A Grand Start

Azriel, Laurie, Rosalynn, and Sheer joined me in our last session.

We started with El Grande, a classic area control game. Everyone had played it before, but wanted a rules refresher. Then, off we went.

In the very first round, Sheer took advantage of an excellent opportunity by grabbing the first place action, and scoring 20+ points. The rest of us struggled to get to close to double figures…

From then on, we were all playing catch up. Slowly, but surely, we did catch up. (Well, some of us…) It appeared that one of the side effects of Sheer getting such an early, obvious and large lead, was that the other players – not just me! – were happy to use every reasonable opportunity to do him damage and cut away at his score. Azriel and Laurie were doing OK, but seemed to miss out on decent scoring chances. There is an element of luck in the game, and here it did appear as if they suffered from a dose or two of bad luck. Meantime, Rosalynn and I were the closest contenders, and a right thrilling finish it was. With the last score of the last area in the last round, I found myself as the winner by a point or two from Rosalnn and Sheer. An epic struggle. Based on that, if I ever get the chance to grab a big early lead, I won’t!

We then moved on to R-Eco, a card management game that I either do brilliantly well in, or badly. That night it was my turn to do badly. Laurie wasn’t doing too badly, but Azreil, Rosalynn, and I were definitely struggling. It was no surprise that Sheer won. The rest of us were pretty close to one another in our low scores.

After the others had departed claiming a need to go to bed, Sheer and I played 7 Wonders: Duel. That streak of luck that can seemingly turn a game came my way, as I collected lots of resources and lots of victory points. I was crushing Sheer. Of course, the inevitable happened, and with about half a dozen more cards to go to the end of the game, Sheer picked up enough science cards to claim a scientific victory. I was robbed! Great play by Sheer.

Thanks to all who came for making another great night.

Back from the brink of defeat


With regulars Peleg and Sheer tied up in important Mossad business, it was left to Azriel and I to enjoy ourselves at this week’s game session.

Azriel chose Hero Realms to start, and we then played a couple of games using a variety of the expansion character packs. Unfortunately for Azriel, in each case I was able to thin my deck down to the better concentration of high power cards before him, and so won.

Next up we switched to 7 Wonders: Duel, one of my favorite two player games. I explained the rules to Azriel, and off we went.

The game is played in three rounds.

  • I murdered Azriel in the first round.
  • I absolutely killed him in the second.
  • And I smashed him for most of the third round.

Unfortunately for me, this game has a couple of instant victory conditions. One of these is a military victory. I had ignored the military cards, but foolishly left Azriel needing only one more military point to beat me. However, I could see the cards – we were down to the last three or four – and knew I could stop him from getting the last military card. But, silly billy me forgot the Wonder cards. Azriel had one Wonder that gave him the one military point he needed to give him the win. That will teach me. Well played, Azriel in coming back from the brink of defeat. I may have crushed you to pieces, but you truly won.

Another fun night. No wonder it takes me ages to get to sleep after the high of a games night.

Holiday gaming

Apart from solitaire wargaming, and another ASL lesson from Ran, I did manage some euro style gaming in the enforced break running from the wedding to the end of the chagim.

I introduced Steven Gladstone to Star Realms and 7 Wonders: Duel. I also introduced Susan to these same games, and we shared a couple of nights of pleasant boardgaming, and a few victories apiece over Sukkot.

A bit of a barren period for gaming that was, but all perfectly understandable in the circumstances.

Back to Skye


First, an apology. In the last session report (here) I forgot to mention that we played The Walking Dead Card Game, and Peleg was the winner. He is handy with zombies is Peleg! There are people who say the game is all luck, but not me. I say it is a game of great skill, with a mix of psychology as you try and work out what the other players are likely to do, mixed in with some card counting, and fine judgement. It’s a really simple, but engrossing game. In my opinion.

So, this week I was joined by Azriel, Joseph, Nechamiah, Peleg, Roslynn, and Sheer.

We started with old favorite 7 Wonders, with everyone playing it, some for the first time. This game has a completely different feel when it is a seven player encounter, from when it is four or five. I sort of worked out what was necessary to keep in contention, but Sheer, Roslynn, and Joseph were doing better than me. However, in what is becoming something of a habit, first time player Azriel was the winner. He managed this despite that close competition, and occasionally pretending he wasn’t doing well. He did brilliantly. Well done Azriel!

Then we split into a five player session of Isle of Skye, which Sheer ran very successfully. So successfully that he won! Well done Sheer. That game continued to be well received, and it may well get some more exposure.

At the same time, Peleg and I had a win apiece at 7 Wonders: Duel.

Finally, after Peleg retired early, the remaining six played The Walking Dead Card Game. You know, that highly skillful game.. Funnily enough, I won that…

Another good night. Thanks to my guests for making it such fun.

It’s all in the combination


To start this week’s session, I was joined by Sheer, and we played 7 Wonders: Duel.

Sheer is quick at assessing the value of card combinations, and he put that to good use in this game, by collecting science cards aplenty, and the resultant bonuses. His focus on that aspect forced me to look elsewhere, and I started off with a military strategy. That – eventually – started eating away his finances, and allowed me to get some decent victory point cards. I came close to knocking him out with a military victory, but he fought back, and the game went the whole way. I was pleased with my play, but (pleasantly) surprised by the win, as I was sure his bonuses would have been too much. Great fun. And each time we play this, I am more impressed by how well it works as a short, sharp, and challenging two player game.

Peleg then joined us, and we played Automobiles. Sheer again got a powerful combination together, and soon looked to be out of reach to me. (I had chosen the opposite of a powerful combination.) But Peleg, with a variation on Sheer’s theme, was keeping in touch, and so made it a bit of a competition. We played three laps, and I was consistently in last place and in danger of being lapped. Peleg  kept up the pressure, right up until the last turn or so, when Sheer pulled ahead to win the race.  Then, to our surprise, we found out that we had played some of the cards without taking the requisite wear. That would have changed things, though it is doubtful if it would have changed the result. It simply whetted our appetite to try this game again, because it is a good variation on the Dominion type game.

Speaking of which, we finished off with a regular Dominion game. Peleg and I went into an early lead, with lots of victory points, while Sheer concentrated on getting the right combination so as to maximize the efficiency of his desk, and throw all the Curse cards at us. It worked. Both Peleg and I were slowed down, and Sheer gradually caught up and exceeded our victory points. Damn!

Thanks to Peleg and Sheer for making the session so enjoyable.

Gaming catchup

Just a short post to record the last couple of (non wargame) game sessions. I have an ASL scenario to write up.

Peleg, Sheer and I managed to try out Ortus Regni for the first time. I’m not sure a three player encounter was the best introduction to the game, and for sure we only scratched the surface of the possibilities, but it was overall a positive experience. I want to try it out in an extensive two player session, to better get to grips with it.

We followed that up with San Juan. Sheer got off to a flying start, and neither Peleg nor I could catch up.

Also, Peleg and I got together for some 7 Wonders: Duel. It was Peleg’s first attempt, but he picked up the idea pretty quickly and his blue card victory point strategy just failed to get him the win. I continue to be impressed by how this game hits so many sweet spots: it is fast, nicely balances luck and skill, and has many routes to victory. One of my favorite two player games at the moment.

Wonder of the adventure and the duel


This week, Sheer, Susan, and I played Dominion: Adventures. This is a Dominion set from which we have only used a few of the available cards, so each experience is still new and fresh.

The mechanics include Duration cards whose effects last from turn to turn, and other cards whose effect triggers after you play it in an earlier turn, and call it in a subsequent turn. Some of the effects seem more interesting than useful, but that probably just means I have not spotted the right combination. And there are cards that seem too powerful. (That means I have not worked out how to combat them…)

We played one game with a recommended set featuring just the cards from Adventures, and although it was close, Sheer won. He followed that up with a win in a two player game against me, using the base set and Adventures.

Then he and I switched to 7 Wonders: Duel. Sheer won the first game with a military victory, using a clever maneuver with his Wonder that I completely overlooked. I got my revenge in the next game with a decent points win.

Four games in the night meant I was well satisfied. More please!


That duel was too short


Just recently, I introduced (ASL player) Ran to 7 Wonders: Duel. We used the recommended setup for a first game, and fairly rattled through it.

As expected, Ran picked up things quickly, and had a good grasp of the situation before too long. However, my better experience with the game and the combinations meant that I was able to just squeeze ahead of him in the Victory Points. It was close.

Afterwards, I asked if he enjoyed it; thankfully he did. However, he would have preferred it to be a longer game. That was interesting, as to me this game hits the sweet spot in terms of length. I feel it is just right for its mechanics. Also, there is some luck. So, if you are unlucky and lose, you have not invested hours and hours of your time. Of course, I realize this is all a matter of personal taste.   I do like to play a long game from time to time, but prefer a variety, instead of slogging away all the time at the more involved games.

A new wonder


Newly arrived, and out of the wrapper, is 7 Wonders: Duel. Designed by Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala, it takes the 7 Wonders theme to a two player level, using some clever mechanics to deliver an excellent and challenging game.

As in the original game, you have a city to build, aiming to get the most VPs from a variety of sources. The player with the most VPs at the end of the game wins. However, Duel introduces a sudden death victory condition: you can win by collecting six different science symbols, and you can win by accumulating a large enough military power. So, instantly, there are several winning strategies to follow.

Instead of cards being passed from player to player, here the 20 cards in each Age (there are three) are laid out in an overlapping grid. You can only take a card that is not overlapped, and as you take cards, you may uncover better cards for your opponent. Each Age has a different grid patter, with alternate rows face up and face down. This means you can do some planning – I want that card – but fate and your opponent may intervene.

As well as the cards, there are wonders to build, each of which gives a different set of bonuses. Also, collecting matching scientific symbols grants you a choice of the available advancement tokens, again with different bonuses.

The physical production standards are high, and the symbology is easy to follow. The rulebook looks worse than it is, but that’s because it carefully takes you through the game, and is very thorough. In other words, when you start to read it, and use it, things flow smoothly.

I was very impressed with the game, because it packs a lot into the box without being complex. The interactions, tactics, and playing techniques may take some time to master, but the game is quite accessible, especially if you have played the original 7 Wonders. It’s not quite a bridge game, being one to introduce first time non gamers, but it’s not that far away. And it plays quite quickly – easily under an hour, unless you or your opponent are struck with analysis paralysis.

In short, this is a pretty damn good two player game.