I finally managed to break my duck against Van in the tournament format of the Catan Card Card. To think of it, this is only my 2nd win out of 13 plays, inclusive of basic and expanded games - a clearly dismal record. And while I thought I was doing rather well throughout, the final score was closer than I thought, with me eking out the victory 13-11. My last 2 victory points came from snatching the Knight token from Van by playing Samsor the black dragon with 6 strength points (fortunately for me, Van hadn't managed to get her Cannon into play) and building the Merchant's Guild Hall, having managed to sift out and build the Harbour (pre-requisite) a few rounds earlier.
I revamped my deck for this game but went for a primarily magic strategy with harbour and fleet cards in hope of at least being competitive with regards to the commerce/windmill token. I also reduced the number of buildings in my deck in view of the space constraints I anticipated (Van as usual got to the 5th settlement first). I built 2 citadels this time round instead of 1 and used the Materialization action card twice (regained it from the discard pile after the first use with the help of Knowledge of the Ancients) to upgrade the 2 other settlements to cities at a low cost of 1 magic point each. With 2 citadels and 3 wizards in toll, I managed to built the Stone of Wisdom which reaped me another 2 victory points, leaving only 3 more necessary for the win.
Van had an early advantage and tournament points and benefitted substantially from it. I on the other hand, gained from occassions when the Year of Plenty was rolled on the Event die, with me gained 2 additional gold each time, thanks to my Toll Station. At one point, I got 2 gold and 3 resources from a Year of Plenty roll when I completed my Treasure fleet - that gave me sufficient resources to obtain the remaining VPs required.
We agreed to allow each other access to our drafted cards not used for the next game, which means there will probably one or two tweaks we need to make with my deck before we go at it again. Hopefully, this will be the start of more closely-fought games between the two of us.