Wow, it had been forever since we've played this -- so long that two of our group regulars for some time -- Rick and Kelly -- had never played it.
This is a popular game with the group, so it's a bit of a mystery why it's been so long. In part it's that we get together so seldom that there's almost always a new game to try. Also, Princes is the sort of game that you don't want to learn as your last game of the night, there's too much new stuff to absorb. I think the biggest reason why we've neglected it is that we like it best with five, and we've had too many other five-friendly games to play of late whenever we've gathered in that number.
I don't normally give away the game result at the beginning of a session report, but what they hey, I'll do it this time; I don't think anyone reads my reports for the sheer suspense of it. (If you do, seek psychiatric help immediately.) I'm noting it up top this time because I usually kick ass at this game, whereas this time I barely won, including beating the two newbies by a mere one point each, and that solely because I failed to explain a rule properly, and because I got very lucky at the end. So it's worth my remembering up top here that I want to see what I did so much more wrong than usual. . . or did everyone else just play brilliantly?
Round 1: Ed prestige for 300, Kelly forest for 300, Ben builder for 600, me recruitment for 200, and Rick jester for 500 (those last two should be reversed in order.) The bids were pretty low all game; this was typical. Rick getting the jester was a good buy, but I didn't feel like going to 600, only to allow him the recruitment card for 200.
I thought my oponents were blowing it when they were so dead set on publishing early. Each of Rick and Kelly published in the first round, wtih Kelly taking best work, an 11 WV item. Both I and Ben did the standard profession + freedom opening, with Ed building a large building and taking a bonus card. I felt pretty good after round 1.
Round 2: I paid 300 for a forest, not what I like to do early, but I was holding 4 professionals who all needed it, so I was willing. Rick paid 500 for a lake (I named it "Ricky Lake"), which left Ed, Ben and Kelly in great shape. Ed got a recruiting card for 200, Ben a jester for 400, and Kelly picked up a builder for 200. I probably lost some ground here.
This time both Ben and Rick published, with Rick's 15 WV being the best of the round. Ed and I mirrored each other, each pikcing up freedom of religion and one building. Kelly used her new builder to build two structures.
Round 3: I bought the jester for 600, Ed the builder for 400. Ben picked up the recruitment card for 200, Kelly 200 for a lake, and Rick 200 for something I didn't record. Normally I'm happy to pay 600 for a jester, but everything else was going awfully cheap.
I was the fourth in turn this round, and used that advantage to build best work, a 17 WV publication, beating out Ed's and Kelly's and Rick's. Ben went first, and correctly predicting this might happen, settled for a freedom and a bonus card.
So far I thought I was in good shape.
Round 4: Probably the first round that I didn't think things had gone pretty well. I got another jester, again for 600. Rick bought a recruiter for 400, Kelly her 2nd builder for 400 (she needed it), Ed a forest for 200, and Ben a park for 200.
I thought I was going to be able to use my two jesters to dominate the publications. But I underrated the ridiculous strength of Ben's two bonus cards. He had two amazing ones, giving him a WV of 21 to beat mine of 19. I failed in using a 19 WV to get best work, though I wouldn't have thought this would lead to so much trouble as it did. Ed's weak 14 WV publication came out this round, while Rick and Kelly caught up on profession cards and freedoms.
Round 5: Kelly bought the jester for 600, I got a builder for 200, Ed a lake for 200, Rick a forest for 300, and Ben a prestige card for 200.
Now I knew I wasn't in such great shape. I had professions requiring several different buildings, and I didn't have space for them all unless I bought a second builder. Perhaps that's the way I should have gone. But instead I ate the loss and published a mediocre 15-WV work without its building, to get it out of the way. I wanted to use bonus cards later to work up my better works possibly into Best Work status.
Kelly published a 20 WV item, but was outdone by Ed's 21 WV work. Rick and Ben each bought a bonus card, with Ben putting up another building and Rick buying a freedom.
Round 6: Somewhere in this round or next I realized that I hadn't explained a rule properly -- the rule that allows you to exchange 1 PP for 100 florin if you ever find yourself short. I did a disservice to the group by failing to explain the rule properly, especially since it came into play late. When I explained it later on, both Ed and I made use of it. Oops. Sorry, guys.
I bought a park for 200 this round, but I really wanted the prestige card, I was bluffing with the park. I was able to use the park, but I needed my money for other stuff. Rick got the prestige card for 500, Ed a jester for 900 (the most expensive purchase all game), Ben a forest for 200, and Kelly a recruiting card for 200.
This was definitely a round where I took it on the chin. Rick's superwork of 25 WV flattened mine of 21 WV. OK, this was probably a bad choice. I should probably have waited to publish these until the last round. But I was short on money -- see above. Instead of cashing in, I simply lived with my restricted options. I should have made use of the rule here; instead I did in the last round. Regardless, any time you have to use that rule, you've screwed up.
So I guess that was my screwup this game; inadequate cash reserves, forcing badly timed publications and some PP-spending.
Actually, Rick's masterwork helped me in one respect -- it prevented Ben from getting best work with his 22 WV, which probably would have been enough to win the game. Ed published for 16, and Kelly two works for 17 each. Kelly had the opposite problem from me -- too much cash down the stretch.
Round 7: I was in desperate need for a prestige card by this point, so I bought one for 700, knowing that I would have to cash in PP just to buy a bonus card in the last round. Ed bought his second jester for 800, Kelly her third builder for 700, Ben a forest for 200 and Rick a park for 200.
Fortunately, I had best work in the last round, my 21 PP beating Rick's 20 PP.
But Kelly was the one with the toughest choice. There were three profession cards she couldn't see -- one available to buy, two in others' hands. She said that she therefore had a 1 in 3 chance of getting the card she needed, and getting 8 or 9 PP. Or, she could build two buildings, picking up 6 PP that way, for certain.
I thought a certain 6 PP was better than a 1 in 3 chance of having 8, and said so. But I wasn't counting the game's point totals, and this turned out to be very bad advice!
Anyway, Kelly went for the certain 6 -- and found to her horror after the game that the other card was the one she needed. It would have won her the game.
Rick had 13 in prestige cards, Ed 7, I 6 and Ben 4.
This made the finals:
You can see how lucky I was, winning despite myself. Firstly, I'd failed to explain a rule properly. Secondly, I'd recommended to Kelly that she take a certain 6 PP rather than possibly 8 PP. Thirdly, Rick took best work away from Ben in round 6 instead of from me in round 7.
Oh, well. Sometimes you get undeservedly lucky, I guess. I hope I'm a better rules-explainer next time!