tee hee, that tickles!!!
This was the second playing of Manila for this group -- it was very well received last week as a light "break" between heavier games. (A couple people wanted to play a second time tonight, but the majority felt that once was enough to keep the game fresh without burning it out.) The five players were me, Krystie, Shawn, J.T., and Jason.
The harbormaster auctions started high and stayed that way; I don't think it ever went for less than 20, and hit 25 more than once. I decided that was too rich for my blood, and never took the harbormaster position (although I helped bid it up more than once!). Thus, I ended with only two shares -- but I am not sure being harbor master would have resulted in a profit, as the cost to acquire a third share would have been extreme.
We used the house rule, presented at the Gathering, where each good starts on the "0" rather than the blank space, in order to shorten the game a little bit.
We also played under a rules misapprehension that I thought I explained at the start of the game, but somehow two people didn't hear me. In our first game (and, despite my attempt to correct it, this one), the person taking insurance only paid out to shipyards that were actually occupied by a player's accomplice. The rules state that if a ship ends up in a shipyard with no accomplice, the insurance player must pay the bank -- we didn't play that way, which makes insurance a much better deal.
We also had a very slim night for pirates. There was only one pirate raid, despite a large number of attempts. The biggest randomness turned out to be Krystie winning a long-shot bet on all three boats finishing and raking in the 15.
This is a fun game, but it is highly random -- but random in a good way, since you are aware of the odds and generally have a chance to choose how you want to play them. There's also a moderate amount of strategy in trying to let people close to your right become harbormaster, so you have early picks for accomplice placement.
In the end, however, ginseng hit 30 to end the game. Krystie had the good fortune to have 3 of these, giving her a total of 135. My two shares weren't worth nearly as much; I ended in second place with 100. If one of mine had swung instead of ginseng, that was the game!