Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 30, 2008

Participants: Nadine, Jon, Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda, Amir, Hillel, Yitzchak

Last minute change of plans forced the game night to Nadine's house. Amir came for a first visit, although he's moving to Modiin so won't be back much. Hillel has come once or twice before. Yitzchak also won't be coming back much more, as he's now engaged again (mazal tov) and moving to Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Year of the Dragon

Nadine 108, Jon 107, Amir

I don't remember the exact scores. Nadine was convinced I was going to win. I felt like I was doing ok, but I was severely behind in end-scoring points, and I figured Nadine would catch up to me. Lo and behold, she did, and won the game by one point.

YotD is a good game, but it's pretty balanced and mechanics-oriented. Constantly losing people makes for a nice tension element. In our game, I opened with the Double Dragon, which I'm not sure is the best opening move, actually. Later on I used the triple book a few times, ignoring the ladies and the builders. Nadine and Amir took early double dragons as well, and some ladies. Nadine's ending monks were what did me in.

Texas Hold'Em

Binyamin, Jon, Zvi Yehuda, Hillel

Zvi Yehuda wanted to play this, and Binyamin pretty much cleaned up. We played with a 1 token ante and a 5 token maximum bet for each hand (after which all cards were simply revealed). Z"Y bet high a few times in weird ways. I simply pulled crappy cards. I'm not a big fan of this type of poker, anyway.

Hillel took over for me when he came, as I was playing this and YotD at the same time.


Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda, Hillel

This is a new game from Ystari which Binyamin brought. I didn't see much of it. Binyamin claims it's a deeper version of Mykerinos.

Alexander the Great

Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda, Nadine, Jon

This is another new game which Binyamin brought. It's a hidden resource allocation / area control game with somewhat vicious mechanics (tied players receive nothing, first player loses resources equal to 1 + the second player's resources).

I played this simultaneously with Princes of Florence, so this may be why I found the game wholly uninteresting. In an hour, we progressed through 2 of 6 epochs. The decisions were very heavy calculations - not based on high math, but based on wrangling the mechanics to benefit you: "If I go here, I cause a tie, which means no one loses anything, so when I go here and lose, she'll lose resources, so that I can go here and win, and we'll both gain 3 points overall."

It felt excrutiating to me, but overall I think it's probably a good game. There's tons of strategy and tactics, and little in the way of luck, so many of my group will probably like it. You have to learn the patterns to enjoy it.

We abandoned the game after the second epoch, with Binyamin in the lead.

Princes of Florence

Yitzchak 58, Jon 57, Hillel, Amir

First time plays for Amir and Hillel. PoF remains an excellent game, but my luck remained poor. I thought I played an excellent game. I picked up 2nd and 3rd jesters on the last two round at dirt cheap prices, and won best work in both rounds. The third jester boosted a bonus card, and secured me my prestige card (6 points).

For all that, Yitzchak had two prestige cards worth a total of 15 points, and ended up beating me by one point. Sometimes I don't know why I bother.

Both the newbies played very well, although they both had a bunch of builders and lost (by less than 10 points), so there you go.


Binyamin/Zvi Yehuda, Jon/Nadine

We played Bridge for several hands, and my highest hand was 10 points. Most of my hands were 6 or under. I still ended up as declarer three times, making two of the contracts.

Aside from the first hand where Binyamin opened 3 hearts and his partner bid 4 NT and they made a slam, the rest of the hands were all partials. One was even passed out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 23, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Binyamin, Tikva Shira, Zvi Yehuda, Dov, Hannah, Gili, David K, Avraham, Tal

Back to a higher attendance level although five of the attendees were Binyamin and his family. T"S and Z"Y are Binyamin's children, and Dov and Hannah are his parents. Nadine is back from vacation.


T"S 15, Z"Y 12, Jon 5, Dov 3, Hannah 2

I taught this (in broken Hebrew) to all the others, and they picked up fairly easily. I got lots of chips, but tossed out lots of cards. As usual, the players with the 4 and 5 chips took the game, which is one of the problems with the game, and the reason why I prefer playing with all the chips randomly stacked on all cards in even-sized piles (game is over when the last chip is taken from any pile).

Notre Dame

David 52, Gili 51, Dov, Hannah, T"S

Gili taught this to Dov and Hannah while David drove up. Obviously a close game for the two most experienced players.


Jon, Binyamin, Z"Y, Nadine

Heard a lot of good things about this new cooperative game, and Avraham had left us a copy, so we read the simple rules and tried it out. As in many cooperative games, it tends to be dominated by one player who tells everyone else what to do if table talk is allowed. Best to play with no talking.

Pandemic is a light game, with theme enough, though not a deep one. Cubes are put onto the board representing virus outbreaks, and when a city gets more than three it spreads to neighboring cities. You have limited actions to move around removing cubes, and collecting sets of cards to implement cures. You lose the game if too many of one cube is on the table, or too many outbreaks occurred (similar) or too many rounds have elapsed.

The lesson learned, as we expected after playing Shadows Over Camelot, was that the Traitor aspect of Shadows Over Camelot is a huge bonus for the game. The board as your enemy is just not quite as intense a conflict if everyone can be counted on as your friend.

As far as strategies and tactics, there is a nice amount going on, where you have to decided which outbreaks to tackle in which order, and how to use your limited cards to best effect.

It was interesting enough, and I would play again. By the way, we all lost when disease spread out across South America.

Vegas Showdown

Jon 41, Avraham 39, Nadine 35, Binyamin 35, Z"Y 31

We don't play this enough, partly because the random effects each round detract from the game more than they help. If we could see the next five effects that will be coming into play, it would be somewhat more strategic.

Despite this, it's an excellent game of money management and auctioning. I won the last few points with my red diamonds, which I never expected to actually come in useful.

Settler of Catan

David, T"S, Gili

This game was started and abandoned, I believe.


David, Hannah, T"S, Gili

David tried to teach this, but only Hannah was interested in continuing after one hand.David/Avraham 375, Jon/Tal 325

We played this later in the evening as a session closer. We managed to get in five hands.

I generally maintain that the points on the cards taken in are not significant compared to Tichu effects and both team members going out first. I'm usually right, but not this time.

In the first hand, we had 20 and our opps 80.

In the second hand, I called and made Tichu, but our trick point count was -20, giving us net points of 80 to our opps 120.

In the third hand, David called Tichu, and we all laughed. It turned out that his was the only hand at the table that didn't have a bomb. My hand was particularly good, and I went out first without too much difficulty. But with the trick points, we gained 25 while they lost 25 (-100 +75).

In the fourth and fifth hands, Tichu wasn't called. Each pair went out before the other, netting each team 200 points. And we had to call it a night.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 16, 2008

Participants: Jon, David K, Gili, Saarya

Two guests! As much as the combined number from the last two weeks. Why, at this Fibonacci rate, the whole planet will be at my group by the end of the year!


Jon, Gili

Gili and I played half a game while we were waiting. I was ahead a bit.

Notre Dame

David 57, Jon 55, Gili, Saarya

Saarya's first play. I played a very balanced game, ignoring the VP track but putting two into Park. In the very last round, I ran out of money and couldn't buy the last favor, costing me the game. David skipped Notre Dame in the last triad, but took the last favor of 3 VP for each 3 populated province for 10 points (with Park). He also had his VP track going, so I avoided passing him VP track cards, but didn't use them myself.

Saarya concurs with the rest the rest of us that a tad more control would be slightly better.

Cities and Knights of Catan

David 11, Gili 5, Jon 5

My rule is that I'll play this game with an alternate win condition: that you win if you have five more points than second place. Keeps the game from going on too long, and makes jockeying for Longest Road somewhat more interesting at the middle of the game.

I had 4 points more than either of them near the beginning, owing to defending the island once and having Longest Road. David stole my knight, so that he then collected three defender points while I stalled for resources. I beat Gili out to a wheat port, but, though situated on an 8/5 wheat, never got to use it. David won the game when he took Longest Road from me.

David feels that a better alternate rule is that you win if you are four points ahead of second place, not counting Longest Road (he doesn't like the LR jockeying, and anyway the point is to prevent a won game from dragging on).

Magic: the Gathering

David++, Jon

We drafted for decks, but I drafted far too many rather than too few creatures, for once. May lack of utility made me unable to pass his defenses, while he had a few spells that could pass mine. My lack of red mana in the first game, and then slow start to green mana in the second, didn't help.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 09, 2008

Participants: Jon, Avraham.

Another game night alost didn't happen. Avraham called and came a bit late, but everyone else seems to have disappeared.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation

Avraham++, Jon

I taught this to A, and he beat me twice, as Black and then as White. And he was still wresting with the abilities, too.


Jon+, Avraham

I taught this to A, and was happy to win so as to make up for my defeat in LotR:tC. He enjoyed the game.

Tigris and Euphrates

Jon 14, Avraham 4

And I taught this to A, too, and won by a compfortable margin, as you can see. We played on the entire board, although sometimes I play two-player on a reduced board. I started in the river delta, and built a massive kingdom with Green and Black. We had very few external conflicts; I think only two the entire game, and they were small ones.

We built a few monuments, and kicked them back and forth for a while with internal conflicts, but I ended up with control, and even abandoned one of the colors later as I didn't really need it. Basically: I was gaining fast, and he wasn't doing enough to disrupt me.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

July 02, 2008

Participants: Jon, David K

Where did everyone go?

I know that Nadine is in America.

Magic: the Gathering

David++, Jon+

I pulled a stack of cards that I think I collected from my recent trip to Toronto. It had no artifacts and a lot of cards that were built to interact with artifacts, so during our draft, we kept tossing out cards and replacing them with ones that at least had possibility. As a result of this tossing, I picked a few direct damage spells about which David was unaware.

I built what i thought was a decent deck: 4 or 5 direct damage, including X spells, two creature removals in white, and enough creatures to hold off whatever he could throw until I got my damage out. Unfortunately, even when I draft well, I still can't seem to beat David.

The first game I lost because I didn't draw a second land for ten turns or so. I won the second game the way it was supposed to be won. The third game I sat waiting for a while holding his creatures at bay, but eventually he got his 4/4 flying dragon past my defenses and I couldn't keep from dying long enough to pull out both kill cards (I toasted him for 10, once).

Power Grid

David 21+, Jon 21-

We played on the Italy map, which we almost never use. But we played in Northern Italy, which is hardly like using the map, really. 2-player PG works, but the fuel really runs out, and it's all a matter of timing in the last round or two. I feel like I played better, but David won owing to holding the right goods versus a plant that came out at a certain time, and he only won by a few dollars, anyway.