BKOA Games Night

Saved for another occasion

With the help of Peleg and Sheer, I hosted a games night for Beit Knesset Ohel Ari. I had no idea what the response would be, and while I would always prefer more people to come along and play games, those who did come appeared to have a good time. (I am open to correction, folks…)

“This is a game of survival!”

We started things rolling with The Walking Dead to get everyone into the mood. After counting up the bullets we had one survivor: Helena. A fine win to start the session.

After that we split into smaller groups.

Splendid action with Splendor

Sheer hosted Shelley and Stuart and Rosalynn. He led them through one game of Splendor (won by Rosalynn) and then Reibach and Co (won by Sheer).

This was a well fought game

Peleg hosted Emma, Naomi, Azriel, and Nechamia. He led his merry crew through Ticket to Ride Europe. Although Peleg won on points, we awarded the win to Naomi because it felt right. Emma picked up a prize for – I think – trying to complete the longest route in a five player game of Ticket to Ride, a tough, tough challenge.

Decisions, decisions

Meantime, I hosted Richard, Laurie, and Helena. At this table we played Alhambra. We had a bonus because Richard was able to give us some of the secret Jewish history of the real Alhambra. Absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately, I won according to the rules of the game, but I awarded the prize to Laurie.

Some happy prizewinners

That was it. Good fun (I hope) and a chance to spread the word: playing games is great!

Build that wall!


No, not a political commentary, a game session report…

This week, while Sheer fought the traffic, Azriel, Peleg, Rosalynn and I warmed up with a game of Dominion: Intrigue and Alchemy. One of the cards – Masquerade? – generated curses, and these made for a slow middle game. Azriel kept plugging away at his Golem cards, and Rosalynn had a useful combination too, so both of them scored well. Peleg was put off his stride by Sheer arriving, and the pair of them combined to achieve the lowest score I have ever seen in such a game: eleven points. Considering they started with three, and I gave them three – it’s a long story- that’s bad. Real bad. I guess it shows that too many cooks do spoil the broth. Oh, and I won. (Tee hee.)

Sheer got his revenge when we switched to Alhambra, a game tasking you with building a palace, where the length of your palace wall is as important as the gardens and buildings within the palace. He won. I had a dreadful start, but recovered well enough to finish up second, the others just behind me. It was a first time outing for Azriel, and he usually wins, but not this time. Rosalynn seemed to have a good start, but then got caught with the wrong cards at the wrong time, and she was not able to buy enough. Peleg had also done well, but seemed to lose ground in the third phase, and the game definitely ended at the worst time for him.

Thanks to all who came. Great fun.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Castle


This week, Nechamiah, Peleg, Rosalynn, and Sheer joined me, and we played one familiar and one less familiar game, and a final session with Mad King Ludwig.

First up was the familiar Alhambra. Everyone had played it before, and everyone was comfortable with the rules and the game play. We fairly rattled through it. The scoring was such that we were all within reach of the win, but my last round combination of a huge wall and a majority in the purple buildings, sent me into the winner’s slot. What was interesting was how much the dynamic of the game changes with five players as opposed to four. It goes faster, and so you need to have a flexible plan when it comes to buying tiles, because someone else is more likely to buy them first!

Next up was Through the Desert, an area control game. I was the only one who had played it before. That did not stop Peleg explaining an important setup rule I missed out. Well done, Peleg!  Again, this game went quickly, with Peleg, Nechamiah, and Rosalynn battling it out ferociously – for last place – and Sheer rather quietly just stacking up points for the win. Well done, Sheer.

Nechamiah and Rosalynn departed, leaving Sheer to explain to Peleg and I the well received Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

It’s worth quoting from Boardgamegeek to get the flavor of the game:

“In the tile-laying game Castles of Mad King Ludwig, players are tasked with building an amazing, extravagant castle for King Ludwig II of Bavaria…one room at a time. You see, the King loves castles, having built Neuschwanstein (the castle that inspired the Disney theme park castles) and others, but now he’s commissioned you to build the biggest, best castle ever — subject, of course, to his ever-changing whims. Each player acts as a building contractor who is adding rooms to the castle he’s building while also selling his services to other players.

In the game, each player starts with a simple foyer. One player takes on the role of the Master Builder, and that player sets prices for a set of rooms that can be purchased by the other players, with him getting to pick from the leftovers after the other players have paid him for their rooms. When a room is added to a castle, the player who built it gains castle points based on the size and type of room constructed, as well as bonus points based on the location of the room. When a room is completed, with all entranceways leading to other rooms in the castle, the player receives one of seven special rewards.

After each purchasing round, a new player becomes the Master Builder who sets prices for a new set of rooms. After several rounds, the game ends, then additional points are awarded for achieving bonus goals, having the most popular rooms, and being the most responsive to the King’s demands, which change each game. Whoever ends up with the most castle points wins.”

It’s one of those games where prior experience is a big advantage, and Sheer’s superior game play on top of that experience was way too good for Peleg and me. But we all enjoyed it, and a session like this was a great primer in learning the rules, and some tricks and traps so that next time we can play it to a better level and give Sheer more of a run for his money. Well, that’s the plan anyway!

Thanks to all who came and helped make the night enjoyable again.


Winning walls


This week’s session saw Nechamiah, Rosalynn, and Sheer join me for two classic games and a heap of fun.

First up was Alhambra, the game where you try and build a structure that has a long wall, and a majority of the different types of building. I was the only one who had played it before, so it was no surprise that by the time the first round of scoring came around (there are three) I was in the lead. At that point, as we used to say back in the Old Land, the penny dropped for the others, and I was demoted to last place. Nechamiah and Rosalynn improved their building decisions, and rapidly upped their score. Unfortunately for them, Sheer was a tad better, and so he was the eventual winner. Everyone liked the game, tending to confirm its status as a classic worthy of repeated play.

Next was San Juan, a smart card management game. Again, I was the only one who had played it before, but that was absolutely no use whatsoever to me, and I finished well out of the reckoning. Rosalynn and Nechamiah did quite well, but winner Sheer did better. The game was well received, with people keen to try it for a second time, having properly assimilated what was required for success. I would expect subsequent games to be closer contests. I might even get a respectable score…

Thanks to the visitors for making my night.

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.




Shavuah Tov, everyone!

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

The game in Spain

This week I weclomed Amiram, John, and Peleg for a two game session.

We started with Alhambra.

alhambra2Peleg and I had played this before, so I did a quick rules introduction for John and Amiram. Peleg kindly filled in the blanks in Hebrew for Amiram, then off we jolly well went.

Alhambra can be a cruel game. You can see the buildings you want to buy. You can see the money you want to draw. But the players who go before you may take what you want. Damn! It’s one game where advance planning is often scuppered, but it doesn’t slow down play that much.

Amiram and John picked up the game well. But Peleg was the winner with a great start that he built on.  I was well behind until the very last scoring, at which point I just about avoided coming in last place. Just about…

Next up, Dominion.

All except Amiram had played this before, so to speed up things Peleg did the rules explanation while I did the setup, helped by John.

The only attack card was the Bureaucrat, and the only card giving extra actions was the Market. So, it took people a while to build up decent combinations. Most of us tried to accumulate money, and that worked reasonably.

John came close a couple of times with a buying power of 7 (you need 8 for the big VPs) and that really hurt.

Peleg’s combinations never got him enough buying power, though he did try a variety of them.

This is a tricky game for novices, but Amiram did fine, and I think finished in runner up spot.

Unfortunately for everyone else, I did very well with enough luck and money at the right times to grab the big VPs, and I claimed the win.

Thanks to all who came for another fun night.