Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shana Tova

I have a few longer things to say - including last night's session report - but no time right now. So shana tova, and I'll see you on the other side of the (very long) weekend.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shabbat Gaming

Nadine, Abraham, and Sara joined me for lunch. Nadine came early, and we played two-player Puerto Rico with my usual changed buildings (I changed Discretionary Hold to save one barrel, instead of three, but neither of us bought it).

Nadine had early corn and an early victory point lead. But my building was far overtaking hers, even though I let her take Factory and instead took Large Business (provides both Builder and Captain privileges). LB is underrated. It can't undo the victory point lead the way that Harbor can, but it can stop the erosion and still provide a building boost.

We didn't finish, but we were pretty sure that I was going to win.

After lunch, Sara, Abraham, and I requested Antike, which we played over Nadine's mild objections (she would have preferred Power Grid). Turned out to be a great game experience, even for Nadine.

I won the game 8 to 7 to 7 to 7 (we play to one point less than the suggested value); as you can see, very close. We played on the Arabian board. I started in Palestine, smack in between the other players. I kept tight control of my little area, using my first-player advantage (which offset my pathetic position) to nab Market for the first victory point. But I had competition for Know-hows, and Nadine ended up getting four of the VPs there. I build some temples, but Abraham destroyed one when he took Wheels. Luckily only one, as he was one unit away from sacking both.

The next round I placed dozens of units to protect the rest of my holdings and, together with Democracy, I was undisturbed for the rest of the game. Nadine floated around Greece, pulling ahead to 6 points over my 5, because no one was disturbing her. Abraham tried his opening triple temple strategy again. Sara built up a huge pile of resources and exploded suddenly from 3 to 10 areas in one turn. Then she sacked one of Abraham's temples, since he had left them open after he had sacked mine.

Then Abraham sacked one of Sara's temples, since she had left hers open to sack his. This left one of Abraham's temples open for me to sack, which gave me the one extra point necessary (together with 7 seas) to pull ahead of Nadine to 7 points. I was easily able to take my last point in the Know-hows (all 8) regardless of what the other players did, though all of them got one more point in the final round.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Session Report, in which Lo Ra is intense

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up. Games played: Taj Mahal, Lo Ra, Yinsh, Whatzit.

Nadine gains 17 bonus points at the end in Taj Mahal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Raanana Session Report, in which Laurie compares Puerto Rico favorably to Age of Empires III

Participants: Jon, Peleg, Abraham, Rochelle, Tal, Ellis, Laurie, Ben Ah, a normal sized game night (for Israel). It's been a while since I saw one. Rochelle is a new player. The others have experience with gaming.


Abraham 16, Tal 19, Rochelle 19, Peleg 23, Jon 23

Or something like that. First play for everyone except me, I think. Everyone enjoyed it, and there was definite direct confrontation.

Settlers of Catan

Abraham 10, Tal, Peleg, Rochelle

First play for Rochelle. She liked it a lot. She kept Longest Road for some a lot of the game - though not because she was pursuing it - until Abraham Tal stole it. I don't know much else about the game.

Puerto Rico

Jon 56, Rochelle 51, Ellis 41, Ben 33

First play for Laurie, third or so for Ellis. Ben had played before, but certainly nowhere near as much as I had. I'm guessing that his experience is limited to a small group of other players, a) considering his strategy and b) considering two rules misconceptions that he held. As to the former, his first play as Governor was Builder/Construction Hut, which he followed up with Hospice, Hacienda, and three quick quarries (and eventually a forth). He shipped only 8 points, and ended with two large buildings, one of them unmanned. As to the latter, his first misconception was that you could buy multiples of the same building, and his second was that, if you didn't like the available plantations, you could instead draw one at random from the face down supply.

Ellis also put stock in a Hospice and some early corns. His major mistake was in choosing tobacco as his trade good, even though Laurie on his right had already acquired tobacco. Laurie accepted guidance, of course, but also made a good number of her own decisions. She had a hard time keeping the roles straight, especially as to how they fit into the "production path".

As second player, I took Small Market on round one, and then Settler/quarry, despite two available corn plantations. Most of the rest of the corn showed up early, so I got some anyway. I took indigo and coffee. I had a coffee monopoly until the end of mid-game. My chance for a third row building was at the end of mid-game and I chose Harbor over Factory (I had enough money with coffee). The other players also left me Guild Hall, even after I encouraged them to take it.

Like many Puerto Rico games, unexpected choices occurred frequently. While this sometimes helped me, it also sometimes threw me off my game.


Tal, Rochelle, Abraham

I picked this up from someone for free. No one is interested in playing the game, but the cards are fun to look at.


Abraham, Rochelle

First play for Rochelle. It started off okay, but once there were a lot of pieces on the board, she started to get a headache.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Raanana Session Report, in which Abe wins Age of Empires III due to luck, luck, and (maybe) luck

Participants: Jon, Abraham, Sara, Peleg, Ellis, Laurie

Laurie is back from summer vacation. Sara also joined us, but opted to "join Abe's team" when we had six, and she had to take care of the baby anyway. Before settling on Age of Empires III, I set up a game of Guardians of Graxia, but we didn't get to play it (I wasn't about to try it with 5 or 6 players).

Age of Empires III

Abraham/Sara 94, Jon 91, Ellis 64, Peleg 59, Laurie 55

First plays for Laurie, Peleg, and Ellis, and second or third for Abraham and Sara. I chose this because it supports five players well and has a wee bit of combat in it. I know that Ellis and Peleg are war game fans, but I don't have many games with these elements; I'd be happy to try them on Antike. Laurie was a little nervous because it didn't look like something she would like, however.

Turned out to be a success, even with Laurie, I think. Peleg saw soldiers in his pieces and dedicated the rest of his game toward acquiring them and using them to shoot people. He did some damage, though sometimes he just shot them for the fun of it. He also had some money coming in from his soldiers discovering.

The "take $20" building didn't some out until round 2 (and I would have thrown it back to ensure that it didn't come out in round 1), and Laurie was the only one who could buy buildings in round 2. She also got the "free discovery" in round 2, making me thing that she had a decent lead at this point. However, she tried an failed to make several discoveries, often by a single person. Other people then stole those discoveries from her. This set her back.

Ellis had decent money coming in from a building in age 2 ($10 a round). I'm not sure where he went wrong, but a) he didn't seem to build up anything in particular, and b) Peleg kept shooting his guys (when he wasn't shooting mine).

That leaves me and Abe. I started unusually for me by concentrating on commodities instead of discoveries and buildings. It slowed me down for some time. Only when I got a few extra specialists and was able to take some merchant ships did I begin to pull ahead (in income, anyway). Together with placement and buildings, I was getting one of each specialist a round.

As usual, I took a number of second place victories in the New World, a position that slipped under the other players' radar, apparently. After my income was secure, I went back to concentrating on discoveries and some final buildings. The trouble was that though I at least succeeded in my discoveries, they were all low valued discoveries of 4 or 5 points.

Meanwhile, Abraham was doing as many discoveries as I was (even more) and his were all 6 or 7 points. He also ended with a lot of money. He had 61 final scoring points in discoveries, cash, and buildings, which was impressive. I came rather close to that by adding my income. However, would I have picked his cards, and he mine, the final result would have been reversed.

Or maybe not ... it's possible that if I had picked his cards that I might have failed one of the discoveries, since I generally send n-1 guys. Ok, so maybe it wasn't entirely luck.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

JSGC Session Report, in which Emily scores the same in two games, but comes first in one and last in the other

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up. Games played: Lo Ra, It's Alive, Louis XIV.

Good to see game night continuing without me.

Raanana Session Report in which I win Glory to Rome using Forum but feel guilty

Participants: Jon, Abraham, Peleg, Ellis

Some others were hoping to make it, but in the end they couldn't.

Seven: Card Game

Abraham 3, Jon 2, Peleg 2

Another game I was sent to review, the review will go up on Purple Pawn in time. I warn publishers before they send me games that I'm a harsh reviewer, and I try to turn down games that I know I won't like. This one came through anyway.

It's a souped up version of Go Fish. Instead of all items in a set being the same, there are seven different items in seven different sets and you have to ask for the item by name, but only if you have an item in that set already. There are also about 20 special ability cards. A few are bad (reveal immediately), but most are good, and you can only play good one per turn.

I'm not a fan of Go Fish, and neither were Abraham or Peleg. However, they both appeared to enjoy themselves while playing the game. Abraham even took my copy home. Peleg didn't think he would play it again.

Glory to Rome

Jon+, Abraham, Ellis, Peleg

First play for all the other players. Maybe I should have, after all, not played with the building powers, as is suggested for the first play. I am pretty happy with this game - so much so that I ordered the new edition with nicer graphics - but I think that the Forum ruins the game. I don't mind broken combinations, because there are usually several, and at least everyone feels like they are still completing for the original goal. But, when you do well and play well, and then a card says that the game is over and the win handed to the player who drew and played the card, it's a letdown.

There are ways to combat a Forum, unless it is played and completed on the same turn and near the end of the game. And if these ways come into play, the building isn't necessarily broken. It is simply broken sometimes, and that's too many times for me.

Oddly enough, despite my concern that I would turn them off the game, I was the one to play a Forum. The other players had plenty of time to work against me, and did so to some extent. In fact, they could actually have ended the game by taking the remaining foundations, but, for some reason, they didn't. I ended with a Forum victory when there were two foundations remaining.

Which brings me to another note: I play with one change to the rules: each player can only be building, at any one time, three buildings. This restriction only actually hampered someone once during our game. I created the change because I thought the game play devolved when every player started six buildings all at once, and ended before pretty much before anything was built. However, I note that, by restricting the number buildings you can build at a time, I am decreasing the ability of the other players to stop the Forum. So I may have to rethink it.

Another possible change I am thinking of is having the game end as soon as one player completes one building of each color.

The rest of the game saw pretty balanced play, with no powerhouse combos brought into play. Ellis wasn't too keen on the game. I'm not sure how the others felt.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Board Game Blog World Roundup

New to me since the last roundup:

Boardgaming: A new social media site for board games, the feed includes various contributors from the site.

Boards and Beers: Michael Taylor, NH.

East Tennessee Gamers: Greg Schloesser, Talbott, TN. The original game pumbah has a new site with a feed.

Games & Grub: Eric Leath, Columbus, OH. Mostly games.

Growing Up Gamers: Randy and Angie Newnham, Eugene, OR. Gaming with kids.

Kevin and Games: Kevin O'Sullivan, Sussex, UK. Session reports.

Lillian Cohen-Moore: WA. Some sparse notes from a game co-designer and magazine editor.

My Board Game Ideas: Clive Lovett, Kamloops, Canada. Thoughts on game design.

Play the Past: Multiple contributors on multiple genres of gaming.

Raanana Gamer: Ellis, Israel. Session reports from my new game group.

The Royal Society of Gamers: Henrik, Conrad, and Karl. Podcast.

The Secret Life of an American Geek Mom: Sara Yarrington, Manchester, NH. She also podcasts.

Tim Stellmach: Arlington, MA. Video game designer who talks a lot about board games.

Warpig Radio: Ed Healy and Dan Repperger. Podcast.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Raanana Session Report in which Abraham wins Agricola because he had better cards

Participants: Jon, Abraham, Ellis, Peleg

Quest Adventure Cards

I promised the company who sent me this game to give this a review. I had tried it once before and found it lacking, so I was determined to try it one more time. It was still lacking.

Abraham and I gamely gave it a go. We drew random cards and played them whenever we could. We ran into some rules questions, which didn't matter too much.

And then, simply by luck, the game ended before we could score the  last quest, which resulted in a tie. Even though I was winning by a great number of points. Even if Abraham could have ended it, he had no incentive to do so.


Abraham 39, Jon 24, Ellis 24, Peleg 21

First plays for Ellis and Peleg, something like third or fourth play for Abraham.

I found it a challenge to explain the game as simply as possible, even though Ellis and Peleg are both pretty smart gamers. But we started without too much trouble and everything ran pretty smoothly. Still, a few finer points of the scoring rules tripped at least Ellis up around the game's end.

Since it was the first play for two out of the four players, we simply dealt 7 occupations and minor improvements to each player, rather than do any kind of draft, which is what we would normally (and really must) do. As a result, everyone but Abraham had one or two good cards and the rest mediocre of useless cards. Abraham ended up with god-like cards, including a free early family member, lots of free early food (and the Well, nearly for free), and bonus points up the wazoo.

Abraham scored more bonus points than I've ever seen in a game - 19, but we all really thought he would be scoring even more than that. As we watched them pile up, I was sure that he was at least 10 to 20 points ahead of the nearest competitor, who I was pretty sure was me. (In fact, he would have scored another 5 bonus points if everyone didn't allow me to take back a play I made on the last round in favor of a better play that blocked him.)

Abraham's board was complete, but mostly minimum, and he scored only 12 points for people and nothing for buildings. Ellis also had an even, mostly minimum board with a full people count but only 1 bonus point. Peleg also had an even, minimum board, but he had 8 empty board spaces, which counteracted his 4 room stone house. And only 1 bonus point. I had minimum in most things, maximum vegetables, a full board, a clay house, full people, and 8 bonus points.

Ellis wasn't looking terribly impressed, mostly because Abraham had a good early lead from his cards and there wasn't much we could do about it. However, the prospect of drafting cards appeared to spark his interest in giving the game another go.