Hidden agendas

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Newcomer John joined Susan and I for a game of classic Dominion. Susan’s favorite card, Militia, was included in the available Action Cards and so it saw a lot of, er, action. John wasn’t shy about using it either. I saw myself falling behind and unable to generate enough money, so I went for multiple small buys with the intention of adding Gardens cards and fluffing up my score.

John looked to be powering ahead as he secured the fist 6 victory point card (Province?), but Susan was keeping pace with him. John and Susan were both doing a good job of chaining action cards to acquire enough money to get what they wanted. Fortunately, neither of them went near the Gardens cards.

At the end, John did not have enough of the big victory point cards to challenge Susan’s score. But, rather surprisingly, I won by a point or two thanks to a veritable mountain of Gardens. (That is today’s mixed metaphor, folks.)

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John and I then played a game of Netrunner. I knew things were going to be bad when John made an early run on my draw deck and stole an agenda in the first of his turns… Things went from bad to worse as, despite what I thought was a decent set of defenses, John charged through and stole another agenda. He was one agenda away from winning.

At that point he had run out of money, however, and I took the opportunity to score a couple of agendas, while trying to trap him. I had the game won with a brilliantly executed trap. Unfortunately, I forgot to keep enough money to pay for the trap to operate. Oh dear.

Having blown that chance for victory, it was now a race against time for me as I was running out of cards. I beefed up my defenses, installed an agenda and went for it. But John ignored that agenda and instead made successive runs on my draw deck. I think it was the second or third that secured him the final agenda needed for the win. Well done John.

The more I play of Netrunner, the more I like it. And I know I am only scratching the surface, because I have done no deckbuilding and haven’t removed any of the expansion cards from their boxes. In short, I hope to play this a lot more. But I will need to sharpen my play if I am to beat John, by the looks of it.

Watch out for the other guy

dominion

This week, we started with Dominion.

Susan and I were joined by Ben and Yehuda, with a random distribution of Action Cards, including Council Room, Feast, Gardens, Market, Remodel, Spy, Throne Room, and some others that I cannot remember.

Yehuda quickly amassed the desired combination of cards, but couldn’t quite generate the 8 points of gold he needed to buy the Province victory Point cards. Or at least, not as often as he wanted.

Ben and Susan were in a similar situation, with Susan relying a fair bit on the Spy card, and Ben chopping and changing his approach.

I went for a combination of Market and money, in small doses. I got lucky and generated three consecutive Province purchases. When the scores were totted up at the end, I had won. In a game with such high level competitors, that was a notable win for me.

A good start to the night.

Sheer arrived, swapping in for Susan, and we turned to play Amerigo.

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At this point, I want to give a special mention to Ben. Not about his braces, or his beer, or anything like that. Instead, I want to note his attitude to playing the game. He is a fine game player, and well able to hold his own. But like all of us, there are games  he likes, and games he doesn’t like. And games he plays well. And games he doesn’t play well – or do well at.

So, when the others suggested playing Amerigo, I noted Ben’s response. It was something like:

“I remember playing it last time and not hating it enough so as to never want to play it again.”

Looking back on last night’s game, I think I can now translate what he said as:

“I didn’t like the game. But I didn’t hate it. And to help the evening, if everyone else wants to play it, I will.”

What a gent. You see, he really struggled in the game. He was always at the back of the scoring track, and never looked like catching up. I really felt for him. But not once did he complain. (Unlike me…) and not once did he moan, or regret having made the decision to play. This was a major help in everyone having a good time. So, it was appreciated, and I wanted to record it.

Thank you Ben!

As for the game itself…

Everyone else was so busy watching Yehuda, that I was able to grab a small island, settle all its landing areas, and complete it by the end of turn 2. That gave me a huge morale boost and a 40 plus point score. From then on, I was always in the lead, or just about. Sheer was a threat. Yehuda was a threat. But I held on for the win, with Yehuda just edging out Sheer for the coveted (usually be me) runner up spot!

It helped that for the first two rounds, the pirates were no threat, but materialized in round three. In that round, I had already prepared my pirate defenses. So while everyone else was playing catch up there, I was able to score some more valuable victory points.

Yehuda had a relatively trouble free time in settling his lands. However, he seemed to have restricted his options and had nothing to build in the final couple of rounds. Ben and Sheer carved me up on one of the bigger islands, and that kept my score in check. Thankfully, for me, they were eating into each other’s points as well.

That white island is mine, I say. Mine!

That white island is mine, I say. Mine!

Incidentally, we had settled all the board – apart from one small island that Ben had captured for himself – by the last turn but one.  Unfortunately for Ben, he could not generate enough victory points out of the opportunity.

Separately, I’m beginning to suspect the game may be one turn too long, as it is not the first time not much of consequence has happened in the last turn.

Waiting in hope for the right color cubes to emerge...

Waiting in hope for the right color cubes to emerge…

But it was a good game, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Thanks to all who came.

Under observation

reibach

David, Sheer, Rochelle, Susan, and I started with a five person session of an old classic filler game, Reibach & Co. Essentially, you are trying to collect sets. You either want a monopoly, or the biggest number of cards in a set. There are Jokers and double point cards, and a ticking clock scoring mechanism that adds to the tension. It’s fast, fun, not too serious, and has a fair chunk of luck. (You can tell I won...)

Chen had arrived to watch. Yehuda had arrived to play.

David, Rochelle, and Susan went off to play Dominion. Susan’s unbroken run of wins came to a dead halt courtesy of David, but by the end of a three game session everyone had claimed a win, and everyone looked happy.

Sheer, Yehuda and I went for the rather meaty Age of Industry, using the variant Japan board. It took a long, long, time for Yehuda to explain the rules to newcomer Sheer, but he must have paid attention as he did rather well. Very well, in fact, for a first game.

The one standout feature was that we burned up all the coal and iron assets, and so were unable to finish off the cards. We may have got something wrong, but it was not immediately obvious. Anyway, I had the most points just ahead of Sheer and Yehuda, so I think we played it fine!

A good tonic for the week. Thanks to all who came.

The three ticketeers

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Ben and David joined me for this week’s regular session, fresh from a joint outing to a culinary event in Tel Aviv. So, they were well fed and well watered, and in a jolly good mood. Although when we started playing games, the competitive urge was still there, they kept the good mood!

We started off with Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, and then played two games of Dominion.

Ben kept all 5 of his tickets. David and I kept 3. David spent a long time trying to get the right cards for the longest (nine train) route, but after playing it went into the lead.

Ben was doing well until I stopped him, er, in his tracks. Unfortunately for me, I was so busy congratulating myself on doing that, I forgot to complete one of the extra set of tickets I picked up. (Silly me.) And Ben recovered.

Ben completed four out of five tickets, as did I. David didn’t do that well…

Ben won. Well done, Ben!

In the first Dominion game, Ben got off to a good start, claiming the first 6 victory point card. But he could not quite get up enough momentum, and David and I closed on him. At the final count, I had secured the win by a narrow margin.

Ben got his revenge in the final game. David was having lots of fun with his Militia and Witch cards, but spent too long on them and not enough accumulating money or victory points. But he’s a novice at the game, so this valuable experience will stand him in good stead for the next time. In this game Ben did manage to keep up the momentum, and neither David nor I could keep up the pace. So, a win there for Ben.

Good fun.

Sheer gaming success

Here be no dragons!

Here be no dragons!

A quiet but intensive session this week, with Sheer and Yehuda joining me.

We started with Lords of Waterdeep, a Dungeons and Dragons themed game with a worker placement core mechanism and one or two interesting tweaks. I was keen to play this again because Yehuda had discovered we had been playing it incorrectly. We were both curious what the impact would be of, er, using the rules correctly. Sheer was new to this and Yehuda did his great job of explaining the rules.

In essence, you use your workers to generate resources. And you use your resources to complete missions. Missions bring you victory points. I think it was in the first or second round (out of eight) that Yehuda successfully completed a 20 point mission (aka “Quest”) and no matter what I did, I could not quite catch up. In that respect, the game has some luck – the availability of the missions of the right type – but that’s not to take away from Yehuda’s win, as he played well to keep just enough ahead of us.

Sheer, for his part, was doing badly, then better, then brilliantly. He didn’t quite catch up, but it was a damn fine performance. (That’s the last time any of us take pity on him!)

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The game does have mandatory missions which can throw a spoke in your plans. Neither Yehuda nor I are convinced they are necessary. In our game, only Yehuda was on the receiving end, and it did not prevent him winning.

Playing with the rules correctly meant the scores were much higher – previously we had incorrectly only allowed one mission completion per round – and that was probably a good thing. It encourages gamers to score points!

After that we switched to Dominion.

In short, Sheer crucified us both – primarily playing a succession of Militia cards – and ran out an easy winner.

Yehuda went home at that point, and left me to try again. While I did postpone the agony, Sheer did win again, completing a good night for him. A very good night.

Thanks for coming guys. Great fun.

Endeavoring to do my best

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This week’s gaming session, which I hosted, saw newcomer Sheer join up with Peleg, Rochelle, Yehuda, and me.

We started with Endeavor. All of us, apart from poor Sheer, had played this before, but Yehuda did his usual rapid rules instruction, and we were off and running.

As before, the first few turns flew past, but things slowed up for the later turns as we all had built up a decent bank of actions and options. Yehuda tried out a new strategy (for him) and was keeping well out of the way of Peleg and Rochelle who were not slow in using military might to get their way. Sheer was trying to get to grips with the game, and doing a fine job. I was trying to make efficient moves and was reasonably happy with my progress.

At the end, Yehuda and I were competing for the win. I just sneaked it. Hooray! Everyone else was not that far behind.

After that, Yehuda and Peleg retired to get some beauty sleep, while Rochelle, Sheer, and I played Dominion.

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Again, Sheer needed a wee rules instruction. I managed to do this reasonably well. (Sometimes during the game, I thought I had done it too well.) In the end, I won because I stuck to my own advice of grabbing money in preference to combinations of action cards. Sheer had gone for it the other way round. And Rochelle had stalled a wee bit fighting off Sheer’s damn militia.

A great night. Thanks to all who came.

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.

Session report bonus

Here is Yehuda‘s follow up to the earlier session report:

Puerto Rico: both Ben and Amir played well from the start, with only a few moves that I suggested or tried to explain what would happen. I made the mistake – again- of trying to play without a trade good (tobacco or coffee), trying to survive only on Factory and Harbor.

Meanwhile, Amir had a tobacco monopoly and Ben had a coffee monopoly. Both of them had no trouble trading them for much cash and blocking boats at certain points. Amir handed Ben one trade too many, and they both ended up with 2 big buildings to my one. Shipping stalled near the end of the game, which favored the builders. Ben had 52 points, Amir 48, and me 36.

Given Yehuda’s expertise in the game, Ben’s win is noteworthy, as is Amir’s finishing ahead of Yehuda!

Dominion: I bought two early Shanty Towns which did me absolutely no good. Ben’s Moneylenders worked much quicker for him, and he was three Provinces up before I started making any headway. Amir gained 1 Province and I started taking multiple Duchies and finally some Provinces, but couldn’t catch up to Ben (almost). Ben won with 48, I had 43, and Amir had 24 or so.

Thank you, Yehuda.

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.

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…