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Subject: Large, wealthy and poor at the same time! rss

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Merric Blackman
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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
I seem to have been playing quite a bit of London recently. It actually isn't one of my favourite games, but it's an easy game to teach and isn't immediately obvious how to win. Indeed, occasionally some strategies lead to really poor results, as in this game.

Both Jackson and Dylan were new to this game; indeed, Dylan rarely plays boardgames with me. However, Dylan picked up the rules pretty quickly, as did Jackson... though I did have to keep reminding both to draw a card at the start of the turn!

I had a fairly poor hand to begin with; it contained very few sources of income and not many matching colours! So, I took a borough as my first turn and drew a much better hand. This play allowed me to put down several money sources and a hospital, but it did mean I was starting with a 5-stack city. Dylan played his hand, and Jackson likewise, although Jackson remained with a number of cards in hand which would cause his poverty to grow.

My tableau below (green); Dylan at top-right (red), Jackson at top-left (blue)

We began to compete in buying boroughs. Dylan got the City and went north whilst Jackson went to get more cards in hand in the south of the city. I took Westminster to allow myself to have at least some victory points on the board.

Dylan's city remained small (Coffee House, Hospital, Bank of England and Steamboats), whilst Jackson's began to fill up (East India Company, Brixton Prison, School, Hospital, Water Works). I wanted money, but Jackson wanted to reduce his poverty. Very civic-minded of him!

A wonderful moment came when I drew both Omnibuses and played them; however, neither Jackson nor Dylan were allowing me to gain a lead in boroughs. To be fair, Jackson was mostly going for More Cards, but Dylan and I paid more attention to the points that could be scored at the end of the game. Dylan managed to keep his city size down to 5, but he was gaining a lot of money from it: something I approved of.

Jackson continued to wage war on poverty, but was himself poor. A School and Street Lights were draining his money.

My city reached epic proportions: nine stacks! Two omnibuses, a School, the University of London, two Bridges, Millbank Prison, Workers' Houses, Street Lights and a Brewery. I had access to a lot of money, but my poverty was turning into a problem. There were also few things to buy with the money, and the game was moving towards its end.

The final stages of the game went by extremely rapidly. Dylan managed to play two Undergrounds and use them to increase his borough points markedly. Jackson's War On Poverty finally saw him reduce his poverty to nothing, although his money troubles saw him take out two loans.

When the end of the game was triggered, I had a lot of pink cards in hand that I would have loved to have run (including the Underground), but my best option was just to play the ones worth static victory points and hope. Dylan placed his third and fourth underground stations in his final turn, and - despite having only five stacks - still had something of a poverty problem. Jackson just emptied his hand, and all that remained was tallying up the score.

Dylan 56 (18 VP chits, 1 money, -9 poverty, -7 loans, 34 boroughs, 19 cards).
Merric 48 (8 VP chits, 1 money, -7 poverty, -7 loans, 28 boroughs, 25 cards).
Jackson 35 (13 VP chits, 0 money, 0 poverty, -14 loans, 19 boroughs, 17 cards).

In the end, Dylan was the winner, and the second Underground had a lot to do with it. So was my lack of focus on gaining points - it was a surprising low number of VP chits I gained during the game. I hadn't proved so successful in turning money into VPs. Jackson wasn't poor, but he wasn't well-off, either!

It was a good game, and a well-deserved victory to Dylan!
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