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Subject: First game was a fantastic experience rss

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Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
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Location: Michicon, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA
Date: May 1, 2009
Players: Tom, Ed and myself

I was scheduled to run a session of Giants at Michicon, and had just received my copy of Giants the night before (talk about just-in-time delivery). Fortunately, I had read the rules online, and was familiar with the FAQ and rules changes. After explaining the game and answering a few questions, we were off.

On the first turn we rolled three size-1 moais, and we each took one. The early game proved to be a series of "Ah hah!" moments for all players. We all made mistakes with the order of our worker placements, not yet being used to having some placements provide resources that can be used on future placements. For example, if you place your sorcerer in the village, he'll give you a worker that you can place to help transport your Moai that turn. No big deal. We were all enjoying the act of discovering the interplay of the game mechanisms. On the second turn, Ed went for wood, which caused me to get wood too, as there are only two 5-wood hexes. Tom decided not to grab wood early, but instead focused on getting all his workers and an early headdress. He mentioned that this might come back to haunt him, but it was too early to tell. Our first Moai deliveries were mostly solo affairs; with only a couple of points awarded during tranportation.

By the midgame we were getting the hang of how to bid, and how to react to the worker placement decisions of the other players. Longer, multi-player chains were being formed, allowing size 2 and 3 moais to be delivered. There was some marking of moais, but not much. For some reason, many of our moais were delivered on the turn they were sculpted, with the size 3 moais being the notable exceptions. Tom and I also took a few turns to get size-2 moai delivered to ahus near the headdress quarry. Ed spent several turns slowly moving a size 3 moai to the bottom left of the board (away from the forest). He had several chances to erect the moai, but waited until he could get it to an 8-point ahu, which proved to be a pivotal decision. He was also starting to pile up transportation points, having his workers in places where Tom and I could take advantage of them. Wood was being spent like it was going out of style, but the forest hexes did last until the midgame. With more players I suspect the forest would get chopped down more quickly. Also, we often sculpted and delivered headdresses, as the worker chains were already there to transport our moai.

Another thing we noticed by midgame is the Rongo tablets were rarely being kept from turn to turn. Most of the time, players would use two tribe markers to get two half-tablets, then trade them in on the same turn to get a sorcerer action from their chief. It seemed more important to get the extra sorcerer action than to have tablets for the next turn's bid.

Also, only Tom collected a few tribe markers early. Ed and I focused our sorcerers on wood, workers and headdresses early on. This allowed Tom to win more bids, and even shut me out of a moai one turn. However, over the last few turns, Tom didn't have as much to do with his tribe markers, and just collected tablets that he didn't really need.

Time was running short, as I had to run another game that evening. Then Tom announced that the current turn would be the last. Ed and I were surprised, as it was hard to keep track of exactly how many statues each player had delivered. Tom's strategy of grabbing a lot of workers early helped him deliver more moais than Ed and me. In the end, Tom delivered 7 moai, Ed and I delivered 5 each, with Ed having a sixth moai that he sculpted on the last turn but couldn't deliver. All 14 headdresses had been delivered. Ed still had a 10-15 point lead just on transportation points, so it was going to be interesting to see if Tom or I could catch him. After revealing the stone platforms, we added up the points, and the final scores were approximately:
Ed: 110
Matt: 98
Tom: 90

The difference seemed to be the points Ed got from helping our deliveries, and the size-3 moai that he patiently moved to an 8-point location over several turns. We all commented on how fun the game was to play. The main decision making is in the bidding, and assessing and reacting to where the other players place their workers. The game does a great job of integrating the theme with the mechanics. The gorgeous components certainly help draw players into the theme, but the beauty of this game is certainly more than skin deep.

It took two hours to play, but I suspect this will be a game that actually plays shorter with more players, because each player will have less bases to use, and there will be more workers on the board each turn. Also, experienced players should knock out a game in 90 minutes, even with only three players.

I can't wait to get Giants to the table again. thumbsup
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Cliff
United States
Western Great Lakes - Owashtinong Aajigaaning
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My family loves Giants, too. How was the rest of the convention? I'm in Kent County and would like to journey out there for it some year.

 
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Matt Smith
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Unfortunately, I could only attend the convention on Friday. Attendance was pretty good, considering it's a smaller convention and it was a Friday. Saturday is usually the main day, with more people and more games on the schedule. There were the usual grognards with their massive tables of line-of-sight wargames, but eurogames were well represented too. I usually run 2-3 boardgame events at each Michicon and Wintercon. They have a good prize table, and the venue at Oakland University is very nice. Hopefully you can join us at a future convention.
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unkle
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Glad you enjoy the game.It is really a great game, that can hit the table with 4-5 players. I tend to be less found of the 3 player game, it is less cut-throat to my taste.

5 players Giants is a really cool game. Bidding is awsome, game is quick (last one was only 5 turns !! we had one player who made it for bidding on 2 Moais (size 1), double delivery, double headress on the last turns... that was really somthing that killed my slower strategy).
 
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Matt Smith
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I'll have to look out for that in my first 5-player game. I was caught by surprise when, in my first 4-player game, another player used his last base when I had 3 bases left. I was used to the 3-player pace, and hadn't realized how quickly he had erected his statues. I did have a size-2 moai on the board and a size-1 moai in front of my screen, but obviously I had somehow fallen behind the curve.
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