With the departure of Jerry, Lenny and Eric, five of us remained for another game. With consideration for the time remaining, Rheinlander was a logical choice. (Gee ... 5 Knizia games in one night!).
I still continue to enjoy this game, even though I still contend it is not very thought provoking or deep. Nonetheless, I find it reasonably fun to play and with five player, the board tends to become more crowded earlier in the game. This makes for more potential conflict situations to deal with.
I wasn't blessed this time with many cards which were adjacent to castles. Instead, most of my cards were near cathedrals, so this is the route I pursued. I'm usually not fond of this approach, as the cathedral power tends to be wrested away quickly as opponents make sure no one possesses it for long. Sure enough, Jon and I battled over it throughout the early stages of the game. Ultimately, neither of us were able to exercise its power.
Ashton was suffering early on, only having two dukes on the board well past the midway point of the game. He concentrated on building one extremely large duchy, which was directly across the river from two of Jon's duchies. Willerd and Darren, meanwhile, were battling for control of the first island, a battle which Darren ultimately won to Willerd's detriment.
Sensing that Jon was leading, I forced a merger between Ashton and Jon's duchies, which gave Ashton a huge duchy. This actually was enough to catapult Ashton up from last place, but not enough to catch the new leader, who was quiet Darren. I suffered from not getting all of my dukes on the board, while Darren benefited from the possession of several large valued cities. It was enough to give him the victory.
Darren 35, Ashton 34, Jon 34, Greg 29, Willerd 27
Ratings: Darren 7, Ashton 7, Willerd 6, Greg 5.5, Jon 5