Sunday, July 22, 2007

I Finally Lost At Pillars Of The Earth

There's a board game called Pillars of the Earth, based on a novel by Ken Follet. It's an efficiency game where each player gathers resources and hires craftsmen in order to "contribute to the construction of the Cathedral". The craftsmen turn resources into victory points, and as the game goes on you can hire better, more efficient craftsmen in an effort to more efficiently make that conversion and in the end, earn the most VPs.

I like the game quite a bit, and until last night the worst I've done is tie for 1st. Sadly, last night's game did not bode well for me. It ended up a very close game between Eric, Michael and myself - 2 points separated 1st and 2nd place, and 2 more separated 2nd and 3rd.There were several instances where Eric thwarted my play, either on purpose or incidentally, but I was able to hang on to a good game... I think the reason I lost boiled down to a particularly big mistake I made in round 5, when I hired a craftsman and had to fire one I already had. I had taken the Tool Maker in the first round, and should have chosen to discard him as he'd long outlived any usefulness he'd had, but instead I discarded the starting Woodworker. This was a huge mistake because I was employing 2 Carpenters, who could convert 5 wood between them. I should have known I would need to buy wood from the market, which I could not do after discarding the Woodworker.

It may have been a mistake to take the Tool Maker at all - that craftsman isn't particularly good... but we were playing with a house rule that he earns 2 gold per metal owned, as opposed to simply 2 gold if you own any metal, and Eric already had the first round Woodworker (who changes Wood into money, our house rule was that the exchange is for $3, not $4). Eric also went into the Tax Shelter space first (so he'd get a metal cube), and I couldn't bear to see him get the new and improved Tool Maker as well as the Woodworker. I stand by that decision as being "not that bad," though through course of circumstance I didn't end up getting any Metal until round 3 or 4.

It was actually a really good game of Pillars and I enjoyed it very much - even if I didn't end up winning. Unfortunately, even though he won, Eric is certain that he doesn't like the way the game works in some respects. He probably won't play it with me very often.

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