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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Status Update, 2017: The Memory Remains

So my last post before this was in July. I started a full time job in August, and at first my game sessions we’re fewer as my schedule balanced out. Still played games on Shabbat occasionally. In the last couple months we’ve had pretty regular meetings at Sarah B.’s place here in Givat Shmuel. David T. has even been here a couple times and his visits were marked by our introduction to Marvel’s Legendary as well as a successful afternoon of Werewolf. In the early days of working I also had cause to go Haifa a few times and got to play with David T. and David M. a bit, including Cthulhu Pandemic, Dead of Winter, and Betrayal with the Expansion.

After Gabe (my cousin) got married, the previous make-up of the Givat Shmuel Board Game Group slowly drifted in different directions. Some members of the Givat Shmuel are still involved in D&D. Though I kept up a bit with it over Skype after leaving Haifa, I don’t think the mission is continuing. I understand Exalted happened for a bit. I also remember playing Battlecon: Devastation of Indines and Thieves Guild with Amyr.

When I first started working we had a game night involving Coup, Settlers, Monopoly Deal, and maybe some other games. People had fun but I think we’re more just looking for a social thing to do that night than to find regular board game hobbyists. For most people here, they can get their game fix on Shabbat if they want.

Most times when people play games Shabbat afternoon it has been Settlers, which always takes hours and leaves people exhausted. I have got some people to play Sentinels and 7 Wonders, and a bit of Dominion. We have had some Sentinels games that needed to be finished after Shabbat.

Now a few of us are able to meet often. We started playing games including Codenames, Avalon and (to my chagrin) even Cards Against Humanity. When a new game introduction goes well and people are excited to play it it makes me very happy. Much as when Martin was bringing a new game every week, I am introducing games with different mechanics so everyon can find something they like. Dominion and 7 Wonders have also been big hits lately, and I even got to play Pictionary a few times (still my favorite game).

Now that I have a decently paying full-time job I’m okay with paying to have games shipped here, and have a few that will hopefully arrive in the mail, though Israeli customs and postal service have me keeping my fingers crossed.

Part of me was itching for some heavier games which I don’t own, and I met Aaron at a Board Game Night and we played Terraforming Mars and Lords of Waterdeep (which I had actually played the Sukkot after making Aliyah, with Yehuda Berlinger’s Jerusalem Strategy Board Game Club). Over Chanuka I quickly stopped by Roee Anuar (admin on Unbored with Bored Games) and played Mr. Jack Pocket with Zohar, as well as King Louis with Matan and someone else (Dror?). Roee has many games I would like to try and hosts on Thursdays occasionally, so hopefully I will be able to go.

Re-reading a lot of old posts gave me nostalgia for a lot of good times. I regret not writing up the various sessions I’ve had since July. Through reading I am now still drawing enjoyment from experiences I’ve had over the past two years.

I will try to commit to photographing and writing about my sessions, as this also provided enjoyment for the other attendees, creates more of a a bond, and from what I’ve seen of successful groups, encourages people to show up and get excited about the write-up as well. It allows the experience to last longer than the few meager hours a week we manage to get together.

That’s enough writing for today. I’ll tag all the games I can remember playing since July since I like seeing them in the cloud on the side of the blog.

Looking forward to creating many more lasting experiences in 2018!

September 22nd, 2016: Brains or Brawn?

Crew Members: Zevvy, Yanir, David W., Juliana, Nima, David T.

Great game night, not too hot, and most of the snacks got eaten. Thanks for coming!

Forbidden Island

Zevvy – Explorer, Juliana – Pilot, David W. – Engineer, Yanir – Messenger

We played this while waiting for Pandemic to arrive, as it is the same designer and has similar game mechanics. We collectively started with four Ocean Chalices, so they were delivered to me to turn in while we kept the island from sinking too much. Shortly after Yanir got two Earth Stones, but both temples were on the western edge of the island and after schlepping out there the tiles were disappearing faster. Juliana turned in the Fire Crystals and though we had enough Wind Statue cards we had to save both Temples and Fool’s Landing from drowning in one fell swoop. After avoiding catastrophe however, it was simple enough to regroup at Fool’s Landing and fly away to victory.

Pandemic

Juliana and the Davids split to play Pandemic, which I hear they were victorious. Take that, evil cube shaped diseases. Science wins again (though you never know how many people died in this game before our heroes found the cure…)

7 Wonders

Nima – Ephesos B: 55, Yanir – Babylon – A: 50, Zevvy – Alexandria A: 46

We quickly taught Yanir to play and soon we were off. Nima went for early military, while Yanir got the other one, leaving me in the dust. I did have good resource production and science, and was able to build some things for free in the following rounds, though I had to play a vineyard for extra cash. Yanir stayed ahead of me with one Military since I was focused on completing two science sets. In the end, my science did not avail me, as Nima had both Military Guilds in addition to his other points. Yanir was close second, with a full science set and a lot of blue cards. I had 52 but lost six for military.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

David W. – Mr. Fixer, Zevvy – Nightmist, David T. – Omnitron X, Nima – Skyscraper

Villain: The Chairman & The Operative – DEFEATED

Environment: Time Cataclysm

The chairman is mysterious and difficult to track down, especially when hiding in the cracks between time itself. Our heroes took an early beating from his Hired Guns, but Skyscraper drew the fire while Nightmist locked down the Unerbosses, giving Mr. Fixer and Omnitron time to get set up. Omnitron’s Abaltive coating kept him well protected from the bulk of damage being thrown our way, and soon he had a few other components as well. We somewhat avoided the brunt of a Prison Break through Astral Premonition, and Fixer and Skyscraper were whacking away at the villains.

Suddenly everything came to a halt, as Fixed Point was played, rendering all cards indestructible. Immediately thereafter another Prison Break occurred, bringing out four underbosses and their respective thugs. Nightmist and Skyscraper were brought beyond the edge of death, but with time stopped around us they were somehow still alive. Mr. Fixer took this opportunity to double his styles, and a punishing blow was dealt by Nightmist’s Oblivion, though even with healing from her Starshield Necklace still left her and Skyscraper below zero HP.

Omnitron continued clearing the thugs, and in a ditch effort engaged a Time Shift on Nightmist, playing Mist-Fueled Recovery, boosting her HP up to 5 and saving her just as Skyscraper destroyed the Fixed Point, sacrificing herself to heal the rest of us a bit. By now most of The Organization had been dealt with, and the Informants were not much of a threat to Fixer’s Dual Crowbars. Another round of beating up The Operative and The Chairman, and Omnitron was ready to charge in and blow up his components, dealing the final ten damage to the nefarious Chairman, leaving his beaten body to remain locked within the ever-shifting strands of time.

Sometimes you need to think it through. Sometimes you need force it. But whatever you need, a little magic doesn’t hurt–and that magic is friendship. Aww.

May 31st, 2016: Danger? Sorry, I was tuning my magical Lyra…

Crew Members: Zevvy, Nima, David W.

Today we go to dangerous places. Because those are always more fun.

RoboRally

We played on the Chop Shop, a map with upgrades, lasers, and scattered pits. Some poor card dealing left Nima in a pit on more than one occasion, and after the third time his poor robot was out for good. I got stuck among the lasers going in circles, but managed to power down in time before exploding, though at one point all my registers were locked. David somehow managed to actually hit all four flags, making this the first completed game of RoboRally I’ve played, albeit with a small number of people.

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Forbidden Island

David – Messenger, Nima – Explorer, Zevvy – Navigator

Nima hadn’t played this before, but ended up as the hero. David and I sat in our comfy offices while Nima braved to dangerous waters of Forbidden Island, collecting 3 out of the four treasures while the Temples sank around him, swimming to safety while David and I plotted comfortably. Getting the last treasure required me to do some actual legwork, and I was the last one back to Fool’s landing before we flew to safety.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Zevvy – Argent Adept, David – Ra, Nima – Expatriette

Villain – Kismet: DEFEATED

Environment: Pike Industrial Complex

 

Our heroes caught up to Kismet in the dangerous Industrial Complex. Grabbing her Talisman early allowed us to get lucky with the environment, taking out the mutated rats as they showed up. In the dark corridors, Expatriette could not find her guns at first, but soon lit the halls with an SMG and some Lightning Rounds. While Ra kept Kismet at bay, Argent Adept removed her jinxes while setting up his instruments. When the music room was all set up, Ra began with the pyrotechnics, and pretty soon Kismet was just another pile of ash to be washed away by the irradiated cyclohexane.

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Lessons learned? Being the fire god in a room full of dangerous chemicals is better than being a robot in a room full of lasers.

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).

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‘…