Thursday, September 25, 2008

September 24, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Avraham

Still low attendance. I must be doing something wrong. Publicize more?

Reels and Deals

Nadine 103, Jon 100, Avraham 61

Reels and Deals is a light card game with a movie making theme. The core mechanic of taking scripts and adding directors, actors, and effects to them before releasing them for points is like Traumfabrik. Like Traumfabrik, people come in star and non-star versions.

There are six types of cards: Scripts, Directors, Actors, Actresses, Producers, and Enhancements. In M:tG parlance, Producers are Instants, while Enhancements are Enchantments.

Each player starts with $12.

Each round you have three actions, which can be any of: draw and play a script (once per turn), draw another type of card, play a person (costs $2-$8), toss a person into the common talent pool (gains $2-$6), auction a person in the common talent pool (blind bids), play a Producer or Enhancement, or toss a card for $1.

Unlike Traumfabrik, you don't play people directly onto scripts. You accumulate them in your private pool. Only when you cash in a script do you decide which people to use to fill its requirements. You must spend all three action points to cash in a script, which nets you usually between 20 and 60 points, as well as $0 to $15.

Producers gain you points, money, steal money or points, draw extra cards, interfere with other player's actions, and so on. Enhancements must be played either on a specific type of person or on a script, and generally add points to the value of the item on which they are played. Each person added to a completed script adds points to the net value of the completed script.

The people and scripts are all thinly-veiled parodies of real people and movies, which some people might enjoy. Nadine found some of the illustrations and captions sexist, stereotypical, and mildly offensive.

The game is played until one person completes his second script, at least one of which is a "feature" script. Each other player then gets one bonus turn to play.

Reactions: While seemingly insubstantial, RaD is actually a fairly nice game, a solid filler. The core mechanics are fun. The decisions you need to make are not terribly difficult, but they are meaningful. You have to keep track of a lot of interacting parts and things change quickly. It's a card game: luck plays a hefty role. This keeps the game moving. All in all it should take about 30 minutes to play for three players.

We only played once, so it may be that we don't know exactly what we are doing. But there were a few problems.

The biggest one was that the vast majority of points will be scored from your two scripts. And the game ends one round after someone plays his second script. And you have to use your entire turn to cash in a script. So if your second script isn't ready to go the moment someone else cashes in his, you've lost. That's not really an enjoyable way to end the game. It may be that we undervalued playing even bad cards to our private pools, just so that we could be ready for such an event.

A few of the cards were not well balanced. One card stole 3 points from every other player and added it to your score. In a five player game, that's a 15 point swing on a random card. Another card let you draw two cards. Since you paid an action to draw that card to begin with, it seemed like a waste of a card. I would have made it draw three cards.

A few of the rules also needed clarification. For instance, some scripts included "an enhancement" as a minimum requirement for release, but we weren't sure if that meant an enhancement played directly on the script (probably) or if you could count an enhancement played on one of the people used in the script.

The game would also be more challenging if, when playing a person, you had to immediately choose to which script to play him. A private pool didn't seem to be as interesting.

In our game, I completed my second script first, netting me a 15 point bonus. Nadine was able to finish her second script off on her bonus turn, but Avraham wasn't, which put him out of contention. Nadine's money reserve at the end swung the game.


Avraham 32, Nadine 26, Jon 11

First play for all of us. This role selection in this card game is nearly identical to the Citadels role selection. I didn't like Citadels, mainly due to the Assassin, and also due to the rather dull game play. Verrater is better.

Each player has an allegiance which flips whenever he takes the Verrater (Traitor) role. There are twelve keeps laid out in a circle, and in each of the 8 or 9 rounds, two neighboring keeps of differing allegiance will fight. Their strengths are valued as the inherent strength of the keep, plus added resources played by allies players, plus added strength played by certain roles. Highest valued keep wins, losing keep changes allegiance, and all players allied with the victorious keep gain vp's.

Naturally, the fun comes from playing the resources, the possibility of some of the players having chosen roles that add additional strength, and the possibility that one player is the Traitor whose resources will switch sides at the last moment.

Other roles let you gain additional resources, place resource or vp producing cards, or become the player who selects where the battles will be.

Verrater is obviously best played with 4 players. In the three player game that we played, two against one was simply inevitable victory. Furthermore, less variance in the roles occurred simply because only three of the six were taken each turn (plus one not available each turn).

It's fun. If you make a bad mistake like I did on turn 4, you are pretty much sunk for the rest of the game. But it was a really, really bad mistake. Note: don't take the Traitor when you are going to be the first one to commit resources to the battle. Take it when you will be the last one to do so.

Avraham took a commanding lead due to my mistake, and kept it the rest of the game. That gives the game a slight kingmaking effect, which is a small drawback. Again: our first play, and next time we'll play with four players instead of three.

Puerto Rico

Avraham 53, Jon 46, Nadine 39

First play for Avraham, so we gave him advice and attacked each other, which led to him winning. Nadine had a coffee monopoly, Factory and Harbor, but she didn't draw corn until the end of the game. I traded nothing but sugar, but I managed to keep pace with the shipping. Avraham had the other Harbor, and good tobacco sales, so equaled the shipping but ended with a second big building to my one.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 17, 2008

Participants: Gili, Jon, Hillel, Avraham, David BarLev

Attendance is still down, but 5 is a game. Avraham brought a first-time comer, David. David hasn't played any of these games, but he's pretty game smart and picked them up quickly.

Odin's Ravens

Gili 13, Hillel 9

Gili taught this to Hillel and they played while I was finishing my dinner. Hillel won the first round 6 to 3, but then Gili trounced him in the next two rounds.

Princes of Florence

Avraham 62, Jon 61, Gili, Hillel, David

First play for David and Avraham. As usual, I lost the game by 1 point, owing to the winner having had good luck with a Prestige card. Well, not necessarily good luck, as he bought the card on the first round.

Despite my warnings, Recruitment cards went undervalued. I thought I did a good job picking up two and two Jesters, but Avraham managed the same feat with less cost, and got a Prestige card as well. David and Hillel both had several Builders, and Gili took a balanced approach. David also had two Prestige cards. David and Gili scored over 50, and Hillel around 40 something. So it was a fairly close game.

Tigris and Euphrates

Avraham 7, Jon 5, Hillel 3, David 2

First play for Hillel and David. Avraham had read a strategy article about the game online, and it turned out to have been mine.

Everyone else started the game with King/temple, while I started with two leaders, followed by two more leaders on my second play.

I (rightfully, perhaps) got picked on, and unlike my previous game, never seemed to have the tiles I needed. I barely saw a red tile during the game, and my last five turns I couldn't pick either of the two colors I needed to save my life. On my last turn, I finally tossed 6 tiles, drawing one tile I needed and ending the game.

We had intensive conflict, which is normal for four players, but also two mid-game monuments which is rarer. There were no super-sized kingdoms, and more than half of the disasters got played.

David held onto the red/black monument for most of the game, but he didn't collect anything but red and black points. Avraham gave him some of those points, forcing me into losing conflicts with him, while gaining position for himself in the process. Despite red and black scores above 15, David only scored 2.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it. David and Hillel were still struggling with the implications of the moves at the end of the game, and said they would need a few more games to grasp it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

September 10, 2008

Participants: Gili, Nadine, Hillel

I was in Hungary, so Gili hosted game night at her house. This report was written by Nadine.


Gili, Nadine

An abstract where you try to place 5 in a row, and can rotate quarters of the board.

Princes of Florence

Gili, Nadine, Hillel

Gili won by two points, Nadine came in second. Hillel played 7 works to our 5, but only built one building. He had two Jesters after two rounds.


Gili, Nadine, Hillel

Nadine won by one point, Hillel was second, his first play. He tied with each of us after the first half to get most pyramids on both sides of the river. Gili got a lot of extra farmers and 8 incomes, and for her bribe items at the end of the game took one card, which was a bonus card she needed.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

September 3, 2008

Participants: Jon, Gili, David K, Nadine, Tal

Low attendance, for some reason. Summer over? School starting?


Nadine 56, David 55, Gili 35, Jon 33

Scores are approximate. Nadine and David almost tied, but Nadine had one last point from her cash surplus.

Second play for me and David, first play for Nadine and Gili. Nadine complained a lot, and in the end said that she didn't like it too much. Gili thought it was a fun game and looked happy to play it again sometime. I concurred. David finds it ok. Note the correlation between doing well and not particularly caring for the game.

Last time I played I concentrated on the technologies. This time I decided against concentrating on them, and in any case the other players severely blocked my attempts to create connections with them. In the meantime, Nadine had five technology connections.

I also decided not to try too much for the bonus tiles. David ended up with four of them, and tons of corresponding buildings, which gave him some twenty points in bonus tile points.

David also secured many of the goods producing factories, which is what I was looking to do, but somehow didn't get to doing. But then he thought he ended up taking too many of them, even in the latter part of the game. It could be that the good producing buildings are more key at the beginning than at the end. That's what seemed to be the case, anyway.

So what were Gili and I doing while Nadine and David were mapping out nice strategies (Nadine denies doing so, but she did, anyway)? Floundering around, mostly. It seems that a balanced strategy doesn't work so well.

Nadine adds: Industria, like many games, would be fine if we didn't have better games around, and there's not really a buildup as there is in PR.


David/Nadine+, Jon/Tal

David opened with a Tichu, and they also ended up with all 100 points. I made a Tichu later, but had -10 points, so still lost ground. As we were losing by over 200 points, I decided to call a Grand Tichu, but couldn't quite pull it off. And I shouldn't forget to mention that David played some excellent card play during one of the hands. Perhaps he can describe it.

Race for the Galaxy

Jon 40*, David 33, Nadine 30

I have the same problem with RftG that I have with Lost Valley: it is easy for one player to push forwards and end the game early. It makes the game rather boring. There has to be a mechanism to prevent this. You can hasten the end of the game in Puerto Rico, but not quite as egregiously.

In our game, we all decided that the military starting world is too weak, so we ditched it. This meant that no one played military worlds at all. Which is another problem, although since we always need cards for tossing, not too bad.

My score is actually not correct. I realized close to the end of the game that a building that I built that was giving me 2 VP for consuming was really supposed to give me 2 cards. That changed not only the VP scores, but how I would have been playing the roles. Ah well.