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Subject: Vinci – Because long games don’t have to suck - [session report] rss

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pre-game
Turn flow goes clockwise order in the order as presented
p1: me - white
Never played this before
p2: red
Never played it before, although I think he’s heard of this before and is at least somewhat familiar with the game, theme, and mechanics.
p3: blue
Similar to p2 above
p4: green
Game owner who also taught the rules and moderated the game. I believe he’s played the game before... I’m gonna say once to 3 times before, but very likely no more than that. He went first as that was easier just to show us “how it’s done”.


Game hilights
For the first few turns, I would have to be reminded of the turn overview (pick out this many soldiers –OR- DON’T pick out any since I’ve already invaded, done attacking so reorganize, and now score)

This helped me with writing this session report...

Tile selection overview (as best as I can remember them)
p1: Field General + Militia
Militia + Slavery
mountaineering + Barbarians

p2:
(decl decline late) + Astronomy
1 sheep + Rebirth

p3: mountain + mining
Fortress + Heritage

p4: Slavery + that tile that lets you attack a territory on the middle of the board without entering the board from the side first (Revolutionaries?).
both types of Agricultures (+1 pt per field even during decline and +2 pts per field)


Unused: At least but, not limited to... Diplomacy, Specialization X2, Espionage, and Currency.


Tile selection and everything else in more detail (as best as I can remember them)
Any text in this format and color ref^ is a cross reference. I decided to do this to make it easier for you to refer to what other players were doing at the time of the current passage of description and also since I don’t remember the EXACT sequence of events anyways. If you are paying attention to those references, a browser search for those terms will easily let you find all spots of that topic, one of them the original reference.

Note: level 0 refers to the set of tiles in the first spot. In other words, those cost NO VP to take. The next costs 2VP, and so forth.


--P4: Slavery + that tile that lets you attack a territory on the middle of the board without entering the board from the side first (Revolutionaries?).
This pair was on the “free slot”, or level 0 which didn’t require a player to pay VP for.
--He popped off a lot of the natives, and got about an extra 5pts from Slavery as well in addition to his initial lot of territories.
--Being able to attack the center of the map without having to come from the edge certainly was neat to watch, as well as helpful in where he circumvented some mountains and went right for the more vulnerable center lowlands.

--me: Field General + Militia
I made a decent attempt to figure out which of the first 3 sets of tiles were the best (automatically ignoring the spots where I’d have to pay 6 or 8 VP, as that seemed steep). I ended up getting the tiles in the first slot for free. 6 base + 2 for Field General + 5 for Militia + 7 temporary for Field General again = 20 total discs gave me many options. Was able to conquer even more than p4 did, but having to remove 7 of them due to them being temporary and reorganization certainly spread me thin to be attacked.

--p2: Rebirth + Astronomy
He also took the first slot, not really know what the rest did beyond paper.
--We wondered EXACTLY how Astronomy worked. It appeared that going from England/Scotland to Norway region (keep in mind my geography typically sucks) was one move for him since Astronomy let him move across that dark blue expanse of water as if it were nothing. However, attacking from one of those spots would NOT be considered a mountain territory even though it was a mountain. That’s the exception to the rule
--He also used Rebirth to declare decline right away, in terms of being the first to declare a decline.

--p3: Mountaineering + Mining (2pts even during decline, 1 soldier/disc)
Ditto on the choice of tiles here as well... also took the first slot, not really know what the rest did beyond paper.
ref^2
--Knowing his prowess in mountainous territories and that quite a few mountains had the pick-axe mining symbol, he took much control of the southwest and southern part of the map.
--after several of his turns, he started gaining a noticeably disturbing lead on the rest of us. It was then we decided that the 3 of us had to “tag team” and take him down. His 12pt lead would only get larger otherwise. So p2 took down one of his mountain territories, I took down 3 of his non-mountain territories, and p4 did his share, so now p3 had to decline, and thus, crisis was averted for now.

--me: Militia + Slavery
Again, first slot
--2 things that would happen often with me and Militia... I would forget that it does NOT provide any bonuses when attacking (which I was often reminded about, derailing only a few of my initial plans), and that I would forget it provides a +1 defense when others were attacking me. In fact, I believe I only remembered about it 2 or 3 times, but forgot about it the rest of the 5 to 8 times when me getting attacked on my non-declined empire did come up. Everyone else mentioned I should’ve brought that up when such and such player attacked me, as he wouldn’t have been able to do all that he did, which is true, but can’t turn back the clock now. “Well, I’m telling you now that That won’t work with my Militia bonus”.
--Else, slavery was nice, if not all that “super awesome”. During the time I had Slavery, I was able to get about 3pts to extra pts over the course of 3 turns from taking out opponents’ soldiers. It was a modest, but nice bonus, especially when taking down vulnerable portions of a declined empire.
--Even though my starting soldiers was much less compared to Field General (again, even if that was only for attacking) and that I initially conquered much less territory then previously, the fact that my 6+ pts from my declined empire was there for 2 or 3 turns certainly gave me plenty of needed points. They didn’t wait that long to start whittling it away. It was more or less right away, but it did take them a while to eradicate it, of which I still got lower range of score of around 3pts or so.

--P4: both types of Agricultures (+1 pt per field even during decline and +2 pts per field)
--As his last set of tiles, p4 snagged up this combo. As opposed to p2’s Livestock Breeding tile ref^3, p3 was certainly raking it in with a double dose of agriculture. After a few turns, he was able to sweep up the territories from the northern shore (including that field in a bit inland) down to the other end of the shore southwest of the map (Spain and Portugal basically), grabbing up to 5 fields for a scoring phase!
--This was quite an important turnaround for p4, as up until this point of taking in the Agriculture tiles, he was consistently lagging behind all of us in score, in some cases by more than 8pts!

--P2: Livestock Breeding + something non-heritage
--I definitely remember the latter, as p2 was kinda ‘hurting’ to find the light green territories to support his bonus power which was scoring 1pt for each of those pastures. At worst, he only had 1 pasture. At best, he had 4 of them. On average, he had 2 per turn. It definitely wasn’t as good of a headway as p4’s Agricultures ref^3, even if it were the case that p4 had only one of them instead of as both his tiles.
--Definatley remember him NOT having heritage. P3 and to a lesser extent, p4 took advantage of the fact that p2 had remnants of a declined empire next to territory that p3 wanted to defend. The fact that p2 couldn’t move into such a spot (e.g. mountain spot in the center east part of the map) meant that p3 could reorganize and get away with only 1 soldier in that “hotspot”

--P3: Fortress + Heritage
--Apparently, for the purposes of implementing Fortress, it’s like you’re putting a native right back on the map! Pretty elegant system if I do say so myself. IIRC, taking down any fortress with Slavery would NOT give you +1pt, so if someone were to have taken up Fortress early, something else would need to have been done to differentiate an actual fortress vs a native. Not super useful, but again, like with Medicine, over the long term, it could solidify ones position on the map.
--He put a fortress on the center east mountain territory, as with my newly acquired Mountaineering tile, that would be a prime spot for me. ref^4

--Me: mountaineering + Barbarians
As a change of pace, I actually shelled out 4VP to get this combo!
On the flipside, the next player who takes the level 0 set of tiles would get 2VP while the level 1 set of tiles would cost no VP.
ref^4
--I was seriously considering going for one of the 2 sets before this one, but none of the powers were really any good.
--Level 0 = 2 Livestock Breeding (1pt per pasture, 2 soldiers) + (1pt per pasture even during decline, 1 soldier)
P2 was already heavily vested (although not gaining as much returns as hoped ref^3) in pastures since he had a Livestock breeding of his own, so I would be fighting him tooth and nail for that.
--Level 1 = Messenger (5 soldiers) + Mining (2pts per mining symbol even during decline, 1 solder)
Mining may have been OK, but Messenger was moreso a mid/long term power. Plus, I didn’t think I would have a split, active empire anyways. Everyone else already done that to me when they take shots at me at my southwestern territories after p3’s Mountaineering/Mining streak ref^2 got put down but before p4 took control of that area with his Medicine + something else /double Agriculture era ref^3.
--Level 2 = Mountaineering + Barbarians...
Both gave good immediately powers I could use, plus -1 cost at attacking mountain territories, plus bonus points when scoring mountain territories. I didn’t want to spend 4VP, but it seemed like an acceptable compromise.
--Level 3 = Fortifications + Barbarians
The latter would be good, but the former is also too long term to get maximum benefit out of
--Level 4 = Specialization X2 + Agriculture
Again, with p3’s vestment in fields ref^3, NEXT!
--Level 5 = Ship Building + Rebirth
Things got expensive VP-wise at level 3, but I looked ahead for the fun of it anyways... Ship Building and Rebirth were 2 long-term tiles in the sense that I’d need to play out another whole ordeal with an empire to make good use of.
Moving on.....
--I got it somewhere in my head that while Barbarians have no special powers, for some reason they were worth 6VP. It was likely that I mistaken the blue 6. Still, having a permanent set of soldiers as opposed to Field General was a nice tradeoff
--I needed quick, easy, and plentiful access to mountain territories, so the 3 mountain territories northeast, the 4th one next to that, and if I could support it, the 5th mountain southeast would allow me to fully exploit my Mountaineering.
--I was able to come in take out most resistance without much difficulty. The other players all took pot shots at me and did damage, though not too overwhelming
--For what turned out to be the last round of the game, everyone else was calculating and seeing if they could plot against me to keep me from running away with the game due to my good position and high scoring on mountains, in much the same fashion we did with p3 ref^2 to keep him from gaining too huge a lead on us.
--In the end everyone only put in either minimal effort or adequate effort, as their combined might wouldn’t have been enough to take me out of the running for first place.
-The concern is p2 would have to throw everything at me, at huge cost to his position and scoring (even though the former was meaningless since after I went, the end game trigger set in place), so it wasn’t worth sacrificing himself just to bring me down a few pegs.
-For p3, his force center-northeast, central-east, and central-southeast were all that were left. That got cut down to a few soldiers left in central-east, and central-southest. All of his discs in the south were declined and could not be used, so he holed up some of his troops in that spot where there was only one territory between the 3 mountain territories (across the northeast to east) and the other mountain territory (southeast)
-p4 started the game, so he didn’t even get a last turn In many ways it sucks just thinking about it even though it worked out for me and against him.


Unknown but worth mentioning...
--p2 or p3 at some point had Messenger, so it was a small, but still useful thing that he didn’t have to be tied down with the rule of not having a fragmented, active empire.
--Ship Building was used once or twice in the beginning and beginning-middle as I remember someone or more scoring on “anchor spots”.
--p4 had Medicine before he got his double Agriculture tiles, making it his 2nd to last set of tiles. At first I scoffed at it, but having +1 Permanent soldier at the beginning of his turn could actually be a decent thing in the long term.
--Me towards midgame and beyond, I would get excited at all the points I was gonna get from my HUGE declined empire, but reminded myself that the white colored tiles to denote a declined empire needed to be matched with the color disc it was next to, so in fact, those declined empire remnants were mostly of blue, green, and red’s portions.


Post game
Game took about 2 hours 17 minutes. That includes about 20 minutes before the game actually started for the game owner to teach us the ropes.

I believe p4 would’ve overtaken me if he did get an extra turn and I didn’t, but if I also got another turn as well, it would’ve stilled pulled ahead. He got 19pts from each turn as is, counting his Agriculture +2pt bonus, but I was getting 13pts as is with my Mountaineering bonus. He commented that if he had a few extra turns, he would’ve been in good standing to win the game, which seemed about right, barring what me, p2, and p3 could’ve done about that, assuming they were also willing to take a good part in keeping p4 down in such a hypothetical situation.

SCORE OVERVIEW
me: 122
p2: 106
p3: 108
p4: 109

Fun game. It reminded me of a wargame, but with much less of the “bad stuff”. Specifically, it plays under 3 hours or so, and does not contain encyclopedic rules (of both points are of what I understand of wargames or those with miniatures). I’m glad I went through with all of it. It was nicer that with 4p, you play to less points. Specifically to 120 as specified in the rules, although playing to a higher number as set for fewer players probably wouldn’t have been that bad either, despite the chance that I wouldn’t have won.

I had the same sense of dread set in when I begin long games like Age Of Empires III or Agricola, that I might find it boring or that I messed up in the beginning somehow that would put me in an unrecoverable situation, but the fact I won the game (if by beginner’s luck and the forgetting of some things), certainly says good things about the approachability of the game. The other players did coach me, so props do go to them for that. I may not have done as well otherwise. Unlike this game where the other 3 players were new, for Age Of Empires III, it was even ground, as I was going up against, 4 vets during my first play of the game. With Agricola, less so. While I enjoy it, things can get more “doomier” and gloomier by each round, which makes me enjoy it in different ways.

To elaborate on what could’ve been, if I remembered to bring up the fact that I had Militia as other players were attacking me, they wouldn’t have been able to take down as many of my territories in a turn as they did. That could’ve kept me from declaring decline as soon, which may have changed the course of the game, but I’ll dwell on that at another time. For now, I wouldn’t put this game to play again on the very top of my list, but it’s still got good clout in that department.
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