One of the keys in this game is being the first player to rush to 5 settlements. There is a odd number of settlements in the game and therefore the slower player has to make do with 4 settlements, but more significantly, 2 resource patches less. This is critical since the game revolves around the use of resources. There had been only one game when I won the race to 5, and this was no different. I struggled obtaining the right resources to expand quickly enough but what went my way was the brutal draw Van had in acquiring her new resources patches. We were both without the Scout cards which allowed a selection of resource patches and I ended with 3 coal mines to her 1. This was BIG as coal is typically of growing importance as the game progresses.
Unknown to me though was this game had a Border Dispute card which allowed the player with the knight token to exchange any duplicate resource patch for one of his opponent's, together with the resources on it. Van got an early lead in terms of knight strength points and played not one, but TWO Border Dispute cards to rob me of 2 of my coal mines. That spelled the beginning of the end as I battled in vain to claw back the disadvantage. She took the game relatively easy, 13-8.
The other card of interest which I failed to built but would definitely be a contender in my tournament deck is the Palace. It allows for a card from the discard pile to be retrieved during every Year of Plenty roll in exchange for one free resource.
4 expansion decks down, 2 to go...