I suggested drafting for cards. It involved a simple draft where I would open 2 cards at a time where each of us would alternately get the first pick of the cards, while the remaining card would go to the other. After all the cards were allocated, we then picked the requisite 33 cards from the pile of cards we acquired. Once chosen, we would exchange our remaining pile of unwanted cards for the other to switch any cards if so desired.
I built a knights and magic intensive deck with a several low cost knights, several cards from the Wizards and Dragons expansion deck and cards focused on enhancing ore and gold production. On the other hand, Van had a number of nice trade fleets and cards that enhanced her commerce advantage. Expectedly, I took the lost 8-13.
In retrospect, it was probably unwise for me to bank so much on the magic cards when Van had the better spells and magic action cards. She wisely only used her magic on Materialization (which reaped her a cheap city upgrade) and Magic Kitchen (which allowed her to gamble on easy resource gains). I struggled with resource production, once again losing the race to the fifth settlement. Van held on to the commerce token for practically the whole game and while I did nab a couple of resources from tournament event rolls, she finally snatched the knight token from me in the final round thanks to her Cannon with 6 strength points. It was a strong move in view of her University and allowed her a leap in strength points for only 2 resources. I was complacent with my lead in strength points and failed to put my Dragon in play earlier.
Despite my loss, I enjoyed the Tournament game significantly. It played much faster thanks to the much more useful cards that cycled through our hands. In the Expanded game, there was a tendency to draw cards that you didn't need due to the large number of cards in play. Additionally, it was interesting to build a deck with various combos even though I clearly had much to learn in that aspect. I suggested to Van after the game that in our future games, the winner will be allowed an opportunity to pick any one card from the opponent's deck for his or her own use. Figured that would give us added incentive for the win. I already know the first card I'll pick if I win - Materialization. Although looking at my poor win-lose record against Van (1-7), she shouldn't have problems holding on to that card of hers, or would she?