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Amparo Bertram

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06:16 am: January, July, what's the difference?
The hot, sunny weather this past week has been great for people who want to spend time outdoors, but I'm dreading what it's going to do to the environment. I started pruning my grape vines and fruit trees on Friday, and I'm hoping I can get the rest done before the plants all start waking up due to the recent warm temperatures. Fortunately, my yard hasn't suffered too much from the drought (yet), but I hope we get at least some rain this year.

My ume tree is already beginning to bloom. I'm hoping that it's old enough now to start producing a few fruit. I also planted a new grape vine, this one with red grapes.

Yesterday a couple of friends came over for a day of games and sushi. We started off with Citadels, which they both picked up quickly and enjoyed. Then we played Machi Koro, which they both loved instantly and asked to play a second time. It didn't bother either of them that they couldn't read a word of Japanese. Each of them won one game, thus beating me soundly both times.

We moved on to Dominion next, which they had both played before, but I added in the Prosperity expansion, which had new cards for them. Some of the new cards threw them off balance at first, as did the fact that it was a randomized set that didn't necessarily have all of the elements they had played with before (such as cards good for making long action chains). Once I explained some of the strategies with the new cards, though, they got back into the groove of the game.

I tried introducing Race for the Galaxy next, though I warned them multiple times in advance that it was very hard to learn. They still wanted to give it a try. (In hindsight, I should have done Eminent Domain instead.) We played with open hands and player aids, but they still found the game extremely confusing. One picked up on the general strategy after about three or four rounds and was mostly making her own decisions on what to play, but the other just couldn't grasp how to play at all. She didn't know why to choose which cards or what bonuses she could get from which action, and that really frustrated her. She also hated that "goods" were represented by face down cards rather than little tokens, which she would have found easier to understand. We ended up cutting the game "short" (ending sooner than victory conditions called for, but we had been playing well over an hour).

After taking a break for supper, we finished off the evening with another round of Dominion, which one of them managed to dominate by leveraging a Throne Room/Mine combo to good advantage. She had a bad habit of playing her cards directly onto her discard pile, though. We tried to break her of the habit, particularly when she nearly reshuffled one of her played Grand Market cards back into her draw deck, but she didn't want to change. At that point, I just figured that as long as she was enjoying the game, it didn't matter enough to make a fuss over it.

It's back to work again for me today. The warm temperatures are likely to continue the rest of the week, so I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts.

Comments

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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:January 19th, 2014 02:52 pm (UTC)
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Sounds like a fun day! It's interesting that your friends didn't mind playing Machi Koro even if they couldn't read Japanese. Did you just translate all the cards for them? Did you play with semi-open hands, so you could help translate any special ability cards they drew into their hand?
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 19th, 2014 03:11 pm (UTC)
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Did you just translate all the cards for them?

Yeah, I just told them what the cards said. They could read the numerals for coins, so once they knew how the cards worked, that's all they needed.

Did you play with semi-open hands, so you could help translate any special ability cards they drew into their hand?

There are no hands in Machi Koro, all of the cards are played face up in a tableau. You're probably thinking of San Juan.
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:January 19th, 2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
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Ah, you're probably right (that I'm thinking of San Juan, I mean). Another reason I have trouble rating games I've only played once - they all merge into one big mess in my head!
From:mangaroo
Date:January 19th, 2014 05:00 pm (UTC)
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Now I'm kind of glad I couldn't come for game day, since I would still have balked at playing Machikoro, and it looks like the day's big success.

I hope we get at least some rain this year.

To anyone reading this who thinks such a statement is unnecessarily dire in January: winter is our rainy season. (You know that old saying, "February snowpack in the Sierra refills the reservoirs." Sure, it's no "April showers...") And this is our third consecutive dry winter. Poor farmers and vintners.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 19th, 2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
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I would still have balked at playing Machikoro, and it looks like the day's big success.

I'm sure we would have pulled something else out to play that would have been just as good.

Speaking of which, it may help to prep by browsing my BGG collection so you have an idea what you want to try most. If it's something I haven't played yet, I can at least pull out the rules and read over them in advance so we don't have to waste time puzzling through the manual and can just dive in.
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From:mangaroo
Date:January 19th, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC)
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I'll take a look, but what I think I would really like to play is the prototype of Incredible Expeditions (I haven't even unboxed it yet. I'll see if it has two-player rules.) and Star Realms. And if there's time left over, another try at Forbidden Desert!

Edited at 2014-01-19 06:13 pm (UTC)
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 19th, 2014 06:41 pm (UTC)
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All of that sounds really fun!
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 20th, 2014 03:42 pm (UTC)
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She had a bad habit of playing her cards directly onto her discard pile, though. We tried to break her of the habit, particularly when she nearly reshuffled one of her played Grand Market cards back into her draw deck, but she didn't want to change.

So, she would play them all into a stack, not being able to see how many extra buys/coins she had when she actually wanted to buy? I'm having trouble understanding why someone wouldn't see that's a bad habit and try to change.

Sounds like a fun day, though! Is Race to the Galaxy the one that's a more complicated version of Puerto Rico/San Juan, so learning those games helps you understand?
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 20th, 2014 06:10 pm (UTC)
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So, she would play them all into a stack, not being able to see how many extra buys/coins she had when she actually wanted to buy?

Yep, that's exactly what she did. There were a couple times I had to remind her what she had just played. "You put down a Throne Room before that Mine, so you can upgrade two coins..."

I'm having trouble understanding why someone wouldn't see that's a bad habit and try to change.

I guess she was trying to take up less table space, or something? There was nothing else on the table, though, so it's not like we were cramped for space. And it was better than her first instinct, which was to just announce what she was playing while still keeping all her cards in her hands. We broke her of that after about two rounds.

Is Race to the Galaxy the one that's a more complicated version of Puerto Rico/San Juan, so learning those games helps you understand?

Yes, that's the one. They were fine for the first three phases (drawing cards, learning technology, and settling planets), but once it got into goods production they were completely lost. San Juan would have helped immensely with that.
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From:jojobruin
Date:January 24th, 2014 07:10 pm (UTC)
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That sounds like a lot of fun!! Glad you got to enjoy some game time despite the changes in the transportation routes
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