Had a face-to-face game day back on the 21st. Mark and Jason came over to join me and Dave, with the headline game being a second try at Root. Random selection gave me the Woodland Alliance again, Jason got the Eyrie again, while Mark got Marquise de Cat, and Dave the Vagabond.

I remembered the slow start I had last time, and only partially avoided it this time. Mark put a large force into the clearing I had already figured was going to be my first base, and knocked out two buildings, and something like six-eight warriors on the uprising. I never got a lot done after that, feeling a constant pinch on cards, though I gained a few from outrage. I declined to take any extra officers for a long while, which was probably a mistake, since it’s hard to do much with only one military action.

Jason also took a bit to get going (and wrap his head around the Decree), not building any extra roosts for a while. However, he cleared the Marquise from a decent chunk of the board, and once he did start building, started raking in the points. The Decree collapsed once, setting him back 5 VPs, but he gaining 4 per turn at that point, and would have soon passed the rest of the pack.

Dave took the Tinker as the Vagabond, and quickly explored the four ruins. He got set back a bit mid-game by a strong attack from the Eyrie (who needed a battle, didn’t have other targets available) that damaged three items. But he was already well enough off that this was a very temporary slowdown.

Mark as the Marquise benefited from a lot of aid from the Vagabond, as they were nicely available all over the board, and Dave pushed up to an alliance with them, and started milking the VPs out of it. On-board build of buildings seemed a little slow, but he did a lot of recruiting, leading to half the board being a extensive armed camp.

Overall, I think the game went better this time, and Mark enjoyed it. I’m not sure of Jason’s thoughts, but Dave really enjoyed playing the Vagabond. Which might be a problem, as I’m sure everyone else would like a chance at it. Jason/Eyrie was in last at 13 VPs, but was gaining them fast, I’d managed to get up 16 after being a bit stalled, which Mark had hit 17 at a very steady pace. Dave shot up over the last few turns to get to the goal of 30 as he got going on the quests.

I tended to forget about the card cost of moving into my sympathy at first, which is important, as cycling cards is the chokepoint of the Alliance. I was feeding more into my supporters this time, which helped, but I was still too slow. I think the Alliance needs to get a base or two as early as possible, and not worry about keeping them longer than needed to pump up the card draws.

That took us to a bit after lunch (which was a bit earlier than usual). After that, we tried out Ticket to Ride, which Mark got as an ‘office game’. It’s not a bad basic train game, with the choice between taking cards and using them, and needing sets of various sizes to do anything. The usual things of bigger sets scoring better, and having some longer-term goals are pretty par for the course.

None of us got around to grabbing more destination cards during play. I contemplated it, but didn’t want to complicate things, and stuck with just the beginning two that I’d already gotten. Most early activity was near the east coast and midwest, with nothing built on the west coast until past the halfway point. VPs shifted back and forth while sets were put down, and everybody made their route cards. Mine were only mid-range, so I lost more ground on that than I had supposed, and Mark got the longest route bonus to win at 112 VP, Dave got to 96, I had 84, and Jason was at 80 (he had smaller destination cards than I).

It was fun enough for a light game, but looking at it made me regret never having my own copy of Empire Builder or the other crayon-rail games, which I would rate as more fun.

We finished up the day with a partial round of Braggart, since there wasn’t enough time to get through the full deck. But it brushed the dust off, so we might remember more next time. I had a couple of good rounds… but someone else would do better, so I never actually won a round, despite having put together a couple of good sets.

Jason did well on a couple of rounds to win at 35 VP, Mark did well while I wasn’t noticing to get 27, Dave got 22, and I was stuck down at 19.