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Subject: Return to Terra rss

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Rob Olsson
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Eight months after our original forays into Terra, our original gaming group plus three returned to the round scoring board of Terra for another go. Having read that one of the challenges in this game is to have enough players to topple the player who wants to end the game rather than see anyone else win, we hoped that six players would be enough. And perhaps it would have worked, had there been only one naysayer.

As a quick review, our gaming group tends to prefer the screw-you method of play, which makes a somewhat cooperative game like Terra a difficult one for us. In a horse race, there is only one winner. In Ticket to Ride, there is only one winner. In checkers, there is only one winner. You catch the theme here.

In Terra, there may be one winner or no one will win. The trick to the game (in my vast experience of five playings) is working with the group to make sure that no one gets too far ahead and then make sure you are the player who can take the lead before the 18th disaster shows up on the board.

Essentially, you are a team until the last few rounds. Only in our gaming group, certain members would not contribute to the greater good until it benefited them. As a result, both games ended in a rout. In both cases, we had seven full-blown disasters on the board when we got to the end.

I was in a good position because the player before me saw that we could only win through cooperation. I was also in a bad position because the two players who followed me would not place cards until they were sure they would get a return. Through two games, we only turned one small impending disaster back and solved five full-blown disasters.

Of the six players, three had played the game before, one had joined our group for the first time, and two were experienced gamers who had not played Terra before. Two of the newer players started playing the game too conservatively. With four players fully in it for themselves, there is no chance of making it to the final round.

I top-decked three large-numbered cards to collect points for three full-blown disasters, so at the time that the second game ended, I was in the better position to win. I only had one card at the end of the game, however, because I had made contributions to try to help the group.

We also picked an unusually high number of disasters in our first game. You should expect one in five, but we were running one in three, and with a two-card hand to start, that is not a lot of resources to work with.

I would be interested in reading more about how other people play this game. And I am sure we will return to it in the fullness of time.
 
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