Damn Intrigue

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Now that the holidays are well and truly over, it’s time to get some gaming going again. Here’s this week’s session report.

I was joined by Nechamiah, Rosalynn, and Sheer.

Short Version: Sheer won both games.

Longer Version: Sheer still won both games, but here’s how.

First up was Dominion: Intrigue. Nechamiah was keen to try this as he waits for his own copy of the base game to arrive, and it’s fair to say he enjoyed it and his thirst has been whetted and whetted. Rosalynn, who has some experience with the game, got off to  a cracking start. She used a couple of Coppersmith cards to plunder a couple of Duchies, and went into the lead. Then it was Nechamiah’s turn to get the money to buy some, then Sheer, then, me.

At this point, I started using the Torturer – forcing my opponents to discard down to 3 cards, or take a curse.  This, combined with the already purchased victory point cards in hands, really slowed down Nechamiah and Rosalynn. Sheer took full advantage, and although I pressed him closely, he won by a couple of points. (Maybe four?)

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Next up was Hansa Teutonica. It was new to Nechamiah and Rosalynn, and unfortunately is one of those games that is particularly difficulty to do well in against experienced opposition in your first outing. I let Sheer go first, so the others could get an idea of what to do, and he used the advantage to storm into the lead and stay there. But, Nechamiah did very well, and was within reach; a highly commendable effort. Rosalynn wasn’t that far away, but I was firmly, and securely in last place. Oh joy!

Thanks to those who came for making it a fun night.

Galaxy to Germany

John, Sheer, and Yehuda joined me for this week’s session of the games group.

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We started off with Race for the Galaxy, using the Gathering Storm expansion.

  • First, when John said that one of the games he brought with him to Israel was this one, I knew he would be good at it. So it proved.
  • Second, when Yehuda said he didn’t like the game, and didn’t want to play it, I feared he would have one of his ‘less than lucky’ experiences if he could be persuaded to play. He was persuaded. So it proved.
  • Finally, Sheer was new to the game. (That brought Yehuda to the fore, as he does the rules explanations so well, and he did the business here.) I knew he would do better than 99% of first timers. So it proved.

Race for the Galaxy is a card game about hand management. There are variable actions each turn, depending on what you and your opponents choose. Your objective is to get VPs by placing cards (which are all worth VPs) on the table, or getting combinations of cards that generate you VPs.

I quite like the game, but am not any good at it. However, this time I seemed to be able to play it better, got a decent combination on the table early, and was in contention.

Poor Yehuda had a good plan, and was doing OK, when some bastard (me) brought the game to an end, and stopped him too early for his liking.

Sheer made a couple of blunders, but recovered well and was not that far off the winner’s score – probably by just one card.

But John was as effective as I feared. He soared ahead (by count of VPs on cards in play) and kept going. He won, though I came tantalizingly close, just one damn VP behind.

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After that, we witched to Hansa Teutonica, which everyone had played before and knew well.

At the start, there was the usual fight for extra actions – a fight I lost – which Sheer and Yehuda came out ahead, I think. I confess it’s the one part of the game I do not like – not that it will stop me playing it – and I rarely do well with it.

Seeing defeat in that area on the cards, I went for a different strategy: scoring VPs on the board. Because the others were too busy fighting for actions, I got a decent run at this.

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John and Sheer were doing OK, constantly scoring as we all completed the main routes.

Yehuda was doing well in a range of VP areas, but seemed to be slightly behind the curve. He would have done better had the game on longer, though.

I managed to keep in contention, and then – very luckily – was in the right place at the right time to claim a couple of bonus action chits. Those bonus actions turned out to be the margin of victory for me, with Yehuda in second place.

Thanks to all who came for being a part of a great night’s gaming.

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Three in a row

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It must have been Sheer’s birthday this week.

First, I let him beat me at Star Realms.

Then, John, Laurie, Yehuda, and I let him beat all of us at Hansa Teutonica.

Then we repeated the feat by letting him crush us at 7 Wonders, with a record breaking score.

Happy birthday, Sheer! And if it wasn’t your birthday, happy unbirthday!

Now, in a bit more detail:

Star Realms – a quick and accessible deckbuilding card game that came down to the wire. Sheer wiped me out only one turn ahead of when I would have been able to do the same to him. Whatever luck element is easily dwarfed by the engrossing, rapid, and easy nature of the game.

Hansa Teutonica – a variant on the worker placement type of game, the early focus typically revolves around the fight for getting an increased number of actions per turn. So, I thought I would be radical and try a strategy that did not involve any extra actions. It didn’t work. John, a newcomer to the game, picked it up very quickly. I could see him paying close attention to what other people were doing as he tried out his own approach. I expect him to be a threat the next time we play this. Laurie and Yehuda looked to be in a good place, but Sheer just blew them away. He got the extra actions early and ruthlessly exploited them to build up his lead.

7 Wonders – a relatively quick and accessible game of card management: what to keep, what not to keep, and when to gamble on favorable cards turning up in the future. Sheer’s winning strategy ran across different sources of victory points whereas other players were stuck in one or two areas. For example, lots of people were into the red (military) stuff. I had hoped to be into green (science) but just did not have the right resources. Yehuda’s strategy fell apart thus proving there is an element of luck in the game, and when it bites you, it can be deadly! John and Laurie held their own, but never threatened. So, Sheer got his third win of the night.

Thanks to all who came.

My kingdom for a point. Or two.

A quiet pre Rosh Hashanah session, started off with Yehudah and me introducing Sheer to Hansa Teutonica. Yehuda did his usual excellent job of explaining the rules, and off we went.

Blue is the color

Blue is the color

Like many of these games, a first timer is going to struggle to compete effectively with those who have experienced the game before. And so it proved, though Sheer did better than most, and probably enjoyed more the fact that he damaged my efforts to get the win.

A quiet part of the board

A quiet part of the board

I secured the multiple actions I needed, and several times benefited from a good action tile draw. But I should have been more aggressive towards the other players and that probably cost me the game. I lost out by a single measly point and probably would have won had I been paying more attention. I was too busy enjoying the game.

Next we moved on to Dominion: Intrigue, where my early draw of the Swindler caused Yehuda to moan, and Sheer to celebrate. Although I had a decent enough hand, I lost out to Sheer’s winning combinations.

Yehuda departed to meet his grocery delivery, and Sheer and I played Star Realms. I did such a good job of teaching this, that Sheer crushed me. Great fun. Accessible, light, but with room for thoughtful play. And fast.

That’s it for this year. Here’s to more and better gaming in the new year.

Shanah Tovah!

Susan’s winning Shabbat

On Friday night, after a couple of day’s practice with the Star Realms app, I tried the game out for the first time with a live opponent – Susan. It was Susan’s first encounter with the game, but I was not surprised she picked it up, as she is a dab hand at Dominion. It came down to a single turn, but Susan managed to beat me with a great card combination, and that was the end of that.

On Shabbat afternoon, Chain, Peleg, and Yehuda joined us. We played Hansa Teutonica – a first time out for Chaim and Susan – and unsurprisingly Yehuda won. However, I was only a couple of points behind, so was well pleased. It was a tight game. Even Peleg, who probably hates the game, scored well. Chaim was doing well enough, but just lost out through not having maximized his scoring opportunities.

We finished with Ticket to Ride: Marklin Edition. Yehuda scored well with the passengers but had low scoring tickets. Susan had a reasonable spread and won the game by a single point from me – despite my almost 80 points of completed tickets. Damn! Noteably, everyone completed all their tickets despite a crowded board.

Definitely a winning Shabbat for Susan.

Men of war

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This week’s session was a male only affair, focusing on Hansa Teutonica and Antike. Ben, David, Peleg, and Yehuda joined me for Hansa. Daniel arrived in good time to make for a six player Antike game.

Hansa began with Yehuda convincing us to try his House Rule. This meant we all started with three actions per turn (instead of two) and was intended to reduce the fighting for (and importance of) the actions bonus. Well, it sort of worked, because most of us stayed away from the bonus actions. Except Yehuda and Peleg. They had a kind of dance of death encounter, with Peleg doing not too badly at all.

David and Ben were, largely, doing their own thing in their part of the board, quietly acquiring victory points. I was doing much the same.

When the game ended, Yehuda had won. But it was a lot closer than previous outings, so his House Rule may be a long term addition. Still a fun game, though I think Ben has gone off it.

Then came Antike, and Ben had much more fun, ending up being the Kingmaker. More on that in a minute.

I shadowed Yehuda, replicating his actions and keeping in close contact. He and I progressed well, and quickly enough got up to four victory points. (Six are needed for the win in our games.)

Ben, David and Peleg, however, caught up with us far too quickly.

Daniel, lagging well behind, had been building up cash and iron. Late on in the game, he converted his resources to armies and fleets. He then, in one turn, blitzed across the board to also catch up.

When the smoke cleared, Daniel, David and Yehuda were poised for the win. Who would claim it?

Daniel just couldn’t do enough in his turn. David could, but Ben remained a block. But if Ben blocked David, Yehuda would win. So, Ben was Kingmaker and allowed David to claim the victory. Well done, David. Tough luck on the rest of us, regrettably.

Thanks to all who came.

Back to the games

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It was great to get back to regular gaming, even if my play suggested I was still (mentally, if not physically) on the other side of the world. David, Peleg, Rochelle, and Yehuda were the nice people welcoming me back. (Thanks!)

First up was the increasingly popular Hansa Teutonica. Yehuda did a refresher of the rules – Peleg was the only first timer – and off we went.

Yehuda streaked ahead, being first to build up the number of actions. He supplemented this by grabbing most of the bonus chits.

I established a decent city bonus that paid up as people built up their actions, but was not otherwise successful.

First timer Peleg, slowly but surely, built up a nice network of cities. He picked the game up quickly, so will be getting no hints, help, or mercy next time around!

Rochelle played the role of spoiler too often. She blocked a lot of routes, and did well in getting her forces on to the table. Unfortunately, she was not able to convert that into points quickly enough.

David was still trying to find his way towards a winning approach here, and probably tried to do too many things. A bit more sharpening of the focus is all he needs.

The turning point in the game was when Yehuda used a bonus chit to bump poor Rochelle’s pieces of a  route that would have claimed the +4 action bonus chit. He then took it, and kept up the pressure by using the actions to immediately snaffle another bonus chit and lost of points. Ruthless.

The rest of us could not keep pace. Well played, Yehuda.

We finished off with a game of R-Eco, with the two card sharks – Rochelle and David – getting their revenge. Peleg, Yehuda and I were down at the bottom of the heap, and Rochelle beat out David for the win.

It’s great to be back!

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.

Victory line

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This week, Laurie, Rochelle, and Yehuda joined Susan and me in a game of Hansa Teutonica. It’s one we had all – apart from Susan – played before, so Yehuda did his usual excellent pre-game performance of explaining the rules.

Hansa Teutonica is a worker placement game where, as Yehuda commented, you have to shape your strategy according to what the other players are doing. That makes it very difficult for a first time player, so for Susan this was all about getting a feel fro the game, rather than competing for victory.

Of course, Yehuda’s experience comes in handy at this type of encounter, and he neatly sidestepped the tit-for-tat maneuvering that Laurie and I were engaged in, in trying to score points. Rochelle, plugging away quietly in the background, turned out to be Yehuda’s closest challenger, but he was definitely the winner. His line of city routes, slowly but surely built up during the game, was – along with the bonus chits he had secured – the difference.

And thus ended the game.

Hansa is one of those games I keep meaning to stick to a strategy while playing, but end up deviating from it on a turn to turn basis because of some temporary challenge or glitch.  Fascinating stuff.

Fancy Hansa

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This week’s session was a pleasantly intense and combative, but friendly, duel over the Hansa Teutonica board. The other players were Ben, Laurie, and David – David being the only poor blighter who had not played it before. That, undoubtedly, put him at a disadvantage, but not too much as it turned out.

The opening rounds were the usual skirmish to grab the extra action bonuses, with Laurie racing ahead there. I shied away from that, probably to my detriment.

Ben built up a good set of victory points from having control of cities in the key areas, and David seemed to have a good spread as well. Ultimately, however, Laurie’s postion was strongest and I forced the game end before she could improve her lead. The funny thing was that when we finalized the scores, confirming Laurie’s win, the finish was a tight one with a spread of only nine from first to last.

The repeat players knew the game and played it because they enjoyed it. Thankfully David seemed to enjoy it too. Unsurprisingly, he struggled a bit with the strategy in the first couple of turns, but caught on quickly. I won’t be surprised if the scores are even closer next time around.

Thanks to Laurie for hosting, and for everyone for a fun session of gaming.