And then there were eight

caverna
This week, Azriel, Eilat, Nechamiah, Peleg, Roslynn, Roy, and Sheer joined me for a bumper games session.

We split into two groups of four with Roy and Eilat introducing Roslynn and Azriel to Caverna. This is a serious, meaty game, with lots of things to do each turn, and all sorts of linked consequences. I have it, but have never played it, because you need the right people, the right time, and the right setting. Since I was introducing the others to a different game, I missed out on this, and spent some time looking over to Caverna trying to work out what was going on. (This is, of course, me building up one of several excuses from my crap performance in the games I was supposed to be playing.)

I might get a report from the players, but it was clear that Roy and Eilat did a masterful job of explaining the game, as the newcomers seemed engrossed. Further, Azriel proved beyond all shadow of a doubt that he has the killer touch, by producing a masterful performance and winning! Well done, Azriel. (I am so jealous…)

isleofskye

At the other end of the table, I introduced Nechamia, Peleg and Sheer to Isle of Skye. It was a first play for all of us.

This is a tile placement game, with an interesting buy mechanism. Each turn, each player draws three tiles to potentially add to his kingdom. The tiles, in the right combination, generate victory points in different categories. There are four  VP categories (drawn randomly from a selection of 16) which are available to everyone, and operate in different rounds. On top of that, some tiles have victory point generators for different categories. For example, you might get points for connected tiles, or sheep, or cattle, or whisky, and so on.

But, from the three tiles you draw, you must discard one. And you must put a price on the other two (this is done simultaneously by all the players). Then all tiles are revealed (with prices) and each player takes it in turn to buy one tile from any of the other players. So, at the end of the round you may have three tiles to add to your little empire, or two, or one, or none. Guess how often I had none?

In theory, if your tiles are bought you should be OK because you get the money. It may not be enough. I think there is a real skill to setting the price, and I did not master it.

We played twice and each time I beat everyone. To the lowest score that is… Sheer won both games. In the first, Nechamiah and Peleg gave him some serious competition, but in the second he blew us all away, threatening to lap me on the scoring board. Well done, Sheer.

It’s a fun game, and I would gladly play it again. However, I am not sure about the balance. Sheer deserved his win, but he did admit that certain things had gone his way.

splendor

Well, the trend continued, with Sheer also winning at Splendor, I did spot some good fortune. To do well in this game, you want to make economical purchases. If you have taken two turns to acquire five tokens, and use all five to get the card you want, that is economical. However, on several occasions I got to the same point but some other player bought the card I wanted before me. That left me with the wrong tokens. I know it happened to the others too, but Sheer magically seemed to avoid this. He quickly built up an engine to generate the tokens he needed, and ran out the winner far ahead of us. Interestingly, Eilat told me that one of her kids used a ‘buy the expensive cards only’ strategy, and that seemed to win always. So, Splendor may need a more critical look the next time we play it. I still like it.

A great night of gaming. Thanks to all who came and made it happen.