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Subject: 5-Player Contest, or What Do You Mean There's No Kingmaking in Agricola? rss

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Geoff Burkman
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With our first quorum of five in several months, we tackle another 5-player match of everyone’s favorite (and only) farming game. The draft this time is the ol’ deal 7’n’7, then pass all but one each time, with the restriction that you can’t hold onto more than seven of either type of card. Skyp goes first out of the kindness of our hearts.

Round One/MIMI
Skyp – Occ/Church Warden (4W)
Ron – 3C(3)
Geoff – Occ(-1f)/Field Watchman
Jimmy- 4W(4)
Brian – 3W(3)
Skyp – SP + Baking Tray
Ron – MIMI/Fp2
Geoff – 1G +PF
Jimmy – 1R(1)SW
Brian – PF

Skyp opens with one of those Ocks that bestows upfront lumber and downstream bonus points, though I fail to see why he didn’t just take the 4Wood. I prefer to play Ocks like the Warden when I can’t otherwise snag lumber, but that’s just me. Ron jumps the clay; with MIMI on tap first, this comes as no surprise. I refuse to be deterred, coughing up the food for my first Ock, the dauntless Field Watchman. Jimmy and Brian scour the forest; Skyp nails down the button to get out the handy Baking Tray, which he then sadly ignores. Ron picks up his fireplace, I break even on my Watchman, Jimmy visits the general store, and Brian plows. We’re off and farmin’…

Round Two/Fences
Skyp – Occ(-1f)/House Steward (4W)
Ron – 4W(4)
Geoff – 3C(3)
Jimmy – SP + Chicken Coop (8f>
Brian – 1R(2)
Skyp – MIMI/House Goat
Ron – 3W(3)
Geoff – 1G +PF
Jimmy – 1R(1)SW
Brian – Occ(-1f)/Carpenter

Skyp squanders momentum by putting out another conditional 4Wood Ock, instead of swiping the reed for building, or for that matter, why not just take the 4Wood on the board, denying it to opponents? Ron hauls in what Skyp didn’t, while I appropriate the major clay, hoping to acquire an early Oven. Jimmy snags the button and gets out a nice 8food Minor, while Brian happily takes the reed. Skyp now wastes MIMI on the House Goat; it’s not that the Goat is a bad Minor—a point and a 6food are not to be sneezed at—but Skyp’s play is not only premature (why not do this in Round Three or Four?), it also diverts him from more useful tasks like gathering grain or hitting up the general store. No matter; Ron takes wood, I put the Watchman to work again, Jimmy shops at Ye Odde Lots, and Brian pops out the Carpenter, easing his building requirements.

Round Three/Sow & Bake
Jimmy – 3C(3)
Brian – 4W(4)
Skyp – Occ(-1f)/Reeve (4W)
Ron – Fish(3f)
Geoff – 1C(3)
Jimmy – 1R(1)SW
Brian – TP(3f)
Skyp – 3W(3)
Ron – SP + Cooking Hearth
Geoff – 1G +PF

Jimmy opens Round Three with the clay grab he needs for imminent improvement. Brian gloms wood, Skyp drops down a third conditional wood Ock (this time, at least, at a juncture that makes sense), and Ron stocks his larder. I swipe the other clay, Jimmy clears out the general store a third time, and Brian gather supplies. Skyp takes still more wood, Ron grabs the button to upgrade his fireplace, and I exercise the Watchman again, realizing that I should have probably five`n’dimed with my first move and hoped the clay was still available for the second. As things stand, I can see I’m not going to get my Clay Oven next Round.

Round Four/Sheep
Ron – Occ/Plowman (3PF-3f>
Geoff – 1R(1)SW
Jimmy – MIMI/Stone Oven
Brian – Occ(-1f)/Thatcher
Skyp – DL(2f)
Ron – 1R(2)
Geoff – S&B(3Gf)
Jimmy – BR(1) +x
Brian – SP +x
Skyp – Fish(1f)

Ron pops out his first Ock, generating a trio of pricey but assured downstream fields. Ever optimistic, I grab the stone I need, but Jimmy squelches my plans by snagging MIMI for the Stone Oven, despite having no grain to bake. Brian gets out the Thatcher to ease his reed requirements. Skyp gathers food, Ron takes the stacked reed, and I triple-sow to put a grain machine in gear. I’d have rather gotten my oven up and running and saved the sowing effort for next Stage, but I’m not completely unhappy. Jimmy builds the first room of the game, Brian wisely snags the button (though he has no Minor to play), and Skyp grabs the last food he needs to feed his family. Dudes home, supplies are distributed, and I sacrifice two harvested grain, as planned. On with the show…

Round Five/Stone
Brian – 4W(8)
Skyp – 3W(6)
Ron – Occ(-1f)/Animal Dealer
Geoff – 3C(6)
Jimmy – FG
Brian – BR(2) +4s
Skyp – Fences(15) [3x3,2p]
Ron – SP + Copse
Geoff – MIMI/Clay Oven (5f)
Jimmy – 1G

Brian hauls in the obvious 8Wood, Skyp the obvious 6Wood, and Ron gets out an Ock that vastly improves the acquisition of livestock. He’ll use it seven times over the course of the game, a significant source of food and eventual points. I swipe the hefty clay, Jimmy grows (on the 5-player Growth/Ock space), and Brian bangs out two rooms and four stables, a remarkably strong play that he unfortunately squanders over the next few Rounds. Skyp empties his lumberyard, but bollixes this early fencing effort by creating a 3x3 2-pasture array that greatly inhibits further development of his farm. Someday he’ll learn. Ron nabs the button, playing a Minor that he never uses. I MIMI the Stone Oven and bake; Jimmy arms his own Oven.

Round Six/Renovation
Ron – BR(1) +x
Geoff – Occ(-1f)/Social Climber
Jimmy – Occ(-1f)/Fieldsman
Brian – 3C(3)
Skyp – 1R(2)SW
Ron – Sheep(3+1-1f)burn4
Geoff – Ren>C (3S) +Ceramics (2f)
Jimmy – PF
Brian – TP(3f)
Skyp – 1R(2)
Jimmy – 1G

Ron gets his first room built, and Jimmy and I follow up with Ocks of varying utility: mine generates a 5Stone, though only three prove helpful, and Jimmy’s yields some nicely increased production. Brian now possibly miscues by pursuing a convoluted reed food source, instead of expanding his labor pool. Given his Thatcher, his decision to delay growth in order to play a reed Minor seems indulgent at best. Meanwhile, Skyp empties the reed-swollen general store, Ron feasts on woolies (and, as usual, failing to hold one back to nullify the negative, although his refusal to grow is understandable), and I renovate early, claiming the bonus stone and getting out a nice Minor (especially when one has excess clay). Jimmy plows a first field and takes another grain, while Brian gathers food, and Skyp hogs reed, utterly oblivious to the opportunity to nab the button and take an 8Wood next Round. Ron is a happy, happy camper…er, farmer.

Round Seven/Family Growth +MI
Ron – 4W(8)
Geoff – 3W(6)
Jimmy – Occ(-1f)/Bread Seller
Brian – FG +Reed Exchange> (2C>2R)
Skyp – Fish(3f)
Ron – 1S(3)
Geoff – SP + Pottery
Jimmy – 1C(4)
Brian – Occ(-1f)/Basketmaker
Skyp – BR(1)
Jimmy – S&B(1Gf +(4+1f))

Ron happily appropriates the 8Wood, ignoring growth again, and I snag the 6Wood. Jimmy pops out another Ock, this one yielding a net 4food down the line. Brian adds a worker, swapping off clay for reed, and Skyp fishes, a timely move. Ron now helps himself to the bargain stone, I commandeer the button and take my “free” Major, and Jimmy scoops up the kitty litter. Brian completes his reed/food machine, although its utility is suspect. Indeed, he uses it three times for a net gain of an 8food, but at what cost? Methinks Round Six growth and the pursuit of a cookery would have served much better. Skyp builds his first room, and Jimmy gets his own grain machine going. Dudes home, everyone chows down, with Brian burning a reed and Ron probably wishing he’d grown this Round, and it’s on to the midgame.

Round Eight/Boar
Geoff – MIMI/Well (5f>
Jimmy – 3C(6)
Brian – Sheep(2)
Skyp – 1R(2)SW
Ron – FG +x
Geoff – 1R(2)
Jimmy – Occ(-1f)/Baker
Brian – 4W(4)
Skyp – SP +Reed Hut
Ron – PF
Jimmy – 1G
Brian – 3W(3)
Skyp – DL(2f)

After Ron pays for his first Plowman’s field, my opening purchase of the Well is pretty much forced by Ron’s previous acquisition of stone; I’m not about to let him have it. Jimmy hauls in stacked clay, Brian herds sheep, and Skyp clears the overstocked five`n’dime again. Ron grows while the growing is good, I snag opportune reed, and Jimmy gets out the devilish Baker, eliminating all baking worries on his part. Brian pursues wood hogging to the detriment of further growth, while Skyp takes the button to grow the hard way. Ron plows, Jimmy restocks grain, Brian takes yet more wood, and Skyp scrabbles for food, no doubt regretting his waste of the Baking Tray.

Round Nine/Vegetables
Skyp – 3C(3)
Ron – Boar(2+1-1f)burn3
Geoff – BR(1) +2s
Jimmy – 1R(1)SW
Brian – 4W(4)
Skyp – TP(3f)
Ron – Occ(-1f)/Market Woman
Geoff – FG +Clapper (+3G)
Jimmy – 1S(2)
Brian – Fish(2f)
Skyp – MIMI/Fp2
Ron – 1V +2G
Jimmy – Ren>C +Fp3
Brian – Animals (1s+1f)

Skyp takes clay, leaving Ron a plentitude of pig meat. I finally build a room and two stables, and Jimmy clears the general store for the fourth time this game. Brian continues to inefficiently hog wood, Skyp scavenges food, and Ron puts out a timely Ock that he uses only once, but to fair effect. I add to my workforce at last, playing a Minor that yields a full silo of grain, but bewitches me into foolishness at game’s end. Jimmy picks up some stone, Brian scrounges, and Skyp claims a fireplace that he uses only to minimal effect. Ron puts the Market Woman through her paces, Jimmy renovates and snags the other fireplace, and Brian visits the stockyard. All home, with Brian scorching another reed and Jimmy baking to keep families happy, and I, a pair of raw grain. Ack!

Round Ten/Cattle
Skyp – 1C(3)
Ron – 3W(6)
Geoff – 3C(3)
Jimmy – 1R(2)
Brian – 4W(4)
Skyp – 1R(1)SW
Ron – Fences(14)
Geoff – 1G +PF
Jimmy – BR(1)
Brian – DL(2f)
Skyp – Ren>C +Reed Exchange> (2W>2R)
Ron – Cattle(1+1-1f)
Geoff – S&B(1Gf +5f)(j>1f)
Jimmy – FG +Feed Pellets
Brian – SP +Mini Pasture> (4W-2f)

Perplexingly, Skyp bypasses the stacked wood for a clay heist. Ron doesn’t hesitate; the wood is his. My own game now begins to falter when I dally interdicting clay. Jimmy takes the stacked reed for obvious purposes, and Brian dogs the wood yet again. Skyp visits the general store, prepping for renovation, and Ron fences at last, readying for animal breeding. Perhaps too preoccupied with recording the game instead of paying attention to my farm, I keep my Watchman busy. Jimmy builds another room, Brian scrounges again, and Skyp renovates, playing a greatly deflated Minor. Ron herds cattle, I cultivate and bake, and Jimmy adds another worker and a Minor that proves ineffectual. Brian closes out the Round with a button grab and a pricey pasture. It’s still too early to predict who’s going to win this one, but I’m having doubts it’s going to be me.

Round Eleven/Stone
Brian – 3C(3)
Skyp – Sheep(3)burn2
Ron – 4W(4)
Geoff – Occ(-1f)/Fence Builder [3Wood]
Jimmy – 3W(3)
Brian – MIMI/CH4
Skyp – Boar(2)
Ron – Cattle(1+1-1f)burn2
Geoff – SP +Stone Tongs
Jimmy – 1V
Brian – 1R(1)SW
Skyp – Fish(2f)
Ron – S&B (1Vf/2Gf)
Geoff – 1S(2+1)
Jimmy – 1G

Ron pays for his second Plowman’s field, and Brian now takes clay, in pursuit of a hearth, a questionable effort given the limited time left to make use of it. Skyp fixes up lamb chops, Ron snags wood, and I flail about with an Ock I never make good on, driven by a vague desire to cash in on the Reeve’s bonus. Jimmy begins his own wood-hogging program, Brian claims his hearth, and Skyp herds piggies. Ron enjoys a barbeque. I nab the button and activate the good ol’ Stone Tongs, but it’s much too late; they get used all of once. Jimmy quietly gathers seed stores, Brian clears the thrift shop, and Skyp picks at his food. Ron fills up a trio of fields, I take enhanced stone, and Jimmy piles on the grain. Dudes home, Brian fries a pair of woolies and a reed, Jimmy bakes, and all are fed. It’s time for the endgame.

Round Twelve/Plow & Sow
Geoff – P&S (PF +4Gf)
Jimmy – 4W(4)
Brian – Fences(11)
Skyp – PF
Ron – 1R(2)
Geoff – 1R(1)SW
Jimmy – 3W(3)
Brian – FG +Crooked Plow
Skyp – 1G
Ron – 3C(3)
Geoff – SP + Beanfield
Jimmy – 1V
Brian – TP(4f)
Skyp – Ren>S
Ron – Boar(1+1-1f)
Jimmy – S&B(2Vf[3] +(8+2f))

And, unfortunately, it’s about time for me to get hinky; too much game-recording, I suspect. So, instead of doing something smart, I elect to interdict the latest action space; I now have massive amounts of grain, not that that’ll do me much good. Jimmy gathers more wood, Brian finishes off his pastures, and Skyp plows his first field. Ron grabs reed for renovation, I likewise hit up the thrift store, and Jimmy sails a steady course through the forest. Brian adds a worker and pops out his Minor plow, Skyp hustles a grain, and Ron gloms clay. Feeling destitute, I nail down the button and get out a Minor point. Jimmy takes the magic beans, Brian scrounges food, and Skyp renovates. Ron herds boar, and Jimmy happily plants enhanced veggie fields and bakes up a storm. Things are not looking good for me at all.

Round Thirteen/Family Growth w/o
Geoff – FG w/o [5G>]
Jimmy – 4W(4)
Brian – PF +2PF
Skyp – 1G
Ron – Sheep(2+1-1f)
Geoff – 3C(3)
Jimmy – 1R(1)SW
Brian – Cattle(2)
Skyp – S&B (1Gf +2f) (1f>j)
Ron – Ren>C +Joinery
Geoff – Occ(-1f)/Animal Handler (1c>
Jimmy – P&S (PF +1Gf[5])
Brian – 1C(3)
Skyp – Boar(1)burn1
Ron – 3W(3)
Jimmy – Occ(-2f)/Lord of the Manor
Brian – Animals(1s+1f)burn1

Again playing spoiler, I park on FGw/o; neither Jimmy nor Brian will benefit from the Church Warden unless they surprise me with the Guest. They don’t. Jimmy piles on lumber, Brian puts his plow to use (thus achieving a swap of a 3Wood for a field), and Skyp nabs another grain. Ron acquires woolies, I grab clay for my Pottery, Jimmy raids the hardware, Brian herds cattle, and Skyp exerts a meager farming effort. Ron renovates, claiming a favored Major, I ock—Reeve in mind—canceling a negative, Jimmy puts his Fieldsman to work again, Brian takes clay, hoping to renovate, no doubt, and Skyp claims the lonely boar. Ron claims a whopping bonus point, putting the damper on whatever futile hopes I had of fencing, Jimmy ocks an eventual 3-point bonus, continuing the Reeve competition, and Brian closes the Round out with a stockyard call. Everybody hustles for dinner; Ron sacrifices a wooly and a bull, while I put up a brick and five grain to keep the peeps happy.

Round Fourteen/Renovation +Fences
Geoff – Ren>S (2S)
Jimmy – Ren>S +Fences(15)
Brian – 1R(2)
Skyp – FG +x
Ron – P&S (PF +1Gf/2Vf)
Geoff – FG w/o [5G>]
Jimmy – PF
Brian – BR(1)
Skyp – Fish(4f)
Ron – Cattle(1+1-1f)
Geoff – 3W(3)
Jimmy – S&B (1Gf[5])
Brian – FG
Skyp – Sheep(1)
Ron – 4W(4)
Geoff – Occ(-1f)/Wood Deliveryman
Jimmy – Animals (1s+1f)
Brian – Boar(1)

Ron pays for his last Plowman special, I get my cow and upgrade the homestead, foolishly using the wrong action space to do it. Jimmy swiftly does the same, on the right space. Oops. Brian grabs the reed for a sudden change in plans, Skyp moves his Reed Hut beggar into new quarters, and Ron grabs the agricultural brass ring for five points. I hire on a fifth wheel, adding meaningless grain to my fields. Jimmy closes the plowing door, Brian squeaks out a near-pointless room, Skyp pillages the pond, and Ron herds more cattle. I now slip into the Twilight Zone by taking wood, mad thoughts of a pasture dancing in my head (yes, of course a clay grab would have been better; like I said, I was in the Twilight Zone). Jimmy maxes out grain, Brian grows, Skyp eliminates a negative, Ron adds bonus points, ruining my fencing delusions, and by hogging the Reeve’s bonus for myself, I inadvertently spoil Jimmy’s victory, forcing him into a tie with Ron. Sorry, man! He grabs a final 3food, as does Brian, and that’s all she wrote. I part with another brick and a few silos worth of grain, the rest fulfill their duties, and scores are tallied.

Final Score (Occupations Played, Minors/Majors Played)(Wood taken/bonus)(Rounds as Starting Player)(Total Primary/Secondary/Tertiary Actions)(Points Per Primary Action)(Food Spent)
Primary Actions are those actions first taken when a player claims a space with a family member. Secondary Actions are the “extra” actions allowed by certain spaces, such as a Minor Improvement when taking Starting Player, or Baking after Sowing. Tertiary Actions are all other “extra” actions enabled via card play or the seasonal rules of the “Through the Seasons” variant. Note that the “TtS” variant has two Action Spaces that allow Secondary Actions: Spring and Autumn.

Ron – 41 (3 Occ, 2/2)(32/0)(3)(34//)(1.206)(41)
Jimmy – 41 (4 Occ, 2/2)(23/0)(1)(41//)(1.000)(45)
Geoff - 33 (5 Occ, 3/3)(11/0)(4)(34//)(0.971)(40)
Brian – 33 (3 Occ, 3/1)(31/4)(2)(37//)(0.892)(43)
Skyp – 23 (3 Occ, 4/1)(12/12)(4)(35//)(0.657)(35)

Player Fields Pastures Grain Veg Sheep Boar Cattle Unused Stables House Peeps Pts Bonus
Ron 5(4) 4(4) 8(4) 4(4) 4(2) 3(2) 4(3) 1(-1) 0(0) 3C(3) 3(9) (4) (3)
Jimmy 4(3) 4(4) 8(4) 6(4) 1(1) 0(-1) 0(-1) 1(-1) 0(0) 4S(8) 4(12) (5) (3)
Brian 4(3) 4(4) 0(-1) 0(-1) 4(2) 1(1) 2(2) 0(0) 4(4) 4W(0) 5(15) (1) (3)
Geoff 5(4) 0(-1) 14(4) 0(-1) 0(-1) 0(-1) 1(1) 5(-5) 0(0) 3S(6) 5(15) (9) (3)
Skyp 1(-1) 2(2) 3(1) 0(-1) 1(1) 5(3) 0(-1) 2(-2) 0(0) 3S(6) 4(12) (3) (0)


It’s not hard to see that Skyp got off on the wrong foot right from the start, wasting an Ock on wood that was otherwise staring him right in the face, and pretty much went downhill from there, frittering away his first Minor, failing to grow in a timely fashion, and then trying to make up for it with the uxorious Reed Hut. Someday he will figure out how to play this game properly, in spite of himself. Ron played a fine game, thanks in no small part to Skyp’s weakness. Jimmy also played well, and would have won if I hadn’t accidentally kingmade Ron’s tie. Brian’s major snafu was his failure to capitalize on his early double build. My key bad play, I think, was wasting time with the Fence Builder; that’s where my game seems to have fallen apart. All in all, an interesting contest, and the first time I’ve seen a finish with two ties (there’s a pun in there somewhere, but I’ll let it be).

Comments, questions, etc. solicited and so on and so forth. Next report: probably…
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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MisterG wrote:

Round Three/Sow & Bake
Jimmy – 3C(3)
Brian – 4W(4)
Skyp – Occ(-1f)/Reeve (4W)
Ron – Fish(3f)
Geoff – 1C(3)
Jimmy – 1R(1)SW
Brian – TP(3f)
Skyp – 3W(3)
Ron – SP + Cooking Hearth
Geoff – 1G +PF


You can't swap a Fireplace for a Cooking Hearth with a minor improvement action! You need to do a major improvement to do the swap! Look at the "Fireplace/Cooking Hearth" in the Appendix of the rules - it's there. So, Ron couldn't swap his Fireplace for a Cooking Hearth on the SP action space.
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Geoff Burkman
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Absolutely correct, but that's why the notation reads as it does, instead of my standard "Fp>CH4." Ron's upgrade is the Minor Cooking Hearth.
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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Ah, OK, forgot there is a minor Cooking Hearth.
 
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Frederic Bush
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I suggest you ban the reed hut from your games. Skyp misused it by not just claiming all the early reed and putting it out on turn 3. It's so powerful when used in that fashion that it's banned in the online games.



 
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Frederic Bush
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For instance, Skyp could've gone: RSW, SP + goat, R(2), RSW, SP+reed hut, fishing/TP(3), and had 3 more actions in rd 4 to do whatever he wanted, with 3 peeps and 5f+1f for the harvest.
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Geoff Burkman
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Oh, dear Lord, let's not go giving him any ideas. Next thing you know he'll be playing the game to win. devil
 
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Lionel Jacques
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It's ok - I always roll this bad.
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A well written and easy to follow session report for this game! Well done - I have to ask - do you keep notes as your playing or is this from memory? I've just began here and would like my session reports to be as good as this one [give or take a few years of practicing my writing...]
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Geoff Burkman
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EineHund wrote:
A well written and easy to follow session report for this game! Well done - I have to ask - do you keep notes as your playing or is this from memory? I've just began here and would like my session reports to be as good as this one [give or take a few years of practicing my writing...]


Thanks, OneDog......Yes, I record everything as we go, though unfortunately, as readers of past reports can testify, I do occasionally make mistakes. Really, what I should say is that I record all the moves (and details of feeding at harvesttime, if it involves something beyond direct food), and then, after I've typed everything up in a "permanent" record, I add commentary, thus enabling the joys of 20-20 hindsight. I tend to ignore recording the costs of various Minors, figuring that Constant Reader can look them up, or already knows them. This sometimes depends on the mood I'm in and/or how quickly the game is flying along. My crew's games tend to be somewhat slower than many people who frequent this site might like, due mostly to varying levels of analysis paralysis and/or--ahem!--intoxication, along with our tendency to take smoke breaks, bathroom breaks, and Ron's tendency to distract himself with hosting duties and other extraneous household chores. A 4-player game typically takes us about 2.5 hours, sometimes less, depending.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing some reports from you and your crew, as it's always instructive to observe how others play a game.
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