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Subject: First time for all four players rss

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John Heder
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Last night four of us played a game of Hacienda on a copy one of us had recently acquired. None of us had played the game and only one had read through the rules - Rayito. He explained the rules to the rest of us. the other players were Emily and Reed. Reed was chosen to be the first player with Emily as second, me third and Rayito last to Reed's right.

We all started out playing in our own little areas at first. Reed was off to one side, Emily off to the other and Rayito and I in the middle on opposite sides.

Reed continued to build up his mass of land and then chain a string of bulls to a couple different markets. Rayito, Emily and I each got a couple land chains going on, but Rayito was a little more thoughtful on animal placement and got to one more market and put in a 3 space watering hole around which he had allready surrounded all but one space.

Then before I was really aware of it, the first round was over and we scored. I connected to only three markets - this could easily have been 4 markets (for an additional 4 points) had I remembered that that was an important part of scoring, and I had only two points for being next to watering holes. What got me a few more points was my 30 pesos (three points) and 2 land chains. Each were over three tiles long - 9 to 11 total in the first round. I ended up in last place after the first scoring. Reed had one very large land chain, 3 markets and had some contact with some watering holes. Emily had 2 medium sized land chains several watering hole points and 2 or 3 markets. Ray had a lot of watering hole points and had connected to four markets and one good sized land chain and one small land chain that might not have gotten him any points. He ended the round in the lead by atleast 4 or 5 points - about 10 points ahead of me.

During the second round I decided I wanted to do a few things - get to more markets, build a hacienda, and dig some wattering holes. I succeeded at 2 of these three things. I was not able to build any watering holes. I increased my larger land chain by 2 or 3 tiles - located on one side of the middle of the board to allow me to get to 2 more markets on Reeds side of the board and connected to 2 more markets on the opposite side of the board. This brought me up to 7 markets. I was able to buy one hacienda for my large land chain - 8 or 9 total I believe, but was unable to get any more watering hole points. Not because I couldn't afford one (I ended with at least 50 pesos - 5 points), but because I had to use my actions to do other things.

Reed was able to buy 2 watering holes and 2 haciendas for lots of points. Ray bought another watering hole, and Emily kind of got shut out of a few things - partially because of some of my actions, but was still able to buy a watering hole.

At the end of the game I was not very hopeful for my chances. I had ended the first scoring round in last place and I still only had two watering hole points while everybody else was getting 10 or more. I only had one hacienda which got me 8 or 9 points. I did have 7 markets and 5 points for money, and 26 points for my two land chains.

At game end I had 99 points. Reed was at 98 and Emily was somewhere behind him. Ray had moved to 105 or 106 to win the game.

A few things I feel I could have done differently are the following:

1. My last turn in the first round I spent getting a bit more money when I could have connected to one more market with only one animal card - this would have earned me 3 or 4 more points.
2. Buy a watering hole or two.
3. Bought the face up cards. I bought most of my cards face down to not let the ohter players know what animals I might be trying to collect and to save a little money. This turned out to be unnecessary as usually the animals I could have bought face up were just as usefull as the ones I got face down, and the few pesos I saved were probably not enough to really make a difference. Buying the face up cards would have allowed me to plan a little more effectively.

All in all, I think we all enjoyed the game and would like to play again.
 
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To clarify this post, the game was played on the dog-bone/symmetrical side of the board.

I don't think I explained the asymetrical set-up on the other side of the board as I was anxious to get through the rules and into playing the game.
 
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John Heder
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Until now, I was unaware that there was another side to the board.
 
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Reed Ethington
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I also didn't realize there was another side of the board - we'll have to try that at our next gaming session. Overall it was a good game, but I think we all missed some important strategy points that will make it more interesting next time. The other players seemed worried about me because I had a giant land chain combined with a long animal chain, but as it turns out that just provides a lot of money, which doesn't provide many points relative to other possible actions. Late in the game I realized that it would have been better to focus on conecting to multiple markets rather than earning money. I also wished that I'd purchased a watering hole the first round instead of extending my land chain. Extending the land chain generated 4 extra points over the 2 scoring rounds and probably earned me an extra 5 pesos, whereas a watering hole would have given me 4-6 points each scoring round.
 
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Brad Miller
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Just a note:

A Giant land chain does score you points. A giant animal chain does not. Not sure which you meant, just wanted to make sure you had that right.
 
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We did not score animal chains (other than indirectly for having haciendas and proximity to water, etc.)
 
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