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Subject: Grand Cru - 2p rss

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Kurt FromVirginia
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Background notes - this Session report represents my third play of the game. First play (3p) was a complete mistake, as we got 2/3 of the way through the game before we realized we blew the rule regarding year end (i.e. it's either when all but one pass or when the first completes their last harvest) - we also played with open money which is an absolute no-no for this type of game. Quick reset and we got through a full 3p game. So what follows represents the perspective of someone with a good working knowledge of the rules but without a full mastery of the strategy.

Overall comment - the rules are easy to grasp and teach to new players. Shouldn't be a problem for a seasoned Euro gamer to "get".

My opponent and I each took 3 loans to start the game - and the market allowed for multiple big reds - 2 Merlots, 1 Pinot and 1 Cab. The two developments were {2 harvests for 1 buck} and {sell one type for an extra buck}. The initial deal of cards allowed my opponent and I to split the Merlots, with him getting the Pinot and I getting the Cab. He got the 2 harvest development, I got the development to sell for an extra buck.

I go into this detail of the opening purchases because in hindsight, this combination probably drove the win for me more than anything else. In later rounds, we each focused on acquiring new vines and harvesting, generally neither of us looked to push the End of Year trigger until we individually maximized our production and sales opportunities.

I think in year 2 a single Gamay vine came out for bid. I snapped it up for the minimum price and was able to continually harvest and sell this little grape to get an advantage of 3 special action points each year. Except for this one Gamay vine, for about the first five years we prety much saw the same three types of vineyards get drawn - Merlot, Cabs and Pinot. A few other developments came out - but the Accelerate Maturity tile did not come out at all (which seems from my limited play a huge advantage to possess). Once our vineyards were fully up, I had about 3 merlots, 2 cabs and a single gamay and syrah. My opponent had about the same merlots and syrah, but he had two or three pinots.

The game was pretty steady for about 45 minutes as we each calmly went about our process of harvesting and selling. We were each actively building up our strategies, with mine geared towards utilizing the development tile that allows converting one type of harvested wine in a barrel to a different type (i.e. convert my merlots into cabs or vice-versa). Accordingly, I had a couple of opportunities to convert a two or three merlots into cabs and then sell at a higher price.

The big end-of-game-move for me was to plan for a quick end to the year (via passing): Step 1 - in the prior year special action round, I pushed up the demand for cabs to the max level, I spent 1 point to retain control of the Start Player for the next year, and left myself with a good lead on special action points for the next year end. Step 2 - Harvest the one gamay wine, and then sell on the next available action the gamay wine and a single merlot (using the sell 2x development tile) - this locked up a wad of special action points. Step 3 - use the conversion development tile to switch three merlots into three cabs in the barrel that was a single year away from allowing the sale of mature cabs. My opponent didn't seem overly concerned throughout my actions - we each had three outstanding loans and I didn't show the "Sell Cab" strategy until the last moment. Once I triggered the conversion, it was apparent I would pass, and look to complete a sale of non-mature wine in the action round. Nothing my opponent could due as I controlled the Special Action round, and his inventory of Pinots were still a year away from doing damage. One big sale (I think I cleared about 35 bucks on the sale of five cabs), the payoff of loans, and game over.

I found the game very enjoyable as it played out. Again, my opponent and I were content to be happy little vintners and didn't look to be overly competitive. As we become more seasoned with the game, I could see where we would take a much more aggressive approach and employ some screw factors. Not surprisingly, it had a much different feel than the 3p game we played the prior week.

Final thought, the game play is much more enhanced while you've got a couple of bottles of red to consume during the evening.

I say it's a keeper. Next stop, Vinhos....

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Albatros
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Great session report. I take it, you enjoy Grand Cru as a two-player game and would recommend it. Yes?
 
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Wolf Wittenstein
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Thanks for that fine report. Have to try it as a 2p game soon, but hesitate on "a couple of bottles of red" during gameplay ;-)
 
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Kurt FromVirginia
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Lowengrin wrote:
Great session report. I take it, you enjoy Grand Cru as a two-player game and would recommend it. Yes?


I have no problem with the game based on my limited plays (once at 2p and once at 3p). Very happy to have this in my collection as it differentiates itself largely against the masses.
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Kurt FromVirginia
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marshduck wrote:
Thanks for that fine report. Have to try it as a 2p game soon, but hesitate on "a couple of bottles of red" during gameplay ;-)


Perhaps a gewurztraminer? Ein Grosse Bier Bitte?
 
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ANDREAS MILIOPOULOS
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khesser wrote:
Lowengrin wrote:
Great session report. I take it, you enjoy Grand Cru as a two-player game and would recommend it. Yes?


I have no problem with the game based on my limited plays (once at 2p and once at 3p). Very happy to have this in my collection as it differentiates itself largely against the masses.


I very much agree with that. I also just recently tried a 2-player game of Grand Cru. It was a really close call and enjoyed it a lot. I'm also planning to add it to my collection.
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Albatros
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Having played Grand Cru four times now as a two-player and once as a three-player game, I give it a thumbs up as well.
 
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