Different language

7wonders

Gamers talk a different language from non-gamers. That was front and center stage this week, as I ran a games and lunch session for colleagues at work. All non gamers, the situation slowly sank into my consciousness as I made my way through the 7 Wonders rules explanation. The reaction to the rules, the questions being asked, and the areas of contention were all different from those occasions that I have run through the rules with gamers – even casual gamers. It was fascinating.

It’s not that the questions were daft or misplaced, simply that they were unusual and approaching the challenge of playing a game from a completely different perspective to the one I am more used to. And to avoid using too much of the language of the gamer meant that I had to be much more careful in the explanation.

The good news is that, after a slow start, we did get up and running and playing, and people seemed to have a good time. So much so, that I have been asked to repeat the exercise, but with the same game. Everyone recognizes how much better they understand the game and the concepts after playing it. (Funny, that!)

Board adventures

Eilat, Laurie, Roy, and Yehuda joined Susan and me for this week’s regular gaming session during which we managed  to complete games of 7 Wonders and Puerto Rico.

First up: 7 Wonders. Everyone had played this before, though it had been a while for Eilat and Roy. It was quite a tight game, primarily because Laurie sacrificed her own position when she saw Yehuda threatening to stream ahead. That allowed me to match Yehuda’s score for a rare – in this game – tie. The rest were just a little bit behind.

Susan dropped out to catch up on some essential TV viewing, leaving five of us to tackle Yehuda’s favorite game: Peurto Rico. Again, everyone was familiar with the game, so we had no excuses for losing. Yehuda proceeded to pound us into the ground with a masterly display of skill at the game. He finished so far ahead, it would have taken two of us to add our scores together to match his. What’s heartening to me is that this is a game that I have had little or no success playing, but still enjoy. It’s just got something that makes it a pleasure. Even when being slaughtered.

A good night. Thanks to everyone who came along.

Lost and found

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This week’s regular session had a warm up game: find the venue, played by newcomers Katie and Mimi. They finally cracked it, and were welcomed by Susan and Yehuda who introduced them to the joys of Dominion.

Katie and Mimi, bolstered by Yehuda’s usual and thorough explanation, soon got into the swing of things. And even if they were not in contention, they seemed to have picked up what the game was all about. And they were having fun. An important factor, for sure.

Susan has been on a hot streak with the game, but that came to an end with Yehuda’s win. However, it was a very close thing, and certainly doesn’t look like Susan has
lost her knack. The next meetup should be interesting.

Elsewhere, Amir, Laurie, Rochelle, and I played Hansa Teutonica. This was a first time out for Amir and, amazingly, he did what he has done with other first time games, and won. That is quite an achievement. (Maybe I can claim part of the credit because I did the rules explanation for him?) Laurie was his serious challenger, but she just couldn’t generate enough points in the closing rounds. Rochelle and I were enjoying ourselves, but not in contention. However, Rochelle beat me by enough that I could claim the wooden spoon.

We finished with Amir, Susan, Laurie, and I playing 7 Wonders. It’s a different game with only four players: faster, and with a chance to see some cards again that you previously passed on.

Amir went for a military strategy, but did not have enough other points to put him in contention. Susan had a range of victory point sources, but nothing exceptional – unfortunately for her. Laurie went for the green cards and money, delivering a neat combination that almost got her the win. However, as Laurie commented, she had been passing me good (blue and purple) cards all night, and I was able to use them properly and grab the win. Just.

Great night.

Bang, bang, bang for Ben

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After an illness induced absence, it was great to get back to a game session with some of the usual crowd. Before the latecomers staggered in, Amir, Susan, Yehuda and I played a very light, filler game – Formula Motor Racing – which Yehuda doubled on by both hating it and winning it…

With the crew finally assembled, watered, and fed, we split into a threesome (Amir, Ben and Yehuda) playing Puerto Rico and a foursome (David, Laurie, Susan and me) playing Ticket to Ride – Marklin Edition.

All I can tell you about the Puerto Rico game is that Ben – despite totally misunderstanding one of the rules – won. Bang!

That trio moved on to Dominion. Again, being at the far end of the table, my knowledge is limited to that of Ben’s second win. Bang!

The Marklin version of Ticket to Ride has passengers, an extra scoring mechanism. We all developed our own potential scoring routes.

My mistake was going for too many small builds, and allowing Susan to cut me off from Austria. David couldn’t make his mind up about whether to compete with Laurie for the big points available in Berlin. Oh, and he misread one of his tickets. He will really want a second chance to play this. Laurie was doing well, and out in front. She got most of what was on offer in Berlin, and built nice long routes. Laurie was in the lead, and looked good. Susan was her closest competitor.

However, when it came to the final scoring, Susan produced an incredible seven completed tickets for well over a hundred extra points to add to her already hundred plus score. She won by such a huge margin that “won” doesn’t do it justice. She crushed us!

Susan and Yehuda dropped out, leaving Amir, Ben, David, Laurie, and me to finish the night with a game of 7 Wonders.

I started with lots of blue victory points and they kept coming. Amir and David had a good mix, but were both missing a decent Guild card to boost their scores. Laurie, in the last round or two, pulled out a great green and purple combination that served her very well. However, Ben, using his special power to pick one card from the discards, chose one that gave him the win by four. When I reviewed the scores, it was noticeable how close they were. By my reckoning, each of the other players was only one card away from a winning score, so it was a tight, tight, competition. But still, it was also another win for Ben. Bang!

So three wins on the night for Ben, and another for Susan. I am seeking employment as a spectator…

Good stuff, though. I cannot wait for next week.

More wonders!

Also just arrived, a couple of expansions for the popular 7 Wonders game.

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The Leaders expansion adds cards of that type, to expand the player choices and challenge of winning the game.

The Cities expansion adds cards of that type. As well as the consequential increase in player options, it includes a team version of the game for up to 8 players.

I expect to be under pressure to familiarize myself with these quickly, and get them ready for playing.

Long route home

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This week’s session started with Amir, Susan and I playing Dominion, while Ben and David warmed up with Battle Line.

Susan has been unbeatable at Dominion, and her winning streak continued in this game. All Amir and I could do was watch… Meantime, David won at Battle Line.

Laurie joined us, Susan dropped out, and we turned to 7 Wonders. Last time out, newcomer Amir won a novice victory. This time, unfortunately, it was not to be.  Ben, David and I were outclassed by Laurie who won by a big margin with a blue (victory card) strategy, backed up by a couple of great Guild cards.

Amir left us to get ready for his early start, leaving Ben, David, Laurie and myself to enjoy a cracking game of Ticket to Ride: Europe.

David insisted on drawing cards blind. He kept picking up locomotives (wild cards). He was so successful at doing this, at one point he held a near monopoly and severely curtailed the other players’ building efforts.

David also said he was doing this to mimic my strategy, as seen in previous games. Well, I can only say that my strategy did not include picking up so many flipping locomotives. At least, I was never that successful!

Ben was quietly sticking to the task at hand. He didn’t know it, but some of his route building made things trickier for me in the bid to build the routes I wanted.

Twice in succession – for the 8 and 6 train routes – I decided not to build routes, but get some spare cards in case the tunnel draw went against me. And on each occasion, Laurie seized the day and grabbed the damn thing ahead of me.

So, Laurie was doing well, and I was falling behind. However, when the end of the game arrived and we totted up everything, Ben had won a fine victory. It was a very tight game. Ben won the longest route bonus by only a whisker. If anyone else had claimed that bonus, they would have won instead of Ben. David’s decision to take an extra ticket almost gave him the win. Again, he just missed out on the longest train bonus. Laurie had been stymied by a shortage of locomotives (ahem) and yellow cards.

It was a good win, and a great contest. Well done Ben!

Thanks to everyone for coming. As usual, I was buzzing at the end and struggled to get to sleep. If only I had played…

To your stations

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This week’s gaming session started with Dominion (Amir, David, Susan and I) and Battle Line (Laurie & Rochelle). I don’t know who won the Battle Line, but Susan – again – reigned supreme in Dominion.

Then all six of us played 7 Wonders. Amir was the only one who had not played it before. Did he pick it up quickly? Well, in a sort of tradition, he became another first time player that won. Impressive. Rochelle had probably been in the best position to break the tradition, but was one card away at the end. Laurie and Susan did OK. I was well in last place. What about David?

Ben arrived too late to join in the next game, so David showed off his multi-tasking skills by playing 7 Wonders and Battle Line (with Ben) at the same time. He also came quite close in 7 Wonders, so maybe he regrets playing two at the same time.

Susan and Amir dropped out then, one to take up knitting, the other to get to bed in preparation for an early start the next day…

The remaining 5 of us played Ticket to Ride (Europe). Rochelle easily scored the most tickets, but not enough points. I regret to report that I won this.

Thanks to all for coming. A great night. I just need to figure out a way to beat Susan at Dominion!

Wonderful

This week’s group session had me so involved in 7 Wonders at one table, that I did not see what Ben, Peleg, Rosalynn, and Yehuda were up to at the other table. I think it was some kind of Carcassonne variant, and I know that Yehuda won. But beyond that I am in the dark…so far. [Now updated. See below.]

At the other table, Judith, Laurie, Michael, Rochelle, Susan, and I played the classic 7 Wonders. Michael and Judith were newcomers, so the first part of the evening involved the usual rules explanation followed by puzzled frowns of fear. (But enough about me!)

We raced through the first round, but things slowed up very much so after that.

Michael had a military strategy, but neglected other point scoring opportunities. Judith had quite a good spread of cards, and managed to be in contention. Rochelle virtually cornered the market in the Science cards, and accumulated a terrific points score from them. Unfortunately, she couldn’t quite get all the way to the winning line, and by my reckoning was about one card short of the win. Shame.

Susan and Laurie shared the win. Susan’s points came from a cheap set of Military victory points – she stabbed me in the back, folks! – and a solid set of Blues. Laurie did less well in both these areas, but had nice Guild cards that delivered big time for her.

Well done to Laurie and Susan. And thanks to Laurie for hosting.

Update from Yehuda:

We played Carcassonne: The City. Ben had played an earlier version of Carcassonne, Rosalynn vaguely recalled either playing or watching the game once, and Peleg had never played any Carcassonne.

Rosalynn and Peleg undervalued the fields; Ben took the first one, but I merged into it and I took a second one that was just as valued. There was very little merging into other people’s areas. There was a market that Ben had, and I tried to merge into it, and Ben positioned himself to merge a second person in. In the end, however, Ben had to play tile that split the area into two, one of which we shared and a smaller one that was just mine. Ben was very short of pieces most of the game, which hampered him.

Peleg may have undervalued the fields, but he scored hugely on the walls with some watchers earning 19 points. I took the game in the end, about 10 points ahead of Ben and Peleg.

Peleg left and the three of us played Dominion. I took an early Chapel and stripped my deck to nothing but two golds, a chapel, Feast, Festival, and Moat. I pulled in Provinces one after the other and thought I had an easy win. Then I stalled with hands full of Provinces. I should have bought a few more Festivals and Feasts, I think. Meanwhile, Ben got rid of coppers using Bureaucrat, and he had the only Witch (which he only used twice), but otherwise I don’t know what he used. He won the game with one less Province but with a Duchy and five Estates.

Six wonders

[Crossposted from the Ra’anana Boardgames Group blog.]

We had six people for this week’s session, and decided to break with the usual tradition of forcing Laurie to get out an extra table; instead we all played the one game to start with, namely 7 Wonders.

Phyllis was new to the game, but everyone else had played it at least once. Her hand of green (science) cards was impressive. Unfortunately, that was it. I went down the military and resources route, but due to missing one key resource, spent too many turns doing nothing constructive. Rosalynn built up a decent set of blue victory points to earn her a respectable score. Laurie started off looking to score green (science) but changed tack and probably suffered for that. David, looking to repeat his debut win, put together a very cool range of victory points. He just lost out, probably by a single card, to Yehuda. Well done Yehuda.

After that, we played one of my favorites: Acquire. Unfortunately, with six players the game has a higher luck element, but it is still fun to play. Phyllis certainly seemed to enjoy making takeovers happen. Laurie enjoyed holding on to her cards. David just enjoyed it. Yehuda suffered a wee bit from the random element. I knew I was doing well, but ultimately my brilliant strategy (ahem) came to nothing, as Rosalynn won by a big margin thanks to her long term Imperial holdings. Well done Rosalynn.

Thanks to all for playing, and Laurie for hosting.

Wonders of five

[Crossposted from the Ra’anana Boardgames Group blog.]

At this week’s session we had five – David, Laurie, Rochelle, Yehuda, and yours truly – and played one well known game, and one making its first appearance at the group.

First up was 7 Wonders. All had played it except David, prompting Laurie to announce that he would win it because every first time player had done so. We’ll see about that, thought the others.  Unfortunately, Laurie was right. David reaped a ton of points from his Science cards and sneaked into first just ahead of Laurie, then me. Rochelle made a bit of a boo-boo in her military campaign, otherwise she would have been right up there. Poor Yehuda got a right royal stuffing and probably made his lowest ever score. We were all very sympathetic towards him and did not taunt him about this…

Next up was Attila, Only I had played it before, so I taught it  and was so busy doing that, naturally everyone did better than me. (That’s my excuse, and I am sticking to it!)

This is a game of influence with the players competing among the six tribes rampaging across Europe. You score influence by playing cards, and when there is a scoring round you want to have the most or second most influence in as many tribes as possible. However, while playing cards and putting tribal representatives on the board, you have to watch out for overpopulation which leads to war and the potential loss of bodies.

It’s fair to say that David, Yehuda and I were quite (or quietly?) aggressive, as we sought victory. But we were so busy doing this we overlooked Rochelle’s silent approach. That got Rochelle the win, with Yehuda managing a respectable second.

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting  a fine night of gaming.