Session Report – 16 August 2011

Abraham hosted this session which was, for me, a welcome diversion from packing up my games. (Aside: why do bloody games companies use so many different sizes of box?) As a pleasant surprise, new Ra’anana resident (and ace gamer and game designer) Yehuda was attending. (His arrival is timely given I am going to be temporarily resident in Netanya!)

We started off with Container. Abraham must have brought this game round about three or four times, but it was only a home venue that saw us actually play it. It was either that or Dominant Species, and I had plans to go to go work the next day, rather than finish a session of that monster.

Container puts the players in the roles of business owners trying to generate a profit. The game involves buying factories and producing goods, buying warehouses and buying goods, shipping goods (in a nice model container) and selling them. Lots of economic activity.

The goods come in five varieties, and to add spice to the scoring, each player gets a secretly dealt card which determines how much he is paid for the goods on his island at the end of the game. Strange rule warning: you must remove the goods you have the most of at the end of the game. It means you don’t want to collect the most of your most valuable good. Hmm.

I got one rule wrong – there was a limit on loans – which clobbered my strategy. I took in cash but spent it. I was last. Abraham and Peleg were competing for the lead with Yehuda, but in the end Yehuda squeezed ahead of them, just ahead of Peleg, then Abraham. Yehuda seems to have a deadly eye for economic games, and he pitched his strategy just right. Impressive.

There are some nice wrinkles in the game, but also some strange aspects. For example, you produce goods and pay your right hand neighbour. (This is described as ‘rent’ in the rules, I think.) Also, you cannot take your own goods to the warehouse and have them bought. You must buy someone else’s. Lastly, goods brought to the island are auctioned. If the ship owner doesn’t like the winning bid – bids are ‘blind’ – he can pay the price and take them for himself. But if he accepts the bid, he not only gets the bid but gets the same amount as a bonus from the bank. More hmmmm.

These systems won’t stop me playing the game again, but they tend to detract from the flow of the play. Maybe it will feel differently the next time and I don’t get done in by the bank!

Next we played a new game from Russia whose name I do not know. It involved tons of luck and no real skill. You have a cross shape of five cards in front of you with symbols. If you can match a row of symbols, you get a token. Seven tokens wins you the game. When you play to your cross formation, the card you play on top of, goes to your left hand neighbour’s cross formation. So, basically, you screw up the player to your left, while the player to your right is trying to do the same to you. As I said, lots of luck. A bit dry. I won. (It cannot be a game of skill…)