Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 28, 2010

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

We didn't split into two groups, for some inexplicable reason.

Dominion/Dominion Intrigue

Abraham 57, Nadine 51, Jon 48, Bill

Kingdoms: Council Room, Library, Spy, Workshop, Courtyard, Shanty Town, Baron, Mining Village, Duke, Torturer

I've never played with Shanty Town or Duke, and I've only played once with Courtyard, Baron, or Torturer. I considered Duke for a while, but instead decided to pursure a general 2 action/draw 3 cards strategy. My strategy netted me 7 of the 12 provinces, so it worked well. However, as you can see from the scores, it didn't work well enough.

Avraham went for early Duchy's, gaining 5 before everyone else stole the rest from him (Nadine had 4, I had 1, Bill had 2). Which means that all of his Dukes were worth 5 points each. I had more provinces than he had Dukes, but then you add in his Duchys.

What I don't get is how he managed to buy as much as he did with so many early VP cards. Apparently early Barons and Silvers were enough to do the trick.

Nadine followed a strategy similar to Abraham, but a bit behind him. Still, it surprised me even more that even she managed to beat my score. She was very satisfied with this, as she was annoyed that I used Torturer several times during the game.

Robo Rally

Abraham+, Bill, Jon, Eitan, Emily, Nadine

And so, this was one of the few games that we could find that would sensibly accommodate all six of us (I thought of Antike a moment too late).

First play for Eitan and Emily, second for Abraham. Bill had played this once many years ago.

Rules: I used one board (Pit Trap) and two flags, without having to return to start. We each started with one option, and you didn't lose the option when you died (but you did restart with two damage points, and you could only die twice; you're out if you die three times). Also, you could decide at the end of the round if you wanted to power down on the next round.

The game took about 3.5 hours, which was too long for Nadine. It was one of the few times I've played the game where there was real competition and tension until the end.

Emily started the game by walking into a pit, and then did it again, and then spent the rest of the game on the wrong side of the board, trying (futilely, as it turns out) to avoid dying a third time.

Eitan was the first to touch the first flag, and though he had died twice, he looked like he might make it to the second flag. However, Bill, who had also touched the first flag by that point, targeted him and managed to shoot and push him off the edge of the board at the same time.

Nadine also managed to die three times, but she wasn't too unhappy about it, as her head was hurting by that point.

I only died once, and I came close to the first flag a few times, but each time I was blocked. By the end of the game, I finally touched the flag, and then I walked off the side of the board (for my second death) so that I could reappear closer to the second flag. I was one or two rounds back from Bill and Abraham, however.

Bill and Abraham had to figure out how to rest on the second flag by the end of the game, without having the other one push him off the board. Luckily for Abraham, Bill simply couldn't draw the right turn cards to position himself to shoot Abraham as he had shot Eitan, and so Abraham took the win.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 21, 2010

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Binyamin, David K, Lori, Abraham

I lost all my notes and am posting this late, so it is incomplete.


Nadine, Lori, Gili, David

First play for Lori.


Abraham 80, Nadine, Lori

First play for Nadine and lori, who both liked it. Abe writes: I won with 80 something dollars, don't remember other people's scores.

Nadine writes: Lori was second in Container, about 10 pts less than Abe, I had a bit more than 10 less than her. I had money but only 2 containers on the island and had to throw out one.

Puerto Rico

Lori/Jon 60, Nadine 54, Abraham 47

Lori had to leave midway, and I inherited her position. I studied the setup for a minute or two and then asked if we were, perhaps, missing 5 VP, which we were. As a result, I bought Harbor instead of a big building (Nadine already had Guild Hall). With both Factory and Harbor, I competed well with Abe on shipping (he had Wharf and Harbor) and Nadine on building (she had Factory).

Age of Empires III

David 97, Jon 91, Binyamin 88, Gili

First play for David and Binyamin, second for Gili. I don't remember too much about the game, except that Binyamin prevented me from getting a merchant ship I wanted in round 8.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 14, 2010

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Ben, Binyamin, Abraham, Emily, Eitan, Joan, Lori, Bill

Lori returned for her second session. Joan is Eitan's grandmother, and she came to play Bridge, for which she found willing participants. Ben and Binyamin both returned after long absences, returning some games they had borrowed several weeks ago.

Robber Knights

Ben 29, Gili 28, Binyamin 27, Jon 23

First play for Ben and Gili, second play for me and Binyamin. Nadine didn't want to play, so sat off to the side. Midway through the game, Binyamin remembered that he didn't want to play, either, but managed to finish the game.

Most of our game group doesn't like tile-laying area control games, such as this, Carcassonne, Taluva, and similar. Binyamin in particular thinks this game is more dull than most. I disagree. I don't think it's a fantastic game, but I'm happy to play it and I don't think it's boring. At least, when your opponents move at a reasonable clip.

Ben took quite some time to make his moves, which is part of what frustrated Binyamin, and me a little. There's not enough game there to think that long. Still, he won, so there you go.

Dominion + Intrigue + Seaside

Jon 45, Emily 30, Bill (Lori) 27, Eitan 23

Scores approximate. I tried to teach this to Lori, but her eyes kept glazing over. Eventually, Bill sat down to "help" her, but he ended up playing while Lori watched.

We had two reaction cards and no attacks. Nothing that gave 2 actions, but we had Upgrade and Remodel. We had the card that gave +1 action/+1 card/+1 VP, and the one that gave +2 coins and +1 action/+1 card if this was the third or later action on your turn.

Emily and Eitan tried combination of the latter two cards, while I remodeled my way to glory.

Emily+, Eitan, Bill

The next game they played took a few hours, but it was interspersed with a lot of general chit-chat between them and other non-playing people in the room.

Summoner Wars

Gili++, Abraham

First play for both of them, Abraham brought this, the first of several games he recently acquired. They both appeared to be having fun. I think Gili won at least two games.


Ben/Binyamin, Jon/Nadine

We played a few hands.

Ben/Binyamin, Joan/Nadine

They played several more hands. Joan is quite an experienced player.

Jon 3380, Joan 2100, Nadine 1600, Ben 1200

We played a 12 game round robin, changing partners after every four hands. Vulnerability was None, Dealer, Dealer, All. Scoring was duplicate.

Ben played Bridge for three and a half hours and drew an opening hand twice, 12 and 11 points once each, and the rest of his hands were 10 or less points. It's hard to win non-duplicate with that kind of luck.

In our first pair-up, Nadine and I scored two games, then went down 2. In the last hand, Ben and Joan scored a partial with overtricks. In the next set, Joan and I scored two games, set our opponents once, and then went down 1.

In the last set, Ben had no hope of winning since I was ahead of him and he was my partner. Our opponents made a game, but we set them three times, once for 500 points.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

April 07, 2010

Participants: Jon, David, Nadine, Lori, Gili, Abraham

Lori is a new attendee who found us through an Internet search. She had no gaming experience.

It's Alive

Lori+, David, Jon, Nadine, Gili

I don't prefer this five player, but this one moved ok. And it was nice for the new player to win. We played the basic game.

Settlers of Catan

Lori 10, Jon 9, Gili 8

And she won this one, too, but it was pretty close. I got hit by the robber three times, and was one card away from stealing Longest Road from her.

After two new games, Lori couldn't handle learning any other new ones.

Power Grid

David 15, Nadine 14, Abraham 13

It looked like Nadine was winning through most of the game, but, as is usual for Power Grid, only the last few rounds really made a difference. They played on France.


Jon, Gili, Lori

Lori couldn't handle any new games, but she could play this. Gili, on the other hand, is a native Hebrew speaker, so this was a challenge for her. I'm fairly facile at the game.

To balance the game, we played with handicaps. I could only find words of five letters or more, Lori had to find four letters, and Gili three letters. We earned for any words not on the other players' lists, and +1 bonus point for each letter beyond our minimum (so I earned 2 points for a six letter word). This worked fairly well.

Gili won about half the games, but not by a large amount. We had a few boards where I couldn't find any five letter words, though I could see a number of four letter words that the others missed.


Jon/Abraham 1090, David/Nadine 1010

A complete game, which lasted about 2 hours and 12 rounds. Abraham bid and made two grand tichu's. Scoring was very close the entire game.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

March 31, 2010: Games Day

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

Despite my efforts, there was a Games Day this year. Gili hosted as I wasn't able to, and fun was had. I only showed up at 5:00 or so.

Age of Empires III

Jon 115, Nadine 110, Gili 109

First game for each of them, second game (first three-player game) for me. We had no conflicts during the game. That may have been because of the personalities of the players, or that investing in conflict takes a lot of precious resources for little reward. Though it causes the other players to have to invest a little in defense.

Otherwise, the game was tighter than the two-player game, but just as good. I was pretty sure that Nadine was kicking our butts, as she got her economic engine off to a fantastic start. Toward mid and end-game however, I/we were no longer sure, as I had several discovered territories and Gili had a nice bonus buildings. We were right, as it came down to the wire.

Nadine might have won if she had invested in more buildings earlier. Gili would have won if she had succeeded in her last discovery attempt (a loss of 7 or 8 vps). So, yeah, that little part of the game is somewhat annoying, but it is actually a minor part of the game. And you don't even have to spend your time on discoveries, if you don't want to.

Nice game. Looking forward to playing it with four and five players.

Nadine adds: Age of Empires III is a good basic Euro.

Blood Red Sands (RPG)

Bill (GM), Elijah, Abraham, Emily, Eitan

Bill says: By the end of the session, we each had 0 victory points.

We were mostly able to learn the rules, but there are still some points that need clarification. The ordeal creation portion of the game took several hours, probably because we were still learning the rules. This was bad for the hero player, because he had to be out of the room for that period. He thought he finished his character very early but actually had not, because he had not made the background. I didn't explain this to him initially because I wasn't there when he thought he finished and also because I was so involved in the ordeal creation and answering rules questions. Also, being a lot like Universalis, I'm not sure this is appropriate as a pickup game, since (in my experience) this type of game seems very dependent on the personality mix of the group.

There was one contention for the position of Chronicler, which was successful. Since I was very inexperienced and the other players were very very inexperienced, play was a bit rocky after that, but picked up after a while. The total length of actual play was fairly short though, because most of the play time was consumed in ordeal creation.

During the only clash that happened that night, I was constantly referring back to the rules for clarification because I didn't have a full enough understanding, which took away from the overall play experience and I think gave the rules the appearance of greater complexity than there really was.

The end result was that after the game, at least one player had the impression that the Blood Red Sands was more complex than D&D 4e. I don't believe it is, but I blame my shallow understanding of the rules for that impression. To play it successfully as a pickup game, I think at least one player has to have a deep understanding of the rules and none of us did last night.

David & Goliath

Abraham+, Elijah, Nadine

Played as a filler.

El Grande

Abraham 111, Nadine 103, Elijah 100, Gili, Cliff

Nadine says: It was a great game, very close, with each player in the lead at different times. At the start of the third scoring round we were all within a few points. In the last turn, Gili put the king in Abe's region to keep it away from where her guys were. He scored with it 3 times - once when he took score one region, when I took score all the four regions, and at the end of the game. Cliff hadn't played before but is a war gamer and caught on quickly, though he missed how the castillo works the first scoring round.

Hunting Party

Jon 25, Nadine 9, Gili

First play for me, second for Nadine and Gili. I scored a pretty combination of cards at the start of the game: a) pay 3 to take back a share, and b) eliminate the cost of some other ability. So each round I got back a share, for free. I won when Nadine ended the game and I had lots of cash.

It's an ok game that seems somewhat unbalanced and not quite the sum of its parts. There's not much game there. On the one hand, it's better than Clue, with which it shares a genre. On the other, the mechanics just aren't that interesting.

Nadine adds: Hunters doesn't feel strategic, and is too long. I shouldn't have fought at the end but forgot that I only get a share of the money. If I hadn't, the game would have gone on for at least half an hour, and I don't think I could have won. I should have gotten more than I did for guessing right and having all the right things, though of course that's at the expense of keeping shares. Jon had good cards and played well with lots of money the whole time.

Shadows Over Camelot

Abraham, Gili, Elijah, Nadine, Emily, Eitan, Bill

The loyalists won. Bill was the traitor, but he only arrived for the last two rounds of the game, and so didn't have much chance. Nadine adds: Shadows is always a lot of fun somehow.