February 16-17th, 2018: Power Play

Crew Members: Kevin, Zevvy, David, Yehuda

David was visiting from Haifa. Friday afternoon we whomped Omnitron, but the real games would be the next day.

Nations

Zevvy: India – 37, Kevin: Egypt – 36

Kevin was Egypt, though concerned about not starting with military. I was India, intrigued by the ability to rapidly increase population. A lot of interesting things happened and unusual moves were made. This was the first game I bought Boudica, who I kept for 2 rounds. I also bought Vesuvius, because the requirement to return population was counteracted by my growth. However, the return is end of age so upkeep was still an issue. With limited Stability option and Kevin making sure to deny them from me, I had to keep most workers on the mint.

Kevin made use of his private architect quite a lot, considering there were very few in the supply in general. On the flipside, I used my massive amounts of money to ‘buy time’ and get natural wonders after Kevin had passed, which combined with Grand Canyon at the end yielded a few extra points. Kevin had no military upkeep and was ahead in books the whole game, and while I almost caught up with Chopin, overuse of my population ability left me with not enough food for the famine.

I also used an Advisor that removes colonies in exchange for stone and coin, which was helpful when I switched from Renaissance to Industrial colonies. Stone was tight at the end game and while I couldn’t deploy nearly all my men, Kevin couldn’t get enough military to overtake me for some events. The final scoring was very close however, and I came out ahead by only one point.

Forbidden Island

We had a few minutes before lunch, so David and I sat to play Forbidden Island. I set the bar to Elite, thinking we’d have little trouble unless maybe we got the Diver and Navigator. Which of course, we did. But still, it wasn’t too hard, since three temples were concentrated around fools landing we just waited patiently. The deck almost reshuffled before waters even rose, and though we ended with only a small chunk of land left there was no real doubt.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Though it was Yehuda’s first game and I wanted to start with the Mythos inspired villain Gloomweaver, I also wanted a challenge, so we played Skinwalker Gloomweaver. David was the Sentinels and I was Unity–so while both of us were good to go for Phase 1, after Gloomweaver flipped my army was destroyed and David was put on heavy defensive. Fortunately, Haka was able to tank a bit as well as take out Voodoo Pins with his buffed buffed Taiaha. Yehuda was playing guise, allowing him to make use of Durasteel Chains and Haka’s abilities, so when he had enough cards to play a few at a time made some significant blows to the enemy. Retcon was also our only real Ongoing / Environment management, though he had to sacrifice a turn to stop a volcano in the beginning of the game. Bee Bot staved off a Cultist, only to have Gloomweaver play Vast Following, restoring the cultist for heavy damage, requiring the Volatile explosion of my last two robots. In the end, Gloomweaver was down to 4 HP and flung into darkness one round before he likely would have finished off the Sentinels and Unity.

Our second game, David was playing as the new Tachyon, so we went up against Akash’Bhuta, the ultimate punching bag. While Yehuda quickly adapted to Nightmist, controlling the Villain Deck to prevent the worst, Kevin as Skyscraper was having fun in Large Mode, punching things left and right (including heroes). Only after I took a few blows as the Scholar could I turn healing back into energy, but Proverbs and Axioms also allowed others to heal a bit too. By the time Tachyon was ready to go, she was down to about 8 HP. But while it took until now for all 3 of us to do about 90 damage, Tachyon in one turn did 86 damage, playing three Lightspeed Barrages and Blizting for the damage of another. Too bad she wasn’t buffed, or each Blitz would have been boosted too. Either way, this allowed us to take down Akash’Bhuta just as Shabbat was ending, though with one final effort she played enough limbs to incapacitate Tachyon just before we finished her off. But as we all know, when the Flash runs too fast he ends up coming back somehow anyway, and I’m sure Tachyon will be back for future battles.

Saturday night we played some Spaceteam as well as Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. David doesn’t own the game so he took this opportunity to play the Defuser. We made it to the end of section 6, where the 11 module in 5 minutes with no mistakes bomb had us stuck for 30 minutes before calling it a night, though we did come very close.

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February 3rd, 2018: Bupkes!

Crew Members: Sasha, Yuda, Eitan, Danya, Zevvy, Nechama

I ended up staying in Givat Shmuel for Shabbat, and finally made use of a game that was sitting on the shelf for too long.

Codenames

Easy to teach, we played a few rounds of this so everyone could have a turn giving clues. First round Sasha and Yuda were on a team and did very well, so Nechama suggested boys vs. girls (which seems to be our standard). But with this the boys took the lead, even though many clues were given with a count of “1”.

Bohnanza

Zevvy – 22, Nechama – 21, Eitan – 17, Sasha – 14

I hadn’t played this since college, but bought a copy a while back thinking it would be good for a lighter game session (Citadels in Hebrew looked too intimidating). The game still takes a while because of the nature of verbal deal making, but it was fun and lively and Danya wished she had joined in from the start.

Though Eitan got an early lead with Red Beans, Nechama tried to then stop trading with him, which allowed me to catch up quite a bit. Nechama managed to cash in some garden beans and a lot of Soy and Stink beans, making deals with Sasha. Towards the end Eitan and I were just giving each other beans, and in the last round I got one coin more than Nechama, but I also went first. I took out the Cocoa beans by mistake, so with the few extra turns they would’ve afforded, the outcome could have been different. Either way, everyone had fun, and it was just the right game for the afternoon.

I don’t have a lot of games that can handle more than 4 players. Maybe my next purchase should be something that is easy to teach, scales well, and that I too would enjoy (cause I’m sure not playing Avalon). Time to do some research.

January 27th, 2018: Un-Nameable Title

Crew Members: Zevvy, Yehuda, Elad, Kevin, Avram

I guess this blog has become more about any time I personally end up playing board games, rather than some sort of specific crew. But that’s fine, because we are many.

Hanabi

Yehuda, Elad and I played Friday night, and started off very strong, except in white. We made some mistakes in the mid-game, but managed to get a couple 5s at a critical moment. The final round we missed one more 5, but a final score of 19 for a first game is not bad.

Star Realms

Yehuda picked this up right away, though we kept forgetting the Outpost rule. The first game a lot of expensive cards clogged the market, and while I had some good ships Yehuda had many bases. After taking a beating I managed to get a good strike in between Base plays, but just when I thought I was done for I smashed the bases yet again and made a final push before Yehuda could recover. Our second game I trashed very heavily and overran with Machine Cult and Blob.

Shabbat Day we played another two games I think, and one game Yehuda overwhelmed with Blob while my Trade Federation couldn’t heal me fast enough.

Dominion

The first game I got an early Bishop which helped my trashing, and I managed to trigger my Magic Lamp eventually for gold, which in turn activated my Legionairre attack. Yehuda was able to Mine most of his treasures but bought a Bishop late, so my engine was already ahead. Guide came in handy a few times for both of us though.

Next game had some events, ‘Plan’ which we both used to Trash when buying Nobles, the only real card drawer. Coin of the Realm made it easier to not get stuck, and Count was an interesting card which helped Yehuda trash many of the curses he got from my Soothsayer. This game was closer but while Yehuda had more Nobles and a Duchy, I won the Province split 5-3.

Arkham Horror

Yehuda was finally able to bring over this granddaddy of Mythos themed games. Kevin came over and Avram showed up just in time to join as our fourth. Even without my starting blessing, I got pretty lucky as Sister Mary and picked up a bunch of clues early on. We had a lot of Monster Bursts in a row, so while Terror increased, most of the monsters weren’t in our way. Kevin as the Professor finally managed to defeat one particularly strong monster with the help of the Shotgun, but lost many clues doing so. Though he did seal a gate with an Elder sign, removing several monsters.

Avram as the Magician had quite an arsenal of spells, but before he could go monster hunting was sucked into a gate, forcing several turns to be spent in the Outer Worlds. I used a gate Trophy to bless him but we both lost our blessings the same round, making things even more difficult. Yehuda had some good items, but was knocked out and driven insane, setting him back a bit, though he managed to start rebuilding his arsenal of spells and items quickly thanks to his ability to choose Events.

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With the Doom track more than half filled and only two gates sealed, we weren’t in the best position, but unfortunately ran out of time in the real world.

So many games, so little time…we plan to play Arkham Horror again though, and now that Avram lives closer it should be easier to coordinate game nights on this side of town.

January 20th, 2018: A Bottle of Rum!

Crew Members: Kevin, Zevvy, Orit, Nechama, Misha, Jonathan T., Jonathan D.

Shabbat is always a fresh start. For important things like spiritual matters. Which is But also to get revenge for the outcome last weeks board games. Or at least try.

Patchwork

This was the perfect, easy to teach, quick to play game for before dinner, and various other times throughout Shabbat. I actually did very well the first game, with only 3 empty holes. The next game was more even but I got the 7 points bonus for the win.

Mr. Jack Pocket

For a few bucks from China this is also a nice quick game, though I accidentally doubled the length of the rounds. Misha managed to catch Mr. Jack in what would’ve been enough time anyway, though the game would’ve been different with shorter rounds.

Black Fleet

First game was just me Kevin and Orit. Kevin had fast loading, but his pirate ship spent most of the game out of commission. Orit’s extra cash for raiding and extended range combo-ed nicely, but I was pretty unopposed to bury some valuable treasure in the mid map and get some ‘four capacity’ deliveries. Kevin might have caught up but didn’t quite make port before being robbed of two goods before his final turn.

Second game we played to 20, Nechama joined. A navy ship kept most people’s pirates off one half of the board, so I just went back and forth delivering goods with fast loading and ending the game surprisingly quickly. In general it seems that ‘greedy algorithm’ with some slight risk taking usually works, but I guess if one player gets a breakaway unopposed, the ship upgrades provide positive feedback that needs to be balanced by a good old fashioned gang-up.

Hanabi

After Mincha we started Hanabi but didn’t get to finish, though Misha and Jonathan got the hang of it pretty quick, though we did make two mistakes early.

Some other folks played 7 Wonders and Adios Amigos, which is a game I’ve never played but looks fun, like a combination of Bang, Cash n Guns and some quick adding. Still haven’t found anyone willing to learn Mottainai…though admittedly it’s a confusing game, especially if the first thing you eat all day is several shots of whiskey and arak…

January 12-13th: Revenge is Swift!

Crew Members: Zevvy, Kevin, Nechama, Orit, Tova, Jonathan

With Friday night dinner starting relatively early, we had a good few hours for games after. Nechama asked me to bring a bunch of games over for Shabbat day as well, though in the end we only played one–and it lasted until well after Shabbat!

Black Fleet

First time playing this since Martin left! The colorful board and great looking pieces really draw people in right away, and soon we were stealing cubes and sinking ships left and right. My first upgrade let me move a ship through islands, which was super useful for evasive maneuvers. Nechama could swap the Navy and Pirate ship making her a terror on the seas. Kevin had boosted movement and trade bonuses, and Orit’s insurance made attacking her an exercise in futility. Everyone had enough to ransom the Governor’s daughter, but Orit still had to unlock one development, and I had the most leftover doubloons.

The second game was 3 player. Tova got a great combo of developments allowing her to attack from a distance and attack Merchants with the Navy. Nechama got kind of stuck between this bombardment while I slunk along the side making high paying deliveries. Tova was just a couple spaces away from a high paying shipment but I ended the game, and since she went first didn’t get a chance to complete her move.

Nations

Zevvy – Poland: 43 , Jonathan – Greece: 34, Nechama – Portugal: 28

Kevin – Mali, Orit – Venice | Left after Medieval Age

We started with five players, and a warning that if we play this it’s the only game we’ll be playing until Shabbat is out. Fortunately, after getting through the first couple rounds, everyone was fully invested in the Nations they were building up. Though Kevin and I had no military early on, I made sure to buy wars before others, benefiting from surplus books when not defeated. With five players, being a head in books was a serious advantage for early game points.

After Shabbat though Kevin and Orit had to leave. With fewer players it was harder to count on someone else being worse off than you for an event. Though I did get hit with the penalties for a few bad events, I made sure to have enough resources to cover. Being able to build only one colony frustrated me a bit, but I made sure to use my extra wonder space and even built over a Wonder at the end. I got Hawaii for the extra guy which was a great help before the Northwest Passage made me return it. Nechama built Victoria Falls (a very cool card) and used it to get a 5 food colony for the last round Famine (5).

With the help of the Taj Mahal Jonathan did pull ahead of me in books, but with only 3 players now it wasn’t worth as much. Maybe we should have left Kevin and Orit’s markers on the board, but there’s no official rules for continuing with dropouts.

Even though Nations takes a long time, people have fun playing even if they don’t finish. I feel like we should establish some rules for how to continue if people drop out, since it will probably happen again. Leaving the book markers, while giving more points to me and Jonathan would also have made it worthwhile for Nechama to invest in books as well.

Some other people played Apples to Apples for a bit, but wanted something else. I think they played Codenames for a bit, but had to learn from the instructions (gasp!). They also tried to learn Mottainai from the instructions, which is admittedly difficult. I tried to teach it while playing Nations, but it really requires full focus and is probably best learned 2 players to start. Then again, if reading the Bohnanza instructions was too complicated, Mottainai may have to wait until people get used to more games.

Friday night some people played with good old cards as well as Chess. While it is likely that Chess will still be played 1000 years from now whereas all these games that are printed in limited quantities and require a zillion cards will not, I am happy to live at a time when the variety of games allows each person to find something they enjoy.

January 6th, 2018: Unfinished Business

Crew Members: Zevvy, Kevin, Chaim, Jonathan

Played some games Shabbat afternoon. The day is short, the task is large…

Hanabi

Started playing before the meal because these things never start on time. Two new players, we had to repeat some clues, but we’re doing pretty well on all fronts except Yellow. Didn’t get to finish though.

Nations

Played for over 2 hours, got through 5 out of 8 rounds. I almost got stuck without coins but a well times event got me out of the rut. There were some aggressive military maneuvers. I checked the rules after Shabbat and was correct that Stability only offsets loss from wars but not events, and the events took their toll. Still, it’s not too hard to come back when you get 3 free resources each round, but we didn’t finish after Shabbat.

Some people were playing Settlers–they have at least expanded to Cities and Knights, but since they usually don’t finish a regular game they weren’t even close with this one. Some people commented on Nations as they walked by, and if people we’re actually interested I’d love to teach…but when the comments are things like, “What’s this? A game with no dice?” then I know the term ‘strategy game’ will fall on deaf ears (thought there is randomness in the game due to cards…). The rule book isn’t any longer than Settler’s and there is less text on the cards than C&K. But I don’t know anyone else who actually read the Settler’s rule books–most people just play by oral tradition, which of course leads to arguments and a hodgepodge of house rules, which are fine depending on what the people you’re playing with are looking for in a gaming session. Just means Settlers has been around long enough to become the Monopoly of Euro games.

December 30th, 2017: WWII Ends Early

Crew Members: Zevvy, Kevin, Asher, Nemoy, Joseph, Shachar

Kevin is a big fan of the Civ video games, but I don’t have the patience for it. I do have the patience for several hours of the board game, and that’s exactly what we did today…we were joined by Asher who heard we were playing a 4X game and swallowed the red pill.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game

Our first game I was England, and Kevin was America. But we were brought together by a common cause, since Asher was Germany, and building up military. Fortunately, Germany was slowed down by a lot of water, while England dominated the seas and America was off building things bigger than they need to be. Since last time I played I didn’t touch culture at all, I turned towards Pacifism and built Stonehenge as well–a wonder that’s actually in it’s real-world location.

It did take about an hour to set up and explain enough to a point where we could even start, and was a bit overwhelming at first. After a few turns though everyone got the hang of it, realizing that while you have many options each turn, you have just as many you can ignore. Unfortunately Asher had to leave when Shabbat ended, so we didn’t get very far in our first game.

Kevin stuck around for a one-on-one, this time Spain vs. The Arabs. I was a little scared by Spain’s rapid expansion and exploration in the beginning of the game, and I wasn’t making much use of my culture abilities at first. But once we got some technologies out I quickly sped along the culture track. Spain definitely expanded more, discovering the Golden City and building a 3rd city as well as finding a city state. But I had a good engine going producing enough culture to advance a few spaces each turn, the trade cost reduced by my coins and Ecology, culture reduced by my Endowment for the Arts.

When it became clear that I would win in a few turns, Spain turned its interests to Economics, finding coins wherever possible and building banks in all her cities. On a final decisive turn, I invested, drawing a Level 3 event. Spain went first though, and harvested resources to get a coin with Pottery–but was stopped by Primetime Tv! In a last desperate attempt Spain got some Level 2 event cards, but the last coin was just out of reach as the Arabs advanced the last two steps to a Cultural Victory.

While some of the starting bonuses are better (England is kind of lame…), each Civilization can definitely use it’s advantages and discoveries to find a unique path to victory. I bought Technologies in both these round that at first glance wouldn’t interest me but it all depends what you need. Definitely glad I got to play this again, and hoping to play more in the future. Just have to find patient people with several hours to spare…

P.S. Also played Gloom and 4-P Scrabble on Friday night. Despite the last player getting 33 point adjustment, the player who scored the 71-point bingo still won by 4 points. The Brit tried to spell British slang and I got away with spelling ‘goy’ but not ‘goyish(e)’.

Update: Turns out we missed the rule “city management resource” effects on tech can only be used once per turn. I definitely got culture faster than I should have, but at the end Kevin was also using his coin effects multiple times (at least on the last turn).