Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August 27, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Tal, David K, Avi, Hillel, Mace, Rachel

Mace returned from Australia this morning, so was kind of out of it. David brought his son Avi back.


Nadine 18, Jon 16, Tal 3

Second play for Tal. We played with the random chips variant. Nadine says that it's a lot of luck, but there sure was a lot of thinking going on for a luck game. I know that I had numerous tactical choices to make during the game.

I was the only non-dumper which was worth 4 points, but it was not enough to beat Nadine's high powered chip collection.

Notre Dame

Nadine 58, Avi 46, Mace 45

First plays for both Avi and Mace. Mace was zonked, and Avi is only 10 or so [DK: 8] and speaks English only so so. That they did as well as they did is amazing.


David 64, Hillel 62, Jon 55

This was our first play. I've tried to get the game out before, but the closest we ever came was learning the rules. I had forgotten all of them by now, and I had to relearn them as we set up.

In fact, I got them all wrong time and time again as we played. By the middle of the second set of cards, it was obvious that so many things had gone wrong that the final scores weren't going to mean much. Nevertheless, we forged on to the end of the game.

In addition to getting the rules wrong, we had no idea what was flying in terms of strategy. We had no idea how to value the auctions or tiles. Only as we neared the 2/3 point, did we begin to get a grasp on what was going on.

It's actually a darn good game. Aside from the rather strange auctions, there are a whole lot of different little strategic options to pursue, and they all fit together rather well. My only complaint is the auctions itself. There's an unfortunate problem of two players being able to ruin the auction for the third without suffering much in the way of consequences. Perhaps this will clarify as we play more times.

I used up my money too quickly, and found it hard to recover. I still eked out a decent result. I concentrated on the technologies, which were flush with points, but not enough to cover for the lack of resource production. Meanwhile, David and Hillel had resources covered nicely. It still ended up close. I will definitely play again.


David, Jon, Hillel, Ari

First game for Hillel. We got about halfway through this game before David and Ari had to leave. It looked like David had a pretty clear lead, but who's to say. I wasn't doing too shabbily, either.

Puerto Rico

Jon 64, Rachel 52, Nadine 51

Nadine and Rachel selected the buildings, and chose a few combinations that I would never choose. We played with Harbor, Commodities Exporter (which is a Harbor for indigo and sugar only), AND Aqueduct. That was my strategy, and it did pretty well, as you can see. Didn't hurt having a tobacco monopoly, either.

Only Nadine took Factory, and she ended with two big buildings and a late Harbor. Rachel started in third position, and netted a lot of early victory points, and more with a Discretionary Hold.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

August 19, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Elijah, Zack, Gili, Hillel, Avraham, David K, Saarya

Game night was a day early, owing to a conference I'm attending tomorrow night. We didn't have a chance to test my prototype. Zack attended last year, but his family went back to the states. He's here for a few weeks, but tonight will be his only game group appearance. Elijah also returned after a long absence.

Year of the Dragon

Nadine 101, Elijah 97, Hillel 92, Zack 83

First game for all but Nadine, who had to explain it a few times as players slowly arrived at the club and needed to hear the explanation from the beginning.

Nadine writes: Zack lost points due to getting the least explanation due to coming late. I only won because no one [else] had played before.


Jon/David 84, Avraham 74, Gili 58

We played about half the game and then I got up to let David finish my position when he arrived. I'm not thrilled about the game anyway.

I gave David an ok but not thrillingly good position. He promptly made a mistake in his inherited position and lost ground. And yet, he still won the game. Go figure. This was Avraham's first play and he underestimated the importance of Green/Blue buildings. Gili missed out on the second and third castle scoring (she had one house in the last castle section; none in the second).

Cosmic Encounter

Elijah+, Saarya+, Hillel, Nadine

Hillel's first play. All of them were a little rusty and came to me with rules questions. Even so, they made several mistakes, throwing into question the game's results. For instance, they played the Vacuum as the one who selects which tokens the other player loses, which is deadly. Elijah and Saarya won on a joint comp/comp.


Jon/Avraham 1025, David/Nadine 875

I opened with a Grand Tichu, which I made, and we both went out first to boot. A 400 point lead. I called and made Tichu again. Then David began to call Grand Tichu and Tichu, and after several rounds, we were only ahead 60 points. I won the last game with a Tichu, and that settled it.

In every hand, David and I had our cards down first; of course, being Avraham's first play, and Nadine dividing some attention in the first few hands with Cosmic, this was understandable. In nearly every hand, either David or I called Tichu or Grand Tichu; Avraham and Nadine never called it. And in nearly every hand, David and I went out first, leaving Nadine and Avraham to play for third. Too bad David and I weren't teammates.

David made a Tichu where both Avraham and Nadine had bombs and he didn't. His Grand Tichu was also helped by getting passed cards to complete both a bomb and an inside eight card straight. I had a single bomb, on the last hand, which I broke up to play a 10 card straight, followed by a three of a kind. I was left with a 9. David eventually played an 8, letting me go out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August 13, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Amir, Hillel, Binyamin, Rivka, Dov, Hannah, Saarya

Binyamin brought his wife Rivka, and parents Dov and Hannah again. Amir returns for his second attendance.

Prototype: Vacation

Jon, Nadine, Amir

I tested a prototype, but it definitely needed some work. And Nadine was distracted, too, and didn't give it her full attention. No more to say about it now.

Princes of Florence

Binyamin 62, Rivka, Dov, Hillel, Hannah

They played on the new edition with the pretty board. The new edition also includes some sort of expansion character cards which I didn't get to see. I'll look them up on BGG. Everyone other than Binyamin scored under 50.

Puerto Rico

Amir 54, Nadine 49, Jon 48

First play for Amir, so we gave him corn and a lot of advice. Naturally, with my blocking Nadine from fully utilizing her Harbor, Amir won. Nadine had Harbor, I had Factory, and Amir had both. Amir could have more fully benefited from Wharf, but his taking Harbor prevented me from taking it, which would probably have given me the game. And Nadine scored two early coffee trades and blocked a coffee boat. Amir got a late tobacco monopoly, but he never got to trade it, he shipped it a few times, though.

Blue Moon City

Jon+, Binyamin, Hannah, Amir

First play for Amir, and second play for me. I had essentially forgotten how to play, but it's not a difficult game to pick up. I don't think it's terribly deep, although there are many different options to try and I haven't tried them all.

Still, it's enjoyable and fairly well-balanced, and I would play again. I'm usually a fan of area control. In the end, it came down to the difference of one crystal between Binyamin and me, which is essentially random.

El Grande

Saarya 95, Nadine 92, Dov/Amir 82, Rivka/Jon 82, Hillel 81

First plays for Dov, Hannah, and Hillel. Dov and Hannah had to leave early, so Amir and I took over for them after BMC.

We warned everyone to attack Nadine or she would run away with the game, and that's what they did. As a result, when we joined the game, Nadine was far behind. 6th round scores were: Amir 66, Hillel 65, Jon 61, Saarya 59, Nadine 43.

As you can see, however, she managed a fine catch up during the last third, nearly winning the game.

We flipped over every card that allows you to send other player's caballeros back to the provinces; I never knew so many of these cards existed in the game.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

August 6, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Tal, David K

Small game night again, perhaps because it's the nine days.


Jon, Nadine, Tal

We knew David was on the way, so we played some casual Scrabble for a while, without keeping score. When you play without keeping score, the board opens up tremendously, as point-worthless but pretty six letter words are placed with impunity. My first word was a seven letter word, actually.

Year of the Dragon

David 109, Jon 102, Nadine 91

Once again I was doing ok throughout most of the game, and once again I lost by a few points at the end. Which only goes to show that my strategy is not sound.

I'm ok with the game, and I'm willing to play, but it doesn't thrill me. For some reason, Notre Dame, to which this game has been compared, feels a little more fun to me, even though this game offers slightly more control. I think it's because Notre Dame offers actual areas to control and routes to travel.

David chose early Buddhas and managed to stay well ahead on the turn order track the entire game, while Nadine stayed well in the back. Scores reflect this.

Tigris and Euphrates

Jon 8/9/9/9, David 3/3/4/5, Nadine 3/3/4/5

A bit of a slaughter as you can see, and a fairly quick game. David started in the middle, I started on the east, and Nadine in the north west.

Near the beginning of the game, David put down two green tiles in his kingdom, I had three greens and three blacks in my hand, so I put down the two blacks. I decided to lure him into a trap by not putting down ANY greens in the hopes that he would attack me. Sure enough, he attacked me when his kingdom had four greens and mine had none. I tossed my four green tiles, and that ended that.

The game descended to another all out external conflict when there were only three treasures left on the board. I prepared as best I could for the conflict, but I got very very very lucky, not only in terms of what I drew, but in terms of how the conflict actually unfolded.

David triggered the conflict in an act of desperation. Because of how he created the conflict, there were three conflicts, in red, green, and black. And because of how he created the conflict, I needed EXACTLY one green, three black, and two red tiles to win all three conflicts. And I had EXACTLY one green, three black, and two red tiles. And to top it off, I could still get the last treasure on my next turn.

I figure I have used up my luck for the rest of the year.


Jon, David, Nadine.

We played one round of Boggle while waiting for Tal to join us for Tichu. I think I eked out a small victory.


David/Nadine 1000+, Jon/Tal 205+

In the first hand, it looked like my luck was still around. David played three consecutive pairs and I was able to top it. Then Nadine played a straight and I was able to top it. But to no avail. They both went out first.

In another round, I made it down to my last card, but it was a 2. Tal was already out, and David on my right knew I had the 2, because he passed it to me. So he led a 2, and passed everything that Nadine on my left played. In this way, Nadine went out, and then control passed to David, and he went out.

By the penultimate round, Tal and I were losing 5 to 995. I called and made a Grand Tichu (despite not having a bomb and David having one), but it didn't matter much.