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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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 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.

February 25th, 2016: Let’s Start a War

Crew Members: Martin, Zevvy, David

Martin had us over to play Nations. I though that since Martin and I knew how to play already, and David would pick it up quickly, it wouldn’t take too long. We were there for over six hours…and it was awesome. We also added some expansion content.

Nations

Zevvy – Korea: 41, David – America: 39, Martin – Mali, 32

There were very few military options in the first age, so I led in military and wars while Martin and David competed in books and we all began developing our empires. Martin appointed Sun Tzu as his leader, giving him two turns in a row each round. I built Solomon’s Temple which gave me a point at the end of every age as long as I don’t lose a war, which I managed to make use of throughout the whole game. David had a lot of stability which protected him from the wars and some bad events.

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The dynasty cards made a huge difference, allowing me to put resources into storage and recover from bad events. I built a synagogue because I felt I had to, but I never used it…and almost built over it with a mosque. For a while I was the only one with colonies, but David got some in the third age and Martin picked up some powerful colonies near the end of the game. The last few rounds saw a huge arms race, with Martin building enough submarines to max out his military. David’s Democratic Republic caused havoc with our dynasties and got him a lot of books. In the last round I managed to build the Statue of Liberty and pick up Florence Nightingale, who protected me from losing several points by not being able to feed any of my workers.

The final tally was very close, and any number of small changes would have allowed America to come out on top. Until next time, all hail the Korean Warlord!

We did take a break for an hour in the middle, but it’s still a long game, even if you know what you’re doing. Lot’s of fun though.

December 15th, 2015: When Nations Collide

Crew Members: Zevvy, Martin, Roman

After a few weeks hiatus, the crew is back in action. Though we did meet to play some ‘vidja games’, nothing beats old cardboard and plastic. Martin was finally able to make it, bringing Swedish cookies, a Swedish game, and his good old Swedish self.

Nations

Zevvy – Egypt: 47, Martin – Greece: 44, Roman – China: 37

Martin taught us the game, which is mostly a worker placement game but with some interesting twists. Every round there are events which are easy to forget, but which have quite potent effects. As the game progresses, the cards get more powerful, but the upkeep costs go up. Despite this, one need not worry about getting left behind, as there are many areas in which to specialize and the focus of your empire can be changed quite quickly.

As Egypt, I had no military to start, but quickly picked up an elephant. Combined with my pyramids, my early upkeep costs were quite high, and I was short on resources. Roman quickly pulled ahead in books, and Martin began developing wonders and better resource production. I wasted some gold and turns on advisors which I either lost or which gave me no benefit. I did build the Sphinx early, which ended up being very helpful as I built more wonders later in the game.

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Roman stayed ahead in books, and I mostly ignored them. With more players, having the most books can be worth many more points. In general, I had the most military and went first often, which occasionally was very helpful. This allowed me to get some powerful colonies, combined with the Big Ben wonder, netting a lot of points in the end. Martin built many wonders as well, and ended up hoarding a ton of resources. Roman was hit by a few nasty events, limiting his ability to upgrade his production somewhat.

Though I started with low books and stability, in the end I had very high levels of both. After final production I had 45 books, but actually had the least military, even at 24. I also managed to overtax my population thanks to Suleiman the Magnificent, which gave me the most population for the Statue of Liberty wonder.

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After the final tally, it was very close. In fact, the difference was 3 points, which is how much I got from my starting Pyramid wonder. Unfortunately for Roman, the Chinese would have to wait several centuries before their empire would ascend over their rivals…

This one game took us 4 hours to learn and play to the end. Martin described it as a ‘medium complexity’ worker placement game, and I agree. I think we’ll need to plan an all-day games day if we hope to play one of his ‘high complexity’ games.