Norbert Chan
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Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
I had signed up to play at Fallcon since Ora and Labora is not a real popular game in my gaming group. So after Dennis taught the rules to everyone, I sat down at a table with Malcolm, Shane and David. None of them had ever played before, and we were playing the Ireland variant. I warned everyone that the 4 player game was going to take a long time. I had played the France variant five times, but never played the Ireland variant. David suggested I go first since I had played before, so I took 2 wood, and on my bonus turn built the fuel merchant and used my Prior to get 3 energy for 5 gold. Now, I could have gotten more peat first, then built the fuel merchant on the second turn, which I think is a more efficient play. I then used an optional action to purchase the coast landscape. I explained to everyone that the settlement points are a big part of your score and pointed out the coast side gives 3 settlement points if you build a settlement beside it.

David got the stone merchant and had early stone. David built the peat coal kiln and got more energy than everyone else. I think Malcolm built the False Lighthouse (I wasn't sure). My first settlement was a farming village (1 settlement point) but I didn't have much food and energy. Everyone else got a fishing village or market town. I suppose if I were planning ahead I would have tried to get a fishing village (settlement value of 6). But I was letting the game play me and looking at all the buildings I had never seen.

In the B phase, I tried to get the Malthouse (convert wheat to grain and straw) and Brewery (get beer from grain and wheat), but then I realized I didn't have straw, so I did things out of turn by building thre brewery, then using Shane's Cloister Courtyard to get 6 grain. I should have gotten the grain first, then used my Prior to save an action. David was much the same way, trying out the new buildings as they came up.

Malcom built the only mountains and quarry. With his stone, he was able to build the Castle in the C/D phase. I was able to generate enough cash using the alehouse (1 beer for 8 gold and 1 whisky for 7 gold) to build the grand manor for $20 (worht 18 VPs). But I had to get my whisky in a roundabout way, using the Cooperage (spend 3 wood and use joker to collect beer or whisky) to get 4 whisky. I think getting the whisky as food would have helped my settlement points.

Shane said he had been eyeing the sluaghterhouse for a long time and built it in phase D, to get something like 6 or 7 meat. So it was no surprise that Shane could easily build the hilltop village during the last settlement phases.

Malcolm was able to use the chapel (convert whisky and beer to 8 VP lamps, three times) to score a few VPs. I think this was ulitimately the difference in the game.

As the game wound down, I used Malcolm's castle to build a market town (2 settlement), and on the last settlement phase built a shanty town (-3 settlement). Yes, I know, those two buildings are nothing to write home about; next time I'll concentrate on getting energy and food for better buildings. We then counted the scores:

Malcolm 173 (74 settlement, 75 building, 24 VPs),
Norbert 167 (78 settlement, 80 building, 9 VPs),
David 161 (80 settlement, 75 building, 6 VPs),
Shane 158 (74 settlement, 74 building, 14 VPs).

The scores were pretty close from top to bottom. Malcolm played a great game, getting good resources to buy the castle and get down good settlements.We all enjoyed the game. I had forgotten how fun it was to look at each new building and try to use it in a long range plan. More importantly, it was fun to game with 3 new gamers who really appreciated the game.

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