Played A&B today with my two brothers. I have played it once before 2p with one of my brothers; the other had never played before. Play order was Green (who had played the one game before), Brown (me), and White (never played).
Starting tableau had like no beds available except for one expensive building below ground. I figured this would be interesting.
Green started off buying the Key building that lets you recruit villagers to ready instead of exhausted which also grants rerolls on your explore actions. I reckoned this meant he was going for an explore strategy-- basically trying the strategy I had used when I played-- and that is more or less what he did.
I started off doing Labor for the cider. I have found that being aggressive going after the cider is a pretty good idea if you can fit it into your strategy.
I can't recall White's opening move, but White eventually cottoned onto the strategy of recruiting loads of villagers and buying the building that gives 2vp per villager. Green had been hoping to pick that one up but White snagged it.
My second move I bought the villager who looks like a boar and gives a bonus on building buildings. Or a discount, I guess. I figure when you buy something like that, might as well abuse it, so I bought a lot of high-cost buildings with VPs over the course of the game, including the $12 building that gives 2 VPs per ore/potion and the $11 building that gives 1 VP per cider/fish/shroomsomething else I forget, and several straight VP buildings. The $11 was my final purchase of the game after amassing a few ciders and fish. I ended the game with zero coins, so that discount definitely helped.
Only did two explores all game, but made em count by sending three people on each journey. Other players both did four explores each, I believe.
On the last round of the game, Green got four coins from an explore which was exactly enough to get the $17 building that gives 12 VPs plus two per paper/amethyst (of which he had two each). I thought that would win him the game but not quite. Final scores...
Brown - 18 adv + 8 bldgs + 3 rep + 31 bldg bonus = 60
Green - 23 adv + 8 bldgs + 2 rep + 26 bldg bonus = 59
White - 8 adv + 8 bldgs + 8 rep + 25 bldg bonus = 49
Was very close; different explore results, for example, could easily have altered the outcome. Then again, Green got really lucky on that last explore, getting exactly enough coins to get the big $17 building. And White made a few rookie mistakes. So I think the final score was fair. If the game had lasted one more turn though, Green would probably have won with his greater income and more numerous villagers.
Both my brothers loved the game a lot; it was great fun reading off the explore stories in silly or dramatic voices. In fact White asked if it is still available to buy. I believe so, but I got it off Kickstarter last year, so I don't know how much longer it will still be available. KS games don't always get reprinted once the initial print run sells, so definitely pull the trigger if you are thinking about it. It is a really fun game.
I enjoyed your session report. Definitely agree that this game is very enjoyable. I have not tried going whole hog on an above ground strategy but will have to give it a shot.
If you get into the story telling aspect here is one thing that you might enjoy trying. We have found it a lot of fun to improvise a resolution story when the encounter book does not provide one (which is more often than not). So instead of "you get one coin and a mushroom" we will improvise a brief resolution story that fits with the first part of the encounter and provides the given reward.