Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 22, 2009

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

Game night moved to Tuesday, since my lady love was coming home on Wednesday. Once again we were in the middle of a game when Eitan and Emily came. Last time they ended up playing with each other, but this time I divided my attention between two games so as to include them.


Gili 34, Abraham 33, Nadine 32, Jon 26

First play for all of us, we struggled to understand the terse rulebook for some time. I eventually clarified some issues on BGG.

This was an enjoyable game, another hit with the group. We've had so many of those lately, and I'd like to start playing some of them a second time! It was also another infrastructure building game with multiple paths. As usual, when none of us could tell exactly how everything was going to fit together, we had no idea which paths to take, so we played fairly randomly until things began to gel.

Abraham was ahead in VPs, but well behind in production. He wasn't that hampered with this, as his infrastructure included discounts on what he wanted to buy, anyway. Gili had vast amounts of storage potential and production, which worked well together, of course. She also took the other Ship, and was able to outbid me for the final items. In contrast, I had pitiful storage, and had to toss out some of my cash a few times.

I'm not entirely happy with the one major random element of the game, which is drawing cash cards with values between 4 and 6. Nadine pointed out that it's an important element of the game, since you shouldn't know precisely how much another player can afford during bidding. I'm not all that convinced. The rest of the game worked very well.

Atlantic Star

Jon 81, Eitan 75, Emily 66

First play for Eitan and Emily. I took the opportunity to teach them a game that the others aren't crazy about, but which I like a lot.

Our only problem here was the crayon with which we write the route values. Whenever we tried to write something, it looked like smeared lipstick. So we had to try to remember what the numbers were.

Emily and I both took vast moneys from one of our routes, allowing us to toss the pile several times each near the game end. Eitan took more conservative values from his routes.

Alice and Wonderland Parade

Abraham 11, Nadine 22, Jon 36

First games for Abraham. Nadine taught him how to play for half a game, and then the three of us restarted. Abraham drew all the brown cards, and he took nothing but browns and one other card (a 3, I think).

Meanwhile, Nadine and I were fighting for control of several colors, piling on vast amounts of cards. In the end, the color I lost in was worth much more than the color that she lost in.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 16, 2009

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

Hanukkah gaming.

Hare and Tortoise

Abraham+, Nadine, Jon, Gili

I started us off with this little guy. First play for all of us. I understood that this is supposed to be a kids' game, really, which is true if you consider the graphics. But it's more intelligent that any mainstream roll and move game, and challenging enough for adults.

This is a race game where the object is to be the first to cross the finish line. There's dice rolling, but not for movement; it's for the results of what happens when you land on certain spaces. You move 1, 2, 3, ... spaces by expending 1, 3, 6, ... carrots. So your job is to find ways to acquire more carrots for more movement, as well as rid yourself of three lettuces and block the spaces your opponent's require (only one rabbit per space). It's a lot of jockeying for position; last place gets bonus carrots on several occasions. It's even nicely thematic.

Fun game for a filler, or with kids.


Abraham, Jon, Nadine, Gili

First play for all of us. Nadine had gone home with the game to learn the rules and gamely tried to explain them to us, but I had to take over after confusion reined.

Cuba is a meaty Euro, a little simpler than Puerto Rico but in the same vein. The problem is that every game that tries to be in the same vein as Puerto Rico but simpler ends up being unfavorably compared to Puerto Rico. Cuba is no exception.

You've got a few dozen different VP paths, and every building is available for purchase at the beginning of the game, which makes the first few games an exercise in figuring out how the parts of the game mesh together. We all scored pretty closely.

Nadine is under the impression that further games are also going to score closely, so long as people with the same experience levels play each other. This may be true, or it may be that a few good plays can score a wild swing in the points during one or two turns. We just don't know yet. In any case, experienced players should certainly do better than non-experienced ones. Abraham also liked it, but less than he liked some other new games.

I enjoyed the game, and I look forward to studying it more.


Eitan, Emily

Unfortunately for these two, they came when we were starting Cuba, and so tried to play Amyitis on their own, including learning it on their own. I had played it once, but didn't remember enough to teach it.

They weren't thrilled with it, claiming that certain things don't seem to work well. I'm pretty sure that they must have gotten something wrong. I remember liking it when I played it (enough to buy it) although I do recall that one of the cards was somewhat better than the others, and so the number that appeared each round had a strong effect on one's success.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 09, 2009

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

We're plowing through the new board games. We started the evening by punching out many of the unpunched ones. Moments before game night started, I received my Secret Santa gift, which turned out to be Cuba, so we punched that one, too.

Alice and Wonderland Parade

Gili 11, David 13, Elijah, Nadine

I started the game, and then David sat down in my place. I was hoping he would be able to figure out the rules just from watching what people did, but I explained it to him after all. Everyone enjoys this game. Nadine thinks it's pretty random.

Dominion: Intrigue

Nadine 45ish, Gili 33ish, Elijah 32ish

For some reason, I've stopped taking notes at game nights, and thus don't know what happened in this one.

Magic: the Gathering

David+, Jon

We drafted, including the 39 new cards I brought back from America (not enough to really make much of a difference). I ended up with a wide mix of cards, and had a hard time getting down to two colors and a splash; I had no multi-mana cards.

I played BR with a splash of green (I just couldn't leave out "GG3: all your creatures deal damage as though they weren't blocked"). I don't recall what David played, but I didn't get to play my fancy green card.


Nadine, David, Elijah, Gili

First play of this for everyone. Everyone was at first very confused about strategy, with so many options and no clue as to what to do first. Around mid-game, David and Nadine both said that they were enjoying it. Elijah had to leave after the eighth round, so they removed one of the columns of cards and continued.

At the end of the game, each player spent a very, very long time trying to figure out the optimum path to maximize points, which dragged the game to a halt. As a result, they said that the game was awfully fiddly. Hmmmmm.

I will have to try it out. I'm wondering if the fiddliness will disappear as you become use to the options. I don't recall who won.


Eitan+ 39, Jon+ 36, Emily, Ksenia

First play of this for everyone. This is a very good worker placement game, which we all enjoyed.

The entire game lasted only five rounds, which was rather quick (though it took us some time to explain the game and play the rounds on our first play). Essentially collect sets of cards, and use those to collect items required for victory (or items that will grant you other items required for victory), so as to fulfill a variable victory condition. And each item also gives various benefits, all themed to ancient Rome.

Everyone else took a lot of coins, while I took almost none, gaining the few I needed from benefits. It seemed to work ok. I couldn't win any auctions, but there weren't many that I cared about.

On the fifth round, it was clear that both Eitan and I were going to have three of the six conditions necessary for victory, and we only needed three of them to win a four player game. Knowing this, I should have gone for the strategy that would have let me fulfill mine before Eitan fulfilled his, which would have been a bonus of two points more for me and less for him; I also would have forgone some other points but in favor of a gain of an equal number elsewhere. And the final result would have been me winning by a single point.

Oh well. First game is for learning.

Friday, December 04, 2009

December 02, 2009

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

I'm back, with many games from BGG.con. I wanted to break out two of them, but David insisted that I wait, since I would have to do all the explaining for both.

Dominion: Intrigue

Nadine 16, Eitan 10, Jon 9, David 8

Breaking out the new Dominion expansions didn't count, because we already knew how to play Dominion. I'd played with a few cards here and there, but the others hadn't.

Intrigue make planning harder, since a number of cards cycle or trash cards out of other player's hands. That may be more fun for people who like chaos, but it's a bit negative to those who like planning. Still, only a bit, since Dominion's usual chaos outweighs the chaos from those cards.

Many of the cards give nice choices and combos.

We played only with Intrigue cards, including ... oh ... whatever. Suffice to say, the most frequently heard statement was not "Damn, I've got seven", but "Damn, I've got four". And four wasn't much use.

It took me forever to get to five or higher. I think, in the entire game, I got to 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 each exactly once. No one is quite sure how Nadine won, including Nadine. But she got two Provinces well before anyone else could.

Dominion: Seaside

Abraham 36, Gili 28, Emily 26

I think Eitan and Emily had both played with Seaside cards online. Gili hadn't. I didn't see the game.


David/Eitan 200, Jon/Nadine 155

We played this while we waited for Seaside to finish. David and Eitan both went out first on the first hand. On the second hand, I called and made Tichu.

Le Havre

Jon 109, Abraham 96, Gili 59, Nadine 42

I may have the bottom two scores mixed up, but whatever. First play for everyone except me, second play for me. We played the short game, which was around 3.5 hours long, including setup (first time for me) and explanation. Second game should go somewhat shorter.

Abraham and I love the game. Nadine complained starting around mid-way through until the end that the game is too complicated and not enough fun. I said that, like Agricola, you have to know the flow of the game and all the cards and how they can work before you can possibly understand what to do during the game. When Nadine got home, she emailed me that she thinks the longer game with the special buildings and more time to pay off ships will be a better game.

I think the only thing we got wrong was that Abraham sorted the buildings by build value instead of card number. That made the wharves come out fairly late.

Abraham bought or built buildings at every opportunity. Even when they didn't help his VP value, he gained by not having to pay for the building, or having others pay him for them. He also smartly bought the buildings which produced the most food, and these were used the most often. But he had to sell a building once or twice.

My first game I ignored the ships and just sent my goods over to the bridge at the end of the game (netting 19 points). This time I tried to do the ships, but I'm fairly sure I did something wrong with the approach, and I was only able to use my ship once, at the end of the game. Of course, that may be because I built the last two available buildings, which net me 40 points in the process (so was probably worth it).

Gili and Nadine both struggled with debt, and they also couldn't see all the cards and so missed some opportunities, as well as some rules, being their first game.

Pillars of the Earth

David, Emily, Eitan

David agreed to play one of the previous games, so as not to have to wait for my explanation. But it was the first play of this for both Eitan and Emily.

I didn't see the results, but I assume David won.

San Juan

Eitan, Emily

First play for both, the game ended in a tie.