Four players: myself, Zirak, J and A. This was my 24th game (not just of Samurai!) played within 6 days. I never thought I'd have such a solid gaming group - ah, good times indeed. Attaining a girlfriend is a sub-optimal play as far as I'm concerned; I mean, the number of games played isn't going to go up is it? Anyway, I could talk pros and cons for a long time... but shall refrain because this is a Samurai session report after all!
Last time I played Samurai; Zirak did the unthinkable and finished with most in ALL THREE categories: high helmets, rice fields and buddhas. It was time to play a little more prudently.
On many occasions I wanted to make a play before something, setting myself up beyond much doubt to secure items, especially at the end of the islands where there are only two surrounding hexes. Usually I'd jump on in, thinking to myself 'Hmmm... it is unlikely he will play a ship/Japanese character combo and steal 'my' piece'... and what would you know? Yes, I nearly always lose the pieces I thought I was so likely to attain. This time I decided to hold back, leave my brilliant moves for the next turn... and what do you know? I was suddenly raking in the pieces.
Early on I drew several samurai 'wild' pieces. These helped greatly with securing some of the items on the smaller islands. I stayed away from Edo, so often my downfall; I invest so much only to gain 2 or 3 items. The ship tiles came out nicely spaced out for me also. This allowed me to tip influencing battles in my favour when necessary. As Andy coined it; the 'swapsie-dopsie' tile, came out for me right near the end. This allowed me to substitute back in my '4' high helmet and claim my 5th in the category.
High helmets-rice fields-buddhas went: 5-4-2.
In final scoring, I had most high helmets, Andy and I tied for most rice fields and Zirak had the most buddhas.
This left Zirak and I in the race for the game. I had 6 'other' pieces and he had 3. This left me as the winner. Patience definitely helped, usually I just want to get in a mix it up too early. However, I'd be lying if I didn't say that luck was on my side when it came to the tile drawing!