Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
My second game of Santiago saw me playing it with three newbies (so my one previous game was of vast importance): Ben, Mitch and Pat were the other three players. I played cream, Ben purple, Mitch white and Pat black.
Our initial placements around the spring saw Pat accepting my bribe to water the fields of myself and Mitch. From there, things got very interesting. The twin decision points of bidding on the plantation tiles (or choosing not to and becoming the canal overseer) make this game into one well worth playing. It also rockets along, taking less than an hour to play.
Sometimes, I'd give very generous bribes (as would the other players) only to see them ignored by whoever was the overseer - who often was Pat. Then, the smallest bribe might succeed. Blocking the other players was also very popular. I grew wary of Mitch's Chili fields, as well as any field Pat was in.
My potatoes were cut off from further expansion, so I went into beans, sharing them with Pat and Ben. Ben went for a big potato plantation all of his own in one corner, and Mitch just spread out for a share of everything.
As the game came towards its end, Pat spent all of his money on tiles and bribes, and found himself with only the minimum for his last turn - which he spent again. I thought I had more money than I did; I seemed to have let it pass into the hands of Ben and Mitch, who had quite a bit of money when the game ended. Would it be enough? I'd dominated my last beans, but Pat had an astonishingly large field - aided by the other three of us. Too much help from us? It could well be.
Pat scored a massive 56 points from that one field, but he had little other sources of final VPs - and no money. For me, I had one field of 48 and a few other good fields, which was enough to win me the game - a mere four points clear of Mitch who, while he didn't score spectacularly for any field, scored well for many. Ben's fields were disappointing, and he ended in last place.
Merric 112 ($14 +10 +24 +12 +4 +48)
Mitch 108 ($25 +15 +16 +28 +8 +16)
Pat 90 ($0 +56 +21 +1 +12)
Ben 87 ($26 +24 +5 +2 +8 +14 +8)