Entering the arena

Avri, Azriel, Efrat, Rosalynn, and Sheer joined me for this week’s regular gaming session. Surprisingly, Mr Prompt (aka Sheer) was last to arrive, and late, so a group decision was made to kick off with Between Two Cities. I’m not sure if there was a connection, but another rarity occurred: Sheer finished in last place. Who won? Glad you asked. I did. Sort of. Actually, it was a tie between Azriel and me, but for some strange, illogical, unfair, and prejudicial tie breaking rule, Azriel won. So, I sort of won, but Azriel really won.

So far as the game play itself is concerned, there was a quick rules briefing required for some, but once started the play was straightforward. The different scoring for different types of tiles is neat, and although there is some considerable luck, there is more skill than may at first appear. I like it well enough to keep playing it.

We then moved on to 7 Wonders.

  • Efrat had never played it before, and – inevitably – struggled. She hung on like a trouper, however, and kept fighting for every last point until the bitter end.
  • Rosalynn cornered the science cards and amassed a might 40 points in that category alone. Unfortunately, there was little else on her scoreboard.
  • Avri went for a military win, did well enough with that and finance, but otherwise made little impact.
  • Sheer added to his military prowess with some blue and yellow cards, doing well enough to finish 3rd.
  • Azriel scored well in the final rounds, picking up some decent guild cards, and important sets of science cards. He was 2nd.
  • My blue card strategy turned out to be a winner. A couple of guild cards in the closing rounds made sure of victory.

Rosalynn went off for an early night, and the five remaining tackled Titan the Arena, a classic Reiner Knizia design.

The game is built on the theme of monsters fighting in an arena, with one eliminated each round. You start with eight, and stop when three are left standing. Each monster has a special power (extra draw, extra discard, swap cards, and do on) but you can only use the power if you play a card of that type, and you control the monster. Control is determined by the strength of your bets. You have poker chips to signal your bets, and each round the value of your bet is decreased. There is also a maximum of one secret bet per player which is tricky. It’s valuable if it survives, but at the outset it is a guess, really, of who will survive no matter the cards in your hand.

All were new to this except me, so I explained the rules and led by example, making a suicidal secret bet, and then desperately trying for some respectability. Let it be said that there was a lot of backstabbing in this game, and some of it even had a point…

Avri put me out of the reckoning, then Azriel, Sheer, and Efrat got in a tangle. I stayed clear, but still finished last. Most others were huddled above me in the ‘respectable score’ region, with Efrat a clear winner. Good, clean fun.

Thanks to all who came. It was fun.

The Magnificent Seven

This week we were seven. (You would never have guessed, if I hadn’t told you, would you?) Azriel, Nechemiah, Laurie, Peleg, Rosalynn, and Sheer were in attendance, with Nechemiah slightly delayed by an over long commute that seemed to go on and on. So we started with six and a game of the excellent 7 Wonders.

It is a different game – still very much enjoyable – with that number, but I always take too long to adopt to the change in pace and scoring opportunities. Unsurprisingly, I was in contention right from the start – for the wooden spoon. I won it, easily. Peleg (who dislikes the game, but bravely plays it without complaint) beat me by a fair bit. Rosalynn (64 points), Laurie (66 points), and Azriel (68 points) were right up there, but just could not keep up with Sheer’s pace, and he won (78 points) with a combination of a big military and big guild score. Rosalynn deserved some kind of consolation, as she scored a whopping 54 points just from the science cards. Wow.

After that, Nechemiah joined in, and we split four and three. Nechemiah, Rosalynn, Sheer, and Peleg played the classic Acquire. Sheer won that. They followed it up with R-Eco, with Rosalynn getting her revenge.

The pack is about to be broken by Mr Blue and Mr Blue.

Meantime, Laurie, Azriel, and I played the newcomer Flamme Rouge, a light bike racing game with cool cards and pieces, giving each player two riders to get round the track. Laurie won that. However, although the game only awards a win to first past the post, using a house scoring system, Azriel would have tied for most points over the first four finishing. My racers were fifth and sixth…

Susan made us into a foursome, and then we played Dominion which I managed to win, so some consolation.

Another terrific night.

Eighth Wonder

7 wonders box top

This week’s session started off with Azriel, Rosalynn, Peleg, and Sheer joining Susan and me for a game of Resistance. Then, with the box top opened, the players decided they didn’t want to play that, but instead wanted to play 7 Wonders. So, 7 Wonders it was. And Resistance went back into the box. Somebody spare a thought for poor Resistance’s feelings…

In the game, Azriel’s combined military and blue building strategy was good, but not good enough. Peleg got off to an awful start, but ramped up when the guilds came out, and did quite well. But not well enough. Susan crushed everyone in the blue buildings category, but only that category. Otherwise, almost no points. Not enough points. Sheer’s approach was hard to work out. His score, consequently, reflected that. Shame. My blue buildings and guilds worked reasonably well. But not well enough. Rosalynn creamed us all. She cornered the market in green cards, and that alone was a top rated score. The extra bits and pieces she picked up elsewhere confirmed her as the deserved winner. Azriel was close behind. Nobody else was…

After that, Peleg and Sheer went one on one in Hero Realms. I think they finished a couple of games with one win each.

Azriel, Rosalynn, Sheer and I played a couple of games of Dominion: Intrigue mixed with Dominion: Alchemy. Azriel got his revenge with a win in the first game. I managed to win the second, despite the appearance of the dreaded (hated) Possession card.

And then it was time for bed.

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

Secret Service Agents!

This week’s session started off with Azriel, Nechamiah, Rosalynn, and Sheer joining me. While Peleg fought the Tel Aviv traffic, I introduced everyone to the excellent filler game Coloretto. It’s a light game with more luck than skill, though that should not take anything away from Nechamiah’s fine win.

With Peleg finally in the house, we played 7 Wonders with the Leaders expansion. It took a while to set up while everyone tried to get familiar with the new cards and options. Rosalynn went for a military strategy, but her neighbor Peleg had a nasty power that made him immune from the worst effects of that. Sheer’s was a science strategy, as he tried to gobble up the decent green cards. I went for blue cards, having snagged a leader that reduced their building cost. Nechamiah and Azriel seemed to be trying to spread their scoring options.

About halfway through, Rosalynn expressed some frustration with her progress, claiming not to understand what was going on. With a very short timeout for a fresh explanation, she returned to the fray as play resumed. Then, surprise, surprise, when it came to totaling the victory points, Rosalynn was the winner! That military strategy had been put to good use. However, it was a dandy set of guild cards that gave her a hefty contribution to her winning score. She got those combinations just right. Peleg and I were in the bottom end of the scoring, with Azriel, Nechamiah, and Sheer just a little bit behind Rosalynn. Well done, Rosalynn!

There was time left for a team game: Codenames. We split into two teams of three, and had a three round run at this fun word game. It has a simple, but brilliant, core mechanism, tacked on to a theme of trying to identify secret agents from a pool of agents, civilians, and a deadly assassin. A great way to finish the night.

Thanks to all who came to help make the night such fun.

“The train on platform one…”


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.

Back to Skye


First, an apology. In the last session report (here) I forgot to mention that we played The Walking Dead Card Game, and Peleg was the winner. He is handy with zombies is Peleg! There are people who say the game is all luck, but not me. I say it is a game of great skill, with a mix of psychology as you try and work out what the other players are likely to do, mixed in with some card counting, and fine judgement. It’s a really simple, but engrossing game. In my opinion.

So, this week I was joined by Azriel, Joseph, Nechamiah, Peleg, Roslynn, and Sheer.

We started with old favorite 7 Wonders, with everyone playing it, some for the first time. This game has a completely different feel when it is a seven player encounter, from when it is four or five. I sort of worked out what was necessary to keep in contention, but Sheer, Roslynn, and Joseph were doing better than me. However, in what is becoming something of a habit, first time player Azriel was the winner. He managed this despite that close competition, and occasionally pretending he wasn’t doing well. He did brilliantly. Well done Azriel!

Then we split into a five player session of Isle of Skye, which Sheer ran very successfully. So successfully that he won! Well done Sheer. That game continued to be well received, and it may well get some more exposure.

At the same time, Peleg and I had a win apiece at 7 Wonders: Duel.

Finally, after Peleg retired early, the remaining six played The Walking Dead Card Game. You know, that highly skillful game.. Funnily enough, I won that…

Another good night. Thanks to my guests for making it such fun.

The seven wonders of Acquire

For last week’s session, I was joined by Amiram, John, Peleg, and Sheer.

We started with a standard game of 7 Wonders (this being Amiram’s first try at the game). It was cool for me to listen to Sheer (helped by Peleg) doing the rules explanation in Hebrew. Much better than my Hebrew explanation would have been. And much, much, shorter…

7 Wonders is one of those games where the first time player has too many decisions to make that can sink him. However, Amiram paid careful attention to what was going on around him, and with some helpful advice, did commendably well. In fact, Amiram, Sheer, and Peleg all ended up on the same 47 points.  I did better by a solitary point, but John was a couple ahead and so won the first game of the night.


Next up, Acquire. This turned into a real slogging match with the lead looking as if it was changing every couple of turns. First me, then Sheer, then John, with Peleg and Amiram holding off in the background. However, eventually the lie of the tiles sunk us all except John who could claim a clean sweep of the honors on the night. Sheer was in second spot, and the rest of us were lagging well behind.

Two great games that we are sure to play again. Thanks to all who came for making the evening.

Three in a row


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.

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.

Wonders of suburbia


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.


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.


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.