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Subject: 3player Session rss

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Thomas P. Felder
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Yesterday, we played The Pillars of the Earth. It was the first play for each of us.

Setting everything up gave already a good impression on what to expect. The fact that the craftsmen where sorted into 6 piles referring to the 6 rounds of play suggested that they would become more profitable later on, which was said in the rulebook, too.
We went through the rules once and started then to play, which worked out well due to the amount game play is being assisted by the marvellous board and other playing aids.
The only thing we did wrong (I think) is that as there is an action for the master builder to get the first player advantage, we thought this privilege stays with the player being in starting position as long as nobody takes it away from him. This left me constantly in the last position to choose from the 2 craftsmen and 7 ressource cards in display, a considerable disadvantage.

Ina, thanks to our misinterpretation being always first player, had throughout the game bad luck when it came to draw the master builders: Either she draw her own first without having the amount to pay for the action or it came last, thus she was never able to get the Kings metal, even she used her veto right to let her own piece fall back into the bag every round.
In between have been drawn always the masters of Jens or me - so, after midgame, Jens and I where beginning to widen the gap between us and her, regarding VPs.

In a three player game nothing get's overcrowded, so with Jens going for wood and the wood-->gold carpenter, having always enough money, I could use the potter to make some decent VPs on my own. I also aquired the tool maker and a metal in the 1st round, giving me at least some gold each round, and later the guy giving you 1 sand per round, a good thing for my potter.
Ina tried this and that, never getting enough gold, hinderd by the fact that sometimes we took away master builder options she did count on away from her with her master builders almost always being placed last, thus starting to fall behind.

Throughout the game, we mostly went to the king (Ina and me having trouble to aquire gold and wanting to spare taxes) or for the free craftsmen. Trading occured only in rounds 5 (when I needed to buy sand as Jens took all ressource cards before me) and 6 (when I sold surplus ressources, getting some stone to feed my sculptor which I only aquired then).
Ending scores where then 59 VP for me, 58 for Jens and some 3X for Ina (can't remember). Although Jens did a small mistake and could have had just 1 VP more, I although traded the wrong crafstmen in (to hold only 5) and could have done some more.

Not bad for a first play, we will definitely try again (and try the 5/6 player expansion), also I would say that the game is slightly overrated.
Most of the time - after picking up what ressources had been left by the others - it was very obvious to me where to put my master builders. Thus, The Pillars of the Earth is to me a "Light" to "Light Medium" games (despite of the many possible actions) and rates a solid 6.5!

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