Among the Gamers

In this week’s gaming session, we went from deep space to deepest Puerto Rico. Quite a night.

Newcomer Efrat joined Azriel, Sheer and me for Among the Stars. a sort of 7 Wonders in space. Neither Efrat nor Azriel had played it before, but both picked it up quite well. Efrat mastered it a bit better, as she demonstrated by winning her first ever game, just ahead of Sheer.

Where’s Captain Kirk when you need him?

In brief, Efrat’s compact space station strategy worked. Sheer’s more strategic placements – taking positions in anticipation of cards still to be drawn – fell short because the cards he was looking for must have been among those (randomly) withdrawn at the start.

Azriel and I floundered around a bit. I know I made some bad choices. At the end, he and I were a bit behind. Anyway, as said, our newcomer was the winner. Well done Efrat.

Efrat didn’t quite manage to repeat the feat in the next game, San Juan. Again it was her first time, and she was certainly in contention. I am sure Azriel has played this a lot, but he seems to prefer some of the expansions to this base game, and his strategy just did not work here. My mistake – no strategy; I did not have a plan until it was too late. Sheer had a plan – a master plan – and it worked masterfully well, securing him the win. Well done Sheer.

Great night: two fine games, and some funny moments among the game play. Thanks to all who came.

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These guys can play

among-the-stars

At last, some gaming. This week’s low key session had Peleg and Sheer join me, for three good, solid, games. Here we go:

Among the Stars

It’s an interesting reworking, almost, of 7 Wonders. You have to build a space station using cards. You have 6 cards at start, use one, and pass on 6. Which to take, which to keep? Which might make their way back to you? Which are good for your opponents? Add in the challenge of card placement, managing energy and financial resources, and you get a cracking game that is easy to play, but hard to master. The element of luck is there, but it is not overpowering; instead it adds to the spice.

Result: I won this by one magnificent, crucial, significant, brilliantly played point, ahead of Sheer, then Peleg. Truly a game of great skill… (OK; I admit it. I was lucky.)

Dominion: Intrigue

We went for a random setup, generating an interesting lineup of attack cards (Sabotage, Swindler) and not much by way of defense (Secret Chambers). As usual, I got the Ironworks, Great Hall, and money combination screwed up, and rapidly fell behind. Peleg struck first, but was slowly overhauled by Sheer.

Result: Sheer, then Peleg, then me.

Race for the Galaxy

Before we start, can I just say that the iconography in this game is one I do not like. So, it’s a credit to the designer that I still quite like to play it. However, I also know I am not good at it. I do not think I have ever won a game of RFTG. ¬†Indeed, after drawing my starting world, it went downhill from there!

Both Peleg and Sheer had played before, but it had been a while. They eventually sorted out what was going on, with Sheer’s development purchases being the crucial difference. Peleg wisely stayed away from the expensive cards in the early rounds, but may have stayed away a touch too long, and that was probably the difference.

Result: Sheer, then Peleg, then me.

Thanks, guys, for proving you can play, and contributing to a fine night of gaming pleasure.

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When the cards fall right

In this week’s session, I hosted John, Sheer, and Yehuda.

We started with an extended session of Tichu. This is a trick taking partnership game. It uses a special deck of cards consisting of the usual 52 members, plus four extras with different abilities. Instead of the more usual trick taking of playing a card at a time, here the tricks can be – according to the first type of combination led – the best pair, triple, run of five, and so on. You score points for the cards you have at the end of each round of play which is when only one player has cards left. You have the ability to beef up your score by going out (ie having no cards left) first, and by declaring your intention to be first, and so on.

Sheer and I lined up as a partnership against Yehuda and John. The lead swung about a bit until we were around the 500 mark. Then a couple of declarations by Yehuda and John saw them reach the 1,000 point winning line.

i don’t particularly like the game because of the luck element. Unlike Bridge, for example, this is all or nothing. You are either out of cards, or you are not. So, what you are dealt makes a material difference. The one time I was dealt good cards, I went out first. Easy! I dare say skillful (and practiced) players like Yehuda play much better than novices like me (and Sheer and John), but I think there’s more skill in playing the classic Whist variants like O Hell! In short, it’s an OK filler game, but anything more than that is not for me.

ats

Next up was Among the Stars. This is a variation on the 7 Wonders type of game, here themed as building a space station. We played the basic game which has very little player interaction, but allowed us to get familiar with the cards. This will help when we add in the alien races, the goals, the challenges, and the other juicy add ons.

John and Sheer were the early leaders. I caught up and took the lead around the end of round two (out of four). But after that, I slipped back, with everyone else overtaking me. Yehuda’s long term VPs – the special ones you only score at the end of the game, gave him the win. Short, sharp, easy. I am looking forward to playing the more meaty version.

Thanks to my three guests for making a good night of it, again.

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The dominion, the prince, and the star

pofb

This week’s session began with a quick and intensive three player game of Dominion. John, Yehuda, and I fought over a high value set of Action Cards. However, it was the rather lowly Militia that did the damage, winning the game for John.

Sheer and Tal joined us for a game of Princes of Florence. Yehuda did his usual excellent job of explaining the rules to John and Sheer. Both of them did an excellent job of picking up the key points, and were well in contention save for some understandable errors. Tal seemed to lose her way a bit, possibly because she was still thinking about the work she was doing for a friend, when she should have been maximizing her score! It’s a tricky game to master, but Yehuda has done that, and his ‘come from behind’ approach showed us all how to win. Well done, Yehuda!

pofa

Tal dropped out to check out some music and allow the four guys to get a first shot at Among the Stars. We played the non-aggressive mode, fairly fast, made some mistakes but had some fun. As John and Sheer pointed out, once you build up familiarity with the cards, you will have a better chance of maximizing the score and doing well. Yehuda won, with Sheer and John not that far behind. I was well in last place. It was great to get the first run done and get used to the mechanics. The additions – goals and alien races – should make for an interesting combination. We are sure to play it again.

Thanks to all who came.

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A wondrous station

Out of the wrapper, my latest eurogame acquisition, Among the Stars and the two expansions:

ats

I have not played it yet. It looks like an interesting variation of the 7 Wonders type of game, with the positioning of cards now taking some prominence in the decision making.

BGG says:

Among the Stars takes place in a war-ravaged galaxy where the warring alien races have declared peace in the wake of a threat with the potential to destroy them all. An Alliance is established to build space stations throughout the galaxy in order to promote trade among the races, strengthen diplomatic relations, and defend against this impending threat. Each player takes the role of one of those races trying to build the greatest space station. Through card drafting, the players select locations, and use these to build their station, scoring victory points based on the placement. The construction lasts four years, and alien race with the most points at the end wins.

I like the artwork, and hope the game play matches it. Maybe we will get to try Among the Stars this week.

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