Jon and I started off playing Nefarious, by the designer of Dominion. It took me a while to understand it, but it didn’t matter that much because we had crazy condition cards. I came in second.
Then we walked around and played a game similar to Dominion, Tanto Cuore. It’s Japanese with a theme of hiring maids, Jon had heard of it, and they had a demonstrator in a skimpy maid costume. Jon’s really good at Dominion, I’ve beaten him like once and usually don’t even come close. We thought we understood the game well, but didn’t understand the set-aside mechanic which is not in Dominion. I did very well, but Jon still beat me, 51 to 47, with 30 for the demonstrator, who may not play as hard as possible, or you can’t get good players to wear a maid costume.
I reached the person giving me Agricola by phone, and on the way to Madras Pavilion for lunch we picked it up from him by his hotel. Madras Pavilion was great even though it’s not a pavilion but in a strip mall. Really good kosher vegetarian Indian food, with Bill as a very helpful guide to Indian food.
After lunch Bill, Shirley and I went to pick a game from the game library. Bill wanted a space theme, so we picked Space Mission from the Essen games, and went into the main room. While we were trying to figure out how to play two other players joined us, one was Simon Strange. We managed to work it out, it’s a nice simple game. Tom won the tie with Simon at 39, Shirley and I had 30 and Bill 29. I commented on the nice look of the planets, Simon said better than ours. It turns out that he is a video game developer of Hellboy: Asylum Seeker and Godzilla: Save the Earth among others. He’s now working on a space-themed board game, with prototype artwork including planets, hence his comment. After Space Mission, Bill, Shirley and another player played his prototype with him. It looked too route-like so I decided not to play. Simon also play-tested Bill’s game and provided feedback.
I played Navegador, which I had played once before. I had won that game, but we played something wrong so I shouldn’t have won. This game was the first time for everyone else, someone came by and gave a quick overview. I made a mistake on my first move and was behind the rest of the game. Two of the other players were doing really well, one was doing terribly. He improved, and we ended up tying for last place, he won the tiebreaker, so I lost.
At dinner, Jon said that I played Navegador which he likes, and he played Walnut Grove, which I wanted to play, and didn’t know til then that he had gotten to play. By then, his Secret Santa had written me that he got Navegador and Incan Empire for Jon.
Jon and I wanted to try the game library’s copy of the fancy new 10th anniversary edition of Puerto Rico, but it was checked out so we took the regular one. The new version is approved for sale in Europe, but not in the U.S. because of the lead in the coins, they have to reprint them. Jon held it up for a few minutes and two players joined, one had played before. Jon’s much better than me at Puerto Rico, but I can beat him. I’m also not experienced or good at 4-player, we usually play 3-player, and online I play 3-player.
One of the other players crafted into Jon, who was able to trade sugar with two role coins, and he pretty much had the game from there with a coffee monopoly. I got blocked out of trading and couldn’t get anything going. I had a small warehouse, but no harbor, factory or wharf. One player, who only had tobacco and corn, took a harbor at one point. He had enough for a wharf, but I didn’t say anything, because he seemed to know what he was doing, having rejected advice before. But it turns out he had a wrong impression of how harbor works, so I should have mentioned it. I did tell him later that he should consider shipping, which he did, to my detriment. It’s always hard to know how much to help other players, they learn more by making mistakes, but it also makes the game more frustrating. Jon won by less than I expected, but still a lot, I came in second. 58, 45, 40, 37.
We stopped by our hotel office to check for packages. Jon could see a package behind the counter. The desk clerk said it wasn’t for us and went to check the back, nothing there either. Jon asked again about the package he could see, which was a big box. The clerk showed it to us to prove that it wasn’t ours, but he was looking at the return address. It was my Secret Santa package, with an Agricola expansion and London, and Jungle Speed for my kids.
Jon had played Inca Empire on Thursday and liked it, which was handy since that was one of his Secret Santa games. We picked up his package Friday on the way to David’s for Shabbat.