Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 23, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Mace, Gili, Tal

Quiet game night.


Mace 1/2/2/x, Gili 1/1/2/x, Nadine, Jon

Mace selected this again, determined to win at least once. The last time I played, I thought that the game might grow on me some more if I played it more. Nope.

On the contrary. I have now fully formed my opinion that the game is unenjoyable. The main mechanic is to hope that a field that you have planted will flip up before it is ruined by someone else or by a plague. The second is to hope that you draw cards that don't duplicate what you've already scored or what is flipped up, and that exceed what others have in play. All of this hoping is not only boring, it is also skewed. The game is too short (even when played several times through the deck) and the times your field is picked too infrequent, unless you're amazingly lucky.

It's slightly better with two players.


Mace 705, Jon 625, Gili 565, Nadine 505

First play for Mace, second for Nadine. I played the version called Traders of Genoa a few times. Back when I did, I thought the game was grossly long, and we had shortened the game by two turns ... and had still been too long. I suggested that for this game we also shorten the game by two turns. Gili suggested a compromise of shortening the game by one turn.

In what is probably a first for our game group, we actually sailed through the first rounds at a relatively good speed. After three rounds, I suggested that we re-add the turn that we had removed, and so we did. The game took us only a little over 2.5 hours.

I concentrated on two early Large deliveries, which I thought did me some good; they did. But it prevented my concentrating at all on the end game scroll collecting. Mace meanwhile started collecting these, and while he didn't have much cash in hand, he ended with a fist full of them.

When calculating whether or not to trade these cards to him, I valued them at only up to 50 (for him, but only 10 for me). Turns out that I had undervalued them; when he was able to join two groups of three into a group of seven, he ended up with far more than a 50 point gain.

Nadine is not much of a negotiator: she often wants to ignore that part of the game, or she sticks steadfastly to a negotiating position which is not all based on actual value. Still, she played gamely and I think enjoyed herself. Gili was the one who brought the game, and she had played some (rather long) games with her friends already.


Mace/Nadine 1000+, Jon/Tal ---

Tal joined me for a game of Tichu; we had to remind Mace how the game was played, and how the special cards worked. Mace bid and made a Grand Tichu on the second hand (though Tal missed a chance to prevent him from making it). I bid Tichu only once, and lost. I also misplayed a different hand. The result was rather pathetic.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feb 16, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Mace, David K, Avi K

David returned after a long absence, and brought his son Avi.


Mace, Gili, Nadine, Jon/Avi

Mace wanted to play this for the filler game. He started off quite well. I gave up my position to Avi when he came, because he likes the game more than I do, though I think the game may grow on me if I play it several more times. I don't know what the results were, if any.

Carson City

David 60something, Mace 40something, Avi

First plays for David and Avi, Mace taught them. I don't know much else about the game, but I think they all enjoyed it.


Gili 110something, Nadine 90something, Jon 80something

This is what happens when I don't write scores down. First play for all of us, we learned some of the rules and all of the strategy as we played.

At first the game seemed interminably long and complex, as Euros tend to do. Just setting up the game took an hour; and, like Le Havre, the game pieces are not easily stacked on the board and tend to make a complete mess, unless you invest in some kind of cup holder system for the parts.

"Like Le Havre" is also the feel we had for the great number of pieces and turn methodology in the game. Unfortunately, Le Havre is just on the other side of the border that Agricola just manages to just stay within: a great sprawling complex game which is fun, but only if all the players are experienced and able to take their turns in a timely manner. And yet difficult to get that experience and hard to take one's turns in a timely manner.

The game is a series of rondels and queues, around eight of them. The main one is the action rondel. On your turn, you move the action marker that you used last time to the front of the queue and then you take any available free action, except the one you used last time. If you take an action not used often (i.e. further back in the queue) you get some money, though not much.

The actions are either a) move a marker around one of the rondels and take one of the items now marked (or pay to move the marker more spaces), or b) take one of the items in one of the queues (for free if at the front of the queue, or pay a little extra for items later in the queue).

When you complete a "ship", you gain points for various items on your ship and how well those items match other items on your waterways. At the end of the game, you gain points for items you have acquired during the game in from hidden missions, most of which must be on ships that you've completed.

There. That's probably the quickest explanation ever for this complex a game.

Nadine, as usual, found it dry at the beginning; she tends to judge games harshly if the tactics and strategy are not more accessible, espeically if they have a lot of pieces. I think she began to soften a bit as the game came to a close, mostly because she beat me. Gili managed a triumphant first ship of 24 points, and then some great end scoring to boot.

I look forward to playing again, but I'm not sure how often it will make it to the table.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 09, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Mace, Gili

Quiet game night.


Nadine 38, Gili 20, Mace 19, Jon 15

Kingdoms: Workshop, Smithy, Council Room, Embargo, Ambassador, Navigator, Vault, Grand Market, King's Court, Peddler. No other Prosperity cards.

Kingdoms costing from 2 to 8. No bonus actions before 6 cost, and no double actions except for King's Court. This was our first play for certain Seaside and Prosperity cards. Nadine didn't understand Ambassador's value; while it seemed to work for both me and Mace, Nadine's ultimate victory may be a counter-argument. She ended with 5 provinces and 8 estates.

I passed up the opportunity to buy provinces twice, which was a mistake. Everyone had 8 or more purchasing power quite early, so the game went too few rounds. King's Court was used three times, and always on Council Room.


Jon 53, Mace 40, Nadine 38, Gili 25

The game went for 2:50, which I think was probably pretty quick for us. This time I had a kind of feeling that I was doing well, even though I hadn't accumulated any points by round 8 or 9.

Nadine's major mission in Agricola is to be the first to expand her family, and that's what she did. Mace followed, and I came next. However, the two rounds I was waiting to expand gave me time to add a fourth room onto my house. Thus, after Gili expanded, I expanded again.

Nadine had an early fireplace (her other top priority) and a pasture with several cattle. Mace had what looked like over 20 grain by mid-to-end game. Gili had 5 empty field spaces and only three family members at game end. I also had 12 points in bonus cards.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

February 02, 2011

Participants: Jon, Gili, Mace

Game night started at 8, since I had to drop some people (including Nadine) at a wedding, which I couldn't stay at. I said some hellos, and then returned.


Jon 70ish, Mace 55ish, Gili 52ish.

First play for Mace, second for Gili. I didn't write the scores down. I was allowed to choose any game I wanted, and Gili was willing to play this again, though she had done very poorly last time. This time she did much better (though she still lost).

We had very little intersection, and only once or twice made any deliveries on someone else's track. So the one negative factor of Steam, which is kingmaking, didn't come into play. Also, three players gives you a great selection of available roles to choose from; it's much more painful with 4 or 5 players.

In our game, I stated on the East Cost and expanded straight west. Gili started on the "south" and expanded straight north. Mace started in the "southwest" expanded north. I managed to keep a higher income and also build more links. That kept me ahead for most of the game. Gili and Mace were neck and neck for most of the game, with Gili ahead in point, but Mace ahead in links.