Thursday, February 28, 2008

February 27, 2008

Participants: Nadine, Gili, Binyamin, David

[Note this is the second of two weeks that I (Jon) am away. The report was done by Nadine.]


Nadine 21, Binyamin 10, Gili 1

Binyamin joined after we had played a few rounds. I had more luck than I thought the game has. [Gili 1? She must have been thrilled.]

David & Goliath

Gili 39, Nadine 32, Binyamin 27

Binyamin knew I had this and wanted to try it, another Secret Santa gift, from last year. We usually don't play with real cards. It's hard to get used to how it works, and feels hard to control.

[I've played this a number of times and haven't decided what the basic strategies are, other than simple tactics.]

Power Grid

Tie 17/17 all (final money: David 84, Binyamin 26, Gili 13, Nadine 0)

[The game was played on the] U.S. Board [using the] New [power plant] cards.

A fun game with lots of planning and recalculating buys in advance. A few lucky auctions despite the 4 card preview. The new cards are different, David says less interesting because they're more similar to each other. So to some extent fewer competitive auctions. Binyamin was trying to buy to 18 on the last round because he could fuel it, but couldn't buy the fuel and cities.


David, Nadine, Binyamin

[They played three-player for a while after Gili left.]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

February 20, 2008

Participants: Daniel, Cigal, Yitzhak, Gili, Binyamin, David, Nadine

[Nadine wrote this report, as Jon is in Canada. Game night was at Nadine's. Cigal is the same Sigal from previous weeks, but Nadine's spelling of the name; I don't know which is right. -J]

A visitor who is going back to the states next week after 6 mo. in Israel came -
Daniel, a grad student in Astronomy at the Univ. of Texas, Austin.


Daniel 10, Yitzhak 5, Nadine 4 Gili 1, Cigal -1

[This is a filler game that Nadine received from her Secret Santa. It's quick and light, and pretty decent. -J]

Started with Daniel, then started over with Cigal and Gili, then added Yitzhak after a few rounds.

Notre Dame

Gili 61, Yitzhak 49, Cigal 31

[No info provided. -J]

Nadine 71, David 62, Binyamin 37

Binyamin pointed out that the carriage markers are face up, which changes things. [I must look this up in the rules. -J] I accidentally took two blues so gave up the extra two points at the end, it's unlikely it would have had any other effect but it's bad not to notice. I was in Notre Dame on my own in the last round because they got the card early and weren't ready for it. David lost a lot to rats, Binyamin also.

David 61, Nadine 57, Binyamin 55

A much closer game. Fewer rats, a lot of people in Notre Dame. David got almost all the carriage markers.

Tower of Babel

Binyamin with David 85, Daniel 75, Nadine 64

[No info provided. -J]

Puerto Rico

Yitzhak 48, Cigal 42, Daniel 36, Gili 33

Daniel had played San Juan but not Puerto Rico. Cigal's played neither, she said Yitzhak helped her. Three replacements: Storehouse, Trading Post and Small Wharf, from the new set from my Secret Santa. One of my Factories seems to be missing, and a Coffee.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 13, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, David, Yitzchak, Sigal

I'm still not sure I have Sigal's name correct.

Mr Jack

Jon (Detective)+, Nadine (Criminal)

I thought this would make an opener while we waited for others to arrive, but it takes a lot longer than I remembered. As a result, we started a few rounds and then picked it up later again at the end of the evening. Tearing Nadine away from the game is hard work.

I eliminated 1, 2, 1, 1, 2 characters on the first through fifth rounds. Stepping on Jack at the end was trivial.

Notre Dame

Yitzchak 67, Nadine 58, Gili 57, Sigal 38

We set this up for four and I explained the game to David. Yitzchak and Sigal showed up in the middle, so David and I abandoned the game to play Magic. All during Magic, however, though we were having a good time, he looked appraisingly at the game and said that it looks good.

Our games of Notre Dame have all been either runaway marginal victories - the leader going in to round seven essentially maintains his lead without too much trouble - or stunning upsets - someone suddenly pulls ahead 15 or 20 points to take over. These are growth spurts. As we learn to play better and find what works and what doesn't, and share this information, we will begin seeing closer games, I believe.

David 65, Nadine 58, Jon 48

This was an example of the first type of game. David managed to pull off an uncontested victory in Notre Dame in round 6, where neither Nadine nor I could use the cards and so had to pass them in round 4. The resulting 14 point jump was unassailable by either of us during the remaining rounds.

I put a few cubes into the VP track in round 1, prompting Nadine to say for the next few rounds how much of a threat I now was for the rest of the game and how no one should pass me any VP track cards for the rest of the game. It was already obvious I was losing by round 6, however.

Magic: the Gathering

David++, Jon+

This is always enjoyable, even when I lose badly. I didn't lose badly this time. We still have too many games thrown by mana curves, but that just makes it all the more challenging. We've tried a few of the alternatives and we're not really happy with them.

We're still working through the common cards I bought fro my last trip to Toronto, which means all the cards are new to both of us. As usual, we Rochester drafted out of 90 cards for decks, which is half the fun.

I put together a green and white deck with a splash of red and a number of equipment. I put in only three Mountains to support the red. In the first game, I got all the Mountains in the first ten cards, and no Forests during the game. In the second game I got all the Mountains in my first ten cards, and one Forest a few cards later. And in the third game I got two of the Mountains in my first ten cards, but a balance of Forests after that.

I won the first game with a white card that lets me toss useless cards to put two white 1/1 tokens into play. I had lots of useless green cards to toss. The second game, David pretty much flew over me. In the third game, I should have won, but I wasn't paying attention to his lack of mana and didn't attack with everything for fear of reprisal. He was down to 2. I pulled a direct damage that took him down to 1, naturally not drawing the other one which would have taken him down to 0.

I'm on vacation for the next two weeks, so game nights will be at Nadine's.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Febuary 06, 2007

Participants: Nadine, Gili, Yitzchak, Dylan, Jon

Nadine hosted in my house until I returned from an appointment.

Odin's Ravens

Gili 5, Nadine 2

Huh. I didn't think anyone else liked this enough to pull it out voluntarily. On the other hand, no one ever seems to bother trying to complete an entire game (to 12 points).

Notre Dame

Yitzchak 62 Nadine 60 Gili 50

A new group favorite. Apparently there was some sort of upset. Nadine was winning but didn't earn any points in the last round. Yitzchak came from behind to victory.

Atlantic Star

Jon 50, Dylan 45, Yitzchak 39, Nadine 37, Gili 28

They all had a hard time deciding what to play next, so I forced this on them. This is a game which we've only played once. I liked it, but the other players, including Yitzchak, Dylan, and Ben, complained that there was too much luck. I thought they were highly exaggerating at the time and the game deserved another go.

It took a few minutes to remember the rules. Once again, I highly enjoyed the game. The two Queen games I've played (this and Alhambra) seem to have little in the way of plannable tactics, as the board generally completely resets by the time it's your turn again. Which is a negative.

On the other hand, in this game you definitely have long term planning options, which mitigates the lack of strategy quite well. Yeah, there's luck, but it doesn't have the effect of ruining the game; a better player will generally have better chances, at least. (This is not true for Alhambra, which is why I didn't like it.)

I think Yitzchak felt a bit better about the game this time, but still not enthusiastic. Nadine also did her share of complaining, although she tends to complain about every game that isn't Puerto Rico lately :-) . Dylan seemed to enjoy it.

Dungeon Twister

Jon 5, Dylan 2

The others went, and I thought Dylan would be the perfect one on which to try out this game. Neither of us had played it.

It's an action point race game with a rich fantasy RPG theme. You've got eight characters to move out your opponent's side of a maze-like board. Various useful items are sprinkled around. Each character can only carry one at a time. The maze is made of passages, walls, pits, and doors, the latter three of which can be passed only by some people or using some items.

And topping it off, the maze is divided into eight sections, each of which can be rotated a quarter turn at a time by someone sitting on the rotation gear which can be found in each section. That makes traversal of the playing field, and avoidance of barriers within, uniquely interesting, as everything and everyone on the dungeon rotates along with the section.

I've heard this game called "Chess like" which is completely untrue. There's blind luck when you have combats, for one thing. For another, it just doesn't feel like chess. It feels like a dungeon crawl, not like an abstract.

The game asks you to choose secretly your starting positions, but we played by randomly placing all the pieces. It was a tense and close game for all that. I suspect that the random placement is probably the best, but I'll have to read up on the strategies of opening placement to see.

It's quite good. I won, but I suspect that I'm not very good at the game and will probably lose most of the time to certain players.

I started with an early lead, but discovered that taking my best characters off the board early can make it quite difficult for the remaining characters. One negative of the game is that each piece moves independently. That makes movement as a party rather difficult and it loses something for that.

Another thing I didn't fully like was that wounded characters were essentially dead. It would help a lot if they could at least still move.

Dylan came up from behind with a strategic lineup across the board which made it look like my remaining two characters who had any chance to escape were likely doomed. But then he undervalued a combat with his strongest player against mine. I ended up killing him (worth a point) and escaping with that player (worth another point) to win the game (at five points).

As I said, it's a very good mind-bender of a game which I'll happily play again.