Gili is not into abstracts, but she agreed to try this quick game. I vaguely recall that when I first got the game, I could shake the dice while they were in the box; I see that this is not possible, so my memory must be faulty. This inability detracts from the ease of setting up the game.
Otherwise, it's a very nice, quick, and pretty abstract game.
San JuanGili 36, Jon 33, Nadine 24
We had some trouble coming up with a filler game to play until Gili finally suggested this. I played several buildings to help my production and trading, and a Smithy. I had all 12 buildings built, two of them large buildings, and a Chapel going, too. But, in the end, Gili got a mid-game Guild Hall and that was that.
Time to a) change Guild Hall or b) disallow multiples of production buildings. It's simply too unbalancing. This happens in nearly every game.
HomesteadersGili 58, Jon 56, Nadine 51, David 50
Gili suggested this and I never turn this game down, as it's my favorite game (or thereabouts, anyway). It's enjoyable the first few times, and gets better as you learn all the possibilities. I can see that I'll want some variant buildings maybe a few dozen more plays down the line; but we have a long way to go before that happens.
I thought I started out ok. I managed a good balance of trade chips. But I realized on turn five that I was severely lacking in trade goods: no gold, cows, or copper. Thus, I wasn't able to take Church on round 5 or 6 like I generally aim for. Instead, Gili was the one with the early gold mine, and David swiped the other one. Gili saw me going for Church on round 7 and easily stole it from me.
I finally acquired good resources (a cow machine) and money as we neared the end, but not with enough sway to get the two Railroad Stations; David took those, though he paid a lot of resources to do so (bidding 16 in round 10, plus the coast of the three buildings). He didn't have enough in the way of other VPs and he lost a lot paying off his final debts.
Just like San Juan, Gili had fewer buildings than I did but beat me by a few points. Nadine passed a few too many times, taking the 3 points on the railroad track at least twice.
ShipyardJon 83, Nadine 78, David 53
First play for David. I thought I could teach this quickly and we could play it fairly quickly (only 25 actions for each player, after all). I taught it quickly. And it didn't appear to bog down at any point. But it took longer than I anticipated, around 2 hours. David had to leave before the last two turns were taken, so we played his turns for him.
We also played the missions correctly for the first time. In previous games we simply kept all of our missions, having missed the little note where it says to discard one of each color after the first and second passes.
I chose the 6 points per ship with smokestack, sail, and propeller over the 4 points per used water tile. The latter can be nice, but there's no way to get multiple water tiles in a single action. My other mission was 3/10/17 points for 6 piece ships. I ended with 35 points from my missions, far more than David's 22 and Nadine's 18 or so.
My three boats scores 15, 15, and 18. Nadine's one big boat scored 30 (10 speed, and landing on a 10 space flag, plus assorted other scoring features, and another scored pretty well, too. David concentrated on his missions, which included double smokestacks and number of ships, but missed out on some other scoring possibilities on the way. One of his boats only scored two points.
David adds: I had actually given up on winning quite a bit earlier. My strategy had been based on my bonus cards. I think if I had known how to play better it might even have been viable, but for a newbie it was WAY too ambitious as it required me to sail 6 ships. When I realized (fairly early) that I wouldn't be able to accomplish that I took your advice on setting a lower goal for the game.
Nadine adds: I had 15 bonus from having everything [every type of item] and 8 or 10 from blue and yellow cards, more than 18 [this works out to 23 or 25]. It's hard to work on two bonuses at once, and we used to play with six.