Thursday, August 24, 2006

Board Game Day, Givatayim

Cosmic Encounter

I took a half a day's vacation in order to attend Silver Stars' Board Game day in Tel Aviv. Silver Stars is the only company bringing Euro games into Israel. That's because a) they are the only ones who recognize Euro Games' value, and b) they received exclusive licenses from the publishers to do so.

The latter is not unexpected, since the potential market in Israel is so small. Still, one never knows if this hinders or helps the market for Euro games in Israel. I would love to see general toy stores free to import and carry these games, as they do games by Winning Moves and Foxmind, but if Silver Stars didn't exist, it doesn't mean that the general toy stores would be fighting to carry them. They're not fighting to stock the games that Silver Stars imports.

Anyhoo, I met Johnathan a few weeks ago, and I promised to try to come to the games day in order to help out by teaching some games. If he ended up with a lot of attendees, he wouldn't be able to organize them all.

Even though I was essentially volunteering to help a business, I was happy to do it because the more games grow in Israel, the happier I will be. The general public still doesn't know about them.

Before leaving Jerusalem, I stopped off and picked up the Cosmic, More Cosmic, and four other games that I mentioned in my previous post. The flares were still in shrinkwrap.

Apparently, these games were owned by the now deceased husband, who used to play them 11 years ago. The widow waited until her kids were grown up more to see if they wanted to play them, but they are more interested in computer games. So it came time to get rid of them.


The games day was scheduled from about 10 am until 8 pm. I arrived at around 1:30 pm. It was then that I discovered that Johnathan hadn't done a very good job at advertising the event. He had posted on the board game forums, and he had advertised in one family magazine.

He had paid a medium amount for a very nice and very large space: several rooms, more than enough to hold hundreds of people. Unfortunately, when I arrived, there were only about twelve people there. Some others came in, and some others left, but there were no more than three games going at any one time.

He had out a large table of board games that he imports and/or translates. The table was staffed by his wife and at one point by an employee of his. But they were rather lonely. He sold a few items, actually. Binyamin from my game group arrived and bought four items. And I bought a copy of Quo Vadis. And a few other games were sold, too. Also, he collected some money from some of the players for playing longer games (I'm still not sure exactly how that was supposed to work). In any case, he surely didn't make enough to cover the expenditure.

There was a group playing World of Warcraft the boardgame. Several times people played either Munchkin or a variant, or Citadels. Both of these are available in Hebrew. I also saw a game of Settlers of Catan.

I sat with John and we discussed things. I will try to send him various articles about hosting a games day and ways to get the word out and ensure that it works. He would like to see members of the Jerusalem game group make more of their presence known, both on the Hebrew game forums and to Jerusalem at large, so that more people know about us. He asked if he could translate some of the articles on this blog into Hebrew, because there are no Hebrew equivalents in print right now, and I agreed enthusiastically.

Johnathan decided to pack it up by 7:00 pm. He is still interested in trying another one. He is also scheduled to meet Helena of the EGCI sometime next month. I think, at the very least, the next games day can be scheduled at the ECGI. That would eliminate the cost of the location.

Games Played

Aside from Binyamin, I ran into Tal. I first met Tal at Gilad's house for games, and then he came to Jerusalem once (and ended up buying my game).

I opened up by teaching him, and a guy named Shlomi, how to play Power Grid. We played on the U.S. map in the two central regions and northern Pacific. My experience carried the day; although the game mechanics kept me in check some of the time. By the game end, coal was completely run out, and all of us decided to switch to plants that generated other fuel. Tal and I both had 17 capacity plants and fuel, but I had 17 cities, while he had only 15. Shlomi had 13.

After that, Binyamin and I decided to get Quo Vadis, because it wasn't too expensive, and I recalled some good words about the game. The name of Knizia on the box doesn't tell me that it's a good game, but it does tell me that the game at least will be clean and elegant.

It turned out to be a fairly straightforward negotiation game with a bit of an area-control mechanic. When you don't have the area control, you need to negotiate. You gain points moving from place to place, which you can only do if you have control of your current location, or you negotiate the control.

It's quite clean and elegant, as I expected. With three players, there wasn't much in the way of tension, even though it was still nice. I walked away with the game without any difficulty, 27 to 15 to 13. We added another player for the second game, and it became much better. Four players is definitely better than three. I still managed a win, but it was closer.

The nice part is that the negotiation element is central, but it is still rather limited. It doesn't drag out, or at least it didn't with the group that I played with. I am looking forward to trying it with five players. It might be overkill, or it might be even better. It's hard to tell.

Aside from walking around and checking out the other games and players (about a third of them were female, most were kids up to age eighteen or so), that was the day.

Now I am going to go through the Cosmic games and see if all the pieces are there (I only checked the tokens before I took the game).

Update: The boxes have some scuff marks, but the games are complete and essentially near mint.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was nice meeting you again. After our game Power Grid is going to be my next buy.

What's up with your game anyway?