A night with Andreas

Last week’s session saw Azriel, Rosalynn, Sheer, and me have a night of two games by Andreas Seyfarth. Both are classics, of some age, but still endure.

First up was the meaty challenge that is Puerto Rico. To give you an idea of how seriously some people play this, the Puerto Rico sessions at the World Boardgame Championships used to record the players’ moves. Frightening. I don’t think any of us are likely to be in the finals of that event for a while. Anyway, off we jolly well went, and had an engrossing game that ended – surprisingly – in two ways.

The first, and biggest, surprise was that I won. The second surprise was that Sheer later confessed he hated the game. I should have taken the hint when he asked for several rules explanations, though he had played it many times. He really must hate it to have so emptied his excellent gamer’s brain of the Puerto Rico basics. I promise, Sheer, we won’t play that one again! Rosalynn and Azriel had decent scores, but just couldn’t get enough points to claim the win.

Second was Andreas very cut down card game version of Puerto Rico, San Juan. Funnily enough, Sheer likes this game, and he did pretty well. Unfortunately for him, Rosalynn did better, and claimed a memorable win. It was memorable for me, because I so badly played the opening rounds that I was doomed to finish last from then, and knew it. But I smiled sweetly as we played and played and played until we got to the end. Azriel’s got a good handle on the game, but he just lost out to Sheer for the second place. I was so far back, I should have finished fifth…

Despite the San Jaun disaster, I had a great night with Andreas’ games. Thanks to Sheer for playing Puerto Rico, and to everyone for coming along.

The Governor will see you now


This week, Nechamiah, Peleg, Rosalynn, and Sheer joined me for a two game session.

We started with a warm up by way of R:Eco, a card (hand management) game built on a recycling theme. Sheer and Peleg were the contyenders in this one, with Sheer pulling ahead in the last couple of rounds for the win.

It did the job, making us flex our gaming muscles before the main event.

And what a main event it was. We played Puerto Rico, which all of us except Nechamiah had played before. However, he had played San Juan, so was well versed in some of the basics, and he quickly assimilated the rest.  (I was especially impressed by how quickly he got to grips with the different building powers. This was unusually so for a first time player.)

One challenging aspect of Puerto Rico, especially with five players, is that the choices other players make can well and truly sink your bid for victory.

For example, there were several occasions when Peleg lost out because somebody else chose the Craftsman role (to produce goods) in a way that left him short of goods. As another example, there were also several occasions when I lost out, because somebody else chose the Captain role (to ship goods and claim VPs) that scuppered my plans to sell the goods for lots of money. Finally, there were occasions when Sheer lost out, though in his case it was for several different reasons. His usual high level of playing skill just was not delivering the goods, as it were.

You will notice that in the preceding narrative about people losing out, I have omitted Nechamiah and Rosalynn. That’s because, on the whole, they brilliantly avoided being adversely affected by the play going on around them. That translated to a fine second place finish by Nechamiah, and a smashing, crushing win by Rosalynn. Quite an impressive result. Well done to Rosalynn. And commiserations to the rest of us!

Another good night of gaming. Thanks to all who came to help make it so.

Board adventures

Eilat, Laurie, Roy, and Yehuda joined Susan and me for this week’s regular gaming session during which we managed  to complete games of 7 Wonders and Puerto Rico.

First up: 7 Wonders. Everyone had played this before, though it had been a while for Eilat and Roy. It was quite a tight game, primarily because Laurie sacrificed her own position when she saw Yehuda threatening to stream ahead. That allowed me to match Yehuda’s score for a rare – in this game – tie. The rest were just a little bit behind.

Susan dropped out to catch up on some essential TV viewing, leaving five of us to tackle Yehuda’s favorite game: Peurto Rico. Again, everyone was familiar with the game, so we had no excuses for losing. Yehuda proceeded to pound us into the ground with a masterly display of skill at the game. He finished so far ahead, it would have taken two of us to add our scores together to match his. What’s heartening to me is that this is a game that I have had little or no success playing, but still enjoy. It’s just got something that makes it a pleasure. Even when being slaughtered.

A good night. Thanks to everyone who came along.

Session report bonus

Here is Yehuda‘s follow up to the earlier session report:

Puerto Rico: both Ben and Amir played well from the start, with only a few moves that I suggested or tried to explain what would happen. I made the mistake – again- of trying to play without a trade good (tobacco or coffee), trying to survive only on Factory and Harbor.

Meanwhile, Amir had a tobacco monopoly and Ben had a coffee monopoly. Both of them had no trouble trading them for much cash and blocking boats at certain points. Amir handed Ben one trade too many, and they both ended up with 2 big buildings to my one. Shipping stalled near the end of the game, which favored the builders. Ben had 52 points, Amir 48, and me 36.

Given Yehuda’s expertise in the game, Ben’s win is noteworthy, as is Amir’s finishing ahead of Yehuda!

Dominion: I bought two early Shanty Towns which did me absolutely no good. Ben’s Moneylenders worked much quicker for him, and he was three Provinces up before I started making any headway. Amir gained 1 Province and I started taking multiple Duchies and finally some Provinces, but couldn’t catch up to Ben (almost). Ben won with 48, I had 43, and Amir had 24 or so.

Thank you, Yehuda.

Bang, bang, bang for Ben


After an illness induced absence, it was great to get back to a game session with some of the usual crowd. Before the latecomers staggered in, Amir, Susan, Yehuda and I played a very light, filler game – Formula Motor Racing – which Yehuda doubled on by both hating it and winning it…

With the crew finally assembled, watered, and fed, we split into a threesome (Amir, Ben and Yehuda) playing Puerto Rico and a foursome (David, Laurie, Susan and me) playing Ticket to Ride – Marklin Edition.

All I can tell you about the Puerto Rico game is that Ben – despite totally misunderstanding one of the rules – won. Bang!

That trio moved on to Dominion. Again, being at the far end of the table, my knowledge is limited to that of Ben’s second win. Bang!

The Marklin version of Ticket to Ride has passengers, an extra scoring mechanism. We all developed our own potential scoring routes.

My mistake was going for too many small builds, and allowing Susan to cut me off from Austria. David couldn’t make his mind up about whether to compete with Laurie for the big points available in Berlin. Oh, and he misread one of his tickets. He will really want a second chance to play this. Laurie was doing well, and out in front. She got most of what was on offer in Berlin, and built nice long routes. Laurie was in the lead, and looked good. Susan was her closest competitor.

However, when it came to the final scoring, Susan produced an incredible seven completed tickets for well over a hundred extra points to add to her already hundred plus score. She won by such a huge margin that “won” doesn’t do it justice. She crushed us!

Susan and Yehuda dropped out, leaving Amir, Ben, David, Laurie, and me to finish the night with a game of 7 Wonders.

I started with lots of blue victory points and they kept coming. Amir and David had a good mix, but were both missing a decent Guild card to boost their scores. Laurie, in the last round or two, pulled out a great green and purple combination that served her very well. However, Ben, using his special power to pick one card from the discards, chose one that gave him the win by four. When I reviewed the scores, it was noticeable how close they were. By my reckoning, each of the other players was only one card away from a winning score, so it was a tight, tight, competition. But still, it was also another win for Ben. Bang!

So three wins on the night for Ben, and another for Susan. I am seeking employment as a spectator…

Good stuff, though. I cannot wait for next week.

Man the wharf


Amir and I started this week’s session by setting up a two player game – Flux. As we were about to start, Yehuda and Laurie arrived, so we switched to San Juan. As we were about to start that, Rochelle arrived, so we switched to Puerto Rico, and we played it!

Neither Rochelle nor Amir had played Puerto Rico before, so Yehuda did his usual excellent explanation of the rules. Matters were helped by printouts I had of the various buildings; that saved quite a bit of time during the game.

This is one of the games I like, but cannot play well to save myself. Nothing changed. I did manage to stop Yehuda from his usual quarry monopoly, but found I could do nothing with them. And he clobbered my indigo production by always seeming to be able to ship or trade ahead of me. Yes, he knows the game well.

Three indigo, three quarries, and not much else

My three indigo, three quarries, and not much else!

Laurie doesn’t really like it, but plays it better than me. She managed quite a good spread of options, but in my flawed opinion, too often chose the craftsman option when it was to other players’ benefit more than her. Rochelle’s first time performance was not bad at all. And she enjoyed it, despite the layered complexity.

As said above, Yehuda is a master at this game. So, not only was he the favorite, but his stack of points and buildings looked to have given him the win. He had grabbed a factory, a wharf, and one of the big VP bonus buildings, so looked totally in control.

However, Amir has a habit of winning games that he is introduced to. And he had also nabbed a factory, a wharf, and a big VP bonus building. Indeed, when it came to the final VP count, Amir had secured the win, just ahead of Yehuda, ahead of Laurie, Rochelle, then me. Well done, Amir.

Thanks to everyone who came for providing another fine night of gaming. Here’s to more of the same in 2014!

The magnificent seven

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

Guess how many were at this week’s session? (Sorry. No prize for the right answer.)

Before everyone arrived, Peleg, Yehuda, and I played Geschenkt (aka No Thanks!). Fun, fast, light, and a win for me. Hooray!

Then the seven were a four and a three. (I’m a dab hand at arithmetic.)

The fab four – Laurie, Peleg, Rosalynn, and Yehuda – tackled Puerto Rico. All except Peleg had played it before, but I rather fancied him to enjoy it. One key skill in the game is deciding what role to take when it’s your turn, and that is an opportunity to damage to your opponents. However, it didn’t connect with Peleg and he struggled a bit. A shame. Laurie seemed to be doing well, and Rosalynn was certainly enjoying herself as she had worked out how to get a nice production line going. Inevitably though, master gamer Yehuda won. Well done, Yehuda.

Meanwhile, the terrific trio – Judy, Shuli, and I – played Ticket to Ride: Europe. It was a first time experience for Judy and her route planning was less than successful. But, she did revel in blocking me in the later stages of the game, so I suspect any replay would be a different situation completely. Shuli completed her routes, but wasn’t ambitious enough, so her scoring was hampered. Regrettably, this was a situation where my extensive experience of playing the game was enough to give me a win.

After some retirals, the last game was Ticket to Ride: Nordic. This was a chance for revenge which Peleg grabbed with both hands, racking up a fine win. Well done, Peleg.

Thanks to me for hosting!

Shabbat gaming

Over Shabbat Ken hosted a game session with him, his son Oren, Rosalynn and me. We played Puerto Rico and Smallworld: Underground.

Puerto Rico was new to Rosalynn. I told her just to do everything I instructed her to do and she would be fine. The smart lady ignored me. She picked up the game very quickly and built up a good score; more than respectable for a first outing. Ken and Oren fought it out for the win, with Ken just getting the decision. I was in last place, but claimed a moral victory for causing the game end before the margin of defeat got worse!

I got my revenge in Smallworld: Underground. (Hee, hee!) I had played the original Smallworld (once) so had an understanding of the rules. However, the races and powers are all different so it wasn’t much of an advantage. (Damn!)  Rosalynn suffered by holding on too long to her first creature race. Ken and Oren had done well, but hadn’t scored well enough in the early rounds to trouble me. But Oren did very well, and I dare say he and Ken will relish a return match.

Thanks for hosting, Ken.