Monday, January 02, 2012


From January 2012, the JSGC session reports and comments will be at

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28, 2011

Mace, Gili, Eitan, Emily, Nadine

Eszter, Bill and Shirley couldn't make it. Mace's last time, he leaves again on Monday.

Gili's waiting to play London, but it's 4 player, so we postponed it.


Eitan won, then Mace, Emily, Gili and me. I had two cards, I kept losing to the locusts. I don't even think I could have done much differently, so it's a lot of luck. Eitan didn't even understand the scoring and he won, he thought it was most cards. Which does help.


Mace 41, Nadine 36, Emily 33, Gili 29, Eitan 24

Emily and Eitan had never played. First play with my new used game from the math trade. I'm not used to setting up, we were confused at first until we realized we were on the wrong side of the main board, I didn't even know there were two sides. Emily like it, Eitan didn't like how slow it was with 5 players. Mace and I spent a lot of time trying to order real food. Two restaurants didn't answer, another had a different number, it took a while. I have the expansion which we didn't use, the game is complicated enough without it. I spent some time trying to figure out whether to plow two vegetables or a grain and vegetable, but that didn't hold up the next player. I had five family members, Mace also. He had very synergestic cards with lots of grain and plowing. I could get a vegetable on Day Laborer, and get 5 food per vegetable. Emily did very well for her first play, she had no empty spaces. Eitan got 8 bonus points from cards, but didn't fill in most of his board. Gili got a field anytime someone plowed. Eitan said we needed Yehuda to add up the points, it took 3 people.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chanukah Games Day

Gili, Maor, Bezalel, Binyamin, Lotem, Nadine, Mace, Emily, Eitan, Eszter, Kate, Moshe

Gili had the good idea to have a games day on Chanukah, on the day that Eitan and Emily were off from university. Eszter and Gili's kids and a friend came. I met Moshe in BGG RSP, I like his philosophical posts on religion, and joined his RSP group on Facebook. He lives in Jerusalem but works nights so he's never met anyone in our group. Kate is his wife, she's very good at Eurogames, Moshe is also good but more of a wargamer, they brought their very cute and well-behaved year old daughter. Kate is from Ireland, Eszter from Hungary, Mace is from NY but lives in Australia.

Highland Clans
Gili 39, Mace 34, Emily 34, Eitan 33
My other free bgg.con game. We started learning this, then when more people arrived I stopped. Close game. Consensus was that it was a bit too random.

El Grande
Kate 33, 76,130; Nadine 41,72,118; Eszter 25,60,110; Moshe 27,54,75
Moshe had heard of this but never played, so I taught it. Same with our next two games. Eszter had played once. I started strong with special scoring, but that leads to fewer boots on the ground for the rest of the game. I was attacked a bit, and Kate caught on and played very well.

Emily 90, Mace 82, Gili 76, Eitan 73
One of Eitan and Emily's new games, they had played once. It looked interesting, Egypt under the Romans, but also similar to other games. Emily said the starvation strategy is highly penalized but she made it work.

Princes of Florence
Nadine 62, Kate 60, Eszter 56, Moshe 49
First play for Moshe and Kate, second for Eszter. I taught it and pointed out strategy issues, but it's hard to grasp the first time. I won due to two Prestige cards, Kate played six profession cards for more points than I played my six. Bidding was very low, jesters went for 500 max. Kate and Moshe had a bidding war at the end for a second builder for him, third for her, he got it for 1000. Turns out he misunderstood the situation and didn't need it, she did.

Louis XIV
Mace 59,Gili 51, Maor 48
Gili's variant where the high value mission cards score more, Mace had the most of those.

Year of the Dragon
Nadine 114, Kate 98, Moshe 84
Another hard game to learn the first time. It's not as competitive with three. I built a lot and thought I'd lose people, but ended up managing to get a lot of rice. Everyone played low numbers on the turn track, so I was first more than I expected to be. Famine and Disease were both towards the end of the game, with War, two Fireworks and Taxes in the first half.

The kids played Clue and Munchkin.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First night of Chanukah

Bill, Shirley, Liza, Mace, Shlomia, Shachar, Nadine

Mace flew in from Australia; Liza is a friend of Bill and Shirley's, who also flew in for a few weeks.

Bill won, beating Shirley by 3 points. Shirley started, Bill was second, which is an advantage when the pot is only refilled by ante. We played with m&m's, two or three rounds. First time playing Dreidle for Bill and Shirley.

Train of Thought
By the end, we managed to get faster at it. Mace did particularly well and was the first to be willing to be timed, he got 2.5 in the two minutes. But it's not easy, and again everyone said it didn't really feel like a party game.

Lo Ra
Mace 13,13,29; Liza 12,19,29; Shachar 1,6,20; Shirley 7,7,20; Bill 0,-7,9.
I asked Bill to get this out of the drawer. He couldn't find it until Mace pointed it out, I forgot that the title is in Hebrew. When Liza arrived I let her take over for me, Shachar and Shlomia teamed up. Two ties and Bill, at least he didn't end up negatives. He had a lot of Tribes but not much else. Disasters didn't show up til second and third yovels, but then a lot did of course. Some suspense at the end of yovels waiting for the last mosaic. First play for everyone, they got it by the second round but were slightly hurt by not understanding everything at the beginning. It worked well with five, everyone liked the game.

Shadows Over Camelot
Rather than caring about winning, everyone's goal was to be the traitor. Mace played very cagily at the beginning, in case he became the traitor. We passed out the cards at 5 swords. Liza had left, so it was 6 cards out of 8. After that everyone was cooperating well, and Mace committed himself to winning as a team, and as we suspected, there was no traitor. We won with 7 white swords. Shlomia did well, winning Excaliber and the solo knight quest, Shachar got the grail.

Upcoming: Mini Chanukah game day on Sunday at Gili's, and regular games next week on Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011

Gili, Emily, Eitan, Eszter, Nadine

Glen More
Emily 50, Eitan 41, Nadine 31, Eszter 22, Gili 16
Emily and Eitan got this game last week and played it once, which helped them. Gili was hit by a card misinterpretation which lost her a lot of points. This is a complex and interesting strategy game with a lot to consider, and explore. I took the fewest turns which didn't help me enough. It takes a while to understand the mechanics, scoring, cards and options. Emily got a Distillery right away and used it well.

Train of Thought
Gili brought over my new games, yay! We didn't want to learn the rules to a new game from scratch, but figured it would work with a party game. We played more seriously than it seems to expect. You get words and give three word clues to get the others to guess, with required start words. There is a two-minute sand timer. It took each of us at least two minutes just to think up our first set of clues. We did make it harder by requiring the required word to be used first instead of anywhere in the phrase. And we didn't use the timer. Because Eszter wasn't sure of the meaning of a word, Gili introduced us to a distracting cool phone app, Camdictionary, that reads and translates words in images. Emily got the most cards for guessing. Gili did the best at having her word used in the next clue phrase, which gives no points but was impressive. The game is fun but challenging, but we didn't really see how it's a party game.

Previous Plays
Gili hosted while I was away. Apparently, Jake and Daphne, who met at our Sukkot games day, showed up together once, and Jake came another time on his own.
Settlers of Catan - Jake+, Daphne, Emily, Gili, Ezster
El Grande - Eszter and Eitan tied for first with Emily a close second, Gili third.
Key Harvest - Gili, Jake, Emily and Eitan started as a team, then Emily took over when Jake left while the game was in progress, the team won.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NJ, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

I’m describing my experience of the trip to bgg.con, and trying not to repeat too much that Jon included in his blog, Yehuda. The Board Game Geek conference is organized by the bgg community.


I arrived in Teaneck Thursday evening. Candle lighting on Friday was at 4, so we mainly cooked. Friday night my cousin and husband went to a birthday party after dinner. I played Puerto Rico, which I gave them, with their kids. They barely remembered having played in Jerusalem a few years ago, so I taught the game and helped them a bit with strategy, because after I left they’d be playing on their own. They did pretty well, Debra took an early hospice, and Michael was doing well and had a lot of points. I ended up winning by 3 points.

Kansas City

Sunday I met Jon at Newark for the flight to Kansas City. A very small plane and a small airport where we were met by Bill and Shirley. Their house is big; we each got a bedroom with bath. They also have a mostly well-behaved, beautiful large puppy dog, Musi, that doesn’t really bark. But does sniff people a lot. Their Christmas tree, which is set up all year, has themed decorations including Americana, comics and Bible stories.

Secret Santa

Jon and I usually participate in the bgg Secret Santa, where you are assigned someone to give a game to, and receive a game from someone. Jon had said he wasn’t going to this year because he was getting enough games, but ended up signing up. He got someone in Singapore. After having gotten someone in Australia one year, I did U.S. only. The assignments came out the Friday before the con, so one of the things we did on Sunday was select and order games. I was going to send Carson City which I like but ended up sending Navigador, which is a better game. My target is in Sebastopol, relatively close to Menlo Park.

I added a note to my Secret Santa that they could ship the game to me at the hotel instead of sending to Israel. Jon added a note to his that they could contact me for suggestions. His Secret Santa did contact me, but when I asked Jon he had no info beyond his wishlist. But I wrote back that they could ship to the hotel, and to let me know which games. Jon wanted to be surprised, but didn’t want to purchase something he was receiving, so we were supposed to stop him from buying those games. His Secret Santa wrote me back that he was shipping to the hotel, but didn’t say which games.


Bill and Shirley were being supportively kosher and had bought enough utensils to cook for us. Monday we hung around a bit setting up new phones and planning food. Then we shopped, did some sightseeing, and got the rental car for the trip. I went along to be listed as a third driver, but at $9 a day for a few hours of driving wasn’t worth it. Shirley could drive, but Bill ended up driving the whole trip down. I went with Bill to drop off something at a friend’s place and to pick up some stuff from his office; I ended up cleaning up which I enjoy doing in offices that need it, and also got a demo of his company’s product.


We ended up leaving at 9 instead of 8 on Tuesday morning. They had to drop the dog off at doggie day care, and we had a lot of food which took a while to fit into the car. Jon wanted to arrive at the con by 6 to help pack welcome bags, where the social card-matching game called Spare Squares which he designed for all attendees to play was being distributed. So he didn’t let us stop for lunch, we had sandwiches in the car.

We did manage to stop for breaks several times, including to take pictures after crossing into Oklahoma and Texas. We listened to a few NPR podcasts and took pictures. I expected the land to be flat and boring, but it’s scenic with a lot of trees with colorful autumn leaves.


We hit a lot of traffic in Dallas, and had problems connecting to get GPS directions; once we got them I wrote them down just in case. It was also very warm, 79 degrees, so Shirley and I were discussing how we only had winter clothes along. We checked in to our hotel, then walked over to the con at the Westin. Of course all the welcome bags were ready and they didn’t need help with setting up. There were already a lot of people playing.

The Con

Roll Through the Ages

We ate the food we had brought, and then played some games in the lobby area. Jon, Bill and I played Roll Through the Ages with someone we met. It’s a cute short and simple game, I tied for second. We walked around gawking at everything, Jon showed me how Crokinole works – it’s tough on the hands like Pitch Car. All the dexterity games looked interesting.


Then Jon and I learned and played Troyes with two other people. I had read about the game but not how it worked, Jon had more of an idea and caught on quicker. In addition to all the actions, each player gets one secret card which gives bonus points at the end of the game. I didn’t understand how everything worked, but focused on my card which gave points for placement on cards. Placement on cards also gives additional victory points for each placement. The other players helped me calculate optimal cards, but within the area I selected, such as which was the best red action. I didn’t understand all the rotating worker mechanics, Jon didn’t either, which affected our points. At the end, I had to choose between two possible bonus point actions without knowing which bonus cards were in the game, I picked wrong, but it ended up not mattering, I won with 37 points. Jon thinks I get extra help because I don’t understand games right away and ask questions, it’s hard to separate learning mechanics from strategy.

I walked around looking at all the different types of games like in the War Game room.

I thought the Game Library with 4,500 games would be crowded and have a long line, but they had a very efficient scan system of a barcode on the game, and on attendee badges, so there was barely any waiting time.