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Subject: In-Order City Layout Play report rss

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Justin Dugger

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Played the in-order city layout (referenced on the final page of the rules booklet) for the first time last night, and won a 3p game!

At first glance, the board seemed pretty slow -- the places you get goods are very far away from where you spend them for rubies, and the places you get money aren't particularly close to the Gemstone Dealer. I went first as blue, followed by green then yellow.

My bonus card of 1 free good seemed weak, but I figured I could probably get a mix of cash and goods via the Teahouse and Post Office for a wagon extension and a quick early ruby at the Sultan's Palace. Green takes an unconventional opening move to the Police Station send his nephew to a Warehouse, setting him up for an early mosque tile. Yellow hits up a Warehouse. Unfortunately, I roll snake eyes and have to hit the Post Office twice. I forget what green was up to but yellow goes after some additional bonus cards.

After I get my first cart extension, it dawns on me that this layout will be slow to the first ruby, but quite explosive endgame. I make a plan to march down the warehouses, hitting the smuggler as often as possible for blue goods. Meanwhile my opponents are pushing cart sizes up to max, but only yellow has the red mosque tile to make Teahouse effective for himself.

I ended up 1 assistant short of hitting all 3 Warehouses and have to stop at the fountain, but Police Station isn't too far off from the mosques, allowing me to get 4 mosque tiles and 2 rubies over 4 turns while green and yellow sell into the markets. With 8 goods left, I turn in 5 at the Sultan's Palace for a ruby,, then bounce to the Post Office again for 2 more goods, and bounce back to the sultan's palace turning in my goods and bonus card for a 4th ruby. At this point green and yellow have 1 ruby from the Wainwright, and yellow remarks that I'm way out there, but I have a long ways to get to my 5th ruby.

I point out that I need less than additional lira for my last ruby, and he realizes I'm in good shape to get the wainwright ruby. By now green has run themselves a bit low on cash with the yellow mosque tile, but yellow has a good shot at a mosque ruby, a number of bonus cards and a huge pile of cash. At one point I mistakenly go for the Post Office instead of the Teahouse, not sure what I was thinking. After I grab my final ruby, yellow reveals a 2x Gemstone Dealer bonus card, and spends the final turn of the game converting his entire bank for his 4th and 6th rubies. Fortunately I have 1 coin to his zero, so I skate on to victory via a single coin.

Board Analysis
On any given board there seems to be a couple of strong paths, and thus in a 3p game the winner feels like it's often determined by who goes down the road less traveled. This time, yellow and green report they didn't feel too blocked, and I don't think anyone ever encountered another player.

The smuggler really helped me out here, as I was able to trade away several goods found at the Post Office and even a few lira for blue goods. This city layout group the most common smuggler dice rolls together, which makes it easier to pull this off. Yellow was able to grab several bonus cards from the governor, for example.

Only 1 out of the 4 mosque tiles were really helpful late game: the red mosque dice rolling ability. Late game I made a mistake going to the Post Office, as 5 lira is a minimum payoff with the red mosque tile, while the Post Office maxes out at 4 -- I think I only got 3 from it.

Overall my strategy felt somewhat fragile; with only one cart extension, if opponents deny access to a 2 & 3 good tile while I run the warehouse street, that's a huge tempo hit to go back to the wainwright and then the warehouse again. Fortunately, neither broke away from the pattern until it was too late, though I had to watch their resource accumulation before I committed too hard to the strategy. At one point I elected not to encounter the smuggler because it could wander towards green or yellow's path, giving them the opportunity for goods diversity.

Pacing wise, I think the game was over by turn 19 or so. I don't see any published averages or data to determine whether that was fast or slow. Going for a 4th extension early would probably be wiser, as you can't get cut out of the mosque rubies, you acquire 3 more resources, and probably avoid the fountain altogether. It also gives some more flexibility about when to hit the Sultan's Palace vs Mosques, whereas I had to hit all mosques first.
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