Down along the creek, I remember something
[Previous game: The Amazing Labyrinth]
Steve appeared at the Perk while we were a-mazing. Since everyone apparently had a good time at earlier sessions playing Lost Valley, we then broke that out. Good grief, this game has a gazillion bits-shades of Puerto Rico! I hadn't played before, so got the high-speed stereo rules dump from Doug and Steve and we started. The game is well-named - I was completely "lost" for the first two or three turns, and this was certainly a "valley" for me. Not being intimately familiar with the costs and uses of the myriad of survival goods available meant I was spending more time looking at the nicely-made help card than the board. However, the individual turns go very fast in this game, so I had the benefit of watching many actions go by in a short time and soon caught on. After about half the game I knew this could be a favorite. It has all the qualities I like: fast turns, just a bit of chance, one or two *small* choices per turn, many and varied actions that can be strung together into a coherent strategy, a couple of unique and reasonably good strategies, and significant player interaction, with player's actions predictable based on their assumed strategy. I was digging it, literally and figuratively.
My initial befuddlement made me play pseudorandomly for the first ten minutes. I followed Doug up one side of the river while Steve went off exploring the other bank. I wasted time building a mine I couldn't use for lack of food, then couldn't hit the broadside of an elk four or five times in a row due to my rotten opponent's superlative die-rolling. Starving, I limped back to the store at about the same time as Steve and we switched sides. Steve had cleaned out a mountain mine on his original side and Doug was doing the same upriver. I bought some equipment and started overland where Steve had been while they duked it out elsewhere. I had good luck finding gold, and thanks to the new equipment and a fortuitous dried fish discovery I was sitting pretty. Steve continued upriver, and after a stop at the store for dynamite Doug took off to the opposite side as me looking for mountain gold. So at midgame we were totally detached from each other and slowly exploring new territory. We were getting to the last of the tiles when disaster struck!
...but not how you think. We realized to our chagrin that we were each extracting mountain gold in our areas without having built the needed mines. Duh, like that was even physically possible. After that discovery we tried to continue in this alternate universe Bizarro valley mode, but our hearts just weren't in it. Steve and Doug were really close I think, so they tied for first - I was way behind but moving fast. Steve had bought a cart early and went overland, and Doug raced upriver for the river gold and then tried to dynamite his way to goldly riches, so now I have two strategies to try next time, not to mention gun/axe/no cart overland, which also seemed effective. This is a great game...even when not played with the designer's rules!
[Next game: Amun-Re]