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Subject: Why the Old Architect Did a Jig After a Long Day's Work rss

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Picking the right game to play with a particular group is like ordering the right wine with dinner. It's an art and a science. Pick a game that's too heavy and you'll send the newbies running from the table screaming. Pick a game that's too random or luck-driven and the experienced Euro gamers will be begging to be put out of their misery. Tonight, I had the perfect game: Mexica.

We had four people tonight, including myself. Andrew was the wildcard. When I heard he was coming, I couldn't put a face to his name and didn't know anything about his gaming background. Vishakh is new to the hobby, but he seems to enjoy everything I put in front of him -- what can I say, the man has good taste. Fluffy was probably the toughest customer to please. Her favorite game is Apples to Apples, but slowly I've trained her palette to enjoy the more serious German games. I introduced her to Tikal, and she liked it so much, she bought her own copy. Hmmm, what game might a Tikal fan enjoy? [Insert flashing neon sign here.]

The first half of the game was a clumsy affair as everyone felt their way through the mechanics. Vishakh searched for a spot to build his first district and finally gave up and jumped into a district I had already founded. Andrew burned up his first few turns walking his Mexica to the far end of the board, where he laid a byzantine network of canal tiles that made it impossible for anyone to waterski over. Poor Fluffy learned the hard way what happens when you found small districts without immediately filling them with buildings. I came in behind her and locked down first place in several of her newly minted districts with my one-story buildings.

At the end of first scoring round, I had a substantial lead. I felt bad about it. Or I tried to feel bad about it. Or I knew I should feel bad even though I didn't. In all seriousness, I'm not one to take (much) pleasure in smashing newbies. I tried coaching them through their mistakes, but some of my better advice went unheeded.

The second half got a lot more interesting, as the newbies had seen the view from the canvass thanks to the waxing I delivered and were eager to repay the favor. Andrew became dangerous as he learned the art of locking others out of key districts. Whereas the first half was marked by me teaching some hard life lessons to the new kids on the block, the second half was a tactical firefight with everyone grappling for position, stealing bridges, placing buildings in the most inconvenient spot possible, and generally going for the throat. It was great.

In the end, however, this old Aztec architect still had a few tricks up his sleeve. I held onto my nice lead and never looked back. In spite of the lopsided score, I think everyone enjoyed the game and certainly will do better next time.
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