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Subject: Rematch: 3 players, 2 games rss

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J Castellucci
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After our first game a couple of weeks ago (in which we were basically learning the game and getting a few ideas about strategy), we were all itching to try Elasund again. Denise wasn’t able to join us, so we played 2 three-player games with me, Tim and Quyen.

Game 1

We gotten the point that you really wanted to be towards the center of the board (Quyen opted not to build his money building on the 11-12 this game), but, except for Tim, we didn’t aggressively fight for the center. While Tim got the 6-8, we were happy with more 5-6s and 8-9s. Of course, when Tim started hitting his rolls like a madman, we learned the painful lesson. Tim also had a crucial build over on his starting money building, allowing him to reposition it on the 6-8 (at the same time, he built over one of mine and the best spot I could find was a 4-5, a big downgrade).

We all worked the trade track (windmills) a little, and Quyen and I both got to our second VP on the walls, but not finishing them up. Tim got aggressive by dropping one of the big 2 VP buildings and was threatening to win with 7 VPs on the board – the clock was on. We figured the best case-scenario was 7 gold to build a church section along with a Well on a Windmill for a big score, but we were pretty sure he didn’t have 12 gold, so we had two turns to knock him down.

But, we had made a crucial mistake – neither of us noticed that Tim had previously built 2 Wall sections, and for only 4 gold, built his third along with the Well, and yoinked 3 VPs before we could build over and knock him down. By dominating the center of town (and avoiding the church), Tim was able to make enough Gold to apply a strong building strategy and win the game.

Game 2

This time, everyone was more aggressive on the center squares, and we were spread out pretty evenly. I personally tried to stay north of the Church, and I let Tim and Quyen fight it out in the danger zone. The city developed very compact, with no one going outside early. After having been burned on the Walls last game, all of us were very aware of their status, and they filled up completely by mid-game. I have mixed feelings as to just how good the Walls are – yes, early it’s 6 Gold for 4 Cards and 1 VP, but you are potentially hurting your position by slowing your ability to develop buildings (especially on the good numbers). Also, we’ve noticed that once someone builds on the Wall, there is a psychological desire to rush in yourself and build since you don’t want one player to get all the 2-cost spaces. More on the Walls later.

Tim, realizing that after crushing us last game, it would be harder to win by making tons of money on the center of town, so he came up with a new strategy to stay one step ahead of us – permit poaching. Although we were able to keep the center pretty evenly split between the three of us, Tim would wait for us to drop a permit and then drop a higher cost one next to it, and stop us from building while he got to build with our permits. After a couple of yoinks by Tim, we caught on, and some fierce permit wars started, everyone trying to up everyone else.

This was the first time we really used Influence to for placing and moving permits, and it turned out to be crucial. Quyen and I had been cashing in Influence sets for Gold in previous games (and early in this game as well) while Tim was saving them up, and along with a few good rolls was able to get better position on this. After a flurry of moving, we wound up somewhat stalemated on the board, and everyone out of Influence to make a move. Tim built a medium size Gold building that he would later regret – our first two games were dominated by Gold, and as we neared the end of this game, we had gold (and built about half of the Church) – but if he had built the Influence building instead, he would have been able help me stop Quyen from winning.

Now how did Quyen win? Well, Tim was threatening at 7 VPs again, so I dropped my 0 Permit to help Quyen build over Tim’s medium building on the shoreline Windmills – Quyen still had 7 VP cubes in front of him, so I figured it was a good move. But, Quyen had made an accounting error, and had forgotten to place 2 VP cubes on the board, so instead of going from 3 VP to 6 VP, he went from 5 VP to 8! This made my helping his a crucial mistake – yes, he needed to block Tim, but having to spend one more turn and the gold to place his own Permit would have given us time to attack him elsewhere, especially when we saw the VP placement error.

Now Tim and I went into two-on-one defense, but because we didn’t have Influence to place Permits or overbuild same-size buildings, we didn’t have any good plays. Quyen did have a 1 VP building on a potential Church tile, but as I had build the first Church section, I know the one we needed was on the bottom, so no luck there. Quyen went into 14 Gold mode, planning to win with 2 Church sections, but got lucky on his first pull, and got a Church that went on a Windmill, scoring him 2 VPs and a win.

We’re still positive on Elasund, especially after seeing some of the potential strategies. We’ve made a few observations – luck and dice don’t seem as big as Settlers. Yes, having your number come up a lot does help, but if everyone plays the numbers, it evens out. Also, being Pirated is not nearly as harsh as a persistent Robber Baron. Also, it seemed that there are less total rolls (turns) in Elasund, so there weren’t a lot of 7s. And when you did roll a 7, it was almost more beneficial to put the ship on a row you wanted to build on (saving you Influence) over putting the Pirate on a row just to make someone discard cards. This also made building Walls for Towers to allow you pillage the Pirate discards of minimal impact (if any at all).

Finally, one interesting feature of the game is allowing a gang up on the winner. As soon as someone is perceived as a threat to win, the other players can try to disrupt them, even teaming up (like I did with Quyen) by placing permits allowing them to over build.
 
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Sebastien Phaneuf
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Nice report! As I told in my review there is a lot of differences between Elasund and Settlers. Elasund is more dynamic and allow for some "mean" play. As a side note : when you place a Church tile on a windmill you dont't get Trade points. It's a part I got wrong in my first game but after reading rules for the second time I noticed that small rule.

 
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J Castellucci
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lochrist wrote:
As a side note : when you place a Church tile on a windmill you dont't get Trade points. It's a part I got wrong in my first game but after reading rules for the second time I noticed that small rule.


D'oh! That would have given us 1-3 more turns to block Quyen, depending on how he was going to try and win (his possibilities were Church for 7G, Well for 5G + Permit, or building his 2x1 Influence Card building on a Windmill).

He didn't have any permits on the board and I don't remember the state of the row rolled on his final turn, so there may have been an easy permit drop. He knew I had 4 Influence cards and could block him, so I guess he might have just skipped permit placement and taken 2 gold (and hoped to get lucky on rolls) for the 7G sure win asap.

I had over 15G, but only 2 matching influence cards, so it would have been hard for me to overbuild, and Tim was out of Influence cards.

Again, the valuable lesson we learned is that Influence (aka permmit placement and over-building) is more than gold.
 
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