Stephen Rochelle(lomn)United States
We began game 4 hot on the heels of Sa's lightning strike for victory. I chose to be the odd man out again, and reminded the boys that my offer of advice to any player who hadn't yet won still held.
C set up with the increasingly popular play of Khan Industries near a Mercenary (in this case, South Africa with Mercs in Madagascar) with the intent of using their Mobile power to park the HQ where it would generate two bonus troops per turn. Khan's homeland of Africa had little impact with this start location.
N continued his preferred method of setting up Die Mechaniker in Western Australia -- again, the Australian homeland meant little.
Sa took Imperial Balkania in Peru so as to take advantage of the newly-renamed continent of Pittsburgh. Balkania's homeland of Europe allowed access to several higher-value territory cards.
J once again selected Enclave of the Bear and deployed to Canada - Alberta, in this case. As with most factions, the North American homeland had little impact.
Finally, A was left with the unenviable position of deploying without any reasonably defensible continents left. Stuck with the group's consensus least-favorite Saharan Republic, he set up in Japan (homeland: Asia).
As usual, it's interesting to sit back and see how the kids are evaluating their strategies. In this case, J made an "alliance" with Sa, but the price of that alliance was leaving Sa a corridor to Europe. Of course, sooner or later, that troop imbalance from J ceding control of a continent comes back to bite you, as illustrated by Sa's push on J's HQ here. J was always able to get the HQ back, but never had enough spare troops to make a push on the rest of North America (hindered, in part, by his participation in the destruction of A in Asia). Sa also benefitted from uncontested expansion into Europe, allowing her to pick up resource cards per Balkania's starting power without combat losses.
Also illustrated is a general tendency to hold forces one space back: Alaska is primed to counterattack into Alberta should it fall to Balkania. This works for that purpose, but it often leaves the kids (when that first attack doesn't happen) with substantial armies that can't actually attack on their turn.
On the other hand, we have C's "Fortress Africa" -- his plan, though he didn't discuss it prior to the end of the game, was to intentionally hold on and create a city to offset "Sasucks" from game 3, which he now regretted. I did suggest to him afterwards that he could have instead gone for naming a Major City if he'd won -- it's reasonably clear here that Sa was grossly outnumbered both in Europe and "Pittsburgh". You can also see that "held back" effect in action here, as the troops in East Africa can't do anything (vs if they were maneuvered forward to the Middle East, for instance).
Also illustrated is N's capture of A's HQ, effected through his "Stealthy" power allowing him to place reinforcements in unoccupied, unmarked territories. You may also notice, though, that he's forgotten to occupy SE Asia, and so he's been unable to reinforce his Asian front from Australia.
Under pressure from N, J, and a token force from C, A was eliminated, adding the Convincing comeback power to give Saharan an extra troop from Mercenary spaces. With Mercenaries so spread out, I have my doubts whether this will substantially improve its perceived power level.
With C unwilling to contest Sa's control of either Europe or South America, Sa shortly built enough troops to capture A and J's HQs. She traded cards for a fourth Red Star and victory, electing to rename Australia "Europe" (because our geography just isn't confusing enough). C founded "Sarocks" in Ural, N raised the value of W Australia to $3, and J raised Greenland to $3.