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Cleopatra and the Society of Architects» Forums » Sessions

Subject: 2-Player Game with Official Variant rss

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[My first session report!]

By the time I arrived at H's apartment it was 7+ pm. While H cooked a light dinner of rice gruel for herself, I unpacked the game components, using small rectangular plastic containers for the talents and Corruption Amulets. I set aside 2 more containers for our earnings. The game took up nearly the entire surface of H's dinner table!

This was our first game. So I spent 5-7 minutes explaining the game turn and actions. The in-box player aids were great, so all I had in addition to those and the rulebook were printouts of the Official 2-player Variant plus some Q&As from BGG's forum.

Off we go with H starting first (she's younger). My hand of cards tended to be filled with Stone and Artisans, while H's cards (I believe) had more Wood and Marble. So she built more column walls while I nearly monopolized the sphinxes. H also built the big ticket items: the pedestal, throne and both obelixes.

I did not use any character cards at all (though on hindsight I probably should have tried using the Courtesan and the Smuggler cards). H did use the Vizier, Courtesan and the Smuggler (once each). We nearly forgot about the Nile Merchants!

I tried to minimize taking Corruption Amulets, at the cost of building pieces that would earn more talents. I wanted to keep my card hand trim. My best quarry visit was when I placed 2 column walls and 1 mosaic in the same turn (for a total of 16 talents). I could see that H's pile of talents was more substantial than me, but I wasn't sure if she had more Corruption Amulets.

H had a brillant turn when, by placing 1 mosaic piece, she created 2 5-space sanctuaries! So she planted both her Statues of Anubis immediately. I had claimed 2 4-space sanctuaries rather early so I was definitely cringing.gulp

We only had 1 Offering to the Great Priest, with H bidding 5 talents to my 8 talents. So I got to get rid of 3 Corruption Amulets while H had to take 1 amulet. (I think H didn't bid higher because she thought she'd rather have more talents in hand to pay off any corruption tax. At this point of time - 3 quarters into the game - she had a bigger pile of talents than me.)

The game end was a bit of a farce. We suddenly realized that we had built 5 of 6 categories but Cleopatra was just on step 4 of her walk! So obviously we had forgotten to move her up one step. We decided to end the game then.

During the final accounting, I took 1 amulet for 1 tainted card in my hand as H took 3 (all her 3 cards were tainted, much to her consternation). Then I got rid of 8 amulets via the sanctuary spaces, while H said goodbye to 10 amulets. By this time, I had only 2 amulets left, but... H had 11! She had to cough up 45 talents for the corruption tax! I won the game with 70 talents to H's 41.

The game ran to slightly over 2 hours, which was reasonably since this was our first play and we had some interruptions (H's dinner preparations). We tended to spend more time during our turns when we had to decide which cards to discard (to keep the hand size at 10). Testing various placements for the mosaics also took slightly more time. Otherwise the game moved along quickly.

Some of the things that were missed initially:
- (H didn't realise that) We could build multiple pieces in one turn
- Building 2 pieces earn +2 talents
- Moving Cleopatra each time a category of pieces was built

Other comments:
- H thought the mixture of face-up and face-down cards in the market stalls was quite a unique twist. Being able to choose which card goes to which stall while replenishing was also fun. We usually try to "spoil the market" by dumping tainted cards with the untainted ones.

- Placing the mosaics gave another (visual/spatial) dimension to the predominantly card management aspect of the game. My "brainwave" was to build column walls and a mosaic together so I could claim the additional talents for the column walls being next to the mosaic segments.

- Packing the components back into the box took some time. The main difficulty was fixing the clear plastic cover over the quarry tray, because of the bits that fit under the bottom of the tray. We needed 4 hands to do it. I had considered cutting the bits off, but in the end didn't do so because a firmer fit would lend some rigidity to the tray (it's the 2nd lowest layer in the box, between the cards/counters below and the game boards above).
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Matt Smith
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Nice session report. I've yet to try the 2-player variant with my wife, but I'm sure we will soon.

BTW, I cut off the plastic tabs that wrap under the quarry board, and everything stays together just fine in the box. The trick when unpacking the quarry is to remove the plastic cover first, then extract the quarry by grasping two of the "rocks" sticking up from the board. Just reverse the steps to repack the quary.

The plastic tabs on the cover are way too cumbersome to be worth keeping, but the plastic cover itself is invaluable.
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Your method of extraction will work if I get rid of the tabs like you did. I'd consider. Thanks for the tip.
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