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Subject: Admiral for the Win! rss

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Chris Linneman
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Evan, Pete, Robert and I got together last night to play Confucius. It was a game I'd bought several months ago and had wanted to get to the table since then but for one reason or another it had been passed up in favour of something else. Robert suggested the game and I jumped at the opportunity so, after a very lengthy and detailed rules explanation (I had never played and struggled to explain the rules from memory) we got started.

Opening
Robert opened by bribing the 2-cost official in Hubu. I thought it would be a good idea to do the same in order to get the discount but I was stuck paying 4 for my more principled official. Evan and Pete wisely did Commercial Income to turn 4 coins into 5 cards. After Robert and I taxed the others turned their (license-heavy) income into armies. With my last action I gave Robert my 1-gift and he returned the favour. Neither of us could bribe officials in Hubu as a result!

Mid Game
Knowing that scores are often close in this game, I decided to spare no expense in buying junks, both because the points for expeditions were high (4,4,4,3,3) and to secure my seat as Admiral. I ended up with a 4 and a 3 discovery and 2 Bribe Official cards for my troubles. I also squeaked through with the Admiral title by one junk at game end.

Evan and Pete got a lot of license heavy Confucius cards and trained several armies. At one point Evan sent an army to the 4/3 foreign land with only 2 spaces on it. As Pete followed him in turn order, he immediately sent his army to complete the invasion. I was left out in the cold. My lone army never did get to conquer anyone...

Because everyone was afraid of being stranded, this was the only invasion that succeeded.

Pete also bought most of his gifts, and most of the time had all 3 of us indebted to him. He used his position to win 4 of the 5 Imperial Examinations that happened.

The first ministry to be resolved was Gongbu. Evan had been bribing most of the officials there and had 4 of them. I had one official for the junk discount and Pete had one of his students there. The last official was, shall we say, rather committed to his principles, and cost 7 to bribe. Fortunately, with my discount, I was able to afford the cost and second place went to me (5pts). Evan earned 7.

Hubu was resolved next. I tried to make a play at it since Evan had Transferred Influence of the #1 official to me after I gave him an unwanted gift. I had a student facing off against Robert's and transferred influence in Hubu just to make sure I would be able to tutor my own student and not his. But Robert gave me another gift that I had not noticed was available and my student failed miserably as I was forced to tutor my opposition. This resulted in Robert taking the Ministry (8pts) as I also had to give my influence to him due to the gift. It was a huge points swing. Pete earned the title of Secretary (6pts).

Bingbu was resolved last and I again attempted to take control of it with my Bribery Emperor's Reward cards. Sadly, my attempts were foiled as Pete easily won the Imperial Examination. A similar result to Hubu, where I ended up having to give my influence away, this time to Pete. He won (5pts) and Robert was second (4pts).

End Game
The game ended on turn 8 when all 3 ministries had been resolved.

Evan earned his points from Minister of Gongbu (7pts) two expeditions (7pts), the successful invasion (3pts) and the Emperor Insulted card (2pts). He also earned the title of General (1pt). His total was 20pts.

Pete was Secretary of Hubu (6pts), Minister of Bingbu (5pts), had one expedition (4pts) and one successful invasion (4pts). He earned the title of Chief Minister (1pt). His total was 20pts.

Robert was Minister of Hubu (8pts) and Secretary of Bingbu (4pts). His total was 12pts.

I was Secretary of Gongbu (5pts), had completed two expeditions (7pts), and earned the title of Admiral (1pt). My total was 13pts.

In a delicious twist, my focus on the expeditions had paid off as Evan and Robert were tied for first...Admiral for the win!!!

Thoughts
I wish I could say I planned my end game coup. I recalculated what would have happened if I had won Bingbu and the result would have been that I would have finished with 19pts (+5, +1 for Chief Minister). So it turned out I actually wanted to lose! I really like the Admiral "variant" because it forces players to do more than just try to get the most points. Its subtlety is a marvelous integration of theme and creates a way to win from behind. I'm not just saying this because I won!

The game was fantastic and I can't wait to play it again. We decided to leave out the "Advanced" Petition the Emperor rules since the rules explanation had gone on so long already but they really don't look that complicated. They also give a good incentive to try to get to 5 actions. As it was, when players had 5 actions, sometimes the last one was wasted. Next time we'll use the Advanced rules.

I really like how hard it is to predict what will happen in the game, and I'm sure each game is very different. This is despite the relatively low randomness (with the exception of the Emperor's Reward cards, which can be quite powerful but sometimes useless). I also like that there are 3 very unique areas you can focus on--although the increasing action costs prohibit you from overly specializing. One area is a race, another is a sort of co-operative "I help you, you help me" game and the third is area majority, which the gifts throw a unique wrench into.

Very enjoyable game.

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Joshua Gottesman
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You've made me want to get this on the table again.
 
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Chris Linneman
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Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
You've made me want to get this on the table again.


Glad I could be of help. Unless that is, of course, you have dozens of other games you want to get to the table, and only so much time. I know I'm not the only one.
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