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Subject: Session Report rss

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Stven Carlberg
United States
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For the last game of the night -- and at 2:00 in the morning we should probably have known better -- Jack, David and I agreed to let John teach us how to play Java. It's kind of a complicated game. In case we didn't know this already, we knew it by the time John finished explaining the rules. Over at the other table of late-nighters, Ward meanwhile taught Jeff, Bryan, and Jeanette how to play Siesta. Their entire game ended just when the Java jivers were finishing up on the rules briefing and getting ready to make our first moves. *whew*

Nevertheless (and I won't say undaunted) we plunged into Java and gingerly groped around in its unfamiliar tactical territory. Like Tikal or Mexica, Java is an "action points" game, so you have quite a bit of latitude in the actions you might choose to perform, and this can make for a slow game with lots of thinking, especially if you're confronting the system for the first time. I won the spin for first player and decided I would start an area and build a temple in it, intending to upgrade the temple a step at a time in future turns while doing whatever it took to firmly control the area. Jack and David opened in similar fashion in other parts of the board, and then John, the one person who had played before, showed us that he considered scoring for the water spaces an early priority. So I spent a couple of turns scoring for big water spaces.

Meanwhile Jack over the course of several turns quietly drew a TON of cards into his hand for the "festival" scoring. Now a "festival" can occur any time after a temple upgrade, but while the upgrade scores only for the player who has the "highest ranking" pawn (physically highest on the terraces that get played in layers on the board) in the area, the "festival" scores the same points but can be scored by ANY player who has a pawn in the area, providing he plays the best cards at the moment. So Jack was foregoing some early development and scoring opportunities for the sake of positioning himself as unbeatable in the festivals. At the same time, he was moaning and bellyaching about starting such a complicated game so late, being so far behind, getting taken advantage of by rules he hadn't fully understood, etc., etc. -- so, knowing Jack, I knew he was right in the thick of it and going to be very tough to beat.

Well, to shorten a long story, after much construction, many clever moves, and a whole lot of festivals won by Jack, I did manage to beat him by a mere three points, with John and David close behind. I attribute my success to a well timed decision to build up to the highest possible level in a couple of 10-point areas, exceeding the current position of my nearest opponent by two or even three levels, thus making it impossible to catch up to me in a single turn (or in one case, at all, thanks to the board position). This really paid off in the final, game-ending round of scoring, which works something like Tikal, where one player does his scoring, and then the next player gets to take his full turn of action points first before doing HIS scoring -- so the same temple might be scored by one player and then another, after overtaking the first player. But I had made it impossible for anybody else to overtake me even temporarily in those areas, so I was the ONLY one who got those 20 points.

Anyway, it was just barely enough, and I claimed the last win of the night in a good, hardfought game.

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