Age of Empires III
I stole victory by a hair's breath from Vanessa. It was the first game for Lijie and he seemed to enjoy himself, despite expressing initial reservations regarding the rules. I was surprised to win with Vanessa gaining the upper hand in colonization. Lijie had a nice collection of trade goods and far surpassed us in terms of merchant ships obtained. It forced me to take the Age III capital building with the Merchant Ship bonus despite only having 2, but a failure to do so would have simply handed him the game. However, his late foray into colonization meant that he failed to score adequate VPs to challenge Van and I. I figured my success boiled down to a well diversified strategy. I wasn't exceptional in any aspect but did well enough not to fall behind. Once again, I enjoyed the game and while it took about 2 hours, none of us felt it took as long - clearly a mark of a good game. While I have only played with 3, it makes me wonder whether I would favour the game with more players since it would surely add to the game length with more workers to place.
The next game I brought to the table was China. On this 2nd play, we actually managed to place a lot more emissaries, even maxing out the capacity in some provinces. I put it down to us playing more 2 cards turn rather than using our full hand of 3. As such, the deck was drawn down more slowly, and allowed us to focus on placing emissaries after most of the house vacancies have been filled. The emissary aspect of the game was also rather interesting as the capacity is limited by the majority in each province. This meant that large provinces and those dominated by a single colour became potential for high scoring. I realized this late and Lijie took Van and I to the cleaners, trumping us by 10+ points, despite it being his first play. Nonetheless, my impression of the game has further improved after this play and with its quick play time, I can see myself bringing it to the table on a regular basis. Buying it 2nd hand for S$25 was an absolute steal, thanks Sng!
Fang Ting and her friend, Ju Lee joined us at this point and not certain of Ju Li's appetite for heavier games, I decided to start us off with Liar's Dice. It was good fun and I see its potential as a casual game for large groups, in addition to Puno.
We went out in the order: FT, JL, LJ and finally myself. The final match-up was I with a single die against Van with her original 5 - it was clear that I didn't stand a chance.
Princes of Florence
With 5, I turned to my trusty PoF to further cement its status as a gateway gamer's game. While initially perturbed during the rules explanation, it appeared that the 3 guests enjoyed themselves. It was nice to get another go at PoF which is only 1 of 2 games that I rate a 10, yet seldom appears at the table as I'm often unwilling to play it with any less than the optimal 5 players. I beat Van by 2 points, thanks to a base price Jester that I obtained towards the end game, and producing a total of 6 works. I also managed to fulfill my 7 point Prestige card for most forests with only 2.
After Fang Ting and Ju Lee left, the 3 of us managed to squeeze in a game of Fairy Tale before leaving for dinner. Despite putting it up for trade, I was keen to give it another go with the correct rules. I had misinterpreted the rules previously that "You Flip One" meant that you got to flip an opponent's card. I then realized after reading up the BGG forum that you had to flip one of your own. While it made sense that high point cards required you to pay the penalty of flipping one of your other cards, it also meant that there was even less interaction in the game than I previously assumed. While the game flowed more smoothly this time round, I still failed to see its appeal on BGG. But Van was showing her talent at the game, winning again - this time with the correct rules.