Michael Van Biesbrouck
Julie and Paul own this game and apparently often play two-player. Paul explained the rules to me and Russ supplied a number of surprising corrections. A couple responses to my questions caused more rule book consultations. It seems likely that we ended up playing by the rules.
During the first phase our scores were tightly packed. I believe that Julie was in last place. She had commented that the cards she played during that phase were normally ones that were saved for later.
The second phase separated our scores, giving about 10 points between each of us with Julie in the lead, followed by Paul, myself and finally Russ. In this phase a bad play on my part greatly enriched Paul and Russ. (I was to Julie's left so she didn't get a chance to take advantage of it.) Most of the board was locked in at this point.
In the final phase I found that other players' knights blocked me from many useful moves, especially Julie's. (Paul also found that she had taken his moves. Russ complained that I was ahead of him to several useful places, but I had started out for them or created the opportunities a move ahead of time.) I was able to place a piece in every castle but never higher than anyone else, excepting a tiny castle worth 4 points to me. After Julie's final move Paul saw that Julie had left him few options and calculated that he would be 3 points behind her. Given my choice of two cards I decided to use the 7 action card. I could give the win to Paul using my remaining stack but not do anything for myself. Julie had baked cookies whereas Paul hadn't really gotten in my way, so it was a toss-up between them and I elected to take my actions as points. Russ wasted two actions with his remaining stack and took three points. Paul had not calculated action point conversion into his final score, so he was able to get the 3 points he needed to tie Julie from action points. Since ties are not allowed, he moved his score marked one more spot and won the game.