Well, we got the group together for our 3rd gaming session, and broke a couple of streaks - without further ado, the players were again:
Green - Me
Yellow - Mark
Gray - Mike
Blue - Eric
Black - Matt
Initial setup (random via dealing out cards) left me with strong positions in both Australia and South America, Matt with a strong position in Africa, Eric and Mike roughly splitting up North America and Europe, and Mark was scattered all over the place, mostly in various Asian territories.
After turn 1, I was able to consolidate control of both South America and Australia. I had high hopes at this point - two continents conquered very early, and in our first 2 games the first player to gain solid control over Australia went on to win. However, this would, strangely enough, prove my undoing - I split my attention across two separate continents with no shared supply lines between the two. This effectively cut my firepower in either continent in half!
After turn 2, Matt was able to consolidate control over Africa. I made a paltry attempt to take Central America to keep Mike from grabbing North America too early. After a couple of lousy dice rolls, I gave up on Central America with minimal losses (one lesson learned from last time!). Luckily enough, Eric skirmished with Mike for the first 4 or 5 turns - the two fought over the Canadian provinces while I quietly massed my armies.
Mark managed to keep in the game, taking a card and not pushing too hard each turn. He decided to prove that slow and steady CAN win the race.
After 4 turns, I had enough cards to turn in a set, but chose to hold off. My line of thought was that I could hold off for another turn or two, let the other guys claim the 4, 6, and even 8 army card sets, then I could exchange for a larger batch of armies. Unfortunately, I hadn't thought about the Brazil / North Africa border - Matt and I had skirmished across that border a few times, and both our borders were weakened.
In that same turn, Matt turned in his first set of cards and managed to break my Brazilian line. Some unfortunate (for me) dice rolls allowed him to steamroll through South America. Eric immediately followed, turning in a set and conquering most of Europe. Then Mark, without turning in a set of cards, decided to pile his massed forces from India into Siam, where the bulk of my forces resided. He was unable to take me down that turn, though he significantly weakened my defense of Australia. Up next, Mike continued his North American skirmishing with Eric.
When I got the chance to go again, I turned in a small set (worth 6 armies) to fortify Siam. I took China, to get my card, and then retreated to Siam to attempt to hold Australia.
On the following turn, Mike completed his conquest of North America and Eric briefly completed his land grab in Europe. Matt solidified his borders and pushed into Southern Europe, preventing Eric from holding Europe for a complete turn. Then Mark turned in a set of cards and routed my forces in and about Australia. This was the first streak broken that day - I, the first player to grab a hold of Australia, not only failed to win, but I was the first player eliminated! I turned over my cards to Mark, leaving him with 6 cards. He was then forced (the horror!) to turn in another set. He used those forces to solidify his borders and hunker down and wait.
In the next couple of turns, Mark began a push into Eastern Europe and a tentative push into Africa, robbing Matt and Eric both of their continents. Eric turned in a strong set of cards and was able to take back most of Europe but, more importantly, he swept through Mike's holdings in North America. Mike, at that point, joined me on the loser's couch...
Not wanting to leave the two of us alone out there, 2 turns later Mark turned in another set of cards and eliminated Matt. This was the second big streak we broke that night. Matt had a 2 game winning streak going, but on this particular night he found himself joining those of us on the loser's couch.
It was then just a matter of time before Mark was able to clean up and finish off Eric. Eric was able to hold onto North America for 2 turns, but his European position was compromised, and he was unable to withstand Mark's armies for long.
I definitely found it interesting that this time, not only did the first holder of Australia not pull off the win, but the eventual winner started off the game with the weakest position of the 5 of us. Time-wise, this game was also similar to our 2nd play-through, lending a little credence to our initial observation that the 5 player game moves a little faster than the 4 player game.