3 players: *JY*, Corwin, Rick
Avg enjoyment: 8.33
OUur last game of the night! Usually I don't like Knizia games, but I had heard enough about this game that I was very keen to try it. I won't go into the mechanics here, only a bit of gameplay.
Early on Corwin picked up some of the province disks, giving him an early lead in goods. I pulled out early in a lot of battles, prefering to save my cards and pick up the cards that I wanted from the replenish row. Eventually I placed a few cities hoping to tie them together later in the game. Corwin and Rick started to go ahead of me because they kept picking up +2 victory point chips. I was already thoroughly enjoying this game. I commented about a third of the way into the game that this was probably going to get a 9 from me! Rick used his +2 card a lot which put him out in the lead while I started to pull a bit closer as I picked up a disk or two and got a few road bonuses.
Corwin started to really make huge run, passing Rick, as he worked the commodities straegy: he had 5 or 6 disks and several single commodities that served him well. Rick didn't pick up many disks, and when he lost the +2 card, he started to lag. That allowed me to pull into second. I had built palaces along the south side of the board and the road strategy was now starting to pay off as I was picking up 4 and 5 point bonuses now. Corwin took another big jump when he grabbed another disk for commodity bonuses. Corwin was winning a lot of key battles. But I was able to make two more big road bonus jumps (something that would never happen in a 4 or 5 player games, I expect) and that vaulted me into the lead.
A huge problem arose as we played though: I was building palaces everywhere and used them all up! Now we didn't know what to do. The rules didn't clarify so we opted to let me continue to build palaces using grey (as well as my original blue) because it didn't say I couldn't, and it seemed to fit the theme better. Fortuneately, I only needed to use two grey palaces and I still would've won either way, but it's surprising that the rules didn't mention that! We'll need to clarify. Mind you, again, it's a problem that wouldn't arise in a 4 or 5 players game (with each player able to build less castles) and even in future games of Taj Mahal, Corwin and Rick will never let me get away with that road-building strategy again!
Scores: Jy 68 (60 if I wasn't allowed to use grey), Corwin 55, Rick 39
Ratings: Jy 10, Corwin 7, Rick 8
Even when I was getting my butt kicked early in the game, I couldn't believe how much I was enjoying the experience of playing this game. I give it a 10; I enjoyed it as much as some of the best games of Princes of Florence I have ever played (the only other game I give a 10 to.) In the future my rating may go down, but right now I see this as one of the best strategy games I have ever played, it's got great bits, and even though it's fairly abstract, the cardplay seemed exciting and poker-ish. Rick mentioned that Knizia's games often felt like a lot of mechanisms thrown together, and that Taj Mahal was an extrenme example, but he didn't seem to think it hurt his enjoyment of the game. He mentioned though (and I agree!) that you wouldn't want to try and teach this one to non-gamers! Corwin felt it was an interesting game, but thought that the rules not clarifying whether or not a color can be 'run out of' was unacceptable.