Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
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Players:
Matt (me): Black
Denise (my wife): Orange
Bob (my friend): Blue
Jen (Bob’s wife): Red

Background
I received AoE III from my Secret Santa (thank you again, Santa), and after playing a couple of games at my local game group and a 2-player affair with my friend Bob, I was thoroughly convinced this is the best game I’ve played since I got back into the hobby 2.5 years ago. Now it was time to introduce it to my wife, Denise, and Bob’s wife, Jen. Denise and Jen are avid gamers, but Denise’s tastes lean toward the lighter fare (e.g. Ticket to Ride). However, she’s tried heavier games like Leonardo DaVinci (bless her heart), so I wasn’t deterred by the medium weight of AoE III.

Setting the Scene
Bob and his wife Jen invited us to dinner and games for New Year’s Eve. After leaving the Fondue restaurant with overstuffed bellies, we had an hour to kill at their house before returning to my house to release the babysitter. We played Manila, I got slaughtered again (stupid game angry ), then went back to my house and had to choose between Pillars of the Earth and AoE III. It was about 10:45 pm. We had all played Pillars before, but Jen was up for learning AoE III, and Denise acquiesced to our guests. Normally Denise is not up for learning a new game that late at night, especially a complex one. However, she was in good spirits (probably the, ahem, liquid spirits at dinner), so I set up the game. It probably took 20 minutes to explain everything, and I could tell Denise and Jen were wondering what they had gotten into. However, we finally started playing at around 11:30.

Age I
The Age I building, "Conquest of the Inca Empire" (immed. $20), was available on turn one. Since Bob and I were familiar with the strategy behind that building, I felt obligated to point it out to Denise and Jen. Bob went first and of course chose the first Building spot. Dutifully, Jen, Dense and I took the next three slots. Bob then chose a Trade Good, and Denise surprisingly took the fifth Building spot. I made sure she knew the cost of Buildings, and she replied that she had a strategy (and in effect, to mind my own business).

Meanwhile, Jen was loading up the Dock and taking Specialists. Bob was grabbing Trade Goods, and I was split between the Dock, Discovery and Trade Goods. For first-turn buildings, Bob took Conquistador (Soldier in Discovery box), Denise took Inca Conquest, Jen took Trade Routes (+1 Merchant), I took Indentured Servitude (free Colonist in the X space on the Dock), and Denise got her second building (Settlers). Jen also got the Merchant Ship.

On turn two, I had a Merchant from turn one, and had $4 left over as a result of going last on turn one and selecting to go first on turn two (Initiative). I chose the first building slot, and they all looked at me like I was crazy. Jen asked how I was going to get more money, so I reminded her that the Merchant grants $5 when sent to the colonies, and I could get $1 by selecting Initiative again. This would give me exactly $10 for my building. This seemed to throw off Denise, as she didn’t opt to buy a building, even though she had the money to do so. After placement was complete, I asked her why she didn’t grab a building, and she said I was likely to take the one she wanted, so why waste the guy? I wasn’t decided between Trading Post ($5 each turn) and New World Cartography (one Free Discovery + 4 VPs), so I wasn’t sure which one she wanted. I ended up taking New World Cartography, which turned out to be the one she wanted. In hindsight, I should have opted for Trading Post, as I was money starved the rest of the game. More figures got allocated to Discovery, and Denise discovered Canada. I used New World Cartography to discover New Spain, because I wanted to get the Gold next turn to match a Gold that I already had. This was another mistake, as Bob had a Missionary and could establish a colony there before me (which he did).

Turn three went as expected, with players rushing the Dock to get VPs in the colonies. I believe everyone bought a building except me, with Denise getting the Trading Post. This proved important in turn four. After Age I, the scores were 8, 6, 6, and 4.

Age II
After a brief pause to watch the ball drop in Times Square and get a smooch and a drink, we started turn four. The Taxation building was available ($10/turn + 2 VPs), so Denise grabbed the first building spot so she could buy it. Jen got her third Merchant Ship, due to selecting a Merchant and/or Captain almost every turn, and getting another Merchant from Trade Routes. Bob was building up a nice Trade Good collection, while I was trying the Discovery/Colonization strategy, due to being rather poor. I discovered Virginia to (hopefully) get a second Tobacco, while Jen discovered Peru and Denise discovered Florida. Bob's Conquistador was slowly building up soldiers in the Discovery box, but he wasn’t committing many other figures there, so his discoveries came less frequently. However, each of his discoveries netted him good income, due to all of his soldiers.

However, the most significant part of turn four was Jen’s purchase of Privateers. Only Denise could have stopped it, but she opted for Taxation. That meant Jen was now getting $3 from each player each turn. And with her collection of Merchants and Captains, she was likely to get more Merchant Ships. This didn’t bode well for Bob and me, but Denise didn’t care as much, now that she was getting $15 every turn from her buildings.

By the end of Age II, Jen had managed to get her fourth Merchant Ship. I got one by getting Ship Yards (+1 Captain) and selecting a Captain specialist, then focusing on preventing Jen from getting the ship on turn six. Still, she was now getting $4 each turn from the rest of us, which really pumped up her coffers. Bob had decent Trade Good income, so I was still lagging well behind the income curve. However, I had a good presence in the colonies, and the scores were all within 4 VPs after Age II. By this point in the game, the entire New World had been discovered, as well as Australia.

Age III
Turn seven was very interesting. The five buildings that came up were all VP buildings. One of them, Glory, clearly benefited me, as I was already present in two more colonies than any other player. The Wealth building clearly benefited Jen, as she was wallowing in cash. However, Jen inexplicitly didn’t go for a building. I wasn’t going to get one either, as I only had $13 at the start of the turn. However, Denise did me a favor by selecting Initiative spot #1, which allowed me to get $2 from Initiative and put my Merchant on the Docks for $5, getting me exactly to $20. After Denise bought Wealth to keep it from Jen, I bought Glory. The Docks filled up very fast on both turns this age, and Jen got her fifth Merchant Ship. Several more Discoveries occurred. Bob and I started using Warfare to get an advantage in some of the colonies, as we were the only players with soldiers in the colonies.

Turn eight went as expected, with the Dock filling up first, and the specialists getting ignored. Bob took three of the Trade Goods, and got Mercantilism (1VP/Trade Good). Nobody opted for the Merchant Ship, which was different. However, I couldn’t make use of it, and Jen didn’t have enough Trade Goods to match up with her Merchant Ship armada. Bob and I executed some more battles. I suspected Jen was in the lead, and had whittled down her Caribbean colony to where I had a two-figure lead. Jen could have bought the Migration and Militia buildings, thus preventing my Warfare actions from gaining me the lead in the Caribbean, but it would have cost her VPs in other colonies, so she bought other buildings instead. I breathed a sigh of relief, as I thought my Warfare actions were surely thwarted.

Finally, we started adding up the end-game VPs. First, Denise ended up at 71. Then I only made it to 69. Then we added up Jen, and she also had 71! Bob came in at 65. Interestingly enough, Jen had asked a turn earlier if money was useful at the end of the game, so I looked up the tiebreaker rules and found out it was the second tiebreaker. However, VPs from the colonies on turn eight is the first tiebreaker. Denise conceded she probably lost, but when we re-added the colony VPs, both Denise and Jen had 16! Only then did we determine Jen had won, due to her significant cash reserves.

Conclusion
This was the closest game of AoE III I’ve experienced. Only 6 points separated last from first, and we had to use the second tiebreaker to determine a winner. The two new players tied for first, which leads me to believe the game is relatively easy to learn. Game time was two hours, with a 10-minute break for the ball drop, so future games might be closer to 1.5 hours. Both Jen and Denise really liked the game, which bodes well for the next time I try to get AoE III to the table. If you have a gamer spouse who is willing to try something with a little more meat than the typical game, give AoE III a try. Just mention up front that the explanation time is a bit long, but the game play is straightforward and easy to pick up. Various winning strategies are available and fun to try. We're all looking forward to our next game.

EDIT -- Left out a building name.
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Satya Hody
Indonesia
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Great report, I've been interested with AOE3 for quite a long time now, I'll definitely try AOE3 with my wife, thanks!
 
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Glenn Drover
United States
Plainfield
Illinois
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Great recap! Very compelling.

Jack Provenzale (my good friend, playtesting stalwart, and consiglieri) and I have played with our wives a couple of times now. They really like the game and play really well! :0

Jack and I are so cut-throat with eachother that they actually have a good chance to win too. LOL

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Mike Fassio
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mvettemagred wrote:
Age II
After a brief pause to watch the ball drop in Times Square and get a smooch and a drink, we started turn four.

I laughed... out loud... for a while. Awesome session report.
 
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T France
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mvettemagred wrote:
Age II
After a brief pause to watch the ball drop in Times Square and get a smooch and a drink, we started turn four.


I've looked and looked but cannot find this in the rules. Is it in a FAQ somewhere?...
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Matt Smith
United States
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Michigan
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Titeman wrote:
mvettemagred wrote:
Age II
After a brief pause to watch the ball drop in Times Square and get a smooch and a drink, we started turn four.


I've looked and looked but cannot find this in the rules. Is it in a FAQ somewhere?...

House rule.
 
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Glenn Drover
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I am definitely NOT smooching some of the people I play this game with...
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Anders Olin
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Matthew, whenever I and my wife visit US, we're ready for a couple against couple match devil
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Glenn Drover
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Come to Chicago and you're on!

Cheers,

Glenn
 
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Matt Smith
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victoryzine wrote:
Matthew, whenever I and my wife visit US, we're ready for a couple against couple match devil

I look forward to it. And hopefully my wife and I can visit you in your country sometime too.
 
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