So Wednesday rolled round again and with it a chance to play Terra Mystica as a three player. Not wanting to eat into the playing time by going over the rules I unboxed the game and went through the copious rules with Paul hoping that his eyes wouldn't glaze over too quickly. To his credit he lasted to the end of my detailed run through.
Despite this, the evening was understandably punctuated by rule book clarifications, if only to back up my answers. The 30 minutes per person playing time stretched to a 2 and a half hour game as a consequence. The factions selected were Mermaids for James, Nomads for Paul and Witches for me, again, each taken without any real idea as to how to play them. Inevitable as we are in that initial phase of a game where strategy is being discovered through play. Context of moves and impact of accruing scores are only realised at the end when you are staring at the board wondering where it all went wrong.
In direct opposition to the games intended design each of us placed our initial dwellings well away from our opponents. This allowed for some easy growth in various directions but did mean that gathering power (One of the games currencies) was a little restricted. James again had a nice handle on preparing his moves to coincide with collecting the round bonuses whilst I concentrated on the cult track and Paul on building dwellings everywhere.
The first 4 rounds skipped by fairly quickly with James keeping his nose in front but as we started to ramp up the workers and power the final two rounds started to drag on as each player tried to squeeze as many moves in as they could. Your options are plenty and as I found out in my final round there is a preferred order to your moves if you can see it. If this game is any indication money seems to be the most sought after resource. By going out first in the last two rounds James was able to select the money option and leave it tight for the rest of us, additionally his clever manipulation of his resources and spotting of scoring opportunities allowed him to gain victory points on both the cult track and the main scoring. Enough to claim a win even after coming 3rd in the largest territory competition.
James - 98
Chris - 94
Paul - 77
Staring at the board afterwards there was a feeling that although it was epic, was it enjoyable? Nobody was indicating that they were looking forward to the next instalment. As an experience, it certainly feels like the game is playing you rather than the other way around. The jury is still out on this one.