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.

Backing the wrong monster

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



This week’s session consisted of a meaty game of Hansa Teutonica, and the less substantial Titan: The Arena.

Of the four players, only Rochelle had not played Hansa Tetonica before. (Laurie was glad of this because it meant Yehuda performed a rules presentation, and she received a refresher on how to play!) I cheekily suggested she not worry, and simply mimic whatever Yehuda did. Wisely, she ignored my instructions.

Yehuda and Laurie cornered the market of the big on board bonuses, helped by a stupid move by me, whereas Rochelle went for a chain of cities to form her scoring strategy. When the game finished, to my surprise, my chain of cities was just enough to give me the win ahead of Rochelle and Yehuda. Laurie’s latest strategy did not work as well as she would have liked…

So, on to one of my favorite filler games, namely Titan: The Arena. it’s a Knizia designed card game with players competing to back mythical monsters with individual powers as they fight a five round elimination contest. It’s fair to say that while Laurie won this, just ahead of me, it was not a popular game. Yehuda really did not like it. This may have been, at least partly, because his creatures were all eliminated before the final round. Rochelle hated it at first, and then warmed to just disliking it… I guess we won’t be playing that again. (Yes, I enjoyed it.)

Thanks to Laurie for the pictures.

And the winner is...

And the winner is…