Two players: Mechanical Polania Republic vs. Industrial Nordic Kingdom
• Building bonus: we interpreted the encounter building bonus as for buildings on encounter spaces, rather than adjacent to. Since we realized this at the end of the game, we scored according to our original interpretation.
• Encounters: We started play under the false impression that any figure could have encounters, rather than just heroes. We realized this error after we had each had one encounter with a worker, so we called it even and used heroes for further encounters.
• First Player: We chose the first player randomly (Polania), rather than going with the smaller number on the player board. I don't know for certain that this resulted in the wrong first player, but I suspect it did.
Polania took advantage of his hinterlands encounter and Meander to gain both a mech (speed) and a mine on the second turn (due to a rules mistake). He easily beat Nordic to the factory, taking the card that allowed him to trade a popularity for either a mech or a building (and simultaneously completing both objectives).
Nordic took an early focus on workers, producing additional workers, using both his initial encounter and early produce actions to add workers. He passed on the chance to get his full set of workers out to duck the extra cost that would add to the Produce action. He spread his workers wide using Swim, then used one of the central area workers to produce a Mech that he used to route Polania's leader, in order to slow Polania's gathering of encounters.
Polania focused on one star at a time, steadily gaining objective, building, worker, mech, and enlist stars. He focused on moving workers south and keeping his leader moving to get double encounters. His power and popularity were fairly stagnant.
Nordic took a more scattered approach, increasing everything slowly, but not maxing anything out. He got most of his workers out earlier and spread them wider, generating more resources. While he produced more resources, he was also spending more due to a lack of upgrades and no factory card.
There was no combat mid-game.
Despite having a 5-1 lead on stars, Polania was concerned that the points were too close to safely end the game. Polania was a bracket behind on popularity, a fraction of the resouces, and a few less territories. Looking for a way to score more points, Polania identified a territory adjacent to the Nordic base that contained only 9 resources and a mill. Reasoning that taking and holding those resources could swing the game, he moved Anna to the lake near the Nordic territories (using the lower factory action).
Seeing this as an obviously aggressive move, Nordic used three of the resources from the hex in question to build a mech on the ore space that lay adjacent to the lake. Given Nordic's power advantage, a one-on-one fight was unlikely to go well for Polania. What Nordic did not realize was that 3 of Polania's mechs were on tunnels. Polania moved two of the Mechs plus Anna into the territory on the next turn. Both players used the maximum available power and cards, resulting in a 17-13 win for Polania. This proved pyrrhic for Polania though, as there were no resources in the territory, so only the minimum points changed hands before his sixth star (for winning a combat) ended the game.
Nordic's popularity advantage combined with his territories and resources made for a fair score, but having only completed a single star robbed him of a lot of points. Nordic's final score was 52.
Polania decided early to trade popularity for mechs and buildings (using his factory card), so it's no surprise that he never got out of the first bracket. As it turns out, taking a territory from Nordic on the final turn turned out to be the deciding move of the game, as Polania's final score was 54.
• Nordic failed to reveal their completed objective card before the end of the game. He literally just forgot that they existed. If he had done so, he would have had another star and would have won.
• Polania accidentally ended the game by winning a battle, causing his last star to be placed.
Thanks for the concise and informative session report! After reading so many threads about optimal strategy and intricate balance issues, it's heartening to know that some people are still just learning their way around and making the same basic mistakes that I am.
I've only played solo so far (playing as two separate factions each time - haven't tried to decipher the Automa rules yet, but I will.) My concern with Scythe is that it really seems like it's going to take 5 to 10 plays before I feel like I've even got basic strategy in mind, and not just feeling like I'm flailing around semi-randomly. In the game group I play with most often, we rarely focus on a single game at a time. They're much more into variety, with 3 or 4 games played each week, and then it might be months until any of them get repeated, except for some popular fillers and 30-minute social/deduction games. So maybe I could bring Scythe and get it to the table, but unless two or three others in the group are particularly enthused about it on their first play, it could be a LONG time before it gets played enough that anyone is really playing well. And Scythe seems like a game that gets a lot more fun after you've gotten over the learning curve and can play it intelligently.