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Subject: Isleworth Boardgamers Pray and Improvise rss

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Philip Thomas
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Another three player game, with Gareth the only person who’d played before. Rules explanation was fairly swift and Gareth was randomly determined as starting player. He began by chopping wood, Andy took peat, and I also chopped wood (using the Joker), then Gareth built the ‘Cloister Courtyard’ which allows you to turn 3 different goods into 6 goods all of the same basic type. Andy now built the Priory, which allowed him to use a building occupied by a Prior- the Cloister Courtyard being the only available choice. I built the Spinning Mill, which gives coins for having sheep without using up the Sheep.

I was looking to spend my coins on an extension to my property, but Andy was faster. Play continued with me looking to place all my workers before buying another building. In this I succeeded, and after buying a bit of seaside was able to build and use the House Boat (a relative of the House Goat in Agricola?). The others were building away too- more rapidly than me because not so concerned about recovering all their workers.

Soon we got to stage ‘A’, one of five stages in which everyone can place a building from their hand which costs food and fuel. I built a Fishing Village next to my House Boat. The game continued with Gareth building the Stone Merchant, which is the only way to get Stone in the early game- unsurprisingly both me and Andy ended up paying Gareth for its use (though in my case not until some way after stage 'B'). Andy beat me to the ‘False Lighthouse’ and I ended up buying a monastic building which converted clay and stone to pottery and wrought Iron, both worth VPs. Gareth meanwhile had bought some hills and mountains and a Peat Charcoal Kiln.

As stage ‘B’ appeared, with me building an Artist’s Quarter next to the Fishing Village, Andy and Gareth stormed ahead of me on the building front, with stone circles, shipyards, scriptoria and the like. I concentrated on accumulating basic goods- particularly Sheep to help my spinning mill. I was able to take Sheep myself using ‘Joker’ and pay Andy to take Sheep in the following round, leaving me with 12 sheep at one point, several of which went into making the Hamlet in stage ‘C’, just above the Artist’s Quarters.

The appearance of the Quarry heralded a new source of Stone, if someone could afford to build it- it would cost 5 coins to buy the mountain required and another 5 to build the Quarry. I started saving coins by use of the Spinning Mill, and by building the Fuel Merchant, but Andy built the Quarry ahead of me. I was now making frequent use of other player’s buildings since they had built more than me- I picked up some books from one of Andy’s at about this time.

Stage ‘D’ came and I built the Village- it was already apparent that Andy was a little behind in this area of the game as he hadn’t saved enough food and fuel and had to be content with less valuable settlements. I piled up even more Coins on the 10 I had saved for the Quarry and purchased a 20 Coin building which allowed me (for a whisky, which I’d obtained from Andy’s False Lighthouse a little earlier) to use an occupied building- including other people’s without paying for them as a quick rules check clarified. In fact I used it for a very mundane gathering of Grain via Gareth’s Farmyard. Shortly afterwards Gareth built the Whisky Distillery, increasing costs on using buildings.

We were now getting into the final stages of the game. Andy built the Castle, allowing him to play another card from his hand. Gareth concentrated on building as much as possible and also on gathering sheep and grain so he could turn them into meat via his slaughterhouse- a technique I also used- both of us looking to build the Hilltop Village at stage ‘E’ for 30 food (and 3 fuel).

Going into the final turns Andy built a valuable Round Tower, forcing me to build the Guesthouse instead. Actually the Guesthouse won me the game- it allows you to use one of the unbuilt buildings, and I was able to activate it twice, first to turn 6 different goods into an 8vp chalice and then to turn chalice, wrought iron, pottery and book into a 30 VP sacred painting. Both me and Gareth played the Hilltop Village, while Andy had to be content with Shanty Town. Andy and Gareth where ahead of me in buildings but I had 45 VPs in goods- the Painting and 5 Ceramics, which swung it for me.


Gareth 191 Andy 198 Philip 202
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Philip Thomas
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Delaric wrote:
Wow I can't believe someone had to build the Shantytown at the end! Unless they only had the Hilltop Village and that to choose from.


I shouldn't think so- Andy used the Castle once, so he still had at least 2 cards left. He was just very short of food and fuel. (Incidentally, much has been made of the lack of feeding requirement in Ora et Labora, but it seems periodic expenditure of food and fuel, if not strictly speaking required, is highly beneficial). The Shanty Town was still worth a fair amount of net VPs, mind.
 
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Rob White
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I've only been playing the game this week, but I noticed you're putting your settlements next to each other and above/below each other. For some reason in my mind I've been thinking that they would be better on "every other" space. That way a really strong building could be shared by more than one settlement. I need to try you method.

Rob
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Philip Thomas
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Rob in Richmond wrote:
I've only been playing the game this week, but I noticed you're putting your settlements next to each other and above/below each other. For some reason in my mind I've been thinking that they would be better on "every other" space. That way a really strong building could be shared by more than one settlement. I need to try you method.

Rob


Gareth was using a more carefully planned 'every other space' layout. But he was building more other buildings than I was, which meant he could fill most of the gaps in the spaces.
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Justin Dee
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It really depends on what settlements and buildings you have; as a fairly obvious rule of thumb, you should always try to put settlements next to the highest dwelling value things. Sometimes this means other settlements (A square with Hilltop Village, Village, Artist Colony, and Hamlet is pretty strong), sometimes this means high-value buidlings. Shanty Town can be really good but just don't put it next to other settlements, again fairly obviously.

In our experience players end up building 6 of the 8 settlements more often than not. Which two get left out, however, varies; usually it's the Shanty Town and either the Fishing Village or the Hilltop Village, occasionally the regular village. However, if you have the spare action, building the Shanty Town as your 7th settlement on the last turn can often score you at least 6 points, which is average to high for a single action in the late game. The highest score I've seen in a real 3p or 4p game had all settlements but the Farming Village built, albeit some of them in comparatively low-scoring places.
 
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