Gili brought her friend Nechama. She pretty much spoke only Hebrew, and my Hebrew isn't terribly good. I hope she enjoyed herself.
San JuanElijah 39, Jon 37, Mace 35, Nadine 32
I haven't played this in a while, mostly because I really wish it had a good expansion. I generally remember the game as good, but not particularly special, but when I play it it's always a slightly better game than I remember.
Nadine wasn't particularly looking forward to playing it. This was Mace's first play.
Elijah started with an early Prefecture followed by an early Library and Tobacco. Nadine started with Coffee and Mace with Carpenter. I had nothing to build in the first round. I finally got a Prefecture going by round 3, however, and Nadine built the third. Meanwhile, Mace built Quarry to go with his Carpenter and also ended the game with both City Hall and Palace.
I had Guild Hall, but it wasn't enough.
R-EcoDavid 26, Nechama 15, Gili 10
First play for Nechama. David was the only player who tossed out cards, and he tossed out 8 of them. Apparently illegal dumping pays off.
Taj MahalElijah 34, Gili 32, Nechama 32, Mace 29, Nadine 28
First plays for Nechama and Mace. It was apparently Elijah's night, and apparently not Nadine's night.
Oddly for a five player game, commodities didn't do to well and path connections did pretty well. I saw a few fierce battles out of the corner of my eye.
Magic: the GatheringDavid+++, Jon+
We played with roughly the same cards that I played with Mace last time, having not properly mixed the random card pile before drafting.
I honestly thought that I had a decent chance at winning a few games with a W/G deck, 8 Plains to 6 Forests and mostly white cards. However most of my games came down to mana screw again. I drew 5 forests and no plains for much of the first game. I drew 3 forests and no other land at all for nearly all of the last game.
I won game 2 partly because David didn't draw quite enough land to support his G/U/R deck, and partly because he drew a few times from his discards by accident instead of from his deck. I thought I was dong well, with a few white cards that sent his creatures back to his deck and a few direct disenchant spells, neutralizing all of his enchantments. But apparently I was fooling myself.
I was doing fine in game 3, but I left myself blockerless at 14 life against his 1/1 creature, and he won instantly with two Giant Growth's and a spell that lets his creature deal its power in damage to target creature or player.
MuDavid 217, Mace 129, Jon 108, Nadine 55, Elijah 36
I gave this game the short shrift after our previous and first encounter with it, as it seemed like the strength of your cards determined your success and that the play with five players was somewhat random. It appeared to work better with four players, but that made the game kind of irrelevant since there are some much better four-player card games at hand.
Feedback on the Geek guilted me into giving this another try. Elijah and Nadine both vaguely remembered not liking the game, but unspecifically enough that they were willing to try it again. This was the first play for both David and Mace.
This time was a much better experience. In fact, even Nadine admitted that she found the game interesting after a few hands. Everyone else also said that they liked it.
I got a lot of laughs when explaining the rules, which are not really that complicated, though each of the few major rules has a number of niggly points to make it work, and the two tables (bid vs points required, points taken vs bonus) just have to be memorized or referred to on each hand. But it's really not all that complicated if you're used to other trick taking or bidding games, especially those that reward points based on the specific cards taken (as opposed to tricks taken).
The each-man-for-himself aspect works fairly well. As the hands progressed we began to feel the game was less random, and possibly even less luck-dependent on the cards (thought still highly so), and more for the strategy of the bidding and play. And our bidding got more aggressive.
Looks like this will hit the table again, after all.