"A Book should serve as the Ax for the frozen sea within us."-- KAFKA
I've loved E&T ever since I first played it a couple of months ago. A stunning game, one which I'm happy to participate in any time.
A couple of our regular crew couldn't make it this week, so it was just Matt, Kevin and myself.
I started as I usually do, placing my black leader at the temple which the PC version designates I-5 and a second red tile to protect him from internal conflicts. This is my favorite area to start, as it is the most centrally-located temple, and allows expansion in any direction. This goes hand in hand with my usual strategem of building up a superiority in one color (usually black, but green works well also) and then blowing up other players' kingdoms via external conflicts. This game would generally follow that pattern.
Matt was wise to my central-location preference, though, and was determined to foil me, so he placed his red leader in the same location. I grumbled, but with only a single red tile, there was little I could do about it. Kev started a kingdom down in the southwest. I continued to expand the central kingdom and placed my green and blue leaders there. I had a fistful of black tiles and quickly built up a big lead in that color, building towards the treasure in the northwest. Matt began establishing himself in the east, next to the temple that adjoins the blue-monument area.
I had snagged a couple of treasures and things were going swimmingly until Matt played one of his catastrophe tiles, blowing my blue leader off the board. He replaced my blue leader with his own. I had left my red leader idle, so now I had two leaders off the board. Still, I had an overwhelming superiority in black tiles versus the two other kingdoms, though was tied with Kev in green tiles, so too early to start a conflict with him. Besides, it was only Kevin's second game, so I didn't want to pick on him too early.
Matt apparently felt no such qualms, and started the conflict with Kev on his own, choosing his blue leader first (they were tied). Matt lost, ending the conflict as the river tiles were blown out, severing the connection. I placed my blue leader back in the center kingdom on my turn, crossed the river and nabbed the nearby treasure shortly afterwards.
Matt and Kev continued to construct in opposite corners, Matt grabbing both treasures on the eastern border. I needed to smack Matt down, as he was one tile away from building the blue monument. I had superiority in green, but Matt had managed to pull even in black. His black leader, however, was up on the northeast island, so I played my catastrophe tile to sever him from Matt's kingdom (and his supporting black tiles as well). I then started and external conflict, having to fight only his green leader. I won, leaving the kingdom in pieces. On my following turn I connected to Matt's stray black tiles west of the river.
I was desperately short of red points by this time, so finally flushed my hand and pounced on Matt's red leader in the center (internal). I won the conflict and for a few brief turns had all my leaders connected to my massive central kingdom. I chose that moment to finally put the hurt on Kev, winning a large external conflict and blowing three of his leaders off the board and his southern kingdom to a shambles.
Suddenly the game erupted into a bloody fracas. Both Kev and Matt initiated several internal attacks on my large central kingdom. Some I won, some I lost, and some I merely flushed my hand and counterattacked next turn. When the dust settled, I still had my red and black leaders connected to the center kingdom, but Matt had taken over green and blue. Since I had plenty of green and blue points, this didn't much concern me.
What DID concern me was Matt suddenly building a black/blue monument from the black tiles I'd placed very early in the game. While connected to the center, Matt had manged to swipe another treasure, and I knew he was closing the gap.
In the last few turns, I wrested control of the monument by flushing my hand and starting a final internal conflict for green. I gained the last treasure the following turn ending the game.
It turned out to be just enough. Matt's few turns with the monument had almost caught him up. But that last treasure made the difference.
Final score: Tom-9, Matt-8, Kev-3.