Friday, July 06, 2007

Maharaja for Two

Following the tradition of playing games during State of Origin, Scrabblette and I played Maharaja on Wednesday night. Our previous play was in a 4 player game at "On the Beach" in January. At that time I screwed up my first turn (forgot to account for travel costs, couldn't afford to build a house and gave everyone else two gold), got hammered by CyberKev and everyone else, and wasn't particularly impressed by the game. However Scrabblette was favourably disposed towards it so we planned to play again.

Judging from the BGG forums, naive players of this game think it's better to go first, and when we randomly selected first player that was me. Having watched CyberKev's clinical demolition of us after playing first I knew the best move was to chase the maharaja and get the most money. Scrabblette chose to go to the second city which left me with a monopoly. Afterwards we realised that she would have been much better off to just send her architect over and come second, but we were just learning at the time.

I continued to lead from the front throughout the game - following the maharaja and winning almost all of the cities. Scrabblette used various roles to keep herself in the race but eventually fell one palace behind. I was impressed that she kept up so well as I was getting most money by far and built all but one central palace.

I built 7 palaces in 8 turns, and I may have done better than that if we'd remembered to place houses in our reserve at the beginning of the game instead of having to quarry them. The question then occurred to me - what DO you do about a front-runner?

BGG gives a lot of good advice, pointing out ideas such as the character with the Mogul (character 1) always builds palaces for 12 whereas the other player need only pay 9. I need more experience to see how this works, but a lot of players on BGG have a very high opinion of the game so I'd like to play some more and see how the strategies work and how our approach develops as we become more experienced with the game.


ekted said...

For me, it's problematic with 2, because of the loss of action selections with respect to player order. I've been trying to think of a good variant for 2 players (probably something to do with each player using 2 wheels and having 2 characters), but nothing is working for me yet.

With a third player, an obvious leader has to fend of 2 other players. This has a great balancing effect.

Ryan Walberg said...

Maharaja can be a bit like Age of Steam in that if you're not doing well, you'll quickly lose interest. All it takes is one game where you stay in the lead and "aha!" it's an easy 8 or 9. Definitely an underrated game, IMHO.

Haven't played it with two, only 3, 4 and 5.