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Subject: 4 Player rss

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J Castellucci
United States
San Rafael
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Our group is recovering CCGers, and has sort of drifted apart some. Tim introduced us to a few "eurogames" and that sparked our interest. I made a huge online order and had 20lbs of games arrive via FedEx Saturday afternoon (based on reviews and ratings here on BGG), just in time to read the rules and familiarize myself with the games in time for the four of us -- Tim, Quyen, Denise and John (me) -- to have a huge slug out on Superbowl Sunday. We wound up playing Alhambra, Ra, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Tigris & Euphrates, Elasund, Runebound and Titan: The Arena (individual reports submitted for each game).

1. Alhambra

All of us but Quyen had played this before, and it's Denise's 2nd favorite (after Ticket to Ride). For this session we adopted two rules changes: We used the German scoring variant of scoring walls every round, and we also added the Vizier rule from the expansion (using our color token as the representation for the Vizier).

I had a hunch that the extra points from two additional wall scoring rounds might edge me into the winners circle, so I somewhat diversified going for tiles with more walls (which also happened to get me a lock on Chambers). Denise went for the Tower strategy (where she concentrates on just two tile types, Towers and in this game, Pavilions), Tim hoarded cards (clearly worse when scoring walls every round), and Quyen as a new player didn't have much strategy other than make the best play every round.

The first round found us all close, with no break away leader. In the second round, Tim started playing more, but was still hording cards, and we saw everyone use their Viziers. I will say that we felt the Vizier (which lets you buy a tile for exact cost out of turn) to be a huge help to the game, allowing you to get a crucial tile when you needed it -- Denise and Tim also recharged their Viziers which they both used again later. Again, the scores were pretty close, with Denise eking out a lead with Towers.

In the final round, Tim really busted out, trying to buy everything in sight, making serious plays for buildings everyone else was contending for -- this proved not to be the best strategy as it created a 3 on 1 situation for him. I had dumped my hand early in the 3rd round, and I just started picking up high cards to go for an endgame gambit (winning final tiles by having the most of that currency in hand). The crucial play turned out to be me scooping up a 3 wall Manor that I could place after a quick rearrangement that Tim really needed to gain control.

My endgame gambit payed off as I grabbed all three remaining tiles at the endgame, and was able to make the miracle placement of all them into my Alhambra. This totally hosed Tim's diversification, making him tie for first or second in literally every tile except Chambers (which I had locked), for last place. Quyen was in third, with a smallish wall, but this was his first game. Denise was really hurt by Tim's last minute push to tie her for first in Towers, but my 19pt wall (for ~33pts total wall over all 3 rounds) spiked me into the win.

Alhambra is game that everyone in our group likes, and makes a great light-weight strategy for when you don't want a conflict heavy game (like Tigris & Euphrates).
 
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Tim Wong
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San Francisco
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As an addendum to John’s report, I’ll give some insight into my line of thought for my strategy as well as thoughts on the game.

Tim says: I’m starting to realize this game isn’t necessarily about picking up big huge numbers but really wants to pick up midrange numbers of all the colors as to make more “Exact change”(EC) plays. Making an EC play is like getting either a discount or getting a free vizier to snag some tile with. I made the mistake in this game with getting stuck with a bunch of 7’s and 9’s… making it hard to buy anything without over paying. It’s counter intuitive to want to pick up a 5 or a 6, but I think it could pay off in the long run. I’m still not sure about whether hoarding a color works in this game. It certainly didn’t work out for me. By the time I had enough of a color to make a power play, the market was flooded with that type of currency, making the holding back part kind of useless. But then again, I don’t have very much time at table yet.



I agree with John, it does make a great light weight, entry level game for those who are gamers trying to recruit non-gamers to the cult of board (well… this one doesn’t use a board) games. Its playable in under 30 minutes, but offers just enough skill (unlike games like Fluxx) to not frustrate those who want to delve a bit deeper into the game. The game certainly rewards the skilled, but not heavily enough so that other people just don’t have a chance. But then again, I haven’t had as much time at table yet.
 
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Denise Castellucci
United States
San Rafael
California
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Denise here.

John is right. I really enjoy this game. I do tend to focus on monopolizing on Towers and then getting as much of the other tiles as I could. In this game I was hurt by not getting enough tiles to complete the wall and I didn't use exact change enough. Using exact change is crucial in this game so learning which cards to pick up is something I have to perfect.

I didn't get the wall done because I was focusing too much on getting the tiles without walls to aid expansion. I think I could have gotten some early tiles with walls and just put them in storage for later when I needed walls.

I need to focus on keeping up the numbers of tiles so I keep my monopoly on the high scoring tiles and make sure i get points on the low scoring tiles. Let us not forget about building the longest wall!!!

I am wondering how well I would do if I just focus on building the longest wall while paying only exact change for tiles.

Hmmmm....






 
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