Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Raanana Session Report

Participants: Laurie, Daniel, Ellis, Jon, Rochelle

I arrived as Laurie set up a filler game Piece o Cake for Ellis, Laurie, and me to play. This was the first play for all of us. It's a simple food-themed game of set collection with a divide and offer mechanic. There are five piles of cards.

Cards are worth a small number of points if they are "consumed" as soon as they are acquired, or nothing if not consumed; if, however, you have the most in a set of unconsumed cards, you gain a larger number of points. For instance, a cherry pie slice may be worth 7 points for having the most unconsumed slices at the end of the game (it doesn't matter how many of them you have, so long as you have the most), or they may be worth 2 points each if you simply consumed them. Note that if you will acquire all the cherry pie slices during the game, your best move it to consume all but one of them: the 6 slices will then be worth 2 points each consumed, and the remaining slice will be worth 7 points as the majority holder of unconsumed slices.

On each turn, someone opens a stack of 11 cards and arranges them into a circle without changing their order. The player then divides the cards into groups by the number of players; the division must not rearrange any of the arcs, but the division does not have to have an equal number of cards in each circle. Players then, in turn, select a group and consumes or not each of the cards in the group. Repeat for 5 turns. Score.

On turn three I had essentially reduced the game to its math, including how many points I was wasting trying to maintain majorities and how many slices were left in the deck so as to determine whether I really needed to keep one more slice unconsumed. Even with tracking, the game still holds interest, since you don't know the order in which the cards will turn up or how the other players will divide them. Ellis consumed nearly all of his slices. I squeaked out a win by 1 point over Laurie.

I then taught Rochelle, Ellis, Laurie, and Daniel how to play Amun Re. Of course, I changed the theme of stage four, and also changed the power card that lets you correct the offering value. In the latter case, I let players decide to use these cards after seeing the results of the offering and also to act in collusion. Even with these boosts, the cards were used only once to boost the offering from level 3 to 4.

I won the money war in the first half, and I was tied for the lead in points. I messed up round four by not buying the best province, ceding it to Daniel instead. I spent a lot of money to build my pyramids in the second half. On the last round, I wasn't able to complete four complete pyramid sets by a few gold. In fact, completing the sets lost me so much gold that I received no bonus points for money at the end. Meanwhile, Ellis solidified his points in the second half. On the last round, his bribe bonus was two power cards, both of which gave him extra money from the harvest, which was enough to bump his money holdings to first place. He was five points behind me in scoring, and then he took his six point bonus for money and ended the game one point ahead of me.

Daniel ended one point ahead of Laurie, about 8 points behind Ellis and me. Rochelle brought up the rear. The game took just shy of three hours to teach and play.

P.S. The JSGC had a game day on Hanukkah.  Games played: Highland Clans, El Grande, Egizia, Princes of Florence, Louis XIV, Year of the Dragon.
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