Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 26, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Ben, Gili

My brother showed up, mostly to collect things I'm giving away. :-)

Carson City

Nadine 56, Ben 50, Jon 50, Gili 43

Scores approximate. First play for Ben. This game, like Endeavor, is deceptively slow in the first round or two only to explode in the last rounds. This must be the first game in a really, really long time that I had to think for an extended period of time before deciding on a move - not once, but twice. Both times were for role selection.

Like all but the first two times we've played, I reduced the gun bonus from three to two (though it still counts for three when calculating gun spaces) on both the role and the "three gun" board space. I found that three guns was just too many; it essentially meant automatic victory on all future gun battles. That meant that, if you were fighting someone in several spaces, this battle determined all other spaces, which was too much to decide with a single die roll.

Ben points out that reducing the "three guns" space to two guns only nets you a single gun gain, since you have to give up a guy to take it, and the guy counts as a gun, anyway. Not to mention that, if you fight someone for the gun, they get their guy back, netting them a one gun gain. Yeah, yeah, I know. Trust me. It still works much better this way. In fact, there was no lack of people fighting for the "three gun" spot, which proves my point. On the other hand, no one took the gun role this game, but he has been chosen many times in previous games, so there.

Anyhoo, I took a strong start, while Ben made a small error in understanding one of the buildings, so he gained a little less income than he was anticipating. Nadine and Ben were hot on my heels by round two, however, and Nadine passed me by round three. I still had more building points than she did.

In round four, however, I chose roles last. Ben took the sheriff gaining him a 5/1 trade, while Gili and Nadine both took the roles that let them store $60, giving them a lot of 6/1 trade. That left me with roles letting me store a maximum of $30. Advantage Nadine.

Then Ben and Nadine fought over one of the scoring spaces, Ben lost the die roll even though he was up on the tie, and Nadine took the five points that Ben would have taken. If the single die roll had gone the other way, Bwn would have won instead of Nadine. And that's why we all hate dice.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 19, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili

Attendance is still so low, it's hard to feel too bad about leaving Jerusalem. I'd like to stay and keep a good club going, but three people week after week is not much of a club. Hopefully things will pick up again if/when Nadine and Gili take over.

Quest Adventure Cards

Jon 43, Nadine 34

I was sent this to review. I received six packs (1 through 6), which is enough for a two player game. You can play up to four with more packs.

I will give a full review on Purple Pawn soon. Nadine and I played only one game. It was, at least, a quick playing game, but only because the decisions were either trivial, luck-based, or irrelevant. Maybe I'm missing something.

Nadine didn't understand the point count at the end. Actually, now that I remember the rules correctly, since the sixth quest wasn't completed, the game actually ended in a tie.


Nadine 132, Jon 122, Gili

This is not really meant to be a three player game; there's too much water and the water carrier makes no money. What's left is calculating the amount of money spent vs money returned compared to the other players, which is still fun to those who like that sort of thing.

I gobbled up a center potato field and got some cubes on some of Nadine's fields. Gili had a smaller field, and we were all pretty sure that I was going to win by a bit. But Nadine spent almost zero money on the bidding, while I was down to about 5 dollars before the final tally. She won due to frugal spending.

Cities and Knights of Catan

Nadine 13, Jon 11, Gili 11

Although I often complain that I'm losing when it feels like I'm losing, but stop complaining when I see that I'm actually doing ok, in this game I really really felt like I was losing and I was really really surprised to see that I actually came fairly close to winning.

Though I didn't start the game with either 6 or 8, I had good and varied numbers and resources on my starting hexes - except sheep. I even pulled an early Inventor and switched away an 11 for a 9. Wouldn't you know it, but 11 and 8 rolled up time and time again, with barely any occurrences of 5, 9, or 10 over the entire game.

As a result, I watched Nadine and Gili pull resource after resource while I collected the occasional brick or ore. Nadine's hand already had over ten cards several times before the barbarians hit, and she maintained a large hand throughout the game.

Gili and Nadine both got to an early/mid-game Aqueduct, while I didn't get to it until near the end game. Wow, is it hard to do ANYTHING without Aqueduct. I already knew it's the most important strategy in the game, and I still keep underestimating it.

Nadine had early knight control. Gili got the first metropolis (paper) and took over the knights around mid-game. I managed to disappoint them both by failing to activate a single knight, twice losing cities to the barbarians in the process.

Despite this, and my paucity of building and resources, I finally got a harbor and a string of 4s to give me a metropolis in coins. I was sitting on the merchant card. I came so close to 12, only to lose a city (twice) or be off by a single resource each time.

Nadine missed an opportunity to end the game through stealing my coin metropolis, but she managed to get her 13th point anyway on the next turn.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 13, 2011

Participants: Jon, Christian, David K, Nadine, Gili, Shmuel

Christian is a visitor from Germany who will be in Israel for a month. Shmuel is Gili's nephew, who will also be in Israel for a month.

San Juan

David 41, Jon 38, Christian 32, Nadine 27

Christian had played this once a while ago; it has been supplanted in his group by Race for the Galaxy. I changed the Guild Hall to only give 2 points for each type of production building.

No one built a Prefecture, but David built a fairly early Library. And he still built a complete Guild Hall. I had Aqueduct and Wishing Well going. Nadine was behind in buildings.

Odin's Ravens

Shmuel, Gili

Gili relearned this game and taught it to Shmuel. Shmuel won the first race after Gili extended the board several times. They ended the game after the one race.


Jon 56, Christian 49, David 34

First play for Christian. One my, and David's, favorites. I racked up some early debt, eventually hitting 5 debt chips, which had me worried. Also, I'm usually able to buy Church by round 6 or 7; when I couldn't, largely because I wasn't producing any trade goods (gold, cow, or copper), I was concerned. David had both Gold Mines; however, he didn't have a single trade chip producing building. He was taking trade chips, instead of more valuable goods, when he moved forward on the railroad track.

In the end I was able to cancel all but three of my debt chips, though just barely.


Nadine+, Gili, Shmuel

First play for Shmuel. I didn't see how it went.


Jon/David 600, Nadine/Christian 200

First play for Christian. We played five hands. I bid and made one Tichu and one Grand Tichu, both by the skin of my teeth. I bid the Grand Tichu with AKQJT92 and the Phoenix.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

July 07, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili

Down to the stalwarts.

A Touch of Evil

Jon+, Nadine, Gili

Gili just got this game and brought it over, eager to try it out. I had rather low expectations. Nadine was concerned about the theme, since she doesn't like horror.

These type of games, like some FFG games, are high on beautifully illustrated components and themes but revolve around simple random mechanics, like dice rolling or card flipping. I don't find the games to be interesting; actually, that's an understatement. This game is just like those; it's a fine game for people who like to roll, roll, roll, dice and pick cards with random effects that can help or hurt you, without any influence as to the results of the rolls or card picks. I found the experience of playing the game to be (nearly) physically painful.

Each player is a piece on the board with a random special ability and some stats. Each round you roll to see how many spaces you can move and then you pick a card from the deck of the location to which you traveled. The card can be good, bad, or in between. Many make you roll dice. Some dice rolls make you roll more dice. If you encounter a monster, you get to roll and roll until one of you is dead. Certain cards you may have saved, or that others may have saved, can be played on your combat to make you re-roll dice or otherwise hurt or help you.

Eventually, you have collected enough items and feel comfortable enough to fight the Boss. Then you do. Each Boss has its own special ability, of course. Roll and roll until one of you is dead. If you beat the Boss, you win the game. All of this is done with beautiful pieces and tons of counters. But only a few of the counters (Boss' minions) are used each game, so the enemies become repetitive.
There is a cooperative way to play with a bigger Boss and more bad events happening, but I hear tell that the tension isn't really high compared to other cooperative games. There is also an advanced way to play with more special powers and effects, which would add more thematic color to the game without changing the basic idea: pick an action and then randomly resolve it. Ugh.

I grimaced the entire time without trying to be a complete sourpuss. I don't think I wrecked the experience for Nadine or Gili, both of whom appeared to like the game. Nadine liked it because most of the effects were positive effects. Gili liked it because it would probably be a big hit with her teenager.

Naturally, I had several of my "luck moments". During one fight, I had to score a single hit to kill the monster, and I needed to roll a 5 or a 6 on any of five dice to do so. I rolled all five dice and didn't get above a 3 on any of them, so the fight continued to the next round. On the next round I did it again with the same result. And then again. Finally I rolled a single 6 on the fourth round. I finally killed the 1 HP monster, just as he simultaneously killed me. Then I rolled a d6 to see how much of my treasure I lost for dying, and naturally I rolled a 6.

Still, I went on to win. How? Nadine tried to fight the Boss first, but she rolled really terribly and the monster rolled really well, so she died. Then I tried. I rolled really well, and the monster rolled really terribly, so I won.


Vegas Showdown

Jon+, Nadine, Gili

I don't remember the final scores, but I was about 8-10 points ahead of Gili and Nadine who were within a point of each other. All of us filled in both colored sections and also connected our two entryways. The game ended when Nadine filled in her entire board, the first time I ever saw that happen.

I won because of a solid early income, being able to pay for points in one round when they couldn't, being able to outbid Gili one time when I needed to, and Gili and Nadine both spending all their money on middleweight buildings on the penultimate rounds, leaving the last heavyweight building for me.

Friday, July 01, 2011

June 29, 2011

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Binyamin, Tzvi Yehuda

Small nights bode ill for the future of the JSGC. This game night was interrupted in the middle. I had to run out at 8:30. Game night continued at Nadine's.

Canal Mania

Jon, Nadine, Gili, Binyamin, Tzvi Yehuda

First play for all of us. I think I played or watched a game of this at a BGG.con, which is why I asked for it as my secret santa gift. Unfortunately, the game did not succeed with our group.

Canal Mania is a light "train" game, i.e. route connection game. It's a little heavier than Ticket to Ride or La Strada, but lighter than Steam. The game's core mechanics are not complicated. However, each mechanic has a slew of very specific provisions and exceptions that make the game harder to learn than it would first appear. Undoubtedly these niggly rules were added after much play-testing, and it's clear to see how some of them add to the interest of the game or prevent certain problems. But there's something wrong: niggly rules that have no thematic purpose. They make it seems like there is something wrong with the core design, but it's just managing to hold together.

In the third of a game that we played, I didn't see any major flaws with the game. Aside from the fact that no one else was able to think on any other players' turn, despite that their turn pretty much didn't affect yours, I was interested enough to continue. This is because I love route building games, unless they're flawed. The others don't feel that way. They found the game uninspiring, not interesting like Steam or Power Grid, and not painless and intuitive like Ticket to Ride (which they don't like much, either).

None of them were unhappy to end the game when I was called away at 8:30. I fear that the game isn't going to be played again by us.

El Grande

Gili 103, Nadine 101, Binyamin 95, Tzvi Yehuda 93

Nadine continues the report: From the games I have, some people would have played PR, some Shadows, but everyone agreed to play my new El Grande, which I didn't think I'd ever get to use.

Binyamin wanted to handicap me 10 or 20 points, but I never win 4 player, and not even always with 5.

Scores each round:

Gili 30 63 103
Nadine 27 53 101
Binyamin 27 57 95
Tzvi Yehuda 27 53 93

It was very close first round. Later Zvi Yehuda was doing well for a while, which caused him to get attacked. I was way in last place, not reflected in the scoring. Gili was hard to attack. When I had played my 1 to play the 13 on the last turn of the second round, the second king came up. Binyamin protected his high scoreboard at the end when he selected for the Castillo; he would have done better somewhere else. Gili played the Castillo and mobile scoreboards well.