Thursday, December 27, 2007

December 27, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David, Binyamin, Ben, Yitzchak, Gili

A very ordinary, but enjoyable, game night.

Down Under

Jon+, Nadine

Nadine 32, Jon 30, David 21, Binyamin 21

This little game was sent to me as a gift. It's about the size of my game It's Alive. It's a boardless tile laying game for up to four players. A second game is also explained in the rules, using the reverse side of the tiles.

On your turn, you have access to all of your tiles, which means that there's no "luck" in the way of tile drawing. Each tile has a road of your color, a separate road in gray, and an animal on the gray road. You place one of your tiles so that the road of your color on your tile extends your route. Your route includes all previous tiles you placed of your color, and any gray tiles that you managed to include in the route by connecting to them.

The board can only grow to a certain width and length. When no one can't place any more tiles you count the length of your route plus sets of animal combinations on your route to arrive at your final score.

It's actually quite nice and fairly quick. I enjoyed both the two-player and four-player game. None of the other players seemed to like it, unfortunately, except Nadine seemed to like it a bit. It seems to work two, three, or four player equally well.

I found some of the rules a bit hard to understand, especially the "cap" pieces that you are able to play at any time, but don't make sense to play until the end of the game, and don't do anything anyway. I couldn't figure out how or why they did anything.

Power Grid - Benalux

David 15, Jon 12, Nadine 10

This was our first play on one of the new boards. Benelux is a very cheap board, and the power plants cycle very quickly, making the game pretty short. In addition, oil is cheap and plentiful, while coal is expensive and scarce.

David managed to tap into the oil well and maintained a lead because of it throughout the game. He also expanded quickly into my cheap territory. A pretty easy victory on his part, but still fun to play.

Taj Mahal

Binyamin+, Yitzchak+, Ben, Gili

This game hadn't come out in a while. Ben had to have the rules refreshed to him. In the end, Binyamin and Yitzchak tied when the cards were added to the interim scoring.

Cosmic Encounter

Binyamin+, Yitzchak+, Ben

After Gili left, they got this game out. Wild as usual, but the game didn't last long and I think they weren't keen to continue it anyway, for some reason. Binyamin and Yitzchak managed a joint win on a deal.


Ben/David, Jon/Nadine

Ben/Yitzchak, Binyamin/Nadine

A usual evening-ended, sometimes for more than an hour, like this evening. They don't seem to tire of it.

Magic: the Gathering

Jon+, David+

Binyamin actually wanted to play Magic, too, but Ben preferred Bridge. David and I continued to plow our way through the new cards I brought back from Canada. I think I had the stronger deck. We split the games, but I only lost the second game because of mana screw.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 18, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Yitzchak

This week's game was changed to Tuesday as I would be unavailable Wed evening.

Mr Jack

Jon (Mr Jack) +, Nadine (Detective) +

Nadine continued her obsession with this game coming into the evening. I continued to play Mr Jack with the hopes of proving that he really had a viable chance against the Detective. In the first game, I made an error to tip my hand in round four. Unfortunately, Nadine had no trouble pouncing on me in rounds 5.

In the second game, I played purely defensively, and managed to keep 4 people suspects until round 6. One of them wasn't really a suspect, since the piece didn't try to escape when it could have. As round 6 rolled into round 7 and 8 and Nadine realized that there was nothing to do but try to guess one of the pieces, Nadine finally decided that the game wasn't so interesting after all if Jack could just hide in plain sight until the end of the game.

In other words, Nadine was nearly about to say that the game is obviously tilted in favor of Jack's winning! I teased her about that. In the end, she said that, once again, with evenly matched players and no particular mistakes, it came down to the luck of the card flips.

My next goal is to take back the Detective role and prove her wrong.

Odin's Ravens

Yitzchak+, Gili

I taught this to them as something to play while waiting for Nadine and me to finish our first game of Mr Jack. Gili didn't catch on quite as well as Yitzchak, and so suffered some major losses, although it took three races for Yitzchak to win.


Jon+, Yitzchak, Nadine, Gili

We played this for the first time. I love a route creation / pick up and deliver game. This one has a cute board with gamer in-jokes. It also has a wickedly hard action bidding system, where you place your limited cubes onto the actions you want, but as further people do the same, yours become canceled. In theory, it's very good.

In practice, the game doesn't quite work. Two of the bidding areas are simply no-brainers during the game. First player places his cube onto the only slot in "Expand Your Bus Capacity" Position, and second player places his cube onto the only slot in "Start Player Next Round". That leaves five other action types.

The ordering of "Bring in New Passengers" is not very significant if you have enough passengers on your route already, and irrelevant if you don't have a station connection, and even more irrelevant when there are no more passengers to place. It could be that we were playing this wrong, as it didn't seem to provide much tension. That leaves four other action types.

"Placing new buildings" also doesn't really provide that much tension on most turns, unless you have rail tracks to empty spaces in which they can be placed. On some turns this was significant, however.

The clock mechanism was rather odd, but seems like it might have worked. It didn't work too much for us in our game.

The last two action types were "Place new rails" and "Deliver passengers". These are the core mechanisms of a pick up and deliver game, and were also the only two that really provided significant tension in the game.

We may have subject to some group think in our first game, or have played the rules incorrectly. As it was, Nadine didn't really like it, Gili was happy to run out of cubes and leave early, and Yitzchak wasn't particularly thrilled. I was the only one who liked it despite the flaws, although I've already set my mind to figuring out how to fix them.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

December 12, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Hillel, Yitzchak, Binyamin, David, Channie, Saarya

Hillel has come occasionally before, and Channie is the latest of David's daughters to try out the group.

Arkham Horror

Jon, Nadine, Hillel, Yitzchak, Binyamin

I knew this would take a long time, but I also thought it might be interesting. Yitzchak was very keen to play. In theory this could have accommodated all the participants, but I thought it might be unwieldy with more than five. Turns out that it probably would have worked better with eight.

We didn't finish the game, but it looks like we were all headed to our doom.

The game is a huge and complex thing, with dozens of different avenues to explore. We barely scratched the surface. I found it to be all-the-more intriguing for that. On the other hand, Nadine thinks that once you've explored all the basic strategic paths, it's going to get less interesting.

She points out that, unlike Shadows Over Camelot, there is almost nothing in the way of cooperative activity in this game. In Shadows, aside from the traitor, you have to combine players on certain tasks. Here, everything can only be done by one person. There are a few cards out of the hundred available that say something like "heal 1 point" to another player, but you both have to be in the same space, which is generally a waste, and 1 point isn't a big deal.

You can't fight monsters together: if you fight a monster, it gets to hit you. If two of you fight, it gets to hit both of you; it doesn't have to choose which one of you to hit. Gates are always closed by one person, and there's nothing you can do to combine efforts.

So our first game felt like a classic multi-player solitaire. Will this change with more plays? Maybe. There are a lot of cards I haven't seen yet. Even so, just exploring all the possibilities looked like fun.


Binyamin, David, Saarya, Channie

Played as an opener.

Power Grid

David, Channie, Saarya

I have no idea, but I assume they tried out one of the new maps.


Jon, Binyamin, Nadine, Yitzchak

Played as a closer.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

December 05, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Binyamin, Rivka, Yitzchak, Jack

The second night of Hanukkah, and possibly why attendance is even lower than usual. Still, Jack returned from a prolonged absence. He reports that the Jerusalem Russian-speaking gaming group petered out. As such, he hopes to be joining our group more regularly.

Robo Rally

Yitzchak+, Nadine, Jon, Jack

I decided to try this on the most minimal board configuration: four players, one board, one flag, and that's it. Even with this, it was a challenging game lasting a reasonable length of time.

Part of the reason that it lasted a reasonable length of time was that the flag was placed in a location that was quite difficult to get to. You had to be in exactly one of two spaces and have a "2" card. As a result, although two players got close to the end first, the other two were within contention by the end of the game, as well.

Yitzchak finally landed the right combo.

Nadine adds: Even though I managed to screw up a turning direction card every single time in Robo Rally, it's a fun and challenging game, compelling even if you're behind unless you're dead or powered down.

Vegas Showdown

Nadine, Binyamin, Rivka, Yitzchak

I didn't play this, so Nadine comments:

t seems like a good game – choices, interactivity, variation through an event card each turn. But it didn't seem exciting, fun or original, the way Robo Rally does. Or even Mr. Jack which you want to see if it's solvable. And in Vegas, it seems like it will be much less interesting to turn over Event cards in future games, when they're not new. And it seemed more tactical than strategic, based on one play.

Mr Jack

Rivka(Det)+, Binyamin(Jack)

I taught this to these two when they came in, warning them that playing Mr Jack was still considered unsolvable in our group. Rivka made mincemeat out of him, I believe.

Jon(Jack)+, Jack(Det)

I, however, am still working on improving my skills in this game as Jack, in order to prove or disprove whether Jack can really win against an equal opponent, one way or the other. I'm very proud of myself for winning against an opponent who had never played before.

My opp didn't make any really bad mistakes; a few mistakes here and there, but nothing horrible. Still, he only revealed one character in the first and second rounds, and none in the third. By the end of round 7 I still had three suspects on the board. At which point he gave up and tried guessing (and lost).

It's a very compelling and interesting puzzle, and should it turn out that Jack really has a chance against a good opponent, it will likely be considered one of my favorite two-players. Nice pieces and theme, and good play mechanics.

However, one thing I can't stand about the game is the mechanic of guessing on the last turn. I hate a rule that let's you simply win by a lucky die roll on the last play, and this is equivalent to that. I think you should have to guess Jack or not, and be done with it.

Tigris and Euphrates

Jon 10, Jack 8

Jack challenged me to a game of this. We played on two thirds of a board with seven starting temples and with the game ending with only one treasure remaining. We should have taken a collection of the tiles out of the bag as well, but we didn't bother, so the game was bound to end only with treasures taken.

That also means that essentially all kingdoms, however large, were going to have to clash at some point. Of course, removed tiles and disasters mitigated that somewhat.

Anyway, it was a fascinating game and a pleasure to play. Jack really liked it because I was tougher than his usual opponents (not that I'm particularly good).

I began very quickly mingling our leaders. Eventually I built all three of the monuments that would get built, unconcerned that I was giving him half the points. That's one of the interesting things about the game: you can give loads of points to your opponent assuming it's the right points.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 28, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David, Yitzchak, Gili, Ben, Binyamin

First game night back in my house, and we got to start playing the new games I brought back from my trip. Binyamin only arrived later in the evening.

Nadine and I took out Mr. Jack, but didn't get a chance to play it.

Robo Rally

David+, Nadine, Ben, Yitzchak, Jon, Gili

I've been wanting to get this game for the group for ages, and now I have. It was just as fun for me as the first time I played it back in BGG.con 1. Back then, we played with six players, four boards with 4 goals. It was too long, and there was already a runaway winner 2/3 of the way through the game at 3 hours.

I thought that 3 goals on two boards would be good - not too few to make it easy, not too many to drag on. It was definitely better, but still a bit too long, however, part of that was simply because we were all learning the game, and I was relearning the game, so we spent a lot of time going over the too long rulebook and trying to get the rules right. Even so, a lot of turns had people complaining that they didn't realize how something worked. And we played without the options, too!

Next time, I think we play on one board with two goals and see how it goes. With options.

Gili became the most frustrated during the game, when Ben ended up pushing her into a pit twice in a row. She essentially gave up and went to play a two-player game with me instead.

I was also in a lot of difficulty and stayed in last place pretty much throughout the game, although it looked like I was doing well when I started. Meanwhile, Nadine also ended up getting killed twice, but in the end it helped her. She healed back up to 7 and re-entered the board with the right cards. Yizchak came in a comfortable middle.

David won, Nadine came in second, then Ben. Ben had been way ahead, competing with David to win, but didn't have good cards. Then he had even worse cards because he barely got any, due to damage points.

I think the game was a hit with David, and Ben, Nadine, and Yitzchak also liked it. I simply had to reassure them that it was a chaotic crazy game like Cosmic, where you take it as it comes, and not a strategy game like Power Grid.

Schotten Totten

Jon/Binyamin+, Gili

I took this out and discovered that it didn't have English rules. I quickly went to download some, but not wanting to keep Gili waiting, we played the game without any of the special cards. Binyamin came in the middle and I returned to Robo Rally while he took over.

He says that the game is dull without the special cards, but actually I though it was ok even without them. I'm looking forward to playing with them. In any case, the game is light-years better than dull old Lost Cities.


Ben, Nadine, Yitzchak, Binyamin

I can't get them to stop playing this for the last hour of every evening.


Jon++, David+

We played with some of the new cards I just picked up. As we drafted, I tossed out duplicates to make sure we had lots of new cards to play with.

I ended up with a reasonably good White/Red deck with a splash of Green, while David had Green/Black. I only lost the second game because of mana screw. My cards had some synergy, and he had very little to stop my flying.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

November 21. 2007

Participants: Yitzchak, Binyamin, Nadine, Ari, Jon

I returned to Israel this evening, and caught only the tail end of the game. I substituted for Ari in Cosmic when he had to leave. Notes are sparse, and mostly Nadine's.

San Juan

Yitzhak 33, Binyamin 30, Nadine 28

I have no further information.

Cosmic Encounter

Binyamin + Subversive, Assassin; Nadine + Filth, Virus; Ari/Jon + Prolong, Grudge; Yitzhak Cavalry, Vampire

I didn't inherit a particularly good position, but neither was it terrible. Binyamin eventually won jointly with Nadine, by arrangement.

Nadine adds: Always fun, but this went on a long time as a defensive game with few
foreign bases until over an hour into the game.

Welcome back to Jon who got home from the airport then came over later as Ari was leaving.


Binyamin, Nadine, Yitzchak, Jon

Just a few rounds to cap off the night.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 14, 2007

Participants: David, Gili, Nadine, Hillel

I was away in Canada, so Nadine took notes.

San Juan

David 47, Nadine 29, Gili 28

We took Library out of the game because David thinks it's too powerful,
which it probably is. I had no 6 point cards even with Prefecture and
lots of Counselling. Gili had a Tower and all the cards. She didn't get
to build her Palace at the end. David got 14 points from Guild Hall, and
had Palace.

Power Grid

Nadine 18/18, David 17/17+, Hillel 17/17-, Gili 15/15

We had no rounds of Step 2. At the end of the game only 3 power plants
were left on the board. We didn't think I'd be able to build to 18
cities at the end, but I was able to buy 5 cities in the Northeast for
under 120. Otherwise David would have won a tie at 17 cities on money.
It seemed somewhat lucky to me though I'm probably improving somewhat.
It was Hillel's first time playing. We gave him advice, but mostly he
caught on to the strategic aspects and did well.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

November 07, 2007

Participants: Nadine, Binyamin, Yitzchak, David, Gili

The second of three game sessions at Nadine's house while I'm away in Canada/US. Nadine writes the reports.

Amun Re

David 49, Yitzhak 41, Binyamin 31, Gili 29, Nadine 26

We played Amun Re which wasn't very interesting since I lost. We
hadn't played in a while, but it seems like there was significant luck.
Yitzhak who is playing 20 concurrent Amun Re games online didn't even
win. David, unusual for him, won without complaining about how poorly he
was doing the whole time. But true to form the game did take 3 hours.

First kingdom or whatever:
David 12
Yitzhak 13
Binyamin 13
Gili 9
Nadine 9


Binyamin/David, Nadine/Yitzchak

Our last bridge hand:

West: David
5 Spades
5 Clubs
Ace of Hearts +2 red

North: Yitzhak
Diamonds AQJxxxx
Hearts K xxx
Spades Kx

East: Binyamin
6 Clubs, 5 Spades and 2 red cards

South: Nadine
Spades xx
Hearts QJxxxx
Clubs xx
Diamonds Kxx

East dealer. Bidding:
B 1 Club
N 2 Hearts
D 2 Spades
Y 4 Hearts
B 4 Spades
N pass
D pass
Y 5 Hearts
B Double
all pass

David led a Spade and they took two Spade tricks, and would get a Heart
for down one.

Binyamin wanted to know why David didn't bid 6 Clubs, which would have

Anyway, we had some interesting hands and confirmed the rule of 11.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

October 31, 2007

Participants: Nadine, Yitzchak, Gili, Dylan, Genia

First game day out of three that will be in Nadine's house while I'm away in Canada. The report is from Nadine.

San Juan

Yitzchak 44, Gili 36, Nadine 29

Gili joined late and we let her take extra cards and builds to catch up.
Yitzchak did a good job with a Quarry and Library early in the game.

Pirate's Cove

Dylan 37, Nadine 32, Yitzchak 31, Genia 29, Gili 28

We agreed that there is too much luck in this game - both in selecting
islands and dice rolling. The game is not long enough for the luck to
even out. But it's a lot of fun to play. Thanks to Gili for bringing it
again. Genia did well and was leading for most of the game, but the
resultant attacks had their effect, even though she beat a Navy ship.
Yitzchak was also leading, tied with Dylan, but was destroyed in the last
round. I was behind most of the time til the end.

It's Alive

Yitzchak 50, Dylan 46, Genia 42, Gili 39, Nadine 39

Most of us were waiting for a long time for one missing card. We had a
good time playing. Gili got a lot of Villagers, usually followed by a

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 24, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzvhak, David, Gili, Orah, Hillel

This was my last games night in Israel before a trip to North America. Nadine will be hosting game nights for the next three weeks.

Gili finally returned after her vacation, and she brought her mom, Orah, with her. Hillel is a new player who found us through my blog. He enjoyed himself, so hopefully he will be back. I didn't get to play with either of them, however.

Colossal Arena

Nadine 11, Jon 10, David 3, Yitzchak 0

The last time I played this I was not impressed. And no one has been hankering for it since then. So I was thinking of adding it to my trade list. Before I did, I wanted to give it another try.

Essentially, the game consists of selecting 8 out of the 12 available creatures to do battle. To do this, you need to separate out the 12 cards for each creature type from the pack of cards, as well as 11 spectator cards, and a few referee cards. The others are set aside.

You lay out the descriptive cards of each of the eight creatures at the top of the table. Each battle is "fought" in successive rows on the table beneath the top row. At the end of each battle, the lowest valued creature is no longer in play. The next battle is fought one row further down, with one less creature. After five battles, only three creatures remain.

Battles are fought by players placing cards corresponding to the creatures in the current battle row one by one. You can cover up a card already in place. As soon as all creatures fighting in a round have a card, the creature with the lowest number is eliminated. If there is a tie for lowest number, keep playing until there isn't. Cards are valued 0 to 10 for each creature and must be played on that creature. A card from single set of spectator cards valued 0 to 10 may be played on any creature.

Each round, you bet, place a card, and draw back up to 8 cards. Special cards or abilities may come into play.

During the game, you place bets on these creatures. The earlier the battle, the more valuable the bet. In the first round you can also place an additional secret bet. Only one person can place a bet on one creature each round, and only after the creature already has at least one card on it from this turn.

The last rule is the one I missed the first time I played and makes all the difference. It is a critical rule that makes the game far more enjoyable. Without it, you can bet on anything you want and then play a card on that bet. Instead, you have to play a card which might enable someone else to place the bet on it before it gets back to you.

Each creature also confers a special ability for you if a) you place a card on it this round, and b) you have the highest valued total bets on this creature.

It's actually an interesting game. The most interesting part is that you can place either low cards on creatures you don't like or high cards on creatures you do. You can end the game with a high card on the last remaining creature without a card yet, dooming some other creature, or a low card on that creature, dooming it instead. Assuming you have the card you need.

However, the game still has a few problems, which we noticed the last time, too.

The biggest problem is the point system, Like Quo Vadis, point scores in this game are simply too low and therefore likely to tie all too often. It's just not enough, and not enough ways to score. Furthermore, the betting system makes most of the bets fairly worthless and most of the creature special powers also fairly worthless. It's a drag on the game. Higher valued bets, the last row being worth something, and interim scoring opportunities ala El Grande would make the game much better.

The second problem is design. The spectator cards look exactly like the creature cards and are impossible to distinguish except by reading the fine print. They should have big words saying "Spectator" on them. And many of the creature cards have nearly the same coloration or name, making them hard to distinguish, too. There is no special corner symbol; you have to hold the cards so that the entire top of each card is visible. This makes setting up the game, and figuring out what you have in your hand difficult.

One other problem was remembering which creatures were eliminated from play each round at a quick glance. This information is important since you need to know how many creatures remain this round. Flipping over their card in the top row wasn't good enough, and in fact made it worse. Instead, we collected all the cards previously played on those creatures and made upside down piles in their column in the current row.

I think my problem last time also may have stemmed from too few players. You definitely need a full complement of betting to make the game interesting.

It's not going to hit the table often. However, it's also not too expensive, so not worth my effort in carrying it over to the U.S. to trade, as I doubt I would get much for it.

In our game, Yitzchak had bad luck and got eliminated often. Nadine and I seemed to overlap on most creatures, which made us allies. I had the nicer bets, but she had a secret bet which gave the final win.

San Juan

Gili 40, Hillel 34, Orah 34

Gili taught this to Orah and Hillel and they played the entire game with open hands.


Jon/David, Yitzchak/Nadine
Played as a filler. I opened 2c on one of the hands.

Power Grid

Jon 18, David 17, Yitzchak 16

A win for me, which either means I'm getting better or that my opponents are making more mistakes. In an unusual turn of events for PG, it seemed like I was winning most of the game and then I actually did.

David took the early 8, I had the 5, and Yitzchak the 4. Yitzchak grabbed an early 20 which set the stage for too much coal usage. I seemed to lose the battles for all the best plants, but the others had to spend an extra 10 or 20 to get them. Instead, I built a lot of cities, kept the plant market cycling quickly, and ensured that I wasn't too dependent on the fuel others needed.

They eventually bought some green plants which reduced the resource supply problem, although coal was always still in short supply. I avoided it, since I was always buying fuel last and didn't want to be stuck without any.

Near the end, I had the least plant capacity, but I had 15 cities to their 10 each. But they still needed to buy plants because, even though they had more capacity than me, they still didn't have 17 or 18. So they were stuck buying plants and cities, while I only had to buy plants. And there were enough big plants to go around in Stage 3. In the end, neither of them could afford to get to more than 17 plant capacity, while I raised mine to 18 and bought my last city.

Pirate's Cove

Gili 34, Hillel 30, Orah 27, Nadine 27
Gili brought and taught this. There seemed to be an awful lot of dice rolling and combat from where I was looking. Nadine said the game was nice, but essentially a nice war game, with Eurogame chrome. Battles didn't eliminate your ships, just your cash, so it wasn't entirely war gamey.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

October 17, 2007

Participants: Nadine, Yitzchak, David, Jon, Binyamin, Tal, Ginat

Game night was at Nadine's house, since I thought I would be late. I only arrived a little late, at 7:15.

Puerto Rico

David 62, Yitzchak 56, Nadine 47

They opted to play this as a starter game, promising to play quickly. It took an hour, which is quick enough, for them.


Jon 30, Tal 28, Binyamin 24

Tal doesn't play heavier games, and this is one of her favorites. Or it used to be, until she realized that her strategy of always waiting to win the last two battles didn't always mean winning the game.

Binyamin won both the first two battles, but nothing more until we finished the first seven. Tal and I took 2 and 3 of the next battles, respectively. I was ahead in points now, but it came down to the remaining two battles. If either won both of them, they would win the game. If they split, I would still be ahead.

My hand was seriously depleted, so I wasn't in the running for the last two battles at all. Binyamin was convinced that he wasn't going to win either. He had the opportunity to simply not call Havoc at all, basically handing me the victory, since the eighth battle wouldn't be fought and the remaining points wouldn't be enough to beat me. But he didn't. They ended up each winning one battle, which gave me the victory, anyway.

Blokus Trigon

Binyamin+, Yitzchak
Binyamin brought this out as a filler game. Yitzchak had only once played the regular Blokus.

Princes of Florence

Yitzchak 72, Binyamin 63, Tal 54

They played on the fancy graphics new version in German. Jesters were selling cheap.

Power Grid: France

Jon 16+, Nadine 16-, David 13

End scores in Power Grid give you little information about how the game went.

This was our group's first time on an extension board. Nadine and David spent some time picking which country and provinces in which to ply, finally settling on Western France. We played with the correct France rules which tossed out the 13 plant, put the 11 in its place, and added more nukes to the initial setup.

Both of them had the opportunity to place cities on the board before me, and both chose not to take Paris fearing imminent enclosure. Instead they both placed right outside of Paris. I took Paris.

And after my fourth city build, I was enclosed. Despite this, I was earning more cash than either of them, which allowed me to jump across the board to mid-France, and then all the way down to the south coast.

Resources were in short supply. Coal went first. Nadine and I were sitting in Phase 3 with 13 cities each, to David's 10. He had plant capacity to power 15 cities, Nadine 13, and me 10.

All of us were able to take a 6 power plant, giving David 17 capacity, me 13, and Nadine 17. Except Nadine couldn't really power 17, since I kept running out the garbage fuel she needed.

In the last round, we finished all the big power plants, netting me a maximum power capacity of 16. There were no more plants I could get, so I was bound to lose if David could build the cities. Nadine tossed her 7 garbage plant, since she could never fuel it, and instead took the 50. So she was also now limited to 16 capacity.

The game had to end that round for me to win; otherwise David would just build 3 cities this turn, 4 the next, and power all 17. Luckily he wasn't able to get even to 16 cities in this turn, so I built to 17, being able to power 16 of them. Nadine could also build to 16, but had far less cash, even having to build one less city.

If you followed all that, you're a genius.

It's Alive

Binyamin 46, Yitzchak 42, Ginat 37

Binyamin find the new graphics gross.


Jon/Yitzchak, Binyamin/Nadine
Yitzchak played two 5c contracts. The first he made. The second I jumped to 5c as a sacrifice bid over my his 2c bid followed by Nadine's 2h. Binyamin doubled, and Yitzchak redoubled. Yitzchak is still a bit new to the bidding game, and so didn't realize I was sacrificing; he thought I was powerful. And forgot that I had initially passed.

Turns out we only went down one. He had 7 clubs. And our opponents were cold for 5h, and might have made 6h.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

October 10, 2007

Participants: Jon, Ben, Nadine, David K, Adam, Binyamin

Group attendance still light, but I don't mind. We still argue about what to play.

Power Grid

Ben 17+, David 17-, Adam 14

They played in the middle of the Germany board. Third phase seemed to come early, but there was a dearth of high-producing power plants. Some fierce bidding over the last plants, up to 130.

Ben won by cash. David expended his cash in order to beat out Adam to a plant, but it turned out that her didn't need to, since Adam wasn't going to be able to build enough cities. As a result, David lost to Ben in the cash situation.

Cleopatra and the Society of Architects

Binyamin 58/1, Jon 57/5, Nadine 73/6

This was a basic set collection game taught to us by Binyamin. It uses a lot of fancy components to built a palace for Cleopatra, including the entire box cover. So if your box cover rips, you're out a component. Although really the box cover is not necessary.

There are three piles of cards. Each turn you either take a pile of cards and add one card to each pile (the one you took from is now a single card). Or you meld your sets and earn points. As the palace gets built, less set types are available to meld.

Many of the better cards give you corruption points, as does going over ten cards at any point. Once or twice a game there will be a blind bid of victory points, with the highest player losing 3 corruption points, and the others gaining some more. Everyone loses their bid.

In the end, the player with the most corruption can't win the game. Of the remaining players, the one with the highest victory points wins. Tie goes to least corruption.

That's about it. The corruption point element and had size limit adds some nice decision making to the game. There are a bunch of other flavor mechanics adding details, some of which seem rather dispensable.

In our game, I was convinced I was losing the corruption count until midway, when I thought that Binyamin finally passed me. He managed to win both blind bids, however, and so reduced his corruption to almost nothing. In the end, he beat me by a single victory point. Nadine had more victory points, but she lost by a single corruption point to mine.

Magic: the Gathering

Jon++, David+

I won a rare game sequence against David. We drafted from random cards. There are still so many of my later common cards that I just don't know that it's like opening fresh packs of a new expansion.

I somehow ended up playing blue/white, since I had enough fliers and creatures in them together with artifact creatures. I splashed black for a swampwalker and sunburst payments.

David played his usual Black and a second color red, because he managed to steal all the direct damage cards during the draft. Nevertheless, my deck was able to get out and get around defenses better than his could.


Ben, Nadine, Binyamin, Jon/David

While playing Magic, David or I would fill in for the fourth hand in bridge. I didn't pay much attention to what was happening, however, and whenever it came to playing, the dummy would take over the hand.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Games Day: September 30, 2007


Adam - club regular
Akiba - schoolmate of Saarya's
Ari - first time attendee from Jerusalem
Assaf - first time attendee from Jerusalem
Avi - David's son
Ben - club regular, my brother
Benjamin - friend of Elijah's
Coby - gamer from Rechovot; hosts game nights there
David - club regular; old friend of mine and my brothers
Elijah - club regular
Jack - infrequent club attendee since he started his own Russian-speaking game club in Jerusalem
Jon - me
Michael - infrequent club attendee; Elijah's father
Nadine - club regular; close friend of mine and Rachel's outside the club
Richard - attends game days only; an historical bridge partner of mine; likes Settlers, but otherwise only prefers classic games such as Bridge and Go; Richard brought me a whole bunch of classic game board and books as a gift
Saarya - infrequent club attendee, since he's in sleep-away school; my son
Seraphya - son of friends of ours; first time attendee
Shachar - son of same friends of ours; infrequent attendee
Shlomiyah - daughter of same friends of ours; first time attendee
Tal - infrequent club attendee; my daughter
Yitzchak - club regular
Yuka - friend of Jack's and attendee of the Russian club

Games Played:

Bridge x many

Played as a filler and ender by Jon, Richard, Nadine, Ben, and David.


Adam taught this to Saarya, Elijah, and me. It is an elegant idea: pick tiles, place them, score points for what you've placed minus what you couldn't.

We only played one game, but I wasn't entirely sold on the idea. I really didn't like the drafting mechanism of the tiles wherein the best tiles are essentially taken in order around the table. I know I can find a better mechanic than that. And the principal of some times being harder to place than other tiles doesn't hold up, since they're all easy to place at the beginning and harder to place as you go on.

I have to read the rules myself and see if I'm missing something.

Adam won by a slight margin.

English rules are here. --Adam


One of the long games played in the last several hours of the day; around four hours, I think, for a five player game. First plays for Michael and Shachar, but Yuka and Jack know the game from their club. It was late and Shachar was beginning to fall asleep.

Jack won with 72, Yitzchak was in second with 69, Michael 63, Yuka 59, Shachar 43.

Cosmic Encounter x 2

Elijah's favorite, and he played it twice.

The first time was with Ben, Saarya, and me. I had Oracle and Aristocrat, with which I was pretty happy. Ben had been unhappy with Empath, a power which we both think is underpowered, so we changed it to be that the Empath's opponent loses twice as much for failing to make a deal, which seemed to restore its balance. In any case, Ben never got to try it out, having all around bad hands as usual. Saarya and I earned a joint win.

The second time Elijah played with Saarya, Adam, and Yitzchak. Yitzchak won as the Philanthropist/Subversive. Adam had fun with the Witch.

El Grande

Played by Ben, Saarya, Nadine, and Elijah. Ben started off ahead after the first scoring round, 44 to 39, 38, and Elijah at 23. As a result, he was attacked and fell behind. As usual, even after he was behind he still got attacked, leaving Nadine to do her usual and take a soaring victory. Elijah also made a good comeback. Nadine won with 129 to 99, 99, and 98.

Go (19x19)

One of the games Richard plays, I don't know how this game went except that Adam won.

I beat him fairly easily, although he played well. We should have played with some handicap stones. --Adam

It's Alive x 5

Along with Bridge, this was the filler game of choice for the night. Some of our new visitors asked to pick up copies. Games played include: Nadine+, Saarya, Jon; Tal+, Elijah, Adam; Adam+, Elijah, Tal; Shlomiyah++, Seraphya, Shachar. All games played were the basic version.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation x 4

The two-player filler game of choice, apparently. Adam played and beat Elijah twice. Elijah played and beat Shachar, and Seraphya and Shachar also played.

Lost Valley

I was still keen on playing this game, so Saarya and Adam joined me. It was Saarya's first game. Previous games I've had were very different from each other, but this one was a splash in the face of disappointment.

I couldn't make money to save my life owing to the distribution of the tiles. Saarya took a lead in finding money and the explored continuously to run out the clock, a mechanic which I didn't like last time but now really hate.

Furthermore, the arrangement of the tiles and the rule about only one player allowed on a vertex at a time allowed Adam to block and entire area of the board simply by standing and moving back and forth whenever I tried to go around him, which simply makes no sense.

I'm glad this wasn't my first experience with the game. I really like the game, otherwise, and I need to find resolutions for these problems. I think one of the best resolutions is still my first proposed alteration to the game: each player starts with 2 gold nuggets, which eliminates the catastrophe of being shut out early.

Magic: the Gathering x 3

David and I got in a draft and three games of this. Both of us had very weak hands. Even though mine was weak, I thought it did have a little synergy. Still, David killed me handily in one game, lost the second due to mana screw, and came back to win the third from being down 20 to 2. I picked well in all three games, so there you go.

Power Grid x 2

Yitzchak introduced the game to Shachar, Seraphya, and Shlomiyah, and unsurprisingly won. This is David's favorite game, so he made sure to get a game in later with Ben, Nadine, and Assaf. This was Assaf's first game, and he came in a respectable second to Ben's runaway win.

Nadine: David complained the whole game about how poorly he was doing, but we didn't believe him because he always complains and always wins. But this time he was happy that losing vindicated him.

Princes of Florence

Yitzchak played David, Saarya, and Ben, and won 64 to 60, 57, and 52. Nothing unusual, except that a glass of water spilled on the game boards and cards.

Puerto Rico

Lots of members play this online, or with their own groups all the time, so they prefer not to play it also at the club. Still, I wanted to teach Ari, a newcomer to the game. Nadine and Adam joined us. Despite my best efforts, Nadine essentially gave up early and helped Ari. Ari flourished, as a result, and he won with 57 points to my 53, with Adam and Nadine trailing.

Nadine: I helped Ari by giving advice, which he did a good job of deciding when to take and when not to. And he essentially had a Tobacco monopoly, I got my Tobacco online much later, and only traded it once, and he got a Tobacco boat early on. I didn't realize that I probably should have produced and tried to trade Indigo instead of Sugar, and gotten a Large Market.

Settlers of Catan x 2

David, Nadine, and Avi played, but they appeared to get bored of it midgame. Still, Nadine won in the end.

Nadine: Sixes were rolled very often, as were sevens. That caused problems for me and David - I had no sixes, David had a lot, but kept losing cards to the sevens, which also cleared soldiers off my tiles. Avi received three times as many cards as we did, and would have won early on if he had listened to David and used his cards differently.

Coby, Akiba, Shachar, and Benjamin played this later in the day, one game that all of them knew how to play.

The Menorah Game

There remains a group of members of my club who prefer the original themed version to the remake It's Alive. So we played an advanced game of one of these. I won with a handy 50 points to Yitzchak's 37, and Saarya's 32.

Winner's Circle

Tal was very much keen to play this, and we taught first-time players Coby, Akiba, and Shachar. All appeared to enjoy the game. Shachar won to Tal's second place.


I played this with Ari when he first came in while we waited for another game to open up. I won.

Zendo x 2

Adam taught this to Jack, Yuka, Michael, and Shachar. They played twice.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

September 19, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Ben, Binyamin

Attendance is down still. Usually it goes up after summer is over. On the other hand, we are in the 10 days of teshuva, so maybe that's why. Hopefully.


Ben, Yitzchak, Jon, Nadine, Biynamin

We started and ended the evening with Bridge games. I played or Binyamin played, depending on the timing.

Leonardo da Vinci

Jon, Nadine, Ben, Binyamin, Yitzchak

Binyamin brought and taught us this game. It seems like a dead-on Eurogame, with classic theme, set collection and area control, resource management, etc.

Like successive series' of paintings, each Eurogame brings the same elements but arranges them slightly differently, each exploring a unique combination of these same elements.

We only played one round before Ben complained that his head wasn't in it, but it seemed interesting enough. Binyamin warned, however, that the game becomes less interesting as it winds on and your choices become more constricted. Prince of Florence also winds on that way without any problems, so we will have to see.

Cosmic Encounter

Binyamin:Chosen/Zombie+, Nadine:Healer/Siren+, Yitzchak:Filth/Warrior, Jon:Wraith/Phantom, Ben:Changeling/Visionary

This was a rollicking good game. I didn't want to play with rotating powers and Binyamin didn't want to play with hidden powers, so we played with two open powers each.

I love the Seeker, but I discarded it in favor of Wraith and Phantom simply because of the strange synergy of these two. Ben's Changeling became the most feared power in the game, and therefore didn't hop around much. At one point I had it and had the opportunity to Changeling with the Filth, which would have destroyed a dozen or so bases, but regretfully decided to take Siren instead which I thought might actually let me win the game.

I Sirened and won a few times, but Ben Cosmic Zapped me twice in a row! and had a third one, too, just in case. Furthermore, when I did gain my fifth base, he took it out with a Wild Void card. And then Nadine Wild Schizoided my hex away from me leaving me one further less base. Sucks to be me.

Binyamin then went on for a potential solo victory against Nadine, but Yitzchak forced them to deal with an Emotion Control, and it ended instead with a joint win by the two of them.

Even with kingmaking and ridiculous luck, this game is just so different and fun every time.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

September 05, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Ben, Gili, David K, Dylan

Summer's about over and we're now back to a core group of people. A reminder: we all owe David money for dinner, as none of us had change.

Mississippi Queen

Yitzchak+, David K, Nadine, Jon, Gili

This game didn't look like much from the rules, and the "basic introductory game" looked like even less. We skipped straight to the full game. We started with three players and added others as they came in with suitable starting positions.

It turned out to be a neat and fun little planning game. I kept reading the rules and noticing things I got wrong. Since the game's rules are so simple, each little correction changed the tactics of the game for that particular turn. But the overall feel of the game itself didn't change.

There was thinking, not too much luck, yet it still moved quickly. By the end, most of us enjoyed it enough that we are willing to play again in the future. It's nice that the game can be shortened or lengthened by adjusting the number of tiles, and that handicaps are easily given.

Lost Valley

Dylan 20, Gili 9, Jon 8

This game continues to amuse me quite well, despite lots of squidgy rules issues, and despite heaps of luck that throw things around. Even with the luck, it's just fun to play. The game plays vastly different each time, and it's complicated. Again, thinking, without too much thinking.

I didn't fare well, as my fellow players turned out to be thieves. In once case, I built a mine and didn't manage to collect a single gold from it when the others swooped in and carted it off. We had a very short waterway as everyone headed away from the river. As a result, this was the first time that I bought a horse.

None of the forest tiles showed up until well after half the tiles were laid, which made collecting both food and wood at the same time relatively difficult. Dylan won having mined a mountain undisturbed relatively earl on.

Power Grid

David 15+, Ben 15-, Yitzchak 12, Nadine 9

They played on the East Coast, which should have made for a shorter game, but it wasn't. Phase three seemed to come early enough, however. Nadine hoarded all the coal and coal plants; nobody else was producing any, and she had three plants using 3 coals each.

As usual, they played with the critical variation of having the four upcoming power plants from the deck face up in a third row.


David, Ben, Yitzchak, Nadine

They tried to play a hand of this while simultaneously playing Power Grid, which didn't work too well. However, they also played with passing three cards, ala Hearts, which they found amusing.

Jon/Nadine, Ben/Yitzchak

After Power Grid, we played 4 more hands.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

August 29, 2007

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak, Nadine, Adam, Gili, Ben

Nadine returns from chu"l. She played games at Yahoo's HQ in California with South Bay Boardgamers (San Juan and Aladdin's Dragons) and met someone who had already ordered It's Alive.

Princes of Florence

Ben 79, Nadine, Yitzchak

Ben won by around ten points over Nadine and Yitzchak, one of whom had one more point than the other, but I forget which one. That's what comes from not writing down the scores.

At one point, someone here expressed a desire to be allowed to move the buildings around after they have been placed, an idea at which Adam scoffed at as unrealistic.

Lost Valley

Gili 37, Jon 29, Adam 19

Again, scores are approximate. This was a rambling and full game, with a long river, a lot of gold mined, and a lot of explored territory. Gili stole from some of the work that Adam did. That should have been to my advantage, but my lack of equipment slowed me down. I had previous experiences of the game ending too quickly and so I didn't want to waste the time in investing. Since the game lasted for some time, my lack of investment hurt.

I eventually went back and got a boat, which is really nice. Gili had a cart, which is about as nice. I think both, plus fishing rod and axe, is probably the best set of tools.

It was pretty obvious that Gili was winning already with the last quarter of the game to go. I think that the biggest negative is picking a single or double gold nugget from an event, which is nigh useless.

We still have some rule issues. Can people drop or sell back equipment, for instance? And the rules for how and where you can lay out territory are still confusing. When you are required to add a water tile is confusing. Can you collect river gold if you are on the wrong side of a river but own a boat? And other issues that keep coming up.

At one point, Gili expressed a desire to be allowed to move mines around after they have been placed, an idea at which Adam scoffed at as unrealistic.

Modern Art

Jon 537, Adam 532, Gili

I think this is my first victory. Unlike other auction games, I think this game is better with three than with four or five, as you have more control and more chances to lay down cards, instead of being at the whim of what everyone else decides.


Jon/Yitzchak, Ben/Nadine

We played a number of hands of this, and I got a lot of 4333 average hands. I also tried playing Bridge together with Modern Art, but that didn't work out too well.


Adam++, Jon

We played on an 11x11 board, and even with handicap stones, it's clear that I am just not good enough to challenge Adam, yet. I need to go back and learn some basics again.

Friday, August 24, 2007

August 23, 2007

Participants: Jon, Gili, Adam, Binyamin, Yitzchak, Saarya

Game night this week was moved to Thursday night since I had to take Rachel to the airport on Wed night.

It's Alive

Jon 48, Adam, Gili, Saarya

Requested by Adam and Gili as an opener while we waited for the other two to arrive. I requested that we play th advanced version, since we played the basic version last time.

Adam got hit by two villagers, but also got two coffins. Gili got one each. I managed to escape unscathed, only seeing a coffin when I needed it to win on my last turn. The other players were not very far advanced when I won, which is kind of unusual.


Yitzchak 94, Jon 78, Adam 68

Not my favorite game, but at least I had to do some planning and thinking this game. I won't play Caylus with more than three players, and only some players at that.

I thought I was doing well, and I would have been much closer if I hadn't lost out on one favor I needed to build my second blue building. It couldn't be helped, as others needed it too, and I had to choose what to invest in. Yitzchak had the most favors this game, and while I didn't think he used them amazingly well, he did so well enough to win handily. His last round was a perfectly planned building strategy of 4 houses in the castle and the largest blue building.

Tigris and Euphrates

Binyamin 6, Gili 5, Saarya 5

I don't know how the game went, but Binyamin insisted that I write down the scores. Gili and Saarya appear to have tied.

Princes of Florence

Binyamin+, Gili, Saarya

One again, Binyamin won by a narrow margin, and Gili and Saarya both tied right behind him.

Cosmic Encounter

Yitzchak+, Adam, Jon, Binyamin

Adam insisted on us each playing three powers. And to add to the confusion, he was the Pentaform and Binyamin was the Reincarnator. Then I went and foolishly played the wild Reincarnator somewhere in the middle of the game, which was dumb, as I had a good position and good powers. Even though I ended up with the Disease as a new power, I never had any bases with enough tokens on them to spread for a victory.

The game was pretty long and drawn out. Other than that, it was fun. We all hovered around 4 bases for a bit of time before Yitzchak won by shear exhaustion of all other cards.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

August 15, 2007

Participants: Jon, Yitzchak, Adam, Gili, Rachel A

Ah, the light heady days of summer, when most people are on vacation.

San Juan

Jon 43, Yitzchak 40

I plunked down a first turn Prefecture, which is fairly deadly in two-player. I followed it up with a Smithy, Silver, and a rare-for-me Tower. I got the three six-point cards and managed to hold on to them and build them by the end of the game.

Yitzchak had Library around building number four or so, so I kept taking Prospector to make his life difficult. Eventually he built Prefecture, Quarry, Smithy, and Carpenter. He built three big buildings, too, and one more building than me, but his Triumphal Arch wasn't as lucrative as my Palace.

Lost Valley

Gili 13, Yitzchak 9, Jon 8, Adam 8

I almost started Industria, but these guys had never played Lost Valley, and I liked the game enough to play it again. Especially since I know that some of the members who didn't come don't like it as much.

Adam went off in one direction where there wasn't much mountain gold, although he eventually mined one mountain hex for three chips. Gili went off and mined her own mountain hex for four chips, which won her the game. Yitzchak followed me around a bit, which slowed both of us down.

Eventually, I mined three chips out of one mountain, giving him the last one. He went off to find river gold.

As Gili was ahead, she explored like crazy. With the last unexplored tile placed, the river was immediately capped. No one had been exploring the river, so it was only four segments long. The game then ended too quickly for me to open up a new mine.

Everyone appears to have enjoyed the game. I'm looking forward to playing again.

"Sawmill" in Hebrew is מנסרה (mansera). "Saw" is מסור (massor). --Adam

It's Alive

Jon+, Adam, Yitzchak

Adam suggested this, and we played the basic game. I massed a lot of money at the beginning of the game. I was also the only one to be hit with Villagers, first a 4 and then a 6. Then a few more to boot, which I ignored.

Despite this, I won the game, which only goes to show you that it's possible. I kept careful count of how little money my opponents had. They never had quite so little that I could abuse them, but still. I also got a little lucky pulling the card I needed after a few rounds at the end, although I had enough money to buy it from anyone's graveyard, too.

Puerto Rico

Jon 60, Yitzchak 57, Rachel 56, Adam 40

Rachel requested this, and may even have done better if her attention hadn't drifted for a few rounds in the middle of the game. We played the standard building set.

Y: Settler/Quarry, Adam takes corn, Rachel tobacco, I take coffee. I end up with a lucrative coffee monopoly during the game. Rachel does almost as well with her tobacco.
A: Builder/Small Market. Rachel builds Small Market.

A:Trader+, after some urging from me. If he does something like Settler and then Rachel takes Craftsman+, I will Trade+. If Rachel takes Trader+ and I Craftsman+, Yitzchak has no good and won't Captain+.

R:Builder+/Small Sugar.
J:Settler+/corn. After this phase, Adam and I have coffee plantations, while Rachel and Yitzchak have tobacco plantations.

J:Builder/Coffee. Yitzchak builds Tobacco.
Y:Mayor. Now, Yitzchak will be trading tobacco, and I'll be trading coffee. Rachel has Sugar and Small Market, while Adam has Indigo and Small Market.
R:Craftsman+. I thought this was rather a bad move, giving Yitzchak Trader++ next turn and a tobacco to trade. As a result of this move, cash was high for the rest of the game.

Y:Trader++/tobacco. Of course. Adam trades indigo, Rachel sugar, I coffee. Trading House empties.

A:Builder+/Factory. While Factory was indeed a scarcer resource than Coffee, this allowed my coffee monopoly to continue for longer. Rachel and Yitzchak both build Harbor. I's at 6 doubloons, so I wait.
J:Trader/coffee. Another full round of trading.
Y:Settler+/corn. Yitzchak wanted to take another quarry, but Rachel and I convinced him that this was the reason he had been losing his last few games so badly. One quarry is more than enough, and he needed more shipping goods, especially with a Harbor (same would apply to Factory). I won the building point game, and I didn't have a single quarry (instead, I had coffee monopoly and Factory).

R:Builder/Tobacco. I built Factory. Yitzchak could not be dissuaded from building Hospice, which didn't help him during the game. Adam built Large Sugar.
J:Mayor+. I was very wary of doing this, because it filled in Yitzchak and Rachel's Harbors, and they already had goods to ship.

Y:Trader+. This time Adam doesn't have an indigo to trade, so one space is left in the Trading House.

Y:Builder+/Guild Hall. He ends up with a full Guild Hall by game's end. Stupid building. Adam and I both build Small Market. After building, I still have 10 doubloons on my board.
R:Captain. Rachel and I begin blocking boats with our trade goods.
J:Prospector+. I'm now looking at buying two big buildings, as I was flush with cash.

R:Settler+, Yitzchak takes a sugar plantation. Rachel has had a sugar monopoly until now.
J:Trader+. I fill in the Trading House with an indigo.
Y:Builder/Small Sugar. I build City Hall.

J:Craftsman+. The 5 boat had 2 coffees in it, and Adam was going to be producing coffee soon. I produced 2 coffees, but elected to not take an additional coffee as my bonus good, even though anything else I would produce wouldn't ship. I preferred leaving the boat still partially full. I took an extra corn, beginning a long buildup of corn on my Small Warehouse.
Y:Captain+. Yitzchak always prefers to Captain when he is afraid he will be locked out, otherwise.
A:Mayor. Nobody has any monopolies anymore.

J:Builder+/Custom's House. Not as much for the points it will give me, but for denying it to Yitzchak or Rachel. Turns out to give be a fair bit, after all. No one else builds.
R:Trader+. I debated not trading my coffee. Adam and Rachel were pretty much sure to get the other two big buildings before I could, anyway. I had two coffee barrels, and I could only ship one. But the other one could be left over to start another coffee ship. I decided that I would be crafting again by then, anyway. Also, I had my eye on a Wharf already at that point, as I was accumulating corn.

A:Builder/Residence. Rachel builds Fortress. I'm one shy for Wharf. I build Construction Hut.
R:Mayor+. All big buildings are manned.
J:Craftsman. I now have 7 corn. I'm totally aware that I won't get to ship them on the next Captain phase, as Adam or Rachel or both will block me. But all three ships are going to empty, and the game isn't yet going to be over, leaving me clear sailing to ship them all on the next Captain phase. My next concerns then were whether to worry about Wharf and manning it, or simply go for sending them on the regular boats. Sending on the regular boats helps cut off Harbor shippers.

A:Captain. I keep my 7 corn.
J:Builder/Wharf. For my City Hall, and just in case I can do it again.

R:Craftsman+. Rachel has since regretted this move, as others cut off boats before she could ship and the game ended due to victory point depletion.
J:Captain. I chose to ship 7 corns on a boat and block it, rather than Mayor and Wharf. This nearly doubles my victory point total for the game. Game end triggered. Adam hands me the game now by shipping his three coffees, allowing me to do the same, instead of shipping one sugar or indigo, which would have given Rachel three more victory points instead. It's true that this is a slight flaw in the game.
Y:Builder. Yitzchak fills in his last production building. I build Hacienda.
A:Prospector. Adam is already ahead in any tie situation.

Y: 26ship + 21build + 10bonus = 57
A: 19ship + 17build + 4bonus = 40
R: 35ship + 15build + 6bonus = 56
J: 26ship + 21build + 13bonus = 60

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

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.


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.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

August 01, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda, Ben, Yitzchak, Rachel A, Gili

A comfortable evening of games. Nadine did some game hopping. Every time a game opened up that she liked more than the one she was playing, I took over for her and she switched to the new game. Binyamin tried to do the same thing without any luck.


Zvi Yehuda+, Binyamin, Jon, Gili

Samurai is a Knizia tile-laying game that I have been avoiding simply because of the little Buddha statue pieces, which irk my religious sensitivities. Binyamin bought the game and solved the problem by taking sandpaper to each of the little round pieces.

You place tiles with numbers and pictures, and whenever a space with a piece is surrounded, the person with the highest valued tiles of the appropriate piece type surrounding the piece takes it. Placing tiles that affect multiple spaces, joker tiles, and two special effects tiles make the game tactical enough.

It's pastoral like Through the Desert, but I think a slightly better game. TtD was nice and simple, but nobody really loved it. T&E is a heavy weight game, of course. Samurai is lightweight, but possibly more interesting.

Unlike these other two games where the scoring was neat and interesting, the scoring here is the one thing I don't like about the game. It is convoluted and arbitrary. One other drawback is the easy possibility of giving things away to your LHO, which makes your RHO feel rather frustrated.

Zvi Yehuda won mostly due to luck. I played senselessly, as it was my first game and was just experimenting with the pieces. I expect I will do pretty well in this game hereafter.

El Grande

Nadine+, Gili, Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda

Nadine took a commanding lead early on, and the other players resigned after the second scoring phase, rather than drag on the game.

Lost Valley

Nadine, Zvi Yehuda, Binyamin

Nadine taught this to Binyamin and Zvi Yehuda. We discovered that we had gotten a number of rules wrong the last time we played, the most major of which would have extended the game a bit longer to good effect.

Since the river ended very quickly, the game ended up being rather short. A shorter game means more luck. Binyamin complained about the luck in the game for the whole game.

Puerto Rico

Rachel 54, Ben 50, Yitzchak 43, Nadine/Jon 42

I took over Nadine's high shipping point but otherwise pathetic position as she switched to El Grande. I wasn't able to make up the money differential and so lost rather decidedly. Rachel swept to another victory with Discretionary Hold and Factory.

Power Grid

Yitzchak 1, Jon 16, Ben 14

In this rather unusual game, I did everything counter-intuitively and ended up losing by a hair. I raced ahead in cities that I couldn't power after the first several rounds.

In a three player game, goods are rather scarce, and coal and oil essentially ran out while garbage and nukes hit the 1 to 3 cost range. Only then did we start switching.

Being ahead in cities, Ben and Yitzchak were somehow convinced that it was within my power to end the game by building too many cities. As a result, they bid fiercely over some high powered plants, trying to convince each other that they should get the plant or I would win. For instance, Ben bought the 30 for 99.

I didn't feel like I was anywhere near winning, but I admit that I got all of my plants, slowly but surely, with almost no fighting.

In the end, Ben and Yitzchak had more capacity in plants. But Ben ran out of money to build cities. Yitzchak had just enough to build to his capacity in cities, plants and fuel. I lost to a single mistake in the last round.

I replaced my 5 triple coal plant with a 7 triple garbage plant, instead of replacing my 4 double garbage plant. The reason that I did this was because I thought that if I left myself with coal/oil requirements, then Ben and Yitzchak could buy out all the fuel before I could get any, which was true. However, I didn't realize that if they did that, they wouldn't have had enough money left over to buy cities.


Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda, Nadine, Jon/Ben

Ben or I (depending on whose turn it was in Power Grid) played with Nadine against Binyamin and Zvi Yehuda for a few hands.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 25, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Adam, Gili, Yitzchak

A relatively quiet evening. Actually, I kind of like it that way.

Lost Valley

Nadine++, Jon, David

This was one of my few recent unplayed purchases, and I was happy to get it to the table.

Lost Valley is a game of discovering terrain, acquiring resources to swap for gold, trading the gold in for better equipment, and getting even more gold. The one with the most gold wins. Like other games of this sort, a person who is ahead has a tendency to stay ahead, but not entirely, as resources become depleted in the area you are working, and your cart becomes fuller giving you less maneuverability.

There are dozens of little things you can buy to enhance your powers, three types of resources needed to do things on the board, random event chips you can pursue, and common buildings you can build that anyone can use. The idea of the latter is to gain more benefit than any other player by building them in an area where you are and others aren't.

We first started by playing out a round or two to get the feel of the game and then restarted. Nadine is somewhat impatient when it comes to new games, and was fairly convinced already that the game had too much luck or didn't make sense. Patience!

We then played a game out. Nadine took an early lead having gone first and acquired the early river gold without much trouble. Unfortunately, she kept hanging around in my area. This is a problem in the game, because you don't want to expend resources building access to treasures only to have someone else then waltz in and take them.

Meanwhile, David was by himself slowly panning for and collecting gold. Only when we managed to convince Nadine that she was better off striking out on her own did she move ahead. She then mined some gold out of the mountains and won fairly easily.

The first several moves were played extremely slowly because the players kept trying to figure out how to do way more than they could in a single turn. They kept reviewing and reviewing what could be done hoping that there was some way to do a lot really quickly.

Eventually we realized that this was not how the game worked. Finally we just did our teeny single action each round, and the turns became very quick.

When the game ended, we were all convinced that somehow Nadine had received a huge advantage from her first turn. And this was complicated by having received twice as much from her random gold chips as we did.

These face down treasure chips are a favorite among designers, but, while they advance the theme, they don't really advance the game play. I prefer the Through the Desert idea where the chips are placed randomly but are placed face up.

In addition, the random discovery aspect works fine so long as it always provides at least something to do, like when you draw tiles in Tigris and Euphrates. In games like this, however, if you draw tile after tile of the same thing that is useless to you, you can't get much out of it (which is what happened to Nadine in the second game).

You could just play the game the way it was designed and write up the results to the story of the game, which is fine for some people. Our little group likes better play and planning to be more obviously rewarded, however, so we try to mitigate these types of random events.

One way would be to always assign the gold chips in a certain order to newly discovered lands (e.g. a single gold for the first two chips, and then 2 golds for any additional chips on a land). And/or have players decided which type of terrain or terrain type they will be discovering next.

In our second game, we didn't do anything that radical. Instead, we looked at the startup of the game and decided that the initial discovery of a few gold while everyone else remains poor is too much of a swing in luck. To mitigate this, we gave each player two gold to start with.

The result of this is that each player could start the game by buying something which will color the strategy he will be taking (a sieve or a fishing rod, for example), or set out hoping to be the first to gain the easier gold.

Our second game was much tighter and more balanced than the first. Nadine had some bad luck with her tile draws, and the river closed into a loop quickly, which made the game end by ice flow. David bought a sieve initially, but then failed to use it properly. We thought that maybe the events were very powerful, so he found and used four of them. While the events are good, the time and material he lost in pursuing them ended up not being worth his while.

Bottom Line: I think it's a really good game. After two games, we still have many many avenues of strategies and tactics yet to explore, and the changing nature of the game is always enjoyable. While the rules are not always thematically sensible (a cart can carry extra stuff but a horse can't?) most of them add to the game play.

There are a number of rules issues not covered entirely well. I had to make up some of the rules as we went. I'll look online to see if our questions have already been covered by others.

It was fun, and we were all willing to try it again, even Nadine.


Yitzchak 121, Adam 111, Gili 92

This game took four and a quarter hours and I'm glad I wasn't involved in it.

We build six prestige buildings among us. I build three, Yitz built two, and Gili built one. --Adam

Power Grid

David 17, Jon 16+, Nadine 16-

We always play the game with the top four plants arriving from the stack face up. This eliminates the biggest element of luck from the game, which is one person getting a better plant while others have no idea if another large one is coming or not.

Even so, David managed a coup in acquiring the best plants. Nadine's situation looked hopeless - her income was generally only two cities for most of the game, and she powered none - while I would have been fine except for my production capacity.

We were ready to throw in the towel early, but we decided to play it out. Somehow, even though David still won fairly handily, Nadine and I both made a good comeback before it ended. I ended up beating Nadine by a single dollar.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

July 18, 2007

Participants: Jon, Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda, Tal, David K, Ben, Nadine, Adam, Dylan

I'm doing this without notes again, for some reason.

Shadows Over Camelot

Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda, David K, Ben, Nadine

They took this out to start the evening, which is a good choice as people can join as they come. I'm not thrilled about the game, so I sat out until some stragglers showed up. I believe that the Loyalists won. I don't know who was the Traitor.

Order of the Stick

Jon, Adam, Dylan

Even though this is quite the American style game, I thought I would give it a go seeing as it's such a funny comic. It was certainly enjoyable dealing with the theme: the cards, the notes, and so on. I playacted Elan, too. Fun.

As a game, it's really a typical American game, a little like Munchkin. You add your bonuses and have to roll above the monster's strength, picking up loot and gaining abilities as you go. Not at all bad, and I would play it again, but the theme is really critical to my enjoying it.

Dylan had to go before we could finish. We were about halfway through.

Shear Panic

Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda

Nadine showed them how to play it. They used all of their best cards early on, so that, in the last phase, all of their cards were totally useless. Which annoyed them.

Either they have to reserve their cards better, or there is something a bit clunky about the game.


Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Nadine, Ben

They played a few hands as a filler.


Adam+, Jon

I'm still pretty low ranking in Go, even though I love the game. Adam gave me the first move to even it out.

I didn't play all that badly. I threw away some territory in favor of solidifying an area I was nervous about. Adam connected territory across the middle of the board and had an entire side. The result was something like 35 to 14.

It's Alive

Adam 51, Jon 35, Tal 31

I suggested this, and Adam was willing. Tal was too. Adam preferred the basic game, but we coerced him into playing the advanced game.

Tal and I were both hit with Villagers and Adam won, so maybe there is some truth to the luck bit. Still, I mismanaged my money early on, so Adam's win was as much his good play as that.

Power Grid

David 15, Ben 13, Nadine 11

We're now playing with the house standard variant that the top four cards of the upcoming stack are visible. It actually shortens the calculation time, because you no longer have to guess what may or may not be coming. And the game is much better as a result.

David took a runaway win here, apparently.


Jon, Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda, Adam

This was the first play for Adam and me. This game is big with way too many components. Other than that, it's a fairly standard Eurogame with auctions, trading, and set collection.

It is supposed to be played for 5 rounds, but we only had time for 2. I would play again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 11, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Ben, Binyamin, Adam, Gili, Ofek, Dylan, Yitzchak

Game night was back in my house after being hosted by Nadine for several weeks. Thanks Nadine!

Atlantic Star

Binyamin 55, Yitzchak 48, Ben 39, Jon 36

Among several new games that I have, this was the one I wanted to try most. We almost had a five player game, but Nadine didn't like the look of it so she bowed out.

Ben hated the game, when the specific routes he wanted early on didn't pan out. After that he was sour for the remainder of the game. Yitzchak and Nadine were basically agreeing with his assessment that it was almost entirely a luck based game. E.g. the way that I feel about Alhambra.

Binyamin was also not thrilled with it. I was the only one who loved it. And as you can see, I came in last.

I'm also the only one who thinks that there is far less luck than everyone else was complaining about, and that you have to play what you're given rather than try to ope you get a rigid set of cards in a particular order. Sure, sometimes you'll win that way, and sometimes you'll lose badly that way. But that's the wrong way to approach the game.

So I had a good time.

Settlers of Catan

Ofek 10, Gili 9, Nadine 9, Adam 9

This was a long game, and as you can see, ended very closely.

Shear Panic

Ofek, Gili, Adam, Nadine

They started this game, but Adam quickly began to hate it (I'm not sure why, as it's very much like Go). However, they had to end early, either through having played initially incorrectly or simply because Gili and Ofek were tired. Nadine said that she liked it, because most of the information was out in the open.

Cosmic Encounter

Ben+, Yitzchak+, Jon, Binyamin, Dylan

We bandied about a few choices and settled on this (sorry, Elijah). Ben has a history of winning this, even with poor hands, and this time he got a good hand to start with. I think I got his hand by mistake.

He went for a solo victory against Yitzchak, who played Emotion Control, whereupon they swapped base for a base for victory.

I was Wraith and Prophet, which don't work together in one respect, and work together in another. However, I never really got to play my Prophet power.

Binaymin was Reincarnator and something, and he ended up as Grudge at one point which was annoying.

Ben was Witch and Mesmer. The former he used fairly effectively, sometimes simply as a threat against attacking him.

I forget the other powers.


Ben, Binyamin, Yitzchak, Nadine

They played several hand of this to wrap up the evening.

Queries and Theories

Jon, Dylan, Adam

We tried a game of this, but it isn't quite as interesting as Zendo when played by the straight rules. At some point, there are simply N possibilities of what the rule could be, and you have to try them all by trial and error. In order to make the game quicker and more fun, I allowed a yes or no question to be asked before each player's turn.


Nadine/Dylan, Adam/Jon+

Nadine and Adam left an unfinished game. When I picked it up to play against Dylan, I was up a queen against a knight and bishop. Even with this, it was difficult for me to pull off a victory; eventually, I played the easy strategy of swapping pieces hoping for a better material advantage in the end. It felt like cheating, and it was still rather close.

I only won by getting my last pawn to turn into a queen after everything else was gone (and two other queens has bit the dust).

July 4, 2007

I wasn't here, but I hear that Adam has the scores. Nadine writes:

We played Tower of Babel for the first time - Adam, Nadine, Binyamin, Ben, Joel. Binyamin won by a mile, Adam was second, and both of them had played before.

Then we played Princes of Florence - Binyamin, Adam, Ben, Elijah, Nadine. I was last, all luck....

Friday, June 29, 2007

Session report 2007-06-27

Participants: Ben, Yitzhak, Nadine, Adam

At Nadine's house again. Relatively few participants, apparently because of the hot weather, although Nadine was nice enough to put on the air-conditioning.

San Juan

Ben 31, Yitzhak 20, Nadine 20

This game is very similar to Chutes and Ladders. Apparently Ben had the advantage of hitting a lot of ladders, which let him move up very quickly, leaving everyone else behind. Yitz and Nadine ended up tied despite getting very different die rolls. Yitz got hit with a number of chutes which slowed his progress, whereas Nadine didn't roll well, but got a few ladders which kept her not too far behind.

Power Grid

Ben 18/18, Yitzhak 16/16, Nadine 15/18, Adam 12/17

I am starting to get the impression that this game turns out to be very similar to Chutes and Ladders. I was in a fairly good position throughout most of the game, but just as we were getting to the I hit a long chute and went way back. Nadine was also a bit further behind for most of the game. So in the end it turned out to be some luck as to who between Ben and Yitz won.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Session Report 2007-06-20

Participants: Nadine, Gilad, Ben, David K, Binyamin, Yitzchak, Adam

Game night was held at Nadine's house again. Jon is on vacation, leaving me (Adam) to wreak havoc upon the session reports. Gilad has been around a few times before, I think. If I'm not mistaken, he is a gaming tycoon and owns a sprawling, multi-billion dollar gaming empire.


Nadine 84, Gilad 78, Binyamin 3i - 2

I did not play this game or pay much attention, but from what I could see and from what Nadine told me, it's a lot like Go. No luck at all and a lot of deep strategic thought. That's explains why Nadine won, because she's good at that kind of game.


David 92, Ben 72, Adam 53, Yitzhak 46

We played this game instead of Power Grid because we couldn't agree on a ruleset for the latter. Some players seem to be enamoured with de-Candyland-ifying Power Grid, for some odd reason. Pure Evil.

Anyway, Caylus gives a very strong impression of being very similar to Go. It's true that there's a bit of luck in the starting position, which makes it a bit different from Go, but after that the gameplay is very similar. David started out with some good shimaris and was able to extend and consolate them in a way that got him both influence and territory, and eventually a commanding lead. He also played the yose very well, while I screwed up on that. By the end of the game David had a lot of good aji, and Ben was not in a terrible position, whereas Yitz and I were in fairly bad straits. I was able to make sabaki a bit near the end of the game, but wasn't able to capitalize on it as much as I had hoped.

I also kind of blocked Yitz in the endgame, accidentally, not even thinking specifically about his position, and in the end wasn't even able to use it. He retaliated by blocking me in a different way.


Binyamin, Nadine, Yitz, Ben

They played this for a while and were still playing when I left. Seems a lot like Go.


David+, Adam

A classic. Very similar to Go in game play, but a bit shallow. David said that after playing so many Eurogames he doesn't like Chess so much any more.

The position was fairly even throughout most of the game. David started out with mane-go (mirroring) in the beginning, but switched from that before I could punish him. There was some give-and-take throughout most of the game, with both of us building some territory and some influence, and it was quite close (though I think I had a slight lead) until I badly misread a simple life and death problem, which put me behind for good. I resigned soon after that (as David was hurrying to leave anyway).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 13, 2007

Participants: Nadine, Jon, Ben, David K, Dylan, Elijah, Binyamin, Rivka, Yitzchak, Adam, Gili

Game night was held at Nadine's house, as it will be for the next three or four weeks. Jon is going on vacation.


Ben 16, Dylan 12, Binyamin, Adam, Rivka

This is an updated version of Knizia's Flinke Pinke. Quick and painless, apparently. This version also included some action cards, to make things a little spicier.


Rivka+, Elijah, Adam, Binyamin, Yitzchak,

I probably spelled the name of this game wrong. This is a simple set collecting game with a very elegant movement mechanic. It looked interesting.

El Grande

David 110, Ben 100, Nadine 96, Dylan 89, Jon 88

This is one of my favorite games, especially with five. I decided to start the game off by playing my power cards randomly to see if it really made a difference. This lasted only three rounds. In the fourth round, there was a card that I really needed to take (to gain 15 points), so I chose to play my 13. From then on I played as usual.

You might think that my low score is from this experiment, but it's not. It's because in round 6, every single placement from the castillo destroyed my positions, despite the fact that David and Ben were doing better than I was.


I did my best to limp into the finish line. I still enjoyed the game, because I love taking the intrigue cards.

David, Ben, and Dylan had better positions, and David whomped on the last turn with a huge castle victory.


Jon++, Gili

Gili showed up in the middle of two larger games and didn't get to play anything but this. I feel a little bad about that. I rolled a number of doubles at the takeoff phases to win both games.

After this, she played Settlers/Cities/Seafarers online a little, and then went home.

Taj Mahal

Elijah (44), Yitzchak (42), Adam (33), Rivka (30), Binyamin (21)

Binyamin was not supposed to be free, as he was scheduled to play an online Bridge game tournament, but his opponents didn't show up. Yitzchak warned everyone that Elijah was not only bad at the game but always took someone down with him.

So it is an appropriate burn that Elijah ended up winning the game.

Elijah played relatively rationally. This was the first time I've played with Elijah, and his play was not as advertized. --Adam


Adam (103), Binyamin (93), Rivka (76), Nadine/Eliyahu (74), Yitzchak (53)

I haven't played this and didn't see what happened.

A very nice, fairly simple bidding game. Bidding is essentially the whole mechanic, along with some details about what counts for what. Quite similar to Modern Art, except with less diverse bidding and more details of how things score. I liked it quite a lot, though I think that I there's still a place for Modern Art when you want something that is even more single-mindedly just bidding. --Adam


Ben, Nadine, David, Dylan

I had to leave before this game.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

June 06, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Adam, Zack, Elijah, Binyamin, Gili, Yitzchak

Today we say goodbye to Zack whose family is moving back to the States. Best of luck! Zack may be back for one more session this summer.

Welcome back to Yitzchak after a long absence. I let Yitzchak know about the new club in Beit Shemesh, which should be much easier for him to get to.

Crossword Dominoes

Jon, Nadine, Gili, Zack, Adam

This game consists of fifty dominoes with letters on either side, generally a consonant and a vowel, but sometimes an important consonant combination, such as TH or WH. The object of the game is to place your tiles on the board so that only words are formed.

We didn't play this so much as play around with it. Our general impression was that turns are going to be way longer than in Scrabble. Furthermore, it is both easier to make small words, and more luck dependent.

We envisioned that simply trying to find a way to arrange all your tiles is more fun than the alleged actual game.

Settlers of Catan

Adam 10, Jon 8, Nadine 7, Gili 6

Although it looked like Adam had a very early lead, and Nadine had a very poor start, we eventually ended up at 8-8-8-7. Then Adam took back the Longest Road that Gili had taken from him and won the game. Gili could have prevented this by building another road rather than a settlement, as Adam could not extend his road any further than was necessary to win.


Binyamin+, Zack, Yitzchak

I don't know the final scores, but Binyamin won by a single point, while this was Yitzchak's first game. Binyamin did a number of things specifically to annoy Zack during the game, and he returned in kind.


Jon, Nadine, Binyamin, Adam, Zack

They decided to play some bridge hands during the previous two games when things were bogging down. Unfortunately, they kept going even when things weren't bogging down. Furthermore, I am one of the few who can really do two games at once, Binyamin and Adam weren't doing as good a job, IMHO.

It was all too chaotic for me, so I bowed out.


Adam+, Elijah

Adam played this at the same time as Bridge. He gave Elijah a 3 stone handicap on a 9x9 board and still won.

Tic Tac Toe

Adam, Elijah / Adam, Zack

Don't ask. Adam actually lost a game to Zack when he wasn't paying attention.


Jon+, Elijah

I dragged Elijah away from the Chaos to teach him this. He wasn't in a thinking mood, however, and wasn't really trying. As a result, I crushed him without too much difficulty. I hope he tries harder next time. It's a nice game.


Jon/Elijah, Adam/Zack

I don't know what the scores were, but Adam bid Grand Tichu twice, and he made it both times I believe.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 54, Jon 47, Binyamin 46

These guys decided to play only with strange buildings. As a result, we were all in uncharted waters, even if I knew the buildings better than they did.

I did some nice coffee trading, and built three large buildings, but got truly shut out of shipping. And one of my large buildings was only worth 5 points (total).

Nadine managed to outbuild me and majorly outship me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

May 30, 2007

Participants: Jon, David, Nadine, Elijah, Zack, Jack, Binyamin, Gili, Adam, Tal

Game night was interrupted for a half hour by a visit from Kindershpiel's representative, delivering a few boxes of different versions of Apples to Apples to me, to assist me in my work in creating Hebrew versions of the game.

Jack came about half a year ago, so this was his second visit. He knows some games already, so was prepared to enter into anything we could throw at him.

For Sale

Zack 85, Tal 84, Elijah

These three began with a light game, while the rest of us started something a little heavier.

Power Grid

David 16, Binyamin 14, Nadine 13, Jack 12+, Jon 12-

I suggested Princes of Florence, but somehow this ended up on the table, yet again. The only problem I have with it is that a) Nadine and David tend to take a long time to think through their moves (and end up playing better because of it), and b) too much cooperation going on, with everyone figuring out the best moves for everyone else.

As a result of a), Binyamin and I played a side game of Netrunner while this game was going on, whenever it dragged down. Amazingly enough, aside from a few points at the beginning of the game, it didn't drag down too much, even though it certainly took a long time to play (around 3 hours, not including a small break we took in the middle).

Note that we also played with a special rule change: A third row of power plants was added atop of the other two. This row merely revealed the next 4 plants coming up in the deck (no reordering or taking the highest or lowest from this row, surely a stack). As a result, the main other complaint we had about the game, which was the luck of a good power plant coming out, or a bad one coming out, after you made the best play, was entirely eliminated from the game. In my opinion, the change was an excellent one, and I intend to play with it from now on.

In our game, we played on the U.S. map with the Southwest blocked off. I had never tried starting on the expensive Northwest but decided to give it a go. It is, without question, the reason that I lost. I was expecting fighting in the East coast to offset the slightly higher prices I was paying on the West, but there wasn't any real fighting on the East. As a result, I was simply paying more and getting less each round, and that was all there was to it. In the end, I had a line of plants stretching from coast to coast, but this was not a pick up and deliver game.

David and Binyamin took the East coast, with Jack and Nadine in the center. Jack ended up going all green, while I had some early nukes. Coal and oil were therefore incredibly low priced for the entire game, as was most of the fuel.

Children of Fire: the Board Game

Zack 11, Gili 9, Elijah 6, Adam 5

Adam taught them all this game (reminded Elijah, actually), but somehow lost anyway. They finished it in reasonable time, so I guess didn't need the round limit that I generally impose on the game.


Binyamin+, Jon

This is a game whose main luck component is hidden cards and picking from them blindly. What this means, is that the shorter the game, the more luck and therefore the less interesting.

Our game, in contrast, was a long slow buildup, which made the game lots and lots of fun, very interesting and pleasurable. I still wish the game had a few more "Instant" like cards and direct targeting cards; I may need to buy a few more packs of cards.

I played the Corp and Binyamin the Runner. He played no hardware the entire game. However, he had a card that let him take the top card of his discard pile and a card that let him look through his deck and choose any card, As a result, he spent two actions almost every round simply picking any card he wanted from the deck.

I had a good deal of ICE out, but ultimately he found a way to my HQ through my Archives and pulled the last Agenda out of my hand.

San Juan

David, Nadine, Jack

While Kindershpiel was talking to me (and Binyamin), these guys played some San Juan, abandoning it mid-game when we resumed Power Grid.


Adam/Tal 1000+, Elijah/Zack 500

While we wrapped up Power Grid, these guys played an entire game of Tichu to 1000 points. At least once, a nine card straight from Adam was beat by a higher nine card straight from Zack.

Quite an interesting game, though playing to 1000 takes quite a long time, relatively. There were many tichus and grand tichus called and made and lost. On the first turn, Tal made a fairly silly pass to the opponents. But after that she played well. --Adam

Lo Ra

Nadine 37, Jack 35, David 27

Jack is an experienced Ra player, so it didn't take him long to adjust to Nadine's Jewish themed version of the game. He had quite a collection of monuments, so I'm surprised to see that he didn't win in the end. It's mainly due to his first round score of -5 to Nadine's 9.

Blog Archive