Three of my kids were otherwise occupied this Saturday morning so my wife and eldest son agreed to a game of Pompeii. I have played this around 8 times but so far had not won a game. I am usually explaining it to others and not paying enough attention to counting in the end.
My wife finished the first phase with a good number of outer properties, as did I, while my son had more towards the center. I am always surprised how fast the 2nd phase arrives.
During the mid-phase we were all relatively aggressive about ditching our opponent’s people into the volcano on omen cards but I think the damage was fairly evenly divvied out. I used it primarily as a way to free up a spot on a building that I had a card for so I could generate a good number of relatives. My wife was using it to remove extra people from whoever was in the lead. At this stage we were all fairly close in numbers. I was one behind them but ended this phase 3 in front of the other two, due to some good relative placement near the end of the phase.
Everyone was fairly cautious about populating the center of the board. After getting substantially more people on than anyone else only to fail to get them out of the city before the tiles run out, I have become more cautious. My son had the most in the center but he also had them together in clumps to allow high move values in the last phase.
I would characterize the end phase as too cooperative. My son and I have played several times together so we were a little more cut-throat but it was my wife’s second game and she was playing more to preserve her areas then to cut off and destroy us. We ran out of tiles and on the last tile my wife had one person left, 2 spaces from the exit, so we had exited all remaining people from the board by the end. Now interestingly when my wife plays a two player with me she can be very cut-throat but not as much on multi-player games that are a combination of building your own stuff and stopping the other players from building. More games may make her style more aggressive.
My Son: 11
My Wife: 10
I generally like this game. It is an enjoyable game to play with newer gamers and the cut-throat aspect is fun with more experienced gamers. This game is worth playing on the value of throwing your opponent’s people into the volcano alone.
There are a couple of things that detract from this game for me. For a simple fun game, the rules can be fiddly. The buildings are treated differently in the different phases and the people placement rules can be tricky the first couple of times. Now that I have the rules memorized I can remind people. I find the phases go by a little fast for me and there are a few too many different things going on for a short game. The last issue is the perennial luck issue. I am not adverse to luck based games. I still feel that I do not have much control in this game. That may be addressed by me just playing it more and getting a feel for different strategies or not.