January 21st, 2018: Not Crowded Enough?

Crew Memebrs: Zevvy, Aaron, Ariel, Adva, Eric, Omri, Guy

Since I probably won’t have time for more games during the week, it was good to get out Sunday night and see some new and familiar faces.

Treasures & Traps

This game is supposed to be a fast paced, take-that kind of back and forth. First time players were overwhelmed a bit by the cards at first, but soon you realize that most of them are just variations on the same theme. Adva dropped out, but still, any time someone was close to winning, they were targeted and robbed. My castle was protecting me, but just when I though I could get three coppers to win with the Royal Edict, Eric steals all my treasure. Eric did get one of each, but the Royal Edict changed the rules and soon after Ariel dropped out, Aaron took the victory.

Terra Mystica

Ariel – Nomads: 138, Omri – Mermaids: 96, Zevvy – Witches: 94, Guy – Chaos Magicians: 78

Everyone chose their race, I just picked randomly. Like last time, I sacrificed way too much power early on, for resources I didn’t even need. I also spent a lot of workers so as not to get boxed in, but wasn’t too worried since my power lets me expand to anywhere. Yet due to the per-round rewards, I expanded into Temples first and didn’t build towns until rounds 5 and 6. I did use my special building to secure the top of two cult tracks, but that probably only got me 8 extra points instead of 10, and I was only competing with Guy who was in last place anyway due to sacrificing way too many points for power.

Ariel, like last time, took the 7 money power action or 6 money bonus quite often before everyone else. I also realize that I try to pass very late, but passing early seems to be better than I thought at first. Though the Nomads were also well suited for all of the various victory point setups this game, and without being countered Ariel had a huge lead most of the game. I was in second for a while, but after final scoring Omri passed me by just 2 points.

This was my third time at Beit Marzeach. I go there to meet new people and play games I haven’t played yet, but it seems that if you want to play a specific game and don’t have players lined up already, or it might be harder to get together the group you want. I notice some people bringing games but not necessarily being able to get people to play.

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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 15th, 2018: Make America Great!

Crew members: Jonathan, Zevvy, Ariel

I ended up free tonight, and called into the void. Ariel was also looking for a game tonight, and I asked Jonathan if he’d be down for Nations, even after our 7 hour game on Shabbat. Of course he was!

Nations

Ariel – America: 47, Zevvy – Egypt: 46, Jonathan – Vikings: 29

The first age showed zero military cards but many raids. As Egypt I started with no military, so I had to buy the war and not much else. Though Pillar of Hercules gave me a temporary +7, so that was quite opportune, but Jonathan’s Viking powers still kept his military lead intact. Ariel’s strong starting production kept him flush with resources for the entire game, until the very last turn when he actually ran out of food.

The second age actually saw no raids, so heavy reliance on raids for stone the previous round left Jonathan with little income. He got some nice bonuses for stability though, and Sun Tzu let him double action, while Ariel’s Buddha let me make some key moves before him, and we competed a bit for architects. At least one round my private architect came in handy.

While I led in books in the early rounds, I soon had to shift my focus elsewhere (like Stability for Genghis Khan), and Jonathan and Ariel overtook me. I definitely took workers faster than others, and Suleiman gave me another two, but for a while I had not enough stone to deploy them. One of my wonders let me buy stone, which was super helpful throughout the game.

Ariel had a nice combo that gave him a ton of stone for upgrading buildings, and in the final round his upgraded buildings gave him tons of books and points. Jonathan didn’t manage to upgrade his buildings that much and lack of resources saw him often passing well before the two of us, though the last round I passed first for a point on the Forbidden Temple. Jonathan did manage to fill out his wonders in the last round, with Titusville and Ford Motor Company combo-ing nicely.

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In the end it was down to one point, but the distribution made this a particular interesting game. Until next time, America was Made Great Again!

This game is more forgiving than some, but can still be punishing if a person doesn’t have the flexibility to change strategies. That’s why I like the dynasty addition, although so far very few people have ever changed–it seems being dynamic with your workers and upgrading at the proper intervals is more important.

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 12th, 2018: What are you building?

Crew Members: Vered, Zevvy, Ariel

With a couple free hours Friday afternoon I went over to Vered since she had some other friends coming over anyway.

Caylus

Zevvy – 64, Vered – 61, Ariel – 60

So I had played this once before almost a year ago, but Ariel refreshed me on the rules. Last time I played I barely contributed to the Castle, but focused more on the blue buildings. This game there wasn’t even an option to get Villas or Blue buildings until the very end, and no one got a blue one anyway. Though there were some opportunities to be a bit more cutthroat in the early game, for the most part no one got screwed over by the white pawn (Provost?). I took the ‘always pay only one coin slot’ from Ariel right away and held it for the rest of the game. There also wasn’t much gold during this game, though Vered got a bunch at the end with the Alchemy building. Though we all had some plans that didn’t quite work out (Royal Favor still confuses me) it was a very close game.

As expected, I stayed about 30 minutes later than I planned but made it home just fine before Shabbat. Glad I got to play this game again with good people.

January 11th, 2018: A Mystical Evening

Crew Members: Vered, Snir, Zevvy, Ariel

When Ariel posted that he was looking to play Terra Mystica, it didn’t take long to gather a crew together. I heard about this game first from my brother actually, and have been wanting to play it since. And with Vered feeding us throughout, I can’t think of a better place to have shared this experience.

Terra Mystica

Ariel: Chaos Magicians – 115, Zevvy: Halflings – 108, Vered: Witches – 105, Snir: Swarmlings – 99

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In the beginning, the land was empty. But that would soon change. Ariel, Snir and Vered kind of bunched up in the middle, while I sandwiched them on the surrounding islands. My isolation put me off to a slower start in terms of economy, but I also wasn’t paying for power so I was ahead in points early on. It was only later that I realized how much power can help, but it never became the focus of my engine. Snir spread out early with his many workers, and Vered built a town straight away to benefit from her point bonus. Ariel started with less map presence, but his Temples zoomed him up the cult tracks and provided other great bonuses. I did manage to secure the Wind Cult which benefited from round-end bonuses early, while Snir was ahead in Water and Ariel in Fire. As we hit the mid-game mark though, money became rather tight in general, but there were alternate means to get anything, if you’re willing to pay…

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As the game neared the end, the options for advancing on the cult track were pretty much used up, so it was about maximizing bonuses whenever possible. Vered built her second town while I tried to Terraform and Ariel and I built as many Dwellings as possible. Ariel and Snir got a lot of points in round five for building Trading Posts too though. The final scoring gave Vered a boost due to being the most spread out, but in the end Ariel pulled ahead with a decent lead, and the land was ruled by the Chaos Magicians.

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Innovation

So I brought some small games, but small doesn’t mean not complex. Innovation is best learned with two players I think, but we were four and dove right in. Vered actually managed to get the first achievement, but not many scoring cards were played which made the game seem kind of slow. I used Gunpowder a bit, but by the time I got the second achievement people were quite literally ‘at sixes and sevens’. Vered’s Pirate Code began to slow me down, but some Chemistry and Electricity let me run away with the game for the 3 and 4 achievements. Ariel had decent splay and Empiricism, but it would’ve taken some time to activate it. I do think the game is best with 2 or 3, like Mottainai.

Usually when I post these I change the time so it matches the date in the title. But a successful game night always bleeds into the next day–Snir even stayed for some one on one Agricola virtual food growing. Or maybe for some real food.

January 7th, 2018: A Case of the Games

I went to Havana Club again for board game night, but left early because I had to be at work super early the next day. Played Lost Legacy with swamp deck a few times, and the grail deck. Was killed my before my first turn, but its a quick game. The grail deck is mostly about lying and hiding cards, while the swamp deck interacted more with the Ruins. Game is basically Love Letter but with different themes / mechanics per set.

Played one-on-one Roll for the Galaxy. Slightly watered down version of Race, with dice and money instead of cards. Seems less strategic than Race, in that you have to do the best with the rolls you get, whereas in Race you can plot out produce / consumes better or explore more easily.

Both these games were brought in a James Bond style case–though Roll for the Galaxy has a lot of additional boards and stuff that make it less portable than you’d think.