Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August 25, 2009

Participants: Jon, Binyamin, Gili, Elijah, David, Avi

Game night on Tuesday night by request. Avi is David's son.


Jon 60, Binyamin 46

First play for Binyamin. He almost learned this once from Gili, but didn't get it and they didn't have time to play it.

Jambo, like Odin's Ravens and I suspect all of the Kosmos two-player games, is light like an appetizer. It's nice enough, ok to kill time, nothing that can't be interrupted by a better game. But if time is short and there are only two players ... I'd probably play Magic.

Binyamin thought it was ok, too.


Gili, David, Avi, Elijah

I didn't see the results. They played this while waiting for us to finish Jambo.

Stone Age

Gili 254, Elijah 193, Avi 127

Gili brought this and likes it. I'm not enamored with dice, but I'll play it. First play for Avi.

Shame on Gili for beating up on the kids. :-)


Jon 50, Binyamin 35, David 31

We drafted cards. I didn't get any cohesive strategy from this, but I always prefer the cards that give you an extra X when you take X or Y. For most of the game, I only played two of these. Then I dropped a bunch more, purely for their VP effect, ending with 7 bonus points (+3 from a card Binyamin played).

I thought farming and fencing is the better strategy than house building, but those extra actions are definitely nice. With a 6 room stone house and a middle amount of animals and an early fireplace, I spent the last several rounds simply picking up victory points for whatever I was missing: a grain here, a field there, a card here.

I thought David was really doing better than me for most of the game. He had early and powerful farming. But somehow he never got beyond that. He had food, fields, grains, and vegetables, but no pastures and few animals and bonus points. And no house.

Binyamin also had no animals or pastures, and also had to work at feeding his family on a few occasions. He had a larger house, though, and a few extra bonus points.

Greedy Greedy

Gili, David, Elijah, Jon, Binyamin

I was sent this game as a thank you for posting about it. It didn't look like our type of game, but I felt obligated to play it once. First play for all of us.

The game comes with a pack of card, six d6, and rules. I don't know if I was sent a prototype version or the real thing since my copy was free, but the quality of the cards was just awful. Worse than any quality you've ever seen. In fact, half of the thin cards were matte-faced and half were glossy. As a result, they were difficult to mix. Oog.

It's a push your luck dice game. Amazingly, the designers found a way to make a dice game even more luck-dependent by having each player flip over a card before starting his or her turn which gives additional bonuses or penalties for succeeding or failing in your rolls.

This card thing isn't necessarily a bad design decision. If all of the cards were positive, then this would color your tactical decisions on each turn, which would make a slightly more interesting game. Unfortunately, many of the cards were negative. Your round can simply be ruined by a card flip, which makes everyone else laugh, I guess, but basically sucks. Worse are the cards that make you lose a turn: nobody likes to lose a turn (play less), yet designers keep throwing that mechanic into games.

As far as push your luck dice games go, it's hard to see why this is a better game than any number of traditional games with dice or Can't Stop. But it's not bad for the genre either. We certainly laughed a lot at the ridiculous effects the card flips had, and, like any push your luck game, occasionally tried to work out whether or not is was better to continue or stop.

There was confusion in the rules as to what exactly happens when one "rolls through" (scores with all six dice). The game says you can flip another card and continue, but it doesn't say what happens to the previous card. And some cards say that if you "roll through twice on the card" then something happens, but how can you do that?

There was no convenient way to score, so I was constantly writing and crossing out on paper. Midway through, I realized that tracking the superfluous "00"s at the end of ever score was a waste of time, so I kept scores without them (100 points became 1 point). After twenty minutes, we had had enough. Not our type of game.

Elijah said that he would enjoy playing it as a filler.

Bridge Troll

Jon, Binyamin, David, Avi, Elijah

First play for Binyamin, David, and Avi. Avi was concerned that he didn't understand the rules when I explained them, but he was able to pick it up as the game started and ended up liking it.

We only got halfway through the game when Elijah had to leave, and we abandoned it. Like me, David was not thrilled with the cube mechanism, especially about taking cubes from other players. And none of us like the mechanism where cubes are redistributed at the end of each round. The first time I played this, I thought that all cubes go back to the supply, forcing you to close your bridge to get more. And I think that worked a LOT better.

It's a decent game, all the more-so for the nice artwork and up to six players for a filler, but it feels like an even better game is in there somewhere. If the cube mechanics were just a bit less fiddly. And maybe a tad less luck in the blind bidding.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 19, 2009

Participants: Jon, Cliff, Gili

Huh. Some regulars are away, I know, but we still had a decent show last week. The only regulars to show this week were me and Gili. Cliff is a local gamer who can never make Wed nights, because he teaches. He just happened to be between sessions this week.

He brought Battlestar Galactica, but we decided that three wasn't enough people to play it.

Blokus Trigon

Jon+, Cliff

First play of any game in the Blokus series for Cliff. He made the mistake of not getting all of his bigger pieces out first. I had a tough time deciding at several points when to place something big before my opponent could block it (though he couldn't do anything else with that space) or take more space away from my opponent.


Jon 52, Gili 43, Cliff 33

First play for Cliff. He liked it. We played with a random assortment, where the only Attack card to start with was Bureaucrat, but Black Market pulled in a few more. Gili used it to get Moat, and she happened to pull it against several attacks.

I played nearly straight Feasts -> Markets, Villages, and Throne Rooms, with some flavor. Regarding Throne Rooom -> Throne Room: I thought about this one for a while, and the only difference between doing Throne Room -> X, and Throne Room -> Y, versus Throne Room -> Throne Room -> X and Y, is that the latter saves 1 action (and can only do the former if X gives you an extra action).


Jon 150, Gili 133, Cliff 127

Scores approximate. First play for Cliff. I don't get to play this most of the time, as others in the group don't like it; I still think it's a fantastic game.

This was my first three-player experience, and three players is far more serene - and high-scoring - than either four or five players. Maybe I overlooked a rule.

Poor peas never yielded more than a single plantation. Both Gili and I had plantations yielding 88 points, while Cliff had an 80 pointer.

I still don't know whether it is correct to add a square to your opponent's big field, preventing him from doing so, and with the expectation that he will add to yours, or whether it is better to add to your own field and let the opponent add to his. Must calculate that definitively someday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August 12, 2009

Participants: Jon, Binyamin, Tzvi Yehuda, David, Avraham, Moshe, Har-El, Miryam, Elijah

Binyamin brought his son Tzvi Yehuda, and David brought his son Avraham and two nephews-in-law (or something like that) Moshe and Har-El. Meanwhile, Miryam is a first-timer who had played Settlers of Canaan somewhere and was told by her relatives that she should check out our group.

Tonight's session was somewhat disorganized, owing to my being home late from checking my daughter in to the hospital in preparation for a tonsillectomy, and owing to having asked Binyamin to check out my mezuzah's, which I then had to reattach to all my doorposts during the first twenty minutes of game night.


Binyamin, Elijah, Tzvi Yehuda, Miryam

First play for Miryam.

I set everything up and was all set to take my first move, when Binyamin told me that I had to put the mezuzah's up right away. I grumbled, but I took a Silver and then put my cards down. David Klein then played for me after he walked in. He took Throne Room (the card that let's you double an action), and then put the cards down. Then Binyamin picked up my cards to finish the game.

Unfortunately for him, Silver and Throne Room are two ridiculous cards to take on the first plays, and he spent the next five rounds playing catch up. Miryam liked the game.

Jon, David, Binyamin

And we played another game of this later in the evening, to close game night. David started slowly, but was eventually drawing his entire deck each turn (Throne Room and Smithy, Village, Festival) [DK: What makes this more impressive is that the deck had over 30 cards in it and I still pulled the whole thing!]. Binyamin is the first to play the Black Market. His most important purchase was Witch, which gave him the game. That's probably always going to be the best result of Black Market.


David, Avraham, Har-El, Moshe

First plays for Har-El and Moshe.

Cosmic Encounter

Jon, Moshe, Har-El, Elijah

Elijah., as usual, pestered everyone to play Cosmic. I thought it would be a decent choice for Moshe and Har-El, but I was wrong: a) Har-El didn't read English too well, though he spoke it well, and b) Har-El's disconnect between what he wants the rules to be and what the rules are prevented him from grasping the rules. So he constantly tried to put more tokens in the cone than he was allowed, played extra cards, give cards to other people, make unbind-able deals, and so on. He found the game overly complicated. Can't argue with that.

We played one power each: Mind, Ghost, Prophet, and Crystal. Prophet was the strongest power, so Elijah got ganged up on early.

La Citta

David, Miryam, Avraham, Binyamin, Tzvi Yehuda

David taught this to Binyamin, as he wanted to learn it. First play for everyone but David.

I've had a good time every time I played this, but acknowledge that there are some problems with the game: the luck of what cards are available on your turn, and your dead cities that feed people to other people's success. These haven't bothered me terribly, and I imagine that there is some way to fix the luck of the card draw, if we decided it's necessary.

Unfortunately, these guys really weren't happy with the game, owing to the above problems. So much so that they unanimously decided to abandon the game half-way through.


Jon, David, Binyamin

I taught this to David and Binyamin. It's a decent filler, very spacial and calculating. Not too many rules, but I always forget one or two important ones when I teach it. :-o

Furthermore, there are a few rule problems that come up every time, such as can a temple be used to join two small settlements, ending with a settlement large enough in which to play a temple? Can you split a settlement such that a temple remains alone? And a few others like this.

I have to make rulings on these issues each time we play. Otherwise, I find it to be a fun abstract game with a little luck in the tile draw (which can be solved with a pool of available tiles, and upcoming tiles visible).

Winner's Circle

Elijah, Tzvi Yehuda, Avraham

The younger ones played this to round up game night.