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Subject: Two player games rss

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Simon Johnston
United Kingdom
Isle of Wight
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I popped round for a few games of San Juan on Monday evening (Fiona seems to be too addicted to SJ to play anything else).

I win the first game fairly comfortably, starting with an early Smithy. I get a Market Hall as well, and am able to Produce / Produce then Trade / Trade (Fiona only having the starting Indigo). I then find a Guild Hall mid-game, and close out quickly with Indigos and Tobaccos for an 18 point Guild Hall. Fiona is going violet, but I was able to prevent her from dropping the Triumphal Arch she had in hand (to go with the City Hall) by rushing to 12 buildings - the correct way to win with Smithy.

The second game I get a solid start, with an early Well. I use this income to build several large production units and Monuments, and then find a Prefecture, to counter Fiona’s early Prefecture. Once I am able to pick Councillor without giving Fiona any advantage I do so repeatedly, as I need to find a large building (with my mixture of productions, violets, and monuments, any will do). I find a Palace, which I’m about to build when a Guild Hall turns up. That’s my 11th build, and when Fiona fails to close out the game with me having six cards in hand I’m able to drop the Palace by picking Builder myself. I win this game as well.

Fiona realised after this game that she had basically stopped picking Councillor, once I built my Prefecture, and at the end of game she didn’t have enough good buildings because of this. She also had terrible luck with a very early Gold Mine, which only worked once during the entire game.

The final game I get an awful start. I spend all of my opening hand on a Quarry, but Fiona drops a Prefecture, and I’m unable to find any other violets worth building. I have a City Hall in hand, but drop a couple of buildings behind. My next build is actually a Hero - efficient in terms of VP, but I think you’re supposed to be developing your income with your third build. I struggle along like this, dropping a Market Hall to help offset Fiona’s production advantage, until I get a sixth build Carpenter. Now, despite my bad start, and Fiona’s huge income advantage (she has Silver and Gold Mine, possibly Prefecture as well, and is about to drop a second Silver) I’m right back in the game. I drop the City Hall, and as I’m unable to find any decent violets and am losing in terms of income anyway I rush out to 12 buildings with very cheap violets like Gold Mine and Archive (when you have Quarry & Carpenter they don’t cost you anything).

This plan is just enough for me to win by a few points. I really thought Fiona was going to win this game, but I didn’t panic, (it would have been easier to build some bad violets early on, just cause they were cheap), and even picked Councillor when Fiona had a Prefecture – I had to find something to build, to get back into the game.
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