Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
This was a game that I had heard interesting things about and wanted to try. Player order was Mark, Craig and myself and we learned the rules from Ben who was kind enough to give us a summary. In round 1, we recruited an extra person, while Craig built a card with an extra bed to allow him more actions. I built a card that let me recruit a worker without them being tired. This seems powerful, but after I got my 4th bed, I still only had 4 workers available at any one time. This just gives me some flexibility in exhausting workers for rolling dice when exploring.
Craig began concentrating on getting buildings with the different goods. Mark and I were doing most of the exploring to get a feel of the game. Mark was able to gain the most reputation this way, while I would gain a smattering of coins and goods. Craig was able to build up slowly his different goods.
I had the most recruited people, and was basically hoping the card that gave 2 VP per villager would pay off. Craig had collected around 4 potions, and when he had pushed himself up to 5 beds, the potions were not required.
I continued to explore, right up to the end of the game. I earned $5 for my last explore but had no more workers to take advantage and build with the money, so I guess you could consider that poor planning. But Craig had gotten 6 different goods, so he was hitting the 4 VP per good of that type level, whereas I think I had 4 different goods, and not much of them either. Craig built the building that gives you 4 VP and 2 VP per potion to win easily.
Craig 56 (31 advancement, 7 building, 16 card bonus, 2 reputation),
Mark 44 (15 advancement, 9 building, 13 card bonus, 7 reputation),
Norbert 42 (9 advancement, 6 building, 24 card bonus, 3 reputation).
Craig's winning tableau, with 6 different goods scoring 31 pts.
I had a lot of fun playing this game, especially doing the explore action. It’s sort of like going on an adventure and getting some choices. We all enjoyed the game, and then I started to wonder if our gaming group would like this game. I think to win, you do have to go with the diversity of goods. The exploring seems a bit random in terms of the reward, and the difficulty, so it is hard to plan around, but at the same time, that is the fun part of the game. So in order to win, you really have to disciplined with the explore actions. So I am looking forward to more plays with this game.
Norbert Chan wrote:
I think to win, you do have to go with the diversity of goods. The exploring seems a bit random in terms of the reward, and the difficulty, so it is hard to plan around, but at the same time, that is the fun part of the game. So in order to win, you really have to disciplined with the explore actions.
You don't have to win with diversity of goods, but it certainly helps. I have seen games won because a player was able to acquire two of the bonus buildings along with a handful of regular buildings that also scored points. You also can't predict which resource buildings are going to come out on any given game. I've seen some multi-resource wins acquired via exploring and some multi-resource wins acquired via buildings. Luck plays a hand in either strategy. Blending the two is valid as well. The other thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to place resources immediately. In one game I picked up a building that generated a fish every round, but I didn't place them on the scoring track until the end of the game. Putting seven tokens on the 7VP was a bigger boon than the person who was putting one or two tokens on their 8VP.
Having said all that, A&B is one of the few games that I don't get overly competitive about. I enjoy the story telling aspect more than I enjoy the scoring/strategy aspect. Similarly, I remember losing one game by four points where my opponent acquired a new resource from his last explore whereas I only got a couple of coins from mine. It might not be a good game for a heavy strategy/open information gamer where that kind of luck is going to bother them.
I have A&B and have played it twice. I absolutely love it and while I have won both times, the second time by one point,I really don't care if I win or lose. It pretty much has all my favorite mechanics wrapped into one: City building, exploring, worker placement, and resource management (to an extent) plus I love the art. The last game we played very little resource buildings came up so it forced us into different strategies. One where exploring was the best way to get resources but the buildings that did come up offered other bonuses. It was quite enjoyable and a completely different feel from our first game. Looking forward to many more games.