James had the next pick of games. He professed a desire to try a new one; I lobbied hard for I'm the Boss. I figured it would be more fun with five of us together, and also that the easily understandable rules would set well with two new players, James and Damon.
It took a little while to get the hang of things, but after the first few negotiations, James and Damon seemed to understand about 80% of it. Damon eventually proved he understood it better than anyone else.
As with Samarkand, I'd previously made some mental notes as to a new strategy to try for my next game of I'm the Boss. Basically, I would draw cards when landing on the "bad" squares. I would open negotiations if I had a not-so-good square, with the intention of depleting my opponent's cards rather than sealing the deal. Only on the really lucrative squares would I open up the negotiations and actually try to complete the transaction.
Well, I blew it from the get-go, and put myself in a bad position from which I never dug out. I opened up negotiations on a not-so-good deal, and for some foolish reason allowed myself to give up a lot of cards in the process. It was the other hands I'd intended to deplete rather than my own, but this game can seduce you -- you think, "hmm. . . it really makes sense for me to play this card right now" -- even though the accumulated effect of doing so is not in your interest.
Ben started out well in a few of the smaller deals. I was obviously in a hole. It seemed to me that both Damon and James were doing all right.
Around the middle game, Ed seemed to be doing better, whereas Ben started to fall back.
It seemed to me as though players were offering very generous terms to one another -- James and Damon particularly. But it clearly proved not to be such a bad ploy, as the group seemed happy to let people walk away with a deal that didn't appear to be so lucrative. Do that enough times, the bucks start to add up for you.
Towards the end of the game, some key negotiations involved Ed, Damon and Ben. I foiled one deal of theirs, but wasn't able to foil the next.
When the game ended, we all totaled up. It hadn't been clear who of us was going to win -- but apparently it had been clear to one very diabolical fellow -- Damon.
Damon crushed all of us. And he did it with one consistent strategy. He drew cards every time it was his turn, and he tried to get in on every deal, even with less than perfect terms. He always had a lot of cards because he never tried to set up negotiations. He let others forego cards to do that, and he profited a little bit every time they did.
I clearly learned a lesson this time around -- one has to be patient in this game, especially in the early going. Very important to build up your hand and leave yourself some options. I knew that at a cerebral level going in, but impulse got the better of me.
Damon was so sly in running away with the game that he received a lot of verbal abuse for the rest of the day. We noted that he had both an MBA degree and a law degree, which we took as good training to fleece us all.
Hopefully, we'll all be a little wiser next time around.