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…

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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.

May 5th, 2016: Arrgh!

Crew Members: Zevvy, Martin, David, Nima

We finally got to play the last in a long line of games Martin wanted to teach us. And just in time–we will miss you Martin!

Black Fleet

Players control a Merchant Ship, a Pirate Ship and shared Navy Ships. Delivering goods earns you coins which can be used to buy upgrades, and after all upgrades are bought you can ransom off the governor’s daughter. Sinking ships and raiding goods also produce coins, and special move cards make every turn a little unpredictable.

The early game did not see much use of the pirate ships, as movement was limited and any attempt to raid was countered by the Navy. I picked up a Trade Upgrade early on, and Martin got his Navigation Upgrade which was worded strangely but our interpretations didn’t affect the game too much. Once our Pirate Ships were more mobile players began being raided left and right, and since most people were crossing the center of the map more than one treasure was buried for 6 coins.

David got the Pirate Hideout upgrade which made his ships a universal presence, but with four players the map was crowded enough to hide behind each other, and I managed to safely deliver a full ship near the end of the game. In the final round, David was one movement short of making a delivery, but a lucky draw gave him the push he needed to buy the last upgrade before my turn. Since I went first, the round was over and David won as the only player to pay the ransom.

Black Fleet is a pretty new game, and one of the designers is actually Israeli. Hopefully interest in board games will increase here and prices will drop, though probably economics are more complicated than that (all my economics knowledge is probably from playing board games…)