January 26th, 2016: Robot Kibbutz Empire

Crew Members: Zevvy, Martin, Roman, David, Albert, Liz

With so many people tonight, we borrowed some chairs from Liz’s apartment in exchange for some chocolate. Considering the type of games we play, I think we should use the barter system more often.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small

Zevvy – 49, Martin – 47

Martin came over early and we played this 2-player adaptation of Agricola. Each turn players choose 3 actions, which include collecting resources, animals, or building their farm. I immediately built a small enclosure and got a pig and a cow. Martin began a bigger enclosure which he later populated with a few horses. I built a couple of stalls and filled them with sheep, and I also expanded my pig farming operation. Martin was breeding horses and also picked up some pigs and a few sheep, but had only one lonely cow living in his Cottage (which was upgraded to a Half-Timber House). By the end of the game I had some of everything, while Martin had many horses, the most valuable animal in the game. After tallying up the bonus points, it was a close match, but I was ahead by two points. It may be largely illegal in this country, but tonight I was a Jewish pig farmer. So there.

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RoboRally

Zevvy, Martin, Liz, Albert, Roman, David

Each turn, players choose commands to be executed by their robot. The robots rotate, move around, hit other and fire their lasers, while being shuffled to and fro by conveyor belts. Needless to say, this is quite a wacky game.

Liz struggled to make into the main arena, learning that a wall can be quite an unrelenting obstacle. Martin seemed to make some early progress towards the goal, but a miscalculation left him and Roman tumbling over the edge and sent back to the spawn. This was too much for Roman to handle, and his circuits fizzled out. Albert was stuck on a rotating gear for a while, spinning his wheels. David made it to the upgrade spot, but it didn’t seem to do him much good. I got pretty close, though after sustaining several hits, three of my commands were locked in place. Liz finally made it onto the board, only to be shuttled off by an express conveyor belt into the abyss. After a few more rounds we decided to end the madness. The game would work equally well with the theme of chickens with their heads cut off.

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Imperial Settlers

Zevvy: Egyptians – 39, Martin: Romans – 29, David: Barbarians – 27

There isn’t much imperial about this game, and it is nothing like Settlers of Catan. Players build a civilization combining ‘Common’ cards with their unique ‘Faction’ cards. Using stone, wood, food, human capital and military opportunity, players try to get as many points as possible in five short rounds.

I got off to a good start in terms of production, and quickly had an engine set up whereby my Missionaries earned me four points per round with the help of my Sphinx. Martin did end up defeating my Missionaries, and had a few buildings giving him points for each Roman building constructed. As the Barbarians, David had many Meeples but no way of producing Raze Tokens, so he couldn’t do much barbarian-ing. In the end I had produced over 25 points before the last round, and after adding up points from buildings I had a clear lead.

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Martin: Egyptians – 33, David: Barbarians – 33, Zevvy: Romans – 26

Once again the Egyptians were victorious, though just barely, and with a different early game strategy. Martin got out his Chariots in the first round, and quickly supplemented them with some cards to give him more points for Razing. Though these were later destroyed, as David got a much better setup with the Barbarians this time, allowing him to Raze and Pillage as his nature dictates. I had a hard time setting up production, and though Rome relies more heavily on Razing, I was slow on this front as well. By the end of the game, I had a a good number of cards giving me points for my stones, but Martin had two Sphinxes and a Goldsmith, netting him five points each round, not counting the additional actions from his Royal Bath. The final tally resulted in a tie between David and Martin, but the tiebreaker was leftover resources, so Martin won. David was one resource short from getting two more points, so it was close, but tonight, the Egyptians took a double victory.

As much fun as bartering and socialism can be, it seems such ideologies (held by the Jewish pig farmers who built the country) can result in a country of poorly programmed ‘Robots’ running around like headless chickens, trying to expand their ‘house of cards’ empire. Or maybe I shouldn’t use tonight’s amalgam of board games to analyze Israeli politics.

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January 19th, 2016: You Reap What You Sow

Crew Members: Zevvy, Liz, Martin, David, Roman

Back to regular meetings, and we actually played and finished two games this time!

Citadels

David – 40, Roman – 18, Martin – 17, Zevvy – 12, Liz – 9

In each round, players select a role and then try to build districts in their city. Liz got an early jump start with the Merchant, but was attacked by the Warlord the following round. The value of a building is equal to its cost, so my few expensive buildings were worth more than Roman’s collection of cheap buildings. Martin played several Purple buildings which have special abilities, most notably the Ballroom which required players to respond “Thanks, your Excellency” if Martin called their role (a requirement at which I consistently [but perhaps, subconsciously, purposely] failed at).

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David built steadily until he traded hands with Martin, apparently receiving a hand filled with the most expensive districts in the game. A few rounds later David ended the game by building his seventh district, claiming the four point bonus. Roman had a building of each color, granting him an additional three points, but David still won the game by a landslide.

Last Night on Earth

David – Johnny, Roman – Father Joseph, Zevvy – Jenny

Martin – Zombies!

This is a game based off zombie apocalypse themed B-Movies. One or two players control the zombies, and everyone else controls the heroes, trying to accomplish specific tasks. For our game we played the first mission: Kill 15 Zombies before sunrise.

Things did not start off so well. Jenny ran into the Cornfield, Revolver blazing, only to miss her target and run out of ammo. Father Joseph made his way to the Police Station to pick up a Shotgun, but his morals prevented him from using it. Johnny was left alone on the other side of the board, but no variety of weapons did him much good. In one last stand, he was able to kill some Zombies with a Meat Cleaver, but eventually was overrun behind the Diner. David then received a second character, Sally, who would turn out to have a bit more luck.

Meanwhile, Jenny had picked up the Shotgun from Father Joseph and with mild success blasted a few Zombies back to oblivion. Father Joseph found his Faith and with its power alone managed to take out a few Zombies as well.

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Sally grabbed a Pitchfork and began stabbing away, her Lucky ability turning the tide in her favor more than once. The heroes managed to take out 13 Zombies, but it wasn’t long before the unarmed Father Joseph was overrun, leading to our second character death, one of the loss conditions for this scenario.

Speaking of Christian morality, there was also a moment when the Zombies cut the power to the Police Station, leaving Jenny and Father Joseph trapped together in the dark. So maybe the good Father got what he deserved.

 

January 16th, 2016: Save the Endlings!

Crew Members: Zevvy, David

I spent Shabbat in the dorm, so David and I had a lot of time to play games. Friday night we played Dominion, and Shabbat afternoon we played Sentinels of the Multiverse. We played a two-player variant where each player has an incapacitated hero as a sidekick, and we set H to 3. This is the story of our epic battle against Omnitron, the sentient robot out to solve the problems of the human race: by destroying all humans!

Sentinels of the Multiverse

David – The Naturalist: 5 (Sidekick: Mr. Fixer), Zevvy – Omnitron-X: Incapacitated (Sidekick: Absolute Zero)

Villain – Omnitron: DEFEATED

Environment: The Enclave of the Endlings

Omnitron-X, the humanoid future form of Omnitron has traveled through time to stop his former self. Teamed up with The Naturalist, a former energy baron turned environmental protectionist, they sought to prevent Omnitron from laying waste to the Enclave of the Endlings, the refuge for species who are the last of their kind.

The Naturalist began the game in Crocodile form, dealing damage and handling Omnitron’s never ending supply of drones. Omnitron-X built up his supply of components and allowed The Naturalist to play more cards, keeping up the flow of damage. As the number of environment targets grew, The Naturalist deemed it time to Blend With the Pack and call upon his Environmental Allies. Changing to Gazelle form, the heroes were protected from the various Endlings, which proceeded to help slowly wear down the behemoth robotics factory.

Our luck was being pushed however, as more and more environment targets came into play, they risked being destroyed by Omnitron’s terrible Terraforming capabilities. In a devastating attack, Omnitron fired off Sedative Flechettes, obliterating The Naturalist’s Ongoing setup and dealing enough damage to destroy Omnitron-X’s components. Before we could do much to recuperate, Omnitron began Terraforming, destroying the environment and playing nine (9!) cards from his deck. While most of these were drones and components, a Technological Singularity was enough to finish off Omnitron-X and leave The Naturalist heavily injured.

It was time to call upon the Form of the Rhinoceros. Hiding behind his thick hide, The Naturalist took some time to recover, desperate for a strategy which would allow him to survive and fight back. When all hope seemed lost, a voice boomed from the environment: BLOOOGOOO! The Last Aphan charged into the battlefield, protecting The Naturalist from the killing blows of the Assault Drones. But Bloogo’s protection was intermittent, as he saw fit to alternate between protecting The Naturalist and Omnitron.

Utilizing the card and power plays from the incapacitated heroes and sidekicks, The Naturalist was able to alternate healing and dealing damage, depending on Bloogo’s position. Slowly but surely Omnitron’s plating was torn apart by the sharp teeth of the Crocodile, while the hide of the Rhinoceros kept The Naturalist alive. The Gazelle even made a return appearance, just in time to nimbly avoid another set of Sedative Flechettes which would have surely meant defeat for our heroes.

Leaving one lone assault droid alive for to distract Bloogo, The Naturalist went for an all out assault, finishing off the main body of Omnitron for good. However, if even a small piece of Omnitron survives, he can reconstruct himself and our efforts would be for naught. With one Assault Drone still alive, the battle was not over yet. Though it is against his creed, the Naturalist was forced to put Bloogo to rest, in order to destroy the last bit off Omnitron and save the other races from destruction. Bloogo’s sacrifice was necessary, but The Naturalist will carry the weight of this act in his heart until the day when he too must submit to nature’s all pervasive call.

We played a second game against Grand Warlord Voss, David as the Wraith and I as The Sentinels, in the Time Cataclysm. Not much of a story there, we pretty much whooped him, though the Wraith was almost killed by a Surprise Shopping Trip.

January 14th, 2016: A ‘Little’ Get Together

Crew Members: Zevvy, Martin, Roman, David

Martin and I both had the evening free and were going to play some 2-Player games. Fortunately Roman and David were able to join as well, so instead we decided to address the serious issue that there are people these days who still haven’t played Settlers of Catan. The missionaries still have work to do.

Settlers of Catan

David had played the base game before, but we added Cities and Knights, as well as the Gold from Seafarers. The board was set up to provide an easier introduction to the game, but this sort of backfired. At first we kept rolling 5, which left Roman with no income. Later, production was booming but with four players, people kept rolling 7 and many resources were discarded to the Robber. Not a single 10 was rolled the entire game, limiting Martin’s city development. David picked up Longest Road, but after 2.5 hours of playing, scores had not increased much (7-5-4-4), and we had to stop. We did at least get to demonstrate an opportunity to displace an opponent knight, though not many Blue cards were drawn.

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It was a harsh game, as seen from the faces in the photo above. But we drowned our frustrations in Strawberry Banana juice, and yet another player has been indoctrinated in the way of the Settlers.  Despite this meme, today Settlers brought friends together.

 

January 12th, 2016: Watt’s up, Doc?

Crew Members: Zevvy, David, Martin, Roman

Martin said he would bring something interesting, and indeed he did. Which of course meant we played that one game for four hours. Good thing we had plenty of olives and apple juice to snack on, the core diet for the Middle Eastern gamer.

Power Grid

Roman – 17 (Winner), David – 17, Martin – 16, Zevvy – 16

Players compete to bring power to their cities. We played on the America Map and since we were four, we were restricted to the Midwest and the East Coast. Martin began in New England, I took Oklahoma (family heritage), Roman took the South East and David took the Chicago area. The whole game I only used Coal and Oil, which while thematically fitting meant I could usually power more cities than I had. Roman took advantage of Wind power which saved him a great deal of money since he was usually first in cities and therefore last to buy resources. Martin stuck to Coal and Oil but upgraded to Garbage later on. David was the most diverse and the only player to use Uranium, which got as cheap as 3 Electrum per unit by the end game.

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Though David had the potential to power 18 cities, a four player game is only to 17, and money is the tie breaker. Roman and I both had 16 cities and while David was able to build and power 17, it cost him his fortune, leaving Roman with the ultimate victory. I was only able to power 16 cities, and Martin was only able to build 16 cities.

Apparently in German the word for ‘last’ player is the same word for ‘worst’ player. I guess that means I ate the ‘worst’ olive.

January 6th, 2016: Curses!

Crew Members: Zevvy, David, Dima

I wasn’t sure if people would make it tonight, but David showed up with some coke (the brown kind) and Dima showed up with some chocolate (the brown kind). We played some games.

Dominion

Zevvy – 32, David – 29

Chapel, Cellar, Hamlet, Trade Route, Fortune Teller (Bane), Young Witch, Monument, Horse Traders, Bureaucrat, Quarry, Venture

It was a pretty low powered game, with Venture being the only five-cost card. I thought I could pull off the ‘trash-your-deck -except-Venture’ chaining strategy, but my luck with Chapel was not as good as David’s. I also suffered from curses as David opened with Young Witch and Chapel, while I opened Silver and Chapel. In the end it worked out for me though as my Monument counteracted the curses and I eked out the win.

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Dima – 36, Zevvy – 28, David -17

Cellar, Watchtower, Woodcutter, Talisman, Quarry, Farming Village, Monument, Tournament, Witch, Festival

As opposed to last week, tonight was not David’s night. The game began with people buying Witches and Watchtowers, though Dima got a head start on this with a 5-2 opening. At first David seemed to be doing the best, and was the first one to buy a Province. With Tournament on the board,David seemed in good shape. But with no trashing other than Watchtower, the curses began to add up, and even with Cellar after Cellar, it was hard to get a good hand going.

Dima meanwhile had no specific strategy at first, but bought many Monuments which turned out to be very helpful and allowed him to get points without filling his deck, and he began buying Provinces too. I was also able to get a few Provinces, but in between my hands were pretty lousy. I did win a Torunament, but took a Duchy instead of a Prize since the end game was near.

I bought the last few Cellars, and David bought the last Festival to end his misery. In the end, Dima won by a clear margin.

Enzymania – Demo

I spent a few minutes demonstrating a game I’ve had a vague idea about for a long time now. It is based on everyone’s favorite subject, Enzyme Kinetics! I am still sifting through some possible mechanics, but essentially the players use Enzymes to convert abstract molecules, trying to maximize the concentration of those molecules which will give them points via their ‘Membrane Protein’. It still needs a lot of fine tuning. And readable cards that I didn’t just make a few hours before the meeting…

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Forbidden Island

David – Messenger, Dima – Navigator, Zevvy – Explorer

Dima had played Pandemic before, so he picked this game up quickly. But as Forbidden Island is designed for a younger audience, the randomness is a little less polished which forces the players to bend over backwards sometimes to save Fool’s Landing or some other important tile. We played the ‘Island of Shadows’ setup, a 6 x 4 grid, instead of the default setup.

Collectively we started with four Earth Stone cards, and picked up that treasure right away. We drew two Water’s Rise pretty early, which slowed us down, but meant we didn’t have to worry for a while. David and Dima divided the Fire and Water treasures among them, and I picked up four Wind treasure cards in a few rounds.

Moving around was the hardest part, and we even had to fly David to the Tidal Palace and back using two helicopters because it had become isolated. Dima’s navigation combined with my diagonal movement did allow me to move quite far, and we picked up the other treasures without delay. The deck reshuffled and we struggled to maintain a land bridge back to Fool’s Landing, but then we drew two helicopters, one to fly Dima to the Landing and one to fly home, all four treasures in hand.

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I realized many of the games I have require some setup and take-down time, so it might be good to get some quicker games to have on hand for when someone needs a fix. It’s definitely a better addiction than chocolate or coke (the white kind).