Saturday, July 08, 2006

Weekend Gaming

First of all, my second boing from Boing Boing (for the previous article) is producing very different traffic patterns from the first one.

Last time, most of the traffic was directly from or from a Spanish equivalent . This time the majority of traffic is coming from livejournal users reading BB as a feed using the "friends" feature. How strange. Are there so many new livejournal users? So many livejournal readers who read BB? So many people who no longer read BB on their web site? Or is this just a weekend traffic pattern?

Anyhoo ...

There was a lot of gaming this weekend at my house. I taught Tal how to play two-player Pinochle, one of the few reasonably good mainstream two-player cards games that I know. We also hosted guests for the weekend: David and Evida (non-gamers) and their daughter Adi.

Tal and Adi played many games, including Gin Rummy, Set, Oh Hell, Havoc, and Yinsh.

For Saturday lunch we had even more guests: Avi, Shari, and Amitai. Avi I had introduced to Settlers of Catan many years ago and they still often play it at their house. I haven't quite gotten him past it to new games, yet, although his kids have played a few other games, here and there. I had some success today.

First off, I got David (a minor miracle) and Avi and Adi and Tal playing Apples to Apples. Everyone loved it, even David. Amitai and Saarya joined for a second round of it later in the afternoon.

I also got in a game of Taj Mahal with Avi, Amitai, Saarya, and Tal. I've always maintained that Havoc bears a strong resemblance to this game, and Tal and Adi both confirmed that as soon as we started playing. Tal played with the same strategy she uses to play (and win) Havoc, which is saving up for the last battles.

This doesn't work quite as well in Taj Mahal, since points are cumulative depending on what you earned in previous rounds. Nevertheless, she came in a reasonably close second to me. I did very well because I managed to arrange, from the fourth turn onwards, to have an entire hand with only one suit of cards for the entire game. The scores were actually pretty close until the end of round 9 or so, and then I pulled ahead, followed by Tal. Great game.

Later, I arranged for Tal, Adi, Amitai, and Saarya to play Modern Art, which Amitai won. Both Tal and Adi said that it reminded them of Masterpiece. They would have played Masterpiece, too, if it wasn't already too late.

Meanwhile, I played Puerto Rico with Rachel and Nadine. I swapped in a few buildings on low rotation. The building set was:
  • Wildcat Strikers 1/1: At the beginning of any round, you can sacrifice this building and return the colonists on it to the supply in order to change one of the phases this round into Prospector instead of its usual function.
  • Small Fashion District 2/1: Trade indigo at +2.
  • Forest House 2/1: You may take a Forest during Settler. Pay 1 less per building if you have 1/3/5/7/... Forests. [This is slightly upped from the official version. The ability to block someone else's plantation pick is removed. And I never play with both this and Hacienda. Also, see Beachfront.]
  • Small Warehouse
  • Guest House
  • Large Market
  • Office
  • Beachfront 6/3: You may take a Forest during Settler. You have a "wharf" with a capacity equal to the number of Forests that you own.
  • Factory
  • Large Business 8/3: Pay 1 less for any building. Earn 1 bonus VP if you ship anything during Captain (once per Captain, not once per shipment).
  • Large General Workhouse 8/3 (2 circles): Each occupied location on LGW produces any type of good when matched with an occupied plantation of that type.
  • Wharf
  • Cathedral 10/4: +1 VP/3 red building VPs.
  • Distillery 10/4: +2 VP/sugar plantation (max +8).
  • Fortress
  • Custom's House
  • City Hall
After I described the new Forest House and Beachfront, Rachel jumped for it, even forgoing the standard Settler/Quarry opening to take a Forest House. Unfortunately, taking too many Forests can also severely hinder your resource production, which is what it did for Rachel, especially since Settler was only taken six times during the game.

The game was very strange, all along. Nobody produced coffee. Nadine had a monopoly on Tobacco. I took Factory and Wildcat Strikers. After using WS to prevent anyone from shipping one round, in order to ensure that I had a good position for the boats, I almost ended up buying it again, which can't happen during a normal game of PR.

I produced and shipped a lot of barrels. Both Rachel and Nadine build Large Businesses. Nadine ended with more shipping VP's because of that and the occasional locked Tobacco boat, but I had two big buildings to her one, and one of mine was Custom's House with a +8 bonus.

All in all, in addition to synagogue, nice meals, pleasant guests, and pleasant company, a nice way to spend the weekend.


P.S. A nice article by Larry Levy on the strange phenomenon of how some people think that thinking during a game is cheating.

P.P.S. And here's a whole forum for board games on Yahoo Answers that looks like it needs some new blood.

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