With all of the buzz surrounding the Taj Mahal reprint, I decided to dust off my copy and bring it in for our lunch session.
Taj was a favorite of ours (even though we played it wrong for months) but one we hadn't played in a while. After a quick rules review we were off and bidding.
My initial hand provided me with a few Yellow Ladies and so I planned on winning the +2 card in the early rounds and using it often, which I did, but that was also my downfall in a way.
Leroy won the first province and I placed on palace and took the Yellow Lady and placed a palace on a gems chit. James won two tokens and placed two palaces. My earning a gem early set prompted me to try and collect gems put Leroy and I on a collision course later in the game.
James won the second province, I was able to secure the +2 card and Leroy did played a couple of palaces. After the second round we were bunched around 4 and 5 points. I felt pretty good having the +2 card but was concerned over not having many elephants.
The next few rounds passed with me playing a card with my +2 and sprinting out to a decent lead. However, playing the +2 kept me from dropping early and drawing the extra card. James and Leroy traded provinces. James was doing a good job of collecting tea provinces while Leroy had a few gems and rice.
I finally won a province around 6 or 7 but it took too many cards, plus Leroy and I battled over it after James had bowed out. I still held a slim lead but it was fast evaporating. James had built a nice network, really timing his wins well for both palace placement and winning the right commodities in the provinces. James passed me and took a sizable lead in rounds 7-8-9 while Leroy closed in as well.
The game was truly over by the 10th round, another province battle between Leroy and myself that I was able to win. I closed to within a point of James but was essentially out of cards. James won round 11 pretty handily, had a 9 point connection plus scored 6 and 5 via commodities bonus and left Leroy and I in the dust.
We opted not to play the 12th round as the game was decided and our lunch hour was over. James was the clear winner, I was in a pretty good second but Leroy did have a decent hand for the final round and may have been able to tie or pass me. We tied for second.
James 58 Me and Leroy 45ish