Games Gist

Family Gaming

Games Played on February 4, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

Today was a great family games day. We played Bohnanza (6 players), Carcassonne (6 players), Settlers of Catan (6 players), Through the Desert (5 players), and Tongiaki (6 players).

Our grandson Joel won Bohnanza, with me 2nd, our daughter Katrina and son-in-law Dan tied for 3rd, Sue was 5th, and our son Mason was 6th. Joel is simply amazing at trading cards to his best advantage. Once, early in the game, when he made a decision about harvesting vs. trading, I said, “Why would you do that?” Then, I said that I shouldn’t ask, and that was correct. Obviously, he knows what he is doing; he beat me by one gold. Our Bohnanza games play very quickly, with lots of trading going on at every player’s turn (if the player has anything at all to trade). We have begun donating cards more, to clear unwanted cards from our hands, as well as trading multiple cards for singles, to better arrange our hands and fields. We are doing much better at hand management in this game. We never buy the third field, because we do not believe it pays for itself before the end of a six-player game. We go through the deck only twice. So — we’ve played Bohnanza twice in 2006, with our 10-year-old granddaughter Natalia winning in the seven-player game, and 8-year-old Joel winning the six-player game. That is so neat!

Joel also won Carcassonne (with expansions The River, Traders and Builders, and Inns and Cathedrals). In fact, his score was over 160, and he finished 29 points ahead of Mason, who was 2nd place. I finished 3rd, because of a lot of points for my farmers, including the use of my pig. Katrina finished 4th, with Sue 5th, and Dan 6th. Joel has become an excellent Carcassonne player, sometimes sharing a city, rather than stealing it (if the person is not ahead of him or near him in score), and other times stealing a large city. What really won the game for him today was his acquisition of the trade goods – he had the majority of both barrels and wheat, and tied for the most ribbons (cloth). That may be the first time any of us managed to do that. This was only the second time Joel has won Carcassonne, playing with six players, and both victories have come in 2006, and winning the first game by an even larger margin. In fact, he’s the only one of us who has won this game so far this calendar year!

Mason won Settlers, his first game win in 2006. It’s unusual for him not to have won more games than one in the past month. It was a close game, with Mason winning with 10, Katrina and Sue tied for 2nd with 9, me in 4th with 8, Dan with 7, and Joel with 6. Joel has beaten us all at this game twice, in 2005, and I expect he will do so again. In the meantime, Mason and Dan are the usual winners, with Mason having 14 victories and Dan having 16 victories since we began playing in 2004, with the rest of us not even in that ballpark. This was our second game of Settlers in 2006, with Sue winning the first one. Sue had the Longest Road and two VP cards in today’s game, while I had the Largest Army. Mason won without either of those two-point cards and with no VP cards – strictly with settlements and cities, which was surprising to us. As usual, there were some interesting dice trends. The game was almost over before a 9 was rolled, while 11 came up about 6 times, and 3, 4, 5, and 10 were as common as 6 and 8. Twelve was rolled twice, and 2 was rolled once, which is about what would be expected. Also surprising in this game was having only a small number of rolls of 7. The robber was moved as many times or more by Soldier cards as by dice rolls.

This was our second game of Through the Desert. The first game, played last weekend, was won by Katrina, with Mason in 2nd place. Today, Sue won with 62 points, Katrina was 2nd with 60 points, I was 3rd with 58 points, Dan was 4th with 53 points, and Mason was 5th with 47 points. Mason forgot to try for longest caravan in a color, which I am sure he will not forget in the future. Although Dan and I have played this game online, we finished 3rd and 4th in both of the two games we’ve played at the table. Sue moved up from 5th place in last week’s game to 1st this week. We all really enjoy it, and it plays quickly with 5 players. The board gets pretty crowded by the time the game ends. We had only one waterhole unclaimed. I had my rider camel of one color surrounded, with only one open space where I could have played a second camel in that caravan, at the end of the game. I expect to see us playing this game fairly often.

The new game this weekend was Tongiaki. I had read the rules twice before we played, so I could explain the game. Katrina said she was getting sleepy while I was reading and demonstrating the rules, and she wasn’t very enthusiastic during the game play, but when the scores were totaled, she and Joel had tied for 1st place, with 21 points. I finished 3rd with 19, Mason was 4th with 17, Sue was 5th with 16, and Dan was 6th with 12. Even if you take the time near the end of the game (which we did not do) to add up the points it appears people will have, it is difficult to estimate who will be the winner. The last play of the game can determine the winner and change all the relative finishes. We had no idea that Katrina and Joel would finish in 1st place. As it turned out, we created no Royal Islands, but Katrina was the only person with boats on three of the islands at the end of the game. Joel finished well by having boats on lots of high-value islands. What is really amazing to me is that Joel had never seen this game until I explained the rules at the table. He asked a few questions during the game, as did virtually all of us, and he managed to tie for the win – good grief, he’s only 8 years old! What will he be doing in four or five years at these games?! It isn’t just beginner’s luck, either. He analyzes the options and usually selects what appears to be the best move. He just has a knack for learning and playing games. The game was longer than might normally be expected, with the last two tiles left to draw from being one island and one ocean, when the final ocean tile was drawn to end the game. That is as long as a game can go, having one tile left un-played. I think we all enjoyed this game, and I expect we will play it several times this year. It will be interesting to see how our game play changes, after we get a better feel for it. To facilitate keeping track of how many islands and ocean tiles were in play and for scoring at the end, I downloaded an excellent player aid from BoardGameGeek in advance. I also modified it to better suit our needs, which worked well. I will post the modified file on BGG soon.

The results for the day: Joel – 3 wins (including one tie); Sue – 1 win; Mason – 1 win; Katrina – 1 win (in a tie). Dan and I have not yet won a game in 2006. So far, in 2006, Sue has won 5 games, Katrina – 4 games, Joel – 4 games, Natalia – 1 game (the only one she’s played with us), Mason – 1 game, Dan – 0 games, and me – 0 games. Not an auspicious beginning for Dan and me.

Since January 1, 2001, the results are: Mason – 176 wins, Dan – 144, Katrina – 136, me – 125, Sue – 118, Joel – 15 (he has only been playing with us adults and counting wins during the past year and has played only a small number of games with us, but has a high percentage of wins of those games he has played), Natalia – 3 (she has played very few games with the rest of us, but has done very well at the few she played).

Next weekend, Mason will be on a hut trip in the Rocky Mountains, near Crested Butte, Colorado, including cross-country skiing and spending a night in a mountain hut with friends (this seems to be becoming an annual event for them). So, we will not be counting game victories next Saturday, but the rest of us will have a good time playing games together, anyway.

— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; February 2006
aka gamesgrandpa — A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming


February 5, 2006 Posted by | Games | 2 Comments