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Subject: Session Report rss

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Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
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(Rich, Lisa, Eric)

Anton had to leave, so the Alhambra players moved on to Hansa, the Baltic Sea trading game from Michael Schacht. Hansa is a quick little game that offers some deceptively hard choices. Lisa hadn't played Hansa before, so we went over the rules and then started. In the initial set-up, Lisa placed market stalls in Danzig, Aalborg and out-of-the-way Lubeck. Eric started in Tonsberg, Stockholm and Kalmar while Rich started in Reval, Aalborg and Kalmar. The initial placements are tricky; you don't want to concentrate so much in one area of the board that you can find the boat far away, but there are several choke points on the board, and all three players had placed their stalls so that they'd never have to sail too far for a sale.

Rich moved first, moving the boat in the west and picking up some goods. Eric picked up some free goods along the northern track and used them to lay additional markets. Lisa picked up the mechanism quickly (it's a bit puzzling your first time) and made some early sales. Rich made some sales next. Eric trailed, but he had spent time preparing for future growth and building up an income source. His first sale was of four orange chips with a total of 10 barrels on them for 14 VP. He repeated this success later on, selling four chips once again and maximizing the efficiency of his market usage.

Like most new players, Lisa was reluctant to pay for re-stocking (why not let someone else make the charitable contribution?) This left the board with meager pickings for Rich, who sat to Lisa's left. Rich and Eric did most of the re-stocking, helping Eric, who sat to Rich's left. When I first played Hansa I tried to avoid paying to re-stock, but I now look for favorable opportunities to re-stock.

By mid-game Eric had a much bigger pile of sold goods chips than his opponents. Rich and Lisa began to place market stalls to cut into Eric's majorities and increase their city presence, but it was too little too late.

Final scores:

       Chip  Brls  City  Total
       ----   ----   ----   ----
Eric  14 + 30 + 14 = 58
Rich 11 + 25 + 14 = 50
Lisa   8 + 17 + 14 = 39

Eric's rating: 8. People say this game has no build-up; it's all the same. This may be true, but it takes less than an hour so it's not a problem for me. You need to think about which turns will be big turns and which turns will be devoted to saving money for the next turn, and you need to watch those market stalls carefully, especially in the early going.
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