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Subject: Sharpening the Skills rss

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Chuck Uherske
United States
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MarraCash had taken longer than we expected, and time was short, but I lobbied Rick and Kelly to see if we could get through a "lightning game" of Ra. They agreed, and off we went.

Ra is one of those games where you can build knowledge from game to game. One definitely feels oneself improving as one gets a better feel for the valuations and how to treat the game situations.

I've been doing well at Ra, but there is still plenty for me to learn. Last game, I decided I'd been valuing the monuments too high, and adjusted this time around. But this time, too, I felt after the game that I was making errors; specifically, this game, I bid too passively in the early going of each epoch, using faulty reasoning. It doesn't do much good to only go for lots worth "x" in the early going of an epoch if that means that one is spending suns for "one-third x" late in the round. But that's effectively what I was doing by bidding too low. It's far better to pick up several lots steadily worth "three-quarters x". I need to not be so thrown by the fact that an epoch is young, and to remember that there's a certain limit to how valuable the total lots in an epoch are likely to be. I don't think we've yet played a game epoch of Ra in which the Ra track didn't get mostly filled up by the end of the round.

Still, this was an unusual game of Ra for us. I did almost exactly the opposite of what I usually do (not because my own behavior changed so much, but rather because my opponents' did). Each epoch, I was the guy sitting on several suns as the round drew down. Also, whereas in the previous game I had been strong in Nile/flood tiles, this time I was very strong in pharaohs.

Rick was playing differently this time around, invoking Ra frequently, which normally I'm the one doing. He often did it when I wasn't ready to bid on the lot, so he and Kelly started using up their suns before I did.

Our first epoch, the Ra tiles came up fast and furious. I'm not even sure that I spent all my suns, in fact I don't think that I did. I had the most points at the end of the round because I led in pharaohs, had a gold tile, and avoided a civilization penalty. And I had good suns going into following rounds. But both Rick and Kelly had compiled much more in other areas: monuments and Nile/flood tiles among them.

In the second round, I did buy with all of my suns, but it was quite similar. Rick and Kelly caught me in pharaohs that round and also each piled on with the monuments. But I had a huge lead in suns coming into the last round.

The last round was a bit odd; both Rick and Kelly spent all of their suns before the Ra track was half gone. So it was mine to get as much as I could before the game ended. I definitely screwed up, allowing one profitable lot to get away from me in a way that forced me to take a lesser one later.

But overall, I felt that I was in a good spot because the Ra tiles had some up so frequently early on that I figured there had to be few Ras left per other tile, leaving me with big lots.

I did get nervous at one point wherein two consecutive Ras came up, but I was still able to get enough good stuff to win the game.

The final score was:

Chuck 49
Rick 41
Kelly 23

Since we start with 10, that means that I picked up 39 points along the way. I think this came roughly from: 15 in pharaohs, 6 in gold, 6 in monuments, 5 from the best sun group at the end. That means that I got 7 points from some combination of flood/Nile tiles and god tiles.

Rick had 15 from the monuments alone, and I believe the majority of the rest of his points were from floods/Niles.

Rick is clearly learning quickly at the game, so I'll need to keep improving to stay ahead of him.
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