Driving to Victory

automobiles

Azriel, Rosalynn, Peleg, and Sheer joined me for the last pre-Pesach playing session, and a good one it was.

We started with Automobiles, a game that combines deck-building with a racing boardgame. This was new to Azriel and Rosalynn, but they were quickly up to, er, speed with the game mechanics. Azriel loves combinations, and was happy to do as many of these as he could, even if they weren’t the best for his chances of victory. Rosalynn, Peleg, and I competed to be second to last, as Sheer had decided he wanted to win from the back and stay in last place as long as possible. Come the final lap, Sheer made his break for the front and we all chased him. But a bad draw meant that Sheer’s bold stroke fell at the last hurdle, and I was first pass the post.

We finished the night with a combination of Dominion: Adventures and Dominion: Intrigue. It was very definitely my night, as I built up a stack of gold cards, and nobody else’s combinations got anywhere near to my buying power often enough. (I think most of the other players were still in shock from me winning the last game, as my previous efforts at it have been awful.) So, I managed the rare event of winning the second consecutive game of the night. Hopefully everybody else still enjoyed it…

Thanks to all who came for making another great night of gaming.

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Build that wall!

alhambra2

No, not a political commentary, a game session report…

This week, while Sheer fought the traffic, Azriel, Peleg, Rosalynn and I warmed up with a game of Dominion: Intrigue and Alchemy. One of the cards – Masquerade? – generated curses, and these made for a slow middle game. Azriel kept plugging away at his Golem cards, and Rosalynn had a useful combination too, so both of them scored well. Peleg was put off his stride by Sheer arriving, and the pair of them combined to achieve the lowest score I have ever seen in such a game: eleven points. Considering they started with three, and I gave them three – it’s a long story- that’s bad. Real bad. I guess it shows that too many cooks do spoil the broth. Oh, and I won. (Tee hee.)

Sheer got his revenge when we switched to Alhambra, a game tasking you with building a palace, where the length of your palace wall is as important as the gardens and buildings within the palace. He won. I had a dreadful start, but recovered well enough to finish up second, the others just behind me. It was a first time outing for Azriel, and he usually wins, but not this time. Rosalynn seemed to have a good start, but then got caught with the wrong cards at the wrong time, and she was not able to buy enough. Peleg had also done well, but seemed to lose ground in the third phase, and the game definitely ended at the worst time for him.

Thanks to all who came. Great fun.

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Eighth Wonder

7 wonders box top

This week’s session started off with Azriel, Rosalynn, Peleg, and Sheer joining Susan and me for a game of Resistance. Then, with the box top opened, the players decided they didn’t want to play that, but instead wanted to play 7 Wonders. So, 7 Wonders it was. And Resistance went back into the box. Somebody spare a thought for poor Resistance’s feelings…

In the game, Azriel’s combined military and blue building strategy was good, but not good enough. Peleg got off to an awful start, but ramped up when the guilds came out, and did quite well. But not well enough. Susan crushed everyone in the blue buildings category, but only that category. Otherwise, almost no points. Not enough points. Sheer’s approach was hard to work out. His score, consequently, reflected that. Shame. My blue buildings and guilds worked reasonably well. But not well enough. Rosalynn creamed us all. She cornered the market in green cards, and that alone was a top rated score. The extra bits and pieces she picked up elsewhere confirmed her as the deserved winner. Azriel was close behind. Nobody else was…

After that, Peleg and Sheer went one on one in Hero Realms. I think they finished a couple of games with one win each.

Azriel, Rosalynn, Sheer and I played a couple of games of Dominion: Intrigue mixed with Dominion: Alchemy. Azriel got his revenge with a win in the first game. I managed to win the second, despite the appearance of the dreaded (hated) Possession card.

And then it was time for bed.

Thanks to all who came for making it another great night of gaming.

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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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Gaming splendor

splendor

This week I was joined by Joseph, Peleg, and Sheer for a three game session of friendly competition.

First up was Splendor, a Marc André design published by Space Cowboys. (Ahem.) Each turn you can collect gems, reserve cards, or buy cards. Gems are the currency, so you need to collect them. The cards are what you buy with them. There are twelve cards visible at the start of the game, and you can reserve one for future purchase by taking it in to your hand. (As cards are removed, a new one appears.) This reservation stops an opponent from buying it, but obviously takes up a turn. The cards themselves give gem bonuses, so can be used to supplement the gems you collect. And, there are a small number of extra victory points you can acquire by having the right combination of gem bonuses. Essentially, you need to maximize the return on your action, so it is all about planning, planning, planning. (And not being screwed by your fellow gamers.)

In our first encounter with this game, we all liked it, but Peleg was that bit better at maintaining his focus, and he was a worthy winner. Sheer and Joseph were close, but I wasn’t. This is the type of game where, to do well, you need to concentrate.

It’s an easy game to play, quite quick, and satisfying. Over time it may become too bland if we play it too often, but it seems a perfect filler and stand by.

samara

Next up was another game new to all of us: Samara. This is a Corné van Moorsel design, published by Cwali. It’s a worker placement game. The first twist is that the workers are on a monthly calendar board. Each action takes time, represented by moving the worker the requisite number of months down the calendar. So, the longer the action, the more opportunity for the other players to do multiple actions before it is your turn again. The second twist is that to buy one of the 30 (out of 36) available buildings on the board (all with victory points, some with bonuses, and some with penalties) depends on the prior acquisition of certain tools, and on the row they occupy. There is a row for one, two, three, and four, being the number of workers needed. So, to get something – a tool or a building – that is six months away on row four, means four workers need to start on the same space, and then get moved six months away.

There was a lot of planning and decision making in this modest little game, but it didn’t quite seem to hit the sweet spot. For example, I don’t think any of us were satisfied that the game’s random distribution of the tools worked. Further, the higher up the starting order you are in the first couple of turns, gives an advantage (OK, I was last in turn order; I admit it) that it can be difficult to overcome. Some of the building bonuses seemed too powerful, and the penalties were too penal. It was an enjoyable enough experience, and Joseph warmly deserved his victory. However, I didn’t see enough to guarantee that this will ever get another play. There are some terrific ideas here, but it lacks some final development that might turn it into something more than it is now.

We finished off with a Saboteur dominated game of Dominion: Intrigue. Sheer was the winner in terms of players. However, his victory point score was only half of the number of victory points in the trash pile. So, really, the trash pile won!

Thanks to all who came.

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Lesson time

upfront
This week’s session saw Sheer come over and show Susan and I how to play Dominion Adventures. (Translation: Sheer won.) Then Sheer showed me how to play one of my favorite wargames: Up Front. (Translation: Sheer won.)

In a bit more detail:

For Dominion: Adventures, we used the size distortion setup with cards from the base set as well as Adventures. Sheer’s winning strategy was to bulk up on silver cards, and duplicate them with one of the events that simultaneously reduced our hand size for a turn (Camp?). Susan competed much better than me, using the Giant to make regular Victory Point purchases. My problem was that I started down one road, wasn’t successful, and tried another plan that did not have enough time to work.In the end, Sheer won, but only by a few points from Susan. Both had at last double my score. It was a challenging mix of cards, and delivered the usual satisfying game experience.

Susan allowed Sheer and I to indulge in some wargaming. I explained the Up Front  rules to Sheer and we played the first scenario, pitting a squad of US soldiers against my German squad. At one key point in the game, when I was sure that I had the right card combination, I advanced my key groups. I was also sure that Sheer did not have decent Fire cards. I was wrong. I lost one soldier to a deadly shot. From then on, things went downhill, a I tried to rescue the situation with more aggressive moves that simply didn’t work. Great fun, even in defeat, and Sheer expressed a desire to play this again, so good news all round.

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Tied up with Netrunner

Noise-card-a

Sheer and I were able to play several games of Netrunner this week. I was the Runner, and Sheer was the Corporation. I used Gabriel Santiago twice, and Noise twice. Sheer’s games were all played using Haas-Bioroid.

haas-card

All were close, tense matches, finishing up with two wins apiece. In three out of the four games, the victory was by the slimmest of margins.

Santiago-card-a

For example, in one game I had the chance to draw the card I needed for the win from Sheer’s hand. He had three cards. Two out of three would have given me the win. I drew the wrong one. (Of course!) In the next turn, Sheer went on to claim the win.

In another game, Sheer was set up to get the win in his next turn. What could I do about it in my turn? Well, I did a run on R&D (his draw deck) which, at great costs, succeeded. The top card turned out to be an agenda, and that gave me the win, instead of him. Hooray!

We have had a lot of close games, and our general conclusion is that the game is very well balanced. Sure, there have been blowouts, but these have very much been in the minority. The more I play this game, the more I like it. I’m glad I picked up several of the expansions during my London trip.

Dominion

To finish off the night we played a couple of games of Dominion: Intrigue.

In the first, Sheer went with a Saboteur strategy, while I invested in cash. My purchases worked out faster than his Saboteur could destroy them, and that gave me the win. In the second game, the roles were reversed, and I could not keep pace with his buying. So, one win each.

A night of good gaming, with some memorable moments, thanks to a couple of great game designs. Gaming as it was meant to be.

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“Intrigue, intrigue. Will we ever get to out-trigue?”

Sorry about the headline. I was feeling in a stupid mood. I have this damn cough, and it is energy sapping to the point of frustration and beyond. Anyway, can you guess what game we played this week?

dom_advs

Nechemiah, Rosalynn, and Sheer came along, and we played Dominion: Intrigue, San Juan, and Take it Easy.

Dominion: Intrigue

While Nechemiah and Rosalyn await their own copy of Dominion to arrive, they have been keen to get up to speed with the game mechanics. So, both were glad to play, even although this has a completely different set of action cards. They did reasonably well, but were hindered by one or two rookie mistakes. Sheer built himself a great deck, allowing him to play all his cards every turn, and generate enough money. But it was only one buy per turn, and he was a few turns behind. I stuck to a mix of money and simple action cards. I had a decent lead, and although Sheer cut it back, he could not quite catch up.

San Juan

Another popular game, with everyone being familiar with it. We all went our own sweet way in trying to amass the right cards, but Sheer’s combination of 6 point cards was too strong for us all.

Take it Easy

Two quick games of this were the closing action. In one I drew and called the pieces. In the other, Sheer drew and called the pieces. I got lucky and won both games.

Thanks to my three guests for making it another pleasurable gaming evening.

 

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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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