I wanted another go at Chicago Express but Van expressed her preference for Endeavor. It was our third go at the game within a week and I failed to emerge victorious yet again. Nonetheless, it was a good learning experience. Firstly, I realized that I had been undervaluing connections. I also assumed from my previous play that shipping wasn't as important as occupation since it didn't nab you a glory point at the end of the game. My undervaluation led to Van opening up a region singlehandedly (she dominated the entire shipping lane), which game her exclusive access to the cities and the region's cards. Not a smart move at all...
Next, I taught them Ages of Empire III. It was clear that they hadn't been over for some time because I had a bunch of games they had never played before. AOEIII has been a revelation, and despite it taking 2 or more hours at times, it was a game that never 'felt' overly long. This was my first go with 4 players, and while it did stretch the game out more, the added tightness of the game was admittedly appealing. I doubt I would want to try with 5 though - think the added game length would likely lead to diminishing utility at that point.
I went for a military strategy this time round since my first capital building gave me an extra soldier every turn. This gave me an edge in terms of area majority points. Van focused on trade goods and Wai Mun, discovery. I ended up with the capital building which awarded 4 points per merchant ships. That probably gave me the victory as all in all, I accumulated 5 in all. With more players, specialization is unavoidable and probably wise too, though it is probably still necessary to focus on at least 2 areas.
For our last game of the night, Van opted for Glory to Rome. I ended up with an absolutely ridiculous combo. Started out with the Temple (+4 hand), followed with the Scriptorium (complete any building with 1 marble) which allowed me Bridge, Colosseum and Palisade in a blaze. None of them managed to build the Wall which meant that with every play of Legionary, assuming the cards were available, I could take a matching card from:
1. The common pool
2. My opponents' hand
3. Their stockpile (in addition effect of the Bridge)
4. Their client, with the card going straight into my vault (thanks to the Colosseum)
It was simply devastating as my Bridge made my Legionary play applicable to all opponents, not just my neighbours, plus it rendered their Palisades useless. Van cried foul at the brokenness of the combo, but I assured her that it was perfectly legitimate. I probably should have avoided playing Legionary a second time with my victory more or less secured as Van was visibly upset when I did so. This was understandable as between the two of us, I have always been the gamer while Van has always gamed for its social aspect. Our game night ended on a somewhat awkward note but it was a good lesson for me - be conscious of who you are gaming with or else you may not have them as gaming partners much longer!