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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2006-11-16

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  • brosiuse
    MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm in the Masonic Hall in Holliston, on Route 16 just east of the center of town. Turn north on Church Place (which is more a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25 8:13 AM
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      MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm in the
      Masonic Hall in Holliston, on Route 16 just
      east of the center of town. Turn north on
      Church Place (which is more a driveway than
      a street) to find parking.

      We welcome visitors. We'll even
      waive the $3.00 fee for your first visit.

      Roll call:
      Anton, Eric, Dan, Rich

      (Anton, Eric, Dan)

      There were just two of us at the Masonic
      Hall at 7pm, Anton and Eric, and after
      we waited for ten minutes for someone
      else to show up, we decided to start a
      game of Ticket to Ride. Ticket to Ride
      is an excellent game for 2 to 5 players,
      so we would be able to add anyone who
      came in before we started. We also knew
      we could finish it quickly, so if a third
      player came in after we started, he or
      she wouldn't have a long wait for the
      next game.

      As it turned out, Dan arrived before we
      had finished setting up, so we played
      with 3 players. The 3-player game is the
      most cutthroat, because only one player
      can build between any pair of cities and
      the board crowds up in a hurry. We dealt
      out the initial cards. Anton and Dan
      kept two tickets each, while Eric kept
      all three of his.

      The game began with a long period of card collecting, as each of us
      seemed to be drawing the cards he wanted. Finally, Anton broke the
      drought with a little two-train link between New York and Washington.
      He then began to build down the Eastern seaboard, to Raleigh and
      Atlanta. Eric took the two-train link between Houston and New Orleans
      (often this signals possession of the LA/Miami ticket.) Dan took the
      one-train links Portland/Seattle and Seattle/Vancouver. Once Anton
      reached Atlanta, Eric took the Atlanta/Nashville ticket, as he needed
      a connection to Atlanta from the north. This caused Anton to build
      Raleigh/Nashville, outflanking Eric's roadblock. Eric had six red
      cards by now and used them to connect New Orleans/Miami.

      Dan built south from Portland to SF, and Anton continued west through
      Little Rock and Oklahoma City. When Anton leaped ahead to build the
      LA/Phoenix link, Dan grabbed Phoenix/El Paso, eliciting an exasperated
      sigh from Anton, who built OKC/Santa Fe/El Paso/Phoenix to make his
      way around the blockage. It seemed likely that Anton had just finished
      the New York/LA ticket, as he relaxed visibly when he built this route.

      The roads to LA were getting crowded, and Eric used fistfuls of green
      and black cards to build two more 6-train links from LA/El Paso/Houston.
      This put him well ahead on the scoreboard. By now Anton and Eric each
      had cross-country runs, but Dan built Seattle/Helena together with
      Portland/SLC, apparently trying to monopolize the west but making no
      attempt to move east.

      Dan and Anton each drew some new tickets (it appeared they may have
      completed their initial pairs,) but Eric plowed on, striking north from
      Nashville to Pittsburgh, NY and Montreal. Rich came in at this stage
      of the game, and as Dan laid track from Vancouver to Calgary, Rich
      noted that Eric had only a handful of trains left to place. The other
      two suddenly realized that they would not have time to connect their
      remaining tickets, and Eric laid his last six trains down in four more
      turns as everyone scraped for the last few available points.

      Final scores:

      Eric 134 = 84 track + 40 tickets + 10 bonus
      Dan__ 98 = 78 track + 20 tickets
      Anton 58 = 45 track + 13 tickets

      Dan and Anton suffered penalties of 17 and 22 VPs, respectively, for
      unfulfilled tickets at the end of the game.

      Eric's rating: 8. I've played the Europe and Marklin expansions to
      Ticket to Ride, but I still prefer the original version. I have more
      tolerance than most people for games in which random elements can give
      and advantage to one player. I play enough games that I don't mind
      losing a few because of bad luck; I figure I'll win a few because of
      good luck to make up for it. As long as the play is interesting, I
      can tolerate the luck. Ticket to Ride is a quick, simple game (we
      finished this game in 45 minutes and were ready for the next game by

      (Anton, Eric, Dan, Rich)

      Now that Rich had arrived, we had 4 players, and there was plenty of
      time for a meatier game. Eric had been bringing his copy of Outpost
      out to MVGA for a number of weeks, and the others agreed to give it
      a shot. Outpost is an out-of-print game for which reprint rights have
      been elusive, so it's hard to get, and Eric was delighted to be able
      to trade for a copy earlier in the year. He played a few games with
      Joe Huber's customized set and copied Joe, using pieces from old Risk
      and Numble games, together with some bingo chips, to make the game
      easier to follow.

      Eric had copies of Tom Lehmann's version 1.32 "Expert" game rules set,
      which regular Outpost players all seem to use. These fix imbalances
      in the original game and increase the number of viable strategies.
      They create options and force you to make tough decisions.

      Eric taught the rules before we began play, as none of the others had
      played Outpost before. Outpost is fundamentally a card game, though
      it has a board on which the cards are displayed. In this sense it
      resembles St. Petersburg; you can easily dispense with the board if
      you want to transport your game more easily. You begin the game with
      limited technological abilities, a few factories and some population
      units (to run your factories.) At the start of the game you know how
      to build water and ore factories, and you can buy more population,
      but that technology will only take you so far. To win you must buy
      upgrades, which you can buy via an auction process that resembles the
      one in Power Grid. As I describe Outpost, I'll compare it to other
      games that may be more familiar, but Outpost was published in 1991
      and in fact it's possible that the other games were inspired by it.
      The upgrades give you special abilities that help your colony grow.
      Upgrades and manned factories are the source of VPs.

      The sequence of play is simple:

      (1) Determine turn order
      (2) Restock the upgrade market
      (3) Produce goods
      (4) Purchase things (upgrades, factories, population)
      (5) Check VPs

      The purchasing phase is the heart of the game. It takes up most of
      the time each turn, and it is the phase during which players compete
      at auction for scarce assets.

      First, you determine turn order. This runs in descending VP order,
      with the player who has the most VPs taking the '1' turn order card.
      If there's a tie, add up the printed costs on the upgrades you have
      purchased and the higher total goes first. If there's still a tie,
      choose at random. Turn order is the only explicit "stop the leader"
      mechanism in Outpost---the first player must bid for a desired
      upgrade against all opponents, while the last player may be able to
      buy one cheaply once the others have spent their money.

      Next you fill the available market with upgrades for potential sale.
      The number of upgrades on display will equal the number of players
      (in contrast to Power Grid, though, there is no re-stocking during
      the turn as upgrades are bought.) There are 13 different types of
      upgrade, each a card with a serial number (#1 to #13,) a list price
      and a list of the benefits the purchaser will gain. In the first
      stage of the game, only #1 through #4 are available. As soon as
      one player has 10 VP, the game enters a second stage, and #5 through
      #10 are added to the mix. Finally, once at least one player has 30,
      35, or 40 VPs, depending on the number of players (as shown in the
      "Expert" rules,) the game enters its third and last stage, during
      which all of the upgrades are available.

      Three polyhedral dice are provided for determining what upgrades are
      available. In the first phase, a d4 is rolled and the corresponding
      upgrade is placed in the market. In our game, we rolled the d4 four
      times (once per player) and placed a #1 Data Library, a #3 Heavy
      Equipment, a #2 Warehouse and another #1 Data Library into the market.
      At most half of the upgrades can be of a single type; if you roll a
      third of the same type in a 4-player game, just re-roll. There is a
      limited number of each upgrade type for the whole game, as described
      in the "Expert" rules---in our game there would be only 3 of each
      type---and the scarcity factor creates competition and assures that
      different players will follow different strategies. In the process
      of rolling for upgrades, if you choose one for which none are left in
      stock, take the next lower number (if there are none with any lower
      number, you re-roll.)

      The third phase is production. There are nine decks of colored cards
      that represent the "currency" available to the players. The least
      valuable is ore: the brown ore cards are worth from 1 to 5, with
      average value 3. You get an ore card for each manned ore factory
      (OrF). Next is water: the blue water cards are worth from 4 to 10,
      with average value 7. You get a water card for each manned water
      factory (WaF).

      You start the game with two manned OrF's and one manned WaF, so you
      are entitled to two ores and a water, but to get the game off to a
      faster start, you get double production on the first turn only: four
      ore and two water. This is a major luck element in the game and it
      happens on the first turn---your cards could total as little as 12 and
      as much as 40, and the existence of this luck is one of the principal
      complaints people have about Outpost. Later I'll describe a "mulligan"
      rule that ameliorates this problem, but there certainly could be room
      for more in this direction.

      After you get your new production cards, you must discard down to a
      hand limit of 10 cards. The limit presents a challenge if you have a
      lot of factories, as you could have to discard cards before you can
      spend them (you will discard the small ones, but it still represents
      wasted resources in a game where every small advantage matters.) One
      luck-reducing factor is the availability of special "mega" production
      cards. These count as four single production cards. If you have four
      operating WaF's, you may take one mega-water card (worth a fixed 30)
      instead of four water cards (averaging 7 each.) The average is more,
      and luck is eliminated, but the mega-water still counts as 4 cards in
      your hand, and you can't get change when you spend it.

      The next phase is the purchasing phase---the heart of the game. When
      it's your turn, you can buy factories and/or population, paying fixed
      prices, or you may put upgrades up for auction. This phase proceeds in
      player order, but you may bid during an opponent's turn, even if you
      have already taken your turn, as long as you still have money (e.g.,
      production cards) to bid with. The decision-making in Outlook focuses
      on which upgrades to bid for, how much to bid for them, and when to
      eschew bidding and save your cards or buy factories and/or population.
      To do well, you must know what an upgrade is worth to you, and you must
      be able to estimate what it is worth to your opponents.

      To buy factories, just pay the fixed price in production cards to the
      bank (put spent cards in the discard pile on the board.) OrF's cost 10,
      WaF's cost 20 and population (to run the factories) cost 10. The bank
      never pays change, so if (for example) you have two water cards worth 7
      each and two ore cards worth 4 each, you might need to spend 22 to buy
      a WaF. If you buy several identical factories, or several population,
      you can pay for them all in one payment (7 + 7 + 6 for two population,)
      but you must pay separately for each type of item. The game includes
      titanium factories (TiF's), research factories (ReF's) and so forth, but
      you do not know how to build them at the start of the game---you must
      buy the right upgrades first. There is no limit to how many factories
      you may buy, but you can only house 5 population, and since factories
      are worthless unless they are manned, this also restricts your growth.
      With your starting technology, you can build up to five manned WaF's,
      generating five water cards a turn (or one regular water and one
      mega-water,) leaving your two original OrF's unmanned. You'd have
      only 5 VPs if you do this. You must buy upgrades to get ahead!

      To buy an upgrade, you must have in your hand production cards equal
      to at least the list price printed on the upgrade. During your turn,
      you may name an upgrade and a price you are willing to pay (you often
      start at list price, hoping to buy cheaply.) The auction goes around
      the table, with each player raising or passing. In Outpost, you may
      pass and then bid again later, but once all but one player has passed
      in turn, the high bidder wins the item and pays for it (again, no change
      is available.) The auctions can present an arithmetic challenge as you
      calculate what bids you can hit exactly with your cards---for example,
      if you have nothing but three '7' cards, you might bid 21 rather than 20,
      since you'll have to pay 21 anyway. Our group is good with arithmetic,
      so this wasn't a problem, but it could be an issue in some groups.

      When an auction is complete, the auctioneer's turn continues. He or she
      may auction another item or may buy factories and/or population. Early
      in the game you can't afford more than one upgrade, but you can buy as
      much as you can afford (and you may buy more than one of a single type of
      upgrade.) If you see nothing you want to buy, you can save your cards
      for the next turn (but beware of the hand limit, which can force you to
      discard cards.)

      Eric advised the others that it's unwise to buy upgrades until you've
      added at least one manned WaF to your starting assets. He also explained
      the "mulligan" rule, which is designed to mitigate bad luck: if you get
      less than 20 in starting cards, you may turn them all in for a WaF on the
      first turn. A player who cannot buy a WaF on the first turn is at a big
      disadvantage, and this rule makes sure that can't happen. There's no
      corresponding rule to limit good luck, and a player who can afford both a
      WaF and a population on the first turn has a big advantage. Eric got a
      total of 38 on his six initial cards, so he showed the others his hand
      and discarded it, drawing new cards. Experience matters a lot in Outpost,
      and he didn't want to have a huge advantage in luck as well.

      As recommended, we each bought a WaF on the first turn, moving population
      from OrF's to man them (you may shift population at any time, so there's
      no need to plan ahead in this area.) On the second turn, we each got two
      water cards and an ore, and we had to think about how long we would wait
      to buy upgrades.

      Dan bought the first upgrade, a Warehouse. This raises your hand limit
      by 5 cards (in Dan's case, from 10 to 15.) The ability to save cards is
      valuable; Brian Bankler believes the Warehouse is the best Stage 1
      upgrade. Saved cards are not driving growth (the average rate of compound
      interest in Outpost is about 20% per turn,) but the ability save cards
      takes away the pressure to buy something you don't really want just to
      avoid throwing cards away. Even more importantly, a stash of saved cards
      lets you outbid others on a key upgrade when it becomes available.

      Rich bought the second upgrade, a Heavy Equipment. The Heavy Equipment
      lets you buy TiF's for 30 each. TiF's generate titanium cards, which
      average 10 in value, and manned TiF's are worth 2 VP (vs. just 1 VP each
      for OrF's and WaF's.) A Heavy Equipment also gives a discount of 5 toward
      a Warehouse or Nodule and a discount of 15 toward an Outpost. Anton also
      bought a Heavy Equipment. Eric put off buying an upgrade, building up his
      inventory of WaF's instead. Rich thought it was expensive to get into the
      titanium business: first you pay 30 for the Heavy Equipment, and then you
      pay 30 more for each TiF. It's easier to bear the cost if you build up
      your economy first, but of course that delays the payoff from those
      valuable titanium cards. If you decide to buy Heavy Equipment, you must
      be prepared to push TiF construction hard, and Rich and Anton failed to
      realize the full value of their purchases because they did not do so.

      Eric finally joined the upgrade race by buying a #4 Nodule. A Nodule
      raises your population limit by 3 (in Eric's case, from 5 to 8.) He had 4
      WaF's running by now, and he bought 3 population for one mega-water on the
      next turn, putting two idle OrF's back in use, and paid 40 for two new
      WaF's on the next turn, raising his production to 6 water a turn. The new
      players found it hard to focus on a single strategy, buying a little of
      this and a little of that, and this cost them somewhat in efficiency.
      Eric and Rich each bought a Data Library, which gives a discount of 10
      toward Scientists or Laboratories. The discount is valuable on its own,
      but another benefit of a Data Library is that it counts just like a card
      with a value of 10 when bidding for these items, but does not take up
      hand space. Eric's lack of either a Warehouse or titanium technology
      meant he would have a smaller maximum hand value than his opponents, which
      can be a problem when valuable upgrades become available.

      Dan pushed us into Stage 2 by buying an upgrade that gave him 10 VP. At
      this point you replace the d4 used to select new upgrades with a d10. We
      rolled new upgrades and added a #7 Robots. This upgrade lets you buy
      robots, which are like population but do not count toward your population
      limit. Instead, you may buy one robot (and man a factory with it) for
      each population you have. You cannot buy more robots than population,
      lest the robots revolt, but if you buy a second Robots upgrade, you can
      buy two robots per population, and so forth. The Robots upgrade comes
      with a free sample robot, which you can put to work right away. Robots
      isn't the most exciting upgrade, and we ignored it for the time being,
      buying more of the Nodules and Data Libraries instead. Eventually Rich
      would buy the first Robots, as he had not purchase a Nodule and was at
      his population limit.

      The early part of Stage 2 of Outpost often focuses on the #5 Scientists
      and #6 Orbital Lab upgrades. A Scientists upgrade is effectively a
      self-contained ReF that does not need to be manned. It produces a
      research card each turn with an average value of 13. An Orbital Lab is
      similar, but it produces a microbiology card each turn, averaging 17 in
      value. Microbiology and research are so tiny that the cards do not
      count toward your hand limit, making them especially valuable. Research
      cards also let you buy new chemicals factories (NCF's,) as I will explain
      later. Neither of these upgrade types appeared during the first few
      turns of Stage 2 in our game, and this diverted the game from its typical
      course, with purchases of the less expensive Stage 1 upgrades continuing
      even after we had entered Stage 2.

      Eventually a #8 Laboratory became available. A Laboratory provides a free
      ReF and allows you to buy new ReF's for 30 each, which Scientists does not,
      and it is worth 5 VPs compared with 2 VPs for the Scientists. On the other
      hand, Scientists are much cheaper and do not require a population, so
      they are usually preferred during the early part of Stage 2. In this game,
      with no Scientists available, the Laboratory was an attractive alternative.
      Eric counted his cards and was pleased to see he had exactly 70. He
      bought the Laboratory with no opposing bids, as his opponents couldn't
      match the price (Dan might have used his Warehouse to save cards, but he
      had spent his money already.) The Laboratory was especially valuable to
      Eric, who had neither a Heavy Equipment nor a Warehouse, and in fact his
      Laboratory purchase was probably the turning point of the game.

      The upgrades continued to come out in an unusual order. One or two Outpost
      upgrades were sold before the first Scientists or Orbital Lab. The #10
      Outpost is a powerful upgrade (they named the game for it, after all!) It
      adds 5 to your hand limit, 5 to your maximum population, and provides a
      free TiF (though not the ability to build more TiF's.) The Heavy Equipment
      players, with their discount, were first to buy Outposts. Eric got one
      later, after buying a #9 Ecoplants first. Ecoplants is a cheap upgrade
      that lets you buy population for 5 instead of 10 and gives you a discount
      of 10 toward an Outpost. It is also a cheap way to gain VPs, as it is
      worth 5 VPs for a list price of just 30.

      Because of the late appearance of Scientists and Orbital Labs, the game
      moved more slowly than usual. We bought some NCF's while we waited for
      better upgrades. To buy a NCF you must pay 60, and you must pay at least
      one research card for each NCF you buy (so you can't buy NCFs unless you
      own Scientists or a Laboratory.) The new chemicals cards pack a wallop,
      though, with an average value of 20, and Anton even got four NCF's, which
      let him take mega-new chemicals cards worth 88 each.

      In a 4-player game, Stage 3 starts once one player reaches 40 VPs. Eric
      reached 41, with his opponents clustered around 30. We brought out the
      d12. There are 13 upgrades, so you add 1 to the d12 to choose upgrades
      during Stage 3. The #11 Space Station costs 120 and is a special factory
      that produces an orbital medicine card when manned, averaging 30 in value.
      A manned Space station is worth 10 VP (vs. only 5 VP for the best Stage 2
      upgrades.) The #12 Planetary Cruiser costs 160, produces ring ore cards
      averaging 40 in value, and is worth 15 VP. The #13 Moon Base costs 200,
      produces moon ore cards averaging 50 in value and is worth 20 VP. These
      last three upgrades push the game rapidly to its conclusion once you hit
      Stage 3. They are far more valuable than any alternatives, so you play in
      the latter turns of Stage 2 with an eye to setting yourself up for them.

      The first set of upgrades in Stage 3 included a Planetary Cruiser and two
      Space Stations. Eric had enough for the Planetary Cruiser and was able to
      buy it for list price. His opponents had to bid for the Space Stations,
      since there were only two for 3 players, and as a result they had to pay
      almost as much for less valuable upgrades. Eric bought a Moon Base on the
      next turn to pass 75 VP and end the game. We finished a little after 10pm,
      so the game took just over two hours (less than two hours not counting the
      rules explanation.)

      Final scores:

      Eric 81, Dan 55, Rich 53, Anton 52.

      Eric's rating: 9. I asked the others how they would rate Outpost. Anton
      rated it '3' based on the breakaway leader problem. Dan thought it was
      interesting, but needed to be fixed. He rated it '5'. Rich rated it '1'
      and said he would prefer root canal surgery to playing Outpost. He had
      two main criticisms: (1) only one path to victory and (2) difficulty of
      stopping the leader.

      There's no doubt that Outpost can produce a runaway leader. This can even
      happen as a result of lucky card draws (in this game, Rich had poor cards
      early.) If you object strongly to random elements, or to a game in which
      you may find yourself out of contention for victory part way through the
      game, you may not enjoy Outpost. On the other hand, you make many choices
      during the game, and your choices matter. You must pay attention from the
      start of the game, because there's no strong "catch up" mechanism. This
      doesn't mean there's no way to catch up; if you're leading, you're usually
      under pressure in some way (from the hand limit, the population limit,
      or a lack of advanced technology,) and your opponents can "squeeze" you by
      competing for the upgrades you simply must have. If you let them "overpay"
      for an upgrade you absolutely must have, you'll often suffer more then they
      will, so you need to keep bidding, up to all your cards. Of course, this
      only happens once the players know the game; it's particularly difficult
      for an experienced player to teach beginners without running away with it
      (though when I played Outpost with Bill and Bob at UG XI, they both liked
      it, and Bill came within 1 VP of winning.) I'll also observe that the
      three rookies in this game finished within 3 VP of each other, so the game
      was well balanced among them.

      On the other hand, I disagree with Rich's first criticism. The purpose of
      Tom Lehmann's "Expert" rules is to generate multiple paths to victory.
      Your upgrade purchases during Stage 1 force you to make important choices,
      and those choices affect the value of the upgrades that will be available
      during Stage 2. For example, if you buy Data Libraries during Stage 1,
      you will trail the others in raw income, but you'll be prepared to jump on
      any Scientists that come out early in Stage 2. If you buy Heavy Equipment,
      you want Stage 1 to last as long as possible so you can build out your
      titanium production while your opponents are stuck with water. If you
      invest in a Warehouse, you'll save cards when the current turn's upgrade
      selection is unappealing so you can win the auction for a better upgrade
      next time. Opponents without Warehouses will be forced to buy something
      just so they don't have to throw cards away.

      The heart of Outpost is choosing what upgrades you want, deciding when to
      bid for them and how much to pay, and keeping track of how the choices
      your opponents are making affect the values of upgrades for them. If
      you see that a particular upgrade is likely to be ignored by the others,
      you may be able to adapt your strategy so as to take advantage of the
      chance to buy that upgrade cheaply.

      I rate Outpost a '9' because I enjoy the decision-making process, and I
      love the sharp nature of the competition. I admit that there can be a
      runaway leader (that's why I've rated it a '9' and not a '10',) but I can
      enjoy the game even if I'm not in contention for a victory (if my VP
      total is only 75% of the leader's, I try to get the ratio up to 80% next
      turn---who knows whether I may be able to raise it to 100%, but I enjoy
      any progress I can make in closing the gap.) For the first time ever,
      Outpost will be on my "Five and Ten" list for 2006; I've managed to play
      it five times already (and I'd be happy to make it six!)

      (Eric, Dan, Rich)

      Anton had to leave, as he often does at about 10pm. We let Rich pick
      the final game of the evening so he could get the taste of Outpost out
      of his mouth (I guess it's like jalapenos; some people love it and
      some people don't.) Rich picked Alhambra, a game that won the Spiel
      des Jahres in 2003. It was criticized by some at the time as being an
      unworthy winner, but we've played it over and over at MVGA (31 times
      in my session reports, and probably more when I wasn't able to come,)
      and on this basis it was a fine choice.

      The game started off in typical fashion, with Rich pulling out to a
      lead in purple towers and gaining the largest long wall. Rich has
      won more than half of his Alhambra games at MVGA and is the favorite
      to win any time he plays. Dan led in blue and tied in red, but these
      are the least valuable colors and he lagged behind.

      First scoring: Rich 11 (5 walls,) Eric 5 (2), Dan 3 (1).

      As you can see from the first set of scores, we were drawing a lot of
      cards and buying little during the initial stages of the game. Our
      hands of cards grew fat and we splurged during the second part of the
      game. Eric got tile after tile that fit nicely into his compound, and
      was able to dominate green while placing well in other colors while
      building a huge wall, overpaying several times to get just the right
      tile. There's always a risk that you may become wall-bound, but it's
      hard to resist when the tiles are just sitting there begging to be
      taken. Dan and Rich dueled over the white tiles, pouring their cards
      into the color as Eric ignored it completely.

      Second scoring: Eric 50 (17 walls,) Rich 42 (6), Dan 41 (7).

      There was a bit of a lull as the cards all seemed to be orange but the
      tile on offer for orange money was one none of us wanted. Rich and
      Dan continued to compete for white. We tried to catch Rich in purple,
      but he held his lead, and Eric stayed ahead in green. Eric got a few
      key tiles to break out in the one direction still available to him and
      added nine more walls to his long wall. Rich built one wall section
      of length 11 and another of length 9, which wasn't the most efficient
      result. When the last tile was drawn, Eric was delighted to have won,
      essentially by the amount of his wall advantage.

      Final scores: Eric 140 (26 walls,) Dan 117 (10), Rich 111 (11).

      Eric's rating: 8. Rich and I both played Alhambra at WBC. We both
      lost to players who scooped up the 8 and 9 money cards, leaving us
      with choices of 5 and 6. It's one thing to have a fistful of change,
      but you need the sheer mass of the big cards if you don't want to pay
      three or four cards for a single tile. We'll have to incorporate the
      new ideas into our play before next year's WBC convention.

      Eric Brosius
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