Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April 29, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Dylan, Genia, Gili, David K

Game night was moved to Tuesday owing to Holocaust Remembrance day being Wed night / Thursday.

Solomon's Stones

Nadine+, Jon

Jon, David

Solomon's Stones is a game sent to me by a new publisher Solbenk. It has simple rules: each person takes one or more stones from any single column or row. The last person to take a stone loses.

For a full review, see my blog.

None of us really wanted to play this simple and elegant abstract game, as it was far more interesting to sit down and consider the game as a kind of puzzle. Working our way up from the most simple positions, we tried to determine how the game could be solved.

I was convinced that it would not be too difficult to solve. David considered that it might be more challenging to solve than it seems, and may even be NP complete. I will do a deeper analysis on some other night.


Dylan, Genia

Jon+, Dylan

Jon+, David

Saikoro is the second game sent to us by Solbenk. For a full review, see my blog.

In short, the game is a really good game, much better than I expected. I expected it to be depressingly simple or repetitive. But, in fact, the game provides an interesting set of patterns, a tight game play, and a story arc as the board changes and mobility becomes difficult.

We were still learning the patterns in my first games. David probably only lost to me because I didn't fully explain all the rules before we started playing.

I expect that the game will come out again many times as a quick and interesting filler game for two people.

Notre Dame

Jon 73, Gili 67, Nadine 58, Dylan 47, Genia 44

This was Genia's first game, and she was interrupted by a few phone calls during the game. She believe that she may have lost a few points she was supposed to get from her Park, though everyone else at the table claims to have given her the correct amount.

I played a very even game at the beginning, nearly completely ignoring victory points in favor of cubes, gold, Park and Hospital, with one cube in Notre Dame as an exception. As a result, I had only 5 VPs at the end of the first triad, while others had 15 or more. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to win.

Eventually, I took the favor that let me move three cubes over to the Park, allowing me to net +2 VP for each VP gain. As a result of this, moving my carriage, and a few other favors, I made a bunch of 10 point gains which put me tied for first place with Gili who was doing the VP track.

On the last round, Gili and I tied for points, but I had a cube in Notre Dame and she got hit with rats. The rats took Gili down a number of times during the game.

I can't remember what everyone else was doing, but most people had a few cubes in Hospital and 2 in Park. I think this was my first victory.

Power Grid - Central Europe

Nadine 16, Jon 14, Gili 14, David 10*

In the last third of the game, we were all convinced that David was going to win this, hands down. In fact, it didn't look like anyone else had a chance. David could power 13 while the rest of us could only power 9, and he had the money and cities, too.

However, in phase 2, he was stymied from building to 17 cities by the simple fact that every single city already had two plants in it. And on the last round, Nadine acquired a plant that allowed her to run out the fuel from under him. It's amazing how often the game turns on what happens on the last round (and therefore, the penultimate round as well).

We played on the Central Europe board for the first time. Nadine found the nuclear building provinces silly; I rather liked them, although I wasn't affected by them. In fact, I rather liked the board altogether.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Games Day: April 24, 2008

Participants: Jon, Saarya, Nadine, Adam, Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda, David Klein, Avi Klein, Yarom, Maayan, Maya, Yardena, Yedidya, Yitzchak, Jonathan, Roie, Omri, Rachel A, Yosef, Dylan, Ben, Gili, Dvir, Shimon, Ari, David B, Pini, Yosef B, Richard, Vera, Raphaela

I'm Jon and Saarya is my son. Nadine, Adam, and Binyamin are group regulars. T"S and Z"Y are Binyamin's kids. David is a group regular. Avi is David's kid. Yaron has been playing games in other parts of Israel for many years, but rarely gets out to my group. Maayan and Maya were his guests. Yedidya and Yitzchak are Yardena's kids. Jonathan is a new group regular. Roie and Omri saw the ad on Tapuz. Rachel A is my wife. Yosef saw the ad on Janglo or my blog, I think. Dylan is a group regular, Ben is my brother and a group regular, Gili is a group regular. Dvir, Shimon, and Ari saw the ad on Tapuz. David B is my other brother and Pini and Yosef B are his kids. Richard, Vera saw the ad on Janglo, and Raphaela is their daughter.

32 people is record attendance. In fact, if we get this many or more in the future, we need a bigger place.


Binyamin 51, Roie 42, Ben 38, Omri 31, Zvi Yehuda 531

Ben doesn't get to play this game in his community because his gamers object to the other deities and sacrifice.

Nadine 54, David B 39, Yosef 38, Ben 34

This was first game for David and Yosef. David thought it was a good game but the -3 card (stealing 3 gold) wasn't strong enough to overcome the loss of a free item.


Jon, Yardena

I went easy on Yardena at the start of this game under the assumption that I would be much better than she was, since she had Scrabble experience but not Anagrams experience. After a few words, however, it turned out that she was excellent. After that I played as well as I could and we both ended up with about the same number of words.


Nadine, Ben, Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda

They played a few hands toward the end of the day.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Yitzchak, Yosef

Played a two-player game to learn the rules, I believe.

Yosef 13, Jon, Jonathan

I started off pretty well, but Yosef relentlessly hit me during the game and rose over my back. He got a quick early metropolis, and another one soon thereafter. He won the game with Longest Road.


Zvi Yehuda 83, Gili 80, Tikva Shira 65

This is a big sprawling game with busy graphics. I played it once and thought it was a typical Euro.

Cosmic Encounter

Binyamin, Pini, Yosef, Zvi Yehuda

I think I have the wrong people written here, except I know that Binyamin got bored by the game since he didn't think the aliens were interesting enough (he had Void/Zombie).


Adam+, Jon

Adam slaughtered me by capturing a large central area on an 11x11 board. I still love the game, but I really really suck at it. I started with two stones.

Jon+, Yardena

I taught Yardena how to play on a 9x9 board. Even by the end of the game, she wasn't quite sure she had grasped the rules of capturing groups. She started with a two stone advantage.


Binyamin brought this and taught it to several groups of people, but no one took him up on the offer to actually play it.

Magic: the Gathering

Jon++, David++

David and I did our usual Rochester draft. Both of us ended with serious difficulties in cutting down colors for our deck. I had more Red, but I settled on Blue as my third color. There was no way to cut it down to two colors. I did BGU while David did BRU.

I lost the first game. The second game, I was distracted by some other events around me and forgot to say I was casting a blocker from my hand, so I lost, but David said I should have won (I recorded it as his win). In the third game my deck worked and his didn't. In the fourth, we were well on a repeat of the third so he resigned.

David+, Pini

Pini used my deck to play David while I was eating dinner and lost.

Pirate's Cove

Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda

I saw them playing this two player. Binyamin heard the rules and wasn't interested because of the excessive dice rolling. I sympathize, but I like the game anyway, for some reason.

Power Grid

Dylan+, Dvir, Shimon, Ari

I taught the latter three this game and then stepped out for Dylan to play. I forgot that Dylan's grasp of the rules wasn't perfect. As a result, they forgot that you couldn't have more than three power plants. I'm sure they got some of the power plant rotation rules wrong, too. Dylan won on the tie breaker.

Puerto Rico

Rachel+, Roie, Omri

Omri and Roie brought two games, PR and Princes of Florence, both of which I have. They sat down to play with Rachel. I was thinking of warning them that they don't know what they're up against, as she is a killer.

She ended up winning, but not as badly as I won against inexperienced players the day before at the Beit Shemesh club - something like a 10 point spread. She said it was fun, especially when she had no idea what her opponents were going to do, unlike when she played with us regulars.

Race for the Galaxy

Yaron, Maayan, Maya, Jonathan

This was the first time for all of them (2nd for Jonathan?). It took them quite some time, as first game are want to do.

David B 29, Pini 25, Yosef B 15

I taught all of them how to play and then left them to it. As a result, they were often confused. David realized that their was a lot to the game, but the other two were somewhat frustrated. They all would have enjoyed it more if I had played with them as well; I'm sorry I didn't.

Nadine 42, David 32, Jon 29

We three wanted to play this at the end of the evening. Nadine won using her usual brown world strategy. I started with the military world, which I think is a poor strategy in comparison.

David 64, Jon 45, Nadine 41

I tried a brown world strategy, but David took it from me and did it better. He also had yellow worlds going. it was obvious a third of the way into the game that he was going to slaughter us. Which began to make me resent the game. Once I was losing and my initial worlds turned out to have been the wrong ones, there was no hope of catching up and a whole game to know that.

RftG is therefor a fascinating puzzle, but somewhat frustrating as a game.


David 17, Jon 3, Nadine 2, Avi 0, Adam 0

My only points were from not dumping. David pulled the 4 and 5 of red in his last two moves.

Avi 16, Nadine 8, Yardena 6, David 5

Yardena liked the game because the rule set was simple and she didn't have to think too much (she thinks a lot during work, generally).

David B, Pini, Yosef B

I taught them this and they all liked it for what it was.

Yosef, Gili, Binyamin

Played near the end of the day.

Robo Rally

Jon+, Nadine, David, Avi, Adam

This was our opening game and it was fun. We played on one board with two flags at opposite corners. David, Nadine, and I were all close, with Adam right behind. This despite my opening turn as nothing but left and right turns. As usual, chance played heavily in who was able to get the second flag in the final stretch.

Yaron, Maayan, Maya, Dylan, Jonathan

I taught them all how to play, and warned them that a typical game, even on a short board with one flag, takes a good hour and a half. Dylan then won on his second play.


Maayan+, Yaron, Maya, Jonathan

This was another new game for all the players.

Settlers of Catan

Roie, Omri, Yosef, Yedidya/Yitzchak

Y and Y really wanted to play but there wasn't enough room so they shared a position.

Shadows Over Camelot

Gili, Tikva Shira, Saarya, Richard, Vera, Raphaela, Jonathan

I taught some, and some had played once or twice. Richard, Vera, and Raphaela came in just as we were about to start and I included them. This was their first game, and they didn't make it through to the end, even though Vera told me that it was much better than Monopoly. Still, it's a fairly complicated game for your first game, though the mechanics themselves are pretty easy.

When they left, three players finished the game three player, each with two roles. Gili inherited the traitor (or started as the traitor). he game ended with seven white swords, but then two flipped because the traitor was still in the game, so the company lost (and Gili won).

Winner's Circle

Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda, Tikva Shira

The opening game for them.

Year of the Dragon

Nadine 104, David 84, Gili 77, Tikva Shira 58

David and Nadine had both played Year of the Dragon once, and David had won that time. Tikva Shira knew the basics, and it was Gili's first time. This game is played in preference to Notre Dame, being considered nearly the same game but better (though ND is a fine game).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 09, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Yitzchak, Jonathan, Saarya, Tal, Dylan, Binyamin

I was late getting home, so a few patient participants had to wait on the steps outside my house for 45 minutes. Sorry! This is the first group in a long time in which my kids Saarya and Tal joined us; briefly, in Tal's case.

El Grande: King and Intriguant

Jon 137, Nadine 133, Dylan 106, Saarya 103

Saarya chose El Grande, and I decided to try the expansion one more time. The last time we played, we found a number of things rather frustrating. This time we implemented a few house rules in an attempt to fix these irritations, but they ended up causing nearly s many irritations.

The first was to eliminate all cards that can send caballeros back to the provinces, namely cads 30, 50, and 70. It's not a problem when such an event happens once or twice a game, as it does when we play the regular game. It's that it happens in every single round when we play the expansion, which limits the available strategic options for most players. The end result of the variant is that players ran out of caballeros on the last round of play; this happens in regular El Grande sometimes, but not too often.

The second was that we allowed the first player to choose whether or not to do the King power or the card power, and the last player to choose whether or not to do the Intrigue power or the card power. In fact, that is the correct way to play for three players, but we were four players. The reason we did that is that last time it was too unpredictable what you would be able to do when it was your turn, which again lead to a loss in strategic options. The end result of the variant, however, meant that the king didn't move an awful lot during the game. Which wasn't really so bad, come to think of it.

The expansion is far more chaotic than the regular game. Again, it's one thing for an effect to happen once or twice a game, and another for it to happen four or five turns in a row. It was a challenging game, but I'm not sure it was quite as good.

In our game, I started with a 17 point lead on the first round and kept it for the remainder of the game. Nadine was at my heels, while Dylan and Saarya remained neck and neck but well behind us. After the first scoring, I led 38 to 34, with Dylan and Saarya at 24 each. Nothing had changed by the second scoring: Jon 95, Nadine 89, Dylan 62 and Saarya 60.

Near the very end of the game is seemed that Nadine was finally going to catch and surpass me, but my little second and third place scoring in a few minor regions kept me ahead. Dylan and Saarya didn't think they could catch up, so they were just jockeying not to be last. However, Dylan actually had a pretty amazing comeback at one point and was only a few points behind Nadine for a round.

Taj Mahal

Gili 47, Jonathan 45, Binyamin 38, Yitzchak 36

Jonathan's first game, and I think possibly Gili's first win.

Race for the Galaxy

Yitzchak 36, Binyamin 35, Jonathan/Nadine 31

Jonathan's first game. Binyamin and Yitzchak both love the game. Nadine took over for Jonathan at the very end of the game when he had to go.

Jon 46, Nadine 32, Binyamin 29

We played a game of this after they finished theirs. Binyamin was convinced that you need to have three 6-point buildings to win. He ended up having 3 of them, but they were all pretty worthless buildings. Nadine had dozens of 6-pointers in her hand and built 4 of them, also all pretty much worthless. Meanwhile, I couldn't find one to save my butt, of course, so I had to go a different route.

I was essentially the only one able to consume goods for points, even by the end of the game. So I just kept doing that, netting 8 points every other turn and building whatever I had available while they were developing. I was able to build something because I was also pulling a few cards in for producing and consuming each. I ended up building a 6-pointer: the military power card which was worth the two points printed on it. I had 29 consuming points, which is what ended the game.


Dylan+, Nadine/Tal, Jon

Dylan's first game. Nadine started off playing while she was finishing off RftG, and Tal took over for her to finish the game. Neither Nadine nor Dylan dumped at all, while I dumped 9 cards. Ouch. Even so, and even with a -2 chip, I still ended up with 7 points at the end of the game, which I thought was pretty impressive.

It wasn't quite enough, however, as they ended up with 9 and 11 points, or something like that, which included their points for not dumping.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

April 02, 2008

Participants: Jon, David K, Gili, Yitzchak, Jonathan, Eran

Jonathan is a first-timer from Jerusalem, first time to the club and first time gamer. Eran is a very experienced gamer I met in Dallas at the first BGG.con. He lived in Dallas for several years and is now back in Israel, but he lives in Carmiel so is unlikely to come often. He was in the Tel Aviv area, however, so he make the trip.


Jon 7, David, Jonathan, Eran

I don't remember the other player's results, but the highest was 3. This continues to be a nice little filler.

Jon 8, David 7, Yitzchak

So much so that we played it again later in the evening. Yitzchak managed to avoid dumping in the first half of the game, but then dumped tons and tons in the latter half, ending up negative something.

Robo Rally

Jonathan+, Eran, Jon

I thought this could make a nice second game for Jonathan after R-Eco, and I don't often get to play it. It's better with more players, but it was still fun with three.

We played with just two boards and two flags to touch. Each of us also had an option which didn't get lost when you died.

I had a stunning first two rounds and ended up on the first flag. Unfortunately, on my next round I received 8 points of damage. I crawled out of the laser turrets and shut down the next turn. Meanwhile, Eran was doing about average and managed to reach the first flag. then he sat on it while Jonathan tried to touch it. He couldn't, since the flag was sitting in a corner near two walls, making it impossible for Eran to be pushed off of it.

Somehow, Eran eventually moved and Jonathan fell into a pit and had to start over. It didn't look two difficult to get to the second flag, as there was a row of conveyors leading very close to it, so I told Jonathan to be happy if he even got to the first flag by the time the game was over.

Eran and I ended up conflicting, however. While we were running around in circles hoping for just the right thing, Jonathan got to the first flag and worked his way to the second. Eran managed to kill himself in the meantime, and in the end it was Jonathan and me in contention for the second flag. And Jonathan won. An amazing comeback.

Notre Dame

David+, Yitzchak, Gili

I don't know the exact scores, but David was at least ten points ahead of Nadine, who was well ahead of Gili. Gili, through too much concentration on Notre Dame, found herself at one point with no cubes on the board and no cubes in her provinces, so literally had nothing to do unless she acquired the trusted friend card. She didn't even have the cash to use on the personalities in order to get herself another cube.

Settlers of Catan

Eran+, Jonathan, Gili

In this game, Gili would have been doing fine but the robber blocked her 6 wood production for several turns, allowing Eran to move ahead. Jonathan started off slow, but made some gains by the time the game ended.

Race for the Galaxy

David 51, Yitzchak 47, Jon 46

Yitzchak's first game. He's a San Juan nut, so it is no surprise that this went over well with him.

I went pretty straight military. I don't think this is a great strategy, since it doesn't give you an engine for acquiring cards (excepting the occasional windfall world, making it hard to get the six point developments. Sure, I got a 7 point military world out and a few 5 pointers, but that doesn't compare to the three 10 point devels that the other players got out (I got out two).

Yitzchak did fairly well with both shipping and six point devels. In fact, the last one he dropped gave him 3 bonus points each for three specific cards in play, and he had every one of them; a total of 13 points for that devel.

David had not only shipping points, but a card drawing engine whenever he produced, eventually drawing six cards every time he produced. That made him happy regardless of what phase occurred.

Mr Jack

Jonathan (Detective), Eran (Criminal)

I don't know what happened with this game.