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Subject: Game Night - 4 December 2004 rss

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For the second week in a row, the games of the evening were Euphrat & Tigris, Goa and Puerto Rico.

Fred and G arrived a bit late, so Jay and I had set up a two-player game of Euphrat & Tigris. While the newcomers dined on the Colonel's Best Fried Fowl, Jay and I battled for the hearts, minds and real estate of the good people of Babylon.

Jay took the Archer Dynasty and opened on the Western banks of the twin rivers. As I usually do in two-player E&T games, I placed two of my signature Urn Dynasty leaders in the same kingdom he'd established. In this kind of game, it's always best to keep your enemy as close as you can. While our leaders within that kingdom existed harmoniously for a few turns, I sent my Trader to the south to start up a new kingdom with the intent of building up its markets in preparation for economic war with the first kingdom.

Alas, this gambit was easily noticed and the Archer Trader in the first kingdom began spreading the wealth around as well. With that gambit blocked, I opened another kingdom in the far east, at the delta. Jay was unwilling to chase me down, and I pointed that out to him later as a mistake. The isolation allowed my to block off the Temples in the area from incursion by new leaders. That in turn allowed me to erect a well-protected Monument to the Gods of Agriculture and Religion. In the south, the economic stalemate allowed me to gamble and also erect a Monument to the Gods of the City and Trade. Jay immediately attacked the latter, but failed to penetrate the kingdom's defenses twice. Thus disheartened, he left the kingdom alone and opened a new kingdom to the north.

That was the game right there; with all four of my Urn Dynasty Leaders gaining favor from Monuments over the next five or six turns, I began to force the treasures on the board to be taken either by my own Trader or by Jay's Trader. Jay finally had an infrastructure strong enough to attack my positions, but by that time I could withdraw all my leaders from the board and force Jay's Trader to take the remianing two treasures to end the game. It may have been a better gamble for Jay to either move or withdraw his Trader to an area where I couldn't forcibly end the game. Regardless, it was... well, a massacre.

Richard: 15/15/18/22
Jay : 7/ 8/14/18

While Jay and I were finishing up our game, Fred and G had set up Rudiger Dorn's Goa at the other end of the table. Goa has been on our minds for the past several weeks since I introduced the game to the group, and we've been itching to get it back to the table.

Jay had resolved that he would attempt to give the game a go without the expedition track. Fred, G and I had already accepted that since all four players would eventually complete the game with ALL tracks at the 6VP level, there was no point in doing the expedition track last.

I was going for a no-tax game, leaving the taxation track for last and completing the expedition, harvest and ship contract tracks in that order of priority. I won the flag three of the four turns of the first half, plus a double nutmeg plantation. I didn't win much else of note in the first half auctions, as G snarfed up two of the four red tiles, Fred several plantations, and Jay several bunches of resources.

When the dust had cleared after the first half, I had my expedition track at 10, the ship track at 3, the harvest and colony tracks at 1 and my tax track hadn't moved. With Fred having been shut out of the auctions, and G pursuing a taxation strategy, Jay and G had most of the cash in the system.

In the second half, we all began abusing our maxed tracks. I'd draw 3 expedition cards every turn or so, Fred would deplete his spices via development or sale, G would tax for 10 gold a lot, and Jay would do a little of everything.

One particularly sweet sequence was pivotal. I had won the espionage tile, which the other didn't really feel was extremely powerful. I was also sitting on the Duty tile, which I had paid a pretty penny for in the first half. Finally I had just acquired a 3-cinnamon plantation really cheap since no one wanted it. I asked the Spice Trader ("Sell spices for 3 gold each" expediton card) to unload all six spice bags I had for 18 ducats. I then got my spies to steal Harvesting Tech from Fred, and Harvested eight spices (using the espionage tile). I donated six of the freshly-harvested spices to the Crown as was my Duty (gaining 4VP), and finally used the last two spices with two ships to upgrade my Taxation track. Whee, that was FUN! laugh

In the final auction I bid all my cash (17 ducats) to win the Swap tile, which I cashed in for two Extra Actions. I used both of those to draw six Expedition Cards, to see if I could have some esoteric goods for the endgame.

Final scores:
Richard: 49
Jay : 45
Fred : 42
G : 39

So the final margin of victory came from my Duty tile. Without it, Jay and I would have tied, and since I was penniless and he has 30 ducats, he would have won. With his expedition track at zero. So that makes something like seven or eight games where having a maxed expedition track by the end of the first half didn't really count as a huge advantage in the end, despite the combo acrobatics. Jay played the auctions extremely well, we felt, and he was always able to win a tile that he really wanted, except for that swap tile at the very end. (He didn't think that the Swap tile was worth the 3VP "Most Cash" award - he may have been right.)

As usual, another fabulous outing for this most intriguing of titles. It's still a 9 in my book.

Once that was over, we tried to decide what to play. It was 10:30 pm, and we wanted to end around midnight. Our choices were Amun-Re, Torres, Java, Power Grid or Puerto Rico. I also had Colossal Arena in my bag, but Fred wasn't a fan, so it wasn't in the running. In the end, we felt that Puerto Rico was the best choice since we had all played it, oh, a few dozen times. Shows you what we knew.

Two-minute Rapid Setup due to the Fawkes System, and we were off. I was in the dreaded second seat, and to the left of Jay, who is a notorious defensive player in PR. This was going to be an uphill battle. The opening had me screwed for a while with an Indigo plantation, a Tobacco plantation, and a Small Market. Jay had small Indigo and Sugar plants humming, while G already had a Coffee roasting away. I eventually fought back to have my Tobacco, Indigo and a new Sugar plant on line, and grabbed a Harbor. However, Jay had set up with a small warehouse and four corn plants to go with his sugar and indigo, thanks to his hacienda. Fred had a fully-loaded indigo operation, which really wasn't a good sign for him. G had both Coffee and Tobacco going at this point.

This was the game's turning point. G and I built harbors, while Jay built a factory. What happened after that was a brutal, defensive and spectacularly fun mid- and end-game. The Craftsman and Captain were picked practically every turn, and there was a lot of bloody play on the boats and several barrels of goods were spoiled each turn. There was no time for anyone to grab a wharf, and the Builder was also taken constantly until everyone ran out of cash. At one point the Prospector had four doubloons on it, and the Trader and Mayor had three each. G and I made up some ground on Jay with some Harbor play, but with the warehouse, he could wait a turn with his seven corn (usually due to a double craft) and load it all on the following turn. There was a lot of smack talk at the table, and several rounds of jokes and laughs, but at the end of the day, I already knew that Jay would just keep increasing his lead so I ended the game by drawing all the slaves in from the islands.

I was right.

Final scores:
Jay : 60 (Residence)
Richard: 54 (Guild Hall)
G : 52 (City Hall)
Fred : 47 (Customs House, Fortress)

The game completed at 1:30 am, by far the longest, most brutal and yet most laugh-out-loud, exciting, fun and satisfying game of Puerto Rico we had played in a long time. That's saying a lot, because we play Puerto Rico once or twice a week.

So, I got to play two of my 10-rated games, and one of my 9-rated games, for two weeks running. (Of course I'm cheating a bit, since I'm only bringing the good stuff to the game session. )

Next week looks like Java, Torres, Goa and Puerto Rico will be the schedule, but one might get bumped depending on play length...
 
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Joe Gola
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Great report!
 
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Jody Ludwick
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Very nice Fawkes, looking forward to next weeks report.
 
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Gerald Cameron
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What Joe and Jody said
 
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Joe Gola
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Geez, only three comments for this swell on-topic journal entry? Maybe you should retitle it "My Complaints about BGG" or "Why Smurfette Gives Me a Boner" to trick people into reading game-related content.
 
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Kane Klenko
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Great report Fawkes!

Two-minute Rapid Setup due to the Fawkes System, and we were off

So, what's your secret? Lots of baggies I assume.

Oh, and thanks a lot...now I'm craving KFC.
 
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Norbert Chan
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Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
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As usual, a good report, Richard.
Remind me not to play E&T against you.meeple
 
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Chester
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Man, I want to come over next time! Great game night report.
 
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