03/13/2024 – Berkshire Gamers Session Report #24-11

15 at the UNO Park Community Center for an evening to honor the first anniversary of Herb Levy’s passing. He was a dear friend of mine for 47 years and a major contributor to the world of modern board games. I organized weekly gamenites on Long Island starting in 1992, to provide Herb with a playtesting arm for his Gamers Alliance Reports – which published quarterly reviews from 1986 through 2023. Games from Herb’s enormous collection were generously donated by Lynn Levy to our table leaders. Donated games now have a sticker with Herb’s smiling face on their inside box cover to honor his memory. Long Island Gamenites are still flourishing on Fridays under the leadership of Kevin Maroney. Sean and Armando recently joined me for two LI Gamenites at Lynn Levy’s home. 

Welcome to Amy W (Chris’ better half) on her first visit and congrats to Chris on his new position.
I received an email from Drew D. He has already found a board game group in Jenkintown, PA hosted by the local game store on Tuesdays and Saturdays. We wish Drew and Lori nothing but happiness in their new home.

Our March 20 session will be a request night with our table leaders preparing to bring and lead from among:
Thunder Road: Vendetta (Sean leading, Nicole and Armando requesting)
Bang (Armando leading, Tim P requesting)
El Capitan (Matt and Chris leading) 
Let’s Go to Japan (Steve leading)
Project L with Ghost Piece expansion (Sandy leading)
Any of several tiles from Devir (Tim leading)
… and more (watch for Monday’s attendance update for more titles and email your requests to Steve)
3/13/2024 @ UNO Park Community Center
IN: Steve & Sandy, Sean,Wendy & Quinn K,Tim , Armando, Danny, Reimi, Nicole, Chris, Amy & Quinn W, Rob O, Rob S
Games from the Herb Levy Collection
Fresco (led by Tim) 2010 worker placement and set collection game where players are master painters working to restore a fresco in a Renaissance church.

Each round begins with players deciding what time they would like to wake up for the day. The earlier you wake up, the earlier you will be in turn order, and the better options you will be guaranteed to have. Wake up early too often, however, and your apprentices will become unhappy and stop working as efficiently. Players decide their actions for the turn, deploying their apprentice work force to various tasks. They will need to buy paint, mix paint, work on painting the fresco, raise money (which you’ll need to buy the paint) by painting portraits, and perhaps even send their apprentices to the opera in order to increase their happiness. Points are scored mostly by painting the fresco, which requires specific combinations of paints, so players need to buy and mix their paints wisely, in addition to beating other players to the paints and fresco segments they would like to paint.


Quandary 2x (led by Chris/Tim) 1994 Knizia design that started out as a 1-deck card game with plastic poker chips (Flinke Pinke), licensed to Milton Bradley as the deluxe Quandary version with chunky tiles and a board and later re-published/themed as Wildlife Adventure & Botswana, loco and Thor.  Quandary is a game of tile placement, share acquisition and brinkmanship. Players in turn lay numbered pieces on tracks curling to the center, and then take a share in any color. The round ends when one track is filled. Scoring is based on your total shares multiplied by the value of the final tile played on each track. Simple but tense play.0
Honey Bears/Bucket Brigade (led by K-ban) 1998 Knizia card game with bears racing to be the first to win honey. Players use colored cards (numbered 1 or 2) to move four colored wooden bears along a track (as well as multi-colored jokers that move bears but don’t count for scoring). The color that wins the race makes cards remaining in one’s hand in that color worth +3 at the end of the round. The other three colors, depending on how far they advanced, are worth anywhere from +2 to -1. The cruel irony here is the usual Knizia twist, as the cards that score points are also used to move the bears. Some bluffing and cooperation from others is needed to win.
Atlantic Star (led by Sean) 2001 re-themed version of Dirk Henn’s 1996 Show Manager, set in a world of cruise ships instead of theater. Players draft cruise ship cards from a constantly changing queue of cards. Each card represents ships of varying values for different destinations. Once a player puts together all the ships needed for a cruise destination, the value is judged against all the other cruises to that destination, with victory points given relative to the other cruises. Money management is key as funds are tight and loans can cause a loss of VPs. It excels with 4-6 players. The original Show Manager was one of Herb’s favorites.
Union Pacific (led by K-ban) 1999 train-themed stock market game that is a remake of Alan R Moon’s Airlines (later as Airlines: Europe). On each turn, players must choose between expanding a company by playing track cards to increase its value and adding a share of stock to their hand, or playing stock onto the table from their hand to increase their ownership of one or two companies. There are four semi-random scoring events, in which the first and second place shareholders in each company are paid dividends. Only stock that has been previously played onto the table is considered during the scoring rounds. Union Pacific is a special company whose shares claim dividends to all shareholders according to a fixed progression chart. Paper money is awarded to track victory conditions and cannot be spent during the game. Most money wins. This is strategic tension at its finest. This design led to the author’s crowning achievement – Ticket to Ride. We had two dividend cards show up in succession, causing some agita for many. When Herb taught UP, we would usually take the deck of share cards away from him and have another player seed the deck per the detailed instructions. I followed this LI tradition by having Chris do the deck honors while I was explaining the rules. Seeding a large deck of cards and dexterity games were Herb’s Kryptonite….but he was the best game teacher I’ve ever experienced.
El Grande: King & Intrigant (led by Sean) 1995 Kramer-Ulrich SdJ winner that popularized area control and married it to a clever action and turn order selection. We used the King and Intrigant expansion that combines the two, as players select 13 cards from among a deck of 18 (31 with all the expansions). High numbered cards receive few cubes but allow for more cubes to be placed – the reverse is true for low-numbered cards. Players are placing their wooden cubes called Caballeros onto 9 Spanish provinces or into the Castillo (tower). Each region has its own scoreboard that rewards players with VPs for first, second or third place.  We used the 6-turn short version (rather than the full 9 turns). This game was WAY ahead of its time and is considered a modern classic.
Other Games Played
Lacuna (led by K-ban)  2023 two-player 15-minute abstract with incredible table presence. 49 wooden flower tokens in 7 different colors are deposited on a square fabric board and spread fairly evenly to avoid clumping. The first half of the game consists of each player placing one of their 6 metal markers between two flowers of the same color (providing there is a clear line of sight) and claiming them. After each player has made their placements, the remaining flower tokens are claimed by whoever’s metal marker is the closest (a ruler is provided to measure). Victory goes to the player winning majorities in at least 4 of the 7 colors. Short, sweet and thought provoking.
Knarr 2x (led by Chris/Tim) 2023 race, set collection and drafting card game. Players are leaders of a band of Vikings that are sent to new destinations. Manage the recruitment of your crew, and choose the best territories to explore. Depending on the destinations reached (for trading or influence) and the Vikings who accompany you, players can increase their reputation to gain even more wealth. On each turn players either place a new member in their Viking crew, activate the effects of all of them with the same icon, and get another one from those available under the matching color on the central board, or they can explore new destinations, with the opportunity to trade with those places and get more gains or reputation.



15 at the UNO Park Community Center for an evening to honor the first anniversary of Herb Levy’s passing. He was a dear friend of mine for 47 years and a major contributor to the world of modern board games. I organized weekly gamenites on Long Island starting in 1992, to provide Herb with a…

15 at the UNO Park Community Center for an evening to honor the first anniversary of Herb Levy’s passing. He was a dear friend of mine for 47 years and a major contributor to the world of modern board games. I organized weekly gamenites on Long Island starting in 1992, to provide Herb with a…

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