OK, I know I complain often about never being able to beat Alex whenever I play him. But the fact is, most of the time I'm playing him at a game that I recognize him as being superior to me at. I know I'll rarely (if ever) defeat him at Goa, or for that matter Egizia. (I give myself a fair chance at Ra.) I would stand a better chance on 'my' turf, with games I play often (Le Havre and Agricola come to mind quickly), but he rarely plays these.
With Automobile, I think the jury is still out. Yes, he won both my first two plays of this. But I know I botched the first one, and I thought I fared well in my 2nd effort (where I placed 2nd by less than $500). Further, we were playing against Jim C, who had around 10 games under his belt and was used to winning scores far above what we had accomplished. So I still feel like I'm close to breaking through.
This game, I broke down.
Initial picking order: Alex, Jim, Matt, me.
NOTE: I may have typos from some of the auto spaces. I'm using the screenshot from the BGG image area, but some words remain blurry to me.
Jim took Ford early and often, favoring the early turn order (useful for the distributors and the Executive Decisions) and ability. I ended up with Kettering for the early white cube surplus, and also ended up building the first factories (two in Duryea). I saw high numbers (4s and 5s the whole game) and acted accordingly, maxing out for 7 cars the first round and paying two whites for advertising to play it safe. (Turned out, those were not needed, a harbinger of things to come.)
The 2nd round saw Jim get into the Detroit 40 spot (no one was in luxury at this time), and I decided to go into the earlier high-class spot (Pathfinder 40) instead of paying the one cube (and possibly opening up more of the board) to go to the one just after (I can't read the name off the image from the screenshot I have). I only built one factory there (it would close by game's end) and got six cars out of it (all sold for a net $600 profit), so I thought I was doing well.
Then came round 3.
By now, the black cubes from Duryea were piling up; I would close those factories down after production. I was more interested in getting into the low-end market, but the farthest space occupied (the low-end Ford Model T) was still 3 shy of where I wanted to be. Anyhow, Jim had already maxed out the EMF 30 spot with 3 factories and his parts plant. There was really no reason for me to push hard for that market; better to get back into mid-level territory, paying a cube, maybe 3 cubes, and going from there.
A little history lesson, courtesy of the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader series: when John DeLorean got his futuristic cars into production, he had already known that his car would be overpriced and underperforming. That didn't stop him from producing cars, even after demand long-since dried up, in order to keep his stock options high at the expense of so many others (including his board of directors, and Britain). In the end, he lost it all.
I got Chrysler that round (two more cubes, and the chance to unload some of my 6 black cubes), but no one built a factory any farther before it got to me ... and I got stubborn to the point of total destruction. I spent all my R&D cubes to get into Chrysler G 80, paying for 2 factories and later churning out 9 cars. (Jim already put out 12 in that space, and Matt was also in the market.) I had no white cubes for advertising, and worse, I still had to worry about selling the 4 mid-level Duryeas I took to building at the same time. I only got one 'discount' cylinder and used it with the Duryeas; despite some high numbers, I ended up selling only 6 of my low-end cards, eating $150 in production and 3 more black cubes.
I failed to learn my lesson then and there; Round 4 saw me add a 3rd factory and my parts plant to that spot (all I had apart from the one luxury spot) and churn out 14 more. I got lucky with the double-discount AND an advertising marker to fall to me, but I still ended up with 2 too many cars that round. Even Sloan couldn't offset all the losses, and I ended up earning a huge DFL for my troubles. (I finished with over $1000 less than my last game.)
I went down hard, but took Jim down with me; the competition (and loss cubes) hurt his game, though he still finished 2nd. Alex, who never got into the low-end level, made some sub-optimal moves along the way and finished far below I thought he would end up. And Matt weathered all those storms and parlayed strong sales in all areas into a close victory.
Final score: Matt $4890, Jim $4520, Alex $4130, me $3790.
It's looking more and more that this is my new Goa ... a game I really love to play but absolutely stink at. At the least, I got much to learn about this game before I fare better. One bad decision completely wiped me out.
Well, if GM and Ford can bounce back, maybe there's hope for me yet. But not today.
The Detroit 46 is the last mid-priced factory spot for a very long time. I don't think Jim got into luxury until Round 3, but he did have the most advanced economy and mid-priced factories for a couple of rounds, which was very nice.
I was never able to make enough cars to compete. Considering that I took Chrysler in Round 1, I should have been able to build a better factory, but it just seemed as if my choices were not great when it came around to me. I probably should have jumped to the EMF (I think I had the cubes), but I stubbornly wanted to try something different.
As for Agricola, it is definitely not my strongest game. As for Le Havre, I need to play more. It's just not a top priority for me right now. As for Ra, I think it's interesting that you fear me less in my best game than in other games I'm good at.