THROUGH THE DESERT (Walt, Eric, Scott)
Amun-Re was still plugging along, so we set up Through the Desert. Eric's reputation in Through the Desert is similar to Rich's in Amun-Re, so when the random draw left him as third player (and the first to be able to play two camels) there was dark muttering from Walt and Scott.
Through the Desert has a light appearance, with adorable sherbet-colored camels, but it has multiple ways to gain points, and it's not easy to keep track of all of them at once. You score for connecting to water holes and oases. You also score for fencing off an area with a single herd of camels; if an opponent threatens to do so, you must be alert to stop it. Finally, there is a 10-point bonus for largest herd in each of the five colors. If you place 10 or 15 camels to earn this bonus, it's a fair reward, but if you scoop a 10-point chip for a small herd, it can be highway robbery.
We placed our initial camels and started grabbing 3-point water holes, but Eric soon placed 2 camels that blocked one of Walt's chains and set Eric up to begin enclosing a huge area. There's only two ways to stop such a threat. One way is to invade the area with your own chain, but the prior blocking move made that impossible. The other way is to end the game before the enclosure is complete. The game ends when the last camel in any of the five colors is taken. Walt and Scott began grabbing purple camels, and Eric had to chop the size of his enclosure drastically lest it be left hanging open at the end for no score. However, the side effect of all the purple camel draws were that Walt and Scott's heavy concentration in that color made 10-point bonuses in the other colors extremely cheap. Eric won three of the 10-point bonuses, two with herds only five camels in size.
Final scores: Eric 73, Walt 64, Scott 46.
Eric’s rating: 8. This game moves quickly and requires
150% of your attention at all times. It can be annoying
if you lose because the other players take actions that
hurt you more than everyone else, but we don’t tend to
have that problem at MVGA.