Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 28, 2009

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Bill, Shirley, Gili, Emily, Eitan, Abraham, Sarah, Ksenia

We have new steady regulars, which is great as it keeps game night lively and provides players with a choice of what games to play. Ksenia is a visiting student from Poland who will be staying with us until mid-December, at least. She has no gaming background, but was excited to try out games night and had a great time. Welcome aboard.

Year of the Dragon

Nadine 102, Bill 94, Shirley 92, Gili 90, 82 Eitan

First plays for Bill and Shirley. Shirley was able to translate the Chinese symbols on the board, and they apparently don't have much to do with the game.

They started with this game, instead of the usual filler, and it took them three hours. Nadine won, as usual. Eitan already liked the game, and Shirley really liked it. So much so, that they all sat around for another half hour discussing the game.


Jon 29, Emily 24

I stayed away from YotD, so I was able to play Dominion with Emily when she and Eitan arrived (Eitan preferred to join YotD as it was just about to start).

We pulled a dream set of cards: Chapel, Moat, Villagers, Spy, Moneylender, Bureaucrat, Throne Room, Market, Festival, and Mine. I took Spy/Chapel, she took Moneylender/Chapel.

It took a while to get to 5, but then it was steady progression. Emily Chapel'd all of her Estates, while I only dropped 2 of them. That left me at a one point advantage. We'll get back to that later.

Heh. She managed to get 2 Provinces before I got any, which made me depressed. Then we both got one, leaving me down, 3 to 1. But then I was able to get 2 Provinces and a Duchy. 3.5 to 3. We each both got one more Province, me getting the last one and pulling an additional Estate just for kicks.

Festivals are lovely, but they have to be combined with card drawing ability or they just sit there. Of course, trashing all your Estates and Coppers in favor of Golds also doesn't hurt.

Settlers of Catan

Jon 10, Abraham 8, Ksenia 7, Emily 5

The gateway game, and first play for Ksenia. She liked it, I'm happy to say. Once again I started off a little behind, but soon the numbers began to swing my way. I was the only one who had to dump to the robber during the game, and I did it three times. Ksenia and Emily did a little jockeying for Longest Road, while Abe and I built up cities. I won with a Largest Army and then my fourth city.

It's Alive

Ksenia 47, Jon 43, Abraham 41, Emily 33

Scores are approximate, but in order. First play for Ksenia, and she liked it too (though not as much as Settlers). I'm STILL finding new ways to think about the money and point aspects of the game. Great game.


Abraham 99, Jon 97, Sarah 79, Ksenia 58, Emily 57

For some odd reason, the old-timers don't like to play this game with me, which boggles me, as I think it's incredibly elegant and fun. Luckily I had four players who had never played it before, and I already knew that Abe would like it (and probably win). it's also new player friendly. So I got another chance to play.

Five players is the toughest scenario, of course, but even so, ours was pretty amiable. Very little land dried up completely until the last round of the game.

One of the interesting things about the game is that it's not enough to play a round by maximizing your point score for that round only. You have to consider how many extra points you can get by taking a smaller amount this round in anticipation of tiles that will give you a really big boost in some future round.

Also, you have to weigh the points you will get if you take tile A and opp takes tile B, and the reverse; not only what you will get with your own placement.

Four of the five crops had some contiguity, while the fifth one only sprouted between the fields, so to speak. I made a bonehead move on the seventh round, missing an already watered spot on the board and therefore not bidding high enough to secure it for myself. That was a 10 point loss, I believe.

But the game came down to the end, where Queenmaker Emily got to decide whether my crops or Abe's would be watered. Abe won out, and he won by 2 points.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 21, 2009

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David, Gili, Eitan, Emily

Eitan and Emily came later again, so we didn't mix gamers much.


Jon 23, Gili 17, Nadine 17, David 7

Dominion has become the filler game of choice for us. In fact it's middle weight, and can work as a main game, too. Especially because we'll sometimes play two games straight in a row.

In this game, we played with Witch, Market, Bureaucrat, Smithy, Thief, Villagers, Black Market, Moat, and two others I can't recall. It was a strange, low scoring game.

I was fairly convinced that I was doing poorly until close to the end game, because I was still working and working to get anything going in my hand, and nothing did. I bought Black Market, which I usually don't do, but David got to use Black Market four times before I could. He took Festival from it, and passed on Chapel. I really wanted Chapel, but could never get it at the right time. Eventually David took that too. The only thing I nabbed from BM was Council Room (?? The one that doubles any other action). CR is a fantastic card, and I got it together with Market, Moat, or BM on several occasions. I also had an early Witch that I managed to use three times during the game.

I saw soon that I was never going to get to 8 (actually, I did once, for one Province), so I started buying Duchy's. But I kept careful count on everyone else's purchases, and as end-game started I realized that I was slightly ahead. And two of the piles - Villagers and Moat - were finished, with two other piles - Market and Black Market - close to finishing. When the time came, and I was fairly sure I was still up a point or two, I chose one of them to end the game.

I should also note that I had managed to purchase two Golds during the game, and lost neither of them to repeated Thieves.

David, meanwhile, had an awesome start, with Villagers, Moats, BM's, and some Markets, but his hand also didn't quite gel. He got to 8 once near the beginning of the game, which made us all a little afraid. But he never bought any treasures, and with all of his drawing and drawing, he was rarely able to get to more than six purchasing power.

Gili and Nadine both used Bureaucrats and Thieves. For some reason, I bought the only Witch.

Eitan, Emily

These guys played this when they arrived, as the four of us were in the middle of another game.

Vegas Showdown

Jon 48, David 42ish, Nadine, Gili

I don't remember the exact scores. First play for David, second play for Gili.

This is another game I don't get out often, and I was wondering if the others didn't like it enough that I should toss it into the trade pile. It just turns out that David had never played it and Gili had forgotten about it. While the graphics are dumb and some of the components a little flimsy, it's actually a great game of money and space management. The event cards and building order add the only real luck into the game, but not enough to ruin the fun.

The events helped David out at the beginning of the game, but at the end of the game, the last event card spoiled his plans by a single dollar, giving me the win (or at least a more secure win; I may have won anyway). David passed the first round, and then overtook the rest of us for a while as we scrambled to gain more money. He neglected nearly entirely the blue side of his board until near the end of the game.

Nadine neatly filled in both sides as well as a corridor between the two. I gained a 6 point boost early on from a lucky event, and then concentrated on victory points with slightly more focus as the game wound down to the end. Although I explained the end game bonus points when we started play, I should probably have repeated them more often to ensure that the others didn't neglect these. I ended up ahead in both income and population, for instance, which the others shouldn't have let happen, and probably won't next game.

In the end, we all really liked the game; a definite keeper. We might try playing with one or more of the event cards on top of the deck revealed, so as to increase planning and minimize luck swings.

Puerto Rico

Emily 49, Nadine 46, Eitan 41

Eitan and Emily played this once, as their second Eurogame, and found it somewhat overwhelming. Now, with several other games under their belt, Nadine got them to return to it, and I think they had a clearer grasp of the game. Nadine didn't ship much, but she and Emily both got big buildings. Emily's good shipping and two big buildings apparently clinched the game.

I didn't see the game, though.

Magic: the Gathering

David+, Jon

We drafted and only managed to get in one game. I had nearly all white, with splashes of Black and Red. Unfortunately, I never saw a Mountain, so the red creature removal cards in my hand just sat there. I knocked David down to 6 points with early weenies, but then I just help on while he built up stronger forces.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 14, 2009

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David, Abraham, Emily, Eitan

Good company.

Bridge Troll

Jon, Nadine, Gili

I was considering trading this. We played it one more time to see. First play for Gili.

Result: Nadine decided she didn't like it, but that's typical with Nadine when she doesn't get the strategy in a game. I still like it - maybe less than other fillers we have - and would keep it, but only if others wanted to play it. Gili thought it was ok, but wasn't enthusiastic. As no one was willing to speak up strongly for it, I decided to trade it.

It's got nice components and the game play works, though it's rough in some places. The game works better with three than it does with six. Six wasn't really fun, as you could go the entire game without scoring any real points. Three players worked fine. Several of the mechanics seemed to exist solely for game balance; I'm guilty of doing the same thing with the Villagers in It's Alive, but that's only one mechanic, not several.

The core of the game-play is blind bidding and the random results of what happens thereafter, which is good if you like that sort of thing, but it's not for my group. Again, it's a decent game, and a lot of groups will like it, hopefully the one to which I'm passing it onto.

Traders of Carthage

Nadine 19, Abraham 17, Gili 15

Playing this filler after Bridge Troll, both Gili and Nadine said that they like this game better.

Magic: the Gathering

David++, Jon+

David and I drafted. I picked up G/R with a splash of W. David had B/G/R. We each had some neat comboes.

David had a mana producer that produced mana of any color his opponent could produce, and then some sunburst cards, which gain bonuses depending on the number of different colors used to cast them. I had an equipment that automatically moves to any new creature that I brought in, and a creature with "champion" that sends a creature out of play while it is in play.

They were fun games, although I lost the second hand because I was shy of mana.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Abraham 13, Nadine 12, Gili 10

First play for Abraham. Not Nadine's usual cup of tea, in part because it's quite longer than Settlers. Their game lasted three and a half hours.


David 26, Jon 23, Emily 23, Eitan 7

First play for Eitan, second for Emily. Emily wasn't thrilled with her first game, mostly because it was dominated by Militias. No Militias in this game, but there were Witches.

Bonus actions were Cellar, Market, and Laboratory. Bonus cash was Workshop and Market. Defense against Witches was Remodel. Getting to 8 cash was nearly impossible, especially with Witches filling our hands with Curses. We also had Garden.

David played a Market - Cellar - Garden strategy. I used an early Remodel hoping to slim down my hand, but early Curses had me struggling to stay even as the game went on. Emily took an early Witch. Eitan didn't make the transition to buying victory points early enough.

I thought I was doing better than Emily, but turns out I was wrong. I did manage to Remodel my one Gold to a Province, which was the only one taken, I think.

Jon 39, Emily 33, David 24, Eitan 19

In this game, the only bonus action was Market. We also had Chapel, Thief, and Bureaucrat. Eitan tried Mines, but Emily kept stealing his Golds. David and Emily both played Thieves, and stole from each other, although Emily was far luckier.

David took a Chapel, but didn't quite get it to work right. I think he's not using them correctly; he thinks he just didn't luck out. He got discouraged mid-game and gave up trying at some point.

I took an early Chapel, let it work wonders, and, though slightly and disconcertingly slowed by an early Thief taking a Copper I actually needed to buy my first Market, still managed to get on a roll. I had no cash at all, but I had 8 of the 10 Markets, and a Workshop. I began rolling Provinces very nicely, but without a Cellar, I slowed down after four or five Provinces. Emily and Eitan both bought one Province before me, using their Bureaucrats and Thieves. Eitan once again didn't transition to accumulating VPs early enough.

Eitan really liked the game, and Emily also enjoyed it more than last time.


Jon/Emily+, David/Eitan

First play for Emily and Eitan, I think they liked it. We played three hands, and I called and made Tichu on two of them.

Monday, October 05, 2009

October 04, 2009: Games Day

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K and Avraham, Binyamin and Zvi Yehuda, Ben and four kids, Roni, Michael and Elijah, Eitan and Emily, Mace and Shachar, Joel, Yosef, Saarya, Ori, Gili and Lotem, Yitzchak, Eliezer, Abraham and Sarah.

Avraham is David's kid. Zvi Yehuda is Binyamin's kid. Roni is here in Israel for a year. Michael is Elijah's father, and has come to other games days and nights. Mace is a friend who plays D&D, used to play Magic, and has come to games day before, with his son Shachar. Joel is a friend of Roni and lives in the area; first time here. Yosef has come a few times before. Ori is a friend of Saarya's. Lotem is Gili's kid. Yitzchak is a former regular who moved to Beit Shemesh. Eliezer is a Beit Shemesh regular. Sarah is Abraham's wife, and has also come on occasion.

We didn't have a second sukkah this year, so games were played both upstairs in the sukkah and down in the apt. It was a fairly hopping day, and things went off smoothly, for the most part. The burger place even got our large complicated order correct.

Games are presented in alphabetical order, rather than the usual chronological.


Roni, Saarya, Gili Zvi Yehuda

I asked Binyamin to bring this, but I didn't get to play it.


Jon 9, Mace 5, Shachar 4

Yay, I got to wipe the floor with two more newbies. Mace didn't like the game after he found out there were no dice in it. Also, he kept trying to figure out why he couldn't do several actions in a single turn, instead of having to use the rondel thingie. It's timing threw him off.

I played unusually aggressive, built a large fleet and destroyed everyone else's temples and cities.

Battlestar Galactica

Binyamin(Cylon)+, Nadine(Cylon)+, Joel, Zvi Yehuda, Abraham

First play for everyone. The Cylons won, revealed. I began sitting in as we tried to learn the rules of the game, but the rules were so complicated and so poorly organized that I ran out of patience. It took nearly an hour and we still didn't know what was going on, and I hadn't had my turn yet. So I gave my seat up to Joel.

The game looked interesting enough, however, and once they got the rules down, it flowed fine, I hear.


Ben/Zvi Yehuda, Binyamin/Nadine, Mace

Some hands were played, with Mace joining at a later time.

Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers

Eitan, Emily, Levana

Levana, one of Ben's kids, taught Eitan and Emily how to play. Apparenly not too well, and they reported that it seemed like she was making up rules as the game went on. They'll need to try it again, I think.


Saarya, Zeev

Saarya played Zeev, one of Ben's kids.


Throughout the day, various people played this, generally the children. The Chess set is made of plastic figures from Star Wars Episode 2.

Cosmic Encounter

Ben/Jon+, Elijah, Eitan, Saarya

First play for Eitan, which explains why he let me win by inviting me to ally with him when it gave my my fifth base. I took over for Ben when he had to go out for a short while. Changeling and Filth were both in the game.

Binyamin+, Elijah, Michael, Joel, Abraham

All of the others had super powers: Vampire, Fungus, Void, etc. Binaymin won with Crystal while they were all fighting each other.


Jon 27, Ben, David, Avraham

We started Games Day with this. The set included tons of powerhouse cards, including Chapel, Cellar, Village, Festival, Smithy. I Chapel'd away my three Estates on my third round, and bought four Festivals, the others got 3, 2, and 1 Festival.

When I won, they all complained that I won because of my 5/2 start, though none of the others took Chapel.

Ben 25, Jon 24, David, Avraham

So we played again with the same set, and we all agreed that each person had to start 4/3. The others took Villages and I took Chapel. And I once again began fine tuning my deck, first dropping three coppers, and then three Estates.

This time I didn't get Festivals as fast as the others, but it still looked like I was winning. Turns out that Ben, with his Bureaucrat squeaked in a win with a final victory point. Beats me how he did it.

David, Ben, Avraham

They played this again later.

Ben, Nadine, Yosef

Played later in the day. After paying, Nadine declared that she doesn't like the game, because other players can simply play your entire turn for you.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

Binyamin (White)+, Zvi Yehuda (Black)

Played as an opener. I think Zvi Yehuda hadn't played before.

Magic: the Gathering

David, Roni

I was going to play Magic with David, but Roni ended up playing instead.

Jon/David++, Ben

Later, Ben and I took random cards and made decks. Mine was a killer deck with black creature kill, red damage splash, and white flyers and soldiers. Ben's was less killer, shall we say, but did have that incredible Equipment that gains a +1/+1 counter every time its wearer deals damage, which is practically a game ended in and of itself (in fact, David and I won't play with in sealed).

Even with my better deck, I only squeaked out a victory over Ben in the first game. David took over for the second game, and he had less problems, apparently.

Market of Alturien

Mace+, Shachar, David, Avraham, Zvi Yehuda

First play for everyone. Binyamin brought and taught it. I had never even heard of it.

Notre Dame

Nadine 58, Eitan, Emily, Jon 38

Played to end game night. First plays for Emily and Eitan. Emily was off to a great start with double park on turn 1. But Nadine's cars and cube swapping powers swamped us all in mid-game. Just in round 6, I think she netted some 25 points.

Emily said that this was her favorite game, so far.

Pirate's Cove

Gili, Lotem, three of Ben's kids

Gili taught this to Ben's kids.

Pitch Car

I asked Nadine to bring this as I figured correctly that it would keep littler kids amused throughout the day.

Princes of Florence

Ben 60, Eliezer 57, Mace 54, Shachar 48, Jon 47

First game for Mace and Shachar. Five players is a tight game, and the auctions were difficult. I thought I wasn't doing too badly, but I had to go back 5 points for get a second Jester that I desperately needed. Ben won nearly every game today, I think.

Puerto Rico

Yitzchak 44, Nadine 42, Yosef, Ori

First play for either Yosef or Ori, or both. They scored 39 and 35. Close game.


Zvi Yehuda, Avraham

Played somewhere in mid-day.

Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm

Abraham+, Elijah, Michael, Saarya, Ori

First play for most of the others. Abraham is nearly unbeatable at this, having played several hundred times online. This was played early in the day.

Abraham+, Elijah, Eliezer, Yitzchak

These guys played this near the end of the day.

Eliezer+, Elijah, Abraham, Yitzchak

And then they played again.

Yitzchak 49, Abraham 41, Elijah 39, Eliezer

And again.

Abraham, Elijah

And again. This time without the expansion, I believe.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Michael 3, Jon 2

An exciting game of this was played toward evening. I began with Rock, forgetting that that's an all too common opener. It still beat Michael's Scissors.

Then I did Scissors to his Rock. 1-1. After that things got tense for several milliseconds. We both did Scissors, and then I did Scissors again to Michael's Paper. 2-1 for me. I did Scissors again to Michael's Rock: 2-2.

We then tied again Rock to Rock, and finally, Michael brought out a Paper to my Rock, clinching a hard-won victory of 3-2. Close game, though.

San Juan

Nadine 41, Elijah 39, Roni 38, Eitan 36

Played as a games day opener, first play for Eitan and Roni. Ron had previously played Puerto Rico, however.

Shadows Over Camelot

Elijah (Traitor)+, Yosef, Saarya, Roni, Eitan

Amusingly, this was being played at the same time as Battlestar Galactica, occupying both tables in the sukkah.


Binyamin, Zvi Yehuda

Binyamin taught this to Zvi Yehuda, but they stopped in the middle.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

October 02, 2009

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, Eitan, Emily, Abraham, Bill

Usually I skip game night before a Games Day, because it's also a few days before holiday. But I figured, what the heck? I didn't take notes, so this will be a poor session report.


Gili 23, Nadine, Jon

Gili toasted us.

Gili+, Nadine, Jon, Eitan, Emily

First play for Emily and Eitan. I think Gili toasted us again, but this time Eitan and Nadine didn't show too poorly.


Jon 164, Bill 161, Gili 130something

First play for Bill, second for Gili and me. I took this out once a while ago, and no one wanted to play it again, not because it was Bad, but because it had a poor mechanic or two and wasn't great. I thought it was ok, though. So I wanted to take it out at least one more time, to see if we were keeping or trading it.

In the end, it's got a poor mechanic or two (but not that poor) and it wasn't great. One bad mechanic is the "complete the turn" mechanic, which works well in non-interactive games, such as race games, but doesn't work well in area control or otherwise interactive games. It induces a fear for the first player to end the round, since everyone else will have a chance after him, while the last player can always decide whether or when to end the round.

I;m also not thrilled about games where the players have the ability to speed up the game end with dumb plays, too.

Other than those things, the game is good, a lot like Through the Desert actually. Connect to your water holes (markets), create large groups, score in a variety of ways. It's enjoyable enough, just like TtD is (TtD doesn't have the drawbacks, though, but it's a bit more serene).

In our game, I was first player. They each built huge blocks of one territory, raking in cash and big bonus points. I built a bunch of small territories, hoping for the cascading bonus, which I got. I wasn't sure it would be enough to beat them out in the end, however. I was actually behind on the first scoring round by a few points.

When there was only one card left to draw in the animal deck at the end of the second round, everything just went into a holding pattern. I couldn't afford to end the game, and Gili took as much time as necessary to eke out more points (hoping to be more than we got in the process). Finally, she ended the game out of boredom (never a good sign).

Year of the Dragon

Nadine 97, Eitan+, Abraham-, Emily

First play for Eitan and Emily, second perhaps for Abraham. Nadine as usual swooped to victory with final scoring of many people and buddhas. Eitan's last play was to move forward on the timing track, having nothing else to do. It ended up giving him the tie lead over Abraham.

It's Alive

Eitan+, Abraham, Nadine, Emily

First play for Emily and Eitan. Eitan finished his board first. Abraham ended up with massive amounts of cash, but few points.

At the end of the night, Nadine also taught Abraham how to play Robo Rally.