Game Night at the Condo
Tonight ended an 8-day marathon that included 5 game sessions. I don't think I'll see that again any time soon. A lot of really fun favorites were played, as well as some great new games. It's no fun going anywhere when it's 5°F (-15°C) outside, but for gaming, I'll deal with it.
I only brought this on a whim, but it seemed to be the game of choice. 2 had played before, and 3 had not. It's getting easier to teach every time. One thing that I did not make clear, however, was how the regions are differentiated. There's a subtle background on the board that's very easy to overlook. Once it's pointed out, it's obvious. I will make sure to describe that next time.
As before, I tried to play the connectivity game, while at the same time, go for the Princess card. My connectivity was sketchy, and I didn't get the Princess until about turn 7. At that point, I was in the middle of the pack with no goods whatsoever. The player in the lead was cleaning house with goods. I managed to get a couple of big connection scores to put me well into 2nd place, but I was still 15 points or more short of the winner.
This game gets better every time I play it. I think I'll have to bump it up again, but I don't know how far yet. When I analyze the mechanisms, I'm surprised I like it as much as I do. It's got pretty heavy chaos coupled with simultaneous action selection. You can play pretty conservatively and have nothing ever go wrong, but that is not the road to victory. The great things about Maharaja are the future planning, changing the future, and changing the present.
You can plan for the future by not worrying too much about the current city. Build palaces or houses ahead a city or 2. Build houses along paths players are likely to take.
You can change the future by adjusting the governor track. This can score you easy money if you have strong influence elsewhere, leaving you with another action to do things elsewhere.
You can change the present by careful switching of roles, or when a player takes your role. If you have the 6 tile and a player takes it, you can take the 1 tile and go next as opposed to last, etc.
I really enjoy the risk taking. In this last game, I had the 6 tile, 23 gold, and selected "Build Palace" for both of my actions. I was hoping that some player would have to cross one of my houses and give me a gold so I could actually perform both of my build actions. The player with the 1 tile did not have to pay me anything, and took my 6 tile! I was no longer going last. At this point my tile choices were 1, 2, and 4. Although I didn't need the 4 tile, I chose it so the player with the 3 tile would have to go before me. I got really lucky; he was unable to complete his "Build Palace and House" action, so we all got 2 gold from the bank. Bling!
3 of the 4 of us built our 7th palace on the same turn. Money broke the tie. I came in 2nd again.
Taj Mahal image by garyjames