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Subject: Session Report rss

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Justin Berman
United States
White River Junction
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While the others went to the other table to play Wongar, Laura, Ellen and Justin decided to play Taj Mahal. This Reiner Knizia gem has been receiving more play around our game tables in recent days. It is one of the better releases this year and one that should have received higher favor for Spiel des Jahres consideration this year (it only made the top 20 list, not even the top 3).

Lots of people on the rec.games.board newsgroup have mentioned that the "elephant strategy" is the strongest approach to winning Taj Mahal. The strategy is simple: Since economic reward for the elephant tiles gets progressively larger with each capture - capture as many economic tiles as you can, as early as you can. At our table this evening, the elephant strategy was used, but the two other players focused on very different strategies.

First, the landscape was such that many of the early resolved elephant tiles were randomly placed consecutively next to each other on the lower left-hand side of the board. This, in my opinion, made it easier to plan for a palace continuity strategy. Ellen did just that. She focused on a the continuity strategy and was having a consistent run of two or three palace placements per turn. This allowed her to capture many of the influence tiles and hence, early in the game secure many special cards. Laura, on the other hand, stuck with the elephant economic strategy and was able to secure several key elephant tiles early. She was also the only player to acquire any gems throughout the game. This gave her a decided advantage over the rest. Towards the middle of the game, Justin managed to secure the Princess Special Card. He was also able to prevent others from taking the card from him for four or five turns. Thus gave him a consistent "+2" bonus every turn and allowed him to catch up with Laura quickly.

However, Laura's strong economic position still propelled her scored to first place.
 
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