Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 25, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Yitzchak, Jonathan, Avraham, Sarah, David K, Tal

Avraham came once before, and he brought his fiance Sarah (for real).


Jon, Tal, Nadine, Jonathan

Having just blogged about Tichu, I decided to get some people to play it. Tal is always up for a game, and she always pauses dramatically before she has to play something bad. Nadine doesn't care for Tichu, as it's strictly luckier than Bridge, so why bother playing Tichu?

Tal and I were trailing when other people arrived and we broke to play some regular games.

Puerto Rico

Yitzchak 53, Jonathan 51, Nadine 40

Jonathan's first play, and Nadine taught the game in her usual way.

Nadine writes: Jonathan should have won. I should have shipped instead of Mayoring which would have given me the same three points but blocked Yitzchak because there was only one ship. I had Fortress, Yitzchak had Custom's House, so he would have had only 49. Jonathan had 3 big buildings and a coffee monopoly; I had only the three lower goods.

Race For The Galaxy

Nadine 38, Yitzchak 37, Jonathan 30

I have no info about how this game went, but if Nadine won, it must have been with brown cards.


Avraham 103, Jon 101, David 100, Sara 89

This was Avraham and Sara's first play. This is another nice game that I'd been wanting to get it out onto the table for a long while, but which too many people prefer not to play for some reason. Our game was incredibly long (four hours), but it felt only a bit too long. Three hours would have been just fine (two even better, of course). The length was due to some distractions, some very long thinking, and learning how to play for the first time.

Four players is a very crowded game experience, and I didn't have nearly enough guys or tents on the board, but I still did ok. Most of the scoring comes from finding the clever tactic; the remainder of the time you're putting your tendrils out hoping that that opportunity will come.

The highest scoring temples only went to 8.


David+++, Jon

We drafted. I thought my deck was decent. I get the feeling that I'm just a sucky player.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 18, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Jonathan, Gili, Yitzchak, Shirley, David K

Gili and Binyamin were absent last week attempting to teach some non-gamers how to play Settlers, apparently without much success.

Princes of Florence

Jonathan 63, Nadine 62, Yitzchak 61, Gili 58

I set this up, but then moved to another game and Nadine took my place. The scores are really close, as you can see, and this was Jonathan's first game.


David 116, Jon 68, Shirley 68

Shirley's first game. I generally don't like playing this, as it takes too long and is too fiddly. And, when you know you're losing, you get to know that for a few hours. That's what happened here. I had a nice second round, but the Provost kept knocking out everything I wanted to do, and David was just miles ahead structurally by mid-game.

At one point, I had the decision to move the provost back up 1 to 3 spaces, but I was only considering the space nearest to the Provost, and what would happen if David moved it back to that spot. I decided that the space didn't matter enough, but I would let David decide. I missed the fact that he could move it three spaces, knocking out two of mine. It was a 10 point loss for me (no building in the castle, no favor) and a large loss in momentum, too. And it hurt Shirley prettily, too.

It was just a matter of how much he would win by. A lot, as you can see.

Notre Dame

Yitzchak 71, Nadine 58, Jonathan 56

Another first game for Jonathan, but he didn't fare quite as well (though decent enough).

Magic: The Gathering

Jon+, David+

We simply cut 60 cards for each player from the stack of remaining unplayed cards, eliminating a few of the duplicates. Without drafting, one doesn't feel like one has as much to do with one's own success. In this case, David had the better deck. Building and playing still have a lot to do, but not enough.

I won the first game only because David was stuck at two lands for nearly all of it. And it was still close.
[DK: Well close is an exaggeration. I was holding my own, which was very surprising for only two mana over many many rounds. Jon neglected to mention that my two mana was after a mulligan down to 6 cards since my first draw was mana short. And this was with a 40 card deck with 17 mana.]

The second game wasn't a walkover for David; I managed to bury three of his creatures. But he had more ways of delivering the pain than I did.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 11, 2008

Participants: Jon, Max, Sergei, Nadine, Avraham

A bunch of regulars were out teaching games at some sort of other event. Avraham is a new guy who lives nearby and who's just getting into board games.


Jon 38, Nadine 29, Sergei 21, Max 18

Those scores are approximate, since I didn't write them down when the game ended. I've always found this game to be fairly enjoyable, if not stellar, but I enjoyed this session more than most. Maybe because I won.

Max and Sergei were first time players. Sergei emptied his hand fairly early, winning the first two battles, as well as the fourth, but then having and empty hand for the rest of the game. He tried to win one more battle with a five card hand that was full house; when he lost the battle, his hand was literally empty.

I came in second in some of these battles, and then won the key ones I needed. I remembered mid-game that the Dogs can be used to form a simple straight flush with low cards, which helped win one of them.

Power Grid

Nadine 14, Jon 13 (142), Max 13 (130), Avraham 13 (86), Sergei 13 (74)

This was a first play for both Avraham and Sergei. They took to it well enough, although Avraham thought it was a bit too long. We played on France, without the northeast area.

I started alone in the south, Max in the east, and the others fighting around Paris and suburbs. I remained undisturbed until mid-game. The game eventually came down to who could buy the best plant capacity. Max started off with the most in the end-game, but and incremental plant I bought allowed Nadine to buy a better plant with which she was able to win the game.

It's Alive

Avraham+, Nadine, Jon

I introduced Avraham to this game. We first tried the basic version, which I lost soundly. It's really quite different in strategy from the advanced version. It's slightly better in one sense, in that the lower cost tiles are also beneficial. But it lacks a certain depth.

Avraham 49. Jon 46, Nadine 41

And then we played the advanced version. I ended the game, but I couldn't beat Avraham's coffin laden board. I don't think I even pocked any coffins in the game.

We tried two variants: 1) Buying out of the graveyard for two coins instead of face value. This didn't work, as it made the Villager cards less useful. 2) Combine coins and cards for when you could use cards. This had the effect I knew it would, making cards simply feel like cash, which I don't like.

As far as I'm concerned, the game stays the way it is.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

June 05, 2008

Participants: Jon, Binyamin, Nadine, Gili, Bill, Shirley, Ari

Shirley is Bill's wife, come to the group for the first time. Binyamin won every game he played tonight.


Binyamin+, Jon

Nadine opted to sit this out, which I believe she has come to regret seeing as how long her Puerto Rico game ended up taking.

Mykerinos is actually an elegant game. When I first played it, I thought certain moves were fairly scripted, but this is not the case. It's definitely a game of tradeoffs, all the time. Unfortunately, in the fourth and last round, decisions really are sort of scripted, since nearly every move is a simple math calculation (in two player).

I haven't played this in a while, whereas Binyamin had. Therefore, I forgot a few rules and was blindsided by them when they came up in play. For instance, at the end of the game I forgot that after one person passes, the other players have only one more turn. I kept thinking that the other player can play himself out. This made a real difference.

I knew, but kept forgetting as I actually played, that control is for quadrant, not per board. As a result, I completely screwed up the first set of placement actions. I insisted that we stat again, since having played with the wrong goals in mind, I had lost every single quadrant. I restarted the game after the next two placements again, because I started out doing it again. Only on the third try did I finally get it.

I still lost by a great amount, because I neglected the library. That was totally my fault, however.

Mississippi Queen

Binyamin+, Ari+, Jon -2

I had played this only once, but the rules were fairly easy to remember. The only fuzziness was, when you pushed another player, did you drop speed as well as movement, or only movement?

It was a close game, not too long, and worth playing again.

Race for the Galaxy

Binyamin 36, Jon 35, Ari 31

Binyamin is convinced that the game is simply too short, and should be extended to 20 buildings and a lot more VPs. I am convinced that, if not the winner, then the losers are fairly well known by turn five, making any game extension simply more torturous to them.

Meanwhile, I'm convinced the, while there are multiple paths to victory, some people are going to draw a cohesive set of cards, and some aren't. The former have the potential to win, while the latter don't. Which makes the game torturous to the latter, anyway. But then, I can't explain how David K and Binyamin always seem to beat me. So I really need to study some strategies before I make any final conclusions.

To appease Binyamin, I thought we would try that the game ends when someone has built 8 devels or 8 settlements, and not simply 12 cards. And we added 12 more VPs. I think 10 would have been the better number, as the game was still nearing its end as Binyamin dumped 1 point devels nearly every round.

To me, any game where the end can be "hurried" when someone is ahead is problematic. It's what sinks Lost Valley as a game, too.

Power Grid

Binyamin 17, Ari 15, Jon 14

We played in Central Europe, and with the new deck of power plants. And, as usual, with the top four cards of the power plant deck face up (but still accessible only in order). We played in the three Eastern provinces. I started in the middle of the board, which squashed my expansion and that was nearly that. I had more capacity two rounds before the end, but less cash, and so I couldn't solidify my capacity and buy the fuel I needed and also buy the eight or so cities I needed in the last two rounds.

Binyamin adds: We totally forgot about the -1 discount for garbage [in Wien]. I had the 21 plant - 3 garbege for 5 cities - for at least 4 rounds and didn’t take any discount. That might have made an absurd change, as if I had more money and as I thought Ari has lots of money. I might have tried to go for a 7 plant and not finish the game, which would have been wrong, of course, but I didn’t know that. Interesting thought, how a bit more money could actually make me, maybe, be lose the game.

Puerto Rico

Shirley 57, Nadine 44, Bill 40+, Gili 40-

During the time it took us to play half of Mykerinos, Mississippi Queen, Race for the Galaxy, and Power Grid, these guys played one game of Puerto Rico. It was Shirley's first game, and Bill's second game. Shirley really loved it, and winning by a mile didn't hurt.

She ended with 36 shipping points and Custom's House. Bill had some good shipping, but no big buildings. Otherwise, I don't know what happened.

Nadine adds: I enjoyed Puerto Rico even though it was very slow. Part of that was for multiple explanations, which I don't mind. Bill got a Wharf near the end. He had enough for a big building afterwards, but it was too late to mayor it. Shirley was third and had a Sugar monopoly for a long time, Bill had early Tobacco, and got a Factory. Shirley had Harbor which gave her a lot of points. Gili produced Coffee and Indigo only. I had a Factory and Wharf and Coffee.

Bill had 3 corns and shipped 5 corns on his wharf at least twice, he also had a small warehouse.

It's Alive

Shirley 57, Nadine 53, Bill 45

Again, Shirley's first play and Bill's second. Assuming that Shirley finished her board first, it looks like she won with the board completion bonus.

Nadine adds: I finished my It's Alive board first, because I always pretty much play the basic version, but it wasn't enough this time. Shirley had the some score in Puerto Rico and It's Alive, and won all her games too, though two isn't the same as 4.