We started the game once Marcus arrived and it wasn't clear in the early going who was going to emerge with an advantage. My early buildings were unimpressive and I basically started building with whatever cards I had in hand to gain some influence points. Marcus on the other hand was quietly completing his Scriptorium which he learnt from his last game with me that it allowed the completion of multiple buildings with a marble material each.
The breakthrough came when he used that ability to complete his Colosseum. I was more prepared for it this time round and started building my Palisade (Immune to Legionary) though it was only completed after Marcus had a turn at my clientele. He managed an early lead over the rest of us by stashing a couple of cards in his vault that very turn.
However, the killer blow came when he used his Scriptorium to complete a Prision which he in turn used to steal my Bridge. While I gained 3 additional influence points, it didn't make the loss any less painful. I built it in hope of breaching Van's Palisade but my failure to keep an eye on Marcus's buildings allowed it to be stolen and used again me.
The consequences were devastating. He now not only could overcome my Palisade but also steal from every players' clientele, including Van's who was sitting opposite him. The vault points he racked up easily steered him to victory while the rest of us were left in the dust. My decision not to build the Wall early in the game but instead use it as concrete came back to haunt me.
The final scores were 45 (Marcus), 31 (me), 20+ (Shouqin) and 14 (Van) respectively.
I was keen to get Princes of Florence out as the next game since it was rare that we had 4 at a session. However Shouqin needed to leave within an hour so we opted for Ra instead. Marcus and Shouqin were new to the game but picked it up quickly. Ra has simple mechanics but the tricky bit is to valuate the tiles appropriately in light of not just their scoring but also the proximity to the end of the epoch (round).
I had a small lead after the first epoch but the other players exited early in the 2nd epoch and left me to draw freely with 4 Ra spaces yet unfilled. I had good draws and managed to take 2 full displays with only one disaster tile with my remaining 2 number chips. This built me a comfortable lead and I took the game with 51 points. Marcus, Shouqin and Van had 42, 25 and 23 points respectively.
Shouqin had to leave after the game, and Marcus stayed back for a round of Red November. I was keen to give the game another shot after our last attempt at the 2-player variant. Playing with 3 was definitely easier than our last attempt with 4 gnomes. Marcus drank 2 grogs early and rode his luck for half the game. He eventually failed a faint check and got trapped in a room which caught fire. That spelled his doom. Van and I on the hand managed to experience our first rescue as we worked together to deal with the remaining problems. We almost succumbed to the expiry of the heat track on the last turn but survived.
While we ended on a good note, Van was clearly not impressed by the game. Guess it's headed for the trade pile...