Marshall P.
United States
Wichita
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TIGRIS & EUPHRATES: THE ANNOTATED GAME (PART 1)



Hello and welcome to "Tigris and Euphrates: The Annotated Game", a unique project which seeks to bring this fantastic game to a wider audience, and to provide some strategic insight to those already familiar with it. What is the Annotated Game all about? The idea is to get a behind the scenes view of a well played T&E game, complete with every move, every conflict, even commentary, analysis, and player banter. Think of this as what you would get if T&E were televised with announcers, and with cameras behind every player’s screen such that you had total information about the current state of the game, and an interpretation of what it all meant. It would be what you get when you cross chess analysis with televised Poker. You, the reader, will be along for the ride as players contemplate their strategy, agonize over their moves, taunt each other, and curse their luck. A full team of commentators and analysts will provide their insights, observations, and strategy tips as the game goes along.

The game you’re about to see was played on BGG, at the conclusion of their turn the players would pass along their score and the tiles in their hand to the commentators. The commentators would then take a screen shot of the board position, and share their observations and opinions. Then the next turn would begin. In this way the game, and our reactions to it, were captured in real time. Just as if it were televised.

Before we get started, I want list the people involved in this project. We’ll be using first names throughout, but if you want to look somebody up at BoardGameGeek (BGG) you can refer to this list for their user name:

Commentator: Marshall (mdp4828)
Commentator: Jeremy (jmilum)
Commentator: Greg (agnespoodle)

Player: Siow Hwee (Latria)
Player: Melissa (Melissa)
Player: Robert (grinningpik)
Player: Koert (Koert)

So without further ado, let’s get going with the introductions then the game can begin!

My name is Marshall and I’m joined by my two co-hosts Jeremy and Greg who will be helping me analyze the game. Anything you guys want to say? How do you think this game is going to shape up? Anything in particular you’re looking forward to?


Ho there, Marshall. Abso-tooti;-lutely, I'm all fired up for this like a habanero-stuffed jalapeno! We've got four players here that have blown the barn doors off a series of excellent players, myself included. (Well, I won a couple of games. Versus my cat.)

Let's take a gander at these dynamos!

Koert. The moves he's made in games that I've witnessed still haunt my nightmares. Yes, they don't haunt me, they haunt my nightmares. My bad dreams are even scared of facing this guy. I once referred to him as a Steamroller, and I suppose I'll just continue to do so. Watch for him to create a solid empire before he goes on the attack.

grinningpik, the Professor, is an amiable sort up until he stabs you in the face with a machete while you're tying your shoes. One second he's your friend, then BAM, you're covered in blood, crying for your mom, and needing new shoes. The guy is precise with his choices, and all his moves are optimized like NASA created this guy.

Melissa's the Skunk. Oh, don't mind her, she's just off in that corner, clearly losing, don't pay any attention. Oh, that's a good move you made, you think, and you end the game. Then you look at the final scores and WHAT THE CRAP?! Melissa's skunked you. Hardcore. Keep an eye on that nocturnal creature, or before you know it, she's going through your trash.

Right, and Siow Hwee. Everyone knows him. He's the Movie Star. He's got the sequin jumpsuit, and he's on parade. His head, it's like one of those Macy's floats. But behind those stunning good looks and lavish lifestyle, he's a crafty player. Oh, he may play dumb (and he may be dumb), but don't buy it. Whoops! Did I put that there. Oh, I was just trying to help you out. Eep, did I just trounce you on that external conflict? My mistake, I wasn't looking. AS IF.

So that's what we've got here. Whether they like it or not, it's Steamroller vs. The Professor vs. The Skunk vs. Movie Star. A no-holds-barred tile laying extravaganza!

Cover yourself with trash bags, because the carnage is gonna be flowin'! Eh, Jeremy?


Carnage is right Greg, we shall see the dawn of civilization here. Thanks Marshall for letting me be a part of this monumental undertaking. We have some great players here and I really look forward to discussing this game with you and Greg. I have only been playing this magnificent game for about a year and have only played six f2f games. But I have played here on BGG using this online version over 40 times. We won't talk about my win/loss record......

I haven't the analytical skills of Marshall, nor the writing ability of Greg, but I do hope I may be able to add something to this illustrated game.


Thanks guys, now let's get on with the player introductions. We asked our players several question like age? location? day job? How did you come to games or to BGG? and anything else that is important to them. Here's what they had to say.

Wong Siow Hwee (Wong is the surname)
30
Singapore
Pastor
Abstract lover - Mensa winners - Funagain - BGG
I like fluffy games, and enjoy the player interaction. I like to think of myself as open-minded.


Hello! I’m Melissa. I live in Melbourne, Australia. When I’m not playing games, I run my own (one-person) information architecture consultancy, although I often subcontract to other firms. I try to only work 3 days a week, in the search for work/life balance, but don’t seem to succeed at that.

I game mostly with my husband Fraser (Karlsen) and our two daughters (aged 2 and 7), and with friends once a fortnight or more. Fraser would add that we play 2-player games much less since I discovered online Werewolf at BGG.

Fraser and I recently joined the blogging team at Gone Gaming http:// boredgamegeeks.blogspot.com

I think Marshall chose me for this tournament because of my willingness to talk and taunt, because it certainly wasn’t for my astonishing game skill.

Oh yeah - and vote Latria


My name is Rob and I'm a 29 year old Catholic school teacher. I teach a grade 4 home room (9 year olds) as well as run a weekly Drama club and Games Gang. This is my fifth year teaching. I live in the suburb of St. Albert which is just north of the city of Edmonton in Canada. I have lived in the area all of my life except for one year when I lived and went to university in Dublin, Ireland where I studied early Medieval Irish history and drama. My undergrad degree is in history. Outside of school I am married with 3 kids aged 4, 6, 12.

I played a lot of RPG in my tween and teen year both as player and GM. In my youth I also enjoyed the "regular" boardgames. While in University I played a good amount of Axis and Allies and quite enjoyed it. Poor naive me. During Christmas 2002 my brother in law and nephews introduced me to a crazy game called Settlers of Catan. I thought this to be quite excellent and revolutionary. I soon received Settlers and expansions and started to play them quite a bit. I then started to do more research about these 'german' games. I stumbled across BGG for the first time the summer of 2004 and that year received Puerto Rico for my birthday. The fall of that year I became a BGG addict and have never looked back.

I got Tigris and Euphrates for Christmas last year (2004) and played a couple of times before trying out BGG web game. I really like the game for its sheer simplicity of play and its depth of tactics and strategies. I have not played the real game for a couple of months now but am always eager to find a willing group. I entered Marshall's tourney this fall and was very lucky to do well in my games and win the tourney. I ran to my wife and shared my news and she simply scoffed and said, "I thought you had important news!"


Based on my rather uninspired BGG logon, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that my name is Koert. Born in the beautiful Bruges in the little but pleasantly complicated Belgium and in the already too distant year 1973, I am still living in this town to this day. I guess I kinda like this place. My day job as IT consultant/analyst ensures a daily mix of meetings, writing documents and answering emails. I admit, this sounds rather dull and geeky, but it is quite fun and satisfying.

Although I studied ancient Greek in college and not the more popular Latin, I simply adore the playful variant of a well-known statement by René Descartes: Ludo Ergo Sum (I play therefore I am). This shows aptly the central place gaming, and especially board games, occupies in my life. Already as a child and youngster I enjoyed playing Stratego, Scotland Yard, Scrabble, chess and various card games, but it was only in 1997 that I started to get absorbed by the Eurogames revolution (yes, yes, the now classic Settlers of Catan was one of the triggers). That was also the moment I joined the local board game club Hof van Watervliet. Since 2000, I enjoy playing board games in the Belgian Multijeux competition, which is an ideal opportunity to encounter different playing styles. In addition, I often play games with family and friends. Taking also the online games in account (mainly E&T and Amun-Re), I get to play on average 35 games a month.

My taste for board games is very diverse: from filler card games, fun racing games, the occasional war game and lighter family games to more intellectually engaging strategy games. In principle, I'll play any game at least once. Nevertheless, I have an obvious preference for the heavier strategy games with lots of options, choices, not enough money/action points and multiple roads to victory. To get an idea: some of the games I have rated 9 or more are Java, Tikal, Amun-Re, Turfmaster, Go, Struggle of Empires, Advanced Civilization and a recent favourite Caylus. But my number one game is already for quite some years Euphrate & Tigris.

E&T is also at the origin of how I got to know BoardGameGeek. A colleague at work (with whom I play games regularly) mentioned the BGG site as the place for online games of E&T and I registered begin 2005. A few months later, I started to keep my profile (ratings, games played, etc) up-to-date because I needed GeekGold to participate in an E&T Tourney. One of the ways to earn GG is via uploading images and after a bit of stocktaking, I did manage to upload the first image for the only lesser known game in my collection. Wasting time on BGG certainly increased my awareness and interest in board games, although it is tough to keep up with all the new stuff getting launched on the board game market! The end result of all this: I am writing a personal introduction for yet another project on BGG involving E&T …


Excellent, it looks like we've got quite a diverse field of players from all over the globe! I think we’re all going to be in for a real treat this game. I just can’t wait any longer, let’s get this game started!

Players ready? Let’s begin.


ROUND #1

Round 1! All right! Time for the combatants to enter the ring, shake hands, and start the hard-core tile-laying action! We're going to see some skilled masonry all right. These four people, they're like Masons laying tile, and you all know about Masons. They're misunderstood devil worshippers, so we have much to fear from these proceedings, I kid you not. Hide the children! Here comes evil!




Asia vs US vs Europe vs Australia

May the old continent win ... damn, I am the Goat ...

Ok, wait a minute who is the American?

Those from the North America always have to go first. Grumble grumble.

yeah...I'm Canadian by the way...


Wow, look at that. Koert, the strong favorite here, draws the Goat. Marshall, what are your findings on positioning again? The Goat has a disadvantage, from what I remember, being the last one to place tiles.

Greg that's right. I've recorded the finishes of over 200 games, and the Goat (the final position) is at a clear disadvantage to the others, especially the lion (first position). There are several reasons for this the main one being that all the other players have a chance to get an extra turn relative to the Goat. Also, the Goat is at a disadvantage in finding a good starting spot in the beginning of the game. And finally, during the first conflict, no matter who the Goat faces, that player will have drawn more tiles than the Goat (probably 2 more on average). This may not seem significant, but it does give that player an extra chance to get the tiles they need to win.

You know Greg, you said Koert haunts your nightmares and I agree. Having played several times against all these guys myself I have to say that Koert is just dominating. I was going to pick him as my clear favorite until he ended up in the fourth position. This may just be the handicap the other players need to have a chance at the win. I can't wait to see how Koert deals with this position.


Thanks for the insight, Marshall. You're so cute when you spout statistics. One day, I do think you'll grace the cover of the BGG Swimsuit Calendar.

And it appears that Melissa, the Urn (and we all y-Urn for Melissa), has got some fightin' tiles there. Should we expect some early combat, or some solidification early on? What sayeth you, Jeremy?


Yes, I agree that Koert is the favorite, even w/ drawing the Goat. That man is a machine. He has won almost half of the games he has played on BGG alone. But I think the others will give him a run, even if he had drawn the Lion.

Funny side note: it's not really supposed to be a Goat, it's a Steer in the board game.


Let's talk about where these players are going to start. In my opinion there are only 3 good starting spots. This becomes obvious once you rule out starting in the four corners (B2, B16, H2, I15). These are ruled out because the treasure on them will be the first to disappear making them (and any attached leaders) vulnerable to a disaster. Also, they don't 'reserve' any space. Ideally, you want a piece of the board to expand into and away from the other players. Starting in the corner means that you can be cut off by another player leaving you no place to go.

Of the remaining spaces players will try to achieve as much isolation as possible. E14 is a natural spot because it is not open to internal conflicts and can be kept that way for awhile, and it’s right next to the only available spot for a farm monument. Once you realize E14 is a natural starting spot then the other two preferred spots define themselves via maximum separation from E14 and each other, they are C6 and J6. I would be surprised if these are not the first three temples claimed. The interesting question will be how does Koert squeeze in if we have a standard opening.

Robert has an interesting hand with 4 markets. Were I him I would likely start with Trader to J5 and King to K6 and think about building a green monument in the corner. We shall see.


Marshall I think you have the opening theory down pat. Too bad BGG doesn't keep the move logs from all the past games so some statistics on win vs loss records could be correlated with starting positions.

I agree that Robert is likely to play King and Trader to J5 and K6. It would seem to give him the best bet at creating an early monument and having isolation long enough to make good use of it. An early monument can be very advantageous, but it can also be quite risky. The strife that can result from internal (and later external) conflicts can make it hard to keep, especially if adequate strength hasn't been built yet.

I think Melissa will then play King and Trader to C7/D6. I have seen her make good use of this spot in the past by chaining her leaders together to prohibit internal conflicts. The only draw back is that she doesn't have the requisite Farm tile to jump the Tigris and get the closest Treasure. But that may come with a later draw.

If Melissa does take the C6 spots, then I am sure Siow Hwee will go for E14. He has the necessary farm tiles to go after the B16 treasure and lay the groundwork for a blue temple.

And then where will Koert go.....


Robert (Lion)
Action #1: King to I6
Action #2: Trader to J7



Do we have to explain to the audience the reason for every move? I would like to know why the Canadian started at the bottom.

Maybe he is a gentleman and wants to offer one of the better starting positions to the lady in our company. Although I wouldn't have mind to start around J6 myself, as it might be a great place to buildup for an attack and being behind the river at least provides the illusion of safety. Just guessing of course.


Ripples on a pond. The effect of Robert playing his Trader on J7 instead of J5 will be felt for quite awhile. Often the Goat player tries to squeeze in his King and Trader on the K11 temple, but Robert has made that uncomfortably close now. The question of how Koert will enter the board looms even larger now. He is more likely to horn in directly on another player's kingdom.

Now to Melissa. With her starting hand I'm sure she would have like to be on the J6 temple that Robert claimed. That not being an option I agree with Jeremy, I've often seen her go for C6 in games, that seems to be a favorite spot of hers. The downside for her is now that Koert is being crowded off of K11 he will be tempted to play his Farmer on the C6 tile. It's a devious move and it's something I do often in my games. Playing your Farmer on C6 prevents that player from crossing the river, it forces them to build towards the center, and towards premature encounters with the other players.

Greg, what do you make of Siow Hwee's banter? Think he's trying to get inside the heads of the other players?


That crafty old warlock, I certainly do see him boring into the minds of his competitors like some sort of prosecuting attorney/tapeworm. But that's the manifest of Siow Hwee - he butters you up with innocent small-talk before he pounces, gnawing at your jugular with his bare teeth. That's another example of an external conflict, I suppose.

Interesting starting position for the Professor though, he clearly has much faith in his lone blue tile. Perhaps the Curse of the Abundance of Blue Tiles has assailed him in the past, and he expects the same? Or he could just be hoping to dominate the southern part of this once fertile region.


I think you hit it on the head Greg. He's hoping to lay claim to the whole southern region of the board. He already knows nobody is going to start behind him so he's trying to discourage them from starting on K11 and he's trying to stake his claim to the treasure on G9. In my opinion that's too greedy though, the other players have to go somewhere. We're in for a very aggressive game it looks like.

And I'll add this. He's effectively eliminated the possibility of reinforcing both of his leaders with a single temple (you can't play a temple on the river). He may come to regret the loss of that ability.


Much you can tell from the placement of two leaders, storied one. If your prophesies do come true, we are in for quite a sight. Into the annals of history, this game shall be writ.

Oh lordy, I am a mouse in the company of giants. Or Goats, in the case of Koert.

Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: King to C7
Action #2: Trader to D6



Ah, it is a known thing that the Skunk is no friend to water, and we see here Melissa is keeping to her true self. Avoiding playing 4-Square on the shores of the Tigris and the Euphrates, she embeds herself in the upper left corner, a common starting point for many, including myself. Now, I know how my games usually go, so I have a little more hope for her ... for she is a wily beast!

So the Canadian man is at the bottom and the lady from Down Under is on top, now I've seen it all.

Is this a PG game, sounds a bit too risqué...

Everything's risqué when Latria is around. I don't know, these pastors...

Let's keep it for general viewership. But there should be sufficient gore when Koert takes the middle spot and we squeeze out his guts in a friendly Sumo fashion.


Siow Hwee (Bow)
Action #1: Trader to F14
Action #2: King to E13



And so we arrive at the point we all knew we would. In a standard opening it always becomes a question of how will the Goat squeeze onto the board. Normally the K11 temple is a satisfactory answer, not perfect because it leaves the C6 player quite isolated, but workable. In this game Robert has put the squeeze on K11 making it a bit claustrophobic.

In this position, and with a strong hand of market tiles (he can't know that Robert has four of them!) I would put my Trader on K12 and my Farmer on B6, then I would wait to see the reactions of the other players. I suppose another possibility is King/Trader to the A11 temple but that cedes the entire lower portion of the board to Robert.

I can't wait to see Koert's solution to this problem.


Koert's too scary a player to give Robert the lower area. For certain he's going there with at least one leader. But I have not looked into his black heart, for fear that it would blind my soul to all the love and hope in the universe. The Earth trembles in anticipation of the coming of the Goat.

Perhaps that sounds a bit satanic. Yes, well, if Koert keeps up his stranglehold on the E&T tournaments, then he is certainly deserving of praise. But drawing the Goat here today will be his Ultimate Challenge.

Though keeping in mind Koert's penchance for building solid empires, mayhaps this master magician has surprises in his hat that even the most efficacious of commentators can't discern.


Whoa, this is a hard choice for Koert, or at least it would be to me. I would probably play Trader to K12 and King to J11. Marshall's Farmer tactic would be the better choice, but I honestly forget to do that quite a lot. The thinking behind my suggested play would be that Koert is stronger in markets than settlements and so very close to Robert, that I would want to minimize the destruction possible to me new kingdom. If an External conflict was started first with Kings and lost, the King would be removed and sever the link between the two warring Kingdoms and prevent any more destruction. It would be wrong in this case as Robert is stronger in markets and would make that attack first.

I like a challenge ... come and get me!

Koert (Goat)
Action #1: Trader to G10
Action #2: Priest to F9



ROUND #2

Melissa and Grin distract him, I will come from behind with a surprise. Guys, do you think Melissa knows that Marshall is feeding information about her tiles to the rest of us? Yikes, how do you delete a message in this place?

PHANTASMAGORICAL!

Is that the cock-sure attitude of the confident, or a cunning experiment? Koert stymies the guessers with a stab at establishing a central kingdom from which to construct his highways and byways for future Steamrollin' rampage!

That red tile he's got is clearly going to F10 next turn, but it's where he puts the green that'll indicate who will start not sleeping well at night.


Greg, I've got my opinion of Koert's move that I'm going to share, but first I'd like to get your and Jeremy's take on the psychological aspect of it. Was Koert goaded into taking the center by Siow Hwee? And if so doesn't this play to Siow Hwee's strengths (getting inside the mind of his opponent)? And doesn't it detract from Koert's strength (cold brutal analysis and optimum moves)? Is this at least a moral victory for Siow Hwee or not, what do you guys think?

Funny how I waited all day to see that move and then it was like... wtf???

Either utterly brilliant or foolhardy, wouldn't deem to call The Machine that but....wow. I would have never done that as it leaves him open to wars on two fronts. But the more I think about, the more I try to delve into the depths of Koert's mind.... maybe it really is Utterly Brilliant.

Marshall, I don't think he was goaded at all. From his perspective, he needs a strong base, but there are none left. What does a player do at the beginning: get a strong base and become defensive and try to keep that until the middle game when all hell breaks loose. He doesn't have this option. So he goes on the offensive with a power play like that. I was at first puzzled, but his choice of Trader and Priest now becomes vitally important to that offensive plan. He is strong in market tiles. I think he plans an early external conflict against Siow Hwee's Kingdom. He can't play the King as he has not tile support for it. Farmer would not gain him any points. He has one temple tile only, but no other Priests are out so that is safe.

He doesn't know it, but from the tiles that Siow Hwee holds, I think he will be successful with this gambit.


Well, Marshall, I hadn't thought of it like that, but I see your point. Siow Hwee is always willing to use his Star power to get into the heads of this fellow Kingdom lovin' opponents, and it certainly seems he's getting his way. Koert went for his challenge - but was it cunning bravado or bad anime? Or a horrible, wretched, regrettable mistake? Probably none of those, but certainly an unexpected opening. My concern is now for the Goat King. Wherever shall he go?

Well here's what I think about Koert's opening. First of all, it's important to realize he had no great options so it's not like this is a poor move. But by starting in the center he has no where to go, he's forced to build towards a conflict with one of the other players. With 3 green tiles in hand and by leaving his black leader off the board he's not in such bad shape to win that conflict, as Jeremy pointed out.

The thing to realize is that while external conflicts can be big point engines that's not the case early in the game. If you only stand to gain one or two points but risk losing your leader then it's not really worth it. The same effect could be achieved simply by playing a tile at zero risk to your position. This is the reason I think most people instinctively prefer isolation in the opening, at least until they've developed their position enough.

One thing we can tell is that he'll probably be going after Siow Hwee since his Green leader is pointed right at the Bow's kingdom. And he'll certainly want to play his green tiles directly adjacent to that leader.


Of course! That's why they pay you the big bucks, Marshall, and why Jeremy and I have to get you coffee. Here I am wondering why he didn't put his king on the board, and you paint a pretty picture all about it.

Koert HAS been goaded into an early confrontational stance, like he's some sort of martial arts guy. With ninjutsu or some such. I think I just made up that word. He'll be mixing in all kinds of chop-socky with his hart-hat construction ways. One thing he's not factoring in here though is Robert and Melissa. They could make a move that would force Koert into something he didn't expect.

But my uneducated, coffee-getting toadie guess is that Robert and Melissa will go about their business and let Siow Hwee reap his sewings. Which is also wrong.


Robert (Lion)
Action #1: Temple to J8
Action #2: Market to J9




When do we confess that this is all a big joke that we're playing on Latria and there isn't really a 'game' at all?

I knew it. You can all move towards me now. I can handle any conflict. In fact, I won't be putting any tiles. I will get all my victory points from winning conflicts.

Them's fightin' words, Latria

Really? Thanks, I was trying to put up a brave front. My usual fighting words are Urarghg and Hoiorgh.

Grin, let's be haughty and pretend that Koert is dead meat and we are splitting the spoils. You can take the treasure at K11, and I shall claim the one at I15. Don't be too greedy and spread yourself thin.


Um, hello? What am I, chopped liver?


Robert is a wily one. By playing J8 and J9 he's put himself within attacking range of Koert. Is he trying to tempt Koert into attacking him in Green? Perhaps if Koert doesn't take the bait he'll just initiate the attack himself next turn.

This is shaping up to be a great game, lots of aggressive moves here. I don't think Koert will be tempted to attack Robert here. And I also think that Robert will grab the treasure on K11 before crossing the Euphrates and attacking Koert. But it is about to get very interesting very quickly. I think Robert will play a market to J10 and a settlement to K11. That way he increases his Trader strength, stets up for a temple and get a settlement tile on the board.

Now what will Melissa do? She is in the safest position being removed somewhat from the active center. Perhaps her best play would be to bring out her Priest to B6 and place a temple tile on B7. She could set herself up to attack Koert's Priest with an external conflict since she is so flush with temple tiles.


Melissa could set up for an external conflict in red, but that's a slow developing plan. It would take three turns to develop because Melissa has to cover B6 with her Farmer to prevent someone else from doing it. By that time Koert will have had his conflict with Siow Hwee, which means at the very least he'll burn through his tiles faster than Melissa (more on that later) and he may have added the temple on E14 to his external strength.

For Melissa I recommend playing Farmer to B6 and Priest to G8 (internal conflict). There are two benefits to this plan. First, with 4 temples, she stands a great chance of getting her leader onto the board "with tempo", i.e. without scoring zero points for the action which is what's normal for placing a leader. I always look to place one of my four leaders (either Farmer or Priest) on the board with tempo. Usually it's about three or four turns before you get the chance, but Koert's gambit has presented an opportunity early.

The second benefit is burning the four temple tiles. You may wonder why that's a benefit, many people like to save their cache of red. However, since you always draw back up to 6 tiles no matter how many you play, you can increase the number of tiles you see in a game simply by playing more of them. If you see twice as many tiles during a game don't you think you have twice as many chances to get the tiles you need? Many people who complain about luck in this game are simply too conservative. Burn through those tiles and you'll get your share of every color! Unless you're going to build a monument burn your tiles as soon as you can.

So now we see the hidden risk Koert took by not placing his black leader. Normally in the beginning of the game there is not much danger of internal conflicts because everybody's Trader and King are already on the board. When you expose the Priest or the Farmer though, you are asking for it.

Now, the downside of playing the Priest to G8 is that really it's not much of a kingdom to take over. It has no external strength, usually you'd like to get in a kingdom with at least three tiles of that color. Still, I might do it. From that position, and with a little work, Melissa could find herself in a dominating red position in the mid game. You have to think long term.

Do I think she's going to do it? No, she's a conservative player. I predict she plays Farmer B6 and then temple to either B7 or D7.

I just want to add that it's true that, after an internal conflict, Melissa's Priest will be just as exposed as Koert's was. So it may seem like no advantage if she runs the same risk of being offed as Koert is running. It's a subtle thing, but I don't think the other players are as interested in playing their Priests right now. Robert is going to get a treasure, Koert and Siow Hwee are positioning for an external green conflict. Melissa is the only one with a free move right now.

Why does she have a free move? Because she has a little more space than the rest and she doesn't have a farm which means she's at least 3 turns from getting the treasure on B2. So there's a free move (and by free move I simply mean one in which her action isn't forced by something) after she places her farmer, and another after she places the farm. She can use one of those moves for the internal, and the other to reinforce the Priest.

That's why I recommend the internal for Melissa, but not necessarily the others.


Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: Priest to B6
Action #2: Temple to B7




Melissa, to you, in our benevolence, we grant B2.

Gosh grinningpik. I'm overwhelmed


Ah, all too predictable, Melissa! I don't think that move will surprise anyone. In fact, that's how I most often start out my games (before my cat trounces me). Being of the feline persuasion, maybe this mode of normality is but a cunning ploy to get everyone to second guess her intentions!

But actually, it's a decent start to securing her Kingdom of the Upper Left.


Greg that's a good point. It is a perfectly valid strategy to build away from others, avoid conflict, and develop you're own little kingdom. I've seen it win before when you are left alone long enough to get a couple of monuments. Sometimes you can get a real bully kingdom and push the others around.

I tend to be real aggressive in my games. If I see a conflict I can win I have a hard time not going for it. That's not always the only path though. Let's see if Melissa's strategy pays off.

Siow Hwee seems to be giving his move some deep thought this turn so I'll use this chance to take a look at his options. It turns out Siow Hwee has lots of good possibilities.

First of all he could take the advice I gave to Melissa and start an internal conflict with his Priest on G8. The advantage of this move is that he burns his red tiles, and gets a chance at drawing the green he so desperately needs. He could burn four tiles this turn (thre red plus one blue) vs. two just by laying them. However, I favor this move less for him than I did for Melissa. I wouldn't be disappointed if he played it, it's not a mistake, but I probably recommend it the least among his choices.

He could work towards the treasure by playing farm to G14, market to H14. This is a fine move, he needn't worry about Koert starting an internal conflict with his king on H15 because he has the 3 red tiles and even if he did lose he'd still get the treasure out of it. Playing the market to H14 serves to show strength in green and may make Koert think twice about attacking his way.

His third possibility is to play two farms to E15 and D15. This is also a fine move with plenty of flexibility. This way he gets to keep his green tiles in hand to either surprise Koert with a vigorous defense, or to only give Koert one point in a loss, in either case it's smart play.

Whichever move he chooses the thing he doesn't want to do is place a leader (other than with an internal conflict). If he does that he'll only be burning one tile this turn and he needs to maximize his chances of drawing green by burning at least two tiles.


Marshall I think you may have something with the internal Priest conflict on G8. It should be apparent to Siow Hwee that Koert plans an external Trader conflict. His only hope is to burn his temple tiles and possibly win that internal conflict and perhaps draw some market tiles. We shall wait and see.

Mel, I heard Koert referring to you as foie gras. Is that the same thing?

Siow Hwee (Bow)
Action #1: Farm to E15
Action #2: Farm to E16




Yeah Jeremy, the only reason I vaguely suggested against it is that Siow Hwee could get a treasure before the conflict if he commits to that, and also because, as long as he doesn't play any green tiles, then Koert will only get one point from the victory, and that's not such a windfall. With three red tiles in his hand he's relatively assured of getting his Trader back onto the board so losing that conflict would certainly be recoverable.

That's why I'm a little curious that he didn't play on D15 to guarantee getting that treasure. Since he didn't draw a blue it kind of backfired on him.

He's keeping up a steady stream of trash talk though, much like our own Greg!

Anybody care to guess where Koert will play?


I agree Marshall, I am curious why Siow Hwee didn't play to assure himself of the B16 Treasure? What do you think guys?

I think Koert will play a temple and a market and continue to advance towards Siow Hwee


Koert will be steamrollin' on F10 and F11 something solid! Look at Siow Hwee run! In my often wrong opinion, Siow Hwee should/could have gone G14, but being the Hollywood icon that he is, he's all about taking risks. No for-sure big budget action packed sagas here, he's opted for a low-budget character piece where the hero makes mistakes before getting the girl at the end. He gambled and lost, he's out of Farmage. Good luck with the girl, you dapper fellow! Let's hope the press and Variety are a little more forgiving than Koert is going to be in two turns.

Mmmh, as everything is already divided, it looks like I will have to settle for the remaining treasures at J6, E14 and C6. That would be a challenge!

Bring it on, Koert.

Preferably in the order you stated


Koert (Goat)
Action #1: Market to G11
Action #2: Market to H11




I think Koert has made a very good move. Instead of committing to attacking Siow Hwee he's maintained his flexibility and presented a threat to Robert. This is why Koert is such a good player. I probably blindly would have done as Jeremy predicted and moved temple to F10, market to F11.

But it's like I pointed out before. There is no profit in conflicts where you only remove the opponent’s leader. At best it pays you back a point for the joining tile, but it's generally not worth the risk. So if Siow Hwee hasn't put any green on the board why attack him? Why not go towards Robert where at least he'll get a couple of points? (He can't know that Robert is sitting on three markets by the way).

Now the interesting thing is that both Koert and Robert possess four market tiles. So between them the attacker will lose. Does Robert attack this round? My guess is not. Better to secure the treasure while he can and let Koert attack if that's what he intends to do.

What do you guys think?


I agree guys. I think it would have been better for Koert to get the treasure. There is no way for him to know the difference in markets that the two other players had, but still I think this was a mistake. I usually play to E14 when I have a few farm tiles, that Robert chose otherwise could have signaled to Koert that he was deficient in farms and that would have to be made up with another color. To me this would mean that Siow Hwee was the better choice. We will have to wait and see if he is working on a Grand Master Plan.

Some newbie instincts kicked in for a brief moment and thought: Koert's setting up to build a monument! Obviously, though, that would be a bad idea. But it's good to remind our audience that monuments are nice and all, but don't build 'em unless you can defend 'em. Early monument building is usually a death knell for a player.

Well, this move surprised me a bit (not that I'd ever have Koert - or anyone else - figured out). He was in a good spot to intimidate Siow Hwee, but chose to, I guess, badger both him and Robert. I don't get it though - Koert has no chance for the treasure, so why go H11? What threat does this pose to Robert?


I can't believe I'm saying this Greg, but that's a really good point, and not about the monument either (although that's also a good point,) but about the treasure. All things considered, it may have been better to go after Siow Hwee after all. The treasure offsets the meager gain for the external. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

ROUND #3

Robert (Lion)
Action #1: Market to K9
Action #2: Market to K10




Well, shock and awe abounds as Robert does the obvious and grabs the treasure before Koert gets close. Koert has a good shot at I15, since he doesn't know that Siow Hwee has no farmage. But that rather exposes a thin kingdom - not something we're used to seeing from Koert.

Solid move from Robert. But if you remember my early posts, what I figured would happen with Melissa, has happened. She's off in her own corner, far from conflict and content to take her time. Sneaky quadruped.

Koert is in a bad spot. Perhaps he can use a disaster tile to aggressively take over some kingdomizzle in the coming rounds.


Greg you are right about Melissa, she is off in her own corner of the world free to expand as she pleases for now. Since she has no farms she will probably try for the treasure on A11, and stay away from the fighting to the South. Perhaps she will play her Farmer to B8 and then a settlement or market to B9.

Siow Hwee is in a tight spot since he didn't draw any more farm tiles. He cannot now expand upwards and take the treasure on B16. He also cannot expand westward towards the mustering Koert. If Melissa plays as I have outlined, he also cannot afford to expand northward as she is much closer to the A11 Treasure. His only alternative is to play off his farm tile on E16 and try for the treasure on I15. He can reach that one before anyone else, but it will leave him badly overextended and ripe for a disaster tile strike.


You guys have done some very astute analysis. I don't have much to add other than I bet Koert wishes he had gone straight for Siow Hwee now. I wish I hadn't commended his last move so much

The conflicts cannot be put off for much longer...


I agree, Melissa will be going to A11, figuring she can get there first. And while we're all wondering who is going to place which tile where, we're all forgetting the fact that everyone has two leaders sitting in front of them (except Melissa). I don't expect Koert to play a tile when his turn comes, I expect to see his King somewhere on the board. The question becomes what will Siow Hwee do? Do we see one of his leaders, or does he go straight for I15?

Only time and prognostication can tell.


Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: Market to B8
Action #2: Settlement to B9




Hey livergirl, A11 is mine!!!

but Latria I thought you weren't placing any tiles this game, just attacking Koert. Wasn't that the plan?

Yes, but you people are taking a long time to come over. I thought if I keep more treasures in my kingdom, it will improve the seduction. I am really thoughtful for a guy.


A slight mistake by Melissa as she has created a structural weakness in her kingdom by seperating her King from his settlement by a market. There was no need for her to play the market as she had two settlements (seperating a King from his settlements via a temple is not as structurally weak because, generally, temples don't disappear in external conflicts,) and she drew the third settlement she would have needed to reach A11 (along with placing the Farmer on the A11 temple). I expect this move will give her some heart-burn before the game is over, we'll see.

As for Siow Hwee he can play the Priest internal conflict if he likes, but I suspect he's leaning towards playing two markets, one on F16 the other on G16.


Siow Hwee (Bow)
Action #1: Market to F16
Action #2: Market to G16




So Siow Hwee takes the obvious move, going for the treasure. Now is the pivotal turn: What will Koert do? He's got no chance an any nearby treasures. I expect to see him place a leader or two elsewhere. Perhaps Melissa will finally be confronted?

Koert may move towards Melissa if his strategy is to put off conflict for as long as possible. That's usually a good strategy. But when you are the Goat, with no access to treasure, without the ability to put your King securely on the board, and with a fistful of markets, you should probably go for a quick conflict to create some breathing space for yourself.

I wish now that Koert had moved temple to F11, market to F12 last turn as Jeremy suggested so that he could take out Siow Hwee this turn, claim the treasure, and burn some tiles. With a lucky draw he could have gotten the temples necessary to put his King into Robert's kingdom.

With three farm tiles he may be thinking about putting his Farmer on the board, but I don't like that move. No place is compelling for his blue leader, and it doesn't burn enough tiles.


Koert (Goat)
Action #1: Farmer to H9
Action #2: Temple to H10




This latest move by Koert gives me a chance to talk about a concept in T&E that I call "stability". It's something that I consider a lot in my games. Basically, a stable kingdom is one which is separated from all other kingdoms by more than two squares. Melissa and Latria both have stable kingdoms. I call it stable because if you end your turn with such a kingdom you are fairly well guaranteed of coming back to it your next turn the way you left it (excepting internal conflicts of course). No single person is able to attack you in one turn.

A semi-stable kingdom is one which is separated from another kingdom by exactly two tiles. Prior to this turn Koert and Robert had semi-stable kingdoms. I call it semi-stable because once you are within range of another kingdom a conflict is probably inevitable, but maybe not imminent. When kingdoms are semi-stable it often behooves one of the players to seize the initiative and attack so that they can control the order of battle. Whenever I have a semi-stable kingdom I look to attack as soon as I can, because choosing the order of battle is often enough to win. On the other hand, it is frequently the case that semi-stable kingdoms don't immediately conflagrate. If neither player sees an advantage in turn order (usually because the opposing kingdom cannot be weakened by removing one of the colors) or if the battle will obviously be split with one player winning one color and the other winning another color, then the kingdoms can remain in this state for quite some time.

An unstable kingdom is one which is separated from another kingdom by only one tile. This cannot last, it is almost never wrong to attack immediately when confronted with an unstable kingdom. The reason is that an unstable kingdom gives one player the chance to play a disaster before attacking. A well placed disaster tile followed up by an external conflict can by utterly devastating. Sometimes one player can win in 3 or 4 colors with such an arrangement which is difficult to do with semi-stable kingdoms. Rarely will you see an unstable situation last, when it does it is usually because one kingdom is so well built that a disaster tile will not materially affect it, or that one kingdom is so rinky dinky that other options are more pressing. In that case the situation reverts to semi-stable but like I said, this is rare.

The reason to consider kingdoms in terms of stability is that it helps you approach your strategy. You want to lure the other players into setting up semi-stable or even unstable situations for you. One way to do this is to build to within one tile of a treasure when you see another player is going to claim it. When they do you have an unstable situation that you can exploit.

As kingdoms approach each other you must be very careful, and you must plan for the resulting stability level. Ideally, you let the other player be the one to break the stability of the kingdoms, this gives you first crack at exploiting it. Players who don't consider stability often find themselves on the receiving end of brutal external conflicts, they wonder how their kingdoms get torn apart.

Here's a tip for you at home. When you see a less than stable situation, be aggressive. Look for any excuse to attack. But let the other guy create the instability if possible.

In the current board situation, Koert has created an unstable kingdom that Robert will exploit. Even if Robert had no green tiles in hand he would still launch an attack here. In that case he would disaster one of Koert's market tiles then attack with a 3-1 advantage. Robert has to do it because otherwise Koert will do it to him on the following turn. Koert would disaster K9 cutting off two markets then have his way with Robert's Trader. These kingdoms are extremely unstable, the person to attack has a huge advantage.

In this case, Robert doesn't even need to use the disaster tactic, and I'd be surprised if he did because it deprives him of a green point. Robert will launch a direct attack expelling Koert's Trader and claiming a treasure. A four point move!!

Robert will use his second action to address the resulting double temple vacancy on G10. Either he will play a black tile there to cover it up, or he will just move his King there. Either way he can't leave it exposed because it would be used to start an internal conflict against him before his next turn.


ROUND #4

Robert (Lion)
Action #1: Settlement to I5
Action #2: Settlement to I4




Well color me surprised. I'm at a loss as to why Robert didn't take the easy green conflict. He didn't even need to play a disaster tile to gain an advantage of 3 tiles (from what he can see on the board and in his hand). Usually a 3 tile advantage going into the conflict is sufficient to win. Now his kingdom is laid bare, and is at the mercy of Koert.

One thing Robert has done right is keep his black tiles connected to his black leader and his green tiles to his green leader. This is smart kingdom building. As it stands losing a conflict in either color won't remove the support of the remaining color. It's crucial to build this way whenever possible.

But also we now see the ramifications of his very first move coming back to haunt him. In playing a settlement on I5 Robert has removed any chance of reinforcing his black leader with another temple. Yet he needed to play on I5 in order to reach the treasure on H2 in 2 turns (assuming Koert lets him).


Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: Settlement to B10
Action #2: Settlement to B11




I am as shocked as you are Marshall. He must have thought that Koert was baiting him. Melissa played as I thought she would and I be Siow Hwee will get the treasure on I15 next. If Koert proceeds with his plan of attack on Robert, he is going to end up in a vary precarious position.

Melissa continues her safe play, and frankly she's sitting pretty right now. Especially now that she has her blue tile which enables her to cross the river and get a treasure. She's playing to her style, and it's paying off for her.

Siow Hwee will go claim his treasure on I15 now, and then we'll get to the interesting part where we see what Koert is going to do.


Siow Hwee (Bow)
Action #1: Temple to H16
Action #2: Farmer to H15




WHOA, hey guys, finally found my way back to the booth. It was quite a walk to Starbucks. Oh, sorry, did you want something?

Anyway, what'd I miss? From the looks of things, a whole lot of nothing! Did someone slip our players some prozac? They're all playing remarkably carefully. Where's the blood? Our audience demands carnage and gore! We haven't had an internal conflict, an external conflict, hell, I'd even take a nosebleed at this point.

Mad props to Melissa, staying FAR away from the boys. Koert's in quite a spot. I expect some action from him this turn. Maybe a carefully placed disaster tile (yeah! disasters!) can help him partake in some of Roberts thin kingdom.

Siow Hwee's left himself open with two temples that would make a good home for Robert's Priest, or someone else with some blood red tiles to wage an epic battle for position in that kingdom to the east.

Koert, Koert, wherefore art thine king? (Yes, I know that Juliet is simply lamenting Romeo's heritage, but just roll with me here.)


Greg, damnit, I ordered a double tall mocha skim latte with half a twist, how am I supposed to drink this?

Anyway welcome back You're right on in calling out Siow Hwee for leaving a double temple spot open. These spots are so rare and valuable that they should almost never be left available like that. It's a real rookie play if I can say so.

The real problem with it is that Siow Hwee doesn't know that Koert is shy on Red tiles. He's practically inviting Koert to play his King to I16 because he's spotting him a temple!

Koert now has a couple of tempting moves, and it's not clear what he should do. Personally I favor Disaster to K9 - Farm to I9 starting an external in Green with Robert. It's not a super efficient move in that it only nets two Green points but with unstable kingdoms like this the one to act first is going to win. He should do it not for the points but to prevent Robert from doing it to him.

If he doesn't do that he should try to exploit the double temple opening. A two tile advantage in red is simply not enough to risk an internal conflict with. Therefore, if Koert is going to go this route, his first move has to be to swap out his 3 farm tiles and hope he draws at least one temple. If he does then he can throw his King down onto I16 (unfortunately he'd lose but he can't know that. When you have a three tile advantage in red you should go for an internal conflict if that fits with your plans).

What he shouldn't do, in my opinion, is passively play tiles again. He's got to create some space for himself. Let's watch what happens.


Koert (Goat)
Action #1: Disaster to J8
Action #2: Farm to I9




Oh no, Koert is doing his rolling snowball thing again. Stay the heck away from me!

You are a cruel, cruel man. I like your style.


An impressive move by Koert. Instead of going for the conflict and two green points he took one blue point and a stronger board position. The reason this move works is because the resulting kingdoms are semi-stable meaning Robert can't immediately return the favor. I've seen people do this kind of cut-n-grab but leave the kingdoms unstable and the opponent can come right back with his own disaster. In this case, Robert has little incentive to disaster Koert's kingdom. So I looks like Koert stole the better part of Robert's kingdom and got away with it. A monument is now a real possibility for Koert.

How does Robert recover from this plunder? The thing he shouldn't do is play any more market tiles as that only dangles points in front of Koert, and might incite a conflict. If he's going to lose his Trader he should either move it himself, or just let it go and only give one point to Koert.

With that in mind it looks like he has two options. He could move his Trader to I16 and try to oust Siow Hwee (he'd lose but he can't know that and starting an internal with a three tile advantage is legitimate, if he wanted to be safe he could swap some tiles first in the hopes of more red). Or he could play farm to H4 - settlement to H3 and claim the treasure.

The latter plan in my favorite as that is a 3 point move that claims a treasure, a needed blue point, and doesn't tempt Koert to attack. If worst comes to worst he will lose his Trader from the board but in that case he can burn the green tiles and he should get enough red to get him back on somewhere.


Very nice play by Koert. He is now setup very nicely to take on Siow Hwee in both green and blue. Robert left himself open on Koert took great advantage of that. It was a VERY risky play by Koert, but seems to have paid off well.

I agree with you Marshall that Robert should get the points and treasure while he can.

Siow Hwee should probably play his Priest to that nice cozy I16 spot if able.

Melissa will most likely cross the Tigris and start towards the B2 treasure.


I knew he was going to do that.

The violence brings a tear to my eye. Snif...you go, boy. You go.


ROUND #5

Robert (Lion)
Action #1: Temple to I3
Action #2: Priest to I2




Robert somewhat followed my prediction. Except he left the dreaded 2 temple spot free and open. People shouldn't keep doing this because sooner or later someone is going to drop a leader in there. It's very rare for a two temple spot to remain unexploited for a full round.

Let's take a minute now to commend Melissa. She's quietly build a descent kingdom not under any immediate threat (the one and only flaw is the green tile on I8 separating her black leader from the black tiles. A defeat in green during an external conflict would be devastating to her. One of her goals should be to establish a redundant path tying her King to his settlements). With a farm tile in hand she is free to cross the river and work towards the treasure on B2.

At this point she should be thinking more strategically than tactically. Her strategic options are to build a monument or to use her growing kingdom in external conflicts. She has to do one of these two things because one cannot score enough points to win simply by laying tiles, even if one isn't interfered with.

The considerations which will feed her choice are the protectability of the monument, and the favorableness of the external conflict matchups. Unfortunately, both of these considerations are ambiguous right now. Certainly she's set up for a black monument on B9, but that is rather centrally located and vulnerable. Koert or Siow Hwee could go after it. The ideal monument spot is across the river in the North West corner but she is a long way from completing a monument there. Similarly, her external conflict options are not clear. Her strength is in black, but there is no opposing black leader readily available to attack. To attack Siow Hwee she would have to carefully build around Koert since he has such a green advantage, and we've seen she is vulnerable to losing in green right now. She has no advantage in blue or red with which to bully Koert's central kingdom.

I suppose if I were her I would be conservative here and build towards the treasure with a farm on B5 - settlement on B4. I would then collect the treasure with a temple to B3 the following turn. On the next turn a red monument is possible by playing two temples on A2 and A3 respectively. This monument would only be tenuously connected to her leaders, but this isn't so important because there are no free temple spots near the monument, so a disaster on B5 does not gain the aggressor anything. In my experience disasters are rarely played under these circumstances.


Hey Koert, Latria said you have stupid hair. You should attack him next.

I, on the other had, think that you have very attractive hair.


Mmmh, I am bald. So, you must both be lying and I will have to attack both of you. As Latria has experienced the snowballing already in the past, I don't know if I have to give him the pleasure of a first attack or if I should concentrate on Grinningpik and Melissa. On the other hand, I am a peaceful soul ... why would I attack?

hairDo. That's what I meant. Or, in your case, hairdon't. It's very nice

Oh, in that case, thanks! Maybe you have persuaded me with your kind words, maybe not.

Koert, it is an honor to be second, please leave me alone, and snowball them with your love.


[b]Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: Farm to B5
Action #2:
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Marshall P.
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Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: Farm to B5
Action #2: Settlement to B4




Yay! I finally predicted somebody's move exactly right. Let's see if I can do it again. Siow Hwee will play Priest to I16 - farm to D16. Then he will pray that Koert builds a monument and leaves him alone.

Siow Hwee (Bow)
Action #1: Settlement to I16
Action #2: Farm to D16




I confess I'm a little surprised that Siow Hwee would plug I16 with a settlement. I mean, what was the point of leaving yourself vulnerable for a whole turn if not to at least get a leader in there? Oh well, no harm done I guess.

What should Koert do? Well, a monument is a possibility but it's hard to see how he could hold it for long. It's generally not a good idea to build a monument in such crowded confines. He could go after Siow Hwee. To do so he must be careful to leave two spaces between their kingdoms (semi-stable) else Siow Hwee can cut off his green tiles with a disaster then attack. Even building within two spaces is a risk because Siow Hwee could attack first and choose to resolve blue (at this point Koert would win that battle but he doesn't know that). You see now why you don't want to be the one to break the stability between two kingdoms. Still, if I were Koert, I would do it because the other players have shown zero aggression and if Siow Hwee doesn't strike first then Koert can rip apart his kingdom as well.


Better go after Melissa! Congrats on the Tourney!

Whaaat? Don't go after me. I am nice.

Koert, you won? (not that that is a surprise). Where is the tourney thread? I can't see it in the CBBG forums


Yeah, I will have to go after Melissa. You have build the wrong monument. I would have preferred black-blue.

Yep, I won the tourney, but it was very close and it was a surprise (at least for me). My game with grinningpik was very tough (mdp knows about this one). I ended third and had already been second in another one. I thought I could forget about finishing high in the ranking and I played the other two games a lot more relaxed :-). I was lucky to win my next two games as the Goat and the urn and because the playing field was much more even, the total scores were lower. It was just sufficient for a close overall victory.


Koert (Goat)
Action #1: Temple to F10
Action #2: Market to J10




ROUND #6

I want to criticize Koert's move but I really can't. Normally, it would be dead wrong to build a monument in between two hostile kingdoms, and attached by only one blue tile no less! But in this situation neither Siow Hwee nor Robert are in a position to take the monument at least for a few turns. Koert stands a decent shot at holding onto it for a significant amount of time which is all you can ask when you build a monument.

The other players will have to decide if they are now going to build monuments of their own, or are they going to go after Koert's. Whatever the case they'll need to remember that Koert has no black points. Right now that is his weakness, if the other players can remember that and deliberately deprive him of black then the monument will be moot.


Robert (Lion)
Action #1: Settlement to J5
Action #2: Settlement to J4




Geez, you step off to the bathroom for a bit and you come back to so many monuments you'd think you're in DC. Siow Hwee's got to be feeling a bit left out - atypical for a movie star, certainly. His loyal fan base though, I'm sure, knows that he's just waiting for his chance to shine. But he's got a treasure to grab (always after the cash, he is) before he's going to build any monuments to/for himself.

Robert! Robert! The good prof's done gone and built himself outta a sustainable kingdom. Anyone with a black or green tile and $1.50 could take over wit a quickness - and it's a dern sight lucky fer him that that pesky Koert ain't got a black tile ta be seen nowheres.

And while Koert takes a gamble with a monument of his own, it's with sold reasoning. But that spare temple a-hangin' on to it might find itself occupied by a stray leader sometime in it's future. Mayhaps it will be the rightful king of Koert? (My bet is so, methinks Koert will get his King on the board next turn in order to keep up the intimidation on the good Prof.)

And that fuzzy creature up in the Northwest is doin' her bidness, and if the other players don't keep an eye on her, they'll be taking tomato sauce baths by the end of this here charade.


Wow, I've really got to be a little critical of Robert here. I mean, he built a monument in a kingdom with a free double temple spot (H3). I wouldn't be surprised at all to see both his Red and Black leaders gone by this point next turn. Siow Hwee can take care of the Priest, and whether that happens or not, Koert will be presented with a free one temple advantage for his King.

I had just got done saying that the way this game was shaping up the other players were going to have to be careful not to give Koert access to any black, and the very next thing Robert goes and puts a black point machine right next to Koert. And just in case Koert doesn't want to take it by external, he leaves an open invitation to take it by internal. Remember that Robert can't know that Koert is short of red. 9 out of 10 games Koert would take that monument straight off. He may decide to swap tiles and take in this game too.

Another surprise consequence of Robert's monument is that it screws up Melissa's plans. Remember the three turn plan I laid out for Melissa to build her own red monument on A1:B2? To follow that plan she would play settlement to B2 - temple to B1 or A2 this turn and finish the monument with two more temples next turn. Well, since Robert built his monument the only red monument left is red-blue, and Melissa's Farmer is not on the board. That delays her monument by another turn as she has to get that leader placed before completing the monument.

She still has a lot of options though depending on how aggressive she wants to be. One interesting idea is to move her Priest to H3 then place her Farmer on B6. This gets her onto a monument immediately, and could really give her a boost.

Short of that she could build towards one of the other kingdoms to get some points in external conflicts. The fundamental problem with this strategy is that the defect in her kingdom (the green tile on B8) means that she cannot be the one to break stability (build to within two tiles) with either Koert or Siow Hwee. To do so would risk them launching an external conflict and settling green first which would eviscerate her kingdom. Her only option then would be to build towards Robert, which she would probably do by first claiming the treasure on B2, then playing a temple on D5. From this temple an attack could be launched on Robert in two turns.

Do I think she will do any of that? No, Melissa is a conservative player and she will likely stick to her corner of the board. Conservative is fine as long as you start getting monument points before the others. That's not the case here so he is going to have to get aggressive at some point. I predict she'll at least play the settlement to B3 to get the treasure then I really have no idea how she'll use her second action.

Here's something to watch for with Melissa. If one of the other players creates a semi-stable kingdom with her, she really must be the first one to attack. She needs to control the order of battle in order to avoid having that green conflict go first. She may still lose the green, but at least she can win in one or two other colors before that happens. Will she have the guts to pull the trigger if it comes down to it? That's what we'll be watching for.


*sobs*. Hey at least gp has a monument, dude. I don't have one at all. (Congrats on winning the tourney!_

Don't let Melissa fool you, Koert! She's the one to beat.


Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: Settlement to B3
Action #2: Farm to C5




I think Siow Hwee will probably build a monument, but I wouldn't do it if I were him. If he does I think Koert will own it very soon. If I were him I would play my Priest onto H3, then grab the treasure with settlement to C16. This would burn 5 tiles out of his hand which would give him the chance to draw what he needs to compete with Koert in green and blue. In a couple turns he could be the one taking over monuments instead of Koert.

While we're at it let's dissect Siow Hwee's kingdom. You can see that it's structurally weak, the tiles of each color are separated from the leader of the corresponding color. His market tiles are separated from his Trader by farms, and so on for all of the colors. This isn't really his fault, it's more of an inherent problem in starting on the E14 temple, you can't help but separate your colors. This is one reason that starting location is not my favorite. The result of this structural weakness is that Siow Hwee's kingdom is very vulnerable to attack. Koert doesn't need win in a blue conflict, for example, he can win in green and disconnect Siow Hwee's Farmer. Similarly, if Koert can manage to win in blue then Siow Hwee's Trader is disconnected from his strength, and will be driven from the board.

So you can see why Siow Hwee cannot let someone else be the aggressor. Similar to Melissa, if he gets in a situation where an external conflict is possible he needs to initiate it without delay, he must control the order of battle. Will he have the courage to do it?


Siow Hwee (Bow)
Action #1: Farm to D15
Action #2: Market to C16




You know, as I look at the board I'm actually pretty happy with Siow Hwee's move. It may have been the best move after all. The two main reasons for my change of heart are that by converting the farms to a monument he's made them permanent, thus removing the possibility of detaching his Trader from his markets. This is quite an ironic result as usually creating a monument weakens a kingdom. In this case I think Siow Hwee's kingdom is stronger for having the monument, he needn't be so afraid of approaching Koert's kingdom now. And now, from Koert's point of view, Robert looks like a much more tempting target than does Siow Hwee. Secondly, this game is developing into a monument arms race. When such a thing develops you can't wait too long before acting or you will be far behind. And by acting I mean building a monument of your own, or taking one by force. So Siow Hwee has done his part to stay in the arms race (are you listening Melissa?)

Now for Koert's turn. The way I see it Koert has two courses of action to choose between for his turn. First of all, he would like to get his King onto H3, but since he doesn't have any temples he would need to swap all six of his tiles, and hope to draw at least two reds. In my experience this is actually a reasonable course to pursue, so that is his first option. His second option is to reinforce the connection between his leaders and his temple by playing a farm on I10 and then using his second action to get his King on the board (probably on G8) so that he can start playing some settlements on subsequent turns.

The main threat to Koert's kingdom is from the newly stout kingdom of Siow Hwee with a smaller threat from Melissa's kingdom. Should Koert be worried about playing his King under such circumstances? Probably not, the other players have shown zero inclination to attack Koert, and have been actively worshiping him in their conversations. I'd say Koert is safe to take either course of action, and I would be happy seeing either result. Of course, what I really hope is that Koert surprises me again with some master stroke!


Hey Koert! Look what Latria just made you!

But if you want to attack me, come and get it baby. I'll be ready.


Thanks Latria! Now my attention will definitely go towards your kingdom ...

If you guys want to give Melissa the win, just go ahead and attack me.

that would be acceptable, Latria. And very gentlemanly of you all.


Koert (Goat)
Action #1: Farm to I10
Action #2: Farm to I11




So Koert goes for the reinforcement plan. That's good, but I'm a little surprised he played two farms instead of getting his King on the board. Now that he's drawn the black tiles he needs his leader is not on the board. Ah well, it's a small thing to be rectified next turn I'm sure.

Well, Robert seems to have dodged a bullet again. In reality I think it's fair to say he's made three questionable moves this game, but has only been burned by one of them (the failure to attack Koert). Here's his problem for this turn. He needs to plug that hole on H3, but what is he going to do it with? He could do it with a market but I still don't like the plan of dangling points in front of Koert, the more green Robert puts on the board the more likely Koert is to take them right back off. Furthermore, if the market tile is removed it just reexposes the hole again so it's not a long term solution.

So if the market is not a good idea what about his Farmer? Not a good idea for the same reason. Koert has announced his blue strength right next door so Robert's Farmer may not be long for this world and would not permanently plug the hole. That leaves only a temple. It's a little odd to play a temple for this reason, and I'm sure Robert would rather save it for an internal conflict, but this is the position he's left himself with.

For his second action Robert might consider playing farm to H4, this gets him a sorely needed blue point without tempting Koert plus it has the added benefit of providing an alternate path to the monument for Robert's Priest. As it stands now that Priest could be cut off by a disaster placed on I3.

Thinking WAY outside the box Robert could disaster off Siow Hwee's Farmer from the rest of the kingdom, and then insert his Farmer on B15. His Farmer would be relatively safe there as there's no incentive to disasterize it because there are no other free temples in the kingdom. Still, this would use a valuable disaster tile that I suspect Robert is going to need later (after Koert wipes him off the board,) and it wouldn't do anything to address his primary kingdom.


ROUND #7

Robert (Lion)
Action #1: Farmer to H3
Action #2: Farm to H4




So Robert decided to put his Farmer on H3. It probably wasn't as risky of a move as I had let on earlier because Koert is most likely to play his King to the board this round, and there's no way for him to do that and attack Robert in the same turn. Looking further ahead to a possible external conflict between Koert and Robert: we have Koert easily winning blue and black with Robert now in position to win green and red.

Robert is in no position to initiate such a conflict, however, since he would then lose ties, and he can't be too confident of doing anything better than tying. Koert, on the other hand, would love to initiate the conflict but is facing some logistical hurdles. First of all, where does he initiate it at? K7 is the most likely invasion route, but he has to use a non-farm tile there, and it won't be clear to him which one he should sacrifice (because the linking tile is not counted in the kingdom's strength). If Koert isn't careful he could wind up connecting his King to a monument in exchange for connecting Robert's Priest and Trader to monuments, and giving Robert a treasure. A lot will depend on what Koert draws as replacement tiles after his turn.

Now to Melissa's options. She has simply got to get in on the action. The conservative isolationist strategy works fine if the other players knock themselves out with relatively small external conflicts. But when the other players build monuments and set up for big externals then isolationism is no longer an option. That lone market on B8 is absolutely killing her. Because of it she cannot build to within two squares of either Koert or Siow Hwee, they would both immediately attack her and settle green first thus splitting her kingdom in half and ending the conflict in their favor. She needs to attack Robert, but is not in position to do so until three turns from now (unless Robert helps out by building towards her). That's simply too long to wait to get anything going.

With all her temple tiles she would love to use an internal conflict to get in on Siow Hwee's blue monument, but how to do that? Even if she won the conflict (which she wouldn't at this point but she has every right to expect to so it's valid to try it) it would only expose a two temple spot that would be used against her unless she immediately filled it by moving her Farmer there. But that's a relatively inefficient move. Nothing appealing presents itself for Melissa.

Alright, how about this: temple to C8, settlement to C9. This sets up for an attack on Koert and establishes a redundant path to the east side of her kingdom to eliminate the single point of failure on B8. A preemptive strike on Koert's part will not look nearly so appetizing when he can't disassociate the kingdoms by winning quickly with green.

If Koert attacks he would win in green, but be forced to contend in red which he would lose. If Koert does not attack then he is highly discouraged from placing his King on the board. Whether he does or not Melissa can attack next turn and win in red (and black if that opportunity is there) which will separate the kingdoms and end the conflict. The only downside of this is that it leaves the kingdoms in an unstable state (separated by only one space) so Koert will have some fairly serious options with which to retaliate. Still what other options does Melissa have? None that I can see that would come to fruition in time.


Melissa (Urn)
Action #1: Settlement to A3
Action #2: Temple to B1




So Melissa is setting up for TWO monuments. It was a big risk though because if she didn't draw a settlement tile she'd have been stuck. I don't like the play because the odds of drawing a settlement are less than 50%. I would have preferred her to put pressure on Koert. But the risk paid off, now she can create the black-green monument, and put her Farmer on the board to create the Red-Blue monument the following turn. Will it be enough or did she wait too long?

Now it is Siow Hwee's turn. He needs to take the initiative here and use those temples to get his Priest on the board. There are two red Monuments available but the enemy Priest on each of them is guarded by two temples. Siow Hwee doesn't know it but he could win against either Koert or Robert in an internal conflict. If I were him I'd choose to attack Koert as he is clearly in a stronger position. I'd play Priest to G8 and throw my four temples at him (for an apparent 3 temple advantage). You never want to start an internal conflict with only a 2 temple advantage (unless you are desperate at the end of the game) but a 3 temple advantage is adequate and you shouldn't hesitate to go for an internal with a 3 tile lead if that fits with your plans.

After Siow Hwee wins a double temple spot would be open on F9. Siow Hwee could choose to fill that spot by moving his Priest there from G8 or he could leave it empty and assume Koert will decide to put his King there (since it is so clear that Koert needs to get his King on the board) and play farm or market. Either way is fine. Let's see what he does.


Siow Hwee (Bow)
Action #1: Market to C15
Action #2: Temple to D13




Are these guys playing conservatively or what? There hasn't been a single conflict this game, neither external nor internal. And I really think several opportunities were missed by this excessive caution. Siow Hwee, scored four points on his last move but he could have had five plus had his Priest attached to a Monument. This game is all about putting your leaders in the best positions possible. If everybody has a monument then you have to do something to separate yourself otherwise the first player to win a conflict will win the game.

Koert could start a conflict with Robert this turn with the confidence of winning in blue and green and avoiding the red conflict (even though he would actually lose in green, he doesn't know that and can't expect that his four green advantage wouldn't be good). But what he really needs are black points, therefore, I expect him to put his King on the board (G8 is the natural spot) then put a settlement somewhere (hopefully adjacent to his King). It'll really get interesting next turn when Koert might rightly expect to win in three out of the four colors and avoid the fourth. But in reality Robert would win green and get a third treasure which would be huge. It'll be interesting when we get there.


To Be Continued...

Click here for Part 2: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/170597
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Marshall P.
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" - Theodosius Dobzhansky
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There is grandeur in this view of life, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
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Hmmm, there must be a word limit or something because the session report was cut off halfway through (well, really a quarter of the way through because I broke the game in half intending to post two session reports).

So, I've put the rest of the first part in the first reply. I should get the second part done in a couple of weeks.
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Robert Kelly
Canada
St. Albert
Alberta
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This is awesome! I've never been so sad with my play. I'm excited to see who wins!
 
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Alan Schmitt
France
Grenoble
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Thank you very much for this great thread. I've only played 5 T&E games, but I really enjoy playing this game. I'm learning quite a bit reading all this.

I found a couple bugs in the images though:
- the image after bow's play on turn 5 is not updated
- starting at round 7, it seems that the temple does not score in red and black for the lion (but maybe I'm missing something)

Thanks again for posting this.
 
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Marshall P.
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" - Theodosius Dobzhansky
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There is grandeur in this view of life, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
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brab wrote:
Thank you very much for this great thread. I've only played 5 T&E games, but I really enjoy playing this game. I'm learning quite a bit reading all this.


Glad to hear it, that was my intention. I think this game turned out to be a little less accesible than I'd hoped. It requires quite a bit of effort on the part of the reader. But, I think there are a lot of good strategy nuggets buried in there if the reader is willing to dig them out.

Quote:
- the image after bow's play on turn 5 is not updated


Should be fixed now.

Quote:
- starting at round 7, it seems that the temple does not score in red and black for the lion (but maybe I'm missing something)


Yes it does seem to be wrong. But the score seems to catch back up around Round 10. I'll have to see if I can fix the graphics.
 
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Guillaume G.
Switzerland
Genève
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Just a word to say that i really enjoyed this annotated game session you did, Marshall. It is much better than the one I did (and which i just realised I didn't finish... I can still do it as it is a translation).
And it was a very special game on its own (6 temples !).
The story was very nice to hear about and i really enjoyed the way you included your general thoughts about the game from the example of the situation. The tone of the masked man was very complementary with yours (and in a much more theatrical way... unfortunately, as enlgish is not my mother tongue, it was not always easy to follow).

As I reckonized (but already knew) that your the E&T specialist onboard BGG, I would have a proposal to make to you for a potential future event to set up... I'll send you soon a private message on that topic (by the way, I realised I never got back to you on a proposal for tournament... Please excuse me for this).

Once again : well done for this long thrilling double-post !
 
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