Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 14, 2007

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

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


Adam 148, Shevi 147, Elijah 115, Eyal 97

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

Wild Life

Zack 98, Jon 93, David 89, Nadine 85

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

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

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

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

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

Nadine adds:

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


Jon+, Binyamin

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


Gili+, Binyamin

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

Settlers of Catan

Shevi+, Eyal, Gili

I didn't see this one.

Tigris and Euphrates

Binyamin 9, Adam 6, Elijah 4

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

Cosmic Encounter

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

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


David (Runner)+, Jon (Corp)

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

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

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

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

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

Puerto Rico

Eyal 53, Rachel 48+, Nadine 48-

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

Nadine adds:

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


Adam said...

Four-player Intrigue generally ends up with two two-player alliances, so we ended up with Shevi and me on one side and Elijah and Eyal on the other. Shevi made it very clear that she was absolutely not willing to break any alliance, and I counted on that, and that's why I ended up in the position anyway of her being able to beat me on the last turn by breaking a deal. On the other hand, if she had been more ruthless, I might not have let myself stay in that position. The game is better with five players so that the fifth can break up the 2 vs. 2 dynamic.

Yehuda said...

David (Netrunner): I'm not sure that the luck of the draw is as significant in Netrunner. Netrunner has no equivalent of a "fireball".

Truly, just about any icebreaker of the right type is all that is required. After that, it's more a matter of resource management.


Seth said...

In the session report, you noted that there was some disillusionment with the luck in Netrunner, especially in regards to runs on HQ and R&D. So, I figured that I'd note some things.

First, do be sure to put ice on R&D and HQ. Honestly, I ice the Archives on a regular basis. Keep the Runner out of those places! Remember that, even if the Runner doesn't pull an agenda, he still gets to see what's coming into your hand.

Second, remember the bluff. If HQ is getting too full of agendas, install one into a datafort, even if you don't have good ice on it. If nothing else, you get an excuse to rez some ice. I tend to set up for this trick over time by using the various booby-trap nodes. Eventually, the Runner gets gun shy about accessing an unprotected datafort.

And there actually is a Netrunner equivalent of the fireball. Trojan Horse combined with Urban Renewal. Trojan Horse gives the Runner a tag if he stole an agenda last turn. Urban Renewal delivers 5 meat damage to the Runner, if the Runner is tagged. I really like this combo. (There's also I've Got A Rock, which delivers 12 meat damage but takes two tags and is a less common card.)