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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“The train on platform one…”

trains

For this week’s session, I was joined by Azriel, Nechamiah, Peleg, Roslynn, and Sheer, and we split intwo two sets of three player games.

Sheer taught Suburbia to Ariel and Peleg. It’s one of the many games that Sheer excels at, so it was no surprise that he won, though both newcomers did a creditable job of keeping close, and had a far better understanding of the game at the end. (It’s always the way.) I fully expect them to crush Sheer the next time they play. Or not… Anyway, well done Sheer.

Meanwhile, I taught Trains to Nechamiah and Roslynn. As this has a lot of Dominion type mechanics, and they know that game well, both picked it up very quickly. Again, I was able to leverage my prior playing experience, and put it to no good all, finishing up well behind Nechamiah, and the winner Roslynn. Way to go Roslynn!

With Peleg and Sheer heading off early to get some beauty sleep, Azriel, Nechamia, Roslynn and I played 7 Wonders. As the others discovered, it’s a completely different game with four players than it is with seven (which was how it was the last time we played it) and this time I put my prior experience to better use. Essentially my victory came down to two factors. First, I had set myself up to benefit from the third round Guild cards. Second, when the Guild cards were available, the others neither took them, nor burned them, so leaving me to accumulate all but one that were available. That having been said, the scores were reasonably close. And, were we to play again four handed, I would not expect to win – certainly not the same way!

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

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Shabbat gaming

"A gun free environment. Sorry Tomer."

“A gun free environment. Sorry Tomer.”

We had a good selection of games and gamers on Shabbat afternoon, running through Star RealmsAlhambra, Suburbia, and several games of R-Eco. 

No takers for Dominion, which was  a bit of a surprise.

A few takers for the Dalmore 15, Dalwhinnie 15, and Auchentoshan Cooper’s Reserve 14, which was not a surprise.

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whisky-dalw

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Shavuah Tov, everyone!

PS: I had the Talisker. It was good, too.

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By the edge of the lake

This week, we started with a warm-up of 6-Nimmt (in the guise of The Walking Dead remake) as Sheer was stuck in Tel Aviv traffic. Joining me were Amiram, John, Nadine, Peleg, and Yehuda.

Yehuda doesn’t like the game, and played in a rather distracted fashion. Nadine, being much more polite, tried it out with an open mind, and did will enough to win! Amiram was second, just ahead of me. Well done, Nadine and Amiram!

Next up, with Sheer’s arrival, we split into two groups.

Amiram, John, Peleg and Sheer played Five Tribes. Beyond knowing that Sheer won, I have no information. Hopefully one of the players will contribute a short report.

Yehuda and I introduced Nadine to Suburbia. We did it so well, she won! Admittedly, she was helped by some luck in the building availability suiting her strategy, and good advice from the other players. OK, good advice from one of the players. OK, good advice from Yehuda!

Basically, Nadine grabbed the Waterfront Realty building which gave her a lot of cash, and she leveraged that into buying a couple of key combinations that generated more cash and reputation. And, fortunately for Nadine, the approach fitted the public goals and her own goal.

Yehuda, strangely for him, never got going. (This may have been because he still hadn’t recovered from the hiding he got in 6-Nimmt…) Anyway, his purchases never seemed to combine well, and he was constantly chasing the game.

I had a green building strategy, but while it was good enough to get me second place, was never really good enough to mount a threat to Nadine. I could complain about the available tiles, but in truth Nadine just played better. Well done Nadine! (Again!)

Thanks to all who came – especially our Jerusalem visitors – for making it a great games night.

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Intriguing

"One day, a casino will make all the difference."

“One day, a casino will make all the difference.”

This week’s session started with John and Sheer teaching me how to play Suburbia. As in, the pair of them completely crushed me. I think it was my worst performance at the game, and I only have a vague idea why that might be.

First, we used Sheer’s suggestion to vary the selection of our individual hidden goals. I chose badly – fewest green buildings – and that mistake had a major impact.

Second, Sheer got his game engine in early order and took a big lead in income. John and I were still pottering along – none of us growing our populations too much – and I decided to go for a money strategy to work. That was a mistake, too.

Third, I completely underestimated what John was up to. I thought he was also struggling. However, he gradually built up a slow but growing powerhouse of gray tiles, and was in serious contention.

Fourth, Sheer grabbed the Casino when it came out. This meant his income did not go down – as it normally does – on making progress up the population chart. That was a great move and probably sealed the victory for him.

So Sheer won, but only a few points ahead of John. I think both were around the 100 point mark, and I was struggling to claim even half of that.

dominionintrigue

We then played a couple of games of Dominion: Intrigue. We played a couple of the suggested combinations from the rule book, and both were good fun. The Torturer, Masquerade, and Upgrade cards were among the many highlights. The card mechanics and interactions are clever, and the game continues to impress me.

It was John’s turn to excel, as he claimed the win in both games. Sheer and I each claimed one second place.

Thanks to John and Sheer for contributing to another entertaining evening.

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Turning the clock back

Or, to put it another way, last week’s session report. (Can you tell I am running a wee bit behind?) This report comes from Yehuda, to whom I offer my thanks.

Ken brought Suburbia.

I maintained a small tight city. had an early lead in income (7), but I was afraid that I didn’t have much in the way of synergy. I won by a few points. Sheer in 4th position and with his first building that doubled his lake income still let me get ahead of him in lakes. That secured for me the 20 point public bonus for most lakes. Sheer nearly won anyway; he lost at the end only after we carried my remaining money. John gained a massive income soon after I started falling back from 7; he got to 15 and stayed there for most of the game. John and Ken competed for the industry buildings, with Ken taking it.

It then turned out that none of them had played the classic Tigris and Euphrates. It’s something to think about: people who got into gaming in the last five years have not necessarily played the “classics” that came out until [before?] 2005. For instance, they also have never played El Grande.

Anyhow, T&E is a little tricky to explain but they got into it soon enough. Sheer had a run of bad luck with conflicts; he attacked me on several early occasions and lost all of the attacks. He won a few later on but they were not enough help. John mostly avoided conflicts. Meanwhile, Ken got a huge early gain in black (against Sheer). Then he gained a huge lead in blue and built a monument. He won yet another major conflict in green and built another monument. Only red gave him some trouble, and he never captured any treasures, but he still won by a point.

I gained a little from my early conflicts with Sheer and I had my experience to rely on. I took five of the treasures and thought I was fairly balanced, but couldn’t compete with the gains Ken achieved. I lost to him by a point.

Thanks, Yehuda.

That’s an interesting point about gamers having missed out on the classic games. We have played Medici, but not Modern Art for example. There must be others at the back of the cupboard…

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Building a win

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This week’s session saw Susan and I host John, Laurie, Sheer, and Yehuda for a couple of three player games.

At the other side of the table, Yehuda ran a game of Amerigo, then a game of San Juan, both with Laurie and John. I believe he won both. Because I was busy with my own games, I do not have any meaningful recollection of what happened, though it appeared John liked his introduction to both games, and Yehuda was getting tired of both. Clarification is awaited!

On my side of the table, I ran a game of Suburbia, then a game of Dominion, both with Susan and Sheer.

In Suburbia, I beat out the others because I could claim all three public goals and my own goal. As Sheer commented, the goals are very powerful. As I commented, that’s why I think it is a mistake to ignore them.

In Dominion, I beat out the others by going for a money first strategy. That allowed me to be the first to buy VPs, and even although I received a ton of curses (negative VPs), I burned enough away with the Chapel card. Sheer had a very impressive Market based deck, but it just did not generate enough money early enough. Susan seemed to play lost of Spy, Thief, and Witch cards. While these impacted badly on the other players, Susan did not seem able to benefit sufficiently, and struggled to get VPs.

It was good to get in a couple of chunky games, though I was hoping to try out the Leaders expansion for 7 Wonders. Some were not keen on it. This is interesting: no matter how highly rated a game is, there always seem to be players who do not like it and do not want to play it. That’s not a complaint; it’s an observation about there being different strokes for different folks. I wonder what strokes we will get up to next week?

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Four wonders

It's a goal! And another goal!

It’s a goal! And another goal! And another…

This week’s session, hosted by Laurie, featured a couple of good, competitive and fun games.

First up, Sheer, Yehuda, and I joined Laurie in the much sought after Suburbia. (A tile placing game about developing your own borough.) Although the mechanics are very dry – you choose and place a tile, and that’s about it – the interaction and planning aspects largely overcome that handicap.

In our game, Yehuda set his sights on a slow progression from the back, suppressing his population growth and maximizing his income. I was doing something similar, but not as successfully. That left Laurie and Sheer to be the leaders in the early sessions.

Part of Yehuda's borough

Part of Yehuda’s borough

At a certain point, Laurie concentrated on certain goals that allowed Sheer to pull ahead. However, by now Yehuda’s combinations were working and he was competing with Sheer. I was firmly at the back. But I had two aces up my sleeve: of the four public goals that earned points, I was looking to score two of them. So my apparent score on the board was misleading.

In the last few turns, Yehuda and Sheer pulled ahead, neck and neck, with Yehuda hanging on for the win. Sheer’s hidden goal was – unknowingly – unattainable because of my abundance of blue buildings. The gap to the leaders was too much for Laurie to close, though she had a ton of money and made some good last turn gains. The gap was also too much for me, but I wasn’t that far away, ending up in second place.

This is what you call a borough. (Mine, all mine!)

This is what you call a borough. (Mine, all mine!)

I still haven’t opened the expansion and this game has a sort of addictive quality, so I guess we will be playing it again. I like it though I share Yehuda’s thoughts that the goals part are not quite right. Or, maybe we have not quite got used to the possibilities. Anyway, well done Yehuda for the win.

Sheer got his revenge by crushing us all at 7 Wonders. With four players it went quite quickly, and the ease of play was a nice gentle end to the evening.  Well done, Sheer. This is another game for which expansions are waiting in the sidelines. So, we will surely be playing this again.

Thanks to Laurie for hosting, and to everyone for a good night of gaming entertainment.

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From the suburbs to outer space

Do you wanna live in my town?

Do you wanna live in my town?

Suburbia had another outing at this week’s session, with Yehuda coaching Ken, Laurie, and Susan on how to play. It’s not a difficult game, mechanically, but the consequences and impacts of each tile played can take a while to assimilate. And, if players think about it, this can result in analysis paralysis. From my nearby perch, I did see one or two instances of this, but not too many. And the two hour playing time (including explanations) was reasonable for a mostly first time outing.

The action heated up near the end, with enough verbal and visual evidence available to confirm people were enjoying themselves – a mix of joy, frustration, and post game talk of “If only…”  while thinking up strategies for the next game. It looked like it was a good gameing experience and all were willing to give it another go. (And I still have the expansion, unwrapped.) Oh, and Ken won. Well done, Ken.

A card, a card! My kingdom for a card!

A card, a card! My kingdom for a card!

Meanwhile Peleg and I completed a couple of games of Netrunner. He was the Runner and I was the Corporation. We were both a bit rules rusty, but eventually got into our stride.

Who shuffled these?

Who shuffled these?

After that, Peleg and I still had time for me to introduce him to Star Realms. I did a good job because he got his revenge for his losses in Netrunner, by absolutely squashing me! Well done, Peleg.

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Wonders of suburbia

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To get back into the swing of regular gaming sessions was a great feeling. And it was a good session with one old and one new game on the table.

The old favorite – well, for everyone except Peleg – was 7 Wonders. The other players were Yehuda, Saarya, and Sheer.

Peleg was easily the best with the blue victory points, but he had not very much anywhere else and wasn’t surprised to avoid being in contention. Saarya did well with his military points, but again needed something from one of the other VP areas. Sheer and Yehuda were competing for the green victory points and both did well, with Yehuda slightly ahead there. Sheer’s military power was better, though. To my delight, I had managed to build up a nice spread of victory points across various color groups, and that was enough to give me the win.

Yehuda and Sheer stayed for our first game of Suburbia. The theme is city building (it is a tile laying game) and essentially you are trying to use the interactive features of each tile to create an economic engine that generates income, reputation, and a growing population. You need money to buy tiles to add to your borough. Your reputation determines how quickly your population grows. The player with the highest population at the end wins.

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You track each player’s population on a scoring track that has a series of red lines. Each time you cross a red line – going in the right direction, upwards – your income and reputation go down by one. So you are constantly having to regenerate income and reputation.

Each player has a secret goal. For example, to have the most blue tiles in the borough, or the least green tiles. (There are 20 on the game and each player receives 2 at the start, choosing one to keep.) Yehuda did not like the “fewest” goals, but I thought they added a tactical twist. There are also public goals. Each goal, if solely attained, generates 10-20 extra population and so these are crucial.

It all makes for a challenging game.

Yehuda is excellent at these engine type games and he shot off to an early lead, concentrating on income, then switching to a concentration on growing the population.

moneys

I cottoned on too late, and although I managed to eventually overhaul Yehuda’s population figure, the various bonuses at the end of the game gave him the win. Sheer seemed more intent on trying things out than maximizing his score. I think he was enjoying the combinations, but not the scoring. He made a late run, but it was not enough.

I enjoyed the game, as did the others, and expect we will play it again.

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