July 14th, 2018: I Hate the Market!

Crew Members: Zevvy, Kevin, Shlomo, Josh, Yehuda, Simcha, Layla

Got to make use of some great games this weekend. Mission accomplished.

Istanbul

After dinner, Kevin and I thought to play a quick game of Istanbul but it caught the eye of others and we easily got 5 players. After a brief overview we dived right in. I went for the Yellow mosque tile, Kevin for the red. Shlomo went last but was able to get a wagon upgrade early. He also got the first gem by from the dealer. Josh deftly navigated the market and did quite well upgrading his wagon and makign some efficient deliveries. He hit 2, then 3, but Kevin hit 4 just as I got my second. Thinking I had no hope of catching up, we at least slowed Kevin down by occupying the Gem dealer. He set out instead to finish his wagon but I used a bonus to sell at the small market and get my fourth at the dealer–the green token was stolen by Josh. I was one coin short from finishing my wagon but Shlomo had sent his family to the dealer, giving me just enough to finish my wagon. Kevin finished as well, but his payment to me made me win the tiebreaker with cash, though he had 3 goods and a bonus card.

Impulse

I brought this thinking the space theme would interest more people, while hoping it wouldn’t get past four. With three people, Yehuda and Layla picked up the game pretty fast once I cut down my explaining. Layala got an early lead refining and mining a lot, with Green planets adding benefits. We had a lot of Execute actions in the impulse, not a lot of movement. I caught up by Trading a bit, but Layal sabotaged my fleet. Yehuda made first strike against me, but I got swift revenge. Though I traded some more and go to 16, in the end it was Layla’s refining the pushed her well over 20 points, claiming the win without a fight.

A Feast for Odin

Yehuda – 106, Zevvy – 100, Layla – 84, Simcha – 72

We were able to start this without too much explanation, and after me giving suggestions how to get started, pretty soon everyone had things they were trying, and deciphered the action spaces themselves. At first people stripped the mountains, then Yehuda used his ore to plunder early and often. Layla began whaling while Simcha had a hunting bonus and got some ships. I drew Animal Breeder and so got a bunch of animals around round 3, but it was only later that I converted them and got a bunch of blue good froms overseas trading. Simcha took Iceland and Greenland–great boards which gave him some oil and income but he was unable to cover them that much. Towards the end he upgraded a bunch of cows, but though he had almost ignored the home board until then, was able to cover a decent amount. He emigrated four Knarrs though, but had too much negative on the exploration. Layla finished her home board but didn’t have anywhere else, so her last few moves couldn’t make that many points. Yehuda also filled his home, and had his own emigration of three longboats. I had a bit of everything, covered my home board but had some negative on Bear Island and my Longhouse. It was a closer ending than it had seemed, and each little move mattered in the end.

I wouldn’t play Impulse with more because people would get bored between turns, yet I still want to play TI3 one day…slowly building people up, Games are like stepping stones, that’s why I have so many…at least that’s what I tell myself so I don’t notice the hole in my wallet…

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July 10th, 2018: Istanbul, of Course!

Crew Members: Kevin, Zevvy

A shorter, smaller meeting, but necessary after a long day.

Istanbul

Finally getting to try this out. We played the short paths setup to learn the game. While I seemed to have an early lead with the Great Mosque tiles, after four rubies I slowed down, while Kevin had a good route with his full wheel barrow and the markets. In the end I grabbed the sixth ruby while he was still two turns from getting his sixth at the small mosque. He did go to the fountain twice, so otherwise it was super close.

Our second game was randomized, but the post office and black market touched near the Small Mosque, so I got the Red tile right away and began “gambling”. I only went to the fountain once and had 4 gems before Kevin had one. He did get three pretty quickly but I did a double Gemstone Dealer action and then got the sixth without too much effort.

Might be interesting to try the Neutral Assistant variant next time if we don’t have more players. Want to explore the base game more before adding coffee or letters.

July 7th, 2018: Thank You, Come Again!

Crew Members: Zevvy, Kevin, Avi, Nechama

Avi requested Civ, and so it was. I really though he would win with Military, but that’s not  quite what happened in the end…

Innovation

Kevin and I played Innovation after dinner, using my new 3D printed card holder, which saved table space. I got 1 and 2 with Agriculture and Metal Working. Kevin used Pottery for 3. Canal Building helped me get 20 points but I forgot to take the 4 as it was hiding behind the box of cards… then Kevin started using Statistics to empty my score pile. He also had Gunpowder so I lost most of my Castles. Kevin got 5 and 6 but Bicycle got me 27 points, then I managed to get the 7. I used a lot more “exchanging” then usual. I had five achievements but Kevin managed to hold the line using Physics and Electricity, returning cards and keeping anyone from melding higher tech. I hoped maybe to get Empire, but my castles were hidden…and I gave away Encyclopedia which could’ve melded my score pile. Eventually I got Industrialization and was about to get Monument when Kevin stole my top Yellow card, but this revealed Domestication giving me the Castles I needed.

Once again, 2-player base Innovation was exciting, tactical back and forth. Expansions are nice for a change, but not needed. Setup for them is much easier now though.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game

I was India, Kevin was Spain, Nechama Egypt again, and Avi Germany. I opened with devote to the arts for first step on the track. Atilla’s Village was near me but Avi ended up getting it, while I built a city. I only collected one or two huts the whole game, and no villages. Kevin as Spain got off to an impressive looking start, exploring and building for free. Nechama started with Hanging Gardens so was good for figures, but for some reason didn’t fight her barbarians or build a city until several turns in. Avi spammed military but by being nice and trading with him he didn’t raid me early on. Kevin also had military buildup. Fortunately he skirmished with Nechama and I fortified my city so I had no figures to attack. Also my first great person was Leonides, giving me +4 and +8 if attacked by stronger opponent, so I wasn’t a completely easy target. Wonders went faster than usual, and when Big Ben showed up I got it and then Education and started rushing tech victory. Still sure someone would attack me, but no one did so I got Flight and bought two planes. I also built the UN which prevented culture events affecting me. I got cards that let me change social policy a couple times which was also critical. Isaac Newton filled in a spot on my pyramid and I finally got Space Flight just before Avi was ready to invade a Capital. I did use my “any resource” ability a few times as well.

Even though Spain seems OP, the disadvantage is that everyone wants to gang up. The military tension in this game also made it feel like there was a lot of interaction and politics, and while I usually don’t like too much politics it was very thematic–pitting my opponents against each other, “currying” favor and being pacifist as Ghandi.

I mentioned the “tie-breaker” suggestion where we play out the turn to the end. Avi then could have won by Military victory, but I wasn’t there for the final battle which he says he lost, though he didn’t draw as many cards as he should have, so maybe he would have won.

I also recently played Galaxy Trucker with one totally new person and one familiar. We did level one and two flight but the new player still felt lost. It’s odd, either I can’t teach this game well or can’t present it well, or people just aren’t interested. The familiar player likes this though and is building faster, though I still need a handicap or something.

June 27th, 2018: I Need a Hero

Crew Members: Kevin, Zevvy, Yehuda

Life is doom. Of course Arkham is in Massachusetts, my home state.

Arkham Horror: Innsmouth

We added the innsmouth section and character story cards. I was Tommy the Cop, Yehuda was the Waitress and Kevin was the Violinist. While I wanted to get Deputy asap, I first got money so I could go to Innsmouth. Kevin joined me and he sealed a gate while I was one clue short and merely closed one. Bad shuffling made most of the mythos cards open in innsmouth, until we shuffled a bit. When I was ready to head back I got sucked in again. I got blessed in the Halls of Celano but lost it right a way, while Yehuda was Cursed which caused him to fall to some tough monsters. With only two gates sealed and more opening, we didn;t have time before the Ancient One (Twin Horror) awakened. Yehuda used all of Kevin’s clue tiles since he had Fight skill, but as first player was the first to be crushed. I got a lot of hit in using my Shotgun and we faced the second stage where the Ancient One was now Physical Immune. Kevin took Yehuda’s spells and gave me one, but overall we had fewer dice now. When I was devoured though it did fulfill my story of being a hero, removing one Doom Token and giving 5 more clues to Kevin, but it wasn’t quite enough and we lost with only 4 doom tokens left–one more round and we might have made it!

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Still looking for a fourth. Found someone with Eldritch Horror so maybe that.

June 17th, 2018: With A Little Bit of Luck

Crew Members: Zevvy, Shlomo, Imanuel, Yizchak

Imanuel happened to be in town with games, and I happened to have the night free.

Dice Forge

This game looks so nice on the table it drew in my roommate to join us finally. Imanuel went first and focused on Sun Shards, even removing his 2 point side after rolling it. I focused on cash and moon shards, though didn’t get the forge like I should have and wasted a lot of gold. Yitzchak also got Sun Shards, and Shlomo was able to buy two of the 12 gold sides pretty quickly. While Imanuel and Yitzchak split the 26 point hydras, I got some nice 3x point rolls, but Shlomo definitely had the best luck, rolling his “1 of everything” side 3 or 4 times per round, as well as his 4 point side. While the final scores for three of us were just over 100, Shlomo hit almost 150.

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Magic Maze

Looking for something quick I was happy to play this having read about it. This was Yitzchak’s first co-op game, and while it started “too easy” we ramped up and had some tense moments. We never had to use the dwarf doors but our final round we used all the timers but one, as we raced to the end just in time.

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Afterwards Yitzchak asked about games with “give-and-take” and we spoke about Bohnanza. We may have another acolyte now.

June 16th, 2018: 60% of the Time

Crew Members: Zevvy, Kevin

It works every time. These games, that is. Always fun.

Innovation

Back to basic innovation. Optics gave us both four points but Metalworking failed and Kevin got the 1 achievement. I managed to snag the two using pottery a few times in a row, but Kevin got Democracy early one and had points for the 3, 4, 5 and 6. I managed to force him to cover his 6s with 4s so he hard a hard time getting to 7, and I finally made it to 7 first, scoring lots of points with Perspective. We also vied to be the first to meld an 8, which I also got, having 40 points. But it was only a matter of time before Kevin would claim Empire or Wonder, I was one castle short for Empire. I used Empiricism over and over hoping to get lucky, but Kevin just used flight to splay up and claim Wonder.

Castles of Burgundy

We played on the same board, but with two players things are more limited. An early tech giving silver for gaining workers let Kevin also buy a black market mine, having two mines by the end of Year One. He also got more useful goods through shipping, while I had the green castles and useless technology. A lot of workshops came out but I used the workers pretty quickly. We missed the rule about not having two of the same building in a city but it wouldn’t have mattered much. Having no way to get silver, I was unable to use the black market until Year 3. I picked up some pigs but each round the animals that came out were completely different–again with two players, fewer animals to choose from. In the end Kevin scored around 180 while I was down around 140.

I heard Castles is excellent two players–while it’s definitely faster, I think it will shine more when we have different maps. The setup made it obvious that having access to silver first meant earlier black market access, meaning more tiles overall.

June 13th, 2018: Two Players

Crew Members: Zevvy, Yehuda

Just the two of us today but after a long day at work that’s just fine.

Patchwork

Wanted to start with something light, and introduce this Uwe puzzle game as a prequel to Feast for Odin…I won both games, but Yehuda did better the second game. While there were some opportunities to pass strategically to gain or deny a specific piece, usually it wasn’t worth it if you could just buy something, even sub-par.

7 Wonders Duel

In this game it’s clear that more passing means more turns wasted. First game we randomly divided Wonders and Yehuda got four with the extra turn ability. He also got a lot of resource cards while the reserves showed up late, and I couldn’t buy much. By the end he was leading in Science and MIlitary as well, though it ended in a Civil victory 64 to 51. The next game I rushed production of the Lighthouse for 6 coins, but it didn’t really help at all…while I did build all four wonders, I took the Urbanism token but never had the chance to use it’s secondary ability (coins for free upgrades). Once again I was way short on coins, but could usually afford things except paper…in the end it was closer than I though until Yehuda got the Wonder and Science Guilds, reaching a score of 70 to my 59.

Pixel Tactics

We continued from our last match, removing the leaders we used (me–Scientist and Vampire, Yehuda–Priestess and free recruiter). I chose the Mascot leader and Yehuda had the Paladin (free move / clear). My initial through his defences was met with simple restructuring, though I was able to cover my leader well with the Mystic’s self healing. Yehuda had his Berserker up front dealing heavy damage but with no Intercept my Gunner got a free hit on his leader. We both hit each other with Trapper and were running low on cards. Eventually I ran out of Intercept cards as well and couldn’t protect my hero so well. Leaving him open though made Yehuda a bit over confident, and while he got me down to 1 HP I had a chance to strike back. In the end he dealt fatal damage but I struck back with a Dragon Mage boosted Gunner from the rear, dealing 10 damage reducing him to 2 HP. If I had my Assassin (the next card!) or even one more action to recruit to the rear and make a free melee attack, it would have been a simultaneous rout (but I think I would have had one more hero at that point).

I really like 2-player games–less down time, easier to plan, no gang-ups…that’s something I’d be happy to do more often.