With Jay's new Mayfair 3rd edition just arriving, we decided to break the set in. First off, we all found the artwork very nice and satisfactory, in spite of some of the complaints heard over the net. In particular, the cards were excellent. The only complaint ... and it is VERY minor ... is that the choice of pawn colors of orange and red is a bit poor as the color contrast between the two is not that great.
One of the surprising aspects of this game was that it was 7 or 8 turns before an '8' was rolled. This caused a severe drought in wheat production, inhibiting building for many turns. The result was large public works projects in the form of road building being undertaken by all players, with Lenny outpacing the others due to his regular wood production. He used his position on a '3 for 1' port to trade his abundance of wood for brick and quickly constructed the longest road. He scooped the Longest Road card and did not relinquish it for the entire game.
Walt, meanwhile, this being his first play of the game, made an initial placement mistake and was sandwiched between the coast and the desert. Lenny beat him to a few construction sites, thereby insuring that Walt would not be a threat in this game.
Jay opted for the 'Pick a Card' strategy, which resulted in him constructing Catan's largest army. He held this title for most of the game. Initially, Jay appeared to be the front runner as his sheep farms produced regularly. As time wore on, however, they went dormant and his game position stagnated. Lenny was even able to steal the 'Largest Army' card away from him.
It was at this point that my strategy of forsaking the 'Longest Road' and 'Largest Army' struggles and instead concentrating on positioning and city building began to bare fruit. I regularly was receiving 2 - 3 bricks and/or 2 -3 wheats per player turn. Coupled with some nice port locations, this enabled me to regularly trade my abundant commodities for whatever other resources I needed. I was able to construct numerous cities and cemented the victory.
The final tallies: Greg 10, Lenny 8, Jay 7, Walt 6
Rating: Jay 8, Lenny 8, Greg 8, Walt 7