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Subject: Italian Merry Go Round rss

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Richard Maurer
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After getting this little gem in a trade back in October, I finally got a chance to get a crack at the game with two other friends, Adam and Nick. I had read the reviews expected a fun exciting game and boy was I not disappointed.

Note: We included the optional rule where the players refill their hands after a battle has been concluded.

1. Battle for Moderno

Adam won this battle handily with the play of the drummer boy and spring time. While Nick played the bishop and played the favor of the Pope in Balogna, I saved my highest cards for later battles.

2. Battle for Lucca

Adam continued his rampage easily seizing Lucca again with the help of a drummer boy and eliminating our highest mercenary cards with the play of the Bishop which was used to remove the Pope's favor from Balogna. I countered with my own bishop card and returned the Pope's favor to Balogna.

3. Battle for Firenze

Adam again dealt our forces a decisive defeat at this battle with a good play of mercenary cards and winter; however hope was not lost. I seized control of the Conditerre token with my courtesans and possessed some powerful cards for the next turn.

4. Battle for Milano

I thought that I had the perfect recipe for success: high mercenary cards and a opponent close to victory which would force the other player to work with me. I didn't count on Nick getting a drummer boy of his own to pull off a last minute win for this city.

5. Battle for Torino

Nick's victory parade continued with another win in Torino with the decisive play of spring, winter, and bishop cards. While I Adam tried to win this battle, the cards were not in his favor. I seized control of the Condotierre token and prepared to stake my claim to another kingdom.

6. Battle for Spoletto

Finally, after much work and difficulty I gained the Condotierre token for myself. I staked my claim to this kingdom hoping my luck would change. Neither Adam nor Nick had anything good and I captured the kingdom with little difficulty; however, Nick did take control of the Condotierre token.

7. Battle for Genova

Nick again pulled surprises with the play of his bishops and winter cards. Adam and I tried to halt the tide, but things would just not work for us. Still, I had enough Courtesans to retake control of the Condotierre token for the next battle.

8. Battle for Siena

With Adam and Nick close to winning and myself not even close, I had to use cunning and treachery to beat him. I chose Siena because it would give Adam a win and force Nick to help me. He was okay with it and did not interfere with my conquest while all Adam could do was rage about the bastardry of the mercenary cards.

9. Battle for Urbino

Continuing my strategy, I again used my alliance with Nick to help me gain control of another region. He was alrigh with it, but he noticed all too well that I was also getting close to winning. Adam could do nothing to stop me because of a lack of good cards.

10. Battle for Rome

Hoping to clinch the game, I marched on Rome hoping to gain the four regions win, but my luck changed for the worse. Nick took the region with the play of some good mercenary and winter cards while Adam assisted him in this endeavor. Still, I regained control of the Condotierre token for the next battle.

11. Battle for Napoli

With better cards and a drummer boy, I easily destroyed Adam and Nick's efforts to stop me. While they played a winter card, I responded with my spring card to stop them. The problem was that Adam retook control of the Condotierre token.

12. Battle for Ferrara

The situation was grim for Nick and me. Adam was one region away from a win and again we both put aside our differences to stop him. A last minute play of a surrender card helped me pull off a decisive win. Adam was so preoccupied with defeating Nick that he failed to appreciate what I could do; however, Adam did retake control of the Condierre token and moved the Pope's favor away from Balogna. The final end game was at hand.

13. Battle of Watova

The game had reached a critical point. Adam and Nick had three regions while I had five regions over all. Watova sat both on Nick and Adam's borders. It was going to be a final desperate battle and I had an unusual number of high numbered mercenary cards and a surrender card. I gambled everything on outbidding Adam who countered my high score at every turn. I kept waiting for Adam or Nick to pull out a Bishop card, but neither one had any. The decisive moment came when Adam had no more mercenary cards and Nick could only play a scarecrow. Pulling out the surrender card never felt so sweet!

Final thoughts:

1. We all made some mistakes that I noticed later after doing research like the adjacent regions rule (We believed all four regions had to touch) and the extra cards for controlling regions. Still, it didn't take away from the game play which was fun, tense, and humorous.

2. Game took at least three hours to play but I think it owed more to us learning, number of players, and incredible turns of fortune. By the very end of the game, we all had reached the necessary victory conditions to win. Our inability to clinch it stemmed from losing a battle or control of the condotierre token.

3. Tons of bluffing, deception, and politicking in this game. Each player wants to use their cards at the right moment while drawning out their opponent's good cards.

4. The nature of the board allows for constantly shifting alliances and playing people off against each other. Case in point, I snatched up two regions simply because I put the Condotierre token next to Adam's three regions; hence, Nick allied with me in order to prevent Adam from winning the game.

5. Definitely a fun game and I'm looking forward to getting in a few more games before writing a review and strategy report. Ariva Dereche!
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Randall Monk
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Have you tried it without the optional hand-filling rule? Having to manage your cards over the course of several battles adds another dimension to this great game. I recommend ditching the optional rule.
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Doug Bass
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First of all, great session report! You got a thumbs-up from me . Now, for a question. After I read the statement below, I was a little puzzled:

Ricomaurer wrote:
1. We all made some mistakes that I noticed later after doing research like the adjacent regions rule (We believed all four regions had to touch) and the extra cards for controlling regions. Still, it didn't take away from the game play which was fun, tense, and humorous.

I had interpreted the "adjacent" rule to mean only that the occupied regions had to be touching along one of the borders. Are you interpreting it a different way, or are you just saying you initially thought that each one of the regions had to be touching all the others?

 
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Richard Maurer
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My friend Adam argued quite forcefully that adjacent meant all the four regions had to be touching each other like on big circle. For sake of an hour arguing, we agreed although it would be very difficult to pull this kind of play off. Later, I got final clarification for him.

On a side note, I also found out about how winter and the bishop only affects the highest card not all cards which are considered "1" in winter time. Of course, Adam read the rule book differently, but I played the "BGG says card." He couldn't say anything else about it. He did threaten to call Fantasy Flight Games and confirm this rule, but I continue to play games with him because of this persistence even when he is wrong. shake
 
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Doug Bass
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Ricomaurer wrote:
On a side note, I also found out about how winter and the bishop only affects the highest card not all cards which are considered "1" in winter time. Of course, Adam read the rule book differently, but I played the "BGG says card." He couldn't say anything else about it. He did threaten to call Fantasy Flight Games and confirm this rule

That is a good point. You are saying that if Winter is played, a 10 is still a 10 when a Bishop is played? That makes sense, otherwise all mercenary cards would be discarded!

Ricomaurer wrote:
I continue to play games with him because of this persistence even when he is wrong. shake


 
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Ted Groth
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Monkatron wrote:
Have you tried it without the optional hand-filling rule? Having to manage your cards over the course of several battles adds another dimension to this great game. I recommend ditching the optional rule.


I strongly agree.
This forces you to choose how strongly to participate in early battles, or else you can be left without anything for later battles. This aspect of hand management makes for much more complex game goodness!
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Richard Maurer
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Yeah, I thought about playing cards over multiple battles. I figured with this game being the first time; I didn't want to have too much going on at once for everyone. Maybe after a few more games, we will give it a shot. For right now, we are just playing this way in order to get the rules and mechanics down easier.
 
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