Wow...there hasn't been a session report on this in over a year, so I thought I'd add one. I've been playing this over on MabiWeb and after getting thoroughly thrashed my first game, this game has very much appealed to the logical side of my mind, and I really like the thinking ahead aspect of it. Its not just the current fort that needs to be considered, its the one that comes out next...is it worth giving up points in the current area to get a better position or to do some farming? A lot of variables. The game in question I played was a 4 player game and the complete log can be found here.
Here is the map, to aid in following along.
This was a 4 player game and I moved first. The first fort card was #1, which controlled 2 areas worth 8 points. I quickly put up a fort that was adjacent to those 2 areas and a 3rd, 4 point area. 2 Abbots and then a boat came out on the initial turn. Then it was jockeying for position. The 2nd fort card was #21, clear across the island and also bordering on 8 points (a 5 and a 3), so there was no overlap here. I got both of my ships out, one to help the 1st card, one to help the 2nd and 2 other players were able to farm before I scored the first card, picking up the full 8 points. 2nd place had 6, 3rd had 5 and 4th had just 1 point from farming.
My early position of a fleet near fort 21 helped on the 2nd round because it lasted only 8 actions before it was scored, which was long enough for me to get 2 villagers in place. I only picked up 5 points however was in a 13-13 tie for the lead after 2 cards.
The third Fort card was #4 back towards where we started, and it was on a 6 point and 6 point area and was scored immediately after the 2nd card. My initial positioning helped me get 5 points here and I was still in a 18-18 tie for the lead, with 3rd and 4th at 15 and 9, respectively.
The fourth Fort card was #10, which bordered on 2 areas, a 2 point area and a 4 point area. I decided that these were not of strategic value and didn't send much there, instead concentrating on farming twice and setting up the next card. As a result, I didn't get any points here except for farming, and was in 3rd place with my 20, with 1st having 22, 2nd having 21 and 4th still way back at 11.
The fifth Fort Card was a nice one, #19, which bordered on 3 areas totaling 11 points (5, 3 and 3). I contended here, and also picked up my 3rd harvest and had not yet committed any villages. Still, when all was said and done, I only picked up 6 points plus 2 for farming, which pushed me up into 2nd. 1st had 31, 2nd was me with 28, 3rd had 25 and 4th was closing with 22.
Next up was card #11, bordering on a 6 point area and a 3 point area. I moved forces in and was more focused on getting a 4th harvest to give me maximum village flexibility. This fort didn't last long, only 5 actions, and I only scored 3, while the guy with whom I was tied for 2nd got all 9 available points. With farming points, though, the game was very tight. There was a 2 way tie for 1st wth 34 and I was in 3rd with 23, while 4th didn't get anything and still had 22.
Fort 15 was next, bordering on a 6, a 3 and a 2. I started to push my villages, placing 2, and ended up tying for the lead here with 7 points scored. However, 2 players scored harvests, including one of the leaders, and I found myself 2nd in a 41/40/39/28 game and had already used 2 villages!
Fort 8 was the next to be scored, bordering on a 6 and a 3. As this was round 8 and there wasn't a lot of time left, player forts, including 1 from me started to come out, and harvests weren't happening. I did okay here, scoring 6 points, however the previous 3rd place player vaulted into the lead with 9 in a game that was now 48/47/46(me)/28.
Round 9 had a weak fort, #7, which only bordered on a 4 and a 2. Still, to lock out the others I sent my abbot there. It was one of the few areas in which the 4th place player was leading, and he scored it after 4 moves to pick up 6 points. The standings flipped again, with me back in a 2nd place tie in a 51/50/50/34 game.
Round 10 saw Fort 16 getting scored, bordering on a 5, a 3 and a 2. I was well positioned here and plopped down another village and my abbot to help solidify spots. I ended up scoring 6 to move into a tie for the lead and the game was now 56/55/53/39, however I had a big lead on the 11th and final fort and just had to solidify my position to make sure I could carry home the win.
That last fort was #12, which had a 6 point area I was dominating along with a 2 and a 3 point area. My whole objective here was to solidify the 6 so that neither 2nd nor 3rd got points there and to not worry so much about the other 5 points. I put up my last fort to help this, and while the others rushed people to the area, I only let 4 actions go by before I scored the area, grabbing 7 points while no one else got more than 6. When the dust settled I had my victory with 63 points. 2nd had 60, 3rd had 59 and 4th was way back at 41.
This was a very exciting game. As late as round 8 I was in 3rd place and as late as round 9 I was only tied for 2nd. It was only the last 2 areas that put me in the lead. While the 4th place player wasn't in the game after round 2, the other 2 players put up quite a fight, and a couple of different fort draws could have led to a very different result.