Santiago Session Report:
Andrew, Bill, Michael, John and Jarett all played Santiago for the first time. The game was marked by a high number of times in which tiles appeared in large groups of the same crop on various turns which led to the creation of several large fields. The first round saw four chili fields and one sugar cane field uncovered. Bill, who was the last to act during the bidding, bid only 1 to take control of the canal. This meant that he was effectively shut out of a large chili planation in the center of the board but it did give him 5 escudos in a bribe with which he could exert pressure in subsequent auctions.
The second turn saw Andrew take over as overseer and saw several people jump into spaces already watered by an existing canal. Michael, Bill and Jarett all took potatoe fields and placed them in the SE corner of the board in a group. Jarett had to play his additional canal to avoid being the only player with an unwatered field.
Turns 3 and 4 again each saw Bill as the canal overseer. On each turn he took only small bribes and placed the water in places that were advantageous to his banana holdings.
Turn 5 saw a large number of banana tiles auctioned. The banana tiles were played as a connected group with Bill's earlier holdings and formed a large field in which most players had at least some stake. Jarett took the overseer this turn and profited from a 3 escudo bribe.
Turn 6 and 7 saw John take over as canal overseer as players strove to connect their tiles to existing fields around the board. It soon became clear that beans, chili and bananas would be the largest planatations at the game's end.
Michael took control over the canal in turn 8 and used his power to dry up some of his competitors fields. Bill was forced at this point to use his additional canal. Everyone else had already used theirs on earlier turns.
Bill regained control of the canal for the final turn as there were no particularly good tiles available for auction. The final turn was somewhat anticlimactic as the major plantations had already been blocked off by other tiles and desert so the final tiles placed didn't have the potential to result in large swings of points.
Bill's 72 points of bananas ultimately proved too difficult to overcome as the final scores were Bill 102, Michael 91, Andrew 84, John 81 and Jarett 66.