Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend Gamings

Last week, my mom came for her second visit to my apt in Raanana. While it rained, we played 500 Rummy, which she won handily, and Scrabble, which I won handily (she was leading for the first third or so). She was surprised that I didn't know the word ROE.

This weekend I joined a great many of my family for a bar mitzvah in Jerusalem. We played Bridge a number of times, which is no more than expected. I taught some of them how to play Nefarious. Just like the last Raanana game night, they wanted to play a second time after having gotten comfortable on the first playing. The same guy won both games. In the first game he had 4 minions on Invent; in the second game he had 3 on it. I'm not sure if concentrating your minions on Invent is the smart move, but it's hard to argue with success.

I then taught some of them how to play Tichu, and we played a few rounds; not enough to really grasp the strategies. One of the players was one of my brother's sons, and he didn't care for the game after two rounds and quit. He is a Bridge fan, and didn't seem to have any patience to learn another 4 player card game. One of the other players was one of his friends, who seemed to like it. He DOESN'T like Bridge, so he was happy to have another card game to play instead (he's also the guy who won both games of Nefarious). The last was my older brother, and after the few rounds of play he seemed somewhat intrigued. I think he will be willing to play again.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yom Hazikaron in Raanana

The Raanana municipality ran a beautiful ceremony for Yom Hazikaron - Remembrance Day.

The event was held (as it is every year) in front of the Yad L'Banim [1] building, whose courtyard also functions as the city square. The square was also used for Holocaust Memorial Day and is used for other events like concerts and the annual sukkot market.

There were few people there when I showed up at 7:00. By 8:00, I estimated the crowd to be over 6,000 people. It eventually swelled to around 8,000 or so. The people spilled over into and across the streets beside the square. Police kept the streets closed down for the ceremony, which included Ahuza street, Raanana's main artery.

There was complete unity of religious and secular, old and young, left and right, native and immigrant. Everyone stood for the siren at 8:00. The speeches and sad, poignant songs had biblical or ritual references. Everyone, secular or religious, stood up as the haredi chief Rabbi of Raanana walked up to the podium; he spoke about connection of between today's soldiers and the armies who fought the Pelishtim during the time of King Saul.

The ceremony included recitations of the names of all soldiers and terror victims from Raanana, from the early 1920s until just last year. Along with the names were pictures and personal details. Some of the relatives, together with young soldiers, laid wreaths. The square was draped with projections of faces and/or rolling clouds or fire at different times, and there was live music, a singer, a clarinetist, and a hazan to read El Malei Rachamim.

I felt that this, or something like it, must be happening in each town around Israel: whole populations stopped to pay tribute to their fallen soldiers, every name read out and remembered, year after year. I never went to a ceremony like this in Jerusalem (usually I went to something small in the local synagogue), but it felt right to go to this one. Maybe it's Raanana, which seems to have a kind of unity that I hadn't noticed and I haven't seen elsewhere. Or maybe it's because my own son is now in the army.

[1] Yad L'Banim is an organization dedicated to fallen Israeli soldiers.

Catching Up On Games Played

Last day of Pesach

At a friend's house, their daughter is particularly into Dominion. She has the base game, Seaside, and Cornucopia. I'd never played the latter, so she, I, and Nadine played a game with all Cornucopia cards: Fairgrounds, Farming Village, Fortune Teller, Hamlet, Horn of Plenty, Hunting Party, Jester, Menagerie, Remake, and Tournament.

When all the cards come from this expansion, you really have no choice but to play the "correct" strategy, which is to gain one of as many types of cards as possible. Maybe if you only add one or two cards from this set this won't be the case; then again, maybe these cards won't then be very desirable.

In the afternoon I taught Nadine how to play Magic. Actually, she had half learned how to play a previous time, but she hadn't played. She was surprised at the depth of the game, although not entirely since she knew how much David and I liked the game. She intends to borrow some cards and start playing with Gili.

Shabbat in Jerusalem

I brought a new  player (Marne) over to play at Nadine's house in the afternoon. She was highly nervous, having not played any modern games and afraid that they would be too much for her. When I saw the game that Nadine had picked out (Walnut Grove) for her first game, I was also nervous. Thankfully she had a great time; I don't know if she had a "join the weekly game group 'good time'" but still.

This was my first play of Walnut Grove since BGG.con over a year ago, and the first play for both Mace and Marne. Nadine has played a few times, but some of those times were with the wrong rules. This is not entirely her fault, since several of the rules are written vaguely, and there is no way to know what the author means. I will have to look on BGG for clarifications, if I can find any.

As I said, it went well. Actually, I fared a little better than I did the last time I played, though I still came in last place (Mace won). I was calculating before the game started as to how to turn cubes into more cubes and how many cubes to each victory point. It didn't help me win, but I felt like I had more control over what was happening. I played a starvation strategy, collecting people and improvement tiles together with 6 begging tiles. Not counting the begging cards, I had the highest score, but I dropped to just behind third place after these were counted. I will have to try something new next time.

When I suggested Tichu for the next game, it was Nadine's turn to be nervous, but Marne picked up the rules by the end of the first hand. She appears to be a natural gamer. With just a little strategy suggestion here and there, she knew how to play and why most of the time. This was Mace's second time playing. Nadine called and (barely) made the only Tichu. We all had a great time.