Friday, September 04, 2009

Gaming at Gilad's: Cloud 9, Diamant, and Factory Fun

I actually made it to Gilad's game night in Modiin, which I usually don't do because a) it's half an hour away from me, b) I play already on Wed nights, and c) he starts at 9:00 pm. I happened to be at work today, and so was passing by anyway, and Rachel isn't around so I could arrive home late.

Gilad hosts game nights once a month. The group is primarily Hebrew speakers, but most spoke English around me, which was nice.

Participants: Jon, Gilad, Tali, Tal, Ronit, Koby, Oren, Oshrat, Adi, Odded, Amir

Gilad and his wife Tali are hosts. Tal (Darom), Koby, and Oren have all made it to my house on occasion. Ronit is Tal's Koby's wife. The others are all nice people who don't make it out to Jerusalem.

Games I didn't play

Race for the Galaxy: Koby 26, Tal 28 (1st game), Oren 24, Ronit 36

First play for Tal, I don't know about the others.

Puerto Rico: Koby, Ronit, Odded, Oren

They were still going with this when I left.

Thurn and Taxis: Adi, Oshrat, Tali, Amir 22+

First play for at least some of them. The other three players all had scores in the single digits.

Cloud 9

Jon 26, Gilad 54, Tali 42, Oshrat 61, Adi 44

Cloud 9 is a light push your luck game with a number of twists. It comes with a deck of cards - each card is simply one of four colors. And four dice - four of the faces with one of those colors, and two blank faces. And a board, pieces, and scoring markers.

Each player gets a few cards to start with. Each player is "in the balloon" at the start of a round. One player starts the round by rolling two dice. Each player, other than the active player, then guesses whether or not the active player has cards in his or her hand to match the dice rolled. A blank die doesn't count as a card, so the person may only have to match one or no cards.

If a player thinks there is a match, he "stays in the balloon". Otherwise, he or she abandons ship and takes points. After all players, other than the active player, have stayed or abandoned the balloon, the active player then reveals the cards from his or her hand if he has them.

If he or she does, the balloon sails up the ladder, and the next player still in the balloon becomes the active player. Eventually the number of dice that must be rolled grows to three, then four, and at each step, the points for abandoning ship become higher, to a maximum of 25 for a completed trip.

However, if the active player cannot match the die roll, all players still on the balloon get nothing. The balloon returns to the starting position and all players return to the balloon.

After each round, each player gains an additional card. There are some additional rules for when you are alone in the balloon, and some wild cards, but that's the gist. Player with the most points at the end of a round after one player goes over 50 wins.

It's quite cute for a light push-your-luck game. While cute, the "balloon" was annoying, since you had to take at least a certain amount of care when putting the people into the balloon or they would just fall out.

In our game, I had the bad luck of abandoning the balloon early while everyone else stayed on, and they all got 20 more points than I did. In that situation, there is no way to catch up, no matter how cleverly I played. Luckily the game ended two or three rounds later.

I liked it enough to play again, however. I wouldn't buy it.


Oshrat 25, Jon 22, Tali 21, Gilad, Adi, Amir

Another light and quick push your luck game, this one is also called Incan Gold from a different publisher.

In this game, the object is to have the most points at the end of the game. There are five rounds.

The game comes with 15 disaster cards in five types (three of each type), and 15 gem cards with values ranging from 3 to 17 (or so).

In each round, a card is flipped up. If it is a gem card, the number of gems is evenly distributed to each player who puts them in front of (not in) his or her cart. Remainder gems are placed on the card. If it is a disaster card, no gens are distributed.

Players than simultaneously reveal if they are staying in or abandoning ship. If all players stay in, continue. If one abandons ship, he takes all the gems in front of his cart and puts it into his cart, as well as all undistributed remainder gems that were left on all cards. That can be a decent take. If two or more abandon ship, they split the remainder gems, again leaving any further remainders on the cards.

The round is over immediately after the second disaster of a certain type is revealed. At that point, any gems in front of players who didn't yet abandon ship get returned to the supply, as well as all remaindered gems on cards. All cards are returned to the deck for the next round, except the last played disaster card.

Again, another light push-your-luck game with simultaneous decision making. I liked this one slightly better than Cloud 9, but man, is it overproduced. I expect that the game would play just as well with pennies and dice.

The blind bidding is random (excuse me: "bluffing"), and it wouldn't go over well with my group. I would play again, however. it's a quick filler for at least three people.

Factory Fun

Factory Fun: Gilad+, Jon (eliminated), Tal-

This looked like a really cool game and it got great reviews on BGG. The components looked like leftovers from Robo Rally. And it has a lot of spacial features and puzzle aspects, which I love.

Each player has an empty board, four "sources" of energy - one each in four different colors, three temporary energy caps, and an unlimited supply of connector pipes and permanent energy caps.

The major component is the machines. Each machine is a 1 x 2 square with some number of inputs, in different colors, positions, and strengths, and one output.

There are ten rounds. On each round, a machine is flipped up and players grab - in no particular order and as fast as they want to - one machine to place on their board. After grabbing a machine, you MUST place it on your board or lose 5 points. The last player to grab a machine ends up with whatever is left, but doesn't have to grab any machine, and so doesn't risk losing any points.

Placing the machine onto your board is free, as is placing one of your energy sources or removing a pipe or source from your board. However, placing a pipe or energy cap costs 1 and moving a machine costs 2. You can only move a maximum of two machines each round.

All of the inputs have to match outputs, with sufficient strength. Sources are infinite strength, but cascading machines gives you many more points, and you only have one source of each color, although some machines allow you to take a bonus source in a specific color.

The game played placidly enough until around round 7. At that point, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, my machine was illegal in about three or four ways, and I quit the game to take a half an hour to completely rearrange my board just to see if or how I could fit my components onto it. There is no time limit for arranging the pieces on the board, so there is no way in hell my game group will be allowed near this game.

It was a lot of fun trying to figure out how to fit everything back onto the board, which I eventually did. But that's no way to play a game. I have no idea how many pipes I rearranged or machines I had moved. It was just incredible chaos.

I'm sure people much smarter than me will find this to be a fantastic game. I just liked playing with the pieces.


Gilad 56 (8 gardens), Jon 43 (9 duchys), Tal 52

We wrapped up with a game of Dominion, which I also handily lost. I opted not to concentrate on Gardens, which was my downfall. Gilad took two and a few coppers whenever he had 8, while I bought a Province, and when I couldn't get a Province, I bought a Duchy. Didn't work, as you can see.

The game ended with Markets, Gardens, and Duchys.
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