Game: Princes of the Renaissance
Players: David, Hensley, Scott, Geoff, Aron
This was my 3rd game of PotR. Almost everyone else had played at least once before, so I didn't have to explain the rules -- though I did clarify some sections that were vague to the others.
I drew (one of) the families that reduces condottiere bids. Scott grabbed the family with +1 artillery (which, IMO, is one of the weakest families -- unless, of course, you manage to get all the artillery). Unfortunately, I can't remember what families the other players chose.
The game started in earnest. Scott immediately went into his tried and true strategy: amassing a huge army. Hensley appeared to focusing on a large military as well... with an emphasis on heavy attack. I was planning on using a "minimal army" strategy (1 crossbow), and fighting for the cities that I wanted to lose (when necessary). Geoff also adopted a minimal army strategy, but he was using 2 or 3 troop tiles. Flanagan was on the "small army" side of things as well, but I can't remember his exact troop composition.
During this game, I decided that I would let other players invest in city tiles first. I would then examine who was invested into which cities, and decide if it was worth my time to invest as well. I knew that Geoff and Hensley would probably be the toughest players, so I wanted to "mimic" their purchases -- and, ideally, gain superiority in the cities that they were invested in.
Flanagan, however, made the mistake that most "green" PotR players do: he invested in cities early, and without support. Being the only player invested in a particular city can be extremely difficult... generally, you make a very convenient target for wars, and it's tough to raise a city's status by yourself. Anyway, Flanagan immediately began gobbling up Naples city tiles -- and no one else wanted to get involved.
Hensley and Geoff both invested into Milan. At that point, I decided that I should probably get in on the Milan action as well. I used my next handful of auctions to secure 2 Milan tiles.
The first decade saw the full allotment of allowable wars. During the carnage, Venice catapulted to the top of the status track. This didn't concern me too much, since Flanagan was the only person invested into Venice w/ one tile. Naples and Florence were hammered into the gutter... which, again, didn't bother me too much. Milan, which I was invested in, was hovering around 6 or 7 on the status track with Rome.
Hensley, and Scott, as the major armies were splitting laurels -- which was just fine with me. The major weakness of a minimalistic army strategy is that it tends to give away laurels. If you give enough laurels away, to one person, you can effectively hand them the game. As long as they were splitting victories, I wasn't too concerned.
During the 2nd decade, I got a little more pro-active by starting wars myself. My intention was to -- slowly -- move Milan up the status track. I needed it to be in a position where I could bump it to first place w/o too much effort, but I didn't want it to get too high and attract unnecessary attention (w/ me being the majority holder in Milan).
It was during this point that Geoff and Hensley decided to invest in Florence. With a starting bid of 6 gold, it would be very cheap to get into. As usual, I used some of my actions to gain superiority (2 tiles) in Florence, while Geoff and Hensley each possessed one.
Unfortunately, during the 2nd decade, Hensley started amassing more than his fair share of laurels. Scott was, apparently, content to allow his troops to sit idle. This was definitely his mistake... you HAVE TO win wars if you're adopting a heavy military strategy. I decided that, in an effort to curb Hensley's victories, that I would try and rush the decade to a close by auctioning off event tiles.
The 2nd decade came to a close, and the 3rd began with more bloodshed. My to my dismay, Hensley managed to grab yet another laurel -- giving him his 6th or 7th. Scott didn't seem to care, which totally mystified me. Was he hoping to win with 3 laurels and 2 city tiles? When any player accumulates 6+ laurels, you have to be concerned that they're going to be the potential winner -- especially if they're invested in higher status cities (which Hensley was).
Mid/late into the 3rd decade, Rome became somewhat popular with the others. I opted to purchase a tile as well. At this point I was invested into the top 3 cities (2 Milan, 2 Florence, 1 Rome). Needless to say, I needed Milan or Florence to finish in first place, and, hopefully, the other to finish 2nd. It was at this point that I made a crucial mistake. I put the pope up for auction -- I was hoping to get it dirt cheap (which I did... for 1 influence). Unfortunately, what I really needed to do was purchase a 3rd Milan or Florence tile. The last remaining event tiles were auctioned off, and the decade closed before I was ready for it. Florence finished in 1st place, Milan in 2nd... and much to my horror, Rome finished 2nd to last... and Hensley grabbed his 8th laurel in the process.
At this point I was merely hoping to take 2nd place. Unfortunately, I didn't. Final scores (and ratings):
Hensley 58 (9)
Geoff 48 (7)
David 47 (8)
Aron 32 (6)
Scott 17 (6)