Less snark is my goal.
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I had played Lost Valley once before, but soon discovered we had missed a couple of rules that first time. The other players were Howard and Tommy who had played with the right rules twice and Paul who had no experience.
Tommy and Howard ran down the rules then advised us to stick close to other prospectors pointing to problems Howard had in their first two games and to a sentence in the strategy gude that said exactly that.
Howard and Paul started out one one side of the river while Tommy and I were on the other. We started off slowly, but Paul definitely didn't heed their advice. In the midgame I found that I was trailing badly, mostly because I hadn't bothered to get any cart, horse, or canoe and was struggling along with just what I could hold in my rucksack. Paul, on the other hand, had a pretty clear lead, at least in termes of tokens, although most of his were river gold. By that time, Paul was the only one on his side of the river and he was very far from the rest of us. The rest of us were hanging around 2 different sents of mountain mines with 3 tiles in each.
Paul kept going and eventually found the headwaters of the river. Howard had a horse and cart, as did Tommy who also had a fishing pole. I never bought any equipment. In the late game I made a dash to the trading post to try to correct my error. Howard continued to break new ground, eventually putting the last land tile in place and triggering the coming of winter. Paul had a good deal going, he was the only one at the lucrative (7 mountain gold chits) spring and he had a tile two away where he could get food and timber. He basically moved there on one turn, spent the next two turns getting a wood and a timber and then went for more gold before repeating.
The endgame started to take shape. I was pretty clearly out of the running as was Howard. Tommy saw that he needed to try to stop Paul and headed up to the spring from the other side, but he arrived one turn too late as the falls froze before his next turn.
Tallying the scores, Paul had 26, Tommy had 25, I had 19 and Howard had 15.
Next game I plan to get some equipment as early as possible. I see now that I was wasting a lot of turns by not having an ax, fishing pole, or cart at my disposal. Paul did defy the wisdom by going it alone, but he did it in a way that we should have been smart enough to avoid. While the 3 of us squabbled over 6 normal mines, he looted 1 big one and got a lot of river gold.