fuel.

Princes of Florence

Ben 58, Avri 57, Nadine 53, Josh 48, Tal 41

Tal would like it noted that she was leading at one point. Keren and Debbie also looked interested in trying this game.

As you can see, a close game, with Avri scoring well for his first time.

Santiago

Avri 76, Meir 55, Rafi 51, Saarya 45, Shlomo 37

I suggested this one to them, and they were all first time players. They seemed to enjoy it.

Settlers of Catan

Gili+, Keren, Debbie

I was going to play this with them, but Gili sat down before I got there. They all enjoyed it, even though Gili was the more experienced player and gave them a trouncing, it appears.

Shogi

Adam+, Pinchas

Pinchas likes Chess, so Adam taught his this Japanese game of Chess. Unfortunately, all the pieces were disks with Chinese writing on them; I have no idea how Pinchas could ever distinguish the pieces.

World of Warcraft

Itamar, Nadav, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda

The award for the day’s longest game goes to this, not Die Macher. They started playing at 12:30, and ended, without finishing the game, at around 9:00 or so. I have no idea what they accomplished during that time. The biggest problem was that none of them were native English speakers and the cards were all in English, so they had to keep running to Binyamin for explanations.

Zertz

Zvi Yehuda, Tikva Shira

Played at the end of the evening.

February 28, 2007

Participants: Jon, David K, Nadine, Adam, Elijah, Zack, Ben, Gili, Josh, Idit

I had had enough of work by mid-day, so I invited David to join me a bit early. In this way, we were able to get in a few games before game night actually started.

Netrunner

Jon (Runner)+, David (Corp)

David and I are beginning to grasp the game, and only twice needed to look in the rulebook. I was able to grasp the possibilities of a few cards that David had overlooked when he was Runner last.

Only this game did I grok that accessing traps can hurt you, even if they are accessed from HQ or R&D. That was a fun lesson.

I made many fast and furious runs on HQ and R&D until David put enough Ice in place, and even then I kept doing it whenever he didn’t have enough bits to rez the Ice. My runs on HQ were spectacularly unsuccessful, but my runs on R&D eventually gave me the win, although it was close.

Both of us lamented that what seemed to be missing from the game were “Instants” like there are in Magic. If I’m making a run, there is nothing the Corp can do about it by playing special cards from his hand. This eliminates a bit of the tension in the game.

Zertz

Jon+, David

I introduced this to David, who spent a long time calculating each move. I took an early lead with a forced swap that gave me two jumps to his one; I probably won’t get away with that again in a future game.

After that, we did some swapping, but I was able to get the better colors, until I needed only a single gray or white ball to win, while he still needed at least two more balls to win. He conceded.

I still like the game a lot.

Boggle

Jon+, Nadine+

While waiting for David to make his moves in Zertz, I played a few games of this as a filler. We played two racks, both of which had a paucity of words. I came up with about 7 words in the first game, two of which Nadine didn’t have. The second rack was about tied, with Nadine having maybe one more word.

Louis XIV

Jon 60, Elijah 43, Adam

I think this is my first win for Louis, and it was not only a win but a massacre. This was Adam’s second game, and he needed a refreshing of the rules.

It started out innocently enough, with me slightly behind after the first round, even. I had only managed one mission, while Adam and Elijah both had two. However, I had gained a slew of peripheral items from the previous round, including coats-of-arms, ax extra influence card, money, and an influence marker on the board. This allowed me to dominate the second round. At the end of it, Adam couldn’t complete a single mission, Elijah could complete only one, and I completed two.

I ended the second round the same as the first, with tons of peripherals, and this time I was last in the bidding order. I ended up with three additional moves after all the other players had placed. Adam and Elijah both went to four missions, while I was at seven. The game was already over at that point.

In the end, I ended with a hand full of coats-of-arms, too, to add insult to injury.

Power Grid

Ben 17+, David 17-, Zack 16, Gili 16

They played on the East and Central coast, which are the cheapest areas. A glance in mid-game revealed that their fuel market was nearly exhausted, or completely exhausted, the entire game.

As usual, a close game, with the win decided on a tie (not my favorite mechanism, actually). The game took around three and a half hours, as people added and added again near the end of the game (also not my favorite mechanism).

Puerto Rico

Nadine 41, Josh 36, Idit 31

Nadine taught Idit how to play, and this was Josh’s fourth game. Apparently, they all enjoyed it. Idit didn’t have any large buildings at the end of the game, and her settlements were nearly all corn and sugar, a result of some Hacienda activity.

Zendo

Adam (master), Jon, Elijah

Adam didn’t have the Icehouse pieces, so we played “Sentence Zendo”. Adam wrote a sentence that was, and a sentence that wasn’t. We went through about a dozen sentences, and I had no idea.

Elijah and I started guessing “sentences” that were not grammatically correct, and even simply words, which seemed to annoy Adam, who said that we really should only be allowed to guess real sentences.

I was thinking two structurally – number of words or letters, and so on – when it turns out that the rule was that the sentence have “something to do with nature”.

The Menorah Game

Adam+, Nadine, Jon

We were casting about for some fillers. I suggested this and both of them agreed well enough.

Both of them prefer the basic game. Nadine was a little bored at the end of it, however, I think. But it’s quick.

I still like it a lot.

San Juan

Adam, Nadine, Jon

We only made it partially through the game and then broke for Bridge. I had nothing better to open with, so I decided to give Crane another try, despite being nearly 100% positive that it is a wretched, wretched card. Why? It turns all of your 2 and 3 VP cards into 1 or 2 VP cards, and it also destroys all the VPs you get from having more buildings at the end of the game.

In my game, I turned my Indigo into Coffee, and then debated on whether to turn it into Silver or Library on round three. I chose Library. This netted me an additional card from Prospector every round, but in the meantime, Nadine and Adam were gaining 4 cards each every two rounds from Production and Trading, while I had no production buildings at all.

When I finally got out a Tobacco building, we abandoned the game. Eh; I might still have won.

Bridge

David/Jon, Ben/Nadine

We played five hands of this. It is so sublime a game, that we don’t really keep score. We simply zen the experience.

I had fairly few points, but David had good hands. He ended up playing three of the five hands (making one of them, I believe).

Go

Adam+++, Zack

Adam taught Zack how to play this on a 9×9 board, and then they played three games. Adam spotted him first four, then five, then six stones, which gives you an idea of how they turned out.

Cosmic Encounter

Elijah, Josh, Idit

Elijah’s favorite game, was a game that Josh wanted Idit to learn, anyway. I have no further info on how it turned out, or what powers they played. I know that they played with Lucre and (against my advice, as usual) comets.

I heard some good news and some bad news from Josh and Idit. The good news is that they’re engaged (Mazal Tov). The bad news is that they are returning to the U.S. indefinitely in May and getting married there. Oh well.

February 21, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Elijah, Josh (*), Adam, Gili, Zack, Binyamin, Dylan, Genia, David K, David E

Nadine opened up game night, as I arrived late again. A new player, Josh, joined us for his first visit. Josh has been playing games in Jerusalem for quite some time, but only managed to make his first visit tonight. Dylan and Ganya also made a return after some absence. David E is one of my friends from Beit Shemesh, who happened to be around this evening and joined us for some Bridge.

I didn’t take any notes, and not only forgot the details, but even the games we played. As usual, there were the various false starts as people jockeyed for the games they wanted.

I’ll fill in what I remember, and others will fill in what they remember later.

Chrononauts

A commenter helped me find the name of this game. It might have been one of the expansions.

Nadine adds:

We played history fluxx or whatever it’s called, the historical assumptions
are interesting but the play was confusing.

Power Grid

David K, Nadine, Zack, Elijah

Nadine adds:

David won. He did a good job and was ahead throughout. He had a capacity of 17 most of the game, while Zach and I were stuck at 16; we had both passed on the last 6 plant that David got. When we finally reached Step 3, I was second to bid, but there were no 6 or 7 plants so I passed. Zach was last, and one of the few 6 plants came up, letting him power 17. So he tied with David, who won it on money. Which is excellent for Zach’s first play of this game. There was not a lot of competitive bidding for plants, many good ones were taken at cost by the last person. Elijah had a lot of free power and tons of money, but not enough capacity.

Zertz

Jon, Binyamin

This was my fourth game of Zertz, and it was the first game I played with any real seriousness. Binyamin and I thought things through in various directions, and made various exchanges. Each turn was carefully considered.

As the game rolled to a close, Binyamin needed either a white or gray stone to win, while I needed either a gray or black stone. And then we hit a situation not described in the rules.

This was surprising, since Kris writes his rules very well, and his games are designed with elegance. He even adds rules for special infrequent situations that may come up. Unfortunately, he missed this one.

In our game, Binyamin was able to place a stone but not remove a disk; all the disks were interior to the board. So, the balls were not isolated, but he was also unable to complete his turn. We didn’t know if that meant that he should remove a disk, even though he couldn’t slide it out, or if he didn’t remove a disk at all. Of course, one way I would win, and the other way he would win.

The game was still an excellent game, aside from this quirk.

Update: Ah ha. I thought Kris wouldn’t have overlooked this. From the rules:

However, it may occur that you cannot remove any of the vacant rings without disturbing the position of the other rings. In this case you must not remove a ring (i.e. your move ends after having placed a marble).

Thanks, Kris.

Cosmic Encounter

Dylan adds:

Josh – Warpish/Macron; Dylan – Vampire/Bully,Gambler; Genia – Vacuum/Clone; Adam – Vulch/Wrack +?

Adam sort of won. I got a very near first turn win by playing a demon flare to force Adam to cede me two bases, plus one I gained from allying with Josh on the first turn, and one I gained in my first challenge. I lost the second challenge by a near margin, and it all went downhill from there.

It was a rather weird power game, with most of us forgetting or being unable to use their powers – I forgot about Vampire and Bully (I used a Pentaform flare to swap them); Genia never got a high card to clone; Adam forgot or chose not to use Wrack and very few edicts were played for Vulch; and Josh’s Macron powers paled in comparison to his Warpish. We went several rounds without any Warp Breaks or Mobius Tubes, and Warpish reached something like +40 to his strength before Adam finally got a Mobius Tubes.

Other strange things happened – I drew tons of cards because all I kept drawing were flares instead of attack cards, though I did get both the 30 and the 40. Josh barely got any cards, because nobody would attack him with his Warpish bonuses.

In the end, Adam sort of won – in that, he used a flare to win his last challenge, which Genia canceled. But we thought Genia’s card only worked on edicts, so it passed and he won. Only after we started picking up did I read Genia’s card and noticed that it said edicts or flares.

I think the game would have played very differently if everyone had been paying more attention (like forgetting about power usage, as noted above). A lot of fun, regardless.

Stephenson’s Rocket

Jon 89, Gili 81, Binyamin 78

I like train games, so I thought this would be a no-brainer. Gili was also willing to give it a try.

Unfortunately, as the rules were explained, I began to get a sinking feeling. This was a Knizia game, through and through. It wasn’t about trains, it was about points and set-collection. As the rules explanation wore on, I began to think “Acquire” done by Knizia.

Now, Knizia is brilliant, of course, and makes great games, sometimes. But you have to be in the mind set for him.

Worse yet, as the game progressed, it began to look more like “Acquire done by Knizia, but not quite finished”. Leaving aside the mismatch between theme and mechanics, there were just a whole lot of mechanics which felt awkward. As usual, this may very well be because we played wrong or read the rules wrong.

One, moving the train and then putting the track behind it is annoying, especially when you have to pick up a station and place the track under it. That doesn’t feel right. Two, when tracks merge, there is no way to indicate this, and trying to visualize it is made difficult by the track patterns that don’t actually connect.

Three, the passenger mechanic, where you get a passenger if you connect to someone else’s station, didn’t feel right. Neither did the good chips, which were simply set-collection that perforce dominated the first part of the game.

Also, we kept bidding one share when someone else proposed to lay a track just to make them lose a share. It was so easy and cost essentially nothing.

Now, many of the above could simply be a result of first play inexperience. Maybe we just didn’t value things properly. But the entire experience, so thematically promising, turned out to be rather dull in the end. Move collect money, move collect money. Collect lots of money. Gili was bored to tears. I was rather unengaged, myself.

I will have to read the rules myself to see if we missed something.

In our game, I quickly realized that it was not worth fighting for things with other people because there were so many other ways to win points. As a result, Gili and Binyamin fought a smidge more than I did, and I walked away with a relatively easy victory.

Update: The only rules we appear to have gotten wrong is: Stations may not be placed on towns, cities, or tracks, nor adjacent to locomotives or existing stations.

Grave Robbers From Outer Space

Bridge

Jon, David E, Nadine, Binyamin

After Stephenson’s rocket, I went out for a few minutes and returned and sat down with a deck of cards. Others who were lightly playing a few other light card games that Josh had brought left and joined me for a few hands of Bridge.

David E and I have a special bidding system, which I essentially remember, but we didn’t get to use it much, as we only played two hands.

Nadine adds:

Jon and Binyamin made 4 Spades, bid 2
Jon and David made 4 Spades, bid 4
Nadine and Binyamin made 3 NT, bid 3

February 14, 2007

Participants: Jon, Eyal, Elijah, Zack, Nadine, Adam, David K, Shevi, Gili, Binyamin, Rachel A

Rachel and I were a little late with dinner again, so Eyal sat around a bit while we ate. After that we taught him how to play Puerto Rico without actually playing. We also almost played Geschenkt.

Intrigue

Adam 148, Shevi 147, Elijah 115, Eyal 97

A game of outright lying and deal-breaking. Shevi had an opportunity to win at the end of the game but didn’t take it because she considered the basic mechanics of the game to be cheating.

Wild Life

Zack 98, Jon 93, David 89, Nadine 85

Every time people come to the game group they clamor for the games that they want to play. Zack always wants to play Wild Life, Elijah always wants to play Cosmic Encounter, Adam always wants to play Modern Art, and so on.

When people don’t agree on games, they then start hashing out what they are willing to play, but constantly change their commitments as they hear of new possibilities. It only proves that we should never play any outright negotiation games.

In this instance, we managed to cure Zack of his Wild Life obsession. Even with only four people, the game took three and a half hours. And it wasn’t on my turns that the time went on (I took an extra minute for my last move, but that was all).

Frankly, after all the thinking by some people, and lack of thinking by me, the game progressed rather evenly. Nadine believes that the card draw is too luck dependent. I suggested that next time we divide the cards evenly among all players, letting them pick ala Torres.

Zack was finally tired of the game and just wanted it to end. But he said it was better with more players (5 or 6) since there was more competition that way.

Nadine adds:

On luck in Wildlife – the same as with many games of this type – with skilled players who know the game and optimize, luck, such as with cards, is more of a differentiator than play ability. And there don’t seem to be different strategies, it’s tactical, where most people would do the same thing in the same situation, unlike Puerto Rico where there’s more worthwhile variability.

Zertz

Jon+, Binyamin

While I played Wild Life, I taught Binyamin how to play, and, like others in the game group, abstracts are not his thing. I gained a white ball advantage, and forced a few more exchanges, gaining whites each time for the win.

Cribbage

Gili+, Binyamin

Then Gili taught Binyamin this game. I don’t think they finished it, but Gili was in the lead.

Settlers of Catan

Shevi+, Eyal, Gili

I didn’t see this one.

Tigris and Euphrates

Binyamin 9, Adam 6, Elijah 4

I didn’t see this one, either. Binyamin apparently had 9 in all colors.

Cosmic Encounter

Binyamin (Siren, Ethic)+, Elijah (Dragon, Pacifist)+, Zack (Entrepreneur, Grief), Adam (Extortionist, Delegator)

Another I didn’t see. Apparently, Binyamin and Elijah compromised their way with each other several times to a double win.

Nerunner

David (Runner)+, Jon (Corp)

This time the game went more smoothly. We both removed cards from our basic decks to bring us down to minimum sized decks. We only had to look up one rule about Nodes.

David ran my R&D once, and then pulled agendas from my HQ three times to win. I managed to get two agendas fulfilled, so it was a close game.

David became a little disenchanted with the game after realizing that winning is partly due to luck, since running is so often blind – on hidden cards, and pulling cards at random out of HQ.

While of course there is a little luck in this, I still think that it is on par with, or even less of a problem than, the luck in Magic. So I am still quite enamored with the game. David is now asking to move onto the next CCG, Middle Earth.

[David: Two comments. First, Jon doesn’t emphasize just how lucky I got in order to win. Though on one of my runs on HQ Jon had two agendas, typically HQ should average about one agenda out of 5 (rough estimate). So the chance of my getting three agendas from 4 runs is about one in 30. More to the point, the expected number of agendas one should pull on a run is 0.2, but the standard deviation is 0.4, twice as large as the expectation. That is why I say that there is so much luck involved. Magic also has luck in which cards get drawn, but NetRunner has the same luck in that regard, plus the enormous amount of luck involved in random runs.]

Puerto Rico

Eyal 53, Rachel 48+, Nadine 48-

This was Eyal’s first game, so Nadine gave her usual tips and helps along the way. Eyal’s novice moves threw Rachel off of her game. Between the two of these events, Eyal managed a newbie win.

Nadine adds:

I didn’t give my usual tips and help along the way to Eyal. I had time to explain the game beforehand, and he understands games. I told him to ask if he had questions. Both Rachel and I restrained ourselves, even when he let me trade sugar early instead of forcing me to ship. But when I was going to have the opportunity to trade coffee, we explained to him what was going on, but at that point he didn’t stop me because it would have caused him to lose goods. Most of the time he figured out the best role for himself. He did Craft somewhat frequently, but with 3 player it benefits both players more than in 4 or 5 player.

February 07, 2007

Participants: Nadine, Zack, Elijah, Binyamin, David R, David K, Ben, Jon, Adam, Gili, Rachel A

Tonight’s most unusual feature was that I was unable to make it home until 8 or so, and no one else was home either, so I left the door open and asked Nadine to be in charge until I got there. When I got back, everyone was happily playing and had even managed to order food without my assistance, which only goes to prove that they can do these things without my help.

As it happens, after I got home I was unable to join a game for over an hour. But I was kept busy answering both rules questions and strategy tips for the entire hour. Well, it’s nice to be needed for some thing, I guess.

Tonight was David R’s second visit, but he now returns to the U.S. Thanks for joining us, David.

Saboteur

Dwarves: Nadine, Zack, Binyamin+, Saboteurs: David R, Elijah

I’m impressed that the dwarves were able to overcome the 3 to 2 odds to win.

Magic: The Gathering

Binyamin(B)+, David R(R), David K(G), Ben(W), Adam(U)

This game of rainbow magic took some time to play. Binyamin and Adam are still newbies to the game, and there was some intense negotiation going on. Adam started off the game with an enchantment that caused all players to play with revealed hands. And Binyamin kept throwing out things like Pestilence and destroying every creature in play.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Nadine+, Zack, Gili, Elijah/Rachel A

The consensus is that this is really too long and boring compared to other games that can be played in a similar amount of time. While no longer my favorite, I disagree, and think it is still a good four player game, at least for a hundred plays or so.

Rachel had to take over when Elijah had to leave.

Netrunner

David K(Corp)+, Jon(Runner)

Not the number of games played with unequal forces tonight. First Saboteur, then Magic, now Netrunner. There’s certainly something appealing about these when they are done well.

This is David and my third play at the game, and the first time that we actually made it through the game to its finish. Even so, we are still very unclear on many of the rules, such as rezzing Nodes and advancing Agendas and so on.

David loves the game, and says that it may have even more room for depth than Magic, although he has played Magic so often that it may simply be that he’s too familiar with it. I think it’s about the same level, probably. It’s truly a very neat game. It appears to be overly restrictive in how the points work, being solely based around agenda cards. And the game appears to end rather early at only 7 points.

So far, all of our plays have been with untuned decks, straight out of the starter boxes playing sixty cards each. At the end of the evening, I sent David home with the Runner deck, and we’re both going to try to come to the next game with at least semi-tuned decks.

We’re on the lookout to buy a few more starter boxes, if you know where we can find some at a good price.

Zertz

Jon+, Ben

I wanted to play this one more time, and I introduced it to Ben. He didn’t get the tactics down on his first play, which gave me an easy win. A series of forced exchanges gave me four white balls.

I liked the game even more than last time. I hope it holds up.

Princes of Florence

Ben 61, David R 55, Adam 50, Binyamin 50

Another play for this classic. This was the first play for David R, and he appears to have played well enough.

Tichu

Jon-David K 590, Zack-Nadine/Adam 210

Technically, this is another game of which we have never actually finished an entire game. We simply play a few hands at the end of the evening when we have four players.

In this game, we played four hands. I called Tichu three times and made them all. Zack called on the last round and made his. As Adam pointed out, it’s a curious fact that it makes no difference whether you or one of your opponent’s calls Tichu, as the rewards and losses are the same either way; so long as someone calls it.

Nadine wasn’t sure that she liked the game any more, claiming that it was too random.