When the cards fall right

In this week’s session, I hosted John, Sheer, and Yehuda.

We started with an extended session of Tichu. This is a trick taking partnership game. It uses a special deck of cards consisting of the usual 52 members, plus four extras with different abilities. Instead of the more usual trick taking of playing a card at a time, here the tricks can be – according to the first type of combination led – the best pair, triple, run of five, and so on. You score points for the cards you have at the end of each round of play which is when only one player has cards left. You have the ability to beef up your score by going out (ie having no cards left) first, and by declaring your intention to be first, and so on.

Sheer and I lined up as a partnership against Yehuda and John. The lead swung about a bit until we were around the 500 mark. Then a couple of declarations by Yehuda and John saw them reach the 1,000 point winning line.

i don’t particularly like the game because of the luck element. Unlike Bridge, for example, this is all or nothing. You are either out of cards, or you are not. So, what you are dealt makes a material difference. The one time I was dealt good cards, I went out first. Easy! I dare say skillful (and practiced) players like Yehuda play much better than novices like me (and Sheer and John), but I think there’s more skill in playing the classic Whist variants like O Hell! In short, it’s an OK filler game, but anything more than that is not for me.

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Next up was Among the Stars. This is a variation on the 7 Wonders type of game, here themed as building a space station. We played the basic game which has very little player interaction, but allowed us to get familiar with the cards. This will help when we add in the alien races, the goals, the challenges, and the other juicy add ons.

John and Sheer were the early leaders. I caught up and took the lead around the end of round two (out of four). But after that, I slipped back, with everyone else overtaking me. Yehuda’s long term VPs – the special ones you only score at the end of the game, gave him the win. Short, sharp, easy. I am looking forward to playing the more meaty version.

Thanks to my three guests for making a good night of it, again.

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That will teach you!

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

Back into action after a few weeks off for various reasons, we had a two table adventure.

Azriel, Ken, Yehuda, and I started on one table with Nefarious. Laura, Laurie, and Rosalyn were drawn into the world of Thunderbore Thunderstone Advance. Without further ado, over to Laurie:

“The glowing swords were handed out upon entrance to the men in the scouting party, alas when they sited the new Thunderstone Advance laid on the table, they quickly begged off to a men-only table for games about science, art and Tichu.

The trio of women gamers dared to battle the dragons and venture into dungeon after dungeon valiantly.

Laurie had played it twice since the game arrived with relatives from the UK last week, and set up the Tower of Contempt scenario, full of fire, for this evening’s game. It was a first play for Laura and Rosalyn, who both caught on and enjoyed the game.

Rosalyn captured a handful of the highest-point monsters and Laura took on monster after monster, round after round. All players spent many a round with this version’s new “prepare” action and to use swords and heroes to best advantage. After 4 hours of rule explanations, conversation and game play, the Thundersone Bearer turned up as the third to last card in the deck. Laurie slayed the most monsters for 68 points and Laura took home 38 points and Rosalyn 34.”

Meantime, in a couple of games of Nefarious – a nifty worker placement and card game by the designer of the addictive Dominion – both Ken and Yehuda claimed a win apiece. The theme is mad scientists and inventions.

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One of the notable aspects of the game is that there is a separate deck of twists (I think they are called) from which 2 are drawn for every game. Each of the twists tweaks the game rules, making each game a different experience and forcing the players to develop new strategies. For example, one twist gave a bonus victory point for each 5 money held. Another penalized each player every time he carried out an “invent” action. It was quick and easy and fun.

After that we went on to Tichu, a classic trick taking card game that I have never played before. It uses a standard deck plus four special cards.

Yehuda showed me how to play. Ken showed me how to win. As Ken and I played as a partnership against Yehuda and Azriel, I was happy about that!

It’s a perfect family game with a high skill factor, and plenty of opportunity for missed opportunities. I definitely want to play that again so I can get some more practice at understanding the special cards.

A good night was had by one and all.

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