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Subject: Five first time players: How to play in over 12 hours! rss

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April Bolin Stoner
United States
Cary
North Carolina
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Age of Renaissance

The Players:

Walt as Venice: Despite his PhD in statistics and the really bad math jokes that Genoa laughed at in spite of herself, he still isn’t geeky enough to be a user here at our beloved Geek.

April as Genoa: The only female willing to play this game, usually not a fan of any game that takes longer than three hours. Coupled with a dislike of games that require attacking opponents, this doesn’t seem like an ideal game for her at the outset. Still, a little over 12 hours later, here's a game that changed all that. Throughout the game, every time she noted that someone had taken an action that thrwarted plans, the other four powers were a little too happy about this. Isn't it time to pick on someone else, guys?

Will as Barcelona: The lone Clemson representative in a room full of South Carolina folks (Venice, Genoa, and London all work there), he was bold enough to wear his Clemson hoody. And London kept the house cold enough he needed it! It should be noted that twice already in the four days prior to this session, Barcelona had already screwed over Genoa while she had commanding leads in other games. This was done in Caylus (giving that game to someone who wasn’t brave enough to join this foray) and in Elasund (giving that game to London). Genoa was still wounded enough to bring this up prior to beginning this session. Perhaps this was motivation for Barcelona, since though he had screwed Genoa, he’d screwed himself more, coming in DFL both times.

Craig as London: He actually had a choice in the matter, and ceded Paris in favor of London. He was kind enough to provide a spot for us to play, owns the game, and had read the rules and Geek strategies several times. He’s quite proud to have removed another “game I haven’t played” sticker from this game.

Ray as Paris: He arrived last and spared Genoa the indignity of teasing, on that front anyway. His wife was a sweetheart and brought us pizza for dinner in the middle of our game. It was much appreciated. To be fair, Paris' performance was probably a little distracted after one of London's (real-life) neighbors backed into his vehicle about 4 hours or so into play.

London had set the game up days in advance, so once we were all present rules explanation commenced. After being thoroughly confused by the rules (prompting Paris to write his first comment – this one about his brain ceasing to function – on the dry erase board – yes London has one in the game room), we began play approximately at 2:30 pm. After our opening bids, we selected in the order the players were introduced.

Not surprisingly, Barcelona took a commanding early lead in cities dominated, but Paris was fairly good at matching him for the first round or two. Venice and Genoa began an alliance in the first round that lasted throughout the game (despite some tension toward the end). Only once did Venice attack Genoa – with her permission, and Genoa never attacked Venice. London enjoyed being alone in the far corner – at first.

Advance selection was fairly similar for the first few rounds, though by the end of purchasing in the fourth round, it was pretty clear that this was shaping up as a race between Barcelona, Genoa, and Venice. Everyone had taken Patronage early on, and combined with Writing and credits, leaders became critical in advancement. Rarely was there just one leader played, and those with income (Barcelona, Genoa, and Venice) took advantage of nearly every leader beyond the first that was played each round.

Initially there was no strife, and even after all the territories were filled, there were very few battles. Paris started things off in the war department, moving in on Venice, who seemed to have a commanding lead. Barcelona also went after Venice. Shortly after beginning their attacks on Venice, they started attacking his ally from the other side of the boot, Genoa. This did not endear them to either of the Italian leaders and sparked a wave of counterattacks. London meanwhile was staying out of the fray.

London’s first, and biggest, attempt to get ahead met with complete and utter disaster on his part. Genoa had just received her first (and only) large payout by strategically playing the ivory payout when no one else had any and she had three of the four territories producing it. London tried to go to war with Genoa, but in a strange turn of events, Italy defeated the British Empire. Genoa is still wondering about the wisdom of this move, since London is always known to roll poorly (especially when his ass is on the line in role playing and board gaming). London rolled a one and Genoa rolled a six, much to everyone’s amazement (Genoa is usually almost as poor as London at rolling dice). London had to cede five territories to Genoa, which not only pretty much killed London’s chances of world domination, it also brought life to the dying flames of the Genoan empire.

Barcelona and Genoa quickly had their galley ships out and sailing. Each round, the galleys moved up and both powers were quickly advancing toward the East. Paris and London soon purchased their own ships, but Venice was determined to remain landlocked, admitting to a terrible case of seasickness. While Paris and London struggled to upgrade Galleys and Venice finally discovered Dramamine, Barcelona and Genoa purchased more seaworthy vessels and pushed ahead at a faster rate. Then Barcelona and Genoa stepped up their exploration efforts, building ships capable of spanning the oceans, while the other powers remained with their galleys. As Barcelona and Genoa fought for control of the Far East, the others ignored exploration in favor of advances in other areas. Strangely, though, Barcelona did not attempt to explore the New World, leaving it to Genoa throughout the game. The only real contention between Venice and Genoa occurred when Venice decided to issue a papal decree forbidding new exploration during the turn in which Genoa had secretly decided to head for the New World. Genoa issued an expletive describing an activity she’s had no actual knowledge of for a while loudly enough that the other powers were sure folks in neighboring homes could hear. Venice apologized, and expressed the opinion that Genoa should have been more forthcoming with him regarding her plans – he assured her he would have selected a different decree. London, Paris, and Barcelona both acted to assist Venice and Genoa in resolving their differences. Barcelona did so by attacking the Italian duo and bringing solidarity to their attacking strategy, Paris by taking half of Venice’s income and rendering him helpless for the turn, and London by overruling the papal decree and allowing Genoa to advance and explore as planned. Venice and Genoa were sweethearts again, issuing terms of endearment and happily attempting to defeat the menace that was Barcelona.

Toward the end of the adventure, it appeared that Venice and Genoa were leading, though they were being closely matched by Barcelona. London had never recovered from the disastrous attempted war on Genoa and Paris had some poor luck with attacks and defenses that left him struggling to keep up amid the aforementioned intruding reality. On the second to last turn, Barcelona stunned the Italian Provences, committing bioterrorism in the form of Black Death. This left Venice, who had opted to conserve monetary resources for advancement that turn, and Genoa, in a hole. Though Venice took the brunt of the attack, Genoa was the lesser sport of the Italian contingent. She repeated the verbal assault she had previously given to Venice, and though much quieter, it was done in triplicate. Barcelona seemed unfazed, even perhaps a little smug. Despite Genoa’s large military contingent and an influx of gunpowder for the turn, she was unable to attack Barcelona as planned. Instead she had to return to her homeland and respond to the bio-warfare reeked upon her people by Barcelona. As she did so, Barcelona proceeded to take all silk territories from Paris, Genoa, and Venice, as well as a few others in spice. This left Barcelona in control of all silk and most of the spice territories. At the end of this turn, despite Barcelona’s domination of silk and spice, Genoa took the most territories, thanks to having had to reclaim her homeland from the bio-terror. This card turned out to be a spice payout, which Genoa played as a dud on the next turn. As she saw the card upon collection, for this fifth time she uttered the same word, though this time, she added a pronoun aimed in Barcelona’s general direction and it was a little more gleeful than the first four times. It was too little, too late, however.

At the beginning of the next turn, Barcelona played two silk payouts together while controlling all silk territories and collected nearly $600. As this was the last round, this essentially ensured Barcelona of a victory, but Genoa and Venice tried valiantly to put a dent in Barcelona’s now insurmountable lead. Both raised every army they could muster and went after Barcelona with a vengeance. Though they did manage to make a substantial dent in the number of territories he controlled, he still managed to collect enough cash to have almost $200 more on hand than Genoa, and more than $500 more than Venice. Since Barcelona, Genoa, and Venice each had advanced as much as possible, this gave Barcelona the victory at approximately 12:30 am. The Italian alliance sadly had failed to stop the Spanish menace from defeating them. Still, they had a moral victory against Barcelona in the end, and did do a little better than the British and the French.

After reflection and a little shame, Genoa did issue an apology to Barcelona for her rude suggestion and comments and ceded that he had indeed made much better decisions in strategy in his successful conquest of the world.

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Craig Wheatley
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Irmo
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We didn't start explaining the rules until around 1:30, and it ended just a few minutes after midnight, so the 12 hours is a little bit of an exaggeration. Even so, the time seemed to fly by for the most part.

 
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Zack Boatman
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Tesuque
New Mexico
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AoR is my favorite game. Glad to see it hit the table with your group. A few ideas to cut the playing time:

Deal each player three cards and then choose to keep two of them for your starting hand. The extra card is put back into the deck. This way, you have more information about what country you want to start with. Also knowing what card is not in play will help with strategy. (this will also mean that you do not deal out a card on the first turn of the game)

Make sure you are using the most updated reference sheet, as it allows each player to keep track of the cards that have been played. This will help so that there are no $600 silk payoffs.

Use a bidding system like Evo for your inital bids for countries. This will keep the bids at a minimum while allowing each player a solid chance at the country they need due to the cards in hand.

Also, get rid of the money and just keep track on paper. This will also help speed up the next game.

Once you have played it a few times and know the cards a bit better, the game will move much more quickly. This will especially help when you really get a handle on the discount process when purchasing advances.
The typical game in Austin never took us more than about 4 hours.
All in all, sounds like you guys had a great game.
(personally, Hamburg is my favorite starting postition)
 
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Todd Kaplan
United States
Altadena
California
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My group likes this game, too, and we usually play about once a year, due to its length. We are a chatty group, and slow, so it usually takes 6-7 hours. With more attention to quick play, you'll play faster.

If you do play with the deal-three-and-keep-two cards variant, make sure to take out certain cards early on. Check out my last session report to see an example of what The Crusades can do when it's played early:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/92930

...there are posts somewhere that describe the European rules and which cards should come out of the first deals.
 
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Aaron Lipka
United States
Charleston
South Carolina
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South carolinians out there?! By Jove I thought I was alone! Of course I'm down here in Charleston, but I have a car and everything...laugh

Well, I've played a few times, actually alot, but not in a good long time. I have lots of weekends free, after March. Anyone playing?

*shamelessness ended*
 
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