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Subject: First two plays rss

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Thies Kolln
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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My wife and I broke out this game for its first two plays the past two evenings. The first game was, predictably, a lot of feeling our way without really good ideas as to the strategic value of various cards. I managed to get a fifth settlement and controlled the knight token for most of the game. In the end it wasn't very close -- 12 to 7 final score, with both the knight and windmill on my side of the table. One thing I noted was that we didn't play very many of the action cards -- only one scout each. I think this was the result of not knowing our way around yet, and sure changed in game two the next night.

As mentioned, our second game was much different. I again managed to get to the fifth settlement, but was continually hampered both by some bad luck and some good moves by my wife. She got an early knight down (Conrad), which I couldn't do because the stack I originally searched had no knights. Then the epic "Journey of Otto" began. I first drew him out of a stack to try and counter her knight. Before I could play him, a Conflict erupted and my wife exiled him to the bottom of a deck. On my next turn, I paid two resources to fish him back out, but again before I could play him my wife played a spy and stole him for herself. After she then built him, he was a casualty of a Civil War, was played again, and then fell finally to the dreaded Black Knight.

Anyway, to get back to the main plot, my wife effectively checked the resource production advantage that I had from the extra settlement by controlling the knight and windmill for most of the game. Two Conflicts and numerous brigand attacks (I didn't find a garrison until quite late in the game) further slowed my progress. At one point she had 11 VPs to my 8, and it looked grim for me. I turned it around in my last few turns by 1) building a Marketplace and another fleet to first neutralize and then take the Windmill, 2) building a red building (Church) for another victory point, 3) deploying Karl the Strong to claim the knight token (I realize that he's often too expensive to justify, but I needed to beat Conrad + Otto), and finally 4) building a third city for the win. She wasn't quiet during this time either, building a red building after losing the windmill to temporarily get back to 11 VPs. The game was ultimately sealed just before I built my final city when she tried to unleash the Black Knight on Karl. A grizzled old herb woman came to my knight's aid and my wife's knight instead was mowed down.

Our initial reactions to this game have been very positive. The close second game showed me that a fifth settlement doesn't guarantee victory -- my wife was closer to VP 12 than I was for most of the endgame, and I probably had less than even odds to win but came through with a few lucky rolls. We were also a lot more aggressive in the second game -- probably 2/3 of the yellow cards ended up getting played. We're still discovering/exploring the uses of the various cards and experimenting with strategies at this point, and both believe that we'll enjoy many more plays of this. And, if we think we're getting too familiar with the base game (which is some way off), there are always the expansions!
 
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