Stephen Rochelle(lomn)United States
So the boys were thrilled by the first game day. How thrilled, you ask? So excited that a couple of them spoke to the resident high school senior girl in their Sunday School class about how cool their "nerdfest game day" was. And so, for game day #2, we're joined by Sa.
Game 3 on Earth 5224 is particularly interesting in that we're back to a relatively basic state -- no participants have won (as I sit out to make space), no Scar cards are available (only one is opened and unused), and so everyone is on equal footing. We do, however, have the event and mission cards from the "Sign the board twice" packet. I point out to everyone that the events are unlikely to trigger (there's 2 population in N America, 2 in Europe, and 2 in Australia) and the "Conquer 9 territories in a turn" mission is revealed (one I consider unlikely to complete at this stage).
We switch to using my recently-acquired Start Player to pick the starting player and N draws his preferred Die Mechaniker and goes with his preferred Western Australia start spot. Next Sa opts for Khan Industries in Peru, angling to use their Mobile power to reposition on Argentina's Mercenaries. J once again takes Enclave and deploys to Alberta, making North America Enclave's homeland (the first likely-to-be-useful opportunity for homelands to come into play). A takes Imperial Balkania into Great Britain and C gets stuck with least-loved Saharan in Ural, declaring at this point that he and A will be allied this game. Hey, at least holding off on alliances until post-deployment is an improvement.
The opening round sees fairly standard expansion. N and Sa easily occupy their continents, while A and C hammer home their alliance by marching in force away from their respective HQs -- A leaves 2 troops at home, C only one, and only token single-troop occupying forces between them.
Rounds two and three illustrate what will be an emerging trend -- most of the kids aren't really grasping the value of continent control. J and A are leaving holes in North America and Europe, respectively, Sa isn't occupying uncontested southern Africa, and C is intentionally ceding space in Asia for N to make an exit. I'll grant that there are times when, tactically, it may make sense not to contest continent control (most likely to reduce your perceived threat), but this is virtually every player doing the same overcautious thing.
On round four, though, Sa is able to cash in some high-value territory cards and marches an army from Africa to Great Britain (A's HQ) and on to Ural (C's HQ) for victory. As noted previously, once Sa was through the initial front line, neither A nor C had forces of any significance the rest of the way (their HQs included). N notes that, unlike previous games, he ended this one in a strong position troop-wise by virtue of stacking forces in bunkered Indonesia. I counter by noting to everyone the need for aggression -- while N didn't lose a single troop to combat, he also didn't make any progress towards accumulating Red Stars, and the star for controlling his HQ was unnecessary for victory.
For her spoils, Sa names South America "Pittsburgh". C vengefully founds the Siberian minor city of "Sasucks". We break for lunch with everyone eager to refine their plans.