For the third time this year, I got to play Indonesia. This time with 5 players. Joining me were Matthew Frederick, Amelia Boli, Mike Gingold, and Nathan Winchester. Mike and Nathan had not played before while Amelia, Matthew and I had just a couple games played of this. After a quick cover of the rules, we were off. I started out with a shipping company, then promptly screwed myself by not taking slots for additional companies, nor extra hull space. While this shouldn't kill you, these early mistakes put me behind and I never recovered. Mike joined me early in shipping while Matthew played strongly with rice and spice. Amelia had a combo with shipping and rice, and Nathan also had shipping and spice going. We moved into the B phase almost immediately, and I managed to NOT snag anything but more shipping which sealed the deal for me. Matthew and Amelia looked to be taking over the game, but Matthew made a couple critical errors in bidding for turn order and fell apart mid to end game. He gathered himself together, but by then had lost a HUGE shipping line to Nathan who prospered by shipping spice and rubber at will while Matthew's SIAP FAJI company was formed too late to bring him back. The last round was particularly painful as Nathan made huge chunks of cash AND extra cash from others having to use his crazy shipping lanes. Final scores were: Nathan 1582, Amelia 1485, Matthew 1157, Mike 955, Charles 881. I got screwed in the last round by not being able to ship 3 of my oil, costing me another 240. Not that it would have helped at all, but it was typical of how the game went for me :)
So, how did this 5 player game go? Its interesting, but I think 5 players played out faster than the 4 player game. There seemed to be more cities on the board and the companies disappeared faster. The game was about 3.5 hours with rules (and slow Matthew - ha). My previous 4 player games were about an hour longer I think. What also seemed to happen (probably due to the speed of the game) was that companies didn't grow into huge beasts. Thus, shipping was not really as viable as way to make cash - the longer shipments really just didn't happen because the short routes, once taken, were all that was needed. We had a couple cities become yellow (sized 2) immediately and then nearly no growth until the end of the game when one of those became red. Again, not much of a surprise with the speed with which good types were hitting the board and the lack of company size keeping some goods from spreading out across the map. Really, quite different with five players from four. Some things still held true (and were more important with the smaller companies) - rubber and SIAP FAJI are key. The ability to make more cash quickly is killer. Oil had two rounds to make money, the last being the double round, so it was almost required to grab a viable oil company, but it wasn't in play long enough to be as critical as the other ones. We didn't see SIAP FAJI until a bit later in the game as mergers didn't come into play early on, but with 5-players, I think this was probably a good thing.