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Subject: Session Report rss

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Jonathan Degann
United States
Tarzana
United States
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What a treat - to be able to get a big-ass 3.5 hour game on the table during a Wednesday! This just never happens because some of our group just will not play a long game during a weekly session. Tim had long been interested in playing it, I'm always up for a big meaty game, and we needed something that could handle 5 players.

I'm starting to acknowledge Dave's comment that it is not an economic game, it is more about "timing" when to take the lead. I'll rephrase that as a flaw: The game intends to be an economic game. However, its mechanism of avoiding a runaway leader, by giving advantages to trailing players, ends up dominating the game. Consequently, so much of it becomes about manipulating these features to your advantage.

Our game was a little unusual in that some good mid level plants came out early. I played a strategy of trying to avoid buying plants which would not last me a long time. It worked in getting me to an early lead when I leapfrogged other players by holding out for a plant in the low 20's while others were buying plants in the teens.

Eventually, people started catching up. When it was time to buy a new plant, "all the good ones were taken", so I allowed myself to gradually slip to 4th place, hoping that it would give me an advantage in future auctions. Instead, crappy plants came out, round after round. I kept holding off, letting people get ahead, and seeing cities that I "should have" been connecting to (but held off from) being taken away from me. But I stayed the course.

In Step 3, I finally got a decent plant, but not one big enough to win with, and the best nearby cities were now expensive or unavailable. Instead of going for the nearby cities, I went the long way into a corner of the board that only Mike had developed. My extra investment in getting out there helped me expand inexpensively.

During the end game, the final plants ended up fetching huge bidding wars, which I actively fueled. Time after time, the bids got too rich and I dropped out. This is what won me the game. While it came a bit late, I was able to get my last plant "at cost", while my opponents had exhausted their resources bidding for their last plants. All the turns I was just "waiting things out" enabled me to build up a big war chest, and I connected a huge quantity of cities. Subsequently, I triggered the game end, while my opponents with the better plants could not afford to keep up with me in connections.

We had a circumstance come up which I had never considered. With 5 players, it takes 18 cities to trigger game end. It is possible to deliberately trigger the game end and win the game, even though you can't supply all 18 cities! I could have done this - but it took others to point it out to me. Had I connected to 18 cities in an earlier turn, I'd have been able to supply 17 of them, but since nobody else connected to 17, I'd have won.
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