Sunday, December 21, 2008

John the Meat-Seller Goes To Monte Carlo

John the meat-seller has been continuing his adventures. Last time we talked about John he had been a meat-seller, clay deliveryman, carpenter and master brewer, and had scored 70 points in the 4th game of the campaign.

He started the 5th game with 4 food which gave him a comfortable buffer at the start of the game. The occupations available included the plow maker (when you plow, pay a food to plow an extra field) so my plan for the first phase was an occupation, 2 plows, 4 grain, and a sow. That gave me bucketloads of grain, an advantage which I mostly failed to exploit - after all, I was a meat-seller, not a baker. It was a lacklustre game, and John scored 68 with a target of 64. The other occupation I took was seasonal worker, and I think it was my enthusiasm to use that which caused most of the problems.

Game 6 started with the plow maker as the kept occupation, of course, but only 2 food left over, and they got used up doing the plowing. The best occupation on offer was the stone carrier (when you take stone you get an extra one). That not only gave me access to more stone, but also let me get enough stone to do useful things a turn earlier. That was much more of an advantage than I'd guessed. In addition to the usual Clay Oven, John was able to build a Stone Oven... and a Well and a Reed Pond and a Bean Field and a Basketmaker's Workshop and a Half-Timbered House. All of those children were kept busy busy busy! Of course the score was huge - 77, compared to a target of 65.

At this point I wondered about the wisdom of continuing to play the campaign - 77 points is enough to claim a win, and each game is similar to all of the previous ones. I wanted to see what occupation John would learn next, so I continued. So we're in Game 7 - John has 6 permanent occupation cards and only gets dealt one occupation. Luckily it was useful - the Mason. He gives you a free stone room once when you have 4 stone rooms. I realised that gave me an opportunity - if I was going to get a room for free, I could pay for one less, and if I declined to build the wooden one I'd been doing I could use wood earlier in the game for fencing.

I started with 6 food, so I didn't need to work to feed my family in Phase 1. I was able to plow 4 fields and sow 3. I got to work on the house-building in Phase 1, but still couldn't fit a Family Growth into Phase 2. I did have fences built by the end of Phase 2, and by the end of Phase 3 had a 3 room clay cottage with a fenced sheep yard and a kid looking after them. I immediately built another clay room, and added another kid, and then with all my stone renovated and with my secret masonic powers made a new room appear. With 3 rounds to go in the game I had my full family and 5 room house, with several ovens. It was then a matter of waiting for the resources to come out and to milk them for as many points as possible. I made it a policy to add a Major Improvement each round, and ended up with a Clay Oven, Well, Stone Oven, Baker's Oven, Basketmaker, Pottery, Quarry and Clogs. Yes, I did give an oven back when I built the Baker's Oven - I built the Stone Oven twice.

John was clearly now some sort of superman - doing 7 jobs at once and adding massive improvements onto his house with a snap of his fingers. I decided then that that would be the end of John's career - clearly nothing is beyond him now, and he can't get any more occupations in the 8th game of the campaign.

I'll start a new campaign soon, if this Christmas thing will give me a chance.

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