Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
This game of Santiago was played between Randy (black), Mel (purple), Rich (grey) and me (off-white). It was Mel's first game, Randy's 3rd, my 3rd and Rich's 2nd. I'm really enjoying Santiago: it plays quickly, and has a lot of negotiation and decision-making in it.
Decisions like: where to irrigate? Where to place your crop? And how much to bribe the Canal Overseer when he'd like nothing more than to leave your crop to dry no matter how much you offer him... but there might be an offer he can't refuse!
I had hopes in the early game to muck up Randy's chilli (red) crop. Allowing one player to gain a monopoly on something is bad. My green crop was too far off the beaten track to be worth much - I needed to do better - and Rich and Mel were getting a nice bean crop going in the middle there.
As it turned out, my crop of green (whatever they're meant to represent) started growing thanks to the other players, and I gained many points as a result. Randy proved himself to be a master Overseer, gaining much more money in bribes than we gained when we had the role ourselves. After "green", I was very happy with my potato crop - but had I spent too much money gaining those potatoes?
Randy's chilli crop came back with a vengeance, despite my hopes for blocking it and leaving it to dry out. My potatoes continued to do well, and Mel invested more in "green". Bananas were not a cash crop this game. Meanwhile, Rich was quietly gaining shares of most of the crops.
The final stages saw the overseer (mostly Randy) doing horrible things to our crops - although in the final turn, Mel was the overseer and I offered her a single dollar to help herself and not Randy - which she promptly did. Randy had a great amount of money at game's end - $29 - the rest of us were basically poor. However, Randy's crop wasn't as good as ours - how would we score?
The answer to that question proved to be astonishingly close: only $8 separated first from last... and Rich was the player who came up in first place.
Rich $103 ($5 +24 +27 +6 +25 +16)
Randy $98 ($29 +18 +18 +1 +10 +6 +16)
Merric $95 ($9 +45 +1 +40)
Mel $95 ($1 +8 +45 +18 +9 +16)