(Anton, Eric, Rich, Dave)
Four of us were ready to play at 7pm. Although we expected more people to arrive, we decided to start a short game right away, counting on the fact that there would be enough for a second game before long. We've been playing Saint Petersburg every week recently, and each game provides new insights that make us eager to try again.
In this game, Anton snapped up an early Observatory and began to collect orange cards. We've been impressed by the potential of the Observatory, and in recent games every Observatory is taken immediately by the player holding the wooden token that grants the first action in the blue building card phase. We are now more aware of the dangers of a runaway orange card player, however, so we worked to deny Anton easy opportunities. This forced him to take or buy cards during the blue card phase just to make room for orange cards. He tended to take cards other than blue cards, so he didn't get a lot of VP in the early going, and he fell behind by 20 or 25 VP after a few rounds.
Dave got the other Observatory, but was short of cash early in the game and wasn't able to build up an income stream as quickly as he would have liked. He was hampered by a selection of green cards that always seemed to be on the expensive side when it was his turn to select, and when he paid 8 for Czar Peter, the green card that can use any upgrade, he wound up upgrading it to the Fur Shop, giving him more VP but not the cash boost he hoped for.
Rich and Eric played mixed strategies, taking green worker cards when available, together with a few nobles (Eric got a valuable Judge early on to supplement his cash production,) but also investing in buildings. Eric bought two Markets that he was able to upgrade to money generating blue cards, while Rich took several Toll Houses and upgraded one.
The game moved quickly as everyone focused on green cards. Eric stepped out of the green card race first and used his cash to buy three Hospitals over two rounds to pull well ahead of the pack. As we emptied both the green and the blue stack, Anton managed to increase his noble collection to 9. During the end game scoring he made up the huge gap separating him from the rest of the field, but it wasn't enough to give him the win.
Final scores: Eric 88 (5 nobles,) Anton 75 (9), Rich 73 (6), Dave 70 (5).
Eric's rating: 9. Our games are getting closer as we learn both how to reel in a leader and how to avoid some of the traps. It was nice to see that it's possible to win with few orange cards and without an Observatory.