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.


You play games?


A casual conversation by Sarah-Lee with some of her friends produced the radical revelation: they played games. Some more than others, but they played. And so, this week’s gaming session featured newcomers Erez, Omri and Yoni. Sarah-Lee, Laurie, Susan, Yehuda and I made the numbers up to eight.

Yehuda, Laurie, Erez and Yoni played Lords of Waterdeep. Yehuda was the only one who knew it, and he did his usual excellent job of explaining the rules. From what I saw from the sidelines, it looked interesting and enjoyable, and the players were all focused on the task at hand.

I think it was Erez who said he thought it had not very much to do with Dungeons and Dragons (which is what it says on the box front) but that made no difference. It was just a good game. Yehuda won, but there were smiles all round at the end.

Just out of picture, Yoni,  Erez, and Laurie watch Yehuda stab them all in the back at the same time!

Just out of picture, Yoni, Erez, and Laurie watch Yehuda stab them all in the back at the same time!

Omri, Susan, Sarah-Lee and I played Dominion first. Omri picked it up quite easily, but none of us could match Susan’s play and she won, again. Susan has an amazing winning record at this game. We really must hunt down more of the expansions.


Next the same four played Through the Desert. Again, no problem for Omri. This time I won, though just by a couple of points ahead of Sarah-Lee.

Susan dropped out and Omri, Sarah-Lee and I played R-Eco. Again, Omri did well, In fact, so well that he won!

Thus ended another great night’s gaming. Thanks to all who came.

A grand desert


This week’s regular gaming session saw Susan and I hosting Amir, Laurie and Yehuda.

First up was El Grande which only Amir hadn’t played before. Susan was a bit out of practice, but caught on as the game progressed. We played a shortened seven turn game (instead of the full 9) as the full version drags a bit, and is probably the game’s only serious weak point. The early special action cards cleared out a lot of the pieces from the board, so scores were lower than usual, and the play quite focused on a couple of key areas.

Laurie was the early leader, pursued by Yehuda and I. However, Yehuda did an excellent job of hauling Laurie back, and going in to the final couple of turns, it was quite close up front. Behind us, Amir was hanging in there with Susan, but neither looked a threat. How wrong I was.

In the final scoring, Yehuda managed to overtake Laurie. I fell behind, with Amir getting close to me. And Susan achieved a quite remarkable win, coming – apparently – out of nowhere to first place by a decent margin. Well done Susan!

We had time left to move on to the Reiner Knizia game Through the Desert. This is a game that looks more complex than it is, and also looks to take longer than it actually does. And as with many of these games, timing is crucial. If you can time your placements with good regard to when the game ends, you maximize your score. For reasons that I cannot fully explain, in this game I got it right and was the winner ahead of a reasonably close pack. It was fast, fun, and challenging. Good stuff.

Thanks to all who came, for a good night of gaming.