Voyage of discovery

"There will be trouble ahead..."

“There will be trouble ahead…”

This week’s session was devoted to the single meaty monster of a game that is Amerigo.  It’s a discovery themed game, with a neat action mechanism involving wooden cubes and a cardboard tower, and an action wheel. Players compete to best settle the new land and exploit its resources.

This is serious, hardcore gaming, not for the fainthearted, and not for those lacking in stamina, grit, or fortitude. Despite that (Ha!) Azriel, Peleg, and Sheer joined me, and took part in a memorable gaming experience.

First, Azriel is a gaming great who misleads his opponents by asking questions about stuff that has already been explained. And while his competitors are subconsciously ignoring him as a threat, he is consciously building a winning combination, and a chunk of victory points. His play was stupendous – in the amazingly good sense – and he took the other three of us to the cleaners. He raced ahead, lapped us all on the scoring board, and smiled sweetly throughout.

What was particularly stunning about this was that this was Azriel’s first ever play of the game. In something of this complexity, most people take at least a few game turns, if not a complete game, to understand what is going on. I did try and help Azriel with some of his early decisions, but would probably have been better giving myself some decent advice. Anyway, for a first time play, Azriel was making a mockery of the game’s tough reputation.

At this point, Peleg and I were reduced to spectators. But Sheer, who should never be discounted, refused to give up. And his pondering, slow decision making resulted in an astounding collection of victory points that brought him right up to the same as Azriel’s momentous score. According to the game rules, Sheer was the winner. According to the players, Azriel was the winner. Both played well, and despite the late hour, the fatigue, the dehydration, and the hunger – I mean, they ate almost none of the biscuits! – everybody had a good time.

If you are a serious gamer, and want a top end challenge, I thoroughly recommend Amerigo. All I can say, is thank Heaven we don’t do that every week.

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Shabbat Gaming

Last Shabbat, down south with the Berkeleys in Metar, we squeezed in time for one game among the eating, chatting, and sleeping. Anne, Gillian, Peter, Yoel, Susan and I played one game of Viva Il Re! (in English it is marketed as King Me), a light hearted game of bluff and counter bluff. It’s about getting your candidate to be king, and killing off the competing candidates. It’s easy to explain, quick to pick up and play, and doesn’t ruin relationships when you stab people in the back.

After two rounds of rapid play, Peter was the winner. Gillian, I think, came second. She killed the most candidates I think, but the strategy did not quite pay off. Anne and Susan were straight up in going to promote their own candidates, and could not escape the killing machines out there. Good fun.

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We don’t need another hero

takenoko

This week, Azriel, Peleg, and Sheer joined me, as we welcomed Hero Realms to the group, and had another bash at Takenoko.

First off, the latest addition my collection: Hero Realms. It’s a development of Space Realms, and is a kind of supercharged Dominion – a deck building game – where you get to slash, kill, destroy attack your opponents while trying to fend off their assaults. In the standard game, each player starts off with 50 Life. Once you are down to 0, you are dead.

We played two multiplayer versions where the first dead player (so to speak) ended the game, and the player inflicting the fatal wound gets to claim the win. Sheer won two of these, knocking out (I think) me in one game, and Azriel in another.

Then we played a team version with Sheer and Peleg beating Azriel and me. That one dragged a bit, possibly because the suggested format gives each team 75 Life instead of 50. Just when I thought we were mired in a slow, slow draw, Sheer and Peleg broke the deadlock. As it happened, Azriel had built up a decent deck, and if we had lasted just one more turn, we would have won. So many near things…

In between we had played Takenoko, with Azriel wiping the floor with us. He seemed to be getting victory points every turn, no matter what he did. Quite an achievement.

Thanks to all who came. It was fun.

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The Panda, the Jewel, the Potion, and the Artist

takenoko-splendor

So who can guess what games we played this week?

At one end of the table, I explained Takenoko to Azriel, Gillian, and Yoel. Azriel and Gillian picked it up, but poor Yoel was struggling a bit. I tried to help him out, but it was too little, too late, and he still finished last. Gillian won, and at least I have the excuse that my score would have been more of a challenge if I hadn’t done the decent thing by supporting Yoel. But that would be unfair, as Gillian truly trounced us all, so she deserves full credit for the win.

Then I explained Splendor to Azriel, Gillian, and Yoel. This was a perfect example of how some people ‘get’ a particular game, but just cannot ‘get’ another. From struggling in last place, Yoel quickly got into his stride here, and finished first equal with me. It was very tight – a sign of a good game, played well -and Gillian and Azriel were only one or two points behind.

At the other end of the table, Peleg, Rosalynn, Sheer, and Susan played a nice combination of games too. First up was one of my favorites, Dominion: Alchemy. They rattled off three games of that with wins for Susan, Peleg, and Sheer. Susan’s win was notable because they found out afterwards that Sheer had been misinterpreting one or two of the action cards in his favor, but still hadn’t been able to defeat Susan in that round. Well done Susan!

Then, they moved on to a little cracker in the name of Modern Art: The Card Game. Once more they got through three games, with wins for Rosalynn, Peleg, then (in a two player Sheer v Peleg confrontation) Sheer.

We then had a short debate about who would drive Azriel home. I forget who lost and who won, but Azriel did get home safely…

Thanks to all who came for making it a good night of gaming.

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It’s all alchemy

alchemy-sanjuan-splendor

This week’s session saw us run through three different games in the one night.

First up, Azriel, Roslynn, and Sheer came long for a couple of games of Dominion: Alchemy.  Roslynn won the first, and I think I won the second. I think, but am not sure. Why am I not sure? Because it’s so unusual for me to win a game of Dominion. But I either won it, or dreamed I won it, or have some kind of false memory syndrome. Anyway, two games of Alchemy, and that was that for Azriel and Roslynn who called it a night then.

By that time, Peleg had eventually finished work and joined us. The three of us played one game of San Juan and one game of Splendor.

San Juan was more of a challenge, with Sheer winning (47 points), Peleg second (38 points) and me well back in third (31 points).

Spelndor, however, was a complete blowout. Peleg and I might as well not have been there. Sheer got to the finishing line with 18 or 19 points, and Peleg and I had only 2 or 3 points apiece. A Sheer masterclass. I am still not sure how he did it, but he definitely did it. Well done Sheer.

Thanks to all who came.

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Games are good for you!

Especially as you get older. From Purple Pawn:

“According to a study by researchers with the Mayo Clinic, seniors who play games are less likely to experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an intermediate stage of dementia. Nearly 2,000 subjects, 70 years or older were followed for 4 years, interviewed about mentally stimulating activities, and evaluated for cognitive function. Those who played games at least once-a-week were 22 percent less likely to suffer from MCI.”

The moral of the story? Play a game this week!

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The Power and the Adventure

dominionadventuresandpowergridcardgame

To start with, Azriel and Sheer came along and we played a three handed game of Power Grid: The Card Game. As with the previous outing for this new purchase, the scores were tight. Sheer and I finished with the same score, just ahead of Azriel. Sheer won on the tiebreaker. Continue reading

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Power to the gamers

trio-sub-dom-pg

This week, Susan and I hosted Azriel, David, Gillian, Roslynn, and Sheer.

Azriel, Sheer, and Susan started by playing Suburbia. Sheer knows this game very well – another where knowledge of the pieces and their interactions is a big help – but he was kind enough to offer Susan some meaningful help and assistance. So much so that Susan won! Azriel did OK so far as I could see, but had lost ground in the closing stages.

However, poor Azriel had his revenge in the next game they played: Dominion: Intrigue. I do not know what the make up of the Action Cards was, but I do know that Azriel won. That was a shock since, with all due respect to Azriel, Susan and Sheer are excellent Dominion players. So Azriel’s play must have been fantastic.

Meantime, we (David, Gillian, Roslynn and I) tried out Power Grid: The Card Game for the first time. This is a cut down version of the bigger game, where the action focuses on the acquisition of power plants and resources. You do not have to deal with placing your pieces on a board. The first time I was the winner, but it was oh so close with everyone else a mere one point behind me. We played it again, and this time Gillian won. The second game was even closer, as Gillian needed the tie break for the victory, though given her good play it was a well deserved triumph. I quite liked it, because it’s a perfect one hour game, with enough decision making to be more than a light filler. Roslynn wasn’t that keen on it, but the others seemed to enjoy it.

Thanks to all who came along.

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Among the Dead

Close combat in the bitter fighting at Galatas

Close combat in the bitter fighting at Galatas

My last ASL game of 2016 was scenario J165, Among the Dead, played against Ran. It’s about an action in the May 1941 invasion of Crete, with a force of elite German infantry trying to take a position defended by a mix of New Zealand and Greek troops. I took the Germans, and Ran took the Allies.

Ran’s setup was mainly to the west, with less of a presence on the east. I looked at the terrain on the east and thought it would be too difficult to make speedy progress. So, I brought all my soldiers in on the west. That was probably the right decision, but I was too hesitant in the opening couple of turns – I should have been bolder – and was running well behind schedule.

On the third game turn, the Allies received some infantry and tank reinforcements. I had, on call, two Stukas available as air support. But I had to specify in advance when they would arrive. I chose to wait till later turns, and Ran saw that as a mistake as the tanks are at their most vulnerable when moving on to the board. My aircraft duly arrived, and with Ran having hidden his tanks in cover, the Stukas bombed the hell out of some infantry. That went quite well.

In addition, my sole anti-tank rifle performed heroically, and knocked out both Allied tanks, brewing them up and starting a late flurry of burning terrain. Suddenly, things were not looking so bad, and there was even the prospect of victory.

However, I had badly handled my other support weapons – a couple of mortars and a medium machine gun – and that meant I had not exerted enough pressure on the defenders. They were able to pull together enough of a defensive line to deny me the chance of victory.

I was pleased that I had taken things to the last turn of the game, and – of course – could once again console myself with having learned some more lessons about how to play this amazing game.

 

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