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.
GeschenktGili 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.
HaciendaJon 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 DragonNadine 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 AliveEitan+, 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.