Painting pretty pictures

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

A return for me to Israeli gaming, with a quick, fun session at Yehuda’s.

Co-operate, dammit!

We started with a light co-operative card game whose name I have completely forgotten. Something vaguely Japanese. (Yehuda?)

The object is to build five separately colored stacks of five cards (numbered from 1-5). You start with four cards, but you do not know what they are, the protocol being to hold them facing out so you only see the card back. Everyone else can see your cards, and you can see everyone else’s cards. (Sort of like Indian Poker, without the gambling.)

Each turn you can discard a card and draw a replacement, or give a player some intelligence about his cards, or play a card to the table and hope it fits in.

The game, cleverly, restricts the information to similar cards. For example, you can tell a player about all the green cards he has (which may be only 1) or all the cards he has with a value of 2 (which may be different colors). Further, all players are restricted in the number of times they can give information by a central pool of chits which is reduced each time any player gives information.

As a co-operative venture, Yehuda, Laurie, Rosalynn, Peleg and I failed. One of us – who will remain nameless – ditched the only ‘5’ card of one of the colors. That meant we could not finish the game with a perfect score and win. We did finish and scored 17, but as we have nothing to compare it to, I’m not sure how well we did.

It was fun, and I suspect would be a lot quicker the second time around. I cannot, however, guarantee success.

Who is the real Hamburger?

We then marked Ben’s arrival by allowing him to play Merkator with Yehuda. We others took up Pastiche.

I do not know anything about Merkator, though I will guess that Yehuda won, as Ben had not played it before. According to the Geek:

“Merkator is about the rise of Hamburg after the Thirty Years’ War.

You visit cities to collect goods or fulfill orders. The collected goods are added to the cities when a player visits a neighboring city. Fulfilling an order provides you with another better, but more complex order additional to the fulfilled order which you keep and can fulfill again, although the number of orders you can own is limited. Each order itself is worth a certain amount of points at the end of the game. Also you can exchange these points for special cards which provide additional goods in certain cities or more victory points if you fulfill certain conditions at game end.

Depending on the city you want to enter you either receive a resource called “time” or you have to spend it. By paying a certain time-fee you are allowed to accompany another player on his trip to a town to fulfill your orders in this town (but not to collect goods). The game ends when a player receives the order with the highest value by fulfilling the order one level below.”

Pass me my paintbrush

As for Pastiche, players compete for victory points awarded by finishing paintings. These pictures are real works of art, beautifully reproduced, each with a required color combination. For example, one painting might need Green, Blue, red, and Bisque color cards.

So, you need to collect these colors. How? The game uses a cute system of tile placing – hexagons – and color combinations. Each player, in his turn, places a tile, joining it to the (growing) palette. Your new hexagon has six blobs of color, one at each corner, and another in the center. You get color cards for the combinations these blobs make up when you add the tile to the palette. For example, you add Yellow to Blue and so get a Green card. If you can add a trio – for example, Red, Yellow, and Blue gets you Brown – you get that combination, and so on. Alternatively, you can chicken out and take the color of the center blob.

There are other tweaks – like trading colors, and swapping commissions (paintings) – but, broadly speaking, it’s a race to get the best color combinations out quicker than the other players.

In our game, Laurie cruised to the win with some big ticket paintings. However, Peleg was quite close. Rosalynn and I are going back to Art School.

I remarked that this would make a good bridge game – to introduce new gamers. The mechanics – unless you are color blind – are easy. It’s fast, and has a good mix of skill and luck.

A good session to get me back in to the groove. Thanks to Yehuda for hosting.