By: Jerry Maus
Kurt Meyer chose this popular game and was joined by Willard Fann, Ashton Arnold, Jay Ouzts and myself (Jerry Maus). The factions represented were: Ashton - Venice; Willard - Paris; Kurt - Genoa; Jay - London; and Jerry - Barcelona.
Turn one was peaceful with players taking whatever territories that were within their grasp. First contact occurred on turn 2 when Venice reduced a Genoan city. Genoa promptly retaliated, playing 'Alchemist's Gold' on Venice, which cost him 1/2 of his recorded cash. This turned out to be a stumbling block which Venice never fully recovered from as it prevented him from purchasing ship upgrades for a few turns. Paris also pounced upon Venice with the play of the 'WAR' card. Genoa, meanwhile, occupied most of North Africa and it appeared that Genoa and Barcelona were on a collision course.
Conflict was avoided, however, when Barcelona played 'Crusades' on turn 3 and shipped his troops off to the Middle East, eventually taking control of most of the Black Sea area. Neither Venice nor Genoa had the ships to challenge Barcelona. Barcelona's position was never seriously challenged and proved to be the springboard to victory. London and Barcelona raced for the Far East with Ocean Navigation, while Venice finally made its first Advance purchase but lagged behind his competitors by three or four advances.
Turn 4 saw the purchase of Holy Indulgence by Barcelona and Genoa. Barcelona, by virtue of their majorities in wine, spice and silk, began to distance himself from his neighbors. Barcelona used Urban Ascendancy, plus the bonus for most new markets, to amass a handful of 'nasty' cards (Longbow, Civil War, Famine, Rebellion, Mysticism and the dreaded Black Death). At this point, Jay began his 'Get Jerry' mantra.
Turns 5 & 6 saw Paris attack Barcelona, while Genoa succeeded in wresting control of one market from the Spaniards, too. London preferred to let the others do the fighting as he purchased New World. Venice had still not upgraded beyond Galley 4 and was unable to aid in the attack on Barcelona. Venice opted instead to scuffle with Paris.
Turn 7 saw Paris continue its relentless attack on Barcelona. Genoa and London did not attack, however (was the threat of the Black Death real, or just a bluff?). Venice was still not in a position to attack. Barcelona, however, had purchased 28 tokens and went last. He also managed to purchase 'Cathedral', which he used to take control of one market from each opponent plus one Far East market. As a result, Barcelona again received the bonus for most new markets and drew a 'Wine' commodity, of which he was the majority holder. London had suffered the loss of four markets during the turn.
Turn 8 saw London go first with just 7 tokens, while Barcelona again went last with 34 tokens. With Longbow and Black Death still in his hand and the intent to purchase Nationalism and Proselytism (which wins die rolls on the green die), he was loaded for 'bear'. Barcelona then drew a 'Spice' card and purchased another card, which turned out to be yet another spice card ... and he was the majority holder of spice! Cash was flowing freely as the commodities were played, yielding over $300 to Barcelona on that turn alone.
Barcelona was able to purchase six advances, giving him a total of 22. London and Genoa each had 16. London convinced the others that there was no way to stop Barcelona and the game was conceded. Final tally:
Barcelona (Jerry): 1659
London (Jay): 923
Venice (Ashton): 846
Genoa (Kurt): 836
Paris (Willard): 700
Comments: Success in the game depends upon planning and maneuver. You can not win the game through conflict. I only attacked twice in order to obtain majorities in certain commodities. This, of course, was before my retribution attacks using Cathedral on turn 7. Luck does play a part, such as my drawing the Crusades, but to continually gamble tokens on die rolls is foolish.
Purchase of the right commodities is also important. I have certain ones which are goals in every game I play, but this does vary with the power which you play.
I have been asked how I do so well at this game (Jerry has won 3 of the 4 games he's been involved in), having won with Hamburg, London and Barcelona. Maneuver, planning, proper advance purchases, little conflict and possessing LOTS of cards ... all are keys. I like to have as many cards as possible through drawing, purchase, having a majority in a commodity which is in shortage, and by obtaining the bonus for market expansion each turn. I feel that this gives a player more control over his fate (remember, however, that I finished DEAD LAST when I played Genoa).
This has been an unpaid editorial. We invite your reply if you disagree. Write your reply on the toilet tissue in Greg's bathroom!