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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Monday, January 23, 2006

Game Group: Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club

This is the first of what I hope to be a monthly series. Game Group provides a unique profile of an established gaming group. It was inspired by the “book group” feature in the (most excellent) bookmarks magazine. We want to hear from you about your gaming group! If you would like to participate, send an inquiry to ripcitygamer@comcast.net.

Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club
Submitted by Yehuda Berlinger
Edited by Dave Eggleston

How did the group get started? How does your group find new members?

Some time after 2001, I disbanded the regular roleplaying and CCG meetings I was having with my brothers and friends, and morphed them into bridge, CCG, Cosmic Encounter, and Settlers of Catan meetings. I started advertising for more regulars, got a few replies, and we started playing the other designer games that I had bought. In October 2003, we adopted the name Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club (JSGC), started the website (http://www.freewebs.com/jergames), and began recording session reports online. The JSGC name was created to try to succinctly give an idea of what we play; however, we still occasionally get calls from video/computer gamers who want to know if we play those types of games. We continue to get people from word of mouth, standing advertisements in the local section of the English newspapers, contacts through online presence, and occasional publicity due to game days.

How would you describe your group?

We are mostly former English speakers, with some native Israelis. Most of us are Jews, with some occasional Christians in Israel for a visit or a year. I would like to have some regular English speaking Arabs/Muslims, since I think games are a great medium for cooperation, but it hasn't happened, yet. We meet in my apartment, and rarely meet in someone else's house. We tried a local café once, but none of us wanted to feel guilty and have to order food, and there were other logistical problems. We have a very friendly atmosphere, with a lot of advice given during play. We generally only like the complex Euros with light Euros as necessary fillers. Most players take a very long time to make their moves.

How do you decide which games to play?

Most come from my collection, to which others occasionally contribute. Sometimes other players bring a game or two, sometimes successfully, other times not so successfully. Deciding games is sometimes a problem, as there are always a few games that some people want to play and others don't, but it usually resolves itself okay.

How do you select the start player?

Randomly, by mixing and picking a piece.

What are some of the group's all-time favorite games?

Puerto Rico (with or without our home-brewed expansion buildings), Taj Mahal, San Juan, Amun-Re, Settlers/Cities and Knights of Catan, Cosmic Encounter, El Grande, Princes of Florence, Magic: the Gathering, The Menorah Game [ed: designed by Yehuda], and our Jewish-themed variant of Ra.

What do you consider your group's signature games?

Puerto Rico and The Menorah Game.

What games were featured in your most memorable gaming sessions?

Our game days are the most memorable, and we have played up to twenty games on game days. Sometimes our game day games run even longer than usual, such as an El Grande game that took six hours [ed: !].

What games were featured in your most unfortunate gaming sessions?

We had a row over Wallenstein once, where a former wargamer broke an agreement with a non-wargamer. The non-wargamer thought that breaking pacts is unethical, whereas the wargamer thought that it is part of the game. But they made up. The only truly unfortunate gaming sessions are the ones where very few people show up.

What games have created the biggest love/hate division among members of your group?

Our members either love or hate abstracts, word games, or card games. We have one or two members who hate Puerto Rico, while the others love it. It is the same with Taj Mahal and Princes of Florence. We have some that love wargames, or conflict-heavy American games (e.g., Shogun) and some that hate them.

What do you do about food at your gaming sessions?

Usually the players will order burgers from a local delivery. They are supposed to bring snacks, and one or two of do so. Tea and drinks – and occasionally dinner – are provided.

Any last words of inspiration?

There is also an irregular group that meets in the Tel Aviv area; just a bunch of friends who play together. And a new official group started up in Tel Aviv, although they are having a rough go of it. They get more people then we do, but can't find a good time or place. Right now they are meeting once a month. I don't think there are any other multi-game groups in the Middle East, or even near my area of the Mediterraneum (Turkey/Egypt). So, if you are anywhere in the area, please drop by!


  • At 6:56 PM, Blogger Matthew Gagan said…

    Nice feature. I think it will be very cool to read about other groups. Sometimes I read some posts from game reports on bgg where they rave about games that Rip City Gamers have sort of dismissed, or were indifferent to games that come out fairly often at RCG sessions, and reflect on what is different/special/unusual about my own experience with particular games. This feature will be a nice opportunity to do more of that.


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