Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lost Valley: the importance of mountain gold

Over the weekend, my wife and I found time to fit in one game of Lost Valley.

Both of us have a preference for games where you can work on your own position to a large degree - especially my wife. Lost Valley is not this type of game; one of the primary strategies for doing well is in taking advantage of other people's work. But when we play together, we try to play so that each of us stays on our own side of the river. The only time we played on the same side, the river had curved straight down on my side, seriously hindering me from doing anything useful. In that case, we agreed to both play on her side.

In our weekend play, we stuck with our own sides. This time around, many things worked to her advantage. She gained forest land (necessary for acquiring timber) on her side earlier than I did. But her greatest advantage was that she had 3 mining sites to work with for most of the game. On the other hand, my side was plentiful with river gold. Those who have played Lost Valley will know that mountain gold (gained by mining) is much more valuable that river gold.

Her mines were making me nervous. I was afraid I would never be able to make enough gold to compete. I only had one mine on my side. Once I had tapped that single mine out of its gold, I new it was time to work at that river gold. I already had a fishing pole, but I wanted to gain food more rapidly, so I also purchased a fish trap from the trading lodge. The downside with river gold, on top of its low value, is that you have to build canals to it. So, using my ax, I chopped enough timber to build all the necessary canals to reach all of my river gold locations. At that point, my only option was to hurry and fish, then pan for river gold, and repeat. Meanwhile, she was pulling chunk after chunk out of her mines.

Here's what my side looked like:

Here's what her side looked like:

Looking at her face-down gold stash compared to my own told me early on who would win. Nevertheless I kept grabbing that river gold. The problem was, each time I expectantly flipped over another river gold tile, I only dug up a single piece of gold. Again, and again, and again. Where were all the 2-gold pieces?!!

Once she had 10 pieces in her gold stash, she rushed to the trading lodge and ended the game. I counted my meager gatherings - 20 gold. 7 of my 11 pieces were a single piece of gold. This, on the other hand, was her card at the end of the game:

She had brought in 33 gold. Stacked on top of her skill at Lost Valley, she had managed to explore the good half of the land, bringing her a hefty win. Once again, I was reminded that, to win this game, you must be a collector of mountain gold.

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