Dominant Spicy Spending from the Sun God

Photo showing the Lawyer occupation card from Last Will: Getting Sacked. On the left the icons that need to be played and on the right the same kind with the icons covered

Jobby and Sarah have been continuing their challenge. Here’s a catchup of their most recent plays…

The Original Deck Builder

Dominion feels like the granddaddy of a genre. All those games where players start with a limited deck and buy the cards they want which are then shuffled in to the deck to be used later owe their existence to this classic. Sarah and I have played this quite a bit but it has fallen by the way in recent times. When we chose our games for this challenge, Sarah obviously felt like it was time to revisit this game.

Rather than play with the recommended ‘first game’ configuration or a completely random setup, we plumped to use the ‘Interactivity’ set of cards from the rulebook. This includes a lot of cards that mess with opponents’ decks and seemed perfect for some one-on-one play.

Straight off the bat I bought a Bureaucrat. This seemed a powerful start as it would gain me a Silver (which would go on top of my deck) and force Sarah to put a VP card on top of her deck. The net effect is that I would speed up and she would slow down.

Sarah immediately began a more cautious game by buying a Moat or two – these protect against Attack cards and a lot of cards in this setup (including the Bureaucrat) are Attack cards. She then began building her own offence buy buying a Thief (yes, we’re playing with 1st Edition) which basically let her steal Treasure cards from me.

That pretty much summed up how this game went. It was a complete arms race. At any one time one of us was trying to accumulate enough wealth to buy the coveted Provinces whilst the other was either nicking the Treasure or slowing down the opponent.

In the end – which came must faster than I anticipated! – I prevailed with 39 points versus 29. Game to me!

A Long Road for Some Cinnamon

We then moved onto last year’s hit deck hand-builder: Century: Spice Road. In this game players are trading up cubes to get the correct combination to buy VP cards. Each player starts with two basic cards. More cards can be bought which go into the player’s hand. The twist here is that played cards stay on the table until the player spends a turn to return them to their hand. This game is all about developing an efficient engine where you’ll use as many cards as possible before picking up your cards. I felt confident going into this as I feel this is normally ‘my’ game.

There were a couple of high value VP cards at the start of the game. These needed a lot of brown cubes which require the most upgrades from basic yellow so are hardest to get. I immediately worked on building an engine to get lots of brown cubes and successfully got a couple of those high VP cards.

Photograph of Jobby's scoring cards (20, 17 and 14 points) plus his hand at the end of a game of Century Spice Road. He also has a gold and silver coin.
My scoring cards and hand at the end of the game.

In the meantime, Sarah realised this was what I was doing and developed a hand of cards that was more flexible and allowed her to get more variety of cubes. She proceeded to buy the lower value cards at quite a pace of knots. I smirked, of course my higher value cards would win me the game!

Then I noticed that Sarah was seriously outpacing me. Century: Spice Road ends when one playing has bought six VP cards. Too late I realised that Sarah had bought five cards and I only had three. Worse – I’d nearly got the cubes for my fourth VP card but I could see that Sarah was about to buy her sixth card and therefore end the game before I had a chance to buy that fourth card.

Yup, she beat me by quite a margin: 80 points to 59. Game to Sarah and a lesson learnt by Jobby!

Spending All One’s Inheritance

We moved from the fairly quick paced, card-based shenanigans to some slower paced, card based shenanigans. Last Will is all about spending your money so that you can get your Uncle’s inheritance. That’s right, it’s Go For Broke! done well (albeit in a kind early 20th Century England setting). We were playing with the Getting Sacked expansion where players also have to get fired from their job before they can win.

From my opening hand I decided that carriage rides were a great way to go. I could have my own carriage and install a lady-friend in it so that it cost me more (I guess she wants champagne on those bumpy rides, or something). I also bought a town manor which I had a steward for, allowing me to spend more money with less actions.

Photo of a player's board in Last will. They have two Old Friends, a Carriage with a lady-friend plus a coachman, also a Town Manor.
In this game I went on no end of carriage rides with my lady-friend (fnarr!)

Sarah went down the buy-a-farm-and-put-lots-of-animals-in-it route. This made it more expensive to do the upkeep on the farm. Farms don’t devalue so it’s even more important to buy expensive and sell cheap with them. Meanwhile, I’d had a big party which had trashed most of my house dropping the value considerably!

Photo showing the Lawyer occupation card from Last Will: Getting Sacked. On the left the icons that need to be played and on the right the same kind with the icons covered
Getting sacked as a lawyer involves buying the wrong kind of house, employing the wrong kind of servants and eating in the wrong kind of places!

I made a complete fluff-up during a round where I fiddled with the property prices making my trashed house worth a measly £9. In the process, because I wasn’t paying attention, I also made Sarah’s property cheaper so she could sell it at a big loss. Oops!

We both went bankrupt in the same round. Despite some wedding shenanigans and a big boat trip I still lost to Sarah: £-9 to £-18. Another game to Sarah, rats!

Building an Egyptian Dynasty in 30 Minutes

Last up is a real old classic. Indeed, it’s a Reiner Knizia classic, no less. Ra is about building an Egyptian Dynasty over the course of three epochs. Players draw tiles out of a bag which are laid across the centre of the board. Instead of laying a tile, a player may ‘invoke Ra’ and start an auction for those tiles. Invoking Ra is also forced if a player draws a red Ra tile, which also act as a timer for the game.

We’ve owned this game for years and played it a couple of dozen times. It’s one of my faves. I should win this one…

Game of Ra in progress. The central tile row is full.
This row was looking OK until the disaster on the right end.

What I didn’t count on was the speed at which a two player game progresses. It takes far fewer red Ra tiles to end the round compared to a four player game. This gives the two players less time to accumulate a lot of tiles. Because of this, I may have turned down a couple of auctions where I really should have bid. I was intent on not using my high value bidding tiles too early and I think I let Sarah get too many things.

Sarah managed to consistently score for Nile tiles (they only score if you have a flood tile). She also did a good job of picking up Gods which enable a player to cherry-pick tiles from the centre without having to start an auction.

An epoch without any civilisation tiles caused me to lose another five points. The first two epochs saw me having less Pharaohs than Sarah, losing me more points. This really wasn’t looking like I was going to win this.

At the end of the game points are scored for having different monuments as well as having sets of the same monuments. This is where I normally shine. Not this time… I really didn’t do well. Despite having the highest sum of bidding suns at the end of the game I still lost this game 28 points to 33. 🙁

Scores So Far

We’re now eight games down in Round 1. I’ve won three games to Sarah’s five. I have some catching up to do!

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