St. Petersburg >> First Impressions
I finally got around to trying St. Petersburg out for the first time last night. I know, I know, it's highly rated and been out for a while... But I had always been a bit skeptical by comments I had heard about the game -- that the rich get richer, that initial luck of the draw on the first turn is huge, that the game feels (gasp) broken, etc.
Trey Dembski (yayforme) was kind enough to teach me how to play. Other than reading a few reviews online, I had never read the rules, and knew nothing about the actual gameplay. I have to say, having a great teacher goes a long way toward enjoying a game. Trey and I played through a few dummy rounds of the game as he explained rules and tried to convey some of the strategies and how to evaluate the strengths of different cards or actions. Then we re-set the game and played for real.
I focused more on smaller incremental VP gains, thinking that in the long run, earning 1-2 extra VPs every turn over the course of the entire game would add up, rather than holding off for the larger 5+ VP cards that you only need in play for a few turns to offset their costs. It ended up costing me in the long run, as Trey was constantly flush with money and I was struggling to add cards each phase... The final score was 107 to 87, which I felt pretty good about for my first game.
The real puzzler for me was that during setup and instruction, Trey had mentioned the game was reminiscent of Hansa, another game I enjoy a great deal. At first, I didn't see it. At all. But over the course of the game, as Trey's suggestions and advice started to click (and I finally started to see the trickle down effects of some of the game's decisions), I slowly understood the Hansa reference.
My first few games of Hansa actually did feel quite a bit like my first game of St. Petersburg. I was so caught up on my own turns and actions, that I failed to see how I may be setting my opponents up for a good turn, or that I can actually help steer the course of the game with my current turn to help position myself for a better future turn. Once I saw this interconnectedness of actions, my enjoyment and opinion of St. Petersburg increased.
Current Rating: 7.0
Interesting decisions and quick, simple gameplay. I can see why people grow frustrated with initial draws for cash. At first, I felt the game suffered greatly from "rich get richer" problems -- but over the course of gameplay (and thanks to an excellent instructor) I began to appreciate the ability to block opponent's moves and steer the course of action to mitigate these effects. In essence, the rich only get richer if you let 'em! Definitely warrants additional playings, as strategies finally started to click.