Yellow to go first

[Also posted at the Ra’anana Boardgames Group site.]

One of the measures I have in determining if a game is a good game (in my subjective opinion) is whether I enjoy playing it, even when I’m losing. Since I get plenty of experience of being in this position, it’s a helpful measure.  As you may have guessed, in last night’s session – when we played another game of Age of Industry – I was losing, badly, and had ample opportunity of assessing the game. My conclusion: it’s a good game.

The Game

First, if you want background on mechanics and so forth, check out this session report.

The Session

Second, here’s what went down this week. We had the same five players: Abraham, Laurie, Ofer, Yehuda and me, and we again played on the USA board. I was the starting player and drew cards. My initial hand was awful, but the new cards – a blue and a coal – meant I could consider a coal building start. So, when turn two came along, that’s what I did: built a coal mine and started a rail line out of there to get people to use my coal resources. However, everyone else ignored my tempting offer and instead went for a port and ship strategy; they built their own rail network, and sourced coal all too often from off board supplies.

What happened then, was that the other players developed and their own inter connecting network and filled the board with point scoring resources. For example, Laurie took out big loans – $50 at one time – to fund her building, but repaid it all by game end scoring. Ofer was not so involved in the main network, and if he had connected to my coal supplies, the game would have been different. Yehuda, carefully managing his cards, built slowly and wisely. Abraham was less frugal with the cards, but built well, especially his rail connections, which ended up bringing him a lot of victory points.

Eventually, my coal mine joined the network. Yehuda, never one to miss an opportunity, promptly built coal there as well, so reducing the rate at which my mine could be used up and generate cash. Damn. Last session, Abraham had tried the coal strategy and failed. I now improved the strategy by fine tuning it so spectacularly – and wrongly – that few in our group will try that again!

Who is going first?

As with last week’s session, I badly misjudged how quickly the game ends with five players as opposed to four. I made the mistake of trying to dig myself out of a hole by drawing cards, instead of doing what the others were doing: making the best use of the available cards.  In the first game, I was often the first player. In this game it was Yehuda – the yellow player – who was most often going first, and staying in that position by low expenditure on many turns.  However, Abraham seemed to me, to prefer on several occasions to go later in the turn order so he could build and sell. That’s another part of the game and player interaction I need to study to get better at.

Near the end, there was one example of kingmaking. Abraham sold something and had a choice of whether he used Laurie’s or Ofer’s port. By preferring Laurie, he gave her second place in the game. Kingmaking puts off many players, but I think the general consensus was that in Age of industry it’s not an issue until the closing stages, and by then – while it may be a factor – it’s not always present, and may be more likely to affect the back markers.

…and the winner is…

Abraham was the winner with 28, then it was Laurie (23), Ofer (21), Yehuda (20) and me (14).

I need to play this again; my play can only improve…