November 23rd, 2015: One ‘Ell of a Story

Crew Members: Zevvy, Roman, David, Neta

What a provocative title! It will all become clear soon enough. As clear as the herbal tea which filled our glasses, provided by  one of my illustrious roommates. We also had beer-battered peantus (קבוקים) and an assortment of chocolates.

Story Cubes

Zevvy: Alien Abduction, Serial Killer

Roman: Innocent Escapee, Depressed Russian

Neta: Old-Man-Turned-Adventurer, Illiterate Visitor to Africa

David: Stupid Prince, Fish-Turned-Sheep-Turned-Man

We began with a game brought by a new member, Neta. Story Cubes is an improv/imagination game. There are 9 cubes with various images and many ways to play. We took a suggestion from the instructions, rolling 3 cubes at a time and telling part of a story. We were enchanted by the tales of the stupid prince, the abducted sleepwalker, and the illiterate traveller. We felt the sorrow of the innocent escapee who was killed by a wayward arrow, and the fish-turned-sheep-turned human who discovered the meaning of life just before death. We were horrified by the deeds of a baby serial killer, and discovered the true cause of the Russian plane crash: a depressed Russian returning from Egypt whom, having the batteries die on his $200 Tetris device, angered a fellow passenger to the point of strangling the pilot. [That was a very long sentence].

All in all it was very entertaining. A repeating image which caused confusion throughout was the cube with an ‘L’ on it, variously interpreted as the rural ‘Ell’ inn, a door in the back of a cave, and a Tetris piece. Little did we know its true meaning would be revealed in the next game…

Forbidden Island

Roman – Pilot, Neta – Engineer, David – Explorer, Zevvy – Navigator

Same designer as Pandemic, but simpler mechanics. Players are adventurers working together to steal the four treasures of the Elements and escape the Island before it floods!

The game began well enough. Neta started with a Water Card and immediately drew two more, receiving a fourth from David. By her next turn she had claimed The Ocean’s Chalice. Roman protected the Fool’s Landing from sinking while David and I funneled our Fire Cards to Neta who claimed The Crystal of Fire after being helicoptered to the Cave of Shadows. But the Island was beginning to flood faster…

David had collected several Earth Cards, which he gave to Roman who claimed The Earth Stone. We needed to keep the Howling Garden from sinking, and maintain a connection to Fool’s Landing for our escape. Racing against the pace of the flooding, I managed to collect four Air Cards and acquire The Statue of the Wind. But we were forced to use our last helicopter, which would require us to draw another one with which to escape the Island after a reshuffle. With the Water Meter one tick away from Doom, we maneuvered everyone but Roman onto the Howling Garden and used a Helicopter to fly us all to Fool’s Landing. We now needed to draw a Helicopter before drawing another Water’s Rise, or game over. The odds of drawing either were 1:6.

The first card…was a Helicopter! As long as we made it to Roman’s turn, he could fly to Fool’s Landing and we could Helicopter away! The second card….was Water’s Rise! The Flood Level maxed out and we were left to our doom…

But look at the formation of land on which we made our final stand! What could it possibly mean?

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As it happens, Neta lives literally across the hall from me. And she has been part of this group all along, though with a different name on Facebook. A happy surprise for us all. Technically, her door is across and slightly to the side…kind of like a ‘Γ‘…

November 16th, 2015: Settling for Three

Crew Members: Abi, Zevvy, Elijah

We met this week at Abi’s apartment. Another new member, Elijah, was able to make it, and he brought snacks!

Monopoly Deal

Abi: 1-1, Zevvy: 1-1

I arrived before Elijah so Abi and I played a couple hands of Monopoly Deal. Apparently there are different ways of playing–either 3 moves total per turn, or 3 actions per turn, with unlimited other moves. We played the ‘faster’ way. The first round I took Abi’s first property, but then she got 3 quick monopolies out in a row. The second game, I got two quick monopolies. Abi apparently had many Sly and Forced Deals, but could not break my monopolies. And when she was fortunate to get her own, I played Deal Breaker and she had no counter.

Settlers of Catan

Game 1: Zevvy 10, Elijah 8, Abi 7

Game 2: Elijah 10, Abi 8, Zevvy 8

Abi had played this before and enjoyed, and we taught Elijah, he picked it up quickly. First game Abi had strong Sheep production and the port, but took a while to get going. Elijah had early control over most of the wood, and was getting lots of Ore late game. I had early control of bricks which allowed me to get my first few settlements sooner than the others. In the end, it came down to a fight over Longest Road. Elijah was able to take it from me, but at this point I was drawing too many resources to really be stopped.

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Our second game we added Seafarers, creating a board with a large island, a medium island, and a small island with a Gold 4. We decided to keep it simple and still play to 10, with no bonus points. The setup was more difficult, and wood was scarce. Though Abi had a great wood spot, her settlements were close together and easily susceptible to the Robber, which unfortunately hampered much of her progress. Elijah had good variety of numbers to start, and bought a lot of development cards. I had very few numbres to start, but after building a couple settlements had better production. I also picked up longest road fairly quickly. In the end, I was unable to build cities and scrambled for development cards. Elijah already had Largest Army (4) and was a veritable city factory, building city after city until he won with 4 Cities and Largest Army. Abi and I each had a Victory point card, tying at 8.

As the background image for this blog is based on Settlers of Catan, it’s about time we played. This was the first time my set had been used in several years, and we had to mark a Soldier as Road Building, but it was still playable despite wear and tear.

November 5th, 2015: Three is Better than Two

Crew Members: Nuri, Zevvy, Roman

Though unfortunately many people could not make it, we still managed to maintain continuity. Another member has officially been involved, so our group continues to thrive. Not only did Nuri provide snacks and games, but dinner as well for one hungry Roman.

Concept

This is a creative game where players must suggest very specific words or phrases using a variety of generic concepts. We each took turns trying to get the other two people to guess our word correctly. Some of the concepts, like the ‘1’ and ‘0’ concept caused some confusion, but once we succeeded with some simple words like ‘Volcano’ and ‘Penguin’ we moved on to more difficult ones like ‘Werewolf’ and ‘Killing Time’. Unfortunately I could not succesfully convey the phrase ‘Raining Cats and Dogs’ despite the presence of the large black Newfoundland lying on the floor.

Pandemic

Nuri – Quarantine Specialist, Zevvy – Medic, Roman – Contingency Planner

First play for Roman, though I had never succeeded in this game before, so we played with only 3 infection cards. Nuri began with a Government Grant, which combined with Roman’s role gave us two early research stations, which was very helpful for containing the early diseases. Especially since our first two outbreaks showed up fairly close to one another. We quickly cured the Blue disease, but the threat of the Red and Yellow diseases was increasing. Nuri was able to control the Red disease from outbreak, but we let the Yellow get dangerously closed to Outbreak, confident that the last infection would not show up until we found the cure. In the end, we successfully cured the Yellow and Red diseases, but had not picked so many black cards. Fortunately, the last infection card did not show up and we managed to cure the Black disease after Eradicating the Yellow disease.

Incidentally, we also discussed management policy, dog shoes, and the postal system. I think we have the makings of a new board game here…