Day two kicked off with the final heat of Through the Ages. Amazingly enough, I got paired with two of last year's finalists - Randy and Andrew who I had played Eclipse with the other day! Since it was almost certain that I couldn't qualify for the semifinals, this was the best thing that could have happened. I get a chance to play a game that feels just like being in the finals instead and hopefully play well while getting a feel for how the best players play this game.
I picked up Julius Caesar and St. Peter's Basilica in Age A. Julius didn't do much except get me to cycle through some military cards. I had what I thought was a pretty good Age I. I got Alchemy, Iron, and Irrigation, but missed out on Knights. Randy built a whole Legion while Andrew built some Knights, so I had to build a Legion as well to keep up in military. After that, I had a hard time keeping up in military. I was able to get Swordsmen to upgrade my Legion but never saw any tactics cards past that to switch to. Late in Age I, still with Caesar, I picked up Michaelangelo to go with St. Peter's. I believe he really isn't that good coming up late in the Age, but I don't think there was much else worth doing, so it was better than not doing it.
During Age II, I built up my infrastructure the best I could and felt like I was in good shape. I picked up the Eiffel Tower to give myself some culture points once Michaelangelo would die. Maybe it would have been better to save those rocks to build something like Multimedias or Movies?
In Age III, of course I got picked on. However, I did pick up Gandhi early which kept me a bit safe - however it also kept me from getting a leader that could generate a lot more points. Randy destroyed my two Alchemy, which I don't think actually hurt me that much - there wasn't much tech I needed to play but didn't. I was able to defend a 7 point steal aggression from Andrew on the second to last round. Amazingly, my lack of military didn't totally hose me. The Impact cards, however, gave Randy a convincing win, and Andrew a solid second over me. However, my score wasn't totally blown away relative to what I've seen happen to people at times.
My big takeaway seems to be that I really need to study the Impact cards. You need to really know them, and be aware of how many your opponents have put into the deck and what they might reasonably have put there. Randy was able to put my one seed as Impact of Agriculture, which got him something like 6 points extra by upgrading to Mechanized Agriculture on the last turn.
My two main possible errors: 1) not taking Warfare early. Randy said he thought it was the best Age I tech, but I'm not exactly sure why other than it giving you more military cards. The 1 strength pip rarely seems to matter. 2) Taking Eiffel Tower instead of waiting to build more infrastructure.
My main question: if you have a reasonable lead going into Age III and the lead in point generation (via Eiffel Tower in this case), do you take Gandhi? I had something like 8 military while the others had in the 30s.
A really fun game, and a good learning experience.
After that, I played a heat of Amun-Re, where I was faced off with Randy again! I don't really know Amun-Re and haven't thought too much about how to win it. My impression leaving it was that getting the most pyramids in a province is a huge deal. Obviously you also need to know how to value the provinces in the first place, which I am not 100% down with yet. My teammate Jeff, who I hadn't met yet (Eric added me to his team at the last minute) crushed the table pretty thoroughly.
I played a tight, fun game of Thurn & Taxis, but of course I went card dead at the end. Three turns of wiping the board to look for one of two or three cards each time and I couldn't find any of them so I missed out of getting the 7 carriage at the end. The score was something like 17-15-13-10, with me on a 13 that could easily have been a 17.
Believe it or not, I played two more games AFTER that.
Stone Age finally broke me into the win column. I had a great game against three super nice opponents. I was able to expand my family the first three turns and go for a pure starvation strategy. I rolled fairly well during the game as well, and on the last turn picked up the 3 x hut card. It turns out I didn't need it, and would have won anyway, but it would have been a lot closer. The end score was something like 204-175-160-111. Looking at the schedule, I might switch the second heat of Brass into the second heat of Stone Age and the first heat of Princes of Florence.
As a nightcap, I got to play Ra with Daniel, a regular WBC friend and opponent. Daniel is a really great guy and hilarious to boot. I told him I was coming for his Le Havre title, but obviously we are not Ra experts, as a very very young boy crushed us all. He was probably around 10, and said only the word "pass" during the whole game. He had everything: monuments, pharaohs, and a 3 long river. I think the final score was about 55-38-33-30-25. I had a terrible game and got the 25. I thought I was over being too conservative in bidding, but somehow the timing of this game threw me off and I couldn't get rolling before the end of each epoch.
A very fun day of gaming! I just woke up and did my Core Synergistic workout from P90X, which was part of my commitment for this year's WBC. I did Yoga yesterday and Kenpo Cardio the day before. I hope that keeping my body in gear will keep my mind focused! Tomorrow is another Kenpo day, but it is also a big gaming day, so I'll fit it in if I can, but I won't stress if I can't.
The rest of today is open gaming. I hope to try to get a game of either Troyes or Dungeon Lords in. They are two games I own that I haven't played much but would love to learn more. I would also be curious to get a game of Amun-Re in. The other thing I would be interested in was playing a game of Agricola with E draft or I draft to prepare for the tournament. I would welcome a 5 player Princes of Florence for the same reason. Later, the official tournaments start up again at 6 pm. Power Grid (my team game! also note the green font in honor of FF) at 6 and Le Havre at 9, what a night!