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Subject: How not to use a shovel rss

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Norbert Chan
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
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Players: Don Smith, Gary Bziuk, Dave VanDriel, Jean Jodoin and Norbert

Don had bought Thebes from the Sentry Box for around $50, and though it was a 4 player game, Don insisted on being altrusitic and just teaching us the rules, then watch us play.

Quick Synopsis: Each player is an archealogical explorer (cue the Indiana Jones music). Each person has an allotment of 52 weeks in a year to do tasks. Face up on the table at any one time are 4 cards with a certain amount of time to achieve the tasks: The cards are: 1) gain knowledge in one of five areas, 2) gain general knowledge, 3) gain an assistant, 4) hear rumors (one time specialized knowledge use), 5) gain more shovels, 5) car to speed up movement, 6) zeppelin to move anywhere on the board once, 7) congress cards worth VPs , 8) exhibitions and 9) card to dig more than once in a city in a year. The trick is that the cards are only available in certain cities, and one must take time to travel to that city, and then the player must also spend the time to required on the card to earn it. There are 5 cities where a player may dig for treasures, and each treasure bag has tokens ranging from 1 to 7 VPs, with half the tokens in the bag also worth 0 VPs. A player may only dig in a city once per year, and after a dig, the tokens worth VPs are kept face up, while the useless tokens are thrown back in the bag. A dig happens when a player has accumulated some knowledge in a city, then decides how many weeks to spend digging. The more knowledge and more weeks spent, the more tokens that can be drawn out. When one has accumulated enough tokens from different cities, these tokens can be shown at an exhibition to earn more VPs. With 4 players, the game lasts 2 years.

After a run through of the rules, I formulated a plan. It wasn't a good plan, by the way. I planned to spend most of my time getting knowledge first, then start digging (to save time from wandering back and forth from getting cards and digging), then use the tokens to show exhibitions. It was a perfect plan. I even asked Don if he wanted to team up with me to share in the glory, but Don presciently declined.

Gary was the first to accumulate 5 or 6 knowledge in blue, and he spent 5/6 weeks to get 5 pulls out of the blue bag, drawing a 5, 3 and 3 VP tokens, plus a knowledge token in green, which was an excellent draw. Plus he was the first one there, so he got the 1 VP bonus. Jean tried 4 pulls in the purple city and got 0 VPs. I laughed out loud, and so did everyone else, but I would be the one to regret it the most. Gary would show us the way by travelling to 3 of the cities, and getting the 1 pt bonus to dig first, even by spending 0 weeks to do 0 digs. I had accumulated specialized knowledge all across 5 cities, and at the end of year 1, put in a dig in the yellow city, where I had 9 knowledge. With 6 pulls, I was able to get 2, 3 and 4 VP tokens, which wasn't bad. Dave was the one concentrating on congress cards, and that strategy appeared to be working. Dave was also the first one in red, getting a 5 VP and 2 VP token in red with 5 pulls.

In year 2, I stayed in the dig cities, digging in yellow again, to earn another 6 pts in 3 tokens. That's when my luck ran out. I went to the green city, and with 9 pulls only extracted two 2 VP tokens! In the blue city, with 6 pulls, I only got a 1 VP token (but that had picked through twice by Gary), in the red city, I got a 3VP token with 7 pulls (after getting the 3 VP token in the first pull, I remarked "Anything after this is a bonus". After I got nothing after that, Don said "You jinxed yourself". ) I asked Don if he was sure if he didn't want to advise me, shook his head vigorously, and said he would have played differently than all of us. With 8 knowledge left, I despondently took 8 pulls out of the orange city, maybe got one or two VP tokens, had everyone laugh at me, dragged my treasures to London between my legs to show one last exhibition, and mercifully the game ended. I dryly asked if we could play another year. Everyone politely declined.

Scores:
Gary 57 (39 VPs in tokens, 9 in exhibitions, 1 congress, 8 majority)
Jean 54 (40 VPs in tokens, 1 congress, 13 majority)
Dave 53 (29 VPs in tokens, 21 congress, 3 majority)
Norbert 36 ( 27 VPs in tokens, 5 exhibitions, 1 congress, 3 majority).

I had spent the most time digging, but was not rewarded proportionately. I think part of my problem was that in the city where I did go first into the bag, I got decent results. So I think the key is to try and be first, and spend a lot of effort in the first dig, before it becomes even more diluted. I think if I were to play this again (I got the sense that everyone else thought it was too much luck driven, so it is likely this game won't be played again), I would concentrate in two cities, and try to get some congress cards.
 
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R. N. Dominick
United States
Cincinnati
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Norbert Chan wrote:
Gary would show us the way by travelling to 3 of the cities, and getting the 1 pt bonus to dig first, even by spending 0 weeks to do 0 digs.

This is not allowed; you must choose a number of weeks listed on the wheel ('0' not being a choice) and that number of weeks must result in a pull of at least one chit ("such that the red number is greater than 0", say the rules).
 
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Norbert Chan
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
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Great, thanks for the rules clarification. We looked it up when Gary did not pull a chit to claim the 1 pt first person bonus, but did not find anything. Now we know the proper rules.
 
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Krisse Holm
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Wicked that Gary won by three points, just the points that he got from the three cities and not digging
 
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