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Cities around the desert!

Boring self-aggrandizing game geekery ahead:

Gamer's Guild has a joke houserule about automatically winning Catan if you build 3 cities around the desert. I verified this was a joke by doing so tonight, though as it happens I won anyway. It all made sense, though.

Desert in the inner tier of tiles. First to build, picked 5-10-9 stone-stone-wheat. Last to build... there were better places pip-wise than the 4-3 wood-brick I chose, but none that would give me those cards, and being able to build a road out the gate is nice. The obvious candidates to build next were 5/ocean/3:1 port, 8 wheat around the desert, 5 sheep around the desert. I went for the wheat, then sheep (my only sheep), picking up more wood and clay, and the port last. Perfectly natural settlements around the desert. First city was the stone-wheat triple, duh! But second? The 5 just turns 3 stones into 4 stones, doesn't give anything else, and risks getting suppressed as an attractive nuisance. Desert cities at least doubled two tiles each, thus not being squelchable by the robber. Thus, cities around the desert. Finally won with a breakout road, and a last settlement -- rolled a 7, but I had a year of plenty in my hand, and might have had enough cards to win anyway, didn't check; would have needed 11 cards total, losing 5 to keep wood wheat sheep and 3 stone to turn into brick. Alternately, the next dev card was a VP, though of course I didn't know that.

It was a close game, two others were one VP card or settlement away from victory, and the last guy still had 8 VPs. Started slow since inland deserts often do that, plus we rolled a ridiculous number of 7s -- discarded all the ones in the first two turns, which was a lot. Later the game picked up, though often was choked for brick or wood at various times, though it really oscillated -- I'd go from having 4 wheat and clay each to having no clay and needing it.

anima got a solid lock on largest army without any natural stone, just by buying it with clay or other stuff. P. never had 3:1 till the end, but still did pretty well trading in sheep, sheep, sheep, and sheep.

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Damien Sullivan
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