# games played = 2
Players: Brian, Gee, David, Stephen
# plays before today: 0, ?, ?, ?
David and Stephen might have played once or twice years ago, so the game was fairly new to most of us.
Stephen took an early lead by winning two of the best territories in the middle of the board. The rest of us shouldn't have let this happen, but c'est la vie. Stephen could win by winning almost any other space on the board. Fortunately for us, he was totally out of cards.
We recouped quickly as I started a bit of a "passing" game (letting other players win cities cheaply) in a frantic attempt to populate the board with opposition colors while Stephen was out of cards and couldn't play. By the end of the round, we were all in good positions (except Gee). I made a stupid play at the end of round 1 by declaring a battle in the only city that could win the game for me when I had very few cards in hand.
I lost, of course. My first move at the start of Round 2 was to try to re-coup. My only hope was to win two empty spaces next to another city that I "owned". I picked the territory that was furthest out from my existing city... one that could allow David or Stephen to win. Surprisingly, David bowed out early.
An epic battle ensued between me and Stephen. In a great display of gamesmanship (as he termed it), he tried to deplete my hand with skillful use of raven cards. Fortunately, I had a large hand of cards and many ravens of my own. This battle must have lasted 15 tense minutes. I held strong, and he bowed out with 3 "good" cards in hopes of winning the next territory. But he didn't. I snagged the next city for the win by using a 10 card followed by a surrender card. I guess I was lucky that nobody matched my first play of a strength 10 soldier.
Very short game. Ended in round 1 after only 5 battles. We hadn't learned much from the first game... or maybe David hadn't. By the end of the 3rd battle, Gee was in one of the southern cities and Stephen had picked up 2 northern cities that were separated by one city... but Stephen only had one card left.
David then won the northwest-most province in battle 4 and wanted to win a 2nd city nearby. The only open city available to David was that could give Stephen the win. David declared a battle there. I had crap left in my hand and was itching to toss out my Winter card... so I did... thinking that Gee or David (who each had 7 cards) would win the city. To my surprise, Stephen played a Heroine card (strength 10... even in Winter) and won the game because neither Gee nor David could muster 11 points and neither had the Bishop card.
Doh! I should've been smarter about playing the Winter card... and waited until Stephen was out of cards... but I was banking on David and Gee to have some worthwhile cards out of the 7 or so in their hands.
Enjoyable game. The small board makes for a fast and tense game. It helps to play a warm-up game to get familiar with the card powers and card distribution.
COMMENTS FROM GEE:
1. you always need to assume that the other guy has exactly what he needs to win or to screw you over.
2. you need to play this like Texas Hold'em and bow out early if your hand is not good.