First time for all of us playing Europa. Sylvain is French and really into the whole theme of the EU being forged. He explains the rules (very very briefly), and off we go.
First round -- Everyone plays a little timidly and in their own corner. I get Luxembourg all by myself (sweet, 6 political points!). There is only one coalition to be made, which centers on France. Myself, Martin and Nicolas decide to get together and boot Mike out of it. This also allows us to convert Belgium and the Netherlands, giving us a substantial lead in political points.
2nd round -- Mike didn't win a single political point last round, so he only has two dudes (well, we were all playing with lesbian dudettes... no matter) to put on the board, while I'm already up to five with 54 points. I spread around a little bit, try to open negotiations with England, Spain and Italy. In the end the other players follow in my footsteps. I get in on the union of Spain and Portugal, but no agreement can be reached for England/Ireland, after many twists and borken alliances.
3rd round -- Mike has 3 dudes, Sylvain 4, Martin and Nicolas 5 and I have 6 (and I'm one political point away from from my 7th). Realizing that I have a huge lead on everyone, and that one one will want me in their coalition, I bid 4 dudes for peace and win the four vps. Martin gets 2nd place with 3 dudes, breaking the tie away from Nicolas who also bid three dudes but has a slightly higher political score. As I was expecting, I get shut out of every coalition while Nicolas gets in on one major one that wins over three countries. Mike and Martin are invited to participate in all the winning coalitions
4th round -- Mike and Sylvain are catching up to me on the political track, and Martin and Nicolas are waay ahead of me. I'm still one point shy of my 7th dude, darn it! So I decide to bid nothing for peace, an idea that Mike and Sylvain both shared. Martin again breaks the tie with Nicolas as they both bid three, and gets 4vps for it. The action in this round is wild and wooly, as we get one vote shy of having Russia join the EU (!!) and I think that we finally managed to convince those stogdy English folks to join as well. Mike is invited left and right to all coalitions, while Sylvain spread his dudes too thin and in unloved countries and finds himself shut out of a lot of countries. At one point me and Mike have to decide between who among Martin and/or Nicolas we should add to our coalition, and they are both (we think) ahead in the game... a bit of a kingmaking situation! We finally opt to include Nicolas as Martin potentially has more vps that coalition ends up winning three countries. Later we find ourselves in the same position and invite Martin to join us; we win two countries with that coalition.
So it's already the end. I think I'm doing very well, but I think that Martin won. We reveal the final scores and... surprise! Mike, trailing the whole game in political points, actually scores the victory:
Overall I enjoyed the experience, although the game definitely favours sweettalk/positionning/convincing/whining as a valid strategy. Not exactly my cup of tea, but much better than, say, Diplomacy thanks to the short playing time. I think we all found the game to be agreeable, and luckily it didn't generate any fights or bad feelings
much better than, say, Diplomacy