Joey had arrived near the conclusion of our Samurai game and began calling for Princes of Florence. Again, there was little objection as this one is a group favorite. Jim made the comment that this is just about as close to gaming perfection as a game can get, and I tend to agree with him. It falls just shy of my personal favorite game, El Grande, but is a solid '9.5' on my scale. The contestants were Jim, Joey, Steven Maus, Dave and myself.
It was really interesting to see the various strategies everyone pursued. Some of the strategies seemed to be planned, while others surfaced due to the circumstances which arose as the game progressed. Jim managed to acquire four ... count 'em, four ... jesters during the course of the game. He appeared content to do this, but would have let others take them had the bids risen higher. This did catapult him into an impressive lead following turn 6, but the lack of further personalities and prestige cards cost him dearly at the end.
I was fortunate in that I was able to acquire all three personalities who desired the Workshop. Thus, I was able to limit by building construction to just three buildings during the course of the game. I acquired two prestige cards fairly early in the game and felt confident in at least tying for one (most forests) and achieving the other (one of each landscape type). This would mean 12 points to me at the game's end, which I felt would be enough. On the very last bidding round, I acquired my needed lake to complete the requirements for this second prestige card. However, Jim was outbid by Dave for the final 'Recruitment' card. So, he settled for a second forest, which earned him three more victory points. Unfortunately, this meant I was no longer tied for most forests, thus costing me four prestige points! Arrghh!
Dave used his Recruitment card to grab a previously employed personality and managed to put him to work, achieving 19 'work' points. I still had a chance. I could match Dave's 19 work points by purchasing a needed freedom (3 pts.), OR I could take a chance and purchase a Bonus card, hoping I would be able to meet the criteria on one of the five cards I drew and that it would be worth MORE than the three points the freedom would assure me. True to my nature, I behaved conservatively and purchased the freedom. This tied me with Dave for the best work with 19 points. Thus, we each earned the 3 point bonus.
I knew Dave had a Prestige card in his possession ... I was just hoping he hadn't achieved its requirements or, at best, he had tied with someone else and would only receive the smaller amount of prestige points listed on the card. Unfortunately, he met the requirements and received the total points, thereby edging me out for the victory.
Round 1: Joey 8, Dave 7, Jim 3, Greg 3, Steven 0
Round 2: Joey 11, Steven 8, Dave 7, Greg 5, Jim 4
Round 3: Dave 16, Greg 14, Joey 13, Steven 12, Jim 4
Round 4: Dave 25, Jim 20, Joey 19, Greg 17, Steven 12
Round 5: Dave 32, Jim 30, Joey 26, Greg 23, Steven 18
Round 6: Jim 44, Joey 35, Dave 35, Steven 32, Greg 31
Round 7 (BEFORE Prestige cards): Jim 50, Dave 49, Greg 45, Steven 41, Joey 35
Finals: (AFTER Prestige cards): Dave 56, Greg 53, Jim 50, Joey 44, Steven 41
Ratings: Greg 9.5, Jim 9.5, Joey 9, Dave 9, Steven 7.5