Monday, January 31, 2005

The Go club, and others

Preparation is now underway to have our first club meeting in the coffee house.

Jerusalem has a number of other game clubs.

There is a Go club that meets once a month. They have been meeting in a local restaurant for a few months, but I think they might be happy to join us. I like them. Most of their players play only Go, and have no interest in learning anything else, which is fine with me, but a few of them might cross over, and I would like to play Go once in a while. In any case, a bigger club means more presence.

There is a Chess club forming. There are probably many chess players, but I don't know any official clubs for adults.

There is a Diplomacy club that meets whenever, several bridge clubs that meet every night of the week (no hope there, they are not the cross over type), and the world's largest Scrabble club (ditto).

We also have a weekly Magic tournament in the mall, Shogi fans, thousands of street backgammon and checkers players, Rummikub players, and who knows what else.

Now that Settlers, and some other Mayfair and Fantasy Flight games are starting to reach this country, here's hoping for growth.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Coffee House

So I get a call from a local coffee house (formerly bar) from around the corner. They saw my listing in the newspaper, and want to attract my game club to play in the coffee house.

They will get more people eating and drinking in the coffee house, and try to turn the place into a hopping scene (of course, I only get 6 to 10 players a night, so I don't know how that will happen).

We would get a nice place to play, with food items available, and more exposure. Of course, we would have to bring the games each week, and we would lose the ability to eat meat during game night (only local dairy food in the coffee house).

We will try it out next week.


P.S. Last night's session report is up on my website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dramatic Puerto Rico Game

Puerto Rico, even the basic game, is still dramatic.

I played an online game with my wife and my friend David Klein, last night. P.S. it was my wife's birthday. I guess you could call this the birthday game.

We played at, a nice little site for turn based play. Since it is all HTML (and a little JavaScript), there is no issue of firewalls or unsupported clients (well, Lynx probably wouldn't work, but you can't have everything). What it does require is a lot of page refreshing.

My wife and I played on the same screen, she using Internet Explorer, me using Opera. David connected from his own home computer.

Rachel was first, David second, me third. The initial plantation draw was 2 indigos and 2 tobaccos, which sucks for second place, of course. The game began fairly normally, Rachel taking an early Harbor, and David and I taking Factory, which seems to have come back into style.

Long story short.

Most games of PR last about 15 rounds, sometimes, 16 rounds. Almost never 17 rounds. For some reason, when playing online, the games seem to last 16 rounds more often, and 17 rounds also fairly often, but still, no more than 17 rounds.

We are headed towards a typical 16 round game. Rachel has Guild Hall, Harbor, and Large Market, and had about 16 shipping points, 23 building points including bonus from Guild Hall which is manned. David K has Fortress (unmanned), Factory, all production buildings, four empty building spaces, and less shipping points (maybe 10). I have City Hall (unmanned), Factory, Coffee, Small Warehouse, only two empty building spaces and about 2 shipping points shy of Rachel, and 2 building points shy of Rachel. David cannot afford a big building, but I can.

The ships were all half full with Tobacco, Coffee, and Sugar. Round 16, David is 2nd to take a phase in this turn. David takes Craftsman, assuming that I won't take Builder to buy one of the last two big buildings, because if I do, the game ends without my manning them, and Rachel wins. Now David has over 10 GP, I have over 10 GP, and Rachel is cash shy, but still has enough for Large Sugar, whose 4 points would match any unmanned 4 point building I buy.

I take Builder. Before I can actually choose my building, I get a phone call from David. "Why did you do that???". "Take a look at your board," I reply. I bought Wharf, leaving me one empty space. He had assumed I was about to buy a big building. "Whew!", he says, and hangs up.

David, of course, buys a big building (Custom's House). Round 17. David, as governor, takes Mayor to fill both big buildings ... and my Wharf. The I take Craftsman again. I'm now sitting with something like 3 indigo, 6 corn, 3 coffee (3 empty spaces in the coffee ship, and David is the only other person producing it). Rachel takes Trader, since she can't ship much, and she wants to get Coffee Roaster next Builder.

Round 18.

I take Captain. My Wharf has given me 4 VP (for City Hall), 3 VP (coffee) + 6 VP (corn) +1 VP (captain) for shipping, and another 3 VP since I am about to buy Hospice. Not a bad alternative to a big building.

Game ends ... And David and I both have 53, David has 6 GP and one barrel (having tossed out something like 10 barrels of all five goods), I have 3 GP and 3 barrels.

I can't stand it.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Rules mistakes, games played.

OK, it turns out that I'm not the best rules reader. Someone else should really check me.

Traumfabrik: Reading more carefully, it seems that the extra indivisible amount of contracts ends up in the middle of the board, and not on each particular space. These extra contracts are added to and divided along with the next bid.

Geschenkt: The original rule was that the player who wins the bid starts bidding on the next card. We all seemed to think that this is a terrible idea, because if you take a card with no tokens, and you have no tokens, you must take all of the remaining cards in the game. Well someone on BGG pointed out the should-have-been-obvious to me: This is impossible. The first player to play has 11 tokens. Every time you take a card, if you weren't the one that flipped it, it must have at least one token on it. Ergo, you will always have at least one token to play.

Last Wed's session report on my website, as usual.

Thursday I played my usual 2 player PR with expansion buildings with my wife, Rachel. Some buildings are just included standard, now: Large Business (privilege of Captain and Builder) instead of Harbor; Small Wharf, or something equivalent, instead of Large Warehouse; Small Fashion District (sell indigo at +2), or equiv, instead of Construction Hut; also replacements for University and Office, whatever comes up. Very typical buildings include Large General Production Building (8/3, produce two of anything with corresponding plantations), Exchange House (swap barrels with Trading House at the ed of the Trader phase (a good answer to LGPB, but somewhat powerful in 2 player)), Surveyor's House (2/1 choose any plantation from supply, instead of turned up one), plus a few variant large buildings (vps for building types, or plantation types, of empty spaces or circles, etc...)

Shabbat I played.

- Traumfabrik twice, this time with the correct rules. The first time intruducing my daughter aged 11 and her friend and my mom to the game. They enjoyed it. The second time introducing my friend and several other guys in their teens. They also liked it.

- Anagrams, twice. Tough games, playing with my friend, who won the National Scrabble tournament, once. I lost the first game, closely, but won the second game even more closely (something like 49 to 47 tiles). While he has a ridiculously larger vocabulary for dumb words (like eau, aquae, and zoea), I am a hair quicker on the draw, better prepare myself for particular letters I am on the lookout for, and not bad at anagramming, myself.

- Dvonn. First time play, I was wondering if it would suffer from the same problem that I have with the games I tend to design, namely that there are so many choices that it seems random. Fortunately, while it did seem a little random, that was more because I had no idea what I was doing, rather than that I had too many choices. Nevertheless, any game where all pieces are essentially shared, is very hard to wrap your brain around. For the rules, see BGG.

We place our pieces, and I thought I was doing better since I had more pieces on the outside and therefore more liberty and choices. It didn't help, as gradually all of my pieces were either recaptured or simply removed from the board. I had a wipeout at the end, with no pieces left. Ugh.

- Torres. My friend tried it, and surprisingly to me, didn't really like it.


Friday, January 21, 2005

Game trading

I just did a little game trading with the TA group. These trades are just temporary. We expect them to return, or at least remain fluid.

I gave them:

Die Macher - which we can't ever find time to play. Next time we have a long night, I want to try the railroad game again.

Goa - which we dont' play much, since I hate it. 'Sokay, we got some stuff in return.

Through the Desert - which we were becoming less interested in playing, as it is very serene.

Plus, they also have a copy of San Juan.

We got in return:

Chez Geek + expansion (just for laughs, one time)
Strange Synergy (ditto)

We already have of theirs: Evo (none of us like it enough), Taj Mahal, and Amun Re

Speaking of loaning games, Daniel walked off with Amun Re and San Juan for the weekend to play with his family, and my stepson has been borrowing Settlers a lot to play with his father's family until they buy their own. I think Nadine has a copy of something. Can't remember.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Game designing

Other people seem to make blog writing so easy. I guess I will have to branch out of only writing about games if I will have to have something to say.

But first, the game design process.

I am an unsuccessful game designer (so far), so you have nothing to learn here. Move along, move along.

Tonight was a typical night in the process. Take a grid board (Othello), and a hex board (Tikal), place various colored pieces (Othello and El Grande) onto the board in various different positions, and try to combine elements into something unique.

Well, this might one day give me a playable variation on checkers, or hex, or something like that. Would that be enough for a publishable game? Especially, after my long tirade recently against forcing others to pay for games that can easily be created by home components. (Well, that is not a problem: add some nice pieces, or some cards.)

Or, should I be reaching for something meatier. I have a meaty game design on the back burner. Maybe I should bring it forward, and see what happens.

Knizia makes it look so damn easy. Geschenkt wasn't one of his, but Kingdoms was, as is this other simple game I came across on BGG this evening called Flinke Pinke. How simple! I can do that!

Actually, I don't really like Kingdoms, and I haven't tried Flinke Pinke, yet. Will do next game session.

Work, work, work.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

As the World Turns

Game session last night, report on the website.

Good news about the car break in. Found my CDs tucked under a seat, so they weren't stolen. And the insurance fixed the glass for free. Unfortunately, will cost me 500 NIS to get a new CD player, or 350 to get a new tape player.

Time to look up what the available options are.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

This is Your Life

More and more bad things, more and more good things.

My poverty level is now getting acute; I am now living by charging gas and food to my parent's credit card.

Today I go to my car (bought by money from my parents after having to sell the first one to live on) and the back window is broken, CD stolen, and alarm still on (still trying to figure out how that worked).

On the plus side of the world:

My son Saarya was accepted into the best 9th grade, and we're now applying for tuition reduction to see if he can go.

My daughter Tal has a reasonable chance of going to the best 7th grade that suits her. We are applying.

I am getting contacts from the gaming world: Guido Tueber as I mentioned, and Dan Rowen from Playroom Entertainment (publishes David and Goliath, among others) interested in me finding him a distributor here, and willing to send my group games to test out.

My creativity is working, and I have come up with serveral game designs that I am working to fit into good games. I need playtesters and critiquers.

I am enjoying game play. Would like more games to play, but I will have to settle for whatever comes my way for the near future.

The game group has good regulars, pretty nice people.

So the ups: kids and games, and friends. The downs: money, pretty much. And, that I'm not enjoying my job, which is most of my day. I would rather be working in the game industry, somewhere.


Monday, January 10, 2005


Inspired by the contest at, I am working on TCP 6. TCP 3 and TCP 4 were submitted to the current design submission, TCP 1 and TCP 2 to last year's. None of them have been sufficiently playtested, and all need minor to major overhaul. I am hoping to give TCP 6 a good playtest before submission.

TCP = Tri-colored pieces. Mostly abstract games based on blue, yellow, and red pieces.

TCP 0 (aka Mugwump) ... I should really get back to that one of these days. It is the only meaty, not entirely abstract, one.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

Saturday: Torres x 2 and Puerto Rico

My friend Shlomo came to visit Israel briefly and stopped by for shabbat. I taught him Torres, and he was happy, so we played again. I told his that since he is returning to America via Germany, he should try to pick it up on the way back. Actually, he should have picked up some games on the way over, tsk tsk.)

Torres is just one of those games I get pretty well. Not too challenging. Since most of the people I play with also get it, the game comes down to fighting over a few points, and most of the moves play themselves (or some equal alternative). Still willing to play to see if I'm missing something deeper.

Puerto Rico was two player with my wife, as usual.


Friday, January 07, 2005

One week

Saturday: played Tikal, Puerto Rico, and San Juan with my wife.

Sunday: cause controversy on spielfrieks by stating that I play some games by constructing them from pieces I have lying around rather than buy them.

Monday: buy used computer game ($4.20, including shipping) from westbankgamers as a future present. Thanks, Greg.

Tuesday: receive email from Guido Teuber interested in my rail game design on a Settlers board, offers me a game (Oceania) to thank me for spreading the word, and wants to do an interview.

Wednesday: game night - 6 games. Session report on my website:

Thursday: no gaming :-( . Usually I game with my wife in the evening, and almost always 2 player Puerto Rico with expansion buildings from my sets.

Friday: friend coming for shabbat, much play expected.

All week: 5 simultaneous games online at .


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A nice email from Guido Teuber

I got a nice email from Guido Teuber, asking me about Railroads of Catan, my rail game played on a Settlers Board.

I sent it to him, with information about myself, and he was happy to hear about my efforts to spread the Mayfair name in Israel. Offered to send me a free copy of one of Mayfair's latest games in token of appreciation, to review the rail game, and possibly interview me about efforts in gaming as part of the international gamer scene (similar to the interview I did on spotlightongames, I'm guessing).

I'm a happy camper.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Another Fine Mess

About a year ago, I started a hot discussion with, what I thought would be taken as, a slight personal question. I had not yet bought Amun Re, and I was considering doing so. However, for various reasons which I won't repeat here, I asked if there was a way of blacking out all references to sacrifices in the game, as I thought some members of my game group would feel uncomfortable with that theme during play. I would instead come up with some other reason to explain the mechanic. (I did - we now all pay money to the corrupt government official in charge of irrigation.)

For the entire thread, look here:, look for Amun Re.

Well, I posted last week's blog entries on Spielfrieks ( and started another storm. The object of this storm was my statement about Geschenkt: "I can't see why one would buy the game unless you have lots of disposable income." Geschenkt is a game played with 33 cards numbered 3 to 35 and 55 indistinguishable tokens.

The following points ensued:

- That I was implying that those who bought the game were saps for spending their money. (point taken, my bad. I should only have said, "I can't see myself buying the game ...")

- That people buy simple games for many reasons: They want the nice game bits. They want to support the designer, publisher, etc... That playing the game with your own bits after reading the rules could be a form of stealing. That publishers won't realease good games like Geschenkt if people don't buy them. That publishers will stop releasing rules free to the internet. That simple cheap games make nice gifts.

- Some said that they would make a mockup to play a game only: to test the game. if it was out of print. not yet available where they are. etc...

- Very few people outright supported me, I think largely because I didn't really make any particular statement, other than that I wouldn't buy a game with simple components that I could create, and I didn't have a lot of money.

- A few people did mention that many games are available for free on websites, such as BrettSpielWelt, publisher websites, etc... I'm sure there are plenty of people playing online who have no immediate intention of buying all these games.

Some questions are still unanswered:

- If you play the game 100 times with a mockup and then get bored with it, can you then decide not to buy the game? Is it ok to play with a mockup, or is this like a movie, where games are only expected to be enjoyed a certain number of times, anyway?

- Does your own income level factor into this? I wouldn't condone one rule of ethics or law for poor people versus well-off people, but if you know the rules of a game, and you have components to play it, are you forbidden from playing it if you don't actually own the game, because you can't afford to buy it?

- Should we really be encouraging game after game published with the same components just because the idea is good? How many five suited decks do we really need to buy, just because someone came up with a new idea of how to play with them?

- Are we obligated to support the game industry? Doesn't buying only games that we feel are worth it count? Does the game industry really need are support? Is supporting the game industry really going to get us better games, or would it be better to expect publishers to realize that the public will only buy games that include substantial components?

- Are game ideas patentable?

Questions go on and on. The notable aspect about both of these discussions, with a very minor exception or two during the Amun Re discussion, is that much of the discussion was high level and without rancor. I think that says a lot about the people in this community.